Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Does Islam Determine What Is ‘Islamic’?

What relationship does the Islamic State, ISIS, have to Islam? Almost every Western politician answers: “Absolutely nothing.” President Obama adamantly stated in a televised address that the Islamic State “is not Islamic.”
So how does one determine what is, and is not, Islamic? The traditional process — the Islamic answer — is as follows:
What do the core texts and scriptures of Islam say about the thing in question? Does the Koran, believed by Muslims to contain the literal commands of Allah, call for or justify it? Do the hadith and sira texts — which purport to record the sayings and deeds of Allah’s prophet, whom the Koran (e.g., 33:21) exhorts Muslims to emulate in all ways — call for or justify it?
If any ambiguity still remains, the next inquiry is: what is the consensus (ijma‘) of the Islamic world’s leading authorities concerning it? Here, one most often turns to the tafsirs, or exegeses of Islam’s most learned men — the ulema – and considers their conclusions.
Muhammad himself reportedly said that “my umma [Islamic nation] will never be in agreement over an error.”
For example, the Koran commands believers to uphold prayers; accordingly, all are agreed that Muslims need to pray. But the Koran does not specify how many times. In the hadith and sira, however, Muhammad makes clear that believers should pray five times. And the ulema, having considered all these texts, are agreed that Muslims are to pray five times a day.
Thus, it is most certainly Islamic for Muslims to pray five times a day.
But while both Western politicians and Islamic apologists readily accept such methodology to determining what is Islamic — prayer is in the Koran, Muhammad clarified its implementation in the hadith, and the ulema are agreed to it — whenever the question deals with anything that makes Islam “look bad,” to Western sensibilities, then the aforementioned standard approach to ascertaining what is Islamic is wholly ignored.
Let us consider some of the most extreme acts committed by the Islamic State — beheadings, crucifixions, enslavements, sexual predations, massacres, and the persecution of religious minorities — and put them to the test. Let us see if they fill the same criteria for being Islamic, especially in the context of jihad, which has its own set of rules.
The Islamic State beheads “infidels” — including women and children. This aspect of the Islamic State has provoked horror around the world. Is it Islamic?
The Koran calls for the beheading of Islam’s enemies, especially in the context of war, or jihad:
“When you encounter infidels on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely” (47:4). Another verse states: “I will cast terror into the hearts of infidels — so strike off their heads and strike off all of their fingertips [i.e., mutilate them](8:12).
As for the other criteria — the example of the prophet, and the consensus of the umma – Timothy Furnish, author of the 2005 essay “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” writes:
The practice of beheading non-Muslim captives extends back to the Prophet himself. Ibn Ishaq (d. 768 C.E.), the earliest biographer of Muhammad, is recorded as saying that the Prophet ordered the execution by decapitation of 700 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe in Medina for allegedly plotting against him. Islamic leaders from Muhammad’s time until today have followed his model. Examples of decapitation, of both the living and the dead, in Islamic history are myriad.
For centuries, leading Islamic scholars have interpreted this verse [decapitation verse, 47:4] literally.
Many recent interpretations remain consistent with those of a millennium ago.
The Islamic State has been crucifying regularly; the mainstream media claims that even al-Qaeda is “shocked” by such behavior. Koran 5:33 asserts:
The penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.
Accordingly, crucifixions are common throughout Islamic history. After Islam’s prophet died in 632, many Arabs were accused of apostasy. The first caliph, Abu Bakr, launched a jihad campaign on them and many “apostates” were crucified as an example to the rest. In Witnesses For Christ: Orthodox Christian Neomartyrs of the Ottoman Period 1437-1860, crucifixion is listed as one of the many forms by which thousands of Christians were executed by the Muslim Turks.
More dramatically, in her memoir Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian described seeing — in the early twentieth century in the city of Malatia — 16 girls crucified, vultures eating their corpses:
Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands. … Only their hair blown by the wind covered their bodies.
Recently, people (including children) have been crucified by self-proclaimed jihadis in the name of Islam in countries as diverse as the Ivory Coast and Yemen.
Slavery and Rape
What of slavery, especially the enslavement of non-Muslim women for sexual purposes which the Islamic State has been engaged in?
From the highest scriptural authority in Islam — the Koran — to the greatest role model for Muslims — prophet Muhammad; from Islamic history to current events, the sexual enslavement of “infidel” women is a canonical aspect of Islamic civilization. Koran 4:3 permits men to have sex with “what your right hands possess,” a term categorically defined by the ulema as “infidel” women captured during the jihad.
The prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad. One captured Jewish woman, Safiya bint Huyay, was “married” to Muhammad right after her father, husband, and brothers were slaughtered by Muslims during a raid. Muhammad took her from among the spoils after hearing about the young woman’s beauty. Unsurprisingly, she later confessed: “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most — for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father,” right before “marrying” (or less euphemistically, raping) her.
Khalid bin Walid — the “Sword of Allah” and hero for all aspiring jihadis — raped another woman renowned for her beauty, Layla, on the battlefield, right after he severed her “apostate” husband’s head, lit it on fire, and cooked his dinner on it.
What of wide-scale massacres? In this video, the Islamic State appears to be herding, humiliating, and marching off hundreds of male hostages (the number often given is 1,400) to their trenches, where Islamic State members proceed to shoot them in the head — all while the black flag of Islam waves.
The prophet himself ordered merciless massacres of “infidels.” After the battle of Badr, where Muhammad and the first Muslims prevailed over their enemies, Muhammad ordered the execution of a number of hostages. When one of the hostages, ‘Uqba, implored Muhammad to spare him by asking: “But who will look after my children, O Muhammad?”, the prophet responded: “Hell.”
More famously, Muhammad ordered the execution of approximately 700 Jewish men from the Banu Qurayza tribe. According to the sira account, after the Jewish tribe surrendered to his siege, Muhammad had all the men marched off to where ditches were dug and promptly executed by beheading — just like the Islamic State marched off and executed its victims near trenches in the video.
The Islamic State is even responsible for resurrecting a distinctly Islamic institution that was banned in the 19th century thanks to the intervention of colonial powers: “dhimmitude.” Establishing dhimmitude is the practice of exacting tribute (jizya) from conquered Christians and Jews and subjecting them to live as third-class citizens. They must embrace a host of debilitating and humiliating measures: no building or repairing churches, no ringing church bells or worshiping loudly, no displaying crosses, no burying their dead near Muslims, etc.
These measures are also derived from the core texts of Islam. Koran 9:29 calls on Muslims to fight the “People of the Book” (interpreted as Christians and Jews) “until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” And the Conditions of Omar — named after one of the “righteous caliphs” — explains how they are to “feel themselves subdued,” which is exactly what the Islamic State decreed.
Past and present ulema are confirmed that Koran 9:29 and the Conditions of Omar mean what they plainly say. Thus, according to Saudi Sheikh Marzouk Salem al-Ghamdi, speaking during a Friday mosque sermon:
If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet — there is nothing wrong with it provided they pay Jizya to the Islamic treasury. Other conditions [reference to Conditions of Omar] are … that they do not renovate a church or a monastery, do not rebuild ones that were destroyed … that they rise when a Muslim wishes to sit … do not show the cross, do not ring church bells, do not raise their voices during prayer … If they violate these conditions, they have no protection.
It is false to say, as President Obama does, that the Islamic State “is not Islamic.” Indeed, even in the most savage of details — including triumphing over the mutilated corpses of “infidels” and laughing while posing with their decapitated heads — the Islamic State finds support in the Koran and stories of the prophet.
It is dishonest to accept the methodology of Islamic jurisprudence — is “X” part of the Koran, hadith, sira, and does it have consensus among the ulema? – only to reject this same methodology whenever “X” makes Islam look “bad.” In the context of jihad, all that the Islamic State is doing — beheadings, crucifixions, massacres, enslavements, and subjugation of religious minorities — is Islamic.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

