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December 31st 2015 print

Pete Mulherin

Fighting ISIS, Grappling With Islam

Whether or not violent Islamists represent the ‘true’ Islam is beside the point: they kill and die believing that they do. Logic decrees that the key weapons will never be cruise missiles and drones. Rather, the most potent strategy hangs on a keen and clear-minded willingness to understand what motivates such actions and goals

ramadiThe recent recapture of Ramadi, Iraq, from the Islamic State is a welcome development to emerge from a region not known for good news. The withdrawal of ISIS fighters displays the jihadists’ military weakness in the face of the American-backed Iraqi national forces. Before pats on the collective back of the anti-IS alliance are shared, however, we need to pause and consider the nature of the threat before us.

The fascination with the Islamic State’s gruesome tactics has meant that the ideological foundations of the caliphate have been underestimated. World leaders might claim a victory against ISIS in the months to come, but this will be a limited triumph; the repercussions of the caliphate will be felt for decades.

The Islamic State was never going to be a conventional army for long, considering the overwhelming firepower facing it. Its ability to capture and control entire cities, a powerful propaganda tool, could not last and the current rolling back of its territory is not surprising. The jihadists’ use of heavy weapons and armed convoys will lessen as they sustain further losses under bombardment from Russia, and the US and its allies in Iraq and Syria.

We can safely assume that the Islamic State leadership is well aware of the probable doom of their caliphate. The decentralisation of their forces, as they don civilian clothing and infiltrate Iraq, Syria, and nations further afield—did someone mention France?—has doubtless begun. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan, or the Islamic State of Iraq during the 2007-8 troop surge, they will become sleeper cells or wage a low-level insurgency, biding their time until the West’s attention has shifted to another hot spot. When the time is right, they will re-emerge to continue the holy fight they think has been raging since the 7th century and push the expansion of Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam.

Such is the commitment of these fighters to their religion, whether a misinterpretation or not. It’s a reality that the West, if it continues along its current path of believing what it wants to hear about Islam, will struggle to understand and never acknowledge. Until the West is willing to recognize a few hard truths, the threat posed by violent Islamists will continue to be misconstrued as the results of neo-colonialism, poor economic prospects, political dissatisfaction, and general disenfranchisement among Muslims.

Now, to be clear, these may well include legitimate grievances, and all are worthy of consideration. But if someone truly thinks that a combination, or indeed all of these factors, is the only motivation for the barbarities unleashed by violent Islamists—whether the Taliban, IS, or Hezbollah—then we’re justified in questioning their commitment to truth. Why? Because of what the groups themselves spend their time talking about and fighting for: Islam.

Whether or not the violent Islamists represent the ‘true’ Islam is beside the point; they kill and die believing that they do. Their ideas, which they insist are taken directly from the Koran and Islam’s last prophet, cannot be beaten with Tomahawk cruise missiles or Predator drones. Only through a deep engagement with Islam, can the West begin to understand Islamist fervour, motivation, and goals. There is no promise that this engagement will help defeat violent Islamists per se, but it seems to be the only route remaining to be properly explored.

If the creed followed by the Islamic State can be defeated, it will only be through greater understanding — not by grasping at the simplistic and exculpating claims of those who don’t bother explaining why IS has nothing to do with Islam, insisting all the while that it doesn’t, and expect us to believe them.

Islam, as a religion, culture, worldview, political structure, legal system, and its multiple interpretations, must become open for discussion. Islam’s final prophet and his words and actions must become as widely known to Western citizens as their own post-Enlightenment worldview and their societies’ basis on Judeo-Christian ideals. If knowledge is power, then the West has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the world’s fastest growing religion.

Comments [12]

  1. Mr Johnson says:

    The ISIS Caliphate was never going to last, and as soon as Russia decided to get a little serious it started to fracture almost immediately. The problem is that the Islamic infection has metastasised to the West. Enormous numbers of refugees, already building on pockets of fervent bearded young men, will ensure the next battlefield is not the Middle East, but just around the corner. As long as a group is prepared to be (extremely) violent to further its cause, we will have a significant and bloody problem. This is further amplified and complicated by many westerners actually rooting for the opposition (look the other way, or you’re a bigot!). A flaccid political response will soon prove deadly – thank heavens we have Iron Mal in charge (*cough*).

  2. Wayne says:

    I totally disagree. I dont know much about Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism or any of the other myriad faiths that are present in Australia. What I do know is they are not a threat to my well being and they are not trying to impose their beliefs on me. What we should do is remove all the special arrangements we have in relation to this religion and treat it like any other. The only way the Muslim religion will get off the front pages of our newspapers is if it behaves like all the other religions. The ball is in their court.

    • gardner.peter.d says:

      You might leave them alone, Wayne, but the true followers of the Koran and Mohamed will not leave you alone. Sooner or later you will have to choose a side.

  3. Simon says:

    I agree with Wayne – I’m an athiest firstly, and even if I wasn’t, Islam is the very last religion on earth I would study in any detail. That is because it is a death cult and has no idea of, or regard for, the real ‘miracle’ in front of it’s very nose – that of life itself.

    It may well be the fastest growing religion, but this is disingenuous. It is only growing because of the madrassas, which churn out masses of human drones. And of course the threat of death hangs over apostates (who would have thought we’d be using such a word in the 21st. century?).

    We are not obliged to conform with Muslims, just as we are not obliged to conform with Hindus. On the contrary, Muslims are required to conform to us.

