I acknowledge the profound importance of Lloyd de Jongh’s work in exposing the dark underbelly of Islam, his remarkable achievement in pulling so much generally inaccessible material together, and especially for making that material available to the public. In this essay, drawing mainly on two of Lloyd de Jongh’s videos, I also show why his insistence on Islam not being a religion, and on the irrelevance of the Qur’an, are untenable. Such insistence, I show, is a priori and necessarily leads to an incomplete understanding of Islam as a totalitarian system.
A deen is a socio-political system. It is not a religion. It's akin to Communism and Fascism, because it is totalitarian.
De Jongh’s objection implies that all that is required is knowledge of what Islam is, and that how Islam is maintained is irrelevant. Totalitarian systems have been famously short-lived (Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany), or given to cataclysmic upheavals (China and Russia), even intermittently dropping out of existence. Islam is akin to Kokka-Shinto Japan in very different ways from the way it is akin to "Communism and Fascism." Yet, the “people of knowledge” have managed to maintain Islam despite its being a totalitarian, and hence inherently unsustainable, system for 1400 years. If it is going to claimed that Islam is "akin to Communism and Fascism, because it is totalitarian," then this relatedness needs to be accounted for.
It needs to be explained why, for "the elect" (as the Shari'a refers the higher echelons of the Islamic hierarchy), the deen of Islam is a comprehensive totalitarian system, while for "the masses" (another Shari'a designation), the deen of Islam is nothing more than a religion. De Jongh offers no explanations, presumably because he does not see anything that requires explaining. His emphatically repeated claims fly in the face of his own evidence.
In late antiquity, and for a very long time thereafter, Islam was by far the most horrible fate that could be visited upon an old-world people, and in many respects it remains so despite the rise of modern, technologically advanced totalitarian systems. For helping to make the sophisticated barbarism that is Islam crystal clear in the face of determined Muslim efforts to keep this hidden, especially from lay Muslims, De Jongh is owed a great debt of gratitude. Exposing the horror in the dark heart of Islam is an enormous service to humanity, but claiming that Islam is not a religion is a disappointing disservice to the intellect and to his own integrity. We expose De Jongh's intellectual dishonesty.
A nonsensical question that has been bouncing around for as long as rival gods have been vying for believers is whether a particular monotheistic religion is “true,” or in its earlier form, whether this god or that god is the "one true god." Since each monotheistic religion must distinguish its god from all rivals for it to be able identify the "true god," its own, of course, it must arrogates unto itself the prerogative to decide the nature of what it calls ‘God.' It must, in other words, equip itself to determine the truth of its god and the falsehood of all other gods, and along with them, all their prophets, faiths and scriptures and, accordingly, the ignorance, evil, or at least misguidedness, of their respective believers.
Of late, we have been treated to the question, “Is Islam true?” I have argued elsewhere that such a question makes no sense. A clearer question that does make sense, for instance, is whether Islam is a religion. This question admits to investigation and the presentation of objective evidence one way or the other. Lloyd de Jongh offers an emphatic answer: “Islam is not a religion,” much repeated and expressed with obvious disdain for positions to the contrary. “Islam is a deen, a totalitarian system,” insist De Jongh quite correctly, in contradistinction to a religion, quite incorrectly. De Jong’s evidence shows not only that Islam is both a totalitarian system and a religion, it also shows that its totalitarianism functions through its being a religion, and that the two sides condition one another.
For all his insistence that Islam is not a religion, De Jongh cannot do without conceptualising it or speaking of it as exactly that. He says, for example, “Islam is a religion not of priests, but a religion of lawyers, and I think that’s exactly right.” It will become clear as we delve deeper into De Jongh’s own evidence and efforts, that Islam is very much a religion, and not to the exclusion of Islam as a totalitarian system, on the contrary, the two are intimately intertwined. Islam as religion is necessary for Islam as totalitarian system to become sustainably operational. Pre-industrial totalitarianism can function only through religion. Without Islam as religion, Islam as totalitarianism remains no more than a political programme.
