‘The Real Bomb Is in Islam’s Books’

Front Page Magazine, by Raymond Ibrahim, May 3, 2017:

During his visit to Egypt last week, “Pope Francis visited al-Azhar University, a globally respected institution for Sunni Islamic learning,” and “met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of the government-run Al-Azhar mosque and an Islamic philosophy professor.”  This has been reported by several media and with much fanfare.

The problem is that Sheikh Tayeb, once voted “world’s most influential Muslim,” and Al Azhar, the important madrassa he heads, are part of the problem, not the solution.  Tayeb is a  renowned master of exhibiting one face to fellow Muslims in Egypt—one that supports the death penalty for “apostates,” calls for the totality of Sharia-rule, refuses to denounce ISIS of being un-Islamic, denounces all art as immoral, and rejects the very concept of reforming Islam—and another face to non-Muslims.

Consider, for instance, the words of Islam al-Behery—a popular Egyptian Muslim reformer who frequently runs afoul of Islamists in Egypt who accuse him of blasphemy and apostasy from Islam.  The day after the suicide bombings of two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, the Muslim scholar was interviewed by phone on a popular Egyptian television program (Amr Adib’s kul youm, or “Every Day”).  He spent most of his time on the air blasting Al Azhar and Ahmed al-Tayeb—at one point going so far as to say that “70-80 percent of all terror in the last 5 years is a product of Al Azhar.”

The reformer knows what he speaks of; in 2015, al- Behery’s televised calls to reform Islam so irked Al Azhar that the venerable Islamic institution accused him of “blaspheming” against Islam, which led to his imprisonment.

Now Behery says that, ever since President Sisi implored Al Azhar to make reforms to how Islam is being taught in Egypt three years ago, the authoritative madrassa “has not reformed a single thing,” only offered words.  “If they were sincere about one thing, they would have protected hundreds, indeed thousands of lives from being killed in just Egypt alone, said al-Behery.

By way of examples, the scholar of Islam pointed out that Al Azhar still uses books in its curriculum which teach things like “whoever kills an infidel, his blood is safeguarded, for the blood of an infidel and believer [Muslim] are not equal.”  Similarly, he pointed to how Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb claims that ISIS members are not infidels, only deluded Muslims; but those whom they kill—such as the bombed Christians—are infidels, the worst label in Islam’s lexicon.

Debating Behery was an Al Azhar spokesman who naturally rejected the reformer’s accusations against the Islamic madrassa, adding that the source of problems in Egypt is not the medieval institution, but rather “new” ideas that came to Egypt from 20th century “radicals” like Hasan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb, founding leaders/ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Behery’s response was refreshing; those many Western analysts who follow the same line of thinking—that “radicalism” only came after thinkers like Bana, Qutb, Mawdudi (in Pakistan) or Wahhab (in Arabia) came on the scene—would do well to listen.  After saying that “blaming radicalism on these men is very delusional,” the reformer correctly added:

The man who kills himself [Islamic suicide bomber] today doesn’t kill himself because of the words of Hasan al-Bana or Sayyid al-Qutb, or anyone else.  He kills himself because of what the consensus of the ulema, and the four schools of jurisprudence, have all agreed to.  Hasan al-Bana did not create these ideas [of jihad against infidels and apostates, destroying churches, etc.]; they’ve been around for many, many centuries….   I am talking about Islam [now], not how it is being taught in schools.

By way of example, Behery said if anyone today walks into any Egyptian mosque or bookstore and ask for a book that contains the rulings of the four schools of jurisprudence, “everything that is happening today will be found in them; killing the people of the book [Christians and Jews] is obligatory.  Let’s not start kidding each other and blaming such thoughts on Hassan al-Bana!”  Moreover, Behery said:

There is a short distance between what is written in all these old books and what happened yesterday [Coptic church bombings]—the real bomb is in the books, which repeatedly call the People of the Book “infidels,” which teach that the whole world is infidel…  Hassan al-Bana and Sayyid al-Qutb are not the source of the terror, rather they are followers of these books.  Spare me with the term Qutbism which has caused the nation to suffer terrorism for 50 years.

Behery does not blame Al Azhar for the existence of these books; rather he, like many reformers, wants the Islamic institution to break tradition, denounce the rulings of the four schools of law as the products of fallible mortals, and reform them in ways compatible to the modern world.  He said that, whereas Egypt’s former grand imam, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi (d. 2010), had “without even being asked removed all the old books and placed just one introductory book, when al-Tayeb [who days ago embraced Pope Francis] came, he got rid of that book and brought all the old books back, which are full of slaughter and bloodshed.”

