In “Bernard Lewis vs. the Islamophobes,” (thanks to Ian), Dinesh D’Souza demonstrates an apparent eagerness to retail manifest inaccuracies about what I say and the positions I take. I am disheartened to see someone whose early work I admired descending to gutter tactics worthy of a CAIR operative.
Having debated Robert Spencer at the Conservative Political Action Committee conference in Washington D.C. a few days ago, and Serge Trifkovic on a radio show just yesterday, I have gotten a full and repulsive dose of the anti-Muslim hatred masquerading as scholarship that these guys represent.
Ad hominem attack. Not substantive.
Authors of books with titles like Islam Unveiled and Sword of the Prophet, Spencer and Trifkovic contend that radical Islam is the true and only Islam.
Oversimplification. I have demonstrated, as I mentioned in my CPAC debate, that jihad warfare against infidels is taught by all the Islamic schools. But I would never say that that means it is the “true and only Islam.” The Ahmadiyya, as I have often pointed out, reject violent jihad — and for that they are persecuted as heretics by other Muslim groups. But are they not true Muslims? I would never say that. I would only say, and it is obvious, that many other Muslim groups do not regard them as orthodox Muslims.
They deny that there is such a thing as a traditional Muslim–at one point Spencer challenged me to name a single traditional Muslim.
Here Mr. D’Souza, whether out of carelessness, ignorance, or malice, completely misrepresents what I said at the CPAC debate, and what appears in all my books, which he clearly has not read, despite his claims to the contrary. I asked him to name a single traditional Muslim with whom we should ally, and he named Ali Gomaa, Mufti of Egypt, a Hizballah supporter. But I granted him the point, which is not in serious dispute by anyone, that there are millions of Muslims who are not waging jihad against anyone. Hundreds of millions.
In fact, during our debate on the Lores Rizkalla show, I offered some reasons why, in many parts of the Muslim world, the doctrine of jihad fell into abeyance, such that millions of Muslims have for generations heard little or nothing about it — until these latter days of jihadist recruitment. And he responded to that point. So has he forgotten that I ever discussed this — the existence and plight of millions of cultural, non-jihadist Muslims? Or is he deliberately misrepresenting my position in order to knock it down more easily?
Trifkovic compares Islam to Nazism and Bolshevism, and he’d like to see the earth rid of this menace. For them Islam is the problem and the only good Muslim is a Muslim who has renounced Islam.
Sure, Dinesh. That’s why Tashbih Sayyed, editor of Muslim World Today, a Muslim who has never renounced Islam, is on the Jihad Watch Board. But don’t let me trouble you with facts.
This foolish doctrine that would make enemies of 1.2 billion Muslims–one in five people on the planet–is advanced in the name of an interpretation of Islamic theology that only a radical Muslim like Bin Laden would endorse. Bin Laden thinks that because the Koran says “slay the infidels,” therefore Muslims are obliged to kill everyone who is not a Muslim. Bin Laden’s doctrine is emphatically rejected by all the classical schools of Islamic teaching
Bin Laden doesn’t believe that Muslims must kill everyone who is not Muslim, and the classical schools of Islamic teaching don’t reject what bin Laden actually does believe. All of them teach that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers in order to subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law. I’d like to see D’Souza substantiate his claim here.
…and no Muslim empire from the Umayyads to the Abassid dynasty to the Mughals to the Ottomans, actually enforced a policy of slaying all the non-Muslims.
Straw man. Of course they didn’t, because that was never Islamic teaching.
Two thirds of Muslims in the world today live in democratic societies, and they certainly aren’t wiping out the infidels around them…
In our debate he mentioned Turkey and Indonesia — two paradises for non-Muslims. Just search the archives at Dhimmi Watch and see for yourself.
…yet Spencer and Trifkovic have found their Koranic reference, and they are sticking with it all textual and empirical evidence to the contrary.
No acknowledgment by D’Souza here of the stages of Qur’anic development of the doctrine of jihad as delineated by Islamic theology, although I have brought them up to him several times now. Once again: don’t trouble his sloganeering with facts.
In his sira, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur’an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya (see Qur’an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.). Tafasir by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that Surat At-Tawba abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur’an.
