My best guess is the sun is hot. I feel its heat. I see by its light. I understand its role in the growth of crops and other living things. If I were to come across scholarly data attesting to its high temperatures, I would probably look at the fiery pictures (if there were any) and turn to something else.
On one level, I approach a new study on violence and Islam in the Middle East Quarterly in much the same way. That is, I've lived through 9/11 and the 17,298 Islamic terror attacks since (as tabulated by the website thereligionofpeace.com). I've seen pictures of Muslims rampaging around the world over a cartoon. I also understand Islam's animating role in the terror and subversion designed to extend Islamic law (Shariah) to a point where an Islamic government, or caliphate, rules the world.
But there is something transfixing about the new study, "Shari'a and Violence in American Mosques." The authors have amassed a solid bank of peer-reviewed data attesting to the presence and promotion of literature advocating violence in the majority of 100 randomly selected American mosques. And yes: That's majority of "American" mosques. Not Saudi mosques. Not Pakistani. Not Iranian. Not Turkish. Not even British mosques.
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There goes that post-9/11 myth – the one that tells us that American Islam is a happily assimilating creed, wholly different from the aggressive Islam transforming Europe. The new data collected by Israeli scholar Mordechai Kedar and attorney David Yerushalmi of the Center for Security Policy (and one of my 18 co-authors on the book "Shariah: The Threat to America") indicate that most American mosques are sanctioning, if not also promoting, the study of material of similar peril.
For me, the six tables of data boil down to two simple and stunning facts. More than 80 percent of the mosques in the study feature Islamic literature that advocates violence. (The authors divide the "violence-positive material" into two categories: 30 percent "moderate" violence, and 51 percent "severe" violence.) Further, 85 percent of the imams recommend this literature – both lay-written and authoritative Islamic texts (not including the Quran or Sunnah, writings said to be words and deeds of Muhammad). It is a slim 19 percent of the mosques that don't feature such violent materials, and an even slimmer 15 percent of the imams who don't recommend it. I guess it is in these small fractions where we might find the real "tiny band of extremists" – perhaps among the followers of the four imams in the 100 mosques who, the authors point out in a footnote, "instructed against the study of violence-positive material."
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The authors follow a line of inquiry into whether signs of adherence to Shariah (Islamic law) within the mosque – for example, sex-segregated prayer, regimented prayer lines, bearded imams – indicate the presence of inflammatory material. Take sex-segregated prayer. They found that 95 percent of the mosques where men and women pray separately contain violent literature. At the same time, however, so do 74 percent of the mosques where men and women pray together. Similarly, 94 percent of the imams presiding over sex-segregated congregations recommend the study of violence-positive material; but so do 80 percent of the imams leading co-ed services. So, yes, Shariah-adherence is a sure-fire indicator, but it's not the only indicator.
No wonder the authors consider the conclusions to be drawn from their survey as "dismal at best." But what will those conclusions be? What should they be? I conclude, just for starters, that there is an urgent need to halt Islamic immigration to ensure that the demographic for more such mosques doesn't grow. But having dug up the hard data on the textual embrace of Islam-inspired violence within organized Islam in America, the authors almost seem content to throw it all away: "This survey suggests that, first and foremost, Muslim community leaders must take a more active role in educating their own faith community about the dangers associated with providing a safe haven for violent literature and its promotion."
The data may be new, but this is the same old mistake we've made since 9/11: outsourcing our response to the ideological threat posed by Islam to "Muslim community leaders" – and usually linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. This isn't an internal Islamic problem. These alarming data on the promotion of violence within Islam in American mosques are for the wider, still non-Islamic society to address, and before it's too late.