The Fault in Our Islam: A Clash of Civilizations
By Pepe Lewis
EGYPT, 1956 — A woman organizes several small children into a line to greet Gamal Abdel Nasser, the President of Egypt. Lt. General Mustafa Hafez, head of Egyptian Military Intelligence in Gaza and commander of the Fedayeen — a left-wing Islamic nationalist terrorist organization — has been killed by the Israeli army.
In an operation planned by Israeli military intelligence officer Yehoshafat Harkabi, a parcel filled with explosives was mailed to Hafez. This is his funeral. These are his children, his wife, and his dear friend, President Nasser.
“Which one of you will avenge your father’s blood by killing Jews?”, President Nasser asks the children. Nonie Darwish was only eight years-old when she and her siblings were asked to become martyrs for their father, the man who had been launching Fedayeen — ”Fedayeen” literally translates as, ‘to give up oneself for jihad’ — raids across Israel’s southern border for five years.
These raids claimed the lives of hundreds of Israeli civilians. For a time, Nonie felt compelled to pick up the sword and avenge her father, she had become the daughter of a heroic shahid — ”shahid” denoting those who die waging jihad — and the call to jihad seemed inexorable. In her memoirs she has described the darkness that enveloped her youth,
I always blamed israel for my father’s death, because that’s what i was taught. I never looked at why israel killed my father. They killed my father because the fedayeen were killing israelis. They killed my father because when i was growing up, we had to recite poetry pledging jihad against israel. We would have tears in our eyes, pledging that we wanted to die [as martyrs].
Nonie was raised the way most children are in the Islamic world, singing songs of “Arabs are our friends, the Jews are our dogs,” in the schoolyard. The children were told that Jews like to murder pregnant Arab women for fun, to see if it is a boy or a girl. Children were warned, “Don’t take any candy or fruit from a stranger. It could be a Jew trying to poison you.”
Against the odds, Nonie found her way out of the desert. She has become a vociferous critic of the ideology that robbed her of her childhood and an opponent of the indoctrination children face under Islamic fundamentalism.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same, and Egypt is no better off today than it was when Nonie was a child.
Born in 1989 to a middle class Arab Muslim family in Cairo, Egypt, Hussein Aboubakr participated in the Egyptian revolution before leaving the country. His departure spurred on when the Egyptian government persecuted him for advocating peace with Israel. Aboubakr says for PragerU,
Growing up, I was told, among many other things, the following: that every day that passes on the islamic nation without a caliphate is a sin. That the failures and miseries of the muslim world started the moment we muslims gave up conquests and wars against the infidels. That our prosperity depended on conquering new lands and converting new believers. That anyone who leaves the faith must die. And I also remember how my teachers and my mosque imams reacted to the news of 9/11 when it happened: joy.
The stories of Nonie and Hussein are commonplace in the Islamic world, because this is the reality of an ideology which has remained largely unchanged since its inception, 1,400 years ago.
Where Are the Moderate Muslims?
Our perception of a “moderate” religious adherent is largely shaped by Judeo-Christian Western culture; the presumption is that a moderate is someone who understands the importance of separating church from state, while observing forgiveness and tolerance as the most important tenets of faith. Westerners essentially consider Muslims “moderate” when they do not overtly advocate or partake in violent jihad; but the desires, beliefs, and priorities of so-called moderate Muslims around the world should be alarming to unbelievers.
The Pew Research Center found that 86 percent of Egyptians, 82 percent of Jordanians, 79 percent of Afghanis, 76 percent of Pakistanis, and 62 percent of Malaysians approve of the death penalty for apostates—those who leave Islam. In 17 of the 23 countries surveyed, half of Muslims say Sharia law is the “revealed word of God.” The study found that Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia overwhelmingly believe that Sharia should be the law of the land — in Islam a government is only legitimate if it abides by Islamic law.
In Germany, the Berlin Social Science Center found 60 percent of surveyed Muslims believe that a “return to the roots of Islam” is paramount, 75 percent of Muslims accepted “only one interpretation of the Koran,” and 65 percent viewed “religious rules… more important” than domestic laws of Western countries.
Indeed, the Pew Research Center found that Muslims who are more devout are more likely to believe that sharia is the revealed word of Allah: Again, level of religious commitment makes a big difference in attitudes about the implementation of sharia. Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely than those who pray less frequently to favor Islamic law as the official law of the land.
