Yes, I know I could be writing about the primaries, and I will. However, what I hope to do here is bring constructive discussions of topics in ways that the soundbites and memes that seem to serve as the political education of the masses, are lacking. I’ve been working on various forms of this post for a while, and kept hitting the roadblock when it came to how to resolve it. I’m not suggesting this is the only solution, but I simply don’t hear of enough ideas so I’m going to give mine. In every conversation I have had with those who are unapologetically Anti-Muslim, the “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim” crowd, there is no meaningful solution other than to close our borders, cover our eyes, and let the Middle East fight to the death, hoping that we can successfully isolate ourselves from the carnage, wake up one day and see who won. I believe that there are other options. There must be. Too many people are dying- we must not only care when we fear a terrorist attack, we must care always when such masses of people are suffering- we made the mistake of remaining uninvolved in WWII for too long- we must not repeat history, and we know this time for certain what is happening.
This article began as one on Islamic Reformation. There are many within and outside the community of Islam arguing for its reformation- these are voices that need to be heard- the media and politicians need to assist them and put a megaphone to those voices. My research and analysis brought me back to the very foundation of the unsuccessful attempts to substantively reform Islam. Why has every other major religion gone through reformations of some kind, but not Islam? No respected religious leaders or scholars, other than of Islam, advocate the punishments similarly described in their own texts- death or maiming for various crimes against the religion. Most world religions have evolved their policies, even at their beginnings- to adapt to changing times. (Christianity, for example, in order to gain converts to the new religion, declared that circumcision and certain kosher practices, would not apply to new converts.)
The reason that Islam has not been able to issue new, updated policies or ideologies, is that the Quran expressly prohibits any amendment, and to do so is a crime against Islam.
Where the world sees hope when Muslims point to the early, peace-avowing, religious tolerance of Mohammed’s writings (the Quran consists of a series of Mohammed’s writings over a 22-year period), the Quran states that wherever there is contradiction within its writings, the later writings shall be taken as law. Mohammed’s later writings are those that ISIS, other extremists, and too many nonviolent believers follow. They will never be convinced that the Quran is fallible or amendable. An analogy in U.S. terms- conservatives who oppose gun control based on the existence and infallibility of the Constitutions’ Second Amendment (ironically, since it is, in fact, an Amendment, by nature an admission of the ability and necessity to make changes) will never be convinced that the right to bear arms is anything but a firm constitutional, even God-given right, not subject to regulation, let alone abolition. Even more progressive Americans are reluctant to disavow that recognized part of our Constitution entirely. This is how the majority of even non-extremist Muslims see the Quran- although the masses may denounce terrorism, an alarming number of Muslims do believe in those core ideologies- death to apostates, adulterers, etc.
What can be done? This is a problem that faces the entire world. Carpet-bombing sounds fun, but will that be the end of it? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There is no easy solution. At the end of WWII, the Allies constructed and enforced a new policy- Denazification. In occupied Germany, as well as across much of Europe, various laws were put in place to make Nazism illegal. How do you illegalize an ideology? The Allies made it illegal to belong to the Nazi party, all emblems and symbols were prohibited, and still are in some European nations. All forms of Nazi support were evaluated and punished accordingly, from active proponents to lesser collaborators, to even those guilty through inaction.
The enforcement of the criminality of an entire ideology, which Islam clearly is, or even just aspects of it, would be no easy task. Allied enforcement became an overwhelming task in Germany, Enormous caseloads became unmanageable- consisting of trial and execution of the worst war criminals to barring Nazi party members from obtaining work permits. The Allies each monitored zones, and it became imperative to gradually turn the governing over to Germans. That took time- meanwhile, the Allies censored media, and the German people were forced to see the atrocities that many did not know of or support, in a misguided policy of collective guilt, but also to cement the condemnation of Nazism. Conventional wisdom decries the effectiveness of DeNazification- but I disagree. Eventually policing internally, no country continues to have stronger policies prohibiting the Nazi ideology, and its flag remains illegal.
