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This Ramadan, Remember to Take Jihadists Seriously

Listen to this article.

Whenever any issue is misrepresented for a long, long time; whenever you see people distorting facts, refusing to abide by facts, and not making any sense in their accusations, you may be sure that the reasons they state are not their true reasons and that there is something deeper behind it which they do not care to admit.

The left often claims that the West has brought jihadism on itself through ‘colonialism’, ‘islamophobia’, and wars in the Middle East.

This is not true. Islam has always vilified non-muslims primarily for being infidels. This aggressive muslim sentiment predates recent wars in the Middle East by centuries. Christopher Hitchens recounts:

[When the] United States was barely a country, it was having its sailors taken as slaves by the Barbary states, the states of the Ottoman Empire and North Africa […], and its […] ships stopped, its crews carried off into slavery. We estimate one and a half million European and American slaves [were] taken between 1750 and 1850.

[Founding Fathers] Jefferson and Adams went to their ambassador in London and said, ‘Why do you do this to us? The United States has never had a quarrel with the muslim world of any kind. We weren’t in the crusades; we weren’t in the war in Spain. Why do you do this to our people and our ships? Why do you plunder and enslave our people?’ And the ambassador said very plainly, […] ‘Because the koran gives us permission to do so because you are infidels, and that’s our answer.’ And Jefferson said, ‘Well, in that case, I will send a navy which will crush your state.’ Which he did, and [that’s] a good thing, too.

Islamic fundamentalism is not created by American democracy. It’s a lie to say so; it’s a masochistic lie, and it excuses those who are the real criminals and blames us for the attacks […].

In other words, the myth of Western foreign policy as the cause of anti-Western muslim sentiments was debunked centuries ago by muslims.

Sam Harris has likewise tried to dispel this myth in this episode of his podcast – the entire episode is worth listening to. He quotes from Dabiq, an English-language propaganda magazine published by ISIS from 2014 through 2016, specifically an article titled ‘Why We Hate You and Why We Fight You’. The original publication has become difficult to find, so I quote from a secondary source (archived here). ISIS comments on Western responses to a then-recent terrorist attack on a gay nightclub (bold emphasis removed in this and all subsequent quotes from Dabiq):

Many Westerners, however, are already aware that claiming the attacks of the [jihadist] to be senseless and questioning incessantly as to why we hate the West and why we fight them is nothing more than a political act and a propaganda tool. The politicians will say it regardless of how much it stands in opposition to facts and common sense just to garner as many votes as they can for the next election cycle. The analysts and journalists will say it in order to keep themselves from becoming a target for saying something that the masses deem to be “politically incorrect.” The apostate “imams” in the West will adhere to the same tired cliché in order to avoid a backlash from the disbelieving societies in which they’ve chosen to reside. The point is, people know that it’s foolish, but they keep repeating it regardless because they’re afraid of the consequences of deviating from the script.

The writers feel the need to explain why they hate and fight us. And they give a comprehensive list of six reasons (italics mine):

1. We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers; […].

Disbelief is also the reason they fight us:

[Y]our disbelief is the primary reason we fight you, as we have been commanded to fight the disbelievers until they submit to the authority of Islam, […].

They then reference this command in the second chapter of the koran, which says to “fight [disbelievers] until there is no fitnah [paganism] and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah” (Al-Baqarah 193). Presumably, it is this passage the ambassador mentioned above had in mind when justifying the enslavement of peaceable, innocent American and European sailors.

The second reason they hate us is our separation of religion and state:

2. We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted, a matter that doesn’t concern you because you separate between religion and state, thereby granting supreme authority to your whims and desires via the legislators you vote into power. […]

So, why do they reject the separation of religion and state? Their reference to “whims and desires” shows that they consider non-religious legislation to be arbitrary. They also quote a prophet as saying “[l]egislation is not but for Allah” (Yusuf 40). And they trace “debauchery” such as gay rights and consumption of alcohol back to this separation.

The third reason involves atheism:

3. In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage war against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator. […]

They disagree with atheists that god did not create the universe; that there is no afterlife. Once again, they quote from the koran to explain their belief.

