Islam is a proselytizing faith that calls its followers to spread Islam. Hence, many Muslims have become adept in the techniques of conversion.
In recent years, about 100,000 British citizens have converted to Islam. In France, the number of converts is estimated at 70,000; in Spain, 50,000; and in Germany, about 20,000. It’s likely, however, that these estimates are on the low side—as are the estimates of the number of Muslims living in Western Europe.
A common methodology, as with other faiths, is to seek out the most susceptible—the young, the confused, those who have been scarred by experimentation with drugs and sex. Because of the decline of Christianity in Europe and the resulting anomie, increasing numbers of young people are looking for a sense of structure and purpose—and Islam offers itself as the answer. Islamic proselytizers address the need for authority of the rising number of fatherless children—particularly boys—in Europe and the U.S. As these boys grow up, they tend to be attracted to masculine, even hyper-masculine organizations. They may find what they are looking for in the boy scouts, or in a sports team, or in a street gang—or, as is increasingly the case, in a mosque.
This is not to say that women are less likely to convert. In fact, there are more female than male converts to Islam in Europe. Sometimes these conversions take place as the result of a romance and as a prerequisite for marriage. The promise of marriage and family is often enough of an incentive to conversion for women living in societies where few men seem willing to commit themselves.
Islamic evangelists emphasize the irenic aspects of their faith first in the conversion process. The early peaceful verses in the Koran are cited often to initiates, and the later warlike verses reserved to a later time. Potential convert aren’t informed that according to many Islamic sources, all of the peaceful passages have been abrogated, or cancelled, by the later verses.
Potential converts are offered a version of Islam that makes it look as much like a “religion of peace” as possible. From a Catholic and Christian perspective this incorporates a degree of deception. For example, a bowdlerized version of Muhammad’s “Last Sermon,” which is available on many Muslim websites and which has been incorporated into many Western textbooks, presents Muhammad as a model of enlightened thinking. Here’s a sample: “Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.” The authentic version, however, reads quite differently: “Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons.” The newer, Disneyfied version also conveniently neglects to include the part about the husband’s right to beat his wife.
Unfortunately, the multicultural West has been all too eager to assist in presenting Islam as a “religion of peace.” For example, the majority of high school and college texts that deal with Islam define “jihad” as an “interior spiritual struggle” to achieve personal betterment when, in fact, there is an almost universal consensus among Islamic scholars that jihad is a holy war against unbelievers and infidels. Moreover, in the textbooks, Islam’s bloody conquests of other territories are usually referred to in terms of “expansion.”
Ironically, Christians also have helped to smooth the way for the advance of Islam in the West. In their eagerness to appear tolerant and open, many Christian leaders and educators tend to emphasize the commonalities between Islam and Christianity rather than the profound and irreconcilable differences.
Thus, when Catholic leaders speak about Islam, they usually note that Muslims worship the One God (just like us); honor Mary (just like us); and revere Jesus (just like us). These commonalities are also stressed by Muslim proselytizers as a means of establishing initial rapport with their candidates. What is generally left unsaid is that the Jesus of the Koran is an entirely different person from the Jesus of the Gospels. He appears to have been introduced into the Koran for the sole purpose of refuting the Christian claim that Jesus is the Son of God. The many references to Jesus as the “son of Mary” in the Koran are intended to make the same point. Moreover, according to the Koran and Islamic tradition, the Muslim Jesus will bear witness on the last day against Christians who fail to convert to Islam. The Muslim Jesus has news for Christians, but it’s not good news.
The net result of this emphasis on common ground is that Christians have been lulled into a sense of complacency and are much less aware of the threat from Islam than they should be. When a Christian hears that Muslims worship the same God and honor the same Jesus as he does, he might logically conclude that Islam is, after all, a religion of peace; and that the “handful” of Islamic terrorists must have corrupted or “hijacked” a religion of peace for illegitimate purposes.
