Sunday, July 02, 2006

JihadWatch.com and anti-Muslim bigotry

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.com replies to my reply.

First of all, a small matter of elucidating something in my Reason column. Spencer writes:

Actually, it doesn't make the slightest difference to anything whether Young or I know more about Islamic teachings and history. She asserted in Reason magazine that I don't know anything more about Islam than she does; I don't know where she got that idea, but ultimately it's irrelevant.

I assume he is referring to this passage:

I’m not an expert on Islamic teachings. Then again, neither are the people convinced that Islam is a violent death cult.

This is where I need to perform a mea culpa. I should have, of course, said "most of the people." Rober Spencer, author of a book called The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, undoubtedly has more knowledge of the subject than I do. Just as clearly, a lot of people who have at least as much knowlege of the subject as Robert Spencer does, or more, radically disagree with his interpretations.

On the subject of Oriana Fallaci's preoccupation with Somali street vendors in Italy, and her failure to distinguish between those vendors and Islamic terrorists, Spencer asks if I think it's inconceivable that jihadist terrorists could be recruited among Somali street vendors. Of course I don't think so. I do, however, think it's absurd to excoriate those vendors, as Spencer does, for failing to "make any serious attempt to root jihad terrorists out of their ranks" (a task that the average immigrant surely doesn't have the time, the resources, or for that matter the guts to undertake).

I will also reiterate what I said before, and what no less an anti-Jihadist than Christopher Hitchens has said: the tone of Fallaci's writings often makes one suspect that she is using concerns about terrorism as an excuse for classic prejudice against filthy, smelly, bug-infested, disease-ridden, uncontrollably breeding aliens. Her obsession with public urination by Muslim immigrants is a case in point. It's an obsession, by the way, that Spencer continues to defend.

Noting my comment that such behavior is by no means limited to Muslims, Spencer writes:

Here Young veers sharply toward the ridiculous. Does the existence of public urination among non-Muslims somehow mean that public urination by Muslims is not ever and cannot be an expression of contempt for infidel society? Even when that urination targets landmarks of that society, as Fallaci has documented?

I'll leave it to the reader to decide who is veering toward the ridiculous. Spencer's "logic" seems to be that even if Muslims and non-Muslims are equally likely to pee in public places, when Muslims do it it's different and hostile toward "infidel society." And the evidence is .... ? (By the way, ranting is not quite the same thing as documenting.) I could just as "logically" argue that Robert Spencer is attacking me because I am a woman, and just because he is equally likely to criticize male writers who express views similar to mine does not mean that his criticism of female writers is not and cannot be an expression of misogyny. (Just to make myself perfectly clear, I am making no such argument, only offering it as a parallel to Spencer's peculiar logic.)

Spencer also disputes my claim that JihadWatch has labeled Bernard Lewis, the eminent historian of Islam who warned about the danger of Islamic radicalism all the way back in 1990, a "dhimmi." He says that the article I linked does not support such a claim. Never mind that it appeared in the "Dhimmi Watch" section of the site.

Finally, Spencer takes issue with this passage:

...honesty about the harsher and darker aspects of Islam and Islamic history is not the same as tarring all of Islam with the same brush and denying that the moderate strands even exist.

Spencer calls this a "little calumny," and asserts that he does, in fact, acknowledge the existence of moderate Muslims and moderate strands of Islam. As an example, he cites this item, about a Muslim named Souleiman Ghali who has been fighting a battle against more hardline Muslims in San Francisco (and has lost some court battles when a radical imam accused him of wrongful discharge). All right then, a few questions: Does Spencer believe, as his website argues, that a moderate Muslim like Ghali is still a danger to the West because he has not renounced Islam and because his children may yet revert to a more militant form of it? Had he pointed out the existence of Muslims like Ghali to his friend Oriana Fallaci, who is very vocal in her assertion that there is no such thing as moderate Islam, there is only one Islam? Does he find it troubling that on his own site, the commenters on the item about Ghali put the word "moderate" in scare quotes and argue that Ghali needs to convert to another religion?

Spencer links to several other items in which he discusses moderate Muslims. The first two are attacks on moderate Muslims. The third asserts that while there are some moderate Muslims, they are not true Muslims at all because the essence of Islam is militant, and all attempts to reform Islam are quixotic. Indeed, Spencer specifically states:

Some analysts have maintained that to note the existence of moderate Muslims is to assume the existence also of moderate Islam, but there is no reason why this must be the case, and the analysis itself betrays an awareness of the contents of the texts without a concomitant awareness of the realities of Islamic history and culture.

Yet, in response to my assertion that he does not recognize the existence of moderate Islam, he points to an item in which he mentions a moderate Muslim.

Sleight of hand, anyone?

A recent JihadWatch item castigates Judea Pearl, father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, for his public objection to depictions of Islam as uniformly violent. Writes Spencer, citing a newspaper account by Rabbi Julius Stein of a public speech by Islam critic Wafa Sultan:

In it, I was sorry to see, Stein notes that Judea Pearl, with whom I have had several discussions about the Qur'an and Islam, said that he understood that the Qur'an "also included 'verses of peace' that proponents of Islam uphold as the religion's true intent. The Koran's verses on war and brutality, Pearl contended, were 'cultural baggage,' as are similar verses in the Torah."

In response, Spencer points to an article by Andrew Bostom on FrontPage.com:

The comparison was naïve, if not absurd.

Naïve because the Koran’s “verses of peace”, frequently cited by both Muslim and non-Muslim apologists, most notably verse 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion”, were all abrogated by the so-called verses of the sword. These abrogating verses of the sword recommend beheading or otherwise murdering and mutilating non-Muslims, and Muslim apostates. According to classical Muslim Koranic commentators verse 9:5 (perhaps the most infamous verse of the sword), “Slay the idolators wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush…”, for example, cancels 124 verses that promote patience and toleration.


But here's the curious thing. The "Jihad Watchers" claim that Islam is uniquely impervious to reformation because its adherents regard all of its dictates as the absolute word of God, beyond human interpretation or reinterpretation. Yet here, Bostom is, in fact, talking about human interpretation by "classical Muslim Koranic commentators." What man can interpret, man can reinterpret. In fact, from this fascinating article by Daniel Pipes (no one's idea of an apologist for Islam), we learn:

The Koran indeed can be interpreted. Indeed, Muslims interpret the Koran no less than Jews and Christians interpret the Bible, and those interpretations have changed no less over time. The Koran, like the Bible, has a history.

For one indication of this, note the original thinking of the Sudanese theologian Mahmud Muhammad Taha (1909-85). Taha built his interpretation on the conventional division of the Koran into two. The initial verses came down when Muhammad was a powerless prophet living in Mecca, and tend to be cosmological. Later verses came down when Muhammad was the ruler of Medina, and include many specific rulings. These commands eventually served as the basis for the Shari'a, or Islamic law.

Taha argued that specific Koranic rulings applied only to Medina, not to other times and places. He hoped modern-day Muslims would set these aside and live by the general principles delivered at Mecca. Were Taha's ideas accepted, most of the Shari'a would disappear, including outdated provisions concerning warfare, theft, and women. Muslims could then more readily modernize.


See also this article by Pipes on modernization in Islam.

Spencer argues that Islam, unlike Christianity, has a specific theological mandate to expand by force and to convert, kill or subjugate nonbelievers. To this I can only say that, mandate or no, historically Christianity (until relatively recently) does not seem to have been far behind Islam when it comes to forcible conversion, slaughter or subjugation. Christianity has modernized; Islam, by and large, has not. The theological and cultural causes of this can be debated ad infinitum. Islamic reformation may well be more difficult than Christian reformation. It does not follow that it's impossible.

Theological debates aside, the incontrovertible fact is that many so-called "anti-Jihadists" use well-founded concerns about Islamic radicalism to promote bigotry and paranoia. The false alarm about the alleged "Jihadist connection" in the suicide of a University of Oklahoma student last fall was one such example. The blog rumors about a "Jihadist connection" in the murder of a Coptic Christian family in Jersey City, were another. (JihadWatch continued to stoke these suspicions even after the alleged murderers were arrested and the case turned out to be a "simple" robbery.) And here, again courtesy of JihadWatch.com, is the latest example: a news story about a Safeway clerk in Denver, Colorado, Michael Julius Ford, who went on a shooting spree at work and was shot dead by a SWAT team. Ford's mother and sister said that he had been teased at work about being a Muslim -- a fact that is duly highlighted by JihadWatch.com:

Denver Safeway shooter was "being teased at work because he's a Muslim and he couldn't take it anymore"

So of course his response was to start randomly shooting his coworkers.

Because, as we all know, non-Muslims never snap and go on shooting sprees at work or at school.

But, of course, when Muslims do it, it's different. Just like public urination.


146 comments:

John Sobieski said...

Gat a grip Cathy. A 'moderate' Muslim is a bad Muslim because he is ignoring the dictates of Islam to steal from, enslave and kill the kafir. A 'moderate' Muslim can also be a good Muslim who is just practicing taqiyya and kitman to deceive the infidels while Islam is weak and not ready to conquer the infidels. Look those up Cathy. Get a clue.

Rainsborough said...

Sobieski and Spencer alike are remarkable in that as interpreters of the requirements of the Islamic religion and the dictates of the Islamic scriptures, they are in agreement with the Islamist jihadists of the most extreme sort. All of them hold that it's obligatory, if they can get by with it, for every Muslim to come and kill us westerners.

Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes, as well as millions of Muslims, believe otherwise.

Whose interpretation is correct? A methodological note: the question at bottom must be "what does God in his heaven require of us?" And the answer to this sort of question isn't to be determined by ordinary canons of reason and evidence.

"Suppose, for instance, we knew people who foresaw the future; make forecasts for years and years ahead; and they described some sort of a Judgment Day. Queerly enough, even if there were such a thing, and even if it were more convincing than I have described, belief in this happening wouldn't be at all a religious belief."
--Wittgenstein

Anonymous said...

Cathy, Cathy, Cathy.

Do you really think a demagogue such as Robert Spencer will agree with anything that you have to say?

Spencer has a vested financial interest in writing his books and blogs. Given his family's apparent poor experience with Muslims in the past and Free Congress Foundation (see Paul Weyrich of "Christ was crucified by the Jews" fame) association, this hardly makes him an impartial observer.

To agree with you would be to peel away slightly the veneer of Defender of The West Against (Evil) Islam for Robert Spencer.

Indeed, with no verifiable credentials, Spencer relies on 'exposing' and smearing real academics and scholars who have spent their whole lives studying Islam but do not agree with his theses (and thus must be in the pockets of the Saudis) in order to prop up his own credibility.

In fact, this whole Lewis business stinks of arrogance and is surprising even from Spencer.

Alas, he is only part of this new cottage industry of pseudo-scholarship, feeding on the prejudices and fears of the post-9/11 lay American.

Feed demagogues at your own risk.

mabman said...

This must be a record, Cathy - I don't think you've ever gotten a troll on the very first post of a thread before! At least his handle is reasonably clever, given the real Jan Sobieski's role in repelling the Turks from Vienna in 1683.

It's remarkable how quickly people will resort to sweeping generalizations about a race or religion. Islam is practiced by 1.3 billion people across a huge area of the Earth's surface, yet folks like Spencer and Sobieski feel no qualms about lumping them all together, ignoring the vast racial, cultural and societal variances within that region.

I have news for the professional anti-Islamicists - you'd better hope that Islam isn't monolithic, because there are as many Muslims as Christians, they have more oil, and they get along with the Chinese a lot better than we do. If they really decide to get their act together and ally with East Asia against us, then H-bomb or no H-bomb, we will lose in the end.

Omar Barsawad said...

To John Sobieski, I am a 'bad Muslim'! I am sorry John - my life is so whole and peaceful! I believe - people like you have their own agenda in the growth of hatred between us Muslims and you! Xenophobia comes in many forms!

Islam is growing fast not because we are violent and destructive; to the contrary!

And it is not us who are destroying Sobieski's and Spencers's worlds - but their own way of life! Crime, divorce, violence against women, drugs, the large disparity between the rich and poor, mis-use of resources, materialism etc! These are what are destroying their worlds! But they want scapegoats!

Revenant said...

But, of course, when Muslims do it, it's different

The fact that non-Muslims also go on murder sprees doesn't tell us much, though. The useful question is whether the percentage of Muslims who go on murder sprees is greater than, less than, or equal to their percentage of the population.

Certainly it is the case that Islam advocates murder in a way that no other major world religion does. Inasmuch as people pay attention to the tenets of their religion, that would suggest Muslims would be more willing to kill than non-Muslims.

Darleen said...

mabman

If only 10% of the 1.3 billion moslems follow the ideology of Islamism (jihadist/fundie/radical Islam) that's 13 million people dedicated to "Convert, submit or die."

How many fascists did it take to put the world at war in the 1940's?

I don't doubt that the majority of moslems, especially in the USA, just want to live their lives quietly. But please, unless you can show me it's the Pissed-off Presbyterians kidnapping infidels off the "It's a Small World" ride at Disneyland and videotaping their beheading, let's not shrug our collective shoulders and pretend it's all a big misunderstanding and that Islam's tarnished image is really the fault of nasty "islamophobic" Westerners.

Moderate moslems have to step up to the plate and acknowledge the evil being perpetuated in the name they claim is really about "peace."

But they aren't doing that (with exceptions, of course) and are insulted that they even should do that.

this moderate moslem is doing what needs to be done...exposing the Islamists that not only reject the kuffir society they in, but are convinced that a worldwide Caliphate is inevitable ..and they want to help make it happen.

"You don’t get anywhere with the dirty kuffar (infidels),” he told me, claiming there was a widespread conspiracy against Muslims and that the 7/7 bombings were part of it. “These brothers never did it,” he said. “And understand this. In order for America and Britain to go to Iraq they have to have reasons and sometimes, I’m afraid, if you haven’t got a reason, you make up that reason.” [...]

Once again, I felt as if I had entered a strange bubble, a world where the reality I had known before had been suspended. Bham then asked me if I would ever blow myself up for Islam. I replied that the Koran says you should not harm innocent people.

“What Koran was that?” he countered. “Don’t fool yourself by saying jihad is a struggle within, to get on with life, to motivate myself to get up for prayers and that sort of thing,” he said. “That’s not jihad. Who told you that?”


It's fine to point out that the majority of moslems are not Islamists. It is dangerous to pretend that the virulent minority of moselms dedicated to annihilating Israel, creating a judenrein Middle East, establishing Sharia across Europe, and recapture of anything deemed Waqf, are not a serious problem.

Anonymous said...

I don't want any more Muslims in the UK not because I am a bigot but because the figures show the more muslims the more terrorism. Compare what has happened in Holland/UK/Spain with Poland.
I live in London - my wife is on public transport now and I don't want her blown up or anyone else I know.
Please don't use the word bigot for people who just don't want more terrorism.

Anonymous said...

We all know Islam is The religion of peace. We see it every day in every way.

IrishEi said...

Omar:

You bring up the problems the West faces:

"Crime, divorce, violence against women, drugs, the large disparity between the rich and poor, mis-use of resources, materialism etc!"

I guess you would want us to believe that converting to Islam would cure us of all these ills. Would you like to see Sharia law govern the West?

HAH!!

Let's see...living with Sharia law:

"Crime" - No problem. Just cut off the hands of those who steal. Or cut their heads off if they leave Islam. That'll learn 'em.

"divorce" - Step right up to divorce-o-rama. You can get a two-hour divorce if you get a little horny while you're away from home. Or, if you want to marry another women permanently, just go ahead! You don't need to divorce your other wives to do so.

"violence against women" - You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Let's see. It is acceptable to stone a woman to death as an adulterer because she was raped and couldn't produce two male witnesses to the crime. And, correct me if I'm wrong (NOT!), but isn't wife-beating an acceptable method to tame the shrew? Did someone mention female circumcision? Nevermind.

"drugs" - Only allowed when no one is looking, or when travelling in foreign lands.

"large disparity between rich and poor" - That's precious. Let's see, who would I rather be?

A) Sadam Hussein living in a palace eating all the Cheetos I can stuff into my odious mouth
OR...
B) An ordinary Iraqi citizen (a Kurd maybe!) waiting for my hour of electricity in 120F heat.

Here's another one:

A) A Saudi prince jet-setting around the Riviera or the lovely beaches of Thailand with my harem in tow, sucking on cooled, peeled grapes.
OR...
B) A Saudi family scraping a meager existence under the watchful eyes of the Wahhabists.

"mis-use of resources" - (This gets easier and easier as I go along!) How about mid-East oil? Is that a resource? Is it mis-used? Well, whaddya know. How about that Saud family! Real princes they are. They share their oil wealth with ALL the people of Saudi Arabia, don't they. And how about your buddy, Saddam? "Oil for food program" ring a bell?

"materialism, etc." - Well, everything we here in "Satan-land" have, we worked hard for. Long live capitalism and God bless America!

Note to Cathy: There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, you need to do some reading. You start off with the assumption that Mr. Spencer is a bigot and never let that assumption go. In my opinion, Mr. Spencer is against the doctrines of Jihad and Dhimmitude taught in mainstream Islam. If Muslims Protestantized their faith and it became a personal matter then Mr. Spencer could retire from his work today. As long as Islam remains a "portable theocratic state" in whatever country it happens to end up, we will continue to have problems with Muslims.

You totally ignore anything that Mr. Spencer says that conflicts with your view that he is a bigot. Please do some reading. Here is what Robert Spencer says in the bio section of his blog:

http://jihadwatch.org/spencer/

Q: Do you hate Muslims?
RS: Of course not. Islam is not a monolith, and never have I said or written anything that characterizes all Muslims as terrorist or given to violence. I am only calling attention to the roots and goals of jihad violence. Any Muslim who renounces violent jihad and dhimmitude is welcome to join in our anti-jihadist efforts. Any hate in my books comes from Muslim sources I quote, not from me. Cries of "hatred" and "bigotry" are effectively used by American Muslim advocacy groups to try to stifle the debate about the terrorist threat. But there is no substance to them.

It is not an act of hatred against Muslims to point out the depredations of jihad ideology. It is a peculiar species of displacement and projection to accuse someone who exposes the hatred of one group of hatred himself: I believe in the equality of rights and dignity of all people, and that is why I oppose the global jihad. And I think that those who make the charge know better in any case: they use the charge as a tool to frighten the credulous and politically correct away from the truth.

Am I "anti-Muslim"? Some time ago here at Jihad Watch I had an exchange with an English convert to Islam. I said: "I would like nothing better than a flowering, a renaissance, in the Muslim world, including full equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies: freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, equal employment opportunities, etc." Is all that "anti-Muslim"? My correspondent thought so. He responded: "So, you would like to see us ditch much of our religion and, thereby, become non-Muslims."

In other words, he saw a call for equality of rights for women and non-Muslims in Islamic societies, including freedom of conscience, equality in laws regarding legal testimony, and equal employment opportunities, as a challenge to his religion. To the extent that they are, these facts have to be confronted by both Muslims and non-Muslims. But I make no apologies: it is not "anti-Muslim" to wish freedom of conscience and equality of rights on the Islamic world -- quite the contrary.

Q: Do you think all Muslims are terrorists?
RS: See above.

Q: Are you trying to incite anti-Muslim hatred?
RS: Certainly not. I am trying to point out the depth and extent of the hatred that is directed against the United States, because I believe that the efforts to downplay its depth and extent leave us less equipped to defend ourselves. As I said above, the focus here is on jihad; any Muslim who renounces the ideologies of jihad and dhimmitude is most welcome to join forces with us. Anyone who targets innocent Muslims in the USA is not only evil, but is playing into the hands of the jihadists who are trying to fan the flames of anti-American hatred. Also, one of the reasons why the war on terror is so important is that those who would destroy Western civilization do not believe in the principles of due process and justice that are central elements of the American system.

Q: Are you deliberately ignoring more liberal schools of thought in Islam?
RS: Certainly not. I encourage any Muslim individual or group who is willing to work publicly for the reform of the Islamic doctrines, theological tenets and laws that Islamic jihadists use to justify violence. But this must be done honestly and thoroughly, confronting the texts of the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira that are used to justify violence against unbelievers, and decisively rejecting Qur'anic literalism. Not all self-proclaimed moderates are truly moderate: many deny that these elements of Islam exist at all — hardly a promising platform for reform. It is important to make proper distinctions and speak honestly about the roots of the terrorist threat.

Q: I have read that you support forced deportation of US citizens who happen to be Muslim, harassment of law-abiding US Muslims (boycotting of their businesses, refusal to renew their cab medallions, refusal of their business permits) and other similar actions.
RS: I absolutely do not support such actions. Any Muslim who accepts the U.S. Constitution and American pluralism should act to defend the U.S. now, when it is under attack in many ways. Any Muslim who does this I count as a friend, and welcome into the U.S. I am not in favor of harassing or expelling loyal Muslims from the U.S.

Q: But I have read that you advocate making the practice of Islam "difficult" in the U.S.
RS: I would like to see the practice of violent jihad made difficult. I would like to see the spread of violence that is justified in the name of Islam made quite difficult in the U.S. and elsewhere. I would like to see efforts to impose the Sharia in the U.S. and elsewhere, however long it may take and even by peaceful means, made difficult. I would like to see the institutionalized oppression of non-Muslims and women made difficult. I am not concerned about the other aspects of Islam.

Kab bin Ashraf said...

Is there no end to the stupidity?

Spencer is an expert on Islam. Young, who is not an expert on Islam, has attacked Spencer’s views without presenting a shred of evidence to support her claims and, indeed, without having a clear idea in the first place of what Spencer is claiming. Instead, we are treated to extended discussions of the finer points of how to impose politically correct standards on such topics as urination, etc.

“Rober Spencer, author of a book called The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam, undoubtedly has more knowledge of the subject than I do.”

Some mea culpa that was. The average western non-Muslim reader now, in 2006, has more knowledge of Islam than does Young! (Cathy, can’t you bring yourself to write the word “expert”?) Spencer is an expert on Islam and on jihad ideology in particular.

I strongly recommend that Cathy actually read the Islamic texts (Koran, with tafsir; Hadith, and Sira) before promoting any further misconceptions about Islam. Young owes it to her readers and the general public to at least have a handle on the basics before making such strong public assertions.

Here are some quotes which I have ripped out of context, cherry-picked, and cut-and-pasted. Why? To illustrate a point. In reading these quotes from Koran, "sahih" hadith, and Sira (Ibn Ishaq), ask yourself one question: In what context would such verses ans statements ever be appropriate?

