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Islam and the Free World: What Should be done as an imperative Survival (B)

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The following steps must be taken with deep efforts, seriously and effectively:

1) No more the twisted mirror image. To view Islam through Western inclusive pluralistic lenses means not only never understanding Islam but also it may produce disastrous results. What if the struggle is between two polar opposite cultural conceptions, between a society that aspires to modernity and progress, as against totalitarianism of thought, traditional tribal values and religious extremism?

What if Islamic approaches do not play by the Western rules of the game, by the Judeo-Christian morality? What if Islamic behavior is deeply rooted in the hearts of the Muslims as a norm of social behavior, as a cultural reflection of their society? What if Muslims are devoted to implementing their values out of profound hatred and hostility?

Psychologist Norman Dixon has defined the issue aptly: We are busy performing two things: first, denying reality, and second, when the catastrophe happens, rationalizing our mistaken behavior. This is the reason why the Free World is flattering, appeasing, and serving as useful idiots to Islam and Muslims. If we do not know why the Muslims hate us so deeply and they shamelessly continue pushing for concessions, is there any hope for us to prevail? One Jew of the Holocaust survivors, who was asked what he had learned from the Second World War, replied: “When somebody says he wants to kill you, you should believe him.” Everything is so clear and obvious, yet, we do not want to learn.

Let us take, for example, the issue of language, which represents Orwell’s 1984. There is a heated debate concerning the difference between Islam and Islamism. As if Islamism is a political ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is Jihad and conquests, while Islam is a peaceful religion. However, this is the Western debate, the Western language and a twisted formula to evade reality. There is absolutely nothing on that matter in the Islamic vocabulary.

europeislamMoreover, what if the terms ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ are totally opposite in Western and Arab-Islamic political culture? What if we all use the same terms — peace, political arrangements, negotiations, coexistence, etc. — while we translate them operationally and understand them conceptually totally differently? What if for Islam “good” is only whatever advances the cause of Islam to control the world, and “evil” is whatever resists the cause of Islam and enables the existence of the Kuffār? What if Islam teaches war in the name of peace, and hate in the name of love? What if, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are the moderate true believers, since they strictly follow the orders and commandments of the Sharī’ah, and those whom we relate to as moderates are in fact the extremists, even infidels, in the Islamic perspective?

There is another perspective, which is Theodor Adorno’s idea of the authoritarian personality. Scholars had determined that social conservatives suffer from ‘mental rigidity,’ ‘dogmatism,’ and ‘uncertainty avoidance,’ together with associated indicators for mental illness. This is a Machiavellian psychological command and control device. Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.

This is exactly the Arab-Islamic personality that leads to cultural terrorism. Obedience is the result of force. Force is the antithesis of humanizing actions. It is synonymous in human mind with savageness, lawlessness, brutality, and barbarism displayed in an inhuman attitude toward the other. Consequently, it rejects, for example, the first principles of the US Declaration of Independence of “unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is rejected by Islam as its uppermost characteristics is submission to Allah.

According to Ali Sina’s paraphrasing, there are three categories of Muslims residing in the Free World: the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, this division is not according to Western definitions. The good are in fact the bad; the bad are in fact the good and the ugly are in fact the good face of the Islamic propagators introduced to the Free World’s public opinion, in order to deceive and mislead. So, in fact, nothing in Islam is what it is because everything is what it is not. Each and every group has its role in the world game of Islam to occupy the world and subdue humanity to Islamic rule.

What if the terrorists are actually good Muslims, practicing the commandments of the Sharī’ah? Muhammad raided and butchered people merely because they were not his followers. The good Muslims do the same. Bombing and terrorism perpetrated by Muslims are replicas of Muhammad’s raids, Ghazawāt, for booty (Ghanā’im) sanctioned in the Qur’an. Muhammad ordered the assassination of his critics, killing the apostates, slaughtering the infidels and decapitating their heads, and imposing terror on them. It is all written in the Qur’an.

What if the bad Muslims are those who do not practice their religion and do not follow its ordinances? What if the ugly Muslims actually appear beautiful? They are eloquent, articulate, intelligent, attractive, and highly manipulative. They know what to say to gain the Muslim majority’s approval and applause. They are charming. Their words are reassuring and their faces are reliable and authentic. They act efficiently in diplomacy of deceit; they use propaganda in order to make you believe that Islam is not only peaceful and poses no threat to you, but in fact is cooperative and dialogue-oriented. These are wolves in sheep clothing proving that deception is as deadly as terror.

Muslims that practice and support the ideology and doctrine of Islam are all part of the problem. That is, they wish to occupy the world and to subdue humanity. Some use terrorism and violence; some use Da’wah and good words of propagation; and some, perhaps the majority, push forward, by charity money of Zakāt, by demography and birth-rate, and by being the silent majority, that is refraining from denouncing and alienating the terrorists. The result: Islam acts firmly and steadily to take over the world. This goal is rooted deep in every Muslim, the good, the bad and the ugly, each with its own strategy and tactics, but all with the same objective.

