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Ayaan Hirsi Ali Explains How To Combat Political Islam

What happens when we let fear, muddled thinking, ignorance, and political correctness guide us in confronting a threat to our constitutional freedoms?

We lose everything.

In the United States, our ability to enjoy our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness rests largely on the protection the First Amendment accords to freedom of speech and its corollary, the freedom to exercise the religion of our choice – or, of course, to profess no religion at all. It follows, then, that we should both vigorously defend the First Amendment and subject to withering criticism any challenges to it. If we begin dodging or concealing the truth about a threat to free speech, whether out of fear of appearing improper or even of knowing the consequences, we place ourselves at risk of losing our freedom of speech – and everything else we cherish in a democracy.

Speech consists of words. Words and how we use them matter. So, in the annals of self-defeating political inanities, the Obama administration’s term for Islamist terrorism – “violent extremism” – stands out as unusually obfuscatory, semantically unsound, and craven. (The phrase encompasses other kinds of terrorist doctrines as well, but no one can fail to see which one in particular is being addressed.) Originating as ISIS-inspired attacks were starting to hit the United States, it baldly omits their motivating ideology and purports that “extremism” can exist as a rootless, groundless, free-floating phenomenon. The term was so patently contrived to avoid mention of Islam that Republican candidate Donald J. Trump, during last year’s presidential campaign, could appear courageous to many just by saying “Islamic terrorism.” Yet coining the insipid phrase “violent extremism” was just par for the course. Former President Obama’s repeated declarations that the faith in question had nothing to do with all the bombing, beheading, and machete-slashing carried out to the cry of “Allahu Akbar!” looked, at best, cowardly – and at worst, complicit. Hillary Clinton followed Obama’s lead on the matter – all the way to a historic loss at the polls.

The consequences of Obama’s Islam-exculpatory doublespeak linger on – even with Trump in the White House. Though more than two months have passed since Trump’s inauguration, the FBI’s web site still has a page devoted to “violent extremism”; one has to open three links before arriving at a mention of ISIS (which does not, the site informs us with inexplicable canonical certitude, “represent mainstream Islam”). However, as of last year, the FBI had roughly a thousand terrorist investigations ongoing, of which a “significant number” (“hundreds”) involved potential ISIS followers. Knowing this, Obama nevertheless saw fit to muse that, “Americans are more in danger from their own bathtubs than from Islamist terrorists.” The blatantly phony equivalency drawn here belies the obvious, and not just that slipping in the tub is an accident, not an act of coldblooded murder; a bathtub death cannot terrify, or influence public opinion or public policy, whereas terrorism obviously does.

Trump has spoken openly about confronting “the hateful ideology of radical Islam” and claimed to “know more about ISIS than the generals,” but one might be forgiven for suspecting that he has no idea of what he’s talking about. For guidance, however, he should immediately consult Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born public intellectual, author, apostate from Islam, and fearless deliverer of uncomfortable truths about her former religion. Regarding Obama’s bathtub babble, she told me in a recent email exchange that “bathtubs don’t go around plotting terrorist attacks. Neither do guns and cars. It’s people. The question is one of intent, and it raises the question of how to prevent deliberate attacks carried out by individuals in the name of an ideology, rather than preventing accidents such as bathtub or car accidents.”

Hirsi Ali is a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School and a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. For the latter, she has just published an comprehensive, thoroughly researched paper, The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam and How to Counter It. (Dawa is, strictly speaking, Arabic for proselytizing for Islam, but as Hirsi Ali explains, given the troubling specifics of Islamic doctrine, it is “more complex, more sinister, and more far-reaching” than that.) The president and every high-level official in the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as every member of Congress, should read it. Now.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Hirsi Ali covers her subject in its entirety, substantiating each assertion with footnotes, but here I’ll address only the most salient aspects. Her thesis: the American government’s “narrow focus on Islamist violence had the effect of restricting our options only to tools such as military intervention, electronic surveillance, and the criminal justice system. . . . In focusing only on acts of violence, we have ignored the ideology that justifies, promotes, celebrates, and encourages those acts.”

As should be clear by now, such an approach is not working; the Islamist threat is not diminishing. This, and the Muslim population in the United States looks set to more than double (according to the Pew Research Center), from 2.6 million to 6.2 million by 2030. Hirsi Ali reminds us that abroad the American military campaign against Islamist terrorism has cost us dearly in blood and treasure. Since 2001, the United States has spent more than $3.6 trillion on wars and reconstruction and lost more than five thousand servicemen and women. But Hirsi Ali concentrates mostly on the domestic side of the problem, so I will, too.

