Very rarely do I find myself in disagreement with Robert Spencer. One such occasion was Spencer’s interview with Minnie on the Indian YouTube channel Politically Perfect, on 3 August 2022. The interview centred on the Nupur Sharma controversy and the usual Muslim insanity that follows in the wake of such controversy. In this interview, the focus is on Muslims murdering their Hindu “friends” and stirring up a pogrom against Hindus. Minnie cuts straight to the baffling phenomenon of Muslims turning on lifelong neighbours or those who had for decades assumed that they were friends with Muslims, and murdering them, something that ex-Muslim Islamic apologists scoffingly deny.
This interview is where I find Robert Spencer at his intellectual weakest. I am motivated to commit to paper at this moment in light of the ongoing witch-hunt to which Spencer has been subjected for a while, and which I addressed here, here and here. I admire Spencer’s resilience, scholarly independence and productivity, and look forward to many more years of his brilliant insights. On the question of how to deal with Muslim “friends” and the risk that they might kill you, I think that Spencer falls between two stools: opposing jihad; and not opposing Muslims en bloc. None of the people trying so hard to destroy Spencer’s personal integrity ever offer critique of his intellectual endeavours, because those endeavours do not interest them. Lest some ex-Muslim simpleton gets the idea that I, too, seek to bring down Robert Spencer, let me spell out something elementary: disagreeing with someone on something does not mean disagreeing with them on everything, and most certainly does not mean wanting to see them destroyed. My writing might be robust, but I write, even here, in support of Robert Spencer. So, onto the business at hand.
A clearly perplexed Minnie opens the interview this way:
Since the [Nupur] Sharma controversy happened, nine people have been killed. So it's people who are supporting Nupur, or even something as little as watching her video, and now even [for] supporting the guy who was the first one to be killed. So what are we dealing with, and I have a feeling that our government is kind of clueless …as to how to deal with this, because they were not expecting this. What are we dealing with, sir?
Perplexing it most certainly is, if you depart from the perfectly reasonable premise that when you are friends with someone, that that someone is also friends with you. It is reasonable to assume that whatever friendship entails applies equally both ways, especially affection, support and, most importantly, trust. Trust allows for the opening of the heart, and the sharing of vulnerability. Spencer knows this as well as anybody else, yet he knows something that Minnie does not, hence her turning to him in hope of an answer, and Spencer’s understanding of the doctrinal underpinnings at play here is reliable. At first, Spencer abstracts from the issue by explaining that:
We're dealing with a group of people who believe that the world can be understood in terms of strength and weakness and that that is the primary way to understand it. And so when the Indian government immediately apologised, and when the BJP immediately dismissed Nupur Sharma, the people who were seeing the world in terms of strength and weakness saw weakness, and they are capitalising on that weakness now. Weakness invites aggression and emboldens those who are aggressive, and so these jihadis have seen that the Indian government is weak and they are proceeding accordingly.
Normally, abstraction can be an effective device for getting to the bottom of a complex question, especially a social one. But a keener sense of Minnie’s emotional state at the time might have alerted Spencer that abstraction was not the best way to introduce his response, although it would be very effective later in the discussion, after the nuts and bolts of the issue have been dealt with. Minnie brought him back to the heart of the matter (pun not intended).
So now the guy who was killed yesterday, he was killed by his friends, and that happened actually the last — the second one who was killed actually — all of them have been killed by acquaintances or friends. Some of them have known each other for the last eighteen years. People are having trust issues. Hindus don’t know how to deal with it. They are calling for economic boycott of these Islamic businesses and what not. How do we deal with this? Because this was unexpected. People are scared. (My emphasis).
