The twentieth century saw the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. This movement
rejected the West as morally decadent:
"As a result of his travels, [Sayyid] Qutb decided that America and Europe
— indeed, the
entire West — was irretrievably decadent and in a 'civilizational decline similar to the fall of ancient Rome.' The decline
that began with the Renaissance intensified, 'especially during the Enlightenment,' when society broke away 'from the reins
of the church, and simultaneously, strayed from God and from the course that He sets for human life.' The moral crisis deepened
in the nineteenth century with the advent of Darwin, Freud, and Marx, each of whom had 'denigrated' humanity in his own way:
Darwin stressed 'the absolute animal nature of man;' Freud, the 'totality of the sexual morass enveloping him;' and Marx,
the 'insignificance of human action in contrast to the power of economic forces and the material world.'
"Shattering the 'fundamental principles of morality,' such villains
had 'set the sexes loose like two animals pursuing desire and sensual pleasure
for their own sake.' As a result, Western society itself was adrift, and
the church suffered from 'neglect and alienation born of its irrelevance.'
Thus, the church 'began to scramble frantically after society, grabbing
at its coattails, no longer taking the lead in community affairs and directing
the people toward religion, but, rather, chasing after society and pandering
to base appetites.'"
(Sayyid Qutb, Signposts, 1964, quoted by Judith Miller, God has Ninety-Nine
Names, p. 62).
This movement, born in concern for morality, has itself committed acts
of shocking immorality. Witnesses to the horrific crimes perpetrated by
Osama bin Laden in the name of Islam can scarcely avoid identifying Mohammed's
intimate visitant as the one who transforms himself into an angel of light. Or
is Islam not responsible?
This movement has received Western sympathy and material support in the past, most notably when Afghan jihadis were
fighting against a Soviet-installed government in Kabul. In those days, President Reagan portrayed the jihadis as 'Freedom Fighters'
standing up bravely for liberty. Yet the freedom they seek is the freedom to decapitate apostates. It should be past being clear that
no Christian can support a movement whose main goal is to usher as many souls as possible into Hell. No Christian ought to be taxed to
bring about an Islamic Republic in Baghdad or elsewhere.
If we concede to Sayyid Qutb that the West is inimical to Islam, for the sake of argument,
are Muslims commanded to engage in acts of violence? The Koran and Muslim tradition describe a progressive revelation
on this point. At first, Mohammed was only to be a warner:
"The apostle had not been given permission to fight or
allowed to shed blood before the second 'Aqaba. He had simply been
ordered to call men to God and to endure insult and forgive the
ignorant. The Quraysh had persecuted his followers, seducing some
from their religion, and exiling others from their country. They had
to choose whether to give up their religion, be maltreated at home,
or to flee the country, some to Abyssinia, others to Medina.
"When Quraysh became insolent towards God and rejected
His gracious purpose, accused his prophet of lying, and ill treated
and exiled those who served Him and proclaimed His unity, believed in
HIs prophet, and held fast to His religion, He gave permission to
His apostle to fight and to protect himself against those who
wronged them and treated them badly.
"The first verse which was sent down on this subject
from what I have heard from 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr and other learned
persons was: 'Permission is given to those who fight because they
have been wronged. God is well able to help them,— those who have
been driven out of their houses without right only because they said
God is our Lord. Had not God used some men to keep back others,
cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques wherein the name of
God is constantly mentioned would have been destroyed. Assuredly God
will help those who help Him. God is Almighty. Those who if we make
them strong in the land will establish prayer, pay the poor-tax,
enjoin kindness, and forbid iniquity. To God belongs the end of
matters.' [Sura 22:40-42.] The meaning is: 'I have allowed them to fight only because
they have been unjustly treated while their sole offense against
men has been that they worship God. When they are in the ascendant
they will establish prayer, pay the poor-tax, enjoin kindness, and forbid iniquity, i.e. the prophet and his companions all of them.'
Then God sent down to him: 'Fight them so that there be no more
seduction,' [Sura 2:198] i.e. until no believer is seduced from his religion.
'And the religion is God's,' i.e. Until God alone is worshipped."
(The Life of Muhammad, a Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah,
A. Guillaume, pp. 212-213).
There is a three-stage process here: first, persuasion, no violence; then, fighting is permitted but only
in self-defense; lastly, warfare is commanded in order to promulgate Islam. Because the principle of
abrogation is stated explicitly in the Koran, some interpreters believe the last state of affairs makes
null and void the earlier injunctions in favor of tolerance. However, while the principle of abrogation is
clearly stated in the Koran, there is no master list supplied of abrogated verses, and no end of quarrelling
when a specific verse is offered as candidate for abrogation. Muslims today
get stuck on each one of these three stages, some thinking the religious
toleration Mohammed practiced while in Mecca is the normative rule,
others that the later permission to fight in self-defense is the normal
condition of society, and others again that the ultimate command to fight for the
triumph of Islam is the ideal state.
"The acts of jihad are, in theological terms, they're
hierarchialists. They believe that the end justifies the means. And
so to kill innocents,— the blurring of the line, even here in
America, is now. . .There are no civilians any more. We are all
soldiers. And in jihad that's the teaching." (Liberty Seminary President Ergun Caner on the
"In holy war there is no distinction between
civilian and soldier. None. That's why we see the
Muslims today hiding in mosques. They hide in
synagogues, they take over Christian churches, because,
why not go to a day-care center? If in fact jihad is
jihad, if in fact holy war is holy war, then everybody
is a combatant. There is no civilian."
(Ergun Caner on 'Issues, Etc.,'
June 24, 2004, "The Crusades," Todd Wilken,
Is that really the Islamic teaching? From the time of the Algerian struggle for freedom and severance from France,
Islamic terrorists have been carrying bombs into restaurants, targeting, not soldiers, but
innocent men, women and children. Former President of Liberty Seminary, Ergun Caner, said on the
Calvary Chapel radio show 'Pastor's Perspective,' that "In Holy
War, which is jihad, there is no difference between civilian and
18:04) Really? Conservative Muslims point out that Islamic tradition does not endorse
the indiscriminate killing of women and children:
"When we were with the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) on an expedition, he saw some people collected together over
something and sent a man and said: See, what are these people collected around? He then came and said: They are round a woman who has been
killed. He said: This is not one with whom fighting should have taken place. Khalid ibn al-Walid was in charge of the van; so he sent a man
and said: Tell Khalid not to kill a woman or a hired servant." (Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2663: Narrated Rabah ibn Rabi.)
"The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Kill the old men who are polytheists,
but spare their children." (Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number
2664, Narrated Samurah ibn Jundub).
"The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The most merciful of the people in respect of
killing are believers." (Hadith, Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 14, Number 2660: Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud).
"During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was
found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved the killing of women and
children." (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 257).
"It is narrated on the authority of
'Abdullah that a woman was found killed in one of the battles fought
by the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He disapproved of
the killing of women and children." (Sahih Muslim, Book 19, Chapter
8, Number 4319).
"It is narrated by Ibn 'Umar that a woman was found killed in one
of these battles; so the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)
forbade the killing of women and children." (Sahih Muslim, Book 19,
Chapter 8, Number 4320).
There is also, however, the suggestion that, if civilian
casualties should nonetheless occur, for instance under
conditions of poor visibility as in a night raid, it is no big
"It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama
that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about
the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the
night raid, said: They are from them." (Sahih Muslim, Book 19,
Chapter 9, Number 4321).
