Islam’s ‘Reformation’ Is Already Here—and It’s Called ‘ISIS’

vcBy Raymond Ibrahim, May 7, 2015:

The idea that Islam needs to reform is again in the spotlight following the recent publication of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.  While Ali makes the argument that Islam can reform—and is in desperate need of taking the extreme measures she suggests to do so—many of her critics offer a plethora of opposing claims, including that Islam need not reform at all.

The one argument not being made, however, is the one I make below—namely, that Islam has already “reformed.”  And violence, intolerance, and extremism—typified by the Islamic State (“ISIS”)—are the net result of this “reformation.”

Such a claim only sounds absurd due to our understanding of the word “reform.”  Yet despite its positive connotations, “reform” simply means 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 connotations.

Muslim notions of “improving” society can include purging it of “infidels” and “apostates,” and segregating Muslim men from women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home. Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—is an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society from a strictly Islamic point of view.

In short, an Islamic reformation will 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 first premises and reference points.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they naturally attribute Western connotations to the word.

Historical Parallels: Islam’s Reformation and the Protestant Reformation

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 current 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—including every atrocity ISIS commits, such as beheading, crucifying, and burning “infidels,” even mocking their corpses—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 teachings 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 exclusively 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” (Bernard Lewis,The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the “reformists,” with ISIS at their head.

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 becoming better acquainted 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.

Christianity and Islam: Antithetical Teachings, Antithetical Results

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 scriptures 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 naturally 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 all 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.

The Islamic Reformation Is Here—and It’s ISIS

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 founders and scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam’s reformation is producing something markedly different.

Put differently, those in the West 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 is precisely what Ayaan Hirsi Ali is doing.  Some of her reforms as outlined in Heretic call for Muslims to begin doubting Muhammad (whose words and deeds are in the Hadith) and the Koran—the very two foundations of Islam.

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

Habitually 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 the example of Muhammad as laid out in the 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 very three things Ali is asking Muslims to start doubting.

The “Islamic reformation” some in the West are calling 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 and history in any meaningful way and still peacefully coexist with, much less complement, modernity the way Christianity does.

Note: An earlier version of this article first appeared on PJ Media in June 2014

Reformist Approach to Sharia a Refreshing Break with Academic Apologists

Rumee-Ahmed-ramadan-770.JPGJihad Watch, by Andrew Harrod, May 2, 2015:

In a refreshing departure from Sharia apologias common in Middle East studies, University of British Columbia Islamic law professor  rejected the “myth” of Sharia (Islamic law) as a “static, fixed, reified entity” on April 22 in the Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies’ wood-paneled boardroom. Ahmed’s presentation, “Shari’a 2.0: Islamic Systematics and the Science of Islamic Legal Reform” before a student-dominated audience of about fifteen, demonstrated simultaneously Sharia’s all-too human origins as well as its embedded dangers.

He described a “sharp, sharp disconnect” between contemporary and historical Islamic interpretations of Sharia. According to the former, Islamic legal scholars substantiated their claim of being central to legitimating Islamic regimes that claimed to rule by God’s law. Yet judges who were not legal scholars often made politically motivated legal decisions that were subject to subsequent overruling by temporal rulers such as caliphs. Campaigning armies, meanwhile, would simply make unilateral decisions without consulting legal scholars on issues such as the division of spoils.

Concerning pre-colonial Islamic legal scholars, Ahmed questioned the power and reputation of such men in a world of three percent literacy. Political patronage could compromise the purity of their intentions. Danger lurked, he noted, since their struggles with rulers could lead to imprisonment or even execution.

Ahmed expressed a “very cynical view” regarding past legal use of Islam’s canonical texts. Quran 8:67-68, concerning the Muslim victory at the Battle of Badr under Muhammad, suggested that taking prisoners manifested a failure to fulfill a divine command to fight the enemy. But “sharp breaks” throughout history in the acceptance of taking and ransoming prisoners by Sunni Islam’sHanafi school of jurisprudence demonstrated how Islamic law responded to political developments with theological reinterpretation.

Practical realities aside, Ahmed described how earlier Islamic legal scholars created in their voluminous writings “subjunctive worlds.” Although these legal visions often had no expectation of implementation, they expressed the “ideal relationship between human beings and God.” “Writing a book of law is never a waste of time,” he noted, but is a “way to express your religiosity” or a “devotional act” similar to prayer. The intricacy of such legal thinking means that attempts to reform a single point of Islamic law on, for example, punishments involving whipping necessitates considering several other elements of Islamic legal theory.

Islamic legal history is replete with controversies surrounding reform, he said. Quran 5:38 was “pretty clear” in mandating hand amputation as punishment for stealing, although some had tried to interpret this verse to mean “cut off their power” with imprisonment. Several hadith, or canonical narratives of Muhammad’s life, however, did indeed mandate amputation and formed a corresponding pre-colonial Islamic legal consensus, contrary practice notwithstanding.

Slavery’s permissibility received a similar “unequivocal yes” in Islamic law sixty or seventy years ago. Political pressures forced Muslim scholars to justify abolition in what Ahmed described as a “little bit of a technical argument” premised on the understanding that “times have changed.” The Islamic State (ISIS), though, has recently reintroduced slavery, arguing that times have changed again.

Other controversies involving Sharia have been addressed creatively, Ahmed noted. The Egyptian jihadist group Gama’a al-Islamiyya, for example, discovered in Western contract law a unique basis for abolishing airline hijacking: the purchaser of an airline ticket may not violate its terms by destroying or seizing the plane. In the political sphere, while many European diaspora Muslims vote simply for the sake of political participation, the Sharia principle of maslaha or public good allows conservative Muslims to participate in non-Muslim politics in order to advance Islam.

