Is Islam Itself the Enemy?

 

Thank you, Confucius the OEV, for pointing out this lucid piece by Ron Radosh. He sums up the key question prompted by the GZM debate:

An important issue is now emerging in the conservative constituency. It boils down to the following: Is Islam itself our enemy, and should Americans work to oppose Islam throughout the world; or, is it only radical Islam, what Christopher Hitchens calls Islamofascism and others call Islamism, the enemy we must oppose?

He provides a tour of the opinions, overt or implied, of politicians and prominent observers who have weighed in on the issue since September 11. He notes:

One must also heed what Daniel Pipes wrote some years back, that the real problem is identifying correctly who is and who is not a moderate Muslim. Imam Rauf may not turn out to be one—but that does not mean that moderate Muslims who actively seek influence are not real moderates. “With time,” Pipes wrote, individual Muslims are finding their voice to condemn Islamist connections to terrorism.” He presents many examples which must not be overlooked; yet he too warns that “There are lots of fake-moderates parading about, and they can be difficult to identify, even for someone like me who devotes much attention to this to this topic.” If it is difficult for Pipes, imagine how difficult it is for those of us attempting to make sense of all this from the outside.

I don’t agree with every word Radosh writes in this piece, but I agree with almost all of it. His discussion of the Imam Feisal debate is particularly worthwhile. On one point, as I’ve mentioned here, I disagree–Radosh thinks the plans for the GZM have led to a “divisive and dangerous” debate. Divisive, yes; dangerous, probably not: It is giving rise to pieces like Radosh’s, and many others, that are the essence of necessary and useful debate.

A last point–Confucius the OEV noted to me that those less inclined to see Islam as monolithic are often those who have had a lot of exposure to the Islamic world. There are exceptions (Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes to mind), but generally, I think that’s true: Someone like me, who lives in Turkey, just can’t be persuaded that everyone who calls himself a Moslem believes the word means the same thing–no more than you could be persuaded that everyone who calls himself an American understands that word the same way.

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @River

    Let’s be realistic here, and face the fact that there are roughly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Whatever we think of Islam, it’s beyond our capacity to influence more than a small fraction of Muslims.

    Islam itself isn’t malignant. For the most part it’s a static and inert philosophy. Islamo-Nazism is the enemy. Opposing Islam as a whole would be a self-destructive act of hubris.

    Their major failing, as Mark Steyn so correctly points out, is that they never had a Reformation – as Christianity did. Without periodic questioning, debate, and adjustments, any mass movement will become stagnant, fallow, and dead.

    America and the Western Tradition are long overdue for a Reformation, and we’re in the middle of it right now.

    etoiledunord: The West might be even crazier than the Islamic World. At least the Islamic World would never commit cultural suicide trying to prove how tolerant they are. · Aug 20 at 9:59pm

    Benedictus maximae!

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @KennedySmith

    My views on Islam are not fit for teevee, or this site. But the point is, American Muslims don’t even try. The only Muslim that condemns the GZM is Canadian. Sure, American Muslims sell you hummus, but hummus, frankly isn’t that good. May as well eat tofu.

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  3. Profile Photo Member
    @HumzaAhmad
    Kennedy Smith: The only Muslim that condemns the GZM is Canadian. · Aug 21 at 2:47am

    Last time I checked I wasn’t Canadian. And neither is this guy.

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  4. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire
    River: Their major failing, as Mark Steyn so correctly points out, is that they never had a Reformation – as Christianity did. Benedictus maximae! · Aug 21 at 2:42am

    River, if it is often said that Islam is in need of a Reformation, it is also often forgotten that Catholics were secularized without one. The emergence of laïcité in France, particularly, was a political solution to a political conflict. The theological justification for accepting laïcité — the emphasis upon rendering Caesar his due — achieved prominence after the political settlement.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Member
    @River

    Charles Krauthammer, from National Review today:

    “Radical Islam is not, by any means, a majority of Islam. But with its financiers, clerics, propagandists, trainers, leaders, operatives, and sympathizers — according to a conservative estimate, it commands the allegiance of 7 percent of Muslims, i.e., over 80 million souls — it is a very powerful strain within Islam. It has changed the course of nations and affected the lives of millions. It is the reason every airport in the West is an armed camp and every land is on constant alert.”