One's opinion as to whether the Hadith accurately reflect the
practice and views of the unlettered Arabian prophet and his
companions, or the views of people of later times, depends upon
one's opinion upon the integrity of the process of compiling and
evaluating these traditions. Muslim biographer Ibn Ishaq mentions a similar
"One of our companions told us that the apostle that day
passed by a woman whom Khalid b. al-Walid had killed while men had
gathered round her. When he heard what had happened he sent word to
Khalid and forbade him to kill child, or woman, or hired slave."
(The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah,
A. Guillaume, p. 576).
The relative immunity of non-combatants doesn't mean, however, that
Mohammed wasn't fully capable of ordering the assassination of a woman
who was an outspoken skeptic and critic of his prophetic mission such as
'Asma' d. Marwan:
"When the apostle heard what she had said he said, 'Who
will rid me of Marwan's daughter?' 'Umayr b. 'Adiy al-Khatmi who was
with him heard him, and that very night he went to her house and
killed her." (The Life of Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah,
A. Guillaume, p. 676).
Though the lives of non-combatants are protected, their liberty is not. It is
permissible under Islamic law to plunder and enslave these non-combatant civilians;
their liberty and property is not protected as under the Geneva Convention. Mohammed ibn Abdallah was not altogether unaware of the Sermon on the Mount,
but on the contested point of 'turning the other cheek,' he much preferred Moses:
"When you go near a city to fight against it, then proclaim an offer
of peace to it. And it shall be that if they accept your offer of peace,
and open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be placed
under tribute to you, and serve you. Now if the city will not make peace
with you, but war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the
LORD your God delivers it into your hands, you shall strike every male
in it with the edge of the sword. But the women, the little ones, the livestock,
and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself;
and you shall eat the enemies’ plunder which the LORD your God gives you."
What Moses enjoined on the people was not a rule valid for all
times and places; God had weighed the Canaanites in the balance and
rejected them. God had resolved to utterly destroy that people, and so
commissioned Israel to do what He had already resolved to be done. To wage war in this way
against those whom God has not resolved to destroy is neither commanded nor allowed.
Two millennia of Christian civilization
lifted the standard to a broad immunity for all non-combatants, which terrorism annuls.
As the reader will see, bin Laden considers the rise of Western democracy to negate the
traditional immunity of non-combatants. Since in a democracy the people rule, the people are each and every
one responsible for their government's actions. How this argument
justifies the slaughter of those not yet of voting age, such as
Beslan's children, remains unclear. Since the voters are each and every one of them
commanders, or so this lunatic reasons, their prior immunity is lost. They have become guilty:
"Terrifying an innocent person and terrorizing him is
objectionable nd unjust, also unjustly terrorizing people is not
right. Whereas, terrorizing oppressors and criminals and thieves and
robbers is necessary for the saftey of people and for the protection
of their property." (Osama bin Laden, quoted in The Looming Tower,
Lawrence Wright, page 298).
The 'oppression' of which this maddened killer complains
occurred, for instance, when the long-suffering American tax-payer
arranged for the defense of Saudi Arabia, a country whose miniscule
population cannot defend itself, against feared Iraqi aggression in the first Gulf War.
This 'logic' takes a giant civilizational step backwards, or rather two
backward steps taken in tandem: those nations which adopt ancient
Athens' felicitous discovery, democracy, lose their inherited civilian
immunity from military targeting; bad government is rewarded while
civilization erodes. Does Islamic ethics rise to the
level of the categorical imperative? Does bin Laden and his ilk
understand that, once you have promulgated a general rule that democracy
makes innocent civilians into legitimate targets, this is true in all
"In a November 2002 speech he [bin Laden] explained to
the populations of America's European allies that the United States
was attaacked because '[America] is killing our sons in Iraq
[through UN economic sanctions], and [because of] what America's
ally Israel is doing, using American airplanes to bomb houses in
Palestine with old men, women and children in them.' These are
'crimes' that were conducted by the United States, said bin Laden. .
." (Marching Toward Hell, Michael Scheuer, p. 199).
Notice it remains a "crime" for others to target
civilians who hold elections, as do the Palestinians, disliking the outcome of those
elections, which was the pretext for removing the immunity of the civilians
working the World Trade Center. So they are convicted as criminals by their
own words. While the true and living God said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says
the Lord” (Romans 12:19, Deuteronomy 32:35), someone else says
otherwise: "Allah, the Almighty, legislated the permission and the
option to take revenge." The seventh-century warlord Mohammed ibn
Abdallah's ethics were already primitive, tribalistic, and far below
Christian standards; who could have anticipated his latter-day
followers, instead of trying to catch up with the rest of the world,
would stage a limbo dance competition to see if they could go even
lower? By making democracy an excuse for indiscriminate
slaughter, these contemporary Muslims have lowered Mohammed's already
trailing banner down to an even more backward and barbarous state
than when the Muslim enterprise started:
This document was obtained off the internet and thus the accuracy of the
translation is unknown. As the reader will note, the writer is not rational.
His three demands: a.) America should accept Islam and adopt sharia (Islamic
law); b.) "Leave us alone;" c.) America should "interact"
with Muslims on the basis of mutual interest, are neither mutually compatible
nor placed in a hierarchy of next resort ('or if not, then...').
During the years since 9/11 while Mr. bin Laden still enjoyed his undeserved
liberty, this incoherence only worsened. A later communication,
a videotape of September 7, 2007, offers Marxist economic analysis as the
explanation for all the world's woes. The reader will recall the Afghan jihadis first came to public prominence spending Mr. Reagan's money to
eliminate the Afghan Marxists and drive their Soviet backers from the country.
If, as it now turns out, these same Marxists have all the answers to the world's
woes, why did they not sit at their feet instead of driving them out? One cannot
imagine intellectual bankruptcy more complete than to go begging to former
adversaries for ideas. In a more perfect world, this crack-pot would be
left alone sitting on a park bench, rambling on to the sparrows about global
warming or whatever other concern had captured for the moment his wandering
attention. Yet by showing depraved indifference to human life on a monumental
scale, he has become a hero to those who believe Mohammed ibn Abdallah assigned a positive value
to this quality.
"O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don't be infamous among the nations..."
(Yemeni Poet Amin al-Mashreqi).
What percentage of Muslims approve of bin Laden's negation of the
distinction between civilians and soldiers? It is difficult to get
an accurate fix, because conspiracy theories like those of the 9/11 'Truthers'
run rampant in the Middle East, and those respondents who express a
favorable opinion of bin Laden may also deny he was responsible for
A respondent who believes bin Laden was a patsy, an innocent man set
up by the actual evil-doers behind 9/11, the C.I.A. or Mossad or
whomever, may well approve of bin Laden while condemning the attack. But it would appear that in most countries a majority of the
Muslim populace disapproves of targeting civilians, according to the Pew Global Attitudes
Project: "Moreover, majorities or pluralities among eight of the
nine Muslim publics surveyed this year say that suicide bombing and
other forms of violence against civilians can never be justified to
defend Islam; only in the Palestinian territories does a majority
endorse such attacks." ('Declining Support for bin Laden and Suicide
Bombing,' September 10, 2009, Pew Global Attitudes
Project.) Of course even a minority of the Muslim populace
sympathetic to the indiscriminate slaughter of 'infidels' represent a national
security threat. However, when polled, a sizeable number of U.S. citizens
also assert that targeting civilians can sometimes or often be
justified, in spite of a considerable Christian influence on
One estimate is that 7 per cent of the Muslim populace approved
the mass murder on 9/11: “Classified as political radicals were those who met
the following criteria: 1) they felt the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were
“completely justified”, and 2) they indicate that they have an 'unfavorable' or
“very unfavorable” opinion of the United States. Those who did not say the
attacks were completely justified were termed moderates. The 'radical' group
represents about 7% of the total population across the 10 countries included in
the study.” (The Battle for Hearts and Minds: Moderate vs. Extremist Views in the Muslim World
by Dalia Mogahed, Executive Director for Gallup’s Center for Muslim
7 per cent of one billion-plus people represents a huge national security threat,
and in some polls it is even worse; perhaps fifteen percent of Muslims subscribe to this view.