Understanding that Islam is a totalitarian system requires understanding of the Shari’a, but understanding how lay Muslims are kept ignorant of this fact requires familiarity with Islam as religion, i.e., the faith, the Qur’an, the hadith, the life of Muhammad and, most important of all, the relationship between lay Muslims and their "scholars." Most Muslims who leave Islam do so long before they know that Islam is a totalitarian system, if, indeed, they ever come to that insight. It is therefor very strange to hear Lloyd de Jongh, in some sense an authority on Shari’a, say the following:
I watch Christian apologists and academics read the Qur’an as if Muslims haven’t had 1400 years to do exegesis of all of the Islamic sources, like the hadith and the Qur’an, extract all the meaning from that, write it down, codify it, document it, and explain it, as if this never happened. We go to Qur’an 65:4—who cares what Qur’an—No! You don't go there, because Qur’an 65:4 is thirty words, twenty words. I can go to the Shari’a, which has fifty pages of highly detailed laws explaining precisely what that means. Why would I read a vague Qur’anic verse, which has some contradictory verse, so they always all have contradictory verses somewhere else in the book, when I can go to Shari’a, which is black and white and unambiguous.
De Jongh himself acknowledges that the 1400 years of exegesis is expressly forbidden to lay Muslims, who are confined to the Qur’an, Hadith and Seera. Muslims have, indeed, spent 1400 years doing exegesis, but not lay Muslims. Only the “people of knowledge” have done this, and done it very thoroughly — after all, they designed Islam — and precisely because it is such an affront to reason, humanity and objective reality. This is why the now famous holes-in-the-narrative controversy erupted. The necessary doctrinal claim to perfection does stands up to neither reason, nor evidence. 1400 years of exegesis have left the “scholars” with volumes of irreconcilables, giving them all the more reason to keep the Shari’a away from lay Muslims, a task made impossible by widespread literacy, universal access to information and, above all, the rise of the autonomous individual in Muslim lands.
Lloyd de Jongh does not recognise that long before Islam can impose itself on the world, it has to first impose itself on Muslims. The totalitarian system that is Islam, is a totalitarian system for Muslims. This it must be before it can subjugate anybody else. Islam as a totalitarian system is all about dehumanising Muslims, alienating them from themselves, and making them ready to "slay and be slain" in the cause of Allah. This is how you get an army dying to kill itself on the orders of the "scholars."
Totalitarianism receives its driving force from a population with a supremacist identity and a global mission. In Islam, that supremacist identity is engendered and its global mission instilled in six-year-old children in madrassas across the world. Islam might be a religion of lawyers, but it is also a religion of priests. And it is the priests that run the madrassas, where they destroy the minds of little children, it is priests who instil the fear of God into those destroyed minds and it is priests who reconstruct those young minds so they never question and always only hear and obey. It is also the priests who send Muslims forth after Friday prayers to make the world aware of the presence of Islam in ways they have earned notoriety for, because Muslims are permanently at war with the kufaar. It is therefore also a religion of soldiers. The clue is in the pride with which Muslims say, "We hear and we obey."
Every Muslim is a soldier already mobilised, it is simply a matter of the extent of jihad, war against infidels, that their training allows, some show you how beautiful Islam is, others cut your head off. None of them are "radical." Many in the West are shocked at PEW reports showing overwhelming percentages of Muslims around the world want Shari'a. It is the priests serving as teachers who create that want while the child is in madrassa learning the faith, the regimental five daily prayers, and every other regimentation that makes up this religion. It stretches credulity that De Jongh is unaware of Shari'a texts being military secrets:
For Muslims, Islam emerges as a superior ideology, which towers over all other -isms, towers over anything. It is supposed to be so vastly superior and, of course, so superior that they're too ashamed to actually open the books and read and show it to us.
