Daddy Says: "It's Not a War on Islam"
By Hussain Al-Qadi,
An awkward conversation, well known to door-to-door salesmen, starts with the archetypal statement from a wide-eyed child at the door who declares with all the confidence in the world that, "Daddy says, he's not at home!"
The disconnect in communication on the part of the children in these situations is not that they fail in the task given to them - to convey Daddy's message - but it lies in their inability to appreciate the need for certain subtleties in the exchange.
Knowing what not to say is as crucial as knowing what to say. In the wider world, this art of subtlety is sometimes lost not only on children but on many adults who, through no fault of their own, simply do not possess the mental acuity needed to appreciate the complexities of the contexts in which they find themselves.
One such complex situation is the indiscriminate religio-cultural war being waged on the Muslim world (as I highlighted in last week's JumahPulse) by people who have relied on the art of subtlety in the diplomatic realm to conceal the excesses of their ambitions. Unfortunately for these office-warrior-diplomats, from among the inexperienced young men and women they send to the violent front lines, some find it hard to understand - like the child at the door - why there is a need to be subtle.
This mental immaturity among young soldiers has led, over the years, to a series of spectacular disclosures of the underlying mindset in the so-called war-on-terror. Reminiscent of the child perplexed by the suspicious grins at the doorstep, the soldier who recently used the Quran for target practice may wonder, "Whassall the fuss about? No big deal! Aint that why we're here? I ain’t done nothin' wrong!"
This was the latest in a long catalogue of childlike mistakes by US soldiers who are unable to grasp the need for subtlety. The list also includes Abu Ghraib torture regimes and the Newsweek report of a Quran being flushed down the toilet in Guantanamo Bay.
Following each blunder, we are usually treated to a series of pleasing statements about "respect for Muslims" and that "this is not a war on Islam".
The problem is that the more frequently these incidents occur, the less convinced we become of the sincerity of those statements. This is especially so when one considers the fact that there are hundreds of academics - in universities and think tanks all over the Western world - working night and day to perfect techniques to target the Quran and Islam through interventionist schemes, which are designed to dismantle the religio-cultural structures of Muslim societies and reconfigure them in the image of the West.
Let us take one example from within the corridors of power in Washington. How can one forget the Neocon family of the former US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, whose term ended only in March last year and who is now the US ambassador to the UN? His wife, Cheryl Bernard, is the person who wrote the notorious Rand Corporation Islam-reformation-blueprint, in which she called for the West to actively promote "Muslims" who regard parts of the Quran as myth, whilst blaming traditional Islam for all the problems in the Muslim world:
"Traditionalists by definition believe that the Quran and the shari'a should be followed literally and completely... Further, traditionalism is causally linked with backwardness and underdevelopment, which in turn are the breeding ground for social and political problems of all sorts. Traditionalism was, throughout much of modern history, the dominant version of Islam, determining the way in which Muslim society was structured ... the traditionalists have presided over societies marked by these persistent problems. And until headway is made on these problems, the region will remain highly unstable and vulnerable to extremist movements." (Cheryl Bernard, Civil Democratic Islam, Partners, Resources and Strategies, Rand Corporation, National Security Division, 2003, p.34.)
The plan she advocates is to replace scholars of traditional mainstream Islam with the likes of Khalid Abou El Fadl and Muhammad Shahrur to deconstruct the Quran.
She confesses the enormity of the task she advocates: "It is no easy matter to transform a major world religion. If 'nation-building' is a daunting task, 'religion-building' is immeasurably more perilous and complex." But this does not dampen her aspirations. After placing Muslims into four boxes (Fundamentalist, Traditionalist, Modernist and Secularist) only the modernists remain qualified, as far as she is concerned, to represent Islam. She says:
"The modernist vision matches our own... Modernism, not traditionalism, is what worked for the West. This included the necessity to depart from, modify, and selectively ignore elements of the original religious doctrine... That is exactly the approach that Islamic modernists also propose." (p. 37)
Offering the Christian and Jewish reformations as examples for dismissing holy texts as "history and legend", she applauds the modernist Muslims who attempt to do the same with the Quran.
In the five years since this blueprint document was published, we have seen literally hundreds of modernist "reformers" following this plan, emerging in Muslim communities all over the world. Most of them enjoy the patronage and financial support of Western governments. Here in Britain, the Muslim community is still recovering from the venom of the most recent manifestation of this plan in the escapades of Ed Husain who, unsurprisingly, lists an Abu'l Fadl as one of his guiding lights during the authorship of his book "The Islamist".
This Bernard blueprint, targeting Muslim attachment to the Quran, permeates almost every scheme being unveiled for Muslim community reform around the world. From the seemingly benign focus on supplementary mosque schools (makaatib) to the calls for restructuring university and school curricula in Islamic studies, they all seem to flow from a deep-seated hatred for the way Muslims relate to their holy Book - the Quran.
The Ambassador's wife was not optimistic about being able to change the attitudes of adult Muslims towards Islam. However, she places her hope in succeeding with our children - the next generation. She argued that "committed adult adherents ... are unlikely to be easily influenced into changing their views. The next generation, however, can conceivably be influenced." (p.3)
In furthering her mission to deconstruct Islam, she has maintained a leading role, particularly among Muslim youth and Muslim women. She currently serves as Director for the Rand Corporation Initiative for Middle Eastern Youth, Center for Middle East Public Policy.
Following Bernard's recent visit to Britain, the UK government announced a new programme to establish the "Young Muslims' Consultative Group".
Perhaps it is a sincere initiative but one cannot help but notice the uncanny resemblance it has to the other programmes currently being run by Cheryl Bernard in various parts of the world. For example, the website of the RAND Initiative on Middle Eastern Youth boasts, "Under the direction of Dr. Cheryl Bernard, IMEY is proud to unveil the Youth Deradicalization Message Board" and "Roundtable Focuses on Western Public Diplomacy and the Dialogue with Islamic Youth".
Dialogue with our youth is something that should be welcomed but when the agenda is guided by people who have set as their target the deconstruction of the Quran and have openly stated that they hope to accomplish this through focusing on the next generation of Muslims, one must be forgiven for being reluctant to cooperate.
No amount of diplomatic language can obscure these stark realities from the minds of Muslims. Indeed, when a naive infantry soldier uses the Quran for target practice, despite all the assurances from the diplomatic staff at the White House, we see it as nothing more than a crude manifestation of broader schemes designed to target the Book we regard as the Word of God. These schemes, cloaked in subtlety, remain persistent in their scope and their ultimate ambition lies far beyond the bullets of a single rifleman.
The excesses of that soldier is akin to the speech of the child on the doorstep. The fault will always belong to the father who sends his children to the door with missions to deceive. To put it bluntly, Mr Commander-in-Chief, whenever you say that in your Neocon-guided pursuits Islam is not a target, we are inclined to think that you regard us more as fools than fellow human beings with comparable intellect.
A few weeks ago, a priest in the US - regarded as "a truly great leader, America's moral compass and a spiritual guide" - declared that, "America was created to destroy Islam." The Reverend Rod Parsley was a key driving force behind the Christian vote for the Bush candidacy in 2004, and he is also a high profile supporter of the Republican Party nominee John McCain. We are not paranoid Mr Bush, nor are we fooled by your diplomatic language. We know the target. The question is, when will you and your Neocon colleagues see the futility of your pursuits?
"They intend to extinguish the Light of God with their mouths, but God will not allow but that His Light be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest it. It is He Who hath sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to proclaim it to all religion, even though the Pagans may detest it." (Quran 9: 32-33)