The fate of Muslims in their own homeland is not particularly rosier. From one end of the Muslim world to the next, Muslims – in Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in particular – live under tyrannical regimes, ruthless dictators, murderous military juntas, with their most basic civil liberties and human rights denied. In Yemen, they are being slaughtered and subjected to man-made famine by the Saudis and their partners – and if one journalist dared to raise his voice he is chopped up to pieces in his own country’s consulate.
Yes, it is true that there are tyrannies, ruthless dictators, murderous juntas, in so many Muslim countries — Dabashi could have listed several more violence-riven Muslim states (as Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Pakistan) — but what does this Muslim-on-Muslim violence have to do with the Unbelievers? Dabashi doesn’t explain. Does he want to blame us, the Unbelievers in the West, for the rule of the Shi’a mullahs, for the Assad despotism, for the more enlightened despotism of Abdelfattah El-Sisi, for the ruthless Al-Saud family of kleptocrats in Saudi Arabia? Perhaps Dabashi should ask himself what is it about the ideology of Islam that makes its adherents uniquely violent and uniquely impervious to democracy? Could it have something to do with the violence that is everywhere in the Qur’an and the Hadith? There are 109 Qur’anic verses that command Muslims to conduct violent Jihad, to “smite at the necks” of the Unbelievers, to “strike terror” in their hearts. Could the violence of Muslim societies have to do with Muhammad, as the Model of Conduct, who took part himself in dozens of military campaigns and claimed that “I have been made victorious through terror”? There is the ideology of Islam, by which the ruler’s legitimacy depends only on his being a good Muslim; being a despot has never been a disqualification.