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Spring Time for Sharia in Araby

A review of PJM columnist Andrew C. McCarthy’s timely and essential Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy. (Also read McCarthy: Spring Fever: Obama Can't Be Cured.)

by
Andrew G. Bostom

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September 17, 2012 - 12:00 am

Decrying the willful blindness of Western policymaking elites who deny Islam’s intrinsic supremacist totalitarianism, while spraying charges of “Islamophobia” at those analysts who dare render such appropriate characterizations, McCarthy writes,

The blunt fact is that mainstream, Middle Eastern Islam is totalitarianism packaged as “religion” — therefore, the guidelines for religions that pose no threat to free societies cannot be applied to Middle Eastern Islam (the Islam to which [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan subscribes) without putting liberty in grave jeopardy. I hasten to add that it is no insult to call sharia a “dictatorial” and “totalitarian” system. Devout Muslims believe Allah, omnipotent and omniscient, has ordained sharia as the template for virtuous human life – every detail of that life.

(III) Sharia Without Camouflage…and Its Muslim Contents: McCarthy bluntly acknowledges Sharia’s ugly, living essence — founded upon Islam’s canonical texts (the Koran, and traditions of Islam’s prophet, or “hadith”) and classical jurisprudence — as a dehumanizing liberty-crushing system: open-ended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties — including freedom of conscience and speech — enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption. Furthermore, McCarthy adduces recent (i.e., May 17, 2011) Pew Global Attitudes polling data from major non-Arab as well as Arab Muslim societies

…illustrating the strong desire for sharia governance among…78 percent of Pakistanis, 70 percent of Jordanians, and 62 percent of Egyptians [who] told pollsters that “laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Koran.” To put a finer point on it, the dichotomy in the Middle East is not sharia versus secular democracy; it is exclusive, fully implemented sharia versus the predominance of sharia “principles” – i.e., systems which combine sharia with other law sources (e.g., variations on the Napoleonic Code), making clear that sharia prevails in the event of conflict. In Egypt for example, while 62 percent want strict sharia, 27 percent would prefer a legal system which, while not strict sharia, “follow[s] the values and principles of Islam.” Only 5 percent of respondents said, “laws should not be influenced by the teachings of the Koran.” Even in Turkey, where a decade of Erdogan has gradually dismantled an 80-year secularization effort, only 34 percent eschew Islamic law…

Consistent with these hard data, the new regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya — all of whom have extended the influence of sharia via Muslim Brotherhood and/or other Islamic totalitarian political parties — simply reflect the triumph of “democratically expressed,” vox populi Muslim attitudes.

(IV) Neo-Ottoman Turkey: I maintain that Turkey has proven itself incapable of steering a truly liberty-promoting course between the Scylla of autocratic secular Kemalist ultra-nationalism (based upon the racist theories of Turco-centric supremacism, such as the Türk Tarih Tezi [Turkish Historical Thesis], and Güneş Dil Teorisi [the Sun Theory of Language] promoted by the Turkish Republic’s founder Kemal Ataturk, and still taught), and the Charybdis of a totalitarian, politicized Islam. Regarding the latter, the renowned scholar of Ottoman and Republican Turkey, Uriel Heyd, observed with remarkable insight and prescience, just before his sudden passing in 1968, that Turkey’s aggressive re-Islamization was already underway within a decade of Ataturk’s 1938 death. Commenting on the May 2007 demonstrations in Turkey sparked by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s temporary failure to install his Islamic supremacist AKP party ally Abdullah Gul as president, Ayaan Hirsi Ali elucidated Turkey’s then still “unresolved” predicament:

…true secularism does not mean just any secularism. It means secularism that protects individual freedoms and rights, not the ultra-nationalist kind that breeds an environment in which Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is a bestseller, the Armenian genocide is denied and minorities are persecuted. Hrant Dink, the Armenian editor, was murdered by such a nationalist. It is this mix of virulent nationalism and predatory Islam in Turkey that makes the challenge for Turkish secular liberals greater than for any other liberal movement today

