What’s Wrong with These Four Approaches to “Deprogramming” Jihad?

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You have to look past what you wish were true.

CounterJihad, Aug. 26 2016:

Let’s say that you wanted to reach the people who carry out murder in the name of jihad, and persuade them not to kill anyone.  How would you do it?  There are four approaches that governments are trying today, and none of them work.

The first approach is to identify likely candidates for radicalization while they are young, and talk them out of it using government propaganda.  The FBI’s “Don’t Be A Puppet” campaign is an example of this.  It aims at young people using an online video game that rewards them for solving problems associated with recognizing attempts to radicalize them.  The hope is to teach them to recognize that they are being manipulated by radical religious figures so that these young people will turn away from those messages.

Because the FBI is a counterintelligence agency using government propaganda, however, it has a serious credibility problem with young people — especially those in the community that the FBI is targeting.  Credibility is the currency in propaganda operations, just as it is in any other attempt to lead or influence or persuade.  If you’re a young Muslim, you can see that the FBI doesn’t trust you, is thinking a lot about you, and is trying to manipulate you.  Secretive government agencies — of the US or any other government — are operating out of a serious deficit compared with any religious leader that the community takes to have a real relationship with God.  While these propaganda efforts are not necessarily a complete waste of time and money, as they might persuade a few who are inclined to view the government positively, the people you really want to reach are likely to take this attempt to manipulate them as further evidence that you don’t trust them — and, therefore, that they shouldn’t trust you either.

The second approach treats jihad not as a crime or an act of war, but as a psychological problem.  There are significant moral and legal problems for forcing people into psychological programs designed to alter their religion.  An even bigger problem, though, is that there’s very little evidence that such psychological approaches even work.  Thus, in addition to being government-backed violations of the basic human right to freedom of religion, it’s likely that the approach will only harden opposition among Muslims to the government.  Indeed, there’s a reasonable argument that a government that used these approaches to force your children to change their beliefs would really be creating an actual moral justification for violence.

What about an approach by leaders of factions of Islam to persuade the young?  Egypt’s Al Azhar University is attempting that right now.

In a speech to Muslims worldwide and the West, Grand Imam of al-Azhar Ahmed el-Tayeb had renounced all radical takfiri-inspired actions, saying that such deeds are in no way related to the teachings of Islam’s fundamental Sunni sect….  The top Muslim scholar then confirmed that the sole salvation and solution for such an abomination is the true interpretation and abiding by the true Sunnah teachings of prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and companions.

Allowing that a rejection of “all takfiri-inspired actions” would represent a real improvement, this approach does nothing to solve the problem of jihad against non-Muslims.  Takfiri violence is about declaring other Muslims not to be real Muslims, and thus to be subject to violence as apostates.  The attacks on 9/11, and in places like San Bernardino, Orlando, and Paris, are attacks of jihad against non-Muslims.  The attempt to spread Islam through coercion is a huge part of the problem, and yet in the traditions of Islamic law endorsed by generations of scholars, that is more plausibly a duty than an affront.  A full scale reform of Islam must occur to change that, one that sets aside all of its existing factions for a new way.

Finally, what about divide and conquer?  The Russian government appears to be approaching the problem in this way.  They are backing Iran and Assad against Sunni groups in a manner designed to set various Islamic groups against one another.  There is also a propaganda campaign designed to push the idea that a kind of socialism designed to govern Islam was the real answer to violence.  This campaign paints the United States as the real enemy of Islam (and therefore not Russia), as the United States opposed socialist Islam and Russia supported it.

Divide and conquer does not reduce violence, however, it increases it.  The hope is that it will become manageable not because people stop fighting, but because they expend most of their energy fighting one another.  In terms of the number of people convinced that violent jihad must govern their lives, however, that number will greatly increase if we follow such a strategy.

Ultimately none of these answers work, though in the third answer we at least get a glimpse of a solution that might.  Pushing a real reform of Islam, one that sets aside all existing categories and all traditional schools of thought, at least has the potential for putting an end to the violence.  So far, however, that approach is the purview of only a tiny minority of Muslims.  No government, Islamic nor Western, has endorsed the program.

Islamic Jihad’s Most Effective Weapons

(Artwork by Shutterstock.com.)

(Artwork by Shutterstock.com.)


PJ MEDIA, BY DAVID SOLWAY, AUGUST 24, 2016:

Recently I published a pair of articles proposing in the first a series of severe legislative measures to curtail, if not eliminate, the carnage of jihad inflicted upon innocent people in all walks of life, and suggesting in the second that Islam, unlike Christianity, Judaism, and other faiths, should not be entitled to the protection of the First Amendment. In the sequel, I received a couple of messages accusing me of promoting a “final solution.” One from a former colleague read: Bravo. Your final solution is so simple and elegant. Another from a friend read, in part: Implicit in all your articles is that Islam…should or be made to disappear. The case against Islam taken to its extreme begins to sound very close to a “final solution.” Do we want or should we want to go there? 

My former colleague appears never to have read the Islamic scriptures and ancillary texts and obviously has little knowledge of Islamic history. My friend is considerably more erudite but seems, nonetheless, to believe that direct and aggressive confrontation is not the proper route to take. To imply that I, a Jew, am advocating a “final solution,” an Endlösung, is at the very least rather tactless. It is also, as I hope to show, the height of folly. What I said in my articles is that the terror apparatus needs to be dismantled without delay or equivocation, and that we have to go to the source of the violence, Islam itself. I was not advocating killing anyone, or rounding Muslims up in cattle cars and shipping them off to concentration camps, or burning  ghettoes and no-go zones to the ground.

I said in particular that terror mosques have to be investigated and if necessary shut down (military-grade weapons have been found in a German mosque, but jihadist-inspired sermons are also heavy weapons), that no-go zones have to be disarmed and opened to safe public dwelling, that Sharia, a draconian atavism incompatible with our constitutions, should be outlawed, that unscreened immigration simply has to stop, and that the status of Islam as a “religion” entitled to the shelter of the First Amendment is a legitimate issue to be debated—at least until the Koran, Hadith, Sira, schools of jurisprudence, etc. are sanitized, if ever.

My friend replied to a stern rebuke in partial walkback fashion. Of course, I’m not suggesting that you’re advocating an actual “final solution,” that’s absurd…Explicit in your many articles is that any decent, self-respecting, tolerant Muslim should…defect from Islam (reject the Koran, for all the reasons you have been laying out for years). Their example, taken to the extreme, would have Islam disappear gently into the night, which would be like a “final solution.” That’s all I’m saying. He continued: What your latest article doesn’t allow re. religious protection is a reformation within Islam, which I believe has already begun.

The question is: how long are we willing to wait for this putative reformation to bear fruit? I see a few “moderates” here and there trying to effect change, but they are having little appreciable impact, and most still adhere to the adulation of Mohammed, turn a blind eye to the dictates of their faith, or pretend the offending passages, with which the scriptures and commentaries are replete, mean something other than what they explicitly say.

A substantial and rooted reformation of Islam is the pipe dream of the cowed and complaisant who cannot face the indigestible fact that Islam is at war with us, has been at war with the Judeo-Christian West (and other civilizations) for fourteen hundred years, and shows no sign of relenting. I’d also suggest—assuming reform were conceivable—that my proposals, if taken seriously, might accelerate the reform my correspondent is piously wishing for. With terror mosques closed and fundamentalist Islam in official disgrace, true reformers might gather momentum. But this is only a thought-experiment.

The exception to the rule of Islamic hegemony, according to Supra Zaida Peery, executive director of Muslim World Today, appears to be Azerbaijan, with its history, at least since independence from the Soviet bloc in 1991, of “egalitarianism, democracy, and rule of law.” Such advancements are possible only where the Islamic scriptures are studiously disregarded, which reinforces the argument that canonical Islam is anti-freedom and an ever-present danger.

Ms. Peery admits that traditional Islam, honor codes and all, is making a comeback. Azerbaijan also enjoys strong relations with Erdogan’s Turkey, a political alliance that provokes a degree of skepticism respecting Ms. Peery’s claims. Everything considered, I would agree with Danusha Goska’s critical review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’sHeretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now—a book which claims that Islam is susceptible, however tardily, to modernization. Goska writes: “We must confront jihad for what it is: a timeless and universal threat that requires an equally timeless and universal response.”

I have nothing against Muslims practicing their faith in their homes, as long as they don’t take its injunctions to rape, enslave, subjugate and murder in the name of Allah literally, and I have nothing against imams sermonizing from an extensively expurgated Koran—though their temples should have no greater legal status than, say, a Masonic clubhouse.

Meanwhile we line up at airports, remove our shoes, wait interminably to be processed, and expect to be groped—followed by the apprehension, shared by many, that the flight we have boarded may disappear off the radar. Meanwhile theFrench police are patrolling the beaches lest some “scantily clad” woman or child is knifed by some offended Muslim, as happened not long ago, a Jewish man in Strasbourg is stabbed by an Allahu Akbarist, seven people including a six-year-old child are injured in a “fire and knife” attack on a Swiss train, and an American tourist is stabbed to death in London’s busy Russell Square by a Somalian. “He’s still here, he’s still here,” were the dying woman’s last words, and indeed he is.

