Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Islam and Extremism: What is Underneath

[ Gatestone Institute, November 1, 2012.  Revised and expanded, February 23, 2013. ]

By William DiPuccio, Ph.D.

An excursion into the blogosphere reveals the polarization which attends Islamic issues.  Comment areas are populated with readers who seem to think that Islam is a monolithic belief system.  This myth, maintained by both “Islamophiles” and “Islamophobes,” has overshadowed any nuanced discussion of Islam.

Islam is a diverse religion.  Many Muslims who have immigrated to America and Europe have adopted Western ideals of free speech and religious toleration.  Those in the United States have done particularly well in assimilating these values.[1]  In a democracy, in which the individual is regarded as the basic unit of society, a person is judged not by his ethnic or religious associations, but by his ideas and behavior.

Although nearly half (42%) of the American public, as well as the U.S. government, believe that Islam is no more likely to encourage violence than any other religion,[2] the radical tendencies which exist in Islam are unambiguously present and they continue to fuel terrorism and supremacist ideologies, such as Islamism, on a scale not seen in other modern religions.  This fact, though politically incorrect, has not escaped the notice of Muslims here in the U.S.  According to a 2011 Pew survey, 60% of Muslim Americans are concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism in the U.S., and 21% feel that there is significant support for extremism in the Muslim community.[3]

Americans and government officials who deny that there is a religious link between Islam and terrorism face a disconnect between their idealism, which seeks the good in all things, and the hard edge of historical reality.  Western liberal optimism places its faith in reason and the essential goodness of mankind.  According to this worldview, Islam is a religion of peace, and, given favorable political and economic opportunities, even terrorists can be persuaded to live in harmony with the rest of the world.

By seeing Islam through this lens, American idealists and their European counterparts are projecting Western democratic values upon the Islamic world in the sincere belief that in the end, reason and human goodness will triumph.[4]  As many of these values, discussed in detail below, are at the core of America’s identity, errors in judgment can have grave consequences for American foreign policy, domestic security, and even our constitution.

Islam and Democratic Values

There is a popular belief, especially in America, that all people, deep down, want democracy, individual liberty, toleration, peace, and equality under the law. While undoubtedly true of many, this modern ideal assumes that everyone is the same; that anyone who is educated in the ways of Western democratic, ideals will embrace them if given a chance, and that inequalities in the world are the product of bad governments, not bad people.

The reconstruction of Germany and Japan after WWII, and the successful adoption of democracy by those countries, appeared to validate this notion and emboldened the U.S. to employ the same nation-building strategy in the Mid East.  Among these Muslim nations, however, universal democracy has proven to be an illusion leading to over a half century of misguided foreign policy that has repeatedly failed.  In what can only be characterized as an embarrassing display of ignorance, the U.S. has consistently underestimated the depth and determination of Islam’s political ideology.[5]  Nazism, Japanese imperialism, and Soviet brand communism were a mere flash-in-the-pan compared to Islamic supremacism, the roots of which go back fourteen centuries.  Islamism is here to stay.

U.S. military and economic intervention in Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and even Afghanistan have failed either to hold Islamists at bay or to establish stable Islamic democracies.  The so-called “Arab Spring,” which re-energized hopes of establishing democracy in the Mid East and Africa, has turned icy; in every country, fascist regimes collapsed under the pressure of popular uprisings, only to be replaced by radical Islamic governments.  It is clear that many Muslims either prefer Shariah law to democracy, are willing to acquiesce to the will of militant Islamists[6], or have no capability with which to fend off the militant Islamists.

Globally, the story is the same.  Out of the 57 nations which comprise the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, only three rise to the level of flawed democracies, according to the 2010 Democracy Index by The Economist.[7]  With the exception of communist and former communist countries, Islamic nations impose the highest level of government restrictions on religion.  Among the predominantly Islamic countries in the Mid East and North Africa, 80% have anti-blasphemy laws and 60% of these nations enforce them.[8]  Democracy, individual liberty, free speech, toleration, and equality are simply not consistent – or even compatible – with traditional Islamic theology and Shariah law.

Freedom of Religious Expression

While many Muslims, especially those who have embraced Western ideals, just want to practice their religion and live in peace like other people in America and Europe, that view is positively contrary to the directives of the Quran and especially to the beliefs of Muslim supremacists whose numbers, though small, are increasing rapidly throughout America and Europe.

The very concept of religion in traditional Islam differs considerably from Christianity, Judaism, and most other world religions.  Since the time of the Enlightenment and the rise of secular governments, Americans and Europeans have looked upon religion primarily as a personal affair of the heart.  They want to live in a tolerant society that reflects their common values, and where they are free to practice their religion without compulsion or hostility.  But Islamism is not just a religion; it is also a totalitarian ideology. It regulates not only religious practice, but also civil law, public speech, dress, diet, marriage, family, economics, education, property, and defense.  Totalitarian control does not stop there, those who choose to leave Islam are often threatened with death.  Unlike Christianity, which recognizes the divine legitimacy of secular government (see Paul’s letter to the Romans 13:1-7), Islamism recognizes only one legitimate form of government:  Theocracy.  The imam is effectively, if not actually, the head of state.

