The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology

Ibn Warraq, The Islam in Islamic Terrorism; the Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology, New English Review Press, Nashville, TN, 2017

Book review

It has nothing to do with Islam… Mentally deranged, fragile personalities are hijacking a sublime religion… More people die in highway accidents… All religions preach violence and spawn fundamentalists…

Seventeen years since the start of the jihad-intifada, sixteen years after 9/11, Western societies are challenged to understand the connection between antisemitism, antizionism, and 21st century jihad conquest. These two studies address two major misconceptions about the source and nature of the sporadic violence that erupts in a range of intensity from the fatal stabbing of one or a few people in the streets of a European city to the mass murder of 3,000 in Manhattan.

Our societies are like an army with abundant ammunition… and no guns

Law enforcement, intelligence and security services, government leaders, judges, academics, commentators, journalists, and simple citizens are on the battlefield, fighting a rearguard operation, losing ground day by day, self-defeating, and briefed…by the enemy. This intellectual reversal, which is an essential weapon in the war against the West, goes unexamined because those that should be warning against it have in fact succumbed to the lethal narrative strategy of jihad conquest. They do not think rationally, they react Islamically to assaults of all varieties, on all levels, from hijab fashion that they glorify to atrocious murders that they cover with flowers, candles and denial. The intellectual ravages are concealed behind a curtain of consensus.

Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin rips away, with her Jihadi Dictionary, the misleading separation between Islam and the mental illness frequently advanced to explain jihad murder. Yes, these enraged killers are mentally disturbed. But their insanity is specifically Islamic. They are not lost souls that arbitrarily wandered into an Islamic network and committed crimes that are then falsely attributed to Islam. Kobrin, an accomplished linguist, psychoanalyst, and counterterrorism expert, exposes from A to Z the psychological mechanisms by which the sons of devalued, terrorized mothers turn their own terror into annihilationist violence against the Other. Specialists may debate certain points and references to a given school or analyst, but the lay reader is impressed by the clarity brought to the issue by the rigors of a highly developed discipline as compared to the media chatter that reports on this ongoing assault on our lives and freedom. The dictionary format brings sharply focused definition to details that distinguish jihad violence from others forms of criminality that, however morbid, do not further a collective project of conquest.

Precisely. Ibn Warraq outlines the framework in which this culturally induced madness furthers a universal open-ended project of world conquest. The “beliefs, ideas, and ideology” of the subtitle of The Islam in Islamic Terrorism, are enshrined in the Koran, extended in the hadith and sunna, clarified and confirmed by certified Islamic scholars, and translated into action from generation to generation, from the time of Islam’s prophet to the present day. The stultifying uniformity of Islamic doctrine is exceeded only by the horrifying savagery of its practices. Erudite, intellectually scrupulous, and totally proficient in both Islamic and Western languages and culture, Ibn Warraq draws on a wealth of textual and historical evidence to sustain his thesis [quote] that the Islamic war currently waged against the West-and including “wayward” Muslims-is not a reaction to any geopolitical situation, not provoked by any outside causes, not misdirected by a minority of hijackers that could twist a peaceful religion into a relentless war machine.

The defenseless newborn, thrust from the womb into a merciless world, bonds with the nurturing mother, overcomes his existential fear, learns to distinguish self and other and, fortified with trust, achieves the separation from the mother which is absolutely essential to the formation of a healthy adult personality. The jihadi cannot bond with a mother that is devalued, excluded, mistreated and most often cast aside by a polygamous husband. Devalued as a girl child, dominated and terrorized by her brothers, subject to sexual abuse and at the same time held to preserve the family honor under threat of death, excluded from free and equal social communication, the jihadi’s mother cannot interact in a healthy relationship to her sons. The boy is perversely attached to his mother, detests and reviles her, and transfers his positive feelings onto motherfied objects or persons that he protects with extreme violence. In a hopeless attempt to relieve his unresolved childish terror the jihadi feminizes and terrorizes his victims to a degree that knows no limits.

And, as Ibn Warraq brilliantly demonstrates, Islamic ideology gives the jihadi the framework within which to exercise his brutalized will. It doesn’t matter if the individual jihadi has studied the texts or learned the history, he has been shaped by his culture into a handy tool for the masterminds that know the tradition and devise the strategy to fulfill their Islamic obligations. The Muslim delinquent in a European city that steals, batters, rapes and in the worst cases kills does not need to know chapter and verse of the Koran that give him the right, nay the obligation to dominate, terrorize, and dispossess the infidel. And still they are so many that recite koranic verses and belt out allahu akhbars as they commit the handiwork prescribed in their holy book. Why, then, is it so difficult to admit the connection?

Guardian editor David Shariatmadari is a sterling example of the determination to blind Western readers to the truth. Apparently fearing no contradiction, he constructs barriers, plays with distorting mirrors, buries the truth under heavyweight bullshit, casts aspersions on unnamed contradictors whose unjustified accusations against koranic Islam don’t even deserve precise references. In one of his more laughable assertions he claims: “The media uses shorthand, focuses on the present and immediate past rather than the vast contemporary and historical context, and therefore nudges us towards the conclusion that there’s something dodgy about this faith.”