Meanwhile entire cities go into lockdown and people are warned to stay indoors after another jihadist onslaught. Meanwhile Pew polls report that young, second-generation Muslims—those we thought were Westernized “moderates”—increasingly favor death for apostates and gays and harsh punishment for criticism of Islam. Meanwhile countries are being swarmed with military-age “refugees,” a troubling number of whom are estimated to be ISIS plants or sympathizers; German intelligence official Manfred Hauser warns that ISIS has infiltrated the migrant hordes and set up a command structure in the country. Patrick Poolereports that the first two weeks of August 2016 have seen five dozen incidents of Muslim-related domestic insurgency in Europe. (As I write, a Muslim convert armed with detonation devices has just been shot by the RCMP in an Ontario community.)

The very conduct of our lives has changed—it’s called the “new normal.” We now hear from the lips of French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that we will have to “learn to live with terrorism.” Is this OK? Are we prepared to accept the limitations upon our traditional freedoms and the ever-present threat of violence upon our persons as a customary aspect of daily life in the hope that one day in the indefinite future the “religion of peace” will become a religion of peace? As things stand, our enemies are laughing all the way to the future.

More to the point, the irony very few observers wish to acknowledge—and certainly not my interlocutors—is that it is no one and nothing but Islam that is pursuing a “final solution “—and not only for Jews.

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Saudi Arabia’s religious police stripped of authority to arrest Sharia violators

Saudi women journalists raise their hands to ask questions at a press conference held by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir at King Salman Regional Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Saudi women journalists raise their hands to ask questions at a press conference held by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir at King Salman Regional Air Base in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. (photo credit:REUTERS)

The Saudi  government issued new regulations for the religious police operating in the state Tuesday, taking away the organization’s authority to arrest and persecute citizens for not adhering to Sharia law in their daily lives.

The unprecedented Saudi move came as a result of growing local criticism of the police and the way it performs its role as the defender of Sharia law in the state.

According to a statement explaining the new regulations, the religious police is “an independent body, which has organizational relations with the prime minister.”

The government emphasized that the religious police should notify the police or the Anti-Drug Authority of drug use crimes, adding that “neither the members nor the heads of the religious police are allowed to arrest and persecute citizens for such crimes, or even to ask suspected people for their IDs. Only the police and the Anti-Drug Authority are allowed to take these measures.”

In light of previous violent incidents that involved religious police members who attacked citizens, the governmental statement also included a prohibition on people who were charged with criminal offenses from joining the religious police.

The Saudi move aroused contradictory responses on social media networks. While opponents of extremist Islam in the country hailed the government’s decision, stating that “it’s better late than never,” others initiated a social media campaign under the hashtag, “The people against abolishing the role of the religious police.”

The Saudi government’s controversial decision comes amid an ongoing conflict between liberal Saudis and Salafi Saudis over the religious character of the Kingdom. Salafis view the recent move as evidence that the government is tilting toward the latter camp.

Muslim Reporter Stops Newscast to Call Out Who’s Really Responsible for Terrorism…And It’s on Fire

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

IJ Review, by Mike Miller, April 9, 2016:

A Saudi Arabian newscaster interrupted her own program recently to strongly condemn radical Islam and acts of terrorism. Host Nadine Al-Budair criticized Muslim “hypocrites,” who claim terrorists “do not represent Islam or the Muslims.”

Al-Budair provided multiple examples, including: “People who spilled the blood walk at a dead man’s funeral, and cry.” She asked: Why do we shed our own conscience?

***

Saudi Writer Asks How Muslims Would Feel if Christians Were Blowing Themselves Up and Trying to Convert Muslims The Blaze, by Sharona Schwartz, Feb. 29, 2016

A Saudi journalist asked her readers in a recent article to imagine how Muslims would feel if Christians were blowing themselves up on their streets and if Christians were trying to convert Muslims, two activities associated with jihadist groups such as the Islamic State.

Nadine Al-Budair, a liberal Saudi journalist who lives in Qatar, asked the provocative questions in which she essentially switched the words “Muslims” with “Christians” to challenge her readers to condemn Islam-fueled atrocities.

The Middle East Media Research Institute posted translated excerpts this week from her article, which was published in December by Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper:

Imagine a Western youth coming here and carrying out a suicide mission in one of our public squares in the name of the Cross. Imagine that two skyscrapers had collapsed in some Arab capital, and that an extremist Christian group, donning millennium-old garb, had emerged to take responsibility for the event, while stressing its determination to revive Christian teachings or some Christian rulings, according to its understanding, to live like in the time [of Jesus] and his disciples, and to implement certain edicts of Christian scholars […]

Imagine hearing the voices of monks and priests from churches and prayer houses in and out of the Arab world, screaming on loudspeakers and leveling accusations against Muslims, calling them infidels, and chanting: ‘God, eliminate the Muslims and defeat them all.’

Al-Budair praised Western countries that have offered Middle Eastern migrants asylum, jobs, free education and health care only later to be attacked.

She asked readers to visualize if those who they welcomed into their country later “consumed by hatred and bloodlust … killed our sons on our streets, in our buildings, in our newspaper [offices], in our mosques and in our schools.”

“Imagine a Frenchmen or a German in Paris or Berlin leading his Muslim neighbor [somewhere] in order to slaughter him and then freeze his head in an ice box, in a cold and calculating manner … as one terrorist did with the head of an American in Riyadh years ago,” she wrote.

The writer contrasted the West’s treatment of Muslims who have “been on [Western] soil for years without any fear or worry” with the Muslim treatment of Christians:

How would you react if a European blew up a theater in your city or a cafe that your son frequents? What would you do if you heard curses against your religion and faith every Sunday, as they hear [against theirs] from some of our imams on Fridays and other days?

Imagine being in Amsterdam, London, or New York and knowing that students [there] learn as part of their curricula that you are an infidel, and that killing you is jihad that leads to the virgins of paradise. Would you extend your stay there to the end of the summer, or stay away? [Would you] blow yourself up [as the Muslim terrorists do], or would you do less than that: [Merely] conquer your rage and demand to ban Christians from entering Arab countries. What would you do?

Al-Budair warned that the West’s welcoming policy toward Muslims could end as a result of frustrations with Islamic terrorism that is fueled by the “extremist curricula” taught in the Middle East. She pointed to anti-Muslim statements like those made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as an example of the changing tide of public opinion toward Muslims.

See more excerpts from her article at MEMRI.

***

In his recent post, Signs of an Incipient Islamic Reformation?, Dan Miller asks – Might recognition of the Islam-terrorism nexus be a step toward the moderation of Islam? Apparently, the censors let Ms. Al-Budair message get through. Why? 

Misunderstanding Islam

swordPJ MEDIA, BY DAVID SOLWAY, MARCH 19, 2016

In a February 25, 2016 interview for FrontPage Magazine, notable Islamic reformer Tawfik Hamid listed several ways to combat Islamic terrorism, which he regards as founded on a “literal understanding of the Islamic texts” (italics mine) and on “Islam as it is currently taught and practiced in the vast majority of Muslim communities.” A winning strategy against violent jihad, he continues, would therefore entail the use of “negative deterrents”; support for “theological reforms within Islam that encourage peaceful co-existence”; encouragement of “education reforms” to counter standard Islamic teachings; effective use of the Internet; rendering radical organizations accountable; and putting an end to political correctness, which “prevents serious discussion, or criticism of Islam.” These recommendations are fully elaborated in his 2015 volume Inside Jihad, one of the most eloquent defenses of a redeemable Islam to be published in recent memory.

Regrettably, many of his suggestions tend to beg the question and are devoid of practical application. How do we go about abolishing political correctness, which is so deeply embedded within Western culture that it may never be defeated, or certainly not within a foreseeable future? No sensible person could oppose making Islamic institutions—mosques, social networks, political organizations—accountable for promoting extremist policies and dogmas, but the effort has gone for naught, and the leaders we continue to elect have moved neither to counter nor delegitimize them.

Most importantly, why is the “literal understanding of Islamic texts” wrong or misguided, when the Koran, its bulwark of ancillary documents, and the five schools of jurisprudence (usul-al-fiqh) say exactly what they mean? Where is the warrant for revisionary intrusion into a canon that has been firmly established by millennial authority and ulemic scholarship, that is hedged around by militant conviction, and whose innumerable texts and scriptures are so intricately interconnected that meaningful change is virtually impossible?

In Inside Jihad, Hamid argues against “fundamentalist Islam,” as if there were any other kind. He honorably insists that we must “face the unavoidable reality that [violent] teachings do exist, and they remain unchallenged in the mainstream Islamic books.” He fails to see that the purgation of such doctrines means that Islam would effectively cease to exist. Hamid inveighs against the tactic of taqiyyah—religiously sanctioned lying—deployed by the jihadists, as if taqiyyah did not enjoy theological validation as a general principle—Koran 3:28, 3:54, 9:3, 16.106, as well as the Hadith (Bukhari 84:64-65) among other instances. He is surely right in remarking that “a central obstacle in the battle with jihadism is the West’s tendency to engage in moral relativism,” but he does not pause to consider that the “battle with jihadism” is only a subset of a much larger conflict that is constantly being shirked.

In other words, the issue that should engage us is not only jihad but Islam in its holistic and testamentary totality. It is disheartening to observe a presidential hopeful like Marco Rubio, to take one conspicuous instance, declaim that our issue is not with Islam but with radical jihadis. Rubio goes so far as to assert that jihadism threatens not only America but is an “ideology that threatens Islam,” betraying an ignorance so profound (or a political correctness so slick) as to call his potential stewardship into question.

