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From Your Keyboard To God's Ears!

Reader comment on item: How Terrorism Harms Radical Islam

Submitted by Aquinas Invictus (United States), Jan 10, 2015 at 11:33

Dr. P. Congratulations! Another excellent OpEd. I hope your optimism persists and prevails.

In historical perspective, however, the tactics carried out by extremist Islamists have had a record of more successes than failures. And as the West becomes more comfortable its luxuries and safety, and more willing to compromise in the face of conflict, and to avoid any charges of islamophobia, the West becomes more attractive a target, and the persistence of the radicals moves closer toward their inexorable goals: success at global "da'wah", a global Muslim plurality, and near-global recognition of sharia. Once those goals are reached, various factions of the radicals will then sort out among themselves who are the inheritors of the bounty and of their prophet's good graces.

From the time of Mohammad, terror was used to silence enemies of Mohammad and to exact revenge against his enemies and the perceived enemies of the Umma. And, under the next "global" Muslim leader, Abu Bakr, the Ridda Wars (http://www.councilofexmuslims.com/index.php?topic=6703.0) took vengeance on all of Mohammad's former subjects who wanted to go their own way after Mohammad's death. Today's faithful believers look to at Ridda Wars as a divine guidebook on how to "perfect" Islam by correcting apostates and "faulty" believers through terror and the sword. Amazingly, given the extremists' warped theology, they find no contradiction in the Ridda Wars' tactics and their faith and strategies. These Ridda Wars and Mohammad's conquest of Mekka should be instructional to security agencies to show them the challenge posed by the terrotists.

But the Islamists hold on to the belief that there will be periods of victory and defeat, but that their momentum is ever on their side. They point to the conquests of Khalid over the Persians and Byzantine Romans as the first sign of their faith's own "Manifest Destiny".

Sure, Europeans and Hindus have stalled global Dawah. In Europe, after conquering all of North Africa and much of Western Asia, some would-be Muslim conquerors found their match in 732 in the Battle of Tours. But the lines between the Christian West and the Muslim leaders in Spain, North Africa and Baghdad remained in semi-conflict. In Spain, where the caliphate was generally considered pluralistic and cultural center, the North African Al Mohads, salafists of their day, came in to "perfect" the beliefs of Christians, Jews and educated, moderate and liberal Muslims, which led to a backlash that eventually led to the Reconquista of Spain. That reconquest is one bright light that the Islamists aim to avenge.

When entering the mind of the radicals, the Al Mohad conservative theologians and Cairo's Caliph Hakim, who persecuted Jews and Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, remain heroes. And even though the Byzantine Navy protected the Europe from Muslim invasions during the dark ages, Europe's Crusade's weakened the Byzantine Empire's buffer between the East and the West. The Crusading West's victory over the Cairo Caliphate was short-lived, and in the end, Saladin's defeated Richard Lionheart, the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem eventually failed and disappeared, and the crusader-weakened Byzantine Empire collapsed and was succeeded by the Seljuk Turks. As the radicals would say, "Allah is great."

Tamerlane's 1396 invasion of Europe and the fall of the Balkans, marked more aggression from the East versus the West and a period of continual strife culminating in the 1529 attempt by Suleiman, to capture the city of Vienna. Even after the Hapsburgs won a decisive victory at Lepanto on in 1571, hostilities from the East continued until 1683's Battle of Vienna. Although Europe's victory reduced the Ottoman efforts to size, Muslim hostilities against Europe only formally ended in 1791 with the British-brokered Treaty of Sistova that ended the Austro-Ottoman Wars.

And yet, despite all of this, the persistence of jihadism and Islamist da'wah seems to pay off. Sheik Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) prevented the colonization of Arabia when he decreed that the Europeans were not potential allies "al Kitb", but instead polytheists, who should be treated as "kaffir". Even after the Ottoman Empire failed after WWI, the wahhabbis of Arabia inherited a vast treasure in oil that today funds the global Salafist da'wah. Is there any reason for the extremists not to doubt that they will prevail after setback and setback? In their minds' view, the setbacks will be matched by successes. And throughout it all exists a liberal, free-thinking West that is aging and losing its historical perspective, but which, instead, believes that the "The End of History" (by Francis Fukuyama) has arrived … and that the West's childless affluence will continue undefended forever.

In my opinion, the West needs to wake up to the old saw that "Freedom is not free", and that our civilization's hard-won liberties cannot be assumed to survive a period where they are threatened without an intelligent reckoning of the risks ahead.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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