Islamists cannot co-exist indefinitely with other religions in a pluralistic society as simply one of many.  As Muslims have become more numerous in Western countries, especially in France, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom, their strict adherents agitate for greater social control, often at the expense of the individual liberties of others.  Criticism of their religion, their prophet, or their holy book is often met with threats, intimidation, and sometimes violence.  This is especially true in the dozens of so-called “no-go zones” throughout Europe – Muslim-controlled areas that are off limits to non-Muslim citizens and even law enforcement officers.[9]

Islamists in America and Europe have already succeeded in eroding the rights of free speech, and are working to erode it even further.  These include the right of Christians to proclaim their faith to Muslims, the right of non-Muslims to wear religious jewelry and clothing, and the right of Muslims to leave their own faith (under Shariah law apostasy is punishable by death).   Those who dare practice their First Amendment rights of free speech in America by questioning Muhammad or the Quran, are branded “Islamophobes” or “racists,” or, as with Nick Berg or Daniel Pearl, even place their lives at risk.  Offensive speech in America is sometimes punished by injuring or killing Americans abroad. In 2012, a poorly made, 13 minute You Tube video on the life of Muhammad provoked a long succession of violent protests against Americans by Muslims throughout the world.[10]

These threats and violent responses have created a chilling effect on the exercise of free speech.  Islamic supremacists have come to realize that they do not have to change the First Amendment to suppress criticism of their faith, they only have to render it ineffective. Over the past few years there have been several highly publicized instances of self-censorship by the American media.[11]  Even academic inquiries, once a stronghold of free speech, operate under the fear of Islamic reprisals.  In 2009 Yale University Press refused to reprint any cartoons of Muhammad in a book by Jytte Klarsen about these cartoons.  A similar incident took place in 2012 in the United Kingdom when a British television station decided to cancel the screening of a controversial documentary on Islam by a British writer and historian.[12]  National Geographic, as well, was forced to increase security at its headquarters after threats were made over its recent documentary, “SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden.”[13]

In Europe and Canada, hate-speech laws are invoked against those who are perceived to have offended Muslims or their religion.  Proving such accusations can result in lengthy and expensive court trials for defendants.  Dutch Parliamentarian, Gert Wilders, endured three years of litigation in Dutch courts before he was finally exonerated.[14]  And at the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has promoted “defamation of religion” resolutions that would criminalize speech deemed offensive to Islam.  A watered down version of these resolutions, ostensibly to combat religious “intolerance,” has been passed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, but the OIC has made it clear that their ultimate goal is to criminalize any criticism of the Quran or Muhammad.[15]

Islamic supremacism is tooled for a multi-generational struggle with the West, a "Civilization-Jihadist Process" which, as the Shura Council of the Muslim Brotherhood explains, “is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.”[16]  Many Muslim leaders who live in the United States refuse to accept the separation of mosque and state.  Organizations such as CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the AMJA (Assembly of Muslim Jurists in America) are resolved to bring American law into compliance with Shariah law, at the expense of the U.S. Constitution.[17]

Even more alarming, perhaps, are the results of a recent scientific poll of Muslim Americans which found that 39% of Muslims in the U.S. believe they should not be judged by U.S. law and the Constitution, but by Shariah

standards even in American courts.  Nearly one third of those polled (32%) believe that Shariah should be the supreme law of the land.[18]

Attempts to soft-pedal Shariah law are pervasive among Islamist attorneys who dissemble to avoid revealing both Shariah law’s inequities and its incompatibility with universal human rights.[19]  Currently, the Center for Security Policy has tracked some 50 U.S. court cases involving “conflict of law” between Shariah and American state law.  According to the Center, this is only a sample of the total number of possible cases.  The report concludes “that Shariah law has entered into state court decisions, in conflict with the Constitution and state public policy.”[20]

In Britain, at least 85 Shariah courts are already in operation.[21]  U.S. legislation designed to prevent undue accommodation to foreign laws (including Shariah) by American courts has been passed in several states without a constitutional challenge.  ALAC, American Law for American Courts, is vehemently opposed by CAIR as unconstitutional and anti-Islamic.  CAIR’s resistance is itself an indication that its leaders are reluctant or unwilling to accept the authority of American law.[22]

Universal Human Rights

The American founding fathers rightly believed that equality, free speech, and religious freedom, are universal and inalienable human rights.  Such rights are granted by God, not by government.  Consequently they cannot be abridged or revoked by government.  On the contrary, Islamists maintain that equality, free speech, and religious freedom are not granted by Allah.  They are neither universal nor inalienable and cannot be condoned by Islamic government.

