“Whether there is anything specific to the Muslim religion that encourages this radicalisation is an open question” — Francis Fukuyama in Prospect magazine
It’s not an “open question” to Ibn Warraq, or Ali Sina, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Wafa Sultan or Azam Kamguian or Irfan Khawaja or Anwar Shaikh or tens (or possibly hundreds) of thousands of articulate ex-Muslims now living in the West and able to speak and write freely. They know Islam a bit better than Francis Fukuyama. Of course, they would reject not only his use of the phrase “open question” but his larger assumption: that there might be something in what he too easily calls “the Muslim religion” (Islam is a Total System, Islam is a religion and a politics and a social theory and a geopolitics and a scientific explanation of the universe and much more): something “specific” that “encourages this radicalisation.”
The way Fukuyama phrases things, it is clear that he thinks Islam alone is not the problem, but only the “radicalisation” of Islam. And both the declared apostates, and those few brave Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims, such as Magdi Allam, could explain how wrong Fukuyama is to make such a misleading distinction between an assumed peaceful, good, unmenacing “Islam” and this dangerous “radicalisation” that, Fukuyama complacently allows himself to believe, is somehow different in its texts and teachings, for regular, mainstream, ordinary Islam. There is no such difference.
Ibn Warraq again: “There are moderate Muslims. Islam itself is not moderate.” The knowledge that some Muslims are incomplete or “bad” Muslims is not sufficiently comforting to Infidels to allow them not to wish to limit, however they can, the power and presence of Islam in their own imperiled Infidel lands.
Fukuyama wants to get in the game, but he doesn’t want to do the necessary work. He’s given at the office. He’s tired. Islam, learning all about Islam and about all the elements of Islam, including the Qur’an and the interpretive doctrine of “naskh” and all the most authoritative Qur’anic commentators and jurisconsults, the Hadith and the isnad-chains and the muhaddithin and the levels of authenticity, the Sira and the significance of Muhammad in Islam, especially as “uswa hasana” and “al-insan al-kamil,” would all have to be studied, and re-studied, and thoroughly assimilated. And then there is that 1350-year history of Islamic Jihad-conquest and all the instruments of Jihad that include, but are hardly exhausted by, military means, and the astonishingly or perhaps predictable similarity of treatment of non-Muslims from Spain to the East Indies — that’s a lot of work. And Fukuyama is used to the grand pronouncements, the illogical leaps, the lack of any felt need to produce the kind of evidence that well-trained historians require of others and demand of themselves. That, at this point, is all beyond Francis Fukuyama, as it is of all those who, whether they are his admirers for “The End of History” or his former friends, like Charles Krauthammer, are just as lazy or even lazier and more ignorant of Islam than he. None of that keeps them quiet or modest in delivering themselves of what, in the end, is an endless series of guesses and unexamined assumptions (the “convivencia” of Islamic-ruled Spain, for example) and vaporings both portentous and often — “The End of History” — preposterous.
An example of how one can go wrong if one has relied on one or two so-called “experts” on Islam is in a piece Fukuyama once wrote in the Wall Street Journal. He shows no familiarity with Islam. He relies entirely, it seems, on the views of a single “expert” (Bernard Lewis has already, in private, expressed his great dismay over this particular “expert”). This “expert” is the Frenchman Olivier Roy, a quasi-apologist for Islam (Fukuyama seems not to realize this), who has in the past been quick to attribute Muslim attitudes to anger over — yes, “Israel” and “Palestine.” Oliver Roy is one of the people upon whom the French chose to rely in admitting so many Muslims into their midst — and not scholars, of the older school, such as Charles-Emmanuel Dufourcq, who in the early 1970s was expressing alarm about the large-scale introduction of Muslims into Europe.
Francis Fukuyama has not been known to have taken a year off to read deeply in the theory and history of Islam. Or perhaps he has, and has chosen to do it hidden from view. Certainly nothing he wrote in the Wall Street Journal piece or in this Prospect piece shows any familiarity either with the canonical texts, or any of the great scholars of Islam, many of whose works can be sampled in The Legacy of Jihad. He is not alone. All sorts of people think they are entitled to make all sorts of pronouncements on Islam without studying either the canonical texts or the history of Islam.
Here is an excerpt from Fukuyama’s Journal piece:
“We profoundly misunderstand contemporary Islamist ideology when we see it as an assertion of traditional Muslim values or culture.”
In order to make this statement, one would have to have studied Islam, which is the overwhelming Fact of Life for all Muslims, to find out what Muslim values and Muslim culture is all about.
Fukuyama shows no signs of having read or taken seriously the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the Sira. If asked why virtually the first act of the Ayatollah Khomeini was to lower the marriageable age of girls to nine, he might well be at a loss to explain it. If asked what Muslims were taught to think about the claim of Muslims to the land and goods of Infidels, or how they were taught to treat Infidels, and had in fact treated them, over a very long time, over a very wide space, he would it seems not know what to say.
Yet he blandly tells us, with a tone, entirely unmerited, of self-assured authority, that we profoundly misunderstand contemporary Islamist ideology, etc.
Only one question for Francis Fukuyama. Kindly list 10, or five, or even one way, in which “contemporary Islamist ideology” differs at all from the standard Jihad-ideology, taken from the Qur’an and the Sunnah (i.e., the Hadith and the example of Muhammad), that is set out by the Qur’anic commentators and jurisconsults, and all other important figures in the history of Islam, including the traveller Ibn Battuta, the historian Ibn Khaldun, and even that “Sufi” dreamer Al-Ghazali.
A week spent reading not only The Legacy of Jihad, but perhaps also more of Clement Huart, Snouck Hurgronje, Armand Abel, W. St. Clair Tisdall, and a few dozen other eminent and keen scholars — who were not, alas, given to tossing things out in Op/Ed articles, but to different standards, in a different age — might not cause Fukuyama to change his views. But it might cause him to be just a bit more hesitant, a bit more reluctant to think that Islam can be so brightly, cavalierly, discussed by magic instant expertise, based on a reading of Olivier Roy and others who have themselves been so discredited, or are seen to be in the light of the scholarship that has been deliberately ignored and suppressed, but is now, book by book, being unearthed and republished.
Even spending a week with just one writer — Snouck Hurgronje — would help one to see right through to the shallow bottom of Olivier Roy, or Gilles Kepel. Not exactly petits pois in an inflamed French pod, but close.