Cultural Jihad*: Nothing to Fear

*A note on the use of the word “jihad”: “jihad” means something like “faithful struggle.” For Muslims, “jihad” is a positive word unassociated with terrorism or violence of any kind. In this column I use the word as it is misused by many non-Muslims, that is, as a synonym for holy war, especially when such war is directed at the West. I’ve done this because I don’t know how to talk about the concept of “cultural ‘jihad’”–a figment of paranoid non-Muslim imagination–without using the awkward name given to the phenomenon.

So a pastor, a rabbi and an imam walk into a crowded, fancy hotel ballroom in California’s Silicon Valley…

Each clergyman says a few inspirational words and offers a prayer of invocation. The men of the cloth then embrace and seven hundred folks in the room clap and cheer because the three of them— the pastor in his faux-linen dog collar, the rabbi in his crocheted yarmulke, and the imam in white robes beneath an ankle-length gabardine overcoat— present a compelling image, a brief reminder that options beyond antagonism are readily available for the spiritual heirs of Abraham.

I was the pastor on stage that night. Ramadan had just ended, the Jewish high holy days were in full swing, it was World Communion Sunday (celebrated by Christians who pay attention to such things), and the event upon which we invoked the favor of Heaven was a fundraising gala for Islamic Networks Group, or ING, a San José-based organization with a mission of promoting interfaith understanding, religious literacy and mutual respect, with an emphasis upon educating the public about Islam and Muslims. ING is a great organization with an international reach. They do really positive work on behalf of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

In should be good—uncomplicated and universally celebrated—for a Christian pastor to support the work of an organization such as ING. As far as I’m concerned, any organization that seeks to improve relationships between religious people, to break down stereotypes and to educate the public about Islam and other religious traditions is a good organization. Such efforts are hopeful and faithful and they benefit the world we all inhabit; yet in recent weeks I’ve become aware that, for a growing number of fearful Americans, my prayers in support of the work of ING could be misinterpreted as invocations on behalf of a “cultural ‘jihad,’” a stealth invasion across the frontier of ideas, by which radical Muslims—in drag as champions of tolerance—are attempting to overthrow the historic Christian underpinnings of western society.

According to those who worry about such things, “cultural ‘jihad’” is the process by which Muslims are infiltrating Western society, intent on establishing a dominant Muslim culture by using the freedoms and values of Western society—the freedom to speak and to publish the values of diversity and tolerance—to make Islam seem safe and attractive, and then, while no one is looking, to supplant democratically elected, secular governments with a Caliphate.

As a result, any individual or organization that seeks to rehabilitate Islam’s public image or that tries to strengthen the Muslim community (which is to say, people like me and organizations like ING) is suspect. This is hysteria America doesn’t need.

Exploring the topic on the internet, I find that folks have been talking about “cultural ‘jihad’” for years, but the issue is gaining traction this fall with the forthcoming release of a film called “The Third Jihad,” a documentary by the same folks who produced and gave away 28 million copies of the notoriously Islamophobic film “Obsession.” According to information gathered from “The Third Jihad” website, the film tells the story of a Muslim-American physician who uncovers a document detailing plans by the Islamic Brotherhood to establish a Muslim theocracy in North America.

I’ll reserve judgment on the film itself until after I’ve seen it, but I’ve read “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Plan For the Group in North America,” the document at the center of the film’s plot, and here’s my verdict: it’s probably authentic because it is banal. If someone wanted to create a forgery to scare Americans—some sort of “protocols of the elders of Islam,” they could have done a much better job. The paper has a few juicy paragraphs about how evil Americans are, but for the most part the document’s scheme rests on the assumption that if Muslims in North America could organize themselves and build strong community organizations, vibrant mosques, and excellent schools, Islam would become the dominant force in American life.