It can only be hoped a way can be found to protect the nation from
this hostile and aggressive army without involving the remainder
of the Muslim populace as collateral damage. Nevertheless spokesmen
for the religious right like Ergun Caner insist on super-sizing that number:
"We've fought against each
other for 1,300 years of history, since roughly 632 through 732, we've either fought a
common enemy or we've fought each other. In other words,
you just got in the way. . .We're much more comfortable
fighting each other: Sufi versus the Kurds, the Kurds
versus the Iraqis, the Sunni Triangle versus the Shia in
the south. 80% of Iraq as you know are Shia. Only 20% or less are Sunni. So in the midst of
this, you came and gave us the one thing that can unite us other than war. Three
times in Islamic history we have been united. Three: once against Charles Martel, the grand-father of
Charlemagne, Charlemagne. Second time under Saladin in the Crusades. Third time, February 23rd, 1998, the signing of the fatwa
by Osama bin Muhammad bin Laden, Rasul Rahman, al-Zawahiri.
Other than that we've fought against each other. We
always unite when there is a common enemy, a common 'Iblis,'
Devil, 'Shaitan,' Satan. It's you."
(Liberty Baptist Seminary Dean Ergun Caner speaking to the U.S.
Marines, Base Theater, 16:22 to 17:52, available at
"In thirteen hundred years of the
history of my people, we either fight each other, Sunni
vs. Shia, Sunni and Shia vs. Sufi, we either fight each
other or we fight a common enemy. And there's really
only been three major times in history, I'm talking
about in Christian history since the resurrection,
there's only been three major times where Islam has been
united, 700 years after Christ. First was
right after the death of Mohammed. Then during the
Crusades. And now in the present period. We're watching
history unfold." (Ergun Caner, Pastor's Perspective,
with Brian Broderson, pastorper-ergun.mp3, 6:29-6:54).
To say that a leader 'united' a given population, in this case all Muslims across sectarian
and geographical boundaries, implies an approval rating of more than 7%. What came to the fore
in the political dispute over the prospect of invading Iraq is that the two sides held not only different opinions about
the facts, but different facts. Though our own C.I.A. director testified in advance of our invasion of
Iraq that there was no alliance between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, millions of Americans insisted that
there was. The way to create 'facts' like these has come to light: send a phony 'jihadi' around the country,
shucking and jiving in an Amos 'n Andy-type routine, imitating his co-religionists as
asking an attractive lady, "How many camels for you?" (U. S. Marine
training video, 13:50, O-Club) Have him testify, from his own personal experience, that
the 9/11 attackers were not terrorists, they were "devout." In real
life he was schooled in Ohio, not in madrassas in Cairo and
Istanbul, but if truth is not your aim, he will get the job done.
Ergun Caner was in his thirties when the planes hit the World
Trade towers. He had never drawn much of a crowd as a pastor, owing to
his astringent disposition, and so had retreated into academia. But
he and his brother were not exactly burning up the academic world
either. When 9/11 happened, what was tragedy for others was a
break-out opportunity for him; it just required a bit of tweaking to
his biography to launch a highly successful career as lecturer and
guest speaker, and a man who had been laboring in obscurity was
catapulted into the front ranks of Christian celebrity. Muslims
accuse him of 'Islamophobia,' but he does not seem politically
motivated; he is just peddling what sells, which, unfortunately, includes a sizeable dose of demeaning racial and ethnic
stereotypes along with the alarmism:
Let's be generous and round up the percentage of Muslims who
subscribe to the terrorist agenda to fifteen percent. This leaves 85
percent as potential allies, which would normally be seen as
favorable odds. A rational policy would build on the eighty-five
percent and try to isolate and marginalize the fifteen percent.
Certainly ISIS would like to win over the 85 percent of Muslims not
now marching under their banner; then they would have one hundred
percent. However it may be that they might achieve this goal, it
should not be through our handing over the majority and assigning
ISIS as their legitimate representative, whether they like it or
not. Recently Presidential candidate Donald Trump sounded this same
note: "'I think Islam hates us,' Trump responded. 'There's a
tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an
unbelievable hatred of us.'" (Presidential candidate Donald Trump,
quoted in AP story, 'Group asks Trump to apologize for saying 'Islam
hates us,' by Jill Colvin, Mar. 10, 2016 5:11 PM EST). Not 'some
Muslims hate us,' but 'Islam hates us.' When people say things like
this, critics immediately decry their 'ignorance.' Doesn't he know
only a minority hold such views? What the critics do not realize is
that 'experts' like former terrorist Ergun Caner have criss-crossed
the country for years, 'teaching' the people that all Muslims hate
us, and that it is only because of 'political correctness' that our
leaders will not tell us this truth. The people are indeed ignorant,
but not uninstructed. They have been deliberately and intentionally
misinformed. People have sat in their church pews and filled up
spiral-bound notebooks with 'facts' which are not factual, and this
is the result.
Democracy and Islam
Democracy asserts the right of the people to write the laws under which
they shall live. Islamist dissenters reply that God has already pre-empted
"[The 45-minute tape] warned of attacks against anyone taking part in the elections, saying that the concept of the
people as 'the source of power' that should be obeyed was 'infidelity itself,' and death was the punishment for Muslim 'apostates.'...He [Zarqawi]
said 'the big US lie called democracy' was un-Islamic and that several principles underpinning democracy — majority rule, freedom of belief
and the separation of state and religion — flouted the tenets of Islam, whereby God, not the people, is the ultimate authority."
(AFP, 'Zarqawi tape declares all-out war on Iraq vote,' Sunday January 23, 2005).
Osama bin Laden concurs: "You are the nation who, rather than ruling
by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent
your own laws as you will and desire...You flee from the embarrassing question
posed to you: How is it possible for Allah the Almighty to create His creation,
grant them power over all the creatures and land, grant them all the amenities
of life, and then deny them that which they are most in need of: knowledge
of the laws which govern their lives?" (bin Laden Letter, November 24, 2002).
Shi'ite extremists share this disdain for democracy:
"'Democracy, freedom, and human rights have no place' in Islam, said Mesbah Yazdi, who heads Shia Taliban, in a speech reprinted in Rooz,
an online Iranian news website." ('No place for democracy and human rights in Islam, says Qom theologian,'
Since the Koran does not present a consecutive and well-ordered set of
laws, but rather an ad hoc assemblage, sharia
(Islamic law), in its details, is subject to endless dispute. Mohammed's
improvisations left a jumble: Rape is a capital crime, but a successful
prosecution requires four male witnesses to the act. Thus rape might as
well be decriminalized. But the concept, for all its difficulties,
remains the popular centerpiece of the Islamic fundamentalist agenda.
The Muslim world broke free of European colonialism on the ground before leaving
the West behind in the mind: many of these former colonies retained
secular western law codes upon liberation. Since the mid-twentieth century, pressure
has been building for adoption of sharia in place of the law codes
that are the legacy of Western influence. This genuinely popular movement
has won electoral victories, notably in Algeria and Palestine, without
being able to consolidate its gains. Leaders encompassing the political
spectrum have felt the pressure and endeavored to co-opt this growing force.
