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Sep 28, 2015
Presented by
Raymond Ibrahim

Is radical Islam our generation's most dangerous ideology? Is it comparable to what Nazism and Communism were in the 20th century? Or are Islamists no more dangerous than extremist Christians, Jews, and Buddhists?

Islamism is an existential threat to the West.

  • In recent decades, Islamism—a radical, fundamentalist, often violent form of Islam—has become the most imminent threat to freedom, civil rights, and life.View Source
  • Like fascism and communism, Islamism is a system in which the government controls every aspect of life, and seeks to expand its control, often through violence.View Source
  • Militant Islamism does not wish to restrict Sharia law only to Muslims who voluntarily elect to be governed by it. Rather, Islamists want to govern the entire world by Sharia law, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Those who oppose that expansion are viewed as hostile to the holy cause. Islamists view the American and Western antipathy to state-sponsored religion with contempt.View Source

An estimated 150 million of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims want to impose Islamic law on the entire world.

  • There are approximately one and a half billion Muslims in the world.View Source
  • Thankfully, most of them are not Islamists. Indeed, many Muslims believe in peace and do not support radical groups like ISIS.View Source
  • However, radical beliefs are increasingly common in many Muslim majority countries. A 2013 Pew Research Poll found that a large majority of Muslims in Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan supports the stoning of adulterers, and in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Malaysia, a large majority supports the death penalty for Muslims who turn away from Islam. A conservative estimate based on these findings would put the number of Islamists at 150 million, around 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population.View Source

Islamism is mutually exclusive with liberty.

  • Like fascism and communism, Islamism is a system in which the government controls every aspect of life, and seeks to expand its control, often through violence.View Source
  • Sharia law is an Islamic legal system derived from interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, a record of reported teachings of Muhammad.View Source
  • Militant Islamism does not wish to restrict Sharia law only to Muslims who voluntarily elect to be governed by it. Rather, Islamists want to govern the entire world by Sharia law, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Those who oppose that expansion are viewed as hostile to the holy cause. Islamists view the American and Western antipathy to state-sponsored religion with contempt.View Source
  • Commonplace practices in Sharia-governed areas that are antithetical to Western values include child marriage, rape, slavery, and extreme punishments, such as execution for insulting or forsaking Islam or committing homosexual acts.View Source

Even though most Muslims are not Islamists, many still support and run interference on behalf of them.

  • There are approximately one and a half billion Muslims in the world.View Source
  • Thankfully, most of them are not Islamists. Indeed, many Muslims believe in peace and do not support radical groups like ISIS.View Source
  • However, radical beliefs are increasingly common in many Muslim majority countries. A 2013 Pew Research Poll found that a large majority of Muslims in Pakistan, Egypt, and Jordan supports the stoning of adulterers, and in Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, and Malaysia, a large majority supports the death penalty for Muslims who turn away from Islam. A conservative estimate based on these findings would put the number of Islamists at 150 million, around 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population.View Source

Islamism has replaced fascism and communism as the most violent and totalitarian ideology threatening the free world.

  • In the first half of the 20th century, fascism led to World War II, killing over 60 million people.View Source
  • In the second half of the century, Communism resulted in the death of about 100 million, in places like the Soviet Union, Cambodia, and China.View Source
  • In recent decades, Islamism—a radical, fundamentalist, often violent form of Islam—has become the most imminent threat to freedom, civil rights, and life.View Source
  • Like fascism and communism, Islamism is a system in which the government controls every aspect of life, and seeks to expand its control, often through violence.View Source

Militant Islamists believe adherence to Sharia is a mandate for everyone, not just for Muslims.

  • Sharia law is an Islamic legal system derived from interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, a record of reported teachings of Muhammad.View Source
  • Militant Islamism does not wish to restrict Sharia law only to Muslims who voluntarily elect to be governed by it. Rather, Islamists want to govern the entire world by Sharia law, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Those who oppose that expansion are viewed as hostile to the holy cause. Islamists view the American and Western antipathy to state-sponsored religion with contempt.View Source
  • Commonplace practices in Sharia-governed areas that are antithetical to Western values include child marriage, rape, slavery, and extreme punishments, such as execution for insulting or forsaking Islam or committing homosexual acts.View Source

Islamism is today’s version of Nazism, Fascism and Communism—the biggest threat to the free world.

  • In the first half of the 20th century, fascism led to World War II, killing over 60 million people.View Source
  • In the second half of the century, Communism resulted in the death of about 100 million, in places like the Soviet Union, Cambodia, and China.View Source
  • In recent decades, Islamism—a radical, fundamentalist, often violent form of Islam—has become the most imminent threat to freedom, civil rights, and life.View Source
  • Like fascism and communism, Islamism is a system in which the government controls every aspect of life, and seeks to expand its control, often through violence.View Source

Islamists want to impose Islamic law upon every society on earth.