Not so! The media, with rare exceptions, assumes like Shariatmadari that readers know nothing about the vast contemporary and historical context, and will believe him when he says “the history of jihadi terrorism is so very short: this is emphatically a late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon.”

Will The Guardian accept a rebuttal by Ibn Warraq whose command of the vast contemporary and historical context is unmatched? You can practically see him in the act of research, digging ever deeper and wider, to corroborate and enlarge his original reference, each name leading to another, each connection validating his hypothesis, sparing no effort to establish the uninterrupted chain of totalitarian oppression in the name of Doing Right and Forbidding Wrong. Decapitation, mutilation, iron discipline, zealous imposition on every hour every minute every gesture of the Muslim’s life, in a horrifyingly familiar pattern constantly repeated, endlessly renewed in the name of the prophet, of purity, of the koran.

Kobrin in alphabetical order, Warraq in chronological order, each with impressive mastery of the subject gives us a compact, coherent, comprehensive argument that permits an intelligent approach to a life and death subject that suffers from offhand treatment and deliberate or naïve misconceptions. In the night of April 4th, in the Belleville neighborhood of Paris, at least six armed policemen present in the building stood down while Kobili Traoré was torturing and battering his Jewish victim, Sarah Halimi. By the time the commandos arrived, he had already thrown her to her death from the third story balcony. Informed sources with access to the police report say they did not intervene because they feared the assailant was a terrorist. Why? Because he had been pacing around the apartment of his Malian neighbors, the Diaras, reciting koranic verses. Unfortunately, this awareness of the Islam in Islamic terrorism led to a paralysis of law enforcement. Subsequently, authorities remanded the killer to a hospital because of his mentally deranged condition. The state’s attorney waited more than five months before adding the aggravating circumstances of antisemitism to the charges brought against Traoré, though the killer knew his victim was Jewish. He’d already had the occasion to call her a dirty Jew! And he boasted, after the murder, that he had killed the neighborhood shietan. Do we know exactly which koranic verses he was reciting?

Was he, like Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis (California) chanting that the Jews must be annihilated down to the last man, woman, and child? Was it the rock and stone surah (described in a Daily Mail article as a medieval notion, as if it had long been abandoned)? The Center explained that the imam was not anti-Semitic; he was only referring to the Jews that kept the Muslims from praying at the al Aqsa mosque.

Yes, it was the height of the Temple Mount crisis. A Muslim man in the hostile crowd milling around at the Lion’s Gate declared to the world, via an i24 news roving camera, “The mosque is our honor…they mustn’t touch a hair [on her head].” This was a striking echo of Kobrin’s “Mosque” entry: “….The mosque is an unconscious representation of the mother’s breast according to Shahin Najafti, an Iranian rapper” targeted by death threats in retaliation for his record jacket picturing the mosque as a female breast. Kobrin concludes, “Picture a frightened little boy clinging hysterically to his mother’s skirt. This is the image often perceived when Muslims feel that their mosque is under attack. The heroic mother is a jihadi defense against the devalued, shameful female.” [pp 157-8]

The loose mouths and idle minds that pass for reliable commentators in our day were blaming Israel for turning a geopolitical conflict into a religious war. How? By asserting sovereignty on the Temple Mount (that the ignorant call the “mosque compound”). This is the same line of reasoning that blames jihad on the evil deeds of the wicked West. I dare say that it is impossible to come back with that kind of argument after reading Ibn Warraq. The sheer weight of undeniable evidence destroys the prevailing scatterbrained approach.

Ibn Warraq entertains and rebuts every evasive argument put forth today to protect Islam from the scrutiny that the current intensification of jihad conquest imposes. Citing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that Islam is inimical to the West [p 34], Ibn Warraq firmly establishes the scriptural origins of Islamic antisemitism: “Islamic antisemitism is not a modern creed derived from Nazism…” and observes wryly “…Western pundits seemed to have acquired a deeper knowledge of Islam than Islamists such as Abdullah Yussaf Azzam, the founder of Al Qaeda.” [p 53]

The principle of Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong justifies the most atrocious oppression and brutal violence, from the origins of Islam to the present day. While the pundits grab at straws, Ibn Warraq deepens and broadens his research. Every affirmation is supported by massive evidence. One would have to study for decades to even hope to refute these arguments, because theology is confirmed by reality down through the ages. For example, the great Islamic theologian, Al Ghazali (12th century), a major Sufi, that elaborates in chilling terms the application of this obligation to command right and forbid wrong, stands as an inspiration to modern day Islamists.

The know-nothings object: It’s a question of interpretation. There’s violence in the Bible, violence in the Koran and, besides, jihad really means inner struggle. On the contrary, says Ibn Warraq; under Islam, life is a closed book. [p.95] And jihad is defined and interpreted as the obligation to impose Islam to the ends of the earth by all means necessary. “Thus, to drive home the importance of jihad I have had recourse to every kind of scholarly evidence available.” [p 101] Another implacable demonstration that demolishes the quivering apologetics of irresponsible opinion-makers.

