The Watchman: Jihadists on the March

Published on Jul 8, 2014 by The Christian Broadcasting Network

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

The Glazov Gang-Raymond Ibrahim on ISIS’s Islamic Inspirations

Raymond Ibrahim and Jamie Glazov discuss how the jihadist terror we see in Iraq today, and throughout the world, is founded on Islamic theology. Raymond also discussed Jamie’s Battle on Hannity against the Unholy Alliance, Jihad Denial, Obama’s Enabling of Jihad, Jihadi Foreign Travelers, and much more:

 

Raymond Ibrahim, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Middle East and Islam specialist, and the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

 

Jihadi Rhetoric: Tiresome but Deadly

by Raymond Ibrahim:

I just spent the better part of the day reading and listening to sermons by the leaders and jihadis of the new “caliphate” in Mesopotamia, the Islamic State (formerly “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”).

I did so in the vain hopes of learning something “new.”

But it was absolute déjà vu—taking me back to a decade ago, when I was reading and translating the Arabic writings and speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, as collated inThe Al Qaeda Reader.

Now as then, it’s the same Koran verses; the same hadiths of Islamic prophet Muhammad waging and praising jihad; the same threats of hellfire for the munafiqun (hypocrites or lukewarm Muslims); the same carnal rewards in the now or hereafter for those who join the “caravan” of jihad.

Consider for instance the following opening words of a recently released short video from the Islamic State titled, “There is No Life Without Jihad”:

If you wish to know the way to glory and power, to goodness, security and joy, you must learn that there are no rights without jihad, no justice without jihad, no dignity without jihad, no security without jihad, no future without jihad, no life without jihad, no life without jihad.

After this rather hackneyed opening, one Abu Muthana, a jihadi from Britain, appears quoting some more of the usual Koran verses, hadiths, and ulema, in this case, Imam Qurtubi, who wrote that “jihad gives life.”  Finally he summarizes the goal of the jihad—in case anyone is still not sure—namely, to fight until “the law [Sharia] of Allah is implemented and the caliphate restored.”

To reiterate, there is little new or original in the videos and communiques from the Islamic State.   Just static Islamism.

If one turns to the speeches of other Islamic and jihadi groups around the world—from the African groups such as Boko Haram (Nigeria) and al-Shabaab (Somalia), to Asian groups such as Abu Sayyaf (Philippines) and the Islamic Movement (Uzbekistan)—it’s the same thing, same themes, same scriptures, same quotations, same exhortations, same condemnations.   Only their temporal circumstances and vicissitudes of victory or defeat differ.

While the Western mentality, so used to seeing and hearing about the “latest” or “newest” fad, may deem the Islamist approach as static or insipid, it is, quite the contrary, immensely effective for its purposes, and thus dangerous.

Consider: It’s the same exact message—of supremacism, hate, and violence, capped off with divine sanctioning—repeated over and over again, from a myriad of sources and organizations, all of which claim authority.

One can think of few better ways to brainwash and indoctrinate young and impressionable minds—to the point that they eagerly embrace death, including through suicide (AKA “martyrdom operations”).

Nor is this message of jihad, conquest, and death-to-the-infidel, limited to the verbiage that transpires among terrorist organizations; instead, this sort of rhetoric has spread far and wide, thanks to modern technology—including the Internet and social media—and the rich Gulf States, chief among them Saudi Arabia, which have seen to it that the jihadi books and passages being quoted are available to all and sundry.

Indeed, and has been demonstrated repeatedly, such jihadi rhetoric is regularly used in mosques all throughout Europe and America—explaining why an inordinate amount of jihadis in Syria and Iraq, such as Abu Muthana,  the aforementioned “Brit,” are in fact from the West.

If the West, in the name of “religious freedom,” is still too fretful to monitor and ban such sermons, in Egypt—a Muslim nation in the heart of the Islamic world—the post Muslim Brotherhood government has come to understand the necessity of outlawing “certain” kinds of rhetoric  from the mosques, specifically, those about jihad against infidels and apostates.

Read more

Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by CBN News’ George Thomas on the rise of the Islamic State, its aspirations for caliphate, and what all that means for free peoples around the world:

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’

Raymond Ibrahim, July 1, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’ (Part 1)

By Raymond Ibrahim, June 22, 2014:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 2 will appear later this week

An American’s Experience with Islamic Apostasy

by Raymond Ibrahim:

Editor’s note: The following was written by an anonymous American teacher living in the Muslim world

At a recent dinner party, the death sentence of Meriam Yahia Ibrahim for the crime of apostasy by a Sudanese Islamic court came up as a topic of discussion.  Not surprisingly, the progressive elements of the group did their best to defend Islam, claiming that her sentence to die by hanging was handed down by religious fanatics (not Muslim fanatics) who don’t understand the peaceful nature of Islam.