    • Mr Johnson says:

      Yes, and the fecundity of Muslims, coupled with if your father is a Muslim, then by Islamic law, you are too, it’s no wonder their headcount is growing fastest (well, almost as fast as the Green Religion).

  4. Bill Martin says:

    This article contains an injunction that renders it of little practical value: “Only through a deep engagement with Islam, can the West begin to understand Islamist fervour, motivation, and goals.” The very nature of Islam precludes all possibilities of any sort of engagement with it, deep or otherwise. As to “understanding” Islam – of which the author appears to be bereft – it is a definite prerequisite to dealing with and, hopefully, neutralising if not defeating this evil.

    There is no shortage of detailed information about Islam on the web, much, if not all of it coming from very intelligent people who are dedicating their lives to educating us, risking their own lives in the process. It is absolutely clear from such sources that Islam, due to its basic doctrine, is “untouchable”. It declares itself absolutely perfect, based on the unquestionable word of God, Allah. Faced with that absolute rigidity, there are only two options. You either accept it and submit to it, thereby becoming a committed Muslim, or decisively reject and oppose it in its entirety.

    Deception is a major plank of Islam’s strategy of conquering the world. Their scriptures instruct and enjoins followers to apply it liberally. Muslims who “communicate” with the despised unbelievers fall into two distinct categories. There are those who openly spew their vile hatre toward the filthy kuffar. At least they are “honest” and up front about it. Those who present as civilised, reasonable people, prepared to “engage” with the infidel, are the snakes in the grass. They obfuscate, confuse and tell outright lies, usually in suave, sophisticated language, never forgetting their commitment to advancing the cause of Islam. They are the popular “go-to” personalities beloved by much of mainstream media, particularly the extensive left wing of it.

    It is of great concern to those who recognise reality that Islam is enjoying ever greater success in duping western leaders into accepting its compatibility with western democratic values. President Obama, for instance, is unquestionably a Muslim at heart, which is not surprising since much of his childhood was in predominantly Muslim Indonesia. Many other western leaders are not far removed from the same attitude. That is where the real danger of Islam lies, triumphing within our midst.

    There is no other way of combating and hopefully defeating Islam besides fearlessly calling it out. Ultimately a Muslim is a Muslim. They all fervently believe that theirs is the only true faith of God which is divinely destined to rule the world and that makes them vastly superior to the unbelievers. The only difference between the “peaceful” and the “violent” Muslim is the method they choose to advance the cause of Islam.

    • gardner.peter.d says:

      I think both you and Peter Mulherin are right. Children at school need to be taught the truth about Islam as you describe in all its evil. This should be in the core curriculum. Politicians should read and understand the vile nature of the Koran and hadith: a program of education is needed. The Christian churches and other religious leaders should speak the truth about Islam, not appease it. Compare and contrast the Bible with the Koran and Hadith. Compare and contrast Sharia with Western legal systems. Contrast and compare theocracy with parliamentary democracy. The ABC and other media should be made to give balanced and truthful coverage – as required by law. This form of engagement involves confrontation but it is still engagement. It will be painful, like bringing a boil to a head and lancing it. But there is no alternative. Before ‘calling out’ Islam, one must first understand it. I don’t think Peter Mulherin is arguing against this and he is right that our politicians fail to understand IS and Islam.

  5. Wayne and Simon have made the principal point for me , namely that trying to understand Islam as a means of countering it is a waste of time. Islam can only be changed from within and the only public figure who has had the courage to say that is Tony Abbott. In his words, Islam needs a reformation from within. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a common anachronistic and barbaric ‘Book’ and way of life which Christians know as the Old Testament. Christianity over many centuries has had its reformations beginning with the teachings of JC. I’m not sure if Judaism has had a similar reformation but Jews have certainly adapted to life of civility. Only Islam has not made the transition to civility and only they can do that — the sooner the better. Let’s hear it from the muftis and imans or whatever the leadership calls itself. And back to Tony Abbott — he would make the best Minister for Immigration and you Malcolm, now have an opportunity to put him there in your pending reshuffle.

  6. gardner.peter.d says:

    I had thought Speaker’s Corner in Hyde park had become defunct but apparently not. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2IrpARJv6Q
    I wonder whether the Australian government would allow Jay Smith into Australia and if they did would he be allowed to speak in public?

  7. Bran Dee says:

    Referring to the ideology of Mohammedanism as a religion, [Muslim religion] as Wayne and others do, immediately tends to have us regard this movement as one like the Christianity we know rather than the more closely related totalitarian ideologies of Communism and Nazism. Mohammed set the military, legal and social agenda for his ideology just as did Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler and Stalin. Since the 7th century the Mohammedanism has regrettably been victorious in the overall pushing back all religions and regimes that it confronts in its relentless and ruthless expansion.

    Jesus said ‘my kingdom is not of this world’ and he separated church and state and his intention in this separation was that the church part was the religious part. In Mohammedanism Mosque and State are one. Check ISIL and Iran.

    Please, we all agree then, Mohammedanism [Islamism] is not a religion!

  8. Ian MacDougall says:

    Please, we all agree then, Mohammedanism [Islamism] is not a religion!

    If the term ‘religion’ is to have any useful meaning, Islam has to be admitted to its fold, along with Christianity, Marxism, Nazism, Zoroastrianism and the rest.
    On the positive side, most Muslims in their daily lives have by cherry-picking it, adapted the doctrinally violent religion they were born into to become something that allows them a certain degree of integration into the western societies they want to migrate to.
    On the negative side, a minority of their male offspring will become violent zealots bent on creating mayhem before they enter Paradise and claim their allocation of 72 virgins.