Robert Spencer remarked here that “misunderstanders of Islam can even be imams…”
That is true. Even imams can get the idea, forbidden for non-Muslims to hold, that Islam counsels warfare. Even ayatollahs and sheiks al-azhar can be misunderstanders of Islam. Yes, so many Muslims all over the world, from southern Thailand to southern Sudan to southern France to southern Michigan, can be misunderstanders of Islam. And the madrasas and seminaries are apparently having great difficulty clearing those little misunderstandings up.
Deeply learned theologian of Shi’a Islam he may have been, but even the Ayatollah Khomeini, judging by the quotation below, was a Misunderstander of Islam:
“Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world. . . . But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world. . . . Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]”¦. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”
But Khomeini was a misunderstander. “Former Islamist” Ed Husain, in a recent debate with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, “argued that he escaped the hold militants had on him as a young man by exploring his Muslim faith more deeply and finding different interpretations. He argued the key to de-radicalizing people lay in the religion itself.”
Ed Husain’s “different interpretations” business may work for him — but work for him to believe in what? Apparently, that “terrorism” is a bad idea. But not that Islam is a bad idea, tout court, or that, more importantly, that the idea of Jihad, a Jihad perhaps conducted by non-violent means, to spread Islam until it everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule everywhere, still would give us the bleak result we wish to avoid. For Islam is against most forms of artistic expression — statuary, paintings of living things, music. It is against the free and skeptical inquiry upon which the enterprise of science depends. It is a collectivist faith, and refuses to recognize the rights of individuals — compare the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with its “Islamic” version, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights. It justifies, and codifies, the mistreatment of Muslim women and of all non-Muslims under Muslim rule.
The Ed Husains of this world are not as great an advance as their sponsors and promoters appear to think. For they encourage non-Muslims to believe that they can continue to behave as if it is not core teachings of Islam that are the problem, but merely this or that “interpretation” of Islam, and that Ed Husain, who can hardly be expected to have much impact, or to prevail against the good doctors of Al-Azhar and Qom, hardly be expected to win over a billion people who know, and are constantly re-taught, what is in Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira.
A false hope, and the wrong hope, and therefore — a dangerous hope.
Stick with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Wafa Sultan. Accept no substitutes, no matter how nice they are or may seem to be. Perhaps the Muslims who seek an answer in jettisoning the Sunnah (e.g., Mustafa Akyol) or finding a benign interpretation of the Islamic texts are not attempting to fool Infidels, but merely, out of desperate confusion and embarrassment over Islam, are fooling themselves. Perhaps they are unable to bring themselves, out of filial piety, to see Islam as it is and has been. That is their problem, and they will have to deal with it. It should not be ours.