The key challenge, as she sees it, comes from Islam’s blending of religion and politics: “Islam implies a constitutional order fundamentally incompatible with the US Constitution and with the ‘constitution of liberty’ that is the foundation of the American way of life. . . . The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with the rule of sharia law.” The Trump administration must decide to confront this ideology; thus, a new “anti-dawa counterstrategy” is needed. It must also understand that ISIS does indeed have more than just “something” to do with Islam. To better understand this, Hirsi Ali, in an email to me, recommended “reading about the early period of the founding of Islam, particularly Muhammad’s period in Medina: the military campaigns, the bodily punishments, Qur’anic verses calling for war, the sayings attributed to the Prophet. These sayings offer people such as ISIS a lot of material they can work with.”

Still, Hirsi Ali believes that Islam can be reformed, that by no means are all Muslims violent or striving to implement sharia, and that the “task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims.” She reminded me that Obama said he believed this as well. “That,” she added, “is one of the great public policy riddles of our time: how could an intelligent president such as Barack Obama personally favor reforms within Islam yet be so unwilling, as a matter of policy, to do anything to support genuine Muslim reformers and instead empower Islamists such as the Brotherhood in Egypt? It’s a tremendous missed opportunity, for which we are now paying the price as Political Islam is ascendant in the world.”

But what concerns her most is how the United States responds to the Islamist threat.

Before delving into Hirsi Ali’s advice, it’s worth establishing the premises framing her argument. Islam, while possessing the supernatural characteristics of its Abrahamic predecessors, propounds an ideology of temporal control and submission. “Islam,” after all, means “submission” – by mankind, to the will of God, here on Earth. The very name of the faith manifests its essence, implying confrontation between a deity who commands and mortals who must obey – or else. Nowhere in Islam’s foundational texts does there reside a declaration equivalent to Jesus’s “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Islam’s foundational texts do not preach separation between mosque and state. Everything belongs to God.

Islam’s command to submit pertains not just to Muslims, but to humanity as a whole. (“People of the Book” – i.e, Jews and Christians – are granted some leniency in this life, but the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the perfect, inalterable Word of God, leaves no doubt that hellfire awaits nonbelievers.) Make no mistake about it: a future in which an unreformed Islam prevailed would be grim indeed, inimical to every Enlightenment value and every liberal principle, and thus to our Constitutional order and the protections it affords minority rights (women’s rights, LBGT rights, and so on) of all sorts. That such a future is improbable is irrelevant; the threat comes from those willing to kill to bring it about. They – and not Hirsi Ali – are the ones obliging us to have this conversation.

Hirsi Ali is concerned with the menacing political ideology that permeates dawa. As practiced by Islamists, dawa, she says, aims both to convert non-Muslims to Islam and to “instil Islamist views in existing Muslims.” Dawa is the “subversive, indoctrinating precursor to jihad.” It, thus, constitutes a threat, but since it is “an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or Fascists did in the past.” Government agencies have been “duped into regarding” Islamist groups “as representatives of moderate Muslims simply because they do not engage in violence.”

Hirsi Ali names the best-known Islamist organizations, and they include “mainstream” ones often cited uncritically by the press. Among these figure the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, the Muslim Brotherhood, which the New York Times recently called “perhaps the most influential Islamist group in the Middle East” and warned against declaring a terrorist organization. (Before rushing to its defense, the Times might have noted the Brotherhood’s alarming slogan: “Allah is our objective; the Qur’an is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is our highest aspiration.”)

These groups claim to represent the American Muslim community, but in fact do not speak for moderate Muslim reformers (with whom the United States, she tells us, should ally itself). The groups fully avail themselves of First Amendment protections. Hirsi Ali reminds us that “radicalization” – that is, holding strongly Islamist views – is not a crime, unless violence results. But crime – terrorism – at times flows from the provocative doctrines of jihad (fighting for Islam is a duty) and martyrdom (dying in jihad guarantees entry to Paradise). Jihad and martyrdom are mainstream Islam. To those who would object that jihad can mean something other than violence, Hirsi Ali told me that, “many U.S. officials let themselves be sweet-talked by Islamists and supposed experts who claim it only refers to a spiritual striving. In fact, in Islamic tradition historically, jihad of the sword came first and was primary in importance. It was only later, after the founding of Islam, that additional meanings (such as inner striving) were attached to the term jihad.“

