One of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures, the Ayatollah Khomeini, certainly didn’t see it that way: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all!”
So too Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brothers that many now believe are “reformers” struggling for liberal democratic freedom in Egypt: “Fighting the unbelievers involves all possible efforts that are necessary to dismantle the power of the enemies of Islam including beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their places of worship, and smashing their idols.”
This continuous tradition of violent jihad explains the jihadist imperative expressed by Muhammad in his farewell address in 642: “I was ordered to fight all men until they say ‘There is no god but Allah.'” This traditional injunction was repeated by the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, when he said, “Until the cry ‘There is no God but God’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle.” It was repeated by bin Laden in 2001: “I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad.” And it was quoted in a power-point presentation delivered at Walter Reed Hospital by the Fort Hood jihadist Nidal Malik Hassan.
Ignoring this clear, continuous tradition of violence against the enemies of Islam has been our most dangerous failure in confronting a passionately committed enemy eager for our destruction. And the danger represented by jihadist Muslims here in America who possess English fluency and U.S. passports is too real to be ignored out of fear of being charged with the thought-crime of “Islamophobia,” or of inciting grievance-politics smears and libels like “racism” or “intolerance.”
According to the Arab proverb, “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.” Representative King should be encouraged to continue these hearings and ignore the howls of his ideologically driven critics.
Bruce S. Thornton is chair of the Humanities Department at California State University;the author of several books including “Searching for Joaquin: Myth and History in California”;and culture critic for Victor Davis Hanson’s Private Papers website, where this article originally appeared.