Considering the legitimate fear that ISIS has already penetrated our unprotected southern border, it’s reasonable to assume that Americans may soon be facing acts of terrorism against soft targets similar to the massacre in Kenya’s Westgate Mall in 2013. Americans can’t count on law enforcement or mall security alone to deal effectively with highly-trained teams of terrorists like the Westgate or Mumbai killers, so we all need to take measures to defend ourselves. Among those measures, should we consider learning how to fake being Muslim?
Recently The Canadian National Post published an article by Afsun Qureshi called “The Muslim Prayer That Might Save Your Life.” In it, Qureshi recalls that during the al Qaeda-linked Westgate attack, the killers quizzed terrified customers about their knowledge of Islam, including verses in the Koran or the name of Mohammad’s mother, for example, or demanded that some recite the shahadah, the Muslim declaration of faith. They did this in order to separate fellow Muslims, whom they spared, from infidel shoppers, whom they slaughtered with less concern than if the victims were livestock. (Similar tactics were carried out by the Mumbai terrorists).
“After that,” Qureshi writes, “many, myself included, wondered: Should we — Muslim or not — learn the basics of Islam and have a read through the Koran? If one of us ever finds herself in a situation similar to that of Westgate Mall victims, could even a rudimentary knowledge of Islam save us?”
Qureshi, who takes the view of many Muslims that the fundamentalists have hijacked her religion, believes this rudimentary knowledge is useful even in less threatening circumstances. She claims that “the odds are that if you are assailed by a radical Islamist in the streets of London or Toronto, it will be with words not bullets. For the sake of intellectual self-protection, it is worth getting up to speed on what these fanatics are so fanatical about.”
Actually, the odds are that if you are assailed by a Muslim fanatic, it will be with bullets, shrapnel, or blades. Intellectual protection is of much less value than Kevlar. However, I fully support the concept of understanding the basics (at the very least) of Islam, and I agree that learning a few key points of theology with which to intellectually disarm Muslim ideologues in a debate can be “a handy tool when it comes to confronting radicals in the realm of ideas.”
Referring to the Showtime TV drama about a former American soldier turned sleeper terrorist, Qureshi says “Some might fear that learning a bit of Islam will lead to a Homeland type situation, with folks going all Brody on us. But I doubt that.” She doesn’t sound too confident. In any case, in extreme circumstances, she believes that knowing a prayer or two might help you deceive attackers into sparing you as a fellow Muslim.
But at what cost? In reciting the shahadah, the speaker bears witness that “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” A person becomes Muslim by reciting the shahadah with a sincere heart in Arabic. Memorizing this and regurgitating it when necessary may or may not be enough to persuade an Islamic butcher to release you, but pretending to be Muslim is a test of your faith as well, because it demands that you deny your true faith, whether it is Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or even atheism or “other.” It puts you in the same spiritually damning position as the apostle Peter, who denied Christ three times in the hours following his Savior’s arrest.
Of course, with a knife to your throat, under that kind of duress, you certainly wouldn’t be declaring your Muslim “faith” with a sincere heart, so theoretically it’s meaningless. Nonetheless, I don’t think most American non-Muslims are comfortable reciting it knowing that it is the principal requirement for conversion to Islam.
But “paramilitary jihadist groups have been growing,” she points out, and “until this fight is over, a little knowledge could go a long way.” True, and again, I’m all for acquiring as much knowledge about jihad as possible. But Qureshi is suggesting you do so not in order to take the fight to the enemy, but to save your butt if you are ever “assailed” by slaughterers who decide to put your fake faith to the test.
I have a family with small children, and if I could save them from certain death or worse by tricking jihadists with a rote recitation of the shahadah, shouldn’t I do it? Even if I were facing the threat alone, shouldn’t I save myself for my family’s sake, for my own sake? After all, Muslims themselves are given a pass for lying to infidels in order to save themselves. Why should non-believers not be granted the same leeway?
Because Americans believe in standing up for our beliefs, not lying and denouncing our faith to save our necks. Give us liberty or give us death. Thanks for the suggestion, Ms. Qureshi, but Americans refuse to accept living in a country in which we might need to learn how to lie about the god we worship, so that if we take our family to the mall, we will all have a better chance of coming home with our heads on our shoulders. Our administration may be full of cowards, liars and Islamic sympathizers, but ISIS will find that American citizens are not cowards. We are not liars. Our faith and freedoms are stronger than your barbarism. And we will not submit.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 9/11/14)