H/T Vlad Tepes
H/T Vlad Tepes
Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.
In addition to being one of the nation’s foremost national security analysts and legal experts — formerly serving as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the vaunted Southern District of New York — he is one of the most humble, insightful and devoted patriots I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
In Part I of my in-depth interview with Andy McCarthy, we discussed his experience prosecuting the jihadist mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack and what it taught him about the Islamic supremacist threat America faces, the primacy of religion for Muslims in the Middle East and in the West, why Islamic supremacists choose jihadist savagery over assimilation, willful blindness in American national security and foreign policy regarding the nature of the jihadist threat, folly in American foreign affairs from Syria to Libya, and the imperative to collapse the Khomeinist Iranian regime.
What We Discussed
By Mark Durie, APRIL 11, 2018
There is not a Bible, Jewish or Christian, containing such incendiary commentary as populates page after page of ‘The Noble Qur’an’, which for four years has preached to the faithful in Canberra Airport’s prayer room. The ideology it promotes is violent jihad. It is a book to start a war.
The Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt recently cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and imposed sanctions, accusing the Qataris of supporting terrorism. The Saudis have demanded that Qatar close Al-Jazeera and cut all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and the Islamic State. Qatar’s long-standing and well-known support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which aims to unify Muslim nations under an Islamic caliphate and has networks of supporters across the Middle East, is now perceived as a serious threat its neighbours.
This is the pot calling the kettle black, for Saudi Arabia itself has a long record of exporting Islamic radicalism. Among its most notable exports are millions of Korans in translation, which, through commentary (mainly in footnotes) and accompanying materials, incite Muslims to wage violent jihad to establish an Islamic state.
Among the Saudis’ exported Korans is an English-language edition, TheNoble Qur’an, which can be found in mosques, prayer rooms and meeting places around the world. Anyone who applies to the Saudi embassy in Canberra will be sent a copy gratis.
The Noble Qur’an can be found in the musallah or prayer room of Canberra’s airport. What is apparently the same edition, with “AIRPORT MUSALLAH” written in black marker pen on the page ends, has been sitting there for the past four years, ever since the new airport was built. The Noble Qur’an is also publicly available in other “multi-faith” spaces that have been springing up in institutions across Australia in recent years, in universities, hospitals and other public places.
Canberra airport’s Noble Qur’an was printed by the order of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who ruled from 2005 to 2015. It includes the Arabic text, and, side-by-side, the English translation by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din al-Hilali and Muhammad Muhsin Khan. There is also an endorsement by Shaikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baz, Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia from 1993 to 1999, and a foreword by Shaikh Salih ibn Abdul-Aziz al-Shaikh, the current Saudi Minister for Islamic Affairs. After the Koranic text there are a hundred pages or so of appendices, and under the text there are footnotes, which offer a commentary. There are also frequent interpolations in brackets to help clarify the meaning in translation.
Marked “not for sale”, vast numbers of The Noble Qur’an printed by the Saudis are exported around the world. The King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Medina has printed over one hundred million Korans in thirty-nine languages since it was established in 1985. The handsomely gilded Noble Qur’an is distributed as part of the Saudis’ global da’wa or effort to propagate Islam. It appears to target two kinds of readers.
First, The Noble Qur’an seeks to enlist Muslims in violent jihad against non-Muslims, to establish an Islamic caliphate. Second, it aims to engage with Christians. The longest essay in the appendices is an argument that Jesus was a prophet of Islam, and commentary throughout The Noble Qur’an—in the explanatory footnotes, the interpolations in brackets and the appendices—challenges and “corrects” Christian teachings.
Sometimes it is said that when people use verses from the Koran to justify violence, they have taken them out of context. This criticism cannot be applied to The Noble Qur’an, which follows a traditional Islamic method of interpreting the Koran in the light of Muhammad’s example and teachings, known as the Sunna. In keeping with this tradition, citations from the Sunnasupply the great bulk of the explanatory footnotes.
The footnotes in The Noble Qur’an are repeatedly derogatory of non-Muslims.
For example, a note to Sura 10:19 (p. 272, fn1) quotes Muhammad to say that human beings are born Muslims, and are “converted” away from Islam by non-Muslim parents. For Jewish or Christian parents to raise their child in their own faith is like mutilating them:
Every child is born on al-Fitrah, but his parents convert him to Judaism or Christianity … An animal gives birth to a perfect baby animal. Do you find it mutilated?
The Arabic phrase al-fitrah refers to the doctrine that the innate state of human beings is to be a Muslim.
