Dr. Bill Warner – The true nature of Islam

https://www.politicalislam.com/trilogy-project/statistical-islam/

Religious Islam is defined as doctrine concerned with going to Paradise and avoiding Hell by following the Koran and the Sunna. The part of Islam that deals with the “outsider”, the kafir, is defined as political Islam. Since so much of the Trilogy is about the kafir, the statistical conclusion is that Islam is primarily a political system, not a religious system.

Text of this talk can be found here in pdf

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Islam’s Most Eloquent Apostate

ILLUSTRATION: ZINA SAUNDERS

WSJ, by Tunku Varadarajan, April 7, 2017:

The woman sitting opposite me, dressed in a charcoal pantsuit and a duck-egg-blue turtleneck, can’t go anywhere, at any time of day, without a bodyguard. She is soft-spoken and irrepressibly sane, but also—in the eyes of those who would rather cut her throat than listen to what she says—the most dangerous foe of Islamist extremism in the Western world. We are in a secure room at a sprawling university, but the queasiness in my chest takes a while to go away. I’m talking to a woman with multiple fatwas on her head, someone who has a greater chance of meeting a violent end than anyone I’ve met (Salman Rushdie included). And yet she’s wholly poised, spectacles pushed back to rest atop her head like a crown, dignified and smiling under siege.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969, is Islam’s most eloquent apostate. She has just published a slim book that seeks to add a new four-letter word—dawa—to the West’s vocabulary. It describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad. It is, she says, the greatest threat facing the West and “could well bring about the end of the European Union as we know it.” America is far from immune, and her book, “The Challenge of Dawa,” is an explicit attempt to persuade the Trump administration to adopt “a comprehensive anti-dawa strategy before it is too late.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali has come a long way from the days when she—“then a bit of a hothead”—declared Islam to be incapable of reform, while also calling on Muslims to convert or abandon religion altogether. That was a contentious decade ago. Today she believes that Islam can indeed be reformed, that it must be reformed, and that it can be reformed only by Muslims themselves—by those whom she calls “Mecca Muslims.” These are the faithful who prefer the gentler version of Islam that she says was “originally promoted by Muhammad” before 622. That was the year he migrated to Medina and the religion took a militant and unlovely ideological turn.

At the same time, Ms. Hirsi Ali—now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where I also work—is urging the West to look at Islam with new eyes. She says it must be viewed “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.”

Dawa, Ms. Hirsi Ali explains, is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says, and then checks herself: “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”

Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with “terror” in the years since 9/11. “In focusing only on acts of violence,” she says, “we’ve ignored the Islamist ideology underlying those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam—or ‘Islamism’—and against those who spread that ideology in our midst, we’ve committed a blunder.”

There is a knock on the door. I hear hushed voices outside, presumably her bodyguard telling someone to come back later. To add to the mildly dramatic effect, a siren is audible somewhere in the distance, unusual for the serene Stanford campus. Ms. Hirsi Ali is unfazed. “What the Islamists call jihad,” she continues, “is what we call terrorism, and our preoccupation with it is, I think, a form of overconfidence. ‘Terrorism is the way of the weak,’ we tell ourselves, ‘and if we can just take out the leaders and bring down al Qaeda or ISIS, then surely the followers will stop their jihad.’ But we’re wrong. Every time Western leaders take down a particular organization, you see a different one emerge, or the same one take on a different shape. And that’s because we’ve been ignoring dawa.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali wants us to get away from this game of jihadi Whac-A-Mole and confront “the enemy that is in plain sight—the activists, the Islamists, who have access to all the Western institutions of socialization.” She chuckles here: “That’s a horrible phrase . . . ‘institutions of socialization’ . . . but they’re there, in families, in schools, in universities, prisons, in the military as chaplains. And we can’t allow them to pursue their aims unchecked.”

America needs to be on full alert against political Islam because “its program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution”—with religious pluralism, the equality of men and women, and other fundamental rights, including the toleration of different sexual orientations. “When we say the Islamists are homophobic,” she observes, “we don’t mean that they don’t like gay marriage. We mean that they want gays put to death.”

Islam the religion, in Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view, is a Trojan horse that conceals Islamism the political movement. Since dawa is, ostensibly, a religious missionary activity, its proponents “enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.” Ms. Hirsi Ali is not afraid to call these groups out. Her book names five including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asserts—and in turn receives in the mainstream media—the status of a moderate Muslim organization. But groups like CAIR, Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “take advantage of the focus on ‘inclusiveness’ by progressive political bodies in democratic societies, and then force these societies to bow to Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.”

Her strategy to fight dawa evokes several parallels with the Western historical experience of radical Marxism and the Cold War. Islamism has the help of “useful idiots”—Lenin’s phrase—such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has denounced Ms. Hirsi Ali as an “extremist.” She sees that smear as a success for dawa: “They go to people like the SPLC and say, ‘Can we partner with you, because we also want to talk about what you guys talk about, which is civil rights. And Muslims are a minority, just like you.’ So, they play this victim card, and the SPLC swallows it. And it’s not just them, it’s also the ACLU. The Islamists are infiltrating all these institutions that were historic and fought for rights. It’s a liberal blind spot.”

Western liberals, she says, are also complicit in an Islamist cultural segregation. She recalls a multiculturalist catchphrase from her years as a Somali refugee in Amsterdam in the early 1990s: “ ‘Integrate with your own identity,’ they used to tell us—Integratie met eigen identiteit. Of course, that resulted in no integration at all.”

