Shamima Begum and ISIS: What are we Missing?

Shamima Begum ‘Jihadi Bride’

Much ink is currently being spilled about the case of Shamima Begum, who travelled from London to Syria in 2015 to join ISIS. Now that the fortunes of ISIS have sunk to a low ebb she desperately wants to return to the United Kingdom. Not that she is particularly repentant mind you. Based on her statements you could be forgiven for thinking that she would just appreciate a chance to regroup before recommencing the struggle against the infidel. The purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of her case. Although, for the record, I believe that the UK government did the right thing in revoking her citizenship, thus preventing her return.

The bigger question I would like to address is the way in which her decision to join ISIS is being portrayed in the media. It seems that the guiding narrative is that she (and the other ‘ISIS Brides’) were blindly following the dictates of some strange cult that has nothing to do with the pure teachings of orthodox Islam.

The BBC is at the forefront of this effort to disassociate ISIS from the teachings of mainstream Islam. In the process the corporation has taken it upon itself to deny the claims of some of the most devout Muslims on the planet that they are acting for Islam by routinely referring to ISIS as the “so-called Islamic State”. It would be rather comforting if ISIS was, indeed, simply some strange aberration with no link whatsoever to classical Islamic teaching.

In fact, ISIS prides itself on its orthodoxy and on the way in which it adheres to the Qur’an and Sunnah (example of the prophet) in all that it does. In doing so, they do not merely latch onto a fringe tradition within Islam but can quote from centuries of interpretation and commentary on the Qur’an to justify their actions.

The following are some of the actions ISIS engaged in (and that the media cited as examples of just how un-Islamic they are). I will now show how each of these practices can be justified from the Qur’an, and hadiths. It should be clear from this that to dismiss ISIS as having “nothing to do with Islam” is highly problematic. It also raises the basic question of how we can even begin to hope that our enemies will be defeated if we are in complete denial about the nature of their guiding ideology:

Declaring a religious war against those who do not accept Islam: “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah,” [in other words, if they become Muslim – PT] “let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (Qur’an 9:5).

Giving defeated civilians the choice of conversion, exile or paying a tax on non-Muslims: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled” (Qur’an 9:29).

Calling for the conquest and total subjugation of non-Muslim societies through a religious war: “It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: ‘I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah’” (Sahih Muslim Book 1 Number 33).

Keeping sex slaves: There are several verses in the Qur’an that make it clear that Muslim men are permitted to have sex with those whom “their right hand possesses”. For example: “O Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives]” (Qur’an 33:50). This extends, according to a very troubling hadith, to the rape of captive women. “We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffer- ing from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl’ (withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: ‘We are doing an act whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him?’ So we asked Allah’s Messenger [Muhammad] (may peace be upon him), and he said: ‘It does not matter if you do not do it (withdraw before climaxing), for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born’” (Sahih Muslim Book 8 Hadith 3371).

Executing apostates from Islam: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” Statement by Muhammad according to Sahih Bukhari Volume 9 Book 84 Number 57.

Beheading those whom they regard as enemy combatants: There are several instances where beheading is held up as the desired response to opposition from unbelievers. In Qur’an 4:74, it is directly com- manded: “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until you have inflicted slaughter upon them”. In Qur’an 8:12, the link between terror and beheading is used to “inspire” Allah’s angels and, by extension, his followers: “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip”.

Crucifying Opponents: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land” (Qur’an 5:33).

Executing Homosexual People: “Narrated By Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did (i.e., practice homosexuality), kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done” (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 38, Number 4447).

Destroying graves and non-Muslim places of worship: “Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without leveling it” (Sahih Muslim Book 11 Hadith 120).

Corporal punishment of “disobedient” women: “Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], for- sake them in bed; and [finally], strike them” (Qur’an 4:34).

