Twenty-five percent of Americans hold what AP calls “anti-Muslim views,” according to a story published Monday. AP added that “the poll found that people most likely to have negative attitudes were male, white, less educated, politically conservative and living in the South.” And, no doubt, wear overalls and drive pickups with gun racks and Confederate flag bumper stickers.
Working hard to dispel the prejudice of these benighted Bubbas is none other than the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, which actually conducted the survey. They’re planning activities during the Muslim month of Ramadan to counter what AP characterized as one indication of “anti-Muslim views”: “a belief that the religion teaches violence and hatred.”
How’s that again? Americans are “anti-Muslim” because they think Islam teaches violence and hatred? With Muslims shouting “Allahu akbar” (Allah is greatest) while beheading civilians in Iraq and murdering children in Beslan, Russia, perhaps it’s a bit premature to convict this 25 percent of Americans of bigotry. With the leader of the Pakistani radical Muslim group Jaish-e-Mohammed, Maulana Masood Azhar, saying last year that “in Islam the only meaning of jihad is killing,” maybe that 25 percent is on to something.
But, of course, CAIR maintains that all that is a hijacking of Islam. CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad insisted that those who commit violence in Islam’s name “have nothing to do with Islam. People claim they are doing it for Islam, but it’s really in spite of Islam,” Ahmad said. And they have convinced Americans of this: “About two in three,” according to AP, “said they agreed that ‘the people who use Islam to justify violence are misinterpreting its teachings.'”
Azhar himself was not so easily convinced. He declared that the misinterpreters were the Muslim moderates, saying that those who elaborated the ideas of the “greater jihad” and the “lesser jihad” were “against Islam.” The “greater jihad,” as American Muslim spokesmen never tire of reminding us, is spiritual struggle. The “lesser jihad,” they say, is warfare, but only for defense. In my book “Onward Muslim Soldiers” I detail how radical Muslims including Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s mentor, and Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (the first modern radical Muslim group), rejected the concept of the “greater jihad” as being founded upon inauthentic traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. Azhar evidently shares this view.
What’s more, from the standpoint of Islamic theology and tradition, the radicals have the better of the argument. The courageous ex-Muslim writer Ibn Warraq explains: “For every text the liberal Muslims produce, the mullahs will use dozens of counter-examples [that are] exegetically, philosophically, historically far more legitimate.” He adds that “it is time for moderate Muslims to question honestly the principles of their faith, to admit the role of the Quran in the propagation of violence.”
To admit the role of the Quran in the propagation of violence is simply to open one’s eyes and read the statements of Osama bin Laden and other radical Muslim leaders. Is to do this “anti-Muslim”? Certainly CAIR, as shown by this AP article, thinks of all such efforts as “anti-Muslim,” and the media uncritically accepts the group’s contention that to discuss the roots of terror in the doctrine of jihad is to hate Muslims. But in fact, to criticize the elements of Islam that give rise to terror is not to be anti-Muslim at all; individual Muslims themselves may not accept or even know about the doctrines that Osama and others use to justify themselves.
Moreover, to ignore these elements out of fear of being anti-Muslim plays into the hands of the jihadists by foreclosing on any honest examination of why they’re really doing what they’re doing – which foreclosure, of course, destroys the chance that any positive and truly effective steps can be taken to stop them.
It is not hating Muslims to ask them to remove the hate from their religion and to accept the principles of human rights that are accepted everywhere else in the world. But will Omar Ahmad and CAIR admit this? I doubt it. Ahmad, of course, was reported as saying in 1998 that “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” He has since claimed that his remarks were misrepresented, but the reporter says she remembers his statement, if not his exact words, and declines to retract her story.
Is Omar Ahmad himself “anti-Muslim”?
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of “Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West” (Regnery Publishing), and “Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).