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Why Islamism became woke Extremists are using progressive rhetoric to fool the West

A protester wearing a niqab during a Justice for George Floyd demonstration on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)

A protester wearing a niqab during a Justice for George Floyd demonstration on June 11, 2020 in Minneapolis. (Photo by Kerem Yucel / AFP) (Photo by KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images)


July 13, 2021   5 mins

Following ISIS’s demise, Islamists around the world have been forced to radically reassess their strategy against the West. Dashing the utopian hopes of its sympathisers, the fall of the Caliphate has set back the Islamist cause for decades. Just as when many Communists became disillusioned once their ideology had been implemented in the Soviet Union, ISIS’s barbarity can no longer be ignored.

True, even in 2021, some groups such as the resurgent Taliban and Boko Haram — to say nothing of the Iranian regime — remain committed to a type of Islamist militancy that includes an emphasis on violence, with all the human suffering that entails. But for the most part, jihadist militancy has proved unpopular among Muslims, often inviting a violent counter-reaction. Its promise of an Islamist dream state has lost its appeal.

Yet Islamists in the West appear to have found a possible solution that sidesteps, at least for now, the use of explicit violence. The core of this alternative strategy is to focus as much as possible on dawa.

Nearly 20 years after 9/11, Westerners still remain unfamiliar with dawa. In theory, the term simply refers to the call to Islam, a kind of invitation; Westerners would recognise it as part of a proselytising mission. In practice, however, Islamists rely on dawa as a comprehensive propaganda, PR and brainwashing system designed to make all Muslims embrace an Islamist programme while converting as many non-Muslims as possible.

Among Western analysts, dawa — which became a tool of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 20th century — has traditionally received far less attention than militant jihad, though observers have emphasised its importance in the “humanitarian” activities of Hamas.

In Unveiled, the ex-Muslim Yasmine Mohammed compellingly describes her difficult marriage to the Egyptian jihadist Essam Marzouk. Yasmine commented on the rivalry that exists between jihadists (such as her ex-husband) and ostensibly “non-violent” Islamists:

“The truth is that Essam hated the [Muslim] Brotherhood: he thought Islamists were a bunch of pansies. He was actually aligned with a more militant group in Egypt called Al Jihad, who were the Egyptian wing of Al Qaeda. Both Islamists and jihadis have the same goal — to spread Islam — but they have different methods. Islamists want to do this through passive means such as politics, immigration and childbirth.”

This important point is often lost on politicians in Western countries. For no matter what misguided retired CIA officials may claim, groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood are neither moderate organisations nor pluralist partners in civil society. Islamist groups are certainly not likely to prevent the radicalisation of young Muslims. Instead, as one observer noted more than a decade ago, “the history of the Brotherhood movement shows, in fact, that it has operated by and large not as a firewall against jihadism, but as a fertile incubator of radical ideas in a variety of locales”.

In a cynical way, Islamists achieve far more through dawa than when they confine themselves to simply blowing things up and stabbing people to death. The threat is not as obvious. Jihad and the use of violence tend to provoke an immediate response. With dawa, on the other hand, it is possible to talk about charity, spirituality and religion — and then compare it to normal religious proselytising missions. In a free society, what reasonable person would take issue with that?

But dawa is also about building networks: local, regional and international. In The Call, Krithika Varagur revealed both the enormous global scale and opaque nature of these efforts. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has channelled billions of dollars into dawa — with much of it directed into the US.

In the West, these regimes are not given much thought, nor is the Islamist infrastructure in the United States. Nonetheless, Islamism is spreading within Western institutions, and it’s largely thanks to an unlikely alliance: dawa has recognised the alluring power of “woke”, and has started to adopt the language of civil rights and multiculturalism.

Of course, this is not an entirely American phenomenon, but the energy in our progressive movement has taken this cooperation one step further. In France, by contrast, “Islamo-gauchisme” (Islamo-Leftism) is much more likely to be correctly identified as a threat to the model of universal, secular and republican citizenship. In Britain, it remains less prominent, confined to fringe politicians such as George Galloway, who believes that “the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies”.