In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur’an’s teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by Qutb, Maududi, the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of “The Qur’anic Concept of War”), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his “Jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah”), and others. It is, of course, an assertion of no little concern to non-Muslims, since it encapsulates a doctrine of warfare against non-Muslims and their ultimate subjugation under Sharia rules, with all that implies.
I’m Catholic and not Muslim, yet I have lots of first-hand knowledge of traditional Muslims–I grew up with many of these folks in India–and my mind reels from the one-sidedness and distortions of ideologues like Spencer and Trifkovic.
Well, that makes two of us, Mr. D’Souza, for my mind is reeling as we speak at your disingenuousness and lack of concern for accuracy and honest dealing.
Sometimes I wonder if Spencer and Trifkovic know any practicing Muslims.
I am quite certain that I know many more practicing Muslims than does Dinesh D’Souza, but in any case this is a silly point. The doctrines of Islam are established by the Islamic texts. If the Catholic Church teaches that contraception is immoral, 90% of Catholics practicing contraception doesn’t change the content of Church teaching. If the overwhelming majority of Muslims ignore jihad warfare, that doesn’t mean that the schools of Islamic jurisprudence don’t teach jihad warfare.
At one point in our CPAC debate Spencer referred by name to a Muslim “friend,” giving people the impression that this fellow was on his side, but after the debate the very same man came up to me and said, “I agree with you completely. I don’t know why Spencer mentioned my name in public. I think what he is saying is wrong and counterproductive.”
I didn’t give the impression that the man was on my side. I wasn’t talking about “sides” at all. In fact, I called upon this man, Ahmed Younis, until recently of MPAC, to do genuine work for Islamic reform by acknowledging the aspects of Islamic teaching that the jihadists are using to justify violence and gain recruits among Muslims, and to formulate positive ways to mitigate the violence these aspects of Islam inspire. Like Ali Eteraz, who actually thought I was calling D’Souza himself my friend in some serious manner, D’Souza seems unable to recognize irony in the use of the word “friend.”
And in any case, while I have no way of knowing whether or not Ahmed Younis actually said what D’Souza has him saying here, I do know that after the debate Mr. Younis smiled broadly, shook my hand, thanked me more than once for giving him a “shout-out,” and reiterated his desire to have a discussion with me — which I am very eager to have also.
I know that some conservatives have drunk deeply in the wells of anti-Islamic polemic, and recovery may take some time. For starters I’d recommend the detoxifying works of historian Bernard Lewis, who knows the Muslim world and speaks the local languages and exhibits in his work a judiciousness and balance utterly lacking among the rabble-rousers. Here, for example, is Lewis in a passage from his book Islam and the West. While firmly outlining the problems with Islamic toleration, Lewis shows that Muslims have throughout history coexisted with non-Muslims and he goes on to make the startling point that historically speaking Islam was more tolerant than Christianity.
“The level of willingness (of Muslims) to tolerate and live peaceably with those who believe otherwise and worship otherwise was, at most times and in most places, high enough for tolerable coexistence to be possible…The character and extent of traditional Muslim tolerance should not be misunderstood. If by tolerance we mean the absence of discrimination, then the traditional Muslim state was not tolerant, and indeed a tolerance thus defined would have been seen not as a merit but as a dereliction of duty. No equality was conceded, in practice or even less in theory, between those who accepted and obeyed God’s word and those who willfully and by their own choice rejected it. Discrimination was structural and universal, imposed by doctrine and law and endorced by popular consent. Persecution, on the other hand, though not unknown, was rare and atypical, and there are few if any equivalents in Muslim history to the massacres, the forced conversions, the expulsions, and the burnings that are so common in the history of Christendom…”
I quoted Lewis saying some quite different things here. But in any case, what is D’Souza’s point here? Even if Lewis is correct that the Ottomans were better to minorities than Catholic Europe, what does that prove? No one is trying to bring back the society of Catholic Europe, but jihadists are trying to reimpose Sharia, including dhimmitude for non-Muslims, on the rest of the world. Is D’Souza suggesting that, well, it wasn’t so bad after all, and so we shouldn’t be resisting it now?
Dinesh D’Souza just goes from bad to worse. Mr. D’Souza, if you are a man of honor, I call upon you to retract these false statements about my positions — or else substantiate them, if you believe they are accurate, with actual quotations from my books.
If, and only if, you are a man of honor.