Sunday, August 05, 2007

Counter-Propaganda


A couple of months ago, I described why I felt that in the war to win hearts and minds, we should engage in the propagandizing of the term hirabah over jihad, when referring to the ideological movement of the radical fundamentalists who wish to war with the West and the rest.

This isn't about "appeasing" the multiculturalists by not labeling and identifying the enemy; or a refusal to call them who they are, because of misguided political correctness in not wanting to "offend" anyone. This is about waging counter-propaganda.

The jihadis want to refer to themselves as martyrs. Holy warriors. Jihadi. They are nothing of the kind. They are thugs and killers of the innocent; and fanatics and lunatics of an intolerant ideology. We should not give the jihadi movement the legitimacy of language. We should strip them of that dignity and distinction, and call them hirabi, or hirabahists.

Dr. Walid Phares writes,
this giant doctrine, which motivated armies and feelings for centuries, also inspired contemporary movements that shaped their ideology based on their interpretation of the historical Jihad. In other words, today's Jihadists are an ideological movement with several organizations and regimes who claim that they define the sole interpretation of what Jihad was in history and that they are the ones to resume it and apply it in the present and future. It is equivalent to the possibility that some Christians today might claim that they were reviving the Crusades in the present. This would be only a "claim" of course, because the majority of Christians, either convinced believers or those with a sociological Christian bent, have gone beyond the Christianity of the time of the Crusades.

Today's Jihadists make the assertion that there is a direct, generic, and organic relation between the Jihads in which they and their ancestors have engaged from the seventh century to the twenty-first. But historical Jihad is one thing, and the Jihad of today's Salafists and Khumeinists is something else.
Read more...

Whether or not those moderates portrayed in Islam vs. Islamists are the mainstream majority or the mainstream minority, reformation of Islam from 7th century practice and interpretation is necessary if it is to survive in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world in the 21st. And we do well to encourage that growth by not legitimizing the "Jihad Movement". We do this whenever we refer to the hirabahists in the language with which they want to identify themselves, and use to propagandize their hatred.

We do a disservice to ourselves and to the War against Islamic Terror by referring to the hirabis as jihadists, every bit as much as we do a disservice and dishonesty in not recognizing "Islam" as part of their identity.

The Islamists (i.e., the radical extremist fundamentalist wahabbi sulafists) are attempting to pull us all into a clash of civilizations (it is not: it is a clash between all of civilization versus barbarism), and a war between East and West, Muslim and infidels. Just as al-Qaeda in Iraq fomented the eruption of sectarian violence with the al-Askari Mosque bombing (the mastermind of this and the more recent twin minaret bombing is said to have been killed on August 2nd), so too do they wish to pull both sides into THEIR war. They force all Muslims to choose sides. And I fear that in some instances, we risk alienating Muslims who might otherwise choose the path of peace and alliance with us, and not with the hirabahists.

I agree in fighting the "jihadists" on every front, and at every level; part of doing so, is in taking away the language of legitimacy from them and not refer to them by what they want to call themselves. For many Muslims, the term "jihad" has positive connotations. Whether linked to historical pride and romanticizing past glories; or with the "greater jihad" of spiritual inner struggle. So, when we allow ourselves to go along with the "jihadists" to define the meaning and connotations of "jihad" in the English language to signify the negative (terrorists, murderers, religious fanatics, homicide bombers, etc.), we give them the legitimacy of language.

Why should we?

*UPDATE* In my original post, an anonymous commenter left this link to other useful terms.

Further reading, from Gayle: Michael Waller's Making Jihad Work for America

Related blogging:
Bottomline Up Front on Congressman Ellison's recent comments
Bottomline Up Front on Muslims say to terrorism: "This is not us."
Dragon Lady's Den and also an update on The Importance of Language in Fighting Wars.
Serving the People of Iraq posts on FOX's Muslims vs. Jihad and Islam vs. Islamists.

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32 Comments:

Blogger Angevin13 said...

Excellent post, Wordsmith!

Sunday, August 05, 2007 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

You make a great point, Wordsmith. I love that first picture too!

My problem is in remembering "hirabi, or hirabahists". It's a new word for me (which I learned from you) and I do have a difficult time remembering it. So... what I'm going to do is do a post on it and link back to this post. Tomorrow (Monday). Maybe then I'll be able to remember it.

It will also be a new label, because like I said, nothing else has that label on it.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I just finished putting a post in draft form regarding this subject and linking back to both of your posts on this subject.

I found a definition on the on-line dictionary for Jihad, but I think it's wrong, because it describes Jihad as a noble or an ignoble cause. I don't believe that's the way the Islamofascists believe it to be. I also found that I can not find a definition in the English language for Hirabah, hirabi, or hirabahist. I'm not surprised!

In my post I have also quoted some from this post, and from another article written on this subject by J. Michael Waller at Security Affairs. It's pretty good too.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 1:34:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

gayle,

Thanks for promoting this.

Look to the update at the bottom of this post. An anonymous commenter left a link to some useful terms and definitions.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 1:49:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for the link to the Michael Waller piece. That's good, too. I'll be sure to remember to link to your post, when it's up.

My weeks are so long, away from the computer, this post might remain at the top for a while...unless I post some trivial quickie cartoon, or somesuch.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 1:51:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 3:53:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

hirabist, you'll be reading that word more often when I describe the war on irhabyoun.

Great post Word. I'm starting to pick up speed and have posted my first real post at my place. Gotta go. oooppps almost forgot I have a word of my own that I think might be useful

demobot; a person guilty of the unrelenting spewance of democrat talking points

Sunday, August 05, 2007 3:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Amy Proctor said...

I can't tell you how glad I am to see this discussion being made here. Wordsmith posted some excellent comments on my blog and I'll add this, as I replied on my blog:

******************

Wordsmith, you hit the nail on the head with your Michael Yon quote. Sadly, the COIN should have been in place years ago but now, perhaps because enough time has gone by to convince Iraqis that al-Qaeda is far worse than any preconceived image of Americans, and "winning hearts and minds" is not a cute phrase but a strategic tactic.