I realize that many readers have, perhaps, gone through the list above with a chill going down their spines. If the actions of ISIS, as arguably the most violent Islamic group out there, are, indeed, based on a legitimate reading of the key texts of Islam, what does that say about the possible impact of these very same texts on other Muslims? Would it not be fair say that it would incline at least some of those other Muslims to violence in the name of Allah? This has to be the inescapable conclusion to the material presented above. Even if only a tiny percentage of Muslims decide to be obedient to verses such as these, we are still left with millions who are seeking to do the rest of us harm for the sake of their religion.

This is exactly the conclusion that so many people in our society desperately want to get away from with their continued insistence that there is no link between the teachings of Islam and violence. This material is even ignored in news stories where it is directly relevant, as is the case with the story of Shamima Begum. The fact is, we need to honestly face up to the reality that the so-called ‘radicals’ of the Muslim world base their teachings on impeccable Qur’anic sources.

For more about the link between Islamic teaching and violence, please see by book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot

Victimhood as Currency: The Case of “Islamophobia”

The recent events surrounding Jussie Smollet (and his ham-fisted attempts to garner some cash and sympathy by claiming to have been attacked by homophobic Trump supporters) is a neat little window into where the ‘culture of victimhood’ will inevitably lead to. If you assess people’s contribution to society by how much they are supposedly oppressed the temptation to up your ‘victimhood score’ will be too hard to resist for many. And boy, the rewards, can be staggering. In Smollet’s case everyone from the US House Speaker on down rushed to affirm that his experience earned him oodles of victimhood currency. Who knows, plenty of real currency (book deals, film contracts anyone?) may have followed. Pity that he seemingly spent a bit more time contemplating the rewards than in carefully planning his raid on the ‘Bank of Victimhood’.

Those of us who comment on the Islamification of the West are all too familiar with this kind of thing. Muslim groups have cottoned on to the fact that there is real benefit to be gained in being painted as the victim. This way, the plan to extend the influence of Islam on society can be conducted under the cover of deep concern for such a supposedly beleaguered community. The invention of the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a case in point. Any and all criticism of Islam as a religion and ideology can be turned into deep public sympathy by pulling out the ‘Victim Card’ (Islamophobia Edition). Sometimes cries of ‘Phobia’ is not enough to kill free speech about Islam, however. This is where what may now be called the ‘Smollet Approach’ comes in. Just a few examples (keep in mind that there are many more):

• In 2008, a Muslim student, Safia Z. Jilani, at Elmhurst College in Ann Arbor, Michigan, claimed that she was pistol whipped by an assailant who wrote “Kill the Muslims” in a women’s restroom at the college. The case garnered national media attention in the U.S. with many commentators pointing to it as evidence for a rise of “Islamophobic attacks”. Hundreds of Elmhurst students rallied in support of Muslim students at the college (some holding signs stating “I am ashamed to be American today”). Except that the entire thing was a hoax. Jilani was later charged with filing a false police report.

• On July 5, 2010, someone set fire to the Masjid Al-Hedaya (Islamic Center of Marietta, Georgia). This was immediately denounced as a hate-crime with a spokesperson for the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) calling for an investigation of bias against the Muslim community as the motive for the crime. The only problem was that the fire was started by a Muslim, Tamsir Mendy, who was later sentenced to 10 years in prison for his trouble.

• In 2010, self-described “Muslim leader” Noor Ramjnally from Loughton (an outer suburb of London) claimed that he was kid- napped by “anti-Muslim extremists” who threatened him at knife- point, demanding that he disband his Islamic prayer group. The case caused an uproar and the police spent 1850 man-hours trying to find the culprits, only to find that Ramjnally had made the whole thing up. He was sentenced to two years in prison for perverting the course of justice and wasting police time.

• In 2011, a Sydney woman, Carnita Matthew, was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. She claimed that she was targeted because she was wearing a burqa and accused the police officer who handled the matter of being racist and abusive. Australian Muslim groups enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon claiming that this was proof of “Islamophobic attitudes” within Australian society. Unfortunately for Ms. Matthew (and fortunately for the officer involved whose career would otherwise have been destroyed), the whole incident was captured on dash cam which showed that the officer remained polite throughout and none of the alleged “Islamophobic abuse” took place.

