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The theme of The Great Divide is that the populations of the democratic world, from Boston to Berlin, Vancouver to Venice, are becoming increasingly divided from within, due to a growing ideological incompatibility between modern liberalism and conservatism. This is partly due to a complex mutation in the concept of liberal democracy itself, and the resulting divide is now so wide that those holding to either philosophy on a whole range of topics: on democracy, on reason, on abortion, on human nature, on homosexuality and gay marriage, on freedom, on the role of courts … and much more, can barely speak with each other without outrage (the favorite emotional response from all sides). Clearly, civil conversation at the surface has been failing -- and that could mean democracy is failing.

This book is an effort to deepen the conversation. It is written for the non-specialist, and aims to reveal the less obvious underlying ideological forces and misconceptions that cause the conflict and outrage at the surface -- not with any expectation the clash of values will evaporate, but rather that a deeper understanding will generate a more intelligent and civil conversation.

As an aid to understanding, the book contains a handful of Tables directly comparing modern liberal and conservative views across a range of fundamental moral and political “issues” so that curious readers can answer the book’s main question: “Where Do You Stand?” An interesting result in testing this exercise has been the number of people who find they “think” one way, but “live” another.    

 

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Essays (37)
« How To Fix the Multiculturalism/Immigration Problem | Main | Islam in the West: Some Demographic Facts »
Wednesday
Mar152017

What Kind of Islam Is It?

 "[Jihadists] say that they are committed to the destruction of the entire secular world because they believe this is a necessary first step to create an Islamic utopia on earth."

~ Professor Mary Habeck, School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University, from Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror[1] 

    

            An Environics poll of February 2007 gave this result: about 80% of Canada’s Muslims said they were satisfied with their new life in Canada, and 73% of them thought the 9/11 terrorist attacks were completely unjustified. But more sinister responses in the poll were buried. Namely, the fact that an alarming 12% of Canadian Muslims questioned in this poll thought the planned attacks for which “the Toronto 18” were arrested, were justified  (Licia Corbella, Calgary Sun, February 18, 2007).[2] In other words, by extrapolation, we may have anywhere from 50,000 to 85,000 Canadian Muslims who believe that blowing up our Parliament buildings (presumably with all MPs inside) and beheading the Canadian prime minister, is a great idea. They have lots of European company. Immediately after the 9/11 attack there was much Muslim dancing and cheering in Belgium and England. In Holland Contrast magazine found that 50 percent of Dutch Muslims were “in complete sympathy” with the attacks.[3] On the second “anniversary” of the 9/11 attack, radical British Muslims put up posters honouring the terrorists as “the Magnificent 19.” Who are these people? Why was there no public outcry?

 

Why Are We the Enemy?

          The brand of Islam we ought to fear most, the one that is at the root of modern Islamic terrorism, is called Wahhabism. It is at the root of modern jihadism (a term that originally referred to personal spiritual struggle, but which for radicals now also means struggle against all non-believers: us). Wahhabism is the spiritual foundation of Al Qaeda.  

          Its main radical theorists, ancient and modern, have been three. Ibn Taymiyah (1263-1328), who told his followers, “prescribed to you is fighting;” Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), who advocated “Jihad and the rifle alone. No negotiations, no conferences, and no dialogue;” and Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the most cited, and most influential, who declared “It is the duty of Islam to annihilate all other systems.” Like Azzam, Qutb advocated global domination by Islam. All these theorist are united in the singular view that the decline of Islam is not due to the internal weaknesses of the faith, but “is the deliberate policy of an external religious enemy whom jihadis can –and do – blame for all the evils suffered by Muslims around the world.”[4] Hence, the term “blame culture.”

          Wahhabi Muslims (same for the West’s Reformation Christians) have been encouraged “to think for themselves,” and to reject the accumulated wisdom of Islam handed down by their clerics, and to favour instead a jihadist interpretation of Islamic teachings (the hadith) and of the Qur’an, and to disregard those parts that preach tolerance and peace, and ignore the peaceful Islamic mystics.[5] Their underlying conviction is that true human liberation comes from serving God alone, and that all man-made institutions rooted in beliefs such as democratic sovereignty and materialism are false beliefs that entrap and enslave us. Men must be slaves to God, but never to each other, or to false beliefs. For this reason, “jihadis today have made a critique of democracy the centerpiece of their ideology.”[6] Democracy is false because it teaches that we can arrive at truth by voting, whereas only God knows the truth. So we must strive to know and obey only God’s will. Democratic voting enslaves us to false human truth by majority rule and through a secularizing process of spiritual disarmament. Hence, all secular regimes must be either converted, or ended.  “Islamism,” a term created by the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, describes the belief that Islam is “the complete, obligatory, and virtually non-negotiable guide to human existence,”[7] the foundation for which is Shari’a law. For radical Islamists, this means ending even Islamic regimes that are not truly Islamic: estimates are that 100,000 moderate Muslims have been slain by militant Islamists aiming for control of Algeria. It is a pattern repeated in many Muslim nations oppressed by their own radicals. Less than purely Islamic regimes are considered despicable “jahiliyya” – places of darkness and ignorance. They complain of modern Christians and Jews that once they secularized, they banished religion from public life and in so doing “destroyed the only source of ethics and morality, and therefore have no aim in life except to seek benefit and enjoyment.”[8]  So for true believers, the United States and the West (yes, Canada too) are regimes of darkness, modern jahiliyya. To see this belief in action in Canada, go to the website of The Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, which has an important office in Toronto, and which “publicly supports armed struggle against the unbelievers.”[9] Follow the threads. Although Wahhabist radical thinking has not found deep support in the world’s wider Muslim movements, it nevertheless exists as a powerful force devoted to the use of terrorism both within and against the West to achieve its utopia. After 9/11, Swiss police raided the Lugano, Switzerland home of a key Muslim Brotherhood organizer, Youseff Nada, and found a 14-page manifesto entitled “The Project,” written in Arabic in 1982 by Wahhabi luminaries. It outlines a twelve-point strategy to “establish an Islamic government on earth.”    

 

 


[1] Mary Habeck, Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror (New Haven, Conn,: Yale University Press, 2006), p. 7

[2] As reported in Daniel Stoffman, “Truths and Myths About Immigration,” in Immigration Policy and the Terrorist Threat (Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 2008), p.14. The papers in this volume were gathered from a conference on Terrorism held in Toronto, June 2007.

[3] Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (New York: Doubleday, 2009), p.256.

[4] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p.12. Habeck explains that all Jihadists share five understandings: Islam is the one true faith that will dominate the world; Muslim rulers must govern by the Shari’a alone; that their Holy Books contain the whole truth for living a righteous life; that there can be no separation between religion and life; and … that all true Muslims are in a State of conflict with unbelievers (p.17). 

[5] On this note, a man I assume was my forbear, William Henry Temple Gairdner (1873-1928) a former British Anglican Canon of Cairo (referred to by his followers as “Temple Gairdner of Cairo” – which is also the title of the moving biography of his life by his secretary, Constance Padwick), published a then very successful book The Reproach of Islam (London: Church Missionary Society, 1909). That book sold over 20,000 copies, and was devoted to describing the contrast between Christianity and Islam. Gairdner’s main thesis was that Christianity had failed to do its job, and so Islam arose to fill the spiritual vacuum. He was also the founder of a very long-lived journal, “Occident and Orient,” which attempted to bring the two worlds together.

[6] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p.72.

[7] Andrew McCarthy, “Islam and the Left,” in The New Criterion, January, 2010, p.18.

[8] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, p. 72

[9] Habeck, Knowing the Enemy, note 31, p.193.

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