One of Ahmed’s Powerpoints stated, “Gender: The Greatest Challenge to Islamic Reform.” “Gender pervades every part of Islamic law,” he explained, a law that was traditionally patriarchal. The Quran, for example 4:11, prescribes half the inheritance for women as for men.

Nonetheless, Sharia’s past malleability made Ahmed optimistic that in Islam, “any law, no matter how entrenched it seems in Muslim texts, can be reformed.” To this end, he is developing an application allowing popular citation of legal arguments and sources in order to “democratize” and “crowdsource Sharia.” That way, less educated and “state-sponsored ulama” (religious scholars) will “not have a monopoly on Islamic law.”

Ahmed himself would like to “get less religion” in Muslim governance, but Sharia is not going to disappear from Muslim societies anytime soon, including pertinent national constitution clauses. An “overwhelming number” of surveyed Muslims expressed a belief in Sharia, often including corporal punishment, as divine. Alternatively, millions of Muslims sought an Islamic theological basis to justify their support for human rights norms such as gender equality. “Context driving law is not just legitimate, it’s inevitable,” he concluded.

Ahmed’s illuminating and refreshingly honest examination of Sharia raised several important concerns surrounding Islamic law and its reform. On one hand, critical examination of Sharia’s past could cause many Muslims to be as reform-minded as Ahmed and to reject Sharia as a divinely-ordained, unalterable legal code that demands future application. On the other hand, Sharia contains serious moral failings not easily resolved even with the most sophisticated (or sophistic) Islamic theological and legal arguments.

As presented by Ahmed, Islamic law suffers from an unwieldy, unstable, and incoherent structure stemming from Islam’s doctrinal foundations. As one of his slides stated, Islam’s arbitrary conception of God is “beyond our moral code.” Islamic norms then derive from Muhammad, who “is supposed to be the pristine believer” in Islamic teaching and thus, according to some Islamic teachings, incapable of sin. On the basis of the life of this seventh-century desert dweller, Islamic law has accepted slavery while possessing an “unnecessary amount of information on the law of wells.” Developing modern legal standards for a free society within such a body of law will be difficult indeed, which is why Ahmed’s insistence on reform is so important.

Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project; follow him on twitter at @AEHarrod. He wrote this essay for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

The Search for “Moderate Islam”

Goodbye Cruel WorldPhilos Project, by Andrew Harrod, April 8, 2015:

Critical observers should be cautious when presented with the idea of a moderate Islam. While keynote speakers at a recent Washington Institute for Near East Policypresentation asked their audience to believe that this ideal is not only attainable, but already a reality, their articulation of a true Islamic religion of peace fell short of convincing the crowd – and rightly so.

“Fighting for Moderate Islam: Ideas and Activism on the New Front Line” was headlined by The Washington Institute’s David Pollock, who opened the event by explaining that would-be Islamic reformers like Washington Institute colleague Mohammed Dajani are in considerable danger because of their beliefs. Assailants torched Dajani’s car at his Jerusalem home the day his article “A Plea for Moderate Islam” appeared, and this was only one of many threats to the man’s life. Dajani described the about-face he made after witnessing the generous humanity of his “perceived enemy,” Israel, and recounted how ill-received his Saul-to-Paul-like conversion was from his fellow Palestinians.

During his tenure as a professor at Jerusalem’s Al Quds University, Dajani faced accusations of CIA recruitment and the teaching of “American Islam.” Experiences he faced while leading a 2014 student trip to the Nazi death camp memorial at Auschwitz, a topic of Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories among majority-Muslim communities, finally forced his resignation.

American Islamic Congress co-founder and executive director Zainab Al-Suwaij said that she is constantly worried about threats similar to Dajani’s – not just abroad, but here at home. Al-Suwaij, the Iraqi granddaughter of a Shiite ayatollah, fled Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship after participating in the 1991 post-Gulf War revolt to overthrow Hussein before establishing her career and family in the United States. Soberly, she said that Al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States made her realize that “the terror I had left behind is not always back there.”

Al-Suwaij said that extremism within the American Muslim community is dehumanizing and is “spreading like a cancer – quietly.” She pointed out that this form of jihadism in America has often been masked by moderation since the events of 9/11, giving the false illusion that “we are now in a safer place.”

An attendee at President Barack Obama’s Countering Violent Extremism summit, Al-Suwaij said that she would have preferred that the event be titled “Countering Radical Islamism,” which was the actual focus of the president’s summit. Although Al-Suwaij said that “Muslims and Islam – their religion – are the first victims of this dangerous ideology,” she was reticent to give specifics about the Islamist backgrounds of groups like theCouncil on American-Islamic Relations or the Islamic Society of North America.

Al-Suwaij said that what she sought most of all was “a voice of moderate Islam” that involved a reinterpretation of Islamic canonical texts. She said that this was not unheard of, but had occurred fairly often in Islamic history – albeit mostly due to pressure from Islamic regimes, not from the Muslim grassroots. She accused groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria of their own kind of brutal revisionism.

In all, Al-Suwaij said that she was optimistic that the social climate within Islamic communities would change for the better. Although extreme groups like ISIS have limited appeal among Muslims, she attributed deficient American Muslim anti-extremism efforts to the widespread desire of those who simply want to live a “normal life” without political fights. After all, many American Muslims simply do not care to air their dirty laundry for the world to see.

Seconding Al-Suwaij’s call for ideological warfare, Dajani said that another “version of Islam” is needed, in the face of groups like the Islamic State. He said that it was wrong for struggles against jihadist threats to consume so much military attention while “soft messages” that can influence Islam get little notice. Hence his assertion that Israel’s anti-terrorism barrier (the “wall”) was ineffective and consumed resources that would be better spent winning Palestinian friendship with development aid. His overgenerous spirit also included former ISIS fighters who were disillusioned when they returned to their home countries. His prescription: “Don’t treat them like criminals; embrace them.”