In defiance of the U.N.’s 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights,[23] Islamists recognize only those rights which are narrowly granted under Shariah law by the Quran and the Hadith (the traditional account of the life and sayings of Mohammed, written many years after his death.).  This alternative view of human rights was clearly set forth in the 1990 Cairo Declaration, endorsed by all 57 nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.[24]  In Shariah compliant cultures, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, inequalities between men and women, or Muslims and non-Muslims, are the rule rather than the exception.  Women, Christians, Jews, polytheists and especially atheists are regarded as socially, legally, and even mentally inferior to Muslim men.[25]

While Christianity and Judaism teach that all people should be treated with kindness and respect because they are created in God’s image (see Matthew 5:43-44, 1 John 4:20), the Quran forbids friendship with unbelievers (Quran 5:51)[26] and considers it unlawful even to give them charity (zakat).[27]  Non-Muslims are forced to embrace Islam or be reduced to dhimmis – second-class citizens.  Under Shariah law, dhimmitude is a form of subjugation, which limits the social, religious, legal, and economic rights of non-believers, and imposes a special tax burden on them as a penalty for rejecting Islam.

Religious Tolerance and Free Speech

The traditional Western model of coexisting with observant Muslims has been one of respect and religious toleration, on the assumption that such gestures of kindness and accommodation would be reciprocated.  Tolerance and accommodation, however, necessitate compromises which enable opposing parties, religions, and ideologies to live in peace with each other.  You may not agree with the Muslim or Hindu down the street, but you believe he has a right to practice his religion and discuss it freely in the public square.  In order to create a tolerant society, this right needs to be reciprocal.

While many American Muslims have happily adopted this principle of reciprocal respect, Islamic supremacists in the U.S. have taken advantage of its openness to disseminate their beliefs, with no intention of reciprocating.  In their view, such a compromise is not possible even in non-Muslim nations. Guided by Islamic law, which imposes severe punishments for both Muslims and non-Muslims who criticize, question, or oppose either Islam or Muhammad,[28] Islamic extremists use shouts, threats, lawsuits, and even violence to shut down any speech that is perceived as disrespectful of Islam regardless of its intent.[29]

In a recent scientific poll on the beliefs and attitudes of American Muslims, 46% of the respondents said that Americans who offer criticism or parodies of Islam should face criminal charges.  Nearly 12% said they think those Americans who criticize or parody Islam should face the death penalty, while another 9% said they were unsure on the question.  Nearly half (42%) said non-Muslims do not have the right to evangelize Muslims.[30]

As religious freedom in America hinges on the First Amendment, by effectively eliminating dissent, Islamists hope to propagate their ideology without being inconvenienced by a vocal opposition.  Historically, the control of information – using government power to silence “offensive” speech – is one of the first steps in establishing a dictatorial or totalitarian rule.

Following a chain of violent, overseas protests last year against a YouTube video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” the imam of Michigan’s largest Islamic center in Dearborn, condemned the violence but also urged the American government to stop the producers and promoters of the U.S. made video. “Somehow, they should be stopped,” said Hassan Al-Qazwini. “The U.S. response should be much more stronger than verbal condemnation.”  Mohammad Qatanani, one of the most prominent imams in North America, suggested that limiting free speech is a matter of national security and called upon the Department of Homeland Security to suppress all speech critical of Islam.[31]

Recent First Amendment lawsuits against heavy-handed Islamist tactics may signal the beginning of an alarming trend already underway in Europe.  In the instance of Florida Pastor, Terry Jones, who gained notoriety for burning copies of the Quran,[32] both the city of Dearborn, which is over 40% Muslim, and the Dearborn District Court, were complicit in systematically denying Pastor Jones’s constitutional right to protest Islamic beliefs and practices (Jihad, Sharia Law, the radicalization of American Muslims) on public property in front of Dearborn’s Islamic center.  But, the Wayne County Circuit court finally decided in favor of Jones, despite the offensive content of his speech.[33]

At the international level, the religious liberties Muslims enjoy here in America are also not being reciprocated by most Islamic nations.  Instead, Christianity and Judaism are suppressed; Christians and Jews are sometimes harassed, persecuted, jailed, and even killed. The Saudis, for example, are permitted to fund the building of U.S. mosques and Islamic centers, and to supply anti-Semitic and supremacist-based curriculum material to American Muslim schools.[34]  In Saudi Arabia, however, it is illegal to build a church or even gather as Christians to worship.[35]  A declaration from a Saudi cleric last year, called for the destruction of all churches on the Arabian peninsula.[36]

Islam’s Radical Fringe

Out of roughly 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, Islamist radicals are but a tiny minority.  Many Americans would like to believe that there are vast numbers of moderate Muslims who will rein in the small factions of radical Islamists.  Unfortunately, this blissful view of the Islamic world is contradicted by the facts.

Although there are few Muslims who are willing to strap a bomb around their waist, extremists nevertheless enjoy an extensive base of moral and material support.  Countless international polls show that approval for Islamic violence, especially anti-Semitic violence, is widespread.  A 2011 Pew global research poll revealed that even though support for al Qaeda is declining, support for the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah is still strong in Islamic countries – 42% - 61% in Jordan, Egypt and Palestinian territories; 33% - 38% in Lebanon and Indonesia, and 5% - 14% in Turkey and Pakistan.  Among these same countries, support for suicide bombings against civilians ranged from 4% to 68% – averaging 23.5% for all seven nations.[37]  These percentages add up to tens of millions of potential aides and sponsors of terrorism from these countries alone.  Globally, the number could be in the hundreds of millions.

