Who is Gagging Islam’s Liberals?

This is an excerpt (without footnotes) from The Muhammad Code: How a Desert Prophet Brought You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram by Howard Bloom (Feral House, 2016). Reprinted by permission from the author.

Who is Gagging Islam’s Liberals?

Re: the term “moderate Islam”—“These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

“We cannot accept insults to Islam under the guise of freedom of thought.”
—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

It’s little wonder, then, that until the Egyptian Movement for Change’s Kefaya (Enough) street demonstrations in 14 Egyptian cities from 2004 to 2006, Iran’s Green Movement of 2009, and the Arab Spring of 2011, Islam had never developed an equivalent to the West’s protest, free speech, peace, and human rights movements. Islam had never developed a permanent protest industry. And Islam had seldom, if ever, fought for the rights of others to lead their own way of life. The pluralist, tolerant, modern Muslims who rose up in the Arab Spring helped topple tyrants. But they were crushed by new tyrannies—the military dictatorship in Egypt, the violent crackdown in Iran, the civil war in Syria, and the treacherous chaos in Libya.

The fact is that there are many Muslims who long for pluralism, tolerance, and democracy. But too many are kept silent by the threat of punishment from those who control the public spaces of Islam. Islam’s “liberals” are silenced by Holy War enthusiasts, by militant nationalists, and by clerics. They are silenced by those who follow in the footsteps of Muhammad. By those who, like Muhammad, believe that the punishment for dissent against Islam is death.

* * *

In Bangladesh, Mohammad Mahbubul Alam is the editor of the Daily Al Ihsan, a self-styled “international Islamic magazine” that on its front page calls for curses and punishment against “those people who reject faith,” including “the Jews and the polytheists” and “Christians of all nations.” Doesn’t sound very pluralist or tolerant, does it? On March 31, 2013, Alam led a delegation of religious leaders that met with “a committee of the Prime Minister’s Office.” The purpose of Alam and his delegation? To present a list of 84 “secular” bloggers and to demand that the Bangladesh government prosecute them.

You have to understand something about the word “secular.” To most Westerners, that’s a positive term. But, if you want to live, do not use it in Pakistan or Bangladesh. In the South Asian Muslim world, the word “secular” means atheist. And atheists are to be killed.

The government ignored the religious leaders’ punishment request. So Pakistan’s pious took over. From 2013 to 2016, twenty of the 84 secular bloggers were assassinated in Bangladesh, including Niloy Neel, whose home was invaded in 2015 by six men with machetes pretending that they wanted to rent a flat. Four of the armed men isolated Neel’s wife in one room while the other two took Neel to his bedroom and hacked him to pieces. What was his crime? According to police, he and the nineteen other secularists “wrote against Islam and mocked Prophet Muhammad.” In other words, Neel’s atheism, secularism, and advocacy of human rights were anti-Islamic. In the words of Imran H. Sarkar, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, Neel “was the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights—especially women’s rights and the rights of indigenous people.” And Neel was just one of the 84 secular bloggers on the hit list—some of whom were hacked apart with knives and meat cleavers on the streets in front of horrified pedestrians.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia in 2015, Ashraf Fayadh, a poet and leader of Saudi Arabia’s budding art scene who had curated an exhibit at the Venice Biennale, was sentenced to death “for renouncing Islam.” So, like the poets who fled from Muhammad’s murderous meme-policing in 624 a.d., Islamic “liberals” have been muzzled for nearly 1,400 years.

In the battle between memes within the Islamic community, liberalism has always lost.

* * *

In the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, a form of Islam flourished in Baghdad, India, and central Asia that opened the door to an alternative, non-militant Islam. It was Sufism, a mystic interpretation of Islam that held on to the notion of jihad as warfare, but that emphasized spiritual jihad, a journey through the inner world. In Baghdad ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani focused on the quest for ecstatic emotions, on summoning those emotions by reciting poetry that praised Muhammad at the top of your lungs, and on practicing kindness and charity. In India, Chistiya Sufism also deemphasized wars of conquest and focused on music, poetry, and the care of the poor. Two hundred years later, the appeal of Chistiya Sufism would help take Islam from a religion that only .2% of Indians believed in to one that was followed by 3.2 million Indians. And many of these Indians were won over by the honey of the Sufi nonviolent form of Islam, not by the vinegar of Islamic terror.

