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Symposium: Confronting Islamization of the West By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, July 11, 2008


How can the West prevail against the Islamist agenda? To discuss this question with us today, Frotnpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests are:

Abul Kasem, an ex-Muslim who is the author of hundreds of articles and several books on Islam including, Women in Islam. He was a contributor to the book Leaving Islam – Apostates Speak Out as well as to Beyond Jihad: Critical Views From Inside Islam.

Steve Emerson, the executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org), a non profit Washington DC based research group that investigates militant Islamic activities and networks on American soil and their ties to Islamic extremist groups overseas. He is the author or co-author of 6 books on national security or terrorism, including the bestseller "American Jihad." He and his staff have testified and briefed Congress dozens of times. He has outed numerous Islamic groups (i.e. CAIR, MPAC and MAS) that feign moderation but which, as Emerson has proven, are closet extremists and militants and all tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight 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 is Religion of Peace?

Ayla Iqbal, a recent graduate from the University of Sussex with a degree in International Relations. She is currently working as a research analyst at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) in Singapore.

Rohan Gunaratna, the author of Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror (Columbia University Press). He is Head of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.A former Senior Fellow at the United States Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, he is currently a Senior Fellow both at Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy's Jebsen Centre for Counter Terrorism Studies and at the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, Oklahoma.

and

Ari Kruglanski, a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has recently served as member of the National Academy of Science panels on counterterrorism, and educational paradigms in homeland security, and is serving on the NAS Board for Cognitive, Social and Sensory Processes. Kruglanski also serves as a co- PI at START (National Center for the Study of Terrorism and the Response to Terrorism), at the University of Maryland.

FP: Abul Kasem, Steve Emerson, Robert Spencer, Ayla Iqbal, Rohan Gunaratna and Ari Kruglanski, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Abul Kasem, let’s begin with you. In a recent interview we did together, you shed light on how Muslims exploit our own policy of multiculturalism to destroy our multiculturalism. In other words, they use our tolerance to destroy our tolerance. You call this “Islamic Multiculturalism.”

Let’s start with these questions: Is there any way we can stop it? And how can we achieve this as a free society?

Kasem: Surprisingly, it will not be that difficult to defeat the agenda of Islamists to plant the root of Islamic Multiculturalism in a free and democratic society. All that is needed is a good (or working) knowledge of Islam, its history of propagation through violence and terror, and its adoption of taqiyya and kitman when the going is tough.

Once non-Islamic the policy makers comprehend what Islam is about, it is quite straight forward to defeat it in its own game. In our interview, as well as in many of my other interviews, I have indicated a few methods to contain the rapid ingress of Islamic Multiculturalism,

Here are a few specific steps that the un-Islamic world might adopt to stop this menace:

[1] Adopt tough policies on the entry of Islamists to non-Islamic countries. However, we must make a distinction between the large number of in-name-only Muslims and the diehard, jihad-infused, conniving, pan-Islamists.

[2] Enforce strict restrictions on the construction of mosques and Islamic seminaries. If this sounds unethical/ and or infringing on the religious rights, please note the non-existence and disallowance of construction of non-Islamic worshipping centres in Islamic Paradises. We must call spade a spade.

[3] Stop paying jizya to the Islamists. Do not accede to any unreasonable demands solely by the Islamists. Keep other religious people in mind. Why must Islam be treated more favourably than other religions? Ask the Islamists this simple question.

[4] Halt the interfaith dialogue with Islam. Remember, Islam is uncompromising. There is no way Islam will accommodate un-Islam. Please read this sentence one more time and memorize. You will save a lot of time and money wasted to please Islam. We do not have to please Islam.

[5] Assert the un-Islamic (non-Islamic) cultures, traditions, customs and ethos. We must let the Islamic world learn a bit that the world is not prepared to accept its 7th century Arab Bedouin customs and laws.

[6] Reject any demand to impose Sharia in a non-Islamic society; even if it is in the pretence for Muslims only. Remember, Muslims are the first victims of Islam.

[7] Muslims migrating to non-Islamic countries must sign a declaration that they do not believe in pan-Islamism. If found contravening their signed declaration they should be stripped of their citizenship and promptly deported to the Islamic Paradise they had migrated from.

[8] Proselytizing by Islamic dawa must be strictly controlled, and if necessary, banned. If you think I am being unreasonable. Please look at the laws of Islamic Paradises (such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Sudan, Nigeria…) with regard to the propagation of other faith among the Muslims.

Once the civilized world adopts the above measures, we shall see how quickly Islamic Multiculturalism vanishes from the non-Islamic world.

FP: Thank you Abul Kasem.

Rohan Gunaratna, what do you think of Abul Kasem’s recommendations of how to save Western society from the Islamist assault?

One of the problems here is how we can do some of these things as a democratic society. For instance, how can a free society carry out his proposals: #2, 7 and 8? This would have to involve actions that are not, arguably, very conducive to a society that respects individual rights and freedom. Or am I wrong? Or is the point that to save itself the West will have no choice but to do these things?

Gunaratna: Multiculturalism and Islamization per se are not the challenges. Although formation of ethnic and religious islands in the West has proven to be problematic, we can still develop programs and initiatives to encourage and if necessary enforce integration and assimilation.

I am not a fan of the European or the Canadian model of mosaic but the US model of the melting pot. Neither is Islamization, a form of religiosity (being religious) a problem. God never wanted to force people to convert or revert. It is man, or some men who are power hungry or ignorant. We can still co-exist provided hatred is not being encouraged.

The challenge is the contemporary radical interpretation of Islam by a small groups of self appointed, taught or half baked clerics. Such a reinterpretation and misinterpretation seeks to create hatred against non-Muslims and Muslims who oppose the extremist views of al Qaeda and like minded groups.

We must be measured in our response. Otherwise we will have no public support to sustain our effort in the long term. We must be strategic in our orientation. Otherwise we will appear to win in the short term but suffer losses in the long term.

To win the fight against al Qaeda and its likeminded groups we must work with the Muslim communities in the West. We must convince them that al Qaeda and its likeminded groups have launched a merciless assault on mainstream Muslims tarnishing their image and the reputation of their faith. We must hold hands and walk with the mainstream Muslims to marginalize the deviant Muslims. We must develop legislation and enforce it to punish ideologues, preachers, and practitioners of hate.