When Colonel Muammar Khadafi published his Little Green Book, critics complained
that the only thing Islamic about the book was the cover color; since then
he has 'got religion.' Another leftist, Saddam Hussein, was obliged to
concede to this movement restricted liquor sales.
Certain of our 'key allies in the war on terror' already groan under sharia, as
oppressive a law code as has yet been devised, including Pakistan and Saudi
Arabia. The 'moderate' Saudi royal family bestows upon its grateful subjects
not only full sharia, but has also conceded to Osama bin Laden his principal
demand, the withdrawal of American troops from sacred Saudi soil. Islamic
fundamentalism does not seek to advance individual liberty or civil rights.
For example, abandoning Islam is a capital crime under sharia. Thus protecting
the "free exercise" of religion, as does the First Amendment,
is incompatible with sharia. This flaw is inherent in the Muslim fundamentalist
enterprise: because the self-styled prophet Mohammed was no champion of
human rights, so neither are his faithful followers today.
Another front is now opening to the triumph of Islamic fundamentalism:
Iraq, where American firepower overthrew the prior secular leftist regime.
Twice in two elections, Ayatollah al-Sistani's candidate slate gained power.
President Bush could not stop singing his own praises for this great triumph of "liberty."
But Muslim fundamentalism does not seek to advance liberty. One must wonder
what the American President who decriminalized 'water-boarding' understands
"liberty" to mean; certainly his understanding differs from that
of the Founding Fathers, who wrote into the Constitution a prohibition
of cruel and unusual punishment. If Mr. Bush sought to subject the United
States to an Islamic fundamentalist regime, the U.S. Constitution would
stand in his way, prohibiting as it does any religious establishment. Tragically
nothing stands in the way of his plunging foreigners into this darkness.
"To insult a brother Muslim is sinful; to kill him is unbelief."
"Al-Ahnaf b. Qays set off with his weapons. Meeting him, Abu Bakra
asked him where he was heading. 'I am going to the help of the Prophet's
cousin,' he said. 'But,' rejoined the other, 'I heard the Prophet himself
say, "Any two Muslims who take up arms against each other will both
land in Hell."'" (Bukhari, Fitan, quoted p. 39, An Introduction
to the Hadith, John Burton).
Conservative Muslims object in particular to acts of Islamist terror which
kill Muslims. But who is a Muslim? This is the $64 question. All who confess
that there is one God and Mohammed is His prophet? No so to Muslim fundamentalists,
whose thinking on this point looks back to Ibn Taymiyya, a medieval theologian,
who taught that "a ruler who did not enforce sharia or exhibit scrupulous
personal piety would be no better than an apostate, and under Islamic law,
Muslims were obligated to rebel against such a leader." ('The Age
of Sacred Terror,' Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, p. 48.) By this criterion,
a ruler who does not enforce sharia, such as Saddam Hussein, is not counted
a Muslim. Neither are these 'fruit inspectors' cold to the idea of overthrowing such a ruler.
Indeed to be a Muslim fundamentalist is to be the pope of one's own private
religion, excommunicating dissenters at will. Neither does the calculation
that many Muslims perished in the World Trade Center diminish their joy
in their triumph.
Under the U.S. Constitution, it is the Congress which declares war.
In the Muslim polity, who holds that power? Is the answer, 'anyone at
all:' an independently wealthy dilettante like Osama bin Laden who
dabbles in theology has just as much right to declare war as anyone
else? To the religious right, there is no doubt of the legitimacy of bin Laden's declaration of war:
"Well, February of 1998 there was a declared fatwa, the
declaration of war. A fatwa is a binding contract by the caliphate
or by the leaders. In this case it was by the sheikhs, Sheikh Osama
Mohammed bin Laden, and the ones from Bangladesh and Egypt, and they
declared war on America." (Liberty Seminary President Ergun Caner, on the Zola Leavitt
In the eyes of the religious right, there are two kinds of
Muslims: 1.) those who voice no quibble and no qualm that bin
Laden's holy war is the genuine article, whose casualties receive the
advertised Koranic reward, and 2.) those who have
never read the Koran and the hadith or prefer to ignore or disbelieve those
documents. But is the organizational chart of Islam really characterized by
the crystalline clarity they perceive? Was Osama bin Laden's "declared
fatwa" really binding upon all believers, as they claim? Or
does experience teach that, "The decision to accept or reject a fatwa is entirely up to
each individual Muslim." (Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Great Theft, p. 29).
The question of political authority
in Islam is a vexed one. But no serious case can be made that the power
to declare war, holy or otherwise, belongs to any random private person, no
more under the Muslim polity than under our own system. There is no private
political right in Islam: "He who accepts a man as ruler without
consulting the Muslims, such acceptance has no validity for either
of them: they are in danger of being killed." (The Life of Muhammad,
A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume, p. 685). If I were to post a notice on my web-site that
the U.S. is now at war with Senegal, no state of war exists. Should I
protest, 'Surely you know most Christians are not pacifists; most
believe some version of 'just war' theory,' this would not prove the
U.S. was at war with Senegal, because one of the points of 'just war'
theory is that war can only be declared by lawful authority. Bin Laden's lack
of standing and legitimacy is a major issue
for those Muslims who deplore his actions.
All states aspire to monopolize violence. The power to wage war
is jealously guarded. Can it really be believed there is a polity,
under which in excess of one billion human beings live, where any
rich dilettante can declare war at his whim, and drag the whole
society after him? That more than an inconsiderable number of
Muslims look to Osama bin Laden for guidance is a testimony to the poor
character formation produced by this works-oriented yet
lackadaisical religion. Nevertheless the majority of Muslims perceive a lack of
legitimacy. Not so the religious right, however, who have made this man
the caliph. There is no doubt in their minds that bin Laden has
the authority to declare holy war; and, willing or not, the whole
society must follow him, a man with no office:
"And high jihad simply means,
when there has been a signed fatwa, a signed ruling,
that declaration of holy war, that you are then
obliged, as one who is an adherent,— you are obliged to
fight holy war, against a stated enemy, or a stated
infidel. In this case, the fatwa signed was February 23,
1998. And when that fatwa was signed, by Osama bin
Mohammed bin Laden, Fasul Rahman, al Zawahiri, all the rest of them,—
when they signed the fatwa, it obliged a huge segment of Muslims, specifically the
Saudi region, but also to those, as we now know, in
Afghanistan, and the Pakistan in ulema.
"Here they are. They have to
fight. If you are obliged to fight and you do
not fight, quite frankly you are putting yourself in danger of hell-fire."
(Former President of Liberty
Seminary, Ergun Caner, on the Faith and Family broadcast
Really? It "obliged a huge segment of Muslims"? Some people want war,
and will spout whatever creative story tends toward that outcome; whatever it takes to promote "this grand
experiment of our President." However in real life, there remains some expectation that war
will be proclaimed by a legitimate ruler:
"Allah's Apostle said, 'There is no Hijra (i.e.
migration) (from Mecca to Medina) after the Conquest (of Mecca), but
Jihad and good intention remain; and if you are called (by the
Muslim ruler) for fighting, go forth immediately.' (Hadith Sahih
Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 42).
