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In Some Ways, the Crux of the Matter
The Middle East Quarterly, in an article called "Should Muslims Integrate into the West?" goes to much of my thinking on the crux of the issues between political Islam, espoused by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations-some overtly violent and some not-and the traditional immigration model that the United States and Europe have dealt with for many decades.

Certainly not all Muslims, and perhaps not even most, in this country, subscribe to the theology/ideology of political Islam. By this I mean the espousing the oneness of religion and political life. That is, that _sharia_ law and Muslim precepts are not something that regulates the behavior between an individual and Allah, but something to be imposed by divine writ on all humanity.

One must understand the fundamental principle of political Islam in order to understand its goals. This is often not well articulated, but this article does a good job in laying out the issues.

It is because of these fundamental and irreconcilable differences that the Muslim Brotherhood, its legacy groups in the United States and Europe, and other Islamists, pose a threat to liberal democracies and why they cannot do other than try to destroy the current structures.

The fundamental difference, it seems to me, is well articulated in the article. For the Muslim Brotherhood groups and those allied with them , the article notes, the rules of engagement in the West are as follows:

Regardless of sect, legal school, nationality, or political status, Muslim jurists from Arab countries have reached similar conclusions as to the proper status and role of Muslim emigrants to the West. To ban or ignore mass Muslim migration to the West would only alienate immigrants, they found. Muslim jurists concentrated instead on constructing a legal-religious framework to maintain emigrants' Muslim identities while using the diaspora in the service of Islam.

Their judgment called upon Muslim immigrants in the West to place religious identity above national and ethnic identities and to promote the interests of a global Muslim nation.

The jurists' consensus involved five points: First, a greater Islamic nation exists of which Muslims are members wherever they live. Second, while living in a non-Muslim society is undesirable, it might be legal on an individual basis if the immigrant acts as a model Muslim. Third, it is the duty of a Muslim in the West to reaffirm his religious identity and to distance himself from anything contrary to Islam. Hence, he should help establish and patronize mosques, Muslim schools, cultural centers, and shops. Fourth, Muslims in the West should champion the cause of the Muslim nation in the political as well as the religious sphere, for there should be no distinction between the two. Lastly, Muslims in the West should spread Islam in the declining, spiritual void of Western societies.

It is this concept of a global, super-state of Islam to which one owes one's primary allegiance is radically different from the concept that most immigrant communities. Most came to seek a new life, jobs, opportunity and chance at the American dream The goal was not to remain separate, but to assimilate.

When one of my grandfathers migrated from Syria and the other from Sicily a century ago, they wanted to be an American, and viewed themselves as such.

One did not view himself as a papal emissary with a divine mandate to recreate the Vatican and impose the Holy Roman Empire here. The other did not view himself as responsible for creating anything other than a new life in a new land. Neither viewed themselves as separate from the society to which they chose to migrate.

Contrast this to the Islamist position:

Reaffirmation of Muslim identity involves three duties: First, it mandates unity among Muslims. In his book Islam Behind its Boundaries, Muhammad al-Ghazali, a renowned Egyptian jurist who was in charge of da'wa for Egypt's ministry of awkaf (religious endowments), wrote that "loyalty [should be] to Islam, not to race. The brotherhood of Muslims is the first connection, even if places and times have distanced."

Rather than looking for a new life, the Islamist migration, as articulated by _Ikhwan_ leader Sayyid Qutb, is to send a group of pioneers out into the world, in order to prepare from afar the restitution of true Islamic reign, both in Muslim lands and then the rest of the world. The legacy of this thought is seen by the Muslim Brotherhood organizations in this country and Europe.

That is concept articulated by Qutb is somewhat different from wanting to better one's life and that of one's children.

Until we understand this fundamental difference of purpose, logic and goals, we will have little hope of tackling political Islam in the political arena.
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