Then came the Muslim Indian Emperor Akbar’s attempt to introduce pluralism to Islam in 1582. Akbar promoted tolerance toward Hindus, Jains, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, and Christians. His pluralist form of Islam was called Din-i Ilahi. Akbar also promoted sulh-i kull, “universal peace.” But he didn’t get very far. Akbar’s movement never attracted “more than 19 adherents.” Yes, that’s right, 19! What’s more, orthodox Muslims opposed his policies as heresy and crushed them when Akbar died in 1605.

And Sufism was not always as peaceful as it’s made out to be in the West. In the 1670s, the Moroccan Sufi Lyusi laced into his local sultan, Ismail, demanding that he rule justly. In the process, he called on the Sultan to wage war in a holy cause as Islam said he should…killing as an “obligation to God and his people.” In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some Sufi leaders went from merely insisting on war to organizing armies and leading them in attacks against European occupying forces and against old-line Muslim ruling families. Their justification? They were following the example of combat set by Muhammad. Then came Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabis and Salafists, passionate Holy Warriors and missionaries who fanned out around the globe and who condemned the Sufis utterly, labeled them un-Islamic, and outlawed Sufism in one Islamic country after another. They, too, were inspired by the standard of intolerance set by Muhammad.

Still, this wasn’t the end of Islamic liberalism. In 1876, a reform-oriented cleric in what remained of the Ottoman Empire issued a fatwa—a religious decree—deposing the ruler of worldwide Islam, the Caliph. A new caliph took the old one’s place, a new Sultan who introduced a constitution with a parliament and with guarantees of religious liberty and freedom of speech. This move helped pave the way for today’s Islamic-but-secular Turkey. But outside of Turkey, liberal Islam had almost no influence. And in today’s Turkey, the nation’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has thrown the secularists out of power, is slowly closing in on the liberals, and is aiming for an “Islamist” state. A state more in keeping with Muhammad’s grim examples.

Though movements toward Islamic liberalism kept popping up in the early 20th century, they were too weak to reach the mainstream. From 1919 to 1924 in India, the Khilafat Movement supported the idea that Islam should be one global, unified empire ruled by the Ottoman Caliph in Constantinople—the city that Muslims had violently pried from the hands of Christians in 1453 and had renamed Istanbul. As dangerous as a faction dedicated to a global empire may seem, the Khalifat Movement produced some welcome surprises. The leaders of the movement allied with Mahatma Gandhi’s drive for Indian independence from the British. And some of the Khalifat movement’s leaders may have been Muslim pluralists and modernists, early Muslim “liberals.”

Among them was Abul Kalam Azad. Born in Mecca and raised in India, Azad had cultural pluralism in his blood. He was the son of an Arab mother and of an Indian Muslim Sufi of Afghan origins. In 1920, Azad took big chances, bucked the traditionalists, and promoted the concept of Tajdid—of Islamic innovation—instead of traditional Taqliq. Taqliq was Islam’s way of hyper-activating the Founder Effect. It demanded rigid conformity to Islam’s seventh-century ways, including conformity to Muhammad’s bloody policies. Azad wanted Taqliq to go. In his books, Azad reportedly called for an Indian state based on separation of mosque and state, plus a secular, democratic, pluralist government within whose rule all religions and all cultures might coexist.

