Islam is a religion of peace and war—and it’s not bigotry to acknowledge it

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Getty Images

The Hill, by Shireen Qudosi, Sept. 28, 2016:

Last week, I warned a House Homeland Security Subcommittee that Islamist pressure groups were making it impossible for my fellow Muslims to do the crucial work of reforming and liberalizing Islam. Within hours, these grievance professionals were attacking me for Islamophobia and bigotry.

I’ve spent the last 15 years since the 9/11 attacks working toward reform in Islam; I recognized that, in order to change the potent and dangerous tone of the politics of global Islamism, Islamic theology must advance, as well. I am grateful that Rep. Scott Perry (R-Texas) chaired a Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee hearing, “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror,” and gave me opportunity to tell Congress about my work with the Muslim Reform movement.

In order to defeat radical Islamist terror, we must first normalize our relationship with Islam itself, treating it the way we do Christianity, Judaism or any other religion over the last century. My fellow Muslims must be able to countenance criticism of Islam, from within and without—the theology, the political ideology, everything. Only by approaching the religion’s tenants with a new spirit of inquiry can we ever disentangle the Islamic faith from the Islamism that is a metastasizing threat to human rights around the world.

We must not be afraid to approach and contend with the complexity of Islamic law and history, the good, the bad, the ugly and the viscously anti-democratic. Muslim grievance professionals and well-intentioned liberals whitewashing the aspects of the Qur’an that conflict with the values of American society in the 21st Century do us no favors. “We must realize,” I said in my opening statement, that “we are dealing with a political ideology that is parasitically feeding off a religion that is already complex by being both peace and war.”

According to sacred Islamic sources themselves—not hated Islamophobes—the Prophethood of Muhammed was, in fact, both peaceful and war-mongering. Indeed, the Prophet would have been viewed as a violent terrorist to his opponents. I encouraged the audience to not withdraw from threats of bigotry, racism and “Islamophobia.” Muslims will find that, first, we do not suffer when we are offended; even more importantly we will learn that no ideas are above scrutiny, including our own most cherished ones.

Within hours of the hearing, however, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) launched an attack on me in a breathless video hit piece, alerting the world that I “call[ed] the Prophet Muhammad a ‘Warmonger’ and Islam Terroristic.” They branded my criticism Islamophobic—choosing to ignore that I, too, am a Muslim. Do I have a right to critique my religion without being called a bigot?

On social media, Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of CAIR San Francisco, and the Executive Director of CAIR Los Angeles, Hussam Ayloush, piled on, opened up a flood of hate Tweets that has jeopardized my personal security.

They are well aware that, by framing my historical assessment of early Islam as an attack on the Prophet, they are potentially marking me for death, either as an apostate or a slanderer, under Islamic law. They’ve opened up a flood gate to a not insubstantial number of Muslims that will do anything to protect their Prophet against slander. In this way, organizations like CAIR are no different than the most extreme radicals or Islamic states.

Islamist groups like CAIR use shame tactics and exclusionary practices to silence minority voices of reform in Islam – voices like mine – all the while crying that they themselves are a minority in America deserving of special protection. Even more alarmingly, many on the left and in the media instinctively defend aspects of Islam they neither practice nor understand; what they believe to be a chivalrous defense of Muslims has the effect of keeping Islam frozen in time.

In their attack, CAIR has proven my point: Muslim grievance professionals are quick to silence minority voices in Islam, reinforcing the idea that Islam doesn’t require any change or modernization. Worse, however, is the signal these groups send to non-Muslims: that any criticism aimed at liberalizing aspects of the faith—even from Muslims themselves—is tantamount to bigotry and Islamophobia.

This must stop in order to pave the way for real reform, like the embrace of human rights for women, Jews, the LGBTQ community, and others. This is the sometimes painful and messy work that needs to be done to make Islam just another religion in America.

Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim Reformer who lives on the West Coast. She writes at Counterjihad.com

Islamic Jihad’s Most Effective Weapons

(Artwork by Shutterstock.com.)

(Artwork by Shutterstock.com.)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Shutterstock

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See more excerpts from her article at MEMRI.

***

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

Obama Says Islam Needs Modernist Reformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch President Obama’s Baltimore mosque speech:

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

Nonie Darwish: Egypt At A Crossroads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let Allah Sort It Out

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By Justin O. Smith, January 3, 2015:

Islam is a septic, twisted and demented ideological maelstrom that is incapable of reform, and it has disseminated its own particular brand of hate, intolerance, dissent, division and violence in every nation that has opened its doors to Muslims, who deny the theological warrant for violence and intolerance embedded in Islam’s religious texts. It is not a religion of peace, as history and current events detail, and the terrorist murderers from Al Qaeda, Boko Haram and the Islamic State quote the same Koranic verses that every Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct; in totality, all the factual evidence shows that Islam is the antithesis of freedom, constitutional governance and liberty, and America should close Her doors to Islam and Muslims permanently.

