Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam Revisited

EDWARD CLINE May 23, 2013
At the moment, I would rather be writing about the smiley mask that is falling from President Barack Obama and his tyrannical administration regarding the fabricated Benghazi "talking points," the Internal Revenue Service's targeting conservative and Tea Party groups for special attention, and the government's stealing the Associated Press's phone records. There is also the matter of the federal government stealing millions of personal health records in order to screen who will and will not be beneficiaries of Obamacare.

On top of all that, I learned that the Obama administration and the Mainstream Media are "like that." Imagine my index and second fingers crossed. For example, CNN vice president and deputy bureau chief Virginia Moseley is married to Hillary Clinton's deputy secretary, Tom Nides. CBS president David Rhodes is the brother of Ben Rhodes, master's degree holder in fiction-writing from NYU, Obama's deputy national security advisor, whose editing of the Benghazi "talking points" qualifies as fiction-writing. ABC president Ben Sherwood is the brother of special Obama advisor Elizabeth Sherwood. And, NBC was co-opted because its parent company is General Electric, which got $150 billion in stimulus money. What an incestuous extended family!

That leaves Fox News as the only other major news outlet that hasn't been co-opted or corrupted by the government. But there is one place Fox won't go, either: criticizing the Saudis. Fox is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Group, which is about 10% owned by a Saudi royal prince.
The New York Times is completely liberal/left and shows no signs of wanting a reality check, so it can be written off. The same goes for the Washington Post, whose only saving grace is Charles Krauthammer's weekly column. Whether or not he's a neocon or merely a straight conservative, I've never been able to determine.