Alas, I suspect that very few Muslims today have heard of Azad. Instead, today’s Muslims have been force-fed the philosophies of men like Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Tamimi—founder of Wahhabism, the jihadist religion taught in Saudi-sponsored schools in nearly every major Western and Eastern city in the world. The Saudi government has allegedly spent an astonishing $100 billion to build mosques, establish Muslim community centers, endow chairs at elite American universities, provide “teacher training,” and supply textbooks from Tokyo, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and Brasilia to Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. The goal? To promote Wahhab’s version of Islam. A jihadist version. Today’s Muslims have also been swayed by the thoughts of men like Sayyed Qutub, the fundamentalist thinker whose writings inspired Osama bin Laden to declare war—worldwide jihad—on America in his August 23, 1996 “Declaration Of War Against The Americans.”

And hundreds of millions of today’s Muslims have been weaned on the attitudes of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood—one of Islam’s most successful movements in the early 21st century. The Muslim Brotherhood’s motto reads, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” All these men—Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab al-Tamimi, Sayyed Qutub, and Hasan al-Banna—were militants dead serious about converting or killing unbelievers like you and me.

Those who espouse Islamic liberalism often risk their lives. Let’s go back to Salman Rushdie, an Islamic novelist born in Bombay who worked as a journalist in Pakistan then became discontented and moved to England. Rushdie was put under a death sentence for his novel The Satanic Verses. Pakistani street mobs rioted over the novel’s alleged insults to Islam in 1989. Five of the rioters were shot by police. And it appears that none of the rioters had actually read the book. When the Ayatollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, saw the coverage of the riots on television, he issued a fatwa—a religious edict—calling for Rushdie’s death and for the deaths of others involved with Rushdie’s book. Said the Ayatollah, “I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them.” The Ayatollah gave extra oomph to his edict by putting a price of three million dollars on Rushdie’s head. Then an Iranian Islamic organization upped the ante by another $2.8 million. Rushdie took these threats seriously. He remained in hiding from 1989 to 1998.

The fatwa against Rushdie terrified publishers and editors in the West, making them extremely leery of publishing books like the one you’re reading now. Fifteen hundred American bookstores took The Satanic Verses off their shelves. Why? Khomeini’s fatwa extended not only to Rushdie, but to “all involved in its [The Satanic Verses] publication who were aware of its content.” These words were backed by action. Bookstores in Berkeley, California; York, England; and London’s West End were bombed. Other bombs were found outside of bookstores in England’s Guilford, Nottingham, and Peterborough.

This was a battle of memes, a bloody one. The Satanic Verses’ Japanese translator was stabbed to death. The book’s Italian translator was knifed, but lived. Its Norwegian publisher was shot but managed to cling to life. And in Sivas, Turkey, demonstrators denounced the Muslim who had translated The Satanic Verses into Turkish. These street mobs did more than chant for the translator’s death. They set a local hotel on fire, killing 37 hotel guests.

But Rushdie was not the only author to be targeted for “un-Islamic” views. There was Taslima Nasrin, an Islamic novelist from Bangladesh. Her newspaper articles and her book Shame made the mistake of protesting against the Islamic treatment of women and minorities. That was more than the street rioters and amateur assassins of extremist Islam could take. In 1994, there were riots in the central roadways of Bangladesh over Nasrin’s un-Islamic freedom of speech. The government of Bangladesh decreed that her writings were riddled with “anti-Islam sentiments and statements that could destroy the religious harmony of Bangladesh.” So Nasrin was forced to go into hiding in Sweden. At least she wasn’t killed like the poetess Asma, the mother of five about whom Muhammad said, “Who will rid me of Marwan’s daughter?”

Then there was the case of Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988. You’d think that the Arab-speaking world would be proud of this honor, even though it came from the barbaric and pagan West. But you’d be wrong. Mahfouz’s novels were banned in many Islamic countries because the author had once made the un-Islamic move of supporting the 1978 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. But that’s not all. An influential extremist interpreter of Islam, Omar Abdul-Rahman (the man who inspired the 1993 bombing of five basement floors of New York’s World Trade Center), told a journalist that Mahfouz’s work had helped lay the base for Salman Rushdie’s heresy. That did it. In 1994 Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck with a kitchen knife in front of his house in Cairo. He lived, but the 82-year-old author was forced to surround himself with bodyguards for the rest of his life.