FP: Dr. Gunaratna, you say that we must work with Muslim communities to “convince them that al Qaeda and its likeminded groups have launched a merciless assault on mainstream Muslims tarnishing their image and the reputation of their faith.”

This sounds all great and everything and, yes, we have to try to work with Muslim communities. But how do we convince Muslim communities that al Qaeda and other jihadi groups tarnish the reputation of Islam when the imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law is deeply embedded within Islamic tradition (Qur’an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi’ite sources)?

All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad.

If this is the case, how does telling Muslim communities that jihad against non-Muslims is un-Islamic work exactly?

In any case, Ayla Iqbal, what do you make of Abul Kasem’s recommendations? Can we as a democratic society carry out his suggestions? What do you make of proposals #2, 7 and 8? Can you deal with these specifically? Thank you.

Iqbal: If a democratic society decided to administer these recommendations as simply suggested by Mr. Kasem, I feel that it could be construed as a direct contradiction to the meaning of a free and democratic society which the West needs to not just portray but practice. Not only that, it could be taken as spreading intolerance in a supposedly tolerant society. The West cannot be seen to accuse Islam of being an intolerant religion, only to act in the same way. Despite this, with the fear that is spreading in the West about Islam, it would be feasible to successfully carry out suggestions such as 2, 7 or 8 in
the name of security.

However, the problem should not focus on whether or not a democratic society can actually implement these recommendations. The issue lies with the implications of enforcing these rules and regulations on Muslims in the West. Perhaps one outcome could be Mr. Kasem's belief that Islamic Multiculturalism will quickly vanish from a non-Islamic world. Unfortunately, I do not see this as a likely outcome for multiple reasons.

First of, if a group is adamant in spreading Islamization in the West, implementing proposal #2, which entails enforcing strict restrictions on the construction of mosques will not change people's ideology. In fact, this act of repression can create the possibility of angering even the moderate Muslims. Even the least religious of Muslims will feel as if their religion is being attacked, which will just add more fuel to the fire. The minority of Muslims who are extremists will then easily feed off this anger and can easily find other ways to spread their propaganda, for example, through the internet.

This also relates to recommendation #8, the strict control of proselytizing by Islamic "dawa." Once again, this would be illegal in a democratic society and if there would be strict control on Muslims, the same should apply to other religions. Besides this, there is the issue of how this would actually be controlled. It is possible to monitor Islamic seminaries and mosques, but there are many other avenues that a person can take to preach Islam. In the globalized world of today, a person does not have to be present in a Western society to obtain contact with those who do live in the West. In fact, many teenagers are using the internet as a means of finding information on radical Islam rather than going to the nearest mosque.

The reason some Muslims in the West are being radicalized is their sense of suffering from certain real or perceived grievances and finding it difficult to properly fit into conventional society. As Dr. Rohan Gunaratna stated, it is necessary to establish programs that enforce assimilation. It is important to focus on spreading the right message of Islam, instead of pointing out the differences and problems. The majority of Muslims in the West are moderate and it is vital to work with them instead of enforcing policies that will alienate them further.

FP: I always get confused when people say that the “majority” of Muslims in the West are “moderate.” What does this mean exactly? Does it mean that they reject their religion’s teachings that Islam must subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law? Does it mean they reject the fundamental Islamic tenet that it is the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad? Does it mean they believe that a Muslim woman has the right to self-determination, even in the sexual realm, and that she will not face a death sentence no matter what her choices are?

Steve Emerson go ahead.

Emerson: Here we have the classic debate that surrounds the western conundrum in dealing with radical Islam. The solutions above range from an enforced abridgement of free speech (justified presumably by the comparable dangers of yelling fire in a crowded theatre) to the notion that the relatively small allure of Al Qaeda is the problem rather than the larger problem of militant Islam (justification of violence, belief in the imposition of the Sharia, support for radical Islamic groups such as Hamas and Hizbollah or plain old cultural jihadists) to the idea (fanciful in my opinion) that somehow the US model of how Muslims have assimilated should serve as the paradigm for how Muslims in Europe should also be treated and finally to the rather absurd notion (offered by Islamists in the West themselves) that radical Muslims in the West are merely acting out their “frustrations” out of “grievances.”

Let’s step back for a second and analyze the fundamental issues at hand without getting mired in the quicksand of sentimentality or the rhetorical bromides that make us feel good but are about as effective in fighting the Islamists as kumbaya sessions were in fighting the Ku Klux Klan.

Firstly, there are three types of jihadists or Islamists (a term that the Washington Post apparently feels might hurt the sensitivities of the jihadists): the military type (which we all recognize by the violence they inflict); the cultural jihadists—the ones that don’t pull the trigger but applaud those who do; and the political jihadists, who seek to change the balance of power by using Dawa, the ballot box and the tools of democracy. There is no one size fits all: Each one requires a nuanced response that ultimately seeks the same goal: defeating and delegitimizing the jihadists, first in the West, and then in the Middle East and Asia. Finally, there must be a recognition that virtually all Islamist movements in the world including the West originate in the Muslim Brotherhood, parent of Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and virtually every Sunni terrorist group in the world. The permutations of groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, and the Islamic Society of North America all originate in the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact recently proven by the release of internal MB documents in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a non profit shut down in December 2001 for serving as a front for Hamas.

So now having alienated all my fellow panelists, let me suggest that programs calling for “assimilation” of Muslims will NOT work:

The separate or parallel societies of Muslims in Europe and yes in the United States as well stem from internally generated efforts NOT to assimilate, not the product of the state’s failure to integrate. While of course racism and exclusivity play part roles in the lack of integration, the chief factor, as the Dutch intelligence concluded in their seminal annual reports, is that Islamic associations, mosques, and Islamic leaders assiduously work at ensuring the loyalty of Muslims not to the indigenous state but the “ummah”, indeed creating an anomie towards the host state and turning the population away from any belief in local nationalism.

We are perpetuating a state of denial if we think that the “US model” is the paradigm. While admittedly there have been less successful violent plots to carry out jihad than in Europe, the fact remains that virtually the entire “mainstream” leadership and institutional center of gravity in the US, as in Europe, lies with organizations that are derived from the Muslim Brotherhood or their successor organizations, such as Hamas.

Should we not be as concerned with those that say they “condemn 9-11” as those that approve of it? Well, not so fast. The chief reason why various Muslim leaders around the world “condemned” 9-11 was because it was “counterproductive” not “immoral.” Why, even CAIR and MPAC point out that the leaders of Hizbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood like Shiek Yousef Al Qardawi stood in a long impressive line of Islamic leaders that renounced 9-11 all the while as Hizbollah leaders were leading “Death to America” rallies while Qardawi was issuing fatwas to kill Jews and Americans.

