Skip to comments.The West's Muslim Allies
Posted on 05/31/2005 4:09:15 AM PDT by rdb3
Leaving Islam can be hazardous. Apostasy is a capital crime in a number of Islamic countries. But even in elite conservative circles in the United States, there is a tendency to dismiss or at least ignore some important former Muslims who have a lot to teach us about their former faith, as we face an era in which a religious war on the West has been declared by radical Islam.
Two years ago, following a modest Washington, DC area reception celebrating the release of Leaving Islam, a compilation of Ibn Warraq's own brilliant essays, and poignant, harrowing testimonials from other ex-Muslim apostates, I received a disturbing communication from a former admirer and supporter of Warraqs work (particularly the seminal, Why I Am Not A Muslim) who attended the same event.
This individual dismissed Warraqs unique and important collection on apostasy in Islam, because Warraq (and by extension, all Muslim apostates) was (were), no longer in the game. It was astonishing to hear such a glib assessment from a conservative intellectual and self-appointed doyen (subsequently, government-appointed) examining Islamic terrorism. The pernicious effect of this mindsetapparently quite pervasive among the lemming-like denizens of the most influential Washington, DC area conservative think tankswas reinforced during Warraqs dismissive small audience (composed entirely of self-important, self-appointed doyens) at perhaps the pre-eminent Institute of this ilk. Ayaan Hirsi Alis rise to prominence as an openly avowed Muslim apostate Parliamentarian in the Netherlandsboth before, and most decidedly after the murder of her colleague, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Goghdemonstrates that it is completely misguided to dismiss the profound intellectual and sociopolitical contributions courageous apostates can make to both the public discourse, and specific policy initiatives, regarding Islam.
Four recently published interviews (here, here, here and here) of Somalia-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali provide an informative overview of her evolutionfrom a teenage Islamic school-educated supporter of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, to an asylum-seeking refugee in the Netherlands in her early 20s (in 1992), and now, a courageous Dutch Parliamentarian (since January 2003) dedicated to the defense of the core Western values (i.e., such as true freedom of conscience) embodied in modern human rights constructs.
Shortly after completing her studies in political science at Leiden University, Hirsi Ali was hired as a researcher for the Dutch Labor Party, and assigned to write a brief on immigration. She stunned her Labor colleagues by making blunt recommendations that were a frontal assault on established multicultural taboos: shut down all 41 Islamic schools; curb immigration; and radically alter Article 23 of the Dutch constitution (which embraced the multicultural orthodoxy by sanctioning the creation of separate schools and cultural institutions for distinct religious groups).
Disillusioned with the Dutch left, Hirsi Ali joined the opposition VVD party in 2002, and by September 2002, also publicly apostasized from Islaman action which precipitated death threats against her. Ibn Warraq's unique compilation and analysis of apostate testimonies highlights the courage of such a public declaration:
" for a free discussion of Islam remains rare and dangerous, certainly in the Islamic world, and even in our politically correct times in the West Apostasy is still punishable by long prison sentences and even death in many Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Iran...."
The fact that Hirsi Ali's declaration elicited murderous threats in the Netherlandsin the heart of Western Europewhere, as Warraq notes,
" one talks of being a lapsed Catholic or nonpracticing Christian rather than an 'apostate.' [and] There are certainly no penal sanctions for converting from Christianity to any superstitious flavor of the month, from New Ageism to Islam...."
underscores the serious erosion of Europe's core values under its new Islamized Eurabian sociopolitical ethos.
Combining lucid intellectual and experience-based understanding with rare valor, uncompromised by politically correct apologetics, Hirsi Ali has made explicit the threat that orthodox Islam (as she stated, The problem is the Prophet and the Koran )not Islamismposes to the Western civilization she has come to cherish, and staunchly defend. She identifies the core Muslim textsKoran, hadith, siratheir codification into Islamic Law (i.e., Shari'a), and the orthodox interpretation of this sacralized literature by seminal Muslim juristsnoting Ibn Taymiyya's pure Islamic exegesis, specificallyas being responsible for the incompatibility between Islamic and Western values. In particular, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, versus the Shari'a-based Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam (Cairo, 1990).
The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam included the triumphal statement that the Shari'a has primacy over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the specific proclamation that God has made the umma (Islamic community) the best nation, whose role is to guide humanity. This formulation captures the indelible influence of the uniquely Islamic institutions of jihad and dhimmitude on the Shari'a, rendering sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah, and the infidelsreiterated in the Cairo Declaration.