Yet as historian Daniel Pipes has noted, the relationship between Islamism and extreme Leftism is nothing new. In 2007, Oskar Lafontaine, former chairman of Germany’s Social Democratic party, noted: “Islam depends on community, which places it in opposition to extreme individualism, which threatens to fail in the West. [In addition,] the devout Muslim is required to share his wealth with others. The Leftist also wants to see the strong help the weak.”

But the internal tension between “wokeism” and Islamism is never far away. Just look at Al Jazeera, which uploads documentaries about transgender rights on to its social media channel, while broadcasting sermons suggesting husbands should beat their wives on its Arabic station.

Nevertheless, the two movements do share objectives. Both are anti-West and anti-American. Both have a critical attitude towards “capitalism” based on individualism. True, the Islamists have been around for much longer. But Islamist ideologues are willing to co-operate with non-Muslim Leftists as long as it serves their purposes.

To their credit, some on the Left refuse to countenance Islamism, as they become increasingly aware of the contradiction between supporting universal human rights (including women’s rights) and the demands of Islamists. In France, for example, the centre-Left former Prime Minister Manuel Valls courageously denounced Islamo-Leftism without the least hesitation.

In the United States, however, such vocal opposition from the Left is increasingly rare. Indeed, at the 2019 Netroots Nation conference — America’s “largest annual conference for progressives” — multiple panel discussions and training sessions reflected the Islamist agenda, frequently coalescing around a critique of Israel while neglecting the toxic role played by Hamas in perpetuating the conflict. Meanwhile, Linda Sarsour, a feminist organiser and co-chair of the “Women’s March”, has made her support for Islamism more explicit: “You’ll know when you’re living under Shariah law if suddenly all your loans and credit cards become interest-free. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

In government, too, Islamism’s capture of progressivism has become increasingly clear. Turkey’s Islamist President Erdogan might lead one of the world’s most brutal and repressive regimes, but that hasn’t stopped Ilhan Omar, the Democratic congresswoman from Minnesota, from expressing support for him. No doubt she was inspired by Erdogan last year when he proclaimed that “social justice is in our book”, and that “Turkey is the biggest opportunity for western countries in the fight against xenophobia, Islamophobia, cultural racism and extremism”.

Erdogan, in effect, was explicitly using progressive rhetoric. It’s a move that’s since been mirrored in Iran. The Tehran Times ­— which describes itself as “a loud voice of the Islamic Revolution” — recently attacked former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his “deep-rooted Islamophobia”. And in March, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif “lauded the determination of Islamic countries to address Islamophobia as one of the main challenges facing the Islamic Ummah [community in the West]”. Islamists, in other words, are becoming skilled at wrapping themselves in a mantle of woke words, while engaging in systematic brutality and repression within their own countries.

To this new alliance between Islamism and progressive rhetoric, there is no simple response. Dawa, by its very nature, is inherently more difficult to fight than jihad. But those who believe, as I do, in a free, open, pluralist society need to be aware of the nature and magnitude of this new challenge. After two decades of fighting Islamist terrorism, we have a new and more subtle foe to contend with. Wokeism has long been regarded as a dangerous phenomenon — but only now are we starting to see why.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also the Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her Substack is called Restoration.

Ayaan

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Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
3 years ago

Good article. Thank you for writing it – and for your quiet bravery.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

seconded- and thanks to Unherd for the platform.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Agreed. AHA is enormously brave and her words ring true, identifying “enemies within”. But which is the worse? The self-hating western Left or its puppet master, Islamist bigotry? There are two further points: first, that the Left is entrenched in power across the west, in spite of any election result; and second, that the number of unassimilated migrants continues to grow. Many westerners are at last waking up to the problem, but it may well be too late to avert a horrible future.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Denis
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

And Ayaan if you ever badly need to hideout- here in NZ might be safe.(though you would probably get bored…)

Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
3 years ago
Reply to  chris sullivan

Don’t be daft. Saint Jacinda would grass her up for wrongthink in a heartbeat.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Rocky Rhode

i am not sure of that, Ayaan has the credentials that must be listened to – and Jacinda IS always open to truth as far as i can tell….
I think the main point re Islam is that moderate members MUST take more responsibility for their ‘rogue’ groups if they ever want any credibility in the non-muslim world – and they seem too intimidated to do that so…….