In short, Behery called on the Egyptian government—and here the Vatican would do well to listen—not to rely on Al Azhar to make any reforms, since if anything it has taken Egypt backwards.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). 

Can Islam ever be reformed?

In case you missed it:  you can view Jasser’s rant here, Robert Spencer’s response here, and Pamela Geller’s response here.

American Thinker, by Nonie Darwish, April 29, 2017:

Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser has recently attacked leaders of the anti-Jihad movement in America. He equated them with jihadists when he called them the derogatory word, alt-jihadists, meaning that Americans who speak and write against the evils of Islamic jihad and sharia are just as bad as jihadists. Jasser attacked by name freedom fighters like Stephen Kirby, John Guandolo, Diana West, Clare Lopez, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spender and Pamela Geller.

Jasser claims that he coined the word ‘alt-jihadists’ but in fact Arab media beat him to it when they equated vocal anti-jihad leaders with jihadists. To silence critics of jihad and Islam, Muslim media have habitually come down hard on critics of jihad and Islam and treated them worse than terrorists.

Traditionally, Arab media placed terrorists on a pedestal and called anyone who discouraged jihad “apostates.” But after 9/11, when the evils of Islamic jihad became clear to the world, Arab media was caught in a quagmire; it could no longer openly applaud jihadists who were the heroes of Muslim society. They had to blame critics of jihad who were exposing Islam’s dirty little secret. Thus Arab media started a campaign to equate critics of Islam, sharia and jihad with terrorists.

In 2007 a horrific article was written against Wafa Sultan and myself in the cover of a prominent Egyptian magazine Rose El Yousef, in which we were both condemned as “apostates” who are just as bad as Muslim terrorists, Taliban leaders and the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who caused the 1993 world trade center bombing. Note that the Egyptian magazine did not place a photo of Usama Bin Laden, because he was popular among many Muslims.

The article which was entitled “American Style Islam” had Sultan and myself together with three well known Islamists and terrorists wrapped in an American flag that insinuated that America was responsible for creating both terrorists and apostates. The message to the average Arab reader was that Islam had nothing to do with all this worldwide fear of Islam and that America is allowing apostates to speak out against the peaceful Islam. The article warned Muslims against listening or reading such claims coming from America regarding Islam and that all this evil by terrorists is a creation of America.

Articles like that in Arab media were also aimed at scaring and silencing both Sultan and myself. Death threats became a daily part of our life that we had to put up with as price for speaking out to warn America. The progressive Left in America even believed Arab media and joined them in branding us “Islamophobes.”

I have always respected what Zuhdi Jasser was trying to do and avoided contradicting him in public, even though I do not believe that Islam is reformable. I have kept my opinion to myself regarding the false hope Muslim reformers are giving to the Americans regarding Islam. But when Jasser attacked leaders of the anti-jihad movement in America I decided to speak out.

Jasser knows that Arab media calls him ‘apostate’ and ‘Islamophobe’ for his efforts to reform Islam and for his attacks on jihad and sharia. Islam by its nature is considered perfect and unchangeable and any attempt to reform it is considered apostasy.

The majority of Muslims and Arab media have shunned Zuhdi Jasser as an apostate and an Islamophobe. Some of Jasser’s Muslim supporters whom I know personally are in fact apostates, but are trying to help in any way to reform Islam.

Below is an article in Arab media in which critics of Islam, reformers and apostates are all called traitor ‘Islamophobles’ and guess who was included in this attack? Yes Zuhdi Jasser, Walid Shoebat, Walid Fares and myself.

I am not sure what is Jasser’s motivation in attacking leaders of the counter-jihad movement in America, but my guess is that Jasser wishes to get on the good side of Islamic leaders and media in the hope they will start accepting him as Muslim.

Jasser’s reformation movement and criticism of Islam, sharia and jihad have mostly brought Jasser rejection and isolation from the Islamic community. Jasser’s movement, however, have succeeded in convincing US media that there is good and reformable Islam. The West is desperately trying to find that ‘good’ Islam and Jasser is an eloquent representative of that  who meets that need in the West.

