The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism

The murder of four Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, and the subsequent attempts by the Obama administration to blame the attacks on a YouTube video critical of Islam, exposed the delusional assumptions of Obama’s foreign policy. This notion that Western bad behavior––whether colonialism, support for Israel, or insults to Islam and Muhammad––is responsible for jihadist violence, however, has vitiated our approach to Islamist terrorism for over a decade now. Our main mistake has been the belief that al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are outliers among Muslims, a tiny minority of fanatics who have “hijacked” the faith that under both Republican and Democratic administrations has been called the “religion of peace,” and so we must reach out to that majority of moderate Muslims and convince them how much we admire and respect their religion. But this desperate search for these moderates has lead to dangerous policies, such as considering the Muslim Brotherhood “moderate Islamists,” an oxymoron that blinds us to the Brotherhood’s long-term goal to recover the global dominance that is Islam’s divinely sanctioned birthright.

Andrew Bostom, a professor of medicine at Brown University, has for a decade relentlessly exposed the distortions of history and Islamic theology that have accompanied these policies. In The Legacy of Islamic Jihad, he exposed the lie that jihad is merely a spiritual struggle to be a good Muslim, amassing evidence from Islamic theology, scripture, and jurisprudence to show that jihad has in fact predominantly denoted the use of violence to subject unbelievers to Muslim hegemony. In The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism, he swept away the rationalizations for widespread Jew-hatred among Muslims that blamed it on imported Western anti-Semitism, once more letting Islamic texts speak for themselves to show that since the 7th century, Jews have been hated, despised, massacred, and subjugated in both Islamic theology and practice. Now Bostom, in the 43 essays collected in his new book, Sharia Versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, has turned to the totalitarian foundations of Islam codified in shari’a law, the totalizing system that controls every dimension of human life––political, economic, civic, familial, and personal.

The great virtue of Dr. Bostom’s work is the collection of primary documents and secondary commentary that taken together provide a more accurate picture of Islam than the fantasies concocted from ignorance or political expediency, or the postmodern propaganda manufactured by Edward Said and his followers. The notion of jihad, for example, has been distorted by apologists like Georgetown professor John Esposito, who wrote in the Washington Post that in the Koran jihad “means ‘to strive or struggle’ to realize God’s will, to lead a virtuous life, to create a just society and to defend Islam and the Muslim community.” Under the Bush administration, the National Counterterrorism Center similarly advised its employees never to use the term “jihadist,” since “jihad means ‘striving in the path of God’ and is used in many contexts beyond warfare.” But these assertions cannot stand next to the abundant evidence Bostom collects, such as Al-Tabari’s 10th century “Book of Jihad,” which shows that for 14 centuries jihad refers to war waged against the unbelievers, the “harbis” (denizens of Dar al Harb, the “House of War”) whom it is legal to kill, enslave, and plunder.

Even those, like the influential scholar Bernard Lewis, who accept the martial meaning of jihad sometimes assert that such wars are conducted under limitations similar to the Western laws of war, limitations so-called Islamist extremists ignore. Yet Islamic jurists such as the 8th century founder of the Hanifi school of Islamic jurisprudence, Abu Hanifa, Bostom writes, affirm “the impunity with which non-combatant ‘harbis’––women, children, the elderly, the mentally and physically disabled––may be killed.” According to Hanifa, there is nothing wrong with using catapults against “the polytheists’ fortresses . . . even if there are among them a woman, child, elder, idiot” or anyone suffering from a physical disability.

Illustrating the continuity of modern Islamist ideology with traditional Islamic theology and jurisprudence, Bostom quotes Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the “spiritual” leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Jazeera television star whose program reaches 60 million people: “It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of people of Dar Al-Harb . . . is not protected . . . in modern war, all of society, with all its classes and ethnic groups, is mobilized to participate in war.” Hence even those not actually fighting are fair game, an argument similar to the one bin Laden made after 9/11 when he justified attacking civilians. These traditions give the lie to the “religion of peace” claim made by apologists, and also explain why, as Bostom quotes Samuel Huntington, “Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.” Moreover, jihadist raids and attacks across those borders were, Bostom writes, “designed to sow terror” in order to make future conquests easier by breaking the spirit of the enemy, as recorded by the 17th century historian al-Maqqari when discussing such attacks: “Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.” Such passages suggest how the Islamists interpreted Obama’s 2009 groveling Cairo speech: as the supplications of the infidel begging for peace.