• Perhaps the most high-profile ‘Islamophobia Hoax’ of recent times took place in Toronto in January 2018. An 11 year old girl from Scarborough claimed that her hijab was cut from her head on the way to school. So great was the uproar that even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got in on the act, declaring on Twitter: “My heart goes out to Khawlah Noman following this morning’s cowardly attack on her in Toronto. Canada is an open and welcoming country, and incidents like this cannot be tolerated.” The only problem was, once again, that it was all made up, with a spokesman from the Toronto Police Service declaring (after the story began to unravel): “We had, as everyone knows, allegations of an extremely serious crime on Friday which we investigated — we had a team of investigators who put together a significant amount of evidence and they came to the conclusion that the events that were alleged did not happen.”

What all these incidents have in common is that, like Smollet’s story, the authorities eventually wised up to the fact that there was something fishy going on. How many more sophisticated plans actually succeeded? We will, of course, never know. The big questions that we need to ask is why at least within the Muslim community view so-called ‘Islamophobic incidents’ as so advantageous to their cause that they actively manufacture them? Please think about this next time you hear accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ being bandied about. Ask the age-old question ‘Who Benefits?’ The answer should be crystal clear. In at least some cases the ‘victims’ may be nothing of the sort.

For more on how the ‘Islamophobia’ canard is used to insulate Islam from criticism see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot

The Pope, The Prophet and the Arabian Peninsula

Much was recently made of Pope Francis’ visit to the United Arab Emirates. While this is an important step forward for religious freedom in the region it should be noted that it is taking place in the UAE. A place overwhelmingly occupied by foreigners. In fact, most of those attending mass during his visit will not be Arabs at all but expatriate Filippino workers.

The ‘big fish’ on the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia, is entirely unaffected by all of this. In fact, there is not a single legal church in the country (which is deeply ironic since Saudi Arabia sponsors the building of mosques all around the world). The shocking reality is that the Saudi authorities believe that their ban on non-Muslim places of worship follows the wishes of the ‘prophet’ Muhammad who is believed to have expelled all Christians and Jews from the peninsula just before his death.

Here is the relevant tradition (hadith): “Umar heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say: I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslims…” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 4366)

One wonders whether Pope Francis denounced this complete denial of the principle of freedom of religion during his visit.

Somehow I’m not holding my breath.

For an in-depth look at the links between Islamic teaching and violence, please see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam? – Investigating the West’s Most Dangerous Blind Spot

Apostasy: What are we Missing?

Rahaf Alqunun speaking after her arrival in Canada

Much was made in the media over the escape to the West of the escape from Saudi Arabia of a young lady named, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun. She evidently turned her back on Islam and believed that her life was in danger. Thankfully she was finally granted asylum in Canada.

It is heartening to see that the media picked up this story as it forcefully shone a light on some of the challenges faced by women in Saudi Arabia. Still, to say that the reporting on this issue was selective would hardly begin to describe the true state of affairs. Media outlets around the world bent over backwards to state that Miss Alqunun was in danger from reprisals emanating from her family. The subtext here was that it, once again, ‘Has nothing to do with Islam!’

Not so fast however. Harsh treatment of apostates is part and parcel of Islamic teaching. In fact, the essential intolerance of Islam is nowhere more apparent than in the way that it treats those (apostates) who abandon it. Muhammad, according to Islamic tradition, could not be clearer on this subject: “Whoever discards his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:260)

Don’t think that this is just an obscure statement that had no real impact. Far from it! Shari’a legal codes all maintain that apostates from Islam should be killed.

These facts are easily ascertainable. Yet it seems no ‘investigative’ reporter dared to go there. Thus, questions remain unanswered. For example, why is Canada clearing the decks for many more followers of the ‘prophet’ who counselled death to apostates to come and make their home there? The action of the Canadian government in granting sanctury to Miss Alqunun is commendable. Yet we have to wonder how long she will be safe, even there?

For much more about the links between Islamic teachings and violence, please see my book ‘Nothing to do with Islam’