Skip to comments.Four Articles on the Relation between "Moderate" Islam and Islamic Fundamentalism
Posted on 10/08/2001 10:09:42 AM PDT by white trash redneck
STATEMENT BY IBN WARRAQ ON THE WORLD TRADE CENTER ATROCITY
Ibn Warraq is the author of Why I Am Not A Muslim
Given the stupefying enormity of the acts of barbarism of 11 September, moral outrage is appropriate and justified, as are demands for punishment. But a civilized society cannot permit blind attacks on all those perceived as Muslims or Arabs. Not all Muslims or all Arabs are terrorists. Nor are they implicated in the horrendous events of Tuesday. Police protection for individual Muslims, mosques and other institutions must be increased.
However, to pretend that Islam has nothing to do with Terrorist Tuesday is to wilfully ignore the obvious and to forever misinterpret events. Without Islam the long-term strategy and individual acts of violence by Usama bin Laden and his followers make little sense. The West needs to understand them in order to be able to deal with them and avoid past mistakes. We are confronted with Islamic terrorists and must take seriously the Islamic component. Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, do not understand the passionate, religious, and anti-western convictions of Islamic terrorists. These God-intoxicated fanatics blindly throw away their lives in return for the Paradise of Seventy Two Virgins offered Muslim martyrs killed in the Holy War against all infidels.
Jihad is a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of the Prophet Muhammad [the Prophet]. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Quran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims.
The world is divided into two spheres, Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. The latter, the Land of Warfare, is a country belonging to infidels which has not been subdued by Islam. The Dar al-Harb becomes the Dar-al Islam, the Land of Islam, upon the promulgation of the edicts of Islam. Thus the totalitarian nature of Islam is nowhere more apparent than in the concept of Jihad, the Holy War, whose ultimate aim is to conquer the entire world and submit it to the one true faith, to the law of Allah. To Islam alone has been granted the truth: there is no possibility of salvation outside it. Muslims must fight and kill in the name of Allah.
We read (IX. 5-6):Kill those who join other gods with God wherever you may find them;
IV.76: Those who believe fight in the cause of God;
VIII.39-42: Say to the Infidels: if they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it Gods.
Those who die fighting for the only true religion, Islam, will be amply rewarded in the life to come:
IV.74: Let those who fight in the cause of God who barter the life of this world for that which is to come; for whoever fights on Gods path, whether he is killed or triumphs, We will give him a handsome reward.
What should we make with these further unfortunate verses from the Quran:
*Torment to Non-believers->IV.56
*Only Islam Acceptable-> III.85
* No friends from outsiders->III.118
*No friends with Jews, christians->V. 51
* No friends with non believers->IV.144, III.28
* No friends with parents/siblings if not believers->IX.23
* Fight non-believers->IX.123 * Kill non-believers->IV.89
*Anti Jewish verses->V.82
* God a "plotter"->VIII.30
* Idolators are unclean just because they are idolator->IX.28
* Forcing non-believers to pay tax->IX.29
* The Torment of Hell->XLIV.43-58
* All except Muslims/Jews/Christians/Sabeans will go to hell->II.62, V.69
* Cast terror in the hearts, smite the neck and cut fingertips of unbelievers->VIII.12
* Smite the neck of unbelievers->XLVII.4
* Severe Punishment for atheists->X.4 ; V.10 ; V.86
* Severe Punishment for non-believers->XXII.19-22 ; LXXII.23, XCVIII.6
*Punishing non-believers of Hereafter->XVII.10
* Punishing for rejecting faith->III.91
* Non believers go to hell->IV.140 ; VII.36 * Partial Believers go to hell too->IV.150-1
* Sadistic punishments->LVI.42-43
* Punishment for apostates->XVI.106 ; III.86-88 ; III.90 ; IV.137.
* Threat of punishement for not going to war->IX.38-39, XLVIII.16
*God making someone more sinful so he can be punished more->III178
*Intentionally preventing unbelievers from knowing the truth->VI.25 ; VI.110
* Intentionally preventing unbelievers from Understanding Quran->XVII.45-46
* It is God who causes people to err and He punishes them for that->XVII.97
* God could guide, if he chose to, but did not->VI.35
* Intentionally misguiding those whom he pleases to->XIV.4
* Willfully misguiding some->XVI.93
* God causes human to err->IV.143 ; VII.178
* God deceiving humans->IV.142
It is surely time for us who live in the West and enjoy freedom of expression to examine unflinchingly and unapologetically the tenets of these fanatics, including the Quran which divinely sanctions violence. We should unapologetically examine the life of the Prophet, who was not above political assassinations, and who was responsible for the massacre of the Jews.
Ah, but you are confusing Islam with Islamic fundamentalism. The Real Islam has nothing to do with violence, apologists of Islam argue.