There are also good people, in Western terms, among the Muslims. But they are, unfortunately, a very small minority. They really wish to reform and democratize Islam, and to take away all Islamic signs of hatred and incitement to the other. However, the belief that Islam can be reformed from within is something impossible. The Qur’an is the heavenly book given by Allah. One cannot change the words of Allah, as it means blasphemy and it leads to punishment by death. There are verses in the Qur’an and Ahadīth that clearly state, he who changes even one word of the Qur’an must be killed. It is even forbidden to wonder or ask questions about it, let alone to criticize it. Islam is not adaptable with the times and cannot adapt itself to modernization. The gates of innovations (Ijtihād) have been closed since the 12th century. The mountain of Islam has not changed as what is written in the Qur’an cannot be changed.

In a revealing, perhaps surprising, analysis, the Jerusalem Post editorial, took a bold step by criticizing the media in the US:

The irony, of course, is that our postmodern media analysts, while preaching the gospel of cultural relativism, are themselves entirely blind to the moral values, cultural underpinnings and ethical standards of those who adhere to different sets of guiding principles. Rather, their search for answers are steeped in their own narrow mindsets, nurtured at the universities they attended and reinforced in the scholarly journals they read and in the social circles they embrace. The attempt by the media elites to paint a portrait of these men as alienated, disaffected youths is symptomatic of such a mindset. Their faux sophistication is belied by the narrow Western lens with which they view the motivations of these Islamists living in the West.

In essence, they are guilty of the analytic omission which they accuse others of: an honest attempt to understand events beyond the context of their own cultural biases and narrow frames of reference. If they did, they might find the anger and alienation of these young jihadists have nothing whatsoever to do with the familiar narrative of youthful rebelliousness depicted in iconic American cinematic and literary touchstones such as Rebel without a Cause or The Catcher in the Rye. Hence, the multiculturalist thinkers, plagued by Western guilt, seek conflict resolution through understanding and compromise. For the jihadist (lone wolf or otherwise) those are alien notions. They have already determined that there is no place in the worldwide caliphate to come for those who do not submit to the laws of Allah – Western commentators included.

2) No more ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘moral relativism.’ These are in fact names without any common sense, odd and alien notions without a logical definition, inventions that aim at destroying our existence as a free society. These also intend to confuse and to mislead, in fact leading to chaos and disruption.

‘Multiculturalism’ as opposed to ‘multi-ethnicity,’ dictates that groups of people with different cultures will live in one society and retain their culture, rather than trying to assimilate into the culture of the host nation. The all but inevitable consequence of this approach is that the law of the land will need to be altered so as to accommodate the culture of the new migrants. This could bring about a whole new set of laws that lead to the demise of the original culture. Multiculturalism was the myth, the keystone to the whole tyrannical mythology of political correctness.

Multiculturalists immediately attack anyone who seems to challenge their new religion called ‘multiculturalism,’ and brand him a racist and fascist. Studies and analyses which show any negative side to multiculturalism are silenced and consequently any dissent and criticism are paralyzed. We live no longer as a free society in our own political systems. The intimidating situation was that academia embraced this notion of multiculturalism in its entirety, while the media followed it with enthusiasm and the governments go along with it in intimidation. So, instead of an idea being debated whether it had any merit, the peoples were forced to accept this dubious lethal idea without being allowed to question it, even to understand its meaning and consequences.

Western universities are founded on the principle that each and every idea is up for critical thinking, according to the tradition of academic freedom. However, now the forces of evil coerce their societies to embrace destructive ideas without questioning, and if one resists, he is labeled by academia, with the assistance of the media, with a whole set of accusations based on racial prejudice. Yet, the truth is clear: This notion has never been part of the Western values of freedom of speech, expression and conscience and it contradicts the basic civil rights ideas. In fact it is clear that fundamental Western deep-rooted values are in a fast process of disappearing exactly as a result of this horrific notion called ‘multiculturalism.’

So currently, across the Western World, ideas are introduced which nobody is allowed to question; ideas that become the basis of new laws which nobody is allowed to criticize; laws that lead to disastrous consequences, and still nobody is allowed to question and to criticize. We live in an era in which our precious freedoms are in danger and no wonder that Western societies are degenerating.

Sweden, once known as one of the most peaceful and law abiding countries in the world, is now the rape capital of Europe, a state of havoc and disarray. It has become a symbol and framework to be a first third world country in Europe in the course of the next decade.

Formerly peaceful and homogenous France now has over seven hundred no-go zones for non-Muslims where the government has no control and no ability to enforce French law. Terror acts by Muslims are common and become a routine.

The UK has embraced legal provisions for Muslims who now have Sharī’ah courts all over the country, while many neighborhoods in London, Birmingham and several other English cities, have areas which are being declared no-go zones.

