The cognitive dissonance between what these students say and what I hear from Muslim students on university campuses in the U.S. is enormous. These students openly acknowledge the Islamic imperative of violent jihad; on American campuses, Muslim students profess outrage and wounded indignation, exhorting me to “Stop the Hate” and pretending that I made up this Islamic imperative, and that it doesn’t really exist at all. But if they consider Muslims such as the students at the Darusy Syahadah Islamic school — and those who taught them — to be twisting Islam and distorting its teachings, why is it that they never seem to do anything within the Islamic community to fight the spread of these teachings, but instead reserve all their ire for me simply for pointing out that many Muslims understand Islam to be exhorting them to violence and supremacism?
I’ve asked this question innumerable times, of course, and never gotten an answer, because there is no answer. Or rather, there is only one answer, and it is obvious, but Islamic groups in the U.S. still seem to be banking on the majority of Americans not noticing, or caring about, this obvious answer and its implications.
“Islamic students praise Bali bombers,” from AFP, October 26 (thanks to JE):
FOR the skullcapped students of the Darusy Syahadah Islamic school there is no question that the three radical jihadis behind the 2002 Bali bombings are heroes.
Sheltering from the equatorial sun on the steps of the school’s mosque, the students crowd to offer their approval of bombers Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra.
Authorities say the three bombers will face the firing squad by early November for their role in the attack, which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
“They’re holy warriors, that’s how I respond, they’re holy warriors,” said Sir Muhammad Royhan Syihabuddin Ar-Rohmi, a slight 18-year-old.
His friend Nawawi, also 18, leaned forward in agreement: “They are like us, they wanted to do good deeds.”
Good deeds, i.e., killing 200 infidels.
With its peeling buildings, stray sheep and low-hanging mango trees, Darusy Syahadah in Central Java has long been a key hub for recruitment and indoctrination in the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militant network, experts say.
While authorities have wound up JI cells and killed and imprisoned key militants, JI-linked Islamic boarding schools across Indonesia have been left to spread the network’s radical ideology.
If a new generation of JI bombers were to emerge, it would be from schools like this. Alumni include Salik Firdaus, a suicide bomber who obliterated himself in the 2005 Bali bombing that killed 20 people.
If the Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslimsâ„¢ really deplored the jihad ideology, as everyone from George Bush and Colin Powell to students at the MSA’s around the country at colleges where I have been speaking would have us believe, it would be reasonable to assume that their highest priority, or one of their highest priorities, would be to educate their own people against it. After all, if “a new generation of JI bombers were to emerge, it would be from schools like this,” it is because the teachers at the the Darusy Syahadah Islamic school are teaching their students the propriety of killing or subjugating unbelievers. This is an ideology that is spread by education. Yet nowhere in the world — not in the U.S., not anywhere else — is there any counter-pedagogical effort by self-professed anti-terror Muslims.
However, analysts say the picture is not quite that simple.
Hurt by the police crackdown and facing public disgust over bombings, JI is deeply split, said Sidney Jones, a JI expert at the International Crisis Group think-tank.
A small minority faction behind fugitive Malaysian Noordin Mohammed Top still supports and is working towards bombing local and foreign targets, she said.
The other more numerous faction, dominating the schools, continues to glorify jihad, or holy war, but many of its members have been influenced by a government “deradicalisation” strategy that has helped halt attacks.
“I think the schools are still problematic, they are inculcating the idea of the glory of jihad. But there isn’t a jihad to fight now,” Jones said.
“The question is: what will these graduates be doing five to 10 years from now?”
Finding a jihad to fight, of course, and one that will probably end up being on the doorstep of many people who today are insisting that Islam is a Religion of Peaceâ„¢ and that those who are concerned about massive Muslim immigration into the West are just bigots and racists.
For Mustaqim, the principal of Darusy Syahadah, the watchword is preparation.
The school encourages exercise and self-defence and aims to strengthen and defend Islam, said Mustaqim, sporting white robes, a wispy beard and bruises on his forehead from frequent prayer.
“It says in the Koran that infidels will strengthen each other and wage a war of falsehood. We have been instructed to strengthen Islam against falsehood,” he said.
That’s rich, given how the entire edifice of Islam in the West is built on falsehood — a well thought-out, carefully orchestrated campaign of falsehood, that meets with furious indignation and cries of “bigotry” anyone who dares to examine the stated motives and goals of the jihadists.