Unfortunately, whether among a vast swath of ordinary people or the majority of their presumptive leaders, there seems to be little knowledge of and less resistance against the prescripts of the Koran; the Sunna, which consists of theHadith (stories and traditions of Muhammad) and the Sira (the exemplary life of Muhammad); the schools of jurisprudence (Sunni and Shia); the classical Shafi’iReliance of the Traveler (which emeritus professor William Kilpatrick of Boston College in his compendious Christianity, Islam and Atheism defines as “one of the definitive manuals of Islamic law and as close to an official summation of traditional Muslim practice as one can find”); Isnad (chain of reports and narratives); and the enormous archive of political and philosophical literature dating from the 9th century to the present.

When one takes all this into consideration, Hamid’s suggestions and observations, though in themselves morally laudable or unexceptionable, are plainly unworkable, if not delusional. The rejection of a “literal understanding of the Islamic texts” in question presumes that another, metaphorical or anagogic, understanding exists. Every “reformer” I’ve met and/or read—Salim Mansur, Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji, Raheel Raza, Zuhdi Jasser, and others—presumes the same. (Non-Muslim temporizers like Karen Armstrong, whom Hamid properly trashes, and John Esposito, are no less delinquent—or corrupt.) Wanting desperately to maintain their faith, the reformers simply cannot or stubbornly refuse to see that the historical record deposes that Muhammad was a ruthless warlord who is nevertheless considered the “perfect man” (the name is obviously the most popular one in all of Islam), that the canonical literature, as we’ve noted, is too vast, complex and interwoven to be substantially altered, and that there is no realistic way the harshly authoritative Medinan portion of the Koran can be re-interpreted to cancel its indelible message.

You cannot feasibly launder the maculate texts and scriptures that provoke and justify perennial violence—it has never been done up to now, not even among the “peaceful” Sufis and the Ismailis, and the chances of this ever happening in the future are approximately zero. Interestingly, Hasan as-Sahbah, aka the “old man of the mountains,” the eleventh century founder of the sect of the Assassins, was reportedly a Sufi, and the Aga Khans of the Nizari Ismailis, the second largest branch of Shia Islam, are reputed to be descended from Hasan, as Idries Shah explains in The Way of the Sufi. Steven Runciman in A History of the Crusades asserts that Hasan was a convert to Ismailism. Despite its internal struggles and schismatic differences, its rigorously austere and presumably genial versions, Islam is still Islam.

Islam is summed up in the dictates of Sharia law, a combination of Koranic verses and passages from the Sunna, which historian F.W. Burleigh in his massive and punctiliously researched biography It’s All About Muhammad obliquely refers to as a “fear marathon.” The Arabic word for “path,” Sharia condones infant marriage, polygamy, wife beating, male unilateral divorce, diminishment of women’s inheritance rights and court testimony, honor killings, rape, slavery, looting and taxing of non-believers, amputation for theft, and punishment by death for apostasy, denial of any part of the Koran, criticism of Muhammad, or rejection of Allah. With respect to veiling, many have argued that it is merely an element of culture, without theological ducat, but Koran 33:59 proves otherwise. ThoughSharia is subject to some degree of interpretation, its basic precepts, of which the above is merely a selection, are theologically ordained and cannot be annulled.

In the long run—apart from their reasonable recommendation to crush the terrorists—the reformers tend to distract us from the intractable nature of Islam and so actually end up making us more susceptible to its depredations. This is the ultimate irony. The reformers deceive not only themselves but those among their Western sympathizers who are led to believe that Islam is essentially benign or sufficiently multifaceted to weaken its core message; that violent jihad is an aberration; that pivotal texts in the canon can be re-interpreted or even bowdlerized; and that extremists are a fringe minority, a school of barbarians or a sect of puritanical zealots who have misunderstood or violated the tenets of their faith—when in fact they are true believers, authentic Muslims, who abide by the manifold scriptures.

Placing the blame, as Hamid does, for religious-inspired violence on a radical movement called “Islamism,” which we are meant to understand as something other than genuine Islam, or condemning punitive and archaic Salafist doctrine as uniquely responsible for Islamic mayhem, or even denouncing Sharia as a draconian “human rights disaster”—all this only serves to befuddle and to sidetrack us from considering Islam as a whole, of which “Islamism,” Salafism and Sharia are supposedly parts and aspects that can be reformed or defanged.

The problem we are facing is not this or that component of Islam, but Islam as a vast communion and ordinance founded on a millennial history of conquest and domination and rooted in a divinely transmitted document resistant to change. Islam, as Director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam Bill Warner points out, is constituted by “the words of Allah in the Koran, and the words and actions of Mohammed, the Sunna”; that is, the “Trilogy Texts” of Koran, Hadith and Sira are absolutely definitive. It is hard to see how the very pith and marrow of the faith can be so easily waived. The Canadian Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow, for example, opposes bigotry “in the name of Islam”; the bigotry, however, does not appear to reside exclusively “in the name.” The group cites the famous “no compulsion in religion” sura (Koran 2:256) as its guiding principle, but it neglects to inform us that this passage is authoritatively mansukh, i.e., abrogated or cancelled, by the later “verse of the sword” (Koran 9:5), which reads “slay the idolaters wherever you find them…lie in ambush everywhere for them”—unless, of course, they repent, convert or pay the poll-tax. How different is such deceptiveness from the blatantly mendacious pronouncements concerning Islam of Barack Obama, e.g.: “Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding”?

The truth is otherwise. We need to remember that Islam may be recessive at times, active at others, but its essence cannot be changed. It is like a volcano that never goes extinct and we are wrong to regard its dormant phases as final. It is always ready to erupt. You cannot reform or re-interpret a volcano, and unless you keep a distance you always risk being buried in the lava of its natal ferocity.

In effect, the reformers succeed only in turning the credulous and ignorant among us into sitting ducks utterly unprepared for the invasive potential of a world-historical, theo-political system that has set its sights upon the increasingly vulnerable West. Admittedly, the reformers wish to do good; unfortunately they manage only to do harm. Many, if not all, are decent men and women whose reluctance to surrender the faith that has become an integral part of their spiritual and cultural lives has led them into the practice of inadvertent disingenuousness. Indeed, I suspect that the reformers are preoccupied not so much with saving the West as with preserving a form of Islam for themselves. After all, how can they recite the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith, and not cleave to the beating heart of Islam?

In a further irony, these revisionists have come under attack by hardline Muslims like Wardah Khalid as blasphemers purveying an “anti-Islam” agenda. Khalid does not realize that they are her unwitting allies, creating a “safe space” for Islam in the midst of the culture, eventually helping to turn it into something like a contemporary university campus—that center of “higher indoctrination” and self-righteous subversion.

In the last analysis, the hermeneutic claims and sanitizing efforts of the reformers serve only to scaffold a political faith whose foremost objective, to quote former Muslim Ali Sina in Understanding Muhammad and Muslims, “is to ‘reclaim’ the earth and establish Allah’s law on it.” At the same time, they prompt us to drop our guard against a determined and insidious adversary. Caveat emptor.

Obama Says Islam Needs Modernist Reformation

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a point at a National Security Council meeting in February 2016. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a point at a National Security Council meeting in February 2016. (Photo: Pete Souza/White House)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 15, 2016:

For the first time, President Obama said that Islam needs a modernist reformation. This is what was missing from his speech at a Maryland mosque (see video below) on February 3, which presented a critical opportunity where Obama could have had his “tear down this wall” moment.

In a comprehensive interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama referred to his speech in Cairo at Al-Azhar University in 2009, saying:

“I was hoping that my speech could trigger a discussion, could create space for Muslims to address the real problems they are confronting—problems of governance, and the fact that some currents of Islam have not gone through a reformation that would help people adapt their religious doctrines to modernity.”

Obama also said, “There is a need for Islam as a whole to challenge that interpretation of Islam, to isolate it, and to undergo a vigorous discussion within their community about how Islam works as part of a peaceful, modern society.”

The Cairo speech was written to chip away at two boulders standing in the way of such a reformation, he explained: The scapegoating of Israel, which serves to distract Muslims from self-reflection and concerns about wholesale negative impressions of Muslims.

“I do not persuade peaceful, tolerant Muslims to engage in that debate if I’m not sensitive to their concern that they are being tagged with a broad brush,” Obama argued.

Here, a word of caution is due: Not every “reformation” is equal. As Raymond Ibrahim explains, the hardline Islamic movements that President Obama wants swept away actually are a reformation movement. In fact, Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and “Wahhabism” founder Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab styled their movements as “reformist.”

President Obama’s qualifier of a modernist reformation is helpful in guarding against these types of reformers. But again, another word of caution: Democratic elections are not necessarily the engines of this modernist reformation, since Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood participate in them.

One interesting point in the interview is when Jeffrey Goldberg reflects on President Obama’s early closeness to the democratically-elected Islamist leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who was then prime minister and is now president of Turkey).

Goldberg writes that Obama now “considers him a failure and an authoritarian.” Obama’s mistaken hope in Erdogan and his deceitful “moderate Islamism” should be a hard-earned lesson.

An equally surprising part of the interview is when Goldberg explains how President Obama has noticed Indonesia “move from a relaxed, syncretistic Islam to a more fundamentalist, unforgiving interpretation” (Goldberg’s words). Obama saw the proliferation of the hijab in Indonesia as indicative of this trend he is concerned about and for which he largely blames Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Obama’s statements about the need for an Islamic modernist reformation are certainly welcome, but the right goal can only be achieved with the right strategy.

Similarly, the right reformation can only be achieved with the right reformers. And we have no reason to believe that the current administration has picked them, much less come up with a strategy to empower them.

