U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

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U.S. Islamophobes stand by Wilders as his own party members defect

(Imagine 2050)

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has once again become the subject of controversy after he led supporters in an anti-Moroccan chant during a campaign rally last month. Despite the mass condemnation he has received for the remarks, Wilders’ anti-Muslim counterparts in the United States are standing by his draconian approach to immigration.

While at the rally in The Hague, Wilders, who heads the Party for Freedom (PVV), asked the crowd: “Do you want in this city more or fewer Moroccans?” to which they chanted, “Fewer! Fewer! Fewer!”

“We’ll take care of that,” he responded with a wry smile.

Wilders later defended his comments and outlined his party’s plans to uphold his promise by “limiting immigration from Islamic countries, including Morocco” and promoting “re-emigration.” Wilders also plans on “deporting criminal Moroccans by revoking their Dutch passports” — as well as their dual-citizenship — and “sending them back to their country of their nationality.”

However, many PVV members believe Wilders has gone too far with his latest spectacle, and has led to a crisis within its ranks. Many have chosen to resign and disassociate themselves from the party, including Laurence Stassen who represents PVV in the European Parliament. “I deeply regret having to take this decision, but staying in my function was not an option after these comments,” she said in a statement.

Despite the mass exodus from his own party, anti-Muslim activists in the United States continue to uphold Wilders as a symbol of resistance against the devastation they believe will come as a result of an increased Muslim population:

  • Longtime anti-Muslim activist Daniel Pipes said although he didn’t agree with Wilders’ tactics, he sympathized with his goal of curbing immigration. “It is entirely understandable that the indigenous peoples of a country feel stress when large numbers of immigrants from an alien civilization, more than a few of them hostile, move in,” he said on his website.
  • Frank Gaffney took to his radio show to say Wilders is representing the “free world.” During the show, Gaffney described PVV’s policy as being a subscript for “describing the affliction that immigration, some of it illegal, has represented for a country like the Netherlands.”
  • Islamphobic columnist Diana West joined Gaffney on his show and took issue with the negative media coverage Wilders has received. She implied she saw nothing wrong with his comments because “Moroccans top the charts in criminality” as well as in “social dependence.” In another column at the Columbia Daily Herald, West defended Wilders anti-immigrant stance by posing the question: “Is it ‘racism’ to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation clearly underway?”
  • David Horowitz Freedom Center fellow Bruce Bawer also defended Wilders at FrontPage Magazine. He said he doesn’t see him as a “bigot,” but instead as “the real thing: a brave, selfless man determined to steer the ship of state through turbulent waters safely into port.” He added: “The Dutch would be fools to throw him overboard.”

Wilders’ latest diatribe is rooted in an anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim platform that has made him one of the most prominent figures of the global Islamophobia movement. He has previously advocated against the construction of any new mosques in the Netherlands, claiming they are a “symbol of an ideology of hatred, violence and oppression.” He has also equated the Qur’an to Mein Kampf. Wilders spent the summer forming a new political alliance with France’s far-Right National Front party leader, Marine Le Pen. Their goal is to take on the European Parliament this year. Both parties blame immigration and multiculturalism for Europe’s economic malaise and supposed loss of identity.

Even at a time when Wilders’ own party is trying to distance themselves from his extreme rhetoric, those in the broader anti-Muslim movement continue to show their unwavering support for him.

Islamophobes discover ludicrous “hospital jihad” plot

A proposed Muslim surgical facility in a Chicago suburb elicited the usual fear and conspiracy theory mongering that is the m.o. of Islamophobes. The center’s proposal was rejected today by state boardfor reasons unrelated to the Islamophobes but this stands as another instance of the Islamophobia crowd fabricating headlines.

Sheila Musaji has the story:

Islamophobes discover ludicrous “hospital jihad” plot

Chicago Business reported that “Dr. Naser Rustom plans to open the first outpatient surgery center in Illinois that he says will follow Islamic law.  …  He proposes to establish a $5.5 million medical facility in southwest suburban Orland Park that would cater to Muslims, including space for prayer and ritual washing and partitions for enhanced patient privacy. … Patients of all religious and cultural backgrounds will be treated at the center, which will not be different from other surgery centers except “to the trained eye.”

Summary of the facts:  a Muslim doctor has applied for permits to open a hospital in an area of Chicago with a large Muslim population.  The hospital would be for the entire community, no matter what their religion, but would accommodate Muslim religious and cultural customs to make Muslim patients more comfortable.

The Islamophobes were on this right way.  Debbie Schlussel, for example, posted New SHARIAH/ISLAM-ONLY Medical Center to Open in Chicago.  Schlussel introduces an article about this planned hospital with this comment:  “More and more, America becomes Islamerica. And here’s yet another example. But this is only the symptom, not the problem: a growing Muslim population that has metastasized and is a ticking population timebomb–through immigration (legal and illegal) and birth rate. A Muslim doctor, who also owns a Chicago Middle East restaurant (where you should NOT eat, or you are financing shariah), is opening a shariah-compliant medical center. You can bet, by the way, that the government will not force the constructs of Obamacare down the throats of these Muslims, just Catholic-operated hospitals and the like. (On the other hand, I’ve repeatedly told you about the medical jihadists–how Islamic doctors treat non-Muslim patients, so maybe it’s better if Muslim doctors treat only other Muslims. Sadly, that ain’t how it works.)”

Schlussel is Jewish, and for an American Jew to find this proposed hospital to be some sinister Muslim plot is unbelievable.  But since she seems unable to even read the article to note that the hospital would be open to all, and not “Islam Only” as her title falsely claims, I suppose she might just be that ignorant.

Schussel was not the only Jewish Islamophobe to show this level of ignorance.  Bonni Benstock-Intall of Bare Naked Islam titled her “expose” COMING SOON TO CHICAGO: Islamic Female Genital Mutilation.  And, Daniel Pipes wrote Islamists in the Hospital Ward in which he says “A Muslim surgery center in Chicago: It was inevitable: not fitting in to normal medical facilities, Islamists would have their own. But who would imagine the trend starting in a Chicago suburb, Orland Park, where Dr. Naser Rustom, an internist, plans to build a $5.5 million surgical center?”  This issue of hospitals that cater to Muslim patients truly bothers the Islamophobes.  Pamela Geller & Creeping Sharia previously called Muslim hospitals “hospital jihad”.

This is an obvious attempt to create a story out of nothing.  The concept behind this hospital catering to Muslim patients is well-established in the Jewish community.

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York has an article online that states:

“We understand the importance of delivering culturally sensitive care and serving the unique needs of all of our patients. We know you and your loved ones live in New York but may be most comfortable with nurses and other professionals who are sensitive to each patient’s cultural needs, customs and religious background.  At VNSNY, we’ve tailored our comprehensive home health care and community-based services to New York City’s Jewish population—the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

Our health professionals include nurses, therapists, home health aides, social workers, and translators who provide every type of care from mental health services to managing medications. They attend our La Bre Oot program, where they receive specialized training to recognize and understand the unique cultural needs and customs of their Jewish patients, particularly the laws and practices of Orthodox Jewish clients. Our staff members take those traditions into account when they care for you and your family. They are especially sensitive to:

Kosher dietary and nutritional practices and their relationship to medical conditions and continuing health
Laws of the Sabbath and holidays
Family dynamics in the care of the elderly and those with disabilities
Educating patients and families on medical conditions and treatments
In addition, VNSNY works closely with leading Jewish physicians, and we have nurses on-site at the major hospitals and medical centers that cater to the Jewish community, including Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel, NYU, Maimonides, and Lenox Hill. In addition, our relationships with the many community-based organizations that cater to New York’s Jewish population allow us to help our patients access the appropriate resources available in their neighborhoods.

An article To cater to the Orthodox community, back to basics reports that:

 

“Monmouth Medical Center, where more and more Orthodox Jewish patients from Lakewood are coming to give birth, is sensitive to cultural and religious needs. … To accommodate the growing Orthodox community in Long Branch, Deal and Lakewood, many physicians are opening offices nearby. “It’s a big part of what we do here,” said Dr. Dominick Lobraico where 35 percent of the practice’s births are to Orthodox parents.  The hospital operates a program to treat Orthodox patients and their families with sensitivity and educates its staff to do the same. … Because of a prohibition against the operation of mechanical devices on the Sabbath, Monmouth Medical Center has established a Sabbath entrance, which is a manual door, and a Sabbath stairwell to patient rooms so observant Jews do not have to use the elevator. … The Eisenberg Family Center offers a unit of private rooms for new mothers, with sofas in case a new father wants to stay the night. That unit also includes kosher kitchenettes and areas for prayer. Prayer shawls are located in a nearby bookcase.”

These Jewish Islamophobes continue to stir up the bigots, and as I wrote previously May Regret Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest of Bigotry.  Their anti-Muslim prejudice is clouding their judgement about how closely anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and all other forms of bigotry are linked.  Encouraging and condoning bigotry towards any minority ultimately can come to hurt all minorities.  Their ravings against Islam and Muslims are appealing to a certain segment of the population who need to have someone to blame and to look down on.  It is if she is taking a stick and sticking it into a hive of hornets and shaking it around and hoping they can control who those hornets sting.

Daniel Pipes: A Muhammad Cartoon A Day

Our Leader
Afghans hold placards reading: “Our leader Mohammed” during a protest against an anti-Islam film in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)

 

On Friday, Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) [love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Day] was observed throughout Pakistan. Many demonstrators  carried signs with red hearts bearing the Prophet’s name and inspiring slogans (“Our leader Muhammad” and “Honor Our Prophet”). This positive theme had great potential, but unfortunately, was marred by more violence.

A  thousand peaceful protests can be overshadowed by a single protest turned deadly, especially with the media so eager to highlight episodes of violence. Loons can hardly contain their glee.

In fact, Daniel Pipes wants to see more violence and mayhem. A lot more, until the so-called “Islamists” are finally tamed.

In his recent article published on mainstream conduit of hate, Fox News, Pipes has dipped into the historical archive and culled together an assortment of events, including the controversies over Salmon Rushdie’s lackluster book more than two decades ago, the Danish Cartoons of 2005, the nutty antics of the infamous “Reverend” Terry Jones, Qur’an burnings, and the recent provocations by the French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hedbo. He clearly relishes each and every incident that reinforces the notion of perpetual “Muslim outrage.”

According to his cynical interpretation of events, Muslims aren’t protesting because they’re defending their beloved Prophet Muhammad and their routinely maligned faith, Islam. Rather, Muslims, or “Islamists” in loon parlance, are protesting violently because they want to take over the West and abolish free speech.

Despite Pipes hateful motives and cynical exploitation of tragic events, he’s right about one thing: Provocateurs cannot be stopped by protests, and a violent backlash will only encourage more provocations. The right to free speech and exercising that right in a moral or responsible way are two different things, but it isn’t practical to legislate kindness and decency.

Many Muslims are quite understandably sickened and angered by attacks on their faith and the prophet they revere, but Islam is a religion of love and mercy, not of anger and revenge:

And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. Qur’an 41:34

And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” Qur’an: 25:63 

You are neither hard-hearted nor of fierce character, nor one who shouts in the markets. You do not return evil for evil, but excuse and forgive.  The Prophet Muhammad

These outrageous provocations will not end until they cease to generate sensational headlines, or in Pipe’s own callous words, ”until the Islamists [sic] become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”

A Muhammad Cartoon a day

by Daniel Pipes, Fox News

When Salman Rushdie mocked Islamic sanctities in his magical 1989 realist novel “The Satanic Verses,” Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini did something shockingly original: He issued a death edict on Rushdie and all those connected to the production of his book. By doing this, Khomeini sought to impose Islamic mores and laws on the West. We don’t insult the prophet, he effectively said, and neither can you.

That started a trend of condemning those in the West deemed anti-Islamic that persists to this day. Again and again, when Westerners are perceived as denigrating Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam, Islamists demonstrate, riot or kill.

Khomeini’s edict also had the unexpected side effect of empowering individuals – Western and Islamist alike – to drive their countries’ policies.

Fleming Rose, a newspaper editor, created the greatest crisis for Denmark since World War II by publishing 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad. Florida pastor Terry Jones sowed panic among American commanders in Afghanistan by threatening to burn a Koran. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and friends prompted a crisis in U.S.-Egyptian relations with his amateurish “Innocence of Muslims” video. And the satirical French weekly Charlie Hebdo caused the French government to temporarily shut down diplomatic missions in 20 countries. Plans by the German satirical magazine Titanic  to publish attacks on Muhammad likewise led German missions to be closed.

On the Islamist side, an individual or group took one of these perceived offenses and turned it into a reason to riot. Khomeini did this with “The Satanic Verses.” Ahmad Abu Laban did likewise with the Danish cartoons. Afghan President Hamid Karzai goaded his people to riot over burned Korans by American soldiers, and Egyptian preacher Khaled Abdullah turned “Innocence of Muslims” into an international event.

Any Westerner can now buy a Koran for a dollar and burn it, while any Muslim with a platform can transform that act into a fighting offense. As passions rise on both sides of the divide, Western provocateurs and Islamist hotheads have found each other, as confrontations occur with increasing frequency.

Which prompts this question: What would happen if publishers and managers of major media outlets reached a consensus — “Enough of this intimidation, we will publish the most famous Danish Muhammad cartoon every day, until the Islamists tire out and no longer riot”? What would happen if Korans were recurrently burned?

Would repetition inspire institutionalization, generate ever-more outraged responses, and offer a vehicle for Islamists to ride to greater power? Or would it lead to routinization, to a wearing out of Islamists, and a realization that violence is counter-productive to their cause?

I predict the latter. A Muhammad cartoon published each day, or Koranic desecrations on a quasi-regular basis, would make it harder for Islamists to mobilize Muslim mobs. Westerners could then once again treat Islam as they do other religions – freely, to criticize without fear. That would demonstrate to Islamists that Westerners will not capitulate, that they reject Islamic law, that they are ready to stand up for their values.

So, this is my plea to all Western editors and producers: Display the Muhammad cartoon daily, until the Islamists become accustomed to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.

The Sikh Temple Carnage, White Supremacy and Islamophobia

Sikhs pray at the funeral for those killed by White Supremacist terrorist, Wade Michael Page.

by Garibaldi

Friday, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin six Sikh Americans, five men and one woman, victims of a terrorist attack were laid to rest “surrounded by men and women singing traditional Punjabi hymns.” They were killed in their house of worship, the Gurdwara, where they had gathered for prayer and celebration. The six fallen are as follows: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; Suveg Singh, 84; and the temple’s president, Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65.

