Opening the Door to Muslim Dissidents

22 Nov 2014:

“When presidents say Islam is a religion of peace,” former George W. Bush advisor Elliot Abrams said at a forum on Monday, “the average American thinks this is crap.”

Presidents Bush and Obama both publicly declared Islam to be a religion of peace, which has struck a sour chord for many. Far better, Abrams said, for American leaders to ask, “Is there something in Islam that has led some Muslims to behave in a way that we consider to be terrible? And what’s the debate in Islam?” It is this last question that signals what may prove to be the most important weapon in the ever-escalating battle between the West and ISIS.

To date, American and Western leaders have preemptively shut down any debate within Islam by declaring that Islam is the religion of peace and that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. In so doing, Western governments have effectively shut the door on those Muslims who dare to dissent, who suggest reform rather than radicalism as the solution to Islam’s ills. The result is that the Islamists are running the show, from Iraq to Syria to Libya to Iran.

During the Cold War, U.S. support for Soviet and Eastern European dissidents was a decisive factor in breaking the Soviet Union’s grip over much of the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, American support came primarily from private groups and individuals. But President Reagan understood that support to dissidents could be decisive in the battle. If dissidents received moral and material support from the West, it would help to prove that Soviet domination was not inevitable and that the so-called Forces of History were in fact reversible. Thus, engaging in the war of ideas became a key component of the Reagan doctrine.

Today, no one has heard of the Muslim dissidents, the reformers. They certainly are not invited to the White House. That privilege is reserved for the heads of CAIR and ISNA and MAS.

To date, one man has helped to get the voices of dissidents heard. Stephen Ulph started his career studying terrorism. A Brit, he was a founder and former editor of Terrorism Security Monitor and editor and analyst for Islamic Affairs, published by Jane’s Information Group. But his fluency in various Middle Eastern languages eventually brought him into contact with some of the Middle East’s dissident voices. He understood their importance in the fight against terrorism, and it then became his mission to support them and bring their voices to a Western audience. He created the website http://www.almuslih.org, The Reformer, where he publishes their articles in both English and Arabic. Mr. Ulph brought a small group of reformers together in December 2012 in Rome, a meeting I had the privilege to attend. Most were familiar with each other’s work, but they had never met each other.

The voices within the reformist movement are wide-ranging. Some consider themselves devout Muslims who want to see their religion learn to live alongside other religions; others had left the faith but maintained pride in their Muslim-Arab heritage. The solutions they offered were also wide-ranging. The most prominent among the participants in Rome was Lafif Lakhdar, a French-Tunisian writer who died just a few months after the meeting. He argued that terrorism did not come out of a vacuum; it came out of the education, which glorified martyrdom. “We have to dismantle the martyrdom argument,” he said. Dr. Abd al-Khaliq Hussein, an Iraqi intellectual, argued against the “root-cause analysis” that has so pervaded U.S. counter-terrorism policy. He warned that the West’s courting of the Islamists defeats any efforts at reform and can lead only to totalitarianism.

These are the men and women who can answer Eliot Abrams’ question, “What is the debate in Islam?” On December 2, Stephen Ulph is bringing a handful of the Almuslih reformers to Washington for a one-day discussion, co-sponsored by the Westminster Institute, entitled Progressive Arab Voices on Islamic Reform. Perhaps some in Washington will understand the importance of U.S. support for dissident voices in the Muslim world and will want to hear what they have to say.

For more information on the conference, go to www.Almuslih.org.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security: @katharine gorka.

Dr. Bill Warner on “Measuring Extremism in Islam” – on The Glazov Gang

pl-450x285Frontpage:

This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by Dr. Bill Warner, a scientist who has studied Islam since 1970. He has used the scientific method in the study of Islamic texts and has made its doctrine easy to understand. As an example, he had produced a Koran that anyone can read and understand. Visit his site atpoliticalislam.com.

Dr. Warner joined the show to discuss Measuring Extremism in Islam, illuminating how Sharia compliance defines a way to gauge civilizational “extremism” that goes beyond beheadings:

 

***

Bill Warner also spoke to the JDL in Canada on Nov. 17, 2014. Here is the video thanks to Blazing Cat Fur:

Is the Islamic State the Islamic ‘Reformation’?

Screen-Shot-2014-10-14-at-2.34.22-PM1-358x350By Fjordman:

The self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world with its brutality. The British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with other Western leaders, claims that the Islamic State has “nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace.” The former British PM Tony Blair states that IS’ ideology is “based in a complete perversion of the proper faith of Islam.”

Notice that both the current and a previous British Prime Minister say virtually the same thing as Tariq Ramadan. He is a Swiss writer of Egyptian origin and is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University in Britain. Tariq Ramadan suggests that the Islamic State is ”not Islamic.”

Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banna’s stated goal was the restoration of an Islamic Caliphate. We now have an Islamic State under the leadership of a Caliph. You could therefore argue that ISIS have fulfilled the original promise of Hassan al-Banna. What Tariq Ramadan is in effect saying is that: “The Islamic State have fulfilled the promise of my pious Muslim grandfather. Yet this has nothing to do with Islam.”

The slick Islamic infiltrator Tariq Ramadan has always reminded me of the deceiving manipulator Grima Wormtongue from Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings. It is no wonder that Western ruling elites are clueless about the true nature of the Islamic threat when we allow people such as Ramadan to be treated as experts on Islam in prestigious Western universities and advise Western authorities on matters related to Islam.

Saying that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam or Islamic teachings is false. ISIS propagandists quote authentic Koranic verses or respected hadith literature in favor of their actions. Yes, texts can be interpreted in different ways, but some interpretations have a stronger foundation than others do. A rubber band can be stretched up to a certain point, but not forever. Likewise, texts can be read in several ways, but they are not infinitely elastic.

Maybe what the militant members of the Islamic State are doing is not the only way to interpret Islamic religious texts. Maybe. What should worry us, however, is that it is a perfectly legitimate way to interpret Islamic texts.

