Is Islam a religion of peace?

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Note: Although we're not admirers of the "Israel can do no wrong" view so prevalent among evangelical Christians, neither were we happy with our President's declaration immediately following 9/11, "Islam is a religion of peace." Down through history Islam has never been known as a religion of peace, but rather a religion of jihad. It gains converts through war--and not spiritual warfare with principalities and powers, with rulers of the heavenly realms, but rather the old-fashioned blood and guts sort of war. You know, convert or move or die.

To focus our thoughts on this matter, here's a talk given last week by a veteran of the Arabic and Islamic world, Brigitte Gabriel. Yes, there are parts of her speech we'd want to quibble over, but not her essential thrust--that the Western World's refusal to acknowledge the true nature of her enemy will, if continued, prove to be fatal.

Brigitte Gabriel's Speech at the Intelligence Summit
(February 17-20, 2006, Arlington, VA)

We gather here today to share information and knowledge. Intelligence is not merely cold hard data about numerical strength or armament or disposition of military forces. The most important element of intelligence has to be understanding the mindset and intention of the enemy. The west has been wallowing in a state of ignorance and denial for thirty years as Muslim extremists perpetrated evil against innocent victims in the name of Allah.

I was ten years old when my home exploded around me burying me under the rubble drinking my blood to survive as the perpetrators shouted Allahu Akbar. My only crime was that I was a Christian living in a Christian town...

I learned at 10 years old the meaning of the word "infidel." I had a crash course in survival--not in Girl Scouts, but in a bomb shelter where I lived for seven years in pitch darkness, freezing cold, drinking stale water and eating grass to live. At the age of 13 I dressed in my burial clothes going to bed at night waiting to be slaughtered. And by the age of 20 I had buried most of my friends who were killed by Muslims. We were not Americans living in New York, or Britons in London, we were Arab Christians living in Lebanon.

As a victim of Islamic terror, I was amazed when I saw Americans waking up on September 12th 2001 asking themselves "Why do they hate us?" The psychoanalyst experts were coming up with all sort of excuses as to what did we do to offend the Muslim World? If America and the west were paying attention to the Middle East they would not have had to even ask the question. Simply put, they hate me and you because we are defined in their eyes by one simple word, "infidels."

Under the banner of Islam la, ilaha illa allah, muhammad rasoulu allah, "there is no God but Allah, Muhammad is his prophet", they murdered Jewish children in Israel, massacred Christians in Lebanon, killed Copts in Egypt, Assyrians in Syria, Hindus in India, and expelled almost 900,000 Jews out of Muslim lands. We Middle Eastern infidels paid the price then and for their indifference and shortsightedness infidels worldwide are paying the price now.

Tolerating evil is a crime. Appeasing murderers doesn't buy protection, it earns disrespect and loathing in the enemy's eyes.

Apathy is the weapon by which the west is committing suicide. Political correctness is the shackles around our ankles by which Islamists are leading us to our demise.

America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy. Islam.

You hear about Wahabbi and Salafi Islam as the only extreme form of Islam. All the other Muslims are wonderful moderates. I hope the pictures of the irrational eruption of violence from around the world in reaction to the caricatures of Mohammed from burning embassies, to calls to butcher those who mock Islam, or to warnings to be prepared for the real holocaust, has given you a glimpse into the real face of the enemy. The news pictures and video of these events represents a canvas of hate decorated by different nationalities who share one common ideology of hate, bigotry and intolerance derived from one source. Authentic Islam. An Islam that is awakening from centuries of slumber to re-ignite its wrath against the infidel and dominate the world. An Islam which has declared Intifada on the West.

Our leaders and politicians bend backward and forward going out of their way to tell us how sweetly wonderful Islam is and that most Muslims are moderate. That only few radicals have hijacked this unbelievably sweet poetry called the Koran and are trying to twist it to do harm. America and the west can no longer afford to lay in their lazy state of overweight ignorance. The consequences of this mental disease are starting to attack the body and if they don't take the necessary medical steps now to control it, death will be knocking soon.

If you want to understand the nature of the enemy we face, visualize a tapestry of snakes. They slither and they hiss, and they would eat each other alive, but they will unite in a hideous mass to achieve their common goal of imposing Islam on the world. This is the ugly face of the enemy we are fighting.

