Archive for the ‘Islamic history’ category

Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East

October 14, 2017

Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East, Gatestone Institute, Philip Carl Salzman, October 14, 2017

Many Middle Easterners see the disasters around them, and blame outsiders: “It is the fault of the Jews”; “The British did this to us”; “The Americans are to blame.”[5] Many Western academics and commentators say the same, dignifying this counter-historic theory with the label “postcolonialism.” But given that tribal dynamics were dominant in the region for a thousand years since the foundation of Islam, and thousands of years before that, blaming outsiders for regional dynamics is hardly credible. Nonetheless, “postcolonialists” will claim that pointing to regional culture as the foundation of regional dynamics is “blaming the victim.” We in the West, unlike Middle Easterners, love “victims.” But what if Middle Easterners are victims of the limitations and shortcomings of their own culture?

***********************************

Peace is not possible in the Middle East because values and goals other than peace are more important to Middle Easterners. Most important to Middle Easterners are loyalty to kin, clan, and cult, and the honour that is won by such loyalty.

There was no group and no loyalty above the tribe or tribal confederation until the rise of Islam. With Islam, a new, higher, more encompassing level of loyalty was defined. All people were divided between Muslims and infidels, and the world was divided between the Dar al-Islam, the land of believers and peace, and Dar al-harb, the land of unbelievers and war. Following the tribal ideology of loyalty, Muslims should unite against infidels, and would receive not only honour, but heavenly rewards.

Honour is gained in victory. Losing is regarded as deeply humiliating. Only the prospects of a future victory and the regaining of honour drives people forward. An example is the Arab-Israel conflict, in the course of which the despised Jews repeatedly defeated the armies of Arab states. This was not so much a material disaster for the Arabs, as it was a cultural one in which honor was lost. The only way to regain honor is to defeat and destroy Israel, the explicit goal of the Palestinians: “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” This why no agreement over land or boundaries will bring peace: peace does not restore honor.

We in the West, unlike Middle Easterners, love “victims.” But what if Middle Easterners are victims of the limitations and shortcomings of their own culture?

Living as an anthropologist in a herding camp of the Yarahmadzai tribe of nomadic pastoralists in the deserts of Iranian Baluchistan clarified some of the inhibitions to peace in the Middle East. What one sees is strong, kin-based, group loyalty defense and solidarity, and the political opposition of lineages, whether large or small.[1] This raised the question how unity and peace could arrive in a system based on opposition.

Peace is not possible in the Middle East because values and goals other than peace are more important to Middle Easterners. Most important to Middle Easterners are loyalty to kin, clan, and cult, and the honour which is won by such loyalty. These are the cultural imperatives, the primary values, held and celebrated. When conflict arises and conflict-parties form based on loyal allegiance, the conflict is regarded as appropriate and proper.

The results of absolute commitment to kin and cult groups, and the structural opposition to all others, can be seen throughout Middle Eastern history, including contemporary events, where conflict has been rife. Turks, Arabs and Iranians have launched military campaigns to suppress Kurds. Meanwhile, Christians, Yazidis, Baha’is and Jews, among others, have been, and continue to be ethnically cleansed. Arabs and Persians, and Sunnis and Shiites, each try to gain power over the other in a competition that has been one of the main underlying factors of the Iraq-Iran war, the Saddam Hussein regime, and the current catastrophe in Syria. Turks invaded Greek Orthodox Cyprus in 1974 and have occupied it since. Multiple Muslim states have invaded the minuscule Jewish state of Israel three times, and Palestinians daily celebrate the murder of Jews.

Some Middle Easterners, and some in the West, prefer to attribute the problems of the Middle East to outsiders, such as Western imperialists, but it seems odd to suggest that the local inhabitants have no agency and no responsibility for their activities in this disastrous region, high not only in conflict and brutality, but low by all world standards in human development.

If one looks to local conditions to understand local conflicts, the first thing to understand is that Arab culture, through the ages and at the present time, has been built on the foundation of Bedouin tribal culture. Most of the population of northern Arabia at the time of the emergence of Islam was Bedouin, and during the period of rapid expansion following the adoption of Islam, the Arab Muslim army consisted of Bedouin tribal units. The Bedouin, nomadic and pastoral for the most part, were formed into tribes, which are regional defense and security groups.[2]

Bedouin tribes were organized by basing groups on descent through the male line. Close relatives in conflict activated only small groups, while distant relatives in conflict activated large groups. If, for example, members of cousin groups were in conflict, no one else was involved. But if members of tribal sections were in conflict, all cousins and larger groups in a tribal section would unite in opposition to the other tribal section. So, what group a tribesmen thought himself a member of was circumstantial, depending on who was involved in a conflict.

Relations between descent groups were always oppositional in principle, with tribes as a whole seeing themselves in opposition to other tribes. The main structural relation between groups at the same genealogical and demographic level could be said to be balanced opposition. The strongest political norm among tribesmen was loyalty to, and active support of, one’s kin group, small or large. One must always support closer kin against more distant kin. Loyalty was rewarded with honour. Not supporting your kin was dishonourable. The systemic result was often a stand-off, the threat of full scale conflict with another group of the same size and determination acting as deterrence against frivolous adventures. That there were not more conflicts than the many making up tribal history, is due to that deterrence.

There was no group and no loyalty above the tribe or tribal confederation until the rise of Islam. With Islam, a new, higher, more encompassing level of loyalty was defined. All people were divided between Muslims and infidels, and the world was divided between the Dar al-Islam, the land of believers and peace, and Dar al-harb, the land of unbelievers and war. Following the tribal ideology of loyalty, Muslims should unite against infidels, and would receive not only honour, but heavenly rewards.

Honour is gained in victory.[3] Self-sacrifice in the attempt is lauded, but honour comes from winning. Having lost and being a victim is not an esteemed position in Arab society. Having lost in a political struggle results in loss of honour. This is felt deeply as a loss that should be corrected. Losing is regarded as deeply humiliating. Only the prospects of a future victory and the regaining of honour drives people forward. An example is the Arab-Israel conflict, in the course of which the despised Jews repeatedly defeated the armies of Arab states. This was not so much a material disaster for the Arabs, as it was a cultural one in which honour was lost. The only way to regain honour is to defeat and destroy Israel, the explicit goal of the Palestinians: “from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” This why no agreement over land or boundaries will bring peace: peace does not restore honour.

None of this is unknown to Arab commentators, who repeatedly refer to the tribal nature of their culture and society. Of course, today, few Middle Easterners live in tents and raise camels, but villagers and urbanites share the same tribal assumptions and values. According to the Tunisian intellectual Al-Afif al-Akhdar, the Arabs cherish their “deep-culture of tribal vengefulness” and consequent “fixated, brooding, vengeful mentality.”[4] Former Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has said that “We need an ideological revolution; our tribal mentality has destroyed our society.”

Dr. Salman Masalha, an Israeli Druze literary intellectual, argues:

“The tribal nature of Arab societies is deeply embedded in the past, and its roots date back through Arab history to the pre-Islamic era. … Since Arab societies are tribal in nature, the various forms of monarchies and emirates are the natural continuation of this ingrained social structure in which tribal loyalty comes before all else.”

