Perhaps one of the most crucial peace proposals of our time was made on Jan. 1, 2015, when Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi challenged leading Sunni jurists and theologians with initiating a reformation of Islam that has not happened in more than 1,400 years. Eventually, such a reformation must include the leading Shiite clerics as well.
President el-Sissi’s dramatic call for an Islamic reformation was a response to the many atrocities committed by the Islamic State (ISIS) against Christians and other minorities, which he thought was giving Islam a “bad” image. He then attended a Coptic Christian service and declared that he would rebuild the churches that were destroyed by the followers of ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood. Some will argue that Islam had a reformation in the 17th century when Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab tried to cleanse Islam and return it to a literal reading of the scriptures and emulate the life of the Prophet Muhammad. That’s how we got Wahhabism (a form of Salafism). It is this so-called pure form of Islam that members of the Islamic State (who are actually Salafis) use to justify their deeds.
On Dec. 28, the Egyptian Embassy press office released a statement based on a Dec. 24 televised speech to Islamic scholars by Mr. el-Sissi on the anniversary of the Prophet Muhammad’s birth, urging them to send Christmas greetings to Christians, and again calling for the reform of Islamic discourse. He went on to state that Islam calls for peaceful unity between different religions and beliefs, and condemns violence. If such a statement were only true.
Such statements are totally inconsistent with the Koran, Shariah law and the hadiths (Myhammad’s sayings and actions). For example, Koran 2:191 compels Muslims to: “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.” Koran 9:5 commands: “When opportunity arises, kill the infidels wherever you catch them.” Koran 3:85 states: “Any religion other than Islam is not acceptable.” Koran 8:12 commands: “Terrorize and behead those who believe in scriptures other than the Koran.” Koran 3:33 orders: “Maim and crucify the infidels if they criticize Islam.” There are many more verses in the Koran and Shariah law calling for the murder and terrorizing of the infidels.
The worst six words George W. Bush ever stated were, “Islam is a religion of peace.” Regretfully, those words continue to be repeated by Western leaders. While Mr. el-Sissi goes on to state that extremists are behind the destruction and deterioration of Islam, this is hard to accept since ISIS et al., base their Islamic legitimacy and justification for their atrocities on the verses quoted above, directly from the Koran and Shariah law.
In spite of what the Koran commands, Mr. el-Sissi goes on to state: “God did not create the world for the Ummah (Arab nation) to be alone or for one community, but for communities. He didn’t create it for one religion, but for religions.” He then goes on to state that freedom of religion is paramount. While these statements are welcomed coming from the president of Egypt and should be incorporated in any reformation of Islam, actual “actions” must be the true litmus test for his declarations. Since his first call on Jan. 1, 2015, for the reformation of Islam and rebuilding destroyed Coptic churches, not “one church” has been rebuilt, nor has there been any movement on the reformation of Islam.
Certainly, this should raise questions about the seriousness of his statements, and whether they are just part of the Koranic version of “taqiyya,” authorized lying to advance the cause of Islam. Mr. el-Sissi goes on to blame the current atrocities on extremists who are behind the destruction and deterioration of Islam, implying that there is a “moderate Islam.”
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects the notion of “moderate Islam.” He maintains that “Islam is Islam.” There are no modifiers, e.g., “moderate” or “radical.” Democracy is the train Muslims ride to achieve their ultimate objective, he argues, which is to make Islam the dominant religion and Shariah the legal Islamic system to replace our Constitution.
What Western leaders have failed to grasp is that Islam is a totalitarian political movement (just like communism), masquerading as a religion, bent on world domination. Until we recognize that unreformed Islam is the main threat, we will not be successful in defeating the enemy. We are in a clash of civilizations. That’s what Sept. 11, 2001, the Charlie Hebdo murders, and the Paris and San Bernardino massacres all symbolize.
To defeat the current threat from Islamic supremacists, the Islamic State and its affiliated entities, they must be militarily defeated and at the same time, discredited by undermining their ideology. In this sense, we need to force Mr. el-Sissi to deliver on his call for the reformation of Islam as well as to mount a modern version of “Radio Free Europe” to expose the incompatibility of seventh century Islam with 21st century customs and traditions. As the noted political scientist Samuel Huntington stated, Islam and Shariah law cannot co-exist with Western culture and traditions.
Our ultimate goals in the chaotic Middle East should be to restore some sense of stability, to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability, and the removal of a corrupt Iranian theocracy.
• James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.