Last year, after the outbreak of the "Arab Spring" across North Africa (come to think of it--wouldn't that make
it an "African Spring?"), the vast majority of media commentators and "analysts" regaled us with glowing
(indeed, fawning) accounts of all those putative Tom Paines and assumed John Adamses tweeting from Tunis, Benghazi and Cairo
who would, we were assured, soon usher in the long-expected Arab democracies which had so long stymied by secular dictators.
As for the Arab world's major Islamic political party, the transnational Muslim Brotherhood--well, those dapper chaps
in their expensive suits with their advanced degrees were just the Ben Franklins of the ummah, content to stay aloof
from elective office, especially in the most-populous Arab country, Egypt, and instead influence events from the sidelines--knowing
that they were not really all that popular in the Arab street.
Here are some examples of such Pollyannish, indeed ignorant,
thinking--from folks deemed "experts" by the media:
There is an "exaggerated fear that militant
Islamists might fill a void left by an ousted President Hosni Mubarak"--Chris Harnisch, "al-Qaeda [sic]
expert" and former VP Dick Cheney staffer; "Fears of a Muslim Brotherhood Takeover of Egypt are Overblown," "The Daily Caller," 1/31/2011
"I think it is very unlikely that there would be an Islamist
president in Egypt....if you ask the Muslim Brotherhood their goal, they say it is not to establish and Islamic state
but rather to function within a democratic system."--Michelle Dunne, Editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, quoted in a Voice of America interview, May 23, 2011
"[T]he argument that a transition to democracy in Egypt will lead to an Islamist takeover
doesn't seem to hold much water"--Adam Serwer, "Poll: No Constituency for Muslim Brotherhood Takeover in Egypt," "The Washington Post," Feb. 10, 2011
"The Big Bad [Muslim] Brotherhood isn't much more
popular in Egypt than it is on Fox News."--Max Fisher (Associate Editor, International Channel), "Chart of the Day: Muslim Brotherhood Deeply Unpopular in Egypt," July 26, 2011.
Thus endeth my examples--which are like shooting fish in a barrel. The mainly-liberal media overwhemingly
relied (and still relies) on their own wishful thinking, and on "experts" sporting politically-correct blinders
about Islamic religious and political history, rather than on folks who know what they're talking about--such as, yes, your humble blogger, who told "Studio A" (KFUO AM radio, St. Louis) on Feb. 14, 2011 that "I think if free and fair elections were held [in Egypt]...the
Muslim Brotherhood would be the largest party;" that "the Muslim Brotherhood is too smart to say
'we want shari`ah tomorrow" but will, rather, introduce it slowly and incrementally; and that "the protests in Egypt are not so much pro-democracy as anti-'Pharaoh' (MB and Salafist ill--disguised
code for any Egyptian secularist dictator, from Nasser to Sadat to Mubarak).
These selections demonstrate not just sloppy, bordering on malfeasant, journalism and analysis but just how easy
it is nowadays for the media to engage in what is rapidly becoming its favorite behavior: anti-anti-Islamism, akin to the
old anti-anti-Communism of the Cold War. Just as anti-Communist conservatives, from Joe McCarthy to Ronald Reagan, were
ridiculed even when they were right (as both Tail-Gunner Joe and the Gipper were) for their allegedly Neanderthalish views, so too today those of us who try to point out the problematic doctrines
and traditions in the Islamic world are pilloried as "Islamophobes." A prime example is this derision of Monica
Crowley for "Fearmong[ing] That the Muslim Brotherhood Will Take Over Egyptian Government" at a liberal site called (in what is a wonderful example of projection) "Crooks and Liars."
contra the puerile prognostications of most American media, the Muslim Brother candidate and USC Trojan (PhD,
Engineering, 1982), Muhammad Mursi, is the new President of Egypt. Perhaps his Freedom and Justic Party, a front organization for the MB modeled directly on the Turkish AK (Adalet va
Kalkinma, "Justice and Development") Party, will prove to be, as the latter, an "Islamist-Lite" one. But
is that prospect really all that reassuring?
Unlike many of my conservative colleagues, I do not
consider consider the MB a "terrorist" organization. That allegation is prima facie false. But
that does not make the MB innocuous in Egypt, regionally, or globally, however; planting IEDS or training folks how to hide
bombs in their underwear are not the sole (or even major) threats facing us and our allies. As much as the American
Left likes to ignore it, the Brotherhood's stated dedication to the creation of a dawlah islamiyah `alamiyah, "international
Islamic state," should give everyone pause--because while this terminology scrupulously (and intentionally) avoids the
hot-button term khalifah ("caliphate"), the meaning is nonetheless the same. A Pan-Islamic state
would, by definition, be a RELIGIOUS-based one that enforces shari`ah--rather problematic for Christians (and "heretical"
Muslims) under such throw-back Sunni rule and, ominously for the rest of the larger non-Muslim world, by definition dedicated
to the advancement of Islam across the globe.
Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo
Of course, as noted in my aformentioned
interview quote, the MB is smart enough to continue its slow-motion Islamization of society and not rashly and pre-emptively
impose shari`ah on all Egyptians. But besides possible overtures to Iran, being in political (if not full military) control of the most-populous Arab country (some 80 million) gives the MB enormous prestige and influence--not just with
its adjuncts like Hamas, but also I would argue with groups being little examined in current analysis, such as the even-larger
(if heretofore apolitical) transnational Tablighi Jama`at and the smaller, but even more vociferiously pro-caliphate, Hizb al-Tahrir (see my previous blog on this site). Ensconced
in Cairo, the de facto capital of the Sunni Muslim world, the Muslim Brotherhood now has the cachet and capacity
to seriously pursue a policy of promoting, on the one hand, (Sunni) transnational comity (if not yet outright political unity)
and, on the other, assisting in the instilling and implementation of more conservative Islamic norms by working with organizations
like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Tabligi Jama`at, respectively. Mursi is not claiming the caliphate--but
it's certainly reasonable to see him as the one who is preparing the way for a caliphal claim in our lifetime.
these problems could have been avoided if Egyptians had just voted for the Mahdi, instead of Mursi! But of course, that would have been troubling in other ways....
Update, as of 1730
EST on Tuesday, June 26: President Mursi just announced this afternoon that he would select, as two
of the Vice-Presidents in his MB government, a woman and a Christian (presumably a Copt, since the Coptic Orthodox Church's membership includes at least 15% of Egypt's population). The first is, frankly, rather unsurprising since the Muslim
Brotherhood has had to work with the Sufis (Islamic mystics, and generally, if not always, more moderate and pro-women than the shari`ah-based
groups like the Salafists and even the MB) to win the election, since Sufis make up some 20% of Egypt's Muslims. As
for a Coptic VP--well, again, the MB is nothing if not pragmatic and in this initial ensconcement in power could neither afford
to alienate such a large contingent of Egyptians, nor to get on the wrong side of the international community (assuming the
Obama Administration would even bother to notice if Christians were repressed). Whether a Copt would ever be allowed
to run for the Presidency and, if successful, to actually take office is another question entirely. I suspect not, knowing
the history of dhimmis in Islamic law and rule. As it is, the status of women and Christians in the new Sultanate
of Egypt is now akin to that of both groups in the old Ottoman Empire: thrown token bones of authority to chew on (as in Imperial
Istanbul with, respectively, the harem and the office of vizier), while the red meat of real power is reserved to
the man at the top (President/Sultan).
The Coat of Arms for al-Sultanah al-Misriyah, "The Egyptian Sultanate"--Mursi's New Symbol?
On Sunday, June 17, I flew to Chicago and attended the third "national" conference on American soil of
Hizb al-Tahrir [HT]. This is a Muslim organization devoted to re-establishing the (Sunni) caliphate by following the political philosophy of the group's founder: the Palestinian Arab Muslim Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani (d. 1978), whose overarching principle is that "Islam has no existence without the state"-that is, the caliphate (the office of "successor" to Muhammad as political, military and spiritual leader of the
world's Muslims). I attended the first such conference, in 2009 (and wrote it up for the "Washington Times:"
"Gathering Clouds Here").
The HT conference, entitled "Revolution: Liberation by Revelation" had originally been slated to
be held at the posh Meadows Club in Rolling Meadows, IL-but that venue rescinded its offer after a campaign by Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. HT relocated to the run-down Lexington House on very short notice (in fact,
I was informed of the location change by an email from HT officials very early Sunday morning, the day of the conference-when
neither HT's web- nor Facebook-pages were yet displaying the information). This may explain the rather sparse attendance
which I estimated at some 250-300 individuals-less than in 2009, and far fewer than the expected 1,000-as well as the total
lack of police presence (again, compared to 2009, when uniformed officers were present in the dozens). Also, whereas
the first American HT meeting was heavily African-American Muslim (about 1/3, in my estimation), this one was heavily Arab
and "white" Muslim with certainly fewer than 10% black. Women were also much less in attendance in 2012,
and none of them were African-American-again, quite a contrast from three years ago. The "sisters" mostly
stayed in a sequestered room with the younger children and babies, and the ones that did venture into the main meeting hall
were limited to the far left side of the hall, avoiding the men. Regarding children, a number of men in the conference had
brought their elementary-age sons, too. Everyone I encountered was polite, if a bit distant; some teen-age/20-something
Muslims I was speaking to at the door said "we don't recognize you"-but when I spoke to them in Arabic, and introduced
myself as a researcher and writer on groups like Hizb al-Tahrir, they became very friendly. I should also note that
before the conference began I met Dr. Muhammad Malkawi (the keynote speaker, on whom more below), and gave him my card-so
I hope to be in contact with him in the future.
