The Islamic State has done the world one great favour. Before its rise, Moslems could, with a straight face, claim that Islam is a religion of peace, and that the terrorists of al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah (‘Did you mean “Ebola”?’), Islamic State, Boko Haram, MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippines), al Shabab (Kenya) and their like, are either defending themselves against American/ Capitalist and/or practice some perverted, extremist version of Islam. The rise of the Islamic State focused world attention on Islam like never before, and is creating a tectonic and polarising shift in public opinion, as can be seen on the comments sections of almost every online news story about Islam – where those comments are unmoderated by mainstream media editors, for whom, along with establishment politicians, it would appear the phrase “out of touch” was invented.
In February 2015, the Islam Surveyed blog published the results of an exhaustive survey of UK media reader comments on stories about Islam. The survey covered leading newspapers and websites from both left and right, including the Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail, Spectator, Huffington Post UK and local media, from May 2014 to January 2015. It found not only that 80% of comments were distrustful and critical of Islam, but that these views were constant across all media surveyed. Only 5% of comments were sympathetic to Islam. In most cases, comments were moderated by media editors; it is likely that unmoderated comments would have been even more critical.
Claiming that Islam means ‘peace’ is a routine and necessary fiction of the modern Islamic PR machine, never more so since the atrocities of 9/11. Islam literally means ‘submission’ or ‘surrender’ – to Allah, and to his word, as revealed in the Koran (‘Moslem’ means ‘one who submits’). It is to the ‘peace’ of this surrender that Moslems and Islamic apologists refer. This ‘peace’ is not simply between believer and Allah, but also, because Islam is essentially a political enterprise, that within Dar al-Islam (House of Islam, or land governed by Islamic rule/sharia) – as opposed to the rest of the world, Dar al-Harb (House of War). This ‘peace within the House of Islam’ is itself a fiction, since many of Islam’s sects are as keen to slay each other as they are to slay any other kind of infidel, in an endless and nihilistic cycle of destruction and violence. Jihad is neither some ‘inner struggle’ nor a peripheral part or aberration of Islam: Jihad, in pursuance of a worldwide caliphate enforcing sharia, is at Islam’s very core.
Western governments prefer referring to the Islamic State by its original names, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) for two reasons: firstly, it reinforces the fiction that the Islamic State is not Islamic, and secondly, it reinforces the fiction that the Islamic State is limited by the geographic boundaries of those countries.
If you examine the core Islamic texts, it is clear that there are no Islamic State atrocities which were not committed by Mohammed or his immediate successors. The founder of Islam beheaded youths; he set fire to mosques with Moslems inside who would not go to war; he took slaves and he committed genocide. All this is to be found in devout Moslem scholar Ibn Ishaq’s authoritative biography of Mohammed, written around 750. Modern biographies still quote it, but tend to selectively ignore Mohammed’s bloodthirsty attributes and actions.
There is a reluctance to address the religious inspiration of the acts of terrorism, to admit that their ideology is derived from Islam and its founding texts, the Koran, the Hadith, the Sunna and the early history of the Caliphate. Instead, the present administration exhorts us to use euphemisms such as “violent extremist”. “Whereas The 9/11 Commission Report, published under the presidency of George W. Bush in July 2004 as a bipartisan product, had used the word Islam 322 times, Moslem 145 times, jihad 126 times, and jihadist 32 times, The National Intelligence Strategy of the United States, issued by the Obama administration in August 2009, used the term Islam 0 times, Moslem 0 times, jihad 0 times.” Now Obama’s policy applies to internal government documents as well, which can only have disastrous consequences for our understanding of political groups and events in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and South and South East Asia. “How can one possibly analyze the power and appeal of this ideology, the way that ideas set its strategy and tactics, why it is such a huge menace if any reference to the Islamic religion and its texts or doctrines isn’t permitted?”
Perhaps it was only in 1946, when George Kennan wrote his classified ‘Long Telegram’ that America began to understand the nature of the Soviet Union, why it acted the way it did, how the Kremlin thought, and why the USSR was a grave threat to America. In other words, it took three decades to understand the mind of the enemy.
To complicate matters further, today there are two enemies: first, non-European, religiously informed non-state terrorist groups, like ISIS. Second, and equally dangerous, states that, in fact, fund and support them. There is evidence that, as The Atlantic reported in June, 2014, “Two of the most successful factions fighting Assad’s forces are Islamist extremist groups: Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). And their success is in part due to the support they have received from two Persian Gulf countries: Qatar and Saudi Arabia.”
The worldwide debate on Islam has now fully erupted, for and between both Moslems and non-Moslems. Considering the skills of Islam’s soft jihad (PR machine), if the world had risen up against Islam before the Islamic State showed Islam’s true colours, it would have had a far more difficult, if not impossible fight on its hands.