If Not Now, When?

September 27, 2008

Some people say that Sharia is not an important issue for them, because Muslims are such a small minority (less than 1 percent in the US) that they have no political power anyway. Why get all worked up about an issue that isn’t much of an issue in the foreseeable future?

For those who think this way, I have two questions:

First, at what percentage do you think the Muslim population should be before Sharia becomes an issue that’s worth paying attention to? 5? 10? 25? 40? Pick one or name your own.

Second, what’s one example of a country in the world today that has the percentage Muslim population you’ve named (or higher), which includes a substantial Islamic orthodoxy, in which the Sharia issue shows signs of being resolved in favor of individual rights and freedoms? Here are some indications the country you choose will likely reach a favorable resolution:

  • There is a free and open discussion on the subject of Sharia involving all parties: Islamist Muslims, secular Muslims, non-Muslims, and ex-Muslims.
  • There is an absence of violent intimidation, and an absence of calls for censorship of the discussion of any aspect of Sharia.
  • The Islamist Muslims show signs of being swayed by the arguments against Sharia made by secular Muslims, non-Muslims, and ex-Muslims.
  • There is no sign of existing accommodations for Sharia that have already been implemented even though the Islamists are in the minority.

I’d love to see answers to those two questions by any Sharia procrastinators. Please ask your friends and family and leave a comment.

I don’t know of any country in the world with a substantial Muslim minority that fits the description above. Even in the US, with its tiny Muslim population, we have publishing decisions effected by violent intimidation, calls for censorship, exclusion of secular Muslim voices, fearful ex-Muslims, and accommodations for Sharia. The percentage of Muslims in this country, while small, shows no sign of becoming smaller, so the easiest time to deal with the issue of Sharia is right now. If we don’t deal with it now, how would waiting make it any easier?


Revolutionary Revision of the Hadith in Turkey?

February 28, 2008

[Update: Reports of Turkey’s revision plans may have been exaggerated.]

According to the BBC, Turkey’s “Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith….” The Hadith are oral traditions about Mohammed and his cohorts, certain collections of which are generally regarded as sacred by Muslims. Here are a few noteworthy items:

  • The Turks apparently want the Hadith to support their efforts at creating a modern, secular democracy.
  • They are claiming that in their reform, they are actually returning to an original Islam (a claim which may be subject to debate).
  • They are rejecting the doctrine of abrogation (later, violent verses of the Quran replacing the earlier, peaceful verses).
  • They want to end Islamic justification for honor killings and female genital mutilation.
  • It is theoretically possible their efforts could result in a radically reformed version of Sharia, or even an official doctrine of non-Sharia. We’ll see.
  • This is the only instance I’m aware of in which Muslims with this degree of official authority have admitted problems within Islam to this extent. This in itself is a welcome step in the right direction.

And here are some issues that are not discussed in this article:

  • Time will tell how the rest of the Muslim world will respond to this reform. Let’s not expect a sudden utopia.
  • Their reform may turn out to be a worthwhile one, we don’t know yet. However, even if it does, it is quite possible that it will be used by Islamists as taqiyya. The Islamists can say, “See! Sharia’s not so bad,” to sell the West on Sharia, and then do “bait and switch” on us. We need to stay vigilant with those pesky Islamists (or, more accurately, we need to become vigilant in the first place.)
  • From this article, it is difficult to see how their approach can neutralize the many problems in the Quran, such as the calls for Jihad, Jizya tax (extra tax on non-Muslims), and massive Jew hatred.

It is good to see a sign of progress, even if it’s too soon to break out the champagne.


Memo to Muslims: If You Enjoy Freedom, Take a Stand Against Sharia

February 28, 2008

Don’t be a victim of Sharia. If you are a Muslim in the West who appreciates the individual rights and freedoms you have enjoyed under a secular government, this memo is for you.

As you may be aware, many Muslims are Islamists, pushing for Sharia to be implemented in the West. If they succeed, you will be among their first victims.