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago

Thanks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, for yet another great article. Please keep them coming! When I talk to friends and relatives who have embraced woke, I have asked them about the compatibility of Islam with their core beliefs: women’s rights/Sharia, anti-slavery/the prophet’s involvement in the slave trade, animal welfare/halal slaughter, etc. None of them is prepared to discuss these issues. They just assume that, eventually, I might “see the light” and, meanwhile, a contemptuous silence is the best way of dealing with the likes of me (I get no ticks in any of the woke boxes).

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

That is an example of a favorite Woke weapon, Cancel Culture.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Francis

Your wokeling friends won’t discuss the point you raise because they know, somewhere at the back of their clouded minds, that it is unanswerable. Second, they have swallowed the lie – felt less as a conviction than as a queasy self-doubt – that all the problems you mention are somehow the west’s fault. Here they instance empire, but without the slightest knowledge. And at the back of all this lies fear – fear that if they are honest, if they step out of line, if they voice support for your views, the others will denounce them as racists, etcetera. If they work for a museum, a paper, a publisher or even a public school this might have real consequences for their livelihoods. And behind all that lurks the sheer institutional potency now enjoyed by the woke religion, not to mention its toxic sophistry whereby “knowledge” is nothing but “power”. Under the terms of this obscene return to magical authority, reason, logic, evidence and fact are held against you, as “white”. The murky depths of current insanity are reaching danger levels. Having argued just such a ninny into a corner, I was told that my “discourse” was “insidious”. I suppose an exasperated realist must have felt as we do in Salem, before being strapped up to the stake.

Last edited 3 years ago by Simon Denis
JP Martin
JP Martin
3 years ago

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a rare voice of sanity in an upside-down world. I’m thankful that Unherd has the courage to publish her writing.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 years ago

Brave woman.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

So how about Zakat? One of the five Pillars of Islam. the tithing of 10% to 2.5% which is directed at Charity – BUT religious education or any evangelizing. or mosque building, or propaganda would be in its remit as charity. Is AlJezra funded with this?

And so the Saudi Whabbi have built and financed madrassas around the world, built mosques and paid the Imams to migrate to them to proselytize (and with a flavor Saudi likes), as I have mentioned before, KSA Zakat created the West Pakistan Madrases, and funded them, where the Taliban were created (Talib means Student). How about that over half UK Imams and Mosques are Deobandi? Who’s money worked that? This stuff is just ignored by the West…..I will not go on about this except to ask… Who financed the mosques, who hired the Imams (got them their work permit in the West, recruted them, subsidize them)? And why Deobandi??? Who got to pick the Imams who will set the tone and Philosophy of the congregation? Will set the school curriculum, – basically be the Islamic philosophy of Muslim migrants to the West? Because it would seem if the British were choosing they would pick much more ‘laid back’ schools of Islam, more intellectual and forward thinking….But instead it is selected by outsiders

How can Dawa be talked of here, but not Zakat? And how about the great, fun, word ‘Taqiyya’? An entire religious concept that is well worth a search, as Islam has a lot of aspects Western people do not understand.

But

True, even in 2021, some groups such as the resurgent Taliban and Boko Haram — to say nothing of the Iranian regime — remain committed to a type of Islamist militancy that includes an emphasis on violence,” So how about the Arab League, PLO and Hamas? Pretty big in the picture to just pass by…

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

AHA’s article never intended to be all-encompassing. Trying to cover too much overwhelms people.
If AHA is too clinical, too academic in her approach, people will tune out.
I know the feeling.
If you want to know why, check out my Involuntary Perfect Crime Showcase Exhibit experience on LinkedIn. Apologies for the plug. I am desperate to raise awareness of privileged government insider criminals’ untouchability in Australia in the 21st century.

