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Fact or “Islamophobia”? By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 03, 2007


When he spoke this week at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Islamic Center of Washington, President Bush said: “In the Middle East, we have seen instead the rise of a group of extremists who seek to use religion as a path to power and a means of domination. This self-appointed vanguard presumes to speak for Muslims. They do not.”

 

There we are again. The Administration and the mainstream media (both Left and Right) take it as axiomatic that the jihad we see all over the world today represents a perversion of Islam, repudiated by the vast majority of Muslims. The American Muslim advocacy industry, chiefly the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which has recently been named an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case, has quite successfully portrayed any exploration of the elements of Islam that give rise to and justify jihad violence and Islamic supremacism as a manifestation of “hatred,” “bigotry,” “Islamophobia.” Those who do not accept the iron dogma that Islam contains nothing within it that can reasonably be used to justify terrorism are vilified and marginalized.

 

However, consider for a moment that if the iron dogma is false, the dogmatists are doing a grave disservice to the United States and even to peaceful Muslims. For if there is nothing in Islam that needs reforming, we cannot possibly offer assistance to Islamic reformers. And if Islam is a fundamentally peaceful belief-system, then we need not reevaluate our immigration policies vis-a-vis Muslims entering the U.S. from a national security standpoint, and we need not call American mosques to account for what they are teaching. If we’re just dealing with a few crazies, we need not call upon Muslims in the U.S. and elsewhere to perform a searching and honest reevaluation of their beliefs, and decide whether they want to live in a state of conflict with the rest of the international community on an indefinite basis. I suspect that if the question were posed to Muslims worldwide, many would opt for otherwise universally accepted notions of human rights: the freedom of conscience, equality of dignity of women and men, equality of dignity of non-Muslims with Muslims. But we will never know, because Western leaders wouldn’t dare pose the question on those terms. After all, they don’t want to be seen as “hatemongers.”

 

But there is another aspect to that hatemongering. And that is that the vision of Islam and jihad that the “hatemongers” present today is identical to the one that was universally accepted by academics, including Muslim ones, up until the age of political correctness and Said’s Left-McCarthyite Orientalism swept propagandists like Carl Ernst, Omid Safi, Rashid Khalidi and others into our universities. If this is an unfair picture of Islam, motivated by hatred and powered by selection bias involving the ignoring of peaceful Muslim authorities, that is an exceedingly strange fact. But fact it is. Let us examine, to take just one example, the work of the great Islamic scholar Majid Khadduri, who died earlier this year at the age of 98.

 

Khadduri was an Iraqi Muslim and a scholar of Islamic law of international renown. I’ve lately been revisiting his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject. Khadduri says this about jihad:

 

The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world. It refused to recognize the coexistence of non-Muslim communities, except perhaps as subordinate entities, because by its very nature a universal state tolerates the existence of no other state than itself. Although it was not a consciously formulated policy, Muhammad’s early successors, after Islam became supreme in Arabia, were determined to embark on a ceaseless war of conquest in the name of Islam. The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)

 

And:

 

Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam’s instrument or carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at least in the belief in God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have declared “some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the anti-Christ.” Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or another, will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community which prefers to remain non-Islamic -- in the status of a tolerated religious community accepting certain disabilities -- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. (Page 64)

 

Khadduri is, in Bush’s words, explaining a doctrine that uses “religion as a path to power and a means of domination.” Was Khadduri an “Islamophobe”? A “propangandist”? A practitioner of “selection bias”? A diabolical character misrepresenting the testimony of the texts? Did he ignore Islam’s peacefulness and moderation? Those who level such charges at those who discuss the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism today should kindly explain how it is that a Muslim scholar like Khadduri (and there are others like him, which I will discuss at another time) could have come to the same conclusions as the “venomous Orientalists” of the 1950s and the “Islamophobic propagandists” of today.

 

Fair-minded observers, however, should take Khadduri’s scholarship as confirming the findings of those who say today that elements of Islam are giving rise to violence and terrorism today, and that that must be addressed by both Muslims and non-Muslims if there is ever going to be an end to it.

 

Not that Khadduri saw it coming, at least in 1955. In the same book, he wrote that the jihad ideology had largely fallen into desuetude:

 

The Muslim states, however, are quite aware that at the present it is not possible to revive the traditional religious approach to foreign affairs, nor is it in their interests to do so, as the circumstances permitting the association of religion in the relations among nations have radically changed....the jihad [has] become an obsolete weapon...Islam has at last accepted, after a long period of tension and friction with Christendom, its integration into a world order which, although originating in western Europe, now tends to encompass the entire world. (Pages 295-296)

 

Those assertions were much truer in 1955 than they are in 2007. Today we are dealing with a global movement that is doing all it can “to revive the traditional religious approach to foreign affairs,” and who vehemently reject the idea that “the jihad [has] become an obsolete weapon.” They are explicit opponents of the “world order” which originated in western Europe, and posit Sharia as an alternative to it. Note that Khadduri doesn’t say that Islamic sects and schools have rejected jihad and reformed the doctrines that mandated Islamic supremacism. Rather, he says that these doctrines were set aside in practice. And now they are being taken up again, fifty years after Khadduri was ready to pronounce them dead -- and now many Western analysts, ignorant of history, think that only we introduce Western ideas into the Islamic world, they will be widely adopted.

 

In fact, those ideas have long been present, and today’s global jihad represents a rejection of them, not a manifestation of ignorance of them. Hugh Fitzgerald has frequently pointed out at Jihad Watch that Saudi oil money, massive Muslim immigration into the West, and the revolution in communications technology have made this reassertion possible. I would also add that the Khomeini revolution in Iran has encouraged jihadists in numerous ways, not least by demonstrating that they can capture a state and hold power.

 

But Bush’s address is just the latest example of the fact that Western leaders are largely ignoring all this, and continuing to make policy based on fictions. Karen Hughes is reading John Esposito and Reza Aslan instead of Majid Khadduri and those who confirm his analysis. The negative consequences of this will only grow more obvious as time goes on.


Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.



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