As if there were not enough for Us (1) to discuss, on the advice of a reader and commenter, We have decided to expand the focus of this blog a slight bit more. We will include elements that are not entirely academic as well as Our opinion on issues not related with Islam (2).
We felt that We have a schtick and so We ought to stick with it, but We also feel that We should not flinch from inflicting Our pompous opinion on the world.
Elements We intend to incorporate are:
1. Reviews of websites and blogs (particularly those We have linked to) (3)
2. Our opinions on current events
3. Explanations of the people and culture of Our ethnic background (South Asia)
4. Other personal details and elements as may be needed
5. What We have learned and understood about Christianity and Judaism
Suggestions are always welcome!
Notes for this post:
1. As one may have noticed, We use the “royal We.” Imitating the style of ancient potentates, this pronoun is capitalized. If one wonders why We use such a gimmick, he/she is free to email Us whereupon We will post a reply. Despite the fact that a plural pronoun is being used, the fact remains that the person behind this blog is one.
2. We feel impelled to remind Our readers that Our identity as a Muslim is, obviously, contested, particularly based on the facts that:
a. We have renounced Islam
b. We converted to Christianity (although a number of years after renouncing Islam)
c. We are, according to Islam, a blasphemer and one who has desecrated Islam (and God and Muhammad and the Qur’an, et cetera)
d. We are, according to Islam, an apostate
Nevertheless, two elements weigh heavily upon Our mind:
i. According to Islamic law, one who has become a Muslim (which is applicable to Us as We have been born in a Muslim household to Muslim parents) will always be a Muslim, which is why the laws and standards of Islam apply to Us despite (or especially because of) Our apostasy, blasphemy, and/or desecration.
ii. We have not made public Our apostasy from Islam, Our conversion to Christianity, nor Our thoughts on Islam to Our family, relatives, and ethnic social groups. When needed, We go along with Muslim rites and practices. (Fortunately for Us, Our family does not pray.) We would be completely forthright were it not that being so would severely and negatively impact Our family, who – We believe – should not be punished because of Our decisions. If this is a sign of weakness, then so be it.
In short: We are no longer a Muslim but We must pretend to be one in real life. Religiously, We are a very Judaism-friendly Christian. It is not Our intention, initially, to discuss Our religious beliefs, testimony, or journey here. We are willing to divulge such information to those individuals who may be interested; otherwise, this is not the purpose of this blog.
3. Our linking policy is quite simple: We will add anyone who lists Our site or who requests a link (although We cannot guarantee either or both).
Evidently, as soon as convert to Christianity from Islam Abdur Rahman (he of the ironic name) was released from prison, he disappeared. Many were speculating where he went and which state (if any) would grant him asylum, for he did, wisely, as for asylum. Afghani legal authorities requested that he barred from leaving the state, which would have been a sort of death sentence for if he did not flee he would have certainly been killed. Perhaps these authorities desired its blood-thirsty Muslim clerics to do what the state was evidently afraid to do. After all, where could he have gone, considering it was his own flesh and blood that betrayed him to the authorities?
Rahman was in the care of Italy’s Interior Ministry, Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday evening. “He is already in Italy,” he said. “I think he arrived overnight.”
The premier declined to release more details. The Interior Ministry said Rahman was “under protection.”
Italy was one of the first states to speak up in Abdul Rahman’s defense. In addition to its government, the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedixt XVI, appealed to Afghani president Hamid Karzai from Rome on behalf of Abdul Rahman. For once, a European state aligned its actions with its words: being one of the first to defend Abdul Rahman and to pressure the Afghani government to act appropriately, it granted Abdul Rahman asylum and accepted him into the nation.
Thank you, Italy.
We have been quite proud of the many in the West who have so forcefully spoken in Abdul Rahman’s defense. Many governments and institutions placed immense pressure on Karzai on behalf of Abdul Rahman. It surprised Us that one man’s case would so enthrall and unite the world. He did not ask for this assistance, and was quite willing to die a martyr’s death. But the West would not have any of it.
Italy was among the many brave states, and it matched its words with its actions evidently without hesitation or equivocation. Brava e grazie mille, Italia.
CAIR is like a number of Islamist organizations that are two-faced: they say one thing to the world, and another to its followers. They are like a pest, a parasite.
We hope this will dampen CAIR’s litigiousness, and We also hope this will help others see the true nature of CAIR. The lawsuit’s target was Anti-CAIR.
The above cartoon by Cox and Forkum is an excellent expose as to how CAIR operates, thinks, and truly is about. Like other Islamists, they attempt to use the laws, values, and resources of The United States against The United States. Good work, Cox and Forkum!
Doug Pritchard, the co-director of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, said, “We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq.” He has called for coalition forces to leave the country.
We have done some thinking. We have found the truth behind these facades.
This “Christian Peacemaker Teams” organization is not dedicated to peace, Christianity, or anything good. In fact, Mr. Pritchard must be an ordained priest of Satan. A high priest even. We would not be surprised if he is the Satanic Pope, Vicar of Satan, et cetera. This organization must have been founded to exacerbate and perpetuate suffering and violence, and must have turned their vile gaze to Iraq for some reason or another. They sent teams there, intentionally vulnerable, to be kidnapped in order to cause more chaos, most likely hoping for a violent confrontation between coalition forces and insurrectionary forces.
Their call for the coalition forces to leave Iraq is part of their plan. As any sane human being can tell, if the coalition forces leave without properly preparing and training Iraqi forces to manage the state, Iraq will swiftly descend into bloody civil wars.
We do not doubt that their consternation at Iraq’s invasion is genuine. After all, there was far more suffering, chaos, violence, bloodshed, insecurity, instability, oppression, and tyranny with Saddam in power. They must be quite upset that he is no longer in power.
This must be the truth. Surely no human is really so brainless as to genuinely believe that toppling Saddam was a bad thing, that liberating Iraq was a bad thing, or that the hasty withdrawal of coalition forces will be a very, very, very bad thing indeed. Such idiocity is impossible. No, these “Christian peacemakers” must be Satanic warmongerers (or violence-mongerers, to be more accurate) in reality. What else can be plausible?
inna naHnu-l-a’lam. (Please note: This was satire. The Christian Peacemaker Teams are idiotic beyond words can express. Indeed.)