Hirsi Alis response to the standard non-sequitur apologetic about the putative existence of, different Islams, is unequivocal:
"No that is an erroneous idea . If one defines Islam as the religion founded by Muhammad and explained by the Koran and later by hadiths, there is only one Islam that dictates the moral framework."
Finally, she concludes that true reform of Islam, to render it compatible with modern human rights standards, must include criticism of both its core sacred text, and founder:
"You cannot liberalize Islam without criticizing the Prophet and the Koran You cannot redecorate a house without entering inside."
As a VVD Parliamentarian since 2002, Hirsi Alis major legislative focus has been on womens issues: drawing up legislation, which was subsequently enacted, to improve enforcement of the statute against female genital mutilation [a practice sanctioned by hadith]; working to assure better enforcement of laws protecting women from honor killings, a particular problem among Turkish Muslim immigrants in Europe; and drafting a position paper about the economic integration of women. Her outspoken positions on matters apart from womens issues include: urging intensive oversight of new Muslim schools before they are accredited; supporting the US-lead coalitions invasion of Iraq; and raising sober concerns about Turkeys candidacy for EU membership (which she characterizes as a big gamble for Europeans).
It is quite illuminating to juxtapose Hirsi Alis unapologetic arguments, and her concrete legislative agenda based upon those principles, with the views and achievements of moderate Muslims championed by U.S. media and policymaking elites, across the political spectrum. Four prominent examples will suffice.
Conservative elites have promoted, most notably, Suleyman Ahmad Stephen Schwartz [SASS] and Khaleel Muhammad [KM], while liberal elites have embraced Irshad Manji [IM] and Khaled Abou El Fadl [KAEF]. Despite certain disagreements between them, what these individuals unfortunately share is a persistent avoidance or absolute denial of the need to challenge and alter institutions intrinsic to Islamto the Sharia. Instead, they blame so-called distorted interpretations of a theological-juridical system they deem completely compatible with modern human rights constructs, and normal international and inter-communal relations. The logical conclusion of their arguments is the absurd notion that jihad war, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude (which only IM of the four moderates even acknowledges, albeit fleetingly) are distortions of basic Islamic dogma.
Below, I have summarized a series of their specific views on critical issues. The dismaying opinions range from denying altogether, to ignoring or trivializing:
Jihad war- denied (KAEF); ignored/trivialized (SASS, KM); trivialized (IM)
Dhimmitude- denied (KAEF, SASS, KM); trivialized (IM)
Acknowledgement of specific Judenhass motifs in Islam, i.e., from Koranic and other sacred text sources, and/or Islamic Law: denied (KAEF, SASS, KM); ignored (IM)
Incompatibility of the Sharia with modern human rights constructs: denied by KAEF who endorses the Sharia as a model under which all human beings should live!; ignored (SASS, KM, IM)
Views on Europes Islamization, and the Eurabia phenomenon: All four imply or state explicitly that the mere discussion of this matter is tantamount to racism. IM favors continued mass Muslim immigration into Europe and blames their lack of assimilation on European xenophobia. She completely ignores the role of irredentist Islamic preceptspromoted in many of these Muslim immigrant communitieswhich direct believers not to assimilate within societies outside the jurisdiction of Sharia law.
Moreover, while constantly engaged in self-promotional activities, the four enlightened moderate Muslim reformers conspicuously avoided involving themselves in any substantive way with these noble efforts:
The broad coalition to raise awareness of, and opposition to, the jihad genocide and mass enslavement of black South Sudanese Christians and animists, by the Muslim Arab Khartoum government, from 1983-2002.
Opposition to the 1990 Cairo Declaration (i.e, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam), particularly, its threat to article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting freedom of conscience
Opposition to the establishment of Sharia courts in Canada
In stark contrast, despite repeated death threats which mandate 24-hour protection, clandestine living arrangements, and a virtually non-existent social life, Hirsi Ali remains, as described aptly by journalist Christopher Caldwell ,
" a democracy campaigner for whom the role of an ordinary democratic citizen is off limits Hers is a big heroic life that moves her fellow citizens but now gets lived mostly in locked rooms and bulletproof cars."
Hirsi Ali, condemned Muslim apostate, and intrepid politician committed to maintaining the democratic vitality of her adopted Dutch society, epitomizes the powerful, effective voice Ibn Warraq foresaw in Leaving Islam. Recalling The God that Failed, a collection of testimonial essays by ex-Communist intellectuals and their warnings about the all-encompassing oppression of body and spirit intrinsic to Soviet-style Communism, Warraq noted that the accounts of these ex-Communist Cassandras appeared eerily similar to the ex-Muslim apostates whose testimonies he had compiled. Warraq concluded,
"Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy. And these ex-Muslims on the side of Western Democracy, are the only ones who know what it is all about, and we would do well to listen to their Cassandra cries."
