Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Robert Spencer: The D'Souza Follies

January 30, 2007

The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11
By Dinesh D’Souza.
Doubleday, $26.95. 333 pp.

Dinesh D’Souza’s new book, The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, is not all bad. He is absolutely right that Osama bin Laden’s perception that Bill Clinton was weak in the 1990s led to the stepping-up of global jihad efforts. But the central point of the book is that “the cultural left in this country is responsible for causing 9/11,” not only by fostering a view that America was weak, but by spreading around the world “a decadent American culture that angers and repulses traditional societies, especially those in the Islamic world that are being overwhelmed with this culture. In addition, the left is waging an aggressive global campaign to undermine the traditional patriarchal family and to promote secular values in non-Western cultures. This campaign has provoked a violent reaction from Muslims who believe that their most cherished beliefs and institutions are under assault.” Therefore, “without the cultural left, 9/11 would not have happened.”

In response, D’Souza calls for the American right to build a traditional values coalition with what he calls “traditional Muslims,” who abhor both bin Laden and Britney Spears. “Admittedly,” he acknowledges, “some on the right may feel uncomfortable about teaming up with Muslims. Yes, I would rather go to a baseball game or have a drink with Michael Moore than with the grand mufti of Egypt. But when it comes to core beliefs, I’d have to confess that I’m closer to the dignified fellow in the long robe and prayer beads than to the slovenly fellow with the baseball cap.” Which core beliefs? D’Souza doesn’t say, but the grand mufti of Egypt has declared sculpture un-Islamic, so perhaps he and D’Souza could get together for a fun evening of statue-smashing. Of course, that is one of the core beliefs of the mufti that no doubt D’Souza does not share. But this is just one example of D’Souza’s propensity to make statements without apparently having examined their implications.

For although his book is focused on the Left, D’Souza has criticism for the Right also. He asserts that in order to cement the necessary alliance with these “traditional” Muslims, “the right must take three critical steps. First, stop attacking Islam. Conservatives have to cease blaming Islam for the behavior of the radical Muslims. Recently the right has produced a spate of Islamophobic tracts with titles like Islam Unveiled, Sword of the Prophet, and The Myth of Islamic Tolerance. There is probably no better way to repel traditional Muslims, and push them into the radical camp, than to attack their religion and their prophet.” He offers no prescription for how his “traditional Muslims” can repel the appeal to violence that jihadists everywhere base on the teachings of “their religion and their prophet,” for presumably in D’Souza’s ideal world even Muslim reformers, since they insult Muslim sensibilities, would be forbidden to discuss the Islamic teachings that jihadists use today to make their case among Muslims. How anyone would in that case counter or repel this jihadist appeal D’Souza does not explain.

Conservatives also must also “stop holding silly seminars on whether Islam is compatible with democracy. In reality, a majority of the world’s Muslims today live under democratic governments – in Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Turkey, not to mention Muslims living in Western countries. There is nothing in the Koran or the Islamic tradition that forbids democracy.” And “if they want Sharia, let them have it.” Of course, even if most Muslims today do live under democracies, to assume that this means Islam is compatible with democracy is like saying that most Russians loved Stalin’s reign of terror, since they lived under it regime for so long.

But that is just a small example from one of the most poorly reasoned books I have ever read. There is so much wrong with it that a review that noted it all would be as long as the book itself, and many have already pointed out some of the holes in D’Souza’s thesis: although Kathryn Lopez fawned over D’Souza in National Review, the New York Times, Glenn Beck, and others have given him a hard time. D’Souza’s central contention, that the left has allied with Islamic jihadists and therefore the right should ally with “traditional Muslims” on the basis of shared moral values, is wrong in numerous ways. First, who are these “traditional Muslims”? In his entire book, D’Souza offers not a single name, although his criticism of conservative opposition to the Dubai ports deal last year suggests that he may consider the United Arab Emirates (which he calls “the small country of Dubai”) a “traditional Muslim” state. D’Souza doesn’t mention the fact that the 9/11 hijackers used the Emirates as a base of operations, or that Al-Qaeda has claimed to have infiltrated the Emirati government.