Approximately 70% of Muslims in America and Europe follow fundamental Islamic traditions and cultural adaptations, and over 50% of Muslims worldwide, about 800 billion, affirm all or a significant portion of the Koran’s teaching on violence. This includes theologically sanctioned violence aimed at blasphemy, adultery, apostasy and any perceived insult against family “honor” or Islam.

Throughout Islam’s history, several attempts towards “islah”/ reform and “tajdid”/ renewal were witnessed. Many of these ended in the manner of Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah of Damascus (1263-1328), who died in prison after trying to modify Islam’s “fiqh”/ jurisprudence. One other, Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahab (1703-92) was a “reformer” who aimed his efforts at doctrinal purity; his vision became the virulent Wahhabi sect of Islam, that controls most of Sunni Islamic thought today and advocates violent methods to make Islam supreme across the entire world.

Secular attempts to reform Islam have largely failed, because they were not sanctioned by the top clerics of Islam: Mustafa Kemal enraged Muslims in Turkey and everywhere else by abolishing the Ottoman sultanate on November 1st 1922, which resulted in the Khilafat Movement and an effort to protect the caliphate. And today we see Pres. Tayyip Erdogan supporting the Islamic State covertly and restoring Turkey’s fundamental Islamic heritage and Sharia law to the heart of public life in finance, legislation and education.

Likewise, Sha Mohammed Reza lost support from the Shia clergy of Iran, largely due to his strong policies regarding secular government and modernization. This paved the way for the January 17th 1979 revolution and Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power; Khomeini would later offer his convoluted reasoning that suggested Islamic government, the theocratic state __ the mother of all totalitarianisms, was constitutional.

Khomeini saw government as the vehicle of divine law and divine rule, which Allah had delegated to the Prophet. In December 1987 Khomeini stated: “The government is empowered to unilaterally revoke any lawful agreement … if the agreement contavenes the interests of Islam and the country. It can prevent any matter, whether religious or secular, if it is against the interests of Islam.”

Some small hope can be placed in recent calls from reformers, such as Dr Zuhdi Jasser, Irshad Manji, Asra Nomani ( December 4th) and Aayan Hirsi Ali (March 20th), who have all outlined plans for the reformation of Islam. One should also note Egyptian President Sisi’s call for reform, as he told Egyptians on January 22nd 2015 that “the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed … by your own hands.”

And in February of 2015, Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar University (leading cleric), called for a reform of Islqamic teaching on the first day of a counter-terrorism conference in Mecca. This is only significant if the lesser clerics act in favor of Sheik Tayeb’s suggestion.

However, with so much of Islam grounded in the literal translation of Koranic verses touting Islam’s supremacy and Mohammed’s infallible nature, any of the proposed reforms will be seen as an attack at the heart of Islam and the Shahada itself, which states: I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” At least 109 other verses command Muslims to war with the infidels for the sake of Islamic rule, and these verses are still followed by the greatest majority of Muslims.

Muslim (1:33) _ “the messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”

Bukhari (52:256) _ “The Prophet … was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, ‘They are from them’.

Tabari 9:69 _ “Killing Unbelievers is a small matter to us.”

Some American Muslims might accept [reforming] “the core ideas that inspire political Islam” and [condemning] “violent jihad”, in the manner described by Dr Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, but the overwhelming majority of Muslims across the earth will recoil in revulsion, disgust and anger from such proposals. This overwhelming majority of Muslims accept the literal translation of the Koran, and they believe the Koran is the final and perfect manifesto of God’s will; even so-called “educated” people, like the failed Times Square Bomber, the islamofascist terrorists in Chattanooga and San Bernadino and Al Qaeda leader Dr Ayman al Zawahiri, fall within this group.

By accepting such reforms, Muslims would be sticking a knife into the heart of Islam. In essence, these reforms call for Muslims to kill Islam.

From the highest levels of Islam, the top “qadis”/ judges, their consultants/ “muftis” and the “ulema”/ religious scholars to CAIR, the average Muslim around the world and the idiot U.S. Congressman – Keith Ellison, the apologists for Islm continue to nsist that Islam is “a religion of peace and tolerance.” But, my own lying eyes tell me otherwise, as I observe that Saudi Arabia outlaws Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, Pakistan executes critics of Islam, most Islamic nations imprison anyone celebrating Christmas, Iran hangs homosexuals, and last year 70% of all fatalities in armed conflicts worldwide were a result of Islamic inspired wars (International Institute for Strategic Studies).

The laws and cultural practices of other nations deserve respect and tolerance only in so far they themselves are respectable and tolerant. We cannot accept any form of oppression in the name of cultural tolerance, and we cannot accept codified child abuse, oppression of women and murder under the color of any law.

America has already suffered too much from Islam’s intrinsic evil and violence. Why would any sane person allow more Muslims entry to America or the expansion of the anti-American ideology of Islam __ the death cult of ther Anti-Christ?