The bottom line is that the problem of militant Islam is much larger than Al Qaeda and that militant Islam covers a large swath of the Muslim landscape, no matter where it is. I concur wholeheartedly that Kasem in his recognition that Dawa is just as dangerous as jihad but differ in the means to control it. Having worked for nearly 14 years to deligitimatize radical Islamic groups hiding under the veneer of being “civil rights” and “humanitarian” monikers in an open society, the freedoms afforded to groups doing nothing more than prior ethnic groups in self-proclaimed but totally disingenuous right of ethnic passage cannot be selectively abridged. There needs to be a concentrated and focused effort to expose these organizations for who they are. This in turn requires a sustained effort by those in government, the public sector and especially other religious groups to subject their co-religionists to a rigorous test to determine the authenticity of the Islamic group’s genuine opposition to terrorism.

Kruglanski: The challenge, it seems to me, is to distinguish between those committed jihadists who are bent on attacking the West, and identify with the goal of subjugating the West and large groups of Muslims who seem happy to co-exist with non-Muslims, and to be proper citizens of secular non-Muslim states. As Mr. Emerson has justly pointed out there is no one size that fits all the jihadists, let alone the large masses of non-jihadist Muslims, who seem content to live their individual lives without adoption of the collectivist cause of Islamic conquest of the West.

After all, throughout history there seem to have been periods of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews, including the caliphs court in Baghdad, mediaeval Spain, even the time of the Crusades (All detailed in Karabell's recent book titled "Peace Be Upon You."

Tough measures of "fighting fire with fire" and adopting the kind of policies implicit in some of Mr. Kasem's proposals, though potentially effective in the short term, could backfire in the long run and allow a portrayal of the West as the exploiter and an enemy of all Muslims. It is important to find ways of fighting tooth and nail the committed Islamists who would not be deterred by other means (e.g. through Mr. Kasem's suggestion number 1), as well as exercising tight control over potential incitement to jihad in some mosques and madrassas without adopting non-discriminant policies likely to fuel the rage of numerous uncommitted Muslims and motivate them to embrace the jihad.

Indeed, the fundamental logic of terrorism (from 19th century Russian anarchists onward) has been one of provoking the adversary to an excessive, disproportionate response to terrorist attacks, that would unmask the hypocricy of governments and turn the masses against them. It is, therefore, important not to fall into that particular trap by adopting suppressive and intolerant policies open to the interpretation of enmity toward Islam as a religion.

It is important to enlist the help of those Muslims who are in favor of Interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence to launch massive educational campaigns (e.g. on the internet, in schools, and in prisons) and to highlight those elements of the Qura'n that stress tolerance and co-existence. Concomitantly it is important to avoid policies that would imply an intractable conflict to exist between Islam and other religions and put in place programs and policies that would promote the values of friendship and partnership across the lines of religious divides.

FP: I guess the problem is: who exactly are these Muslims who are in favor of “Interfaith dialogue” and “peaceful coexistence”? And what does their form of Islam mean if they are rejecting the teaching of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence that teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad.

In other words, for a Muslim to be in favour of “interfaith dialogue” means nothing if he does not reject the central Islamic tenet that it is the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through jihad. And if he does reject it, then this must be made clear and the implications have to be made clear as well.

Therefore, if “it is important to avoid policies that would imply an intractable conflict to exist between Islam and other religions” then that means that the international community has an obligation to repudiate the central foundation of Islam, which separates the Islamic and non-Islamic world and mandates war until the whole world is Muslim.

Robert Spencer, go ahead.

Spencer: The difficulty we’re having in this Symposium stems from sharply differing assumptions about the nature of Islam and the sentiments of the great majority of Muslims. Abul Kasem wants “Muslims migrating to non-Islamic countries” to “sign a declaration that they do not believe in pan-Islamism,” and calls upon Western governments to “reject any demand to impose Sharia in a non-Islamic society.” Rohan Gunaratna, however, apparently disagrees, saying that “Islamization, a form of religiosity (being religious)” is not the problem, but merely “the contemporary radical interpretation of Islam by a small groups of self appointed, taught or half baked clerics.”

Mr. Gunaratna says that we must “hold hands and walk with the mainstream Muslims to marginalize the deviant Muslims.” In dismissing “Islamization” as “a form of religiosity (being religious),” he is evidently indifferent to its political and societal elements – which are, of course, precisely the elements of Islam that Abul Kasem wants to neutralize in the West.

Of course, if these are merely an invention of “small groups of self appointed, taught or half baked clerics,” then no such large-scale measures are necessary. All we need do is hold hands with peaceful Muslims, says Dr. Gunaratna, and explain to them how much the jihadists are damaging the image and reputation of Islam – although why they cannot see this for themselves is unclear.

But does the political character of Islam, and its web of divinely-sanctioned laws that mandate and institutionalize discrimination against women and non-Muslims, really have no deeper roots in Islamic tradition than the fevered imaginings of some contemporary “half-baked clerics”? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dr. Gunaratna seems to have missed entirely the traditionalist character of the jihadist appeal among Muslims: jihadists present themselves as the true and pure Muslims, reviving the authentic practice of Islam where it has fallen by the wayside. By means of this appeal, they have gained recruits among peaceful Muslims, nominal Muslims, new converts to Islam, and others. And no significant movement has arisen among peaceful Muslims opposing in any serious way this use of Islam.

It is difficult, in light of this, to know which Muslim moderates in particular with whom Dr. Gunaratna would bid us hold hands. How does he propose to distinguish those who hold to the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism from those who don’t, when there isn’t a clear distinction between the two camps in the Islamic world?

Steve Emerson is absolutely right when he says that “the problem of militant Islam is much larger than Al Qaeda” and that “militant Islam covers a large swath of the Muslim landscape, no matter where it is.” He and Abul Kasem are 100% correct that dawa is by no means innocuous religious proselytizing, but is, as Mr. Emerson says, “just as dangerous as jihad.” He adds that “there needs to be a concentrated and focused effort to expose these organizations for who they are” and that is precisely what needs to be done, since there have been so many Islamic organizations (such as the Holy Land Foundation) and individuals (such as the former Cleveland Imam Fawaz Damra, who signed the Fiqh Council of North America’s Fatwa Against Terrorism while elsewhere affirming on secretly filmed video that “terrorism is the path to liberation”) that have fooled many. When Dr. Kruglanski says that “it is important to enlist the help of those Muslims who are in favor of Interfaith dialogue and peaceful coexistence,” it is also important to distinguish those who are genuinely in favor of such dialogue from those who are merely using it as a means to gull unsuspecting infidels.