There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism: at most there is a difference of degree but not of kind. All the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Quran, the Sunna, and the Hadith Islamic fundamentalism is a totalitarian construct derived by Muslim jurists from the fundamental and defining texts of Islam. The fundamentalists, with greater logic and coherence than so-called moderate or liberal Muslims, have made Islam the basis of a radical utopian ideology that aims to replace capitalism and democracy as the reigning world system. Islamism accounts for the anti-American hatred to be found in places far from the Arab-Israeli conflict, like Nigeria and Afghanistan, demonstrating that the Middle East conflict cannot legitimately be used to explain this phenomenon called Islamism. A Palestinian involved in the WTC bombings would be seen as a martyr to the Palestinian cause, but even more as a martyr to Islam.
Ah, but Islamic fundamentalism is like any other kind of fundamentalism, one must not demonise it. It is the result of political, social grievances. It must be explained in terms of economics and not religion, continue the apologists of Islam.
There are enormous differences between Islamic fundamentalism and any other kind of modern fundamentalism. It is true that Hindu, Jewish, and Christian fundamentalists have been responsible for acts of violence, but these have been confined to particular countries and regions. Islamic fundamentalism has global aspirations: the submission of the entire world to the all-embracing Sharia, Islamic Law, a fascist system of dictates designed to control every single act of all individuals. Nor do Hindus or Jews seek to convert the world to their religion. Christians do indulge in proselytism but no longer use acts of violence or international terrorism to achieve their aims.
Only Islam treats non-believers as inferior beings who are expendable in the drive to world hegemony. Islam justifies any means to achieve the end of establishing an Islamic world.
Islamic fundamentalists recruit among Muslim populations, they appeal to Islamic religious symbols, and they motivate their recruits with Islamic doctrine derived from the Quran. Economic poverty alone cannot explain the phenomenon of Islamism. Poverty in Brazil or Mexico has not resulted in Christian fundamentalist acts of international terror. Islamists are against what they see as western materialism itself. Their choice is clear: Islam or jahiliyya. The latter term is redefined to mean modern-style jahiliyya of modern, democratic, industrialised societies of Europe and America, where man is under the dominion of man rather than Allah. They totally reject the values of the West, which they feel are poisoning Islamic culture. So, it is not just a question of economics, but of an entirely different worldview, which they wish to impose on the whole world. Sayyid Qutb, the very influential Egyptian Muslim thinker, said that dominion should be reverted to Allah alone, namely to Islam, that holistic system He conferred upon men. An all-out offensive, a jihad, should be waged against modernity so that this moral rearmament could take place. The ultimate objective is to re-establish the Kingdom of Allah upon earth...
It is surely time for moderate Muslims to stand up and be counted. I should like to see them do three things:
All moderate Muslims should unequivocally denounce this barbarism, should condemn it for what it is: the butchery of innocent people,
2. All moderate Muslim citizens of the United States should proclaim their Americanness, their patriotism, and their solidarity with the families of the victims. They should show their pride in their country by giving blood and other aid to victims and their families.
3. All moderate Muslims should take this opportunity to examine the tenets of their faith; should look at the Quran, recognize its role in the instigation of religious violence, and see it for what it is, a problematical human document reflecting 7th or perhaps 8th Century values which the West has largely outgrown.
While it should not be too difficult for moderate Muslims to accept the need to denounce the violence of Terrorist Tuesday, I am not at all optimistic about their courage or willingness to proclaim their love for their chosen country, the USA, or examine the Quran critically.
Too many Muslims are taught from an early age that their first allegiance is to Islam. They are exhorted in sermons in mosques, and in books by such Muslim intellectuals as Dr Siddiqui of the Muslim Institute in London, that if the laws of the land conflict with any of the tenets of Islam, then they must break the laws of the infidels, and only follow the Law of God, the Sharia, Islamic Law.
It is a remarkable fact that at the time of the Gulf War, a high proportion of Muslims living in the West supported Saddam Hussein. In the aftermath of the WTC terror, it is now clear from reports in the media that many Muslims, even those living in the West, see these acts of barbarism as acts of heroism; they give their unequivocal support to their hero, Usama bin Laden.
Few Muslims have shown themselves capable of scrutinising their sacred text rationally. Indeed any criticism of their religious tenets is taken as an insult to their faith, for which so many Muslims seem ready to kill (as in the Rushdie affair or the Taslima Nasreen affair). Muslims seem to be unaware that the research of western scholars concerning the existence of figures such as Abraham, Isaac and Joseph or the authorship of the Pentateuch applies directly to their belief system. Furthermore, it is surely totally irrational to continue to believe that the Quran is the word of God when the slightest amount of rational thought will reveal that the Quran contains words and passages addressed to God (e.g. VI.104; VI.114; XVII.1; XXVII.91; LXXXI.15-29; lxxxiv.16-19; etc.); or that it is full of historical errors and inconsistencies.
