The other day the White House Press Aide Mr. Gibbs described the American effort in the Islamic world as trying to cope with, or to fight, not Islam, not even “those who support Jihad,” but rather, “an idea that has corrupted a religion.” The religion was not given a name, but you are free to guess. And this bland formula was one more variant on the earlier, Bush-era business about those who had “hijacked a great religion.” And it is an improvement, I suppose, on this business of merely describing Islamic jihadists as “violent extremists” who somehow misinterpret their own faith.
Well, I’m not content to leave it at that. I find the statement vague. I want it to be fleshed out, by Mr. Gibbs, or by someone else – possibly John Brennan, Deputy Special Assistant To The President For Homeland Security and Terrorism, or even, just possibly, by President Obama himself.
I want to know what that idea is that has “corrupted the religion” of Islam.
Is it the idea that the Muslims are the “best of peoples”?
Is it the idea that under the Shari’a, the Holy Law of Islam, non-Muslims at best can expect to endure life as dhimmis, that is, as people who are locked into a permanent status that guarantees deliberate humiliation (as in the conditions that accompany the payment of the Jizyah), degradation, and physical insecurity? (See Antoine Fattal, Le status legal des non-musulmanes en pays d’Islam).
Is it the idea that the world belongs to Allah, but that right now, that world which belongs to Allah is divided between those parts where Muslims already rule, the Dar al-Islam (the House, or Domain, of Islam), and Dar al-Harb (the House, or Domain, of War, where Infidels not yet subject to Islam still dominate), and that it is the duty of all Muslims to participate, directly or indirectly, in the Jihad or struggle to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then the dominance, of Islam?
Is it the idea that a state of permanent war, though not always of open warfare, must exist between Believer and Unbeliever, Muslim and Infidel?
Is it the idea that women and non-Muslims are permanently inferior to Muslim males in a well-ordered society, that is, one where the Holy Law of Islam, the Shari’a, prevails?
What is it, exactly, that Mr. Gibbs, and behind Mr. Gibbs the Administration for which he stands, thinks is the “idea that has corrupted a religion,” the “religion” (a Total Belief-System really, which offers a system of Complete Regulation of Life, and is not only a “religion” as we carelessly use that unexamined term, but also a politics and a geopolitics) being Islam?
We all want to know.
And we all want to know, once you have stated that “idea” that has corrupted that religion, what Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Magdi Alam, Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, and many other former Muslims, articulate and well-educated Defectors from the Army of Islam, think of your — Mr. Gibbs’, President Obama’s, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security and Terrorism John Brennan’s, und so weiter — understanding of what Islam inculcates, what Islam, taken straight up and not on the rocks, is all about.
And then we shall be examining what the most authoritative scholars of Islam and of its history wrote about Islam, and what Jihad means, and what the attitude is in Islam toward non-Muslims, and toward the lands of those non-Muslims — beginning but not ending with Goldziher, Schacht, Snouck Hurgronje, Jeffrey, Lammens, Lal, Vajda, St. Clair Tisdall, Vryonis, Dadrian, and many dozens of others who wrote in the period 1870-1970, before the Great Inhibition set in. They spent decades learning the necessary languages, and then devoting decades of their lives to disinterested study.
And then, all of us by now – you, and me, and Mr. Gibbs, and Mr. Brennan, and Mr. Obama, and the entire American public – can, instead of being content with vague vaporings about those who would “hijack” or “corrupt” or do something unspeakable to “one of the world’s great religions,” intelligently discuss what it is that Islam contains, what its texts say, what its tenets require, and how it is that some Muslims participate one way in Jihad, and some another way. We can discuss how some Muslims — for how long we do not know, and cannot predict – appear not to wish themselves to engage in Jihad, out of all kinds of calculations that also need to be examined, studied, discussed.
And then we can all, with our government having helped to instruct us (or we having helped in some cases to instruct our government) can all talk about it, and compare notes, and then, one assumes, come to some conclusions as to those who utter such things as this:
“We are not at war with a religion but an idea which has corrupted a religion.”
And it is not only that we have to stop being content, or letting those who in the government presume to instruct and protect us, with this kind of vagueness. We also want the press, radio, and television to stop using such bland vacuities as “they were radicalized” or “they underwent a process of radicalization” without explaining to us what that means. What does it mean, Pontificators United Of The Mighty Editorial Board of The New York Times? How can we stop the “radicalization” of Muslims, or even know how to detect it, if no one tells us as they speak confidently to us about this stuff and about the “corruption of a religion”? That religion, apparently, when not corrupted is perfectly innocuous in its texts and tenets, and in the attitudes and atmospherics of societies suffused with that “religion” or better, faith, or better still, Total Belief-System.
Don’t we have a right to know? Haven’t we been forced to spend three trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more squandering to come, on a notion that Islam and Muslims are just fine if we support them, if we rescue them from their own wretchedness (a wretchedness that is a result of Islam itself, and so will remain as long as Islam remains, and is not constrained by a local ataturk)? I have waited, you have waited, we have all waited here and at similar websites or simply out in the great world. We have continued to wonder just what passages have been interpolated into the Qur’an and then relied on, as part of the “corrupting of a religion” strategy, to inveigle the naÃ¯ve and ill-informed Muslim to believe that this is the real Islam, when anyone knows that of course it can’t be. If it were, well then, we really would be in a difficult situation, requiring an entirely new way of looking at things, and certainly not relying on a strategy of building up Muslim armies and police forces and countries in order to make those countries immune to the siren-song of those “corrupters of Islam” we must defeat.
But there are so many different terrorist groups, not only the mediagenic Al Qaeda that gets far too much attention, but also Lashkar-e-Toiba, and Hamas, and Hezbollah, and Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Sunna Al-Islam, and dozens of similar groups. Their local habitations and names can be confusing, but it hardly matters, for they are all able to inveigle people, to “radicalize” Muslims in exactly the same way. That means that they must be using exactly the same authorities, the same made-up Qur’anic passages, the same concocted-for-the-occasion Hadith, the same absurd stories that someone just recently wrote about Muhammad, the Perfect Man, al-insan al-kamil, to convince Muslims they must behave in a way particularly dangerous for the existence of Infidel societies and peoples.
I don’t know how long the Obama Administration, or the one to follow it, can carry on this farce. I don’t know if they realize that, when they utter nonsense about the matter of Islam and Jihad, they lose whatever residual respect they still have among large numbers of people, not necessarily right-wing tea-partying holy-rolling [your favorite dismissive and to some, clichÃ©s can be put right here] people, but those who have gone to the trouble not to accept the comforting pieties that are being offered, but have, on their own, examined the evidence that accumulates as to Muslim attitudes and behavior. They lose the respect of those who have read and re-read the texts and studied the 1350-year history of Islamic conquest of non-Muslim lands, and the subjugation of many non-Muslim peoples, and have listened to the Defectors from the Army of Islam. And the more those people educate themselves, the more obvious is the nonsensical quality of the kind of thing that Mr. Gibbs, and those for whom he serves as mouthpiece, offered the other day, when he declared – keep it mind, memorize it, mock it to kingdom come – that we are fighting, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Somalia, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, in Iran, and on the streets of London and Bradford, Paris and Marseille, in Antwerp and Amsterdam, not the adherents of the true, the good, the beautiful Islam, but rather, those who have come to believe in a false “idea that has corrupted a religion.”
One last time, Mr. Gibbs, so there is no ambiguity or room for more vaporings.
What is that “idea”?
We just have to know.