Sunday, July 02, 2006 and anti-Muslim bigotry

Robert Spencer of 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

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, 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

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.


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.

Anonymous 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.

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...


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?


Let's 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
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.
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:

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Jimmy Gatt said...


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.

Anonymous 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.


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)


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.


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)


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)


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?

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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...


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:

What is the Shariah?
by Mentat
Email: Mentat_99 (nospam) (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 It is also available at

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:

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


(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.)


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.


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.



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


b5.1 (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


(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).)


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


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


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

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


o11.1 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).


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


o12.1 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


o14.1 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


o24.2 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


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


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


p17.1 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


r40.1 (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




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


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: Also, more information about the case is available online at:

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,

22. Slavery is permitted


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

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


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


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


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,


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;

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.


Anonymous 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, " 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, 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?


Martin 665

Revenant said...

Reza Aslan puts it somewhat differently.


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?

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...

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.".

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.
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. :)

Baraka said...

Salaam, shalom, & peace,

Thanks for this well-researched, balanced view.

Such a necessary voice against the onslaught of hysteria!


Anonymous said... 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. :)

Anonymous 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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