Clad in her trademark butch safari suits (one khaki; another red), Christiane Amanpour, CNN’s chief international correspondent, took off “in the footsteps of Bin Laden.” In the eponymous documentary, Amanpour proves to be a good track dog, digging up everything from bin Laden’s English teacher in Saudi Arabia, circa 1968, to the minutes of the first al-Qaida meetings.
A trailblazer she is not. “In the Footsteps of Bin Laden” is ultimately a dhimmi documentary. Amanpour cleaves dogmatically to the permissible narrative: bin Laden has hijacked, not heeded, Islam. Whenever a Muslim commits odious acts in the name of his faith, these must be deemed—post haste and post hoc—a manifestation of the inauthentic Islam.
As Amanpour and her experts have it, there is nothing in the faith Alexis de Tocqueville reviled as “the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world” that could hothouse the likes of bin Laden. De Tocqueville had the finest and fairest mind. He had “studied the Qur’an a great deal,” and “came away from that study with the conviction that”:
[B]y and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad… and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.
Amanpour’s snow job gets off to a good start. She notes bin Laden was “the only child his mother had with Mohammad bin Laden before they divorced.” Bin Laden senior “had many wives, about 20 all tolled [sic], repeatedly divorcing and re-marrying” (emphasis added). Divorce based on irreconcilable differences, maybe? Not a chance. In Islam, women live or die by a man’s whim, to whose basest instincts Islamic jurisprudence is exquisitely tailored. What Amanpour dignifies with the divorce designation is really a legally enforced, involuntary polygamy that sees a wife replaced or rotated at a pace commensurate with the rapacity of her overlord’s libido.
Papa bin Laden followed in the footsteps of the Prophet Mohammad, not only in his voracious appetite (and enmity) for women, but in his love of “alarmingly young wives.” Mohammad married Aisha when she was six, consummating the union when the girl was nine (and he 54). The Qur’an says it’s kosher (Qur’an 65:4).
Extreme devotion to various faiths, depending on their teachings, will lead devotees in a certain direction: a Buddhist into a monastic life of meditation and moral improvement (murder is out, not even if Gautama Buddha is maligned); a Jew to a Yeshiva; and a Christian on a mission of mercy to the Sudan.
As a dreadfully devout Muslim, it was not unnatural for bin Laden to have progressed to Jihad. It’s “the highest duty of Muslims,” exhorted to in “over a hundred verses in the Qur’an,” writes the heroic Robert Spencer in “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).” “When a Muslim asked [Mohammad] to name the ‘best deed’ one could do…the Prophet responded, ‘To participate in Jihad in Allah’s Cause.'”
Islamic literalism has ensured that no reformation is yet in the offing. Yet to Amanpour, “it is something of a mystery why [bin Laden] was drawn to such rigid religious beliefs.” Perplexed, she ponders: “how did Osama bin Laden’s love of God become a mission to kill?” Our Ulama (scholar) then promptly answers: bin Laden’s peerless pursuits are utterly idiosyncratic—his own “ultra strict interpretation of the holy Koran.”
His own and Syyid Qutb’s of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Amanpour relates how bin Laden was swept up in a religious movement known as “Sawa,” the Islamic awakening. Qutb’s 1964 book, “Milestones,” was particularly pivotal in bin Laden’s “awakening.” Amanpour claims the book “challenges the long accepted belief that holy war should only be waged in response to an attack. Qutb justifies something new,” asserts Amanpour: “holy war that attacks the enemy first.”
Bin laden is “armed with a radical, new ideology”—that’s the theme that runs through the documentary. So how spanking new is the aggressive-jihad imperative?
Over 600 years old, at least, says Spencer:
“In ‘Milestones,’ Qutb endorses the Qur’anic exegesis of the medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292-1350). Qutb writes: ‘[A]ccording to the explanation by Imam Ibn Qayyim, the Muslims were first restrained from fighting; then they were permitted to fight; then they were commanded to fight against the aggressors; and finally they were commanded to fight against all the polytheists.’ It’s hard to see how Amanpour could have gotten the idea that by advancing an exposition of the Qur’an that was over 600 years old (and Ibn Qayyim did not originate it either), Qutb was justifying ‘something new,'” Spencer told me.
Ibn Qayyim’s gradualism parallels the progression in the Qur’an—and is embodied by the Prophet’s path. Mohammad went from plain preaching to raging against those who mocked his prophetic claims (his tribe, the Quraysh, as well as the Jews and Christians), graduating to Allah-“ordained” looting and liquidating. Once he arrived at th
is pinnacle, Mohammad never looked back. Since earlier Qur’anic edicts are abrogated in Islamic law in favor of later edicts, aggressively spreading Islam is also state-of-the-art Islam.
Islam à la Amanpour—now that’s another matter entirely.
©2006 By Ilana Mercer