The Islamic State now has many supporters, also in Western countries. Their atrocities resonate with quite a few Muslims who recognize something similar from Islamic history. In the earliest days of Islam, Mohammed and his companions raided and pillaged their opponents, massacred and beheaded non-Muslims, enslaved their children, raped their women and forced them to be sex slaves. Suggesting that it has nothing to do with Islam, when militant Muslims today directly copy the behavior of their Prophet as described in Islamic sources, is not credible.

Western leaders and commentators are often shockingly ill-informed about Islam. Tony Blair, then still Britain’s Prime Minister, wrote about Islam for the influential magazine Foreign Affairs in its January 2007 issue. This quote sums up the breathtaking cluelessness of Western leaders:

o-TONY-BLAIR-AND-PROTEST-facebook

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is. I write with great humility as a member of another faith. As an outsider, the Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins, much as reformers attempted to do with the Christian church centuries later. The Koran is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance. Under its guidance, the spread of Islam and its dominance over previously Christian or pagan lands were breathtaking. Over centuries, Islam founded an empire and led the world in discovery, art, and culture. The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones.”

Some observers suggest that Islam needs to be reformed. Yet it is arguable that we have already witnessed an Islamic Reformation, and that ISIS/the Islamic State represents a culmination of this process.

In 2007 I published an essay with the title Do we want an Islamic Reformation? The question of whether Islam can be reformed largely hinges upon one’s definition of “Reformation.” This is often implicitly taken to mean something along the lines of “peaceful, non-sharia-based with respect for individual choice, freedom of speech and the freedom to criticize and leave your religion.” In other words: “Reform” is vaguely taken to mean less Islam, or at least less traditional sharia laws, and no violent Jihad.

However, several observers argue that there are similarities between Martin Luther and the Christian or Protestant Reformation in sixteenth century Europe and the reform movement started by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab in the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century. Wahhab’s alliance with the family of Muhammad bin Saud led to the creation of Saudi Arabia. Using its massive oil wealth, paid for by non-Muslims, that country has for generations funded strict sharia-based Islamic movements worldwide. This Islamic revivalist movement is at the base of the present-day Salafist movement.

Read more at Frontpage

Does Moderate Islamic Ideology Exist?

tawfikNewsmax, By Tawfik Hamid, Sep. 10, 2014:

One of the guiding principles of the Islamic State is that Muslims must fight non-Muslims all over the world and offer them the following choices: Join, pay a humiliating tax called “jijya,” or to be killed. This violent principle was the basic doctrine that justified the Islamic conquests by the early Muslims.

After recent savagery by ISIS and other militant groups around the world, the following question inevitably is raised: Is it possible to be a follower and not adhere to that mandate?

In other words, if a young Muslim became very religious, is there an approved Islamic theological source or interpretation that clearly contradicts such a principle or at least teaches it in a different way, for example, contextualizing it in time and place?
The sad answer is: No.

Typically, there are five sources for Islamic law. These are: the Koran — the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (such as Sahih Al-Buchakry), the actions of the disciples of Mohamed (Sahaba), the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and the Tafseer or Interpretations of the Koran.

If a young Muslim whether the Islamic State is adhering to doctrine, the following shocking results would arise.

The literal understanding of the Koran 9:29 can easily be used to justify what extremists are doing.  “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humiliated.”

The following Sahih (authentic) Hadith in Al-Buchakry also supports violent ideology.
“Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said No God other than, Allah will save his property and his life from me.”

If the same young Sunni Muslim felt uncomfortable with the literal interpretations of such text a search for an answer in the actions of the Sahaba might ensue. Sadly, the Sahaba or Disciples of Muhammad were the ones who used such a principle to justify the Islamic conquests and subjugating non-Muslims to Islam.

The fourth source for Islamic law is the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence namely, Al-Shafeii, Al-Hanbali, Al-Hanafi, and Al- Maleki. These schools, without a single exception, support the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims and offer them the dire choices.

The fifth, and final hope for one searching for a different understanding of Koran 9:29 is to find an interpretation (or commentary) that interprets it differently.

A basic research on almost all approved interpretation for the Quran support the same violent understanding. More than leading 25 different approved Koran Interpretations that are usually used by Muslims to understand the Koran unambiguously support the violent understanding of the verse.

Saying that “Islam is the religion of peace” or condemning radicals as being “un-Islamic” without condemning the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam, is not just hypocritical, it is counterproductive as it hides the true cause of the problem and impedes the efforts to solve it.

It also dangerously ignores the seriousness of the problem. Similarly, not calling the “Islamic State” the Islamic State (to avoid using the word Islamic) as suggested by some Islamic scholars is not going to change the painful fact that ISIS is using an approved and unchallenged principle of the Islamic theology. Such scholars need to work on providing peaceful alternatives to the current violent theology instead of asking the world not use the label Islamic State.

There are many moderate Muslims; however, until the leading Islamic scholars provide peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the Islamic State, the existence of moderate “Islam” must be questioned.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of “Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam.” Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.

The Watchman: Jihadists on the March

Published on Jul 8, 2014 by The Christian Broadcasting Network

On this week’s edition of The Watchman, we sit down with Middle East experts Raymond Ibrahim and Tawfik Hamid to discuss the latest developments with the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iran and what can be done to counter the jihadist.

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’

Raymond Ibrahim, July 1, 2014:

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in two parts but is being published again as one article due to some confusions prompted by its original appearance as two parts.

In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform.   This is the contention of many Western peoples.  And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.

Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming.  What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam.  And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.

The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.”  Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simplymeans to “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.

Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.

Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.

In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.

—–

At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible.  With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching.  So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.

Islam’s reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.

As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures.  The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”

In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world.  Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,

translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands…  [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).

This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears.  The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists.  Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.

In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished.  Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted than their ancestors with the often black and white words of their scriptures, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.

Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.

Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).  This is an important point to be revisited later.  Muslims who do not become disaffected after better acquainting themselves with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.

—–

How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another.   This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scripture together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings.

Obviously a point by point comparison of the scriptures of Islam and Christianity is inappropriate for an article of this length (see my “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam” for a more comprehensive treatment).

