The Meat Head Mufti

The Meat Head Mufti
By Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 14, 2007

Far from bowing to rising clamor for his deportation, the controversial Mufti Sheikh Taj Aldin al-Hilali is taking on the political establishment. Al-Hilali outraged Australians last fall by describing women as “uncovered meat,” and in January compounded their furor when he claimed that Muslims had more right to the country than the “Anglo-Saxon” heirs to Australia’s convict ancestors. On March 12, al-Hilali spokesman Keysar Trad brazenly baited politicians to stop using Muslims as a “political football.”

In October 2006, after al-Hilali’s misogynist sermon at west Sydney’s Lakemba mosque, Prime Minister John Howard criticized him and other politicians demanded his dismissal and deportation. Egyptian-born al-Halali has been in that position before, however: after spewing anti-Jewish hatred at the University of Sydney in 1988, deportation proceedings began. But under Muslim pressure, in 1990, Australia granted him citizenship.

Al-Hilali certainly follows recent radical custom. In Iraq, Islamic radicals have slain at least 20 women for living (and dressing) as liberated women. In 2005, a Spanish judge sentenced Mohamed Kamal Mustafa to 15 months in prison for writing, “blows [to a disobedient wife] should be concentrated on the hands and feet using a rod that is thin and light so that it does not leave scars or bruises on the body.” And in March 2003, Saudi Arabian religious police trapped 890 girls and women in a burning school rather than let them out in “improper dress.” At least 15 girls died.

In Status of Women in Islam the “greatest” current-day Islamic scholar, Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf Qaradawi derides any woman with “free rein to assert herself, promote her personality, enjoy her life and her femininity… mix with men freely, experience them closely where they would be together and alone, travel with them, go to cinemas or dance till midnight together.”

Actually, the “women are meat” motif is apparently Islamic tradition. Second Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (634-644) stated, “innamaa al-nisaa’ laHm `alaa waDam illaa maa dhubba `anhu” (Women are only meat on the butcher’s block, except for any parts that have dried up), according to a 1937 reference by Islamic scholar Georges Vajda to a medieval Arabic text. [1]

Likewise, from Cairo in January, al-Hilali laid claim to Islamic historical and cultural supremacy, prompting Australian leaders to urge al-Hilali not to come back. He stated on Cairo Today TV that Muslims with “deep roots in Australian soil [from] before the English arrived” had more right to Australia than Anglo-Saxons, who “arrived in chains.” (It wasn’t the first time, either: in 2004, he said that Afghan Muslims, not Capt. James Cook, discovered Australia.) Now, Al-Hilali also blames “racism” for the conviction and harsh sentencing of a Muslim gang rapist. His critics, he added, were racists, too.

Some Muslims rebuked him: Darulfatwa (Australia’s Islamic High Council) called al-Hilali an ill-respected, “divisive figure” and asked the Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) running the Lakemba mosque to fire him. The Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations (FAIR) also sought “sending [al-Hilali] out to an early pasture.”

But Melbourne Sheik Fehmi Naji warned leaders against bullying Muslims; and spokesman (and Islamic Friendship Association president) Keysar Trad dismissed al-Hilali’s latest outrage gaucherie as “a slip of the tongue.”

Meanwhile, the British Undercover Mosque documentary broadcast west Sydney Global Islamic Youth Centre imam Sheik Feiz Mohammed despising infidels as filthy, dirty, disbelieving “kaffirs,” and ridiculing Jews as “pigs.” They’d found him, in the Islamic DVD “Death Series,” urging young Muslims to be holy warriors, and their parents to “Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom.”

To top it off, 450 Muslims packed a January Hizb ut Tahrir Khilafa conference in Sydney’s southwest Lakemba area, where Indonesian radical Ismail Yusanto urged “all the sons and daughters of Islam” worldwide to impose “the divine order of Islam,” take “responsibility for effecting political change in the Muslim world to manifest universal brotherhood”–and wage jihad for the establishment and defence of a universal Muslim state headed by one religious leader.

Clearly, Al-Hilali (and cohorts) subscribe to the belief succinctly expressed by Osama bin Laden–“The earth belongs to Allah and thus only Allah’s rule should prevail all over the earth.” They hold Muslims (believers) to be superior to others–and believe Islam should rule the world. As Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris opined on Palestinian TV on May 13, 2005, “We ruled the entire world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again.”

Like it or not, Al-Hilali and friends simply follow Islamic scriptural doctrine, which establishes the “divine,” i.e. unchallengeable notion (Qur’an, 3:110) that Muslims are “best community that hath been raised up for mankind…,” that most Christians and Jews “are evil-livers” and that all land belongs to Allah, [2] like a mosque (masjid), which can never revert to private ownership.[3]

After migrating to Lebanon, in 1982 during its civil war, al-Hilali traveled down under on a tourist visa; he later refused to depart. In September 1988, reports a web archive of Australia’s Counter Intelligence-Counter Espionage-Counter Terrorism, he recited traditional lessons from Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the world’s leading Islamic institution, to Muslim students in Sydney:

The Jews struggle with humanity is as old as history itself; the present continuing struggle with the Islam[ic] nation is a natural continuation of the Jews enmity towards the human race as a whole.

Judaism controls the world by secret movements as the destructive doctrines and groups, such as communism, libertinism, Free Masons, Baha’ism, the Rotary clubs, the nationalistic and racist doctrines.

He continued, Jews attempt “to control the world through sex, then sexual perversion, then the promotion of espionage, treason and economic hoarding.”

Al-Hilali subsequently pretended to be chastened: On November 15, 2001, at a September 11 memorial with Buddhist, Christian and Jewish leaders, he opposed terrorism, killing and wars. And in November 2003, he coyly labeled Australia “our compassionate mother,” criticized criminals among Sydney’s Muslims and admonished them to “love this country or leave it; shape up or ship out.”

But at a Sidon, Lebanon mosque in 2004, al-Halali said “September 11 is God’s work against oppressors,” praised the hijacker “pilot who reached his objective without error..,” lauded the global “war on infidels” and heralded the “true buy” who, “despite his mother’s objections,” welcomes the jihad imposed on him to be martyred.

Fast forward: Last November, the same AFIC that named al-Hilali mufti in 1989 to thwart his deportation, formed the National Imams Council following his Meat Head gaffe, ostensibly to independently decide his fate. Who is AFIC president Ikebal Patel kidding? In February, rumors of al-Hilaly’s pending dismissal proved false with LMA president Tom Zreika’s announcement that the board would let him stay at Lakemba mosque until the contrived AFIC-NIC meeting in early April.

With the al-Hilali camp’s latest political announcement, Australia’s radical Muslims have also announced their strategy to again leverage multiculturalism and Western guilt for their advantage. This time, they’re fighting Christians along with the politicians: Christian Democratic Party leader, Rev. Fred Nile, called Monday for a 10-year moratorium on Muslim immigration to Australia, in favor of Christians fleeing Islamic persecution–which not incidentally goes largely uncovered, in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Pakistan.

But failing a massive Christian campaign on the issue, Muslim pressure again looks ascendant in Australia, and al-Hilali highly unlikely to be sent packing for good. After all, the country’s parliamentary multicultural affairs minister recently assured the public that a government-sponsored Islamic center will produce moderate imams.

NOTES:

[1] Georges Vajda, “Juifs et Musulmans Selon Le Hadit” [“Jews and Muslims According to the Hadith”] Journal Asiatique 1937, Vol. 229, pp. 57-127, included in (upcoming) Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: from Sacred Texts to Solemm History (2007, Prometheus).

[2] Qur’an 16:41: “And those who became fugitives for the cause of Allah after they had been oppressed, We verily shall give them goodly lodging in the world, and surely the reward of the Hereafter is greater, if they but knew;”

Quran, 57:2: “To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He Who gives Life and Death; and He has Power over all things.;”

Qur’an 59:7: “That which Allah giveth as spoil unto His messenger from the people of the townships, it is for Allah and His messenger and for the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer, that it become not a commodity between the rich among you. And whatsoever the messenger giveth you, take it. And whatsoever he forbiddeth, abstain (from it). And keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is stern in reprisal.”

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53, Number 392: Narrated Abu Huraira: “[The Prophet said to the Jews], “If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle.”

Abu’l Hasan al-Mawardi, (d. 1058), “Chapter 12: “The division of fay [property taken from infidels without battle] and the Ghaneemah [property taken by force],” and Chapter 13: “The Imposition of the Jizyah [head tax on unbelievers] and the Kharaj [land tax on unbelievers],” and “Chapter 14: The different statuses of the regions,” al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (The Laws of Islamic Governance), 1996 Ta-Ha edition, pp. 207-251. In any case, all confiscated property is “taken from the nonbelievers as a way of exacting revenge.” (p. 207) According to al-Mawardi, second Caliph Umar ibn al- Khattab stated that he had “discovered what is good in that which Allah has given me authority over by means of three thing: fulfilling a trust [to Islam], taking by means of force, and ruling by what Allah has revealed; surely I have only found the good in this wealth by three things: that it is taken justly, that it is distributed justly [to Muslims and to benefit Islam], and that it is prevented from being spent on unjustified things….” (p. 251);

Ralph W. Brauer, “Boundaries and Frontiers in Medieval Muslim Geography,” (1995), American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 85, Part 6, pp.65- 69;

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal anti-Discrimination List, Witness statement of John Mark Durie, 3 Oct, 2003;

Abul Ala Maududi, (founder of terrorist group Jamaat-e-Islami), “The Islamic Concept of Life;

“The Truth,”(“The present ‘system’ whereby all are forced to be ‘subscribers’ and all are forced to pay whatever is demanded is to now cease as man is awakened from their ‘sleep of ignorance’ and are enlightened by their Allah. There will be no more land taxes as all land belongs to Allah not man.”) http://www.dar-es-salaam.org/web/hell.htm, p.22.

[3] Thomas P. Hughes, “Masjid,” Dictionary of Islam, 1895, 1994 reprint, Kazi, pp.329-332: “The Muslim law regarding the erection and endowment (waqf) of Masjids, as contained in Sunni and Shi’ah works, is as follows: According to the Sunnis: ‘…as soon as [a property-owner] separates [the masjid] from his property and allows even a single person to say his prayers in it, his right to the property as a mosque ceases…. delivery of it is made to the Qazi or his deputy….. Abu Yusuf was of the opinion that the property in a Masjid never reverts to the original appropriator….” [taken by Hughes from the Hidayah, vol. ii, p. 356] The Shi’ah law regarding the endowment of the Masjids, or land for the benefit of Masjids, does not differ in any important particulars…..” (pp. 331-333)

The Skinny on Katie

The Skinny on Katie
By Jennifer Rubin
Published 3/14/2007 12:08:16 AM

It was announced last week that Katie Couric is getting new producer, Rick Kaplan (formerly of ABC,CNN, and MSNBC), to beef up her nightly news broadcast. I confess my initial reaction was to try to recall the last time I watched a network evening news broadcast. I think it was when I had the flu in 2003. Really, who among the politically curious in America goes until 6:30 pm to catch the news and can find 30 minutes of time at that hour of the day to watch it? It is remarkable that apparently many millions of people still do. (I’m convinced they are relatives of the anchors, retirees, or professionals taking a “mental health day” from work.) So why does it matter if Katie is perky or serious or if her newscast is substantive or biased?

We could say it matters less than in the pre-cable and pre-internet world. Surely any news consumer at any hour of the day can select from literally thousands of choices. More and more of us clearly prefer to select sources that match our level of news sophistication and political preferences. Jon Stewart may be the only “news program” an under 30 urban single person watches. Daily Kos has all the news without that annoying deference to the President a former “Dean-iac” could want. For the now chronically depressed Republican Party faithful Fox offers Iraq news with a ray of hope and a sprinkling of unflattering stories about Nancy Pelosi. But is this all a good thing?

Here’s the rub and it came more clearly and dramatically then you could have imagined. The Democratic presidential hopefuls, egged on by MoveOn.org, just bugged out of a debate in Nevada to be moderated by Fox because, well, it’s Fox and Fox is just not where liberal Democrats want to be seen. What if this is a new trend? Only Democrats appearing on MSNBC, only Republicans on Fox. Then you wouldn’t even have to see someone with an opposing view, let alone listen to news anchors reporting on things you’d rather not hear, with sly digs you don’t like.

This type of niche world has its pluses and minuses for conservatives. Conservatives will argue that without all these alternative sources conservatives get the short end of the media stick and would be the perpetual piñatas of the New York Times and broadcast news anchors. On the downside, by segregating themselves in conservative websites and the safe cocoon of Fox news, conservatives lose a real advantage they have had for years over liberals: practice in articulating their sometimes unpopular viewpoints to hostile audiences. Conservative commentators from Michelle Malkin to Laura Ingraham to Hugh Hewitt recount again and again the valued experience in college and mainstream media they gained because they were surrounded by people who disagreed with them, often rudely so.

Likewise for liberals, they are no doubt delighted with the plethora of websites from Huffington Post to DailyKos and the addition of MSNBC to their club of the left-leaning outlets. That said, it is likely not a good move to boycott the fastest growing cable news network and give the appearance they are too timid to take on Brit Hume. If they think he’s hostile, wait until they win the White House one day and have to sit through a UN General Assembly session.

So what is the answer? Maybe Katie would do better to choose a former Fox producer rather than one from MSNBC. She might hear an opposing view or two, he might suggest she modify some loaded language and the two of them could argue about whether it really is fair to say “Extreme Liberal Senator Kennedy” just like they say “Arch Conservative Sam Brownback.” Until that happens, news consumers aren’t likely to abandon their news ghettos any time soon.

Jennifer Rubin is a writer in Virginia.

Clear Libby: Bush was right, CIA sought to undermine Iraq policy

Utrecht: Ethnic Riots after Dutchman is Killed by Police

Utrecht: Ethnic Riots after Dutchman is Killed by Police
From the desk of Paul Belien on Wed, 2007-03-14 12:31
Ondiep, a working class neighbourhood in the Dutch town of Utrecht, is in turmoil. After the death last Sunday of Rinie Mulder, a 54-year old indigenous Dutchman who was shot by a police officer, non-immigrant citizens went on a rampage, burning cars, looting shops and arsoning a community centre in “inverted Paris style riots.” According to our sources the police officer who killed Mulder is a woman of Moroccan origin.

The Ondiep residents have been complaining for months about harassment and intimidation by immigrant youths of Moroccan origin. The Dutch mainstream media do not go into much detail about what is going on. Most of them do not mention the ethnicity of the victim and the police officer, though the riots clearly have an ethnic nature.

Apparently Mulder intervened when Muslim youths harassed a pregnant native Dutch woman. He was able to grab the knife of one of the youths. When the police arrived Mulder was shot because he had raised the knife. Witnesses say Mulder was indicating to the police that he had called for them.

Locals claim the police has failed to protect them for years. They say the authorities are afraid of the immigrants and tolerate their criminal behaviour. After the death of Mulder the indigenous Dutch decided they had had enough and started riots which went on for two continuous nights. The police made 130 arrests: 60 of them are Ondiep residents. According to the mainstream media the others are mainly “football hooligans” from other parts of the country. Annie Brouwer-Korf, the Socialist mayor of Utrecht, has ordered Ondiep to be sealed off from the rest of town to keep non-residents out. She expressed some sympathy for the frustrated Ondiep residents. “I understand that residents are sometimes upset about the nuisance around their own house and neighbourhood. That does you no good whatsoever.”

The riots are no surprise. As I wrote last January:

The Netherlands are bracing themselves for more [Parisian style] incidents this year. An official report published last week states that the Government has seriously underestimated “tensions between various ethnic and cultural groups of youths.”