Hirsi Alis practical efforts in the Netherlands mirror the strategies outlined by Warraq in a thoughtful essay about reform (somewhat ironically) of Middle Eastern Muslim societies. She clearly shares the unapologetic views about the obstacles to such reform presented by Islam itself, which Warraq characterized as follows:
"There are some (I believe, misguided) liberal Muslims who deny any such transformation is necessary, that Islam need not be marginalized for liberty to flourish. These liberals often argue that the real Islam is compatible with liberal democracy, that the real Islam is feminist, that the real Islam is egalitarian, that the real Islam tolerates other religions and beliefs, and so on. They then proceed to some truly creative re-interpretation of the embarrassing, intolerant and misogynist verses of the Koran. But intellectual honesty demands that we reject just such dishonest tinkering with the Korans text, which, while it may be open to some re-interpretation, is not infinitely elastic. The truth is there is no real difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism - at most there is a difference of degree, but not of kind. There are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. All the tenets of so-called Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith - the defining texts of Islam - and elaborated in intimate detail by the classical Muslim jurists from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, as well as by Shiite jurists. The only solution is to bring the questions of human rights out of the religious sphere and into the sphere of the civil state, in other words to separate religion from the state and promote a secular state where Islam is relegated to the personal. Here, Islam would continue to provide consolation, comfort, and meaning, as it has to millions of individuals for centuries, yet it would not decree the mundane affairs of state."
It is also apparent from her own statements and actions that Hirsi Ali agrees with Warraqs assessment, summarized below, about the crucial need to encourage scholarly criticism of the Koran, in particular, and more generally, to promote secular education emphasizing critical thought:
"First, we who live in the free West and enjoy freedom of expression and scientific inquiry should encourage a rational look at Islam, should encourage Koranic criticism. Only Koranic criticism can help Muslims to look at their Holy Scripture in a more rational and objective way, and prevent young Muslims from being fanaticized by the Korans less tolerant verses. It does not make sense to lament the lack of a reformation in Islam, and at the same time boycott books like Why I am Not A Muslim nor to cry 'Islamophobia' (or 'fatwah!') every time a critique of Islam is offered. Instead, political leaders, journalists and even scholars are bent on protecting the tender sensibilities of the Muslims. We are not doing Islam any favors by protecting it from Enlightenment values. We can encourage rationality by secular education. This will mean the closing of religious madrassas where young children from poor families learn only the Koran by heart, learn the doctrine of Jihad - learn , in short, to be fanatics What kind of education? My priority would be the wholesale rewriting of school texts, which at present preach intolerance of non-Muslims, particularly Jews. One hopes that education will encourage critical thinking and rationality. Again to encourage pluralism, I should like to see the glories of pre-Islamic history taught to all children."
Finally, we should consider this insightful warning from another Muslim secularist, Professor Reza Afshari, the pre-eminent historian of the human rights tragedy engendered by Irans return to its theocratic roots, after a 50-year hiatus, in 1979:
"What we have from liberal Muslims today are only ideological claims punctuated by expressed good intentions. A sector of the traditional custodians of religion, the ulema, politicizing Islam did come to power[in Iran]; therefore it is logical to assume what we faced in the 1980s and 1990s was the result of Shiite Islam (at least an authentic version of it) injecting itself into the politics of a contemporary state. They created a record of what the `culturally authentic' rulers did
The issue is not Islam as a private faith of individuals. It is about what state officials claiming Islamic authority might have to say about the state's treatment of citizens."
As President Bush has said repeatedly, we're not at war with Islam. We're at war with a certain radical branch of Islam, a branch which not only targets us, but moderate and even conservative Islam as well.
Indeed, the radicals who are our enemies are trying to drive a wedge between us and their Islamic targets. The selection of predominantly Saudi citizens for the 9/11 attacks reflects this. As a secondary goal of the attacks, Al Qaeda hoped to make the US suspicious of the Saudis. While this failed at a governmental level, it has had some success among our general population.
Islam has many faults and has a couple centuries of growing up to do. But right now, most Muslims are our allies against those who seek to distill the faith into its worst and most regressive tendencies.