You Can’t Reform Islam Without Reforming Muslims

By Daniel Greenfield

Every few years the debate over reforming Islam bubbles up from the depths of a culture that largely censors any suggestion that Islam needs reforming.

But Islam does not exist apart from Muslims. It is not an abstract entity that can be changed without changing its followers. And if Islam has not changed, that is because Muslims do not want it to.

Mohammed and key figures in Islam provided a template, but that template would not endure if it did not fit the worldview of its worshipers. Western religions underwent a process of secularization to align with what many saw as modernity leading to a split between traditionalists and secularists.

The proponents of modernizing Islam assume that it didn’t make the jump because of Saudi money, fundamentalist violence and regional backwardness. These allegations are true, but also incomplete.

If modernizing Islam really appealed to Muslims, it would have taken off, at least in the West, despite Saudi money and Muslim Brotherhood front groups. These elements might have slowed things down, but a political or religious idea that is genuinely compelling is like a rock rolling down a hill.

It’s enormously difficult to stop.

Muslim modernization in the West has been covertly undermined by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, but for the most part it has not been violently suppressed.

It suffers above all else from a lack of Muslim interest.

Muslims don’t spend much time fuming over a progressive mosque that allows gay members or lets women lead prayers. Such places occasionally exist and remain obscure. They don’t have to be forcibly shut down because they never actually take off. The occasional death threat and arson might take place and the average ISIS recruit would happily slaughter everyone inside, but even he has bigger fish to fry.

The best evidence that Muslim modernization has failed is that even the angriest Muslims don’t take it very seriously as a threat. The sorts of people who believe that Saddam Hussein was a CIA agent or that Israel is using eagles as spies have trouble believing modernizing Islam will ever be much of a problem.

They know instinctively that it will never work. Instead Muslims are far more threatened by a cartoon mocking their prophet for reasons that go to the heart of what is wrong with their religion.

Islam is not an idea. It is a tribe.

Talking about reforming the words of Islam is an abstraction. Islam did not begin with a book. It began with clan and sword. Even in the modern skyscraper cities of the West, it remains a religion of the clan and the sword.

The left has misread Islamic terrorism as a response to oppression when it is actually a power base. It is not the poor and downtrodden who are most attracted to the Jihad. Instead it is the upper classes. Bin Laden wasn’t a pauper and neither are the Saudis or Qataris. Islamic terrorism isn’t a game for the poor. It becomes the thing to do when you’re rich enough to envy the neighbors. It’s a tribal war.

To reform Islam, we can’t just look at what is wrong with the Koran or the Hadiths. We have to ask why these tribal calls for violence and genocide, for oppression and enslavement, appealed to Muslims then and why they continue to appeal to Muslims today.

The modernizers assume that Western Muslims would welcome a reformation of Islam. They are half right. The reformation that they are welcoming is that of the Wahhabis trying to return it to what it was. It’s hard to deny that ISIS touches something deep within Muslims. The gay-friendly mosques don’t.

Understanding Islam only in terms of the Koran makes it seem as if Muslims are unwillingly trapped by a tyranny of the text, when the text is actually their means of trapping others into affirming their identity.

There is no reforming Islam without reforming Muslims. The reformers assume that most Muslims are ignorant of their own beliefs, but even the most illiterate Muslim in a village without running water has a good grasp of the big overall ideas. He may hardly be able to quote a Koranic verse without stumbling over it, he may have added local customs into the mix, but he identifies with it on a visceral level.

Its honor is his honor. Its future is the future of his family. Its members are his kinfolk. Like him, it ought to have been on top; instead it’s on the bottom. Its grievances are his grievances.

The rest is just details.

The progressive diverse mosque is the opposite of this tribal mentality. It is the opposite of Islam. Its destruction of the tribe is also the destruction of the individual. The Western Muslim who already has only a shaky connection to the culture of his ancestral country is not about to trade Islamic tribalism for anonymous diversity. Islam tells him he is superior. The progressive mosque tells him nothing.

Whether he is a Bangladeshi peasant watching soccer matches on the village television or a Bangladeshi doctor in London, it is the violent, racist and misogynistic parts of Islam that provide him with a sense of worth in a big confusing world.

That is how Islam was born.

Islam began in uncertain times as empires were tottering and the old ways were being displaced by strange religions such as Judaism and Christianity, when its originators mashed bits of them together and then founded their own crazy wobbly murderous empire built around a badly plagiarized religion.

It was horrible and terrible for everyone who wasn’t a Muslim man, but it worked.

Islam is less of a faith and more of a set of honor and shame responses. It’s a cycle of oppression and victimhood. It’s the assertion of identity by people who see themselves as inferior and are determined to push back by making themselves superior. The responses are familiar. We saw it in Nazi Germany as the defeated nation became a master race by killing and enslaving everyone else.

But it’s not those at the bottom most driven by such dreams. It’s the desert billionaires who have money, but no culture. It’s the Western Muslim doctor who still feels inferior despite his wealth. It’s a merchant named Mohammed with a lot of grudges who claims an angel told him to kill all his enemies in Allah’s name.

It’s Islam. And it’s Muslims.

The things that we believe, bad or good, reflect the bad or good inside us. When Muslims support killing people, it’s simplistic to assume that they are robotically following a text and will follow any other text slipped in front of their faces, instead of their passions and values. Religions may make people kill, but it starts when people make religions kill.

The good devout Muslim may kill because the Koran tells him to, but he would not do so if the Koran’s justifications of violence did not speak to him on a deeper level. The Nazis were following orders, but they wouldn’t have followed them if Nazism didn’t connect with their fears, hopes and dreams.

The text is only half the problem. The other half is in the human heart.

Reforming Islam is not a matter of crossing out certain words and adding others. Religions carry a powerful set of values that appeal to people on a deep level. To change Islam, we would have to understand why its ugliness still speaks to Muslims. To change it, we have to change them.