Watch President Obama’s Baltimore mosque speech:

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

‘Islam Can’t Be Modernised’ Says World’s ‘Greatest Arabic Poet’

Jorge Guerrero/AFP/GettyImages

Jorge Guerrero/AFP/GettyImages

Breitbart, by Chris Tomlinson, Feb. 19, 2016:

The writer regarded as the greatest Arabic language poet alive today has said Islam cannot be modernised.

Adunis Asbar, known by his pen name Adonis, is a Syrian-born writer often considered one of the greatest living poets of the Arabic language. He has come under criticism for comments he made recently about Islam before receiving the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, named after the famous pacifist and author of the classic World War One novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’.

In an interview with Die Welt he talked about one of the most pressing issues in Germany since the migrant crisis began, the idea of being able to integrate migrants from predominately Muslim countries into European societies.

Being raised a Muslim himself and having one of the greatest understandings of the language of the Quran, Adonis said: “You can not reform a religion. If they are reformed, [the original meaning] is separated from it. Therefore, modern Muslims and a modern Islam is already impossible. If there is no separation between religion and state, there will be no democracy especially without equality for women. Then we will keep a theocratic system. So it will end.”

Laying down a heavy critique of the Islamic world, he added: “Arabs have no more creative force. Islam does not contribute to intellectual life, it suggests no discussion. It is no longer thought. It produces no thinking, no art, no science, no vision that could change the world. This repetition is the sign of its end. The Arabs will continue to exist, but they will not make the world better.”

The remarks are in reference to the broader questions of how he sees the Middle East, and specifically his native Syria which has been in a state of civil war for years. Adonis describes the totality of Islam in the life of people in the Islamic world saying Muslim society is “based on a totalitarian system. The religion dictates everything: How to run, how to go to the toilet, who one has to love…”

Initially seemingly reluctant to condemn the Assad regime, he did write an open letter to Bashar Assad asking him to step down. However, this also angered rebel sympathisers when he referred to Assad as the elected President of Syria. Adonis said: “But I’ve also written a second letter, which was addressed to the revolutionaries. I have asked for their vision. But they would not read it, because they are not independent.”

He went on to say the rebels were controlled by interests in America, Saudi Arabia and certain sections of Europe, and stessed:

“I have long been an opponent of Assad. The Assad regime has transformed the country into a prison. But his opponents, the so-called revolutionaries, commit mass murder, cut people’s heads off, sell women in cages as goods and trample human dignity underfoot.”

Adonis was referring to the Islamic State and the Al-Nusra front (an Al Qaeda affiliate) who have become the largest opposition force to Assad over the course of the civil war.

Breitbart London has already reported that attempts to house and integrate Muslim migrants will cost Germans and other European countries billions of euros, and according to Adonis’ opinion it could be a useless endeavour.

When asked if he receives death threats from radical Islamists Adonis said: “Of course, but I do not care. For certain convictions people should risk their lives.”

Nonie Darwish: Egypt At A Crossroads

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Atlas Shrugs, by Nonie Darwish, Jan. 4, 2016:

The cards are stacked against Islamic reformers in 2016. Even the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is encouraging a reformation in Islamic education and preaching, is currently facing a strong movement of discontent from Al Azhar’s Islamic leadership.

It is against the grain of Islam for Muslims to self-criticize, and those who do must constantly apologize and emphasize that they are not speaking about Islam the religion, but are speaking about the interpretation. This is because those who call for any reformation are automatically accused of apostasy by Muslim leadership. Islam resists and refuses to focus on self-criticism or internal analysis in its preaching to its followers. Only one form of criticism is allowed in Islam, and that is the one directed against the non-Muslim outside world. That has always been the common form of preaching in Islam.

Not only Muslim preachers, but also Muslim political leaders, are expected to give fiery speeches against the outside world, but never against internal causes of trouble, especially if they’re related to Islam or Sharia.

Al-Sisi is the first Muslim leader in recent history who openly speaks of the need for a reformation in Islamic education. That makes him a new kind of Muslim leader, and unquestionably an exceptional and courageous one.

A year ago, Al-Sisi spoke before the leadership of the highest Islamic Sunni institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, and challenged the clerics to take the lead in an effort to examine their own teachings and source materials for interpreting Islam. He emphasized he was not critiquing the religion (of Islam) but the need for a “religious revolution” in the thinking that is “antagonizing the entire world.” Again, just a couple of weeks ago on December 22, al-Sisi reiterated his appeal to Islamic leaders to modernize and promote “changes in approach” for the sake of peaceful coexistence with all races and religions.

Even though Al-Sisi is widely popular among the majority of Egyptians who are fed up with the impact of political Islam on Egyptian society, there are forces of insurgency coming from Al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood, which is far from being a dead movement in Egypt.

Egypt is at a crossroads, and the efforts to keep Egypt moderate are being constantly challenged from all directions: radical Muslim groups from inside Egypt, the impact of ISIS in the Sinai, the instability and terror on the border with Hamas in Gaza and the terror challenge on Egypt’s Western border with Libya. Even the Southern border of Egypt is not free of turmoil coming from the Islamic State of The Sudan.

Even though the West and the so-called “moderate” Muslims are hopeful for an Islamic reformation movement coming out of the Middle East, the prospects are grim. Reformists are being strangled from all directions, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which was condemned as an illegal terrorist organization by the Egyptian government, is getting stronger globally with global headquarters, not in Saudi Arabia, but in London and Istanbul.

Worst of all is the Obama administration’s refusal to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, have given it acceptance and even respectability at the international level and also inside the Middle East.

The weak state of Egypt’s economy and its shrinking income from tourism after several terror attacks on tourists in the Sinai are additional factors making it difficult for Al-Sisi’s reformation plans to succeed.

The stunning and rapid success of ISIS, its successful terrorism on the West, the sleeper cells in Europe and the US, Obama’s withdrawal from the Middle East, and his reluctance to fight ISIS, all are additional factors in favor of ISIS winning the Middle East. The same factors are working against the political stability of Egypt, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia, which just recently beheaded a Shiite cleric, together with a total of 47 Shiite protesters.

The year 2016 is the last year for the Obama administration, and Islam jihadists know that their golden opportunity to run wild and form a lasting Islamic State in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East will probably end with Obama’s term in office. We are looking at a very rocky 2016.

AFDI Geller Fellow Nonie Darwish is the author “The Devil We Don’t Know” and president of “Former Muslims United,” a program of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

‘They don’t speak for me’: New Muslim groups reject CAIR representation

Jasser says CAIR does not speak for him - or a lot of other Muslim Americans. (Associated Press)

Jasser says CAIR does not speak for him – or a lot of other Muslim Americans. (Associated Press)

Fox News, by Malia Zimmerman, December 18, 2015:

Within hours of a terror attack that left 14 dead in Southern California, the nation’s best-known Islamic advocacy group held a press conference with the killers’ family – and Muslims around the country cringed.

In the days following the Dec. 2 attack in San Bernardino, Council for American-Islamic Relations representatives partially blamed U.S. policy for terrorist attacks, accused gunman Syed Rizwan Farook’s co-workers of making fun of his beard and sought to downplay comments by Farook’s father linking him to ISIS. Like Muslims throughout the U.S., CAIR officials condemned the attack, but too often with what sounded to critics like subtle caveats.

“CAIR is a primary obstacle in the effort of many honest American Muslims who recognize our need to own up and lead long-overdue reforms against the root causes of radicalization: Islamism and its separatism,” said Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, an ex-U.S. Navy officer who founded and heads the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

For would-be reformers like Jasser, reclaiming the faith begins with taking back control of Islam’s image. He and other increasingly outspoken Muslim-Americans say true moderates must be honest and unequivocal in condemning acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam. Most of all, they are tired of the Washington-based nonprofit claiming to speak for them.

“CAIR’s information is marketed and packaged so it seems that they speak for all of us, but they don’t speak for me and my group,” said Raheel Raza, president of the Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow. “CAIR does not and has never represented the majority Muslim voices which are as diverse as Muslims in America.”

Muslims Facing Tomorrow is one of more than a dozen moderate Islamic groups from the U.S., Canada and European countries that have joined the Muslim Reform Movement, an alliance put together by Jasser.

The Muslim Reform Movement rebukes violent jihad, advocates for a separation of “mosque and state,” and celebrates individual freedom, human rights and gender equality, and secular democracy, according to its founders, who also reject the idea of an Islamic State and its Sharia Law.

“We are in a battle for the soul of Islam, and an Islamic renewal must defeat the ideology of Islamism,” read a statement from the group, which formed following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris and met for the first time in Washington just two days after the San Bernardino attack.

CAIR does not publicly support an Islamic State, Sharia Law in the U.S. or acts of violence. But moderate critics from within the faith say CAIR’s reflexive tendency to raise moral equivalence arguments or warn of backlashes against Muslims even as it condemns terror attacks does them no favors. In addition, CAIR’s past links to Hamas, having been named an unindicted co-conspirator in a 2007 federal trial involving the Palestinian terrorist group, make it easy for critics to doubt its sincerity – and by unfair extension, that of other Muslims.

Jasser goes even further, questioning the true agenda of CAIR.

“CAIR may condemn the acts and means of radical violent Islamists, but no one should be fooled for a moment that CAIR’s singular fixation on stoking the flames and raising funds off the exaggerated narrative that Muslims are under siege by ‘bigoted Americans’ is not a major part of the separatism that radicalizes members of our Muslim communities,” Jasser said. “They are feeding the global movement against America.”

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper didn’t answer specific questions posed by FoxNews.com about the organization, only providing a link to two CAIR reports on its website, including one critical of Jasser.