Suffice it to note some contradictions (which will be rejected as a matter of course by the relativistic mindset):

  • The New Testament preaches peace, brotherly love, tolerance, and forgiveness—for all humans, believers and non-believers alike.  Instead of combatting and converting “infidels,” Christians are called to pray for those who persecute them and turn the other cheek (which is not the same thing as passivity, for Christians are also called to be bold and unapologetic).  Conversely, the Koran and Hadith call for war, or jihad, against all non-believers, until they either convert, accept subjugation and discrimination, or die.
  • The New Testament has no punishment for the apostate from Christianity.  Conversely, Islam’s prophet himself decreed that “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
  • The New Testament teaches monogamy, one husband and one wife, thereby dignifying the woman.  The Koran allows polygamy—up to four wives—and the possession of concubines, or sex-slaves.  More literalist readings treat women as possessions.
  • The New Testament discourages lying (e.g., Col. 3:9).  The Koran permits it; the prophet himself often deceived others, and permitted lying to one’s wife, to reconcile quarreling parties, and to the “infidel” during war.

It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Western civilization developed the way it did—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Islamic civilization is the way it is—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

—–

Those in the West waiting for an Islamic “reformation” along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam’s reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation—with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition—and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) But because the core teachings of the scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam’s reformation has naturally produced a civilization markedly different from the West.

Put differently, those in the West uncritically calling for an “Islamic reformation” need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity; the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society.

That would not be a “reformation”—certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.

Overlooked is that Western secularism was, and is, possible only because Christian scripture lends itself to the division between church and state, the spiritual and the temporal.

Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular—or any—state.  Christ called on believers to “render unto Caesar the things of Caesar (temporal) and unto God the things of God (spiritual)” (Matt. 22:21).  For the “kingdom of God” is “not of this world” (John 18:36).  Indeed, a good chunk of the New Testament deals with how “man is not justified by the works of the law… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law; and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law—Sharia—and the state.   Allah decrees in the Koran that “It is not fitting for true believers—men or women—to take their choice in affairs if Allah and His Messenger have decreed otherwise. He that disobeys Allah and His Messenger strays far indeed!” (33:36).   Allah tells the prophet of Islam, “We put you on an ordained way [literarily in Arabic, sharia] of command; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who are ignorant” (45:18).

Mainstream Islamic exegesis has always interpreted such verses to mean that Muslims must follow the commandments of Allah as laid out in the Koran and Hadith—in a word, Sharia.

And Sharia is so concerned with the details of this world, with the everyday doings of Muslims, that every conceivable human action falls under five rulings, or ahkam: the forbidden (haram), the discouraged (makruh), the neutral (mubah), the recommended (mustahib), and the obligatory (wajib).

Conversely, Islam offers little concerning the spiritual (sidelined Sufism the exception).

Unlike Christianity, then, Islam without the law—without Sharia—becomes meaningless.   After all, the Arabic word Islam literally means “submit.”  Submit to what?  Allah’s laws as codified in Sharia and derived from the Koran and Hadith.

The “Islamic reformation” some in the West are hoping for is really nothing less than an Islam without Islam—secularization not reformation; Muslims prioritizing secular, civic, and humanitarian laws over Allah’s law; a “reformation” that would slowly see the religion of Muhammad go into the dustbin of history.

Such a scenario is certainly more plausible than believing that Islam can be true to its scriptures in any meaningful way and still peacefully coexist with, much less complement, modernity the way Christianity does.

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’ (Part 1)

By Raymond Ibrahim, June 22, 2014:

In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform.   This is the contention of many Western peoples.  And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.

Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming. What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam.  And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.

The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.”  Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simply meansto “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.

Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.

Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.

In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.

—-

At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible.  With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching.  So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.

Islam’s reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.

As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures.  The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”

In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world.  Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,

translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands…  [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).

This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears.  The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists.  Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.

In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished.  Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted with the often black and white words of their scriptures than their ancestors, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.

Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.

Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).  This is an important point to be revisited later.  Muslims who do not become disaffected after better acquainting themselves with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.

Part 2 will appear later this week

Can Islamism Evolve?

lightBy Andrew C. McCarthy:

Like everything Daniel Pipes writes, his column this week about the prospects of Islamism is interesting and admirably honest. If every public intellectual were as willing as Daniel to check his premises regularly and modify them when new facts call them into question, our discourse would be a lot more civil and edifying.

His column is about “Islamism,” which is the ideology I (among others) call “Islamic supremacism” — a.k.a “radical” or “extremist” Islam, or even “sharia-ism” in the recent coinage of my friend Joy Brighton . . . all of us, it should be conceded, grappling for the pitch-perfect term that (we hope) justifies sidestepping the gnawing question whether Islam itself inevitably breeds aggressive Muslim groups even if it is otherwise widely construed, or at least practiced, benignly.

Daniel has previously rejected the possibility that Islamism, which is innately dictatorial, could evolve into something that approximates pluralistic democracy. He now surveys recent developments and concludes it is conceivable — not likely, but conceivable — that Islamism could evolve and improve.

To me, the developments Daniel cites are just glimmers here and there along a mostly discouraging trajectory. I will make three points, more in reaction than in direct response to his observations.

1. Only our own lower expectations of what liberal democracy is make it possible to speculate that Islamism could become borderline democratic. While Daniel mines some hopeful signs that Islamism — or at least branches of it — could be progressing away from unyielding authoritarianism, the parallel phenomenon (which is not the subject of his column) is that Western democracy is regressing away from a culture of individual liberty protected by limited government. If it now seems conceivable that Islamism could democratize, it can only be owing to modern democracy’s accommodation of more centralized and intrusive government.

2. The only conclusion of Daniel’s that I have a real quarrel with is his assertion that

Islamism has significantly evolved over the past 13 years. As recently as 2001, its adherents were synonymous with criminals, terrorists, and revolutionaries.

