Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum, recently published an article, “Offensive Jihad: The One Incontrovertible Problem with Islam,” in the Middle East Forum and on Pajamas Media (October 30th). This excellent article for the first time (known to me, at least) addresses one of the fundamental problems of and with Islam I have always stressed: jihad. Jihad is a core tenet in what is a codified system of irrationalism that cannot be “reformed” without obliterating Islam as a distinct religious creed. Remove the belligerent jihadist commands from the Koran to wage jihad, for example, and it would cease to be Islam, not only in Muslim minds but in non-Muslim, as well.
There would, of course, remain a host of other irrational assertions and imperatives, such as the sanctioning of wife-beating and the murder of apostates and the like, which constitute, after some astounding mental gymnastics by Islamic clerics and scholars, chiefly the byzantine and illogical underpinnings of Sharia law. The jihadist elements of Islam, however, are easily transmutable into a political policy, which is conquest of all non-Muslim or infidel governments and their submission to Sharia. That makes it an ideological doctrine. Muslims are either obliged to wage jihad, or they are not. Mohammad and Muslim scholars say they are. End of argument, so far as Koranic interpretation goes, and that interpretation is biased to the literal.
Reading the debates about what Islam’s mission is and the role of jihad in it and what they truly “mean,” I am always reminded of H.L. Mencken's observation on religious zealotry: "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it." Islam is a puritanical creed that makes no allowances for either infidels or apostates or its adherents. I cannot believe that beneath the pious exterior of any person who would be seduced by Islam is not a seething, percolating envy of men who are indeed free, an envy easily and maliciously transfigured into violent jihad.
This policy is operative and underway today in Western nations with varying degrees of success, and it is making progress only by default. Islam is strong only because the West’s defenders are emasculated by multiculturalist premises and a general disinclination to condemn any religion. Aggravating the problem is an unadmitted but general fear in the tolerance-obsessed and pragmatists of “offending” Muslims, who might start rioting and demonstrating again, claiming discrimination and disrespect, etc., none of it spontaneous but clearly organized and orchestrated by so-called “radicals.”
I was initially impressed by Ibrahim’s quotation from an entry on jihad in the Encyclopedia of Islam, which is an admission that “Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated” – until I realized that it could just as well mean that, after a global caliphate has been established, there would be no more justification for violent jihad. Every nation would by then be conquered, recalcitrant infidels slain, enslaved, or reduced to dhimmitude, and Sharia made the law of every land.
But, if Islam is completely “made over” in the sense of reforming it, what would be left of Islam that virtually any other creed could not claim as its fundamental tenets, as well? And to “make over” Islam, its principal font of “kilman” or wisdom, the objectionable and barbaric Mohammad, would need to be dispensed with. He is a role model for killers and tyrants and other psychopathic individuals. Remove that one critical link of the irrational and arbitrary in Islam, and all the links fall to the floor.
What would be substituted for Mohammad? It would need to be something as enduringly fable-worthy as Mohammad, but measurably benign. But, Islam has no alternative icons. What then, would be Islam’s driving force, if not jihad as commanded by Allah as told to Mohammad?
Once Mohammad is removed from the text, the next step would be to question the existence and credence of Allah; if he commanded jihad, and if his word is sacred and unalterable, and known only through Mohammad, then he would need to be subjected to a “make over,” much as the focus of Christian doctrine was shifted from an Allah-like Jehovah of the Old Testament to the largely pacific New Testament with Jesus Christ (as God on earth) and his homilies. If a “reformation” of Islam is undertaken, who in Islamic lore is Christ’s counterpart? Would it be Abraham or Moses? But, neither of them was much better than Mohammad in terms of their behavior towards men of other faiths; they also advocated the righteous slaughtering of unbelievers and sinners and distributing slaves, women, and sheep among their more zealous followers.
But, then, all faiths are faced with that intellectual chore regarding their own individual conceptions of a “supreme being,” and not just Islam.
Ibrahim writes: “Worse, offensive jihad is part and parcel of Islam; it is no less codified than, say, Islam's Five Pillars, which no Muslim rejects.” In sum, it is either-or: repudiate Islam entirely, or submit to the whole palimony of irrationalism that is Islam, including the imperative of jihad. The one incontrovertible problem with Islam (aside from the untenable claim of Allah’s existence) is its dependence on violent conquest, or the initiation of force. This renders the creed absolutely inconvertible to a pacific doctrine. That is its unarguable dead-end.
Or, as Ayn Rand might have put it: “You can’t have your mystic of muscle and deny him, too.” He is either the source of Islam’s potency, or he isn’t. And if he isn’t, whither Islam?