When we talk about reforming Islam, what we are really talking about is reforming Muslims.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Muslim Leaders Sign Letter Against ISIS, But Endorse Sharia

By Ryan Mauro

A published letter to the Islamic State (ISIS) signed by 126 international Muslim leaders and scholars, including top American leaders, is getting major press for rebutting the theological arguments behind the actions of Islamic State. Unfortunately, the same letter endorsed the goal of the Islamic State of rebuilding the caliphate and sharia governance, including its brutal hudud punishments.

Point 16 of the letter states, “Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qu’ran and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law.” The criticism of the Islamic State by the scholars is that the terrorist group is not “following the correct procedures that ensure justice and mercy.”

The Muslim “moderates” who signed the letter not only endorsed the combination of mosque and state; they endorsed the most brutal features of sharia governance as seen in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

An example of a hudud punishment is the death penalty for apostates (Muslims who leave Islam). The letter does not dispute or oppose that. It says that labeling Muslims as apostates is only permissible when an individual “openly declares disbelief.”

The signatories are not condemning the execution of apostates, only how the Islamic State is deciding who qualifies as an apostate.

Point 7 states that Islam forbids the killing of diplomats, journalists and aid workers, but it comes with a very important exception.

“Journalists—if they are honest and of course are not spies—are emissaries of truth, because their job is to expose the truth to people in general,” it reads.

This is actually an endorsement of targeting journalists that Muslims feel are unfair. Islamists, including Islamic State supporters, often claim that the journalists they kill are propagandists and/or spies, meeting the letter’s standards.

Point 22 of the letter states, “There is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah. The Ummah has lacked a caliphate since 1924 CE. However, a new caliphate requires consensus from Muslims and not just from those in a small corner of the world.”

A caliphate is a pan-Islamic government based on sharia; virtually all Islamic scholars agree that this objective requires the elimination of Israel. It is also fundamentally (and by definition) expansionist.

Again, the “moderate” signatories endorse the principles of the Islamic State and other jihadists but criticize their implementation.

Point 5 states, “What is meant by ‘practical jurisprudence’ is the process of applying Shari’ah rulings and dealing with them according to the realities and circumstances that people are living under.”

It continues, “Practical jurisprudence [fiqh al-waq’i] considers the texts that are applicable to peoples realities at a particular time, and the obligations that can be postponed until they are able to be met or delayed based on their capabilities.”

This is an endorsement of the Islamist doctrine of "gradualism." This is an incremental strategy for establishing sharia governance, supporting jihad and advancing the Islamist cause.

The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), whose leader is a signatory of the letter, preaches this concept in its own publications. An ICNA teaching guide published by the Clarion Project preaches gradualism as its strategy for implementing sharia governance and resurrecting the caliphate.

ICNA’s manual directs Muslims to use deception and infiltrate the government. The gradualist strategy is part of a jihad that includes war with the ultimate goal of conquering the world.

A weakness in the letter is the vague terminology that gives room for terrorist groups like Hamas to justify their violence.

For example, point 8 states that “Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.”

The letter goes into detail about these qualifications in order to condemn the tactics of the Islamic State, but the terms of a “defensive war” are not spelled out. All Islamist terrorists consider their attacks “defensive.”

Muslim-American activist Michael Ghouse pointed out the need for clarification in a conversation with me about the letter. He said:

“Define the right cause. Is fighting against India in Kashmir a jihad? Was the war between Iraq and Iran two decades ago a jihad? This group needs to continue to update these situations to let the common Muslim know what is right and what is wrong, lest he commits himself to the jihad.

Islamists regularly redefine words like “clear disbelief,” “democracy,” “justice,” “peace” and “terrorism” on their own terms. The use of subjective language like “innocents,” “mistreat,” “defensive” and “rights” leave much room for interpretation.

This is what enabled a terrorism-supporting cleric named Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah to sign the letter. He is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for attacks on U.S. soldiers in Iraq, supports Hamas and seeks the destruction of Israel.

The Islamist leaders behind the anti-Islamic State letter are still endorsing Islamic sharia law, which is oppressive and incompatible with Western values. The implementation of sharia is what drives all Islamic extremism.

The letter also utilizes Islamist thinkers that formed the intellectual foundation for today’s extremism. For example, it cites Ibn Taymiyyah. Terrorism expert Atto Barkindo writes, “Some scholars suggest there is probably no other Islamic theologian, medieval or otherwise, who has had as much influence on radical political ideology of Islam as Ibn Taymiyya.” This includes the leaders of Al Qaeda.

Ghouse told the Clarion Project that shari,a as encoded by such scholars, needs revising. “Classical texts that are referred to in the list are part of the problems,” Ghouse said. “We need to make a commitment to question and revise the exegeses of the Ulemas [scholars] like Ibn-Kathir, Ibn Taymiyyah, Maududi, Hassna al-Banna and others. We cannot equate them to Quran and Hadith.”

The letter does make a much-needed rebuttal to the murdering of diplomats, noncombatants, labeling of Yazidis as apostates, attacks on Christians, forced conversions and torture. It states that Arab Christians are exceptions to the “rulings of jihad” because of “ancient agreements that are around 1400 years old.”

The letter also does tries to persuade Muslims to reject the Islamic State because of its tactics and procedures; however, it reinforces the Islamist basis of those actions.

Far from proving that the Muslim-American signatories are “moderate,” the letter actually exposes them as Islamist extremists because of their endorsements of sharia governance, its brutal hudud punishments and the resurrection of the caliphate.

These 18 leaders include:

Islam is a Religion of Peace and a Religion of Decapitations

By John Hawkins

Yesterday at Vaughan Foods a former employee decapitated one person and was stabbing another before he was shot by the company C.O.O. who may have stopped a massacre. The very last line of the article reads, "The FBI is 'probing whether (the killer's) recent conversion to Islam had anything to do with the attack.'"

The first reaction most people probably secretly have to that is, "Of course it did! Muslims and beheading go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly, don't they?" Incidentally, that was also probably their second reaction, because beheadings are just something that seem to happen with surprising frequency in areas teeming with Muslims. Violence and terrorism also go hand-in-hand with Islam and if you can't figure that out from watching the news, you could learn it from reading a history book.

Moreover today, there are Muslims all over the world committing acts of terrorism along with raping, murdering, and enslaving their fellow human beings specifically for religious reasons. These aren't bad people doing bad things who happen to be Muslims; these are bad people doing bad things BECAUSE they are Muslims. Just ask them; they'll tell you.

Every religion has people who do repellent things in the name of God, but there are big differences in the degree of their offenses, their numbers, and how they're treated. Just to give you a couple of examples, the Westboro Baptist Church claims to be picketing funerals in the name of God. There have also been a handful of people who have killed abortion doctors because of their Christian beliefs. Is this the equivalent to what's going on with Islam? No, not even close. For one thing, these loons don't even represent 10,000th of a percent of Christians and for another, they're almost universally, harshly, publicly condemned by other Christians.