I think this conflates Islamism with our perception of Islamism. Personally, I don’t believe Islamism has materially changed at all. Instead, beginning about 21 years ago with the bombing of the World Trade Center, there was a vigorous effort on the part of progressive policy-makers and thinkers — an effort that still persists — to convince the public that the only “radical” Muslims were violent jihadists (who were incongruously portrayed as both “extremist” Muslims and practitioners of a “false Islam”). All other Muslims, we were told, were “moderates,” no matter how immoderate their beliefs. There was very little public understanding of sharia — the Islamic societal framework and legal system — and of the fact that imposing its implementation is the rationale for both jihadist terror and the non-violent agitations of Islamist groups.

What has changed over the past 13 years is not Islamism. Thanks to the good work of people like Daniel — I have tried to do my share, too — the public has begun to learn that Islamists include not only terrorists but Islamic supremacists who seek to impose and inculcate sharia standards by such other means as lawfare, legislation, the classroom, the media, popular culture, etc. There is nothing new in this variegated approach; it is the same plan for ground-up revolution that Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna laid out nearly a century ago. There is, however, more popular awareness today that not every non-terrorist Muslim activist is a “moderate.”

Daniel recalls his observation all those years ago that many Islamists “are peaceable in appearance, but they all must be considered potential killers.” He says “these words ring archaic now,” but, to me, they simply reflect the still valid insight that terrorist and non-terrorist Islamists share objectives even if their methods differ. I don’t think there has been any real evolution just because we are in a time when many Islamists, as Daniel says, “find the ballot box a more effective means to power than the gun.”

It has always been the case that some Islamists pursue the sharia agenda by barbaric means and others by political and legal processes. The only difference today lies in the nature of their opportunities. In Muslim-majority countries such as Egypt, Islamists got the chance to obtain by popular vote what they had previously sought by terrorism — control of the government. And what happened when the Muslim Brotherhood took over? Terrorists were sprung from captivity. Islamist Egypt seamlessly became a hospitable place for jihadists to organize against Israel and the United States. Islamists — both violent and ostensibly non-violent — put their differences aside and allied against the West.

’Twas ever thus. Daniel is surely right that “some reforms of Islam are already underway” (my italics). But that hardly means Islamism is reforming in any substantial way. Indeed, the link in Daniel’s assertion about ongoing Islamic reform takes the reader to an excellent essay he wrote for Commentary last year, which portrays the reform of Islam as what is required “if Islamism is to be defeated,” not as a phenomenon happening in Islamism itself.

Read more at National Review

*********

Daniel Pipes has written a reply: Islamism’s Trajectory

Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM – Critiquing radical Islamist claims to theological authenticity

download (69)By Mark Durie:

The Henry Jackson Society had just launched a guide to rejecting jihadi theologies in Islam, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism by Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart.  There are also forewords by two Sheikhs, including one from Al-Azhar University, and endorsements from other Muslim leaders.

Although the appearance of this guide as a welcome acknowledgement that jihadi violence is theologically motivated, its use of Islamic sources is flawed and unconvincing, and there are risks for secular governments in embracing its arguments.

It is good that the theological motivations for jihadi movements are being acknowledged and engaged with by peaceable Muslims.

This is not a new strategy.  It is necessary and the strategy has long been used by authorities as a counter to jihadi movements.  For example the British empire extracted fatwas from Mecca and Istanbul in the 19th century to declare that British India was not ‘Dar al-Harb’ [House of War], but Dar al-Islam [House of Islam]’, which meant that it was forbidden for Muslims to engage in insurgencies against the British.  Muslim leaders have always asked their scholars to produce such rulings to counter violent rebellions.  This is also a traditional Islamic technique for controlling the undeniable tendency that Islamic theology has to generate violent rebel movements.

This project is also helpful because it acknowledges what is often denied – that the credibility of radical jihadism relies upon religious, theological claims.  It claims Islamic legitimacy and uses this to gain converts.  It is true that to counter this religious legitimacy it is necessary to use theological arguments.

However there are some dangers here for Western governments.  One is that there will be a cost to adopting theological positions on Islam.  Is a secular state really in a position to make an announcement that one particular form of Islam is ‘correct’ over others? This is like saying that catholicism is correct, but the baptist faith is not.  And if the state does canonize a “theologically correct” view on Islam, would it really be persuasive to the minds of young radically inclined Muslims that a secular government is teaching Islam to them, or would it just incite suspicion, and detract from the credibility of voices of moderation within the Muslim community?  Also where does combating radicalism start and promoting Islam start? (The al-Azar Sheikh in his introduction [in Arabic] to the report sees the report as an exercise in spreading Islam, not just in combating radicalism.)

The great weakness in the arguments offered is that they appear to be opportunistic and often ignore conflicting evidence. For example on the subject of suicide bombing, a wide range of modern Muslim scholars have endorsed martyrdom operations against Israel.  It is not just al-Qaradawi or Al-Qaida ideologues who say this: senior respected contemporary jurists such as the Syrian jurist Al-Bouti have endorsed these attacks. To counter this tactic a more whole-hearted acknowledgement of the weightof Islamic voices which have endorsed it.

There is also a tendency to cherry pick texts.  For example Al-Ghazali is cited to support an argument against killing women and children, but his justification of collateral damage against civilians is ignored:

‘[O]ne must go on jihad at least once a year… one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them.’

Another example is the discussion of ‘perfidy’ or ‘subterfuge’ in warfare.  It is claimed on the basis of a hadith from [hadith collection] Sahih Muslim that Islam forbids the use of deception in warfare, a key point in the theology of the suicide attacks often referred to as ‘martyrdom operations’.  However the hadith is cited from a secondary source, and the translation is not accurate.  The actual Arabic in Sahih Muslim (translated more accurately here) forbids stealing booty and says that a Muslim is not supposed to break his ‘pledge’, so this is not about deception in warfare in general.  The authors also have ignored a very well-known hadith of Muhammad in which he said, ‘War is deceit’.   This approach sets up a straw man – a weakly argued jihadi position – only to knock it down. In Islam, support for deception in warfare is more resistant to re-analysis than this.

In the discussion on citizenship – which is a very important issue in Islamic law: can Muslims be loyal citizens? – the authors overlook important rulings collected by the International Fiqh Academy on this issue, which go against their position.