Mamoun Fandy, an Egyptian-born American scholar, wrote in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat:

“The Arabs, even after the arrival of Islam, were never “ideological” people who sought to develop an intellectual vision of ourselves and the outside world. Instead, we are the people of blood relations and family ties, or “Shalal” as we call it in Egypt. … Despite the fact that Islam was the greatest intellectual revolution in our history, we, as Arabs, have succeeded in adapting Islam to serve the tribe, the family, and the clan. Islamic history began as an intellectual revolution, and as a history of ideas and countries; however, after the beginning of the Orthodox Caliphate, it was transformed into a somewhat tribal state. The State of Islam became the Umayyad State, and after that the Abbasid, the Fatimid, and so on and so forth. This means that we now have a history of tribes instead of a history of ideas. … Has this tribal history, alongside tribal and family loyalties and the priority of blood relations over intellectual relations gone forever after the “Arab spring?” Of course not; what has happened is that the families and tribes have dressed themselves up in the cloak of revolutions in Yemen and in Libya, and in Egypt the opposition consists of tribes rather than concepts.”

Pictured: Bedouin men in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The history of the Middle East, the centuries of tribal wars, and the ongoing fissures in Arab society all testify to the Arab tribal culture and structural opposition. There may have been good reasons to stick with tribal culture and organization in pre-modern times: states and empires were despotic, exploitative, and heavily dependent on slave-labor, and tribal organization gave some people a chance to remain independent. In recent times, with the modern state model, governments in the Middle East have tried to establish states, but these have foundered on tribal loyalties and oppositions, which do not fit with constitutional states. Rulers in the region have all turned to coercion to maintain their positions, making all Muslim states in the region despotic.

Many Middle Easterners see the disasters around them, and blame outsiders: “It is the fault of the Jews”; “The British did this to us”; “The Americans are to blame.”[5] Many Western academics and commentators say the same, dignifying this counter-historic theory with the label “postcolonialism.” But given that tribal dynamics were dominant in the region for a thousand years since the foundation of Islam, and thousands of years before that, blaming outsiders for regional dynamics is hardly credible. Nonetheless, “postcolonialists” will claim that pointing to regional culture as the foundation of regional dynamics is “blaming the victim.” We in the West, unlike Middle Easterners, love “victims.” But what if Middle Easterners are victims of the limitations and shortcomings of their own culture?

Philip Carl Salzman is Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Canada.


[1] Philip Carl Salzman, Black Tents of Baluchistan, Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.

[2] Philip Carl Salzman, Culture and Conflict in the Middle East, Amherst, NY: Humanity Books, 2008.

[3] Frank Henderson Stewart, Honor, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.; Gideon M. Kressel, Ascendancy through Aggression, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1996.

[4] Quoted in Barry Rubin, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Hoboken, NY: Wiley, 2006), 80-81.

[5] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel, NY: Free Press, 2007, p. 47.

Takfir is extremism’s demonic fruit

July 18, 2017

Takfir is extremism’s demonic fruit, Al ArabiyaMohammed Al Shaikh, July 18, 2017

We must admit – as I’ve repeatedly said – that the murder and Islamized bloody revolutions we’ve witnessed in the past three decades were based on texts from our inherited legacy, and they are not related to conspiracies as naïve men think. Most of this legacy is the result of man’s interpretation of godly texts – interpretations that are not necessarily the only possible ones for this or that Quranic verse or hadith.

The second substantial point regarding the massive amounts of fatwas (religious edicts) and jurisprudential stances we’ve inherited is that there are fixed principles which jurists call “pillars of Islam.” There are variables which are related to man’s life and not to his religion as they depend on his interests and the society he lives in. Therefore, it’s not necessary for what was good years ago to be good for applying now. What matters at all times is achieving interests and warding off evil.

**********************************

Al-Ghazali once said: “Only ignorant men rush to accusing others of apostasy.” I’ve memorized this quote ever since I read it and I recall it every time someone makes rushed judgments accusing others of apostasy. When I listen to how they ended up with this dangerous conclusion, I realize that Ghazali’s statement was accurate and true.

If we delve into inherited jurisprudential legacies, we’d notice that takfir, i.e. accusations of apostasy, were common during times of political strife and unrest.

The seriousness of such accusations is that they justify wars, murder and rebellion against political rulers. This is why ambitious politicians and figures behind political revolutions resort to this method to attract followers and break free from loyalty to the current system of governance.

When the first Khawarij rebelled against the man whom the pledge of allegiance was made to, they justified their political revolution with the slogan “There’s no rule but for Allah.” They justified their political differences with others via religious and opportunist excuses. The new Khawarij, i.e. the Islamized Brotherhood and branching groups like Sururists and politicized Islamized revolutionary movements, used that same slogan.

They also adopted the approach of accusing others of apostasy. These takfirist movements, which are called Sahwa, ended in tragedies, destruction, bloodshed and strife. The atheism phenomenon, which has recently spread in modern Arab societies, was mainly due to the violent repercussions and violations of security and stability that rivals committed in the name of religion.

Murderous screams

The murderer screams “Allah Akbar” when he kills and the killed screams “Allah Akbar” while defending himself. Meanwhile, someone else raises religious slogans to justify some actions and another raises different slogans to defend his words and so on.

We must admit – as I’ve repeatedly said – that the murder and Islamized bloody revolutions we’ve witnessed in the past three decades were based on texts from our inherited legacy, and they are not related to conspiracies as naïve men think. Most of this legacy is the result of man’s interpretation of godly texts – interpretations that are not necessarily the only possible ones for this or that Quranic verse or hadith.

The second substantial point regarding the massive amounts of fatwas (religious edicts) and jurisprudential stances we’ve inherited is that there are fixed principles which jurists call “pillars of Islam.” There are variables which are related to man’s life and not to his religion as they depend on his interests and the society he lives in. Therefore, it’s not necessary for what was good years ago to be good for applying now. What matters at all times is achieving interests and warding off evil.

I was one of those thrilled when Saudi King Salman and his guest US President Donald Trump inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) during the latter’s visit to Riyadh. If this center succeeds in monitoring the phenomenon of extremism that leads to terrorism and manages to identify the manifestations of extremism in the inherited legacy and works to correct them through educating and raising awareness via the media, then we will be taking practical measures and making our first step on the right path.

The West Needs Sharia Law – Pakistani cleric

September 3, 2016

The West Needs Sharia Law – Pakistani cleric, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 3, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

According to a leading Pakistani imam, Islamists need to convince western civilizations that Sharia law is good and that we need it to root our the evils which possess us. His wise words must be music to Obama’s ears.

In a recent article, leading Pakistani cleric Maulana Zahidur Rashdi noted that Islam and the West are indeed in a clash of civilizations, as argued by U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

The article, titled “The Cultural and Civilizational Struggle Between Islam and the West,” was published by Roznama Islam, an Urdu-language daily published from Karachi and Lahore, which is known for advocating Islamist causes and pro-jihad arguments.

Maulana Zahidur Rashdi is a leading Islamic scholar who frequently writes in newspapers and has visited several countries to preach Islam, especially Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bangladesh, Iran, Kenya, Iran, Uzbekistan, India, the U.K., Canada, the U.S., and others.

. . . .

