Monday, February 14, 2011

The Future of Islam: The King Hearing, Jasser & Geller

Islam is on a collision course with the rest of the world - and indeed, it has been since 622 A.D., when Mohammed made the Hijra from Mecca to Medina, marking the Year 1 in the Islamic Calendar. Many on the left pretend that is not the case, such as Obama, who excuses Muslim aggression by claiming that those who use violence to further the cause of Allah are motivated by a false interpretation of Islam. The precise opposite is true. The violent ones are the true believers in all of the Wahhabi dogma that arises out of a 13th century interpretation of 7th century Islam.

I will grant that there are many schools of Islam, many benign. But over the last half century, the most toxic form of Islam, Wahhabism, has risen to the fore on the back of Saudi petrodollars and is, today, effecting numerous other schools, such as Pakistan's Deobandi school, Turkey's Sufi school and Khomeini's bastardization of twelver Islam and its quietist tradition.

If nothing is done to change the trajectory of Islam, and particularly the Wahhabist wing and those many schools of Islam it has influenced, then at some point in the future, it is inevitable that we will see a resumption of religious wars. These future wars will be fought with modern, and possibly nuclear, weapons, and their cost will most assuredly exceed in blood and gold the sum of all the religious wars fought between Islam and other religions over the last near 1,400 years.

Here are the hard truths about Wahhabi Islam and its ilk that puts it on a collision course with the rest of the world and makes it incompatible with the Western freedoms and modernity:

1. Wahhabi Islam is triumphalist and those who believe in all of its dogma teach and support using violence to spread the faith. They cite to Koranic verse in support thereof. Islam has been the most imperialistic force ever seen in history, spread by the sword and leaving rivers of blood out of Arabia through Egypt, the entire Middle East, all of North Africa, Iran, Portugal, the Indian subcontinent, Sicily, Byzantium (modern day Turkey), Greece, half of Spain, southern France, and throughout south central Europe up to the gates of Vienna, Austria. Our nation's first foreign war - and its longest some-time declared, some-time undeclared war of 31 years - was against religiously motivated Muslims who were attacking American ships in the Mediterranean and enslaving our citizens. Thomas Jefferson, when he asked the ambassador of one of the Islamic regents warring on our nation in 1794 what justified such attacks, was told:

“. . . it was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave.” He claimed every one of their guys who was “slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise."

That is precisely the same doctrine that is part of the curriculum being taught in Saudi financed Wahhabi madrassas and schools around the world to this day. So, to repeat, the Muslim threat to the rest of the world that has existed since 622 A.D. has in no way abated or been blunted with the passing of time, whether it be counted in decades, centuries or millenniums.

2. On a related note, Wahhabi Islam holds that any land once ruled by Muslims must forever be ruled by Muslims. Thus do you see agitation in Spain and, of course, the mindless genocidal hatred of Jews and Israel.

3. Wahhabi Islam is not merely a religion, but a social and political construct that requires its adherents to dominate their state and impose Sharia law, thus putting the ultimate political power of the state in the hands of Muslim clerics. It requires that Christians and Jews be treated as second class citizens, to the extent they are tolerated at all.

4. Wahhabi Islam is enforced by the sword. It is doctrine that anyone who leaves the faith, such as by converting to Christianity, should be put to death. Likewise, anyone who publicly disagrees with Wahhabi doctrine is an apostate who should be killed. And we see blasphemy laws in the Middle East whereby to criticize Islam or Mohammed can bring about a sentence of death.

5. Violence against women and misogyny are hallmarks of Wahhabi Islam. Honor violence and forced marriages, including with girls as young as nine years old, are issues throughout the Muslim world, including Muslim enclaves in Europe and, to a very much lesser extent, in America. Should a Muslim woman date or marry outside of Islam, she is subject to violence, up to and including murder.

6. Wahhabi Islam in particular promotes separatism, seeking to keep Muslims in foreign lands from integrating into Western society.

7. The Wahhabists are involved in a religous cleansing of the Middle East. Christians in Muslim countries are, to perhaps put it too gently, under siege. The Jews have already been near completely expelled from Muslim majority countries in the Middle East, just as they were expelled from what is now called the "Arab Quarter" of Jerusalem in 1948.

8. Should true Sharia law ever be imposed outside of the Middle East, you will likely see a resumption of something that died out three hundred years ago in the West - trials for, and the slaughtering of, people accused of witchcraft. It occurs with regularity in Saudi Arabia and we see it spreading out in all areas where Wahhabism has gained influence.

I don't pretend to know to what degree all of the above come out of the Koran, as opposed to the Sunna, the Hadith, or simply the overlay of 7th century Arabic culture on Islam. That is a question to ask Muslim reformists.