Here’s how Sharia victimizes Muslims

  • All Muslims lose freedom of expression. In a Muslim country, Muslims are not free to criticize Islamic doctrines such as Sharia. There are individual cases of people who get by with it, but there are also many who are punished. The path of history is littered with the corpses of executed Muslim reformers, and to this day, certain sects deemed heretical are heavily persecuted.
  • All Muslims lose freedom of conscience. In the West, we take for granted the fact that people can choose to be a member of any religion or non-religion. This is of great value to people of any faith; first, because they can worship as they choose free of persecution; and second, because their faith has more meaning since they personally choose it, rather than faith being forced on them. Under Sharia, non-Muslims (at least, those of the Book) retain the right to follow their conscience as low-class dhimmis, but Muslims have no right to follow their conscience. They must be Muslims, without considering other faiths and making an actual choice in the matter.
  • Muslim women lose basic rights. Under Sharia, Muslim women are treated as minors their whole lives, and worse. They are always under the protection of their fathers, brothers, husbands and/or sons. They may be married off at a very young age, even before puberty, with no say. Their testimony counts as half that of a Muslim man’s in court. Their inheritance is half that of a Muslim man’s. They can only prove rape with four pious male witnesses; otherwise, to allege rape could get them punished for illicit sex, which is the woman’s fault. There’s no such thing as rape in the context of marriage. Wife-beating is clearly sanctioned in the Koran. A man can divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you”, in which case he has custody rights; a woman cannot divorce her husband. Although it is legal, at least in some circumstances, for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, the reverse is not legal. Abortion is most likely illegal. Then there’s the headscarf (burqa, hijab, et al), which may seem like the least of their worries, but under Sharia it can be a symbol of Islamic domination of women.
  • Gay Muslims lose basic rights. In the West, reasonable people may disagree on what rights specifically gays should have; gays themselves disagree over this question. However, we can all come together in agreement that they should not be killed. This is not true under Sharia.

In addition to the four ways Muslims are victimized by Sharia I’ve listed above, I believe there’s also another way Muslims are harmed by Sharia. This is a subjective opinion, for which there is no proof, nor can there be. I believe that spiritually, Muslims are harmed if they support a system that harms others. So, all the Sharia provisions that discriminate against non-Muslims are spiritually harmful to Muslims who support Sharia. As I said, this is an opinion for which I have no proof, nor will I make any effort to defend it; it’s up to the reader to agree or disagree as a matter of conscience.

If you don’t want Sharia, take a stand against it!

Organize against Sharia. The Islamists are very well organized and well funded. They like to give the impression that they represent all Muslims, including you. Therefore, the more Muslims there are in a country, the more power Islamist groups claim. The very fact that you are a Muslim gives Islamist groups more power, even if you disagree with everything they say, unless you organize against them.

A good start would be to join an anti-Sharia, pro-freedom organization such as American Islamic Forum for Democracy. The more members they have, the more power they have.

Take a stand against every imposition of Sharia, from hate speech laws banning criticism of Islam to laws requiring special accommodation for Muslim sensibilities. The forces pushing for Sharia want the whole ball of Sharia wax, and will not stop with a few measures. In the beginning stages, Islamists push forward laws which put Islam on a level higher than other religions, to create a consciousness of Islamic superiority; however, don’t be lulled into complacency by measures that seem to benefit Muslims. Once Islam is established as superior and Sharia as a source of law, from there the Islamists are in a position to implement the rest of Sharia, a bit at a time.

Speak out anonymously on the internet. You are in a unique position to damage the Islamists’ talking points by pointing out the fact that Sharia victimizes Muslims, too, not just non-Muslims. If Muslims do not speak out against Sharia, some non-Muslims begin to say, “Well, if they really want Sharia, we could just give them Sharia.” (I suggest doing a little research into internet privacy to protect yourself before launching in.)

One thing you may already be aware of: taking steps to oppose Sharia is not necessarily good for your health. Many who do so receive occasional or constant death threats. However, giving in to fear tactics would not make the problem go away–it would only get worse. It’s up to everyone who values freedom, regardless of our religions, to find ways of opposing Sharia that have risk levels we can live with.


Freedom House Data Consistent with Worldwide Islamist Movement

February 25, 2008

Freedom House puts out a Freedom in the World annual report, scoring each of 193 countries for political rights and for civil liberties. Based on these scores, they categorize each country as “Free”, “Partly Free”, or “Not Free”. Their report is in for 2008, and the difference between Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries is stark.

