IS NEWT GINGRICH WRONG TO TALK ABOUT SHARI'A?
By Raymond Ibrahim
My first observation is even if all these charges were perfectly true so? It hardly matters what Shari'a really is; all that matters is what today's Muslims believe it is. And a great many believe Shari'a is tangible and codified, and that it can, and should, be implemented in society. More to the point, telling apostates and adulteresses who are regularly executed "according to Shari'a" that they are really being murdered by "principles that have rarely, if ever, existed in actual Muslim societies," is hardly reassuring.
Smith does acknowledge Islam's famous draconian punishments; he just prefers to call them hudud, and limits them to "Islamist outfits like the Taliban." Similarly, Smith offers a blitz tour on Islamic jurisprudence including the Hanbali, Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi'i madhahib, the differences between usuli and akhbari, fiqh, ijma, 'aql, qiyas, and ahkam sultaniyya even as the reader wonders how these concepts are relevant to the discussion at hand: Islam in America, from a national security context.
Should Newt Gingrich be required to earn a doctorate in fiqh from Al Azhar before he can utter the word Shari'a? Or should we understand that he is simply referring to what Muslims themselves, especially Islamists, constantly refer to as Shari'a? Indeed, if Muslims use the word Shari'a as a "catch all phrase" (as Smith correctly asserts) should we not, too if only to ensure that we are all talking about the same things?
In short, Smith's position is purely academic and, far from clarifying things to the layman, pedantically convolutes matters. That said, it does offer one advantage: it helps differentiate "Muslims" from "Islamists." Consider: Islamists are precisely those Muslims who insist that Shari'a is knowable, and that they are obligated to uphold its every minutia, whereas socalled "moderate Muslims" acknowledge, at best, the most general demands of Islam, namely, the Five Pillars. This division also explains the lure of Islamism: surely, the idealistic or zealous devotee will be attracted to the tangible, the implementable, the clear-cut, whereas the indifferent and possibly secularized Muslim will be quite content to conclude that anything beyond the basics is "an Orientalist fantasy" to be devoutly ignored.
First, Gingrich's point that "radical Islamists want to impose Sharia on all of us" is perfectly valid, as it deals with intention, not necessarily capacity, though Islamist chances obviously increase when we ignore the threat they pose (through, say, semantic quibbling). As for Smith's "repugnancy" towards the efficacy of the "stealth scenario," he seems to overlook how the vicissitudes of time and chance are apt to slowly and subtly alter the face of society.
Consider how radically changed Western society has already become in comparison to earlier generations. Couple this with the fact that the whole point of the stealth jihad is to operate slowly, eroding Western values chip by chip; that today's predominant philosophies of postmodernism ("there are no absolute rights or wrongs") and multiculturalism ("no culture is better than the other") are especially conducive to the introduction of Muslim mores in society and "the largest land invasion in human history of foreign Muslim soldiers" may not so be necessary, after all.
Thus, just as the old timers of previous generations marvel agape at today's notions of right and wrong, years from now, it may be you who well wonders how did it come to this? Yet, such is the way of time: small concessions today lead to great, and often unexpected, changes tomorrow. And such is the way of the stealth jihad.
The Islamist Fifth Column -- America's Internal Enemies:
Disloyalty, Subversion, Sedition, & Treason
Lawfare -- The Use of Law as a Weapon in War & Politics:
Islamist Lawfare & the "Legal" Jihad Against America & the West
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Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
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Islamist International Terrorism &
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U.S. National Security Strategy
Raymond Ibrahim, a historian of Islam, Islamism and the Middle East, is the Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, and the editor of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, a collection of tranlations of key texts and documents of the Islamist movement. Ibrahim's translations of the religious texts and political propaganda comprising this collection help readers comprehend the origins, development, history, and serious danger of the Islamist war doctrines of Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Founders of Al-Qa'ida and implacable enemies of the U.S.A. and the West.
The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in Pajamas Media, August 24, 2010, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-ΰ-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2730/is-newt-gingrich-wrong-to-talk-about- sharia)
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