Spencer’s response, though technically correct, still fails to recognise what he is being asked for: "Well, unfortunately there's no remedy.” This is an extraordinary cop-out for a man who has written The History of Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS, and is rightly proud of this great accomplishment, as well as Did Muhammad Exist? and, recently, The Critical Qur’an, all exemplary works of scholarship. Yet, with all this insight plus a few decades of life behind him, Spencer finds himself at a loss for how to deal with Muslim duplicity and abuse of trust, torn by the false Western dichotomy of “being like them,” versus “not being like them.” He restarts elsewhere, and correctly points out that, doctrinally, there is no such thing as friendship between Muslim and non-Muslim:
There's no way to say, this is how to deal with your friends turning on you, because this is a phenomenon that we've seen throughout history. The loyalty to Islam overrides every other loyalty. It's not Spencer saying that. There are Islamic preachers and scholars who say this. The Qur’an says this repeatedly. Even if your own parents, your own family, are not Islamic, then you should cut them off. In chapter 60 verse 4 of the Qur’an, Abraham tells his father, who is an unbeliever, that there will be hostility and hatred between you and me forever. It doesn't matter that he's his father. It matters that he's not a Muslim.
So what does all this mean, when you are staring the Muslim would-be murderer in the face, as the Hindus in India now are? Robert Spencer is never going to engage in a gunfight with those performing the greatest of all possible deeds, jihad. So his unquestionably impressive oeuvre has to come into play somewhere else, if its meaning is to extend beyond simply supporting arguments in a battle of ideas. Spencer even recognises that, “There's no Muslim [who] doesn’t believe in jihad. Jihad is intrinsic to Islam. It's basic. You have to believe in jihad.” (My emphases). Killing and being killed in the cause of Allah is the greatest of all possible deeds, hence the greatest form of jihad. But it is only one form, and it is not given to each and every Muslims to reach this level of religious accomplishment. The most-merciful Allah wills that circumstance and temperament not be impediments to jihad. My colleague, Dr Mordechai Kedar, offers a kaleidoscope of jihad (in the context of Israel). It is worth quoting in full:
Now we need to understand what Jihad is. In Israel, we perceive Jihad as the Islamic war on unbelievers [kufaar, infidels, non-Muslims, AP], in this case, against Jews. This is true, but it's only a small part of the issue. It [Jihad] is a holistic, general term that includes many aspects of the battle of Islam against the non-Muslim so that Allah wins and the unbelievers lose. Jihad has a military aspect to it, called "Al-Jihad Bisseif", "the sword-led Jihad", which is a war intended to take over the world and bring Islam to rule.
However, Jihad also has other aspects. For instance, there is an argument in Islamic literature on whether a person who gives water to a Jihad warrior has contributed to a quarter or a third of Jihad. There is no doubt, however, that the person contributed to Jihad in some way. And if they gave the Mujahid [a Jihad terrorist, AP] a horse in order to get to their Jihad duties faster and more efficiently, it's unclear whether the person contributed to a third or a half of Jihad. In all cases, a logistics contribution of an outsider is accepted as part of Jihad as well. Giving publicity and advertising to Jihad is considered Jihad as well. Donating money to Jihad, as Qatar donated to Hamas, [and as any Muslim who gives zakat, AP,] also takes part in Jihad.
In other words, not only Mujahideen are part of Jihad, but also those around them, those who make the rockets, those who feed those who make the rockets, those who give money to those who feed those who make the rockets; this whole support system is part of Jihad. Those who spread support for Jihad online are also part of Jihad. There is media Jihad, financial Jihad, and those who can't do anything for the Jihad because they don't have anything to give, can pray for Jihad and the Mujahideen, and this prayer contribution is considered the prayer Jihad.
So we have the military Jihad, the financial Jihad, we have the media Jihad, we have the prayer Jihad, and if a woman brings boys into the world so that they can eventually become Jihad warriors, it is also considered Jihad. Every man and woman who wants to take part in the great Islamic nation can take part in the Jihad. Write on Twitter, write posts on Facebook, put a picture on Instagram, upload a video on YouTube, and you're part of Jihad, even if you live in Vancouver, Canada, or Melbourne, Australia.
You can be part of this cause, and it is amazing. Everybody can join in, and we clearly see many people joining. Jihad is not only what Hamas does. Hamas is only the tip of the sword that pokes Israel, while the supporters are those that support it, lead it and direct it, especially if they live in Lod, Ramle, Haifa, Jerusalem, the Negev, and they help support the shaking of Israel's existence. They are all part of Jihad. If they burn a Jewish car, if they help terrorise Jews, if they burn a Jewish business, if they break a window that belongs to a Jew, if they burn an apartment owned by a Jew, and especially if they wound or kill a Jew, they contribute to scaring the Jews, which is a part of Jihad that's dedicated to eradicating the Jewish state that has no right to exist, according to them.”
