Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969, is Islam’s most eloquent apostate. She has just published a slim book that seeks to add a new four-letter word—dawa—to the West’s vocabulary. It describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad. It is, she says, the greatest threat facing the West and “could well bring about the end of the European Union as we know it.” America is far from immune, and her book, “The Challenge of Dawa,” is an explicit attempt to persuade the Trump administration to adopt “a comprehensive anti-dawa strategy before it is too late.”
I am not sure I agree with Ms Hirsi Ali’s belief that Islam is susceptible to reform, although I’d like to think so – I just haven’t seen much that gives me confidence, in that regard. She “believes that Islam can indeed be reformed, that it must be reformed, and that it can be reformed only by Muslims themselves”—which is certainly true, if it’s going to happen at all—and that it must be “by those whom she calls ‘Mecca Muslims.'”
“These,” she says, “are the faithful who prefer the gentler version of Islam that she says was ‘originally promoted by Muhammad’ before 622. That was the year he migrated to Medina and the religion took a militant and unlovely ideological turn.” True, but whether the trend initiated then and promulgated for most of the succeeding nearly 1400 years is, to say the least, open to question. As I say, it’d be nice, but I’m not holding my breath!
However, she says a lot that the West needs to hear! For example:
Ms. Hirsi Ali—now a research fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution (…)—is urging the West to look at Islam with new eyes. She says it must be viewed “not just as a religion, but also as a political ideology.” To regard Islam merely as a faith, “as we would Christianity or Buddhism, is to run the risk of ignoring dawa, the activities carried out by Islamists to keep Muslims energized by a campaign to impose Shariah law on all societies—including countries of the West.”
Dawa, Ms. Hirsi Ali explains, is “conducted right under our noses in Europe, and in America. It aims to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and also to push existing Muslims in a more extreme direction.” The ultimate goal is “to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with Shariah.” It is a “never-ending process,” she says, and then checks herself: “It ends when an Islamic utopia is achieved. Shariah everywhere!”
Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the West has made a colossal mistake by its obsession with “terror” in the years since 9/11. “In focusing only on acts of violence,” she says, “we’ve ignored the Islamist ideology underlying those acts. By not fighting a war of ideas against political Islam—or ‘Islamism’—and against those who spread that ideology in our midst, we’ve committed a blunder.”
This is precisely what I have been saying for some years, now! If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe someone who comes “from the inside,” as it were.
“What the Islamists call jihad,” she continues, “is what we call terrorism, and our preoccupation with it is, I think, a form of overconfidence. ‘Terrorism is the way of the weak,’ we tell ourselves, ‘and if we can just take out the leaders and bring down al Qaeda or ISIS, then surely the followers will stop their jihad.’ But we’re wrong. Every time Western leaders take down a particular organization, you see a different one emerge, or the same one take on a different shape. And that’s because we’ve been ignoring dawa.”
I can’t help but be reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s words, that “Always after a defeat and a respite, the shadow takes another shape and grows again.” This is why I am not convinced it can be reformed – because I am not convinced that it is not actually evil. To quote Tolkien again, “there have been and still are many Men, warriors and kings, that walk alive under the Sun, and yet are under [the Dark Lord’s] sway.”
I think that Islam “took a militant and unlovely turn” because that is in its nature, its fundamental and existential origin, its essence. I do not believe the god of Islam is the same as the God of Judaism and Christianity, despite its claim to be descended from Abraham. Satan is a master of deceit, after all! But that is a theological question, and I may be wrong. Although the essential nature of Islam matters, and matters deeply, combating its militant and ideological manifestation is a pragmatic issue.
And that is why the warnings that Ms Hirsi Ali provides are so timely and apposite:
America needs to be on full alert against political Islam because “its program is fundamentally incompatible with the U.S. Constitution”—with religious pluralism, the equality of men and women, and other fundamental rights, including the toleration of different sexual orientations. “When we say the Islamists are homophobic,” she observes, “we don’t mean that they don’t like gay marriage. We mean that they want gays put to death.”
Islam the religion, in Ms. Hirsi Ali’s view, is a Trojan horse that conceals Islamism the political movement. Since dawa is, ostensibly, a religious missionary activity, its proponents “enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.”
Ms. Hirsi Ali is not afraid to call these groups out. Her book names five, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asserts—and in turn receives in the mainstream media—the status of a moderate Muslim organization. But groups like CAIR, Ms. Hirsi Ali says, “take advantage of the focus on ‘inclusiveness’ by progressive political bodies in democratic societies, and then force these societies to bow to Islamist demands in the name of peaceful coexistence.”
Again, this is exactly what I have been saying! As dire as the situation is, I cannot help feeling at least somewhat vindicated.
Again, I am not in full agreement with everything she has to say – in some respects, she’s still too easy on Islam for me: for example, where she would like to “modernize the ‘communism test’ that still applies to those seeking naturalization,” for example (taqiyya, anyone…? asking questions of someone who has religious permission to lie is of dubious benefit, I fear!), I would prefer to not let any more Muslims into this country at all, unless or until the overall situation is resolved (in terms of reform, or lack thereof, of Islam itself). And watch the ones already here, like the proverbial hawk!
But she says a lot that needs to be heard. Read the article. It’s important.