After every attack by Muslim terrorists, Muslims, and many non-Muslim apologists for Islam, insist that “these attacks cannot possibly have anything to do with Islam.” But now, after the attack in Medina, a new mantra is being chanted, which is that these attacks have something to do with Islam because they constitute “an attack on Islam.”
The U.N. human rights chief, for example, a member of the Jordanian royal family, called the suicide bombing outside the Prophet Mohammad’s Mosque in the Saudi city of Medina “an attack on Islam itself.” He was echoed by others, including the tireless Muslim propagandist Haroon Moghul, who wrote that the “Medina attack is an assault on Islam itself.” Still others have lumped the Saudi attacks in with those in Baghdad and Dhaka, claiming that in these attacks of the last few weeks “Muslims have been the main victims.” (In a purely arithmetical sense, given the 200 killed in Baghdad, that may be – misleadingly – true). My, how quick so many of us are to sow or reap confusion.
Let’s try to keep clear and distinct what each of these attacks was targeting.
The first thing to do is not to allow ourselves to forget what the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka was all about. Beyond any confusion or doubt, it was an attack solely on non-Muslims. These were selected, by their killers, through the administration of a macabre quiz about the Qur’an. Those who, among the patrons and staff, showed sufficient knowledge of the Qur’an, were spared, and were even treated solicitously by the attackers, who made sure they were fed, while those who could not pass it were identified as non-Muslims, and tortured and killed.
Indeed, the attackers appear to have suggested to those they had spared that they should try to be just like themselves, they who had been busily torturing and killing 20 men and women, as the very models of “good Muslims” that others should emulate:
“When they realised that troops might storm the building, they came to our room one last time and told us not to tarnish the name of Islam, be a good Muslim and uphold the pride of Islam. They said they had no intention of hurting us as we were Muslims.”
Whatever place it may have attained in the annals of grotesque cruelty, what happened at the Holey Artisan restaurant did not constitute an “attack on Muslims.”
After Dhaka, it was bombs away in Baghdad, set off in the mainly Shi’a Karada neighborhood, killing nearly 200 people. Was this an “attack on Islam,” as some Western apologists for Islam have claimed? (Sunni Muslims are noticeably silent on the attacks aimed at Shi’a, and are careful not to claim that such attacks are an “attack on Islam itself.”) No, those bombs were targeted at Karada precisely because the Shi’a, in the view of the energetic takfiris of ISIS, are not real Muslims at all. And it is not just the Sunnis of ISIS, but other Sunnis, too, who share that view.
We must not forget that according to these Sunnis, the Shi’a are “Rafidite dogs” (from “rafida” – “rejectionists”), so called because they reject the legitimacy of three of the caliphs — Abu Bakr, Umar, and Uthman — who followed Muhammad, insisting instead that the only legitimate successor to Muhammad was Ali. This is the main, but not the only difference between Shi’a and Sunnis. The most extreme Sunnis regard the Shi’a as even worse than Christians and Jews. An ISIS spokesman put it this way in 2015: “The greatest answer to this question [are the Shi’a worse than Christians and Jews] is in the Qur’an, where Allah speaks about the nearby enemy – those Muslims who have become infidels – as they are more dangerous than those which were already infidels.” ISIS has been ferocious in its nonstop denunciation of the Shi’a. In the 13th edition of the ISIS magazine Dabiq, for example, the main article is entitled The Rafidah: From Ibn Saba’ to the Dajjal; this article contains “pages of violent rhetoric directed against Shiites,” who it claims are “more severely dangerous and more murderous…than the Americans.” The article justifies the killing of Shia Muslims, whom ISIS insists are not Muslims at all but apostates, and apostasy in Islam is punishable by death.
What about the three simultaneous attacks in Saudi Arabia? Surely these were, as the egregious Haroon Moghul assures us, “attacks on Islam itself”?
Let’s take those attacks one by one.
The first was the attack in Qatif, in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, where almost all of the Shi’a live. The bombs in Qatif went off outside a Shi’a mosque, and were meant to kill only Shi’a, who are despised in the Wahhabi kingdom, called “Rafida,” just as they are by Sunnis in ISIS. In Qatif, there was neither an attack “on Islam” nor on Muslims, but on the Shi’a, regarded – see the excerpt from Dabiq above — by their uber-Sunni attackers as apostates from Islam.
The second attack was in Jeddah, with an attacker blowing himself up near the American consulate, but not piercing its perimeter. This was clearly meant to be an attack on American Infidels. Again, not an “attack on Islam.”
The third attack was in Medina, and here is where the “attack on Islam” description might, one may think, be justified. But is it? The attack appears to have hit its intended target, not the mosque itself, but the Saudi security forces stationed near the Prophet’s Mosque. It was an attack, that is, on the Saudi state, attempting to show that the Saudi rulers’ main claim to legitimacy, as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, was hollow. For if the Saudi security forces could be hit even at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, how could the Al-Saud present themselves as effective guardians (that is, protectors) of the two holy mosques? ISIS regards the Saudi rulers as not real Muslims, even though ISIS and the Saudis share the same Wahhabi brand of Islam. For it is not doctrinal matters, as with the Shia, that makes ISIS regard the Al-Saud as enemies and infidels. It is, rather, because of the way the Al-Saud lead their lives. That over-the-top decadence of all those princes and princelings and princelettes, their pocketing of so much of the national wealth, their spending of much of that wealth on themselves, their mega-yachts in the Mediterranean, their shopping sprees in Paris, their gambling in London and Las Vegas, their gamboling in southern Spain and southern France, their buying up of fabulous pleasure palaces all over the Western world, their incessant whoring – this has earned the fury of ISIS, and of other Muslims too. That was what the bombs in Medina were about: a successful attack on the Al-Saud in their official role as protectors of the two holy places would weaken their claim to rule. For ISIS the Al-Saud are “tyrants” who have “corrupted the faith” in order to hold onto power, and despite their claims of being observant Wahhabis, deserve to be considered as apostates, as infidels.
We mustn’t allow ourselves to be confused by the seeming variety of targets ISIS has chosen, and overlook what links them in our eagerness to believe that “Islam is under attack” and that as a result, perhaps, now all those “moderate Muslims” (yet another forlorn hope we cling to) will join forces with us, the world’s Infidels, against the “extremists.” In Dhaka, it was clearly non-Muslims who were the target. In Baghdad, it was “apostate” Shi’a, who for ISIS are even worse infidels than Christians and Jews. In Saudi Arabia, the targets were three varieties of Infidels: Americans in Jeddah, “apostate” Shi’a in Qatif, and the Al-Saud in Medina (as represented by their surrogates, the security services), whose decadence ISIS describes as equivalent to apostasy. Despite the Haroon Moghuls of this world, it is not Islam that is “under attack,” but whomever the Islamic State defines, to its own murderous satisfaction, as Infidels. That’s the unhappy moral of Dhaka, Baghdad, Qatif, Jeddah, and Medina. Only that, and nothing more.