But suddenly Jasser discovered that all he has was approval from Western media, but total rejection by the Islamic community, and he had to start appealing to Islam. The seeming solution was to throw a bone to the Muslim community by attacking leaders of the counter-jihad movement. But I refuse to stand by watching the reputation of honorable Americans being smeared in order for the Muslim community to approve of Jasser. I also do not think that this will work, because Jasser has gone too far in his criticism of sharia and jihad and he will not be able to take that back.

The reform Islam movement is nothing new and Muslims have attempted to reform Islam for fourteen hundred years and always failed. Leaders of such movements were often beheaded for apostasy. Jihad and sharia are foundational principles of Islam and no mincing of words will change that. That in addition to lying, deception and terror as approved Islamic tools to stay in control, could never help any reform movement to build on. How can anyone build on a foundation of lies and violence? But the so-called reformers tell us they can and that keeps American media happy and that is all that counts.

Nonie Darwish Author “Wholly Different; why I chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values”

***

 Dr. Stephen M. Kirby’s response in Militant Islam Monitor March 18, 2017:

Zuhdi Jasser Blames “Alt-Jihadists” For The Failure Of Aspiring Muslim Reformers

“Fantasy Islam: A game in which an audience of non-Muslims wish with all their hearts that Islam was a “Religion of Peace,” and a Muslim strives to fulfill that wish by presenting a personal version of Islam that has little foundation in Islamic Doctrine.”

I read Dr. Zuhdi Jasser’s recent article titled “There’s An Emerging ‘Alt-Jihad’ Movement in the U.S. – But It’s Not Muslims Who Are Pushing It.” The fact that he repeatedly mentioned me as one of the “Alt-Jihadists” was no surprise, as he has done this previously. What I found disappointing was his reliance on vague, sweeping statements such as:

“The insidious, myopic, and extreme nature” of the Alt-Jihad.

“The alt-jihad is simple, simplistic, self-serving and dangerous.”

“Alt-jihadists live in a world where truth and intellectual credibility are optional.”

“…the alt-jihad are useful idiots for Islamist jihadists…”

These are not useful phrases if one is serious about discussing the viability of his quest for “Muslim reform.”

However, they are useful phrases for deflecting folks away from the real reasons aspiring “Muslim reformers” like Jasser are failing. As I wrote in an article sometime back, there arereasons why “Muslim reformers” are failing that have nothing to do with the “Alt-Jihad”:

1.”Reformers” create their own new versions of Islam, relying on their own personal opinions and interpretations,and arbitrarily dismissing aspects of Islamic history and centuries of established Muslim scholarship. An example of this is when Jasser recently told Glenn Beck that in order to “reform” Islam, they needed to “come up with” modern myths about Muhammad in order to create “an American type of Islam”; here is what Jasser said:

“We have to come up — call it mythology. Call it what you want. We have to come up with narratives of the Prophet Muhammad that are 21st century narratives and call that reform and renew the branding of Islam to an American type of Islam that’s compatible with our Constitution.”

Jasser is saying that the history of Muhammad, reported over the centuries by authoritative Muslim scholars, is disturbing to 21st Century readers and therefore needs to be recreated.

2.”Reformers” 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 their Prophet Muhammad (the examples, ways, and teachings of Muhammad that have become rules to be followed by Muslims). Verses in the Koran (e.g. 4:80, 4:115, 33:21 and 59:7) command Muslims to obey and follow the example of Muhammad; Muhammad’s commands and examples are found in the Sunnah. Jasser has not talked about dismissing the entire Sunnah, but with his quest to come up with a new “mythology” about Muhammad he will have to dismiss the parts which make folks uncomfortable in the 21st Century; this means most of the Sunnah will have to go under Jasser’s plan. 3.”Reformers” go against the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad by picking and choosing among, and actually dismissing verses in the Koran. For example, in his book “A Battle for the Soul of Islam” (2013 Paperback Edition, p. 252) Jasser made the following statement:

“Nowhere in the Qur’an does God tell Muslims that they must repeat and thus emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s role and actions as a military or governmental leader.”

What Jasser ignored was Chapter 33, Verse 21 of the Koran:

“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.”

There are no limitations here on the circumstances in which Muhammad is to be considered a good example. In fact, as authoritative Koran commentaries (tafsirs) have pointed out for centuries, this verse was actually “revealed” as a result of Muhammad’s military leadership and the example he set for his Muslim warriors during the Battle of the Trench in 627 (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 7, p. 658; Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, p. 900; Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, p. 546; and Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 4, p. 374).

