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)

 

Islam Needs an Intervention

addicted_to_terrorism_billboard_at_night_9-22-13-2 (1)

Bad luck for Iran’s new President Rouhani.  He arrives in New York just after the carnage in  Kenya and Pakistan.

Of course these mass murdering terror attacks were perpetrated by Sunnis, not Iranian Shiites, but most of the American public doesn’t know the difference.  And those of us who do are only reminded these killings are just the latest in a long and sadly predictable history of such events, Sunni and Shiite, during which, according to one website, a staggering 21269 deadly attacks have been undertaken by Islamic terrorists since  September 11, 2001. (To give you an idea of how many deaths this comes to, the Mumbai mass killing of 2008 in which 164 died is only one of this over twenty-one thousand, as are the 2004 Atocha Station bombings in which 191 died. And 68 and 78 died, so far, in the Kenya and Pakistan attacks, also part of the over twenty-one thousand.)

So Barack Obama should be aware, if he is in the mood to appease an Islamic regime with multiple terrorist tentacles, that it might not be the best week for such an action. Too bad, Rouhani. (Or let’s hope it’s “Too bad, Rouhani,” whose “moderate” track record fits right in with the 21269 deadly attacks above, although his pre-dates 9/11.

Indeed, like a badly failing family member — an alcoholic or a drug addict — what Islam desperately needs now is not nuclear appeasement or CAIR-style “tolerance” but an intervention.

To say that something is decidedly wrong in the Islamic world is a monumental understatement. And Muslim societies make almost no serious effort to correct themselves, ricocheting back and forth between military totalitarianism and religious totalitarianism while — like that family heroin addict — blaming everyone but themselves for their fate.

They are indeed in deep need of an intervention. The question is how to do it.

Of course, just by raising that question you are accused of Islamophobia, an absurd almost self-contradictory term, which always applies better to those using it. They are the ones who are phobic about Islam because they are the ones who are fearful (actually terrified) of what Islamic people will do if told the truth.  So they come up with those equally absurd lies, like defining the crime of a soldier who murders his fellows while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” as “workplace violence.”

This real Islamophobia has been the pathetic stance of our government and military since 9/11, made worse by the delusions of Barack Obama.  Of course it has failed.  How could it possibly succeed when it is fundamentally dishonest?

Meanwhile, another large sector of our society wants us to throw up our hands at the whole thing — let these madmen destroy each other.  I am sympathetic — how could I not be?  We have already lost so much in treasure, human and material.

But I will remind those people — and myself — that in our tradition we are our brother’s keeper.  And that is one of the most important values, if not the key value, that gave us this great country.

Furthermore, such a violent ideology left unchecked could destroy the world. It already infects over a billion Muslims, with painfully rare, though highly laudable, exceptions.  (The depressing truth is that I met almost all of them in my job at PJM. Where are the rest? Why is it there is no really organized attempt within Islam for any kind of serious reform — only the most momentary lip service after a terror attack?)

So back to the question of how to stage this intervention.  This is extremely difficult, but I am going to take a flyer with some suggestions. I invite all to respond.  (And, yes, I know, rounding up all the Muslims in the world for an intervention like your Cousin Phil is a tad inconvenient, but think metaphorically.)

1. Most importantly, start being honest.  Say that Islam itself is the cause of all this atrocious violence and must be corrected, must have a fundamental reformation of the religion. Keep talking about the reformation — keep demanding it of them — all the time.  Why have you not joined the modern world?  Why do you oppress women? Urge them to reform and never stop.  No more euphemisms about “religion of peace” or “work place violence.”  If you kill for Allah, you are evil, immoral and sick.  You don’t kill for anybody’s God.

Read more at PJ Media

 

The Question of Islamic Reform

islam_prayerBy :

Perhaps the major theological problem confronting the revisionist Muslim community today—i.e., those whom we call “moderates”  or “secular-oriented intellectuals”—is the canonical scriptures which define their faith and without which Islam would cease to exist. The dilemma for these “enlightened Muslims” is the Koran itself, with its ubiquitous summons to warfare, conquest, enslavement and social and economic persecution of vanquished peoples, which is why they are preoccupied, to the brink of obsession, with the twin concepts of re-interpretation and contextualization.