In my lifetime, I’ve seen Muslims rejoicing over the murders of innocents on 9/11 and every terror attack against America, since that time. I’ve seen Muslims conceal information that would have prevented the Boston Bombing and the attack in San Bernadino. I’ve witnessed American middle school children intimidated into emulating Muslims, and I am now seeing Congressional Democrats attempting to pass  a blasphemy law (HR 569) to appease Muslims. I have witnessed the horrible bloody violent truth at the core of Islam, from Cyprus and Pakistan and Bangladesh and Algiers and Lebanon to Iran and Serbia and Russia, and much of Eastern and Western Europe, and on to Iraq, Libya and Syria, and so-called “allies” like Pakistan (aids Haqqani and Taliban), Turkey (aids Islamic State) and Saudi Arabia (aids Taliban and Islamic State) actually aiding our enemies in far too many instances.

This is a record that demands more than a simple accounting or retribution from proponents and agents of Islam or “diplomatic conferences” and negotiated peace. America must encourage the decline of Islam, as it is now configured, within Her borders, by halting all Muslim immigration and utilizing forceful countermeasures to defeat any Islamic political adventurism focused on subverting and abrogating our U.S. Constitution. America must defeat the islamofascists and Islam abroad more definitively than the Allies defeated the Ottoman Empire, with or without the Western nations, through political, military and any other necessary means; defeat them so definitively that they beg for relief from the spilling of Muslim blood, and they quit their efforts to harm us and content themselves within the confines of a (renewed? _ modernized? _ civilized?) Middle East of their own making. America must take this course to avoid the complete islamification of our country and a certain bloodier future, since the Islamic world will never totally reject the imposition of Islam’s ideology by the sword.

Whether “Islam is at a crossroads” or not, I don’t give a damn. Let Allah sort it out, if they really hate living so much. Let Allah sort it out, if they hate modernization, secularism, civilization and Westerners. Let Allah sort it out if they wish to die in various internecine battles between Shia and Sunni sects or by the hands of Western forces; they can do what they want, so long as they do it over there and no longer harm Americans and Christians here and abroad. And let Allah sort it out if they reject peace and wish to be isolated from the civilized world.

The Muslim Reform Movement Plays Fantasy Islam

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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.

Frontpage, by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby, Dec. 10, 2015:

In December 2015, a small group of “Muslim reformers” met in Washington DC to discuss the reform of Islam.  They stated they were “Muslims who live in the 21st century” who were “in a battle for the soul of Islam.”  They proclaimed that they stood for “a respectful, merciful and inclusive interpretation of Islam.”  They called their meeting the Summit of Western Muslim Voices of Reform and named themselves the Muslim Reform Movement.  On December 4, 2015, fourteen “founding authors” from this movement signed the Declaration for Muslim Reform, laying out their beliefs.

At the conclusion of the event, two participants posted a signed copy of this Declaration on the door of the Islamic Center of Washington DC (a la Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church in 1517).  The document was quickly removed, and so far there has been little, if any, support for this reform movement from the greater Muslim-American community.

Here is the reason for that lack of support: the Preamble and Declaration are only two pages in length.  But in those two pages these “founding authors” fundamentally rejected the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad in an effort to create their own Fantasy Islam that is more compatible with Western, Judeo-Christian values.  Let’s examine some parts of that Declaration for Muslim Reform.

We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence…

So starts out the second paragraph of the Preamble.   But the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad are rife with violence.

The Koran commands Muslims specifically to kill non-Muslims (9:5), specifically to fight against Jews and Christians (9:29), and generally to fight against and be violent toward non-Muslims (e.g., 2:216, 4:74, 5:33, 8:12, 8:39, 8:57, 9:14, 9:73, 9:111, 9:123, 48:29, and 66:9).

Muhammad was proud that he had been made victorious through terror and fear (e.g. Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 2977; and Sunan An-Nasa’i, No. 432).  He even said, “My livelihood is under the shade of my spear” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book 56, Chapter 88).  “Under the shade of my spear” means war plunder.

Muhammad is the standard of conduct for Muslims.  Muhammad supervised the beheading of 600-900 captured Jewish males, including non-combatants, and over the years ordered individuals killed for criticizing Islam.  Muhammad even ordered poets to be killed.  The following is a portion of a letter written shortly after the Muslim conquest of Mecca in 630 AD.  It was sent to a non-Muslim poet who used to satirize Muhammad, from the poet’s brother:

Allah’s Messenger killed some men in Makkah who used to satirize and harm him, and the poets who survived fled in all directions for their lives.  So, if you want to save your skin, hasten to Allah’s Messenger.  He never kills those who come to him repenting.  If you refuse to do as I say, it is up to you to try to save your skin by any means.

The Sealed Nectar, p. 521

Violence and Islam go hand-in-hand.