Support for terrorism does not stop at U.S. shores.  A 2011 study published in the Middle East Quarterly concluded that of 100 U.S. mosques surveyed, a total of 81% had literature that either directly advocated violence (51%), or supported violence (30%), in the interest of spreading Islam and implementing Shariah law.[38]  Also, although Muslim-Americans are apparently more culturally assimilated than their religious leaders or their European counterparts, a 2011 Pew research poll found that a total of 13% of Muslim-Americans believe that suicide bombings against civilians can be justified – 5% rarely, 7% sometimes, and 1% often.[39]  With an estimated American Muslim population of 2.75 million,[40] this translates to 220,000 Muslims (8%) who sometimes or often support suicide bombings.  Vigorous efforts are underway to recruit these as potential terrorists from the fringes of the Muslim community.[41]  In view of the 9/11 attacks and the Fort Hood shooting, their impact could be much larger than their small numbers suggest.

Moderate Muslims will not rein in radical Islamists because extremists are the ones who drive the train.  In many Muslim countries the majority does not rule.  Instead, a fervent minority imposes its agenda on large populations through persuasion, or, failing that, through intimidation – often justified by appeals to Islamic tenets.  This model was developed in the seventh century by Muhammad and the first generation of Muslims: a relatively small band of followers conquered and converted the entire Arabian peninsula by the sword in fewer than 30 years, during which thousands of Arabs and Jews were slaughtered.  The promise of democracy, heralded by the so-called Arab spring, has already been extinguished by the sword of Muslim supremacism.  If there is a large majority of moderate Muslims, they are either unable or unwilling to resist the advance of Islamists.

To put this “tiny minority” of extremists in perspective, consider the numbers.  Muslim world population is approaching two billion.  Even a “tiny minority,” say 1%, would number 20 million (not to mention the tens of millions of willing adherents).  Though scattered throughout the world, this is an army sufficient to destabilize governments, subvert cultures, and terrorize millions of innocent people. Since 9/11 there have been tens of thousands of documented terrorist attacks carried out by this “tiny minority” of Islamic supremacists.[42]

Religion and Deception

Most Muslims in the U.S. feel free to speak candidly about their beliefs because they have adopted western democratic values and enjoy constitutionally protected free speech and religious tolerance.  However, Muslim supremacists in the U.S. and elsewhere often disseminate their subversive agenda by more covert means. Islamists are sanctioned by Shariah law to propagate their radical faith by stealth and deception if necessary.  This practice, which is known as taqiyyah (dissimulation), or kitman (concealment), is deeply embedded in the history of Islam, and forms an essential first step in jihad – the holy war on unbelievers.[43] Yet, many in the Western press continue to take the words of Islamic leaders at face value without adequate scrutiny.

Consider recently elected Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi.  When addressing his followers he promises to establish a strict Islamic state and renew hostilities with Israel.  But when addressing the nation he talks about democracy, inclusion, and honoring international treaties.[44]  Islamists often refrain from discussing the unsavory aspects of their faith such as the degradation of women, the suppression of free speech, the killing of apostates, the death penalty for adultery, homosexuality and “blasphemy,” and amputation for crimes of theft.  Some even deny that such problems exist.

A number of major Muslim organizations in America with clouded histories have had and may still have affiliations, clandestine or otherwise, with international Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.  Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who originally spearheaded the so-called Ground Zero mosque, condemns terrorism, but then equivocates when pressed to denounce specific terrorist organizations such as Hamas.[45]  The AMJA, a high profile association of Muslim attorneys, instructs its members to engage in legal deception in order to eventually supplant U.S. laws with Shariah.[46]  CAIR, which presents itself as the face of moderate American Islam, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator for funding Hamas terrorists in the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial.[47]  The FBI severed its relationship with CAIR shortly after.  These Islamic organizations all appear to engage in concealment, lies and half-truths, possibly to propagate subversive agendas.

The Religion of Peace

There are many Muslims throughout the world who would prefer to live in peace and have no desire to spread Islam by force.  Some have fled to the U.S. and Europe to escape the violence and oppression imposed in their native countries by Islamists and Shariah law.  Historically, however, Islam has always been a religion at war with the world and even with itself. As traditional Islamic teaching attests, there are only two abodes in the world: Dar al Islam – the Abode of Islam, where the edicts of the Muslim faith are fully promulgated; and, Dar al Harb – the Abode of War, where infidels have not yet been subdued by Islam. For the believer, this distinction leaves one either inside Islam, or at war with non-Muslims, to bring them under Islamic rule.