“[Our Intellectuals See It Not As A War Of Civilization But As] A War Of Interests … Between The Developed And The Developing Countries, In Which Muslim Countries And Nations Are The Underdogs Due To Lack Of Progress”

“‘Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has said that those Muslims who believe in shari’a should be expelled from America. Before this, U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump had too demanded a ban on the entry of Muslims into America. Newt Gingrich… has said in an interview: Western civilization is in a state of war. Shari’a is not compatible with the Western civilization, and we will gladly accept those Muslims who do not believe in shari’a. Newt Gingrich has also proposed monitoring mosques in America along with imprisoning individuals who visit websites of extremist organizations.

Accordingly,

“The West’s standpoint is very clear in that it is not ready to accept the enforcement of shari’a. In response to this, it is our responsibility to point out the errors of the Western civilization based on the common collective interests of human society and revealed [Islamic] teachings, to clarify the damages caused to human society by it [the Western civilization], and to bring forth benefits and necessities of Islamic Shari’a through reason and logic…”

President Obama has contended that America should not bar immigrants or refugee seekers who favor the imposition of Sharia law; that’s not who we are. Perhaps He does not want to stop His thus far successful efforts to end our terrorist shortage. In July of last year, Obama

condemned the terrorist attack in France that killed 84 people and denounced politicians who have suggested that Muslims be subjected to extra scrutiny in the United States because of their religion.

“In the wake of last night’s attacks, we’ve heard more suggestions that all Muslims in America be targeted or tested for their beliefs,” Obama said. The president appeared to be referring to former House speaker Newt Gingrich’s call on Fox News to deport all Muslims who follow sharia law.

Without mentioning Gingrich by name, Obama called his suggestion of a religious test “repugnant and an affront to everything we stand for as Americans.” [Emphasis added.]

“We cannot give in to fear or turn on each other or sacrifice our way of life,” Obama said. “We cannot let ourselves be divided by religion, because that is exactly what the terrorists want.”

Alas, some Muslims reject governmental adoption of Sharia law. Raheel Raza recently took issue with CNN commentator Sally Kohn, who had tried to defend Sharia law.

Raza’s response came after Kohn recently pretended to be an Islamic theologian and lectured the public on how “progressive” sharia law allegedly is:

There is a difference between personal, spiritual Sharia and the political incorporation of Sharia into law,” Kohn stated. “And within both, there are progressive interpretations as well as more fundamentalist conservative interpretations. So the word Sharia doesn’t mean one thing.” [Emphasis added.]

Kohn then blasted Donald Trump for “not knowing” what sharia law really stands for. This is likely when Raza’s radar went up, considering that the Muslim activist has first-hand knowledge about sharia law and the threat it poses.

Raza, who at great personal risk travels the world to educate people on the dangers of sharia law and who has worked for decades to wrestle her faith from the hands of extremists, thinks it odd that a progressive would defend the very Islamic tenets that promote homophobia, anti-Semitism, and the subjugation of women.

In an open letter to Kohn published on the Huffington Post, Raza writes:

Political commentator Sally Kohn has made several statements regarding sharia law, which were not only offensive but dangerous. In using her voice to propagate this liberal apologist position, she is doing a great disservice to progressive reform-minded Muslims like myself. Her words are an affront to me, a female Muslim activist, as I have made it my life’s mission to educate others on this topic and to wrestle back my religion from the clutches of extremists who wish to make sharia the law of the land. And I would be happy to debate her on this topic. [Emphasis added.]

As an openly gay woman, Ms. Kohn would be killed, jailed or persecuted under sharia law. As a devout Muslim woman, I – along with many true progressive Muslims – rightly view sharia, as it is practiced today, as an archaic distortion of Islamic law.

In a very diplomatic way, Raza suggests that perhaps Kohn doesn’t know as much about Islamic law as she thinks she does, and then offered up the following “brief lesson in sharia”:

What many sharia laws and statutes have in common are the following. They are:

· Homophobic
· Anti-semitic
· Anti-women
· Advocate amputations and stoning
· Preach killing of apostates
· Uphold the Blasphemy Law (which could get me killed)

“This homophobic, anti-woman, repressive sharia is no longer confined to the mosque or to majority Muslim nations,” Raza writes before providing the example of England’s 100 sharia councils that have been allowed to harm women in the West.

“As a woman, and as someone who enjoys the freedoms and liberties that are systematically assaulted by sharia law, Sally Kohn needs to think twice before defending this oppressive, perverse practice.”

“Words are powerful — so Sally, I beg you and others to stop defending the indefensible and to stand with us, not them,” the Muslim activists concluded.

It is typical of progressives, so willfully blind, that they hurt the very people they claim to champion. Sadly, progressives like Kohn would rather propagate left-wing lies about Islam without regard to how many people get hurt in the process, than actually learn from the people who know best.

Obama may think that Sharia law is good and that we need it, but rejects any “honest discussion” about it.

Would Iman Obama agree with Sally Kohn and Pakistani imam Rashdi that western cultures need the enlightenment that Sharia law brings? Then, perhaps we could become enlightened and progressive (but I repeat myself) like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. Saudi Arabia recently sentenced a man to ten years in jail and two thousand lashes for “tweeting” about being an atheist.

The hardline Islamic state’s religious police in charge of monitoring social networks found more than 600 tweets denying the existence of God, ridiculing Koranic verses, accusing all prophets of lies and saying their teaching fuelled hostilities…

Turkey is enjoying an epidemic of child rape. The Islamic Republic of Iran likes to have mass executions and, when convenient, throws homosexuals off tall buildings.

gays off hall building

Stoning, pursuant to Sharia law, is also popular in Iran.

Of course, it has to be done only in conformity with Iran’s Sharia law, generally after a “confession.”

And on and on and on. Never mind, though, Iran is very technologically advanced, doubtless due to scientific guidance provided by its ayatollahs based on the teachings of Mohammad. Indeed, Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi recently promised that the “Hidden Imam” will arrive soon, and in “a vessel like a space ship.

Islamic Hijrah, migrating from Islamic countries to non-Islamic countries, is a way of conquest by political Islam — by Islamists. With it, comes Sharia law. If you haven’t the time or inclination to watch any of the other videos, please watch this one. Yes, it’s thirty minutes long, but well is worth the time.

Perhaps, by extending hands of welcome to more Islamist immigrants and refugees who seek to conquer us and “help” us by bringing Sharia law with them, we will accept that only based on Islamist teachings can we

clarify the damages caused to human society by it [the Western civilization], and . . . bring forth benefits and necessities of Islamic Shari’a through reason and logic…”

Obama would be very proud of them, and of us for imposing no religious ideological tests.

Enough

July 15, 2016

Enough, PJ MediaMichael Walsh, July 15, 2016

Nice

Western civilization has defended us for centuries. Isn’t it about time we defended it?

***************************

The latest Muslim atrocity in Nice will have far-reaching international consequences, and not just for the countries of Europe. After promising a “pitiless” war against Islamic aggression, the Hollande government in France effectively came to an end last night on the Promenade des Anglais and will soon enough be replaced by the Marine Le Pen government. The British, having voted themselves out of the European Union, are effectively under siege by hordes of invaders gathered in Calais, preparing to storm the Chunnel in order to bring their unique brand of vibrant diversity to perfidious Albion’s shores. Meanwhile, in Germany, the charmless Mutti Merkel mutters to herself as she plots to import even more “refugees” in order to destroy the Bundesrepublik she grew up learning to hate as a child in communist East Germany.

