The Paris attacks are an act of war – against Islam itself

Published: November 17, 2015
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Indian Muslim women light candles to express solidarity with France following Friday's attacks in Paris in Mumbai, India, Monday, Nov.16, 2015. PHOTO: AP

The appalling attacks in Paris were, as Francois Hollande said, an ‘act of war’. They were Islamism’s declaration of war on free society – but, crucially, they represented something else. An act of war, by Islamists, upon Islam itself.

As Douglas Murray says, it is lazy and wrong to argue that these attacks had nothing to do with Islam. The repugnant creed of the Islamic State (IS) is certainly related to Islam – but it is also inimical to IslamThe scenes in Paris will shock Muslims world over; indeed, when we Muslims hear of gunmen shouting “Allahu Akbar before committing the very acts of murder explicitly prohibited by the Quran, our repugnance is joined with a sense of desecration.

To assert that this Islamism is un-Islamic is not a kneejerk response to the atrocities we saw in Paris, and so many times around the world. It is the only conclusion that can be drawn after serious consideration of its principles. The Damascene Muslim scholar, Bassam Tibi, identifies six tenets of Islamism – all quite new, and none can be honestly described as Islamic.

1. Seeking a new world order through a new dictatorial global ‘caliphate’. (It matters little that the word ‘dawla’ — Islam as state — appears nowhere in the 80,000-word document that we accept as the revealed Quran.)

2. The establishment of Islamism within democracies – Islamists are keen to stand for election, but once they get into power they want to shut the democratic gate behind them.

3. Positioning Jews as Islam’s chief enemy, thereby making anti-Semitism central to the Islamist project (as Hamas’s founding charter attests).

4. The mutation of classical jihad into terrorist jihadism — with which the world has, alas, become all too familiar.

5. Shariah law. Not sharia as described by the Quran, but a concocted version used to impose a form of totalitarian rule which is without historical precedent. As the Islamic State regularly demonstrates, mercy has no place within Islamists’ version of shariah. In his searing study of the subject, the British lawyer Sadakat Kadri makes the critical observation that ‘pitiless punishment’, while lacking in Islam itself, has found a comfortable home in much of the Islamist world. Medieval barbarity has become a modern-day reality across much of the modern Muslim world — except that such punishment was unusual even in medieval times. Kadri notes that in five centuries of documented Ottoman legal history, there is only one record of a stoning to death.

6. The Islamists’ concept of purity and authenticity. Any challenge to Islamism is, to them, de facto evidence of an un-Islamic behaviour. As Professor Tibi puts it, this is what makes Islamism ‘a totalitarian ideology poised to create a totalitarian state’ on a par with Nazism and Leninism.

‘Given that Muslims constitute more than a quarter of humanity,’ he concludes, the tension ‘between civil Islam and Islamist totalitarianism matters to everyone’.

So this is a new ideology, a form of totalitarianism – and one that has its ideological source not in medieval Islam but 20th century fascism. They dress in the robes of ancient Islam, but the methods and the ideology are terrifyingly modern. The Islamic State, with its easy control of social media, is the most modern incarnation yet.

The Islamic State’s brutality against anyone it encounters – Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis or Syrians – has been a reminder to the Muslim world that Islamism is not just directed at westerners. It’s also a reminder of why the animus against Islamism is rising — holding out the prospect of real reform. Crucially, the jihadis are losing the argument. Ten years ago, a Pew poll found that 41 per cent of Pakistani Muslims said that suicide bombings were sometimes justified. Now, it’s down to three per cent.

This is the moment for the Islamic world to expose Islamism — but loosening its hold upon our faith falls upon those Muslims who value pluralism and pursue a civilised, enlightened Islam. The reformation many are calling for isn’t needed of Islam, but rather of Muslims — and specifically of Muslim leadership.

So we must name the beast, and do so with conviction. This is not just about weeding out a jihadi menace from Birmingham schools, but about giving millions of Muslims the chance for a peaceful coexistence with the rest of humanity. And it’s about persuading non-Muslims that the Islamists are wrong — that such coexistence is possible.