We are fighting a powerful ideology that is capable of altering human basic instincts. An ideology that can turn a mother into a launching pad of death. A perfect example is a recently elected Hamas official in the Palestinian Territories who raves in heavenly joy about sending her three sons to death and offering the ones who are still alive for the cause. It is an ideology that is capable of offering highly educated individuals such as doctors, and lawyers far more joy in attaining death than any respect and stature, life in society is ever capable of giving them.

Today, radical Islam's war rages in varying degrees of intensity throughout the world, not just against Christians and Jews in the west, but also against Hindus, Buddhists, Copts, indeed all non-Muslim "infidels". Their degree of zealotry even has them attacking other denominations within Islam itself. Islamic radicals are instigating and perpetuating terrorist campaigns, insurgencies, civil wars, minority suppression, ethnic cleansing and/or genocide in 47 countries around the world. Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Chad, Chechnya, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Spain, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, The united States, Israel, Kashmir, Kenya, Kosovo, Lebanon, Macedonia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Netherlands to name a few. The rest of the world is held hostage to fear.

From Saudi-funded madrassas and mosques worldwide, to the parliament of Iran, to the cabals of al Qaeda and Hezbollah, radical Islamists have repeatedly declared and demonstrated that their goal is to impose Islamic rule throughout the world, by the sword or by the suicide bomb. Numerous radical Islamic "scholars" have declared that it is every Muslim's religious duty to dominate or exterminate all infidels. And you don't have to take my word about it. Just read what they write and listen to what they say because that is what they are going to do. Simply read and listen.

The United States has been a prime target for radical Islamic hatred and terror. Every Friday, mosques in the Middle East ring with shrill prayers and monotonous chants calling death, destruction and damnation down on America and its people. The radical Islamists' deeds have been as vile as their words. Since the Iran Hostage crisis, more than three thousand Americans have died in a terror campaign almost unprecedented in its calculated cruelty along with thousands of other citizens worldwide. Even the Nazis did not turn their own children into human bombs, and then rejoice at their deaths as well the deaths of their victims. This intentional, indiscriminate and wholesale murder of innocent American citizens is justified and glorified in the name of Islam.

And yet, there are still Americans who are unable or unwilling to recognize the nature or the extent of the threat presented by radical Islam. Whether motivated by nave wishful thinking or rigid political correctness, they assert that Islam is a "moderate", "tolerant" and "peaceful" religion that has been hijacked by "extremists". They ignore the repeated calls to jihad, Islamic holy war, emanating from the government-controlled mosques of so-called "moderate" Islamic countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia. They refuse to accept that in the Muslim world, EXtreme is MAINstream.

America cannot effectively defend itself in this war unless and until the American people understand the nature of the enemy that we face. Even after 9/11 there are those who say that we must "engage" our terrorist enemies, that we must "address their grievances". Their grievance is our freedom of religion. Their grievance is our freedom of speech. Their grievance is our democratic process where the rule of law comes from the voices of many not that of just one prophet. It is the respect we instill in our children towards all religions. It is the equality we grant each other as human beings sharing a planet and striving to make the world a better place for all humanity. Their grievance is the kindness and respect a man shows a woman, the justice we practice as equals under the law, and the mercy we grant our enemy. Their grievance cannot be answered by an apology for who or what we are.

Our mediocre attitude of not confronting Islamic forces of bigotry and hatred wherever it raised its ugly head in the last 30 years, has empowered and strengthened our enemy to launch a full scale attack on the very freedoms we cherish in their effort to impose their values and way of life on our civilization. So do not ask what did we do to make them hate us but ask where originally they get their hatred from?

The Muslims believe the Koran is the word of God revealed through their prophet Muhammad. The Hadith, or "Traditions", are reports of the words and actions of Muhammad. Shari'a is Islamic law, as it developed under the Koran and Hadith. For those of us whose first language is Arabic and are able to read the language they are written in, we can understand completely where all the hatred and bigotry is coming from. Their "sacred obligation" to impose Islam upon the entire world evidenced by their hatred and animosity towards non-believers is not a distortion of Islam, nor is it the creation of a few extremists who have hijacked an allegedly peaceful and tolerant religion. It is the underlying theme of the Koran and the Hadith.

In the Koran and in the Hadith, Jihad is very clearly understood as waging war. It is a military term known throughout the Middle East as one of the basic commandments of the Islamic faith and it must be waged until the whole world accepts Islam or submits to the rule of Sharia Law.