Freedom House does not separate the countries into categories by their predominant religion, so I’ve done that. Here are the countries as I’ve classified them (I would be grateful for a heads-up in the event of any errors):

50 Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brunei, Burkina Faso, Chad, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

143 non-Muslim countries: Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Kinshasa), Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kiribati, Laos, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Korea, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Comparison: Of the Muslim countries, 25 of 50 (50%) were “Not Free”. 22 (44%) were “Partly Free”, and only 3 (6%) were “Free”. Looking at the extremes, 5 (10%) received the worst score, and none (0%) received the best score. Contrast that with the non-Muslim countries, of which 18 of 143 (13%) were “Not Free”, 38 (27%) were “Partly Free”, and 87 (61%) were “Free”. (That’s 101% due to rounding.)As for the extremes, only 3 (2%) received the worst score while fully 48 (34%) received the very best possible score. Perhaps a table format shows it best:

Categories

Religion “Not Free” NF % ”Partly Free” PF % ”Free” F %
Muslim 25 50% 22 44% 3 6%
Non-Muslim 18 13% 38 27% 87 61%

Extremes

Religion Worst Score Worst Score Percent Best Score Best Score Percent
Muslim 5 10% 0 0%
Non-Muslim 3 2% 48 34%

Number of Countries for Each Score

14 is the worst possible score, 2 is the best. Note that no Muslim countries scored 2, 3, or 4, which means that 78 out of 143 non-Muslim countries, which is 55% of the total number, are freer than any Muslim country.

Religion 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
Muslim 5 4 4 12 4 6 7 2 3 3 0 0 0
Non-Muslim 3 5 3 7 6 6 5 10 11 9 16 14 48

Trends: From 2007 to 2008, 8 Muslim countries became less free, and 3 became more free, for a net change of 5 countries out of 50 (10%) moving less free. In comparison, 6 non-Muslim countries became less free, and 3 became more free, for a net change of 3 countries out of 143 (2%) becoming less free. The trend toward less freedom in Muslim countries is consistent with claims that the Muslim world is, in general, suffering the effects of a worldwide Islamic movement.

It is also worth mentioning that the three countries categorized as “Free” (Indonesia, Mali, and Senegal) are borderline. In Freedom House’s scoring system, the best possible score is 2, and these three countries scored a 5. 2-5 is “Free”, 6-10 is “Partly Free”, and 11-14 is “Not Free”. You can find many examples of religious intolerance in Indonesia. Less information is available about Mali and Senegal in West Africa, in part because they are quite small, with a population of about 12 million each. However, the little information I have found indicates they are relatively tolerant and quite unorthodox, with little Islamist activity at this time.


Can We Believe What Muslims Say About Sharia and Jihad?

February 19, 2008

The answer is: sometimes. The challenge is that we know deception is a part of the ideologies of Sharia and Jihad, and an integral part of Islamists’ game plan in dealing with non-Muslims.

Examples of Islamists using Deception (”Taqiyya”)

A Sunday Times reporter in Britain infiltrated the Savior Sect, a group which encourages hatred and violence. According to the Times Online article, the sect’s leader, Omar Bakri Mohammed, condemned the killing of all innocent civilians when giving public interviews. “Later when he addressed his own followers he explained that he had in fact been referring only to Muslims as only they were innocent: ‘Yes I condemn killing any innocent people, but not any kuffar.’” “Kuffar” is the plural form of “kafir”, a derogatory term for unbeliever, which is also used in the Quran.

Notice that Bakri was using a deceptive meaning of “innocent” rather than outright lying. Islamists sometimes intentionally use words like “innocent”, “peace”, and “terrorist” with a very different meaning from that of their listeners.

According to the Israeli National News, senior Hamas leaders have said, in effect, “We’re allowed to lie.” They explained, “A Muslim is permitted to say things that oppose his beliefs in order to prevent damages or to be saved from death.” According to INN, “Senior Hamas terrorists in Samaria, who were recently released from jail, publicly expressed disapproval with the Hamas takeover of Gaza and said they supported the PA forces. [Other senior Hamas leaders] explained that the Samarian terrorists’ announcement was not a sign of dissent within Hamas ranks, but rather a permitted use of ‘taqiyya’ to deceive Abbas and avoid prison sentences.”

