The Real Islam
The Clear and Present Islamist Threat
In August of 2006, responding to news of thwarted Jihadi attacks against a dozen commercial flights from Great Britain to the United States, then-President George W. Bush did the unthinkable: He described the would-be killers in accurate terms. “The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation,” the President remarked.
Key words: “Islamic fascists,” or as we have framed them, global combatants forming a unified front called Jihadistan, the borderless nation of Islamic extremists that constitutes al-Qa'ida and other Muslim terrorist groups around the world. This enemy is exclusively Muslim, and it has a modus operandi and worldview consistent with other forms of fascism. Jihad terrorists are directly tied to worldwide Jihad by way of the Qur'an, the foundational fabric linking all Islamist violence.
Predictably, America’s Islamic lobby was quick to object to Bush’s comment. “We have to isolate these individuals because there is nothing in the Qur'an or the Islamic faith that encourages people to be cruel or to be vicious or to be criminal,” said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “Muslims worldwide know that for sure.”
In a recent article in Jurist, Ali Khan of the Washburn University School of Law echoed Awad. “It is becoming fashionable for elected officials in the Anglo-American world, notably in the United States and the United Kingdom, to employ abusive language involving Islam,” he wrote. “Phrases such as ‘Islamic terrorism,’ ‘totalitarian Islam,’ ‘crimes of Islam,’ and ‘Islamic fascism’ are freely used, with sadist disrespect, to condemn real and imagined terrorists who practice the faith of Islam.”
Is it possible, then, that by equating the doctrine and practice of Islam with the acts of a radicalized few, President Bush is blurring these lines?
Not according to Daniel Pipes, historian of Islam and director of the Middle East Forum. The President, he says, is “identifying not Islam the religion, but a radical form of Islam.” Indeed, how many times have we heard presidential speeches laced with language about the “religion of peace” and our commonality as “people of the book”? Such language allows Awad and Khan to take comfort in the knowledge that Islam is good, but that terrorism – which doesn’t in any way represent Islam – is bad.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s recent address to the U.S. Congress certainly reflected the President’s heretofore clear distinction between terrorism and Islam. In that speech, the prime minister spoke of the war in Iraq as “a battle between true Islam, for which a person’s liberty and rights constitute essential cornerstones, and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak; in reality, wages a war on Islam and Muslims and values, and spreads hatred between humanity. Wherever human kind suffers a loss at the hands of terrorists, it is a loss of all humanity.”
So, is our fight against “terrorism” or against a global Islamist threat? To wit, is Islam peaceful, or intrinsically fascist?
The answers couldn’t be clearer. Terrorism is not an enemy; it’s a tactic. Muslim examples aside, terrorist tactics have been adopted by groups as varied as Northern Ireland’s IRA, Colombia’s FARC, the Shining Path of Peru, West Germany’s Baader-Meinhof Gang, Italy’s Brigate Rosse, Spain’s Basque ETA, and our homegrown Symbionese Liberation Army. Mostly separatists and leftists, none of these groups viewed terrorism as an end in itself, but as a means to another, political end.
Unlike terrorism, Islam is an ideology bent on territorial expansion and political domination. These traits, along with iron-fisted socioeconomic controls, are the essential characteristics of fascism. When this expansion requires violence, Islam turns to jihad, and within the context of jihad, terrorism is an acceptable tactic. According to Pipes, “Islam is a political religion in a way that none other is. There are many elements within the religion and the history of Islam that suggest there is a dynamic of conquest.” Pipes continues, “There is something inherently expansionist about Islam. Jihad is expansionist warfare.”
Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, coined the term “Islamofascism,” and he compares it other forms of fascism: “Islamofascism similarly pursues its aims through the willful, arbitrary, and gratuitous disruption of global society, either by terrorist conspiracies or by violation of peace between states. Al-Qaeda has recourse to the former weapon; Hezbollah, in assaulting northern Israel, used the latter. These are not acts of protest, but calculated strategies for political advantage through undiluted violence.” Schwartz continues, “Fascism was totalitarian; i.e. it fostered a totalistic world view – a distinct social reality that separated its followers from normal society. Islamofascism parallels fascism by imposing a strict division between Muslims and alleged unbelievers.”
When we look to the deserts of the Middle East at the founding of Islam in the early 7th century, such a picture is clear. At that time, increased trade across western Arabia created unprecedented wealth, resulting in the rise of new urban centers that directly challenged traditional tribal structures and loyalties. These urban centers quickly came to represent a different set of interests from the tribal communities, and a period of internecine conflict and social upheaval ensued.
There are many excellent resources for understanding Islamic extremism and the rise of Islamic terrorism. But allow me to offer a brief overview of Islam and the schism that gave rise to global Islamic Jihad.
In 570 AD, Abū al-Qāsim Muhammad was born in Mecca (in modern-day Saudi Arabia). In the year 610, Muhammad went into the hills and claims to have received instruction from an angel to spend the next 22 years as the exclusive transcriber of Allah’s message, the Qur'an, which means “recitation.” Its 114 Surahs, or chapters, outline the religious, military, civil, social, commercial and legal systems of Islam. Most Muslims believe that Islam originated with the prophet Adam, and that Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Islamic prophets.