The Arabic text of the Koran calls non-Muslims unclean (Sura 9:28), using a derogatory word (najas). The footnote to this verse explains about non-Muslims that:
Their impurity is spiritual and physical: spiritual because they don’t believe in Allah’s Oneness and in his Prophet Muhammad … and physical, because they lack personal hygiene (filthy as regards urine, stools and [menstrual] blood). [p. 248, fn 2]
Sura 3:85 states that “whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers”. In the footnote commentary on this verse, The Noble Qur’an quotes Muhammad to explain that Christians and Jews who die disbelieving in Muhammad will end up in Hell:
there is none from amongst the Jews and Christians … who hears about me and then dies without believing in the Message with which I have been sent … but he will be from the dwellers of the (Hell) Fire. [p. 84, fn 1]
Sura 4:47 warns Christians and Jews that they should believe in Muhammad, or else their faces will be taken away in hell, to which the translators add, in brackets, “by making them like the back of necks; without nose, mouth, eyes”. The footnote commentary explains further:
This Verse is a severe warning to the Jews and Christians, and an absolute obligation that they must believe in Allah’s Messenger Muhammad … and also in his Message of Islamic Monotheism and in this Qur’an. [p. 115, fn 2]
The Koran has verses which exhort tolerance of Christians and Jews. Yet The Noble Qur’an takes pains to emphasise that such verses have been cancelled by later verses, following the Islamic contextual principle of abrogation (naskh). Here are two examples:
First, Sura 2:62 states that a Christian or Jew who “believes in Allah and the Last Day and does righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve”. This could be taken to imply that Christians and Jews will be accepted by God if they follow their faith properly. However, the commentary on this verse clarifies that:
This Verse (and Verse 5:69) … should not be misinterpreted by the reader … the provision of this Verse was abrogated by Verse 3:85 “And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter, he will be one of the losers” (i.e. after the coming of Prophet Muhammad … on the earth, no other religion except Islam, will be accepted from anyone). [p. 13, fn 2]
What this footnote is actually asserting is that Christians and Jews will go to Hell unless they accept Islam, because earlier verses which seemed to counsel tolerance have been superseded and cancelled by later verses.
Second, Sura 2:109 states that Muslims should “forgive and overlook” the Christians and Jews, “till Allah brings His Command”.Yet the footnote makes clear that “the provision of this verse has been abrogated” (p. 21, fn 1) by Sura 9:29. The later verse commands Muslims to fight (that is, kill) Christians and Jews unless or until they surrender to Muslims and pay tribute:
Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad …) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. [Sura 9:29, p. 248]
Here again, a more tolerant verse is claimed to have been abrogated by a later verse which commands violence against non-Muslims.
The meaning of jihad
Some Muslims have proposed that the basic meaning of jihad is peaceful struggle. In contrast, The Noble Qur’an defines jihad as waging war against non-Muslims to make Islam dominant in the world. This jihad is obligatory for all Muslims, and rejecting this obligation will lead to hellfire.
This interpretation is made clear in the glossary, where the entry for jihad is:
Holy fighting in the Cause of Allah or any other kind of effort to make Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) superior. Jihad is regarded as one of the fundamentals of Islam. See the footnote of (V.2:190) [p. 873]
The footnote referred to is a comment on Sura 2:190, “And fight in the Way of Allahthose who fight you …” This footnote reads:
Al-Jihad (holy fighting) in Allah’s Cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars (on which it stands). By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior, (His Word being La ilaha illallah which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and His Religion (Islam) is propagated. By abandoning Jihad (may Allah protect us from that) Islam is destroyed and the Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honour is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty, or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfil this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite. [p. 39, fn 1]
Here The Noble Qur’an is saying that the purpose of jihad is to make Muslims dominant over non-Muslims, and Islam dominant over other religions; Islamic warfare against non-Muslims is a kind of missionary enterprise to spread the faith, and any Muslim who does not fulfil this obligatory duty is a “hypocrite”.
What is bad about being a “hypocrite” is made clear by The Noble Qur’an on page 906 of the appendices: a hypocrite will end up in the lowest depths of Hell, the place of worst punishment. The Noble Qur’an is teaching here that any Muslim who does not engage in and support warfare to establish the dominance of Islam is destined to occupy the hottest place in Hell, worse even than that occupied by non-Muslims.
In its footnote on Sura 27:59, The Noble Qur’an quotes a tradition of Muhammad which refers to jihad (p. 512 fn 1). (Here again jihad is defined as “holy fighting”.) The footnote emphasises that fighting non-Muslims is the best possible pious deed for a Muslim, second only to becoming a Muslim.
The caliphate and universal war against non-Muslims
Sura 2:252 (p. 55, fn2, running on to p. 56) refers to Muhammad as a messenger of Allah. The footnote to this verse reports that Muhammad’s prophethood was distinguished by certain characteristics. Three of these are:
The implication of this third point is that everyone, everywhere is obligated to accept Muhammad as their prophet, and the first two points show that he was uniquely commissioned to wage war against disbelievers, by terrorising and looting them. Muhammad is considered to be the best example for Muslims to follow, including, it becomes clear, in these aspects of his prophetic career. The Noble Qur’an emphasises these aspects of Muhammad’s mission to activate them for jihad.
In its footnote on Sura 3:55 (p. 76, fn 1), The Noble Qur’an states that when Jesus returns he will impose Islamic law and break the cross (that is, destroy Christianity). At that time Jesus will do away with toleration of non-Muslims, so that “all people will be required to embrace Islam and there will be no other alternative”. In other words they will be compelled to convert by force if required.
This teaching about Jesus’s return is repeated in a commentary on Sura 8:39 (p. 236, fn 1), and a comment on Sura 61:6 (p. 761, fn 2), which states that this tradition is intended as “a severe warning to Christians who claim to be the followers of ’Isa (Jesus) …” In essence The Noble Qur’an tells its Christian readers that when he returns Jesus will compel them to embrace Islam, and all people on the earth will have to choose between Islam and death.