These meliorists are convinced that Islam is diametrically opposed to something called “Islamism,” that Islam is essentially a “religion of peace” rather than a bellicose imperial movement and that its founding texts therefore invite reinterpretation. This belief can be readily demolished by anyone with a cursory acquaintance with the Islamic literature and a modicum of common sense. For once the incendiary and violent passages are expurgated from the Koran and the Hadith, and the philosophical and political curriculum appropriately bowdlerized, there is far too little left over on which to base a credible and authoritative, world-historical faith. Indeed, as I have argued before, the result would resemble a version of Baha’i’ and could no longer legitimately be called Islam. Re-interpretation is effectively a dead end, a theological placebo swallowed by the naïve or the willfully ignorant who find the strong medicine of reality unpalatable or even abhorrent.

The notion of contextualization fares no better. Here the thesis is that one must adopt a historical or dialectical perspective on the progressive evolution of belief systems. The repugnant portions of the scriptures are understood to apply only to the times in which they were conceived and written. Of course, there is some truth to this contention. The Bible also contains offensive passages which have been despumated with the passing of time. But the difference between the Bible and the Koran is categorical. The former is largely narrative and parabolic in structure and the parts we would regard as objectionable are comparatively few. The Koran, on the contrary—especially the longer, Medinan section—is almost unrelentingly belligerent and exhortative, commanding the believer to slay, conquer, oppress and impose draconian taxes on those who have been subjugated.

To say, as did reformer Salim Mansur, an apostle of contextualization, that Jesus should not be held responsible for the actions of his followers and therefore, by implication, neither should Mohammed is to miss the point entirely. Jesus commanded the faithful to turn the other cheek, not to “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” (Koran 9:5). Jesus is in no need of contextualization. Judaism differs inasmuch as the messiah has not yet arrived and the fundamental commandments are both few and benign. In Christianity, as we have noted, Jesus is a harbinger of peace and love, and his exegetes, like Saint Paul, are fallible human beings whose utterances are seen to be open to debate. In Islam, however, the word of the Prophet, transmitted by Allah via the angel Gabriel, is set in theological stone; it cannot be reinterpreted or contextualized, only abrogated by Mohammed himself. Its directives are neither locally nor temporally specific. They are meant to be understood as having general and timeless application, constituting the default position of Islamic belief. Efforts to neuter such clearly unmistakable and bloody imperatives, which ramify throughout the Koran—as, for example, in the Muslim Access website which strenuously labors to sanitize the intractable—are embarrassingly disingenuous.

The abiding, if not insoluble, problem with the seductive hypothesis of contextualization is a kind of prolepsis, an anticipation of change before it happens—which in this case would then render the original event tolerable. Are we to assume, in other words, that the beheading of 600-900 Jewish males of the Banu Qurayza and the enslavement of their women and children at the Battle of the Trench is perfectly understandable because it occurred in 627? That theannihilation of 60-80 million Hindus during the conquest of India is historically unexceptionable because it occurred between the 11th and 16th centuries? Need we merely contextualize such atrocities—without apology—in order not to be unduly disturbed by them? Were Islamic warriors more primitive in the unenlightened past but are now well on the way toward civilized behavior and international standards of just conduct?

Read more at Front Page

 

CAN ISLAM BE REFORMED?

Al-Ghasali: Photo source: Die Welt

Al-Ghasali: Photo source: Die Welt

By Tiffany Gabbbay:

After turning away from Islam and becoming an atheist, young blogger Kassim al-Ghasali became a target in his native Morocco. Following a string of death threats, he sought political asylum in Switzerland, where he now lives and continues to embrace ideals of freedom and tolerance.

Ever-outspoken in his beliefs, al-Ghasali presented a speech at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy in February. Speaking to the German-language news outlet Die Welt following the event, the young Moroccan shared his views (a translation of the full interview can be found in the Gates of Vienna blog), on the Arab Spring, why he believes Islam cannot be reformed in the same way that Christianity was, and why moderate Muslims should admit that “terror and violence” — or more pointedly, “unmitigated horror” — is part of the Koran.

