Imam Tawhidi’s Twitter handle: @Imamofpeace
Mufassil Islam – @mufassili
Jihad Watch, by Hugh Fitzgerald, February 11, 2017:
In Part I, I reviewed the propaganda war conducted by the American government during the Cold War, and lamented the lack of such a campaign against the forces of Jihad today. I discussed the need to reprint in full, and with a critical commentary appended, the Qur’an, and also to print intelligently abridged versions of the Hadith and Sira, again with critical commentaries appended, all for free mass distribution. I noted how important it was to have these works translated into a dozen of the major world languages and a half-dozen of the major languages of Islam, and to disseminate these texts not only through print publication (as was done during the Cold War), but also, and mainly, by posting them online, where they could be viewed by tens of millions of people. And I suggested reprinting another set of texts, by ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraq, able to offer from the inside a critical view of Islam’s curious appeal. I discussed the continuing problem of why this hadn’t yet been done, because governments are chary of paying for such campaigns, fearful of being charged with Islamophobia (look at the hysterical savaging of the Trump Administration over the so-called “Muslim ban”), and why, therefore, private parties now have to do what, in a more self-confident and less confused age, would be done, straightforwardly, by the government.
Another part of this privately-funded effort to undermine the appeal of Islam — see Part I here — should be the training of a cadre of speakers well-prepared to take on, in a debate setting, the small army of Islamic apologists already deployed in this country: a cadre of well-trained people to whom we entrust the task of How To Debate A Muslim. The need for this training is great, given the widespread and systematic campaigns of Muslim apologists, especially on college campuses, and at mosques, where every week brings fresh news of outreach efforts to the non-Muslims who visit these mosques, mostly unwary innocents eager to Visit A Mosque, or Ask A Muslim Anything, or just Meet Their Muslim Neighbors, who will, of course, be just as accommodating and welcoming as all get-out.
These debaters willing to take upon themselves this important task, to attend these Mosque-and-Muslim Outreach affairs, not because they know nothing about Islam, but because they know a good deal, know perfectly well what is going on in this smilingly sinister meet-and-greet, and would like to upset the propaganda applecart before it become a juggernaut, deserve help. It may, for example, be useful for such people to have been given guidance as to which Qur’anic passages, especially those on violent Jihad and treatment of Infidels, are most telling in painting a true picture of Islam. Or a list of those Qur’anic quotes always relied on by apologists – as 2:256 and 5:32 and 109:1-6 – and how to answer them, might be supplied in advance. And then they might be given a short list of stories in the Hadith, about the very episodes in Muhammad’s life that Muslim apologists will most wish to avoid, and that can most effectively unsettle the Muslim speaker(s). And these stories will create unease, too, but of a different kind, among the non-Muslims visiting the mosque who are now confronted not with feelgood mental pabulum, but a real conflict, one that suggests all is not right with Islam. These Infidels will be hearing from this prepared cadre of anti-Islam speakers about aspects of Islam and of Muhammad that are rooted in the texts, cannot be convincingly explained away, and are deeply disturbing.
What is needed is something like a debater’s bootcamp, real or virtual, to supply those who want to prepare for such debates the most useful material (the Jihad passages in the Qur’an, the least attractive aspects of Muhammad’s life, from the Hadith and Sira) and to guide Infidels in how most effectively to marshal their arguments and evidence, so as not merely to hold one’s own against any apologist for Islam, but to demolish that apologist’s predictable defenses. This requires a basic knowledge of Islam, and an ability to deploy a few dozen passages from the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, in a convincing and winning manner. Some knowledge of the history of Islamic conquest, and of what happened to the many peoples subjugated by Muslim conquerors — who was killed, who converted, and who survived under what onerous conditions – should also be learned, and made quickly retrievable from a Smartphone, for use in a debate. Imagine the effect, for example, of being able to quote the Indian historian K. S. Lal on the tens of millions of Hindus killed in India under Muslim rule. Anyone who has heard Muslims defending the faith knows that the apologists keep going back to the same handful of arguments (the supposed need to know Arabic, the necessity of understanding violence in its “context,” Muhammad as “empowering” women), keep quoting the same misleading verses – e.g., 2:56, 5:32 without 5:33 – and keep insisting, wrongly, that the most disturbing passages are descriptive rather than prescriptive, that is, they try to argue that the most violent of verses are limited to the time and place of their original application. Non-Muslims can anticipate which passages and off-the-rack arguments will be used, and should be ready to respond with their own stock of selected texts that show Islam in quite another light. The series of mock debates with someone taking the role of a Muslim defending the faith, and using the same arguments and evasions that real Muslims do, will help polish the debater’s presentation.