In its commentary on Sura 9:29 (p. 248, fn 2) The Noble Qur’an cites a tradition of Muhammad about the Jews, which states, “The Hour (i.e. the final 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.’” So, at the end, creation itself will cry out for Jewish blood.
In an interpolation in Sura 8:73, The Noble Qur’an states that Muslims of the world must not ally themselves with non-Muslims, but join together “to make victorious Allah’s religion of Islamic monotheism” (p. 242). It is explained in commentary that if Muslims do not do this, there will be terrible disorder and tribulation in the world, with wars and battles and calamitous breakdown of civil society. This is because of the deleterious effects of non-Muslim rule. Moreover, it is also wrong to have “many Muslim rulers”, because Muslims should unite under one ruler, the caliph: “it is a legal obligation … that there shall not be more than one Khalifah for the whole Muslim world …” Furthermore, anyone who works to divide Muslims into different groups under different rulers should be killed, according to Muhammad, who is reported to have said, “When you all [Muslims] are united … and a man comes up to disintegrate you and separate you into different groups, then kill that man” (p. 242, fn 1). This can be taken to imply that anyone who upholds the division of Muslims into distinct nation-states, which is the international order today, stands under a death sentence.
The Noble Qur’an paints a supremacist vision of an ultimate Islamic victory over non-Muslim religions, in which all non-Muslims will be converted to Islam or killed. The text of Sura 3:110 reads:
You (true believers in Islamic monotheism …) are the best of people ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin al-Mahruf (Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief, and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allah. [Sura 3:110]
The footnote commentary on this verse explains:
“You … are the best of people ever raised up for mankind” means, the best of the people for the people, as you bring them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter paradise in the Hereafter) … The people referred to here may be the prisoners of war who were captured and chained by the Muslims and their imprisonment was the cause of their conversion to Islam. So, it is as if their chains were the means of winning Paradise. [p. 89, fn 1]
This footnote is a reference to a tradition of Muhammad which states that Allah is pleased to see people entering Paradise in chains. This justifies making war on non-Muslims, and forcing them into Islam through enslaving them; enslaving non-Muslims is a kindness to them, because it enables them to attain Paradise.
This interpretation of Sura 3:110 is based on Muhammad’s teaching. Could it have any application in today’s world, or is it just a dead letter?
The very same tradition was cited by the Islamic State in the October 2014 edition of its magazine Dabiq, which included an article titled “The Return of Slavery Before the Hour”:
[Muhammad] said, “Allah marvels at a people who enter Jannah in chains.” The hadith commentators mentioned that this refers to people entering Islam as slaves and then entering Jannah [Paradise]. Abu Hurayrah … said while commenting on Allah’s words, “You are the best nation produced for mankind” … “You are the best people for people. You bring them with chains around their necks, until they enter Islam.”
The same sentiment was also expressed by a Dutch Islamic State fighter, Israfil Yilmaz, who blogged about the correct Islamic motivation for sex slavery:
People [who] think that having a concubine for sexual pleasure only have a very simple mindset about this matter … The biggest and best thing of having concubines is introducing them to Islam in an Islamic environment—showing them and teaching them the religion. Many of the concubines/slaves of the Companions of the Prophet … became Muslim and some even big commanders and leaders in Islamic history and this is if you ask me the true essence of having slaves/concubines.
The translators who crafted the commentary in The Noble Qur’an, and the Saudi leaders who endorsed the text, no doubt desired that readers would take to heart the teachings they had laboured hard to present. The evidence is that many have done so. The investment by the Saudis of billions of dollars to spread the kinds of ideas found in The Noble Qur’an has not been in vain, and the Islamic State provides the proof.
Evidence for their success is found in Israfil Yilmaz’s justification for sex-slavery. This not only aligns with official ISIS propaganda: it also is fully in line with the teachings of The Noble Qur’an. Another sign of the influence of The Noble Qur’an’s ideas has been the river of thousands of ISIS recruits flowing from Western nations to join the jihad in Syria and Iraq.
What does all this mean?
Ahmed Farouk Musa, a graduate of Monash University medical school in Melbourne, told a forum on Muslim extremism in Kuala Lumpur on December 7, 2014, that The Noble Qur’an incites violence against Christians and other non-Muslims: “I believe that propaganda such as the Hilali-Khan translation and other materials coming out of Saudi Arabia are one of the major root causes that feed extremist ideas among Muslims, violence against Christians and other minorities.”
There is not a Bible in print, anywhere in the world, Jewish or Christian, which contains such incendiary commentary as is found on page after page of The Noble Qur’an. This is a book with which to start a war. The ideology it promotes is primed to light the fuse of violent jihad.
Given its contents, it might seem surprising that a copy of The Noble Qur’an has been sitting in the Canberra airport prayer room for the past four years. The theological characteristics of this edition of the Koran are not a secret. Yet it seems no Muslim who used the musallah has objected, or if they did, the Canberra airport authorities paid no attention. Canberra’s politicians and their many advisers also regularly pass along the corridor where the musallah is located, but none of them seems to have thought to check what version of the Koran was being used in their airport’s prayer room.
