Robert Spencer had a “debate” at Thomas More College recently with a former professor (and ping pong partner) of his, Catholic Theologian and apologist Peter Kreeft. It was quite evident that the two were friends and they were quite chummy with one another, in fact it was pointed out by Kreeft that this wasn’t a debate as much as it was a “dialogue” or “discussion,” I thought of it more as good ole’ Muslim bashing.
The resolution being debated was that “the only good Muslim is a bad Muslim.” Imagine the reaction if it had been “the only good Jew is a bad Jew” or the “only good Christian is a bad Christian.” Of course yours truly Robert Spencer, affirmed the resolution, defending it with the usual canard of ‘any Muslim who truly practices his faith is potentially dangerous and a threat to society.’ The “debate” was interesting as it exposed even more vividly the inherent biases and prejudices held by Spencer, the deep lack of understanding and knowledge of Islamic theology, belief and history as well as his limited command of the Arabic language.
Kreeft who didn’t provide much of a challenge to Spencer and who showed brightly his Ultra-Conservative Catholic belief essentially agreed with 95% of what Spencer was saying. While it is clear that Kreeft regards Muslim devotion to, and confidence in their faith in high esteem he nevertheless believes Islam is a “primitive,” “defective,” and “false” religion that has caused “more bloodshed” than Christianity.
Instead of challenging Spencer’s consistent distortions of Islam and Islamic teaching (he deferred to Spencer as an “expert on Islam”) he pivoted the argument to say that the greater threat to Catholicism is the Enlightenment and the Sexual Revolution.
Surprisingly, Spencer agrees with Professor Kreeft regarding the Enlightenment being a threat to Catholicism though he didn’t explicitly say that Islam was less of a threat. I can see how Ultra-Conservative Catholics may rail against the Enlightenment, it was the era which saw a secularist revolt in the name of Reason against the Catholic Church and which led to formulas for the Separation of Church and State, it also witnessed the decline of the power of the Catholic Church in the temporal realm.
However, it is quite hypocritical for Spencer to agree with such a premise, especially considering Spencer claims to be a defender of the West. Agreeing that the Enlightenment is bad is like saying that the Separation of Church and State is bad, or that Constitutional government is bad, all the things that Spencer claims to champion! (but which we have frequently shown is just a front for his own anti-Freedom supremacist beliefs).
A few other points were likewise revealed in this debate:
Spencer’s terrible command of Arabic and very poor articulation of Arabic. This has been revealed on other occasions such as when Danios slammed Spencer and one of his JihadWatch groupies‘ faulty understanding of the word dhimmi, which Spencer was trying to pass off as meaning “guilty people.”
Spencer said during the course of the dialogue on the topic of Islamic views of marriage that,
In Islamic marriage the woman is essentially chattel, and actually the word for marriage in Islam is an obscenity in Arabic, I am not making this up, the theological word for marriage in Islam is not a word that people say in polite company.
(Gasps from the crowd)
It’s because its a very degraded idea.
In this instance Spencer says that the theological word for marriage in Islam is actually an obscenity! A ridiculous notion that underscores the willful and deliberate ignorance of the so-called “scholar of Islam.”
The word that Spencer is likely referring to is *”Nikah” which simply means in Islamic theological terminology “marriage.” In claiming that “Nikah” is an obscene word that cannot be uttered in polite company, “scholar” Robert Spencer is committing a laughable gaffe that underscores yet again the shallow nature of his knowledge of Arabic and Islamic terminology. He is confusing a classical Arabic word Nikah, with the colloquial word (“Neik”), a different word, just because they sound similar. This would be like Spencer suggesting that Richard is an obscene word, because a colloquial subtract “Dick” is used as a derogatory word for penis. Well, here Spencer is arguing that Richard is an obscene word. That’s your scholar.
Also, when Spencer attempted to say Arabic words such as madhab, nasikh, mansukh, etc. it sounded like an Arabic 101 student struggling with pronunciation, it was quite embarrassing.
Kreeft, in one of the rare instances where he pushed back against his buddy Spencer said,
Kreeft: Doesn’t the Qur’an say that you can only have four wives if you respect them and treat them equally?
Spencer: It doesn’t say respect all of them, I have it here, it says you can have four wives if you treat them all equally, in other words if you treat them all the same, if you’re beastly to all of them then you can have them. It doesn’t say anything about respect.
Here Spencer reveals more of his biases and readings of his own prejudice into Islamic text. He believes the Qur’an calls for men to treat their wives “beastly.” Can he provide us a quote, a single verse that says anything remotely near that claim? In fact his claims are belied by the fact that the Qur’an and Islamic teaching specifically call for love, harmony, and respect between a husband and wife.
