The Challenge of Dawa: Political Islam as Ideology and Movement and How to Counter It
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: 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. …
Dawa is to the Islamists of today what the “long march through the institutions” was to twentieth-century Marxists. It is subversion from within—the abuse of religious freedom in order to undermine that very freedom. Another analogy is also possible. After Islamists gain power, dawa is to them what Gleichschaltung 6 (synchronization) of all aspects of German state, civil, and social institutions was to the National Socialists.
There are of course differences. The biggest difference is that dawa is rooted in the Islamic practice of attempting to convert non-Muslims to accept the message of Islam. As it is an ostensibly religious missionary activity, proponents of dawa enjoy a much greater protection by the law in free societies than Marxists or fascists did in the past.
Worse, Islamist groups have enjoyed not just protection but at times official sponsorship from government agencies duped into regarding them as representatives of “moderate Muslims” simply because they do not engage in violence.
All this means that the new administration urgently needs to devise an anti-dawa counterstrategy that employs the full range of tools at our disposal.
The purpose of this report is to suggest the basis for a new anti-dawa strategy, designed to check the advance of political Islam as an ideology and a movement.
- In the first part, I describe the constitution of political Islam: the foundational principles, terminology, and objectives of Islamist ideology.
- In the second part, I analyze the infrastructure of political Islam, in particular the institutions and techniques of dawa.
- In the third part, I propose a number of policies that I believe will, if properly implemented, halt the spread of political Islam in the United States and perhaps also abroad.
The report concludes with a series of detailed policy recommendations, grouped under seven headings. These are summarized in the following pages.