Ms. Hirsi Ali wants the Trump administration—and the West more broadly—to counter the dawa brigade “just as we countered both the Red Army and the ideology of communism in the Cold War.” She is alarmed by the ease with which, as she sees it, “the agents of dawa hide behind constitutional protections they themselves would dismantle were they in power.” She invokes Karl Popper, the great Austrian-British philosopher who wrote of “the paradox of tolerance.” Her book quotes Popper writing in 1945: “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

I ask Ms. Hirsi Ali what her solution might be, and she leans once more on Popper, who proposed a right not to tolerate the intolerant. “Congress must give the president—this year, because there’s no time to lose—the tools he needs to dismantle the infrastructure of dawa in the U.S.” Dawa has become an existential menace to the West, she adds, because its practitioners are “working overtime to prevent the assimilation of Muslims into Western societies. It is assimilation versus dawa. There is a notion of ‘cocooning,’ by which Islamists tell Muslim families to cocoon their children from Western society. This can’t be allowed to happen.”

Is Ms. Hirsi Ali proposing to give Washington enhanced powers to supervise parenting? “Yes,” she says. “We want these children to be exposed to critical thinking, freedom, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rights of women.” She also suggests subjecting immigrants and refugees to ideological scrutiny, so as to deny entry, residence and naturalization to those “involved with, or supportive of, Islamism.”

In effect, Ms. Hirsi Ali would modernize the “communism test” that still applies to those seeking naturalization. “I had to answer questions when I applied for citizenship in 2013: ‘Are you, or have you ever been, a communist?’ And I remember thinking, ‘God, that was the war back then. We’re supposed to update this stuff!’ Potential immigrants from Pakistan or Bangladesh, for instance, should have to answer questions—‘Are you a member of the Jamat?’ and so on. If they’re from the Middle East you ask them about the Muslim Brotherhood, ‘or any other similar group,’ so there’s no loophole.”

Might critics deride this as 21st-century McCarthyism? “That’s just a display of intellectual laziness,” Ms. Hirsi Ali replies. “We’re dealing here with a lethal ideological movement and all we are using is surveillance and military means? We have to grasp the gravity of dawa. Jihad is an extension of dawa. For some, in fact, it is dawa by other means.”

The U.S., she believes, is in a “much weaker position to combat the various forms of nonviolent extremism known as dawa because of the way that the courts have interpreted the First Amendment”—a situation where American exceptionalism turns into what she calls an “exceptional handicap.” Convincing Americans of this may be the hardest part of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s campaign, and she knows it. Yet she asks whether the judicial attitudes of the 1960s and 1970s—themselves a reaction to the excesses of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s—might have left the U.S. ill-equipped to suppress threats from groups that act in the name of religion.

I ask Ms. Hirsi Ali if there’s any one thing she would wish for. “I would like to be present at a conversation between Popper and Muhammad,” she says. “Popper wrote about open society and its enemies, and subjected everyone from Plato to Marx to his critical scrutiny. I’d have liked him to subject Muhammad’s legacy to the same analysis.

“But he skipped Muhammad, alas. He skipped Muhammad.”

Mr. Varadarajan is a research fellow in journalism at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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Also see:

Islamic Projection: Why Muslims Hate Infidels

By Raymond Ibrahim, March 29, 2017:

A little known fact: When Muslims persecute religious minorities in their midst, they often justify it by projecting the worst aspects of Islam onto the “infidels.”  A well-known phenomenon, “projection” is defined as “the attribution of one’s own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people.” One academic article states, “Projection allows the killer to project his (unacceptable) desire to kill (torture, rape, steal, dominate, etc.) onto some target group or person. This demonizes his target, making it even more acceptable to kill.”

Accordingly, anyone who listens to the last video made by ISIS inciting violence against Egypt’s Copts would think the Christian minority is oppressing the Muslim majority—hence the need for “heroic” ISIS to “retaliate.”  Similarly, after ISIS slaughtered 21 Egyptian Christians on the shores of Libya in 2016, it made a video portraying its actions as “revenge” against the Coptic Church, which ISIS bizarrely accuses of kidnapping, torturing, and forcing Muslim women to convert to Christianity—all things Muslims regularly do to Christians in Egypt. (Apparently the killing of nearly 60 Christians in a Baghdad church a few years earlier—which the jihadis then also portrayed as revenge against the Coptic Church’s forced conversion of Muslim women—was not enough).

When a Muslim cleric said that “whenever they [U.S.] invade a Muslim country, they strike on a Sunday. Always,” he too was projecting what he knows of Muslim attacks on infidels.  Look to almost any report of Muslim mob uprisings against Christians and their churches, especially in Egypt; they are almost always on Fridays—and naturally so: for that is the one day of the week when Muslims congregate in mosques for prayers, only to invariably hear sermons that rile them up against infidels.

But perhaps the best example is Ayat Oraby—the smiley-faced, pink-hijab wearing, Muslim woman and activist with many Muslim followers on social media.  In a video she made some months back (around the same time that one authority said Egyptian Christians were suffering attacks “every two or three days”), this Muslim woman who often resides in America sought to foment as much hostility for the Copts as possible; and she did this by accusing them of doing to Muslims what Muslims are always doing to them.  After calling the Coptic Church a “bunch of gangsters” and a “total mafia” that “rules [Egypt] behind the curtains,” she accused it of “stockpiling weapons in churches” and “striving to create a Coptic statelet” in an effort to continue waging “a war against Islam.”

Meanwhile, back in the real world—which consists of some 200 nations—Egypt is the 21st worst nation for Christians to live in; there they experience “very high persecution,” according to Open Doors, an international human rights organization.  The abduction of Christian women and children and their forced conversion to Islam is par for the course; entire Christian villages and churches are regularly set aflame on the rumor that a Christian somewhere “blasphemed” against Muhammad on social media, or that a Christian man is dating a Muslim woman.