When news of the terrorist attack on the Sikh Temple was breaking I unreservedly reported it on Loonwatch, it had all the hallmarks of an attack rooted in hate and Islamophobia. Considering the underreported increase in hate crimes and bias attacks against Sikhs, many of which are motivated by attackers’ “misplaced Islamophobia,” I highlighted that,

At the moment we do not know who the shooter was, or his motivation, but in light of the rise in bias attacks and incidents against Sikhs, who are often mistaken for Muslims, this story may be related to violent anti-Muslim Islamophobia and general xenophobia.

Immediately, Islamophobic critics, most of whom are keen on downplaying the effects of racism and bigotry took offense, claiming we were trying to score “points.” This is nothing more than their own projection, as any crime, real or perceived, possibly committed by a Muslim would forthrightly be blamed by them on “Islam.” As Wajahat Ali points out, questions about whether Wade Michael Page actually mistook Sikhs for Muslims are “irrelevant.”

We have yet to determine if Page mistook Sikhs for Muslims, but such questions are irrelevant. In today’s Islamophobic atmosphere, there has been increased marginalization of all AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities. In particular, Sikh Americans have faced the brunt of post 9/11 hate crimes and backlash, with Sikh men often being mistaken for Muslims. The first, post 9/11 hate crime murder was of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh gas station owner in Arizona, whom the murderer chose because he was“dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.”

What has largely been missing from this discussion however is the relationship between White Supremacists and Islamophobia; their is a nexus that links the two. White supremacy is not new to the Islamophobia Movement. White Supremacist groups and ideologues on both sides of the Atlantic have latched onto the rhetoric of Islamophobic anti-Muslim hate, which they find to be an altogether more easier, accommodating and acceptable vehicle of bigotry to express their agendas and policies. This approach was summed up by Nick Griffin of the BNP (heirs of the White Supremacist National Front), his quite public attempt to break with the BNP’s anti-Semitic past was revealed for the fraud that every one suspected it was. At a conference in the USA, Griffin spoke about the BNP’s strategy and true attitude towards Jews,

“The proper enemy to any political movement isn’t necessarily the most evil and the worst. The proper enemy is the one we can most easily defeat.”

The enemy he talks about most “easily” defeating are Muslims.

Like the BNP, the Islamophobes in the EDL are following a similar course, showing faux respect and solidarity with other groups while bashing Muslims and Islam. Frequently, one will see Israeli flags at EDL protests, a cover that ironically masks a number of Neo-Nazis and sieg heil saluters at the core of the EDL grassroots. In Germany, a story layered with Islamophobia from the lowest to the highest levels exposed a severe security blunder on the part of authorities; for over ten years a cell of Neo-Nazis targeted and murdered German Muslims of Turkish and North African descent. Throughout Europe, Muslim places of worship, community centers and graves have been desecrated with swastikas. Geert Wilders (PVV), Marine Le Pen (FN), Vlaams Belang, Italy’s Northern League, Greece’s Golden Dawn are just some of the supremacists whose rhetoric echoes closely their more open and unabashed White Supremacist and fascist predecessors.

In the United States one must recall the godfather of Islamophobia, Daniel Pipes who bemoaned ‘brown-skinned Muslim people’s exotic customs,’

“Western societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”

Pipes’ Jewishness in this regard did not impede him from hurling such racist sentiments akin to what we expect to hear from the Grand Wizard of the KKK. The revelation here is that while some White Supremacists are eager to mask their old prejudices for more convenient “new” ones, there are some individuals from minority backgrounds who are all too eager to reciprocate. This is likely why you saw a Jewish Defense League division of the EDL, and Rabbi Nachum Shifren taking up the rhetoric of White Supremacism,

… I AM an Islamophobe, and everything we need to know about Islam, we learned on 9-11! I believe in peace and justice for everybody – but that’s not why they’re here…. We’re getting sucker-punched because we as white – yes I said it! – as white, Christian Americans are being taught that somehow WE are to blame for all the problems.

White Supremacism’s nexus with Islamophobia is even more vividly on display when we encounter the curious case of White Supremacist, David Yerushalmi. Yerushalmi, one will note, is the chief architect behind the anti-Sharia legislation drive that has swept dozens of US states over the past several years. Yerushalmi’s oxymoronic identities of Orthodox Jew and White Supremacist reminds one of the case of young Israeli-Russian Jews who turned Neo-Nazi, and afterword went on an anti-Semitic binge in Tel Aviv.

Yerushalmi is a co-founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE); an organization that seeks to criminalize the practice of Islam. Islamophobe David Gaubatz‘s Mapping Shariah Project was conducted under the aegis of SANE, it’s main claim that over 80% of mosques in the USA are hotbeds of radicalism and terror is a viral talking-point with the Islamophobia Movement. This fake claim about US mosques has been reproduced by such prominent bigots as Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and has even found its way into the mouths of numerous politicians, including Rep. Peter King, the McCarthyist chair of the current witch-hunt hearings on American Muslims. The number of “80%” has also been used to delegitimize and impede the construction of mosques. It was a frequent trope that was pulled out by anti-Mosque activists during the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy.

We know that bigots have, since 9/11, wedded the rhetoric of Islamophobia and White Supremacism. The Twin Towers, a building that was targeted by terrorists, has been transformed by the cynical in the Islamophobia-White Supremacist nexus into a symbol to be manipulated and exploited for their own agendas. Was it a coincidence that the terrorist Wade Michael Page had a 9/11 tattoo?

Maybe not.

9/11 and The Twin Towers have unfortunately become part of the iconography of hate amongst the Islamophobia Movement. The Twin Towers are all over the Islamophobes’ websites and blogs and even in their emblems, for instance, take Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller’s SIOA image:

Long before the SPLC labeled SIOA a hate group, Loonwatch did. Loonwatch exposed not only how Islamophobic the SIOA is but how its membership is filled with racists, many who espouse White Supremacist views, with frequent talk of “ragheads” and “sandniggers” on their official Facebook membership page.

In a clear example of the union of Islamophobic and White Supremacist iconography take Douglas Story, a White Supremacist who adorned his pickup truck with the Confederate flag; the Neo-Nazi code numbers of 14 and 88 on his license plate; as well as an image of the collapsing Twin Tower’s with the words, “Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Islam, I Learned on 9/11.”

Douglas Story was later arrested by the FBI for purchasing an AK-47 from an undercover agent. Robert Spencer defended Douglas Story and has never issued a retraction or an apology for his defense of Story.

I have only scratched the surface when it comes to the nexus between White Supremacism and Islamophobia in this article. There is much more to discuss. While Islamophobia is a multi-varied phenomenon, White Supremacism is a virulent and pungent trend within the ranks of the Islamophobia Movement. A further, more detailed article discussing all of the various Islamophobic-White Supremacist hate organizations, web sites, blogs, and political parties is necessary for a full treatment of this dangerous racism.

Round 2: THE 99 Superheroes Vs. The Loons

Wham! Bam! Islam!

By Ilisha

Last October, the loons were celebrating a small victory in their epic battle against THE 99 Comic Stealth Jihad:

THE 99 is an animated series featuring superheroes inspired by Islamic culture and society. The series was scheduled to launch in the US last week on the The Hub children’s television network, but producers have since announced the broadcast will be postponed indefinitely. Vicious anti-Muslim bigots everywhere are gleeful, boasting that their small but boisterous outcry may have prompted the delay.

The New York Post published a scathing article by outrage peddler Andrea Peyser criticizing the series and calling on anti-Muslim bigots to protest loudly so they can “cancel THE 99 before it starts.”  Peyser says the series will indoctrinate impressionable young children with Sharia-compliant Muslim superheroes “masquerading as the good guys.”

For Peyser the Hateful, Muslims are always super villains, so characters who represent the 99 virtues of God in the Qur’an will naturally use their powers to wage the ultimate jihad. She conjures up fearsome images of Jabbar the Powerful dishing out a mean stoning, and Darr the Afflicter venting his rage on hapless dhimmis

…Despite all the controversy, Dr. Al-Mutawa remains optimistic.  He has faced many hurdles in the last eight years, and his frustrations have been chronicled in the PBS documentary Wham! Bam! Islam!  ”One way or the other,” he says, “‘The 99′ will get on air in the U.S.”

Read the rest: THE 99 Superheroes Vs. The Loons

Now it seems professional outage peddler and hate sophisticate, Daniel Pipes, has at last detected THE 99 Comic Stealth Jihad and taken up the battle in his alarmist article, Islam’s Cartoon Missionaries:

Comic books as a method of missionizing for Islam (da’wa)?

Yes. One year ago, Harvard University hosted a workshop to teach comic book artists how to address Americans’ “unease with Islam and the Middle East.” And later this week, Georgetown University will air a PBS documentary, Wham! Bam! Islam! celebrating a comic book called The 99.

The 99 sounds innocuous. Adweek describes its topic as “a team of multinational superheroes [who] band together to fight the forces of evil.” The American children’s network Hub more fully explains that, “Created by noted Middle East scholar and clinical psychologist Dr. Naif al-Mutawa, [it consists of] superhero characters who must work together to maximize their powers. Each member of The 99embodies one of 99 global values such as wisdom, mercy, strength or faithfulness, and they hail from 99 different countries on seven continents. The series’ superheroes portray characters designed to be positive role models, representing diverse cultures, who work together to promote peace and justice.”

Who can object to the promotion of “global values … representing diverse cultures”?

But a closer look reveals the Islamic nature of the comic book. The title, 99, refers to Islam’s concept that God has 99 names, each of which appears in the Koran and embodies some attribute of His character: the Merciful, the Compassionate, the Kind, the Most Holy, and the All-Peaceful, but also the Avenger, the Afflicter, and the Causer of Death.

The comic book, produced by the Teshkeel Media Group of Kuwait, tells a partly-factual, partly-fantastical tale that begins in 1258 A.D., when the Mongols besieged Baghdad. Librarians supposedly saved the wisdom of the city’s main library by encoding it in 99 gems that get scattered around the world. The heroes must find these “gems of power” before an arch-villain does. Each of them is an ordinary Muslim who, through contact with a gem, achieves superhuman powers and represents one of God’s 99 attributes.

The superheroes are all Muslims (i.e., not Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist), some of whom come from Western countries like the United States and Portugal. In contrast, villains are primarily non-Muslims….

….Likewise, Barack Obama praised the comic books for having “captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes who embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam.” An Islamic investment bank whose products “fully comply with Shari’ah principles” invested US$15.9 million in Teshkeel and complimented it for “highlighting Islam’s rich culture and heritage.”

In short, The 99, available in both Arabic and English, contains overtly Islamic content and explicitly promotes Islam. Granted, its Islam has modern aspects, but among non-Muslims the series engages in surreptitious da’wa.

In addition to the comic books, Al-Mutawa has developed some spinoffs (online comics, games, lunch boxes, and theme parks) and envisages others (newspaper comics, stickers, and perhaps toys). But most of all, he wants an animated cartoon. Although the Hub network planned in 2011 to air The 99, this never happened, largely because criticism caused it to shy away from a show instilling “Islamic values in Christian, Jewish and atheist children.”

In short, to the Islamic indoctrination of Western children, already present in schools through textbooks ,additional school materials, and classroom trips, now add comic books and their many spin-offs, actual and potential. The 99 might be fine for Muslim children but, support from Georgetown University notwithstanding, non-Muslim children should not be exposed to missionizing propaganda of this sort.

Will THE 99 Comic Stealth Jihad succeed and lure our children into the clutches of the Mooslem supervillains?!? What are we to do now that Pipes the Courageous has revealed that even our Secret-Mooslem-President, Barak HUSSEIN Obama, is in on the plot?!?

Quick! Someone call Spencer Man and Geller Woman

The 19The 19: Spencer Man and Geller Woman..ugh.

…or before you can say derka derka Mohammed jihad, ”our children” will be snubbing pork rinds, and Mooslamic theme parks will be springing up like mosques in the heartland.

The Islamophobia Excuse

Sharia Hysteria
Photo by Ann Hermes / The Christian Science Monitor

Why would politicians and pundits want Americans to hate Islam and Muslims?

Many reasons, argues Philip Giraldi, including promoting Israel’s interests and justifying an endless series of wars in far away lands. (H/T: MasterQ)

The Islamophobia Excuse

by , Antiwar.com

It seems that the Republican presidential aspirants’ fervor to confront Islam has receded a bit with the decline and fall of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich, but one can likely still count on Rick Santorum to come up with some bon mots on the threat posed by Shariah law. Those who fear that hands will soon be lopped off shoplifters caught in Cleveland appear to be making much ado about nothing, but there is a much broader and more insidious agenda that is really playing out behind the scenes. Perry, Gingrich, and Santorum are all smart enough to know that Islamic law is hardly poised to dominate the U.S. legal system, but they are using it as the wedge issue to deny the patriotism of Muslims in general and fuel the demands to exercise a military option against Iran.

Promoting fear of Shariah law is essentially a red herring. There are more than 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world, and, while most have elements of Shariah in their civil and family law, only two have it as their criminal codes. They are Saudi Arabia and Iran, one a close ally of the United States and the West and the other currently playing the cameo role of a threat to the entire world, to borrow a phrase from the eminent Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel. The countries that do not have Shariah as their criminal codes have modeled their laws on European and American models, some borrowing from Roman law and others from British common law.

Depicting Islam as manifestly medieval, backward, and cruel is not new, as it has been going on in one form or another since the Israelis and Palestinians first locked horns. Recognizing that the propaganda that is being ground out in the mainstream media derives from that conflict, it is easy to understand why Muslims are persistently portrayed in negative terms. And it should be equally unsurprising to learn that those who are denigrating Muslims and Islam are almost invariably among the most uncritical supporters of Likudist Israel and all its works.

