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Rooted Causes By: David Solway
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, December 12, 2008


The extraordinary concessions that governments, NGOs and the media extend toward the Islamic fact may be a sign of the unwillingness to accept that the treasured policy of multiculturalism has been a resounding failure. For one thing, the self-perpetuating bureaucracies set up to administer the various multicultural programs that have been put in place cannot easily be dissolved—a bureaucracy is forever. For another, too many official careers and invested egos stand to be discredited. It is difficult to admit that the principles and values one has lived and thought and endorsed throughout an entire career are mistaken. The temptation is to keep pouring good money after bad in an effort to keep one’s conscience out of Chapter 11 or subsidize one’s faltering pride.

The public at large is perhaps somewhat more skeptical, especially among those who have experienced work-related displacement or who resent footing the swollen tax bill for expanded immigrant welfare programs that are often frankly abused, but a consensus is still lacking. This is regrettable. For the longer it takes for people to catch on to the rooted cause of our predicament—the so-called “root causes” are merely the severed twigs and brush of a camouflage operation—the longer we will continue to suffer and the longer it will take us to rally the will to fight back, whether against escalating civic infiltration or acts of raw terror. Multiculturalism at home, soft diplomacy abroad: the end result is the same.

As H.J. Simson argues in his little-known but invaluable 1937 British Rule, and Rebellion, with particular regard to the Palestinian Arab insurrection of 1936, we spend too much time inquiring into “root causes”—the first instance of this now-popular phrase I am familiar with—and too little on the quelling of violence, which he calls a “policy of glossing things over.” The penchant for root cause thinking, writes Martin Amis in a lengthy piece for The Observer for September 10, 2006, entitled “The Age of Horrorism,” is only a form of “dissonant evasion,” “rationalist naivete” and nothing short of a “disgrace,” which we must put behind us. “It is time to move on. We are not dealing in reasons because we are not dealing in reason.” On the contrary, we are dealing with “a cult of death” and “an enemy that wants its war to last for ever”—a war that originates in the Islamic rejection of all non-Islamic sovereignties as legitimate.

Similarly, Nick Cohen, the author of What’s Left, tells us that “root causes” only take you to the edge of understanding “and leave you peering into an unfathomable abyss.” The notion of the “root causes” of Islamic fundamentalism serves only as a distraction from the real issue and will do nothing to dampen the fervour of a messianic political theology or gentle the rage of the purebred jihadist. The last word belongs to Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who wrote that in the Islamic tradition Jihad is “against all those who do not embrace Islam…Know then that death is inevitable…If you suffer it in the way of God, it will be your profit in this world, and your reward in the next.” This is as close to a “root cause” as we can get.

Which has not prevented influential figures like John Walsh, a Senior Editor at the Harvard International Review, from defining the Muslim Brotherhood as “centrist Islam,” lauding it for its “civic successes” and “evolving social network,” referring to its members as “the moderates,” and concluding that the “evidence does not support the suggestion that the Brotherhood’s democratic and nonviolent tendencies are a façade.” Walsh, who seems unaware that al-Qaeda is an offshoot of the Brotherhood, has no problem condoning its goal of establishing the rule of shari’a or fudging the distinction between “Islamist” and “Islamist radical” (Vol. 24 [4]).

In the same way, academics like Joshua Stacher, a History lecturer at the American University in Cairo and Samer Shehata of Georgetown University, pen a joint article in the Boston Globe (March 5, 2007) spanking the United States for “refus[ing] to deal with the Brotherhood,” asserting that the Brotherhood, as “a mainstream nonviolent organization that has operated responsibly…for decades,” is “committed to peaceful political participation,” and closing their promo with the unbelievable conviction that “there is no more important moderate Islamist group in the region.” No mention, of course, of the Brotherhood’s emblem, a Koran with crossed swords, or of the interview reported by the Middle East Research Institute (Memri) in which Muhammad Mahdi Akef, the organization’s General Guide, affirmed that “the movement supports martyrdom operations in Palestine and Iraq in order to expel the Zionists and the Americans.”

Our Western glossators would be well advised to heed a precursor declaration issued by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, England in 1982, stipulating that the Islamic movement is “an organized struggle to change the existing society into an an Islamic society [and to] make Islam..supreme and dominant, especially in the socio-political spheres.” From there, our Islamic character witnesses can move on to the study of the Muslim Brotherhood’s 1991 memorandum, The General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America, which proposed a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” and stated that Muslims “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house.” Washington D.C. Imam Abdul Alim Musa, prophesies on his website that an Islamic State of North America will exist by 2050. In order to bring this about, the Brotherhood recommends different modalities of action: violence where effective, infiltration where appropriate.

In the first case, one need only consult well-attested reports of a document called “The Project,” discovered in the home of Yousef Nada, director of the Al-Taqwa Bank in Lugano, Switzerland, which recommended a revival of terrorist activities and announced the 1987 creation of Hamas. A new book by Azzam Tamini, a London-based member of the Muslim Brotherhood, entitled Hamas: A History, is replete with pertinent details showing the connection between the Brotherhood and Hamas. Indeed, Hamas was once known as the Gaza Branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the second case, the Brotherhood has become expert at what we might call a new variety of ideological phishing, hacking into the majority culture with a view to gaining control of its “operating programs.” Here it does not state its goals openly, practising the time-honoured strategy of Taqiyyah, deriving from Koranic surahs 16:106 and 3:28; that is, the dissimulation of one’s true beliefs and convictions in times of peril. What constitutes a time of peril clearly allows for considerable latitude of interpretation.