Bostom provides a similar correction to the oft-repeated claims that anti-Semitism is not inherent in Islam. On the contrary, Bostom writes, “There is voluminous evidence from Islam’s foundational texts of theological Jew hatred: virulently Antisemitic Koranic verses whose virulence is only amplified by the greatest classical and Muslim Koranic commentaries . . . the six canonical hadiths collections, and the most respected sira,” biographies of Muhammad. In this tradition Jews are minions of Satan, cursed because they resisted Islam, killed prophets, and transgressed the will of Allah. They are destined to be transformed into apes and swine, and to be humiliated, abased, and eternally damned for their deceit and treachery.

Again demonstrating the continuity of this 14-century-long tradition with the anti-Semitic calumny of modern Islamists, Bostom quotes from a sermon given by an Egyptian-government appointed cleric delivered at a mosque at Al Azhar, the most prestigious and venerable institution of Sunni learning: “Muslim brothers, God has inflicted the Muslim nation with a people whom God has become angry at [Koran 1:7] and whom he cursed [Koran 5:78] so he made monkeys and pigs [Koran 5:60] out of them. They killed prophets and messengers [Koran 2:61/3:112] and sowed corruption on Earth [Koran 5:33/5:64]. They are the most evil on Earth [5:62/63].” And Bostom reminds us that Muhammad’s jihadist career began with the conquest and massacres inflicted on the Banu Qurayza, Banu Khaybar, and Banu Nadir Jews. As Bostom summarizes, “Muhammad’s brutal conquest and subjugation of the Medinan and Khaybar Jews and their subsequent expulsion” by the “Rightly Guided” Caliph Umar “epitomize permanent, archetypal behavior patterns Islamic Law deemed appropriate to Muslim interactions with Jews.”

Given this theological sanction, we should not be surprised to find the grimly consistent record of Muslim pogroms and massacres of Jews that Bostom documents from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. Nor should we be surprised that Jew-hatred continues to dominate the modern Middle East, and is foundational to the Arab hatred of Israel. Hence the quotation of the apes and swine Koranic verse in the charter of the terrorist Hamas organization, or the quotation of Koran 5:64, which calls Jews the sowers of corruption, by “moderate” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007 during a speech urging Muslims to “aim their rifles at Israel.”

The exposure of these “Islamophilic” distortions of Islam provides the necessary backdrop for the discussions of Islamic shari’a law that follows. Our misunderstanding and downplaying of the threat to liberal democracy represented by a legal code that subjects every facet of human life to its strictures have been facilitated by the same political and ideological prejudices. Meanwhile, the imposition of shari’a is the highest goal of the various Islamist organizations, whether actively violent or not, roiling the Middle East and North Africa today. Bostom’s essays remind us what history also teaches: that totalitarian threats to our freedom and way of life will not be neutralized by the refusal to see clearly the illiberal ideology driving the Islamist agenda.

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  • devdeep

    sharia can never be compatible with modern day society, it is a desert cult

    • uzoozy

      Do you know what Sharia is.????

      • Gerald Mucci

        Yes, we do. Why do you ask?

      • Earl

        Errr… yes, I do. It is the Koran/ahadith-sanctioned jurisprudence of all four Sunni madhabs and also a feature of Shi'ism. Perhaps the best aid for you is a copy of the Umdat al-Salik, the Shaf'i sharia jurisprudential text in English translation certified by al-Azhar University (Cairo), the Sunni Muslim world's highest theological authority. Often on sale at Amazon for the princely sum of $19.99- likely even within your means.

        devdeep's comment might be fine-tuned as follows: sharia is incompaticle with post-Enlightenment, Judaeo-Christian-secular, Western thought and jurisprudence.

        /another question?

      • Mary Sue

        Sharia is bad, mkay. [/mr. mackie on South Park]

  • Schlomotion

    "Now Bostom, in the 43 essays collected in his new book, Sharia Versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism, has turned to the totalitarian foundations of Islam codified in shari’a law, the totalizing system that controls every dimension of human life––political, economic, civic, familial, and personal."

    It sounds like Mr. Bostom has succeeded in making Muslims look Jewish.

    • Advocatus

      In what way?

      Specifics, mate, specifics.

    • Western Canadian

      It sounds like Schmuckmotion is still succeeding in making himself look foolish.

      • Western Canadian

        OK, I admit it. Foolish in this instance actually means ignorant, bigoted and hate filled.

    • Mary Sue

      How's life in Bizarrobama world treating you, Schlo? Is the purple koolaid tasty?

    • Ghostwriter

      What world are you writing from,Schmuckmotion? It's certainly not ours.

    • Warren Raymond

      Muslims are "the real Jews" – dontcha know?

      Ask imam Rauf! Hahahaha!

    • Mary Sue

      Since when have the jews EVER done anything of the sort?