The document was penned by men who have seriously underestimated the power of Hannah Montana, Monster Truck Rallies, Disney Princesses, and countless other cultural trivialities to stifle the religious impulse the American People. If there’s a religious movement powerful enough to displace consumerism and passive entertainment as the dominant force in American life, I don’t know about it. Christians have been trying for years to accomplish exactly what the Muslim Brotherhood sets out to do in the document that has people so scared. For generations, we’ve been trying to transform society by building bigger, better churches and educational institutions, and the net result is that I cannot get some members of my congregation to show up on Sunday if the Forty-Niners are playing—and that’s in the age of TiVo.

These are uncertain and unsteady times. The global financial system is on the fritz. America is fighting two seemingly un-winnable wars. Poverty is on the rise. Humans are trashing the earth. The world is less safe for women and children, the elderly and infirm that it was ten years ago. What we don’t need to worry about is“cultural ‘jihad.’” If Muslims build more mosques and schools and community centers throughout this land, more power to them.

So the pastor, the rabbi and the imam walked into the fundraising gala, said a few prayers, and no one had anything to fear.

10 thoughts on “Cultural Jihad*: Nothing to Fear

  1. Hi Ben,

    Good piece! I was reminded of part of an interview I heard on NPR the other day. A sociologist or anthropologist was discussing a plan to have social scientists embeded with troops in Afghanistan (and maybe Iraq) to help the troops involved with counterterrorism become more aware of the cultural mores of the native population. He said that when we talk the that population about “spreading Democracy,” many understand that to mean depriving them of their religiion and culture. This idea is planted and reinforced by the Taliban and other fundamentalists.

  2. Thanks, Susan.

    Good to have you leaving a Post!

    The misunderstandings run deep. I shudder to think how unprepared were our nation’s leaders to face the chasm of what we don’t know about Islam and middle eastern cultures.

    Warmly,

    Ben

  3. It is not just in the US this appears to be happening, it is all over the western world. Forgive my long post here but I think you will appreciate it.
    This was posted on a football fans forum I use, needless to say the person that posted it got pelters.

    “Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a
    complete, total, 100% system of life.

    Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military
    components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other
    components.

    Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to
    agitate for their religious privileges.

    When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree
    to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other
    components tend to creep in as well.

    Here’s how it works.

    As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given
    country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving
    minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the case in:

    United States — Muslim 0.6%
    Australia — Muslim 1.5%
    Canada — Muslim 1.9%
    China — Muslim 1.8%
    Italy — Muslim 1.5%
    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and
    disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among
    street gangs. This is happening in:

    Denmark — Muslim 2%
    Germany — Muslim 3.7%
    United Kingdom — Muslim 2.7%
    Spain — Muslim 4%
    Thailand — Muslim 4.6%

    From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their
    percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the
    introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing
    food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on
    supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves — along with threats
    for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

    France — Muslim 8%
    Philippines — Muslim 5%
    Sweden — Muslim 5%
    Switzerland — Muslim 4.3%
    The Netherlands — Muslim 5.5%
    Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%

    At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to
    rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The
    ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

    When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase
    lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris , we
    are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and
    results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam , with opposition to
    Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily,
    particularly in Muslim sections, in:

    Guyana — Muslim 10%
    India — Muslim 13.4%
    Israel — Muslim 16%
    Kenya — Muslim 10%
    Russia — Muslim 15%

    After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia
    formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and
    Jewish synagogues, such as in:

    Ethiopia — Muslim 32.8%

    At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and

    ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

    Bosnia — Muslim 40%
    Chad — Muslim 53.1%
    Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

    From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all
    other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic
    cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax
    placed on infidels, such as in:

    Albania — Muslim 70%
    Malaysia — Muslim 60.4%
    Qatar — Muslim 77.5%
    Sudan — Muslim 70%

    After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run
    ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the
    infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in
    some ways is on-going in:

    Bangladesh — Muslim 83%
    Egypt — Muslim 90%
    Gaza — Muslim 98.7%
    Indonesia — Muslim 86.1%
    Iran — Muslim 98%
    Iraq — Muslim 97%
    Jordan — Muslim 92%
    Morocco — Muslim 98.7%
    Pakistan — Muslim 97%
    Palestine — Muslim 99%
    Syria — Muslim 90%
    Tajikistan — Muslim 90%
    Turkey — Muslim 99.8%
    United Arab Emirates — Muslim 96%

    100% will usher in the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ — the Islamic House of
    Peace. Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the

    Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

    Afghanistan — Muslim 100%
    Saudi Arabia — Muslim 100%
    Somalia — Muslim 100%
    Yemen — Muslim 100%

    Unfortunately, peace is never achieved, as in these 100% states the most
    radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by
    killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons.

