What is real Islam?
That Reagan thread got carried away a bit (my fault!) by a discussion on what Islam is or isn't. Is it true to say that "Islam is world war", and thus a major threat even in moderate clothing? Is it true to say that Islamism is the real Islam, something that lurks inside every Muslim community waiting to jump out? And should we look to the Koran to answer those questions, or to real life Muslims?
I say that Islam is whatever people do, say and think in Islam's name. Sometimes what Muslims do is compatible with the Koran or other Islamic writings, other times it's not, and when that happens, real life supercedes the holy book. Islam does not have a mystical essence that somehow exists independently of real life Muslims. They are all it is. Islam is world war only if Muslims go to world war. They haven't. Islam and Islamism are the same only if Islamists act and think the same way as other Muslims. They don't. It doesn't matter what the Koran supposedly tells Muslims to do, those commandments are part of real Islam only to the extent that they're actually followed.
I've now moved all the off-topic comments over to this thread. A lot of people have opinions about this, and it's no point dragging poor Reagan into it.
Norwegian guest | 2004-06-14 12:46 | Link
I second the comment made somewhere above: We need leaders like Reagan today, to identify the enemy: The Arab fascist movement disguised as a religion: Islam.
A discussion (in Norwegian) about what happens WHEN, not IF, parts of Western Europe break down in ethnic strife and civil wars during the next generation because of the Muslim immigrant invasion:
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-14 16:09 | Link
Norwegian guest: "A discussion (in Norwegian) about what happens WHEN, not IF, parts of Western Europe break down in ethnic strife and civil wars during the next generation because of the Muslim immigrant invasion"
So I click on the link and read this, written by moderator Prithivi:
"But from a rational point of view about self defense, the crusades can be justified - they were and ARE a MUST. If a Brazilian submarine tomorrow torpedoes a Marroccan ship in the Atlantic, I will defend it. I do so because Marocco is a Muslim country, and Brazil is not. That is all I need to know. Islam has declared total and global war on the whole non-Muslim world, and has carried out that war for ca 1400 years. It is about time we also start defending ourselves, totally and globally. The crusades were one of few examples of the West attempting just that, and OF COURSE that was justified."
From the capitalization style I guess that you are Prithivi. In any case, I see _no_ critical replies to his/your justification of any war or any attack by any non-Muslim country against any Muslim country. Islam has not declared total, global war - Islamists have. Islam consists of some billion people all over the world. I'm not sure what your definition of "declared total and global war" is, but by my definition, if a billion religious fanatics declare war on the rest of the world, the billion people win. And I don't mean "will win in the near future of paranoid fantasy, where it can be continously postponed by the prophets every time it fails to happen", I mean "we would be living in Muslim slavery by now if this was true".
So it's an exaggeration. It's just not true that "Islam" has declared total, global war on everyone else. So what? So we talk a bit loud, use a few big words, why does that matter? Well, first, it matters because your argument falls apart without it. If Islam hasn't declared total, global war on everyone else, everyone else have no reason to declare total, global war on Islam. And second, it matters because this kind of exaggeration and hyperbole isn't just a common _flaw_ of the self-styled anti-psychopaths at that website, it's a deliberate _tactic_, meant to create a counterpressure against the left-wing media dominance. If they shout and lie and flame, then so should we. I object to that tactic. For one thing, it creates confusion about what you say because it's true, and what you say because you want to win the debate, which leads people to say things like "Islam has declared total and global war on the non-Muslim world". Second, I object to any use of unfair rhetoric - broad generalizations, lax standards for truth, paranoid accusations, etc. I don't know that you deliberately exaggerate the threat of Islam in accordance with the counterpressure tactic, but if you don't, that tactic has certainly created a climate where that kind of hyperbole can thrive.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-15 09:43 | Link
Bjørn: I know that website you were discussing. I don't go there too often, as I sometimes dislike Mr. Prithivi's rhetoric. However, I think you still make an artificial distinction between Islamism and Islam. Islamism IS Islam. At most, there is a difference in degree, not in kind. Islam hasn't declared a world war. Islam IS a world war, a permanent, institutionalized world war that will continue until all of Dar al-Harb ("The House of War") is converted to Islam.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-15 12:29 | Link
Ali Dashti: "I think you still make an artificial distinction between Islamism and Islam. Islamism IS Islam. At most, there is a difference in degree, not in kind. Islam hasn't declared a world war. Islam IS a world war"
But by what sense of the word "Islam" is that true? Islam is what Islam does - and says, and thinks. That means the whole billion+ lot of them. To say that the faith of _all these people_ "is" a world war is extremely inaccurate. Doesn't fit with reality at all.
More likely you're talking about some kind of essence of Islam, not the actual set of people & beliefs & practices Islam is made up of in the real world. You believe that the _true nature_ of Islam is war, and this transcends whatever actual Muslims choose to do and believe. The problem with essences is that they can be abused to say things that just aren't true. The temptation is to move everything up on a plane of pure ideas, where you don't have to worry so much about grounding the ideas in reality, only in other ideas. And so it makes sense to say that there is an essence of Western culture that was captured by some philosopher, or an essence of Islam that was captured in certain writings, and that this is what the West and Islam _is_, regardless of how actual Westerners and Muslims behave and think.
You can identify lines of thought that partly or fully identify particular cultures and religions, and the sum of those thoughts can perhaps be called an essence, what that religion or culture _is_, but you have to be careful to keep an anchor down to earth, down to the facts, so the ideas don't just float away on their own.
This means that a sentence like "Islam is world war" is meaningless unless you either specify a particular form of Islam or explain in what sense exactly a billion Muslims are at war with us. Where is their army? How are they armed? When will it attack? Who is their general? Show me the anchor that roots that statement in reality.
Zathras | 2004-06-15 18:35 | Link
In practice, the relation of Islamists to Islam is painfully clear. Either Muslims are Islamists, or they are not Muslims. If they are not Muslims, they will be killed unless they agree to become Islamists.
That is the Islamist perspective in a nutshell. It isn't hard to see similarities between it and the perspective of the early Soviet Communists. No more than a small minority of all the people in Russia and its neighboring states, they were nonetheless able to rise to power because of their absolute ruthlessness in using force against their enemies. To persuade other Russians to wage revolutionary war with them they first waged war against other Russians. The other Russians lost, just as the Islamists believe the great majority of Muslims who want nothing to do with an apocalyptic war with the non-Muslim world will lose.
Per Bjorn's original post, but the time Ronald Reagan was elected President the Soviet Union had changed greatly. In retrospect it appears its collapse and dissolution were inevitable. But the way these happened was not. It owes much to Reagan's implacability, which helped persuade the Politburo gerontocracy that the young (by Soviet standards) reformer Gorbachev had to be given power.
At this point some opinions diverge. There are Americans who claim everything that happened after Gorbachev became CPSU General Secretary right up to the Soviet collapse was due to Reagan. This is absurd, and it is moreover something Reagan himself never claimed. Gorbachev did give great credit to Reagan for negotiating the American side of arms reduction agreements that would have been unthinkable only a few years before. But on the other hand Reagan, along with most Americans, gave Gorbachev tremendous credit as well; actually I've always thought Americans appreciated Gorbachev's achievements much more than Russians have. Reagan pursued policies that represented incremental change from those of past American administrations, but Gorbachev had to reverse past Soviet policy by 180 degrees.
As we consider the threat of terrorism today we are tempted to forget that for almost half a century the whole of life on earth was menaced by the threat of a true apocalypse, a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States. No genuine admirer of Reagan's disputes his view that Gorbachev deserves great credit for the fact that this threat has receded, but even Reagan's critics cannot deny his role in the greatest modern achievement in international affairs.
Sandy P | 2004-06-15 19:34 | Link
Bjorn, the world will be at peace when the world is under Islam.
Am I right, Ali?
And Bjorn? The US is paying big money to find out when they'll attack next.
It seems you're fighting a conventional war w/conventional rules.
New war, new rules. Geneva Convention is for past wars, not future wars.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-15 19:39 | Link
"This means that a sentence like "Islam is world war" is meaningless unless you either specify a particular form of Islam or explain in what sense exactly a billion Muslims are at war with us. Show me the anchor that roots that statement in reality."
2:193, And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression
2:216, Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you
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
4:84, Then fight in Allah’s cause - Thou art held responsible only for thyself - and rouse the believers. It may be that Allah will restrain the fury of the Unbelievers; for Allah is the strongest in might and in punishment.
5:33, The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
8:12, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them
8:15-16, O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day - unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!
8:60, Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom Allah doth know. Whatever ye shall spend in the cause of Allah, shall be repaid unto you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly.
8:65, O Prophet! rouse the Believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the Unbelievers
9:5, But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem.
9:3, And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith.
9:14, Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, cover them with shame, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of Believers,
9:29, Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
9:39, Unless ye go forth, (for Jihad) He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place; but Him ye would not harm in the least.
9:73, O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the Hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell,- an evil refuge indeed.
9:111, Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an
9:123, O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.
22:19-22; These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord: But those who deny (their Lord),- for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins. In addition there will be maces of iron (to punish) them. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, from anguish, they will be forced back therein, and (it will be said), “Taste ye the Penalty of Burning!”
25:52, So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great endeavour.
25:68 ”Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. “(But) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy,-
47:4, Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens.
48:29, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against Unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other.
69:30-37 (The stern command will say): “Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits! This was he that would not believe in Allah Most High. And would not encourage the feeding of the indigent! So no friend hath he here this Day. Nor hath he any food except the corruption from the washing of wounds, Which none do eat but those in sin.”
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-16 08:40 | Link
Ali: "OK. The anchor is called the Koran. A few quotes from there:"
But that's exactly what I mean. The Koran is another idea, not reality. You're just anchoring ideas with other ideas.
Believers like to think of their holy books as the essence of their religion, as the core of their lives, but religions are so much more than that. I'm not very familiar with the Koran, so let's take an example I do know well: The Bible. I read the Bible several times when I was a Christian, and I've read much of it again since I became an atheist. Two different books entirely. There are so many dark parts of the Bible - holy massacres and wars, fanaticism - that Christians simply overlook, or euphemise away. So much I didn't find important when I was a Christian that now strikes me as thoroughly evil.
Atheists have made similar lists to yours with much more evil quotes from the Bible. Their point is usually the same as yours: "See? Your religion is evil!" But perhaps the point is rather that religions are never bound by their holy books, even when they insist they are. You can have fun debates with believers using their own book against them, but you're not really attacking their _religion_ by doing that. A religion is whatever its believers say and do and believe in that religion's name. That's _reality_. The book is just an idea.
Michael Farris | 2004-06-16 11:02 | Link
It occurs to me that religions do better when theologists spend most of their time toning down holy texts and/or euphemising them away. This is especially true of middle eastern religions.
Literal approaches to the Bible or Koran are a spiritual dead end and the problem that many Moslems face is that literalists have hijacked public discourse of the religion. What Islam needs is not so much a Luther but a global Reverend Lovejoy (that is a "holy" man whose apathy and 9 to 5 attitude toward the religion insures that followers don't get too carried away).
Literal Christianity is no bouquet of roses either, and you can find extremists in the US that are anti-democratic and believe in things like stoneing homosexuals and the like. But they mostly don't have much political power (I'd say they have none, but one branch did fund Paula Jones's suit against President Clinton so they're clearly not just sitting on the sidelines).
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-16 15:11 | Link
Bjørn: I am a non-Christian, too, mainly because of some of the harshest parts of the Bible, yes. However, you now make the most common mistake Westerners do when approaching Islam: Islam is NOT like Christianity. Christianity ( and Judaism) does have intolerant aspects, yes. Islam has more or less ONLY intolerant aspects. No other religion on the planet today has a FOUNDER that is as violent as Muhammed. Contrast the behaviour of Muhammed to the non-violent personal example of Jesus and his apostles:
Narrated Anas ibn Malik: A group of people from the `Ukl (or `Uraina) tribe—but I think he said that they were from `Ukl—came to Madinah and (they became ill, so) the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (milch) camels and told them to go out and drink the camels’ urine and milk (as a medicine). So they went and drank it, and when they became healthy, they killed the camel herder and drove away the camels. This news reached the Prophet early in the morning, so he sent (some) men in their pursuit and they were captured and brought to the Prophet before midday. He ordered their hands and legs to be cut off and their eyes to be branded with heated iron pieces and they were thrown at Al-Harra, and when they asked for water to drink, they were not given water. (Abu Qilaba said, “Those were the people who committed theft and murder and reverted to disbelief after being believers (Muslims), and fought against Allah and His Apostle”). (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Therefore, poets in those days were what journalists are today. One such poetess was Asma bint Marwan. She belonged to the B. Aws and did not hide her dislike for Islam. She was married to Yazid b. Zayd, a man of Banu Khatma and had five sons and a suckling infant. Some authors suggest that her father was a Jew. After the Badr war she composed some satirical poems. The verses spread from mouth to mouth and finally reached the ears of the Muslims and they were greatly offended. Muhammad could not endure satire or vituperation.2 Therefore, an incensed Muhammad decided that it was time to get rid of her.
In his mosque, at night, Muhammad sought a volunteer to assassinate Asma bt. Marwan. A blind man, Umayr b. Adiy al-Khatmi, belonging to the same tribe as Asma’s husband (ie Banu Khatma) stood up to complete the job. In the dead of night he crept into her apartment. Her little children then surrounded Asma while she slept. Hugging her bosom was her infant, suckling her breast. The blind man, feeling stealthily with his hand, removed the infant from her breast and plunged his sword in her belly with such a force that it passed through her back. This severe blow killed Asma on the spot. It was just five days prior to the end of the month of the sacred month of fasting, Ramadan, when Muslims are not supposed to shed blood.3
The morning after murdering Asma, the killer Umayr went to pray in the mosque while Muhammad was there. Muhammad was quite anxious to learn if the mission of Umayr was a success or not. He said to Umayr the killer, “Have you slain the daughter of Marwan?” Commenting on this Ibn S’ad 4 writes, “This was the word that was first heard from the Apostle of Allah, may Allah bless him.” When Umayr replied that the job had been carried out with success, Muhammad said, “You have helped God and His apostle, O ‘Umayr!’ When Umayr asked if he would have to bear any evil consequences, the apostle said, “Two goats won’t butt their heads about her.”5 Muhammad then praised Umayr in front of all gathered for prayer for his act of murder, and Umayr went back to his people. (Note: Some biographers suggest that Omayr was Asma’s former husband). Five days later, the Muslims celebrated the first Eid (the end of fasting)!
The Murder of Abu Afak at Medina by Salim b. ‘Umayr—April, 624CE
Abu Afak, a Jew of Medina was a very old man, about 120 years old. He was active in the opposition of Muhammad’s religion. He too, composed some satirical verses that annoyed the Muslims. One month after his victory at Badr, Muhammad showed his limit of tolerance to his intellectual opposition by expressing his wish to eliminate this old man. At his mosque, the apostle of Allah sought the service of a volunteer killer saying, ‘Who will deal with this rascal for me?’7 A convert by the name of Salim b.‘Umayr, brother of B. ‘Amr b.’Auf from the B. Amr tribe came forward to do the job. He killed Abu Afak with one blow of his sword when the latter slept outside his house. (Some say that Abu Afak was murdered first, then Asma). Ibn S’ad describes this gruesome murder in this way:
“He waited for an opportunity until a hot night came, and Abu ‘Afak slept in an open place. Salim b. ‘Umayr knew it, so he placed the sword on his liver and pressed it till it reached his bed. The enemy of Allah screamed and the people, who were his followers rushed him, took him to his house and interred him.”8
This perfidious murder alarmed all those in Medina who did not like Muhammad and his religion. The Jews were utterly terrified.
The Affair of al-Sawiq at Qarkarat al-Qudr by Muhammad—April, 624CE
This operation was a small reconnaissance by the Quraysh to gauge the strength and preparedness of Muhammad to launch further attacks on the Meccans. After suffering the ignominious defeat at Badr II at the hands of the emerging force of the Islamic Jihadists, Abu Sufyan b Harb, the Quraysh leader, vowed not to touch women until he had destroyed the tribes of al-Aws and al-Khazraj.9 He gathered two hundred mounted followers, took the eastern road through the Nejd and secretly arrived, by night, at the settlement of B. Nadir, a Jewish tribe. However, the Jewish chief Huwey refused him admission to the Jewish quarters. So Abu Sufyan took refuge with Sallam b. Mishkan (also known as Abu Rafi), another leading man of B. Nadir Jews. Sallam offered Abu Sufyan’s party a hospitable welcome at night, furnishing Abu Sufyan with the intelligence regarding Medina. At dawn, Abu Sufyan moved forward stealthily and arrived at the corn fields and palm gardens of Urayd, a place about two or three miles to the north-east of Medina. He burnt these farms and killed two farmers there. Then he returned to Mecca. Meanwhile, the news spread in Medina and the Muslims were alarmed. Muhammad followed in hot pursuit the Abu Sufyan’s army and went as far as Qarkarat al-Qudr. However, it was a fruitless pursuit. The Muslims collected some of the provisions thrown away by the Quraysh men on their return journey to Mecca to lighten the burden on their horses. The Muslims brought back this provision that was mostly barley, and as such, it is called the affair of Sawiq.
The Ethnic Cleansing of Banu Quaynuqa Jews from Medina by Muhammad—July, 624CE
The skirmish now became general and Muhammad made no attempt to mitigate the situation, nor did he try to bring the offending parties to justice. He immediately gathered his followers under the white banner in the hand of Hamzah and marched forward to attack the Jewish tribe. The Jews took shelter in their fortified apartments. So Muhammad laid siege and a full blockade was imposed. The siege lasted for fifteen days. The Jews were expecting help from their Khazraj allies. But the help did not come. So, the desperate B. Qaynuqa Jews had no choice but to surrender to Muhammad. Their hands were tied behind their backs and preparations were made for their execution. At this time, Abd Allah ibn Ubayy, the Khazarite and a new convert to Islam, (he was the nemesis of Muhammad at Medina, Muhammad calling him a hypocrite) intervened. He could not stand that his old faithful allies would be massacred in cold blood. He begged Muhammad for mercy, but Muhammad turned his face away. Abd Allah persisted. Finally, Muhammad yielded and let the prisoners escape execution. He then cursed the Jews and Abd Allah ibn Ubay with Allah’s punishment. Then Muhammad ordered the Jews of B. Qaynuqa to leave Medina within three days.18 They were led to exile by Ubadah b. al-Samit ibn Samit, one of the Khazarite leaders to as far as Dhubab. Then the Jews proceeded to Wadi al-Qura. There they got assistance from the Jewish inhabitants with carriage until they reached Adriat, a territory in Syria where they settled permanently.
Thus, the B. Qaynuqa Jews surrendered their arms and jewel-making machinery and were exiled from Medina. In this connection, Tabari writes: “Allah gave their property as booty to his Messenger and the Muslims. The Banu Qaynuqa did not have any land, as they were goldsmiths. The messenger of God took many weapons belonging to them and the tools of their trade.”
Thanks to Allah’s permission for booty and plunder, Muhammad and the formerly indigent Muslims were really on their way to become wealthy residents of Medina.
Bertrand Russell wrote a book called ”Why I am not a Christian”, and can hardly be labelled a pro-Christian. Still, he compared Islam to Communism and Fascism, not to personal faiths such as Christianity or Hinduism. He was quite right. Christianity is a religion. A religion with flaws and with a sometimes intolerant history, no doubt, but still a religion. Islam isn’t a religion at all. Islam is a totalitarian, political ideology, Fascism disguised as a religion. As such, it is by its very nature an enemy of our liberal, Western democracy. Islam CANNOT coexist with Western ways. That has some rather unpleasent implications for a European continent with millions of Muslim immigrants. Moderate Islam? Well, listen to these words of EU-wannabe Turkish PM Edrogan:
Reacting to the expression ''moderate Islam'' used by panelist Harmon, Erdogan said, ''Turkey is not a country where moderate Islam prevails. This expression is wrong. The word Islam is uninflected, it is only Islam. When you say moderate Islam, then there will be another alternative like nonmoderate Islam. As a Muslim, I can't accept such a concept. Islam rejects extreme concepts. I am not an extreme Muslim.''
There is no ”moderate” Islam, only Islam. Good to know.
Again, I would recommend bjørn and everybody else to read the book ”Leaving Islam . Apostates Speak Out” by Ibn Warraq. It is one of the best critical books about Islam ever written:
Sandy P | 2004-06-17 08:08 | Link
154 Jihad Verses in the Koran
I swear this discussion has come up before. I understand that you don't want to tar 1 billion people w/the same brush, Bjorn, however, the crickets are still chirping. Where are the moderates?
The religion tells us to submit or die. 1500 years of submit or die. 30 years of attacking the US and they finally got our attention on 9/11.
When someone tells you he intends to kill you, believe him.
The silence is deafening - where are the moderates to stop these fanatics? There are very small signs, but faster, please.
Ali keeps trying to tell you. The wackos keep telling you. The book tells you.
Wasn't there a fundie in Britain who said last week muslims do not vote and encouraged British muslims not to go to the polls?
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-17 14:26 | Link
Ali: You're still not answering my question, how exactly your beliefs about Islam are anchored in reality. I did not say that Christianity and Islam are the same, but from my own experience I know that there can be a great difference between a religion and its holy book. Christianity and Islam doesn't have to be similar to have a similar relationship to their books, ie. as something that is interpreted to fit the religion as much as the religion is adapted to the book.
To repeat: A religion is _whatever_ people do, say and believe in it's name. A religion is not its holy book, (this requires an irrational belief in mystical essences that somehow exist independently of the actual believers.)
So when I ask you to anchor your views in reality, I'm asking you to show how actual Muslims everywhere believe in the Islam you fear, and _act on that belief_. How many of the world's Muslims, if put a gun in their hand and placed in front of a random Jew, knowing that whatever they choose to do will go unpunished, would actually pull the trigger? How many of the world's Muslims, given a free vote in how their country should be organized, would vote for strict Shariah rule? How many would take up arms for a Muslim army with a fair chance of beating the United States? 1%? 10%? 90%? Are the numbers evenly distributed among countries?
If you don't know, take a guess based on the Muslims you know personally.
This is reality, the actual willingness of individual people worldwide to do what their holy book possibly encourages them to do. The Koran and every Islamic writing _ever made_ are ideas, not reality. They have power over reality, but only to the extent that people act on their ideas. So that's the question, do they? You can't show that by just quoting more and more ideas.
Sandy: This isn't about not wanting to tar groups of people. If 1 billion Muslims have a particular trait in common, or perhaps most of them, then we should say so. This is about _how we know_ that those Muslims have that in common. It's difficult enough to know that as it is - it's impossible to discern by reading Islamic writings alone. You also need to look at actual Muslims. Note that I'm not making a claim about what Muslims are like, only that you _can't know_ what Muslims are like by reading the Koran and other writings. I don't need to point out the moderates for you, just show that you can't know what you think you know based on that evidence alone. It's insufficient.
Everyone: Sorry about breaking my own rule about keeping the thread on topic.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC, USA | 2004-06-17 15:26 | Link
Well, for what it's worth, I know a half-Japanese Muslim woman in San Francisco who is explicitly Pagan-friendly and sex-positive and has no time for Sharia law or any other form of totalitarianism. The Muslims she knows are no more sympathetic toward terrorism than we are; and aside from normal maternal protectiveness, and a bit of BDSM leaning, she does not seem to have a single violent bone in her (decidedly un-burqa'd and incredibly hot) body.
She once made reference to the difference between "lesser Jihad" (the struggle against the evils of others) and "greater Jihad" (the struggle against the evil in oneself). Perhaps there is a bit of confusion between the two?
Michael Farris | 2004-06-17 17:16 | Link
If people want to discuss this matter (what is "real" islam, who are "Real" moslems) further then maybe a new thread is in order as it is pretty far afield from Reagan and the cold war (which seems to have run its course).
Sandy P | 2004-06-17 20:15 | Link
--She once made reference to the difference between "lesser Jihad" (the struggle against the evils of others) and "greater Jihad" (the struggle against the evil in oneself). Perhaps there is a bit of confusion between the two?--
Which country is the greatest tempter on earth?
There is no confusion when you look at it from that aspect.
Remove the outer evil America and western thought, democracy, voting, schooling, the personal struggle gets much easier. It's much easier to be pure and do as you're told by someone w/a 4th grade education.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC | 2004-06-17 20:24 | Link
She's been involved in some local volunteer work, but not political work, and she's not political in her interests - but yes, I see your point. There are far too few voices of dissent from the Wahabi line at this time.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-17 20:57 | Link
Yes, we could perhaps make a new thread about this topic, since this isn't what the headline is about.
Sandy P | 2004-06-17 21:59 | Link
Here's something else to transfer to the new thread, via Econopundit:
Must read at MEMRI -- Iranians battle among themselves ("conservatives" versus "reformists"?) over how to deflect Western objections to their nuclear programs. A little sample:
To repel the Western threat, Iran's conservatives are recommending intimidating Europe and the U.S. This is the backdrop to the following:
1. A growing number of reports about the recruitment and training of thousands of Iranian volunteers by Iran's Revolutionary Guards for suicide attacks against Western, European, and U.S. targets in Iraq, and their dispatch to Iraq...
The reformist circles, particularly those surrounding Iranian President Muhammad Khatami and the Foreign Ministry, are recommending a moderate strategy to be pursued via diplomatic channels. Over the past year, they have been negotiating with Britain, France, and Germany to have the Iranian dossier removed from the global agenda; during this time, they were apparently promised by these European powers that the dossier would be closed in exchange for an Iranian commitment to halt nuclear activities and to cooperate fully and transparently with the IAEA...
The release of this European draft resolution condemning Iran caused great disappointment in Iran, and brought on a storm of criticism, based first of all on the premise that Europe could not ultimately be trusted to go against its ally the U.S. Furthermore, the conservatives attacked the reformists' exclusive dependence on diplomatic channels, which had proven fruitless,...while the reformists criticized the conservatives for their recent recruitment of volunteers for suicide attacks on Western targets. The reformists explained their opposition to the institutionalization of such mass recruitment by stating that harming Europeans jeopardizes Iran's national interests at a time when Iran needs Europe's support to stand against the U.S. The reformists do not, however, object to suicide operations against Western targets, provided that they are carried out by individuals on their own initiative...
UPDATE: Here's a little more from the same report:
I read material like this and wonder how I can be living in the same universe as my buddies who divide their time between hating Bush and agonzing over global warming.
Sandy P | 2004-06-17 22:03 | Link
Of course, the usual grain of salt is required. But even 1 nuke, much less a couple of dozen....
Herbie, NYC | 2004-06-18 14:52 | Link
I think this debate has the wrong focus. The Koran is considered to be a literal dictation from the God to Angel Gabriel to Mohammed. In the 10 century the debate as to whether the Koran was subject to interpretation was closed and it was “agreed” that no interpretation was possible. True you can find conflicting statements and sentiment in the Koran and the Hidraths, but the statements concerning tolerance, acceptance and non-compulsion are NOT considered as authoritative as the aggressive and non-tolerant statements. It is for that reason, that there is little, if any commentary, in the Mosques that is critical of Islamic terrorists -- they have the ”better” and more orthodox religious foundation for their position. Indeed, there is almost no real confrontation taking place in Islam today to try and redefine it and the conflict that does take place is cast in terms of Western logic. For a wonderful, but unfortunately scarce example see the article in Pakistan Today “Israel - A State Of Mind” By: Tashbih Sayyed. http://www.paktoday.com/tashbih.htm
To compare the Bible (Old or New) to the Koran is a nonstarter. The Bible is largely metaphor and is so understood. True, it has examples of violence, but they are not dictated courses of action. Anything in the Bible that is considered a literal transmission from God is cast in largely negative characterizations of conduct, e.g. “thou shalt not murder.”