Muslims who are most likely to favor Islamic law as institutional law are Palestinians, Lebanese, Moroccans, Tunisians, and Syrians. 50 percent of Turkish believe that Islamic law should apply to both Muslims and non-Muslims, while 74 percent of the refugees coming from Syria are of the Shafi’i sect of Sunnism.
The Shafi’i school of Islamic thought is one of the oldest, it rejects reformist Muslims and insists that only the Koran, Hadith, and Sira have legitimacy in governing the lives of Muslims. Shafi’i rejects that humans are able to reinterpret Islamic law without corrupting it, so any theological conflict found in the Koran is resolved by pointing to the Hadith or the Sira — effectively guaranteeing fundamentalism.
According to another German study, Muslime In Deutschland, 60 percent of Muslims reject homosexuals as friends, 47 percent said that religious adherence is more important than democracy, 47 percent stated Islamic law is more important than German law, and 45 percent said Jews cannot be trusted.
In the U.K., ICM Research surveyed more than 100,000 Muslims, finding only 34 percent of British Muslims would contact the police if they suspected someone close to them of becoming a jihadist, 23 percent of Muslims believed Islamic law should supersede domestic law, 52 percent believed homosexuality should be outlawed, 35 percent believe that it is acceptable to have more than one wife, and 35 percent expressed that Jewish people have too much power in the UK.
In the United States, a survey by the Center for Security Policy (CSP) revealed that there are at least 300,000 U.S. Muslims who openly express they should not be subjected to the laws of the United States, believing Islamic law (sharia) should govern their communities in America. They believe sharia is, “The Muslim God Allah’s law that Muslims must follow and impose worldwide by Jihad.”
The CSP reports, “Nearly one-fifth of Muslim respondents said that the use of violence in the United States is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in this country.” Adding that “nearly a quarter of the Muslims polled believed that, ‘It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.’”
Perhaps most disconcertingly, these studies show Islamic fundamentalism — observance of the regressive, inhumane aspects of Islam — transcends class, education, and age. Of course, the narrative preaches that poverty and a lack of education place Muslims on a track for Islamism, but the reality is much different.
Afterall, the 9/11 attackers came from middle class families and were educated in Hamburg, Germany. The Muslim who murdered Vincent Van Gogh’s descendent for criticisizing Islam in a documentary with Ayaan Hirsi Ali was raised in the Netherlands, having received a free college education and lifelong government support. More recently, the Muslim man who killed four in London had been employed as an English professor. Haroon Ullah, a senior State Department advisor and foreign policy professor at Georgetown University, says for PragerU,
Many of those that I met who subscribe to religious extremism — and are prepared to murder and die for their cause — are from the middle class; and many had a university education. These are not poor people and these are not uneducated people. They are well fed and well read.
Ullah asserts the narrative of victimhood is one of the most potent recruitment tools for Muslims, as it serves to isolate and entrench them further in the ideology.
With those figures considered, it is obvious that not all Muslims are “Islamists” — those who employ or overtly condone violent jihad — but all Islamists are Muslims. In the context of jihad, the least well understood form is “dawa”, or non-violent, political jihad. Somali-born politician, activist, and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes for the Hoover Institution,
The term “dawa” refers to activities carried out by islamists to win adherents and enlist them in a campaign to impose sharia law on all societies. Dawa is not the islamic equivalent of religious proselytizing, although it is often disguised as such by blending humanitarian activities with subversive political activities.
Dawa is a form of “political Islam”, or a well-disguised campaign “to reject any kind of distinction between religion and politics, mosque and state,” through cultural and political subversion, as Ayaan puts it.
Dawa calls Muslims deeper into Islamic doctrine, compelling them to be more devout, true to historical teachings of Islam, and this breeds fundamentalism — insistence that Islamic law is the only truth and the only way a government can legitimately rule.
Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within, the use of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what gleichschaltung (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the national socialists.
In the 1960s, I would point to the Brotherhood of Islam, today we have Operation Trojan Horse and Linda Sarsour, the co-founder of the Women’s March that called for fire and brimstone against perceived oppressors in July, “I hope that… when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad.”
In response to apologists who would defend or attempt to reinterpret the definition of jihad, Lee Smith writes for Tablet, “The reality is that the debate over Islamic semantics has already been resolved — not in American newsrooms or the partisan halls of US politics, but on the killing fields of the Middle East.” Adding that the definition of jihad has been established by the “people who are cutting each other’s heads off on both sides of the sectarian divide across Syria and Iraq, crucifying civilians, making sex slaves of women and children, and indulging in other inhuman depredations, have justified the murder of their co-religionists and others according to the logic of jihad.”