The list of those who are passionate about how bad Islam is has a familiar ring to it. It is led by the truly vicious and fanatical like Pamela Geller and includes John Bolton, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, and Charles Krauthammer. Geller has written that there is “a systematic campaign to impose Shariah on the secular marketplace” and to pervert the justice system in favor of Islamic exemptions, a theme that has been picked up by Gingrich and Santorum, both of whom favor pointless laws banning Shariah in any form. In a milder form, the same viewpoint is reflected in both the news coverage and the editorial pages of newspapers like The New York PostThe Washington Post, and even The New York Times. The arguments being made are not necessarily intended to convince anyone other than those who are already more than half onboard, but they are designed to keep the issue of how Muslims are not quite like the rest of us on the back burner to so that the legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and other Arabs will somehow always seem suspect. It also fuels other narratives that the neoconservatives and their friends support, like perpetual warfare against Islamic countries to bring about regime changes, suggesting that there is something that is not quite right in the way that Muslim countries govern themselves. The real objective is, however, spelled out in the paper that the neocons presented to Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, “A Clean Break,” advocating the breakup of Arab countries into smaller components that would be perpetually at war with themselves, thereby assuring Israeli predominance in the region. As is so often the case, the conversation in the United States is really all about Israel.

The broader agenda of Islamophobia also fuels arguments to continue to stay the course in places like Afghanistan. Urinating on corpses, hunting and killing local farmers for sport, shooting women and children in the middle of the night, and burning Qurans are all justified because American soldiers find themselves in a difficult and stress-filled environment where the enemies are everywhere and are manifestly not quite real people in the same sense that boys from Kansas are. Muslims become abstractions, and there is the undercurrent of “Don’t they know we are there to help them?” The rarely spelled-out subtext in all the narratives that seek to explain or mitigate the barbaric behavior on the part of America’s finest is that the Afghans are not quite like us and they are not being grateful enough. Their otherness comes partly from the perception that they are primitive but even more from the fact that they are Muslims.

Moving beyond Shariah, those who wish to marginalize Muslims in American life point to the terrorism arrests of Muslims who are American citizens or legal residents of this country. There have indeed been such cases, but a careful reading of the court records suggests that the arrests are mostly what once would have been considered entrapment. A disgruntled young man toys with jihadist websites, is identified, and suddenly finds himself with a new friend who presents him with an unusable bomb to blow himself up in Times Square. He is then arrested and finds himself facing 20 years in prison. The reality, however,  is that of 14,000 murders in the United States in 2010, not a single one was attributed to a Muslim terrorist.

So why should Americans hate or fear Muslims? If it were only the idiosyncrasies of their culture that were an irritant, one would reasonably observe that the United States has absorbed plenty of cultures and lifestyles equally outside of the Western European mainstream. The fact is that the Islamophobia we are currently seeing really has two objectives. First and foremost it is to protect Israeli interests, making Muslims appear to be a threat and a group that is irredeemably un-American, while Israelis are presented as people who are more or less just like us. That means that only one voice will be heard on the Middle East, which is precisely what has taken place. The second objective is to justify the seemingly unending series of wars in Asia, presenting the local people as lacking in the civilized moral and political values that we all hold dear. Ironically, this latter argument is self-defeating, as it is the foreign wars of the past 11 years that have stripped Americans of many of their liberties and constitutional rights. What we choose to fear in Islam and deplore in Muslim regimes — the lack of individual rights — has come home to us.

Honor Killing and Even More Proof You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s “Scholarship”

Coran and Spencer

Michael Coren and Robert Spencer

by Ilisha

It was a trial that captured headlines across Canada—the so-called “honor killing” of three teenage sisters and their father’s first wife in a quadruple murder staged to look like an accident.

On January 27, the girls’ brother, Hamed, 21, and their parents, Mohammad Shafia, 58, and Tooba Yahya, 42, were each found guilty on four counts of first-degree murder. All received the maximum sentence of life in prison.

On police wiretaps captured in the days following the murders, a remorseless Mohammad Shafia referred to his slain daughters as treacherous whores who had “betrayed Islam.”  The family is originally from Afghanistan, and sweeping statements about their cultural and religious background have put Canada’s Muslims on the defensive.

Imams across Canada and the US responded by issuing a fatwa declaring honor killing, domestic violence, and misogyny as “un-Islamic.” Nevertheless, the murders have prompted a fresh wave of anti-Islamic sentiment, and the usual assortment of crackpots have seized this tantalizing opportunity to vilify Islam.

Pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer recently discussed the case on Sun TV with English-Canadian talk show host and fascist sympathizer, Michael Coren. The 13-minute segment appears at the end of this article.

Spencer’s Five Big Lies about honor killings are refuted in this article, in order of appearance.

1. A Bogus Statistic

Spencer began with the baseless assertion that, “91% of honor killings worldwide take place among Muslims.” What is the source of Spencer’s statistic?

He makes the same claim on his website, Jihad Watch, and links to an article on the Middle East Forum as the source. This is an anti-Muslim propaganda site founded by Daniel Pipes, and the article referenced is authored by Phyllis Chesler, who is yet another rabid Islamophobe. Chesler cites an ill-defined “study” as the ultimate source of this statistic:

This study analyzes 172 incidents and 230 honor-killing victims. The information was obtained from the English-language media around the world with one exception. There were 100 victims murdered for honor in the West, including 33 in North America and 67 in Europe. There were 130 additional victims in the Muslim world. Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.

The “methodology” she describes is filled with weasel words, and it’s unclear who actually conducted the study or for what purpose. Culling 172 incidents from self-selected articles in the English-language media does not constitute a valid sample.

In the very same article, Chesler concedes, “Definitive or reliable worldwide estimates of honor killing incidence do not exist.” Then how has she managed to glean a precise statistic of 91%?

We have already covered this alleged “epidemic” of honor killings extensively in a previous article, Honor Killings: The Epidemic that Isn’t, where Chesler’s “logic” was exposed as absurd:

Taking her study at face value, do you think 33 honor killings constitutes an epidemic?  Stinging insects kill more than 40 people each year in the US, which is more than the number of honor killings Chesler reported over the course of her study for all of North America.  Chesler says, “to combat the epidemic [emphasis mine] of honor killings requires understanding what makes these murders unique.”

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, have all said that honor killings cut across cultural and religious lines. No credible organization cites a statistic that supports Robert Spencer’s assertion, which Phyllis Chesler seems to have pulled out of her hat.

2. Misinterpretation and Misuse of The Reliance of the Traveller

Coren asked Spencer if it’s true that there is Qur’anic and Sharia support for honor killings, and Spencer said, “Absolutely, Michael,” and, ”Islamic Law stipulates there’s no penalty for a parent who kills a child.” As we have already established in a previous article, this is a blatant lie:

In a pathetic attempt to prove Islam sanctions honor killings, the loons have dredged up  ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago. A convoluted interpretation of select passages has gone viral, and is now routinely cited on the pages of hate sites and in comments on numerous articles related to honor killing.

Geller quotes a section of The Traveller on her website that says certain crimes, including the killing of one’s offspring, are not subject to retaliation, implying Muslim parents have a free pass to murder their children under Islamic Law, which is a bold faced LIE. Retaliation is a form of reciprocal justice, lex talionis, commonly known as “an eye for an eye.”

A crime that is not subject to retaliation can still be punished by other means. Restrictions on reciprocal justice in the Qur’an were meant to reduce blood feuds and the cycle of vengeance. The concept of retaliation is also found in Jewish and Christian scriptures, and like honor killing, traces back to the ancient Code of Hammurabi.

Even if The Traveller sanctioned honor killing (which it doesn’t), it would be the interpretation of one Islamic cleric who lived centuries ago, and not a formal part of Islamic Law. Sharia is drawn primarily from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and neither sanctions honor killing.

Honor killing is a form of murder where the victim is denied a fair trial, which is contrary to Islamic law. Islam forbids acts of murder and vigilantism, and likens the killing of one human being to the killing of the entire human race (Qur’an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33).

Is Sharia exceptionally harsh or extremely lenient, even in the case of a serious crime like murder? Apparently it’s whatever suits Spencer’s agenda at the moment. In any case, a “renowned scholar” should certainly understand the ancient concept of reciprocal justice.

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive?

3. The Case of Syria and Jordan

Spencer cites “relatively moderate” Muslim-majority Jordan and Syria in an effort to provide real-world examples of Sharia-sanctioned honor killing. His examples fall short in two major ways.

First, although a single honor killing is one too many, these murders are not epidemic. Jordan has around 15-20 honor killings each year, and Syria has about 200. Both of these Muslim-majority countries have low overall homicide rates, in contrast to many countries in the non-Muslim world, most notably in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Central and Southern Africa.

Second, Syria and Jordan have mixed legal systems largely based on French Law, derived from the Napoleonic Code. In Syria, Articles 192, 242, and 548 have historically been invoked to reduce sentences in honor killing cases, and all are derived from the Napoleonic Code, not Sharia.

Syria’s Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, has unequivocally condemned honor killing. Hassoun specifically condemned Article 548, which has since been amended as part of Syria’s ongoing effort to abolish honor killings.

In Jordan, Articles 340 and 98 have historically been invoked to reduce sentences in honor killing cases, and they also derive from the Napoleonic Code, not Sharia.

While Spencer was correct when he said some religious and cultural conservatives in Jordan have resisted legal reform, Queen Rania and King Abudllah II have been outspoken advocates. In a report released last November, the United Nations praised Jordan for amending Article 340 so that it no longer exonerates the perpetrators of honor killings.

Spencer’s examples fall short because neither Jordan nor Syria has a high rate of homicides of any kind, and the legal loopholes in question are primarily a legacy of French colonialism, not Sharia. However, Coren asks no questions of substance, so it’s on to the next lie.

4. Khidr in Chapter 18 of the Qur’an

Spencer tries to “prove” honor killings are supported in the Qur’an, citing the well known story of Khidr in the 18th chapter as a justification.  From Jihad Watch:

Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 18, “The Cave,” verses 60-82

Verses 60-82 of Sura 18 contain one of the strangest, most arresting stories in the entire Qur’an: that of the journey of Moses and Khidr, one of the great road-trip stories of all time…

In Islamic tradition this man is identified as Al-Khadir or Al-Khidr, or, more commonly, Khidr, “the Green Man.” Some identify him as one of the prophets, others as a wali, a Muslim saint….

…Khidr murders a young man in an apparently random act, and Moses criticizes him again (v. 74)…

…Khidr killed the young man because he would grieve his pious parents with his “rebellion and ingratitude” (v. 80), and Allah will give them a better son (v. 81)….

…Another point emerges in Islamic tradition: don’t kill children, unless you know they’re going to grow up to be unbelievers. “The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst not kill them unless you could know what Khadir had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” The assumption thus enunciated may help explain the persistence of the phenomenon of honor-killing in Islamic countries and even among Muslims in the West…

Notice the child was not related to Khidr, and there was no honor motive. This “apparently random act” doesn’t fit the profile of a so-called “honor killing.”

The story is meant to convey the message that believers should have faith in God’s wisdom. Events may seem harsh and inexplicable, but when the veil is lifted and the broader truth is exposed, the believer will see that what has happened is ultimately for the best.

Spencer provided no examples of any Muslim citing the story of Khidr as a justification for honor killing, nor did he mention any scholars who have adopted his interpretation. In fact, the story of Khidr has historically been associated with charity and good works in the Islamic world.  

As for the Hadith Spencer quoted (Sahih Muslim Book 019, Number 4457), Muslims are instructed not to kill children, “…unless you could know what Khadir had known.  Khidr was granted eternal life and bestowed with direct knowledge of God’s will, which no ordinary Muslim can claim. It is simply not possible to know whether a child will grow up to be a believer, so it makes no sense to use this as a justification for murder.

In fact, it is widely known that Islam has always condemned infanticide, a common practice in pre-Islamic Arabia. The Qur’an  forbids the killing of children, expressly in 6:151 and 60:12, and implicitly in 2:49, 7:127, 7:141, 14:6, 28:4, and 40:25. Why would a “renowned scholar” of Islam be unaware of the many verses in the Qur’an that directly contradict his claims?

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive? 

5. Islam and the Judeo-Christian Tradition

Spencer also claims that the Judeo-Christian tradition sends the “opposite message” with respect to killing children, specifically citing Genesis 22:1-13 as an example.  In this Old Testament story, the Prophet Abraham was poised to sacrifice his son Isaac to the Lord, but just as he placed a knife to the boy’s neck, God sent an angel to intercede, and Isaac was spared.

The same story exists in the Qur’an and carries the same moral message. The major difference is that Isaac is replaced by Abraham’s other son, Ishmael. A “renowned scholar” of Islam should surely be aware of the corresponding story in the Qur’an (The Rank Makers 37:100-109).

In fact, numerous verses in the Bible recount the killing of children, and stipulate harsh punishments, including the death penalty. The following is not a comprehensive list:

Exodus 21:17

17 Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

Leviticus Chapters 20 and 21 also stipulate harsh punishments for dishonoring parents and committing adultery:

Leviticus 20:9-13

9 If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

10 If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 21:9

9 If a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she disgraces her father; she must be burned in the fire.

Deuteronommy (13:6-10) says if your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” … You must stone him or her to death. Death by stoning is also the punishment stipulated for a “stubborn and rebellious” son in 21:18-21.

In Judges (11:30-40), Jephthah killed his young daughter (and only child) by burning her alive to fulfill his vow to God, in exchange for a victory in battle.

In 2 Kings (2:23-25), when youngsters made fun of the Prophet Elisha’s bald head, he called down a curse “in the name of the Lord,”and two bears came out of the woods and tore 42 of the youths to pieces.

As a Catholic and self-proclaimed religious scholar, it seems reasonable to assume Spencer has read the Bible, so what explains this glaring double standard?

Is Spencer ignorant or deliberately deceptive? 

The bottom line is that honor killings are not Islamic. Spencer’s lies, no matter how often they’re repeated, can’t change that fundamental truth.

 

*********************************

The Muslim Comedian and the Islamophobe: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Interview

The Muslim comedian and the Islamophobe:  A funny thing happened on the way to the interview

by Sheila Musaji

Robert Spencer and his fellow Islamophobes are fond of asking Muslims impossible questions, demanding that Muslims “admit” to something or another, and developing tests for Muslims to “prove” that they are “one of us”.  Daniel Pipes had a test, David Horowitz had a petition he wanted Muslims to sign, Former Muslims United had a pledge against punishment for apostasy (created two years after an actual Muslim statement on this topic was issued) , the list goes on and on.  None of these are serious attempts at understanding anything.  They simply demand simple answers to complicated questions, or include some bigoted assumption within the question that no Muslim would agree with and demand a yes or no answer.