The Koran is the opposite and mandates an affirmative and violent response when confronted.
The difference between the Bible and the Koran is immense, unbridgeable and fundamental. The Bible (Old and New) teaches and the Koran directs -– no mandates as an affirmative obligation.
If the Bible were to change it would only change for the worse in my view e.g. “turn the other cheek . If the Islamic understanding of the Koran means does not change, e.g. “smite the infidel” then I do not see any options for the West except die or kill.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-18 15:26 | Link
Herbie: As I explained above, I did not compare the Koran and the Bible. I compared the relationship between the Koran and Islam to the relationship between the Bible and Christanity. Both are holy texts considered more or less the word of God. Both are no more than a fraction of the religions posterity have built around them. The purpose of that comparison was to show why we need an anchor from the world of ideas down to reality. So far noone has provided that anchor. You refer to what the Koran says - I'm interested in what Muslism believe. You refer to ancient discussions among Muslim scholars - I'm interested in the day-to-day application of those ideas to the lives of ordinary Muslims all around the world.
This is simple: Idea vs reality. Koran = idea, behavior/belief/speech = reality. Quoting the Koran _by itself_ says nothing about the reality of Islam - it can provide an explanation of _why_ Islam is as it is, but you need to show _what_ Islam is first, by observing and describing actual Muslims. Isn't anyone even going to try?
"If the Islamic understanding of the Koran means does not change, e.g. “smite the infidel” then I do not see any options for the West except die or kill."
Then you do not believe such an Islamic understanding exists, anywhere? Note that an Islamic understanding is whatever a Muslim claims to see in Islam - the monopoly of priesthoods as the authorities on religion is a great myth. And "die or kill"? This is where confusion about essences lead to. Your understanding of the Koran provides you with a map that you assume the terrain will obey, which makes it easy to overlook such obvious flaws as the vast majority of the world's Muslims who don't want to "kill" the West. A descriptive map - the only kind that's worth your money - must take those Muslims into account, which leads to the conclusion that "hm, some Muslims want to kill us. Others don't. Guess we're at war with Muslims who want to kill us, then." Which is much different from "The Koran tells Muslims to kill or convert infidels. Guess we're at war with Islam, then." The first is rational, the second is not.
Reader | 2004-06-18 16:32 | Link
"She once made reference to the difference between "lesser Jihad" (the struggle against the evils of others) and "greater Jihad" (the struggle against the evil in oneself). Perhaps there is a bit of confusion between the two?"
The problem is that the "greater" and "lesser jihad" stuff is just an apologia, a piece of taqqiya (religiously sanctioned lying) for confusing the unbelievers. It's not really supported by the scripture.
There is only ONE hadith in the Sunnah which quotes Muhammad referring to "struggle against the evil in oneself" as the "greater jihad."
There are simply dozens and dozens and dozens of hadiths, as well as Quranic verses, which make it plain that the primary definittion of "jihad" is a military endeavor.
Source of confusion? Well, if you've got 600 references to jihad as a militant, military endeavor in your holy scriptures and ONE reference describing it as something else, which would YOU believe was the "true" definition of "jihad"?
Reader | 2004-06-18 16:52 | Link
"Quoting the Koran _by itself_ says nothing about the reality of Islam - it can provide an explanation of _why_ Islam is as it is, but you need to show _what_ Islam is first, by observing and describing actual Muslims."
Bjorn: one question?
Do you believe that another type of political system besides Islam -- say -- Communism -- can be given a similar latitude? Do you believe that quoting from the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital says "nothing" about the reality of Communism and what Communists believe?
Once and for all, people need to get it into their heads, ****Islam is a political system just like Communism or Fascism.***
And just like Communism or Fascism, it has its rules of engagement, its theories of practice, all laid out in various texts.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC, USA | 2004-06-18 16:55 | Link
Whether or not the overwhelming majority of Muslims really believe all the military/terrorist jihad stuff, if we are to fight Islamofascism effectively, we must start with a simple divide-and-rule strategy: the more we are able to convince the rest of the world that our enemy is terrorism and Iran-style bullying, not Islam in general, the more allies and trust we will get; and the better chance we will have of isolating the hardcore militants from those less willing to see the world go up in flames. This is BOTH morally right AND good politics.
This focus will also encourage less-militant Muslims to join our side. (And this argument will be settled by how many of them ultimately join.)
I suspect that, if there is a struggle between "moderate" and "extremist" Muslims, victory will go to those who show the best results. Therefore, our first order of business is to make sure that extremism and bullying get only consistently bad results for their perpetrators.
Sandy p | 2004-06-18 17:43 | Link
Ahh, here's a moderate voice via the blogfather, Instapundit:
INTERESTING PIECE ON RADICAL ISLAM from Pakistan Today:
...Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo is instantly declared an apostate. An Islamist mind is a possessed mind - a condition that compels him or her to live to destroy others. An Islamist does not believe in living side by side with anyone who does not conform to his or her ideology. His life is a constant Jihad (holy war) to overwhelm and eradicate infidels.....
Someone lit a fire under Pervez. He gave a good speeck a few weeks ago to a graduating class about radical Islam.
Sandy P | 2004-06-18 17:47 | Link
speech, speech, speech, was typing w/o my glasses. Sorry.
Sandy P | 2004-06-18 19:25 | Link
Via Oraculations - yeesh:
AND THEN you cannot fake being a Muslim. A Muslim lives the religion 24 hours per day. Everything is a ritual set in stone, from going to the bathroom (you cannot face Mecca or turn your rear end to Mecca), you must wash in a certain way: wash the hands up to the wrists, rinse the mouth with water, clean the nostrils with water, wash the face from the forehead to chin and from ear to ear, wash the right arm and then the left one upto the elbows, pass the wet fingers on the head and in the ear holes, then wash first the right foot and then the left one up to the ankle - three times and in the exact order mentioned. And if someone is near you and sees you make an error....you have been busted. Every other daily activity from walking, entering and leaving a house, to combing the hair is strictly proscribed. Every Muslim has learned everything possible about the religion from all the dead imams and heroes going back to 636AD. A thirty year old Muslim has been learning about the religion for twenty five years, every day.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-18 20:22 | Link
Reader: "Do you believe that another type of political system besides Islam -- say -- Communism -- can be given a similar latitude? Do you believe that quoting from the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital says "nothing" about the reality of Communism and what Communists believe?"
But of course. When we talk about communism, we mean communism as it was/is actually practiced, by people who call themselves communists. We know that the writings of Marx have had a strong influence on communism, but we know that because we can observe how communists act, believe and talk, and compare that with the views of Marx. So Marx does not - _by himself_ - say anything about real life communism. Communism is the set of beliefs held by people who call themselves communists, and they all hold Marx in high regard. That's why you can learn about communism by reading Marx.
Turn it around: Why does the Communist Manifesto describe communism? Because it has the word "communist" in the title, because it somehow magically "is" communism (why?), or because every person who has ever called themselves a communist hold Marx in high regard?
"Once and for all, people need to get it into their heads, ****Islam is a political system just like Communism or Fascism.***"
Yes, it mostly is. How is that relevant? You're sidetracking. What I'm saying is that you can't show that a belief "is" something by just quoting from its holy text, you have to show that its believers actually believe in and act on it. This is a very simple claim, and it has nothing to do with whether Islam is a political system, or whether there are or aren't Muslim moderates. If Islam is a political system, it is because Muslims treat it that way, but that's independent of what I'm trying to say here: To describe Islam, you have to describe Muslims. Anything else is irrelevant.
| 2004-06-18 20:50 | Link
"If Islam is a political system, it is because Muslims treat it that way, but that's independent of what I'm trying to say here: To describe Islam, you have to describe Muslims. Anything else is irrelevant."
Sigh! This is like trying to describe the color blue to a blind man.
Fact: All Islamic-majority nations have Islam-based laws to one extent or another, and many of these laws are in direct contravention of human rights norms as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Fact: A very large number of Muslims do seem to support some sort of Islamic political influence. "Extremists" may support full-on applications of sharia such as in Saudi Arabia or Iran. "Moderates" may support partial sharia -- which, while it may not be as severely totalitarian as the Iranian or Saudi model, is still a significant violation of human rights, for women and non-Muslims.
Fact: Muslim immigrants to the West are increasingly seeking to implement sharia incrementally within our laws and social policies.
Conclusion: Muslim -- or at least the bodies that they have appointed to speak for them -- do indeed support the application of sharia, an apartheid-like system of discrinatory and collectivist laws.
(I am not including heterodox sects such as Ismailis, Alevis, and Druze in these assessments. None of these sects believe in sharia.)
Reader | 2004-06-18 20:55 | Link
Sorry, that was me above, responding to Bjorn.
Regarding Raging Bee's statement:
"This focus will also encourage less-militant Muslims to join our side. (And this argument will be settled by how many of them ultimately join."
Muslims are welcome to live in my country as secular citizens who respect secular law and equality of legal treatment for all citizens regardless of religious background.
But I will not give in to the blackmail of trading Western norms of democracy, civil discourse and polity for the "support" of "moderate" Muslims against the "extremists."
Open your eyes to what is going on.
New Guest, USA | 2004-06-18 22:14 | Link
"...you can't show that a belief 'is' something by just quoting from its holy text, you have to show that its believers actually believe in and act on it."
"To describe Islam, you have to describe Muslims. Anything else is irrelevant."
Have you been listening to what contemporary Muslims are saying and reading what they write? I've been combing the available sources for almost three years looking for Muslims who do not approve of "extremist" Islamic views and are willing to stand up against them - Muslims who refuse to make apologies for those who commit crimes in the name of Islam. I've seen plenty of those crowds of flag-burning, effigy-burning, candy-throwing, laughing, cheering, body-part collecting Muslim masses which may or may not be representative. Most of what I've read and heard confirms that a serious problem is inherent in the religion itself - in theory as well as in practice. Every now and then, a reasonable Muslim throws me a bone, but for the most part my search for good and ethical behavior with regard to all people, not just other Muslims, has been in vain. I'd say that, in general, the behavior does indeed coincide with the Islamic "ideas" that have been put forward by your opponents in this debate.
Reader | 2004-06-18 23:35 | Link
A recent poll of US Muslims found that more than 80 percent of them supported the implementation of fascist, apartheid sharia law.
Hedgehog | 2004-06-19 00:16 | Link
Reader, do you have a link for that poll?
Sandy P | 2004-06-19 01:58 | Link
They beheaded Johnson.
Milan/Redondo Beach CA | 2004-06-19 02:40 | Link
Man, this is a tough issue. Your nice-guyness comes through Bjorn. It seems like you're asking how many Angels fit on the head of a pin vis a vis doctrine and practitioners. I swear I've been looking in vain for more than a token number of Muslims to speak up worldwide against the fanatical members of their religion. There is some genuine, heartfelt sorrow, remorse and regret. But it seems statistically miniscule. It seems that their whole idealogical system is confronting modernity as shaped largely by the West (Which is obvious and pisses them off). How one thinks, one's cognitive system/s do influence how one acts in the world. This is so obvious when various cultures are viewed. Is it not possible that some cultures and ideaologies are dead-end ones? Is this what we are seeing now? Will they adapt? Muslim cultures have not evidenced adaptability. They might, but it looks like a rough ride for the rest of us.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-06-19 06:41 | Link
Although not all Muslims are Arabs, they set the tone. If you haven't already done so, please read The Closed Circle by David Pryce-Jones. He devotes hundreds and hundreds of pages to describe the shame-honor syndrome that runs Arab society. This syndrome leads to the support of the strong man by the ordinary people. Much of what we see happening among the jihadists and the regular people of Arab countries is explained by this syndrome.
It seems as if you are always trying to find the good in people, and therefore don't want to admit that there is a major problem among Muslims (Arabs) today.
Please look at this book before you waste more time trying to explain the bahavior of Arabs in Muslim countries. The majority of people in countries like Saudi Arabia will follow the winner, the proven strongest man. That is why polls from Saudi Arabia about supporting jihadism don't really mean much. If it looks like the jihadists are winning, they will be supported.
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-06-19 06:43 | Link
Ali Dashti, I am often curious about people who cherry-pick the Quran, particularly verse 2:191, the first to which you refer here. Are you aware that you have only quoted part of the verse, and if so, why did you do it? Are you aware of the context of the quote (self-defence against a particular threat) and if so, why did you take it out of context? I am also curious about your background.
2:191 in context:
The original transliteration of the verse:
Using the same translation you used, Yusuf Ali:
Note the repeated qualifications in these verses. 2:190 was the first time Allah (according to Islam) permitted fighting, and it was in the context of self-defence. The permission to use violence is specifically applied to those who already attacked Muslims and only applies while they continue aggression.
You quote the first _clause_ (not even the first sentence) of 191 then skip 192 and go straight on to 193. Why? Most people would guess that you are deliberately misrepresenting Islam. If so, why? If not, what were you thinking?
Ali Dashti, I agree with the thrust of what Bjorn is saying.
One needs only to read the holy book of any religion to see that what the book says and what the religion says are two different things. Take, for example, the case of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis. At one point a mob gathers outside Lot's house, intent on sodomising the two angels there. Lot offers his two virgin daughters in their stead, saying "do with them what is good in your eyes". At another point, Lot's daughters get him drunk and conceive children by him. Lot is described in the Bible as one of the most righteous of men.
See Genesis 19:8 and 19:34, 2 Peter 2:7-8
Ali Dashti I know you are neither a Christian nor Muslim believer (and neither am I), so my point here is not to show you that Christianity is "just as bad" or any such thing. The point is that last time I checked, Christianity did not advocate incest or allowing one's daughters to be pack raped. The Bible does, but Christianity does not.
