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Sharia States: Totalitarian to the Core

A review of Dr. Andrew G. Bostom's seminal Sharia versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, now available.

by
Alyssa A. Lappen

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October 26, 2012 - 10:47 pm
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Countless famed Muslim jurists repeated these foundational doctrines through Muslim history, and still do, Bostom shows. In July 2003, “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader, Al-Jazeera TV personality, and MB European Council for Fatwa and Research chief Yousef Qaradawi generally approved pillage and (certainly) as related to Israelis:

Islamic law [has determined] the blood and property of the people of Dar al-Harb [the Domain of Disbelief where the battle for domination of Islam should be waged] is not protected … in modern war, all of society, with all its classes and ethnic groups, is mobilized to participate in the war, to aid its continuation, and to provide it with material and human fuel required for it to assure the victory of the state fighting its enemies (p. 64).

Alas, Muslim religious and political leaders don’t harbor these views in a vacuum. An alarming swath of the Muslim public also avidly supports them. In April 2007 the University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org released startling results of interviews with 4,384 Muslims (1,000 Moroccans, 1,000 Egyptians, 1,243 Pakistanis and 1,141 Indonesians), run from Dec. 2006 to Feb. 2007. Nearly two-thirds of the subjects (2,872) wanted: “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate” (including nearly half of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims); 65.5% also agreed that “every Islamic country” should “require a strict application of Shari’a law.” [emphasis added]

A Dec. 2010 Pew poll in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, and Nigeria documented similar strong support for legislating hadd punishments: 82% of Egyptians and Pakistanis wanted adulterers stoned, as did 70% in Jordan and 56% in Nigeria; 82% of Pakistanis, 77% of Egyptians, 65% of Nigerians, and 58% of Jordanians supported whipping and amputation for theft. The vast majority of Muslims polled also supported execution of apostates (Jordan, 86%; Egypt, 84%; Pakistan, 76%; Nigeria, 51%).

Such attitudes also apparently prevail among Western Muslims. A secret December 2010 cable from the U.S. Embassy in London revealed alarming sentiments in a study of 600 British Muslim students: 40% want to replace British law with sharia and 32% support killing for Islam.

The dangers of “Political Correctness”

Bostom takes innumerable contemporary assurances of Islam’s beneficence — from Muslims, political figures, Islamophiles, or vaunted Western scholars like Bernard Lewis – and cuts them to proper size.

He garners considerable aid from stellar scholars, far less prone than Lewis to view Islam through rose-colored panes. One can generally confirm academic errors due to their susceptibility to rational argument, wrote German scholar Karl Binswanger in conclusion to a 1977 analysis of Ottoman imposition of Islamic law on non-Muslims. Not so, the “religious,” “dogmatic” Islamophilic domain, given a modern:

… attempt to present the moral aspect of an Islamic fact as ethically valuable (not value-neutral!) even if historic (and any other) sense does not support such an interpretation.

Whomever — consciously or not — downplays or misrepresents the morally negative aspects of the Dhimma [sharia “protection” designed to oppress non-Muslims] or even distorts it into its (moral) opposite, because he would otherwise have to partially revise his preconceived evaluation of Islamic culture, he is behaving like the Marxist “researcher” who simply demonizes every manifestation of “evil” feudalism, instead of, or without (even therefore) investigating the functional accomplishments of feudalism. The Marxist “researcher” acts this way because there is no place for critical examination of his own position in his preconceived conception of the world and science. For him “scientific socialism” is a dogma.

A dogma into the like of which an “obstinate ‘scientific Islamophilia’” Orientalist studies by 1977 seriously risked descending (p. 52). The litany of gross factual errors since floated by mainstream academics, media, and politicians defies description in this already lengthy review.

But that rose-tinted discourse of Islam has spread its tentacles far beyond academia — into politics and the press — and endangered the entire nation. Americans must turn elsewhere for their data, and quickly. Post haste purchases of this book may help recalibrate the national discussion on November 6 at the ballot box.

To which end, we should perhaps return to Moses Maimonides, the 12th century Jewish author of the original three-volume Guide to the Perplexed. A physician by profession and theologian by avocation, the Ramban lived his entire life among Muslims, himself escaped numerous Islamic jihad depredations, and generally termed Mohammed the “Madman.”

As a medical man, Maimonides taught doctors for all time to examine facts before treating. Interpret, but do not stray from reason. His lesson applies equally to everything, even politics. This book supplies a large dose of reason. It can help undecided voters, and perhaps even some “decided.” Post-election, it can help radically shift U.S. policies that stand, perhaps intentionally now, totally blind to the ravages of jihad and sharia. Facts we can no longer ignore: sharia opposes all basic American ideas — and states under its law are totalitarian to their core.


[i] The brilliant Jewish doctor, philosopher and sage, Moses Maimonides produced the original 12th century Guide for the Perplexed — a timeless and apolitical three volume treatise on Jewish law and philosophy relative to religion — during an unrivaled Islamic persecution of Spain’s Jewish people. Muslim-ruled Andalusia was never a calm or comfortable home for Jews, but the Berber Moravid successors to Spain’s Umayyad conquerors opposed any “liberality and toleration” at all and were far “surpassed in cruelty and fanaticism” by the 1148 Almohades conquerors of Cordova. Yet, as translator M. Friedlander notes in his introducing his second, 1904 English edition, the “brilliant luminary” Maimonides emanated “rays of light and comfort,” and advised philosophically — and by personal example — that historical attempts to eliminate the Jewish faith had invariably failed, as would Islamic efforts contemporary to his time.

[ii] Nowruz is the most important Zoroastrian holy day. While a vestige of pre-Islamic culture, this festival remains the most widely celebrated Iranian holiday. After the 1979 revolution, Shiite clerics attempted unsuccessfully to ban the holiday all together.

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