Take this verse (30:21),
“And amongst His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you love and compassion. Indeed in that are signs for a people who contemplate.”
or this one (2:228),
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (men) over them in kindness…”
or this (2:187),
“They (women) are your garments and you are their garments.”
or take the saying of Prophet Muhammad,
“The best amongst you, are the best for their wives”
So much for all that chattel nonsense.
More disturbing was when the question shifted from one in which Islamic belief is questioned to questioning the mere presence of Muslims in the West.
In reply to a commenter/questioner from the audience who basically asked “what will we do with Muslims in the West, since they are in our midst now,” Spencer replied,
Anyone who professes the Islamic faith, if he delves into the teachings of his own religion, he can end up being someone who is very dangerous to us. Now that doesn’t mean that people should be round up into camps and such but we need to enforce our own laws about sedition and formulate some sane immigration policies and recognize that this is an ideological conflict and not a problem of racism.
Oh thank heavens! At least Spencer isn’t calling for camps! Though his buddy Michelle Malkin does. Muslims need to *just* be aware that for merely professing to follow Islam they can be convicted of sedition! That is really the import of what Spencer is saying, he is calling for Muslims to be locked up and denied entry to the USA. Very Geert Wilders-esque.
The moderator asked the horrid question earlier to Kreeft and Spencer,
Couldn’t we learn from Muslims what we need to learn from reading their books but nevertheless energetically fighting their attempts to assert themselves in American society, restricting their entrance into our countries and just generally fighting political Islam, protecting our own religious freedom and our own political freedom by aggressively imposing our own values on our own societies. In other words, not permitting them polygamy, not permitting them honor killing, or wife beating or any of the other aspect of Sharia that they are asserting. In other words couldn’t we get all this from your book, your book tells us what we need to gain from Islam, and so, ok, fine, they can go home now?
The framing of the question is terrible, which Muslim or Muslim group is asserting Sharia? Who is calling for polygamy and honor killings? Then look at the condescending way in which the moderator asks “why don’t we tell them to go home now?”
So I ask you who is for freedom? Democracy? Who is viewing the “other” as foreign and not belonging?
Kreeft who is supposed to be the “counter” replied,
the long and complete and nuanced version of my answer to your question is ‘yes.’
Spencer answered the question without any caveats simply saying,
Spencer also asserted that there are “20-30,000 polygamous groups of Muslims in the USA” but he didn’t provide any independent evidence. This is in fact all conjecture to further the “stealth-Muslims-in-our-midst-who-are-trying-to-advance-creeping-Sharia’ conspiracy theory.”
To cap it all off a Thomas More student who is joining the Israeli Army said,
You’re probably familiar with the supremacy clause in the Qur’an, “In order to honor Allah you must kill all the infidels, first the Saturdays and then the Sundays.”
Spencer replied accurately (he had no choice) for once, thereby sparing himself further ridicule from us that “such a verse doesn’t exist in the Qur’an,” but unable to help himself he went on to say,
There is a hadith, it isn’t in the Qur’an that says the Muslim must kill the Jews, and the Jews hide behind trees and the trees cry out and say, O’ Muslim there is a Jew behind me come and kill him, that is an authenticated hadith, and so it is considered to be a laudable practice for a Muslim to kill a Jew because it is something that hastens the coming of the end times in which all things will be consummated, but its not specifically in the Quran like that.
Unbelievable. A colossal falsity, an absurd statement that ventures on the ridiculous and is certainly slanderous. In this instance Spencer is attempting to advance the notion that a tenent of Islam is that the End Times can be hastened and brought quicker by killing Jews.
In fact, Spencer should focus more on his Christian brethren in the Evangelical movement who believe they can hasten the second coming of Christ by planting the seeds of the second Armageddon.
Such a theological precept doesn’t exist in Orthodox Islam. In fact it runs counter to Islamic theology to say that one can hasten the End Times, and if anyone were to claim they could they would be immediately considered a heretic. However, I will deal with this claim in more depth in a future article. Suffice it to say that it is a despicable statement that underscores Spencer’s profound ignorance of Islamic theology and belief.
Dawood, one of our Loonwatchers points out,
“nikah” (نكاح) and “neik” (نيك) are completely different words, having no relation to each other in structure. As can be seen above (for those who don’t speak Arabic), only 2 letters are the same (ن ك). Unless Spencer is implying the Arabs simply decided to drop off a letter, which is something I have never heard of before!
The root term for “nikah”, means union, or the coming together of two things. He is obviously implying that it is a term meaning the sexual act, and in a lewd way, but it simply is not. It could definitely allude to it – as you can see from the meanings above – but it can also mean, as most people understand it, the coming together and union of two people in marriage. If we check the major lexicons, such as Hans Wehr and Hava, even the older texts such as Lane’s Lexicon, they support this interpretation clearly.