It is true that Muslims consider the Quran to be the direct word of God. However, only some treat it as a political instruction manual. I've never heard anyone attempt to define Islamism (which encompasses such diverse categories as Wahhabism Salafism and the Taliban's perversion of Deobandi Hanafism). However, the closest the term comes to being useful is as shorthand for "political Islam"; the phenomenon in which the _religion_ of Islam is radicalised and converted into a _political_ ideology.
There are two categories of people who treat the Quran as a political instruction manual: Islamists and those who wish to blame terrorism on all Muslims. It's instructive that those are, in my experience, the two categories who systematically misquote the 2:190-2:195 sequence in the Quran. (You are in company with Usama bin Laden on this one).
The "baab al-Ijtihaad" (gates of interpretation) were declared closed after the death of the last "Great Imam", Ibn Hanbali, in 855AD. This meant that only areas of genuine contradiction could be interpreted, and then only by recognised mujtahidin - those who had studied in the madhhab of one of the four great imams to a certain level. Such study generally takes about a decade.
However, radical versions of Islam such as Wahhabism and Salafism have attempted to re-open the gates of interpretation (because the conventional interpretations did not allow them the excesses they desired). For example, when he was being tried for leading the terrorist group Takfir w'al-Hijra in Egypt, Mustafa Shukri called for a re-opening of the baab al-ijtihaad, and when asked what he thought of the madhhabs and scholars, he said that all that was required to understand the Quran was a dictionary.
In researching my recent thesis on radical Islam, I found that radical Islam (particularly Salafism) defines itself in _opposition_ to mainstream Islam and deliberately attacks traditional interpretations and forms.
I also found a direct ideological lineage between al-Qaeda and Takfir w'al-Hijra. Takfir, by the way, is "excommunication", and refers to the group's declaration of all other Muslims as kufr, non-Muslim infidels. As Bjorn says, there are over one billion Muslims who are not in the "Islamist" category, and in fact are considered as prime targets for conversion or killing by the terrorists.
[ True you can find conflicting statements and sentiment in the Koran and the Hidraths, but the statements concerning tolerance, acceptance and non-compulsion are NOT considered as authoritative as the aggressive and non-tolerant statements ]
What you are saying goes completely against what I have read in numerous sources, which include having read hundreds of rulings by traditionalist Islamic scholars. Please clarify your statement.
BarCodeKing | 2004-06-19 07:59 | Link
By their works shall ye know them.
Today, I don't see adherents of any other major religion committing terrorist acts against civilians. Today, I don't see adherents of any other major religion lopping off the heads of unbelievers in the name of their god. And while these despicable murderers may not represent all Muslims, a very large percentage of Muslims seem either to support those kinds of acts or refuse to condemn them. Their culture is pathological, and is antithetical to western liberal democracy.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-19 10:40 | Link
Reader: "Sigh! This is like trying to describe the color blue to a blind man."
Yes, it is difficult to make a convincing case about the truthfulness of a statement, especially about something as huge and complex as Islam. But don't blame me - I'm upholding these standards, but I didn't invent them. How do we know anything? By observing, hypothesizing and testing. If you can't observe the subject, there is no plan B of knowledge, no second best method that gives you a fair enough estimate. If you don't or can't observe, you _don't know_. So to describe Islam, we must observe Islam as it is, in real life.
Now you're speaking my language!
"All Islamic-majority nations have Islam-based laws to one extent or another, and many of these laws are in direct contravention of human rights norms as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
And yet many Muslims live peacefully in democratic nations such as India or the US. Not all of them, but many.
"Muslim immigrants to the West are increasingly seeking to implement sharia incrementally within our laws and social policies."
They are? I haven't heard any Norwegian Muslims advocate the introduction of Shariah, (and which form?) Perhaps they all do it in hiding, but then how do you know? Also the word "increasingly" is deceptive. An increase from 0,1 to 0,2 is irrelevant to an argument attempting to show something about the whole.
"Conclusion: Muslim -- or at least the bodies that they have appointed to speak for them -- do indeed support the application of sharia, an apartheid-like system of discrinatory and collectivist laws."
Alternative conclusion - Politically active Muslims often support Islamist ideas, but most Muslims adapt peacefully to whatever conditions they're born into.
New Guest: "Have you been listening to what contemporary Muslims are saying and reading what they write? I've been combing the available sources for almost three years looking for Muslims who do not approve of "extremist" Islamic views and are willing to stand up against them - Muslims who refuse to make apologies for those who commit crimes in the name of Islam."
I've followed this too, though not as closely as I used to. There is a shameful lack of public opposition among Muslims to their own extremists, a disturbing willingness to make excuses for evil behavior. "Yes, terrorism is wrong - but .." But can we conclude from this that Muslims who make excuses for Islamists are themselves Islamists at heart? Why?
But what is most important to remember here is that although almost all humans are capable of being religious, much fewer are capable of being ideologists. I think I can say with certainty that the vast majority of the world's Muslims care only superficially about anything beyond the affairs of their own family, clan or community. It's the same in the West, or anywhere. These are the Muslims that makes it impossible for me to accept a claim like "Islam is world war". And this is why it's false to say that Islam is always political. It can be, among those who are inclined towards politics, towards having opinions about how society should be organized, but most people just don't.
A lot of people here think I'm saying that because not all Muslims are Islamists, nobody are. I didn't say that, and it's odd that anyone would draw that conclusion.
Milan: "Man, this is a tough issue. Your nice-guyness comes through Bjorn."
This isn't about being nice. It's about being honest. This thread started because people made exaggerated statements about what Islam "is". Islam is world war. Islam has declared total and global war. This is based on a confusion about what it means to describe Islam, (essences vs reality), which I've tried to correct, not because I want to be nice, or because I believe in the best in people, but because it is _just not rational_ to say these things.
Totoro: "It seems as if you are always trying to find the good in people, and therefore don't want to admit that there is a major problem among Muslims (Arabs) today."
But I do admit that. Where have I said anything different? That there is a "major problem among Muslims (Arabs)" is a statement that is pretty well grounded in reality. That Islam is world war is not. We can't solve a problem we don't understand, and the very least we should do is describe it accurately.
Kaspar | 2004-06-19 12:35 | Link
The distinction between 'Islamism' and 'Islam' is a red herring. The term 'Islamism' is a product of Western discourse, and has no meaning in the Islamic world. The reality of Islam is on the ground. Ask the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians who are evacuating Iraq, the Jews who are under attack in France, the Kabyles in Algeria, the Christians of 'moderate' Indonesia, Buddhists in the south of Thailand, Hindus in Kashmir, Zoroastrians and Ba'hai in Iran (if you can still find any), native African Sudanese, and so on. These people don't have time to split theological hairs, because they're too busy trying to stay alive. You can waste your time trying to prove that a global religious insurgency has nothing to do with 'real' Islam, but your credibility will steadily evaporate as the violence continues to spread, and Muslims continue to deny responsibility for it.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-06-19 13:27 | Link
Kaspar: "You can waste your time trying to prove that a global religious insurgency has nothing to do with 'real' Islam, but your credibility will steadily evaporate as the violence continues to spread, and Muslims continue to deny responsibility for it."
Of course Islamism has something to do with real Islam, but it is not the whole of it. Do you believe that every Muslim in the world has a personal desire to install a strict Shariah regime in their country? If not, what I say is true, and there is a difference between Islam and Islamism.
There's a kind of all or nothing mentality here, (Islam is either a religion of peace or a religion of war), which indicates to me a lazyness about the definitions we use. Reality, as you say, is on the ground. So why do you accept the Islamist self-image as the guardians of real Islam? Priesthoods always create such myths. A rational outsider should see through that, and focus exclusively at Islam as actually practiced and believed in by actual Muslims - which is obviously often very different from the Islamist ideal.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-19 13:28 | Link
I agree that we have to name the real enemy to win this war. Which is why the name "War on Terror" is ridiculous. It's like Churchill labelling WW2 as a "war against blitzkrieg". Terrorism is a method. We have to go for the ideology behind it. Some have suggested naming this "Militant Islam". Problem is, ISLAM IN GENERAL is militant.
You people who talk about all these moderate Muslims you meet in Western countries: Some of them are secret Apostates. As ex-Muslims run a very real risk of being physically attacked, most stay quiet about their leaving Islam. Read some of the testimonies here, to see how many tell they are afraid to speak out:
I also notice that many of you obviously are unfamiliar with the term "Deceptive Jihad", taqiyya and kitman, which is what Muslims do when they are still "weak minorities" as they are - yet - in Western nations. Basically, it means lying and presenting their intentions as far more benign than they actually are, until they are in a strong enough position to use force:
Taqiyya and kitman - "Deceptive Jihad"
Al-taqiyya and dissimulation are words used for a practice of Muslims blatantly lying to non-Muslims. All but some of the most fundamental Muslims consider the act of Al-taqiyya or lying to non-Muslims to be a good work. It is very common practice for Muslims, especially leaders, to lie about the war against non-Muslims. Al Taqiyya is with tongue only; not the heart. A believer can make any statement as long as the 'heart is comfortable'. The 9/11 terrorists lived and visited in the United States for two years before the 9/11 attacks. How did they acculturate? By the use of taqiyya. Meaning: I hate you but I smile at you-in public. The theological principle of Takiyah means hiding one's true beliefs to confuse adversaries. Its political version is known as Kitman. The principle of sanctioning lying for the cause of Islam bears grave implications to the spread of the religion of Islam. Muslim activists employ deceptive tactics in their attempts to polish Islam's image. They carefully try to avoid, obscure, and omit mentioning any of the negative Islamic texts and teachings.
Muslims can use this loophole in their religion to absolve them from any accountability when they revert to deceptive tactics. They can unashamedly do so, as they adhere to Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, who was quoted as saying "War is a deception." The Allah of Islam is described in the Quran as "the best of deceivers." Surah 8:30
“The best proof of what I am saying is the 1984 world congress on ‘The Nonviolent Political Arab Struggle’ in Amman, that was nothing but hypocrisy and propaganda. In the congress documents in the English [version], they published my speech, but they removed it from the edition in Arabic!!! All this was in an attempt to deceive the Westerners, and not in order to educate the Arabs to peace.
Hassan Mousa asks his congregation in the mosque on Medborgarplatsen: “How long will you endure this humiliation of Muslims without reacting?” The strong criticism of America disappears in the subsequent translation to Swedish by the interpreter.
The largest mosque in Stockholm is spreading double messages. What the Imam says in his speech in Arabic doesn't match how the text is interpreted in Swedish.
It is Friday prayer in the mosque on Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm. Every week some 2 000 Muslims gather here to listen to Sheik Hassan Mousas sermon. He is the highest Imam in the mosque.
Minutes later the Swedish translation of the speech is read by an interpreter. In Swedish, the American torture of Iraqi prisoners is condemned, but at the same time the translator emphasizes earlier good works for Muslims done by the US, among others in Bosnia. Not a word on how America is raping Islam, is the enemy of Islam and wants Muslims to be humiliated and under submission.
Afterwards the Imam Hassan Mousa admits that his sermon was harsh. But at the same time he denies that the mosque on Medborgarplatsen spreads double messages. That the Swedish translation didn't match the original Arabic is not a conscious strategy according to him. “It just happened. Arabic is a much richer language than Swedish. It's impossible to translate everything."
Quote from the interpreter's Swedish translation of the Imam's sermon:
Trevor, Melbourne | 2004-06-19 13:40 | Link
You are essentially saying "All As Bs therefore all Bs are As".
"All apples are pieces of fruit therefore all pieces of fruit are apples." What about oranges?
"All terrorists are Muslims, therefore all Muslims are terrorists." Not so.
[ Today, I don't see adherents of any other major religion committing terrorist acts against civilians ]
Then you're not looking.
Leaving aside the terrorist attacks committed in the name of religion by groups such as Sikhs, Hindus and Jews, let's look at Christians.
The Ku Klux Klan advocate violence in the name of Christianity and race. Sure, most Christians (and white people) are not Klansmen, but then most Muslims are not members of al-Qaeda. Several Mormon sects have revived the Mormon teaching of blood atonement. Sure, most Christians consider Mormonism to be either a breakaway from Christianity or at least very unconventional - but this is the same as the view most Muslims take of al-Qaeda and other Jihadi-Salafi groups. Let's also not forget the sectarian terrorism in Ireland - which is not indicative of the feelings of most Christians or most Irish.
You say that you don't hear Muslims denouncing terrorism. I've heard and read dozens of such denunciations, and I have friends who are Muslim who denounce Islamic terror. When was the last time you heard a Christian denouncing Klansmen or Mormons? Why would they? And why would the average Muslim spend his or her time denouncing al-Qaeda?
Radical Islam is vocal and visible - its words and actions are broadcast because it uses the religion as a political ideology. Those Muslims who don't view their religion as a political ideology rarely make public and visible political statements.
When a Muslim engages in "Greater Jihad" (internal struggle against one's own sins) in the name of Islam, nobody hears it. When a radical Islamist engages in "Lesser Jihad" (warfare) in the name of Islam, we all know about it.
[ Their culture is pathological, and is antithetical to western liberal democracy.]
Their culture or their religion? If 'their' culture, whose culture? Muslims belong to many cultures.
I agree that many communities in the Muslim world, and in the third world generally, retain harsh cultural practices. These practices are frequently linked to tribes, Islam, Western intervention etc., but they are also explained by simple third world backwaters intolerance. This is similar to the sort of backwaters intolerance that brought the KKK into being. This same phenomenon explains how such barbaric practices occurred during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation, and why the brutal imperatives of Communism have found their most fertile soil in third world countries accustomed to despotism, contrary to Marx's predictions. Much of the barbarism, including terrorism, in the Middle East, has been carried out by secular groups that adhere to Western forms, such as the PLO.
Criticise Islamic terrorists for being terrorists, not for being Muslims.