8:39. "And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allâh), then certainly, Allâh is All-Seer of what they do." (see muttaqun reference for 2:193, next).

[Note: That remark "in the whole of the world" is added by the authors of the Noble Qur'an. Keep in mind that Islam is a mission to all mankind 34:28, and Islam's mission is to conquer all other religions, 9:33, 48:28, 61:9. Also note 9:32, Allah will perfect his light (purity of religion), no matter how much the disbelievers hate it.]

Re: 8:39. So, it's not just warfare. It's fighting until everyone is converted to Islam or are put to the sword. (These were the pagans; verse 9:29 gives Jews, Christians, and some others the dhimmitude option, i.e., pay a head tax and live under subjugation or else be killed). Yet these policies are still accepted today by all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

Koran, 8:67 "It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise."

8:35 “And their worship at the (holy) House is naught but whistling and hand-clapping. Therefore (it is said unto them): Taste of the doom because ye disbelieve.”

Again, when is this policy of killing people over religion, which is the historical foundation of Islam itself and without which Islam would probably not exist today, ever appropriate?

Ishaq:327 “Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’”

Under what conditions is this policy ever appropriate?

Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 3, Number 125: Narrated Abu Musa: A man came to the Prophet and asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What kind of fighting is in Allah's cause? (I ask this), for some of us fight because of being enraged and angry and some for the sake of his pride and haughtiness." The Prophet raised his head (as the questioner was standing) and said, "He who fights so that Allah's Word (Islam) should be superior, then he fights in Allah's cause."

In what context is fighting (and in this case, fighting means fighting to kill or force submission) to make a religion supreme an acceptable policy? Yet again, this is the policy of all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence today.

Ishaq:530 "Get out of his way, you infidel unbelievers. Every good thing goes with the Apostle. I believe in his word. We will Fight you about its interpretations as we have fought you about its revelation with strokes that will remove heads and make enemies of friends."

Many Muslims read, believe, and accept the Sira wholeheartedly.

Ishaq:587 “Our onslaught will not be a weak faltering affair. We shall fight as long as we live. We will fight until you turn to Islam, humbly seeking refuge. We will fight not caring whom we meet. We will fight whether we destroy ancient holdings or newly gotten gains. We have mutilated every opponent. We have driven them violently before us at the command of Allah and Islam. We will fight until our religion is established. And we will plunder them, for they must suffer disgrace.”

Yep, it's all about peace. Islam is a monolith of peace. I don't see how anyone could misinterpret that and claim that Islam contains elements of violence and intolerance.

9:5 "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due [zakat], then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

[They must convert/revert to Islam, or be slaughtered, if they are not protected by truce].

Again, in what context is the ‘convert or die’ proposition ever appropiate?

Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 33 (see 30-35): It has been narrated on the authority of Abdullah b. 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer, and pay Zakat and if they do it, their blood and property are guaranteed protection on my behalf except when justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah.

In what context is that policy of fighting them until they accept Islam (or Islamic rule) appropriate? Again, this is accepted by all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence today.

None of this means, by the way, that there aren't moderate Muslims. Nor does it mean that there are not more moderate strains of Islam. The Ahmadis are much more moderate than the Shia and Sunni (of course, the Ahmadis had to add another prophet's teachings to accomplish this, for which both Sunni and Shia persecute them viciously).

Some ex-Muslims and I have more to say on these issues here

Re: verse 2:256 (“no compulsion in religion”) read this

For other nasty notes and quotes about Islamic imperialism that are bad in any context, see
this

Kab bin Ashraf said...

Rainsborough,

Your statements are as daft as ever. You are living in lala-land and have no regard whatsoever for facts.

"Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes, as well as millions of Muslims, believe otherwise."

No they don't. There is disagreement on some issues, yes. (Scholars of Islam are not a monolith). Bernard Lewis certainly agrees with Spencer on the fact that all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence call for the death penalty for apostasy (and always have), and that the myth of the so-called Golden Age of Islamic tolerance of Jews is just that---a myth. As for Pipes, there is more agreement with Spencer than you realize. Just read Spencer's latest post in regard to the debate with Young over this and other points.

"...they are in agreement with the Islamist jihadists of the most extreme sort. All of them hold that it's obligatory, if they can get by with it, for every Muslim to come and kill us westerners."

This is a common but fraudulent response. Spencer and other critics of Islam don't agree with the jihadists, but rather report on the jihadist ideology and its sources. This is simply to point to where the jihadists get their ideas.

"Whose interpretation is correct? A methodological note: the question at bottom must be "what does God in his heaven require of us?" And the answer to this sort of question isn't to be determined by ordinary canons of reason and evidence."

Right, but what does this have to do with reality? As Mohammad/Allah (or the author(s) of the Koran observe, non-Muslims fear Muslims more than they fear Allah (59:13). The Koran requires that Muslims deliver Allah's punishment against the disbelievers and administer Islamic justice on earth (2:251, 57:25, 8:17, 47:4, etc.). All major schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree. Islam is a legalistic, political, social, militaristic system that deals with every detail of experience from prayer to head-chopping to ass-wiping.

If you are an apostate, blasphemer/disident/critic, adulterer, homosexual, or, indeed, any non-Muslim, progressive Muslim, "heretical" Muslim, the issue of the interpretation of "true" Islam is not some metaphysical problem. It is a real-life problem of life or death, freedom or subjugation. We are dealing with reality and probabilities/risks, not just metaphysics and absolutes.

Anonymous said...

Darleen,
10% of 1.3 Billion is 130 Millions,
not 13 Millions.
Thx

Jimmy Gatt said...

Cathy,

I am a fan of Reason magazine and your writings, and I find your analysis of this topic to be shallow, supercilious, and lazy. It is beneath an individual of your intelligence, and I implore you to discard your prejudices and provide compelling evidence to support your opinions rather than delving into the snotty and stupid mockery which pervades the usual ostrich-like, kid-glove handling of the problem of Islam.

Yes, in case it is too much for you to bear, Islam is a problem.

Specifically, there are two problems:

1. Islamic supremicism ("Islam should and will rule the world by force")

2. Violent jihad ("Those who do not agree with #1 should be deprived of liberty, property, and life by force")

I maintain and insist that any individual who believes #1 and #2 (above) does NOT deserve to live in civil society. Do you agree or disagree?

Do you agree or disagree that there is a significant and troubling number of muslims who agree with #1 and #2 (above)?

The usual shitty defense, which you exhibited in your latest shitty reply to Spencer, is "But Christianity is bad, too!" I believe your words were "To this, I can only say..." "Only", indeed. Is that the hint of admission that those who resist jihad may have a valid point, and are not the mindless, hateful bigots you wish us to be?

Revenant said...

Part of the problem with the "historically, Christianity has been as bad as Islam" argument is that it ignores the fact that, for the thousand years or so prior to the Renaissance and Reformation, almost no Christians had access to the actual teachings of Christ. They were written in a language the people didn't read or speak, and copies of the teachings were deliberately kept from the great mass of Christians by the Church hierarchy. That's what made the invocation of Christianity to justify slaughter possible; the people being told to do the killing hadn't read the book.

Simply put, it is only possible to say that Christ supported the slaughter of innocents if you haven't read the Bible. And it is only possible to say that Mohammed *didn't* support the slaughter of innocents if you haven't read the Qur'an and Hadith.

Christianity didn't "modernize"; Christians just actually started paying attention to what Christ said. Islam isn't going to "modernize" until Muslims STOP paying attention to what Mohammed said. That's a much more serious problem.

jahala said...

Please Cathy, don't presume to understand islam.
I am an apostate, and until I studied the Quran and ahadith, with an open mind, without help of imam, on my own, with questions and doubts in my mind, I too believed in the ummah, dar al islam, 'religion of peace'etc etc .
reading the ahadith, I discovered that everything I had been told was a lie and so absurd to be totally unbelievable to anyone with half a brain cell.

I don't know this 'Robert Spencer', but if he can draw people to the true nature of Islam, then, for humanity let him be,. And for your sake, study the quran and ahadith, every word is meant to be taken literally(don't be fooled by the 'be nice to' bits- it only applys to muslims and 'dhimmis' that pay the 'jizya'(but not too nice to them!)

So please be careful Cathy because if people like you keep appeasing the Islam, then you may find yourself and your daughters burkah clad and beaten under sharia.

Keep safe, and be free.

Admin said...

Any open-minded person embarking on a study of Islam, especially if using books written in European languages, should be aware of the seemingly inherent distortions that permeate almost all non-Muslim writings on Islam. At least since the Middle Ages, Islam has been much maligned and severely misunderstood in the West. In the last years of the Twentieth Century, it does not seem that much has changed—even though most Muslims would agree that progress is being made.

QUESTIONABLE MOTIVES & GENERAL IGNORANCE

I feel that an elegant summary of the West's ignorance of Islam and the motives of Orientalism are the following words by the Swiss journalist and author, Roger Du Pasquier:

"The West, whether Christian or dechristianised, has never really known Islam. Ever since they watched it appear on the world stage, Christians never ceased to insult and slander it in order to find justification for waging war on it. It has been subjected to grotesque distortions the traces of which still endure in the European mind. Even today there are many Westerners for whom Islam can be reduced to three ideas: fanaticism, fatalism and polygamy. Of course, there does exist a more cultivated public whose ideas about Islam are less deformed; there are still precious few who know that the word islam signifies nothing other than 'submission to God'. One symptom of this ignorance is the fact that in the imagination of most Europeans, Allah refers to the divinity of the Muslims, not the God of the Christians and Jews; they are all surprised to hear, when one takes the trouble to explain things to them, that 'Allah' means 'God', and that even Arab Christians know him by no other name.
Islam has of course been the object of studies by Western orientalists who, over the last two centuries, have published an extensive learned literature on the subject. Nevertheless, however worthy their labours may have been, particularly in the historical and and philological fields, they have contributed little to a better understanding of the Muslim religion in the Christian or post-Christian milieu, simply because they have failed to arouse much interest outside their specialised academic circles. One is forced also to concede that Orientals studies in the West have not always been inspired by the purest spirit of scholarly impartiality, and it is hard to deny that some Islamicists and Arabists have worked with the clear intention of belittling Islam and its adherents. This tendency was particularly marked—for obvious reasons—in the heyday of the colonial empires, but it would be an exaggeration to claim that it has vanished without trace.
These are some of the reasons why Islam remains even today so misjudged by the West, where curiously enough, Asiatic faiths such as Buddhism and Hinduism have for more than a century generated far more visible sympathy and interest, even though Islam is so close to Judaism and Christianity, having flowed from the same Abrahamic source. Despite this, however, for several years it has seemed that external conditions, particularly the growing importance of the Arab-Islamic countries in the world's great political and economic affairs, have served to arouse a growing interest of Islam in the West, resulting—for some—in the discovery of new and hitherto unsuspected horizons." (From Unveiling Islam, by Roger Du Pasquier, pages 5-7)

The feeling that there is a general ignorance of Islam in the West is shared by Maurice Bucaille, a French doctor, who writes:

"When one mentions Islam to the materialist atheist, he smiles with a complacency that is only equal to his ignorance of the subject. In common with the majority of Western intellectuals, of whatever religious persuasion, he has an impressive collection of false notions about Islam. One must, on this point, allow him one or two excuses. Firstly, apart from the newly-adopted attitudes prevailing among the highest Catholic authorities, Islam has always been subject in the West to a so-called 'secular slander'. Anyone in the West who has acquired a deep knowledge of Islam knows just to what extent its history, dogma and aims have been distorted. One must also take into account that fact that documents published in European languages on this subject (leaving aside highly specialised studies) do not make the work of a person willing to learn any easier." (From The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, by Maurice Bucaille, page 118)

ORIENTALISM: A BROAD DEFINITION

The phenomenon which is generally known as Orientalism is but one aspect of Western misrepresentations of Islam. Today, most Muslims in the West would probably agree that the largest volume of distorted information about Islam comes from the media, whether in newspapers, magazines or on television. In terms of the number of people who are reached by such information, the mass media certainly has more of a widespread impact on the West's view of Islam than do the academic publications of "Orientalists", "Arabists" or "Islamicists". Speaking of labels, in recent years the academic field of what used to be called "Orientalism" has been renamed "Area Studies" or "Regional Studies", in most colleges and universities in the West. These politically correct terms have taken the place of the word "Orientalism" in scholarly circles since the latter word is now tainted with a negative imperialist connotation, in a large measure due to the Orientalists themselves. However, even though the works of scholars who pursue these fields do not reach the public at large, they do often fall into the hands of students and those who are personally interested in learning more about Islam. As such, any student of Islam—especially those in the West—need to be aware of the historical phenomenon of Orientalism, both as an academic pursuit and as a means of cultural exploitation. When used by Muslims, the word "Orientalist" generally refers to any Western scholar who studies Islam—regardless of his or her motives—and thus, inevitably, distorts it. As we shall see, however, the phenomenon of Orientalism is much more than an academic pursuit. Edward Said, a renowned Arab Christian scholar and author of several books exposing shortcomings of the Orientalist approach, defines "Orientalism" as follows:

" . . . by Orientalism I mean several things, all of them, in my opinion, interdependent. The most readily accepted designation of for Orientalism is an academic one, and indeed, and indeed the label still serves in a number of academic institutions. Anyone who teaches, writes about, or researches the Orient—and this applies whether the person is an anthropologist, sociologist, historian, or philogist—either in its specific or its general aspects, is an Orientalist, and what he or she does is Orientalism." (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 2)

"To speak of Orientalism therefore is to speak mainly, although not exclusively, of a British and French cultural enterprise, a project whose dimensions take in such disparate realms as the imagination itself, the whole of India and the Levant, the Biblical texts and the Biblical lands, the spice trade, colonial armies and a long tradition of colonial administrators, a formidable scholarly corpus, innumerable Oriental "experts" and "hands", an Oriental professorate, a complex array of "Oriental" ideas (Oriental despotism, Oriental splendor, cruelty, sensuality), many Eastern sects, philosophies, and wisdoms domesticated for local European use—the list can be extended more or less indefinitely." (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 4)

As is the case with many things, being aware of the problem is half the battle. Once a sincere seeker of the Truth is aware of the long standing misunderstanding and hostility between Islam and the West—and learns not to trust everything which they see in print—authentic knowledge and information can be obtained much more quickly. Certainly, not all Western writings on Islam have the same degree of bias—they run the range from willful distortion to simple ignorance—and there are even a few that could be classified as sincere efforts by non-Muslims to portray Islam in a positive light. However, even most of these works are plagued by seemingly unintentional errors, however minor, due to the author's lack of Islamic knowledge. In the spirit of fairness, it should be said that even some contemporary books on Islam by Muslim authors suffer from these same shortcomings, usually due to a lack of knowledge, heretical ideas and or depending on non-Muslim sources.

This having been said, it should come as no surprise that learning about Islam in the West—especially when relying on works in European languages—has never been an easy task. Just a few decades ago, an English speaking person who was interested in Islam, and wishing to limit their reading to works by Muslim authors, might have been limited to reading a translation of the Qur'an, a few translated hadeeth books and a few dozen pamphlet-sized essays. However, in the past several years the widespread availability of Islamic books—written by believing and committed Muslims—and the advent of the Internet have made obtaining authentic information on almost any aspect of Islam much easier. Today, hardly a week goes by that an English translation of a classical Islamic work is not announced. Keeping this in mind, I would encourage the reader to consult books written by Muslim authors when trying to learn about Islam. There are a wide range of Islamic book distributors that can be contacted through the Internet.

IMPERIALISTIC AIMS & EAGER MISSIONARIES

Moving on to a more detailed look at the West's distorted view of Islam in general and Orientalism in particular . . . Edward Said, the Arab Christian author of the monumental work Orientalism, accurately referred to Orientalism a "cultural enterprise". This is certainly no distortion, since the academic study of the Oriental East by the Occidental West was often motivated—and often co-operated hand-in-hand— with the imperialistic aims of the European colonial powers. Without a doubt, the foundations of Orientalism are in the maxim "Know thy enemy". When the "Christian Nations" of Europe began their long campaign to colonize and conquer the rest of the world for their own benefit, they brought their academic and missionary resources to bear in order to assist in the task. Orientalists and missionaries—whose ranks often overlapped—were more often than not the servants of an imperialist government who was using their services as a way to subdue or weaken an enemy, however subtly:

"With regard to Islam and the Islamic territories, for example, Britain felt that it had legitimate interests, as a Christian power, to safeguard. A complex apparatus for tending these interests developed. Such early organizations as the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (1698) and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701) were succeeded and later abetted by the Baptist Missionary Society (1792), the Church Missionary Society (1799), the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804), the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews (1808). These missions "openly" joined the expansion of Europe." (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 100)

Anyone who has studied the subject knows that Christian missionaries were willing participants in European imperialism, regardless of the pure motives or naïveté of some of the individual missionaries. Actually, quite a few Orientalist scholars were Christian missionaries. One notable example is Sir William Muir, who was an active missionary and author of several books on Islam. His books were very biased and narrow-minded studies, but they continue to be used as references for those wishing to attack Islam to this very day. That Christians were the source of some of the worst lies and distortions about Islam should come as no surprise, since Islam was its main "competitor" on the stage of World Religions. Far from honouring the commandment not to bear false witness against one's neighbour, Christians distortions—and outright lies—about Islam were widespread, as the following shows:

"The history of Orientalism is hardly one of unbiased examination of the sources of Islam especially when under the influence of the bigotry of Christianity. From the fanatical distortions of John of Damascus to the apologetic of later writers against Islam that told their audiences that the Muslims worshipped three idols! Peter the Venerable (1084-1156) "translated" the Qur'an which was used throughout the Middle Ages and included nine additional chapters. Sale's infamously distorted translation followed that trend, and his, along with the likes of Rodwell, Muir and a multitude of others attacked the character and personality of Muhammmed. Often they employed invented stories, or narration's which the Muslims themselves considered fabricated or weak, or else they distorted the facts by claiming Muslims held a position which they did not, or using the habits practised out of ignorance among the Muslims as the accurate portrayal of Islam. As Norman Daniel tell us in his work Islam and the West: "The use of false evidence to attack Islam was all but universal . . . " (p. 267)." (From An Authoritative Exposition - Part 1, by 'Abdur-Raheem Green)

This view is confirmed by the well known historian of the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, when he writes:

"Medieval Christendom did, however, study Islam, for the double purpose of protecting Christians from Muslim blandishments and converting Muslims to Christianity, and Christian scholars, most of them priests or monks, created a body of literature concerning the faith, its Prophet, and his book, polemic in purpose and often scurrilous in tone, designed to protect and discourage rather than to inform".." (From Islam and the West, by Bernard Lewis, pages 85-86)

There is a great deal of proof that one could use to demonstrate that when it came to attacking Islam, even the Roman Catholic Church would readily embrace almost any untruth. Here's an example:

"At a certain period in history, hostility to Islam, in whatever shape or form, even coming from declared enemies of the church, was received with the most heartfelt approbation by high dignitaries of the Catholic Church. Thus Pope Benedict XIV, who is reputed to have been the greatest Pontiff of the Eighteenth century, unhesitatingly sent his blessing to Voltaire. This was in thanks for the dedication to him of the tragedy Mohammed or Fanaticism (Mahomet ou le Fanatisme) 1741, a coarse satire that any clever scribbler of bad faith could have written on any subject. In spite of a bad start, the play gained sufficient prestige to be included in the repertoire of the Comédie-Française." (From The Bible, the Qur'an and Science, by Maurice Bucaille, page 118)

WIDESPREAD LIES & POPULAR CULTURE

The dedicated enemy of the church, referred to above, was the French philosopher Voltaire. For an example of what he thought of at least one Christian doctrine, read his Anti-Trinitarians tract. Also, the above passage introduces a point that one should be well aware of: the distortions and lies about Islam throughout the ages in Europe were not been limited to a small number of scholars and clergy. On the contrary, they were part of popular culture at the time:

"The European imagination was nourished extensively from this repertoire [of Oriental images]: between the Middle Ages and the eighteenth century such major authors as Ariosto, Milton, Marlowe, Tasso, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and the authors of the Chanson de Roland and the Poema del Cid drew on the Orient's riches for their productions, in ways that sharpened that outlines of imagery, ideas, and figures populating it. In addition, a great deal of what was considered learned Orientalist scholarship in Europe pressed ideological myths into service, even as knowledge seemed genuinely to be advancing." (From Orientalism, by Edward Said, page 63)

"The invariable tendency to neglect what the Qur'an meant, or what Muslims thought it meant, or what Muslims thought or did in any given circumstances, necessarily implies that Qur'anic and other Islamic doctrine was presented in a form that would convince Christians; and more and more extravagant forms would stand a chance of acceptance as the distance of the writers and public from the Islamic border increased. It was with very great reluctance that what Muslims said Muslims believed was accepted as what they did believe. There was a Christian picture in which the details (even under the pressure of facts) were abandoned as little as possible, and in which the general outline was never abandoned. There were shades of difference, but only with a common framework. All the corrections that were made in the interests of an increasing accuracy were only a defence of what had newly realised to be vulnerable, a shoring up of a weakened structure. Christian opinion was an erection which could not be demolished, even to be rebuilt." (From Islam and the West: The Making of an Image, by Norman Daniel, page 259-260)

Edward Said, in his classic work Orientalism, referring to the above passage by Norman Daniel, says:

"This rigorous Christian picture of Islam was intensified in innumerable ways, including—during the Middle Ages and early Renaissance—a large variety of poetry, learned controversy, and popular superstition. By this time the Near Orient had been all but incorporated in the common world-picture of Latin Christianity—as in the Chanson de Roland the worship of Saracens is portrayed as embracing Mahomet and Apollo. By the middle of the fifteenth century, as R. W. Southern has brilliantly shown, it became apparent to serious European thinkers "that something would have to be done about Islam," which had turned the situation around somewhat by itself arriving militarily in Eastern Europe." (From Orientalism, by Edward W. Said, page 61)

"Most conspicuous to us is the inability of any of these systems of thought [European Christian] to provide a fully satisfying explanation of the phenomenon they had set out to explain [Islam]—still less to influence the course of practical events in a decisive way. At a practical level, events never turned out either so well or so ill as the most intelligent observers predicted: and it is perhaps worth noticing that they never turned out better than when the best judges confidently expected a happy ending. Was there any progress [in Christian knowledge of Islam]? I must express my conviction that there was. Even if the solutions of the problem remained obstinately hidden from sight, the statement of the problem became more complex, more rational, and more related to experience." (From Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages, by R. W. Southern, pages 91-92)

