Is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-styled “caliph” of the Islamic State, injured or dead, as some in the media are eagerly speculating?
Better question: does it really matter?
For almost a decade now, every time an Islamic jihadi leader is killed, the Western mainstream media exult, portraying the death as a major blow to the jihad. And, for almost a decade now, I have responded by posting an article that I first wrote in 2006 for Victor Davis Hanson’s website, Private Papers.
Although I changed the names of the jihadi leaders killed to suit the occasion—first Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, then Abu Laith al-Libi, then Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Misri, and finally Osama bin Laden—my conclusion has remained the same:
The West’s plight vis-à-vis radical Islam is therefore akin to Hercules’ epic encounter with the multi-headed Hydra-monster. Every time the mythical strongman lopped off one of the monster’s heads, two new ones grew in its place. To slay the beast once and for all, Hercules learned to cauterize the stumps with fire, thereby preventing any more heads from sprouting out.
Similarly while the West continues to lop off monster heads like figurehead Zarqawi [or bin Laden, al-Baghdadi, etc.] it is imperative to treat the malady — radical Islam—in order to ultimately prevail. Victory can only come when the violent ideologies of radical Islam are cauterized with fire.
But alas, the Hydra-monster is myth, while radical Islam is stark reality.
Eight years later, this “stark reality” has manifested itself into a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering, female-enslaving Islamic State.
And yet, in the previous years, proclamations of “victory” were habitually made by media and politicians whenever a top jihadi was killed.
Recall all the exultation that took place in 2006 after al-Zarqawi—the forefather of the Islamic State, or “Al-Qaeda Second Generation”—was killed. Then, almost every major politician, including President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Iraq’s Prime Minister Maliki, gave some sort of victory speech. The New York Times called his death a “major watershed in the war.”
Similarly, in 2008, after Abu Laith al-Libi was killed, Congressman Peter Hoekstra issued a statement saying that his death “clearly will have an impact on the radical jihadist movement.”
More myopic triumphalism was in the air after Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayub al-Masri were killed in 2010 during a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation. Then, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden said the “deaths are potentially devastating blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq [the original name of the Islamic State],” adding “This operation is evidence in my view, that the future of Iraq will not be shaped by those who would seek to destroy that country”—an assertion that has now proven woefully wrong.
Similarly, U.S. commander Gen. Raymond Odierno asserted that “The death of these terrorists is potentially the most significant blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq since the beginning of the insurgency,” adding that it would be “very difficult” for the al Qaeda network to replace the two men.
And who could forget all the media triumphalism, if not hysteria, surrounding the 2011 death of Osama bin Laden? Then, CNN security analyst Peter Bergen declared that “Killing bin Laden is the end of the war on terror. We can just sort of announce that right now.” Insisting that the “iconic nature of bin Laden’s persona” cannot be replaced, Bergen further suggested that “It’s time to move on.”… Keep reading
From A Call to Rights website:
Exposing Islam’s New War On Christians
Forget what the history textbooks told you about martyrdom being a thing of the past. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered today.
Raymond Ibrahim unveils the shocking truth about Christians in the Muslim world. Believers in Jesus Christ suffer oppression and are massacred at the hands of radicals for worshipping and spreading the gospel of the Lord.
Discover the true-life stories that the media won’t report in Ibrahim’s Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.
In the newest Prager University course, I discuss Muslim persecution of Christians. From the Prager University website: “The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region’s Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.”
The Islamic State has called on its followers to take the jihad to Egypt, to the heart of Cairo itself.
Abu Mus ‘ab al-Maqdisi, a leader in the Islamic State,said in a statement titled “Advice to Egypt’s Mujahidin [jihadis],” published on websites linked to the “caliphate,” that “It is necessary to take the battle to Cairo, until the Sinai is safeguarded from the apostates [reference to Egyptian government] and becomes a rear base [qaeda] to expand the jihad from.”
He added that “You have a good example in the Islamic State when it was bombing Baghdad on a daily or weekly basis with car bombs and other operations.”
He also called on jihadis in Egypt to “target the Copts,” the nation’s indigenous, Christian minorities: “For targeting them, following them, and killing them is one of the main ways to serve the cause of our virtuous male and female hostages of the tyrants.”
“I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things”—Philippians 3:8
When St. Paul wrote the above in his letter to the Christians of Philippi, he and the early church were being persecuted (Paul was eventually executed in Rome). While today’s Western Christians still quote his words in the context of their daily struggles, an increasing number of Christians around the world, especially the Muslim world, are still literally losing absolutely everything for their faith.
Beheading of St. Paul
In Christian-majority Uganda, matters have gone from bad to worse to murderous. The plight of Hassan Muwanguzi, for instance, a Muslim convert to Christianity—whose initial sacrifices are recorded in Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (page 131)—far from abating, has only gotten worse.
After earning a university degree in Islamic law and then, in 2003, when he was in his early 20s, converting to Christianity, his family immediately threw him out of their home. “Enraged Muslims” beat him. Later that same year, his wife left him and he lost his job as a teacher at Nankodo Islamic School, near Pallisa.
This was just the beginning. Picking up the pieces of his life and moving on, he eventually opened a Christian school, Grace International Nursery and Primary School, near Muslim-majority Mbale. Accordingly, “The Muslims have tried to use all kinds of threats to make me close the school—first they used witchcraft,” said Hassan. “This did not work, so then they tried to discourage Muslims from bringing their children to the school, saying that the school was converting Muslim children to Christianity by teaching Christian Religious Education.”
When all else failed, in 2011 an Islamic teacher, Sheikh Hassan Abdalla, filed a false charge claiming that Hassan had “defiled” the sheikh’s young daughter. Together with his fellow Muslim countrymen, the Islamic cleric filed a case at the chief magistrate’s court. Hassan was subsequently arrested and incarcerated for three weeks.
But because Sheikh Abdalla, his accuser, repeatedly failed to appear in court to testify, Hassan was released. In his words: “The judge found out it was a false accusation, hence the case was dropped. I had been subjected to humiliation, but I forgave them for the sake of my Christian outreach in the area.”
The next Islamic attack came a few months after Hassan was acquitted. First, the owner of the land where Hassan had built his Christian school denied ever having sold it, leading to a court order to close down the school in May, 2012. This incurred great losses on Hassan. The month after, in June, the Christian convert’s home was burnt down by three Muslims… Keep reading
Although the birth of the Islamic state and the herald of the caliphate are often regarded as some of 2014’s “big shockers,” they were foretold in striking detail and with an accurate timeline by an al-Qaeda insider nearly one decade ago.
On August 12, 2005, Spiegel Online International published an article titled “The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaeda Really Wants.” Written by Yassin Musharbash, the article was essentially a review of a book written by Fouad Hussein, a Jordanian journalist with close access to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who pioneered the videotaping of beheadings “to strike terror into the hearts” of infidels (Koran 3:151).
As Hussein explained in the introduction of his book Al Zarqawi: Al Qaeda’s Second Generation: “I interviewed a whole range of al-Qaeda members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.”
And in fact the book details the master plan of al-Qaeda—in its “second generation” manifestation known as the “Islamic State” which follows much of Zarqawi’s modus operandi—to resurrect a caliphate. This plan is sufficiently outlandish that Yassin Musharbash, the author of the Spiegel article reviewing Hussein’s book, repeatedly casts doubt on its feasibility. Thus al-Qaeda’s plan is “proof both of the terrorists’ blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness”; there is “no way” al-Qaeda can follow the plan “step by step”; “the idea that al-Qaeda could set up a caliphate in the entire Islamic world is absurd”; and the following “scenario should be judged skeptically.”
Yet it is all the more remarkable that much of this plan—especially those phases dismissed as infeasible by Musharbash (four and five)—have come to pass.
In what follows, I reproduce the seven phases of al-Qaeda’s master plan as presented in Musharbash’s nearly ten-year-old article (in bullet points and italics, bold for emphasis), with my commentary interspersed for context. Phases four and five are of particular importance as they describe the goals for recent times, much of which have come to fruition according to plan.
An Islamic Caliphate in Seven Easy Steps
- The First Phase Known as “the awakening”—this has already been carried out and was supposed to have lasted from 2000 to 2003, or more precisely from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington to the fall of Baghdad in 2003. The aim of the attacks of 9/11 was to provoke the US into declaring war on the Islamic world and thereby“awakening” Muslims. “The first phase was judged by the strategists and masterminds behind al-Qaeda as very successful,” writes Hussein. “The battle field was opened up and the Americans and their allies became a closer and easier target.” The terrorist network is also reported as being satisfied that its message can now be heard “everywhere.”
Much of this is accurate and makes sense. Sadly, if any eyes were opened after the 9/11 attacks on American soil, they weren’t Western eyes—certainly not the eyes of Western leadership, mainstream media, and academia. But to many Muslims, the strikes of 9/11 were inspiring and motivating, giving credence to Osama bin Laden’s characterization of America as a “paper tiger.” A few years after the Islamic strikes of 9/11, Americans responded by electing a man with a Muslim name and heritage for president, even as he continuously empowers in a myriad of ways—including banning knowledge of Islam—the same ideology behind the strikes of 9/11. Meanwhile, the average Muslim relearned the truths of their religion, namely that the “infidel” is an existential enemy and jihad against him is a duty, as al-Qaeda and others had successfully shown.
- The Second Phase “Opening Eyes” is, according to Hussein’s definition, the period we are now in [writing in 2005] and should last until 2006. Hussein says the terrorists hope to make the western conspiracy aware of the “Islamic community.” Hussein believes this is a phase in which al-Qaeda wants an organization to develop into a movement. The network is banking on recruiting young men during this period. Iraq should become the center for all global operations, with an “army” set up there and bases established in other Arabic states.
This too is accurate. Among other things, the “Islamic community,” the umma, began to be more visible and vocal during this time frame, including through a rash of attacks and riots following any perceived “insult” to Islam, growing demands for appeasement, and accusations of “Islamophobia” against all and sundry. If there weren’t any spectacular terror attacks on the level of 9/11, young Muslim men were quietly enlisting and training in the jihad—or in western parlance, “radicalizing.” Al-Qaeda went from being an “organization” to a “movement”—international “radicalization.” Most importantly, Iraq, as the world now knows, certainly did become the “center for all global operations” with an “army” of jihadis set up there.
- The Third Phase This is described as “Arising and Standing Up” and should last from 2007 to 2010. “There will be a focus on Syria,” prophesies Hussein, based on what his sources told him. The fighting cadres are supposedly already prepared and some are in Iraq. Attacks on Turkey and—even more explosive— in Israel are predicted. Al-Qaeda’s masterminds hope that attacks on Israel will help the terrorist group become a recognized organization. The author also believes that countries neighboring Iraq, such as Jordan, are also in danger.
Much of this third phase as described and transpired seems to have been an extension of phase two. In retrospect, there certainly appears to have been a focus on Syria, even if the jihad started there one year behind schedule (2011). And many of the jihadis were “already prepared” and “some are in Iraq.” None of this was a surprise, of course, as U.S. intelligence always indicated that if American forces withdrew from Iraq, the jihadis would take over.
- The Fourth Phase Between 2010 and 2013, Hussein writes that al-Qaeda will aim to bring about the collapse of the hated Arabic governments. The estimate is that “the creeping loss of the regimes’ power will lead to a steady growth in strength within al-Qaeda.” At the same time attacks will be carried out against oil suppliers and the US economy will be targeted using cyber terrorism.
This is immensely prophetic. Recall that the timeline given (2010-2013) coincides remarkably well with the so-called “Arab Spring,” which culminated with Islamic terrorists and their allies taking over the leadership of several Arab countries formerly ruled by secularized autocrats: Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (which plays Dr. Jekyll to al-Qaeda’s Mr. Hyde); Libya, al-Qaeda/Islamic jihadis; ongoing Syria, al-Qaeda/Islamic jihadis (or their latest manifestation, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda’s “second generation”), etc. It should be remembered that in each of these nations—Egypt, Libya, Syria—the Obama administration played a major role in empowering the jihadis, though in the name of “democracy.”… Keep reading
Editor’s note: The following is Part Three of a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia following Bill Maher’s recent exclamation that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” Click for Part One and for Part Two.
Coercion and Death Threats
Although the novel turned movie, The Godfather, is fictitious, it also captures much of the mafia’s modus operandi. Consider, for example, that most famous of lines — “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” — spoken by the Godfather to one of his “godsons,” an aspiring actor and singer, who, after being turned down by a studio director for a role that he desperately wanted, turns to his Godfather for aid.
As the movie progresses, we discover that the offer that the director can’t refuse is nothing less than violence and the threat of death: after the Godfather’s messenger to the director asking that the actor be given the role is again rejected, the studio head awakes to find the bloodied and decapitated head of his favorite stallion in bed with him. The godson subsequently gets the movie role.