The real problem, Hirsi Ali notes, in her paper, is that any Islamist organizations that “aren’t Al Qaeda” end up looking moderate. Before engaging with such groups, the FBI should scrutinize their ideological background to “ensure that they are not committed to the Islamist agenda;” and the IRS should revoke their tax-exempt status if they turn out to be Islamist. (This obviously means that the relevant government agencies will have to study the Islamist agenda in order to recognize it.) Likewise, the Department of Homeland Security “should subject immigrants and refugees to ideological scrutiny.” She also wants the government to “prioritize” the entry of those “who have shown loyalty to the United States,” as well as screen chaplains employed by the government. That such suggestions will sound extreme to many only shows how far off track our public discourse about Islam has wandered. She also advocates placing mosques and Islamic centers “credibly suspected of engaging in subversive activities” under “reasonable surveillance.”

Would all this increased government attention only “play into the hands of the Islamists” and effectively spur terrorist recruitment? If you answer yes, you are in fact recognizing the violence-inducing potential of Islamic doctrine, and the readiness of at least some Muslims to act on it.

Hirsi Ali explains that “[t]he most fundamental distinction between the constitution of political Islam and the constitution of liberty is in their differing approaches to human and individual life.” The “US Constitution grants individual human beings natural, inalienable, God-given rights” which the government must protect. Sharia, however, abrogates and supplants those rights with itself; “[f]or agents of political Islam the individual life is merely an instrument,” not an end in itself. The “ultimate goal of dawa is . . . to get rid of the non-Islamic political order and replace it with the order of Islamic law.” For this reason, Hirsi Ali points out that, “governments in Muslim-majority countries . . . have applied tight supervision over dawa activities.” Clueless Westerners, in contrast, “tend to see only the humanitarian side of dawa efforts.” (Not all, though, she notes: the Dutch Intelligence Agency acknowledged as far back as 2004 the subversive nature of “radical dawa activities.”)

Sarah Haider

To those who would accuse Hirsi Ali of fearmongering, she replies that the influence of Islamist participation in public life is gradual and corrosive. I would add that we see evidence of this in, say, the dread that stopped the news media from running the Charlie Hebdo cartoons after Islamists slaughtered the magazine’s staff in 2015; in the harsh grilling CNN gave the controversial anti-jihad activist Pamela Geller for holding her “Draw Muhammad” contest later that year; in the frequency with which the free-speech-inhibiting noun “Islamophobia” bespatters the press; and in the threats levelled at former Muslims – including Sarah Haider, co-founder of Ex-Muslims of North America, and, obviously, Hirsi Ali herself. There are many other examples, but what transpires as most worrisome is the support, if only tacit or through ignorance, of far too many citizens of one of the world’s most advanced democracies for an illiberal creed and its retrograde customs. In a country founded on the rights to free speech and the pursuit of happiness all this is outrageous. Or it ought to be.

Hirsi Ali has recommendations for changes to American diplomacy – chiefly, that foreign governments cease supporting Islamist activities in the United States “as a condition of US friendship,” and that the United States “punish” transgressors with “trade sanctions or cuts in aid payments.” What this would do to alliances with, say, the Gulf States, is impossible to predict (though they are not based on friendship, but calculated, mutual self-interest); but the gist of her point should be self-evident. Allies should not strive to subvert one another, and this is just what Saudi Arabia (for example) is doing by funding Wahhabi enterprises in the United States.

Inevitably these days, any discussion of Islam leads back to Trump’s signature campaign issue: Muslim immigration to the United States. As noted above, by 2030, American Muslims will number 6.2 million. This reflects, Hirsi Ali tells us, an annual growth rate “more than double that of France” (which is suffering its second year under a state of emergency imposed after a spate of Islamist attacks). Hirsi Ali observes that more than a third of the immigrants will come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iraq, where – again according to Pew polling data –overwhelming majorities hold “views that most Americans would regard as extreme” about making sharia the law of the land, stoning adulterers, and homosexuality, with more than or almost half favoring death for apostates, and much else that is horrible. Significant minorities in these three countries also happen to believe that suicide bombings are “sometimes justified.”

Hirsi Ali bluntly concludes that, “People with views such as these pose a threat to us all.” Most will not turn to terrorism, she adds, but their “attitudes imply, at the very least, an aversion to the hard-won achievements of Western feminists and campaigners for minority rights, and at worst a readiness to turn a blind eye to the use of violence and intimidation tactics against, say, apostates and dissidents.” Almost half the American Muslims surveyed believe their community leaders “had not done enough to speak out against Islamist extremists;” and more than a fifth think that there exists no small amount of “support for extremism” in their communities. Yet non-Muslims voicing fears about such matters generally suffer vilification as “Islamophobes” and racists. The problem, again, is ideological, and not just a matter of demographics and certainly not of skin color; about one in four American Muslims are converts.