The situation in Germany is no less bad. Germany is now home to the largest number of immigrants in the EU, and also has the second-largest Muslim population. It continues to be the recipient of the largest number of asylum applications in the EU: more than 200,000 asylum-seekers in 2014, and more than a million at the end of 2015.

A report, produced by the police headquarters of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the largest Muslim population, warns that the government is losing control over problem neighborhoods and that the ability of police to maintain public order cannot be guaranteed. There are districts where immigrant gangs are taking over the entire social setting, where native residents and business people are being intimidated and silenced. According to a Duisburg City Councilman, “When I say that steps must be taken to ensure immigrants comply with rules and regulations, I am immediately branded as a far right extremist… But spiraling levels of violent crime perpetrated by immigrants cause areas of lawlessness, areas that are becoming de facto ‘no-go’ zones for police.”

Leaders of the major powers have expressed misgivings over multiculturalism. It has “failed, utterly failed,” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This attitude has been the opinion of a former French president and of prime ministers of Spain and Australia. The most forceful denunciation of multiculturalism came from British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who also calls it a “failure.” However, nothing is done about it. It has not been a “failure,” but a lethal disaster to the Western way of life.

Unfortunately, even before Muslims have changed Europe, the Europeans themselves did so, as leading European states have trashed their national identities and labelled their national awareness as worthless. Since European nations are reluctant to stand for what nations traditionally stand for, religious and/or ethnic identity, it is no wonder that they are undergoing a deep identity crisis and are subdued by the Muslims’ desert reality.

Western liberal democratic civilization is falling apart and dismantles, not because of conquest from outside it, but because its leaders and cultural elites in the media and the academia have turned everything upside down, on their own free will. Right is wrong; good is bad; the ideology of evil is forgiven and understandable; and the forces of primitivism and savagery deserve a higher place in Western societies’ considerations. Cultural and moral relativism, political correctness and moral equivalency are the on the top, and it is even forbidden to call a spade, a spade, and all must stick to the New Emperor’s cloths.

These are the most dangerous time in the walks of our civilization. We have fought and won over tyrants, and dictators, and evil regimes. We have managed to do so as we could strictly and correctly define the situation, to separate between right and wrong, and to fight evil. Today everything has been turned over to the opposite. The horrendous forces of evil of Islam win, not because they are strong, or because they are correct, or because they have a new massage, a new development and innovations to humanity, but because Western civilization has a death wish. Western civilization has determined to commit suicide. The great prophet of our mired situation, George Orwell, is rolling in his grave. Indeed, he was strictly right: in our twisted atrocious new situation, peace is war; love is hatred; and truth is lie.

According to Pascal Bruckner, the West has no shortage of reasons for guilt. The West has no monopoly on evil, and though it has created monsters it also destroyed them: the abolition of slavery; the renouncing of colonialism; the building of peaceful and prosperous technological societies; and the establishing of law and order, of roles and institutions that are models for mankind. However, Western guilt has gone too far. It has become a pathology, an obsessive that has obscured Western understanding and distorted its behavior, even its balanced logic.

Today, there remain a few last bastions that keep Western civilization alive, because Europe has been attacking its own values and has raised generations of self-hating elites, and unfortunately the US academia and the media have aped their European models. It is time to find our own Judeo-Christian roots again, and to assert our values with pride and affection and without being afraid to speak out. The fact is that multiculturalism has become a clear code of submission to Islam, because it clearly leads to a new Dark Age, imposed by a medieval fascism of self-haters enabled by the collaboration of the leftists and the fanatical doctrine of Islam.

There is a disturbing situation. An alliance between Islam and Western left seems odd and grotesque. On the surface, Muslims with their single-minded dedication to the destruction of Western civilization, imposing worldwide Islamic rule according to the prescriptions of the Shari’ah, they are vehemently opposed to the left’s touted beliefs in the socialist utopia. However, a closer look makes understandable driving these strange bedfellows into each other’s arms. For the left there is just one overpowering consideration. After the collapse of communism, radical Islam appears to be the only power capable of defeating capitalism and the hated United States as the last obstacle on the road to Bolshevik ideas. One analogy stands clear: the Nazi ideology hatred to the Jews and its admiration of Islam.

For the Islamists, on the other hand, the rationale is fully congruent with their worldwide objectives. The leftists, though infidels who deserve death, are valuable as useful idiots to be exploited on the road of destruction of the Free World. The 1991 project of the US Muslim brotherhood indicates a “temporary cooperation” with movements opposed to colonialism and the Jewish state and working with “various influential institutions and using them in the service of Islam.” As both share “anti-American and anti-imperialist ideology,” this alliance ceases to be strange.