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
3 years ago

I join the chorus below and thank UnHerd and Ms Ali for this joint contribution. Much needed.

David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago

On my side of the pond, the islamophilia of the Left, such features of traditional Islam as the death penalty for apostasy and for homoerotic sexual relations notwithstanding, has always struck me as inexplicable except in terms of the old dictum “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. In this case the common enemy is the old Christian civilization of the West.
It is dismaying to see the islamists returning the favor.

Vasiliki Farmaki
Vasiliki Farmaki
3 years ago

Islam hides as religion and marxism as an ideology, the perfect handicap. Who can imagine.. What a boring world would it be! All they do and speak about
 is it not out of extreme phobias ?.. then what could be about? And indeed too much of christian-phobia around
 as well as western-phobia and normal-phobia and white-people-phobia..freedom-phobia .. and democracy-phobia.. Are they ready to take on board those phobias of theirs? The difference between our western democracy and Christianity paradigm is that we take into consideration of others and accept different opinions and world views as positive and creative making the world interesting. We acknowledge that not everybody have gone through, nor want to have an identical course of evolution and history.. And they both taking advantage of our values and principles, working from within to bring us down.
Islam regards half of its followers, women, as second class and are indeed slaves, who made to believe their condition is the correct one. In islam men have all the powers given to them upon women, as a birth right.  It is that kind of ‘impulse’ and mentality which makes islam attractive to men. Similarly, the leftists’ ideology although claiming otherwise, at deep layers, they are anticipating for the collapse of freedom, diversity and free will. Both have the same aim: to be the only ones who speak and give orders to others. Tyranny’s problem is the loathing of creativity, happiness, beauty, truth, freedom..

Brendan Newport
Brendan Newport
3 years ago

The flaw in any conspiracy to have extremist Islamism defeat Western ideals of democracy and secularism is that at the same time, many institutions, particularly universities, such as Cambridge, are coming under the ‘guiding’ influence of the Chinese Communist Party. And the CCP has demonstrated its way of dealing with Muslims, particularly the Uyghurs, who are mostly Sunni Muslims. I suspect that the upper echelons of the CCP realise that if the woke get their way in destroying Western societies, it will likely be militant Islam that gains from it before them, and they’ll be facing a far more unpredictable foe.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

very few European countries outside the west are under threat. The CCP is hostile to the US and not Europe.

wjcorbettjr
wjcorbettjr
3 years ago

If you’ve ever walked down the hair products aisle of a supermarket in Jeddah, where all of the faces of the women on the product packages are blackened out with magic marker, listened to an activist explain how STEM is actually racist or heard a progressive couple describe the ethics of their decision not to have children because of their carbon footprint, then you will appreciate the sage wisdom of this very insightful piece. Thank you Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
3 years ago

In the U.S. the “Interfaith Councils” are largely a front for militant Islam.

Peter LR
Peter LR
3 years ago

Nicely put together, Aayan, thanks.
I have a long-term question: ‘Will the Sunni and Shia factions ever reconcile? If either does manage to gain political power in the West how would their conflict be expressed? Would there be a return to the religious conflicts of the 16th century in Europe based on Islam rather like the political conflicts of Catholic vs Protestant of old?

Rocky Rhode
Rocky Rhode
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

A depressing but plausible prospect.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

Time for a 2 state solution – Islamo-lefties, wokists, ISIS etc can have California, Oregon and Tri-State area, we get the rest.

Leonardo Trentin
Leonardo Trentin
3 years ago

Great article! Islamo-gauchisme, in my opinion is just an example of a greater phenomenon of transition amongst left wing (and in particular American left wing) thought. I once read another article from UnHerd which had the same gist about BLM and their influence over the more recent British political debate. Fortunately that doesn’t automatically translate to France and Germany due to greater cultural distinction.