So, we don't need a 50-story pyramid housing Minitru in the middle of a squalid London in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to have a compliant propaganda entity. We have glitzy studio news sets and groomed talking head fashion plates and razzle-dazzle special effects to accomplish the same end: falsehoods and news reportage that is so biased it verges on fantasy.
That being said, I move on to another subject that must be raised, even though it is tangential to the foregoing vis-à-vis our foreign and domestic policies.
The following is a revised and expanded version of "The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam," which first appeared on October 30th, 2010. The revision and expansion are prompted by a May 13th, 2013 article by Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, "Islam vs. Islamism," which also appeared in the Washington Times on May 13th. His article reflects a troubling central premise of alleging a necessary distinction between Islam and "Islamists," that is, between ordinary, non-violent Muslims and their violent, "extremist" or "radical" brethren.
Pipes opens with a reference to the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15thand the foiled attack on the Canadian rail link to the U.S.:
What motives lay behind last month's Boston Marathon bombing and the would-be attack on a VIA Rail Canada train?
Leftists and establishmentarians variously offer imprecise and tired replies - such as "violent extremism" or anger at Western imperialism - unworthy of serious discussion. Conservatives, in contrast, engage in a lively and serious debate among themselves: some say Islam the religion provides motive, others say it's a modern extremist variant of the religion, known as radical Islam or Islamism.
As a participant in the latter debate, here's my argument for focusing on Islamism.
His argument proposes a false dichotomy between Islam and "Islamists," that is, between Muslims who wage violent jihad on the West and even amongst themselves for sectarian reasons, and those who don't.
Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis. Muslims achieved remarkable military, economic, and cultural success between roughly 600 and 1200 C.E. Being a Muslim then meant belonging to a winning team, a fact that broadly inspired Muslims to associate their faith with mundane success. Those memories of medieval glory remain not just alive but central to believers' confidence in Islam and in themselves as Muslims.
Major dissonance began around 1800, when Muslims unexpectedly lost wars, markets, and cultural leadership to Western Europeans. It continues today, as Muslims bunch toward the bottom of nearly ever index of achievement. This shift has caused massive confusion and anger. What went wrong, why did God seemingly abandon His faithful? The unbearable divergence between pre-modern accomplishment and modern failure brought about trauma.
Muslims have responded to this crisis in three main ways. Secularists want Muslims to ditch the Shari'a (Islamic law) and emulate the West. Apologists also emulate the West but pretend that in doing so they are following the Shari'a. Islamists reject the West in favor of a retrograde and full application of the Shari'a.
These paragraphs astounded me. The first one glosses over the conquest of the Middle East and North Africa which necessitated forced conversion, butchery, and slavery. Remarkable military successes, indeed. But for their defeat at the Battle of Tours, the "Islamists" would have carved out a huge empire in Europe. What economic accomplishments? The period he cites spans the economically stagnant Dark Ages and early Western Medieval periods. Cultural successes? Other than a certain architectural style, translating some Aristotle and other ancient thinkers - whose works Islam subsequently rejected - I can't recall any great symphonies, artwork, or literature Islam produced in those six hundred years.
"Major dissonance" within Islam began over who was going to be Mohammad's official successor in the 630's. Thus the interminable conflicts between Sunnis and Shi'ites and other splintering sects of Islam. Islam never had any "cultural leadership."
Secularist Muslims may want Islam to ditch Sharia law but only at the risk of being deemed apostates and of their deaths. Apologist Muslims feign a hypothetical reconciliation between Sharia and Western concepts of freedom, and demand the incorporation of Sharia into Western law. "Islamists," however, are consistent with their creed, know that it is "retrograde" and primitive, and wage jihad to achieve that end.
Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum, on October 28, 2010, however, published an article, "Offensive Jihad: The One Incontrovertible Problem with Islam," also in the Middle East Form (October 28, 2010), which seems to be at fundamental odds with Pipes' article. Ibrahim's article addresses one of the fundamental problems of and with Islam, one which I have continually stressed: jihad. Jihad is a core tenet in what is a codified system of irrationalism that cannot be "reformed" without obliterating Islam as a distinct religious creed. Remove the belligerent jihadist commands from the Koran and Hadith to wage jihad, for example, and it would cease to be Islam, not only in Muslim minds but in non-Muslim, as well.
There would, of course, remain a host of other irrational assertions and imperatives, such as the sanctioning of wife-beating and the murder of apostates and the like, which constitute, after some astounding mental gymnastics by Islamic clerics and scholars, the byzantine and illogical underpinnings and text of Sharia law. The jihadist elements of Islam, however, are easily transmutable into a political policy, which is conquest of all non-Muslim or infidel governments and societies and their submission to Sharia. That makes it an ideological doctrine. Muslims are either obliged to wage jihad, or they are not. Mohammad and Muslim scholars say they are. End of argument, so far as Koranic interpretation goes, and that interpretation is biased towards the literal.
Reading the debates about what Islam's mission is and the role of jihad in it and what they truly "mean," I am always reminded of H.L. Mencken's observation on religious zealotry: "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." Islam is a puritanical creed that makes no allowances for either infidels or apostates or its adherents. I cannot believe that beneath the pious exterior of any person who would be seduced by Islam is not a seething, percolating envy of men who are indeed free, an envy easily and maliciously transfigured into violent jihad.
This policy is operative and underway today in Western nations with varying degrees of success, and it is making progress only by default. Islam is strong only because the West's defenders are emasculated by multiculturalist premises and a general disinclination to condemn any religion. Aggravating the problem is an unadmitted but general fear in tolerance-obsessed pragmatists of "offending" Muslims, who might start rioting and demonstrating again, claiming discrimination, defamation, and disrespect, and etc., none of it spontaneous but clearly organized and orchestrated by so-called "radicals."
I was initially impressed by Ibrahim's quotation from an entry on jihad in the Encyclopedia of Islam, which is an admission that "Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated" - until I realized that it could just as well mean that, after a global caliphate has been established, there would be no more justification for violent jihad. Every nation would by then be conquered, recalcitrant infidels slain, enslaved, or reduced to dhimmitude, and Sharia made the law of every land.
In short, after all the killing, enslaving, and oppression, jihad would be wrong!!
But, if Islam is completely" made over" in the sense of reforming it, what would be left of Islam that virtually any other creed could not claim as its fundamental tenets, as well? And to" make over" Islam, its principal font of "kilman" or wisdom, the objectionable and barbaric Mohammad, would need to be dispensed with. He is a role model for killers and tyrants and other psychopathic individuals. Remove that one critical link of the irrational and arbitrary in Islam, and all the other links fall to the floor or dissolve into nothingness.
What would be substituted for Mohammad? It would need to be something as enduringly fable-worthy as Mohammad, but measurably benign. But, Islam has no alternative icons that meet that description. What then, would be Islam's driving force, if not jihad as commanded by Allah as told to Mohammad?