Hirsi Ali presents research concluding that “governments in Muslim-majority countries are well aware of the connection between dawa and jihad and have applied tight supervision over dawa activities. Tight supervision, however, is not a solution to the problem presented by dawa; it is a way of postponing a confrontation. By contrast, Western governments are generally ignorant of Islamist ideology and strategy.”

Such ignorance spawns security blunders and danger for us all. Hirsi Ali offers a grim, irrefutable litany in this regard. Although he had openly declared his support for Hamas and Hezbollah, Abdurahman Alamoudi, in the 1990s, found himself appointed by the U.S. government to choose Muslim chaplains for the military and standing side-by-side with President Bush at a post-9/11 press conference. However, in 2003 the authorities arrested him for plotting to assassinate then Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, and later discovered him to be “one of Al-Qaeda’s top fundraisers.”

The executive director of CAIR, Nihad Awad, decried the U.S. government’s “anti-Muslim witch hunt” for raiding the offices of Ghassan Elashi, co-founder of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. But “Elashi was later indicted and convicted of channeling funds to Hamas.” (This unsettling contretemps didn’t stop the FBI from later thanking CAIR for “keep[ing] the nation safe.”) The FBI refuses to “engage in the war of ideas” with Islamists, and therefore blew it severely when it interviewed the infamous Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki four times before he absconded to Yemen to preach jihad. (A drone strike killed him in 2011.) Later that year, a coalition of Islamist groups urged national security adviser John Brennan to “purge all federal government training materials of biased materials critical of Islamic theology.” Brennan duly complied, cutting 876 pages and 392 presentations deemed “offensive” to Islamist sensibilities but that doubtless would have enlightened analysts as to the Islamist danger. One wonders if any of the terrorist attacks that followed could have been prevented had Brennan not been so attendant to Islamist concerns.

Hirsi Ali announces that “In the face of a . . . genuinely subversive threat, both the executive and legislative branches of our government have a right to consider again the correct balance that must always, with difficulty, be struck between the ideals of individual liberty and the imperatives of national security.” Just “decapitating” terrorist networks abroad “cannot be regarded as a sufficient response to the threat we face.” Islamist political dogma masquerading as religion, and dawa, its means of propagation, demands attention.

If Hirsi Ali’s critics are tempted to cite statistics minimizing the threat, they will have to explain at what point – after how many more deaths – they will consider it necessary to take action. Perpetuation of the “the illusion that a line could somehow be drawn between Islam, ‘a religion of peace,’ adhered to by a moderate majority, and ‘violent extremism,’ engaged in by a tiny minority” is not the answer. Dealing forthrightly with Islamist ideology is.

That means speaking openly and rationally about it with Muslims. Hirsi Ali told me that “By being honest, we can ask Muslims the question: what needs to be reformed, and how can Muslims go about reforming problematic tenets? If we deny that there is a need for reform in mainstream Islamic religious law (Shariah), we are only empowering the Islamists.” I would add that we should remember the stakes and overcome our fear of causing offense, and recall the ultimately salutary effect of free speech. Milton’s wise words ring out to us down through the centuries: “Let [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.”

There is much more of note in Hirsi Ali’s paper, which, again, I urge you to read for yourselves. Its overarching message: the United States needs, finally, to stand up for the values on which it is founded.

We ignore her words at our peril.


Jeffrey Tayler is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of seven books, including “Angry Wind,” “River of No Reprieve” and “Murderers in Mausoleums.” Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyTayler1.

See also:

Islam’s Liberal Counter-Insurgency

Free Speech and Islam — In Defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

On Betrayal by the Left – Talking with Ex-Muslim Sarah Haider

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  1. Graham Palmer says

    Reality Trigger Alert

    Colonists are not and have never been migrants

  2. Knowing this, Obama nevertheless saw fit to muse that, “Americans are more in danger from their own bathtubs than from Islamist terrorists.”

    This had always struck me as the dumbest possible argument and it’s always used to play down terrorism.

    Nobody ever says ‘peanut allergies kill more people than racist cops’ for the obvious reason they’d look retarded.

  3. The Anglo-Americans dealt with something like this between 1554-1700 in the context of the counter reformation. The reign of Queen Mary, the Papal Bull aimed at Elizabeth I and the Gunpowder Plot all were part of what the holy war against the Reformation in England. In the Colonies, and throughout the 1650s-60s, Jesuit missionaries incited raids by Algonquin converts in Maine, New Hampshire and Western Massachusetts aimed at the Puritan settlements.