Earlier this year the Public Health Association of Australia asked the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to reject the “notion” that there is any inherent link between Islam and terrorism. It seems that Public Health Association of Australia officials have also not visited the Canberra airport musallah to read its Koran.
There has been much discussion and sometimes puzzlement about how young Muslim men have become radicalised enough to fight for ISIS. Reading and believing the messages implanted in The Noble Qur’an in the Canberra airport prayer room would be sufficient to convert some people to the key points of the ideology of ISIS.
The message of The Noble Qur’an is no marginal phenomenon. It is not an opinion from the extremities of the Islamic world, but from its heartland, presented as a gilt-edged free gift from the Saudi king, the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques. The political theology of The Noble Qur’an aligns with the official dogma of Saudi Arabia, and it has been endorsed by the Saudi king and the nation’s chief justice, the Grand Mufti.
It is necessary to grasp the authenticity of The Noble Qur’an and its message to the world. Those behind The Noble Qur’an manifestly believe that justice will be served only when Muslims rule the world, and that warfare necessary to achieve this goal is not only justified: it is a divinely instituted, inescapable obligation incumbent on every Muslim, because Muhammad and his Koran are, as Sura 21:107 puts it, “a mercy to the worlds”.
One sometimes hears the view that it is not up to non-Muslims to express opinions about Islam or its canonical texts, such as the Koran. But The Noble Qur’an’s running commentary on the text, because it has so much to say about non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, therefore gives non-Muslims, especially Jews and Christians, every right to form their own opinions about it. If a book talks about you, you have a right to make up your own mind about what it has to say.
In 2002 Christopher Hitchens fielded a question from Tony Jones on ABC’s Lateline as to why young, mostly well-educated men committed the 9/11 atrocity. Hitchens’s answer was, “Well, it could be they believe their own propaganda.” We have to assume that those responsible for The Noble Qur’an believe their own propaganda too, and that some who have read it have been influenced to believe it too.
What should Australians make of the fact that the Saudis have been presenting an open and unashamed apology for violent jihad, even commending the practice of enslaving enemies, in our own backyard for years, not to show Islam in a poor light, but to glorify it?
The fact that The Noble Qur’an is in the Canberra airport musallah is no accident. This edition of the Koran and the teachings it promotes can be found in Islamic bookshops, public libraries, prayer rooms and Sunni mosques all over the English-speaking world.
The British historian Tom Holland recently produced a documentary on ISIS called The Origins of Violence. A scathing review by the English journalist Peter Oborne was published in the Middle East Eye. Oborne excoriated Holland for suggesting that the problem with ISIS lies with Islam. Oborne found it repugnant to suggest that there is anything about Islam that might be considered a “threat”, and he railed against Holland’s suggestion that there could be anything in the example and teaching of Muhammad (whom Oborne respectfully calls “The Prophet”) which could have guided the actions of the Islamic State.
Such ignorance is the fruit of religious illiteracy. Or might fear be the issue? Has Muhammad, praised in the pages of the Koran for being “victorious by awe”, now extended his reign of fear, not just for the distance of one month’s journey as Muhammad declared he had achieved in seventh-century Arabia, but across fourteen centuries to Australia and the rest of the world?
Of course many Australian Muslims would, like Ahmed Farouk Musa, find the messages promoted through the footnotes and glosses of The Noble Qur’anutterly repugnant. It is disappointing that these well-meaning Muslims have not been able to determine which version of their own scriptures is to be placed in a public prayer room designated for their use. They could have lobbied Canberra airport to have this version of the Koran replaced by another, but if they have done so, their attempts must have failed.
The message contained in The Noble Qur’an and its widespread public distribution are matters Australians have every right to be concerned about. Its message has been promoted in public for years with hardly a whisper of objection coming from those who should know better.
It would be inappropriate, and indeed irrelevant if our leaders were to respond to the message of The Noble Qur’an with statements like “True Islam does not promote terrorism” or “No true religion supports violence”. For Australian officials to dare to instruct the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia or the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques on what is true Islam would be ludicrous and offensive. But the leaders of our nation, against whose non-Muslim citizens The Noble Qur’an incites such undisguised enmity, have every right to say, “Not in our backyard!”
Dr. Mark Durie is an academic, human rights activist, Anglican pastor, a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and Adjunct Research Fellow of the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.
This article was first published by the Quadrant in November 2017.
Citizen Warrior, Sept. 3, 2017:
Why are some people vehemently against a Muslim headscarf but have no objection to a nun’s habit? What’s the difference?
The main difference is the ideology represented by the clothing. Islam’s ideology is 61 percentpolitical and only 39 percent religious. That is, 61 percent of the Koran is about what Muslims should do with non-Muslims.
A Muslim is obligated to strive to establish the law of Allah in all nations, imposing it against the will of non-Muslims if necessary. Islamic law is very detailed and specific, and includes the death penalty for apostatesand gays, women are legally only worth a half a man, etc. The Muslim headscarf is one of the few visible signs of a commitment to the fundamental principles of Islam. That’s why people are bothered by it.
But aren’t Christians are obliged to “establish the rule of Christ in all nations?” Isn’t a nun’s habit a visible sign of commitment to the fundamental principles of Christianity?
That’s seems like a legitimate counter-argument, but are there “Christian countries?” That is, a country where the “laws of Christianity” are imposed on everyone in that country?