Dajani’s devil came in his theological details. To promote his vision of Islam, he founded the Wasatia Reconciliation Center, an organization whose name is derived from the Arabic word wasat from Quran 2:143, a word that can mean “middle ground.” Although Dajani said that he seeks to avoid extremes, his online explanatory documents note that, in the “Holy Quran,” wasat also “means justice, righteousness and goodness,” as various English Quran translations indicate. A writer at Islamic Revival argued that wasat “is unrelated to being extreme or moderate,” but requires the Muslim community to “resume the Islamic way of life by re-establishing the true State of Islam.”

Similarly shallow canonical foundations can also be found in Dajani’s rejection of Islamic anti-Semitism. He failed to counter copious instances of Islamic anti-Semitism such as a well-known, infamous canonical saying – or hadith – of Muhammad that predicted a genocidal end-times battle with the Jews. While Dajani called this hadith “fabricated,” Islam scholar Martin Kramer countered by saying its authenticity is “rated triple-A.”

Dajani also cited a hadith that described the Prophet Muhammad’s standing in respect for the funeral bier of a Jew, but more detailed Islamic interpretations explained that the prophet had merely stood for the angels who were receiving that Jew’s soul.

In a later interview, Dajani clarified that he hopes most of all to build “bridges of understanding” between people of various faiths whose values are common among religions. He rejected a “radical school” that believes “Islam has come to correct the other religions, rather than to complement other religions,” even though such correction is standard Islamic dogma. “Taken as a whole, the Quran’s moral message is consistent,” he said, but his evaluation rejects Islam’s abrogation doctrine, under which chronologically later, aggressive Quran verses replace earlier, tolerant passages.

Dajani’s presentation expressed optimism in winning over the Muslim people, but conceded that “people tell me that this is a one-man effort.” He and Al-Suwaij undoubtedly mean well, but Islam’s often violent, intolerant canons present steep theological hurdles to developing an Islam with a human face. Al-Suwaij and Dajani’s well-wishers should look before they make any leap of faith on the basis of an Islamic reform project.

Sisi’s religious revolution gets underway

 

By Michele Antaki:

Last week, the news spread across the web that Egypt’s President Al-Sisi had “cancelled Islamic education” in all of Egypt. Was it in fulfillment of his New Year call for a religious revolution?  Was that dramatic announcement for real or a just a wild rumor?

Bonjour Egypte, a French-language online publication, announced on February 20th that Al-Sisi’s Ministry of Education had “published a manual of values and ethics, for all levels of education, after canceling the program of Islamic education.” It added: “The decision is explained by the lack of moral values in the Egyptian street. Sissi, a champion of secularism and an enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood, has canceled the teaching of Islam in the schools of Egypt.”

The same word-for-word announcement had already been made by a different publication on 26 June 2014, only to be denied as a fake in an online forum one day later.

On February 22, in the Saudi holy city of Mecca where a counter-terrorism conference was held in the aftermath of the slaughter of 21 Copts by the Islamic State, Grand Imam Ahmed Tayyeb called for a radical reform of religious education to prevent the misinterpretation of the Quran by extremists. “The only hope for Muslim nations to restore their unity is to deal with this Takfiri trend [accusing other Muslims of being unbelievers] in our schools and universities.” He offered no indication whether this reform had been effected in Egypt and to what extent.

When Sisi called for a religious revolution on January 1st, 2015 before an assembly of ulema and clerics at prestigious Al-Azhar University, the world caught its breath. Could it be that the leader of a great Muslim nation, seat of the foremost Sunni Islamic learning center, was truly intent on carrying out such a historic and unprecedented reform?

Sisi knew that in requesting the revisiting of the “corpus of texts and ideas” that had been “sacralized over the years” and were “antagonizing the entire world,” he was taking enormous risks and not endearing himself to the radical fringes of his people. And indeed, voices calling out for his death were quickly heard on programs broadcast by Turkey-based Muslim Brotherhood channels: “Anyone who kills Egyptian President Abdel Al-Fattah Al-Sisi and the journalists who support him would be doing a good deed,” said Salama Abdel Al-Qawi on Rabea TV.  On Misr Alaan TV, Wagdi Ghoneim clamored that “whoever can bring us the head of one of these dogs and Hell-dwellers” would be “rewarded by Allah.”

In calling for a ‘religious revolution,’ Sisi also knew that he was up against tremendous odds, owing to Al-Azhar’s educational curricula that had been promoting a radical Salafist and Wahhabist brand of Islam for quite some time.

On Jan 4, the popular satellite TV host Ibrahim Issa showed, with book in hand, that what Al-Azhar taught in its curricula was exactly what Daesh [ISIS] practiced. To wit, that “all adult, free and able men” were to “kill infidels,” and do so “without so much as a prior notice or even an invitation to embrace Islam.” Issa, in his characteristically refreshing and funny style, chided his audience for being so deeply in denial. “So you find Daesh horrible, don’t you? Oh dear, oh dear! But why, when Daesh does exactly what Al-Azhar teaches?” He added that there was “no hope that Al-Azhar would ever lead the “religious revolution’” requested by Sisi, unless Al-Azhar was first willing to “reform itself.”  For how could an entity that was “part of the problem be also part of the solution?”

As Sisi had done, Issa made the distinction between religion/doctrine/belief (deen/ akida) on the one hand, and the thinking/ideology (fikr) on the other. He further explained that what was meant by the latter was the body of interpretative and non-core texts — such as Bukhari’s Hadith, for example, which narrated violent episodes taken from the lives of the Prophet’s companions. Those were amenable to re-interpretation in terms of contextual relevance.