We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including… sexual orientation…

We find this in A3 of the Declaration.  But Muhammad cursed lesbians and gays (Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 5886) and said that whoever is caught in a homosexual act should be killed (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, p. 402).

We…consider all people equal…

This is found in B2 of the Declaration.  Muhammad felt differently.  He said that Jews and Christians were worth only half of a Muslim (Sunan Ibn Majah, No. 2644).  He said that women were deficient in intelligence and religion (Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 304), and that it took the freeing of two female slaves to equal the virtue of freeing one male slave (Jami’ At-Tirmidhi, No. 1547).  The Koran forbids Muslim women from marrying a non-Muslim (2:221), but a Muslim man can marry Jewish and Christian women (5:5).  And the Koran states that Jews and Christians are among the worst of people (98:6), while Muslims are the best of people (98:7).

We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness…

This is found in B3 of the Declaration.  But this statement is a specific rejection of two verses in the Koran.  4:12 states that a woman only inherits one half of what a man would get, and this means that if there is more than one wife, all the wives will have to share that one-half portion.  2:282 states that in property matters it takes the testimony of two women to equal that of one man.  Are these verses not the words of Allah?

Sharia is manmade.

This is an amazing claim made in C1 of the Declaration.  In reality, Sharia Law is Islamic Sacred Law based on the commands of Allah found in the Koran and on the teachings and example of Muhammad, who spoke for Allah.  Does the word blasphemy come to mind?

Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam.

This is another amazing claim, found in C2 of the Declaration.  After all, in the Koran Allah states that Islam was perfected during the time of Muhammad (5:3).  How then can something that is perfect be criticized?  And there are many verses that specifically prohibit criticism of Islam, Allah, or Muhammad (e.g. 4:59, 4:115, 9:63, 33:36, 33:57, and 59:7).

Muhammad did not like criticism.  For example, he personally ordered the killing of certain individuals who had criticized him or Islam (‘Amsa’ Bint Marwan, Abu ‘Afak, Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, and Abu Rafi’).  And he gave retroactive approval to the separate killings by Muslims of three individuals who had earlier criticized him or Islam.

Apostasy is not a crime.

This statement is in C3 of the Declaration.  These reformers are rejecting 4:89 of the Koran which commands the killing of those who leave Islam.  They are also rejecting specific statements from their prophet Muhammad, who stated that death was the penalty for those who left Islam (e.g. Sahih Al-Bukhari, Nos. 3017 and 6878; and Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas, 36.18.15, in which Muhammad specified death by beheading for apostasy).

Conclusion

In an effort to “reform” Islam, a small band of aspiring Muslim reformers met in the capital of a non-Muslim country, proclaimed themselves to be “founding authors” (why not go all the way and say Founding Fathers?), created a document that rejected Muhammad’s Islam in favor of Western, Judeo-Christian values, and then followed the example of an earlier non-Muslim who wanted to “reform” his own non-Muslim religion.

If folks are serious about religious reform, one thinks they would like to maintain some connection to their own religious traditions as a basis for that reform.  But the Muslim Reform Movement has apparently decided otherwise and seems more interested in establishing a connection with the non-Muslim Western world as the basis for their reform.  Such is the luxury of playing Fantasy Islam.  And this is the reason why there seems to be little, if any, support coming from the greater Muslim-American community for this small group of aspiring reformers.  It is only attention from the non-Muslim world that will sustain the Muslim Reform Movement.

Why Americanized Muslim Reformers Are Failing

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

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

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

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

Islam was Perfected during the Time of Muhammad

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

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

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

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

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

Sunan Ibn Majah, No. 2539

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

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

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Nos. 7050-7051

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

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

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

The Koran Only

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

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

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

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

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

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

Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas, 46.3

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

Personal Interpretations of Salad Bar Islam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, p. 588

Inaccurate Historical Information

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

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

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

The Life of Muhammad, p. 555

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their Audience Appears to be Mainly Non-Muslims

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Here are reasons why Americanized Muslim reformers are failing:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glazov Gang: Choudary, Spencer and Jasser Battle It Out On “Jihad in Chattanooga.”

free-672x372By Jamie Glazov July 31, 2015:

This special episode of The Glazov Gang was joined by Anjem Choudary, a London Imam, Robert Spencer, the Director of JihadWatch.org, and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

The three guests came on the show to discuss “Jihad in Chattanooga.”

Don’t miss the fireworks:

Islam between Radicalism and Reform

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TONGUE-TIED

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

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

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

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

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

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Islam’s ‘Reformation’ Is Already Here—and It’s Called ‘ISIS’

vcBy Raymond Ibrahim, May 7, 2015:

The idea that Islam needs to reform is again in the spotlight following the recent publication of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.  While Ali makes the argument that Islam can reform—and is in desperate need of taking the extreme measures she suggests to do so—many of her critics offer a plethora of opposing claims, including that Islam need not reform at all.