    Ultimately, the Roman Catholic Church was banned from England and actually extirpated in the American colonies. The only battle of the English Civil Wars fought in the colonies involved a party of Presbyterian-Independents from Virginia disestablishing the RC church in Maryland and expelling the Jesuits.

    The current interpretation of the “establishment and free exercise” clause is quite recent and dates only to the 1940s when the Supreme Court began incorporating the establishment clause into the 14th Amendment and applying it to the states.

    As written, the 1st Amendment simply forbid the federal government from enacting any law concerning religion. At the time of ratification, New England (except Rhode Island), Maryland and Virginia had established churches and all states had the right to prohibit the free exercise of any non-established church. Earlier, through 1703, individual colonies could and did decide for themselves which sects to tolerate and which to ban. Thus, Virginia expelled Presbyterians and Independents and New England banned Anglicans as well as Catholics, Baptists and Quakers.

    Religious fanaticism can be quite dangerous, something the current interpretation of the establishment clause choses simply to ignore.

  4. McChuck says

    No Muslims, no Islamic terror or Sharia courts. Simple, really.

    I see no reason to interfere with Muslims killing each other in the ME. That’s their primary hobby, after all.

  5. Ann says

    I hope Muslims who support enlightenment values will be able to leave restrictive societies and join us here.

  6. Kurt says


    “I hope Muslims who support enlightenment values will be able to leave restrictive societies and join us here.”

    What could go wrong, other than the fact that the people you describe could all fit in a taxi?

  7. hugh says

    The one thing that a lot of people ignore about Islam is the fact that islamic theology is coming in contact with modern liberal democracies and values, and instead of becoming more moderate, it is becoming more extreme.

    If you look at the people who support ISIS, by and large, they are the children of immigrants. These are young people, who are born into a liberal society, that are becoming radicalized. The same people that liberals, and other people who believe in a “islamic reformation”, told us would eventually perform a “islamic reformation”.

    There’s also Maajid Nawaz, the posterboy for “islamic reformation”, and yet that man is only taken seriously by atheists… That makes me wonder how he will perform this reformation miracle by only having atheists agreeing with him.

    Seems like that a “islamic reformation” isn’t going to happen at all at this point in time (if ever), which leave us with the question of what should be done with Islam, outside of hoping for some “reformation”.

  8. Jay Hall says

    [B]ut the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the perfect, inalterable Word of God, leaves no doubt that hellfire awaits nonbelievers.

    This seems like an odd thing to point out. Most Christians also believe this. In fact, the linked article is quite ridiculous. Islam and Christianity both condemn nonbelievers to eternal torment. The major difference is that Christianity leaves the punishment to God. From that article:

    Justice is difficult to find in the character of Allah. Not only does the god of Islam appear to punish people disproportionately for mere unbelief, but he explicitly creates them to be nothing more than “fuel for the fire” of hell (Quran 72:15) and he actually “causes the unjust to go astray” (Quran 14:27) (see also verses 74:31 and 18:17) even though he has the ability to lead everyone down the right path (Quran 16:9). A person’s good deeds are for naught (Quran 18:104-106). Allah even sends the wives of “evil-doers” to Hell without apparent regard for their own guilt (Quran 37:22).

    That’s literally Calvinism, one of the major theological branches of Protestantism. Calvinism also states that nonbelievers are predestined for Hell. The Bible makes several references to “vessels of refuse” created only for destruction (Romans 9:21 is one), and it also speaks of God “hardening the hearts” of the wicked so that they are unable to know Him.

    Islamic reform won’t happen if atheists try to turn it into some quasi-spiritual gobbledygook. Like Hugh, I question if it will happen at all. It seems like the only people interested in it are atheists. I question the motives of the author. If you think the doctrine of Hell is barbaric in Islam, what do you think of Christians who also believe nonbelievers are condemned? I don’t trust atheists like Ali Hirsi Ali or Sam Harris. It is good to repudiate Islam, but they think the answer is cold secularism. It’s not. It’s Christianity.

    • Lachlan Maclean says

      No you are quite wrong in that first part: Christians believe that the Bible is written by men who have been subject to revelation (or witnessed Jesus ie 4 gospels), however Muslims believe the Quran to be the literal translated word of God, infallible and perfect. This may seem insignificant, but allows Christians to justify choosing to ignore certain barbaric principles in the Bible, while Islamists are able to pressure fellow Muslims into taking everything literally, in what seems like a crucial step in the process of radicalization. I believe that’s what the author was pointing out. It actually helps your argument that reform is impossible!

