While the massacre of journalists and cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris may have led to some introspective thinking on the part of liberal editors and media in the democratic West, they still do not seem to understand that the basic problem is not "Islamism" or "extremism" or some fringe group of "Islamists" but Islam itself.
Every atrocity committed by IS or by so-called "lone wolves" in Paris, Boston, Istanbul, Mumbai, London etc have justification in some verse or another of the Koran, which calls for death to infidels, apostates and homosexuals, and is also justified by examples in the life of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
Author and Islam scholar William Kilpatrick wrote in Crisis Online Magazine (30/10/14) :
The biggest obstacle to the modernization of Islam is Muhammad himself. The task of making a man who owned a sword named 'Cleaver of Vertebrae' compatible with the modern world is not an easy one.
Kilpatrick went on to list some of Mohammed's deeds, along with Koran and hadith references:
Mohammed married a six- year old girl and consummated the marriage when she was nine. (Bukhari, 5. 63. 3896) [This is why the marriage age for girls cannot be raised in countries such as Iran and Malaysia and in Iran is being lowered from l0 to 9].
In violation of Arab moral standards Muhammad married his own daughter-in-law. (Koran, 33:37) He ordered the beheading of all the men of the captured Banu Qurayza tribe and the enslavement of the women and children. According to some accounts, between 800 and 900 men and adolescent boys were executed as Muhammad and his child bride looked on. (Ishaq, p. 464)
He sanctioned the rape of women captured by his troops in battle. (Muslim, Vol. 4, No. 1438) After the assault on the Jews of Khaybar, Muhammad ordered that a leader of the tribe, Kinana bin al-Rabi, be tortured until he disclosed the location of the group's treasure. A fire was lit on Kinana's chest but, as he still refused to reveal the secret, Muhammad had him beheaded. Muhammad had promised Kinana's young wife, Safiya, to another Muslim, but, after hearing of her beauty, he went back on his word and took her in "marriage" for himself. By some accounts, this occurred only hours after he dispatched her husband. (Ishaq, p. 515; Bukhari, 1. 8. 367).
Following the massacre at Charlie Hebdo, Breitbart News (USA) reported the comments of Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary who rebuked the concept of free speech. He said:
Contrary to popular misconception, Islam does not mean peace but rather means submission to the commands of Allah alone. Therefore Muslims do not believe in the concept of freedom of expression, as their speech and actions are determined by divine revelation and not based on people's desires.
Although Muslims may not agree about the freedom of expression, even non-Muslims who espouse it say it comes with responsibilities. In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Muslims consider the honour of the Prophet Muhammad to be dearer to them than that of their parents or even themselves. To defend it is considered to be an obligation upon them. The strict punishment if found guilty of this crime under sharia (Islamic law) is capital punishment implemented by an Islamic State. This is because the Messenger Muhammad said, "Whoever insults a Prophet kill him - Anjem [Choudary]
What then is the answer to the problems created by Islam - and it should be noted that the main victims of Islam are Muslims themselves. The edicts of this religion have kept many of them impoverished and illiterate, have deprived their countries of the talents and free endeavours of half their population - women - and have caused internal wars and killing on a mass scale. In a sense infidels, Christians and other minorities are merely collateral damage.
A partial solution comes from a speech given by Egyptian President, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi: "It's inconceivable," said el-Sisi, "that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (Islamic world) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.
Is it possible that 1.6 billion (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants - that is 7 billion - so that they themselves may live? Islam needs a religious revolution.
I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema – Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I'm talking about now. All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it it from a more enlightened perspective.
I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move... because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands.
Three things are notable in this remarkable speech. One, el-Sisi is the leader of Egypt, the most populous Arab Islamic nation, with 5% of the world's Muslims. His speech will have a major impact.
Two, it comes in the wake of the failed "Arab Spring" and the subsequent takeover of a wide swath of the Mideast by the fundamentalist Islamic State and its allies. It suggests there's a growing revulsion at being associated with the beheaders, rapists and torturers who operate under the flag of Islam.
As the British Guardian newspaper notes, "spiraling instability across much of the Arab world" has led to 16.7 million Arab refugees, an unprecedented human tide of misery. These are not happy people, and many will rightly blame their suffering on the Muslim extremists and terrorists who've driven them out.
Three, el-Sisi pointedly made his comments at Al-Azhar - the same Cairo mosque/university that gave birth to the Muslim Brotherhood, and where President Obama in 2009 made a cringe-inducing apology to the Muslim world. The contrast couldn't be sharper.
Nor is al-Sisi alone. Bridget Johnson of the PJ Tatler quotes influential Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghamdi, the former head of Saudi Arabia's religious police at the holy site of Mecca, as saying women shouldn't have to wear the veil and should be able to mix with men, wear makeup and travel to foreign countries without being accompanied by a male.
Such a statement may seem insignificant in the West, but in a country like Saudi Arabia the very idea that women can have their own identity apart from husbands or fathers is revolutionary.
At the United Nations our organisation , Endeavour Forum Inc (an NGO which has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN) battles against the demand by the 57-member nations of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation that there should be universal blasphemy laws to prevent "insults" to the Muslim religion.
In Pakistan. Aisia Bibi has been on death row for five years for the alleged crime of "blasphemy", her death sentence recently confirmed by a high court in Lahore. This is all mainstream Islam, not extremist groups.
Politicians and some Church leaders have mouthed platitudes about Islam being a religion of peace and portraying those who murder in its name as betraying the ideals of Islam. On the contrary it is the extremists who are carrying out the edicts of Islam in regard to insults to their prophet.
It is time to honour those Christian leaders, Cardinal George Pell, Rev. Fred Nile MLC, Rev. Mark Durie, Fr. Paul Stenhouse and Pastor Danny Nalliah, who have had the courage to state that Islam itself is the problem. This is more than newspaper editors and journalists have had the guts to do, but we hope that now that so many more of their own profession have been slaughtered, besides those decapitated by Islamic State, they will stop focusing on imaginary "Islamophobia", will read the Koran and analyse Islam itself. It is not phobic to be afraid of having one's head cut off.
Babette Francis was born in pre-partition India and has lived in Muslim-majority provinces