Furthermore, in discussions on the treatment of non-combatants, the authors ignore Muhammad’s command for several hundred non-combatant Jewish men from the Qurayza tribe to be beheaded after they surrendered to him unconditionally.  For radically inclined Muslims, Muhammad’s example would trump the musings of medieval theologians.

One of the problems with citing arguments from later jurists and commentators, which is the preferred approach of the Guide’s authors, is that most jihadis’ theology is Salafist, and as such it looks to the early sources on Islam – the Qur’an, the example of Muhammad and the testimony of the companions of Muhammad – to construct their war theologies.  Such people will not be persuaded by arguments based on later interpreters, which appears to be the main polemical tactic of this Guide.

Of course, as soon as one raises such objections, one runs the risk of being accused of supporting the jihadis.  Nevertheless, the fact is that the radical jihadis have more support than this document would acknowledge, especially in the canonical sources, and the arguments used against them would convince few.  Would these arguments be convincing to a well-trained Muslim scholar? I think not.

The strongest Islamic argument of all against jihadi theology is the ‘necessity’ argument: that it will harm Islam by causing its reputation to be destroyed among Muslims, and incite infidels to attack Muslims.  We are seeking such arguments being presented these days across the Middle East. General Sisi is being applauded in Egypt for ‘saving’ the reputation of Islam from the Muslim Brotherhood.  This argument is not based upon an appeal to theological legitimacy of specific positions, but pragmatic necessity, and what is in the best interests of the Muslim community.  Of course this argument would not have any traction at all if the militaries of Islamic states had the power to challenge those of non-Muslim countries.  Then it would probably be in the best interests of the Muslim world to pursue war.  The argument only works if it is not in Muslims’ interests to be at war.

What about the Al-Azhar Sheikh’s support?  This is political.  In the current political climate Al-Azhar must support the anti-jihadi cause.  The Brotherhood are being killed and wiped out due to their violent theologies.  The wind is blowing against the jihadi position.  It is significant that the Sheikh does not endorse specific arguments of the book – I suspect he knows better – but only the general intention of the project.

Works like this guide can back-fire.  On the one hand they acknowledge that the problem of jihadi violence is theological.  On the other hand, through the use of weak arguments relying on cherry-picked sources, they run the risk of validating the radicals’ position even more.  Perhaps their real function is to ‘save Islam’ in the eyes of moderately inclined Muslims and theologically illiterate secular people, who have an ideological preference  to embrace the narrative that the jihadis have ‘hijacked’ Islam.

But will this help to defuse Islamic jihadism?  I doubt it.

Revd Dr Mark Durie is an Anglican priest, Fellow of the Australian Academy for the Humanities, and a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum in the US.  He is the author of The Third Choice: Islam Dhimmitude and Freedom published by Deror Books.

A version of this review appears in Middle East Forum:

That was the polite review. Now read Rassooli’s refreshingly blunt “In a nutshell: BULL CRAP!” response:

Ukip MEP says British Muslims should sign charter rejecting violence

islamonazis-in-syria-with-koran-and-fascist-salute-30.9.2013

By Rowena Mason:  h/t Tundra Tabloids

Gerard Batten, Ukip’s immigration spokesman, proposed ban on new European mosques and says Qur’an needs updating

Read the document: a proposed charter of Muslim understanding

A Ukip MEP believes that British Muslims should sign a special code of conduct and warns that it was a big mistake for Europe to allow “an explosion of mosques across their land”.

Gerard Batten, who represents London and is member of the party’s executive, told the Guardian on Tuesday that he stood by a “charter of Muslim understanding”, which he commissioned in 2006.

The document asks Muslims to sign a declaration rejecting violence and says parts of the Qur’an that promote “violent physical Jihad” should be regarded as “inapplicable, invalid and non-Islamic”.

Critics said his comments represent the “ugliest side of Ukip” and “overlap with the far-right”, in spite of the efforts of party leader Nigel Farage to create a disciplined election machine ahead of the European elections.

Asked on Tuesday about the charter, Batten told the Guardian he had written it with a friend, who is an Islamic scholar, and could not see why “any reasonable, normal person” would object to signing it.

Batten also repeated his view that some Muslim texts need updating, claiming some say “kill Jews wherever you find them and various things like that”.

“If that represents the thinking of modern people, there’s something wrong, in which case maybe they need to revise their thinking. If they say they can’t revise their thinking on those issues, then who’s got the problem – us or them?” he added.

Read more at The Guardian

Also see:

Sisi calls for “modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam”

Martin-Luther-9389283-1-402-300x300By Robert Spencer:

The latest Muslim Martin Luther, taking up the tattered crown from the cynical, deceptive Tariq Ramadan, is Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has called for a reformation within Islam. Such a reformation is certainly urgently needed, and even in calling for it, Sisi has gone much farther than the Muslim Brotherhood scion Ramadan ever did.

Sisi, however, is a general, not a member of the Egyptian ulama; his words are unlikely to spark a mass movement for general reformation of the elements of Islam that give impetus to violence and supremacism. And the existence of those elements, and people who believe in them, is likely to menace Sisi for simply making this call — as others have been menaced for calling for reform in Islam in the past. Just last year, the Moroccan cleric Ahmed Assid condemned violence in Islam’s name, and was promptly declared an apostate and an enemy of Allah by other clerics, and threatened with death. The Iraqi Shi’ite scholar Sayyed Ahmad Al-Qabbanji called for reason in Islamic discourse and jurisprudence, and was immediately arrested.

Sisi has the power of the state behind him, for now, so such a fate is not likely to befall him, at least in the near future.

“Islamic ‘Martin ‘Luther’ issues his proclamation,” by James Zumwalt for UPI, January 28:

HERNDON, Va., Jan. 28 (UPI) — During late January, two high-profile personalities took actions — one outside the United States and one within — that couldn’t be any farther apart in terms of their global impact.

Due to irresponsible media coverage, the first story — with major global impact — went unreported while the second — involving an out-of-control, spoiled 19-year old kid — kept grabbing daily headlines.

