A cowardly attack caused creeks of innocent blood to trickle into the gutters of Paris last Friday night. It was the gravest mass murder on French soil to be committed since the Second World War. The thugs responsible represented ISIL, this much we know for certain, but already the nauseating reaction of the West is to disentangle this atrocity from religion. Indeed, the tendency in response to this kind of attack is to immediately, and without justification, cleave the weld between Islam and terrorism. This is in truth the most damaging course of action. We need to speak openly and honestly about the connection between the liturgy of the religion and the behavior it makes incumbent upon its adherents.
There exists a convenient word in our modern lexicon to annul any attempts to criticize Islam by ascribing it to the bigoted, racist sickness of Islamophobia. The word is bogus. It is a meaningless twelve letters arranged to prevent what the Mullahs would call blasphemy. A phobia is not simply a fear, it’s an irrational fear. Is it irrational to find certain things in the Koran unsettling? I daresay it is not. Those professing to uphold liberal values must render it socially acceptable to notice the relationship between Islamism and the religion which incubates it. Nothing is more tediously regurgitated in the mainstream media than confirming the obvious, that the majority of Moslems do not obey the deeply sinister exigencies prescribed by the Koran and the example of the life of Mohamed. But one can never be totally certain of one’s audience, so I’ll repeat it at the risk of sounding like a broken record. A majority of those who confess an Islamic faith do not treat the Koran’s nasty passages with much seriousness. Still, propagating the myth that Osama Bin Laden was somehow transforming a truly peaceful religion into a violent political ideology sabotages the conversation we have to enter.
Nothing helpful comes from playing hide and seek with the articles of faith in this arena. When the heads of state of Western countries go on television and proclaim that an attack like the one suffered by France last week has nothing to do with Islam, they are deluding the public about the realities of Jihad. Wherefore did these eight attackers draw their motivation if not scripture? When a man screams ‘Allahu Akbar’ while reloading his AK-47 so he can spray bullets into a mass of concert-goers in the French capital, we would do well to acknowledge he actually believes in paradise. ISIL isn’t making this stuff up. The ideas of martyrdom and jihad as prongs of Holy War incumbent upon Moslem men really could be textually justified. Meekly countering with “(w)hoever kills a person (unjustly)…it is as though he has killed all mankind” from verse 5:32 of the Koran doesn’t eliminate the notion that killing unbelievers can be canonically supported if certain trespasses are committed by said unbelievers against the faith.
Reforming Islam can only happen with change from within. For this we need to look to secularists in the Moslem world who agree that there is a problem, and that the future of Western civilization depends on our ability to make Islam politically inert. Majid Nawaaz a former Islamist, is one of the critical voices being heard in this sphere. He recognizes the importance of a global society wherein clear links can be drawn between doctrine and behavior without the accusation of Islamophobia being brandished.
The taboo surrounding criticism of Islam in particular is thoroughly asphyxiating. To notice that there are scary illiberal bits of the Koran is not racist, it’s attentive. If the point wasn’t clear by now, I’ll leave you with the damning words of Sam Harris, who once noted that, “the problem with Islamic fundamentalism is the fundamentals of Islam.”