With my wife by my side, I firmly disagreed with them, stating that my three years’ experience working in the Middle East has taught me that Meriam’s hanging sentence fits perfectly well within the Islamic culture.  To further my point, I mentioned a past interaction I had with a group of Sudanese Muslims who wanted to kill my wife for leaving Islam.

This event occurred a few years ago while I was working as an ESL instructor in a Saudi Arabian University.  Many of my colleagues were Sudanese Muslims and my first impression of them was very positive.  I admired them because they were hardworking and forward looking.  They were in Saudi Arabia to earn enough money to either start a family, buy a home, or invest in a business.  For many months, we shared stories regarding our families and dreams.

Knowing that I have a Thai wife who remained in Thailand while I worked in Saudi Arabia, my Sudanese co-workers would regularly ask me why I didn’t bring her to live with me in Saudi Arabia, to which I always responded, “She doesn’t like the idea of wearing the hijab in the Saudi heat nor the idea of remaining in our apartment all day while I am at work.”

To that, they would reply, “She must live that way in Saudi Arabia; that is our culture,” to which I responded, “She doesn’t like that aspect of this culture which is why she refuses to move to Saudi Arabia.”

One day, to get them of my back for good regarding that issue, I told them the whole truth about my wife not moving to Saudi Arabia.  I confided in them that my wife was a Muslim and that she converted to Buddhism in her early twenties, years before I met her, and that Saudi Arabia could be dangerous for her.

Considering these men my friends, I was hoping they would be understanding and change the topic of conversation.  After a long minute of silence, one of Sudanese looked at me and said, “Your wife must be put to death!”

I could not believe that the man whose desk was in front of mine and with whom I had numerous great conversations would say that to my face.  So, I burst out laughing and said, “You can’t be serious!” to which he replied, “Our culture requires us to kill her.”

While this exchange went on for another minute, I noticed that the other six Sudanese teachers remained very quiet.  I wondered whether they agreed or not with their colleague.  The next morning, my question was answered.  While shaking hands with all my co-teachers, I refused to shake the hand of the Sudanese who threatened my wife. He felt insulted and was furious, so I said, “How can I shake the hand of a man who wants to kill my wife.”

He replied: “But they all think like me—so why do you shake their hands.”

I responded: “They were smart enough not to say it to my face, but in your defense, you are the most honest among them.”

They stared at me in shock and awe and from that time, I rarely spoke to them.  A month later, my contract was over and I left Saudi Arabia.  From Saudi Arabia, I moved to another Muslim country and asked a female co-worker if the country would be safe for my wife because she left Islam.

She looked at me and said, “Do not bring your wife here.”

After finishing my story, I looked at the progressives at the dinner party and said, “That is what Muslims do to apostates because it is their religious duty to do so.  My friendship with my Sudanese co-workers meant nothing to them once they found out my wife left Islam.  So Meriam’s verdict and eventual hanging, if the West does not interfere, should come as no surprise to anyone who understands Islam.”

They looked at me with infuriating eyes.  I dared to break their PC rules regarding Islam and they couldn’t fight back with my wife, a potential victim, by my side.

Siege of Vienna: How The Ottoman Empire Was Defeated by Much Smaller Army

YouCruising1, Published on Sep 8, 2012

• During the siege, the defense of Vienna was led by a 70-year-old German mercenary name Nicolas von Salm. During the siege, he was wounded by a falling rock and died a few months later. Von Salm’s brilliant defense of Vienna was considered his greatest achievement.

• The spring and summer of 1529 were unusually wet, creating a nearly impossible journey for the Ottomans, used to a warm, dry climate. Thousands of Ottoman camels were lost when they broke their legs and had to be slaughtered. Suleiman’s Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Pasha urged the sultan to turn back; however, Suleiman pressed on, saying, “It is beneath my dignity to allow the weather to interfere with my plans.”

• The elite Ottoman Janissary corps were formed from prisoners of war and slaves, many of them kidnapped Christian young men.

• Dozens of Austrians wearing black cloaks and armed with homemade bombs, sneaked into the Ottoman camps, tossing their bombs into tents and making their escape. As a result, nearly 2,000 Turks died in their sleep. Some war historians believe this may have been the first use of the Molotov cocktail.

• When the Viennese raided the abandoned Turkish camps outside the city, they found bags filled with coffee beans – their first appearance in Europe – which were used by the Turks as a stimulant, since alcohol was forbidden. The drink caught on, and coffee soon became a European sensation.