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Editor
    @Claire
    Kennedy Smith: My views on Islam are not fit for teevee, or this site. But the point is, American Muslims don’t even try. The only Muslim that condemns the GZM is Canadian. Sure, American Muslims sell you hummus, but hummus, frankly isn’t that good. May as well eat tofu. · Aug 21 at 2:47am

    This is the most offensive, bigoted comment about hummus I have ever heard. All hummus? As if every kind of hummus, in its almost infinite variety, were the same? May I remind you that hummus is one of the world’s oldest foods, with evidence suggesting the use of chickpeas by the ancient Egyptians nearly 7,000 years before we in the West even invented the light bulb? Hummus is low in fat, protein-rich, an excellent source of fiber–but beyond that, it’s absolutely delicious! It’s beloved of vegetarians and carnivores alike! And you compare it with tofu, that tasteless slime? Frankly, Kennedy Smith, I believe you have no idea what you’re talking about. Only someone who has never tasted hummus could say something so simplistic about an entire chickpea-based tradition.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member
    @cdor

    Islam must adapt to the West, culturally, in order to be accepted here. As E.D. stated, the West must have enough pride in our own values to not commit cultural suicide. The West, starting with the U.S.A., can support the moderate Muslims and begin Islamic reformation by OUTLAWING SHARIA (the caps were for you, Claire). Sharia is the part of Islam that is totally antithetical to Western values. Just like a border fence and complete control over illegal infiltration would allow people to adjust and assimilate (both the illegals and the citizens), so would the absolute dis-allowance of any aspect of sharia, depressurize relations amongst Muslims choosing to live in Western society and non-Muslims. Good fences make good neighbors. Outlawing sharia is just like building a fence.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Member
    @KennedySmith

    Hummus is to steak as chick flicks are to genuine cinema. Thatnk you, Humza, for speaking out. I didn’t see that article. As noted, I don’t think the religion leads to violence. Heck Christianity went through some turbulent periods. Good to know you’re fighting the good fight.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @KennedySmith

    Ooooh, and Claire, do you know what Cicero means?

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Member
    @

    We are spending a hell of a lot of effort trying to differentiate between Muslims who may be moderate and those who are radical. I think it is, perhaps the responsibility of the moderates to do the footwork, not us. I know of very few Muslims, for instance, among my friends who do not believe that the state of Israel is responsible for the majority of the problem. To me that is a starting point. Imam Feisal speaks of building bridges, yet I see no effort among Muslims to act in a manner towards Israel that in anyway demonstrates moderation. It seems as though a “Moderate” only wants the destruction of Israel while a radical wants to bring down the entire west.

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @River

    Chickpea bigtry is not acceptable on this site! Deep fried chickpeas are fantastic! Have you never had a falafel, man!?

    Once you open the chickpea bigotry door, filo dough will be next!

    Older Japanese men are growing breasts from Tofu! Tofu has natural estrogen and tastes like wallpaper paste!

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  12. Profile Photo Member
    @KennedySmith

    I despise all chickpeas and all chickpea sympathizers!!!

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  13. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Pilgrim

    my problem is with Hamas, not hummus

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Member
    @cdor

    This chickpea business is beginning to look like an international incident. Perhaps the resolution of the Great Chickpea Wars could be Obama’s first and major accomplishment as he moves up to his next step in life as President of the World.

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Hummus, yum.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Midge

    Kennedy Smith: Ooooh, and Claire, do you know what Cicero means? · Aug 21 at 6:08am

    Probably she does. And I do, too. And I’ve had really bad hummus, that’s all gluey, pulpy , and tasteless. But… really good hummus is a delight!

    Hummus is so good it makes people want to sing about it, or at least rap.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @

    As Steyn’s been saying since before America Alone, the world needs an Islamic Reformation. There’s only so much non-Muslims can do about that, but you’re exactly right that we need to try all we can to identify and encourage – in that order – potential voices for such a shift.

    It would also help if we discovered some wonder-fuel before Our Friends The Saudis have cemented Wahhabism in every corner of the globe…

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    A relevant article from Humza’s site.

    I agree that sharia should be banned, and banned now. It would be pointless to let sharia become entrenched in some parts of our society before addressing it.

