Before authorities subdued him, Islamist fanatic Michael Adebolajo had virtually decapitated British soldier Lee Rigby with a butcher knife on a London street in broad daylight.
But the blood-soaked assailant, a British citizen of Nigerian descent, had a ready explanation: He was only following the dictates of the Koran. On his person, as a matter of fact, he had a piece of paper citing numbered verses, 20-odd Koran passages that had motivated him: 2:216, 4:69-76, 9:51-5, etc.
In reporting the grisly 2013 murder, the media mostly skipped the Koranic stuff. Those news outlets that did mention Adebolajo’s citations dismissed them as his “warped” or “deranged” attempt to justify the assault using the holy book of the “religion of peace.”
But the citations are part of the investigative record. You can look them up. And guess what? Adebolajo wasn’t just hallucinating the inferences he drew from his faith’s holy text.
Most Muslims, thankfully, ignore the Koran’s copious incitements to violence in advancing Islam’s ambitious political and social as well as spiritual agendas.
Many Muslims to their great credit manage to dwell on the positive.
Yet, still, there are Muslims numbering in the millions globally who do take the Koran’s words to heart as a literal call to arms, polling indicates.
Islam’s holy book seethes with denunciations of “the disbelievers” and teems with recommendations for aggressive measures against them. And the Koran itself stresses that it is the direct word of Allah whose message is not — stern warning to reformers — to be fiddled with.
Dip into the Koran randomly at any point. You’ll see for yourself. To a considerable extent it’s an us-against-them text. It’s a text obsessed with “grievous punishment” for “disbelievers.”
There’s “a disease in the heart of disbelievers,” says 2:10, a sentiment echoed throughout the book.
Any who refuse “the covenant of Allah. . .these are the losers,” adds 2:27, also a much-repeated view.
Some passages fairly snarl, for example the one declaring that those who reject Islam “will eat as the beasts eat, and the fire is their abode.”
You can see how the more vociferous critics of Islamism go so far as to label some of the faith’s exhortations as “hate speech.”
“No excuse will be accepted from unbelievers on Judgment Day,” says 16:84.
“And the thunder declares His glory...“ Allah “smites whomever He pleases,” says 13:13.
The Koran is not, by the wildest stretch of the imagination, a liberal text, though there are nevertheless those who are more than eager to declare it so.
When not railing against the iniquity of “disbelievers,” the Koran goes on page after page demanding literal, unquestioned obedience to the commands of Allah. That’s a mindset that would seem to have little prospect of attracting much sympathy among our progressive milieus.
Yet it does.
Certainly if you actually read the book, or even just skim some of it, you’ll come away wondering how in the world President George W. Bush ever managed to liken it to the Sermon on the Mount.
There are, of course, also nasty, internecine passages in the Old Testament. But in today’s secular Europe and America, with their legal separations of church and state, there are few who take the words as a literal battle cry.
There are in Europe and America no Christian or Judaic equivalents of beheading, IED-detonating, butcher knife-wielding, gunshot-spraying, van-ramming organizations on the scale of ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, etc.
Such hellfire fringe Christian groups as do claim a biblical mandate for their own intolerance are relatively minuscule in their numbers. And they have no base of funding such as, say, the petro-kingdoms of the Middle East.
Furthermore, there’s no theocratic Christian equivalent anywhere in the world on the order of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nor any Judaic equivalent.
The constitution of Israel does not call for the destruction of Palestinians. But the constitution of Hamas — the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot based in Palestinian Gaza — does expressly call for the destruction of Israel. And for the elimination of Jews worldwide. (You can look that up, too.)
The butcher-knife-brandishing Adebolago surely didn’t have to sift painstakingly through the Koran to pluck out passages urging violence to advance the cause of Islam.
Islamic “scholars” count such passages to number in the hundreds. (By the inventory of the late Beitullah Mehsud, a Taliban Pakistani hailed as “amir” for killing hundreds of “enemies of Allah,” there are precisely 480 such passages in the holy book.)
Many of these passages jump right out at you, as they surely must also to the hotheads of the faith. For example 8:12: “I will strike terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved...so strike them at the necks and cut off their fingers.”
Or 4:69-76: Let the “martyrs and righteous...fight in the cause of Allah...And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory We will bestow upon him a great reward ...”
Such verbiage isn’t easily reconciled with the revered words of America’s heritage vouching to all the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Adebolago’s bloody deed, and the similar bloody deeds of like-minded others, may be classified as stark raving mad. But it’s hardly madness to note the plain reality that they do find justification in the text of the Koran.
To insist they don’t, against all evidence to the contrary — that’s what’s truly crazy.
Islam will have to make its own way into the modern world. Or else relegate itself to the role of a dreaded ideological pestilence.
If the faith’s bellicose, intolerant and authoritarian streak prevails, Islam will have earned for itself the scorned label of “Islamofascism.”
It’s no help in this challenge to pretend that flagrant, illiberal excesses in the name of the Islam have absolutely no connection to the faith.