These are just the tips of the iceberg—the merest hints of the way in which today’s militant Islamic community follows Muhammad’s example of rigid meme-policing and terrifies would-be liberals into silence. African journalist Isioma Daniel was forced to flee her homeland, Nigeria, when she wrote a column about violent Islamic protests against the 2002 Miss World Pageant, a pageant scheduled to take place in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Referring to Muhammad’s sexual appetites, appetites Allah himself sanctioned in the Qur’an, Daniel said: “The Muslims thought it was immoral to bring 92 women to Nigeria and ask them to revel in vanity. What would Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would probably have chosen a wife from one of them.” These words were probably true. As you’ve seen. But they triggered three days of riots that claimed the lives of more than 220 people. A government official in the Nigerian state of Zamfara issued a fatwa declaring: “Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed. It is binding on all Muslims, wherever they are, to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty.” Daniel was forced to go into hiding in the U.S. And her homeland, Nigeria, is not even a Muslim nation. Only 50% of its citizens followed the religion of Muhammad at the time.

There are many other examples of this sort. Turkey’s Islamist/feminist writer Konca Kuris was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by the militant, Iranian-backed movement Hezbollah in the Turkish town of Konya in 1998. Turkish secularist and newspaper columnist Ahmet Taner Kislali died when a bomb went off beneath the hood of his car the following year. Then there’s the punishment of Iranian history professor Hashem Aghajari, who told a Tehran audience in 2002 not to consider the words of extremist religious leaders as sacred and not to follow militant Islam “like monkeys.” Aghajari was sentenced to death for “apostasy”—for abandoning Islam. In a second trial, Aghajari was once again given the death sentence. A third trial finally concluded that Aghajari, had, indeed, “insulted sacred Islamic tenets,” but gave him a lighter sentence—three years in prison.

Despite these threats, there are figures like Munawar Anees, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, former Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, and founder of two of the leading journals of Islamic studies in the Islamic world. Dr. Anees—who has been tortured in a Malaysian prison—ends his letters with these words: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Anees makes it clear in his signature file that this statement comes from a founder-effect generator named Thomas Jefferson.

And there’s Kamal Nawash, founder of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism in Washington, DC. Nawash runs one of a handful of Islamic anti-extremist groups, groups whose leaders erect websites but usually hide in anonymity and seldom reveal their names. Nawash is one of the few who dares to disclose his identity and to make his statements in public.

And there’s a new crop of Muslim reformers taking advantage of their freedom of speech in America and the West.

Among them are “reformers” who may not be what they claim. A good example is Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri (not to be confused with Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Punjab’s governor). Qadri is a Pakistani Qur’anic scholar and politician. He claims to be something that Muhammad predicted, the one man who “at the beginning of every Islamic century” revives the pure and holy teachings of the Prophet, and does it for the entire Umma, for the worldwide community of Islam. In other words, Qadri boldly claims a unique religious authority.

In 1981, at the beginning of a Muslim century, Qadri founded Minhaj-ul-Quran—The Path of the Qur’an—in Lahore. In its English-language materials, Minhaj-ul-Quran says that it is dedicated to “abridging the communication gap between different communities and religions and…promoting peace by educating young minds about classical Islamic sciences.” Today Minhaj-ul-Quran claims that it is “working in over 100 countries around the globe.”

In May of 1989, Qadri also founded a Pakistani political party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the Pakistan People’s Movement. The party says that it is committed to “fighting hard to serve the people of Pakistan in the way a true democratic government” should. It promises to cut red tape, maximize Pakistan’s resources, minimize the nation’s debt, set private industry free to compete, and to work for “equality, inclusiveness, putting people first” thus providing “basic facilities of life and equal job opportunities.” From 1990 to 2004, Qadri held an elected seat in Pakistan’s National Assembly, Pakistan’s lower house of parliament. Then he resigned in protest against Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf’s dual position as head of government and head of the army.