It is not surprising that D’Souza supported this deal, which would have turned over operation of six American ports to a UAE company -- for it manifested the same mistaken belief that D’Souza articulates in his new book: that the Islamic world hates the West because of something we have done, which we can undo with the proper display of good will. Throughout his book D’Souza shows no awareness whatsoever of the jihad ideology, which remains constant while the pretexts and grievances that fuel it shift. In fact, he asserts that “despite the religious enthusiasm of many suicide bombers, Islam has been around for more than a thousand years, and for most of its history it produced neither suicide attackers nor terrorists. It is only contemporary Islam that provides an inspiration for suicide missions and attacks on civilians.”

While comforting, this is false. Today’s jihadist predilection for suicide attacks is a matter of technological progress making possible what had hitherto been impossible; it does not represent a theological divergence from traditional Islam. Suicide attack recruiters today point to Qur’an 9:111, which guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah. This was not added into the Qur’an by contemporary Muslims, and has been acted upon by Muslims in the past: Andrew Bostom has found that John Paul Jones encountered suicide attacks by Muslim Turks in 1788. Jones described a naval encounter between the Turks and the Russians that took place when Jones served in the Russian Navy: “The Turks,” Jones explained, “had a very large force, and we have been informed by our prisoners that they were resolved to destroy us, even by burning themselves, (in setting fire to their own vessels after having grappled with ours.)” (Emphasis added.)

As for attacks on civilians, they are not forbidden in all cases in Islamic law. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, himself ordered the assassinations of several poets who had made fun of him in their verses, and rewarded the killers – Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq, records these incidents approvingly. Here, as in all cases, Muhammad’s example became normative for Muslims. The Muslim jurist al-Mawardi in his legal manual al-Akham al-Sultaniyyah (4.2) allows for the killing of women and children who are perceived as in some way aiding the war effort against the Muslims. Other Islamic legal authorities echo this judgment (cf. ‘Umdat al-Salik o9.10).

And in Islamic history, the restriction that civilians were only liable to attack when they were perceived as aiding the war effort against Muslims was at times interpreted quite elastically. As Giles Milton documents in White Gold, the Muslim raiders who from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries kidnapped thousands of British men, women and children and sold them into brutal slavery in North Africa believed they were warriors of Islam engaged in a jihad. Much earlier, in 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitate to order the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Antioch from the Crusaders, Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler, Count Bohemond VI, had already left the city. So he wrote to Bohemond to make sure he knew what his men had done in Antioch: “You would have seen your knights prostrate beneath the horses’ hooves, your houses stormed by pillagers and ransacked by looters, your wealth weighed by the quintal, your women sold four at a time and bought for a dinar of your own money!...You would have seen your Muslim enemy trampling on the place where you celebrate the Mass, cutting the throats of monks, priests and deacons upon the altars, bringing sudden death to the Patriarchs and slavery to the royal princes.”[1]

When jihadists entered Constantinople on May 29, 1453, again the rivers of blood ran, as historian Steven Runciman notes: the Muslim soldiers “slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women, and children without discrimination. The blood ran in rivers down the steep streets from the heights of Petra toward the Golden Horn.”[2] Likewise, the Indian historian Sita Ram Goel notes that when the Muslim forces entered India, “the Sunnah [tradition] of the Prophet…required its warriors to fall upon the helpless civil population after a decisive victory had been won on the battlefield. It required them to sack and burn down villages and towns after the defenders had died fighting or had fled. The cows, the Brahmins, and the Bhikshus invited their special attention in mass murders of non-combatants….Those whom they did not kill, they captured and sold as slaves….And they did all this as mujahids (holy warriors) and ghazis (kafir [unbeliever]-killers) in the service of Allah and his Last Prophet.”[3]

Terrorism? If that word is understood to refer to attacks on civilians meant, at least in part, to demoralize an enemy population, then these incidents and many others like them were most assuredly terrorism. Moreover, they were part of an imperialistic pattern that even D’Souza acknowledges: “Inspired by Islam’s call to jihad,” he observes, “Muhammad’s armies conquered Jerusalem and the entire Middle East, then pushed south into Africa, east into Asia, and north into Europe.” Indeed, before Muhammad had been dead ten years (he died in 632), Muslim armies took Syria, Egypt, and Persia. Muslim armies conquered Damascus in 635, only three years after Muhammad’s death; substantial portions of Iraq in 636; Jerusalem in 638; Caesarea in 641; and Armenia in 643. The conquest of Egypt took place in the same period. The Muslims also won decisive victories over the Byzantines at Sufetula in Tunisia in 647, opening up North Africa; and over the Persians at Nihavand in 642. By 709 they had complete control of North Africa; by 711 they had subdued Spain and were moving into France. Sicily fell in 827. By 846 Rome was in danger of being captured by Muslim invaders; repulsed, the Muslims “sacked the cathedrals of St. Peter beside the Vatican and of St. Paul outside the walls, and desecrated the graves of the pontiffs.”[4]

