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August 20, 2006
Robert Spencer
Jihad Watch, Director
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Info: Robert Spencer took part in a documentary that was recently in the theaters called, "Islam: What the West Needs to Know." The documentary discusses the religion of Islam, its main tenants and its relationship with other religions. Mr. Spencer has written several books on Islam.

Uncorrected transcript provided by Morningside Partners.
C-SPAN uses its best efforts to provide accurate transcripts of its programs, but it can not be held liable for mistakes such as omitted words, punctuation, spelling, mistakes that change meaning, etc.
BRIAN LAMB, C-SPAN: Robert Spencer, why did you participate in a documentary called, ”Islam: What the West Needs to Know?”

ROBERT SPENCER, DIRECTOR, JIHAD WATCH: Well the problem that we face with international Jihad terrorism is deeply rooted within Islam. Although there are many officials who are hastening to assure us that the problem with terrorism has nothing to do with Islam at all, the only people that they don’t seem to be able to convince of that are the Muslims themselves, particularly the terrorists who claim to be representing and acting upon the teachings of pure Islam and true Islam.

And it is in the light of that I think that the general public needs to know and it needs to become part of the public debate what is it about Islam that is giving rise to violence and fanaticism and what can we do about it.

LAMB: What’s your own religious background?

SPENCER: My own religious background is that I’m a Melkite Greek Catholic.

LAMB: Practicing where?

SPENCER: I live in New England and I am a practicing member of my church, yes.

LAMB: What does that mean compared to say a Roman Catholic?

SPENCER: Melkite Greek Catholics are an Eastern church very similar to the orthodox churches but in communion with Rome, mostly concentrated in Lebanon and Syria, also in Jordan and the Palestinian territories.

LAMB: What’s your own background as far as country?

SPENCER: Well, I’m an American and my family is from what is now Turkey and actually that is the beginning of my interest in the subject of Islam that my grandparents shortly after World War I were offered the choice of conversion to Islam or exile from the land where they had lived for many hundreds of years – that is my family had lived. And many Christians in that area had lived there.

They were – those chose exile and they came to the United States. They, despite their experiences which involved some violence and some of the – some killings of some of the family members, they were – they spoke in a uniformly positive fashion about life over there and made me become quite fascinated with it such that I took the first opportunity I could when I went to college to read the Koran and to begin studying Islamic theology and history.

LAMB: Where did you to go college?

SPENCER: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

LAMB: What year did you graduate?

SPENCER: 1983 with a B.A. and 1986 with a masters in religion.

LAMB: And you have a Web site …


LAMB: … a couple of them?

SPENCER: JihadWatch.org and there are two daily news sites there, Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch, which are updated daily with news of the international jihad, commentary to help explain what it is that’s going on and how these incidents all fit together, and also the subservience and the institutional oppression of non-Muslims in Islamic societies and women as well.

LAMB: What started our interest in talking to you about this was this ad that was in the Washington Times.


LAMB: And you can see it on your screen and it says, ”Islam: What the West Needs to Know. An examination of Islam violence and the fate of the non-Muslim world.” And then down here it says it’s not rated and this was at the E Street Theater in Washington, no nudity, no obscenity, no explicit violence.

Go back to when you first got involved in it. When did they first talk to you and why did they pick you?

SPENCER: This was several years ago, I think maybe about two years ago. And they called me on the basis of some books that I had written about Islam and jihad terrorism, probably my books, ”Islam Unveiled,” and ”Onward Muslim Soldiers.”

”Islam Unveiled” is a general investigation of the elements of Islam that give rise to fanaticism and violence and ”Onward Muslim Soldiers” is a more in-depth study of the doctrine of jihad and how it is exploited today by terrorists to justify what they’re doing and to recruit and motivate new terrorists.

They had become familiar with those books and called me. I flew out to Los Angeles and taped my segments and that was really my extent of involvement with the project.

LAMB: Did they pay you?

SPENCER: To the best of my knowledge they did, yes, they did actually.

LAMB: And did they tell you what you were walking into when, you know – did you know the other players?

SPENCER: Yes, actually I was familiar with all of them.

LAMB: OK. I want – we’re not going to show the entire documentary. They have given us permission …

SPENCER: Certainly.

LAMB: Quixotic Media is the name of the organization.


LAMB: They’ve given us permission to use excerpts from it.

First, just to set up what it looked like, here – just tiny excerpts of the way – what you see when the documentary opens.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion and the acts of these people are wholly contrary to the teachings of the Koran.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It’s practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends.

Its teachings are good and peaceful. And those who commit evil in the name of Allah blaspheme the name of Allah.

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: No religion condones the murder of innocent men, women and children. But actions were aimed at fanatics and killers who wrap murder in the cloak of righteousness and in so doing profane the great religion in whose name they claim to act.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: This is a war against people who in many ways pervert what Islam stands for. Islam stands for peace and stands for non-violence and he wanted to make that very, very clear.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: I think that the power of this religion and the power of the people in this religion will overcome these evil people who are using this fine religion to do bad things to innocent people.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The true faith of Islam we believe is a religion of peace and we intend to work with them in that regard.

LAMB: So what are you hearing that you want to comment on?

SPENCER: I think that’s all hogwash, I’m sorry to say. Islam is the only religion in the world that has a developed doctrine, theology and legal system that mandates violence against unbelievers and mandates that Muslims must wage war in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic social order all over the world.

Now these things are objectively verifiable facts. Anyone can look at the Koran, anyone can look at the Muslim sources, the Muslim history, Muslim legal texts and so on and find that to be true.

These people, even with all respect, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the President of the United States, the Secretary of State, I would doubt that they have actually studied those things.

