Following on from this week's discussions on Islam and terrorism, below is a book that can bring real substance to this debate - particularly as it affects foreign affairs. Although several books have been written on political Islam since 9/11, this is by far the most important and significant for politicians and policy makers to read.
Global Jihad: The Future in the Face of Militant Islam by Patrick Sookhdeo (McLean,VA: Isaac Publishing, 2007) 669pp ISBN 09787141-2-1
Once every decade or so, a book is published that has the potential to change the way people in the west view the world. This is such a book.
After the 9/11 attacks on America, the present British and American governments made repeated statements claiming that terrorism had nothing to do with Islam but was a deviation from it. Even in the last week on Centre-Right we have seen Brian Paddick Lib-Dem candidate for London mayor make a similar claim.
In this book, Dr Patrick Sookhdeo demonstrates with great clarity and scholarship how this paradigm is fatally flawed. With wide ranging scholarship he starts from the commands in the Qur'an and Hadith to impose an Islamic government on non Muslims - if necessary by means of military force. From this he moves on to show how Muhammad's actions in imposing Islamic government and his treatment of conquered people have formed a paradigm of Islamic expansion and government.This paradigm, followed by Islamic governments from the earliest caliphate up until modern times, was enshrined in sharia during medieval times by all four schools of Islamic law. Time after time Dr Sookhdeo clearly demonstrates how throughout Islamic history, Islamic armies have waged violent jihad against non Muslims, not merely justifying such action by reference to the Qur'an and Hadith - but understanding the Qur'an to impose a specific duty on Muslims to engage in jihad.
He clearly illustrates how the Islamic goal - of causing the whole world to submit to an Islamic government with Islamic law - predetermines how Islamic governments and Islamic groups view international relations. First, once an area - such as Palestine/Israel, or even Spain, has at any time in history been subjected to to an Islamic government, then it becomes an act of defensive jihad to fight to re-impose an Islamic government; Secondly, the Islamic concept of hudna (treaty), which is similarly based on the example of Muhammad, only permits a temporary truce in order for Islamic armies to gain a strategic advantage; Thirdly, the use of the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya (concealing one's true beliefs), a concept rooted in both the Qur'an and the sunna (example) of Muhammad. Dr Sookhdeo clearly shows how taqiyya has been used militarily, politically and apologetically, with one thing being said in public and another in private. The public denial by some Islamic leaders of any link between Islam and violence is but one example of this. These are concepts that have profound implications for how the west deals with Islamic groups, particularly in relation to issues such as the Middle East peace process.
However, the author is careful to distinguish between this historic classical interpretation of Islam and the views of ordinary Muslims in the west today, stating that:
"For the masses Islam has more often than not taken on a traditional form, where people believe in God, concern themselves with prayer and with the other basic devotional duties of Islam, but do not bother much with legal, political or military requirements."
Patrick Sookhdeo suggests that the current threat to the west is due to a puritan form of Islam re-emphasising the literal teaching of the Qur'an and Hadith, as classical Islam in countries such as Saudi Arabia has always done.
His comments on Iraq are profound - he documents a deliberate Islamist strategy of seeking to provoke the US to invade a Muslim country to create a win-win situation for Islamists: Muslims worldwide are impressed by jihadis taking on a superpower; the insurgency proves the superpower is not invincible; Muslims despise the proxy government allied to the superpower; the fight is intended to drain the superpower leading to social unrest in the US and its ultimate defeat by Islamists.; Meanwhile chaos in the Islamic land causes the general population to welcome the jihadi administrators - who then network with jihadis elsewhere to establish an increasingly global caliphate governed by sharia.
The essence of this book is that classical Islam has historically always been an ideology that aims at world domination - if necessary by force. However, Dr Sookhdeo ends by emphasising that
"If an 'enemy' is to be defined, then the enemy is not Muslims, but the classical interpretation of Islam."
Whilst the allies western governments should be empowering are liberal Muslims - something Sookhdeo criticises the present British government for failing to do.
This book should be top priority reading for every politician and policy maker.