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A Jihadist Conquest? Print E-mail
By James V. Schall, S. J.   
Monday, 01 November 2010
Editor’s Note: Given the ongoing debate about the nature of Islam, we will be presenting two views this week. Today, Fr. Schall lays out a case for why we cannot simply deny that Jihadism is a legitimate interpretation of the Koran. Tomorrow, Emina Melonic, an American Muslim born in Bosnia, will argue that Islam can practice something approximating the dialogue of faith and reason familiar to most Catholics. George Marlin will be staying up late this evening, but his analysis of the meaning of the election results for various Catholic concerns will appear on Thursday. – Robert Royal
   

What follows is an opinion. An opinion means that, of two sides of a contradictory proposition, both sides have evidence, neither conclusive. The proposition I address, and it needs frank address, is this: That faction of active, believing, and armed Muslims, who hold that Islam must set forth to conquer the remaining world for Allah, whatever their relative size, not only have the better side of the argument about whether the Koran and actual Muslim history support them, but that they have, in the next half-century, if persistent, a high probability of success. The contradictory opinion is: Islam is peaceful and, in any case, has no chance so to prevail.

For what it is worth, though many recent books support the latter contention (list on request), objectively, the first side has the better argument and, on this basis, is acting, as we speak. Don’t be scandalized if Schall and Bin Laden agree on this view of Islam. These militant representatives, who to us are mere “terrorists,” do intend to conquer rest of the world for Allah, as he commanded them to do. Progress is being made. It will not be stopped unless made to stop. I do hope for, but don’t count on, another Tours or Lepanto – military defeats terrorists plan to avenge. The Jihadist mind is shrewd. It reads western cultural and moral decline as indicating its own “historic moment,” which, as Belloc said at the end of The Crusades, offers it the chance to do exactly as it did before.

While much cynicism and corruption are found among the Jihadists, a genuine motive we call “religious” is evident. That is why most of our sociologists and philosophers cannot get a handle on it. Scientific methodology excludes the spiritual. We really do have “martyrs” who, in the name of Allah’s reign, seriatim blow themselves up with tens to thousands of innocent people (whom they think are “guilty”). As a result of such “noble” deeds, theologians tell them that they are in heaven. Many Muslims believe them.


         Hassan-i Sabah, 11th-century grandmaster of the Hashshashin (assassins), an early Jihadist.

This interpretation, that it is legitimate to kill the innocent to expand Allah’s reign, is one of two “nuclear bombs” the Muslim world possesses. The first is their relative population increase and our decrease. The second is the suicide bomber universalized. This is why Benedict XVI made a point about the latter in his “Regensburg Lecture.” Philosophic voluntarism that justifies violence has to be confronted head on. When detonated, the suicide bomber is more lethal than anything Iran is developing. The suicide bomber can explode himself any time, any place in the world, among the small or the great. His potential for civil disruptiveness in world cities is almost infinite, once widely put into effect. Jihadist theorists know this potential. Our unused atom bombs worry us. The randomly exploding pipe bomb is intended to terrify us.

Shamir Kalid Shamir, the authoritative Egyptian Jesuit, in his book, 111 Questions on Islam, concludes precisely that, in the Koran, it is possible to discover good evidence for both sides of this proposition – Holy War is/is not justified. Both are there. The Jihadists are not deranged for finding it there; nor are those uninformed who don’t. I conclude from this position that those whom we designate as “terrorists,” mainly not to face the issue of whether what they propose follows from their “religious” beliefs, are faithful to the Koran and to Muslim history. That history also recalls the arms that conquered much of the Islamic world, as we now know it, much of it Christian lands held by those who wouldn’t or couldn’t prevent the conquest.

