Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald comments on Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s most recent comments on Islam:
“I think Islam, the Muslim world, is indeed going through an evolution, and as with any evolution there are both potential negative outcomes and potential positive outcomes. The negative outcome would be the continued rise of extremism and those who would hijack the great world religion to a cause that clearly has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a peaceful religion…”
In order to make this statement, Condoleeza Rice either 1) would have to have studied Islam — not for years, not even for months, but a solid week would do; or 2) rely on staff members to supply her with accurate summaries of the belief-system of Islam, which would necessarily have to get beyond the “one of the world’s great monotheisms,” “one of the abrahamic faiths,” “the Five Pillars of Islam are shahada, zakat, salat, Ramadan, and hajj.”
It is very likely #2 and not #1. But probably those staff members are not deeply versed in the geopolitics of Islam and have not spent a long time reading and re-reading and thinking about the history of Islamic conquest, or about the immutability of Islamic texts, or the way in which those texts are now distributed far and wide, or the use of Islam as a Total Explanation of the Universe “” a point of repair and solace that, alas, also provides a ready-made object of blame in the Infidel. Nor have they likely thought about the ways in which, far beyond terrorism, and far more effectively than terrorism, Islam can be promoted and spread.
If Condoleeza Rice really believes that Islam “is a peaceful religion” then she has not read the history of Islamic conquest, has not studied the treatment of non-Muslims — all non-Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists — living in lands subjugated by Muslims, and has failed to fully grasp the nature of that supposedly benign “protected-people” status of Christians and Jews that, in the full panoply of what it demanded of those “People of the Book” (ahl al-kitab) was onerous, and relentlessly cruel in a way that rhetoric should not be allowed to conceal.
If she meant the quoted remarks, then she is a grave disappointment. And neither she, nor anyone else who thinks in the same vein, is likely to be able to comprehend how much vaster is the problem than anything bringing “democracy to Iraq” will solve.
Let us stick only to Turkey, since Rice raises it as an example. Indeed, Turkey is an example. But of what? The historical record shows the following:
1) Kemal Ataturk was a war hero and strongman who took full control of Turkey — which was not a democracy at the time — in order to save his country from what he regarded as further disaster and possible dismemberment (it had already lost its possessions) in 1924.
He instituted a series of measures designed to limit the power of Islam in political and social matters. These included:
a) the Hat Act. This abolished the wearing of the brimless fez which made praying easier and insisted on Western caps to go with such Western, non-Islamic dress as coats and ties.
b) giving women the right to vote.
c) having the Qur’an translated into Turkish — to break the cultural hold of Arabic — and even supplying a special tafsir, or commentary in Turkish.
d) ending the use of Arabic script and adopting the Western alphabet.
e) monitoring the mosques and creating a Ministry of Religions Affairs entrusted with composing the khutbas delivered at Friday Prayers — carefuly vetted by government officials so that they would not contain any dangerous material.
f) forbidding conscripts in the army from rising in the ranks if they demonstrated any detectable signs of religious fervor, such as reading the Qur’an too much.
g) forbidding the wearing of the hijab in any government office or at any official function.
h) cracking down on any newspapers that offered articles deemed “pro-Islamic.”
i) making the army the bastion and protector of Kemalism.
And much more.
Note that Ataturk did not try to change the text of Qur’an. Nor did he try to revise Bukhari or Muslim, or to de-authenticate dangerous ahadith. Nor did he try to re-write the life of Muhammad. (In some ways the cult of Ataturk, now the national cult of Turkey, was a kind of replacement for Muhammad.) He realized that this was impossible, but that in order to bring Turkey kicking and screaming into the modern world (Turkey was poor, Turkey was on the ropes, Turkey needed a Strong Man and as a war hero he fit the bill perfectly), he and those who supported him had to force through all these constraints on Islam.
Ataturk was the most successful example of the quasi-enlightened despots who alone have been responsible for whatever constraints on Islam have been put in place in the Islamic world. In Iran, the Shah tried to emphasis the pre-Islamic origins of the Iranian state, just as his regime had tried to avoid mistreating non-Muslims — in defiance of the laws of sharia and the particular fanaticism with which the Infidels were regarded as “unclean” or “najis.” The Shah’s was an uphill battle: even into the 1970s Mary Boyce found Zoroastrians treated as “unclean.” Laurence Loeb, who spent a year living in Iran, noted that Jews could still be beaten to death for going out in the rain (it was believed that rainwater, if it touched a Jew’s skin, and then subsequently splashed onto a Muslim, could endanger that Muslim with this drop or two of horrific uncleanliness). Then there was Mohammed V of Morocco, who was protected from Islamic attack as a sherifian monarch (i.e., direct descendant of the Prophet). There was Bourguiba of Tunisia and his One-Party (Destour) Rule that still, through a police-state, has managed to limit the Islam-based mistreatment of women, and even allows some space to very guarded and gentle, but nonetheless noticeable, criticism of Islamic practices, if not untouchable and immutable doctrines.
