This first appeared in Eagle Rising.
Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf has had a rough week. First she talked about jobs as a way to fight the ISIS ideology. Then, when she became the laughing stock of the nation (at least among those who pay attention), she doubled down and dug herself deeper by expounding on the "root causes of violent extremism" (poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of freedom etc).
Of course, Harf is merely a mouthpiece for her president and her boss, John Kerry. These are the silly platitudes that they are mouthing while steadfastly refusing to mention the term, "Islamic terror". They prefer "violent extremism. Thus, they hold a silly 3-day conference at the White House, moderated by Joe Biden and invite America's top Islamists to participate.
But back to Harf. If I may inform her as to the most direct root cause of-not violent extremism- but Islamic terrorism:
Ms. Harf, I invite you to read the Koran. I invite you to read the hadith, which are the recorded sayings of the Prophet Mohammad. I invite you to read the biography of Mohammad.
As to the Koran, one has to know how to read and interpret it. That is because the Koran is not recorded chronologically, rather from the longest suras (chapters) to the shortest. (Sura one is an exception. It is only seven verses long and is recited multiple times a day by Muslims during prayers.)
It is important to know which suras were from Mohammad's earlier Mecca period, in which he was merely preaching the new religion, and which were from his Medina period, in which he was leading armies of conquest, taking captives, executing prisoners, taking booty, and taking their women and children as slaves. It is in the Medina suras that the language becomes hateful and violent.
Muslim leaders in the West love to quote the earlier verses, which appear peaceful and tolerant. What they don't tell us is that over the centuries Muslim scholars have agreed that in case of contradiction, the latter verse in time will abrogate that written earlier. The final major sura in time (Sura 9) is arguably the most violent and thus would abrogate anything written earlier that is in disagreement.
Back to Sura one. It ends with a plea to Allah to guide one along the straight path, not the path of those who have incurred His wrath nor that of those who have gone astray. According to the Hadith, Mohammad was asked by one of his followers who that referred to. Mohammad answered that the former were Jews and the latter were Christians.
Of course, there are thousands of hadith and Islamic scholars, who to this day study them in a complex effort to determine which are factual and which are not ("Strong hadith vs weak hadith"). Much of it is concerned with the line of testimony from one person back to another all the way back to the mouth of the Prophet. The two most trustworthy sources of the hadith are considered Bukhari and Muslim, named after earlier scholars who compiled and studied them.
This brings us back to ISIS, its followers, the lone wolves in the West who carry out their wishes, not to mention Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hizbollah, Boko Haram and all the others. To say that they are non-Islamic is absurd. They are carrying out their deeds in the name of Islam and they have solid textual basis for their actions. The killing of Christians and Jews is commanded in the Koran if they will not convert or submit to dhimmi status and pay the jizya tax. . Behead people? That's how Mohammad and his armies killed their captives. Take women and girls into sexual slavery? That is precisely what Mohammad and his armies did with the wives and children of the opposing soldiers they killed. Look for the phrase in the Koran that refers to "those which your right hand possesses". That refers to captives and slaves. Child brides? That goes back to the example of Mohammad, who took Aisha as his bride at the age of 6 and consummated the marriage when she was 9 and he was in his 50s. Of course, this was common practice in the 7th century and Mohammad was hardly unique in that regard. However, when you see it in practice today in some quarters of the Islamic world, it can be justified because it was done by Mohammad-the most perfect man, whom all Muslims should seek to emulate. Thus, should the world be so shocked when ISIS and Boko Harem take young girls captive and marry them off to their own fighters?
It is true that the Christian and Jewish texts have violent verses, yet they were left in the dust centuries ago and are not practiced today. It is also true that most Muslims in the world today do not engage in these practices or terrorism because they prefer to merely get on in their lives, raise their families, and live in peace with the rest of the 21st century global community. Yet, they are in a very weak position should they try to engage in a debate with the jihadists because they cannot win such a debate based on Islamic texts and the life of the Prophet. The fear factor is, of course, another deterrent. They risk being called apostates and killed. Apostasy is a capital offense under sharia law. What does that tell you?
I fully understand that no American president or secretary of state can publicly say what I have written above. That would set the entire Muslim world against us even though they know amongst themselves that it is all very true. Even George W Bush understood that. It is much better to enlist Islamic countries to help fight the war on terror-even take the lead on the ground since it is they who are most immediately threatened. Today, Egypt and Jordan understand that. At the same time, however, it serves no useful purpose to mislead the public as to the threat we face and to pretend that it can be defeated with a jobs program, or more education, or by installing democracy. The jihadists of today cut across all spectrum. Many are educated including the leader of ISIS, who holds a PhD in Islamic studies. Many are wealthy including none other than Usama bin Laden. There are thousands of ISIS fighters in Iraq, Syria and now Libya, who arrived from the West. At the same time, there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who are poor, uneducated and living under dictatorships. They don't resort to terrorism.
To fight and defeat this enemy requires honesty and strength something the West today sorely lacks. It has become a tired phrase, but it is nonetheless true. We can't defeat an enemy if we cannot identify it. And yes: The Islamic State is definitely Islamic.