It will also affect the course of the American election. The utter bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s deliberately feckless, see-no-evil approach to Muslim terrorism is now on plain display for all the world to see. It is written in blood on the bodies of the children who died for the crime of celebrating France’s national day on a fine summer night along a sea that used to protect them from the north African Arabs, but now no longer does. It will be impossible for Hillary Clinton, whose charmless bovinity becomes more apparent to the electorate every day, to disassociate herself from what she herself has, in part, wrought, and her punishment at the polls should be spectacular.

Finally, it will set off a chain of events that will result in a serious sorting-out of the Arab world, the Muslim ummah, and its hostile intentions toward Christendom and the West. Although the secular liberals and cultural Marxist want to convince you that the West is no longer Christian, that’s a lie. The atheists in government — starting with the self-worshipping, Muslim-sympathizing man in the White House — want you to believe that freedom of religion now means “freedom of worship” (the use of the Islamic-favored word “worship” is telling), but the fact is that almost everything about the West is Christian, from the late Roman empire on through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and into our own time. Some of our history may have been anti-clerical (the French Revolution comes to mind) but even the attacks on sect and dogma have derived from the rational principles of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Confronted with its own overwhelming cultural, moral, physical and spiritual inferiority, the raging death cult that swept out of the north African desert and slaughtered its way across Asia Minor, the Indian subcontinent and all the way to Indonesia did its best to erase all traces of the captive lands’ pre-Islamic past. Zoroastrian Persia fell to these barbarians, as did much of Hindu civilization. Although the Arabs soon lost control of their empire to those even more savage than they (the Turks, Mamelukes, and the Mongols, for example), the religion bound them all together in a shared hatred for the West.

One of the western bulwarks against Islam had been the Byzantine empire, the old, Greek-dominated eastern half of the Roman empire. While never militarily strong enough to defeat the Muslims, it was for hundreds of years strong enough to keep them at bay; meanwhile Byzantine diplomacy (every bit as Byzantine as it sounds) did the rest. The fall of Constantinople (“Istanbul” is merely a corruption of the city’s real name) in 1453 left much of eastern Europe open to Islamic conquest, including Albania, which remains largely Muslim to this day, Bulgaria and Hungary, where memories of Muslim rule are as fresh today as they were in half a millennium ago.

What’s past is prologue. From time to time, the Western powers undertook punitive expeditions against fanatical Muslim irruptions, such as Kitchener’s demolition of the Mahdi’s forces at Omdurman in 1898, in revenge for the sack of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon 13 years before. Gordon, one of Britain’s greatest heroes, had earlier been instrumental in stopping the Arab trade in black African slaves, and was tasked with helping Khartoum’s garrison of Egyptian Ottoman Muslims return to Cairo at the time of his death.

Islamic military prowess is long in the past; the West has not suffered a major defeat in any confrontation with Islam on the battlefield since Saladin expelled the Crusaders from Jerusalem in 1187.  But pitched battles between great armies are no longer the confrontation of choice. As Nice, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino and everywhere else a “holy warrior” has self-detonated have shown, the war has come to the streets of western cities, unpredictable in its timing and ferocity. And yet still the West refuses to take even the most rudimentary steps to protect itself against a known, sworn enemy. Why?

Lots of reasons: ennui, cultural Marxism, the mutation of the Left into a suicide cult that wants to take the rest of us with it. A loss of faith in organized religion (some of it brought on by the faiths themselves, or rather the imperfect men who represent and administer them). The transformation of government schools into babysitting services for subsections of the populace with severe cultural learning disabilities, no matter the skin color of the pupil. The marginalization of the very notion of excellence. And a political class that is little more than a collection of criminals, throne-sniffers, pantywaists and bum-kissers, all dedicated to their own enrichment.

As I argued in The Devil’s Pleasure Palace  — and will expand upon in the forthcoming companion volume, The Fiery Angel — the antidote to this is a return to our cultural roots, including the pre-Christian principles of Aristotle (passed down via St. Thomas Aquinas, among others) and the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. Those roots are neither race- nor faith-specific and in fact the genius of Western civilization is that its principles — not “conservative” principles but civilizational principles — have proven so successful that they resulted in the United States of America, the very embodiment of those ideas.

Which is, of course, why Islam and its ally of convenience, the Left, hate America so. We and our cultural heritage are the refutation of every satanic principle they hold so vengefully dear.

Western civilization has defended us for centuries. Isn’t it about time we defended it?

A Ramadan Piece: The “Other” Islam

July 5, 2016

A Ramadan Piece: The “Other” Islam, Gatestone InstituteSalim Mansur, July 5, 2016

(A fascinating history of the battle between political Islam and non-political Islam. The battle continues. — DM)

♦ Abrahamic monotheism as represented in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, precedes and stands apart from politics as an ethical vision that transcends history. It was a vision which invited people to embrace their common humanity as created and gifted by one omnipotent deity, and to follow a revealed code of ethics for righteous living, holding the promise of peace with an end to interminable conflicts that divided people into warring tribes.

♦ Thoughtful Muslims, for nearly a century before the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Caliphate, had been writing about the need for an Islamic reform. Europe’s cultural advancement following the Reformation and Enlightenment held up a mirror for the Islamic world to follow in similar direction to similar ends. There was a consensus among Muslims that Islam was not intrinsically opposed to the modern world, and a readiness to follow in the footsteps of the West.

♦ This is the “other” Islam. This is submission to truth, whose most righteous exemplar was Abraham when his faith was tested by his Deity, according to the Hebrew Bible, to sacrifice his son. And this is the faith of Sufis who took Muhammad’s message to people in places far removed from the desert confines of Arabia. It is simply, as the Qur’an reminds (30:30), deen al-fitrah, the natural religion, or inclination, of man to know his Creator. There is no return of this “other” Islam; it never went missing.

The cover of the January 1976 issue of Commentary magazine announced its main story, “The Return of Islam,” by Bernard Lewis. The year of publication coincided with the coming end of the fourteenth century of Islam, and the anticipation of a new Islamic century beginning in 1979. Forty years later this essay by Lewis, widely recognized and respected as the most eminent scholar on the Middle East and Islam alive today, came to be celebrated as the first warning of the coming upheaval inside the world of Islam.

Lewis’s essay was a corrective to viewing the Middle East and its people, Arabs and Muslims, in terms of Western values. “Modern Western man,” wrote Lewis, “being unable for the most part to assign a dominant and central place to religion in his own affairs, found himself unable to conceive that any other peoples in any other place could have done so… [or to] admit that an entire civilization can have religion as its primary loyalty.” This meant, Lewis continued, the “inability, political, journalistic, and scholarly alike, to recognize the importance of the factor of religion in the current affairs of the Muslim world”.

Recent events have proven that Lewis was correct in pointing to this critical flaw in much of Western understanding of Islam and Muslims. But the title of the essay was unfortunate and misleading; there was no “return of Islam” for Muslims, since at no point in Islamic or Muslim history had Islam been missing, or dormant.