And this requires non-Muslims to be fully informed of the issues involved. Dr. Kruglanski says that we should “launch massive educational campaigns (e.g. on the internet, in schools, and in prisons) and to highlight those elements of the Qura'n [sic] that stress tolerance and co-existence.” But the problem is not that Muslims are unaware of those elements of the Qur’an. The problem is that in some strains of mainstream and traditional Islamic theology they’re taught that these elements of the Qur’an have been superseded. This is a very ancient Islamic understanding of the Qur’an: in the earliest biography of Muhammad, the eighth-century Muslim chronicler Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur’an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya, the non-Muslim poll-tax (see Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.). Commentaries on the Qur’an by venerable Islamic authorities including Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that Surat At-Tawba, the ninth sura of the Qur’an and the one containing the exhortation to make war against and subjugate the People of the Book (9:29) abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur’an.

In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur’an’s teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by the jihad theorists Sayyid Qutb and Sayyed Abul Ala Maududi; the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of The Qur’anic Concept of War), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his “Jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah”), and others. It is, of course, an assertion of no little concern to non-Muslims, since it encapsulates a doctrine of warfare against non-Muslims and their ultimate subjugation under Sharia rules, with all that implies.

Thus it is not enough merely to stress the verses of relative tolerance and co-existence in the Qur’an, but to point out this understanding of the Qur’anic development of the doctrine of jihad, and call upon peaceful Muslims to repudiate it. Indeed, we must speak forthrightly about all the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify violence, and that have been used historically to justify Islamic supremacism and the subjugation of women and non-Muslims. I am sure that Dr. Kruglanski is aware that during those “periods of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews, including the caliphs court in Baghdad, mediaeval Spain, even the time of the Crusades” of which he speaks, at no point did Christians and Jews enjoy equality of rights with Muslims in Muslim polities. Instead, they were subjected to the depredations and discriminations of dhimmitude, which enforced their subjugated and subservient status.

Individuals, of course, could find preferment, but even this was fraught with peril: when a Jew in Spain rose in influence and was finally appointed to a position of some power in Granada in 1066, the local Muslims rioted at the outrage of being ruled by a Jew, and 4,000 Jews were killed. This was not unusual in the Muslim Spain that has become a favored historical myth – even Maria Rosa Menocal, one of the chief architects of this myth, acknowledges that non-Muslims in Spain were always subject to the draconian dhimmi laws: “The dhimmi, as these covenanted peoples were called,” she says in The Ornament of the World, “were granted religious freedom, not forced to convert to Islam. They could continue to be Jews and Christians, and, as it turned out, they could share in much of Muslim social and economic life. In return for this freedom of religious conscience the Peoples of the Book (pagans had no such privilege) were required to pay a special tax — no Muslims paid taxes and to observe a number of restrictive regulations: Christians and Jews were prohibited from attempting to proselytize Muslims, from building new places of worship, from displaying crosses or ringing bells. In sum, they were forbidden most public displays of their religious rituals.”

Historian Kenneth Baxter Wolf observes that when the Muslims conquered Spain, they enacted laws “aimed at limiting those aspects of the Christian cult which seemed to compromise the dominant position of Islam.” After enumerating a list of laws much like Menocal’s, he adds: “Aside from such cultic restrictions most of the laws were simply designed to underscore the position of the dimmîs as second-class citizens.”

So much for Muslim Spain as a proto-multicultural paradise.

In light of all this, I’d say that the first thing we have to do is stop kidding ourselves. We have to stop soothing ourselves with comforting half-truths. Is the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism a recent invention by heretical clerics? No. Are all Muslims jihadists, or even anything close to a majority? No. But is this fact any reason to assume that the peaceful majority opposes the contemporary global jihad? No. Undoubtedly many do, but the moderates on which Dr. Gunaratna and Dr. Kruglanski and Ayla Iqbal have placed such hopes have not organized themselves, have not acted decisively against the jihadists, and have not delineated an Islamic theological position that rejects jihadism.

Consequently, I believe that depending on them is to lean on a weak reed, and that we need to take strong and decisive steps, such as Abul Kasem outlines, to protect ourselves. Those who have criticized his plan have failed to note that he does not include all Muslims as jihadists within it, but leaves room, in point 7, for Muslims to practice their faith in the West shorn of the political and social elements that would have them attempting ultimately to impose it upon non-Muslims and subjugate them. Since Muslim spokesmen in the West, such as the now-deported Imam Damra and so many others, are so anxious to avow that they intend no such thing, this should be no problem. And since there are such ample precedents for disingenuousness in this regard, authorities should keep their eyes open.

Kasem: About proposal two, Mr. Jamie Glazov is concerned that in a democratic society it will be problematic to contain the rapid growth of mosques. I would like to remind the gullible westerners that Islam has found a great weapon in democracy, as practiced in secular societies, such as the USA, the UK, Australia and so on. The system of democratic governments in these countries have provided Islam in a silver platter all the ammunition needed to destroy the very democracy these countries have nurtured so dearly. All that the Islamists require is to be elected to the seat of power only once, and that is all.

Now, let us reflect on the reality of mosques. Most investigations on Islamist terrorism have unmistakably demonstrated the irrefutable evidences of the local mosques playing the critical role in stimulating, planning, logistics and carrying out the Islamist terrorist attacks. Do we require further proof to confirm that mosques are not merely places of worship? Mosques are the nerve centers for carrying out Islamic wars on infidels. The entire history of Islam clearly demonstrates the nexus between the mujahidin and their spiritual leaders controlling the mosques. One serious mistake the infidels make is to equate mosques with any other places of worship, such as churches, temples, and synagogues. This is a fatal error. Islamic mosques are potential war centers, a place to hide arms, plan, assist and conduct jihad (Islamic warfare) on the un-Islamic world. A mosque is an Islamic fortress, to say it bluntly. Muhammad had always used mosques to train his fighters, plan raids, plunder, and as sanctuary for arms, horses and fighters.