Regardless of the flawed, biased—and even devious—approach of many Orientalists, they too can have their moments of candour, as Roger DuPasquier points out:

"In general one must unhappily concur with an Orientalist like Montgomery Watt when he writes that 'of all the great men of the world, no-one has had as many detractors as Muhammad.' Having engaged in a lengthy study of the life and work of the Prophet, the British Arabist add that 'it is hard to understand why this has been the case', finding the only plausible explanation in the fact that for centuries Christianity treated Islam as its worst enemy. And although Europeans today look at Islam and its founder in a somewhat more objective light, 'many ancient prejudices still remain.'" (From Unveiling Islam, by Roger Du Pasquier, page 47 - quoting from W. M. Watt's Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press)

SOUND ADVICE & CONCLUDING REMARKS

In conclusion, I would like to turn to a description of Orientalism by an American convert to Islam. What he has this to say about the objectives and methods of Orientalism, especially how it is flawed from an Islamic perspective, is quite enlightening. While summarizing his views on a book by an Orientalist author, he writes:

" . . . (t)he book accurately reports the names and dates of the events it discusses, though its explanations of Muslim figures, their motives, and their place within the Islamic world are observed through the looking glass of unbelief (kufr), giving a reverse-image of many of the realities it reflects, and perhaps calling for a word here on the literature that has been termed Orientalism, or in the contemporary idiom, "area studies".
It is a viewpoint requiring that scholarly description of something like "African Islam" be first an foremost objective. The premises of this objectivity conform closely, upon reflection, to the lived and felt experience of a post-religious, Western intellectual tradition in understanding religion; namely, that comparing human cultural systems and societies in their historical succession and multiplicity leads the open-minded observer to moral relativism, since no moral value can be discovered which on its own merits is transculturally valid. Here, human civilizations, with their cultural forms, religions, hopes, aims, beliefs, prophets, sacred scriptures, and deities, are essentially plants that grow out of the earth, springing from their various seeds and soils, thriving for a time, and then withering away. The scholar's concern is only to record these elements and propose a plausible relation between them.
Such a point of departure, if de rigueur for serious academic work . . . is of course non-Islamic and anti-Islamic. As a fundamental incomprehension of Islam, it naturally distorts what it seeks to explain, yet with an observable disparity in the degree of distortion in any given description that seems to correspond roughly to how close the object of explanation is to the core of Islam. In dealing with central issues like Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), the Koran, or hadith, it is at its worst; while the further it proceeds to the periphery, such as historical details of trade concessions, treaties names of rulers, weights of coins, etc., the less distorted it becomes. In either case, it is plainly superior for Muslims to rely on fellow Muslims when Islamic sources are available on a subject . . . if only to avoid the subtle and not-so-subtle distortions of non-Islamic works about Islam. One cannot help but feel that nothing bad would happen to us if we were to abandon the trend of many contemporary Muslim writers of faithfully annotating our works with quotes from the founding fathers of Orientalism, if only because to sleep with the dogs is generally to rise with the fleas." (From The Reliance of the Traveller, Edited and Translated by Noah Ha Mim Keller, page 1042)

As anyone who has studied Orientalism knows, both their methodology and their intentions were less than ideal. The follow remarks serve as a pointed synopsis of the approach of Orientalism to the Qur'an in particular and Islam in general:

"The Orientalist enterprise of Qur'anic studies, whatever its other merits and services, was a project born of spite, bred in frustration and nourished by vengeance: the spite of the powerful for the powerless, the frustration of the "rational" towards the "superstitious" and the vengeance of the "orthodox" against the "non-conformist." At the greatest hour of his worldly-triumph, the Western man, coordinating the powers of the State, Church and Academia, launched his most determined assault on the citadel of Muslim faith. All the aberrant streaks of his arrogant personality -- its reckless rationalism, its world-domineering phantasy and its sectarian fanaticism -- joined in an unholy conspiracy to dislodge the Muslim Scripture from its firmly entrenched position as the epitome of historic authenticity and moral unassailability. The ultimate trophy that the Western man sought by his dare-devil venture was the Muslim mind itself. In order to rid the West forever of the "problem" of Islam, he reasoned, Muslim consciousness must be made to despair of the cognitive certainty of the Divine message revealed to the Prophet. Only a Muslim confounded of the historical authenticity or doctrinal autonomy of the Qur'anic revelation would abdicate his universal mission and hence pose no challenge to the global domination of the West. Such, at least, seems to have been the tacit, if not the explicit, rationale of the Orientalist assault on the Qur'an." (From: "Method Against Truth: Orientalism and Qur'anic Studies", by S. Parvez Manzoor, Muslim World Book Review, Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer 1987, pp. 33-49.)

Need we say more?

Please visit http://thejourney2islam-team.blogspot.com/ to read more

Anonymous said...

Cathy, your are obviously low in your intelligence vis a vis Islam!!

The fact is that Islam proper is evil to its core and it was founded by an evil bastard named Muhammed....that much is clear..

However, does that make all 1 billion muslims bad?? Of course not....their is a dichtomy between Islam and Muslims..

Are target is Islam......You are to prideful that you are wrong on this target so you simply call anyone that disagrees a bigot...such is the extent of your scholarship vis a vis Islam!!

What you NEED to do is to talk to ex muslims the world over and gain an insider's knowledge of what Islam really is about...

This murderous movement has been a enemy of West and East for 1400 years.....and it needs to be dealt with once and for all!!

Revenant said...

Need we say more?

I'm not sure it is physically possible to without crashing the comment server. :)

In any event, baseless accusations that critics of Islam are guilty of "Orientalist" bigotry are nothing new. Such accusations are particularly popular among leftie scholars of the "the West is evil" school of thought, as well as among scholars who are themselves Muslim (and thus naturally incapable of any rational and objective analysis of the faith).

Anonymous said...

Admin:

That is the most monumental pile of codswallop that I have ever read. Not a single quote from the Qur'an; not a single quotation from a Muslim source! Verbal diarrhoea is what that was. Here is some real information:

http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/21475

What is the Shariah?
by Mentat
Email: Mentat_99 (nospam) yahoo.com (unverified!) 10 May 2004
Examples of Shariah Law
What is the Shariah?

To whom it may concern:

Islam is often in the news these days. News articles that relate to Islam sometimes refer to the Shariah. What is the Shariah? The Shariah is the Islamic Sacred Law which was developed hundreds of years ago by Islamic jurists using the Koran and hadith (remembrances about what the Prophet Muhammad said and did during the time he was alive) as guideposts. The Shariah outlines a complete way of life in a legal framework which tells you how to do everything from how to pray to how to go to the bathroom. What does the Shariah law actually state? Here are some examples of Shariah law:

1. Offensive, military jihad against non-Muslims is a communal, religious obligation;
2. A person who is ignorant about Islamic legal opinion must follow the legal opinion of a scholar;
3. The penalty for a Muslim apostate (someone who no longer believes in or no longer follows the tenets of Islam) is death;
4. When slaughtering animals for food, a knife must be used to cut the windpipe and gullet;
5. A woman is only eligible to receive half the inheritance of a man;
6. Marriage may be forced on virgins by their father or father’s father;
7. A non-Arab man may not marry an Arab woman;
8. A woman must seek permission from her husband to leave the house;
9. A Muslim man cannot marry a woman who is a Zoroastrian, an idol worshipper, an apostate from Islam or a woman with one parent who is Jewish or Christian, with the other being Zoroastrian; a Muslim woman cannot marry anyone but a Muslim;
10. A free Muslim man may marry up to four women;
11. Retaliation is obligatory in most cases when someone is deliberately murdered except when a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, a Jew or a Christian kills a Muslim apostate or a father or mother kill their offspring;
12. Non-Muslim subjects (Ahl al-Dhimma) of a Muslim state are subject to a series of discriminatory laws – “dhimmitude”;
13. The penalty for fornication or sodomy is being stoned to death;
14. The penalty for an initial theft is amputation of the right hand. Subsequent thefts are penalized by further amputations of feet and hand;
15. A non-Muslim cannot testify against a Muslim in court; a person who is “without respectability” cannot give legal testimony; a woman’s legal testimony is only given half the legal weight of a man’s (and is only acceptable in cases involving property); to legally prove fornication or sodomy requires 4 male witnesses who actually saw the act;
16. The establishment and continuation of the Islamic Caliphate (by force, if necessary) is a communal obligation;
17. Sodomites and Lesbians must be killed;
18. Laughing too much is forbidden;
19. Musical instruments are unlawful;
20. Creating pictures of animate life is forbidden;
21. Female circumcision, which includes the excision of the clitoris, is obligatory;
22. Slavery is permitted;
23. People may be bribed to convert to Islam;
24. Beating a rebellious wife is permissible; and,
25. Lying is permissible in a time of war (or jihad).

In order to demonstrate to you that the above examples of Shariah law are real and valid, I will excerpt below the relevant legal clauses relating to each of the above numbered headings. First, I will repeat the heading. Then, I will excerpt the relevant legal clauses.

However, to start with, I must explain from which authority I will be excerpting these legal clauses. I will be excerpting them from a book entitled in English as the “Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law”. In Arabic it is referred to as the Umdat al-Salik and was authored by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 1368 A.D.). The English translation was edited and translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. The book is published by Amana Publications, Beltsville, Maryland, U.S.A.. I will be excerpting from the revised 1994 edition. The book is available for sale at http://www.amana-publications.com. It is also available at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0915957728/qid=1083543579/.

The book is self-described as follows:

This work is the first translation of a standard Islamic legal reference in a European language to be certified by al-Azhar, the Muslim world’s oldest institution of higher learning. It presents an explanative interpretation of ‘Umdat as-salik, a classic Sunni manual of Sacred Law by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri (d. 769/1368) that comprises the legal work of Imam Nawawi, the great thirteenth-century Shaf’I hadith scholar and jurisprudent. Ibn Naquib’s famous handbook carefully summarizes the conclusions of Nawawi’s legal encyclopedia al-Majmu’ on all aspects of practicing Islam, from prayer, marriage, jihad, and inheritance to the other facets of Islamic life. [from the rear cover of the book – letter writer’s note]

On the Amana Publications website, the book is described as follows:
'Umdat al-Salik wa 'Uddat al-Nasik (Reliance of the Traveller and tools of the Worshipper) is a classic manual of fiqh. It represents the fiqh rulings according to the Shafi'I school of jurisprudence. The appendices form an integral part of the book and present original texts and translations from classic works by prominent scholars such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Qudamah, al-Nawawi, al-Qurturbi, al-Dhahabi, Ibn Hajar and other, on topics of Islamic law, faith, spirituality, Qur'anic exegesis and Hadith sciences. It has also biographical notes about every person mentioned (391 biographies), bibliography of each work cited (136 works), and a detailed subject index (95 pages). Of the 136 works drawn upon in its commentary and appendices, 134 are in the original Arabic. The sections and paragraphs have been numbered to facilitate cross-reference.
"There is no doubt that this translation is a valuable and important work, whether as a textbook for teaching Islamic jurisprudence to English speakers, or as a legal reference for use by scholars, educated laymen, and students in this language."
Dr. Taha Jabir al-'Alwani, International Institute of Islamic Thought
(Herndon, VA; December 1990)
"...We certify that this translation corresponds to the Arabic original and conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community (Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama'a)."
al-Azhar, the Muslim world's most prestigious institution of higher Islamic learning (Cairo; February, 1991)
"This translation is a remarkable piece of work that will prove to be indispensable to the English-speaking Muslims and to any Western student of Islam ..."
Dr. A. Kevin Reinhart, Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin (27.2, 1993)
"This is a truly magnificent piece of work that will prove to be indispensable to the English-speaking Muslims and to any Western student of Islam ..."
Dr. Farhat J. Ziadeh, Journal of the American Oriental Society, JAOS (115.1, 1995)
"...We have here in English an authoritative compendium of Muslim Law. All this makes it a valuable resource and reference, which anyone interested in Islam will want to have in his/her library."
Dr. John A. Williams, The Muslim World (85.1-2, 1995)
This is an impressive piece of work...We recommend it to all English-speaking Muslims, and to anyone who is interested in Islamic Law."
Dr. Mokrane Guezzou, Muslim World Books Review, MWBR (15.3, 1995)

The reference for the above descriptions is: http://www.amana-publications.com/amana_bestsellers.shtml.

However, there may be someone who is reading this who is thinking that perhaps this legal reference is not truly representative of Islamic Sacred Law and the writer is providing us with incorrect and misleading information. To anticipate such a reaction here are the first few paragraphs from the introduction to the book (pp. vii-viii):

The four Sunni schools of Islamic law, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’I, and Hanbali, are identical in approximately 75 percent of their legal conclusions, while the remaining questions, variances within a single family of explainers of the Holy Koran and prophetic sunna, are traceable to methodological differences in understanding or authentication of the primary textual evidence, differing viewpoints sometimes reflected in even a single school. The present volume, “Umdat al-salik [The reliance of the traveler], represents one of the finest and most reliable short works in Shafi’i jurisprudence, a school with perhaps fewer scholarly differences on rulings than others because its main resource is the recension of Imam Nawawi, the great thirteenth-century Shafi’i hadith scholar and jurisprudent who upgraded the work of previous generations in terms of the authenticity and application of hadith evidence. The author of Umdat al-salik, Ibn Naqib, closely follows the order and conclusions of Nawawi’s encyclopedic al-Majmu: sharh al-Muhadhdhab [The compendium: an exegesis of the “The rarefication”] with its addendum, al-Takmila [The completion], by Ibn Naquib’s own sheikh, Taqi al-Din Subki. The present volume is virtually an index of the conclusions of the Majmu, and readers interested in evidence from Koran and hadith for the rulings of the present volume can find them there, or, Allah willing, in a forthcoming sister-work to be called The Guidance of the Traveller.

In an age when some Muslims are calling for an end to the four schools of jurisprudence in order to make way for a single school exclusively taken, it is claimed, from the texts of the Koran and hadith, it might be wondered: why offer Muslims a book from a particular school at all? The answer, in part, is that each school does not merely comprise the work of a single Imam, but rather represents a large collectivity of scholars whose research in Sacred Law and its ancillary disciplines has been characterized by considerable division of labor and specialization over a very long period of time. Among the specialists in the field of hadith, for example, who were Shafi’is are such scholars as Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, Ibn Kathir, Dhahabi, and Nawawi; while the school has also had many Koranic exegetes, scholars of the sciences of Arabic and legal specialists, most of whom were actively involved in contributing to the school’s jurisprudence. The result of this division of labor has been a body of legal texts that are arguably superior in evidence, detail, range, and in sheer usefulness to virtually any recent attempt to present Islam as a unified system of human life. For most nontraditional works seen up to the present have been one-man efforts, while the classic texts have been checked and refined by a large number of scholars, and the difference is manifest. At the same time, it is fairly safe to say that there is no single work from any of the schools that has everything, and an impartial student of jurisprudence must surely feel that the research of the schools should not only be learned and transmitted, but also sorted out and recast into a form accessible and suited to Muslim needs today.

Regarding this needs for relevance, it will be noticed that the basic text Umdat al-salik is by no means the only thing in the present work. Three introductory sections in the form of a “user’s guide to the Sacred Law” precede the basic text, personal ethics and character (akhlaq) to Islamic spirituality and tenets of faith, while a final biographical section tells readers who the figures mentioned throughout the book’s legal texts are. Though these separate parts cover a considerable range of topics within the Islamic ethic, the aim in gathering them has been to achieve a unitary reference work that is eclectic in neither subject matter nor scholarly sources.

As for subject matter, the emphasis of the book is on the path we now travel, to paradise or hell, and it is this that unites the work and determines the relative importance of the questions treated; why, for example, a legal discussion from Nawawi’s Kitab al adhkar [The book of the remembrances of Allah] on unlawful slander (ghiba) must be given equal weight to a section on the sunnas of ablution (wudu) from Umdat al-salik, and so on.

As for the sources, the authors translated are, with few exceptions, well-known scholars of the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence and Ash’ari school of tenets of faith, as appears in their biographies. The many who were Sufis were of the strictest observance of the Sacred Law. While such affiliations, and indeed much of what can be termed traditional Sunni Islam, have not been spared the criticism of certain post-caliphal Muslim writers and theorists, the authors of the present volume and their positions do represent the orthodox Muslim intellectual and spiritual heritage that has been the strength of the Community for over a thousand years, and the means through which Allah has preserved His religion, in its purest and fullest sense, to the present day. (letter writer’s emphasis)

Thus, as you can see, the legal texts which I will be quoting are truly representative of orthodox Sunni Muslim legal thinking and do not misrepresent the Sunni Muslim legal point of view in any way. Accordingly, please find excerpted below the legal texts associated with the headings outlined above including all relevant page references. The following symbols within the excerpts mean as follows: A: comment by Sheikh ‘Abd al-Wakil Durubi; N: comment by Sheikh Nuh ‘Ali Salman; n: remark by the translator; and, O: excerpt from the commentary by Sheikh ‘Umar Barakat.

1. Offensive, military jihad against non-Muslims is a communal, religious obligation

pp. 599-603

O9.0 JIHAD

(O: Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad. As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said as he was returning from jihad,

“We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.”
The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus is such Koranic verses as:

(1) “Fighting is prescribed for you” (Koran 2:216);

(2) “Slay them wherever you find them” (Koran 4:89);

(3) “Fight the idolaters utterly” (Koran 9:36);

and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

“I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah”;

and the hadith reported by Muslim,

“To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.”

Details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of the military expeditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others. The former consist of the ones he personally attended, some twenty-seven (others say twenty-nine) of them. He fought in eight of them, and killed only one person with his noble hand, Ubayy ibn Khalaf, at the battle of Uhud. On the latter expeditions he sent others to fight, himself remaining at Medina, and these were forty-seven in number.)

THE OBLIGATORY CHARACTER OF JIHAD

09.1 Jihad is a communal obligation. When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is no longer obligatory upon others (O: the evidence for which is the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace),

“He who provides the equipment for a soldier in jihad has himself performed jihad,”

and Allah Most High having said:

“Those of the believers who are unhurt but sit behind are not equal to those who fight in Allah’s path with their property and lives. Allah has preferred those who fight with their property and lives a whole degree above those who sit behind. And to each, Allah has promised great good” (Koran 4:95)

If none of those concerned perform jihad, and it does not happen at all, then everyone who is aware that it is obligatory is guilty of sin, if there was a possibility of having performed it. In the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) jihad was a communal obligation after his emigration (hijra) to Medina. As for subsequent times, there are two possible states in respect to non-Muslims.

The first is when they are in their own countries, in which case jihad is a communal obligation, and this is what our author is speaking of when he says, “Jihad is a communal obligation,” meaning upon the Muslims each year.

The second state is when non-Muslims invade a Muslim country or near to one, in which case jihad is personally obligatory upon the inhabitants of that country, who must repel the non-Muslims with whatever they can.

0.9.2 Jihad is personally obligatory upon all those present in the battle lines (A: and to flee is an enormity) (O: provided one is able to fight. If unable, because of illness or the death of one’s mount when not able to fight on foot, or because one no longer has a weapon, then one may leave. One may also leave if the opposing non-Muslim army is more than twice the size of the Muslim force).

0.9.3 Jihad is also (O: personally) obligatory for everyone (O: able to perform it, male or female, old or young) when the enemy has surrounded the Muslims (O: on every side, having entered our territory, even if the land consists of ruins, wilderness, or mountains, for the non-Muslim forces entering Muslim lands is a weighty matter that cannot be ignored, but must be met with effort and struggle to repel them by every possible means. All of which is if conditions permit gathering (A: the above mentioned) people, provisioning them, and readying them for war, then whoever is found by a non-Muslim and knows he will be killed if captured is obliged to defend himself in whatever way is possible. But if not certain that he will be killed, meaning that he might or might not be, as when he might merely be taken captive, and he knows he will be killed if he does not surrender, then he may either surrender or fight. A woman too has a choice between fighting or surrendering if she is certain that she will not be subjected to an indecent act if captured. If uncertain that she will be safe from such an act, she is obliged to fight, and surrender is not permissible.

WHO IS OBLIGED TO FIGHT IN JIHAD

Those called upon (O: to perform jihad when it is a communal obligation) are every able-bodied man who has reached puberty and is sane.

….

THE OBJECTIVES OF JIHAD

0.9.8 The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya) – which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself – while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (O: in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,

“Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden – who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book – until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled” (Koran 9:29),

the time and place for which is before the final descent of Jesus (upon whom be peace). After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent (upon him and our Prophet be peace), which is the divinely revealed law of Muhammad. The coming of Jesus does not entail a separate divinely revealed law, for he will rule by the law of Muhammad. As for the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace),

“I am the last, there will be no prophet after me.”

this does not contradict the final coming of Jesus (upon whom be peace), since he will not rule according to the Evangel, but as a follower of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)).

0.9.9 The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim (O: because they are not a people with a Book, nor honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax (jizya)) (n: though according to the Hanafi school, people of all other religions, even idol worshippers, are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax, the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim (al-Hidaya sharh Bidaya al-mubtadi (y21), 6.48-49)).

2. A person who is ignorant about Islamic legal opinion must follow the legal opinion of a scholar

p. 20

b5.0 THE OBLIGATORINESS OF FOLLOWING QUALIFIED SCHOLARSHIP

b5.1 (Muhammad Sa’id Buti:) Because scholars accept the evidence from Koran, sunna and reason as complete and intersubstantiative that the ordinary person or learned one not at the level of textual dedication and ijtihad is not entitled but to follow a qualified mujtahid who has a comprehensive grasp of the evidence – they say that a formal legal opinion (fatwa) from a mujtahid is in relation to the ordinary person just as a proof from the Koran and sunna is in relation to the mujtahid. For the Koran, just as it obligates the scholar thoroughly versed in it to hold to its evidences and proofs, also obligates (n: in the verse quoted above at b2.1) the uninformed person to adhere to the formal legal opinion of the scholar and his ijtihad (ibid., 73).

