I have long argued that jihad is primarily seen as a non-violent duty by the majority of the world's muslims. That simple truth is proved daily by the failure of one billion muslims rising up across the world in violence. But there IS a legitimate violent interpretation of jihad - the defense of faith.
If the US enters Najaf, then there will be a legitimate jihad. The cause of resistance to an invasion of Najaf will be a just one.
It will break my heart.
I don't want a single hair on a single soldier harmed. They are my American brothers, this is my nation, and they are not my enemy. But Najaf is the city of Ali AS. I cannot and will not fault those who live there from taking up arms to defend the holy shrine. There is no cause to invade Najaf - none. The responsibility for the decision will lie upon one man - George W. Bush - but its consequences will lie upon the soldiers of my nation, and he will escape judgement for the time being.
Events once set in motion often cannot be undone. Invading Najaf is a nexus point. Remember it, for history will pay great attention to it in hindsight.
I may have to cease blogging entirely, cease reading entirely, cease doing any political analysis entirely, if this happens. I cannot bear it.
UPDATE: Andrew writes with a good question about my attitude towards Muqtada Sadr and his claim to the mantle of a defender of the faith:
I just read your last entry and was wondering whether as a Shi'ite you would see Sadr as a defender of the Shi'ite holy places or as an interloper who seized control of them from the rightful religious hierarchy without any authority save that of his own aggrandizement.
Absolutely not - I agree with the assessment of Sadr as a craven opportunist. However, the sentiment to which he has attached himself, parasitically, is a valid one. I see an assault on Najaf (unlike the liberation of Najaf last year) as being legitimately interpreted as an assault on faith, and anyone who fights to defend it as having a legitimate claim to performing true jihad (unlike suicide terrorists attacking innocent Jews).
I should also clarify that I myself do NOT think an assault on Najaf would be an assault on Islam, but that is my personal feeling and interpretation based on my own bias as an American ans other biases from being Bohra which are not relevant here. But to the Shi'a living in Najaf, I cannot fault them from drawing such a conclusion any more than I can fault those Americans who think 9-11 symbolized an assault upon Western ideals.
As usual, I find myself on both sides, paralyzed utterly.