In an earlier, Dec.14 program, Al-Azhar refused to consider the Islamic State as an apostate. On Dec.11, Al-Azhar had called the Islamic State criminal while insisting that “No believer can be declared an apostate, regardless of his sins.”  Nonsense, opined Issa. Apostasy had been declared many times against believers. The real reason for the reluctance was simply that ISIS’s practices were based on Al-Azhar’s teachings,[i] which had been allowed to stand for decades with the regrettable connivance and complicity of the State. Consequently, if ISIS was now declared an apostate, so should Al-Azhar.

Issa’s views echoed those of Sheikh Mohammed Abdallah Nasr, a former Al-Azhar student and a leading figure of the “Azhariyyun” Civil State Front, which is opposed to political Islam. “Although many consider Al-Azhar a representative of moderate Islam, its curricula incite hatred, discrimination and intolerance, and are a doctrinal reference for the Islamic State,” he said to MCN direct.

Read more at American Thinker

Michele Antaki was raised in Egypt and France. LLM of Law – France. PG Diploma of Conference Interpretation – UK. She was a UN interpreter in NY for 27 years in 4 languages – Arabic, English, French, Spanish.

Also see:

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser: How to Win the New Cold War Against Muslim Theocracy

Published on Mar 8, 2015 by Rebel Media

Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy tells TheRebel.media’s Brian Lilley how the West should fight the spread of Muslim supremacism here and abroad.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Obama Must Confront the Threat of Radical Islam

An ISIS member waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014.

An ISIS member waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014.

ISIS is recruiting young Muslims from around the globe to Jihad, and the White House apparently doesn’t understand why

Time, By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Feb. 20, 2015:

How can the Obama Administration miss the obvious? Part of the answer lies in the groups “partnering” with, or advising, the White House on these issues. Groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council or the Islamic Society of North America insist that there should be no more focus at the Summit on radical Islam than on any other violent movements, even as radical Islamic movements continue to expand their influence in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Nigeria, and elsewhere.

Amplifying a poor choice of Muslim outreach partners, however, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups such as ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause. Yet, if this were true, why do so many young Muslims who live in societies with excellent governance—Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, the United States—either join ISIS or engage in Jihadist violence in their own countries? Why do young Muslims with promising professional futures embark on the path of Jihad?

Neither the Summit partners nor the U.S. Administration can effectively answer these questions.

Both Denmark and the Netherlands have “good governance.” Denmark and the Netherlands not only offer free health insurance but also free housing to Muslim refugees, along with high-quality education for their children. This should produce an outpouring of gratitude by young Muslims towards the host society, and no Jihadists.

Yet there are dozens of Jihadists hailing from the Netherlands and a recent attack in Copenhagen was committed by a man who was raised in Denmark and had effectively enjoyed years of Danish hospitality.

The question is not limited to Europe. Minnesota, for instance, is hardly a state with “bad governance.” Minnesota offers ample opportunity for immigrants willing to work hard. Yet more than a dozen young men from the Twin Cities area have joined the Jihadist movement in recent years.

How can Barack Obama or John Kerry explain this? Based on President Obama’s public statements and John Kerry’s analysis in The Wall Street Journal, they cannot.

It is worth remembering Aafia Siddiqui, the M.I.T.-educated neuroscientist who could have enjoyed a prestigious and lucrative career in the bio-tech industry but instead chose to embrace radical Islam, eventually becoming known as “Lady Al-Qaida.”

Or think of the three Khan siblings who recently sought to leave Chicago in order to go live in Syria under the rule of ISIS. The Khan sister, intelligent and studious, had planned to become a physician. The siblings were intercepted before they could fly out of the country, and prosecutors argue they wanted to join armed Jihad. Defense attorneys have a different explanation, stating the siblings desperately wanted to live under a society ruled by Shariah law—under the rule of Allah’s laws, without necessarily wanting to commit acts of violence.

It is this motivation—the sincere desire to live under Islamic religious laws, and the concomitant willingness to use violence to defend the land of Islam and expand it—that has led thousands of Western Muslims, many of them young and intelligent—and not the oft-described “losers”—to leave a comfortable professional and economic future in the West in order to join ISIS under gritty circumstances.

In its general strategy, the U.S. Administration confounds two things. It is true that in “failed states” criminal networks, cartels, and terrorist groups can operate with impunity. Strengthening central governments will reduce safe havens for terror networks. Secretary Kerry’s argument in The Wall Street Journal is different, however, namely: If we improve governance in countries with “bad governance,” then fewer young people will become “violent extremists.” That’s a different argument and not a plausible one. In fact, it’s a really unpersuasive argument. Muslims leave bright, promising futures to join ISIS out of a sense of sincere religious devotion, the wish to live under the laws of Allah instead of the laws of men.

In reading Kerry’s piece, I am glad that in the late 1940s the U.S. had people such as George Kennan employed in its service to see the Communist threat clearly and describe it clearly. But where is today’s Kennan in this administration? Who in the U.S. government is willing to describe the threat of radical Islam without fear of causing offense to several aggressive Islamic lobby groups?

American policymakers do not yet understand Islamism or what persuades young Muslims to join Jihad: sincere religious devotion based on the core texts of Islam, in particular early Islam’s politicized and aggressive period in Medina (compared to Islam’s spiritual and ascetic period in Mecca).

How does one tackle misguided religious devotion of young Muslims? The answer lies in reforming Islam profoundly—not radical Islam, but mainstream Islam; its willingness to merge Mosque and State, religion, and politics; and its insistence that its elaborate system of Shariah law supersedes civil laws created by human legislators. In such a reform project lies the hope for countering Islamism. No traditional Islamic lobbying group committed to defending the reputation of Islam will recommend such a policy to the U.S. government. Yet until American policymakers grapple with the need for such reform, the real problem within Islam will remain unresolved.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is the founder of the AHA Foundation and the author of Infidel, Nomad, and the forthcoming Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation, to be published next spring.

