Scarcely a day goes by without someone telling me, “Well, sure, the Qur’an has violent passages, but so does the Bible” or “The history of the Christian West is much bloodier than that of the Islamic world.” Such statements, picked up from the zeitgeist and thoughtlessly repeated, are designed to divert attention from realities that all too many Americans are unwilling to face: that Islamic violence is rooted in core principles of Islam, and sincerely peaceful Muslims must confront those principles in order to initiate any genuine reform within Islam — but so far most Muslim and non-Muslim spokesmen seem content to ignore those principles, and pretend that all religious traditions are equally capable of inspiring violence.
It has become harder then ever for such spokesmen to maintain this façade, however, with the appearance of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus Books), a new compendium of documents relating to the doctrine and history of jihad. Edited by Dr. Andrew Bostom, this massive volume contains a wealth of material from Islamic texts and Muslim jurists, much of which has never before appeared in English, as well as accounts of brutal jihad conquests from all over the globe. The case is now made, irrefutably: unlike all other religions, Islam contains, in its core elements and as part of its constant and unbroken tradition, mandates to make war against unbelievers in order to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. The conquerors ofrom the great Islamic empires of the past were motivated by the same ideology that motivates jihad terrorists today. There is no way that the Islamic apologists and befuddled multiculturalists who populate the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) can refute the mountain of evidence Bostom presents here. So they will most likely do what they always do with inconvenient material: Ignore it.
Yet so much of the historical material Bostom has assembled could have come from today’s headlines. As he chronicles jihad from Spain to India, several recurring themes emerge: the religious justifications that Islamic jihadists have used for their activities from the 7th Century onward (cf. the communiqu√?∆? ¬©s, laced as they are with quotations from the Qur’an and Sunnah, of bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and other jihadists); the murderous intolerance that has accompanied jihad violence around the world (cf. the destruction of churches today in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Kosovo); the mistreatment (and often, beheading) of captives as sanctioned by Islamic law (cf. the spate of beheadings in Iraq and, more recently, in Thailand); the idolization of brutal jihadist killers in Muslim lore (cf. the apotheosis of suicide bombers among Palestinian Arab Muslims); and much more.
If Western analysts approached this book objectively, they would avoid numerous mistakes that they are making today when examining the historical record of Islam and the present-day goals of the global jihadist movement. For example, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has attributed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza to the murders perpetrated by suicide terrorists (“martyrs”): “The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupiers leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements.” Yet when Abbas visited the White House last Thursday, President Bush praised him as “a man devoted to peace.” One may hope that there is more to this, albeit going on behind the scenes, but on the surface this seems to be born of an appalling naïvet√?∆? ¬© and unwillingness to take Mahmoud Abbas’s own words at face value.
This is but one small example of the general denial with which both officials and the media have met the statements of jihad terrorists about the relationship of their deeds to Islam. The Legacy of Jihad betrays that willful blindness in a harsher light than ever before: Lives are at stake, as they have been throughout history. It is time for both Muslims and non-Muslims to take sober account of the evidence marshaled in this book, and to plan accordingly for an adequate defense of the principles of universal dignity and the equality of rights for all that are the hallmarks of the Western civilization that Islamic jihadists have for centuries been so determined to destroy.
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