• The failed Siege of Vienna is considered the beginning of the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

Video: Raymond Ibrahim on Islam, Dictators, and Christian Persecution

RaymondIbrahimFront Page:

Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the Center, was recently interviewed on New Zealand’s Shine TV, a Christian station.  The ten-minute interview with host Allen Lee focuses on a wide range of topics, including Arab dictators versus Islamists and the phenomenon, historic and modern, of Christian persecution.

Taqiyya about Taqiyya

raqBy Raymond Ibrahim:

I was recently involved in an interesting exercise—examining taqiyya about taqiyya—and believe readers might profit from the same exercise, as it exposes all the subtle apologetics made in defense of the Islamic doctrine, which permits Muslims to lie to non-Muslims, or “infidels.”

Context: Khurrum Awan, a lawyer, is suing Ezra Levant, a Canadian media personality and author, for defamation and $100,000.  Back in 2009 and on his own website, Levant had accused Awan of taqiyya in the context of Awan’s and the Canadian Islamic Congress’ earlier attempts to sue Mark Steyn.

For more on Levant’s court case, go to www.StandWithEzra.ca.

On behalf of Awan, Mohammad Fadel—professor of Islamic Law at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law—provided an expert report to the court on the nature of taqiyya, the significance of which he portrayed as “a staple of right-wing Islamophobia in North America.”

In response, Levant asked me (back in 2013) to write an expert report on taqiyya, including by responding to Fadel’s findings.

I did.  And it had the desired effect.  As Levant put it in an email to me:

It was an outstanding report, very authoritative and persuasive. Of course, we don’t know what the plaintiff’s [Awan’s] private thoughts about it were, but we do know that after receiving the report, he decided to cancel calling his own expert witness [Dr. Fadel]—who happens to be a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. After reading your rebuttal, he decided he would rather not engage in that debate.

My expert report follows.  In it, I quote relevant portions of Fadel’s expert report (which can be read in its entirety here).  Most intriguing about the professor’s report is that it’s a perfect example of taqiyya about taqiyya.  By presenting partial truths throughout the report, Fadel appears to have even employed taqiyya’s more liberal sister, tawriya.

Accordingly, readers interested in learning more about the role of deception in Islam—and how to respond to those trying to dismiss it as an “Islamophobic fantasy”—are encouraged to read on.

Raymond Ibrahim’s Expert Report on Taqiyya

Instructions: I have been asked to assess a report concerning the doctrine of taqiyya in Islam, written by one Mohammad Fadel; and, if I disagreed with any parts of it, to explain why—objectively, neutrally, and in a non-partisan manner.  My findings follow.

 Introduction

The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to actively deceive non-Muslims—above and beyond the context of “self-preservation,” as is commonly believed.

One of the few books exclusively devoted to the subject, At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islam (“Taqiyya in Islam”) make this unequivocally clear. Written (in Arabic) by Dr. Sami Mukaram, a former Islamic studies professor at the American University of Beirut and author of some twenty-five books on Islam, the book demonstrates the ubiquity and broad applicability of taqiyya in its opening pages:

Taqiyya is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it … We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era.[1]

The following report is written as a response to Mohammed Fadel’s report (henceforth referred to as MFR) which deals with the topic of taqiyya and its place and usage in Islamic jurisprudence.   Because MFR is written in a premises-conclusion format, the following report will follow MFR’s numbering schemata, pointing out which premises are agreeable and which are not—offering correctives to these latter resulting in an antithetical conclusion.

Numbers/Premises of MFR in Order:

1-3: Preliminary statements.

4: Agreed.

5:  Agreed, with the following caveat:  To many Muslims, jihad, that is, armed struggle against the non-Muslim, is the informal sixth pillar.   Islam’s prophet Muhammad said that “standing in the ranks of battle [jihad] is better than standing (in prayer) for sixty years,”[2] even though prayer is one of the Five Pillars, and he ranked jihad as the “second best deed” after belief in Allah as the only god and he himself, Muhammad, as his prophet, the shehada, or very First Pillar of Islam.[3]

All this indicates jihad’s importance in Islam—and thus importance to this case, since, as shall be seen, taqiyya is especially permissible in the context of jihad or struggle to empower Islam and/or Muslims over non-Muslims.

6: Agreed.  Qiyas, or analogical reasoning, the practice of finding antecedents in the teachings of the two revelatory sources (Qur’an and Hadith) and rationalizing their applicability to modern phenomena, also belongs to usul al-fiqh, or Islam’s roots of jurisprudence.  It gives more elasticity to Islam’s rules (a major theme throughout this report).  Qiyas, for example, is the way al-Qaeda and other jihadi organizations justify suicide attacks: although killing oneself is clearly forbidden in Islam, in the context of jihad—in the context of trying to empower Islam—suicide attacks are rationalized as legitimate forms of stealth warfare, since those giving their lives are not doing so out of despair but rather for Islam (as in Qur’an 9:111).[4]

7-19: Generally agreed (or indifferent to: some information in these numbers is not necessarily germane to the issue at hand and did not warrant confirmation).