So far, there are 58 Muslim countries, and orthodox Muslims are dedicated to expanding that. These countries have joined together to form the largest global organization outside the UN, and they form the largest voting bloc in the UN. They have been pushing to legally impose Islamic blasphemy laws on the entire world, which means legally nobody would be able to have this conversation, even in “free nations.” It would be illegal to criticize Islamic doctrine. It is already illegal in many countries.
Islam is having a huge and growing influence on world affairs. Everyone should learn more about this ideology. It isn’t like other religions. The closest religion to it is Scientology, and it’s not even close.
The assumptions people make about Islam are mostly wrong. But those assumptions are guiding our legal policies, and that is dangerous.
But wait a minute. Doesn’t all this only apply to the most extreme and fundamentalist followers of Islam? Wouldn’t the views of extreme and fundamentalist Christians be just as disturbing? It isn’t fair to paint all Muslims with this same brush, is it? We could say all Scientologists are bad people, but that isn’t the case either.
First of all, we’re not talking about Muslims. We’re talking about Islam, which is a set of written documents. It is a written ideology. When we say “orthodox Muslim,” we mean someone who follows the principles written in Islamic doctrine. Yes, of course, there are many Muslims who do not follow the doctrine, just as there are Christians who don’t follow the written doctrine in the Bible.
But what this argument obscures is that the orthodox Muslims are not misguided. They are doing what it says they must do in their written holy book. It says in the Koran 91 times that a Muslim should follow the example of Muhammad in every aspect. And Muhammad (according to biographies of Muhammad written by Muslims for Muslims) raided caravans, led battles, tortured people, ordered assassinations, and personally oversaw the beheading of 800 Jews. He captured and held slaves. He raped women. He started having sex with his favorite wife when she was nine years old. This is not horrible, slanderous rumor aimed to discredit Muhammad. This is taught with a straight face in Islamic universities, without any hint of embarrassment. This was the messenger of Allah and he could do no wrong.
A fundamentalist is one who follows the teachings closely. So the actual teachings make a big difference. And all we’re saying is that the teachings of Islam are dangerous to non-Muslims. In Islamic doctrine, Muslims are the best of people and non-Muslims are the worst of creatures. This is not a conspiracy theory. This stuff is very easy to find out. You don’t have to trust anyone’s opinion. Just read the Koran. The Muslims who are true believers (orthodox) are counting on people not wanting to know.
In a conversation about this, the other day, someone brought up a good example: the Amish. They have special dress and customs but they don’t seek to impose it on anyone else. That’s the difference. And it’s a big difference.
Look up the Holy Land Foundation trial. The FBI raided the house of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in America and found a document laying out their plan for our country. So far they have 73 legal organizations in America bent on replacing our laws with Islamic law. One organization has been altering the way Islam is portrayed in school textbooks. One organization puts pressure on Hollywood to make sure Islam is portrayed positively in movies. One organization sues people who try to educate others about what Islam is, or gets them fired from their jobs.
Scientologists aren’t bad people, by the way. Most people who read the statements above would think I was slandering Scientologists. But I was talking about Scientology, the ideology. Specifically, I was referring to the “fair game” policy of Scientology. Again, it is a written document, and followed by the true believers. It says that if someone leaves Scientology (becomes an apostate), they are fair game. They can be tricked, lied to, sued, harassed.
But that’s not as bad as Islamic doctrine. Islam says the penalty for apostasy is death.
Think about something for a minute. If someone says they’re a member of a group that has a written ideology, would you assume they believe in at least some of the tenets of that ideology? Of course. Otherwise, why claim your membership? It’s not always the case, of course. Oskar Schindler was a member of the Nazi party, after all.
But if you could choose who would be your next door neighbor or who would date your daughter, would you voluntarily choose someone who claims membership in a dangerous ideology? They might not be “true believers.” But on the other hand, many Muslims who were perfectly nice people and not true believers were reached by the more orthodox who educated them on their obligations as a Muslim. They said, “You say you’re a Muslim, but have you read the Koran? Do you know what you should be doing?” And they are “radicalized” which is a politically correct way of saying they began following the written doctrine and the example of the founder of Islam.
By the way, I’m not a Christian. I’m’ not any religion. And I’m not out to slander any particular religion. All I did was read Islamic doctrine and biographies of Muhammad. I wasn’t trying to find out that Islam is evil. I just wanted to know what was really true because we’ve got some people saying it’s a religion of peace and some people saying it’s a religion of violence. I wanted to know for myself rather than listen to the opinions of others.
I went on a decade-long program of reading, including lots of pro-Islam books and the Koran, which I read twice from beginning to end. It’s a fascinating subject to study. Especially the life story of Muhammad. It is completely mind blowing that someone like that founded a religion. And that the religion (the doctrine, not the people) reflects his personality. I would never have believed it, and I can tell many people don’t believe it and don’t want to believe it. But if they want to be well-rounded, if they want to be an educated member of the modern world, it seems to me that one of the things they should really know about is Islam as it is, and not how they wish it was or how others want them to think about it. They should find out for themselves.