This is the infamous legal tactic exemplified by the question “Have you stopped beating your wife?  Answer yes or no!”

The most recent prove to me you’re not a radical Muslim test came out of a simple reqest for an interview with Robert Spencer by the Muslim comedian Dean Obeidallah.  Loonwatch lays out the background of this incident very well

Dean Obeidallah is working on an Islamophobia documentary and asked Robert Spencer if he could interview him. A simple request one would think? Spencer of course is chicken (as we have shown before), he doesn’t want to be exposed for the buffoon he is, and so he responded to Obeidallah with an inquisition-like (pun intended), 1,000+ worded questionnaire.

Isn’t this extremely odd? Spencer attempted to pass off his fear of this interview by claiming that Obeidallah was “running” from his questions. When Obeidallah called him out on not presenting the truth, Spencer begrudgingly published Obeidallah’s response:

Robert – I dont have the time to answer all ur questions in the midst of editing a film and all the other projects Im working on – in fact I didnt even finish reading all of them.

You dont know me but Im a rather direct person so so let me make this easy: If you are interested in being interviewed for our film, I can assure you that we will not quote u out of context or play any games with you- we will ask u straightforward questions – most of which Im sure u have been asked before.

If ur interested then lets please lock in a date when u will be in NYC and conduct the interview. If you’re not interested then lets not waste any more of each other’s time-I know we are both busy people.

Thanks, Dean

That’s pretty direct in my opinion. What is Spencer so scared of? Isn’t he the “champion of freedom,” defending the West against the Muslim hordes?

Here is an opportunity Spencer for you to put your cape on and be the champion of the “counter-Jihad” world!

Here is the 1,000 word plus questionnaire required by Spencer in order to consider being interviewed by Obeidallah, and I have taken the liberty of responding to the questions myself.

1. True or false: No comedy show, no matter how clever or winning, is going to eradicate the suspicion that many Americans have of Muslims. This is because Americans are concerned about Islam not because of the work of greasy Islamophobes, but because of Naser Abdo, the would-be second Fort Hood jihad mass murderer; and Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas; and Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore; and Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland; and Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer; and Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer; and Naveed Haq, the jihad mass murderer at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle; and Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who hatched a jihad plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue; and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber; and many others like them who have plotted and/or committed mass murder in the name of Islam and motivated by its texts and teachings — all in the U.S. in the last couple of years

The only Americans who are concerned only about Muslims who have carried out or plotted terrorist actions are those who have fallen for Robert Spencer and other “greasy Islamophobe’s” big lie about the actual terrorism threat coming primarily from Muslims.  All of us need to be concerned about all such actions, including those by non-Muslims such as — Ray H. Adams, Jim Adkisson, Alabama Free Militia, Chad Altman, Animal Liberation Front, Army of God, Samuel Arrington, Jonathan Avery, Sergio Baca, Daniel Barefoot, Philip Bay, John Patrick Bedell, Kody Brittingham, Seung-Hui Cho, Demetrius Van Crocker, Daniel Cowart, Samuel J. Crump, James Cummings, Matthew Derosia, Jeremy Donahoe, John Earl,  Earth Liberation Front, Paul Ross Evans, David Anthony Fuselier, Matt Hale, Jeffrey Harbin, Kevin William Hardham, Lucas John Helder, Patricia Hughes, David Hull, Hutaree Christian militia, Idaho Mountain Boys Militia, Vadim Ignatov, Bruce Ivins, JDL, Jerry and Joe Kane, KKK, Joseph Konopka, William Krar, John F. Lechner, James Lee, Ryan Daniel Lewis, Thomas Hayward Lewis, Jared Lee Loughner, Davvie Love, Keith Luke, Dennies & Daniel Mahon, Alberto Martinez, David McMenemy, Jonathan Maynard, Justin Carl Moose, Donny Eugene Mower, Patriot Movement, Robert Pickett, Richard Andrew Poplawski, Project 7, Charles Carl Roberts, Daniel & Timothy Robinson, Dan Roberts, Scott Roeder, Daniel James Schertz, Paul Schlesselman,  Kyle Shaw, Joseph Stack, Rossie L. Strickland, Roger Stockham, Texas Militia, Frederick Thomas, Bruce & Joshua Turnidge, omar Falu Vives, James von Brunn, Lonnie Vernon, Clayton Waagner, Jeffrey Weise, Byron Williams, Alexander Robert Youshock..

2. True or false: The fact that there are other Muslims not fighting jihad is just great, but it doesn’t mean that the jihad isn’t happening. This comedy show simply doesn’t address the problem of jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism.

This is not a true or false question.  The question contains more than one element, and requires a more complex answer than is possible with a simple true or false.

3. What do you make of the fact that Islamic supremacists from the Muslim Brotherhood invented the term “Islamophobia” in order to deflect attention away from jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, and intimidate opponents thereof?

Spencer believes that he knows who coined the term “Islamophobia”.  There are certainly a number of different theories about when the term was first used.  It really doesn’t matter who used the term first.  The term itself has come to be used to describe a particular form of bigotry against Muslims and Islam, just as anti-Semitism has come to be used to describe a particular form of bigotry against Jews and Judaism.  It’s primary use is to direct attention towards outright bigotry.

4. What do you have to say about the fact that FBI statistics show that there is no “Islamophobia”?

Actually, FBI statistics do not show that there is no “Islamophobia”.  What the most recent “hate crime statistics” do show is that there have been fewer hate crimes committed against Muslims in the U.S. than there were against Jews.  Whether this might also reflect a reticence to report such crimes on the part of members of some refugee communities particularly has been discussed.  And, the same report documents the fact that the actual hate crimes against Muslims, while still lower than those against Jews, have increased by 50% over the last year.  Hate crimes statistics are only one of many possible indicators of prejudice and bigotry.

Other possible indicators of Islamophobia including EEOC complaints about work related discrimination, and a trend towards an increase of anti-Muslim, anti-Islam rhetoric from public figures, Christian andJewish clergy, and even elected representatives would appear to show that this is a word describing a real phenomenon.

5. What do you have to say about the fact that many “anti-Muslim hate crimes” have been faked by Muslims, and that Jews are eight times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate attacks.

For every category of hate crime there have been people who have taken advantage of an opportunity to further their own agenda and claim a hate crime where none existed.

There are hundreds of such cases.  Here are just a few:

— In Florida LB Williams, a 50-year-old black man, his wife of nearly seven years Donna Williams, who is white, and their bi-racial daughter found a cross burning in their driveway.  This was reported and investigated as a hate crime, but it turned out that Mr. Williams faked the whole thing in an attempt to stave off a divorce.
— In Anderson, California, a black high school student staged a fake hate crime because she was angry with her father for not picking her up on time.
— A Jewish student at George Washington University faked an anti-Semitic hate crime

The issue is not that there are some despicable individuals who will lie about hate crimes, but that there are far too many legitimate hate crimes against minorities.

6. True or false? Since the Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,” one easy way to do that would be to guilt-trip non-Muslims into being ashamed of resisting jihad activity and Islamic supremacism, for fear of being accused of “Islamophobia.”

Another impossible true or false question.  To think that every American Muslim is somehow privy to internal Muslim Brotherhood plots, or has ever even met a member of the Muslim Brotherhood for that matter is nonsense.  The Muslim Brotherhood document that Spencer refers to has had a lot of questions raised about its authenticity.

7. True or false: Negin Farsad, with her “eye-catching mini dresses,” etc., has more to worry about from observant Muslims than she does from “Islamophobes.”

Negin Farsad is a competent Muslim woman who can speak for herself.  Ask her the question.  My guess (as a Muslim woman myself) would be that she would say that Muslim women have as much to worry about from Muslims holding extremist interpretations of Islam, as from Islamophobes.  Being an extremist and being observant are not the same thing.

8. What do you think of this: When you call Geller (and by implication, me) a “Muslim hater,” I believe that you are ascribing people’s legitimate concerns about jihad and Islamic supremacism to “hate,” and that the only effect of this will be to make people who have those legitimate concerns to be even more suspicious of Muslims, which will only lead to more of what you call “Islamophobia.”

Geller is called a “Muslim hater” because of the hateful things she herself is documentedas saying.  — ”Devout Muslims should be prohibited from military service. Would Patton have recruited Nazis into his army?”  — I would like to feel all warm and fuzzy and embrace the moderate Muslim/ meme but they show no evidence of their existence – not in any real number anyway. The only voices of reason in the Muslim world are lapsed Muslims or apostates. — We can pretend or we can strategize on how to defeat our mortal enemy. — Muslims have no right to invoke Moses and Abraham. — Muslims have no right to invoke Moses and Abraham. — There are no moderates. There are no extremists. Only Muslims. — Islam is not a race. This is an ideology. This is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth.

And, here are a few of your own quotes, Mr. Spencer — Islam itself is an incomplete, misleading, and often downright false revelation which, in many ways, directly contradicts what God has revealed through the prophets of the Old Testament and through his Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh… For several reasons… Islam constitutes a threat to the world at large. — no American official should be taking an oath on the Qur’an, since—as we have been pointing out here for over three years now—there are so many elements of traditional and mainstream Islam that are at variance with our system of government, our Constitution, and our entire way of life. — there is no reliable way to distinguish a “moderate” Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a “radical” Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment. — The misbegotten term “Islamo-fascism” is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state. — there has been no widespread, sustained, or sincere Muslim outcry against the jihad terrorist enterprise in general. — there is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists.

Geller and Spencer’s hateful rhetoric could fill a book.  Refusing to acknowledge this sort of speech as hatred will only make Muslims not only suspicious of those who engaged in such speech, but proves to us that Islamophobia really does exist.

9. Is there a plan behind your demonizing and smearing of all anti-jihadists? Do you want to create “Islamophobia” in order to claim privileged victim status for Muslims and exempt them from reasonable law enforcement scrutiny?

Actually, no we would like to shine a bright spotlight on Islamophobia and it’s purveyors so that decent people can see it for what it is and reject it as bigotry pure and simple, so that we can stop wasting time responding to bigotry against all Muslims and use that time to work together to fight against actual Muslim and non-Muslim extremists.

10. What kind of work have you done to raise awareness about the escalating persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim societies, which is far worse in Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere than Muslims have it here? Why not?

Dean Obeidallah is an American Muslim comedian.  He is not responsible for solving all of the problems of the world, even those directly involving Muslims anymore than every Christian is responsible for solving all of the problems of the world directly involving Christians.  Spencer, you are Catholic, what have you done to raise awareness about the pedophilia crisis in the Catholic Church, or about the genocide of Muslims by Christians in Bosnia, or about brutality and slaughter by the Christian Lord’s Resistance Army in Africa, or about numerous other crimes involving Christians?  It’s ludicrous to believe that every individual member of any religious group is personally responsible for every injustice committed anywhere in the world by anyone who shares the same religion.

11. On what basis do you imply that those who are defending freedom against jihad are “exhibiting behavior which is less than consistent with the values of this nation”? What have you done to resist the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated agenda of “sabotaging” this nation “from within”?

You are not defending freedom against jihad, you are consistently demonizing Muslims.  And, it is not only Muslims who are openly stating that this is bigotry.  There is a reason that the ADL (A Jewish anti-defamation group) has said that Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) is a “group that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that they are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that Geller and Spencer are featured prominently in the Center for American Progress “Fear Inc.” report on the Islamophobia network in America.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  There is a reason that Geller is featured in the Political Research Associates reportManufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.  There is a reason that they are featured in our TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.  There is a reason that Gellerand Spencer are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred.

12. Aside from the murder of a Sikh by an idiot shortly after 9/11, what evidence do you have of any backlash against Muslims to which you refer so off-handedly in the WaPo? Where are Muslims suffering violence, discrimination, harassment of any kind? Even you expected far worse than you got when you went to the South — and the level of harassment you did get was no worse than what I get in my email every day. So why the overblown claims about it?

You need to do a little research yourself, and might start with the following collections of resources:

– ALARMING STATEMENTS Note, previously divided by year and now consolidated into one collection
– Alarming statements by elected officials and political organizations
– Answers to Peter King’s Claims About the American Muslim Community
– Claim That All Terrorists are Muslims Ignores History (sections on Christian extremism and terrorismand Jewish extremism and terrorism were divided 4/08)
– Existing reports and studies on radicalization and the American Muslim Community
– INCIDENTS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA – Prejudice, Racist, or Violent Incidents at MOSQUES – Incidents, hate crimes –  Tariq Ramadan incident – and Khalil Gibran Academy incident and Obsession film incident– Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week incident
– Islamo-Fascism?:  Deceptive Labels & Propaganda are Counterproductive
– Islamophobia: Real or imagined
– MEDIA, Propaganda & Perception
– Polls, statistics, and surveys relating to Islam and Muslims
– A Long History of Injustice Ignored
– A Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry
– What everyone “knows” about Islam and Muslims

13. And yes, what do you think about these recommendations?

Do Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah really want to eradicate “Islamophobia”? As long as Islamic jihad and supremacism continue, a comedy tour will never do the trick. But here is an easy way. They can call on Muslims in the U.S. to do these things:

1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just “terrorism,” but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that American and Israeli civilians are innocent people, teaching accordingly in mosques and Islamic schools, and behaving in accord with these new teachings.
3. Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.
4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities

1 and 2.  Please see the thousands of fatwas, statements, articles, etc. by Muslims denouncing extremists committing violent acts in the name of Islam in our TAM collection Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism.  Type “lunatic fringe” into the search engine of TAM for numerous articles denouncing particular extremists and extremist groups.  See my article American Muslims must defend the Constitution of the United States in which I said America is a secular and democratic nation with a clearly marked wall between church and state (thank God!).  One of the reasons America has been a beacon to the world is the freedom that all Americans have to practice any (or no) religion.  As an American Muslim I don’t believe that America can be defined as anything but a secular democracy (secular meaning neutral towards religion, not devoid of religion or hostile to religion) in which all religions are free to worship.  I don’t want to see Shariah, or Biblical law, or any other religious law replace the Constitution, and I don’t want to see any kind of a theocracy in place based on any religion.  I agree with Rabbi Arthur Waskow that “When those who claim their path alone bespeaks God’s Will control the State to enforce their will as God’s, it is God Who suffers.” All civilians are innocent including Americans, Israelis, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Iranians, etc.

