In a prison cell south of Cairo a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida.
Their authors are neither secular nor liberal: their self-criticism includes observations that the wrong path to jihad benefits only the Jews, the US and Egypt’s Christian minority. — from this article
There is no reason — none — for Infidels to be relieved, much less overjoyed, at this news. This is purely an internal Muslim matter. It has nothing to do with the tenets of Islam, the texts of Islam, the inculcated hostility or hatred toward Infidels, and the state of permanent war (not necessarily active warfare, but war) that must exist between the Muslim world and Infidels. For Infidels, the ability of this or that group of Muslims to convince another group of Muslims not to consider them to be “Infidels” (the “takfir” business) not only offers no hope to us, the full-fledged Infidels, but is likely to be misunderstood. Ignorant Infidels eager to grasp at straws will seize upon it — and there are a great many of those “taking a leadership role” who, almost willfully ignorant, are eager to grasp at those straws. They will take it as proving what it does not prove and cannot prove: that Muslim terrorists can be “reformed” and that if only we play our cards right, and do nothing to offend Muslims, why then the same new view of things can extend to us, the Infidels.
It can’t. It won’t. There is no possibility, in Islam, of doing away with the central view on which that fighting faith is so obviously based: on the opposition of Believer to Infidel. Islam itself was concocted early on to justify conquests already under way by Arabs, conquests of lands possessed by far more settled, wealthy, advanced populations of Christians and Jews (and later, Zoroastrians, and later still, Hindus, Buddhists, and others).
What has happened as described above is simply that clever and ruthless and corrupt regimes are accused (quite rightly) of being corrupt and ruthless. The accusers naturally framing their opposition in Islamic terms. They must describe those regimes — the Al-Saud princes, princelings, and princelettes, or Mubarak and his family-and-friends plan — as “un-Islamic,” and the rulers as “non-Muslim.” Since, in Islam, one is encouraged to obey the Ruler, no matter how ruthless, as long as that Ruler (or government) can be called “Muslim,” the only way to arouse opposition in states and societies full of Muslims is to put everything in terms of Islam.
Americans and other Westerners have failed to realize this. They have failed in the past to realize that the numbers of the truly Westernized and secularized are small, and that they — such people as Kanan Makiya and Mithal al-Alusi and Ahmad Chalabi — will forever be a small minority. Thus when we fashion policy on the assumption that they or others like them will win out, it always will lead to naught. In the end one Muslim regime will be replaced by another.
Still another, even more dangerous conclusion, is that drawn by some who believe we have “nothing to fear” from Muslims who are, or seem to be, outraged largely by domestic corruption. Obviously the Slow Jihadists of Fatah are much more corrupt than Hamas. Their cosmetic accommodation with the West, and their differences on timing and tactics (a longer wait, and less obvious support for outright annihilation by military means of the state of Israel) should not obscure the fact that their goals remain the same. In Egypt, Mubarak’s regime is corrupt and unjust (which causes his opposition) and also meretricious abroad. Yet it manages by uttering a few phrases to be a continuous recipient of American aid (more than $60 billion) — though its regime is vicious, and its people far more anti-American than, say, the people in Iran.
Some now argue, in their latest attempt to ignore or miscomprehend Islam, that we should take the side of the opponents of such regimes, and not be “afraid” to work with, for example, the Ikhwan, the Muslim Brotherhood, “as long as its methods are peaceful.”
This is senseless. Of course the Ikhwan will promise us, we the foolable Infidels, that its methods are “peaceful.” Of course the opposition to the Al-Saud, similarly, can rightly point to the viciousness of the regime, and suggest that if only…if only, the Americans and other Westerners would support them, they would be glad they did, because an honest regime of Muslims will result. These Muslims, we will be told, and are being told, are “not part of Al Qaeda.” That is formally true, and also utterly irrelevant). We will be told that this new regime will create — well, something. Something good.
One lesson from Iraq is that the Infidels should not presume to think that they can undo the effects, or attitudes, or atmospherics, of Islam. Only those regimes in Muslim countries that can hold Islam in check, and what’s more, work steadily to create a class that is truly secular, and a class that will be able to constantly enlarge its numbers through iron-fisted control of education and the media, can contribute to lessening the overall menace of Islam. Turkey under Kemal Pasha was such a regime. But he died in 1938, and those Turks who are secularized and Westernized, that is, those who managed to get beyond deep belief in the obvious replacement-theology of “the Turk” and “Ataturk” (instead of “Believers” and “Muhammad”), relied too heavily on the army as the final guarantor of their own position. Instead, they should all have been working night and day to enlarge their own ranks, and to constrain Islam still further, using whatever elaborated ideas they could. They might also have encouraged a truthful coming-to-terms with the Armenian genocide. What’s more, they could have begun openly to discuss just how many “Turks” must, in fact, be of Armenian, Greek, Jewish origin — and even encouraged a “search for roots.” (The same thing, by the way, would be useful in Iran, where a revival of interest in Zoroastrianism, and a depiction of Islam as the “Arab gift” that turned out to be the source of so much present and past woe, sounds absurd, but it isn’t.)
