Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
A leading Muslim authority that so many Western leaders—Pope Francis being only the most famous—trust and listen to has just proclaimed that Islamic terrorism is really a creation of the West.
Speaking before a delegation from Britain’s Royal College of Defence Studies, headed by Major General Stephen Deakin, and representatives from eleven other countries, on May 25 in Cairo, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al Azhar, declared that “terrorism is a political, not a religious, manifestation.” Moreover, “terrorism was created by various Western political regimes that spread it around the world, attaching it to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in order to achieve complex gains and agendas.”
Here, once again, is a shameless lie by what many consider to be the world’s most influential Muslim authority. That Western elements—for example, the CIA during the USSR/Afghan wars of the 1980s—exploit and take advantage of terrorists is true; but to say that they “created” it is false. Islam’s sacred texts must first have been amenable to the use of terrorism; and so it is, with Allah himself constantly employing that word and its conjugates (r-h-b) throughout the Koran, both saying that he will and calling on his followers to strike “terror” into the hearts of those who reject Islam (e.g., 8:12, 59:2).
True to such scriptural injunctions, the history of Islam’s relations with other religions and civilizations has also been one of nonstop terroristic assaults and conquests—in a word, jihad; the heart of the Muslim world, MENA (Middle East and North Africa) was originally Christian until it was literally terrorized into becoming Islamic.
Hence why Islam and Muslims continue to claim the lion’s share of terrorism around the world today, despite al-Tayeb’s attempt to conflate “Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” together, as if an equal share of terrorism is committed by all three groups.
To those familiar with al-Tayeb, such deceptions are old hat. Just last month he claimed that the aforementioned Muslim conquests of Christian MENA “were not conquests of colonization that rely on the methods of plunder, oppression, control, and the policies of domination and dependency,” even though both Christian and Muslim sources make perfectly clear that they were. Rather, the grand imam insisted that these jihads were about bringing “knowledge, justice, freedom, and equality” to conquered Christians.
It is when speaking to Western audiences, however, that the sheikh truly shines. For example, back in 2016, al-Tayeb was invited to speak before the German parliament. In response, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies issued a statement deplored how, “before the German parliament, Sheikh al-Tayeb made unequivocally clear that religious freedom is guaranteed by the Koran, while in Cairo he makes the exact opposite claims.”
The institute underscored what most Arabic speakers already know—that Al Azhar has two faces, two dialogues: one directed to the West, which preaches freedom and tolerance, and one directed to Muslims, which sounds not unlike radical groups such as ISIS. Indeed, just days before traveling to Germany, al-Tayeb had appeared on Egyptian television promoting those sets of laws most antithetical to religious freedom: Islam’s apostasy laws—sharia laws which punish, including with death, those Muslims who dare leave Islam or convert to another Islam.
Or, in the words of the Cairo-based human rights institute, “Al Azhar adopts two contradictory speeches: one is open and directed externally [to the West, etc.], while the other supports violent extremism, and is directed internally [in Egypt and the Arabic speaking Muslim world].” The statement continues:
Combating terrorism and radical religious ideologies will not be accomplished by directing at the West and its international institutions religious dialogues that are open, support international peace and respect freedoms and rights, while internally promoting ideas that contribute to the dissemination of violent extremism through the media and educational curricula of Al Azhar and the mosques.
In the end, it is, of course, not surprising that Sheikh al-Tayeb, whose loyalty is to Islam, is a subterfuge artist. What is surprising, or rather deplorable, is that so many Western leaders, including now the Royal College of Defence Studies—which “instructs the most promising senior officers of the British Armed Forces”—continue to compromise themselves by giving a platform and listening to a proven liar.