It is one thing to believe that war is wrong, but it quite another thing all together to then take sides as to which armed force is better or more justified.
Christian missionaries went to Iraq to express their solidarity with the Iraqi people. This is understandable and, to a degree, even commendable.
Within Christianity there are a few theological/denominational movements that believe in and practice pacifism. Two such movements are Anabaptism (which the Amish and Mennonites are a part of) and Quakerism (to which the Religious Society of Friends (also known as Quakers) and Shakerism belong). This Christian pacifism means that its adherents would never use force, relying instead on God’s protection. They also believe that war is morally wrong. They refuse to participate in or contribute to them in any way whatsoever. Their stance is different from that of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that pacifists believe war is wrong whereas Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that all governments (and by extension, all militaries and defense infrastructure) are illegitimate. Jehovah’s Witnesses pledge allegiance only to the Kingdom of God, not to any kingdom of men. As such, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not pacificists, per se.
Eschewing violence also requires developing love for all people. All of these policies are derived from Jesus’ words in the New Testament, primarily Matthew 5:44-48:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
This is not to say that pacifism as found in Quakerism and Anabaptism is the correct application of these and other statements but it is one of many interpretations.
Notice, however, that nothing Jesus has said hints at taking sides in a war or showing ingratitude. When these Christian missionaries take sides – as they have done, siding with Iraqi militants – and when they are apallingly unthankful, one must question their motivation and policies.
A pacifist following the traditional Christian theology thereof would have equally condemned Iraqi militancy as he condemns The United States’ actions. All armed action is morally repugnant to God, according to Christian pacifism, regardless who perpetuates it or why. Furthermore, when people have placed their lives in harm to save a pacifist, it is the pacifist’s Christian duty to nevertheless thank God at the very least, even if he doesn’t thank those who placed themselves in danger on his account. To be so against The United States and so supportive of inhuman, immoral, and terroristic Iraqi militants is unacceptable, inconsistent, and hypocritical. As such, from their own theology, they are in danger of betraying Jesus and in danger of being damned.
They must repent forthwith of their hatred for The United States, for their ingratitude for what The United States have done for them, for their inconsistency and hypocrisy, for their betrayal of Jesus, for their siding with evil, and for offending God and man in such unexpected ways.
Regarding the political ruler, Paul wrote: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do what which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4, boldface added).
Oh, and by the way, “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly” is not a newspaper and it certainly ain’t reputable.
We object! Although The Hatemonger’s Quarterly is not a newspaper, We find it reputable in that rarely are its claims unjustified and that it expresses its opinions and views without equivocation or manipulation. (Good responses to her, THMQ!)
Ms. Innab states that a newspaper’s function is to “inform, not inflame.” We would request Ms. Innab to convey this evidently novel fact to the Mainstream Media of the West. We do not expect her to convey it to the media of her region as they are hopeless and utterly irreputable to begin with.
Would she believe that printing stories about the alleged desecration of the Qur’an to be informing or inflaming? What about printing pictures of alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib? What about printing only the bad news from Iraq and rarely the good news? What about perpetuating incorrect memes about current events? Surely Ms. Innab should see that it is the Western media’s tendency to inflame rather than inform. After all, an inflamed people means better business than an informed people.
For all her comments about Western media, perhaps her time would be used more wisely if she guided Arab Middle Eastern media on how to be reputable and informative rather than inflammatory and full of lies and misrepresentation. We have never seen such irreputable media as in the Middle East, and We have never seen media so intent on spreading lies and misrepresentations and fictions as the Middle Eastern media.
Furthermore, We utterly reject the notion that the Western media should have known better. The Western media routinely mock everything, and Islam should be no exception. It is a mark of a civilized people to take offense without resorting to violence. To react this way was unacceptable and utterly uncivilized. There can be no justification for this reaction whatsoever.
What would Ms. Innab say about the Danish imam who added a few anti-Muhammad cartoons of his own, incorrectly alleging that the added cartoons were also published by the Danish newspaper in question? Such deception is untenable and unacceptable – particularly when one realizes that the original cartoons were hardly as offensive as those the Danish imam added. Where are the burnt embassies and slaughtered Muslims as evidence of Muslim protests against the blaspheming and deceiving imam? Why have no fatawa been issued against him? (His acts very nicely demonstrate the acceptability of deception in Islam.)
Why did Muslims not protest worldwide when an American artist desired to depict Jesus Christ (“Hazrat Eesa bin Mariam” to Muslims) in urine? Or when Mary, the mother of Christ (“Hazrat Mariam” to Muslims), was depicted with dung? In both of these cases the media supported the depictions, excoriating those who vociferously opposed this “art” because of religious sensitivities. If Muslims really do love Jesus and Moses and all the prophets as they say, why did they not protest the desecration of these two holy figures?
Of course, anyone with half a brain would realize that the reason the American media did not print the offensive anti-Muhammad cartoons but printed and defended art desecrating Jesus and Mary is because Christians are not wont to violently protest when offended. The America media prefers to offend Christians and Jews rather than Muslims because the latter group is known for beheading those who offend them and engaging in other acts of violence. This fact is another indictment against Islam, proving that it contains, lamentably, elements and aspects that make it uncivilized.
Ms. Innab’s comments that Arab media caricaturize only certain Jews is patently false. The Arab media routinely print cartoons that are viscerally unacceptable and offensive against Jews, Christians, Israelis, and Americans (and other peoples). This is done against whole peoples and not specific persons, although cartoons against specific persons are also done. For Muslims to be offended by cartoons deemed offensive by Muslims is quite hypocritical. But then, are not such double standards endemic within the Islamic community?
This episode – and even Ms. Innab’s supposedly enlightened comments – demonstrate how incompatible Islamic culture and, to a degree, even Islamic senstitivites are with the West. Muslims will go to great lengths to condemn those who offend them and to defend the actions of the offended, unless the offended are non-Muslim. The proper response to this is to demand Muslims in the West and that desire to keep contact with the West that they conform to civilized standards of behavior or that they break all relations with the West. The West should not cater to their childish and hypocritical sensitivities. The West should not sacrifice its values because they offend Muslims.