I also totally agree with your assessment of many Conservatives being anti-Islam. It will have a backlash and we're seen as ignorant and hateful to Muslims, the good ones. The fact is that al-Qaeda is not Islamic. They are apostates of the Muslim faith. Moderates, as Rep. Ellison reported, are concerned about the reputation of their religion by heretics like al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

And absolutely right... radicals need to be marginalized and we're slowly seeing that happen. Iraqis, whether Imams, sheiks or Muslims at the lay level, are beginning to turn against those who use Islam for ideological purposes, as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called it, "those hiding beneath a cloak of Islam".

I saw a ridiculous show called "Muslims Against Jihad" on Fox not long ago. The show itself was good, and they even talked about Hirabah, the true term for what we think of as "jihadists" but are actually apostates of the faith. But no true Muslim can be against jihad. That's an oxymoron and it was a foolish title.

Even Pres. Bush has dropped his "islamofascist" talk. There's a movement at the top, from White House and State Dept. on down, to understand Islam and it's heretics so we can divide the two and win with the help of real Muslims.

*******************

Sunday, August 05, 2007 6:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Amy P said...

PS... in "Muslims Against Jihad", you'll notice that some of the terrorists actually named themselves a dirivitive of Hirabah... like al-Hirabi, was one name I heard. Not a conincidence. These are apostates of the faith.

I would suggest that accepting this understanding of Islam and it's heretics doesn't mean you have to theologically accept Islam. As a Christian I believe Mohammed didn't receive relelation by a good angel (if you know what I mean)but I can not endorse Islam as a religion of choice while pointing towards people's freedom of religion and encouraging for the sake of world peace the separation of the heretics from the faithful. Even if you think Muslims are misguided (or not), an understanding of Hirabah and Jihad will go a long way towards winning the GWOT (global war on terror).

Hirabists may not be as sexy as "jihadists", so call them what they are: APOSTATES.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 6:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike's America said...

Well good luck getting the P.C. multicultural crowd to assist in any counter propaganda effort.

They've sold their soul to the devil (literally) and many of see no moral difference between terrorists who joyfully cut off the heads of innocent victims shouting Allauh Akbar and U.S. troops which often risk death to avoid innocent casualties.

Still, it's good to make the argument and to help promulgate an accurate historical context for better understanding of the conflict we are in.

Sunday, August 05, 2007 7:12:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

jennifer, I am greatly heartened that you took to the terminology, and seem to understand where I am coming from. I am already braced for some disagreement amongst my fellow conservatives, over this.

Wordsmith posted some excellent comments on my blog

For anyone interested in what Amy is referring to, go here.

Amy, thanks for stopping by. You're the one who got me started on this, from your original post. I also cross-posted this at Flopping Aces.

I also totally agree with your assessment of many Conservatives being anti-Islam. It will have a backlash and we're seen as ignorant and hateful to Muslims, the good ones. The fact is that al-Qaeda is not Islamic. They are apostates of the Muslim faith. Moderates, as Rep. Ellison reported, are concerned about the reputation of their religion by heretics like al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

I agree with this. Any anti-Islam conservatives out there who want to preach to me about the Prophet being a child molestor, school textbooks in Saudi Arabia, anti-Semitic cartoons promoting homicide bombing to children, sympathizers and apologists to the actions of the Islamic terrorists, protestors over Danish cartoons, etc, etc.....save your breath. I know all this. I visit all the same sites you guys do.

I only ask that those who are saying "f***k Islam", consider and understand where I am coming from. Read some of the hateful comments on this YouTube video. Tell me that doesn't turn you off. If you were a Muslim moderate opposed to the true apostates, how would those words make you feel? It only foments greater separation, and falls into the trap and spell of the Islamists who wish to create just such a gulf between Muslims and non-Muslims.

I saw a ridiculous show called "Muslims Against Jihad" on Fox not long ago.

Lol. I linked those YouTube vids in a post a few weeks ago. I was disappointed, that it wasn't the same thing as Islam vs. Islamists. That was very, very good.

And yes, it is kind of an oxymoronic title, Muslims vs. Jihad, considering what you and I are trying to do.


PS... in "Muslims Against Jihad", you'll notice that some of the terrorists actually named themselves a dirivitive of Hirabah... like al-Hirabi, was one name I heard.

I believe in this segment of Muslims vs. Jihad, it mentions a screen-name, "Irhab007".

The term "irhab" can be found here (compliments of an anonymous commenter):


irhab (eer-HAB) -- Arabic for terrorism, thus enabling us to call the al Qaeda-style killers irhabis, irhabists and irhabiyoun rather than the so-called "jihadis" and "jihadists" and "mujahideen" and "shahideen" they so badly want to be called. (Note: "Here we are, more than five years into a Global War on Terrorism, and most of us do not even know this basic Arabic word for terrorism.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007 7:53:00 PM  
Blogger J_G said...

Word, the "hirabist" designation for terrorists may be an accurate one, I'm always up for using the right terminology but the fact remains that a majority of young muslims believe in the basic tenets of the terrorists. They believe in killing the infidels (meaning us) whether we call them hirabists or jihadists.

Changing the terminology may turn a few teetering moderates (if there really is such a thing in Islam) but for the most part I believe that the extremists are calling the shots and no matter what we call them they are still going to try to kill us with every means at their disposal.

The real way for the all the killing to stop is for the extremists to just lay down their arms and walk away. That's all they need to do. I think every one else is looking to live in peace except for the Islamic extremists. The oraganizations that are supporting these extremists are getting money and information from right here in America through CAIR and other so-called moderate Islamic organizations and not just Iran and Saudi Arabia.

I know you would just like to see peace like most of us but until the extremists lay down their arms the killing will continue.

Monday, August 06, 2007 6:05:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Monday, August 06, 2007 6:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gayle said...

I'll try again. Perhaps I can type now! :)

Thanks for the link on your update. The post is up.

Monday, August 06, 2007 6:25:00 AM  
Blogger The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Gayle made reference over at her site to you excellent article and I will make the same comment here that I made there.

