Islam and the State of the Union
Don’t expect the president to tell the truth about Islamic doctrine tonight.


Andrew C. McCarthy

‘The state of our union is . . . denial — at least when it comes to Islam.”

I’m not holding my breath waiting for President Obama, as denier-in-chief, to make that pronouncement when he addresses the nation this evening at one of Leviathan’s more notorious wastes of time, the State of the Union address. Indeed, Washington’s annual celebration of itself, high on pageantry and bereft of substance, is unlikely to dwell much on the “religion of peace,” notwithstanding its centrality — acknowledged or not — to much of U.S. policy. Such silence is fitting, as is its flip side: to brand as “Islamophobia” any deviation from the party line — a bipartisan party line if ever there was one. An adult discussion of Islam would bring down the house of cards on which our policy is based. Better to say nothing.

Thankfully, the Jeruslam Post’s Barry Rubin won’t play along. He disrupted our sweet dreams last week with a pronouncement from al-Azhar University. Al-Azhar is the centuries-old seat of Sunni scholarship in Egypt, a status that vests its sharia scholars with unparalleled doctrinal influence over the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims.

It is conventional wisdom among the West’s Islamophilic opinion elites — and thus prototypically among Obama administration officials — that jihad, the Islamic injunction to struggle in Allah’s cause, has been distorted by sharia-obsessed Islamophobes into a summons to destroy the West. Jihad, this wisdom holds, is just an internal exercise in self-betterment — kind of like greening the planet and brushing after every meal. Jihad becomes confrontational and even violent only in self-defense, when Muslims are truly under siege.

Au contraire, says al-Azhar’s Imad Mustafa. To be sure, he agrees that the doctrine of “defensive jihad” calls for war against non-Muslims who “attack” Muslims. But defense, for purposes of this doctrine, is in the eye of the beholder — or, more accurately, in the eye of the mufti who decides what sorts of provocations constitute an “attack.” Implicitly, that leaves room for lots of pretty offensive jihad if the mufti construes the concept of “attack” broadly enough. What is bracing about Mustafa’s new fatwa, however, is that he’s not leaving anything to chance. He’s making what is implicit unmistakably explicit.

Besides the defensive variety, Mustafa expressly endorses “offensive jihad” as the license to attack non-Muslims living in non-Islamic countries. It is the consensus of sharia scholars, he instructs, that offensive jihad is “permissible” in three different situations: (a) “to secure Islam’s border”; (b) “to extend God’s religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it”; and (c) “to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula.”

The unapologetic aggression affirmed here is breathtaking. Ever wonder why Muslims demand a right of return to Israel for Palestinians but impose the death penalty on Palestinians who sell land to Jews? Why Muslims demand the right to build a grand mosque and Islamic community center on the lower Manhattan site of radical Islam’s 9/11 atrocity but think nothing of barring non-Muslims from Mecca and Medina pursuant to their scriptures? It is because Islam — not radical Islam, political Islam, or Islamism, but Islam itself — is threaded with an intolerance that would be undeniable to anyone not in denial.

This is not something al-Qaeda dreamed up. Mainstream Islamic scholarship is reflected by Mustafa’s first and third claims: a right to brutalize non-Muslims in order to ensure that an Islamic territory remains Islamic, and a right to purge non-Islamic influences from the Arabian Peninsula. The latter, in fact, explains not only Saudi Arabia’s official policy of apartheid in Islam’s major cities but al-Azhar’s prior green-lighting of attacks on American troops in Iraq.


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