We Will Never Live as Dhimmis: Stealth Cultural Jihad in America

I recently came across the title of an Arabic book, We will never live as Dhimmis (lan naish  zimieen), written by a Lebanese Christian, Amin Naji, in 1979.

A Dhimmi is a Christian or Jew living in a region overrun by Muslim conquest who was accorded a protected status in exchange of a poll tax (Jizya), and allowed to retain his or her original faith.

Lebanon is an example. It was established after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the end of World War I in 1923. Since the majority there were Christians, unlike any other Middle Eastern land, the French mandated a Christian president and commander in chief. Then, on in April 13, 1975, a civil war broke out over the political privileges of Christians and the rights of Lebanese Muslims who had become the majority of the country.

In his book, Naji discusses the destruction of pre-civil war Lebanon by a coalition of Muslim militias and their Palestinian allies. He wrote of violence and annihilation. He also listed one of the tools that had been used, before the war, by Muslim “conquerors.” It is “the Arabization via distorting history, changing the national identity, and destroying culture.” This cultural jihad gets too little attention and is too little understood.

Some U.S. Muslims are applying this basic scheme here. They do not have adequate political control in the U.S. to simply impose a new Islamic culture on our society. But they are infiltrating the culture by claiming that Muslims and Islam have long been central contributors to American governance and culture.

Western audiences often hear these Muslim declarations as an appeal to the wider society to allow Muslims to be real participants in the E Pluribus Unum experiment that is America. We would do well to remind ourselves of the old Arabic proverb about the camel’s nose under the tent.

One egregious example of this groundwork for cultural Jihad appears in the
PBS program “History Detectives. It claims, “When the first Muslims came to the land that would become the United States is unclear. Many historians claim that the earliest Muslims came from the Senegambian region of Africa in the early 14th century. It is believed they were Moors, expelled from Spain, who made their way to the Caribbean and possibly to the Gulf of Mexico.

PBS claims that when Columbus made his journey to the United States, he carried a book written by Portuguese Muslims who had navigated their way to the New World in the 12th century.

Others -- most notably a man named Istafan -- claim there were Muslims who accompanied the Spanish as a guide to the New World in their early 16th century conquest of what became Arizona and New Mexico.

The make-up of the first real wave of Muslims in the United States is clear. They were African slaves of whom ten to fifteen percent were said to be Muslims. It was difficult for them to maintain their religion and many were forcibly converted to Christianity. Any effort to practice Islam and keep the traditional clothing and names alive had to be done in secret.

Edwin's Gaustad, in his nearly encyclopedic book, “A Documentary History of Religion in America to the Civil War” (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2nd edition (April 1993), does not mention any social, cultural, or intellectual contribution from Muslims to early America. Could the absence prove the point?

There are farcical claims that Thomas Jefferson relied on the Quran as a source of inspiration and insight regarding the writing of the American Constitution. One might well find Denise Spellberg’s book Jefferson’s Quran interesting -- though not insightful -- on the matter. However, nowhere in Jefferson's Constitution is there any overt quotation of or allusion to the Quran.

In his book, Jefferson’s War, Joseph Wheelan noted that after Jefferson created an American Navy to combat Muslim pirates in North Africa, and American forces had their first major victory under Lieutenant Andrew Sterett, there was celebration in the United States at the defeat of the Muslim pirates. President Jefferson used the navy and marines to make real progress in defeating what was commonly called “The Terror.” (Wheelan, Joseph, Jefferson’s War, Carroll and Graf Publishing, NY 2003, p. 119)

Nothing in Jefferson’s combat against the Muslim corsairs of North Africa indicates any appreciation of Muslim culture or Islamic approach to governance.

In December 2019, the Muslim American Society (MAS)-Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) held a convention in Chicago - the largest in the nation. At the convention, guest speaker Dalia Moghahed, gave a speech titled “Muslims that Shaped America,” captured on video. She began by responding to a plaintive cry from a Muslim American mother who asked, “What can we do to help our children who face constant verbal attacks, name-calling, insults and micro aggressions at their schools against their identity; only because they are Muslims?’”

Ms. Mogahed said that Muslims need to be given the intellectual tools to confront “the flawed and crooked framework that make up the ideas of Islamophobia.” They are to teach that “their roots as Muslims in this country run deep” and “This is their country, and no one has the right to tell them otherwise” and “no one should be waiting for a welcome to their own house.” Ms. Mogahed also said, “So if someone has a problem with our children being here, then they can go back to where they came from … This is not mere rhetoric, but historical fact.”   

There were Muslims with Christopher Columbus when he landed in the Americas” and “It is important to note that the first country to recognize the United States as an independent nation was Morocco.” She also said, “This is just to lay a framework to challenge the myth that there is an inherent and inevitable conflict between the values of the United States and the values of Muslim societies, civilizations or communities. It is simply not supported by logic or history.” Furthermore, she said, “Estimates range from 10 % to 30% of enslaved Africans brought to the United States were Muslims.”

Ms. Mogahed’s efforts are not sophisticated, but exemplify, at the popular level, the clash between Western open society and Muslim ideology today.

More eloquent and polished Islamist apologists and speakers are preparing their own versions of this Islamic claim. We cannot only worry about violent Jihad, we must recognize and confront the academic effort to lay claim to the United States as a legitimate possession of the House of Islam that is now temporarily controlled by the Kuffar (infidels).

Social and political theorist and philosopher Isaiah Berlin said in his lectures, “the German poet Heine warned the French not to underestimate the power of ideas: philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor's study could destroy a civilization.” (“Two Concepts of Liberty,” “Four Essays on Liberty,” Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1969, p. 120)

To this thought about a professor’s power we must add “or an imam.” Distorting history by inserting Muslim memes into the nation’s historical ethos and shoving pre-Islamic society aside has worked before in Islamic history.

Now, they are applying this ideological approach as an initial blow for the Islamization of our society and to supplant our open society ideals.

Darrell Pack is an Arabist and a Member of the Islamic Reform Forum   

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