Either way they need to have a fast track to see Allah courtesy of The United States Armed Forces!

Monday, August 06, 2007 6:30:00 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Hmmmm....I'm going to mull this over. "Martyr" has positive connotations for many Westerners, and "jihadist" also might for Muslims.

Anything that we can do to discredit Islamomaniacs (one of my terms) would be an excellent move and perfect counter-propaganda.

BTW, I did notice the term you mentioned in Islam vs. Islamists.

Monday, August 06, 2007 3:05:00 PM  
Blogger airforcewife said...

There is a definate cultural problem in changing terms, though, and that is to US, the westernized collective us, "jihadist" IS a bad word. It has connotations of evil to it, murderousness.

And because of those connotations, people will not want to use anything else.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007 7:20:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

but the fact remains that a majority of young muslims believe in the basic tenets of the terrorists.

And those who buy into the "jihad" propaganda of waging violence upon us, are hirabi/irhabists...whatever.

I believe Islam is only part of the mix- a very volatile one, at that, when you speak about "young Muslims". The other aspects have to do with youthful idealism, yearning for identity, conviction, and a cause...anti-American propaganda and every individual's need to feel pride in culture/identity.


They believe in killing the infidels (meaning us) whether we call them hirabists or jihadists.

That would be the Islamists. Not the moderates, I speak of. And of course, they don't care what we call them. They are the enemy. But the enemy also wants to validate what they are doing in the eyes of their fellow Muslims who are either on the fence, or not on their side. For these, we need to let them know that we recognize them as peaceful Muslims, and do not lump them in with the Islamic terrorists and their supporters and sympathizers.

Changing the terminology may turn a few teetering moderates (if there really is such a thing in Islam)

There is, Jennifer. Not every Muslim embraces Sharia Law and wants to make you a dhimmi. And for those who would say, "well then, they aren't true Muslims" would be insulting.

We do have Muslim allies in this war, who recognize that groups like al-Qaeda are the enemies of civilization. It's not helpful to push those allies away, by insulting their religion, rather than isolating the Islamists as the ones deserving of our wrath and vigilance.


but for the most part I believe that the extremists are calling the shots and no matter what we call them they are still going to try to kill us with every means at their disposal.

Yes, but at least by having western society recognize the Islamists as the apostates, and not the peaceful moderates, we may help some Muslims who may be at risk of influence from radical, fundamentalist imams, see that the West is not the true enemy that they are made out to be.

This does not mean we go the PC route of PM Gordon Brown and the BBC in "not naming the enemy". Call them terrorist; even better, call them "Islamic terrorists". But don't call them what they wish to be called.

Crosspatch at Flopping Aces left this great comment:

I am glad to see this issue getting more discussion. I think I brought it up here last summer but it now finally seems to be getting more traction. There was another discussion recently of this topic on another blog too

The point is, every time we use the term "jihadi" in describing them, we are playing directly into Osama's game plan. It is exactly what he wanted us to do. He wants to incite hatred toward Muslims in order to more easily facilitate the rallying of those Muslims to extremism. It is easier for them to hate us if we already appear to hate them and using the term "jihadi" sends a message to them that says "we understand you are fighting for good and we are against you and that makes us evil". By calling them "jihadi" we are by default calling ourselves the great satan and assisting in rallying people to al Qaida's cause.


I think every one else is looking to live in peace except for the Islamic extremists. The oraganizations that are supporting these extremists are getting money and information from right here in America through CAIR and other so-called moderate Islamic organizations and not just Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Yes, the media such as PBS thinks CAIR and only those Muslims who grow their beards out and fit a stereotype are the true mainstream, moderates. CAIR speaks as much for Muslim moderates as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson do for black Americans.

Try the anti-CAIR American Islamic Forum for Democracy as representative of the types of Muslims who we should be embracing and not alienating by spouting and lashing out vitriolic hate in the generalized direction of ALL of Islam.

I know you would just like to see peace like most of us but until the extremists lay down their arms the killing will continue.

Jennifer, I need not remind you that I am a pro-war on Islamic terror 9/11 conservative. I know that the path to peace includes "martyring" the Islamic terrorists.

The "killing will continue" also, if our side doesn't fight "smart" and gets pulled into being willing participants in the endgame that al-Qaeda seems to want to bring about. We are following their gameplan, so far. Doesn't mean we should not be engaging them in warfare. But warfare happens not just on the battlefield, but on all fronts, at every level. They have been successful at getting their propaganda out. That's what creates more terrorists, with Islamic fundamentalism only being part of the equation.

Killing the terrorists is only mopping up the mess that exists. Certainly mopping up is important; but more efficient would be to, at the same time, turn off the faucet and understand root causes and act accordingly to offer treatment at the "hearts and mind" level.

This, too, does not mean I believe in the liberal notions of "what the terrorists need is more understanding and therapy".

I don't know how I can make myself any clearer, without spending a lot of time typing a comment that few people will ever bother reading.

It's past midnight, and I'm exhausted.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 12:50:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

aow, I'm glad you are "mulling it over". You're one of the ones I was worried about, who might not consider what I had to write, since so many of your posts are about being on the alert against the Islamic threat (of which I agree, is a threat).

afw, the only way alternative terms like "hirabah" would work, is if mass media started participating in its use. (Much like how some are using the term "homicide bombers" rather than "suicide bombers") It would certainly reinforce the moderate voices in all of this who do not see this as a war against 1.2 billion Muslims. Those billion Muslims need to realize that, if they are listening to the radical voices and the anti-American WORLDWIDE propaganda that says American foreign policy is the problem. It is not (and I will print my anti-Ron Paul post soon, on why American foreign policy is not to blame).

I think it is a shame that "jihad" has come to be defined by those making the loudest noise- the Islamic terrorists. No one is to blame. It happened naturally. But an active counterpropaganda war should be waged to help Islam redefine itself as a "religion of peace".

Whatever happened to "treat others as one would wish to be treated?"

One doesn't have to like Islam. One can go on criticizing the Koran, and all its faults and its "radicalizing gene". But that doesn't mean I'd show disrespect and dump a Koran into the toilet.

