In an interview on his book, Islamic Jihad, with well-known scholar of Islam, Bill Warner, author M. A. Khan talks about his mission of fighting Islamic radicalism: why the battle against radical Islam is not succeeding, and what is needed to fight this battle once and for all...
This interview first appeared at Political Islam.
When I read MA Khan's new book, Islamic Jihad, I was struck by two things, the high quality of his scholarship and an emerging historical trend.
Khan is firmly in the Foundationalist School of scholarship. He does not indulge opinion, but bases his work on the Islamic doctrine of jihad and its historical effects on civilization, with a focus on the destruction of India. He investigates and documents two little known areas--the Sufis and the enslavement of the Hindus.
The excellence of his book is part of an historic pattern. When Islam attacked us on September 11, 2001 we were unprepared for war. Our intellectuals were spineless dhimmis who have been bought and paid for by the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, and as a result, were apologists and not able to defend our civilization.
However, in one of the more remarkable intellectual events in history, a new type of intellectual was drawn into the study of Islam. Trained critical and scientific thinkers who were amateurs in the field of Islam applied their critical reasoning to this subject and produced a wealth of excellent books and articles. The new Islamic scholarship was fact-driven and took up Islam's challenge of war.
Khan's Islamic Jihad is an excellent intellectual weapon.
BW: Welcome Mr. Khan. Tell us about your motivation behind writing this book.
Khan: Thank you Bill giving me this opportunity to share my thoughts on the kind of danger the progressive world faces from an Islamic resurgence and how we deal with it.
What we are witnessing today in Muslim countries-namely in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Sudan etc-is the Talibanization or Saudization of the society, i.e., the establishment of Sharia in all spheres of life and society. In other Muslim countries, the demand for the same is solidifying; in a few decades, the face of the entire Islamic world will dramatically change.
The Islamic world is heading toward that which it embraces: Islam as a complete code of life, as believed by every Muslim. This transformation seems inescapable at this moment. But our major concern now is the infidel world, particularly the West. The native population in Europe is declining from low birthrate, while Muslims are procreating at unbridled rates. In the UK, Muslim population is increasing 10 times faster than the rest; the trend should be similar in other Western European countries. And where does this lead? By the middle of this century, Muslims will become the largest religious group in Europe.
And what will happen under that circumstance? We can easily make a guess. Take the example of Pakistan: in elections, only 10% of Pakistanis support parties that seek to institute Sharia rule. Now look at Britain: some 40% of the Muslims support Sharia rule, with only 37% opposed. This figure, I believe, is skewed to a good extent as Muslims don't speak the truth. Nonetheless, what these figures mean is that a much greater proportion of Muslims living in the West are Sharia-loving or Taliban minded as compared to those living in Islamic countries like Pakistan or Afghanistan. Therefore, unless the mentality of Western Muslims changes drastically in coming decades, which is unlikely, the Talibanization of Europe would become an inescapable reality by the middle of this century, undoubtedly spreading to North America, Australia, Russia and India.
We know what Sharia means to civilized humanity. We witness it in Saudi Arabia; we witness it in Afghanistan under the Taliban; we witness it in Talibanized areas of Pakistan. We clearly know that the plight of women-Muslim or not-would become worse. Treatment of non-Muslims is horrible and extremely degrading under Sharia rule: it is happening in Taliban-occupied regions in Pakistan. The Hindus and Sikhs are being subjected to humiliating jizya, which is an exorbitant discriminatory tax for the security of the life and property of non-Muslims in Islamic state (see Quran 9:29). The Taliban attacked the Sikh community in Orakzai for failing to pay the demanded jizya, slayed the men, took possession of their homes and properties, and enslaved the women and children, in accordance with the Quranic commands (33:26) and Muhammad's example of dealing with the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraiza [M.A. Khan, Islamic Jihad, p47-49]. Thousands of Hindus have already relocated to India in recent months in order to escape the Taliban oppression.
What is at stake today is obviously the Talibanization of globe-that is, the establishment of the governance of the Quran and Sunnah (i.e. Sharia) globally-which is a central demand of the Quran (2:193, 8:39), and the ultimate goal of Islam. And that will be the worst disaster ever to befall humankind. Therefore, averting this Talibanization of the world, which seems inescapable at this moment unless something drastic happens, should be the central concern for the civilized humanity as I see it. My book is an effort to make the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim, understand what Jihad, the scourge of our time, truly means for our future and take real measures to defeat it.
