By Andrew Bostom:
[T]he concept of an Islamic state attracts a following determined to realize it now or as soon as practicable. They bend their energies to the achievement of this goal. That they pursue concrete political aims is clear from their use of the word “ideology” which has no rightful place in a religious context as religion is understood in the West. But it may be justified if Islam is understood in its traditional sense—as a faith and a way of life for man in society and state. . . . The fate of the Sharia will decide not only what Islam is to be today and tomorrow, but also what part it is to play in the confrontation between Europe and the East, between Islamic and Western civilization.
—Erwin I. J. Rosenthal, 1965
Cross-posted at The American Thinker
Despite a number of (deliberately?) mitigating biases, both methodological and interpretative, the latest Pew Research Forum report, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” released April 30, 2013, confirms the broad appeal of the totalitarian Sharia, Islam’s religio-political “law,” across Islamdom.
The data were pooled from surveys conducted between 2008 and 2012, representing, as touted by Pew, “a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.” Collectively, the surveys included “more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims.” Pew did acknowledgethis important caveat about Muslim populations not surveyed because, “political sensitivities or security concerns prevented opinion research among Muslims.” Notably excluded countries were Saudi Arabia, The Sudan, and Iran—all Islamic states, governed by the Sharia, Saudi Arabia and The Sudan under Sunni Islam, the third, Iran, being the world’s largest Shiite Muslim state.
Responses to four related questions on the Sharia, comprise the surveys’ salient—and pathognomonic—findings. The questions were, “Do you favor or oppose making sharia law, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?”, and these three internally validating (and equally edifying) queries, “Do you favor or oppose the following: punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery?”, “Do you favor or oppose the following: punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery?”, “Do you favor or oppose the following: the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion?” Summary data from the nations with the five largest Muslim populations (as per 2010) surveyed, Indonesia (204 million), Pakistan (178 million), Bengladesh (149 million), Egypt (80 million), and Nigeria (76 million), revealed:
- 72% of Indonesian Muslims, 84% of Pakistani Muslims, 82% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 74% of Egyptian Muslims, and 71% of Nigerian Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. The population-weighted average from these 5 nations was 77% support. (Composite regional data confirmed these individual country trends—84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern/North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims favored application of the Sharia as official state law.)
- 37% of Indonesian Muslims, 85% of Pakistani Muslims, 50% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 70% of Egyptian Muslims, and 45% of Nigerian Muslims favored Sharia-based mandatory (“hadd”) punishments “like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery”
- 42% of Indonesian Muslims, 86% of Pakistani Muslims, 54% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 80% of Egyptian Muslims, and 45% of Nigerian Muslims favored the Sharia-based hadd punishment of stoning for adultery
- 16% of Indonesian Muslims, 75% of Pakistani Muslims, 43% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 88% of Egyptian Muslims, and 29% of Nigerian Muslims favored the Sharia-based hadd punishment of execution for “apostasy”
Furthermore, the Pew survey results confirm the abject failure of the US mid-wived Iraqi and Afghan “democracies” to fulfill the utopian aspirations of the much ballyhooed “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine.” Instead, the negative prognostications, epitomized by my colleague Diana West’s evocative description “Making the world safe for Sharia,” have been realized. Specifically, the Pew data indicated:
- 91% of Iraqi Muslims and 99% of Afghan Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies
- 55% of Iraqi Muslims and 81% of Afghan Muslims favored Sharia-based hadd punishments “like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery”
- 57% of Iraqi Muslims and 84% of Afghan Muslims favored the Sharia-based hadd punishment of stoning for adultery
- 42% of Iraqi Muslims and 79% of Afghan Muslims favored the Sharia-based hadd punishment of execution for “apostasy”
Religious piety, as evidenced by frequency of prayer and “Following the Prophet’s Example,” increased support for Sharia, which was unaffected by age, gender, or educational level.
