A new Newsweek Poll on American attitudes toward Muslims and Islam has found that 46 percent of Americans believe that the United States is taking in too many Muslim immigrants. 32 percent think that Muslims in America are less loyal to the United States than they are to Islam. 28 percent believe that the Qur’an condones violence, and 41 percent hold that Islamic culture “glorifies suicide.” 54 percent are either “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about Islamic jihadists in this country, and 52 percent support FBI surveillance of mosques, with the same percentage rejecting the claim of American Muslim advocacy groups that Muslims are being singled out by investigators and police.
What are we to make of these figures? Do they mean that American Muslim advocacy groups have to do more to combat “Islamophobia”? That is the likely response: watch now for the follow-up stories about “Islamophobia,” in which the onus for all the attitudes displayed in this poll is placed firmly and solely upon non-Muslim Americans, as if Muslims were an entirely innocent, passive group that was doing nothing whatsoever to make anyone suspicious or angry at all. Newsweek itself led this off by asserting in another article published along with the poll that Muslims in America are “vulnerable as never before.” That story began with an account of a Muslim in Cleveland asking George W. Bush: “What are we doing with public diplomacy to change the hearts and minds of a billion and a half Muslims around the world?” The unspoken assumption behind this question is that Muslim fury at the West stems entirely from the actions of the United States and other Western countries, and not from anything within the Islamic world itself. Daud Abdullah, the Deputy Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), expressed another aspect of this view after the recent jihad plots were discovered in London and Glasgow, when he suggested that the religion of the attackers was incidental to their plots: “Let’s not create a hypothetical problem…it can be the work of Muslims, Christians, Jews or Buddhists.”
The prevailing view is that the Islamic Faith of today’s terrorists has nothing to do with their actions, and those who suspected otherwise are simply bigots who are drawing an unwarranted connection between Islam and terrorism. But it is some Muslims who are themselves making that connection, as the recent Pew Research Center poll of Muslims in America revealed: twenty-six percent of Muslims between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine affirmed that there could be justification in some (unspecified) circumstances for suicide bombing, and five percent of all the Muslims surveyed said that they had a favorable view of Al-Qaeda. Given the Pew Center’s estimate of 2.35 million Muslims in America, and the total of thirteen percent that avowed a belief that suicide bombings could ever be justified, that’s over 300,000 supporters of suicide attacks. And 117,500 supporters of Al-Qaeda.
Meanwhile, terrorists themselves repeatedly and consistently explain and justify their actions by reference to the teachings of Islam – particularly to the imperative, deeply embedded within the Islamic tradition, to subjugate all non-Islamic polities under the rule of Islamic Sharia law. This connection is made openly elsewhere in the world. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, an Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad, in a 1994 book on Islamic law notes that “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book [primarily Jews and Christians]…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims. But then why hasn’t the worldwide Islamic community been waging jihad on a large scale up until relatively recent times? Nyazee says it is only because they have not been able to do so: “the Muslim community may be considered to be passing through a period of truce. In its present state of weakness, there is nothing much it can do about it.”
Despite the best efforts of Islamic advocacy groups to obscure the connection between Islam and violence and supremacism, the sheer volume of Islamic terror attacks (over 9,000 around the world since 9/11) has awakened at least some Americans to the fact that the ideology that fuels those who are determined to destroy us is deeply rooted within Islam, and peaceful Muslims are doing little to root it out. And as for the idea that Islamic terrorism is driven by Western actions, former jihadist Hassan Butt remarked recently that he and his fellow mujahedin used to scoff at this idea: “I remember how we used to laugh in celebration whenever people on TV proclaimed that the sole cause for Islamic acts of terror like 9/11, the Madrid bombings and 7/7 was Western foreign policy.” Butt added that “it isn’t enough for Muslims to say that because they feel at home in Britain they can simply ignore those passages of the Koran which instruct on killing unbelievers. By refusing to challenge centuries-old theological arguments, the tensions between Islamic theology and the modern world grow larger every day.”
The Newsweek poll should become the occasion for renewed debate about the attitude of Muslims in America toward Islamic Sharia law, and about the posture of American Muslims advocacy groups toward the U.S. Constitution. It should be the occasion for a new public examination of Muslim immigration and the monitoring of mosques. It should provide the foundation for a new public call to Muslims in America to renounce Sharia and Islamic supremacism, and to institute comprehensive programs in American schools and mosques that teach against the jihad ideology and the necessity for Muslims to live peacefully with non-Muslims as equals on an indefinite basis. For the people who are “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about Islamic terrorism in the U.S. today are not “Islamophobes.” And they deserve a realistic appraisal of this problem by their elected officials.