The result: the putative romance of the Left with Islam have become an affectionate embrace. An example to the “anti-imperialist coalition” is ANSWER. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). Founded, not coincidentally, three days after 9/11 It was designed to serve the Islamic objective of preventing U.S. retaliation against Muslims. ANSWER called for a “partnership with the Arab-American and Muslim community,” and to oppose any American policy or legislation that could ban the activities of Islamic organizations. The case of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has become an unabashed defender and apologist for Islamic groups, mainly CAIR in instructive, and in fact its legal arm. Since then, the left-Islamic nexus has moved into the US establishment, the White House and all American branches.

It is again Daniel Greenfield to so aptly remarks: Islam is tribal. Tribes are nomadic and they raid each other. They mount coup on each other. They steal and humiliate each other’s women. They lash out and kill each other over insults. Islam incorporates the religious feelings and the tribal behavior. Terrorism also incorporates both the tribal and the religious. Islam sanctified the tribal raid as a religious act and turned the dead into martyrs. Islamic missionary activity in the West also targets dissatisfied minorities, potential fifth columns.

To the leftists, Islam is an inefficient sort of Socialism dependent on medieval superstition and lacking modern idea. To the Muslims, the left is an inefficient sort of Islam that’s missing the Shari’ah. It is all just a problem of explanations and textbooks.

In their confused world order, leftists believe that the terrorists are attacking “our values” and we in turn must attack “their values” with our superior “values.” While the left attempts to integrate the Muslims with “our values”, the Muslim immigrants show that Europeans have no honor on a tribal level.

However, no meaningful dialogue is possible between the Islamic “Allahu Akbar” and “Our values” Western religion. Both insist on absolute submission. The left’s demand for submission is based on the absolute moral superiority of “Our values,” while Islam’s demand literally means submission to its religion. To the Muslim mind, we are a series of fragile tribal associations. The “Our values” leftists think of the threat in terms of “radicalization”, but the real threat is “integration.” Indeed, if multicultural Westerners continue to ignore, deny, embrace, appease and nurture the truths of Islam’s objectives, they do so at their own existential peril.

The left’s multicultural vision made this mess possible. It’s also making it worse. The left despises tribal thinking and yet its entire political infrastructure is built on rewarding it. Our enemies are not states and they will not fight us as states but as tribes. To the extent that they are religious, they will attack us that way. But the real problem is that we are no longer states and we do not think and act like states. We are in the grip of a mystical deluded cult of multiculturalists that opened the gates to a cruel, backward enemy. And in doing so, they have brought a tribal war into our own homelands.

Multiculturalism is so disastrous that it is shown in the mass-rape plague in Europe. Dennis Prager draws our attention to the horrific fact: between protecting over the European girls from repeated gang rape and protecting Muslims from being identified as the rapists, British authorities chose to protect multiculturalism and “diversity.” That is, in the competition between multiculturalism and one of the most elementary obligations of civilization, the protection of women from sexual violence, civilization lost. The U.K. is not alone in taking precedence of the fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic over protecting women. This is also the situation in Germany and Scandinavian states.

Altogether, this is cultural Marxism disguised as multiculturalism. Western political leaders have sold out to the Marxist idea of multiculturalism and the result has been an emboldening the entire world to submit to the Shari’ah. In Europe, this sickening display now culminating in destruction of much of its cultural identity. Multiculturalism would be good if all sides were equally respected and mutually enriched. But, multiculturalism is one-sided, just a fake word that provides cover for its true meaning: the occupation of Islam. Multiculturalism has become code-name for submission to Islam.

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The sunset of the West and Islam: From US bombs to the return of the Taliban

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With regard to the issue of Islamic proselytism in Europe, where some countries (Belgium, Great Britain, France, etc.) have large minorities of Muslim believers – who, according to many, should be Americanized with sheriff’s hats, miniskirts and reducing the faith to smartphone apps – some clarifications must be made regarding the ignorance that leads newspapers, television and social networks to absolutely not understand what Islam is, i.e. a religion that does not look at races, but aims at the universalism of the God of Abraham.

The Muslim law is a legal science of ancient tradition based on the Holy Koran. Islam is a religious, political and legal system of a reality that is a whole: dogmatic, moral, ritual, pertaining to private and public law (according to our Roman law categories).

A whole – as said above – stemming from the same sacred sources and bearing the overall name of šarī’a (following the straight path revealed by God), which, being based on the Old and New Testament (prophets of Islam: Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mary, Muhammad), can be “translated” correctly into religious law of divine origin.

This is of absolute importance and it must be kept in mind – as a peculiarity of Islam – that this religion regulates – with very detailed positive precepts – every manifestation of the life of believers, even in those areas that might appear to be the farthest from the field of religion, according to the parameters of secularism.

The science of law (‘ilm al-fiqh) according to the Muslim jurists (fuqahā’, sing. faqīh) has a first bipartition in the sources of law (usul al-fiqh, sing. asl al-fiqh): the Koran, the Sunnah (ahadīt, sing. hadīt: sayings of the Prophet), the ijmā’ or consensus of the community (ummah) and the qiyās or deductive analogy.