BW: How do you think we must fight battle?
Khan: In recent years, many ingenious measures have been tried and are being tried: the global war on terror, regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq for spreading freedom, democracy and modernity, and efforts to engage and work with the so-called moderate Muslims for winning the hearts and minds of the wider Muslim community etc. But nothing is working; since the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., the number of Jihadis, in the form of numerous radical Islamic groups around the world, are increasing exponentially. The overall Muslim mindset is also becoming increasingly radicalized everywhere, including the West.
There are also many initiatives amongst the so-called moderate Muslims to reform Islam. Many of these Muslims are also making rewarding careers in the guise of their phony reform campaigns. But attempts at reformation as occurred in Christianity, which was basically going back to the root, the originality of the religion, makes things worse in the case of Islam. A genuine and successful effort by the brilliant Saudi scholar Abdul Wahhab (1703-91) to reform Islam, in the mold of reformation of Christianity by Martin Luther (1483-1546), gave birth to Wahhabism, the Islamic scourge that we are confronting today. Efforts to reform Islam away from orthodoxy, i.e., along a rational and humanistic line, have been tried by some powerful Islamic rulers, namely the Baghdad caliphs, al-Mamun, al-Mutassim and al-Wathik (813-847), as well as Akbar the Great in India. They were the greatest monarchs in the world of their time and ruthlessly dictatorial. While they effected some positive changes during their rule, soon after their departure, it was all overturned. Islamic orthodoxy struck back with greater brutality and horror in every instance.
Thus, efforts at reformation have worsened the situation or failed. Any new attempt at reforming Islam is meaningless today because Muslims are becoming well-educated and can read the Quran, which has been translated in all major languages, by themselves. They are no less intelligent than the "reformers" and can understand what the verses of the Quran truly mean. Reformation in the age of modern education is a meaningless exercise and is destined to failure.
What might work, something that has not been tried, is what I personally call 'shaming the Muslims out of Islam'. Islam is a horrible and shameful ideology, unfit for the civilized world. But most Muslims, who are average human beings, do not know what is actually in the Quran and Sunnah, or, they have never analyzed the contents of Islam's fundamental texts critically. They have no idea what it means to be a true Muslim and how shameful it is in the modern civilized conscience. If they are made aware of the true nature of Islam, they will leave this barbaric and dehumanizing cult in large numbers. Islam will be condemned to the dustbin of history where it always belonged.
This is the only measure that has not been tried. And I have been trying exactly that in my Website, islam-watch.org (founded November 2005): "Telling the Truth about Islam". And my book, Islamic Jihad, is also an extension of that effort. I have convincing evidence that it will work.
BW: Would you elaborate on the shaming of Muslims and how it would work?
Khan: If you look closely at the history of Islam, you would realize that Islamic orthodoxy, with its violent underpinnings of Jihad, has tremendous resilience. As elaborated already, every attempt to reform it from within was followed by its resurgence with greater ferocity. From the 19th century onward, the European colonial powers did effect significant changes in the Islamic world like the equality of religions, liberation of slaves, and the ideas of secularism, progressiveness and modernity. But after colonial withdrawal, these positive changes are all being over turned. Humanity is now being threatened by Islamic orthodoxy and its Jihadis, on a scale unprecedented in history.
What these factors tell us is that attempt to reform and secularize Islam is not only doomed to failure, but its survival in any form will turn calamitous to humanity. So those, who care for our progressive and modernist civilization, particularly those in position of power, must understand this critical factor while dealing with Islam. We probably have time, this time round, to save humanity from the ongoing scourge of Islam, albeit sustaining damages of whatsoever scale it may be, we will be left with no such option if Islam has another opportunity to strike.
So the need of the hour is to break the back of Islam once and for all. And here comes into play the idea of 'shaming the Muslims out of Islam'. What we need is to discredit Islam root and branch, to the level of cells and atoms. This is not difficult to achieve. Simply telling the truth about Islam will do.
I have already mentioned: 'Islam is a horrible and shameful ideology, unfit for the civilized world.' The thing is, most Muslims have little idea of what Islam truly is, what it means to be a true Muslim. Most of them, particularly outside the Arab world, are ignorant about Islam; very few of them read the basic texts of Islam with a proper understanding. They know about Islam mainly from hearsay as part of their growing up. And when it comes to living their life, they are under tremendous influence of the kafir world from their surrounding, through the media, through all the goodies the kafir world bring to them.