3.  There are numerous existing studies, polls, and statements about radicalization in the Muslim community and how the community is working to counter attempts by extremists to radicalize individuals here.  The efforts within the Muslim community are numerous.  MPAC alone has many ongoing efforts including the NATIONAL GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT TERRORISM and BUILDING BRIDGES TO STRENGTHEN AMERICA: BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE COUNTERTERRORISM ENTERPRISE BETWEEN MUSLIM AMERICANS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT.  Also type “radicalization” into the TAM search engine for numerous articles, etc.

4.  Why would American Muslims be responsible for building comprehensive programs in other countries.  We are Americans.

5.  Muslims have already done this.  And, in fact, many of the actual arrests made of individuals plotting some terrorist act were made because of tips from American Muslims.

To sum up, yes you are an Islamophobe.  The fact that you and your partner Pamela Geller have shown time and time again that you have a tenuous grasp of the concept of “truth telling”, and haveattempted to conceal evidence when you’ve been caught in lies and distortions is shameful.  The fact that you have also shown time and time again that you have no qualms about exploiting a tragedy to further your own agenda is shameful.  The Belgian shooting tragedy, and the Hollywood shooting tragedy are just two of the most recent examples.

The fact that you are a middle aged man whose primary means of earning a living comes from being paid to churn out anti-Muslim propoganda is shameful.

A little comedy, preferably satirical about Islamophobes and their tactics wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Update Robert Spencer and David Horowitz jointly published another version of these 5 questions on Front Page Magazine.

Is Robert Spencer Captain Oblivious? A Case Study in His Epic Double Standards

Hat tip: HGG

Hat tip: HGG

I’m absolutely no fan of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Unlike the neocon nutter Daniel Pipes who said that he was “rooting for Ahmadinejad,” I was praying for the opposition to win.  But I must always speak the truth, and therefore object to (the fraudulent liar) Robert Spencer’s absolutely deliberate misquoting of the Iranian president.  Spencer just published an article which he entitled as follows:

Ahmadinejad: “With God’s grace,” Israel “will be annihilated.”

In fact, Ahmadinejad did not say that.  The proof is in the news article Spencer himself linked to, which claims that the Iranian president said: “With God’s grace, this [Israeli] regime will be annihilated.”   A world of a difference.  Isn’t it the neocons themselves who call for the toppling of regimes in the Arab and Muslim majority world?  Isn’t it Spencer himself who calls for this, in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and even Iran?  So it’s ok to call for it against Muslim regimes, but not “Judeo-Christian” Western ones?

This deliberate misquoting of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot be a mistake, because Robert Spencer–being the global expert of the Islamic world that he is–must be well aware of the now famous misquoting of Ahmadinejad in 2005; the Huffington Post reported:

As the Bush Administration beats the drums for another war of choice with another country that had nothing to do with 9/11, they are using another series of fabricated facts to indoctrinate the American people into thinking that Iran poses a serious threat to our security. At the core of these fabrications is the claim that on October 25, 2005, during a speech at the Ministry of Interior conference hall, the then newly-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad remarked that “Israel must be wiped off the map.” As someone who was born in Tehran, lived there for seventeen years and is a native Farsi speaker, I have read the original transcripts of the speech in Farsi and want to inform you that Ahmadinejad never said “Israel must be wiped off the map,” but rather, his statement was grossly mistranslated and taken out of context, perhaps to help make a case for military action against Iran.

Let’s analyze what Ahmadinejad said. His exact words in Farsi were as follows: “Emam goft een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzegar mahv shavad.”

The correct translation of the statement is as follows: “Imam said this occupying regime in Jerusalem must vanish from the page of times.”

And the word-to-word translation of the statement is as follows: Emam: Imam (Khomeini, leader of the 1979 revolution); Goft: said; Een: this; Rezhim-e eshghalgar: occupying regime; Qods: Jorusalem; Bayad: must; Az: from; Safheye: page of; Ruzegar: times; Mahv shaved: vanish.

Coming back to the recent quote reproduced by Spencer, Ahmadinejad obviously didn’t say for Israel to be annihilated.  The fact that he specifically used the term regime indicates that he absolutely was not calling for that.  This much you can tell just from reading the article that Spencer himself cited.  As for the news article itself, I wonder how accurate their translation is; did he really call for the regime’s annihilation or its elimination (a much less loaded term)?

Anyways, moving beyond Robert Spencer’s deliberate misquoting (which shows how truly fraudulent this man is), there is an even more glaring issue here.  Even if we pretend that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad called for the annihilation of Israel (which he didn’t), then what about the hate video that Robert Spencer just promoted on his website, where a Hindu extremist calls for the annihilation of Pakistan–to wipe it off the map?  It’s almost the exact same words as Spencer attributes to Ahmedinejad!  And this is in the translation that Spencer himself put up.  It is truly unbelievable how oblivious Spencer is to his profound double standards.  Or perhaps he is not oblivious at all (which is actually more likely), and just hopes that nobody important (aside from his loyal Islamophobic fan base) sees through his thin veneer of hate, bias, and double standards?

The brainwashed extremist girl declares:

…Soon our whole nation [of Hindustan] will rise.  When our people rise up, it will be very difficult for you [Pakistanis].  It will be disastrous for every inch of your land…Kashmir will continue to exist, but not Pakistan.  Who [amongst you] will voice such concerns?  Who will show the braveness to use the atom bombs we have [against Pakistan]?  Ask them [the Indian government] who is going to use the [atomic] weapons we have?  Whom are they waiting for?  Don’t worry what is happening now.  History is where it is. We have the capacity to change the geography of the world [by wiping out Pakistan]…everything between [the Pakistani cities of] Karachi to Rawalpindi will become worthless…There won’t be any Pakistan!  If you continue to believe this, I assure you that Pakistan won’t be present in the world for long.

Notice how she goes way past anything that Robert Spencer just criticized in Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s speech.

And one can’t help but notice the absurdity of Spencer saying:

There just isn’t much that’s peaceful about the Iranian regime, but they expect us to believe the nuclear program is.

Earth to Captain Oblivious: you just promoted a video of a Hindu extremist advocating the use of nuclear weapons to absolutely destroy Pakistan and wipe it off the map.  You posted this only within the last few days, and we just published our article calling you out for this.   Maybe you should at least have waited a few weeks, with the hope that people would begin to forget the hate speech posted on your very own site.

What an absolutely unbelievable hypocritical fraudster Robert Spencer is.

(It should be noted that we here at LoonWatch are in no way, shape, or form insinuating that the extremist girl represents Hindus.  Clearly, she is part of a fringe minority of extremists.  Furthermore, I advise the readers not to be harsh with her; I’ve read some people calling her some pretty nasty things.  Calm down.  She’s only sixteen years old and brainwashed.  She’s probably never even seen a Pakistani in her life.  She wasn’t even alive when those events she mentioned in her speech happened.  It’s not her fault as much as those who indoctrinated her with this burning hatred.  I hope that one day, with age and maturity, she recants.  So go easy on her.  The true villains are those like Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller who are grown adults and yet promote her immature words.)

Update:

A loyal reader of our site (hat tip: Zam) pointed out to me that the JihadWatch.org article against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was written by Marisol, not Spencer.  Nonetheless, it was posted on Spencer’s own site.  And we must assume that he approves of the message, since he has neither repudiated nor recalled the article.

More importantly, he has condemned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s supposed statement multiple times in the past, such as here where Spencer laments: “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared at a conference in Tehran entitled ‘The World without Zionism’ that Israel should be destroyed.”   Spencer entitles this article “Iran Calls for a New Holocaust.”  In fact, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad simply reproduced the words of Ayatollah Khomeini, just as Spencer reproduced the words of the Hindu extremist.

Of course, neither Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollah he quoted actually called for the annihilation of Israel or a New Holocaust (see Huffington Post article I referred to earlier); on the other hand, both the Hindu extremist and Spencer endorsed a call for a nuclear holocaust in Pakistan.  I’m sure Spencer condemns himself for that.

Fathima Bary Needs to Read Her Bible; Final Word on Islam and Apostasy

apostasy

An emotional Fathima Rifqa Barywhose personal writings reaveal that she wants to be a modern day prophet–said of her parents:

“My parents are Muslim…I don’t know if you know about honor killing…They have to kill me…Because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It’s in the Quran. And you can, like, give them knowledge about it [gestures to someone off camera, who says something unintelligible].”

It seems that Fathima’s understanding of the Quran comes from whomever she pointed to, whom I can only assume is her pastor (or pastor’s underling more likely). A few more dry runs could have perfected the performance. She just had to memorize a few verses to prove her claim:

13:6 If–your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, which is as your own soul–entice you secretly, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods,” which you have not known–not you, nor your fathers;

13:7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, near to you, or far off from you, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;

13:8 You shall not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him:

13:9 But you must surely kill him; your hand must be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.

13:10 And you must stone him with stones, that he die; because he has sought to thrust you away from the LORD your God.

Well, that’s pretty damning evidence right there. That sounds a lot like “honor” killing: “If your brother…or your son or your daughter….entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and worship other gods’…You must kill him…you must stone him with stones, that he die.” Well, if that’s in the Quran, then we better ban all Muslim immigration to America!

But before we call Homeland Security, I hope you don’t mind if I check the Quran to verify if those verses exist.

[Flipping through pages of Quran]

Hmmm, can’t seem to find it.

Oh wait, *smacks forehead*, I remember now where those verses are from. Ahh yes, they are from the Bible (Deuteronomy, 13:6-10). There are of course many other Biblical verses in the same vein, such as 2 Chronicles 15:13 which reads:  “All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.”

Oopsie doopsie!

Maybe it’s not such a good idea to randomly quote someone else’s scripture or medieval texts without any context as a proof to demonize a people or to fear monger.

Introduction

Islamophobes insist that Islam says that apostates must be killed. These ardent critics of the faith are of the view that Islam is for this reason simply incompatible with the Western Judeo-Christian tradition.  Their view–which they try to propagate–is that Islam is somehow so inherently different from all other religions that it should be singled out as the one faith that we just absolutely cannot tolerate.

The issue of course is that “Islam” doesn’t “say” anything, since it is not a person.  Islam is in fact polyvalent: it has within it different understandings and interpretations of the religion.  On this particular issue, Islam itself doesn’t “say” anything.  Valerie Hoffman, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Illinois, commented on the issue of apostasy in Islam: “You can’t say Islam says this or Islam says that.” The question of course is “whose Islam” and “which Islam?”

Yes, the majority “classical” and “traditional” opinion codified hundreds of years ago was indeed that apostates from Islam should be killed. However, such views are abundantly present in the Judeo-Christian tradition as well, yet Jews and Christians have over the course of time reanalyzed their canonical texts and come to different understandings today.

Before the Great War, the Ottoman Empire united Muslim lands under one symbolic leadership. (Perhaps an oversimplification but it suffices for our discussion here.)  It is interesting to note that the Ottoman government eventually stopped enforcing the punishment for apostasy and finally abolished it altogether in 1844, more than one hundred and sixty years ago:

Punishment for apostasy (in any case, extremely rare) was not in practice enforced in later times and was completely abolished by the [Ottoman] Turks by a decree of the Ottoman government in 1260/1844.

(The New Encyclopedia of Islam, by Cyril Glasse, p.54)

And we read:

The Ottoman Caliphate, the supreme representative of Sunni Islam, formally abolished this penalty…The Shaykh al-Islam, the supreme head of the religious courts and colleges, ratified this major shift in traditional legal doctrine. It was pointed out that there is no verse in the Qur’an that lays down a punishment for apostasy (although chapter 5 verse 54 and chapter 2 verse 217 predict a punishment in the next world). It was also pointed out that the ambiguities in the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) suggest that apostasy is only an offense when combined with the crime of treason…

The debate triggered by the Ottoman reform was continued when al-Azhar University in Cairo, the supreme religious authority in the Arab world, delivered a formal fatwa (religious edict) in 1958, which confirmed the abolition of the classical law in this area.

(T.J. Winters writing for Newsweek)

It should be kept in mind that the Ottomans had embraced change, pushing what came to be known as the Tanzimat reforms, a drive to modernize the Islamic state to be compatible with the contemporary age.  They abolished the jizya and dhimmi system; the Hatt-i Humayun of 1856 promised full legal equality for citizens of all religions, and the Nationality Law of 1869 created a common Ottoman citizenship irrespective of religious or ethnic divisions.

The point is that the Islamic state had embraced change and reform of their religious understanding.  The debate had begun, but after World War I, the Allies occupied Turkey and Arab lands.  They broke up the Ottoman Empire, and carved out mandate states, installing despots into power, something which of course retarded further Muslim intellectual growth.

The modern Muslim world is living with the consequences of these events.  Unfortunately, feelings of anti-Westernism have emerged as a backlash to colonialism and subsequent events.  Extremists and religious fundamentalists began to define themselves in opposition to the West; the more the West condemned their extreme understandings of Islam, the more “street cred” these fundamentalists garnered.  Hey, if the West hates you, and the West is the colonialist, then you must be right!  Such was the thought process.

So harsher understandings replaced more tolerant ones, and the punishment for apostates–which had been long abandoned by the Ottoman Empire–was re-instituted in a few Muslim majority countries.  As Dr. Tariq Ramadan put it:

The opposition and condemnations by the West supplies, paradoxically, the popular feeling of fidelity to the Islamic teachings; a reasoning that is antithetical, simple and simplistic.  The intense opposition of the West is sufficient proof [for them] of the [supposed] authentic Islamic character of the literal application of hudûd (Islamic penal code).

In the context of relationships between countries, we often tend to remember only the conflicts and the wars.  We focus on the battles and wars between the Muslim world and the Judeo-Christian West,  but on  a deeper level, there is another more significant aspect, which is an ideological cultural exchange.  Muslims now live in the West; when Western Muslims approach the Islamic texts, they come with a certain background and upbringing which necessarily affects their understanding.

What we have witnessed in the last couple decades is a growing trend of a return back to early reformist understanding of freedom of religion. These reform-minded Muslims have realized that not only is the modern concept of freedom of religion permissible in their religion–and not only is it wholly compatible with the Quran–but rather it is mandated and obligatory in Islam.