Leonardo Trentin
Leonardo Trentin
3 years ago

Oh there it is the article I mentioned
https://unherd.com/2021/03/its-all-americas-fault

Last edited 3 years ago by Leonardo Trentin
natalie mckenna
natalie mckenna
3 years ago

Yet as historian Daniel Pipes has noted, the relationship between Islamism and extreme Leftism is nothing new. In 2007…

2007 is relatively new though. There was a time when even the UK’s SWP referred to the Muslim Brotherhood as “clerical fascists”. At the time of the first Gulf war (Desert Storm, 1991), the British left (routinely and naturally) invited fellow-leftists and trade unionists from Iraq and the Maghreb to their anti-war protests. After 9/11 all that changed: leftists and workers from the Muslim world went out the window, to be replaced by their political enemies from right-wing political Islam. Analyses of previous ill-fated co-operation between leftists (in Muslim countries) and Islamists such as during the Iranian revolution, were put down to petty differences between the politics of the Muslim leftist and those of the Brit leftist: the mass executions of Iranian socialists, communists and trade unionists was their own stupid fault for not being as ‘correct’ as the Brit leftist when s/he held forth in a pub or student union meeting. And anyway, they were the Judean People’s Front.
The bonding between many lefty Brits and Islamists is part benign racism, part getting in on a world act, part crude anti-establishment, part degenerate – seasoned with a little bit of fear. They are safe to betray the left of the Muslim world: nobody is going to hang or behead them for their politics after all.

Last edited 3 years ago by natalie mckenna
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

Today, all religion should be kept out of politics and national public discourse. I would have thought all the great founders would agree on that, witnessing all the damage & murder done in their names.
(Today of course the prophets & founders wouldn’t be listened to, so actively and passively barbarous many religionists are, have always been.)
Tribe first, totem second or totem first then tribe? Doesn’t much matter.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Mark 12:17 and Matthew 22:21 both contain the famous Biblical injunction to separate church and state – “render unto Caesar …” etc. There is no equivalent in Islam: in the Qur’an and Hadith, religion and civil society are expressly and fundamentally interwoven.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

dltd.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Cheers, James. Fwiw, I suppose the obvious answer, at least for me, is that so many men and women lust after power over others. Can any religion be used to this end? You bet it can. For my own part, I try to distinguish between what a religion actually says vs how it is applied by people with all our foibles and weaknesses. And yes, there are different versions of Islam in both principle and practice. But they definitionally share the same roots, and it is the roots I try to speak to.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

dltd.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

In his book, ‘Answering Jihad’ the late Nabeel Qreshi describes the link between the quranic texts on violence and activities of various Islamist groups.

Hugh Marcus
Hugh Marcus
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Nabeel’s writings were such an eye opener to me as a westerner. It’s a pity he died so soon. Scandals like the Rotherham sex abuse of young girls only make sense when viewed through the ‘honour’ lense. Few westerners (including those in positions of power) understand that.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

It’s a common misconception that religions are about spreading ‘love’. I suspect Hollywood has had much of a hand in this. The Judaeo-Christian religions are about forming a sane and cohesive society (fairness, justice, noblesse oblige) and how to deal with those of other faiths. The Old Testament gets a bad rap because it’s full of rules and rituals that many find incomprehensible today, but made complete sense back in OT times. It was an antidote to the madness of Bronze Age times. Even more telling, it has held the Jewish people together despite centuries of persecution and genocide. They outlived all the much more powerful tribes and empires that tried to kill or enslave them. Later on, Christianity was reviled because it opened Judaism up to the gentiles by relaxing its traditions and constraints. That’s when the gospel of love became more apparent. Later on, Protestants would inject it with a work ethic.
Now that Christianity has been abandoned at the wayside, we are witnessing new forms of Bronze Age barbarities springing up in the West: culling of the unborn, transgender genital mutilation, narcissistic self-love/loathing, contempt for the poor, and the grooming of children into non-traditional sexual lifestyles. Decades of bad leaders and value-free education have made us weak and stupid. Simply put, the West will eventually be taken over by a people with a firmer moral framework.
Old Testament prophets were deeply unpopular in their time because they saw the signs, but no-one wanted to listen until it was too late.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I know where you’re comin’ from but it just ain’t so. And yes, there is much beauty and kindliness to be found in Islamic societies. Their art is lovely. But it’s always within their acceptable parameters, naturally. Test the boundaries and see what happens. That’s to be expected everywhere, but Islamic parameters are simply incompatible with liberal Western cultures. That’s where the rubber burqa meets the road.