The report says that the Dutch authorities fail to grasp the gravity of the problem. If nothing is done the country will soon witness situations similar to the French riots of 2005 and 2006 which led to the police abandoning immigrant suburbs to gangs of Muslim youths. The result of the French ambivalence is that the same gangs have now taken over effective control of more than 750 French urban neighborhoods.

Ondiep is one of the Dutch urban neighbourhoods which seem to have been abandoned by the authorities. It is hardly a surprise that the natives are beginning to fight back. The same thing happened recently in Britain.

Why I heart Fred Thompson

Why I heart Fred Thompson
Clarice Feldman
First , he eschews the mealy mouthed response to the Libby pardon–arguing, rightly I think, that the President should remedy this travesty by immediately pardoning Lewis Libby.

Then he argues that it’s a horrible idea for the Dems to keep trying to reduce the power of the Executive right now:
Amidst all this foolishness there is a serious question here. Considering the times we live in, do we really want to continue to try to chip away at the traditional powers of the president? Regardless of who wins the White House, don’t we need a strong president?
And topping off these two winners, he says we need to improve government and cannot do it without scrapping the civil service:
We’ve known for a long time that our intelligence capabilities weren’t cutting muster. It was certainly the case before 9/11, and it’s still true in Iraq and elsewhere. Now we have apparently decided that we really don’t know if North Korea has a uranium enrichment program to make bombs or not.

Whether it’s the Katrina response, the problems at Walter Reed Medical Center, bungled border security, or the IRS and FBI which can’t get their computer systems working, it seems like we’ve lost our ability to take care of some of the most basic duties of government.

Not that this problem is new. For decades, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has told us, time and time again, that we’ve lost control of the waste and fraud and mismanagement in many of our most important agencies. And it’s getting worse.

A big part of the problem is our outmoded civil-service system that makes it too hard to hire good employees and too hard to fire bad ones. The bureaucracy has become gargantuan, making accountability and reform very difficult.
Three damn good ideas–more than I’ve heard from all the candidates running for the nominations in both parties and he hasn’t even thrown his hat in the ring.

Please, Fred, run!!

Islam 101 – Part 2

Islam 101 – Part 2
Here is the second part of Islam 101. (It didn’t all fit the first time.)

d. Jihad Through History

In 622 AD (year one in the Islamic calendar, AH 1), Muhammad abandoned Mecca for the city of Medina (Yathrib) some 200 farther north in the Arabian peninsula. In Medina, Muhammad established a paramilitary organization that would spread his influence and that of his religion throughout Arabia. Because there has never been a separation of the political-military and the religious in Islam, this development was entirely natural by Islamic principles. By the time of his death in 632 AD, Muhammad had extended his control in a series of raids and battles over most of southern Arabia. The conquered populations of these areas either had to submit to Muslim rule and pay a protection tax or convert to Islam.

i. The First Major Wave of Jihad: the Arabs, 622-750 AD

Near the end of his life, Muhammad sent letters to the great empires of the Middle East demanding their submission to his authority. This dispels any notion that the Prophet intended Islam’s expansion to stop with Arabia. Indeed, it is only logical that the one true religion, revealed by the final and fullest prophet, should have universal sway. Thus, as Muhammad had fought and subdued the peoples of the Arabian peninsula, his successors Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (known as “the four rightly-guided Caliphs”) and other Caliphs fought and subdued the people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe in the name of Allah.

Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386; Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: Umar {the second Caliph} sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. … When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau {Persia} came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, “Let one of you talk to me!” Al-Mughira replied, … “Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.”
Unleashing upon the world the blitzkrieg of its day, Islam rapidly spread into the territories of Byzantium, Persia, and Western Europe in the decades after Muhammad’s death. The creaking Byzantine and Persian powers, having battled each other into mutual decline, offered little resistance to this unanticipated onslaught. The Arab Muslim armies charged into the Holy Land, conquered what is now Iraq and Iran, then swept west across North Africa, into Spain, and finally into France. The Muslim offensive was finally halted in the West at the Battle of Poitiers/Tours, not far from Paris, in 732 AD. In the east, the jihad penetrated deep into Central Asia.

As Muhammad had plundered his foes, so his successors also stripped the conquered areas — incomparably richer both materially and culturally than the desolate sands of Arabia — of their wealth and manpower. Almost overnight, the more advanced civilizations of the Middle East, North Africa, Persia, and Iberia saw their agriculture, native religions, and populations destroyed or plundered. Save for a handful of walled cities that managed to negotiate conditional surrenders, the catastrophes those lands suffered were very nearly complete.

Bat Ye’or, the leading scholar of Islam’s expansion and its treatment of non-Muslims, has provided an inestimable service through the compilation and translation of numerous primary source documents describing centuries of Islamic conquest. She includes these documents in her works on Islamic history and the plight of non-Muslims under Islamic rule. In the history of jihad, the slaughter of civilians, the desecration of churches, and the plundering of the countryside are commonplace. Here is Michael the Syrian’s account of the Muslim invasion of Cappodocia (southern Turkey) in 650 AD under Caliph Umar:

… when Muawiya {the Muslim commander} arrived {in Euchaita in Armenia} he ordered all the inhabitants to be put to the sword; he placed guards so that no one escaped. After gathering up all the wealth of the town, they set to torturing the leaders to make them show them things [treasures] that had been hidden. The Taiyaye {Muslim Arabs} led everyone into slavery — men and women, boys and girls — and they committed much debauchery in that unfortunate town: they wickedly committed immoralities inside churches. They returned to their country rejoicing.
The following description by the Muslim historian, Ibn al-Athir (1160-1233 AD), of razzias (raiding expeditions) in Northern Spain and France in the eighth and ninth centuries AD, conveys nothing but satisfaction at the extent of the destruction wrought upon the infidels, including noncombatants.

In 177 , Hisham, prince of Spain, sent a large army commanded by Abd al-Malik b. Abd al-Wahid b. Mugith into enemy territory, and which made forays as far as Narbonne and Jaranda . This general first attacked Jaranda where there was an elite Frank garrison; he killed the bravest, destroyed the walls and towers of the town and almost managed to seize it. He then marched on to Narbonne, where he repeated the same actions, then, pushing forward, he trampled underfoot the land of the Cerdagne {near Andorra in the Pyrenees}. For several months he traversed this land in every direction, raping women, killing warriors, destroying fortresses, burning and pillaging everything, driving back the enemy who fled in disorder. He returned safe and sound, dragging behind him God alone knows how much booty. This is one of the most famous expeditions of the Muslims in Spain. In 223 , Abd ar-Rahman b. al Hakam, sovereign of Spain, sent an army against Alava; it encamped near Hisn al-Gharat, which it besieged; it seized the booty that was found there, killed the inhabitants and withdrew, carrying off women and children as captives. In 231 , a Muslim army advanced into Galicia on the territory of the infidels, where it pillaged and massacred everyone. In 246 , Muhammad b. Abd ar-Rahman advanced with many troops and a large military apparatus against the region of Pamplona. He reduced, ruined and ravaged this territory, where he pillaged and sowed death.
This first wave of jihad engulfed much of the Byzantine, Visigothic, Frankish, and Persian Empires and left the newborn Islamic Empire controlling territory from Southern France, south through Spain, east across North Africa to India, and north to Russia. Early in the second millennium AD, the Mongol invasion from the east greatly weakened the Islamic Empire and ended Arab predominance therein.

ii. The Second Major Wave of Jihad: the Turks, 1071-1683 AD

Some twenty-five years before the first Crusading army set out from central Europe for the Holy Land, the Turkish (Ottoman) armies began an assault on the Christian Byzantine Empire, which had ruled what is now Turkey since the Roman Empire’s capital was moved to Constantinople in 325 AD. At the battle of Manzikert, in 1071, the Christian forces suffered a disastrous defeat, which left much of Anatolia (Turkey) open to invasion. This second wave of jihad was temporarily held up by the invading Latin Armies during the Crusades (see Islam 101 FAQs), but, by the beginning of the 14th century, the Turks were threatening Constantinople and Europe itself.

In the West, Roman Catholic armies were bit by bit forcing Muslim forces down the Iberian peninsula, until, in 1492, they were definitively expelled (the Reconquista). In Eastern Europe, however, Islam continued in the ascendant. One of the most significant engagements between the invading Muslims and the indigenous peoples of the region was the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, where the Turks annihilated a multinational army under the Serbian King, St. Lazar, though their progress into Europe was significantly slowed. After numerous attempts dating back to the seventh century, Constantinople, the jewel of Eastern Christendom, finally fell in 1453 to the armies of Sultan Mahomet II. Lest one ascribe the atrocities of the first wave of jihad to the “Arabness” of its perpetrators, the Turks showed they were fully capable of living up to the principles of the Quran and the Sunnah. Paul Fregosi in his book Jihad describes the scene following the final assault on Constantinople:

Several thousand of the survivors had taken refuge in the cathedral: nobles, servants, ordinary citizens, their wives and children, priests and nuns. They locked the huge doors, prayed, and waited. {Caliph} Mahomet {II} had given the troops free quarter. They raped, of course, the nuns being the first victims, and slaughtered. At least four thousand were killed before Mahomet stopped the massacre at noon. He ordered a muezzin {one who issues the call to prayer} to climb into the pulpit of St. Sophia and dedicate the building to Allah. It has remained a mosque ever since. Fifty thousand of the inhabitants, more than half the population, were rounded up and taken away as slaves. For months afterward, slaves were the cheapest commodity in the markets of Turkey. Mahomet asked that the body of the dead emperor be brought to him. Some Turkish soldiers found it in a pile of corpses and recognized Constantine {XI} by the golden eagles embroidered on his boots. The sultan ordered his head to be cut off and placed between the horse’s legs under the equestrian bronze statue of the emperor Justinian. The head was later embalmed and sent around the chief cities of the Ottoman empire for the delectation of the citizens.
Next, Mahomet ordered the Grand Duke Notaras, who had survived, be brought before him, asked him for the names and addresses of all the leading nobles, officials, and citizens, which Notaras gave him. He had them all arrested and decapitated. He sadistically bought from their owners {i.e., Muslim commanders} high-ranking prisoners who had been enslaved, for the pleasure of having them beheaded in front of him.

This second, Turkish wave of jihad reached its farthest extent at the failed sieges of Vienna in 1529 and 1683, where in the latter instance the Muslim army under Kara Mustapha was thrown back by the Roman Catholics under the command of the Polish King, John Sobieski. In the decades that followed, the Ottomans were driven back down through the Balkans, though they were never ejected from the European continent entirely. Still, even while the imperial jihad faltered, Muslim land- and sea-borne razzias into Christian territory continued, and Christians were being abducted into slavery from as far away as Ireland into the 19th century.

e. Dhimmitude

Islam’s persecution of non-Muslims is in no way limited to jihad, even though that is the basic relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim world. After the jihad concludes in a given area with the conquest of infidel territory, the dhimma, or treaty of protection, may be granted to the conquered “People of the Book” — historically, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians. The dhimma provides that the life and property of the infidel are exempted from jihad for as long as the Muslim rulers permit, which has generally meant for as long as the subject non-Muslims — the dhimmi — prove economically useful to the Islamic state. The Quran spells out the payment of the jizya (poll- or head-tax; Sura 9:29), which is the most conspicuous means by which the Muslim overlords exploit the dhimmi. But the jizya is not merely economic in its function; it exists also to humiliate the dhimmi and impress on him the superiority of Islam. Al-Maghili, a fifteenth century Muslim theologian, explains:

On the day of payment {of the jizya} they {the dhimmi} shall be assembled in a public place like the suq {place of commerce}. They should be standing there waiting in the lowest and dirtiest place. The acting officials representing the Law shall be placed above them and shall adopt a threatening attitude so that it seems to them, as well as to others, that our object is to degrade them by pretending to take their possessions. They will realize that we are doing them a favor in accepting from them the jizya and letting them go free.
Islamic law codifies various other restrictions on the dhimmi, all of which derive from the Quran and the Sunnah. Several hundred years of Islamic thought on the right treatment of dhimmi peoples is summed up by Al-Damanhuri, a seventeenth century head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most prestigious center for learning in the Muslim world:

… just as the dhimmis are prohibited from building churches, other things also are prohibited to them. They must not assist an unbeliever against a Muslim … raise the cross in an Islamic assemblage … display banners on their own holidays; bear arms … or keep them in their homes. Should they do anything of the sort, they must be punished, and the arms seized. … The Companions [of the Prophet] agreed upon these points in order to demonstrate the abasement of the infidel and to protect the weak believer’s faith. For if he sees them humbled, he will not be inclined toward their belief, which is not true if he sees them in power, pride, or luxury garb, as all this urges him to esteem them and incline toward them, in view of his own distress and poverty. Yet esteem for the unbeliever is unbelief.
The Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and much of Europe suffered under the oppressive strictures of the dhimma for centuries. The status of these dhimmi peoples is comparable in many ways to that of former slaves in the post-bellum American South. Forbidden to construct houses of worship or repair extant ones, economically crippled by the jizya, socially humiliated, legally discriminated against, and generally kept in a permanent state of weakness and vulnerability by the Muslim overlords, it should not be surprising that their numbers dwindled, in many places to the point of extinction. The generally misunderstood decline of Islamic civilization over the past several centuries is easily explained by the demographic decline of the dhimmi populations, which had provided the principle engines of technical and administrative competence.

Should the dhimmi violate the conditions of the dhimma — perhaps through practicing his own religion indiscreetly or failing to show adequate deference to a Muslim — then the jihad resumes. At various times in Islamic history, dhimmi peoples rose above their subjected status, and this was often the occasion for violent reprisals by Muslim populations who believed them to have violated the terms of the dhimma. Medieval Andalusia (Moorish Spain) is often pointed out by Muslim apologists as a kind of multicultural wonderland, in which Jews and Christians were permitted by the Islamic government to rise through the ranks of learning and government administration. What we are not told, however, is that this relaxation of the disabilities resulted in widespread rioting on the part of the Muslim populace that killed hundreds of dhimmis, mainly Jews. By refusing to convert to Islam and straying from the traditional constraints of the dhimma (even at the behest of the Islamic government, which was in need of capable manpower), the dhimmi had implicitly chosen the only other option permitted by the Quran: death.

f. Jihad in the Modern Era

Following its defeat at the walls of Vienna in 1683, Islam entered a period of strategic decline in which it was increasingly dominated by the rising European colonial powers. Due to its material weakness vis-à-vis the West, dar al-Islam was unable to prosecute large-scale military campaigns into infidel territory. The Islamic Empire, then ruled by the Ottoman Turks, was reduced to fending of the increasingly predatory European powers.

In 1856, Western pressure compelled the Ottoman government to suspend the dhimma under which the Empire’s non-Muslim subjects labored. This provided hitherto unknown opportunities for social and personal improvement by the former dhimmis, but it also fomented resentment by orthodox Muslims who saw this as a violation of the Sharia and their Allah-given superiority over unbelievers.

By the late 19th century, tensions among the European subjects of the Empire broke out into the open when the Ottoman government massacred 30,000 Bulgarians in 1876 for allegedly rebelling against Ottoman rule. Following Western intervention that resulted in Bulgarian independence, the Ottoman government and its Muslim subjects were increasingly nervous about other non-Muslim groups seeking independence.

It was in this atmosphere that the first stage of the Armenian genocide took place in 1896 with the slaughter of some 250,000 Armenians. Both civilians and military personnel took place in the massacres. Peter Balakian, in his book, The Burning Tigris, documents the whole horrific story. But the massacres of the 1890s were only the prelude to the much larger holocaust of 1915, which claimed some 1.5 million lives. While various factors contributed to the slaughter, there is no mistaking that the massacres were nothing other than a jihad waged against the Armenians, no longer protected as they were by the dhimma. In 1914, as the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the central powers, an official anti-Christian jihad was proclaimed.