Al-Ghasali also poignantly added that the Koran is a “politically and historically-determined book and not the word of Allah” and that Islam cannot be reformed as its tenets are anathema to Western enlightenment, which helped to reform Christianity [emphasis added].

In my opinion, there can be no reformation or enlightenment in Sunni or Shiite Islam, because there is no church to be reformed,” al-Ghasali explained to Die Welt.

“In Islam, we are subject to the power of a sacred book and the instructions it gives. Identity and understanding of self come from the Quran. If Muslims could use their reason without the instructions of a book which is recognized as the Word of God, then we could talk about enlightenment. But today most Muslims are against the ideas of the Western Enlightenment.

Read more at The Blaze

 

Zuhdi Jasser and Robert Spencer debate Islamic reform:

 

To Think or Not to Think: A Muslim’s ‘Outrageous Fortune’

20130210_islam_muslim_adult_child_largeby Edward Cline:

In his penetrating essay on the futility of Islam’s efforts to “reform”  itself through revolution, “régime change,” or purification, “Springtime for  Islam” (February 5th), Daniel Greenfield noted:

There is a peculiar tragedy to a religion which cannot escape its own  destructive nature, each time it reaches for some form of redemption, its hands  come up dripping with blood and it all ends in more bodies and petty  tyrannies.

“Reform,” of course, means to change oneself or some institution for the  better, from bad and corrupt to good and pure, or at least to the unobtrusive  benign. But, as Greenfield points out and stresses, the Arab Spring is in  reality a continuation of an ongoing “Arab Winter.” The “Arab Spring” was fueled  by Islam, and Islam is, by its foundational nature, destructive and  self-destructive.

Islam’s only redemption is in establishing a theocracy. Its commitment to  power and the indulgence of the earthly and heavenly paradise of loot, slaves  and violence, led to its own degeneration over and over again. Having no other  spiritual form than the exercise of power, it has corrupted itself each time,  and then attempted to exorcise the corruption through more of the same.

Any theocracy must be totalitarian. It can become totalitarian by  default or happenstance or by negligence, or it can become totalitarian  according to an instruction manual written by clerics and intellectuals friendly  to what they know in their minds are dystopias for the masses and paradises for  the rulers. Islam has its instruction manuals.

Islam governs an individual’s life from his sandals to his beard, from his  diet to the number of times a day he must demonstrate fealty to his icons, to  how he may lawfully (per Sharia law) treat his wives and children. It governs  his social relationships with his friends and enemies, and his enemies are  everyone who is not Muslim. The Koran,  the Hadith,  and the Reliance of the Traveler  all command it. They are how-to manuals  written chiefly in Arabic and translated into a dozen languages.

A Muslim accepts this state of submission – whether or not he’s read all the  manuals from beginning to end – for a variety of reasons, none of them  complimentary and too often those reasons become a Molotov cocktail blend  waiting to explode: a repressed, unacknowledged fear of the mortal consequences  of not conforming; mental inertia, encouraged by an unquestioning faith  in non-evidentiary assertions; a delusional sense of superiority (qua Muslim, and qua Muslim male); a sense of predestination; an  attitude of privilege and expectation of deference; and a borrowed sense of  omniscience.

After all, the propaganda goes, Islam will conquer men, neighborhoods,  cities, nations, and the globe. It is written. Fealty to Islam gives a  rank-and-file Muslim the comforting confidence that he’s on the winning side.  Why bother to think about it? Islam is like an advancing glacier, and he is but  a lump of ice on it. He doesn’t mind. He knows that he’s just dross, a grain of  ballast that helps to keep the Islamic corsair upright and afloat and its sails  taut in the wind.

Islam cannot be “reformed” unless its caretakers repudiate its instruction  manuals. But their repudiation would necessarily entail the repudiation of  Islam. When the manuals go up in flames, so will Islam.