      Your comments on Calvinism I largely agree with, however Sam Harris and Ayaan trust in secularism because it is the only way forward, by fostering secular beliefs in young children of today, Christian, Muslim or otherwise. I agree with Harris that Christianity has very little redeeming qualities despite the values that Western society seems to associate with it, and in reality we don’t need stone age beliefs to act morally 2000 years after Jesus. More foolish beliefs should never be the answer to anything in my opinion.

      It is also worth noting, that there is very likely a given percentage of people in Muslim nations who are harboring secular and even atheist beliefs, but are unable or unwilling to voice their opinions for fear of consequences. Men and women who wish only for education and the best for their family. We owe it to these nominal Muslims to tell religion to get fucked, and stamp out religious superstition altogether.

      • Jay Hall says

        I’m a Christian. With all do respect, I don’t think you need to tell me what Christians believe. I was raised in the Bible belt and read conservative Christian theology regularly. While there are some Christians who cherry-pick, devout Christians reject that practice. In fact, my pastors growing up had condemnatory words for cherry-pickers, and it’s not a coincidence that liberal Christian denominations (Episcopalians, mainline Presbyterians, etc.) are dying out while more conservative denominations, which take the Bible seriously, are thriving.

        Sola scriptura, the idea that the entire Bible is the infallible word of God, was one of Martin Luther’s main theological beliefs. It’s supported by the Bible itself (John 1:1), and it’s still fundamental to the practices of most Protestants today, especially evangelicals. That’s why Biblical Christianity falls apart without it. Evangelical theologians don’t ignore barbaric passages. They simply contextualize them. Check out this article from a mainstream Christian site explaining why God ordered the slaughter of the Canaanites.

        The Web site Mr. Taylor cited claims that Muslims believe Hell is for unbelief while Christians believe Hell is merely for “bad deeds.” There is no mainstream Christian denomination that believes that damnation is through mere “bad deeds.” Missionaries fly around the world precisely because they don’t think being a “good person” is enough for be saved; you have to believe in Jesus Christ, or you’re damned forever, no matter how good of a person you are. “Turn or burn” is a common phrase in evangelical parlance.

        When someone shows ignorance about Christian theology and tradition, it undermines their critiques of Islam. Islam absolutely deserves to be critiqued, but I just don’t think atheists are the best people for the job. People of faith simply don’t listen to them; we can’t trust their intentions.

    • TM WILLEMSE says

      The major difference is that Christianity leaves the punishment to God.

      In Islam, the community is obligated to carry out jihad. If enough individuals do so, the obligation is satisfied. If not, then every individual is obligated. We’re talking jihad, here, not “preach the good news and baptize.”

      • Jay Hall says

        That’s what I said in my initial comment: “The major difference is that Christianity leaves the punishment to God.”

        However, my objection was to the linked article, which uses the very idea of an eternal Hell and predestination to create fear. Those concepts aren’t incompatible with Western civilization, nor are they deplorable. As a Christian, I am fine with people critiquing Islam, but I don’t want them to critique beliefs that Christians also share. Predestination is one of those, as is eternal damnation for nonbelievers. Those beliefs aren’t barbaric; they’re truthful.

        Jihad is deplorable. Taking it upon yourself to execute God’s judgment is deplorable. Hell by itself, though, is not.

    • I hate to break people’s bubbles on “reforming Islam”, but the Salafists/Wahabis and their ilk ARE the “Islamic Reformation”. Good that you mention Calvinists, since there are a lot of parallels that can be drawn between Calvinism (and more austere forms of Lutheranism, and all other austere Protestantisms) and Salafism/Wahabism. Wahabis are the “Muslim Protestants”. Of course the analogy is not entirely “correct” (Islam is not Christianity to begin with), but if we are looking at anything akin to the Reformation in Islam, look at Salafism. It ain’t pretty.

      • Jay Hall says

        I think you’re quite right. I had posted another comment saying something similar, although it had hyperlinks in it, so I think that’s why it wasn’t cleared for moderation. Anyway, Lachlan’s assertion that devout Christians are “allowed” to cherry-pick isn’t really true, especially when we’re talking about the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther’s five solas, particularly sola scriptura, asserted that the Bible is the literal word of God, and Calvinism, as a theological tradition, that is very important to America’s founding (think of the Puritans). Protestant theologians today get around sola scriptura by writing tomes of apologetics to explain away harsher passages, but there are plenty of Christians who would answer “yes” if you asked if the Bible was the literal word of God. I grew up in the Bible Belt. “The Bible says it. I believe it. That does it” was a common slogan in my church and other churches in the area. You’d see it on bumper stickers.