The fighter should be "called;" he does not report for duty
unbidden. Unfortunately enough Muslims agree with Ergun Caner's legal analysis,
and share in his propensity for forming a self-created world, to make
this world the rest of us share a very dangerous place. There is a broad
middle ground in the Muslim world, inhabited by clerics like the
Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed
Tantawi, who said, "Extremism is the enemy of Islam. Whereas, jihad
is allowed in Islam to defend one's land, to help the oppressed. The difference between jihad in Islam and
extremism is like the earth and the sky." (BBC
News online, 11 July, 2003). Who speaks for Islam? Al Azhar University, or
the Republican Party? This view-point, taken to its logical
conclusion, has led some to renounce the U.S. Constitution
with its protection of religious liberty:
"Permits should not be granted to build even one more mosque in the United States of
America, let alone the monstrosity planned for Ground Zero. This is
for one simple reason: each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the
overthrow of the American government." (Bryan Fischer,
'No more mosques, period,' Date: 8/10/2010 10:06:05 AM).
Unfortunately the greater threat to American liberty comes, not from the jihadists, but from
those who imagine they are combating jihadists by depriving American Muslims of their constitutional
rights. In a similar vein to these Christian anti-Muslim authors are the
atheists Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, who agitate for war
against Islamic states. They differ from the authors already discussed
in that they hate all theists, not only Muslims:
Muslim authors differ in their views on political legitimacy;
everyone agrees Islam is political, but what politics?
Hereditary succession through Ali? To the contrary,
some want majority rule: "When these qualifications appear in
several candidates, the caliph will be the one who receives the
homage and allegiance of the majority of Muslims, and he who
contradicts the majority is a sinner who is to be brought back
into line with the majority." (Abu Hamid al Ghazali, The
Foundations of Islamic Belief, p. 184). But the school of
thought that finds the caliphate laying in the streets, that anyone
passing by is competent to declare war, thus obligating the world's
1.2 billion Muslims to fall into line behind him,— that
school of thought simply doesn't exist, though proclaimed by
panic peddlers like Ergun Caner, who solemnly advises his hearers that the
"caliphates" meet every eight years (grammatically, this is like
saying 'episcopate' for 'bishop,' even if there were a caliph at
present, which there is not), who, like the Illuminati or the
Trilateral Commission, pull the strings on our puppet-stage
War of All Against All
Some commentators perceive Islam to teach all war against all infidels all the time.
To these readers, the Koran demands no less than the constant bellum omnium contra omnes,
war of all against all, or at least of all the faithful against all infidels:
"The Muslims that are called
the radicals, the fundamentalists, the fanatics —
they are in Islamic teaching the most pure. That is,
they are simply adherents of what Islam teaches. . .One
of the first promises of the Koran is, 'It is prescribed
for you to fight.'"
(Ergun Caner, 17:39
interviewed on 'Issues, Etc.' broadcast)
But in reality, even Osama bin Laden does not advocate constant war
against any and all infidels all the time: against the Finns,
against Thailand, against Paraguay, against the Cubans, the Chinese,
etc. It should be apparent that a combatant nation which pursued such a suicidal
policy would have been wiped out long ago. Even the terrorists concede that
when the Muslim community is weak, then peace is prudent: Mohammed ibn Abdallah concluded a
peace treaty with the powerful Quraysh while he was too weak to
fight them. Under their understanding treaties are a choreographed dance of
deception. But this is not entirely what the evidence shows. While neither side was punctilious in their observance of the
armistice of al-Hudaybiya, to some extent at least Mohammed did
undertake, in good faith, to observe its terms, which were unpopular
with his companions: "The apostle said, 'O Abu Jandal, be patient
and control yourself, for God will provide relief and a means of
escape for you and those of you who are helpless. We have made peace
with them and we and they have invoked God in our agreement and we
cannot deal falsely with them.'" (The Life of Muhammad, A
Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A. Guillaume, p.
505). This example cuts both ways in that Mohammed ultimately abrogated the
agreement. Nevertheless it is not correct to suggest that believing Muslims
must support every possible war at all possible times; Mohammed himself did
not fight every possible war at every possible time.
Some contemporary Muslims do indeed preach world conquest:
"One of the founding fathers of Islamism, Hassan
al-Banna, spelled this out explicitly. Blaming Western
secularism for having delayed 'the advancement of the Muslim
world for centuries,' he urged his followers to 'pursue this
evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and
struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name
of the Prophet.'" ('War Footing,' edited by Frank J. Gaffney,
. . .but this utopian urge for world dominion comes more from a
perception of victimization at the hands of Western colonialism than
by any Koranic imperative. While Muslims differ about the appropriate
conditions under which to call holy war, some perceive in the Koran
a requirement that such war be defensive: "And fight for the cause of God against
those who fight against you: but commit not the injustice of attacking them first: God loveth
not such injustice. . ." (Koran Sura 2:186). The religious right offers as explanation for 9/11, "It's
conversion by the sword. Islam is based, the entire prophetic world,
'prophetic' meaning their view of eschatology, their view of
end-times, is based on the complete subjugation of the world. Twenty-five
years ago Ayatollah Khomeini said, 'Make no mistake. America will be
an Islamic nation.' They believe that it is endemic that they must
turn all countries into Islamic nations for Allah to be honored."(Ergun
interviewed on 'Issues, Etc.' broadcast); i.e., the simple fact that America
is a majority Christian nation provoked the attack. Such a policy actually
was advocated by s follower of Mohammed ibn Abdallah, namely Omar:
"This was in the truce between the Messenger of Allah
(may peace be upon him) and the polytheists. Umar b. Khattab came,
approached the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) and said:
Messenger of Allah, aren't we fighting for truth and they for
falsehood? He replied: By all means. He asked: Are not those killed
from our side in Paradise and those killed. from their side in the
Fire? He replied: Yes. He said: Then why should we put a blot upon
our religion and return, while Allah has not decided the issue
between them and ourselves? He said: Son of Khattab, I am the
Messenger of Allah. Allah will never ruin me." (Sahih Muslim, Book
019, Number 4405).
But for whatever reason, Mohammed did not carry out this policy
at Hudaybiyya, so this policy of war against all is not strictly
speaking Islamic, though there still are today Muslims who follow
While all convinced readers of the Koran understand God called
for war against the idolators of the Arabian peninsula, and the example set by
Mohammed ibn Abdallah is prescriptive for Muslims, the Koran does
not explicitly command that at this time Muslims must attack the
U.S. The question remains to be asked, 'Is the present situation similar to
those cases in the Koran and the hadith when the Muslims waged war,
or dissimilar?' All events occur within a historic context, even the battle of Badr; how restrictive Muslims are in
requiring current events to conform to the archetypal context of holy war determines
whether they are a threat to world peace, or not. The dividing line between
the pacific and the belligerent does not fall between those who read the Koran and those who do not.
To give the devil his due, one aspect of the Muslim fundamentalist critique
rings true: "You are a nation that practices the trade of sex in all
its forms, directly and indirectly. Giant corporations and establishments
are established on this, under the name of art, entertainment, tourism
and freedom, and other deceptive names you attribute to it." (bin
Laden letter, November 24, 2002). Certainly the tide of filth which this
nation pipes into the world does us no credit. Nor can "liberty"
be blamed. Liberty requires only that such sub-cultures as seek in smut
their serious cultural value be free to do so, in the back alley of their
choice, without serving prison time. Liberty does not make this material
mainstream; it is the free choice of the majority which makes it so. Majority
taste makes filth what you see when you turn on the TV. This is the same
majority which self-identifies to pollsters as "Christian."
What do these people mean when they say they are "Christian"?
The word, formed similarly to words like 'Herodian,' must mean at minimum
a 'follower of Christ.' Are these majoritarians followers of the Christ
who said, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust
for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart," (Matthew
5:28), or of some other Christ? Not content to sacrifice our own children
only to this Moloch, we insist on exporting our entertainment industry's
product to the world, as if watching this stuff were beneficial or enlightening.