Throughout the context of the entire Godfather trilogy — and indeed, in the context of the mafia — making someone “an offer they can’t refuse” — comes to mean “do as I say or suffer the consequences,” possibly death.
Compare this to Islam’s threefold choice. On Muhammad’s orders, whenever Islamic jihadis conquer a territory, they are to give the non-Muslim inhabitants three choices: 1) convert to Islam, 2) maintain your own religion (an option technically only available to Christians and Jews) but pay tribute and live as a subdued third-class citizen, a “dhimmi,” or 3) die.
Not only do the primary historical texts written by authoritative Muslims record this aspect of Islam, but to this very day, Islam’s threefold choice is making headlines, most recently at the hands of the Islamic State.
The ‘Protection Racket’
Once the mafia gains a “territory,” one of the primary ways it profits is by collecting “protection money” from the inhabitants. While the protection racket has several faces, one in particular is akin to an Islamic institution: the idea of coercing people in the mafia’s territory to pay money for “protection,” ostensibly from outside forces, when in fact the protection bought is from the mafia itself — that is, extortion money, or pizzo. Potential “clients” who refuse the mafia’s “protection” often have their property vandalized and are routinely threatened and harassed.
Compare pizzo with the Islamic concept of jizya: The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (emphasis added).”… Keep reading
Egyptian Salafi Party Defends Islamic State from ‘Secularists Who Never Fail to Distort Everything Connected to Islam’
Further demonstrating its true face, Egypt’s National Salafi Party recently refused to count the Islamic State as a “terrorist” organization, or even that it had misinterpreted Islam.
Despite the fact that the Islamic State’s many atrocities are well known—crucifixions, beheadings, massacres, enslavements and rapes—Yousry Hammad, the party’s vice president, said: “I hope that a delegation of ulema [Islamic scholars and jurisprudents] respond regarding the Islamic State’s creed and methodology—for this question preoccupies many of the Islamic community’s youth.”
He added that he did not trust many of the sources reporting on the Islamic State, “especially the secularists who never fail to distort everything connected to Islam.”
He made no comment regarding the atrocities the Islamic State itself has broadcast via videos and images on the Internet.
The Egyptian Salafi leader concluded by saying that, “If they [Islamic State] are righteous, I ask that Allah glorify Islam at the hands of the righteous; and if they are corrupt, Allah brings injustice against injustice, brings them against the injustice of Maliki and his allies, and Bashar and his allies…”
Editor’s note: The following book review of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians was written by Terry Scambray for the New Oxford Review (October, 2014 issue).
Throughout the Muslim world, from Morocco to Nigeria to Indonesia — and even occasionally in Western Europe and North America — Christians are being harassed, tortured, and murdered. Reuters reported in January 2012 that a hundred million Christians were being persecuted, while a few years earlier Britain’s Secret Service, M16, put the number closer to two hundred million. In November 2012 German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Christianity “the most persecuted religion worldwide,” a statement that elicited condemnation from many world leaders. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe estimates that a Christian is killed for his faith every five minutes.
What is the reason for such atrocity? By any measure, the persecution of Christians is one of the dramatic stories of our time. So why is it ignored? Raymond Ibrahim, a fluent speaker of Arabic and a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, answers these questions and explains both the sources of Islamic violence and the infirmities that cripple the West in his new book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians.
History provides a large part of the answer. Islam, from its beginnings, in contrast to Christianity, promised its followers worldly success and prosperity. From Mohammed’s first raids, down through the centuries of conquests that followed, Islam has been a religion of victors vanquishing victims. Contemporary Muslim lands in the Middle East and Africa include what were once great centers of Christendom, such as Jerusalem, Alexandria, Damascus, Antioch, and Constantinople. Lest anyone forget, imperialism is not a Western invention.
Having conquered vast territory, Muslims then went on to dominate it by imposing the cruelties of Sharia law and dhimmitude, both of which reduce “infidels,” non-Muslims, to servile positions. Ibrahim provides examples of brutal conditions under Muslim rule during these early conquests when, “according to one medieval Muslim historian, over the two year course of a particularly ruthless Christian persecution campaign, some 30,000 churches were burned or pillaged in Egypt and Syria alone.” Under the Abbasid rule in A.D. 936, the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, believed to have been built atop the tomb of Christ, was burned down. Nearly a century later, Caliph Hakim bi-Amr Allah (996-1021) ordered the dismantling of what was left of the church, including the digging up of its foundations, in addition to the destruction of “Golgotha and the church of Saint Constantine as well as all the sacred grave stones. They even tried to dig up the graves and wipe out all traces of their existence.” Though apologists for Islam admit that Hakim was a madman, they coyly offer him as an aberration, implying that Christians suffered only under his rule. Not so, writes Ibrahim, for there is “no dearth of Muslim leaders throughout the whole of Islamic history that have persecuted Christians and their churches.”
Many of us in our youth read stories of medieval Europe in which “Mohammedans,” “Moors,” “Saracens,” and “Turks” were fearsome antagonists. When we got to high school and university, somehow that feature of European life played a less prominent role or was even absent from history courses. It seems, though, that our earliest stories were accurate, and Ibrahim provides a broad set of facts to support this.
In the first decades of its existence, Islam had conquered half the Christian lands in the world and appeared to be on such a roll that it would soon squash Europe into a single Islamic polity. “In fact,” Ibrahim writes, “Europe as we know it was forged in large measure by the Islamic conquests, which severed the Latin West from the Greek East, turning the once highly trafficked Mediterranean into a ‘Muslim Lake’ — so that, in the words of medieval Muslim historian Ibn Khaldun, ‘the Christians could no longer float a plank upon the sea.’” Belgian historian Henri Pirenne makes the same point when he writes, “The classic tradition was shattered because Islam had destroyed the ancient unity of the Mediterranean” (Mohammed and Charlemagne, 1959).
In 1798 Napoleon invaded and handily conquered Egypt, in the heart of the Muslim world. This conquest was followed in the nineteenth century by other European powers subjugating and colonizing Muslim territories. These invasions traumatized Muslims, for prior to this their centuries-long winning streak intensified the triumphalism inherent in their religion. Muslims’ loss of confidence fell further as they witnessed close-up the power and dynamism of Western ideas and technology. Ibrahim quotes the late Osama bin Laden to the effect that “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”
Muslims saw the West, synonymous for them with Christianity, as the strong horse, and they both feared and admired it. As Ibrahim writes with characteristic directness, “The reason for this admiration is simple: Islam, the quintessential religion of might makes right, teaches respect for power.” Some twentieth-century leaders like Mustafa Kemal Attaturk in Turkey, the Shah in Iran, and Gamal Nasser in Egypt attempted to emulate, at least in theory, Western ideas of nationalism, modernism, and secularization. During this time of Western confidence and hegemony, which extended to about 1950, Christians were tolerated in Muslim countries, and some even called this a “Golden Age for Christians” in the Islamic world.
Of course, some Muslims remained loyal to their old ways, but by the early twentieth century Western scholars saw Islam as “a spent force, an ideology on the wrong side of history.” That they would think this is understandable. After all, the much-extolled “secular city” had triumphed in the West, and it became difficult to imagine that the appetites for consumer items and sexual freedom it unleashed could abate.
But then the West began pulling up stakes in the Islamic world and elsewhere, while simultaneously adopting the religion of sentimentality as a replacement for Christianity. Soon, influential Westerners filled the air with mea culpas for their earlier imperialism and other alleged sins. Ibrahim shows in this book, as well as in his first book, The Al-Qaeda Reader, that the West’s orgy of self-criticism handed the Muslims all the propaganda weapons they required to rationalize the renewal of their attacks on the West. These rationalizations were so eagerly swallowed by our useful idiots that bin Laden poured it on even thicker by writing that the 9/11 attack was partly motivated by America’s failure to ratify the Kyoto treaty on climate change!
What few understood amid this confessional pose adopted by the West was that Islam sees imperialism as the normal exercise of power. So when Westerners began apologizing for what to Muslims were normal actions, Muslims’ respect for the West declined further. At the same time, they grabbed these propaganda clubs handed to them and proceeded to bash the infidels with their own words. Ibrahim argues further that this loss of respect spiraled downward into contempt when Islam saw “the new culture of sexual licentiousness, moral relativism, godlessness, and even the Western self-hatred that flooded Western societies in the late 1960s and 1970s, though they had roots going back decades earlier.” Sayyid Qutb, the twentieth century’s most renowned Islamic scholar and author of a thirty-volume commentary on the Koran, came to the U.S. in the 1940s. Though he had advocated that “Muslims should emulate Western science and technology,” visiting America radicalized him. Qutb insisted that, using Sharia law, Muslims must first clean up their own countries and then those of the rest of the world. Islamic supremacy and aggression, features of that old-time religion from the seventh century, were revived.
Nothing better exemplifies this revival than the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when Islam reasserted itself in the fiery leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini and various bearded and morose mullahs who inveighed against “the Great Satan.” Their exaltation of Islam and loathing of America led to the overthrow of the Shah and the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran — not only an act of war but also a repudiation of centuries-old international protocols. “Islam is back!” these actions screamed loudly, though many people saw them as isolated episodes, perhaps the last gasp of an antiquated ideology, rather than the harbinger of thirty-five years of terrorism. Still wallowing in ignorance, many Westerners dismiss Muslims’ ravaging and killing as merely an extended bad-hair day, a departure from Islam’s enlightened and peaceful past. But the truth is the reverse: The former period of tolerance toward Christians in Muslim lands is an exception, and the present attacks on Christians are the norm.
American and European opinion-makers in the universities, among the intelligentsia, and in the media began to demonize Western tradition in the 1970s and to favor “indigenous peoples” and any exotic “ethnic identity.” Thus came the growth of “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” categories implicitly justified as compensation for centuries of mistreatment. Unfortunately, many ethnic traditions include varieties of tribalism, sometimes expressed as racism or anti-Semitism. Via “noble savage” quackery, Western intellectuals broadened the pathway for once Westward-looking Muslims to return to their roots. History became a melodrama wherein the West is the villain and Islam the noble victim. Within these assigned roles, the true history of the relationship between the West and Islam reversed, with the West cast as greedy, violent crusaders who invaded peaceful, prosperous Muslim lands.
From such melodrama, Ibrahim reports, we get Robert Fisk, correspondent for The Independent, who follows this script of “spot the victim.” Fisk has criticized Christians for supporting status-quo candidates like Ahmed Shafiq in Egypt, not understanding that Christians are the victims and that jihadist alternatives to these regimes will kill Christians and burn their churches while imposing Sharia law. Former President Bill Clinton misreads the situation in much the same way when he relies on materialist explanations. “What’s fueling all this stuff,” he says, is “inequality and poverty.” When the Nigerian government uses force against the Boko Haram jihadist gang for killing Christians, Mr. Clinton preaches that such “violence” will not solve the problem. Violence, however, is the problem. From these ignominious examples, Ibrahim points to a pathetic irony: The Muslims presently persecuting Christians are themselves descendants of Christians who were persecuted by the same ideology and in the same terrible circumstances.
Raymond Ibrahim was born in America of Coptic Christian parents and has traveled widely in the Middle East. He has appeared before the U.S. Congress and on national radio and television, and he writes regularly for major newspapers and scholarly journals. His comprehensive description of the persecution of Christians by Muslims is extensively documented. While Crucified Again might not provide much comfort, it is necessary reading for those who wish to understand the dynamic that propels the Islamic threat.
Editor’s note: The following is Part Two of a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia following Bill Maher’s recent exclamation that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” Click here for Part One.
Death to Traitors (AKA “Apostates”)
Once a Mafioso takes the oath of loyalty to the mafia—including the Omertà code of silence and secrecy—trying to leave the “family” is instantaneously seen as a betrayal and therefore punishable by death. Any family member, great or small, is given authority to kill the traitor, the “turncoat.”
Compare this to Islam. To be born to a Muslim father immediately makes the newborn a Muslim—there are no oaths to be taken, much less an option in the matter. And, according to Islamic law, if born Muslims at any point in their lives choose to leave Islam, they are deemed “apostates”—traitors—and punished including by death. Any zealous Muslim, not just the authorities, is justified in killing the apostate (hence why Muslim families that kill apostate children are rarely if ever prosecuted).
In the words of Muhammad—the messenger (underboss) of Allah (godfather): “Whoever leaves his Islamic faith, kill him.”
The charge of “traitor” is especially applicable when the Muslim converts to another religion—most frequently Islam’s historic competitor, Christianity—as opposed to simply losing faith in their hearts. Put differently, the very recent plight of Meriam Ibrahim—a Sudanese Christian wife and mother who, while pregnant, was imprisoned and sentenced to death for “apostasy”—is the tip of the iceberg of the plight of apostates under Islam.
Loyalty and Enmity
Loyalty is an absolute prerequisite of the mafia. Following elaborate rituals of blood oaths, mafia members are expected to maintain absolute loyalty to the family, on pain of death.
