Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2008. 282 pp.
The irony of Robert Spencer's new book, Stealth Jihad, is that he will now have to prove to his opponents that they were partly right about Islam. For years, apologists for the Religion of Peace have argued that the correct understanding of jihad need not imply terrorism or violence; it is merely a quest for justice, according to the dictates of Islamic law. Now that Spencer documents in great detail the broader attempt to impose Shari'a on America and the West through non-violent means – in the media, the courts, the workplace, schoolhouses, universities, and the government – another redefinition will be required.
Spencer confronts the unusual terminology on the first page of his book. "For many people," he writes, the term Stealth Jihad "will be nonsensical." This is only so to those with little understanding of the tenets and dogmas of Islam – which is most of the American public.
Contrary to post-9/11 spin, Islam does not mean "peace" but submission. Thus, the Koran states conquered People of the Book" (Christians and Jews) must pay an extra tax to "feel themselves subdued" (9:29), a concept repugnant to Western notions of personal conviction and freedom of conscience. Muslims believe the Koran is the literal word of Allah, which demands obeisance from all, even those who reject its authority.
Spencer marshals evidence of Islam's universal scope from the Koran and the hadiths, from early Islamic jurists and current representatives of American "Muslim civil rights" organizations. Chief in importance is Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, that international fount of stealth and frequently conspicuous jihad, who wrote, "Islam is an all-embracing concept which regulates every aspect of life, adjudicating on every one of its concerns and prescribing for it a solid and rigorous order." Spencer quotes influential, contemporary Muslim scholars who state Islam is "by its very nature a universal state" that "tolerates the existence of no other state than itself." Its goal, they declare, is "the establishment of an imperial world state," realized through "absorption" of the secular West. To this end, the Brotherhood has had a chapter in Paris since 1937…and allies on hundreds of college campuses, funded by taxpayer dollars.
Lest he be accused of seeing jihadists under every burqa, Spencer states the obvious: just as there are varying degrees of fervor among adherents of any religion, "there are innumerable Muslims in this country today who are happy to live in a pluralistic society in which there is no established religion." Al-Banna acknowledged there are many levels of jihad, including mere "interior spiritual struggle" – which he deemed the lowest level. Waging warfare against the infidel was the highest expression of fidelity. Stealth Jihad documents those who pursue the myriad gradations in between.
The author begins by noting the concerted effort to portray all those who tell the truth about Islam as "Islamophobes," followed by legal and sometimes physical intimidation. He relates Muslim threats in the wake of the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad, Geert Wilders' film Fitna, the thought-crime of Theo van Gogh, and a number of lesser known events. (Conspicuously absent is the case of Pim Fortuyn, the assassinated Dutch politician who addressed the book's thesis head-on from a socially progressive standpoint in his own book, Against the Islamization of Our Culture.) At other times, leveraging their allies on the multicultural Left, stealth jihadists make use of speech codes and nuisance legal cases. The author's personal persecution could fill a book-length volume, but Spencer cites merely a smattering of his own experiences, focusing instead on the legal harassment of FrontPage Magazine contributor Rachel Ehrenfeld, NRO's Mark Steyn, and the late Oriana Fallaci (FrontPage Magazine's Woman of the Year 2005).
However, one need not be a critical opponent of Shari'a to experience the wrath of al-Banna's middling moralists. One can merely be a Catholic employee who dares to eat pork in the workplace. Or an employer who refuses special privileges to his Muslim employees to take prayer breaks while their dhimmi co-workers continue laboring away.
…Or the parent of a young child who attends public school. Textbooks teach schoolchildren that, while Crusaders plundered and slashed their way through the Middle East (to reclaim the land the Crescent subjected by the sword), Islam "spread" peacefully, aided by its "tolerance for other religions." Others force boys and girls to parrot Islamic religious dogmas. His exposé of the Muslim organization tasked with censoring textbooks is an eye-opener. His chapters on public education, university professors (especially John Esposito and the Middle Eastern Studies Association), and the growing industry of Shari'a-compliant finance are worth the price of the book.
None is as chilling as the infiltration of the Department of Homeland Security and the nation's intelligence community in general.
Spencer lays bare the underground network of Muslim "advocacy" organizations who work in concert to promote their supremacist agenda. Stealth Jihad includes the most comprehensive and irrefutable portrait of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) yet written. (Its partners are organizations Jihad Watch, FrontPage Magazine, and DiscoverTheNetworks.org have been exposing since going into print.)
His coverage reveals another cause for concern: for jihadists, peace and violence are not polar opposites, as they were to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X; they are two sides of the same jihadist coin, pursued cyclically, or in tandem, to promote the goal of an Islamic-compliant world. As a result, he often finds those involved in non-violent jihad have ties to terrorism, which he also documents.
Spencer, a religious scholar who has lectured the U.S. Central Command and the U.S. intelligence community, is editor of this website's sister publication, Jihad Watch. In 2006, al-Qaeda offered him an ultimatum: convert to Islam or die. (To date, Spencer remains a faithful part of the Church Militant.) No one is more qualified to comment on the topic, as this well-written, thoroughly documented volume demonstrates. After systematically presenting the theology of Islamic supremacy, he examines each area of influence, proving the drive to bend all Americans to follow Shari'a with one example after another.
Analyzing the problem is one thing; solving it is another. Spencer's prescriptions on what to do will rankle some and lead to his further character assassination. He is at his best when calling for the government to impose existing laws – and most gets to the point when he calls for a revival of patriotism, the self-assurance necessary to deny Islamic encroachment, white liberal guilt, and multiculturalist recriminations of the greatest nation in the history of the world. He is at his most questionable in calling on the government to "End Muslim immigration into the United States."
Spencer will be criticized – but not merely for his immigration policy. The same people who denied the Soviet Union's malicious designs now see no worldwide Islamic threat, neither at home nor abroad, violent nor voluntary. The intellectual heirs of those who defended Alger Hiss now bemoan the martyrdom of Sami al-Arian. Yet it is the irreligious and the "progressive" who should be most concerned about the growing influence – of thought, of action, and of silencing their critics – Islamists exert in secular society. Somehow, publications that have commissioned dozens of articles depicting omnipresent "Christian Dominionists" scheming with every school board in America to teach the Bible as literature maintain an agnostic indifference to Shari'a's would-be enforcers, content to shoot the messengers. As Spencer proves, they would be better served casting a critical glance at those whose aim is submission, rather than salvation.
Robert Spencer's Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America Without Guns or Bombs, is available from Amazon.com for $18.45, more than one-third off the cover price.
Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving.