UPDATE: Watch Dr Ahmed discuss this article on CNN here
The appalling attacks in Paris last night were, as Francois Hollande said, an act of war. They were Islamism’s declaration of war on free society – but, crucially, they represented something else. An act of war, by Islamists, upon Islam itself.
As Douglas Murray says, it is lazy and wrong to argue that these attacks had nothing to do with Islam. The repugnant creed of the Islamic State is certainly related to Islam - but it is also inimical to Islam. The scenes in Paris will shock Muslims world over; indeed, when we Muslims hear of gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar" before committing the very acts of murder explicitly prohibited by the Koran, our repugnance is joined with a sense of desecration.
To assert that this Islamism is un-Islamic is not a kneejerk response to the atrocities we saw last night, and so many times around the world. It is the only conclusion that can be drawn after serious consideration of its principles. The Damascene Muslim scholar, Bassam Tibi, identifies six tenets of Islamism - all quite new, and none can be honestly described as Islamic.
So this is a new ideology, a form of totalitarianism - and one that has its ideological source not in medieval Islam but 20th century fascism. They dress in the robes of ancient Islam, but the methods and the ideology are terrifyingly modern. The Islamic State, with is easy control of social media, is the most modern incarnation yet.
The Islamic State’s brutality against anyone it encounters - Egyptians, Jordanians, Iraqis or Syrians - has been a reminder to the Muslim world that Islamism is not just directed at westerners. It’s also a reminder of why the animus against Islamism is rising — holding out the prospect of real reform. Crucially, the jihadis are losing the argument. Ten years ago, a Pew poll found that 41 per cent of Pakistani Muslims said that suicide bombings were sometimes justified. Now, it’s down to 3 per cent.
This is the moment for the Islamic world to expose Islamism — but loosening its hold upon our faith falls upon those Muslims who value pluralism and pursue a civilised, enlightened Islam. The reformation many are calling for isn’t needed of Islam, but rather of Muslims — and specifically of Muslim leadership.
So we must name the beast, and do so with conviction. This is not just about weeding out a jihadi menace from Birmingham schools, but about giving millions of Muslims the chance for a peaceful coexistence with the rest of humanity. And it’s about persuading non-Muslims that the Islamists are wrong — that such coexistence is possible.
Muslims are reminded by the Quran that to each people is sent ‘a Law’ and ‘a Way’ and that Muslims should not judge people of other faiths in the light of their own. Instead, the People of the Book must judge themselves by their own revealed texts (‘unto you your religion, and unto me my religion’) as we worship the same God. The Quran teaches that Moses and Aaron are to be revered for their courage in the face of merciless rule. The Torah and the Gospel are to be honoured.
From the Pakistani badlands to the banlieues of Paris, notice must be served to the Islamists: Muslims — that is to say, real Muslims — are coming for you.
This is an updated version of an earlier article.