Compare this with Islam’s “Loyalty and Enmity” doctrine, which calls on Muslims to be loyal to each other and their appointed emirs, even if they dislike them.
For example, Koran 9:71 declares that “The believing [Muslim] men and believing [Muslim] women are allies of one another” (see also 8:72-75). And according to Muhammad, “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him…. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth, and his honor”—precisely those three things of a Mafioso that are inviolable for his mafia “brother.” (This is why Muslims like U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan, whose “worst nightmare” was to be deployed to fight fellow Muslims, often lash out.)
Aside from loyalty to the family, mafia members are also expected not to befriend or associate with too many “outsiders”—who by nature are not to be trusted, as they are not of the “family”—unless such a “friendship” helps advance the family’s position.
Similarly, the second half of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity—the enmity—calls on Muslims to maintain distance from and have hate for all non-Muslim “infidels.”
Thus Koran 5:51 warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them.” According to the mainstream Islamic exegesis of al-Tabari, Koran 5:51 means that the Muslim who “allies with them [non-Muslims] and enables them against the believers, that same one is a member of their faith and community,” that is, an outsider and enemy.
Similar scriptures include Koran 4:89, 4:144, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22; the latter simply states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims—“even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin.” Koran 60:1 declares, “O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy [non-believers] for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth [i.e., while they deny Islam]?”… Keep reading
Editor’s note: The following is Part One of a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia.
During a recent debate on HBO’s Real Time, host Bill Maher declared that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.”
Maher was apparently referring to Islam’s “blasphemy” laws, which ban on pain of death any “insult”—as found in a statement, a picture, a book—to Islam and especially its prophet, Muhammad.
While Maher has been criticized for his “Islamophobic” assertion, he and others may be surprised to learn that the similarities between Islam and the mafia far exceed punishing those who say, draw, or write “the wrong thing.”
In the following three part article, we will examine a number of these similarities.
In this article, Part One, we will look at the relationship between Allah, his messenger Muhammad, and the Muslims, and note several parallels with the relationship between the godfather, his underboss, and the mafia.
In Part Two (forthcoming), we will examine the clannish nature of the mafia and compare it to Islam’s concept of “Loyalty and Enmity”—including how in both Islam and the mafia, those members who wish to break away, to “apostatize,” are killed.
In Part Three (forthcoming), we will examine how both the mafia and Islam have both historically profited from the “protection” racket.
Allah as Godfather; Muhammad as Underboss
The padrino of larger mafia organizations and families—literally, the godfather or “boss of bosses”—has absolute control over his subordinates and is often greatly feared by them for his ruthlessness. He has an “underboss,” a right-hand man who issues his orders and enforces his will. The godfather himself is often inaccessible; mafia members need to go through the underboss or other high ranking associates.
Compare this with the relationship between Allah and his “messenger” Muhammad (in Arabic, Muhammad is most commonly referred to as al-rasul, “the messenger”). Unlike the Judeo-Christian God—a personal God, a Father, that according to Christ is to be communed with directly (Matt 6:9)—Islam’s god, Allah, is unreachable, unknowable, untouchable. Like the godfather, he is inaccessible. His will is enforced by his messenger, Muhammad.
If the Judeo-Christian God calls on the faithful to “come now, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18), Allah says “Do not ask questions about things that, if made known to you, would only pain you” (Koran 5:101). Just follow orders.
Though largely invisible and operating behind the scenes, the godfather and his underboss get a “piece of the action”—a “cut”—of all spoils acquired by their subordinates, the mafia.
So do Allah and his messenger Muhammad. Koran 8:41 informs Muslims that “one-fifth [a “cut”] of all plunder you acquire goes to Allah and the messenger” (followed by Muhammad’s family and finally the needy).
The godfather, through his underboss, regularly sends his followers to make “hits”—to assassinate—those deemed enemies of the family.
So did Allah and his messenger. .. Keep reading
Once again, Islamic State Muslims are pointing to Islam in order to justify what the civilized world counts as atrocities.
According to an October 13 report in the Telegraph,
Islamic State jihadists have given detailed theological reasons justifying why they have taken thousands of women from the Iraqi Yazidi minority and sold them into sex slavery.
A new article in the Islamic State English-language online magazine Dabiq not only admits the practice but justifies it according to the theological rulings of early Islam.
“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated,” the article says.
As for “theological reasons” for sex slavery “according to the Sharia,” these are legion—from male Muslim clerics, to female Muslim activists. Generally they need do no more than cite the clear words of Koran 4:3, which permit Muslims to copulate with female captives of war, or ma malakat aymanukum, “what”—not whom—“your right hands possess.”
The article continues:
But most of it [Islamic State “article” or fatwa] is devoted to theological justifications for Islamic State behaviour, citing early clerics and the practices of the Prophet Mohammed and his Companions during the early years of Islamic expansion.
Indeed, while many are now aware of the Koran’s and by extension Sharia’s justification for slaves, sexual or otherwise, fewer are willing to embrace the fact that the prophet of Islam himself kept and copulated with concubines conquered during the jihad.
One little-known story is especially eye-opening:
During Muhammad’s jihad on the Jews of Khaybar, he took for himself from among the spoils of war one young woman, a teenager, Safiya bint Huyay, after hearing of her beauty. (Earlier the prophet had bestowed her on another Muslim jihadi, but when rumor of her beauty reached him, the prophet reneged and took her for himself.)
Muhammad “married” Safiya hours after he had her husband, Kinana, tortured to death in order to reveal hidden treasure. And before this, the prophet’s jihadis slaughtered Safiya’s father and brothers.
While Islamic apologists have long tried to justify this account—often by saying that Muhammad gave her the honor of “marriage” as opposed to being a concubine and that she opted to convert to Islam—they habitually fail to cite what Islamic sources record, namely Baladhuri’s ninth century Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (“Book of Conquests”).
According to this narrative, after the death of Muhammad, Safiya confessed that “Of all men, I hated the prophet the most—for he killed my husband, my brother, and my father,” before “marrying” (or, less euphemistically, raping) her… Keep reading
During U.S. President Obama’s televised speech on his strategies to defeat the Islamic State, he said, “Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL” (a reference to the Islamic State, “ISIS” or “IS”).
Now, why is that?
First, we know by “cancer” he is not referring to Islamic ideology—since he does not acknowledge that Islam has anything to do with violence and even banned knowledge of Islamic ideology from being studied by law enforcement and national security communities.
Were he referring to Islamic ideology, the need for “time” would of course be legitimate, to say the least.
No, the cancer he is referring to is the very real, tangible, and temporal Islamic State, which exists in time and space.
But this prompts the following question: Why did it take the United States military three weeks to overthrow the very real and tangible regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003 whereas “it will take time”— years, according to most military analysts — for the U.S. to defeat the Islamic State?
This question becomes more pressing when one considers that the Iraq conquered by the U.S. in less than a month had an actual government and longstanding military and was better organized and consolidated — certainly in comparison to the Islamic State, often described as a “ragtag team of terrorists” that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
The reason it will take years is because Obama refuses to strike the Islamic State decisively and effectively, specifically by sending in U.S. ground forces — the very forces that were responsible for keeping the Islamic jihadis at bay; the forces he withdrew leading to the rise of the Islamic State; and the forces that he refuses to utilize again, even though they are necessary to decisively crush the “caliphate.”
Obama’s “it will take time” assertion prompts the following prediction: U.S. airstrikes on IS targets will continue to be just enough to pacify those calling for action against the caliphate (“we’re doing what we can”). The official narrative will be that the Islamic State is gradually being weakened, that victory is a matter of time (remember, “It will take time”).
In the meantime, IS will slowly begin to fade away from the headlines. After all and unreported in any Western media, soon after pictures and videos of the decapitations of Americans went viral prompting much media attention followed by international shock and outrage, the “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, called for an immediate stop to the videotaping and internet dissemination of such beheadings and other Sharia punishments.
He called on both official channels affiliated with IS as well as unofficial sympathizers and allies on social media to cease posting such pictures and/or video-clips, adding that the Islamic State “would follow any violation of this resolution seriously.”… Keep reading
I was recently interviewed on Reel Talk with Audrey Russo. Topics revolved around the Islamic State, Egypt, Israel, and more. Click here to listen to the over-20-minute interview.
During its conquests in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has had to come up with a method to allow all those non-Sunnis who ended up converting to Sunni Islam instead of being killed—the Christians, Yazidis, Shias, who for whatever reason remained under IS territory—to be identified as true and legitimate Muslims.
Accordingly, it has been issuing “non-infidel certificates.” Like a driver’s license, these certificates have the picture of the named convert and explain to any Islamic State soldier that the named is a Muslim now and thus it is “impermissible to lash, crucify, or rape him [portion circled in red].” The certificate is good for three months. Its text follows:
To whom it may concern,
We hereby notify you that the one named Na’il Salu bin Basaam of the people of the al-Raqa emirate took and satisfactorily passed a course on Repentance.
Based on this, we hereby grant him this certificate confirming that he is not an infidel [kafir] and that it is impermissible to lash, crucify, or rape him, unless a legitimate reason arises for the soldiers of the caliphate or if it’s been established that he has returned to apostasy and wants his freedom.
Over a decade ago, the U.S. conquered Iraq; its military and intelligence were on the ground for years with autonomy. In other words, U.S. influence and authority was more pronounced in Iraq than probably any other Muslim country in the world.
And yet it is in this one Muslim nation, where the U.S. had most authority, where U.S. blood and treasure were spent, that the absolute worst Islamic terrorist group—the Islamic State—was born.
Or is this too related to the great “Arab Spring” failures of the Obama administration?
Consider: Obama was repeatedly warned that withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq would lead to something exactly like the Islamic State—with all the atrocities that have become synonymous with that name.
Indeed, arguing against early troop withdrawal, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, once made the following now prophetic remarks:
To begin withdrawing before our commanders tell us we are ready would be dangerous for Iraq, for the region and for the United States.
It would mean surrendering the future of Iraq to Al Qaeda.
It would mean that we’d be risking mass killings on a horrific scale.
It would mean we allow the terrorists to establish a safe haven in Iraq to replace the one they lost in Afghanistan.
It would mean we’d be increasing the probability that American troops would have to return at some later date to confront an enemy that is even more dangerous.
The point here is not to “side” with Bush—the idea of transporting “democracy” to an Islamic country was ill-conceived from the start—but rather to demonstrate that Obama was thoroughly warned what troop withdrawal would lead to: the Islamic State. The same U.S. military and intelligence sources that allowed Bush to make that prescient statement also shared their assessments with Obama.
Yet Obama withdrew anyway. In December 2011, Obama declared the Iraq war a success and pulled out American troops. And, to the eyes of most Americans, things were relatively quiet—until, of course, the world heard that a head-chopping, infidel-crucifying, mass-murdering “caliphate” had “suddenly” arisen.
Was Iraq also part of the euphoria of the Obama-endorsed “Arab Spring”?
Recall that final troop withdrawal from Iraq occurred at the height of the Arab Spring when the Obama administration was simultaneously betraying key U.S. allies in the Islamic world such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.
If the U.S. was not going to stand by its former “secular strongmen,” but instead was willing to hold hands with their traditional enemies, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, why should it have supported Iraq’s Nouri Maliki?… Keep reading
After my article “Islamic State Atrocities: Products of Grievances’?” appeared, a reader sent me the following email, which makes similar points, specifically about Obama’s use of the word “expediency” to explain away Islamic State savageries:
Dear Mr. Ibrahim,
You are so correct to find Obama’s real point of view by paying close attention to his phraseology and vocabulary, something I find too few commentators take the time to do. Often one word, such as “grievances,” gives the whole show away. I read the transcript of Obama’s remarks made after the beheading of Mr. Foley — after which Obama returned to his old game – and came upon this transcript from WSJ:
[ISIS] may claim out of expediency that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.
Expediency! This is an extremely revealing word. ISIS only hates America because they find it expedient to do so– I suppose for PR or recruiting reasons or some such thing in Obama’s mind.
Obama refuses to recognize the spiritual (i.e. religious/jihadist) motivation of the ISIS terrorists, because of the sympathy he and his advisers have for the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, his contempt for America and because Obama only thinks in material — that is non-spiritual — terms.
The same applies to his usage of the word “grievances.” These words denotes a fatal weakness in Obama’s conception and handling of terrorism both at home and abroad — in his eyes, there is no real or serious underlying threat or problem of jihadist terrorism with regard to the USA, and in particular none that he will allow to get in the way of his overriding goal of transforming America and its place in the world.
In effect, what this means is that he is willing to put the whole USA and all Americans on the same chopping block as other countries such as Israel and the Christians in Muslim lands, either out of gross negligence, or for ideological reasons, or out of incompetence, or (most likely) a combination of all three. A rather novel way of viewing the motivation for a brutal public beheading: an act of mere expediency.