A short list of anti-terrorist Muslim pages:
Kaspar | 2004-06-19 14:32 | Link
Bjorn, what I believe about the intentions of the rapidly growing Muslim populations in the West is irrelevant. The facts about the way non-Muslims have always been treated by their Muslim conquerors speak for themselves. The fact that non-Muslims are treated as 'dhimmis', slaves, or simply as 'unclean' isn't an accident, it's one of the central tenets of mainstream Islam, and always has been. This explains why 95% of the Saudis who were polled about the 9/11 attacks thought they were a good idea, and why CAIR has stated that its aim is to make Islam the highest authority in the USA. Islamic supremacy and Jihad are core beliefs, and the reason why a billion Muslims aren't fighting in the frontline is the same reason that I watch my favourite football team from the comfort of my sofa rather than go to the effort and expense of attending the matches.
Kaspar | 2004-06-19 15:10 | Link
Of course, due to the malign influence of Western concepts such as equality and human rights, even some Saudis are beginning to wonder if it's really Islamic to behead foreign workers like Paul Johnson:
But Frank Gardner of the BBC wasn't in any doubt about the attitudes of the ordinairy Muslims who were passing by after he was sprayed with bullets. That's why he shouted, "Help me, I'm a Muslim", as he lay bleeding on the ground.
PBUH - Pooh Bear | 2004-06-19 16:24 | Link
We don't have to debate what is the real Islam.
What we can say is that there is the body of law known as Shariah which Islamic teachers are generally agreed on and which they think should be extended to the whole planet.
The question is: do most Muslims want to see this body law applied to their society (i.e. wherever they live). I believe that, unfortunately, the great majority do. Perhaps most Muslims in the West don't want to engage in violence to see Shariah installed, but they do want Shariah - and that makes them enemies of democracy, freedom and free speech.
PBUH - Pooh Bear.
Trevor, Melbourne | 2004-06-19 16:54 | Link
[ the name "War on Terror" is ridiculous. It's like Churchill labelling WW2 as a "war against blitzkrieg". Terrorism is a method. ]
My take on "The War on Terror" is that it is a global 'war' in the same way the Cold War was. The two sides in the Cold War sought to discredit the viability of each other's ideologies and the War on Terror seeks to discredit terrorism as a method of political change. Terrorism has been increasingly seen by revolutionaries as the most viable method for political change. If terrorism consistantly fails to achieve its goals, it will be less credible to young revolutionaries in future generations - revolution will be replaced by reform.
[ We have to go for the ideology behind it. Some have suggested naming this "Militant Islam". Problem is, ISLAM IN GENERAL is militant. ] [ You people who talk about all these moderate Muslims you meet in Western countries: Some of them are secret Apostates. ]
This is why I am curious about your background. If you came from a family/cultural background that was militant and exercised takiya, you could be convinced that militancy is 'true' Islam, and dismiss non-militant Muslims as either liars or impious Muslims even as you condemn the militancy yourself.
An aside: Since researching my thesis I've dropped the terms "moderate Islam" and "extreme Islam". Muhammad Atta downed a few beers before he destroyed the world trade centre, whereas some of the most pious Muslims quiver in disgust at Atta's invocation of Islam to justify that crime.
It should be noted that your line of argument on Takiya (that the so-called moderates are just lying) means that if you were wrong, it would be almost impossible for anyone to demonstrate that error. If 90% of the Muslim world genuinely is opposed to militancy, whereas the other 10% employs takiya, it can convincingly but incorrectly be argued that all 100% are militants employing takiya. Any quotation by non-militants will be dismissed as takiya. It doesn't matter that those who support wahhabism or salafism consistently attempt to takfir - excommunicate - the Sufis and traditionalists, or that the traditionalists condemn the radicals as being deeply misguided and sinful. The anti-Muslim can argue - without fear of contradiction - that whatever any Muslim says is part of a vast, unified conspiracy by 1.2 billion people to disguise their plan to annihilate the 4.8 billion non-Muslims. That over one billion Muslims are evidently failing to act on this imperative is simply glossed over.
One thing I have found particularly convincing has been reading what the militants say about other Muslims, and their condemnation of those Muslims' non-militancy. I also subscribe to a fiqh ruling list on Yahoo! Groups. Because Hanafi traditionalists come from the Indian subcontinent and the group must communicate across linguistic-cultural gaps, these rulings are almost exclusively in English. Although I find some of their prescriptions unpleasant, I find a lot that is positive and tolerant. The scholars on that list have repeatedly stated that the radical salafis and wahhabis are mistaken in their understanding of Islam, and that the Taliban are simplistic and extreme in their practices. I have read Muslim scholars telling their questioners that it is better to live under a just, non-Muslim ruler than under an unjust Muslim ruler. Traditionalists also state that the secular laws of Western countries must be obeyed provided those laws don't bring the Muslim directly into conflict with his religion - he may compromise where there is genuine necessity.
On the topic of takiya and the supposed naivety of us non-Muslims, I can assure you that I have identified two-faced Wahhabi-sympathising individuals and groups here in Australia, some with a considerable public profile. These people drip takiya, switching between points of view seemlessly. I recently found out that the groups I had my eye on are the only ones not part of the Islamic Council of Victoria. Nonetheless, these individuals have been presented by major Australian news publications as "Muslim community leaders". Saudi-funded radicals have been very successful in infiltrating Muslim communities in the West. Radical Islam has its hands around the throat of Islam and it is squeezing. It benefits the radicals for us to believe Islam itself is at fault.
Ali Dashti, I have no reason to doubt your claims about Imam Hassan Mousa, but I do have reason to doubt your implication that all Muslims are liars.
Finally, I would like you to answer the direct questions I asked about your misquotation of the Quran. Did you know you were perverting the meaning of 2:191 and 2:193 by editing them? If so, why did you do it? Please do reply to these genuine and important questions.
OT: A Norwegian court has announced there is insufficient evidence to continue a case against Mullah Krekar. However, his expulsion order still stands. Any comments anyone?
My most recent blog post is also on a Scandinavian theme, concentrating on Sweden's vote in the EU Parliament election.
 Explanatory note: Traditional Sunni Islam avoids takfir (excommunication). When a traditionalist appends the phrases "may Allah guide him" or "may Allah forgive him" after a Muslim's name, it is a sign he finds the person to be misguided or sinful. The traditionalist considers it above his humble station to pre-empt Allah by declaring a fellow Muslim kufr. This has not stopped strong insults being traded across the Internet between, for example, Sufis and wahhabis.
Rob (connecticut USA) | 2004-06-19 17:35 | Link
"I say that Islam is whatever people do, say and think in Islam's name. .... Islam and Islamism are the same only if Islamists act and think the same way as other Muslims. They don't. It doesn't matter what the Koran supposedly tells Muslims to do, those commandments are part of real Islam only to the extent that they're actually followed."
Your conclusion that Islam is what (most) Muslims do, and that since they don't act like Islamists, Islamism must not be true Islam, is incorrect, because it ignores a critical question: Do most Muslims view the Islamists as the 'true' Muslims, whose example they ought to emulate but are unable to, or do they view Islamists as an abberation to be exercised from the body of Islam?
The facts suggest that most Muslims at least are willing to tolerate the Islamists, if not actively support them.
That suggests to me that for Muslims, the Islamists are at least not outside the mainstream of what constitutes acceptable Islam.
Trevor Stanley | 2004-06-19 17:36 | Link
Yes, I find this frustrating. Wahhabis, Salafis and the Taliban are theologically distinct, but that doesn't stop westerners from conflating them, such as by using the term "Islamism". You don't improve this gross oversimplification by erasing one of the few distinctions that most people make when they attempt to understand Islam.
[ The reality of Islam is on the ground. Ask the Copts in Egypt, the Assyrians who are evacuating Iraq ]
Don't you think it's strange, Kaspar, that those populations have been in those Muslim-majority countries for _~1400_years_, despite being surrounded by people who, according to your account, wanted to annihilate them? Don't you wonder what took them so long?
Isn't it possible that this is a _new_ phenomenon?
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-19 18:34 | Link
"Note the repeated qualifications in these verses. 2:190 was the first time Allah (according to Islam) permitted fighting, and it was in the context of self-defence. The permission to use violence is specifically applied to those who already attacked Muslims and only applies while they continue aggression."
9:5, But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem.
9:29, Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
About the principle of abrogation:
The Existence of Abrogating and Abrogated Verses in the Qur'an
Among the verses in the Qur'an containing orders or laws, there are verses that abrogate verses previously revealed and acted upon. These abrogating verses are called nasikh and those whose validity they terminate are called mansukh.
For example, at the beginning of the Prophet's mission, Muslims were ordered to cultivate peace and friendship with the people of the Book, "Forgive and be indulgent (towards them) until God gives command," [II:109]. Some time later, fighting was allowed and the order to establish peace was abrogated: Fight against such as those who have been given the Book but who believe not in God nor the last day, and do not forbid that which God has forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth ... [XI:29]
The common notion of abrogation, that is, a cancelling of one law or code by another, is based on the idea that a new law is needed because of a mistake or shortcoming in the previous one. It is clearly inappropriate to ascribe a mistake in law-making to God, Who is perfect, and whose creation admits of no flaws.
However, in the Qur'an, the abrogating verses mark the end of the validity of the abrogated verses because their heed and effect was of a temporary or limited nature. In time the new law appears and announces the end of the validity of the earlier law. Considering that the Qur'an was revealed over a period of twenty-three years in ever-changing circumstances, it is not difficult to imagine the necessity of such laws.
A mujtahid should have the knowledge of nasikh and mansukh (abrogating and abrogated), i.e., which one out of two contradictory and opposite texts is later in revelation. This might have occurred due to change of a rule, replacement, withdrawal or omission. It is not necessary to remember all such texts. But one must enquire the text related to the concerned issue. Past scholars have done a lot of work about an-Nasikh, and have listed all such verses and hadiths. Now it is not difficult to find it out anytime.
The Abrogator and Abrogated Qur’anic Verses
The Qur'an on Naskh
'None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause it to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: knowest thou that God has power over all things?' (2: 106). [Some however say that this refers to the revelations before the Qur’an, which have now been substituted by the Qur’an itself. See Mawdudi. The Meaning of the Qur’an, Lahore, 1967, Vol. I, p.102. note 109.]
How it came about
'No Compulsion in Religion' Vs. 'The Verse of the Sword'
"The conference participants, particularly the [PA-appointed] Jerusalem mufti Sheikh 'Ikrima Sabri, stressed Islam's tolerance, and said that Islamic history was full of [examples] of tolerance towards other religions. As usual, they cited Koranic verses such as 'There shall be no compulsion in religion' [2:256] and 'Contend with them on the basis of that which is best' [16:125]. But in other venues, most [of the speakers] have insisted that these verses are abrogated by the 'verse of the sword' [9:5]. 
Sandy P | 2004-06-19 21:46 | Link
Until the crickets stop chirping, they will be tarred w/the same brush.
One of WWII's most decorated US units was made up of Japanese-Americans.
LGF has a post up from the last week or so of another Norweigan - not Bjorn's - view of Sweden and muslims. It's a corker.
And pay attention to Canada, instituted sharia for civil disputes, but some muslim women aren't happy. And they're fighting it.
--until they pay the Jizya with willing submission--
hell will freeze over first.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-06-19 22:46 | Link
You mention the Copts in Egypt as an example of Muslims not destroying Christians. But the Copts and all other non-Muslims are dhimmis, subject to special taxes and treatment, according to the Koran. That is part of Islam, not some side issue.
Trevor Stanley | 2004-06-19 22:48 | Link
If you believed that 2:191 had been abrogated, why did you quote any of it? The question is why you took seven words out of a 56 word verse when the later words specifically contradicted the impression your excerpt was designed to create. Either the verse is relevant and you truncated it, or it is not relevant yet you still included an invalid verse - then truncated it. I didn't take 2:191 out of context by not quoting the entire Quran - you are the one who brought it up.
As you acknowledge, some Muslims do not believe that abrogation applies to previous revelations within the Quran, but to previously revealed books. So for those Muslims, the specific instructions from Allah that violence is only permitted in self-defence are still absolute.
Furthermore, naskh is applied as a way of reconciling contradictions. But if a verse (2:191) serves both to permit violence and to define its limits, why should it be assumed that any further verse that permits violence then abrogates those limits?
Your comments imply that you are aware that some Muslims adhere to the self-defence implications of 2:191 - in other words, Islam is not a necessarily unjust religion.
After 2:191, the next two most commonly quoted verses on this topic are 9:5 and 9:26, and unsurprisingly you brought them up.
I have referred to my own notes on Maulana Muhammad Ali's commentary on 9:5. I don't have specific notes on 9:26, and I don't have an annotated Quran handy.
Maulana Muhammad Ali is careful to stress that the words "slay the idolators, wherever you find them," (and in fact the whole sequence) specifically refers to the non-Muslim Arabs who had established a treaty with the Muslims and then broken it. Specific instructions were given to slay them as they assembled with the other tribes for hajj. There are various adjoining references, such as "Surely Allah loves those who keep their duty" in both 9:4 and 9:7.
MMA also refutes claims that 9:5 instructs a kill or convert policy, but rather "not all idolaters or polytheists wherever they may be found in the world, not even all the idolaters in Arabia, but only those idolatrous tribes of Arabia assembled at the pilgramage who had first made agreements with the Muslims and then violated them." The revelation was therefore saying that these particular people would not be trusted again until they made a more significant commitment, namely conversion.
In other words, at least some Muslims consider 9:5 not to be a general abrogation of 2:191, nor an open-ended commandment to kill all pagans. My impression is that in fact the majority of Muslims do not believe 9:5 charges them with the obligation to convert infidels at the point of a sword. So in fact, Islam is not a necessarily aggressive religion (although clearly there are some who treat it as such).
