A Modest Proposal to Combat Islamic Violence

On August 29 of this year, a certain Afsun Qureshi published an article in the National Post instructing non-Muslims how to save their lives should they ever have the misfortune of finding themselves in the hands of Muslim jihadists. Her model was the massacre that occurred at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi last year when the terrorist group al-Shabaab “weed[ed] out” the faithful from the infidels by having them recite the shahadah, one of the five pillars of Islam, testifying that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet. Those who could perform the task, (among other shibboleths) were spared; those who couldn’t were slaughtered.

“If one ever finds oneself in a similar situation,” she wonders, “could even a rudimentary knowledge of Islam save us?” In order to protect ourselves against the extremists, “it is worth getting up to speed on what these fanatics are so fanatical about.”

Ms. Qureshi is doubtlessly motivated by the most benevolent of sentiments. However, a little thought will serve to indicate that the shahadah alone is insufficient to resolve the dilemma we may one day have to face -- as the victims in the Sydney hostage crisis, who were not even asked to recite the shahadah on the black flag they were forced to hoist, recently discovered. Besides, the terrorists are not stupid people and -- who knows? -- may have gotten wind of Ms. Qureshi’s considerate article. Moreover, as we recall, the shahadah was not the only litmus test al-Shabaab applied in Nairobi to facilitate the weeding out process. How many of us know the name of Muhammad’s mother -- another key identification marker to determine who was to live and who was destined for torture and a gruesome death? And, for that matter, how many of us can rise to the challenge in Arabic, an unfortunate hitch in Ms. Qureshi’s thinking?

The solution to the terror onslaught that continues to plague us, as recent events in Canada, Australia and Pakistan amply attest, lies not in a hastily cribbed sleight of speech, or in any other tactical expedient, but in Islam itself. As we have been told by enlightened Western intellectuals, journalists and political figures, by Muslim organizations in every Western country, by imams interviewed in the press, and by Muslim authors penning their commentaries and elucidations, Islam is a religion of peace and does not countenance violence in any way, shape or form. We are informed that jihad is a spiritual and not a military struggle. Concerning the latter, we can surely dismiss the inconvenient findings of Danish linguist Tina Magaard, whose study of the Koran has yielded only one reference to jihad as “an inner spiritual phenomenon…and more than 50 references to actual armed struggle.” She is certainly mistaken and is plainly a professional Islamophobe intent on poisoning our minds. After all, reading the Koran as it is written is a sure sign of intentional misdirection, and citing its directives a clear expression of out-and-out Islamophobia. (This may explain why I was personally accused by a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation journalist of hate speech for quoting selected passages of the Koran in conversation with her.)

We are further apprised by a surfeit of commentators that the atrocities carried out by extremists have nothing to do with Islam. Rather, such aberrations are the rotten fruit of distortion and misinterpretation, the result, according to the panoptic scholar of Islam John Esposito (whose Georgetown University Center is sponsored by Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal), of “a long list of grievances” and “moral outrage,” of poverty and injustice. Additionally, the killers are “religious novices” who merely need to be set straight. If only the Prophet’s votaries were capable of emulating his example, all would be well. For despite a few biographical trifles, like wedding a six-year-old girl, maintaining a household of multiple wives, breaking a solemnly sworn treaty (Hudaibiyah), beheading the men of an entire Jewish tribe (the Banu Qurayzah), having those who offended him eliminated, and enjoining perpetual battle against unbelievers (Koran, passim), Muhammad retains the radiant and immemorial title of al-Insan al-Kamil, “the perfect man,” or in the words of Claflin University professor Anisah Bagasra, echoing many of Muhammad’s disciples, “the best model of the spiritual life.” Perfection is, in the case of one anointed by God, perfectly consistent with inconsistency.