What is clear is that Islam must either evolve or, eventually, it will involve the West in apocalyptic war. Violence in the name of Christianity, for all intents and purposes, died with the end of the religious wars between Protestants and Catholics in the 1600's and the rise of the Enlightenment. Violence perpetrated in the name of Islam has continued virtually uninterrupted since 622 A.D., only taking a lull of sorts when the military power of the West was such that the Islamic world could not directly compete - and even then there has been continuous aggression on the margins, whether from the Barbary Pirates and their enslavement of 1.25 million Christians, the Turks and their slaughter of a Albanian Christians, the Muslim Brotherhood or al Qaeda. All that remains is for Muslims who believe in the doctrines enumerated above to get in a position of perceived military parity with the West and Islam will inevitably resume its imperialist expansion. The attempted annihilation of Israel will likely mark day one.

These are existential issues for the U.S. as well as both the Western and Islamic worlds. And our government, which seems wholly intent on whitewashing Islam, is doing a tremendous and dangerous disservice to us all.

Into the breach has stepped Rep. Peter King. He has proposed hearings as to why "moderate Muslims" are not supporting efforts to combat the radicalization of Muslims in the U.S.:

Over the past few years, numerous hearings have already been conducted on Capitol Hill, in both the House and Senate, looking into domestic Islamist terrorism and ‘radicalization'. Unfortunately, those hearings garnered little attention and few tangible results - because they avoided discussing the root causes. Those hearings instead focused only on "violent extremism" a useless concept addressing a symptom and not the disease. Up to now the combined efforts of the forces of political correctness and Islamist pressure groups have dominated the debate and the lexicon.

Recently, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the new chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, announced that he intends to hold hearings to address what he describes as the failure of leaders in the American Muslim community to address the problem of the domestic radicalization of Muslims. King told Politico that "the leadership of the [Muslim] community is not geared to cooperation," and that the goal of the hearings will be "to confront the threat of homegrown terrorism and explore the role of Muslim leaders in dealing with it." He has opened the discourse about some imams and other Muslim leaders who have been less than helpful (if not obstructionists) in counterterrorism investigations.

While limited in scope, the hearings seem likely to bring to the fore many of the issues I've enumerated above. Thus it has raised the ire of Islamists and many on the left who do not want to see any hearings go forward that might possibly shine a light on Dark Ages doctrines of Wahhabi Islam. But surprisingly, it has also been dismissed outright by some on the right as useless.

Enter Dr. Zhudi Jasser. He is a devout Muslim, a former U.S. naval officer, a patriot and the President of the American Islamic Forum For Democracy (AIFD). His goal is to see Islam evolve and to remove the political aspects from its doctrine. He has written strongly in support of Rep. King's hearings. For example:

I am the President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). The body of our work in this area can be found at our website, YouTube channel, and peppered amongst the work of so many other thinkers among the anti-Islamist, anti-jihadist movement in the United States over the past decade. Our mission at the AIFD is, "to advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the U.S. Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state." Terrorism is only one endpoint, one symptom, of a much more protracted complex process of Muslim radicalization. American Muslim radicalization is a natural endpoint of the separatist ideological continuum of political Islam. We are one of the most prominent American Muslim organizations directly confronting political Islam (Islamism) from within the Muslim consciousness. The AIFD is grounded in the need for honest Muslim reform ending the concept of the Islamic state and getting the theocratic instrument of shariah law out of government and out of the central nature of our Muslim identity. That is the only viable solution to Muslim radicalization both domestically and abroad.

King's proposed hearings finally sound like an important beginning to the sadly unchartered public discourse about these issues. Islamist groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council have responded to criticisms defensively citing data (possibly exaggerated) that many plots were broken up by Muslims themselves. There are most certainly many American Muslim heroes. But at the end of the day, those anecdotes are just straw men to divert the discussion of the deep internal drivers of growing American Muslim radicalization. Our nation desperately needs a strategy to prevent the undeniable. Now, liberty-loving American Muslim leaders can publicly acknowledge that responsibility and our representatives in Congress can begin to expose and de-legitimize various mechanisms of Islamist facilitation in the United States.

If there is ever going to be an evolution in Islam, then honestly shedding a light upon all of the issues enumerated above is the first step. But those who believe that Islam cannot evolve are, in the words of Dr. Jasser:

. . . declaring an ideological war against one-fourth of the world's population and expecting to neutralize the Islamist threat by asking Muslims to renounce their faith.

Pam Geller, who blogs at Atlas Shrugs, is one who believes that Islam cannont evolve. Fair enough. While I disagree strongly, her's is not an unsupportable position. That said, she has also taken to making personal attacks on Dr. Jasser in an apparent effort to delegitimize him and his message. That is wrong-headed indeed.