        Of course, I don’t mean to equate fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity. They’re very different religions, as you say, and only one currently has a problem with mass murder (John Calvin executed his last heretic in 1553). It seems like if Islam is going to reform, it will need to have a reverse reformation and take cues from more Eastern, mystical religions. This seems to be the tactic of Muslim reformers like Asra Nomani and the Sufi writer Shireen Qudosi. I wish the best of luck to them, of course, but I’m just not hopeful. Religion seems to be having a literalist “moment” right now. Liberal Protestant denominations are dying in the U.S. while conservative evangelicals and Mormons are thriving. We already know that fundamentalist Islam is on the rise. If people are going to be religious at all, they’re more likely to be drawn to fundamentalist versions of their faiths as opposed to “diet” versions.

    • groverguy says

      The problem with islam is that it is the latest significant Abrahamic faith and ‘aware’ of the latter two, so it can target them specifically. The trouble Islam has is that the Jews and Christians are still around, whereas the Amalekites of the Bible are long gone.

      Quran 5:51
      “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.”

  9. Jay Hall says

    I apologize. I meant to type “Ayaan Hirsi Ali,” not “Ali Hirsi Ali” in my above comment.

  10. VBT says

    It feels like re-reading what many Indian experts have been saying since more than 2 decades, but the “western powers” would just ignore and look the other way. Tony Blair in an Interview admitted his mistake and said we should have listened to India. But this is still happening cause your terrorism does not affect me. This article rightlt points that the problem is ideology which now has become a global phenomenon.

    India has been long suffering and the world ignored. We fail to read that is out there obvious. I hope the world unites to the call of a united stand against the ideology of ‘Islamic Extremism’ as called upon by India at almost every multilateral platforms.

  11. Richard Bicker says

    Guess Ayaan needs to work a bit more on her jabbing and bobbing and weaving skills. She just got KO’d right out of the country of Australia by her Islamic adversaries. They threatened the insurers of Hirsi Ali’s hosting and speaking venues who then pulled the plug on her scheduled appearances.

    • cake says

      Nobody, least of all Ali, thinks this task is easy. If it not as if Richard Bickers of the world are the ones who are going to be remembered by history and admired by countless enlightened minds forever.

  12. Kathy Ross says

    So… immediately consult
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali and ignore
    Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
    AHA knows more about war then the Generals.

    President Bush refused to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” although he said “radical Islam as a perversion of the Muslim faith” President Obama also would not say “radical Islamic terrorism” and Republicans, Sam Harris, Maajid Nawaz and Gorka condemned him, said he was “political correct”
    Both Presidents avoided the label because the CIA told them to.

    Counterterrorism experts found that:
    “Muslims convinced that Islam is under attack are more likely to join in the cause of violent groups. Muslim clerics can condemn fundamentalists, but when non-Muslims do so, it feeds into the ISIS narrative and empowers the organization. The emotional reaction of Muslims who are torn about whether to fight against the West would be strong, as it would for evangelists if violent killers in the Ku Klux Klan”

    Obamas is not a religious scholar, it not his job to reform Islam.
    Obama knew who the enemy is and understood the religious component and the political component of Isis.
    Obama also understood that our key allies in the fight against Isis are other Muslim countries so insulting them a bad idea.
    This is what Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster has said too.
    McMasters who know way more about War then AHA, Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz.

    General McMaster who disagrees with Muslim Reformers and is closer to the positions of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
    Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster has gained wide respect for speaking his mind has said:
    “The future course of war doesn’t depend on what you like to do,”

  13. Ozan says

    Great article. I read the original paper as well. Here is where I differ from Ms. Hirsi Ali.

    1) I don’t believe Islam can be reformed. Almost all of the hatred, violence, separation of sexes, disregard for free speech stem from Quran itself. Most of those verses emerged during the Medinah years as Hirsi Ali points. Quran declares it is the last and perfect Message of God. It was revealed for all HumanKind, for all times. If any one denies any of the verses they are to be punished by eternal Hell. So most Muslims actually believe in all this, including Mecca believers Ms Ali’s figurative speech.

