Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

The Devil We Don’t Know:
The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East

By Nonie Darwish.

It isn’t easy to figure out what is really happening in the turmoil of the Middle East. Is the Arab Spring really taking hold, or is it a case of one kind of dictatorship being replaced by another, perhaps a worse one? It’s hard to know amidst the conflicting claims of the various contestants. That’s why this book by Nonie Darwish should be read eagerly by all who look for clarity about one of the most consequential and controversial issues of our time.  

The author  leaves no doubt about her position by beginning her book with this blunt statement: “Revolutions  across the Middle East are rapidly unravelling before our eyes, telling us the sad truth that Islamic uprisings eventually crawl back to where they came from – back to tyranny.” She then spends 225 pages providing the evidence for her position. Why should we believe her?  

Escape from Tyranny

Nonie Darwish speaks from experience, having lived her first 30 years in Egypt as a Muslim. Since 1978 she has lived in America, where she embraced Christianity. You might say that she has had a front row seat on the world-scale struggle between freedom and tyranny.  

Darwish was born into a Muslim family in Egypt where her father was a military officer. He was killed when she was eight years old. She was able to obtain a good education, and became increasingly disconnected from Islam – which she began to see as a fear-driven religion that stifled all true cultural development. She and her husband immigrated to America in 1978, a move she described in her previous book, Now They Call me Infidel, as follows:  

 “During my first two years in America, my sudden exposure to the freedom of religion and social and racial equality in America made me realize to what degree Muslim society oppressed, shamed and manipulated its citizens…. Moving to America was like being catapulted to another time in history. America was not just a place for making money … it was a place for becoming a human being.”   

 Especially after 9/11, Darwish began to speak out publicly about what lies behind that horrendous crime against America. The purpose of The Devil We Don’t Know, she writes, is not “simply … to point out Islam’s failures in order to tear it down.”  First of all, she wants to explain the revolutions in the Middle East and to expose the real Islam for what it is: “a belief system that will inevitably doom those revolutions. Islam and its sharia cannot coexist with freedom and democracy.” 

Darwish writes with candour about growing up in Egypt where she experienced the destructive impact of Islam on every aspect of life, including the most intimate aspects of marriage and family. She explains how and why the Islamic notion of sharia law, which seeks to combine religion and politics, destroys all privacy, individual initiative and trust among people. 

Cries for Help

 Recently, the purging of Christians, Jews and Hindus all over the Middle East has been stepped up, though very few Jews are left. This is not the Arab Spring. Instead, Darwish calls it a “shameful ethnic cleansing” that is now hitting the Coptic Christians with full force.  The elimination of these Christians is in keeping with the commandment given by Muhammad on his deathbed: “Let there not be two religions in Arabia.”  The goal is to turn Egypt into a pure Islamic state like that of Saudi Arabia. 

Darwish points out that many are fearful of the future and would leave the Middle East if they could. Yet the support for Islam is still widespread, as indicated at the time of Osama bin Laden’s death. There was no rejoicing about the death of this mass murderer. On the contrary, there were many eulogies to bin Laden on the Internet at that time. We should not underestimate the support that Islamic leaders enjoy because they are often seen as heroes in the vanguard of Islam. The most popular Arab TV station, Al Jazeera aired a program that was tribute to bin Laden’s life.  

There is much talk about moderate Muslims’ forming a peaceful alternative to the Islamists.  Darwish is not so sure, because she says that there is no such thing as moderate Islamic scriptures that support peace, tolerance, respect for other religions, or loving one’s neighbour.The very few verses of tolerance In the Koran have been annulled by the concept of abrogation.  

Darwish writes that moderation is only in the minds of peaceful Muslims but not in their scriptures, and that is why their position is weak over against the Islamists. She believes that moderates are in denial by creating an image of Islam that does not exist.  She writes: “That is why they expect a positive outcome, and every time a revolution occurs, their hopes are built up, only to be dashed by great disappointment.”  

The Egyptians who understand the real problem do not dare to speak up. Some of them are no longer Muslim believers, and now lead a double life of fear that they would be killed if their apostasy were discovered. Darwish receives many desperate appeals for help. One friend wrote: 

“I feel extremely anxious at the out-of-control situation, the reckless violence that many are fooled into believing is justified. They are asking for renewal of hostilities and war with Israel. I do not believe they even understand the meaning of peace or war or the power of those they want to fight. They do not understand that their true enemy is Islam. Nonie, do you think I have time to escape this mess? I fear I will not leave this country alive.” 

Another apostate told Darwish:  “The situation is borderline mass insanity…. I want out but cannot get a visa to a Western nation. What can I do?” Here is another appeal in which the sense of helplessness and despair comes through very clearly: “Please help me.  I’ve got to get out! I’m a Muslim and I left Islam and please, brothers, help me out from the prison of Pakistan.”  

A House of Cards?

In the  chapter “A Muslim’s Burden,” Darwish lists a number of demands and duties that include the following: vengeance, reforming others rather than oneself, the sin of admitting sin, redemption in Islam, distrust of novelty and the other, criminalization of love and beauty, the duty of protecting Muhammad’s honour. 