When its practitioners can take the criticism and the toilet-flushing...and not wish to blow us up over it, then we'll know that the religion of Islam has maturated into the 21st century, along with the rest of civilization.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007 1:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whether or not those moderates portrayed in Islam vs. Islamists are the mainstream majority or the mainstream minority, reformation of Islam from 7th century practice and interpretation is necessary if it is to survive in peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world in the 21st.

Whether or not reformation of Islam is necessary is of little relevance, since reformation of Islam is impossible. Islam cannot be changed into something compatible with our times without ceasing to be Islam.

Therefore we should never, under no circumstances, give any support to anyone who claims to want to reform Islam. Given the evil inherent in Islam, originating from its divine and literal scriptures, no form of Islam can exist that is compatible with the 21st century and that is not evil.

Support for Islam, in any shape or form, is in fact support for evil.

Friday, August 10, 2007 2:28:00 PM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

sami abdallah/Abdullah Shaikh/anonymous:

Whether or not reformation of Islam is necessary is of little relevance, since reformation of Islam is impossible. Islam cannot be changed into something compatible with our times without ceasing to be Islam.

Of course it can. You can cease to call it "Islam" if you'd like. But who are you to define what is and isn't Islam to those moderates who claim what they practice is Islam, anymore than the claim al-Qaeda has laid on what is and isn't "true" Islam?

Evolution and change is the natural order of things, no matter how much we wish to preserve traditions and the past.

Therefore we should never, under no circumstances, give any support to anyone who claims to want to reform Islam.

So, we treat the Muslims who embrace modernity as apostates and radicalized fringes from the Islam of the fundamentalists?

Given the evil inherent in Islam, originating from its divine and literal scriptures, no form of Islam can exist that is compatible with the 21st century and that is not evil.

That's a determinist view of the world. And it's wrong.

Support for Islam, in any shape or form, is in fact support for evil.

Ok, call me evil. Feel better? Does calling me evil in fact make it so?

Friday, August 10, 2007 9:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it can. You can cease to call it "Islam" if you'd like. But who are you to define what is and isn't Islam to those moderates who claim what they practice is Islam, anymore than the claim al-Qaeda has laid on what is and isn't "true" Islam?

A nonsensical question, as what Islam is does not depend on someone sitting down and defining it. Islam was already defined 1400 years ago, by Mohammad. What Islam is, therefore, is not affected by what Muslims (or apostates calling themselves Muslims) want it to be today. So I am not trying to define Islam.

I suspect that the flawed premise here is the usual nominalist nonsense that Islam is "whatever its adherents want it to be", or something to that effect.

So, we treat the Muslims who embrace modernity as apostates

Well, at the very least we should be honest and acknowledge that they are apostates.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 3:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a determinist view of the world. And it's wrong.

Actually, no, that's not the case. It is perfectly OK to argue that something can evolve from Islam and into something that can exist that is compatible with the 21st century and that is not evil, but there is no basis for claiming that the end result of such an evolution could still be called Islam.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 3:14:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

A nonsensical question, as what Islam is does not depend on someone sitting down and defining it. Islam was already defined 1400 years ago, by Mohammad. What Islam is, therefore, is not affected by what Muslims (or apostates calling themselves Muslims) want it to be today. So I am not trying to define Islam.

What you are doing is constraining it to fundamentalism, as the only means in which it can be practiced.


Well, at the very least we should be honest and acknowledge that they are apostates.


And you miss half the point in my original post when I say we should use alternative terms, other than jihad. Whether you're correct or not, doesn't matter: It's about using the alternative term for propaganda purposes. They are Islamic terrorists and there's nothing holy about them.

but there is no basis for claiming that the end result of such an evolution could still be called Islam.

Of course it can. "Islam" is just a name. Whether its adherents wish to call it "Islam", "NeoIslami" "Islamic Baptist" or whatever, it is the practitioners themselves who come to define what Islam is and isn't.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 6:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course it can. "Islam" is just a name.

The wordsmith is obviously a nominalist.

The problem is that by saying that Islam is just a name (the implication being that Islam is "whatever Muslims want it to be") it becomes impossible to criticize Islam, because any criticism of Islam thus really becomes criticism of the will of a group of people who have in common only the fact that they choose to use the 6-letter word "Muslim" about themselves - everything else is just arbitrary, and therefore impossible to summarize, let alone criticize.

Whether its adherents wish to call it "Islam", "NeoIslami" "Islamic Baptist" or whatever, it is the practitioners themselves who come to define what Islam is and isn't.

What makes people "adherents of Islam" (ie. Muslims) is precisely the fact that they decide to adhere to that certain "something" that is Islam - not that they decide to call some arbitrary rules, ways of living, or whatever, "Islam". Islam is not an expression of the will of Muslims, but the will of Allah as outlined in the Islamic scriptures.

Since we know about the contents of the Quran and Hadith, we know that these works can never form the basis of an Islam that is compatible with the 21st century and that is not evil.

And since the moderates in a lot of cases are actually apostates, they are in fact not adherents of Islam, which means that if Islam were defined by its adherents (which it is not), then they would not be among those who could decide what it would be.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 7:12:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

The problem is that by saying that Islam is just a name (the implication being that Islam is "whatever Muslims want it to be") it becomes impossible to criticize Islam, because any criticism of Islam thus really becomes criticism of the will of a group of people who have in common only the fact that they choose to use the 6-letter word "Muslim" about themselves - everything else is just arbitrary, and therefore impossible to summarize, let alone criticize.

No. We're not saying here, that "Islam" is just a word, and we can call whatever the hell we want "Islam" and it means whatever we wish it to mean.

I'm saying that if practitioners wish to evolve, then allow them to do so. Don't tell them that "no, you are no longer practicing Islam".

Did not Islam evolve, with advent of the Hadith?



What makes people "adherents of Islam" (ie. Muslims) is precisely the fact that they decide to adhere to that certain "something" that is Islam - not that they decide to call some arbitrary rules, ways of living, or whatever, "Islam". Islam is not an expression of the will of Muslims, but the will of Allah as outlined in the Islamic scriptures.