Today, We shall discuss taqiyyah. taqiyyah is primarily (although not exclusively) a Shiite practice. It means “dissimulation.” (According to Merriam-Webster Online, “dissimulation” comes from “dissemble,” which means, “to hide under a false appearance” or “to put on a false appearance: conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretense.”) This means that Shiites can pretend to not be Shiites. But the uses of taqiyyah are more than for this and has serious implications for relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly with Islamists, as shall be seen soon.
From the website of Grand Ayatollah as-Sayyid Ali al-Husseini as-Sistani (aayatu-llaah al-‘uZmaa as-sayyid ‘alee al-Hussaynee as-seestaanee) is this page which discusses taqiyyah.
Question : What are the kinds of Taqiyah (dissimulation) and when is it obligatory?
Answer : There are different types of Taqiyah:
1) Taqiyah is done for safety reasons. For example, a person fears that he might be killed or harmed, if he does not observe Taqiyah. In this case, it is obligatory to observe Taqiyah.
2) Reconciliatory Taqiyah. This type of Taqiyah is done when a person intends to reconcile with the other side or when he intends to soften their hearts. This kind of Taqiyah is permissible but not obligatory.
3) Sometimes, Taqiyah may cause a more important obligation to be lost or missed, if so it is forbidden. For example, when I know that silence would cause oppression and infidelity to spread and will make people go astray, in such a situation it is not permissible to be silent and to dissimulate.
4) Sometimes, Taqiyah may lead to the death of an innocent person. If so, it is not permissible. It is therefore haram (forbidden) to kill another person to save your own life.
In other words, taqiyyah is permitted to:
1. Save oneself (mandatory)
2. Softening hearts (permissible, not mandatory)
3. To escape an obligation such as speaking out against oppression or infidelity (forbidden)
4. To preserve one’s life if it means someone else may die (forbidden)
The first type is quite understandable. Imagine a Shiite family living in a Sunni area which is known to kill, attack, or persecute against Shiites. They can pretend to be Sunnis to escape harm, death, or even inconvenience. Shiites do have to make a conscious decision to pretend to be Sunnis because telling a Shiite and a Sunni apart is quite easy. One way is to observe one at prayer.
a. Shiites use a clay tablet on which they place their forehead when they prostrate. This is often called a turbah; many are made from dirt from Karbala, but any dirt or clay can be used. Sunnis use no such thing.
b. Shiites do not say “ameen” after reciting soorat al-faatiHah (which is done in the first two units of prayer (according to Shiites) or all units (according to Sunnis), which Sunnis do. Shiites believe that saying “ameen” invalidates the prayer while some Sunnis believe that not saying “ameen” invalidates the prayer. Of course, if a Shiite is in congregational prayer and does not say “ameen,” no one would notice.
c. Some Shiites raise their hands to their ears every time they do takbeer (“takbeer” means “to say ‘allaahu akbar'”). Sunnis do this only at the first takbeer just before the prayer per se starts. (This initial takbeer is called takbeer al-iHraam (Arabic) or takbeer-e iHraam (Persian, Urdu).)
d. While standing during prayers, Shiites will have their arms hanging down by their sides. Sunnis (except for those who follow the Maaliki madhhab) fold their arms over their abdomen, right hand over the left hand. Shiites believe that folding the arms invalidates the prayer, while Sunnis believe that leaving the arms hang down invalidates the prayer.
e. At the end of the prayer, Sunnis will turn to the right and to the left, saying in each direction “as-salaamu ‘alayka wa raHmatu-llaah” (“may peace and God’s mercy be upon you”). Shiites do not do this. Instead, they look forward and recite something longer (“as-salaamu ‘alaika yaa ayyuha an-nabiyyu wa raHmatu-llaahi wa barakaatuhu. as-salaamu ‘alaynaa wa ‘ala ‘ibaadi-llaahi-S-SaaliHeen. as-salaamu ‘alaykum wa raHmatu-llaahi wa barakaatuhu.” “O Prophet, peace and God’s mercy be upon you. Peace and God’s mercy be upon us and upon the faithful worshipers of God. Peace and God’s mercy be upon you.”)
f1. In the adhaan (call to prayer), Sunnis say “ash-hadu anna laa ilaaha illaa-llaah” (“I testify that there is no deity except God”) and “ash-hadu anna muHammada(n)-rasooli-llaah” (“I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of God”) (each said twice), which Shiites also do but they may follow this with a third attestation, “ash-hadu anna ‘aliyyun waliyu-llaah” (“I testify that Ali is the friend of God”) or something along these lines.
f2. Also in the adhaan, Sunnis will say “Hayya ‘ala-S-Salaah” (“come to prayer”) and “Hayya ‘ala-l-falaaH” (“come to success”) (each recited twice). Shiites will add a third statement: “Hayya ‘ala khayr al-‘amal” (“come to good deeds”).
g. In each even-number unit of prayer, Shiites will pray what they call qunoot. They will place their palms up before their faces while reciting a privately-selected short Arabic prayer (usually taken from the Qur’an). This is after reciting whatever he/she recites while standing but before bowing down into rukoo’. Sunnis do not do this.
Sunnis and Shiites do watch others in prayer and will correct what they see as incorrect. One cannot blame them; for some, every intricate rule is crucial: violating a rule or deviating from one of them would invalidate the prayer. Correcting someone is about saving his/her soul. If one’s prayers are invalid, they are unaccepted and it is as if he/she did not pray, and so he/she will go to Hell. Or so it is said.
The second category of taqiyyah is quite bothersome. What as-Sistani is saying is that if by deception one can be reconciled to another, taqiyyah is acceptable. He also says that if by deception one can soften hearts (by saying, as an entirely hypothetical example, that Islam does not permit offensive jihad, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that Islam eschews violence), taqiyyah is acceptable.
If this point is true, how can one distinguish between falsehood and truth in what the world is being told about Islam? If deception is acceptable in Islam, what does this say about the integrity of Muslims? What does it say about the role of truthfulness in Islam? Surely no Muslim will argue that softening the hearts of non-Muslims towards Islam could be wrong. Such might even be considered to be a laudable endeavor!