3. The penalty for a Muslim apostate (someone who no longer believes in or no longer follows the tenets of Islam) is death

pp. 595-598

o8.0 APOSTASY FROM ISLAM (RIDDA)

(O: Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst. It may come about through sarcasm, as when someone is told, “Trim your nails, it is sunna,” and he replies, “I would not do it even if it were,” as opposed to when some circumstance exists which exonerates him of having committed apostasy, such as when his tongue runs away with him, or when he is quoting someone, or says it out of fear.)

o8.1 When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed.

o8.2 In such a case, it is obligatory for the caliph (A: or his representative) to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does, it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.

o8.3 If he is a freeman, no one besides the caliph or his representatives may kill him. If someone else kills him, the killer is disciplined (def: o17) (O: for arrogating the caliph’s prerogative and encroaching upon his rights, as this is one of his duties).

o8.4 There is no indemnity for killing an apostate (O: or any expiation, since it is killing someone who deserves to die).

o8.5 If he apostatizes from Islam and returns several times, it (O: i.e. his return to Islam, which occurs when he states the two Testifications of Faith (def: o8.7(12))) is accepted from him, though he is disciplined (o17).

o8.6 (A: If a spouse in a consummated marriage apostatizes from Islam, the couple are separated for a waiting period consisting of three intervals between menstruations. If the spouse returns to Islam before the waiting period ends, the marriage is not annulled but is considered to have continued the whole time (dis: m7.4).)

ACTS THAT ENTAIL LEAVING ISLAM

o8.7 (O: Among the things that entail apostasy from Islam (may Allah protect us from them) are:

(1) to prostrate to an idol, whether sarcastically, out of mere contrariness, or in actual conviction, like that of someone who believes the creator to be something that has originated in time. Like idols in this respect are the sun or moon, and like prostration is bowing to other than Allah, if one intends reverence towards it like the reverence due to Allah;

(2) to intend to commit unbelief, even if in the future. And like this intention is hesitating whether to do so or not: one thereby immediately commits unbelief;

(3) to speak words that imply unbelief such as “Allah is the third of three,” or “I am Allah” – unless one’s tongue has run away with one, or one is quoting another, or is one of the friends of Allah Most High (wali, def: w33) in a spiritually intoxicated state of oblivion (A: a friend of Allah or not, someone totally oblivious is as if insane, and is not held legally responsible (dis: k13.1 (O:))), for these latter do not entail unbelief;

(4) to revile Allah or his messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace);

(5) to deny the existence of Allah, His beginningless eternality, His endless eternality, or to deny any of His attributes which the consensus of Muslims ascribes to Him (dis: v1);

(6) to be sarcastic about Allah’s name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat;

(7) to deny any verse of the Koran or anything which by scholarly consensus (def: b7) belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it;

(8) to mockingly say, “I don’t know what faith is”;

(9) to reply to someone who says, “There is no power or strength save through Allah”: “Your saying ‘There’s no power or strength, etc.’ won’t save you from hunger”;

(10) for a tyrant, after an oppressed person says, “This is through the decree of Allah,” to reply, “I act without the decree of Allah”’;

(11) to say that a Muslim is an unbeliever (kafir) (dis: w47) in words that are uninterpretable as merely meaning he is an ingrate towards Allah for divinely given blessings (n: in Arabic, also “kafir”);

(12) when someone asks to be taught the Testification of Faith (Ar. Shahada, the words, “La ilaha ill Allahu Muhammadun rasulu Llah” (There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah)), and a Muslim refuses to teach him it;

(13) to describe a Muslim or someone who wants to become a Muslim in terms of unbelief (kufr);

(14) to deny the obligatory character of something which by the consensus of Muslims (ijma’, def: b7) is part of Islam, when it is well known as such, like the prayer (salat) or even one rak’a from one of the five obligatory prayers, if there is no excuse (def: u2.4);

(15) to hold that any of Allah’s messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent;

(n: ‘Ala’ al-Din ‘Abidin adds the following:

(16) to revile the religion of Islam;

(17) to believe that things in themselves or by their own nature have any causal influence independent of the will of Allah;

(18) to deny the existence of angels or jinn (def: w22), or the heavens;

(19) to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law;

(20) to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world (dis: w4.3-4) (al-Hadiyya al-‘Ala’iyya (y4), 423-24).)

There are others, for the subject is nearly limitless. May Allah Most High save us and all Muslims from it.)

p. 109, f1.3

f1.3 Someone raised among Muslims who denies the obligatoriness of the prayer, zakat, fasting Ramadan, the pilgrimage, or the unlawfulness of wine and adultery, or denies something else upon which there is scholarly concensus (ijima’, def: b7) and which is necessarily known as being of the religion (N: necessarily known meaning things that any Muslim would know about if asked) thereby becomes an unbeliever (kafir) and is executed for his unbelief. (O: if he does not admit he is mistaken and acknowledge the obligatoriness or unlawfulness of that which is there is scholarly consensus upon. As for if he denies the obligatoriness of something there is not consensus upon, then he is not adjudged an unbeliever).

4. When slaughtering animals for food, a knife must be used to cut the windpipe and gullet

p. 364-365

j17.4 The necessary condition for slaughtering any animal which is within one’s capacity to slaughter (O: domesticated or wild) is to cut both the windpipe and the gullet (O: windpipe meaning the channel of breath, and gullet meaning the channel of food and drink which lies beneath the windpipe. ….

The slaughterer should cut swiftly and not take his time such that he has to cut two or more times.

5. A woman is only eligible to receive half the inheritance of a man

p. 477-478

L6.3 (N: A summary of X’s husband’s share:
- ½ if there is no inheriting descendant
- ¼ if there is an inheriting descendant.
- The husband’s share is not eliminated by anyone.)

L6.4 (N: A summary of X’s wife’s share:

- ¼ if there is no inheriting descendant
- 1/8 if there is an inheriting descendant
- The wife’s share is not eliminated by anyone.)

6. Marriage may be forced on virgins by their father or father’s father

p. 522, m3.13

GUARDIANS WHO MAY MARRY A VIRGIN TO A MAN WITHOUT HER CONSENT

m3.13 Guardians are of two types, those who may compel their female charges to marry someone, and those who may not.

(1) The only guardians who may compel their charge to marry are a virgin bride’s father or father’s father, compel meaning to marry her to a suitable match (def: m4) without her consent.

(2) Those who may not compel her are not entitled to marry her to someone unless she accepts and gives her permission.

Whenever the bride is a virgin, the father or father’s father may marry her to someone without her permission, though it is recommended to ask her permission if she has reached puberty. A virgin’s silence is considered as permission.


7. A non-Arab man may not marry an Arab woman

p. 523, m4.2

m4.2 The following are not suitable matches for one another:

(1) a non-Arab man for an Arab woman (O: because of the hadith that the prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“Allah has chosen the Arabs above others”)

8. A woman must seek permission from her husband to leave the house

p. 538

PERMITTING ONE’S WIFE TO LEAVE THE HOUSE

m10.3 (A: A husband may permit his wife to leave the house for a lesson in Sacred Law, for invocation of Allah (dhikr), to see her female friends, or to go to any place in the town. A woman may not leave the city without her husband or a member of her unmarriageable kin (def: m6.2) accompanying her, unless the journey is obligatory, like the hajj. It is unlawful for her to travel otherwise, and unlawful for her husband to allow her to.) (n: In the Hanafi school, it is not unlawful for her to travel beyond city limits without a husband or member of her unmarriageable kin unless the distance to her intended destination exceeds ca. 77 km./48 mi. (al-Lubab fi sharh al-Kitab (y88), 1.105).)

m10.4 The husband may forbid his wife to leave the home (O: because of the hadith related by Bayhaqu that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to allow someone into her husband’s house if he is opposed, or to go out if he is averse”).

But if one of her relatives dies, it is preferable to let her leave to visit them.

9. A Muslim man cannot marry a woman who is a Zoroastrian, an idol worshipper, an apostate from Islam or a woman with one parent who is Jewish or Christian, with the other being Zoroastrian; a Muslim woman cannot marry anyone but a Muslim

p. 529

m6.7 It is unlawful for a Muslim man to marry:

(1) a Zoroastrian woman;

(2) an idol worshipper;

(3) an apostate from Islam (murtadd, def: o8);

(4) or a woman with one parent who is Jewish or Christian, while the other is Zoroastrian.

(5) (N: It is not lawful or valid for a Muslim man to be married to any woman who is not either a Muslim, Christian, or Jew; nor is it lawful or valid for a Muslim woman to be married to anyone besides a Muslim.)

10. A free Muslim man may marry up to four women

p. 530

m6.10 It is unlawful for a free man to marry more than four women.


11. Retaliation is obligatory in most cases when someone is deliberately murdered except when a Muslim kills a non-Muslim, a Jew or Christian kills a Muslim apostate, or a father or mother kill their offspring

pp. 582-584
o.1.0 WHO IS SUBJECT TO RETALIATION FOR INJURIOUS CRIMES



o1.1 Retaliation is obligatory (A: if the person entitled wishes to take it (dis: o3.8)) against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right. ….

o1.2 The following are not subject to retaliation:



(2) a Muslim for killing a non-Muslim;

(3) a Jewish or Christian subject of the Islamic state for killing an apostate from Islam (O: because a subject of the state is under its protection, while killing an apostate from Islam is without consequences);

(4) a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.

12. Non-Muslim subjects (Ahl al-Dhimma) of a Muslim state are subject to a series of discriminatory laws – “dhimmitude”

pp. 607-609

o11.0 NON-MUSLIM SUBJECTS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE (AHL AL-DHIMMA)

o11.1 A formal agreement of protection is made with citizens who are:

(1) Jews;
(2) Christians;
(3) Zoroastrians;
(4) Samarians and Sabians, if their religions do not respectively contradict the fundamental bases of Judaism and Christianity;
(5) and those who adhere to the religion of Abraham or one of the other prophets (upon whom be blessings and peace).

o11.2 Such an agreement may not be effected with those who are idol worshippers (dis: o9.9 (n:)), or those who do not have a Sacred Book or something that could have been a Book.

(A: Something that could have been a book refers to those like the Zoroastrians, who have remnants resembling an ancient Book. As for the pseudoscriptures of cults that have appeared since Islam (n: such as the Sikhs, Baha’is, Mormons, Qadianis, etc.), they neither are nor could be a Book, since the Koran is the final revelation (dis: w4).)

o11.3 Such an agreement is only valid when the subject peoples:

(a) follow the rules of Islam (A: those mentioned below (o11.5) and those involving public behavior and dress, though in acts of worship and their private lives, the subject communities have their own laws, judges, and courts, enforcing the rules of their own religion among themselves);
(b) and pay the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya).

THE NON-MUSLIM POLL TAX

o11.4 The minimum non-Muslim poll tax is one dinar (n: 4.235 grams of gold) per person (A: per year). The maximum is whatever both sides agree upon.

It is collected with leniency and politeness, as are all debts, and is not levied on women, children, or the insane.

o11.5 Such non-Muslim subjects are obliged to comply with Islamic rules that pertain to the safety and indemnity of life, reputation, and property. In addition, they:

(1) are penalized for committing adultery or theft, though not for drunkenness;
(2) are distinguished from Muslims in dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar);
(3) are not greeted with “as-Salamu alaykum”;
(4) must keep to the side of the street;
(5) may not build higher than or as high as the Muslims’ buildings, though if they acquire a tall house, it is not razed;
(6) are forbidden to openly display wine or pork, (A: to ring church bells or display crosses,) recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feastdays;
(7) and are forbidden to build new churches.

o11.6 They are forbidden to reside in the Hijaz, meaning the area and towns around Mecca, Medina, and Yamama, for more than three days (when the caliph allows them to enter there for something they need).

o11.7 A non-Muslim may not enter the Meccan Sacred Precinct (Haram) under any circumstances, or enter any other mosque without permission (A: nor may Muslims enter churches without their permission).

o11.8 It is obligatory for the caliph (def: o25) to protect those of them who are in Muslim lands just as he would Muslims, and to seek the release of those of them who are captured.

o11.9 If non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state refuse to conform to the rules of Islam, or to pay the non-Muslim poll tax, then their agreement with the state has been violated (dis: o11.11) (A: though if only one of them disobeys, it concerns him alone).

o11.10 The agreement is also violated (A: with respect to the offender alone) if the state has stipulated that any of the following things break it, and one of the subjects does so anyway, though if the state has not stipulated that these break the agreement, then they do not; namely, if one of the subject people:

(1) commits adultery with a Muslim woman or marries her;
(2) conceals spies of hostile forces;
(3) leads a Muslim away from Islam;
(4) kills a Muslim;
(5) or mentions something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), or Islam.

o11.11 When a subject’s agreement with the state has been violated, the caliph chooses between the four alternatives mentioned above in connection with prisoners of war (o9.14).

13. The penalty for fornication or sodomy is being stoned to death

p. 610

o12.0 THE PENALTY FOR FORNICATION OR SODOMY

o12.1 The legal penalty is obligatorily imposed upon anyone who fornicates or commits sodomy (A: provided it is legally established (def: n11.2(O))) when they:

(a) have reached puberty;

(b) are sane;

(c) and commit the act voluntarily;

no matter whether the person is a Muslim, non-Muslim subject of the Islamic state, or someone who has left Islam.

o12.2 If the offender is someone with the capacity to remain chaste, then he or she is stoned to death (def: o12.6), someone with the capacity to remain chaste meaning anyone who has had sexual intercourse (A: at least once) with their spouse in a valid marriage, and is free, of age, and sane. A person is not considered to have the capacity to remain chaste if he or she is has only had intercourse in a marriage that is invalid, or is prepubescent at the time of marital intercourse, or is someone insane at the time of marital intercourse who subsequently regains their sanity prior to committing adultery.

If the offender is not someone with the capacity to remain chaste, then the penalty consists of being scourged (def: o12.5) one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50 mi. for one year.

14. The penalty for an initial theft is amputation of the right hand. Subsequent thefts are penalized by further amputations of feet and hand

o14.0 THE PENALTY FOR THEFT

o14.1 A person’s right hand is amputated, whether he is a Muslim, non-Muslim subject of the Islamic state, or someone who has left Islam, when he:

(a) has reached puberty;

(b) is sane;

(c) is acting voluntarily;

(d) and steals at least a quarter of a dinar (n: 1.058 grams of gold) or goods worth that much (A: at the market prices current) at the time of the theft;

(e) from a place meeting the security requirements normal (A: in that locality and time) for safeguarding similar articles (def: o14.3);

(f) provided there is no possible confusion (dis: o14.2(3)) as to whether he took it by way of theft or for some other reason.

If a person steals a second time, his left foot is amputated; if a third time, then his left hand; and if he steals again, then his right foot. If he steals a fifth time, he is disciplined (def: o17). If he does not have a right hand (N: at the first offense), then his left foot is amputated. If he has a right hand but loses it after the theft (O: by an act of God) but before he has been punished for it, then nothing is amputated. After amputation, the limb is cauterized with hot oil (A: which in previous times was the means to stop the bleeding and save the criminal’s life).

15. A non-Muslim cannot testify against a Muslim in court; a person who is “without respectability” cannot give legal testimony; a woman’s legal testimony is only given half the legal weight of a man’s (and is only acceptable in cases involving property); to legally prove fornication or sodomy requires 4 male witnesses who actually saw the act

p. 635

o24.0 WITNESSING AND TESTIFYING



o24.2 Legal testimony is only acceptable from a witness who:



(e) is religious (O: meaning upright (o24.4) (A: and Muslim), for Allah Most High says,

“Let those of rectitude among you testify” (Koran 65:2),

and unbelief is the vilest form of corruption, as goes without saying).

o24.3 Nor is testimony acceptable from someone who:



(3) … is without respectability (def: o24.2(f)), such as a street-sweeper, bathhouse attendant, and the like.

o24.7 The testimony of the following is legally acceptable when it concerns cases involving property, or transactions dealing with property, such as sales:

(1) two men;

(2) two women and a man;

(3) or a male witness together with the oath of the plaintiff.

o24.8 If testimony does not concern property, such as marriage or prescribed legal penalties, then only two male witnesses may testify (A: though the Hanafi school holds that two women and a man may testify for marriage).

o24.9 If testimony concerns fornication or sodomy, then it requires four male witnesses (O: who testify, in the case of fornication, that they have seen the offender insert the head of his penis into her vagina).

16. The establishment and continuation of the Islamic Caliphate (by force, if necessary) is a communal obligation

pp. 638-639

THE OBLIGATORY CHARACTER OF THE CALIPHATE

o25.1 (Mawardi:) The reason the office of supreme leadership has been established in Sacred Law is to fulfill the caliphal successorship to prophethood in preserving the religion and managing this-worldly affairs. The investiture of someone from the Islamic Community (Umma) able to fulfill the duties of the caliphate is obligatory by scholarly consensus (def: b7), though scholars differ as to whether its obligatory character is established through reason or through Revealed Law.

pp. 642-644

THE THREE WAYS A CALIPH MAY BE INVESTED WITH OFFICE

o25.4 The caliphate may be legally effected … (1) by an oath of fealty … (2) … by the caliph appointing a successor … (3) through seizure of power by an individual possessing the qualifications of a caliph (H: meaning by force …) [letter writer’s emphasis]

17. Sodomites and Lesbians must be killed

pp. 664-665

p17.0 SODOMY AND LESBIANISM

p17.1 In more than one place in the Holy Koran, Allah recounts to us the story of Lot’s people, and how he destroyed them for their wicked practice. There is consensus among both Muslims and the followers of all other religions that sodomy is an enormity. It is even viler and uglier than adultery.

p17.2 Allah Most High says:

“Do you approach the males of humanity, leaving the wives Allah has created for you? But you are a people who transgress” (Koran 26:165-66).

p17.3 The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

(1) “Kill the one who sodomizes and the one who lets it be done to him.”

(2) “May Allah curse him who does what Lot’s people did.”

(3) “Lesbianism by women is adultery between them.”

18. Laughing too much is forbidden

p. 755-756

r19.0 JOKING



r19.2 Excessive joking is blameworthy and forbidden, since it eliminates one’s dignity and reserve, and creates resentment in certain situations and people. It also causes immoderate laughter, which kills the heart. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to his companions,



“Avoid excessive laughter, for too much laughter kills the heart.”

19. Musical instruments are unlawful

pp. 774-775

r40.0 MUSIC, SONG, AND DANCE

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
r40.1 (Ibn Hajar Haytami:) As for the condemnation of musical instruments, flutes, strings and the like by the Truthful and Trustworthy (Allah bless him and give him peace), who

“does not speak from personal caprice: it is nothing besides a revelation inspired” (Koran 53:3-4),

let those who refuse to obey him beware lest calamity strike them, or a painful torment. The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:

(1) “Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.”

(2) “On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress.”

(3) “Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage.”

(4) “This community will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones.” Someone asked, “When will this be, O Messenger of Allah?” and he said, “When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful.”

(5) “There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful ….”

All of this is explicit and compelling textual evidence that musical instruments of all types are unlawful (Kaff al-ra’a’ ‘an muharramat al-lahw wa al-sama’ (y49), 2.269-70).

20. Creating pictures of animate life is forbidden

p.958

w50.0 THE PROHIBITION OF DEPICTING ANIMATE LIFE (from p44.1 (n:))

HADITH EVIDENCE OF THE PROHIBITION OF DEPICTING ANIMATE LIFE

w50.1 (‘Abd al-Ghaffar ‘Uyun al-Sud:) One should realize that the prohibition of picture making is extremely severe, that it is counted among the enormities, and the threats against doing it are very emphatic. Bukhari and Muslim relate that a man came to Ibn ‘Abbas (Allah be well pleased with him and his father) and said, “My livelihood comes solely from my hands, and I make these pictures. Can you give me a legal opinion about them?” Ibn ‘Abbas told him, “Come closer,” and the man did. “Closer,” he said, and the man did, until he put his hand on the man’s head and said: “Shall I tell you what I heard from the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)? I heard the Messenger of Allah say,

“`Every maker of pictures will go to the fire, where a being will be set upon him to torment him in hell for every picture he made.’

“So if you must, draw trees and things without animate life in them.”

21. Female circumcision, which includes the excision of the clitoris, is obligatory

A NOTE FROM THE LETTER WRITER:

Since I began to study the Shariah, a deliberate mistranslation of the text in the Reliance of the Traveller (the book from which I am excerpting the legal clauses in this letter) regarding female circumcision has been brought to my attention. The mistranslation was brought to my attention through my reading the witness statement of Mark Durie, Senior Associate with the title of Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics of the University of Melbourne, Victoria, who makes this statement for the respondents, Catch the Fire Ministries Inc, and Pastors Daniel Nalliah and Daniel Scott, who are the subject of a complaint brought by the Islamic Council of Victoria Inc. in the State of Victoria, Australia.

If you wish to learn more about the case, Mr. Durie’s witness statement is available online at: http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/001307.php. Also, more information about the case is available online at: http://www.catchthefire.com.au/.

The information regarding the mistranslation is on page 50 of the witness statement. As Mr. Durie states, the Arabic at e4.3, p. 59 is mistranslated as follows:

This is translated by Nuh Hah Mim Keller as follows:
“Circumcision is obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)”

However what the Arabic actually says is:
“Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris (this is called HufaaD).”

This deceptive translation obscures the Shafi’i law, given by ‘Umdat al-Salik, that circumcision of girls by excision of the clitoris is mandatory.

The above quotation can be found on page 50, Witness Statement of Mark John Durie, http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/Witness%20Statement.pdf.

22. Slavery is permitted

LETTER WRITER’S NOTE:

Although slavery is the subject of elaborate legal prescriptions in Shariah law, the translator of the Reliance of the Traveller, Nuh Ha Mim Keller, declined to translate the Shariah law sections pertaining to slavery because “… the issue is no longer current ….” (p.459) Of course, people in the Sudan and other Muslim countries might disagree with Mr. Keller’s assertion. If you are interested in finding out what the Shariah law is regarding slavery, there are many books which forthrightly discuss the legal prescriptions, one original and esteemed translated source being the The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, Volume 2 by Ibn Rushd (known as the philosopher, Averroes in the West). It is available at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1859641393/qid=1083687107/.

However, the Koran is unambiguous on the matter of slavery:

33:50 - "Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom Allah has given you as booty."

23:1 – “Blessed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers; who avoid profane talk, and give alms to the destitute; who restrain their carnal desires (except with their wives and slave-girls, for these are lawful to them) ….”

24:31 - “Believers, turn to Allah in repentance, that you may prosper. Take in marriage those among you who are single and those of your male and female slaves who are honest.”