By your logic, how can there be anything but apostates to all the religions of the earth?


Since we know about the contents of the Quran and Hadith, we know that these works can never form the basis of an Islam that is compatible with the 21st century and that is not evil.


And I disagree. Do you deny that there are passages in the Koran that aren't pious and virtuous?

The Hadith was written after Mohammed's death, causing a split into various sects. It's the Talmud of the Muslims.

And since the moderates in a lot of cases are actually apostates, they are in fact not adherents of Islam, which means that if Islam were defined by its adherents (which it is not), then they would not be among those who could decide what it would be.

Osama and his ilk, themselves, do not follow all the tenets of Islam. They follow the ideological interpretation of it by Sayyid Qtub and Osama likes to selectively quote from Ibn Taimiyyah.

There is no consensus of agreement even amongst fundamentalists, among Sunni and Shia; so who are you to define what Islam is and isn't, for them and for us?

You cannot even get two practitioners let alone imams to all agree on the same exact interpretation of everything Islam. From the beginning, after the passing of Mohammed, you had civil wars and various power struggles of interpretations. Who's the apostate and who's the true, devout Muslim?

Saturday, August 11, 2007 7:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm saying that if practitioners wish to evolve, then allow them to do so. Don't tell them that "no, you are no longer practicing Islam".

The point here is that these practitioners are Muslims only to the extent they practice Islam. If they "evolve", ie. change their practice, that might just mean that they to a lesser extent practice Islam. If the practitioners evolve and/or their practice evolves, that doesn't mean that Islam evolves.

Do you deny that there are passages in the Koran that aren't pious and virtuous?

No, however they (the Meccan suras) are for the most part abrogated by evil and violent passages (the Medinan suras), and they are therefore of little value to anyone except Islam apologists, who often quote the nice passages to give the impression that Islam is in fact a religion of peace.

who are you to define what Islam is and isn't, for them and for us?

There's that question - again. I believe I have answered this enough times now.

From the beginning, after the passing of Mohammed, you had civil wars and various power struggles of interpretations. Who's the apostate and who's the true, devout Muslim?

Of course there are internal differences, and the struggles serve to highlight the serious consequences of apostasy (real or imagined) within Islam - they hardly indicate any climate for reform. Besides, it only takes a quick glance in the Quran to dismiss the potential for reform, anyway.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 8:18:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

The point here is that these practitioners are Muslims only to the extent they practice Islam. If they "evolve", ie. change their practice, that might just mean that they to a lesser extent practice Islam. If the practitioners evolve and/or their practice evolves, that doesn't mean that Islam evolves.

I understand what you are saying. But it becomes rather a pointless exercise in semantics.


No, however they (the Meccan suras) are for the most part abrogated by evil and violent passages (the Medinan suras), and they are therefore of little value to anyone except Islam apologists, who often quote the nice passages to give the impression that Islam is in fact a religion of peace.


I agree.


There's that question - again. I believe I have answered this enough times now.


What do you expect? For me to answer you just here, when you've been repeating the same opinions elsewhere?


Of course there are internal differences, and the struggles serve to highlight the serious consequences of apostasy (real or imagined) within Islam - they hardly indicate any climate for reform. Besides, it only takes a quick glance in the Quran to dismiss the potential for reform, anyway.


This has been a strange exercise, for me. Because I actually share much of your criticism of Islam, as a religion, and its history.

But I do think that with 1.3 billion who consider themselves its practitioners, the way forward is not in convincing them to stop the practice, but in encouraging those who embrace modernity and reformation. Reformation is possible. You just want to call it something else other than Islam.

Calling Islam an "evil religion" will only alienate our allies in the war against Islamic terror.

To call me an "apologist" for not agreeing with you in calling Islam evil is your opinion and nothing else.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 8:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying. But it becomes rather a pointless exercise in semantics.

It might seem pointless at first, but in fact it's rather significant (Wordsmith might want to read some of the following posts, which might be of some relevance.)

The bottom line - give credit where credit is due, and specifically, don't give Islam the credit for Muslims' failure to practice it.

But I do think that with 1.3 billion who consider themselves its practitioners, the way forward is not in convincing them to stop the practice, but in encouraging those who embrace modernity and reformation. Reformation is possible. You just want to call it something else other than Islam.

Personally I believe we're better off putting ourselves in the position where whatever should happen to Islam is of little or no concern to us (ideally, the West should therefore separate from Islam).

As for Islam itself, ultimately it's based on the "holy" scriptures (the Quran and the Hadiths), the Quran being the
literal, perfect word of Allah, which can therefore not be questioned or interpreted to any significant degree. I simply acknowledge that Islam has an identity, and that given its foundation, it cannot evolve into something peaceful and compatible with the 21st century without being stripped of its essential features, at which point it would naturally cease to be Islam.

Calling Islam an "evil religion" will only alienate our allies in the war against Islamic terror.

First, if Islam is an evil religion, then we should say so because it is true, we shouldn't refrain from doing it because we don't like the (potential) consequences of this being true.

Second, I assume Wordsmith is thinking of moderate Muslims when he writes about "our allies in the war against Islamic terror". To that, my reply is that I don't consider Muslims our allies at all - true, some individuals might be our allies, but remember, these people, by calling themselves Muslims, still pledge allegiance to Islam, and therefore we shouldn't allow ourselves to depend on them. Remember the concept of taqiyya, which means that we can never actually be sure about who is a moderate and who only seems to be a moderate. Does that sound like a good point of departure when choosing allies? I think not.

Saturday, August 11, 2007 9:44:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

It might seem pointless at first, but in fact it's rather significant

It's significant to you in how you choose to see things; and it's significant to me in how I've chosen a different path to the use of language in this war. You reject the premise of my argument regarding promoting alternative Arabic terms than "jihad" to describe the Islamic terrorists. So long as we understand each other, I don't see the point in this endless circling the wagon, repeating the same thing over and over again.

(Wordsmith might want to read some of the following posts, which might be of some relevance.)

