Frontpage Interview’s guest today is M. A. Khan, author of the new book Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery. In November 2005, he started the Islam-watch.org website, which is emerging as a leading ex-Muslim initiative for the enlightenment of Muslims.
FP: M. A. Khan, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Let’s begin with your own personal journey. Tell us where you were born and your early life as a Muslim.
Khan: Thank you Jamie; I am delighted to be here.
I was born and brought up in a conservative Muslim society. Having completed my university studies in India, I moved to the West.
I, however, grew up with a liberal outlook. In my school and university days, my closest friends were Hindus and Sikhs, who were more liberal, easy-going and humble with fewer religious scruples. I had wholly given up religious rituals by the time I completed my university studies: they just didn’t attract me.
At the time of the tragic 9/11 attacks, I had lived in a liberal society for over a decade. I had become convinced that religious rituals—prayers, fasting, pilgrimage—were all meaningless. I should be rewarded, I felt, for working hard, working intelligently, not for blindly following some rituals, which bear no good to anybody. Islam had very little to do with my life, except that I was part of the Muslim society. I consumed haraam (prohibited) foods, drank alcohol in moderation, shocking my Muslim peers.
Although I was this much liberal, let me be honest with you that I was not excluded from those Muslims who felt that the 9/11 attacks were justified. I, however, felt that those perished in the attacks were innocent; they didn’t deserve it.
FP: Why did you think that the U.S. deserved it?
Khan: It would surprise everybody that someone, whose life was little influenced by Islam, can feel this way. Why is it so? It is because Muslim societies universally portray America as a mortal enemy of Islam, particularly for its stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The picture painted is that America’s support for Israel causes terrible oppression and untold sufferings to Palestinian Muslims. So, in the eyes of many Muslims, the 9/11 attacks gave the unjust superpower a bloody nose.
You hear from the media that only a small percentage of Muslims, the radicalized ones, support the 9/11 attacks. I can assure you that an overwhelming majority of believing Muslims feel a sense of justification for the 9/11 attacks. However, very few of them will confess it, especially when Western media do the survey.
I was, undoubtedly, very liberal, despite my upbringing in Muslim society. Never read the sacred Islamic texts, I thought Islam was a rational and peaceful religion, glaringly disregarding all the horrible things Muslim were doing globally. I thought those terrorists, acting in the name of Islam, were misguided.
FP: So how did you begin to change?
Khan: Prompted by so much scrutiny of Islam after the 9/11 attacks, I slowly started reading Islam’s sacred texts—the Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad’s traditions (Sunnah) and biographies. I was shocked. I had been told all my life that the Prophet Muhammad was the ideal human being: most merciful and just; that Islam is a religion of peace; and I believed it. But the Qur’an reads like a manifesto of open-ended war against non-Muslims and speaks of converting or subjugating them into horribly degraded dhimmi subjects.
In his prophetic career, especially during the critical last ten years, Prophet Muhammad was anything but peaceful, merciful and just. It was a depressing, torturous time lasting a couple of years. For a Muslim of whatsoever conviction, consciously leaving Islam is probably the most difficult thing. I made it. You may get a clear picture of my struggle from my testimony of leaving Islam.
FP: So tell us about your book.
Khan: I liberated myself from Islam after studying some of the canonical Islamic texts. But I couldn’t stop; my curiosity grew further. Over the past few years, I have done extensive research on Islamic theology, as well as history: from Prophet Muhammad to modern times. The more I read, the more I became shocked. It has been a harrowing tale of inhuman brutality of innocent people: forced conversion, brutal imperialism and devastating slavery. It’s a saga of great human tragedy and all these were perpetrated by Muslim invaders and rulers over the centuries in the name of Islamic holy war or Jihad, the foundational creed of Islam. This tragic tale is the subject of my new book.
Let me highlight the content of the book a little for the reader’s better understanding of what to expect. From the title, it becomes clear that it is about Jihad and its history, a common topic these days. But readers will find this book interesting and even essential for making a complete grasp of the issue, even if they have already read dozens of books on the subject.
