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Photo Credits: Joe Mortis/NY Times 

Islamism, also known as Political Islam (Arabic: إسلام سياسي‎‎ islām siyāsī)

After reading about the marriage of a 15-year-old girl in Germany, it cannot be said with any degree of intellectual honesty that the beliefs, values and customs of the political ideology of Islam are at all compatible with Western beliefs and values. The sanctioning of such a marriage is the direct antithesis of many of our Western values, and while many would expect for a better synthesis of Western life and Islam to exist, visibly it does. When you look at the second generation of Muslim-Canadians, problem pockets still exist. For example, according to the RCMP and Privy Council Office, extremist literature is abundant in Canadian mosques.  

However, this shouldn’t surprise anyone other than hardline Liberals since Islamism is a political ideology that has not evolved since its founding by the prophet Muhammad a millennia ago. In fact, one needs only to look at Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan or anywhere in the Islamic World, to realize that these stone age beliefs have no place in the West. Those countries have, to varying degrees, tried to combine democracy with islamic ideology, and the results are Theocracy.

To understand the incompatibility of these two ideologies we must first unpack their core beliefs. The West has been founded upon the principles of liberty, freedom and secularism, expressed by early Enlightenment writers such as David Hume, John Locke, Rousseau and the founding fathers. It is based upon two notions: individual rights and secularism. The founding fathers and the philosophers mentioned first argue that the individual is more important than the collective. Secondly,  that it is the objective of the state to uphold and protect those rights. Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson emphasized “a wall of separation between church and state,” which is arguably the most important point in our discussion since Islamism at its core is a religious ideology.

Islamism is part of the greater Islamic diaspora, or as Sam Harris (one of the leading authorities on the case against Islamism) puts it, the concentric circles of Islam. He said that at the core of Islam you have Jihadists, who are people that are convinced of the necessity of the Caliphate and want to use any means necessary to bring about and expand the Caliphate. Often times this is predicated by much of the Hadiths and many troubling verses in the Quran. Outside of this circle are Islamists, people who are just as convinced of the Caliphate but are not willing to go to extremes for it. As Harris puts it, they want to work within the system. Further away from the core are Conservatives, people who do not take seriously the doctrine of Jihad but have troubling views on women and homosexuals. Finally, the furthest away from the circle are nominal Muslims who have successfully synthesized western values and Islamic ones—these are the people who want to integrate into Western society by adopting the values, traditions, laws and customs. I have no point of contention with them. However, the people I do and am concerned with are the Jihadists and Islamists, because they are the ones who want to subvert Western values and replace it with theocratic fascism.

Islam and by extension Islamism were founded by Muhammad in the seventh century, and if one is to believe in the creation myth of Islam, the archangel Gabriel dictated the Quran to an illiterate merchant warlord. It is important to note that the Quran is strictly a book of faith with a quasi-political aspect to it. The bulk of Islamist rhetoric come from the Hadith, which is a narrative about the life, beliefs, and teachings of Muhammad. The canon of Islamism is made up by the Quran and Hadiths, which many Islamic scholars argue must be taken together. It is the sole claim of Islam that these two books taken together will lead the Muslim people into creating the unfortunately named Islamic State or Caliphate. Like our constitution, which derives jurisprudence from its precepts, Islamic jurisprudence is predicated by the Hadiths and Quran. Every chapter of the Hadith has something to do with governing a state or interactions between people. 

While I could go on ad nauseum on each chapter of the Hadiths, it is more prudent to study the practice of the foremost authorities on Islamism and contrast it with the West. As it stands, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the foremost authorities on Islamism and the institution of Islamic Law. It is no surprise that these are also two countries with the most abhorrent human rights violations.

Saudi Arabia is heralded as the foremost authority on Sharia, and the reality of life in Saudi Arabia is, to say the least, frightening. The punishment for adultery, rape, sorcery, witchcraft and armed robbery range from beheading to crucifixion. This is all encompassed under the umbrella of Sharia, which is based on the Quran and Hadith. In 2016, Saudi Arabia conducted a series of mass executions on the basis of blasphemy and hearsay, where 47 people were executed. The rights of women and homosexuals is a similar, sad tale. Until recently women in Saudi Arabia were not allowed to drive nor be seen in public without their husbands. Without a trial or due process, if one is accused of homosexuality the immediate punishment is death.

On the other hand it may very well be the case that there are Muslim majority countries with secular constitutions: Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey (to some extent), Morocco, Lebanon and Tunisia come to mind as States with secular constitutions and Muslim majority populations. However, it is important to note that during the Arab Spring, Mohammed Morsi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, consolidated power in Egypt. This then began a systematic reformation of secular laws in Egypt and began the Islamization of Egypt (as President Erdogan is currently doing with Turkey). The Egyptian people had none of it, because they believe in the wall of separation between Mosque and State and that secular values are inherently better than Islamist ones. It is the case, at least in Egypt, that the people recognize the status of women, recognize that status of an impartial, pluralistic State, and the inherent importance of life and liberty defended and upheld by the State. However, a State with the political beliefs of a country like Palestine will result in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Iran. I, nor the millions of nominal Muslims around the world, would wish for such a destruction of liberty and plurality. 

In Canada we do not execute apostates, subjugate women or care about an individual’s sexual preference—our laws are not predicated upon or legitimized by an ancient book. Instead they are argued, debated, rewritten, examined, and voted on in a parliament of elected representatives. This holds true for every single liberal democracy, where liberty is granted insofar as the action taken by an individual do not harm, harass, or in anyway infringe upon the rights of another individual, and that the State is indifferent to the personal choices of individuals. Wear or don’t wear the hijab—it is not the claim of the State to tell you what you should do with your own person. However, it is Islamists who want to subvert these values and beliefs, and it is for this reason that Islamism and Islamists should be criticized, ridiculed, argued against, and not to be afraid of. For if we give into fear of Islamists, we might as well surrender our liberties. 

The reality is that Islamism is not contained to a small sect of Muslims. According to a study done by ICM, in the United Kingdom 51 per cent of British Muslims believe homosexuality should be illegal, 30 per cent believe that a woman should always obey her husband and 25 per cent of British Muslims believe Sharia law should be implemented. These three things do not uphold Western values, and as was alluded to earlier, the core beliefs of Islamism are as follows: first, the State derives its authority from Allah, predicated by the Quran and Hadiths. Second, that it is the function of Muslims to enact the creation and maintenance of the Caliphate. It is the case that Islamists have infringed upon, and often hurt, individuals in their pursuit of the institutionalization of Islamic law. Paris, Nice, Hebdo, Cologne, Brussels—they have all created an ethos of fear in which any criticism of Islamism is immediately conflated with a criticism of Islam, and therefore Muslims.


 

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