Geller recently made a series of personal attacks against Dr. Jasser in an essay at the American Thinker. Dr. Jasser has responded in the same venue with a detailed and documented point by point refutation. I recommend that you read the entire post.

That said, two points that Geller makes deserve special attention. One, she claims that Dr. Jasser is a closet anti-Semite. Two, she claims that his personal interpretation of Islam lacks any theological underpinning, it has no currency among Muslims, and thus his entire effort at reform is useless.

As to the charge of anti-Semitism, Geller refers solely to an interview that she did with Dr. Jasser in 2007 on her blog-talk radio show. Here is how she characterizes that interview in her January 20 piece at American Thinker:

"And when I interviewed Jasser back in 2007, he referred to Israel as occupied territory in the last five minutes of the interview. He blew his cover."

One, such an interpretation of what Jasser said would seem to defy his entire body of work. Beyond that, as Jasser points out, he used the term "occupied territories" during that interview to refer to Gaza and the West Bank, both of which were occupied by Israel from 2000 to 2005. He did so in reference to a question about the use of chidren's shows in those two locales to teach hatred of Jews - something which he unequivocally condemned.

I can speak to this with personal knowledge. I was on the phone to Pam Geller's show during the entirety of her interview with Jasser and for a few minutes thereafter until she signed off. At the conclusion of the interview - which unfortunately is when the transcript ends - she remained talking for a few minutes. During that post-interview time I distinctly recall her raising Dr. Jasser's use of the term "occupied territories" and asking out loud, "what was that about?" I recall wondering at the time why she didn't just ask Dr. Jasser for clarification if she was confused. And as Dr. Jasser points out, she never asked him to clarify what he said before now charging him with being a closeted anti-Semite. She has made the jump from seeing ambiguity in 2007 to today, when she presents to the public the statement as proof positive of Dr. Jasser's anti-Semitism. I don't know whether she is intellectually very slovenly or she is being deliberately disingenuous for the purpose of delegitimizing Dr. Jasser. It is one of the two, if not both. In either event, my respect for her as well as my trust in her assertions has dropped precipitously.

Two, Gellar asserts that Dr. Jasser's push to reform Islam is superfluous:

"Jasser's Islam does not exist. He does not have a theological leg to stand on." . . .

Jasser has no following among Muslims and doesn't represent any Islamic tradition. So what's the point?" . . .

This is a position that is cynical, dangerous, and unsupported by Islamic doctrine or Western history. It is cynical in that it posits that no change in Islam is possible, thus why even try. It is dangerous because it consigns the future of Islam to those who want to keep it mired in the 7th century and it virtually assures that our children will some day be fighting a cataclysmic and existential, if not genocidal, war.

Most polls of Muslims find support for such things as violence in support of Allah or the murder of "apostates" to be minority positions, albeit sizable minorities. As to Iran, the theocracy's brutal, corrupt regime has delegitimized Islam as a political construct among Iran's youth. So regardless of how the Koran, Sunnah or Hadiths may be interpreted by Wahhabists, a majority does not hold to their positions. This certainly suggests that evolution is possible. The flip side of that coin is that they are not the one's with the guns, and indeed, are more likely at the moment to be targets of violence by the minority of Muslims than we in the West. Thus if Muslims are to have any chance of evolving their religion, they will need significant support from non-Muslims, something that our current administration, the Western left and Geller would deny them. Strange bedfellows indeed.

Two, Geller neglects an important point. Islam in fact came with amendment clauses - the doctrine of itjihad and the saying in the Hadiths that the ummah "can never agree on an error." If those have any meaning at all, then there is more than ample room for Islam to evolve, though it will be a bloody internal struggle indeed.

Lastly, during the 9th through the 11th centuries, Islam was the most advanced and enlightened civilization on earth. That ended with the Mongol invasions. Since then, in the Islamic world, there has never been a Renaissance, a Reformation, or a period of Enlightenment. For Wahhabists, there is only Ibn Wahhab's 17th century spin of Ibn Taymiyyah's 13th century interpretation of 7th century Islam. But history teaches us that that all it takes is one man to reform a religion. What remains is for a Muslim Martin Luther to appear and to make use of itjihad, nailing his 95 theses to the doors of Mecca in order to lead a reformation. Whether we think it likely or unlikely is irrelevant. History teaches us what is possible and the polls tell us that a significant portion of the Islamic world might well be receptive. It is, in any event, in the best interests of the entire Western world - and the entire Islamic world - to lend any such effort our full support.

1 comment:

colagirl said...

I got here from Shrinkwrapped. Just wanted to say that this is one of the best posts on Islam and Islamism that I've ever seen. I'll be reading regularly from now on.