It is to be understood that moral people throughout the world will avert their eyes.
The irony is that Muslim sexual morality is markedly lower than Christian.
Islam permits polygamy, easy divorce, child marriage, and other irregularities
including, according to Shiite expositors, temporary marriage. The way
immoral persons live in Christian lands is the way observant Muslims
live; the writer of the words quoted above is a practicing polygamist.
But viewers of TV shows like 'Friends' would never guess there ever was
or ever had been such a thing as Christian morality, because the people
on TV are quite innocent of it.
What Do They Want?
The world has long been familiar with 'national liberation fronts' which
employ terror in pursuit of their goals. Terrorism departs from traditional
military tactics whether statist or revolutionary in intentionally targeting
civilians. Old-line terrorist outfits like the P.L.O. and I.R.A. and
Tamil Tigers and Kurdish separatists aspire
to mundane, this-worldly goals which are in theory realizable in the world
as we know it. Al Qaeda, too, is capable of making these kinds of demands;
in fact the Bush Administration speedily complied with Osama bin Laden's
original demand, removing U.S. military personnel from the 'sacred' Saudi
soil which their presence was defiling. But achieving this victory, or
any other mundane accomplishment, is only the pad from which to launch
off into orbit, proclaiming policy objectives cosmic in scale:
"How can [a Muslim] possibly accept humiliation and inferiority when
he knows that his nation was created to stand at the center of leadership,
at the center of hegemony and rule, at the center of ability and sacrifice?
How can he possibly accept humiliation and inferiority when he knows that
the divine rule is that the entire earth must be subject to the religion
of Allah — not to the East, not to the West — to no ideology and to no
path except for the path of Allah?" (Suleiman Abu Ghaith, al-Qaeda,
quoted p. 397, The Age of Sacred Terror, Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon).
Given that this group lacks an infantry and thus cannot control territory,
even if their fondest dreams of mass death were realized, they could not
parlay this achievement into political conquest. Their aspirations to world
domination are thus literally insane.
Confusion of Islamists like al Qaeda with old-line terrorist organizations like the P.L.O.
endangers American security. This is why the 'war on terror' was such a
set-back for the nation's safety: 'terror' is a tactic, not a movement,
not an ideology, not even a shared goal. National liberation fronts espouse
finite and rational goals, whereas today's Islamic fundamentalists espouse
“Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization
overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires. This flood
has swept the Muslim nation away from the Prophet’s leadership and Koranic
guidance and deprived the world of its guiding light. Western secularism
moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Koranic roots, and
delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do so until
we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but
will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland,
and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the
Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world. Only then
will Muslims achieve their fundamental goal, and there will be no more
‘persecution’ and all religion will be exclusively for Allah….” (Muslim
Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, [Document No. 31], p. 59, Freedom
House, 'Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Fill American Mosques.')
This movement's ultimate goals are not goals with which the civilized world
can compromise. Yet when this nation was attacked by Muslim fundamentalists
on September 11, 2001, we 'counter-attacked'. . .against a secular socialist
regime in Iraq which had neither complicity in the attack nor any aspiration
to advance Islamic fundamentalism. Did the Bush family's long-standing
business ties to the Saudi royal family leave them unable to distinguish
friend from foe?
Given that this movement's goals ultimately are neither secular nor finite,
to suggest that 'democracy' is the remedy for Islamic fundamentalism is
a category error, like suggesting that 'Republicanism' is the remedy for
'cancer.' 'Democracy' does not deliver what this movement seeks. Removing
a socialist despot like Saddam Hussein only enhances their ability to organize
and agitate. Indeed they are willing to use democracy, to extinguish freedom.
Does Al Qaeda-style terrorism work? In some ways it appears that it does; the Bush Administration
hastened to meet bin Laden's original demand, the withdrawal of American
troops from 'sacred' Saudi Arabian soil:
"The Arabian Peninsula has never
— since God made it flat, created
its desert, and encircled it with seas — been stormed by any forces like
the crusader armies spreading in it like locusts, eating its riches and
wiping out its plantations...No one argues today about three facts that
are known to everyone; we will list them, in order to remind everyone:
"First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying
the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering
its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing
its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead
through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples."
(Shaykh Osama Bin-Muhammad Bin-Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, amir of
the Jihad Group in Egypt, et al, 23 February 1998 Statement, quoted at Military.com).
The Israeli/Palestinian conflict turns up third on the list. Bin Laden's
demand for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabian soil was quietly
met, abjectly and totally. On this, his central concern, the Bush administration's
dealings with Mr. bin Laden amounted to surrender. The terms under
which American troops had served in that land had always been frankly astonishing.
It is weakness which invites aggression; and what more craven display of
ideological timidity than the willingness of the elder President Bush to compel
American troops to serve where forbidden by law to practice the Christian
faith? The younger President Bush was likewise naive in his faith that appeasing terrorists
leads to peace:
When the Soviet Union was at its zenith of power, lesser socialist lights
like Nasser rose in the Middle Eastern sky. Remnant leftist regimes still
hang on grimly in places, though the withdrawing tide of history has left
them high and dry. From the time of Ronald Reagan, U.S. policy in the region
has been to court Muslim fundamentalists and fund them freely in their
death struggle with the leftists. Muslim fundamentalists are reliably and
sincerely anti-Communist; Mohammad was, after all, a merchant. They are
unfortunately also resolutely antichristian. The nominal
Christians who fashioned our policy of courting Saudi Arabia and its Muslim
fundamentalist offspring failed to perceive this as any of their concern.
3,000 dead Americans bear mute testimony to the futility of this policy,
even as the younger President Bush continued, on auto-pilot, to deal with Muslim fundamentalism
by. . .stamping out those remnant leftist regimes with which the Muslim
fundamentalists are locked in a death struggle.
Projecting weakness is counter-productive, because weakness invites aggression.
Yet who can forget Mr. Bush's 9/11 saga? Once story-time was over he commenced
scampering about the country like a scared rabbit, ending up in a missile
silo. Unlike the British Royal family who stoically remained at their stations
throughout the Blitz, he got a case of happy feet. Signalling weakness
in this way is dangerous.
Historically nations at war minimize their adversaries' achievements.
Yet President Bush magnified al Qaeda's achievements, claiming the economic downturn
then underway was in fact produced by the 9/11 attack. Mr. Bush wanted it
understood that al Qaeda as presently constituted has the capacity to cripple
the U. S. economy. Why would a leader purportedly at war magnify the enemies'
achievements? And why has it long since become apparent Mr. bin Laden will die of
old age before he is apprehended by the U. S. government? One does not
expect to hear politicians call attention to their failures, yet Mr. Bush
perceived the unweakened and at-large status of al Qaeda as his ace in
the hole: "I understand there are some in America who say well this
can't be true — there are still people willing to attack," he said.
"All I would ask them to do is listen to the words of Osama bin Laden
and take them seriously. When he says he's going to hurt the American people
again, or try to, he means it." (Bush, Visiting NSA, Defends
Surveillance, By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press Writer, January 25, 2006, Fort Meade, MD). What on earth is going on here? Why did Mr. Bush, who had no responsibility
more pressing than to bring Mr. bin Laden to justice, take every opportunity
to remind the public that the murderer remained at large?