Oh yeah, back to the headscarf. The reason people don’t like it is that the headscarf says, “I believe in the tenets of Islam” and any non-Muslim who knows what those tenets are will not like them. Also, researchers have discovered that when the women in an area with a high Muslim population begin wearing headscarves, it is a signal that the Muslims in the area are becoming more devout (more “extreme,” more fundamentalist). It is a visible sign of increasing devotion to the fundamental principles of Islamic doctrine, which includes an intolerance for non-Muslims and non-Islamic laws, and usually foreshadows violence to non-Muslims and those Muslims who are “insufficiently Islamic.” That’s why people make such a big deal about Islamic head and face coverings. That’s why France and other countries have banned them and many are considering it.
I personally think it’s foolish. If you have a visible sign of growing fundamentalism, why would you ban it? To blind yourself? On the other hand, maybe it would help weaken the fundamentalism. And it would certainly help women be free of the obligation to do it in those countries.
What about the nun’s habit? Being a nun is voluntary. Catholic men are not likely to beat nuns if they don’t wear their habits, but orthodox Muslims have been known to beat Muslim and non-Muslim women who don’t cover up, and I have yet to read a report of a Catholic man throwing acid into the face of a woman because she was not wearing her habit. Orthodox Muslim men have done that in many places in the world.
People who are relatively ignorant of Islam are puzzled by the push toward banning headscarves, and would like to write it off as just ignorant bigotry. But if they looked a little deeper, they might find sensible reasons for it.
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).
Gatestone Institute, by Denis MacEoin, April 29, 2017:
Following the terrorist attack outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017, it was not surprising or wrong that many Muslims denounced the attack and declared it to be un-Islamic. Two days afterwards, Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Shropshire Islamic Foundation, said:
We need to be united in this situation.
We should not give any religion a bad name and these people need to be dealt with in full force and there should be zero tolerance when it comes to dealing with them.
My heart goes out to these victims. And my heart goes out to the people’s families and those who are injured. I pray they all have peace in their minds.
There is no place for these acts in the religion of Islam.
The people are being radicalised and the young and vulnerable people need to be protected.
We need to disassociate this with Islam, as Islam is a religion of peace.
This view was echoed in a press release by the Foundation, in which sympathy for the dead and their families was followed by a commitment to non-violence: “as a community, we need to come together to condemn violence and hatred and work towards cohesion and tolerance”.
More recently, a document about Islamophobia published by the Green Party of the United States affirmed the purportedly peaceful character of Islam:
The highest goal of the Islamic faith is Peace. Peace is pursued over all and for Muslims the world over, ‘holy war’ has nothing to do with the concept of jihad. The Arabic word translates as ‘struggle,’ and is used a handful of times in the Quran to speak of the struggle to stay on the righteous path, to fulfill obligations to family, community and Creator, what the Islamic scholars call a higher jihad.
These claims, however, seem innocent of the verses that say:
So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds…. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah — never will He waste their deeds. Surah Muhammad [47:4]
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. [Sahih International] Verse (8:60)
There are said to be 123 verses in the Quran concerning fighting and killing for the cause of Allah — more than a few.
These claims also show that many people seem to be buying into the narrative of Islam as a perfect religion of peace, even if saying so runs counter to more than 1400 years of history and the official record of classical Islamic scholarship about jihad. Islam, after all, conquered Persia, Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Spain and most of Eastern Europe — until its armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683.
At the same time, there can be no doubt that Muslim leaders who speak out against terrorism and radicalism need our support and that they must be the very people governments, churches, and the security services speak to and work with if we are to head towards the deradicalisation of Muslim communities in the West. Qureshi’s remarks deserve to be taken at face value. Neither he nor his foundation and its associated mosque and academy has any known links to radicalism. They belong to the largest mainstream form of Sunni Islam, the Hanafi school of Islamic law, and there is no overt reason that Qureshi is not sincere in his belief that Islam is a religion of peace.
At the same time, however, he must know better. His own second name is Mujahid, which means “a fighter in the jihad”. Not only that, but his mosque is, like most others in the UK, Deobandi in orientation; and it is out of Deobandi madrasas [Islamic religious schools] that the Taliban originated. Deobandi Islam, although mainstream, has over the years appealed to Muslims in Pakistan and abroad who have a fundamentalist disposition. Qureshi cannot be unaware of that. It is hard to be a reasonably knowledgeable Muslim and not know that calls for violence pervade the Qur’an and sacred Traditions, or that Islamic armies have been fighting European Christians, Indian Hindus, and others since the 7th century.
What we in the West know is that a string of modern politicians and churchmen in Europe and North America have, like Qureshi, insisted — perhaps in a sometimes-desperate attempt to dissociate Islamic terrorism from the religion of Islam — that Islam is a religion of peace. The violence, they say, is a perversion of Islam, and they say this even as terrorist after terrorist invokes Islam as his motivation and shouts “Allahu Akbar!” [“Allah is the greatest!”] while committing the crime. Terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, confidently quote the Qur’an, Traditions [Hadith] and shari’a legislation to justify their attacks.
Western leaders often turn to Muslim imams and scholars to confirm their view that Islam is essentially like modern Judaism or Christianity, if not a mirror image of the Quaker religion. A major expression of this approach is a book by a leading Pakistani scholar, Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. Translated into English, this book of some 400 pages is entitled, Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings (London, 2010). It has been widely praised as an outstanding authoritative text that demonstrates that terrorism of any kind is contrary to Islamic teachings and law — an argument reinforced by hundreds of citations from the Qur’an, Traditions, and a host of classical Muslim authorities.
Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri (1951-) is a scholar and religious leader with an LLB and a PhD in Islamic Law; a politician (he founded the anti-government Pakistan Awami Tehreek party in 1989), and an international speaker. He is touted as having studied since childhood the many branches of religious studies under his father and other teachers, and having authored on Islamic topics one thousand books (not an uncommon claim among Muslim writers). He comes from a Barelvi/Sufi background, the main opposition to Deobandi Islam in Pakistan and abroad. Qadri is also the head of Minhaj-ul-Quran, an international organization that promotes Islamic moderation and inter-faith work.
Qadri and his organization have made a mark on political and religious leaders in many places. On September 24, 2011, Minhaj-ul-Quran held a large conference in London’s Wembley Arena. Qadri and other speakers issued a declaration of peace on behalf of representatives of several religions, scholars and politicians. The conference was endorsed by the Rector of Al-Azhar University (the chief academy in the Sunni Islamic world); Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary General of the UN); Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation); David Cameron (British Prime Minister); Nick Clegg (British Deputy Prime Minister) and Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury), among others.
It is not surprising, then, that Qadri’s fatwa has made a great impression on many concerned about terrorism instigated and carried out by organizations that lay claim to a connection with Islam. There can be no doubt that a condemnation of Islamic terrorism coming from an eminent Muslim figure is an important contribution to the struggle to contain and eventually eliminate not just the terror but the radicalisation that inevitably precedes it.
At the same time, however, it may be argued that while Qadri presents strong religious rulings that reject acts such as suicide bombings that characterise modern movements as in Islamic State, he fails to prove his claim that, “Islam is a religion of peace and security, and it urges others to pursue the path of peace and protection” (p. 21). His fatwa, in fact, only proves that certain types of violence and certain types of victims are illegal within Islamic scripture and law. It does not show that Islam is, in its essence, a pacifist, peace-loving faith. Let us try to disentangle this.
The fatwa rightly devotes several chapters to important topics: “The Unlawfulness of Indiscriminately Killing Muslims” (chapter 2); “The Unlawfulness of Indiscriminately Killing Non-Muslims and Torturing Them” (chapter 3); “The Unlawfulness of Terrorism against Non-Muslims – Even During Times of War” (chapter 4); “On the Protection of the Non-Muslims’ Lives, Properties and Places of Worship” (chapter 5); and “The Unlawfulness of Forcing One’s Belief upon Others and Destroying Places of Worship” (chapter 6).
This is certainly a massive improvement on the rulings of Salafi sheikhs who support Islamic terrorist groups and issue fatwas to support things such as murder and suicide bombings. The leading Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, for example, for a long time insisted that suicide bombings carried out by Palestinian terrorists were a legitimate form of self-defence — and his fatwas encouraged other sheikhs to advocate suicide attacks.
The average reader is unlikely to read the entire book; even in a glance through it, much will be missed. One might well assume that Islam, as portrayed by Qadri, opposes terrorism for much the same ethical reasons that Jews, Christians and others oppose it. But a close reading shows that he is operating from a different premise to non-Muslims. His concern is to read everything in a close context of Islamic law — not ethics. This is particularly noticeable in the legal underpinnings he gives to almost everything. He devotes chapters 8-11 (pp.171-237) to an extremely conventional discussion of the evils of rebelling against an Islamic government even if its ruler were corrupt. Terrorists, he asserts, are to be condemned because they take up arms against their governments. By this definition, the rebel groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad in Syria must be condemned because they have taken up arms against their lawful ruler.
He also devotes chapters 12-17 (pp. 239-395) to drawing a comparison between today’s terrorists and the earliest Muslim rebellious group, the Kharijites. The Kharijites emerged after the first schism in Islam, following the assignation of the third Caliph, when they rebelled against both the fourth Caliph, ‘Ali, and the man who became the ruler of the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750), which created the first Islamic Empire. The dissenters shocked followers of the young faith by declaring those with whom they disagreed to be apostates worthy of death. In their first years, they murdered hundreds of Muslims. Their use of terror against other Muslims and their rebellion against the Islamic state earned them a reputation as the greatest threat to the unity of the Muslim world. By focusing so narrowly on the Kharijites in his anti-terror polemic, Qadri reveals that his concerns are based purely on Islamic considerations, not broader concepts of justice. Christians, Jews, secularists, and others, for instance, condemn terrorism as a breach of human rights, Judaeo-Christian ethics, and international law. Qadri is not interested in any of those things, just the impropriety of terrorist actions in relation to Islamic law. This narrow view allows him to ignore the wider questions of violence in Islamic scripture, law, and history.
Qadri’s admirable take on terrorism conceals a large elephant in the room. Islam has for centuries used violence against non-Muslims in what is considered a legitimate manner, through jihad. It is not simply that Muslim armies have fought their enemies much as Christian armies have engaged in war. Jihad is commanded in the later verses of the Qur’an, is endorsed in the Traditions and the biography of Muhammad, and codified in the manuals of shari’a law. Qadri knows this perfectly well, and at times inadvertently reveals as much in several ways.