4.”Reformers” personally decide which hadiths (reports about the teachings of Muhammad) are authentic, again arbitrarily dismissing centuries of established Muslim scholarship. For example, in a 2010 radio interview Jasser said he didn’t believe that Muhammad had really spoken what was in the hadith about killing a Jew hiding behind every stone (Time: 17:58). Here is that hadith:

Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'”

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, No. 2926, p. 113

The collection of hadiths by Bukhari has been considered by Muslim scholars to be the most authoritative collect ofhadiths since the 9th Century. Jasser simply had no doctrinal basis for dismissing Bukhari; it was just his personal opinion.

5.As a result, according to Jasser’s prophet Muhammad the “reformer’s” beliefs are heretical. Here is what Muhammad had to say about this:

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

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, Vol. 3, No. 2539, p. 455

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

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 a 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.

I am not against the theory of “reforming” Islam. At our debate in Omaha some time back, I even told Jasser that I liked his version of Islam better than the version of Islam taught by his prophet Muhammad. But the reality is that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims follow the Islam of Muhammad, not the Islam of Zuhdi Jasser. And I also pointed out that he had noIslamic Doctrinal authority for how he wanted to change Islam and that, in fact, the changes he wanted to make actually violated Islamic Doctrine; Jasser disagreed because he maintained that each Muslim had the right to determine their own Islam. Such is Fantasy Islam, and this is why Zuhdi Jasser and his ilk are failing, all by themselves.

Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of four books about Islam. His latest book is Islam’s Militant Prophet: Muhammad and Forced Conversions to Islam.

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Weaponization of Political Correctness

Secure Freedom Radio, Jim Hanson interview with Dr. James Mitchell, April 19, 2017:

Dr. JAMES MITCHELL, Key architect of the CIA’s Enhanced Interrogation Program, author of Enhanced Interrogation: Inside the Minds of the Islamic Terrorists Trying to Destroy America:

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

  • Effectiveness of enhanced interrogation
  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s prediction that America would defeat itself

(PART TWO):

Podcast (podcast2): Play in new window | Download

  • The obligation to jihad
  • Terrorism funding through zakat

(PART THREE):

Podcast (podcast3): Play in new window | Download

  • Islamic reform

(PART FOUR):

Podcast (podcast4): Play in new window | Download

  • Three ways to vet immigrants
  • Social media factor analysis

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s Long Road to Islamic Reform

Egyptian Leader Al-Sisi.

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, April 20, 2017:

“There has been a lot of positive symbolism” from Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi regarding Islamic reform but little action, stated former American Ambassador Alberto Fernandez on April 3 in Washington, DC.  He and his fellow Hudson Institute panelists examined the enormous difficulties confronting any reform of the doctrines underlying various jihadist agendas even as America’s new President Donald Trump prioritizes counterterrorism.

Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea opened the panel before a lecture room filled with about 70 listeners by noting the Sisi-Trump White House meeting at that very moment.  Shea observed that America’s important ally Egypt is the most populous Arab country (94 million people) with a quarter of all Arab speakers in the world.  Egypt also has the Middle East’s largest Christian community, the Copts, accounting for an estimated ten percent of Egypt’s population, more than all the Jews in Israel.

Addressing Trump’s meeting with Sisi, Fernandez stated that the “number one issue in for this administration in this regard is obviously writ large the counterterrorism issue,” particularly concerning defeating the Islamic State.  He emphasized the necessity “to find creative, smart, aggressive ways to challenge the appeal of the default ideology in the Middle East today,” namely “some type of Islamism.”  Such ideologies had a long history, as in the 1970s “Egypt was the proving ground for all of this stuff that we saw with Al Qaeda and the Islamic State” involving atrocities against Mesopotamia’s Christians and other minorities.  He recalled visiting Egypt as a young diplomat for the first time in 1984 and seeing policemen guarding every Christian church and cemetery, an indication of this community’s peril.

Hudson Institute Senior Fellow Samuel Tadros, himself a Copt, stated that “there is no doubt that the Islamist message is appealing in Egypt” and reprised his previous analysis of Islamism.  “Islamism seeks to create a state that connects heaven and earth,” an ideology that is still credible in the public imagination and has no viable contenders in the marketplace of ideas.  Despite repeated failures to create this idealized state by groups like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, the “basic premises of Islamism make sense for an average Egyptian.”