The following is an envisioning of what might eventually unfold if the Islamic State is left to flourish. Although it is only one of several possible scenarios, due to its ostensibly implausible nature, it requires some delineation.
The Islamic State (IS) continues expanding its territory and influence through jihad. Religious minorities that fall under its sway—at least the fortunate ones—continue to flee in droves, helping make the Islamic State what it strives to be: purely Islamic.
Left unfettered, with only cosmetic airstrikes by an indecisive Obama administration to deal with, IS continues growing in strength and confidence, as Western powers again stand idly by.
More and more Muslims around the world, impressed and inspired by what they see, become convinced that the Islamic State is in fact the new caliphate deserving of their allegiance. Such Muslims—the most “radical” kind, who delight in the slaughter and subjugation of “infidels”—continue leaving Western nations and migrating to the Islamic State to wage jihad and live under Sharia.
In other words, a sizable chunk of the world’s most radicalized/pious Muslims all become localized in one region. There they openly and proudly display their anti-infidel supremacism.
Throughout, Western media have no choice but to report objectively—so thoroughly exposed for its barbarity has IS become that it is an insurmountable task to whitewash its atrocities. The world has seen enough about IS to know that this is a savage, hostile, and supremacist state without excuse. Even Obama, after originally citing “grievances” as propelling the Islamic State’s successes, recently made an about face, saying “No grievance justifies these actions.”
Put differently, the “Palestinian card” will not work here. Western media, apologists, and talking heads cannot portray IS terror—including crucifying, beheading, and raping humans simply because they are “infidels”—as a product of “grievances” or “land disputes.”… Continue reading
In light of the ongoing nightmare that is the Islamic State, Foreign Policy, a magazine somewhat reflective of the establishment, has published an article that once again demonstrates why U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is a disaster: because analysts and policymakers, unable or unwilling to grapple with foreign concepts, opt to articulate them through familiar Western paradigms.
Titled “The Islamic State of Sexual Violence” and written by Aki Peritz and Tara Maller—“We both worked as CIA analysts focused on Iraq’s insurgency and counterterrorism during much of the war”—the Foreign Policy(FP) article opens with this telling sentence: “Of the many terrifying stories emerging from Islamic State-occupied Iraq and Syria, the violence directed toward women is perhaps the most difficult to contemplate.”
This is an odd assertion. Of all the atrocities committed by the Islamic State, is sexual violence against women really “the most difficult to contemplate”? After all, deplorable as sexual violence against women is, it is also one of the most common features of warfare since the beginnings of recorded history. It should not be too “difficult to contemplate.”
Instead, one would think that public beheadings and mutilations—with sadistic pictures of the victims posted online—would be more “difficult to contemplate.” One would think herding off 1500 “infidel” men and coldly shooting them in the head to cries of “Allahu Akbar” would be more “difficult to contemplate.” One would think that forcing religious minorities to convert to Islam or die—with Christians crucified for refusing to embrace Islam—would be more “difficult to contemplate.”
But in the very next paragraph we encounter the reason why FP highlights female sexual abuse while ignoring the truly more “difficult to contemplate” atrocities committed by the Islamic State: to exonerate Islam from the deeds of the Islamic State:
IS claims to be a religious organization, dedicated to re-establishing the caliphate and enforcing codes of modesty and behavior from the time of Muhammad and his followers. But this is rape, not religious conservatism. IS may dress up its sexual violence in religious justifications, saying its victims violated Islamic law, or were infidels, but their leaders are not fools. This is just another form of warfare….
That last sentence is what FP wants readers to leave with—“This is just another form of warfare.” The authors chose the most generic atrocity committed during war, one that is common to all cultures and civilizations—sexual violence, enslavement, and rape—to condemn the Islamic State with. The result is that the Islamic State looks like “just another” enemy combatant.
To demonstrate this, the authors proceed to invoke Western standards of “modesty and behavior” to criticize the Islamic State without letting readers know that Islamic notions of “modesty and behavior” differ significantly and are wholly based on Islamic law, not “natural” law or anything else.
Thus while the authors are correct in saying that the Islamic State is “dedicated to re-establishing the caliphate,” the follow up assertion, “and enforcing codes of modesty and behavior from the time of Muhammad and his followers” is immensely loaded and misleading. So is the statement “But this is rape, not religious conservatism.”… Keep reading
Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed on Secure Freedom Radio with Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy. Split into four 10-minute segments, the 40-minute interview follows:
- How ISIS plays into the bigger picture of global jihad
- America’s willful blindness to the fact that to defeat an enemy, one must know the enemy
- The American far-left’s apologist-position towards radical Islam
- Defensive versus offensive jihad in Shariah doctrine
- Comparing ISIS and Al-Qaeda
- The consequences of ISIS declaring an Islamic Caliphate
- President Obama’s misleading remarks about the connection of jihadist terrorism to Islam
- The long history of Christian persecution in the Muslim world
- Recommendations for future U.S. policies to combat the global jihad
- Lessons learned from the American strategy that defeated the communist ideology of the Soviet Union
- Problems with the labels put on those who question the radical aspects of Shariah law
While many have rightfully criticized U.S. President Obama’s recent assertion that the Islamic State “is not Islamic,” some of his other equally curious but more subtle comments pronounced in the same speech have been largely ignored.
Consider the president’s invocation of the “grievances” meme to explain the Islamic State’s success: “At this moment the greatest threats come from the Middle East and North Africa, where radical groups exploit grievances for their own gain. And one of those groups is ISIL — which calls itself the Islamic State.”
Obama’s logic, of course, is fortified by an entire apparatus of professional apologists who make the same claim. Thus Georgetown professor John Esposito — whose apologetics sometimes morph into boldfaced lies — also recently declared that “The “primary drivers [for the Islamic State’s violence] are to be found elsewhere,” that is, not in Islam but in a “long list of grievances.”
In other words and once again, it’s apparently somehow “our fault” that Islamic State Muslims are behaving savagely— crucifying, beheading, enslaving, and massacring people only on the basis that they are “infidels”: thus when IS herds and slaughters “infidel” and/or Shia men (citing the example of the prophet)—that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS captures “infidel” Yazidi and Christian women and children, and sells them on the sex-slave market (citing Islamic teachings) — that’s because they’re angry at something America did; when IS bombs churches, breaks their crosses, and tells Christians to convert or die (citing Islamic scriptures) — that’s because they’re angry at something America did.
Although the “grievance” meme has always flown in the face of logic, it became especially popular after the 9/11 al-Qaeda strikes on America. The mainstream media, following the Islamist propaganda network Al Jazeera’s lead, uncritically picked up and disseminated Osama bin Laden’s videotapes to the West where he claimed that al-Qaeda’s terror campaign was motivated by grievances against the West — grievances that ranged from U.S. support for Israel to U.S. failure to sign the Kyoto Agreement concerning climate change.
Of course, that was all rubbish, and I have written more times than I care to remember about how in their internal Arabic-language communiques to fellow Muslims that never get translated to English, al-Qaeda and virtually every Islamist organization make it a point to insist that jihad is an Islamic obligation that has nothing to do with grievances.
Consider Osama’s own words in an internal letter to fellow Saudis:
Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue — one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice — and it is: Does Islam, or does it not, force people by the power of the sword to submit to its authority corporeally if not spiritually?
Yes. There are only three choices in Islam:  either willing submission [conversion];  or payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam;  or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)
Conversion, submission, or the sword is, of course, the mission of the Islamic State — not alleviating “grievances.”
Worst of all, unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, from day one of its existence, has made it very clear — in Osama’s words, “with power and determination, with one voice” — that its massacres, enslavements, crucifixions, and beheadings of “infidels” are all based on Islamic law or Sharia — not silly “grievances” against the West… Keep reading
In a move that has many anti-Islamist Egyptians concerned, the government has again allowed the Salafis to return to preaching in mosques and on television.
Salafis are Muslims who profess to follow as literally as possible the teachings and habits of Islam’s prophet and his companions.
Soon after the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, which saw the ousting (and subsequent imprisonment) of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic supremacist groups—chief among them the Salafis—were banned from preaching.
The logic was that they were the primary actors responsible for inciting the nation’s more zealous Muslims to attack government targets, Coptic Christian churches, etc.
Accordingly, their access to mosques and other outlets were severely curtailed.
According to Nabil Zaki, the former spokesman for Assembly Party of Egypt, this new move allowing the Salafis, particularly the Nour party, to make a comeback
is a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking…. Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.
Zaki and others also warned that this decision coincides with parliamentarian elections, meaning that the Salafi clerics will again use their influence and religious rhetoric to sway voters towards a more “reactionary,” that is, Islamic, agenda.
To understand why the Islamic State not only decapitates its “infidel” captives, but also mutilates and mocks their corpses—and all to sadistic laughter—one need only turn to the Koran and deeds of Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The Koran exhorts believers to “Fight them [those who oppose Islam], Allah will torment them with your hands, humiliate them, empower you over them, and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts” (Koran 9:14-15).
As usual, to understand the significance of any Koran verse, one must turn to the sira andhadith—the biography and anecdotes of Muhammad, respectively—for context.
Thus we come to the following account concerning the slaughter of ‘Amr bin Hisham, a pagan Arab chieftain originally known as “Abu Hakim” (Father of Wisdom) until Muhammad dubbed him “Abu Jahl” (Father of Stupidity) for his staunch opposition to Islam.
After ‘Amr was mortally wounded by a new convert to Islam during the Battle of Badr, Abdullah ibn Mas‘ud, a close companion of Muhammad, saw the “infidel” chieftain collapsed on the ground. So he went to him and started abusing him. Among other things, Abdullah grabbed and pulled ‘Amr’s beard and stood in triumph on the dying man’s chest.
According to Al-Bidaya wa Al-Nihaya (“The Beginning and the End”), Ibn Kathir’s authoritiative history of Islam, “After that, he [Abdullah] cut his [‘Amr’s] head off and bore it till he placed it between the hands of the Prophet. Thus did Allah heal the hearts of the believers with it.”
This, then, is the true significance of Koran 9:14-15: “Fight them, Allah will torment them with your hands [mortally wounding and eventually decapitating ‘Amr], humiliate them [pulling his beard], empower you over them [standing atop him], and heal the hearts of the believers, removing the rage from their hearts [at the sight of his decapitated head].”
The logic here is that, pious Muslims are so full of zeal for Allah’s cause that the only way their inflamed hearts can be at rest is to see those who oppose Allah and his prophet utterly crushed—humiliated, mutilated, decapitated. Then the hearts of the believers can be at ease and “healed.”
This is surely one of the reasons behind the Islamic State’s dissemination of gory videos and pictures of its victims: the new “caliphate” is trying to heal the hearts of every believer inflamed for the cause of Allah.
If this sounds too farfetched, consider the following picture of a decapitated “infidel” from the Islamic State’s websites. The Arabic caption to the left says “healing for hearts”—a clear reference to the aforementioned Koran verse… Click for images and to keep reading
As shocking as the Muslim-run sex ring in Rotherham, England may seem to some—1,400 British children as young as 11 plied with drugs before being passed around and sexually abused in cabs and kabob shops—the fact is that this phenomenon is immensely widespread. In the United Kingdom alone, it’s the fifth sex abuse ring led by Muslims to be uncovered.
Some years back in Australia, a group of “Lebanese Muslim youths” were responsible for a “series of brutal gang rapes” of “Anglo-Celtic teenage girls.” A few years later in the same country, four Muslim Pakistani brothers raped at least 18 Australian women, some as young as 13. Even in the United States, a gang of Somalis—Somalia being a Muslim nation where non-Muslims, primarily Christians, are ruthlessly persecuted—was responsible for abducting, buying, selling, raping and torturing young American girls as young as 12.
The question begs itself: If Muslim minorities have no fear of exploiting “infidel” women and children in non-Muslim countries—that is, where Muslims themselves are potentially vulnerable minorities—how are Muslims throughout the Islamic world, where they are dominant, treating their vulnerable, non-Muslim minorities?
The answer is a centuries-long, continents-wide account of nonstop sexual predation. Boko Haram’s recent abduction and enslavement of nearly 300, mostly Christian, schoolgirls last April in Nigeria is but the tip of the iceberg.
The difference between what happens in Nigeria and what happens in Western nations is based on what I call “Islam’s Rule of Numbers.” Wherever Muslims grow in numbers, Islamic phenomena intrinsic to the Muslim world—in this case, the sexual abuse of “infidel” children and teenagers—comes along with them.
Thus in the United Kingdom, where Muslims make for a sizeable—and notable—minority, the systematic rape of “subhuman infidels” naturally takes place. But when caught, Muslim minorities, being under “infidel” authority, cry “Islamophobia” and feign innocence.
In Nigeria, however, which is roughly 50 percent Islamic, such “apologetics” are unnecessary. After seizing the nearly 300 schoolgirls, the leader of Boko Haram appeared on videotape boasting that “I abducted your girls. I will sell them on the market, by Allah…. There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell.”
