Let us return, dear reader, to Robert Spencer's initial response to the question: "Since the [Nupur] Sharma controversy happened, nine people have been killed. ...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?"
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.
Of course, this is true, as I said in Part 1, and also suggested that it would be more effective if introduced later in the interview. But that would depend on whether Spencer's bearing in the interview was really towards this point. Of course, the interviewer can take the discussion in any direction, but the topic is clear at the outset and the interviewer is not going to deviate from that, especially as it a matter of life and death for a particular group of people of which the interviewer is one. Unfortunately, Spencer did not head towards "people who believe that the world can be understood in terms of strength and weakness," rather, exactly the opposite.
Consider the following exchanges (I’ll quote as briefly as possible):
Spencer: [If] somebody is not supporting the jihadis, then that's all to the good. There’s no reason why they should be penalised.
Minnie: Umm, makes sense, …but when we ask some of our Muslim friends, when we quote the Qur’an, they say, ‘oh you're not understanding it. Actually it is all about peace and when they talk about killing, it's about killing animals, not people. I have actually heard people say that and they also say that Allah will not even accept our namaz [prayers], if you're we are not nice to our neighbours.
Spencer: Well, I'll tell you the Qur’an says very simply, chapter 48 verse 29, Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. Those who follow him are ruthless to unbelievers, merciful to one another…
Robert Spencer understands, as do other critics of Islam, such as Mordechai Kedar, 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.” In other words, being Muslim and holding to jihad are inextricably bound together. This being so, it becomes very difficult to make sense of the assertion, "If somebody is not supporting the jihadis, then that's all to the good." How does one believe in jihad and not support the "jihadis," when jihad means warfare against non-Muslims, rather than simply believing in warfare against non-Muslims. As is clear from Kedar's summary, "believing in" jihad equals supporting jihad.
More importantly, though, there are no "jihadis" in Islam. "Jihadis" is a made-up word designed to shield "Muslims we can get along with" from Muslims who kill and are killed in the cause of Allah, who can be a little tricky to get along with. Of course, Muslims already have special terms for such people: "mujahideen", "shuhada", etc. The neologism "jihadi" immediately contradicts, “There's no Muslim who doesn’t believe in jihad," for who, then, is not a jihadi, except a Muslim who does not believe in jihad. This presents "jihadi" as the exception, and Muslims who do not believe in jihad the rule. The real, practical implications of such equivocation for Minnie and her fellow Hindus is that it makes them all more vulnerable.
Furthermore, Spencer fails to realise that Minnie is not talking about who is correct and who is wrong in what the Qur’an says or doesn’t say. “When we quote the Qur’an,” is about the events that occur at that point. She is probably already familiar with 48:29. Minnie’s crisis, and that of her fellow Hindus, is that they suddenly perceive their Muslim friends in a new, disorienting and disturbing light, not that there is some disagreement over what the Qur'an says. This is about Hindus freaking out, yet Spencer responds with a lengthy digression into Indian Muslims not having Arabic as their native tongue, and how this contributes towards their ignorance of Islam. All that this extraneous explanation does is to dilute the seriousness of what Muslims are doing to Hindus on the ground right now.
Spencer: Here again, you have to be alert and aware and careful and try to discern with native human wit, whether [this] one [Muslim] is to be trusted or not, and that's the same in any circumstance, whether you're dealing with people who are Muslim or not Muslim. It's always a good thing to do.
The ever-respectful Minnie was becoming frustrated with getting nowhere. She tried again:
Minnie: Sir, this has never been a question in my mind before, but now we are having trust issues because this guy who was killed— the guy who killed him, he was there. They were friends for sixteen years and the Hindu guy who was killed actually helped the Muslim guy monetarily as well, and [in] other ways, too. So how do you stay more alert than that? You're just letting your friend in your house.
Spencer: Yeah well, there's no way to tell in a situation like that. Sixteen years. It's very extreme. There's no way to know.
