Muslim and non-Muslims often tell us that Muslims hate the West for its decadence, its immorality, its lasciviousness, which they contrast unfavorably with the supposed morality and uprightness of the Islamic world. Often this boils down to a Muslim critique of Western “freedom,” which they claim is no freedom at all, but slavery to one’s passions and desires.
In Muslim countries, they aren’t thus enslaved; they’re free, free, free. Thus we saw last week the Sharia authorities in Nigeria’s Kano State felt free to destroy 196,400 bottles of beer. Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje explained: “In Islam, alcohol is strongly forbidden. Our Islamic Scholars, religious and community leaders should join hands together in the crusade [sic!] against such social vices.”
Ganduje, like the temperance crusaders of old in the United States, apparently believes that people can’t be trusted to do the right thing of their own accord, and so the cause of temptation simply must be taken away from them.
We also saw last week what happens if the cause of temptation is not taken away. Jihadis entered the village of Mbau in Mozambique and came upon a group of young people who were drinking alcohol; they murdered ten of them. The perpetrators didn’t notice the incongruity of committing a major evil in order to stop the commission of a minor vice; they believed that Allah was going to punish these miscreants by their hands, as the Qur’an says.
This is not actually freedom, or virtue. It’s slavery to fear and terror.
The former Mufti of Australia, Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali, once complained that “Australian law guarantees freedoms up to a crazy level.” Yet genuine freedom is an indispensable prerequisite for any cultivation of real virtue. Even the post-Christian West makes it more possible to be virtuous than the apparently much more straitlaced Islamic world. With its stonings, amputations, death penalties for an array of offenses including apostasy, Islam has created not a framework in which people can become genuinely good, but an empire of fear. People don’t dare step out of line, not out of an authentic understanding that the path of moral and ethical uprightness is preferable to the alternative, much less out of love for God or a real desire to please him, but because they are afraid of what would happen to them if they did depart from Islam’s vision of morality.
Certainly the same critique can be leveled to some degree against societies that were more Christian than our present one, and this is not to say that society has no right or responsibility to legislate against immoral activity. Still, were people unable to choose to do evil, their choosing of the good would not be a manifestation of virtue, but merely of fear and the power of coercion. Those who have no choice but to be good demonstrate nothing about whether their beliefs enable or inspire them to choose the good when they could just as easily not do so.
Islam does not see virtue this way. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini once thundered: “Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors!”
Oddly enough, something quite similar to Western “permissiveness” is already written into Islamic law, albeit with a fig leaf of morality over it. In Islamic law we see circumstances permitting lying (cf. Muhammad’s dictum “war is deceit”), stealing (under the guise of the lawful seizure of the property of the victims of jihad, and the collection of the poll tax — jizya — from the subjugated Jews and Christians), rape (understood as the lawful sexual enslavement of infidel women captured in jihad warfare), and murder (if the victim is a non-Muslim who is understood to be at war with Islam, or someone who has simply been accused of “blaspheming” Islam or Muhammad).
These outrages, and others like them, blunt Islam’s moral critique of the West and should deter American social conservatives from seeing “conservative Muslims,” in Dinesh D’Souza’s phrase that has come to be taken for granted as referring to young Republicans with hats and beards, as potential allies in the culture wars. They also highlight how radically different Islamic law is from the core values and principles of American society.
However, since “war is deceit,” as Muhammad said, the Islamic propaganda machine, with the willing help of the establishment media, will continue to obscure these vital truths for most Americans. Nonetheless, as Islam continues to expand its presence in the U.S., the horrors of Sharia and the Empire of Fear it creates will eventually become obvious here – although probably only when it is too late.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The History of Jihad From Muhammad to ISIS. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.
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