To promote the idea of jihad, the sheikh-ul-Islam’s {the most senior religious leader in the Ottoman Empire} published proclamation summoned the Muslim world to arise and massacre its Christian oppressors. “Oh Moslems,” the document read, “Ye who are smitten with happiness and are on the verge of sacrificing your life and your good for the cause of right, and of braving perils, gather now around the Imperial throne.” In the Ikdam, the Turkish newspaper that had just passed into German ownership, the idea of jihad was underscored: “The deeds of our enemies have brought down the wrath of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old, men, women, and children must fulfill their duty. … If we do it, the deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured.” … “He who kills even one unbeliever,” one pamphlet read, “of those who rule over us, whether he does it secretly or openly, shall be rewarded by God.”
The anti-Christian jihad culminated in 1922 at Smyrna, on the Mediterranean coast, where 150,000 Greek Christians were massacred by the Turkish army under the indifferent eye of Allied warships. All in, from 1896-1923, some 2.5 million Christians were killed, the first modern genocide, which to this day is denied by the Turkish government.

Since the breakup of the Islamic Empire following World War I, various jihads have been fought around the globe by the independent Muslim nations and sub-state jihadist groups. The most sustained effort has been directed against Israel, which has committed the unpardonable sin of rebuilding dar al-harb on land formerly a part of dar al-Islam. Other prominent jihads include that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Muslim Bosnians against the Serbs in the former Yugoslavia, the Muslim Albanians against the Serbs in Kosovo, and the Chechens against the Russians in the Caucasus. Jihads have also been waged throughout northern Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Kashmir, and a host of other places throughout the world. In addition, the overwhelming majority of terrorist attacks around the world have been committed by Muslims, including, of course, the spectacular attacks of 9/11/01 (USA), 3/11/04 (Spain), and 7/7/05 (UK). (For a more comprehensive list of Muslim attacks, visit http://www.thereligionofpeace.com.)

The fact is, the percentage of conflicts in the world today that do not include Islam is pretty small. Islam is making a comeback.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

There are a handful of questions that invariably arise when the point is made that Islam is violent. These questions for the most part are misleading or irrelevant and do not contest the actual evidence or arguments that violence is inherent to Islam. Nonetheless, they have proven rhetorically effective in deflecting serious scrutiny from Islam, and so I deal with some of them here.

a. What about the Crusades?

The obvious response to this question is, “weill, what about them?” Violence committed in the name of other religions is logically unconnected to the question of whether Islam is violent. But, by mentioning the Crusades, the hope of the Islamic apologist is to draw attention away from Islamic violence and paint religions in general as morally equivalent.

In both the Western academia and media as well as in the Islamic world, the Crusades are viewed as wars of aggression fought by bloody-minded Christians against peaceful Muslims. While the Crusades were certainly bloody, they are more accurately understood as a belated Western response to centuries of jihad than as an unprovoked, unilateral attack. Muslim rule in the Holy Land began in the second half of the 7th century during the Arab wave of jihad with the conquests of Damascus and Jerusalem by the second “rightly-guided Caliph,” Umar. After the initial bloody jihad, Christian and Jewish life there was tolerated within the strictures of the dhimma and the Muslim Arabs generally permitted Christians abroad to continue to make pilgrimage to their holy sites, a practice which proved lucrative for the Muslim state. In the 11th century, the relatively benign Arab administration of the Holy Land was replaced with that of Seljuk Turks, due to civil war in the Islamic Empire. Throughout the latter half of the 11th century, the Turks waged war against the Christian Byzantine Empire and pushed it back from its strongholds in Antioch and Anatolia (now Turkey). In 1071, Byzantine forces suffered a crushing defeat at the Battle of Manzikert in what is now Eastern Turkey. The Turks resumed the jihad in the Holy Land, abusing, robbing, enslaving, and killing Christians there and throughout Asia Minor. They threatened to cut off Christendom from its holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, rebuilt under Byzantine stewardship after it was destroyed by Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah in 1009.

It was in this context of a renewed jihad in the Middle East that the Roman Pope, Urban II, issued a call in 1095 for Western Christians to come to the aid of their Eastern cousins (and seems to have harbored the hope of claiming Jerusalem for the Papacy after the Great Schism with Eastern Christianity in 1054). This “armed pilgrimage,” in which numerous civilians as well as soldiers took part, would eventually become known years later as the First Crusade. The idea of a “crusade” as we now understand that term, i.e., a Christian “holy war,” developed years later with the rise of such organizations as the Knights Templar that made “crusading” a way of life. It worth noting that the most ardent Crusaders, the Franks, were exactly those who had faced jihad and razzias for centuries along the Franco-Spanish border and knew better than most the horrors to which Muslims subjected Christians. At the time of the First Crusade, the populations of Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, though ruled by Muslims, were still overwhelmingly Christian. The “Crusading” campaigns of the Western Christian armies were justified at the time as a war liberating the Eastern Christians, whose population, lands, and culture had been devastated by centuries of jihad and dhimmitude. Conquering territory for God in the mode of jihad was an alien idea to Christianity and it should not be surprising that it eventually died out in the West and never gained ascendancy in the East.

Following the very bloody capture of Jerusalem in 1099 by the Latin armies and the establishment of the Crusader States in Edessa, Antioch, and Jerusalem, the Muslim and Christian forces fought a see-saw series of wars, in which both parties were guilty of the usual gamut of wartime immorality. Over time, even with reinforcing Crusades waged from Europe, the Crusader States, strung out on precarious lines of communication, slowly succumbed to superior Muslim power. In 1271, the last Christian citadel, Antioch, fell to the Muslims. No longer having to divert forces to subdue the Christian beachhead on the Eastern Mediterranean, the Muslims regrouped for a 400-year-long jihad against Southern and Eastern Europe, which twice reached as far as Vienna before it was halted. In geostrategic terms, the Crusades can be viewed as an attempt by the West to forestall its own destruction at the hands of Islamic jihad by carrying the fight to the enemy. It worked for a while.

Significantly, while the West has for some time now lamented the Crusades as mistaken, there has never been any mention from any serious Islamic authority of regret for the centuries and centuries of jihad and dhimmitude perpetrated against other societies. But this is hardly surprising: while religious violence contradicts the fundaments of Christianity, religious violence is written into Islam’s DNA.

b. If Islam is violent, why are so many Muslims peaceful?

This question is a bit like asking, “If Christianity teaches humility, tolerance, and forgiveness, why are so many Christians arrogant, intolerant, and vindictive?” The answer in both cases is obvious: in any religion or ideology there will be many who profess, but do not practice, its tenets. Just as it is often easier for a Christian to hit back, play holier-than-thou, or disdain others, so it is often easier for a Muslim to stay at home rather than embark on jihad. Hypocrites are everywhere.

Furthermore, there are also people who do not really understand their own faith and so act outside of its prescribed boundaries. In Islam, there are likely many Muslims who do not really understand their religion thanks to the importance of reciting the Quran in Arabic but not having to understand it. It is the words and sounds of the Quran that attract Allah’s merciful attention rather than Quranic knowledge on the part of the supplicant. Especially in the West, Muslims here are more likely to be attracted by Western ways (which explains why they are here) and less likely to act violently against the society to which they may have fled from an Islamic tyranny abroad.

However, in any given social context, as Islam takes greater root — increasing numbers of followers, the construction of more mosques and “cultural centers,” etc. — the greater the likelihood that some number of its adherents will take its violent precepts seriously. This is the problem that the West faces today.

c. What about the violent passages in the Bible?

First, violent Biblical passages are irrelevant to the question of whether Islam is violent.

Second, the violent passages in the Bible certainly do not amount to a standing order to commit violence against the rest of the world. Unlike the Quran, the Bible is a huge collection of documents written by different people at different times in different contexts, which allows for much greater interpretative freedom. The Quran, on the other hand, comes exclusively from one source: Muhammad. It is through the life of Muhammad that the Quran must be understood, as the Quran itself says. His wars and killings both reflect and inform the meaning of the Quran. Furthermore, the strict literalism of the Quran means that there is no room for interpretation when it comes to its violent injunctions. As it is through the example of Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” that Christianity interprets its scriptures, so it is through the example of the warlord and despot Muhammad that Muslims understand the Quran.

d. Could an Islamic “Reformation” pacify Islam?

As should be plain to anyone who has examined the Islamic sources, to take the violence out of Islam would require it to jettison two things: the Quran as the word of Allah and Muhammad as Allah’s prophet. In other words, to pacify Islam would require its transformation into something that it is not. The Western Christian Reformation, that is often used as an example, was an attempt (successful or not) to recover the essence of Christianity, namely, the example and teachings of Christ and the Apostles. Trying to get back to the example of Muhammad would have very different consequences. Indeed, one may say that Islam is today going through its “Reformation” with the increasing jihadist activity around the globe. Today, Muslims of the Salafi (“early generations”) school are doing exactly that in focusing on the life of Muhammad and his early successors. These reformers are known to their detractors by the derogative term Wahhabi. Drawing their inspiration from Muhammad and the Quran, they are invariably disposed to violence. The unhappy fact is that Islam today is what it has been fourteen centuries: violent, intolerant, and expansionary. It is folly to think that we, in the course of a few years or decades, are going to be able to change the basic world outlook of a foreign civilization. Islam’s violent nature must be accepted as given; only then will we be able to come up with appropriate policy responses that can improve our chances of survival.

e. What about the history of Western colonialism in the Islamic world?

Following the defeat of the Ottoman army outside Vienna on September 11, 1683 by Polish forces, Islam went into a period of strategic decline in which it was overwhelmingly dominated by the European powers. Much of dar al-Islam was colonized by the European powers who employed their superior technology and exploited the rivalries within the Muslim world to establish colonial rule.

While many of the practices of the Western imperial powers in the governance of their colonies were clearly unjust, it is utterly unwarranted to regard Western imperialism — as it often is — as an endemic criminal enterprise that is the basis of modern resentment against the West. It was only due to the assertive role of the Western powers that modern nation-states such as India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc. came to exist in the first place. Without Western organization, these areas would have likely remained chaotic and tribal as they had existed for centuries.

When one looks at the post-colonial world, it is apparent that the most successful post-colonial nations have a common attribute: they are not Muslim. The United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, India, and the South American nations clearly outshine their Muslim-majority post-colonial counterparts — Iraq, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc. — by just about any standard.

f. How can a violent political ideology be the second-largest and fastest-growing religion on earth?

It should not be surprising that a violent political ideology is proving so attractive to much of the world. The attractive power of fascist ideas has been proven through history. Islam combines the interior comfort provided by religious faith with the outward power of a world-transforming political ideology. Like the revolutionary violence of Communism, jihad offers an altruistic justification for waging death and destruction. Such an ideology will naturally draw to it violent-minded people while encouraging the non-violent to take up arms themselves or support violence indirectly. Because something is popular hardly makes it benign.

Furthermore, the areas in which Islam is growing most rapidly, such as Western Europe, have been largely denuded of their religious and cultural heritage, which leaves Islam as the only vibrant ideology available to those in search of meaning.

g. Is it fair to paint all Islamic schools of thought as violent?

Islamic apologists often point out that Islam is not a monolith and that there are differences of opinion among the different Islamic schools of thought. That is true, but, while there are differences, there are also common elements. Just as Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant Christians differ on many aspects of Christianity, still they accept important common elements. So it is with Islam. One of the common elements to all Islamic schools of thought is jihad, understood as the obligation of the Ummah to conquer and subdue the world in the name of Allah and rule it under Sharia law. The four Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh [Islamic religious jurisprudence]) — Hanafi, Maliki, Shafei, and Hanbali — all agree that there is a collective obligation on Muslims to make war on the rest of the world. Furthermore, even the schools of thought outside Sunni orthodoxy, including Sufism and the Jaferi (Shia) school, agree on the necessity of jihad. When it comes to matters of jihad, the different schools disagree on such questions as whether infidels must first be asked to convert to Islam before hostilities may begin (Osama bin Laden asked America to convert before Al-Qaeda’s attacks); how plunder should be distributed among victorious jihadists; whether a long-term Fabian strategy against dar al-harb is preferable to an all-out frontal attack; etc.

h. What about the great achievements of Islamic civilization through history?

Islamic achievements in the fields of art, literature, science, medicine, etc. in no way refute the fact that Islam is intrinsically violent. Roman and Greek civilizations produced many great achievements in these fields as well, but also cultivated powerful traditions of violence. While giving the world the brilliance of Virgil and Horace, Rome was also a home to gladiatorial combat, the slaughter of Christians, and, at times, rampant militarism.

Furthermore, the achievements of Islamic civilization are pretty modest given its 1300 year history when compared to Western, Hindu, or Confucian civilizations. Many Islamic achievements were in fact the result of non-Muslims living within the Islamic Empire or of recent converts to Islam. One of the greatest Islamic thinkers, Averroes, ran afoul of Islamic orthodoxy through his study of non-Islamic (Greek) philosophy and his preference for Western modes of thought. Once the dhimmi populations of the Empire dwindled toward the middle of the second millennium AD, Islam began its social and cultural “decline.”

6. Glossary of Terms

Allah: “God”; Arabic Christians also worship “Allah,” but an Allah of a very different sort.
Allahu Akhbar: “God is Great (-est)”; term of praise; war cry of Muslims.

AH: “after Hijra”; the Islamic calendar’s system of dating; employs lunar rather than solar years; as of January 2007, we are in AH 1428.

Ansar: “aiders” or “helpers”; Arabian tribesmen allied with Muhammad and the early Muslims.

Badr: first significant battle fought by Muhammad and the Muslims against the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Caliph: title of the ruler or leader of the Umma (global Muslim community); the head of the former Islamic Empire; the title was abolished by Kemal Attaturk in 1924 following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire and the founding of modern Turkey.

dar al-Islam: “House (Realm) of Islam”; Islamic territory ruled by Sharia law

dar al-harb: “House (Realm) of War”: territory ruled by infidels

dar al-sulh: “House (Realm) of Truce”: territory ruled by infidels but allied with Islam; territory ruled by Muslims but not under Sharia law

Dhimma: the pact of protection extended to non-slave “People of the Book”, usually Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, which permitted them to remain nominally free under Muslim rule.

dhimmi: “protected”; people under the protection of the dhimma.

dhimmitude: word coined by historian Bat Ye’or to describe the status of dhimmi peoples

hadith: “report”; any of thousands of episodes from the life of Muhammad transmitted orally until written down in the eighth century AD; sahih (reliable or sound) hadiths are second only to the Quran in authority.

Hijra: “emigration”; Muhammad’s flight from Mecca to Medina (Yathrib) in AD 622.

Islam: “submission” or “surrender.”

jizya: the poll or head tax prescribed by Sura 9:29 of the Quran to be paid by Christians and Jews in Muslim-held territory.

Kaba: “cube”; the Meccan temple in which numerous pagan idols were housed before Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca in AD 632, which is still the most venerated object in Islam; the Kaba’s cornerstone, which is believed to have fallen from heaven, is the stone on which Abraham was to sacrifice his son, Ishmael (not Isaac).

Mecca: holiest city of Islam; place of Muhammad’s birth in AD 570; its Great Mosque contains the Kaba stone; early period in Muhammad’s life where more peaceful verses of the Quran were revealed; site of Muhammad’s victory over the Quraish in AD 630.

Medina: “city,” short for “city of the Prophet”; second holiest city of Islam; destination of Muhammad’s Hijra (emigration) in AD 622; later period in Muhammad’s life where more violent verses of the Quran were revealed; site of third major battle fought by Muhammad against the Quraish tribe from Mecca; formerly called Yathrib.

Muhammad: “the praised one.”

Muslim: one who submits.