Let’s run through some of the standard Muslim claims. First, there is the attempt to disqualify non-Muslims from discussing the texts in the first place because “you have to know Arabic to really understand the Qur’an.” Your reply is ready in the form of an obvious question: “80% of the world’s Muslims are not Arabs; very few of them know Arabic; aren’t they real Muslims? Are you suggesting that they don’t understand the Qur’an?” For this there is no plausible retort. Next is the usual business about Islamic texts being taken “out of context.” The debater must be prepared to explain how and why many of those 109 “Jihad verses” are not descriptive, as is the violence in the Old Testament, but prescriptive, that is meant to be applicable for all time. As Robert Spencer has noted, there are no Christian and Jewish groups around the world plotting murder and mayhem based on Biblical texts, the way Muslim groups are doing, basing their terror squarely on chapter-and-verse in the Qur’an. Transcripts of their statements or, even better, videos, of Muslim terrorists citing Islamic texts as prompting their actions, could be brought to debates, to be played on a laptop or a larger screen, with the killers gleefully describing how those texts prompted their gruesome killings — difficult to explain, impossible to defend.
Then there are two Qur’anic passages that more than any others are constantly quoted by Defenders of the Faith, and for which any Debater should be prepared. The first is 5:32 without its modifying 5:33. 5:32 says that “whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind; and whoever saves a person, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” This verse, lifted from the Jewish text of the Mishnah, sounds good. But it is the verse that immediately follows – 5:33 — that prescribes rather than proscribes killing, turning 5:32 upside down: “The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land.” Who “makes war upon Allah and His messenger”? It’s the non-Muslims, of course, and it is they who should be “killed or crucified.” Both Presidents Bush and Obama respectfully quoted 5:32 to show the pacific nature of Islam; neither quoted 5:33. Were they attempting to mislead the public, or was it that they themselves were misled by their advisers on Islam whom, I suspect, were Muslims themselves, happy to supply them with apposite quotes to show that “Islam-means-peace”?
The other Qur’anic passage always quoted by Muslim apologists is 2:256: “There is no compulsion in religion.” But of course in Islam there is “compulsion in religion.” The compulsion is both for Muslims and for non-Muslims. For Muslims, there is the fear that keeps those who might want to leave the faith from doing so, for apostasy is punishable by death. Is that constant threat of death not the most extreme sort of “compulsion”? As for non-Muslims under Muslim rule, the stark choice offered them is either to convert to Islam, or be killed, or remain alive but be forced to pay a burdensome capitation tax, the Jizyah, as well as endure certain other disabilities. Doesn’t that kind of choice constitute “compulsion in religion”? Either you convert, or you die, or you pay an annual tax that can be crushing. You should bring home to your audience what this means in practice. How many of us, if we had to pay, say, $50,000 a year to Muslim rulers in order to remain Christians or Jews, would not, over time, decide in the end to convert? Wasn’t this exactly what happened in the lands that Muslims conquered, where many converted to avoid the Jizyah? That takes care of 5:32 and 2:256.
There are also quotes from the Qur’an that Muslim apologists use, knowing full well that Infidels will misinterpret them. When Muhammad says in Qur’an 109:1-6, “For you is your religion and for us is our religion,” this sounds good to Infidels: we will leave each other alone. That, of course, is preposterous, as we know, because Islam is determined never to leave Infidels alone, not until they surrender and choose death, conversion, or life as a Jizyah-paying dhimmi. The commentators on Qur’an 109 have written this: “When read in context, like many other verses misinterpreted for apologetic purposes, surat al-Kafiroon advocates the opposite of what is sometimes claimed. This surah is not a proclamation on religious tolerance and freedom or a recognition of religious pluralism. In fact, this surah unequivocally forbids inter-faith dialogue, expresses Muslims’ ‘total disgust’ of non-Islamic beliefs and advocates an ‘us versus them’ mentality between Muslims and disbelievers. This is how the surah is understood by mainstream Islam and the majority of its classical and contemporary scholars. Furthermore, if the historical context were to be ignored, it would still remain an abrogated verse superseded by ‘the verses of fighting.’ The verse means that ‘for us (Muslims) our (true) religion, for you – all the Unbelievers, who share the same falsity of belief – your (false) religion.’”
Another principle that needs to be clearly understood by debaters and explained to audiences is that of naskh, or “abrogation.” There are many passages in the Qur’an that are inconsistent with one another, and Muslims are taught that it is the later verses that “abrogate” (“naskh” literally means “removal”) the earlier ones. Why does this matter so much? It turns out that the earlier verses, which date from Muhammad’s time in Mecca, when he still had powerful enemies, and therefore had to be more accommodating, are “softer” and more “peaceful” toward the Infidels. So it is precisely these verses that apologists for Islam will quote. The audience of Infidels will most likely be unaware that the later verses, which are much harsher than those from the Meccan period, are held to “abrogate” the earlier ones, and come from the period when he ruled the city of Medina (Yathrib), was much more powerful than he had been in Mecca, and could now afford to be more severe with his enemies. The prepared debater will come armed with this understanding, explain it to the audience, and offer some examples of such abrogation. For example, Qur’an 9:5, the Verse of the Sword (“Slay the idolaters wherever you find them”), is held by Muslims to have “abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolater, every treaty, and every term.” And once again we can undermine the Muslim apologist’s reliance on Qur’an 2:256 (“There is no compulsion in religion”) which, as we have seen, mischaracterizes reality under Islam (ignoring the would-be apostate’s death sentence and the non-Muslim’s duty to pay the Jizyah, both forms of “compulsion”), by noting that 2:256 is also an earlier verse held to have been abrogated by many later verses from the “Meccan” period. Just a few such examples will be enough to discomfit your Muslim opponent, and shake the audience’s trust in his assertions.