The Pew report fails to elaborate on these strong associations, offering no explanation about why increased compliance with prayer and pious conformity with the behavior of Islam’s prophet Muhammad might result in broad Muslim approval for mutilating thieves, stoning adulterers to death, or executing those who simply exercise freedom of conscience, and forsake Islam. Yet the Pew investigators readily proffer these mollifying comments, insisting the predilection for Sharia “varies widely,” noting “many favor democracy over authoritarian rule,” and even concluding,
Overall, Muslims broadly support the idea of religious freedom. Among Muslims who say people of different religions are very free to practice their faith, three-quarters or more in each country say this is a good thing.
First, even the Pew data on Muslim support for “killing” apostates do not reflect sentiments for the less draconian punishments for apostasy: imprisonment with beatings (for women under Shiite law, timed to each of the prayer sessions, i.e., 5 times per day) until “recantation”; dissolution of marriage and both parental and property rights. These adjunct non-lethal “punishments”—often applied to “private” apostates who do not manifest their apostasy in public—would likely have registered far more “popular” appeal. Also, both “religious freedom” and “freedom”—(“hurriyya”; discussed below) in Islamdom bear no resemblance to Western conceptions of these ideals, as this ranking of Christian persecution—dominated by countries from Sub-Saharan Africa (where 94% affirmed to Pew “it is good that others are very free to practice their faith” ) and the Middle East/North Africa (where 85% affirmed to Pew “it is good that others are very free to practice their faith”)—makes plain.
Furthermore, the current Pew report includes no data on “blasphemy,” i.e., a simple question about Muslim attitudes toward public criticism of Islam’s prophet or the creed itself by both non-Muslims and Muslims, ignoring Pew’s own August, 2011 data from its analysis, “Rising Restrictions on Religion.” This report, released August 9, 2011, examined the issue of “defamation” of religion, tracking countries where various blasphemy, or criticism of religions are enforced. “While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice, they often serve to punish religious minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical,” the report noted. These Pew findings indicated that application of the Sharia at present resulted in a disproportionate number of Muslim countries, twenty-one—Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Western Sahara, and Yemen—registering the highest (i.e., worst) persecution scores on their scale. Furthermore, the Pew investigators observed,
Eight-in-ten countries in the Middle East–North Africa region have laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion, the highest share of any region. These penalties are enforced in 60% of the countries in the region.
As a predictable consequence of this sharia-based application of apostasy and blasphemy laws by Islamic governments, the Pew report also documented that
…the share of national governments that showed hostility toward minority religions involving physical violence was much higher in countries where laws against blasphemy, apostasy or defamation of religion are actively enforced than in countries without such laws (55% versus 22%).
Pew’s reticence to present its own April 2013 findings without clumsily recasting, or ignoring their doctrinal roots, and obvious implications, can be traced to the dominant, post-modern Western narrative regarding Islam, where objective understanding has been replaced by pure apologetics. Indeed, simply presenting doctrinal Sharia without camouflage, and then demonstrating how Muslims, overwhelmingly, continue to cherish the application of this ancient system of religious totalitarianism, shatters the prevailing, rigidly enforced Western apologetic narrative.
Derived from Islam’s most important canonical texts –the Koran and hadith (the canonical collections of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s deeds and pronouncements) – and their interpretation and codification by Islam’s greatest classical legists, Sharia, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion to personal hygiene to the governance of a Muslim minority community or an Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia’s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties – including freedom of conscience and speech – enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and of even Muslim women, to subservient chattel; and barbaric, mandatory “hadd” punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.