De Jongh makes great play of how Shari'a has ways of allowing whatever it forbids. This is one of the strengths of his work, the most important, in my opinion. The point about this, which I think De Jongh does not bring out enough, is the basis of right and wrong in Islam. Right or wrong in Islam has nothing to do with harming or not harming others, and everything to do with harming or not harming Islam. In other totalitarian systems, the equivalent might be harming or not harming the Motherland, harming or not harming the Aryan Race, harming or not harming the Church, the Party, etc.
To see the deen of Catholicism at work, see the Vatican's response to the Catholic child rape scandal. To see the deen of Communism at work, see how the Stalin cult of personality (a secular religion with a secular god) operated. Deen is comprehensive, meaning that it covers also the mechanism of control, which, in the cases of Islam and Catholicism, is religion. It just so happens that at this point in time, Catholicism does not wield the political power it once did, but its religious hold over the Catholic believer's mind only really began to unravel with the world-wide child rape scandal. De Jongh asserts, "Islam is a complete and competing ideology. It competes with Western morals. It competes with Western standards, completes with Western political systems. It wants to replace them." All if this is true. The same can be said of Catholicism, except that it fought tooth and nail to avoid the West replacing it, and failed.
Nazism is dead, Communism is collapsing in stages, and Islam is ascending in political power because religion had sustained it during its political dormancy, its "century of humiliation," when it was too weak to subjugate any "obedient tribes, qawmun dayyinun," and had to settle for only the most miserable Sikhs, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists, while Jews wield complete power over Muslims in the Middle East and the kufaar in general wield power over Muslims in the world at large. But during all this time, it is religion that kept lay Muslims, those already inside Islam, in check. Islam has eclipsed Catholicism as the world's premier force for evil and is in the process of eclipsing Communism.
Shari'a is Sacred Law
The very concept of Shari'a is grounded in religion. The law-giver is Allah/Muhammad. Shari'a is, God's Law. If Shari's is God's Law, then it is the law that God wills. If Shari'a is the law of God and Allah is the god that Islam requires Muslims to worship, the reader can be forgiven for wondering how De Jongh can give so much weight to Sacred Law, yet so emphatically insist that Islam is not a religion. It is even forbidden to study Shari'a for reasons other than to the glory of Allah. This selective aggregation and simultaneous disaggregation seems fundamental to De Jongh’s thinking. It all hinges, for De Jongh, on the etymology of the word Deen, which, he says, he derives as follows: “The famous classical Arabic dictionaries Al-Qamus al-Muheet and Lisan al-Arab state there are four meanings of deen.”
I have been unable to access these sources, but a few points immediately stand out:
Firstly, since "subjugation and dominance" posits its opposite, "obedience and bondage," in a relation, it is impossible for one side to exist without the other, meaning that meanings 1 and 2 are, in fact, one.
Secondly, the third meaning, Rules and Regulations (that should be the second), is broken down as: “doctrine, ideology, tradition or religion,” (emphasis original). From this breakdown, De Jongh “proves” that the "Rules and regulations" meaning of the deen comprise “doctrine, ideology, tradition or religion, not and religion, or.” (Emphasis original). To assert something repeatedly and emphatically, fortunately, does not make it true. The same fallacy can be observed amongst Muslims in disagreement. The one who yells the loudest has the truth.
Three: rules and regulations. Legal rules, the Shari'a, which includes: doctrine, ideology, tradition, and notice, it says here or religion, not and religion, or religion. Religion is an optional meaning within the term deen. Deen is a political and legal system. It does not mean religion. (Emphasis original)
De Jongh tries to exploit a grammatical loophole that does not exist, which immediately raises suspicions of an ulterior motive. When he says “doctrine, ideology, tradition or religion,” stressing the conjunction "or," in contradistinction to "and," the point he tries to make is that the "Rules and regulations" meaning of the deen, while including “doctrine, ideology, and tradition,” does not necessarily include religion. Unfortunately for De Jongh, the English language does not work this way. The commas between the items in the list simply denote the final conjunction and streamline what would otherwise be cumbersome writing: doctrine or ideology or tradition or religion, implying any combination of some or all of them.