On the other hand, a significant number of Muslims support Sharia Law, forced conversions, slavery, rape, terrorism and religiously-inspired violence and murder. When pollsters haven't been too cowed by political correctness to ask, these backward attitudes have been borne out in poll numbers again and again. Just to give you one example, here are some numbers from the 2013 Pew Poll of the Muslim world.

* A majority of Muslims in several countries also support the death penalty for Muslims who convert away from Islam, including in Afghanistan (79 percent), Egypt (88 percent), Pakistan (75 percent), the Palestinian territories (62 percent), Jordan (83 percent) and Malaysia (58 percent).

* In contrast, in every other Arab country surveyed — Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia — a majority of Muslims indicated they supported Shariah. Muslim majorities in these Arab countries, with the exception of Tunisia, also indicated they either supported stoning adulterers or killing apostates, or both.

* Forty percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories and 39 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan said attacking civilian targets to defend Islam is often or sometimes justified. Further, 18 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories said such actions are “often” justified.

* When a female commits the “offense” of pre-marital or extramarital sex, only 34 percent of Muslims in Jordan, 22 percent of Muslims in Iraq, 31 percent of Muslims in Egypt, 44 percent of Muslims in the Palestinian territories, 45 percent of Muslims in Lebanon and 24 percent of Muslims in Afghanistan said they think the girl’s family is ever justified to kill her to protect the family’s honor.

But, you may say, “Well, those are Muslims OVER THERE. Certainly, Muslims in Western countries wouldn’t hold those kind of radical beliefs.”

Don’t bet on that.

* A new, widely-covered poll shows that a full 16% of French people have positive attitudes toward ISIS. That includes 27% of French between the ages of 18-24

* In 2006, a poll for the Sunday Telegraph found that 40% of British Muslims wanted shariah law in the United Kingdom, and that 20% backed the 7/7 bombers.

* 19 percent of American Muslims as of 2011 said they were either favorable toward Al Qaeda or didn’t know.

Wherever there are Muslims in large numbers, there are usually going to be a significant number of them who believe Islam requires them to be violent, backward savages. Some of them may act on it while others just provide moral support, but they’re definitely going to be present. That’s not a statement of opinion; it’s a statement of fact backed up by history, experience, and poll numbers.

This is why people laugh when politicians like Barack Obama and, yes, Republicans like George W. Bush, call Islam a “religion of peace. “

That being said, many Muslims don’t believe Islam requires them to be violent, mistreat women, hate Christians or generally behave like one of Genghis Khan's horde – and it’s a huge mistake to forget that. It’s an even worse mistake for Westerners to tell Muslims that if they understood their own religion, they’d want to murder us, which is something some misguided people have been doing over the last few years.

Most Muslims here in the United States, across the Western world and even in more moderate Islamic countries don’t support ISIS or Al-Qaeda. They don’t want Sharia law. They’re not okay with honor killings, rape, slavery, burkas, female circumcision, forced conversion or beheadings.

It’s wrong to write those people off as enemies or worse yet, to lump them in as part of Team ISIS or Team Al-Qaeda.

If anything, we need to encourage genuinely moderate Muslims and understand the difficulties they have to face. The ISIS-sympathizing fanatic who thinks he should be able to rape Christian women and who forces his wife to wear a burka isn’t “somewhere out there” to them; he’s sitting in the back row of their mosque on Sunday. Their wives say “Hello” in the grocery store. Their children see his weird, troublemaking kids on the playground. Isn’t life hard enough already without having to worry that potentially dangerous Muhammad McMurder views them as a cancer, undermining the coming worldwide Islamic Caliphate from within? That’s a strong incentive to stay quiet.

So, when these Muslims do speak up, we need to encourage them.

Personally, I’m glad to hear that Muslims against ISIS’ gathered in Michigan to pray for James Foley. Good for the Muslim leaders In Alabama who defied stereotypes with a strong message to ISIS over the murder of Steven Sotloff. I applaud the Muslims in Britain who started a #notinmyname campaign against ISIS.

It’s a mistake to believe that Muslims are all bad people. In fact, most of them, particularly in the United States, are decent, patriotic citizens chasing the American dream just like everyone else. When decent people act like you’d want and expect decent people to behave, you can’t just always write it off as Taqiya and assume that it’s a trick.

Ironically, that’s also part of the reason why we shouldn’t keep making the mistake of referring to Islam as a “religion of peace.”

When we blanket over the fact that there are significant differences of opinion within Islam, it keeps us from being specific enough about the problem. If you’re for ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Sharia, terrorism, genocide against Israel, murder, honor killings, forced conversions, violence against apostates or rape, you’re not for “peace,” you’re not a “good guy,” and you’re certainly not a “moderate.” We can’t empower real “moderates” in Islam if we’re not willing to draw a line in the sand about what’s acceptable behavior and what isn’t.

We also can’t empower real “moderates” if we make people cynical about their very existence by calling Islam a “religion of peace” despite the fact that we all know that there are hundreds of millions of radical Islamists across the world who believe in spreading their primitive version of Islam by force. Mindlessly repeating the phrase, “Islam is a religion of peace,” isn’t going to make it so. If Islam is ever going to effectively deal with radical jihadists from within, we’ve got to do our part by doing a better job of helping the moderates and ostracizing the radicals rather than painting them all with a one-size-fits-all brush.

How Obama’s Arab Spring Created the Islamic State

By Raymond Ibrahim

Over a decade ago, the U.S. conquered Iraq; its military and intelligence were on the ground for years with autonomy. In other words, U.S. influence and authority was more pronounced in Iraq than probably any other Muslim country in the world.

And yet it is in this one Muslim nation, where the U.S. had most authority, where U.S. blood and treasure were spent, that the absolute worst Islamic terrorist group—the Islamic State—was born.


Or is this too related to the great “Arab Spring” failures of the Obama administration?

Consider: Obama was repeatedly warned that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would lead to something exactly like the Islamic State—with all the atrocities that have become synonymous with that name.

Indeed, arguing against early troop withdrawal, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, once made the following now prophetic remarks:
To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States.

It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda.

It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.

It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.

It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
The point here is not to “side” with Bush—the idea of transporting “democracy” to an Islamic country was ill-conceived from the start—but rather to demonstrate that Obama was thoroughly warned what troop withdrawal would lead to: the Islamic State. The same U.S. military and intelligence sources that allowed Bush to make that prescient statement also shared their assessments with Obama.

Yet Obama withdrew anyway. In December 2011, Obama declared the Iraq war a success and pulled out American troops. And, to the eyes of most Americans, things were relatively quiet—until, of course, the world heard that a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering “caliphate” had “suddenly” arisen.

Was Iraq also part of the euphoria of the Obama-endorsed “Arab Spring”?