I am quite prepared to analyze Islamic power in terms of the Aristotelian category of regimes. In structure and practice, most actual Muslim regimes are monarchic or tyrannical in rule. I doubt, however, that the legal structure of these states, whose boundaries were often drawn by European colonial powers, are particularly effective for the more recent across-all-borders awakening of Islam to the possibility of world conquest. Nor do I think some Machiavellian, Leninist, or Nietzschean “will to power,” rather than religious belief, is what is primarily behind it all. The religious belief that the world should be subjected to Allah and his law under a universal caliphate is what is operative. World conquest in praise of Allah is an idea, almost unfathomable to us, that has lasted down the centuries since Mohammed’s blinding military career.

I am somewhat sympathetic to this Muslim project to complete what is considered to be the “mission” of Islam in the world, that all be “subject” to Allah. I think it is a contorted version of “go forth and teach all nations.” Both the understanding of God and the means are different. That is the problem. We do not want to face it. The Jihadists do.

 
James V. Schall, S.J., a professor at Georgetown University, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. His most recent book is The Mind That Is Catholic.

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Comments (15)Add Comment
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written by Andrew Scales, November 02, 2010
In my view there are three groups of Muslims. The first group are the Jihadists. The second group are those Muslims who are barely making it food wise and housing, etc. The third group are those who are dead. The question I have is would the second group be Jihadists if not for there dire economic situation?
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written by James, November 02, 2010
Father, while your analysis is thought-provoking it seems a bit simplistic in its portrayal of Islam as monolithic. Surely, Belloc’s wake-up call is worth remembering, when he warned that the resurrection of Islam would result in “the renewal of that tremendous struggle between the Christian culture and what has been for more than a thousand years its greatest opponent.”
Although Muslims are united by faith and outnumber all other religions – 1.2 billion at last estimate – they nonetheless are badly splintered by ethnicity, nationality, culture and race. As Pat Buchanan points out in his book, “Day of Reckoning,” arguing against the possibility of Muslim world domination and a new Pax Islamica, “If faith is their strength, diversity is their weakness.”
Buchanan notes that of the 1.2 billion Muslims, only a fourth are Arab, the rest mostly Asians residing in Indonesia, the most populous Islamic country, followed by Pakistan, China, India and Bangladesh.
True, Zionism unites them but, as Buchanan points out, Muslims have fought more wars with each other than with Israel.
Finally and perhaps most tellingly, Muslims lack pure economic power, with only Saudi Arabia cracking the top 40 in terms of gross domestic product. Egypt, with a population of 70 million, has a smaller GDP than New Zealand with 4 million people.
Jihadists may be successful in claiming the front page with isolated acts of terrorism but militarily speaking are no match for the West’s vast superiority in sheer firepower and technology; examples abound. Buchanan rightly sums up: “As for America being forced to submit to the dictate of a restored caliphate by nuclear blackmail, that is beyond parody.”
The potential of mass terror attacks on U.S. soil remains a threat, but America cannot be conquered in this way. Lincoln said that this nation would only succumb to “the vandals within.”
Andrew McCarthy’s “The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America” illuminates this topic brilliantly, in showing the growing complicity between the current administration and its left supporters and the Islamic world. Thankfully, Americans today are about to help re-route the Ship of State from the extreme port side to a more central course.