Was this imperialist history motivated by the depravity of Western culture? The more one examines the historical record of jihad conquest, the more risible the question appears. An inventory of jihad wars across the world today achieves the same effect. Are Buddhist schoolteachers in Thailand the exponents of American pop culture? Are Christian schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia on their way to school the vanguard of an invasion by Eve Ensler? Are churches torched in Nigeria because they are showing blue movies during off hours?

D’Souza takes no notice of the fact that these conquests were inspired by the same theological ideology that fuels today’s global jihad. Yet even Islamic apologist John Esposito acknowledges the reality of this theological ideology: “As Islam penetrated new areas,” Esposito writes, “people were offered three options: (1) conversion, that is, full membership in the Muslim community, with its rights and duties; (2) acceptance of Muslim rule as ‘protected’ people and payment of a poll tax; (3) battle or the sword if neither the first nor the second option was accepted.”[5] This triple choice was based on Muhammad’s words: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them…If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them” (Sahih Muslim 4294).

Is this just a matter of “cherry-picking” negative material? D’Souza would probably say it was. He notes that “Islam is notorious for the harshness of some of its punishments, such as cutting off the arms and legs of thieves, flogging adulterers, and executing drug dealers.” However, “in this respect one may say, with only a hint of irony, that Muslims are in the Old Testament tradition.” He does not explain, however, why, if that were true, no Jews and Christians are cutting off the arms and legs of thieves or flogging adulterers today – in other words, he completely bypasses the interpretative traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in order to make the crudest of moral equivalence arguments. Nor does he inform the reader that in fact the Old Testament says nothing whatsoever about cutting off arms and legs of thieves – in fact, the “eye for an eye” provision had already moved beyond the barbarism of such punishments.

However, in light of the above statements by Muhammad and many others like them that enjoin warfare against unbelievers, D’Souza’s assertion that blaming Muhammad “for the pathologies of radical Islam” is tantamount to blaming Martin Luther King “for the pathologies of inner-city black America” is absurd. For while it is doubtful that drug dealers and pimps ever quote King’s words to justify their actions, jihadists routinely invoke Muhammad’s example to justify theirs. At the beheading of American hostage Nicholas Berg in May 2004, Iraqi jihad leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi declared: “The Prophet, the most merciful, ordered [his army] to strike the necks of some prisoners in [the battle of] Badr and to kill them....And he set a good example for us.”[6] London Muslim leader Hani Al-Sibaai in February 2005 justified the slaughters being perpetrated by Al-Zarqawi’s mujahedin in Iraq: “[T]he Prophet drove nails into and gouged out the eyes of people from the ‘Urayna Tribe. They were merely a group of thieves who stole from sheep herders, and the Prophet drove nails into them and threw them into the Al-Hrara area, and left them there to die. He blinded them and cut off their opposite legs and arms. This is what the Prophet did on a trifling matter – let alone in war.”[7]

Moreover, Muhammad commanded his followers to fight “those who disbelieve in Allah,” not just to those who disbelieve in Allah and are threatening the stability of traditional Islamic culture. Likewise Qur’an 9:29 commands Muslims to fight against “the people of the book” – that is, principally Jews and Christians – “until they pay the jizya [a special tax on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The verse does not stipulate that Jews and Christians should be fought if they are immoral and that immorality is threatening the Muslims: it commands war against them simply because they are Jews and Christians. This is a mainstream view in Islamic thought: the great Muslim philosopher Averroes (1126-1198) wrote: “the Muslims are agreed that the aim of warfare against the People of the Book...is twofold: either conversion to Islam, or payment of poll-tax (jizya).”[8] The tenth century Muslim writer Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (922-996), a legal theorist of the Maliki school of jurisprudence (madhhab) wrote in a similar vein: “Jihad is a precept of Divine institution....We Malikis maintain that is preferable not to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax [jizya], short of which war will be declared against them.”[9]