This point Spencer well makes: “There are groups …that are trying to advance the jihad ...by non-violent means.” Since there’s no Muslim who doesn’t believe in jihad, and it is not given to every Muslim to advance jihad by violent means, every non-violent Muslim can be relied on to advance jihad by non-violent means. Muslims lulling the kufaar into believing that they have befriended them is one such non-violent means.
Spencer also well knows that Muslims are accomplished liars and exemplary deceivers. Yet all he can advice Hindus who are turning to him for guidance in their time of need is, “Be careful and be aware that people that you might have thought were trustworthy, are not.” I am sorry, but apart from the fact that Hindus have just learnt this brutal fact at the cost of nine lives, serious threats of more of the same and a major crisis of trust, this is simultaneously both a meaningless and an irresponsible piece of advice.
At what point in their lives do Muslims start learning that it is obligatory on them to lie to and deceive the kufaar? In madrassa, around the age of six. At what point in their lives do people start making friends? Around the age of six. Right from the outset, there is nothing for a Muslim to unlearn: friendship with a kafir is deception.
To everybody else, friendship is a beautiful thing. Parents encourage their children to have friends, to have sleepovers at one another’s houses, to go on school trips, outings and summer camps together. They learn ethical values like, "play nicely together", “that’s no way to treat your friend,” and so forth. They have best friends with whom they share their innermost secrets. Friendship is a collection of very special social skills and mutual emotional buttresses developed as part of becoming who we are. By what point in their lives, exactly, are non-Muslims supposed to have built up the requisite "native human wit" to detect the untrustworthiness beneath a Muslim’s “friendship,” let alone acquired such a depth of knowledge as to unmask the average lay Muslim, not to mention the trained da'i? And here we are not yet even talking about the strength of character needed to withstand 1400 years of finely-honed propaganda and manipulation.
It is truly lame to immediately after issuing this advice to, in the same breath, qualify it with, “Now here again, this is not to say that no Muslim is trustworthy and that in some individual case you can't be sure that your friend is not going to turn on you.” Do Hindus really need to hear this seemingly-obligatory caveat when Muslims have just murdered nine of their number and people are scared? Why would Robert Spencer offer Hindus a way of protecting themselves against Muslims, and then immediately compromise that protection? “It's just that this is a time,” Spencer helpfully explains, “When people you might not have expected are going to be acting in a jihadi manner are going to be taking up the jihad.” No, sorry, the way to say this is, “When people you might not have expected are going to harm you are going to kill you.” "Acting in a jihad manner" and "taking up the jihad" are both, of course, true, but they also sanitise the killers and sedate the victims. The Hindus are talking specifically about Muslim friends killing them, not about the abstract notion of taking up the jihad. To sidetrack potential victims in this way when they are desperate to stop the killing and to save themselves is irresponsible.
Is there anyone on earth apart from Muslims, with whom striking up and maintaining something as natural and inoffensive as a friendship goes hand-in-hand with such extraordinary caution and risk-taking? Sure, between Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler, between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. But what kind of friendship is it when you have to watch you back all the time? Friendship as pathology is the stuff of totalitarian nightmares. It is unlikely that this is Spencer’s intention, but he is, effectively, expecting of Hindus that they become Winston Smith in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: FRIENDSHIP IS GROOMING.
- See, for example, Maryam Namazie, Abdullah Sameer and Harris Sultan.
- In thinking about India and Israel, it occurred to me recently that India might have significantly lessened her jihad problem at Independence, had she become a democratic Hindu state, rather than a democratic secular one. Where Islam (or Communism or Nazism) is present in the society, a secular state signs its own death warrant. A Hindu or a Jewish state is inherently antithetical to Islam, and so much more ready to stand up to and move against it. I need to work some more on this idea. Of course, this does not mean that the Hindu or Jewish population in such a state cannot be so demoralised as to sign their own state’s death warrant, but Islam will have a steeper hill to climb, which will buy the state, and the non-Muslims, more time.