Read more: Family Security Matters

Can Muslims Reopen the Gates of Ijtihad?

imagesCAW9P52Fby Harold Rhode

The way things look now, only if the forces which want to bring back seventh century Islamic society were to suffer a massive defeat, could there be much hope. Only then, after the anti-ijtihad forces were defeated and no longer had access to unlimited financial resources with which to spread their anti-critical thinking, can things change.

The exercise of critical thinking and independent judgment – or Ijtihad –was an important way to address questions in the early centuries of Islam. After approximately 400 years, however, the leaders of the Sunni Muslim world closed the “Gates of Ijtihad;” Muslims were no longer allowed use itjihad to solve problems. If a seemingly new problem arose, they were supposed to find an analogy from earlier scholars and apply that ruling to the problem that arose. From the 10th century onwards, Sunni Muslim leaders began to see questioning as politically dangerous to their ability to rule. Regrettably, Sunni Muslim leaders reject the use of itjihad to this day.

As questioning could very likely upset the established order and bring down the autocracies and despotic regimes which rule most of the Muslim world, even Muslims who live in freer Muslim countries such as Turkey often hesitate to exercise ijtihad. How did the Muslim world succumb to this situation, and is there a way out?

Ijtihad in historical context

Ijtihad was important in early Islam: when questions arose – even while Muhammad was alive – for which there were no answers, Muhammad would call the Muslims together in their mosque. They would discuss the issues at hand, reason them through, and come to a consensus — so came into being the Islamic concept of ijma’ (consensus among the scholars).[1]

After Muhammad died, however, the Muslim community rapidly expanded; the community of scholars became too large, and ijma’ no longer practical. What developed was a body of traditions – called hadiths – sayings and deeds attributed to their prophet Muhammad. When new questions arose, people would seek out individuals who had known Muhammad and ask them whether they had seen or heard Muhammad address the matter at hand.

Within 200 years, the number of hadiths was thought to be in the hundreds of thousands, but people had no way of knowing which were true and which were fabricated. The great Muslim scholar, al-Bukhari (810 -870 CE), who analyzed them, concluded that only a few thousand were reliable.[2]

Later, when still more questions arose, diverse schools of thought developed. The Quran, the hadiths, and those schools of thought were collected into Islamic law. This body of Islamic religious guidance is known as the Shari’a, or “The Path.”

During the first four centuries of Islam, Muslim scholars seem to have exercised independent judgment freely, and debated rigorously new issues that arose. The Muslim world at that time seems to have been inclusive and flexible; it accepted differing views, differing conclusions and differing sorts of influences that arose as part of the cultures of its large empire.[3]

Muslim scholars studied Arabic translations of ancient Greek texts which they thought might help them understand the nature of mankind as well as other aspects of life. These texts, though clearly non-Islamic, nevertheless provided scholars with useful insights. There were also intellectual interchanges with Jewish scholars, particularly in the fields of science, medicine, language, and geography. There seems to have been, however, little discussion with Christians.[4]

With time, however, the situation became unwieldy. Certain groups (called ghulat) were accused of extremism – going too far — and attempts were made to rein them in.[5] Questions arose as to the limits of divergent views, and whether “extremist elements” could still be considered Muslim. The many schools of Islamic thought were reduced to four; these became the basis of the Sunni Shari’a.

As Islamic rule started to become more autocratic, Islamic rulers began to see discord as potentially able to undermine their rule.

All four schools accepted the Quran as the divine word of God, and the hadiths as the source for legal decisions. But it soon became apparent that the larger the number of hadiths a school of thought accepted, the more restrictive and rigid this school became. The Hanafi school of law, for example – the most liberal school of thought, founded by Abu Hanifa (699-767 CE) — accepted over a few thousand hadiths. In contrast, the most restrictive of the four schools – founded by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (778-863 CE) — accepted tens of thousands. It is not surprising, therefore, that in the 18th century Wahhabism — probably one of the most restrictive forms of Islam — developed out of the Hanbali School of law.

The Islamic authorities possibly still worried that despite four schools of thought, dissent would become unmanageable. Towards the end of the eleventh century, therefore, they officially closed the “Gates of Ijtihad.” There may have been too many different answers to the same questions, leading to confusion. Possibly this, in turn, may have made it difficult for the authorities to maintain order as well as to justify their autocratic rule.