It’s the same in Pakistan—the nation where many of the United Kingdom’s Muslims, including the majority involved in the Rotherham sex ring, come from. See this article for a long list of Christian children—as young as 2-years-old—who were targeted by Muslim men for abduction, enslavement, and rape. In every single case, police do nothing except sometimes side with the Muslim rapists against their “infidel” victims.
For example, last Easter Sunday, four Muslim men gang-raped a 7-year-old Christian girl named Sara, leaving her in “critical condition.” According to Asia News, “the police, instead of arresting the culprits, helped the local clan to kidnap the girl’s father… to ‘force the family not to report the story, to reach an agreement with the criminals and to avoid a dispute of a religious background.’”
As for systematic child grooming, in 2010, Kiran George, a Christian girl who was “enslaved by a woman, Sama, a dealer of youth to be sold as prostitutes or slaves to wealthy Muslim families,” was doused with gasoline by a police officer involved in the sex ring, set on fire, and burned to death… Keep reading
Despite how unsavory and barbaric Islamic groups and persons around the world have been behaving—whether Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Mesopotamia’s Islamic State, Somalia’s Shabaab—perhaps few things are as disgusting and cowardly as the Muslim rape of nuns: defenseless Christian women who sacrifice much of their lives to help sick and needy Muslims.
The latest such attack comes from Bangladesh, which is over 90% Muslim in population. In early July, dozens of men armed with machetes, knives and iron rods attacked the convent of PIME (Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions nuns in Boldipuku), a village mission in north Bangladesh.
“The nuns were beaten and molested, ending when police arrived,” reported Bishop Sebastian Tudu.
Catholic Online has the complete story:
[S]ome 60 men attempted to loot the building and rape the nuns… The attackers first tied the hands and legs of the mission’s two night watchmen and gagged them in the early morning hours. They then broke down the door of the room where the assistant pastor Father Anselmo Marandy was sleeping. They then raided the convent located in the mission campus…. Three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape and were sent to their provincial house in Dhaka, the national capital where they are trying to overcome the shock and mental suffering. “It’s very sad that the sisters cannot continue to work for the people, but our sisters are no longer safe,” Rosaline Costa, a Catholic human rights activist lamented. Local Christians are currently living in fear since the attack. Christians form only 0.8 percent of Dinajpur district’s three million people.
Although some of those quoted in the Catholic Online report portray this attack is “unprecedented,” the fact is, nuns raped by Muslims is a phenomenon that goes back centuries. According to Muslim historian Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi (1364-1442), during his raids on then Christian-majority Egypt, Caliph Marwan II (r.744–50) “made captive a number of women from among the nuns of several convents. And he tried to seduce one of them.”
The account describes how the enslaved nun tricked him into killing her, by claiming she had a magic oil that make skin impenetrable: “She then took some oil and anointed herself with it; then stretched out her neck, which he smote with the sword, and made her head fly. He then understood that she preferred death to defilement.”
Writing in the tenth century, the Coptic chronicler Severus ibn Muqaffa records that “the Arabs [i.e., Muslims] in the land of Egypt had ruined the country…. They burnt the fortresses and pillaged the provinces, and killed a multitude of the saintly monks who were in them [monasteries] and they violated a multitude of the virgin nuns and killed some of them with the sword.”
After the Islamic conquest of Constantinople in 1453, according to eyewitness accounts, “Monasteries and Convents were broken in. Their tenants were killed, nuns were raped, many, to avoid dishonor, killed themselves. Killing, raping, looting, burning, enslaving, went on and on according to tradition.”
Such is history—expunged as it is in the modern West—even as it repeats itself today. Thus, in August 2013, after torching a Franciscan school in Egypt, “Islamists,” in the words of the AP, “paraded three nuns on the streets like ‘prisoners of war’” and “Two other women working at the school were sexually harassed and abused as they fought their way through a mob.”
Indeed, the rise in attacks on Christian nuns throughout the Islamic world further demonstrates that they are no more inviolable than other “infidel” women:
- Somalia: In response to Pope Benedict’s historical quotes which, like so many other things so enraged the Islamic world, Muslims in Somalia shot Leonella Sgarbati—a 66-year-old nun who had devoted 30 years of her life working in Africa—in her back. Her last words before dying in hospital were: “I forgive; I forgive.”
- Pakistan: In September 2012, gunmen on motorbikes dressed in green (Islam’s color) opened fire on the St. Francis Xavier Catholic Cathedral in Hyderabad, murdering at least 28 people. Their immediate target was a nun, Mother Christina.
- Libya: In February 2013, after the fall of Col. Gaddafi, Islamic rebels threatened nuns into fleeing the nation. They had been there since 1921, focused primarily on helping the sick and needy.
- Palestinian Authority: Last year, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property.
- Philippines: In an article discussing a Christmas Day church bombing in a Muslim-majority region, we learn that the jihadi group responsible “has been blamed for several bomb attacks on the Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo since the early 2000s and for kidnapping priests and nuns.”
- Guinea: In June 2013, during a mob-led frenzy, Christians and their churches were savagely attacked in the Muslim-majority nation—with some 95 Christians slain and 130 wounded—including “the quarters of the nuns, [which] was looted before being torched.”
- Syria: Islamic rebels forcibly abducted 13 Christian nuns and three maids, holding them captive for three months. They were finally released after the Bashar government agreed to release some 150 female criminals in exchange.
The above examples come from several countries that have little in common with one another—neither race, language, culture, nor economics—only Islam.
That alone should say something.
But no matter. Far from discussing Islamic history and doctrine, and how they tie to current events—especially the subhuman treatment of non-Muslim “infidels”—the predominant Western mentality simply dismisses Muslim violence as the West’s fault, or, in the words of ex-nun Karen Armstrong and Islamic apologist extraordinaire, “We did this.” Armstrong—who quit the nunnery only to engage in pro-Islamic mummery—insists that what’s needed is for us to focus more on “Muslim pain, Muslim suffering.”
Such, according to the leftist mentality, are the “real” reasons why, wherever Muslim-majorities live near non-Muslim minorities, from the dawn of Islam till today, the latter are being attacked into extinction.
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, before the “Arab Spring” and the plight of Christians became much of a topic, I wrote an article titled “The Silent Extermination of Iraq’s ‘Christian Dogs.’” Revisiting it is useful, as it highlights some important points. The article follows below in italics, with new observations interspersed in regular font:
Last week [April, 2011] an Iraqi Muslim scholar issued a fatwa that, among other barbarities, asserts that “it is permissible to spill the blood of Iraqi Christians.” Inciting as the fatwa is, it is also redundant. While last October’s Baghdad church attack which killed some sixty Christians is widely known—actually receiving some MSM coverage—the fact is, Christian life in Iraq has been a living hell ever since U.S. forces ousted the late Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The important point here is that the plight of Iraq’s Christians did not just begin under the Islamic State, as many seem to believe, but rather from the very first day the (secular) autocrat was removed.
Among other atrocities, beheading and crucifying Christians are not irregular occurrences; messages saying “you Christian dogs, leave or die,” are typical. Islamists see the church as an “obscene nest of pagans” and threaten to “exterminate Iraqi Christians.” John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, summarized the situation well in a recent letter to President Obama:
“The threat of extermination is not empty. Since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, more than half the country’s Christian population has been forced by targeted violence to seek refuge abroad or to live away from their homes as internally displaced people. According to the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, over 700 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 61 churches have been bombed. Seven years after the commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Catholic Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk reports: ‘He who is not a Muslim in Iraq is a second-class citizen. Often it is necessary to convert or emigrate, otherwise one risks being killed.’ This anti-Christian violence is sustained by a widespread culture of Muslim supremacism that extends far beyond those who pull the triggers and detonate the bombs.”
Again, more confirmation that the savage persecution of Christians in Iraq—including recent acts of genocide and expulsions—is not a product of the Islamic State, but rather something more homegrown, more—how shall we say?—integral to Muslims unloosed from the grips of secularized dictators?
The grand irony, of course, is that Christian persecution has increased exponentially under U.S. occupation. As one top Vatican official put it, Christians, “paradoxically, were more protected under the dictatorship” of Saddam Hussein.
What does one make of this—that under Saddam, who was notorious for human rights abuses, Christians were better off than they are under a democratic government sponsored by humanitarian, some would say “Christian,” America?
Although I first suggested over three years ago that Christian minorities are the first to suffer whenever the U.S. intervenes in Islamic nations—evincing the types of people the U.S. ends up empowering—this notion is now an ironclad fact, with other examples to add to Iraq, including Libya, Syria, and Egypt under Obama allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Like a Baghdad caliph, Saddam appears to have made use of the better educated Christians, who posed no risk to his rule, such as his close confidant Tariq Aziz. Moreover, by keeping a tight lid on the Islamists of his nation—who hated him as a secular apostate no less than the Christians—the latter benefited indirectly.
Conversely, by empowering “the people,” the U.S. has unwittingly undone Iraq’s Christian minority. Naively projecting Western values on Muslims, U.S. leadership continues to think that “people-power” will naturally culminate into a liberal, egalitarian society—despite all the evidence otherwise. The fact is, in the Arab/Muslim world, “majority rule” traditionally means domination by the largest tribe or sect; increasingly, it means Islamist domination.
Either which way, the minorities—notably the indigenous Christians—are the first to suffer once the genie of “people-power” is uncorked. Indeed, evidence indicates that the U.S. backed “democratic” government of Iraq enables and incites the persecution of its Christians. (All of this raises the pivotal question: Do heavy-handed tyrants—Saddam, Mubarak, Qaddafi, et al—create brutal societies, or do naturally brutal societies create the need for heavy-handed tyrants to keep order?)
Again, a reminder that it is not just the Islamic jihadis and other U.S. sponsored “rebels” that persecute Christians, but even the U.S. installed government of Iraq. Moreover, a few months after the above was written, the government of “liberated” Afghanistan destroyed the last Christian church—entirely under U.S. auspices.
Another indicator that empowering Muslim masses equates Christian suffering is the fact that, though Iraqi Christians amount to a mere 5% of the population, they make up nearly 40% of the refugees fleeing Iraq. It is now the same in Egypt: “A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.”
At least Egypt’s problems are homegrown, whereas the persecution of Iraq’s Christians is a direct byproduct of U.S. intervention. More ironic has been Obama’s approach: Justifying U.S. intervention in Libya largely in humanitarian terms, the president recently declared that, while “it is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs… that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.”
Indeed, and we have since seen what Obama’s “humanitarian” actions in Libya have led to—the empowerment of Islamists and jihadis, evinced from things like the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the dramatic rise of Christian persecution. Since Obama “liberated” Libya, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. And it’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was hardly the case under Gaddafi.
True, indeed. Yet, as Obama “acts on behalf of what’s right” by providing military protection to the al-Qaeda connected Libyan opposition, Iraq’s indigenous Christians continue to be exterminated—right under the U.S. military’s nose in Iraq. You see, in its ongoing bid to win the much coveted but forever elusive “Muslim-hearts-and-minds™”—which Obama has even tasked NASA with—U.S. leadership has opted to ignore the inhumane treatment of Islam’s “Christian dogs,” the mere mention of which tends to upset Muslims.
And now the job is largely done, as Christians and other religious minorities are being cleansed from large parts of Iraq, not to mention much of the Islamic world.
I recently spent some time watching Shark Week on television. Being fascinated with large predatory fish, I’ve watched many shark programs throughout the years. And I’ve reached one conclusion: the “liberal” response one is accustomed to when the topics of Islam, Islamists, and their law, Sharia, come up—that they are misunderstood, that we need to respect their ways and be tolerant, that it’s our fault we get attacked—has become so embedded in the Western psyche that it now colors our understanding of the animal world as well.
Almost every shark program follows the same pattern: the large predators are portrayed in all their grandeur, roaming the seas; then we hear of several anecdotes of shark attacks on humans, often with the survivors recounting their experience.
The prevalent theme is this: it’s not the shark’s fault that it attacked and maimed this or that surfer, swimmier, or kayaker. Rather, humans are responsible for entering the shark’s domain, the ocean. If anything, then, it’s the human’s fault for getting attacked. Even great whites, so we are assured, only attack humans by mistake, never intentionally. Finally we get the speech about how sharks are in fact the one’s being mistreated by humans, etc.
To those familiar with the way liberal talking heads constantly whitewash the violence and intolerance of Islam, does this not all sound familiar? From the notion that “it’s our fault” we got attacked, and we “had it coming,” to the idea that we need to be more “understanding and respectful,” the “progressive” memes are all there.
Similarly, two types of survivors often recount their experiences. Most explain how they do not at all blame the shark that attacked them; more magnanimously, others say that, since they lost this or that appendage, they have dedicated their lives to protecting sharks.