    My comments were hasty. While truth always matters, whether or not a particular branch of Islam is the original or most logical one should have little bearing on our diplomacy or tolerance.

    The diplomatic concern is which branch is in power. Wahhabists seem to control nearly all Muslim nations. And, as Mark often demonstrates through statistics, Europe might join the fold within a couple generations. Regardless of most Muslims’ beliefs, their leaders are hostile and we should seek to convert those leaders or aid their peoples in insurrections.

    Citizens and government must make Wahhabists fear and need them. That is what ultimately relegated the KKK to impotence, right? Legal tolerance is not the same as social tolerance. Businesses must not deal with them (or else be ostracized by other businesses and consumers). Police agencies must suppress them with constant investigations. Citizens must stand up for and protect threatened neighbors. Laws and soldiers should not be our only methods of defense.

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Member
    @ConfuciustheOEcumenicalVolgi

    You’re welcome, Claire.

    Here’s the problem, Jason. If by Reformation you mean a bunch of people outraged at the current state of the religion who take their cues from their vision of its utopian past…then that’s a pretty good description of ‘Abdul-Wahhâb, the Deobandis, the Salafis (whose name would be “Apostolics” in a Christian analogy), etc. Like the reformers who laid into the Church of the 16th century, the first targets of all these guys were the other Muslims who lived nearby and didn’t meet their standards (takfîr being the term of art for declaring other Muslims infidels). It’s only under the influence of modern (indeed Western) theories of capital-h History that Islamism has formed as a global Utopian ideology looking for an apocalyptic ushering in of a Utopia by a vanguard allowed to commit any sort of violence in its name. So, in one sense, it has been reformed.

    [Continued]

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Deeds matter more than words.

    Please, someone, point out where and when,in all the history of Islam, Muslims have truly acted in moderation when it came to living in harmony with their infidel neighbors.

    • #20
  21. Profile Photo Member
    @ConfuciustheOEcumenicalVolgi

    [Continued]

    Some folks have argued that Islam doesn’t need a Reformation so much as a pope, which is to say a responsible, central point of authority which would rein in the extremist fringes. Of course, in Sunni Islam this is basically impossible and in Shi‘ite Islam, Iran provides an object lesson in how a centralized clerical hierarchy can be hijacked. That said, in a lot of ways, it was basically the Ottomans’ answer to the problem—they made the entire religious establishment essentially a branch of the government, not unlike an established church in the west. As Claire has mentioned, the secular Republic of Turkey has basically continued this tradition with the Diyanet, essentially the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Consequently or coincidentally, the Turkish religious establishment has been notably unradical.

    [Continued]

    • #21
  22. Profile Photo Member
    @MelFoil

    …these incremental concessions to Islam are ultimately a bigger threat than terrorism. What matters is not what the lads in the Afghan cave—the “extremists”—believe, but what the non-extremists believe, what people who are for the most part law-abiding taxpayers of functioning democracies believe. For example, a recent poll found that 36% of Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 believe that those who convert to another religion should be punished by death. That’s not 36% of young Muslims in Waziristan or Yemen or Sudan, but 36% of young Muslims in the UK. 40% of British Muslims would like to live under Sharia—in Britain. 20% have sympathy for the July 7 Tube bombers. And, given that Islam is the principal source of population growth in every city down the spine of England […] and in every major Western European city, these statistics are not without significance for the future. […] Ultimately, our crisis is not about Islam. It’s not about fire-breathing Imams or polygamists whooping it up on welfare. It’s not about them. It’s about us. (Mark Steyn, http://www.hillsdale.edu/news/imprimis/archive/issue.asp?year=2008&month=08 )

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  23. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Claire, do you ever sleep? Whip-smart, gorgeous and endlessly-energetic…it’s just too much.

    • #23
  24. Profile Photo Member
    @ConfuciustheOEcumenicalVolgi

    [Continued]

    You are, however, dead right about the problem of Saudi Arabia’s export of Wahhabism. This is largely the result of the deal between the Saudi religious establishment and the monarchy in the wake of Juhayman’s millennarian seizure of the Great Mosque in 1979. Plus, the combination of their immense wealth and their custodianship of Mecca & Medina (thanks, Great Britain, for ejecting the traditional Hashemite rulers and shipping them off to Jordan and Iraq) has given what has been historically a hated and marginal branch of the religion immense global reach in the first instance and unwarranted prestige in the second.