[ Again, the development both in the Koran and in the Sunna clearly shows the trend that Islam is only "tolerant" as long as it is in a "weak" position and lacks to capability of using force. As soon as it becomes stronger, it becomes successively more violent and less tolerant. ]
That roughly paraphrases the interpretation of most of the radical terrorist offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood. Incidentally, Al-Jihad's founder Muhammad Abdus Salam Faraj specifically rejected the notion of the period of weakness in his book al-Farida al-Ghaibha (The Neglected Duty) - which shows that not even the terrorists can agree on the correct interpretation of the Quran. Incidentally, the "duty" Faraj's book claims has been neglected is Jihad - because Sunnis do not consider Jihad to be a pillar of Islam. The book was written around 1980.
It's interesting that Maulauna Maududi's name comes up as a general reference for a fairly mundane piece of information that could have been found in any textbook. Maududi was the Muslim Brotherhood-influenced Pakistani Salafi who gave Sayyid Qutb the ideas of the New Jahiliyya and separation during the time of weakness that are the basis of most Sunni radical terrorist organisations to this day. Maududi founded Jamaat-i-Islami, the progenitor of two of the most important mujahideen factions in Afghanistan - including Hikmatyar's Hizb-e-Islam (currently the third party in the Taliban-AlQaeda alliance). Mawdudi wrote "Four Technical Terms of the Quran", in which he clinically set aside all current understandings of Islam in order to systematically build a new picture of what the Quran and ahadith were "really" saying about authority and hierarchy. Little wonder that the Mujahideen parties he spawned were regarded by many in Afghanistan as having an alien structure more akin to communist cells than to a traditional Muslim party. It's ironic to see Maududi being cited as a source on "The Meaning of the Quran" in a debate over the meaning of Islam to ordinary Muslims, most of whom Maududi considered to be in a state of pre-Islamic ignorance (jahiliyya).
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-06-19 23:03 | Link
I'm not launching an apologia for Shariah law, or evangelising for Islam.
My specific point was that there is an inconsistency in Kaspar's argument. You can't refute the argument that the current violent attacks on non-Muslims is a particularly modern development by pointing to the contemporary exodus of Christians from Middle Eastern countries where they have been living for over a millenium. Why was there no exodus before?
If Islam always has and always will practise extermination of non-Muslims "wherever you find them", there would be no exodus today because there would be no Copts or Assyrians left in Muslim countries.
| 2004-06-19 23:56 | Link
You need to read the works of Bat Ye'or, and others.
During the days of the Caliphate entire populations of dhimmi -- Christian and Jewish -- were moved about. Where were people to flee? Many Christians in Asia Minor fled to the Byzantine Empire while it still held. Many in Spain when the moors came fled northward, ultimately to France -- there is a tradition in my own family that our origins were Roman Spaniards who left for France when the moors came, and that an ur-ancestor fought with Martel at Tours.
The crusades themselves were initially a response to Moslem depredations against the dhimmi Christians as well as to misuse of the holy places.
By the time of the Ottomans, it was a crime punishable by death for the dhimmi to try to escape. Remember, the dhimmi were unarmed and not permitted horses, and the Ottomans were ruthless in killing whoever displeased them.
At the end of the 19th and in the early 20th centuries, wherever possible, the dhimmi == Christian and Jewish == populations did in large measure flee from Islamic control.
So the answer to your question why didn't they flee before now is: they did whenever they could.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-20 00:37 | Link
Trevor: Frankly, my dear, you remind me a great deal of well-known Islamic apologist by the name of Esposito. And I'm sorry, but I didn't mean that as a compliment.
"Furthermore, naskh is applied as a way of reconciling contradictions. But if a verse (2:191) serves both to permit violence and to define its limits, why should it be assumed that any further verse that permits violence then abrogates those limits?"
Well, have you ever read any of the Sunna, and the history of the early Muslims? The Sunna very clearly supports my reading of the Koran, not yours. ALL of the military campaigns Muhammed was involved in were more or less aggressive, with one single exception (The Battle of the ditch). I mentioned the assassinations done by Muhammed's thugs in an earlier post. Asma bint Marwan, the single mother who was stabbed to death in her sleep for SAYING something against Islam, was that an act of defense, too?
And just how does one define self-defence? As sharia is considered an integral part of Islam by the vast majority of Muslims, denying Muslims the "right" to follow their religious laws in Western countries would by many be seen as an "attack" on Islam. Who decides what is an "attack" on Islam that requires a Jihad in response? When Muslims are not allowed to have their own prayer rooms in European schools? When female teachers are not allowed to wear the hijab while working? When Muslim males are denied their "right" to have more than one wife? When, Trevor?
The entire history of Muhammed's gang after they left Mecca is aggressive. Why didn't they just stay in Medina to practice their religion? Why did they have to ATTACK the Meccans and the entire rest of the Peninsula, and even outside of it?
Kaspar | 2004-06-20 00:56 | Link
Dhimmitude didn't necessarily entail extermination, because it provided an easy source of income for the Muslim invaders. Violent death was always an option though, dependent on the whim of the local caliph, or the mood of the Islamic mob. Exodus from lands conquered by Islam was continuous, though Jews often fared worse under Christian rule than as dhimmis. The current resurgence of Islam is not a departure from its history, it's the end of the hiatus that started when Jan Sobieski repelled the Muslim invaders at Vienna in 1683.
New Guest,USA | 2004-06-20 17:00 | Link
Trevor Stanley: "Don't you think it's strange, Kaspar, that those populations have been in those Muslim-majority countries for _~1400_years_, despite being surrounded by people who, according to your account, wanted to annihilate them? Don't you wonder what took them so long?"
They didn't want to annihilate them. They wanted to subjugate them. They only kill (or refuse protection to, which amounts to the same thing) those who refuse to be subjugated.
Trevor Stanley: "Isn't it possible that this is a _new_ phenomenon?"
No. It is as old as Islam.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-06-20 17:33 | Link
Ali Dashti: I find it interesting that you start using ad hominem attacks aganist Trevor, when he actually argues quite well. Your flip about "you remind me a great deal of well-known Islamic apologist by the name of Esposito" is nothing but irritating for one that is trying to follow this - in my opinion - very interesting exchange of arguments.
Trevor: I find your arguments very interesting, please go on. The same also goes to Ali Dashti.
Personally I whipped up the three translations of the Qur'An available at http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/ , and specifically chapter 9. As a person not educated about Islam, nor having read the complete Quran any time - I found the thirty first verses extremely disturbing and violent.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-20 19:04 | Link
Rune: "Ali Dashti: I find it interesting that you start using ad hominem attacks aganist Trevor, when he actually argues quite well. Your flip about "you remind me a great deal of well-known Islamic apologist by the name of Esposito" is nothing but irritating for one that is trying to follow this - in my opinion - very interesting exchange of arguments."
My main argument still stands: The Koran becomes progressively more aggressive in time. It is unforunately hard to see for the average reader, as the chapters (and sometimes even the verses) in the Koran are not ordered chronologically. If the Koran, and Muhammed's personal example had been limited to the period in Mecca only, Islam actually wouldn't have been too bad. Not something I would believe in myself, but also not a creed I would have so strong negative reactions to as I do. In Mecca, Muhammed and the early Muslims had little political power and were generally non-violent. The suras of the Koran were more concerned with the hereafter and with a personal relationship with Allah than with worldly. The situation in Medina quickly beacme VERY different.
I Medina, Muhammed became a political leader, not just a religious one. The "revelations" changed, and got more aggressive and concerned with Jihad and violence. The "Muslims" were not very much more than common thieves and highway robbers, and earned their wealth from plundering and robbing caravanes. Political opponents were assassinated, even poets who did nothing more criminal than "mocking" Muhammed's teachings (Which some would argue means that killing people for criticizing Islam is part of the sunna). This is also the main difference between Christianity and Islam, and the reason why Christianity could after some struggle be reformed, while Islam probably cannot be reformed. Christianity started out as a non-violent movement completely separated from the state. The personal example of the founder himself is non-violent. I have heard some argue that if Jesus in ONE single incident had asked any of his diciples to physically attack somebody for mocking his teachings, Christianity would have been impossible to reform. There was, of course, the incident of "cleansing the Temple", but even there it doesn't explicitly say that Jesus harmed anyone.
Contrast this to Muhammed's behavior:
the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (milch) camels and told them to go out and drink the camels’ urine and milk (as a medicine). So they went and drank it, and when they became healthy, they killed the camel herder and drove away the camels. This news reached the Prophet early in the morning, so he sent (some) men in their pursuit and they were captured and brought to the Prophet before midday. He ordered their hands and legs to be cut off and their eyes to be branded with heated iron pieces and they were thrown at Al-Harra, and when they asked for water to drink, they were not given water.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-20 20:09 | Link
I forgot to mention that there was a Muslim reformist who wanted to elevate the Meccan chapters of the Koran above the Medinan ones. His name was Mahmous Mohamed Taha, from the Sudan. He was executed in 1984 as an apostate. There is a book about his teachings available in English, called "The Second Message of Islam". One of very few Muslim reformers worth reading. Bassam Tibi might be another one.
I believe the only way you could possibly reform Islam is to more or less ignore the entire Medina period, both in the Koran and in the sunna. As this is pretty difficult, it is unlikely, in my point of view, that Islam can be reformed. If I'm right, this will have a lot of nasty consequences in the very near future. Islam will quite simply break down, and the ripples will be felt across the planet. Not the least in Europe, with so many Muslim immigrants.
Also read Amir Taheri's article "Islam Is Incompatible With Democracy":
Muslims should not be duped into believing that they can have their cake and eat it. Muslims can build democratic society provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolise the pubic space and regulate every aspect of individual and community life. Islam is incompatible with democracy.
Sylvia, Denver | 2004-06-21 00:49 | Link
I have found this conversation to be quite
I had read sometime ago - I think on the blog "Armed and Dangerous" that Islam may in fact be a heretical variant of early Eastern Orthodox Christendom, that Muhammad may have been from a nominally Christianized tribe. This may explain the references to the Virgin Mary, as well as other references - I believe to a Eucharist? That Islam may in fact have started as a cut n' paste of early Christian texts (which would have included bits of the old testament), combined with local pagan beliefs, and later, whatever suited the brigands who took this up.
In fact, I have wondered if Islam is actually some varient of Greco/Euro early Medieval Crusader Christendom - minus the Christendom part that got in the way of so many "noble" ambitions.
I have also read somewhere that Mohammed aquired his descent from Ishmael through conversion. Is this true? If he robbed caravans, and the caravan drivers were said to be the original Ishmaelis, wouldn't Mohammed have been from some other group?
Question: Who really was Mohammed? What was his real ethnicity ?(sounds sort of like an Indian Thuggee, actually). Who was his mother? Is this even known, and if not why not? Was she a slave? Who was his father?
Mohammed hated women, this is clear despite appologies to the contrary. Women are slaves, who's marriage vows are essentially worthless. Her children worth no more that a concubine's. That's odd, historically, in that part of the world. (also the directive not to kill female babies - not out of caring but perhaps because they are more valuable if sold?)Was Mohammed from a slave-trader clan?
How can you reform something like this? It sounds like a cult that filled a power vacuum in the region. Slave-trader brigands writ global. Christianity reformed itself from within, but Islam seems to have installed contingency measures to prevent that from happening. Even if you are not an active member of a cult, silence itself supports Dear Leader. The supremacist ideology of the Arabs doesn't help, like people who aren't active Nazis (only because it may not be politically expedient), but still quietly buy into the supremacist doctrine. Where did this supremacist doctrine come from? Sounds like the Romans - I kid you not.
Thanks for any input you can give me on this.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-21 02:18 | Link
Hello, Sylvia. The relationship of Islam to Christianity is too complex to be described in a few sentences. First of all, the Trinity in the Koran is described as the Father, Jesus and Virgin Mary! That doesn't really indicate that Muhammed had a very deep understanding of Christian theology, does it? But he was employed as a merchant by his first wife, and travelled to countries like Syria. He did have some contacts with Christians.
On the other hand, in some books like Ibn Warraq's "What the Koran really says", some scholars argue that parts of the Koran is indeed based upon certain Eastern Christian texts written in the Syriac language. One of the things people never tell you is that large chunks of the Koran, some claim as much as 20%, is simply incomprehensible to educated, native Arabs, and was so even in the Middle Ages. The curious thing is that some sections make more sense if you read them in Syriac, a Semetic language related to Arabic.
Regarding Muhammed: He was an Arab, and he was not a slave. His father Abdullah died before Muhammed was born. His mother died when he was six years old, and he thus became an orphan. He was placed in the care of his grandfather Abd al-Muttalib and, after 578, of his uncle Abu Talib, who succeeded as head of the Hashim clan. Abu Talib was his strongest protector until the day he died. The Hashim clan Muhammed belonged to was part of the powerful Quraysh tribe that ruled Mecca, but it was not its most powerful branch. Muhammed spent a lot of his childhood alone in the desert, herding goats.
The best and most insightful account of Muhammed's childhood and how it may have affected his psyche and his desires as an adult is written by the Iranian apostate Ali Dashti, in his book "23 years". Ali Dashti was tortured by the Khomeini regime as a heretic, and died in prison while in his 80s. It is an excellent book, but you should know at least a little bit of early Islamic history to fully appreciate it.
About reformation: As I said, I doub't whether Islam can be reformed. I just don't see any how it can be done. I do hope I'm wrong though, as the possible implications are worrisome. The next 30-40 years of Europe's history, and several other regions' history, will be very difficult. Muslims today make up about 10% of the population in France, and the percentage is rising fast. If their culture and religion should turn out to be irreconcilable with secular, Western democracy, a Lebanon - or Bosnia style civil war is indeed a real possibility within our lifetime. Maybe the large scale Muslim immigration to Western countries will turn out to be one of the most naive mistakes in modern history.