Darwish points out that Islam has a built-in tendency of self-destruction, which it tries to prevent by making apostasy (leaving Islam) a crime worthy of death. To expose the misery and suffering, especially of girls and women, under such a system is to invite hatred and being demonized even in the free West. 

Darwish is convinced  that Islam cannot stand the light of truth about its violent history nor about its current efforts to establish a sharia  beachhead by Muslim immigrants in the West.  To succeed in doing so they must manage to persuade people that it is a good thing to forbid anyone from leaving Islam, and that those who do so are committing a crime punishable by death. Or they must hide the truth by deception and doublespeak (taqiyya). 

This is why the Islamic leadership is sending jihadists and Islamists to work among the Muslim immigrants in the West to keep them from assimilating. They push the envelope to see how far the Western countries will bend to meet Muslim demands. The Western leadership is weak and divided with the result that Muslims have been successful in infiltrating all the vital institutions of society, including education and politics, even in the U.S. 

Darwish believes that without expanding into the West, Islam is doomed to die as Muhammad himself feared. She predicts that unless Islam is able to conquer new territories, it will turn in on itself with revolutions, counterrevolutions and assassinations, which is what is happening now. It is like a  Ponzi scheme which must expand to survive.  

 Western democracies have helped to extend the life of jihadist Islam by giving it an enormous degree of tolerance and respect. Will that goodwill prolong the life of Jihadist Islam? That is the question the West must face. Darwish is convinced that the right choice is to reject Islam as it is practised today by containing and discrediting it. But for that to happen, “the West must undo many of its policies toward Islam and Muslim countries.” How likely is that to happen?      

Western Vulnerability

Many in the West are confused about the Arab Spring because they do not understand that in Islam “freedom from oppression” means something quite different than what it means in the West. To many Muslims, especially among its leadership, it means life in the ideal Islamic state under sharia law 

The same problem of understanding key concepts in fundamentally different ways applies to all the other terms such as peace, justice, trust, tolerance, fairness, and kindness. They mean something different in Islam than in our Western way of thinking, because our frame of reference is totally different. In the West there are still traces of Judeo-Christian influence, although that is in serious decline. When a Muslim says that Islam is the solution to all problems, he means what he says in absolute terms. 

To put that negatively: There is no peace, justice, etc. outside of Islam where everything is regulated by what is written in the Koran and the other scriptures of Islam, including the sayings and actions of Muhammad. This conviction is the basis for the merger of religion and politics (mosque and state). In other words, the outcome is a totalitarian state sanctioned by religion. 

Shortly after 9/11, Sheikh Raid Sallah, head of the Islamic movement in Israel, had this to say, “Oh, Peoples of the West…we say to you: We are the masters of the world and we are the repository of all good [in the world], because we are ’the best people, delivered for mankind’” [Koran 3:111]. 

This kind of Islamic supremacism is what feeds all the Islamic revolutions, including the Iranian in 1979 and the Arab Spring of 2011. Begun in high hopes, ending up, as Darwish puts it, “in the same mold of Islamic sharia.”  She thinks that by now people in the West should understand the dynamics of revolutions in the Middle East and the danger that Islam presents to the free world. However, the opposite is true, and she provides a raft and instances in America where the harsh reality of sharia is ignored or whitewashed. 

Islam versus Truth

Darwish is convinced that the biggest enemy of Islam is the truth. In fact, in sharia law lying and slander are encouraged if that is needed to advance the cause of Islam. That is why those who are considered enemies of Islam are portrayed as evil, such as the little and great Satans ( Israel and America). 

She herself has experienced the raw hatred of Islamists for speaking up about the truth of sharia, by being demonized, shouted at, and prevented from speaking at certain venues in America. She writes that America’s freedom has given her the opportunity to discover and publicly proclaim the truth about Islam. Her greatest disappointment is that many Americans are blind to the truth and serve as enablers of  those who want to expand the influence of Islam in America. 

The road to discovering the truth has been hard for Darwish. It led her family in Egypt to completely cut all their ties with her. They broke with her not only because she left Islam, but even more so because she loves the Jewish people and supports the State of Israel. The ultimate act of apostasy in Islam is to “regard Jews as equally human and worthy of love” and to believe “that their culture, their Jerusalem, and their small nation deserve to be preserved.”  

Darwish thinks that the ingrained Jew-hatred in the Muslim world can be traced back to Muhammad’s anger about the Jews’ refusal to become his followers. One of his final instructions before his death was “kill the Jews.”  That’s why sharia and ingrained Jew-hatred are inseparable. This will not change as long as jihad is one of the foundation blocks of Islam.

This is an extraordinarily fine book, written not in anger against all the evil done in the name of Islam but out of love for the author’s estranged family and for those still in bondage to a cruel ideology of power and control. It lets the light of truth shine on a very dark subject that many would rather ignore or cover up with lies.