But many Muslims, such as this Ayat Oraby, ever seeing themselves as victims, are blind to such facts; their notions of reality are informed by Islam.  And if Islam calls for constant hostility against the “other”—the non-Muslim, the infidel—who must be subverted or subjugated one way or the other, that must mean the “other” is constantly working to subvert and subjugate Muslims.  This sort of thinking goes right to the beginning: the 7th century Islamic conquests—those wonderfully “altruistic openings”—are constantly portrayed, not as offensive warfare, but defensive.  Muslims supposedly left Arabia, conquering and plundering their way through the Middle East, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, and into France, to preempt the infidels who apparently were preparing to set off for Arabia to snuff out a nascent Islam.  Such is how the discipline of history is regularly mocked in Islamic schools around the world.

Let’s return to Ayat Oraby and consider her “projective” claims.  She accuses Egypt’s Christians of controlling events “behind the curtains.” This is as ironic a claim as it is old.  In 2010, prominent Egyptian cleric Khalid al-Jundi  complained that in Egypt “Muslims have fewer rights than Christians, and even do not have the right to worship like Christians.” In reality and as is well known, Christian churches face immense restrictions; just talk of building one sets off mass riots and attacks on Christians.   Facts speak plainly: there are 114,000 mosques in Egypt but only 2,000 churches; that’s 57 mosques for every one church, even though Christians are at least ten percent of the population.

Moreover, in a country where Islam reigns supreme; where Sharia (which mandates the subjugation of non-Muslims, a la Koranic verse 9:29) is part of the Constitution; where Copts have been conditioned over centuries to be content with just being left alone—is it reasonable to believe that these selfsame, down-trodden “infidels,” who make up ten percent of the population, are planning a violent takeover of Egypt?

As for Oraby’s claims that Egypt’s Christians are “stockpiling weapons in churches,” and “striving to create a Coptic statelet” to continue waging “a war against Islam,” this is another tired charge.  Muhammad Salim al-Awwa, former secretary-general of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, once appeared on Al-Jazeera  and, in a wild tirade, accused the Copts of “stocking arms and ammunitions in their churches and monasteries”—imported from Israel no less, “the heart of the Coptic Cause”—and “preparing to wage war against Muslims.” He warned that if nothing is done, the “country will burn,” inciting Muslims to “counteract the strength of the [Coptic] Church.”

In reality, all that ever burns are Coptic churches at the hands of Muslim mobs and terrorists—as when nearly 70 churches were attacked and many destroyed following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi.  Moreover, it is Muslims who smuggle and stockpile weapons, including in mosques, in order to fuel their separatist jihads to secede from “infidel” powers (e.g., Chechneyan or Mindanao jihadi separatist attempts against Russia and the Philippines respectively; during the Muslim Brotherhood retaliation against the Sisi government, vast stores of weapons were regularly discovered in mosques).

As Coptic activist Mounir Bishai once put it: “Suddenly we [Copts] have shifted from complaints to self-defense, from demanding [our] rights to [trying to] convince the public that we are not depriving others of their rights… now we are being accused of amassing weapons… How have we suddenly turned from persecuted into persecutors, from the weak [party] into the strong and tyrannical [one], from the attacked [party] into the infamous attackers, and from the poor [party] into the rich exploiters? How did these lies become widespread, without us gaining any ground or improving our situation one whit?”

Even in the field of theology, Muslims are apt to project Islam’s notions of jihad and “martyrdom,” fighting to the death for Islam, onto Christian theology.  For example, in the midst of the accusation that the Copts are stockpiling weapons to wage war on Muslims, the Al Azhar Scholars Front, which consists of Al Azhar alumni, once declared: “Christianity…is constantly defining its overt and covert policy of eliminating all its rivals or degrading [the followers of other religions] and depriving them of every reason to live so that they will be forced to convert to Christianity.”

In fact, this is precisely what Islam does: through jihad, “eliminate all its rivals,” or, through the institution of dhimmitude, “degrade [the followers of other religions] and deprive them of every reason to live so that they will be forced to convert to” Islam. This is both historically and doctrinally demonstrable.

Similarly, when Bishop Bishoy declared that Egypt’s Christians are reaching the point of martyrdom due to the increase in their persecution, this, too, was thoroughly “Islamicized” as a declaration of “war-to-the-death,” including by al-Awwa, who, during his aforementioned Al Jazeera rant, asserted that “Father Bishoy declared that they would reach the point of martyrdom, which can only mean war. He said, ‘If you talk about our churches, we will reach the point of martyrdom.’ This means war!”

Of course, the notion that a martyr is someone who wages and dies in jihad, or “holy war,” is intrinsic to Islam (e.g., Koran 9:111). Even the authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary translates shahid (“martyr”) as “one killed in battle with infidels.” On the other hand, Christian martyrdom has always meant being persecuted and killed for refusing to recant Christianity—and this is precisely the definition that has for centuries applied to Egypt’s Christians, the definition that Bishop Bishoy clearly meant (see this article for more on the important differences between Christian and Muslim notions of martyrdom).

To recap:

  • Muslims regularly abduct, abuse, brainwash, and compel Christian girls to convert—and now Christians are accused of doing the exact same thing;
  • Muslims regularly smuggle and stockpile weapons, including in their mosques—and now Christians are accused of doing the exact same thing;
  • Muslims are constantly either trying to break away or conquer infidel nations—and now Egypt’s Christians are accused of doing the exact same thing;
  • Muslims seek to eliminate or subjugate the infidel according to the doctrine of jihad and dhimmitude—and now Christians are portrayed as seeking the exact same thing;
  • Islamic violence regularly pops up on Fridays, and now Christians (or merely Westerners) are accused of targeting Islam on Sundays.
  • Islamic martyrdom means killing others and oneself while waging jihad to empower Islam—and now Christian martyrdom, which has always meant accepting death rather than the renunciation of faith, is defined as the exact same thing.