Fernandez and Tadros accordingly dashed any high hopes raised by Sisi’s 2015 New Year’s Day address on Islamic reform to Al Azhar University in Cairo, often considered Sunni Islam’s preeminent theological authority.  Tadros stated that the speech “was general, it was unprepared” while Fernandez noted that “Sisi kind of put out a very enticing marker but there is a lot of work that has to happen which hasn’t even begun yet.”  Although globally the “speech that Sisi gave was very well received,” the follow-on reminded Fernandez of the Arab proverb “she was pregnant with a mountain but gave birth to a mouse.”

While “there is a tremendous amount of space for Islamist extremism in Egypt still” as the 2015 blasphemy conviction of an Egyptian talk show host showed, Fernandez remained unimpressed with Sisi’s Islamic reform advocacy.

There has been a nibbling around the edges.  But you cannot say that the Egyptian government has done something which would be truly revolutionary, that has never happened in the Arab world, which is to have a government on the level of ideology, on the level of textbooks, on the level of the religious establishment really embrace a kind of liberal reinterpretation of problematic texts and concepts that are used by Salafi-jihadists and by Islamists.

“While Washington has welcomed this talk a lot, there are actually a lot of limits to what Sisi can offer in this regard,” Tadros warned.  Sisi “would like to see a reform of the religious discourse, but he has no plan, plus he has to deal with the reality of Al Azhar” as his appeals to reform easy divorce laws had shown.  The “answer from Al Azhar was a very clear public humiliation of the president….This is not debatable, this is the religion as it is; basically don’t talk about these issues.”

Given Sisi’s societal circumstances, Fernandez noted that “even the weak tea that we see with that symbolism actually provokes a reaction” from Islamists like an Islamic State video attacking Sisi as a “slave of the cross.”  Fernandez and Tadros likewise discussed rampant antisemitism permeating Egyptian society as exemplified by Fernandez’s last visit to Egypt three years ago.  The bookstore of the five-star Intercontinental Semiramis Hotel where he was staying had an entire shelf of anti-Semitic literature including the Jew-hatred staple, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and books featuring vampires with Stars of David.

Such intellectual poison is unsurprising given Tadros’ assessment that the “Egyptian educational system remains a disaster; it simply teaches nothing about the outside world.”  A Christian Egyptian friend astounded him once when she related the inquiry of her fellow journalist about where her fiancée would spend his wedding night.  On the basis of the movie Braveheart, the inquiring journalist had obtained the bizarre belief that Coptic women spend their first night of marriage having sex with a Coptic priest.

For Tadros, the journalist’s pitiful ignorance about Copts is no anomaly, even though they are the indigenous people of an Egypt Islamicized after a seventh century Arab conquest.  Among Egyptian Muslims there is an “absence of any actual information about people that they have shared 14 centuries of living together.”  This allows “all these superstitions, these conspiracy theorists, this propaganda by Islamists to fill that vacuum.”

The only bright spot in the panel appeared in Tadros’ estimation most Egyptians considered Sisi, who came to power in a 2013 military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, as the only current acceptable political alternative.  “There are huge human rights abuses in the country, but it is also a very popular regime.  I have no doubt that even in free and fair elections President Sisi would win.”  He represents a “certain rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood, a demand for a return to normalcy, to stability.”

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.

Should Western Governments Empower Reformist Muslims?

My friend Dan Miller has written a thought provoking piece making the case for supporting Reformist Muslims. His argument rests on this main assertion:

I believe that we should help the Muslim reformation to enhance the ability of American Muslims to accept the parts of Islam they want and to reject the parts they don’t want.

This is an issue that I have been grappling with for some time. I have watched many debates and listened to the opinions of ex-Muslims versus Reformist Muslims, most recently in Gaad Saad interviews which I find very informative. I have studied Islamic Doctrine contained in the trilogy as well as the important and influential works by Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, S. K. Malik and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. One of my main areas of focus has been the Muslim Brotherhood and their insidious ciilization jihad.

While I usually limit my comments on this blog, having made the decision early on to maintain a “just the facts, Ma’am” approach to a counter jihad news aggregation site, I feel it is time to lay out my position on reform of Islam and the political considerations in official government support of reformists.

