Wednesday, January 2, 2008


From The Challenge of Islam
by Mordechai Nisan

The Muslims’ assault world-wide cannot be expected to die a natural death. Believing their religion to be dictated from Allah on high is not as innocuous as it may sound to other monotheists and believers in revelation. For the Muslims, we are learning, really take their religion seriously. They cull their determination and fire from a source that is exempt from outside influence or interference. At home, in Arab countries, the Muslim fanatics confront repressive state regimes which block their advance to power. This is the case in Egypt, Algeria, and Syria. Foiled and frustrated from grabbing power in the Middle East, as scholar and commentator Fouad Ajami explained, the Muslim terrorists seek with evermore venom to vent their hated for the West on the turf of infidel Christianity itself.

The vocabulary of our era resonates with Islam and its references. We speak of Hizbullah and Islamic Jihad; Israel contends with the Intifada whose shahid martyrs glorify the Palestinian struggle; Ayatollah Khoumeini and Sheikh Nasrallah are on our lips; and even nominal terms like a fatwa (legal decision) and hijab (woman’s veil) fill the public atmosphere. Arafat’s Muqat’aa Ramallah headquarters assumed the glory of a Palestinian stalingrad in the face of Israel’s siege. The Islamic century has made non-Muslims anxious for the future.

Yet remember, that when confronted by a resolute foe, Muslims often withdraw and founder in fear. Their Bedouin heritage has trained them to exploit weakness, but to pull back from confrontation or any real trial of strength. A “hit-and-run” strategy is the perfect Bedouin mode of action; it is also at the core of Palestinian terrorism the last 50 years.

The daring Swiss explorer of Arabia, John Burckhardt, wrote in 1831 that Bedouin stealth is as real as is Bedouin hospitality: there is no contradiction in these traditional desert qualities.13 Much of Muslim-Arab success in the early history of Islam was facilitated by the enemy surrendering rather than facing the Muslims in battle. The city of Mecca succumbed to Muhammad in 630, Iran collapsed in the face of Arab armies in the early 640s, Spain was penetrated with ease in 711. Damascus, a Byzantine city, was an exception and resisted the Muslim assaults in 636-37 only to open its gates in the end. Much of Europe today has capitulated, while posing as the repository of democracy, tolerance, and human rights.

The Muslims are masters of bluff and bullying, no less of blackmail and threat, in overwhelming a bamboozled adversary. But when faced in battle, as we saw in Iraq in 1991 and in some Palestinian towns in 2002, the Muslims virtually capitulate. In the spring of 2003, US forces overran much of Iraq with relative military ease; but the typical culture-bound Arab response of terrorism was not long in coming.

Classical, legal, and imperial Islam divides the world by a religious conception: between the Domain of Islam (Dar al-Islam), where the Muslims rule and Islam officiates, and the Domain of War (Dar al-Harb), where the Muslims are subject to foreign rule until effectively expediting the ultimate triumph of Islam. This mental construct is embedded in the minds of Muslims who pray in mosques in Jersey City and Los Angeles, Jerusalem and Beirut, London and Marseilles. Where Muslims reside, they must rule. If Islam will dominate the land of Israel and the lands of Christendom, then the world will more and more become Dar al-Islam. Peace will then be the result of conquest.

The Challenge of Islam

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