The entire history of Islam shows that while the doctrines cannot be changed, a strong man, by dint of relentless pressure, can work to constrain Islam.
2) Turkey offers another lesson, one that Rice and others who will be around after Rice is gone should think about: Kemalism requires constant vigilance for it to be maintained. Even though a secular class has been created in Turkey, that class has been insufficiently aware of how tenuous its position is, and of how it is constantly in danger of being chipped away at, and undermined, by the determined “Islamic” element in Turkey. Erdogan is not an example of someone admirable, but of someone exceedingly cunning. He is able to use the E.U.’s requirements to hobble the army, the sole guarantor of Kemalism
The undermining of Kemalism in Turkey offers a salutary lesson: that Islam is a powerful force, and cannot be changed, only constrained, as Kemal Ataturk did. And to the degree that any country becomes more Muslim, to that same degree that country will — no matter how long or close its seemingly heartfelt alliance with the United States has been — pull away from that alliance, forget all that was done for it, and become hostile to the United States, as it would be to any Infidel power practicing muscular self-defense. The same is true of Pakistan, which has received every possible aid over decades, just as Turkey as. Neither country can be trusted to be on America’s side, no matter how plausible some Turkish generals in Ankara may seem (or may be) to their American counterparts, or how many ramrod-straight Sandhurst graduates in Karachi manage to impress, or at least try to make us overlook, how Pakistani generals were in up their neck in supporting the Taliban and the extracurricular activities of that remarkable man, A. Q. Khan.
3) The example of Turkey shows that Islam can only be constrained by a strong man rather than by “democracy” — for a “democratic” state where the people are almost entirely Muslim will inevitably redefine everything in terms of Islam. Whatever is bad — i.e., corruption — will simply be defined as “Infidel” and therefore to be opposed. Whatever is desirable will simply be labeled in the spirit of Islam — and this will happen everywhere that head-counting is the accepted definition of democracy, and not head-counting plus the rights enshrined in the First and Fourteenth Amendments, or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The government needs desperately a cadre of people who are willing to study what the defectors from Islam can tell us — such people as Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Azam Kamguian, and hundreds or thousands of others. It needs people who can see right through Esposito and his ilk, and who will learn about Islam by going to the dozens of Western scholars whose work has been deliberately ignored. They should begin with the pioneering scholarship (and synthesis of others’ scholarship) by Bat Ye’or, and such books as Ibn Warraq’s “Why I Am Not a Muslim,” and then go back to study Joseph Schacht, Arthur Jeffery, C. Snouck Hurgronje, Antoine Fattal, Edmond Fagnan, Vryonis and Vakalopoulos and Dadrian and Ivo Andric and a dozen others on non-Muslims under Ottoman rule, and K. S. Lal and Sarkar on Hindus under Muslim rule, and Mary Boyce on Zoroastrians in Muslim Persia, and many others now in the process of being published within the next six months.
She has been misled. That is not her fault. Many people have been misled about Islam. But at some point they must begin to realize that the evidence of their senses suggests that they have fed an incorrect analysis, a “theory” or “model” of Islam that does not explain all the data we have collected over 1350 years, nor seems to have much explanatory value for what is happening now, not only in Iraq and with Israel, but in the Sudan, in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in the Philippines, in Indonesia, in Bangladesh — where Christians, Jews, Hindus, Confucians, Buddhists all suffer from Muslim persecution or Jihad.
At this point anyone who speaks of Islam as a “religion of peace,” when a good many Americans (and others in the Western world) have figured out that they must learn about Islam on their own, since those whose solemn duty it is to instruct them instead offer only pieties and bromides, invites ridicule. And that ridicule will come also from the soldiers who have been to Iraq and have seen Islam from up close, and who, despite the propaganda they are forced to parrot from time to time, have a better sense of the rumors and lies and nonsense that are the daily stuff of life in Arab Islam, and furthermore have been fully aware of the widespread hostility, rooted in Islamic doctrine, even to Infidels bearing gifts costing tens of billions of dollars.
