Thirteen years after 9/11, there is one thing that virtually all our politicians, law enforcement officials, and mainstream media guardians of opinion know: that attack had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, and neither does any other jihad terror attack, anywhere, no matter how often its perpetrators quote the Qur’an and invoke Muhammad. Islam, we’re told again and again, is a good, benign thing – indeed, a positive force for societies, and to be encouraged in the West. Jihad terror is an aberration, an outrage against the Religion of Peace’s peaceful teachings. These lessons from our betters are coming more and more often in light of the advent of the Islamic State.
The caliph Ibrahim, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic Studies. But Barack Obama is unimpressed with his Islamic erudition: “ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf emphasized that Obama meant what he said: “ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion. The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said that for some members of the international coalition he hopes to build against the Islamic State, joining it “will mean demolishing the distortion of one of the world’s great peaceful religions.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron chimed in:
What we are witnessing is actually a battle between Islam on the one hand and extremists who want to abuse Islam on the other. These extremists, often funded by fanatics living far away from the battlefields, pervert the Islamic faith as a way of justifying their warped and barbaric ideology – and they do so not just in Iraq and Syria but right across the world, from Boko Haram and al-Shabaab to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Where is “Islam” actually battling these “extremists who want to abuse Islam”? Cameron didn’t say.
Showing as much grasp of the situation as Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond declared: “Isil’s so-called caliphate has no moral legitimacy; it is a regime of torture, arbitrary punishment and murder that goes against the most basic beliefs of Islam.” On the opposite side of the aisle, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper complained that Islamic State “extremists are beheading people and parading their heads on spikes, subjugating women and girls, killing Muslims, Christians and anyone who gets in their way. This is no liberation movement — only a perverted, oppressive ideology that bears no relation to Islam.”
Unfortunately, for every Islamic State atrocity she enumerated, there is Qur’anic sanction:
Beheading people: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks…” (Qur’an 47:4).
Subjugating women and girls: “Men have authority over women because Allah has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because Allah has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them” (Qur’an 4:34).
Killing Muslims: “They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another). So take not Auliya’ (protectors or friends) from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah (to Muhammad SAW). But if they turn back (from Islam), take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them, and take neither Auliya’ (protectors or friends) nor helpers from them” (Qur’an 4:89).
Killing Christians: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).
Even if the Islamic State is misinterpreting or misunderstanding these verses, it is doing so in a way that accords with their obvious literal meaning. That should, at very least, lead to a public discussion about the possibility of Islamic reform, what is being taught in mosques in the West, and related issues. But such a discussion is not forthcoming; it would be “Islamophobic.”
And why does it matter, anyway? Why does it make any difference whether or not what the Islamic State is doing is in accord with Islamic texts and teachings?
It matters for many reasons. Aside from all the vague condemnations of the Islamic State that American Muslim groups have issued, how closely the Islamic State actually hews to the letter of Islamic law will help determine how much support it will ultimately get from Muslims worldwide. Two American Muslims have already been killed fighting for it; how many more will there be? Only by examining the Islamic State’s actions in light of an honest assessment of Islamic teachings will we be able to estimate to what extent we can expect to see its actions replicated by other Muslims elsewhere.
These dismissals of the Islamic State’s Islam, of course, are designed to assure us that we need not have any concerns about massive rates of Muslim immigration and the Muslims already living among us. One problem with this is that it prevents authorities from calling upon Muslim communities to teach against the doctrines that the Islamic State acts upon, and to work for genuine reform. And so the door remains open to the possibility that the actions of the Islamic State could be repeated in Western countries.
Barack Obama, David Cameron and the rest would do far better to confront the Islamic State’s Islamic justifications for its actions and call on Muslims in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere to teach against these understandings of Islam that they ostensibly reject. But they never do that, and apparently have no interest in doing it. Instead, they foster complacency among the people of the West. For doing so, they may never pay a price, but their people will almost certainly have to pay, and pay dearly.
On Wednesday, Australian police raided an Islamic bookstore and arrested two Muslims on terror charges relating to their activities in recruiting Muslims for the jihad in Syria. Australian Federal Police National Manager Counter Terrorism Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan insisted: “This has got nothing to do with Islam, this is criminal behaviour by Australians involved in terrorist activity."
Gaughan could have uttered the epitaph of the West: “This has nothing to do with Islam.” As the jihadist’s knife slices through their necks, Western officials like him will use their dying breaths to gasp it out one more time: “This has nothing to do with Islam.”
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