Muslims are reminded by the Quran that to each people is sent ‘a Law’ and ‘a Way’ and that Muslims should not judge people of other faiths in the light of their own. Instead, the People of the Book must judge themselves by their own revealed texts (‘unto you your religion, and unto me my religion’) as we worship the same God. The Quran teaches that Moses and Aaron are to be revered for their courage in the face of merciless rule. The Torah and the Gospel are to be honoured.

From the Pakistani bad lands to the banlieues of Paris, notice must be served to the Islamists: Muslims — that is to say, real Muslims — are coming for you.

The post originally appeared on The Spectator here.

Qanta Ahmed

Qanta Ahmed

A British Muslim who is the author of 'In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom' and a physician. She tweets @MissDiagnosis (twitter.com/MissDiagnosis)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • vasan

    “Ten years ago, a Pew poll found that 41 per cent of Pakistani Muslims said that suicide bombings were sometimes justified. Now, it’s down to three per cent.”

    If this change of mind has happened because of religious enlightenment, education or maulvis, then this would have conviction and strength. Unfortunately this is not so. The suicide bombing was acceptable to Pakistanis as long as it happened in Afganistan or India or among shias/ahmedis/christians. It was acceptable to Pakistanis when 9/11 happened, it was acceptable when 26/11 happened. But it was not acceptable after APS massacre. When the terror hit home, the pain was felt and the suicide bombing was not acceptable. Only when Pakistanis realize that the pain of others as equal to pain of pakistanis, this % will support the authors argument. Otherwise it does not take much time for the % to change.Recommend

  • Mubashir

    Very well researched article. Your kind of views need to be published more to counter the anti islam propaganda. Recommend

  • Paul Randle

    Qanta,

    Whilst I agree with what you say to a certain extent. The missing part of your article is: “what ‘action’ should the Muslim community take?”.

    There does appear to be condemnation, but, there is the need to take the situation in hand and show the world that since Daesh have “declared war” against Islam. Islam should now take war to the Islamists under a united banner. Words are all well and good to indicate solidarity. However, the onus is now on the moderate Muslim community to identify those within their own ranks (be that country wide down to the family unit) who are responsible for the planning and promotion of such attacks and hand them to the authorities.

    Daesh state that they have introduced thousands of Jihadis into Europe through the assylum seeking process that has resulted from refugees fleeing from their tyrannical regime. Surely true Muslims should be identifying these extremist individuals to the authorities as they cross the borders?

    It is the “lack of palpable action” that is making people suspicious of all Muslims and fuelling the engines of the “far right”.

    As the saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words”.

    Paul RandleRecommend

  • Paul Randle

    Qanta,

    Whilst I agree with what you say to a certain extent. The missing part of your article is: “what ‘action’ should the Muslim community take?”.

    There does appear to be condemnation, but, there is the need to take the situation in hand and show the world that since Daesh have “declared war” against Islam. Islam should now take war to the Islamists under a united banner. Words are all well and good to indicate solidarity. However, the onus is now on the moderate Muslim community to identify those within their own ranks (be that country wide down to the family unit) who are responsible for the planning and promotion of such attacks and hand them to the authorities.

    Daesh state that they have introduced thousands of Jihadis into Europe through the assylum seeking process that has resulted from refugees fleeing from their tyrannical regime. Surely true Muslims should be identifying these extremist individuals to the authorities as they cross the borders?

    It is the “lack of palpable action” that is making people suspicious of all Muslims and fuelling the engines of the “far right”.

    As the saying goes: “Actions speak louder than words”.

