Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The plague of Islamic terrorism is based on “grievances” against Israel—so says Al Azhar, the world’s most prestigious madrasa (or Muslim “university”) that co-hosted Barrack Obama’s 2009 “A New Beginning” speech. During a recently televised Egyptian interview, Ahmed Al Tayeb—Al Azhar’s grand imam, once named the “most influential Muslim in the world”—said:
I have noticed that they are always telling us that terrorism is Islamic. All those mouthpieces that croak—out of ignorance or because they were told to—that the Al-Azhar curricula are the cause of terrorism never talk about Israel, about Israel’s prisons, about the genocides perpetrated by the Zionist entity state…. If not for the abuse of the region by means of the Zionist entity, there would never have been any problem. The Middle East and the region would have progressed, and the Arab individual would have been like any other person in the world, enjoying a good life, or at least enjoying the right to live in peace.
There’s certainly much to comment on here. First, Al Azhar has in fact been exposed time and time again teaching the same “anti-infidel” and supremacist doctrines that groups like the Islamic State rely on. After being asked why Al Azhar, which is in the habit of denouncing secular thinkers as un-Islamic, refuses to denounce the Islamic State as un-Islamic, Sheikh Nasr, a scholar of Islamic law and graduate of Al Azhar, said:
It can’t [condemn the Islamic State as un-Islamic]. The Islamic State is a byproduct of Al Azhar’s programs. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world [to establish it]. Al Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al Azhar is hostile towards religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from religious minorities]. Al Azhar teaches stoning people. So can Al Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?
But what of Tayeb’s other point, that because Israel “abuses” Palestinians (meaning fellow Muslims), aggrieved Muslims around the world have had no choice but to turn to jihad/terrorism? This of course is another rehashing of the “Muslim grievance” myth popularized by al-Qaeda post 9/11. Back in 2009, Bin Laden said:
You [Americans] should ask yourselves whether your security, your blood, your sons, your money, your jobs, your homes, your economy, and your reputation are more dear to you than the security and economy of the Israelis…. Let me say that we have declared many times, over more than two and a half decades, that the reason for our conflict with you is your support for your Israeli allies, who are occupying our land of Palestine [emphasis added].
Needless to say, this message was (and continues to be) swallowed hook line and sinker by many Western analysts—even as bin Laden was stressing to fellow Muslims (in Arabic) the “real reason for our conflict”:
Our talks with the infidel West and our conflict with them ultimately revolve around one issue — one that demands our total support, with power and determination, with one voice — and it is: 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 willing submission [conversion];  or payment of the jizya, through physical, though not spiritual, submission to the authority of Islam;  or the sword — for it is not right to let him [an infidel] live. The matter is summed up for every person alive: Either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 42)
More emboldened jihadis have of late dropped the façade. In an article unambiguously titled, “Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You,” the Islamic State confessed that “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers.” As for any and all political “grievances,” these are “secondary” reasons for the jihad:
What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. […] The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you [emphasis added].
This threefold choice, then—conversion, subjugation/jizya, or the sword—is the ultimate source of conflict between Islam and everyone else; it’s why prudent non-Muslims have always found the question of achieving permanent peace with the Islamic world an unsolvable problem. As professor of law James Lorimer (1818-90) wrote over a century ago:
So long as Islam endures, the reconciliation of its adherents, even with Jews and Christians [“People of the Book”], and still more with the rest of mankind, must continue to be an insoluble problem. … For an indefinite future, however reluctantly, we must confine our political recognition to the professors of those religions which … preach the doctrine of “live and let live” (The Institutes of the Law of Nations, p. 124).
In other words, political recognition—with all the attendant negotiations, diplomacy, and concessions that come with it—should be granted to all religions/civilizations except Islam, which does not reciprocate nor recognize the notion of “live and let live” (as evinced for example by the Koran’s commands for Muslims to “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” (e.g., 3:110)—that is, enforce Sharia upon earth).
Nor is Islamic supremacism confined to doctrines and scriptures that are “open to interpretation”; history makes an equally ironclad case. As I document in my forthcoming book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, over the centuries and through countless jihads, Muslims invaded and eventually conquered some ¾ of all Christian lands; the scale of destruction and atrocities accompanying these jihads make Islamic State atrocities seem like child’s play.
If Israel had nothing to do with all this—it did not even exist—are we really to believe that grievances against it are responsible for Al Azhar still teaching, and Muslims still upholding, the same doctrines that caused them to terrorize all non-Muslims for centuries?
No, this is yet another case of Muslim apologists trying to kill two birds with one stone: portraying—and thus exonerating—their terroristic behavior as an inevitable product of “grievances” against a demonized Israel that deserves all the blame. In reality, the ultimate “grievance” Muslims have against all non-Muslims is just that—that they are non-Muslim, inferior infidels that must be subjugated one way or the other.