Terje Wagener, Norway | 2004-06-21 02:27 | Link
Bjørn: I basically agree with your point. But keep in mind that it is not only critics of Islam that use essentialist characterisations ("Islam is evil" etc), but perhaps even more so its followers/apologists ("Islam is peace").
My impression, as someone who has only recently started reading about these things, is that Islam is an ideology that worked relatively well for the pre-modern world (relatively, ie, compared to medieval/early modern Christian Europe). The problem though seems to be that Islam (read: a substantial number of muslims) only seems to accept peaceful coexistence with other religions on Islam's own terms, ie, with other religions assigned to dhimmi-status. Peaceful coexistence with a Western non-islamic world (including a Jewish state in the heart of the old Caliphate)that is economically, technologically and culturally superior to the Muslim world, does not have the same appeal. Secondly, Islam seems to be unable to cope with modernity, especially the emancipation of women. It seems to regard women's sexuality as a potential threat to society and something that must be controlled.
If this is true, then why is it so? What is it in Islamic countries that makes it very hard for them adapt to modernity (compared not only to Christian countries, but also to Buddhist and Hindu ones (compare India and Pakistan)? Is it because of the nature of the religion itself (ie the Koran and the Sunnas), is it due to history (the humiliation of going from being the youngest and most successful of the monotheist civilisations to being the most backward one) or is it something else? These are not rhetorical questions, if anyone would shed a light on this, I'd be grateful.
Thanks also to Ali and Trevor - interesting discussion.
Raging Bee, Washington, DC | 2004-06-21 19:02 | Link
Ali Dashti wrote: "I believe the only way you could possibly reform Islam is to more or less ignore the entire Medina period, both in the Koran and in the sunna. As this is pretty difficult, it is unlikely, in my point of view, that Islam can be reformed."
Well, various Christian churches have reformed themselves by ignoring rather sizable chunks of both the Old and New Testaments, normally on the grounds that the passages in question were either appropriate only to the circumstances of a particular era, or were not meant to be taken literally.
Also, we Pagans reformed ourselves by renouncing the tribal wars and human sacrifices that had been widespread in pre-Roman Europe, and making up - excuse me, ADAPTING - ritual forms and morals to suit our present circumstances.
So all in all, I think there's at least some hope for Islam, provided the forces of freedom and tolerance stand firm.
"Muslims can build democratic society provided they treat Islam as a matter of personal, private belief and not as a political ideology that seeks to monopolise the pubic space and regulate every aspect of individual and community life."
This is true of all faiths, and there will always be this tension between raligious belief, which is by definition absolute and beyond human debate, and democracy, which is all about questioning and debating just about everything.
Sandy P | 2004-06-23 19:11 | Link
I thought there could be nothing more horrific and maddening than the home movies of jihadis cutting off heads.
But then LGF reader ‘Norwegian kafir’ forwarded a link to a Swedish Islamic forum, where he found a video that’s a glimpse into a parallel universe inhabited by demons.
From a discussion thread titled Al Qaeda for Kids, posted with a comment in Swedish (“Salam aliykom. Look how cute!”), here’s a death cult video that breaks new ground in loathsomeness, as smiling, laughing Muslim children reenact the savage beheading of Nick Berg.
Muslim kids play “Holy Warrior.”
How cute. How incredibly, terminally insane.
UPDATE: And in order to play-act the decapitation of Nick Berg, these children must have studied the actual video.
Jeppe, Oslo | 2004-06-24 10:12 | Link
With all monotheist religions, there will be a potential for holy wars. Christians have done it, Muslims are doing it and Jews are doing it.
Little - except that Islam is being highjacked by fundamentalists. They're having their Dark Age - holy wars and oppressive fundamentalist readings of the Koran and the other texts.
How do we fight it? We don't. Fighting back is useless - we're only providing ammunition for the fundamentalists.
What we need to do is to somehow figure out a way of having the Muslim countries develop an ample middle class. People who never go hungry and have an education rarely support extremism - as long as they don't have a Republican party and Fox News to brainwash them.
We're gonna lose.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-24 15:09 | Link
Jeppe: "How do we fight it? We don't. Fighting back is useless - we're only providing ammunition for the fundamentalists."
Oh, really? Imagine of somebody had said during WW2 that we only sought to replace "radical" fascism with "moderate" fascism, because we didn't want to "provide ammunition" for the radicals? History would be a bit different then, wouldn't it? It is NEVER useless to fight totalitarian movements.
"We're gonna lose."
Defateist crap. We will win. Islam will either reform, it that is possible, or it will continue to digintegrate and be dealt with by the rest of humanity, who are growing increasingly tired of the violence and instability it breeds.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-25 15:46 | Link
It seems like Trevor has disappeared from the debate. I would still like to attach some comments to verse 9,5, which was discussed above:
5 Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Ibn Kathir's tafsir, perhaps the most renowned Koran commentary ever made, clearly states that we are talking about non-Muslims ALL OVER THE WORLD, not just in the Arab Peninsula. It also confirms my point that verses like this one abrogated earlier, more tolerant ones:
This is the Ayah of the Sword
(So when the Sacred Months have passed...), meaning, `Upon the end of the four months during which We prohibited you from fighting the idolators, and which is the grace period We gave them, then fight and kill the idolators wherever you may find them.' Allah's statement next,
(then fight the Mushrikin wherever you find them), means, on the earth in general, except for the Sacred Area, for Allah said,
(and capture them), executing some and keeping some as prisoners,
(and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush), do not wait until you find them. Rather, seek and besiege them in their areas and forts, gather intelligence about them in the various roads and fairways so that what is made wide looks ever smaller to them. This way, they will have no choice, but to die or embrace Islam,
(But if they repent and perform the Salah, and give the Zakah, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) Abu Bakr As-Siddiq used this and other honorable Ayat as proof for fighting those who refrained from paying the Zakah. These Ayat allowed fighting people unless, and until, they embrace Islam and implement its rulings and obligations. Allah mentioned the most important aspects of Islam here, including what is less important. Surely, the highest elements of Islam after the Two Testimonials, are the prayer, which is the right of Allah, the Exalted and Ever High, then the Zakah, which benefits the poor and needy. These are the most honorable acts that creatures perform, and this is why Allah often mentions the prayer and Zakah together. In the Two Sahihs, it is recorded that Ibn `Umar said that the Messenger of Allah said,
(I have been commanded to fight the people until they testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, establish the prayer and pay the Zakah.)
This honorable Ayah (9:5) was called the Ayah of the Sword, about which Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim said, "It abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolator, every treaty, and every term.'' Al-`Awfi said that Ibn `Abbas commented: "No idolator had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara'ah was revealed. The four months, in addition to, all peace treaties conducted before Bara'ah was revealed and announced had ended by the tenth of the month of Rabi` Al-Akhir.''
Sandy P | 2004-06-25 19:15 | Link
--People who never go hungry and have an education rarely support extremism --
You mean like most of the terrorists who flew the planes?
They had both. It's the middle and upper classes with both money and education which are funding this. The poor - in the Palis' case are the cannon fodder.
And this shows your ignorance about FoxNews. You use it like a cross to ward off a vampire.
Viewer statistics come out at least quarterly. You should track them, you have a computer. AC Nielsen for starters. The first year of The Osbournes had more viewers (6m) than Fox has today or ever. The highest was a little over 5m during GWII.
It is simply amazing that w/300m people in the US, a subscription cable channel w/barely 3m TOTAL viewers, IIRC, can cause such havoc in the US, much less around the world. I think about 1m or less tunes in every 15 min - I think that's how it works.
The 3 ABC - NBC - CBS free TV channels get over 25m viewers a night on news alone.
Sandy P | 2004-06-25 19:19 | Link
And Jeppe, - don't fight - lose
fight - lose.
Ok, you're a loser.
Sandy P | 2004-06-26 05:57 | Link
Researchers in the Department of Political Science at UCLA, the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago have proven that Fox News and the Drudge Report are the two most centrist news media, ideologically, with no other major media to the right. Read the report here.
Centrist for the electorate.
Timing is everything, via HobbsOnline.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-26 16:33 | Link
Some more about the moral example of Muhammed, who is supposed to be the "guiding light" for all of humanity:
It is difficult to accept that the Holy Prophet married Ayesha when she was 6-years-old and consummated his marriage with her when she was 9. He was then, 54 years old:
'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.
But don't worry, such paedophilia is ok in "hot" countries:
It should be noted that in the hot regions, it's normal for a girl to attain maturity at a very early age. Thus the case is totally different from that which does exist in the cold regions where a girl does not attain puberty before 21 (Note: Physicians maintain that the age of puberty in the cold regions normally ranges from 9 to 16). At all rates, it should be stressed that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, on marrying `Aisha, never aimed at fulfilling a lust or satisfying a desire.
The above mentioned quotes are from the ahadith (Prophetic traditions) of the sunnis. The shias have their own ahadith, but they do not dispute the age of Aysha:
Ayatollah Khomeini's Religious Teachings on Marriage, Divorce and Relationships
A man can marry a girl younger than nine years of age, even if the girl is still a baby being breastfed. A man, however is prohibited from having intercourse with a girl younger than nine, other sexual act such as forplay, rubbing, kissing and sodomy is allowed. A man having intercourse with a girl younger than nine years of age has not comitted a crime, but only an infraction, if the girl is not permanently damaged.
Something to remember the next time you hear Muslims complain about the "lack of sexual morals" in the West. That is coming from a religion where a 54 year old man having sex with a 9 year old girl playing with her dolls is the highest moral authority.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-26 21:16 | Link
Selected quotes about Islam, pre-Political Correctness:
"It is a misfortune for human nature when a religion is granted by a conquerer. The Mahometan religion, which refers only to the sword, is more likely to motivate those with the same destructive spirit that founded it."
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
"To pretend that Christianity was intended to stereotype existing forms of government and society, and protect them against change, is to reduce it to the level of Islamism or of Brahminism. It is precisely because Christianity has not done this, that it has been the religion of the progressive portion of mankind, and Islamism, Brahminism, etc. have been those of the stationary portions; or rather (for there is no such thing as a really stationary society) of the declining portions. There have been abundance of people, in all ages of Christianity, who tried to make it something of the same kind; to convert us into a sort of Christian Mussulmans, with the Bible for a Koran, prohibiting all improvement: and great has been their power, and many have had to sacrifice their lives in resisting them. But they have been resisted, and the resistance has made us what we are, and will yet make us what we are to be."
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-26 21:20 | Link
This one goes to Jeppe and other pacifist-defateist dhimmis:
"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
George Orwell (1903-1950)
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-26 21:23 | Link
This is how Europe USED to be, before the PeeCee crowd settled in the land:
In 1679, the Ottoman Sultan Mohamet IV conceitedly sent a letter to the Kozaks demanding that they desist in their retributory attacks on Turkish settlements and surrender to him. In the letter the sultan called himself "a brother of the sun and the moon, a grandson and vice-regent of God, a master of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Greater and Lesser Egypt, king of kings, lord of lords, an exceptional and invincible knight" and so forth.
Kish Otaman Ivan Sirko was very familiar with the Turks and their Crimean Tatar allies. In one campaign into the Crimean peninsula, he and the Zaporozhians had managed to free some 6,000 captives. Sirko had a letter drafted to answer the sultan's haughty message:
"You, Turkish shaitan [satan], cursed devil's brother, companion and secretary of Lucifer himself; like hell you are a knight! Satan voids and your army devours. Never will you be able to subjugate the sons of Christ! We have no dread of your army and intend to fight you by land and sea. A Babylonian cook you are, a Macedonian wheelwright, a Jerusalem brewer, a goat-thrasher of Alexandria, a swineherd of Greater and Lesser Egypt, an Armenian pig, a Tatar goat. You, butcher of Kamianets and villain of Podillia [alluding to the forays by the Turks and Tatars into the Podillia region of Ukraine for captives], grandson of the devil and bafoon of the whole world and nether world ... This is how the Kozaks have answered you, the basest born of runts! Unfit are you to lord it over true Christians! The date is unknown for the lack of a calendar, the moon [month] is in the sky, the year is in a book, and the day here is the same as there and you can kiss us you know where. [signed] Kozak Kish Otaman Ivan Sirko and all the Zaporozhian Army."
Sylvia, Denver | 2004-06-27 05:16 | Link
I must admit that Islam is scaring me more every day. But with all of this history - which surely the Europeans must know, why is the europress doing so much to support this Islamic agenda?
The Jihadists want to kill them too. Why would the Europress - which is largly funded/supported by governments (like the BBC) want to do this?
It's like the Euros are trying to slowly commit suicide out of spite or something. I really don't understand what is going on in Europe.
In the US we surely have our apologists in the press and the Saudis look like they've been trying to set up Madrassas in our universities, but I would not say that this is supported by the majority of the gov't officials, and it looks like there is finally some effort to dislodge at least some of the Islamist groups from academia (I don't know how successful this will be, but at least it is being recognised as a problem). Most of the apologia appears to be of European origin (or heavily influenced by Europe) in any case.
Do you have any ideas about why the Euros are taking this path? It just mystifies me, so I would very much like to know if you have any thoughts on this.
P.S. Thank you very much for replying to my questions regarding Muhammed.
Heinrich | 2004-06-27 22:18 | Link
Islam has bloody borders.
Ali Dashti | 2004-06-28 01:39 | Link
Pdf-extract from the book "Islam and terrorism" by Egyptian ex-Muslim Mark Gabriel, who taught Islamic history at the famous Al-Azhar in Cairo before he left Islam (need Adobe Acrobat Reader). He talks about deception, and how Muslims behave when in a minority:
Sandy P | 2004-06-28 02:22 | Link
Don't forget China, Heinrich.
Sandy P | 2004-06-28 02:25 | Link
They really knew how to insult people in days gone by.
FU just doesn't have the same ring.
