Islamic Reformer Claims ‘Islamism’ Arose Only with Afghan War, Dodges Question About Quran’s Violent Passages


Maajid Nawaz has done the world a great service: he has exposed the Southern Poverty Law Center. Unfortunately, nobody’s perfect. “Maajid Nawaz expertly debunks theory that Islam is ‘inherently fundamentalist,’“ wrote the sycophant Seán Hickey in the UK’s LBC on Saturday, and I say it’s high time. So many Muslims around the world have been acting as if the Qur’an’s numerous exhortations to violence against unbelievers were marching orders for today, but now they will no doubt listen to the counsel of the wise Nawaz, lay down their machetes, and live at peace with the infidels. Won’t they?

Hickey continues: “After dismantling a caller’s argument on extremism in Afghanistan, Maajid Nawaz explains how some people’s views on Islam are flawed. The enlightening moment came after Maajid Nawaz had a run-in with a regular caller who claimed that the idea that the West has destabilised Afghanistan is a ‘false narrative’. The caller then proceeded to argue that the religion of Islam is a violent faith at its core.”

Horror of horrors! But fortunately for us, the luckless caller had the temerity to say such a thing to one of the world’s most renowned moderate Muslims, so that we could all be the beneficiaries of the “enlightening moment” that ensued. The enlightened Nawaz intoned: “This idea that Islam as a religion stands alone as being naturally fundamentalist and violent is dodgy.”

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Oh, it’s a “dodgy” idea! In that case, we must all stop thinking it! Nawaz elaborated by asserting that this claim “somehow doesn’t stand up – this idea that Islam is naturally an aggressive fundamentalist religion, actually no it’s not.” Why not? Because “if you look into the history of the rise of Islamism, as I’ve attempted to explain, primarily it came due to war and in fact it was used by us to stop the Soviet Union.”

That’s right: Nawaz actually claimed that violent Islam is a product of 1970s geopolitics. He maintained that “militant Islamism” was “used to fight at the time what the Americans called ‘godless communism.’”

After peddling this nonsense, Nawaz had the chutzpah to claim superior knowledge: “You’ve got to know a little bit about the socioeconomic and political factors that gave rise to modern day Islamic fundamentalism to understand that there was nothing inherent about it.”

What about all those passages of the Qur’an exhorting Muslims to commit acts of violence against unbelievers? Nawaz waves that away, saying: “You can find justification in the Old Testament and the New Testament for all manner of things.” This is just changing the subject. Even worse, Nawaz then echoes groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in suggesting that those who highlight the violent passages of the Qur’an are just trying to make money: “How you choose and select and contextualise passages comes down, usually to the own biases we carry, and sometimes we’re funded by those biases.”

If all this nonsense is an expert debunking, I’m Chuck Schumer.

Nawaz’s claim that “Islamism,” by which he apparently means a form of Islam that takes the Qur’an literally (i.e., is “fundamentalist”) and acts upon its exhortations to violence, only arose with the U.S. aiding jihad groups against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan is completely ahistorical. Nawaz is either unfamiliar with Islam’s 1,400-year history of jihad violence, or banking on his listeners being ignorant of it. Even throughout the first part of the 20th century, before the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Muslims in Palestine waged jihad against the Jews.

It would be interesting to learn what Nawaz thinks of that, and of the Islamic jihad rhetoric that flowed freely from Arab leaders in those days, but of course no one among his sycophants at LBC is going to ask him.

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Then we come to the sleight of hand. The Old and New Testaments may be the worst documents in the history of mankind, justifying, as Nawaz says, “all manner of things,” and that wouldn’t tell us one single solitary thing about the violent passages of the Qur’an. Nawaz’s caller asserted that Islam was “naturally fundamentalist and violent.” What the Old Testament and New Testament may be tells us absolutely nothing about that question. Nawaz is just deflecting attention away from inquiry into the actual contents of the Qur’an, and evading the question of to what extent Muslims who commit acts of violence are incited to do so by those contents.

Now, why would he want to do that?