Now of course there is a great deal of confusion about these issues. People think if somebody says Islam has a doctrine mandating violence that somehow that means all Muslims are terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, that too is false. Within Islam just as within every religious tradition there’s a spectrum of belief, a spectrum of fervor, a spectrum of understanding. And there are many people who are not aware of these elements of Islamic tradition, don’t pay any attention to them, or if they are aware of them they reject them and they go by the name of Muslim.

This can’t be denied but also the fact that Islam contains elements that can easily be exploited by the terrorists and are exploited by the terrorists who use the elements of the Koran, the Muslim holy book and the hadeeth, the Islam tradition to justify their actions. They can – they are able to present these – their actions as true Islam, as manifestations of genuine Islam on the basis of these texts.

LAMB: The Koran, what do Muslims consider the Koran to be?

SPENCER: The Koran is considered by an orthodox, pious Muslim, Sunni or Shiite as being the copy of – the perfect copy of an eternal book, an eternal and perfect book consisting of the words of Allah himself, the one true god. And this perfect book, the umel qu-tad (ph), the mother of the book, existed forever in heaven and was delivered over a period of 23 years piece by piece to the prophet Muhammad, then protected thereafter from corruption or from confusion or changing of any of the texts or anything of this kind by Allah himself, such that it is still the perfect program for a perfect society constituted according to the laws of Allah.

LAMB: There are over a billion Muslims in the world.


LAMB: Do they all believe what they read in the Koran?

SPENCER: Well, here again, there are Muslims who are very serious about their faith and Muslims who aren’t. And so there are some who do believe what they read in the Koran and others who take various portions of it with less seriousness or they understand it as applying to particular times and places but not to all times and places.

The problem that the world faces and the problem that the Muslim communities of the West face as well as the Muslim communities in the Islamic world face is that the terrorists are taking the teachings of the Koran and the teachings of Islamic theology and law that mandate violence and are running with them. And it is very difficult to formulate a case on – solely on Muslim ground to say that that’s illegitimate.

And so while there are moderate Muslims, the fact that Islam is not moderate makes it very difficult for those moderates to establish any kind of large scale anti-terror effort.

LAMB: We have broken everything up into clips from this movie and they’ve got numbers, so I don’t want our audience to get confused.

I want to show 33 which is the people who are in this movie and there were – I think I counted five people who were talked to. But why don’t we go ahead and run the tape and we’ll see who they are.

And do you know them all?

SPENCER: I know – I know all of them who they are …

LAMB: Who is this?

SPENCER: I know some of the personally.

This is Serge Trifkovic of the – of Chronicles Magazine. He’s the author of a really superb book called. ”Sword of the Prophet,” which came out shortly after 9/11.

This is – or the pioneering scholar of the mistreatment – the institutionalized mistreatment of non-Muslims in Islamic society. And according to Islam law, which is known as dhimmitude – this is Abdullah al-Arabi who is another writer who has published some very useful materials about the nature of Islam.

This is Walid Shoebat who is, of course, the very prominent ex-Palestinian terrorist who converted to Christianity, gave up his terrorism. He tells some quite hair-raising stories about life growing up in that environment.

And that’s me.

LAMB: When you did your recording were they all there?

SPENCER: No. I was there alone. Trifkovic had been in the day before and we all came in separately.

LAMB: Who put this together?

SPENCER: Quixotic Media and they are – I met the two producers who are very nice gentlemen, very competent and professional. And really that’s the extent of my knowledge of them or of the organization.

LAMB: And that is a Mr. Gregory and a Mr. Daly?

SPENCER: Mr. Gregory Davis …

LAMB: I’m sorry, Mr. Gregory Davis …

SPENCER: … and Mr. Bryan Daly …

LAMB: … Bryan Daly.

SPENCER: Yes, that’s correct.

LAMB: And what’s their background and why did you trust them to do a documentary that would be fair to you?

SPENCER: Well, they did manifest a clear understanding of these issues when we conversed about it as we were talking about what would be a good time for me to come out and so on. And so I had the idea that this was not going to be a hatchet job or some kind of an ambush.

At the same time, of course, I’m ready for anything and always happy to take hostile questioning and so I really wouldn’t have minded if it had turned out to be that way.

LAMB: And for the audience that hasn’t seen it, it’s just one talking head after another through out the entire thing …


LAMB: … by and large.

Here is Mr. Trifkovic?

SPENCER: Trifkovic.

LAMB: Trifkovic. Let’s watch.

SERGE TRIFKOVIC: The tendency of Western political leaders to deny the connection between orthodox Islamic mainstream and terrorist violence is replicated in the universities, in the media, wherever you look, both in Western Europe and in North America. The members of the elite class have this tendency to proclaim Islam some mysterious – authentic Islam to be peaceful and to be tolerant and those Muslims prone to violence are proclaimed to be non-representative fringe.

Well, I will really appreciate if people who make such claims could then explain the continuity of violence from the earliest day of Islam – from the earliest days of the prophet and his immediate successes throughout the 13 centuries of recorded history.

LAMB: Do you want to expand?

SPENCER: Oh, he’s absolutely right. The fact is that the jihad terrorists of today point to the example of Muhammad. We recently had this reinforced when there were some jihadist plotters who were arrested and some films came to light of them – rather some Internet posts that they had made in Britain. And one of them invoked the battle of Budder (ph) which is the first great victory of the Muslims led by Muhammad himself, the prophet of Islam, at the time that Islam was just getting established.

And they suggest as he led us to a great victory in those days so we will also fight against the Jews and the other enemies of Islam in our own day.

The prophet Muhammad was a warrior. He fought in 78 battles, 77 were offensive. And he ordered the assassination of his opponents, he gloried in the killing of his enemies. These things are all readily establishable from the Islamic texts.