Founded in 1994 with a stated goal to “enhance understanding of Islam,” CAIR has grown to 32 chapters in 20 states. The self-styled anti-defamation and civil rights group operates on $3 million in donations a year, and also solicits contributions for special projects, such as $500,000 from Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, to fund distribution of the Koran in the U.S.

According to its website, CAIR was formed “to challenge anti-Muslim discrimination nationwide.” The group touts its status as the most frequently quoted American Muslim organization as evidence of its success in “providing an Islamic perspective on issues of importance to the American public.”

While some critics allege CAIR is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood and federally designated terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah, CAIR has in the past called such accusations “false and misleading.”

The U.S. Department of Justice listed CAIR and other large Muslim organizations in 2007 as unindicted co-conspirators in a terrorism-related trial in Texas brought by the government against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development charity and five of its officers.

The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development and its officers were accused of funneling millions of dollars in donations to Hamas and found guilty of providing material support for terrorism, leading to the federal government shutting down the organization in December 2001. The FBI broke off its ties with CAIR as a result of the case, even though CAIR was not directly tied to any of the criminal activity.

“CAIR has a strategy of delegitimizing U.S. government counter-terrorism operations, often distributing articles that make it sound as if the War on Terror is manufactured by the FBI and a Zionist/anti-Muslim conspiracy machine,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project, a New York-based nonprofit that monitors Islamic terrorism. “They reflexively cast doubt on the agency, rather than the terrorism suspect, almost every single time that an arrest is announced.”

Jasser’s group hopes to bring together progressive Muslims who share American values, practice their faith in their own way and reject the idea that one agenda-driven group speaks for them.

“We want to wake up the 85 to 90 percent of Muslims in the U.S. who are sitting at home, who don’t go to mosques, but love their religion,” Jasser said.

Also see:

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Center for Security Policy, Dec. 17, 2015:

Islam 2.0 – 

With Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

Dr. ZUHDI JASSER, Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy: TRANSCRIPT

PART ONE: Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • Growing movement for Islamic reformation
  • Notable individuals in the Muslim reform movement

PART TWO: Podcast (podcast2): Play in new window | Download

  • Examination of why some moderate Muslims are afraid to speak out against radical Islamism
  • Importance of ideology in reforming extremism interpretations of the faith

PART THREE: Podcast (podcast3): Play in new window | Download

  • A Muslim reformer’s view on today’s popular depiction of Islam’s Prophet Mohammad
  • Rescuing the interpretation while still adhering to the original script of the Qur’an
  • Interpreting the Qur’an in the modern age

PART FOUR: Podcast (podcast4): Play in new window | Download

  • Countering radicalization at its roots
  • Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s stance on former administration’s enforcement of the First Amendment
  • The plight of balancing humanitarianism in times of grave national security concerns

Why Americanized Muslim Reformers Are Failing

pl_1Frontpage, by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby, Nov. 12, 2015:

For many years we in the United States have regularly heard from a small number of Muslim American “reformers” who aspire to change Islam in ways that will make it more “modern” and compatible with American values such as freedom of speech and religion, and the equality of all people.  According to these reformers, such change would rescue Islam from the “perverted” and “radical” interpretations of thejihadists, and return it to the way the reformers claim Muhammad originally taught it: as a religion that commanded peace and tolerance toward all, and promoted the rights of women.

These aspiring reformers seem to be generally Muslim males who were either born in the United States, or have spent a significant portion of their life in the United States.  They have used the freedoms in the United States to explore Islam and to strike out on their own in providing an interpretation of that religion that conforms largely to American values.  These personal interpretations commonly focus on Islam as a religion of peace that has been perverted by a few radical jihadists, and the aspiring reformers present Islam as such to non-Muslim audiences.  I use the term “Americanized Muslim reformer” as a general reference to these aspiring Muslim reformers.

But what most non-Muslims don’t realize is that Islam prohibits exactly what these Americanized Muslim reformers are trying to do.  Let’s look in the Koran, the holy book of Islam considered by Muslims to consist of the timeless, perfect, unchangeable words of their god Allah.

Islam was Perfected during the Time of Muhammad

Allah states in 5:3 of the Koran that the religion of Islam was perfected and finalized during the time of Muhammad:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion[.]

In 15:9 Allah states that the Koran cannot be changed.  According to Muslim scholars, 2:85 of the Koran prohibits picking and choosing among its verses (e.g., Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 1, p. 88).

And to reiterate this, the prophet Muhammad said the penalty for denying a verse of the Koran was death:

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever denies a Verse of the Qur’an, it is permissible to strike his neck (i.e. execute him)[.]”

Sunan Ibn Majah, No. 2539

And Muhammad talked about being in Paradise to greet the Muslims who died after him, and seeing some of those Muslims taken away because of changes they had made to Islam after he died:

“There will come to me some people whom I know and they know me, and then a barrier will be set up between me and them.”  Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri added that the Prophet further said, “I will say those people are from me (i.e. they are my followers).  It will be said, ‘You do not know what new changes and new things (heresies) they did after you.’  Then I will say, ‘Far removed (from mercy), far removed (from mercy), those who changed, did new things in (the religion) after me!'”

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Nos. 7050-7051

And once an issue has been decided in the Koran and/or in the teachings of Muhammad, it is blasphemy for a Muslim to disagree with that decision.  This is plainly stated in the Koran, e.g:

It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger, have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.  And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.   (33:36)

Their god and their prophet say that Islam cannot be changed after the time of Muhammad, so what are the Americanized Muslim reformers to do?  Below are some of the major approaches I have found taken among these reformers.  These approaches are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and the use of more than one of these approaches, or variations thereof, is not uncommon.

The Koran Only

There are Muslims known as “Koranists.”  They believe that the only source of Islamic Doctrine is what is found in the Koran.  The Koranists reject the Sunnah (the teachings and example of Muhammad).

But the Koran itself specifically rejects the premise of the Koranists.  These are some of the Koran verses that stress the importance of the Sunnah of Muhammad:

  • He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad), has indeed obeyed Allah[.] (4:80)
  • And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad) after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination! (4:115)
  • Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much. (33:21)
  • And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it).  And fear Allah; verily, Allah is Severe in punishment. (59:7)

In the Koran Allah specifically commands Muslims to obey and follow the teachings and example of Muhammad.  So where does a Muslim find such teachings and example, including in matters such as how to pray, actions to be taken during the Hajj, or ablution?  They are not in the Koran, they are in theSunnah.

The Koranists not only ignore the words of Allah, but they ignore the words of their prophet Muhammad:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I have left two things with you.  As long as you hold fast to them, you will not go astray.  They are the Book of Allah and the sunna [sic] of His Prophet.

Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas, 46.3

So in defiance of the commands and teachings of their god and prophet, the Koranist Muslims ignore theSunnah.

Personal Interpretations of Salad Bar Islam

This approach is probably the one most used among the aspiring Americanized Muslim reformers and was the genesis for my first article about Fantasy Islam.  With this approach, changing Islamic Doctrine runs the gamut from a few tweaks here and there, to Islam being simply whatever the individual Muslim wants it to be.  The common denominator is that the changes are based on the personal opinion of the aspiring reformer.

With this approach, hadith collections that have been considered authoritative since the 9th Century are questioned, with certain hadiths among them actually being deemed false, solely on the basis of the individual Muslim’s opinion.

Verses of the Koran that are specific can be deemed allegorical, the eternal words of Allah can be judged applicable only to a specific time period, and verses of the Koran can be completely dismissed, solely on the basis of the individual Muslim’s opinion.

With this approach, the Doctrine of Abrogation, based on 2:106 of the Koran, is frequently dismissed. This Doctrine is fundamental to understanding Islam, and it states that if there is a conflict between the messages of two “revelations” in the Koran, then the most recent “revelation” is the one to be followed.  Consequently, a “revelation” made in Medina would supersede a similar, earlier “revelation” made in Mecca if there was a conflict between the messages of the two. The significance is that the “revelations” in Mecca tended to be more peaceful and accommodating toward non-Muslims than the verses later “revealed” in Medina.  The verses from Medina are generally more belligerent and intolerant, and more inclined to make sharp differentiations between Muslims and non-Muslims.  By ignoring the Doctrine of Abrogation, the aspiring Muslim reformer can concentrate on the Meccan verses, which, however, while more appealing to non-Muslim ears, simply don’t carry the weight of Islamic Doctrine anymore.

This approach also dismisses centuries of accepted Muslim scholarship in the form of authoritative Koran commentaries (tafsirs), such as the Tafsir Al-Qurturbi, Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and Tafsir Al-Jalalayn. This approach also dismisses such 20th Century tafsirs as Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan and Tafsir As-Sa’di.  Dismissing authoritative tafsirs allows the aspiring reformer to then rely on new, personal interpretations of the meaning of verses in the Koran, even though such interpretations might directly conflict with the writings in authoritative tafsirs over the centuries.  These new interpretations are based solely on the individual Muslim’s opinion.

These aspiring reformers apparently ignore the fact that Muhammad had his own opinions about Muslims following this approach:

Muhammad bin Jarir reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Prophet said, ‘Whoever explains the Qur’an with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him assume his seat in the Fire.’ 

