The Vice President of the Jihad Watch Advisory Board, Hugh Fitzgerald, here tackles a common false claim: that poverty breeds jihad, and money will restore peace.
This constant refrain about young Muslims turning to “militant Islam” or “Islamism” or somesuch because of poverty can be answered in two ways.
The first way is to point out that the extensive studies by sociologists of the backgrounds of many hundreds, or even thousands, of Muslim terrorists have all concluded that on the whole, they are much better off and much better educated than the average Muslim. The terrorists have included the scions of both what may be described as among the First Families of Egypt (Ayman al-Zawahiri’s grandfather’s brother was Azzam Pasha, the first Secretary of the Arab League; Al-Zawahiri was a doctor) and Saudi Arabia (the Bin Laden family is, after the Al-Saud, possibly the richest family in Saudi Arabia), as well as urban planners (Mohammad Atta), successful computer engineers (“Mike” Hawash), mild-mannered accountants, and so on.
So the idea that poverty is the problem, which simply helps everyone avoid looking squarely at the theory and practice of Islam over 1300 years, can easily be shown to be nonsense.
The second way, however, is to pretend, for a minute, that “poverty” might have something to do with it — that when Muslims are poor, they necessarily find solace in Islam and become “immoderate” Muslims. Suppose that were true? What would that mean? Are Infidels supposed to guarantee a particular standard of living to all Muslims living in the West, not to mention elsewhere, so that they never feel sufficiently put upon, do not feel that they are falling behind in their own standard of living? Would that make sense? Is that the Infidel man’s new burden?
And what about other kinds of setbacks? What about the Muslim who is rejected by an Infidel woman he is courting, and feels slighted as a result, and resentful, and….well, you know. What about the Muslim who loses his job, and is mad at his Infidel boss, and….well, you know. The problem is this: there are a thousand, or a million reason, why people feel bad, how they suffer in one way or another. We who are not Muslim do not have at hand a ready grid for the universe which teaches us to blame and hate the Infidel. We who are not Muslim do not have at hand a prism, constructed from the verses of Qur’an, and the Hadith stories, and the supposed facts of supposed Muhammad’s supposed existence, a prism through which Muslims can view the universe — and again, blame the Infidel.
And so what are we Infidels to do? Spend the rest of our lives making sure that no Muslims are unhappy, or going directly to the problem itself — the ideology of Islam, and working to deprive Muslims of the major means of doing us harm, through terrorism and outright warfare (taking away their major weaponry), or through demography (ending all Muslim migration to Infidel lands, and reversing the flow wherever that can be accomplished), and Da’wa (identifying, and countering, all the ways that Da’wa is conducted, all the places it finds its most likely victims).
And then creating the conditions where Muslims themselves, through simple observation, can learn or be forced to learn that what is wrong with their societies, politically, economically, socially, and intellectually, is entirely owed to the teachings of Islam itself. The Soviet Union collapsed because Communism was found to have failed. The outside world, chiefly the United States, helped create the conditions in which that failure was impossible for Soviet citizens to ignore or explain away. The same thing can be done, much more slowly and with much more difficulty, with Islam — showing its own followers that, for example, it is inshallah-fatalism that keeps them from having developed real economies, and it is the spirit of submission to authority, and blind obedience, that makes despotism such a natural part of Islam. And if Muslims wish not merely the goods and services of the Infidel world, but to be able to produce those goods and services themselves, they will have to at least constrain Islam, as Ataturk did, if they cannot — out of filial piety — recognize openly how Islam holds people back, and prevents individual achievement, scientific inquiry, artistic expression.