    • gray man

      I don't know about that, but you have succeeded in making yourself looking like an imbecile.

  • Western Spirit

    If Sharia was pulled up by the roots those roots would extend all the way to hell and they have entangled women especially in their vice.

    That's why where Jews and women are treated with respect that's where you will find God's people. Because both are vulnerable, Jews because they are few so make handy scapegoats, and women because they are easier to beat and abuse.

  • Gee

    ALL Muslim call for the genocide of Jews 5 times a day. It is based in the Quran.

    Jihad can mean struggle but only rarely and never in the context of "Jihad is our goal"

  • Mary Sue

    A question to ask an Imam sometime: "If the Jews are monkeys and pigs why do we still have Jews?" [/sarcasm]

    (for those of you who may not "get" it, this is a twist on the phrase, "If people are descended from monkeys and apes why do we still have monkeys and apes?")

    • Uzoozy

      That line is for Pagans not the people of the book -Jews or Christains.
      Please correct your mind to that fact

      • Western Spirit

        And yet it is Jews and Christians being terrorized and persecuted by Muslems. That's what we're wrapping our minds around. You only correct something if it's wrong.

      • Western Spirit

        The people of the book ? Of course it means people of the book. Because people of the book are the ones Islam is slaughtering.

        How stupid do you think we are to believe Islam is a religion of peace when it has left a trail of war where ever it goes.

        We can only correct our minds if our minds need correction and hatred for all other religions, but Islam, is Islam's basic tenet. A fact we can only get our minds wrapped around because Islam is attacking us.

      • Mary Sue

        gloriously missing the point. how about that.

      • Mary Sue

        does the koran passage say "Oh follower of Allah, here is a PAGAN, come kill him"? No. No it does not. It says, "Oh follower of Allah, here is a JEW, come kill him".

        It also does not say that Pagans are the sons of monkeys and pigs or turned into monkeys and pigs. It says JEWS are. Sorry, your backpedalling won't erase the facts.

      • gray man

        Wrong,. It IS Jews and Christians. you stand corrected.

    • ar97

      not all the jew only the part that the didn't follow god introdution
      AR thank you

  • Uzoozy

    Dr Bostom should stick to medicine, religion of Islam is too difficult to understand for him.
    Islam is a religion of peace, to all religions belong to Allah and He knows whats best for all persons on earth.
    Jihad can be used only if ordered by head of state, and only if people are attacking Islam, life and property is in danger. Allah orders MUslims to live in peace.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      You're joking?

      Define "peace."

      "Jihad can be used only if ordered by head of state, and only if people are attacking Islam, life and property is in danger. "


      — Jihad can be used only if ordered by head of state, OR if people are attacking Islam, life and property is in danger.

      When religious feelings are hurt, this is considered an attack on Islam. In other words, despite your fine words, you've said nothing in conflict with the article's claims once we've adjusted for your deceptive language.

    • Mary Sue

      OK, then explain the numerous documented instances of Radical Muslim Vigilante-ism.

      Have you actually understood what the Koran says in your first language?

    • gray man

      uzoozy should stick to filling his diaper, and then running to mommy.

    • Mike Villano

      Someone forgot to tell the jihadis "Jihad can be used only if ordered by head of state, and only if people are attacking Islam".
      Jihadis are waging war on the 4 corners of the earth IN THE NAME OF YOUR god and you think you can blow your factual diarrhea and smoke rings here??
      This isn't some left wing seminary or the NY Times.

    • gray man

      You don't seem to understand your own religion, but then I've never met a literate muslim.

    • Cerise Rowan

      Like Armenian women and children?

  • Ghostwriter

    Those like Uzoozy and Schlockmotion aren't living in the real world. The disgusting bilge of anti-semitism that emanates from the Middle East is beyond any reason and must be opposed. Don't count on Uzoozy and Schlomotion to condemn anti-Jewish hatred. They revel in it twenty-four hours a day.

  • Sunbeam

    We ought not to take Uzoozy's word for real. There's always an element of untruth. In this case, he's putting icing on the pie to make it look attractive which in truth beneath the layer lies the deception. One has to read the Quran itself to be fully understand what's been stated there and what's been required of them. Once you convert to this religion, there can be no way out.. The only way out is by death sentence. Besides that, everyone's way of life is being control or been watch over. All the fundamental rights of a being has been fully taken over. This is a horrible repulsive system that ought to be rejected by all. But then they have succeeded in keeping the people in bondage for that long. It is like as though living with a knife at your throat with the death sentence on them.