The one argument not being made, however, is the one I make below—namely, that Islam has already “reformed.”  And violence, intolerance, and extremism—typified by the Islamic State (“ISIS”)—are the net result of this “reformation.”

Such a claim only sounds absurd due to our understanding of the word “reform.”  Yet despite its positive connotations, “reform” simply means to “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western connotations.

Muslim notions of “improving” society can include purging it of “infidels” and “apostates,” and segregating Muslim men from women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home. Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—is an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society from a strictly Islamic point of view.

In short, an Islamic reformation will not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their first premises and reference points.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they naturally attribute Western connotations to the word.

Historical Parallels: Islam’s Reformation and the Protestant Reformation

At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible.  With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching.  So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.

Islam’s current reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.

As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures.  The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”

In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world.  Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,

translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands…  [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).

This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears.  The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet—including every atrocity ISIS commits, such as beheading, crucifying, and burning “infidels,” even mocking their corpses—is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists.  Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.

In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished.  Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted than their ancestors with the often black and white teachings of their scriptures, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.

Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it exclusively with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it” (Bernard Lewis,The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the “reformists,” with ISIS at their head.

Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).  This is an important point to be revisited later.  Muslims who do not become disaffected after becoming better acquainted with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures, and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.

Christianity and Islam: Antithetical Teachings, Antithetical Results

How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another.   This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scriptures together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings.

Obviously a point by point comparison of the scriptures of Islam and Christianity is inappropriate for an article of this length (see my “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam” for a more comprehensive treatment).

Suffice it to note some contradictions (which naturally will be rejected as a matter of course by the relativistic mindset):

  • The New Testament preaches peace, brotherly love, tolerance, and forgiveness—for all humans, believers and non-believers alike.  Instead of combatting and converting “infidels,” Christians are called to pray for those who persecute them and turn the other cheek (which is not the same thing as passivity, for Christians are also called to be bold and unapologetic).  Conversely, the Koran and Hadith call for war, or jihad, against all non-believers, until they either convert, accept subjugation and discrimination, or die.
  • The New Testament has no punishment for the apostate from Christianity.  Conversely, Islam’s prophet himself decreed that “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
  • The New Testament teaches monogamy, one husband and one wife, thereby dignifying the woman.  The Koran allows polygamy—up to four wives—and the possession of concubines, or sex-slaves.  More literalist readings treat all women as possessions.
  • The New Testament discourages lying (e.g., Col. 3:9).  The Koran permits it; the prophet himself often deceived others, and permitted lying to one’s wife, to reconcile quarreling parties, and to the “infidel” during war.

It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Western civilization developed the way it did—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Islamic civilization is the way it is—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

The Islamic Reformation Is Here—and It’s ISIS

Those in the West waiting for an Islamic “reformation” along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam’s reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation—with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition—and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) But because the core teachings of the founders and scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam’s reformation is producing something markedly different.

Put differently, those in the West calling for an “Islamic reformation” need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity; the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society.  That is precisely what Ayaan Hirsi Ali is doing.  Some of her reforms as outlined in Heretic call for Muslims to begin doubting Muhammad (whose words and deeds are in the Hadith) and the Koran—the very two foundations of Islam.

That would not be a “reformation”—certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.

Habitually overlooked is that Western secularism was, and is, possible only because Christian scripture lends itself to the division between church and state, the spiritual and the temporal.

Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular—or any—state.  Christ called on believers to “render unto Caesar the things of Caesar [temporal] and unto God the things of God [spiritual]” (Matt. 22:21).  For the “kingdom of God” is “not of this world” (John 18:36).  Indeed, a good chunk of the New Testament deals with how “man is not justified by the works of the law… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law; and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law—Sharia—and the state.   Allah decrees in the Koran that “It is not fitting for true believers—men or women—to take their choice in affairs if Allah and His Messenger have decreed otherwise. He that disobeys Allah and His Messenger strays far indeed!” (33:36).   Allah tells the prophet of Islam, “We put you on an ordained way [literarily in Arabic, sharia] of command; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who are ignorant” (45:18).

Mainstream Islamic exegesis has always interpreted such verses to mean that Muslims must follow the commandments of Allah as laid out in the Koran and the example of Muhammad as laid out in the Hadith—in a word, Sharia.

And Sharia is so concerned with the details of this world, with the everyday doings of Muslims, that every conceivable human action falls under five rulings, or ahkam: the forbidden (haram), the discouraged (makruh), the neutral (mubah), the recommended (mustahib), and the obligatory (wajib).

Conversely, Islam offers little concerning the spiritual (sidelined Sufism the exception).

Unlike Christianity, then, Islam without the law—without Sharia—becomes meaningless.   After all, the Arabic word Islam literally means “submit.”  Submit to what?  Allah’s laws as codified in Sharia and derived from the Koran and Hadith—the very three things Ali is asking Muslims to start doubting.