This certainly explains the tendency of Muslims and Muslim states to lie to the West. They claim they’re peace-loving. Not so. They claim they are motivated by justice for Palestinians. Not so. They claim they are rational and rooted in reality. Not so. (Rather than rational and rooted in reality, they are rather ridiculous.) They claim to stand up for human rights. Not so. They claim they do not persecute or prosecute religious minorities. Not so. The list goes on and on and on and on.
Another weapon in Islam’s arsenal: deception. Caveat lector/auditor.
As a commenter noted, it would not be unexpected for someone to believe that We are rooting for and favorably disposed to Shiites, particularly in Iraq. To a degree this is true: of Muslim groups, We prefer the Shiites. Yet We also recognize that certain strains of Shiism can be as much a threat to the West (and to stability and tranquility, and to other Muslims) as Salafi/fundmentalist/militant Sunni Islam. Muqtada as-Sadr, a large “mover and shaker” among the Shiites in Iraq, is one such threatening aspect of Shiism.
There is an interesting contrast between how Shiites in Iraq, in general, and Shiites in Iran, in general, behave. This has to do with the prevailing interpretation of Shiism in each country. Khomeyni advocated activism, and he used the surging wave of popular activism against the Shah (and foreigners) to install himself and his pernicious Velayat-e Faqeh into power in Iran. Under the Shah, the Shiite clerics were among the forefront (along with socialists and communists) in protesting against the Shah. In Iraq, when the Shiites were being massacred by Saddam, the reaction was more subdued. This is because unlike Iran, the clerics in Iraq were mainly quietist. They saw such political agitation, protest, or action to be useless, in the end, in the absence of the Imam. At some point, they would fail.
Not everyone in Iraq, obviously, agreed with the quietists. Like Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders, Iraqi Shiite leaders could be said to have cooperated with Saddam regime, keeping the people loyal in exchange for the regime softening its hand over the Shiites. Likewise, Eastern Orthodox Christian leaders cooperated with (and accepted the manipulation by) Communist powers (particularly Russia). After liberation, the faithful expressed their displeasure at their leaders’ complicity, as it were, with the regime’s oppression. However, this criticism is quite ridiculous. These leaders, whether Shiite or Eastern Orthodox Christian, had to cooperate or face death or, even worse, even more oppression against the faithful. Better to strike a deal with the Devil and survive and continue God’s work than to become extinguished and have God’s work fail.
Muqtada as-Sadr, and others like him, obviously do not like the quietist attitude of past and present Shiite leaders. Yet, they cannot see how disastrous, inhuman, and destructive their activist tendencies have been and will be for the Shiites.
There is another major difference between quietists and activists, and for the community it is, in a way, more significant than the differences with regard to its relation with political forces. This difference lies with internal discipline. Activists are not actively engaged in liberating the faithful, asserting the faith, and securing the faithful’s uncompromised and uncompromising dominance, but also are engaged in ensuring that the faithful are faithful to the faith. They are wont to enforce faithfulness, often using violence. This is what Khomeini’s activists have done and still do (mainly through the Basiji, who were, incidently, instrumental in Ahmadinezhad’s victory), and so it is no surprise that this is what Muqtada as-Sadr’s followers have been doing as well. When a force is willing to torture, violate, and kill its own people, all in the name of supporting the faith and ensuring its dominance, how can it be expected to act with any predictable morality or humanity with those outside its community? (This ought to be kept in mind regarding Iran, Iraq’s activist militias, and Salafi militias.) In contrast, quietists are more wont to enforce faithfulness by preaching, teaching, and personal example than through force. Quietists are often more concerned with one’s own piety rather than that of others, whereas activists are concerned about communal piety. (This may have to do with the fact that, like quietists, activists expect the imminent condescension (literally) and subsequent assistance from the Imam or forces of God; unlike the quietists, they believe this will only come about when the community is faithful to the faith: that is, when the community is ready. This is also why Chabad Lubavitch Orthodox Jews, for example, heavily promote the performance of mitzvot and the return of non-observant, less-observant, and “incorrectly observant” Jews to what they consider to be orthopraxy and perhaps even orthodoxy.)
Activists live in an eternally apocalyptic environment, where the reappearance of the Imam is imminent, if only the faithful were truly faithful. Setting aside even this point about apocalypticism, they are motivated by piety (and desire for control, power, glory, and self-esteem) in their actions to enforce piety. They are less patient than the quietists. Whereas quietists rely heavily on the constant judgment of God (“We should not worry: God will judge and, in His own way and time, punish the evil and reward the good”), activists believe it is the community’s duty to enforce faithfulness (“We are God’s judgment: we are His judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to those who have failed to live up to God’s commands. It is our duty to ensure all obey, and to remove those who insist on disobeying”). Indeed, such actions can be seen as ways to make firm and to expand God’s recognized sovereignty (that is, recognizing God’s sovereignty by obeying Him) among those who are obligated to recognize His sovereignty. Whereas the infidels – those who are not faithful – are in sin already, and will be punished accordingly and are to be treated accordingly – the faithful should not tolerate wanton sinners in their midst as they should know better.
Whatever their reasons and rationalization, the result is a regime of violence and constant struggle, whether actual or potential. Humans are freedom-loving and freedom-seeking beings. They will not live so passively under such oppressive conditions (proof of which is the gradual softening of Khomeini’s oppressive regime, which was seen by Khomeini as essential if it were to survive). Even quietists can be roused to take up arms against oppressive and unjustified oppressors, particularly if they are of their own.
What makes this worrisome is that, for obvious reasons, Iran heavily supports Muqtada as-Sadr and other activists. Who will support the quietists? How will the quietists prevail? The activists can prevail in many conditions by the sheer use or display of force. They can intimidate rivals into joining them, and they can intimidate officials to back down on cracking down on the activist militias. What can the quietists do? By their very nature, they are less assertive or intimidating.
If inter-communal violence (among Sunnis, Kurds, and Shiites) is so scary, can one dare even imagine how disastrous and cataclysmic inter-Shiite violence can be? We hope it does not reach that point, and We believe it may not (unless the activists try to seize influence by killing influential quietist ayatollahs after as-Sistani dies, like what happened immediately after Iraq’s liberation). But the distinction between good and bad Shiites must be recognized, and the former must be supported while the latter must be made inconsequential. If force is needed to disband the activist militias, so be it. As it is, such militias have no role whatsoever in a democratic state or in a pluralist state – which is what Iraq must be if it is to survive its divisions.
