Does The Democratic Party Want the Jihad Sympathizer Vote?

August 27, 2008

Ingrid Mattson was invited to speak at the Democratic Convention in Denver. She is president of the Islamic Society of North America, a large organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is waging “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions,” according to the MB’s own words. The ISNA was also named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a Hamas terror funding case last year.

Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch lists 17 specific items which show Mattson to be a Jihad sympathizer and an Islamic Supremacist, each backed up by quotes and sources. I consider this post by Spencer to be a must-read article. I’ll just summarize two of his 17 points here:

First, Mattson praises the Jihadist, Maududi: “…. So far, probably the best work of Tafseer [Quranic commentary] in English is by Maulana Abul A’la Maududi.'” Spencer gives several examples of Maududi’s own writing which show Maududi fully supports offensive Jihad warfare and the worldwide imposition of Sharia. Here’s just one of those examples, from Maududi’s Jihad in Islam, page 9:

“Islam wishes to destroy all States and Governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which Nation assumes the role of the standard bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. It must be evident to you from this discussion that the objective of Islamic ‘Jihad’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of State rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single State or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.”

Here’s an even fuller expose of Maududi’s writings.

Second, a number of self-identified Muslim reformers and moderates have jointly criticized Mattson and ISNA. Here’s an excerpt from their statement, in which they take exception to the URJ (Union for Reformed Judaism) collaborating with ISNA:

ISNA… has a long history of association with extremist trends in Islam. ISNA has served as a front group for Wahhabism, the official sect in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia; the jihadist ideologies originating in Pakistan with the writings of a certain Mawdudi and the Deoband schools in that country — the latter of which produced the Afghan Taliban, and the Ikhwan al-Muslimun, or Muslim Brotherhood.

Ingrid Mattson, president of ISNA, revealed the style of radical rhetoric with which the organization is saturated ….

…. [The] noble goal [of furthering interfaith civility and cooperation], to which we as Muslims are called by our revelation and our traditions, cannot be served by flattery toward groups like ISNA, in which radicals are camouflaged as moderates.

…. We fear that heedless acceptance of ISNA as an ally of URJ does harm to both our communities, by legitimizing a radicalism that, regardless of ISNA’s rhetorical claims, is fundamentally hostile to Jews and suppresses the intellectual and social development of Muslims.

Nawab Agha, president, American Muslim Congress
Omran Salman, director, Aafaq Foundation
Kemal Silay, president, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, executive director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Salim Mansur, Canadian director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Jalal Zuberi, Southern U.S. director, Center for Islamic Pluralism
Imaad Malik, fellow, Center for Islamic Pluralism
M. Zuhdi Jasser, president, American Islamic Forum for Democracy
Sheikh Ahmed Subhy Mansour, president, International Quranic Center

So, my question is this: It would not have been difficult to vet Mattson before giving her such a prominent role at the Democratic National Convention. Since this vetting either was not done or did not result in her exclusion, it seems likely that one of the following must be true:

  • The Democratic Party does not know about the Islamic Jihad and Islamic Supremacy.
  • The Democratic Party does not care about the Islamic Jihad and Islamic Supremacy.
  • The Democratic Party wants the votes of Jihad sympathizers.

In fairness, some Republicans have, in the past, been equally clueless about Islamic Jihadists and Islamic Supremacists. However, the biggest gaffe in this election has been committed by the Democrats, at their most prominent event of the election cycle. This is an opportunity for the Republicans to distinguish themselves relative to the Democrats. I’d love nothing better than a little partisan competition to see which major party can best protect the country from those with the viewpoint espoused by Mattson. Ultimately, we need to have both the Republicans and Democrats on board to be successful in defending our way of life against both Jihadists and peaceful Islamic Supremacists.


Notice What Does NOT Offend Muslims

July 8, 2008

The Amboy Times has posted a growing list of Things That Offend Muslims. Several of the items on this list have been protested quite visibly by many Muslims, in some cases including death threats, violence and even murder.

Thousands upon thousands of Muslims have protested a bunch of cartoons published in Denmark. Muslims worldwide have expressed their outrage, not only through peaceful protests, but also by burning down embassies and murdering innocent people.

More recently, the movie Fitna was produced by Geert Wilders, a Dutch PM. Again, thousands protested.

Now, let’s look at what does NOT offend Muslims….

