Islam, Islamism, and Moderation

The faint hope is that the soi-disant community of “moderate Muslims” will prove Pipes, Manji, Rusin, Mansur, Baran, and Rubin correct and Kasem, Muthuswamy, Hirsi Ali, Warraq, and Darwish wrong, and eventually come to the fore -- although this may entail a process of generations, assuming it is at all feasible. (Acclaimed French essayist Pascal Bruckner is wryly skeptical; “the problem with the moderates,” he writes in The Tyranny of Guilt, “is that they are precisely ... moderate.”) Further, as with the communicants of all religions, the tendency to privilege the customary elements of practice -- Baran’s “living tradition” -- over the sclerotic dictates of faith, or to regard the latter as merely providing, in Mansur’s phrase, doctrinal sanction for cultural habit and observance, may go some way to taming the more radical cohort. Is such a hope realistic or modal? The operative term here is “may” for there is no assurance that a more domestic attitude will prevail over doctrinal rigidity. As Howard Bloom suggests in The Lucifer Principle, “To allow a faith or ideology to be overthrown would be to abandon a massive neural fabric into which you’ve invested an entire life, a network that cannot be easily replaced, perhaps that cannot be replaced at all.”

Given the centrality of the Koran and the pivotal importance of the dogmatic literature, even the public condemnation by Muslims of Muslims, the attempt to exorcize internal demons -- an effort which, it must be acknowledged, is not a mainstream phenomenon -- may not materially alter the situation. Consider the plight of the pacifist Ahmadi sect which struggles to present Islam as a religion of peace, and has in consequence been ruthlessly persecuted by fellow Muslims. Two Ahmadi mosques were recently attacked in Lahore, with 94 dead and another 2,500 taken hostage. Over the years, the fate of the peaceable Baha’i Faith, with its roots in Shi’a Islam, has not been markedly different; Iran has just handed out 20-year prison sentences to seven Baha’i leaders. These communions obviously face a Sisyphean ascent.

The strong recommendation is that we begin to instruct ourselves, recognize that we are involved in a war for our very survival as a civilization, know who the enemy is, and be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent our ultimate eclipse. We must learn our history for as Ralph Peters, author of Endless War, tells us, “those who do not know history will die of myth.” We must resist the plangent modalities of Islamospeak lulling us to sleep with tranquilizing platitudes about a “religion of peace,” vernal consolations, redemptive insights, and private exaltations. We should also remain vigilant against the promulgation of meretricious “facts.” A correspondent to the National Post, one Rizwan Jabbar, in a letter of August 7, 2010, justifies the Cordoba Center project near the site of Ground Zero by referring to “the ten million Muslim slaves who helped build the nation.” Jabbar presumably learned his history from his imam, a Saudi textbook, or perhaps from Howard Zinn. And many who should know better will swallow the flounder whole.

This includes Barack Obama, who has just come out in support of the Cordoba project. In his Ramadan message for this year, he declared that “here in the United States, Ramadan is a reminder that Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.” “Really?” comments Robert Spencer with scarcely disguised contempt. “Maybe Robert Gibbs will be so kind as to provide us with a list of the Muslim Founding Fathers, the Muslim heroes of the American Revolution, the names of the Muslims killed fighting in the Civil War (for the North, no doubt -- you know, “racial equality”!), the Muslim Senators and Congressmen who served with distinction in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries -- I’m sure the Obama administration will have no trouble coming up with all that, will they? And I trust it will also contain a list of those ‘extraordinary contributions’ that Muslims have made to our country. Aside from being the impetus for some extraordinary innovations in airport security, I can’t think of any.”

Despite the assumptions of the Jabbars and Obamas and the googolplex of the deluded, there is undeniably a war going on. Interestingly, Robert Lewis, editor of the Canadian journal Arts & Opinion, believes the war may already be won, thanks to “the world-transforming revolution in communications” and “the introduction of the Internet,” which injects the lifestyle temptations of the West into the once-inoculated Muslim mind. “Once exposed to the ways of the West,” he writes, “there’s no going back home.” But although “the effects of terrorism and suicide bombings cannot begin to compete with the Internet as a hegemonic tool,” Lewis admits that the Islamic peril has by no means diminished, since radical Islam may likely react out of desperation and adopt “the apocalyptic solution,” a reference to the Iranian bomb. Lewis is certainly right in warning about the threat posed by weapons-grade iranium (as it were), and he may also be correct about the long-term effect of the Internet on the Muslim sensibility, but the critical issue here is one of time. Both the explosive and the infusorial forms of Islam would need to be resolutely fought if we are to avoid detonation on the one hand and the gradual insemination of Islamic norms, practices and laws into the Western body social on the other.

Rather that wait on the hypothetical triumph of Western communications technology, which may or may not happen -- and possibly not in time to escape undesired ends -- vigorous, unsentimental, and politically uncorrect measures are absolutely indispensable. These would include the shutting down of terror-preaching mosques (as well as the cancellation of the Cordoba project), the deportation of extremist imams, a ramped-up prosecution of phony Islamic “charities,” the stringent oversight of Wahhabi-inspired madrassas with a view to eliminating them altogether, the delicensing of Islamic organizations allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, tightened immigration policies, the prohibiting of shari’a law and finance, the close monitoring of Middle East Studies departments in our universities whose real mandate is not to teach but to proselytize and indoctrinate in favor of Islam, and an all out campaign to dry up the sources of Islamic funding in all areas of public and professional life.

Failing the implementation of such measures, we are embarking on a long day’s journey into night. And let us make no mistake about this, the adversary is a formidable one. Islam, says Elias Canetti in Crowds and Power, is a “Religion of War.” One of the four ways in which “devout Mohammedans” assemble into crowds, apart from prayer, the Hajj and, theoretically, the Last Judgment, is “for Holy War against unbelievers ... The Koran, the book of the prophet inspired by God, leaves no doubt of this.”

The “surge” worked in Iraq. The counter-surge of much Islamic popular feeling, exploding demographics, institutional infiltration, lawfare, forum shopping, inflammatory rhetoric, “stealth jihad” and relentless terrorist warfare may work equally well against the pusillanimous West. For this is more than a new Thirty Years War we are engaged in, but a religious and civilizational conflict that will extend into the indefinite future.