Respect for other cultures, for other values than our own, is a hallmark of a civilised society. But Multiculturalism is based on some fundamental misconceptions. First, there is the erroneous and sentimental belief that all cultures, deep down, have the same values; or, at least, if different, are equally worthy of respect. But the truth is that not all cultures have the same values, and not all values are worthy of respect. There is nothing sacrosanct about customs or cultural traditions: they can change under criticism. After all, the secularist values of the West are not much more than two hundred years old.
If these other values are destructive of our own cherished values, are we not justified in fighting them both by intellectual means, that is by reason and argument, and criticism, and by legal means, by making sure the laws and constitution of the country are respected by all? It becomes a duty to defend those values that we would live by. But here western intellectuals have sadly failed in defending western values, such as rationalism, social pluralism, human rights, the rule of law, representative government, individualism (in the sense that every individual counts, and no individual should be sacrificed for some utopian future collective end), freedom of expression, freedom of and from religion, the rights of minorities, and so on..
Instead, the so-called experts on Islam in western universities, in the media, in the churches and even in government bureaus have become apologists for Islam. They bear some responsibility for creating an atmosphere little short of intellectual terrorism where any criticism of Islam is denounced as fascism, racism, or orientalism. They bear some responsibility for lulling the public into thinking that The Islamic Threat is a myth. It is our duty to fight this intellectual terrorism. It is our duty to defend the values of liberal democracy.
One hopes that the U.S. government will not now act in such a way that more innocent lives are lost, albeit on the other side of the globe. One hopes that even now there is a legal way out in international courts of law. The situation is far more delicate and complex than a simple battle between good and evil, the solution is not to beat hell out of all Arabs and Muslims but neither is it to pretend that Islam had nothing to do with it, for that would be to bury ones head in the Sands of Araby.
 T.Hughes, Dictionary of Islam, entry Jihad
 E.Sivan, Radical Islam, New haven, 1985, p.25.
by Roy Brown, Vice-President of the I.H.E.U.
Over the past few years and with the global coverage of television, we have witnessed scenes of devastation from around the world, of famines, earthquakes, floods and natural disasters in which thousands upon thousands of people may have died. But none of these events touched us as deeply as have the events of 11th September 2001. This was a blow to the heart of civilisation itself, and it was perpetrated deliberately by our fellow human beings. We saw the scenes of rejoicing from Palestine and wondered what the Americans had done that these people could hate them so much.
Most religious leaders - Muslim as much as Christian and Jewish - have been united in their condemnation of the terrorists. Even Iran and Libya have condemned the atrocities, while Pakistan, the state both geographically and theologically closest to Afghanistan, has agreed to help track down the terrorists.
Since the terrible events of Black Tuesday millions of words have been uttered and written seeking to explain how and why such a catastrophe was possible. We have heard much of the lax security at American airports, of the fanatics' burning hatred of America and of the part played by the US government's support for Israel. But as the dust begins to settle we begin to hear the beat of another idea amid the noise: "Islam itself is not to blame".
Islam and fundamentalism
At a time when the American government is trying to gather together the widest possible coalition to fight terrorism the idea that Islam itself is not to blame is a comforting mantra. This view has been supported, as one would expect, by many Muslim leaders, and every Islamic apologist has leapt for his pen in defence of this thesis. In a letter to the Times of London, nine Muslim leaders wrote:
"Islam condemns such abhorent behaviour and the Holy Koran equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity."
Yet just a few years ago, one of the writers of this letter was calling for the death of Salman Rushdie.
Of course, we must not condemn all Muslims for the actions of a few of their co-religionists. But we can and we must condemn Islam to the extent that that it preaches terror. To pretend Islam is a religion of peace and love is to delude ourselves. If we continue to do so we will never understand this tragedy. Islam, which means "submission", submission to the will of God, has been a religion of conquest. Convert or die. To argue that it is only a few Islamic extremists who are guilty rather than Islam itself is to argue that it was only a few Germans who were responsible for the holocaust, not Nazism itself.
The professor of Islamic studies at the University of Birmingham, Prof. Jorgen Neilsen, wrote in the Times on 15th September:
"Muslims young and old have been as horrified by these events as everyone else. But they are also apprehensive about the reactions of their neighbours and the public generally. They know too well that they very easily become exposed to popular hatred in a way that no other community currently seems to. At the time of the Omagh bombing no one suggested that Roman Catholics en bloc were complicit, nor was there talk of a retaliatory strike against the Vatican. Such a suggestion would have been as absurd then as blaming Muslims for New York now."
It is certainly true that many Muslims young and old were horrified. But quite a few young Muslims in Britain were absolutely delighted that America - who they have been taught to regard as the Great Satan - had been bombed. We read in the Times of young Muslims in Bradford explaining to reporters their lack of sympathy for the Americans by saying: "We are Muslims first". Schoolboys in Paris told their teacher with pride: "Now you see what we Arabs can do!"
