In an article I posted on FrontPage Magazine, in which I was at pains to suggest that from the standpoint of the ongoing war of Islam against the West—anyone who doubts this has not been paying attention—the distinction between Islam and Islamism is functionally moot, if not chimerical. I was by no means implying that “moderate Muslims” are in conscious league with their jihadist co-religionists. Rather, my argument was that “moderate Muslims” are essential to maintaining the vigor and power of a faith that is inherently militant and expansionist, and provide the medium their jihadist counterparts are able to exploit to their advantage. In other words, the contextual environment of “moderate Muslims” furnishes precisely the ambient culture in which those we call “extremists” can operate effectively, taking shelter therein when necessary and relying on the very existence of the unreformed, and possibly unreformable, faith they claim to represent.
The argument I am pressing is, obviously, prone to objections, many fanciful or irrelevant. Some of my critics will persist in their belief that Islamism is a perversion of Islam and that the core texts upon which the faith is predicated are subject to reinterpretation. But it is frivolous to dismiss the innumerable calls and injunctions to violence against the infidel enunciated in a holy book. The Koran is not regarded as a contingent and descriptive text, whose wider implications are basically ethical; it is eternal and unchangeable, hortatory and unforgiving, entailing a series of commands to wage endless battle in order to establish worldwide domination, a global Caliphate. To this species of critic, I would say that persistence in a demonstrable error or sheer doctrinal ignorance do not qualify as a valid objection.
More persuasive, at least initially, is the kind of historical and comparative insight proposed by one of the commenters to my original article, who uses the moniker “Visitor.” The two prior Abrahamic faiths, he points out, Judaism and Christianity, evolved over the centuries to become the less sectarian and more embracing communions we see today; surely in the course of time the same can be predicted of Islam, which will eventually detach itself from its early medieval gradients and adjust to the modern world. This is a strong argument on its face, but it neglects several crucial factors.
First, the Koran is categorically unlike the two Testaments in that it is not primarily a narrative and preceptual account aiming toward a condition of redemptive inclusivity. Despite the presence of Canaanites and Romans, the Testaments are not war manuals or piratical logbooks and neither are their talismanic figures desert raiders. Moses gave us the Ten Commandments and Jesus brought the Word of mercy. True, the Commandments have been regularly violated and mercy may be a rara avis among ordinary communicants of Judaism and Christianity, but this does not change the fact that such prescriptions are scriptural ordinances and are meant to be obeyed.
The Koran, on the contrary, features nothing like the Decalogue and treats the concept of mercy as extraneous or foreign to its over-arching message—a few milder passages here and there, mainly in the earlier Meccan portion of the text, only serve to accentuate the pervasive bellicosity of that message. Indeed, the Koran posits a hard and fast distinction between votary and infidel, between us and them, a theological chasm articulated in the form of a legal principle by the 8th century Hanafi school of jurisprudence as the great divide between Dar al-Islam, or the House of Islam, and Dar al-Harb, or the House of War. As Kipling wrote in The Ballad of East and West, “never the twain shall meet”—never, that is, until one is crushed by the other, or until they “stand at God’s great Judgment Seat.”
Secondly, time is short and Islam is long. In an age of advanced weaponry, typified by proliferating chemical, biological and nuclear stockpiles, not to mention more conventional arms that can be massively destructive, we simply do not have the political leisure to wait another century or two for Islam to undergo a reformation and shed its imperial theology, to regard Mosque and State as two separate realms, and ultimately to demilitarize itself. Time is running out. Islam cannot be appeased, it must be contained.
Thirdly, to cite yet another argument put forward by “Visitor”:
“The Islamic fascists say that the West is at war with the Muslim religion and that therefore the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims should make war on the West. And you play right into their hands by saying our enemy is not Islamic fundamentalist terror gangs but rather the entire religion and everyone who believes in it. I don’t think that is a very intelligent strategy.”
That is, those who indicate the danger represented by Islam are practicing a reverse “Islamism,” treating the faith as a monolithic bloc in the same undifferentiated way that Islam ostensibly treats the entire Western world.
This argument is both foolish and asymmetrical. Some Western nations may be engaging various terrorist groups and regimes on diverse fronts, but the West as a whole is not on a war footing and has done everything in its power and even beyond its means to accommodate itself to Islam—witness its magnanimous immigration and welfare policies, its protective hate speech legislation, its refusal to investigate the terror-spawning mosques, its procedural accommodation of Muslims in the courtroom, its extra-legal arrest of those who are publicly critical of Islam, and so on. But Islam is another kettle of piranhas; its foundational texts enshrine the doctrine of conquest and subjugation of non-Muslim peoples. Islam at its core is incompatible with Western liberal democracy and is indeed in a state of perpetual war with it.
It should be mentioned that a companion argument often pursued by observers like “Visitor”—I have been on the receiving end of it innumerable times—is that vigorous and unsparing criticism of Islam will only drive moderates into the arms of the jihadists. This is like saying that criticism of bullies will only create more bullies. What we have seen is something very different, namely, that the coddling of moderates has not made them an iota more visible or vociferous in protesting the excesses of their religious congeners. Their silence is deafening and effectively dissident. In a video titled Message to ‘Moderate’ Muslims, tele-journalist Pat Condell points out that “If they were really that moderate, they would face up to what their religion teaches, and disown it.” Anything less, he continues, than a clear, public rejection of the doctrine of jihad and a willingness to report on the subversive declamations and activities of their imams renders them complicit.
The existence of “moderates,” many of whom may not be devout Muslims and wish only to go about their lives in peace, does not alter the reality that they constitute a silent majority that has not risen up in protest against armed jihad—there is something distinctly immoderate about their vaunted moderation. Nor does their existence hide the fact that the central thrust of Islam, as the Muslim Brotherhood’s oft-quoted manifesto asserts, is to destroy Western civilization and sabotage its “miserable house.” The war will go on until the West is defeated and accepts the hegemony of the Caliphate. To remark, as “Visitor” does, that we “play right into their hands by saying that the enemy is…the entire religion” is abject nonsense and a rather dense and certainly defeatist strategy.
Understanding the nature of Islam is the first step toward ensuring our survival. The West, as Pope Benedict XVI contended in his famous Regensburg Address, is suffering a progressive “de-Hellenization,” losing its reason and ability to analyze the world. Perhaps more to the point, the West has been beheaded, having surrendered its intelligence to the Islamic political and theological cleaver.
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