Those are great links. I'm familiar already, though with much of the material that drove those posts. I've been there, thought that. Now, I've evolved. Is it ok if I still call myself a pro-war-against-Islamic terror 9/11 conservative? Or have I disqualified myself from that labeling as well?



The bottom line - give credit where credit is due, and specifically, don't give Islam the credit for Muslims' failure to practice it.

You are so insistent on YOUR definition of what Islam is and isn't is just bizarre to me. "The truth is"...." the fact is"....no. This is your opinion about Islam, and how you wish to perceive the threat and the religion. You say it's inflexible, and I say you are inflexible in seeing anything outside of your point of view, as a possibility.

I'm not deeply entrenched on my opinion over this (prior to recent, I probably agreed with you more than I do right now); you are.

But you've said your piece and I've said mine; and at this point, I don't think you have anything new to bring to the table on this, that you haven't already said, and which I don't already know about.



Personally I believe we're better off putting ourselves in the position where whatever should happen to Islam is of little or no concern to us (ideally, the West should therefore separate from Islam).


Except for the fact that we live in a world where what goes on in Islam is affecting us, right now.

As for Islam itself, ultimately it's based on the "holy" scriptures (the Quran and the Hadiths), the Quran being the
literal, perfect word of Allah, which can therefore not be questioned or interpreted to any significant degree.


And I make a distinction between fundamentalist Islam- Salafists, Wahabbists....all those who wish to subjugate the world under Sharia Law- and peaceful moderates who practice Islam.

You want to deny them that what they practice is still "Islam". It becomes a futile exercise in semantics. It matters, only in how it affects the propaganda war of winning hearts and minds. A religion by any other name is still a religion.

I simply acknowledge that Islam has an identity, and that given its foundation, it cannot evolve into something peaceful and compatible with the 21st century without being stripped of its essential features, at which point it would naturally cease to be Islam.

I agree with you and I disagree. Again, it becomes a word play and language war.

You feel we are better off in the war of words, by identifying Islam as Islam. I say it's important to make the distinction between the Islamic terrorists and their Islamist sympathizers and peaceful moderates who want no part of subjugating you and I.

You wish to call the latter something apart from "Islam".


First, if Islam is an evil religion, then we should say so because it is true, we shouldn't refrain from doing it because we don't like the (potential) consequences of this being true.


Well, that's where you're at: calling it an evil religion. That is your opinion. It is not mine. That being said, I recognize a host of inherent problems within the teachings of the Koran.

Moderates exist. Yet you won't allow them to exist. At least, not under the banner of "Islam". You won't acknowledge them that. And yet, somehow today's Christians and Jews can call themselves Christians and Jews, even though the manner in which those faiths are practiced are widely varied.

Second, I assume Wordsmith is thinking of moderate Muslims when he writes about "our allies in the war against Islamic terror". To that, my reply is that I don't consider Muslims our allies at all - true, some individuals might be our allies,

It's a substantial more than just "some individuals". Muslims have been dying for decades, fighting with the radical militant Islamists who push for a return to fundamentalist teachings, and find validations in terrorism through the writings of radicals like Sayyid Qtub.

but remember, these people, by calling themselves Muslims, still pledge allegiance to Islam, and therefore we shouldn't allow ourselves to depend on them.


Great. Why not just declare war on Islam, and have it all out in the open then? Do you think we should bomb Mecca and Medina, while you're there?

I am really baffled by this position. We need Muslim allies in this war against their radical brethren (yes, I know: you don't think of them as radical, but the "norm". Let's have clarity over agreement, and I'll continue using the language I choose and you can do the same- so long as we understand one another).


Remember the concept of taqiyya, which means that we can never actually be sure about who is a moderate and who only seems to be a moderate. Does that sound like a good point of departure when choosing allies? I think not.

Yes, but it is conspiratorial paranoia to believe that all think like this.

Whoever I point out as living to the contrary, you want to just dismiss as, "oh, they aren't true Muslim practioners of Islam".

Forget that they themselves may consider themselves as being devout Muslims. Are you their imam, to tell them what they should and shouldn't believe, if they are to adhere to the strict tenets of Islam?

Sunday, August 12, 2007 12:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You reject the premise of my argument regarding promoting alternative Arabic terms than "jihad" to describe the Islamic terrorists.

And of course I reject calling "jihad" anything other than "jihad", because at the end of the day, "jihad" remains "jihad" no matter what we call it, whereas calling it anything else than "jihad" only contributes to hiding the nature of Islam - it is, in other words, Islam apologism.

Is it ok if I still call myself a pro-war-against-Islamic terror 9/11 conservative? Or have I disqualified myself from that labeling as well?

Wordsmith is probably not a conservative, but a right-liberal (aka neoconservative).

This is your opinion about Islam

No, it is the truth about Islam.

Except for the fact that we live in a world where what goes on in Islam is affecting us, right now.

And so we must decide to change this so that what goes on with Islam won't affect us to any significant degree.

And I make a distinction between fundamentalist Islam- Salafists, Wahabbists....all those who wish to subjugate the world under Sharia Law- and peaceful moderates who practice Islam.

Of course there's a distinction here, but it's a distinction of the degree of adherence to Islam, not a distinction of kinds of Islam. There are no "radical" or "moderate" versions of Islam - there is only Islam.

You want to deny them that what they practice is still "Islam".

Whether what they practice is Islam or not is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. Wordsmith can check this himself if he a) finds out what Islam is, and b) compares the practice of self-proclaimed Muslims with what Islam is. If b) differs from a), then they are not Muslims. It's really as simple as that. It doesn't matter if someone calls himself a Muslim, this person is only a Muslim if he actually practices Islam.

It becomes a futile exercise in semantics. It matters, only in how it affects the propaganda war of winning hearts and minds.

How ironic that Wordsmith somehow selectively dismisses the importance of using correct terminology in this case, as if it were of no significance, while at the same time he wants use an incorrect term in place of "jihad", as if using incorrect terminology somehow would cause changes of great significance.