Professor Neilsen continued in his article:
"Islam does not teach revenge. It does not encourage the killing or oppression of non-Muslims; jihad is not holy war."
But holy war is precisely what Jihad is. The west will never understand what happened in New York and Washington if such blatant falsehood is allowed to go unchallenged.
Britain has a very poor record in dealing with Islamic extremism. Britain has been a safe haven for terrorists from Egypt, Yemen, India, Chechnya and Iraq, and is a fertile recruiting ground for young men ready to go and fight in the dozens of hotspots around the world where Islam is in conflict with other religions and cultures. All young Muslims are taught from an early age that they are Muslims first, and British, French, German or American second. In any conflict between their native country and Islam they must side with Islam. It need not be so. But before this can change Islam itself must change.
The fundamentalists' goal
There has been much talk of American "arrogance", of America's failure to address the legitimate grievances of the Muslim world. Were the terrorists seeking to punish the Americans for their arrogance? Partly no doubt, but they have a deeper agenda. It is doubtful if any action the Americans could have taken would satisfy them. What they want is nothing less than world domination. To achieve this they must first precipitate World War III, a holy war against the Great Satan. If America retaliates with massive air strikes against its perceived enemies, World War III is indeed the likely outcome. Large numbers of innocent Muslims will be killed. That can only serve to drive many moderate Muslims into the arms of the fundamentalists. Every young Muslim who sees his family members killed becomes another potential suicide bomber.
In the heat of war anyone is capable of inhuman acts. But to murder innocent people in cold blood and to sacrifice one's own life: Ah, that takes absolute conviction: that takes religious fervour. The madrasas of northern Pakistan which trained the Taliban have been instilling that conviction, that fervour, in thousands of young Muslim men for the past ten years.
The fundamentalists believe totally that the Koran is the absolute and final word of God. In it He enjoins every Muslim to wage holy war against the infidels. The West, for all its military might, could not win a world war against a billion Muslims and the West will never accept domination by such an alien culture. The war would be long and bloody. There could be no winners.
Is there any way out?
Yes. Above all, America must not seek justice and retribution on its own. It must forge an alliance with its allies and with as many of the Islamic states as possible before striking back. What we need now is restraint and only that force necessary to bring the guilty to justice.
One worrying feature so far has been the total absence of any call to involve the United Nations. The UN could be the first real casualty of this war. Since the end of the Cold War America has rarely avoided the temptation to go it alone; to act out its role as the new Leviathan. To do so now could be little short of catastrophic and the consequences could dwarf anything we saw in New York last week.
Another worrying feature was president Bush's call for "A Crusade against Terrorism". Well, I don't know how much history they taught the future president at Harvard, but for sensitivity at a time when you are trying to rally support from the entire Islamic world the use of the C-word must rank as probably the most monumental gaffe from an American president in the past 100 years.
Assuming America, gung-ho as always, can be persuaded to wait until everyone is on side and to take its Islamic allies into its confidence before striking back, then there is a chance that the escalation can be minimised. But that of course will not be the end of the problem. The grievances of the poor and dispossessed will not have been resolved just because America has either killed or brought Osama bin Laden to justice.
America will have to recognise that globalisation means engagement. They will no longer be able to treat the rest of the world as just so many potential consumers of American goods and services. The rich do have a duty to the poor, and the polluters do have a duty to the planet.
But even if the United States were to accept their global responsibilities, this would not be the end of the problem either. Islamic fundamentalism will still exist and the Koran will still be calling for Jihad against the infidels. Islam itself will need to change.
The concepts of human rights and democracy are alien to Islam. Even though most Islamic countries signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights when it was first promulgated in 1948, many have since then hedged their bets and have qualified their support by signing for example, the so-called Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. This later document accepts human rights "insofar as they conform to Islamic law", which is not very far. There is no concept of freedom of speech in Islam. Ask our friend Dr Younus Shaikh languishing on death row in Rawlpindi for explaining what life was probably like at the time of the Mohammed. There is no equality of treatment for men and women under Islamic law. Ask any young woman who has just been raped and as a result is now facing prison for indecency. Or any young woman from Bradford sent to Pakistan to be married against her will.
The gulf in understanding between Islam and the modern world must be bridged and it is Islam and the Muslim world that must change. All Muslims need to learn that, first and above all, we are human beings; that we share our common humanity with everyone else on this planet regardless of race, religion, colour or sex. All religion must be interpreted in the light of that simple fact.
In the meantime Muslims must not allow themselves to be used by the fundamentalists. They know that what happened in New York was evil and brings shame on the perpetrators. To side with the fundamentalists would be to share in their guilt. Muslims must stand up and be counted on the side of civilised values and, just as the Christians have had to do over the last four hundred years, must be prepared to critically evaluate and reject some of the more violent and primitive facets of their religion.