A “soft reformation” is taking place in Islam, as mentioned by Dr. Tariq Ramadan and others.  The reformists are challenging traditional interpretations and understandings of the religion, and pushing for a repeal of apostasy laws in specific where they exist.  The struggle is on, and change cannot and will not happen overnight; the post-colonial mess that the Muslim world finds itself in only retards intellectual growth but the process has begun.

Enter the Islamophobes

Instead of seeking to help the reform-minded Muslims, the Islamophobes have demonized virtually all Muslims, except of course a few self-hating Muslims who simply repeat whatever the Islamophobes want to hear (for which they are rewarded handsomely).

The main argument used by Islamophobes is that Islam as a religion itself advocates the death penalty for apostates, and therefore it is the religion itself–not the interpretation of it–that is the problem, an unusually obtuse and altogether unhelpful assertion. Furthermore, some of them argue, Muslims must abandon their belief in the inerrant nature of the Quran.  In other words, the Islamophobes posit that the only possible way for Muslims to become “civilized” is to view the Quran as any other text, deleting what they dislike from it and adding whatever they wish to it–or as Daniel Pipes puts it: to make it “defunct.”

While, certainly, that may seem like a plausible solution to an outsider, the problem is that for the vast majority of Muslims it is quite simply not a possibility; it is anathema to question the Quran’s veracity.  Regardless of the arguments back and forth on the issue, the practical reality is that the Muslim masses cannot countenance such a thing; the Islamophobes know this, and that’s why they set up this formula.  In other words, they know that the Muslims cannot do this and therefore it has become for the Islamophobes the “only possible solution” to the problem.

Yet, it is hardly the case that the Muslims can only take one possible route to modernization.  Reform-minded Muslims believe that a change in the texts is not required, but only a change in the understanding and interpretation of said texts.

Open Texts

The Quran is an open text, because it generally refrains from specifics.  In fact, names are almost never used in it, in order that its verses have not only a specific meaning but also a more general import.  For example, a verse may have been revealed to placate the Islamic prophet Muhammad during a particularly difficult time in his struggle; so even though the verse will have a specific reason for revelation (to one particular man in one specific situation), it can also be used in a general context: Muslims will use that same verse when they themselves are going through tough times.

Because of this unique structure of the Quranic text, what one gets out of it depends a lot on the reader, who tends to inject into verses his own background and biases, for better or for worse.   Having said that, it seems to the author that an unbiased and neutral reading validates the argument of the reform-minded Muslims: nowhere in the Quran does it clearly and definitively say one must kill apostates.  In fact, it seems to say the exact opposite.

If Muslims can understand it in that way, why this continual insistence by the Islamophobes that the Muslims “must” abandon their belief in the inerrant nature of the Quran?  (Again, it is in order to set up a situation whereby Muslims simply cannot fulfill the requirements to be accepted into society, which is exactly what the Islamophobes desire.)

But enough jibber jabber; the proof is in the pudding.

The Quran

Ms. Fathima Rifqa Bary was incorrect: unlike the Bible, the Quran does not at all say to kill apostates if they choose to leave Islam. Rather, it says the exact opposite. The Quran declares emphatically:

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth is distinct from error!” (Quran, 2:256)

Almost every Muslim knows this verse by heart. It categorically closes the door to religious compulsion, and is used by reform-minded Muslims to promote freedom of religion and the idea that the people have a right to follow whatever religion they so choose. Because “truth is distinct from error,” people should be able to discern it for themselves without having to be forced.

Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a classical Islamic text, says of this verse: “This was revealed concerning the Ansar who tried to compel their sons to enter into Islam.” Some of their children were Jewish, and the parents wished to force them to become Muslims. In Al-Suyuti’s classical text Asbab al-Nuzul (Reasons for Revelation), it also says that there was a Muslim father by the name of Husayn bin Salim bin Awf who had two daughters both of whom were Christians. After failing to convince them to convert to Islam of their own free will, he went to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and requested permission to compel them into Islam. It was for this that the verse “Let there be no compulsion in religion” was revealed, to forbid parents from forcibly converting their children to Islam.

The relevance to the Fathima Rifqa Bary case cannot be understated: contrary to Fathima’s claim, the Quran forbids religious compulsion in general.  The verse in question was specifically revealed for parents in regard to their children of different faiths. Amazingly, the Quranic verse was revealed to forbid a Muslim father from forcing his Christian daughters into Islam. Sound familiar? Sounds a lot like Mr. Bary and his daughter! So how accurate was Fathima’s claim that the Quran commands parents to force their children into Islam or kill them if they refuse?

Ironically, it is the Bible–the same one that Fathima holds–that has verses in it commanding parents to stone their daughters should they worship gods other than the Christian one. Considering that Fathima espouses a hardliner literalistic Christian fundamentalist mentality, we wonder if she would even contextualize the verse like the Christian mainstream does? (This is not about Christianity vs Islam; this is about extremists vs moderates; Fathima and the Global Revolution Church are not representative of mainstream Christianity, at least not any more than Al-Muhajiroon is of the Islamic mainstream!)

Alas, I digress. Back to the Quran, which says:

“And if your Lord had pleased, surely all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them; will you then force men till they become believers?” (Quran, 10:99)

Reform-minded Muslims use the above verse to argue that forcing people into Islam is wrong because God Himself did not do that.  They believe that the power to guide and misguide people rests only with God, and nobody can share in that.  The next verse is used by reformists to show that Muslims should just worry about what they themselves do, instead of trying to force people into guidance:

“And had God willed, He could have made you all one [religious] community, but He sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills.  But you shall certainly be called to account for what you (yourself) used to do [i.e. not what others used to do].” (Quran, 16:93)

The phrase–“God guides Whom He wills” and that He “misguides Whom He wills”–appears in dozens of Quranic verses.  All of these references are commanding believers that they cannot force or will people into the religion, but that only God can do that.

The Quran commands:

“The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe and let him who please disbelieve.” (Quran, 18:29)

And the Quran says:

“Exhort them to believe; your task is only to exhort. You cannot compel them to believe.”  (Quran, 88:21-22)

Another verse in the Quran indicates that during the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, there were people who believed and disbelieved–and then believed only to disbelieve once again; in other words, people entered into and out of the religion freely. The Quran says that such people are weak in faith and God will never guide them in this worldly life. The verse reads:

“Those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor guide them to the Way.” (Quran, 4:137)

Reform-minded Muslims use this verse as a proof that there can be no punishment for apostasy. If that had been the case, then those who believe and then disbelieved (i.e. apostates) would have been put to death and therefore no chance would have been given to them to once again believe and disbelieve. Furthermore, the verse says that God will never guide them back to Islam, indicating that the Muslims are to ignore such a person: if God did not guide them to the Way, then why should Muslims?

So there are clear and explicit verses of the Quran that reform-minded Muslims naturally understand to mean that freedom of religion must be extended to all, and that compulsion into Islam is not to be tolerated.

The Hadiths

Enter the Hadiths. For those who don’t know, the Hadiths are a body of collection of the prophet Muhammad’s sayings or traditions. In other words, the Quran is considered by Muslims to be the word of God, and the Hadiths are the words of their prophet. Unlike the Quran however, Muslims do not believe that all of the Hadiths are authentic. Rather, many of them are apocryphal and therefore rejected. In other words, if some Islamophobe claims that such-and-such Hadith exists, be aware of the fact that many of them are rejected by Muslims. The Hadiths do not occupy the same rank as the Quran, but are rather a secondary source open to criticism.

In this huge body of collection, we find the Hadith that Islamophobes rely on as their trump card in this debate, which reads as follows: “Whoever changes his religion, kill him.” At first glance, that seems pretty clear and unambiguous but has the Islamophobe proven his case? Well, let’s take into consideration that the Bible has many seemingly clear and unambiguous verses which call to kill apostates, yet we never assume that Christians today believe this, nor do we insist that Christianity itself demands it.

A Christian–when confronted with those verses in the Bible–would respond by saying something like the following:

“Well, that’s the Old Testament, and Jesus abrogated that part of the law. Back then during Biblical times, the believers were few and there was a real fear that they would be eliminated so punishing apostates was a deterrent. Furthermore, at that time apostasy was akin to high treason.”

And this answer would completely placate the Islamophobes. In other words, verses that seemed unambiguous and clear from a religious book seemed to indicate one thing at face value, but the people who follow that book have a different way of understanding it: they give an explanation that contextualizes the verses.

Let’s be clear here: we’re not trying to bash Christianity at all. What we are saying however is that if we extend the common courtesy to Christians that they can contextualize such verses in the Bible, then why do we not extend the same courtesy to the Muslims when it comes to the Hadiths? Keep in mind also that Muslims believe that their Bible–so to speak–is the Quran and not the Hadiths. In other words, if Christianity’s primary source seems to say that apostates are to be killed, then why do we not accept any explanation from Muslims about their secondary source? (Hint: Islamophobia is the answer!) It is this terrible double standard that bothers Muslims and those who believe in religious tolerance.

So how do reform-minded Muslims contextualize the Hadith in question (i.e. “whoever changes his religion, kill him.”)? First of all, they point out that these are not the words of the Islamic prophet Muhammad to begin with; rather, these are the the words of a man named Ibn Abbas who was paraphrasing the words of the Islamic prophet. The full text of that particular Hadith is as follows:

Some Zanadiqa were brought to Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying: Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire). I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle: Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 84, Number 57)

If this was a paraphrase, what were the actual words of the Islamic prophet Muhammad? We find one such Hadith which says:

“The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that there is no God but God and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: (1) In penalty for murder, (2) a married person who commits adultery and (3) the one who reverts from Islam (apostates) and leaves the community.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 12, Book ad-Diyat, Number 6878, p.209)

Based on this, reformists say that a person cannot be given capital punishment except for three offenses: (1) murder, (2) adultery, and (3) apostasy combined with “leav[ing] the community.” Such Muslims say that apostasy is not punished except for when it is combined with “leav[ing] the community,” which they say refers to high treason against the Islamic state. What is meant specifically by “leaving the community” is of leaving the community to join the enemy forces. To bolster this claim, reformists point to another similarly narrated Hadith, which reads:

“The blood of a Muslim, who confesses that none has the right to be worshiped but God and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: (1) a married person who commits adultery; he is to be stoned and (2) a man who went out fighting against God and His Messenger; he is to be killed or crucified or exiled from the land and (3) a man who murders another person; he is to be killed on account of it.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Vol. 4, Number 4353, p. 126)

In other words, we have the exact same three instances in which a person may be put to death: (1) murder, (2) adultery, and (3) “a man who went out fighting against God and His Messenger.” Reform-minded Muslims reason that since the Islamic prophet restricted capital punishment to three classes of people, the third instance must be referring to the same group. In other words “leav[ing] the community” refers to “a man who went out fighting against God and His Messenger.” Reform-minded Muslims tie these Hadiths to the following Quranic verse:

“The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Apostle, 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: this is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.” (Quran, 5:33)

Notice how similar the above verse is to the Hadith mentioned in Sunan Abu Dawud (above). The Hadith mentions the one “who went out fighting against God and His Messenger” whilst the Quran says “those who wage war against God and His Apostle,” and the punishment for such is also the same in both: “killed or crucified or exiled from the land.” Reformists point out that the opinion of the ultraconservative Muslims–that peaceful apostates are to be killed–does not jive with the above, since that would mean that a person is to be killed for other than the three reasons, even though the Islamic prophet limited it to only three reasons, not four.

And even if we say that the Hadiths do not limit capital punishment to only three reasons, argue reformists, the issue is that the two Hadiths (as found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sunan Abu Dawood) both mention three sins–murder, adultery, and apostasy/waging war. It is abundantly clear then that the third sin (other than murder and adultery) is in reference to the same thing in both narrations, due to the congruency of the two Hadiths–which firmly establishes the linkage so the linking of apostasy to treason is firmly established by the congruency of the two Hadiths. This argument stands alone in itself and is not dependent on limiting capital punishment to three sins.

Reasons for Revelation

At the time that this Hadith was said (i.e. to kill apostates that left the community), the Muslims of the city of Medina were under attack by the Quraish “idolaters” of Mecca (which at that time was predominantly non-Muslim). Many of the Muslims in Medina were emigrants from Mecca, who had converted to Islam. Do you see now why religion and national identity was fused at the hip back then? If you were a Meccan who converted from paganism to Islam, you’d be persecuted or even killed by your former co-religionists. So those who converted to Islam would “leave the community” of Mecca to join Medina.

The Meccans reacted harshly to this new religion of Islam and desired to wipe it off the map. They gathered armies and marched towards the fledgling Islamic city-state. Naturally, since the converts to Islam came from pagan families, such battles between Mecca and Medina would result in brother being pitted against brother, and father against son. Some of the newly converted Muslims naturally felt uncomfortable having to fight their families, and therefore would apostatize to the side of the idolatrous Meccans. Others were simply weak in faith and felt overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the invaders, so they defected to the pagan army.

More insidiously, there were some in Medina who conspired with the people of Mecca to betray the Muslims in battle. They hatched a plan that they would “convert” to Islam to join the forces of Medina, only to apostatize and abandon the Muslims in the thick of things, in order to destroy the morale of the Muslim army. The Quran says of this:

“A section of the People of the Book say: ‘Believe in the morning what is revealed to those who believe, and reject it at the end of the day, perchance they may themselves turn back.” (Quran, 3:72)

In the classical Tafsir (commentary) entitled Asbab al-Nuzul (Reasons for Revelation) it says of this verse:

…The town of Uraynah conspired with each other, saying: “Pretend to join the religion of Muhammad at the beginning of the day and declare your disbelief in it at the end of the day. Say: ‘We have looked in our Scriptures and consulted our scholars and found that Muhammad is not genuine; it is clear to us now that he is lying and that his religion is false.’ If you do this, his Companions will doubt their religion. They will say: ‘these are people of the Book and they are more knowledgeable than us. They will then abandon their religion and embrace yours.’”

Reformists believe it was in this particular situation that the Hadiths about killing “apostates” who “leave the community” and “wage war against God and His Messenger” were said. “Leaving the community” is a reference to leaving the community of Medina to join the invaders. Therefore, they reason, it was not merely “peaceful apostasy” which is to be punished, but rather high treason, i.e. trying to destroy the Islamic state’s army. It was a specific plot of the unbelievers to convert to Islam in order to mass apostatize and defect to the pagan side to destroy the Muslims.