In his article, The Development of a Jihadi’s Mind, former Jihadist turned reformer Tawfiq Hamid gives several examples of taqiyya practiced and encouraged by Jamaah Islamiyah, an Islamic organization which is now considered to be a terrorist organization:

“Salafi Islamic texts demonstrate Mohammed’s uncompromising nature…. They encourage devout Muslims to emulate the Prophet’s deeds and to accept and defend his actions in even the harshest passages. When confronted by outsiders, however, these same Muslims insist that such stories are misinterpreted because they are taken out of context—though they rarely, if ever, provide the context. This self-protective denial effectively paralyzes further criticism by the West. Meanwhile, these texts are taught and understood in a very literal way by both the young members of Jamaah and many other Muslims.”

“Among the more appalling notions [Salafi ideology] supports are the enslavement and rape of female war prisoners and the beating of women to discipline them. It permits polygamy and pedophilia. It refers to Jews as “pigs and monkeys” and exhorts believers to kill them before the end of days….Homosexuals are to be killed as well….

“These doctrines are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue: they are central to the faith and ethics of millions of Muslims, and are currently being taught as part of the standard curriculum in many Islamic educational systems in the Middle East as well in the West. Moreover, there is no single approved Islamic textbook that contradicts or provides an alternative to the passages I have cited.”

“Muslims who live in the West—who insist to outsiders that Islam is a “religion of peace” and who enjoy freedom of expression, which they demand from their Western hosts—have threatened me with murder and arson.”

So, it is evident that many Islamists believe it furthers their aims to deceive non-Muslims by pretending Islam is peaceful when they really don’t believe it is. At the same time, there may also be some who claim Islam is peaceful and really believe it. Then there may also be some who think if they pretend Islam is peaceful, that will make it come true. However, even if they are sincere or well-intentioned, those who deny Islam’s violent and oppressive doctrines are doing the Islamists’ work for them by fooling the gullible West who wants to think well of Islam, despite the evidence. We need to understand Islam as it is, not as we wish it were. Muslims who wish Islam were peaceful need to reform it by addressing its problematic aspects. Living in a make-believe world won’t help.

What Is the Islamic Basis for Taqiyya?

Sunnis (the majority sect) will often say taqiyya is a Shia doctrine, ignoring the support for deception in Sunni hadith and law. As Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch notes, taqiyya is even practiced on the subject of taqiyya. The examples given above (Savior Sect, Hamas, and Jamaah Islamiyah) are, to the best of my knowledge, all Sunni.

Here are three examples from the Quran which excuse dishonesty:

Quran 3:28: “Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.” This means Muslims can only be friends with unbelievers as a means to defend against them, which is not sincere friendship. Muslim commentator Ibn Kathir explains: “[When believers fear for their safety from disbelievers], such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly.”

Quran 16:106: “Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith – but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Penalty.” So, it’s fine to deny belief under compulsion.

Quran 2:225: “Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts; and He is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing.” So it does not bother Allah if Muslims make oaths thoughtlessly. Along these lines, in a Hadith recorded by Bukhari, Mohammed says, “…if ever I take an oath to do something, and later on I find that it is more beneficial to do something different, I will do the thing which is better, and give expiation for my oath”. I have found nearly identical statements in 11 additional Bukhari Hadith, as well.

According to several Hadith recorded by Bukhari, Mohammed said “War is deceit”.

Also from Bukhari, Muhammed gave permission for his follower to tell a lie in order to assassinate a critic.

In three Muslim Hadith, Mohammed gives three exceptions to the rule of telling the truth: in battle, to bring about reconcilliation in general, and to bring about reconcilliation between husband and wife.

Taqiyya also has some support from Islamic Law. In Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law, (pgs. 744-748) we find a paragraph explaining that lying is prohibited, followed by four pages on “Permissible Lying”, Exaggeration”, and “Giving a Misleading Impression”. Here are some quotes: “…Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali…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 by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible, and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory….But it is religiously more precautionary…to employ words that give a misleading impression….[I]f a ruler asks one about a wicked act one has committed that is solely between oneself and Allah Most High… one is entitled to disclaim it….’” “Scholars say that there is no harm…in giving a misleading impression if required by an interest countenanced by Sacred Law that is more important than not misleading the person being addressed, or if there is a pressing need which could not otherwise be fulfilled except through lying.”

So, according to this source, it’s obligatory for Muslims to lie in order to accomplish an obligatory goal that could not be accomplished truthfully. And what are some obligatory goals? According to Reliance (pg. 600), “Jihad is a communal obligation…” (emphasis added). In addition, we know that the goal of Jihad is to impose worldwide Sharia, so it follows that Sharia is also an abligatory goal. Since both Jihad and Sharia are considered obligatory, it follows that lying about them to non-Muslims would be obligatory if they could not be accomplished truthfully, according to the rules spelled out in Reliance.