    ‘Before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me
    against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against
    my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the
    world, and all of us against the infidel. — Leon Uris, ‘The Haj’

    It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100%
    Muslim populations, such as France, the minority Muslim populations live in
    ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by
    Sharia Law. The national police do not even enter these ghettos. There are
    no national courts, nor schools, nor non-Muslim religious facilities. In
    such situations, Muslims do not integrate into the community at large. The
    children attend madrasses. They learn only the Koran. To even associate with

    an infidel is a crime punishable with death. Therefore, in some areas of
    certain nations, Muslim Imams and extremists exercise more power than the
    national average would indicate.

    Today’s 1.5 billion Muslims make up 22% of the world’s population. But their

    birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews,
    and all other believers. Muslims will exceed 50% of the world’s population
    by the end of this century.

    Adapted from Dr. Peter Hammond’s book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The
    Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat

    Here is some serious reading for serious thinkers”

    Probably one of the most ill informed and racist peices of writing I have ever read on the message board. By planting a seed like this and getting knuckle dragging dimwits to listen is indeed a dangerous thing.

  4. Craig,

    This is crazy. Thanks for passing it on. I really fear that we’re in danger of loosing our bearings as Islamophobia strangles the soul of the Western world.

    Lord have mercy.

    Ben

  5. Pingback: News & Notes » Blog Archive » Cultural Jihad: Nothing to Fear

  6. Ben, the lengthy comment posted by Craig isn’t at all crazy; it is the truth. Western Europe is learning the hard way that the west is in a war of civilizations with the world of islam. I am saddened that more people won’t recognize it for what it is.

    Meanwhile, the fun continues. Witness this report on the ethnic cleansing against Christians in Mosul.

    Oct 21 SD# 2090 – “The Shame of Mosul”

    Bill

  7. Bill,

    The trouble with the post that Craig has shared here is that all of the incidents of violence and general mayhem are complicated. None of them is just a matter of religious or even cultural differences. All of the conflicts involve political and economic realities that complex. I will grant that Islam often is co-opted into the violence cited in the post, but it seems way to simplistic that Islam is the root cause of the madness.

    As to Christians being killed in Iraq, I have two responses. First, it is a truly tragic thing that has happened to the Iraqi Christian community. For two thousand years Christians have lived in Mesopotamia, most of those years they lived under Muslim rulers. In six years of a US-initiated war, the population has been almost entirely decimated. Make of it what you will.

    Also, Christians are being killed by Hindus in India and by Buddhists in Myanmar (no link on that one, but trust me on this one–I have a foster daughter from Burma who is a Christian and is a refugee), yet no one seems to be saying that Hinduism and Buddhism are a threat to our way of life. In both cases, we’d probably agree that religion is only one factor in the violence. Religion is seldom violent on its own.

    Ben

  8. Great work! I also have my own blog I just find it hard to write quality content like this.
    I guess I really don’t have the time.

  9. United States — Muslim 0.6%
    Australia — Muslim 1.5%
    Canada — Muslim 1.9%
    China — Muslim 1.8%
    Italy — Muslim 1.5%
    Norway — Muslim 1.8%

    even less percentage but it’s effect on nearly whole part of the world.

  10. Ben, It’s most unfortunate that you fail to discern the truth of your assumptions. Please visit tilproject.com. Look at this subject from the POV of a former Muslim well versed in what is truly happening, who understands the Koran and will truly show you your failure as a pastor.

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