20:  “Normative Islamic doctrine places strong emphasis on the obligation to speak the truth.”

This is the first of many statements/premises that are only partially true.

For starters, Islamic jurisprudence separates humanity into classes.  The rules concerning the relationship between a Muslim and a fellow Muslim differ from the rules concerning the relationship between a Muslim and a non-Muslim.

First there is the umma—the “Islamic nation,” that is, all Muslims of the earth, irrespective of national, racial, or linguistic barriers.  Many of the Qur’an’s and Hadith’s teachings that appear laudable and fair are in fact teachings that apply only to fellow Muslims.

For example, although the Qur’an’s calls for Muslims to give charity (zakat) appear to suggest that Muslims may give charity to all humans—in fact, normative Islamic teaching is clear that Muslim charity (zakat) can only be given to fellow Muslims, never to non-Muslims.[5]

As for legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims—or kuffar, the “infidels” (kafir, singular)—within the Islamic world, these fall into two main categories: first, the harbi, that is, the non-Muslim who does not reside in the Islamic world; if at any time a Muslim comes across him in the Muslim world, according to classic Islamic doctrine, he is free to attack, enslave, and/or kill him (the exception is if he is musta’min—given a formal permit by an Islamic authority to be on Muslim territory, such as the case of the many foreigners working in the Arabian Peninsula).[6]

Second is the dhimmi, the non-Muslim who lives under Muslim domination (for example, all the indigenous Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Berbers, etc. whose lands were conquered by Muslims beginning in the 7th century).   By today’s standards, the rules governing the dhimmi, most of which are based on the so-called “Conditions of Omar” (sometimes the “Pact of Omar”) are openly discriminatory and include things such as commanding non-Muslims to give up their seats whenever a Muslim wants it.[7]

It is, then, in this divisive context that one must approach the Qur’an, keeping in mind that most of the verses discussing human relations are discussing intra-relations between Muslims, not Muslims and non-Muslims.  For examples of the latter, see Qur’an 9:5, 9:29, 5:17, and 5:73 for typical verses that discuss relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, verses which have further abrogated the earlier, more tolerant ones. [8]

As for the Qur’an verses listed in MFR 20—which are meant to support the statement that “Normative Islamic doctrine places strong emphasis on the obligation to speak the truth,” a close reading, supported by mainstream Islamic exegeses, demonstrates that the true function of those verses is to portray true believers (Muslims) and Islam’s prophets as the epitome of honesty and sincerity.  Significantly, none of the verses mentioned in MFR 20 actually exhort Muslims to be honest and truthful, including to fellow Muslims, in the same vein as, for example, unequivocal statements such as Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3:9) and “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

The fact is, other Islamic teachings and caveats have permitted Muslims to deceive even fellow Muslims.  For example, the doctrine of tawriya allows Muslims to lie in virtually all circumstances provided that the lie is articulated in a way that it is technically true.

The authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary defines tawriya as, “hiding, concealment; dissemblance, dissimulation, hypocrisy; equivocation, ambiguity, double-entendre, allusion.” Conjugates of the trilateral root of the word, w-r-y, appear in the Quran in the context of hiding or concealing something (e.g., 5:31, 7:26).

As a doctrine, “double-entendre” best describes tawriya’s function. According to past and present Muslim scholars (several documented below), tawriya is when a speaker/writer asserts something that means one thing to the listener/reader, though the speaker/writer means something else, and his words technically support this alternate meaning.

For example, if someone declares “I don’t have a penny in my pocket,” most listeners will assume the speaker has no money on him—though he might have dollar bills, just literally no pennies.

This is legitimate according to Islamic law, or shari‘a—the body of legal rulings that defines how a Muslim should behave in all circumstances—and does not constitute “lying.”

In a fatwa, or Islamic decree, popular Sheikh Muhammad Salih al-Munajid asserts that, “Tawriya is permissible if it is necessary or serves a shari‘a interest.”  As mentioned, empowering Islam is one of the highest shari‘a interests [9] (hence why jihad, so lauded by Islam’s prophet as aforementioned, is sometimes seen as the “sixth pillar”).

Read more at Front Page

Video: Glick, Spencer & Ibrahim on the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

hj1-450x250This week’s special episode of The Glazov Gang was filmed at David Horowitz’s West Coast Retreat held at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California, from March 21-23, 2014.