At the same time, they also remain indoctrinated rather subconsciously with the cardinal thoughts in Islam, namely:
Islam is a complete code of life,
Islam is the perfect religion and Muhammad was the ideal man for all time; therefore, both are beyond questioning or criticism,
Only Muslims are destined to receive God's succor, and
Islam will eventually dominate the world, i.e. all people will become Muslim some day.
This subconscious indoctrination of the so-called moderate or liberal majority of Muslims easily plays into the hands of the extremists. When the extremists make noise on the ground that the prophet has been defamed or blasphemed or that Islam has been insulted, both being perfect and beyond finger-pointing in their subconscious mind, they too join the orgasmic frenzy with the extremists. We have seen this in the controversy over Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses, and more recently, over the printing of Prophet Muhammad's cartoons in a Danish paper or Pope Benedict's comment on Muhammad.
I think that this so-called moderate variety of Muslims can easily be dissociated from Islam. What we need to do is to say the truth that Islam is not a "religion of peace" as goes the popular discourse, but a barbaric, inhuman and uncivilized cult; that Muhammad was not a noble, a perfect man for all time, but he was a brutal plunderer and mass-murderer lusting for power, wealth and sex; that he was a sex-maniac with a pedophilic urge for a kid as young as six when he was in his 50s and not far from death; that Islam, as initiated by Prophet Muhammad, is a barbaric institution of imperialism, forced conversion, and slavery and sex-concubinage. Islam, as depicted in its sacred texts, is more horrifying than this.
What we need is to hold the pages of the Quran, prophetic traditions and biographies, and Islamic history bare to Muslims and to the world. This will be enough to shame the Muslims out of Islam.
Why would this work? Let me start with my own example. I was one such liberal/moderate Muslim. When 9/11 occurred, I felt that the attack was rather justified because of the United States' unjust policies toward the Palestinians. I was lucky, I should say, that I was already involved in some internet groups that were critical of Islam. But after the 9/11 attacks, as critical analysis of Islam, the Quran and hadiths flourished dramatically, I became a defender of Islam for quite some time. I continued to resist looking into the basic texts of Islam, the Quran, Sunnah and Muhammad's biographies for 2-3 years. But I eventually read them, and I was shattered and frustrated with myself. I was ashamed because the Quran reads like a manual of unconditional war against non-Muslims, Muhammad was one of the most horrible, if not the worst, human being in the history of mankind. And I had believed that Islam was the most perfect and peaceful religion, a perfect code to human life, for 35+ years of my life.
For a Muslim, living Islam is the most difficult thing in the world, and this was the case with me. Only when I read the basic text of Islam and understood its truth was I able to leave Islam with ease. If I hadn't read these texts, I couldn't have mastered the courage to leave Islam despite the horrible things Muslim Jihadis continued to perpetrate, or howsoever hard the critics would criticize those fanatics.
Similarly, after reading my website, islam-watch.org, and faithfreedom.org etc.-websites that focus on the criticisms of Islam based on its foundations: the Quran, the Sunnah, and Prophet Muhammad-many Muslims are leaving Islam, even some potential suicide-bombers and mosque imams amongst them. I have testimonies from Muslims, who considered themselves "Muslims for life" just a couple of months ago, that they would never leave the most fulfilling creed of Islam. But after reading my book, which basically expose the true nature of Jihad against the popular discourse that it is a peaceful struggle with the self, against vice, for eradication of poverty, for human rights and women's rights etc., they found their whole life, based on a lie, was shattered. Their faith in Islam was shattered.
So the challenge in front of us is to bare the foundation of the Islamic creed in front of these so-called moderate/liberal Muslims and to make them read the foundational texts of Islam. Once they do that, a majority of them will find their faith in Islam shattered. And there it begins: the collapse of Islam like a castle of sands. Humanity will be rescued from its lasting horrors once and for all.
BW: There has been a good deal of truth-telling about Islam since the 9/11. But it is not working so far; we are not winning the battle. What do you think is need to be done?