  • Like fascism and communism, Islamism is a system in which the government controls every aspect of life, and seeks to expand its control, often through violence.View Source
  • Sharia law is an Islamic legal system derived from interpretations of the Koran and Hadith, a record of reported teachings of Muhammad.View Source
  • Militant Islamism does not wish to restrict Sharia law only to Muslims who voluntarily elect to be governed by it. Rather, Islamists want to govern the entire world by Sharia law, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. Those who oppose that expansion are viewed as hostile to the holy cause. Islamists view the American and Western antipathy to state-sponsored religion with contempt.View Source
  • Commonplace practices in Sharia-governed areas that are antithetical to Western values include child marriage, rape, slavery, and extreme punishments, such as execution for insulting or forsaking Islam or committing homosexual acts.View Source

If even only 1% of the Islamists in the world are extreme enough to use violence, the world faces over 1 million potential terrorists.

  • Not all Islamists are willing to use violence to enforce their ideology, but as recent events have demonstrated, many are.View Source
  • Known Islamist terrorist organizations include the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab.View Source
  • These groups’ tactics include suicide bombing, car bombing, hijacking airplanes, beheading, dismembering, and systematic rape.View Source
  • Even if only one percent of Islamists are extreme enough to use this type of violence, that would mean 1.5 million potential terrorists in the world. For more, read Pew’s comprehensive study on the beliefs of Muslims.View Source

What is the world's most dangerous ideology?

In the first part of the 20th century, the answer was Fascism; first manifest in Italy in the 1920's, and then in Nazi Germany and in Imperial Japan. It took a world war and 50 million dead to stamp it out. 

In the second half of the 20th century, the answer was Communism. Between the Soviet Union, Mao's China and their client states, at least 100 million people were killed in its wake. 

Today, the answer is Islamism, a radical, and often violent, form of Islam. 

Like Fascism and Communism, Islamism is totalitarian in nature: the state controls everything.  Also like Fascism and Communism, Islamism is inherently expansionist. It always seeks to get bigger, cross borders, and bring as many peoples as possible under its control.  And, like Fascism and communism, many of Islamism's adherents are prepared to kill to achieve its aims. 

Those aims are antithetical to everything Western and other free societies stand for: free speech, free enterprise, freedom to practice, or not to practice, any religion, freedom of assembly, a free press and, of course, fundamental human and civil rights for all their citizens. 

Islamism completely rejects the Western principle of separating religion from government.  In its view, governments are legitimate only if they rule according to religious law -- in Islamism's case, Sharia, Islam's extensive body of sacred laws.  

Sharia is based on the teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah. The Quran is believed to be the literal words of Allah, as revealed to his prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. And the Sunna consists of the words and deeds attributed to Muhammad.  

Islamists interpret Sharia to hold that anyone born Muslim must remain Muslim and face execution if they convert to any another religion; that adulterers must be stoned to death; that anyone who insults Islam or Mohammed must either be severely whipped or executed, and that thieves should have a limb cut off. In addition, Islamists condone polygamy and child-marriage. 

These beliefs are being put into practice right now in, among other places, Iran, the Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the Muslim parts of Nigeria, parts of Pakistan Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan -- and wherever else Sharia has established a foothold. 

If Islamists were content to live under strict Sharia law in their own communities and leave everyone who doesn't want to live that way alone, they wouldn't be a threat to the rest of the world. But that would not be Islamism. 

Islamism wants the entire world governed by Sharia. And anyone who opposes Islamist expansionism is the enemy and must be destroyed. That, of course, includes the United States, all of Europe and Israel. But it also includes fellow Muslims. Indeed, Islamists have killed far more Muslims than members of any other group. 

So, how many Islamists are there? Nobody knows for sure. But we can make some conservative calculations. There are approximately one and a half billion Muslims in the world. How many of these are Islamists? 

A 2013 Pew Research Poll offers some clues. 86 percent of Muslims in Pakistan, 80 percent in Egypt, and 65 percent in Jordan, support the stoning of adulterers. 79 percent in Afghanistan, 62 percent of Palestinians, and 58 percent in Malaysia, considered a moderate Muslim country, support the death penalty for Muslims who convert from Islam. If only 10 percent of the world's Muslims are Islamists -- and the percentage is likely higher -- that's 150 million people.  

Among these, how many are willing to take violent action to enforce their Islamism? Here we're talking about Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and other groups that send suicide bombers into markets, explode car bombs at funerals, throw acid in the faces of girls who attend school, murder sisters or daughters who defy the will of a brother or father, or who fly hijacked airplanes into buildings. This is a very hard number to pin down. 

So let's again be cautious and say the figure is only 2% of that 150 million. That's still three million people. Three million potential terrorists organized by a common ideology -- and supported by many more. 

The good news is that hundreds of millions of Muslims are not radical Islamists. Just to cite one example the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood governed Egypt for one year in 2012. But enough Egyptians were so outraged by the Brotherhood's harsh imposition of Sharia law that they staged perhaps the largest demonstrations in human history against the Muslim Brotherhood and brought that government down. 

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, every generation has been confronted with a lethal threat to freedom and fundamental human rights. Free people defeated the last two totalitarian threats, Fascism and Communism. If we want to preserve freedom, we, non Muslims and Muslims alike, will have to defeat the threat of our time -- Islamism.

I'm Raymond Ibrahim, author of the Al-Qaeda Reader, for Prager University.

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