What else should the debater on Islam ideally be ready to discuss? He should be ready to ask about not only what is written in the Qur’an and Hadith, but how Islam has been practiced, that is, how Muslims have behaved over 1400 years, as they conquered many lands and subjugated many peoples.
The first key is do not use the Koran and Allah, because the Koran is structured to be hard to understand. Instead, use the Sunna of Mohammed. The Koran says 91 times that Mohammed is the perfect Muslim and he is very easy to understand. We find Mohammed in his traditions, the Hadith, and his biography, the Sira.
When we use Mohammed to explain Islam, we do what the Koran commands. Some Muslims might say that a particular hadith may not valid (meaning they don’t like what it says), but know that almost every hadith that I use is called Sahih (authentic), since I use Bukhari and Abu Muslim.
Sometimes you meet a Muslim who rejects all of the Sunna, so how do you use Mohammed? Simple, the Koran by itself cannot be understood by any person, without knowing the life of Mohammed. No Mohammed equals no understanding of the Koran.
Actually, there is an oddity about the Koran. It is said to be the perfect, exact words of Allah. However, the perfect Koran cannot be understood without knowing Mohammed. However, the life of Mohammed and his traditions were written by people who never met him, but wrote down what they heard from others. In a court of law, this is called hearsay. Hearsay is usually not admissible in our courts. So the perfect book cannot be understood without evidence that cannot be used in our courts. Odd, isn’t it?
We owe it to Muslims to find out the realities of their religion by engaging with Islam on its own terms, not ours
The Federalist, by Tom Gilson, June 27, 2016:
I’m starting to wonder how any Muslim can stand the way Islam is treated in America. I know I can’t put myself in anyone else’s shoes, but it seems to me the constant, patronizing dismissal of their religion must be maddening. I’m talking about the almost universal unwillingness among liberals in the media to let Islam be Islam, but to make it as much as possible a Western liberal way of life instead.
After 9/11, President George W. Bush called Islam a religion of peace. President Obama refuses to use the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” in the same sentence. The New York Times and Huffington Post said Christianity should take the blame for the Orlando shooting.
They’ve meant well. They’ve tried to give honor to Islam as a major world religion. To honor a religion, however, requires taking it seriously, and taking it seriously means understanding it for what it is — its beliefs, its characteristic attitudes and culture, its own expectations of its people — not what outsiders might hope or wish or even believe it to be. It means dealing with Islam on its own terms rather than Western liberalism’s terms.
There’s precious little sign our leaders have ever taken Islam that seriously. I do not know of any elected official who has said, “Islam is a religion of peace, and this is how we know it is, following a thoughtful examination of its teachings.” I cannot recall any Western leader telling us, “Islam is a religion of peace today, in spite of its founder’s warlike ways and its violent expansion through its early centuries — because it clearly and deeply instructs its people such-and-so.” That is, I do not know of any leader who has actually explained in Islam’s own terms why we can be confident that terrorist acts performed by Muslims can never rightly be considered Islamic terrorism, or why (more recently) some commentators’ Christian beliefs should be considered more responsible than Islam’s for the Orlando shootings.
It’s one thing to make assurances to that effect. It’s another thing to engage with Islam deeply enough to know what one is talking about, and to demonstrate publicly that one has done so.
I’ve looked into Islam and its beliefs, and I’ve drawn certain conclusions, but those conclusions are no part of my argument here. I am merely addressing the Western liberal practice of speaking “tolerantly” about Islam without speaking knowledgeably about Islam; or at least without explaining how everyone else, given sufficient knowledge, would be justified in agreeing with their conclusions.
Muslims see men, women, and children day by day sacrificing their lives in the names of Allah, Muhammad, and Islam. If I followed that religion, I might agree or disagree with the way they have interpreted our shared religion. My views on that would be founded in my understanding of Islam. My interpretation would be a Muslim interpretation. My moral attitudes toward it would be determined by my Muslim theology.
I would also hear Westerners explaining Muslims’ violence under every category except Islam. I might hear them writing it off as the fruit of economic and political conditions, or Western oppression of immigrant communities, or Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, or too many guns in America — all of which are Western categories. I would hear that it was really Christians who were responsible for fellow Muslims’ decisions. I would see these interpreters preening over their tolerance toward my religion while treating my fellow believers as pawns being manipulated by external forces beyond their control.
