|15A015 Is IS Islamic? by Jim Davies, 2/26/2015
"We are not at war with Islam, and Islamic State does not speak for you", declared President Barack Hussein Obama last week. Evidently, he wants to drive a big wedge between IS and the rest of the Muslim world, which comprises over a fifth of our race. Given that that fifth has five times as many people in it than the US of A, it's an understandable aim; in any long term war, that 5:1 advantage would tell. It would hinder his power to wage war.
This is serious talk. In Islam, I understand that if one says of another that he is an apostate, "one of them is right" - and the penalty for apostasy is death. So once someone has figured out which of them is right, the other - accuser or accused - loses his head. Abdullah is of course a Muslim, and technically Obama is too, since he was born the son of one; so both are taking a big risk, their lavish layers of bodyguards notwithstanding. Anyway, are they right?
According to David Brooks on PBS' News Hour, "If you call yourself a Muslim, you’re a Muslim" and if that's true, those two prominent statesmen are wrong. Brooks argues that all religion is interpretation, to whose own everyone is entitled. But on the same program Mark Shields disagreed: "And you just don’t want to give the... misimpression, that this is a war against Islam. It isn’t." So our question seems to have tied quite a few clever folk up in knots. If IS is truly what it claims - a real return to fundamentalist Islam - then those waging war on it are potentially taking on a quarter of the world; or if it is not, one must be prepared to show why and how it is not, and that's tricky.
An extra load of complexity comes from IS itself. A seminal (though rather long) recent article by Graeme Wood in The Atlantic holds that the Caliphate has a clear and fixed idea of what the future holds and definitely wants to escalate war with its adversaries, believing that it will attract more supporters and then succeed in sacking "Rome" - apparently a reference to Istanbul - and later suffer a series of setbacks that will corner a remnant in Jerusalem, then see the return of the Prophet and Jesus (!) to establish a permanent and triumphant strictly Muslim worldwide order.
Sheer and obvious nonsense, comparable to the Book of Revelation, but that's apparently what drives these barbarians and they appear to be way beyond reason.
Christian evangelist Franklin Graham put it quite plainly: "Jesus taught peace, love and forgiveness. He came to give His life for the sins of mankind, not to take life. Mohammad on the contrary was a warrior and killed many innocent people. True followers of Christ emulate Christ—true followers of Mohammed emulate Mohammed." Graham is thus of the same view as Brooks and Wood: IS is doing roughly what the religion's founder did, which was to extend his government by killing resisters. He was a mystic maybe, and a warrior for sure. The phenomenal growth of Islam during its first few centuries followed the use of the sword, not of preachers and persuasion. IS is doing the same.
As I see it, Brooks and Graham and Wood are right, and Obama and His Jordanian Majesty are wrong; of course IS is Islamic. But that doesn't mean WW-III is inevitable.
As usual, the conventional response to the problem of IS is to use force. Graeme Wood wrote that the "fight with IS is likely to be a long one" and our Dear Leader says he is working to build a coalition that will defeat the Caliphate militarily. One could debate at length who might join it (Turkey appears to be the key) and ridicule Obama for shutting out the one most likely to help (Assad of Syria) but that's all a variation on the theme: force. Governments know no other way. I reckon there's a far better one.
It arises because for the first time ever, Muslims have left home. There are migrants and refugees all over Europe and North America. Back home, they are executed if they leave Islam, and proselytizers are executed if they preach; but in the West, such actions are not forbidden. These Muslims are therefore open to reason, however slightly. They are in fact our neighbors. Some of them may be our friends.
And they still have friends and family back home - whether "home" is Iraq, or Pakistan, or slap in the middle of the IS Caliphate. So if you and I can communicate with them, they can communicate with those still under Muslim rule - and keep their necks intact.
Now, "open to reason" is relative; I grant that Muslims are a great deal less open to reason than everyone else, and everyone else is so saturated with the Cult of the Omnipotent State as to be barely open to reason themselves; but to bring about a zero government society we don't need a mass conversion. Just one at a time. One friend a year - whether his cult is that of the State, or of the Prophet - brought to TOLFA so that he or she graduates and does the same, will do the job nicely - albeit a few years later than those less mired in superstition. As with governments everywhere, once support for the fanatical IS leaders is withdrawn, they will collapse like like punctured balloons.
So if you have a Muslim friend, now is the time to start. It's the peaceful way, and there is no other.