  • US Muslim

    Here we go again…another "informative article" on Islam based on the writings on an ignoramus. Nice try, though…but it won't work. The truth always wins out in the end and it ain't on your side…

    Just another example of the blind trying to lead the blind…with highly selective interpretations, omissions and distortions.

    • Sunbeam

      You've to be honest with yourself. If you're not honest with yourself than you can't be honest with others. Please do not think that we're against for the sake of being against with. We're not. Since you're a Muslim, just be truthful to tell us what wrong have we said that is incorrect about Islam and its doctrine? Did you study your Qur'an to stand up to all this argument that has been a debate among the inhabitants of the world at this moment? Did you go into research or simply following for the sake of following or in any case can't get out because you simply cannot? We do not hate you. What we hate is the forceful nature of this religion that pays no respect for others not having the same belief as it is. Enforcing people out of their respect is not something to be applaud of.

    • Mary Sue

      i bet you haven't even read the Koran in english.

    • Khalid

      Hey US Muslim, good to see your comment. I am also a Muslim — actually a formerly one.

      I have a theological question to your scholarship:

      Do you think Mohammad is being raped by a camel in hell? Your scholarship is requested.

    • gray man

      You are correct, "the truth will out" the world is opening it's eyes again to the filth that is islam.

    • Cerise Rowan

      What confuses us is the actual number of people killed in jihad… not the mention the number taken into slavery and forcibly converted… all very confusing to us westerners… I mean, a peaceful practice like Buddhism, they don't have anything like the Armenian Massacre…

  • PAthena

    See Robert Spencer's books, An Infidel'sGuide to the Koran and Did Muhammed Exist?

  • radicalconservative

    US Muslim: deception and lies. taqqiya. history is the proof, Islam has waged war on the rest of the world since its inception. you are a liar.

  • Sarfaraz Khan

    I am a Muslim and I have studied the Quran. I agree that there are verses and consequent interpretations that call for violence. The Quran is a Book that held true 1400 years ago. There were alternating periods of strife and peace. Consequently, the Book too has these two themes – of peace and of war. However, while many parts of the Quran were interpreted to keep it in with the times, this ceased 1200 years ago when the doors of Ijtihad (the interpretation of the Quran) were closed forever because it was reasoned by mortals like us (albiet, the Ulema) that none other could henceforth be smart enough to interpret it any further. Truth is that the Ulema were scared of modernity seeping into the interpretations and that would dilute their hold over the masses. This despite the oft-repeated "there is no clergy or church in Islam". The Ulema is to be blamed for controlling the lives of individuals to an excruciating degree. Anything and everything has been made out to be a matter of religion. Separateness has been encouraged to a point that any deviation is promoted as a threat to religion. Therein lies the fault, stemming from mortals who have used the Book. Let the doors of interpretations be opened again so that Islam can establish its truthful place amongst other religions (which anyway preach much the same thing insofar as moral conduct is concerned). Let not apologetic intellectuals be cowed down by shrieking Mullahs. Modernity is not synonymous with immorality, extremism is different from being devout, loud screams cannot substitute for logic. Bigotry is gripping either side in this mindless cycle of violence. The Human race will be the loser as we propagate hate and animosity. Jazakallah.

    • Gerald Mucci

      Why do you still desire to remain Muslim with a history of the Islamic religion being so severely distorted and still broadly interpreted today as calling for hatred and conquest over Jews and Christians and other "infidels?" Actually, Islam's history is not being distorted today at all. The current resurgence of Islamic aggression and hate toward Jews and other infidels faithfully recreates the full intent and methods of Muhammad and his immediate followers. We are experiencing a return to pure, orthodox Islam.

      • Sarfaraz Khan

        True, it is this recall to primitive Islam that the majority of the moderates are unable to fight against. Any comment they make is equated with helping the enemies of Islam, (which is pretty much everybody these days). The Ulema can continue to control as long as they can dissuade infusion of tolerance, promote extremism and shriek murder every time someone pens a few dissonant words. Sadly, they have an audience that refuses to question and follows blindly.

        I will remain a Muslim because these bigots don't own my religion. Most competing religions have references to violence since most were founded when murder and pillage were common. To continue to propagate the same today, eons later, is unacceptable.

        Possibly, and which is a tough ask, either side has to grow out of its obsession with the alleged vile ways of the other. With Islamists taking centre-stage, and being given more attention than they deserve, and the West response in Afghanistan, Iraq and posturing against Iran being interpreted as a War on Islam, we aren't getting anywhere. The radicals on either side don't care. They are getting enough ammo for their rants. The air is thick with conspiracy theories and they are garnering an ever increasing audience. A purported soft stance against Muslims is what is being projected as Obama's undoing. Extremism in thought is equally, if not worse, than that in deed. It breeds similar sentiment and looks like its already spiralled out of control.