This is not the first unholy alliance between terrorists and the government
they besiege. The overwhelming public revulsion at terrorist atrocities
sparks the question, Why do they do it? Certainly not to win hearts and
minds; if terrorism were a public relations tool, it would be the most
counter-productive yet devised. But these groups do not aim at peace or
persuasion; rather, their murderous acts are provocations intended to start
war. Outside provocateurs are met by those on the inside: insiders report
the Bush administration had long sought grounds for war with Iraq.
Once upon a time the bombs blowing up in the public square were planted
by socialists, not Islamists. Socialism was given a full and fair trial
during the 20th century, and produced a depressingly uniform result: empty
store shelves. Yet there was a time when this ideology appealed mightily,
not to the workers for whom it claimed to speak, but to underemployed intellectuals.
Like the Islamists who perceive a state of war already present, though
invisible to all but themselves, the socialists perceived the state waging
class warfare against the workers. Class warfare had little appeal to the
public at large, but there were reactionaries only too happy to use the
police power of the state to disadvantage working people. Socialist bomb-throwing
was the very provocation they required for repressive measures. The broader
public's desire for social peace was swamped by the twin extreme fringes'
desire for war.
Science moves forward by prediction rewarded. A theory which predicts what
actually occurs is validated, one which predicts something different is
disconfirmed. Likewise in the political realm: the lunatic fringe becomes
mainstream when its dire predictions are realized. Who could have done
anything but laugh when al Qaeda predicted the U.S. would invade an oil-rich
Arab nation? Who's laughing now? The U.S. did just that, invading Iraq, a
by-stander nation to 9/11. Strictly speaking it is cheating if one
engineers the outcome, yet al Qaeda's goals: dividing the Islamic world,
vacating the broad middle ground, legitimizing extreme thinking,— were accomplished for them by an administration which wanted war every
bit as much as they did. President Bush substituted one enemy for another, with
little fuss from watchdogs in the media and congress, and got 'his' war,
in which he could show the world he was tougher than his dad, who quailed
at going to Baghdad. Al Qaeda, too, got 'their' war: an outright foreign
invasion, difficult to distinguish from the prior colonialist adventures
to which that region had been subject. It pleased them to watch as the beneficent mask
they had long thought false was stripped from the face of the West.
The Muslim community does not always and ever represent a threat to the
peace of the world. History shows the Muslim world going to sleep for centuries
on end. Eruptions of Muslim fanaticism burn themselves out, because once
the equation is fixed in the public mind that Islam=death, new interpretations
are found for the 'Strike off their heads' verses of the Koran. While professors
of this faith may not understand justice, mercy, or good faith, what they
do understand is defeat.
When Mohammed met victory beyond expectation at Badr, he imagined the God
of heaven smiled upon his bloody, tribal warrior ethic. When he met defeat
at Ohod, he imagined instead that an inscrutable fate rules the world.
When this monster awoke and struck the twin towers, it should have been
batted down. The aggressors should have met defeat, not unrelated people
"in the same part of the world."
Yet this was not the war our "war President" wanted to fight.
When the name proposed for our campaign against Afghanistan: 'Infinite
Justice,'— met with Muslim opposition, Mr. Bush obligingly changed the
name. In the end no justice was meted out; the aggressors fled to friendly
ground and went on with their lives. The ideological incoherence of the
'War on Terror:' the idea that Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are the
very same thing, inasmuch as "they hate freedom,"— has made 9/11
a cost-free victory for the Islamic fundamentalists. What they have learned
is that, if they strike America, America will strike down their enemies.
The Moral Landscape
An atheist named Sam Harris wrote a book called 'The Moral Landscape.'
The title is intended to evoke a topographical map, eliding into a sense
that ethics in atheist hands has joined the exact sciences. Lacking the
intellectual wherewithal to develop the concept, Mr. Harris merely
suggests it and then lets it go. His accomplishment is only to revive in
popular literature the nineteenth century moral scheme of utilitarianism:
the idea that human utility, not God's will, is the only criterion of
moral value. At times it seems the terrorists have adopted this ethical
paradigm, though it is not compatible with theism.
Does terrorism work? At times it seems to: Algeria won independence
from France through a campaign of indiscriminate murder against French
nationals, including women and children. At other times, it seems you
can't buy such bad publicity. Years ago, the American public was broadly
sympathetic to the Palestinian Arab population, looking for a settlement
to the Israel-Palestinian conflict which would safeguard their rights as
well as the Zionists. No longer. Anyone today who puts in a good word for
the Palestinians is accused of defending terror. And you can't say
anymore, 'But they never voted for the terrorists,' because they have. No
more efficient technique for eroding public sympathy has yet been
discovered than terrorism.
As noted, al Qaeda's preference for the indiscriminate slaughter of men,
women and children finds little support in early Islamic tradition. However,
it would not be correct to conclude that the rules of war as practiced
by Mohammed and his inner circle conformed to civilized norms. Many of
the ways the Bush Administration has stained this nation's honor and dragged
its flag in the mud find precedent in seventh century Arabia. Killing detainees,
without trial? Mohammed did it. Use of torture for interrogation? He did it.
Even 'pre-emptive war'? He did it. None of these things was unusual or
unexpected for seventh century Arabia. There is worse: lining up unarmed
male detainees in front of a trench and executing them, as at Srebrenica?
He did it. How will those who make this man a model for all seasons reconcile
their ideals with modern civilized usages?:
The Muslims achieved a stunning victory at Badr over the Meccans. One Meccan
captive had made the mistake of speaking ill of Mohammed, which the thin-skinned
prophet could not tolerate:
"Mus'ab replied, 'You used to speak all kinds of calumnies against
the Book of God and His Prophet; you also used the persecute and harm his
companions.' Al Nadr said, 'Had Quraysh taken you captive, I would have
never allowed them to kill you as long as I was alive'; to which Mus'ab
replied, 'By God I do not believe you; I am not like you; Islam has severed
my relations with you.' Al Nadr was the captive of al Miqdad who expected
to receive a great ransom from the captive's family. . .At this the Prophet— may
God's blessing be upon him— said: 'Strike his neck. O God, give al Miqdad
plenty of Your bounty instead.' Ali ibn Abu Talib executed the Prophet's
order with the sword. As the party arrived at Irq al Zubyah, the Prophet
ordered the execution of Uqbah ibn Abu Mu'ayt. When Uqbah pleaded, 'Who
will take care of my children, O Mohammed?' Mohammed answered, 'The fire.'"
(The Life of Muhammad, Muhammad H. Haykal, pp. 233-234).
A Jewish tribe had reneged on their treaty with Mohammed while Medina was
threatened with a Meccan invasion. After a siege ended in stalemate, their
friends the al Aws tribe intervened on their behalf. The prophet offered
them binding arbitration: "Mohammed asked, 'O men of al Aws, would
you be happy if we allowed one of your men to arbitrate the case?'"
The Jewish tribe gratefully consented, believing the verdict would likely
be banishment or confiscation of goods. Not this:
"After his nomination and acceptance as arbitrator, Sa'd sought guarantees
from the two parties that they would abide by his judgment. After these
guarantees were secured, he commanded that Banu Qurayzah come out of their
fortress and surrender their armor. Sa'd then pronounced his verdict that
the fighting men be put to the sword, that their wealth be confiscated
as war booty, and that the women and the children be taken as captives.
When Mohammed heard the verdict, he said: 'By Him Who dominates my soul,
God is pleased with your judgment, O Sa'd; and so are the believers. You
have surely done your duty.' He then proceeded to Medina
where he commanded a large grave to be dug for the
Jewish fighters brought in to be killed and buried."
(The Life of Muhammad, Muhammad H. Haykal, pp. 313-314).