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, pp. 32-33

Muhammad said: The most truthful speech is Allah’s Speech, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad.  The worst matters are the newly invented (in religion), every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a heresy, and every heresy is in the Fire.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, p. 588

Inaccurate Historical Information

It is not unusual to find Americanized Muslim reformers presenting historical information that is simply inaccurate. Here are three common examples:

The peaceful conquest of Mecca:  You will hear that when Muhammad led an army of 10,000 Muslim warriors against Mecca in 630 AD, the Meccans surrendered peacefully and there was no bloodshed.  You might even hear that Muhammad specifically prohibited the killing of any individuals.  In reality, there was some resistance by the Meccans that resulted in the battle deaths of 2-3 Muslims and 12-13 Meccans.  And before entering Mecca, Muhammad had ordered the killing of nine specific individuals, including four women.  Some of these individuals were subsequently captured and killed, while others saved themselves by converting to Islam before they could be killed.  As Muhammad explained it:

If anyone should say, The apostle killed men in Mecca, say God permitted His apostle to do so but He does not permit you.

The Life of Muhammad, p. 555

The Verse of the Sword is a pejorative term created by non-Muslims:  You might hear Muslims claim that non-Muslims created the term “Verse of the Sword” to disparage 9:5 of the Koran.  Here is the first part of that verse:

Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun [non-Muslims] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush[.]

In reality, Muslim scholars have referred to this verse as the “Verse of the Sword” for centuries (e.g.Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, pp. 375 and 377).

The Verse of the Sword was revealed before it was revealed:  You might hear Muslims claim that 9:5 was among the verses “revealed” during the early period of Islam, when aggressive threats by militarily strong non-Muslims were being made against the young, weak Muslim community.  You might also hear the claim that this verse was applicable only to a particular time period and/or circumstance in the past (e.g., Zuhdi Jasser claimed it was “revealed” in and applicable only to 623 AD).

In reality, 9:5 was among the verses “revealed” in late 630 AD and early 631 AD.  By this time Muhammad had already conquered Mecca, and the remaining non-Muslim tribes on the Arabian Peninsula, confronted by the burgeoning Muslim armies, were flocking to Medina to convert to Islam.  And these verses were not related to a specific battle or to a specific tribe, but rather were directed toward all non-Muslims (Life of Muhammad, pp. 617-619; The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, pp. 77-79; and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, pp. 370-376).

And there is no basis in Islamic Doctrine for the claim that 9:5 has no relevance today.  Such a claim ignores the facts that Muslims believe the Koran consists of the eternal words of Allah, and Chapter 9 of the Koran was the last chapter to be “revealed” to Muhammad.  Consequently, the commands found in Chapter 9 were Allah’s final, timeless instructions to the Muslims on how to deal with non-Muslims.

Their Audience Appears to be Mainly Non-Muslims

Americanized Muslim reformers appear on non-Muslim media and in front of non-Muslim organizations on a frequent basis, and almost always after a major jihadist attack.

But what I have yet to hear about is the number of mosques and Muslim organizations that allow these aspiring reformers to come in and advocate for their personal version of Islam.  The Muslim reformers are vocal about their appearances on non-Muslim media and in front of non-Muslim organizations, but when it comes to any occurrence of similar appearances in mosques and in front of Muslim organizations, there seems to be silence.

Based on my research into the Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha, Nebraska, I think these Americanized Muslim reformers are silent because they seldom, if ever, are allowed to present their personal version of Islam in a mosque or in front of a Muslim organization.  The Tri-Faith Initiative is an experiment in interfaith dialogue and coexistence between Muslims, Jews, and Christians.  However, in a series of articles I have shown that Islamic doctrine prohibits such a venture and actually maligns, and preaches violence against, Jews and Christians (here, here, here, and here).  And I have also shown that most of the money for this initiative comes from non-Muslim organizations and a few aspiring Muslim reformers, with apparently no support for the initiative from mosques and Muslim organizations in Nebraska (hereand here).

When I have corresponded with Tri-Faith partners and proponents, and Nebraska mosques and Muslim organizations, about what Islamic Doctrine teaches and the lack of support for the Tri-Faith from the greater Muslim community in Nebraska, there has been only silence from the Muslims and character attacks on me from the non-Muslims.

Conclusion

Here are reasons why Americanized Muslim reformers are failing:

  1. They create their own versions of Islam, relying on their own personal opinions and interpretations, and arbitrarily dismissing parts of Islamic history and centuries of established Muslim scholarship.
  2. They claim to follow the Koran, but actually go against verses of the Koran by arbitrarily dismissing one of the two columns upon which Islam rests: the Sunnah of Muhammad.
  3. They go against the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad by picking and choosing, and actually dismissing verses in the Koran.
  4. They personally decide which hadiths are authentic, again arbitrarily dismissing centuries of established Muslim scholarship.
  5. As a result, their beliefs are heretical.  And as Muhammad said above, every heresy sends one to the Fires of Hell.
  6. Because these reformers are heretics, they have little, if any support for their reforms from the greater Muslim community in the United States.
  7. Consequently, the reformers have to appeal to non-Muslims to help them reform Islam.  This would be as if Martin Luther had relied on Muslims for his main support during the Reformation.
  8. So what are the chances of success for an Americanized Muslim heretic and his non-Muslim followers to change Islam from that which was taught by Muhammad to that which is advocated by the heretic?  Zero.

Does it really matter that Americanized Muslim reformers are going around trying to create personalized, “modern” versions of Islam?  Yes, because they are relying on non-Muslims for support.  And to get that support, the reformers are presenting “the true” Islam as a religion of peace, similar to Christianity and Judaism, and able to be modified and modernized.  And the reformers are presenting the jihadists as outliers who have perverted and hijacked that religion.  But the reality is that the Muslim reformers are perverting and hijacking the religion, and it is the jihadists who are following the Islam taught by Muhammad.

How one understands a religion, whether correctly or incorrectly, is a major factor in how one welcomes it adherents. In terms of the mass migration of Muslim “refugees” into Europe, the European leadership and many Europeans in general appear to think that Islam is as the aspiring reformers have presented it.  So the Muslim “refugees” have been generally welcomed with open arms.  But would there have been such a welcome if the realization had been more wide spread that the reformers are heretics with little support in the greater Muslim community?

There is support in the United States for the Obama administration’s call to bring in tens of thousands of these Muslim “refugees.”  But before allowing this to happen, we must ask the question that the Europeans should have asked, but for whom now it is too late to ask: Will these Muslim “refugees” follow the Islam of our Americanized Muslim heretics or will these “refugees” follow the centuries-old intolerant, supremacist, violent teachings of their god Allah and their prophet Muhammad?  The fate of Western culture lies in the answer.

Just as it is obligatory to accept the commandments proven by the textual evidence from the Qur’an, and that it is utter disbelief to reject them, so are the commandments proven by the hadeeths of the Messenger of Allah.  It is obligatory to act by them, and it is sheer disbelief to deny them.

Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 1, pp. 622-623

Islam between Radicalism and Reform

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Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, PhD. – July 28, 2015:

“We can give up the business of saying that this has nothing to do with Islam,” stated Hudson Institute scholar Hassan Haqqani while discussing jihadist violence at Washington, DC’s American Enterprise Institute (AEI) on July 21.  Haqqani and AEI’s conference “Islamic Extremism, Reformism, and the War on Terror” examined insightfully radicalism’s literal rootedness in Islam and its reform prospects to a conference room filled with about 80 listeners.

Notwithstanding prevalent “political correctness,” AEI moderator Danielle Pletka stated that the atrocious Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria, or ISIL) “may not be the form of Islam that should be, but it is, in fact, certainly a form of Islam.”  The ideology of groups like ISIL, noted the former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Haqqani, “may be a variant, it may be a distortion, it may be an extreme view, but it does have to do with Islam.”  Brookings Institution scholar Shadi Hamid noted that Graeme Wood, the author of the “great Atlantic article,” had once expressed on a panel with Hamid that, theologically speaking, “ISIL is an example of the Islamic reformation.”

Hamid explained that, by reverting to the sources of Islamic doctrine, Muslim “reform and reformation can lead to ascendant conservative forces.”  A “reformation of sorts” by late 19th and early 20th century Islamic thinkers, for example, led to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).  Their “mainstream Islamism” is an “attempt to reconcile pre-modern Islamic law with the modern nation-state.”

Hamid questioned whether “Islam is uniquely resistant to secularization.”  “Prophet Muhammad,” Hamid noted of Islam’s founding figure, “was not just a prophet or theologian, but also a politician, a warrior, a merchant, and, perhaps most importantly, a head of state, a small kind of mini-state.”  Thus any advocacy in Islam of separating religion and politics must “go up against the prophetic model,” which “even not particularly religious Muslims really value.”  “There are ways to do that,” he qualified, “but they are challenging and it’s unlikely to get a critical mass of support in the Muslim world.”

Hamid added that Islam’s “Quranic inerrancy” entails a “creedal requirement to believe that the Quran is not just the word of God, not just inspired by God, but God’s actual speech.”  Contrary to Christian understanding of divinely-inspired, but man-made scripture, in Islam’s view of the Quran “every single letter and word is not mediated.”  “Even a lax Muslim has a more intense commitment to the [Quranic] text theoretically than a right-wing evangelical does to the Bible.”

Against such dogmatism Abbas Kadhim, a School of Advanced International Studies professor originally from the Shiite holy city of Najaf, Iraq, presented a more flexible understanding of Islamic reform.  For him this entailed “going back to the roots of Islam and then trying to derive from those roots what works for this time and this age, just like the Muslims throughout the centuries.”  Appearing on the panel after Kadhim, the Gallup pollster Mohamed Younis appeared to concur, stating that Islamic law or “sharia is the utopian ideal” mediated in implementation throughout history by complex, prudential human jurisprudence.  “ISIL is not a traditionalist movement,” he argued, but “actually a complete deviation or walking away from the traditions of jurisprudence within Islam,” demonstrating a “need to increase the jurisprudential literacy” of Muslims.