The šarī’a, in turn, is divided into ‘ibādat and mu’āmalat. The former includes the five pillars of faith: acceptance of God, daily prayer, legal almsgiving, fasting and abstinence until sunset in the month of Ramadān (9th), pilgrimage to Mecca and its surroundings in the month of Dû l-Hijja (12th). The second covers all other aspects of the social, economic and political life of the community, and can be adapted to the varying needs of times and places, provided the results do not deviate from the word and spirit of the šarī’a itself.

Prof. Giorgio Vercellin (1950-2007) recalled that Westerners have always pretended not to see this fact, for contingent interests, first of colonial expansion – in trying to impose their own laws and exploit territories – and then of attempted internal assimilation (cancellation of national and fideistic individuality), and

«in essence, therefore, the Muslim world, and particularly the Islamic Near East (and in the manuals there is no trace of the presence of numerous and active Christian and Jewish communities in those territories over the centuries) is described as having an autonomous history worthy of attention only in the remote past. It is not by chance that the pages on Muhammad and his immediate successors follow the much more copious pages describing the Persians – i.e. the Achaemenids – the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Phoenicians, etc. In other words, Islam and the Muslim world are presented on the same “archaeological” level (and therefore devoid of evolution until today) as the ancient Greeks and Romans. […] The real crux is that the Society of Italian Historians has considered the “Muslim world”, so to speak, automatically as part of the “ancient world».

Instead, it is contemporary and present. Muslims are men and women of faith, and for them religion is also pure lawfulness. Islam is not just a confession, but a culture, a multicontinental and cross-sectoral civilisation, a way of life in which the relationship with the divinity is spiritual and temporal at the same time.

The history of Western thought, from the age of Enlightenment to the present day, is marked by the conflict between faith and science: there is a constant loss of ground of the areas of influence of religion in favour of the side hegemonised by technology.

By this we mean secularisation, rationalisation, relativism, etc. The most striking manifestation of all this is the recognition of the right to ‘believe’ but also to ‘not believe’. Tout court, it is the right to atheism, which Muslim jurisprudence – which, as seen above, is identified with faith – does not admit and which the West tries to impose with the violence of American weapons and with the soppy and cloying European do-goodism and political correctness. Whatever some well-meaning sociologists may say, Islam does not distinguish between religion and politics, between confession and law.

The trend that is being strengthened in the Islamic world consists in a reaffirmation of both regulations and general Shariah principles, which have been established either through legislation or as a practice in Muslim and Islamic countries, i.e. the places from where migrants come.

In the Islamic tradition, the principle that Islam as such must be both religion and State (dīn wa-dawla wa duniyā), and that the term secularism (‘ilmaniyya) is synonymous with atheism, materialism, permissiveness, moral decadence, etc., is fundamental, especially in the countries allied with the West (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, etc.), and in those which are not allied with it. In each of them the institutional presence of other faiths is rarely allowed – and this from a purely legal viewpoint.

The illusion with which weak-minded or mean-minded people (to say the least) and others pursue the so-called multiculturalism has no basis in the experience and beliefs of the other party. Therefore, imagining a Muslim who adheres to the canons and principles of the liberal system – which is atheist insofar as it turns faith from a value into a subjective choice or into an “evangelical” sociological solution and welfarism for the desperate or destitute people – is a deadly naivety: a historical suicide on the part of a society that no longer has anything to offer and on the part of a production system that is leading the planet to destruction.

Any person, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, who puts forward his or her own viewpoint – either in writing or in a speech, which subsumes his or her thinking – clearly believes it to be right and true, and does not accept – on principle – a contrary or different opinion.

It is practically the parallel of a Westerner who, for various reasons, moves to a Muslim country and ex abrupto denies his way of thinking and living. Sometimes you do not understand whether this candid hope is the result of the Westerner’s ignorance or, worse, the absolute malice of a few, since cheap and profitable workforce and caregivers are much more needed than ethics, respect and safety and security of our citizens.

This shows that it is not the West that tolerates the Muslim presence in Europe, but the opposite. In a society such as ours – in full social and environmental deterioration (see the Laudato si’ by Pope Francis), which has denied the sacred and has mixed genders; which is based on consumerism, servitude to money, exasperation of profit, the race for the useless, the triumph of technologicism, the race for pleasure, hedonism, the reduction of the ruling class and of politicians to zero; which has relegated women to the role of sexual icons and has reduced the sense of heroism to fiction; a society in which liberal-free market thinking generates embarrassing choices – the believers, including Catholics, Christians in toto, Jews and Muslims here, are instead tolerating the system that hosts them.