I’m writing a biography of him right now and I’m working solely from the earliest Islamic texts about his life for this book, ”The Truth about Muhammad.” And it’s very clear that he’s nothing like what people in the West generally think of as a religious leader. He’s not a Jesus figure who says ”love your enemies.” He says – well as the Koran says, ”Muhammad is the apostle of Allah. Those who follow him are merciful to one another but ruthless to the unbelievers.”

LAMB: By the way, we’ll tell our audience that we will have people who are Muslim defining their own religion in this series we’re doing. So the other side will get a chance to have their say so.

Here’s Walid Shoebat from the documentary.

Walid Shoebat: What is the worship of (INAUDIBLE), it’s very clear that when the forbidden months are over kill the people of the book wherever you find them, lay siege for them, lay wait for them, lay ambush for them, kill them wherever you find them.

In fact, I converted to Christianity. Muhammad clearly stated that in the ends of days there will be many who defect from the faith, kill them when you see them wherever you find them. So this is the question that the West needs to understand. What part of kill don’t they understand?

SPENCER: A point of clarity on that, he mentioned the verse of the sword, that’s chapter nine, verse five of the Koran. And he said kill the people of the book wherever you find them. In fact, the verse says, ”kill the unbelievers” (INAUDIBLE), the unbelievers wherever you find them. And this refers – generally is understood to refer to pagans. The people of the book is the way that the Koran refers to Jews and Christians and the book – the same chapter of the Koran in verse 29 does tell Muslims to fight against the Jews and Christians also. But it gives them an additional choice. The choice is not as Mr. Shoebat was saying, convert or die, but rather convert or submit to the Islamic social order.

The verse says, ”Fight against the Jews and Christians until they pay the (INAUDIBLE)” - which is a poll tax based on religion – with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.

LAMB: Here’s a clip from the – just to get the text of it from the documentary.

SPENCER: Oh, you have that, great.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Verily, those who disbelieve in the religion of Islam, the Koran and prophet Muhammad, from among the picture of the scripture, Jews and Christians and (INAUDIBLE), other disbelievers will abide in the fire of hell. They are the worst of creatures.

LAMB: What’s the difference between this and say the Catholic Church that taught that it’s the true church and if you don’t – if you’re not Catholic you may end up not going to heaven?

SPENCER: Well, I don’t think there’s any particular difference in regard to that verse. But I was actually referring to a different verse. That was chapter 98, verse six, which does say that the unbelievers are the vilest of creatures, according to another translation the worst of creatures there.

But in chapter nine, which is generally considered by Islamic theologians to be the last or next to last chapter of the Koran to be revealed – the Koran is not arranged chronologically – and the last is – the last chapter is considered to be the Koran’s last word on these matters and what takes precedence over the rest in orthodox Islamic theology.

That chapter says not just that the unbelievers are going to hell but that Muslims must fight against them to offer them this triple choice of conversion of subjugation as inferiors and very carefully defined circumstances in Islamic law which are – mandate various forms of discrimination and harassment toward non-Muslims. It’s conversion, subjugation, or warfare. These are the three choices to be offered to the non-Muslims or that is to the people of the book, to the Jews and Christians.

To the others, to the Hindus historically it was as Mr. Shoebat was saying, just conversion or death although they were because of – for simply practical reasons later accorded the same second-class status that the Jews and Christians had enjoyed over farther West.

LAMB: What’s your own attitude about the Bible and what Bible do you read?

SPENCER: Well, the Bible is – I’m a Christian and I believe that the Bible is inspired. The Christian understanding of inspiration, particularly for Catholics and I am a Catholic, it is not the same kind of thing as the Muslim idea of inspiration.

The Jewish and Christian traditions have developed interpretative methods whereby they blunt the force of some of the more uncomfortable passages of the Bible so that nobody reads in the Psalms where it says, ”Blessed is the one who takes your babies and strikes them against the rock,” and thinks we should out and bash babies heads in. This has never been something that Jews and – even the most extreme Jewish and Christian groups have ever relied on that kind of Biblical literalism in regard to those kinds of passages.

In Islam, on the other hand, the literalist tradition is paramount. And the understanding that these things are indeed marching orders for all believers is paramount.

So that also there’s a fundamental difference in the fact that there is an open-ended and universal mandate to commit – to commit violence, to wage war against non-believers for believers in the Koran. There is no such universal and open-ended mandate to commit violence in the scriptures, in the Christian or Jewish scriptures.

There are passages that say go and – especially in the Book of Joshua and so on – go and kill everybody in this particular community and that’s interpreted in various ways. It’s never been understood as being an ongoing mandate to violence.

LAMB: You got out of the University of North Carolina in ’83?

SPENCER: Yes, well ’86.

LAMB: ’86. What do you do – how do you make your living?

SPENCER: I write books and I have this Web site JihadWatch.org that is, as far as I know, the only site on or off the Internet where you can find all the jihad news collected together and analyzed everyday.

LAMB: And do you speak?


LAMB: And has there been an increased amount of interest in what you do since 9/11 I guess?

SPENCER: Oh certainly, yes, quite a bit.

LAMB: Where do you live?

SPENCER: I live in a place I know – I call secure undisclosed locationville (ph).

LAMB: Can you give us an idea what part of the country?

SPENCER: Well, it’s in the northern part of the country. I do have death threats and so I try not to be too specific about that.

LAMB: And how do you get the death threats?

SPENCER: Well they come mostly actually they come from Islamic bulletin board sites where they have been speaking about me and about my work. And some of the things – some of the things that they’ve said are quite specifically threatening.

LAMB: Who is – do you know alt.muslim.