Last edited 3 years ago by Christopher Gelber
David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Church and state have always been separate, just not separate enough to satisfy modern secularists. Look up the phrase “Byzantine symphony of powers” and read up on the history of the Middle Ages in the West. You’ll see it was mostly a power struggle between the Papacy and the German “Holy Roman” Emperor.
Not even the level of separation that existed in throughout Christendom from the time of the Emperor Theodosius who make Christianity the sole religion of the Empire onward — that’s what the first suggested reading item is about — has ever existed in Islam.
And don’t be too down on ‘sky god’ religions. The alternative historically has always been a god-king religion, the updated version of which is called a “cult of personality”.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

And how many bishops sit in the House of Lords? How many of those are women? Westminster may say that religion has no place in politics yet it fights to keep the bishops happy.

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

But church and state have always been separate. One might point to the Queen of England as being ‘head of the church’, but this was titular. Even from its beginning, church remained distinct from state, although it’s true that because the church dominated education, the state utilised the skills of clerics, hence, presumably, the common etymology with ‘clerks’.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Elliott

See my reply to David Yetter above…

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
3 years ago

Jesus wasn’t saying the coin belonged to Caesar. He just asked a question which was a way to get out of a trap.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
3 years ago

deleted

Last edited 3 years ago by Christopher Gelber
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

“Today, all religion should be kept out of politics and national public discourse. I would have thought all the great founders would agree on that, witnessing all the damage & murder done in their names.”
I don’t think they would – not all of them. In some cases, religion is politics: Iran is a theocratic state and not the only one.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Uniquely, Mohammed did quite a lot of murders himself. So he’d hardly be upset if his followers carried on murdering the sort of people that he hated.
The Koran is the only supposedly holy text that articulates actual hatred for unbelievers.

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

dltd.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
David Yetter
David Yetter
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Indeed there are. And that is why when considering a religion one must consider more than its scriptures. The hermeneutic principle Christians have always used was nicely summed up by the Anglicans in their Article of Religion 20 as “neither may [the Church] so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” The hermeneutic principle of every major Islamic fiqh is naskh the idea that “later-revealed” passages of the Q’uran abrogate “earlier-revealed” passage which they seem to contradict. Sadly the passages written later are the warlike and bloodthirsty one written after Mohammed had become a successful warlord, while those that sound mild and advocate kindness were written when he was struggling to find followers.

Last edited 3 years ago by David Yetter
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

dltd.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Geoffrey Wilson
Geoffrey Wilson
3 years ago

Great article, thank you Ayaan as usual. I entirely agree that these two anti-nice political movements loom large in our Western democracies’ problems, and seem to act together. I think they need addressing separately, and of course patiently to get agreement from the majority who are indeed very nice people. Islamism is dangerous to Western values, and issues like funding of mosques and madrassas, and publication of what individual imams actually preach, should be priorities of government and also popular. Working out how to support individual moslems trying to think and act more liberally against backlash from extremists seems to be ignored – I wish I knew how I could help in that.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
3 years ago

It’s odd how these political terms evolve. ‘Progressive’ used to mean nothing more innocuous than ‘modern’. It seemed to appear as a loan word for ‘left-wing’ sometime in the late 90s. Possibly this was needed to reinvent the left after the end of Communism in eastern Europe, to give socialism a more cuddly name.
And as for Islamists being on the ‘left’. Again, that puzzles me. Islam is undoubtedly a conservative religion and culture. The more radical, the more conservative. Yet when we hear about ‘far right’ terrorism we know it’s not referring to Islamists. Why?