Starring in the latter was Canadian entertainer Justin Bieber whose drinking, drugging and reckless driving binge in Florida was ended by police, fortunately before he killed anyone. The other action starred Egyptian leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who made the bombshell announcement it is time for Muslims to reform Islam, bringing it into sync with modern times….

While the United States’ Islamic nightmare seems unending, time will have to tell whether Sisi’s declaration will have its intended Martin Luther-esque effect on the religion.

Sisi delivered a speech, saying, “Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam — rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

The “800 year” reference was to the year 1258 — allegedly when highly qualified Islamic scholars of the day (“mujtahids”) declared, through “ijtihad” (independent reasoning), they had officially resolved all disputes about religious doctrine. Therefore, the “gates of ijtihad” were closed to future debate as no scholar could ever again qualify as a mujtahid — obviously a somewhat short-sighted position to assume.

For Sisi to suggest reopening ijtihad “to improve the image of this religion in front of the world” is the equivalent of Martin Luther defiantly nailing his proclamation (known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) to a church door in 1517, seeking to reform self-promoting Roman Catholic religious practices.

 

Read more at Jihad Watch

No Reform For Islam

makbara1by Justin O Smith

During the past few years, I have often stated the need for Muslims to reform Islam, in the same manner of Judaism and Christianity, even though I knew that Islam is incapable of reforming itself. Other experts and activists, such as Irshad Manji, Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, have suggested that the reform of Islam should be directed towards secularism; however, to date, the only successful reform, led by imams and mullahs, has been a regressive return to the type of violence, increased terrorism and military conquests, once seen only at the height of Islamic power when Abd al-Rahman and his Islamic army were repelled from the Gates of France in 732 AD by the Christian forces and their leader, Charles “the Hammer” Martel.

Two days before Christmas, fourteen people were killed and 120 wounded, as an explosion, felt in areas fifteen miles away, ripped through police headquarters in Mansoura, Egypt. Just days before New Year’s Day 2014, bombs erupted in Volgograd, Russia in the main railway station and on a trolley bus on the 29th and 30th of December, which killed 34 people and wounded sixty. The common link between these two cases and 99% of the terrorist acts worldwide is Islam.

One should note the book ‘al Islam wa usul al-hukm’- Islam and Bases of Power by Ali Abd al-Razia (1888-1966), which argued that modern Egypt should sever its connection to Islam altogether. Razia concluded that the caliphate is not mentioned in the Koran and Mohammed had not been the head of a state in the 20th century sense, so Egyptians were supposedly free to implement a European-style secular government.

Nazra Quraishi, a Michigan kindergarten teacher, stated in ‘The Lansing State Journal’ (July 5, 2006) that one “can embrace Islam but cannot get out.” If Islam is a “religion”/ideology one can only convert to and not leave upon choosing so, then it is a threat to every free person on the planet; this cuts to the core principle of any democratic state. “Radical Islam has come to mock the very principle of nationality and citizenship,” wrote Fouad Ajami.

There are not any moderate Muslims, only apostates, because a moderate Islam does not exist…a Catch-22 of sorts. In order to create a changed or reformed ideology, Muslims would have to confront their leaders. Muslims would have to stand against men like Shaker Elsayed, leader of Dar al-Hijrah – one of America’s largest mosques in Falls Church, VA, who was espousing the virtues of violent jihad in February 2013 and stated that “The call to reform Islam is an alien call.”

Islam is the fastest growing ideology__”religion”__in Europe and North America, in large part, due to the “Trojan Horse” of immigration, so brilliantly detailed by the late, great Oriana Fallaci, and the extraordinary high rate of procreation within Muslim populations. It has become more radicalized and fierce due to Saudi Arabian advocacy and financial support for Islam’s extreme Wahhabi sect, and the majority of its followers identify themselves with a pan-Islamic community that transcends borders.

Today in America, many Muslim leaders are in agreement with the ideas of British Muslim leader Anjem Choudary, as they praise the 9/11 terorists and call for Sharia law in the U.S., and they claim that “The United States belongs to Allah.” One such leader, Muzammil Siddiqi is associated with Hamas terrorists and the Islamic Center of Washington, DC, and during an October 2000 rally near the White House, he blamed the U.S. for the Palestinian situation and warned “the wrath of God will come.”

Although smooth talking Saudi princes dismissed the fact that Princess Haifa “accidently” funded the 9/11/01 murderers and terrorists through an intermediary, Majed Ibrahim, as “coincidence”, it is now all too apparent that Saudi hands were involved in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Abdul al-Harbi was quickly spirited away by Saudi diplomats, after he progressed from a “suspect” in the attack to “a person of interest” to “innocent” within a week. Ominously, it becomes clear that a terrorist was allowed to escape by U.S “authorities”, once one discovers that six of his relatives, such as Badr and Khalid al-Harbi, actively fought for Al Qaeda and three more__Salim, Majid and Muhammed al-Harbi__ are currently in Gitmo prison.

Does anyone really think that a “religion”__that Islam__ that produces  men who will eat the heart of an enemy (see Syria 2013), draw and quarter American contractors and hang them over the Euphrates River, or kill nearly 300 school children in Beslan, Russia (September 2004) in the name of Allah, here and now, in the 21st century, will ever reform itself?

Currently and confirmed by then-Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC) in 2010, Iran’s terrorist arm, Hezbollah, is building a power base in Mexico, along with Al Qaeda, and it is training Mexican drug cartels in the use of explosives. In 2010, a drug cartel detonated a car bomb for the first time in Ciudad, Juarez.

In 2011, Roger Noreiga, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, gave a clear and urgent warning: “If our government and responsible parties fail to act…there will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas, as soon as Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their Iranian sponsors in crime.”

How many Muslims have forced jihadist imams from their mosques? How many Muslim parents are prepared to say that they came to our nation to raise their children as loyal Americans, not Saudis, Iranian or Palestinian and such?

Whether the islamoNazis attack us from their enormous fear of Ataturk’s 1922 brand of secularism, which they claimed would destroy Islam, or simply because America is predominantly a Christian nation and they hate our principles and ideas on freedom, they still attack; they are not remotely considering reform. As Hussein Massawi, former Hezbollah leader, stated: “We are not fighting so that you will give us something. We are fighting to eliminate you (the infidels).