The “Islamic reformation” some in the West are calling for is really nothing less than an Islam without Islam—secularization not reformation; Muslims prioritizing secular, civic, and humanitarian laws over Allah’s law; a “reformation” that would slowly see the religion of Muhammad go into the dustbin of history.

Such a scenario is certainly more plausible than believing that Islam can be true to its scriptures and history in any meaningful way and still peacefully coexist with, much less complement, modernity the way Christianity does.

Note: An earlier version of this article first appeared on PJ Media in June 2014

Reformist Approach to Sharia a Refreshing Break with Academic Apologists

Rumee-Ahmed-ramadan-770.JPGJihad Watch, by Andrew Harrod, May 2, 2015:

In a refreshing departure from Sharia apologias common in Middle East studies, University of British Columbia Islamic law professor  rejected the “myth” of Sharia (Islamic law) as a “static, fixed, reified entity” on April 22 in the Georgetown University Center for Contemporary Arab Studies’ wood-paneled boardroom. Ahmed’s presentation, “Shari’a 2.0: Islamic Systematics and the Science of Islamic Legal Reform” before a student-dominated audience of about fifteen, demonstrated simultaneously Sharia’s all-too human origins as well as its embedded dangers.

He described a “sharp, sharp disconnect” between contemporary and historical Islamic interpretations of Sharia. According to the former, Islamic legal scholars substantiated their claim of being central to legitimating Islamic regimes that claimed to rule by God’s law. Yet judges who were not legal scholars often made politically motivated legal decisions that were subject to subsequent overruling by temporal rulers such as caliphs. Campaigning armies, meanwhile, would simply make unilateral decisions without consulting legal scholars on issues such as the division of spoils.

Concerning pre-colonial Islamic legal scholars, Ahmed questioned the power and reputation of such men in a world of three percent literacy. Political patronage could compromise the purity of their intentions. Danger lurked, he noted, since their struggles with rulers could lead to imprisonment or even execution.

Ahmed expressed a “very cynical view” regarding past legal use of Islam’s canonical texts. Quran 8:67-68, concerning the Muslim victory at the Battle of Badr under Muhammad, suggested that taking prisoners manifested a failure to fulfill a divine command to fight the enemy. But “sharp breaks” throughout history in the acceptance of taking and ransoming prisoners by Sunni Islam’sHanafi school of jurisprudence demonstrated how Islamic law responded to political developments with theological reinterpretation.

Practical realities aside, Ahmed described how earlier Islamic legal scholars created in their voluminous writings “subjunctive worlds.” Although these legal visions often had no expectation of implementation, they expressed the “ideal relationship between human beings and God.” “Writing a book of law is never a waste of time,” he noted, but is a “way to express your religiosity” or a “devotional act” similar to prayer. The intricacy of such legal thinking means that attempts to reform a single point of Islamic law on, for example, punishments involving whipping necessitates considering several other elements of Islamic legal theory.

Islamic legal history is replete with controversies surrounding reform, he said. Quran 5:38 was “pretty clear” in mandating hand amputation as punishment for stealing, although some had tried to interpret this verse to mean “cut off their power” with imprisonment. Several hadith, or canonical narratives of Muhammad’s life, however, did indeed mandate amputation and formed a corresponding pre-colonial Islamic legal consensus, contrary practice notwithstanding.

Slavery’s permissibility received a similar “unequivocal yes” in Islamic law sixty or seventy years ago. Political pressures forced Muslim scholars to justify abolition in what Ahmed described as a “little bit of a technical argument” premised on the understanding that “times have changed.” The Islamic State (ISIS), though, has recently reintroduced slavery, arguing that times have changed again.

Other controversies involving Sharia have been addressed creatively, Ahmed noted. The Egyptian jihadist group Gama’a al-Islamiyya, for example, discovered in Western contract law a unique basis for abolishing airline hijacking: the purchaser of an airline ticket may not violate its terms by destroying or seizing the plane. In the political sphere, while many European diaspora Muslims vote simply for the sake of political participation, the Sharia principle of maslaha or public good allows conservative Muslims to participate in non-Muslim politics in order to advance Islam.

One of Ahmed’s Powerpoints stated, “Gender: The Greatest Challenge to Islamic Reform.” “Gender pervades every part of Islamic law,” he explained, a law that was traditionally patriarchal. The Quran, for example 4:11, prescribes half the inheritance for women as for men.

Nonetheless, Sharia’s past malleability made Ahmed optimistic that in Islam, “any law, no matter how entrenched it seems in Muslim texts, can be reformed.” To this end, he is developing an application allowing popular citation of legal arguments and sources in order to “democratize” and “crowdsource Sharia.” That way, less educated and “state-sponsored ulama” (religious scholars) will “not have a monopoly on Islamic law.”