The orange parts should be the caliphate, according to HT. When are those of us in the indigo (Christian) parts going to wake up?
began with Qur'anic recitation at noon, sharp, which lasted for about five minutes. During this period I took the opportunity
to scrutinize the charts of the proposed caliphate adminstrative organization which were being projected on the screens on either side of the hall. The office of "Director of Jihad" under the
Caliph, tantamount to War Minister/Defense Secretary was unsurprising-but I almost fell out of my chair when I saw the position
of "Execution Assistant." After a bit of textual deconstruction, however, it became apparent that the HT chart-makers
intended to say "Executive Assistant"-more-or-less "Chief of Staff." Still, having published an article on decapitation in Islam, reading that during the Qur'an recitation caused me to
feel for the cross I was wearing under my shirt. Finally, post-Qur'anic chanting and an introduction by the moderator
about the "tyrants falling in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and the struggle in Syria"-the HT formal lectures began.
Session I: "Revelation: Facts and Realities"
First speaker: Raza Imam, a Muslim healthcare consultant
from the Chicago area
Mr. Imam's lecture was entitled "Uprisings in the Muslim World: Conditions, Causes, Motivations."
He purported to give a historical background, but only went back (of course) as far as the dissolution of the Ottoman caliphate
by Kemal Mustafa (Atatűrk) in 1924 which also "halted the Islamic way of life." Yet the past 30 years have
seen an "Islamic upsurge," with the "Islamic renaissance [sic] in Central Asia," the "heroic Lebanese
resistance," etc. "Pew and other polls show that overwhelming majorities of Muslims in the world want shari`ah."
THIS is the correct background to the ‘Arab Spring' and shows that, in reality, "Muslims have been challenging
tyrants since the destruction of the Ottoman caliphate."
Conditions for this Muslim resistance have included:
1) Collapse of the USSR and its support for Arab tyrants
2) US invasions
of Iraq and Afghanistan, which have weakened the US
3) Obama's failure regarding the Muslim world in general
and Palestine in particular (his popularity "is less than 10% in most Muslim countries)
4) US unilateralism
and its "war on terror"
5) Global economic crisis since 2008.
These particular conditions,
when added to the existing political oppression and poverty of the world's Muslims since the Ottoman collapse-making most
Muslim countries Western "colonies"-are causing the Arab-really, Muslim-Spring. Political oppression is worse
in the Arab Muslim lands than anywhere else in the world-because of the Western-supported and -influenced "tyrants,"
who have massive wealth which the common people see little of. Sixty-seven million Arabs live below the poverty line,
and the GDP of all the Arab Muslim countries together is less than that of some individual Western countries.
motivations for the ‘Arab [Muslim] Spring would include:
1) `Aqidah, "faith"
or "doctrine" of Islam
2) The failures of both capitalism and socialism/Communism
3) The failure of nationalism.
[At this point the first
of several takbir call-and-response chants broke out: a (probably planted) rabble-rouser shouts out Takbir!
("Praise!"), then the audience (yours truly excepted) responds with Allah[u] akbar!] The Arab Spring has done away with the attitude
of "love the world and hate death," the same attitude which "Prophet Muhammad" despised. The Arab
Islamic uprisings have done much good work, but they have not yet restored the "Islamic way of life"-which can only
be done via the caliphate.
The saddest day in history, for HT folks.
Speaker 2: Abu Anas (no biographical
data available) spoke on the topic "The Syrian Revolution: Conspiracies, Challenges and Aspirations". He was
much more bombastic, and less analytical, than Imam. He opened with a quotation from the Qur'an about the "Battle
of the Ditch/Trench" (when Muhammad's forces fought the pagan Medinans) and, later, cited passages about the "arrogance of Pharaoh." Throughout the rest of his presentation, Anas would return to one of the other of these passages and use them to excoriate
Bashar al-Assad and the ruling "thugs" or "gangsters" in Damascus. (Although, curiously, he never once
adduced the fact that al-Assad and the rulers are Alawi-a pseudo-Shi`i sect deemed heretical by most Sunni scholars.) It struck me during this diatribe that the US administration finds itself, officially, on the same side as Hizb al-Tahrir
on the Syrian issue-yet Anas still maintained that "Syria's major ally is not Iran-but the US." As proof he cited
that Western powers intervened in Libya, but refuse to do so in Syria, and showed pictures of Hafiz al-Assad with Presidents
Nixon and, later, Clinton. The US/West is following in Syria the same "Yemeni Scenario" which shortcircuited
the Yemeni "revolution:" 1) sell out the leadership 2) gain control of the rebel, and 3) betray the revolution.