Mohammed offered an alternative: the oma, the community professing the exclusive divinity of Allah, the moon god of polytheistic Arabia, and Mohammed as Allah’s prophetic voice. In creating the oma, Mohammed and his followers forged an inextricable merger of politics and religion. To this day, there has never been a separation – a “Reformation” – in Islam. This is due to the very nature of the oma, which must not only be defended militarily, politically and economically – but also expanded. Mohammed’s efforts to reconstitute the basis of authority and organization in Arabia – from polytheism to a political monotheism, from cities and tribes to the oma – made Islam’s expansionism a certainty.
Allah, the moon god and supreme deity of the pre-Islamic Arab pantheon, served Mohammed’s expansionist cause well. Contrary to the claims of Islam, Mohammed did not introduce the idea of Allah to Arab peoples in the 7th century; a fact well established by such renown Islamic scholars as Columbia’s Arthur Jeffery, Harvard’s Henry Preserved Smith, Oxford’s Kenneth Cragg and the University of Edinburgh’s W. Montgomery Watt. This Allah was married to his feminine counterpart, the sun goddess Allat, and together they had three daughters, the goddesses Al-Lat, Al-Uzza and Manat. A host of less gods and sub-deities completed the Arabian pantheon. Today, it is no wonder that the crescent moon – the symbol of the moon god and his cult – adorns the flags of Muslim states, sits atop mosques and minarets, or that Muslims fast during the month beginning and ending with the appearance of the crescent moon (Ramadan). Indeed, the symbol of ancient Arabia’s moon god is the symbol of Islam itself.
The cult of the moon god was particularly strong in Mohammed’s tribe, as well as in the strategic religious and trade center of Mecca. Drawing on these traditional beliefs, along with their accompanying loyalties and acceptable practices among devotees of the moon god, Mohammed and his oma were able to mount a serious and sustainable challenge to the status quo of Arabian power.
After Muhammad’s death in 632, Islam split into two factions, Sunni and Shi'ite – a split originating from a dispute about whether the religion should be led by strict adherence to the Qur'an, or led by Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad. The Sunnis (from “Ahl al-Sunna,” meaning “people of the tradition”) bonded through Muslim orthodoxy. The Shias (from “Shiat Ali,” meaning “party of Ali”) were a political alliance formed around Muhammad’s descendant.
Despite the split, Islam thrived, and by the 17th century, a vast Muslim empire was controlled by a powerful military and was the cultural cradle of mathematics, architecture, art, law and science. But the rise of Western military power would divide and conquer the Muslim empire by the end of the 18th century, followed by European occupations of much of that former empire over the next century.
By the end of World War I, Islam’s Ottoman Empire was lost. Many Muslims adapted to Western culture, while some held to old Islamic traditions. But the re-constitution of the State of Israel in 1948 seeded a resurgence of Islamic fervor, a fervor that would unleash itself 30 years later under the watch of Jimmy Carter’s administration.
In 1979, the powerful and strategic state of Iran fell to the Islamic Revolution, and Shia cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to power. Student revolutionaries seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage, and that act galvanized both Shia and Sunni Islamist activists throughout the Middle East.
Today, Shia Muslims represent majorities only in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain.
But Islamic Jihad, including al-Qa'ida and subsequent terrorist groups, is rooted in Sunni orthodoxy. Sunnis represent about 85% of Muslims worldwide, including countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
The Suras of the Qur'an and the Hadith (Muhammad’s teachings) require jihad, or “holy war,” against all “the enemies of God.” For the record, orthodox Sunnis understand that these “infidels” include all Muslim or non-Muslim people who refute any teachings of Muhammad – which is why ISIL Sunnis are slaughtering Iraqi Shias.
It should be noted here that in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, particularly the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua, the Israelites are instructed to destroy entire cities, including women and children. But unlike the Qur'an, these acts were isolated exceptions rather than the rule. The New Testament of Jesus is devoid of any such commands, and in fact is built on the maxim of loving our neighbors as we would want to be loved, including loving our enemies. There are clearly examples of atrocities in the last 2,000 years that have been carried out in the name of the church not God – including the Catholic Crusades, the Inquisition and the Encomienda System of forced labor and conversion in Spanish America. But every Christian Historian, Theologian and Preacher brands those actions as aberrations and contrary to the faith.
On the other hand, few Muslim leaders worldwide, brand Islamic Jihad, which is undertaken in the name of Allah, as contrary to the faith.
Based on the Sunni Islamist history of violence, it is clear that Islam is not “the Religion of Peace,” though a significant percentage of Muslims worldwide, and in the U.S., do not subscribe to Islamist Jihad theology. But the number of Sunni Muslims who do support that totalitarian theology is staggering.