What is the sharee’ah? The sharee’ah is a code of rules and laws – much like Jewish halakhah – that certain experts have codified and determined. Sharee’ah is basically implementing fiqh (religious juridprudence), which in turn have been fixed into four schools of jurisprudence (singular: madhhab; plural: madhaahib). Abu Hanifa an-Numan ibn Thabit (699-765 CE) established the Hanafi madhhab, Malik ibn Anas (715-796 CE) established the Maliki madhhab, Muhammad ibn Idrees ash-Shaafi’ee (767-820 CE) established the Shaafi’ee madhhab, and Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal (780-855 CE) established the Hanbali madhhab. All jurists must follow one of the four imams. Independent reasoning is not permitted: all relevant independent reasoning has already been done by the four imams. The sharee’ah is considered to be a divinely-sanctioned code of laws, and as such are unchangeable and relevant for all people in all places and in all times.
Because of the four schools, there are essentially four different versions of the sharee’ah (five, if one includes Twelver Shiites, whose fiqh is sometimes labelled as the Jaa’fari madhhab after their sixth imam, Jaa’far as-Sadiq). This is not much of a problem as the madhaahib tend to be distributed geographically (meaning certain madhaahib dominate in certain regions of the world), and so each region’s experts would belong to the dominant madhhab. (Muslims are forbidden to pick and choose among or between madhaahib: one must choose a madhhab and stick with it for all of one’s needs.) The relevant experts are the judges (singular: qaazi; plural: quzaah) and interpreters (singular: mufti; plural muftoon). Muftis issue fatwahs, which are rulings that act as advice for judges. They are not mandatory. The role of the judge is to apply the law.
However, anyone with half a brain will realize that the laws codified in the eighth and ninth centuries need to be slightly modified for today. This is part of what makes implementing the sharee’ah difficult and impractical.
We will now list other issues will be problematic in implementing the sharee’ah:
1. Which of the four (or five) versions will be used? This is a significant issue in non-Muslim countries, where Muslims from various parts of the world (and, hence, belonging to different madhaahib) may live in the same area.
2. Where will the state get the required judges and muftis? How will the state certify them? How will point 1 above affect the presence and availability of experts?
3. Over whom will the sharee’ah courts have jurisdiction? What if one person of a party wishes to go to a civil court while the other party wishes to go to a sharee’ah court?
4. What about elements that are legal in non-Muslim countries but illegal in the sharee’ah (gambling, alcohol, pork, sexual immorality, pornography, free speech, blasphemy, freedom of religion)? What about elements that are illegal in non-Muslim countries but legal in sharee’ah (oral divorce, male dominance and preference, laws regarding apostates)?
5. What about punishments mandated by the sharee’ah that would be unacceptable by the non-Muslim state (such as the infamous hudood, which mandate what limb is to be amputated for which crime, when a criminal is to be executed, how many lashes is to be given)?
6. Would the sharee’ah include or exclude apostates, non-believers, free-thinkers? Would the sharee’ah be enforced against a person’s wishes? What if others (the person’s family, relatives, friends) want sharee’ah to be implemented but the person doesn’t as he/she no longer recognizes it?
The list can go on and on. Suffice it to say that any call for implementing the sharee’ah is utterly ridiculous and completely impractical. Such calls are simple propaganda and agitation with no goal save to stir up Muslims to more mischief and to intimidate non-Muslims.
According to this article on Yahoo! (which Ace, of the Ace of Spades Headquarters, was so kind enough to mention), Pat Robertson made two points: Islam is not a religion of peace, and Islamic terrorist are satanic. (One may make the point that, theologically, Islamic terrorists are Satanic or Satanists, if one believes that Islam was created by Satan, who is the real object of its adherents’ devotion. But that may be stretching the point a bit too much.) Yet, this is a point that needs to be made: not that Islam or Islamic terrorism are violent or satanic but that Islamic terrorism (and violence in and by Islam in general) are unacceptable and cannot be condoned or justified. There can be no moral, theoretical, intellectual, or political equivocation on this matter: violence in and by Islam, including all forms of Islamic terrorism, is anathema. All who tolerate it – including those who justify it – anathema sit.
However, this is a significant issue which many societies affected by Islamic violence need to clarify. All too often, the issue is muddied by prevarications, denials, excuses, disclaimers, hedging, and qualifications to what should be a clear issue. This is partly due to ignorance (some people are truly unaware of what role and acceptance violence has (and has had) in Islam) and partly due to fear (some people are afraid such a bold statement would invite the wrath of Muslims, not to mention their attacks). It is somewhat ironic that people proclaim Islam is a religion of peace so as to avoid being attacked.
As Pat Robertson considers himself a man of God, that he should make such a statement is appropriate. First of all, all religions are de facto in competition, particularly in this shrinking world where ideas can be disseminated with unparalleled speed and effectiveness and where globalization threatens traditional structures, beliefs, and traditions. For a Christian, then, to say he/she is perfectly accepting of Islam would be to introduce an element of contradiction. If a Christian is accepting of Islam, why is he/she still a Christian? Belonging to a religious organization is by definition an act that states, tacitly or explicitly, that one certain religion (or religious movement) is most correct. Comparatively, other religions are wrong (or wronger). Those who proclaim they perfectly accept another religion are either hypocrites or they have a lack of suitable understanding what adherence and allegiance to a religion or religious organization entails.
Second of all, it is utterly ridiculous to expect any religious person to shut down the morals, mores, standards, and ethics one’s religion teaches. Even people who are not religious are affected, to some degree and in some way, by the religion(s) surrounding them. It is furthermore utterly ridiculous to expect a religion to place blinders around its eyes for the sake of not offending others. Every ethical or moral system judges between good and evil, between right and wrong. It is therefore not only acceptable for a Christian preacher to condemn Islamic terrorism as evil but, indeed, to be expected. We would go so far as to say that those religious leaders who, for whatever reason, cannot bring themselves to condemn Islamic terrorism are betraying a crucial element of their ministry, so to speak, to their people. Just because today’s prevailing system is tolerant, multicultural, and diverse does not mean one ought to refuse to call evil that which is evil.