I can’t see how that kind of “tolerance” would come across as anything but liberal-Western-centric — possibly even self-referential, self-satisfied, know-it-all Western-centric. That isn’t compassion, it’s condescension. It isn’t tolerance, it’s a smug, superior pat on the head. I’d be infuriated if someone did that toward my religion and beliefs.
Gatestone Institute, by Giulio Meotti, June 12, 2016
Islam, warned the best-selling Algerian novelist, Boualem Sansal, is going to split European society. In an interview with German media, this brave Arab writer painted a vision of Europe subjugated by radical Islam. According to Sansal, the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels are directed at the Western way of life: “You can not even defeat the weak Arab states, so they have brought in fifth columns to bring the West to destroy itself. If they succeed society will fall.”
Mr. Sansal, who has been threatened with death, belongs to a rapidly growing army of Muslim dissidents. They are the best liberation movement for millions of Muslims who aspire to practice their faith peacefully without submitting to the dictates of fundamentalists and fanatics. These Muslim dissidents pursue freedom of conscience, interreligious coexistence, pluralism in the public sphere, criticism of Islam, and respect for the rule of common law. For the Islamic world, their message could be devastating. That is why the Islamists are hunting them down.
It is always individuals, such as Lech Walesa, who make all the difference. The Soviet Union was defeated by only three beings: Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II — and the dissidents. When Professor Robert Havemann died in East Germany, few people noticed it. This intrepid critic of the regime was confined under house arrest in Grünheide, guarded by the Stasi. But the old professor never allowed himself to be intimidated. He continued to fight for his ideas.
A hero of Czechoslovak anti-Communism, Jan Patočka, died under grueling police interrogation. Patočka paid the highest price of silencing. His brilliant lectures were reduced to a clandestine seminar. Although unable to publish, he continued to work in a tiny underground apartment.
Hunted by the KGB, Alexander Solzhenitsyn set down the chapters of his Gulag Archipelago and hid them with different trusted friends, so no one possessed the entire manuscript. In 1973 only three copies existed. When the Soviet political police managed to extort the typist, Elizaveta Voronyanskya, to one of the hideouts, thinking the masterpiece was lost forever she hanged herself.
Today a new Iron Curtain has been erected by Islam against the rest of the world, and the new heroes are the dissidents, the apostates, the heretics, the rebels, and the non-believers. It is no coincidence that the first victim of a fatwa was Salman Rushdie, an Indian-British writer from a Muslim family.
Pascal Bruckner called them “the free thinkers of the Muslim world.” We should support them — all of them. Because if the enemies of freedom come from free societies, those who kneel before Allah’s enforcers, some of the bravest defenders of freedom come from the Islamic regimes. Europe should give financial, moral and political support to these friends of Western civilization, while our disgraced intelligentsia is engaged in slandering them.
One, an Algerian author, Kamel Daoud, who called Saudi Arabia “an Isis that had made it,” recently sparked an “Islamophobia” row for having directed his own anger at the naïve people, who he says ignore the cultural gulf separating the Arab-Muslim world from Europe.
Another, an Iranian exile, now in the Netherlands, the jurist Afshin Ellian, works at Utrecht University, where after the murder of Theo Van Gogh, he is protected by bodyguards. After the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, while Europe’s media were busy in blaming the “stupid” cartoonists, Ellian promoted an appeal: “Don’t let terrorists determine the limits of free speech.”
Another brave dissident and author, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, had to flee from the Netherlands to the U.S., where she rapidly became one of most prominent public intellectuals.
|Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a brave Muslim dissident and author, had to flee from the Netherlands to the U.S., where she rapidly became one of most prominent public intellectuals. (Image source: Gage Skidmore)|
The Moroccan mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is also guarded by police. He recently told fellow Muslims who protested against freedoms they found while living in the West to “pack your bags and f… off.” A heroic Christian defender of these freedoms in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, is now on trial accused of “discrimination.” “I am in jail,” he has said, referring to his safehouses, “and they are walking around free.”
Many of these dissidents are women. Shukria Barakzai, an Afghan politician and journalist, declared war on Islamic fundamentalists after the Taliban’s religious police beat her for daring to walk without a male escort. A suicide bomber blew himself up near her car, killing three. Kadra Yusuf, a Somali journalist, infiltrated Oslo’s mosques to denounce the imams, especially regarding female genital mutilation, not even required in the Koran or the Hadith (reports about Mohammad). In Pakistan, Sherry Rehman called for “a reform of Pakistani blasphemy’s laws.” She risks her life every day. She is branded by Islamists “fit to be killed” for being a woman, a Muslim and a secular activist. The Syrian-American author and psychiatrist, Wafa Sultan, was also branded an “infidel” deserving of death.
Le Figaro recently published a long report about Muslim French personalities threatened with “execution”. “Placed under permanent police protection, regarded as traitors by Muslim fundamentalists, they live in a hell. In the eyes of Islamists, their freedom is an act of betrayal of the ummah [community].” They are writers and journalists of Arab-Muslim culture who denounce the Islamist threat and the inherent violence of the Koran. They stand alone against Islamism which uses the physical terrorism of Kalashnikovs, and against the intellectual terrorism which submits them to media intimidation. Seen as “traitors” by their communities, they are accused by the élites in the West of “stigmatizing.”