Recall that final troop withdrawal from Iraq occurred at the height of the Arab Spring when the Obama administration was simultaneously betraying key U.S. allies in the Islamic world such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

If the U.S. was not going to stand by its former “secular strongmen,” but instead was willing to hold hands with their traditional enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, why should it have supported Iraq’s Nouri Maliki?

After all, the narrative adopted by the Obama administration was that the Arab people were breaking the bonds of authoritarianism, and the U.S. administration was supporting their efforts, most notably by turning its back on longtime allies in the name of “democracy.”

And surely Maliki was seen as the greatest of all “U.S. puppets,” a divisive figure that stood in the way of the Sunni Spring?

Despite the narrative that Maliki was for complete troop withdrawal, “it’s well-established that behind closed doors, he [Maliki] was interested in a substantial U.S. presence.” Indeed, the New York Times reported that Joe Biden had said that “Maliki wants us to stick around because he does not see a future in Iraq otherwise.”

More specifically, in a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, Obama decried the presence of any American forces in Iraq (video here), adding that
You’ve got to be clear, both to our allies and our enemies, about where you stand and what you mean. Now, you [Romney] just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in Iraq. That is not a recipe for making sure that we are taking advantage of the opportunities and meeting the challenges of the Middle East.
What do Obama’s assertions mean?

Was Obama being “clear, both to our allies”—the Sunni Islamists whom he allied with during the Arab Spring—“and our enemies”—the Arab autocrats who stood in their way?

Was Obama showing both groups “where you [U.S. president] stand and what you mean”?

Was troop withdrawal Obama’s way of “taking advantage of the opportunities”—riding the Arab Spring wave—“and meeting the challenges of the Middle East”—winning Muslim hearts and minds by abandoning autocrats?

Here, then, is another perspective on the rise of the Sunni Islamic State in Iraq—one closely connected to the many other Arab Spring failures of the Obama administration.

ISIS’ Harsh Brand of Islam Is Rooted in Austere Saudi Creed

By David D. Kirkpatrick

Caliph Ibrahim, the leader of the Islamic State, appeared to come out of nowhere when he matter-of-factly proclaimed himself the ruler of all Muslims in the middle of an otherwise typical Ramadan sermon. Muslim scholars from the most moderate to the most militant all denounced him as a grandiose pretender, and the world gaped at his growing following and its vicious killings.

His ruthless creed, though, has clear roots in the 18th-century Arabian Peninsula. It was there that the Saud clan formed an alliance with the puritanical scholar Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab. And as they conquered the warring tribes of the desert, his austere interpretation of Islam became the foundation of the Saudi state.

Much to Saudi Arabia’s embarrassment, the same thought has now been revived by the caliph, better known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the foundation of the Islamic State.

“It is a kind of untamed Wahhabism,” said Bernard Haykel, a scholar at Princeton. “Wahhabism is the closest religious cognate.”

The Saudis and the rulers of other Persian Gulf states — all monarchies — are now united against the Islamic State, fearful that it might attack them from the outside or win followers within. Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have all participated with Washington in its attacks on the Islamic State’s strongholds in Syria.

For their guiding principles, the leaders of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, are open and clear about their almost exclusive commitment to the Wahhabi movement of Sunni Islam. The group circulates images of Wahhabi religious textbooks from Saudi Arabia in the schools it controls. Videos from the group’s territory have shown Wahhabi texts plastered on the sides of an official missionary van.

This approach is at odds with the more mainstream Islamist and jihadist thinking that forms the genealogy of Al Qaeda, and it has led to a fundamentally different view of violence. Al Qaeda grew out of a radical tradition that viewed Muslim states and societies as having fallen into sinful unbelief, and embraced violence as a tool to redeem them. But the Wahhabi tradition embraced the killing of those deemed unbelievers as essential to purifying the community of the faithful.

“Violence is part of their ideology,” Professor Haykel said. “For Al Qaeda, violence is a means to an ends; for ISIS, it is an end in itself.”

The distinction is playing out in a battle of fatwas. All of the most influential jihadist theorists are criticizing the Islamic State as deviant, calling its self-proclaimed caliphate null and void and, increasingly, slamming its leaders as bloodthirsty heretics for beheading journalists and aid workers.

The upstart polemicists of the Islamic State, however, counter that its critics and even the leaders of Al Qaeda are all bad Muslims who have gone soft on the West. Even the officials and fighters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas are deemed to be “unbelievers” who might deserve punishment with beheading for agreeing to a cease-fire with Israel, one Islamic State ideologue recently declared.

“The duty of a Muslim is to carry out all of God’s orders and rulings immediately on the spot, not softly and gradually,” the scholar, Al Turki Ben-Ali, 30, said in an online forum.

The Islamic State’s sensational propaganda and videos of beheadings appear to do double duty. In addition to threatening the West, its gory bravado draws applause online and elsewhere from sympathizers, which helps the group in the competition for new recruits.

That is especially important to the Islamic State because it requires a steady flow of recruits to feed its constant battles and heavy losses against multiple enemies — the governments of Iraq and Syria, Shiite and Kurdish fighters, rival Sunni militants and now the United States Air Force.

For Al Qaeda, meanwhile, disputes with the Islamic State are an opportunity “to reposition themselves as the more rational jihadists,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

The Islamic State’s founder, Mr. Baghdadi, grafted two elements onto his Wahhabi foundations borrowed from the broader, 20th-century Islamist movements that began with the Muslim Brotherhood and ultimately produced Al Qaeda. Where Wahhabi scholars preach obedience to earthly rulers, Mr. Baghdadi adopted the call to political action against foreign domination of the Arab world that has animated the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and other 20th-century Islamist movements.

Mr. Baghdadi also borrowed the idea of a restored caliphate. Where Wahhabism first flourished alongside the Ottoman Caliphate, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded shortly after that caliphate’s dissolution, in 1924 — an event seen across the world as a marker of Western ascent and Eastern decline. The movement’s founders took up the call for a revived caliphate as a goal of its broader anti-Western project.

These days, though, even Brotherhood members appear almost embarrassed by the term’s anachronism, emphasizing that they use caliphate as a kind of spiritual idea irrelevant to the modern world of nation-states.

“Even for Al Qaeda, the caliphate was something that was going to happen in the far distant future, before the end times,” said William McCants, a researcher on militant Islam at the Brookings Institution. The Islamic State “really moved up the timetable,” he said — to June 2014, in fact.

Adhering to Wahhabi literalism, the Islamic State disdains other Islamists who reason by analogy to adapt to changing context — including the Muslim Brotherhood; its controversial midcentury thinker Sayed Qutb; and the contemporary militants his writing later inspired, like Ayman al-Zawahri of Al Qaeda. Islamic State ideologues often deem anyone, even an Islamist, who supports an elected or secular government to be an unbeliever and subject to beheading.