The fourth reason regards freedom of speech, which they promise to fight with violence:

4. We hate you for your crimes against Islam and wage war against you to punish you for your transgressions against our religion. As long as your subjects continue to mock our faith, insult the prophets of Allah […,] burn the Quran, and openly vilify the laws of the Shari’ah, we will continue to retaliate, not with slogans and placards, but with bullets and knives.

It is only now, in the last two reasons ISIS lists, that they turn to foreign policy:

5. We hate you for your crimes against the Muslims; your drones and fighter jets bomb, kill, and maim our people around the world, and your puppets in the usurped lands of the Muslims oppress, torture, and wage war against anyone who calls to the truth. As such, we fight you to stop you from killing our men, women, and children, to liberate those of them whom you imprison and torture, and to take revenge for the countless Muslims who’ve suffered as a result of your deeds.

6. We hate you for invading our lands and fight you to repel you and drive you out. As long as there is an inch of territory left for us to reclaim, jihad will continue to be a personal obligation on every single Muslim.

The reason islamists believe the West has aggressed upon them, even though religiously motivated attacks by muslims against the West came first, is that islamists believe what they do is right. If the koran says the fight against infidels is right, as it does, then, to islamists, any defense against that fight seems like aggression.

But before any reader can misinterpret their ‘reasoning’, they rush to explain that Western foreign policy is not the primary reason for their hatred and wars against the West (italics mine):

What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you.

Jizyah is a tax islamists want to levy on infidels.

ISIS continue, a bit further down, claiming their hatred is not only driven by disagreement but, if you can believe it, by compassion:

[W]e fight you, not simply to punish and deter you, but to bring you true freedom in this life and salvation in the Hereafter, freedom from being enslaved to your whims and desires as well as those of your clergy and legislatures, and salvation by worshiping your Creator alone and following His messenger.

We fight you in order to bring you out from the darkness of disbelief and into the light of Islam, and to liberate you from the constraints of living for the sake of the worldly life alone so that you may enjoy both the blessings of the worldly life and the bliss of the Hereafter.

They close by saying:

[W]e will never stop hating you until you embrace Islam, and will never stop fighting you until you’re ready to leave the swamp of warfare and terrorism through the exits we provide, the very exits put forth by our Lord for the People of the Scripture: Islam, jizyah, or – as a last means of fleeting respite – a temporary truce.

So there it is, straight from the horse’s mouth. Islamists still debunk this myth to this day, and explain why leftists spread it regardless. How can anyone still believe the lies Western leftists peddle? Maybe the letter supposedly written by Osama Bin Laden to the American people in 2002, which focuses primarily on American foreign policy, has caused these misconceptions to spread. But some have questioned its authenticity, and even that letter demands that Westerners convert to islam. Even if he did write it, that does not change historical facts. At this point, one has no choice but to conclude that leftists spread these lies deliberately; that this is no honest mistake.

Given the quotes above, it is plain as day that ISIS is motivated by religious scripture – the koran. They hate and fight us because the koran tells them to. They take the koran seriously, so they do what it says. They do not think of themselves as evil – who ever does? – but genuinely think their actions benefit the West. Thinking ISIS is crazy or lying about their motives, as the left keeps suggesting, only serves to underestimate ISIS. Their actions are a matter of ideas, and understanding their motives is a matter of taking those ideas seriously.

As ISIS have stated, they want conversion or subjugation – and, failing that, death. You cannot reason with people who wish to kill you if you don’t submit to them. The West, on the other hand, does not care whether muslims convert to christianity or atheism – that’s one of the objective differences between the two sides. More generally, the same moral difference that Sam Harris identified between Palestine and Israel applies here, too: if muslims put their weapons down, there’d be peace; if non-muslims put theirs down, there’d be bloodshed. Why should we believe this? Because they have told us so. Their war against the West is a missionary one, and it will only stop with one side, hopefully the West, winning decisively over the other.

You may be tempted to object that ISIS does not represent all muslims. While it is true that no individual muslim who isn’t a member of theirs should be judged by their actions, there is a common misconception that islam is a religion of peace. It is not – it is, in fact, the religion of terror, and jihadism will not stop until the West crushes it. And we should still judge any adherent of any religion for his rejection of reason and embracing of mysticism, islam being by far the worst of the three major world religions.

So, during the mystic festivities of Ramadan, let us reject religiosity and violence and reaffirm our commitment to reason.


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