Shortly after the 9/11 attacks of 2001, President George Bush announced to the world that the United States was not at war with Islam as it is a “religion of peace.” His successor, President Barack Obama, has continued to advance this policy.  Driven either by a sincere belief in that definition, or the fear of being accused of “racism” and “Islamaphobia,” or possibly deferring to a bloc of well-funded special interests, the U.S. government has pursued a politically correct doctrine which willfully turns a blind eye to any connection between terrorism and Islam.  A prominent example of this doctrine is the labeling of the 2009 Fort Hood shooting by Major Nidal Hasan as “work place violence.” Hasan not only came under the influence of radical Islamic teaching, but had “S.O.A.,” Soldier of Allah, printed on his business cards, and according to witnesses shouted "Allahu Akbar" (“Allah is Greater!”) as he gunned down 13 people.[48]

Those who maintain that traditional Islam is a “religion of peace,” labor under the naïve assumption that jihad (Islamic holy war) is only permitted in self-defense, so Muslims would never strike unless they are threatened or attacked first.  But, what constitutes a threat or an attack – or any perceived “offense” – can be a cartoon, a movie trailer, or even children in kindergarten naming a toy teddy bear, Mohammed.[49]  Throughout Islamic history, the invasive nature of jihad was so evident as to be beyond all question.  But modern Muslim apologists have muddied the water with interpretations of the Quran which obfuscate or sanitize the original meaning.  According to the widely respected Dictionary of Islam (1885), which is still available from Islamic publishers, jihad is defined as (emphasis mine):

A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.  It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Qur’an and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims… [Quoting from the Hanafi school, Hedaya, 2:140, 141.], “The destruction of the sword is incurred by infidels, although they be not the first aggressors, as appears from various passages in the traditions which are generally received to this effect.”[50]

If infidels refuse the call to Islam and do not agree to pay the dhimmi tax, called jizya, in recognition of their subservience, Muslims are required to make war upon them, “set fire to their habitations … inundate them with water and tear up their plantations and tread down their grain,” to weaken their resolve.[51]  Muslims are directed to engage in a perpetual holy war against unbelievers until they submit to Islamic rule. This longstanding historical interpretation is fully supported by modern Islamists and serves as the propelling force behind their aggression.[52]

When Islamists call their religion “a religion of peace,” they mean something quite different than the commonly received Western understanding of “peace” or harmony among people of differing loyalties. Saudi Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid explains in his fatwa (religious ruling), “Yes, it is the religion of peace but in the sense of saving all of mankind from worshipping anything other than Allaah and submitting all of mankind to the rule of Allaah.”[53]  In other words, once the world submits to Islam, there will be peace – Pax Islama.

Terrorism and Western Oppression

When one hears that Islamic terrorism is a reaction to Western political and economic oppression, and American foreign policy,[54] the assertion seems reasonable enough to merit credibility.  American and European foreign policy – support for Israel, meddling in Mid East politics, infidel feet on Islamic soil, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan – have put the U.S. in the cross-hairs of Islamists and have likely stepped-up the frequency of terror attacks on Western targets.  Terrorists skillfully use American and European foreign policy to justify or rationalize their aggression and to evoke sympathy for terrorist acts against innocent civilians of all faiths (including other Muslims), thus turning criminals into victims.

Unfortunately, however, there is nothing the West can actually do to achieve peace with Islamic extremists, short of becoming Muslim or paying the dhimmi tax under Islamic subjugation.[55]  Islamists use the United States, the “Great Satan,” as a foil for their hatred of “decadent” Western civilization and Christianity; and they use Israel, the “Little Satan,” as a foil for their hatred of Jews, who, according to the Quran (5:60),[56] were cursed by Allah and turned into apes and pigs for their disobedience. The stated goal of Islamic extremists is not simply to free Arab lands from Western interference and to annihilate Israel (which has no right to exist in their view), but to consolidate the global “Ummah” (Islamic nation), and establish a Muslim empire ruled by a universal Caliph.  While this may seem rather improbable, if not unbelievable, to Westerners, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Mujahideen regard the restoration of the Caliphate as one of their main objectives.[57]  These organizations have outspokenly devoted themselves to a violent, never-ending struggle to bring about this end.  In the well-known words of the Muslim Brotherhood’s creed, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”[58]

Another cause of terrorism among Muslim factions is internal strife.  Islamists seem to be driven not only to establish the hegemony of Islam by supplanting secular governments and legal systems, but also by enforcing religious purity according to their own standards.  Violence between Sunni and Shiite extremists has been ongoing in Muslim countries for over a millennium.  Wahhabi and Salafist purists export violence and terrorism to Islamic states and Muslim communities around the world, while imposing strict compliance with Shariah law on other Muslims.  Over the past five years, 82% - 97% of terrorism victims worldwide have been Muslims.  Most of these casualties were the result of Islamic factional violence.  Last year, the greatest number of major terrorist attacks (that is, involving 10 or more deaths) took place in Muslim-majority countries.[59]