Therefore, it will be absolutely unwise to let the mosques grow uncontrolled. Controlling the growth of mosque is a security issue. It must be treated as urgent. Please note that controlling mosques is not the same as banning them. It is similar to controlling pubs, cinema houses, brothels, and adult entertainment centres.

Failure to control the growth of mosques is bound to let the Islamist jihadists get green signal to plant the seeds of terror in the un-Islamic territory.

I find no problem on implementing proposal number seven. During the cold war all potential migrants to the United States were required to sign a declaration that he/she is not a member of any Communist Parties, and that he/she does not believe in the doctrine of International Communism. The declaration also included the warning that, if ever, the applicant was found to have suppressed the truth, his/her status will be revoked and he /she will be deported from the United States and/or subject to legal action.

This harsh step has protected the United States from the menace of communism.

So should be the case with Islam. Islam wants to take over the rule of the non-Islamic world, including the USA. So why should the un-Islamic world not take precautionary measures to stem the entry of potential jihadists who aim to destroy the democratic system of government?

Proposal number eight calls for the banning/or restricting the dawa. This step is required to protect the gullible non-Muslims who are duped into believing that Islam is a religion of peace. Islam is harmful for humanity, so why must we let the dawa have a freehand in propagating the doctrine of hate, terror, and barbarism? Islam’s ultimate goal is to enforce Sharia around the globe. If we hate Sharia, why must we let this doctrine be propagated insidiously, by taking advantage of the secular system of religious freedom? Shall we let the Klu Klux Klan, the Nazis, the Communist terrorists, the cultist of David Koresh, Jim Jones and so on have unlimited proselytizing power? Why must we not treat Islam as a dangerous belief system that wants to subjugate the entire mankind to slavery, barbarism, terror and murder?

Ask any Islamist and he/she will readily admit that Islam’s goal is to conquer the world, by any means, as suited, and impose Sharia laws. They will even tell you that Islam is not only a religion; it is a complete code of life. Does the civilized world need to be indoctrinated in such a fascistic idea?

Dr. Gunaratna has a noble mission to hold the hands of Muslims and to demonstrate to them that al-Qaeda is creating hatred against the non-Muslims and the Muslims. He believes that a small group of misguided clerics are responsible for the raging Islamist terrorism.

Dr. Gunaratna is very naïve. He forgets that Islamist terrorism is the direct result of the stipulations of the Koran, Sunna, and Sharia. If he would read the exegeses of the Koran by eminent scholars of Islam, such as ibn Abbas, Jalalyn, ibn Kathir, Tabari, Maulana Maududi, Hilali and Khan, he would have found that none of them differ from the doctrinal bases of al-Qaeda. The reality is: the Koran firmly backs up the terror, murder, loot and barbarism of the jihadists. These jihadists are doing exactly what the Koran asks them to do. No Imam or a scholar of Islam has, so far, issued any fatwa condemning al-Qaeda and/or repudiating its scriptural bases for attacking the un-Islamic world.

Therefore, I must say Dr. Gunaratna is too simplistic in his thought. He is just towing the PC line of today’s politicians, being paralyzed with the thought of losing public support. He assumes that somewhere there is ‘peaceful’ Islam, which the ‘moderate’ Muslims follow. He relies on this elusive group of Muslims to defeat Islamist terrorism. Unfortunately, there is only Islam—the Islam preached, practiced and enforced by Muhammad. The entire ummah is bound by Islamic law to emulate Muhammad in complete. I would like him to prove me otherwise.

To depend on the ‘Moderate’ Muslims to isolate the Islamist terrorists is just a wrong step. More than six years have past since the 9/11, and since President Bush’s declaration that a small band of foolish Islamists have hijacked the ‘peaceful’ Islam; most PC governments have adopted the policies that somehow, ‘moderate’ Muslims will defeat the rage of the jihadists. The result of such wrong approach speaks for itself: Islamist terrorism has multiplied, unabated. What happened to the help of the moderate Muslims? Have these governments been able to identify such moderate Muslims?

It is not the Muslims, the al-Qaeda, the Islamist Terrorists that are the problem, but Islam is. Muslims are the victims of Islam. They are infected with the virus of Islam, a dangerous fascistic doctrine. Terrorism is just a tactic employed, taqiyya and kitman are also other tools used to advance the cause of Islam—the establishment of Islam’s supremacy around the globe.

Dr. Gunaratna wrote: We must convince them that al Qaeda and its likeminded groups have launched a merciless assault on mainstream Muslims tarnishing their image and the reputation of their faith.

I am just wondering how he may justify his correctness, when the Koran and all the eminent exegetes of it prove him wrong. How could he prove these Islamist jihadists who willingly sacrifice their lives for the cause of Islam are not motivated by the injunctions of the Koran and Muhammad?

Mr. Iqbal is concerned that enforcing restrictions on mosque construction might anger further the Muslims living in infidel territories. This is precisely why the authorities of non-Islamic nations should be more strident in controlling mosque activities. These Islamists who take full advantage of the secular system of religious freedom, and with the help of oil money plan and construct mosques must be provided with a clear message that using mosques as a camouflage for jihad operations will not be tolerated. If they do not like this provision they are free to return to their Islamic countries from where they could do whatever they want to advance Islam. If they do not like these measures, and they want to propagate jihad missions using mosques in non-Islamic territories, they must be deported. If these Islamists are genuinely interested in the well being of their adopted non-Islamic country, why should they be upset when correct steps are taken to contain Islamist terrorism, to ensure peace, harmony and civil order?

Mr. Iqbal states: This also relates to recommendation #8, the strict control of proselytizing by Islamic "dawa." Once again, this would be illegal in a democratic society and if there would be strict control on Muslims, the same should apply to other religions.

I would ask Mr. Iqbal a simple question: why is it that only Islam has problem with the non-Islamic world? There are millions of Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais and other religious groups in non-Islamic countries. These groups have successfully adopted the non-Islamic countries as their own and have no problem living in peace and harmony. Why is Islam the exception? Why, wherever there is Islam there is violence, terror, intimidation and non-cooperation? Does not this speak about the inherent problem of Islam—the Koran strictly forbids the Muslims not to be friendly with the infidels. They must not assimilate or integrate, their main task, when they are in infidel territories, is to use all means available to defeat un-Islam, and declare the victory of Islam.