On suicide bombings against civilians – the hallmark of Noordin’s faction – Mustaqim stressed that the aim is noble but the methods incorrect.
“In the methods (Noordin) has taken, we’re not on the same path. Methods, that’s what I’m talking about, methods,” emphasised Mustaqim, whose wife is the sister of Ubeid, a JI militant jailed for helping the fugitive Noordin.
Methods, that’s what he’s talking about, methods. Yet in the U.S. Lawrence Wright wrote a much-lauded piece in the New Yorker about how some jihadists were changing their methods, and innumerable commentators, conservatives and liberals alike, could scarcely contain their excitement: Muslims were denouncing al-Qaeda! The Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslimsâ„¢ was finally asserting itself! The end of the War On Terror was at hand!
It never seemed to occur to these learned analysts that all that was being discussed was a change of methods, not of goals, as was patently clear from Wright’s piece itself, although even Wright seemed to miss it. But since they have been focused on methods (terrorism) rather than goals (Sharia supremacism) all along, they missed this one also.
There are indeed peaceful Muslims, and there are indeed some among those who aren’t interested in waging any kind of jihad. They either don’t know or don’t care about the imperative to struggle against unbelievers. They may have what they consider to be better things to do. Of course, such people are everywhere being challenged by Muslims who insist that they represent pure and true Islam, and that those who are not waging jihad are not good Muslims. Such people, being indifferent to or ignorant of these matters, are not going to stand up against the jihadists, and the jihadists regard them as a large recruiting field.
There is a very small group of Muslims who are actively trying to reform these Islamic imperatives, but don’t kid yourself: it is a very small group, and not an influential one. The group of Muslims who feign indignation when non-Muslims discuss the jihad ideology, and who claim never to have heard of such a thing or that it is a heretical version of Islam cooked up by a Tiny Minority of Extremistsâ„¢ — they are much more numerous. They are dangerous, also, because they fool so very many people.
Outside the mosque, student Nawawi said it was “up to God” whether he would follow the example set by the Bali bombers.
“Not everyone has to follow them,” he said.
He is quite right. In Islamic theology there are many ways to aid the jihad. Nawawi can wage the jihad of the tongue or the pen, or the jihad of the pocketbook. He may also be referring, although this is unlikely, to the fact that in classic Islamic theology jihad warfare is fard kifaya, an obligation of the community as a whole but not of every individual believer. Jihad becomes fard ayn, obligatory on every individual Muslim to aid in some way, when a Muslim land is attacked. I say that it is unlikely that he was referring to that distinction because jihadists today generally argue that Muslim lands have been attacked, and that therefore jihad is fard ayn. On the other hand, he may be referring specifically to Bali, where it would be hard to argue that a Muslim land has been attacked.
At the al-Mukmin boarding school founded by alleged JI spiritual head Abu Bakar Bashir in the nearby town of Ngruki, the bombers are honoured but opinions are similarly mixed.
About 1,600 students attend classes in rooms bedecked with cardboard cutouts of assault rifles and posters extolling the virtues of “martyrdom”.
Cardboard cutouts of assault rifles in a religious school. Yet no Muslim who gets so indignant at me seems to be upset about this. Now, why is that? Is it really so unclear?
Sitting on the floor of his lounge in the school grounds, the acid-tongued Bashir blamed the main 2002 blast on a CIA “micro-nuclear” device fired from a ship off the Balinese coast.
“The bomb Amrozi set off, the first one, at most it shattered glass and didn’t wound people, or at most wounded them a little,” he said.
”(The bombers) struggled in that way, not as terror, but with the aim of defending Islam, which is being terrorised by America and its friends … they are counter-terrorists, not terrorists,” he said.
Remember that one the next time you hear a Muslim say that he condemns “terrorism,” without defining his terms.
But al-Mukmin school principal Wahyudin said the bombers’ indiscriminate bombing of nightclubs on the island was a disproportionate response to the global oppression of Muslims.
“What I can fault is that Bali is not a conflict area, it’s not an area of war. Although we can say there certainly were enemies there, there were also non-enemies. That has to be avoided. That was a mistake there,” he said.
What Wahyudin is saying is that jihad violence is fine in a conflict area, but not in an area in which there are present in significant numbers people who are not considered to be at war with Islam. But he has no problem with the concept of violent jihad in principle.