Sisi’s Brave New Egypt?

El-Sisi (1)Frontpage, by Raymond Ibrahim, Jan. 21, 2015:

Originally published by PJ Media.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues to be the antithesis of longstanding mainstream media portrayals of him.

First there was his historic speech where he, leader of the largest Arab nation, and a Muslim, accused Islamic thinking of being the scourge of humanity—in words that no Western leader would dare utter. This remarkable speech—which some say should earn him the Nobel Peace Prize—might have fallen by the wayside had it not been posted on my website and further disseminated by PJ Media’s Roger L. Simon, Michael Ledeen, Roger Kimball, and many others, including Bruce Thornton and Robert Spencer.

Instead, MSM headlines on the day of and days after Sisi’s speech included “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1), “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2), and “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3).

Of course, the MSM finally did report on Sisi’s speech—everyone else seemed to know about it—but, again, to portray Sisi in a negative light. Thus, after briefly quoting the Egyptian president’s call for a “religious revolution,” the New York Times immediately adds:

Others, though, insist that the sources of the violence are alienation and resentment, not theology. They argue that the authoritarian rulers of Arab states — who have tried for decades to control Muslim teaching and the application of Islamic law — have set off a violent backlash expressed in religious ideas and language.

In other words, jihadi terror is a product of Sisi, whom the NYT habitually portrays as an oppressive autocrat—especially for his attempts to try to de-radicalize Muslim sermons and teachings (as discussed in this article).

Next, Sisi went to the St. Mark Coptic Cathedral during Christmas Eve Mass to offer Egypt’s Christian minority his congratulations and well wishing. Here again he made history as the first Egyptian president to enter a church during Christmas mass—a thing vehemently criticized by the nation’s Islamists, including the Salafi party (Islamic law bans well wishing to non-Muslims on their religious celebrations, which is why earlier presidents—Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, and of course Morsi—never attended Christmas mass).

Accordingly, the greetings Sisi received from the hundreds of Christians present were jubilant. His address was often interrupted by applause, clapping, and cheers of “We love you!” and “hand in hand”—phrases he reciprocated. Part of his speech follows:

Egypt has brought a humanistic and civilizing message to the world for millennia and we’re here today to confirm that we are capable of doing so again. Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. This is why we mustn’t call ourselves anything other than “Egyptians.” This is what we must be—Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that Allah willing, Allah willing, we shall build our nation together, accommodate each other, make room for each other, and we shall like each other—love each other, love each other in earnest, so that people may see… So let me tell you once again, Happy New Year, Happy New Year to you all, Happy New Year to all Egyptians!

Sisi stood side-by-side with Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II—perhaps in remembrance of the fact that, when General Sisi first overthrew President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with him—and paid a heavy price: the Brotherhood and its sympathizers unleashed a Kristallnacht of “reprisals” that saw 82 Christian churches in Egypt attacked, many destroyed.

It is also significant to recall where Sisi came to offer his well-wishing to the Christians: the St. Mark Cathedral—Coptic Christianity’s most sacred church which, under Muhammad Morsi was, for the first time in its history, savagely attacked, by both Islamists and the nation’s security (see pictures here).

Once again, all of this has either been ignored or underplayed by most mainstream media.

There is, of course, a reason the MSM, which apparently follows the Obama administration’s lead, has been unkind to Sisi. One will recall that, although Sisi led the largest revolution in world history—a revolution that saw tens of millions take to the streets and ubiquitous signs and banners calling on U.S. President Obama and U.S. ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson to stop supporting terrorism (i.e., the Brotherhood)—U.S. leadership, followed by media, spoke only of a “military coup” against a “democratically elected president,” without pointing out that this president was pushing a draconian, Islamist agenda on millions who rejected it.

So what is the significance of all this—of Sisi? First, on the surface, all of this is positive. That Sisi would criticize the Muslim world and Islamic texts and thinking—in ways his Western counterparts could never—and then continue his “controversial” behavior by entering the Coptic Christian cathedral during Christmas mass to offer his greetings to Christians—a big no-no for Muslim leaders—is unprecedented. Nor can all this be merely for show. In the last attack on a Coptic church, it was two Muslim police officers guarding the church who died—not the Christian worshipers inside—a rarity.

That Sisi remains popular in Egypt also suggests that a large percentage of Egyptians approve of his behavior. Recently, for instance, after the Paris attacks, Amru Adib, host of Cairo Today, made some extremely critical comments concerning fellow Muslims/Egyptians, including by asking them “Are you, as Muslims, content with the fact that today we are all seen as terrorists by the world?… We [Egyptians] used to bring civilization to the world, today what? — We are barbarians!  Barbarians I tell you!” (More of Adib’s assertions here.)

That said, the others are still there—the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, those whom we call “Islamists,” and their many sympathizers and allies.

Worst of all, they have that “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas” that has been “sacralized over the centuries” (to use Sisi’s own words) to support them—texts and ideas that denounce Sisi as an “apostate” deserving of death, and thus promising a continued struggle for the soul of Egypt.

Also see:

Sisi Is Just Another Caliphate-Idealizing Apologist For Islam Whose In-Actions Speak Louder Than His Hollow Words (andrewbostom.org)

Egyptian president has more guts to speak out about radical Islam than Obama [VIDEO]

al-sisi-egypt-elec_2921226bBy Allen West, Jan. 10. 2015:

Last night, I watched the movie “Fury” which depicts the brutality of fighting total war in close combat in the armor and infantry against the enemy — the final days of World War II against Germany. I found it rather strange and somehow timely to watch this film after what happened this past week in France. Sometime, someplace, there will have to be a leader who steps forth and understands the concept of civilizational warfare. There has to be one who can define and face the enemy and inspire a nation to seek victory. We are looking for such a leader in the West, but perhaps someone will come from another place to inspire us.