Why is this important? This is important because this issue – whether Islamic terrorism is evil, and whether this ought to be explicitly proclaimed – affects popular perceptions of Islamic terrorism. Those who knowingly and intentionally fail to condemn Islamic terrorism are contributing to the lamentable misrepresentation of Islamic terrorism and are complicit in their people’s being misguided.
Popular perception, of course, is important because they determine what actions they and their government will or ought to take with regard to the issue at hand. If enough people are not convinced that Islamic terrorism is an evil threat against which it is worthy to fight and endure, then there will be little support for taking those measures which are necessarily to protect Western society from the onslaught of Islamic terrorism.
This issue is important even though Islamic terrorism will not triumph. It is laughable to even consider the triumph of Islamic terrorism. Time and time again, regimes erected on the foundation of Islamic fundamentalism (which gives license to violence in Islam’s name) have demonstrated their utter inability to so structure society and government so as to provide for present and future development and progress. Indeed, such regimes often reveal that such government sets a society back, in terms of development, rather than moving it forward. When Islamic terrorism cannot succeed on its own soil, how can one even consider it could be even remotely successful in the West? This is not to say that Islamic terrorism is not as significant a threat as people are coming aware of now. Indeed, Islamic terrorism’s inability to succeed is the very reason why it is such a threat: desperate people resort to desperate measures.
If al-Qaa’idah were successful in Iraq, would they have attacked targets in Jordan? No. Nor would they try to stir up sectarian strife in Iraq. The less successful they turn out to be, the more dangerous become their evil acts.
What makes this even more difficult is that unlike with Communism, whose nature was abundantly clear and which nature could not be denied, Islamic fundamentalism has successfully integrated itself into Muslim identity: one cannot, for example, condemn Islamic fundamentalism without offending non-fundamentalists, even though Islamic fundamentalism is more of a threat to non-fundamentalist Muslims than even to the West.
In stark contrast to the West, Islamic regimes are fundamentally intolerant. The current situation of many competing sects, groups, and organizations is seen by Islamic fundamentalists as a failure of the Muslim community. They intend to erase all differences and divisions, though not by mitigating tensions but rather by uniting the competing factions – by force if necessary – under their “true” interpretation: in other words, they seek to win the competition. One may get a glimpse of this with Afghanistan under the Taliban: the people tolerated the Taliban (as much as they did) because it brought stability, and the Taliban brought stability by basically outlawing all opposition. Divisions, sectarianism, factionalism, schism, etc., were gone. But at what price? The Taliban regime was brutal and inhuman.
We find it quite amusing – in its patheticness, to be frank – how many elements of the tolerant West has been kowtowing to the intolerant Muslims, as if both can be placed at the same level. If people knew just how disparate tolerance in the West was from tolerance under Muslims, they would fight tooth and nail against the enemy. As amusing as it may be to Us, We recognize at the same time that this situation is unacceptable. To Muslims, it suggests that they are right, tha intolerance has trumped tolerance, that the West is wrong and is recognizing it. In their eyes, the West has already lost. But the reality is more subtle: while elements of the West are kowtowing to intolerant Islam, the West as a whole is not. No, deep down the West is just as proud of itself. The Muslim world will find that this kowtowing is marginal and only words at best. Fundamentally, the West refuses and rejects Muslims’ claim of superiority.
The West has overcome Communism, it can and will overcome triumphalist Islam. It will not be easy, but seeing the situation clearly will make the fight clearer in perspective, rather than confused and muddied if one knows not the realities of this war. One must never forget that the enemy – radical, militant, fundamentalist, triumphalist, violent, terroristic (and/or whatever adjective one wishes to use) Islam – is evil.
Monty, a blogger, whom We have encountered at the Ace of Spades Headquarters, is wont to disclaim that the knowledge he has is from reading, and therefore one ought to take his claims with a grain of salt. His exact words, in one instance, are:
DISCLAIMER: I am not a soldier or a diplomat (or a doctor, lawyer, or Indian Chief). I’ve read a bit and consider my opinion more informed than most, but that’s all it is: my opinion. I don’t have access to any classified materials or intelligence assets, so in a sense I’m flying blind here and may be completely misreading the situation. Proceed with caution and a healthy dose of skepticism.
We find this be curious.
What makes one authoritative in and an expert of a subject is one’s knowledge. For certain subjects, this knowledge may be gained indirectly (through reading books, assimilating the observations of others, researching trends, scholarship, research) or directly (experiencing fundamental aspects of the subject first-hand) or both. Monty would rely primarily on the former, while others, such as Bassam Tibi and Oriana Fallaci and Abdelwahab Meddeb, would rely on the latter. Some, such as Bernard Lewis, rely on both.
It is understandable for people to place greater faith in those who have gained their knowledge directly – in which category Monty, We would assume, would fall into – but We would respectfully disagree with such a perspective. There are ample examples of those who, despite gaining their knowledge directly, are still oblivious to key components and trends of the subject at hand. We would go further and say that those who derive their knowledge directly are at a greater risk of being oblivious. This is because of the simple fact that in order to gain one’s knowledge directly, one has to be involved, and this involvement necessarily means that one’s perspective is biased to some degree or another. The three people mentioned above are good examples of this. Despite being acutely aware of threatening aspects within Islam, both Messrs. Tibi and Meddeb retain key fallacies and biases (with Mr. Tibi that a peaceful reformed Islam can exist, with Mr. Meddeb that the West is partly to blame for Islam’s violent nature and its rising radical faction). This causes one to suspect their work: what else are they not seeing? what do they claim that may, in reality, not exist? With Ms. Fallaci, her personal involvement caused her observations to be expressed – pillowed, even – in a highly emotionally-charged rhetoric.