And regarding winning hearts and minds, if we really want to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, there's only one thing we can do - become Muslims ourselves. Because Muslims don't dislike us because of what we do or say, they dislike us because we're not Muslims. And as long as we're not Muslims, it doesn't help what we do (though of course, promoting misleading terminology will certainly put Islam in a more benign light, which will help the Muslims because people will be less resistant to Islamification).

You feel we are better off in the war of words, by identifying Islam as Islam. I say it's important to make the distinction between the Islamic terrorists and their Islamist sympathizers and peaceful moderates who want no part of subjugating you and I.

It's important to make the distinction between the Islamic terrorists and the peaceful moderates - I have not denied that. However, it is also important to give credit only where due, and explain what the cause of this distinction is. The Islamic terrorists are what they are because they are devout adherents to Islam (ie, they are good Muslims), whereas the peaceful moderates are what they are because they are not devout adherents to Islam (ie, they are bad Muslims).

You wish to call the latter something apart from "Islam".

No, the former and the latter both practice the same kind of Islam, but the latter only to an insignificant degree (which makes them de facto apostates in a lot of cases).

Well, that's where you're at: calling it an evil religion. That is your opinion. It is not mine.

Wordsmith is welcome to examine the scriptures and the historical record of Islam, and then present a coherent argument that Islam is not in fact evil. I say, good luck. (Of course, the only thing Wordsmith could do here would be to point to moderates and say that because they are moderate and peaceful, then Islam isn't necessarily evil, but then he'd fail to make the distinction between Islam and Muslims, a simple, but important distinction that Wordsmith is reluctant to make, perhaps because his entire argument crumbles if he does.)

Moderates exist. Yet you won't allow them to exist.

Yes, they exist, and I allow them to exist, but I recognize their moderation for what it is - a lack of adherence to Islam.

Great. Why not just declare war on Islam, and have it all out in the open then?

That's one possibility, though I think it's better if we just separate ourselves from Islam, and contain Islam in dar al-Islam.

Do you think we should bomb Mecca and Medina, while you're there?

It might be an effective threat to make, not sure if it's a good idea to actually do, though.

We need Muslim allies in this war against their radical brethren

Why? What is it they can achieve that non-Muslims cannot?

Yes, but it is conspiratorial paranoia to believe that all think like this.

There's that ridiculous conspiracy accusation again (a first for Wordsmith, though). I didn't say that all Muslims think like this, my point was that some do, and it is impossible for us to tell those who do from those who don't. It's a very important point, but I'd of course be interested to hear a suggestion from Wordsmith on exactly how he would tell a Muslim practicing taqiyya from one who doesn't.

Whoever I point out as living to the contrary, you want to just dismiss as, "oh, they aren't true Muslim practioners of Islam".

Whoever doesn't practice Islam as they are commanded to, obviously aren't true practitioners of Islam - that should be obvious.

Are you their imam, to tell them what they should and shouldn't believe, if they are to adhere to the strict tenets of Islam?

Yet another variation of "that question" again... Wordsmith should know by now that this is a meaningless question, yet the fact that he still poses it suggests that he has no clue.

(As the weekend is over, I'll have no time to comment further)

Sunday, August 12, 2007 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

And of course I reject calling "jihad" anything other than "jihad", because at the end of the day, "jihad" remains "jihad" no matter what we call it, whereas calling it anything else than "jihad" only contributes to hiding the nature of Islam - it is, in other words, Islam apologism.

No, it isn't. It's missing the point. The terrorists wish to think of themselves as holy warriors and martyrs. By calling them "jihadists", we legitimize the "jihad" movement, and in western language, have turned it into a dirty word, equating it to suicide bombings and terrorism in the name of religious fanaticism. We should marginalize the terrorists by calling them what they actually are, in their own language. This in turn, from a propaganda standpoint, will reinforce arguments appealing to moderates, that we are not at war with their faith.

I already know what you're going to say; but knock yourself out, anyway, repeating yourself.

I'll redirect you to read this over again, not that you'll even bother with it. I'll make it easier:
So, what is the point of this new and improved mini-lexicon of Arabic and Islamic words and frames of reference? In terms of the vital hearts, minds and souls aspects of the Long War on AQ-style Terrorism, the rewards could be great, indeed.

Just for starters, imagine the al Qaeda killers' great difficulty in winning the approval of any truly devout and faithful Muslims whatever once these genocidal irhabis (terrorists) come to be viewed by the Umma (the Muslim World) as mufsiduun (evildoers) engaged in Hirabah (unholy war) and in murtadd (apostasy) against the Qur'an's God of Abraham and surely on their way to Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire), instead.





Wordsmith is probably not a conservative, but a right-liberal (aka neoconservative).


Thanks.



No, it is the truth about Islam.


According to your opinion. Wishing it be so, doesn't make it so. But keep trying to impose your brand of reality here, all you like. I'm not going anywhere and you seem to be someone with time on your hands to type.


And so we must decide to change this so that what goes on with Islam won't affect us to any significant degree.


I'm trying to do just that. You simply disagree with my approach.



Of course there's a distinction here, but it's a distinction of the degree of adherence to Islam, not a distinction of kinds of Islam. There are no "radical" or "moderate" versions of Islam - there is only Islam.


With all due respect, that's a ridiculous statement. "Radical" and "moderate" versions of Islam ARE distinctions; and yes, even degrees of adherence are distinctions.




Whether what they practice is Islam or not is not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact. Wordsmith can check this himself if he a) finds out what Islam is, and b) compares the practice of self-proclaimed Muslims with what Islam is. If b) differs from a), then they are not Muslims. It's really as simple as that. It doesn't matter if someone calls himself a Muslim, this person is only a Muslim if he actually practices Islam.


You are playing with semantics, and nothing more. You perceive someone like Dr. Jasser as misguided and harmful, because he won't condemn all of Islam (and draws the distinction), let alone renounce that he is a devout Muslim, himself. You'll call him an apostate and not a true adherent. But this is all your opinion.


How ironic that Wordsmith somehow selectively dismisses the importance of using correct terminology in this case, as if it were of no significance, while at the same time he wants use an incorrect term in place of "jihad", as if using incorrect terminology somehow would cause changes of great significance.