This lengthy excursion into Islamic projections onto Christians using Egypt as a paradigm serves another purpose: it suggests that, if civilizational projection so pervades the Muslim world, despite reality, could that also be why the people of the West—most of whom either profess Christianity or are at least influenced by its ethics and mores—cannot accept the realities of Islam: because they too project the ideals of their religious heritage—one that preaches love, tolerance, and forgiveness for enemies—onto Muslims and Islam?

Political Islam Is Today’s Anti-American ‘Long March Through The Institutions’

The Federalist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, March 27, 2017:

The following is an excerpt of the Hoover Institution publication “The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It,” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. You may read the full report here. ​ This excerpt was originally published in Defining Ideas. ​Copyright © 2017 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University.

It is refreshing and heartening that President Trump acknowledges the need for an ideological campaign against “radical Islam.” This deserves to be called a paradigm shift.

President Bush often referred to a “war on terror,” but terror is a tactic that can be used for a variety of ideological objectives. President Obama stated that he was opposed to “violent extremism” and even organized an international summit around this subject. Yet at times he made it seem as if he worried more about “Islamophobia” than about radical Islam.

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, Obama declared: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” In what follows, however, I shall refer to “political Islam” rather than radical Islam.

Political Islam is not just a religion as most Western citizens recognize the term “religion,” a faith; it is also a political ideology, a legal order, and in many ways also a military doctrine associated with the campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad. Political Islam rejects any kind of distinction between religion and politics, mosque and state. Political Islam even rejects the modern state in favor of a caliphate. My central argument is that political Islam implies a constitutional order fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution and with the “constitution of liberty” that is the foundation of the American way of life.

Yes, Islamists Have Everything to Do with Islam

There is no point in denying that political Islam as an ideology has its foundation in Islamic doctrine. However, “Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Muslims” are distinct concepts. Not all Muslims are Islamists, let alone violent, but all Islamists—including those who use violence—are Muslims. I believe the religion of Islam itself is indeed capable of reformation, if only to distinguish it more clearly from the political ideology of Islamism. But that task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims.

Insisting that radical Islamists have “nothing to do with Islam” has led U.S. policy makers to commit numerous strategic errors since 9/11. One is to distinguish between a “tiny” group of extremists and an “overwhelming” majority of “moderate” Muslims. I prefer to differentiate among Medina Muslims, who embrace the militant political ideology adopted by Muhammad in Medina; Mecca Muslims, who prefer the religion originally promoted by Muhammad in Mecca; and reformers, who are open to some kind of Muslim Reformation.

These distinctions have their origins in history. The formative period of Islam can be divided roughly into two phases: the spiritual phase, associated with Mecca, and the political phase that followed Muhammad’s move to Medina. There is a substantial difference between Qur’anic verses revealed in Mecca (largely spiritual in nature) and Qur’anic verses revealed in Medina (more political and even militaristic). There is also a difference in the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad: in Mecca, he was a spiritual preacher, but in Medina he became a political and military figure.

It cannot be said often enough that the United States is not at war with Islam or with Muslims. It is, however, bound to resist the political aspirations of Medina Muslims where those pose a direct threat to our civil and political liberties. It is also bound to ensure that Mecca Muslims and reforming Muslims enjoy the same protections as members of other religious communities who accept the fundamental principles of a free society. That includes protection from the tactics of intimidation that are so central to the ideology and practice of political Islam.

Background on Today’s State of Affairs

The conflict between the United States and political Islam in modern times dates back to at least 1979, when the U.S. embassy in Tehran was seized by Islamic revolutionaries and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. In the decades that followed, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania reminded Americans of the threat posed by political Islam.

But it was not until the 9/11 attacks that political Islam as an ideology attracted sustained public attention. The September 11, 2001, attacks were inspired by a political ideology that has its foundation in Islam, specifically its formative period in Medina.

Since 9/11, at least $1.7 trillion has been spent on combat and reconstruction costs in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The total budgetary cost of the wars and homeland security from 2001 through 2016 is more than $3.6 trillion. Yet in spite of the sacrifices of more than 5,000 armed service personnel who have lost their lives since 9/11 and the tens of thousands of American soldiers who have been wounded, today political Islam is on the rise around the world.

Violence is the most obvious—but not the only—manifestation of this trend. Jihadist groups have proliferated all over the Middle East and North Africa, especially where states are weak and civil wars rage (Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Syria, not forgetting northern Nigeria). Islam-inspired terrorists also have a global reach. France is in a permanent state of emergency, while the United States has been profoundly shaken by terror attacks in Boston (the Marathon bombers); Fort Hood, Texas; San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and Ohio State University, to name but a few.

Of the last 16 years, the worst year for terrorism was 2014, with 93 countries experiencing attacks and 32,765 people killed. The second worst was 2015, with 29,376 deaths. Last year, four radical Islamic groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths from terrorism: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. Although the Muslim world itself bears the heaviest burden of jihadist violence, the West is increasingly under attack.

How large is the jihadist movement in the world? In Pakistan alone, where the population is almost entirely Muslim, 13 percent of Muslims surveyed—more than 20 million people—said that bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies.

Disturbingly, the number of Western-born Muslim jihadists is sharply increasing. The United Nations estimated in November 2014 that some 15,000 foreign fighters from at least 80 nations have traveled to Syria to join the radical jihadists. Roughly a quarter of them come from Western Europe.