If worldwide demonstrations, violence, and mayhem shows us what offends Muslims the most, then it is equally revealing to pay attention to the events that do not cause sufficient offense for Muslims to muster any noticeable protest at all:

  • Apostates Tortured, Killed: As we have noted, apostates of Islam may be threatened with death, even in the West. Recently, a Muslim man who converted to Christianity in Iran was arrested, tortured, and may yet be killed. Many other apostates have been killed, beaten, or threatened. Where’s the Muslim outrage over this travesty? Why are there no large, visible groups of Muslims fighting for the right of apostasy?
  • Religious Minorities Persecuted Throughout Muslim Lands: Christians, Jews, Bahais, Hindus, Buddhists and others are persecuted throughout the Muslim world. Why aren’t Muslims more offended by this than they are by a movie?
  • Women Treated as Second Class Citizens: In Pakistan, thousands of women in prison are rape victims. Honor killings, stoning of adulteresses, and FGM (female genital mutilation) plague the Muslim world. Saudi women can get into trouble for driving a car. Why no big demonstrations against this appalling treatment of women? Is this less of an offense than a cartoon?
  • Islam Linked to Militant Jihad by Muslims: Muslims are offended when non-Muslims discuss Islamic Jihad (which was one subject of the movie Fitna). However, there are Muslims who have linked militant Jihad to Islam, in modern times and throughout history, yet these Muslims who promote militant Jihad are never protested in a large way by other Muslims. A press release may be issued, but Muslims are not demonstrating in the streets over this. Why the double standard?
  • Mohammed’s Example Justifies Marital Sex with Nine-Year-Olds: According to a Saudi marriage official, a girl can be married at any age, even one year, so long as the marriage isn’t consummated until she is nine. This is based on authenticated Muslim Hadith (traditions) that Mohammed married Aisha, his favorite wife, when she was six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. How is it possible that Muslims aren’t sufficiently offended by the Saudi’s comment to protest his words?
  • Jews Marked for Death Worldwide: According to Palestinian cleric Wael Al-Zarad on Al-Aqsa TV, the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation.” This is not the only recent example of Muslims calling for a new Jewish holocaust. Why are Muslims not offended by these calls to genocide? Why is there no obvious sign of Muslim outrage over this?
  • OIC Moves to Quash Free Expression in the West: The OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) is making bold moves to stifle criticism of Islam through the UN. There is a plethora of other Muslim groups attempting to stifle free speech about Islam in the West. All Muslims who embrace free speech and free press must be terribly embarrassed about this. Where are the demonstrations?
  • Slavery Practiced by Muslims: Recently, UAE royals enslaved 17 women at a luxury hotel in Belgium. Slavery has never been entirely abolished in the Muslim world. Surely this would be enough to generate some Muslim outrage, but I have seen no mass demonstrations against those Muslims who continue this abhorrent practice.

It isn’t that no Muslims are offended by the above list. On the contrary, there are some examples of decent Muslims speaking out against abuses committed by Muslims, often in the name of Islam. To notice the lack of public demonstrations over the above list does not disparage the tremendous efforts of these brave individuals and small groups. However, the Muslim community as a whole does not seem sufficiently disturbed by the items on this list to protest them en masse. Why would some cartoons be more offensive than torturing and killing apostates? Why would a movie be more offensive than declarations of genocide? Where are the Muslims who would demonstrate in the streets for the right of apostasy, true equality for religious minorities in Muslim lands, equality for women, full renunciation of militant Jihad, marriage for adults only, respect for Jews, free expression, and a real abolition of slavery? Hello? Are you out there?


Would It Be Wrong to Reject a Muslim Presidential Candidate?

July 8, 2008

Many people believe Barack Obama is now or once was a Muslim. Setting aside, for the moment, the question of whether or not there’s any truth to those rumors, what if a Muslim did run for President? Would it be appropriate to elect a Muslim President of the United States at this moment in history? Various commentators have expressed dismay at the notion that a Muslim could be rejected for the office of President based on his religion. Recently, for example, Colbert King of the Washington Post wrote:

What will they [orators 150 years from now] say about our professed fidelity to religious freedom when they find out that many of the Americans who thank God for their religious liberty are also ready to turn their backs on a candidate if they think he is a Muslim or Mormon?

This clearly implies Mr. King believes that to turn our backs on a Muslim presidential candidate would be religious bigotry.