Perhaps the entire political class in this country is guilty — Republicans and Democrats alike — of failing to learn about Islam, and failing to offer imaginative and intelligent means to resist it. These means do not require vast invasion forces on the ground. Nor do they require the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq and tens of billions more, apparently, in Afghanistan — not to mention the continuation of American aid, for no good reason, to Egypt, to Jordan, to Pakistan, and of course to the shock-troops of the relentless and essentially endless Arab Jihad against Israel, the local Arabs renamed the “Palestinian people.”
We can deplore the 5th graders, and the 8th graders, and the 12th graders who do not know history. Editorialists rightly wring their hands at those in colleges who haven’t a clue as to why 1803 was important in American history, or 1649 in English history, or 1453 in the history of Western Christendom. But when it comes to those who create policies that will determine the safety and wellbeing of the entire Western, world, but who have failed to study the history of Jihad-conquest, or the dhimmitude that was the most gentle fate for those non-Muslims who were subjugated, this kind of ignorance has real consequences, real costs, and real dangers.
The only antidote is to become rooted in a real knowledge, unfoolable and unflappable, not only of Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, but of how those canonical texts are used and of how they have served to fashion the Sharia — and of how, in the 1350 years of Islamic history, there has been an observable and remarkable consistency in how Muslims from Spain to the East Indies have behaved, prompted by the same texts, toward non-Muslims.
One would love to know what Condoleeza Rice knows, or has been told (and by whom) about Islam. Does the Treaty of al-Hudaibyiia mean anything to her? Does the description of Muhammad in the Qur’an as “uswa hasana”? Does she know what Khomeini, that learned Shi’a theologian, wrote, or why he reduced the marriageable age of girls to nine years? Does she think that the problem with Islam is a “handful of extremists”? If so, why does she believe that? Or does she believe the problem is those “Wahhabi” Muslims? If so, what does she make of the behavior of Muslims toward non-Muslims in the thousand years before Wahhabism appeared? What does she know about the 60-70 million Hindus who were massacred under Mughal rule? What does she know about the Bumiputra system in present-day Malaysia, and why it has been called a disguised jizyah? What does she know about the treatment of Christians under Ottoman rule in the Balkans and elsewhere in eastern Europe? What does she know about the real treatment of Christians and Jews in Andalucia? Does she know why so many have taken to mocking the “myth of Andalucia” created by such writers as Chateaubriand and Irving? What does she know about demographic trends in Europe? About Geert Wilders and Ayaan Hirsi Ali? What does she know about those religiously-sanctioned doctrines in Islam, of dissimulation about the faith of Islam and about the Believer’s own beliefs, variously known as “taqiyya” and “kitman”?
These are some of the questions, the answers to which might enlighten us, and make us feel less insecure and alarmed — or more so.
Never before have we needed leaders willing to take the time to study, to return to their books, to be willing to jettison prefabricated phrases about “tolerance” and “peace” and to be willing to understand some very unpleasant truths. Never before have we so needed those who can calmly prepare, little by little, both other policymakers, and the still in-the-dark public, for what must be understood.
It is not asking too much of our leaders to ask them not to dismiss the dangers of Islam, and to request that they study not the apologists but the real scholars (a book or article on Islam written in 1920 or 1930 does not lose value, and because it was written at a time of much less inhibition, in a less guarded and fearful language, it is likely to be of far greater value than what is written today — even if what is written today is by someone who is not an apologist, as so many non-Muslim scholars are if they want to succeed in academic life and need to be wary of offending Muslim colleagues, or potential or actual Arab or other Muslim donors).
Fais un petit effort. Intelligence and imagination will allow you to come up, very easily, with a dozen ideas that will help to weaken Islam, to exploit its natural fissures, to visibly limit its present and future economic power, and to support, within Europe, those who are now thoroughly alarmed and intent on stopping the spread of a belief-system that is totalitarian in its Total Regulation and Total Explanation of the Universe.
Surely that is something that can be understood by some in the army and in the civilian administration — and can percolate not downwards, but upwards — from those who still have the time to do their own studying, and do not have to rely on 2-5 page summaries prepared by aids.
Long live the colonels who educate the generals. Long live the staff aides who educate the Senators and Congressmen And long live all those who take the time to read, study, and think.
It is they who will rescue us.