Is There a Problem with Islam?

Politicians and media presenters are creating a distinction between ordinary peaceful Muslims and radical Islam. But have they got it right?

Two Types of Islam?

Since the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11th 2001, many of the nations of the world have united in their condemnation of this barbaric act of terrorism. At the same time, they have been at pains to distinguish between ordinary peaceful Muslims and the more radical type who resort to violence. But the question needs to be asked, are there really two different types of Islam, or should we be concerned about Islam as a whole?

Islam Versus Democracy

The establishment of Islamic nation states throughout the world, with a system of shari'a law, is foundational to the whole of Islam. This system of law is based on the Qur'an, so that laws are not made by a democratic parliament, instead they are found by clerics who claim to be able to interpret the Qur'an. They have no need for pluralistic democracy, in fact they consider it to be a heresy. All they need is a political leadership that is prepared to submit their actions for approval by the clergy. Everyone who lives in an Islamic nation state is expected to think and act like a Muslim, regardless of what they actually believe.

Islamic states throughout the world do not hold multi-party elections where anyone can participate. However, they will use democracy, wherever it exists, to gain a position of influence, then they cancel it and establish an Islamic state when they get the opportunity. Once you have a government with a majority of Muslims, there are no more elections. The overthrow of democracy and establishment of shari'a law is foundational to Islam, and all Muslims are expected to support it. The only matter of disagreement is about the method of support.

Political Response to Terrorism

The political response to the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon was to assemble a coalition of nation states who were prepared to identify and punish those responsible. Many nations pledged their support, including some Islamic nations who have risked division among their own populations. The coalition was easy to assemble because the World Trade Centre was not just an American institution. It was a place where businessmen and women from all over the world would meet for the purposes of trade, and many nations have lost some of their citizens in this attack.

Since the earliest days after September 11th, the prime suspect has been Osama Bin-Laden, with his network of Islamic terror groups, and his support base among the Taliban of Afghanistan. As time went on, the evidence against him became overwhelming, especially his statement that the attack on the World Trade Centre was "more successful than expected". He clearly had prior knowledge of the event. The Taliban government of Afghanistan has now been overthrown by American bombing, and his support base in Afghanistan has been destroyed. During the American action, the Islamic nations that opposed him were held together, not by matters of principle, but by the realisation that Osama Bin-Laden has gone too far and had awakened a sleeping giant. They still believe in the ultimate political triumph of Islam worldwide.

Islamic Excuses

While the world was in a state of shock after the attack on America, I never heard any Muslims condemn it outright. There were plenty of Muslims who expressed their regret, but they always followed it up with the a statement on the causes of terrorism. They were quick to point out the suffering of the Palestinian people at the hands of Israel and America, and they wanted us to believe that Muslims are the champions of human rights around the world, when in fact they are nothing of the sort. If they were the least concerned about human rights, they would stop the oppression of religious minorities throughout the Islamic world, most notably the Christians of Sudan who are being killed and taken into slavery.

The Palestinian problem is in any case a lame duck excuse. When Transjordan was partitioned, Jews on the East Bank were ordered to go to the West Bank and become absorbed into Israel, while Arabs living in the West Bank were given the opportunity to go to the East Bank. Those who took the opportunity were never properly absorbed into the Arab world, and to this day they live in squalid shanty towns. The Arab World, which has vast amounts of land throughout the Middle East and North Africa, could easily give a comfortable and prosperous life to all Palestinian migrants, but they choose not to do so because they want this problem to continue. All they want is a stick to beat America with, so that they can make excuses for all their acts of terror, even for the attack on the World Trade Centre.

The excuses about Israel disappear altogether when we consider that another band of Islamic terror groups from Pakistani Kashmir have attacked the Indian parliament building in Delhi. This has got nothing to do with Israel, it's just another attack from extremists who consider anyone who is not a Muslim to be a potential target. As I write this, Indian troops are assembling on the border, ready to go to war with Pakistan because of their failure to get rid of the extremists.

Denunciations at Last, but Not Enough

Since the attacks on September 11th, Muslim minorities in non-Islamic countries have become concerned for their own safety, although there have not been any serious incidents. Muslims in Britain have been especially concerned, after the failed attempt by Richard Reid to blow up an aircraft using explosives in his shoes. He used to attend a mosque in Brixton, South London. The same mosque was attended by Zacharias Moussaoui, who is accused of being the "20th hijacker" in the attack on America. The chairman of the mosque, Abdul Haqq Baker, has denounced terrorism, saying he would support government action to deport extremists. Dr. Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Muslim College, has also denounced terrorism, saying that the Home Office should stop giving priority entry to foreign clerics who speak little English and are unable to control the extremists in their congregations.

Clearly, these are statements of outright denunciation, because they are calling on the government to take action against extremists. However, we can expect to hear this type of denunciation from people in positions of responsibility who are concerned about the safety of others. We still have a problem with the ordinary Muslims who have either made excuses or said nothing. I have trawled the internet and have found no statements from Muslims, denouncing terrorism outright, except for a few newspaper reports that mention Baker and Badawi.

The Muslim Dilemma

Probably the greatest problem for Muslims is that they are not used to self-critical debate, and are unable to identify evils within their own community. They follow a heirarchical structure, relying on their Imams to tell them what to do, and they cannot express their own views freely. If the Imam doesn't say anything, the ordinary Muslim won't say anything either. There are two issues that restrain them from denouncing terrorism:

When the sacred months are over slay the infidels wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful.
Note: Allah forgives the victims of terrorism, but the terrorists themselves do not need to be forgiven.

The dilemma facing ordinary Muslims is that, in their hearts they oppose terrorism, but with their mouths they cannot say so, for fear of offending their own religious system. This is a problem that Muslims have to resolve, and for some of them the only solution might be to come out of Islam. For the rest of the world there is no dilemma, the only expectation is that Muslims should condemn terrorism.

Mike Gascoigne

Copyright 2001