24:33 – “You shall not force your slave-girls into prostitution in order that you may make money, if they wish to preserve their chastity.”

4: 24 – “You are also forbidden to take in marriage married women, except captives whom you own as slaves.”

4:92 – “It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer except by accident. He that accidentally kills a believer must free one Muslim slave and pay blood-money to the family of the victim, unless they choose to give it away in alms.”

23. People may be bribed to convert to Islam

p.270, h.8.14

THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE TO BE RECONCILED

h.8.14 The fourth category is those whose hearts are to be reconciled. If they are non-Muslims, they are not given Zakat [letter writer’s note: Zakat is a kind of tithe that all Muslims are required to pay], but if Muslims, then they may be given it (O: so that their certainty may increase, or if they are recent converts to Islam and are alienated from their kin).

Those to be reconciled include:

(1) the chief personages of a people (O: with weak Islamic intentions) whose Islam may be expected to improve, or whose peers may be expected to enter Islam;
(2) or the heads of a people who collect zakat for us from Muslims living near them who refuse to pay it, or who fight an enemy for us at considerable expense and trouble to themselves.

24. Beating a rebellious wife is permissible

p. 540, m10.12

DEALING WITH A REBELLIOUS WIFE

m10.12 When a husband notices signs of rebelliousness in his wife (nushuz, dis: p42) (O: whether in words, as when she answers him coldly when she used to do so politely, or he asks her to come to bed and she refuses, contrary to her usual habit; or whether in acts, as when he finds her averse to him when she was previously kind and cheerful), he warns her in words (O: without keeping from her or hitting her, for it may be that she has an excuse. The warning could be to tell her, “Fear Allah concerning the rights you owe to me,” or it could be to explain that rebelliousness nullifies his obligation to support her and give her a turn amongst other wives, or it could be to inform her, “Your obeying me [def: (3) below] is religiously obligatory”). If she commits rebelliousness, he keeps from sleeping (O: and having sex) with her without words, and may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not (A: bruise her,), break bones, wound her, or cause blood to flow. (O: It is unlawful to strike another’s face.) He may hit her whether she is rebellious only once or whether more than once, though a weaker opinion holds that he may not hit her unless there is repeated rebelliousness.

25. Lying is permissible in a time of war (or jihad)

pp. 744-745

PERMISSIBLE LYING

R8.2 The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said,

“He who settles disagreements between people to bring about good or says something commendable is not a liar.”

This much is related by both Bukhar and Muslim, with Muslim’s version recording that Umm Kulthum added,

“I did not hear him permit untruth in anything people say, except for three things: war, settling disagreements, and a man talking with his wife or she with him (A: in smoothing over differences).”

This is an explicit statement that lying is sometimes permissible for a given interest, scholars having established criteria defining what types of it are lawful. The best analysis of it I have seen is by Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali, who says, “Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible (N: i.e. when the purpose of lying is to circumvent someone who is preventing one from doing something permissible), and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory. … Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining the sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate against one so that he will forbear to do so; it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can only be attained through lying. But it is religiously more precautionary in all such cases to employ words that give a misleading impression, meaning to intend by one’s words something that is literally true, in respect to which one is not lying, while the outward purport of the words deceives the hearer, though even if one does not have such an intention and merely lies without intending anything else, it is not unlawful in the above circumstances.”

I hope that you have found these examples of Shariah law to be instructive and educational.

Yours sincerely,

Mentat

Rainsborough said...

The useful question is whether the percentage of Muslims who go on murder sprees is greater than, less than, or equal to their percentage of the population.

WHAT'S THE EVIDENCE THAT IN CONSERVATIVE BACKWARD MUSLIM COUNTRIES, MURDER SPREES ARE MORE COMMON THAN IN THE LAND OF COLUMBINE? WOULDN'T THE EXPECTATION BE THAT WHERE ALIENATION AND ANOMIE ARE NOT TO BE FOUND, WHERE COMMUNAL TIES BASED IN COMMON FAITH PREVAIL, THE RATE WOULD BE LOWER?


Certainly it is the case that Islam advocates murder in a way that no other major world religion does.

IT'S A COMMONPLACE AMONG MUSLIMS THAT THEIR RELIGION DOESN'T PERMIT THE KILLING OF THE INNOCENT--MURDER.

Revenant said...

WHAT'S THE EVIDENCE THAT IN CONSERVATIVE BACKWARD MUSLIM COUNTRIES, MURDER SPREES ARE MORE COMMON THAN IN THE LAND OF COLUMBINE?

You should really compare Muslims and non-Muslims within the *same* country. Also, given that it is NON-Muslims that Muslims stand accused of being murderous towards, looking for Islamic murders in monocultural Muslim nations isn't likely to bear fruit.

If, however, you wish to examine the citizens of "conservative backwards Muslim countries", the citizenry of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria all commit many times more murders per capita than Americans do. The police states of Saudi Arabia and Egypt have lower murder rates of their fellow citizens than the USA does, but Egyptian and Saudi civilians have committed thousands of murders in the past few years while travelling abroad in other countries (e.g. the United States and Iraq).

WOULDN'T THE EXPECTATION BE THAT WHERE ALIENATION AND ANOMIE ARE NOT TO BE FOUND, WHERE COMMUNAL TIES BASED IN COMMON FAITH PREVAIL, THE RATE WOULD BE LOWER?

Yes, Islam generally doesn't advocate murdering you provided you're willing to be assimilated into the Islam-i-Borg and make no attempt to leave the faith thereafter. It is the poor bastards who feel like exercising freedom of conscience who wind up minus a head.

IT'S A COMMONPLACE AMONG MUSLIMS THAT THEIR RELIGION DOESN'T PERMIT THE KILLING OF THE INNOCENT--MURDER.

Muslims define "innocent" differently than non-Muslims do. For example, atheists are by definition not innocent; neither are Muslims who leave the faith, members of non-Abrahamic religions who refuse to convert to Islam, or Christians and Jews who refuse to submit to status as second-class citizens. Killing all of the above people is, in Mohammed's view, not merely acceptable, but mandatory.

So, no, Islam does not advocate killing those who Islamofascists would deem innocent. But it most certainly advocates -- indeed, demands -- the killing of countless people whom enlightened Western thinkers consider to be innocent.

Zev said...

CATHY wrote;
"Yet, in response to my assertion that he does not recognize the existence of moderate Islam, he points to an item in which he mentions a moderate Muslim.

Sleight of hand, anyone?"

There´s no contradiction. Absence of the one(a concept, an idea) doesn´t exclude the presence of the other(an individual, a human being who due to reason has cast off all belligerent tenets of Islam.)

Another note(sort of relates to the above too though);
In Europe the EU is adopting a PC, and supposedly "Spiritual" Jihad of Sufis as THE definition of Jihad.
But even Islamophilic scholar Reuven Firestone who tried to find Hadith supporting this had to admit he couldn´t find it. Moreover modern Moslem fundamentalists such as fx Sayed Qutb rejected the existence of any such Hadith.
On the other hand here´s something from paragon of Sufis, this he wrote in 1101;

"[O]ne must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year…one may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them…If a person of the Ahl al-Kitab [People of The Book – primarily Jews and Christians] is enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked…One may cut down their trees…One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide…they may steal as much food as they need…"


Sounds peaceful, don´t you think Cathy?
And notice the "tolerance" towards other religions shows in the phrase "...One must destroy their useless books"

You think that´s old? Like "But that was then, not now"?

If so here´s bigotry for you;
http://switch5.castup.net/frames/20041020_MemriTV_Popup/video_480x360.asp?ClipMediaID=60227&ak=null

Notice, it is HIM actually saying what he is saying.
Not claimed to be saying. He IS saying it.
MEMRI(and PMW) has more...
(Middle Eastern Media Research Institute, Palestinian Media Watch)

And considering the extent of similar things being flaunted in Middle-Eastern countries it is a feat by MSM to steer clear of it.


Zev

Kab bin Ashraf said...

Admin,

Your long-winded propaganda can be summed up with one phrase: Islamic supremacism. This anti-infidel attitude is a reflection of two main factors.

The first is this core Islamic assumption: The Koran, Islam, is perfect (2:2, 5:3); ergo, all criticisms of Islam are due to the (Koran-alleged) lack of intelligence, evil/corruption, and perversion/sickness of the non-Muslims and Muslims who've gone astray (reformers, hypocrites, etc.). This, of course, is simply ad hominem. It insists that because non-Muslims (or disobedient Muslims) are who they are, they cannot possibly understand, much less criticize fairly, the Islamic texts.

The second, which fits quite well with the first in modern times, is anti-western bigotry of post-modernists, Marxists, anti-Semites (e.g., Edward Said), and such, who employ a variety of attacks including claims that criticism of Islam is an expression of colonialism, power/dominance, 'Islamophobia', racism, etc. This type of defence (actually, a counter-attack) is quite similar to the ad hominem technique cited above, but also makes use of another related logical fallacy called poisoning the well (anything that comes from evil imperialist westerners must be bad, therefore it is). In addition, the anti-western camp has adopted a curious perspective known as moral relativism (even though they insist that western standards are the worst). Thus, any attempt to criticize a non-Western culture is regarded as somehow a wrong or evil or at least a wrong-headed thing to do (even though there are no independent standards of good and evil, and no standards of objective truth, according to this same view).

Admin is trying to take advantage of these kinds of fallacies and prejudices. He fails to do the simple and obvious: Defend Islam from the charges, straight up, without smoke-and-mirrors, logical fallacies, name-calling ("Orientalist"!), etc.

Some of the charges have been laid out in my first post in this thread, as well as in Mentat's post. We are quoting Islamic texts and Islamic law, the mainstream view. I have had hundreds of discussions with Muslims, and none have been able to answer even the most basic criticisms about Islam. It's all diversion, distraction, and deception. It is truly rare for any Muslim to admit that there are any problems in the Koran. The Koran, nearly all of them say, is perfect.

Martin 665 said...

Ms. Young,

Greetings! First of all, I loved your recent post "Sorry, but more on C******."

I have questions, however, about some of your statements in this post, "JihadWatch.com and anti-Muslim bigotry."

In order to try to make sense out of this world, it is paramount that one dig as deeply as possible, in order to establish facts. In other words, don't take anything at face value -- such as the statements made at JihadWatch.org/DhimmiWatch.org, and the statements you've made here.

At your convenience, please respond to the following questions so that we can establish a foundation for your assertions. Mr. Spencer provides these references on a regular basis. However, I saw no such links in your statements, specifically on the following two points:

(1) "... a lot of people who have at least as much knowlege of the subject as Robert Spencer does, ... radically disagree with his interpretations."
Could you please include the names ("a lot" of names, you say) of these other experts on Islam, and references to the specific publications and page numbers where they support their radical disagreement with Mr. Spencer's interpretations?

(2) "There are regions, such as Bosnia, where the Muslim populations are modern and moderate, and there are progressive and reformist forces within Islam."
Again, would you please provide references supporting these assertions?

Finally, you stated that:
"Islamic reformation may well be more difficult than Christian reformation. It does not follow that it's impossible."

True. But under current circumstances, how probable is it? Are we willing to bet our lives on it?

Respectfully,

Martin 665

Rainsborough said...

I suppose what we really want is the get at the relation between devotion to the faith and homicidal inclinations. That is, does the homicide rate rise the more observant the Muslim is. And maybe we’d like to confirm, what seems plausible (if the correlation is high), that it’s the religious belief is tripping off the urge to kill. And if we’re out to condemn the faith of a sixth of the world’s people, we’d especially, I guess, like to see if Muslims are killing those outside the faith at high rates.

Or we could shift from homicide to rape, and look to the evidence from Darfur, cited by Spencer, as to the behavior of the jihadists there—behavior, he contends, emulative of the prophet himself.

Maybe this can be brought down to three questions.
1. Do Muslims behave badly (kill, rape, commit lesser crimes) (a) among themselves and (b) towards non-Muslims?
2. Do they behave badly because of the religion they adhere to?
3. What implications do the answers to these questions have (a) for American foreign policy and (b) for America’s domestic anti-terrorism policies? (Or: British, French, German, Italian, Japanese policies.)

It’s said that the most reliable crime statistic is the homicide rate, so I stick to that. I want to know especially how Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia rate (large or important/backward Islamic states). It turns out data is readily available, though the reported rates in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are very low. Of the nations reporting the ten highest rates, all are more or less Christian, none are Muslim. Among the countries of the world with advanced economies, the United States in an outlier in two respects: an extraordinarily high homicide rate, and extraordinary religiosity. (The U.S. comes in at something like 80-85% Christian.) Dearborn, Michigan’s (large Muslim population) homicide rate is less than half of a nearby more or less comparable suburb, Warren’s.

The notion that Muslims are by virtue of their faith murderous is not only implausible and insulting, it’s untrue.

Nonetheless, the following is true. In today’s world, few Christian churches are to be feared because their attendees are likely to be recruited to murder and mayhem. But in a significant number of mosques, in several parts of the world, instruction is offered in what comes down to murder and mayhem. A dangerously large number of Muslims hold that Islam imposes a duty of jihad interpreted to encompass the killing of the innocent.

A remarkable coalition has emerged. Half is Muslim, those who hold that normative Islam requires engagement in or support of terrorist actions. The other half is anti-Muslims of a certain sort, those who agree with these Muslim extremists that in Islam terrorist action is obligate.

Were this contention true, it would simplify the policing of Muslim residents of the western countries. We would know that they all have a high propensity for violence and must be monitored closely. Or perhaps preventive detention would be in order. (But, as we’ve seen, in fact Muslims in the U.S. appear to have to low propensity for violence.)

(There is a real problem I suspect. As Bernard Lewis reports, in the U.S. and Europe evening classes, weekend schools, holiday camps aimed at youth are now almost entirely controlled, financed, funded by the Wahhabis. That’s dangerous and deplorable. But so is it regarded by non-Wahhabi Muslims, who outnumber the Wahhabi.)

Muslims in our own midst appear thus far to have kept their scimitars sheathed. What Islamic countries? What of the duty to restore a caliphate?

So far as I can see, no country is acting on this impulse. Every Islamic country is in fact in breach of this obligation. (Iran perhaps excepted. How unfortunate that their power has been so bolstered by the Iraq venture.) In Kosovo, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, South Philippines, Timor Muslims are in some instances much aggrieved, in others aggrieving others. Those who are doing the latter are not adversely affecting a vital interest of the United States. If one were to do so, I presume that the nation spending as much on arms as all other nations combined could deter the threat.

One other comment on Islamic states. If it’s true that Islam makes coming after us an obligation, then presumably if the regimes in Egypt or Saudi Arabia were replaced by regimes that represent the views of their constituents, those new regimes would be extremely hostile to the United States. It seems to follow, doesn’t it, that President Bush’s policy of pushing democracy in the Middle East was inimical to our interests and is well forgotten.

What of non-state actors which take up their jihadist duty? It seems to me that these organizations, movements, groups fortunately comprehend but a small portion of the umma, and that it should be our endeavor to keep it small. Treating every Muslim as a member in good standing of some jihadist organization or other seems to me ill-advised, since he likely isn’t, and treating him as if he were might make it more likely that he would become a member.

But do Muslims in fact believe that the prophet requires of them conduct we would regard to be murderous?

What of the prevalence of support for suicide bombers, “martyrs”?

First, it’s clear that the classical legal and religious texts of Islam treat suicide as what Catholics would call a mortal sin. You do it, you spend eternity doing it again and again, feeling the pain again and again. How was the clear prohibition gotten around? Stage one was to deploy he case of a soldier who goes up against a superior enemy despite the odds, which was found to be permissible. That’s old long-standing Islamic law. Under it, says Bernard Lewis, even the Assassins “never died by their own hands and never killed anyone but the marked target.” More recently, it was asked “can you kill yourself attacking the enemy, providing you take a sufficient number with you?” Yes. This, says Lewis, was ”a radical departure from more than a thousand years of Islamic theology and law.” And where did it come from? Wahhabism, which, says Lewis, “is about as central to Islam as, shall we say, the Ku Klux Klan to Christianity.” Wahhabism rejects the infidel world and calls for a return to authentic tradition. This version of Islam, he says, is ”peculiarly violent and fanatical.” It remained on the margins of Islamic society until the House of Saud allied themselves with Wahhabis and put petrodollars at their command.

Fawaz Gerges has talked at length with many Muslims, mostly Muslim extremists, Islamists, whom one would most expect to find in Islam a call to terrorism.

Gerges talks to a Lebanese shopkeeper of Islamic sympathies believed that that the attacks must have been perpetrated by Mossad. One of his reasons for believing so was “our religion forbids us to harm civilians.”

Gerges spoke to the man in charge of Hizbollah’s foreign relations, Nawaf al-Musawi. Al-Musawi said “We condemn the killing of civilians, all civilians—American and Muslims alike.” And then complained to a double standard when it comes to the killings of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians by Israeli soldiers and airmen.

Hizbollah’s spiritual founding father, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadallah, who is said to have incited the attacks on Americans in Lebanon during the 1980s, called al Qaeda’s bombings “suicide,” not “martyrdom operations,” implying that they were illegitimate. As Gerges describes his view, “September 11 could not be religiously or politically sanctioned.” Gerges says this critique of al Qaeda “resonates strongly with radical young Muslims today.” [But more before than after the American invasion of Iraq.]

Sunni Islamists reacted much more favorably to the September 11 attacks. Yet in assessing them one of Gerges’ learned interlocuters, a taxi driver by the name of Abu Bilal, when asked about the targeting of civilians paused and led off his reply by sayng “It is a difficult question because Islam is opposed to killing civilians, especially women, children and the elderly. You must know that.” He then proceeded to cite Iraqi children starved by Americans and Palestinians shot by Israelis as justification of a response in kind.

Gerges goes beyond interviews. He’s read the fatwas as well. He concludes “no religious authority lent his name and legitimacy to repelling the American troops” that invaded Aghanistan. He says Yusef Qardawi endorsed a September 27 fatwa declaring that American Muslims were obliged to serve in the armed forces even their country was at war with Muslim nation. Further, Qardawi “was the first cleric to issue a fatwa that condemned Al Qaeda’s ‘illegal jihad.’” September 13 “he wrote that the attacks could nto be justified on any grounds, not even ‘the Americans biased policy toward Israel.’”

Gerges goes on to cite several documents showing that leading Islamists and jihadists, a few on moral and ethical, most on utilitarian and pragmatic, grounds condemned September 11.

I’ve read that Islam is to be feared because its prophet said “you shall not kill—for that is forbidden by Allah—except for a just cause.” Yet I live in the midst of a people, mostly more or less Christian, who as individuals find homicide more readily justifiable than do the people of other nations. I live in a state that, despite its being extraordinarily safe against attack by any other state, has been ready to initiate wars against other states, not always legally or advisably. I live in a state that when threatened by non-state actors seems to be unable to locate them with much accuracy but still to be ready to attack whoever’s in its sights. It seems to me that ninety-five percent of the human race believes in killing for a just cause. It would a mistake, I think, to assume because he shares this view, whoever shows up a mosque is a hostile and should be treated accordingly.

Rainsborough said...

I suppose what we really want is the get at the relation between devotion to the faith and homicidal inclinations. That is, does the homicide rate rise the more observant the Muslim is. And maybe we’d like to confirm, what seems plausible (if the correlation is high), that it’s the religious belief is tripping off the urge to kill. And if we’re out to condemn the faith of a sixth of the world’s people, we’d especially, I guess, like to see if Muslims are killing those outside the faith at high rates.

Or we could shift from homicide to rape, and look to the evidence from Darfur, cited by Spencer, as to the behavior of the jihadists there—behavior, he contends, emulative of the prophet himself.

Maybe this can be brought down to three questions.
1. Do Muslims behave badly (kill, rape, commit lesser crimes) (a) among themselves and (b) towards non-Muslims?
2. Do they behave badly because of the religion they adhere to?
3. What implications do the answers to these questions have (a) for American foreign policy and (b) for America’s domestic anti-terrorism policies? (Or: British, French, German, Italian, Japanese policies.)

It’s said that the most reliable crime statistic is the homicide rate, so I stick to that. I want to know especially how Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia rate (large or important/backward Islamic states). It turns out data is readily available, though the reported rates in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are very low. Of the nations reporting the ten highest rates, all are more or less Christian, none are Muslim. Among the countries of the world with advanced economies, the United States in an outlier in two respects: an extraordinarily high homicide rate, and extraordinary religiosity. (The U.S. comes in at something like 80-85% Christian.) Dearborn, Michigan’s (large Muslim population) homicide rate is less than half of a nearby more or less comparable suburb, Warren’s.

The notion that Muslims are by virtue of their faith murderous is not only implausible and insulting, it’s untrue.

Nonetheless, the following is true. In today’s world, few Christian churches are to be feared because their attendees are likely to be recruited to murder and mayhem. But in a significant number of mosques, in several parts of the world, instruction is offered in what comes down to murder and mayhem. A dangerously large number of Muslims hold that Islam imposes a duty of jihad interpreted to encompass the killing of the innocent.

A remarkable coalition has emerged. Half is Muslim, those who hold that normative Islam requires engagement in or support of terrorist actions. The other half is anti-Muslims of a certain sort, those who agree with these Muslim extremists that in Islam terrorist action is obligate.

Were this contention true, it would simplify the policing of Muslim residents of the western countries. We would know that they all have a high propensity for violence and must be monitored closely. Or perhaps preventive detention would be in order. (But, as we’ve seen, in fact Muslims in the U.S. appear to have to low propensity for violence.)

(There is a real problem I suspect. As Bernard Lewis reports, in the U.S. and Europe evening classes, weekend schools, holiday camps aimed at youth are now almost entirely controlled, financed, funded by the Wahhabis. That’s dangerous and deplorable. But so is it regarded by non-Wahhabi Muslims, who outnumber the Wahhabi.)

Muslims in our own midst appear thus far to have kept their scimitars sheathed. What Islamic countries? What of the duty to restore a caliphate?

So far as I can see, no country is acting on this impulse. Every Islamic country is in fact in breach of this obligation. (Iran perhaps excepted. How unfortunate that their power has been so bolstered by the Iraq venture.) In Kosovo, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kashmir, South Philippines, Timor Muslims are in some instances much aggrieved, in others aggrieving others. Those who are doing the latter are not adversely affecting a vital interest of the United States. If one were to do so, I presume that the nation spending as much on arms as all other nations combined could deter the threat.