Kadhim took an almost iconoclastic approach to various Islamic tenets befitting his background in which, he argued, Shiite theology’s greater emphasis on ijtihad or individual intellectual exertion contrasted with Sunni doctrine.  The Islamic doctrine ofQuranic abrogation, for example, entails that later revealed (and often more violent) verses in the Quran replace earlier (often more benign) verses.  Yet German orientalist Theodor Nöldeke showed that “this is a mess here” trying to determine the Quran’s chronological order.

Kadhim also noted that Islam’s second canonical source, the hadith relating what Islam considers as Muhammad’s exemplary biography, are sayings about him recorded some 200 years after his death.  Hadith validity therefore depended upon a narrator “chain of transmission” or isnad, yet Kadhim rhetorically questioned his audience “how many of you can reproduce what we said in the last 15 minutes?”  He concluded that “Muslims have lied and attributed things to the prophet for 1,400 years,” dishonestly using Quran and hadith to “advance a certain agenda.”  Nonetheless, “in certain schools of Islam certain dead people have an omnipresent authority,” like the 13th century Ibn Taymiyyah among the Sunni Hanbali legal school dominant in the Arabian Peninsula.

Such outside-the-box Islamic thinking appealed to Haqqani, who noted that groups like ISIL have a “radical ideology, and all ideologies when they are fought need an ideological counter-narrative,” like Cold War Communism.  “Give a voice to the voices in the Muslim world that are being shut up” was his global strategy for encouraging Islamic diversity in the face of often repressive Muslim-majority societies.  He noted, for example, an Egyptian scholar for whom the initial Muslim community under Muhammad in seventh-century “Medina was not really a state in the modern sense.”  Similarly, panelist Jennifer Bryson, an Arabic scholar whopreviously questioned Pletka and others calling the Islamic State as such, described Muhammad “as more of a community leader.”

In this view, Haqqani stated, the “purpose of Islam is piety and not power” and the “whole notion of an Islamic state is flawed.”  Given his apolitical, pietistic understanding of Islam, he noted that Islam’s Shiite-Sunni division derives from seventh-century conflicts over Muhammad’s choice of succession in the initial Muslim caliphate.  “What relevance does it have in the 21st century?” he asked, and proclaimed among his mixed Shiite-Sunni fellow panelists “let the Shia be Shias, and let the Sunnis be Sunnis.”

Kadhim’s fellow Iraqi Shiite conference presenter, Zainab Al-Suwaij from the American Islamic Congress, concurred in a “need to diversify the voices” among Muslims.  In particular, “certain organizations” in the United States habitually unnamed by her inappropriately claim to speak for all American Muslims.  Did she have in mind the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), whose representatives were in the AEI audience?

Islamic diversity and nuance formed Bryson’s antidote for aggressive and authoritarian Islamic agendas.  For the recentChattanooga jihadist, the “problem was that he was disconnected from the very rich and complex traditions of Islam” characterized by “ongoing discussion.”  Yet precisely such variety explained for Hamid Islam’s recurring malign manifestations throughout the world.  “If you want to find something in Islamic tradition to justify whatever you are doing,” he stated, “you probably will be able to find it somewhere because Islam is such a diverse, rich tradition.”

While groups like the Muslim Brotherhood or ISIL in fact have an anchoring in Islamic canons, protestations by Bryson and others of Islam’s diversity do not explain how benign Islamic views would necessarily overcome opposition.  Kadhim’s scriptural critiques could just as well call into question Islam in its entirety and outrage the devout as lead to religious refinement.  Haqqani’s appeal for Shiite-Sunni tolerance downplays recurrent historical hostility within a divided Dar al-Islam among theological groups whose cosmic conflicts are no less passionate than America’s Civil War.  Making Islam, a faith not known for accepting debate and discussion, into a true religion of peace will be difficult indeed.

Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School.  He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies.  He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

The Lure of Fantasy Islam

A Problem From Heaven – Why the United States Should Back Islam’s Reformation

Egyptian men read the Koran at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo,  September 2008 NASSER NURI / REUTERS

Egyptian men read the Koran at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, September 2008 NASSER NURI / REUTERS

Imagine a platform for Muslim dissidents that communicated their message through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Imagine ten reformist magazines for every one issue of the Islamic State’s Dabiq or al Qaeda’s Inspire. Imagine the argument for Islamic reform being available on radio and television in Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, and Urdu. Imagine grants and prizes for leading religious reformers. Imagine support for schools that act as anti-madrasahs.

Such a strategy would also give the United States an opportunity to shift its alliances to those Muslim individuals and groups that actually share its values and practices: those who fight for a true Muslim reformation and who currently find themselves maligned, if not persecuted, by the very governments Washington props up.

Foreign Affairs, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, June 16, 2015:

We have a problem—not a problem from hell, but one that claims to come from heaven. That problem is sometimes called radical, or fundamentalist, Islam, and the self-styled Islamic State is just its latest iteration. But no one really understands it. In the summer of 2014, Major General Michael Nagata, the commander of U.S. special operations forces in the Middle East, admitted as much when talking about the Islamic State, or ISIS. “We do not understand the movement,” he said. “And until we do, we are not going to defeat it.” Although Nagata’s words are striking for their candor, there is nothing new about the state of affairs they describe. For years, U.S. policymakers have failed to grasp the nature of the threat posed by militant Islam and have almost entirely failed to mount an effective counteroffensive against it on the battlefield that matters most: the battlefield of ideas.

In the war of ideas, words matter. Last September, U.S. President Barack Obama insisted that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” and later that month, he told the UN General Assembly that “Islam teaches peace.” In November, Obama condemned the beheading of the American aid worker Peter Kassig as “evil” but refused to use the term “radical Islam” to describe the ideology of his killers. The phrase is no longer heard in White House press briefings. The approved term is “violent extremism.”

The decision not to call violence committed in the name of Islam by its true name—jihad—is a strange one. It would be as if Western leaders during the Cold War had gone around calling communism an ideology of peace or condemning the Baader Meinhof Gang, a West German militant group, for not being true Marxists. It is time to drop the euphemisms and verbal contortions. A battle for the future of Islam is taking place between reformers and reactionaries, and its outcome matters. The United States needs to start helping the right side win.

TONGUE-TIED

How did the United States end up with a strategy based on Orwellian Newspeak? In the wake of 9/11, senior Bush administration officials sounded emphatic. “This is a battle for minds,” declared the Pentagon’s no. 2, Paul Wolfowitz, in 2002. But behind the scenes, there was a full-blown struggle going on about how to approach the subject of Islam. According to Joseph Bosco, who worked on strategic communications and Muslim outreach in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2004, although some American officials defined Islam as inherently peaceful, others argued that, like Christianity, it had to go through a reformation. Eventually, an uneasy compromise was reached. “We bridged the divide by saying that most contemporary Muslims practice their faith peacefully and tolerantly, but a small, radical minority aspires to return to Islam’s harsh seventh century origins,” Bosco wrote in The National Interest.

Administration officials could not even agree on the target of their efforts. Was it global terrorism or Islamic extremism? Or was it the alleged root causes—poverty, Saudi funding, past errors of U.S. foreign policy, or something else altogether? There were “agonizing” meetings on the subject, one participant told U.S. News & World Report. “We couldn’t clarify what path to take, so it was dropped.”

It did not help that the issue cut across traditional bureaucratic demarcations. Officers from the U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command argued for the integration of public diplomacy, press relations, and covert operations. State Department officials saw this as yet another attempt by the Pentagon to annex their turf. Veterans of the campaign trail warned against going negative on a religion—any religion—ahead of the 2004 election. For all these reasons, by the middle of that year, the Bush administration had next to no strategy. Government Accountability Office investigators told Congress that those responsible for public diplomacy at the State Department had no guidance. “Everybody who knows how to do this has been screaming,” one insider told U.S. News. But outside Foggy Bottom, no one could hear them scream.

Administration officials eventually settled on the “Muslim World Outreach” strategy, which relied partly on humanitarian projects carried out by the U.S. Agency for International Development and partly on Arabic-language media outlets funded by the U.S. government, such as Alhurra (a plain vanilla TV news channel) and Radio Sawa (a 24-hour pop music station that targets younger listeners). In effect, “Muslim World Outreach” meant not touching Islam at all. Karen Hughes, who was undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs from 2005 to 2007, has said that she “became convinced that our nation should avoid the language of religion in our discussion of terrorist acts.”

Here, if in few other respects, there has been striking continuity from Bush to Obama. From 2009 to 2011, Judith McHale served in the same position that Hughes had. “This effort is not about a ‘war of ideas,’ or winning the hearts and minds of huge numbers of people,” McHale said in 2012. “It’s about using digital platforms to reach that small but dangerous group of people around the world who are considering turning to terrorism and persuading them to instead turn in a different direction.” The whole concept of “violent extremism” implies that the United States is fine with people being extremists, so long as they do not resort to violence. Yet this line of reasoning fails to understand the crucial link between those who preach jihad and those who then carry it out. It also fails to understand that at a pivotal moment, the United States has opted out of a debate about Islam’s future.

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A Former Muslim’s Grave Warning to America

hirsi_ali-492x486American Thinker, By Matthew Vadum, June 11, 2015:

Islam “has begotten a bloodthirsty ideology that is determined to destroy the principles of liberty and humanity and basic decency,” ex-Muslim and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali said June 3 at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Hirsi Ali knows what she’s talking about.  Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, she was raised Muslim.  She spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia.  She fled as a refugee to the Netherlands in 1992, where she earned a political science degree and was elected to the Dutch House of Representatives.  After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Hirsi Ali renounced Islam.