Most of the violence carried out by Islamic supremacists has no direct connection to Israel or the U.S., and little or nothing to do with economic and political oppression.  If both Israel and the U.S. were to disappear today, Boko Haram (the name means, “Western Education is Forbidden”) terrorists would continue to slaughter Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and burn churches to the ground.  Islamists in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh would still persecute and kill Hindus, as they have for centuries.  The Janjaweed Islamic militia would carry on its genocidal slaughter against Christians in Sudan.  Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions would persist in their violent struggle for power.  The persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt would press ahead uninhibited.  Oppression and violence against Muslim women under Shariah law would most likely increase. The Taliban in Afghanistan would keep on poisoning and shooting Muslim girls for attending school and affirming their right to be educated.  The cadence of misery inflicted upon the world by Islamic extremists would not miss a beat.[60]

As Robert Durie Osborn, a British major who served in India during the nineteenth century, put it: “They are strong only for destruction. When that work is over, they either prey upon each other, or beat themselves to death against the bars of their prison-house.”[61]

Indifference is Not an Option

Islamic supremacism likely poses a multi-generational threat to the existence of Western civilization – perhaps the greatest threat it has ever faced.  As members of American society, Muslims – most of whom were undoubtedly fleeing abuse, not trying to bring it with them – should of course be treated with respect, and their religion afforded the same deference we extend to other religions.  But our civility should not blind us to the potential for extremism in the Muslim community – a concern shared by 60% of Muslim Americans – or to the religious connections between Islam and terrorism.  Considering the magnitude of the threat, we can no longer afford to entertain the naïve and dangerous premise, which argues that all religions are essentially the same:  Islam is different.

William DiPuccio holds a Ph.D. in religious studies and has authored numerous articles and essays on both religion and science.  He has also worked and taught in both fields.  You can find his blog, Science Et Cetera, at


[1] Pew Research Center,  “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.”

[2] Pew Research Center,  “Continuing Divide in Views of Islam and Violence,”; Daniel Greenfield, “Behind the Culture of Terrorism Denial,” Canada Free Press (January 3, 2010).  See also Raymond Ibrahim, “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?,” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2009).

[3] Ibid., Pew Research Center.

[4] Julia Duin, “Islamic dissidents warn humanists to beware radicals,” Washington Times (2003-04-13).

[5] Mark Silverberg, “America’s Middle East Delusions,” Family Security Matters (July 31, 2012).

[6] Despite positive views of democracy, polls show support for Shariah is still strong.  See survey by Pew Research Center, “Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life”;  John Bradley, “As hated leaders are replaced by even more brutally oppressive regimes across the Middle East, the Arab Spring has become a sick joke,” Mail Online (28 June 2012); Raheel Raza, “Arab Spring vs. Women's Rights” Gatestone Institute (June 21, 2012).

[7]  Even Indonesia, often extolled as a model Islamic democracy, has restrictions on religious freedom.  See “Indonesia Regent Orders Closure Of Churches,” BosNewsLife Asia Service (July 1, 2012).

[8] See The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, “Rising Restrictions on Religion,” Executive Summary and Laws Against Blasphemy, Apostasy and Defamation of Religion.

[9] Soeren Kern, “France Seeks to Reclaim 'No-Go' Zones,” Gatestone Institute (Aug 24, 2012).

[10] Tiffany Gabbay, “More Than a Movie: Experts Claim Real Reason for U.S. Embassy Attacks Is Much More Sinister”The Blaze (Sep 13, 2012).

[11] Adam Turner, “RIP: Free Speech about Islam,” American Thinker (July 8, 2012).  Robert Spencer, “Suicide of the Western Media,” Assyrian International News Agency (July 16, 2012); David J. Rusin, “The BBC Broadcasts Its Own Dhimmitude,” PJ Media (May 8, 2012); Joe Piazza, “Islam Becomes Taboo Topic on TV in Wake of 'South Park' Threats and Times Square Scare,” Fox News (May 7, 2010); also see numerous references at Quoting Islam.

[12] Patricia Cohen, “Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book” New York Times (Aug 12, 2009); Liz Thomas, “Screening of controversial Channel 4 documentary on history of Islam cancelled after presenter is threatened,” Mail Online (Sep 11, 2012);

[13] Ian Mohr, “NatGeo TV on terror alert,” New York Post (Oct 17, 2012). The Taliban has also threatened major media outlets for their sympathetic coverage of Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old Packistani school girl who was shot by the Taliban for her outspoken defense of girl’s education: Emily Senger, “Taliban upset at coverage of Malala Yousafzai murder attempt,” (Oct 17, 2012).

[14] Adam Turner, “February was Hate Speech Month in Europe,” The Legal Project (Mar 14, 2011); “Trial of Geert Wilders,” Wikipedia.

[15]Defamation of Religions,” The Legal Project; Patrick Goodenough, “Islamic Bloc Revives Drive to Outlaw ‘Religious Defamation’ Worldwide,” CNS News (Sep 20, 2012); Diaa Hadid, “Islamic group calls for ban on offending prophet,” Associated Press (Sep 30, 2012); “Algeria at UN: Limit free speech‚ protect Islam,” The Himalayan (Sep 30, 2012); Patrick Goodenough, “Obama Administration Welcoming Islamic Group to Washington for Discussion on ‘Tolerance’,” (Dec 9, 2011).

