An analysis of Pipes’s Islam fallacy
“There you go again” (as Ronald Reagan said to Carter). Daniel Pipes, in an article at Frontpagemag.com says:
“In fact, that enemy has a precise and concise name: Islamism, a radical utopian version of Islam. Islamists, adherents of this well funded, widespread, totalitarian ideology, are attempting to create a global Islamic order that fully applies the Islamic law (Shari’a).”
I have many friends that are “Catholic.” They are not truly religious people. They are social or cultural Catholics. They do not get involved at any level in their church or parish. Their kids get as far as CCD, then they are on their own. My son is Jewish because his mother is. I am not. His mother’s family members are all cultural or social Jews. Her brother married a Catholic women, and therefor his only child, a daughter was raised Catholic.
I was raised as Episcopal. As soon as I and my brother we old enough to walk to our church without my parents—they stopped going. We walked a couple times and then we stopped. Nothing said. My parents continued to refer to themselves as Episcopalians. They were no more Episcopalians than I was.
What I’m describing is what I see across the board in most religions—the 80/20 rule. More like the 95/5 rule—five percent may be devout or truly faithful and adhere to the dogma of their church. Ask any person this is involved in their church—how many, or what percent volunteer or even acquiesce when drafted into some task or service to their church. It is very small—less than five percent.
I realize that Muslims have a much higher level of commitment to daily prayer and ritual, which makes them appear much more devout.
My point is that what Pipes and others talk about—a small minority of Islam, that is radical or extreme, is in fact the devout Muslim. Most Muslims are not devout—they do not want a world ruled by sharia. They are the so-called “moderates.” They are not true Muslims. They are mostly irrelevant to the intrusion of Islam into the West. It is the truly religious Muslim that the West must defend itself from. But how do we know which is which? We don’t. We can’t. No one can see into the heart or the mind of another human being.
What is our strategy supposed to be? How do we defend ourselves against what we cannot see? We must defend ourselves from all of Islam. We must stop any attempts to argue for even a minimum level of sharia.
Pipe’s suggestion that we “vanquish Islamism and help Muslims develop an alternative form of Islam” is futile, and his goal, “The second goal involves helping Muslims who oppose Islamist goals and wish to offer an alternative to Islamism’s depravities by reconciling Islam with the best of modern ways,” is ridiculous. “Helping Muslims who oppose Islamist” isn’t helping Muslims—they’re not true Muslims! It is pointless to concern ourselves with them. They will alter and modify their “faith” as required by how the West deals with true Muslims.
Pipes can’t deal with true Muslims, that’s why he is always talking to and about the masses of “ethnic” or cultural Muslims. He either has no idea, or lacks the courage to deal with the five percent (the percentage is probably greater than that) that rules Islam. Pipes calls them “Islamist,” as if they are the strays, the anomaly in Islam. In reality, it is the 95 percent that are the strays. Pipes has it upside down—that is why his thinking is so convoluted. He wants the irrelevant to influence the true believers! That can’t happen. For someone so well informed—he is such a waste of time.
There is no “victory” against Islam. There is only separation. To its believers, Islam seems so powerful and relentless. Why can’t our leaders see what is so obvious? Where has the seat-of-the-pants common sense gone? Has this modern liberal world completely lost its will to defend itself?
I like the way Buck states this (however, see my qualifications following Erich’s comment below):
Pipes calls them “Islamist,” as if they are the strays, the anomaly in Islam. In reality, it is the 95 percent that are the strays. Pipes has it upside down—that is why his thinking is so convoluted. He wants the irrelevant to influence the true believers!
To repeat: Pipes (along with all the mainstream conservatives) calls the real Muslims false Muslims, and he calls the non-believing Muslims real Muslims, and he expects the non-believing Muslims to teach “true Islam” to the real Muslims!
Buck O. writes:
“Most Muslims are not devout—they do not want a world ruled by sharia. They are the so-called “moderates.” They are not true Muslims.”
Buck O. hasn’t a shred of evidence to substantiate this sweeping claim. I think he is superimposing upon Islamic societies the tendencies toward laxity in religiousity that has its proper context in the unique secularization of the modern West. In fact, it seems that most Muslims perceive Sharia as a legitimate expression of being Muslim—for being Muslim is not simply an individual identity, it is also a social, legal, political, familial, tribal and trans-nationally super-tribal identity with an aura of superiority over all non-Muslims. And the way this identity is manifested is through Sharia Law, which itself is the concretion of the Sunnah, which for 85% of the world’s Muslims (Sunnis) is just as important as the Koran itself.
For example, Muslim professor of law, Chibli Mallat, wrote:
“…none [of the four schools of Islamic law] would disagree with the statement attributed to the Syrian jurist Awza’i (died 774 A.D.) that the Book is in greater need of the sunnah than sunnah is of the Book.”
From Islamic to Middle Eastern Law: a Restatement of the Field (Part I), The American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Autumn, 2003), p. 724.
A Muslim from Morocco I spoke with recently who is living in America temporarily while he makes money to return home, and who is married to an American woman who converted to Islam, told me that most Muslims in Morocco want Sharia Law. I have many times heard and read from Muslims this observation. As one should know, Sharia Law is suppressed in Morocco by relatively modernist dictators there in line with the first, King Mohammed V in the 1950s and 60s. This is a pattern one has seen elsewhere in the Muslim world, in Iran under the Shah, in Turkey under the secularists, in Tunisia under Bourguiba, to a lesser extent in Egypt and Pakistan—all dictatorships suppressing what seems to be the popular grass-roots desire for more Islam, not for less.
Erich is correct, and I was mistaken in the rush of responding to comments to fail to add necessary factual qualifications to my agreement with Buck’s underlying argument about Pipes’s upside down logic. Obviously I do not believe that 95 percent of Muslims are non-believers. Yes, there are surely large numbers who are nominal Muslims of the type Buck speaks of, but there are also a very large number, probably a majority, who are believing and are observant in at least the minimally required way, and who even support the rule of sharia as required by their religion, yet who do not go all the way with the religion and in many cases are not even aware of its core teachings as related to jihad.
So, the better way to put my previous comment would be as follows:
Pipes (along with all the mainstream conservatives) calls the most devout and serious Muslims false Muslims, and he calls the less devout and the nominally believing Muslims real Muslims, and he expects the less devout and the nominally believing Muslims to teach “true Islam” to the most devout and serious Muslims!
Buck O. writes:
I understood and I agree with Erich’s statement that “being Muslim is not simply an individual identity, it is also a social, legal, political, familial, tribal and trans-nationally super-tribal identity with an aura of superiority over all non-Muslims. And the way this identity is manifested is through Sharia Law … “
Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 17, 2008 02:33 PM | Send
I can’t know if I understated the ratio. I conceded that “the percentage is probably greater than that.” Erich believes that I’m way off, and also believes that I have projected a “lax Religiosity” onto Islam—where (I assume he thinks) there is none. If it is true that the majority are devout and serious Muslims, and that they will fight for Sharia Law in full, then Pipes and others are even deeper in their “moderate” delusion and Pipe’s strategy is even less sensible.
My point was that “moderates” have no influence within Islam, and if, as you assert—there are dramatically fewer “moderates,” then there is even less reason to bother with an attempt to influence them.