The second, more atypical kind of survivors openly demonize sharks and come off less “enlightened.” Such was this one Australian survivor I watched, who seemed the quintessential “hillbilly”—missing teeth and all. He appeared on one of the programs emphatically declaring that all sharks are “evil.” In other words, he was something of an ignorant, bigoted “sharkaphobe.”
One important caveat: I am not “hating on” sharks, suggesting they are “evil,” or siding with this or that perspective. But as a rational person, I know that sharks—especially great whites, bulls, and tigers—are dangerous creatures. As animals of instinct, I do not believe they have the capacity to act “good” or “evil,” but I do not doubt that, given the chance and especially if hungry, they will attack and eat humans. (See this atypical article, for example, which suggests that “thousands of missing drowning victims actually die of shark attacks.”)
Rather, the point here is that this business of always apologizing for Islamic violence, insisting that it is some sort of misunderstanding, which “enlightened” Western persons should be patient of if not completely overlook, has so penetrated society that it has metastasized to almost anything and everything that is potentially dangerous, including ravenous sharks.
Nor does the analogy end here. When Western liberals hold Muslims to a lower standard than the rest of humanity—ignoring the beheadings, massacres, rapes, enslavements, and church burnings habitually committed by the likes of the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, et al.—are they not, in essence, placing such Muslims on a “subhuman” level? Are they not, in essence, saying that they are like brute and instinctive animals—sharks for instance—not to be held responsible for their actions?
In the end, however, the shark analogy fails. After all, sharks attack and kill for survival—like the rest of us carnivores—whereas the Islamists intentionally attack, torture, rape, massacre, mutilate, and incinerate humans simply for not being Muslim.
That is the definition of evil.
Raymond Ibrahim was recently interviewed by Fronda, a leading website in Poland. The English-language version of the Polish interview, originally titled “Raymond Ibrahim: Prostration before Islam,” follows:
Who is Raymond Ibrahim? A scholar, a writer, an activist? What is his mission and the main goal?
I am a little of all that and more. Due to my background, academic and personal, I have had a long interest in the Middle East and Islam, especially the historic and contemporary interaction between Islam and Christianity. After the strikes of September 11, 2001, I took an interest in the current events of the region vis-à-vis the West, and what immediately struck me was how, on the one hand, the conflict was almost identical to the historic conflict, one of continuity—at least that is how many Muslims were portraying it.
But on the other hand, in the West, the narrative was very different and based on a “new paradigm,” one that saw Islam and Muslims as perpetual victims of all sorts of outside and material pressures, mostly from the West. Thus the analyses that were being disseminated through media and academia were to my mind immensely flawed and, while making perfect sense to people in the West—for they were articulated through Western, secular, materialistic paradigms—had little to do with reality as I saw and understood it.
That was one of the reasons I left academia and began writing for more popular audiences, to try to offer a corrective to these flawed narratives. My first book, The Al Qaeda Reader (2007), was meant to do precisely this—to compare the words of al-Qaeda as delivered to the West and as delivered to fellow Muslims, and to show how when speaking to the West, al-Qaeda and other Islamists used Western arguments, claiming any number of grievances, political and otherwise, as being the source of their jihad. Obviously such arguments, widely disseminated by Western mainstream media, made perfect sense to the West.
But al-Qaeda’s Arabic writings that I discovered when I was working at the African and Middle Eastern Division of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., and which I translated for the book, made completely different arguments, basically saying that, irrespective of all grievances, Muslims must hate and wage jihad on all non-Muslim “infidels” until they come under Islamic authority, according to the worldview of Sharia, or Islamic law.
So in a way, you can say my mission since then has been to open Western eyes to the truths and reality of Islam—at least the reality of how it is understood and practiced by many Muslims—for Western eyes have been closed shut in recent times.
You have a dual background. You were born and raised in the U.S. by parents who were born and raised in a Coptic community in Egypt. Are you the ‘clash of civilizations’ personified? What kind of advantages and disadvantages does such an identity and upbringing lead do?
That’s an interesting way of putting it. Along with obvious benefits—being bilingual (Arabic and English), for example—yes, I do believe my background gives me more subtle advantages. Growing up cognizant of both worlds and cultures has, I believe, imparted a higher degree of objectivity to my thinking. Most people’s worldviews are colored by whichever culture they are immersed in—hence exactly why so many Western people tend to project their own values on the Islamic world, convinced that any violence and intolerance that comes from that region must be a product of some sort of socio-political or economic “grievance”—some sort of material, not religious, factor. While I understand, appreciate and participate in Western values and norms, because of my “dual” background, I also cannot project such values and norms on non-Western peoples (and vice-versa, of course).
This has caused my worldview to be, I believe, more neutral and objective, less colored by cultural values and references. Conversely, I have, so far, not encountered any notable disadvantages from such a background—other than perhaps being overly objective and not always able to participate in the common.
In addition to numerous articles in a variety of media, you are also the author of two books. The last one, Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians argues that martyrdom is not a thing from the past. It is not a book with a happy ending, is it?
I prefer to think of it as a dire wake up call to the West. The topic of Muslim persecution of Christians is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. In Crucified Again, I look at the history of this phenomenon, the Islamic scriptures that support it, and the modern era. And what I find and document is unwavering continuity. According to Islamic teaching, Christians and other non-Muslims are “infidels,” and as such, they are seen as at best third class subjects in Islamic states. They cannot build or renovate churches, display crosses or Bibles; they have to pay tribute with humility, according to Koran 9:29; they cannot speak well of Christianity or criticize Islam. They are even required to give up their seats to a Muslim if he demands it, according to strict Islamic teaching (and as found in the “Conditions of Omar,” an important text that discusses how Christian minorities are to be treated under Islam).
Now if you look at history—as recorded by early Arabic/Islamic historians—you will see that that is exactly how Christians were treated under Islam for centuries; that is exactly how nations like Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and all of north Africa, went from being Christian majority to Muslim majority over the centuries: most Christians opted to convert to Islam rather than constantly suffer from third-class status as well as sporadic persecution.
And today, what we are seeing is simply the ongoing continuation of history, as Christians continue to be persecuted, continue to dwindle in numbers in lands that were Christian centuries before Western Europe embraced the faith. Yet, according to Western analysts, etc., all of this is some sort of “misunderstanding” or because Muslims are angry about Israel—anything and everything but codified religious intolerance, even though the latter is so well documented, doctrinally, historically, and in current events.
There are many initiatives aimed at bringing the ‘spirit of dialogue’ between the religions. In the Catholic Church we even celebrate a Day of Islam. What is your opinion on this kind of inter-faith outreach? Will it be successful in decreasing the persecution of Christians or helping individuals like Asia Bibi?
No, it will exacerbate Christian persecution. From my perspective, the more the West and/or Christianity kowtow to Islam—and that is what modern day “interfaith outreach” often amounts to—the more aggressive that religion becomes.
Here, again, is another example of Westerners projecting their norms onto others, namely, Muslims. In the Western paradigm, itself an offshoot of Christianity, showing tolerance and forgiveness will supposedly cause some sort of reciprocation from the one being forgiven and tolerated—since everything is always supposedly a “misunderstanding.” Yet in Islam, might has always made right, and “tolerance” has always been seen as sign of equivocation or weakness—a lack of conviction. If Christians praise Islam, so many Muslims conclude, that is because they feel it is the truth—not because they are trying to find commonalities, a paradigm that is foreign to classical Islam, which sees the world in terms of right (Islam) and wrong (non-Islam).
Again, history sheds some light on this. In the medieval era, there were Christians like Francis of Assisi who tried to have dialogue with Muslims—but in order to get to the truth, including by asking hard questions about Islam often in the context of Christian teaching. Such dialogue is of course admirable because it is sincere. But trying to have dialogue in order to find and parade some minor “commonalities”—while overlooking and ignoring the fundamental differences, which are much more immense and the true sources of conflict—is simply a game of wasting time.
In your writings regarding the Muslim persecutions of Christians, two themes are constantly recurring. Firstly, you claim that it constitutes “an elephant in the room” and secondly you believe that liberal academia and media are biased “whitewashing Islam and blaming the West” for Islamic attacks against non-Muslims. Can you explain the reasons for such arguments?
It’s the “elephant in the room” because few things show such remarkable continuity between the past and the present—while still being thoroughly ignored and treated as an aberration by academia, media, and government—as Muslim persecution of Christians. If you look at the true history recorded by both Muslims and Christians during the Medieval era—one Muslim historian tells of how one caliph destroyed 30,000 churches—you will see that the persecution and subjugation of Christians is an ironclad fact of history.
Today, not only do we see Christians persecuted from one end of the Islamic world to the other, but we see the same exact patterns of persecution that Christians experienced centuries ago, including hostility for and restrictions on churches, hostility for the crucifix and other Christian symbols and icons, restrictions on Christian worship and freedom. (I discuss this in more depth here and here.) As for academia and media, they reject modern day persecution of Christians for a plethora of reasons—not least because they tend to be ideologically anti-Christian—but primarily because it contradicts their entire narrative, specifically the notion that, far from being persecuted, Christians themselves are the most intolerant groups, and that Muslims are “misunderstood others” who have been oppressed by the West.
These themes are today so predominant in the West that few can believe they are almost entirely fabricated—but so they are, according to both history and current events, both of which are naturally suppressed or distorted by academia and media in the interest of keeping their ideologically-charged narrative alive.
In her book, Tenth Parallel, Eliza Griswold writes that religion becomes means of political emancipation, especially between the equator and the tenth parallel, where Christianity and Islam meet. So perhaps it is not about spirituality but power?
Again, one need only turn to history, followed by doctrine, to see that mainstream Islam has always been about power. Its founder and prophet, Muhammad, was a warlord, who went on caravan raids and incited his followers to attack and plunder other tribes that rejected his “prophecy,” seizing their property and women and children—and all in the context of “God told me so.” After his death, his followers did the same, giving people three choices: be part of their “team” by converting, or else keep their religious beliefs, but pay tribute and live as third class subjects, or else die. In this context, and over the course of several centuries of jihadi conquest, the Islamic world was forged.
All this is well justified by the Koran and Islamic Sharia. Compare and contrast this with Christianity’s founder, Jesus Christ: far from a warlord, he preached mercy, peace, and spirituality. And that’s one of the problems: Westerners are so well acquainted with Christianity that they tend to project its approach to Islam—naively thinking that all religions must be the same, primarily spiritual, not concerned with the temporal. But Islam is immensely concerned with the temporal—with power.
You have written about conceptual failures dominating the Western discourse on Islam. What are the main fallacies and why are they dangerous?
Along with the aforementioned fallacy of projecting Christian/Western worldviews onto a distinctly different religion/civilization like Islam, secular Westerners almost always try to understand Islam through secular and materialistic paradigms—the only paradigms they themselves are familiar with. Thus the mainstream interpretation in the West is that “radical Islam” is a byproduct of various sorts of material discontent (economic, political, social) and has little to do with the religion itself.
Westerners apparently think this way because the secular, Western experience has been such that people respond with violence primarily when they feel they are politically, economically, or socially oppressed. While true that many non-Western peoples fit into this paradigm, the fact is, the ideologies of Islam have the intrinsic capacity to prompt Muslims to violence and intolerance vis-à-vis the “other,” irrespective of grievances.
Conceptually, then, it must be first understood that many of the problematic ideologies associated with radical Islam trace directly back to Sharia, Islamic law. Jihad as offensive warfare to subjugate “infidels” (non-Muslims); mandated social discrimination against non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim nations (the regulations governing ahl al-dhimma); the obligation to hate non-Muslims—even if a Muslim is married to one—all of these are clearly defined aspects that have historically been part of Islam’s worldview and not “open to interpretation.”
For example, the obligation to wage expansionist jihad is as “open to interpretation” as the obligation to perform the Five Pillars of Islam, including praying and fasting. The same textual sources and methods of jurisprudence that have made it clear that prayer and fasting are obligatory, have also made it clear that jihad is also obligatory; the only difference is that, whereas prayer and fasting is an “individual” duty, jihad is understood to be a “communal” duty (a fard kifaya). All these intricacies must be understood before Westerners can understand Islam on its own terms.
One of the most popular views as to the reasons of Islamic terrorism is that it is based on political and economic grievances. The recipe to achieve the peaceful world would be then to remove the factors contributing to poverty or oppression and this way disarm the ‘relative deprivation’ bomb. Do you think it is feasible?
