Over at PJ Media today Barry Rubin interviews me about my new book Did Muhammad Exist? and other matters:
RUBIN: What is the basic aim of the Jihad Watch site and of your books?
SPENCER: The aim of all my work is to alert the public in the United
States and around the world about the nature and magnitude of the jihad
threat, with particular attention to the aspect of the threat that has
been most obfuscated and obscured: its motives, goals, and root causes,
as explained by the jihadis themselves. At Jihad Watch I post on a daily
basis news stories showing jihad activity, both violent and stealthy,
in the U.S. and worldwide. In my books I explore aspects of the issue in
detail, most notably the chief motivating factors named by jihadis
themselves: the Qur’an and the example of Muhammad, the prophet of
RUBIN: How have your books fit together to portray the broad picture of the issues you are engaging with?
SPENCER: In eleven books now I”ve covered the nature of the jihadist
challenge to the Free World from a variety of angles. The principal
books explore the life of Muhammad, showing why jihadis see him as a
model and guide (The Truth About Muhammad); the texts of the Qur’an that incite Muslims to violence and hatred (The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran); the comparative capacity of Christianity and Islam to incite believers to violence (Religion of Peace?); the non-violent initiatives to assert elements of Islamic law in the West (Stealth Jihad); the jihad doctrine and how it is being put into practice in the modern world (Onward Muslim Soldiers).
I”ve also written an introduction to the elements of Islam that make it
problematic in the West, and a survey of the most celebrated episode of
the “clash of civilizations” (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)), as well as my new book, an examination of the historical value of the writings I explored in The Truth About Muhammmad: Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins. With Pamela Geller I cowrote The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America.
The person who reads all these books would have, I believe, a
comprehensive understanding of the motives and goals of jihadists and
Islamic supremacists, as well as of the aspects of Islam that give rise
to violence, terror, and supremacism, and the uniqueness of those
aspects to Islam itself as compared to other religions.
RUBIN: What are the main reasons you think it is so hard for
Western policymakers, journalists, and academics to understand and deal
accurately with Islam and political Islamic movements?
SPENCER: I think the main reason is that Islam is a religion. If it
were a secular political ideology, many non-Muslims who support it now
would have no problem opposing its authoritarian and supremacist
aspects, its denial of the freedom of speech and freedom of conscience,
its oppression of women and non-Muslims, and more. But Islamic advocacy
groups in the U.S. have been canny in obscuring Islam’s political
aspects, and in portraying efforts to resist political and supremacist
Islam as infringements upon Muslims” religious freedom. They have also
deftly appropriated the language of the civil rights movement and
portrayed Muslims as victims, despite the ever-mounting number of jihad
attacks and plots “” and victim language always causes the American Left
to swoon and fall at one’s feet.
RUBIN: How would you analyze the connection between political
Islamism and Islam as a religion? Are there also contradictions between
SPENCER: I don’t see any contradiction. There has never been any
historically. Islam as a religion has never been separate from or
distinct from Islam as a political program until 1924 when the secular
Turkish regime abolished the caliphate, and that event is seen by those
who claim the mantle of Islamic orthodoxy and authenticity worldwide as a
grave insult, an error that must be corrected, a drastic weakening of
and outrage to Islam that they are working to eradicate. Moreover,
Islamic apologists, even reputed “moderates,” frequently point to the
fact that Islam traditionally has no distinction between the sacred and
the secular, i.e., between religion and politics, as evidence of its
comprehensiveness and hence superiority over the Western Judeo-Christian
societal model that limits the influence of religion in the political
sphere. The idea that there is an “Islamism” that is some sort of
variant of or deviation from or corruption of Islam proper, which in
this view is a religion solely, enjoining peace and universal
brotherhood and having no political or supremacist agenda, is a fiction
born of Western wishful thinking and ignorance.
RUBIN: In what ways do academics respond to your works?
SPENCER: People of a particular political and academic perspective
that is opposed to mine dominate the study of Islam and related issues
in academia today. People who hold to my views generally can’t get jobs
in colleges and universities today. That said, however, I am confident
of my ground and ready to defend my views in any forum. While
politically correct and compromised academics such as Carl Ernst, John
Esposito, Juan Cole, Omid Safi, and Caner K. Dagli heap scorn upon my
work, they do not and cannot show where it is incorrect, and have
declined my invitations to debate. I have no doubt that if any of them
ever accepted the invitation we would see immediately the real reason
why they were reluctant to debate in the first place.