We need to talk about Islam

Islam is a problem; there is no getting around it. In the last 15 years violence has spread across the Islamic world like a plague. Islamic terror attacks have spread that violence into the West. Supposedly democratic revolutions have been replaced by either a return to dictatorship, or hardline theocratic governments with dreams of empire. Throughout all of this Muslims have demanded we keep silent as even discussing it is offensive to them.

15 years ago was the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi prince and Islamic hardliner, planned the attacks to draw the Western Alliance into a war they could not win. 15 years later he must be laughing from the grave, his plan worked flawlessly. We’ve spent millions of lives and trillions of dollars but in spite, or perhaps because of that, Islamic hardliners now rule over their ashen kingdoms from Tripoli in Africa to the Khyber Pass in the Himalayas.

The devastation has naturally created a migration crisis as millions of those rich enough or strong enough to flee arrive on Western shores. They carry the very ideology that started the war, and provide cover for the hardliners to infiltrate and recruit. In Western countries they find soft targets everywhere, they exploit the very freedom we give them in order to hurt us in the most gruesome ways.

The policy to date has been one of bombs away but don’t criticize Islam. To wonder for a moment why Al Qaida or ISIS might feel their violence is justified according to their religion is to risk the accusation of racist, Islamophobe, or bigot. This comes from the left of course, anything outside of their narrow understanding of things is racism, but it also comes from Muslims themselves. When discussing the war and the reasons for it the mere mention of the Qur’an, even in a neutral tone, will elicit outrage from Muslims.

The practice of pretending the problem “isn’t Islam” is not working. Through unprecedented military, intelligence and diplomatic capability we have replaced dozens of governments, killed thousands of so called leaders, and hundreds of thousands of their followers, yet we are further from peace than we have ever been. Through liberating Muslims from the restraints of tyrants we have freed them to become something wholly worse.

Islamic freedom is the freedom to punish those who rebel against Islam. You don’t have to dig far into Islamic theology to find that the concept of freedom comes with a huge asterisk. Mohammad al-Shirazi, an Iranian cleric, wrote about freedom in detail in his book ‘The New Order for the World of Faith, Freedom, Welfare and Peace’. At the beginning it seems fairly reasonable, that rights are afforded to both Muslims and non-Muslims, but by point 10 it’s clear that freedom in Islam is the freedom to be ruled by Islam. He concludes:

In the matters with which Islam is in accord, it is clear that the Islamic expression of them – whether that be in the Qur’an or in the sunna – is more precise, deeper and profound and more in concord with the desired meaning than the prevailing expressions used in our time which were laid down by a group of scholars, jurists, and legalists after effort and inquiry, as well as adoption from Islam…
In the matters where Islam differs from man made laws, we always can see that the Islamic view is more fitting and more appropriate for both the individual and society…
There is no cure for the world if it wants to reclaim its nobility, its freedom and its humanity except by a return to the freedoms laid out in Islam according to the methods mentioned in the Qur’an and the sunna.”

So when terrorists call themselves freedom fighters we can understand they do so earnestly from their own point of view. The Charlie Hebdo attack was an expression of Islamic freedom against rebels breaking Islamic law. They believe in the freedom to be Muslim, but not the freedom not to be.

Pointing this out, criticizing their religion, understanding it and then rejecting it is a violation of their freedom according to Islam. Not knowing the Qu’ran is fine, ignorance is natural, but knowing the Qu’ran and rejecting its teachings is an act of hostility which can be answered with violence.

Islam apologists tell us that it is only a minority with a false interpretation. In the past they’ve been able to make this case because the Islamists have not been able to get their message across. ISIS solved that problem through cunning use of social media and English language propaganda. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of theology can see that their interpretation is not false, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it – this is Islam; Islamic State radicals are “good Muslims”, they’re the actual Muslims.

In fact the Qu’ran explicitly holds those who fight in the name of Islam above those who do not. Chapter 4 verse 95 promises a greater reward to those who take up arms or offer funding in the cause of Islam. It might be true that not all Muslims believe that but it’s a hard case to make that terrorists are doing anything other than obeying the dictates of Islam.

So the problem is Islam itself. Right now Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters lay siege to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and key ISIS stronghold. If this can be considered a victory it is a temporary one at best. Taking territory from ISIS will once again leave us with hundreds of thousands of radicalized Muslim youth with nowhere to go and nothing to lose.

What will replace ISIS as the world’s leading terror organization is tough to say, but something will replace it; new tactics and strategies, new rhetoric, a new organizational structure and new accountants holding the purse strings will not erase the fact that it will still be the same basic beast. Dealing with this will come at an increasingly unaffordable cost to Western countries with Muslim minorities.

Policing the Muslim community is a wicked problem. In order to have Muslim communities in Western countries Western governments must police them for radicalization, crossing the line between maintaining law and order and policing religion itself. The act of secular government interference in the Islamic faith breeds resentment and further encourages radicalization. It is both a necessary but counterproductive policy, it is a short term band aid for a problem that is only going to get worse.

Terrorist organizations have math on their side, the same math that saw Britain abolish Fighter Command to focus on bombers – some attacks will always get through. If we can stop 99% of attacks then they will try one hundred times. Their human resources are inexhaustible thanks to a high fertility rate and with social forces on their side the death toll will increase.

But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and while belated the Western reaction is inevitable. Few of us have personally felt the sting of terrorism yet, but how long is it until no one among us does not know someone who knows someone affected by an attack? How long until we each know someone who has lost someone? How long until those with a righteous grudge outnumber the naïve? How long is Western good grace expected to last?

The day is coming when innocent Muslims in the west will be given a choice – give up your religion or leave. How long until we reach this day I am unsure but it is only a matter of time and the longer we wait the more painful the choice will be.

  • It’s good to see this viewpoint spelled out so clearly. Here are my thoughts.

    Attempts to drive out Muslims would result in considerable resistance not only from Muslims but from a significant proportion of the non-Muslim population. It would be politically “interesting times”.

    The view that Muslim countries are incapable of achieving social and political progress until they abandon or greatly dilute their religion is a rather grim prognosis.

    My feeling is that the Sunnis have now experienced both “secular” tyranny and the calliphate and are now more ready for a bit of liberty. That will not extend to drawing Mohammed cartoons, burning the Koran or wearing bikinis. However, it will allow for accountable government and freedom to criticize and vote out politicians. We already have this in Iraq as a result of Bush’s decision to liberate that country from the Baath Party. We can also expect to see the position of women change as the economies develop and they are drawn into the workforce.

    How things develop in Syria and Iraq will be critical. This means not just militarily defeating Daesh but also helping to facilitate accountable government and economic development.

    Unlike the “clash of civilization” view, I look forward to western (ie modern) values and societies becoming global over the course of the next century. We in the west should do everything we can to facilitate this rather than washing our hands of the world and pulling up the drawbridge. I am thinking of such things as Wall Street seriously ramping up capital exports to the more backward regions, more Bill Gates style philanthropy and more government help to countries attempting to shake off tyranny and kleptocracy.