One other comment on Islamic states. If it’s true that Islam makes coming after us an obligation, then presumably if the regimes in Egypt or Saudi Arabia were replaced by regimes that represent the views of their constituents, those new regimes would be extremely hostile to the United States. It seems to follow, doesn’t it, that President Bush’s policy of pushing democracy in the Middle East was inimical to our interests and is well forgotten.

What of non-state actors which take up their jihadist duty? It seems to me that these organizations, movements, groups fortunately comprehend but a small portion of the umma, and that it should be our endeavor to keep it small. Treating every Muslim as a member in good standing of some jihadist organization or other seems to me ill-advised, since he likely isn’t, and treating him as if he were might make it more likely that he would become a member.

But do Muslims in fact believe that the prophet requires of them conduct we would regard to be murderous?

What of the prevalence of support for suicide bombers, “martyrs”?

First, it’s clear that the classical legal and religious texts of Islam treat suicide as what Catholics would call a mortal sin. You do it, you spend eternity doing it again and again, feeling the pain again and again. How was the clear prohibition gotten around? Stage one was to deploy he case of a soldier who goes up against a superior enemy despite the odds, which was found to be permissible. That’s old long-standing Islamic law. Under it, says Bernard Lewis, even the Assassins “never died by their own hands and never killed anyone but the marked target.” More recently, it was asked “can you kill yourself attacking the enemy, providing you take a sufficient number with you?” Yes. This, says Lewis, was ”a radical departure from more than a thousand years of Islamic theology and law.” And where did it come from? Wahhabism, which, says Lewis, “is about as central to Islam as, shall we say, the Ku Klux Klan to Christianity.” Wahhabism rejects the infidel world and calls for a return to authentic tradition. This version of Islam, he says, is ”peculiarly violent and fanatical.” It remained on the margins of Islamic society until the House of Saud allied themselves with Wahhabis and put petrodollars at their command.

Fawaz Gerges has talked at length with many Muslims, mostly Muslim extremists, Islamists, whom one would most expect to find in Islam a call to terrorism.

Gerges talks to a Lebanese shopkeeper of Islamic sympathies believed that that the attacks must have been perpetrated by Mossad. One of his reasons for believing so was “our religion forbids us to harm civilians.”

Gerges spoke to the man in charge of Hizbollah’s foreign relations, Nawaf al-Musawi. Al-Musawi said “We condemn the killing of civilians, all civilians—American and Muslims alike.” And then complained to a double standard when it comes to the killings of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians by Israeli soldiers and airmen.

Hizbollah’s spiritual founding father, Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadallah, who is said to have incited the attacks on Americans in Lebanon during the 1980s, called al Qaeda’s bombings “suicide,” not “martyrdom operations,” implying that they were illegitimate. As Gerges describes his view, “September 11 could not be religiously or politically sanctioned.” Gerges says this critique of al Qaeda “resonates strongly with radical young Muslims today.” [But more before than after the American invasion of Iraq.]

Sunni Islamists reacted much more favorably to the September 11 attacks. Yet in assessing them one of Gerges’ learned interlocuters, a taxi driver by the name of Abu Bilal, when asked about the targeting of civilians paused and led off his reply by sayng “It is a difficult question because Islam is opposed to killing civilians, especially women, children and the elderly. You must know that.” He then proceeded to cite Iraqi children starved by Americans and Palestinians shot by Israelis as justification of a response in kind.

Gerges goes beyond interviews. He’s read the fatwas as well. He concludes “no religious authority lent his name and legitimacy to repelling the American troops” that invaded Aghanistan. He says Yusef Qardawi endorsed a September 27 fatwa declaring that American Muslims were obliged to serve in the armed forces even their country was at war with Muslim nation. Further, Qardawi “was the first cleric to issue a fatwa that condemned Al Qaeda’s ‘illegal jihad.’” September 13 “he wrote that the attacks could nto be justified on any grounds, not even ‘the Americans biased policy toward Israel.’”

Gerges goes on to cite several documents showing that leading Islamists and jihadists, a few on moral and ethical, most on utilitarian and pragmatic, grounds condemned September 11.

I’ve read that Islam is to be feared because its prophet said “you shall not kill—for that is forbidden by Allah—except for a just cause.” Yet I live in the midst of a people, mostly more or less Christian, who as individuals find homicide more readily justifiable than do the people of other nations. I live in a state that, despite its being extraordinarily safe against attack by any other state, has been ready to initiate wars against other states, not always legally or advisably. I live in a state that when threatened by non-state actors seems to be unable to locate them with much accuracy but still to be ready to attack whoever’s in its sights. It seems to me that ninety-five percent of the human race believes in killing for a just cause. It would a mistake, I think, to assume because he shares this view, whoever shows up a mosque is a hostile and should be treated accordingly.

Revenant said...

And if we’re out to condemn the faith of a sixth of the world’s people, we’d especially, I guess, like to see if Muslims are killing those outside the faith at high rates

Whether or not Muslims are actually especially murderous is a question unrelated to whether or not Islam itself is murderous. That Islam exhorts its followers to murder and oppress others is a simple fact. If most Muslims are uninclined to actually murder and oppress others then that means only that most self-proclaimed Muslims aren't very Islamic.

Similarly, the percentage of Christians who truly do love their fellow humans, turn the other cheek, abstain from materialism and extramarital sex, and devote themselves to spreading the world of Christ and to assisting the needy is tiny -- easily ninety-five percent of Christians don't live as Christ taught they should. That doesn't change what Christ taught. People are generally people first and religious followers second (if that), but that shouldn't stop us from looking at what the underlying result of really following their ideology would be. The fact that most American communists are a bunch of immature middle-class wankers doing no harm to anybody, for example, shouldn't blind us to the problems of the ideology they claim to represent.

I want to know especially how Indonesia, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia rate (large or important/backward Islamic states). It turns out data is readily available, though the reported rates in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are very low.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are police states, so it is hardly surprising that their domestic crime rates are low. Our crime rate would also be low if we did away with the Bill of Rights, the English Common Law presumption of innocence, and the restrictions on police use of force against susprected criminals.

You've also ignored the fact that the governments of those nations handle the oppression and murder that Islam calls for, and thus the civilian population's involvement is not needed. If an American Muslim decides to obey the Islamic instruction that atheists must be murdered, we call him a murderer and prosecute him. But in Saudi Arabia it is the *atheist* who is the criminal, and his imprisonment and execution is handled by the state. Simply put, it is hardly surprising that, in a nation where the government brutally stamps out all non-Islamic activity, Islam-on-infidel violence is rare in the civilian population. The average Saudi doesn't even KNOW anyone who isn't a Muslim.

I’ve read that Islam is to be feared because its prophet said “you shall not kill—for that is forbidden by Allah—except for a just cause.” Yet I live in the midst of a people, mostly more or less Christian, who as individuals find homicide more readily justifiable than do the people of other nations.

You're missing the point. If your Christian neighbors have no problem with killing for their faith then they are bad Christians, because Christ was quite openly against that. If your *Muslim* neighbors have no problem with killing for their faith then they are *good* Muslims, because Islam favors doing so. A murderous Christian is ignoring his faith; so is a NON-murderous Muslim. Therein lies the problem -- Islam is compatable with living in a civilized, multicultural society only inasmuch as it isn't followed!

Rainsborough said...

Some American students of Islam agree with the Islamists that Islam is a religion that preaches murder and aggression.

Reza Aslan puts it somewhat differently. He says Islam has often “been used to rationalize the brutal policies of oppressive totalitarian regimes like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Wahhabists in Saudi Arabia, or the Faqh in Iran.”

Aslan’s own understanding of Islam differs from that of these hard men. In his view, “there are few scriptures in the great religions of the world that can match the reverence with which the Quran speaks of other religious traditions.” The verses instructing the faithful to “slay the polytheists,” “carry the struggle to the hypocrites,” “fight those who do not believe in God,” he says are “directed specifically at the Quraysh” in Yahib. He finds the foundation of an Islamic pluralism “summed up in one indisputable verse: ‘Thre can be no compulsion in religion.’” The partitioning of the world into spheres of belief and unbelief he takes to be a relic of the Muslim reaction to the Crusades, though it is “utterly unjustifiable.”

He finds “at the heart of the [Quranic] doctrine of jihad. . . the heretofore unrecognized distinction between combatant and noncombatant. The killing of women,children, monks, rabbis, the elderly or any other noncombatant was absolutely forbidden under any circumstances. Muslim law eventually expanded on these prohibitions to outlaw the torture of prisoners of war. …”

Even more important was jihad’s “outright prohibition of all but strictly defensive wars. ‘Fight in the way God those who fight you,’ the Quran says, ‘but do not begin hostilities; God does not like the aggressor. (2:190) Elsewhere the Quran is more explicit: ‘permission to fight is given only to those who have been oppressed… who have been driven from their homes for saying, ‘God is the Lord’” (22:39).” Emphasis suppressed.

My own view is that no scripture is authoritative and that, there being no gods, every alleged revelation but a figment of the human mind. As best I can I make do with evidence and my noggin. With this limited equipment, I might not read Islamic texts exactly as does Aslan. But he is a believer, reliant on revelation as well as reason and evidence. The deity and the divine are in his view, I assume, mysterious, their revelations not always certain and clear. Yet it seems apparent that his revealed god is sweetness and light, deeply opposed to slaughter and humiliation. It is in his religion, his understanding of what was revealed to his prophet Mohammed, that he finds truth and righteousness.

I am glad that he is not alone, that there are other good Muslims, and glad that even in the ranks of the Islamists some don’t find in the Quran prohibitions of bloodshed. Indeed, I rather expect there as many good Muslims as there are good Christians, especially since (in my view) the revelations granted most easily heard Christians sometimes seems to me sour and dark. See also Mark 7:27; Matthew 24:21; Luke 12:51, 14:26; John 6:53.

But a census of good people aside, reliance on revelation puts evidence and reason to the side. Those who hear from the mouth of the Lord hear what they hear. If what they report of their encounter with God above promotes peace and justice here below, I find it welcome. And lacking all knowledge of what Allah or Christ requires, I’m content to judge their reports by my own secular standards. How could I possibly know that they don’t hear what they say they hear?

Kab bin Ashraf said...

Rainsborough,

Re: Reza Aslan. I think you should be cautious about accepting the words of a true believer. Of course they are going to try and put their religion in the best possible light, saying things that are pleasant to hear. I no more accept a Christian's claim that the Bible is tolerant than I accept a Muslim's claim that the Koran is tolerant.

Reza Aslan's views are nice and they are typical of western Muslim intellectuals who are featured in the mainstream media. The difficulty from the standpoint of trying to educate the public about Islam is that the moderates present a monolithic view of Islam as moderate, when in fact what they are giving is their own personal interpretation of Islam. That's fine, but it has nothing to do with mainstream Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence. Islam is not a monolith, but it does have a mainstream of scholars/jurists. Moreover, it is the traditionalists who hold sway---they run the schools, hold positions as jurists and clerics, and hold positions of authority in the Islamic countries. Moderate Muslims in the west need to get themselves into these key positions, but they aren't doing that. Instead, most of them are focussed on convincing predominantly non-Muslim audiences how peaceful Islam is. That is, they are busy polishing Islam's image, but doing little if anything toward actually implementing reform. Also troubling is the fact that many of them seem more interested in attacking people like Spencer, instead of attacking the people reported upon by Spencer (i.e., traditionalists--call them Islamists, sharia enthusiasts, jihadists and jihad sympathizers, etc.) In an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, etc., most of these moderates would be executed* or imprisoned for saying what they say about Islam. *(killed by the state or by ordinary Muslims). Note that the conditions in these countries are mild compared to the conditions under Mohammad's rule.

Re: 2:190. You have to read the actual passage, with tafsir, and you have to find out the predominant Islamic meanings of terms like "justice," "attack," "defence," "oppression," etc. Reza Aslan interprets those (English-translated) words according to modern western concepts. But in the Koran, "oppression" generally refers to religious persecution (which includes physical persecution but also refers to open criticism of Islam or Mohammad or Muslims, or unIslamic behaviour) or the condition under which Islam is not the ruling authority (i.e., sharia is not implemented or not impleemnted enough). The word "oppression" (or "persecution") in the Koran is generally translated from "fitnah"--which has the above general meaning which I mentioned, which overlaps slightly with our modern western concept of oppression but, for the most part, differs. Indeed, some verses refer to the mere presence of disbelievers (non-Muslims) as fitnah ("oppression"). I repeat: Aggressive jihad against non-Muslims for the purposes of spreading Islam is featured in Sura 9 of the Koran and is approved by all major schools of Islamic jurisprudence at this time, today. Reza Aslan and other moderates should be arguing with the mainstream Islamic scholars and should be trying to enact real changes, not wasting time trying to buff and polish Islam's image.

For 2:190, if you draw out a proposition such as "don't attack them unless they attack you first," you have to keep in mind that Islam licences physical attack against people who only "attack" Islam verbally. Also, if you read through that passage (at least 4 or 5 verses), you will see that the Koran actually permits Muslims to transgress in any manner in which they are transgressed against. You will also see in 2:193 that (like 8:39, which I quoted previously), there is a call to keep fighting non-Muslims until there is no more disbelief (death or forced conversion; also see 9:5). The final policy viz aggressive jihad is given not in 2:190 but in Sura 9. Sura 9 not only mandates aggressive jihad jihad to spread the religion, but condemns to hell (and some say, death in this world, based on 9:123) for failing to take up this imperialistic mission.

Aslan's claim that these verses are hyper-specific to the 7th century context is, on the face of ti, acceptable to any reasonable person. Unfortunately, that's not how mainstream Islam interprets it. (Actually, I wish all fundamentalists would treat their texts as so specific to previous contexts that they cannot be applied at all, today. Persuing this through to logical conclusion leads to the rejection of the texts entirely. You will note, of course, that Aslan does not do this consistently. He has no problem in extractng the general principle (in his interpretation) that the Koran forbids offensive war. This is based on (a) ignoring other verses in the Koran that clearly call for or logically imply the need for aggressive jihad (struggle of all kinds, including but not limited to physical conflict, against the disbelievers), e.g., 9:29; and (b) extracting a general principle from a text Aslan himself had claimed was hyperspecific in its application (i.e., he is using a double-standard). Finally, on the issue of contextual hyperspecificity, it should be noted that the Koran itself contains statements to the effect that Allah's laws never change (e.g., 33:62).

Yoyu quote Aslan as saying: "at the heart of the [Quranic] doctrine of jihad. . . the heretofore unrecognized distinction between combatant and noncombatant. The killing of women,children, monks, rabbis, the elderly or any other noncombatant was absolutely forbidden under any circumstances. Muslim law eventually expanded on these prohibitions to outlaw the torture of prisoners of war. …"

All of this is either false or half-truth, in regards to what mainstream Islam holds. Again, is Aslan mixing up his own interpretation with that of mainstream Islam, and then neglecting to make that distinction for the reader?

The Koran does not distinguish between combatant and non-combatant. Actually, women, children, and the elderly were killed under Mohammad;s supervision, under his instructions. We know this from the "sahih" Hadith. They were permitted to be killed in some cases where this was "unavoidable". Well, guess what, jihad is mandatory, unavoidable, so the prophet Mohammad permitted killing of women and children in that case. He also ordered the assassination of singing girls and other females who had allegedly insulted him. He used catapults against the fortressed population of Ta'if, as well as cut off their food supply in order to starve them to death. Subsequently, jurists used this action as a precedent for permitting the killing of women and children when the enemy is protected by such structures. In addition, captives such as women, children, elderly, monks, etc., could be executed for speaking against Islam. Moreover, because there was no penalty or in some cases only minor penalties for killing a non-Muslim, if a Muslim did kill a woman or child (when this could have been avoided). You can find more on these kinds of topics here.
http://www.islam-watch.org/

Here are just a couple of examples of the Koran's policy of exterminating the disbelievers (all of them---men, women, and children).

17:14. (And it will be said unto him): Read thy Book. Thy soul sufficeth as reckoner against thee this day.
17:15. Whosoever goeth right, it is only for (the good of) his own soul that he goeth right, and whosoever erreth, erreth only to its hurt. No laden soul can bear another's load, We never punish until we have sent a messenger.
17:16. And when We would destroy a township We send commandment to its folk who live at ease, and afterward they commit abomination therein, and so the Word (of doom) hath effect for it, and we annihilate it with complete annihilation.
17:17. How many generations have We destroyed since Noah! And Allah sufficeth as Knower and Beholder of the sins of His slaves.
17:18. Whoso desireth that (life) which hasteneth away, We hasten for him therein what We will for whom We please. And afterward We have appointed for him hell; he will endure the heat thereof, condemned, rejected.

21:9. Then We fulfilled to them the promise, and We saved them and those whom We willed, but We destroyed Al-Musrifun (i.e. extravagants in oppression, polytheism and in sin).
21:10. Indeed, We have sent down for you (O mankind) a Book, (the Qur'an) in which there is Dhikrukum, (your Reminder or an honour for you i.e. honour for the one who follows the teaching of the Qur'an and acts on its orders). Will you not then understand?
21:11. How many a town (community), that were wrong-doers, have We destroyed, and raised up after them another people!
21:12. Then, when they perceived (saw) Our Torment (coming), behold, they (tried to) flee from it.
21:13. Flee not, but return to that wherein you lived a luxurious life, and to your homes, in order that you may be questioned.
21:14. They cried: "Woe to us! Certainly! We have been Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, etc.)."
21:15. And that cry of theirs ceased not, till We made them as a field that is reaped, extinct (dead).

Note that this is not merely "Allah's" punishment. Allah gives the believers the duty of fighting against mischief in the world (2:251, 57:25, 22:39-45, etc.) and delivers punishment against the disbelievers through the hands of the believers who are fighting in Allah's cause (8:17, 9:14, 47:4). Of course, this is all just scarey tales, but unfortunately the position of mainstream Islam is that Muslims are under obligation to implement Allah's laws on earth and to destroy mischief and disbelief (if necessary, by killing the disbelievers if they don't meet certain conditions---see 9:5, 9:29).
That's not my view; I don't "agree with it". It is the view espoused and indeed enforced by mainstream Islam. It is opposed by critics, but it remains, for the most part, unopposed by moderate Muslims, who have failed to have any significant impact on mainstream Islam after 1350 years. The issue of killing non-Muslims is dealt with in detail here


You state: "Indeed, I rather expect there as many good Muslims as there are good Christians,"

Unfortunately, it just isn't true, if we use treatment of out-group members and "sinners" as the criteria. Go live in a Muslim majority country and you can verify that for yourself. The fact is that apostates, "blasphemers"/dissidents, adulterers, and homosexuals are discriminated against in the Muslim world to an extent that is not matched by Christians. When Christians in significant numbers start executing and assassinating these groups of people to the extent that Muslims do, then I will take your comparison seriously. When Christians start rioting, killing people, taking hostages, burning embassies, and lobbying for a tough international blasphemy law, all over cartoons, I will take your comparison seriously.

The comparisons between Islam and Christianity tend to fall down because, whereas mainstream Islam has in its doctrine and in its scholarly/religious authority an official policy permitting violent imperialism, mainstream Christianity most explicitly does not. Mainstream Islamic scholarship (not moderate Muslims who write in the western media) still permits aggressive jihad to spread Islam today. Moreover, the mainstream-accepted definition of "defensive jihad" is rigged in such a way that any country which refuses sharia law has committed "aggression" against Islam, and therefore Muslims have a communal obligation to fight that country to "defend" the spread and maintenance of Islam.

Moderates like Reza Aslan need to address these kinds of issues frankly and honestly, and join forces with governments to eradicate these imperialistic supremacist policies. If moderates truly believe that Islam is a religion of peace, they should be doing everything they can to ensure that their version is implemented and that the 7th-century version is removed.

Kab bin Ashraf said...

...I will just add one point, which I think Cathy Young should address:

Is all criticism of Islam "anti-Muslim"? The problem is that Young has not given a clear picture of what she considers acceptable criticism of Islam. She cited Irshad Manji earlier, but many (I suspect most) Muslims consider Manji a heretic. At the same time, Manji herself says that religion is more important than family and that on the Last Day, Muslims will not love family members who are non-Muslims. (That view is, BTW, stated in the Koran itself). Manji also claimed dthat the Battle of Badr was "defensive," and that the Koran is tolerant of Christians and Jews (even though there are more statements, and more decisive statement, to the contrary). Is this Young's idea of an unbiased critic?

It does not take an expert to condemn mainstream Islam's treatment of apostates, "blasphemers"/dissidents, adulterers, homosexuals, non-Muslims, women, children, slaves, dhimmis, religious minorities, "heretical" sects, animals, and so on. It does not take an expert to suspect that there is something terribly wrong with a religion whose 'prophet' famously stated "I have been made victorious with terror" and "The booty has been made legal for me." There is something terribly wrong with someone who fails to acknowledge that there is something terribly wrong.

And perhaps Young should explain why criticism of Christianity and the Bible is not considered "anti-Christian bigotry" (Or does she consider criticism of Christianity and the Bible to be anti-Christian bigotry?)

P.S. I noticed above that no one was able to identify a context in which such propositions as "convert (to Islam) or die", and "fight them until there is no more fitnah (disbelief, polytheism) and all religion is for Allah" were ever appropriate.

Rainsborough said...

What’s mainstream?
Aslan claims Ibn Taymiyya (b. 1263) as one of his own, asserting that he “argued that the idea of killing nonbelievers who refused to convert to Islam—the foundation of the classical doctrine of jihad—not only defied the example of Muhammad but also violated one of the most important principles in the Quran: that “there can be no compulsion in religion.’” MSI, Aslan holds, enjoins a modicum of respect for the kafir.

Michael Cook, to my great surprise, says that “Qutb [the immediate intellectual predecessor of the bombers] is in the same tradition,” excoriating Christianity for its intolerance in the dark ages, praising Islam for its great principle and might pillar of freedom of belief, first proclaimed by Islam.

Comparing Islam and Christianity.
The comparisons between Islam and Christianity tend to fall down because, whereas mainstream Islam has in its doctrine and in its scholarly/religious authority an official policy permitting violent imperialism, mainstream Christianity most explicitly does not.

I would emend this so far as it concerns western polities (and Japan) to note that they are in conception and largely in practice entirely secular, so that what mainstream Christianity holds matters only insofar as its adherents among the citizenry hold views rooted in their faith and succeed in influencing policymakers to put their views into effect.