Milos Bingles
Milos Bingles
3 years ago

An ALL because people believe in fairy tales and legends invented 1000’s of years ago by desert mystery cults. Religion really is moronic

Last edited 3 years ago by Milos Bingles
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
3 years ago

A hundred and more years ago, Jewish immigration to America from the hardships of conflict-laden, empire-laden Eastern European lands led to a fair number of individuals from that community, as it were, entering the world of the arts and entertainments in order to do something fresh for themselves, and possibly their parents (who had known increasing trouble back in eastern Europe in the late 1800s with sporadic and intermittent pogroms against them), as well as siblings. Poverty, after all, was always just around the corner for so many in the early 1900s. So it was evident that New York’s early Jewish community was not constrained so much, culturally or religiously, that it could not express itself artistically. Famous artists from that early Jewish community are Irving Berlin and the comics, the Marx brothers. If such artists’ or entertainers’ immediate forebears had never emigrated, what life would have been their lot in a rural, revolutionary atmosphere? Is the American Dream no more today? In the 21st century? Surely at least some of the representatives of downtrodden communities worldwide who reside in America and the West should aim to be happy and embrace more fully the 
 delights in life that the West invites them to share in. To shine a ray of hope. Just as Irving Berlin had done in America many moons ago! It’s now 2021, not 1921!

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago

While this is another great article from Ali, and I entirely agree with her analysis, I’m not sure that I agree with her assertion that this is new:
Extremists are using progressive rhetoric to fool the West
Isn’t this exactly what Boris Johnson and his extremist rightwing Tories are doing right now vis-Ă -vis not just the English north, but much of the rest of the old Empire? For example, “levelling up”? Sounds so nice and cuddly, doesn’t it? Just like, with dawa, giving X% of your income to the poor? So that, in both cases, the downtrodden and the poor give you their automatic vote, or their unquestioning allegiance?
Surely pinching your rival’s rhetoric, his terminology and slogans, then twisting them to suit your own purposes, is the oldest trick in the book?
From where I stand, the problem is not so much that some are still trying it on, but rather, that so many are still so gullible and naive that they can’t see through the trickery, the fake and the fraud. Nothing that human beings have ever devised can be perfect. So eternal vigilance is the price we pay for democracy and civic freedom. Plus a decent education, which in my view rules out religious schools, since indoctrination of young minds, before they have been taught to think, does often warp them for the long term.
The French have the right idea with their laïcité. Secularism in the civic/public sectors is the indispensable prerequisite for a successful open, liberal, multicultural society. This is an enlightened approach.
The initiate spiritual teacher Dr Rudolf Steiner, whose teachings I follow in the main, advocated a threefold social separation of powers: spiritual, human, economic. However, he placed education in the first group, along with the arts and religion/spirituality proper. The civic sphere of law, rights, politics belonged in the second group, with business and finance in the third.
When Steiner came up with this 3-fold approach, his preoccupation was with the looming totalitarian mind-control that was rapidly taking shape in both communist Russia and Germany. (Steiner lived 1861–1925.) He therefore saw it as essential to keep the education sphere, together with religion, free from state control.
I often wonder what he would have made today of England’s failed multicultural experiment with “faith schools”, many of which indoctrinate the young just as efficiently as authoritarian Stalinists or Nazis did, and which prevent their pupils from coming into contact with a proper range of difference and diversity in the school population. The Waldorf schools Steiner founded are firmly based in ethical individualism. But did Steiner foresee the shadow of that freedom arising?
My point here is that although conmen and liars have always been with us, the ways in which they manifest are ever new, and from the point of view of a present time, not just unknown, but probably unknowable.
So the real value of Ali’s article may be that she’s pointing up a new example of a very old game.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
2 years ago

It will be a sad day for liberty when individualism fails. Individualism “sells” better when it is seen as the result of liberty as society’s default position. Islamic societies, and fundamentalist societies in general, do not safeguard individual liberty. Individualism and liberty need a disconnect from capitalism. Coercion by community is bad news for liberty, and therein lies the fallacy of Islamism and Woke politics. Individuals have a conscience and an innate freedom to choose. This must be protected ab initio. Thank you Ayaan, once again for speaking up.