Instead of the “return of Islam,” it was the return of political Islam, or Islamism. Lewis’s essay was a timely review of Muslim history in terms of political Islam. But political Islam is but one facet of Islam. It is a recurring mistake to see political Islam as the defining feature of Islam that obscures Islam’s spiritual dimension, which is more vital than the coarse authoritarian features of political Islam.

In antiquity, politics was inseparable from religion. It might be said that politics was the handmaiden of religion. A ruler among people in ancient times was a chief priest, or a demigod. This feature of the ancient world in which religion and politics were bound together could be described as “theopolitics”, and Islam was as much influenced in its history by theopolitics as were Judaism and Christianity.

Lewis wrote:

“The three major Middle Eastern religions are significantly different in their relations with the state and their attitudes to political power. Judaism was associated with the state and was disentangled from it; its new encounter with the state at the present time raises problems which are still unresolved. Christianity, during the first formative centuries of its existence, was separate from and indeed antagonistic to the state with which it only later became involved. Islam from the lifetime of its founder was the state, and the identity of religion and government is indelibly stamped on the memories and awareness of the faithful from their own sacred writings, history, and experience.”

A lot of history is compressed in this passage, and so some misreading of that history is inevitable. Lewis went on to discuss Islam as being entwined with political Islam since its inception. “Islam was associated with power from the very beginning,” wrote Lewis, “from the first formative years of the Prophet and his immediate successors.” Consequently, in Islam “religion is not, as it is in Christendom, one sector or segment of life, regulating some matters while others are excluded; it is concerned with the whole of life—not a limited but a total jurisdiction.”

The problem with Lewis’s view of Islam is that he uncritically accepted the theology of political Islam. This theology was constructed during the three centuries after the Prophet Muhammad when, in the course of events between the seventh and the tenth century of the Common Era, Arabs came to rule a vast empire. It was consistent with the temper of late antiquity, and it put a stamp on Islam ever since that most Muslims have accepted without questioning.

Abrahamic monotheism as represented in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, however, precedes and stands apart from politics as an ethical vision that transcends history. It was a vision which invited people to embrace their common humanity as created and gifted by one omnipotent deity, and to follow a revealed code of ethics for righteous living, holding the promise of peace with an end to interminable conflicts that divided people into warring tribes.

It was the resistance of pagans and polytheists to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam at their origins that compelled their early followers in the course of their respective histories to seek in politics protection for their religious beliefs. In Judaism and Islam, the founders — Moses and Muhammad — combined in their personalities the roles of prophet, warrior, and statesman. The life of Jesus, in this respect, was different.

In Moses’s case, he never entered the promised land, and it was left to his successors to eventually found a state for the Jews. In the instance of Muhammad, there is the question that has divided Muslims ever since his death: was his prophetic mission primarily to establish an Islamic state that would define, for Muslims for all times, Islam as the ideal arrangement in which religion and politics were one and indivisible?

The answer to this question was surrounded in controversy right from the moment of the Prophet’s last illness before his death. The controversy over his succession, and what such succession meant, tore apart the immediate followers of the Prophet, and incited tribal warfare, fratricide and schisms that since then have provided the backdrop to Muslims in respect to their own understanding and practice of Islam as religion and politics.

Islam as the Abrahamic vision of man’s relation with God was supplanted by the theology of political Islam. The process began in the midst of the Prophet’s last illness and accelerated with his death. The majority Sunni sect in Islam coalesced around the view that the immediate successors of the Prophet, elected or chosen, ought to be the closest companions of Muhammad, and their rulings in the formative stage of Muslim history became the standard by which subsequent generations of Muslims innovated the requirements of ruling an empire.

Those Muslims who dissented from the majority view represented by Sunni Islam were the Shi’a, or the party of Ali. Ali was a cousin of the Prophet, raised from his childhood in the Prophet’s household and, hence, the closest companion of Muhammad. Ali was also the Prophet’s son-in-law by marriage to Fatima, his only surviving child. The Shi’a Muslims believed Ali was the designated successor of the Prophet because of their familial ties, but he was forcefully denied the succession by those who usurped it immediately following the Prophet’s demise. Shi’a Islam evolved as the main minority sect with its own theopolitics within Islam.

The first Muslims were Arabs of the desert, the Bedouins, among whom Muhammad was born. Their tribalism persisted despite the Prophet’s warnings and it shaped Islam from the first hour of the post-Prophetic history. Sectarianism within Islam was the unavoidable outcome of clan and tribal conflicts among the first Muslims, and the Sunni-Shi’a divide became the main cleavage as a result, setting the template of further divisions as sects proliferated over time in the history of Islam.

Less than a century after the Prophet’s death in 632 C.E., his followers, the Bedouin Arabs, became the rulers of an empire that stretched from the Iberian Peninsula in the West to the Indus River in the East. There was nothing in the Qur’an, or in the traditions of the Prophet, to instruct these Arabs on the mechanics of administrating an empire. They took to imitating the rulers of Persia, whom they defeated, and adopted the administrative manuals of both Byzantine and Persian officialdom to rule the lands and peoples they conquered. And in order to provide legitimacy in the name of Islam to Arab rule in Damascus and later in Baghdad, the ulema(religious scholars) worked out the details of law and society, the Sharia, derived from the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions.

The origin of Islamic culture and civilization lies in the empire that Bedouin Arabs, through the force of arms, established in a very short period. This was also the origin of political Islam, which came to represent the dominant face of Islam as theopolitics.

The fight that erupted, with the news of the Prophet’s demise, among his closest companions over succession related to temporal power that the Prophet had exercised, and not his role as a Messenger of God (Rasul Allah). This fight culminated in 680 C.E. with the defeat of the Prophet’s grandson, Husayn, killed and decapitated in the field of Kerbala, close to the banks of the Euphrates in Iraq, by the army sent out by Yazid I, the Ummayad Caliph of the rapidly expanding Islamic empire.

The event in Kerbala was a watershed in the history of Islam. Ethnic Arabs, recently converted to Islam, delivered Husayn’s cruel end. Ever since, this crime, as sordid as the crucifixion of Jesus, has stained Muslim history with the mark of Cain.

After Kerbala, it could no longer be said that Islam, as Abrahamic monotheism, guided politics ethically along the path of justice and mercy. Instead, the politics that surfaced upon the death of the Prophet hardened after the killing of Husayn, and politics henceforth came to define Islam as faith, culture, and society.

699In the Battle of Kerbala, depicted in Abbas Al-Musavi’s painting, Husayn, the son of Ali and grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with his family and all his followers by the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate. It was the most crucial moment in the split between Shi’a and Sunni Islam. (Image source: Brooklyn Museum)

The Ummayads in Damascus, the imperial capital, were the first dynastic rulers among Arabs in Islamic history. The founder of the dynasty, Muawiyyah, seized power following the murder of Ali, the fourth Caliph and the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet. With the Ummayads the institution of the Caliphate, which was an innovation to fill the void of leadership among the Arabs in Medina following Muhammad’s death, adopted the pomp and pageantry of the Persian and Byzantine rulers. The Caliphate, from that first century of Islamic history until its abolition in 1924 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, was the embodiment of Oriental Despotism.