One can see then how apostasy and defection are linked; back then, there was a pagan army and a Muslim army. If you were pagan, you fought for the pagan army. If you were Muslim, you fought for the Muslim army. If you converted from one to the other, then you’d likely abandon one army and defect to the other. Hence the phrase “the one who reverts from Islam (apostates) and leaves the community.”

Furthermore, the act of assisting in battle the unbelievers against the believers was in itself considered an act of apostasy. This is why reformists believe that back then religious identity was fused with national identity and state loyalty. This is what professor M. Cherif Bassiouni meant when he wrote,

My position on apostasy…[is] that at the time of the Prophet it was not considered as only changing one’s mind but that it was the equivalent of joining the enemy and thus constituting high treason.

Going back to the now famous Hadith (“Whoever changes his religion, kill him”) this was–revealed about the Zanadiqa:

Some Zanadiqa were brought to Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn Abbas who said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah’s Apostle forbade it, saying: Do not punish anybody with Allah’s punishment (fire). I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah’s Apostle: Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 9, Book 84, Number 57)

The word “Zanadiqa” translates to heretics, and here is referring to a group known as the Saba’iyya. The founder of this group, Ibn Saba, was believed by Muslims to be an enemy of the Islamic state who pretended to convert to Islam in order to instigate civil war and strife. Although his existence is a matter of dispute amongst scholars, his group–the Saba’iyya (Zanadiqa)–did exist. They claimed that the prophet Muhammad’s cousin–a man by the name of Ali ibn Abi Talib–was god incarnate. They instigated revolts against the government and eventually orchestrated the murder of the Caliph (Muslim leader) of the time, a man named Uthman ibn Affan. We read:

Ibn Saba…[whose] activity began during the caliphate of Uthman when he travelled from Hijaz to Syria, stirr[ed] up unrest and rebellion in Egypt, Basrah, and Kufah and incit[ed] to the murder of the caliph by the Egyptian rebels…Ibn Saba was also responsible for the outbreak of fighting between the armies of Ali and Aisha at Basrah. (Shi’ite Heritage: Essays on Classical and Modern Traditions, by Lynda Clarke, pp.9-10)

And:

The Khalif Ali caused the adherents of Abd Allah ibn Saba to be burnt to death…But when Ibn Abbas learned of the occurrence, he said: “I should indeed have put them to death, but certainly not burned them, for the Prophet has forbidden that any one shall be punished by fire, because this is the mode of punishment exclusively to Allah.”

(Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Edited by James Hastings, p.625)

In other words, the Zanadiqa being referred to here were not “peaceful apostates” who simply changed their mind, but rather they were guilty of high treason, causing a civil war, instigating a rebellion in Egypt, and ultimately killing the Caliph. Indeed, they were similar to the group of people who had pretended to convert to Islam in order to apostatize during the thick of things (i.e. in the battle between Medina and Mecca). The bottom line then is that even the Hadith that the Islamophobes rely upon can be used as a proof that only those apostates who wage war against the state are to be killed.

The Traditional Opinion

Yes, it is true that the majority “classical” and traditional opinion of Islamic jurists was that apostasy–even “peaceful apostasy”–should be punished by death. This belief was enshrined into Islamic jurisprudence in the medieval era, and therefore many “classical” Islamic texts do indeed say this. It is for this reason that Alan Kornman of ACT for America–a fervently Islamophobic group–was waving around a copy of Reliance of the Traveler, a fourteenth century manual of Islamic jurisprudence, which does say that apostates should be killed. Is it possible to point out the obvious? The text was written hundreds of years ago in the medieval era. The absurdity of using it as some sort of proof against contemporary Muslims is absurd. Muslims do not consider this book to be religiously binding upon them. The words of the classical scholars are not considered a part of the Islamic canon. Only the Quran and some of the Hadiths are said to have any divine origin.

Contemporary Muslims believe that they are free to agree or disagree with the words of classical scholars. There is no equivalent to the pope in Islam. Yes, they do respect the classical scholars, and do view them as some of the greatest scholars of all time, but that does not mean that they agree with them on all issues. As for “classical texts” like the Reliance of the Traveler, yes many moderate Muslims consider such treatises to be a good source of attaining their Islamic knowledge, but they don’t believe that they must accept every single sentence or dot therein! As the famous Islamic saying goes: they take the good in it, and leave the rest!

Even within the classical Islamic texts, one can find great disagreement therein. For example, there are classical texts which refute some of the views expressed in the Reliance of the Traveler. If that is the case–that Islamic scholars of that time disagreed with some views within that text and others–why shouldn’t contemporary Islamic scholars–and Muslims in general–disagree with some of its views? Is this really so hard to comprehend? I don’t think so.

We understand it perfectly well with classical Christian texts. Let’s look at the work of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the most influential Christian scholars in history. The Vatican considers him as “the model teacher” for those pursuing priesthood.

The Summa Theologica, a book written by St. Thomas Aquinas, is considered one of the best summaries of Catholic doctrine to this day, and continues to be relied upon. In other words, here we have a text that is certainly more central to the Catholic faith than the Reliance of the Traveler is to Muslims. Well, let’s take a look-see into what the Summa Theologica says about apostasy; the first part talks about how Jews are apostates and thus worse than regular disbelievers, and the second part talks about how apostates ought to be compelled by the sword to Christianity:

Question 10: Unbelief in General

… It is written (2 Peter 2:21): “It had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than after they have known it, to turn back.” Now the heathens have not known the way of justice, whereas heretics and Jews have abandoned it after knowing it in some way. Therefore theirs is the graver sin…He who resists the faith after accepting it, sins more grievously against faith, than he who resists it without having accepted it…[The Jews] accepted the figure of that faith in the Old Law, which they corrupt by their false interpretations, [so] their unbelief is a more grievous sin than that of the heathens, because the latter have not accepted the Gospel faith in any way at all…

Article 8. Whether unbelievers ought to be compelled to the faith?

…I answer that, Among unbelievers there are some who have never received the faith, such as the heathens and the Jews: and these are by no means to be compelled to the faith…On the other hand, there are unbelievers who at some time have accepted the faith, and professed it, such as heretics and all apostates: such should be submitted even to bodily compulsion, that they may fulfil what they have promised, and hold what they, at one time, received…

For, Augustine says “…When a man’s crime [apostasy] is so publicly known, and so hateful to all, that he has no defenders, or none such as might cause a schism, the severity of discipline should not slacken”…Those Jews who have in no way received the faith, ought not by no means to be compelled to the faith: if, however, they have received it, they ought to be compelled to keep itChrist at first compelled Paul and afterwards taught Him…the rites of other unbelievers, which are neither truthful nor profitable are by no means to be tolerated…

Do we then think it is justified to wave around this seven hundred year old text in the air as a proof that Christians believe that apostates should be killed? Or that “since the Jews are the slaves of the Church, she can dispose of their possessions” and the “the rites of other unbelievers, which are neither truthful nor profitable are by no means to be tolerated?” No sensible person can say so. Rather, Catholics are free to read the book, taking what they like and disagreeing with whatever they dislike.

So why then can’t these people understand the same thing for the Reliance of the Traveler, which says the exact same thing about apostasy as does the Summa Theologica?  Muslims use it in a similar manner to learn about traditional Islamic jurisprudence just as Catholics use the Summa Theologica to learn traditional Catholic doctrine, taking the good and leaving the rest. In fact, the Muslim translator of the book, Nuh Keller, did not even translate parts of the book into English which he deemed totally irrelevant to the modern day and age, which shows that Muslims do not consider whatever is in the text as religiously binding. It doesn’t mean that Muslims must abandon the book in its entirety, just as Catholics don’t need to abandon the Summa Theologica altogether.

The Four Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence

A critic of Islam argued back:

Yes there may be moderate Muslims but at this moment in time there is no moderate Islam, as defined by the [four] main schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

First, it is absurd to say that there is no moderate Islam; moderate Islam is what the vast majority of Muslims follow, and how they define it. As for the argument that “all four schools of Islamic jurisprudence demand the death penalty for apostasy,” isn’t this simply restating the obvious? Contemporary Muslims already admit that the traditional and classical opinion of Islamic jurists was that apostates were to be killed (which by the way was also amongst the “traditional and classical opinions” in Judaism and Christianity as well).

Since the four schools of thought were defined and codified hundreds of years ago, doesn’t it already go without saying that the four schools of jurisprudence would take the traditional and classical opinion on the matter? Stated another way: as the four schools were codified hundreds of years ago, is it any surprise that they should follow the old way of looking at the matter as opposed to the new?  So what exactly is the critic trying to say? It is simply restating and repackaging the obvious attack in attempt to give an air of authority to it.

His statement also betrays a superficial understanding of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The four schools are not defined by their final rulings or verdicts, but rather based on their methodology (Usul). Within a school itself, all sorts of conflicting opinions can be found, since a school is defined not by a ruling but by the methodology one uses to arrive at such a ruling. In other words, contemporary Muslims can still follow the same methodology and arrive at different conclusions, without betraying the school of thought itself. Many followers of the four schools have done so with regard to the issue of apostasy.

So the fact that a person follows a school of jurisprudence does not at all mean that he must commit himself to one particular ruling. Furthermore, many Muslims do not follow a school of jurisprudence at all, with still others claiming that it is wrong to follow the four schools whatsoever. Bottom line: there are diverse opinions on this matter, and to pigeonhole Muslims into a particular belief is wrong.  It is just wrong to speak on behalf of Muslims; let them speak for themselves!

Contemporary Muslims argue that their rejection of an opinion held by the classical scholars does not amount to rejection of the scholars themselves, nor of the schools of thought they founded.  Rather, they insist that respectful disagreement is not only permitted but mandated in Islam. Furthermore, the new opinion of contemporary Muslims is simply a reflection of changed circumstances which have allowed Muslims to properly understand the issue. Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq says:

Undeniably, the traditional position of Muslim scholars and jurists has been that apostasy [riddah] is punishable by death. The longstanding problem of the traditional position, as held by Classical jurists or scholars, can be explained and excused as not being able to see apostasy, an issue of pure freedom of faith and conscience, separate from treason against the community or the state. However, the accumulated experience over the history in terms of abuse of this position about apostasy even against Muslims as well as the changed context of a globally-connected, pluralistic society should help us appreciate the contemporary challenges in light of the Qur’anic norms and the Prophetic legacy. In this context, while the classical misunderstanding about this issue of apostasy is excusable, the position of some of the well-known contemporary scholars is not.

Contemporary Scholars

Whilst ultraconservative scholars tenaciously cling to medieval opinions, moderate Muslim scholars are increasingly adopting the opinion that absolute freedom of religion is mandated in Islam. Hundreds of Islamic clerics have accepted this view as correct. Representatives from all the major Western Muslim organizations have spoken out against the death penalty for apostates.

Indeed, Islam is witnessing a “soft revolution” nowadays, and a reformation is taking place. It seems almost every other day another major Islamic scholar announces that he has studied the issue and come to the conclusion that there should be no punishment for apostasy.

Ijma

The conservative Muslims (and in turn the Islamophobes) insist that there is an Ijma (consensus) on the view that apostates are to be killed. This is an Islamic legal term which connotes a sort of authoritativeness to a ruling, almost like a papal decree. However, this is a hotly contested topic, and this article here explains why it is inappropriate to use Ijma as a proof.

Imam al-Shawkani argued:

“The one who claims that ijma constitutes proof is not correct, for such [a claim] constitutes mere conjecture (zann) on the part of an individual from the community of Muslims. No believer can worship God on the basis of this.”

Refuting Robert Spencer’s Drivel

Robert Spencer of JihadWatch argues that Fathima Rifqa Bary was correct for claiming that the Quran mandates death for apostasy. We have already outlined the numerous verses in the Quran that state the contrary. But let us now deal with Spencer’s “proof.” He claims that the following verse is “direct proof” that apostates are to be killed:

“And if any of you turn back from their faith and die in unbelief, their works will bear no fruit in this life and in the Hereafter; they will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.” (Quran, 2:217)

Sorry, Spencer, but I don’t see how that’s “direct proof,” especially in light of the explicit verses in the Quran that I have cited above which clearly and unambiguously forbid compulsion in religion. In fact, contemporary Islamic scholars use this verse (the one Spencer just used) as a proof that there is no worldly punishment for apostasy, only a heavenly one. For example, Dr. Jamal Badawi says:

There is no single verse in the Qur’an that prescribes an earthly punishment for apostasy. Verses about apostasy in the Qur’an speak only about God’s punishment of the apostate in the Hereafter [such as] “…But if any of you should turn away from his/her faith and die as a denier [of the truth] – these it is whose works will bear no fruit in this world and in the life to come; and these it is who are destined for the fire, therein to abide.” ([Quran] Al-Baqarah 2:217)

…The silence of the Qur’an on any prescribed mandatory capital for apostasy is quite revealing. More revealing is the fact that there is overwhelming evidence in the Qur’an of freedom of conscious, belief, and worship.

Of course, Spencer quotes an Islamic scholar who lived hundreds of years ago as a proof. Sorry, but that’s not a proof to Muslims, nor is it binding. Whilst moderate Muslims respect Imam al-Qurtubi like Catholics respect St. Thomas Aquinas, they don’t believe his words are divine and simply disagree with them. That is in actuality the bulk of Spencer’s argument, since the verse itself is not at all “direct proof” of anything!

Then Spencer uses verse 4:89 as a “proof:”

“If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them.” (Quran, 4:89)

But he does not quote what comes right before and after it, thereby removing the context of the verse. The Quran says:

“Why should you be divided into two parties about the Hypocrites? …If they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever you find them; Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty of peace, or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If God had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you and fight you not, and instead send you guarantees of peace, then God Has opened no way for you to war against them…Therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and do not offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority (to war against).” (Quran, 4:89-91)

This verse is talking about a group of apostates who are pretending to be Muslims (and are thus Hypocrites), so that they can turn renegade during war and destroy the Muslim army from the inside. In actuality, this verse shows the mercy of Islam, in the sense that the Islamic prophet was forbidden to make war against these people until they picked up arms against the Muslims; if, however, they did not pick up arms and instead sent guarantees of peace, then Muslims were forbidden from fighting them. This verse can be used as a proof for the reformist position, namely that peaceful apostates cannot be killed, but those who wage war against the Islamic state (i.e. high treason) should be.

