Politics & Policy

Newt Was Right

The presidency is incompatible with adherence to sharia.

Newt Gingrich’s ardent admiration for Franklin Delano Roosevelt owes more to the latter’s unflinching wartime leadership than his welfare-state policy prescriptions. This week, though, the former Speaker is also undoubtedly in accord with FDR’s aphorism, “I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.” To his great credit, Newt has made an enemy of CAIR.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, that is. The nation’s best known cheerleader for radical Islam — or, as Fox News compliantly puts it, “the largest Muslim civil liberties group in the United States” — has issued a blistering press release that labels Gingrich “one of the nation’s worst promoters of anti-Muslim bigotry.” The occasion for this outburst is the imminent Republican primary in South Carolina.

Asked at a campaign appearance whether he’d ever consider endorsing a Muslim for president, Gingrich sensibly answered that he would not rule it out — “it would depend on whether [the hypothetical Muslim candidate] would commit in public to give up sharia.” Naturally, the usual suspects are in full fury, with CAIR the loudest among them. They’ve trotted out the rote response, dutifully echoed by Fox, that sharia, Islam’s legal code, is simply a set of spiritual guidelines — one that, in CAIR’s portrayal, “teaches marital fidelity, generous charity, and a thirst for knowledge.”

Actually, it teaches polygamy, the underwriting of jihadist violence through ostensible charity, and the Islamization of knowledge. Don’t take my word for it. I refer you instead to a CAIR favorite, the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

CAIR and IIIT are both Muslim Brotherhood affiliates long active in our country. Founded in the early Eighties, IIIT is a Virginia-based think tank dedicated to what it calls the “Islamization of knowledge,” which is a “euphemism,” as the Hudson Institute’s Zeyno Baran puts it, “for the rewriting of history to support Islamist narratives” — such as the claim that Spain is actually the rightful property of Muslims, to be renamed “al-Andalus,” as it was known under jihadist conquest. CAIR, strategically based in Washington, was shrewdly designed to be an Islamist public-relations arm — the Brotherhood realizing that the American media and government were suckers for agitators who style themselves as “civil rights” advocates. This was back in the mid-Nineties, when new criminal laws against supporting terrorists complicated the Brotherhood’s overt championing of Hamas.

Both CAIR and IIIT were identified as Brotherhood satellites in the internal Brotherhood memoranda that proved critical in the Justice Department’s successful Holy Land Foundation prosecution — a case involving millions of dollars funneled to Hamas, and a case in which CAIR was cited as an unindicted co-conspirator.

CAIR and the IIIT are so inter-bred that CAIR’s advisory board has included Sayyid Syeed, a founder of, and director of “academic outreach” for, IIIT — in addition to being a founder of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA, another unindicted coconspirator in the HLF case) and a former president of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the first building block of the Brotherhood’s American infrastructure. And late last year, just weeks before blasting Gingrich, CAIR presented a lifetime achievement award to Iqbal Unus, a top IIIT official, who was also a prime mover in the development of MSA and ISNA.

CAIR’s reverence for the IIIT is relevant because the Islamization think-tank is prominent among the endorsers of Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law. In fact, IIIT’s endorsement report is included in Reliance, vouching that this English translation of Umdat al-Salik — an authoritative compendium of sharia composed by a renowned 14th-century Islamic jurist — is accurate, faithful to Muslim doctrine, and highly successful in “its aim to imbue the consciousness of the non-Arabic-speaking Muslim with a sound understanding of Sacred Law.” Thus, IIIT opined, “there is no doubt that this translation is a valuable and important work, whether as a textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English speakers, or as a legal reference for use by scholars, educated laymen, and students in this [English] language.”

I have previously summarized sections of this IIIT-certified manual. The law it promulgates is not merely a set of religious principles for spiritual guidance but a full-scale, authoritarian governmental system, regulating every aspect of political, social, and economic life. For example, Reliance denies freedom of conscience, explaining that apostasy from Islam is a death-penalty offense. It further elaborates, with supporting citations from scripture, that a Muslim apostatizes not only by clearly renouncing Islam but by doing so implicitly — such as by deviating from the “consensus of Muslims,” or making statements that could be taken as insolence toward Allah or the prophet Mohammed.

Reliance further approves a legal caste system in which the rights and privileges of Muslims and men are superior to those of non-Muslims and women. For example, it approves polygamy: Muslim men may marry up to four women, though Muslim women are limited to marrying one man, who must be a Muslim — the system being designed to produce Muslim children. Under the manual’s legal regime, the testimony and inheritance rights of women are worth half that of a man; women are directed to be obedient to their husbands (they may otherwise be beaten) and must have permission from their husbands before leaving the marital home.