Those Muslims who witnessed the tribal conflicts erupt after the Prophet’s demise and recoiled in revulsion from politics turned inward in seeking union with the divine mystery, as mentioned in the Qur’an. They sought solace in the spiritual dimension of Islam and emulated the Prophetic tradition of withdrawal from the world through prayer and meditation. They became the founders of the Sufi, or mystical, tradition in Islam. This was the “other” face of Islam, distinct from political Islam.

The physical expansion of the Islamic empire was carried forth by the armies of the Caliphs. But the spread of Islam as a faith tradition was a slow process, carried forth by Sufi missionaries belonging to various fraternal orders and independent of political rulers of the world of Islam.

There is a world of difference in conversion brought about at the point of sword of conquering armies, and conversion that results from the communion of hearts and minds among people. The latter is more genuine and transformative than the former in every religion. The Qur’an itself — verse 49:13 — warned the Prophet that the acceptance of Islam by the Arabs of the desert was one of submission in the face of defeat, and that belief had not entered their hearts. This verse might be read as forewarning of crimes Muslims would commit through history in the cause of political Islam, beginning with the killing of Husayn in Kerbala.

Political Islam from its outset was an inquisition. It began with Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, when he subverted the Islamic principle stated in the Qur’an — “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256) — and declared war on those Arab tribes who withheld their loyalty from him following the death of the Prophet. The “Ridda Wars,” or the “Wars of Apostasy,” launched by Abu Bakr inaugurated political Islam, and since then, the precedent he set for Muslim-on-Muslim violence has plagued Islamic history into our times.

The role of the a’lem (pl. ulema; religious scholars) was instrumental in the making of political Islam. The ulema provided legitimacy to the Ummayad Caliphs in Damascus in the period of intra-tribal conflicts that had led to the killings of the three Caliphs (Umar, Uthman, and Ali) after Abu Bakr and then the massacre in the field of Kerbala.

The consensus of the ulema — accepted by those who eventually came to represent the majority Sunni Muslims (the word “Sunni” derived from Sunna, meaning following the path or tradition of the Prophet) — was that political and social order however provided and maintained was preferable to fitnah (disorder). This consensus provided doctrinal legitimacy to the Caliphs. In return, the Caliphs recognized the special function of the religious scholars and jurists in the drafting, codification, and implementation of Sharia, or Islamic laws.

As a result of this bargain between men wielding swords and men wielding pens, the foundational arrangement of political Islam was firmly established. It was an arrangement consistent with the thinking prevalent in antiquity that religion (deen in Arabic) prescribed the totality of human affairs. This meant, as it was understood by the ulema in the formative period of Islamic history, that the primary function of state and government (dawlat in Arabic) was the establishment of the rule of Sharia. As Ann K.S. Lambton in her study, State and Government in Medieval Islam(1981), observed:

“The law precedes the state and is immutable at all times and under all conditions. The state is there to carry out the law. To disobey a law or to neglect a law is not simply to infringe a rule of the social order: it is an act of religious disobedience, a sin, and as such involves a religious penalty.”

Once the bricks and mortar of political Islam were set in the making of the Islamic civilization, Islam as the official doctrine of the state and empire clearly demarcated the norm as prescribed in the Sharia and made the ulema its official guardians. The Islamic state was a nearly perfect embodiment of a closed totalitarian system designed by men towards the end of the first millennium of the Common Era, and any suggestion of change or adoption of new idea in matters of either religion or politics was condemned as bid’ah (heresy deserving punishment).

But Muslim dissidents who viewed the doctrine of political Islam, or what might also be referred to as “official” Islam, as an aberration, went underground and kept the “other” Islam free from the shackles of politics. Beneath the hardened features of political Islam, the “other” Islam of Sufis provided solace to Muslims by tending to their humanity in the light of God’s most favoured attributes of mercy and compassion.

The “other” Islam, unlike political Islam, is not bound by time and space. It is directed to man’s inner yearnings for that which is eternal. It plunges in search of the inner meaning of the Qur’an as the Word of God, and the assuredness that God’s mercy is not denied to any of His creations. The Qur’an states, “We are nearer to man than his jugular vein” (50:16), reassuring man that he is not alone and God is not some distant uncaring deity.

Whereas the defining characteristic of political Islam was religion inseparable from politics, in “other” Islam politics was the corruption of religion and the dissolution of belief. Hence, from the perspective of “other” Islam, the Sharia as the corpus of Islamic laws codified by the ulema and sanctioned by the Caliphs was a poor, even corrupt, representation of the divine Sharia (in Arabic, a “path”) imprinted in the hearts of all believers as the path to acquiring God’s infinite grace.

ii.

Political Islam and the Islamic civilization it inaugurated was time-bound as a theopolitical system constructed in a certain historical period or context. It was a construct of late antiquity and the early medieval era. Since it was a fixed and closed system, it was invariably given to decay and dissolution.

During the Middle Ages, the Islamic civilization flourished just as other civilizations had. As Abdus Salam (1926-1996) — a physicist of Indo-Pakistani origin and the first Muslim scientist awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979 — observed in one of his lectures, the world of Islam and the world of Christianity (Europe) were more or less at a similar stage of development around the middle of the seventeenth century.

The evidence of this relative equality of the two civilizations, Salam suggested, could be seen in their technological achievements represented by the two monuments, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, completed about the same time. Some two decades later, Salam observed,

“there was also created — and this time only in the West — a third monument, a monument still greater in its eventual import for humanity’s future. This was Newton’s Principia, published in 1687.”

Newton’s monument had no counterpart in India, or anywhere else in the Muslim world.

The Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, led by men of astounding intellect from Leonardo da Vinci to Galileo and Newton, propelled Europe out of the medieval age into the making of the modern world. But Islamic civilization, held together by political Islam, descended into a death spiral. A century after Newton published his major work, the Ottoman Empire was turning irreversibly into a pale shadow of a civilization that once had threatened the powers of Europe at the gates of Vienna.

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington by the Islamist terrorists of al Qaeda, Bernard Lewis published What Went Wrong? (2002). It was Lewis’s effort to answer why, and how, the world of Islam had failed to accommodate the imperatives of the modern world.

“In most of the arts and sciences of civilization, medieval Europe was a pupil and in a sense a dependent of the Islamic world,” wrote Lewis.

“And then, suddenly, the relationship changed. Even before the Renaissance, Europeans were beginning to make significant progress in the civilized arts. With the advent of the New Learning, they advanced by leaps and bounds, leaving the scientific and technological and eventually the cultural heritage of the Islamic world far behind them.”

The civilizational success of political Islam in late antiquity and the early medieval era ironically carried within it the seeds of its own decline and demise. World War I eventually put an end to the anachronism that the Ottoman Empire had become, and the abolition of the Caliphate was a formal effort to bury political Islam for good.

Thoughtful Muslims, for nearly a century before the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Caliphate, had been thinking and writing about the need for an Islamic reform. Europe’s cultural advancement following the Reformation and Enlightenment held up a mirror for the Islamic world to follow in similar direction to similar ends.

