Sure, some Muslims do. However, some Christians do too. Last I checked, Vladimir Putin, a Christian who has the Russian Orthodox Church behind him, was interfering in the Ukraine, sending Russian aircraft into NATO airspace, attacking American allies in Syria and subverting the European Union by supporting far-right groups. There’s no plausible way to answer questions about what all Muslims want. They want very different things. Sometimes contradictory.
But what about American Muslims—do you want to conquer America?
We already have. Americans at large elected Barack Obama, a Muslim; since then, we’ve run the world’s most powerful nation for nearly eight years now. Incidentally however there’s been no move to impose Shari’ah, unless you want to call marriage equality some kind of Islamist plot, though most conservative Muslims disapprove of gay marriage, and radicals reject homosexuality entirely, but—
So you admit Barack Obama is a Muslim?
Oh, absolutely. In fact, everyone who claims not to be Muslim is secretly Muslim. The only Muslims who aren’t actually Muslims are the ones who say they’re Muslim, because what kind of jihad would be waging if we were being honest?
Isn’t that “taqiyya”?
It is! Muslims are allowed by their religion to lie under extreme circumstances. I should point out that Muslims also disagree about their religion, and that many don’t follow what they think their religion says—
So you admit Muslims are okay with lying?
Not only that. I’m lying to you right now.
Wait… Are you lying about taqiyya?
Yes. In contrast to other moral philosophies, ethical systems, religions, or group of peoples in the world, some Muslims lie—and believe it’s okay to lie—when circumstances demand it.
Can you give us some examples?
One time, I was in a job interview, and my interviewer asked me, what do you think about Pakistan? The job, just to be clear, was in national security, so it was a pertinent question, and not racist in the way these questions you’re asking me are. I had no idea what the interviewer’s specific politics or positions were on a subject as complex on Pakistan, so I thought it would be clever to smile and say, “It’s a hard country,” paraphrasing the subtitle of a recent book by Anatol Lieven. My interviewer assumed I’d read the book, which was a recent, major title in the field and rather well-received, and through this got a sufficient sense of my politics. Or my ability to think on my feet. I did not disabuse him of any judgment on my progress through my reading list. So maybe I had hinted at a conclusion he might have drawn it, but it’s not like I’d said I’d read the book when I hadn’t.
So you’re saying you’d lie to achieve power?
Not only power, but health benefits, a pension plan, hell just subsidized transportation or a weekly MetroCard. I’ve lied on several other recent occasions, too. Also to achieve, or at least maintain, the power I enjoy in my everyday life. “No, you look good in that.” “Sure, let’s watch this movie.” “Hey the trains are down, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it in time, can we reschedule?”
I feel like you’re not being serious.
You’re right. I apologize. There are Muslims who lie about their identity in order to achieve power. This is completely unheard of anywhere else in the world, which is why government agencies never lie to us about why they’re doing, or employees pretend like they like their bosses. But it makes sense to focus on Muslim instances of universal behavior and pretend they’re different just because a creepy sounding Arabic word is employed.
Well isn’t the Muslim world different from the rest of the world?
How do you mean?
Why can’t women drive in Saudi Arabia?
Why is America the only developed country that is armed to the teeth, and resists any kind of gun registry? That strikes me as vaguely ludicrous.
I don’t see what one has to do with the other.
I wouldn’t think you’d be able to.
Is that because I’m not Muslim?
It’s because you’re not smart.
Don’t you think that’s rude?
Did you want me to be honest, or practice taqiyya?
I mean, if you want me to impose Shariah on you, I can. But if you’re going to get offended, it’s going to be unpleasant.
Are you threatening me?
Not so much threatening as mocking.
This isn’t funny. We’re talking about serious problems, like terrorism.
You don’t know what terrorism is?
Well, sure—it’s when Muslims kill people for jihad.
That’s your definition of terrorism?
Well, yeah. Do you have a better one?
I can’t think of a better one.
Well, good. Now we’re getting somewhere. Why don’t more Muslims condemn terrorism?
We really think it’s in our interest to allow extremists to ruin the name of our religion, pursue actions that jeopardize our rights, freedoms and sovereignty, and, oh, we’re totally cool with crazy fundamentalists killing huge numbers of us, undermining our countries, crushing democracy movements, executing dissidents and targeting us for ruin. It’s part of the same sophisticated strategy that saw us force our fellow Americans to elect a secretly Muslim President who never closed Guantanamo, made a mess of Libya, continues drone strikes and has no idea how to stop the bloodiest war in the Muslim world, the civil strife ruining Syria, but otherwise fulfills all our ambitions. As you can see, we’ve got everything worked out.
Editor’s Note: Haroon Moghul is the author of “The Order of Light” and “My First Police State.” His memoir, “How to be Muslim”, is due in 2016. He’s a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, formerly a Fellow at the New America Foundation and the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, and a member of the Multicultural Audience Development Initiative at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Connect with Haroon on twitter @hsmoghul. The views expressed here are his own.