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A Perversion of Islam?

by Christopher A. Ferrara

A rather strong critic of this column has suggested that I am calling for a "confrontation" with Islam, and that I have confused a "perversion" of Islam by bin Laden with the legitimate Islamic religion.

Wrong on both counts. The Catholic approach to the rise of Islam is, as always, to pray for the conversion of the Muslims. If one wishes to use the word "confrontation," then the confrontation is purely on the spiritual plane. In quoting papal teaching on the "darkness of Islamism" I am therefore referring only to a spiritual confrontation.

However, where the rise of Islam translates into acts of terrorism, the civil authorities have the right and duty to engage in a physical confrontation with the attackers and their sponsors ---if, and only if, such a confrontation would amount to legitimate self-defense. At the battle of Lepanto the choice was clear: the fleets of the Ottoman empire had to be stopped or else Europe would be overrun by Islam. But today, with the advent of worldwide terrorist networks, the options of legitimate self-defense are not as clear at this point in history. My own view is that to assassinate bin Laden is to multiply almost infinitely the risk of untold thousands of deaths from further acts of terrorism in America and other Western nations. For whether my critic understands it or not, what we are witnessing is a religious conflict, and bin Laden is a religious figure.

Don’t take my word for it. Consider a recent article in World Net Daily which cites the testimony of Yossef Bodansky, a world-renowned expert on terrorism. Bodandsky, who served as a terrorism expert for the United States Congress, warns that Osama bin Laden is the "most popular individual in the Muslim world," and that "the West's strategy of destroying him as the key to winning the terror war may be shortsighted." Bodansky, speaking on the Fox News Channel, said that bin Laden, whom he has followed for 25 years, is "influential -- even inspirational -- in much of the Islamic world." Bodansky warns that if the United States succeeds in killing bin Laden "Tens of thousands of others would rise to avenge him."

Quite simply, says Bodansky, "Bin Laden is speaking for them (the Muslim world) more than anyone else to a great extent." Is this some sort of "perversion" of Islam? No, it is Islam in one of its many manifestations. What my critic does not seem to appreciate is that Islam itself is a perversion of religion---a hodgepodge of Judaism, Christianity and assorted heresies concocted by a self-appointed prophet, whose man-made religion has been making war on Christendom for nearly 14 centuries.

This indeed is one reason why in 1925 Pius XI urgently requested that the entire Church pray each year, on the Feast of Christ the King, that Christ would be King of "those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry and Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and the kingdom of God." It is that very darkness which threatens to overshadow us now.