Two millennia ago, the Jerusalemite Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah said: “To whom may a man who has good deeds and has studied much Torah be compared? To a man who lays stones first for a foundation and then lays bricks over them, so that however much water may collect at the side of the building, it will not wash away. Contrariwise, he who has no good deeds even though he has studied much Torah – to whom may he be compared? To a man who in building lays bricks first and then heaps stones over them, so that even if a little water collects, it at once undermines the structure.”
Indeed, the enduring tragedy of Islam is that its founder Mohammed did not establish a solid foundation for his totally closed system of proscribed human behavior. Instead, he tried to reconcile the Arabian Peninsula’s primitive culture with his individualized and narcissistic notions of human redemption. The result was and still remains a religion based on blind faith without even the slightest opening for intellectual curiosity. This imbalance between absolute obedience to an Almighty Creator and man’s desire for free agency had prevented all Muslim societies from progressing toward democracy based on collective and individual freedoms, independent judiciary, and the exercise of basic humanity. Consequently, in Islam, faith and modernity are in permanent conflict. The products of this conflict are the vicious civil war within Islam and the terrorism unleashed by Muslim fanatics on Western democracies.
Therefore, from its first manifestation as a political entity in Medina, the history of Islam had always been marked by totalitarianism at home and terrorism abroad. The explanation for the first is simple: because of its inherent contradictions, no Islamic regime had been able to survive without the political, religious and economic instruments of internal repression. Concerning terrorism abroad, it had always been used as a weapon of Islam to spread the politics of hatred. With the slogan “Sovereignty belongs to none but Allah”, Muslim theologians from Ibn Taymiya on had elevated Jihad, holy war against apostate Muslims as well as all non-Muslims, to the same level as the five basic canonical prescriptions (prayer, the confession of faith, fasting, charity to the poor, and the pilgrimage, or hajj). By this radical interpretation, Ibn Taymiya and his 19th, 20th and 21st century followers had turned politics into the exclusive domain of the divine. Iran’s Mullahcracy and all the Islamic terrorist organizations had justified their Jihad against the rest of the world by claiming that nation-states, democracy, secularization, are contrary to the commandments of the Quran, and thus absolutely illegitimate.
By this logic, Muslims are entitled to rule over the world because of the exclusivity of their religion, and not because of the superiority of their religion’s content. Clearly, in this absolute theocentrism, God’s absoluteness dooms every human being to absolute nothingness. Yet, Iran’s insane Mullahcracy, the Taliban’s destructive totalitarianism, al Qaeda’s negation of the past and the present, and ISIS’s nihilism have made a caricature out of God and have raised the specter of the total annihilation of humanity.
In the same vein, in the Middle East, it had never been safe to cling to national identity connected to territorial boundaries. The collapse of Arab nationalism in the early 1980s and the Palestinian civil war in Jordan and Lebanon had signaled the beginning of a different type of Jihad, devoid of any national ethos. In it, the national past and present had been abolished and had given rise to the global dimension of an Islamic empire, the resurrection of the idea of the Islamic Caliphate. In the 1980s and 1990s, this global Jihad for Islam had been expanded to Afghanistan, Kosovo, Chechnya, a significant part of Africa, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and South and North America.
Currently, in the crossroads of divine Islamic legitimacy and primitive Wahhabism the most catastrophic theory of religious hatred toward mankind have been created. This religious hatred touches on everything. Everything must be annihilated, except the internecine words of God as are pronounced in the Quran. “We have sent down/ To thee the Book explaining/ All things, a Guide, a Mercy” (16, 89). Moreover, “This day have I/ Perfected your religion/ For you, completed/ My favor upon you/ And have chosen for you/ Islam as your religion” (Quran, V, 3). Mankind has no choice. Deprived of all autonomy, every individual must submit and spread Islam’s absolute superiority.
A religion that is based on these theories, and a government anchored in its principles can never be stable, because it can only be maintained by the terror of the sword. Indeed, the Quran contains 164 verses with invocations to violence. With the cruelty that still characterizes the Middle East towards anybody showing the slightest deviation from what is acceptable for the autocracy, these Jihad verses of the Quran have transformed the men of faith, already 1400 years ago, into the gangsters of an unforgiving duty to brutality, greed, and dissimulation. Predictably, the moral confusion engendered by the Quran’s rhetoric had prevented a peaceful solution to the eternal dilemma of Islam, namely, the establishment of normal relations with those of other faiths, particularly Christians and Jews.
All this leaves the approximately 80% non-Muslim population of the globe to oscillate between their natural inclination for peace, understanding and cooperation, and the unforgiving terrorism of the other 20%. The fact that the object of these differences has become increasingly political, further complicates an already explosive situation. American and European politicians are busy practicing creative idiocy concerning Islam and its violent manifestations, while the leaders in the Middle East attending hesitatingly to their internal problems. The latter are mostly devoid of positive political and economic ideas and hope that they could bring about reforms by preserving the status quo. Unfortunately, they cannot think of more efficient solution. The former are not pragmatist, but ideologues, who, like their counterparts in the Middle East, have no ideas at all. They also hope that by playing the moralist, they could somehow and sometime stumble on a solution that would not require decisive political actions that might disturb the status quo. Such are the influences that Islam in general, and Jihadist Islam in particular, are capable of exerting on the world.
In contemplating a viable strategy for the United States the disadvantages of the domestic political climate as well as the pusillanimous attitude of most of Europe are clearly manifest. Any discussion of the realities of the global war waged by Jihadist Islam against the rest of the world is complicated by the tendency of non-Muslim politicians, academics and the media to use the words “democracy” and “Islam” as if they meant similar things. Yet, the difference between the two is unambiguous and perfectly clear. Democracy stands for freedom, Islam demands submission. Islam is incompatible with democracy and freedom. Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion that was born, had been maintained, and can be sustained only by violent repression. Its threat to democracy is real. The very survival of Western civilization depends on its ability to transform Islamic politics into democracy. Nothing less will suffice in this conflict. It is the duty of every American President to protect and preserve “the light of American freedom” for future generations.