Some popular fallacies about Islamism

British Islamists
By Magdi Abdelhadi

Get your facts right.

Al-Qaeda and its most recent clone, the so-called “Islamic State” group, did not come about as a result of the invasion of Iraq or the civil war in Syria.

It was born out of the unholy alliance between America and the Wahhabi zealots of Saudi Arabia to defeat communism and bring down the Soviet Union. Remember the Cold War and Afghanistan? That was the primal sin for which we are all paying the price.

Islamism itself is, of course, a much older phenomenon which received an enormous boost with the arrival of oil money in the Gulf. It will continue in all its heinous forms even after the Islamic State group is defeated, as long as there are people who believe that there are moderate and radical Islamists. Islamism is extremism.

Draining the swamp

Do European leaders really want to do something about it, as they say? Here is what they must do:

  • Cut Qatari and Saudi funding to all Islamic activity in Europe, whatever form it takes: mosques, schools, charities, so-called “think-tanks” that justify violence, Muslim victim mentality and legitimise the dictionary of hate.
  • Train European imams who the study history and psychology of religion. Do not import imams from such countries as Egypt and Pakistan, and certainly not those who studied in Saudi Arabia.

Allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to continue to operate inside European mosques or schools or charities or student associations under any guise means allowing the cancer to grow and metastasise.

There is a direct line between the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and that of global jihad. In fact, it is not even a line. It is the same ideology. Allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to continue to operate inside European mosques or schools or charities or student associations under any guise means allowing the cancer to grow and metastasise. If you ban Hizb al-Tahrir, why not ban the Muslim Brotherhood, the mother of all terrorist organisations? Don’t be taken in by their suave and media savvy spokespeople in European capitals. Look at the basics of their ideology: the Koran is our constitution, jihad is our way, martyrdom is our ultimate goal. What more evidence do you need?

Poisonous discourse

Keep on the look out for any discourse that uses the vocabulary below. These are the building blocks of the hate doctrine that demonises non-Muslims and underpins the Islamist narrative to justify the killing of “infidels”, or kuffar, Westerners, Christians, Jews, apostates, women, Yazidis, homosexuals and anyone who is not a Muslim or does not subscribe to the Islamist doctrine:

  • Muslims are victims of the West
  • The West is decadent and has no principles
  • Palestine is the principal cause of Islam and all Muslims (actually, Palestine is the principal cause of the Palestinians)
  • Islam is the only true faith and will and must prevail
  • Islam is under attack
  • Branding any criticism of Islam or Islamism as Islamophobia

False links

To those who still entertain the fallacy that there is a link between poverty or lack of opportunity and Islamic terror, I would like to remind them that Osama Bin Laden was a millionaire, the current leader of Al-Qaeda, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, comes from a well-off middle class family, as did Anwar al-Awlaqi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, and many more Islamist leaders.

And to those who claim lack of democracy is another reason for Islamic terror or radicalisation, I refer them to the many European Muslims who joined the ranks of global jihad.

… the Muslim Brotherhood… continues to enjoy the full rights and freedoms of democracy while working to undermine that same democracy by brainwashing the minds of young European Muslims, inculcating into them the ideas of jihad, Muslim victimhood and Islamic superiority.

Take the most recent example of French Muslims who perpetrated the barbaric horrors in Paris, or the British Muslim dubbed “Jihadi John” (Muhammad Emwazi) who beheaded American hostages in Syria: it is not the abject poverty of Yemen, Egypt or Waziristan, not lack of opportunity and certainly not the lack of democracy that drove him to jihadist criminality: he grew up in one of the most democratic societies in the world.

The likes of Emwazi are the agents of a pernicious ideology called Islamism, an ideology that thrives in our midst in Western societies. The main carrier of this virus is an organisation called the Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to enjoy the full rights and freedoms of democracy while working to undermine that same democracy by brainwashing the minds of young European Muslims, inculcating into them the ideas of jihad, Muslim victimhood and Islamic superiority.

If the West really wants to stop the recruiting to Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, it knows where to go and what it should do. Islamism is extremism. There is no such thing as moderate Islamists. Stop believing in Muslim Brotherhood propaganda and its apologists in Western think-tanks.

Islam and Islamism

Another fallacy is that Islamism is not Islam. The answer is yes and no.

Islamism draws upon, and is sustained by, the canonical texts of mainstream Islam. That is why it is difficult to challenge it from within Islam.

Only if there is radical overhaul of Islamic teachings to bring them into line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can you deny Islamism the legitimacy it currently enjoys.

There are plenty of textual and historical evidence to justify the use of the sword against infidels or those perceived as the enemies. And once you designate anyone as such using Islamic texts (as the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda and Islamic State often do) you cannot challenge them by playing the same game of textual quotation. Textual evidence weighs in their favour.

There is no shortage of texts that are, by modern standards, pretty nasty. Only if there is radical overhaul of Islamic teachings to bring them into line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can you deny Islamism the legitimacy it currently enjoys.

That is not happening, and is unlikely to happen any time soon. Only a cultural and religious revolution can pave the way for such change. As long as the fundamental dogma of Islam and its teachings are understood literally – meaning what was valid in 7th century Arabia is valid today – Islamism will thrive.

This way – to use a concept from biblical exegesis – the letter killeth the spirit in Islam.

That should be bad news for Muslims, and for all of us.


*Magdi Abdelhadi is a political commentator .

An earlier version of this article was first published on Magdi Abdelhadi’s blog, Excavations. The version here is published by permission of Magdi Abdelhadi.

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