The French journalist Zineb El Rhazoui has more bodyguards than many ministers in the government of Manuel Valls, and for security, has to change houses in Paris often in recent months. For this young scholar, born in Casablanca and who works at the French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, walking down the street in Paris has become unthinkable. A fatwa put out after January 7, 2015 reads: “Kill Zineb El Rhazoui to avenge the Prophet.”
Threats against another dissident, Nadia Remadna, do not come from Raqqa, Syria, but her own city: Sevran, in Seine-Saint-Denis. They reflect the growing influence of Islamists in the lost territories of the French Republic. What “crime” was she found guilty of? She created the “Brigade of Mothers” to combat the Islamist influence on young Muslims.
A philosophy teacher, Sofiane Zitouni, has also quit his job at a Muslim French school over “insidious Islamism.”
The French-Algerian journalist, essayist and author of several investigations into Islamist circles, Mohamed Sifaoui, is the victim of a double threat. He is a prime target for both fundamentalists and the “tolerant” grand inquisitors. Sentenced to two years in prison by the Algerian regime for “press offenses,” then harassed by Islamists, Sifaoui requested asylum in France in 1999 and has never set foot in Algeria again. Since then, Sifaoui has seen his picture and name next to the words “le mourtad,” the apostate, on Islamist websites, meaning that he is targeted for death. French police protection around him has been total since 2006, when he defended freedom of expression for the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
About fifteen witnesses made a deposition in favor of the magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Among them were the late Muslim Tunisian essayist, Abdelwahab Meddeb, who had the courage to challenge the entire French Muslim establishment which tried to stop Charlie Hebdo. Meddeb wanted to show “this is not about anyone against Islam, but enlightened Islam against obscurantist Islam.”
Also in France, Hassen Chalghoumi, the courageous imam of Drancy, preaches while wearing a bullet-proof vest. When he goes out on the street, he is accompanied by five police officers with semiautomatic weapons. This is not outside Baghdad’s Green Zone; this is in the heart of Paris. Chalghoumi backed the ban on burkas; made an unprecedented visit at Jerusalem’s Holocaust memorial; paid tribute to the victims of Charlie Hebdo and favored a dialogue with French Jews.
In Italy, an Egyptian-born writer, Magdi Cristiano Allam, is protected by bodyguards for having criticized political Islam. As the deputy editor of Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Mr. Allam published a book whose title alone was enough to endanger his life: “Viva Israele.”
Ibn Warraq lives protected behind a pseudonym since writing a seminal book, “Why I am Not a Muslim.”
The Palestinian blogger Walid Husayin is also a rarity. Jailed for “satirizing the Koran, he recently published a book in France about his experience in the Palestinian territories, where his “atheism” nearly cost him his life.
In Tunisia there are a handful of filmmakers and intellectuals who fight for freedom of expression, especially after a secular opposition leader, Chokri Belaid, was assassinated. Also Nadia El Fani, the director of “Ni Allah ni maître” [“Neither Allah nor Master”], and Nabil Karoui, the manager of Nessma TV, are threatened with death and are being taken to court to answer charges of “blasphemy.” If Tunisia’s “Arab spring” did not turn into an Islamist winter, as elsewhere, it is largely thanks to these dissidents.
Those heroes know what happened to their predecessors in “the war on Arab intellectuals.” Writers such as Tahar Djaout were killed in 1993 by the Islamists in Algiers, as was the journalist, Farag Foda, famous for his sharp satires on Islamic fundamentalism. Prior to his murder, Foda had been accused of “blasphemy” by the great mosque of al-Azhar. A dozen Bangladeshi bloggers have also been murdered in cold blood by Islamists for the “crime” of “secularism.”
Last year, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al- Sisi called for reforming Islam and the way it is taught as did Sunni Islam’s leading cleric, Sheikh Ahmed al Tayeb, head of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the center of Sunni Islam. And he said it in Mecca, no less. Egypt’s conservatives however did their best to tamp that down – at least for the moment.
There are, however, more and more dissidents successfully speaking out and leading bold, farsighted movements. In the U.S., M. Zuhdi Jasser, author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam,” and a practising physician, founded the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Last year, more than two dozen Muslim personalities promoted an appeal “to embrace a pluralistic interpretation of Islam, rejecting all forms of oppression and abuses committed in the name of religion.”
In the U.K., Maajid Nawaz heads the influential Quilliam Foundation, and Shiraz Maher, who defected from the Islamist organization, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, now serves as a Senior Fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.
These are just a few of today’s heroes. Some had to be left out; there were too many to list.
The proud and painful resistance of these “Allah’s rebels” is one of the most beautiful testaments of our times. These “Allah’s rebels” are also the only real hope of reform for the Islamic world — and of preserving freedom for all of us.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
The very people we need are military and law enforcement. A Muslim fifth column would be nice. Just as a German fifth column or a Japanese fifth column would have been nice, but it can never become the core of our strategy to the extent that all other operations are subservient to the need to manufacture and maintain this imaginary fifth column.