“This is ‘you join us, or you are against us and we finish you,’ ” said Prof. Emad Shahin, who teaches Islam and politics at Georgetown University. “It is not Al Qaeda, but far to its right.”

Some experts note that Saudi clerics lagged long after other Muslim scholars in formally denouncing the Islamic State, and at one point even the king publicly urged them to speak out more clearly. “There is a certain mutedness in the Saudi religious establishment, which indicates it is not a slam dunk to condemn ISIS,” Professor Haykel said.

Finally, on Aug. 19, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, the Saudi grand mufti, declared that “the ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism do not belong to Islam in any way, but are the first enemy of Islam, and Muslims are their first victims, as seen in the crimes of the so-called Islamic State and Al Qaeda.”

Al Qaeda’s ideologues have been more vehement. All insist that the promised caliphate requires a broad consensus, on behalf of Muslim scholars if not all Muslims, and not merely one man’s proclamation after a military victory.

“Will this caliphate be a sanctuary for all the oppressed and a refuge for every Muslim" Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a senior jihadist scholar, recently asked in a statement on the Internet. “Or will this creation take a sword against all the Muslims who oppose it” and “nullify all the groups that do jihad in the name of God"

Another prominent Qaeda-linked jihadist scholar, Abu Qatada al-Falistini, echoed that: “They are merciless in dealing with other jihadists. How would they deal with the poor, the weak and other people"

Both scholars have recently been released from prison in Jordan, perhaps because the government wants to amplify their criticism of the Islamic State.

The Management of Savagery
Section 4: Using violence 

By Abu Bakr Naji

Those who study theoretical jihad, meaning they study only jihad as it is written on paper, will never grasp this point well. Regrettably, the youth in our Umma, since the time when they were stripped of weapons, no longer understand the nature of wars. One who previously engaged in jihad knows that it is naught but violence, crudeness, terrorism, frightening (others), and massacring — I am talking about jihad and fighting, not about Islam and one should not confuse them. (Moreover, he knows) that he cannot continue to fight and move from one stage to another unless the beginning stage contains a stage of massacring the enemy and making him homeless [or "frightened"]. However, there is often a need for this violence in the other stages. (Further), he cannot continue the jihad with softness, whether the softness is in the mode of inviting others to join (the jihad), taking up positions, or (undertaking) the operations, since the ingredient of softness is one of the ingredients of failure for any jihadi action. It is better for those who have the intention to begin a jihadi action and are also soft to sit in their homes. If not, failure will be their lot and they will suffer shock afterwards. Whoever wants to verify and understand what I mean, he should (read) biographies and histories and examine what happened to the modern jihadi movement. Regardless of whether we use harshness or softness, our enemies will not be merciful to us if they seize us. Thus, it behooves us to make them think one thousand times before attacking us.

Those who have not boldly entered wars during their lifetimes do not understand the role of violence and coarseness against the infidels in combat and media battles. The stage of domesticating the Muslims which they have already passed through has had an effect on them. The reality of this role must be understood by explaining it to the youth who want to fight. They are different from the Arabs at the beginning of the Prophet?’s mission. The Arabs used to fight and know the nature of wars.

If we are not violent in our jihad and if softness seizes us, that will be a major factor in the loss of the element of strength, which is one of the pillars of the Umma of the Message. The Umma which possesses strength is the Umma which is able to protect the positions it has won and it is the Umma which boldly faces horrors and has the firmness of mountains. These are the good qualities which we have lost in this age.

The books of history tell us about the differences between some of the reformist jihadi movements and the righteous among the seekers (of truth), such as the Pure Soul and others, and between the Abbasid movement. Among the differences and one of the reasons for the success of the Abbasids and the failure of the others is the Abbasids' violence and the others' softness and protection of the blood (of others). This was to such an extent that the Pure Soul even used to ask the leaders of his army — who might have won — to protect the blood (of others) as much as possible. The leaders of his army were surprised at the request of the ruler and his method. Of course, the Pure Soul and other peacemakers [or "reformists"] were right to a certain extent in advocating that, since they were fighting Muslims and the rules governing the killing of (Muslim) tyrants are conflicting. However, praise be to God, we are confronting the Crusaders and their helpers among the apostates and their army [i.e. the current enemies of the mujahids are not Muslim]. Thus, there is nothing preventing us from spilling their blood; rather, we see that this is one of the most important obligations since they do not repent, undertake prayer, and give alms. All religion belongs to God.

Thus, the Companions (may God be pleased with them) understood the matter of violence and they were the best of those who understood this after the prophets. Even the Friend (Abu Bakr) and Ali b. Abi Talib (may God be pleased with them) burned (people) with fire, even though it is odious, because they knew the effect of rough violence in times of need. They did not carry it out and the leaders (among the Companions) and their troops did not undertake it because they loved killing; they were certainly not coarse people. By God! How tender were their hearts! They were the most merciful of creation by nature after the Prophet (peace be upon him). However, (the Companions) understood the nature of unbelief and its people and the nature of a need, in every situation, for severity and tenderness. In this regard, that which the people of knowledge of related regarding the Ridda Wars will clarify (this point): "The people returned to their Jahiliyya state and disassociated themselves from the obligations of the Sharia.

Among them were those who abandoned (these obligations) completely. (Also) among them were those who rejected alms giving, claiming that it was only necessary to pay it to the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and that Abu Bakr had no right to it. Also among them were those who publicly declared that they would perform it themselves and not send it to Abu Bakr, the Friend. The people of weak faith thought that the blade of the sword of Islam was withdrawn after the death of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and they seized the opportunity to exit this religion. Thus, apostasy took hold of the Arabian Peninsula and nothing remained to Islam save Mecca, Ta'if, Jawathi in Bahrain, and Medina. Apostasy encompassed tribes, villages, and groups and the Companions of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) rightfully rose against it and they zealously repulsed it and kept it at bay and they raised the head of diligence and jihad against it. An unfamiliar coarseness was seen in Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) that had not been witnessed previously. This was to such an extent that when messengers came to him with bad news which terrified the men, he only instructed (them) to increase the war and the fire. Dirar b. al-Azwar said: "I saw no one other than the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him) who was more filled with the ruthlessness of war than Abu Bakr.

We once informed him of evil news about the apostasy and its magnitude and it was as if what we had told him did not bother him at all. His orders for the army dealt only with the matter of severing the neck without clemency or slowness. And he (may God be pleased him) even burned a man named Iyas b. `Abd Allah b. `Abd Yalil, nicknamed al-Faja?’a, when he cheated him by taking the money for the jihad against the apostates and then joined them, or more accurately became a brigand. The war spread across the whole peninsula and none of the Companions of the Messenger of God were concerned about it; rather, they were men of war and its people until the peninsula returned to the rule of Islam and its authority". We are now in circumstances resembling the circumstances after the death of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and the outbreak of apostasy or the like of that which the believers faced in the beginning of the jihad. Thus, we need to massacre (others) and (to take) actions like those that were undertaken against the Banu Qurayza and their like. But if God should give us power and we take control and justice spreads, how tender the people of faith will be at that time and they will say to the people: "Go, for you are free."

