Exclusive: The Machiavelli-Islamism Connection
by LESLIE SACKS
February 13, 2010
Raymond Ibrahim*, a specialist in Islamic theology, practice, and politics, has penned a fascinating response to Nidal Hasan and Fort Hood (click here for Part One of the article and click here for Part Two). He points out that many Westerners have great difficulty assuming that radical Islamic beliefs (Islamism) are central to much of contemporary Islamic practice, rather than just limited to isolated fringe groups and of no import or effect beyond terrorism. This reluctance exists despite the fact that many of these beliefs, like jihad, are widely acknowledged – Islam's more "undercover" radicalism is another matter altogether.
Islamism is Machiavellianism in its purest form. Its goal is to strengthen the Umma (the Muslim people) and expand Dar al-Islam (the Muslims world) above all else. It must embrace all "true" Muslims, even if oppressive or violent, and yet must disavow all infidels (non-believers), irrespective of their friendship or kindness.
The doctrine of Taqiyya (or "deception") is at the core of this Machiavellian worldview. Deceit and pretense, apparently, are most suitable when living amongst infidels, where one is advised to feign moderation and compromise yet pursue with stealthy zeal one's uncompromising goals. Hamas, notably, has considered a long-term ceasefire with Israel, not with peace in mind but (as they have eloquently explained to those who actually listen) to earn a respite, to rebuild their offensive capabilities and bide their time until they are finally strong enough to sweep Israel into the sea. What is fascinating is that most Western media and politicians choose to discount the honest declarations intended for Gazans and instead rely on Hamas' Taqiyya-based propaganda conjured up for the West. The Western perspective, based as it is on the ideals of open and honest dialogue, on goodwill and tolerance, seems almost genetically programmed to fail to see Islamism as it is, in spite of all the abounding evidence, and in spite of the clear annunciations and fatwas daily by the jurists, imams and leaders representing the radical Islamic world.
Finally, what could be more Machiavellian – the embrace of any means to achieve one's ends – than martyrdom in the pursuit of jihad. "Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter in the path of Allah....we shall richly reward him" (Koran 4:74). No means are too nefarious, no process too deceitful, no violence too cataclysmic, no innocence too pure, in the sacrifice of this life for the killing of infidels and the 72 virgins awaiting the martyrs. Even Machiavelli would surely blush.
A strict doctrinal expression of Islam prohibits living amongst the infidels in America, Europe and elsewhere, unless there is sufficient justification by virtue of Taqiyya, Jihad and ultimately conversion. The essence of Islamism, the "means justify the ends" philosophy, must thus necessarily be based not on what their adherents and promoters say to us, but crucially on what they do, what they believe, and what they say amongst themselves, in their mosques, in their media and in their schools. That is the acid test, not the warm and fuzzy doublespeak that we so desperately want to hear.
The future beckons and it will be decided by those who project their own Western worldview, their own desires, needs and beliefs onto the Islamic world, as well as by those who listen intently for the clues of truth and reality that openly emanate from the nascent Islamic Caliphate. Which of these are you going to be?
*Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum and the author of the Al Qaeda Reader, a set of translations of religious texts and propaganda.