Family Security Matters, May 31, 2016, by Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.)
Recently, England’s 190-year-old Oxford Union – the world’s most prestigious debating society – debated a topic many today consider taboo. President Barack Obama would assure us debate is unnecessary as he knows the answer.
The topic: Is Islam a peaceful religion? Obama repeatedly assures us it is.
Many non-Muslims accept this neologistic perception because most religions are peaceful. But the consequence of this is any intellectual debate centered specifically on Islam has been numbed while all other religions remain fair game. Political correctness boundaries, only extended to Islam, silence rational debate about its driving ideology.
It is Islam, among the family of religions, that is the irate member, suffering a psychosis that leaves others walking on eggshells for fear of triggering the anger. But doing so only contributes to an atmosphere conducive to Islam attacking others unwilling to initiate a pre-emptive defense.
In the Oxford Union debate, activist Anne Marie Waters argued Islam is not peaceful. She noted its supporters have so effectively played off of this peace perception, they are never required substantively to prove it.
In the U.S. criminal system, we recognize one as “presumed innocent” until proven guilty. This presumption puts the burden on the accuser – the prosecutor – affirmatively to prove the accused committed a criminal act. Guilt is to be established by a “preponderance of evidence.”
Waters made her case, introducing a preponderance of evidence to support Islam’s dark side. She blamed “the actions of Islam itself” such as:
Waters went on to explain Islam’s call to violence knows no boundaries – evidenced by the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., the London Underground bombings, Madrid, Mumbai, Mali, Bali, Northern Nigeria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Belgium, etc.
Defense attorneys, in a U.S. court of law, might argue, as to Waters’ evidence, such violence may be typical of Islamic extremists but not of Islamic moderates.
Waters need only cite Muslim leaders who tell us otherwise.
Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.
Tundra Tabloids, April 14, 2016:
As history and human experience proves, utopia can never be achieved, and islam is not peace.
A Myth Demolished
by Srdja Trifkovic
The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise:
Muslims, Christians, and Jews Under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain
by Darío Fernández-Morera Wilmington, DE: ISI Books 336 pp., $29.95
Over the past two decades a great chasm has opened up between the tenured American professoriate specializing in the humanities and social sciences, and the meaningful discussion of its subjects in the public arena. It is hard to find a recent work by an academic authority on social, historical, and cultural anthropology in general, or on the specific issues of religion, family, race, immigration, education, gender, and sexuality, that is not “informed” by the legacy of critical theory and its conceptual and methodological framework. The authors may divide themselves into different “schools” (constructivist, postmodern, poststructuralist), but they are all initiates of the same sect.
Almost a century after Julien Benda coined the phrase, the trahison des clercs has morphed into a new form. By rejecting the notions of objectivity, truth, and historical reality in favor of the approved forms of ideological “antihegemonistic discourse,” the treasonous clercs of our time have severed the link between what can or should be known and the knowledge itself. The result is a myriad of myths covering every area of human endeavor, past and present. Some have had far-reaching political consequences: The myth of “diversity” has engendered a massive state apparat dedicated to social engineering and control, while the chimera of “human rights” has produced an assault on the institution of marriage hardly imaginable a generation ago. What they all have in common is their visceral antipathy to Western civilization, and to the Christian concept of personhood (dignitas personae) and its related historical “constructs.”
Seen against this cultural and ideological backdrop, Darío Fernández-Morera’s Myth of the Andalusian Paradise is doubly subversive. It is a first-rate work of scholarship that demolishes the fabrication of the multiethnic, multiconfessional convivencia in Spain under Muslim rule. The book is also an exposé of the endemic problems of contemporary Western academe, as manifested in the dishonesty, corruption, and dogmatic intolerance of the Islamic-studies establishment both here and in Europe. The author ascribes this phenomenon to a mix of “stakeholder interests and incentives,” “motivated blindness,” “Occidentalism” and “Christianophobia,” and to the corrosive influence of the multimillion-dollar grants that many leading Islamic-studies departments receive from the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and others.
Fernández-Morera’s book presents a clear and present danger to the “stakeholders.” It undermines one of their cherished orthodoxies so comprehensively that it potentially threatens many careers and reputations. They will take note. An optimistic reviewer has predicted that “[i]t will soon find its place on the shelves of premier academic institutions,” but there is reason to fear the opposite. It is more likely to be demonized, as Sylvain Gouguenheim’s debunking of the myth of Islam’s key contribution to the late-medieval civilization of Europe was demonized in France in 2008; or else ignored, as Raphael Israeli’s prescient Islamic Challenge in Europe was in that same year and after.