Like other forms of fascism, Islam’s expansionist impulse would involve violence, subjugation to the state, and conformity to the ideology of the system. As Mohammed writes in the Qur'an, “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection (Surah 009.029).” Further, Al Bukhari records Mohammed as saying: “I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’.”
If this is what Islam is all about – fascist expansionism and totalitarianism – where do moderate or liberal Muslims come from? In short, they come from the same place that liberal Christians and Jews come from. Confronted by the 18th century Enlightenment and its heir, modernism, all religious expressions have found themselves influenced by the ideas and ideals of secular humanism. As Muslims integrated with the West and the West came into increased contact with the Muslim East, Islam experienced the same synthesis. Consequently, liberal Christians, Muslims, Jews and atheists, all under the influence of modernism, confess the same essential creed: The intrinsic equality of human beings, a basic commitment to man’s reason, the supremacy of the individual, and man’s innate goodness in the state of nature. Thus, like liberal Christianity or Judaism, liberal Islam isn’t Islam at all; it’s an entirely different religion.
In the end, any realistic assessment of Islam must accept “fascism” as a term that is far more descriptive than pejorative. In his remarks on the hurtful nature of the term, Professor Khan said that if anyone is “using the label in this broad sense, and thus accusing Islam and not merely the militants, they should say so.” Well, we’re saying so.
Despite assertions that Islamic Jihad is disconnected from Islam, Hoover Institution Fellow Dennis Prager writes: “Killing ‘unbelievers’ has been part of – of course not all of – Islam since its inception. Within 10 years of Muhammad’s death Muslims had conquered and violently converted whole peoples from Iran to Egypt and from Yemen to Syria. Muslims have offered conquered people death or conversion since that time. … More than 600 years after Muhammad, Ibn Khaldun, the greatest Muslim writer who ever lived, explained why Islam is the superior religion in the most highly regarded Muslim work ever written, ‘Muqaddimah,’ or ‘Introduction to History’: ‘In the Muslim community, the holy war is religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.’”
According to the Pew Research Center, there are 2.75 million Muslims in the U.S. today. Notably, about 90% of Muslims in America are Sunni. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Nation of Islam have now established more than 2,200 mosques, some of which have become hotbeds of support for Sunni Islamist extremists. The ethnic group with the fastest growing conversion rate to Islam is Latino – 12 million of whom are now in the U.S. illegally, and who continue to pour across our southern border.
the most likely near-term form of attack against military and civilian personnel on our turf, will be similar to the conventional Islamist assaults in the Middle East – homicidal bombings or mass shootings. This type of attack is low tech but effective in terms of achieving instilling pubic fear with the long term goal of extorting policy change. However, a note of caution about the predictable “analysis” which will follow these attacks. Government and media analysts alike, will assert that there is “no known connection between the assailant and Islamist terrorist groups.” That assertion is patently false.
Recall that in 2009, after Nidal Malik Hasan, yelling “Allahu Akbar,” killed 13 people and wounded 30 others at Ft. Hood, The New York Times opined: “[It is] important to avoid drawing prejudicial conclusions from the fact that Major Hasan is an American Muslim whose parents came from the Middle East. President Obama was right when he told Americans, ‘we don’t know all the answers yet’ and cautioned everyone against ‘jumping to conclusions.’”
Well, we do “know all the answers” now, and the conclusion is that these acts are directly tied to Islam. Yet the Barack Hussein Obama, his administration and their media outlets insist the Ft. Hood attack, like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, were not tied to established Islamic terrorist groups. They offer the same errant analysis of the 2009 murder of two American soldiers outside a military recruiting center in Little Rock, and conspiracies to detonate bombs in Times Square and the NYC subway system. The result is that Islamist ideology is allowed to propagate and flourish across our nation, unabated.
Our enemy is not limited to al-Qa'ida. Instead, it involves a global network of Islamofascist groups which combine to form what we long ago coined “Jihadistan,” a borderless nation of Islamist jihadis with global reach who have their collective sights set on Americans at home and abroad.
Government and media analysts alike, will assert that there is no connection between Jihadi attacks in the West and Islam, calling assailants “lone wolf” actors. That assertion is patently false. These attacks are directly tied to worldwide Jihad by way of the Qur'an, the foundational fabric linking all Islamist violence. Describing Islamists as “lone wolf” actors or “radicalized” constitutes a lethal misunderstanding of the Jihadi threat. Describing their attacks as “criminal activity” or “workplace violence,” as the Obama administration classified the Ft. Hood attack, is asinine.
Fact is, American Islamists, such as Louis Farrakhan, Anwar al-Awlaki, Sheikh Ibrahim and other self-appointed clerics, have galvanized their following by preaching hatred for America. And other American Muslin leaders, who would like to be perceived as legitimate representatives of Islam, offer little condemnation of Islamic violence. Their silence is deafening.
Regarding that “deafening silence,” we harken back to a time when our understanding and resolve against this global adversary was clear. In the inimitable words of President Bush the week of 9/11: “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”