"The US is a hegmon that only puts up a façade of caring about human rights"-which seems to me like
a downgrade, since the US-as-empire was the favorite trope during the Bush Administration. Anas said that neither the
US nor the Europeans want a "free Syria," and that even Russia was merely playing the "bad cop" to the
US/Euro "good cop." In addition, Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are in league with the US against Syria. Nonetheless,
the al-Assad regime is a "house of cards" [time for more takbir here!] from which "tens of thousands
of soldiers" had already deserted. Anas then spoke directly to the armies of all the Arab countries: "you must help
those opposed to the Syrian regime; don't wait on the US or UN Security Council to do it!" The "world-wide conspiracy
against the Muslim ummah will ensure that never happens.
Session II: "Liberation by Revolution"
The first speaker in this second session was Haytham Kayed (again, no biographical
information provided; not could I find any online), who was if anything even more demagogic than the previous speaker.
He began by focusing on the alleged victimization of the Arab Springers then rather disjointedly lurched into condemnations
of secularism. "There is no moderate Islam-no meeting between [Thomas] Jefferson and Prophet Muhammad." Muslims
have a choice between 1) the Islamic way of life under the caliphate, and 2) the false system of secularism, because "the
call to secularism is in reality a call to polytheism" and "there can be no compromise on al-Aqsa" (presumably
a reference to Palestine and one of the two Muslims structures-the other being the Dome of the Rock-currently extant on the
Temple Mount in Jerusalem). Kayed also fulminated "do not insult Islam by acting as if it cannot be enacted in
its totality," and exhibited a bit of cognitive dissonance (bordering on schizophrenia) in downplaying the well-documented
modern Muslim persecution of Christians by saying, on the one hand, that "non-Muslims in our lands are descendants of dhimmis who benefited from 1,300
years of Islamic rule," and, a few moments later, adducing the example of the 9th c. AD Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid
to responded to a defiant Byzantine Christian emperor as an "infidel dog" who would have to be taught a lesson.
Kayed also told the audience that they were "living in the times right before the rise of Salah al-Din"-the Kurdish
leader who led the forces that re-took Jerusualem from the Crusaders in 1187 AD. Muslims need a leader like Muhammad
"al-Fatih," Muhammad "the Conqueror"-the Ottoman sultan who destroyed the last vestiges of the Christian
Byzantine Empire and took Constantinople in 1453 AD.
Mehmet II conquers Constantinople, 1453: one of the happiest days in history, says HT, not least
because those dhimmi Christians are in their proper place.
The final speaker was the keynote and intellectual heavy-weight-one Dr. Muhammad Malkawi, Dean of Engineering at Jadara University, Irbid, Jordan, and author of Fall of Capitalism and Rise of Islam (2010). His talk was entitled "Islam: A Mercy of Threat" [sic]. It was rife with charts and graphs, some
of which were frankly nonsensical; for example, his very first one displayed arrows showing Islam going up, and nationalism,
capitalism and socialism all trending down-yet while the x-axis showed dates by decade, the y-axis had no data whatsoever,
so his metrics for his claim were not just fuzzy but nonexistent. A patina of scholarship differentiated Malkawi's talk
from the others-such as when he adduced an alleged quote from Francis Fukuyama to the effect that "capitalism is collapsing."
Yet he segued from such Western (secular) sources to the Qur'an-right after citing Fukuyama, he stated that "the devil
says ‘drop Islam, follow democracy.'" Then Malkawi immediately cited the famous British Anglican cleric and scholar
of Islam W. Montgomery Watt, that "the Qur'an has many valuable divine truths."
Whereas many Westerners claim there is an "Islamic threat," in reality it is capitalism that is a threat. Malkawi
attempted to demonstrate this through faux scholarship: charts and graphs showing the death and suffering tolls wrought in
Western societies by alcoholism, AIDS, tobacco, incarceration rates of black men, poverty, etc. One looked in vain for
any evidence of causal effect between capitalism and these negative phenomena, or any comparison between the (alleged) rates
of these phenomena in Western societies and in non-Western/non-capitalist ones. Malkawi was too busy trying to demonstrate
that "capitalism systematically produces poor people"-whereas an Islamic system does, and would, not. The
irony of a room full of Muslims who live in the West and, by all indications, make a good living by doing so listening to
such a screed seemed lost on all present.
