This Open Letter appeared as a full-page ad in the Stanford Daily today.
An Open Letter to the Stanford Community
As I prepare to visit your beautiful campus on Tuesday evening, I invite you to consider the way Stanford welcomes different perspectives these days.
The staff of the Freshman Sophomore College dormitory has told students to report other students who put up posters advertising my event to university authorities. In no fewer than eight hit pieces that have been published (so far) in the Stanford Daily attacking me, it has been claimed that I “give license” to the “oppression” of Jews, and that Muslims at Stanford are endangered by my work. It has been charged that I have incited a mass murderer and approve of restricting the right to vote. My work has been characterized, without any specific examples, of being not only inaccurate, but also inflammatory, offensive, hateful, and dishonest.
All this and more is designed solely to discredit me and to warn members of the Stanford community not to listen to what I have to say.
Here’s some perspective on the attacks that have appeared in the Stanford Daily. Student Siena Fay writes of me: “He believes Islam is ‘the only religion in the world that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers and mandates that Muslims must wage war in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic social order all over the world,’ as he stated in an interview on C-SPAN in 2006. Funny; I don’t recall Malala Yousafzai advocating for violence and world domination. Must have missed that headline.”
Unfortunately, Malala Yousafzai is not the touchstone of what Islam is and isn’t, or of whether or not it teaches violence. Let’s look at the facts:
In 2017 alone, there have been 1,805 Islamic jihad attacks in 58 countries, in which 12,752 people were killed and 12,852 injured.
The perpetrators of such attacks justify them and try to make recruits among peaceful Muslims by appealing to the texts and teachings of Islam, including teachings of the Qur’an such as “kill them wherever you find them (2:191 and 4:89); “kill the idolaters wherever you find them” (9:5): “when you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (47:4), and many more.
The attackers do not believe they are taking these passages and others like them out of context or misreading them, for the principal schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib) all mandate violence against unbelievers. (The Shi’a do as well.) A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar, one of the leading authorities in Sunni Islam, as conforming to “the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community,” defines jihad (Arabic for “struggle”) as “to war against non-Muslims” (o9.0). The Hanafis, Malikis, and Hanbalis all teach similar things.
Today there are numerous Muslim clerics who echo these calls to wage war against unbelievers. An imam in Riverside, California, Ammar Shahin, was recently caught on video praying that Allah would destroy and annihilate the Jews, down to the last one. Two imams in Canada recently preached the same thing.
Yes, not all Muslims, or even a majority, are terrorists. But to take the stance that there is no problem regarding jihad terrorists’ use of Islamic texts and teachings, and that the greater problem is “Islamophobia,” is to turn from reality to fantasy. And to do that is a betrayal of the academic mission in itself.
The term “Islamophobia” was coined by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to silence critics of Islamic jihadism and terror. It is the heart of the relentless smear campaign that has been directed at me by some Stanford students, aided and abetted by some administrators, since my appearance was announced. The outrage over my appearance is immense, and politically motivated. Yet when Mads Gilbert, a supporter of the 9/11 jihad attacks in which 3,000 people were murdered, spoke at Stanford in 2015, there was no similar indignation or attempt to silence him in advance.
Clearly, a large portion of the Stanford community believes “Islamophobia” is a bigger problem than jihad terror. Can we have a civil discussion about this?
One of the slanders leveled against me in the Stanford Daily is that the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik quoted me extensively in his manifesto because he included the script of a documentary film about Islam in which I appear. Osama bin Laden praised Noam Chomsky. Does that make Noam Chomsky a terrorist?
The Stanford Daily article also makes the charge that I have no Ph.D. in Islamic studies, and therefore know nothing. Stanford students should be aware at this point in their college careers that a degree is no guarantee of expertise, and a lack of one is no proof that one has no knowledge of a subject. My work stands or falls on the evidence I present. Do Stanford students and faculty have the ability any more to weigh evidence or the courage to defend the intellectual process by which divergent ideas are assessed?
Each of the eight articles attacking me in the Stanford Daily have been filled with outlandish charges and misrepresentation of my work and the positions I hold. Specific rebuttals of the many false charges that have been leveled against me can be found at my website, jihadwatch.org.
The attempt to silence through slander a divergent viewpoint should have no place in a university like Stanford. A university should be a place where ideas, however unpopular, are considered on the basis of reason and evidence, and accepted or dismissed only on that basis. I invite Stanford students, faculty and administrators to have that kind of discussion with me on Tuesday evening. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception I am given. I hope those who attend will hear me out and then engage in a civil and mutually respectful discussion with me about these critical issues.