The book’s seven chapters deal with the Islamic conquest and subsequent Christian reconquest of Spain; the jihadist destruction of the nascent Visigothic civilization; the daily realities of al-Andalus; the myth of Ummayad tolerance; and the condition of women, Jews, and Christians. Each chapter starts with two or three quotations by prominent academic authorities asserting some elements of the myth, which Fernández-Morera proceeds to discredit point by point. His narrative is supported by massive research: There are 95 small-font pages of Notes, citing hitherto unknown or neglected Muslim, Christian, and Jewish primary sources. Fernández-Morera also relies on dozens of scholarly monographs and articles, many of them published in Spanish and duly ignored—with breathtaking arrogance—by the promoters of the establishmentarian narrative who write in English.
In dealing with the central myth—religious tolerance, the harmoniously multicultural coexistence of Muslims, Jews, and Christians who willingly accepted the enlightened order, and the civilizational flourishing of al-Andalus—Fernández-Morera refutes a host of subsidiary postmodern myths and historical judgments, which now serve as canon law for Western academia. They include: Generations of medieval Muslim scholars and warriors failed to grasp the Koran’s true message of peace and tolerance. They also misinterpreted jihad as a divinely ordained duty to wage perpetual war against infidels, rather than as inner spiritual struggle for moral improvement. Old Muslim chronicles (primary sources, or “texts embellished by legends, serving political and religious agendas”) should not be taken at face value when they celebrate violent conquest, murder, and subjugation of infidels. On the other hand, those same chronicles are completely reliable when they celebrate the splendor of the civilization of al-Andalus, or denigrate El Cid as a sordid mercenary. The political and social change in Iberia in the first half of the eighth century was not a “conquest” but an “expansion,” similar to spontaneous migratory processes through the ages. A primitive Visigothic realm collapsed swiftly because it had reached an advanced stage of social decomposition and was devoid of any excuse for continued existence. The expansion was facilitated by peaceful pacts, generously offered by the new authorities and willingly accepted by many natives. That expansion was materially rather than religiously motivated, and it certainly had nothing to do with the misunderstood notions of jihad. By contrast, the Reconquista was a ruthless war of aggression waged by greedy Christian zealots who were unrelated to the inhabitants of pre-Islamic Iberia, and who replaced tolerance with the Inquisition and ethnic cleansing. And in speaking of all of this, we should refer to Iberia, which evokes a diverse entity comprising Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Arab, European, and other “essences,” rather than Spain, which is an inherently Euro/Christocentric name for something that did not exist at the time. (Islamic Spain is right out!)
Space does not allow us to list all of the fables—some bizarre, others laughable, most of them infuriating—that Fernández-Morera dispatches with unassailable logic and ruthless efficiency. Occasionally, his joy at getting the job done almost radiates from the printed page.
The book ends with a short Epilogue that summarizes the record: In Islamic Spain there was no tolerant convivencia, but a precaria coexistencia. In cultural terms alone, the invasion, conquest, and colonization of Christian Spain by Islamic warriors was a disaster for her population because a promising young civilization—far superior to that of the coarse North African invaders—was nipped in the bud:
This Christian Hispano-Roman-Visigoth population “deserved” to be conquered and enlightened by Islamic rulers no more than the population of the Americas deserved to be conquered and enlightened by the Christian Europeans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, or that the population of India deserved to be conquered and enlightened by the Christian British in the eighteenth.
A similar hypocrisy, one might add, applies to the academic establishment’s treatment of the Crusades. The meta-message is the same: Islam’s “expansion” into the Holy Land was normal and even desirable—the Eastern Roman Empire’s southeastern flank was as “deserving” of conquest in the seventh century as Visigothic Spain was in the eighth—but any subsequent attempt by Christians to turn the tables was deemed a barbarous crime. Fernández-Morera is right to say that few periods in history have been more misrepresented than that of Islamic Spain. The same verdict applies to the two centuries of Outremer.
In this age of rampant victimology, the largest group of victims in history—tens if not hundreds of millions of Christians who were murdered, enslaved, terrorized, or marginalized by Muslims from Muhammad to our time—is consistently denied its rightful status in the Western academy. This is a scandal, and in the final pages Fernández-Morera abandons his restrained tone when he summarizes the condition of the Christian Mozarabs (italics original):
[T]hey were by definition a subaltern group, a fourth- or fifth-class marginalized people in a hierarchical society . . . the victims of an extortion system, the dhimma, that gave them the choice that gangsters give to their victims: pay to be protected, or else.
To claim that the Christians might have been “content” with their status under medieval Islamic rule—in Spain, or later in the Balkans under the Ottomans—is even more preposterous, Fernández-Morera adds, than saying that American blacks might have been “content” with their treatment by paternalistic slaveowners in the antebellum South. Given Islam’s religious laws, the subaltern status of Christians was inevitable within the Islamic empire at all times and in all places.