This is the same ideology that motivates today’s jihadists – as Osama bin Laden wrote to the American people, “The first thing we are calling you to is Islam.” Because violent jihad is so deeply rooted in the Qur’an and Islamic theology and tradition, jihadists present themselves among Muslims as the exponents of “pure Islam” – and make recruits on that basis. This recruitment centers on the Qur’an and other key Islamic texts. Take, for example, the case of Sahim Alwan, an American citizen and leader of the Yemeni community in Lackawanna, New York and onetime president of the mosque there. He has the distinction of being the first American to attend an Al-Qaeda training camp. Why did he go? He was convinced to do so by Kamal Derwish, an Al-Qaeda recruiter. Alwan explained that Derwish taught him that the Qur’an “says you have to learn how to prepare. Like, you gotta be prepared just in case you do have to go to war. If there is war, then you would have to be called for jihad.”[10]

Jihadists are pressing forward with jihad activity around the world today, after a long period of relative quiescence, because Saudi oil billions and the Khomeini revolution in Iran have made this reassertion of the jihad ideology possible. Jihadists do use the depravity of American culture as a recruiting tool, but this is more of a pretext than a root cause. In confusing the two, of course, D’Souza is not alone. Others on both the Left and the Right today differ with him on the root cause, but not on his assumption that the jihad is a reaction to American provocation – in other words, it is not something that springs from motivations to be found within Islam. Some point to the invasion of Iraq, or the establishment of Israel in 1948, or the toppling of Iran’s Mossadegh in 1953 — or a more generalized offense such as “American neo-colonialism” or “the lust for oil.” Those who are particularly forgetful of history blame it on newly minted epiphenomena such as the Abu Ghraib prison scandals or the alleged atrocities at Guantanamo.

But the jihadists were fighting long before Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Israel, or even the independence of the United States. Indeed, they have been fighting and imitating their warrior prophet ever since the seventh century – and, incidentally, for most of that time they have played the innocent victim no matter how much violence they themselves perpetrated. During the Crusades, Islamic writers consistently portrayed the Europeans as aggressors who had carried out an unprovoked attack on the Islamic world (as most Europeans and Americans see them today). It never occurred to those writers that the attacks on Christians in the Holy Land, and 450 years of jihadist aggression that had overwhelmed over half of Christendom, might have had something to do with the arrival of the “Franks” – just as it never occurs to D’Souza or most analysts today that Islamic jihad could be anything but a defensive reaction to aggression by others.

What’s more, the immorality of the West has been a feature of Islamic anti-Western writings since long before Britney Spears took to the stage. Jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb was scandalized by the dancing at a church social in Greeley, Colorado in 1948; however, D’Souza errs in attributing his jihadist views to this trip. Before he went to America, Qutb wrote Social Justice In Islam, calling for Islamic Sharia law to rule the world. The immorality he saw in American culture did not itself turn him against America, but illustrated for him why America was unfit to rule the world, and why only Islam was fit for that role. That immorality was never for Qutb the root cause of his opposition to America. And eight centuries before Qutb’s birth, a recurring feature of Muslim polemic against the Crusaders was the sexual immorality of the “Franks.” According to an anonymous poet at the time of the First Crusade, the Europeans completely overturned the moral order: “What is right is null and void and what is forbidden is made licit.”[11]

Have Westerners always been less morally upright than Muslims? According to D’Souza’s thesis, that’s the only possibility that could explain the fact that every century since the advent of Islam has seen jihad warfare. But it should be borne in mind that from the Islamic perspective, Christians are inherently immoral simply by virtue of their – in the Muslim view – exalting Jesus to divine status. The Qur’an has Allah asking Jesus: “Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah?” (5:116). The deification of Christ has earned Christians the curse of Allah: “The Christians call Christ the son of Allah…Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” (9:30). In the Muslim view, this “association of partners with Allah” – shirk -- is a more grievous immorality than the most heinous crimes. The apologetic Call to Islaam website explains: “Murder, rape, child molesting and genocide. These are all some of the appalling crimes which occur in our world today. Many would think that these are the worst possible offences which could be committed. But there is something which outweighs all of these crimes put together: It is the crime of shirk.”[12] From that perspective, no matter how upright Christians may be, they are still immoral in the Islamic view.