I would note also that, if “violent imperialism” means “invading to colonize,” there’s not a lot of it going on.

Treatment of domestic religious minorities.
When it comes to free exercise of religion and norms of tolerance generally, Islamic societies don’t rate high. Even if rolling grenades down the aisle at Christian services transgresses societal norms, they come up shy in regard to tolerance. Even Aslan can be read to approve more restrictions than norms of tolerance would permit.

In regard to treatment of the dhimmi, as between the sword verse and the tribute verse, and as for the no-compulsion verse, Cook is surely right that the compulsion “verse is literally a godsend.” However deplorable is Saudi practice, and even that of more tolerant regimes in the Islamic countries, and even if the tribute verse doesn’t reach the highest standards of First Amendment law, still Muslims who defend increased tolerance are not without scriptural and traditional resources. They can even, remarkably enough, cite Qutb in their cause!

Women.
By the standards of his day, Muhammad may well have been a reformer. But from the standpoint of modernity—and of justice—those standards were deficient. As Michael Cook puts it, “women are not equal, and are to be beaten.” Provision for widows, a right to remarry, inheritance of half the estate, may well show that Muhammad qualifies as a progressive and reformer.

Of course, who else c. 600 propounded more enlightened views? Are believers c. 2000 permitted to beat their wives if the prophet in his time sought the advancement of women from their backward station then? Because St. Paul (or an interpolator) declared that women are to be seen and not heard, must they today submit in silence? If Aslan wants to contend that Muhammad went as far as he could go in the right direction, and pointed the way we should follow today, I’ll cheer him on. If Muslim men mistreat Muslim women and cite scripture in their favor, I will cheer Aslan on if he misreads the Quran and cites inapposite haditha, just so long as the men are denounced for the wrong they perpetrate.

As this doctrinal battle continues among Muslims, I recall a recent report from Syria that there over a quarter of husbands beat their wives. There are those in the United States who hold that American husbands behave just as badly, but I suspect Syrian husbands, and Muslim husbands in other countries as well, are substantially more abusive than are American husbands. Further, this abuse is of a piece of depriving girls and women of education and medical care and even food in a discriminatory and brutal fashion. That is to say, liberal societies are not the norm in the world today, and the most pervasive and pernicious of wrongs in the illiberal world, the first priority for reform or revolution, concerns the status of women. The average imam, I’m pretty sure, is an obstacle in the way of improvement. And I’m pleased that in their homes my own countrymen have less and less heeded Genesis 3:16.

Aslan’s Muhammad is a progressive. His Umar is a retrograde misogynist, who where the prophet had spread egalitarianism, introduced prejudice instead, by instituting segregated prayers, forcing women to be taught by males, forbidding Muhammad’s women to perform the pilgrimage, singling out women for severe criminal penalties, and confining women to their homes. Whatever the present state of Islam, I see no reason to validate the ugly precedents set by Umar, nor to attribute them to Muhammad.

The most pressing human rights issues in the world today concern the treatment and well-being of women. Though the problem is by no means confined to the Islamic world, it’s intense there. In both Islamic and non-Islamic venues, American policies in regard to contraception and abortion haven’t served women’s interests well. These ill-advised policies are rooted in the religious beliefs of Christians in the United States. Perhaps before we wave a finger at the Muslim we should wash our own hands.

Jihad.
Michael Cook says, on the one hand, that “in the mainstream of Sunni Islam the view was … usually taken that the duty of hijra had ceased when Muhammad conquered Mecca.”

On the other hand, he sums up the Quranic stance this way: “War against the unbelievers . . . is accordingly a prominent theme in the Koran. God not only permits it, he orders it to be waged until His cause prevails. Not all injunctions on the subject are as aggressive as this; there are indications that the unbelievers should be left to start the war. … In the case of Jews and Christians, honour is satisfied if they pay tribute. Yet the general atmosphere is one of enthusiasm. … Those who go out and fight will earn from God a far greater reward than those who sit at home.”

Not as pretty a picture as Aslan paints, and I believe a more accurate one. But whether Aslan’s interpretation (or one near enough to his to please Americans) takes hold or not is at root a political question, even if the battle does take place in mosques as well as chancelleries. And what state with a Muslim majority population is moving towards jihad?

Random remarks.
A lot of the animus against Islam comes from Christians who rightly regard it as their greatest religious rival. These Christians themselves don’t always rate high on measures of tolerance. It would be foolish foreign policy, and against the principles of our secular state, for the United States to encourage Christian missionaries in their work in Muslim countries.

By far the biggest source of conflict between Islamic nations and the United States is the Palestinian problem. Some informed American academics very much concerned with the national interest hold that American policy has not been fair and balanced in this dispute. More to the point, fine points of Quranic interpretation and a proper understanding of a supposed essence of Islam don’t much help in explaining Muslim opposition to American policy or determining whether it’s justified.

Rainsborough said...

In this discussion, a great deal seems to turn on the notion that there’s a correct interpretation of the Quran, that liberal and moderate Muslims misread the Quran, and that only certain Islamists or other fierce Muslims and the fiercer critics of Islam in the West read it correctly.

An analogy on ground more familiar to most of us may serve to show that scripture can be read in widely diverse ways, and that the correct way is a matter of great dispute.

I read the letters of Paul and the synoptic gospels as indicating, so clearly that it should be beyond dispute, that John the Baptizer, Jesus, and Paul all believed that the kingdom of God (a transformed world very different from the one we have known) would arrive before some of all the members of their generations had died. In other words, they all believed in the imminent coming of the kingdom. (The best “proof texts” are perhaps Mark 9:1 and I Thessalonians 4:17, but the citations are legion.)

In my interpretation I am in excellent company—Bart Ehrman, E.P. Sanders, Paula Fredriksen, many others equally distinguished.

But it wasn’t till the 1890s that this to our mind obviously correct interpretation was first broached among New Testament scholars. And to this day, it’s widely repudiated, both by liberals (those who see the kingdom as already present in Jesus or see Jesus as an egalitarian reformer of some sort) and by conservatives (the many who still await the second coming, the fewer who see the destruction of Jerusalem as having brought the kingdom). Tertullian was about the last of the orthodox who read the scriptures as we do. (Quite a trick by 200.)

Now, if there can be so much disagreement over what all parties would agree should be pretty obvious, and this among the ranks of good-hearted Christians and secularists, it’s scarcely to be expected (despite their expectation of unanimity and finding other readings be nothing but perverse) that among Muslims there would emerge fewer disparate readings of the Quran and its authoritative interpretations.

One reading or another may well be The Correct One. But it’s a fact, a fact I would characterize as political and rooted in the reality of pluralism, that there is wide disagreement as to which reading is the correct one. Many different readings have thousands or millions of champions. It is a certainty that both the Islamists and those who share their reading of the Ouran but denounce it won’t prove able to obtain agreement from all Muslims (or others, for that matter) that they have read correctly.

Kab bin Ashraf said...

Rainsborough,

That’s a good post (Sat Jul 08, 05:19:29 PM EDT); I appreciate that. (My apologies for my initial somewhat hostile tone).

“What’s mainstream?”

By that I mean, mainly, the four major schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence and Shia jurisprudence.

"Aslan claims Ibn Taymiyya (b. 1263) as one of his own, asserting that he “argued that the idea of killing nonbelievers who refused to convert to Islam—the foundation of the classical doctrine of jihad—not only defied the example of Muhammad but also violated one of the most important principles in the Quran: that “there can be no compulsion in religion.’” MSI, Aslan holds, enjoins a modicum of respect for the kafir."

The word kafir is an insult.

Surprising that Aslan should select Taymiyya (d. 1328) of all people. Taymiyya is generally regarded as a hard-liner. (Is it the case that he’s merely agreeing with him on one issue?) Taymiyya wrote that captive non-Muslim non-combatants, including women and children, could be executed if they merely engaged in verbal or written opposition to Islam:

“As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and their likes, they shall not be killed unless they actually fight with words and acts. Some jurists are of the opinion that all of them may be killed, on the mere ground that they are unbelievers, but they make an exception for women and children since they constitute property for Muslims.” (1)

(1). Ibn Taymiyya. al-Siyasa al-shariyya. (Translated by Rudolph Peters, 1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam. (pp. 44-54; see p. 49). Princeton NJ. Markus Wiener Publishers.

“I would note also that, if “violent imperialism” means “invading to colonize,” there’s not a lot of it going on.”

What about Sudan? Somalia?

Viewed from the time-frame of Islam’s approx 1400 years, there’s been a lot. Islam started with zero followers and zero territory and now it has over one billion adherents. Muslim-majority countries occupy quite a lot of territory, and Muslims can be found in almost any country. The Islamic invasion of India was probably the worst, bloodiest imperialism in world history.

Saudi Arabia is currently funding a hateful ideology world-wide.

I was pointing out a major distinction between Christianity and Islam. Islam has religious doctrinal support for the violent imperialism, but Christianity doesn’t. I believe it is reasonable, in claiming that a particular practice is of this or that religion, that there is a match between what doctrine says and what its practitioners are doing.

“In regard to treatment of the dhimmi, as between the sword verse and the tribute verse, and as for the no-compulsion verse, Cook is surely right that the compulsion “verse is literally a godsend.” However deplorable is Saudi practice, and even that of more tolerant regimes in the Islamic countries, and even if the tribute verse doesn’t reach the highest standards of First Amendment law, still Muslims who defend increased tolerance are not without scriptural and traditional resources. They can even, remarkably enough, cite Qutb in their cause!”

Well, I agree that the “no compulsion” verse can be used for good purposes. Indeed, I’d say moderates have to make the most of it. At the same time, we have to be realistic about the limitations inherent in extracting tolerance out of the Koran. (The very next verse, 2:257, actually condemns to hell anyone who doesn’t accept the true religion [Islam], and this metaphysical punishment of the disbelievers is matched by earthly punishments). The problems with the verse are discussed here

The curious thing about Qutb’s interpretation of 2:256—no compulsion—is that he saw dhimitude subjugation as perfectly consistent with freedom of conscience. He believed that it was Islamically permissible to set up these punishing external conditions yet have no compulsion in religion, because belief is an internal matter. (Of course, the punishing conditions are alleviated by converting to Islam, so there is real incentive for the dhimmis to declare a conversion to Islam). The source of Qutb’s idea may come, indirectly, from Mohammad’s own statements. For example, Mohammad invited a man to embrace Islam. The man said “But I do not like it.” Then Mohammad said “Even though you do not like it.” The idea was that if the man embraced Islam, he would eventually come to like it, his faith would grow, etc.


“If Muslim men mistreat Muslim women and cite scripture in their favor, I will cheer Aslan on if he misreads the Quran and cites inapposite haditha…”

Moderates can say whatever they want, but their general failure to address the problems in the Islamic texts doesn’t help anyone.

“I see no reason to validate the ugly precedents set by Umar, nor to attribute them to Muhammad.”

Acknowledging that a problem exists does not constitute validating. Acknowledging the problems is the first step toward solving them. Here is just one example of a statement from Mohammad about women (addressed to women):

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."

More problems re women are compiled here

“In both Islamic and non-Islamic venues, American policies in regard to contraception and abortion haven’t served women’s interests well. These ill-advised policies are rooted in the religious beliefs of Christians in the United States. Perhaps before we wave a finger at the Muslim we should wash our own hands.”

Who’s “we”? Anyways, if we means everyone, I think we should point our fingers at both Christian and Muslim fundamentalists. And on other issues we need to point fingers at non-religious ideological 'fundamentalists'. The west is already quite self-critical. The point is, any ideology which appears to have some significant role in causing a problem should receive criticism. Why should Islam, in particular, have special exemptions from this normal healthy process of criticism?

“More to the point, fine points of Quranic interpretation and a proper understanding of a supposed essence of Islam don’t much help in explaining Muslim opposition to American policy or determining whether it’s justified.”

Not fine points. Major points. Ask yourself why Japan and Germany are not waging war against the U.S. You mentioned the Israel-Palestine conflict. This conflict cannot be adequately explained without adding the Islam factor to the equation. Hamas has enscribed in its constitution the extermination of the Jews. It is based on this “sahih” hadith (which is quoted in the Palestinian media).

Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6985.
“Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177.
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him."”

Regarding your latest post, re mulitple interpretations, what matters practically is the set of interpretations that are actually implemented. Were it not for the significant human rights violations, the perpetual jihad doctrine, the disturbing future prospects if present trends continue, the failure of moderate-progressive reform up to this point, and many Muslims’ insistence that criticism of Islam must be forbidden, it would not be worthwhile to criticize Islam. But there are these problems, therefore we need to criticize Islam.

Revenant said...

Reza Aslan puts it somewhat differently.

So?

Your problem, rainsborough, is that you're interested in having an opinion on Islam but entirely uninterested in actually studying it. Hence you simply cherry-pick whichever of *other* people's opinions you find most pleasing. There simply isn't any reason to pay attention to your opinions regarding Islam until you can stir yourself to actually study the faith with an open mind, rather than simply parroting the positive spin of the religion's adherents.

I mean, seriously -- when you have a question about whether Christianity suffers from inherent flaws, do you simply ask a Christian and accept the answer at face value, or do you actually display some intellectual curiousity, and study the writings and teachings the religion is based on?

Rainsborough said...

Imperialism.
The Sudanese situation isn’t as morally unambiguous as it’s made out to be. The rebels have a good deal to answer for. In any event, I take imperialism to mean one county imposing its rule on another.

I agree that Somalia looks ready to follow the path trodden by Afghanistan in the mid 90s, and for similar reasons. Does Islam require of all rulers that they follow the Taliban?

I’d say what the United States did in Hawaii and the Philippines around the turn of the century was imperialist, and that Christian missionaries, at least in Hawaii, had a considerable influence on American policy.

On the eve of the colonization of the Congo, Stanley said "There are 40,000,000 naked people [on the other side of the rapids] and the cotton-spinners of Manchester are waiting to clothe them... Birmingham's factories are glowing with the red metal that shall presently be made into ironwork in every fashion and shape for them... and the ministers of Christ are zealous to bring them, the poor benighted heathen, into the Christian fold."
The heart of darkness was reached, and the motivation was partly religious.

One can easily cite scripture, starting with Jesus’s admonition to spread the gospel to the nations just before his ascension, suggesting that normative Christianity requires missionary activities. And it wouldn’t take too much work to show that missionary zeal hasn’t always worked to serve the interests of the heathen, nor that it has been instrumental in promoting imperialist policies in London, Brussels, and Washington.

When it comes to imperialism, Britain and France take few second prizes. (Though no doubt Belgium gets a special first.) Yet they are secular states, only influenced by Christians working as an interest group. Islamic states mix religion and politics in a way hard for me to grasp. If an Islamic state does colonize another, I suppose it will in part be for religious reasons or motives.

Fortunately, however, backward as they are, few Islamic states seem positioned to embark on imperial adventures. Indeed, I wonder if after 1957 and the de-colonization that swept the world starting then, imperialism in any meaningful sense is sustainable. (How’s the world’s only superpower doing at installing a satisfactory regime in backward Iraq?)

Correct readings.
In my book, a correct reading of the synoptic gospels and Paul’s letters leads quickly to the conclusion that Jesus an imminent coming of the kingdom and was disappointed. This is pretty fundamental, yet Christians have adjusted, as they have to less central hard sayings. I would infer that even a people of the book can learn to get along reasonably well with others—even if the book is full of unfortunate sayings that admonish them to do ill to others.

It’s especially to be expected that readings of scriptures will vary because scripture is revelation, and revelation so far as I can see is like playing tennis with the net down. One of its most sophisticated exponents holds that the history of the Jews shows the hand of God at work, if only one can see history for what it reveals. For good or ill, one an believe pretty much anything on the basis of revelation—which is a continuing process, and which a text can only point towards (or so those who rely on revelation are might contend, especially when the language is as convoluted as the Ouran’s Arabic).

Endeavoring to define the essence of Christianity, I guess I might start with one of the classic creeds. Endeavoring to define the essence of Islam, I guess I might start with the five pillars. And if I do that, it gives me hope that a vivacious Islam could be perfectly innocuous—almsgiving, fasting, praying, pilgrimaging, believing, are no skin off my nose.

And anyway, people live easily while holding contradictory beliefs, especially religious beliefs, and beliefs vary as to how prominent they are in people’s lives and how determinative they are of their behavior.

Similarly, a people’s behavior in the past may be variously related to their behavior today. So Christians’ deplorable behavior in Jerusalem or Constantinople a thousand years ago isn’t helpful in determining what to expect of them today. (And yes, it’s regrettable that Muslims’ forefront past actions of Christians (and Jews), and mistrust their descendents.)

What concerns me isn’t Muslim history or Muslim doctrine. I don’t care what Muslims have done, and I don’t care what they believe. I care what they do (and I care what they’ve done and what they believe as that leads to what they do).

What is expected of the Muslim? That he say, “There are essential elements of my faith that are morally reprehensible, and yet I insist on remaining Muslim”? Or say, “I recognize the moral deficiencies of my former faith, and I renounce it”? I don’t know how many of us non-Muslims expect him to say either, but I’m sure that he’s going to say neither, and that the Muslim told that this is what is expected of him is likely to be annoyed.

So instead, I assume, the expectation must be that the Muslim will acknowledge the deficiencies of Islam and work to correct them.

Now, either these deficiencies are essential to the faith or they are not. If they are essential, then we’re back to the “either insist on an admittedly deficient faith or renounce it.” Only if they are not essential, only if one can both be a true Muslim and hold to morally acceptable standards of behavior, is it possible to expect something of the Muslim that he’s likely to deliver—or that is consistent with treating him with a modicum of respect.

What is “a morally acceptable standard of behavior”?

Suppose one believes that God condemns homosexual behavior. Still, I would say, one must treat homosexuals with respect—one shouldn’t scorn them or abuse them or treat them with contempt. Nevertheless, when it comes to defining marriage or renting a basement apartment or hiring a minister, one is within one’s rights to take an anti-homosexual stance.

One’s religion is morally deficient in my view, and I would on some (many?) occasions say as much. But I don’t think I’d say it’s morally wrong to be the sort of Christian whose god condemns homosexual behavior, partly because I believe in the free exercise of religion, and partly because I don’t think it either effective or respectful to start by denouncing the entire religion instead of focusing on upholding the rights of homosexuals. I don’t think I’d say (a) it’s impermissible to abuse homosexuals AND (b) it’s an essential part of your religion as I understand it to abuse homosexuals.

What we need of Muslims is that they not send their sons and daughters our way to kill us. I know that there are many Muslims who believe, in part for reasons of religion, that they should send them. I believe that there are many more Muslims who don’t believe that their religion requires them to send them (including some Muslims who would send them for other reasons). I’m sure, however, that there’s nothing in the Quran or hadiths that inarguably requires sending them. And I don’t want to side with those who argue otherwise, especially by contending that unless you’re a bad Muslim, you will send them. Since my requirements of Muslims are minimal, and since there’s a long and very dubious chain of inference from any provision of the Quran or any hadith to “destroy the Holland Tunnel,” I don’t fear Islam entire.

Of course I would also like Islamic nations, and the others (including my own) as well, to conform to the standards of Article 51 and of international human rights conventions. But I’m pretty sure that insisting that true Islam requires them to commit aggression and to violate human rights is not the best way to get them not to keep peace and to respect human rights.


Revenant—
As a matter of relevance and logic, not to mention courtesy and civility, I have always tried to limit my comments to the issues at hand and not to commit the ad hominem fallacy. Despite your invitation, I won’t stop now.

Omar Barsawad said...

Irishei: I didn't mean converting to Islam would cure you of 'all these ills.' But some of you want scapegoats for all the ills that you have; ills, that continue to pile up inspite of all the wealth and 'progress' that you have!

I live in one of the most impoverished regions of the world; and yet, Hadhramout is one of the most peaceful of places that one can find! Crime and ills of any kind: robberies, murders, rapes, violence against women, drug usage, prostituition, brawls, traffic accidents etc. are almost non-existent! Not because of forcefully being enforced by the police, but only for one reason: Islam!

With all the poverty, rarely too - would one encounter as many beggars as one would have expected; and no one goes hungry! And: HIV/AIDS and all other forms of STDs, are extremely rare!

The kind of peace and co-existence I feel and see here, daily, I have not seen in any part of the world that I have visited or lived in, so far!

I mention all these not so as to try to convert others so as to cure their ills, but just to point out that - the violence and negative nature attributed to Muslims by others, the Western world in particular, is incorrect!

All I know: in life - there are good, noble people and bad, evil people; and no major religion condones or accepts badness or evilness!

I am,too, surprised at many who mention - jihad, jizya, sharia and so many other Muslim terms without actually understanding what they really mean! It is always best to understand, properly, a people, culture or belief before one can fairly understand and judge those people!

I understand the Western world and can easily understand their views and perspectives in most things, because I read and write their languages more than I do Arabic; and I have spent most of my life in their parts of the world. And I have no quarrel with them, nor hatred towards them.

I do ask too, for those in the Western world who want to judge us, to first understand - our views, perspectives and culture. Properly. Come to our part of the world and spend some times here as we do with yours; read extensively and intensively about us; learn our languages. Can any of you write Arabic as well as I am writing English here? How many of you can speak my language as well as I can speak yours? Have any of you read great books from my part of the world as I have read yours?

How many in your part of the world do really understand Islam's history? How many do really understand Islam?

Anonymous said...

Omar Barsawad:

I understand what taqiyya means. With your post, that's all I need to know!

Revenant said...

Irishei: I didn't mean converting to Islam would cure you of 'all these ills.' But some of you want scapegoats for all the ills that you have; ills, that continue to pile up inspite of all the wealth and 'progress' that you have

Omar, the ills you listed were the following: Crime, divorce, violence against women, the large disparity between the rich and poor, misuse of resources, and materialism.

Violence against women is vastly worse in Muslim countries than it is in the west; indeed, violence against women is the rule of law in most of those countries. It isn't *western* nations who react to a rape my murdering the rape victim. Sharia *is* violence against women, codified.

Next we have misuse of resources. It is hard to think of a bigger waste of resources than that of the Muslim oil states, which have taken immense oil wealth and done nothing of value with it. Contrast that with the western nations, which have used their resources to create almost all of the wealth, knowledge, and technology of the world.

Next -- crime. Almost all of the Muslim nations either (a) have worse crime than the west (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan) or (b) are police states who reduce crime by committing crimes against their own citizenry (e.g. Saudi Arabia, Egypt).