Quran (Kuran, Quran, etc.): “recitation”; according to Islam, the compiled verbatim words of Allah as dictated by Muhammad.

razzia: “raid”; acts of piracy on land or sea by Muslims against infidels

Sira: “life”; abbreviation of Sirat Rasul Allah, or “Life of the Prophet of God”; the canonical biography of the Prophet Muhammad written in the eighth century by Ibn Ishaq and later edited by Ibn Hisham; modern translation by Alfred Guillaume.

Sunnah: the “Way” of the Prophet Muhammad; includes his teachings, traditions, and example.

Sura: a chapter of the Quran; Quranic passages are cited as Sura number:verse number, e.g., 9:5.

Uhud: second major battle fought by Muhammad against the Quraish tribe of Mecca.

Umar: second “rightly-guided” Caliph; ruled AD 634–44, succeeded Abu Bakr; conquered the Holy Land.

Umma (ummah): the global Muslim community; the body of Muslim faithful.

Uthman: third “rightly-guided” Caliph; ruled AD 644–56, succeeded Umar; compiled the Quran in book form.

Yathrib: city to which Muhammad made the Hijra (emigration) in AD 622/AH 1; renamed Medina.

7. Further Resources

As JihadWatch readers are likely familiar with the works of Robert Spencer, I omit them here. Needless to say, you will not go wrong with any of his books.

Online

Center for the Study of Political Islam

Chronicles Magazine

Dhimmi.org

FaithFreedom.org

HistoryofJihad.com

U Michigan’s searchable online version of the Quran translated by Shakir.

USC’s Muslim Students Association’s website with multiple searchable translations of the Quran and hadiths.

Islam: What the West Needs to Know homepage.

Canadian Muslim website with various writings on Islamic doctrine and events in the Muslim world.

Also see Jihad Watch Books.

Introducing Islam 101

March 13, 2007
Introducing Islam 101
Islam 101 is meant as an educational tool for people to become more educated about the fundamentals of Islam and to help the more knowledgeable better convey the facts to the uninitiated. All should feel free to distribute and/or reproduce it. It will become a new menu item at JW soon. Enjoy!

Islam 101

by Gregory M. Davis, PhD
author, Religion of Peace? Islam’s War Against the World
producer/director, Islam: What the West Needs to Know — An Examination of Islam, Violence, and the Fate of the Non-Muslim World

Table of Contents

1) Introduction

2) The Problem Clarified

3) The Basics
a) The Five Pillars of Islam
b) The Quran — the Book of Allah
c) The Sunnah — the “Way” of the Prophet Muhammad
d) Sharia Law

4) Jihad and Dhimmitude

a) What does “jihad” mean?
b) Muslim Scholar Hasan Al-Banna on jihad
c) Dar al-Islam and dar al-harb: the House of Islam and the House of War

i) Taqiyya — Religious Deception

d) Jihad Through History

i) The First Major Wave of Jihad: the Arabs, 622-750 AD
ii) The Second Major Wave of Jihad: the Turks, 1071-1683 AD

e) The Dhimma
f) Jihad in the Modern Era

5) Frequently Asked Questions

a) What about the Crusades?
b) If Islam is violent, why are so many Muslims peaceful?
c) What about the violent passages in the Bible?
d) Could an Islamic “Reformation” pacify Islam?
e) What about the history of Western colonialism in the Islamic world?
f) How can a violent political ideology be the second-largest and fastest-growing religion on earth?
g) Is it fair to paint all Islamic schools of thought as violent?
h) What about the great achievements of Islamic civilization?

6) Glossary of Terms

7) Further Resources

1. Introduction

My book and documentary are meant to serve as concise explanations of the major moving parts of Islam and their implications for Western society. They are meant as remedies to the often confused, misleading, and cluttered public discussions of Islam, which tend to leave the layman as much in the dark as to Islam’s nature and intentions as he was before. Islam 101 is a condensation of the book and documentary with the aim of lending clarity to the public understanding of Islam and of exposing the inadequacy of the prevailing views. It is also intended as a tool by which those more familiar with Islam’s true nature and goals may more effectively represent the facts to the uninformed.

2. The Problem Clarified

Contrary to the widespread insistence that true Islam is pacific even if a handful of its adherents are violent, engaging in violence against non-Muslims is a central and indispensable principle to Islam. Islam is less a personal faith than a political ideology that exists in a fundamental and permanent state of war with non-Islamic civilizations, cultures, and individuals. The Islamic holy texts outline a social, governmental, and economic system for all mankind. Those cultures and individuals who do not submit to Islamic governance (Islam means “submission” or “surrender,” and a Muslim is “one who submits”) exist in an ipso facto state of rebellion with Allah (God) and must be forcibly brought into submission. Islamic doctrine divides the world into two spheres locked in perpetual conflict, dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, or the “House of Islam” (where Islamic Law — Sharia — governs) and the “House of War” (where Sharia does not govern). It is upon the House of War that the House of Islam is enjoined by Allah to make war until such time that the former is permanently assimilated into the latter. The misbegotten term “Islamo-fascism” is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.

The spectacular acts of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are but the most recent manifestation of a global war of conquest that Islam has been waging since the days of the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th Century AD and that continues apace today. This is the simple, glaring truth that is staring the world today in the face — and which has stared it in the face numerous times in the past — but which it seems few today are willing to contemplate.

The chief barrier today to a better understanding of Islam — apart, perhaps, from outright fear — is sloppy language. Let us take, to start with, the much-vaunted “war on terror.” Upon scrutiny, the phrase “war on terror” makes as much sense as a war on “blitzkrieg,” “bullets,” or “strategic bombing.” The “war on terror” implies that it is perfectly fine if the enemy seeks to destroy us — and, indeed, succeeds in doing so — as long as he does not employ “terror” in the process.

“Terrorism,” it should be obvious, is a tactic or stratagem used to advance a goal; it is the goal of Islamic terrorism that we must come to understand, and this logically requires an understanding of Islam. And to examine Islam is to come to appreciate that it knows no separation of the secular and the religious; that it is, in fact, a system of government ordained by Allah to hold sway over the entire earth. It is this fact that puts it in perpetual combat with the rest of the world.

We are here talking about Islam — not Islamic “fundamentalism,” “extremism,” “fanaticism,” “Islamo-fascism,” or “Islamism” — we are talking about Islam proper, Islam in its orthodox form as it has been understood and practiced by right-believing Muslims from the time of Muhammad to the present. The mounting episodes of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th and early 21st centuries are due largely to the geostrategic changes following the end of the Cold War and the growing technical options available to terrorists.

With the collapse of Soviet hegemony over much of the Muslim world, coupled with the burgeoning wealth of the Muslim oil-producing countries, the Muslim world increasingly possesses the freedom and means to support jihad around the globe. In short, the reason that Muslims are once again waging war against the non-Muslim world is because they can.

It is paramount to note, however, that, even if no major terrorist attack ever occurs on Western soil again, Islam still poses a mortal danger to the West. A halt to terrorism would simply mean a change in Islam’s tactics — perhaps indicating a longer-term approach that would allow Muslim immigration and higher birth rates to bring Islam closer to victory before the next round of violence. It cannot be overemphasized that Muslim terrorism is a symptom of Islam that may increase or decrease in intensity while Islam proper remains permanently hostile.

Muhammad Taqi Partovi Samzevari, in his “Future of the Islamic Movement” of 1986, sums up the Islamic worldview.

Our own Prophet … was a general, a statesman, an administrator, an economist, a jurist and a first-class manager all in one. … In the Qur’an’s historic vision Allah’s support and the revolutionary struggle of the people must come together, so that Satanic rulers are brought down and put to death. A people that is not prepared to kill and to die in order to create a just society cannot expect any support from Allah. The Almighty has promised us that the day will come when the whole of mankind will live united under the banner of Islam, when the sign of the Crescent, the symbol of Muhammad, will be supreme everywhere. … But that day must be hastened through our Jihad, through our readiness to offer our lives and to shed the unclean blood of those who do not see the light brought from the Heavens by Muhammad in his mi’raj {“nocturnal voyages to the ‘court’ of Allah”}. … It is Allah who puts the gun in our hand. But we cannot expect Him to pull the trigger as well simply because we are faint-hearted.
It must be emphasized that all of the analysis provided here derives from the Islamic sources themselves and is not the product of critical Western scholarship. (Indeed, most modern Western scholarship of Islam is hardly “critical” in any meaningful sense.) It is Islam’s self-interpretation that necessitates and glorifies violence, not any foreign interpretation of it.

3. The Basics

a. The Five Pillars of Islam

The five pillars of Islam constitute the most basic tenets of the religion. They are:

1. Faith (iman) in the oneness of Allah and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad (indicated by the declaration [the Shahadah] that, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”).
2. Keeping of the five scheduled daily prayers (salah).

3. Almsgiving (zakat).

4. Fasting (sawm).

5. Pilgrimage (hajj) to Mecca for those who are able.

The five pillars in and of themselves do not tell us a lot about the faith or what a Muslim is supposed to believe or how he should act. The second through fifth pillars — prayer, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage — are aspects shared by many religions. The finality of the prophethood of Muhammad, however, is unique to Islam. To understand Islam and what it means to be a Muslim, we must come to understand Muhammad as well as the revelations given through him by Allah, which make up the Quran.

b. The Quran — the Book of Allah

According to Islamic teaching, the Quran came down as a series of revelations from Allah through the Archangel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, who then dictated it to his followers. Muhammad’s companions memorized fragments of the Quran and wrote them down on whatever was at hand, which were later compiled into book form under the rule of the third Caliph, Uthman, some years after Muhammad’s death.

The Quran is about as long as the Christian New Testament. It comprises 114 suras (not to be confused with the Sira, which refers to the life of the Prophet) of varying lengths, which may be considered chapters. According to Islamic doctrine, it was around 610 AD in a cave near the city of Mecca (now in southwest Saudi Arabia) that Muhammad received the first revelation from Allah by way of the Archangel Gabriel. The revelation merely commanded Muhammad to “recite” or “read” (Sura 96); the words he was instructed to utter were not his own but Allah’s. Over the next twelve or so years in Mecca, other revelations came to Muhammad that constituted a message to the inhabitants of the city to forsake their pagan ways and turn in worship to the one Allah.

While in Mecca, though he condemned paganism (for the most part), Muhammad showed great respect for the monotheism of the Christian and Jewish inhabitants. Indeed, the Allah of the Quran claimed to be the same God worshipped by Jews and Christians, who now revealed himself to the Arab people through his chosen messenger, Muhammad. It is the Quranic revelations that came later in Muhammad’s career, after he and the first Muslims left Mecca for the city of Medina, that transformed Islam from a relatively benign form of monotheism into an expansionary, military-political ideology that persists to this day.

Orthodox Islam does not accept that a rendering of the Quran into another language is a “translation” in the way that, say, the King James Bible is a translation of the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. A point often made by Islamic apologists to defang criticism is that only Arabic readers may understand the Quran. But Arabic is a language like any other and fully capable of translation. Indeed, most Muslims are not Arabic readers. In the below analysis, we use a translation of the Quran by two Muslim scholars, which may be found here. All parenthetical explanations in the text are those of the translators save for my interjections in braces, { }.

Those Westerners who manage to pick up a translation of the Quran are often left bewildered as to its meaning thanks to ignorance of a critically important principle of Quranic interpretation known as “abrogation.” The principle of abrogation — al-naskh wa al-mansukh (the abrogating and the abrogated) — directs that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career “abrogate” — i.e., cancel and replace — earlier ones whose instructions they may contradict. Thus, passages revealed later in Muhammad’s career, in Medina, overrule passages revealed earlier, in Mecca. The Quran itself lays out the principle of abrogation:

2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We {Allah} abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?
It seems that 2:106 was revealed in response to skepticism directed at Muhammad that Allah’s revelations were not entirely consistent over time. Muhammad’s rebuttal was that “Allah is able to do all things” — even change his mind. To confuse matters further, though the Quran was revealed to Muhammad sequentially over some twenty years’ time, it was not compiled in chronological order. When the Quran was finally collated into book form under Caliph Uthman, the suras were ordered from longest to shortest with no connection whatever to the order in which they were revealed or to their thematic content. In order to find out what the Quran says on a given topic, it is necessary to examine the other Islamic sources that give clues as to when in Muhammad’s lifetime the revelations occurred. Upon such examination, one discovers that the Meccan suras, revealed at a time when the Muslims were vulnerable, are generally benign; the later Medinan suras, revealed after Muhammad had made himself the head of an army, are bellicose.

Let us take, for example, 50:45 and Sura 109, both revealed in Mecca:

50:45. We know of best what they say; and you (O Muhammad) are not a tyrant over them (to force them to Belief). But warn by the Qur’an, him who fears My Threat.
109:1. Say (O Muhammad to these Mushrikun and Kafirun): “O Al-Kafirun (disbelievers in Allah, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar {divine foreordainment and sustaining of all things}, etc.)!
109:2. “I worship not that which you worship,
109:3. “Nor will you worship that which I worship.
109:4. “And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping.
109:5. “Nor will you worship that which I worship.
109:6. “To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism).”

Then there is this passage revealed just after the Muslims reached Medina and were still vulnerable:

2:256. There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut {idolatry} and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
In contrast, take 9:5, commonly referred to as the “Verse of the Sword”, revealed toward the end of Muhammad’s life:

9:5. Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun {unbelievers} wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat {the Islamic ritual prayers}), and give Zakat {alms}, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Having been revealed later in Muhammad’s life than 50:45, 109, and 2:256, the Verse of the Sword abrogates their peaceful injunctions in accordance with 2:106. Sura 8, revealed shortly before Sura 9, reveals a similar theme:

8:39. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.
8:67. It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.

9:29. Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

9:33. It is He {Allah} Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).

The Quran’s commandments to Muslims to wage war in the name of Allah against non-Muslims are unmistakable. They are, furthermore, absolutely authoritative as they were revealed late in the Prophet’s career and so cancel and replace earlier instructions to act peaceably. Without knowledge of the principle of abrogation, Westerners will continue to misread the Quran and misdiagnose Islam as a “religion of peace.”

c. The Sunnah — the “Way” of the Prophet Muhammad

In Islam, Muhammad is considered al-insan al-kamil (the “ideal man”). Muhammad is in no way considered divine, nor is he worshipped (no image of Muhammad is permitted lest it encourage idolatry), but he is the model par excellence for all Muslims in how they should conduct themselves. It is through Muhammad’s personal teachings and actions — which make up the “way of the Prophet,” the Sunnah — that Muslims discern what is a good and holy life. Details about the Prophet — how he lived, what he did, his non-Quranic utterances, his personal habits — are indispensable knowledge for any faithful Muslim.

Knowledge of the Sunnah comes primarily from the hadiths (“reports”) about Muhammad’s life, which were passed down orally until codified in the eighth century AD, some hundred years after Muhammad’s death. The hadiths comprise the most important body of Islamic texts after the Quran; they are basically a collection of anecdotes about Muhammad’s life believed to have originated with those who knew him personally. There are thousands upon thousands of hadiths, some running to multiple pages, some barely a few lines in length. When the hadiths were first compiled in the eighth century AD, it became obvious that many were inauthentic. The early Muslim scholars of hadith spent tremendous labor trying to determine which hadiths were authoritative and which were suspect.

The hadiths here come exclusively from the most reliable and authoritative collection, Sahih Al-Bukhari, recognized as sound by all schools of Islamic scholarship, translated by a Muslim scholar and which may be found here. Different translations of hadiths can vary in their breakdown of volume, book, and number, but the content is the same. For each hadith, the classifying information is listed first, then the name of the originator of the hadith (generally someone who knew Muhammad personally), and then the content itself. While the absolute authenticity of even a sound hadith is hardly assured, they are nonetheless accepted as authoritative within an Islamic context.

Because Muhammad is himself the measuring stick of morality, his actions are not judged according to an independent moral standard but rather establish what the standard for Muslims properly is.