This is proved by the fact that the criminal horrors and atrocities we witnessed on November 13, 2015 were carried out by an infinitesimal percentage of Muslims present on our continent – on top of it, European citizens and not emigrants, i.e. legal children of those States where they committed crimes. It is not for me to explain why they have done so. In a millennium and a half, what has been happening for the last sixteen years, since the “humanitarian” bombs began to devastate the Afghanistan of the Taliban in the past and of the Taliban today, has never happened.

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Muslim-Evangelical alliance strives to create religious and political middle ground

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A recent unprecedented alliance between Muslims and Evangelicals takes on added significance in a world in which human rights are on the defensive, religious groups tend to forge political as well as ideational partnerships, and the role of the clergy in multiple Muslim-majority countries has come under scrutiny.

The alliance potentially could create a platform for voices in the Muslim world, particularly the Middle East, in which significant segments of the youth who constitute a majority of the population, increasingly reject state-controlled, ritualistic forms of religion and distrust clerics subservient to the government.

It could also offer a middle ground on which elements of the secular centre-right and centre-left could meet based on shared faith-based values in deeply polarised parts of the world, particularly in the West.

International affairs and inter-faith scholar Michael Driessen suggested in an email to this writer that the recently forged alliance between Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), one, if not the world’s largest Muslim civil society organization, and the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), fits a pattern of partnerships between diverse religious groups that goes beyond seeking to protect minorities to promotion of social cohesion and fraternity.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Interfaith Forum of the Group of 20 or G20 that brings together the world’s largest economies, Tunisian Islam scholar Nejia Al-Ourimi seemed to anticipate the alliance when she argued that reform of Islam would have to be bottom-up and originate in civil society rather than top-down and directed and controlled by autocratic rulers who see it as a way of branding themselves and their nations as well as and one way of ensuring survival.

Ms. Al-Ourimi reasoned further that genuine inclusivity was precluded in much of the Middle East because most Arab constitutions assume that the state has a religion. She went on to say that “what we need to do is reframe the traditional approaches of linking religion to legislation. We must find leaders who are willing to withdraw from the traditional way of participating in the public sphere—through the legal and legislative dimensions—and return from a ‘values’ perspective to guide ethical efforts.”

In a contribution to a recently published report on Human Fraternity and Inclusive Citizenship issued by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and the Beirut-based Foundation for Diversity, Solidarity and Human Dignity (Adyan), Ms. Al-Oumiri points to a series of lofty, lovey-dovey inter-faith statements issued in the past decade by different combinations of Arab Muslim and non-Muslim clerics, religious and secular intellectuals, and politicians.

The statements constituted attempts by Muslim religious authorities and autocratic governments to keep ahead of the curb of youth aspirations and project themselves as voices of moderation by emphasizing religious freedom, religious pluralism, and inclusive citizenship irrespective of religious belief.

The statements include the 2012 Statement on Basic Freedoms issued by Al Azhar, Islam’s Cairo-based oldest institution of Islamic learning that has long been swayed by Saudi and United Arab Emirates financial support, the 2016 Marrakech Declaration that called for the development of a jurisprudence of that enshrines the concept of inclusive citizenship, and the Document on Human Fraternity signed in the UAE in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar.

Referring to the 2012 Al Azhar statement, Ms. Al-Oumiri highlighted the fact that the statement was issued in the wake of popular revolts that in 2011 toppled the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Saudi and UAE manoeuvres helped roll back the revolts’ achievements in all of the countries except for Tunisia.

The manoeuvres did not roll back what Ms. Al-Oumiri described as a “new awareness” among “all the components that participated in the protest movement, secularists, liberals, Christians, Muslims and others, (that) became aware of the fact that the bilateral polarization and exclusionary relations prevailing at that time were the main reason for the dispersion of forces capable of inducing positive change and extricating Arab society from its chronic crisis.” It is an awareness that expresses itself today among others in changing youth attitudes towards religiosity.

Ms. Al-Oumiri’s ‘new awareness’ is one factor that hampers autocratic efforts to shape a moderate form of Islam that serves the needs of social change and economic diversification without conceding democratic freedoms, projects autocrats as religious moderates as part of their nation branding and furthers their quest for religious soft power.

The ‘new awareness’ is borne out by research and opinion polls that consistently show that the gap between the religious aspirations of youth and state-imposed interpretations of Islam is widening. The polls and research suggest that youth are increasingly sceptical towards religious and worldly authority. They aspire to more individual, more spiritual experiences of religion.

As a result, Nahdlatul Ulama’s opportunity to turn its alliance with the WEA into a vehicle of change in both the Muslim world and the West is enhanced by the fact that religious reform in rival contenders for religious soft power like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, and Egypt is top-down by decree or changes in common or civil rather than, more sustainably, bottom-up and anchored in religious law and jurisprudence.

The point was highlighted when Nahdlatul Ulama’s religious leaders took the first step towards reform of religious law and/or jurisprudence in 2019 by replacing the notion of the kafir or infidel with the concept of muwathinun or citizens to emphasize that Muslims and non-Muslims were equal before the law.