Under this circumstance why should the un-Islamic world treat Islam just as another religion? When Islam’s primary goal is to annihilate un-Islam why must we treat Islam as a doctrine of peace? Therefore, it is quite legitimate to strictly control the dawa movement just to protect the un-Islamic society.

Mr. Iqbal wrote: The reason some Muslims in the West are being radicalized is their sense of suffering from certain real or perceived grievances and finding it difficult to properly fit into conventional society.

How funny it is. What are those grievances? If the un-Islamic world is that bad and unfair, why did they come and settle in un-Islamic societies? The Koran and ahadith forbid Muslims not to settle in dar al-Harb. They may visit these countries only for trade/commerce purposes, even then their stay should not exceed more than four months. The exception is only when these Muslims venture to conduct jihad or to engage in war with the infidels. They then may remain in infidel territories until they conquer it and enforce Islam. Should not the un-Islamic world get the appropriate message from this Islamic rule?

It is obvious that those Islamists who whine and raise noise are plain trouble makers. Why is it that we do not hear such grievances from other communities/religious groups? When the Islamists indulge in such calculated move to foment unrest, is not then the duty of a responsible government to get rid of them, to protect the vast majority?

On this issue, I must congratulate Mr. Steve Emerson for elaborating the tactics of the Islamists using the pretexts of ‘grievances’. I also agree with his three types of jihadists who work in tandem to destroy un-Islam.

The truth is: there are no legitimate grievances. The Islamists only make alibis to justify their nefarious acts. If they are so concerned about Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir… why do they not return to their Islamic countries and join the mujahidin? I am certain when there will be no more issues on Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Islamists will still have grievances, they will complain even at the drop of hat; for example, when they are not provided with wudu facilities in Universities and/or public places.

Mr. Kruglanski is quite frightened that if some of my proposals are implemented the rage of the Muslims will be uncontrollable. This is just a defeatist attitude. A country must adopt policies to ensure that peace, harmony, and law and order of its citizens are assured. Why must the government please a minuscule minority just because they might be angry for adopting appropriate un-Islamic policies?

Mr. Robert Spencer has succinctly spoken what I wanted to say in rebutting Dr. Gunaratna, Mr. Iqbal, and Mr. Krugnaski. He has correctly identified the root cause of Islamist terrorism. I am glad that he, by and large, agrees with my proposals.

I have to reiterate: Muslims are the victims of Islam. They are infected with a deadly virus—the virus Islamic fascism. Al-Qaeda, terrorism, beheading, Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan are just peripheral. The problem is Islam—the Koran, the Sunna, the Sira, and Sharia. We need firm and decisive steps to defeat this fascistic doctrine. Similar harsh/strict measures adopted for the defeat of Nazism and Communism has worked very well; it will work to defeat Islam. Be firm against Islam, and see the result.

Gunaratna: Gentlemen: Let me respond point by point to the questions and comments you have raised.

1- In responding to the current wave of Al-Qaeda inspired, instigated or supported terrorism, it is essential to partner with the Muslim community. This is because the ideology of the terrorists has a very close connection to the religion, which is Islam in this case. Bits and pieces of the religious texts and scriptures have been manipulated and misused by the terrorists propagate their ideas, recruit more people to their fold and enhance their agenda. It is a misuse of the religion her, and hence it becomes a Muslim problem. The Muslim themselves need to come forward and respond to the distorted ideas, which in reality contradicts mainstream Islam.

2- Yes, jihad is part of the Islamic teachings. But it is incorrect to say that all schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to sugjugate the non-Muslims world through Jihad. Armed Jihad is just one part of the many kinds of Jihad that exist in Islam. Armed jihad can only be carried out in a legitimate battlefield and must be commanded by a hakim or Muslim leader. Islam does command jihad unless for a defensive cause, not in offense to kill or cause destruction.

3- Majority of the Muslims in the west, or even in the world are moderate. The term moderation has been used in today's context to refer to a Muslim who can live in a globalised world and at the same time become a religious, pious individual who adheres to the command of God. Being a moderate Muslim does mean that he reject the religion's teaching that Islam must subjugate the world under the rule of Islam. Even the Quran mention about moderation (wasatiyyah) commanding every Muslim to practise Islam in a moderate way.

4- Interfaith dialogue is vital and this will create a more peaceful co-existence in the community. In Islamic history, the Prophet himself promoted this concept of interfaith dialogue and he showed good examples by building a good relationship with the Jews and Christians in Medina during his period there. The Quran also highlights these elements of tolerance and co-existence. A Muslim who is in favour of interfaith dialogue rejects the notion that it is responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through Jihad. This is because the Qutran emphasizes that there is no compulsion in the religion.

5- Islam is a peaceful and moderate religion. This is something that has been widely known and spread across the globe long before 9/11 and since more than 1400 years ago. To bring back the beautiful image of Islam that has been badly tarnished by the terrorists, we need the voices of the Muslims who oppose the Jihadists. These moderate Muslims have the authority and accreditation to speak out against those who have propagated hatred against the non-Muslims and the Muslims. Yes, there is only one Islam, Islam that has been preached by Prophet Muhammad, but not Islam that has been propagated by the Jihadists. These individuals are religiously motivated, but through a corrupt interpretation of the religion.

6- It is totally wrong to say that the jihadists are doing exactly what the Quran says. Eminent scholars of Islam like Al-Jalalain, At-Tabari and Ibn Kathir did not teach about using violence and terror against the non-Muslims and Muslims in their interpretations of the Quran. Even in the contemporary Islamic world, many great ulema and leaders of Islam have actually came out with fatwas condemning Al-Qaeda like Hisham Kabbani, Syeikh Hamzah Yusuf, Abdul Hakim Murad, Syeikh Ali Al-Jiri, Syeikh Al-Azhar and many others. Fatwas on theses condemnation can also be found in Islamonline and fatwa bank.

FP: I guess Islam is a religion of peace because of how Muhammad led by example in his own personal life – like in terms of what he did to the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza. But I take it we should not take that massacre “out of context.”

Ayla Iqbal go ahead.

Iqbal: Let me quickly respond, as many of the same questions and debates have been repeatedly discussed in this symposium. Firstly, it is important to take note of the fact that there are upwards of 20 million Muslims who have peacefully co-existed in the West for several decades. There is, however, a small minority of them who are both very vocal, active and hold extreme views. Using this group to broadly define all Muslims would also be incorrect and is likely to bring about more unnecessary alienation.