Let’s interject some common sense here. We have been attacked by Muslim Jihadists, and are in the midst of an ongoing conflict with Islamic Jihad. Even if there was no inherent conflict between certain Islamic doctrines and our Western values, this would not be an appropriate time to elect a Muslim to the Presidency. I have no objection to electing a Japanese-American as President at this time, but it would not have been appropriate to do so in the context of WWII. This is not bigotry, but simply acknowledgment of a basic principle: when an individual is a member of two groups, and there is a conflict between those groups, we cannot be completely certain where his loyalties lie. Maybe we can be certain enough to be the individual’s friend, but not certain enough to elect the individual President. The stakes are just too high.

In addition, a significant number of Muslims believe that Islam ultimately requires the removal of non-Muslims from power and implementation of Sharia law worldwide. There is considerable evidence that this agenda is being advanced by stealth. Sharia is in conflict with our Constitution, violating such principles as freedom of speech and press, freedom of religion, equality under the law, and more. This conflict would need to be decisively resolved, such that Sharia would no longer be considered a valid source of law by mainstream Muslims, before it could be appropriate to elect a Muslim as President of this country.

Is Obama, in fact, a Muslim?

From the evidence I’ve seen, I think it’s virtually certain he was raised as a Muslim, at least for a period of time. Taking into account his Muslim background, there is also a small chance he remains a closet Muslim, as we can’t read his mind to find out what he really believes in his heart. For a Muslim to deceive non-Muslims (taqiyya) in certain circumstances gets the green light by Sharia law. For example, according to Imam Abu Hamid Ghazali as quoted in Reliance of the Traveller, a classic book of Islamic law, lying is permissible to reach a permissible goal that cannot be reached by telling the truth. If, for example, a Muslim believed that he would have to lie about his faith in order to be elected President, lying in this context would be permissible according to Ghazali.

Of course, just because lying can be justified in Islam does not mean that Obama is a closet Muslim. Not all Muslims practice taqiyya, and non-Muslims can also be dishonest. However, since it appears Obama has been dishonest about his Muslim upbringing, is it wise to trust his honesty regarding his current religious beliefs? And, given that there’s probably a small chance Obama is a closet Muslim, would it be responsible for us to risk it? That’s a judgment call each of us can make, but it certainly is a legitimate consideration that has nothing to do with bigotry, and everything to do with national security.


Ground Rules for the Religious Pluralism Club

June 26, 2008

On a regular basis of late, Muslim spokespeople have called for “interfaith dialog”. They evidently want Islam to be viewed as a mainstream religion in a pluralistic world. This fits with a general desire for Islam to be respected by non-Muslims. It’s true that mutual respect is a desirable thing; however, for this to happen, I think it’s important for religious leaders to establish ground rules. Every community needs ground rules so that members can get along with each other, and a pluralistic community of religions is no exception. Here are five simple rules I would propose, based on fairness, which I believe are reasonable prerequisites for joining the club of religious pluralism:

Religious Pluralism Ground Rule #1: Anyone Can Leave Any Religion

Oops, it appears that Islam is starting off on the wrong foot by breaking one of the very most important ground rules for fairness amongst religions. According to Sharia, the punishment for leaving Islam is death for men, and either death or life in prison for women (depending on the school of Sharia). Although few Muslim countries today enforce this punishment, vigilante enforcement is such that apostates from Islam fear for their lives, even in the United states. As long as this is the case, Islam is a religion that people can enter but cannot leave without risk. Why should other religions accept Islam when Islam traps its believers, including converts from other faiths, like flies on flypaper?

Religious Pluralism Ground Rule #2: Anyone Can Promote Their Religious Beliefs to Anyone Else

Unfortunately, things don’t get any better for Islam here. It naturally follows that if Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam, non-Muslims are not allowed to do anything which might persuade Muslims to leave Islam. Christian missionaries throughout the Muslim world face persecution. In “moderate” Turkey, missionaries are sometimes arrested or deported, even though missionary activity is ostensibly legal. Niyazi Guney, Turkish Ministry of Justice director general of laws, has commented that “Missionaries are more dangerous than terror organizations.” Even in the West, police have been known to support Sharia rules banning non-Muslims from proselytizing Muslims though there is no legal basis for it. For example, in Britain, a constable told two preachers they couldn’t preach in a Muslim area. In the US, a Christian preacher at UC Irvine was assaulted by Muslim students, while campus police did nothing.

Even simple religious expression that falls far short of missionary work is banned for non-Muslims under Sharia. Displaying religious symbols and building new places of worship, for example, are forbidden for non-Muslims.