But these groups can also be refreshingly explicit. A rude shock would await our sibling observers were they to read the Guide to Voting in Islam posted on the website of the Muslim Association of Britain in which one contributor claims that he has “no doubt that democracy is antithetical to Islam” and another considers “Muslim political participation, especially in a non-Muslim country, as a form of jihad.” Needless to say, the MAB’s Guide owes much to the Brotherhood’s position on voting and its intent to triumph via the ballot. The recent election of Hammam Saeed as leader of the Jordanian wing of the Brotherhood is not a local incident but a dead giveaway of its “fundamentalist” nature; Saeed is a hardline advocate of the shari’a, rejects liberalization in Arab countries and opposes diplomatic ties with Israel.

According to Syrian revolutionary thinker Said Hawwa and his followers, jihad may come in many flavours: by heart, by word and by hand, a tripartite distinction derived from a notable hadith. The jihad of the heart is an ambiguous formulation: it can mean self-discipline or the passion and steadfastness applied to waging war. The jihad of the hand is the most conspicuous in virtue of its immediate destructiveness. But the jihad of the word—of education, propaganda and infiltration—is perhaps even more menacing since it operates virally, as it were, infecting the organs of the open society with a view to its gradual demise.

The Brotherhood understands this very well, as evidenced by its affiliated organizations, such as the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Association for Palestine, the Muslim Students Association, the Islamic Circle of North America and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (the latter now being probed by the US government on suspicion of funding terror), among twenty-four other such groups—groups which have intimately soldered themselves into the political circuits of North American society. The Muslim American Society, whose magazine the American Muslim published a fatwa condoning suicide bombings (June 2002), is the brainchild of the Brotherhood; and the Society’s Freedom Foundation director, Mahdi Bray, visited Egypt in January 2008 in support of Brotherhood members facing a military tribunal. Further, the Brotherhood’s website explicitly rejects the interpretation of jihad “in an apologetic way that stresses only the dimension of individual self-discipline.”

The sequence of events as envisaged by Muslim organizations, whether “peaceful” or militant, is codified in Islamic tradition, based on the Koran and the example of Mohammed and formulated by the 11th century Islamic jurist Abu Ali al-Mawardi in his celebrated treatise The Laws of Islamic Governance. Mawardi devotes many of his pages to the licit way of dealing with the mushrikun, that is, polytheists, pagans, conspirators, opposers of Islam, as sourced in Koran 9:1-16. “It is forbidden,” counsels Mawardi, “to begin an attack before explaining the invitation of Islam to them…if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them.”

This is the Islamic principle known as da’wa, a form of proselytizing and social networking, expressed as a “call” or an “invitation,” which functions today as a “soft jihad.” In the contemporary social framework, such “explaining” proceeds through the medium of interest-group organizations, propaganda campaigns, voting patterns, university incursions, conversion efforts, attempts to rehabilitate the image of Mohammed and to whitewash the nature of the Faith, and media lobbying, in other words, infiltration. When critical mass is reached, shari’a is imposed in local communities and spreads outward from there. The next step is threat and intimidation, and, where necessary or feasible, violence. We have already seen this process at work, albeit in a compressed or fractal manner.

The oft-repeated hoodoo that Islam is a “religion of peace” disguises the fact that Islamic peace is predicated upon Islamic conquest. What Tacitus in his Agricola said of the Romans applies equally to Islam: “To robbery, butchery, and rapine, they give the lying name of ‘government’; they make a desolation and they call it peace.” In the Islamic worldview, only when the Caliphate is restored will peace, presumably, descend upon the world. Caveat emptor!

None of this troubles the mitigating conscience as, once again, we are introduced to that phantom apparition, the “moderate Islamist.” Thus Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor and author of The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, contributes a long article to the New York Times (March 16, 2008) defending Islamism and depicting the shari’a as a legal/divine instrument able to “structure a constitutional state subject to the rule of law.” For Feldman, the effort to install shari’a into the public life of the West is a “bold and noble” one.

It should be clear to us by this time that there is no “root cause” to explain Islamic disaffection. There is, rather, a rooted cause, which is to be found in the Koran, the hadith, much Islamic philosophy and today in organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood. The rooted cause is the time-validated desire for eventual takeover, precisely as Ottoman thinker Said Nursi prophesied nearly a century ago, in his famous Damascus Sermon, that “Europe and America are pregnant with Islam. One day they will give birth to an Islamic state.” Yet intellectuals and academics all over the Western world do their utmost to facilitate the Islamic project.

Perhaps what we are now observing is only an ideological displacement of the economic law of supply and demand. For it seems that the supply of “useful idiots” in the West gives no sign of diminishing, corresponding as it does to the demand for such commodities in the Islamic world.


David Solway is the award-winning author of over twenty-five books of poetry, criticism, educational theory, and travel. He is a contributor to magazines as varied as the Atlantic, the Sewanee Review, Books in Canada, and the Partisan Review. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity. A new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, will be released by CanadianValuesPress this fall.


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