As reported in The Washington Times by my friend Charles Ortel, “The biggest story not yet covered appropriately in mainstream media plays out now in Egypt, where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi attacks the root causes of continuing conflict between certain adherents of Islam and freedom-loving secularists, in defiance of President Obama and of fierce critics.”

 

“Living in a nation of 87 million persons, where an estimated 90 percent are Muslim, President el-Sisi is certain that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization, or a force for good and so his government holds hundreds of members of that organization in prison, where many face death sentences, including former President Mohammed Morsi. To see what President el-Sisi confronts now, peruse the still-operating English language website of the brotherhood.”

It is truly fascinating that here is the one leader in the Muslim world who has the courage not only to confront the enemy, but also its ideology. After all, it was el-Sisi who has taken on the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamists in Egypt, the Sinai and in neighboring Libya.

The former general has also stood against the Islamic terror group Hamas. But what confounds me is not his actions –truly heroic — but the actions of our own president, Barack Hussein Obama. It was Obama who in 2009 went to the University of Cairo and delivered a speech where he requested Muslim Brotherhood members should appear front and center. It was Obama who applauded the ascension of Mohammad Morsi as Egypt’s president. And it has been Obama who has seemingly turned his back on Egypt since its ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood. There’s that nagging question of allegiance again.

When it came down to choosing between Hamas, Turkey, and Qatar as opposed to Israel and Egypt — under el-Sisi — our president chose the former, not the latter. And now, it is el-Sisi who is calling out the Islamists and the clerics, mullahs, imams who are causing strife globally.

As Charles writes, “President el-Sisi plays for his life against determined internal and external opposition while President Obama merely preens before friendly partisan crowds. Recently this year, the fully engaged leader of Egypt began a drive to reform Islam from within. His address to religious authorities at Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Jan. 1 is a stunning “must-read” and “must-share” development that only now is getting attention it so richly deserves. Wednesday, President el-Sisi put in a public appearance at a Christmas mass in Cairo — an historic first in Egypt’s modern history.” Funny, here in America we’re struggling in some places just to say Merry Christmas.

There couldn’t be any bigger contrast in leadership at a critical time such as this.

From the events this week in Paris we must learn that we cannot shy away from defining this enemy. The cultural jihadist apologists must no longer be given a platform. It is unbelievable that anyone would refer to the Islamic terrorists who wrought savage carnage this week as “activists.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah e-Sisi has shown us that we must fight the ideology which fuels the jihad. We cannot win this battle by denying who the enemy is — and if it takes the Egyptian president to show us the way — well, Molon Labe!

Coalition of Concerned Citizens Seeks Response to El Sisi’s Call for “Religious Revolution”

 

January 7, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today letters were issued to several Islamic organizations in the United States by a Coalition of concerned citizens to get their official response to recent comments by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The organizations contacted for their response included the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the North American Islamic Trust.

The Coalition sought responses for the following questions:

  • Is it the position of your organization that the imams of Al Azhar have a responsibility to renounce the “mindset” of jihad, conquest, and, as suggested by President Sisi, genocide of the world’s non-Muslims?
  • Is it the position of your organization that the time is right for a “religious revolution,” as President Sisi stated?
  • Is it the position of your organization that jihad is a holy obligation for all Muslims?

On New Year’s Day, President Sisi addressed the famous Egyptian University, Al Azhar. Occasionally called the “Vatican” of Islam, Al Azhar is a major center of Sunni Islamic thought, one of the most important scholarly institutions in the Islamic world.

President Sisi urged the imams (religious leaders) at Al Azhar to denounce the violence and revolution that has defined the Middle East since the Arab Spring. He urged the venerable institution to condemn the idea that “1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!”

Since the Arab Spring, the moderate and stable regimes have been under sustained assault by terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other affiliated networks. President Sisi came to power in Egypt following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, who is himself a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

President Sisi’s speech is seen as a direct challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood and the idea that jihad, or war against non-Muslims, must define Islam. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, jihad is the duty of all Muslims, and the highest honor for Muslims is actual death fighting jihad. (The motto of the organization states, “God is our objective; the Qur’an is the Constitution; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; death for the sake of God is our wish.”)

In November, CAIR and MAS were designated as terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have also designated the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic umbrella organization operating around the world, including in the United States, as a terrorist organization.

The Coalition, which includes retired military leaders, journalists, and citizen activists, will publicly release any and all responses from these organizations.

Below is a copy of the letter sent to the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Identical letters were sent to the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim American Society, the North American Islamic Trust, and various chapters of the Muslim Students Association.

LETTER TO THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA

January 7, 2015

Mr. Azhar Azeez
Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
P.O. Box 38
Plainfield, IN 46168

Dear Mr. Azeez:

This is a request for your organization’s official response to the speech given by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

On New Year’s Day, President Sisi stated (in part) before an audience at Al Azhar University in Cairo:

“I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

In light of President Sisi’s comments, we ask for public clarification on the following points:

  • Is it the position of ISNA that the imams of Al Azhar have a responsibility to renounce the “mindset” of jihad, conquest, and, as suggested by President Sisi, genocide of the world’s non-Muslims?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that the time is right for a “religious revolution,” as President Sisi stated?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that jihad is a holy obligation for all Muslims?

