The war of ideas and civilizational superiority

October 1, 2006 at 7:55 am (Arabic, Culture, History, International community, Islam, Islamism, Personal, The Rest, The United States, The West, War)

(Disclaimer: Caution! This is a controversial and long post. Perhaps more controversial (at least I think so) than normal. Please proceed forward with caution. Comments are welcome; please keep them civil.)

Two people I admire very much (Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and Oriana Fallaci)—joined with many others I also admire—have made our engagement with Islamism clear: it is not only a war with bullets but also a war of wills and of civilizations (so to speak). If we focus only on the military aspect, we still might loose. We need to focus on all aspects of this war.

Islamists characterize The West’s response to the Islamist assault as a resumption of the Crusades. This is a revealing comment because the Crusades were launch as a response to Islamist jihad against Christian lands. Therefore, if we are engaging in a new Crusade, they must be waging a new jihad against us. But some of them see no “new” in this situation: it’s a continuation, rather than resumption or renewal, of the typical contact and engagement between The West and Islam. As such, we need to recognize that their jihad against us is not seen as a new movement or program but one that has continued since the birth of Islam. It may seem to have ended and then resumed due to the abolishment of the Caliphate or (before even that) Europe’s effective check on Ottoman expansion (and, therefore, the Caliphate’s expansion). But the Initial Jihad may be said to be continuing, and it may also be said that this is how Islamists view their actions.

Part of this jihad deals with Islamist propaganda. This is a part of the da‛wah ilā-l-islām (دعوة إلى الإسلام, inviting people to Islam) and tablīgh al-islām (تبليغ الإسلام, propagation or promotion of Islam) aspects of jihad, attempts to conquer minds and hearts to effectuate not only surrender to the Islamic polity or the supremacy of the Islamic political system but also to secure our submission to Islam itself. Although often seen in the context of trying to convert people to Islam (or, as it is said more technically, inviting people to Islam), we should not divorce these proselytizing efforts from efforts to defend Islam, promote Islam, make Islam look good, secure popular respect and approval for Islam, and establishing and defending Islam’s superiority. If we don’t convert but we concede to Islamist demands for special considerations, they would have won; they would have been successful. But, remember that propaganda is propaganda: it never displays the entire picture. In some cases, it may make spurious claims or perpetuate falsehoods.

Unfortunately, we have made the Islamists’ work easier: we don’t have pride in our civilization, we do not defend our civilization, and we too easily concede to the duplicitous remarks by peoples of other civilizations. We don’t challenge other civilizations as they challenge ours.

Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and Oriana Fallaci have warned us that if we don’t begin to engage ourselves with learning about and appreciating our civilization and its history, we stand in danger of loosing the propaganda war: we stand to loose hearts and minds, our own hearts and minds.

Pride is a flaw. We should not believe our civilization is perfect or infallible. (But then, no civilization is perfect or infallible, the Islamist civilization included.) But we must be confident in our civilization: confident in its strength, confident in its history (spotty as it is), confident in its superiority to all other alternatives, confident in what we get from it, confident in what it offers others, and confident in the fact that it will prevail over all others. The last point will only come about if we remain faithful to our civilization; that is, it will happen if we don’t whore ourselves out to foreign and barbaric civilizations or systems, if we don’t commit civilizational adultery and go after strange and abusive men, no matter how seductive their words and appearances may be. It has always been the case that when we have nourished our civilization, our civilization has nourished us and vaunted us to the very top of the world.

In one sense, I miss the days of imperialism, the time when The West was confident in itself. It studied about other civilizations and peoples, but it never forgot its superiority. After all, it was The West that lorded over other civilizations, and not the other way around. What has changed that we should permit others to push us around? Why do the others crave to become a part of us of our civilization is not truly the best? History has demonstrated our superiority in ways that simply cannot be denied. I find it sad that obviously inferior civilizations have such false pride in their civilizations while we are so apologetic of ours, while we refuse to be confident in our civilization.

Remember: our civilization is one of ideas, ideals, values, and standards. Our civilization is not confined to an ethnicity or religion or economic ideology (our civilization works best with capitalism, but there are successful democratic socialist states in our civilization as well). Our civilization is open to all who is willing to embrace it.

I, for one, simply refuse and condemn any attempt to adulterate our civilization’s realms by kowtowing or conceding to other civilizations. Other civilizations have their realms; those who like it can go and stay there. Why should foreigners come to our home and demand that we then conform to their thoughts and ways? If their thoughts and ways were so grand, why did they abandon their home?

