One of the ways, paradoxically, to deny or minimize the threat of Islam is to focus only on the Qur’an, and then on selective quotation from the handful of verses that appear to reassure, not threaten. There is 2.256 (“no compulsion in religion”) and 5.32 (an injunction against murder) without the considerable modifying of that verse by 5.33 (with all its many exceptions to the injunction). And the Qur’an, while dangerous, may not be the most dangerous text in Islam. It is the Sunnah, consisting of both the Hadith and the Sira — the record of what the earliest Muslims did in Araby, with its hero Muhammad, that may be just as dangerous. For it is the Sunnah that creates the figure of Muhammad.
The stories of what Muhammad said and did, as set down in the Hadith (Traditions), and in his biography, the Sira, offer the view of the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil), the Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), and one that most of us find quite different from that of Jesus or Buddha. In Islam, the true object of worship is Islam itself, and the central figure of Islam is not Allah, but Muhammad. The morality of Islam is the morality of Muhammad. And that is to be found in the Sunnah, which for many Muslims is at least as important, and in some cases appears to be more important for the regulation of daily life, than the Qur’an itself.
When someone like Mustafa Akyol, young Turkish “reformer,” calls for “sola scriptura,” he means: forget the Sunnah and stick to the Qur’an, just as the Protestants did with the Bible, pruned of all excrescences. Akyol surely has recognized the greater dangers arising from the Sunnah. There are two problems with his prescription: first, it is unlikely that more than a handful of Muslims will agree to ignore the Sunnah; second, the Qur’an itself serves as a manual of war, so ignoring the Sunnah isn’t enough. But still, one Western means of denial is to act as if only the Qur’an exists, and we need not worry about the ways that devout Muslims attempt to follow the Sunnah, and the Example of Muhammad, to the letter. Yet Islamic websites are full of discussions of fine points of how to conduct the most minute aspects of everyday life, following Muhammad; reading them can give one a glimpse into the habit of total submission that characterizes Islam as a Total System. Part of the “strategy of denial” by Muslims when confronted with, for example, accusations over the murder of blasphemers, is to refer only to the Qur’an (“that’s not in the Qur’an” is a common defense by Muslims, and not always untrue); what’s in the Sunnah goes unmentioned.
The importance of the Sunnah has been noted, at this website, and in books and articles of all kinds. But that understanding has not reached the Pentagon, the State Department, Congress, or the White House, to judge by public statements, where the willful ignorance, or even celebration of Islam continues to subsist, despite all the contrary evidence, sometimes by ignoring the texts, and sometimes by mentioning only the Qur’an, and limiting quotation of that book to the usual handful of benign-sounding passages: 2.256, 5.32 without 5.33.
When I left off the other day, I had started by noting that Islamic texts were available for Western inspection and study, and not only to scholars, but to anyone who could attain the same intellectual level of of more than a billion believers. Yet that inspection and study of the texts have not taken place as one would have hoped, among the political class in the West, and among journalists, whatever their political orientation. And one wonders why. Is it truly a question of not having the time? Or, possibly, of the busy politician having assigned the task to “find out about Islam” to staff members and aides, who are young, and therefore not used to reading at length, but rather used to composing executive summaries with bullet points? These staffers will find Islamic texts especially forbidding because of both the subject matter and all those strange words (how do you keep straight “isnad chain” and Sahih Bukhari and uswa hasana and fiqh?) that converts find so appealing, but that non-Muslims find merely confusing, like those long names in Russian novels.
There is no excuse, when such works as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and others aimed at a mass audience, that lucidly set out Islamic doctrine in a way that anyone can understand, are readily available. And how hard is it to keep in mind the basic minimum: that the Qur’an is uncreated and immutable, so those who think it can be changed to create a “moderate Islam” are whistling in the dark; and that the Qur’an is full of Jihad verses that inculcate hatred and violence toward non-Muslims? It is fortunate that so many Muslims ignore those verses, but the verses yet remain, active for some, dormant for others, with non-Muslims unable to guess who will take the violence and hatred to heart, and who, for now and in the future, will not. People in power have shown they are not eager to study the texts, prefer to ignore them, and instead to substitute their own experience, of charming Muslims whom they have met, which now include colleagues and neighbors, and of course the Arab diplomats in Washington still offering lavish meals and largesse. This goes a long way to camouflaging the truth, diverting eyes from the texts.
When we learn, for example, that Muslims are taught to regard Muhammad as the Perfect Man, shouldn’t we want to find out what he did, or had done, to such of his critics as Ka’b bin Ashraf or Asma bint Marwan? What makes him perfect in Muslim eyes? Then we realize that he is simply a priori perfect, and everything he does constitutes Muslim morality, to be emulated, without any independent consideration of its morality outside of Islam, which is a closed system.
