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Islam Vs. Islamism: A Case for Wishful Thinkers

A rebuttal to Daniel Pipes' Washington Times op-ed on the question of "moderate Islam."

by
Walid Shoebat

Bio

May 18, 2013 - 1:01 pm

“Our killer question is ‘How do you propose to defeat Islamism?’ Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it.”

This is what historian and Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks in his recent Washington Times article.

To support his argument, Pipes makes an unsubstantiated claim that a majority of Muslims are moderate and that Islamism is only,

supported by 10-15 percent of Muslims…

So how and why did he come up with such numbers? Pipes uses different studies and surveys about which he himself confesses: “These ambiguous and contradictory percentages lead to no clear, specific count of Islamists.” Why then use such statistics? It is only to serve the major argument he made in my first paragraph.

And there are more “confessions.” Pipes writes: “Out of a quantitative mish-mash, I suggested just three days after 9/11 that some 10-15 percent of Muslims are determined Islamists.” This is in itself contradictory and is even absolutely nonsense mathematically as he clearly admits. To further support this conservative number, Pipes adds:

 Indonesian survey and election results led R. William Liddle and Saiful Mujani in 2003 to conclude that the number of Islamists “is no more than 15 percent of the total Indonesian Muslim population.”

He did this while he ignored his other statement:

In contrast, a 2008 survey of 8,000 Indonesian Muslims by Roy Morgan Research found 40 percent of Indonesians favoring hadd criminal punishments (such as cutting off the hands of thieves) and 52 percent favoring some form of Islamic legal code.

So here we have 52% of Indonesians are extremists, not 15%.

Yet even that doesn’t determine the correct percentages to separate Muslims from Islamists. To say that “views on 9/11″ or “supporting Hadd” (Islamic punishment) is the yardstick to measure the percentages is also absurd and mathematically false. What if a Muslim doesn’t support 9/11 or Hadd but supports the idea that it takes two women in a court of law to equal the testimony of a man? Will Pipes count him as a moderate Muslim or an extremist Islamist? If he chooses “moderate,” then Pakistan got it right. No matter what Pipes chooses, it debunks all his unsubstantiated claims about moderate Islam.

What if a Muslim couldn’t care less about Sharia, jihad, and 9/11, yet he kills his sister for marrying a Jew? Is he a “Muslim” or is he an “Islamist”?

And what if we even use terrorism as a yardstick as Pipes prefers; in Saudi Arabia and across the Muslim world, you have many who do not support al-Qaeda. Are these then counted as moderates? In Pipes’ view the answer is “yes.” But this is false. Last week I had an exchange with Sheikh Faisal Al-Harbi, who chastised me on such issues,stating that his clan (Al-Harbi) would not support terrorism. Indeed, on his clan’s official website they denounce al-Qaeda, adding:

Jihad for the sake of Allah is to go to war with the infidels and the polytheists to remove these and enforce Unitarianism. That is after inviting them to Islam and they reject the invitation (Da’wa). This Jihad is then organized and supervised by the Imam.

That cannot be placed in the moderate Islam camp. In light of this and my other arguments, Pipes’ percentages are escalating dramatically.

The true number for Islamists is 100%. Here, let me add more beef to my claim. What if a Muslim denounces today’s jihad, sharia, Islamic state and all? Is he then moderate?

Hardly. The Muslims who take this position take it by claiming that only the Khalifa or the Mahdi can establish these. Take Hisham Kabbani, for example, a Sufi Muslim scholar whose photo Pipes posted.

Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis.

Nonsense. Kabbani is Sufi and is in fact a Mahdist as all Sufi Muslims are. In his work Approach of Armageddon (page 231), he writes of an entire invasion of Israel and believes as Ahmadinejad does:

Hadith indicate that black flags coming from the area of Khorasan [Iran] will signify [that] the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh.

