Justin Parrott on his FB writes: One of the Islamic terms misused by extremists, either for or against Islam, is the classical legal designation of a territory as “the land of war” (dar al-ḥarb). The conventional and mistaken thinking among Orientalists was that the “land of Islam” (dar al-Islām) was perpetually at war with the outside world of unbelievers until they came under the political control of Muslims.
Jihadist extremists like ISIS copied this kind of thinking and they reinterpreted classical Islamic legalese in highly-ideological terms and under the influence of Marxist and fascist revolutionaries, which is how they put a pseudo-Islamic veneer over their open call on the internet to commit acts of terrorism against nearly anyone in the world for any reason. In reality, the term dar al-ḥarb, besides being a derivative not stated in the Quran or Sunnah, was more *descriptive* than it was *prescriptive*.
That is, dar al-ḥarb was the description of a land in which it was unsafe to practice Islam. It was telling Muslims it was dangerous to go there. It was NOT a prescription to attack a peaceful neighboring country just because they had a different religion. The majority of jurists said non-Muslims are only fought if they declare war (ḥirābah) first, as per verse 2:190. Moreover, the jurists frequently employed the term “land of conciliation” (dar al-ṣulḥ) to describe neighboring lands that had peaceful relations with Muslims.
The abuse of archaic terms like dar al-ḥarb are key principles in both the Islamophobic and Jihadist ideologies. Although their goals are ostensibly opposed, they both are working towards a “clash of civilizations” as a means to bolster their own domestic agendas. We’ll keep trying to dismantle this ideology in our writings, piece by piece, God willing.