But the majority of the evidence says otherwise. Islamic terrorists, as well as aggressive Islamic leaders (Khomeini, Khamenei, Ahmadinejad, Morsi, etc.), seem to be quite thoroughly acquainted with their faith and with what it requires of them. The time that Christians waste in pursuing false hopes of common ground is time that Islamic activists are using to press their agenda. Instead of finding common ground with Islam, Christians will find that they have lost ground—in both the geographical and the cultural sense.
Muslim apologists understand that the common ground thesis lies atop a deep fault line, but Christian leaders seem less aware of this fact. For example, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently sponsored a series of Catholic-Muslim dialogues that culminated in a national plenary at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The talks were sprinkled with the usual multicultural clichés and calls for more dialogue, but the most interesting aspect of the meetings was that in each instance the bishops’ dialogue partners were members of Muslim activist groups that have all been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. One of the counterparts, Sayyid Syeed, is a prominent figure in the Islamic Society of North America—a group that was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive terrorist funding case. One wonders if the bishops are fully aware of who or what they are dealing with. In one address, Father Tom Michel, S.J., asserted that “Muslims must glory in the prophethood of Muhammad and the Qur’anic message that he brought.” Come again? One of the main messages that Muhammad brought was that Christians and Jews must be subjugated to Islam. Does Fr. Michael think Muslims should be encouraged in that direction?
Many scholars of Islam describe it as more of a political ideology than a religion. Others prefer to characterize it as a political religion. In any event, Muslim activists tend to be politically astute and know how to take advantage of the West’s commitment to multiculturalism, tolerance, and diversity.
In the United States, for example, Muslim groups such as the Council for American-Islamic Relations, have managed to paint themselves as civil rights group whose only purpose is to secure social justice for Muslims. This approach plays well with most Americans and has allowed Islamic groups to exert considerable pressure on American institutions such as colleges, courts, and media outlets. Those who resist the agendas of these organizations can be labeled a racist or Islamophobic. Islamic groups are often assisted in making this charge by an ill-informed media.
Because of the West’s accommodative mindset, Islamists have been highly effective in gaining advantages and influencing policies. Although most people think of the Islamic threat in terms of armed jihad, the main threat to the West comes from cultural jihad—the advance of Islam and sharia law through agitation, intimidation, propaganda, lawfare, political activism, and infiltration of key institutions. As I’ve indicated, this type of jihad is all the more likely to succeed in societies that pride themselves on their tolerance and openness to diversity. There is considerable evidence that Muslim Brotherhood organizations have influenced policy in the U.S Department of Justice, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department. For example, all national security agencies in the U.S. have been forced to drop from their training manuals any suggestion that Islam has a tendency to violence. Meanwhile, on college campuses in the U.S., the influx of Saudi money helps to guarantee that students learn only an Islam-friendly version of history and current events. And in politically correct America, few dare to complain about these developments.
Most alarmingly, criticism of Islam is fast becoming a crime in the West. Numerous European citizens have been brought to trial for the crime of denigrating or defaming Islam, and several, like the 1960s film star Brigitte Bardot, have been convicted. In Canada, columnist Mark Steyn was hauled before three human rights commissions for the crime of insulting the feelings of Muslims. In short, the West seems disposed to enforce an Islamic conception of “blasphemy” as opposed to adhering to its own tradition of free speech.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been working for many years in the UN to establish and enforce anti-defamation laws. And for about a year now, the Clinton State Department has worked closely with them toward the same goal. Meanwhile, numerous prominent figures in the EU, in the Obama administration, and in the media have opined that freedom of expression does not protect insults to the feelings of Muslims. We are fast reaching a point where anyone who simply speaks the truth about Islam will pay a high price. Up to now, we have witnessed a slow and steady trend toward Islamization in the West. If the West loses its ability to talk about the threat posed by Islam, we can expect that trend to rapidly accelerate.
William Kilpatrick is the author of a new book entitled ‘Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for The Soul of The West’ available at Ignatius Press.