An elder of our family made an excellent point the other night. “We are not refugees,” he said of people of Pakistani origin living in The West. “We are immigrants.” I can understand a refugee clinging to one’s ways. The refugee had little choice in his/her dislocation/relocation. Indeed, refugees desire to return to where they came from. But an immigrant has chosen to move. When one moves, one must adopt (if not adapt to) one’s host’s ways. Immigrants aren’t forced to live in The West. If they don’t like our ways, they should go back to where they came from, back to whose ways they do like. Otherwise, they should accept our ways, as many millions have before them, or keep silent. They should not abuse the hospitality we show them. And let me assert that we have no obligation to take in anyone. That we accept so many who come to our realms is a demonstration of our generosity, charity, open-heartedness, and open-mindedness. For guests to take advantage of their hosts is reprehensible indeed.

Back to the Islamists: There is more than one way to wage jihad against jāhiliyyah (جاهلية, “ignorance,” referring to those areas that have yet to be “enlightened” by the “light” of Islam either as a religion or political system). We should not expect only attacks from bombs or bullets or missiles. Or planes. We must anticipate and prepare to deal with attacks with words, duplicitous arguments, undermining demands. We should not dignify these Islamists by responding to them. Well, some should respond to them on behalf of our civilization, but we really have no need to. We won’t convince them: any response is simply so that we are on record as disagreeing and why and how we do so. We do need to explain to those of our civilization what the Islamists are saying, what they really mean, what they intend, and how they are wrong. We need to take care of our own, and we need to assure them that their confidence in our civilization should not be shaken because of the claims or arguments of some duplicitous warrior using propaganda to achieve a victory for his/her larger war on our civilization.

Controversial? You betcha. If you don’t agree, try to convince me otherwise.

(Note: If someone wishes to clarify the above, in support of what I have written or to correct what I have written, using the words of Dr. Victor Davis Hanson and/or Oriana Fallaci and/or Jeff Goldstein, I would appreciate it very much. Please be aware that I do not expect either of the three just named to agree with what I have written.)



  1. Michael said,


    Not to me.

  2. Zia Sheikh said,

    I can’t help laughing at these kinds of comments.
    If what you say is true, Muslims seem to be winning “the jihad of words”.
    We have had 21 conversions to Islam in the last 3 months at our mosque.

    It doesn’t matter how much negative propaganda is put out there. The truth stands out from falsehood. Get to know about Islam. Read the ENTIRE Quran, without cherry-picking verses. Visit your local mosque. Get to know Muslims in your area.

    You will be surprised that most of what you read on websites like this is pure propaganda,

  3. Vinnie said,

    Why don’t you read his “about” page, o mighty Sheik.

    Why don’t you promote reading the Sunnah and the Hadith as well as the Koran? Hm?

  4. AST said,

    I think that the West, after the Enlightenment and the Reformation, has entered the Unenlightenment. Our media and “intellectual” elites hate America and what has made it powerful and prosperous. Groups like the ACLU have set the agenda for the left, with its notions about the tyranny of the majority and weakening democratic government in favor of rule by appointed judges.

    This is all warmed over anarchism and Marxism. The people controlling the Democratic Party are not pacifists. If they were they wouldn’t preach hatred like they do and oppose ridding the world of Saddam Hussein, a true warmonger and terrorizer of his own people.

    If we want to defeat terrorism, we should stop importing Muslims to make up for our failure to reproduce, and start producing energy at home. As long as the world pours money into these countries into the control of autocrats, we are providing the funding to kill ourselves.

    I don’t think that we will lose to Islam, but when will we realize that it’s a real threat and start fighting back. It took 1000 years to stop its spread before, but so far, we’re acting like all we need to do is prove our good will.

    This confrontation reminds me of the scene from “Independence Day” where the president asks the alien captive what they want us to do and the alien says, “Die.” They’re serious. We’re not.

  5. Major John said,

    Zia Sheikh – If Islam was so confident, it would not react so defensively whenever questioned. And I am quite sure there would not be a death penalty for conversion AWAY from Islam either.
    You just keep whistling past the graveyard if that makes you feel better…

  6. Zia Sheikh said,

    I don’t think there’s anything defensive about my posting above. A valid question is When a Muslim does something wrong, why is the religion to blame, but when someone else does something, religion is not an issue?
    And I don’t have any problem with people criticizing, but with valid fair criticisms.
    But what I do have a problem with is Muslims being painted with a broad brush of the following:
    1. Terrorists
    2. Wife-beaters
    3. Megalomaniacs about to take over the world
    4. Christian and Jew haters