The manual penalizes extramarital fornication by stoning or scourging. It matter-of-factly assigns other cruel corporal punishments for various offenses (e.g., amputation of a thief’s hand). The death penalty is directed for homosexuals, as well as for those who spy against Muslims, and for those who make interest-bearing loans.

This sharia system leads to an epidemic of unreported rape, because rape allegations must be verified by four male witnesses — otherwise the intercourse is considered extramarital fornication (turning the victim into a capital criminal). There can, moreover, be no marital rape in sharia because a wife is obliged to submit on demand. There is a reason why sexual assault is the unmentioned scandal of an increasingly Islamic Europe.

Reliance venerates jihad, which it defines as “to war against non-Muslims.” Muslims, moreover, are obliged to strive to establish an Islamic government, ruled by a caliph, who must be Muslim and male. If an Islamic state is established, non-Muslims are permitted to live in it only if they accept the state’s authority, pay a poll tax, and comply with various degrading conditions of dhimmitude that are designed to remind them of their inferior status.

Newt Gingrich is not pulling this stuff out of the sky any more than I am. It is all there in black and white, courtesy of CAIR’s Islamist allies. Of course, there are Muslims who do not want to live in a sharia state, Muslims who desire a civil society on which private spiritual beliefs are not imposed. That is exactly why Newt, in answering the question about presidential qualifications, took pains to qualify that “a truly modern person who happened to worship Allah” would pose no problem. But that is not the type of Muslim that CAIR and other Brotherhood satellites are grooming. They advocate sharia, which is why Gingrich makes sharia, not the fact that someone happens to be a Muslim, his line in the sand.

Fox is owned by News Corp, whose second-largest shareholder is the Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal, whose fabulous wealth spearheads the aggressive campaign to put a happy face on sharia while promoting it in the media and the academy — just as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna instructed in his elaborate plan for Islamizing societies. It is no surprise, then, to find Fox’s report on Gingrich parroting CAIR’s stock rebuttal that sharia is no threat to America because it mandates that “Muslims respect the law of the land in which they live.” This, by the way, is the same thing the Blind Shiekh and other terrorist defendants claimed when I prosecuted them in the first World Trade Center case; they argued to the jury that they couldn’t possibly be involved in a jihadist war against the United States because when a Muslim lives in a non-Muslim country, sharia dictates that he honor that country’s legal code.

It is laughable. Even if you believe that Islamists respect our laws, those laws allow for their own repeal and modification. Hence, they comfortably accommodate a campaign of sharia incrementalism — if we allow it to happen. There is nothing illegal about it, but a quick glance at Europe will tell you that its success would gradually and dramatically alter the character of the West. And CAIR’s unmitigated gall in smearing Gingrich as a segregationist is astounding. These are the guys whose ideal society segregates everyone along lines of creed and sex. Their strategy in the West is voluntary apartheid: Muslims counseled to retreat into their own enclaves, the better to argue that they must be permitted to govern themselves under their own parallel sharia system — giving sharia the toehold of legitimacy from which it can spread. Read Reliance and ask yourself who the segregationists are.

The sharia of the IIIT and their chums at CAIR is patently antithetical to the individual liberties, equality of opportunity, and separation of powers that undergird our constitutional system, which any president must swear to preserve, protect, and defend. It is, of course, permissible in our free society to believe that our system should be overthrown in favor of a sharia system — just as it is permissible to believe the moon is made of blue cheese. But the rest of us are not required to admire an Islamist’s beliefs just because there is no crime in his holding them, or just because they derive from a belief system he labels “religion.” And given that one cannot rationally believe both a proposition and its opposite, Newt is exactly right to argue that a presidential candidate could not be faithful simultaneously to the Constitution and to the classical sharia preached by the Brotherhood.

CAIR despises Gingrich because he is not seized by factophobia. That’s the Western epidemic whose seemingly untreatable pathogen is the dread accusation of “Islamophobia,” leveled by smartly groomed Islamists in their neatly pressed suits who so exude moderation — at least until you ask them about Israel — that you could never imagine them swatting a fly, much less chopping off a hand. Nearly two decades of boot-licking by a bipartisan parade of American politicians and administrations have conditioned these CAIR “civil rights” activists to expect — to demand — that no one will question them, not about sharia tenets, not about their organization’s sordid history.

When someone dares to depart from the script, that someone must be vilified without remission. Otherwise, the fortress of cards comes tumbling down. But imagine an American media that actually did its homework and asked CAIR about what’s in Reliance of the Traveller, rather than mindlessly repeating the Brotherhood’s lavishly financed talking points.

— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.


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