    2) So what’s the problem? Here is the problem. Most of Mecca believers actually do not know what’s written in Quran as a whole. They take bits and pieces, perhaps maximum of 100 verses or so, mostly more of the peaceful and tolerant verses revealed in the Mecca years and that is it. They never read the conflicting verses, they never thought of the wars, bloodshed. They don’t even realize all verses that belittle women and make them slaves of men came after Hatidje died (coincidence, huh?)

    3) Also in her long and well-researched paper, she missed out one of the pillars of Dawa; Taqiyyah… What happened in Hudaybiyyah?

    4) She seems to criticize Obama (rightfully so) and imply that Trump’s approach is better. Trump’s and in general the US’s strategy will never work whatever it is as long as oil and defense contracts are being made with the perpetrators of this offensive Ideology. Thus lies the hypocrisy of the Western values.

  14. anon says

    you want to counter Middle Eastern dominance in the US?

    have babies. Maintain a majority.

    Pretty politically incorrect- aint it?

    Potin started paying families in Russia to have children because immigrants were gaining numerically on native Russians. The Japanese now have the oldest mean population in the developed world, and are in danger of going extinct.

  15. Hlafordlaes says

    Fair enough. However, designing specific anti-Islam legislation can be discriminatory. Quite simply, add as Constitutional amendment language similar to the final clause in the CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION:

    “Title VII, Article 54. Prohibition of abuse of rights. Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a greater extent than is provided for herein.”

    This in essence outlaws the preaching of Islamic teachings, as they directly and explicitly advocate the abrogation of human rights; i.e., are illegal. While this has been cited in minor court cases in Europe, the reason we do not see such obvious remedies is the effect they would also have on certain Christian sects, who also preach their right to impose.

    The real obstacle to fighting Islamic nonsense head on is… adherence to Christian nonsense, particularly in the mentally antediluvian USA. A plague on the houses of all fairy tale followers and their ilk.

    • Jay Hall says

      I’m sorry; how does that amendment make sense? For example, if I campaigned for the repeal of the Second Amendment, wouldn’t that mean I’m “engaged in [an] activity aimed at the destruction of a right and freedom”? In a society where we often publicly debate the exact nature and extent of our rights (whether related to gun ownership, speech, voting, marriage, etc.), that type of amendment would be used to sue people of different political ideologies far more than it would be used to prosecute Islamists.

      Of course, the likelihood of an amendment like that passing in the United States in my lifetime is next to zero.

  16. You seem to advocate a less than careful consideration of Islam. Between the lines, I see only a knee-jerk sense of ALL ISLAM being the same. I am not so sure. There is certainly room to consider that allowing free, unvetted immigration of people who do not share our belief in an open, tolerant society is not a healthy thing for us to do. I need more proof that simply being a believer in Islam equates someone as a non believer in tolerance and openness. I don’t have enough proof. Simply slamming the door does not solve our immediate problem. What is that immediate problem? You are advocating that the problem is violent terrorism? Or perhaps the problem is the existence of Islam? We certainly have had our share of homegrown, disgruntled wackos who blow things up and kill people. The vast majority of them have nothing to do with Islam. We are a profoundly violent society. The existence of fundamentalist religions is certainly something our society has allowed. I speak of the sort of Christianity espoused by certain Baptist ministries here. While violence and right wing religions are a problem, our immediate problem is more that we have to come to a place where our rights and freedoms are protected without changing our rights and freedoms fundamentally. Are we to change constitutionally and not allow certain religions?

    You seem to be advocating the wholesale elimination of aid to certain peoples and countries. Careful consideration of the consequences of withdrawing foreign aid from Muslim majority countries is needed. Did we not stir up one hell of a mess by invading AfGhanistan and Iraq? Would the wholesale withdrawal of foreign aid create the same sort of situation? No, The Saudis are NOT our friends. They have proven themselves to be quite traitorous and none of the administrations in my lengthening memory have addressed this fact. We have been sold out by the high bidding international corporations. Those corporations are not Muslim nor are they Christian, they are Ford, GM, Chrysler, Motorola, Haliburton and the like. None of whom welcome free exchanges of ideas or belief and none of whom have our best interests as a nation in mind.

  17. christine dodothy says

    Jeffrey Taylor, good article, but I take exception to your comment that Trump could be forgiven for not knowing what he is talking about. I beg to differ. He knows exactly what he is talking about and is the first international politician to speak openly and honestly about Islamic terrorist. He has broken the ice and started a global groundswell of opposition to the threatening political Islam and jihad.

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  19. Candace Lane says

    Lots of words when the only solution is a complete ban of the Cult. Islam – It is not a religion. It must be eradicated from earth .

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  25. hawa says

    Why can’t we declare human rights supersede religious rights?

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