This does not mean that all Muslims are liars. However, it does mean that Muslims who take Islamic Law seriously could very well believe that lying to non-Muslims about Jihad and Sharia is justified. This is why it’s important to check multiple sources, including not just supporters but also critics of Islam, and see who has the evidence to back up their position.


Is It Responsible to Anger the Muslim World?

February 14, 2008

Geert Wilder, leader of the Freedom Party in Holland, is planning on releasing a film called “Fitna” which is expected to be met with great outrage from the Muslim world. Given our experience with recent outrages, it is even likely that innocent people may die. So, the question is, is it responsible to release a film which many people believe will set off a violent reaction from Muslims?

Let’s look back in history for a moment. It could be argued that abolitionists’ criticism of slavery in the US was a major factor leading to the Civil War. Does this mean the abolishionists should not have spoken out against slavery?

Without having the opportunity to see the film as yet, my opinion is that so long as the film states facts and/or opinions that are grounded in facts or logic, and the film does not call for violence against innocent people, then it is responsible to release it, regardless of the consequences. In fact, if the Muslim world responds violently to honest criticism, this is evidence that Islam deserves criticism and should be criticized even more. We should then be seriously analyzing the question, “What causes these people to act in such an infantile manner?”

What would really be irresponsible would be for us to allow fear of violence to condition us to submit to fascist Islamic doctrines rather than speak out against them.

If we don’t give the Muslim world enough provocations to outrage them, they will fabricate their own.

[Note: I read this idea in an opinion piece recently, but was unable to find the posting to give credit for the idea. If anyone supplies the “missing link”, I will add it.] The power brokers in the Muslim world evidently want to provoke outrage amongst their people, because otherwise why would they fabricate outrages that did not otherwise exist? Here are three concrete examples in which this actually has or does occur: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Al Dura film, and the Mohammed cartoon controversy.

Protocols of the Elders of Zion: This is a thoroughly-exposed forgery of an alleged plot by Jews to take over the world. Originating in Russia in the late 19th century, most of it is plagiarized from an obscure French satire. However, it has been translated into Arabic and is widely disseminated throughout the Middle East today, used to fan the flames of Jew hatred.

Al Dura film: This film supposedly shows a Palestinian boy killed by Israelis, but there is good reason to believe that not only this film, but a great deal of Middle Eastern journalism, is fake. This phony event has been the rallying cry for the “al-Aqsa intifada”. However, it appears this bloody intifada was not a spontaneous uprising, but an orchestrated affair.

Mohammed cartoon controversy: Nearly everyone knows about this controversy, in which more than a hundred were killed in murderous Muslim riots following the printing of cartoons of Mohammed in a small Dutch paper. However, many are unaware that the Middle Eastern press who reprinted these cartoons about six months after the fact included an additional three cartoons, which were much more inflammatory than the ones actually published in Denmark. It appears that the Muslim mobs were deliberately enraged by people who didn’t think the real cartoons would be enough to do the job.

We should be asking ourselves, “What motivates the Muslim elite to intentionally and deceptively provoke their people?” Hint: It could have something to do with an Islamist agenda.

Is there any benefit to the West in provoking the Muslim world?

If the source of the provocation is honest criticism of Islam or Islamic doctrines, then yes, there is a benefit. In fact, this is the difference between the provocations that are fabricated by the Muslim power brokers and the ones that are generated by honest criticism by Westerners: the fabricated provocations have zero potential of benefiting the West. Honest criticism has the potential to defeat Islamo-Fascism, with much less violence than defeating it militarily. Here’s how:

  • It has the potential of influencing more Muslims to seek ways to reform their faith, or reform more effectively, or leave Islam altogether. This reduces the support within the Muslim world for the doctrines of Jihad and Sharia.
  • It has the potential of reducing conversions of non-Muslims to Islam. This is a huge benefit, as Western converts are targeted by terrorist recruiters.
  • It has the potential of increasing support for policies necessary to defeat Islamo-Fascism, such as: a Constitutional amendment explicitly stating that Sharia is not a valid source of law in the country; halting or drastically reducing immigration from Muslim countries; deporting Muslims who advocate Jihad or Sharia; allowing mosques and Islamic centers to be monitored; reversing the infiltration of Islamists into sensitive positions; and having a no-nonsense policy to prevent the spread of Islamism in prisons.

The more the “battlefield” can be shifted to the realm of ideas rather than the realm of military, the less violence there will be in the long run. It would be nice to have zero violence, but we do not have that choice available to us. A murderous rampage in the Muslim world may claim 100 lives; a change in policy to curb Jihad in the West may save 100,000 lives or more in the long run. No one really knows what the numbers would be one way or the other; we don’t get to do things twice to see how they play out. However, it appears certain that the casualties are less if we meet the Islamists and the apologists point for point where they are weakest: their ideology.

Is it important to avoid gratuitous insults?

A “gratuitous insult” is a statement that is more inflammatory than necessary to convey the truth or make a point. It is intentional rudeness.

I believe that, yes, it is important to avoid gratuitous insults. That is why I avoid them on this site. However, I do not shy away from telling the truth as I see it. For example, I have alluded to the fact that the Hadith and Sira include several accounts of Mohammed marrying a child (consummating the marriage at the age of 9 or 10). However, I have not labeled Mohammed a “pedophile”. This may seem like a fine line, but it’s the line I draw. I feel that the term “pedophile” is gratuitously insulting, while a dispassionate statement of facts is necessary for people to understand an uncomfortable truth that is relevant to a discussion of Islam. This is a fact that is embarrassing to Muslims, but that does not make it irrelevant, especially since child brides are all too common in the Muslim world today, including Muslims living within the West.

My reasons for avoiding gratuitous insults is not that I believe they are wrong, it’s that I believe they are ineffective. They turn people off who otherwise might be interested in what I have to say. In addition, they cause emotional hurt with no benefit. And besides that, I simply prefer a less inflammatory style.

However, others disagree with me about rudeness. Like it or not, it is common in ordinary political discourse for people to insult those with whom they disagree, or to use “strong language”. Islam has a political side, so the same rules of political discourse that apply to other political schools of thought should also apply to Islam. Just because Muslims or others dislike a person’s style of communicating does not mean that person should be hushed up, and it does not mean their point of view is invalid. Sometimes people make some good points impolitely. So, while I do think it’s important to avoid gratuitous insults, there are many things that are more important than that, such as learning the truth about Islam and Islamic doctrines.


Archbishop of Sharia’s Errors

February 11, 2008

Recently, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams stated that adopting certain aspects of Sharia in the UK “seems unavoidable”. Many bishops, as well as the British Prime Minister, have rejected Dr. Williams’ statements. Here are his errors. All quotes and paraphrased statements of the Archbishop come from the BBC unless otherwise specified.

Error 1: Adopting parts of Islamic Sharia law would help maintain social cohesion. On the contrary, having one law for all is what maintains social cohesion. Having a cohesive group means there are terms which define that group, which necessarily defines who or what is not allowed in that group. For everyone to follow the same law is one way a society defines itself. A case in point is the new polygamy ruling, which can allow a Muslim man to claim welfare benefits in Britain for multiple wives. This is sure to cause greater disharmony between the Muslim polygamists and the taxpayer.

Error 2: Muslims should not have to choose between “the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty”. Why not? If loyalty to the Mafia conflicts with loyalty to the state, should we change our laws to make the Mafia legal? This is an error because, first of all, if a cultural practice conflicts with state loyalty in a glaring fashion, that practice should be excluded from the state. To say that all cultural norms must be accepted opens the door to legalized cannibalism, slavery, and burning widows on the funeral pyre of her husband. All of those behaviors are acceptable in some cultures, even today. Those practices are from non-Muslim cultures, but Muslim cultures practice such things as killing apostates, stoning adulteresses to death, and child brides. Any Muslims who are unwilling to follow the laws of a Western state should move somewhere that has laws more to their liking.

In addition, Sharia is not about individual choice. It’s about using the force of government to impose restrictions. In a free society, individuals can already choose loyalty to their culture to the extent that they are not infringing on others’ rights. For example, without Sharia, women can generally wear a headscarf, but Sharia can allow the elite to force all Muslim women (and, ultimately, non-Muslim women as well) to wear headscarfs. Dr. Williams’ understanding of Sharia seems, unfortunately, to be limited to the deceptive rendering of it by seemingly friendly Islamists like the truth-challenged Tariq Ramadan, whom Dr. Williams quotes.

