In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.
THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE
The Islamic State
The Islamic State (commonly but erroneously known as ISIS, an acronym for its former and rejected name, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham [the Levant]) is best known for its audacious attempt from 2014 to 2017 to restore the caliphate. It declared its caliphate in the territory it controlled in Iraq and Syria on June 29, 2014, the same day it issued an explanatory document entitled “This is the Promise of Allah.”
The declaration asserted that the caliphate frees human beings from oppression and subjugation: it is meant “for the purpose of compelling the people to do what the Sharia (Allah’s law) requires of them concerning their interests in the hereafter and worldly life, which can only be achieved by carrying out the command of Allah, establishing His religion, and referring to His law for judgment.”
Before Islam, according to “This is the Promise of Allah,” the Arabs were weak and disunited; once they accepted Islam, Allah granted them unity and power… The God of this ummah (—the best of peoples—) yesterday is the same God of the ummah today, and the One who gave it victory yesterday is the One who will give it victory today.” Accordingly, “The time has come for those generations that were drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people, after their long slumber in the darkness of neglect—the time has come for them to rise.” The “vilest of all people” is a Qur’anic epithet for the “unbelievers among the People of the Book”—that is, Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians who do not become Muslims (98:6).
The Islamic State exhorted all Muslims to join in the caliphate and give it allegiance, as the Mahdi in Sudan and so many other Muslim revivalists had throughout Islamic history:
“So rush O Muslims and gather around your khalifah, so that you may return as you once were for ages, kings of the earth and knights of war.… By Allah, if you disbelieve in democracy, secularism, nationalism, as well as all the other garbage and ideas from the west, and rush to your religion and creed, then by Allah, you will own the earth, and the east and west will submit to you. This is the promise of Allah to you. This is the promise of Allah to you.”
Less than a week after declaring itself the caliphate, the Islamic State gave the world a look at the new caliphate, releasing a video on July 5, 2014, of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi speaking in the twelfth-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul.
He said that after the fall of the last caliphate, “the disbelievers were able to weaken and humiliate the Muslims, dominate them in every region, plunder their wealth and resources, and rob them of their rights.” They did this by “attacking and occupying their lands, placing their treacherous agents in power to rule the Muslims with an iron fist, and spreading dazzling and deceptive slogans such as: civilization, peace, co-existence, freedom, democracy, secularism, nationalism, and patriotism, among other false slogans. Those rulers continue striving to enslave the Muslims, pulling them away from their religion with those slogans.”
The warriors of jihad should not worry about the formidable military might of the infidels, because success would come through obedience to Allah, not by means of weapons:
“O soldiers of the Islamic State, do not be awestruck by the great numbers of your enemy, for Allah is with you. I do not fear for you the numbers of your opponents, nor do I fear your neediness and poverty, for Allah (the Exalted) has promised your Prophet (peace be upon him) that you will not be wiped out by famine, and your enemy will not himself conquer you and violate your land. Allah placed your provision under the shades of your spears.”
He called upon them also to “persevere in reciting the Quran with comprehension of its meanings and practice of its teachings. This is my advice to you. If you hold to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills.”
The Islamic State is Not Islamic
U.S. and Western European leaders immediately denied that the Islamic State had anything to do with Islam. “ISIL does not operate in the name of any religion,” said Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf in August 2014. “The president has been very clear about that, and the more we can underscore that, the better.” CIA director John Brennan said in March 2015: “They are terrorists, they’re criminals. Most—many—of them are psychopathic thugs, murderers who use a religious concept and masquerade and mask themselves in that religious construct. Let’s make it very clear that the people who carry out acts of terrorism—whether it be al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant—are doing it because they believe it is consistent with what their view of Islam is. It is totally inconsistent with what the overwhelming majority of Muslims throughout the world [believe].” In September 2014, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius announced: “This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists.”
The Islamic State professed contempt and amusement over all this confusion and denial. In his September 21, 2014, address calling for jihad strikes in the U.S. and Europe, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad Adnani ridiculed John Kerry (“that uncircumcised old geezer”) and Barack Obama for declaring that the Islamic State was not Islamic, as if they were Islamic authorities.
And indeed, everything the Islamic State did was clearly based on Islamic texts and teachings. Its public beheadings applied the Qur’an’s directive: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks.” (47:4)
Similar calculations hold true regarding the Islamic State’s practice of kidnapping Yazidi and Christian women and pressing them into sex slavery. The Qur’an says straightforwardly that in addition to wives (“two or three or four”), Muslim men may enjoy the “captives of the right hand” (4:3, 4:24). These are specified as being women who have been seized as the spoils of war (33:50) and are to be used specifically for sexual purposes, as men are to “guard their private parts except from their wives or those their right hands possess.” (23:5–6).
If these women are already married, no problem. Islamic law directs that “when a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.”
On December 15, 2014, the Islamic State released a document entitled “Clarification [regarding] the Hudud”—that is, punishments Allah specifies in the Qur’an. Blasphemy against Islam was punishable by death. Adulterers were to be stoned to death; fornicators would be given one hundred lashes and exile. Sodomy (homosexuality) was also to be punished by death, as per Muhammad’s reported words: “If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.”
The Islamic State’s rapid success was partly attributable to its fidelity to Islam and partly also to its financial backing, which came, predictably enough, in great part from Saudi Arabia. In August 2014, Hillary Clinton wrote to John Podesta, an adviser to President Barack Obama: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [Isis] and other radical Sunni groups in the region. This effort will be enhanced by the stepped-up commitment in the [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious US pressure.”
But nothing was done.
At its height, the Islamic State controlled a territory larger than Great Britain and attracted thirty thousand foreign fighters from a hundred countries to travel to Iraq and Syria to join the caliphate. It gained the allegiance of other jihad groups in Libya, Nigeria, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Muslims took its apparent success as a sign of Allah’s favor: the caliphate had indeed returned.
It didn’t last long, however. When Donald Trump replaced Barack Obama as president of the United States, Iraqi forces and others began rolling up Islamic State strongholds, such that within a year of the beginning of the Trump presidency, the Islamic State had lost ninety-eight percent of its territory. The jihad threat posed by the Islamic State did not lessen, however, as those foreign fighters who survived returned to their home countries, often welcomed back by Western leaders who were convinced that kind treatment would compel them to turn away from jihad.
The Jihad Continues
In any case, the Islamic State was gone from Iraq and Syria, but the dream of the caliphate and the obligation to jihad remained, and other Muslims were quite willing, even eager, to take up arms in service of both.
The early twenty-first century saw a sharp rise in jihad massacres perpetrated all over the West by individuals or small groups of Muslims: in London, Manchester, Paris, Toulouse, Nice, Amsterdam, Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Copenhagen, Malmö, Stockholm, Turku (in Finland), Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Beslan, among other places. Filmmaker Theo van Gogh was massacred on an Amsterdam street in 2004 for offending Islam; as mentioned previously, the cartoonists of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered in Paris in January 2015 for the same offense. In July 2016, Islamic jihadists murdered a French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, at the altar of his church for the crime of being Christian.
After each one of these atrocities, the local and national authorities called for prayer vigils and vowed their resolve against the “terrorists” of unspecified ideology, but they did nothing to address the immigration and appeasement policies that had led to these attacks in the first place.
As crime rates skyrocketed and jihad terror attacks became an increasingly common feature of the landscape in Europe, authorities all over the West seemed more concerned with making sure their people did not think negatively about Islam than defending them against the jihad onslaught.
The failure of today’s leadership and the international media to inform the public about what was really going on was an abdication of responsibility unparalleled in history, and one that rebuked the leaders throughout history who died to defend their people from the advancing jihad.