[16] Mohamed Akram, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism (May 19. 1991).

[17] See “Mainstream American Muslim Jurists’ Blueprint for Undermining America’s Legal System,” Andrew Bostom (March 14th, 2012); Tiffany Gabbay, “More Than a Movie: Experts Claim Real Reason for U.S. Embassy Attacks Is Much More Sinister,” The Blaze (Sep 13, 2012); Lisa Gardener, “American Muslim leader urges faithful to spread Islam’s message,” San Ramon Valley Herald (July 4, 1998); Art Moore, “Did CAIR founder say Islam to rule America?,” WND (12/11/2006).

[18] Bob Unruh, “Guess who U.S. Muslims are voting for,” World Net Daily (October 30, 2012).

[19] See, for example,

[20]Shariah in American Courts.”

[21] Steve Doughty, “Britain has 85 sharia courts: The astonishing spread of the Islamic justice behind closed doors,” Mail Online (29 June 2009 ).

[22] See American Public Policy Alliance.

[23]  See

[24] See The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam,” Aug. 5, 1990, U.N. GAOR, World Conf. on Hum. Rts., 4th Sess., Agenda Item 5, U.N. Doc. A/CONF.157/PC/62/Add.18 (1993) [English translation].

[25] See Raheel Raza, “Arab Spring vs. Women's Rights,” Gatestone Institute (June 21, 2012 ).

[26] See also the fatwa by Saudi Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajid, “Can a Muslim be a sincere friend to a kaafir?,” Islam QA (fatwa 21530).

[27] Reliance of the Traveler, H8.24.  Fortunately, there are a number of international Muslim charities which provide services to all people, despite these restrictions.

[28] Reliance of the Traveler, O8.7, O11.10.  Under Islamic law, although Christianity and Judaism are sometimes tolerated, Christians and Jews are never permitted openly to express their faith, especially to Muslims.

[29] See Joe Newby, “Christians stoned by American Muslims in Dearborn as police watch,” (June 26, 2012).  Of course most people would  not approve of the offensive tactics used by these Christian protesters, but they are within their constitutional rights; Joe Slezak, “Man accused of driving at Christian protesters accepts plea, gets probation,” Advisor & Source (Oct 9, 2012); Ali Watkins, “Islam conference, hosting controversial speakers, sparks protest,” The Temple News Online (April 24, 2012).

[30] Bob Unruh, “Guess who U.S. Muslims are voting for,” World Net Daily (October 30, 2012).

[31] Niraj Warikoo, “Dearborn imam: Violence not what Islam preaches,” Detroit Free Press (Sep 15, 2012); Tiffany Gabbay, “Free Speech That Mocks Islam Is National Security Threat for U.S., Prominent NJ Imam,” The Blaze (Sep 20, 2012).

[32] Cindy Swirko, “Pastor burns holy books in protest of imprisoned clergyman,” The Gainsville Sun (April 28, 2012).

[33] See numerous articles at the Thomas Moore Law Center; Alan Kornman, “Have You Ever Been Inside a CAIR Civil Liberties Lecture?, Family Security Matters (June 20 2012).

[34] See “Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques,” Freedom House (2005);  “Saudi Arabia's Curriculum of Intolerance,” Freedom House; “U.S. Islamic Schools Teaching Homegrown Hate,” Fox News (February 27, 2002); also see North American Islamic Trust and explanatory article in Wikipedia.

[35] U.S. State Department, “International Religious Freedom Report.”

[36] This would include churches in Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates (there are no churches in Saudi Arabia).  Simon McCormack, “Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah, Saudi Islamic Leader, Says Churches Should Be Destroyed,”

Huffington Post (April, 2, 2012).

[37] Pew Research Center, “Arab Spring Fails to Improve U.S. Image”; also see the less comprehensive 2012 survey, “Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life.”

[38] Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi, “Shari'a and Violence in American Mosques” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2011, pp. 59-72).

[39] Pew Research Center, “Muslim Americans: No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism.”  Doug Sanders, author of The Myth of the Muslim Tide, cites comparable numbers among Westerners in support of civilian killings.  However, these numbers do not translate into real world violence as they do among radical Muslims who have demonstrated both the will and religious incentive to kill.  See Doug Sanders, “10 Myths About Muslims in the West,” Huffington Post (Sep 10, 2012).

[40] Pew Research Center, “Muslim Americans” Section 1: A Demographic Portrait of Muslim Americans.

[41]Officials Say Terrorist Recruitment Effort in US On Rise,” Voice of America (August 4, 2010);  Steven Edwards, “Envoy's call to Iranians in Canada raises fear of terror recruitment,” Fox News (July 9, 2012).