SPENCER: Alt.muslim is a generally liberal Muslim site on the Internet.

LAMB: And there’s a man named Zahir Janmohamed?

SPENCER: Yes, him I don’t know.

LAMB: He wrote about – then I’m going to show another clip from Walid Shoebat …


LAMB: He said my favorite commentator – and he’s talking about this documentary – in the film is Walid Shoebat, author of ” Why I Left Jihad.” A native of Palestine, he compares joining a Palestinian terrorist group to rushing a fraternity.

Quote, ”The martyrdom applications were full,” he says. ”We had initiation ceremonies which included killing a Jew,” unquote. ”But his story lacks credibility. Perhaps this is because he seems to eager to denigrate his old self in order to self aggrandize his present post-Islam enlightenment.

In one scene he talks about watching CNN at work during the first Gulf War” – he doesn’t say war but he says first Gulf – ”when he was still a terrorist sympathizer. Watching the TV with my colleagues at work I had to restrain my excitement when I saw the American targets begin hit by Saddam. I would drive” – well, we’re going to show this clip later.

But what do you say to the accusation that, you know, the he doesn’t – he’s not credible?

SPENCER: Well, what’s the real substance there? He’s saying he’s not credible because he doesn’t believe he’s credible because he doesn’t like the stories that he’s telling or doesn’t think that they sound believable.

Well really this is not – he hasn’t brought forth a single shred of evidence that anything said in the whole of his review – which I have read – he doesn’t bring forth the slightest big of evidence that anything we say – any of us say in this documentary is inaccurate. All he does is try to impugn the motives or the competence of the various speakers.

Now this is a very common tactic. I encounter this all the time. Probably about 10 times a day people say you know nothing about Islam, you’re completely ignorant. And yet they cannot put – bring forth even one statement that I have made in any of my books that is inaccurate.

LAMB: Let’s watch Walid Shoebat. This is a two-minute clip.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: And when the sacred months have passed then kill the (INAUDIBLE) unbelievers wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform (INAUDIBLE), the Islamic prayers, and gives a (INAUDIBLE), alms, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is all forgiving, most merciful.

SHOEBAT: Kill them when you see them whenever you find them. This is not a allegoric kill, it’s a literal kill. It’s the killing of (INAUDIBLE), writer for the (INAUDIBLE); it’s the lynching that you see in Ramallah; it’s the killing of over a million Sudanese in Sudan; cutting the hands and the feet from opposite sides.

And here’s the dilemma, the peaceful verse, even the peaceful verse that is quoted even by Bush, the verse goes as follows. ”Whoever kills a life without just cause or for doing mischief in the land, then as he killed the entire earth.”

You find the same verse in the Judeo Biblical tradition. But most Westerners never skip after that verse which makes very clear but as those who do mischief in the land then cut their hands and their feet from opposite sides and crucify them literally. And that’s what you see what happened in Afghanistan, that’s what you see what happened in Sudan. Amount – a huge amount of crucifixions, and killings and beheadings, and amputations, and public assassinations.

They really want to revive Islam as it used to be. This is why they call it Islamic fundamentalism.

SPENCER: He’s absolutely right. See this is a very interesting contrast with the review that you just read. He’s quoting Koran, chapter five, verse 32 and chapter five, verse 33. And he’s showing how terrorists in the world today are using or acting out exactly what they are commanded in those verses.

And all that this reviewer can do is say well he doesn’t – it doesn’t seem to ring true that he praised Allah when he was a terrorist when he heard about killings of Americans. Well, that doesn’t refute the fact that these terrorists are using the Koran to justify what they are doing and this is the great issue that all the Islamic (apologists) in the West are sidestepping and are whitewashing and trying to make sure that Americans don’t know because they don’t evidentially have any program, in fact, for teaching against the jihad ideology in American mosques and schools.

LAMB: What’s been the attitude on the – this is a big term the media toward you? Have they – have you gotten much attention, do they want to talk to you?

SPENCER: Well, I’ll tell you, I have never been on CBS, or NBC, or ABC. I get called by FOX occasionally and I’ve been on some of the others. I’ve been on many radio shows but as far as the television goes or as far the New York Time or Washington Post I don’t exist. And I think that this is an interesting contrast.

It’s not really a liberal or conservative issue either. Some of the leading conservative spokesmen who pride themselves on being politically incorrect have also shown a great unwillingness to deal with these hard issues.

And my last book, ”The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades,” was on the New York Times bestseller list for four months but this was with almost no major media attention.

LAMB: What’s your relationship with Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation?

SPENCER: I’m an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

LAMB: And if my memory serves me right because Paul Weyrich has been here, that both of you are a member of the same religion?

SPENCER: Yes, we’re both Malkite Greek Catholics, that’s correct.

LAMB: And how many Malkite Greek Catholics are there in the United States?

SPENCER: About 25,000.

LAMB: And is there anything strongly different about being a Malkite Greek Catholic than there is about being a Roman Catholic?

SPENCER: The Malkite Greek Catholic Church is a church in communion with Rome and so the faith that it confesses is the same as that of the church of Rome. There’s just some differences in how it’s expressed and how it’s emphasized – various things that are emphasized.

I also think that it’s important that I should say that in this work I do not claim to represent the church in any way.

LAMB: Want to go to our clip nine which is in the documentary and it’s of a young fellow on a – I think he’s a young kid on a call-in show. Let’s watch it and you can explain it.






LAMB: 12 years old …


LAMB: … and he said he memorized the Koran. Is that normal?

SPENCER: Oh yes, absolutely. Children from the very earliest ages begin to memorize the Koran.

LAMB: Every word of it?