By singling out the adherents of one faith, Islam, and imposing constraints on them through, for example, the restriction of mosques and requiring every Muslim to sign declarations before entering the country will create more tension and a clear sense of persecution and discrimination. The solution is not to stereotype every Muslim as an extremist, but to encourage the moderate Muslims to have a stronger voice. As stated before by Mr. Emerson, it is crucial to find those who are in favor of an Interfaith dialogue and are willing to correct the ideology that the radical Islamists are preaching.

One cannot assume that by sending the radicals back to their homeland, the issues of extremism in the West will dissipate. The world is highly interconnected and the relationship between non-Muslim and Muslim countries will continue as it has for centuries based on trade, commerce and other relations. We must work to understand and deal with those who hold extreme views based on the root causes and appropriate policies to marginalize their influence and impact.

FP: I am not so sure that the issue here is how we broadly define all Muslims; the issue is whether we are going to be honest or not about what Islam teaches and how we get Muslims to refute it.

Kruglanski: The lines between the discussants' positions are clearly drawn by now. There seem to exist two general issues about which we have disagreed: (1) Whether Islam is unique in its association with violence and intolerance, and (2) whether restrictions on mosques, or the imposition of specific requirements (the signing of declarations) on Muslim entrants into non-Islamic countries is likely in the long run to improve the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims or to cause them to deteriorate.

Some participants in the symposium (Spencer, Emerson and Kasem) stress the unique aspects of Islam -- including its goal to conquer the world by any means and the imposition of Sharia laws. The same participants are positively inclined with regard to the imposition of special restrictions on Muslims in non-Islamic countries. Other participants (Dr. Gunaratna, Mr. Iqbal and myself) stress the non-uniqueness aspects of Islam, the proven possibility of co-existence between Islam and the modern state, and the psychologically pernicious potential impact of special restrictions on Muslims.

As to the non-uniqueness of Islam, many ideological belief systems can be interpreted by an extremist fringe to contain intolerance, and animosity toward alternative belief systems and the condoning of extreme means as a way of securing and enforcing the domination of one's own belief systems over its perceived competitors. In fact, psychological research suggests that total and complete commitment to a belief system (any belief system) often fosters the acceptance of extreme means, unconstrained by social and humanitarian norms, perceived as the most direct and effective way of propagating the Truth one considers supreme. Whether it is a religious ideology like Christianity (recall the Holy Inquisition, or the Crusades) or a political ideology like Communism, or National Socialism, its extreme adherents have often perpetrated acts of violence and inhumanity toward fellow human beings, all in the name of one's cherished cause.

In the 20th century, for example, the vast majority of victims to ideologically based violence fell to Communism or Fascism and not to Islam.

It is also true that Islam can be interpreted in a moderate manner that allows it to co-exist with secularism and be tolerant to the adherents of other faiths. Thus, in the nineteenth century Muslim scholars made serious efforts to bridge the gap between Islam and the European enlightment. In India, it was scholars like Sayyid Ahmad Khan, and Sayyid Mumtaz Ali, in Egypt, el-Tahtawi, and al Afghani and in Iran, Muhammad Hussein Gharavi Na'ini, whose work aimed at reconciliation between Islam and modernism, including constitutionalism, women's rights, etc.

Finally, as concerns the proposed restrictions on Muslims in non-Islamic countries, the problem is that, twisting Newton's third Law of Motion, every force may elicit an counterforce of equal or greater magnitude. Unjust restrictions imposed on law abiding Muslims may create bitterness, frustration and the sense of injustice that could fuel extremism, hence promoting a self-fulfilling prophecy of those who fear Islamic extremism. For instance, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism can be traced to some extent to the oppression of religion and the anticlericalism exhibited by the liberal nationalism in early 20th century in Egypt and in Iran. Rather than reacting to extremism with extreme measures likely to backfire, it may be more advisable from the social psychological perspective to encourage in Islam forces of moderation peaceful co-existence, tolerance and interfaith dialogue. Such forces have existed in Islam, and it is important to strengthen them in the struggle against extremism and violence.

FP: I am not sure what a compliment it is to Islam that in the 20th century, “the vast majority of victims to ideologically based violence fell to Communism or Fascism and not to Islam.” Violence in the name of Islam has caused mass death, misery and suffering in every century. As the scholar Bill Warner has documented, the Holocaust that Islam has waged against non-Muslims for 1400 years has cost the lives of 270 million kafirs. The key point is that when Muslims do not have power, their ability to pursue jihad is limited. When they have power, it becomes easier (i.e. the mullahs in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, etc.) So if Islamists capture power in many nations in this century, as they hope to do, the victims that will fall to Islam may very easily surpass the victims that fell to communism and Fascism.

Spencer: Rohan Gunaratna is a Member of the Steering Committee of George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute, and is a Senior Fellow at Fletcher School for Law and Diplomacy's Jebsen Centre for Counter Terrorism Studies and Oklahoma’s Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. He is a litigation consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice. He is a former Senior Fellow at the United States Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point. He has testified before the 9/11 Commission, has debriefed high-level Al-Qaeda detainees, and has served as a counter terrorism instructor for all sorts of organizations, including the US Navy Seals, the Swiss Federal Police, the New York Police Department, and the Australian Federal Police. He is coauthor of a book entitled Countering Terrorism: Can We Meet the Threat of Global Violence?.

Given all this remarkable accomplishment, it is unfortunate and curious that there are so many lacunae in Gunaratna’s analysis about the Islamic ideology that forms the theoretical foundation and lays out the goals of today’s global jihad.

1. Mr. Gunaratna asserts that “it is incorrect to say that all schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to sugjugate [sic] the non-Muslims world through Jihad. Armed Jihad is just one part of the many kinds of Jihad that exist in Islam. Armed jihad can only be carried out in a legitimate battlefield and must be commanded by a hakim or Muslim leader. Islam does command jihad unless for a defensive cause, not in offense to kill or cause destruction.”

Mr. Gunaratna is correct: armed jihad is only one of many kinds of jihad. But to assert this does nothing whatsoever to refute the assertion that all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that the infidels must be subjugated through jihad. That subjugation need not be accomplished by force of arms. If it can be affected through stealthy, non-violent means, as is being attempted on a large scale in the West today, so much the better.

And all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence do teach this subjugation:

Shafi'i school: A Shafi'i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians...until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh ‘Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)...while remaining in their ancestral religions.” ('Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).