[42] The U.S. State Department’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2011” counted more than 10,000 attacks in 2011 alone, resulting in more than 12,500 deaths. Over half of these attacks were perpetrated by “Sunni extremists” according to National Counterterrorism Center statistics. The Religion of Peace, reports only 20,000.  The actual number is much higher since not all attacks are documented by local authorities or reported by the media.  See also “Al Qaeda gaining 'operational capability' despite core losses, report shows,” Fox News (Aug 1, 2012).

[43] See Louis Palme “Knowing Four Arabic Words May Save Our Civilization from Islamic Takeover,” Islam Watch (July 31, 2012).

[44]  See  For a similar example involving a Tunisian leader, see Mounir Ben Mahmoud, “Tunisia's Ghannouchi Condemns Salafists Only to Foreign Press,” Al Monitor (Sep 28, 2012).

[45] Tom Topousis, “Imam terror error:  Ground Zero mosque leader hedges on Hamas,” New York Post (June 19, 2010).

[46]Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America Cautions Muslims Against Participating in American Legal System; Urges Them to “Hate It in Their Hearts,” Translating Jihad (March 14, 2012).

[47]DOJ: CAIR's Unindicted Co-Conspirator Status Legit,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism (March 12, 2010); Joe Kaufman, “CAIR Features Imam with Ties to Hamas,” Gatestone Institute (Oct 26, 2012).

[48]Lawmakers Blast Administration For Calling Fort Hood Massacre 'Workplace Violence',” Fox News (Dec 7, 2011); Patrik Jonsson, “Will Fort Hood shooting trial find motive – or link to terrorism?,” (Christian Science Monitor, Oct 19, 2010).  For other examples, see Cliff Kincaid, “Obama Neuters War on Islamic Terrorists,” Accuracy in Media (May 23. 2012).

[49] Rob Crilly, “The Blasphemous Teddy Bear,” Time World (Nov 26, 2007).

[50] “Jihad,” A Dictionary of Islam, Thomas Patrick Hughes (1885).  See also the classic manual on Islamic sacred law, Reliance of the Traveler, O.9.8 – O.9.9; James Arlandson, “Sixteen Reasons Why Islam Is Not the Religion of Peace,” American Thinker (Sep 16, 2012); Raymond Ibrahim, “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam?,” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2009).  On the historical development of jihad doctrine, see Robert Spencer’s lengthy essay, “Bible and Qur'an: equally violent?,” Jihad Watch (March 14, 2009).

[51] “Jihad,” A Dictionary of Islam, quoted from the Hanafi school, Hedaya, 2:140,141.

[52] Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajid, “Was Islam spread by the sword?,”  Islam QA (fatwa 43087); “Full text: bin Laden's 'letter to America,” The Guardian (November 24, 2002).  Note how the call to Islam (Q2.1) is one of the seven conditions of peace.  “If you fail to respond to all these conditions, then prepare for fight with the Islamic Nation.”

[53] Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajid, “Was Islam spread by the sword?,”  Islam QA (fatwa 43087).

[54]Senate body urges West, EU to shun Islamophobia,” Daily Times (March 6, 2009); “Nigeria: Terrorism Caused by Injustice, Oppression - Islamic Scholars,” All Africa (February 28, 2010); “International Terrorism,” Global Focus; Ron Paul, “Foreign Occupation Leads to More Terror.”

[55] See fn. 51 and 52 above.  Many Islamists believe that any place historically occupied by Islam is waqf: forever under Allah and the rule of Islam, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, and southern Spain. On the causes of American hatred, see Barry Rubin, “They got it right: America is their enemy,” The Jerusalem Post (Oct 21, 2012).

[56] Anti-Semitism is deeply rooted in Islamic history and theology.  See Bernard Lewis, “Muslim Anti-Semitism,” Middle East Quarterly (June 1998).  On the reputed materialism, barbarism, and sexual degeneracy of the West, see Sayyid Qutb’s impassioned article, "The America I Have Seen," summarized in Peter Farmer, “The Muslim Brotherhood, Part IV – Sayyid Qutb,” Family Security Matters (Sep 13, 2012).  Qutb was one of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential theorists.

[57] Karl Vick, “Reunified Islam: Unlikely but Not Entirely Radical,” The Washington Post (January 14, 2006); Soeren Kern, “Islamic Jihadists Using Switzerland as Base,” Gatestone Institute (July 9, 2012).

[58] See Peter Farmer, “A Brief History of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Family Security Matters (Feb 22, 2013).

[59] National Counterterrorism Center: Annex of Statistical Information, U.S. State Department (July 31, 2012).

[60] See, for example, Raymond Ibrahim, “Muslim Persecution of Christians: May 2012,” Gatestone Institute (June 28, 2012).

[61] Robert Durie Osborn, Islam under the Arabs, p. 93 cited in “Muhammadanism,”  A Dictionary of Islam, Thomas Patrick Hughes (1885).  Though Osborn’s summation of Islamic history may not have been flattering, he did admire “all the elements of greatness” found in Islam.  But in the end, these heroic qualities, “faith, courage, endurance, self-sacrifice,” always succumb to the radical and destructive tendencies which permeate traditional Islam.