The panel, titled The Mideast Test, was joined by:

Caroline Glick, the senior contributing editor to the Jerusalem Post who is the author of the new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch who is the author of an upcoming book, Arab Winter Comes to America: The Truth About the War We’re In.

and

Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the Freedom Center who is the author of his recent book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, published by Regnery.

The panelists discussed their books and how to best confront the threats emanating from the Islamic Middle East:

Why ‘Moderate Islam’ is an Oxymoron

By Raymond Ibrahim:

At a time when terrorism committed in the name of Islam is rampant, we are continuously being assured—especially by three major institutions that play a dominant role in forming the Western mindset, namely, mainstream media, academia, and government—that the sort of Islam embraced by “radicals,” “jihadis,” and so forth, has nothing to do with “real” Islam.

quran (1)“True” Islam, so the narrative goes, is intrinsically free of anything “bad.”  It’s the nut-jobs who hijack it for their own agenda that are to blame.

More specifically, we are told that there exists a “moderate” Islam and an “extremist” Islam—the former good and true, embraced by a Muslim majority, the latter a perverse sacrilege practiced by an exploitative minority.

But what do these dual adjectives—“moderate” and “extremist”—ultimately mean in the context of Islam?  Are they both equal and viable alternatives insofar as to how Islam is understood?  Are they both theologically legitimate?  This last question is particularly important, since Islam is first and foremost a religious way of life centered around the words of a deity (Allah) and his prophet (Muhammad)—the significance of which is admittedly unappreciated by secular societies.

Both terms—“moderate” and “extremist”—have to do with degree, or less mathematically, zeal: how much, or to what extent, a thing is practiced or implemented.  As Webster’s puts it, “moderate” means “observing reasonable limits”; “extremist” means “going to great or exaggerated lengths.”

It’s a question, then, of doing either too much or too little.

The problem, however, is that mainstream Islam offers a crystal-clear way of life, based on the teachings of the Koran and Hadith—the former, containing what purport to be the sacred words of Allah, the latter, the example (or sunna, hence “Sunnis”) of his prophet, also known as the most “perfect man” (al-insan al-kamil).   Indeed, based on these two primary sources and according to normative Islamic teaching, all human actions fall into five categories: forbidden actions, discouraged actions, neutral actions recommended actions, and obligatory actions.

In this context, how does a believer go about “moderating” what the deity and his spokesman have commanded?    One can either try to observe Islam’s commandments or one can ignore them: any more or less is not Islam—a word which means “submit” (to the laws, or sharia, of Allah).

The real question, then, is what do Allah and his prophet command Muslims (“they who submit”) to do?  Are radicals “exaggerating” their orders? Or are moderate Muslims simply “observing reasonable limits”—a euphemism for negligence?—when it comes to fulfilling their commandments?

In our highly secularized era, where we are told that religious truths are flexible or simply non-existent, and that any and all interpretations and exegeses are valid, the all-important question of “What does Islam command?” loses all relevance.

Hence why the modern West is incapable of understanding Islam.

Indeed, only recently, a Kenyan mosque leader said that the Westgate massacre, where Islamic gunmen slaughtered some 67 people, “was justified.  As per the Koran, as per the religion of Islam, Westgate was 100 percent justified.” Then he said: “Radical Islam is a creation of people who do not believe in Islam. We don’t have radical Islam, we don’t have moderates, we don’t have extremists. Islam is one religion following the Koran and the Sunna” [emphasis added].

Note his point that “Radical Islam is a creation of people who do not believe in Islam,” a clear reference to the West which coined the phrase “radical Islam.”  Ironically, the secular West, which relegates religious truths to the realm of “personal experience,” feels qualified to decide what is and is not “radical” about Islam.

Consider one example: Allah commands Muslims to “Fight those among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth [i.e., Islam], until they pay the jizya [tribute] with willing submission and feel themselves subdued”  [Koran 9:29].

How can one interpret this verse to mean anything other than what it plainly says?  Wherein lies the ambiguity, the room for interpretation?  Of course there are other teachings and allusions in the Koran that by necessity lend themselves over to the fine arts of interpretation, or ijtihad.  But surely the commands of Koran 9:29 are completely straightforward?

In fact, Muhammad’s 7th century followers literally acted on this and similar verses (e.g., 9:5), launching the first Muslim conquests, which saw the subjugation of millions of Christians, Jews, and others, and the creation of the “Muslim world.”  Such jihadi expansion continued until Islam was beaten on the battlefield by a resurgent West some two or three centuries ago.