In India under British rule, for instance, there were a significant number of Muslims who painfully recognized the malaise of Islamic societies and offered remedy for their advancement into the modern world. Among them the notable were Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-98), the founder of the Aligarh University; Syed Ameer Ali (1849-1928), jurist and historian; and Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), poet and philosopher.

One of the most important works was published in 1925 by Ali Abd al-Raziq (1888-1966), an Egyptian scholar and jurist at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. In his seminal work, titled al-Islam wa ‘Usul al-Hukm (Islam and the Fundamentals of Authority), al-Raziq pointed out that there was no basis in the Qur’an and the Sunnah (traditions) of the Prophet for the institution of the Caliphate.

Al-Raziq was not someone from outside the ranks of the ulema, or a lay scholar unfamiliar with the intricacies of Islamic jurisprudence and theology in the construction of Sharia. He was a student of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905) at al-Azhar, when Abduh had been appointed the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

Al-Raziq’s main contention was based on the distinction between spiritual and temporal authority. He indicated that the confusion among Muslims in the period after the Prophet arose from their inability to distinguish between the Apostolic role of Muhammad and the authority he derived as the Messenger of God (Rasul Allah), and the Caliphate as a temporal institution. Al Raziq wrote:

“Muhammad was but an apostle, sent on behalf of a religious summons, one pertaining entirely to religion and unmarred by any taint of monarchy or of summons to a political state; and he possessed neither kingly rule nor government, and he was not charged with the task of founding a kingdom in the political sense, as this word and its synonyms are generally understood.”

Al-Raziq was denounced by his peers. He was made to appear before the Council of the Greatest Ulema of Al-Azhar to hear the judgment against him, as his license to teach and practice law was revoked. Egypt was then ruled under Britain’s supervision, which likely saved al-Raziq from even more severe punishment.

But al-Raziq had stripped away the argument of traditional Islam on the sanctity of the Caliphate, and with it went the idea of Sharia being sacred. In the half-century following the abolition of the Caliphate by Mustafa Kemal, Muslims under European rule gained their independence as new states emerged in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world of Islam.

This period in the middle decades of the last century was a period of intense expectations on the part of Muslims for progress in their living conditions. A massive effort was invested to make the transition from the world of pre-Newtonian knowledge and learning to the modern world of science, industry and democracy.

There was a consensus among the rich and the poor that Islam was not intrinsically opposed to the modern world. There was a readiness among Muslims to follow in the footsteps of the West.

This consensus was reflected in a well-known and widely circulated aphorism attributed to Muhammad Abduh. On returning to Cairo from a visit to Europe, Abduh told his students, “I travelled in the West and found Islam, but no Muslims; I have returned to the East and find Muslims, but not Islam.”

The transition into the modern world, however, proved immensely complex and difficult. Europe’s transition had required several generations and a couple of centuries to break away from the feudal age into the modern age. The resistance from those invested in the ancien arrangements of society and culture was immense, and wars that followed were fierce.

Something similar to the European experience was unavoidable for Muslims in their effort to break from the hold of their traditional culture. And not unlike the wars in Europe, wars within the world of Islam since the 1970s are symptoms of the Muslim struggle to transit into the modern world.

iii.

The abolition of the Caliphate in 1924 was the formal announcement of political Islam’s death. But it refused to die, even as it was laid to rest. Its twitching was felt in the deep dark interior of the world of Islam, in remote and unwelcome places such as Nejd inside Arabia.

Here in Nejd, the medieval theology of Ibn Taymiyyah had struck roots. It had impressed an eighteenth-century itinerant preacher in the region, Abdul Wahhab (1703-92), who turned Ibn Taymiyyah’s extremist thinking into an even more rigid and austere doctrine, hostile to all things inimical to the Bedouin tribal culture of his time and environment.

Abdul Wahhab’s version of political Islam impressed a local tribal chief, and the marriage of convenience between the preacher and the tribal leader gave birth to the first Saudi state in the interior of Arabia. But when it sent tribal warriors to raid towns inside the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, it provoked the Caliph of Islam in Istanbul, on whose orders this nascent state of the Wahhabi ruler was destroyed.

But the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire provided the conditions for the rebirth of the Saudi state as a kingdom under Abdul Aziz ibn Saud in the 1920s. Fortune, in the guise of great power politics, smiled upon him. He seized the support offered by the British, in return for influence in a region of strategic importance. The discovery of oil made the Saudi kingdom a prize to be protected by the Western powers, first Britain and later the United States, with far reaching consequences for the rest of the world, and even more so for the world of Islam and Muslims.

Any modernizing revolution is hugely disruptive. The movement from one stage of social development to another is not linear; it is, instead, filled with zigzags and reversals at every stage of the process toward an uncertain future.

When a people, however, pushes back against this process of change in their midst, or seeks to abort it, this reactionary effort pins its hopes on longing for an idealized past. The Newtonian revolution and the emergence of modern Europe made political Islam anachronistic. Wahhabism, as the official doctrine of the Saudi kingdom, was much more than a return of the most extreme version of political Islam in the early decades of the last century. It was, and remains, a demented effort of the most backward people within the world of Islam to remain culturally tied to antiquity, or jahiliyya (the age of ignorance), which Islam at its origin derided and rejected.

Political Islam in whatever version — Wahhabism, Khomeinism, Ikhwanism (the Muslim Brotherhood) and their derivatives — has no answer for Muslims on how to make their historic transition into the modern world. It can continue to rage against the modern world until its civilized inhabitants, including Muslims, have had enough of its destructiveness and obliterate it.

Then that vision of Abrahamic monotheism, which Muhammad was mysteriously directed to deliver to his people, will be emancipated from political Islam.

This message Muhammad was given admonished Arabs for their lack of faith, provided them with ethics for living honorably, told them in no uncertain term that the God of Abraham made no distinction among nations and people who believe in Him, and that on the Day of Final Reckoning, they need have no fear if they strive in doing what is right.

This is the “other” Islam. This is submission to truth, whose most righteous exemplar was Abraham when his faith was tested by his Deity, according to the Hebrew Bible, to sacrifice his son. And this is the faith of Sufis who took Muhammad’s message to people in places far removed from the desert confines of Arabia. It is simply, as the Qur’an reminds (30:30), deen al-fitrah, the natural religion, or inclination, of man to know his Creator. There is no return of this “other” Islam; it never went missing.

Qatari Educational Software on Islamic Conquests in Europe

April 21, 2016

Qatari Educational Software on Islamic Conquests in Europe, MEMRI-TV via YouTube, April 21, 2016

The blurb following the video states,

Animated videos posted on the Internet teach children about Islamic conquests in Europe. The videos were produced as educational software for “Boys and Girls,” the children’s section of the Qatari government-owned Internet portal Islamweb.net. A large number of the portal’s educational videos were posted on various YouTube accounts. One video discusses the conquest of Al-Andalus, which was “in order to spread the light of Islam.” “This is how Islam entered Al-Andalus, where it built a great civilization,” an animated character says. Another video describes the conquest of Belgrade, “the fortified city that was the pride of Europe.” The videos were posted on the Internet in February 2016.

The Unserious West and the Serious Jihadists

April 15, 2016

The Unserious West and the Serious Jihadists, Front Page MagazineBruce Thornton, April 15, 2016

Obama 0000

The Obama administration and the “nuisance of terrorism.”