Volume 7, Book 62, Number 88; Narrated Ursa: The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).
Volume 8, Book 82, Number 795; Narrated Anas: The Prophet cut off the hands and feet of the men belonging to the tribe of Uraina and did not cauterise (their bleeding limbs) till they died.

Volume 2, Book 23, Number 413; Narrated Abdullah bin Umar: The Jews {of Medina} brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque.

Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57; Narrated Ikrima: Some Zanadiqa (atheists) were brought to Ali {the fourth Caliph} and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn ‘Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying, “Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire).” I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, then kill him.”

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25; Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle was asked, “What is the best deed?” He replied, “To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad). The questioner then asked, “What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, “To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.”

In Islam, there is no “natural” sense of morality or justice that transcends the specific examples and injunctions outlined in the Quran and the Sunnah. Because Muhammad is considered Allah’s final prophet and the Quran the eternal, unalterable words of Allah himself, there is also no evolving morality that permits the modification or integration of Islamic morality with that from other sources. The entire Islamic moral universe devolves solely from the life and teachings of Muhammad.

Along with the reliable hadiths, a further source of accepted knowledge about Muhammad comes from the Sira (life) of the Prophet, composed by one of Islam’s great scholars, Muhammad bin Ishaq, in the eighth century AD.

Muhammad’s prophetic career is meaningfully divided into two segments: the first in Mecca, where he labored for fourteen years to make converts to Islam; and later in the city of Medina (The City of the Apostle of God), where he became a powerful political and military leader. In Mecca, we see a quasi-Biblical figure, preaching repentance and charity, harassed and rejected by those around him; later, in Medina, we see an able commander and strategist who systematically conquered and killed those who opposed him. It is the later years of Muhammad’s life, from 622 AD to his death in 632, that are rarely broached in polite company. In 622, when the Prophet was better than fifty years old, he and his followers made the Hijra (emigration or flight), from Mecca to the oasis of Yathrib — later renamed Medina — some 200 miles to the north. Muhammad’s new monotheism had angered the pagan leaders of Mecca, and the flight to Medina was precipitated by a probable attempt on Muhammad’s life. Muhammad had sent emissaries to Medina to ensure his welcome. He was accepted by the Medinan tribes as the leader of the Muslims and as arbiter of inter-tribal disputes.

Shortly before Muhammad fled the hostility of Mecca, a new batch of Muslim converts pledged their loyalty to him on a hill outside Mecca called Aqaba. Ishaq here conveys in the Sira the significance of this event:

Sira, p208: When God gave permission to his Apostle to fight, the second {oath of allegiance at} Aqaba contained conditions involving war which were not in the first act of fealty. Now they {Muhammad’s followers} bound themselves to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle, while he promised them for faithful service thus the reward of paradise.
That Muhammad’s nascent religion underwent a significant change at this point is plain. The scholarly Ishaq clearly intends to impress on his (Muslim) readers that, while in its early years, Islam was a relatively tolerant creed that would “endure insult and forgive the ignorant,” Allah soon required Muslims “to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle.” The Islamic calendar testifies to the paramouncy of the Hijra by setting year one from the date of its occurrence. The year of the Hijra, 622 AD, is considered more significant than the year of Muhammad’s birth or death or that of the first Quranic revelation because Islam is first and foremost a political-military enterprise. It was only when Muhammad left Mecca with his paramilitary band that Islam achieved its proper political-military articulation. The years of the Islamic calendar (which employs lunar months) are designated in English “AH” or “After Hijra.”

The Battle of Badr was the first significant engagement fought by the Prophet. Upon establishing himself in Medina following the Hijra, Muhammad began a series of razzias (raids) on caravans of the Meccan Quraish tribe on the route to Syria.

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 287; Narrated Kab bin Malik: The Apostle had gone out to meet the caravans of Quraish, but Allah caused them (i.e. Muslims) to meet their enemy unexpectedly (with no previous intention).
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 289; Narrated Ibn Abbas: On the day of the battle of Badr, the Prophet said, “O Allah! I appeal to You (to fulfill) Your Covenant and Promise. O Allah! If Your Will is that none should worship You (then give victory to the pagans).” Then Abu Bakr took hold of him by the hand and said, “This is sufficient for you.” The Prophet came out saying, “Their multitude will be put to flight and they will show their backs.” (54:45)

Having returned to Medina after the battle, Muhammad admonished the resident Jewish tribe of Qaynuqa to accept Islam or face a similar fate as the Quraish (3:12-13). The Qaynuqa agreed to leave Medina if they could retain their property, which Muhammad granted. Following the exile of the Bani Qaynuqa, Muhammad turned to individuals in Medina he considered to have acted treacherously. The Prophet particularly seems to have disliked the many poets who ridiculed his new religion and his claim to prophethood — a theme evident today in the violent reactions of Muslims to any perceived mockery of Islam. In taking action against his opponents, “the ideal man” set precedents for all time as to how Muslims should deal with detractors of their religion.

Sira, p367: Then he {Kab bin al-Ashraf} composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women. The Apostle said … “Who will rid me of Ibnul-Ashraf?” Muhammad bin Maslama, brother of the Bani Abdu’l-Ashhal, said, “I will deal with him for you, O Apostle of God, I will kill him.” He said, “Do so if you can.” … “All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try” {said the Prophet to Muhammad bin Maslama}. He said, “O Apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.” He {the Prophet} answered, “Say what you like, for you are free in the matter.”
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 270; Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “Who is ready to kill Kab bin Al-Ashraf who has really hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Do you like me to kill him?” He replied in the affirmative. So, Muhammad bin Maslama went to him (i.e. Kab) and said, “This person (i.e. the Prophet) has put us to task and asked us for charity.” Kab replied, “By Allah, you will get tired of him.” Muhammad said to him, “We have followed him, so we dislike to leave him till we see the end of his affair.” Muhammad bin Maslama went on talking to him in this way till he got the chance to kill him.

A significant portion of the Sira is devoted to poetry composed by Muhammad’s followers and his enemies in rhetorical duels that mirrored those in the field. There seems to have been an informal competition in aggrandizing oneself, one’s tribe, and one’s God while ridiculing one’s adversary in eloquent and memorable ways. Kab bin Malik, one of the assassins of his brother, Kab bin al-Ashraf, composed the following:

Sira, p368: Kab bin Malik said: Of them Kab was left prostrate there (After his fall {the Jewish tribe of} al-Nadir were brought low). Sword in hand we cut him down By Muhammad’s order when he sent secretly by night Kab’s brother to go to Kab. He beguiled him and brought him down with guile Mahmud was trustworthy, bold.
The Meccan Quraish regrouped for an attack on the Muslims at Medina. Muhammad got wind of the Meccan force coming to attack him and encamped his forces on a small hillock north of Medina named Uhud, where the ensuing battle took place.

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 377; Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: On the day of the battle of Uhud, a man came to the Prophet and said, “Can you tell me where I will be if I should get martyred?” The Prophet replied, “In Paradise.” The man threw away some dates he was carrying in his hand, and fought till he was martyred.
Volume 5, Book 59, Number 375; Narrated Al-Bara: … when we faced the enemy, they took to their heel till I saw their women running towards the mountain, lifting up their clothes from their legs, revealing their leg-bangles. The Muslims started saying, “The booty, the booty!” Abdullah bin Jubair said, “The Prophet had taken a firm promise from me not to leave this place.” But his companions refused (to stay). So when they refused (to stay there), (Allah) confused them so that they could not know where to go, and they suffered seventy casualties.

Though deprived of victory at Uhud, Muhammad was by no means vanquished. He continued making raids that made being a Muslim not only virtuous in the eyes of Allah but lucrative as well. In an Islamic worldview, there is no incompatibility between wealth, power, and holiness. Indeed, as a member of the true faith, it is only logical that one should also enjoy the material bounty of Allah — even if that means plundering it from infidels.

As Muhammad had neutralized the Jewish tribe of Bani Qaynuqa after Badr, he now turned to the Bani Nadir after Uhud. According to the Sira, Allah warned Muhammad of an attempt to assassinate him, and the Prophet ordered the Muslims to prepare for war against the Bani Nadir. The Bani Nadir agreed to go into exile if Muhammad permitted them to retain their movable property. Muhammad agreed to these terms save that they leave behind their armor.

In 627 AD, Muhammad faced the greatest challenge to his new community. In that year, the Quraish of Mecca made their most determined attack on the Muslims at Medina itself. Muhammad thought it advisable not to engage them in a pitched battle as at Uhud but took shelter in Medina, protected as it was by lava flows on three sides. The Meccans would have to attack from the northwest in a valley between the flows, and it was there that Muhammad ordered a trench dug for the city’s defense.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 208; Narrated Anas: On the day (of the battle) of the Trench, the Ansar {new converts to Islam} were saying, “We are those who have sworn allegiance to Muhammad for Jihad (for ever) as long as we live.” The Prophet replied to them, “O Allah! There is no life except the life of the Hereafter. So honor the Ansar and emigrants {from Mecca} with Your Generosity.”
And Narrated Mujashi: My brother and I came to the Prophet and I requested him to take the pledge of allegiance from us for migration. He said, “Migration has passed away with its people.” I asked, “For what will you take the pledge of allegiance from us then?” He said, “I will take (the pledge) for Islam and Jihad.”

The Meccans were foiled by the trench and only able to send small raiding parties across it. After several days, they turned back for Mecca. Following his victory, Muhammad turned to the third Jewish tribe at Medina, the Bani Quraiza. While the Bani Qaynuqa and Bani Nadir had suffered exile, the fate of the Bani Quraiza would be considerably more dire.

Sira, p463-4: Then they {the tribe of Quraiza} surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of Bani al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy bin Akhtab and Kab bin Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the Apostle they asked Kab what he thought would be done with them. He replied, “Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!” This went on until the Apostle made an end of them.
Thus do we find the clear precedent that explains the peculiar penchant of Islamic terrorists to behead their victims: it is merely another precedent bestowed by their Prophet.

Following yet another of the Muslims’ raids, this time on a place called Khaibar, “The women of Khaibar were distributed among the Muslims” as was usual practice. (Sira, p511) The raid at Khaibar had been against the Bani Nadir, whom Muhammad had earlier exiled from Medina.

Sira, p515: Kinana bin al-Rabi, who had the custody of the treasure of Bani al-Nadir, was brought to the Apostle who asked him about it. He denied that he knew where it was. A Jew came to the Apostle and said that he had seen Kinana going round a certain ruin every morning early. When the Apostle said to Kinana, “Do you know that if we find you have it I shall kill you?” he said, Yes. The Apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the Apostle gave orders to al-Zubayr bin al-Awwam, “Torture him until you extract what he has,” so he kindled a fire with flint and steel on his chest until he was nearly dead. Then the Apostle delivered him to Muhammad bin Maslama and he struck off his head, in revenge for his brother Mahmud.
Muhammad’s greatest victory came in 632 AD, ten years after he and his followers had been forced to flee to Medina. In that year, he assembled a force of some ten thousand Muslims and allied tribes and descended on Mecca. “The Apostle had instructed his commanders when they entered Mecca only to fight those who resisted them, except a small number who were to be killed even if they were found beneath the curtains of the Kaba.” (Sira, p550)

Volume 3, Book 29, Number 72; Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle entered Mecca in the year of its Conquest wearing an Arabian helmet on his head and when the Prophet took it off, a person came and said, “Ibn Khatal is holding the covering of the Kaba (taking refuge in the Kaba).” The Prophet said, “Kill him.”
Following the conquest of Mecca, Muhammad outlined the future of his religion.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177; Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour {of the Last Judgment} will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”
Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24; Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

It is from such warlike pronouncements as these that Islamic scholarship divides the world into dar al-Islam (the House of Islam, i.e., those nations who have submitted to Allah) and dar al-harb (the House of War, i.e., those who have not). It is this dispensation that the world lived under in Muhammad’s time and that it lives under today. Then as now, Islam’s message to the unbelieving world is the same: submit or be conquered.

d. Sharia Law

Unlike many religions, Islam includes a mandatory and highly specific legal and political plan for society called Sharia (pronounced “sha-rée-uh”), which translates approximately as “way” or “path.” The precepts of Sharia are derived from the commandments of the Quran and the Sunnah (the teachings and precedents of Muhammad as found in the reliable hadiths and the Sira). Together, the Quran and the Sunnah establish the dictates of Sharia, which is the blueprint for the good Islamic society. Because Sharia originates with the Quran and the Sunnah, it is not optional. Sharia is the legal code ordained by Allah for all mankind. To violate Sharia or not to accept its authority is to commit rebellion against Allah, which Allah’s faithful are required to combat.

There is no separation between the religious and the political in Islam; rather Islam and Sharia constitute a comprehensive means of ordering society at every level. While it is in theory possible for an Islamic society to have different outward forms — an elective system of government, a hereditary monarchy, etc. — whatever the outward structure of the government, Sharia is the prescribed content. It is this fact that puts Sharia into conflict with forms of government based on anything other than the Quran and the Sunnah.

The precepts of Sharia may be divided into two parts:

1. Acts of worship (al-ibadat), which includes:
Ritual Purification (Wudu)
Prayers (Salah)
Fasts (Sawm and Ramadan)
Charity (Zakat)
Pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj)

2. Human interaction (al-muamalat), which includes:

Financial transactions
Endowments
Laws of inheritance
Marriage, divorce, and child care
Food and drink (including ritual slaughtering and hunting)
Penal punishments
War and peace
Judicial matters (including witnesses and forms of evidence)

As one may see, there are few aspects of life that Sharia does not specifically govern. Everything from washing one’s hands to child-rearing to taxation to military policy fall under its dictates. Because Sharia is derivate of the Quran and the Sunnah, it affords some room for interpretation. But upon examination of the Islamic sources (see above), it is apparent that any meaningful application of Sharia is going to look very different from anything resembling a free or open society in the Western sense. The stoning of adulterers, execution of apostates and blasphemers, repression of other religions, and a mandatory hostility toward non-Islamic nations punctuated by regular warfare will be the norm. It seems fair then to classify Islam and its Sharia code as a form of totalitarianism.

4. Jihad and Dhimmitude

a. What does “jihad” mean?

Jihad literally translates as “struggle.” Strictly speaking, jihad does not mean “holy war” as Muslim apologists often point out. However, the question remains as to what sort of “struggle” is meant: an inner, spiritual struggle against the passions, or an outward, physical struggle?

As in any case of trying to determine Islamic teaching on a particular matter, one must look to the Quran and the Sunnah. From those sources (see above) it is evident that a Muslim is required to struggle against a variety of things: laziness in prayer, neglecting to give zakat (alms), etc. But is it also plain that a Muslim is commanded to struggle in physical combat against the infidel as well. Muhammad’s impressive military career attests to the central role that military action plays in Islam.

b. Hasan Al-Banna on jihad

Below are excerpts from Hasan Al-Banna’s treatise, Jihad. In 1928, Al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, which today is the most powerful organization in Egypt after the government itself. In this treatise, Al-Banna cogently argues that Muslims must take up arms against unbelievers. As he says, “The verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah … summon people in general (with the most eloquent expression and the clearest exposition) to jihad, to warfare, to the armed forces, and all means of land and sea fighting.”

All Muslims Must Make Jihad
Jihad is an obligation from Allah on every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor evaded. Allah has ascribed great importance to jihad and has made the reward of the martyrs and the fighters in His way a splendid one. Only those who have acted similarly and who have modeled themselves upon the martyrs in their performance of jihad can join them in this reward. Furthermore, Allah has specifically honoured the Mujahideen {those who wage jihad} with certain exceptional qualities, both spiritual and practical, to benefit them in this world and the next. Their pure blood is a symbol of victory in this world and the mark of success and felicity in the world to come.