Spencer quotes Tafsir al-Jalalayn as a proof, yet doesn’t realize that the text itself negates his view. Tafsir al-Jalalayn says of the very next verse (4:90):

[Those who come to you] refraining from fighting either you or them, then do not interfere with them, neither taking them as captives nor slaying them…If they stay away from you and do not fight you, and offer you peace, reconciliation, that is, [if] they submit, then God does not allow you any way against them, [He does not allow you] a means to take them captive or to slay them.

Abrogation

Christianity was militarized after Jesus died, by latter day thinkers.  A similar thing happened with Islam.  The Quranic text prohibits military aggression, allowing war only in self-defense; it also gives absolute freedom of religion.  Latter day thinkers within Islam had such a hard time dealing with these issues that they simply decided to “abrogate” the peaceful and tolerant verses in order to make Islam “more compatible” with the warlike times.  For example, the author of Tafsir al-Jalalayn had such a hard time reconciling verse 4:90 with the view–that apostates are to be killed–that he rationalized that: “this statement and what follows was abrogated.”

This has importance here: Spencer uses the verse (4:90) as a proof that apostasy is mandated in the Quran, yet the classical scholar he quoted as a proof was so “frustrated” by this same verse–since it seemed to imply freedom of religion–that he was forced to abrogate it.  In other words, even those Muslim scholars who believe that apostates are to be killed had to get rid of this Quranic verse in order to make their claim, so how can Spencer now use the verse as a proof?

For those of you who don’t know what abrogation means, it means that a verse was rescinded and basically no longer counts. Translation: the verse still appears in the Quran but it has no legal import to it.  Contemporary moderate Muslim scholars reject such a haphazard abrogation of Quranic verses. For example, a Muslim cleric by the name of Shabir Ally says:

[Question:] Now this idea of abrogation altogether seems odd. You have a book–you say it’s from God–and you say ‘well, He didn’t really mean this.’ How does one justify this?

[Answer:] Well, Imam al-Tabari is in a way the father of tafsirs. And his tafsir is the monumental one that came to be used widely in later tafsirs…and he said very clearly that if a verse is to be agrogated, you have to have some definitive information from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) himself which says that this verse is abrogated, otherwise how would you know if a certain verse is abrogated? You shouldn’t claim that a verse is abrogated without this type of definitive information.

Dr. Jamal Badawi says:

While some scholars have claimed that hundreds of verses of the Qur’an were abrogated, the majority of scholars reject that claim.

Interestingly, the ultraconservative Muslim scholars are inconsistent in their own understanding of the Quran.  For example, the ultraconservative Saudi scholar Ibn Baz affirmed the idea that abrogation is to be used only as a last resort when understanding two seemingly “contradictory” verses of the Quran; Ibn Baz stated:

Whenever it is possible to show agreement or reconciliation between various narrations, in a manner which is suitable, without stretching their meanings, it becomes obligatory to do so.  Making Reconciliation (al-Jam) between the texts takes precedence over the other two methods of resolving apparent contradiction between proofs–the two other methods being Outweighing (al-Tarjih) and Abrogation (al-Naskh).  This is what has been agreed upon in the Science of Usul al-Fiqh.

The above might be very confusing to the layperson, so to summarize: he is basically saying that when two texts seem to contradict each other, then one should first try to reconcile them (al-Jam) before one claims that one is abrogated by the other (al-Naskh). In other words, when we have one text saying “Let there be no compulsion in religion” and another saying “Whoever changes his religion, kill him,” there seems to be an apparent contradiction between the two.  One way to resolve these two texts would be to say that the latter abrogated the former (and this is the argument of Bin Baz and other ultraconservative scholars).  Ibn Baz is quoted by an ultraconservative Saudi website as saying:

[Question:] Some friends say that whoever does not enter Islam, that is his choice and he should not be forced to become Muslim, quoting as evidence the verses in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning)…“There is no compulsion in religion” [al-Baqarah 2:256] What is your opinion concerning that?

[Answer:] …Ayat al-Sayf (the verse of the sword)…and similar verses abrogate the verses which say that there is no compulsion to become Muslim.

Oddly however Bin Baz does not follow his own rule that Reconciliation of texts takes precedence over Abrogation!  Reform-minded Muslims reconcile the texts by simply contextualizing the second narration, which indicates that peaceful apostates are not to be killed but those apostates who “wage war” (i.e. high treason) are.

The way in which Ibn Baz, other ultraconservatives, and some classical scholars abrogated the peaceful verses without direct proof of that must be rejected, argue reform-minded Muslims.  As Ibn Al-Hassar, a classical Islamic scholar himself, stated:

It is not acceptable, in the matter of Abrogation, to accept statements of the interpreters of the Quran, not even the ijtihad (reasoning) of those engaging in ijtihad without authentic reports or clear evidence…What is acceptable in that matter is the [explicit] narration [of the Prophet] and history [Sunna/Sira] not opinion or ijtihad.

Therefore, reform-minded Muslims reject any classical or contemporary scholar’s opinion that such-and-such verse was abrogated, unless the claimant brings unequivocal proof of that, such as a direct statement from the Islamic prophet to that effect.  But in the absence of that, such arguments are rejected; otherwise, every single verse in the Quran could be abrogated by mere desire!  Therefore, when Islamophobes try to build their whole case on Tafsirs (commentaries) written hundreds of years ago, be extremely wary!  A Tafsir is not a proof in and of itself; it is simply one man’s interpretation of the Quran open to criticism.

Reform-minded Muslim scholars argue that their understanding of the Quran’s view on this matter is more accurate and truer to the text, since they take into consideration all of the verses instead of simply doing away with whatever verses they cannot reconcile to their preconceived view. Meanwhile, the ultraconservatives are forced to abrogate verses of the Quran without any proof for that, such as the verse that forbids compulsion in religion. Certainly, it is unacceptable to just abrogate verses that one does not agree with!

In other words, neither the ultraconservative Muslims nor the Islamophobes can make their case, i.e. that the Quran says to kill apostates, without having to get rid of certain Quranic verses, those that are abundantly clear that religious compulsion is forbidden.  This in actuality shows the strength of the reformist view, namely that if one looks at the Quran as a whole, it mandates religious freedom.

Hypocrites Worse than Disbelievers

In the Quran, it is clear that the worst of mankind are the Hypocrites, a group of people who pretended to be Muslims but were really disbelievers in their hearts.  They were a group that sought to destroy Islam from the inside.  Reformists point out that forcing people into Islam–be they disbelievers or apostates–would create a legion of Hypocrites within the ranks of the Muslims, something far more dangerous than people simply peacefully following whatever religion they want.  Dr. Jamal Badawi argues:

The fear of such assumed [capital] punishment [for apostasy] may lead many to hypocrisy; by pretending to remain Muslims just to save their lives. In the final analysis, hypocrisy is a greater danger to the community than apostasy in itself. Hypocrites may implode the Muslim community from within.

Reform-minded Muslims also point out the fact that there was a Bedouin who apostatized in the lifetime of the prophet Muhammad, leaving the Islamic city-state of Medina; he abandoned both his religious and national identity (as the two were fused back then).  Instead of punishing the man, the prophet Muhammad simply replied by saying: “Medina is like a pair of bellows (i.e. a furnace): it expels its impurities and brightens and clears its good.” (Sahih al-Bukhari,Vol.9, No.316, pp.241)  Reformists use this narration as a proof that someone leaving the religion is–in a way–a  good thing: it purifies the religion from those weak in faith who could become Hypocrites.  Is it not better to have a few strong believers rather than many weak Hypocrites?

Dr. Jamal Badawi notes that this incident involving the Bedouin took place after the Islamic city-state of Medina was up and running, so the Islamophobes cannot claim that this was before some mass abrogation of verses:

This incident took place in Madinah when Muslims were living in an independent Islamic “state,” where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had full authority to implement Shari`ah law.

If indeed the “revealed” prescribed punishment for apostasy is death, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would have been the first to carry out the punishment. In fact, he did not even prescribe any punishment at all against that Bedouin, nor did he send any one to arrest him as an “apostate,” imprison, or ask him to recant or even reconsider his decision as later jurists prescribed. Nor is there any solid ground to claim that this and other similar hadiths were “abrogated.” In fact, these Hadiths are in conformity with the Qur’an and consistent with its central value of freedom of conscious and rejection of any compulsion in matters of faith (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Nonsensical Defense

Some conservative Muslims argue that the death penalty for apostasy makes “perfect sense,” since “people choose to enter Islam knowing that it is a lifetime decision punishable by death” and therefore “it serves to ensure that their intention is strong” and “dissuades those weak in faith from entering it.”

Reform-minded Muslims argue that this argument is weak from many angles.  It is negated by the fact that the conservative Muslims do not differentiate in this matter between converts to Islam and those born into the religion: in fact, some of the classical scholars opined that born Muslims who apostatize (murtad fitri)  are more liable to punishment than those who had converted to Islam (murtad milli).  The question reform-minded Muslims ask is: does a born Muslim get the chance to enter the religion knowing that he will be killed if he ever leaves it?  The answer is of course no; one simply grows up following the religion of one’s parents; therefore, the justification that “apostates knew what they were getting into” falls flat on its face.

Reform-minded Muslims also say that it is quite simply common sense that people change their minds.  This is quite obvious: one day a person thinks Islam is the religion for him, but maybe ten years down the line he doesn’t.

Additionally, reform-minded Muslims argue that killing an apostate robs him of the chance to repent later in life.  There are for example many youth who leave religion only to come back to it in their elderly years when they become fearful of death and what follows that.  A person who apostates today could become Islam’s best follower some day in the future.

Lastly, reform-minded Muslims point out that the Quranic principle is that God has granted humans free will: they have the right to accept Islam or reject it. Nobody can force them to do so.  Why would God command Muslims to force people into Islam when it is He Himself Who gave people the ability to leave the religion?

An Important Clarification

Even if Fathima’s parents held the “traditional view,” this does not mean that they were going to kill her.  In fact, the traditional view–as espoused by the classical scholars and now championed by the ultraconservatives–has always been that corporal punishments–such as killing of apostates–must be done by the government and not individuals.

Vigilante justice has always been strictly forbidden, and in fact severely punished.  The second Caliph of Islam was in fact killed, and his son ended up killing the murderer, vigilante style.  Even though his case seemed just, the Muslim authorities punished him for murder, due to it being vigilante justice outside the court system.

We can read this from ultraconservative Islamic websites themselves, which quote classical scholars; for example, the Saudi based Islam-QA strictly forbids “honor killing” on the grounds that it is vigilante justice:

Al-Qurtubi said:

There is no dispute among the scholars that qisaas (retaliatory punishments) such as execution cannot be carried out except by those in authority who are obliged to carry out the qisaas and carry out hadd punishments etc, because Allaah has addressed the command regarding qisaas to all the Muslims, and it is not possible for all the Muslims to get together to carry out the qisaas, which is why they appointed a leader who may represent them in carrying out the qisaas and hadd punishments.

Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 2/245, 246.

No one should carry out the hadd punishments without the permission of the ruler. If there is no ruler who rules according to sharee’ah then it is not permissible for the ordinary people to carry out the hadd [corporal] punishments. Whoever does that is sinning, because carrying out the hadd punishments requires examining the matter and requires shar’i knowledge in order to know the conditions of proof.

The ordinary people have no knowledge of such things, and the carrying out of one of the hadd punishments by the ordinary people leads to many evils and the loss of security, whereby people will attack one another and kill one another or chop off one another’s hands on the grounds that they are carrying out hadd punishments.

Islam-QA: Honor Killings Forbidden in Islam

And that’s the opposite of a reformist site.  So even they don’t advocate honor killings or vigilante justice.  The point here is not to justify the ultraconservative view.  Rather, it is simply to show that this entire thing has been a hyped up situation used to demonize Islam and Muslims in general.  Most Western Muslims don’t believe in killing apostates, and even the small fraction that do don’t believe it can be done in the West.

Conclusion

The Quran does not at all say to kill apostates. As for the Hadiths, yes there are some texts which could be interpreted as such, but reform-minded Muslims believe that if you properly contextualize them, this is not the case.  Furthermore, they believe that if a Hadith contradicts a basic tenet of the Quran, it is to be rejected; in other words, the Quran takes precedence over all other texts.

As for a parent forcing a child to convert to Islam, an explicit verse in the Quran rejects this practice, which was specifically revealed for a Muslim father who was trying to force his Christian daughters to accept Islam, a remarkably similar situation to what we see in the Fathima Rifqa Bary case today.

What seems apparent is that Fathima’s parents never threatened to kill her; rather, she was brainwashed by some Christian extremists (who by the way look down on the Christian mainstream) into thinking that Islam itself–and the Quran in particular–mandates death for apostates.  Notice in her emotional interview that she clearly was of the view that: the Quran mandates it, ergo religious Muslims believe in it.  This logic is faulty and problematic.

The Islamophobes have jumped on this opportunity to spread fear and hate, insisting that Islam is intrinsically culpable, a pagan and heathen religion incompatible with those who love Christ.

Yes, a legitimate criticism is that it is unfortunate that there are Muslims–even some big time scholars who are not ultraconservatives–hold onto this view.  This is in fact a self-criticism that the reform-minded Muslims themselves engage in, and if the critics limited their input to this, there would have been no problem.  But the Islamophobes wanted to impugn Islam as a whole, and the Muslims in generality.

The issue of apostasy is at  “the heart of a burning debate among modern Muslims,” explained Sherman Jackson, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan.  It is a time of reassessment, flux, and hopefully change.  But to reduce that all down to “Muslims (or Islam) say that apostates are to be killed” is preposterous.  Muslims are undergoing a soft reformation, led by the Western Muslims and the likes of Dr. Tariq Ramadan.  But it will take time, just like Europe did not reform overnight.

Even if there happens to be a case of Muslim parents killing their children for changing religions, this shouldn’t be used as an example of what Islam advocates, or what Muslims in general think.  Such demonization is altogether unhelpful and only helps to strengthen a binary worldview.  If indeed such a case takes place (and they do from time to time), then the fault lies with the murderers, not Islam and not the Muslims in generality.  Certainly we shouldn’t encourage extremists and xenophobes who seek to co-opt such tragedies for their own nefarious agendas of fear mongering and singling out of Muslims, who are already one of the most maligned minority groups in the West.