In addition to this, one should note that violence and coarseness must not transgress the limits of the Sharia and that one must pay heed to the benefit and harm (that results from) it, which the Sharia considers to be, in the rules of jihad, as one of the most important subjects for the guidance of creation, if not the most important subject. Pertaining to this, whenever there are reasonable people among the enemy who recognize the truth which every rational mind must assent to, we can lighten the severity of the violence against them. As for the haughty enemy and his troops and his supporters, that is another matter.

Among the things connected with the subject of violence is "the policy of paying the price": No harm comes to the Umma or to us without (the enemy) paying a price. Thus, in this stage of "the power of vexation and exhaustion," following the strategy of "paying the price" spreads hopelessness in the hearts of the enemy. Any preventative [lit. "aborting"] act of any kind against the groups of vexation should be met with a reaction which makes the enemy completely "pay the price" for his crime so that he will be deterred from doing its like again and think one thousand times before undertaking an attack against us, such that he stops even at the mere thought of committing a crime and his actions are limited to defending himself.

"Paying the price" must be accomplished even if it is after a long period, even if it is years. The enemy should be reminded of that in a statement justifying the operation of "paying the price," which will make a deep impression on the leaders of the enemy that there is no hostile action they can undertake against Islam and its people, or against the mujahids for which they, their supporters, or their most powerful institutions will not pay a price over a long or short period of time. On account of that, feelings of hopelessness will creep into the enemy and he will begin to think about leaving the arena on account of his hopelessness because of his love for the world in the face of generations of mujahids who will persist in the battle and not be agitated by upheavals, but rather motivated by them to respond. As for the stage of "the administration of savagery," we will confront the problem of the aerial attacks of the enemy ?– crusader or apostate ?– on military training camps or residential regions in areas which we administer. Even though defensive fortifications and trenches are put in place to deal with that problem, we should also follow the policy of "paying the price" when confronting the crime of the enemy. The policy of "paying the price" in this situation will deter the enemy and make him think one thousand times before attacking regions managed by a regime of the administration of savagery because he knows that he will pay the price (for doing so), even if (the retribution) comes later. Thus, the enemy will be inclined toward reconciliation, which will enable the regions of savagery to catch their breath and progress. This reconciliation means a temporary stop to fighting without any kind of treaties and concessions. We do not believe in an armistice with the apostate enemy, even if it was brokered with the primary infidel.

Here is an important point: It is best if those that undertake operations of "paying the price" are other groups in other regions against which no hostility has been directed. There are a number of benefits in this, which we will expand on in the section concerning "power" [shawka]. Among the most important benefits is making the enemy feel that he is surrounded and that his affairs are exposed. If the enemy undertakes a hostile action against a region in the Arabian Peninsula or in Iraq, then the response will occur in Morocco or Nigeria or Indonesia. This will cause embarrassment for the enemy, especially if the region in which the operation of "paying the price" occurred submits to the control of the regimes of unbelief or the regimes of apostasy. Thus, (the enemy) will not find a good arena in which to respond. Further, that operation will work to raise the morale of those who had received (the initial) hostility and communicate a practical message to Muslims in every place that we are one Umma and that assistance is not limited by borders.

In the preceding depiction, "paying the price" is not limited to the Crusader enemy. By way of example, if the apostate Egyptian regime undertakes an action to kill or capture a group of mujahids, the youth of jihad in Algeria or Morocco can direct a strike against the Egyptian embassy and issue a statement of justification, or they can kidnap Egyptian diplomats as hostages

Maher and Harris Educate Affleck about Islam

By Mark Tapson

I don’t usually stand with comedian Bill Maher, but last week on his Real Time program the provocateur once again was a voice of reason addressing the Islam Problem. His guests were atheist author Sam Harris, former RNC Chairman Michael Steele, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and actor/director Ben Affleck of the Oscar-winning Iranian hostage crisis flick Argo. As you might expect from such a lineup, the discussion swiftly degenerated into the usual stalemate between facts and politically correct defensiveness.

“Liberals need to stand up for liberal principles,” opened Maher, “freedom of speech, freedom to practice any religion you want without fear of violence, freedom to leave a religion, equality for women, equality for minorities, including homosexuals.” When this earned applause, he continued, “these are liberal principles that liberals applaud for, but then when you say in the Muslim world, this is what’s lacking, then they get upset.”

Sam Harris, an atheist who, like Maher, at least understands that not all religions are the same, replied,
Liberals have really failed on the topic of theocracy. They’ll criticize white theocracy, they’ll criticize Christians, they’ll still get upset over the abortion clinic bombings that happened in 1984… The crucial point of confusion is that we have been sold this meme of Islamophobia where every criticism of Islam is conflated with bigotry toward Muslims as people, and that is intellectually ridiculous.
This brought whoops of approval from the audience, and a highly agitated Affleck took the opportunity to jump in and challenge Harris on his credentials for discussing Islam. Of course, Affleck, who had nothing knowledgeable to say about the religion himself, immediately proved Harris’ point by calling his statement “gross” and “racist” – buying into the standard progressive misconception that Islam is somehow a race. Maintaining his composure, Harris responded, again to applause, that we have to be able to criticize ideas. This was a point with which Affleck hastened to agree – until Harris dropped some truth that “Islam is the mother lode of bad ideas.”

“Jesus,” a frustrated Affleck exclaimed. He practically came out of his chair a moment later exclaiming, “How about the more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just want to go to school, have some sandwiches, and don’t do any of the things you say all Muslims do?” This too brought applause, even though once again he was proving Harris’ point that criticizing Islam gets unfairly conflated with a broad-brush attack on all Muslims.

“All these billion people don’t hold these pernicious beliefs?” Maher asked. “That’s just not true, Ben.” When Harris “unpacked” the concept for an impatient Affleck, explaining about concentric circles of fundamentalism, Affleck shut down listening and simply interjected, “Let him [Kristof] talk.” Nicholas Kristof defended moderate Muslims who speak out, and Michael Steele raised the point that opposition Muslim voices don’t get media coverage, to which Maher, trying to bring the discussion back to the ideology of Islam, responded that a big reason Muslims don’t speak out is fear. “It’s the only religion that acts like the mafia,” Maher said. “They will f**king kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book. That’s why Ayaan Hirsi Ali needs bodyguards 24/7.”

Affleck, unable to restrain his righteous anger, suddenly gesticulated at Harris as he began to rant irrationally. “What is your solution, to just condemn Islam? We’ve killed more Muslims than they have us, by an awful lot, and yet somehow we’re exempted from things because they’re not reeeally a reflection of what we believe in…”

When he couldn’t be reined in from this tangent, Harris condescended, “Let me just give you what you want,” and proceeded to say that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t agree with ISIS and that reformers of Islam should be supported. That didn’t pacify Affleck or Kristof, who said that Harris’ point still smacked of “the way white racists talked about African-Americans and defined blacks” – proving yet againHarris’ point that criticizing Islamic ideology always raises the specter of Islamophobia.