Yet the advance of political Islam manifests itself not only in acts of violence. Even as billions are spent on military intervention and drone strikes, the ideological infrastructure of political Islam in the United States continues to grow because officials are concerned only with criminal conspiracies to commit acts of violence, not with the ideology that inspires such acts.

According to one estimate, 10−15 percent of the world’s Muslims are Islamists. Out of well more than 1.6 billion, or 23 percent of the globe’s population, that implies more than 160 million individuals. Based on survey data on attitudes toward sharia in Muslim countries, total support for Islamist activities in the world is likely significantly higher than that estimate.

What Scholarship on Political Islam Says

There are two sets of academic literature aimed at helping policy makers grapple with the threat of radical Islam. In the first set, Islamic religious ideas form a marginal factor at best. Authors such as John Esposito, Marc Sageman, Hatem Bazian, and Karen Armstrong argue that a combination of variables such as poverty and corrupt political governance lies at the root of Islamic violence. They urge the U.S. government and its allies to tackle these “root causes.”

For these authors, devoting attention to religious motives is at best irrelevant, and at worst a harmful distraction. They are not concerned about political Islam as an ideology, only about individual acts of violence committed in its name.

A second set of scholars—which is growing in importance—sees a radical ideology derived from Islamic theology, principles, and concepts as the driving force of our current predicament. Scholars such as Michael Cook, Daniel Pipes, Jeffrey Bale, and David Cook, and authors such as Paul Berman and Graeme Wood, acknowledge that factors such as poverty and bad governance are relevant, but argue that U.S. policy makers should take seriously the religious ideology that underlies Islamist violence.

The failed polices since 9/11 (and even before) in the struggle against radical Islam were built on false premises derived from the first set of literature, which absolves Islam wholly of the atrocities that it inspires. As the failure of American strategy since 2001 has become increasingly clear, however, the view has gained ground that the ideology underlying Islamist violence must be tackled if our efforts are to be successful.

This view is not only held by a few Western scholars. All over the world, there are now Muslims who are engaged in a long-overdue process of reassessing Islamic thought, scripture, and laws with a view to reforming them. These Muslim reformers can be found in positions of leadership in some governments, in universities, in the press, and elsewhere. They are our natural allies. An important part of our future policies in the war on Islamic extremism should be to encourage and empower them.

It’s Time to Understand Dawa

From 9/11 until now, the dominant Western response to political Islam has been to focus only on “terror” and “violent extremism.” This approach has failed. In focusing only on acts of violence, we have ignored the ideology that justifies, promotes, celebrates, and encourages those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam (or “Islamism”) as an ideology and against those who spread that ideology, we have made a grave error.

If Islamism is the ideology, then dawa encompasses all the methods by which it is spread. The term “dawa” refers to activities carried out by Islamists to win adherents and enlist them in a campaign to impose sharia law on all societies. Dawa is not the Islamic equivalent of religious proselytizing, although it is often disguised as such by blending humanitarian activities with subversive political activities.

Dawa as practiced by Islamists employs a wide range of mechanisms to advance the goal of imposing Islamic law (sharia) on society. This includes proselytization, but extends beyond that. In Western countries, dawa aims both to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and to bring about more extreme views among existing Muslims. The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with strict sharia. Islamists rely on both violent and nonviolent means to achieve their objectives.

Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within, the use of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what Gleichschaltung  (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the National Socialists.

There are of course differences. The biggest difference is that dawa is rooted in the Islamic practice of attempting to convert non-Muslims to accept the message of Islam. As it is an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.

Worse, Islamist groups have enjoyed not just protection but at times official sponsorship from government agencies duped into regarding them as representatives of “moderate Muslims” simply because they do not engage in violence. Islamist groups that have been treated in this way include:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT)
The Islamic Society of Boston

For organizations engaging in dawa, the main elements of the strategy are:

  • to have well-organized Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood claim to speak on behalf of all Muslims, while marginalizing Muslim reformers and dissidents.
  • to take ownership of immigration trends to encourage the “Islamization” of Western societies by invoking hijra, the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Medina.
  • to reduce women to the status of reproductive machines for the purpose of demographic transformation.
  • to take advantage of the focus on “inclusion” by progressive political parties in democratic societies, then to force these parties to accept Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.
  • to take advantage of self-consciously progressive movements, effectively co-opting them.
  • to increase Islamists’ hold over the educational system, including some charter schools, “faith” schools, and home schooling.

Typically, Islamists study target societies to identify points of vulnerability. In the United States, Islamists focus on vulnerable African-American men within prison populations, as well as Hispanic and Native American communities. Recent targets of Islamist infiltration include the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter.

Agents of dawa also systematically lobby private-sector organizations, governments, and international bodies:

  • They seek to pressure governments to accede to Islamist demands on the grounds of freedom of religion or status as a religious minority.
  • They urge the United Nations and the European Council to combat “Islamophobia” by devising what amounts to censorship guidelines for politicians and journalists and by punishing those who dissent.
  • They press institutions such as the Associated Press to distort the language they use to suit Islamist objectives.
  • They wage sustained campaigns to discredit critics of radical Islam.

The Sinews of Dawa

The global infrastructure of dawa is well funded, persistent, and resilient. From 1973 through 2002, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia spent an estimated $87 billion to promote dawa efforts abroad. Josh Martin estimates that, since the early 1970s, Middle Eastern charities have distributed $110 billion, $40 billion of which found its way to sub-Saharan Africa and contributed heavily to Islamist ideological indoctrination there.