Christianity only became civilised after the church was forced to accept that it did not hold all knowledge of the cosmos nor have the complete prescription for everyone's life. Islam still believes that it has such a prescription, but it is a pre-enlightenment, pre-scientific prescription based on the medieval values of a desert people. It may have power, wealth, numbers and conviction, but it no longer has any relevance for the modern world. Muslims are prisoners of their belief that Islam has all the answers. Ordinary Muslim men and women must make a stand against the fundamentalists. Muslim men and women must shake off the chains that bind them and stand side by side with us in a world where human rights and human values are universally respected.
Sunday September 23, 2001
The magnitude of the terrorist attack on America has forced Muslims to take a critical look at themselves. Why have we repeatedly turned a blind eye to the evil within our societies? Why have we allowed the sacred terms of Islam, such as fatwa and jihad, to be hijacked by obscurantist, fanatic extremists?
Muslims are quick to note the double standards of America - its support for despotic regimes, its partiality towards Israel, and the covert operations that have undermined democratic movements in the Muslim world. But we seldom question our own double standards. For example, Muslims are proud that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the West.
Evangelical Muslims, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, happily spread their constricted interpretations of Islam. But Christian missionaries in Muslim countries are another matter. They have to be banned or imprisoned. Those who burn effigies of President Bush will be first in the queue for an American visa.
The psychotic young men, members of such extremist organisations as Al-Muhajiroun and 'Supporters of Sharia', shouting fascist pbscenities outside the Pakistan Embassy, are enjoying the fruits of Western freedom of expression. Their declared aim is to establish 'Islamic states'. But in any self-proclaimed Islamic state, they would be ruthlessly silenced.
This is not the first time concerned Muslims have raised such questions. But we have been forced to ignore them for two main reasons. In a world where it is always open season for prejudice and discrimination on Muslims and Islam, our main task has seemed to be to defend Islam. The other reason concerns Ummah, the global Muslim community. We have to highlight, the argument goes, the despair and suffering of the Muslim people - their poverty and plight as refugees and the horror of war-torn societies.
So, all good and concerned Muslims are implicated in the unchecked rise of fanaticism in Muslim societies. We have given free reign to fascism within our midst, and failed to denounce fanatics who distort the most sacred concepts of our faith. We have been silent as they proclaim themselves martyrs, mangling beyond recognition the most sacred meaning of what it is to be a Muslim.
But the events of 11 September have freed us from any further obligation to this misapplied conscience. The insistence by the Muslim Council of Britain that the Islamic cause is best served by the Taliban handing over Osama bin Laden, is indicative of this shift. The devotion with which so many Muslims, young and old, in Europe and America, are organising meetings and conferences to discuss how to unleash the best intentions, the essential values of Islam, from the rhetoric of jihad, hatred and insularity, is another.
But we have to go further. Muslims are in the best position to take the lead in the common cause against terrorism. The terrorists are among us, the Muslim communities of the world. They are part of our body politic. And it is our duty to stand up against them. We must also reclaim a more balanced view of Islamic terms like fatwa. A fatwa is simply a legal opinion based on religious reasoning. It is the opinion of one individual and is binding on only the person who gives it. But, since the Rushdie affair, it has come to be associated in the West solely with a death sentence. Now that Islam has become beset with the fatwa culture, it becomes necessary for moderate voices to issue their own fatwas.
So, let me take the first step. To Muslims everywhere I issue this fatwa: any Muslim involved in the planning, financing, training, recruiting, support or harbouring of those who commit acts of indiscriminate violence against persons or the apparatus or infrastructure of states is guilty of terror and no part of the Ummah. It is the duty of every Muslim to spare no effort in hunting down, apprehending and bringing such criminals to justice.
If you see something reprehensible, said the Prophet Muhammad then change it with your hand; if you are not capable of that then use your tongue (speak out against it); and if you are not capable of that then detest it in your heart. The silent Muslim majority must now become vocal. The rest of the world could help by adopting a more balanced tone. The rhetoric that paints America as a personification of innocence and goodness, a god-like power that can do no wrong, not only undermines the new shift but threatens to foreclose all our futures.
Ziauddin Sardar is a leading Muslim writer.
A Call for Caution and Prudence
A Personal Statement
by Paul Kurtz
Editor-in-Chief, Free Inquiry magazine
Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, State University of New York at Buffalo
I wish to speak personally and not on behalf of the Council for Secular Humanism.
