If we don’t understand the importance of history for Muslims, we’ll never understand Muslim rage today.
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Any study of Islam will soon reveal how important history is to Muslims throughout the world. Today I’d like to show you a specific example of how Muslims routinely point to historical events to form their opinion and make their case. Consider the frequent charge of “Western interference.” They point to one particular event that, in their eyes, exemplified this specific sin and solidified their hatred for the West. In 1953, the American and British governments decided to topple the Mosaddeq administration through a coup, reestablishing the pro-Western Shah.
As we have seen, our problems began in 1979 with the Iranian Revolution. Neither the British nor the Americans did anything to save the Shah, who was seen by many insiders as an American puppet. The Shah expressed his desire to accept President Carter’s offer of asylum. Unfortunately for him, the offer was withdrawn. The State Department’s view was that establishing good relations with the new rulers of Iran was more important than giving aid to an old friend. The U.S. relented only when the Shah was dying and in need of medical care. Muslims in the region drew two conclusions:
- America was willing to use force and intrigue to install or restore its puppet rulers in the Middle East.
- It would abandon them if things got rough.
The first evoked hatred; the second, contempt. Think about that for a moment. They have formed their opinion about America from an event that occurred over 30 years ago. They remember these things. They look at our actions to determine our character. And they should! Our foreign policy should consistently display firm resolve, integrity, and character. Instead, we have often acted without a well-conceived game plan because we have failed to effectively identify who the enemy really is.
AS I SEE IT
Clearly, there is something beyond such events that turns every disagreement into an insurmountable problem. I think the two years spent in America by Sayyid Qutb of Egypt provided the spark that ignited the lingering hatred. He wrote of his shock at the level of American support for what he saw as a Jewish onslaught on Islam, with Christian complicity, but he was even more shocked by the “American way of life,” principally its sinfulness, degeneracy, and sexual addictions.
Everything in America, he wrote, even religion, is measured in material terms. He saw churches operating like businesses, competing for clients and publicity by using the same methods as stores and theaters to attract customers. Success is measured by size. This was in 1948! He also quoted The Kinsey Report on sexual behavior to document American debauchery. The degeneracy of America and its consequent threat to Islam became the “articles of faith” in fundamentalist Muslim circles. Some obvious conclusions can be drawn from these events:
- We will never understand what drives our Islamic enemies if we ignore the facts and the lessons from history. However, even if we understand them better, their goal will still be “death to America.”
- Everything America does is being watched closely. Strength and integrity will be respected and remembered. While President Trump’s hard stance against “Radical Islam” (which is actually basic Islam) is ruffling a lot of feathers, his words, if followed up with strong action, will ultimately be respected.
- Islamic piety comes with a generous side of hypocrisy. Remember what drives suicide bombers to “martyrdom?” Not the promise of holiness or honor before Allah, but the hope of limitless heavenly sex.
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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
A good pun is its own reword.
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