Naïve hopes, too, can be misleading. In the heat of the Temple Mount melodrama (July 2017) a message from a Saudi sheik reportedly calling for an alliance with Israeli in the combat against terrorism caused great excitement in some circles. Not surprising, in the light of the ongoing split between two major Arab-Muslim blocks, and a certain shared interest between the Saudis and the Israelis in the face of Iranian ambitions for regional hegemony…and beyond. But the reader of Ibn Warraq was immediately alerted to the Saudi sheik’s reference to Ibn Taymiyya as theological justification for this seemingly courageous position. In fact Ibn Taymmiya, noted for his opposition to quietism, is an inspiration for current day jihadists. “To those who prefer fasting, the vigils, the silence, the solitude…we should say that jihad is far more demanding. It is self-sacrificing…exposing oneself to death.” [p 201]

We can only mention here a few milestones on Ibn Warraq’s complete tour of fundamentalist Islam down through the ages, and the ties that bind theologians, jurists, theoreticians and authorities from the earliest times to the present thrust of jihad conquest. The sixteenth century Ottoman priest, Birgili, inspired the Qadizadeli movement “during which simple smoking infractions…often resulted in execution by ‘dismemberment, impaling, or hanging. His works are popular with Salafi and Wahabi groups to this day.” [pp 210-11]. Contrary to accepted wisdom, writes Ibn Warraq, Wahhabism was neither anticolonialist nor nationalist but rather one more example of the return to original purity, the rejection of bida (innovation) and shirk (polytheism, false gods) [p 223]. Century after century the same themes recur with the repetition obsession characteristic of Islam, repeatedly producing the same destructive consequences. The Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik, author of a modern guide to Islamic jihad, recommends: “Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end itself./ To instill terror into the hearts of the enemy, it is essential…to dislocate his Faith.” [p 274]

In a chapter drawn in a large part from the work of the late Barry Rubin and Wolfgang G. Schwartz, Ibn Warraq refutes the idea made popular by Matthias Küntzel that modern Islamic antisemitism was transfused from Nazism. As everything that had come before, he demonstrates thoroughly and meticulously the specifically Islamic roots of Jew hatred. “The grand mufti Haj Amin Al-Husaini advocated genocide even before the Nazi government did so.” [p 289] In Al-Husaini’s own words, “Do not rest until your land is free of the Jews. Do not tolerate the plan of division for Palestine has been an Arab land for centuries and shall remain Arab.”

The next chapter is devoted to the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyd Qutb, another zealous combatant for Doing Good and Forbidding Wrong, another ideologue whose embrace of the purity of the origins generates suffocating oppression, destruction, and atrocities. Like Ibn Taymiyya, Qutb argues for all-out military jihad. He dismisses those who interpret Islamic jihad in the narrow sense of defensive wars: they “lack understanding of the nature of Islam and its primary aim: to spread the message of Islam throughout the world.” [p 305]

The concluding, briefer chapters are no less enlightening. In a chapter on Muhammad Abd al-salam Faraj, Ibn Warraq draws the last work of the late Johannes J. G. Jensen, Neglected Duty, a translation of the creed of Sadat’s assassins that, states Jansen: “contains all the ideological material needed to justify the attacks of 9/11 or any other recent act of terror committed to frighten non-Muslims.” It equally explains the criminal behavior of immigrant youngsters in European cities that see “Islam as license to kill, rob, and commit arson.” [p 309]

And so on and so forth: Abdullah Azzam, born in the West Bank-holding a BA, MA, and PhD from Al Azhar University-perpetuates the koranic tradition of loving death as others love life: “History does not write its lines except with blood. Glory does not build its edifice except with skulls.” Scholar’s ink and martyr’s blood “until there remain only Muslims or people who submit to jihad.” Azzam opens the first chapter of his best known tract, Defense of the Muslim Lands, with a quote from Ibn Taymiyya: “The first obligation after …right belief is the repulsion of the enemy aggressor who assaults the religion and the worldly affairs.” [p 317]

Ibn Warraq’s thorough, comprehensive, meticulous study of Islam brings us step by step to contemporary figures -Arafat, al-Assad,, al-Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, bin Ladin, Khomeini, Ahmadinejad, and the “Islamic totalitarian nightmare” of Iran. The state terrorism achieved by the Islamic Republic, writes Ibn Warraq, follows naturally from the implementation of Islamic laws, “precisely the thesis I set out to demonstrate.” [p 346] In a stunning recapitulation, he summarizes the long line of inspiration of contemporary jihad from the origins of Islam to the Islamic State (Daesh) and beyond and so close to home, to the threat of: “…large scale immigration into the West from Muslim nations…of [hostile immigrants] who have no desire to learn why the West became so rich and tolerant, and certainly have no desire to assimilate.” [p 354] Ibn Warraq-one of the earliest, most proficient and learned of contemporary apostates-warns the West that defeated two totalitarian systems in the twentieth century should “prepare to confront another such ideology in the twenty-first century.” [p 355]

EDITORS NOTE: This book review by Nidra Poller originally appeared in Family Security Matters. Under creative Commons License: Attribution

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