Nongovernmental organizations in Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia continue to distribute large sums overseas to finance ideological indoctrination and activities. Powerful foundations such as the Qatar Foundation continue to grant financial support and legitimacy to radical Islamic ideology around the world.

Many Islamic charitable foundations use zakat (mandatory charity) funds to mix humanitarian outreach with ideological indoctrination, laying the ground for future intolerance, misogyny, and jihad, even if no violence is used in the short term. When informal funding mechanisms are included, the zakat funds available could reach “hundreds of billions of dollars” worldwide each year.

The Key Problem Is Using Our Freedoms to End Them

Let it be said explicitly: The Islamists’ program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution, religious tolerance, the equality of men and women, the tolerance of different sexual orientations, and other fundamental human rights.

The biggest challenge the United States faces in combating political Islam, however, is the extent to which agents of dawa can exploit the constitutional and legal protections that guarantee American citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech—freedoms that would of course be swept away if the Islamists achieved their goals.

In 2010, one senior American intelligence analyst summed up our predicament: “In the US there are First Amendment issues we’re cognizant of. It’s not a crime to radicalize, only when it turns to violence . . . America is thus vulnerable to a threat that is not only diversifying, but arguably intensifying.”

To give just one example: A cleric in Maryland, Imam Suleiman Bengharsa, has openly endorsed the Islamic State, posted gruesome videos, and praised terrorist attacks overseas. As of February 2017, however, he remains a free man and U.S. authorities insist nothing can be done against him because he has not yet plotted to commit a specific act of violence. One expert has said that Imam Bengharsa “can take his supporters right up to the line. It’s like making a cake and not putting in the final ingredient. It’s winks and nods all the way.” This is what we are up against.

The global constitution of political Islam is formidable. The Muslim Brotherhood, with its numerous American affiliates, is an important component, but not the only one. Even if one were able to eliminate the Brotherhood overnight, the ideological infrastructure of dawa would remain powerful. The network of radical Islamist preachers, “charities,” and organizations that perpetuate political Islam is already well established inside and outside the United States.

To resist the insidious advance of political Islam, we need to develop a strategy to counter not only those who use violence to advance their politico-religious objectives—the jihadists—but also the great and complex ideological infrastructure known as dawa, just as we countered both the Red Army and the ideology of communism in the Cold War. Focusing only on “terror” as a tactic is insufficient. We ignore at our peril the ideological infrastructure that supports political Islam in both its violent and its nonviolent forms.

It is not just that jihad is an extension of dawa; according to some observers, it is dawa by other means. Put differently, nonviolent and violent Islamists differ only on tactics; they share the same goal, which is to establish an unfree society ruled by strict sharia law. Institutionally, nonviolent Islamists have benefited from terror attacks committed by jihadists because such attacks make nonviolent Islamists appear moderate in the eyes of Western governments, even when their goals and values are not. This is known as the “positive radical flank effect. Ian Johnson, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, observed:

Al Qaeda was the best thing to happen to these [Islamist] groups. Nowadays, our bar is so low that if groups aren’t Al Qaeda, we’re happy. If they’re not overtly supporting terrorism, we think they’re okay. We don’t stop to think where the terrorism comes from, where the fish swim.

Dawa must therefore be countered as much as jihad.

Yet, as things stand, dawa cannot be countered. Its agents hide behind constitutional protections they would dismantle unhesitatingly were they in power. In 2017, Congress must therefore give the president the tools he needs to dismantle the infrastructure of dawa in the United States and to counter the spread of political Islam at home and abroad.

While recognizing that our freedoms are sacrosanct, we must also remember the wise words of Karl Popper, who memorably identified what he called “the paradox of tolerance,” namely that “unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance.”

If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.

But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols.

We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

Ayaan is a fellow at The Harvard Kennedy School, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
***
This was a very good debate that took place in 2010. It is worth watching again if you have time:

How James Mattis As Defense Secretary Could Bust Our Deathly Political Correctness About Islam

Photo Wikimedia Commons

Photo Wikimedia Commons

The Federalist, by M. G. Oprea, November 30, 2016:

Is political Islam in America’s best interests? This question should be central to our strategy of fighting ISIS and Islamist terrorism in general. Yet it’s one that many political leaders would rather not answer, because of our politically correct climate. But since Trump’s transition team announced last week that it’s considering retired Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense, this reluctance might fade.

In a speech given at the Heritage Foundation last year, Mattis spoke about America’s position vis à vis political Islam. Rather than equivocating on the matter in order to avoid saying something uncomfortable or politically incorrect, Mattis simply pointed out that America needs to make a decision about its stance toward this ideology.

Recall that political Islam, or Islamism, is a movement within Islam: it works toward the increasing implementation of Islamic law and values in all areas of life—usually via state control—in order to make Islam a dominant force in the world.

Why We Don’t Talk About Islamism

Mattis’ suggestion—which sounds like a basic element of defense strategy—has been surprisingly neglected in the years since 9/11. The U.S. tends to deal with Islamism on a case-by-case basis. And so long as any particular group or political entity doesn’t have a direct and obvious link to terrorism, we tend to give them a pass. Even then, this is sometimes too high of a bar, as is the case with the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups.

No one wants to delve into the question of Islamism because it has become a politically charged issue, one that often leads to accusations of bigotry and Islamaphobia. As Islam is increasingly treated as a protected class by America’s progressive Left, any scrutiny of any faction within Islam is considered off limits. This is done in the name of tolerance, but is in fact a highly intolerant position. But it’s successfully scared off politicians and military personnel, who tend to make vague and noncommittal statements on the topic.