And, in the battle for "hearts and minds," Christianity, which I still struggle with in terms of doubt, offers much more "ammunition" for the genuine truth seeker. One need only study the Founder of each -- Jesus Christ, whose life, death and resurrection represent the "greatest story ever told, and Mohammed, whose life of deception and debauchery leaves one wondering how he could have been the inspiration for a major religion.
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written by James Danielson, November 02, 2010
Certainly, violent Muslims are a danger to us, and even if they are a minority of all Muslims, their actual numbers could be large enough to constitute a grievous threat. Our central government's insistence on claiming Jihadists as a pesky minority within a "religion of peace" is delusional (one hopes this is calculated political rhetoric that masks a clear understanding of our situation), but one might worry also that the government of the United States, and maybe of the European states too, will use the angst created by acts of terror to accelerate their expansion of power as an end in itself.
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written by Other Joe, November 02, 2010
Most people have historical nearsightedness. Events close up are blurred, sometimes to unintelligibly. One could call it the "fog of now". Father's points are so obvious as to be self-evident. They are expressed with fine balance. Many argue against them by mere assertion, on which is constructed a precarious pile of opinions and inferences. Notice, there is no effective "pushback" in the Islamic society to counter either the rhetoric or the actions of the jihad warriors. Handwringing and cringing do not count. The "problem" is not going to go away by itself. It appears that we and our faith are to be tested. Pity those with no faith who will be tested without the comforts of meaning.
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written by Thomas C. coleman, Jr., November 02, 2010
Pardon me, James, but Father Schall never remotely suggested that Islam is monolithic. He clearly aknowleged that there are different schools of thought wihtin the splintered world of Islam. He quite accurately, with great intellectual honesty, points out that the jihadists have a basis in the Koran for holding the views that they do and for striving to Islamisize the world through any means. We must face these facts and stop pretending the jihadists are not "real" Muslims just because most of us have very nice Muslim friends and it makes us feel more enlightened to deny the very real historicity and reality of Islam's conquering spirit. How many more Major Hasan's do we deed to realize that there are many Muslims who would do what he did? Look what just happened to a Catholic Church in Iraq! Facing these truth does not mean that Americans will start mistreating their Muslim neighbors, but refusing to note that there are many real Muslims who sympathize and cooperate with Al Queda could lead to horrible results for our country and Western Civilization. Thank you again, Fr Schall!
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written by Billy Bean, November 02, 2010
I have read Fr. Schall's analysis and find it compelling. Many will no doubt close their eyes and hope for it all to go away. The historical precedents for such a response are as fresh in the memory as British Prime Minister Chamberlain's hope for "peace in our time."
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written by Billy Bean, November 02, 2010
To those who seek refuge in the intramural disputes among the Muslims, let it be understood: Whatever else divides them, they have a common vision of the "submission" of all to Allah. Not all of them agree that this involves violence and agression, but all of them agree on the eventual outcome, as all Christians agree that, in the end, "every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." We envision different ends; for the most part, we disagree about the legitimacy of the means to those ends. Conflict is inevitable.
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written by Louise, November 02, 2010
Father, didn't Spain finally have to expel the Muslims in 1492? Is my memory faulty for thinking that the Inquisition was founded to root out those Muslims who fraudulently continue to profess Christianity? I wonder whether it could come to that in our country and even in Europe.