The word jihad, for example, occurs many times in the fatwa, usually when he refers in footnotes to chapters in the great Tradition collections — records of prophetic injunctions to holy war; the prophet’s own engagements in jihad, or his sending out raiding parties to engage with non-believers. Thus, when Qadri tells us that it is unlawful to kill non-Muslim women and children, the elderly, traders and farmers, and so forth, he is citing the rules of engagement in jihad, and not that holy war against non-Muslims is foresworn in Islamic texts. Everything he cites against the use of terrorism is actually taken from classical sources that explain the rules that apply to fighting jihad; not that jihad is illegitimate.
Qadri does not merely insist that Islam is a religion of peace and security. By tucking all references to jihad in footnotes in transliterated Arabic, he never has to explain what Islam is about and how it relates to his rulings on what is and what is not permissible. He expands on this theme:
“The most significant proof of this is that God has named it Islam. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word salama or salima. It means peace, security, safety and protection. As for its literal meaning, Islam denotes absolute peace. As a religion, it is peace incarnate.” (p. 21).
A few pages later, he expands on this, writing a long passage “On the Literal Meaning of the Word Islam” (pp. 25-34), interspersed with quotations illustrating this. He correctly links the word “Islam” to the three-consonant root “s-l-m”, which has undisputed connections to concepts of peace and security. He even writes at one point “… every noun or verb derived from Islam, and every derivative or word conjugated (sic) from it, essentially denotes peace, protection, security and safety”.
Just a minute. Qadri is a fully trained Arabist; he even makes references to major Arabic dictionaries. So he really has no excuse for writing such nonsense. It is exactly that on at least two levels. Arabic roots create dozens of words with different meanings, and “slm” is particularly rich in vocabulary. Salma and silm may indeed mean “peace”, but salam means both “forward buying” and a variety of the acacia tree. Sullam means a ladder, stairs, a musical scale, a means, instrument or tool. Salama means “blamelessness, flawlessness, and success”. Salim can mean “healthy” or “sane”. Sulama means the “phalanx” bone. Sulaymani is mercury chloride –there are many more examples.
At a deeper level, most Arabic verbs can have up to fifteen (more usually ten) forms, each with different meanings. The root that Qadri relates to peace has almost no forms that relate to peace at all. The fourth form, aslama, is the one that gives us the verbal noun islam. The fourth form has several meanings, none of which refers to peace. Instead, it means “to forsake, leave, abandon, to deliver up, surrender, to resign oneself or to submit”. The most reliable Arabic-English dictionary by Wehr translates islam as “submission, resignation”, including submission to the will of God. Unfortunately for Qadri, therefore, Islam does not mean peace. The word for peace is salam. The word Islam means, unambiguously, submission [to the will God or Allah].
Let us return to Chapter 5, where Qadri inadvertently reveals the extent of the pretence he is making that Islam is a religion of peace that cares for non-Muslim lives and property. The examples he gives are genuine, but he omits a crucial fact. Only Jews and Christians (and later, Zoroastrians in Iran) are entitled to protection within a Muslim state or empire. Qadri calls them “citizens”, but the truth is that only Muslims can be regarded in that light. Jews and Christians are dhimmi peoples, tolerated under certain humiliating conditions. They are somewhat favoured on account of their having been sent scriptures and prophets, but disfavoured because they have not accepted Allah, or God’s last prophet, Muhammad. Moreover, if they initially resist Muslim invaders, they must be fought through a jihad war. Once defeated, they only have the right to keep their lives, property, and places of worship on payment of a special tax known as jizya, a form of protection money. They are also forced to live under severe restrictions, penalties and mistreatment designed to humiliate them and keep them in their place as the inferiors of Muslims. By not speaking of dhimmitude, the payment of jizya, or more than one thousand years of vulnerability of Christian nations to jihad wars, Qadri again pulls the wool over unquestioning, if well-meaning, eyes of non-Muslims.
So what exactly is Qadri up to? He is concealing important information and distorting the Arabic vocabulary in order to drive home a narrative of Islam’s deep connection to peace and security. His strictures against terrorism are sincere and valuable, yet his whitewashing of historical, legal and scriptural treatment of non-Muslims and the actual practice of jihad only serves to perpetuate a myth.
Qadri and many others who adopt this position are, sadly, engaged in setting up a smokescreen. The tactic, as a comment explains, may be found online:
“To get people to believe in two contradictory beliefs, present them both as part of a larger belief system where it is more important to accept the whole system than question ‘minor’ inconsistencies within it.”
That, surely, is exactly how Qadri and so many others (even members of America’s left-leaning parties) come to function.
It is crucial to be able to see and identify this smokescreen if we do not want to throw the baby (opposition to Islamic terrorism) out with the bathwater (whitewashing the truth). Nevertheless, it is vital to expose and to challenge it if we are ever to come to terms with the true nature of Islam as an expansionist, religio-political ideology.
|When Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri conceals important information and distorts Arabic vocabulary in order to drive home a narrative of Islam’s deep connection to peace and security, he is engaged in setting up a smokescreen. (Image source: ServingIslam/Wikimedia Commons)|
Dr. Denis MacEoin has spent a lifetime studying Islam and related matters. He has been a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute since 2014.
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?