Instead of paying the price of aggression, partly because of the Cold War, more recently because of Western failure of nerve and civilizational exhaustion, Muslims have been the beneficiaries of billions in Western aid, Western arms, Western defense against enemies, Western lax immigration policies, Western appeasement, and Western suicidal ideas like cultural and moral relativism. In short, Muslims have never accepted their defeats, and have never experienced the humiliating cost of their aggression, because the modern West has never forced them to pay for it.

*********************************

In Terry Gilliam’s dystopian film-classic Brazil, London is under assault from a 13-year-long terrorist campaign that Londoners won’t stop and so just live with. A bomb goes off in a restaurant, and the waiters scurry to screen off the mangled and dying so survivors can continue eating. When reminded by a journalist that “The bombing campaign is now in it 13th year,” the Deputy Minister laughs, “Beginner’s luck!” The West today is rapidly approaching the surreal insouciance of Gilliam’s fantasy.

Think about Obama, hanging out with head of terror-state Raul Castro at a baseball game during the Brussels attacks that killed 34, including four Americans. Obama told Chris Wallace that the terrorists “win” if we don’t go about our daily business, like the diners in Brazil ordering dessert among the screams and moans of the dying and wounded. After all, ISIS is not an “existential threat,” as the president keeps saying, and more of us die in bathtub falls than are killed by terrorists. Obama apparently thinks he has achieved John Kerry’s goal during the 2004 presidential campaign to reduce terrorism to a “nuisance” like prostitution.

I suppose the absurd security measures we endure every time we board a plane is the sort of “nuisance” Kerry and Obama are talking about. I guess we “win” when we dutifully take off our shoes and coats, put our computers and three ounces of liquids in a tray, and submit to aggressive wanding by surly TSA functionaries. Are such silly measures now part of the daily life we should just get on with? Of course Obama’s attitude is preposterous, and he should know that it is the terrorists who “win” every time an 80-year-old has to endure being felt up by a federal worker. Meanwhile, in breach tests of TSA inspectors in 2015, 95% of fake explosives and contraband sailed through the screening process.

These inefficient and intrusive procedures have been put in place mainly to avoid stigmatizing Muslims. Such obeisance to politically correct proscriptions against “profiling” is just one of the myriad ways in which we tell the jihadist enemy we really aren’t serious about the latest battle in the 14-century-long war of Islam against the infidel West.

Take Obama’s Executive Order 1341, which banned waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” of captured jihadists. Now only those practices in the Army Field Manual can be used to question detainees, despite the fact that the document is public and so jihadists can use it to train terrorists how to resist. Forget that one technique, waterboarding, is legal under U.S. law, and generated actionable intelligence––according to former CIA chief George Tenet, waterboarding a few high-value suspects helped foil over 20 al Qaida plots against the U.S. Those facts cannot outweigh Obama’s need to preen morally and gratify international anti-Americanism.

More recently, his notoriously political CIA director John Brennan displayed once again this administration’s lack of seriousness about the war against Islamic jihad. In 2009 Brennan “corrected” 14 centuries of Islamic scripture, practice, and law by calling jihad a way “to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral good.” Obviously, the most revered Shi’a Islamic theologian, the Ayatollah Khomeini, was wrong when he said, “Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers,” or “Those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.” That’s also the “moral good” for which ISIS wages jihad.

Brennan apparently learned nothing since 2009 about the nature of this war. Responding last week to Donald Trump’s promise to bring back waterboarding of detainees, Brennan huffed that should any president revoke Obama’s executive order and allow waterboarding and other EIT’s, “I will not agree to carry out some of these tactics and techniques I’ve heard bandied about, because this institution needs to endure.” Only someone profoundly unserious about his duty to protect the lives and safety of his fellow citizens would promise to disobey the Commander-in-Chief just so the bureaucracy he oversees can “endure,” whatever that means. The CIA has one job, protecting America’s security and interests, and it will “endure” only by successfully doing so, not by moral exhibitionism.

This lack of seriousness is endemic in this administration. Refusing to call ISIS “Islamic,” even going so far as to censor comments by French president François Hollande that used the word, bespeaks a dangerous frivolity. So too do symbolic tactics like droning an endless parade of ISIS “number twos” instead of committing enough forces and dropping enough bombs to make a strategic difference in the region. Instead, the American-led bombing campaign has averaged a mere seven strikes a day, with 75% of the planes returning with their bombs. Meanwhile Russia was averaging 60 strikes a day, freed from the squeamish rules of engagement that inhibit our forces from taking out an oil truck because it would kill the driver. Obama’s war against ISIS is a symbolic one typical of unserious politicians.

Our problem, however, goes beyond the politicians. Too many of us have failed to understand that this war did not begin on 9/11. It did not begin when al Qaeda declared war on us in the 90s and attacked our embassies and naval vessels. It did not begin in 1979, when our alleged neo-colonialist depredations supposedly sparked the Iranian revolution and created today’s Islamic (N.B., Mr. President) Republic of Iran, the world’s premier state sponsor of terrorism. It did not begin in 1948, when five Arab nations, all but one members of the U.N., violated Resolution 191 and attacked Israel. It did not begin when after World War I the victorious Entente powers exercised mandatory powers, granted by the League of Nations and codified in international treaties, over the territory of the Ottoman Empire that had sided with the Central Powers.

All these acts of aggression were merely the latest in a war begun in the 7th century when Islam attacked the eastern Roman Empire and began its serial dismemberment of the heart of Christendom, the old word for the West. For a thousand years the armies of Allah successfully invaded, conquered, occupied, enslaved, and raided the West, in accordance with its doctrine of jihad in the service of Muslim domination, and in homage to Mohammed’s injunction, “I was told to fight all men until they say there is no god but Allah.” This record of success began to end in the 17th century with the rise of the modern West and its technological, economic, and political advantages.

But the war didn’t end with that Muslim retreat, even after what bin Laden called the “catastrophe” –– the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate, and the division of its territory into Western-style nation-states. The West won that battle, but it did not win the war. One reason is the Muslim nations of the Middle East never suffered the wages of their aggression. They sided with the Central Powers in World War I. They sat out World War II––apart from the many thousands who fought on the side of the Nazis––and received fugitive Nazis as guests after the war. Their serial aggression and terror against Israel has never been repaid with bombed-out capitals or punitive postwar reprisals. Their governments have never been punished for funding and proliferating mosques and madrassas teaching hatred of the infidel and terrorist violence in the service of jihad.

Instead of paying the price of aggression, partly because of the Cold War, more recently because of Western failure of nerve and civilizational exhaustion, Muslims have been the beneficiaries of billions in Western aid, Western arms, Western defense against enemies, Western lax immigration policies, Western appeasement, and Western suicidal ideas like cultural and moral relativism. In short, Muslims have never accepted their defeats, and have never experienced the humiliating cost of their aggression, because the modern West has never forced them to pay for it.

Thus they look at our unserious, godless culture of consumption and frivolity, of self-loathing and guilt, and these serious believers are confident that 350 years of defeat in battle have not led to defeat in the long war. And so the war goes on. The frivolous Western dogs bark, but Allah’s caravan moves on.