The “black flags” from “Iran” mean the end of Pipes. Just name the Sufi scholar and I can usually find their Arabic writings and prove they are moderate for the time being. Sheikh Maulana Nazeem Kibrisi, another major Sufi scholar, was found in Turkish speaking with the fervor of Adolf Hitler (watch here). Kibrisi was no small-time Sufi either; in a speech given in Germany to Turkish students, with tens of thousands gathered – including then-prime minister-to-be Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Erbakan of the Refah Islamist party – Kibrisi is found saying:

Glory and blessing to the Lord of the two worlds who is the cause of these days. Definitely, the victory belongs to Islam. This flood of people here is a sign of the rise of the glorious Islam. Do they not think that this a great sign? When the great sign appears [Mahdi] the world will shake. Our forefathers made the earth tremble. This gathering is a memento from our forefathers… You are the grand sons of the Ottomans who will make the world tremble again. If the Ottomans do not come back the unbelievers will never be brought down to their knees…history is made of recurrences, certainly our glorious era has come, the day being born belongs to Islam…as long as we have Allah we do not need America, nor do we need the unbelievers in Europe, nor do we need the unbelievers nor will we go their path.

What about Al-Ghazali, the famous theologian, philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism whom the eminent W. M. Watt describes as “acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Mohammed, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity”? Scholars like Pipes know the truth, yet completely ignore it. Al-Ghazali said:

One must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year… one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…. If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book—Jews and Christians, typically] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked.… One may cut down their trees/…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…they may steal as much food as they need.

Pipes even went as low to claim that Muhammad was a “Muslim not an Islamist” and even distinguished him since, “Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology.”

By switching Muhammad from “Islamist” to “Muslim, Pipes must then answer a crucial question: is Islam defined by Mr. Pipes? Islam is defined as “Al-Islamu deen wa dawla” (“Islam is a religion and a state”). Pipes then must remove the “and” to substantiate his false case.

Then Pipes makes even more blunders:

Islamism relies heavily on conspiracy theories to interpret the world, on the state to advance its ambitions, and on brutal means to attain its goals.

All this from an historian who ignores that much of Islam, including the Quran, the Hadith and Islamic history, is littered with “conspiracy theories” in order “to advance its ambitions” by “brutal means.”

So here is my answer to Mr. Pipes’ question: We will fight Islam with the bible, history, our Constitution, and our laws and even militarily if we must, while working with any Muslim to bring them on our side of the fence, including terrorists. I was one myself. We will not do this by creating an end that justifies the means. Pipes insists we provide a solution, which according to him is only done by mischaracterizing the problem at hand, which is: it’s Islam, stupid, and it’s 100% all the Muslims that believe in it. To add more from history — Mr. Pipes’ favorite subject — Islam was defeated when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled. And in those times, they didn’t use Pipes’ strategy of differentiating between Islam and Islamism. Sir Winston Churchill said:

Mohammedanism [Islam] is a militant and proselytizing faith.

Is Pipes wiser then Churchill?

I rest my case.

*****

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Top Rated Comments   
I stole this from somebody here; it bears repeating.
A radical Muslim wants to kills us.
A moderate Muslim wants the radical Muslims to kill us.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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Dr. Pipes speaks only from an academic point of view - and an extremely cautious one at that. Mr. Shoebat speaks from first hand KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE as a former Muslim and a former Muslim fundamentalist at that? Who are you going to believe? An academician from Philly, or an Arab ex-Muslim from the Middle East? Mr. Shoebat is in the real world. Dr. Pipes is in dream land. Islam and Islamism are the same. One only needs to read about Muhammad and his actions to understand this.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I can make this a lot more simple when it comes to how Muslims operate. Look at the annual Islamic Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. Christians, some admittedly provocative but others not, were stoned, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and physically abused.

Every one of those acts is on youtube. Now, imagine if that had happened in an Islamic country. If Muslims hunker down like that even in America, there is little doubt where terrorists derive their authority and imperatives from: it is the Islamic community as a whole.

That festival has been canceled for at least this year. If Muslims had been tolerant and simply ignored those Christians, it would've been a non-issue. As it is, the city of Dearborn was successfully sued by Christians, had to put an apology on their web site, and insurance for the festival went up dramatically.

American Muslims, in groups, still haven't figured out where they are and don't care. Multiply that by many times overseas, add in hate speech and protection from the American political Left, and let the commercial airliners and improvised claymores fly.