    Paul Randle. Recommend

  • pk

    For suggested reforms in religion the greatest resistance should come from same community to which the accused belong. This struggle then be seen as legitimate struggle. In India when a Muslim is lynched for eating beef, greatest struggle came from Hindus against Hindu fanatic. Recommend

  • Vinod

    Playing the victim card again. Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    That’s the problem, you are more concerned about the what you consider propaganda against your faith rather than the people who are getting killed at the hands of Muslims while chanting slogans glorifying the almighty.Recommend

  • Minerva

    You dont understand, do you? This article is asking Muslims to introspect and fight against extremist elements like IS. Not to whine on “Islamophobia”.Recommend

  • Gullu

    You are stuck on a pathetic mantra. Which you repeat as “comment”
    in just about every blog in this e paper. Time YOU move on and take
    your hate with you. Try Hindustan Times, Delhi Express, RSS Gazette,
    Shiv Sena Town Crier, The Hindu……..so many papers in Hindustan.Recommend

  • Jehangir Khan Mescanzai

    Try once again. In a rational manner, instead of quoting ragged
    handy, woebegone, pathetic phrases like “action speaks louder”
    The author of the blog HAS taken action, by writing this piece. One
    of the many ways to inform and enlighten ‘everyman on the street.’
    ISIS is a recent phenomenon. And is being faced and countered to
    the best of the abilities of the various nations engaged in fighting it.
    It will not happen overnight. There is a long dark savage road ahead,
    before the sun shines again. The author’s blog is one of the many lights
    brightening the dark passage. Let’s not be sanctimonious here. Not
    everyone can pick up a pitchfork and go hunting for terrorists.
    By the way, when haggard, starving, scared out of their wits, bone tired,
    refugees are crossing borders, they are not keeping tabs on other refugees,
    or their political affiliations. They are worried about themselves and just
    want to reach a safe haven.
    Hope this helps.Recommend

  • Vish

    Funny how all refugees are from Muslim countries. Probably Muslims need to do more then just introspection although not sure if they are even doing that.Recommend

  • Jehangir Khan Mescanzai

    Showcases your ignorance and hate for Muslims. Which is obvious. In case you did not know, there is an ongoing civil
    war in Syria. And Iraq was literally destroyed as a country
    by a 10 year ravaging war. All infra structures destroyed.
    People homeless, destitute with all their belongings that fit in backpack. So yes, they are Muslims. There are no Hindus living
    in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Islamic Maghreb. Otherwise they
    would be part and parcel of the refugees.
    Doubt if any of this will sink in….for you. With your stunted bigoted reasoning.Recommend

  • Ajay

    Denouncing ISIS will serve no purpose since its root are in the concept of misusing religion in politics. If muslims are serious to reform , first they should ban the Islamic government. In today’s multicultural world, Islamic government has no place. It is hippocratic to see muslims go for Islamic government in their own country where they are in majority. But when the muslims go to other countries for economic reasons, they sing praises of democracy and secularism. The present brand of Islam is to create political force and results in division of society.Recommend

  • Gul,h

    Why so much of cover up to find a reason for the incidents? Are we feeling guilty that we need to really sort out the problems in religion ? Writing so many articles and blogs stating it is not islam at fault only shows our insecurity and that something is wrong with religion!! Recommend

  • Nana

    Not surprising, eh? Human psychology. As long as you are not personally affected ,it does not matter. But when you are scared by it then you start thinking of taking care of it. As long as IS, mainly supported by US, Saudi Arabia and the West, was wrecking havoc on Syrians and Iraqis where millions were either displaced or died, it didn’t matter.But When it hit Paris, a resolution was passed in UNO to tackle it on proper basis no matter what. Human psychology!Recommend

  • Guy

    Since when did US support IS. If they were not attacking IS what they were doing in Iraq, Syria doesn’t mean they were backed. Aren’t we a typical believer of conspiracy theories that spin all the time & let’s say even if the IS is supported by US why would they attack West fearing a backlash (keeping the mind the Al Qida story which also is said to be backed by US). Moreover one has to be fool enough to be played into hands of someone. Inner inconsistencies cannot be blamed on others. And as far as conspiracy theorists goes it’s a big business these days. All you need to do is open up your mind.Recommend

  • Nana

    You need tutorials in International Politics. It’s not difficult, just google about IS and it’s support and you’ll get to know. May be you’ll find it too difficult so let me help you. Read it and open your biased eyes:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/03/us-isis-syria-iraqRecommend