The Muslim Brotherhood classifies as one of their great intellectual leaders Imam Mohammed al-Ghazali (1917-1996). He famously decreed that the assassination of the Egyptian Muslim thinker, Farag Foda, was acceptable. In the views of al-Ghazali, Farag Foda was an apostate for defending secular values and human rights. Moreover, al-Ghazali went into an Egyptian court and defended the assassins: "Anyone who openly resisted the full imposition of Islamic law," he said, "was an apostate who should be killed either by the government or by devout individuals." He added: "There is no penalty in Islam to kill the apostate by yourself when the government fails to do so."
In public libraries across Canada (and elsewhere), the books of Imam al-Ghazali are available, along with others that incite hatred, violence and terror, by authors such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Imam Nawawi. There is not a single Arabic language book in a library that I have visited in Ottawa that attacks or criticizes terrorism and violence and hatred.
A copy of One Hundred Questions in Islam by Dr. Muhammad al-Ghazali, found in the Ottawa Public Library. The image at right shows the inside cover of the book, with the Ottawa Public Library Stamp.
The Ottawa Public Library apparently prefers Arabic-language books of this extremist nature and rejects those that advocate resistance to extremism or advocate
s in favour of a modernist Islam.
As an experiment, I donated two books to the Ottawa Public Library. One book was titled The Demise of the State of Brotherhood, released in Egypt in January 2013. At that time, the Muslim Brotherhood was the ruling party (FJP) in Egypt. This book addresses the seriousness of the political and religious project of the Muslim Brotherhood and how it worked to establish a religious and theocratic authoritarian state. This government in Egypt was, for the Muslim Brotherhood, a part of the larger effort to restore the Islamic caliphate project around the world.
The second book was entitled, The Sins of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It was released in 2010 and documented a dialogue conducted by the author with the former Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohammed Mahdi Akef (2006). It was in this dialogue that General Guide Akef made his famous statement "I don't give a damn about Egypt and these people in Egypt." Akef made it clear that his views on the Muslim Brotherhood and its project of recreating a caliphate took precedence over the needs and views of the people of Egypt. The book was threatened with legal action.
Several months after donating the two books to the Ottawa Public Library, there was no response. After inquiring further, they then told me that the books were not acceptable as they did not meet their "selection criteria." The exact statement from library employee was:
"I have contacted my colleagues at the acquisitions department about the books you donated to the library in the past. They no longer have them, which means that when they received them they didn't pass our selection criteria."
How is it possible that books that advocate violence and extremism meet the selection criteria of the Ottawa Public Library, but those that speak out against violence and extremism do not? Those who donated the other books appear to have been Islamists: they donated books that advocate the terrorist discourse. Yet the library selection committee approves of them.
Can Such Books Create Extremism and Terrorism?
The answer in the Islamist case is: Yes. Many books are available in bookstores and libraries which incite violence, such as Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, or books that promote the colonial period of the West. There are also non-Islamic religious books that incite hatred, but these no longer seem to lead others to kill.
Many governments and individuals have apologized for these past crimes. Germany, for example has apologized for the crimes of the Holocaust against the Jews (but not Austria, Hitler's birthplace); the Spanish government has apologized for the expulsion of Muslims from Andalusia, even though they are the descendants of the invading Arabs. (N.B. The Ottawa Public Library does have copies of Mein Kampf available, but it also has books on the Holocaust and a variety of history books on Word War Two.)
With modern extremist Islam, the situation is different. Its past, along with its ideas and bloody history, remain active today and act as an engine to drive reality. The prevailing Islamist culture has not gotten beyond its past: it does not spread a humanist interpretation of Islam or of the texts that are often used to spread hatred, extremism and terrorism. Today's Islamist Muslims have not apologized for the crimes their ancestors, committed when they invaded much of the rest of the world and formed colonial empires. The opposite is true: they seem very proud of this colonial era and frequently refer to the high-water marks of the empires as the "Golden Age of Islam."
ISIS, for example, wants directly to apply what is in the ancient texts and religious history: to restore the face of Islamist colonial empire. They literally apply the texts that incite violence, directly, without any modern re-interpretation. ISIS is the daughter of the traditional Islamic culture that is now found across the Sunni world.
The presence of these Islamic books, and these books alone, in Canada's public libraries, without any others to contradict them, gives them legitimacy. They are seen to represent a certain form of Islam that the government of Canada and the City of Ottawa recognize.
This indicates that there is official support for the extremist and terrorist version of Islam, and at the same time no support for a humanist interpretation of Islam.
Unfortunately, it seems that Canada and the West fight "terrorism" everywhere, but they do not close the factories of extremism and terrorism in their own countries. This view seems to exist not only in public libraries but also in the libraries of many of the mosques, the speeches of many imams, many Islamic schools and in other institutions controlled by the Islamists.
Do the Ghazali Books Support Terrorism?
The Ottawa Public Library has, as noted above, many books by Muhammad al-Ghazali. His ideas are close to those of the Muslim Brotherhood and a lesson in how Muslim extremist and terrorist beliefs are created. Ghazaii, for instance, argues that a place can be considered a "home of peace" [Dar al Islam] when it is ruled by Muslims and the law of Allah and his messenger are applied to all. A place can be considered a "home of war" [Dar al Harb] if the place is inhabited by unbelievers of Islam or those who object to it.
Ghazali also cites the Qur'an specifically saying:
"Let those fight in the cause of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fights in the cause of God, whether he is slain or victorious, soon we shall give him a great reward." -- Surah 4:74
This surah means that those who kill infidels, whether victorious or not, will get a great reward in Jana (paradise). This surah also indicates that if you are a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country, then you are in a state of war against your host country. If you are a Muslim living in a non-Muslim country, then you are living with the enemy.
Hatred of Canada and the West
Ghazali -- apparently forgetting that the Muslims invaded Persia, the Christian Byzantine Empire in Turkey, all of North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Spain and most of eastern Europe -- claims that global colonization (by the West) is rooted on an ongoing deep hatred of Islam, and an enormous desire to destroy it. After weakening the Ottoman Turkish caliphate and having carved up its territory, the West gave it a fatal blow in the wake of the First World War, and wiped out the official presence of Islam in the international field. Ghazali writes on page 221 of One Hundred Questions About Islam that the laws that came out of Western colonialism were created to dominate the Islamic nation militarily and defeat it politically. He characterizes these laws as distorting the face of Islam, and having the goal of destroying the foundations of Islam.
So, a Muslim living in Canada who is exposed to these teachings is led to believe that he or she should hate their new home country. They are led to believe that they belong to another entity (an Islamist caliphate) and that it is their duty to build this caliphate on the ruins of Western civilization.
Most of the Arabic-language books on Islam in the West incite extremism and terrorism. If we are to reject this danger, it is important that libraries and other institutions have books that reject these Islamist views and confront their hatred, extremism and violence.
Saied Shoaaib is a Muslim scholar based in Canada. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
 One Hundred question in Islam, Dr. Muhammad al-Ghazali, Page 349.