SPENCER: Yes. It’s not really actually all that very long. It’s shorter than the New Testament. And that still doesn’t mean – I don’t mean in saying that, however, to detract from the fact that it is a prodigious feat of memorization to memorize it all. But it’s something that has great emphasis in Islamic schools.

LAMB: I think I remember you from the documentary talking about the fact that chapter nine or sura nine (ph) …


LAMB: … is different than the rest.

SPENCER: Yes, it is.

LAMB: And you alluded to earlier that it’s not chronologically written.


LAMB: Explain this – the difference with chapter nine.

SPENCER: Well, there are 114 chapters in the Koran and they are arranged, with the exception of the first which is sort of the Lord’s Prayer from (INAUDIBLE), the second through the 114th are arranged from the longest to the shortest. And it’s on that basis that we refer to this as being the ninth, it’s only the ninth longest roughly.

But in any case, it is the last chronologically. It is the only chapter of the Koran that does not begin ”In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful.”

LAMB: And what does that mean?

SPENCER: (INAUDIBLE). That is generally understood by Islamic theologians as meaning that this is because this is not a chapter of compassion and mercy, this is a chapter of warfare and it is the generally understood to abrogate the – any treaty of peace or any accord that Muslims had with non-believers as dictated by any other part of the book. That now with this at the last, the last – the Koran’s last word on jihad – and again, this is not my opinion, this is the opinion of traditional and mainstream Islamic theologians and chronic commentators such as (Iben Cathier) and others, they say that this is meaning that the posture of Muslims toward non-Muslims forever after throughout history is to be one of warfare in order to establish the hegemony of the Islamic law, Shari’ah.

And that that warfare is certainly carried out by various different means. And it doesn’t mean that every Muslim is going to be trying to kill every other non-Muslim at all times.

But the overall responsibility of the Ummah, of the Islamic community worldwide, is to continue to pursue this war in so far as it is possible in every age in order ultimately to Islamite the world.

LAMB: We’re talking about ”Islam: What the West Needs to Know,” a documentary 98 minutes long. Have you seen it?

SPENCER: Yes, I have.

LAMB: And it started out in the theater here in Washington owned by Mark Cuban called the E Street Landmark Theaters. I think it was also in two other cities. This will air in the middle of August. Why so few theater?

And the DVD is not available for sale yet, I assume it’s going to be at some point. We’re told by the PR person it is.

SPENCER: I think it is going to be.

LAMB: So what’s the plan here and are you concerned at all about the reception it’s going to get?

SPENCER: Well, I’m not really – concerned is perhaps not the word. I’m not really surprised because I’m more surprised when a theater agrees to run it since it goes against the prevailing politically correct sensibilities of our day. And because so many people think that it is some kind of an offense or an act of bigotry or something to speak honestly about what the Islam religion teaches.

Obviously I don’t share that view. I hope that the movie gets wide distribution. I’m not involved with the plans for distribution so I can’t give you specifics on that. I would hope that there will be more cities and more theaters. And I know that the producers are working to that end. But as I say, I am more surprised when somebody runs it than when somebody doesn’t.

LAMB: Our producer asked Mark Cuban in an email how the movie got to his theater and it’s – I just want to read it because I had no idea.

It says, ”I can answer some basic questions for you” – this is to our producer Andrea (Perry). ”One, we were paid to host and screen the movie. Two, we think there is a large enough audience that we can make money from it.” Either one of those and he didn’t say which one it was.

And he said, ”We don’t add any politic perspective or political perspective. We don’t pass judgment on the movie.”

Have you found that things like this or your – even your speaking are hard to get acceptance around the country?

SPENCER: Oh sure, yes.

LAMB: Why now?

SPENCER: Well, there’s a prevailing fog of political correctness over the land that has the power to cloud men’s minds and makes them not see what’s obvious. And this – these issues are – speaking honestly about these issues – the American Muslim advocacy groups have been very skillful in portraying anyone who speaks honestly about these issues as being some kind of a hatemonger.

LAMB: How many Muslims are there in the United States?

SPENCER: That’s a very political question. Some people will tell you as many as seven million, some people will tell you a million-and-a-half. Probably it’s about three million but the numbers do go up and down based on what political point someone is trying to make.

LAMB: Let’s go to Walid Shoebat one more time. By the way, his mother is an American …


LAMB: … and he was born in Bethlehem.


LAMB: Let’s watch more from the documentary.

SHOEBAT: Jihad in Islam means struggle, that’s what the literal meaning of the word struggle. But what the West doesn’t understand is that the hadeeth, the compilation of the traditions of the prophet Muhammad of Islam is almost about 100 hadeeths regarding jihad. And if you look at every single one of them, every single one of them has the sword war or a military effort. And in the end of the expedition, jihad expedition, he said now I resort to the jihad within, the jihad that is within, the self struggle.

And as a matter of fact I had this dialog with a Islamist one. He said, ”Walid, come on, tell the West that jihad means struggle.” I said, ”Yes, it does mean self struggle, you’re right.” Jihad does mean self struggle but do does Mein Kempf. Mein Kempf means my struggle in the same fashion the Islamists look at jihad.

LAMB: Is he comparing Mein Kempf with the Koran?

SPENCER: I think he is.

LAMB: Is that fair?

SPENCER: Well, I think that both can be and have been used as mandates for and blueprints for violent activity. And certainly the Koran differs from Mein Kempf in the respect that it has also been revered as a holy book by people who have not been engaged in violence against their neighbors, particularly in West Africa, and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia over various periods.