This is disappointing. The author of The History of Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS, who showed that the number of Hindus in India so overwhelmed the Muslim capacity for killing that they were forced to change their killing rules and resort to dhimmitude for Hindus, finds sixteen years of Muslim fake friendship "very extreme." Hindus who know their history will have a pretty good measure of what "very extreme" is, when it comes to Muslims. In The History of Jihad, for example, they will have read:
There were simply too may people in India for them all to be converted to Islam or killed. Consequently, an adjustment had to be made, and Muhammad bin Qasim ultimately granted the Hindus the status of the People of the Book, accepting their submission and payment of the jizya, with the ultimate objective remaining to bring all these people into the fold of Islam.
When it comes down to snuffing out the danger right next to you, “There’s no way to know,” advises Spencer. Err on the side recklessness, advises Spencer, not on the side of caution. In other words, take meticulous care never to falsely accuse a Muslim, rather than keep well away from all Muslims. M. A. Khan, in his masterpiece on jihad in India, writes:
In light of the evidence presented above, the question should not be about how some 80 percent of the Indians remained non-Muslims after so many centuries of Muslim rule. Instead, it should be asked, why and how as many as 20 percent of the Indians became Muslim despite their defiant resistance against Islam. How could the Muslim population swell when Hindus found Islam so repugnant, as attested by the records of many Muslim chroniclers and rulers?
To answer this question, Khan quotes Muslim chronicler Al-Beruni:
(Sultan) Mahmud utterly ruined the prosperity of the country and performed there wonderful exploits, by which the Hindus became like atoms of dust scattered in all direction… This is the reason, too, why Hindu sciences have retired far away from those parts of the country conquered by us, and have fled to places which our hands cannot yet reach, to Kashmir, Benaras, and other places.’ (My emphasis)
A strong hint at the answer is also to be found in The History of Jihad:
Muhammad ibn Tughlaq “led forth his army to ravage Hindostan. He laid the country waste from Kanauj to Dalmau [on the Ganges, in the Rai Baréli District, Oudh], and every person that fell into his hands he slew. Many of the inhabitants fled and took refuge in the jungles, but the Sultan had the jungles surrounded, and every individual that was captured was killed.” (My emphasis)
In short, Hindus and Hinduism survive in India today because when Muslims invaded, occupied the country and set about their genocide, the Hindus boycotted their Muslim killers by fleeing to where they were out of reach of the Muslims. Provided Hindus place themselves where "Muslim hands cannot reach," boycott saves lives; the proof lies in works such as The History of Jihad. That the "innocent" Muslim barber might go out of business is just tough, but Hindus did not create Muslims and certainly did not teach them jihad. Besides, it is not unlawful to save yourself from a Muslim unless, of course, you are a dhimmi. There are other life-saving strategies that can be employed, but if these are not feasible under the circumstances, then the only way to save your life is to get away from Muslims and keep away from them.
Even after recounting the Tsarnaev brothers' horrific bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon, Spencer still insisted:
You can't just say you can't trust everyone. It would be a terrible way to live, for one thing, and you have to go on every individual basis and try to determine as well as you can and that is usually an indicator [of] how serious and devout a person is in his observance of Islam.
It would be a terrible way to live. It is a terrible way to live. It is the only way people live in police states and under totalitarianism, including Islam. They have to live that way, else they die. Of course, if the Indian government were not clueless, it would get and keep the Muslims away from everyone else, so everyone else may freely get on with their lives.
It seems this is the hardest thing to grasp for people who have only ever known freedom. But worse, "you have to go on every individual basis." Will the Muslims form an orderly line and each wait their turn to be "determined" in the middle of a killing spree? "Try to determine as well as you can..." Just because the Muslims are killing Hindus all around you, it would be terrible to be overhasty in determining whether a particular Muslim is or is not out to kill you. "That is usually an indicator [of] how serious and devout a person is in his observance of Islam." Spencer, additionally, places the onus on the potential victim to not only be an expert in Sharia, but to know what goes on between every single Muslim they encounter and that Muslim's god.