The sweet dream of world peace and “coexistence” has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict. Bomb us and the Left-wing media agonizes over the “root causes”. Shoot up Ft Hood or detonate a few bombs in Boston and our community-organizer-in-chief Obama rushes to the nearest mosque to declare “Islam is a religion of peace.” Murder a school full of children, and our academics join Ossama Bahloul, imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, and Jamal al-Badawi, in explaining that to the vast majority of Muslims “jihad” is a harmless concept surrounding personal struggle: This resurgent Islam will not be stopped by a few new laws or outreach to the ummah, but by firm resolve and tough action across the board in all areas of U.S. policy.

Islamists Take Nose Dive in 2013 Issue of “Muslim 500″

Muslim 500

The Islamist ascent in the first wave of the Arab Spring triggered a movement against the Muslim Brotherhood in the second wave.

BY RYAN MAURO:

The second wave of the Arab Spring defined the Muslim world in 2013. The Islamist ascent in the first wave triggered a movement against the Muslim Brotherhood in the second wave. The power shift’s importance is apparent in the rankings in this year’s issue ofThe Muslim 500, an annual publication compiled by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, Jordan which ranks the most influential Muslims worldwide.

Last year, seven of the top 10 Muslims ranked by the publication were Islamists, with Saudi King Abdullah and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan topping the list. This year, the number has fallen to four. Overall, this year’s tally is very negative for the Muslim Brotherhood and very positive for Muslim leaders less hostile to the West.

The opening of the issue includes a blistering critique of the Brotherhood by Professor S. Abdallah Schleifer, a prominent Middle East expert. Notably, he talks about a backlash against the Islamists.

“So if a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt stood in the beginning of 2013 as the highest expression of the tide of Islamism, it is also possible that the overthrow of that government … may be a sign that this Islamist tidal wave is beginning to recede,” Professor Schleifer writes.

The Muslim 500 identifies three ideological camps in the Muslim world:

The first and largest one is “Traditional Islam” or “Orthodox Islam” and is based on scholarly consensus. The publication says that this represents 96% of the Muslim world and (supposedly) is not politicized. All of the Islamic schools of jurisprudence are included in this category.

This camp includes Islamists like the Saudi King and non-Islamists like the Jordanian King.

The second camp is “Islamic Fundamentalism, ” which is highly politicized and explicitly anti-Western. The fundamentalists describe themselves as “reformers” and are very aggressive. The Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists/Wahhabists and Revolutionary Shiites are included in this category.

The publication says this camp represents 3% of the Muslim world.

The third and smallest camp is “Islamic Modernism.” Adherents consider themselves to be “reformers” but want Islam to become more pro-Western and “progressive.”

In the words of The Muslim 500, “this subdivision contextualized Islamic ideology for the times—emphasizing the need for religion to evolve with Western advances.” It says:

“They thus called for a complete overhaul of Islam, including—or rather, in particular—Islamic law (sharia) and doctrine (aqida). Islamic modernism remains popularly an object of derision and ridicule, and is scorned by traditional Muslims and fundamentalists alike.”

According to the publication, this camp only represents 1% of the Muslim world. The most influential modernist is Queen Abdullah of Jordan. She took 32nd place, whereas last year she was in 37th.

The second most influential modernist is Professor Dr. M. Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of the Muhammadiyya organization in Indonesia. The organization has 35 million members. He is in 33rdplace. He was in 39th last year.

It could be argued that the Indonesian organization Nahdlatul Ulamafalls into this category. Its leader, KH Said Aqil Siradj, is now ranked as the 15th most influential Muslim. He came in 19th last year.

This year’s most influential Muslim is Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is a traditionalist opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood who endorsed the Egyptian military’s overthrow of President Morsi.

Read more at Clarion Project

Can Islam Be Reformed? A Response Essay To Daniel Pipes

reform of islamBy Nikolaas de Jong, July 10, 2013:

In a past article, I already discussed some issues of Islamic civilization which we are apt to neglect in our analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. Obviously, the potential force of democracy to conquer once primitive countries has been greatly overestimated; nobody will disagree anymore on that count. However, the explanations for this failure of democracy vary a lot, and quite independent of the political alignment of the commentators: it appears that all shades of opinion are quite confused by what is happening in countries recently “liberated” by the Arab Spring. The main reason for this confusion, as I stated before, is that most people in the west do not understand the wider civilizational questions involved: first, can we equate any popular uprising with an ideologically inspired revolution, but second, and most importantly, can revolutions in the Islamic world ever resemble those in the West and why are we so sure that the Islamic pattern of history must correspond to the earlier Western? The first point has been conceded by many observers, albeit implicitly and not in wider historical context, since today the dominant opinion is that these countries were not “ripe” for democracy and that popular rule does not necessarily imply democracy as we understand it in the west. The second point requires more insight, and is not even addressed by most commentators or journalists, although in fact to pose the question of essential differences in culture is not at all new; indeed, it only implies further investigation of the popular thesis Samuel Huntington developed about the “clash of civilizations”. But since western nations have lived in peace for over sixty years now, and we tend to believe that the whole world potentially is a prosperous and peaceful place like the western nation states, the concept of wholly different civilizations has become quite incomprehensible to most opinion makers. Nevertheless, we shall see it is essential to understand the ordeal the Muslim world is currently going through.

A few days ago Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote an article, “Can Islam be reformed?”. As a good neoconservative, Pipes believes that Islamic culture will ultimately be able to adapt to western standards and that a reformed, reinterpreted version of Islam will emerge from the contacts with western democratic influences. In his article, he expressly  shows Islamic civilization in a very un-civilizational light: the issues in Islamic history are made to appear a variation on what happened in the history of other cultures, namely an endless sequence of wars and political upheavals, according to the classical pattern of rise and fall: the extremism that plagues the Islamic world is in fact a reaction to the decline of Islam since its golden age, and will wither away once a democratic, economically successful alternative has been offered; in this sense, the Islamist movement is not unlike communism and fascism, both ideologies cashing in on political and economic hardship. Moreover, Islam is not all that different from Judaism and Christianity: both religions have in the past embraced views we would now find unacceptable: Islam can adapt to modernity like other religions have. Pipes concedes that Islam today poses many problems and not all of its tenets are very humane, but he believes that Islam could be, as it were, absorbed by the west. In his most recent commentary on the military coup in Egypt, he reiterated his view that Islamism is just an extremist political fraction vying for influence among the electorate, and that the majority of the population are moderate Muslims desperately in search of answers to the crisis of modernity.