Leaders of the group say that they intend to tackle other outdated, intolerant, or supremacist concepts such as the dhimmi or People of the Book, and slavey that remain reference points even if large numbers of Muslims do not heed them in their daily life, as well as eventually blasphemy and apostasy.

Nahdlatul Ulama’s opportunity is further both bolstered and complicated by the fact that autocratic Muslim rulers wittingly or unwittingly reinforce Islamophobic tendencies in multiple ways by their often brutal abuse of human rights at home and their support of policies in various parts of the globe that encourage negative perceptions of Islam and Muslims.

These policies include the blurring in countries like France and Austria of the lines between political Islam and piety as well as autocratic Muslim acquiescence, if not endorsement of the crackdown on Turkic Muslims and Islam in China’s north-western province of Xinjiang.

Nahdlatul Ulama, despite its tangible adherence to principles of democracy, human rights, and tolerance, has yet to clearly distinguish itself from autocratic religious soft power rivals when it comes to its shared rejection of political Islam and identity politics. In other words, how it handles Islamophobia is likely to be a litmus test for Nahdlatul Ulama as well as its alliance with the Evangelicals.

Making that distinction clear is likely to also enhance the Nahdlatul Ulama-WEA alliance’s ability to bring together elements of the centre-right and centre-left could meet based on shared faith-based advocacy of human rights, democratic freedoms, and tolerance at a time that democracy is on the defence.

The linkage between the Nahdlatul Ulama-WEA alliance’s opportunity to serve as a bridge in both the religious and political domain is evident not only when it comes to countering religious supremacism but also far-right extremism. It is that linkage that adds a geopolitical dimension to the alliance’s potential.

Germany, where ultra-nationalist supremacists, despite recent electoral setbacks for the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have infiltrated the security and armed forces, spotlights the importance of creating a religious and political centre that is driven as much by shared values as it is by interests.

Security services recorded more than 1,400 cases of suspected far-right extremism among soldiers, police officers and intelligence agents in recent years. The German defence ministry last year disbanded a whole company of special forces after explosives, a machine gun, and memorabilia of the Nazi’s SS were found on the property of a sergeant major.

The geopolitical significance of developments in Germany is enhanced by the fact that some German ultra-nationalists and members of the far-right are believed to have links to Russia and /or far-right Russian nationalists.

In the latest German incident, prosecutors are investigating an official of Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), the country’s domestic intelligence agency, suspected of helping plan the assassination of a Chechen dissident as part of a campaign across Europe that targets critics of Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the Russian republic of Chechnya. Mr. Kadyrov is widely viewed as an associate of President Vladimir Putin and maintains close ties to Middle Eastern autocrats.

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Defining moderate Islam: Muslims and Evangelicals forge an alliance

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A major Muslim and Evangelical organization joined forces this week to significantly advance hitherto state-backed ceremonial inter-faith dialogues that seldom go beyond platitudes and lofty statements.

This week’s launch at a Washington DC mosque of an inter-faith alliance and a book published by the Institute for Humanitarian Islam and the Germany-based World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) as well as the Center for Shared Civilizational Values constitutes an Evangelical endorsement of Humanitarian Islam.

It also amounts to a rare Muslim celebration of an Evangelical authority, WEA secretary general Archbishop Thomas Schirrmacher, who played a key role in building a relationship between the Evangelical group and Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, one, if not the world’s largest Muslim movement.

“Dr. Schirrmacher’s decision to engage with the Humanitarian Islam movement may prove to be singularly consequential, and perhaps even historic, in its ramifications for the relationship between Christians and Muslims,” the editors of the book, Thomas K. Johnson and C. Holland Taylor said in their introduction.

Entitled ‘God Needs No Defense: Reimagining Muslim – Christian Relations in the 21st Century,’ the book is an anthology of essays written by preeminent Muslim and Christian scholars.

Based in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, the Institute for Humanitarian Islam was established by Nahdlatul Ulama to advance globally its humanitarian interpretation of the faith.

Nahdlatul Ulama sees the concept as an alternative to state-backed less developed and less tolerant and pluralistic notions of a moderate Islam as propagated by countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as well expressions of political Islam represented by Turkey, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nahdlatul Ulama was founded almost a century ago in opposition to Wahhabism, the austere interpretation of Islam propagated for decades by Saudi Arabia until the rise in 2015 of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Indonesian group positions Humanitarian Islam as advocating genuine religious reform rather than self-serving social and rhetorical change advocated by rulers eager to implement long-overdue economic and social reform and project themselves as genuine religious moderates in a global battle for Muslim religious soft power and the soul of Islam.

The differences between Nahdlatul Ulama’s Humanitarian Islam and the interpretations of the faith put forward by its conservative monarchical and republican Islamist soft power rivals are stark and raise fundamental questions about what constitutes genuine reform and how it can sustainably be achieved.