Sandy P | 2004-06-28 02:26 | Link
Kind of makes me wonder where "Live by the sword, die by the sword" comes from.
a Reader | 2004-06-28 21:46 | Link
Illuminating discussion on Islamic Forum about human slavery in Islam. Note: this is not an "extremist" Muslim website but a public forum with more than 5,000 registrees:
Read the whole thing. Note that no one unequivocally condemns slavery -- which is allowed under Islamic law -- except an African-American convert to Islam. All of the others agree that slavery of "kaffirs" is just fine by them, which includes the right of the Muslim male slaveowner to rape his female slaves.
This is not information published by "anti-Muslim" haters. This is the way Muslims talk in their own talkboards. And this is only one out of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Muslim talkboards where you can find discussions and information like this.
Sandy P | 2004-06-29 21:39 | Link
Oh, yeah, we can deal w/these wackos, via Rantburg:
And I refuse to link to al muhajiroun so here's the link to rantburg:
Sandy P | 2004-06-29 21:40 | Link
Oh, this is a goody:
USA is not only the enemy because they disbelieve in Allah; more than that they are actively fighting against Islam and Muslims. Without any doubt, terrorism against them is obligatory. .... There is no such thing as an ‘innocent’ kafir, innocence is only applicable for the Muslims; do not say ‘innocent’ for the kafir, the most you can say for them is that they are ‘victims’. The Muslim however, is innocent even if he engages to fight and conquer the kafir, because he is fulfilling the shari’ah. ....
khan,sweden | 2004-07-08 13:48 | Link
a question! how many of you here are legitimate sons/duaghter of their parents and how many are bastards? that would rather clear more the difference between so called bible and quran
Raging Bee, Washington, DC | 2004-07-08 19:11 | Link
Well, I'm "legitimate," for what that's worth. And your point is...?
khan,sweden | 2004-07-09 15:14 | Link
I dont think so.....! you would have born after marriage has commenced....!and i bet that 90% of norwegian are illegitimate as well.....(good to keep it as a general knoweldge)
Raging Bee, Washington, DC | 2004-07-09 16:21 | Link
khan: I ask again: and your point is...?
And while we're at it: and your sources are...?
khan | 2004-07-10 22:53 | Link
as i told you before good to have it in mind before I further hear some islamophic maniancs .....
khan | 2004-07-10 22:53 | Link
as i told you before good to have it in mind before I further hear some islamophic maniancs .....
khan | 2004-07-10 22:54 | Link
mistakenly written twice and now have to write third time..*islamophobic
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-07-11 03:47 | Link
Well Khan of Sweden has a new slant on things. Am I right in thinking, Mr. Khan, that you think that 90% of Norwegians are bastards? LOL
Anyway, the idiots are not going to win this "clash of civilizations," I guarantee you that.
khan,sweden | 2004-07-11 23:47 | Link
thats true...what made me to write here was that i didnt see even a single post giving a little bit of impartial statement...its the same islam bashing all the time here which i am getting sick of recently or in future would start ignoring it completely...which is not good cause silence would create more misunderstaindings....the reference to bible and quran came cause both have the same type of origin even the judaism....the things which were prohibited in one religion almost the same things are prohibited in other ...namely the ....illegitimate reproduction phenomenon....;)....I know this is widespread thing in sweden...I thought the %age would be 60% but some of my friends assured me that its 90-95% here in sweden...and If I suppose (norwaegian might be more religious..lols) in norway it would be bit lesser to 85-90%
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-07-12 00:15 | Link
Khan: I would advise you to stop guessing and just look it up. There was a lot of talk recently about Scandinavian children born outside of marriage during a debate on gay marriage. This article claims 54% in Sweden, 49% in Norway, 46% in Denmark.
Others have claimed similar numbers, so it's probably in that area, 50-60%.
The question is in what way you think this is relevant .. to anything, particularly Islam. Your posts on this has been a bit incoherent.
khan,sweden | 2004-07-12 16:30 | Link
ok..I think i have to tell the kids about my point more clearly.....
the total number of topics are 11, out of which 6 are clearly islamophobic while the others have managed to drag islam somehow in context of iraq war or war on terrorism.....
Mullah Krekar case dropped: (funny)
cotextual islamphobic topics:
Socialists to advertise in Washington Post:
and if i read carefully, i would be able point out more.....but dont have time for this.....
why there is no bashing topic on what is real christianity?(recent and past *full of blood* histroy)
why just islam is being honoured here?
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-07-12 18:59 | Link
khan: Why is it islamophobic to 1) criticize Mullah Krekar, a known fanatic, 2) say that real Islam is whatever actual Muslims do in its name, 3) ask what role Reagan played in ending the Cold War, 4) describe what happened at an anti-terror meeting where the word Islam was barely even mentioned, 5) support people who want to focus on Israeli suffering as well in the Middle East conflict, and 6) bring attention to a little known case of (possible) American power abuse against a Canadian Muslim? One doesn't relate to Islam in any way, another comes to the defense of a Muslim. What do you think "Islamophobia" means? And what are you trying to say about "illegitimate" children?
Listen - you're more than welcome to stay here and attack what you see as islamophobic views, but first you need to learn to make coherent arguments. Have something you want to say, then say it in a way that people can understand. That last paragraph of yours I can't even parse.
"the percentage which you described there i think is not realistic"
Why do you think that? What is your source?
"why there is no bashing topic on what is real christianity?(recent and past *full of blood* histroy)"
Because Christianity dropped most of its barbaric aspects, and is today almost fully compatible with liberal democracy. Islam is having a much harder time adjusting to the modern world, and this is important to put focus on. Hopefully you agree that it is important to fight those extremist Muslims who oppose democracy, equal rights for women, and freedom of speech?
khan, sweden | 2004-07-12 21:10 | Link
i just can say you are big a joke!and you talk ridiculously .....if you cant understand those simple words;i cant and wont explain more....so go ahead...and only such maniacs are goin' to join you!....bye
Herbie NY | 2004-07-13 14:41 | Link
Bjorn, I think that you have it wrong. Khan is prepared to have any debate on any issues pertaining to Islam unless they take place within the confines if Islamic thought. In fact, he like most Muslims demand special protection for their position. It appears to be his belief that "true faith", based on God's revelation, must be protected from insult and abuse and other faiths or logic are either false or incomplete and have no right to such protection. That being the case logic has no bearing and debate really is fruitless. In my view the debate will take place in a different way. Europe today produces more coffins than cradles with the exception of Muslim immigrants. If that does not change, Islam will become ascendant and there will be no debate because it will not be allowed just as it is not allowed in Muslim countries with the possible exception of Turkey. Witness the collapse of Christian communities in Islamic countries. At the risk of sounding like a Cassandra: either Europe will forcefully confront this issue or the alternative for Europe is either a bloodbath or capitulation to Islam. You can search far and wide and not find any “respected” Iman who preaches tolerance of other religions unless they are in a subordinate position to Islam.
Herbie NY | 2004-07-13 14:43 | Link
The sentnence should read Khan is NOT prepared to have any debate . . .
Raging Bee, USA | 2004-07-15 16:20 | Link
I guess not - he hasn't been back for two days...
Todd, San Antonio, TX | 2004-07-19 10:50 | Link
I would have to disagree on the point that America needs another Ronald Reagan. True that he was one of the greatest leaders my country has ever had, but he did have his flaws. If he had of done as he should after the bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon, then maybe we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. He also helped empower Sadam Housain instead of tackling the threat with Iran directly as he should have. No, the type of President this country needs right now is one such as Teddy Roosevelt. Back in the early 1900's, Morocco and it's Sultan harbored the Barbary Pirates who took some American sailors hostage and demanded ransom for them. Instead of paying them the ransom, as many European countries, like FRANCE did, Teddy parked a fleet of warships off the coast of Morocco and told the Sultan that if he didn't make sure the hostages were released and returned to U.S. custody immediatley that he would level the city. The American citizens were returned, and the pirates never bothered another U.S. ship. I think if Reagan had of taken that stance with the Iranian hostages, we would be better off now. Those who harbor, aid, and abet should be punished as well as the terrorist themselves, and I honestly believe that the faster the U.S. and the world find alternative ways to power their transportation, the better off the world will be.
Christian Emerson, Oakland CA | 2004-09-25 23:23 | Link
Interesting posts host, I enjoy your blog. Like many of you, I'm of the opinion that we are at a global crossroads. And I feel that the antagonist in this story is, in fact, Islam itself. The relative silence of the so called "moderate" global islamic community, and the overall lack of outrage of the same group is in general indicative of the idea that there is a sense of endorsement of the idea of global jihad even among these "moderates". The fact is that there are roughly 15 conflicts happening in the world today in 2004....no less than 13 of them are examples of Muslims who cannot, more often WILL not, get along with their neighbors who in every case are of a different religion. The world Islamic community has a very convenient excuse for the violence perpetrated by its followers, the policies of the state of Israel. In general I too find settlement policies of Israel draconian and highly bellicose and provocative. However I feel strongly that if Israel didn't exist or were not part of the equation, there would be some other excuse that the world Islamic community would point to as a justification for the violence and atrocities it either commits, endorses, or to which it turns a blind eye. Something else would be used as a justification for its collective rage against the "Kufr" or unbeliever. Look at the Sudan, the one place in the world where the UN has identified the widespread and systematic existence of slavery. Arab militias enslave, rape, and kill black African Christians and Animists in the Darfur region. Just today I saw an article from Reuters saying that the government denies it, refuses to disarm the militias, and "rejects" the findings of the interntional community and the UN itself. I'm no fan of the UN, and if there is one area where it could do well to act, it would be Darfur/Sudan. If it doesn't it will prove its own uselessness.
And I could only hope for a leader who would recognize this. I believe Ronald Regan would have, GRHS.
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Kim Sook-Im,US | 2005-01-13 14:23 | Link
Hello fellow -BLOGISTANIS,
I refer you to the post by that character Khan the islamoBorg:
"khan, sweden | 2004-07-12 21:10 | Link
they say language reflects your thoughts and your mental capacity...obviously this Khan Kharacter reflects an arrogant, irrational personality, short-tempered , impetuous and incapable of engaging in a friendly CIVIL dialogue. .......and ....why is this so? Well, dear blogistani friends ,you should not be surprised to find lots of Khan-like Kharacters in the large immigrant muslim population that now inhabits Eurabia ! It has to do with their upbringing, the socio-religious milieu which shapes the psychosocial aspects of their personality....they say, as a tree is bend , so is it inclined. The operating manifesto of Islam is religious bigotry, religious hegemony,denigration of females and liquidation of unbelievers/infidels and non-cult members....and this operating parameters are drummed incesantly into the growing childs head day in day out preparing him to become a minion of this monster of Yshlam. From small girls in islamic societies are thought that they are inferior creatures, born to be subservient to the male members of their family. From birth boys are indoctrinated to believe that they are better than girls. Mothers treat their sons better, give them choicier food, pamper them, while their sisters make room for their brothers at the dinner table. Likewise men eat first and then women and children are left the table scraps. Given this religiously inculcated misogyny is it small wonder that the islamists terrorists hide behind their women and children using them as dispensable human shields, for after all their 'beautiful' relgion of yshlam instructs them that women are nothing but chattel, property and plaything for the males of their society - slaves and incubator units for the reproduction and propagation of the despicable islamo-androBorgs that are the functional unit of the horrifying entity world wide the mother-brood - the UMMAH !
The yshlamic unholy writ instructs the cult members to be harsh with unbelievers..it also says that unbelievers are the worst of beast. Given this evil injunctions, it is small wonder that the adherents of this psychopathic Cult fancy themselves superior creatures to the rest of humanity whom they consider infidels and who are to be exploited , denigrated, and eventually absorbed into the ummah . It is no small wonder that the majority yshlamites are rude, obnoxious, deceitful , untrustworthy and disrespectful of the other 6 billion infidels that do share the planet earth. Contractual agreements between an infidel and a yshlamite means for nothing because the yshlamite is not beholden to a contract with an infidel. Female scientists in the west that work with yshlamite men complain that they are not taken seriously because yshlamite males are told by their prophet that women are lacking in intelligence !There are no significant no. of yshlamite women scientists because all the women in yshlamdom are too busy scrubbing floors, cooking food for their male-borgs, and making more islamo-borg babies that they do not have time or the opportunity to pursue physics and astronomy and other scientific discipline to become astronautess
I refer you to this EYE OPENING ESSAY:
Bashir,London UK | 2005-05-11 15:10 | Link
Honestly speaking,I must let you know what I have pledged before ALLAH to do.I might not be too rich,but atleast I can afford to keep my promise to Allah and I would need help and direction.
kim sook-im | 2005-06-01 06:53 | Link
That 80% or more of US muslims support shariah /apartheid law should not come as a surprise to all of us rational and fair-minded human beings. Look at the preceding post by Bashir, London UK....notice how he pledges his money only for the betterment of his cult members -- you would think that a universal God would love all of his creation , instead of creating division, dissent and hatred....but not so for the members of the cult of Ahl sSunnah wa Jamaah -- they really operate a manifesto of a religious mafia.
Christianity in the past used to be like that, until after the reformation when it got defanged and lost its cultic fanaticism. Regretfully members of Yssshlam still operate exactly as fanatical christians do centuries ago.....and this bodes ill for world peace.
Mishal | 2005-09-21 12:10 | Link
If you ask me what is Islam? I'll say that Islam is the favorite relegion of Alimighty. It is the relegion of peace and harmony and It is based on the priniciples of nature.
kim sook-im | 2005-09-21 16:46 | Link
What exactly do you mean that Islam is the religion of peace and harmony and based on the principles of nature?
Is that the mantra that you have been bombarded with daily and are repeating like a robot and a parrot LOL?
Do you see any evidence of peace and harmony associated with Islam especially when 905 of wars and conflict fought in the world today and historically had involved islam....and regarding nature....in nature the female is a superior species -- do you see evidence of enhancement and encouragement of development of the female species in islamic societies? LOL.
You are quite a joker are'nt you........:-)?!!
Sister Prasad Meenachee Bhagavatam
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