Spring Fever demonstrates convincingly that Erdogan, (now President) Gul, and the AKP Party — with mass, popular Turkish Muslim support — have outmaneuvered their secular rivals (notably in the Turkish military), and are presiding over Turkey’s complete, sharia-based Islamization. McCarthy elucidates succinctly the key details — shrewd and sinister machinations, such as longstanding alliances with the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as formal jihad terror organizations [i.e., Hamas, openly and defiantly, but even al Qaeda-affiliated individuals] and state sponsors, including Iran — which have allowed Erdogan and his AKP to successfully implement their ugly, if indigenously authentic and acceptable “vision” for Turkey. This patient, relentless program has engendered a Neo-Ottoman Turkey, imbued with an aggressive nostalgia for the Ottoman Caliphate era’s half-millennium of triumphant jihad, and rife with its traditional Islamic Jew (and broader non-Muslim infidel) hatred and contempt for Western freedoms.

(V) Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan)—Hard-Won Local Triumph, Global Aspirations: February 18, 2011 marked the triumphal return to Cairo of Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) “Spiritual Guide” Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Qaradawi’s own words, accompanied by images and actions during this appearance, re-affirmed his obscurantist, albeit mainstream Islamic Weltanschauung of Sharia-based, aggressive jihadism, and its corollary — virulent Jew and other infidel hatred, which should have shattered the delusive view that the turmoil leading to President Mubarak’s resignation augured the emergence of a modern, democratic Egyptian society devoted to Western conceptions of individual liberty and equality before the law.

His Tahrir Square appearance foreshadowed events that have transpired, predictably, during the subsequent nineteen months, till now, punctuated by the open ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and party affiliates, within Egypt, and across North Africa and the entire Middle East. Indeed, Qaradawi’s February 18, 2011, “khutbah,” or sermon, to the adoring Muslim throngs that day reflected the longstanding aspirations of “martyred” Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, and was symbolic of an Islamic revival begun earlier by the so-called “Al-Manar modernists” — Jamal Al-Din Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, and Muhammad Rashid Rida — more than a century before Qaradawi took the stage at Tahrir Square.

Charles Wendell introduced his elegant 1978 translation of five Al-Banna treatises with a particularly astute summary assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood founder’s Weltanschauung. Wendell stressed not only Al-Banna’s seamless connection to the Al-Manar modernists, but to traditional Islam itself. Moreover, Wendell’s concluding observations remain critical to understanding the deep Islamic religious animus towards Israel and the West — so much in evidence today — that Al-Banna and his movement both inspired and reflected.

Hasan al-Banna’s fundamental conviction that Islam does not accept, or even tolerate, a separation of “church” and state, or of either from society, is as thoroughly Islamic as it can be. Any attempt to translate his movement into terms reducible to social, political, or religious factors exclusively simply misses the boat. The “totality” created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Medinese state, the first Islamic state, was Hasan’s unwavering ideal, and the ideal of all Muslim thinkers before him, including the idle dreamers in the mosque. His ideology then, before it was Egyptian or Arab or whatever, was Islamic to the core. Since it embraced all aspects of human life and thought, it was at least as much religious as anything else. Practically all of his arguments are shored up by frequent quotations from the Qur’an and the Traditions, quite in the style of his medieval forbears. If one considers the public to whom his writings were  addressed, it becomes instantly apparent that such arguments must still be the most compelling for the vast bulk of the Muslim populations of today. The nagging feeling that Islam must, and very quickly at that, catch up with the West, had even by his time filtered down from above to the masses after having been the watchword of the modernizing intellectual for almost a century. There was also the notion that all these Western sciences and techniques were originally adopted from Islamic culture, and were therefore merely “coming home”—a piece of self-conscious back-patting that was already a cliché of most Muslim political writing… To this [Islamic] revivalist mentality, nothing could be more hateful than further diminution of the lands traditionally dominated by Islam. I believe that much of the fury and unconcealed hatred of the Zionist state which is expressed by the majority of Arabs will become more comprehensible in light of what the Islamic domain as a concept really means to the Muslims, seen through the lens of Hasan’s exposition…[T]he Muslim Brotherhood…had, on the basis of indisputable historical facts and clear religious traditions, a ready-made program for a world crusade that required only actors and a leader. Islam had from the beginning been a proselytizing faith. The error of the Islamic peoples, as Al-Afghani had pointed out forty years before, had been to cease their inexorable forward march, to abnegate their God-ordained destiny…

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