Meanwhile, under Sharia, Muslims are free to promote their faith to non-Muslims all they want, as well as building mosques and displaying Muslim religious symbols, which clearly violates the fairness principle.

Religious Pluralism Ground Rule #3: Anyone Can Criticize Any Religion

Hmmm…. Islam just gets further in the hole with this one. As noted by Robert Spencer in this must-read article, the Organization of the Islamic Conference is making a concerted effort, and a successful one, toward shutting down all criticism of Islam. Add to this the efforts of organizations such as CAIR, the MSA, and the MSU, to name a few, and it’s easy to spot a trend.

I would also note that mainstream, traditional interpretations of the Quran are severely critical of non-Islamic faiths, including polytheism, Christianity, and Judaism. In addition, any religion with a prophet after Mohammed is widely regarded by Muslims as blasphemous, based on mainstream interpretations of Quran 33:40. How can it be wrong for Islam to be criticized, when Islam’s holy book defames non-Islamic religions? So long as Islam keeps the Quran (and traditional interpretations thereof), fairness dictates that criticism of Islam must be allowed.

Religious Pluralism Ground Rule #4: Religions May Not Impose Their Rules by Force of Theocracy

In the past, Christianity was a misbehaver on this one, but this is the twenty first century. No major religion today other than Islam has a political agenda to rule the world. The rules of Sharia are incompatible with the US Constitution and basic norms of individual rights and freedoms in the West. Sharia includes laws which explicitly discriminate against other religions, such as valuing the legal testimony of a non-Muslims as half that of a Muslim. The barbaric punishments prescribed for certain crimes also comes off as unfriendly. Is it any wonder, then, that representatives of Islam have trouble gaining respect from non-Muslims?

Religious Pluralism Ground Rule #5: Religions May Not Support Holy War

Yes, it seems people get really annoyed when they or their loved ones are killed for being infidels. That’s just not a good way to get along with others–it makes people testy. Of course, the majority of Muslims have no interest in participating in Jihad warfare. However, Jihad warfare remains, to this day, very much a part of Islamic theology. Where are the mainstream Muslim organizations who denounce Jihad warfare under any circumstances and refute the theological justification for Jihad warfare on Islamic grounds? There do not appear to be any at all. Support for Jihad warfare amongst everyday Muslims remains uncomfortably high, as well.

Conclusions

Only Islam violates all five of these rules for respectful relations with others. Although there are individual Muslims who do want to follow these ground rules, they are not the ones who are “driving the bus” of Islam. Those who call for religious dialog can start by challenging the Muslim world to follow the same general ground rules that other religions today generally follow.


How Can We Screen Out Jihadist Immigrants if Muslims Themselves Can’t Tell the Difference?

May 26, 2008

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, some immigrants to the US from Muslim countries are frustrated that their citizenship applications are taking so long. Some are even suing the federal government. They believe their civil rights are being violated if it takes longer for them to gain citizenship than it does for an immigrant from a non-Muslim country. The immigration authorities take longer with Muslim applicants so that a thorough background check can be performed.

It is common sense that for would-be immigrants, US citizenship is not a right but a privilege. Immigration, within certain limits, is good for this country. However, it does not make sense to bring in immigrants from demographic groups that have a higher risk for committing acts of terrorism, or crimes of mass destruction, unless there is a reliable way to distinguish between those who are potentially violent and those who are not. Screening out potential Islamic terrorists protects all people in this country, both Muslim and non-Muslim. A background check is the least we can do; but is it enough?

Is There a Reliable Way to Screen Out Potential Jihad Terrorists?

Robert Spencer and others have stated many times that there is no reliable way for immigration authorities to tell the difference between potential Jihadists and those who will never participate in Jihad. They are correct, and here’s more evidence:

Even Muslims Can’t Tell the Difference!

It would be reasonable to assume that Muslims, being intimately familiar with the various strains of Islam, could spot a potential Jihadist more easily than a non-Muslim, especially if they are close friends or family members. However, this does not seem to be the case in every situation.

Nail Bomber’s Muslim Friend “Stunned”: Nick Reilly, aka Mohammed Rasheed, a British convert to Islam, was recently arrested for attempting to detonate a nail bomb in a restaurant. Omar Siddiqui, Reilly’s friend and president of the Islamic Society at the local university said, “I believe the Islamic community will be stunned by what he is alleged to have done because he always seemed so calm and nice.” According to neighbors, Reilly had a screen saver of the twin towers coming down on 9/11.