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11th has shocked the civilized world and has rightly brought forth expressions of regret and condemnation. What has stunned everyone is the apparent willingness of nineteen terrorists to commit suicide by slamming their aircraft into targets and their absolute insensitivity to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. Some of the terrorists apparently are men in their late twenties and thirties who have taken months or years to train for their deadly mission. A soldier sent into combat to inflict damage on his enemies usually has some hope of coming out of the battle alive; but not in these cases, where death was inevitable. How could they have acted in this way? What were their motives?
We know that the suicide bombers in Israel and Palestine who enter into crowds of innocent people, including women and children, often yell "Allahu akbar!" (God is great!) as they blow themselves to kingdom come. In many cases families of the bombers when interviewed applaud their sons or brothers, for their "heroic deeds." In one case, the father even hoped that his second son would make the same sacrifice.
Obviously, the motives are religious. And they are based upon a deep faith that they are doing the work of Allah and will be rewarded in heaven after death. According to the story, such a hero who dies for Islam will have seventy or seventy-two virgins throughout eternity. All enemies of Islamas perceived by themare considered evil and need to be destroyed. Their victims are dehumanized. Here the jihad is considered righteous and just because it is done in the name of God.
Contrast this with the faith of Christians and Jews who pray to God, implying that he is on their side. They often claim that any retribution they may take is in the name of their God and religion.
As the United States in grief and fear responds to these terrorists, one should ponder the opposing religious premises in this conflict. Are we about to enter a Holy Warin the name of Godas viewed differently by the contending factions? Clearly the acts of the Islamic terrorists are unconscionable. But what about self-righteous retribution done with the conviction that God "is on our side"? If He is, why did He allow more than 6,000 innocent people to die in the World Trade Towers; and why will he allow the death of tens of thousands of innocent victims who will surely die in retaliatory military strikes?
Unfortunately, the basic religious premises of this conflagration are not open to discussion. There is all too little inquiry into the foundations of religious beliefs. It is considered in bad taste or intolerable to do so. The age-old jihad is based in the Koran and Hadith (traditions), as the Judæo-Christian response to it is often rooted in the Bible. These documents were spawned in nomadic and rural societies in the infancy of the race and are not appropriate to the modern world. We should seek to find common ground with other human beings -- by opening up discussion of the grounds of revelation in the Old and New Testaments and the Koran -- and by refusing to allow these ancient documents to dictate our policies.
The Koran is a good case in point, because if one studies the history of Islam, one finds that it expanded its hegemony by the use of the sword. Mohammed himself raised an army of ten thousand men and destroyed his enemies and he advanced Islam by ruthless methods. The jihad has been practiced throughout history by the militant believers in Allah and Muhammadby North African Moors, in Spain, France, and the Mediterranean, by the Ottoman Empire of Turkey in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and by the Mongol invasions of Europe. The Crusades, seeking to defend the Christian faith in the 11th and 12th centuries, were led by militant Christians who attacked Islamic lands and seized the "Holy Land" from Muslims, only to have it retaken. The Holy Inquisition sought to expel Jews and Muslims from the Iberian peninsula in the 15th century. The jihad was halted two centuries ago when the European colonial powers, especially France and Great Britain, conquered many Islamic countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It was resumed again after the Second World War when these countries were liberated and established their own feudal theocracies. And it has continued to grow as the fundamentalists gain ground and terrorize governments and impede any measures against them.
The battle for Palestine in part is between Jews who believe the Old Testament and Muslims who revere the Koran. Today significant peace-loving and democratic Moslem minorities exist in all the countries of the Westespecially the United States, Germany, France, England. But what is not discussed and needs to be discussed, urgently and critically, are the foundations of the claims for the jihad. One can argue that Islam will continue, of course, as the creed of a great civilization. But there is a difference between a liberal reading of the Koran with an emphasis on symbolic pronouncements, and the literal reading of the Koran and the Hadith which justifies jihad. The literal tradition condemns to death those who seek to break away from Islam; those who blaspheme it are considered foes. The jihad needs to be interpreted in light of the fact that these revelations have doubtful foundations. We need Koranic criticism and we need to discuss the Koran carefully, without any condemnation in doing so. If the Koran and Hadith are used to repress others or to unleash a holy war, then we need a clear discussion of how and why and to show the fragmentary and questionable grounds of this faith which so inspires many Muslims to die in the name of Allah. A similar kind of free inquiry should apply to the Bible.
Free Inquiry magazine was founded in 1980 in response to the emergence of the Religious Right and their use of the Bible to justify repression in the United States and to bridge the separation of church and state. If the Koran and Bible are used to justify wars of aggression or retaliation, then they have to be read critically. Alas, they are still not in most parts of the world.
Fundamentalist Muslims hate the modern Western world, its devotion to democracy, civil liberties, moral freedom, reason, and science. In its place they would establish a medieval and barbaric patriarchy, which suppresses women and freedom of inquiry. Modern Muslims realize that Islamic culture will not advance until it enters into the modern world and accepts democracy, secularism, and rational scientific inquiry. They are intimidated by fundamentalist mobs.