When Affleck began another stupid rant, equating a factual discussion of Islam with racism against blacks, Maher cut him off. “It’s based on facts. I can show you a Pew poll of Egyptians – they are not outliers in the Muslim world – that say like 90% of them believe death is the appropriate response to leaving the religion. If 90% of Brazilians thought that death was the appropriate response to leaving Catholicism, you would think it was a bigger deal.”

“I would think it was a big deal no matter what,” Affleck lied, trying to sound fair and balanced. People like Affleck will defend the rights of jihadists all the way up until the blade severs their heads from their bodies, but think nothing of publicly smearing all Christians as theocratic bigots.

“I’m simply telling you,” Affleck told Harris, “I disagree with you.” Harris calmly countered correctly with, “You don’t understand my argument.”

That’s because Ben Affleck is typical of uninformed but holier-than-thou, media-empowered Hollywood actors, who substitute passion for thought and utopian ideals for reality, who reject facts for ad hominem slurs of racism, and who wear the blinders of moral equivalence because their false god is multiculturalism. Unfortunately, we can’t dismiss the influence of such smug, ignorant loudmouths on the smug, militantly ignorant sheep who constitute their audience.

“We’re obviously not convincing anybody,” Bill Maher conceded. Maybe, maybe not, but unlike nearly all of his cohorts in the media, at least Maher’s willing to try.

The Numbers against Islam

By R.J. Godlewski

I will not jump into the recent Bill Maher and Ben Affleck debate regarding Islam, other than to say that I am growing tired of the “not all Muslims are bad” disclaimer. Of course, only a fool would declare that all members of a particular group are evil. That said, perhaps we should discuss some numbers and see how they compare vis a vis the radicalized Muslim debate. For starters, let us begin with the base number of global Muslims.

According to the Website, there are roughly 1.5 billion Muslims (Shiite, Sunni, etc.) in the world.[1] If we take the almost routine declaration that “only” ten percent of all Muslims are radicalized, then we can argue that about 150,000,000 Muslims worldwide have become radicalized in some form. Now permit us to visit the last great global conflict: the Second World War (the presumption made that radical Islam represents a global movement). Japan, which dominated the Pacific region for most of the conflict, had approximately 9,100,000 people mobilized throughout the war, as did Italy.[2] Nazi Germany, which thrust Europe upon its heels, mobilized approximately 17,900,000 individuals.[3] The United States of America, which ultimately dominated both Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany (after soundly defeating Italy), mustered approximately 16,354,000 members of the armed forces. In contrast, the United Kingdom, the proverbial empire upon which the sun never set, only mobilized 5,896,000 personnel.[4]

If we take the total number of fascists – remembering that not everyone was “diabolically evil” – the total number of Japanese, Germans, and Italians fighting against liberal democracies comes in at approximately 36,100,000 soldiers if my math remains correct. To repeat the numbers fighting against everyone else during the 1940s, we would only need to radicalize 2.4% of the global Muslim population. Now, allow us to consider another figure, one fully supported by academic research.

During his famous Yale University studies of the 1960s, Dr. Stanley Milgram proved that sixty-five percent (65%) of the human population “could be readily manipulated into inflicting a (seemingly) lethal electrical charge on a total stranger” and that these “subjects sincerely believed they were causing great physical pain, but despite their victim’s pitiful pleas for them to stop, 65 percent continued to obey orders…until…there could be little doubt that their victim was dead.”[5] In other words, a simple researcher with a white lab coat and clipboard persuaded more than six out of ten people to torture unto death a completely innocent stranger.

If we return to our numbers, we can come to some startling considerations. If we take the 2.4% figure, we can say that 23,465,000 radicalized Muslims bear the capacity to kill us. If we take the oft-quoted figure of 10%, then we can assume that 97.5 million radicalized Muslims throughout the world are capable of killing us. That remains an extraordinary number, so let us retreat to the 2.4% figure (merely for sanity’s sake). If there were 1.5 billion tree huggers in the world, then we could fear that more than 23 million of them could also harm us. The same could be said for the 1.1 billion atheists, secularists, and other “non-religious” persons on the planet.[6] Yet, I do not see videos of atheists beheading people for not separating Church and State or environmentalists blowing themselves up to save water. On the other hand, there are (at a minimum) hundreds of millions of Muslims upset at the West for supporting the world’s comparatively paltry 14 million Jews.[7]

In the grander scheme of things, perhaps it is not the radical Islamists that represent the root problem. They remain very vocal about their intent to kill and maim the innocent. From Beirut to Africa to Bali and New York, London, and Madrid, they are not afraid to kill. Whether Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State, they are open about killing anyone who stands in their way. No, the real problem in the world rests with the silent Muslim ummah – the vast majority of adherents that remain on their hands when others are being blown up or beheaded.

Permit us now to shift to the conflict in Northern Ireland. At the height of its brutality, every Roman Catholic bishop in the circle condemned the IRA. The terrorist group was well aware of drawing the wrath of Catholic clergy.[8] Why, then, are decent Muslim adherents and imams deathly silent on the destruction conducted on their behalf? Are they afraid (or ignorant of) to admit that, in Islam, Muhammad was “both Caesar and Christ” – meaning that there was no room for dissidence.[9] Even the Jewish residents of Medina – imagine that, Jews living in Arabia – “no longer liked [his] warlike faith, which had once seemed so flatteringly kindred to their own.”[10] Again, perhaps the Muslims of the 21st century – and their non-Muslim supporters – are blind to the fact that beheadings, assassinations, and faith-spread-by-the-sword began with Muhammad himself.[11]

However one bothers to dissect the global Muslim community – mostly violent, mostly peaceful, or mostly “wishful thinkers” – the true numbers do not bode well for peace. One can only evaluate religion based upon the life and actions of the founder – not alleged followers. Those well versed in Islamic teachings (and reared within Muslim, Middle Eastern cultures) understand that “the mosque during the prophet Muhammad’s time was not just the place of worship…[but] also a place to store weapons and make military plans.”[12] The founder of Islam remained extremely violent in the propagation of his faith. More so than even the narco-traffickers affecting Latin America today.

That there are a great many peaceful Muslims in the world today says more about them and, perhaps, Christian/Western influence than it does about the actions of Muhammad himself. Without violence and the prospect of marrying multiple wives, there is very little to suggest that Islam could have flourished alongside the Jewish and Christian heritage that Muhammad borrowed heavily from. In fact, it seems that the only way that Islam can compete within the world today is through silencing the competition or rewriting history – aspects more in common with fascism and communism than democracy. Perhaps this is why the numbers will always favor freedom and responsibility.

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