By Jeff M. Moore
April 7, 2016
In the wake of the terror attacks in Belgium, Americans will again be at each other’s throats over the connection between terrorism and Islam. Blind amateurs assert there’s no linkage between the two. The ignorant indict all Muslims as terrorists. Ineffectual government technocrats put forward flaccid lingo that dances around the actual threat with catch phrases such as “violent extremists” that could apply to everything from communist rebels in Colombia to Illinois Nazis. But we don’t have to rely on these pseudo “experts” to define the threat. Why? Muslims do it for us.
Muslim colleagues in the defence sector tell us what the score is: there are spiritual Muslims and political Muslims.
Spiritual Muslims, we’re told, rely on Islam as a moral compass throughout life. They are tolerant of different religions and other ways of life. And that goes for even the most conservative of this group. These are our allies and fellow countrymen.
Political Muslims, (aka, “Islamists” and “Islamists jihadists”) are the opposite. Their beliefs are rooted in fascist philosophers such as Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah and Sayyid Qutb.
Ibn Taymiyyah asserted in the 1200-1300s that strict Shariah law must rule all governments, globally. Otherwise, God’s will could not be done.
In the 1950s-‘60s, Muslim Brotherhood sage Qutb took Taymiyyah’s philosophy to a new level. He argued in his book, “Milestones,” that Western politics and lifestyles were literally attacking Islam, and that Islam had to defend itself with political subterfuge and violence. Subsequent Islamists have taken lines from the Koran, the Sunnah, and the Hadith to further justify their twisted goals.
Don’t have Muslim colleagues in the defence and security sector? Not to worry. Muslims provide the details for us in scores of books.
Ed Hussain wrote “The Islamist: Why I Became an Islamic Fundamentalist, What I Saw Inside, and Why I Left.” He tells the full story of his journey from spiritual Islam, to political Islam, and back. Maajid Nawaz did the same in, “Radical: My Journey Out Of Islamist Extremism” and so did Tawfik Hamid in his book, “Inside Jihad: How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It.”
No time to read a book? Watch or read the news.
Three prominent international Muslim leaders have spoken tirelessly on the subject.
On New Year’s Day, 2014, Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi called for a “religious revolution” to take back Islam from the Islamists. He said, “the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands.” Mr. el-Sisi is neither an “Islamophobe” nor an Illinois Nazi. He’s a pious, conservative Muslim.
In November 2015, universally respected King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein of Jordan defined Islamist terrorists by pronouncing, “This is a war, as I’ve said repeatedly, within Islam.” He said ISIS were” savage outlaws of religion, devoid of humanity,” and that “our fight as Muslims [is] against those who aim to turn our societies and future generations toward fanaticism and extremism.”
In February 2016, after an ISIS attack in Jakarta, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced the “Indonesian Digital Initiative: Empowering Peaceful Leaders,” which he wants to be a global, integrated counter narrative campaign against Islamist ideology. President Joko is also a backer of the 50-million strong Nahdatul Ulema (NU), a Muslim organization that is part of Indonesia’s private sector/government campaign against political Islam. NU’s messages are resolutely powerful, such as, “Many who memorize the Quran and Hadith love to condemn others as infidels while ignoring their own infidelity to God, their hearts and minds still mired in filth.”
Again, none of this is from the mouths of “Islamophobes,” but from Muslims fighting for the very survival of their religion and their countries.
So there it is. Muslims decisively define the nexus between political Islam and terrorism. We don’t have to define it. We don’t have to deny it. It’s pre-packaged, ready for consumption like takeout sushi from Whole Foods. The enemy is “political Muslims.” Or “Taymiyyah-ists.” Or “Qutb-ists.” One Muslim military officer has suggested calling them Kuffar, or infidels.
Regardless of what label we use, let the administration pick one, direct from the mouths of our Muslim compatriots, and apply it to the enemy. This way, Americans can let go of each other’s throats and exclaim, “Oh, so that’s who the enemy is!” We can stop fighting each other and focus on the opposition. We can stop assailing spiritual Muslims, and stop placating political Muslims. We can stop saying, “That political party over there is at war with all Muslims.” And we can coordinate with our Muslim partners and get this counterterrorism fight on the road using not just force, but ideology as a primary weapon. It’s the smart way. And it’s the only way.
Jeff Moore, the CEO of Muir Analytics, is the author of “Spies for Nimitz: Joint Military Intelligence in the Pacific War” (Naval Institute Press).