The Knives are Out! (And Have Been for Long Time)

One weekend, two knife attacks in major European cities – London and The Hague. Obviously this is no coincidence. I suspect, however, that few people will realize what deep historical roots such random stabbing frenzies have in Islam’s past.

The Kharijites was a hugely influential early (7th century onwards) group of discontents within the ‘House of Islam’ who were convinced that the Muslim community was straying from the purity that existed during the time of Muhammad. They firmly believed that what the world really needed was a state wherein, as their catch-cry incessantly repeated, there would be ‘No judgement but Allah’s!

And how exactly was this lofty goal to be achieved? Here is how a historian of the movement, Muhamad bin Ahmad al-Malati, described their modus operandi: “…they would ‘go out with their swords into the markets while people would stand around not realising what was happening; they would shout “no judgement except God!” and plunge their blades into whomever they could reach, and go on killing until they themselves were killed’. Sound familiar?

ISIS, which can in many ways be seen as the modern-day descendants of the Kharijites, was not slow to learn the lesson. Here is, for example, an exhortation from the April 2016 issue of their online magazine, Dabiq: “One must either make the journey to dar-al-Islam, joining the ranks of the mujahidin or wage jihad by himself with the resources available to him (knives, guns, explosives etc.) to kill the crusaders and other disbelievers and apostates…

Over the next few days we will probably be ‘treated’ to multiple theories to try and explain the sudden surge in random knife attacks. Some of these will, no doubt, work very hard to get Islam off the hook by blaming alienation, psychological stress or western foreign policy. As you read these, remember that there is indeed nothing new under the sun! We are faced with an ancient ideology, that uses tried and tested methods. We must get to grips with this fact and target all our attention to defeating its truth-claims if we want the knives to go back in their sheaths.


For more on the role of the key texts of Islam in motivating violence see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot


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