Is the ‘war on terror’ the ‘war on Islam’?

January 3, 2007

Some think so indeed. “Global War on Terror … is more appropriately termed the war against Islam,” suggested Colonel Tom Snodgrass, in his Rewriting the Rules of War.

Islam being unquestionably the prime motivator of jihadi actions – without Islam there would obviously be no jihad – one has to agree with Col. Snodgrass that defeating – or at least deflating – Islam would contribute mightily to the defeat of terrorism. But no matter how you call the war that is currently being waged in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is anything but the war on Islam.

The reason is simple: those are military operations, but Islam is an idea, an idea that God expressed his ultimate will for mankind when he spoke to Mohammed, and that human life must be lived, if it is to be lived at all, only in compliance with the Koran. How does one defeat an idea? The bomb and the bullet are not of much help at that unless one is very thorough indeed – the very thought of which just turns a Westerner’s stomach. And, of course, a proper weapon in any “war of ideas” is argumentation expressed through writing and speaking. “The war on terror” will not be won by killing Moslems, but by convincing them that their worldview is wrong. The most essential step in that direction is to show them why their notion of Islam as “True Faith” is a delusion.

For it is a delusion.

First of all, the entire underpinning of the murderous zeal of Moslem terrorists – their certainty that they follow God’s will in blowing themselves and others up – is quite simply erroneous. A universal communications roadblock I call “the problem of the third party” (which produces the present-day multitude of religions and their permutations, such as Islam’s Shiism and Sunnism), prevents us from knowing with certainty what God wills. The fact that Koran appeals to Moslems does not at all mean that it was authored by God. The moment one declares Islam to be the True Faith and Koran to be God’s word, he or she automatically commits an error. Irrespective of what – if anything – went on between God and Mohammed, as far as the rest of us are concerned (and Moslems, like the rest of us, are entitled to no other point of view than “as far as the rest of us are concerned”) Mohammed merely may – or, equivalently, may not, have been in contact with God. Moslems’ certainty is a self-delusion.

Second of all, as we delve into Moslem theology itself, we quickly discover in it some fatal internal contradictions. Consider this: on the one hand, Islam claims to be a monotheistic religion – it ostensibly acknowledges the existence of only one God. But on the other hand, Moslems are supposed to “serve,” and even “help” this God. Yet, “serving” and “helping” a god are thoroughly polytheistic notions; there is simply no place for them within the framework of genuine monotheism. Where there are several gods, their potency is limited by each other’s influence, and mere humans may indeed be of help – as amply evidenced by the Greek mythology. But a human kindly lending a helping hand to the Almighty, who needs no one’s help, being able to effect anything whatsoever by merely wishing it to happen, and is immutable and immune from anyone’s ill-will? Isn’t that more than a bit ridiculous? And utterly polytheistic, too?

But not only is Islam a quintessentially polytheistic religion; its claim to be an “Abrahamic” religion and a natural – and superior – successor to Judaism and Christianity is also nonsensical. Abraham’s innovation in religion was not only to worship an unseen, live, real God who created the universe, (while before his time, and all around him, only “idols” – man-made gods of wood and stone – were being worshipped); but he also drastically changed the essential mode of worship itself. Living among tribes which practiced human sacrifices of the first-born, he tried that too by attempting to sacrifice his son – and was forbidden by God to proceed. This was a watershed event, marking the total prohibition of human sacrifices in Judaism (the biblical prophets call them “abominations”) – and, of course, by the time Christianity branched off Judaism great many centuries later, this was a totally unthinkable thing to do. But six centuries after the birth of Christianity, and two millennia after Abraham, Islam re-evaluated Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son and declared it to be the very model of “obedience to God.” Hence, to be killed for the sake of God (here again the silly polytheistic notion that He is in need of human protection and help comes into play) became the greatest possible distinction resulting in the highest possible posthumous reward, and Abraham became the patron saint of suicide bombers. Islam thus openly reverted to the pre-Abrahamic culture of human sacrifice to a god, and if Judaism, Christianity and Islam are to be bunched together as “Abrahamic” religions at all, the important distinction needs to be made: Judaism and Christianity are “post-Abrahamic” religions focused on the intrinsic value of human existence, while Islam is clearly a “pre-Abrahamic” religion of helping a god through human sacrifice.

Far from an improvement on Judeo-Christianity, Islam is a throwback to polytheistic, primitive religions repudiated by Abraham. Its divine origin uncertain at best, its underlying theology in stark contradiction to its declared principles of strict monotheism and ultimate godliness, what is left of Islam’s worth? Not much.

This brief exercise in comparative religion may horrify the politically correct, to whom “cultures” can only be different but cannot be wrong and to whom, I presume, even the Aztecs who sacrificed to their Sun-god ten thousand people each year is merely another “culture.” Yet to prevent another such “culture” – that of Islam – from taking over the world, it is important not only to engage in the conventional aspect of the “Global War on Terror” (to use Colonel Snodgrass’ terminology), but also to proceed with the war of ideas – which he so impoliticly, yet not inaccurately, called the “the war against Islam.”


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