In FrontPage this morning I discuss the new policy on Islamic terrorism, same as the old policy on Islamic terrorism:
Barack Obama has removed all mention of Islam from the National Security Strategy document, which during the Bush Administration said: “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century.” Obama apparently agrees with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said Monday: “Islam and terrorism cannot be mentioned together, because they are contradictory to each other.”
Erdogan, incidentally, also famously said this about “moderate Islam”: “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” And that statement itself demonstrates one of the key fallacies of the Obama Administration’s stance that Islam has nothing to do with, uh, Islamic terrorism.
Now that the idea that Islam and terrorism have anything to do with one another has been relegated to the dustbin of history, it’s worth asking why anyone got this idea in the first place. Was it sheer bigotry? Racism? Let’s see. Could it have been from Osama bin Laden, who once praised Allah for the Qur’an’s “Verse of the Sword” (9:5), which instructs Muslims to “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them”? Or maybe it was from Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who once thundered: “Islam says: Kill in the service of Allah those who may want to kill you!…There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths [sayings of the prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”
Maybe it was from the British Muslim Omar Brooks, who said in 2005 that it was imperative for Muslims to “instill terror into the hearts of the kuffar” and added: “I am a terrorist. As a Muslim of course I am a terrorist.” Or maybe it was from the Qur’an itself, which tells Muslims to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (8:60). Maybe it was from the perpetrators of the 15,000-plus terror attacks committed in the name of Islam since 9/11.
But a recent conference of Islamic scholars in Mardin, Turkey, has given apparent intellectual heft to the Obama/Erdogan contention. Discussing a fourteenth-century fatwa by the Islamic scholar Ibn Taymiyya, a favorite of contemporary Islamic jihadists, the scholars declared: “anyone who seeks support from this fatwa for killing Muslims or non-Muslims has erred in his interpretation and has misapplied the revealed texts.”
That sounds great. It is unequivocal. But what it is unequivocal about is the use of Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa to justify killing Muslims or non-Muslims. It unequivocally declares that illegitimate. It does not declare illegitimate the killing of Muslims or non-Muslims itself.
I am not saying that these scholars did not mean to condemn the killing of Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of Islam. Maybe they did. But they did not do so by condemning the use of Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa, for there are plenty of other Islamic sources that justify the killing of unbelievers.