Please note that this letter will be made public and published. We look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Wallace Bruschweiler
Data Security Holdings

Leslie Burt
The Counter Jihad Report

Mark Kohan
Conservative Party USA

Trevor Loudon
New Zeal Blog

Gary Kubiak & Dick Manasseri
S.E. Michigan 9.12 Tea Party

Terresa Monroe-Hamilton
NoisyRoom.net

Charles Ortel
Washington Times Columnist

William Palumbo
Qatar Awareness Campaign

Brent Parrish
The Right Planet

Thomas E. Snodgrass, Colonel, USAF (Ret)
Right Side News

Hannah Szenes
Journalist

Paul E. Vallely, Major General, US Army (Ret)
Stand Up America

The Significance of Sisi’s Speech

Raymond Ibrahim, Jan. 7, 2015:

On New Year’s Day, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi—the hero of Egypt’s 2013 anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution—made some remarkable comments concerning the need for a “religious revolution.”

Watch the video below or click here to read the excerpt:

 

Sisi made his remarks during a speech celebrating the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad—which was ironically held on January 1, 2015 (a day not acknowledged or celebrated in the Muslim world as it is based on a Christian calendar)—and he was addressing the nation’s top Islamic authorities from among the Awqaf Ministry (religious endowments) and Al Azhar University.

Although Sisi’s words were directed to Islam’s guardians and articulators, they indirectly lead to several important lessons for Western observers.

First, in just a few words, Sisi delivered a dose of truth and hard-hitting reality concerning the Islamic world’s relationship to the rest of the world—a dose of reality very few Western leaders dare think let alone proclaim.

“It’s inconceivable,” he said, “that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!”

What a refreshingly honest statement to come from not only a political leader but a Muslim political leader who has much to lose, not least his life!  Contrast his very true words with the habitual reassurances of the Western establishment that Islamic world violence and intolerance is a product of anything and everything but Islam.

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Even after the appearance of the head-chopping, infidel-crucifying Islamic State, politicians like U.S. President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Cameron insisted that the “caliphate” is not Islamic, despite all the evidence otherwise. Yet here is Sisi, the pious Muslim, saying that the majority of the terrorism plaguing the world today is related to the holy texts of Islam themselves:

That thinking [that is responsible for producing “anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” around the world]—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

As a Muslim, Sisi will not say that Islam, the “religion,” is responsible for “antagonizing the entire world,” but he certainly goes much further than his Western counterparts when he says that this “thinking” is rooted in an Islamic “corpus of texts and ideas” which have become so “sacralized.”

Recall that here in the West, Islamic terrorists are seen as mere “criminals” and their terrorism as “crimes” without mention of any Islamic text or ideology driving them.

The Egyptian president further invoked the classical Islamic teaching—the “thinking”—that divides the world into two warring halves: the Muslim world (or in Islamic/Arabic parlance, Dar al-Islam) which must forever be in a struggle with the rest of the world (or Dar al-Harb, the “abode of war”) till, in the Koran’s words, “all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39).

“Is it possible,” asked Sisi, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live?”

Sisi made another important point that Western leaders and media habitually lie about: after affirming that Islamic “thinking” is “antagonizing the entire world,” he said that “this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

In other words, Islamic terrorism and chaos is not a product of grievance, territorial disputes, colonialism, Israel, offensive cartoons, or anything else the West points to.  It’s a product of their “own hands.”

Again, one must appreciate how refreshing it is for a top political leader in the heart of the Islamic world to make such candid admissions that his Western counterparts dare not even think let alone speak. And bear in mind, Sisi has much to lose as opposed to Western politicians.  Calls by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists that he is an apostate are sure to grow more aggressive now.

The critic may ask, “All well and good, but words aside, what has Sisi actually done to help bring about this “religious revolution”?  In fact, one popular journalist, Ibrahim Eissa, recently said just this on live television in Egypt:

Five months have passed since he [Sisi] became president, after his amazing showing at elections.  Okay: the president has, more than once, indicated the need for a renewal of religious discourse….  But he has not done a single thing, President Sisi, to renew religious discourse.  Nothing at all.

Yet it seems that Sisi has an answer for this, too: it is not his job as president of Egypt to reform the thinking of the Islamic world; rather, that role belongs to the ulema—which is precisely why he addressed them with such candid words.  Indeed, he repeatedly stressed that it is the ulema’s job to lead this “religious revolution.”

Thus, “I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move…. I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.”

Meanwhile, while Sisi was making these groundbreaking if not historic statements, the Western mainstream media, true to form, ignored them and instead offered puerile and redundant headlines, most critical of Sisi, like:

  • “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC, Jan 1; to which I respond, “Why, so Al Jazeera can continue lying and misleading the West about Sisi and Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution?”)
  •  “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2; to which I respond, “Homosexuals live in fear in all Islamic nations, regardless of Sisi.”)
  •  “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3; to which I respond, “Who cares?  Only her innocence or guilt matter, not her husband’s fame”—which is the only reason Fox News chose the story in the first place.)

Whether concerning the true nature of Islam or the true nature of Sisi, here is the latest example of how unfathomably ignorant all those millions of people who exclusively follow the so-called “mainstream media” must surely be.

Also see:

In light of President Sisi’s comments, we ask for public clarification on the following points:

  • Is it the position of ISNA that the imams of Al Azhar have a responsibility to renounce the “mindset” of jihad, conquest, and, as suggested by President Sisi, genocide of the world’s non-Muslims?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that the time is right for a “religious revolution,” as President Sisi stated?
  • Is it the position of ISNA that jihad is a holy obligation for all Muslims?

Egyptian President Calls For Islam To Grow Up

20150105_SisiMBWarningFamily Security matters, by WALLACE S. BRUSCHWEILER, ALAN KORNMAN:

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi calls for Islam to ‘grow up’ and join the 21st Century in its  “Islamic thinking” at the prestigious Al-Azhar University.

