We are living in a time when groups of Muslims are engaged in a war against Western civilization. These groups are numerous and widespread, and although they constitute only a sliver of the larger Muslim population, they rely for their strength on a body of belief inspired by mainstream Islamic thought.
These Islamist groups have their differences, but they all agree about one particular tenet of the religion: sharia must achieve world domination. Sharia is the immutable, divinely inspired legal code that the religion of Islam embraces. Even many non-violent Muslims accept the idea that the global destiny for everybody – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – is to be governed according to the principles of sharia law. Virtually all Muslims accept as inevitable that the laws of sharia will eventually achieve global dominance. This is expected to occur under the guidance of a universally recognized caliph who will have absolute authority over its implementation.
Jihadist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and Boko Haram and the many, many others may have lesser agendas that diverge, but on this overarching matter, calling for the imposition of sharia law, they are in solidarity. Just as most believing Christians accept that Christ is the savior and that the judgment day is coming, the bulk of all Muslims accept the premise that ultimately, sharia law will prevail globally under the guidance of the caliphate.
It is, furthermore, mainstream Islamic thought that all believers are obliged to struggle for the achievement of that ideal condition. This struggle is referred to as the lesser jihad, and no Muslim can deny its dogma. Most Muslims give the lesser jihad a low priority in their daily lives, but few are the Muslims who would contend that the lesser jihad has no religious claim.
Sharia law and the caliphate are institutions that most Muslims feel an obligation to accept as expressions of Allah's will. The global imposition of sharia law and the caliphate are not distortions of true Islam; they are mainstream ideals that the religion expects all believers to pursue. Many Muslims secretly admire the jihadists whose personal commitment to establishing sharia under a caliph is glorified by Islam.
The problem for the West is that Muslims view sharia law as the word of Allah, an absolute and uncompromising truth that can never be modified. What makes the problem intractable is that Muslims accept the superiority of sharia law based on its foundation in faith rather than reason. Not only do Muslims believe that law must come from Allah, but they reject out of hand the possibility that the existing laws of sharia can evolve as societal conditions change or that any new legal principle can be entertained if it relies on mere reason.
Compounding the problem for the West is the fact that Muslims believe in the caliphate, an absolutist form of governance in which a single individual exercises authority in the name of Allah – comparable to, but even more absolutist than, the old idea of "divine right of kings." The caliphate is even more absolutist because Muslims know that there can be only one caliph.
There is, in short, an unbridgeable gulf between Islam and the West, a difference founded in principles and therefore a difference that brooks no compromise. Islam and the West are irreconcilable.
The West is being attacked by jihadists – Muslims who view the religious obligation to engage in the lesser jihad as a paramount duty. The groups are many and diverse, but in pursuit of the lesser jihad, they all are united. They wish to see Islamic law imposed everywhere because they believe that it will be good for the world.
Unfortunately, sharia contains a number of laws that contradict fundamental principles of modern Western civilization, one of which is that individuals have the right to free speech (meaningful only when critical things are said). In stark contrast, sharia law stipulates that any criticism of Allah or Muhammad is prohibited and should be punished by death. For everybody, and not just believers, Islam rejects the right of a mere human to engage in such criticism.
Another such principle is that church and state – religion and politics – must be kept separate, and partitioned so effectively that the state (which is responsible for worldly things) cannot interfere in the religious practices of those who follow any particular faith (unless, of course, those practices infringe on the rights of others). Sharia law is adamant that precisely the opposite approach is the only legitimate one: church and state must be combined, with the tenets of Islam guiding the state and not the other way around.
A third modern Western principle is that people have the freedom to believe in whatever they want. Religious freedom means not just no government control; it means no obligation to adhere to any sort of orthodoxy. Sharia law vehemently contradicts this principle: the penalty for apostasy is death, and the price to be paid for failing to accept Islam is death for pagans and second-class citizenship for Christians and Jews.
Finally, Western civilization rests on the idea that government needs to be conducted on the basis of laws enacted by the people and designed using human reason. In opposition to this, Islam teaches that law has been given to humanity by Allah and is not amenable to change. Consequently, law designed using human reason is by definition ungodly.
These four examples highlight the fact that Western law and Islamic law are fundamentally incompatible. When the underlying values of two rival systems are so completely different, it is foolish for either side to even attempt to compromise.
War has been declared on Western civilization by Islamic groups that recognize their own lack of conventional power but believe they can prevail by using terror as a weapon and by relying on the will of Allah. If the West does not resist in this war, Muslims will continue to populate Europe and North America until their numbers permit peaceful seizure of the existing governments there. Until that time, jihadists will continue to commit terrorist acts designed to discourage non-Muslims from speaking freely about Allah, Muhammad, and Islam.
Western beliefs are better than those of Islam. Nonetheless, the West will lose this war and drown in the ocean of history if it does not find the courage to stand up and fight for its superior values.