Our favorite author, so far, in this subject is David Cook. In one sense, one may say that he combines both sources of knowledge, but his major focus seems to be indirect knowledge. And this, in Our opinion, helps establish him as an expert. Why? He is not personally involved in the subject at hand, even though he has studied primary, secondary, and tertiary texts with relation to Islam. If he does gain knowledge directly, it is through what the people under observation (militant Islamists in one book, Muslim apocalyptists in another) are saying to and among each other. He reads their words in the original language, he analyzes them, he compares them to historical trends, he integrates them into the framework of Islam as it has been and as its fundamental authorities say it should be. This man is brilliant, and precisely so because he is an outside observer and, as such, can see what insiders may (and often do) miss. His research, so far that We have read, is impeccable.
From this, We have formulated in Our mind that to become an expert, one must remain, necessarily, an outsider while at the same time delving into the mind and words of those whom one is studying. We utterly reject the proposition that only an insider can understand the subject; indeed, We believe the opposite to be true: an insider cannot properly understand or comprehend the reality of the subject because of one’s insider-ness. One’s mind is clouded by bias or by being trained to dismiss or ignore certain aspects of the subject. In short, cognitive dissonance gets in the way.
Indeed, the useful and productive knowledge We have gained about Islam has been primarily after Our separation from Islam. Only then were We able to see trends and issues that before could not be seen. Only then were We able to critically read and integrate texts on Islam, whether by Muslims or non-Muslims, whether for devotional or academic purposes. We know of many Muslims who are supposedly well-versed in Islam yet who are oblivious to what is obvious to those outside.
We mean no spite, but it also for this reason that we reject the label of “expert” for Esposito. He is not an outsider, a detached observer but rather quite involved and biased, for his own reasons and purposes. Being detached, which David Cook accomplishes and which Bernard Lewis, to a degree, also accomplishes, is difficult but important, for otherwise crucial information would be suppressed and important trends would be ignored, if not hidden.
In this post, Jeff Goldstein of protein wisdom made a comment that struck Us:
As I’ve been arguing, the way to push back against Islamic totalitarianism is to re-embrace our own western liberal traditions—a philosophy of individualism and universal rights that has been weakened by a pernicious strain of relativism that grows out of a misuse of the signifying chain (whether cynically or out of a genuine confusion over the nature of signification).
We won’t go into the issue of signification and whatnot – We will leave that to the experts – but We will focus on the beginning part of this paragraph, where Mr. Goldstein advocates the reembracing “our own western liberal traditions—a philosophy of individualism and universal rights.”
The West may print book and pamphlet one after the other and flood the entire non-Western world with literature to convince peoples, from all walks of life, of the superiority and benevolence of Western values; but if the people and armed forces of the West are unsure, demoralized, and subject to the mandatory kowtowing to other cultures and their values, whatever gains the West may make through its propaganda will be for nothing. It may seem to some to be preaching to the choir, but in this case the choir consists of infidels and must be converted.
As a matter of tactics and strategy, this is of utmost importance. The Soviet Union was able to recruit agents using money and sex as lure. It used ideology just as effectively. Is it not a shame that the victorious party of the Cold War is mired in such self-doubt and self-hate?
Of course, from Our perspective, this is also a matter of reality and facts: it is reality that Western values are superior to those of other cultures. Many cultures are very fond of citing their successes as evidence of their superiority. Using the same technique, one can extrapolate without any doubt or equivocation that Western values lead to progress, success, social harmony, greater happiness, development, and greater prospects for the future. One needs to simply compare the West and the Rest (of the world).
Another fact of reality is that other cultures go to great lengths to pull down Western values and vaunt their own. They are insecure. (Some who are quite secure in their superiority are deranged and illogical.) They cannot compare with the West on any basis whatsoever. So, they denigrate the West’s progress, claiming that in moving forward the West is actually moving backward, and that it is a failure as a civilization. They point to declining spirituality, supposed hypocrisy and inconsistencies, and violations of other cultures as evidence of this. They accuse the West of being arrogant in their surety of superiority, while at the same time committing the same crime with regard to Western culture. Oftentimes, they will play the victim, especially by blaming their problems, challenges, difficulties, negative tendencies, and failures on the West. As omnipotent as the West is said to be, they will take credit for any success on their part. The failures are because of the West, the successes are because of themselves (evidently inspite of the West). Of course, one cannot expect logic, consistency, or reason in their rambling dialogue.
Let Us now turn to the pressing issue. How ought this to be used against anti-Western Muslims?
First, one must realize that the Muslim world is paranoid and protective. Muslims are trained – unconsciously, of course – to detect arguments that go against Islam and to disregard them. Anything against Islam is not up for discussion whatsoever (while everything against the West or any other non-Muslim culture is more than welcome to be discussed), which defeats the entire point of seeking civilized debate.
Second, one must realize that “civilized debate” is quite rare with these people. Or, rather, civilized and reasoned debate is rare. Even if one is civilized, one may be prone to throw out irrelevant “facts,” inaccurate “facts,” arguments based on emotion, arguments based on misconceptions, arguments based on misrepresentation (deliberate or unwitting), character assassination, double standards, and so on.
As such, debate – in the case of Our currect discussion, discussing the faults and benefits of Western values and history compared to Islamic values and history – would be useless. As it is, the only debates circulated amongst Muslims, that We have encountered at least, are those where Muslims win (or at least do not lose). What good is a debate that no one knows about? So, debates or other such comparative discussions are right out.
Out we to convince the otherwise? We believe it is important to educate them on what they evidently do not know or know very badly. The West must correct their perception of the West and what it stands for. Many Muslims will be surprised to find out that The United States contain many conservative people whose values, to some degree and in some issues, mirror theirs. Such a fact goes against the dominant image of the West as a nest of promiscuous drug-addled atheists whose goals are to accumulate wealth and to destroy Islam. So, education is very important. In this case, education ought to go one way: the West ought not to be very much interested in what they have to say, as they say what they would say often enough as it is. It is all that one hears. The West ought to speak and write to them, planting the seeds of truth, and then leave for the plant to grow (and flourish), grow (and die), or not grow at all. There is only so much one can do.
Another important act to do would be to rediscover, reemphasize, and reembrace Western values. This can be done in many ways. We do not suggest imposing them on those who live in the West. However, politicians, public leaders, and other people who are focal points of the people’s attention should be encouraged as much as possible to advocate Western values in general. (The last thing The United States need is for incompetant actors and singers (incompetant when it comes to governing and other such serious matters) to begin promoting Western values as a tool to bring down the West.) Schools and other institutions of learning should be encouraged to teach Western values and their impact on history, even going so far as explaining how Western values helped the West reach the point it is at now and how they will help the West develop and advance in the future. Pride in Western values and culture should be cultivated at all levels of society. Those who are outcasts (by perception or fact) should not be ignored.