Western decadent and deadly capitalism
is institutionalized at the international level, where the IMF and World Bank "keep the world's population in debt, so
as to colonize and steal their wealth." Even Turkey, the most-indebted Muslim nation, is not immune. Women
are more oppressed in capitalism than in Islam: "the scarf on the head is not a threat," and keeps a woman from
being a "sexual bunny." Malkawi backed this up with yet another contextless chart, this one showing domestic
violence rates in the US-but, again, giving no comparison to rates of wife (or wives') abuse in, say, Nigeria or Egypt or
KSA or Iran or Pakistan or Indonesia or any Muslim nation. He curiously claimed that because inheritance laws in the
US allow a decedent to designate who receives his estate, and do not mandate that women receive some portion, that this means
Islamic inheritance laws treat women better-although the Qur'an and shari`ah mandate that a female only receives half of what a male does.
One has to give him credit for inventiveness, if not coherence. In fact, Malkawi claimed that shari`ah overall
is better than Anglo-American common law, in which "laws are made up as you go."
In conclusion, Dr. Malkawi posed the question "what is my role" in bringing about the caliphate? He never really
answered this, but rather launched into another series of attacks on Western society and attitudes. Regarding terrorism,
Malkawi argued that it "does not come from any ideology, but from the unjust environment. Islam has nothing to
do with that." One wonders how he would explain that fact that 31 of 51 foreign terrorist organizations on the
current US State Department list thereof are Islamic ones. But it's also striking, again, that this view is virtually the same as that espoused by our
current DHS, DOJ and DoD. The caliphate is a panacea, in the eyes of Malkawi and the true believers of HT; it will eliminate poverty, end racism,
restore and preseve female dignity, save children, spread justice, cure any and all societal ills and, presumably, allow dogs
and cats to live together in peace. The colossal historical ignorance, and self-delusional capacity, of the HT set is
no more apparent than in such ridiculous claims: just a couple of hours reading Islamic history (even sans PhD in the field)
would disabuse anyone-dedicated to rational thought, that is-of the notion that the lifestyle of the Muslim (and dhimmi) masses
under the Umayyad, Abbasid or Ottoman caliphates was anything other than nasty, poor, brutish and short. It takes a
blind devotion to ideology and religion over reality to brush that away and pretend that re-creating an Islamic monarchy would
pave the streets of the Islamic world with dhimmi-provided chocolate and gold.
[Please see this clip for a visual representation of how Hizb al-Tahrir members view the effects of the restoration of the caliphate; a still
is reproduced below.]
al-Nabhani's and HT's view of life in the restored caliphate. Note the prominent presence of
 The correct written transliteration from the Arabic is Hizb al-Tahrir; the oft-employed Hizb
ut-Tahrir is how the group's name is actually pronounced in spoken Arabic, and should not be used in print.
 The definitive work on this organization is Suha Taji-Farouki, A Fundamental Quest: Hizb al-Tahrir and the Search for
the Islamic Caliphate (London: Grey Seal, 1996).
 On him see David Commins, "Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani and the Islamic Liberation Party," The Muslim World, Vol. LXXXI, Nos. 3-4 (1991), pp. 194-211.
 Ibid., p. 203.
 Such detailed organization schemas are not new-they were first drawn up by al-Nabhani himself in his seminal book Nizam
al-Hukm fi al-Islam [The System of Governance in Islam] (Jerusalem: 1953), as per Commins, p. 207.
 I initially chalked this up to the fact that some of the HT folks' first language is not English. Upon reflection,
however, it's possible that "Execution Assistant" could have been an intentional-albeit macabre-pun by an HT member
quite fluent in English; a rather disturbing thought.
 From the same verbal root, ka-ba-ra, "to enlarge, magnify" whence comes Allah akbar ("Allah is great[est]").
 Sura al-Ahzab [XXXIII]:25ff.
 Sura al-Anfal [VIII]:54ff.
 On this topic see my article "Divide and Confound-or Divide and Empower? The Opportunities and Dangers of Strategic PSYOP against the Alawi Rulers of Syria," History News Network,
January 9, 2010.
 See statements by, for example, Obama Administration Counter-Terrorism Advisor John Brennan and the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, that the military "purge" all counter-terrrorism training material that mentions "Islamic" terrorism;
and this article, "White House Review Threatens Counter-Terrorism Operations," Westminster Institute, Nov. 22, 2011.