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  25. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller
    Claire Berlinski:

    Someone like me, who lives in Turkey, just can’t be persuaded that everyone who calls himself a Moslem believes the word means the same thing–no more than you could be persuaded that everyone who calls himself an American understands that word the same way. ·

    Sorry, Claire, but the “essentialist” argument is not that every Muslim believes the same thing. It’s that Muslims might be kind persons and good citizens in spite of Islam (through innocent or willful misinterpretation). It’s like saying the Marxist worldview of class warfare is not only wrong but dangerous, even though there are plenty of kind and patriotic Marxists. A person might even occasionally do good because of his Marxism (ex: he works to feed the “oppressed” poor), but that does not justify the larger worldview.

    I don’t believe Islam itself is problematic, but I don’t disbelieve it either. It would not be respectful of anyone for me to pretend I know enough about Islam to judge. I would welcome peaceful Muslims even if Islam was wrong. But we should not ignore truth for the sake of peace.

    I’ve only begun reading the article. More later.

    • #25
  26. Profile Photo Member
    @AaronMiller

    To clarify, I would not approve of a ban on any branch of Islamic practice, regardless of what “true” Islam might be. People have a right to be wrong. They do not have a right to be violently seditious. So even Wahhabi Islam should probably be legal, as pro-Nazi and KKK activities are legal when they are not violent. Hate is dangerous and saddening, but is not a crime (nor should be).

    Similarly, living under false beliefs should never be a crime, but that does not mean we should ignore the illogic. If someone is wrong, even in a relatively peaceful way, we should point it out (though dangerous philosophies are obviously the priority). Truth matters.

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  27. Profile Photo Member
    @MelFoil

    The West might be even crazier than the Islamic World. At least the Islamic World would never commit cultural suicide trying to prove how tolerant they are.

    • #27
  28. Profile Photo Member
    @Ragnarok

    Claire: sorry to abandon the culinary thread, but apparently Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has uncovered 13 hours of Imam Rauf’s ravings about the destruction of Israel, support for bin Laden and Wahhabism, the usual stuff of immoderate Islam.

    • #28
  29. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake

    Kenneth Please, someone, point out where and when,in all the history of Islam, Muslims have truly acted in moderation when it came to living in harmony with their infidel neighbors. · Aug 20 at 9:29pm

    I believe Indonesia, Turkey, and parts of India have fit this bill from time to time (alas, these places are feeling radicalization now). I’ve also experienced individual Muslims living in harmony with my neighborhood — and I doubt they were all practicing taqiyya.

    I

    In Indonesia and India, the Dutch and British maintained an uneasy truce between Muslims and their neighbors. Once the colonial powers withdrew, hell broke loose.

    Turkey is not a good example. Ataturk imposed secularism, most of Turkey’s infidel population had been ethnically cleansed and Turkey’s only non-Muslim neighbor was the Soviet Union. Quite literally, the Turks had no one to pick on – but, being Muslims, they couldn’t help but launch a bloody invasion of Cyprus, where they drove the Greeks out of “traditional Muslim lands”.

    • #29
  30. Profile Photo Contributor
    @Midge

    Kenneth Please, someone, point out where and when,in all the history of Islam, Muslims have truly acted in moderation when it came to living in harmony with their infidel neighbors. · Aug 20 at 9:29pm

    I believe Indonesia, Turkey, and parts of India have fit this bill from time to time (alas, these places are feeling radicalization now). I’ve also experienced individual Muslims living in harmony with my neighborhood — and I doubt they were all practicing taqiyya.

    Islam has a disadvantage relative to Christianity and Judaism — no traditional distinction between temporal and religious authority. Jews have certainly been oppressed often enough to know the difference between God’s ways and the State’s ways. Jesus gave us “render unto Caesar”. But Islam does not traditionally make that distinction — temporal and religious authority are traditionally one — and Islam also first spread through conquest. But even this disadvantage isn’t insurmountable, I think. Islam has to work considerably harder at learning to be a peaceful part of a pluralistic world, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

    Then again, I’m one of those people who sees Dr Jasser as a reason for less despair and you’re not.

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