Monday, February 06, 2006

Okay - THIS is my last Islam post for a while . . .

Hugh Hewitt says:

The debate begins with these questions: Are we at war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam?

My answers and the answers of any sensible person ought to be "no," and "no." I'd like to see blogggers who are opining on the caroons answer these questions up front.

Fair enough. My own answers are: "I think so," and "no, I don't, at least in one sense, but in another sense, yes." Oof. This'll take some explaining.

The famailiar tropes, which I wish I could believe, are:

[1] Islam is being hijacked by a radical minority.

[2] The real Islam is a religion of peace.

[3] "Jihad" is primarily a spiritual movement, and only falsely interpreted as a bloody, physical one by said radicals.

Sounds great, except it's not true. Historically, Islam's birth and expansion was bloody. Jihad is officially warlike, and I use the word "officially" carefully. Courtesy of Andrew G. Bostom's "The Legacy of Jihad" (p. 28) comes this little passage from Bat Ye'or that offers what Bostom calls the "thematic structure" of modern pro-Islam apologetics:

Historical negationsim consisting of suppressing or sketching in a page or a paragraph, one thousand years of jihad which is presented as peaceful conquest, generally welcomed by vanquished populations; the omission of Christian and, in particular, Muslim sources describing the actual methods of these conquests: pillage, enslavement, deportation, massacres, and so on; the mythical historical conversion of "centuries" of "peaceful coexistence," masking the processes which transformed majorities into minorities, constantly at risk of extinction; an obligatory self-incrimination for the crusades.

Now, I realize that I am as far from being an authority on Things Islam as a person can be, and that my opinions are only the tiniest bit informed, but what little I do know leads me to understand that, ultimately, that larger portion of modern Islam which more or less comfortably subscribes to the three "tropes" I mentioned above is no more the "real" Islam than the spiritually dead and almost-completely empty protestant churches of Europe are the "real" Christian faith that Jesus founded.

In other words, the radicals ain't radical - they're the real historical deal, even if they are more or less in the minority.

For the bloody jihadists, centuries of Islamic thought and the imposition and codification of dhimmitude is on their side. The real radicals, historically speaking, are the ones who won't chop a head or two off to spread the kingdom of Allah.

The sad thing is that if we do reach a point where we get Islam to stop freaking out over things like political cartoons lampooning Muhammad, we'll have reached a point where a billion people have lost something of their faith.

The real issue is, what have we to offer them to fill the vacuum that the failure of jihad will create?

The question is ALWAYS a religious one, isn't it?

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