Read more at CBN with video

Western Ignorance of the ‘Conditions of Omar’

Church in RaqqaBy Raymond Ibrahim:

A jihadi group occupying the Syrian town of Raqqa recently gave Christian minorities living there three choices: 1) convert to Islam, 2) remain Christian but pay tribute and accept third-class subject status, or 3) die by the sword.

According to the BBC, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria issued a directive

citing the Islamic concept of “dhimma”, [which] requires Christians in the city to pay tax of around half an ounce (14g) of pure gold in exchange for their safety. It says Christians must not make renovations to churches, display crosses or other religious symbols outside churches, ring church bells or pray in public.  Christians must not carry arms, and must follow other rules imposed by ISIS (also known as ISIL) on their daily lives.  The statement said the group had met Christian representatives and offered them three choices—they could convert to Islam, accept ISIS’ conditions, or reject their control and risk being killed.  “If they reject, they are subject to being legitimate targets, and nothing will remain between them and ISIS other than the sword,” the statement said.

Because several Western media outlets uncharacteristically reported on this latest atrocity against Syrian Christians, many Westerners are shocked—amazed to hear of such draconian conditions.

In reality, however, these three choices are fully grounded in Islamic teachings, as shall be demonstrated below.

So why is the West, here in the “information age,” utterly if not abhorrently ignorant of the teachings of Islam?   Because those responsible for making such knowledge available—specifically academia, media, and government—are more interested in whitewashing Islam andbemoaning Islamophobia (see pgs. 219-249 of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for specifics).

Western Dissembling

Most symbolic of all this is that right around the same time news that jihadis were subjugating and extorting jizya-money from Syrian Christians appeared, the Saudi-funded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding at Georgetown University, Washington D.C.,  held a seminar discussing how Islam is misunderstood and being demonized by so-called “Islamophobes.”

I have direct experience of this.  Many years ago, as a graduate student at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, my interest in medieval Islamic history, Sharia, and jihad received askance looks from professors—not least because most classes offered were about the evils of colonialism and Orientalism, or Islamic “feminism.”

It was the same when I worked at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress, a governmental institution; there, our conferences regularly focused on the purported achievements of Islamic civilization.

As for the endemic Muslim persecution of Christians—past or present—apparently only an “Islamophobe” would raise that topic up.

Speaking of government, also around the same time jihadis were giving Christians the three classic choices of Islam—conversion, subjugation, or death—a delegation of Syrian Christian clergy came to the Senate Arms Services Committee meeting room to offer testimony concerning the sufferings of Syria’s Christians.  Then,

Sen. John McCain marched into the committee room yelling, according to a high-level source that attended the meeting, and quickly stormed out. “He was incredibly rude,” the source told Judicial Watch “because he didn’t think the Syrian church leaders should even be allowed in the room.” Following the shameful tantrum McCain reentered the room and sat briefly but refused to make eye contact with the participants, instead ignoring them by looking down at what appeared to be random papers. The outburst was so embarrassing that Senator Graham, also an advocate of U.S. military intervention in Syria, apologized for McCain’s disturbing outburst. “Graham actually apologized to the group for McCain’s behavior,” according to the source, who sat through the entire meeting. “It was truly unbelievable.”

Less dramatically but equally revealing, CIA chief John Brennan recently declared that the ideology of those offering Christians three choices is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Koran,” one that has “hijacked” Islam and “really distorted the teachings of Muhammad.”

And if the attempts to suppress the reality of Christian suffering under Islam by academia, media, and government were not enough, months and years back, when the plight of Syria’s Christians was becoming known, even random (but supposedly nonbiased and independent) think tanks and writers also tried to suppress it.

Is it any wonder, then, that Christians in Syria being offered three choices—Islam, subjugation, or death—is mindboggling to the average person in the West, appearing as a wild aberration?

The Conditions of Omar

Yet knowledge of the particulars of Islam’s three-fold choice has been available for centuries; early Western peoples were much acquainted with it, including the now much maligned “Orientalists.”

Whereas Koran 9:29 provides divine sanction to fight the “People of the Book”  (namely, Christians and Jews) “until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued,” the lesser known Conditions of Omar (also known as the Pact of Omar) lays out in detail how they are to feel themselves subdued.

Named after the second caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab (r. 634 to 644), the Conditions was purportedly agreed upon between the caliph and a community of Christians conquered by invading Muslims, ironically in the region of Syria.  It has since been referenced in most major works on the treatment of dhimmis—non-Muslims living under Islamic authority.