There's no amount of "growing up" that can fix the fundamental fact of Islam being established on hostility to all other ways of life. We have no true Muslim allies, by the very definition of what it means to be Muslim. All we have are apostates and heretics, and those who will temporarily work with us in order to gain advantage over another adversary.
Nonsense, that statement could have been made about communism, i.e. we're not at war with communism. We're at war with a certain radical branch of communism or we're not at war with nazism. We're at war with a certain radical branch of nazism.
It neglects the fact that we are at war with an ideology that has changed little since the time of Mohamed. We would not have made such ridiculous statements about communism or nazism. Why do we therefore fall into the trap of making them about Islam?
I have no way of knowing whether that is true, other than having to invest maybe 10,000 hours studying the Qur'an and Muslim culture before I can form an educated opinion as to whether or not it is the Religion of Peace.
Frankly, I have better things to do with my time, and I resent that Muslim fanaticism has placed the burden on ME to undertake such a project.
Before 9-11, I didn't know that much about Islam, because it never interested me, although I spent a few years studying Buddhism and also took an interest in Hinduism. I always thought Islam was maybe a little weird, and definitely not my thing, but I figured "live and let live."
Since 9-11, I have grudgingly and resentfully accepted the necessity for learning more about Islam purely as a matter of survivial -- my own survival, that of my family, and that of my beloved America.
And I have to tell you -- the more I have learned, the more I have become appalled. If the proof is in the pudding, then a look around the planet at the poverty, terrorism, brutal injustice and ignorance that prevails in virtually every Muslim society is all the proof I need that Islam is no force for good in this world.
If Islam has any redeeming qualities whatsoever, they have yet to be revealed to me.
I know that there have been a small handful of Muslims that have publicly registered their objection to the homicidal cultish violence that has become the public face of Islam. But based on what I have seen, these individuals are only a teeny, tiny minority. They are the 1% that has been given a bad name by the other 99%.
I can understand why Bush must publicly state that we are not at war with Islam. If I were him, I would make the same statement purely as a pragmatic policy. But that's just politics. What has become abundantly clear is that the world would be much more peaceful and far more better off if Islam went away tomorrow, and if its practitioners did, in fact, convert to some other religion.
Muslims are our allies against those who seek to distill the faith into its worst and most regressive tendencies.
Islam is, above all, a militant political organization whose goal is the subjugation of the world. Make no mistake about it.
Just follow the achievments this so called "religion" proudly reveals for us every day (repeat,every day!) in horrifying acts of inhumanity.
Sophistry and excuses can't hide this fact.
A wolf in sheep's clothing is always a wolf and should be seen as such.
There's no amount of "growing up" that can fix the fundamental fact of Islam being established on hostility to all other ways of life. We have no true Muslim allies, by the very definition of what it means to be Muslim. All we have are apostates and heretics, and those who will temporarily work with us in order to gain advantage over another adversary.Most religious faiths, in principle, consider non-adherents to be second class citizens at best. Most grow up over time. With the exception of terrorism (a relatively recent innovation in and of itself) there is little Islam has done that other faiths have not done. We had riots over the translation of the Bible as recently as the 19th century even in the US.
Nonsense, that statement could have been made about communism, i.e. we're not at war with communism. We're at war with a certain radical branch of communism or we're not at war with nazism. We're at war with a certain radical branch of nazism.Naziism was a branch of fascism, and we weren't at war with Franco. Near the end of the Cold War China, while never renouncing communism, was our ally.
Nor is terrorism a new phenomenon; Mohammad himself practiced it (read the Koran). Muslims have been engaged in it for as long as there have been Muslims - the United States fought its first post-revolutionary war against the very same (War against the Barbary States, 1802).
That the most recent example you can find in another religion dates back two centuries should throw in stark relief the savagery and barbarity that is Islam. Islam remains savage and barbaric not because it is simply awaiting reform or maturity, but rather because it demands such behavior from its followers.
Don't fool yourself. Islam is not just another religion. It is a totalitarian creed little different from Nazism and Communism, and every bit the mortal threat to the free people of the world.
I have no way of knowing whether that is true, other than having to invest maybe 10,000 hours studying the Qur'an and Muslim culture before I can form an educated opinion as to whether or not it is the Religion of Peace.The US government has people working time on analyzing Islam and the various Islamic nations. Yet our President (who most of us here trust) not only emphatically denies that we are at war with Islam, but backs his views up with policies and actions. In addition, impeccably credentialed conservatives from Tom Clancy to Grover Norquist insist that Islam is not our enemy.
I repeat: If Islam has any redeeming qualities whatsoever, they have yet to be revealed to me.
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