    • Mary Sue

      I wouldn't say it's held "true", but it certainly has been persistent. The problem is that it got hijacked by the wahhabi and salafi.

      I appreciate that you recognize that hate and animosity are bad. This is a good thing to recognize.

      This is interesting information you give us.

      • gray man

        islam has not been "hijacked" by anyone. Every foul thing done today by muslims to Jews, Christians, any other religion, women, pre-pubescent girls, pre-pubescent boys, homo-sexuals, slavery, murder, lying, theft. adultery, pedafilia, has all been done by muhammad or sanctioned by him. Oh lest I forget, necrophilia is now sanctioned by islam.
        According to islam, muhammad is the perfect man, and should be emulated and imitated.
        So, Sarfaraz, if you think you are being "true" to islam you are fooling yourself.

        • Sarfaraz Khan

          No worries. I am proud and content with the brand of Islam I believe in, no matter if it is not sanctioned by Muslims or non-Muslims. To each his own. Your view on Islam is a generalisation that applies equally to many religions, maybe your own. All religions have skeletons in their cupboard even as they point at others. Maybe a research into other religions may be in order to realise that the obsession with Islam in light of the surge in extremism may be misplaced. There is a difference in Hadith and Quran. Islam suffers a decline because many interpretations are stuck in 7th century Arabia.

          • Mary Sue

            my main problem with Islam isn't the issues that come from terrorism, really. It's that nobody really is sure they're saved (except in dying for Jihad, but that opens up the whole terrorism can of worms). In Christianity, if a person believes that Jesus died for their sins, they are saved and have guarantee of that. Christianity also doesn't make a person waste time 5 times a day praying a rote prayer when they could be doing something useful. Or waste money going on a pilgrimage to pay homage to a former idol.

            Why would a person throw their lot in with a god that doesn't even have a personal love of anyone?

          • gray man

            False, my "generalization" does not apply to any other religion. Period. Muhammad IS the profit of islam and no other. Muhammad DID all those things I talked about and muslims ARE required to emulate the prophet.
            If you do not follow the profit muhammad and emulate him then you are not in fact a muslim.
            The only similarity to another religion – Christianity for example – is that Christians emulate Christ and try to be like him.

          • gray man

            profit should be prophet – asleep at the wheel.

      • Sarfaraz Khan

        Glad that you find it interesting. A common man, religion notwithstanding, desires a peaceful life, a predictable routine and a family to go back to. No surprises there.

        • Mary Sue

          well yeah, that's normal.

  • mah29001

    Islamism is going to be a far more brutal form of totalitarianism than Communism, Nazism and Fascism.

  • Joseph E

    Part 1.
    We do not recognize any absolute values except total submission to the will of Allah._Some say: Do not lie, but the principle is quite different when we serve the will of Allah. _He taught man to cheat in order to deceive the enemy._Is telling the truth better than the submission and danger to our faith? _We Answer: "No"! _Some say: "Do not murder", but Allah taught us how to Kill. _Shouldn't we kill when killing is consistent with the triumph of the faith?_Fraud, deception, intrigue, falsehood, stealing and killing are nothing but means._They are not in themselves good or bad. Because there is no act good or bad when it is taken out of its context._Ruhollah Khomeini__Quoted from Brigitte Gabriel book_They Must Be Stopped, p 4

  • Joseph E

    Part 3
    _History and forensic evidences point to a trail of 1400 years up to this day of mohamed jihad, conquest, barbarism, savagery, death, destruction, and enslavement. _Mohamed won't accept nor recognise his wrongdoings to others, _OIC Sharia Koran Masters injustices have up to this day tormented and jailed at least 500 millions humans, mohamedans included.__The lack of awarness about mohamed darkness turns us into the first victims of unwarness._Koran=Mein Kempf, Islam=Nazism, Sharia laws=Nuremberg Laws and Allah u Akbar=Heil Hitler

  • Ghostwriter

    To both US Muslim and Sarfaraz Khan,

    The reason most Americans have trouble with Islam is that far too many Muslims are trying to force it on us and we don't like it. We wouldn't mind it if you did worship in peace. The problem is you think it's alright to force Islam on the rest of us and we don't want it. If you want our respect,you're going to have to earn it and that means not forcing Islam upon the rest of us.


    • gray man

      They have to force it on you. That is one of the demands of islam.
      Only two world religions proselytize. Christianity, and islam.
      Christianity through the witness of the Holy Ghost, and by free choice.
      Islam through force.