Can or should such a policy be applied to Muslim extremism? Would it be possible for a new group of Allies to institute and enforce a policy of Anti-Jihadism? Can we learn from the failures and trials of Denazification to do it better now? The United Nations already has laws, via resolution, outlawing genocide on the world stage. U.N. Resolution 260 (III) Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article II, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, or religious group”. Islamic leadership and groups, not just as political parties, but as nations, that call for death to apostates or non-believers of Islam, clearly fall into that category. Am I suggesting that the United Nations (ha) or a group of Allies formed against Muslim extremists, invade Middle Eastern countries, pass this law and enforce it? Not necessarily, but if this was the only way, why wouldn’t we consider it?
Who is best situated to eradicate extremism? The nations that advocate on their behalf and/or allow these groups the freedom to exist. As there is no recognized leader of Ialam, we must start from a civil perspective. I believe that Iraq and Afghanistan were squandered opportunities to formally and uncompromisingly insist on absolute enforcement of laws to criminalize the ideologies within Islam of jihad, genocide of non-believers, including honor killings, and other aspects of Sharia law that violate human rights. Pakistan has surprisingly been cracking down on ISIS, making necessary arrests. However, any nation assisted by the U.S. through financial aid, trade, or diplomatic alliance, should be required to unequivocally restate the Quran and its interpretation/enforcement regarding positions recognized as illegal and genocidal throughout the world.
What does that look like from within? Those governments would need to support the voices of reform, reflect the reform as established part of official religion and civil law. Yes, there are many degrees to be negotiated in reform-legal and religious amendment of the Quran to denounce murder, religious intolerance- should they be required to abolish child marriage (Pakistan declined to recently pass a law banning child marriage), blasphemy laws, adultery, punishments of physical abuse or maiming. There is much to be discussed. What do we as a world insist upon as a baseline for human rights?
Let’s start with Saudi Arabia- statistics lead us to believe that a majority of IS followers are living and thriving within their borders. Once a U.S. ally, those ties have considerably broken down, and power within the nation is tenuous. However, the U.S. provides financial aid to Saudi Arabia, even as the nation fails to meet the financial transparency regulations required for that aid, and denies reports that indicate that ISIS’s most significant donors are within their borders. (Please don’t write comments that it’s all about oil dependency- the U.S. has significantly decreased any dependence on Saudi Arabia for oil.) Why don’t we DEMAND allegiance from nations to whom we provide financial aid??? Is it unfair to at least require that they not support our enemies? That we not finance the continued existence and rise of those enemies to power? U.S. humanitarian aid is the primary source of aid to Sudan, a nation with one of the worst records of violations of human rights, and a strong enforcer of Sharia law.
You will not find a stronger advocate for the victims of Islamic extremism, humanitarian abuses, or corruption. But we must do more to ensure that we are not feeding the people to give them strength as soldiers against us or against the innocent of their own people. We also must find a way to rescue those that are innocent from genocide. We must be unmovable in our treatment of countries that support extremism or fail to enforce laws against it. Why should a U.N. coalition not engage to prevent genocide in Syria? There is ample evidence that the government used chemical weapons against its own people. Hundreds of thousands are fleeing Syria, most are innocent, and some just looking for a more comfortable place to conduct IS operations. Why not have a U.N. or allied coalition take control of the Syrian government (which one, you might ask-fair question), provide safety for its people, integrate reformist, peace-advocating Syrians, and provide them the manpower to eradicate the extremists and enforce laws that denounce Jihad and its interpretation within the Quran.
If we do not create and foster a policy of De-Jihadization, the future may look much like the present, maybe worse. It is in the Quran. Islam is prohibited from amending the Quran, so do we need to do it for them? Not give them a say in this? Despite the inevitable and substantial carnage that enforcement and a retaliatory rise in initial war against it, would it not be worth it for worldwide good? Do we, as a nation, have the patience we didn’t even have with Germany, to stick this out for a generation or two until self-governance is possible? Why or why not? Would we create an opportunity for Russia or China to step in? How can that threat be mitigated?
Is a global policy of De-Jihadization what we need? Can it come from within or must the individual nations be strong-armed? Can they be influenced by strong diplomatic and financial sanctions? Do you believe that such an approach would only strengthen their movement? What solutions do you advocate? I don’t pretend to have the world’s solutions. But, I won’t be quiet. I will always speak up because this is not OK. The suffering of innocent people daily within these nations is not OK. Worrying whether my son’s school will be blown up by terrorists is not OK. So, we must all work together, think together, and demand solutions. This is just one forum to do so. Thanks for reading. Please share, comment, and discuss, whether you agree or disagree.