What I have done is that I have tried to walk step-to-step with Prophet Muhammad. When people read this book, they will able to mirror how Muhammad, step by step, founded his creed. Most importantly, it will become transparent to them why Allah started showering down the commands for Jihad after 12 years of his prophetic mission had passed. It will become crystal-clear why Allah suddenly commanded Jihad at that juncture, what those commands were and what it entails for a Muslim to become a Jihadi.
There is much controversy and disagreements about the true nature of Jihad. This book will make it immediately clear to readers that Jihad is overridingly, if not absolutely, violent and inhuman by nature. This book also makes it thoroughly transparent that Jihad, in its violent form, is the foundation, the heart, of Islam as I assert: “Violent Jihad is the heart of Islam; without it, Islam would, most likely, have died a natural death in the seventh century itself” (p. 79).
I also demonstrate that Allah’s doctrine for Jihad entails three cardinal commands:
1) Forced conversion of non-Muslims, especially of idolaters (Hindus, Buddhists, Animists etc.),
2) Imperial expansion for the establishment of global Islamic rule, which involves humiliating subjugation of dhimmi subjects and their mindless exploitation, and
Each of these topics has been discussed in separate chapters, beginning with how Allah commanded these as part of Jihad; how Muhammad acted upon those commands to set forth ideal examples of them; and how Muslims perpetuated those ideal Jihadi actions over the centuries.
This book is packed with theological and historical information on all these topics from India to Central Asia, to the Middle East, to Africa, to Europe. It is filled with shocking, harrowing, tales. It also details how even the United States had to struggle with the enslavement of her ship-crews in North Africa, how they had to pay humiliating ransom, and how, as demands continued to rise, they bravely solved the issue with military actions. Therefore, people from all these regions will quickly be able to relate to the content and realize how horribly Islam had impacted the lives of their forefathers.
FP: What do you hope your book will achieve?
Khan: I consider myself a nontheistic humanist from a Muslim background; I believe in living in harmony with all around us, irrespective of creed, race or color. Unfortunately, Muslims have historically failed to do so; they continue to fail today. This fact will become glaringly clear to all, when they read this book.
My sincere hope is that Muslims, a community in which I have lived 35 years of my life (all family and friends continue to be Muslim), will be able to live in harmony with their non-Muslim neighbors with total human rights guaranteed for either party. Unfortunately, the treatment of non-Muslims in Islamic countries is less than honorable and getting worse. Once my Muslim brethren read this book, I feel, the whole reality of Islam upon their lives, upon their ancestors’ life and upon their future generations would become clear to them. And it will not be a pleasant one.
Obviously, most part of the world today is mired by the problem of Islamic Jihadism. Since the 9/11 attacks, there have been no less than 12,800 violent attacks by Muslim individuals, mobs and Jihadi groups around the globe. I would sincerely hope that my book help the world grasp the nature of the ongoing Jihadi problem and act accordingly to assuage this malaise. My target-readers, first and foremost, are Muslims. I firmly believe that this book will rouse a deep sense of remorse amongst Muslims concerning how horribly Islam impacted their ancestors’ life. They suffered shocking, heart-breaking, atrocities. Muslim societies are loaded with misinformation that Islam brought liberation from existing tyranny and oppression to their ancestors. They will find this notion totally groundless; instead, they will be convinced that Islam undoubtedly brought all these horrors to their forefathers.
Muslims also universally believe that their religion and society have always been free from the horrors of forced conversion, imperialism and slavery; there is no place, they claim, for such abominations in Islam. They believe that only Christians perpetrated such horrors around the world, from India to the Americas; they are vociferous in condemning the West over this. But after reading this book, they will realize that it is Muslims, who were the master of forced conversion, imperialism and slavery in the most shocking forms since Islam’s birth. The European Christians had also become the sustained victims of these Islamic brutalities for many centuries before they themselves embarked upon these practices. Muslims were, indeed, the masters to teach Europeans all these horrible things.
FP: You also touch on the Sufis and some myths about them.