When others in the anti-Islamic brigade straightforwardly quote from the Hadiths to explain current examples of Muslim punishment (and not only by the Islamic State) of blasphemy, why are they ignored, or belittled, when it is they who have the texts on their side? The morality of Islam is the moral code of Muhammad, as revealed mainly in the Hadith. So one strategy of denial by Muslims is to keep referring to the Qur’an alone, when talking to non-Muslims. Non-Muslim unwillingness to consider in detail the contents of the Hadith may be a sign of simple over-business, or of a fear of what they, the non-Muslims, will discover and be forced to recognize. Is there no time for Obama or Kerry or Senators to familiarize themselves with these texts through such cogent presentations as those by Spencer, and not just in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)? It’s remarkable how many people still refuse to read about Islam. The testimonies of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq are never bestsellers; only the first has become widely known. The formidable academic studies by Bat Ye’or sell in the thousands, and for a time have been out of print; they do not appear on college syllabi. The public has spoken: it does not want to learn too much about Islam, the major geopolitical subject of the age. This reinforces the denial offered by Muslims. How many of us can stand to hear the full bleak truth about anything? Many are happy to stop up their ears.
But could this determined ignorance, this eagerness not to find out, reflect something else as well? To return to those young Congressional staff members, could it be that with their bullet points and executive summaries to prepare, they just don’t want to rock any boats, don’t want to alarm others in the office or, even worse, offend the boss by making him aware of troubling information, or possibly even embarrassing him with evidence of his own past ignorance? Imagine a Representative who for years now has been making statements about the wonderful Muslim addition to our national fabric. A Senator Leahy type. He might have made those remarks offhandedly, without knowing much, not really caring. But now what happens when a young person on his staff studies up, and finds out how wrong his boss has been? Would he dare to tell him that the textual evidence shows he’s been wrong all along? There are certainly Senators and Congressmen willing to admit error, but I haven’t seen a large-scale shift, publicly expressed, by those who, late in the day, may just now be willing to speak truthfully about Islam. And would you risk his ire if you are “anti-Islam” too early? Look at the American Conservative Union, or the Democratic Party. How many candidates have refused to say anything negative about Islam for so long? That’s changing, of course, in the Republican party primary, as the evidence mounts. Cruz and Jindal are truth-tellers. But how damnable that it has taken so long.
And here is another thought. What if, in that Congressional office, there were a handful of Muslims. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the presence of even one Muslim can inhibit the discussion at the meeting of a history faculty, or of Congressional staff members, or even among the members of a law firm. Imagine, for example, that you work for a Congressman who, possibly because of the district he represents, now employs some Muslims in his office. They are personable. You are human, you don’t want word to get out that you are that nasty exception who thinks that “there is a problem with Islam,” which means you are willing to offend Muslims. That may spur retaliation or bad feeling. So your voice, like the voices of others, is muted, for people don’t want to talk or say something that could possibly be misinterpreted as endorsing a “hater” such as Spencer, or Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-American who, like so many apostates from Islam, can be dismissed as someone who is “just like an ex-Catholic, so bitter” — a ridiculous description, but one that some will find plausible, as if all apostates were equally resentful. As if Hirsi Ali were some East African version of Madelyn Murray O’Hair.
Not everyone works in an office or in a firm or in a faculty department with Muslims, and many are able to speak their mind. But good manners prevail; fear of being misinterpreted — the word “racist” is so often flung about — keeps in place the non-Muslim denial of reality. I would have thought everyone in America would be studying Islam by now. It turns out very few are; this site is not representative, but remains one of the outposts. How many at home engage in this study? Not even one out of 380 million. Those who are eager to research the latest toaster, computer program, Smartphone, will not visit sites about Islam. They just want to keep denying, to themselves, what is staring them in the face. The analyses offered by scholars, especially those writing before 1970, or reports by travellers to Muslim lands, or by the statesmen (Tocqueville, John Quincy Adams) who interested themselves in the question of Islam, the testimony by ex-Muslims — it’s all at exceptional sites such as this, and those who visit it may not realize how many others spend their time finding reasons not to believe in the malevolence and threat of Islam. This didn’t happen with Communism; it’s the idea of Islam as a “faith” that constitutes Islam’s first line of defense — see Bishop McManus, so solicitous of maintaining good relations with Muslim neighbors — and if Islam can be attacked, won’t other faiths suffer as well? That’s why the Interfaith Healing Racket goes on; the defenders of Islam are ludicrous but undiminished. Many ministers and priests and rabbis think they have a stake in defending Islam.