I am so relieved and encouraged to hear voices who are not afraid to acknowledge the truth about the threat of Islam. I'm not sure that our superior military or financial resources could halt the Muslim advance in our country. Since theirs is an invasion by immigration, and since wealth and well-being in their societies have no meaning for them, how can our wealth be a defense against their aggression, especially when their aggressive advances are made through the application of our own laws against us? They demand and receive accommodation for religious practices that they don't demand even in their own countries. It begins there.

I used to wonder why nobody seemed to be concerned that the people of the dry, Middle Eastern deserts suddenly wanted nothing more than to live in the damp and cold Pacific Northwest, or Chicago, or Detroit, or in Helsinki. or London etc.. What possible attraction could these places have for such people? Did (or does) our immigration policy limits on the numbers of immigrants from Islamic nations? Wasn't anybody curious enough to ask the question? Does anybody know who underwrote the expenses of the movements of such large numbers of people who seem to be quite poor here? And, yes, the immigrants live among us in peace at the same time that their communities become incubators of home-grown terrorists. Let's hope that we can find a way to protect our country from the consequences of this invasion by immigration.
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written by jason taylor, November 02, 2010
Louise, that would take a long time to go over, and I'm sorry to say I would have to go back to my books to look it up as I can't remember it properly. However there was trouble with conquered Muslims in Spain at the time, though of course some of it was the crown's fault; Spain's rulers were rather magnanimity-challenged. There was even a rather nasty insurgency several years before the Battle of Lepanto which had a surprising resemblance to modern insurgencies.
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written by melanie statom, November 03, 2010
Religious sanction of violence, in any faith ( including Christianity) is definitively exposed for what it truly is: error, when we are able to grasp the profound revelation of God in the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ. The unveiling of systems of " sacred justified violence " remains central to understanding our own biblical history and the definitive Word God speaks in the non-retaliatory, non-violent life of Jesus. This Word is a universal word for the survival and well-being of all humankind.
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written by Claudia, November 03, 2010
"There was even a rather nasty insurgency several years before the Battle of Lepanto which had a surprising resemblance to modern insurgencies."
Jason, that "insurgency" was supported by Turkey. The great problem of Spain in confronting Islam throughout the Middle Ages, was that Spanish people were alone facing it. But the people who were fighting them were not. Turkey provided them with money, weapons and support, the same that also supported Mediterranean pirates ("Barbarroja") who mostly captured slaves in the beaches or robbed houses or ships. That was the reason why King Phillip III had to expell them in the early years of the XVIIth century (in 1492 the ones who were expelled were the Jews).
Of course, a that time they were considered as traitors. Now, they would be considered as "another culture".
A note: throughout the Middle Ages, Christian kingdoms had Muslim allies (even The Cid fought alongside the Moorish King of Zaragoza during his exile) against Islamist invasions on Spain ("almorávides", "almohades" and "benimerines", who were the ideologic ancestors of Al-Qaeda and modern Islamic fundamentalism), who killed both Christians and what we would call today "moderate Muslims".
So there is nothing NEW, everything comes back.
In the end, it's not mainly "their" problem, but ours. You can't give subsidies, homes, scholarships, etc. to people who are here trying to kill you, trying to implement Sharia (including flogging, stoning and so on) or calling for a Caliphate (just search for Abu Hamza and his son, and it's not the only case). You can't consider all legislations as equal, whether they punish murder or they support it (honor killings are punished with at most two years in Jordan and only 6 months in Gaza and others). And you can't be perpetually ashamed of what you are or about what other people one thousand years ago did, while there are barbaric acts committed today, which go unnoticed.
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written by Louise, November 03, 2010
Thank you, Claudia, for that information.
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written by Michael, November 05, 2010
Thank you for an excellent piece

In Europe, where I live, I see some hopeful signs, where Muslim women, especially, are manifesting their confidence in democracy and proclaiming their adherence to its values.

In France, the president of the Muslim women’s movement Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither sluts nor door-mats) Sihen Habchi, in a forceful attack on “multi-culturalism” has demanded “No more justifications of our oppression in the name of the right to be different and of respect toward those who force us to bow our heads” and Rachida Dati, herself a Muslim and former French Minister of Justice told the National Assembly that the Republic was capable of uniting men and women of different origins, colours and religions around the principles of tolerance, liberty, solidarity and laïcité, making the Republic truly one and indivisible. Likewise, Fadela Amara, another Muslim and Secretary of State for Urban Policies has declared that “for this generation, the crucial issues are laïcité, gender equality and gender desegregation, based upon living together in harmony throughout the world, and not only in France.”

It is a pity that such voices are not reported more often in the media.
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written by Michael Baker, November 08, 2010
That Mahommedanism is a parody of the religion founded by God may be seen in its perversion of various of Christ’s teachings. Christ warned his followers of the perils of the flesh—Mahommed seduced his followers by promises of carnal pleasure. Christ called His followers to go out and convert the whole world through love—Mahommedanism seeks to do so through violence. Christ taught that perfection lies in laying down one’s life that others may live—Mahommedanism teaches that perfection lies in laying down one’s life that others may die. These characteristics reveal its provenance. What St Thomas Aquinas said of it in the 13th century is true today: “Mahommed produced no signs in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Mahommed said that he was sent in the power of his arms—signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.” (Contra Gentes I, 6, [4])
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written by jason taylor, December 10, 2011
"Jason, that "insurgency" was supported by Turkey."

Indeed it was. Like I said it had a surprising resemblance to modern insurgencies. Did you perhaps think that I consider the word insurgency to be a term of praise rather then a mere description of a form of politico-military operation?

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