This makes Mattis’ statements all the more notable. He’s simply urging the U.S. to make a decision. And what’s more, he’s arguing that this decision ought to be based on what we believe is in our best interest:

“Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States?…If we won’t even ask the question then how do we even get to the point of recognizing which is our side in the fight? And if we don’t take our own side in this fight we’re leaving others adrift.”

What Is In The Country’s Best Interests?

This is a surprisingly unpopular question to ask in general, and specifically when it comes to Islam. The concept itself—asking what is in America’s best interest—has largely been ignored as of late. Under Obama, America has pursued a policy of “leading from behind,” and more or less disregarding America’s interests abroad. The Obama administration has done this based on the notion, central to the progressive narrative of history, that America is a de facto colonialist power, whose influence in the world is malign and ought to recede of our own volition.

But if the U.S. can’t identify what is in its best interests, or refuses to pursue those interests out of an oversized sense of political correctness, there’s no way to forge a comprehensive global defense strategy. As Mattis points out, if we won’t even talk about political Islam with a critical eye, how can we figure out which side we’re on, and make decisions from that point? Neglecting the question not only hurts our interests—it leaves our allies unsure of where we stand and how we will proceed when Islamist movements gain traction in their countries.

Mattis also points out that ISIS is counting on Americans not having a debate on whether political Islam is good for America. If we don’t examine this question, we can’t create a cohesive strategy, and our fight against ISIS’s self-proclaimed Caliphate (or other groups like them) will ultimately fail.

This is the opposite of what some Islamist apologists and those on the left insist, which is that ISIS wants us to talk about the connections between Islam and violence, in order to make Muslims feel like the West is at war with their entire religion. Then, so the thinking goes, Muslims will turn on the West.

Mattis Would Change Our Reputation

As it is, ISIS has largely won this battle. Any serious strategic discussion about the relationship between political Islam and American national interests has been deemed illegitimate and offensive by the political Left. See, for example, the scrubbing of terms related to Islam from Department of Homeland Security training materials.

Mattis’ appointment as Defense Secretary would be a marked change not only from the Obama administration, but also from the Bush years. Both administrations were reluctant to substantively engage in a debate on the merits or threats of political Islam.

Since giving this speech at Heritage, ISIS has experienced significant territorial losses. But the question Mattis raises has not lost its relevance. It will be central to many of the Trump administration’s foreign policy challenges. Political Islam remains, and will remain, a problem for the West both in terms of domestic security and global strategy. Whether it’s the Muslim Brotherhood’s activities in the U.S., or political Islam in a post-Arab Spring Middle East, the U.S. needs to know where it stands on this issue.

Mattis concludes that political Islam is not, in the end, good for America. But he acknowledges that what’s most important is that we have a discussion about it—so that we can develop a broader strategy for how to deal with Islamism in the world. Without a cohesive strategy, there is little hope of checking the destructive influences of political Islam both at home and abroad.

M. G. Oprea is a writer based in Austin, Texas. She holds a PhD in French linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Political Islam

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Center for Security Policy, November 14, 2016:

DR. BILL WARNER, Founder and Director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam:

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • Teaching the average person about Islam
  • The trilogy of Islamic doctrine
  • Why the doctrine is purposely difficult to understand

(PART TWO): Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • What political Islam deems a “good” Muslim
  • The anti-Constitutional nature of Sharia

(PART THREE): Podcast : Play in new window | Download

  • Civilization war as established by Muhammad
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s curtailment of Freedom of Speech

(PART FOUR): Podcast : Play in new window | Download

  • Why the Muslim Brotherhood is more dangerous than violent jihadists
  • How Donald Trump can avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessors
  • Declaration on Cairo Human Rights in Islam

Of Course There Should Be an Ideological Test in Immigration

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National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Aug. 20, 2016:

Imagine an American government official, interviewing an alien seeking admission to our country from, say, Syria:

U.S. official: “Will you support the United States Constitution?”

Syrian alien: “Well, sure, except that I believe the government should be overseen by a caliph, who must be Muslim and male, and who must rule in accordance with Islamic law, which no man-made law may contradict. None of this ‘We the People’ stuff; Allah is the sovereign. Non-Muslims should not be required to convert to Islam, of course, but they must submit to the authority of Islamic law — which requires them to live in the second-class status of dhimmitude and to pay a poll tax for that privilege.”

“I also believe women must be subservient to men, and that men are permitted to beat their wives if they are disobedient — especially if they refuse sex, in which they must engage on demand. There is no such thing as marital rape, and proving non-marital rape requires testimony from four male witnesses. Outside the home, a woman should cover herself in drab from head to toe. A woman’s testimony in court should be worth only half of a man’s, and her inheritance rights similarly discounted. Men should be able to marry up to four women — women, however, are limited to marrying one man.”

“Oh, and Muslims who renounce Islam should be put to death . . . as should homosexuals . . . and blasphemers . . . and adulterers — at least the ones we don’t let off with a mere scourging. The penalty for theft should be amputation of the right hand (for highway robbery, the left foot is also amputated); and for drinking alcohol, the offender is to be scourged with 40 stripes.”

“There are a few other odds and ends — you know, jihad and whatnot. But other than that, will I support the Constitution? Sure thing.”

U.S. official: “Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on a second. That’s not supporting the Constitution. That would be destroying the Constitution.”

Syrian alien: “Yeah, maybe so. But it’s my religion.”

U.S. official: “Oh, your religion. Why didn’t you say so? I thought you were spouting some anti-American political ideology. But as long as you say it’s your religion, no problem. C’mon in!”

This conversation is impossible to imagine because . . . it would be honest. In the decades-long onslaught of radical Islam against the United States, honesty went out with the benighted notions that we should “know thine enemy” and, God forbid, train our national-security agents in that enemy’s ideology, methods, and objectives.