That so many have allowed themselves to be so willfully incurious, so reluctant to find out about what Islam inculcates, and about the attitudes and behavior that Muslims exhibit that are not the result of “extremism” – a word never defined – but rather of orthodox, mainstream teachings of Islam based on texts that anyone can read, is humanly understandable. The Muslim migrants who have been allowed to settle deep behind what they themselves are taught to regard as enemy lines, now living in Infidel lands, surrounded by Infidels, are unafraid to keep making — more in Europe than in the U.S. — aggressive demands for changes in the social arrangements and understandings, and in the legal and political institutions, of the Infidel nation-states in which they live, the very nation-states that have so innocently welcomed them and lavished upon them every benefit that generous welfare states (those benefits paid for, almost entirely, by non-Muslim taxpayers) provide. Think just of France, and the demand that the laic state permit hijabs and halal food in schools, make Islam a required subject in the curriculum, and eliminate other subjects such as medieval Christianity (this is the recent proposal of Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, causing howls of rage). All of this suggests a desire not to integrate, but to transform and dominate the host society. Yet the non-Muslim denialists (e.g., French Socialist Manuel Valls), for their own sanity, still maintain that unemployment and poverty, not the aggressive ideology of Islam, are the “root causes” of Muslim misbehavior.
Because each Muslim demand can be made to appear reasonable by itself, it is their totality that has to be examined. Are the Chinese and Hindus and Vietnamese and Andean Indians making demands as to what should be taught, or not taught, in schools, infringing on the laic state through public flaunting of the law, demanding special treatment of all kinds? Only one group in France, or in Europe, does this: Muslims. But even if the Freedom Party of Geert Wilders, and the National Front in France, now openly discuss the Islamic threat, there are still in the main parties (such as Sarkozy’s “Republicains”) many who are unwilling to see what is in front of them, and employ their own mental strategies of denial — based on a desire to remain ignorant, out of the constant fear of what happens if non-Muslims recognize the truth. They are frozen in fear. There are so many Muslims in their midst: what can they do, if they recognize what the ideology of Islam really is? “Frozen in fear” describes so much of the non-Muslim scene.
Despite the battering rams of the few intrepid blogs, the gates of resistance to recognizing the nature of Islam remain. That is, denial is possible as long as the texts of Islam remain largely unexamined, so try not to learn, make sure you don’t find out. If you do, you might go mad. Thus do non-Muslims themselves end up denying what Islam inculcates. It’s the most extraordinary spectacle, seen high and low.
In the United States, the New York Times coverage of Muslim atrocities seldom links the act — look at the reports on Nidal Hasan or Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — to the texts used to justify them. At this site, one can say: this act was perfectly Islamic, and that one too, but not in the wider world of mass journalism. And yet many are now coming to that same understanding, and the Republican primary includes a half-dozen now perfectly ready to speak the truth about Islam.
As a recent example of the denial practiced by so many, see the recent New Yorker report on the Chapel Hill murders, billed as “The Anatomy of a Hate Crime.” It’s CAIR publicity in a major magazine. The author reports on, but minimizes, the history of the Chapel Hill killer’s many instances of parking-spot rage, directed equally at non-Muslims, too. Most of the piece is about the wonderfulness of the Muslim victims, and the fact that Hicks, the killer, surely was inflamed by the site of hijabs (asserted without the slightest evidence). And then the author goes on to describe how splendidly the murders were exploited, in a nice way, by Muslims, who then engaged in showy good works, proving apparently that they are good neighbors and good Americans, and all in all, it was a wonderful occasion, the author says unsardonically, usefully exploited by Muslims in America. The piece’s title contains the words “Hate Crime.” But there was no hate crime; no one except Muslims thinks that. Nonetheless, this is how the New Yorker tries to force the rest of us to think of it. It’s a small but most depressing example of the denial of another kind of reality — not about Muslim doctrine, but about non-Muslim behavior — in order to make us see Muslims as victims.
Isn’t all this feelgood fluffery simply another way to convince audiences that there is nothing fundamentally different about Islam; it will become, or is already, a welcome new addition to the American scene, and you don’t have to know more than the Islam of the apologists, such as that best-selling Karen Armstrong, whose Islam is still, maddeningly, a favorite of book clubs. The Muslims have their own explaining-away methods — Taqiyya and Tu Quoque — by way of answering critics, but at this point, they have no need. Non-Muslims are doing all the work for them. Until now, Islam has successfully defended itself in the war over its image within the West, and very dark days are ahead. Demography is destiny; Islam’s adherents are all over the place, having been let in because no one thought they should or could be stopped. Laziness, wanting to be liked or not disliked, fear of finding out, all had prevented the study of Islam. Now we, in America and Europe, are living with the results.