“Our Deadliest Enemy”*
What irony—the threat is from an enemy that defines us as the enemy, though we sincerely profess to be truly benevolent and peace loving.
No. 1 of a Unique Series of Articles on what Eminent Statesmen, Scholars, Muslims, and Former Muslims Say about Islam
*That Muslims have exceeded the depravity of Nazis by using their own children as human bombs tends to hinder objective and comprehensive analysis of Islam. This series of articles will instead provide a thoroughly documented, interdisciplinary, transnational, and multiracial study of Islam which men with eyes and ears and a modicum of learning will discern as a unique form of paganism, one that sanctifies evil in the name of a monotheistic theology.1
Moreover, despite the murderous hatred Muslim sects display toward each other, we need to understand the character of their supreme role-model and prophet, Mohammad, the author of their holy Scripture, the Quran.2 We need to transcend vacuous tolerance, and we dare not yield to the timidity that poses as “moderation” in discussing Islam.
If Islam is indeed a cauldron of hatred that animates the leaders of 1.5 billion Muslims and dozens of Muslim states, is it any wonder that many people in the West see this awesome, widespread hostility as an irremediable and impossible threat? Is it any wonder that very few Western scholars and statesmen display the candor and courage to discuss the theological nature of this threat? What irony—the threat is from an enemy that defines us as the enemy, though we sincerely profess to be truly benevolent and peace loving. Our benevolence is obvious. We are even reluctant to call our enemy an “enemy,” let alone our sworn and implacable enemy, lest we insinuate that this Islam is evil. We hesitate to use any pejorative language to describe this enemy, not only because we fear it may antagonize him and prompt him to more violence, but also because we live in a non-judgmental age that avoids calling an openly declared enemy evil—even one who gleefully screams “Death to America” and vows to “wipe Israel off the map”! Some observers believe that the liberal and social democracies of the West are suffering from a mental disorder. Let me try to explain.
Whether conscious of it or not, people in the West have been subtly and profoundly influenced by the moral and cultural relativism that has permeated all levels of education in the free world. For more than a hundred years we have been indoctrinated by the ethical neutrality or indifferentism of the social sciences and humanities. Our institutions of higher education have taught countless opinion makers and policy makers that there are no rational or objective standards by which to distinguish between right and wrong, good or bad, and this inhibits us from calling any moral or religious doctrine pernicious. Describing any doctrine as evil is equivalent to calling someone’s preference for a particular flavor of ice cream evil. It’s all a matter of personal taste—nothing to get upset about, let alone to resort to violence.
And so it is with religion. Your religious preference has no more validity than your preference for light- or dark-rimmed glasses. The conflicts people wage over this or that religion or ideology is irrational. If everyone understood that there are no objective moral or religious truths, hence, that no way of life is intrinsically superior to any other, war would be a thing of the past. Tolerance and peace would rein on earth.
Naive relativism ignores a crucial fact: some men like to lord over others, regardless of whether they are believers, agnostics, or atheists. But what is more: given two antagonists—one a moral relativist, the other a moral absolutist, then, all other things being equal, the absolutist is more likely to persevere and win in any protracted conflict. It is doubtful that the Allied Powers in the Second World War would have conquered Nazi Germany had they not believed that Nazism is evil, and that freedom or liberal democracy is worth fighting and dying for.
This is precisely the psychological state of affairs affecting the conflict between Islam and the United States, Islam and Israel, Islam and the West, Islam and all that is not—and this conflict began ages before 9/11. Muslims believe in the absolute righteousness of their cause, and conversely that liberal democracy is unadulterated evil. This moral disparity or asymmetry is precisely why the more powerful United States, whose decision-makers have been influenced and emasculated by multicultural relativism, is retreating from the Middle East, just as it retreated from Communist-led North Vietnam, a tenth-rate military power. But mark this well: as in the 1960s, American colleges and universities are not only steeped in multicultural relativism, as I have shown in an essay published in the Congressional Record3, but we now behold academics professing outright anti-Americanism!
What does this portend? The bellicosity of the enemy is transparent. He harbors a 1,400 year-old military heritage. His mentality is permeated and disciplined by this heritage. His Arab-Islamic mind abhors infidels, and he is not reluctant to use weapons of mass murder. It should be obvious that the growing power of Iran in the oil-rich Persian Gulf and the expansion of the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and America’s retreat from the Middle East on the other, indicate that our enemy is winning in what can only be called a World War. What is most remarkable, however, is that America, the world’s only superpower, has yet to define the enemy!