In our alternative universe, you are not supposed to remember that there is an American constitutional framework of liberty, popular sovereignty, and equality before the law.

You are not supposed to realize that aliens are expected to exhibit fidelity to this constitutional framework as a precondition to joining our society.

You are not supposed to know that there is an Islamic law, sharia, that has far more to do with governance, economics, warfare, civil rights, domestic relations, criminal prosecution, and fashion than it does with spiritual life.

And you are absolutely not supposed to grasp that sharia is antithetical to the Constitution, to the very foundational American principle that the people may make law for themselves, live as they see fit, and chart their own destiny.

You are not supposed to connect the dots and ask, “Well, how is it conceivable that any sharia-adherent alien could faithfully pledge allegiance to our Constitution?”

So, instead, we shrug our shoulders, mumble something about “freedom of religion,” and bury our heads back in the sand — as if the structure of government and the decision of which limb to smite for which larceny had anything to do with religion in a free society that rejects the establishment of any state religion and separates spiritual from political life.

Sharia is not religion. Sharia is a totalitarian societal structure and legal corpus that anti-American radicals seek to impose. Yes, their motivation for doing so is their interpretation of their religion — the fundamentalist, literalist construction of Islam. But that does not make sharia itself a matter of “religion” in the Western sense, even if vast numbers of Arab Muslims — for whom there is no cognizable separation of mosque and state — say otherwise. If Karl Marx had said, “The workers must control the means of production because God says so,” that would not have transmogrified the tyranny of Communism into the “freedom of religion.”

Two things flow from this.

The first involves immigration. As we’ve previously demonstrated, there is no constitutional prohibition against considering religion in deciding which aliens to allow into the United States — immigration is a privilege, not a right; and our Constitution is security for Americans, not a weapon for aliens to use against Americans.

Nevertheless, even if there were a constitutional bar against “religious tests,” sharia is not religion. There are no constitutional constraints against excluding aliens on grounds of anti-American political ideology. Excluding anti-Americans from America is common sense and was regarded as such for much of our history. In a time of radical Islamic threat to our national security, Donald Trump is right to propose that aliens from sharia-supremacist areas be carefully vetted for adherence to anti-constitutional principles.

Leftists — those notorious disciples of the Framers — claim this is unconstitutional. When shown it is not, they claim that it is against our “tradition” — being, you know, big fans of American tradition. When shown that this is not the case either, when shown that our history supports ideological exclusion of anti-Americans, leftists are down to claiming, “It is not who we are” — by which they always mean it is not who they are, and who they would force the rest of us to be.

A short lesson in how we got to be who “we” are. In the last decades of the Cold War, it became progressive dogma that the Soviet Union was forever, that it was an empire we could do business with, arrive at a modus vivendi with. The real evil, the Left decided, were the anti-Communists — it was their provocations against the Soviets, not the Soviets themselves, that could trigger Armageddon. Therefore, they reckoned, we needed to do away with all this overheated nonsense about how Communists seek the violent overthrow of the United States. That, to the Left, was just a bunch of ideological mumbo-jumbo that nobody ever really took seriously (even if Bill Ayers hadn’t gotten the memo).

One major consequence of this conventional wisdom was the campaign waged by leading Democrats to eliminate radical ideology as a basis for excluding aliens. They championed laws decreeing that “mere” radical ideology, in the absence of some provable connection to violent action, should not bar radicals from entering our country. Thus, the “principle” that America must not vet would-be immigrants for anti-Americanism is not derived from the U.S. Constitution, from our traditions, or from who “we” supposedly are. It stems from the Left’s conviction that Communist ideology was not a real threat to America.

Then, about 14 months after the Soviet Union collapsed, jihadists bombed the World Trade Center. They have been attacking us ever since. See, however you come out on the question of whether Communists really posed a violent threat to our national security, there cannot be such a question with respect to radical Islam. The front line of that movement is the mass murderers, not the professors. With radical Islam, the threat of violence is not an abstract academic proposition. It is our reality.

What’s more, we know from hard experience, and from observing Europe’s new reality, that the threat is not just the jihadists. Equally important are the sharia-supremacist ideologues who seek to forge autonomous enclaves where sharia becomes the de facto law, and where jihadist radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, and training have safe haven. Our legitimate worries are not limited to the trained jihadist who infiltrates today; they include the sharia supremacist who will get his hooks into young Muslims and turn them into the trained jihadists of tomorrow.

The second thing to consider is Islam. As Robert R. Reilly unfolded in his essential book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, there is an Islamic tradition of rational inquiry, deeply influenced by Greek philosophy, that has been overwhelmed for nearly a millennium by the fundamentalist tradition. The rationalists may be out-muscled, but they are not dormant. They are Muslims who embrace Western culture, reject the imposition of antiquated sharia as a system of law and governance, and challenge the premises and the aggression of the fundamentalists. They are Muslims who, I can attest, help us infiltrate terror cells and prevent attacks. They are Muslims who fight in our armed forces, work in our intelligence services, serve in our police departments, and thrive in our economy.

We do not have to exaggerate their numbers to recognize that these Muslims exist and that they are our allies — that they are part of us. To appreciate their value and their contributions to our society, we do not need to pretend that they typify Islam as it is lived in Syria, Saudi Arabia, or the no-go zones of Paris.

If we want to win the crucial ideological component of radical Islam’s war against us, we should be empowering these pro-Western Muslims rather than inviting the sharia-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood into our policy-making councils. Like protecting our nation, empowering pro-Western Muslims requires an immigration system that welcomes those who will support our Constitution, and turns away those who would sweep it aside.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

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