    I am a practicing Muslim, and I am not a terrorist (nor in any kind of sleeper cell), I don’t beat my wife, I have no intention of taking over the world, and I certainly don’t hate Jews and Christians.
    This applies to ALL the Muslims that I know.
    I get SO frustrated by comments like, “Well, maybe not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists certainly are Muslims.” Did you ever hear about Basque separatists, Tamil Tigers, FARQ etc etc.
    Click here for more information on Islam not being a Muslim Monopoly.
    Now the question is that I want you to ask yourself is:
    “How many Muslims do YOU know PERSONALLY?” If you don’t know any, you will likely believe all the stuff you read on these right-wing neo-con websites.
    So be positive, and do your OWN due diligence.
    Don’t be like a robot following everything you hear and read.

  7. Scott said,

    “I think that the West, after the Enlightenment and the Reformation, has entered the Unenlightenment.”

    I generally agree – when there are fresh new fields to explore, talking heads tend to have a healthier and more optimistic attitude, whereas later once the most obvious discoveries and inventions have been made, there is nothing left for the would-be intellectual but to find something to tear apart; so I would instead term this the Age of Deconstruction.

    As for attitudes on muslims – I’m mostly like others who believe the majority of muslims are fence sitters who could go either way, however I don’t see it as exactly neutral; if nothing else, your everyday muslim does share the same faith as the muslim terrorists who have managed to capture our attention since 9/11, and therefore it stands to reason that muslim terrorists will less of an uphill battle to win the hearts and minds of the muslim majority than will say a western leader (or other non-muslim). This is just a fact, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know it.

    Sheik, I read an interesting article recently by Robert Spencer discussing the concept of abrogation in Islam, specifically do later sura replace earlier ones or are all equally valid to the average muslim? Spencer made a pretty compelling case for later ones having precedence esp where there are conflicts (the ones on wine consumption were one example) – being a muslim yourself do you agree with that statement or is it wrong?

  8. Major John said,

    I, PERSONALLY, know dozens of Muslims – and many have done more to fight terrorists than I ever have.
    You are setting up strawmen with your examples, and I don’t think Muslihoon, or I for that matter, are going to defend them. [Heck, I might even suggest that you include the IRA in your list – wouldn’t want to leave out the Roman Catholics…right?] If anyone is painting with a broad brush, it might just be you. In future, portraying the people you disagree with as ignorant and blind followers of shallow propaganda won’t persuade many to listen to your suggestions or your points.
    Perhaps making sure that people know that; honor killings are culturally, not religiously motived, people rioting and rampaging over editorial cartoons are venting steam in a repressive political enviornment, not expressing a religious postion, and that women have few rights in Muslim majority countries because of their lack of development and stunted political growth, rather than Koranic proscriptions – all that might be better than hurling insults.

  9. Michael said,

    “How many Muslims do YOU know PERSONALLY?”

    The problem, Zia, is that guys like you don’t count. You are an anomoly. Nobody thinks that educated, assimilated and westernized muslims in the U.S. are an issue. The problam is with all of your coreligionists living in feudal societies from the Middle East to the slums of Paris.

    I heartily agree with your observation that Muslims have no monopoly on terrorism, and sometimes the religion is unfairly blamed for violence that should be attributed to ethnic rivalries. Nobody is blaming the Serbian Orthodox Church for the depradations of the Serbs against Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, to cite another example

  10. Iblis said,

    The problem Shiek, as Thomas More so quaintly put, is that silence is tacit agreement.
    If you and all the muslims you know oppose violence and do not hate non-muslims, then why are you not speaking out when those Muslims who do hate Christians and Jews speak in your name? The silence of “moderate” muslims is deafening.

    I do know many muslims, and while some don’t hate Christians, all of them do hate Jews.

  11. C.Kuennen said,


    I must agree with the above post. I know my Muslim friends and colleagues are not out to kill me. I believe they would convert me if I wished to do so, but then so would my LDS friends.

    No, my fear is that given an increasing Muslim presence in Europe is that, someday peaceful rational persons like yourself will not object when the jihadis attempt gain the upper hand politically, religiously, and culturally; and with that the Muslims who do believe that the People of the Book should be subjected to Dhimmitude will have their wish.

    I feel it would be hard for someone who is moderate now to stand and argue against what your prophet so clearly commanded.

    I liken it to my socialist friends, I like and enjoy them, but I know their sympathies would lie with any socialist regime that might like to overthrow our current national system, and replace it with socialism. Ultimately I feel Islam as an ideology is not compatible with western freedoms.

    -Chris Kuennen

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