A commenter on the JW post directs our attention to a 22-year-old article by Conor Cruise O'Brien. O'Brien was weighing in on the war in Algeria, but his words, stated clearly and without the sort of equivocation that is evident in much contemporary writing about Islamic terrorism, retain their currency. O'Brien explains that:
"Fundamentalist Islam" is a misnomer which dulls our perceptions in a dangerous way. It does so by implying that there is some other kind of Islam, which is well disposed to those who reject the Koran. There isn't.
Islam is a universalist, triumphalist and political religion. It claims de jure dominion over all humanity; that is God's will. The actual state of affairs, with unbelievers of various sorts dominating most of the world, is a suspension of God's will and a scandal to the faithful. The world is divided between the House of Islam and the House of War, meaning the rest of us.
For more than two centuries now, the House of War has been in the ascendant, and the House of Islam has been abased. The remedy for this unnatural and intolerable state of affairs is jihad. Jihad is defined as "the religious duty imposed on all Muslims to wage war upon those who do not accept the doctrines of Islam". The Prophet Mohamed himself not merely preached but waged jihad. God's word, dictated to the Prophet and preached by him, is binding on all Muslims, and his example is their inspiration.
In the glorious centuries of expansion, the jihad carried Islam from Arabia, to the west as far as the Atlantic; to the north as far as Vienna; to the south as far as the Sahara and down the east coast of Africa to Madagascar; and to the east across Persia and the Indian subcontinent into part of China and Indonesia.
What is going on today in the Muslim world is not the advent of some aberrant thing called Islamic fundamentalism but a revival of Islam itself - the real thing - which Western ascendancy and Westernised post-Muslim elites no longer have the capacity to muffle and control. The jihad is back.Furthermore, O'Brien reminds us that the "jihad-is-an-aberration-of Islam/ISIS-isn't-Islamic" schtick purveyed by the likes of Obama, Kerry and, sad to say, Trump's latest National Security Advisor, is hardly a new phenomenon:
In denouncing the hijacking of an Air France jetliner by four young Algerians, the US government has carefully avoided linking the crime to the Muslim religion. The hijacking was "a grave terrorist crime" for which there can be no justification whatsoever, said the State Department spokesman, Michael McCurry, implicitly rejecting the hijackers' claim to be acting in the name of Islam.
That the claim of a group of Muslims to be acting in the name of Islam, is rejected by an unbeliever, speaking for other unbelievers, will do little to reduce the credibility of the claim, in the eyes of other Muslims.
President Clinton's personal approach to this matter appears to be governed by a kind of woozy ecumenism, fairly prevalent among Western liberal churchmen. As the president told the Jordanian Parliament in October: "After all, the chance to live in harmony with our neighbours and to build a better life for our children is the hope that binds us all together. Whether we worship in a mosque in Irbid, a baptist church like my own in Little Rock, Arkansas, or a synagogue in Haifa, we are bound together in that hope."
"All the great religions are the same" is the idea. Only they aren't. The Clintonian world view observes the hard specificity of Islam. The Prophet Mohamed did not offer his followers a chance to live in harmony with their neighbours. He taught them to fight their neighbours, if they were unbelievers, and kill them or beat them into submission. And it is futile to say of those Muslims who faithfully follow those teachings today that their actions are "not intrinsically related to Islam".
We are facing an Islamic revival. The pro-Western rulers of the Maghreb and the Middle East know this, and know that their own stance is increasingly unacceptable to their peoples.O'Brien's conclusion:
How the West should cope with the Islamic revival is a complex matter. But one thing is clear: we can never get it right if we go on trying to believe that there is something called "Islamic fundamentalism" which is somehow not intrinsically related to Islam itself.Wow. Just...Wow.
It is shocking to read this in 2017 knowing that it was published five years before Bin Laden's barbaric boychiks struck New York City on that fateful September day in 2001. And it is depressing as hell to know that, despite all that has happened since, most people are as clueless as ever about the Islamic revival, and, indeed, are big fans of "woozy ecumenism." And that amounts to a form of cultural and civilizational suicide.