Read more at PJ Media

Islamic Jihad and the Doctrine of Abrogation

By Raymond Ibrahim:

While other scriptures contain contradictions, the Qur’an is the only holy book whose commentators have evolved a doctrine to account for the very visible shifts which occur from one injunction to another. No careful reader will remain unaware of the many contradictory verses in the Qur’an, most specifically the way in which peaceful and tolerant verses lie almost side by side with violent and intolerant ones. The ulema were initially baffled as to which verses to codify into the Shari’a worldview—the one that states there is no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims till they either convert, or at least submit, to Islam (8:39, 9:5, 9:29). To get out of this quandary, the commentators developed the doctrine of abrogation, which essentially maintains that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career take precedence over earlier ones whenever there is a discrepancy. In order to document which verses abrogated which, a religious science devoted to the chronology of the Qur’an’s verses evolved (known as an-Nasikh wa’l Mansukh, the abrogater and the abrogated).

Koran and Sword: Hand in Hand

Koran and Sword: Hand in Hand

But why the contradiction in the first place? The standard view is that in the early years of Islam, since Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by their infidel competitors while living next to them in Mecca, a message of peace and coexistence was in order. However, after the Muslims migrated to Medina in 622 and grew in military strength, verses inciting them to go on the offensive were slowly “revealed”—in principle, sent down from God—always commensurate with Islam’s growing capabilities. In juridical texts, these are categorized in stages: passivity vis-á-vis aggression; permission to fight back against aggressors; commands to fight aggressors; commands to fight all non-Muslims, whether the latter begin aggressions or not.[1] Growing Muslim might is the only variable that explains this progressive change in policy.

Other scholars put a gloss on this by arguing that over a twenty-two year period, the Qur’an was revealed piecemeal, from passive and spiritual verses to legal prescriptions and injunctions to spread the faith through jihad and conquest, simply to acclimate early Muslim converts to the duties of Islam, lest they be discouraged at the outset by the dramatic obligations that would appear in later verses.[2] Verses revealed towards the end of Muhammad’s career—such as, “Warfare is prescribed for you though you hate it”[3]—would have been out of place when warfare was actually out of the question.

However interpreted, the standard view on Qur’anic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest). The vicissitudes of Islamic history are a testimony to this dichotomy, best captured by the popular Muslim notion, based on a hadith, that, if possible, jihad should be performed by the hand (force), if not, then by the tongue (through preaching); and, if that is not possible, then with the heart or one’s intentions.[4]

Read more

The Aftermath of Jihad: Invisible Women

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????by Raymond Ibrahim:

Massacres, beheadings, rapes and the rest often take place whenever and wherever Islamic jihadis take over.  Lesser known but no less eye-opening, however, is the aftermath of occupation—the everyday “rules” and laws the jihadis enforce once they’re in charge.

Consider the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s (ISIL) recent occupation of Raqqah, a city in northern Syria.  First there was the overt violence.  Among other acts of savagery, the jihadi organization attacked two Christian churches—the Church of the Annunciation and the Church of Martyrs—broke their crosses, burned their Bibles, and raised the Islamic flag in triumph.  One video depicts a Muslim “freedom fighter” smashing a Virgin Mary statue to shouts of Islam’s victory cry, “Allahu Akbar!”

Now consider the rules that organizations like ISIL enforce on the people living in the territories they occupy—or the inevitable “talibanization” of societies where Islamic supremacists hold sway.  A Syrian news clip recounts the following new laws ISIL promulgated in a statement it issued soon after taking over Raqqah:

  • Women are banned from sitting on chairs (as reported verbatim).
  • All women are obligated to wear Islamic attire, such as the niqab and burqa (which cover the entire body and face); sweaters, jeans, and makeup of any kind are strictly banned.
  • Female clothing is not to be displayed in shop windows, and only women are allowed to work there; if a man is found on the grounds the shop faces closure.
  • Women are banned from seeing male gynecologists.
  • Smoking—cigarettes, water pipes, etc.—is banned.  Violators could face the death penalty; shops found selling cigarettes are to be burned to the ground.
  • All barbershops are to be closed down and men forbidden from having short hair, wearing modern hairstyles or using hair products; men are also forbidden from wearing low-waist jeans.
  • Anyone who uses the word “Daash” (an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Arabic) will receive 70 whippings; the organization is to be referred to by its proper name.

The punishments are indeed severe: swindling taxi drivers face repercussions ranging from chopped hands to chopped heads; the reason cited is that their swindling may somehow interfere with a passenger’s worship (e.g., a Muslim seeking to go to mosque at the proper time).  Likewise, shop owners who do not shut down during prayer times must face the consequences.

All this is a reminder that, while the Islamic jihad may lead to brief, spectacular forms of terror—massacres, beheadings, rapes, bombed churches—its aftermath and goal, purportedly the creation of a “perfect Islamic society,” is “spectacular” in its own way, especially for women, who become virtually invisible members of society.