It is surprising that a man who is so knowledgeable on Islamic and Arab history, really thinks the Islamic world could be reformed. This is especially surprising, since in fact democracy and rule of law have hardly taken root in the rest of the non-western countries, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment will be viable in the long run, especially as western values are receding in the West itself at least since the first world war. Western self-confidence is at an historical low, so the first question is: why is there anything necessary about Muslims taking over western values and political institutions? I argued earlier that Islamic culture itself is not heading for a particularly happy future, but neither is the west, and if Islam does not take over Europe, it will still probably remain the same ossified theocratic system it has always been in the Muslim world itself. Besides, Pipes’ constant reference to the Islamic golden age, as if it were some shining example of human achievement and a tolerant, open-minded era, is disturbing to say the least: by now we should know that the power of Islam in this period was only brought about by brute military conquest, that its famous cultural achievements were largely the work of Christian and Jewish dhimmis, and that the Islamic world controlled so many material and cultural resources simply because it had invaded the lands of other cultures and withheld the benefits of trade from the Christian world. And of course, Pipes does not mention that this was not a “golden age” at all for many people, such as religious minorities, Hindus, and women. The reason it was called a “golden age” by Muslims is because it was a golden age for the Islamic conception of life, but not for humanity. So, on closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that Islam was always rigorous and it has not known any more humane periods or ups and downs like other civilizations, except in the military sense. The proper question that would invalidate Pipes’ designation of Islamism as a totalitarian doctrine on the pattern of fascism and communism, is: would the average Muslim throughout history have considered the deeds and beliefs of today’s Islamists and Islamic terrorists unjustified? Does the average Muslim today even see anything inherently inhumane or un-Islamic in the deeds of terrorists? I think Pipes knows the answer to these questions as well as most of us do.

Pipes warns us for adopting an excessively “essentialist” view of Islam, which means relying solely on Islamic scripture and doctrine in explaining Islamic history and the actions of Muslims; however, it seems Pipes should watch out not to adopt the absurdly empiricist view that is also held by many political correct pundits, and which implies that the deeds of Muslims only have general “human” motives, and religion is simply a justification of these universal motives. It is all very well that Pipes himself can provide his own moderate interpretation of Islam and sees history in the light of this interpretation, but in the end it is the Muslims who decide how to interpret their religion, not western academics. As Bill Warner put it, we can only understand the actions of Muslims and Islamic history by first understanding Islam and what it actually is, not the other way around. Otherwise we would just be fooling ourselves and evading the main question.

Read more at The Brussels Journal (H/T Andrew Bostom)

Nikolaas de Jong is a Flemish history student with a critical view on current affairs, history and culture. He is inspired by Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Raymond Aron and Jean-François Revel. He is specifically interested in islam and Russian history. He is a member of the political party Liberty GB. This article appeared July 10, 2013 in the Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal is published by the Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation. http://www.think-israel.org/dejong.islamreformable.html

Muslims Need to Confront Muslim Evil

MW-BI908_Kenya__20130922102653_MG-450x332By Dennis Prager:

With this weekend’s massacre by Muslim terrorists at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and Muslim terrorists killing about 80 Christians at a Christian church in Pakistan, most people wonder what, if anything in addition to a continuing war on terror, can be done to minimize the scourge of Islamic terror.

The answer lies with Muslims themselves. Specifically, it means that Muslim religious leaders around the world must announce that any Muslim who deliberately targets non-combatants for death goes to hell.

I arrive at this answer based on something that I have long believed about Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.

I readily acknowledge that the situations are not the same. The Jews of Europe were not annihilated by Catholics in the name of Catholicism; whereas the Christians, Muslims and Jews who are massacred by Islamic terrorists are murdered by Muslims in the name of Islam.

I also readily acknowledge that many of the attacks on Pope Pius XII for his alleged inaction and even collaboration with the Nazis during the Holocaust are animated by individuals who hate Western religion generally or hate the Catholic Church specifically. Pius XII was not “Hitler’s Pope,” as one best-selling book on Pius XII is titled.

Moreover, Pius XII lived in Italy during World War II, in a fascist dictatorship that began as Hitler’s ally and ended up being the target of Nazi atrocities. This was not the case with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, for example, who lived in the safety of a free country six-thousand miles away from Germany, did nothing to save the Jews of Europe, and even sent a boatload of Jewish refugees from Hitler back to Europe. Yet the critics of Pius are silent about Roosevelt.

Nevertheless, Pius could have done more to at least slow down the Holocaust. And I say this recognizing that Italy’s Catholic clergy saved many Jews, and that Pius, to his credit, had to be aware of this. What he could have and should have done was to announce that any Catholic — and any Christian for that matter — who in any way helps in the murder of innocent Jews is committing a mortal sin and will not attain salvation. In other words, he or she will go to hell.

This would have had no impact on the many Germans and other Europeans who had no belief in God or religion; but it would have had an impact on many who did.

I believe the same thing regarding Muslim terror. Muslim leaders — specifically, every imam in the world who is not a supporter of terror, the leaders of the most important Sunni institutions, such as the Al-Azhar Mosque and University in Cairo, and religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and the in Gulf states — must announce that any Muslim who participates in any deliberate attack on civilians goes to hell.

This must be announced as clearly and as repeatedly as, for example, Muslim condemnations of Israel.

Just as the promise of immediate entrance into paradise animates many Muslim terrorists, the promise of immediate hell would dissuade many Muslims from committing acts of terrorism.

Read more at Front Page

Also see: The Danger In Our Midst (gatstoneinstitute.org)