“I studied the Koran a great deal … I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.” — Alexis de Tocqueville
Despite the terrible massacre of October 7, many politicians in the West continue to talk about Islam as a “religion of peace.” Respected professors, journalists, columnists, and philosophers from Paris to San Francisco share this view. They really want to believe in it; otherwise, the claim that true evil comes from the West only, and the Islamic movement is no more than a form of national struggle of the oppressed people, becomes meaningless. Unfortunately, Hamas, like ISIS and al-Qaeda before, is pure, uncomplicated Islam in its most genuine, original form.
Islam, like some forms of Judaism and Christianity, is a religion that interprets divine revelation literally; they believe that the fulfillment of God’s laws is the only way to perfection, salvation, and harmony.
God in some understandings of these religions is anthropomorphic, omnipotent, and immanent. Like a father, He is strict and at the same time fair to His children; He knows their every step and judges them according to His laws. He may be jealous, merciful, rigid, compassionate, and solicitous. He can reveal his face and can conceal it, but the believer doesn’t have any other option except to believe that the Father in Heaven cares about him, no matter what.
His laws are irreversible. His will determines everything and everyone's tasks of a government, relations between the ruler and his subjects, punishments for crimes, individual freedoms, gender relations and the state of minorities, and public aid to the weak and feeble.
Human intervention in Divine instructions is blasphemy, which inevitably results in a severe punishment. Moreover, the followers of fundamentalist religions are inclined to believe in conspiracies of evil.
Time and misery, humanistic ideals and rational thinking have changed the nature of the once rigid Jewish and Christian beliefs, but not those of Muslims. Many Muslims were never and aren’t aware of their own blind hatred and fanaticism; they are not appalled by these, and they’ve never undergone a catharsis that would allow them to look inside themselves. Islam has never known self-reflection, doubt, and spiritual dissatisfaction, as prophetic Judaism did in the epoch of Judges and Kings, or Christianity in the Enlightenment period. Movements of spiritual protest, as the Essenes were in Jewish history, or Waldenses, Cathars, and Hussites in medieval Europe, are unfamiliar to Islam. It is proud of its own perfection, immutability, and monumentality.
It strives for expansion, which is prescribed by the Qur’an and Hadith. Religious commandments and regulations of Islam are neither a choice nor an allegory. These are literal and undeniable Divine commandments, very specific and covering the areas of human existence to the fullest possible extent. Muslims strongly believe that Allah reveals himself in every sign and every phenomenon they find His name: in the shape of clouds, spots on animals, a mole on skin, interweaving of tree’s branches, contours of stones.
Islam divides humanity into Dar al-Islam (House of Islam) with righteous, divine laws of Islam, and Dar al-Harb (House of War), with chaos, infidelity and false (or at best, imperfect) teachings. The House of Islam and the House of War are doomed to confrontation, which must end with the triumph of “true religion.” The establishment of the “Islamic state” (caliphate) based on Sharia laws via “jihad” is a divine mission of Islam, and other interpretations of the Koran and other sacred texts – such as the Hadith — do not exist.
The problem is not the ruthless uprooting of heresies, but in the fact that the heresies simply do not exist. There were countless attempts in the Medieval Europe to undermine the monolith of Dogma and return spirituality to Western Christianity, from the Troubadours to the Proto-Renaissance to the Lollards and Waldenses.
We haven’t seen anything like this in the Muslim world. Only in Sunni Islam, minor disagreements have occurred about the way to create a World State of Sharia by preserving immutable and indestructible law (the Salafis) or by adopting modern political tools, such as democratic elections, the parliamentary system and legal institutions (the Muslim Brotherhood). But the main goals remain the same. In Shia Islam, only ayatollahs have supreme, exclusive and indisputable power, without any hint of rational or humanist understanding of religion.
The enemies of Islam are subject to destruction and humiliation. Judaism and Christianity for Muslims are the ugly, weak shadow of only one true religion. The Yazidis, followers of dualism, are servants of Evil and must be destroyed physically, and in terrible agony, as children of Satan.
Conspiracy Theories are not prejudices of ignorant masses, but an integral part of the ruling elite. In July 2014, Iranian state TV translated a discussion with Valliollah Naghipourfar, cleric and professor of Tehran University, who claimed that Zionists use genies to undermine Iran; in April 2013, a well-known Iranian cleric and close confidante of Ayatollah Khamenei warned about “global Jewish sorcery”; in December 2010, Said Mohamed Abdel-Fadli Shusha, governor of South Sinai, spoke about a shark sent by “Mossad” to hurt tourists in Egypt”; in Gaza, Hamas arrested 150 women and accused them of witchcraft, and the list goes on.
The doctrine of mainstream Islam sees death through jihad as a blessing, that’s the reason that both the Sunni Hamas and Shiite Hezbollah say that they love death. Therefore, they are doing everything possible to communicate this simple idea to their ordinary, less zealous coreligionists, by slighting and intimidating them.
It is only in our time of neo-Marxist clichés and naivety that Islam could be called a religion of peace. Philosophers and historians of the Enlightenment and the nineteenth century, unlike our contemporaries, were not hypocrites.
David Hume described the Qur’an as an absurd performance of a pretended prophet who lacked a just sentiment of morals. Voltaire called Muhammad the founder of a false and barbarous sect and a false prophet. Helvetius wrote that Islam dreamed of conquering the world “by fire and sword.” Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: “I studied the Koran a great deal … I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.” The Church historian Philip Schaff wrote: “Mohammedanism conquered the fairest portions of the earth by the sword and cursed them by polygamy, slavery, despotism, and desolation; the moving power of Islam was fanaticism and brute force.” Ernest Renan called Islam the heaviest chains that have ever shackled humanity.
Escapism has always been inherent in people. But it has never manifested itself with such power and scale of an entire civilization, as we witness today.
Alexander Maistrovoy is the author of Agony of Hercules or a Farewell to Democracy (Notes of a Stranger), available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.