In any case, despite the fact that D’Souza is aware, as he puts it, that “traditional Muslims are not ‘moderates,’” and that there are no theological differences and few political differences between them and the jihadists, he recommends that conservatives ally with them. He seems to envision this alliance as a counterbalance to the Left’s alliance with the global jihad, which certainly exists. D’Souza spends a great deal of time explaining how a 2004 message from Osama bin Laden is dedicated to convincing “his allies in America to coordinate their actions more closely with his.” However, D’Souza ignores Osama’s 2002 message to the American people, which could be read as an appeal to social conservatives in exactly the same way that D’Souza reads his 2004 message as an appeal to liberals. In the 2002 letter, bin Laden says to Americans: “We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gamblings, and trading with interest….You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.” Was bin Laden angling for an alliance with Pat Robertson, as well as Michael Moore?

In reality, the jihadists will ally with anyone foolish enough to enter into an alliance with them. The unhinged anti-Americanism of the Left has led them already to embark upon this path; now D’Souza is calling conservatives to follow their example with people he acknowledges have no theological differences with the jihadists. And what will this alliance look like? Conservative Americans will agree with D’Souza’s “traditional Muslims” against abortion and pornography. What, then, will they do when their new allies begin agitating for polygamy and the execution of apostates? Will conservatives be put into a position of opposing gay marriage while supporting polygamy? Will they be able to criticize Islam then?

Is this inconceivable? Why? D’Souza asserts that most Muslims oppose polygamy, but it nonetheless is widely practiced and enjoys the sanction of Muhammad’s example and Islamic law. Will then no “traditional Muslim” ever assert it – and even insist upon it in the face of opposition from mere infidels? On what grounds does D’Souza assume that “traditional Muslims” will happily enter into an alliance with non-Muslim Americans as equal partners? The answer, of course, is that he appears to be unaware of the mainstream character of jihad and Sharia supremacism within Islam; he doesn’t seem to know that Islamic tradition unanimously teaches that “Islam must dominate, and not be dominated.” On what grounds does he believe that “traditional Muslims” will set this principle aside indefinitely? Of course, the “traditional Muslims” upon which D’Souza places so much hope are the ordinary people of the Islamic world, who like ordinary people everywhere simply want to go about making a living and taking care of their families. He portrays them as rejecting polygamy, the execution of apostates, and other unpleasant features of Islamic law and practice. And certainly it’s true that for centuries -- notably, although not universally, in central Asia, Eastern Europe, and West Africa -- jihad supremacism and other elements of Islam for many Muslims lay dormant and even dropped out of the Muslim consciousness. But this is not a strong enough basis for an alliance, since these cultural Muslims do not have a theological foundation within Islamic theology and law -- and now jihadists are using chapter and verse of Qur’an and Sunnah to teach their vision of Islam to cultural Muslims. What will prevent D’Souza’s “traditional Muslims” from being susceptible to such recruitment?

This question becomes even more urgent in light of the fact that D’Souza believes that discussion of the elements of Islam that jihadists use to justify their actions will just drive these “traditional Muslims” to become jihadists. He insists that this is so despite the fact that he himself speaks forthrightly about negative aspects of Islamic culture, such as child marriage: “many traditional Muslims,” he says, “look with revulsion at the sight in their countries of young girls attached to men old enough to be their fathers.” Very well, but this practice is rooted in the example of Muhammad, who consummated his marriage with his favorite wife, Aisha, when he was in his early fifties and she was nine. Yet D’Souza would apparently forbid any discussion of how Muhammad’s example is deleterious here.

It is in this connection that he mentions my books Islam Unveiled and The Myth of Islamic Tolerance, along with Serge Trifkovic’s superb Sword of the Prophet. (Trifkovic has ably answered D’Souza here.) D’Souza’s point about such books, however, can again just as easily be used against him by inverting his thesis. While he claims that criticism of Islam breeds jihadists, it is just as easy to say that there is no better way to repel anti-jihad leftists and push them into the arms of the jihadists (with whom so much of the Left is already allied), than to dub them “the enemy at home.”

Even worse, when D’Souza assumes that peaceful Muslims will have a greater sense of solidarity with jihadists than with non-Muslims, he destroys his entire thesis. For if these peaceful Muslims really abhor jihadism, they should have no reason to object to critical presentations of the elements of Islam that foster jihadism. But if a few books will be enough to drive them into the arms of the jihadists, then how committed could they really have been to peace and moderation in the first place? D’Souza is assuming that they regard global jihad terrorism as less damaging to their religion than “Islamophobic tracts,” which in itself completely undermines D’Souza’s assumption that jihad terrorism is a twisting of “traditional” Islam. Shouldn’t violence perpetrated in the name of their cherished religion make them much more indignant than some books that explore the Islamic roots of jihad terrorism – even if those books were offensive (which they aren’t by any rational standard)? Throughout his book D’Souza makes moral equivalence arguments about the Judeo-Christian tradition and Islam. At one point he even asserts that the Islamic moral code of stonings and beheadings amounts to Old Testament morality (but doesn’t bother to explain why no Jews and Christians practice stoning or beheading). Yet the equivalence breaks down on the level of behavior: Christians have never embraced violence in reaction to innumerable insults to their faith in recent years. Why should we ask or expect less of Muslims?