This is because you have already made assumptions, entrenched into your head, regarding what constitutes "correct" terminology. You refuse to acknowledge Islam the same path of evolution and reformation afforded other religions. You want to keep it fixed, in one point in time, to make it easier to hate/fight/malign an entire "group of people".

And regarding winning hearts and minds, if we really want to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, there's only one thing we can do - become Muslims ourselves.

Because you refuse to see a distinction in defining moderates and radicals.

Because Muslims don't dislike us because of what we do or say, they dislike us because we're not Muslims.

So, my Muslim friends don't like me because I'm not Muslim? Oh, right right...they aren't true Muslims, because they don't practice your dim and narrow view of what Islam is, as a whole.

And as long as we're not Muslims, it doesn't help what we do (though of course, promoting misleading terminology will certainly put Islam in a more benign light, which will help the Muslims because people will be less resistant to Islamification).

That's because your assumption is that Muslims wish to subjugate the entire world under Islam. If they don't, they aren't true practitioners.




It's important to make the distinction between the Islamic terrorists and the peaceful moderates - I have not denied that. However, it is also important to give credit only where due, and explain what the cause of this distinction is. The Islamic terrorists are what they are because they are devout adherents to Islam


So far, I can agree to that with footnotes...but I know where this is headed:

(ie, they are good Muslims), whereas the peaceful moderates are what they are because they are not devout adherents to Islam (ie, they are bad Muslims).

Gee...where have I already heard this before?! It's new to me [/sarcasm]

You go on telling the peaceful moderates that they are "bad Muslims" and that they practice "an evil religion". Since you don't like my method of "winning hearts and minds", that is certainly another approach that should achieve much success. [/more sarcasm]



No, the former and the latter both practice the same kind of Islam, but the latter only to an insignificant degree (which makes them de facto apostates in a lot of cases).


And do you draw distinctions between Sunni and Shia? Sufis? Ahmaddiya? Islam as it's practiced in Indonesia? Thailand? The Philippines? When groups branch off, with their theological difference of interpretation, who becomes the apostates and who the true practitioners of Islam?



Wordsmith is welcome to examine the scriptures and the historical record of Islam, and then present a coherent argument that Islam is not in fact evil.


Since I find myself on the other side of the argument, I'm not going to mention the numerous ills and problems I see in Islam, as a matter of MY OPINION. I'd only be preaching it to the choirboy, anonymous/sami abdallah/ Abdullah Shaikh.


Why don't you do yourself a favor and go pick up a book; or run a Google search for something other than the partisan interpretation of what Islam is and isn't? For the past few years, I've been reading from your playbook. It's time to expand and branch out a little.

Looks like you're pushing me further to the center, away from the far flung right, on this one.



I say, good luck. (Of course, the only thing Wordsmith could do here would be to point to moderates and say that because they are moderate and peaceful, then Islam isn't necessarily evil,

Who are you addressing? Your audience? Interesting how you refer to me in the third person.

And why should I do your homework for you, espousing the virtues of Islam? I'm not the pro-Islamic scholar to do that for you.

but then he'd fail to make the distinction between Islam and Muslims, a simple, but important distinction that Wordsmith is reluctant to make, perhaps because his entire argument crumbles if he does.)

In your fevered wet dreams, yes.


Yes, they exist, and I allow them to exist, but I recognize their moderation for what it is - a lack of adherence to Islam.


Islam as YOU choose to pigeonhole it.

That's one possibility, though I think it's better if we just separate ourselves from Islam, and contain Islam in dar al-Islam.

An isolationist approach?



It might be an effective threat to make,


I don't think it's an effective threat to make; but given how you view Islam and our Muslim allies in the war against Islamic terror, I can see how you might think so.

not sure if it's a good idea to actually do, though.

Glad to hear that.



Why? What is it they can achieve that non-Muslims cannot?


That question just floors me.

Who understands Muslims, better than fellow Muslims? The Arab mind and culture, better than an Arab?

Thanks to tip-offs by those within the Muslim community, we've had plots foiled.

Is not Muslims serving patriotically in our armed services a good thing?

Do we not need allies in the Middle East, and around the world, who are Muslim, providing us with intell, support, manpower, and mutual interest in seeing Islamic terror threats stopped? The same terror groups who butcher Muslims every day?



There's that ridiculous conspiracy accusation again (a first for Wordsmith, though).


Congratulations! You've worked hard to earn it.

I didn't say that all Muslims think like this, my point was that some do, and it is impossible for us to tell those who do from those who don't.

That's a fruitless exercise and one steeped in prejudice. "Some do"? Yeah, you can say that about any group of people, in different demagraphics. Some will feel one way on any given topic, and the rest will not.



It's a very important point, but I'd of course be interested to hear a suggestion from Wordsmith on exactly how he would tell a Muslim practicing taqiyya from one who doesn't.

Well, we can pull out our taqiah detector machine, and hook every Muslim up to it. If they pass, can we keep 'em? Huh? Can we, can we? I'll let you fry the others who didn't pass the test.


We don't need to persecute and lump together all Muslims, simply because they practice Islam, and have a hidden agenda against us.

We should be vigilante, but not act as thought police. There are plenty of Islamists who are very open and vocal about their opinions regarding the west, about Americans, and about our foreign policies. And then of course, there are the ones who are actually trying to kill us.


Whoever doesn't practice Islam as they are commanded to, obviously aren't true practitioners of Islam - that should be obvious.


That probably makes up about 1 billion of them, as you'd like to have Islam defined. How many Christians behave as "true" Christians?


Yet another variation of "that question" again...


What do you expect when you just keep repeating yourself, running around in circles? For something different?

Wordsmith should know by now that this is a meaningless question, yet the fact that he still poses it suggests that he has no clue.

Wordsmith says you should know by now that if you keep spouting the same thing over and over again, you'll get back the same response back.

(As the weekend is over, I'll have no time to comment further)

You mean you actually have a life outside of blog-commenting? Congrats!

Have a good weekend....Go hug a Muslim!

Sunday, August 12, 2007 4:52:00 PM  

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