Again, as mentioned, political and economic grievances may be a reality; yet it is a distinct fact that, wherever Islam is—including in immensely rich nations like the Gulf nations—violence and intolerance of non-Muslims exist. For example, Christian persecution around the world today is being committed at the hands of Muslims of all races, languages, cultures, and socio-political circumstances: Muslims from among America’s allies (Saudi Arabia) and its enemies (Iran); Muslims from economically rich nations (Qatar) and from poor nations (Somalia and Yemen); Muslims from “Islamic republic” nations (Afghanistan) and from “moderate” nations (Malaysia and Indonesia); Muslims from nations rescued by America (Kuwait) and Muslims claiming “grievances” against America. Moreover, much of the underdeveloped world is suffering from economic, political, and social problems—and yet it is the Islamic world where terrorism in the name of God (Allah) is rampant. One does not hear of, say, disenfranchised Cuban dissidents crashing explosive-laden vehicles into government buildings—while screaming Jesus is great. Yet sceams of Allah is great in the context of terror attacks are ubiquitous.
You have devoted one of your publications to the concept of taqiyya. Can you explain what taqiyya is and why is it important to know it in the West?
Although Muslims are exhorted to be truthful, taqiyya is an Islamic doctrine that permits them to deceive non-Muslims, who by nature are deemed enemies. Some Western scholars and apologists for Islam insist that taqiyya is a very arcane teaching developed by Shi’a and to be used only when their lives are in danger. In reality, however, taqiyya—as well as its sister teaching, tawriya—is used by mainstream Islam (Sunnism) and gives Muslims great freedom to deceive infidels if the deception can be rationalized as a way to help empower Islam over non-Muslims.
Normative Islamic teaching is so that, almost anything can be rationalized as permissible—for example “martyrdom operations” (even though suicide is banned by Islam)—as long as they can be perceived as helping empower Islam. Islamic prophet Muhammad himself permitted deceit, including to one’s wife. One of the few Arabic language books devoted to the subject, At-Taqiyya fi’l-Islam (Dissimulation in Islam) makes it clear that taqiyya is hardly limited to Shi‘a dissimulating in fear of persecution. Written by Sami Mukaram, a former Islamic studies professor at the American University of Beirut and author of some twenty-five books on Islam, the opening sentences of the book clearly demonstrate the ubiquity and broad applicability of taqiyya: “Taqiyya is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agrees to it and practices it … We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya is mainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the mainstream … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era.”
Do you have any words of advice to countries like Poland where the influence of Islam is still relatively weak but increasing due to immigration and certain radicalization of indigenous Muslim groups (e.g. Polish Tatars stopped their traditional prayers for Poland which used to be their custom)?
My advice is to take heed of what I call “Islam’s Rule of Numbers,” which is basically the unwavering, statistical fact that, the more Muslims grow in numbers (and thus strength), the more aggressive they become. In the U.S., for example, where Muslims are less than 1% of the population, acts of Islamic intolerance are relatively uncommon. Islamic assertiveness is limited to political activism dedicated to portraying Islam as a “religion of peace,” the painting of any and all critics as “Islamophobes,” and sporadic, but clandestine, acts of terror.
In some Western European nations, where Muslims make for much larger minorities—for example, the UK and France—open violence and religious intolerance is common. But because they are still a vulnerable minority, Islamic violence is always placed in the context of “grievances,” a word that, as we have seen, pacifies Westerners.
Where Muslim numbers reach 35-50% of a population, the full-blown jihad is often declared, as in Nigeria, which although is half Christian half Muslim is also one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. In short, Islamic aggressiveness is very much a product of Islamic strength in numbers. I discussed this at length here.
Inevitably one stumbles upon the ‘so what?’ question. Nobody persecutes Christians in France and churches are not burnt in Germany. It is doubtful that Europe will be washed away with the waves of Islam. To the contrary, it looks like Europe wants to leave religions behind. Would you not say so?
Much of this view is based on selfishness, of the modern West’s egoistic and highly individualistic worldview. What such people are really saying is that, by and large, if nothing changes and people remain indifferent, they themselves and their generation will go through life fine without much worry from the Islamic question. But this position also shows absolute indifference to future generations and the world they will inherit. In short, yes, most Europeans today may not personally suffer from Islam. But they are opening the floodgates wide to the potential suffering of their descendants.
Is jizya—the money non-Muslims historically paid their Muslim conquerors—meant to buy them “protection,” including from outside enemies, as modern Western academics maintain? Or was it simply extortion money meant to buy non-Muslims their lives, as Islam’s scriptures mandate?
The word jizya appears in Koran 9:29: “Fight those among the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, nor forbid what Allah and his Messenger have forbidden, nor embrace the religion of truth, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued(emphasis added).”
In the hadith, the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, regularly calls on Muslims to demand jizya of non-Muslims: “If they refuse to accept Islam,” said the Islamic prophet, “demand from them the jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay jizya, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
Keeping the above in mind, consider the following July 18 report from Reuters:
Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul….
It said Christians who wanted to remain in the “caliphate” that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a “dhimma” contract—a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya.”
“We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract – involving payment of jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword,” the announcement said.
“After this date [July 19], there is nothing between us and them but the sword,” it said.
The Nineveh decree echoes one that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the former name for the Islamic State, issued in the Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.
Note how straightforward the Islamic State’s words are—jizya, conversion, or death—compared to the language of Reuters, which twice invokes the concept of “protection” without explaining from whom: 1) “a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as “jizya”; 2) “demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.”
Reuters doesn’t bother to clarify this notion of “protection,” but rather leaves it vague, implying that the protection Christians receive is against some random elements.
The reason for this obfuscation is that Mideast academics in the West have been whitewashing the meaning of jizya for decades. After all, the concept of jizya is one of the most ironclad proofs that Islam is innately intolerant of non-Muslims.
A very typical Western definition for jizya can be found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “The Muslim rulers tolerated the dhimmis [conquered non-Muslims] and allowed them to practice their religion. In return for protection [from whom?] and as a mark of their submission, the dhimmis were required to pay a special poll tax known as the jizya.”
Other academics have gone so far as to claim that non-Muslims paid jizya to buy Muslim protection against outside forces. Consider the following excerpt from John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. It essentially makes the idea of being subjugated to Islamic overlords and paying them tribute appear as an enviable position for non-Muslim minorities:
In many ways, local populations [Christians, Jews, and others] found Muslim rule more flexible and tolerant than that of Byzantium and Persia. Religious communities were free to practice their faith to worship and be governed by their religious leaders and laws in such areas as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In exchange, they were required to pay tribute, a poll tax (jizya) that entitled them to Muslim protection from outside aggression and exempted them from military service. Thus, they were called the “protected ones” (dhimmi). In effect, this often meant lower taxes, greater local autonomy (emphasis added) …
The idea that jizya was extracted in order to buy “Muslim protection from outside aggression” is an outright lie—one that, as the equivocal tone of the aforementioned Reuters report indicates, has taken root in the West.
Equally false is Esposito’s assertion that jizya was paid to “exempt them from military service”—as if conquering Muslims would even want or allow their despised “infidel” subjects to fight alongside them in the name of jihad without first converting to Islam.
The root meaning of the Arabic word “jizya” is simply to “repay” or “recompense,” basically to “compensate” for something. According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary, the standard Arabic-English dictionary, jizya is something that “takes the place” of something else, or “serves instead.”
Simply put, conquered non-Muslims were to purchase their lives, which were otherwise forfeit to their Muslim conquerors, with money. Instead of taking their lives, they took their money. As one medieval jurist succinctly puts it, “their lives and their possessions are only protected by reason of payment of jizya” (Crucified Again, p. 22).
So jizya was, and is indeed, protection money—though protection, not from outsiders, as Esposito and others claim, but from surrounding Muslims themselves. Whether it’s the first caliphate from over a millennium ago or whether it’s the newest caliphate, the Islamic State, Muslim overlords continue to deem the lives of their non-Muslim subjects forfeit unless they purchase it, ransom it with money.
There is nothing humane, reasonable, or admirable about demands for jizya from conquered non-Muslim minorities, as the academics claim. Jizya is simply extortion money. Its purpose has always been to provide non-Muslims with protection from Muslims: pay up, or else become one of us and convert to Islam, or else die.
And it is commanded in both the Koran and Hadith, the twin pillars of Islam.
In short, jizya is an ugly fact of Islam—one that, distort as they may, the academics can’t whitewash away, even as the world stands idly by watching its resumption in the twenty-first century.
Days before the recent Israel/Hamas conflict erupted, the Presbyterian Church USA withdrew $21 million worth in investments from Israel because, as spokesman Heath Rada put it, the Israeli government’s actions “harm the Palestinian people.”
Soon after, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and was asked if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church’s move. Netanyahu responded:
It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful. You know, you look at what’s happening in the Middle East and I think most Americans understand this, they see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians—Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. So most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation. You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.
It’s difficult—if not impossible—to argue with Netanyahu’s logic. Indeed, several points made in his one-minute response are deserving of some reflection.
First, the obvious: why is it that self-professed Christians completely ignore the horrific Islamic persecution of fellow Christians in the Middle East, while grandstanding against the Jewish state for trying to defend itself against the same ideology that persecutes Christians?
And he is absolutely right to say that the persecution of Christians in the Mideast has reached a point of “savagery of unimaginable proportions.” Perhaps the only thing more shocking than the atrocities Mideast Christians are exposed to—the slaughters, crucifixions, beheadings, torture and rape—is the absolute silence emanating from so-called mainline Protestant churches in the U.S.
Note also the nations Netanyahu highlighted for their brutal persecution of Christian minorities: Libya, Syria, and Iraq. Indigenous Christians were markedly better off in all three nations before the U.S. got involved, specifically be empowering, deliberately or not, Islamist forces. Now,according to recent studies, Christians in all three nations are experiencing the worst form of persecution around the globe:
- Libya: Ever since U.S.-backed, al-Qaeda-linked terrorists overthrew Gaddafi, Christians—including Americans—have been tortured and killed (including for refusing to convert) and churches bombed. It’s “open season” on Copts, as jihadis issue a reward to Muslims who find and kill Christians. This was not the case under Gaddafi.
- Syria: Christians have been attacked in indescribable ways—wholesale massacres, bombed and desecrated churches, beheadings, crucifixions, and rampant kidnappings—since the U.S.-sponsored “Arab Spring” reached the Levant.
- Iraq: After the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein, Christian minorities were savagely attacked and slaughtered, and dozens of their churches were bombed (see here for graphic images). In the last decade, Christians have been terrorized into near-extinction, with well over half of them fleeing Iraq.
If the Presbyterian Church has problems with governments that persecute people—in this case, the Israeli government’s purported treatment of Palestinians, hence the Presbyterian Church’s divestment from Israel—perhaps it should begin by criticizing its own government’s proxy war on fellow Christiansin the Middle East.
Christians are also being targeted in the P.A. territories—by the very same elements the Presbyterian Church is trying to defend.
In 2012, for example, a pastor noted that “animosity towards the Christian minority in areas controlled by the P.A. continues to get increasingly worse. People are always telling [Christians],Convert to Islam. Convert to Islam.” And in fact, the kidnapping and forced conversions of Christians in Gaza is an ugly reality.”
More recently, nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property. “Someone wants to send us away,” wrote Sister Ibraxia in the letter, “but we will not flee.”
Sadly, the hypocrisy exhibited by the Presbyterian Church is not limited to that denomination. Some time back, fifteen leaders from various U.S. Christian denominations—mostly Protestant, including the Lutheran, Methodist, and UCC Churches—asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel, again, in the context of supporting “persecuted” Palestinians.
Yet nary a word from these same church leaders concerning the rampant persecution of millions of Christians at the hands of Muslims in the Middle East—a persecution that makes the Palestinians’ situation pale in comparison.
Other “leftist” Protestants do find time to criticize Muslim persecution of Christians—but only to blame Israel for it. Thus, Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, wrote an article in the Daily Beast ostensibly addressing the plight of Mideast Christians—but only to argue that the source of Christian persecution “ in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine.”
In reality, far from prompting the persecution of Christians, the Arab-Israeli conflict is itself a byproduct of the same hostility Islamic supremacism engenders for all non-Muslims. The reason hostility for Israel is much more viral is because the Jewish state holds a unique position of authority over Muslims unlike vulnerable Christian minorities who can be abused at will (as fully explained here).
Little wonder, then, that more Arab Christians—double the number of each of the preceding three years—are now joining the Israel Defense Forces.
They know they can count on basic human rights protection from Israel than from many of their fellow Christians in the West. After all, beyond the sophistry, distortions, and downright lies emanating from some of these Christian denominations, the fact remains: both Jews and Christians are under attack from the same foe and for the same reason: they are non-Muslim “infidels” who need to be subjugated
World leaders are increasingly pointing to U.S. President Obama’s failures in the Middle East.
Some are direct and blunt. For example, during his recent visit to Brazil, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked by journalists about U.S. sanctions against Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis. While naturally condemning such moves, part of his response was to accuse the Obama administration of “encouraging war between neighboring states.” In the same context, Putin added:
American objectives have not been realized, nor have they accomplished anything, because everything has collapsed. Afghanistan faces problems, and Iraq and Libya are falling apart. Egypt also was going to collapse had President Sisi not taken matters in hand. And all this demonstrates the failures of the Obama administration.