In the current situation we advocate caution and prudence; and we hope that the hysteria and frenzy on all sides will abate. Those who commit heinous crimes of terror must be brought to the bar of justice. But the terrorists are an international problem, not the exclusive problem of the United States, and we need an international convention of all civilized nations of the world -- Moslem and Western, Christian, Jewish, and secularistas President Mubarak of Egypt has advised. Unilateral actions by the United States is imprudent. We need all civilized nations of our planetary community to act in concert against terrorism.
We realize that the American people are seeking justice; and they wish to punish those who would commit such foul deeds. President Bush has called for an all-out war against terrorism, but had unfortunately used the term crusade to describe that war. He is to be commended for recognizing the threat and asking Americans and others in the world to deal with it. However, I would urge a reflective response. Any action that we take should be in concert with all our allies in the democratic world and also with the support of moderate Muslim nations. The United Nations should be involved and an international peace-keeping force needs to be created. All terrorists should be brought to the World Court in the Hague for a trial.
A cloud of fear overlays America. People are afraid to travel. There is apprehension of spies in our midst. And there are calls for a limitation of our civil liberties. There are fears that a police state will in time result. We should not turn against our Muslim neighbors, the vast majority of whom are not committed to holy jihad. What is essential is that although we need to defend ourselves, clearly, we also need to protect our cherished civil liberties and our constitutional guarantees and guard against their erosion and abrogation. The United States has been in existence for over two centuries, and our Constitution has safeguarded this great democracy. We should not, in a fit of fear and anger, be willing to suppress our precious liberties.
A Call for Caution and Prudence
* We need free inquiry of the religious premises of the growing conflagration.
* We need rational debate of the questionable premises of a "holy war" or jihad.
* We need a rational debate of the biblical call for retribution.
* We call upon the United States not to act unilaterally and to petition the United Nations to establish a peace-keeping force.
* All terrorists when apprehended should be brought to the World Court at the Hague and put on trial.
* The basic constitutional civil liberties of America should not be abrogated.
The good pastor thought that all Christians should understand what the present conflict is about and how it will/potentially effect them. I am gratified at his efforts and hope other church leaders do the same. There was no hate preached towards the Muslims, only the facts of the religion and how it is effecting Christians and others world wide. Scarry!
Center of Peace and Hope in Christ for Afghanistan
Issues Challenge to Moderate Muslims
Recent threats and acts of hatred against American Muslims, Asian Muslims, and non-Muslim Asian Americans across the United States is wrong. The horrible acts of war committed against the United States on September 11 are a fertile ground for wrong headed Americans to demonstrate their ignorance toward people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds.
The Center of Peace and Hope in Christ for Afghanistan condemns this hatred. The United States Constitution allows all Americans to freely worship in the religion of their own choosing. Also, Americans who choose not to worship or adhere to any religion are free to do so.
It is clear that all genuine seekers of truth would not engage in ethnic hatred, bigotry, or acts of violence. Recent statements of Muslim leaders in America that not all Muslims should be blamed for the September 11 are correct. A small percentage of people who called themselves Muslims are responsible for their own actions. When one who calls himself a Christian commits a crime, not all Christians are responsible for the crime. So too, all Muslims are not responsible for what happened in New York and Washington.
While the government of the United States takes action against these acts of war, people of faith have a great opportunity to assert tolerance toward one another. Now is the time for Christians to demonstrate the love of Christ to our Muslim friends. Christians should pray for Gods greatest blessing on Muslims living as a minority in America.
And now is the time for moderate Muslims to demonstrate their acceptance of Christians and the ideals of tolerance and freedom in our republic. It is exactly this point which is the great need of the hour for Muslim leaders in America to address.
Moderate Muslim leaders need to clearly make the case that as Americans they support the freedom of all people to choose their own religion. Do these moderates tolerate the idea of individual Muslims deciding for themselves what religion to follow?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of former Muslims in the United States who live under the threat of death because of their own personal decision to no longer follow the Islamic religion. Freedom of religion is a cornerstone of the American republic. Former Muslims do not always experience this aspect of freedom because of the hatred and intolerance of others.
Moderate American Muslims need to clearly denounce those misguided people who, in the name of Islam, call for the death of those who leave the Muslim religion. To do otherwise is to promote intolerance toward our fellow Americans who choose to no longer adhere to the Muslim religion. And to do otherwise will demonstrate that even the most moderate form of Islam is incompatible with the United States Constitution.
Now is the time for moderate Muslim leaders in America to clearly define the limits of their tolerance.
John Marion, Jr. is the director of the Center of Peace and Hope in Christ for Afghanistan in Fairfax County. His email is: email@example.com. Additional copies of this can be downloaded at: www.AfghanBibles.com .