These men had willingly surrendered their arms! Even given years for passions
to cool, as you can read in Washington Irving's biography of the prophet,
Mohammed imagined this 'arbitrator' was rewarded for his fidelity with
When the Bush administration introduced the use of torture to extract
information, this innovation was controversial because it went against everything
this country stands for. It's unChristian and unAmerican. . .but not
unIslamic, as seen at Khaybar:
"The apostle gave orders that the ruin was to be
excavated and some of the treasure was found. When he asked
him about the rest he refused to produce it, so the apostle
gave orders to al-Zubayr b. al-'Awwam,'Torture him until you
extract what he has,' so he kindled a fire with flint and
steel on his chest until he was nearly dead." (The Life of
Muhammad, A Translation of Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah, A.
Guillaume, p. 515).
Cruel and Unusual Punishments
"Narrated Anas: A group of people from 'Ukl (tribe) came to the Prophet and they were living with the people
of As-Suffa, but they became ill as the climate of Medina did not suit them, so they said, "O Allah's Apostle! Provide us
with milk." The Prophet said, I see no other way for you than to use the camels of Allah's Apostle." So they went and drank
the milk and urine of the camels, (as medicine) and became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and took the camels away. When
a help-seeker came to Allah's Apostle, he sent some men in their pursuit, and they were captured and brought before mid day. The Prophet
ordered for some iron pieces to be made red hot, and their eyes were branded with them and their hands and feet were cut off and were not
cauterized. Then they were put at a place called Al-Harra, and when they asked for water to drink they were not given till they
died. (Abu Qilaba said, "Those people committed theft and murder and
fought against Allah and His Apostle.")"
(Hadith Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 82, Number 796.).
The eighth amendment to the U.S. Constitution bars "cruel and unusual"
punishments, of which this is a good example. It's 'unusual' in that this
was not the ordinary punishment for theft or murder. It's 'cruel' in that
these people were not meant to die speedily, but slowly, with their wounds
left uncauterized and water withheld.
When child murderer Anders Behring Breivik went on his murderous
rampage in Norway, the Norwegian police explained that Mr. Breivik
was a "fundamentalist Christian:" "What we know is that he is right
wing and he is a Christian fundamentalist," (First-Person:
Fundamental truths about the Norway Killer, by Terry Mattingly, August 8, 2011, Baptist
Press). The New York Times saw looming "a Christian
version of Al Qaeda:"
"On closer inspection, however, Mr. Breivik’s worldview
does not fit squarely into any of the established categories of
right-wing ideology, like white supremacism, ultranationalism or
Christian fundamentalism. Rather, it reveals a new doctrine of
civilizational war that represents the closest thing yet to a
Christian version of Al Qaeda." (Thomas Hegghammer, July 30,
2011, New York
Times), The Rise of the Macro-Nationalists.)
But the killer's own manifesto left the reader wondering what kind
of 'Christian fundamentalist' this man was: "European Christendom and
the cross will be the symbol in which every cultural conservative can
unite under in our common defense. It should serve as the uniting
symbol for all Europeans whether they are agnostic or atheists." (2083
Manifesto, p. 1307). Agnostics and atheists? Our killer tells us: "I’m
not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a
lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular
surroundings and environment." (2083 Manifesto, p. 1344). The killer
himself calls this work a 'compendium;' there are many authors, some
Christian, others Hindu, Jewish or other. The killer's vision of what it means
to be a 'Christian' does not involve serving God, but rather "cultural
"Q: What about atheists and Odinists, can they join the
PCCTS, Knights Templar?
"A: If you want to fight for the cross and
die under the “cross of the martyrs” it’s required that you are a
practicing Christian, a Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist
(cultural Christian). The cultural factors are more important
than your personal relationship with God, Jesus or the holy
spirit." (2083 Manifesto, p. 1360.)
This is as odd to a Christian as it would be to a Muslim to hear
of a self-professed 'Muslim' who thought an atheist could be a fine
Muslim. Certainly none who follows Jesus can be an atheist,
"And Jesus answered him, The first of all the
commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this
is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other
commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-31).
There is no atheist who is obeying Jesus' "first" command. The word
'Christian' is an ancient word; it appears in the New Testament. In very
many languages the Greek word was simply transliterated rather than
translated. The murderer Breivik wants, it seems, for 'Christian' to mean
something like 'European.' This is not very plausible. The atheist Friedrich
Nietzsche said, "In truth, there was only one Christian and he died on the
cross;" but Jesus never set foot on the European continent. The word 'Christian'
was first coined in Antioch, a city in Syria on the Asian continent: "And
the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch." (Acts 11:26).
It certainly cannot mean anything like 'Nordic,' inasmuch as the apostles
who used this word were only dimly aware of the inhabitants of Scandinavia,
never part of the Roman empire.
To describe Mr. Breivik as any sort of a Christian requires a
postmodern willingness to reopen and revise word definitions, even
of words in continuous use for two millenia. To call him a "Christian
fundamentalist," as the media like to do, requires a willingness to
reopen and revise a word definition coined a century ago, which does not
mean anything like 'violent extremist' as perhaps the Norwegian police
One thing Mr. Breivik did get right, however, is that he understands he is 'married' to the Muslim
jihadis; the success or failure of his European 'cultural conservative' movement
is 100 percent dependent on the willingness of Muslims to play the
bad guys: "The future of conservative movements is directly linked
to the development of Jihadi movements and/or Islam’s influence
in Western societies. It’s a symbiotic relationship." (Anders Behring Breivik, 2083
Manifesto, p. 922). If European Muslims all of a sudden became good
citizens who do not blow things up and do not riot when somebody
draws a cartoon, the air would go out of this balloon in a hurry.
The people want peace, but both extremes want war. Just as 9/11 inflamed public
opinion in the United States, so any future 'patriotic' attack
against Muslims in Europe will polarize public opinion there. Mr. Breivik even considered proposing a joint attack with the jihadis,
because his interest tracked with theirs: "Both groups win if the
attacks are successful. They are one step closer to a Middle Eastern
Caliphate and we are one step closer to a cultural conservative
Western Europe." (Anders Behring Breivik, 2083 Manifesto, p. 959.) In
his preposterous series of military commendations, he includes one
for stirring up the jihadi hornets' nest:
“The 'Distinguished Wielder of the Furious Scimitar
Commendation' is awarded to personnel who have initiated a
manipulative and destructive attack against an Islamic cultural
center or mosque inflicting at least 10 casualties to
worshippers/employees. The secondary effects of this attack will be
significant as many Muslims will set out on a short or long term
Jihadi rampage campaign causing significant and additional
destruction and chaos.” (Anders Behring Breivik, 2083 Manifesto, p.
He awards three stars if he gets the reaction he wants: "Violent Pan
European or international Islamic reaction: three stars." (ibid. p.
1081). Mr. Breivik is very consciously mirroring jihadi tactics: "The
Muslims showed us that deadly shock attacks are the only tool we have at
the moment which will guarantee that our voice is heard." (2083
Manifesto, p. 1351). In fact these tactics have not worked for those who
originated them. Forty years ago there was a reservoir of sympathy for
the Palestinian Arab population amongst the American people; today there
is none. The American public hears of the Israeli blockade of Gaza with stony
indifference. Why? Because when they think 'Palestinian' they think
'terrorist.' There is no surer way to choke off and forfeit the sympathy
of humankind than by targeting defenseless civilians. Violence only hardens hearts, which is why violence begets violence.
The way of Jesus can break the cycle of violence, while 'teaching them a
lesson' only rolls it forward.