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The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It

Date Published: 
Tuesday, 21 March, 2017

Author(s):

Summary: 

I argue that the American public urgently needs to be educated about both the ideology of political Islam and the organizational infrastructure called dawa that Islamists use to inspire, indoctrinate, recruit, finance, and mobilize those Muslims whom they win over to their cause.

There is no point in denying that this ideology has its foundation in Islamic doctrine.3 However, “Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Muslims” are distinct concepts. Not all Muslims are Islamists, let alone violent, though all Islamists—including those who use violence—are Muslims. I believe the religion of Islam itself is indeed capable of reformation, if only to distinguish it more clearly from the political ideology of Islamism. But that task of reform can only be carried out by Muslims. Happily, there is a growing number of reformist Muslims. Part of the Trump administration’s strategy must be to support and empower them.

The other part of the strategy requires confronting dawa, a term unfamiliar to Americans. Dawa as practiced by radical Islamists employs a wide range of mechanisms to advance their goal of imposing Islamic law (sharia) on society. This includes proselytizing but extends beyond that.4 In Western countries, dawa aims both to convert non-Muslims to political Islam and to instill Islamist views in existing Muslims.5The ultimate goal of dawa is to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with the rule of sharia law.

Admin: Islam may be reformable although evidence for that happening is rather thin on the ground. What is certain is that the West must not be piggy-in-the-middle whilst various factions of Islam fight about reform.