And up into the modern period in some of those places we find that Muslims lived peacefully with non-Muslims neighbors and they did not pursue these doctrines of jihad. But because these doctrines of jihad are rooted in the Koran they are – these populations are vulnerable today to recruitment by jihadists from Saudi Arabia, from Iran, from elsewhere who come and say look, we’re representing the fullness and the truth, the purity of Islam. Here is what the Koran actually says, here is what the hadeeth say and so if you want to be a true Muslim you have to wage this violent warfare.

LAMB: Hadeeth is the word of Muhammad?

SPENCER: Hadeeths are collections – the hadeeth is collectively the traditions of the prophet Muhammad. They are his records of his words, of his deeds, of his instructions to his followers on a huge variety of subjects. It’s volumes, after volume, after volume. I have about 30 volumes of it in my office and I don’t have all of it.

LAMB: Where was he born?

SPENCER: Muhammad was born in Mecca in the year 570.

LAMB: In Saudi Arabia.


LAMB: And at the time what was it? It wasn’t Saudi Arabia.

SPENCER: Well, not it was Arabia not Saudi.

LAMB: Just Arabia.


LAMB: And how long did he live?

SPENCER: He lives until 632. He lived to be about 62-63 years old.

LAMB: And what do you think of him?

SPENCER: Well, I think that he was one of the most influential men in history. And he developed a program by which he was able to united the Arabs under his authority and he developed a religion which is held tenaciously by many, many hundreds of millions of people today.

LAMB: So is the Koran the word of God?

SPENCER: I don’t believe it is.

LAMB: No, I mean do Muslims believe it is?

SPENCER: Oh certainly, yes.

LAMB: So it’s right straight from God to Muhammad …

SPENCER: Dictated word for word.

LAMB: … and then …

SPENCER: By God through the angel Gabriel to Muhammad.

LAMB: And then what’s the same thing with the Bible?

SPENCER: The Bible is not the – considered to be dictated word for word. You take the Bible – take the New Testament, for example, and you have the Gospel according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke. There is an understanding that there’s a human element in this and that the inspiration of God is working through the human knowledge which has its limitations such that St. Paul can say that he didn’t baptize anyone, oh yes, he did baptize a couple people and he doesn’t remember if he baptized anybody else. And this is considered to be the word of God but within the human intellectual limits and memory of Paul.

Whereas the Koran is all Allah speaking and every bit of it is considered to be perfect and immutable and applicable for all time unless it is superceded by another portion of the same word of Allah.

LAMB: And Allah means what in what language?

SPENCER: Allah is Arabic for God. It is used – it is a word used for God by Christian – Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews. And so in that sense it’s equivalent to the English word God.

There are some complications to that. There are some indications that the Christians and Jews in Arabia, at least some of them, did not use the word Allah for God before the advent of Islam. The Coptic Christians in Egypt are still reluctant to do so and generally try to avoid it in various ways, refer more often to the Lord. So that the common Arabic phrase, inshallah, if God wills, is used by Muslims and Christians alike although the Copts say inshallrab (ph), if the Lord wills. And this is just an indication perhaps that there is a very strong identification of the word Allah with the God of Islam in the Koran.

LAMB: Going back to this documentary, the public relations people tell us that Bryan Daly went to Boston College and studies history and philosophy and then worked in finance in Manhattan for about five years; that Gregory Davis, the other producer, received his Ph.D. in political science from Stanford. Daly and Davis came out to Southern California about three years ago to found a small production distribution company, Quixotic Media. Their goal to pursue subjects that traditional media would not and we’re also told that they funded this themselves.

SPENCER: OK. I don’t know anything about that.

LAMB: Well you elected (INAUDIBLE) not to know more about it before you participated?

SPENCER: No. I don’t generally subscribe to some sort of hidden-hand conspiracy theories that if this were revealed to have been funded by some group then therefore I am associated with that group. I am associated with what I’ve said and what I’ve written and that’s all.

LAMB: ”Islam: What the West Needs to Know” is their first film by the way. And here is more from the documentary. And this is about, again, about the Koran.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: The apostle said, ”Who will rid me of (INAUDIBLE).” Muhammad bin Maslama, brother of the Bani Abdul Ashal said, ”I will deal with him for you, oh apostle of God. I will kill him.”

The apostle said, ”Do so if you can.”

He said, ”Oh apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.”

The apostle answered, ”Say what you like for you are free in the matter.”

SPENCER: The prophet Muhammad also said war is deceit and therefore we shouldn’t be surprised in the least that there would be some kind of an effort to deceive Westerners about the nature of Islam perpetrated by Muslims themselves and, of course, by their willing allies in the Western world who are so self deceived by multiculturalism and political correctness that they don’t realize that they’re being deceived.

But it is true that as the hadeeth that was read there makes clear that the prophet Muhammad allowed for the telling of lies in warfare and under various other circumstances. The Koran in two places, chapter three, verse 28; and 16 verse 106 allows Muslims to deceive unbelievers in order to strengthen the cause of Islam under various circumstances.

And so deception is rooted in the Islamic tradition also and it historically was more predominant among Shiites to protect themselves from Sunnis, actually from Sunni persecution but it is something that is universally practiced by both Sunnis and Shiites.

LAMB: What’s the main difference between Sunni and Shiite?

SPENCER: This was a split that came about over a dispute over who should succeed Muhammad after he died as the leader of the community, the military, political and religious leader of the community. And it has evolved over the centuries into some very different ways of expressing Islam, of living out one’s Islamic faith.

But generally on the doctrines of jihad, on the doctrines of the necessity to wage war against unbelievers, on that Sunnis and Shiites generally agree.

LAMB: What can you tell us about a couple other people in this – is it Bat Ye’or?

SPENCER: Bat Ye’or, yes.

LAMB: Born in Cairo, Egyptian nationality revoked, arrived in London in 1957 as a stateless refugee, became a British citizen by marriage. We understand she’s Jewish?