Next, divorce. Divorce isn't a problem; forcing women to marry (or remain married), as most Muslim nations do, is a problem. The freedom to divorce is a fundamental human right.

Similarly, materialism isn't a problem either. It is all well and good to disdain the importance of material possessions, but there's a reason why westerners are better-educated, healthier, and longer-lived than their counterparts in Muslim nations, and the answer lies in our material possessions.

Finally, the "large gap between the rich and poor". This is only a problem for people who are jealous of other peoples' success; what really matters is how many people are poor and how poor they are. A trivial example: which nation is better off, one in which the richest people make $1/day and the poorest make $0.99/day, or a nation in which the richest make $1 million and the poorest make $15,000? No, what really matters is how successful a nation is in lifting its people out of poverty, and in that area the USA trounces the entire Muslim world except for a couple of the small oil states (e.g. Bahrain and the UAE).

In any case, even if you're the sort of person who obsesses over how much richer the rich are than you, it is worth noting that both Iran and Saudi Arabia have worse income disparity than the United States anyway -- and, of course, a lot more poverty to go with it.

One final bit of food for thought -- of the ten countries with the largest gap between male and female wealth, seven -- Saudi Arabia, Oman, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Algeria, and Lebanon -- are Muslim. Ponder the relationship of this fact to the inherent misogyny of Islam and Arabic culture at your leisure.

Rainsborough said...

Ms. Young has a good nose for bigotry, and Spencer crossed the line. As he may too often be tempted to, since he’s so insistent that he knows what every good Muslim must believe, and seems sometimes to presume that if they say they don’t believe what he says they must, they’re probably dissembling, or at any rate falling short of their duty to become aware of the dangerous aspects of their religion and set about correcting them.

But it’s true that a religion whose founder’s career (or rather, its second half) was spent as a political ruler and military leader in a rough neighborhood is bound to have more hard sayings (so to speak) than a religion whose founder counted on God’s deliverance to transform the world. And it’s true that defenders of Islam, from within and without, shy away from these “hard sayings” as well as an array of historical and contemporary realities.

Still, to his credit, Spencer does have a list of approved Muslims, reformers who meet his standards, who confess to all of Islam’s shortcomings pretty much as he sees them , and work to correct them. Among these is Thomas Haidon, an American lawyer, raised Catholic but since converted to Islam, and a president of the New Zealand Chapter of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. In an article in FrontPage magazine, http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=16610 Haidon twice says he’s a firm believer that Islam is certainly capable of reform, and twice also that strategies of reform can be firmly rooted in the Qur’an.

Haidon’s religion, apparently approved even by Spencer, is neither unrelievedly nor essentially evil. One can adhere to it and yet be a good person. We could all live with it.

Revenant said...

But it’s true that a religion whose founder’s career (or rather, its second half) was spent as a political ruler and military leader in a rough neighborhood is bound to have more hard sayings (so to speak) than a religion whose founder counted on God’s deliverance to transform the world.

Oh, please. The "neighborhood" Jesus operated in was every bit as rough as that which Mohammed operated in -- indeed, it was one in which the "kill the unbelievers" mentality later adopted by Islam was all too common. Yet Jesus somehow managed to avoid ordering his followers to convert the unbelievers by the sword.

It is also ridiculous to act as if Mohammed was forced to make tough choices because he was a ruler in difficult times. You might as well defend the crimes of Al Capone on the grounds that being a mob boss requires making tough choices; both men chose to force their way to power and impose their will on the innocent people around them. Nobody forced Mohammed to start a war of conquest; he did that entirely on his own.

Haidon’s religion, apparently approved even by Spencer, is neither unrelievedly nor essentially evil. One can adhere to it and yet be a good person. We could all live with it

Well obviously any ideology can be non-evil if you rewrite it to remove all the evil parts. It is nevertheless silly to use that fact to claim that the base ideology isn't evil. If I bowdlerize Mein Kampf to get rid of the naughty bits can I start claiming Nazism is a peaceful political movement? :)

You also seem to have ignored the key sentence in Haidon's discussion of attempts to find Qur'anic justifications for reforming Islam: "these views are largely shunned by the Muslim majority.".

Rainsborough said...

In Jesus’ neighborhood, Galilee or even Jerusalem, Jews (that is, the people) had considerable autonomy. It’s true that Jesus was by no means the only religious leader to become a victim of Roman jurisprudence, but Roman troops mostly stayed over the horizon, and it was only when they threatened the political order that the Romans concerned themselves with religious leaders. When did Jesus witness an unbeliever killed simply for his religious convictions? John the Baptizer and at least a couple of others were executed, but, as in the case of Jesus, that was because they seemed to threaten the peace and maintenance of order.

By saying Muhammad lived in a rough neighborhood, I didn’t mean to suggest that he should be forgiven his sins or excused for his wrongdoing. But I admit to seeing some difference between Al Capone, motivated I assume by greed and maybe bloodlust, and Muhammad, who I think was motivated by a desire to spread what he took to be true message of salvation, and as such messages go, quite a plausible one.

Does Haidon think that the “ideology” of Islam is evil? Or even that any of its defining, essential parts are evil? I assume if he didn’t think Islam was chockfull of the best of ideas he wouldn’t be a Muslim. Apparently, he thinks an unbowdlerized Qur'an maps the route paradise.

I quite agree that it’s only a minority of Muslims who show an interest in reforming Islam.

Muhammad’s career as a religious leader lasted about ten years. The first half, in Mecca, he wasn’t in a position to do anyone much harm, wasn’t much of a general or ruler, and the Quranic writings from this period, I’m told, are relatively mild and unexceptionable.

Difficulties arise in the second half, in Medina and on the field of battle, even though, as Norman Cantor says, “the old myth that the Arabs burst forth with the sword in one hand and the Koran in the other, offering the Mediterranean peoples either conversion or death, has long been discredited.”

The truth is, Cantor says (along with Bernard Lewis and many others) “the Arabs tolerated the religious practices of the Christians and Jews they conquered, only placing a head tax and limitation of political rights on those who would recognize Mohammed as the Prophet of Allan, and therefore had a vested interest in not hurrying the conversion of their subjects.”

It’s been said that one of the reasons Islam did take hold in the former heartland of Christianity may have been that the people of Egypt and Syria had been alienated by the religious policy of the Byzantine emperor, including his undertaking a persecution of the Jews in Alexandria and Antioch and other cities.

Anonymous said...

"The first half, in Mecca, he wasn’t in a position to do anyone much harm, wasn’t much of a general or ruler, and the Quranic writings from this period, I’m told, are relatively mild and unexceptionable. "

Rainsborough, who tells you what to think?

Revenant said...

When did Jesus witness an unbeliever killed simply for his religious convictions?

Well, he was one. :)

Also, if the Bible is to be believed, Jesus intervened to prevent the killing of people who had violated local religious sensibilities. From a large historical perspective, it is fairly well-documented that religious bloodshed was common in that time and place; the Roman occupation inspired numerous cults, almost all of which met with bad ends.

But I admit to seeing some difference between Al Capone, motivated I assume by greed and maybe bloodlust, and Muhammad, who I think was motivated by a desire to spread what he took to be true message of salvation, and as such messages go, quite a plausible one

I don't care what you think. You haven't read the Qur'an and its related writings, and therefore aren't qualified to have an opinion about what Muhammed's motivations were. You're just regurgitating what Muslims have told you to think about their faith without doing any thinking of your own.

Maybe Muhammed was motivated by altruism and it was sheer coincidence that he ended up rich, powerful, virtually worshipped by his followers, and surrounded by the corpses of everyone who got in his way. But it takes a particularly mindless kind of gullibility to simply accept that explanation as the likely one, particularly in light of the fact that Muhammed abandoned his "peace" platform the minute he had enough followers to impose his will by force.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rainsborough said...

Jesus was a Jewish believer, and executed because Pilate judged that in a volatile situation (large crowds, high emotions) his actions (at the temple, whatever it was he was up to there) might start a riot or some other disorder. It was his perceived political pretensions or the effects of his actions on maintaining order that bothered Pilate.

Despite my aversion to getting off into irrelevancy:
Maybe you can fill me in on the conversations I’ve had with Muslims telling me about their beliefs. I can’t recall any myself, but then maybe your memory is better than mine.

Like every successful conqueror, Muhammad killed people. But it’s also true that he proclaimed a new religion that on its merits was found attractive by converts. One of the central historical issues is the mix of voluntarism and coercion in the spread of Islam. It seems to me that the evidence doesn’t support the notion that Muhammad and his agents simply put a sword to the throats of their converts. That’s what a lot of historians of Islam hold as well. But then maybe the Muslims have gotten to them as well.

My greatest concern is with what runs in the minds of Muslim extremists, and it’s heartening to learn (from Fawaz Gerges, who’s talked to a lot of them and read their books) that even they have become disillusioned about bin Laden’s and other strategies entailing killing the innocent, overthrowing governments, and attacking the far enemy. It’s also disheartening how the American occupation of Iraq has served to rekindle bin Laden’s hopes.

It’s also significant, I think, those who oppose “bin Ladenism” refer to scripture in defending their views.

I understand that there are fearsome readings of Islamic scripture that these folks might fall prey to, and that they might be seen to be dangerously close to them. But still, if even the baddest guys, the Islamists, are presently in fact turning against violence, should it frighten me that say the no-compulsion verse is followed by a threat of hellfire? Isn’t what’s most important the behavioral inclinations of those who may come after the “far enemy”?

As to the essential character of Islam, it’s possible that it isn’t today what it was in previous centuries. But still, I presume that the founders’ have a special authority to determine what the religion is really all about. (The Protestant in me: going back to the origins of the faith, Jesus and his followers, as speaking in a way that settles what the faith is really all about.)

Of course one has to see that there’s more potential for niceness, kindness and gentleness in a faith started by a guy relying on God’s action to bring a new world than by a guy who’s relying on his own political skill and military prowess. Generals and politicians do unethical things more often than not.

Even our founding has its moral ambiguities. Washington, who is about as virtuous as they come, maybe could have done better by the Seneca in New York, and the Tories weren’t always treated with tender regard. And down South, guerrilla war rules may have prevailed. Recent work on the early wars against the Indians –
Well, okay, this is the founding of a secular state. So one expects moral ambiguity.

But given that Muhammad was also engaged in conquest and rule, I expect him too to play rough. It’s a question of degree, and a question whether a religion so founded can possibly produce followers who can be lived with. From what I’ve read of the historical record, and of his account of God’s revelations to him, from an ethical standpoint Muhammad was not an outlier, but instead a pretty average sort of politician/general—not so nice as Washington, but nicer than Henry VIII or Genghis Khan. (From a political-military-religious standpoint, he was of course extraordinary.)

But of course it doesn’t matter what I make of his record, it’s what our potential enemies, Muslims of various stripes, make of it. Where I’d least expect scruples about the killing the innocent or approval of American policies is among Islamists and jihadists. But even they scruple. I’ll just list those who do and cite a page in Gerges’ Far Enemy.
--Fatwa from conservative scholars, critical of American policies, declaring American Muslims were obliged to serve in Afghanistan (189)
--Leaders of largest Arab jihadist organization:
Shariah jihad forbids killing civilians, Muslim or not, under any conditions (200)
--Spokesman for this organization: Al Qaeda’s attacks on Americans violated Islamic law, which “bans killing civilians” of any religion or nationality (202)
--Leaders: advocacy of war between the “houses” misguided and based on a misreading of the umma’s capabilities (203) (I take it that those who say we’re engaged with an existential struggle with Islam disagree with this estimate of its capabilities)
--Tariq al-Bishri, jurist and historian (maybe not an Islamist): Muslims must refrain from harming innocent civilians (241)
--Zarqawi’s spiritual mentor: violence that doesn’t differentiate among women and children, civilians, soldiers and American troops is wrong. (261)
--Mentor: Today spreading al-da’wa of tawhid (affirmation of the oneness of God) peacefully in the world is more important and effective than going to fight in Iraq. (262)

I’m way far from being able to estimate at all exactly just how morally fine or gross a person Muhammad was. (Or, for that matter, Jesus or Paul.) But evidently the word of his lord in heaven served him and his followers to justify a pretty average mix of good and bad, as it has in the centuries since. And as has the word of Jesus’ lord his followers.

Revenant said...

Jesus was a Jewish believer, and executed because Pilate judged that in a volatile situation (large crowds, high emotions) his actions (at the temple, whatever it was he was up to there) might start a riot or some other disorder

The Jesus whom Christians revere was not religiously Jewish by the standards of Judaism, and was executed for his religious teachings at the behest of the Jews. Historically it is likely the man never existed at all, but that's what the Jesus Christians read about and follow was like.

Maybe you can fill me in on the conversations I’ve had with Muslims telling me about their beliefs.

Maybe you can quote where I said you'd had conversations with Muslims. I said you were thinking what they told you to think, as evidenced by your repeatedly quoting the writings of various Muslims without doing any investigation yourself.

The revelation that you have never even spoken to a Muslim about his or her religious beliefs is certainly enlightening, though. You haven't read any of the holy books, you haven't spoken to any of the faithful, and yet you keep prattling on about what you think Islam is like. Yawn.

Like every successful conqueror, Muhammad killed people. But it’s also true that he proclaimed a new religion that on its merits was found attractive by converts.

First of all, Muhammed had only a few thousand followers when he began his conquests. Secondly, the ability of an ideologue to attact followers is not a testimony to the goodness of his ideology, as can be seen in the countless examples of complete bastards who've attacted large followings. Thirdly, Islam was not found very attractive by Jews or Christians, who largely chose to pay the taxes and accept second-class status (Muhammed's anti-Jewish statements date to his failure to convince Jews to convert to Islam). For people of other faiths the choice was one between conversion and death, so small wonder conversion seemed attractive. If you can't practice your original faith without being killed, conversion is a smart move.

I understand that there are fearsome readings of Islamic scripture that these folks might fall prey to, and that they might be seen to be dangerously close to them

No, you don't "understand" that. You've been told that. You yourself are completely ignorant on the subject of whether Islamic scripture is "fearsome" or not.

Of course one has to see that there’s more potential for niceness, kindness and gentleness in a faith started by a guy relying on God’s action to bring a new world than by a guy who’s relying on his own political skill and military prowess.

No, there is more potential for niceness, kindness, and gentleness in a faith started by a guy who preached niceness, kindness, and gentleness than there is in a faith started by a guy who taught that those who kept practicing their old religion (or, like me, denied the existance of God) should be killed. Christians and Jews were the *exceptions* to the general "kill those who won't convert" rule, as Islamist apologists like to forget.

Anyway, I feel I've wasted enough time on this, at least until a defender of Islam who actually knows something about Islam comes along. :)

Rainsborough said...

The case for the non-historicity of Jesus may not be negligible, but nor is it very convincing. Paul was persecuting followers of Jesus from within a few years of his crucifixion. I doubt if he was deceived that Jesus had lived. No doubt the followers of Jesus were credulous, but they weren’t fools. Nor is it likely that anyone but a religious genius of the first order could have created all the sayings attributed to Jesus.

Jesus, even as described in the synoptic gospels, conformed to the law (or insisted it be yet more rigorously observed) and ritual observances and didn’t conceive of himself as founding a new religion.

The historians I’ve read say that the inhabitants of Arabia were disposed toward monotheism, and I assume the reports of the voluntary conversions Muhammad made in Mecca and Medina and elsewhere are correct. And that it’s also correct that once he had secured control of the Hejaz, representatives from the rest of Arabia turned up at his doorstep. I agree that the whole process was a mix of coercion and voluntarism, but it doesn’t seem to me that either the evidence or what we know about the spread of religion in general jibes with the notion that Mohammad relied chiefly on the sword.

My understanding is that all around the Mediterranean, Christianity was the dominant religion before the expansion of Islam. The historians I’ve read suggest to me that Islam’s success turned in part on the unwise policies of the Byzantine emperor, and that Christianity didn’t prove as resistant as its medieval exponents in Europe wanted to believe.

What the exact mix of coercion and voluntarism was in the spread of Islam I don’t know. But I assume Cantor ( and Lewis) are right that it wasn’t by any means spread by pure coercion. I imagine it spread in a way not too dissimilar from how Christianity spread after Constantine’s conversion.

If you’d like, I’ll cite you a raft of benign and even ingratiating suras, and even some that are inspiring.

So far as I know, there was no significant number of atheists to be found before the 18th century. Alan Kors says that atheism before the 1700s was literally almost inconceivable. Anyway, though the Qur’an does smite the unbelievers, I don’t think there were many to be smitten. Polytheists, on the other hand, there was a good number of, and them Muhammad (as you say) did have it in for. He wasn’t long on First Amendment freedoms. (Not like, say, Ashoka. There were some pretty enlightened people around eve in those days.)

Anyway, the vital question is what we are to do about the billion or so Muslims across the sea or down the block. If it were true they’re all of them, by virtue of their religion, coming to get us, we would be in bad way, despite their limited capabilities. It seems to me that the evidence shows that few of them are out to get us. If they’re not, and we treat them as if they are, that might do us more harm than good.

Baraka said...

Salaam, shalom, & peace,

Thanks for this well-researched, balanced view.

Such a necessary voice against the onslaught of hysteria!

Warmly,
Baraka

Anonymous said...

IrishEi.you know what,i really pitty people like you,you are blown by the wind,by what you hear and never by what you know and have researched on,
ha ha! you may say,but be aware that you do not really know where you came from in this world,do you really know who created you?have you any idea of what God really is,you said God bless America,ha ha,are you sure America is really blessed,you think by being the super power it is Gods blessings,you think coz you have the best defence in the world and coz your people leave in peace and a so proud to be Americans is Gods blessings?well!think twice,yes you leave in a coutry where everything is smooth,no war,no suffering and money is there bu t lemi tell you,thats just the worldly riches that you people have,maybe no country can fight you but God has fought you and will still fight you,how many hurrucanes have you had and how many more are to come??is that Islam??will you blame it on any Jihad?we may not be better in anyway than you but God knows how cruel and evil you people are,you think coz you do not suffer like any other country or race then you are blessed?sorry my dear,there is more to come for America,esecially for people like you who dont know where they came from or after they die where you are heading,more hurricanes are coming and at the end,there wiol be no more America,may God help his people there,but may people like you rot in hell!
you misiteprate islam and try to show how evil it is,i can only tell you be patient and one day you will see the true way of life,it will be late by then and there will be nothing like living in America to save you,enjoy for now,but be prepared for the worst in future because people like you who can sit down and criticise any religion are just hopeless in this world and for sure you will burn in fir till you turn into ash,you will remember my words one day!
as for you cathy,everyone in this world thinks what you say is the right thing and the best,lemi tell you that you have more to learn and read,you will never know islam by just hearing what people say or reading with a negative mind,you will only learn when the day comes,the day when you will cry out loud and wonderwhy didnt i read more,all the books you are reading will not help you on that day and for sure you will also remember my words and also of other people who commented,understand Islam,and you will understand the peace in it,
may God actually HELP!america,for they are happy now but i wish they new what is in store for them when the world ends

Revenant said...

but God has fought you and will still fight you,how many hurrucanes have you had and how many more are to come?

Given how few people end up dying from natural disasters in this country, I have to say -- if that's "God fighting us", God's kind of a wuss.

we may not be better in anyway than you but God knows how cruel and evil you people are

Ah, you must be one of those "moderate Muslims" we've been hearing so much about. :)

jens said...

Another long blogging hiatus. I am used to it now. Last time I was seriously thinking about calling the police to look for the body.

Synova said...

So the Pope made some comments implying that violence is part of Islam and the Muslim world is in an uproar threatening violence if the Pope doesn't apologize for calling them violent.

I've got no use for bigots, but at some point we need to admit that the problem with Islam as the Religion of Peace isn't Western bigots who preach that Islam itself is fundamentally uncivilized, but the actions of the Muslims who prove they are right.

I'm sorry that the Pope has issued any sorts of apologies at all because every time someone in the West backs down and says how sorry they are that they've offended Muslims it legitimizes the use of a threat of violence.

And if the Pope, or the Western press in the case of the Danish cartoons, grovel and apologize, how can Muslims who oppose the use of coersion or violence be expected to say anything against it at all?

Brian Macker said...

I've followed this series of articles and your victims responses. They object to Muslims peeing on cutural treasures and shitting on church floors, and you compare it to urinating on a tree or the corner of a parking garage. Get real.

Why don't you debate him if you think you are so right.

Anonymous said...

Re: "Reason column"

Reason is about believing in things for which there is evidence. Religion doesn't make the cut.

Clinging to religion in the 1600s was excusable. Then came the Age of Reason, a time when it became much less excusable, especially among intelligent, thinking people.

Then came the 1800s and Darwin et al., and the 1900s and Crick & Watson and a million other scientific discoveries.

"No, the wind doesn't blow because of the Wind God. No, the fire doesn't burn because of the the Fire God. No, the thunder doesn't boom because of the Thunder God. No, babies aren't the product of the Goddess of Fertility sprinkling fairy dust."

We're living in the freaking 2000s now, and we have religious madmen of all different colors and stripes wielding all sorts of dangerous weapons.

Reasonable people need to start speaking up, and then they need to speak up louder.

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J The Munificent and Magnanimous said...

What a liberal idiot! Stop shrouding yourself in the veil of tolerance and recognise that there is a severe imbalance in the world, namely, the dual standard between Muslims and Christians/Jews. Why is it permissable for the Ayatollah to crap fatwahs out of his ass, while the Pope is criticised simply for reading a quote from 500 years ago?
Its clueless liberals like you, who, instead of dissembling racism, instead encourage it with a whole plethora of laws favoring anyone who is not white or asian. Because of YOU, the world is edging closer and closer to a totalitarian Communist state of Fags and Lesbos. If you've ever read Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut, you can see the path that Liberals are taking Americans on.
Again, I repeat, you are an idiot that needs to shut up about things you don't know about.

Guy Barry said...

I take my hat off to America for putting 2 Muslim nations in their place.Europe is too politically correct to call an enemy an enemy
smile

catnapping said...

Christianists bombed the federal building in OKC; Christianists have been systematically bombing women's clinics; Christianists have been murdering doctors; and Christianists have been assaulting Jews, Indians, Blacks, etc for a couple of centuries - right here in America.

Trust me. If terrorist organizations like World Church of the Creator had the sponsors Al Qaeda has, we'd be in a world of shit.

But the corporate media would rather you feared Muslims. Why is that?

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