General al-Sisi is saying the current Islamic Thinking based on the texts and Islamic Law are “antagonizing the entire world”  General al-Sisi understands that the current trajectory of the Islamic World is the major “source of anxiety, danger,  killing and destruction” for the rest of the non-Muslim world.

General al-Sisi, a devout Muslim, is telling all who will listen that his fellow Muslims who use terrorism, suicide bombings, beheadings, mass killings, violent expansionism and wish to kill and subjugate ‘the others’ to build a new caliphate so that they themselves may live, is Impossible!

You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it from the outside, to root it out and replace it with a more enlightened vision of the world” General al-Sisi says.

General al-Sisi’s message will will capture the imagination of everyone who dreams of the day where the Muslim and non-Muslim world will find a common ground of mutual respect and the possibility of living in a more peaceful world.

Conversely, al-Sisi’s  message will enrage those who support violent Islamic expansionism, totalitarianism, hatred of the non-Muslim,  and subjugation of entire populations both Muslim and non-Muslim who do not follow the right form of Islam, whatever that may be.

Assuming President Obama does not openly support General al-Sisi’s call for Islam to join the 21st Century, we will know he is not a part of the solution.  If American Islamic civil rights groups like (CAIR) Council On American Islamic Relations, (MSA) Muslim Students Association, (ISNA)Islamic Society of North America, (NAIT) North American Islamic Trust, (MAS)Muslim American Society, and (MB) The Muslim Brotherhood to name only a few,  do not publicly support General al-Sisi’s call for change then they are a part of the problem.

We strongly suspect General al-Sisi’s message had been cleared with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost-and it is being lost by our own hands.”  Gen. El Sisi

Egyptian President General El Sisi – New Years Day Speech 2015 (Excerpt)

“I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing-and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma[Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!

That thinking-I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”-that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants-that is 7 billion-so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema-Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it from the outside, to root it out and replace it with a more enlightened vision of the world.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost-and it is being lost by our own hands.”

Where do you and especially the so called silent majority of Muslims stand?

Wallace Bruschweiler, a quadri-linguist and subject matter expert on counter terrorism and national security issues.  Over 30 years experience operating in Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Alan Kornman is the regional coordinator of The United West-Uniting Western Civilization for Freedom and Liberty. His email is: alan@theunitedwest.org

****

Epic Call by Egypt, Tunisia Leaders for Islamic Reformation

Supporters of Tunisia's new president, Beji Caid Essebsi, from the the Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia) secular party movement. Photo: © Reuters

Supporters of Tunisia’s new president, Beji Caid Essebsi, from the the Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia) secular party movement. Photo: © Reuters

An ideological battle in the Muslim world between secular-democratic reformers and Islamists is happening. The question now is which side will win.

By Ryan Mauro:

The newly elected President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi recently issued loud calls for progressive reformations in Islamic thought to modernize outdated doctrine. Both of them explicitly identify the Islamist ideology as the core problem.

Raymond Ibrahim reports that Egyptian President El-Sisi gave a momentous speech during the celebrations of the birthday of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, where he told Muslims to have a “religious revolution” to change Islamic “thinking.”

The location is equally as important as the timing. He did this at Al-Azhar University, the world’s most prominent Sunni school of learning.

El-Sisi confronted Islamist propaganda that changing Islamic doctrine is tantamount to blasphemy. He emphasized that there’s a difference between the interpretation of the religion and the religion itself. He argued that the ones who are actually hurting Islam are those who oppose the reformers.

“That thinking—I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!” El-Sisi declared.

He did not blame the troubles of the Muslim world on Western influence or a wild Zionist conspiracy against Islam as Islamist do. On the contrary, El-Sisi said the source of global conflict originates in ideologies from the Muslim world.

“I say – and repeat again – that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move … because this ummah is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands,” he said.

Last year, El-Sisi declared that “Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people.” He said that an Islamic reformation is necessary to modernize doctrines that have not been revised for 800 years.

“In Islam, there was a civil state, not an Islamic one,” El-Sisi said. His government formed an independent commission that recommended banning Islamist political parties, “reforming religious discourse” and various measures to minimize the influence of political Islam (Islamism).

He also apologized to a woman who was sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square and said her “honor” was violated; a challenge to the cultural theme of “honor” that forms the basis of women’s rights abuses.

Separately, the Tunisian presidency was won by a secular-democratic candidate named Beji Caid Essebsi who defeated a pro-Hamas secularist with 55% of the vote versus 45%.

Shortly after his victory, Essebsi wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post crediting Western influence, specifically the Enlightenment and the separation of religion and state, with providing the basis for Tunisia’s secular-democratic transition.

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The momentous symbolism of what is happening in Tunisia and Egypt is difficult to exaggerate.

Tunisia is where the “Arab Spring” was born and where the subsequent “Islamist Awakening” won its first electoral victory. It was first-hand experience that led to the removal of Islamists from power and their replacement with secular-democrats advocating a progressive reformation in Islamic doctrine.

Read more at Clarion Project

Also see:

Egypt’s Sisi: Islamic “Thinking” Is “Antagonizing the Entire World”

By Raymond IbrahimJanuary 1, 2015:

Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject.

Among other things, Sisi said that the “corpus of [Islamic] texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years” are  “antagonizing the entire world”; that it is not “possible that 1.6 billion people [reference to the world’s Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live”; and that Egypt (or the Islamic world in its entirety) “is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.”

The relevant excerpt from Sisi’s speech follows (translation by Michele Antaki):

I am referring here to the religious clerics.   We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before.  It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma[Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.  Impossible!

That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world.  It’s antagonizing the entire world!

Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!

I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.

All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it it from a more enlightened perspective.

I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.

Note: It is unclear if in the last instance of umma Sisi is referring to Egypt (“the nation”) or if he is using it in the pan-Islamic sense as he did initially to refer to the entire Islamic world.

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:

 

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