Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?

“Sharia-compliant Islam is ascendant.” So writes the incomparable Andrew C. McCarthy in his foreword to Andrew Bostom’s timely new book, Sharia Versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism. And “Western elites have abandoned the field – or better, put it up for sale to Islamic activists and their apologists.” This leaves Bostom as “one of the precious few who dare” to put their considerable scholarly energies into exposing sharia for what it truly is.

Dr. Andrew Bostom, Associate Professor of Medicine at Rhode Island Hospital, has published articles and commentary on Islam here on FrontPage and in the Washington Times, National Review, American Thinker, and elsewhere in print and online. Bostom is the author of two essential, extraordinary, and meticulously documented works of scholarship, The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History (about which I interviewed him here and here for FrontPage). Now he has built upon and transcended those books with his newest and most important work thus far.

Sharia Versus Freedom is a sobering collection of Bostom’s recent essays elucidating what is arguably the most threatening ideology of our time. His distinctive erudition is on full display in this impossibly encyclopedic work. Allow me to break the book down to present an idea of the depth and breadth of its wide-ranging contents:

To paraphrase Julius Caesar about Gaul, this book is divided into four parts. First comes “Sharia Without Camouflage,” in which Bostom addresses the disturbing global trends of encroaching sharia, thanks in no small part to our academic and media elites’ “mindslaughter,” or willful denial. The trends include attempts to undermine Western systems of legal justice, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s full-court press to get the West to adopt an Islamic blasphemy law, and our own willful blindness to the threat.

The next section is called “Sharia-Compliant Jihad and Jew-Hatred,” which is fairly self-explanatory but also broader than one might expect. It includes compelling chapters with such titles as “Jihad in Europe,” “Hindus, Jews, and Jihad Terror in Mumbai,” “Lara Logan’s Rape and Egyptian Muslim Jew-Hatred,” “Hitler, Jihad, and Nazism,” and “Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America.” In this section Bostom also takes to task such public figures as Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, law professor Alan Dershowitz, and even columnist Charles Krauthammer for their ignorance about Islam. He assaults the myth of Cordoban ecumenism in a chapter about the attempt to raise a mosque near the World Trade Center. He takes on our Afghanistan strategy in “The Postmodern COINage of a Failed Policy,” and even female genital mutilation in Indonesia.

Part 3, “Islam, Sharia, and the Treason of the Intellectuals,” concerns the West’s “moral and intellectual decay, and capitulation to the Ur Fascism of the Islamic Jihad.” Again, there is a broad range of fascinating chapter topics: “Cartoonish Dhimmitude in America,” “Qaradawi, the ‘Arab Spring,’ and the Treason of the Intellectuals,” “Sharia at Harvard?” and “Diversity Perversity,” among many others.

In the fourth and final part, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Sharia?” Bostom writes on such topics as “An Encyclopedic Antidote to Islamic Indoctrination in Public Schools” and “Mosques as Barracks in America.” There are brief chapters on “empowered apostates” Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, on the issue of Osama bin Laden’s sea-burial ceremony, on the First Amendment and sharia in Dearborn. In the fascinating closing chapter, “Whittaker Chambers, Communism, and Islam,” Bostom explores how “Chambers’s witness-martyrdom in the struggle against Communism” can be “applied to the threat of resurgent Islamic totalitarianism,” and the insights we in the West can glean from his apostasy.

Along the way, the book presents us with studies of sharia by leading scholars of Islam; the acknowledgement by academic apologists of contemporary sharia’s global surge; an abundance of recent polling data from Muslim nations and immigrant communities in the West confirming the swelling tide of Islamic law; the assertions of contemporary Muslim intellectuals about the incompatibility of sharia and Western concepts of universal human rights; and the overt dissemination of sharia-based legal systems by authoritative, mainstream Islamic religious and political organizations.

Additional material includes the aforementioned Andrew McCarthy foreword; an interview with Bostom; his own 48-page introduction, in which he addresses “the deleterious legacy of Islamic confusion [that scholar] Bernard Lewis has bequeathed to Western policymaking elites”; and even a 12-page essay on the book’s cover art. The tome closes with a wealth of detailed notes (more than 160 pages worth). Bostom can’t ever be accused of shortchanging his readers.

Open the book to virtually any page, begin reading, and even if you’ve been studying Islamic totalitarianism and keeping abreast of it for years, as most FrontPage readers have, you will learn something new.

Bostom concludes one section of the book by quoting Whittaker Chambers’ famed autobiography about the Red Menace, and highlighting its relevance to the challenge facing us today from Islam: “It is part of the failure of the West,” Chambers begins,

to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and hence their conflict is irrepressible.

After which Bostom asks, “Does twenty-first century America possess Chambers’s moral compass and fortitude to combat the modern scourge of ancient Islamic totalitarianism?”

Good question. The answer, of course, remains to be seen. Meanwhile, arming ourselves with the clear-eyed, irrefutable scholarship of Andrew Bostom’s Sharia Versus Freedom is a necessary step toward fully comprehending the worldwide rise of that modern scourge, and successfully vanquishing it.

(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 11/16/12)