Khan: This book will also shatter the most firmly established belief amongst Muslims as well as non-Muslims that Islam was propagated peacefully by Sufis and that force was never a part of the propagation of Islam particularly in Southeast Asia, and Central and East Africa. I have made it clear with solid documentation from authentic sources that Sufis were mostly violent Jihadis. Those, who engaged in conversion, did so through the instrument of violence. Some Sufis were peaceful, but they never played a significant role in conversion. Similarly, Islam’s spread in Southeast Asia was anything but peaceful. Legendary Muslim traveler and Sufi devotee Ibn Battutah records of brutal Jihadi excursion against non-Muslims in Samudra (Indonesia) in the 1340s. Southeast Asian Muslims would be shocked to find out how Islam was imposed upon their forefathers. Similar was the case in Central and East Africa.
On the whole, I hope this book will have significant humanizing impact upon Muslims. Indeed, if they read it carefully, it will become crystal-clear to them that Islam was created by Muhammad as an imperialist movement to conquer the world disguised as a religion, and that, at its core, it is fraudulent, brutal, inhuman and worthy of little respect. I feel that after reading this book, a majority of them would feel the urge of leaving this creed and become part of peaceful humanity.
FP: And how about the book as it relates to non-Muslim readers?
Khan: This book is equally important, indeed more important, for non-Muslims. While realizing how horribly Islam had affected the lives of their forefathers (they suffered more), they will also realize that Islam is here not to leave them and their future generations alone.
This book will convinced them that Jihad, created as an eternal command of Allah, will undoubtedly remain that way for a long time to come. Jihad’s ultimate aim is to take over the world by instituting the Qur’an and prophetic traditions as the sole constitution and sources of law. Let me emphasize—which readers will readily understand upon reading this book—that Islam is most comfortably placed than ever to accomplish this ultimate goal. One only has to ponder the fact that just one man, Muhammad, took up Allah’s command of Jihad in 622 CE; and through all kinds of tricks, he convinced his rather unwilling 200 or so disciples (yes, they were unwilling; I have made it crystal-clear in the book) to take upon the profession.
And see the result: some 1.4 billion—about a quarter of the world-population—today are Muslims and growing fast. They are increasingly warming up to their sacred duty of Jihad, which Allah has made binding upon them (Quran 2:216). Just think about the outcome of a Jihadi charge, even if taken up by a small fraction of today’s Muslims, against non-Muslim humanity. Muslims are obviously showing increasing willingness to go the Jihadi way to finish off the 14-century-old battle of conquering the world.
However, even if they shun the violent way, they will do the same by demographic change. Muslims in Britain are growing ten times faster than the rest. At about 3.5% of the total population, a greater majority of British Muslims are in favor of establishing Sharia laws in the UK than those opposed to it. What will be the religious demographics in the UK, say in the year 2050, and what will be the law of the land? Sharia is horrible for non-Muslims as well as Muslim women; its criminal codes are barbaric: stoning, cutting of hands and feet and more.
Moreover, as soon as Muslims constitute a critical-mass of the population, there will most likely be a civil-war-like situation in Western countries. Indeed, such as situation is already active in Muslim dominated Paris suburbs; non-Muslims dare not enter Muslim ghettos in Sweden. Most of all, I urge my Western brethren to take a glance all over the Muslim world, which may become the scene in the heart of Europe before this century has passed.
This book must be read by all, Muslim or non-Muslim. This increasingly solidifying, and potentially devastating, Jihadi scourge is aggressively waged by Muslims; they can end it peacefully. If Muslims read this book, they will find little inspiration to fight for advancing Islam.
Non-Muslims must read this book to secure a peaceful, progressive and just society for their generation and their offspring’s. The fact is: Muslims rarely read books. And given the fact that, since the 9/11 attacks, Muslims have grown more hostile than conciliatory, more and more radical, shows that no solution will come from their side; they will only intensify the conflict.
Therefore, it will, undoubtedly, be the responsibility of non-Muslims to tackle the conflict and secure the future of their children and grandchildren; they are the ones who have most to lose. Leaders and politicians must read this book to grasp the depth of the precipitating Islamic troubles around the world and devise effective measures to tackle it.
Ordinary citizens must read this book to understand the same and pressurize their leaders to put effective measures in place to secure the liberal, tolerant and progressive future of the secular-democratic world. If not, a lasting dark-age will descend globally in a couple of generations.
Readers may have a look at the content as well as initial assessment of the book from readers, including some well-known authors and academics, here.
FP: M. A. Khan, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.