Islam and Terror

    March Passover 2002 Edition            
Search the Jewish Magazine Site: Google
Islam and Terrorism


Search our Archives:

» Home
» History
» Holidays
» Humor
» Places
» Thought
» Opinion & Society
» Writings
» Customs
» Misc.


Bernard Lewis on Islam

By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

The war against international terrorism is a euphemism for a confused clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. American (as well as Israeli) politicians will not tell the truth about Islam. They do not want to arouse unruly passions along with the slur of racism. Perhaps for similar reasons, Daniel Pipes and Yossef Bodansky speak of “Islamists” (or Islamic fundamentalists”) as if such appellations do not describe what Bernard Lewis calls “classical” Islam.

Although Lewis, the world’s leading historian of Islam, cautiously understates Islam’s inherent and dangerous fanaticism, one may nonetheless discern Islam’s true nature by a close reading of his book The Multiple Identities of the Middle East (1999).

Lewis sees that Islam’s Prophet, like no other, founded a political religion, that he ruled a state, that he waged war and peace. But this indicates that POWER was an essential ingredient of Islam from its very inception. Although Islam is widely known as an expansionist and totalitarian creed, Lewis reveals the moral basis for this phenomenon in the Qur’an, which he clarifies as follows:  

“The distinctive quality of Islam is most vividly illustrated in the injunction which occurs not once but several times in the Qur’an … by which Muslims are instructed as to their basic duty, which is ‘to command good and forbid evil’—not just to do good and avoid evil, a personal duty imposed by all religions, but to command good and forbid evil, that is to say, exercise authority to that end.” This explains why the Islamic state “became an empire in which Muslims conquered and subjugated non-Muslims.”

Muslims are commanded to destroy evil whenever they have the means of doing so. THIS, MORE THAN ENVY OR REVENGE, ANIMATED THOSE WHO PLANNED AND EXECUTED THE BOMBING OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER AND THE PENTAGON! That this barbarous act was cheered by Muslims throughout the world while Muslim clerics remained silent speaks not only of Islamic ruthlessness, but of Islamic doctrine. Muslims saw this bombing as a victory of good over evil, of true believers over infidels. They exalted the suicide bombers as doing the will of Allah, for as Lewis remarks, “Martyrdom, in the Muslim definition, means death in battle in a holy war for the faith.”

Before continuing, it should be noted that the clerics of some 56 Muslim countries fear western corruption of the Islamic world. American pop culture and Internet lure Muslim youth away from the Islamic faith. This enrages even western-educated Muslims. They deplore Saudi and Egyptian rulers for allowing American forces on the holy land of Islam. True to pan-Islamic teaching, Muslim clerics regard nationalism or the nation state as a heresy. This is why terrorists from dozens of Muslim and Arab countries united in evicting U.S. and UN forces from Somalia in 1993.

Lewis explains: “For many Islam has AGAIN become the primary criterion of distinction between brother and stranger” (my emphasis). This explains why Muslims, who hate Saddam Hussein for his hypocritical faith and nationalist ambitions, hate America even more for bombing Iraq and its Muslim population. “In the age of nationality and nationalism, an Iraqi or Egyptian Muslim sees an Iraqi and Egyptian Christian as a compatriot, sharing the same homeland and the same long and glorious history. In the perspective of Islam [however,] Christian compatriots and his heathen ancestors are both alien to him, and the only true identity and therefore the only true brotherhood is that of the community of believers.”

Lewis admits that this idea is not new. “It is fundamental in classical Islamic legal and political doctrine, and has often been reasserted in the twentieth century against what are seen as the disruptive heresies of the nationalists.” Lewis fails to emphasize, however, that virtually every Islamic/Arab nation-state is a tyranny steeped in corruption, that “Islamism” unites, or aspires to unite, the Muslim masses against their hone-grown oppressors; and insofar as the West supports their oppressors, the jihad against the West is all the more justifiable.

Muslims take what they see as evil seriously, so much so that they will slaughter the innocent to rid the world of “evil-doers.” And now that they can obtain weapons of mass destruction, Muslims see the possibility of making the entire world Dar al-Islam!

According to Lewis—and he was writing before September 11—the current wave of Islamic militancy, “one of many in Islamic history, has not yet crested, and it may well engulf more Muslim countries before its force is spent.” The question is: Will “Islamic militancy” be magnified or minimized by the U.S.-led coalition against international terrorism, when this coalition includes despotic Islamic/Arab states like Pakistan, Sudan, and Syria—all hotbeds of terrorism?

Of course such a coalition confuses the clash of civilizations. It clearly reveals, however, in the fiery light of Islamic militancy, the moral shortcomings of both Islam and the West. But this is not a topic for contemporary historians.

More articles are available via
Audio is available via


from the March Passover 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Please let us know if you see something unsavory on the Google Ads and we will have them removed. Email us with the offensive URL (