Of course, there is no caliph today, and upon this fact hinges the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes "obligatory for everyone" ('Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: 'Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until "the final descent of Jesus." After that, "nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus' descent" (o9.8).

Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”

However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)

Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”

Of course, these are all extremely old authorities -- such that one might reasonably assume that whatever they say couldn’t possibly still be the consensus of the Islamic mainstream. The laws of the United States have evolved considerably since the adoption of the Constitution, which itself has been amended. So why shouldn’t this be true of Islamic law as well? Many observers assume that it must be, and that contemporary jihadists' departure from mainstream Islam must be located in its preference for the writings of ancient jurists rather than modern ones. But in this, unfortunately, they fail to reckon with the implications of the closing of the gate of ijtihad.

Ijtihad is the process of arriving at a decision on a point of Islamic law through study of the Qur’an and Sunnah. From the beginning of Islam, the authoritative study of such sources was reserved to a select number of scholars who fulfilled certain qualifications, including a comprehensive knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as knowledge of the principle of analogical reasoning (qiyas) by which legal decisions are made; knowledge of the consensus (ijma) on any given question of Muhammad, his closest companions, and the scholars of the past; and more, including living a blameless life. The founders of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence are among the small number of scholars -- mujtahedin -- thus qualified to perform ijithad. But they all lived very long ago; for many centuries, independent study of the Qur’an and Sunnah has been discouraged among Muslims, who are instead expected to adhere to the rulings of one of those established schools. Since the death of Ahmed ibn Hanbal, from whom the Hanbali school takes its name, in 855 A.D., no one has been recognized by the Sunni Muslim community as a mujtahid of the first class -- that is, someone who is qualified to originate legislation of his own, based on the Qur’an and Sunnah but not upon the findings of earlier mujtahedin.

Islamic scholar Cyril Glasse notes that “‘the door of ijtihad is closed’ as of some nine hundred years, and since then the tendency of jurisprudence (fiqh) has been to produce only commentaries upon commentaries and marginalia.”

Meanwhile, in saying that “armed jihad can only be carried out in a legitimate battlefield and must be commanded by a hakim or Muslim leader,” and that “Islam does command jihad unless for a defensive cause, not in offense to kill or cause destruction,” Mr. Gunaratna is confusing several distinctions that are made in the Islamic theology of jihad. It is true that offensive jihad – which he denies even exists – can only be called by the caliph as leader of the Muslims, but defensive jihad, as we have seen, becomes fard ayn, or personally incumbent upon every individual Muslim to participate in somehow, when a Muslim land is attacked.

As for Mr. Gunaratna’s claim that jihad can only be defensive, it is contradicted by numerous Islamic authorities. I already explained above that in his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, the earliest such biography, Ibn Ishaq explains that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya – the tax specified in Qur'an 9:29 for Jews, Christians, and other “People of the Book.” Mainstream Islamic commentators on the Qur’an including Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that the teachings on offensive jihad abrogate every peace treaty in the Qur'an. For Mr. Gunaratna simply to assert in the face of this evidence that jihad can only be defensive is not persuasive.

2. Mr. Gunaratna asserts that “eminent scholars of Islam like Al-Jalalain, At-Tabari and Ibn Kathir did not teach about using violence and terror against the non-Muslims and Muslims in their interpretations of the Quran.” Unfortunately, this is flatly false:

The Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a highly influential commentary on the Qur’an, says in its exposition of Qur’an 9:29 that Muslims must fight against those who “follow not the Religion of Truth,” for Islam “is firm and abrogates other deens [religions].”

Ibn Kathir explains about the same verse: “This honorable Ayah [verse] was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book…Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination.” As the Romans had not attacked the Muslims, apparently Muhammad himself did not believe that jihad was solely defensive.

And Tabari? He quotes an early Muslim: “We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in the Cause of Allah. Killing him is a small matter to us.” He registers no disapproval of these ideas.

3. Mr. Gunaratna claims that the “majority of the Muslims in the west, or even in the world are moderate….Being a moderate Muslim does mean that he reject the religion's teaching that Islam must subjugate the world under the rule of Islam.”

While it is obvious that there are millions of Muslims who are not fighting jihad in any way today, there is no evidence that they actually reject the supremacist teachings of Islam – and tellingly, Mr. Gunaratna offers no evidence to support his claim.

4. There is a bitter irony to Mr. Gunaratna’s claim that Muhammad “promoted this concept of interfaith dialogue and he showed good examples by building a good relationship with the Jews and Christians in Medina during his period there.” In reality, according to the earliest Islamic sources he exiled two of the three Jewish tribes of Medina and massacred the third. Here again, Mr. Gunaratna offers no evidence at all for his claim that “a Muslim who is in favour of interfaith dialogue rejects the notion that it is responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslim world through Jihad,” and invokes the fact that “the Qutran [sic] emphasizes that there is no compulsion in the religion” as if this lone Qur’anic phrase itself abrogated the book’s many exhortations of hatred for and warfare against unbelievers. Unfortunately, that has never been the position of any school of Islamic jurisprudence.

The problem is not, as Ayla Iqbal claims, that anyone is in danger of “broadly defin[ing] all Muslims.” No one is doing that except in the febrile imaginations of Western apologists for jihad and their useful idiots. Much more present is the danger that we will ignore or downplay the jihad threat out of wishful thinking and ignorance, and deceiving ourselves into believing that we are facing a tiny minority that has twisted and hijacked Islam while the broad majority of Muslims support Western pluralism and the idea of peaceful coexistence with unbelievers as equals on an indefinite basis. While all Muslims are indeed not involved with the jihad, the problem is much more deeply rooted and broader in scope than Mr. Gunaratna apparently realizes; I earnestly hope that he will study these matters closely and begin to provide to his many high-placed and influential students a more realistic and comprehensive picture of what is popularly known as the terror threat.

As for Mr. Kruglanski, it is unfortunate that he, like so many others, invokes the Crusades and Inquisitions, as if the existence of these historical facts somehow mitigates the reality of Islamic jihad activity today, or frees us from the responsibility of confronting its religious aspects. The reality is that the jihadists are recruiting and justifying their actions by reference to core tenets of Islamic theology and law. The longer we ignore this or pretend that it is not happening or is unimportant, the longer this recruitment will continue without any kind of response being mounted against it at all.

FP: Abul Kasem, Steve Emerson, Robert Spencer, Ayla Iqbal, Rohan Gunaratna and Ari Kruglanski, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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