Most important, on March 2, 2010, as the Pakistani newspaper Dawn explains it, “Qadri issued a historic 600-page-long religious decree or fatwa on suicide bombings citing references from the holy Quran, Hadiths and texts from various Islamic scholars. His fatwa aimed to highlight the importance of peace in Islam and the fact that suicide bombings are strictly prohibited in the religion.” Qadri’s fatwa claimed that Islam is a religion of peace. But did it preach peace to Muslims? Or did it simply attempt to make Islam seem peaceful to Westerners? Was it an act of “guile” and “deceit”?

Qadri had moved to Canada in 2005, five years before he issued his fatwa, and it was while he was in Canada that he wrote the Fatwa on Terrorism & Suicide Bombings. Then Qadri introduced his document in a series of mass events. Not mass events in Cairo, Baghdad, Damascus, or Islamabad, but mass events in London. The Fatwa on Terrorism & Suicide Bombings was unveiled at a press conference in Westminster’s Central Hall in London. Then came:

  • A peace camp. Its location? Once again, England.
  • A Peace for Humanity Conference. Location? London.
  • An Interfaith Collective Peace Prayer. At the London Peace for Humanity Conference.
  • A European launch of the peace fatwa…in Denmark.
  • A “Seminar Delegitimizing the Al Qaeda Narrative.” Where? Not in one of al Qaeda’s strongholds in Pakistan, Qadri’s home country. In Oslo, Norway.
  • A speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace…in Washington, DC.
  • And on June 15, 2015, an Islamic Curriculum for Peace and Counter Terrorism. But, alas, this, too, was launched in England.

Qadri received huge press attention for his efforts. He was invited to talk up his fatwa at the 2011 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And his fatwa landed in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI. To his credit, Qadri’s fatwa was also endorsed by Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, one of the most respected centers of theological opinion in the Islamic world. The problem is that most of this attention was in the West. It’s the Islamic world where a fatwa calling for peace and banning suicide bombing needs to wield influence. In the West, it simply helps pull the wool over the eyes of those who want to believe that Islam is harmless, those who want to ignore the murderous deeds of Muhammad.

One of Qadri’s websites says something admirable:

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri said that the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) stated that a time would come when the youth and immature people with imperfect knowledge will spread chaos by using his ‘Sunna’ and Islam. They would spill blood of innocent people and talk about establishing the dominance of truth but they would have nothing to do with Islam or his ‘Sunna.’ He (PBUH) ordained to the faithful to crush such elements with full might.

In other words, explains Qadri, Muhammad said that ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram should be crushed. But is Qadri saying this to his fellow Muslims? Or is this a PR effort to throw you and me off the track?

On yet another webpage, Qadri reveals motives that may not be as pluralistic and tolerant as his words aimed at Westerners make them out to be. He says that his purpose in founding Minhaj-ul-Quran is “the revival of Islam.” That would be great if Qadri is promoting a truly peaceful form of Islam. However Minhaj, says Qadri, is dedicated to “the Da’wa work…to communicate its [Islam’s] message effectively across the five continents of the world.” Da’wa means missionary work—trying to convert the rest of us to Islam—inviting us to Islam. But remember the consequences of not accepting that invitation: death.

Minhaj is also dedicated to “the spread of Islamic teachings and safeguarding the faith of youth.” That means not letting the young escape Islam. On top of that, Minhaj is committed to an “all-embracing and all-encompassing struggle” and to the principle of “universalism.” There is a word for this sort of struggle in Islam: jihad. And “universalism” tends to mean not a tolerant acceptance of all humanity, but the global spread of what Qadri calls “the supreme banner of Mercy of the Prophet Muhammad.” Is this the banner of Mercy that was raised over mass murders like that in Khaibar?