LAMB: Is she the only Jewish person on this documentary?

SPENCER: I believe so, yes, now that you mention it.

LAMB: Do you know her?

SPENCER: Yes, I do.

LAMB: And what is – why should we listen to her?

SPENCER: Bat Ye’or is the pioneering scholar of dhimmitude, of the institutionalized discrimination and harassment of non-Muslims under Islamic law. She is the first person to study this as her field and to make it into a field of academic study. Her books are highly recommended and are full – most of them are almost half primary source documents so that one can see the voracity of what she is saying from very ancient texts.

And so this is something that she has opened up that the Middle East studies establishment was afraid or indifferent or unwilling to look at. And she has opened up this study which is a very important field of study particularly in light of the ongoing Islamization (ph) of the societies of Europe nowadays.

LAMB: Let’s listen. She’s number five on our list here of clips and we want to listen to her. It’s a minute – to find out what she was saying in the documentary.

Bat Ye’or: The origins are of course in the Muslim desire to impose all over the world the only religion – the only just religion which is Islam and the suppression of all other religions in order to establish the rule of Allah over the whole earth. This is a religious duty which binds the whole community and which the Muslim community is obliged to impose because they are obliged to obey the order of Allah. And this is the desire of Allah as expressed in the Koran …

SPENCER: She’s absolutely right. This is what I was discussing before that in the Islam legal texts there is a unanimity across the various schools of jurisprudence that it is part of the responsibility of the Ummah to wage war in order to establish, as Bat Ye’or is saying, the hegemony of the rule of Islamic law.

LAMB: But she’s talking about the, you know, Islam being the only religion, the true religion and all that, isn’t it the same thing that the Catholics taught people when they were growing up it’s true religion?

SPENCER: I think that’s probably true. But the difference is that in Catholicism when the – this kind of triumphalism was at its height that it was not considered to be part of an ongoing political mandate to establish the political rule of the church over the world. Certainly there was political action by the church historically and certainly there were Catholic states and so on. But because this was not something that was as deeply rooted in the doctrines of Christianity as it is in Islam the Catholic social order was able to give way to modern secularism, to modern pluralism. And in Islamic context that is extraordinarily much more difficult because of the strong roots of the doctrine and because of the nature of the doctrine as being much more inherently political than Catholic triumphalism ever was.

LAMB: Just quick definitions, the Torah is what?

SPENCER: That’s the first five books of the Old Testament.

LAMB: And the Old Testament is what?

SPENCER: The Old Testament is the Jewish scriptures and also, of course, the first part of the Christian scriptures.

LAMB: Written before the birth of Christ?


LAMB: All of it?


LAMB: And the New Testament is?

SPENCER: The New Testament is the records of Jesus and the early church written by about – completed by about 50 to 60 years after the life of Christ.

LAMB: Earlier I was reading from the review of the movie from alt.muslim …


LAMB: … and we were reading the parts where Walid Shoebat was watching CNN and the things that he said and the private things he’d said in one way and the public things. I’m going to run that clip and get your reaction to that.

SHOEBAT: Well, let’s see, during the Gulf War I used to go to work at an American company. And everybody would be hovering the TV set as soon as there’s a scud missile hitting Rihod (ph) or something like that. And everybody will be distraught, unhappy if a scud lands in the American camp. And I will be standing there right amongst the American employees, oh that’s too bad, you know. Oh, that’s too bad, I’m sorry that, you know, we had loss of life.

And out of frustration from having to keep the truth of what I really felt I would roll down the window on the freeway going home and scream as loud as I can (INAUDIBLE), Allah is great, (INAUDIBLE), because this is the (INAUDIBLE) you do when the enemy is killed, when you win. So if it was a victorious day for Iraqis when they land a scud missile it would be an (INAUDIBLE) on the freeway, I knew nobody could hear me now.

Anyway, I went to my apartment home. The rest of the apartment complex were also Arabs from the Middle East. We’d get together in my apartment, watch the Gulf War and we’d be praising Allah every time it was some incident where Americans got killed. But it wasn’t the same face that we put on when we were in an American environment.

LAMB: The Gulf War was not that long ago. Why did he leave the PLO and become a Christian and then – he’s got his own foundation and he speaks out against all this?

SPENCER: Well obviously he had a change of heart. Now under what circumstances that change of heart came about that’s something you’d have to ask him.

LAMB: In this review of the movie by a gentleman by the name of Zahir Janmohamed, from the Web site alt.muslim.com, he writes this about that particular scene that he saw. ”It’s a visual that just begs comparison to Jim Carey’s driving antics in ’Ace Ventura.’ The question is how do you go from that form of silly zealotry to FOX News Islam basher and Zionist apologist in just 10 years?”

SPENCER: I don’t know but I don’t see anything unbelievable about that at all. People have conversions, people have great changes of heart, great changes of mind. This is not – Walid Shoebat is certainly not the first person of this kind.

I think it’s a little bit naοve of this reviewer to think that such a conversion, such a change of heart and mind would not be possible.

LAMB: He also says in the review, ”The directors believe we have been duped” – meaning the directors of the movie – ”the result is a comically self-righteous 98 minute film that seeks to correct and to warn the West one simple thing, Islam is not what you think.”

SPENCER: Well, Islam is not what you think. Most of the people – you know I talk to officials all the time, I talk to media types all the time, and they are unanimous or virtually unanimous in their certainty that the terrorists are not true Muslims and that Islam is a religion of peace that they are twisting.

Now I’m – it’s to for me or anyone else to say that they are true Muslims but there’s no doubt that they are working from broad traditions within Islam. And as long as Muslims like this reviewer refuse to face that and to take concrete steps to combat that’s going to continue to go on. This is why this question is so urgent.