Muslim scholars also appear to have decided that as all questions had been addressed, there was no longer any need to exercise independent judgment. The result was that exercising independent judgment became no longer permissible.

During the twelfth century, nevertheless, there were still attempts to use rational and deductive reasoning. In Muslim Spain, for instance, Averroes (aka Ibn Rushd, 1126-1198 CE), one of the founders of secular reasoning in Europe, refused to accept the closing of the Gates of Ijtihad. He continued to use Arabic translations of classical Greek sources, and preferred strictly rational methods to decide matters in contention. As in the Muslim world the Gates of Ijtihad had been closed, however, his rulings proved unacceptable.

********

Muslim attempts to re-open the Gates of Ijtihad

Most of the governments of the Muslim world are despotic regimes run by autocrats who do not allow their citizens to question them. Questioning might lead to insurrection; governments might be overthrown. These leaders, therefore, make sure to appoint “official” religious leaders who will endorse the government line. Ijtihad might lead people to question regimes; a situation that cannot be tolerated. It is not surprising that calls for re-opening the Gates of Ijtihad fall on deaf ears, as the Saudis, Egyptians, Emiratis, and others all do their utmost to stamp out individual thought.

Because questioning religion — and much else — is not allowed, some young Muslims who grow up in Islamic lands find much of what was forced down their throats meaningless, then reject Islam. When some of them come to the West, often their first reaction is to stay as far away from Islam and Muslims as possible. Some, after they remain in the West for a while, stumble upon books about Islam in libraries; they start reading and realize that there is a lot of beauty and knowledge in Islam – just not when forced down their throats. They read, but find almost no one with whom they can share their newfound curiosity.

If and when they do find a kindred spirit, there is often a sort of dance – a tiptoeing around the real questions – mostly out of fear and suspicion. With time, when they realize that other people might have similar interests and feel safe enough to open up, they introduce each other to other men who think like them, but as if these are secret societies: there is a fear that if others, who may not agree, find out what they are discussing, both they and their families back home could suffer. They know well that organized Islam, even in the West, is controlled overwhelmingly by forces that strongly oppose ijtihad.

The internet has offered many the anonymity to pursue an interest in Islam. A surgeon from Malaysia now living in California who says he is happy with his life there, writes on the internet extensively about his fascination with Islam and ijtihad. (See his blog at http://www.bakrimusa.com) His daring has attracted others who write on his blog about Islam. He also boldly states that he could never have engaged in these types of discussions about Islam in his native Malaysia. Could the internet be a way out of this Muslim predicament?

There is also a remarkable group called the Ahl al-Quran[8] which originated in Egypt. The group’s adherents maintain that the only true source of Islamic law is the Quran, the only divine text of Islam. The hadiths and the legal exegesis which constitute Shari’a law, they argue, are just interpretations of the Quran. The interpretations were made by man, and occurred because of problems Muslims had after the Quran was revealed. The scholars addressed problems Muslims faced centuries ago. Muslims in the 21st century, they state, face different problems and should use the Quran – and only the Quran, just as the earliest Islamic scholars did – to find solutions to modern problems. They see no reason why Muslim scholars today cannot think creatively as the scholars of early Islam used to do.

As it is more comfortable to find Quranic material that can be used to address modern situations, and not then feel encumbered by the enormous weight of the hadiths and other legal and interpretive material from ancient religious scholars, an Egyptian organization, Ahl al-Quran, maintains that science and technology are Allah’s gifts to man, to be used to address contemporary problems.

After Egypt’s religious establishment ordered the Ahl al-Quran banned, arrested, or expelled, the group was forced to flee; it is now based in the United States. Why was it forced out? Its adherents, well versed in the Quran, rejected the imposed decision-making of Egypt’s al-Azhar religious establishment,[9] and stated that Islam strongly opposes dictatorship in both its political and religious forms. Instead, this group has been using the Quran to demonstrate that the original Muslim community was inclusive and that it encouraged discussion,[10] both of which today are absent in Egypt and throughout the Muslim world.