What’s more, as one of the most severe but best informed critics of Islam, Robert Spencer, points out, Qadri’s fatwa against suicide bombing and terrorism never, in its more than five hundred pages, tries to give a peaceful interpretation—or any interpretation—of the five verses of the Qur’an that say “slay them wherever you catch them.” Slay whom? Those who turn away from Islam. And unbelievers like you and me.

* * *

Then there are the genuine moderates and liberals.

Qadri says that Islam is a religion of peace. One Muslim reformer who in her youth was dedicated to jihad disagrees strongly with Qadri. She says point-blank that “Islam is not a religion of peace.” That reformer is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in Somalia in a strict Muslim family. Her mother used almost every household prop including the kitchen’s cooking fire to put a fear of Islam’s hell into the emotional core of her children. When she was a teenager, Hirsi Ali discovered the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that says jihad is one of the first principles of Islam. She became a jihad enthusiast. “As a sixteen- and seventeen-year-old girl in Kenya,” she says, “I believed in jihad.” Jihad looked to her like a way to escape her family, have personal freedom, and dedicate herself to a higher purpose. She recalls:

For me, jihad was something to aspire to beyond chores for my mother and grandmother and my dreaded math class. The ideal of holy war encouraged me to get out of the house and engage in charitable work for others. It gave me a focus for my inner struggle; now I could struggle to be a better Muslim. Every prayer, every veil, every fast, every acknowledgment of Allah signaled that I was a better person or at least on the path to becoming one. I had value, and if the hardships of life in the Old Racecourse Road section of Nairobi felt overwhelming, it was only temporary. I would be rewarded in the afterlife.

Then Hirsi Ali’s notions of jihad morphed. She explains:

That’s how jihad is generally first presented to most young Muslims—as a manifestation of the inner struggle to be a good Muslim. It’s a spiritual struggle, a path toward the light. But then things change. Gradually, jihad ceases to be simply an inner struggle; it becomes an outward one, a holy war in the name of Islam by an army of glorious “brothers.”

Eventually, Ali Hirsi’s father arranged a marriage for her. To a Muslim member of her clan in Canada. A man who she says “spoke in half-learned Somali and half-learned English” and who “wanted six sons.” Ali Hirsi was not enthusiastic about this choice. Her flight to Canada had a stopover in Dusseldorf, Germany. Ali Hirsi left the plane and never got back on again. Instead, she took refuge in Europe, eventually ending up in Amsterdam. The culture she was exposed to there was utterly alien to her. She saw people who would have been left to misery in Somalia, but in Holland were taken care of by the welfare system of the state. She saw life defined by individual achievement, not by killing on behalf of the tribe or the faith. She reveals that she was “stunned by the near-total absence of violence. I never saw Dutch people engaging in physical confrontations. There were no threats or fear. If two or three people were killed, it was considered a crisis of the social order and spoken about as such. Two or three violent deaths in my Somali homeland were considered completely ordinary and unremarkable.” Slowly the appeal of this new way of life won her over. She put herself through college and grad school and got a master’s degree in political science from the University of Leiden. And she won a seat in the Dutch House of Representatives.

But Hirsi Ali was appalled at the way women are treated in the Islamic world—from the honor killings of teenage girls who have “stained the family honor” to the beatings of wives, beatings for which instructions are given by religious scholars in books and on television. So she wrote a film about this institutionalized abuse—Submission. The filmmaker who turned Hirsi’s words into visuals was Theo Van Gogh, the great-grandson of Vincent Van Gogh’s brother. Hirsi Ali’s film was shown on Dutch public TV and became an Internet sensation, drawing more than three-quarters of a million views.

But the project was Van Gogh’s undoing. Islam’s killers of dissent took offense. So one day as Theo Van Gogh was bicycling through Amsterdam’s streets he was assaulted. By whom? By a Muslim born in Holland, a Muslim who lived off the welfare of the Dutch state. The attacker emptied a handgun into Van Gogh, slashed at him with a large knife, plunged the knife into Van Gogh’s chest until it reached his backbone, then used a smaller knife to pin a manifesto to Van Gogh’s body. Here’s how Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes it in her book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now:

my collaborator on a short documentary film, Theo van Gogh, had been murdered in the street in Amsterdam by a young man of Moroccan parentage named Muhammad Bouyeri. First he shot Theo eight times with a handgun. Then he shot him again as Theo, still clinging to life, pleaded for mercy. Then he cut his throat and attempted to decapitate him with a large knife. Finally, using a smaller knife, he stuck a long note to Theo’s body.