Here is an apt illustration (via Andrew McCarthy’s summary) of the contents ofReliance of the Traveller, a classic Sharia manual of Islamic jurisprudence,certified by Al Azhar University, the Vatican of Sunni Islamic religious education, as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community,” in our era:
– Apostasy from Islam is “the ugliest form of unbelief” for which the penalty is death (“When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”)
– Apostasy occurs not only when a Muslim renounces Islam but also, among other things, when a Muslim appears to worship an idol, when he is heard “to speak words that imply unbelief,” when he makes statements that appear to deny or revile Allah or the prophet Mohammed, when he is heard “to deny the obligatory character of something which by consensus of Muslims is part of Islam,” and when he is heard “to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law”
– “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims”
– Non-Muslims are permitted to live in an Islamic state only if they follow the rules of Islam, pay the non-Muslim poll tax, and comply with various adhesive conditions designed to remind them that they have been subdued (such as wearing distinctive clothing, keeping to one side of the street, not being greeted with “Peace be with you” (“as-Salamu alaykum”), not being permitted to build as high as or higher than Muslims, and being forbidden to build new churches, recite prayers aloud, “or make public displays of their funerals or feastdays”
– Offenses committed against Muslims (including murder) are more serious than offenses committed against non-Muslims
– The penalty for fornication is to be stoned to death, unless one is without the “capacity to remain chaste,” in which case the penalty is “being scourged one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50mi. for one year”
– The penalty for homosexual activity (“sodomy and lesbianism”) is death
– “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris”
– A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man; a Muslim man may marry up to four women, who may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (but no apostates from Islam)
– A woman is required to be obedient to her husband and is prohibited from leaving the marital home without permission; if permitted to go out, she must conceal her figure or alter it “to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them”
– A non-Muslim may not be awarded custody of a Muslim child
– The penalty for theft is amputation of the right hand
– The penalty for drinking alcohol is “to be scourged forty stripes”
– The penalty for accepting interest (“usurious gain”) is death (i.e., to be considered in a state of war against Allah)
– The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man
– If a case involves an allegation of fornication (including rape), “then it requires four male witnesses”
– The establishment of a caliphate is obligatory, and the caliph must be Muslim and male
But Pew’s investigators, and journalists reporting the Pew survey results were puzzled by the seeming “contradiction” between the Muslim desire for Sharia, including application of the hadd punishments, and professions of support for “freedom,” including “religious freedom,” and “democracy,” or even so-called “anti-authoritarianism.” The Economist’s lament characterized this apparent “confused” state of mind as follows:
Almost 80% of Egyptian Muslims say they favour religious freedom and a similar number favour sharia law. Of that group, almost 90% also think people who renounce Islam should be put to death. Confused? So are they.
These inept assessments reveal an ignorant, or willfully blind misunderstanding of the yawning gap between Western and Islamic conceptions of freedom – “hurriyya” in Arabic. Following Sharia slavishly throughout one’s life was paramount to hurriyya “freedom.” This earlier more concrete characterization of hurriyya’s metaphysical meaning, whose essence Ibn Arabi reiterated, was pronounced by the Sufi scholar al-Qushayri (d. 1072/74).
Let it be known to you that the real meaning of freedom lies in the perfection of slavery. If the slavery of a human being in relation to God is a true one, his freedom is relieved from the yoke of changes. Anyone who imagines that it may be granted to a human being to give up his slavery for a moment and disregard the commands and prohibitions of the religious law while possessing discretion and responsibility, has divested himself of Islam. God said to his Prophet: “And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the certainty (i.e. death).” (Koran 15:99). As agreed upon by the [Koranic] commentators, “certainty” here means the end (of life).
Bernard Lewis, in his (mid-1950s) Encyclopedia of Islam analysis of hurriyya,discusses this concept in the latter phases of the Ottoman Empire through the contemporary era. After highlighting a few “cautious” or “conservative” (Lewis’ characterization) reformers and their writings, Lewis maintains:
[T]here is still no idea that the subjects have any right to share in the formation or conduct of government—to political freedom, or citizenship, in the sense which underlies the development of political thought in the West. While conservative reformers talked of freedom under law, and some Muslim rulers even experimented with councils and assemblies government was in fact becoming more and not less arbitrary[.]
Lewis also makes the important point that Western colonialism ameliorated this chronic situation:
During the period of British and French domination, individual freedom was never much of an issue. Though often limited and sometimes suspended, it was on the whole more extensive and better protected than either before or after.