Readers have heard of Islamic fundamentalism, radicalism, extremism and terrorism, but I would like to introduce an expression that I hope they memorize, since they will hear it much in the future. It's Islamic fascism, or Islamofascism, one of the favorite expressions of neoconservative writers these days.Besides the fact that the writer engages in the same namecalling that he decries from others (referring to "Likudniks", "American imperialists", "neoconservatives" and other choice epithets of the Left and the Arab world), he is missing the point in his zeal to find anti-Muslim sentiment everywhere in the US.
Before the issue of the cartoons exploded, the Likudist Washington Times had published a series warning of the threat of an Islamic state in Europe, focusing on Bosnia, as the corridor of al-Qaida to Europe. Bosnian Muslim fighters have joined "Islamofascist terrorists in their barbaric campaign against American forces."
There have been 100,000 Iraqis killed compared to 2,400 American soldiers, so who's the barbarian here? The articles argue that NATO bombed the Serbs "a day after an auto-massacre committed by Bosnian Muslim forces in the central market of Sarajevo," because Saudi Arabia has signed contracts for billions of dollars to purchase Boeing aircraft." I swear that I'm quoting this correctly. The articles quote the following from an older article in the same newspaper: "La France est morte [France is dead]. In fact, the only things that are growing in France right now are crime and Islamism." This is 3 years before the riots in the suburbs of French cities.
The Weekly Standard, the neoconservative mouthpiece, published an article entitled "Fascism, Islamism and Anti-Semitism," objecting to doubting the Holocaust and discussing the rise of Islamo-fascism in Iran, and the "Dictator in Tehran" - meaning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - who was elected in very democratic fashion and who enjoys continuing, huge popularity.
Returning to the topic I began with in this column, the harsh anger against the cartoons, I selected the easiest aspects of the campaign against Islam and Muslims. The danger is from the extremists in the ranks of the neoconservatives, who have waged a conscious campaign with a single goal of serving Israel at the expense of everything else.
The term "Islamofascism" may not be 100% accurate, as fascism has some components that Islamism does not. But it is a pretty good description of today's political Islam. As Wikipedia explains:
Fascism is typified by totalitarian attempts to impose state control over all aspects of life: political, social, cultural, and economic. The fascist state regulates and controls (as opposed to nationalizing) the means of production. Fascism exalts the nation, state, or race as superior to the individuals, institutions, or groups composing it. Fascism uses explicit populist rhetoric; calls for a heroic mass effort to restore past greatness; and demands loyalty to a single leader, often to the point of a cult of personality.This sounds like a pretty decent description of much of political Islam today.
In almost all cases, when writers on the Right refer to Islamofascism they are referring not to the religion of Islam in the Western sense, but to its political manifestation. And political Islam can accurately be described as evil. Political Islam has as its goal the literal takeover of the world and subjugating everyone to Islamic law.
Other religions either have very little political dimension, or their political dimensions have been blunted over time. Christianity has a message to all of mankind as well but it has morphed to fit in with Western concepts of general separation of church and state. I am unaware of any historic theocracies based on Buddhism or Taoism.
Western thinkers naturally separate religion from politics, because such a separation is part of their worldview from birth. A great percentage of Western criticism of Islam is political, not religious (with the notable exception of women's rights.) But Islamic thinkers have no such separation.
The fuzziness between religious Islam and political Islam is caused not by bigoted Westerners but by the Islamists and Muslims themselves. Very few Muslims that I have read accept the idea of Islam as purely a personal or communal religion; it is a global movement and it has a unquestionably political dimension.
Muslims like the Mr. El Khazen above purposefully blur the lines as well when it is convenient for them. They choose to be offended when political Islam is attacked, hiding behind the fiction that Islam is a religion in the Western sense. Practically all the attacks from the "neocons" are of Islamism, not religious Islam; very few have a problem with a billion practicing believers of Allah as long as they keep their religion away from geopolitics. But it is in Islamism's interest to keep that line blurred so they can claim that attacks on Islam are religious, not political.
If today's Islam cannot separate its faith components from its geopolitical ambitions, then it cannot ever fit in the 21st century together with the rest of the world. It will ultimately be regarded as the enemy not only of the West but of everyone.
The challenge for Muslims today is to clearly define who they are and what they believe with respect to the rest of the world.
I cannot say how accurate this is, but I found a list of four goals of the Koran from a British mosque website. The blurring between what the West would consider religion and politics is blatant:
O brothers and sisters!It is a stretch, but it may be possible to interpret the third goal as only applying to existing Muslim nations. It is difficult to interpret the fourth goal as anything but a declaration of war against all unbelievers who do not submit to Islamic superiority.
Come today to learn about the fundamental goals of the Qur’an! Come to call the Qur’an to teach us the goals that it was revealed for, and by which Allah was pleased to have it as the seal of books. Come and call the Qur’an to have its goals implemented in us, in our societies, in our reality and in our lives.
The foundational goals of the Qur’an are four:
The first is guidance to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, true steadfast guidance, complete guidance for the individual in his entire being, his feelings and senses, and in all aspects of his life. It is complete guidance for the ummah, for its individuals, its facilities, its fields, its life, its reality, its transactions....
The second goal is to create a balanced comprehensive Islamic personality (this is done by its commands and prohibitions, its manners and morals, its instruction and legislation)....
The third goal is the creation of an Islamic and Qur’anic society. The Qur’an builds an Islamic society and it builds it on the foundations of the way of the Qur’an and its principles and instructions, and when we proceed with the lights of the Qur’an, our society is revived with great and noble life, pure and happy, otherwise our society will be dead mulling over its grief and tragedies and it swallows its humiliation and cowardice in every moment....
The fourth goal is to lead the Islamic ummah in the battlefields against its enemies and opponents. The Qur’an takes the ummah by its hand and guides it and gives it the means of victory and informs it of the reasons of animosity that others have towards it. It shows them their goals and ambitions and their use of whatever they are able to destroy it. It shows their methods and conspiracies and their trickery. ...The Qur’an takes the ummah by its hand to show it the tool of victory and the provision of the path and strengthens its connection to its Lord and its Islam.
This is what the Qur’an did with then noble companions in their jihad with their enemies, this is what the Qur’an did with the Muslims when they devoted themselves to the Qur’an, and this is what the Qur’an will do with us if we consider it and adhere to it and follow its rulings. Therefore, Allah says:“Listen not to the unbelievers but strive against them with the utmost effort, with the Qur’an.” (Furqaan: 52)
This is a divine instruction for the messenger, peace be upon him, and for the Islamic ummah that comes after him, to make the noble Qur’an an instrument and a means by which to seek help in its jihad.
If these goals are accurate, if the eternal war against unbelievers is part and parcel of Islam, then the fight against Islam is indistinguishable from the fight against Nazism. The world of the non-believers and the Islamic 'ummah cannot co-exist, and Islam already declared war against the rest of the world centuries ago.
(An interesting corollary to the description above is that it seems to be in the interest of would-be leaders of Islam to stoke the fires of hate against the West, interpret Western actions as being anti-Islamic and provoke the war; because believing Muslims would have no choice but to fight their perceived enemies. The cartoon riots can be seen in this context.)
Unless Islam reforms and becomes a personal and communal belief system as opposed to a supremacist political ideology, the rest of the world had better wake up to the reality that the war has already started and that Islam has already defined its goals and its vision of the future. Being against political Islam is not bigotry; it is survival.