It would be easy to do this if Islam was an atheistic and geographically-defined regime like Nazi Germany or Communist Russia. But our enemy poses as a worldwide monotheistic religion, and here is where Islam departs from other cultures that exalt war. Islam, which should be credited for having eliminated idolatry in Asia and Africa, is a religion whose prophet forms an integral part of the faith. As I have elsewhere written, it is not sufficient to believe in the Scriptures of such prophets or messengers but in the messengers themselves. This is another reason why Muslims have wielded the sword to spread the faith and to send “infidels” to eternal rest. Compare the militant religion of the Hindus, another numerous people. The Hindus worship Shiva, the god of destruction. Their sacred text, the Bhagavid Gita, exalts war. Rulers, who necessarily come from the warrior caste, are obliged to discipline their subjects to wage aggressive wars against neighboring states whenever feasible. As one writer says: “Peace emerges from India’s literature and history either as stagnation, or as a time for plotting military action, or as a ruse of war meant to induce somnolence and moral disarmament in enemy ranks.”4 Add Buddhism. Although Buddhism arose in protest against the Hindu caste system, it did not alter the prevailing orientation toward war and peace. In Japan, Zen Buddhism combined with Shintoism to establish the martial tradition (innocuously portrayed in the theatrical West). Throughout Southeast Asia warfare has been accepted as the natural expression of the religious or political order. Much the same may be said of all of the regions of sub-Saharan Africa.5 But it is in China that the science of war achieved perfection. The martial classics of China exhort rulers to make their people “delight in war” and to expand the frontiers of the state. “It is a misfortune for a prosperous country not to be at war; for in peacetime it will breed … the cultivation of goodness, filial piety and respect for elders, detraction of war and shame at taking part in it.”6
But we were talking of Islam, which, unlike those just mentioned, is deemed a monotheistic religion. And even though many of us are not religious, we tend to believe that, withstanding the wars in which Christian monotheists engaged in the past, the participants in these wars were actually violating their sacred creeds or scriptures. In other words, we want to believe that religion—at least monotheism—is basically benevolent and peace loving; and that even though history manifests bloody examples to the contrary, we incline to the idea that these wars may be attributed—stated simply—to either (1) intellectual causes, (2) moral causes, or (3) systemic causes, meaning, the international system of sovereign states. The first may involve the miscalculations of statesmen regarding the interests of their respective countries. The second may involve the lust for power and dominion. The third may involve, as indicated, the nation-state system itself, which tends to intensify and magnify international conflict. Unfortunately, these considerations are only tangential to the core issues of this essay. Our Prologue must therefore be supplemented by an Introduction that clarifies the intractable nature of Islam and why this enemy constitutes a mortal threat to Western civilization, hence, to the Judeo-Christian heritage, the heart of this civilization.
“To speak of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as the “three Abrahamic faiths,” the ‘three religions of the Book,’ or the three monotheisms, obscures rather than illuminates. These familiar tropes ought to be retired.”7
—George P. Weigel, Catholic Theologian
Some readers, who have not examined the profound scholarship of Dr. Weigel, may attribute his above pronouncement to the bias of a Catholic theologian. But there are many scholars and scholar-statesmen—including atheists—who have not only expressed doubts about the authenticity of Islamic monotheism, but who also deny that Islam can rightly be called a civilization! Indeed, such doubts about Islam can be found even among many former Muslims!
Here caution is necessary. To obtain an objective and transnational as well as insiders understanding of Islam, let us consider (1) how world-renowned scholar-statesmen evaluated Islam before 1900 that is, before the emotional impact and horrors of today’s jihadism, and (2) why many learned Muslims abhor Islam and regard it as cruel and tyrannical. We begin with the world renowned nineteenth-century thinker Alexis de Tocqueville, author of the classic Democracy in America:
I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.8
Compare a statement appearing in the 1899 work of Winston Churchill The River War:
Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome9
Perhaps some may attribute the assessments of de Tocqueville and Churchill to imperialistic bias or even to racism. Indeed, inasmuch as criticism of Islam exposes one to the racist canard, let us ponder the views and experience of intellectually liberated Muslims and Arabs. Indeed, perhaps the most reliable way to assess the nature of Islam is to consult such commentators. For this purpose, we can do no better than examine the transnational evidence and records of learned Muslims who rejected Islam and its founder. Let us therefore turn to No. 2 of this series. (To Be Continued.)
1 See Kenneth Hart Green, “Leo Strauss’ Challenge to Emil Fackenheim: Heidegger, Radical Historicism, and Diabolical Evil,” in S. Portnoff, J. A. Diamond, and M.D. Yaffe,Emil L. Fackenheim: Philosopher, Theologian, Jew, (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2008).
2 The Quran is spelt variously as Qur’an, Koran, Kuran, etc. “Quran” will be the preferred spelling in this book.
3 “The Crisis of Our Times,” Congressional Record, Senate, July 31, 1968, pp. E.7150-E.7157.
4 See Adda B. Boseman, “The Nuclear Freeze Movement: Conflictng More and Political Perspectives on War and Its Relation to Peace,” Conflict 5:4 (1985), p. 274.
5 Ibid., pp. 274-275, 280.
6 Ibid., p. 277.
7 George Weigel, Faith. Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Acton (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 17.
8 Cited in Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003), p. 208, originally published in 1995, hence before 9/11.
9 Winston Churchill, The River War(London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899 1st ed.. vol. II, pp 248-50.