Osama's secret GPS cell phone # 00873-682505331
Of course not, but ALL male Muslims are misogynists (woman haters). This religion is hateful, intolerant, and barbaric, IMO. I don't trust anyone who actively practices it.
Treatment of Women in Islam
One American Muslim's view of how forces of hatred find a home in otherwise beneficent mosques and Islamic centers
by Mustafa Saied
special to MSNBC.com
Oct. 3 Ever since America was attacked Sept. 11 by suspected Muslim extremists, there has been a remarkable emphasis on displaying tolerance and understanding towards Muslims living and practicing their faith in the United States. As Americans are called to show respect towards Arabs and Muslims in their midst, it is only fair that the American Muslim community take an introspective look at their own action.
THOUGH THERE ARE many sincere and observant Muslims in America, it is also a fact that in mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim student associations in this country that are funded by extremist factions in Saudi Arabia, anti-American sentiments are commonly intertwined with religious teaching.
As a longtime member of the American Muslim community, I have a unique perspective on this. Born in India, I came to the United States on a student visa. Though the adjustment was easy because it had always been my dream to live here, during my college years I became involved with some extremist Muslim groups. I must admit that some of my conversations on campus were quite insensitive and hateful towards the United States and western civilization as a whole.
I left those ideas behind years ago, when I was fortunately convinced by some friends that these extremist teachings are alien to Islam. Now, as an American resident, I feel it is time to call attention to what goes on inside some Islamic organizations in the United States that function as enclaves of extremism.
RIDICULE AND SUSPICION
Anti-Americanism takes many forms, from a general suspicion of all things non-Muslim to the ridicule of American values and culture, to, in the most extreme cases, outright statements of hatred couched in the language of religion.
In some Muslim communities, it is not unusual for non-Islamic religious or cultural observances to be ridiculed. I have attended Friday congregational prayers in the week before Christmas, Halloween or Thanksgiving in which the sermons are marked with sarcastic references to American religious and cultural practices. This strikes me as hypocritical, especially considering that greetings on the Muslim Eid holidays from non-Muslims are received with pride, but members of most mosques are forbidden to acknowledge their neighbors celebration of Christmas or return a holiday greeting.
Parents are increasingly encouraged to send their children to Islamic schools because of a rising sentiment in the American Muslim community that the nations public schools are not safe, that they teach anti-Islamic subject matter and that their children are better off surrounded by Muslims rather than non-Muslims. I have not known any of these Islamic schools to encourage or practice the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, so I still fail to see how patriotism is in any way condoned, inculcated or preserved in the minds of our children.
The most extreme manifestation of anti-American sentiment is in the handful of mosques, Islamic centers and student groups that are controlled by forces that display a particularly venomous hatred towards the Western society. The teachings of religious experts ancient ones, like Ibn Taymiyyah, a Saudi scholar of the 13th and 14th centuries or recent leaders like Saudi Sheikh Albany or Abdul Wahhab are notable for their harsh rulings and strong words against non-Muslims.
SPORTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Much of this anti-American sentiment takes place out of sight, cloaked in language most Americans cannot understand and in communal religious activities that take place outside the mainstream. But sometimes it comes to the surface. A few years ago, for instance, when the media focused on basketball star Mahmoud Abdul Raufs refusal to stand during the singing of the national anthem, Rauf, then a player on the Denver Nuggets, received a great deal of public support from the American Muslim community.
Its hard to say exactly why Raufs co-religionists rallied to his cause: was it because a Muslim sports hero caught in a controversy deserved unconditional Muslim support? Or was it that these Muslims many of whom carry American passports felt the American national anthem did not deserve respect? In the end, Rauf came to terms with the issue by agreeing to stand, but silently pray, during the playing of the national anthem. In the aftermath of Sept. 11, I wonder how many American Muslims now regret their involvement in this cause.
FLAGS AND PASSPORTS
A prevailing argument among some Muslim critics is that the American flag stands for the various oppressions and injustices of American foreign policy. But if the American flag is problematic for some American Muslims, what does holding an American passport represent? If they feel so strongly about it, shouldnt these critics be turning in their passports?
Muslims living in this country and enjoying its freedoms should stop tolerating hate-filled speeches against the West in its centers and houses of worship. Now is the time to discourage anti-social elements within the Islamic centers and mosques. It is not enough for people to simply say that they do not agree with extremist rhetoric. Individuals have a responsibility to voice their concerns and put the pressure on the community to stop tolerating it.
And, if it comes to this, Muslims of good will should be ready to report extremists in their midst to the proper authorities, if they do not tone down their rhetoric no matter how pious these extremists may claim to be. We cannot let the brotherhood of religion outweigh the security of our country and the responsibilities we have as American citizens.
Introspection is never really painless. The time has come to step up.
Mustafa Saied wrote this commentary for MSNBC.com