Those who can only find excuses, however, have been warned of extremely dreadful punishments and Allah has described them with the most unfortunate of names. He has reprimanded them for their cowardice and lack of spirit, and castigated them for their weakness and truancy. In this world, they will be surrounded by dishonour and in the next they will be surrounded by the fire from which they shall not escape though they may possess much wealth. The weaknesses of abstention and evasion of jihad are regarded by Allah as one of the major sins, and one of the seven sins that guarantee failure.

Islam is concerned with the question of jihad and the drafting and the mobilisation of the entire Umma {the global Muslim community} into one body to defend the right cause with all its strength than any other ancient or modern system of living, whether religious or civil. The verses of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Muhammad (PBUH {Peace Be Unto Him}) are overflowing with all these noble ideals and they summon people in general (with the most eloquent expression and the clearest exposition) to jihad, to warfare, to the armed forces, and all means of land and sea fighting.

Here Al-Banna offers citations from the Quran and the reliable hadiths that demonstrate the necessity of combat for Muslims. The citations are comparable to those included in Islam 101 section 2b and are here omitted.

The Scholars on Jihad
I have just presented to you some verses from the Qur’an and the Noble Ahadith concerning the importance of jihad. Now I would like to present to you some of the opinions from jurisprudence of the Islamic Schools of Thought including some latter day authorities regarding the rules of jihad and the necessity for preparedness. From this we will come to realise how far the ummah has deviated in its practice of Islam as can be seen from the consensus of its scholars on the question of jihad.

The author of the ‘Majma’ al-Anhar fi Sharh Multaqal-Abhar’, in describing the rules of jihad according to the Hanafi School, said: ‘Jihad linguistically means to exert one’s utmost effort in word and action; in the Sharee’ah {Sharia — Islamic law} it is the fighting of the unbelievers, and involves all possible efforts that are necessary to dismantle the power of the enemies of Islam including beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their places of worship and smashing their idols. This means that jihad is to strive to the utmost to ensure the strength of Islam by such means as fighting those who fight you and the dhimmies {non-Muslims living under Islamic rule} (if they violate any of the terms of the treaty) and the apostates (who are the worst of unbelievers, for they disbelieved after they have affirmed their belief).

It is fard (obligatory) on us to fight with the enemies. The Imam must send a military expedition to the Dar-al-Harb {House of War — the non-Muslim world} every year at least once or twice, and the people must support him in this. If some of the people fulfill the obligation, the remainder are released from the obligation. If this fard kifayah (communal obligation) cannot be fulfilled by that group, then the responsibility lies with the closest adjacent group, and then the closest after that etc., and if the fard kifayah cannot be fulfilled except by all the people, it then becomes a fard ‘ayn (individual obligation), like prayer on everyone of the people. …

The scholarly people are of one opinion on this matter as should be evident and this is irrespective of whether these scholars were Mujtahideen or Muqalideen and it is irrespective of whether these scholars were salaf (early) or khalaf (late). They all agreed unanimously that jihad is a fard kifayah imposed upon the Islamic ummah in order to spread the Da’wah of Islam, and that jihad is a fard ‘ayn if an enemy attacks Muslim lands. Today, my brother, the Muslims as you know are forced to be subservient before others and are ruled by disbelievers. Our lands have been besieged, and our hurruma’at (personal possessions, respect, honour, dignity and privacy) violated. Our enemies are overlooking our affairs, and the rites of our din are under their jurisdiction. Yet still the Muslims fail to fulfill the responsibility of Da’wah that is on their shoulders. Hence in this situation it becomes the duty of each and every Muslim to make jihad. He should prepare himself mentally and physically such that when comes the decision of Allah, he will be ready.

I should not finish this discussion without mentioning to you that the Muslims, throughout every period of their history (before the present period of oppression in which their dignity has been lost) have never abandoned jihad nor did they ever become negligent in its performance, not even their religious authorities, mystics, craftsmen, etc. They were all always ready and prepared. For example, Abdullah ibn al Mubarak, a very learned and pious man, was a volunteer in jihad for most of his life, and ‘Abdulwahid bin Zayd, a sufi and a devout man, was the same. And in his time, Shaqiq al Balkhi, the shaykh of the sufis encouraged his pupils towards jihad. …

Associated Matters Concerning Jihad

Many Muslims today mistakenly believe that fighting the enemy is jihad asghar (a lesser jihad) and that fighting one’s ego is jihad akbar (a greater jihad). The following narration [athar] is quoted as proof: “We have returned from the lesser jihad to embark on the greater jihad.” They said: “What is the greater jihad?” He said: “The jihad of the heart, or the jihad against one’s ego.”

This narration is used by some to lessen the importance of fighting, to discourage any preparation for combat, and to deter any offering of jihad in Allah’s way. This narration is not a saheeh (sound) tradition: The prominent muhaddith Al Hafiz ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said in the Tasdid al-Qaws:

‘It is well known and often repeated, and was a saying of Ibrahim ibn ‘Abla.’

Al Hafiz Al Iraqi said in the Takhrij Ahadith al-Ahya’:

’Al Bayhaqi transmitted it with a weak chain of narrators on the authority of Jabir, and Al Khatib transmitted it in his history on the authority of Jabir.’

Nevertheless, even if it were a sound tradition, it would never warrant abandoning jihad or preparing for it in order to rescue the territories of the Muslims and repel the attacks of the disbelievers. Let it be known that this narration simply emphasises the importance of struggling against one’s ego so that Allah will be the sole purpose of everyone of our actions.

Other associated matters concerning jihad include commanding the good and forbidding the evil. It is said in the Hadeeth: “One of the greatest forms of jihad is to utter a word of truth in the presence of a tyrannical ruler.” But nothing compares to the honour of shahadah kubra (the supreme martyrdom) or the reward that is waiting for the Mujahideen.

Epilogue

My brothers! The ummah that knows how to die a noble and honourable death is granted an exalted life in this world and eternal felicity in the next. Degradation and dishonour are the results of the love of this world and the fear of death. Therefore prepare for jihad and be the lovers of death. Life itself shall come searching after you.

My brothers, you should know that one day you will face death and this ominous event can only occur once. If you suffer on this occasion in the way of Allah, it will be to your benefit in this world and your reward in the next. And remember brother that nothing can happen without the Will of Allah: ponder well what Allah, the Blessed, the Almighty, has said:

‘Then after the distress, He sent down security for you. Slumber overtook a party of you, while another party was thinking about themselves (as to how to save themselves, ignoring the others and the Prophet) and thought wrongly of Allah – the thought of ignorance. They said, “Have we any part in the affair?” Say you (O Muhammad): “Indeed the affair belongs wholly to Allah.” They hide within themselves what they dare not reveal to you, saying: “If we had anything to do with the affair, none of us would have been killed here.” Say: “Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death: but that Allah might test what is in your hearts; and to purify that which was in your hearts (sins), and Allah is All-Knower of what is in (your) hearts.”‘ {Sura 3:154}

c. Dar al-Islam and dar al-harb: the House of Islam and the House of War

The violent injunctions of the Quran and the violent precedents set by Muhammad set the tone for the Islamic view of politics and of world history. Islamic scholarship divides the world into two spheres of influence, the House of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the House of War (dar al-harb). Islam means submission, and so the House of Islam includes those nations that have submitted to Islamic rule, which is to say those nations ruled by Sharia law. The rest of the world, which has not accepted Sharia law and so is not in a state of submission, exists in a state of rebellion or war with the will of Allah. It is incumbent on dar al-Islam to make war upon dar al-harb until such time that all nations submit to the will of Allah and accept Sharia law. Islam’s message to the non-Muslim world is the same now as it was in the time of Muhammad and throughout history: submit or be conquered. The only times since Muhammad when dar al-Islam was not actively at war with dar al-harb were when the Muslim world was too weak or divided to make war effectively.

But the lulls in the ongoing war that the House of Islam has declared against the House of War do not indicate a forsaking of jihad as a principle but reflect a change in strategic factors. It is acceptable for Muslim nations to declare hudna, or truce, at times when the infidel nations are too powerful for open warfare to make sense. Jihad is not a collective suicide pact even while “killing and being killed” (Sura 9:111) is encouraged on an individual level. For the past few hundred years, the Muslim world has been too politically fragmented and technologically inferior to pose a major threat to the West. But that is changing.

i. Taqiyya — Religious Deception

Due to the state of war between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, reuses de guerre, i.e., systematic lying to the infidel, must be considered part and parcel of Islamic tactics. The parroting by Muslim organizations throughout dar al-harb that “Islam is a religion of peace,” or that the origins of Muslim violence lie in the unbalanced psyches of particular individual “fanatics,” must be considered as disinformation intended to induce the infidel world to let down its guard. Of course, individual Muslims may genuinely regard their religion as “peaceful” — but only insofar as they are ignorant of its true teachings, or in the sense of the Egyptian theorist Sayyid Qutb, who posited in his Islam and Universal Peace that true peace would prevail in the world just as soon as Islam had conquered it.

A telling point is that, while Muslims who present their religion as peaceful abound throughout dar al-harb, they are nearly non-existent in dar al-Islam. A Muslim apostate once suggested to me a litmus test for Westerners who believe that Islam is a religion of “peace” and “tolerance”: try making that point on a street corner in Ramallah, or Riyadh, or Islamabad, or anywhere in the Muslim world. He assured me you wouldn’t live five minutes.

In his book, Some to Mecca Turn to Pray, Mervyn Hiskett discusses taqiyya:

{A} problem concerning law and order {with respect to Muslims in dar al-harb} arises from an ancient Islamic legal principle — that of taqiyya, a word the root meaning of which is “to remain faithful” but which in effect means “dissimulation.” It has full Quranic authority (92:17 and 49:13) and allows the Muslim to conform outwardly to the requirements of unislamic or non-Islamic government, while inwardly “remaining faithful” to whatever he conceives to be proper Islam, while waiting for the tide to turn.
Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269; Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”

Historically, examples of taqiyya include permission to renounce Islam itself in order to save one’s neck or ingratiate oneself with an enemy. It is not hard to see that the implications of taqiyya are insidious in the extreme: they essentially render negotiated settlement — and, indeed, all veracious communication between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb — impossible. It should not, however, be surprising that a party to a war should seek to mislead the other about its means and intentions. Jihad Watch’s own Hugh Fitzgerald sums up taqiyya and kitman, a related form of deception.

“Taqiyya” is the religiously-sanctioned doctrine, with its origins in Shi’a Islam but now practiced by non-Shi’a as well, of deliberate dissimulation about religious matters that may be undertaken to protect Islam, and the Believers. A related term, of broader application, is “kitman,” which is defined as “mental reservation.” An example of “Taqiyya” would be the insistence of a Muslim apologist that “of course” there is freedom of conscience in Islam, and then quoting that Qur’anic verse — “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” {2:256} But the impression given will be false, for there has been no mention of the Muslim doctrine of abrogation, or naskh, whereby such an early verse as that about “no compulsion in religion” has been cancelled out by later, far more intolerant and malevolent verses. In any case, history shows that within Islam there is, and always has been, “compulsion in religion” for Muslims, and for non-Muslims. …
“Kitman” is close to “taqiyya,” but rather than outright dissimulation, it consists in telling only a part of the truth, with “mental reservation” justifying the omission of the rest. One example may suffice. When a Muslim maintains that “jihad” really means “a spiritual struggle,” and fails to add that this definition is a recent one in Islam (little more than a century old), he misleads by holding back, and is practicing “kitman.” When he adduces, in support of this doubtful proposition, the hadith in which Muhammad, returning home from one of his many battles, is reported to have said (as known from a chain of transmitters, or isnad), that he had returned from “the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad” and does not add what he also knows to be true, that this is a “weak” hadith, regarded by the most-respected muhaddithin as of doubtful authenticity, he is further practicing “kitman.”

In times when the greater strength of dar al-harb necessitates that the jihad take an indirect approach, the natural attitude of a Muslim to the infidel world must be one of deception and omission. Revealing frankly the ultimate goal of dar al-Islam to conquer and plunder dar al-harb when the latter holds the military trump cards would be strategic idiocy. Fortunately for the jihadists, most infidels do not understand how one is to read the Quran, nor do they trouble themselves to find out what Muhammad actually did and taught, which makes it easy to give the impression through selective quotations and omissions that “Islam is a religion of peace.” Any infidel who wants to believe such fiction will happily persist in his mistake having been cited a handful of Meccan verses and told that Muhammad was a man of great piety and charity. Digging only slightly deeper is sufficient to dispel the falsehood.

More to come …

Posted by Greg at March 13, 2007 05:15 PM

The Myth of Moderate Mullahs

The Myth of Moderate Mullahs
By Reuel Marc Gerecht
The Weekly Standard | March 14, 2007

If the Reagan administration had learned in 1987 that the clerical regime in Tehran was doing what it is doing today, would Washington have approved of preventive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities? If Reagan and company had seen Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rapidly constructing uranium-enrichment centrifuges in underground facilities, pushing doggedly ahead on heavy-water research and a plutonium-making nuclear reactor, and spending profusely on the development of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles that are effective weapons only if topped with WMD warheads, would more of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment have urged our European allies to support severe sanctions to dissuade the mullahs from developing the bomb? Would leading members of the Democratic party, who then controlled the House and the Senate, have been sympathetic to a military response to the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions, or would they have argued for another round of engagement, quickly forgetting their disparagement of the White House’s and the CIA’s 1985 search for bribable “moderates” in a terrorist-supporting state with American blood on its hands?

Even with the Cold War fear of Soviet reactions, Reagan might well have ordered a strike by the United States–probably with the encouragement of his secretary of state, George Shultz, the most farsighted official ever about the dangers of terrorism, and a man not averse to using force in international affairs. The odds are good that many Democrats in Congress would have applauded any aggressive decision–with or without accompanying protests about neglect of the War Powers Act and Congress’s monopoly on declarations of war. The Western Europeans might have expressed their dismay at American cowboyism, although the criticism might have been short-lived since the clerical regime then was regularly unleashing terrorism in Europe. Twenty years ago the Western Europeans had not so fully entered their post-Kantian world where soft power always trumps hard. Also, the French and the Germans were massively invested in Iraq, then at war with Iran. The Soviets, of course, would have been furious, their distaste for American unilateralism checked somewhat by their concern for Saddam Hussein. The U.S. ambassador at the United Nations, Vernon Walters, would no doubt have had to live through a public excoriation of Reagan’s America as a lawless, aggressive, third-world-thumping rogue state.

Things are obviously different now, primarily because the Islamic Republic has changed. One could see the changes beginning in the 1980s, as the wreckage of the Iran-Iraq war was slowly dissolving the violent love affair that young Iranian Shiite males had had with God and the charismatic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. But back then it was too early to tell how losing the war would play out on the clerical elite.

For those who believe in “diplomacy first, diplomacy only” for dealing with the mullahs’ quest for nuclear weaponry, the perceived changes in the Islamic Republic are what make the dovish case compelling. Khomeini with a nuke, even more than Saddam with atomic weapons, would have been just too unsettling for us to have reposed our confidence in the theory of deterrence. But in 2007, Ali Khamenei, the clerical leader of Iran, his president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the most politically adept mullah of the revolution, seem somehow less threatening, allowing many to accept what would have been unacceptable 20 years ago. Together, they just don’t have the right mix of charisma, white-hot faith, unpredictable power, and history to make us, and Iranians, tremble the way we all did with the Imam. If Ahmadinejad were the sole ruler of Iran, then American and Israeli fighter-bombers probably would have already annihilated the principal nuclear sites–even with American soldiers in harm’s way in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tied to the other two men, and to the disputatious clerical elite below them, Ahmadinejad just isn’t perceived by many (outside of Israel) as a sufficient threat.