All of this flies directly in the face of "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." Every single single suggestion that Spencer has put forward so far advocates weakness. The Hindu's first concern, before all else, must be for the Muslims, even at risk to their own lives. "Weakness invites aggression and emboldens those who are aggressive," who then "proceed accordingly." Where does it leave the Hindus when Muslims are coming for their necks and the author of The History of Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS is advising them to show weakness?
Minnie describes the Indian government as “clueless,” but Spencer, despite appearing to do so, offers no clues himself, and again, deflects to his main concern: making sure Hindus don't take the killing spree so seriously that they'll actually do something effective about it. And of course, whatever is to be effective will necessarily be at the expense of Muslims, since they are doing the killing.
What the authorities should be doing is absolutely tolerating none of it, and you say Islamist businesses. I'm not sure what you mean by that. Are you talking about businesses that actively support attacks on people who support Nupur Sharma, or just any Muslim businesses …like if it's a barber that's a Muslim? In terms of some general boycott, I don't endorse that. That would be the same thing that the jihadis are doing in attacking random people for supporting Nupur Sharma.
Spencer is unable to help the Hindus because he cannot escape the Western paradigm of seeing all people as autonomous individuals who basically have control over their own actions. They act according to what they believe at any given point in time and can change their beliefs whenever they choose. Societies change by people taking up ideas and the state eventually having to reflect those ideas. People act voluntarily. It eludes Spencer that people who grew up in an Islamic milieu, or under any kind of totalitarianism, for that matter, are a fundamentally different kind of people to people who have grown up under freedom.
Totalitarianism creates a very different kind of being to what freedom does. Thirty years after "the fall of Communism," the hardwiring of people's thinking and responses can still be seen all over the former Soviet bloc. The people may be legally free, but essentially, they remain on their guard in their relations with authority. They neither think, nor behave like free people, but rather like people who cannot apprehend that the cage is no longer there. The extent of this unfreedom of the mind varies from country to country and individual to individual, but it is there. Ultimately, this is the reason Poland is so ripe for a Catholic fascist resurgence. If Muslims have gravitated towards one small street in a large Western city, they create a nano totalitarian state within that street, and within that street, every single law of the land that can be floated is floated, especially where such laws clash with Islam.
Spencer's failure to take account of a Muslim being the product of totalitarianism comes through in his proposed solution to the problem of "coexisting with Muslims."
So how do you coexist with that [Muslims who strictly adhere to the Qur'an]? ...But obviously, there are other Muslims who don't take these verses as being applicable for our own day and don't behave in this way. So the problem is that the governments of the world, they don't want to limit the freedom of religion, and they don't understand that Islam is political as well as religious and that it is expansionist, violent and aggressive in its political aspects.
Spencer's advice to Hindus and to the Indian government, rests on the conception of Islam as, "political as well as religious and that it is expansionist, violent and aggressive in its political aspects," which still means that Islam is merely a very weird religion, rather than a full-blown totalitarian system. The operative distinction, for Spencer, remains between those who strictly observe the weirdness and those who, "don't take these verses as being applicable for our own day and don't behave in this way." The totalitarian nature of Islam is absent from Spencer's conception. He further describes Islam as:
An extremely simple idea and easy to understand, and it's also an idea that's very advantageous, particularly to males and appealing to them on that basis. It creates a community that is very cohesive within itself and inculcates a strong sense of loyalty and people also find that attractive. So it's a formidable thing to be sure, but also a dangerous one, because it blesses and sanctifies violence and brutality in ways that we have already discussed, and many more.
At this point, the jury is still very much out on how Islam originated, and this is not the place for that discussion. Yet one has to wonder why "an extremely simple idea ...easy to understand, and ...very advantageous," should also be one that "blesses and sanctifies violence and brutality." Instead of keeping these together, examining their mutual interrelation and seeing that Islam amounts to a perversion of humanity, Spencer views these two sides discretely and chooses to focus only on the side that sits most comfortably with the Western mind.
- Robert Spencer, The History of Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS, Bombardier Books, Kindle edition, p81.
- M. A. Khan, Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism and Slavery, Felibri.com, 2011, p73.
- Robert Spencer, p199.