When Western officials ask Egyptian political and religious officials about the Ahl al-Quran, the Egyptians laugh and smear the group, labeling its members as crazy extremists with no following. Sadly, because of our ignorance of Islamic culture, or political pressures, we usually accept what the Egyptian government officials tell us without subjecting their remarks to “our own ijtihad,” thereby closing our eyes to a force which could help save the Muslim world from itself, and possibly even help prevent a clash between the Western and Muslim worlds.

Conclusion

Is there a chance that the Muslims could reopen the Gates of Ijtihad? For the foreseeable future, the answer seems to be a resounding no. The mislabeled “Arab Spring” has turned into an “Arab Winter” in which the forces who apparently want to recreate an imagined, glorious past society modeled after what they believe their prophet established. Add to that the huge amounts of money Wahhabi “allies” of the U.S. are spending throughout the Muslim world, to propagate their militant version of Islam, and things do not look promising.

Those who understand that without itjihad, they have no future, are being forced underground, and, if they are lucky, then emigrate. These emigrants who think critically rarely move into Islamic communities where critical thinking is discouraged.

The way things look now, only if the forces which want to bring back seventh century Islamic society were to suffer a massive defeat, could there be much hope. Only then, after the anti-ijtihad forces were defeated and no longer had access to unlimited financial resources with which to spread their anti-critical thinking, can things change.

Until then, the Gates of Ijtihad will almost assuredly remain tightly shut, and the forces which now control Islam will see to it that they remain so.

Regrettably, if this analysis is correct, the future does not look able to be transformed for the Muslim world or its adherents in the near future. Until Muslim countries and communities in the West allow their people to express themselves freely — without fear of reprisal — it is unlikely that the Muslim world will be able to reopen the Gates of Ijtihad and again become a center of science and creativity as it used to be in the early centuries of Islam.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Harold Rhode received in Ph.D. in Ottoman History and later served as the Turkish Desk Officer at the US Department of Defense. He is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

See also:

Dr. Tawfik Hamid: Islam Needs Modern Interpretation (radicalislam.org)

Can Islam reform?

imagesCAD55194By James Lewis

When liberals sound out on religious fundamentalism they never seem to think of Islam. Yet the Religion of Surrender — Islam means “surrender,” not “peace” — is by far the most fundamentalist religion in the world.

Everything is supposed to go back to the Qur’an, written in the Arabian Desert in the 7th century, straight from the mouth of Allah and therefore impossible to question. If you can’t question something you’re set for mind-lock, and all the troubles flow from that.

As historian Bernard Lewis points out, Islamic civilization always gets stuck in dogmatism whenever the fundamentalist priesthood takes over. That is why the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution took place in Europe and then America, and not in Muslim Persia, Spain or Ottoman Turkey. In a rigidly closed society everybody becomes mind-locked. We can see it every day in the media.

Liberals claim that the US Constitution should be a ‘living document” — meaning they want it dead. Well, the Quran brings the ancient desert war of Mohammed back to life. There’s a living document that’ll kill ya! That kind of fundamentalism is utterly stuck in a dysfunctional past.

Liberals respect the Qur’an more than the US Constitution. The Qur’an runs a billion Muslim minds, half of them women living under virtual house arrest, and subject to constant fear and indoctrination — and murder if they try to escape.

Liberals respect that kind of thing.

When Muslims encounter the modern world they may yearn for freedom, or they may wish to go back to the mythical past. They feel torn between past and future, just like other, less militant creeds.

The battle for civilization will be won or lost in their minds and in ours.

Civilized peoples always hope to fight a war of ideas, so that we will not have to fight a hot war. But peace is not won by cowards. If you can’t stand up for your beliefs during family holidays — politely but firmly — you have not yet begun to fight.

Conservatives have to bear a share of the blame for the victory of radical liberalism in the recent election. Not all the blame, but we have not done enough. Half of America is on our side, at least 100 million people.

We must begin by standing up for our beliefs to friends, family, local leaders, then nationally and internationally. This is a worldwide struggle.

