It Is Written: Islamic Faith in Ultimate Victory
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
The “defeat” of the Islamic State (ISIS) has occasioned some self-congratulation in the West. The so-called caliphate no longer controls any significant territory and has been reduced to a rag-tag band of fighters without a place to plant their flag. If ISIS were merely a military or political entity, there might be some justification for thinking it has been vanquished. But ISIS is Islam. And Islam has not been vanquished.
There is a common Arabic expression, “Maktoob,” that defines the Muslim view of history. “Maktoob” means “It is written.” The Muslim understanding is that history is an unfoldment of the will of allah, as affirmed in the Koran. So, every event is “maktoob,” determined by allah’s decree from eternity.
What follows from this assumption is that allah’s will can be seen in all that happens. Some Muslims argue for the role of free will in the determination of events, but their position appears to have more to do with individual destiny than the framework of history. Free will, at least as a subjective experience, cannot be denied, but it is subordinated to the will of allah.
The grand historical focus in Islam shifts from limited human agency to “divinely” decreed events. But events have no self-evident meaning: they must be interpreted by the observer. For Muslims, the interpretive key for all events is, of course, the Koran. They have no other way to understand history, or anything else.
So, when Muslims are defeated by infidels, the cause is seen as necessarily religious, not military or material. Any defeat of Islam cannot be due to the valor or skill of the enemy, but only to the lack of zeal among the soldiers of allah. (Free will has a role in this respect.) Muslims are taught the history of battles in which they were greatly outnumbered but triumphed because of the faith of their warriors and their willingness to die in jihad. There is, in the Muslim mind, a correlation between faith and victory to which all other factors are incidental.
This Muslim view of history is insufficiently appreciated in the West. For us, nothing is written except what we choose to write. And we wrongly assume that Muslims think as we do, in practical terms based on discernible natural causes. Hilaire Belloc knew that Islam would rise again, despite its materially and militarily prostrate condition in the 1930s, for he knew that faith in allah had never diminished among the people of Dar-Al-Islam — the world of Islam. All that is not Dar-Al-Islam is Dar-Al-Harb – the world of war. So long as Islam does not rule the world, war must be waged upon all who resist it. There can be no peaceful co-existence.
Belloc knew that in Dar-Al-Harb — the Christian West — faith was fast fading. He predicted that our ability to withstand the resurgence of Islam would finally depend, not on our material resources, but on our belief in our own culture, rooted in Christianity. That culture has all but disappeared in the great capitals of Europe and in the Americas. Muslims coming to the West find little to compete with their religion, which remains resistant to the lure of commercial culture. And compared to the weak and flickering flame of Christianity, Islam now burns with an unmatched brilliance.
Appetite has become the bloated and phlegmatic god of the West, and our rituals revolve around the satisfaction of our sensual desires. Our high holy day in the United States is Super Bowl Sunday, when the nation dedicates itself to gluttony and vicarious violence. We gorge and bellow and curse as we watch large men crash into one another in a brutal and meaningless game whose purpose is to entertain and to make money for its promoters. And when the game is over, there are pornographic movies and TV shows to fill out the evening’s program. Is it any wonder that Muslims regard the West with contempt?
And is it any wonder that Islam finds among its adherents willing “martyrs”? A growing number of jihadis, many now living among us, are prepared to kill us and themselves to advance Dar-Al-Islam. They believe allah wills Muslims to rule the world and that this will happen. But they have a role to play in hastening victory: they must strike fear into the infidel and rally the soldiers of allah.
Ultimate defeat, for Muslims, is not considered possible. When Muslims are beaten militarily, the result is not a desire for peace, but a renewed call to battle. They are confident of ultimate victory, for “It is written.” The cause of delay for Dar-Al-Islam is seen as the lack of zeal for jihad among the believers.
This is why atrocities committed to the cry of “allahu akbar” generally elicit no condemnation from Muslim nations. Rather than deplore the actions of suicide bombers and murderers, many Muslims see these jihadis as heroes and feel their bloody actions as a reproach to their own lukewarm faith and lack of courage. “If we were good Muslims, we would do likewise,” is a common sentiment. The term “radicalized,” used by Western journalists to describe the jihadi terrorist, is an unwitting synonym for “good Muslim.”
Dar-Al-Islam is seen as inevitable. Its day will dawn when more Muslims become “good Muslims.” “Maktoob” — It is written. There is nothing in the history of Islam to suggest that peaceful co-existence with Dar-Al-Harb is desirable or even possible. The West deludes itself by its repeated self-assurances that Islam is a “religion of peace.” The West is so immersed in its materialism that it has lost the ability to understand the nature of a principle that rises above personal comfort, let alone one that demands total sacrifice.
And when we are reminded of such a principle, what form does it take? The Vicar of Christ, in an encyclical, urged us to cut back on air-conditioning, which he asserts is harmful to the environment. But “less air-conditioning” is hardly a battle cry equal in its passion to “allahu akbar.” And the Pope, along with other leaders of the Global Left, refuses to acknowledge Islam as a threat to what remains of our sinfully air-conditioned civilization. Despite Islam’s repeated claims that it will conquer Rome, the Pope wants all of us to pull harder on the ropes that draw the Trojan horse within the gates of the Eternal City. But this metaphor is not entirely accurate: the Trojan horse was a disguise and a deception; Islam stands in plain sight and openly declares its intentions.
As Muslims grow more confident that the promised conquest of the West is ever closer to realization, the Catholic Church grows more confused about its role in history and its mission. Pope Francis has shown a strong distaste for doctrinal certitude. He never tires of mocking those who believe that Revelation offers us a clear vision of reality. On the contrary, the Pope believes in the “God of Surprises,” a curious phrase never before uttered by any Pope or prelate. Its meaning is not entirely clear.
What the Pope seems to be saying is that we must learn the Divine will by looking around us at what is happening in the world. This may seem, at first glance, to be a Catholic counterpart to the Islamic faith in “Maktoob.” But there is a major difference: the Muslim believes that allah has prescribed the future and that it is Dar-Al-Islam; Francis believes that the future is unknown, unprescribed, and that we must discover God’s will by observing and accepting what most people are doing in the “concrete circumstances” of their lives. We, as Catholics, must discover the changing nature of our Faith as it becomes manifest in the current character of popular culture. Thus, the new buzzwords of “accommodation” and “discernment” have given rise to a new orthodoxy: one based on a malleable creed that assumes whatever form is imposed upon it by current social tendencies. What are we to believe? Ask the “God of Surprises.” Faith becomes a Jack-in-the-Box popping up unexpectedly to the strains of a fitting popular tune: “Pop Goes the Weasel”!
The Pope has signed a joint declaration with Grand Imam El-Tayeb in Abu Dhabi in which it is affirmed that all religions are willed by God. The Pope, no doubt, regards this declaration as a triumph of ecumenism and a step toward peaceful relations with Islam. Much has been written about how this declaration cannot be reconciled with Catholic teaching. But little has been said about how it cannot be reconciled with Islamic teaching.
To advance Dar-Al-Islam, the Muslim is commanded to make jihad – holy war. But jihad can be advanced by what is called “taqiyya” – deceit. There are several verses in the Koran that justify lying to non-believers if it lulls them into complacence and makes it easier to defeat them. It is not what you say, but the intention of your heart by which allah judges you (Koran, 2:225). Perhaps, the Pope should learn what Islam teaches before he bows his head in front of the grand imam. He may end up losing it.