Accused July 21 Bomb Suspect’s Sister “Surprised” He Had Jihad Book: When Adel Yahya was being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the July 21 bomb plot in Britain, his sister Lina evidently knew nothing about a Jihad book he had in their home. Lina said, “This is a surprise. He’s never really had these sort of views.” (Adel’s jury failed to reach a verdict, after which he pled guilty to a lesser charge.)

SUV Jihadist’s Sister “Shocked”: Mohammed Taheri-Azar drove an SUV into a crowd of people on the UNC campus to “avenge the deaths of Muslims around the world.” His sister, Laila, describes her brother as “a kind, gentle and pure soul.” She says his actions are “as much a source of shock and distress to us as they are to you.” This is despite the fact that he admitted plotting the act for two years.

July 7 Bomber’s Wife “Had No Idea of His Plans”: Germaine Lindsay, aka Jamal Lindsay, was one of the bombers in the attacks on London’s public transport system on July 7, 2005. His own wife, Samantha Lewthwaite, a British convert to Islam who was pregnant at the time of the bombing, said, “He was a good and loving husband and a brilliant father, who showed absolutely no sign of doing this atrocious crime.”

So, since it’s apparent that Muslims who are close to the Jihadists can’t predict what they will do, how does anyone expect the immigration officials to do so?

By now, you may be saying, “Wait a minute. These people may have known more than they’re admitting.” This is true, but it doesn’t matter. If the Jihadists’ closest friends and family members could not tell they were Jihadists, that’s a good reason to stem the flow of Muslim immigration. If the Jihadists operate in a community that conceals their activities from the authorities, that’s a good reason to stem the flow of Muslim immigration.

Some Jihad plots are foiled due to Muslim informants, and they deserve credit for helping keep us safe. But not every plot is foiled by informants, and it only takes one successful plot to do a whole lot of damage.

How Do We Screen Out Peaceful Islamic Supremacists?

In addition, since our Constitution is not compatible with Sharia law, we should also be attempting to screen out Muslims who believe Sharia should one day be the law of the entire world. Our system of representative government with individual rights cannot be maintained if a significant portion of the population is hostile to our basic system, whether or not they are potentially violent. Since no one seems to be able to tell with certainty who is a Jihadist, how is anyone to tell whether someone is an Islamic Supremacist?

How Do We Screen Out Those Whose Children Will Be Islamic Supremacists?

In addition to the risks of terrorist immigrants and peaceful Islamic Supremacists immigrants, there’s also the risk of homegrown terrorists and peaceful Islamic Supremacists. More than once, moderate Muslim parents in the West have been appalled to find their children becoming more radical than the parents are. We already have this risk with the population we currently have. However, the larger our Muslim population, the more this risk grows.

I believe it would be good policy to drastically reduce or stop immigration from Muslim majority countries, as well as Muslims from Europe and elsewhere, until this threat has been dealt with successfully. If we allow any immigration at all from Muslim countries, we should give preference to peaceful religious minorities, apostates and heretics from those countries. This is not because all Muslims are Islamic Supremacists, nor will their children all be such. It’s because we have no way of knowing which are which.

Note that this policy protects not only non-Muslims, but also those Muslims already living here who value our way of life and don’t want to change it. Those are the Muslims we should be concerned about, not the ones who want to replace the Constitution with Sharia.


Is Islam Dominated by Radicals?

April 20, 2008

The Rosenkranz Foundation recently sponsored a debate of the resolution, “Islam Is Dominated by Radicals”. Six experts debated the resolution, including two Muslim women, one on each side. It was very well done, although in a strictly time-limited format there are always important points left unmade (hence my comments here).

On the side for the resolution were Paul Marshall, with the Hudson Institute; Asra Nomani, a Muslim woman who has been fighting against radicalization of Islam; and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a former Islamic fundamentalist. Against the resolution were Reza Aslan, professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside; Edina Lekovic, from the Muslim Public Affairs Council; and Richard Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia.

It is disconcerting that this panel included Edina Lekovic, who once edited a paper which published a pro-terrorist article, lied about doing so on national television, then personally attacked Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert, who made her dishonesty public. The very fact that a woman who has links to radicalism herself, and has falsely denied those links, gets invited to speak publicly about Islam supports the notion that Islamic radicalism has hegemony in this country. Why is it so hard to find spokespeople for Islam who have no links to radicalism?