For De Jongh’s argument to be consistent, only one of the four is necessarily part of the "Rules and regulations" of the deen. But if “doctrine, ideology, tradition,” are part of the "Rules and regulations" of the deen in some combination, then religion, too, can be included or excluded to the same degree as the rest, as either present or absent in the "Rules and regulations" of the deen. No one of them enjoys pre-eminence over the others. The plot thickens when we consider De Jongh’s list of categories amalgamated into a single list without their parent meanings:
Lloyd de Jongh relegates "religion" to position 10 on his list of twelve categories within Islam as deen, without any explanation for why religion, or any of the others for that matter, should have the priority he assigns them, except to assert that tenth is its level of priority, or even that they are priorities in the first place. Nonetheless, one-twelfth is close enough to 0 for De Jongh to dismiss his own evidence. He does not say, "Islam is one-twelfth religion;" he says, “Islam is not a religion.”
The fallacy is easily illustrated by analogy: say, there is evidence that Jane has played tennis for one hour every Saturday morning since childhood. It would be quite wrong to conclude from this that Jane has done nothing but play tennis all her life. Equally wrong, though, would be to conclude that she does not play tennis at all. The intellectual task is to understand how that one hour relates to the other 167 in the week. Perhaps that is when Jane meets her friend. Perhaps the tennis club has a great brunch on Saturdays. Perhaps that’s when she gets her weekly exercise in. In short, it would be intellectually more honest to explain the role of one hour of tennis in a week of 168 hours, than to show that the hour exists and then to conclude that it does not exist, especially when that conclusion is emphatic.
But let us look at the heading under which religion appears in the four meanings of the deen: Rules and Regulations. Along with religion, these rules and regulations include doctrine, ideology and tradition. In the following table, De Jongh lists these four in priority order: doctrine, ideology, tradition, religion. But if religion can be dismissed from Islam’s rules and regulations on account of the conjunction or, then doctrine, ideology and tradition can all, similarly, be dismissed, meaning that rules and regulations, i.e., law, can be dismissed.
Doctrine, ideology and tradition are, like religion, each only one-twelfth of the deen. They happen to be ranked above religion in priority because De Jongh, without explanation, choses to rank them that way. If religion, constituting only one-twelfth of Islam, can be dismissed as non-existent on that account, then so, too, can doctrine, ideology and tradition. Now one-third of Islam is dismissed, just because De Jongh wants to dismiss one-twelfth of it. It would be interesting to see how a totalitarian system void of rules and regulations works. The list that De Jongh has contrived to support an assertion that Islam is not a religion, but all about law, a strange distinction given the Ten Commandments, now turns onto its head because his project is fundamentally dishonest. Sometimes the truth slips out, as in "Deen is a political framework for managing mankind's affairs, from the religious to the social to the legal to the political to the military."
The strangeness does not end there. In De Jongh's list: "Four meanings of the deen," The reader will notice that none of the second, "Obedience & Bondage: subordination & dominance, under the power of others," appears amongst the twelve. Whatever the reason for this omission, it is not because De Jongh sees the first and the second as two sides of the same relation. If he did, he would not have separated them in the first place, and if he found them that way in his sources, he would have taken issue with the separation when quoting it, or would he?
[Part 2: Wed. 26 Oct.]
- Lloyd de Jongh, "Islam is a DEEN. What does that mean"? Lloyd de Jongh, YouTube, 3 March 2022 https://youtu.be/2CaH2LJWk8U?list=PL_jc4ocGMeQnWQnopfyXzWgbGB19AWuwt; and "Lloyd#14: Islam is a Political Ideology, not just a religion!" PfanderFilms, YouTube, 14 Jul 2022 https://youtu.be/uMWNi9D5i5o