The differences pitch an independent civil society group, albeit one with close ties to the state, against states themselves.

Nahdlatul Ulama’s independence has allowed it to start a process of real change rooted in religious law and jurisprudence rather than a ruler’s decree or opinion issued by subservient clergymen.

The group challenges outdated, intolerant, or supremacist concepts such as the kafir or infidel, the dhimmi or People of the Book, and slavey that remain reference points even if large numbers of Muslims do not heed them in their daily life, as well as eventually blasphemy and apostasy.

The group’s religious leaders took the first step in 2019 by replacing the term kafir with the word muwathinun or citizen to emphasize that Muslims and non-Muslims were equal before the law. “The word ‘kafir’ hurts some non-Muslims and is perceived to be theologically violent,” Nahdlatul Ulama cleric Abdul Moqsith Ghazali said at the time.

Independence also enabled Nahdlatul Ulama to embrace the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, parts of which are exempted by its religious soft power rivals. That is not to say that liberals may not take issue with some of the interpretations of the declaration by Nahdlatul Ulama, a socially conservative movement.

The differences raise questions about Nahdlatul Ulama’s ability to succeed beyond the significant inroads that the group has made among political and religious elites in the United States, Europe, the Vatican, and parts of Africa and Asia.

The launch in Washington of the unprecedented alliance and the book is together with Nahdlatul Ulama’s association with the Centrist Democrat International (CDI), the world’s largest grouping of political parties, the most publicly visible evidence of its success among elites.

The alliance puts flesh on the skeleton of recent inter-faith dialogue by bringing together two of Islam and Christianity‘s major groups. Nahdlatul Ulama has tens of millions of followers while the World Evangelical Alliance says it represents 600 million Protestants and national evangelical alliances in 140 countries. The alliance with Nahdlatul Ulama casts a different light on Evangelicals as opposed to Evangelists, who particularly, in the United States have often come to be identified with Christian nationalism and Islamophobia.

The alliance aims “to prevent the political weaponization of identity; curtail the spread of communal hatred; promote solidarity and respect among the diverse people, cultures and nations of the world; and foster the emergence of a truly just and harmonious world order founded upon respect for the equal rights and dignity of every human being,” the Institute for Humanitarian Islam and the  Nation’s Mosque in Washington, said in a press release.

With the creation of the Center for Shared Civilizational Values, the alliance also constitutes an effort to create a platform for a dialogue that moves beyond elites to nurture a grassroots movement in favour of religious reform across major religions that emphasizes inclusivity, pluralism, tolerance, and common values rather than exclusivism and supremacy fueled by identity politics. (In the spirit of transparency, this writer has been invited to be a member of the centre’s advisory board).

In doing so, the Center hopes to build on Nahdlatul Ulama’s substantial popular base in Indonesia, the WEA’s reach across the globe and a range of contacts and interactions with Catholic, Jewish, and Hindu groups and personalities.

The choice of Masjid Mohamed, the Nation’s Mosque, as the venue of the launch, suggests an outside-in strategy in trying to garner grassroots support in the Muslim world. Located in Washington’s historic African-American Shaw district, Masjid Muhammad is the first mosque in the United States built by descendants of slaves.

As such, the launch constitutes an outreach to a minority Muslim community in a Western democracy that despite upheaval in the United States as the country struggles to come to grips with its history of racism is likely to be more accessible and perhaps more open to Humanitarian Islam’s message than significant segments of the population in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan or the Middle East where many see what has long become a global faith through the lens of its Arab origins.

The alliance takes on added significance in a Western world that despite the electoral defeat of former US President Donald J. Trump and setbacks in Europe suffered by populists and ultra-nationalists has in recent years increasingly mainstreamed prejudice, bias, and authoritarianism.

“Rather than the world becoming more like the United States, as so many of us expected after the Cold War, the United States has become more like the rest of the world—in particular, its authoritarians,” noted foreign policy analyst Steven A. Cook, debunking the projection of the US as a beacon of liberty and freedom.

In a twist of irony, Nahdlatul Ulama’s book publication coincided with a more narrowly focused and transactional Saudi-backed launch in Lebanon of a book, ‘The relationship between the Maronite patriarchate and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.’ Written by Maronite Father Antoine Daw, Saudi support for the book and outreach to the Maronites was part of the kingdom’s effort to counter Iran’s regional influence and engage the Islamic republic in direct and indirect issue-oriented dialogues.

The launch in Bkirki, the Maronite patriarchate’s episcopal see, followed a call by Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi, Lebanon’s most senior Christian cleric, for a meeting with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia that is Iran’s closest ally in the Arab world.

The patriarch urged Hezbollah, one of Lebanon’s most powerful groups that played a key role in Iranian support for the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad to move towards a position of neutrality in a bid to salvage Lebanon that is teetering on the brink of economic and political collapse.

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