Last week she accepted an award from the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which prides itself on “strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles and values that sustain and nurture it.”

Some in the conservative movement refer to the annual Bradley Prizes event, which was emceed this year by commentator George Will, as the “conservative Oscars.”  The other recipients this year were James W. Ceaser, a political science professor at the University of Virginia; Larry P. Arnn, president of Hillsdale College; and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War.

The late Christopher Hitchens called Hirsi Ali, whose former religion forced female circumcision on her, someone “of arresting and hypnotizing beauty,” and “a charismatic figure” who writes “with quite astonishing humor and restraint.”  In 2005, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

She famously said, “Islam is not a religion of peace.  It’s a political theory of conquest that seeks domination by any means it can.”

Her latest book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, was published in March by Harper.  (It was reviewed by Katherine Ernst in City Journal.)

“My argument is that it is foolish to insist, as our leaders habitually do, that the violent acts of radical Islamists can be divorced from the religious ideals that inspire them,” she writes in Heretic.  She continues:

Instead we must acknowledge that they are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in Islam itself, in the holy book of the Qur’an as well as the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad contained in the hadith.

Let me make my point in the simplest possible terms: Islam is not a religion of peace.

For expressing the idea that Islamic violence is rooted not in social, economic, or political conditions – or even in theological error – but rather in the foundational texts of Islam itself, I have been denounced as a bigot and an “Islamophobe.”  I have been silenced, shunned, and shamed.  In effect, I have been deemed to be a heretic, not just by Muslims – for whom I am already an apostate – but by some Western liberals as well, whose multicultural sensibilities are offended by such “insensitive” pronouncements … today, it seems, speaking the truth about Islam is a crime.  “Hate speech” is the modern term for heresy.  And in the present atmosphere, anything that makes Muslims feel uncomfortable is branded as “hate.”

In the book, Hirsi Ali writes that it is her goal “to make many people – not only Muslims but also Western apologists for Islam – uncomfortable” by “challenging centuries of religious orthodoxy with ideas and arguments that I am certain will be denounced as heretical.”

“My argument is for nothing less than a Muslim Reformation,” she writes.  “Without fundamental alterations to some of Islam’s core concepts, I believe, we shall not solve the burning and increasingly global problem of political violence carried out in the name of religion.”

In her remarks at the Kennedy Center, Hirsi Ali summarized what brought her to this point and what needs to be done.  With the exception of the opening pleasantries, here follows a transcript of this brave woman’s speech:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bradley Foundation is committed to strengthening American democratic capitalism and the institutions, principles, and values that sustain and nurture it.  It supports limited, competent government, a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity and a vigorous defense at home and abroad of American ideas and institutions.

It may same strange to you that I, an immigrant black woman from a Muslim family, should identify so strongly with those goals.  Let me explain to you why I do.  There are three reasons.

First, it’s because my life’s journey which has taken me from Somalia to Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia to Kenya to the Netherlands and finally here, could not have been better designed to make me appreciate American principles and American institutions.

Second, I think I can justly say that I was among the first in my age group of millions of Muslims to admit that our faith, no longer mine, has begotten a bloodthirsty ideology that is determined to destroy the principles of liberty and humanity and basic decency.

Even after 9/11 there are still those who naively believe that it’s a threat only in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  The reality as our general [i.e. Jack Keane] just laid out, is that it is now a global threat.  A recent report by the United Nations Security Council confirmed that more than 100 countries are now supplying recruits to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the United States is one of them.

This year alone the number of U.S.-based individuals in Islamic terror-related cases has risen to 40.  What concerns me is not jihad, or it’s not only jihad.  It’s also the nonviolent activities from preaching to fundraising that are its essential seedbed.  Often those who engage in these activities are very skillful at representing themselves as moderates.

Let me quote you the words of Abdurahman Alamoudi, a founder of the American Muslim Council, who at one time was an Islamic advisor to President Clinton and a goodwill ambassador to the State Department, as well as being consulted by some eminent Republicans.

“We have a chance,” he declared to a Muslim audience, “to be the moral leadership of America.  It will happen, it will happen praise Allah the Exalted.  I have no doubt in my mind.  It depends on me and you, either we do it now or we do it after a hundred years, but this country will become a Muslim country.”

That is the authentic voice of a plot against America today.  I am glad to report that Alamoudi is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for financial and conspiracy offenses involving the Libyan government and the al-Qaeda plot to assassinate the then-crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Third, and finally, I have come to see that there is a creative threat close to American institutions, the ones opposed by those within the West who appease the Islamic extremists.

Last September our president insisted the Islamic State is not Islamic.  Later that month he told the U.N. General Assembly that Islam teaches peace.  Phrases like “radical Islam” and “Islamic extremism” are no longer heard in the White House press conferences.

The approved term is “violent extremism.”  Ladies and gentlemen, if we don’t define the problem, if we can’t bring ourselves to define the problem, then how on earth can we ever hope to solve it?  [audience applauds]

The decision not to call violence committed in the name of Islam by its true name is a very strange one.  Imagine if Western leaders during the Cold War had gone around calling Communism an ideology of peace or condemning the Baader-Meinhof Gang for not being true Marxists.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it is time to drop the euphemisms and verbal contortions.  As I argue in my most recent book, Heretic, a battle for the future of Islam is taking place between reformers and reactionaries, between dissidents and jihadists, with the majority of Muslims caught in the middle unsure which side to take.  The outcome matters, matters to Muslims but it matters to us and to global peace, and the United States needs to start helping the right side to win.

Sometimes people who want to smear me use the sham term, “Islamophobe,” which is designed to imply that those who scrutinize Islamic extremism are bigots.  Well, I may have a phobia, but it’s not directed against Muslims.  After all I used to be one.  My phobia is towards any ideology, whether it is Communism, Fascism, or Islamism, that threatens individual freedom and the institutions that protect those freedoms.

That is why I am so grateful and so proud to accept this honor from you tonight.

Thank you, very, very much.

Hirsi Ali’s personal story bears some resemblance to that of Dutch politician Geert Wilders.  Wilders is a member of the Dutch House of Representatives and leader of his country’s Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV), or in English, the Party for Freedom.

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Uncovered: Bin Laden Concerned About Reformist Muslims

Osama Bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro. June 2, 2015:

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a list of declassified letters and open-source reading material found inside Osama Bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. Among the items were documents that likely include the name of Clarion Project counter-terrorism analyst Ryan Mauro and other files indicating that the Al-Qaeda chief was concerned about modernist Muslim reformers.

Three of the 10 miscellaneous documents that were retrieved are from the 2007 Intelligence Summit held in St. Petersburg, Florida, specifically the conference advertising, exhibitor prospectus and participants map. As one of the featured speakers, Mauro’s name and biography would be in the material. The event was billed as the most prestigious intelligence conference in the country.

It is unclear why the event caught Bin Laden’s attention but it was likely the section of the event called the Secular Islam Summit, which featured anti-Islamist Muslims and former Muslims calling for a reformation in Islam in accordance with secular-democracy and modern human rights. The Summit unveiled the St. Petersburg Declaration rejecting Sharia governance and Islamism.

Muslim speakers at the event included Iranian activist Manda Zand Ervin who is featured in our film, Honor Diaries; Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former associate of current Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri;  Tashbih Sayyed, editor-in-chief of Pakistan Today and The Muslim World Today; Hasan Mahmud of the Free Muslims Coalition, Jordanian writer Shaker al-Nabulsi and Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity and designated terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates, attacked the Secular Islam Summit.

CAIR board chairman Parvez Ahmed claimed it had no legitimacy and inaccurately characterized its speakers as entirely former Muslims and foes of Islam. CAIR criticized the event for drawing a connection between Islamic teachings and terrorism and accused it of promoting Islamophobia.

Genieve Abdo, a keynote speaker at a CAIR fundraiser, took CAIR’s stance in the Washington Post. She applauded CAIR for having “denounced any notion of a Reformation as another attempt by the West to impose its history and philosophy on the Islamic world.”

Abdo argued that CAIR is more representative of Muslims and so the Secular Islam Summit should be dismissed. She also cited another curious figure as a preferable source over the Summit’s: The radical imam of New York-based Masjid at-Taqwa, Siraj Wahhaj.

Abdo portrayed Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood as the future of Islam. She advised the West to accept that its “hopes for full integration by Muslims in the West are unlikely to be realized and that the future of the Islamic world will be much more Islamic than Western.”

“The political future of the Arab world is likely to consist of Islamic parties that are far less tolerant of what has historically been the U.S. foreign policy agenda in the region and that domestically are far more committed to implementing sharia law in varying degrees,” Abdo wrote.

Bin Laden’s bookshelf also included a RAND Corporation study titled Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources and Strategies by Cheryl Benard. It concluded that U.S. should support Muslim modernists first; support Muslim traditionalists against the fundamentalists; confront and oppose fundamentalists and selectively support secularists.

Bin Laden either requested these materials about Muslim movements against Islamism or his closest aides felt they would peak his interest. At the very least, he was not dismissive of their significance otherwise they would not have invested time to retrieve and presumably review them.

If the highest echelons of Al-Qaeda viewed anti-Islamist Muslim activists as worth paying attention to, then so should we.

****

Here are the videos of the conference: (Playlist)

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Press Conference PT2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 1 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 2 Pt3

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 3 Pt2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 1

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 2

Secular Islam Summit Panel 4 pt 3

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT1

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT2

Secular Islam Summit – Panel 5 PT3