Christmas Holiday, Islamic Horror

by :

As Christians in the West go to church and worship during this Christmas season, it is well to reflect on how these two simple acts—going to church to worship—can be life-threatening for Christians in the Islamic world, especially on Christmas.  The following excerpt from my book, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (pgs. 42-45), provides a glimpse of the horrors and humiliations Christians throughout the Muslim world can be exposed to whenever they try to meet and worship in church on Christmas and other Christian holidays.  One can only hope—perhaps in vain—that this coming Christmas does not add new victims to the list.

—-

image1Christians in the Islamic world today are suffering attacks motivated by the very same diabolical animus as a thousand years ago under Hakim [Egyptian caliph who ordered the destruction of reportedly 30,000 churches in the 10th –11th century].  Proof of this is that some of the most terrible assaults occur precisely on Christian holidays—Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s Eve (which is a major church day in the Middle East). And no wonder, considering that some Muslim clerics insist that “saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication . . . or killing someone.”

After some fourteen centuries of church attacks and other persecution—punctuated by a brief Christian Golden Age—Egypt’s Copts began the new year in 2011 once again under assault, at one of their largest churches: during midnight Mass in the early hours of January 1, 2011, the Two Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria, crowded with hundreds of Christian worshippers, was bombed, leaving at least twenty-three dead and approximately a hundred injured. According to eyewitnesses, “body parts were strewn all over the street outside the church. The body parts were covered with newspapers until they were brought inside the church after some Muslims started stepping on them and chanting Jihadi chants,” including “Allahu Akbar!” Witnesses further attest that “security forces withdrew one hour before the church blast.” And a year earlier, Muslims shot and killed six Christians as they were leaving church after celebrating the Coptic Christmas Eve midnight Mass in Nag Hammadi.

December 25, 2011, was called Nigeria’s “blackest Christmas ever.”  In a number of coordinated jihadi operations, Reuters reported, Islamic terrorists bombed several churches during Christmas liturgies, killing at least thirty-eight people, “the majority dying on the steps of a Catholic church after celebrating Christmas Mass as blood pooled in dust from a massive explosion.” Charred bodies and dismembered limbs lay scattered around the destroyed church. This attack was simply a reenactment of Christmas Eve one year earlier, in 2010, when several other churches were set ablaze and Christians were attacked, also leaving nearly thirty-eight dead. There was no reprieve for Nigeria’s Christians when the next religious holiday came; some fifty Christians were killed “when explosives concealed in two cars went off near the Assemblies of God’s Church during Easter Sunday services” in April 2012 in a predominantly Muslim region. According to the pastor, “We were in the Holy Communion service and I was exhorting my people and all of a sudden, we heard a loud noise that shattered all our windows and doors.” December 25, 2012, saw a repeat of the last few Christmases: in two separate attacks, Islamic gunmen shot and killed twelve Christian worshippers who had gathered for Christmas Eve church services, including one church’s pastor.

The violence in Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population in the world, was not so bloody, but Muslims’ hostility was equally clear.  In December 2012, more than two hundred Muslims threw rotten eggs at nearly one hundred Christians desiring to hold a Christmas Mass in empty land outside Jakarta, since their church, the Philadelphia Batak Protestant Church, had been illegally closed. A photographer saw angered Muslims—men, women wearing the hijab (the Muslim headscarf), and children—blocking the road and hurling rotten eggs at those attempting to worship. According to the Reverend Palti Panjaitan, the incident followed a Christmas Eve attack when “intolerant people” threw not only rotten eggs but also “plastic bags filled with urine and cow dung” at the Christians. “Everything had happened while police were there. They were just watching without doing anything to stop them from harming us.”

The attack was a repeat of what had happened several months earlier, during an Ascension Day church service in May 2012. Then some six hundred Muslims threw bags of urine, stones, and rotten eggs at the same congregation. The mob also threatened to kill the pastor. No arrests were made. The church had applied for a permit to construct its house of worship five years ago. But pressured by local Muslims, the local administration ordered the church to shut down in December 2009—though the Supreme Court recently overruled its decision, saying the church was eligible for the permit. Regardless, local Muslims and officials demand the church cease to exist.

In the Philippines, during Mass on Christmas Day 2010, a bomb exploded inside a packed Catholic church in the “Muslim-dominated” island of Jolo, injuring six worshippers including the priest. The bomb was planted by the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group, which according to the Daily Mail “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”

While many more examples of church attacks on Christian holidays could be given, the four examples above demonstrate an important point. Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, and the Philippines have very little in common. These countries do not share the same language, race, or culture. What, then, do they have in common that explains this similar pattern of church attacks during Christian holy days? The answer is Islam. All four countries have large Muslim populations.

Read more