Aziz Patel
Aziz Patel
2 years ago

This is a very good analysis of the alliance between the “Islamist Left,” and the Western Left.

Gabriele
Gabriele
3 years ago

I think that is a perfect example of how liberals and supporters of a “free, open, pluralist society” can actually be undemocratic and dangerous.

The article states that, we do not have to fear just terrorists, some islamists want to spread Islam “through passive means such as politics, immigration and childbirth.” Some of them even what terrible things, like supporting community and giving interest-free loans.

It paints this approach as a sort of trick, a form of deceit. To me it just seems politics. They want to persuade other people to support Islam, and they do it by providing services, community and convincing (to some) arguments. How is that a bad thing? It is not. It is just politics. This is what is supposed to happen in a pluralist society. This is the end objective of a pluralistic society. Let people argue and build their own lifestyle.

The author seems to believe that a “free, open, pluralistic society” is just a cover to maintain the current status quo. The author believes in a pluralistic society as long as this pluralism is meaningless and has no actual impact on the society. That would imply that the status quo is the utopia. The perfect society, that cannot be improved.

Of course I do not personally agree with what the islamists want, but I do not personally agree with a lot of things, that does not meant that they should not have any place in society. If people cannot organize peacefully to bring change, even change that we do not like, then what is the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one?

Last edited 3 years ago by Gabriele
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Gabriele

dltd.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Robert Pound
Robert Pound
3 years ago

The article fails to distinguish between Islam and Islamism. Islam is a religion; Islamism is a fundamentalist-driven theocratic movement. There can be democratic Muslims just as there can be democratic Christians and democratic Jews. Oskar Lafontaine’s comment refers to Islam and Muslims, not to Islamism and Islamists. Of course, it may be true that Lafontaine has been soft on Islamists, but the quoted text fails to demonstrate that. A distinction between Islam and Islamism is essential. One should no more write off Islam as inherently evil or inherently misogynistic than Christianity or Judaism.

Christopher Gelber
Christopher Gelber
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

I fundamentally disagree and think you are dangerously wrong. I have read the Qur’an, which is for Muslims the perfect, eternal and direct word of Allah. It cannot be changed (I leave aside here that there are different versions of it, despite Uthman’s best efforts). It is really two distinct books: the earlier book being the Meccan suras; and the later verses being the Medinan Qur’an. The later chapters are obsessed with hatred of unbelievers and pretty vicious towards them and people of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians, while Sura 2:106 ensures the later “revelations” prevail over conflicting earlier ones. And you are mistaken to regard Islam as just a religion. The Qur’an and Hadith explicitly contain many elements rightly regarded as political in nature rather than religious: many Muslims themselves say Islam is a complete system for conducting your life – how to have sex, how to marry, how to divide property, how to settle disputes, insurance, medicine, how men and women should behave towards each other, etc etc. I am also familiar with much of the most respected and authoritative Hadiths: al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. They are certainly consistent with what I say above. Erdogan said quite recently: “There is no extreme Islam or moderate Islam; there is only Islam”. I think he knows what he is talking about. I’m not making this stuff up – and I wish I didn’t know so much about it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Christopher Gelber
James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

I think it does distinguish between the two. What I needed reminding of is Islamism is not automatically violent (just as jihadism* is not necessarily destructive. Agreed it is now associated with terrorism. *What is jihadism? – BBC News).

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Peter Francis
Peter Francis
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

Islam is a religion; Islamism is a fundamentalist-driven theocratic movement.” This repeats the mistake often made by Western liberals. You think that the former is just a faith group, like the Methodists or the Quakers. It is not. It is a blueprint for a totalitarian society that is already having a significant impact on UK civil society, whether it is sharia law, or even the way that our slaughterhouses kill animals. The people who worship at mosques might hold a wide range of opinions, but there is no evidence that, as time goes by, those opinions become less alien.

Ann Marie
Ann Marie
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Pound

You really need to do more research one is a trojan horse for the other!