Daniel Pipes and Islam

If you want to understand Islam from the political viewpoint and how it relates to the non-Muslims of the world read Daniel Pipes. I started with a post from 1995 and at first I thought I was reading about present day from a recent article.  Everything he said then about the future we now have experience or are experiencing.  He knew what he was talking about then and I have no reason to believe his understanding has diminished.  Here is a sample from 1995:

Though anchored in religious creed, fundamentalist Islam is a radical utopian movement closer in spirit to other such movements (communism, fascism) than to traditional religion. By nature anti-democratic and aggressive, anti-Semitic and anti-Western, it has great plans. Indeed, spokesmen for fundamentalist Islam see their movement standing in direct competition to Western civilization and challenging it for global supremacy. Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail.

Radical utopian schema. Outside their own movement, fundamentalists see every existing political system in the Muslim world as deeply compromised, corrupt, and mendacious. As one of their spokesmen put it as long ago as 1951, “there is no [sic] one town in the whole world where Islam is observed as enjoined by Allah, whether in politics, economics or social matters.” Implied here is that Muslims true to God’s message must reject the status quo and build wholly new institutions.

To build a new Muslim society, fundamentalists proclaim their intent to do whatever they must; they openly flaunt an extremist sensibility. “There are no such terms as compromise and surrender in the Islamic cultural lexicon,” a spokesman for Hamas declares. If that means destruction and death for the enemies of true Islam, so be it. Hizbullah’s spiritual leader, Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, concurs: “As Islamists,” he says, “we seek to revive the Islamic inclination by all means possible.”

Seeing Islam as the basis of a political system touching every aspect of life, fundamentalists are totalitarian. Whatever the problem, “Islam is the solution.” In their hands, Islam is transformed from a personal faith into a ruling system that knows no constraints. They scrutinize the Qur’an and other texts for hints about Islamic medicine, Islamic economics, and Islamic statecraft, all with an eye to creating a total system for adherents and corresponding total power for leaders. Fundamentalists are revolutionary in outlook, extremist in behavior, totalitarian in ambition.

Revealingly, they vaunt Islam as the best ideology, not the best religion-thereby exposing their focus on power. Whereas a traditional Muslim would say something like, “We are not Jewish, we are not Christian, we are Muslim,” the Malaysian Islamist leader Anwar Ibrahim made a very different comparison: “We are not socialist, we are not capitalist, we are Islamic.” While fundamentalist Islam differs in its details from other utopian ideologies, it closely resembles them in scope and ambition. Like communism and fascism, it offers a vanguard ideology; a complete program to improve man and create a new society; complete control over that society; and cadres ready, even eager, to spill blood.

In the January 26th issue of USA Today Mr. Pipes writes Don’t deal with terrorists:

An increasing number of voices are calling for Hamas to be recognized, arguing that the imperatives of governance would tame it, ending its arch-murderous vocation (it has killed around 600 Israelis) and turning it into a responsible citizen. Even President Bush made this argument in early 2005: “There’s a positive effect when you run for office. Maybe some will run for office and say, ‘Vote for me, I look forward to blowing up America.’ … I don’t think so. I think people who generally run for office say, ‘Vote for me, I’m looking forward to fixing your potholes, or making sure you got bread on the table.'”

The historical record, however, refutes this “pothole theory of democracy.” Mussolini made the trains run, Hitler built autobahns, Stalin cleared the snow and Castro reduced infant mortality — without any of these totalitarians giving up their ideological zeal nor their grandiose ambitions. Likewise, Islamists in Afghanistan, Iran, and Sudan have governed without becoming tamed. If proof is needed, note the Iranian efforts to build nuclear weapons amid an apocalyptic fervor.

It was a mistake to permit Hamas to compete in elections. Like al-Qaeda, Hamas should be destroyed, not legitimated, much less courted.

1 thought on “Daniel Pipes and Islam

  1. Bush and others who have been using the word “democracy” as though it were synonymous with “liberty” now have a bit of a puzzle on their hands. It’s easy to vigorously oppose a tyrant who seized power using brute force to crush his opposition, but it requires a little more clarity of principle to vigorously oppose a tyrant who was “duly elected by the people”.

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