(As an aside: instrumental to this process would be to break the hold any movement may have over uniformity and monolithicity amongst the people. People should be free to express their opinions, per se, without fear of communal shunning. This would enable such doubly-oppressed peoples such as conservative homosexuals, black Republicans, teetotaler college students, and others to express their opinions without fear of their fascist community’s total excommunication. We fear this is quite rampant in certain circles in The United States, which tendency We unequivocally abhor and condemn.)
Another tactic would be forcefully – that is, with a spine, not with a gun – establish ground rules for discussion with other cultures. If they refuse to accept these rules, the West should reject without hesitation to engage in two-way discussion with them. For too long the West has had to listen to litanies of grievances against it while unable to support themselves in the court of world opinion. As far as We are concerned, no backward, primitive, uncivilized, violent, and oppressive culture, people, or state (and there are many of them) has any right whatsoever to criticize the West if it will not accept due criticism against it. That other cultures continue to demand this is utterly ridiculous, and We condemn any such desire on their part.
And, for the record, We unequivocally condemn, and dismiss as utterly ridiculous, any demands of entitlement due to oppression or other complaints of exploitation by the West. The West worked very hard to get to where it is now, and no exceptions should be made for lazy and idiotic peoples. No one is entitled to anything, for the most part. “To the victor go the spoils (and the glory)” has been a law of humanity since its birth, and We see no reason for this to change now, especially when tinpot tyrants depend on the same law themselves.
The West must become sure and confident, and must reassert itself. The West should bow to no one. The West should not beat its breast on account of any culture, civilization, or people. Sins were made, sins were repented of, and the sins then are to exist no more. Though the West’s sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. When other peoples can get away with unrepentant sinning as they speak, the West should be bound by no obligation to relive or rerepent or reatone for its sins.
What this reembracing of and reemphasis on Western values will hopefully do is cause a flowering in appreciation and even study of Western values. When this banner of hope and victory is unfurled for all to see, then people, even people of other cultures, will come and join the forces around that ensign. People of various colors, faiths, ethnic origins, languages, and food spiciness will unite – with their various differences – under one civilization that has nurtured and developed hopes, dreams, and progress. (And the fact that this has been happening for a long time now must not go unmentioned.) Unlike many other cultures, Western culture and civilization are not restricted to one race or ethnicity or heritage. It embraces and incorporates all. It is universal. Truly universal. We are proof enough of that.
Technically and traditionally, Islam has classified people into three categories. (Islam loves categorizing things.) People are Muslims (muslimoon), People of the Book (ahl al-kitaab), and infidels (kuffaar).
It is clear what “Muslim / muslimoon” and “infidels / kuffaar” mean; one may wonder what this “People of the Book / ahl al-kitaab” means. A more accurate description would be “People of A Book” (“ahl kitaab”) – meaning people who have had a book given to them by God through a prophet. The Qur’an speaks about Moses (moosaa) receiving the Torah (tawraah), David (daaood) receiving the Psalms (zuboor), and Jesus (eesaa) receiving the Gospel (injeel). Since Jews and Christians, basically, are the only ones who are said to have received a book from God, they are classified as People of the Book. They are accorded different treatment compared to infidels.
This is most apparent when Muslims establish themselves over non-Muslim peoples. According to Islam, if the peoples are People of the Book, the Muslims must give them three choices: become Muslims, become second-class citizens while retaining their religion, or being killed. Infidels – those who are neither Muslim nor People of the Book – have only two options: convert or be killed. Obviously, Muslims have not been entirely faithful to this: Muslims have ruled over infidels without slaughtering them all.
What is also interesting is that Muhammad increased the borders of admission for being part of ahl al-kitaab. When confronted with Zoroastrians, Muslims asked Muhammad whether they were ahl al-kitaab or kuffaar. He said they were ahl al-kitaab, even though the Qur’an says nothing whatsoever about Zoroastrians.
However, these days a new controversy, it seems, has erupted. People are asking anew: “Are Jews and Christians classified as ‘People of the Book’?” Interesting, some are coming forth with a different answer than Islamic tradition would have us suppose would exist by default. Many Muslims, particularly those associated with the Salafi movement, are claiming that Jews and Christians today are infidels. They use two arguments to make their claim.
1. The Qur’an does speak about Jews and Christians. However, since then Jews and Christians have either died out (and infidel imposters are claiming the title of “Jew” and “Christian”) or have so corrupted God’s revelation that the religion they now practice and believe in can no longer be rightfully called “Judaism” or “Christianity,” or at least cannot be considered as such by Muslims. This would be the logical result of what the Qur’an itself accused Jews and Christians of doing: killing the prophets and corrupting God’s message. As far as Christianity is concerned, some Muslims point to Paul and accuse him of deliberately polluting and perverting Christianity.
2. Regardless whether Jews and Christians today can be recognized as such by Muslims, the Jews and Christians of today are commiting shirk (denying God’s unity) and kufr (disbelief [in what God has revealed]) and by doing so have become infidels, for that is the definition of an infidel. That is, anyone who commits shirk or kufr (as Islam understands them and has defined them) is an infidel. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck…
For these Muslims, the world can be divided into Muslim or infidel, daar al-islaam (the abode of Islam) or daar al-Harb (the abode of war), good or evil, light or darkness. Many even go so far as to say that whoever doubts this – that Jews and Christians are infidels – or rejects it has commited kufr and becomes a kaafir.
This reclassification has serious consequences. Infidels are enemies of Islam and must be defeated. They cannot be helped or befriended. Every Muslim is obligated to hate them all. Considering that the ruling powers are essentially infidels, the animosity some Muslims feel for the West can be put into perspective.
This view has not become mainstream within Islam, yet. It might become the mainstream view if the Salafis continue to successfully broadcast their interpretations and perspectives to more impressionable (and uneducated) Muslims. Thus, we must be aware of this.