Throughout the Koran and Hadith, harb and qital ("war and killing or slaughter") are ordained by Allah as the unavoidable and immutable punishment for refusing to convert or submit to Islam.

"Moderate" Muslims, and apologists and propagandists for Islam, will attempt to deny or obscure the real meaning, nature and intent of jihad. Some will say that jihad means only a Muslim's "inner struggle" to be a better person. Others will acknowledge that Muslims have a religious duty to spread Islam throughout the world, but insist that it is to be spread only peacefully, through dawah - literally "the call" - meaning persuasion and reasoning. Finally, some will go so far as to admit that it can also mean warfare, but insist that in Islam warfare is allowed only in self-defense or against oppression. However, all of these assertions are examples of a tactic that Islam encourages in waging jihad called: taqiyya or kithman - lying, deception, deceit. Muslims are encouraged to lie if, in the subjective opinion of the liar, telling the lie will be "good" for Islam.

Since the sacred goal of jihad is to make Islam "supreme in this world", every lie told to achieve that goal is not only permitted, but sanctified. Therefore it is "good" for Islam that the infidel should be kept ignorant of the true meaning of jihad.

If the Islamic principle of taqiyya were limited to theological discussion and disputation between Muslims and "infidels", it would be of little interest to members of the intelligence community. However, the practice of taqiyya has both strategic and tactical implications in the war against Islamic terror. Because Islam has declared itself to be in a perpetual state of jihad against "infidels", according to the principle of taqiyya, peace itself is used as a deception. A truce or a treaty with an infidel remains in force only so long as it is beneficial or advantageous to Islam. This is what every intelligence professional must understand in formulating any risk assessment, negotiating strategy or policy analysis regarding the threat of Islamic terror.

It is certain that there are genuinely moderate Muslims, perhaps a substantial number, who do not seek to impose Islam on America and the world through violent jihad. However, they are conspicuous by their silence regarding the more problematic doctrines of Islam. To the extent that most so-called moderate Muslim "leaders" and lobbying organizations in the United States even address the issue, they offer nothing more than vague, tepid condemnations of terrorist violence and heated denials that the behavior of Islamic terrorists have any connection with Islam, frequently accompanied by an unhealthy dose of taqiyya to "protect" Islam.

We are fighting an enemy that as much as it hides behind lies, it hides behind obfuscation. It is an enemy in disguise that doesn't wear a uniform. It is an enemy that hides behind political correctness and lives in our midst. It is an enemy that hides behind normal civility and the instinct of self-preservation that thrives to die just to kill us.

This army doesn't work independently but is supported and protected by a community and a neighborhood. It is suicidal to label any Islamic community as moderate because it is this same community that protected, supported and shielded the extremists and made their suicide operation possible. I know the Middle East and Middle Eastern culture and how Middle Eastern communities are so well connected. It is not an American community on American soil. It is a minority community that just changed geography yet still practices Middle Eastern cultures and customs.

Nothing can go on in a vacuum because in Middle Eastern societies there is no vacuum. Everyone knows everything about everyone. Walk into any city in the USA and go straight to the Arabic grocery store and ask about anyone in the Arabic community and they will know them and know details about them that will shock any American. The Islamic community in the United States knows a lot and has a lot of information to give to authorities about the numerous terrorist cells that exist inside our country.

If we don't wake up and challenge our Muslim community to take action against the terrorists within it, if we don't believe in ourselves as Americans and in the standards we should hold every patriotic American to, we are going to pay a price for our shortsighted delusion.

For the sake of our children and our country, we must wake up and take action. In the face of a torrent of hateful invective and terrorist murder, America's learning curve since the Iran hostage crisis is so shallow that it is almost flat. The longer we lay supine, the more difficult it will be to stand erect.

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Ms. Gabriel began her career as the News Anchor for "World News" the evening news broadcast for Middle East Television seen weeknights throughout Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus and Lebanon. She is the former Production Coordinator for ARD (German Television) in South Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. She is also the former Satellite Video Distribution Coordinator for METV/WTN (Worldwide Television News) studios in London for daily Eurovision Satellite Distribution to networks worldwide. She relocated to the United States in 1989 where she founded an entertainment company providing services to national and international media clients. Ms. Gabriel founded ACT, "American Congress For Truth," in 2002 to provide information about the Middle East conflict. She has appeared on news and information TV shows, talk radio and made numerous public speaking engagements. She speaks four languages, Arabic, French, English and Hebrew. Ms. Gabriel is available as a speaker.