What did that note say? Says Hirsi Ali, it

was structured in the style of a fatwa, or religious verdict. It began, “In the name of Allah—the Beneficent—the Merciful” and included, along with numerous quotations from the Qur’an, an explicit threat on my life: “… Mrs. Hirshi [sic] Ali and the rest of you extremist unbelievers. Islam has withstood many enemies and persecutions throughout History. … AYAAN HIRSI ALI YOU WILL SELF-DESTRUCT ON ISLAM!” On and on it went in the same ranting vein. “Islam will be victorious through the blood of the martyrs. They will spread its light in every dark corner of this earth and it will drive evil with the sword if necessary back into its dark hole…. There will be no mercy shown to the purveyors of injustice.”

Injustice, in Muhammad’s dark form of Islam, is any form of government that does not use the laws of Shariah. It’s any society in which Muslims are not dominant. It’s any society in which unbelievers are not second-class citizens humiliated by paying a protection tax. In other words, there will be injustice until the day Islam rules the entire population of the globe. Just as Muhammad said it would in 629 a.d., the year he wrote his letters to the emperors.

Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh.

The note from the killer of Theo Van Gogh said that Islam “will drive evil with the sword if necessary back into its dark hole.” What is evil? I am for writing this book. You are for reading it. And you and I are evil because we have not submitted our souls, our minds, and our bodies to the One True Prophet and his message. You and I will be evil until we become Muslims.

* * *

Holland’s intellectuals subtly support Amsterdam’s Muslim killers. And they do it in the name of freedom and tolerance. They cover for the extremists, denying the jihadists’ existence in their midst and attacking anyone who delivers a message critical of Islam’s murderous side. So Hirsi Ali fled to the United States and now splits her time between New York and London.

There are other genuine Muslim reformers, people like Asra Nomani, whom we’ll meet in a minute, and Wafa Sultan. Here’s the list that Ayaan Ali Hirsi gives in her book Heretic:

There is a growing number of ordinary Muslim citizens in the West who are currently braving death threats and even official punishment in dissenting from Islamic orthodoxy and calling for the reform of Islam. These individuals are not clergymen but “ordinary” Muslims, generally educated, well read, and preoccupied with the crisis of Islam. Among them are Maajid Nawaz (UK), Samia Labidi (France), Afshin Ellian (Netherlands), Ehsan Jami (Netherlands), Naser Khader (Denmark), Seyran Ateş (Germany), Yunis Qandil (Germany), Bassam Tibi (Germany), Raheel Raza (Canada), Zuhdi Jasser (U.S.), Saleem Ahmed (U.S.), Nonie Darwish (U.S.), Wafa Sultan (U.S.), Saleem Ahmed (U.S.), Ibn Warraq (U.S.), Asra Nomani (U.S.), and Irshad Manji (U.S.).

Almost all of these are calling for a Muslim reformation. They want to discard the brutality and perpetual war demanded by Muhammad. They call for the sort of revolution in Islam that Martin Luther pulled off in Christianity in when he nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther took God out of the hands of the Catholic Church’s vast hierarchy of popes, bishops, and priests, and made divinity available to anyone who could read. When it comes to a Muslim parallel to Lutheranism, that’s what Ayaan Ali Hirsi is all about. Says she:

My argument is for nothing less than a Muslim Reformation. Without fundamental alterations to some of Islam’s core concepts, I believe, we shall not solve the burning and increasingly global problem of political violence carried out in the name of religion.