Despite the Left's desperate attempt to color Christianity in the same light, there is nothing in the world like Islam's mass devotion to itself and any means to an end, including violence against civilians.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm confused!

Despite Pipes obfuscations, aren't they ALL followers of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and his teachings as found in the Quran, the central religious text of Islam, which ALL Muslims believe to be the verbatim word of God (Allah) regardless of which sect?
And won't the results be the same:

The Quran commands to kill infidels:

"Allah is an enemy to unbelievers." - Sura 2:98
"On unbelievers is the curse of Allah." - Sura 2:161
"Slay them wherever ye find them and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter." - 2:191
"Fight against them until idolatry is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme. (different translation: ) Fight them until there is no persecution and the religion is God's entirely." - Sura 2:193 and 8:39
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I’m not aware of Dr. Pipes ever writing or implying what Shoebat attributes to him, “a majority of Muslims are moderate “. A quick perusal of even the articles by Pipes linked by Shoebat to support this blog post demonstrates the falseness of Shoebat’s claim (http://www.danielpipes.org/5967/counting-islamists, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/13/islam-and-its-infidels/#ixzz2TkbGvnqP).

Anyone who has followed Pipes knows his general position on this matter,

1. “Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology. Islamism accurately indicates an Islamic-flavored version of radical utopianism, an -ism like other -isms, comparable to fascism and communism. Aping those two movements, for example, Islamism relies heavily on conspiracy theories to interpret the world, on the state to advance its ambitions, and on brutal means to attain its goals”; (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/13/islam-and-its-infidels/#ixzz2TkbGvnqP)
2. The Muslim world can (very roughly) be divided into 3 groups: Islamists/Radical Muslims – 10 to 15 %, Traditionalists/Apologists - 80 to 85%; and Moderates/Secularists – a small group, perhaps as many as 1 %; and,
3. Making any definitive statements about a more than 1,000 year old religion and culture lived out by various sects, cultures and ethnic groups spread from North Africa to the Pacific Ocean is a tremendously complex undertaking and not the stuff of a quick blog post.

The fact that Shoebat should so flagrantly distort Pipes’ well known positions, even misstating the writings by Pipes which Shoebat himself choose to cite, suggests that the CNN report indicating that Shoebat is a con and self-promoter (http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/07/11/terrorism.expert/index.html) is accurate.

The fact the PJM would publish this tripe w/o any fact checking is (along with the new Comments procedures) a symptom of its own decline. I’d prefer it if PJM published just a few pieces by smart, interesting and reputable authors such as Fernandez, Goldman, Hanson, Ledeen, McCarthy, Rosett, Rubin, etc., and leave out the recent plague of articles along the lines of, “5 Great Guy Moves That Were Funnier Than Porkys” or “Why Is The Department of Health and Human Services Is Establishing Its own SS Panzer Division!?!”.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are deluding yourself. Pipes is being corrected "because" he is respected - and completely wrong.
Because you find Shoebat wrong in some manner does not make Pipes right - get it?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
You are the one who doesn’t “get it”.

My comment is not about the larger issue of Islam vs. Islamism (although I agree with Pipes on this matter).