Khan: That's absolutely true. A lot of literature has been produced, particularly in the form of books, telling the truth about Islam. But you must also take into account that a much greater volume of literature has been produced, selling the lies of Islam. Let me emphasize that for 'shaming the Muslims out of Islam', we need books and literature focusing the Quran, Sunnah and Islamic history, books like Ibn Warraq's Why I Am Not A Muslim, Andrew Bostom's Legacy of Jihad, Dr. Ali Sina's Understanding Muhammad, and probably my Islamic Jihad. Very few penetrative books of this type, except those of Ibn Warraq and Bostom, have been successful. Most books of this type are not picked up by reputed publishers, fearing Muslim backlash; they are often being self-published published and receive little attention. Most important factor of all is that very few Muslims, who in general have a very poor book-buying and reading habit, buy books like these.
Therefore, those books, telling the truth about Islam, have very little impact on Muslims, our prime target. On the other hand, books telling the lies about Islam, which are produced in much larger volumes and the media is eager to promote, are the books that most Muslims and non-Muslims buy. So we have, on the whole, a nullification of the impact of truth-telling books by the lies-telling ones.
And when it comes to the news media, which Muslims read to a large extent: there the truth-telling is largely absent; lies-telling is overwhelmingly prevalent. Our mainstream media (MSM) is based on lies, on falsehood, when it comes to the coverage of Islam. And whatever little truth-telling is done, very little of it is focused on the foundational texts and doctrines of Islam.
The MSM is the biggest culprit, the biggest accomplice, in the success of radical Islam. They are most eager to circulate the messages-audio-tapes and videos etc.-of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other top al-Qaeda and radical Islamic leaders and ideologues as such. And getting these messages to Muslim audience, harboring potential recruits, is crucial to the success, with which the radical Islamic agenda is progressing. At the same time, the MSM rigorously filter out the few voices that are trying to focus their criticism on the foundations of Islam, criticism that will matter in enlightening both Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam and in shaming the Muslims out of it.
The same goes with the internet. It has played tremendous role in the success of al-Qaeda and like-minded radical Islamic groups in spreading their messages, which is the linchpin of their tremendous success in popularizing their violent mission and recruiting cadres. While the truth-tellers have some success there, where they can spread their messages with relative freedom, but there are only few such websites with limited readership against a deluge of pro-Islam and militant Islamic websites. And most of all, the truth-telling websites are banned in most Islamic countries, and even in the West. For example, most educational institutions in Australia have banned all truth-telling websites, namely faithfreedom.org, thereligionofpeace.com, jihadwatch.org, islam-watch.org and islammonior.org amongst others categorizing them as hate-sites.
So, it will become clear why we are not making significant ground in our truth-telling efforts. The outcome of this battle, I think, will be determined by the media. We must recognize that the investment of hundreds of billions of dollars annually in strengthening intelligence apparatus, tightening security and the war of terror is going waste. Some of these measures are also working counter to their intended objectives, by helping the radicalization of the Muslim mind on various grievances, howsoever unjustified they may be. And of course, it is causing loss of lives in large numbers on both sides.
In the media, we can kill this menace with a small fraction of the investment and with much less loss in life and properties. The battle can be won with ease. Muslims can ignore the noise made by truth-tellers, often discredited as fringe Muslim-hating Islamophobes, in a negligible few and little-known websites, but they cannot ignore the Mainstream Media. When the truth-tellers get the opportunity to bare the fundamental sacred texts of Islam in the pages of the MSM to show how horrible and barbaric the cult of Islam is, Muslims at all levels would be forced to defend their creed by looking into those texts. Every attempt to defend Islam would lead to their enlightenment about the filth and inhumanity that lies at its heart.
We have more than convincing evidence to affirm that the so-called peaceful majority of moderate/liberal Muslims, ashamed, frustrated, and angered of what they have unwittingly believed for their whole life, would start leaving Islam en masse. The West's problem would be solved in a decade or two with the collapse of Islam; I can challenge you on that. From there, the remedy to the Islamic problem in the rest of the world, including Muslim countries, would soon begin.
The fact is that the Islamists have tremendous advantages against the truth-tellers in every aspect of this battle. The truth-tellers are fighting this battle against mountainous odds: their opponents have annual investment of billions of dollars against zero on their own side; the Islamists have almost all the ground in the MSM, the decisive battleground of this struggle.
I realize that there is little chance of this changing at all. The future of this battle remains hugely tilted toward the Islamist side as of now. The Talibanization of the globe remain an inescapable possibility unless circumstances changes drastically, possibly horribly.
BW: Thank you for enlightening us, Mr. Khan.