Ahmed himself would like to “get less religion” in Muslim governance, but Sharia is not going to disappear from Muslim societies anytime soon, including pertinent national constitution clauses. An “overwhelming number” of surveyed Muslims expressed a belief in Sharia, often including corporal punishment, as divine. Alternatively, millions of Muslims sought an Islamic theological basis to justify their support for human rights norms such as gender equality. “Context driving law is not just legitimate, it’s inevitable,” he concluded.

Ahmed’s illuminating and refreshingly honest examination of Sharia raised several important concerns surrounding Islamic law and its reform. On one hand, critical examination of Sharia’s past could cause many Muslims to be as reform-minded as Ahmed and to reject Sharia as a divinely-ordained, unalterable legal code that demands future application. On the other hand, Sharia contains serious moral failings not easily resolved even with the most sophisticated (or sophistic) Islamic theological and legal arguments.

As presented by Ahmed, Islamic law suffers from an unwieldy, unstable, and incoherent structure stemming from Islam’s doctrinal foundations. As one of his slides stated, Islam’s arbitrary conception of God is “beyond our moral code.” Islamic norms then derive from Muhammad, who “is supposed to be the pristine believer” in Islamic teaching and thus, according to some Islamic teachings, incapable of sin. On the basis of the life of this seventh-century desert dweller, Islamic law has accepted slavery while possessing an “unnecessary amount of information on the law of wells.” Developing modern legal standards for a free society within such a body of law will be difficult indeed, which is why Ahmed’s insistence on reform is so important.

Andrew E. Harrod is a freelance 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; follow him on twitter at @AEHarrod. He wrote this essay for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

Why Islam Needs a Reformation

“Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.” Nearly 20 years later, Huntington looks more right than ever before. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide. The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.

Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.

When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.

It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”

As I see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts. It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.

Instead of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace, we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs that are used to justify those acts.

As it turns out, the West has some experience with this sort of reformist project. It is precisely what took place in Judaism and Christianity over the centuries, as both traditions gradually consigned the violent passages of their own sacred texts to the past. Many parts of the Bible and the Talmud reflect patriarchal norms, and both also contain many stories of harsh human and divine retribution. As President Barack Obama said in remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last month, “Remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

Islamic State militants marching through Raqqa, Syria, a stronghold of the Sunni extremist group, in an undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Islamic State militants marching through Raqqa, Syria, a stronghold of the Sunni extremist group, in an undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Yet today, because their faiths went through a long, meaningful process of Reformation and Enlightenment, the vast majority of Jews and Christians have come to dismiss religious scripture that urges intolerance or violence. There are literalist fringes in both religions, but they are true fringes. Regrettably, in Islam, it is the other way around: It is those seeking religious reform who are the fringe element.

Any serious discussion of Islam must begin with its core creed, which is based on the Quran (the words said to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad) and the hadith (the accompanying works that detail Muhammad’s life and words). Despite some sectarian differences, this creed unites all Muslims. All, without exception, know by heart these words: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His messenger.” This is the Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.

The Shahada might seem to be a declaration of belief no different from any other. But the reality is that the Shahada is both a religious and a political symbol.

In the early days of Islam, when Muhammad was going from door to door in Mecca trying to persuade the polytheists to abandon their idols of worship, he was inviting them to accept that there was no god but Allah and that he was Allah’s messenger.

After 10 years of trying this kind of persuasion, however, he and his small band of believers went to Medina, and from that moment, Muhammad’s mission took on a political dimension. Unbelievers were still invited to submit to Allah, but after Medina, they were attacked if they refused. If defeated, they were given the option to convert or to die. (Jews and Christians could retain their faith if they submitted to paying a special tax.)

No symbol represents the soul of Islam more than the Shahada. But today there is a contest within Islam for the ownership of that symbol. Who owns the Shahada? Is it those Muslims who want to emphasize Muhammad’s years in Mecca or those who are inspired by his conquests after Medina? On this basis, I believe that we can distinguish three different groups of Muslims.

The first group is the most problematic. These are the fundamentalists who, when they say the Shahada, mean: “We must live by the strict letter of our creed.” They envision a regime based on Shariah, Islamic religious law. They argue for an Islam largely or completely unchanged from its original seventh-century version. What is more, they take it as a requirement of their faith that they impose it on everyone else.

I shall call them Medina Muslims, in that they see the forcible imposition of Shariah as their religious duty. They aim not just to obey Muhammad’s teaching but also to emulate his warlike conduct after his move to Medina. Even if they do not themselves engage in violence, they do not hesitate to condone it.

It is Medina Muslims who call Jews and Christians “pigs and monkeys.” It is Medina Muslims who prescribe death for the crime of apostasy, death by stoning for adultery and hanging for homosexuality. It is Medina Muslims who put women in burqas and beat them if they leave their homes alone or if they are improperly veiled.

