When Spears confuses readers on Taqiyya
By: Elias Bejjani*
Wayne Spears in his article dedicated to the events in Norway, committed an
intellectual fraud inspired by the Jihadist propaganda. He wrote that the well
known scholar Professor Walid Phares has been one of those who developed and
disseminated the so-called "Taqiyya thesis," and went on to describe it "as the
idea that all Muslims are terrorists bent on world domination, required by their
religion to lie about this essential fact." Spears is accusing a scholar of the
opposite of his scholarship, which discredits Spears and harms the credibility
of his piece, initially seeking a good cause. Here is why:
First Professor Phares didn't develop the thesis of Taqiyya, let alone disseminate it. This doctrine existed for centuries and is well known in Arab and Islamic history literature. A simple Google or research in Arabic, and now in all other languages, shows clearly that this concept comes from the Middle ages and it has been discussed and debated by modern scholarship for the last century. Spears unfortunately misleads his readers by claiming that a leading scholar on Jihadism, Professor Walid Phares, is actually the developer of a doctrine that existed for centuries. The claim is so absurd that it should warrant an apology by Mr. Spears to his readers and to Professor Phares.
Second, the explanation provided by Spears of Taqiyya is even more absurd. He claims that it is an "idea that all Muslims are terrorists bent on world domination, required by their religion to lie about this essential fact." Taqiyya was a theological and tactical notion originally invented by Shia to flee the persecution by Sunnis. Where did Spears get his education from? Does he actually know anything about Middle East and Arab history. His sources seem to have fooled him so that in turn he fools his readers and embarrass his publication. There is no source whatsoever on historical Taqiyya that calls on all Muslims to "act like Terrorists" and lie about there goal of world domination. This is an insulting notion advanced by Spears and makes him part of producing Islamophobia. If there is a concept that espouses what Spears is claiming it is precisely the Salafi Jihadi ideology which indeed, according to documents captured and now available online, asks supporters to practice deceit in order to establish the Caliphate. Not only Phares but most national security experts in the West and the in the Muslim world are fully aware of the Jihadi Taqiyya. Hence Phares in his historic book Future Jihad has been a pioneer in identifying the Taqiyya practice by the Jihadists, not by Muslims, as uninformed Spears claims.
Third, Phares has published the only book that predicted the Arab Spring in which he projects that Arab Muslim civil societies are and will be rising against dictatorships in the region. Phares furthermore predicts that Muslim liberals will also rise against the Islamists and the Jihadists. For that reason Phares was targeted by pro-Jihadist lobbies in the West since last year, as a retaliation to his intellectual contribution to the understanding of the massive change taking place in the region. No wonder how propaganda arguments framing Phares into what he isn't, and manufactured by Islamist lobbies are circulated among sympathizers of the Islamists in the West.
The Islamist lobby in North America is attempting to confuse the public by putting two types of literature in one pool to sink one with the other. There are those who believe that all Muslims (one billion) are identical, and follow fundamentalism to the letter, and hence every Muslim is a Taqiyya practioner. This school of thought is prevalent and we often respond to its promoters. But then there are those in the opposite thinking school, like Walid Phares, Bernard Lewis, and most seasoned and learned Western intellectual who clearly knows how to distinguish between the Jihadists and the non Jihadists in the Muslim world. When this school mentions Taqiyya, it clearly underlines that this concept, borrowed from history, is now used by the Jihadists for their terror agenda, not by Muslims. Irony is that Jihadists uses it against other Muslims worldwide. But the Jihadist propaganda in the West, in order to deflect attention from this Terror tactic, adopts a reverse psychology with their public. Islamist groups and their apologists in North America claims that Lewis and Phares, among others are talking about all Muslims when they analyze Taqiyya, while in fact they are clearly pinpointing the Jihadists only. What the propagandists are aiming at, is to discredit all discussion of Taqiyya, so that the Jihadi Taqiyya is safe and operational.
Of course Muslims in general aren't followers of Taqiyya, but of course that Jihadists are practicing it fully. This is why uninformed bloggers like Wayne Spears are acting indirectly as a shield to the Jihadists. For when he lumps Walid Phares the leading expert on Jihadism with those who concentrate on theological issues, he is confusing the public and serving the interests of the Jihadi propaganda machine. Wayne's unintellectual "spear" becomes part of the Jihadi swords aimed at the West and moderate Muslims.
*This above piece was sent to the National Post on April 19/2012
N.B: Click Here To Read Wayne K. Spear on Anders Breivik: Not mad, but
definitely a failure/National post, April 17/12
*Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
*Web sites http://www.10452lccc.com & http://www.clhrf.com
*Mailing phoenicia group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Phoenicia/.
Below is Mr. Spears Response to my above comments
Dear Mr. Bejjani,
Thank-you so much for your thoughtful and fulsome criticism of my Post piece yesterday. You've put effort into writing me, so I think I am obliged to return the favour.
I suspect my actually-held positions have been misconstrued, and I think I can see why. The core of your objection seems to me that I mischaracterize professor Phares. This is a fair criticism, to be sure. I hadn't actually set out to characterize him at all, but the grammar of my introduction of his name suggests otherwise. I only mentioned him in passing, and only in the limited sense that he introduced a concept which was picked up by others and turned into an anti-Islam thesis. (I certainly never even suggested he invented the concept, only ways of applying it.) As you must have noticed the bulk of what I had to say on this matter concerned not his work but Anders Breivik and Serge Trifkovic, both of whom misrepresent taqiyya in exactly the ways you articulate. (I expect you'd agree with that much.)
You ask if I actually know anything about Middle East and Arab history. I would never claim to be an expert on either, but since most Muslims are neither Arab, nor living in the Middle East, I doubt such expertise would suffice even if I indeed had it. In any case, the civil war currently going on across the Muslim world (the better term for the so-called war on terror) matters to me, and I know which side I am on: the side of women's rights, and political freedoms, and human dignity. That is my chief motivation for trying to learn as much as I can about the world. I am well familiar with the history of the term taqiyya, as well as with its uses and abuses within the Muslim world. But I admit I have much to learn, and that I am eager to learn. My critics play an important role here, and I'm glad to have them.
There's nothing particularly special by the way in lying about one's beliefs for the purpose of survival or advantage: human beings have been doing that for centuries. But as you know there is a pernicious effort underway to present the term taqiyya in a way that suggests it is normative behaviour among Muslims – that all Muslims want to impose Sharia, but that they lie when they say they do not. The viral video Three Things About Islam is a case in point of what has been done with this concept: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib9rofXQl6w . Just to be clear, I am aware that Mr. Phares does not consider all Muslims as Jihadists. I do think his work is instrumental to people who do think this way, and that there is an inherent weakness in his approach which led to this.
In my estimation, Jihadi Taqiyya is a highly dubious and dangerous analytic tool. Why? Because it is circular and self-confirming. If I say, "I reject terrorism," I must be guilty by definition because this is exactly what I would say if I practice taqiyya. Think of the awful and impossible position this puts Muslims in. It's been terribly destructive, and has paradoxically led to Muslims in North America as being treated all the same, subject to the same suspicion. I've written more lengthy criticism specific to this approach elsewhere. In retrospect though I probably should have left Walid Phares out, or better yet discussed the place and nature of his contribution, because his contribution as I'm sure you'll agree is very important.
I hope this clarifies the core point you raise. I feel I must stand by the article as a whole, because it states my rejection both of jihadism and the hateful, authoritarian anti-jihadism of Breivik and others who are clearly unable or unwilling to see Muslims as neighbours and friends and fellow citizens and, in short, as human beings.
All the best to you.
-Wayne K. Spear.