First of all, I think we need to be careful with our terminology. I will refer to Islamic Doctrine instead of “Islam” because when people hear the word Islam they automatically think we are referring to the doctrine as well as all Muslims. Second, I do not believe it is helpful to add qualifiers such as “radical” before the words Islam or jihad. Individual Muslims may be “moderate” but Islamic Doctrine is radical. Qualifiers are used in order to not offend Muslims. The terms Islamism, Islamist and political Islam are okay with me because in my mind they denote orthodox Islamic activism.

We must not conflate what indvidual Muslims believe with what Islamic Doctrine says. Islamic Doctrine is fixed. There are many passages in the Quran that warn Muslims against using critical thought to reinterpret the word of Allah. The Sunnah of  Mohammad (Hadith and Sira) also warns against this and Muslims scholars have declared  the “gates of ijtihad” to be closed. Therefore, I consider reformists to actually be “rejectionists” who will have to somehow abrogate all of the content they deem to be incompatible with modernity. This is probably an impossible undertaking since Al-Azhar, the only central authority on Islam, will never agree to it. And it would take generations to achieve the type of cultural and political changes that would be required to effect a reform that the majority of Muslims could agree on. My personal wish is that more Muslims will leave Islam as they learn more about the misogyny, jihad and bigotry in their doctrine.

Most Muslims are not well versed on Islamic Doctrine and rely on their Imams to inform them. This includes some reformers. Westernized Muslims are loathe to confront the ugly truth inherent in their religion. But a public awareness campaign is absolutely necessary and reformers must be held to account on what Islamic Doctrine actually says. This includes sharia. So far, I have not been convinced that reformers like Zhudi Jasser, Raheel Razza and Majid Nawaz are being totally honest about it. But they are at least trying. And to the extent that their efforts are publicized, the worldwide debate advances. More debate is a good thing!

I agree with Dan that we should not judge who is a real Muslim or not. Muslims themselves do enough of that with violent consequences. Rather, we should recognize that some self-identifying Muslims do not adhere strictly to Islamic Doctrine. With support in the West, their numbers may grow.  There are probably many Muslims who are secret apostates.

This brings me to the central question I am pondering here. Should Western governments empower Reformist Muslims? Would their numbers increase enough to make a difference with government sponsorship? Would this be a waste of taxpayer money? Whether you believe that Islamic Doctrine can be reformed or not, should we at least support those who are  willing to try? Should we try to help create a safe space for Muslims to criticize their religion? Can reformist Muslims help with counterterrrorism efforts? If the Muslim Brotherhood is declared a terrorist organization, could we transfer control of American Mosques to reform minded Muslims? As long as we are strictly honest about what Islamic Doctrine says, I am inclined to say yes.

What do you think?

***

American Security and Islamic Reform

muslims

The government must vet aliens for sharia-supremacist ideology.

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy — February 11, 2017

‘Do you think Islam needs reform?”

Wouldn’t it be interesting, wouldn’t it get us to the crux of the immigration debate, if our best news anchors — I’m looking at you, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier — would put that question to every major politician in Washington?

Instead, the press is asking not just the wrong question but one that utterly misses the point, namely: “How many terrorist attacks have been committed by immigrants from this handful of Muslim-majority countries?” It is the same wrong question posed by the imperious federal judge in Seattle who suspended President Trump’s temporary travel ban on aliens from those countries — seven of them. It is the same wrong question that animated the incorrigible Ninth Circuit appeals court in upholding this suspension — and intimating along the way that Trump, and by implication all who fear for the future of our country, are anti-Muslim bigots crusading against religious liberty (the Ninth Circuit being notoriously selective when it comes to protecting religious traditions).

Does the Trump administration realize it’s the wrong question? I wonder. Instead of attacking the question’s premise, the administration undertakes to answer it. It seems not to grasp that the security argument is not advanced, much less won, by compiling a list of terrorist plots.

Let’s try this again.

Islam does need reform. This is critical to our national security for two reasons that bear directly on the question of which aliens should, and which should not, be allowed into our country.

First, reform is essential because the broader Islamic religion includes a significant subset of Muslims who adhere to an anti-American totalitarian political ideology that demands implementation of sharia — Islamic law. This ideology and the repressive legal code on which it rests are not religion. We are not talking about the undeniably theological tenets of Islam (e.g., the oneness of Allah, the acceptance of Mohamed as the final prophet, and the Koran as Allah’s revelation). We are talking about a framework for the political organization of the state, and about the implementation of a legal corpus that is blatantly discriminatory, hostile to liberty, and — in its prescriptions of crime and punishment — cruel.

