It is difficult for Americans to comprehend the challenge to Western civilization from Islam and Islamist ideology. While our political leaders tell us constantly that we are not at war with Islam, the Obama administration will not acknowledge the fact that we are at war with Islamist ideology.
In a slim new volume of four essays, “Islam in our Midst: the Challenge to our Christian Heritage,” Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo examines the roots of Islamist ideology and finds little difference between them and Islam itself as it is currently preached in the Muslim mainstream.
And therein lies the problem with Islam. “Politically correct approaches often present a sanitized view of Islam, ignoring its terrorist forms,” Sookhdeo writes.
The Obama administration has conscientiously excised words such as “Islamic terrorism,” “Islamist terrorism” and “jihad” from the lexicon of its national security doctrine, “because they are deemed to anger Muslims and increase tensions with the wider Muslim world,” Sookhdeo notes.
This has only encouraged the Islamists, who are using left-wing think tanks such as the Center for American Progress to send out the political thought-police to condemn anyone who dares to discuss such issues openly as “Islamophobe.”
Dr. Sookhdeo is a noted scholar of Christianity and Islam, and is the international director for Barnabas Aid, a Christian agency that gives assistance to Christians facing persecution around the world.
Because of his scholarship and his deep understanding of Islamic texts and Islamic law, it is harder for the pro-Sharia lobby to dismiss him as an Islamophobe.
He believes we need to understand the fundamental contradiction and incompatibility between the “Islamic worldview” (note: not “Islamist”) and its American secular counterpart.
First, “a fundamental doctrine of Islam is the unity of religion (din) and state (dawla),” he writes. “Islam is thus inherently political. In a very real sense, for Muslims Islam is the state.” [p39]
Sharia law, which is derived from the Koran, the Hadith, and the various accounts of the life of Mohammad, “contains a complete social and political order, with regulations not only on personal devotion but also on all elements of legal jurisdiction, political institutions, relations with other states and even military endeavors.”
Muslims are taught in their mosques that they form a community that spreads across national borders, even across continents, as opposed to the individualism of American society.
“This can create tensions and conflicts for Muslims living in societies such as the U.S.,” Sookhdeo writes. “It raises the question of where one’s first loyalty lies.” [p41]
If all this sounds familiar, it should. Sookhdeo’s message bears a strong family ressemblance to what you may have heard from the likes of Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffney, Stephen Coughlin or John Guandolo, who have decrypted Islamist ideology and the efforts of Muslim Brotherhood front groups to gradually impose Sharia law on the United States.
But Sookhdeo’s approach is more spiritual, and he has written this latest slim volume as a challenge to Christians to better understand the differences between their worldview and the Islamic one.
Born a Muslim in exile from his native Pakistan, Sookhdeo moved from British Guyana to Britain and became a Christian while studying at university. He went on to become an ordained Anglican priest, in addition to doing his PhD at the University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies.
For Muslims, therefore, Sookhdeo is an apostate, a man with a price on his head. In Britain recently, Islamist activists sought to get him condemned as an Islamaphobe by the UK Charities Commission for his efforts to educate Christians about Islamic doctrine and to promote Christian prayer.
“Islam in Our Midst” tackles the problem of Sharia law and the efforts by Muslim organizations to gradually impose it on the West, and why Sharia is totally incompatible with Western societies.
“The existence of a divine law, ordained by the god of Islam, excludes the possibility of any other kind of law, such as natural law or human law,” Sookhdeo writes. [p42] At its core, Islam is a political ideology, operating in the public space. “The concept of a personal devotional life of faith within the private space has little emphasis in mainstream Islam.”
Mainstream Muslim clerics such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the popular proselytizer who appears on al-Jazeera and other Arabic language networks, “explicitly rejects secularism as apostasy from Islam because it means abandoning the rule of Sharia,” Sookhdeo notes.
I hosted a panel in June on the future of the war on terror at Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom conference. In addition to excellent contributions from Frank Gaffney and CBN correspondent Erik Stakelbek, a lawyer named Marshall Bregar was added to our panel at the last minute at the assistance of Grover Norquist, a close friend of Ralph Reed’s.
Bregar spouted the politically-correct line that Sharia law was no different from Jewish law or canon law, since it only dealt with personal and family relationships.
Sookhdeo quotes Yusuf al-Qaradawi to put the lie to this nonsense.
“Since Islam is a comprehensive system of ‘Idabah (worship) and Shariah (legislation), the acceptance of secularism… is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shariah is a downright apostasy,” Qaradawi says.
So should Americans be worried about Shariah creep – the gradual insinuation of Shariah law and things such as Shariah-compliant investment funds – into our society?
On this score, Patrick Sookhdeo is categorical.
Sharia law can “have no place within the public sphere; nor can the more political expressions of Islam that hide under a religious burqa.” While individual Muslims deserve the protections provided by law to all citizens, “Islam as an ideology needs to be challenged, not protected.” [p76]
His willingness to express this belief publicly has exposed Sookhdeo to the barbs of a variety of Muslim preachers of hate, who have tried to hound him into silence.
In a recent oped published in the Guardian newspaper, a British Shiite cleric named Mehdi Hasan urged the British military to terminate its contract with Sookhdeo to train officers in Islamic ideology before they deploy to Afghanistan.
Calling Sookhdeo an “anti-Islam propagandist,” he wondered why the UK and US governments have given Sookhdeo such influence. “Whatever happened to winning hearts and minds?” Hasan asked.
In Hasan’s own on-line sermons, his efforts to win hearts and minds are sure to raise the eyebrows of any honest viewer. In his effort to portray the superiority of Islam, he calls non-believers “animals” and “kaffar,” a term which has genocidal overtones.
Sookhdeo’s response repeats many of the arguments of this book. “Like any other ideology, Islam must be open to being critiqued, and where its political aspects appear to pose a challenge to fundamental Western values, these issues must be discussed openly and responsibly, without the debate being obscured by charges of 'Islamophobia.'"
Sookhdeo has particularly harsh words for John O. Brennan, President Obama’s counter-terrorism advisor, for his attempt to interpret “jihad” as a purely spiritual concept.
Not only do the misconceptions of Brennan and those like him allow the Islamists to prevail as long as they do not explicitly embrace terrorism; it generates confusion about who the enemy actually is.
"What about the whole Islamist culture and ideology, which has the same long term goals as the terrorists, even though it does not always explicitly endorse terrorism?” Sookdheo writes. [p79] Those goals include “the peaceful or gradualist Islamization of all countries, through tactics that concentrate on every area of society, including the political, legal, social, media, and financial.”
Should we be worried about Islamist groups, or Islam itself?
Here, too, Sookhdeo invites us to open our eyes: “Policy makers try to minimize the problem of radical Islam by presenting it as having nothing to do with classical Islamic ideology, when in fact it has much to do with it,” he concludes.
In other words, Islam as it is currently preached is the problem, and it is up to Muslims themselves to wage the battle to reform their religion.
Until Islam becomes a faith like any other religion – and gives up its pretence to rule every aspect of society – it will remain a threat to our Western belief system and our freedoms.
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