In fact, and as I have pointed out in several articles, every Muslim nation the U.S. has interfered in—whether to promote “democracy,” as in the much ballyhooed “Arab Spring,” or to defeat “terrorism” and/or eliminate “WMDs”—has seen two results: the empowerment of Islamists, followed by chaos, conflict, and constant atrocities.
Other leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indirectly point to the Obama administration’s failures in the Middle East. This occurred during an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, in the context of the Presbyterian Church of the USA’s recent decision to divest from Israel in the name of the Palestinian people.
After pointing out that “Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East”—and nary a word of condemnation or concern from the Presbyterian Church—Netanyahu said:
You know, I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.
While not directly mentioning the U.S.’s role in these three nations—Netanyahu, after all, is on better terms with America than Putin—the obvious is clear: 1) the U.S. played a major role “liberating” two of these countries—Iraq and Libya—and is currently supporting the freedom fighters/terrorists trying to “liberate” Syria; and 2) in all three nations, the human rights of non-Muslims, specifically Christians, have taken a dramatic nosedive, evincing the nature of those the U.S. helped empower.
Consider Iraq today, one decade after the U.S. took down Saddam Hussein, bringing “freedom” and “democracy” to the Iraqi people: now an Islamic caliphate exists, enforcing the savageries of Sharia—from stoning women accused of adultery to crucifying others, burning churches and forcing Christians either to convert to Islam, pay “taxes” (jizya) and embrace third class status, or face the sword.
Libya, Afghanistan, and rebel-controlled areas of Syria are little better.
As Putin pointed out, the only nation still trying to hang in there is Egypt, thanks to the anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution—which, of course, was criticized by the U.S. government, including by people like John McCain.
To recap Egypt: the Obama administration turned its back on 30-year-long U.S. ally, the secularist Mubarak, embraced the Islamist Morsi, and some of the worst Muslim persecution of Christians—the litmus test of “radicalization”—took place against the Copts during Morsi’s one year of rule, from an unprecedented attack on the most important Coptic building and seat of the pope, the St. Mark Cathedral, to a dramatic rise in the imprisonment of Christians accused of “insulting” Islam.
As for Egypt’s current president, Sisi, he too made some observations that comport with those of Putin’s (that “someone” is fueling conflict between neighboring states) and Netanyahu’s (that the region is a mess, thanks to the empowerment of Islamists).
During his televised speech in early July, Sisi warned that “religion [code for 'Islam'] is being used to destroy neighboring countries”—a clear reference to the empowerment of Islamists in the same failed nations highlighted by Putin and Netanyahu, namely, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan—all the handiwork of U.S. leadership in general, Obama’s administration in particular.
The Ridda wars against “apostates and hypocrites”
The new “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—the Islamic State, formerly “ISIS”—recently made clear that it means to follow in the footsteps of the original caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Sadiq (632-634), specifically by directing its jihad against fellow Muslims, in Islamic parlance, the “hypocrites” and “apostates,” or in Western terminology, “moderates.”
This came out in the context of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, with some Muslims asking the newly formed “caliphate” when it would launch a jihad on the Jewish state.
The Islamic State’s response? “Allah in the noble Koran does not command us to fight Israel or the Jews until we fight the apostates and hypocrites.”
On one of the Islamic State’s question-and-answer websites, some asked why it was “not fighting Israel but instead shedding the blood of the sons of Iraq and Syria.” The new caliphate responded:
The greater answer is in the noble Koran, when Allah Almighty speaks about the near enemy. In the majority of verses in the noble Koran, these are the hypocrites, for they pose a greater danger than the original infidels [born non-Muslims, e.g., Jews and Christians]. And the answer is found in Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, when he preferred fighting apostates over the conquest of Jerusalem [fath al-Quds], which was conquered by his successor, Omar al-Khattab.
There’s much to be said about this response, rife as it is with historical allusions.
First, it is true. After the prophet of Islam died, a great number of Arabian tribes that had submitted to his rule by becoming Muslims—the word muslim simply means “one who submits”—thought they could now renege, and so they apostatized in droves. This sparked the first Ridda, or “apostasy wars,” waged by Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, who became the first caliph on Muhammad’s death in 632. For nearly two years, till his own death in 634, his caliphate’s entire energy was focused on waging jihad on all the recalcitrant Arab tribes, forcing them by the edge of the sword to return to the fold of Islam.
Tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified in the process, according to Islamic history, especially by the “Sword of Allah.” It was only afterwards, under the reign of the second caliph, Omar al-Khattab (634-644), that the great Islamic conquests against the “original infidels”—those non-Arab peoples who had never converted to Islam, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc.—took place.
Islam’s war on the apostate, so little known in the West, figures prominently in Islamic history. Indeed, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the most influential Islamic clerics today, while once discussing the importance of killing any Muslim who apostatizes from Islam on Al Jazeera, correctly stated that “If the [death] penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.”
In short, and as the Islamic State is now arguing, the first and greatest enemy of Islam—the “nearest” enemy—is the “apostate” and “hypocrite,” for they are the most capable of subverting Islam from within.
This phenomenon of “pious” Muslims fighting and killing “lukewarm” Muslims, or Shia and Sunnis fighting one another—while the original infidel stands by or gets away—has many precedents throughout history. For example, in its response, the Islamic State further justifies not fighting Israel by saying:
The answer is found in Salah ad-Din al-Ayubi [Saladin] and Nur ad-Din Zanki when they fought the Shia in Egypt and Syria before [addressing] Jerusalem. Salah ad-Din fought more than 50 battles before he reached Jerusalem. And it was said to Salah ad-Din al-Ayubi: “You fight the Shia and the Fatimids in Egypt and allow the Latin Crusaders to occupy Jerusalem?” And he responded: “I will not fight the Crusaders while my back is exposed to the Shia.”
All of this history quoted by the Islamic State is meant to exonerate the new caliphate’s main assertion: “Jerusalem will not be liberated until we are done with all these tyrants, families, and pawns of colonialism that control the fate of the Islamic world.”
- Although the Islamic State is trying to suggest that only autocrats like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad are “apostates” and “hypocrites,” and that most average Muslims are eager for Sharia, the fact is, a great many of the world’s Muslims fit under this rubric. The largest revolution in history, Egypt’s June 2013 anti-Brotherhood revolution, attests to this. Thus the new caliphate’s jihad is not just against “tyrants,” but many average Muslims as well, as the organization’s carnage in Iraq and Syria attests.
- The Islamic State’s declaration justifying non-confrontation with Israel is not winning it much popular support in the Arab world and is naturally portrayed as a copout. It further validates the popular Arab narrative that the United States is siding with the Islamists to create havoc in the region; to have the various sects (Sunni vs Shia, Moderate vs. Islamist) fight each other in order to divide and weaken the region. Thus Dr. Ahmed Karima, a leading professor of Islamic jurisprudence in Al Azhar, said that the Islamic State’s position concerning Israel proves that “it is a creation of U.S. and Israeli intelligence” and that the new caliphate “is the biggest of all hypocrites.”
- Alternatively, others, especially Islamists, appreciate that the Islamic State is patterning itself after the first caliphate of Abu Bakr—hence why its first caliph chose that name—because it finds itself operating in the same circumstances. Nascent and without much support, it first mission, like Abu Bakr, is to re-subjugate Muslims to Islam. Only then can it focus on the “original infidels.”
- While this approach may be temporarily good for Israel (and all infidel states), in the long run, a fully functioning and unified caliphate with “reformed” Muslims next door is not a pretty picture. After all, the Islamic State is not exonerating the infidel, but rather saying his turn will come once the caliphate is capable of an all-out assault. At best, it’s a temporary reprieve.
I just spent the better part of the day reading and listening to sermons by the leaders and jihadis of the new “caliphate” in Mesopotamia, the Islamic State (formerly “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”).
I did so in the vain hopes of learning something “new.”
But it was absolute déjà vu—taking me back to a decade ago, when I was reading and translating the Arabic writings and speeches of al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, as collated inThe Al Qaeda Reader.
Now as then, it’s the same Koran verses; the same hadiths of Islamic prophet Muhammad waging and praising jihad; the same threats of hellfire for the munafiqun (hypocrites or lukewarm Muslims); the same carnal rewards in the now or hereafter for those who join the “caravan” of jihad.
Consider for instance the following opening words of a recently released short video from the Islamic State titled, “There is No Life Without Jihad”:
If you wish to know the way to glory and power, to goodness, security and joy, you must learn that there are no rights without jihad, no justice without jihad, no dignity without jihad, no security without jihad, no future without jihad, no life without jihad, no life without jihad.
After this rather hackneyed opening, one Abu Muthana, a jihadi from Britain, appears quoting some more of the usual Koran verses, hadiths, and ulema, in this case, Imam Qurtubi, who wrote that “jihad gives life.” Finally he summarizes the goal of the jihad—in case anyone is still not sure—namely, to fight until “the law [Sharia] of Allah is implemented and the caliphate restored.”
To reiterate, there is little new or original in the videos and communiques from the Islamic State. Just static Islamism.
If one turns to the speeches of other Islamic and jihadi groups around the world—from the African groups such as Boko Haram (Nigeria) and al-Shabaab (Somalia), to Asian groups such as Abu Sayyaf (Philippines) and the Islamic Movement (Uzbekistan)—it’s the same thing, same themes, same scriptures, same quotations, same exhortations, same condemnations. Only their temporal circumstances and vicissitudes of victory or defeat differ.
While the Western mentality, so used to seeing and hearing about the “latest” or “newest” fad, may deem the Islamist approach as static or insipid, it is, quite the contrary, immensely effective for its purposes, and thus dangerous.
Consider: It’s the same exact message—of supremacism, hate, and violence, capped off with divine sanctioning—repeated over and over again, from a myriad of sources and organizations, all of which claim authority.
One can think of few better ways to brainwash and indoctrinate young and impressionable minds—to the point that they eagerly embrace death, including through suicide (AKA “martyrdom operations”).
Nor is this message of jihad, conquest, and death-to-the-infidel, limited to the verbiage that transpires among terrorist organizations; instead, this sort of rhetoric has spread far and wide, thanks to modern technology—including the Internet and social media—and the rich Gulf States, chief among them Saudi Arabia, which have seen to it that the jihadi books and passages being quoted are available to all and sundry.
Indeed, and has been demonstrated repeatedly, such jihadi rhetoric is regularly used in mosques all throughout Europe and America—explaining why an inordinate amount of jihadis in Syria and Iraq, such as Abu Muthana, the aforementioned “Brit,” are in fact from the West.
If the West, in the name of “religious freedom,” is still too fretful to monitor and ban such sermons, in Egypt—a Muslim nation in the heart of the Islamic world—the post Muslim Brotherhood government has come to understand the necessity of outlawing “certain” kinds of sermons and preachers from the mosques, specifically, those about jihad against infidels and apostates.
Of course, such a move sounds extremely “anti-freedom” to the liberal mentality; the New York Times bemoaned it, without considering that such a clampdown on sermon topics actually combats terrorism and saves human lives. For example, the overwhelming majority of attacks on Egypt’s Christian Copts occur on Friday—the one day of the week Muslims congregate in mosques to hear sermons.
Ultimately, however, such a move from Egypt—an Islamic nation—is an indicator of just how problematic unregulated (i.e., jihadi) sermons can be: if “moderate” Muslims are fearful from the repercussions of “radicalized” sermons, shouldn’t we “infidels” be even more wary of them?
In the end, there’s good news and bad news in all this: the good news is that one need not be familiar with the constant communiques, videos, and messages emanating from this or that jihadi group—for they are all recycled, all the same. To hear one, is to hear them all.
The bad news is that, due to the severe lack of common sense and censorship in the form of political correctness that plagues the West, the rhetoric of jihad and its unvarying message of hate remains wholly unintelligible.
If the jihadis, like parrots, are forever repeating each other—and luring other parrots to join them—Western leaders and politicians, like ostriches, are forever sticking their heads in the sand, lest they acknowledge the cacophony of hate surrounding them, and us.
In order to expose the Islamist and Salafi mindset, Egyptian journalists continue posting and commenting on the assertions and observations made by the various clerics during former President Morsi’s one year reign and earlier, when the “radicals” felt especially free to speak their mind.
One of these, Sheikh Yusuf al-Huwaini—who earlier justified buying and selling captured “infidel” women for sex and said the face of a woman “is like her vagina”—was recently shown on video giving his thoughts on women, intelligence, and knowledge.
After he mocked women who, although wearing proper Islamic attire—including the niqab—still appear on television, including as authoritative hosts, he said the following:
On what basis does a woman appear on a satellite station facing millions of people all around the world? And what sort of knowledge could this woman have to offer? Knowledge belongs to men—knowledge belongs to men alone. Any woman—with all due respect, lest some woman think I’m attacking all—any woman, no matter how high and advanced she appears, is unoriginal and common.