Muslim children carry torches during a parade before Eid al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on July 27, 2014, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

Muslim children carry torches during a parade before Eid al-Fitr, at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, on July 27, 2014, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The second group—and the clear majority throughout the Muslim world—consists of Muslims who are loyal to the core creed and worship devoutly but are not inclined to practice violence. I call them Mecca Muslims. Like devout Christians or Jews who attend religious services every day and abide by religious rules in what they eat and wear, Mecca Muslims focus on religious observance. I was born in Somalia and raised as a Mecca Muslim. So were the majority of Muslims from Casablanca to Jakarta.

Yet the Mecca Muslims have a problem: Their religious beliefs exist in an uneasy tension with modernity—the complex of economic, cultural and political innovations that not only reshaped the Western world but also dramatically transformed the developing world as the West exported it. The rational, secular and individualistic values of modernity are fundamentally corrosive of traditional societies, especially hierarchies based on gender, age and inherited status.

Trapped between two worlds of belief and experience, these Muslims are engaged in a daily struggle to adhere to Islam in the context of a society that challenges their values and beliefs at every turn. Many are able to resolve this tension only by withdrawing into self-enclosed (and increasingly self-governing) enclaves. This is called cocooning, a practice whereby Muslim immigrants attempt to wall off outside influences, permitting only an Islamic education for their children and disengaging from the wider non-Muslim community.

It is my hope to engage this second group of Muslims—those closer to Mecca than to Medina—in a dialogue about the meaning and practice of their faith. I recognize that these Muslims are not likely to heed a call for doctrinal reformation from someone they regard as an apostate and infidel. But they may reconsider if I can persuade them to think of me not as an apostate but as a heretic: one of a growing number of people born into Islam who have sought to think critically about the faith we were raised in. It is with this third group—only a few of whom have left Islam altogether—that I would now identify myself.

These are the Muslim dissidents. A few of us have been forced by experience to conclude that we could not continue to be believers; yet we remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. The majority of dissidents are reforming believers—among them clerics who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.

How many Muslims belong to each group? Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations estimates that only 3% of the world’s Muslims understand Islam in the militant terms I associate with Muhammad’s time in Medina. But out of well over 1.6 billion believers, or 23% of the globe’s population, that 48 million seems to be more than enough. (I would put the number significantly higher, based on survey data on attitudes toward Shariah in Muslim countries.)

In any case, regardless of the numbers, it is the Medina Muslims who have captured the world’s attention on the airwaves, over social media, in far too many mosques and, of course, on the battlefield.

The Medina Muslims pose a threat not just to non-Muslims. They also undermine the position of those Mecca Muslims attempting to lead a quiet life in their cultural cocoons throughout the Western world. But those under the greatest threat are the dissidents and reformers within Islam, who face ostracism and rejection, who must brave all manner of insults, who must deal with the death threats—or face death itself.

For the world at large, the only viable strategy for containing the threat posed by the Medina Muslims is to side with the dissidents and reformers and to help them to do two things: first, identify and repudiate those parts of Muhammad’s legacy that summon Muslims to intolerance and war, and second, persuade the great majority of believers—the Mecca Muslims—to accept this change.

Islam is at a crossroads. Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion. To some extent—not least because of widespread revulsion at the atrocities of Islamic State, al Qaeda and the rest—this process has already begun. But it needs leadership from the dissidents, and they in turn stand no chance without support from the West.

What needs to happen for us to defeat the extremists for good? Economic, political, judicial and military tools have been proposed and some of them deployed. But I believe that these will have little effect unless Islam itself is reformed.

Such a reformation has been called for repeatedly at least since the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent abolition of the caliphate. But I would like to specify precisely what needs to be reformed.

I have identified five precepts central to Islam that have made it resistant to historical change and adaptation. Only when the harmfulness of these ideas are recognized and they are repudiated will a true Muslim Reformation have been achieved.

Here are the five areas that require amendment:

1. Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century. And although Islam maintains that the Quran is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the place and time of its birth.

2. The supremacy of life after death.
The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.

3. Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.
Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.

4. The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.
There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and politically empowered clerics.

5. The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.
Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the imposition of religion by the sword.

I know that this argument will make many Muslims uncomfortable. Some are bound to be offended by my proposed amendments. Others will contend that I am not qualified to discuss these complex issues of theology and law. I am also afraid—genuinely afraid—that it will make a few Muslims even more eager to silence me.

But this is not a work of theology. It is more in the nature of a public intervention in the debate about the future of Islam. The biggest obstacle to change within the Muslim world is precisely its suppression of the sort of critical thinking I am attempting here. If my proposal for reform helps to spark a serious discussion of these issues among Muslims themselves, I will consider it a success.

Let me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe.” At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.

For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.

But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out. We cannot remain on the sidelines, as though the outcome has nothing to do with us. For if the Medina Muslims win and the hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, the rest of the world too will pay an enormous price—not only in blood spilled but also in freedom lost.

This essay is adapted from Ms. Hirsi Ali’s new book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” to be published Tuesday by HarperCollins (which, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp). Her previous books include “Infidel” and “Nomad: From Islam to America, A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations.”