LAMB: From the documentary they have a clip of a sermon that was given before the Gulf – I mean before the attack in 2003.


LAMB: And it’s (INAUDIBLE) I believe in a mosque and let’s watch it and you’ll – self-explanatory.


LAMB: Why is the hate for Jews so deep that he referred to them apes and pigs?

SPENCER: That’s in the Koran, chapter two, verse 62 to 65; chapter five, verse 59 and 60; chapter seven, verse 166 all say that the Jews are accursed of the law because they broke the Sabbath and he turns them into apes and pigs. This is very common for preachers as we just saw and Muslim preachers all over the world to refer, therefore, to Jews as apes and pigs because this is the mandate of the Koran which also says that they are under the curse of Allah, chapter nine, verse 30.

And so if the Jews are viewed in this way in the Koran the Koran being what it is, being the eternal and immutable word of God then they are still apes and pigs. They are not necessarily physically, obviously, in this way but they are debased human beings. They are portrayed in the Koran as the craftiest and most insidious enemies of the Muslims, the most persistent enemies of the Muslims.

And so this is something that continues to recur throughout history that they continue to view Jews in this way.

LAMB: I want to run clip number 28 and this is about cutting off the hands and the feet. It’s a short one and we don’t have a lot of time left so we’ll try to recap some of this.

UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: Compense (ph) of those who wage war against Allah and his messenger and do mischief is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world and a great torment is theirs in the hereafter.

The profit cut off the hands and feet of the men belonging to the tribe of Virina (ph) and did not cauterize their bleeding limbs until they died.

SPENCER: So staked them out in the desert.

LAMB: I mean before that let me just ask you about the artwork there that showed a graphic or painting of what looked like to be Muhammad. Why no head?

SPENCER: Oh, because he cannot be depicted of course. That was one of the reasons why those cartoons from Denmark were so offensive. Not because they were offensive in themselves but simply because they pictured the prophet who must not be pictured.

LAMB: And you were starting to say about this …

SPENCER: Yes, that the …

LAMB: … quote.

SPENCER: … prophet at this incident that is referred to in this hadeeth he also ordered that they be staked out in the desert and their pleas for water be ignored until they died. He was obviously very upset with them.

But this indicates, you know, this cutting off of the hands and the feet that this is not a spiritual warfare that the Koran is talking about but very, very physical understanding of what jihad is and how one is to deal with the enemy. You can’t spiritualize – spiritually cut off the hands and the feet of the enemy, this is a physical thing.

LAMB: You’ve been living and breathing and talking about Islam and Muslims for 20 years.


LAMB: What’s it done to your own thinking and your own religion?

SPENCER: Well, I think that actually the more that I’ve studied the religion of Islam the more convinced I’ve become of the truth of Christianity actually because there are many people who content that the figure of Christ as depicted in the New Testament is substantially mythologized and sanitized by his followers.

But in studying the Islamic text about Muhammad I see that the followers don’t necessarily have any mandate to sanitize the figure of the founder at all. Muhammad is portrayed unapologetically and celebrated as a warrior, as a brutal warrior, and as a conqueror and so on.

And that made me come to realize actually that when it came to the Christian texts that probably they would have acted the same way in not sanitizing the example of the founder but taking it to be normative and that made me only more impressed with the figure of Christ as in the Gospels.

LAMB: Do you ever debate Muslims …

SPENCER: Certainly.

LAMB: … in public on this? And is any – or any of them reluctant to debate you on this?

SPENCER: I think so, yes. I’ve had several pull out actually when they heard that I was on the opposite side.

LAMB: Why is that?

SPENCER: Well, I think that they don’t want to confront someone who is aware of what the Koran teaches and what the Islamic texts teach.

LAMB: One last clip from the documentary with Walid Shoebat.

SHOEBAT: Islam is not a religion for personal use. Islam is shari Allah (ph). Islam is a form of government to the world first then to a personal application. It is not just how you pray or you pray towards Mecca, it’s how you dress. You dress in Arab culture. You speak Arabic. You can’t go to heaven unless you pray in Arabic. You can’t read the Koran in English and expect to get good deeds to go to heaven. You read the Koran in Arabic. It becomes an imperialistic system that everybody now must speak Arabic, think Arabic, practice the religion in Arabic. It’s a form of law not just in how you eat but how you get married, how you deal with your government, how you deal with your military, how you deal with the youth, how you deal with women, every aspect of your life become Islam, everything is Islam.

LAMB: If he is right, what’s it mean in your opinion for the future?

SPENCER: Well, I think we have to confront it. He is right. It is very Arabic system and it’s an Arabic Koran and so on. I have a Pakistani Muslim friend who told me that he had memorized large sections of the Koran and he was very proud of that. And one day he intended to get a translation to find out what it meant. He had just memorized syllables. He was absolutely serious.

And it is also, as Walid said, a program for every aspect of life. There are Islamic laws – rules for the most minute elements of personal individual behavior as well as for the governance of states, all of it – all of which is considered to be the law of Allah.

This is something that the Western world needs to be aware of because it is such a strong motivating factor in what is known as terrorism. And the sooner that we acknowledge that what we are facing is actually a global jihad effort to establish the hegemony of the Islamic law the more effectively we will be able to combat it.

LAMB: We have the actual credit list in the documentary itself we’re going to put on the screen so people can see the names and they include two names that we mentioned earlier, Gregory M. Davis and Bryan Daly. ”Islam: What the West Needs to Know,” expected to be out on DVD in the fall.

And we thank you, Robert Spencer, very much for joining us.

SPENCER: Thank you.


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