The first speaker for the resolution, Paul Marshall, defined “radicals” as “those who are striving for a political order representing a reactionary version of Islam that denies legal and civic equality to men and women and also denies it on the basis of religion. It also denies freedom of speech and freedom of thought….” Those opposed to the resolution neither accepted nor refuted this definition, they simply ignored it and spoke as though violence is the only radical issue to discuss.

For purposes of this debate, this is an OK definition. At least it isn’t limiting the discussion to the Jihadists; it’s time we get past the idea that only the Jihadists are a threat. Islamic Supremacists desire a vision which is wholely unacceptable from the perspective of the West, whether they accomplish it peacefully or not.

The only downside to using the term “Radical Islam” to describe Islamic Supremacists is that it implies these “radicals” are advocating a form of Islam that is contrary to mainstream, traditional, scholarly Islam. This is, unfortunately, not the case. These people’s world view is radical as compared to mainstream Western thought, but not radical as compared to mainstream Islamic scholarship. For simplicity, in this article I will use “radical” as defined by Mr. Marshall, and “moderate” to mean those within Islam who oppose the “radicals”, even though these definitions have their problems in the larger picture.

Although this was not specifically the topic, some causes of radicalism were alleged, but they were not debated with any thoroughness. The Islamic doctrines that support radicalism were barely mentioned.

The basic argument for the resolution was that Islamic radicals, even if not a majority of the Muslim population, control all levels of power through the Muslim world, and thus they dominate Islam. Saudi oil money is one means used for disseminating a radical view, but not the only means. The debaters for the resolution were very persuasive, and the percentage of the audience who agreed with them shifted dramatically in their favor during the debate. There are just a couple points I’d like to expand upon, which I did not feel were adequately addressed during the debate.

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (for the resolution) mentioned the UK poll which found that 36% of Muslim youth (ages 16-24) believe apostates should be killed. Richard Bulliet from the other side said this shows the radical view does not have hegemony (power), because it is a minority view. However, this ignores an important dynamic: a significant minority which is willing to use violence will have hegemony over an acquiescent majority. As we have discussed, apostates are, indeed, intimidated by “radical” Muslims, even in the West. There is no question but that their freedom of expression is severely curtailed even in the West, and it is virtually squelched in Muslim countries. Even if this were the only facet of Islamic Supremacy regarding which the “radicals” have hegemony (and it is not), it would be alarming by itself.

Reza Aslan (against the resolution) made a bizarre comparison between that 36% figure above and a poll showing that “46 percent… of American Christians believe that the Constitution and American laws should be changed in order to match Christian law and Christian values.” What kind of bizarre comparison is this? Christian “radicals” can be fairly compared with Muslim “radicals” when:

  • Ex-Christians worldwide are afraid to speak out about why they left Christianity in fear for their lives
  • Christians hold big protests calling for the death of anyone who has insulted them
  • Christians form a world-wide movement that’s for stoning for adulterers and gays; for the court testimony of women to count half that of men; for the removal, by force if necessary, of all non-Christians from power; for non-Christians to pay an extra tax in lieu of being killed; etc.
  • These things are not happening, obviously, so we can relax about the Christian radicals.

    Reza Aslan cites a declaration of many leading clerics outlawing “takfir”, which means declaring a Muslim to be a non-Muslim. “Takfir” is often used by Jihadists who want to kill unsupportive Muslims: It is illegal under Islamic law for a Muslim to kill a Muslim, but if a Muslim is pronounced a non-Muslim with a fatwa of takfir, voila! It’s suddenly legal to kill him. Although the ban on takfir was cited as evidence that radicalism has no hegemony, this is a mixed blessing at best: the Jihadists do not consider themselves bound by a bunch of clerics, so they will continue to pronounce takfir as before; however, the moderates now are hamstrung in efforts to distance Islam from the Jihadists. The ban on takfir means that no one can declare Osama bin Laden to be a non-Muslim, which would actually be a good move for the moderates.

    Incidentally, Robert Spencer had been invited to participate in this debate for the resolution, and then was disinvited at the request of one of the speakers against the resolution (he does not know which one, nor does it matter). Mr. Spencer is extremely knowledgable, articulate, and backs up virtually everything with solid data. The fact that someone did not want to debate him is a compliment to him, and not to the someone.


    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.