What’s more, some Muslims have immigrated to the West in order to get away from Sharia. Others have grown up with Western freedoms and have no wish for Sharia to be imposed on them. Why would we choose to appease those who want to oppress the modern Muslim? Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, for example, says that “What Rowan Williams wishes upon us is an abomination.” Under Sharia, she could be punished for merely expressing that view.

Error 3: “Sensational reporting of opinion polls” are clouding the issue. I can only guess he’s referring to surveys such as the one done by Policy Exchange, which found that 36 per cent of Muslims in Britain between the ages of 16 and 24 believe apostates should be killed. This appears to be an example of willful ignorance on the part of the Archbishop. He gives no evidence that such polls are inaccurate, yet he thinks we should ignore their findings. If anything, I think it’s likely survey numbers underestimate such beliefs among Muslims, some of whom might not admit beliefs the pollsters would find reprehensible. It is known that people sometimes lie to tell pollsters what they want to hear, and Islam also has a doctrine of taqiyya, which sanctions deceiving non-Muslims to advance the cause of Islam.

Error 4: “[N]obody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that’s sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states.” [Note: In fairness, I cannot find any statement on the Archbishop’s transcript that equals or approximates this statement, although this general topic is discussed. So either the BBC has fabricated every word of this quote, or Dr. Williams’ published transcript does not match the actual words he spoke. With this qualifier, I’ll proceed on the basis that the BBC may have had grounds for this quote.] Here, Dr. Williams is assuming that there’s a kind, gentle Sharia and a mean, tyrannical Sharia, and that we can pick and choose the nice one. However, there is no evidence this is so. There is no major school of Sharia that says it’s fine to pick and choose the rules we like; every law in Sharia is considered to be Allah’s law. Legitimizing Sharia as a source of law opens the door for the whole thing.

In this statement, he also appears to be assuming that virtually all Muslims in the UK are “in their right mind”, as defined by his values. However, it is a fact that many Muslims lobby for rules that most Westerners would consider inhumane. For example, over a third of Muslim youth in the UK support Sharia’s death penalty for apostasy (leaving Islam). Does this mean they are all not in their right mind? If so, why would there be such a high proportion of crazy people amongst Muslims?

Either orthodox Islam is a form of mental illness, or there’s another explanation: Orthodox Islam includes fascist doctrines. Some people do prefer to live in a fascist system, or they believe they should for the sake of their religion, or they are conditioned to submit to it, but none of this is compatible with a Western sense of individual rights and freedoms.

Error 5: Having one law for everybody is “a bit of a risk.” He gives as examples the idea that Catholic adoption agencies should be free to discriminate against gay parents. However, the solution to this is to allow every adoption agency to set its own standards for what parents they will serve. If the anti-discrimination law is dispensable and can be set aside in the case of Catholics, the law should be dispensed with in its entirety, otherwise non-Catholic agencies are discriminated against. One set of laws can and should serve all.

Error 6: Our experience with Orthodox Jewish courts can be applied to Sharia courts. According to Charles Moore, Jewish law is “the law of a minority that accepts the authority of the majority, non-Jewish state.” There is nothing in Sharia that accepts this authority. On the contrary, Sharia explicitly demands Islamic supremacy over non-Muslims. Historically, Muslims have seized power over non-Muslims even when they were in the minority.

Error 7: Denying he said what he said. Dr. Williams has recently denied that he was calling for Sharia to be introduced. His website states: “[Dr. Williams] explained that his core aim was to: ‘to tease out some of the broader issues around the rights of religious groups within a secular state’ and was using sharia as an example.” However, a reading of the full transcript of his lecture shows that he did make the points excerpted by BBC, except for the mystery statement noted in Error 4. The Archbishop does also expound at some length on some of the risks of multiple legal systems, which is not reflected in BBC’s article, but at no point does he conclude that Sharia in Britain is out of the question.

Dr. Williams is probably a very nice man who genuinely wants to reach out to Muslims in Britain. He probably does not have a motive of bringing about an Islamist agenda. However, he also appears to be woefully uneducated or miseducated about Sharia. My sense is that, sadly, his charitable feelings toward Muslims have made him easy prey for Islamists who wish to bring Sharia to the West through deception.