And by the way, it is odd that D’Souza, for all his disgust for the Left, would pick up on the Leftist coinage “Islamophobia,” a trumped-up, politically manipulative term intended to stifle debate. I would have thought D’Souza would be ashamed of using it until I read his recommendation that “the right” stop producing books like mine. He has denied that this was a call to silence me and others like me, and I’m sure it wasn’t: if Trifkovic and I begin to retail the prevailing PC fictions about Islam as a religion of peace and join mainstream analysts in declining to hold Muslims accountable for their actions (since they’re just reacting to the depredations of bad old America), I am sure D’Souza will be happy if we flourish.

In a sermon broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television in 2000, Dr. Ahmad Abu Halabiya, a member of the Palestinian Authority’s Fatwa Council, anticipated D’Souza’s call to alliance and declared: “Allah the almighty has called upon us not to ally with the Jews or the Christians, not to like them, not to become their partners, not to support them, and not to sign agreements with them. And he who does that is one of them, as Allah said: ‘O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies, for they are allies of one another. Who from among you takes them as allies will indeed be one of them.’ . . . Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them.”[13]

In this Abu Halabiya was quoting Qur’an 5:51 (“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them”) and 9:5 (“slay the idolaters wherever ye find them”). His application of these words to the contemporary political situation would thus resonate even with “traditional Muslims,” whose Qur’an is the same as that of the jihadists. And Abu Halabiya intended it to resonate in that way.

If the exportation of American depravity were to end tomorrow, it would not efface these and other words from the Qur’an, or keep preachers from using them to prevent any peaceful accord between Muslims and non-Muslims. That D’Souza suggests that it would manifests an appalling ignorance of Islamic theology, history, and present reality. He writes that “no real understanding of Islamic culture is possible that refuses to take Islam seriously,” yet he ends up doing just that. In the fourteenth century, the Byzantine Emperor John VI Cantacuzenes entered into an alliance with the Ottoman Turks, whom he invited into Europe to help him win a dynastic dispute. In the fifteenth century, the Ottomans seized Constantinople and destroyed the Byzantine Empire, and were greatly aided in doing so by having a base in Europe.

Dinesh D’Souza, no less short-sighted and naïve as John VI Cantacuzenes, is exhorting conservatives today to rush into an alliance that would ultimately bring upon themselves the same disaster.


[1] Thomas Madden, The New Concise History of the Crusades, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005, pp. 181-182.

[2] Steven Runciman, The Fall of Constantinople 1453, Cambridge University Press, 1965, p. 145.

[3] Sita Ram Goel, The Story of Islamic Imperialism in India, Voice of India, revised edition 1994, p. 44.

[4] Hitti, p. 205.

[5] John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford University Press, third edition, 1998. P. 35.

[6] Steven Stalinsky, “Dealing in Death,” National Review Online, May 24, 2004.

[7] “London Islamist Dr. Hani Al-Sibaai Justifies Slaughters in Iraq: The Prophet Muhammad Used to Slaughter As Well,” Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Clip No. 576, February 22, 2005.

[8] Averroes, Al-Bidaya, excerpted in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, Markus Wiener Publishers, 1996. P. 40.

[9] Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, in Bat Ye’or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996, p. 295.

[10] “Interview Sahim Alwan,” Frontline, October 16, 2003. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/sleeper/interviews/alwan.html.

[11] Carole Hillenbrand, The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives, Routledge, 2000, p. 247.

[12] “Shirk: the ultimate crime,” Invitation to Islam Newsletter, Issue 2, July 1997. http://www.al-sunnah.com/call_to_islam/articles/shirk_the_ultimate_crime.html

[13] Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), “PA TV Broadcasts call for Killing Jews and Americans,” MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 138, October 13, 2000. www.memri.org.

- Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). His latest book is the New York Times Bestseller The Truth About Muhammad.

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