My short comment noted that Shoebat falsely described Pipes’ views, even though those views are articulated in posts to which Shoebat linked. Given the convincing CNN investigative news report indicating that Shoebat is a con artist, I am disappointed that PJM would post his article, apparently w/o basic editorial review. It’s also disappointing that some readers would accept Shoebat’s views w/o even reading his links.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I believe that a key reason we have such difficulty understanding what we are up against is that we really do have different languages, even different categories of thought, between the modern West and the Islamic world. For example, I don't think the category 'moderate Islam' means the same to both sides. I suspect it doesn't even make much sense at all to Muslims. I think we can positively identify some of what we are trying to describe by looking at how the political side of Islam or 'Islam as a state' has become radicalized by 20th century totalitarianism. Specifically the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 30s directly inspired by Fascism and Communism which were riding high at the time and could well have taken over the West entirely. They certainly tried. I also note that early 20th century totalitarianism occurred as powerful waves that eventually dissipated. In the case of Germany and Japan with a considerable amount of encouragement. In the case of communism largely by containment. I don't know if the highly active totalitarianism of Islam we have been forced to give out attention to since 1979, lets say, will dissipate or not, but I think there is a reasonable expectation that it is hard to maintain that level of fanaticism indefinitely even if the underlying religion encourages it. For example, I think the Iranian population has become much less totalitarian after being forced to live in Khomeini's realized dream of a theocratic state for over 30 years. When I read Pipe's article I agreed with him until he got to the bit about moderate Islam being the solution. I would argue that the solution is something more like post apocalyptic Islam and we don't know if that will ever emerge. In any case we better come up with some way to wear them down! I would add that I don't think Daniel Pipes doesn't deserve being called PC given his important work exposing the political correctness of America's often heavily Saudi funded Middle Eastern Studies departments.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
This Walid Shoebat seems to be a controversial character:

"
‘Son of Hamas’ Attacks My Veracity
After my PJM article denouncing Hamas “turncoat” Mosab Hassan Yousef as a continued enemy of Israel, he attacks my undeniable record as an actual reformed terrorist.

by
Walid Shoebat

Bio
May 18, 2011 - 10:25 am
Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single Page..."......end paste.


Google: "walid shoebat fraud" ......who is this guy, anyway?
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
This infidel [....does that disqualify me now in a Muslim's eyes?...probably, but here goes anyway...] thinks that any practicing Muslim who reads his Koran and adheres to the verses directing Muslims to kill infidels, meaning me, doesn't think that my slitted throat indicates that the slitter is a "moderate" throat slitter, or a "moderate" murderer, or a "moderate" Muslim.

How does this Muslim commit "moderate" homicide?

Our trouble in applying our Western definitions and concepts of any sort at all with Muslim definitions and concepts is that we're equating apples with date palm trees. .....playing mere word games.

We don't have the same thought processes. We simply can't share definitions and concepts in English. A Muslim simply is incapable of listening in English. They'll smile and then move on. We must accept this, and fight on.

This is why we Westerners simply must adhere to that old idea, "actions speak louder than words". A Muslim's word to us infidels means nothing as that Muslim thinks that we are worthless, insignificant beings.

Daniel Pipes, I think, speaks and reads Arabic so I can't choose sides between him and Walid Shoebat......but it seems that they're both talking over the other's shoulder. We're right in the middle.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
The moderate Bolsheviks - Nazis - Fascists - cultural revolutionaries - and most especially Muslims, have done nothing for western civilization to give them any quarter.
They have to go to - there are no innocent Muslims in my view.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
When the Twin Towers fell, we saw images of Muslims around the world dancing in the streets. Few of these would have been willing to fly one of the planes, or strap a bomb to his body, yet they cheered for those who did. The fact that a Muslim will not personally slay the infidel does not make him a “moderate”. Indeed, Muhammad stated that giving money to support Jihad is a form of participation.
To be a “moderate”, a Muslim must believe in separation of church and state, in the equality of all men (not Muslims vs. infidels, men vs. women), and must deny the immutability of the Qu’ran as Allah’s words. A “Muslim” who does this is regarded as an apostate, to be shunned by all and killed whenever possible.
A “moderate” Muslim is analogous to someone who claims to be a “moderate” Christian, because he does not believe in Christ.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I stole this from somebody here; it bears repeating.
A radical Muslim wants to kills us.
A moderate Muslim wants the radical Muslims to kill us.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
It wouldn't be theft if you simply mentioned you were quoting me.

And it's " The difference between a radical muslim and a moderate muslim is the radical muslim wants to kill you and the moderate muslim wants the radical muslim to kill you. "

For the record.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
Couldn't remember who posted it; at least I didn't claim it as my own.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm certainly glad Mr. Pipes isn't a medical doctor, although he might be when ObamaCare fully arrives. He would tell us cancer is our friend and that we only have to be concerned about cancerism.
47 weeks ago
47 weeks ago Link To Comment
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