Many Westerners cling to the myth that there is a good Islam and a bad Islam, and it just depends on how we interpret the Koran and the Hadiths, and not what these writings actually teach. One friend asked me what I thought about a David Brooks column on this subject. Here’s my response:
I have major problems with David Brooks’ analysis. He fails to engage Islam and Koranic writings, the self-professed rationale for the deeds of the terrorists. Instead, of engaging the real problem, Brooks launches into psycho-speculation:
- A beheading feels different because it reveals something about the minds of the killers. The journalist Lance Morrow once wrote that “evil is often happiest when it operates in the autonomy of the gratuitous.”
This represents the Western avoidance of dealing with Islam as it is. Instead, this is what the Koran says:
- [Surah 47:4] “So when you meet (in fight…Jihad in Allah’s Cause) those who disbelieve smite at their necks [behead] till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them; i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time for) either generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom (according to what benefits Islam) until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection.] But if it had been Allah’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost…”
- [Surah9:5] “Then kill the Mushrikun [Polytheists and Trinitarians] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for then each and every ambush. But if they repent and offer prayers perfectly and give Zakat, then leave their way free …[9:29] Fight against those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
- [Surah 4.89] “They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back [from Islam], then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.”
ISIS has taken their script right out of the holy writings of Islam, and they claim as much! However, Brooks and other Western commentators will not take them at face value. Instead, Brooks prefers to dream about a “superior version of Islam”:
- But, ultimately, the Islamists are a spiritual movement that will have to be surmounted by a superior version of Islam.
Those who defend Islam claim that the many violent Jihadic verses are just a matter of interpretation. This is very idyllic but unrealistic. While everything must be submitted to a process of interpretation, this doesn’t mean that any interpretation is as accurate as the next. In fact, when we study Shakespeare or any literature, our aim is to determine what the author meant, not what interpretation we find more pleasing or more “superior.” However, it is quite clear what Mohammad and his followers meant – bloody Jihad, and, sadly, ISIS, al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Shabaab all got it right. That’s why they are getting all of the recruits.