You have in your hands the most fabulous tool ever invented for outreach. If we don’t use computers and the web, as well as personal contacts, to stand for our values, nobody else will do it for us. When we stand up for our values we also empower others to do the same thing.

So far the United States and our “allies” have failed dismally to stand up for our values. We keep surrendering to barbarians, a sure formula for civilizational defeat. It is abject cowardice, and there’s no excuse. None.

The answer to the election of 2012 is not to retreat from our principles, but to redouble our efforts, work smarter and harder, do retail politics — everything is local — and never, never, never, never give in. Churchill had it right. Persistence wins the day.

The election did not change right or wrong, good or evil. They are what they are. A lost election is a setback. So was Valley Forge. So was the Battle of the Bulge.

Our history is full of setbacks followed by victories.

We need to read history. This isn’t the first time control freaks have tried to take over. King George was a control freak. Slavery in the South was bloody control freakery.

Abe Lincoln was the first Republican president of the United States, and contrary to media myths, Republicans have stood for freedom when the Democrats stood for slavery, Jim Crow, the Soviet Union and the Chicago Machine.

In a few places like India there are peaceful Islamic sects, but Saudi Arabia and Iran are run by totalitarian war cults. The Saudis were pure desert warriors until the British Empire raised them to power a century ago. Even Karl Marx couldn’t get more fundamentalist than the Wahhabis, a tiny sect with oceans of oil money to buy corrupt socialist parties and media.

When we see mosques rising today we should see them as another sign that Saudi oil money is coming back to destroy constitutional government. Saudi religious fundamentalism can’t tolerate real freedom, just as radical socialism can’t. You can see it in the liberal media and their politicians. Hillary’s recent PR bomb against Israel did not happen by chance. Those pro-jihadist PR bombs show all the signs of being orchestrated, because normal people don’t mouth the identical words on cue, day after day, like the Hollywood liberal artillery brigade.

Normal people have diverse beliefs. Only ideological monopolies repeat the same slogan over and over again. Presumably somebody pays for those PR bombs. They are much too predictable to be accidental.

No major religion today is as fundamentalist as Islam. If you doubt that, kindly explain which Christian or Jewish sect would commit the atrocities of 9/11? Southern Baptists? Holy Rollers? The Lubavitcher rebbe? What religious Christian or Jew believes that God wants him to commit those civilian massacres that constantly plague the Muslim world?

We stand in horror of the murder of children in Newtown, CT. We should. That is what civilized people do. But let a hundred Shi’ite pilgrims in Iraq be blown to pieces by Sunni terrorists, and there is no outrage. To liberals, Muslim massacres mean nothing. They don’t fit the agenda.

Everything comes down to ideology. Muslims don’t kill impulsively, but for ideology. When they kill other Muslims it’s because there is no worse enemy than a heretic in their eyes. That is why 40,000 people have died in Syria in a war between Sunnis and Shi’ites that started a thousand years ago.  Talk about being stuck in the past? Talk about religious fundamentalism? In the House of Peace everybody is somebody’s heretic.

It’s like the old Dean Martin song:

Everybody hates somebody sometime

Everybody falls in hate somehow

… but it’s not funny in the real world.

Islam is a fundamentalist religion at war with itself, and with infidels like us, because it preaches a war doctrine rooted in 7th century Arabia. Islam cannot change as long as it stays mind-locked in the 7th century.

So the question Can Islam reform? is no small matter, as Samuel Huntington wrote in his classic The Clash of Civilizations. We don’t know the answer yet. An Islamic Reformation is one of Rumsfeld’s Unknown Unknowns, the biggest one we all face today.

But then every civilizational war starts off as a complete unknown. In 1938 Churchill didn’t know that the civilized world could win against Hitler. He guessed, and then acted on his hope and passion, and made it happen.

We have to become Churchillian again.

There is no other way.

Imperialistic Islam may be able to reform, but only if the civilized world resists with all its might.

Read more at American Thinker

 

Also see:

Dr. Tawfik Hamid: Islam Needs Modern Interpretation (radicalIslam.com)