Is this perception correct? Has the clerical regime sufficiently moderated to quell the worst fears? Are the “realists” right when they suggest that we can negotiate with the mullahs–at least more intelligently and successfully than we did in 1979, 1985, and 1999-2000, when President Bill Clinton and his secretary of state Madeleine Albright downplayed Iranian responsibility for the deaths of 19 American servicemen and the wounding of 372 others at Khobar Towers in the hope of reaching out to moderates within the regime? Or is such an opening conceivable, a real possibility for pragmatists willing to offer the right incentives to the clerical elite?

The CIA and the State Department absolutely didn’t foresee the short-lived “Tehran spring” of Mohammad Khatami, a clerical reformist who rose to the presidency in May 1997. Perhaps the U.S. government is again blind and doesn’t see the possibility of a “grand bargain” with a regime that understands the revolution is over and now just wants to be recognized as a regional great power. Nixon’s détente with the Soviet Union looks rather thin in its achievements when compared with Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical and occasionally covert policy of armed confrontation. But the Islamic Republic and the Soviet Union are not the same country. Perhaps there might be a successful détente with the mullahs, a modus vivendi that would neutralize the menace of their nuclear weapons, their terrorism, and their dubious dealings with the Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Iraq’s militant Shiites, and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda.

Let us look at the religious dimension of this problem, and then at its more mundane aspects. Are the clerical elite and their praetorians–the Revolutionary Guards Corps, the thuggish Basij, and the killers of the Ministry of Intelligence–still running a revolutionary enterprise within which they see themselves as the ideological vanguard of the nation and Islam? Yes, absolutely. To a striking degree, the ruling elite has maintained its sense of religious mission, while the Iranian people, especially the young who don’t remember the charisma of Khomeini, have gone cold. That the Iranian people remain faithful Shiite Muslims is beyond doubt. A majority may even remain vaguely faithful to the Islamic revolution and still believe that clerics as a class, no matter how despised for their postrevolutionary greed and despotic manners, retain a special, didactic place between God and man. But for the vast majority of Iranians, an Islamic missionary spirit is no longer happily married to the national identity.

For the ruling mullahs and their supporters, just the opposite appears true. The clerics still seem quite determined to see themselves as the elite of Islam, faithful inheritors of Khomeini’s most sacred legacy–political power. Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, the radical clergy’s indispensable guarantors of the religious order, who in great part shaped the manhood and ethics of Ahmadinejad, put it well when he said: “The geographic heart of the Islamic world is in Mecca and Medina. But, the political heart of the Islamic world is in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Supreme Leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] is the flag-bearer of the front of the Islamic awakening and the fronts of the awakening of third-world nations.”

This is a basic point, often not seen by Western “realist” commentators on foreign affairs: The seizing of power by Khomeini and his clerical minions was a sacred act, proof that God isn’t dead. The maintenance of clerical power in Iran is a sacred mission: It is what separates the revolutionaries from the detested traditional clergy, who wanted to hold government to high ethical standards but also to keep their distance from the corrupting institutions and exercise of power.

For the revolutionary clergy, and its loyal minions like Ahmadinejad, power is Allah. In clerical eyes, the new mullahs, led by Khomeini, drove the revolution. They–not the people, who often were unreliable servants of God against the shah and counterrevolutionaries–are the engine of progress. Khamenei and the ruling clerical elite will always thwart the exercise of meaningful democracy in Iran, in part because the people, repeatedly, have shown themselves unfaithful to the religious revolution. Iranians, whose capacity for ferocious religious zeal is undermined constantly by a desire for happy lethargy and little sins, cannot be trusted.

The superiority of theocracy over democracy derives not only from the clergy’s greater knowledge of the Holy Law and its special, frequently charismatic role in Iranian history (Khomeini was not the first magnetic mullah in modern times), but also from the Iranian people’s craving for satellite dishes and morally debased Western programming. This is one reason the early revolutionary reflex to label all Iranians and foreigners who opposed any aspect of clerical rule “criminals against God” or “enemies of Islam” came back with vigor in the late 1990s, when reformist pressure, partly unleashed by the presidential election of 1997, threatened the regime. The Iranian reform movement in the 1990s was, among other things, a self-conscious embrace of the Western conception of civil society. As weak as the reform movement actually was, it was enough to provoke Safavi to warn that the Guards Corps would “rip the tongues” out of reformers who threatened the Islamic Republic’s God-ordained order.

During Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005), leading clerical dissidents like Ali Montazeri, Khomeini’s former favorite, and his disciple, Abdullah Nuri, the former interior minister who’d become a provocative newspaper editor, were corralled; Nuri, a faithful child of Khomeini who became the boldest clerical dissident, was arrested in 1999 and mentally ruined in prison. It’s worthwhile to note that one of Nuri’s most egregious sins, which he committed during his nationally televised trial (the last time the regime would be so stupid as to give a dissident a national platform), was to mock on religious grounds the regime’s refusal to restore relations with the United States. Was God’s Islamic revolution so weak, Nuri implied, that it could not sustain the reopening of an American embassy in downtown Tehran?

It is astonishing that some Western analysts of Iran, and some senior U.S. government officials, actually believe that Khamenei and his kind–and there are many influential mullahs who are even more perfervid in the belief that America is diabolical–would be willing to restore relations with the United States. Such a restoration would be, as Nuri correctly implied, an end to the revolution as we have known it. For the mullahs and for God, this would be an unbearable defeat. Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, and Rafsanjani have no intention of letting this happen.

Although they can be obstreperous, and are politically becoming a force to be reckoned with, the Guards Corps, like Iran’s much-feared intelligence service, has been loyal to the clerical regime. There is simply no information anywhere–not even fifth-hand recycled gossip–that suggests the Guards, or as they are known in Persian, the Pasdaran, are amenable to the idea of restored relations with the United States. Just the opposite. Read Pasdaran publications and the speeches (or outbursts) of senior members of the Corps, and the revolution still seems hot and under siege. It’s doubtful there is a single mullah in Iran who would dare tell the Pasdaran to abandon its continuing occupation of the U.S. embassy and stand to attention before a raised American flag.

The guardians of the revolution–among whom one counts first Khamenei and Rafsanjani–struck hard against Iranian liberals as well as dissident clerics during Khatami’s presidency. These attacks confirm the unchanging religious nature of the regime. Liberals, though they posed no organized threat to the status quo, were regularly murdered, often brazenly. In religious terms, they were seen as a cross between atheists and apostates who openly admired and emulated Western ways. One has to be enormously careful analyzing the commentary of the intrepid and fearless dissident journalist Akbar Ganji, but his suggestion that Rafsanjani had a controlling hand in the organized crackdown in the last four years of Khatami’s presidency should be treated seriously. Rafsanjani, the great revolutionary pragmatist, who has probably done more than any other mullah to ensure clerical dominion, needed to ensure the Islamic Republic’s balance, which was being unsettled by men and women who wanted to transform the country into something like a democracy. This is why more Iranian dissidents were murdered abroad during Rafsanjani’s first three years as president (1989-92) than during the previous ten years under Khomeini.

Many Western observers of Rafsanjani have viewed his attention to more effective administration and his family business empire as evidence that he is a pragmatist who really wants to build a two-way bridge between Iran and the West, but especially between Tehran and Washington. For many Western observers, the cleric who has probably done more than any other to ensure the resources for Iran’s nuclear-weapons program was supposed to be the mullah who was going to halt the program–if he’d only defeated Ahmadinejad for the presidency in 2005.

For some Westerners, Rafsanjani and his allies are still the dreamed-of Trojan Horse that would bring more capitalism to Iran and guarantee its admission–if only the United States would allow it–to the World Trade Organization. Rafsanjani would thus become the Iranian Gorbachev, putting the Islamic Republic on an economic slippery slope to greater freedom and responsible international behavior. (Many Western and Iranian observers once embraced Khatami as the Iranian Gorbachev, but Khamenei’s greater power and Khatami’s political ineptitude, spinelessness, and faithfulness to the country’s institutions and elite collapsed this illusion pretty quickly.)

Rafsanjani is the indispensable mullah for those who envision the Islamic Republic as a normal, ambitious regional power. These hopeful souls are untroubled by Rafsanjani’s voluminous writings where he shows himself, just like Khamenei, to be deeply impregnated with the idea of an Islam-destroying, globe-trotting, American tyranny that has its roots in the Jewish capitalist domination of the United States. For the optimistic, Rafsanjani is corrupt and power-hungry (undoubtedly true), and he is therefore not a soldier of God (undoubtedly false). It is as if Henry Plantagenet, because he was a worldly man with enormous ambition, good business sense, an unrivaled appetite for women, and a brood of independent and sometimes decadent children, could not also have been seriously committed to advancing Christendom’s great counterattack against Islam, the Crusades. If Rafsanjani had been a statesman, and not a dedicated revolutionary cleric, he would have tried a bit harder to integrate Iran peacefully into the world; he wouldn’t have killed so many of his own people, at home and abroad, or aligned his nation with the Middle East’s worst terrorist groups, or clandestinely advanced a nuclear-weapons program, or crushed his former comrades who actually wanted to reform the Islamic Republic. Simply put, Rafsanjani is a modern revolutionary cleric-cum-warrior, serving the cause of Iran and Islam against those forces, preeminently the United States, that are antithetical to his conception of progress.

And let us return to the World Trade Organization, perhaps the favorite hobbyhorse for those who think the Islamic Republic can be tamed economically. Whether or not the WTO can be a soft-power engine of democratic regime change, Khamenei and Rafsanjani, who both backed Iran’s admission to the organization in 1996, don’t view it as likely to convulse what they consider holy–at least not before the clerical regime develops nuclear weapons. It’s worth noting that Iran formally made its application to the WTO in July 1996; the clerical regime, with Khamenei and Rafsanjani firmly in command, bombed the Americans at Khobar Towers three weeks earlier. If there is a contradiction between terrorism and trade, it is one that escapes Iran’s clerical vanguard.

Eager to attack the Bush administration, many “realists” and liberals rallied around the “missed opportunity” of a “semi-official” Iranian letter delivered to the United States by Switzerland’s ambassador to Iran, Tim Guldimann, in 2003. The letter, never made public, supposedly details how the Islamic Republic was ready to settle all of its differences with the United States–including terrorism, nuclear weapons, and aid to nefarious organizations–if only the Bush administration would listen. No one was so rude as to point out that it was an open secret in the European diplomatic community in Tehran that Ambassador Guldimann was the primary drafter of this correspondence and that he, “a leftist child of 1968,” as one European ambassador who served with Guldimann in Tehran told me, “liked the Iranians as much as he disliked the Americans.” The “realists” avoid at all cost references to Iran’s pre-9/11 dealings with al Qaeda (see page 240 in the 9/11 Commission report), which make Iran at least complicit in facilitating al Qaeda’s terrorist operations against the United States. When it comes to Iran today, when we look at the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan, then consider the gut-wrenching option of striking militarily the clerical regime’s nuclear facilities, many of us play games with ourselves.

The common and optimistic view that the clerical regime is capable of flexibility is now lethally playing out in our discussions of Iranian operations in Iraq. Without a doubt, the Bush administration could have been more organized in presenting its case against Tehran, particularly with regard to the delivery of explosive devices that have killed Americans. But this isn’t rocket science. Principal questions: Is the Iranian-manufactured weaponry found in Iraq available in sufficient quantities in the global arms bazaar? Is there any evidence that groups that have used this weaponry against American soldiers in Iraq have imported other sophisticated weaponry from outside Iraq? Do we have strong evidence of arms shipments from Iran over a protracted period of time?

If the answers to these questions are “no,” “no,” and “yes,” then the case is closed. The idea that the Revolutionary Guards Corps or the Iranian intelligence ministry–both of which have proven themselves overseas to be faithful and lethal servants of the clerical regime–is delivering weaponry to groups in Iraq without the approval of Iran’s leadership just isn’t believable. This is not how these two institutions work. Over 20 years we have certainly gleaned sufficient information about the hierarchy, rules, and personnel of the Pasdaran and Iran’s intelligence service to know that they are not rogue warriors. The clerical regime, following in the footsteps of the shah, likes bureaucracy. Its national security council isn’t a social club. When it comes to killing people abroad, the Guards and intelligence operatives do what Ali Khamenei tells them to do. The idea that the Qods Force, the nasty elite of the Pasdaran, is delivering materiel to Iraq without Khamenei’s approval makes the clerical regime sound like a banana republic–casual about the security services essential to its survival. There is a reason Khamenei has an ever-expanding private office overseeing both the Pasdaran and the intelligence ministry: When so inclined, he runs them.

The real question for the Bush administration is, When did it learn about these arms shipments? President Bush decided to take a harder line against the Iranians in Iraq in September 2006. Did the administration know earlier that the Iranians were delivering lethal supplies to anti-American Iraqi groups? If so, the administration ought to be scorched not for its bellicosity, but for its timidity. (The same question might be asked about al Qaeda camps in northern Pakistan. Is the administration sure of this information? Do we know where they are? If so, then have we informed the Pakistanis that if they don’t deal with this problem promptly, we will, through a continuous bombing campaign?)

It’s damning if an administration that has defined itself by its vigorous, preventive approach to terrorist groups and state-sponsors of terrorism has reverted to a Clintonian policy of caution where American lives are at stake, doing nothing or too little too late. One must hope that we have conveyed to the Swiss, who look after our interests in Tehran, or to Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, who knows the Iranian ruling elite well, that America can make life very difficult for Iran, in Iraq and elsewhere, unless these shipments stop.

It’s likely that Iran will get itself into serious trouble in Iraq. The temptation to meddle–to try to spread radical thinking in Iraq and create organizations the ruling clergy is comfortable working with, along the lines of Hezbollah–is very great. Like Lebanon, and unlike the rest of the Sunni Arab world, Iraq has a clergy that it may be possible to coopt. The Iraqi clergy could conceivably, if properly formed, fed, and intimidated, see the world more or less as the Iranian revolutionary mullahs do. Clerical Iran in Iraq has a chance. It’s not a big chance, given the Arab-Persian and intra-Shiite historical baggage, but it’s more of a chance than the regime has had elsewhere since 1982, when Hezbollah started to consume the Lebanese Shiite community.

The odds are that Tehran’s mullahs are going to try to pick a winner in Iraq. If the Iranians can “take” Mesopotamia, then they will finally have a substantial opening to the Arab world. Religiously and geopolitically, they will have their day. Iran’s ruling elite and their Iraqi friends, along with their Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian allies, will then define the anti-American/anti-Israeli rejectionist camp. They could conceivably cause enormous problems for the Jordanians, assuming the Hashemite regime survives the Sunni exodus from Iraq. Ditto for the Saudis and Egyptians. This picture is complicated by the Sunni-Shiite bloodletting in Mesopotamia. But it’s foreordained that Tehran would respond by being even more anti-American and, among Muslims, even more ecumenically radical. (Khamenei has always been much more careful to avoid uniquely Shiite allusions in his calls for Islamic solidarity against the United States and the West than was Khomeini.)

Confronted with dissatisfaction and dissent at home, Iran’s ruling clergy will, the odds are good, go abroad to seek victories and fulfill their undimmed mission to be God’s true vanguard in the Muslim world. The American presence in Iraq impedes this task because it gives Iraqi Shiites a non-Iranian option, particularly in the face of the Sunni insurgency and holy war against the Shia.

If the United States can develop a successful counterinsurgency against Iraq’s Sunnis, Iraq’s Shiite clergy may grow more independent and open in its internal debates about proper governance and its own role in an Iraqi democracy. Friendly and dependent Iraqi groups like SCIRI may fairly quickly become difficult for Tehran. Right now, SCIRI has no firm idea of what it is. It has had no test of its democratic commitment. It doesn’t really know what its relationship will be with Iraq’s moderate senior clergy in Najaf. This process of discovery for SCIRI, and for other Shiites in Iraq, may come with speed if the Sunni violence can be checked. This could go badly for Tehran. In any case, the Iranians will do what they can to prevent the success of moderate Shiites next door.