Islam must reform so that this totalitarian political ideology, sharia supremacism (or, if you prefer, “radical Islam”), is expressly severable from Islam’s truly religious tenets. To fashion an immigration policy that serves our vital national security interests without violating our commitment to religious liberty, we must be able to exclude sharia supremacists while admitting Muslims who reject sharia supremacism and would be loyal to the Constitution.

Second, sharia supremacists are acting on a “voluntary apartheid” strategy of gradual conquest. You needn’t take my word for it. Influential sharia supremacists encourage Muslims of the Middle East and North Africa to integrate into Western societies without assimilating Western culture. The renowned Muslim Brotherhood jurist Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who vows that “Islam will conquer Europe, conquer America,” urges Muslim migrants to demand the right to live in accordance with sharia. Turkey’s sharia-supremacist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, admonishes that pressuring Muslims to assimilate is “a crime against humanity.” The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of 57 Muslim governments that purports to speak as a quasi-caliphate, promulgated its “Declaration of Human Rights in Islam” in 1990 — precisely because what the United Nations in 1948 presumptuously called the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is neither “universal” nor suitable to a sharia culture.

Voluntary apartheid does not require insinuating terrorists into migrant populations. It requires insinuating assimilation-resistant migrant populations into Western countries. Those populations form sharia-supremacist enclaves, which (a) demand the autonomy to conduct their affairs under Islamic law as a challenge to the sovereign authority of the host country, and (b) become safe havens for incitement, radicalization, paramilitary training, fundraising, and jihadist conspiracy — the prerequisites for terrorism.

The problem is not that our “See No Islam” policies may be letting some small percentage of trained terrorists into the country (although that is certainly a problem). The main problem is that we are creating the conditions under which anti-American enclaves can take root, the Constitution can be undermined, and today’s young Muslim teenager becomes tomorrow’s radicalized jihadist.

RELATED: Weeding Out Terrorist Immigrants Isn’t Enough

We cannot grapple with these challenges if we are intimidated into silence by such questions as whether a “Muslim ban” is being proposed; whether heightened scrutiny would be tantamount to a “religion test”; how many refugees or aliens from this or that Muslim-majority country have been charged with terrorism crimes; whether Muslims would be disproportionately affected by immigration exclusions; and whether a ban on a few Muslim-majority countries can be justified if most Muslim-majority countries are exempted.

Such questions are designed to make vetting Muslims seem inconceivable. They are meant to exhaust you into conceding: “If we have to fret so mightily about the potential impact of immigration laws against Muslims, how could we possibly contemplate examining Muslims directly to sort out sharia supremacists from pro-American Muslims?” You are to pretend that there is no obvious subset of Muslims who are hostile to our country. You are to assume that screening for hostile Muslims would be illegal because to ask about Islam would offend religious liberty — but because you know there are hostile Muslims, you silently hope the authorities have figured out some sneaky, roundabout way to screen for them without appearing to screen for them.

Enough of that. We need to move beyond the “are we targeting Muslims” nonsense and get to the critical question: How do we embrace our Islamic friends while excluding our sharia-supremacist enemies?

Here’s a suggestion: Bring our Muslim friends, loud and proud, into the process.

The only people who may have more interest than we do in Islamic reform are Islamic reformers: courageous Muslims who embrace American constitutional principles of liberty and equality. And at great risk to themselves: Under the supremacist view of sharia, those who depart from Islamic-law principles set in stone a millennium ago are apostates, subject to the penalty of death. You’re not supposed to question that, though, because it’s, you know, “religion.”

How about we stop consulting with the Muslim Brotherhood and other sharia supremacists who tell us Islam is just fine as is, even as its aggressions mount? How about we bring the reformers very publicly into the vetting process, to help the administration tell the good guys from the bad guys? To help the administration show that it is not Muslims but anti-American totalitarians that we seek to exclude.

It is the reform Muslims who tell us that Islam can separate sharia from spiritual life and that pro-Western Muslims do exactly that. It is the sharia supremacists who are outraged by the very suggestion that reform is possible, let alone necessary. If we continue taking our cues from the latter, it means that their noxious political ideology is part and parcel of Islam, and therefore that screening to keep that ideology out of our country is a violation of First Amendment religious liberty.

