While there exists today many Middle East studies departments, one would be sorely pressed (especially in the more “prestigious” universities) to find any courses dealing with the most pivotal and relevant topics of today — such as Islamic jurisprudence and what it says about jihad or the concept of the Abode of Islam versus the Abode of War. These topics, we are assured, have troubling international implications and are best buried. Instead, the would-be student is inundated with courses dealing with the evils of “Orientalism” and colonialism, gender studies, and civil society.
The greater irony — when one talks about Islam and the West, ironies often abound — is that, on the very same day of the ASMEA conference, which also contained a forthright address by premiere Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis (“It seems to me a dangerous situation in which any kind of scholarly discussion of Islam is, to say the least, dangerous”), the State Department announced that it would not call al-Qaeda type radicals “jihadis,” “mujahadin,” nor incorporate any other Arabic word of Islamic connotation (“caliphate,” “Islamo-fascism,” “Salafi,” “Wahhabi,” and “Ummah” are also out).
Alas, far from taking the most basic and simple advice regarding warfare — Sun Tzu’s ancient dictum, “Know thy enemy” — the U.S. government is having difficulties even acknowledging its enemy.
– Raymond Ibrahim is editor of The Al Qaeda Reader.