We may well be on a collision course with Iran in Mesopotamia. But what the clerical regime and many Western observers have been slow to appreciate is that Iraq raises the odds that Washington (and Jerusalem) will view Iranian actions in Iraq as inseparable from the nuclear question. If American and European sanctions don’t make the clerical regime give up its atomic ambitions–and especially if the Iranians gain the upper hand in Iraq–Iraq may well become the factor that tilts the Americans or Israelis toward preventive military strikes against Tehran’s nuclear installations.

What should be clear, however, is that a clerical Iran sensing victory in Iraq–victory defined by the withdrawal of U.S. forces–would have no incentive to negotiate on its nuclear-weapons program. The United States should not fear talking to Iran–we have done so repeatedly since 1979. But in the past, we have almost always done so poorly. It’s hard to imagine U.S. diplomats being any more successful today, unless the Bush administration underscores its willingness to use force against the mullahs (the exact opposite of the approach many senior officials in the Pentagon and State Department have so far used). If we do this, the clerical regime will certainly respect us more. And unless they respect us–unless they fear us–diplomacy will have no chance. This is Middle Eastern Politics 101. If we don’t know this rule–if we unlearn it because of Iraq–the clerical regime will again painfully educate us about what “constructive engagement” means for men who still believe they are the cutting edge of a new Islamic civilization.

Iran’s Non-Persian Ticking Timebomb

Iran’s Non-Persian Ticking Timebomb
By Joseph Puder
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 14, 2007

It was flattering to read Edward Luttwak’s piece in the Wall Street Journal (February 27, 2007) titled Persian Shrug. In the opinion piece Luttwak repeated this writer’s argument, expressed a year ago on the pages of the Philadelphia Bulletin that U.S. strategy with regard to Iran must involve the various ethnic minorities in Iran that account for almost 50 percent of the population.

The idea of utilizing the Iranian ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian theocratic regime developed in my mind last year during the Intelligence Summit in Alexandria, VA, where I discussed the idea of mobilizing the non-Persian ethnics with exiled Iranian ex-patriots. I then offered the idea to Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (Ret. Deputy Chief of USAF) one of the keynote presenters dealing with Iran.

The minority non-Persian ethnic groups have little love lost for the theocratic regime in Tehran. The Kurds in northwestern Iran adjacent to Iraqi Kurdistan comprise 7 percent of the Iranian population. The Kurds have had previous insurrections against Tehran and now, with their ethnic brothers in Iraqi Kurdistan enjoying virtual independence, the urge for autonomy is greater than ever.

But it is not only the Kurds who are resentful of the Persians “cultural imperialism.” The Arabs (many of them Sunni Muslims) have been in open rebellion against the Shiite regime. Based in the oil rich province of Khuzestan in the Gulf region of Iran, the Arabs account for 3 percent of the population, generating 100 percent hatred for the ayatollahs, who have been practicing ethnic cleansing in the region by displacing Arabs with ethnic Persians.

The Baluch (2 percent of Iran’s population) in Iranian Baluchistan represent another ethnic group with long and simmering grievances towards Tehran. Located in Southeastern Iran, the Baluch have more in common with their Baluch brothers in Afghanistan and Pakistan, than with the Iranian regime. They too seek cultural autonomy and dream of a free Baluchistan that would incorporate all Baluchis.

Turkman Sunni Muslims (2 percent of the population) are another disaffected group in Iran.

And then of course there are the Azeris who count for 24 percent of Iran’s people. They speak a Turkic language and strive for an Azeri nation that would join them with their brothers and sisters in neighboring Azerbaijan- a country that not only speaks their language but is freer, more secular, and growing ever more prosperous.

I pointed out to Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney that his idea of military action against Iran to destroy its capacity to weaponize its potential nuclear arsenal must coincide with an effort to remove the current Tehran regime. To eliminate the regime, I reasoned, the U.S. and its allies must use the non-Persian ethnic minorities as a weapon against the mullahs.

Gen. McInerney to his credit understood that military action must be carried out simultaneous with regime change. He asserted, moreover, that with a fatwa by a leading mullah, which declared the use of nuclear weapons against the West permissible, the Iranian regime had crossed the Rubicon. He accepted the premise of using the disaffected minorities as a weapon. Whether the Bush administration has given weighted consideration to this idea is still unclear.

Aside from minority grievances in Iran, the extremism of the Iranian theocracy and the treatment of its own people has created deep internal divisions. Students, women, and liberal thinkers and writers are harassed and imprisoned. The Iranian economy is in shambles. In spite of Iran being an oil exporting nation it has to import gas from Turkey, and, with an inflation rate of 30 percent a year and unemployment at over 20 percent, life has become much more difficult for the average Iranian.

Religious persecution of non-Shiites in Iran is the least talked about story out of Iran. The Jewish community, or what is left of an ancient and once-thriving society, is held hostage by the regime. The Bahais fled Iran following their bloody persecution. Bahai temples can now be found in suburban Chicago and in Haifa, Israel, but are absent in Iran. Zoroastrians, too, have been persecuted, as well as Christians. In more recent years the ayatollahs have dealt harshly with the Muslim Sufi movement as well. The most striking fact however, is the presence of more than a million Sunni Muslims in Tehran without a single Sunni mosque. Both the “Big Satan” America and the “Little Satan” Israel have numerous Sunni mosques, while Shiite Muslim Tehran has none.

Even among the ruling elite, a so-called anti-fascist front has begun to emerge. According to Ray Takeyh, author of Inside Iran-Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, a younger generation of activists led by reformers such as Muhammad Reza Khatami, the brother of the former president of Iran, and Gholam Hussein Karbaschi, a former mayor of Tehran and a protégé of former Iranian president Rafsanjani, oppose the current regime’s extremism. They, too, are seeking change.

These two, and other like-minded liberal and pragmatic thinkers and activists, are seeking to restore the original draft of the Islamic Republics constitution, which calls for the separation of powers, a strong presidency, and defined responsibilities for the elected institutions. They seek to reclaim the early promises of the Iranian revolution and bring democracy to the people of Iran and, to relegate the Supreme ruler (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) to matters of faith.

A much better alternative to bombing Iran as Lt. General McInerney advocates, is to consider bringing down the regime from within. As Edward Luttwak suggests, instead of seeking a “détente with the repulsive regime…it is to be true to the Wilsonian tradition of American foreign policy by encouraging the forces of national liberation within Iran.”

Threatened by the Jihad

Threatened by the Jihad
By Steven Emerson
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 14, 2007

On January 26, 2007, I appeared on Fox News Channel’s Hannity and Colmes program to discuss a January 8, 2007 meeting between the Attorney General of the United States and various Muslim and Arab groups, some of which have a long history of supporting terrorist groups and extremist ideologies. In response to a question from Alan Colmes about the importance of “good relations” between Attorney General Gonzales and the Muslim community, I stated, “[b]ut when you say the ‘Muslim community’ – [the Attorney General] is anointing them representatives of the Muslim community, when in fact there are many others who support the war on terrorism, who don’t tell their members not to cooperate with the FBI, who don’t support Hamas and Hezbollah, unlike members of this group. So, in fact, I think it’s wrong to confer legitimacy on those very organizations that inhibit cooperation with the FBI, that support Hamas or justify Hezbollah, and who are radical in terms of portraying the war on terrorism as a war against Islam.”

On February 16, 2007, MPAC’s lawyer sent me a letter demanding an apology for my allegedly “[f]alse statements about the Muslim Public Affairs Council on Hannity and Colmes.” The letter demands that I “immediately issue a public apology and … cease and desist from making false statements about MPAC,” and that “MPAC is willing to pursue all available legal remedies” should I not comply with MPAC’s demands.

And what are the allegedly “false statements” MPAC is claiming I made? That “MPAC told its ‘members not to cooperate with the FBI,’” and that MPAC “are the ones radicalizing their community.” Now let’s analyze those charges by looking at MPAC’s own words.

First, that MPAC has instructed American Muslims not to cooperate with the FBI:

MPAC and its lawyers claim this to be untrue. But at a July 1, 2005 ISNA conference in Dallas, MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati did just that. Al-Marayati, speaking of the FBI’s terrorism investigation in Lodi and the use of Muslim informants in that case, California, told the assembled crowd of Muslim-Americans, “[c]ounter-terrorism and counter-violence should be defined by us. We should define how an effective counter-terrorism policy should be pursued in this country. So, number one, we reject any effort, notion, suggestion that Muslims should start spying on one another.” Right there, Al-Marayati is instructing Muslim Americans to not even attempt to observe any extremism or terrorist activity in their community, and even if they should observe something troubling, to not inform law enforcement authorities, that the duty owed to the Muslim community by the government is greater than to society at large.

And Al-Marayati continued, “Law enforcement is going to come to your mosque. It already has as far as I can tell. Everywhere I go, either somebody tells me that officials have met with them publicly or they tell me that they know who those folks are that are representing law enforcement. So we know they have communicated one way or the other with the Muslim community. The question is how do you deal with it in a healthy, open, transparent manner. That is why we are saying have them come in community forums, in open-dialogues, so they come through the front door and you prevent them having to come from the back door.”

Here, Al-Marayati is instructing Muslim Americans not to cooperate with the FBI’s preferred methods of investigation, and that, as he stated earlier, it is the Muslim community, and its so-called leaders, that should define the terms of the FBI’s investigation. That approach can hardly be described as full-fledged cooperation with law enforcement. Far from it, in fact. Al-Marayati used the Lodi case as an excuse to tell Muslim Americans not to deal with the FBI directly. Demanding that the American Muslim community only work with FBI agents and other law enforcement in public forums clearly detracts from the ability of investigators to do their job, which is to protect American citizens from the threat of radical Islamist terrorists. MPAC, and groups like it, are also clearly seeking to intrude into and ultimately to dominate the relationship between the law enforcement and the Muslim community, ensuring that the degree of allowable cooperation is regulated by these self-appointed leaders.

And why did Mr. Al-Marayati not urge his listeners in Dallas that they should extend full cooperation to the FBI and law enforcement community at every instance, rather than to demand a specific approach which is debilitating from an investigatory standpoint? Or that law abiding American Muslims need some sort of self-appointed intermediary when working with the FBI? And how can people feel comfortable providing information to law enforcement if they can only do so in an open forum? I will leave that to the reader to decide. But one thing is clear: MPAC is on the record telling American Muslims not to directly cooperate with the FBI, while at the same time advocating an impractical or impossible way for those who actually have information to relay it to law enforcement.

Now let’s analyze the other alleged “false statement”: that MPAC serves to radicalize the American Muslim community:

This claim is even easier to demonstrate, as MPAC officials give speeches and quotes to the media that can only serve to alienate and radicalize Muslims who hear them. The constant refrain: a conspiracy theory that the War on Terror is a contrivance of the U.S. government and is really a “War against Islam.” Such a conspiracy dismissed legitimate efforts by law enforcement to fight terrorism and terrorist financing perpetrated on U.S. soil. By virtue of the sheer number of times MPAC officials (and, for that matter, officials of other U.S.-based Islamist groups,) have made that claim, it is impossible to include them all here. But here are several instances that easily serve to make the point:

· Aslam Abdullah, MPAC Vice Chairman and Editor of the MPAC-linked magazine, the Minaret, in a 2002 online forum entitled, “The Truth behind America’s War on Terrorism,” wrote, “[t]here are three specific lobbies that are turning the ongoing war on terrorism against Islam. The Christian Evangelicals who want to see Muslims converted, the political Zionists who want to see Muslim [sic] politically obliterated, and the Hindu Extremists who want to see Muslim [sic] humiliated…Mr. Bush and his administration have not been able to challenge these lobbies. Many members of these lobbies are in the administration and in FBI, law enforcement and even Congress.”[1] (emphasis added)

· MPAC “hate crime prevention coordinator” in May 2004, speaking to the Inter Press Service article reported, “The war on terror is a war, really, on a community that is being connected to the (9/11) hijackers.”[2]

· In a January 2002 article in the Minaret, stated that, “[s]ince the Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, the U.S. government has pursued a policy where it has targeted Islamic, Arab and Palestinian organizations and individuals, in a manner that often lacks legal legitimacy.”[3]

· And al-Marayati, in the Los Angeles Times in March 2003, blasted “the FBI’s policy of targeting people because of their race and religion.” He added, “That’s what they’ve been doing since the attacks, and we don’t know of any case that has resulted in the arrest, indictment or prosecution of a terrorist.”[4]

A recent study conducted by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has concluded that the repeated use of “War on Islam” mantra is directly related to the radicalization of the “homegrown” jihadists.[5]

Al-Marayati also infamously told an L.A. radio station after 9/11, “[i]f we’re going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list,” engaging in the very kind of conspiracy theories heard in the most radical quarters around the globe. Additionally, MPAC officials have defended Hezbollah, blasted the U.S. government for actions taken to stop the funding of Hamas by U.S. front organizations, and repeatedly defended convicted Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Sami al-Arian, downplaying his jihadist exhortations and claiming that his prosecution was merely “political.”

As a well-known analyst of militant Islamist groups in the United States, I have been a target of a vicious smear campaign by organizations which are afraid of having the bright light of day shone on their words and deeds. For example, in December 2004, MPAC, published a “policy” paper titled “Counterproductive Counterterrorism,” in which more than 20 of the 48 pages were at their core a personal hit piece against me. And after failing to de-legitimize me through character assassination, MPAC is now threatening to silence me using the court system.

Legal action has become a mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics. In September 2005, journalist Robert King, writing in the Indianapolis Star, outlined the strategy[6]:

Sayyid Syeed, the secretary general of ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), a group generally less vocal than CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), earlier in the weekend said his organization is considering filing defamation lawsuits against some of its sharpest critics.

King goes on to write that one of the potential targets frequently cited by America’s Muslim leaders is yours truly. And why is that? Because I have spent more than a decade exposing radical Islamists in the United States, many of whom are functioning in leadership capacities in these very groups in question. CAIR by the way, as King noted, has repeatedly taken to the courts, fortunately with very little success, to stifle criticism. Thankfully, the First Amendment protections granted by the U.S. Constitution do not favor this latest tactic employed by the Islamist groups.

MPAC cannot stand to have its agenda exposed, especially when it comes in the form of having its own words, and the words of its officials, used against them. In their minds, any such efforts need to be stifled. MPAC’s smear tactics have not worked, and as such, their lawyers have now stated that “MPAC is willing to pursue all available legal remedies” to silence me. MPAC’s bullying attempt to stifle free speech will not stand. Such tactics should be vigorously opposed, and MPAC, like CAIR before it, must learn that legal threats will not work to stifle legitimate criticism, especially when the facts underlying the criticism are both well documented, and as is often the case, straight out of the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

Notes:

[1] Aslam Abdullah, “The Truth Behind America’s War on Terrorism,” November 30, 2002, http://www.islamonline.net/livedialogue/english/Browse.asp?hGuestID=Og1n6h.

[2] Amantha Perera, “US Muslims Fear Second Term for Patriot Act,” Inter Press Service, May 7, 2004.

[3] “Relief Groups Shut Down,” The Minaret, January 2002.

[4] H.G. Reza, “FBI Has a Pledge and a Request for Muslims,” The Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2003.

[5] Stewart Bell, “Jihadization of youth a ‘rapid process’; CSIS: Study Of Extremism,” National Post, January 26, 2007. http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/news/story.html?id=25e76872-b309-47a7-841b-938bdd9ffd71

[6] Robert King, “Muslims aim to challenge critics in America; Convention seminar focuses on best ways for followers to respond when their faith is attacked,” Indianapolis Star, September 5, 2005, http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/RobertKing50905.htm

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