Without the Christian resistance and eventual Reconquest, Darío Fernández- Morera concludes, “Spain today could well be an extension of the cultures of North Africa and the Middle East.” She would not have been able to develop the greatness of her own late-medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque civilization, culminating in the Spanish Golden Age, which yielded marvelously rich fruits in every field of artistic, literary, and intellectual endeavor. Compared with the splendor of post-Reconquista Spain, the fruits of medieval Islam were meager, and Islamic Spain failed to deliver much considering its early promise. I hope that in the second edition (and there will be a second edition) Fernández-Morera will devote more attention to the myth of Andalusian intellectual brilliance, which is also in need of a touch of Darío. A few scholars living under Islamic rule, not necessarily Muslim by faith or conviction, made limited use of Greek, Persian,
Hindu, and other pre-Islamic sources, and that’s about it. Claiming that the work of Averroës was the product of a distinctly “Islamic” civilization is on par with asserting that the performances of the Kirov ballet company in the 1940’s, or the launching of Sputnik a decade later, was the outcrop of Stalin’s enlightened cultural and scientific policies. Andalusian translators made a peripheral contribution to the popularizing of Aristotle in Christian Europe, but his works had already reached the Frankoi by way of the Greek Romei: St. Thomas Aquinas wrote detailed commentary on “the Philosopher” in the 1250’s, Barlaam of Calabria taught Aristotle in Italy in the early 1300’s, and Leontius Pilatus promoted Greek studies all over Western Europe a generation later. No Muslim good offices were needed for the flourishing of Greek language and learning in Florence under the Medicis or elsewhere. More importantly, Christian (not Muslim) thinkers actually built upon the legacy of Hellas. They were able to accommodate the pursuit of scientific knowledge within the framework of divine revelation, and to test their findings by adversarial method of proof. In the early 13th century, after al-Ghazali, Sunni Islam abandoned reason and logic and entered a long period of decline-without-fall, which lasts to this day. In that same century after Aquinas, Christian Europeans were able to “invent invention” and foster the exponential growth of knowledge. This theme may be worth an additional chapter.
My only criticism of Fernández-Morera’s Myth of the Andalusian Paradise does not concern what he has written but what is missing: an afterthought on the demographic and cultural peril in which Spain finds herself today. His book ends with the victory of Christian Spain over the most relentlessly anti-Christian project the world has known; but the drama of Spain’s relationship with Islam is not over. Her liberation from Muslim misrule in 1492 may not be as final and irreversible as it had seemed to be for half a millennium.
For the past three years I have been spending a quarter of my time in Gran Canaria, in Spain’s southernmost province 800 miles south of “the Peninsula” (as the locals call the mainland). Even in that short period of time a perceptible change has taken place in the ethnic mix of the island. Mostly Moroccan immigrants are gradually taking over the working-class suburb of San Fernando, just over a mile north of the beaches, hotels, and boutiques of Maspalomas. Their women—easily recognized by their hijabs and many children in tow—make up a large contingent of shoppers in the local Mercadona supermarket, while their men sip tea, talk, and smoke outside the mosque at the nearby Yumbo shopping center in Playa del Inglés. There are visibly more of them now than when I first came, and there are definitely many more balconies with the telltale satellite dishes pointing east to Africa.
Nationwide, there are just over two million Muslim immigrants in Spain, not counting hundreds of thousands of illegals. They account for four percent of her 46 million people. This is lower than the population of Muslims in France or Germany, but the rate of increase is higher in Spain than in any other major member-state of the European Union. (In 1990 Muslims numbered under 100,000.) As is the case in all other countries with a large Islamic diaspora, its leaders in Spain are making ever-escalating, sometimes outrageous, demands. They range from the suppression of the traditional celebrations of the Reconquista—Fiestas de Moros y Cristianos—to the granting of Spanish citizenship to millions of descendants of Muslims expelled after the reconquest, so as to rectify “the injustice inflicted on the Muslim population of Andalusia who are still suffering in the diaspora in exile since 1492.”
What amounts to the re-reconquista will likely continue for as long as Spain’s political, media, and even ecclesiastical establishment remains gripped by the same spirit of “Christian ideas gone mad” (Chesterton) that has made much of Europe unable to resist the ongoing migrant invasion. The writing was on the wall in 2004, when Church authorities wanted to remove the statue of St. Iago “the Moor Slayer” from the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela because it was deemed offensive to Muslims. (They were forced to rescind the decision “for the time being” following a public outcry.) In December 2011 politicians in Madrid inaugurated a major exhibition, “Between the Two Worlds,” to commemorate the 1,300th anniversary of Spain’s “social and cultural transformation”—i.e., the Muslim invasion. Esperanza Aguirre, then-president of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, called it “one of the most thrilling moments in the history of Spain.” There are countless similar examples of the Spanish elite’s moral and cultural decrepitude.
The situation is critical, the consequences are potentially tragic, and the quest for a solution has not even started. It is long overdue. It demands the attention of an accomplished scholar who knows and understands Spain, who can examine her present condition in all its complexity, and whose heart in the right place. I suggest to Darío Fernández-Morera that his next book should be The Threat of the Andalusian Nightmare.
Srdja Trifkovic is Chronicles’ foreign-affairs editor