But Islam’s modernist revolutionaries do not call for their reformation in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, or Indonesia. They do not talk about a modernist, pluralist reform in any of the world’s 57 self-declared Islamic States. Calls of this kind could lose them their lives. Instead, the reformers live in the West. And here—especially in the United States—the orders that demand that the faithful hack them apart with knives or machetes or shoot them for their “blasphemies” are ignored. The reformers are attacked by other and far less lethal means. But those other means have clout.

Excerpted from The Muhammad Code by Howard Bloom. Copyright © Howard Bloom, 2016. All rights reserved.

Howard Bloom has been called “next in a lineage of seminal thinkers that includes Newton, Darwin, Einstein, [and] Freud” by Britain’s Channel4 TV, “the next Stephen Hawking” by Gear Magazine, and “The Buckminster Fuller and Arthur C. Clarke of the new millennium” by Buckminster Fuller’s archivist. Bloom is the author of The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History (“mesmerizing” – The Washington Post), Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century (“reassuring and sobering” – The New Yorker), The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism (“Impressive, stimulating, and tremendously enjoyable.” James Fallows, National Correspondent, The Atlantic), The God Problem: How A Godless Cosmos Creates (“Bloom’s argument will rock your world.” Barbara Ehrenreich), How I Accidentally Started the Sixties (“a monumental, epic, glorious literary achievement.” Timothy Leary), and The Muhammad Code: How a Desert Prophet Gave You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram – or How Muhammad Invented Jihad (“a terrifying book… the best book I’ve read on Islam,” David Swindle, PJ Media).

Bloom explains that his field is “mass behaviour, from the mass behaviour of quarks to the mass behaviour of human beings.” That specialisation gives him a wide scope. His scientific work has been published in: arxiv.org, the leading pre-print site in advanced theoretical physics and mathematics; PhysicaPlus, another physics journal; Across Species Comparisons and Psychopathology; New Ideas in Psychology; The Journal of Space Philosophy; and in the book series: Research in Biopolitics. In 2005, Bloom lectured an international conference of quantum physicists in Moscow – Quantum Informatics 2006 – on why everything they know about Schrodinger’s Equation is wrong, and the concepts Bloom introduced were later used in a book proposing a new approach to quantum physics, Constructive Physics, by Moscow University’s Yuri Ozhigov.

Bloom’s second book Global Brain was the subject of an Office of the Secretary of Defense symposium in 2010, with participants from the State Department, the Energy Department, DARPA, IBM, and MIT. Bloom is founder and head of the Space Development Steering Committee, a group that includes astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell (the sixth man on the moon), and members from the National Science Foundation and NASA. He has debated one-on-one with senior officials from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Gaza’s Hamas on Iran’s global Arab-language Alalam TV News Network. He has also dissected headline issues on Saudi Arabia’s KSA2-TV and on Iran’s global English language Press-TV. And he has probed the untold story of the Syrian Civil War with Nancy Kissinger.

In addition, Bloom’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Knight-Ridder Financial News Service, the Village Voice, and Cosmopolitan Magazine. He has appeared 199 times for up to five hours on 500 radio stations on the highest-rated overnight talk radio station in North America, Clear Channel’s Coast to Coast AM, discussing everything from the biome in the gut and the evolution of the stars to the mechanism of the Great Recession of 2008 and North Korea’s rocket programme.

Bloom has his own YouTube series, Howard the Humongous, which gets up to 790,000 views per installment. His website, howardbloom.net, has had between four and five million hits. Follow him on Twitter at @HowardxBloom.

The Muhammad Code: How a Desert Prophet Brought You ISIS, al Qaeda, and Boko Haram
By Howard Bloom
Feral House (December 6, 2016)
ISBN-10: 1627310363
ISBN-13: 978-1627310369

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  1. A truly frightening article. Anyone noticed religion in general and Islam in particular flourishes hand in hand with extreme poverty and inequality? Perhaps if we find the will to do something about those last two things, we'll have a better shot at doing something about hard core Islam.


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