What is described in the article above is only an intra-Islamic accommodation. As such, it has no meaning for Infidels and offers nothing useful that will help them. In fact, like other kinds of accommodation, like that sought by the Bush Administration in Iraq between Sunnis and Shi’a, it may actually work against us. For we do not want an Egypt or a Saudi Arabia where there is no domestic opposition. We want the Al-Saud to go to bed at night worried about what will happen to them. We want them to be deeply concerned about whether or not foreign workers, without whom Saudi Arabia would collapse, will stay. We want them to worry about the loyalty of their people. We want them to worry about all that so much that they will discover the need to stop spending the fortunes they are spending on mosques and madrasas, and on public relations campaigns — such as the recent transparent campaign of Op/Eds and media appearances and coordinated “Letters to the Editor,” all meant to demonstrate that “Muslims” in America are “just as American as apple pie,” aw-shucks and good country people. The whole shtick was designed carefully to keep us from looking at the texts and tenets of Islam. Rather, it focused on participation in some local group, all very inspiring. No doubt, such sentimentalists as Bush or the unsentimental careerist Dinesh D’Souza would focus on this kind of thing as “proving” that there is no problem with Islam, no menace from campaigns of Da’wa and demographic conquest all over the European half of the West, because this or that Muslim has run for office (and therefore this means he must have “accepted” the American way, for he has chosen not to throw bombs but to “work within the system”).
And, as a just-published article by Stanley Kurtz shows, the Saudi effort is not limited to all those mosques (with the anti-Infidel hate literature that the Center for Religious Freedom investigators discovered) and madrasas and public relations specialists (Western hirelings, eager to take on any client, indifferent to the results to their own society, even possibly to their own children). Now there is also an effort to take control of how Islam is taught in schools, and to carefully limit what is said and written in those carefully-compiled courses, with the lesson plans all prefabricated, and the syllabi all pre-written. Read what Kurtz has to say, and then read as well what Sandra Stotsky says in her study of what is being done in Massachusetts, thanks in part to “Middle East experts” relying on their ability to intimidate and silence opposition — because, you see, they are associated with Harvard.
Saudi Arabia’s rulers are not our friends. And we do not wish or should not wish them well. We should wish that their domestic opposition causes them anguish and worry. We should not be happy that the Saudi rulers, or the Egyptian rulers, have found a way — if they have found a way — to stay solidly in power by making sure that Al Qaeda, and all others who wish to participate personally in active Jihad, operate only outside their countries.
If indeed some of the most corrupt and vicious regimes have managed to successfully deal with the “takfir” problem — that is, the problem of one group of Muslims defining another group as “not Muslim” or as “Infidels” who can be treated as Infidels of course can be treated — that is to their advantage, but not to ours. We will only suffer the more. We have a stake in encouraging division and demoralization in the Arab and Muslim world. If our cities are not off-limits to the Jihad, we have a stake in Riyadh and Jiddah and Cairo and Damascus being similarly unsettled. We have a stake in Muslim regimes that cannot be allowed to believe that their domestic opposition will always and everywhere target only the certified Infidels of the West, or only the local non-Muslims. Nothing is said in the article above about managing to convince Al-Qaeda supporters in Egypt to lessen their vicious hostility to non-Muslims, such as the insecure and frightened Copts.
The more secure the Mubarak regime is, the more that dissatisfied Egyptians can no longer take out their dissatisfaction against the regime but are persuaded that their only enemies are, as before, the “Infidels,” the more likely it is that they will, within Egypt, attack the Copts. It is still more likely that they will go off to attack the Infidels elsewhere — perhaps after having been admitted to a Western country as merely a hard-working “economic” immigrant. There are no merely “economic” immigrants among Muslims in Infidel lands; they bring Islam, undeclared, in their mental baggage, and the Infidel governments, like the people they are supposed to be protecting, simply have no understanding of this.
No, for Infidels this news means nothing good, and very likely will make our task, rightly conceived, much harder. And just wait. Just how many breathless articles do you think you will now see from oily Fawaz Gerges, from lean, mean, jogging John Esposito, from that thrusting young academic who seems deplorably to have turned his media party trick (raised as an “Orthodox Jew” but now an “expert on Islam”) into a frequent gig at The Times, Noah Feldman, from Tom Friedman and from Nicholas Kristof, in other words — tutti quanti — about what “hope” this new development offers, and what a magnificent model this is for us, if only we do not listen to “those who preach that there can be no accommodation with Islam” when the turn-around in the minds of former terrorists, by the Egyptian authorities, is…”nothing short of miraculous”?
Oh God. Spare us this kind. But we won’t be spared.