We can be thankful that Sarsour is overtly engaging in political jihad, because it is a confirmation of every warning that has gone unheeded or shrugged of as “Islamophobia.” “You’ll know when you’re living under Shariah law if suddenly all your loans and credit cards become interest-free. Sound nice, doesn’t it?” Tweeted Sarsour in May 2015.
In 2014, a plot that become known as “Operation Trojan Horse” was uncovered in Birmingham, England. The objective was to introduce Islamist ethos through a “sustained, co-ordinated agenda” in over 21 secular schools. An investigation revealed that children and staff in targeted schools were subjected to anti-Western rhetoric, particularly anti-US and anti-Israel; dividing the world into us and them, with them to include all non-Muslims and other Muslims who disagree; perception of a worldwide conspiracy against Muslims; attempts to impose its views and practices upon others; and intolerance of difference of the secular, other religions or other Muslims.
An Islamist campaign 20 years in the making spearheaded by Tahir Alam, former chairman of the Park View Educational Trust in Birmingham, who was revealed to have written a 72-page document for the Muslim Council of Britain — a blueprint for the “Islamisation” of secular state schools.
Though the government and media attempted to play down the impact of political Islam in Birmingham, the city has become the de facto haven for jihadis in England, where more than 1 in 5 residents declare Islam their religion. This is testament to the effectiveness and danger of political jihad.
In the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently called for the destruction of so-called “racist” monuments. What could a declared terrorist organization (with close ties to Obama) possibly have to gain from a civically divide United States?
We are witnessing political jihad in action, actively working to undermine the culture and institutions of the Western world under the guise of social justice. This is what reformist Muslims, like Imam Tawhidi, and ex-Muslims, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, have been trying to warn us about, but the mainstream has shrugged them off, labeling brave souls like Ayaan as “anti-Muslim extremists.”
But why politics and warfare over proselytizing? Why does increased devoutness to doctrine correlate with Islamism? A look at the history of Islam and its doctrinal content is instructive.
In Mecca, the Prophet Mohammed managed to attract a whopping 150 followers through proselytizing, or simply preaching Islam, during the first 13 years that Islam existed. After Mohammed settled in Medina, he involved himself in politics and became a warlord, politics and jihad subsequently grew the number of Muslims at a rate of 10,000 per year. By the time the Prophet died, virtually every Arab was a Muslim. As Dr. Bill Warner for the Center for the Study of Political Islam says, “Mohammed succeeded through politics, not religion.”
A statistical analysis of Islamic doctrine by Dr. Bill Warner shows us that in the Sira, a biography of the Prophet’s life, there are five-times more words devoted to politics than there are to preaching Islam in a given year, as well there are more pages devoted to a year of jihad than there are to preaching Islam in total. 37 percent of the Hadith — a guide to living life the way Allah’s most perfect follower, Mohammed, did — is dedicated to dealing with those outside of Islam.
Moreover, the practice of abrogation — when Islamic verses conflict, the later one is considered legitimate — has engraved the political and jihadist aspects of Islam, because the ideology transitioned from relatively peaceful (during the first decade or so of Islam in Mecca), to highly politicized and imperialistic.
Brave New World
Peace with Islam does not rest on the shoulders of Western tolerance, the answer will be found in the voices of those who have lived under the shadow of Islam. Westerners should amplify the voices of people like Nonie Darwish, Imam Tawhidi, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, because as long as the West continues to insist that Islam is the religion of peace for the sake of political correctness, Islam will never reform; the safety of reformist Muslims will be threatened all over the world and jihad will become normalized in the West.
A clash of civilizations is at hand with Islam, but the West refuses to pick up the shield, not even to defend Muslim reformists, or itself. In Nonie’s words,
The lesson america needs to learn is that the west is not doing muslims (especially the reformists) a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality. Muslims need to know that the world does indeed have a justifiable and legitimate concern about islam and actions done in the name of islam by muslims. Muslims need to look at themselves in the mirror and see the world from the point of view of their victims. Instead, the west is sacrificing its culture, values, laws, pride and even self-respect. Muslim culture needs a wake-up call telling them that, sooner or later, non-muslim nations will close their doors to any kind of Muslim immigration if the jihad culture continues. That will also be a strong message to muslims already in the west who still believe in jihad. The Muslim people are hungry for the truth: that their educational system and mosque preaching are full of incitement, abhorrent, hate-filled and the foundation upon which violent jihad is built. The Islamic commandment to do jihad sacrifices Muslim men, women and children to kill and get killed.