Once Mohammad is removed the text, the next step would be a "blasphemous" exercise and question the existence and credence of Allah; if he commanded jihad, and if his word is sacred and unalterable, and known only through Mohammad, then he would need to be subjected to a "make over," much as the focus of Christian doctrine was shifted from an Allah-like Jehovah of the Old Testament to the largely pacific New Testament with Jesus Christ and his pacifist homilies.
But Christ, to Islam, was merely an itinerant preacher, not a prophet. If a "reformation" of Islam is undertaken, who in Islamic lore would take Mohammad's place? Would it be Abraham or Moses? But, in the Old Testament, neither of them was much better than Mohammad in terms of their behavior towards men of other faiths; they also advocated the righteous slaughtering of unbelievers and sinners and distributing slaves, women, and sheep among their more zealous followers.
From where, then, would any "sacred word" come? Who would act as the incontestable vehicle of higher mysteries and moral diktats? On whose divine or temporal authority?
Ibrahim writes: "Worse, offensive jihad is part and parcel of Islam; it is no less codified than, say, Islam's Five Pillars, which no Muslim rejects." In sum, it is either-or: repudiate Islam entirely, or submit to the whole palimony of irrationalism that is Islam, including the imperative of jihad. The one incontrovertible problem with Islam (aside from the untenable claim of Allah's existence) is its dependence on violent conquest, or the initiation of force. This renders the creed absolutely inconvertible to a pacific doctrine. That is its unarguable dead-end.
Ibrahim goes to the nub of the conundrum that faces "moderate" critics of Islam:
Worse, offensive jihad is part and parcel of Islam; it is no less codified than, say, Islam's Five Pillars, which no Muslim rejects. The Encyclopedia of Islam's entry for "jihad" states that the "spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general ... Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam ... Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated." Scholar Majid Khadurri (1909-2007), after defining jihad as warfare, writes that jihad "is regarded by all jurists, with almost no exception, as a collective obligation of the whole Muslim community."
Even that chronic complainer Osama bin Laden makes it clear that offensive jihad is the root problem: "Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue... 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 submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die."
Or, as Ayn Rand might have put it: "You can't have your mystic of muscle and deny him, too." He is either the source of Islam's potency, or he isn't. And if he isn't, whither Islam?
Andrew McCarthy, in his Family Security Matters article, "Obama's Betrayal of Islamic Democracy" (May 13th) remarks that it is difficult for "moderate" Muslims to "democratize" Islam: "As we have seen time and again, however, this is a very hard thing for moderates to do." McCarthy sympathizes with them.
It is hard for "moderate" Muslims to do because it would entail repudiating Islam altogether, and then they would no longer be "Muslims," moderate or otherwise. Islam is already a "democratic" system; once it attains hegemony wherever it reigns, that is pure "democracy" or majority rule in its original, unadulterated, and un-sweetened sense. Because "democracy" means "majority rule," that democracy would be represented by the Islamic Ummah, or the collective.
Is there such a thing as "moderate" Nazism, or "moderate" Communism? Or "moderate" totalitarianism? The "extremists" of Islam despise "moderate" Muslims because they know that Islam practiced consistently, that is, practiced root and branch, gives them political power. A "moderate" form of Islam, were such a thing possible, would deny them that power. A "moderate" form of Islam would be an emasculated form of it and no longer "Islam." The "extremists" or "radicals" know this, if the "moderates" don't.
Walid Shoebat, in his Pajamas Media column of May 18th,"Islam vs. Islamism: A Case for Wishful Thinkers," tasks Pipes, and, indirectly, McCarthy, as well, on not only the terminology of Islam vs. Islamism, but the core means and ends of Islam, which cannot be conveniently divorced from the ideology. After making hash of Pipes' statistical argument that not all Muslims condone violent jihad, and after citing Muslim authorities, dead and alive, on the legitimacy of jihad as central to Islam's existence, he quotes another authority on jihad and the establishment of a global caliphate by violence and stealth:
What about Al-Ghazali, the famous theologian, philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism whom the eminent W. M. Watt describes as "acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Mohammed, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity"? Scholars like Pipes know the truth, yet completely ignore it. Al-Ghazali said:
One must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year... one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them.... If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book-Jews and Christians, typically] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked.... One may cut down their trees/...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they need.
Shoebat writes that Pipes "even went as low to claim that Muhammad was a 'Muslim not an Islamist' and even distinguished him since, 'Islamism represents the transformation of Islamic faith into a political ideology.'"
By switching Muhammad from "Islamist" to "Muslim, Pipes must then answer a crucial question: Is Islam defined by its founder or by Mr. Pipes? Muhammad defined Islam as "Al-Islamu deen wa dawla" ("Islam is a religion and a state"). Pipes then must remove the "and" to substantiate his false case.
Islam is nothing if not a political ideology. The first time Mohammad raised his sword to forcibly convert men to Islam, and abandoned persuasion, that was the inauguration of political Islam. It has not changed since then. Force, coercion, slavery, death, and submission are the sole hallmarks of Islam.
The problem with Islam is that it is a religion. Religion is a primitive form of philosophy that explains existence and purports to give men a moral guide to living. Qua religion, it depends on faith in the existence of a supernatural being, and a form of altruism and collectivism, an altruism that is extended only to other Muslims and the collectivism of the Ummah. One could also argue that jihad represents a special kind of altruism: Jihadas seen as a vehicle of "salvation," with suicide bombers and plane hijackers acting as selfless and self-sacrificing drones to spread the word of Allah.
Allow me to pose this question: If one removed altruism and pacifism from Christianity, could one credibly call what was left "Christianity"? One could pose the same question about Judaism or Buddhism. Christianity, as a religion, it should be noted, has never been "moderated"; it has only been barred from acquiring political power. That was another unprecedented accomplishment of our Founders.
Pipes, dividing the discussion about Islam into three groups, writes that he belongs in the third group, which views "Islamism" as a "modern extremist variant of the religion, known as radical Islam or Islamism." He dismisses anyone who views Islam in its totality as succumbing to a "simplistic and essentialist delusion." This is an implicit disparagement of such survivors of Islam as Wafa Sultan and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and of such champions against Islam as Geert Wilders. Treating Islam in its "totality" is as correct a way of treating it as it was of treating Nazism or Communism in their particular "totalities."
Those "totalities" are fundamentally, and incontrovertibly, totalitarian. There is no other way of looking at Islam, either.
Edward Cline is the author of the Sparrowhawk novels set in England and Virginia in the pre-Revolutionary period, of several detective and suspense novels, and three collections of his commentaries and columns, all available on Amazon Books. His essays, book reviews, and other articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, the Journal of Information Ethics and other publications. He is a frequent contributor to Rule of Reason, Family Security Matters, Capitalism Magazine and other Web publications.    

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