In other words, if you’re unwilling to say that Islam needs reform, then we can’t vet . . . and we are doomed. On the other hand, if Islam does need reform, isn’t it imperative that we identify the Muslims who resist reform — the sharia supremacists who seek not to join but to radically change our free, constitutional society?

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

Israeli Ambassador to USA Slams SPLC for “Practicing Intolerance”

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Ambassador Ron Dermer said that the Southern Poverty Law Center claims to defend tolerance for those who “look different,” but works to suppress those who “think different.”

CounterJihad, December 16, 2016:

While accepting an award for defending freedom Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, gave a rousing speech centered on the importance of a vigorous debate especially on the touchy matter of politicized Islam.  At the same time he charged the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which has come under substantial criticism for recklessly painting even noted Muslim reformers as “extremists,” with trying to stifle this debate.  The SPLC, Dermer said, had asked him not to come and accept the award.  “The SPLC and others who asked me not to come here tonight claim to support free and open debate,” he said. “But in reality, they seem to want to stifle debate. They preach tolerance for those who look different. But they are in effect practicing intolerance to those who think different.”

“Unfortunately,” he added, “some have amended that famous Voltairian dictum to be “I hate what you say and I will never defend your right to say it.  I will defame you as an extremist. I will label you a racist and a bigot. I will put you on the blackest of lists that should be reserved for Nazis, for the Klan, and for the true enemies of mankind.”

This stifling of debate is dangerous, he suggested, because it cripples our ability to think carefully about one of the great dangers to Western political liberty.  He spoke specifically about the harm done to Muslim reformers by these attempts to silence debate.

[M]y point is that Islam, like other faiths, has evolved – and I see no reason why it cannot or will not evolve again.  So do not assume that the forces ascendant in the Muslim world today will be the same forces ascendant in the future.  Whether that happens or not will mostly depend on changes that will come from within the Muslim world. But the pace and extent of those changes depends partly on us as well.  It depends on not painting all Muslims with a single brush and not declaring nearly one-quarter of the world’s population irredeemable.  It depends on recognizing that the greatest victims of militant Islam are those Muslims who do not accept its unforgiving creed.  And it depends on helping those who seek to reform Islam from within.

Let me read you the words of one of those reformers.

“I’m really offended when people are intimidated, terrified and killed under the pretext that such practices are part and parcel of divine teaching ordered by God.  I feel offended when destruction and sabotage are promoted as a heavenly triumph for God on earth. I swear that nothing could ever be built on destruction, demolition or murder.”

Those words were not scrawled by a dissident languishing away in some dungeon in the Middle East. Those words were spoken last week at a religious university by Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. the President of Egypt.

And here is another voice from the Middle East commenting about terror attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam

“Their only link to Islam is the pretexts they use to justify their crimes and their folly. They have strayed from the right path, and their fate is to dwell forever in hell…They think – out of ignorance – that they are engaging in Jihad…Is it conceivable that God…could order someone to blow himself up or kill innocent people? Islam, as a matter of fact, does not permit any kind of suicide – whatever the reasons or the circumstances.”

[Those words] were delivered three months ago in Arabic in a televised speech by Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco.

Dermer went on to challenge the audience to recognize the importance of such words by the leaders of Muslim nations, while not assuming that this meant that the challenge of militant political Islam would fade on its own.  Proposing an analogy to baseball, but also citing Osama bin Laden’s doctrine about “the strong horse,” Dermer said that winning teams attract more recruits.  Making sure that militant Islamists continue to lose is therefore an important part of the struggle.

The SPLC responded by suggesting that Dermer was merely trying to draw attention away from the fact that he had accepted an award from a group on their black list.  That he accepted the award, the Freedom Flame award, was something Dermer made much of in his speech.  He described the award as “prestigious,” and thanked the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney — also on the SPLC’s list of extremists — for a lifetime of work built around an “unwavering commitment to freedom – for America, for Europe, for Israel, for everyone.”

In addition to the criticism of the SPLC’s list of “extremists” in its recent black list, the SPLC has had to apologize for overreach in this matter before.  It made one such apology when it withdrew its criticism of Dr. Ben Carson, currently described by Scientific American as “just what the doctor ordered” as nominee for Housing and Urban Development.  In addition, the SPLC has been accused of its own extremist ties on the political left.