Dr. Bill Warner on “Measuring Extremism in Islam” – on The Glazov Gang

pl-450x285Frontpage:

This week’s Glazov Gang was joined by Dr. Bill Warner, a scientist who has studied Islam since 1970. He has used the scientific method in the study of Islamic texts and has made its doctrine easy to understand. As an example, he had produced a Koran that anyone can read and understand. Visit his site atpoliticalislam.com.

Dr. Warner joined the show to discuss Measuring Extremism in Islam, illuminating how Sharia compliance defines a way to gauge civilizational “extremism” that goes beyond beheadings:

 

***

Bill Warner also spoke to the JDL in Canada on Nov. 17, 2014. Here is the video thanks to Blazing Cat Fur:

Is the Islamic State the Islamic ‘Reformation’?

Screen-Shot-2014-10-14-at-2.34.22-PM1-358x350By Fjordman:

The self-declared Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world with its brutality. The British Prime Minister David Cameron, along with other Western leaders, claims that the Islamic State has “nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace.” The former British PM Tony Blair states that IS’ ideology is “based in a complete perversion of the proper faith of Islam.”

Notice that both the current and a previous British Prime Minister say virtually the same thing as Tariq Ramadan. He is a Swiss writer of Egyptian origin and is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University in Britain. Tariq Ramadan suggests that the Islamic State is ”not Islamic.”

Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Banna’s stated goal was the restoration of an Islamic Caliphate. We now have an Islamic State under the leadership of a Caliph. You could therefore argue that ISIS have fulfilled the original promise of Hassan al-Banna. What Tariq Ramadan is in effect saying is that: “The Islamic State have fulfilled the promise of my pious Muslim grandfather. Yet this has nothing to do with Islam.”

The slick Islamic infiltrator Tariq Ramadan has always reminded me of the deceiving manipulator Grima Wormtongue from Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings. It is no wonder that Western ruling elites are clueless about the true nature of the Islamic threat when we allow people such as Ramadan to be treated as experts on Islam in prestigious Western universities and advise Western authorities on matters related to Islam.

Saying that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam or Islamic teachings is false. ISIS propagandists quote authentic Koranic verses or respected hadith literature in favor of their actions. Yes, texts can be interpreted in different ways, but some interpretations have a stronger foundation than others do. A rubber band can be stretched up to a certain point, but not forever. Likewise, texts can be read in several ways, but they are not infinitely elastic.

Maybe what the militant members of the Islamic State are doing is not the only way to interpret Islamic religious texts. Maybe. What should worry us, however, is that it is a perfectly legitimate way to interpret Islamic texts.

The Islamic State now has many supporters, also in Western countries. Their atrocities resonate with quite a few Muslims who recognize something similar from Islamic history. In the earliest days of Islam, Mohammed and his companions raided and pillaged their opponents, massacred and beheaded non-Muslims, enslaved their children, raped their women and forced them to be sex slaves. Suggesting that it has nothing to do with Islam, when militant Muslims today directly copy the behavior of their Prophet as described in Islamic sources, is not credible.

Western leaders and commentators are often shockingly ill-informed about Islam. Tony Blair, then still Britain’s Prime Minister, wrote about Islam for the influential magazine Foreign Affairs in its January 2007 issue. This quote sums up the breathtaking cluelessness of Western leaders:

o-TONY-BLAIR-AND-PROTEST-facebook

To me, the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is. I write with great humility as a member of another faith. As an outsider, the Koran strikes me as a reforming book, trying to return Judaism and Christianity to their origins, much as reformers attempted to do with the Christian church centuries later. The Koran is inclusive. It extols science and knowledge and abhors superstition. It is practical and far ahead of its time in attitudes toward marriage, women, and governance. Under its guidance, the spread of Islam and its dominance over previously Christian or pagan lands were breathtaking. Over centuries, Islam founded an empire and led the world in discovery, art, and culture. The standard-bearers of tolerance in the early Middle Ages were far more likely to be found in Muslim lands than in Christian ones.”

Some observers suggest that Islam needs to be reformed. Yet it is arguable that we have already witnessed an Islamic Reformation, and that ISIS/the Islamic State represents a culmination of this process.

In 2007 I published an essay with the title Do we want an Islamic Reformation? The question of whether Islam can be reformed largely hinges upon one’s definition of “Reformation.” This is often implicitly taken to mean something along the lines of “peaceful, non-sharia-based with respect for individual choice, freedom of speech and the freedom to criticize and leave your religion.” In other words: “Reform” is vaguely taken to mean less Islam, or at least less traditional sharia laws, and no violent Jihad.

However, several observers argue that there are similarities between Martin Luther and the Christian or Protestant Reformation in sixteenth century Europe and the reform movement started by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab in the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century. Wahhab’s alliance with the family of Muhammad bin Saud led to the creation of Saudi Arabia. Using its massive oil wealth, paid for by non-Muslims, that country has for generations funded strict sharia-based Islamic movements worldwide. This Islamic revivalist movement is at the base of the present-day Salafist movement.

Read more at Frontpage

Catholic Reverend: Not possible to extract violence and terror from Islam

behead-300x180By Allen West:

As we sit quietly by, watching this entity called ISIS endeavor to create an Islamic caliphate or recoil at the recent beheading of an American woman, I believe it’s time to conduct a serious analysis of Islam.

I care not for the cultural jihadist apologists and their PC dismissals. The time has come for the sake of Western civilization and our Constitutional Republic to ask the hard questions and make the tough assessments.

What separates Islam from other religions is a single word — reformation. It’s interesting how so many want to play the relativism game when it comes to Christianity and Islam. First, let’s make a clear distinction: Christianity is a faith, not a religion. As a matter of fact, there can be no debate that America – if not most of Western civilization — has a Judeo-Christian faith heritage in the formulation of its foundational principles.

Religion is manmade dogma, not a faith — such as Judaism is a faith but there are many different subsets, in other words, religious practices, such as Orthodox Hasidic, Chabad Lubavitch, Conservative, and Reform. As for the Christian faith, it comes down to Catholicism and Protestantism – but there are countless subsets of religious practices in Protestantism (Calvinists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, etc).

Some say Christianity has fought many wars, but actually it was the clash between the traditions of Catholicism and the newly advocated Protestantism. It was Martin Luther’s 95 Theses of 1517 that was the impetus of what would become the Protestant [root word being protest] Reformation. It was a revolutionary endeavor to promote the right and freedom of the individual to have a relationship with God not requiring an intermediary — such as what the Catholic Church at the time promoted. It was this that led to the Gutenberg printing of the Bible in mass for all to read and understand. It’s critical to understand what Luther actually set in motion.

First of all, it was the beginning of individual sovereignty in challenging the prevalent belief that the collective was preeminent over the individual. It unlocked the beginning of individual enlightenment and the ability to question and reason. And most important, it challenged the ruling monarchial concept of Divine Law theory — rule being granted to Kings and such by God — and laid the seeds for the Natural Law theory, which led to the concept of unalienable individual rights from the Creator — since Luther had established this personal relationship. It was the Protestant Reformation that has led to the elevation of the individual instead of the subjugation of the collective — the seminal fundamental principle of Western civilization.

The problem we are facing today is that Islam has never been reformed and still holds onto 7th century precepts as promoted by an illiterate, violent, war lord and pedophile — who is considered the “perfect man.”

And so I found particularly relevant a recent article entitled “It’s time to take the Islamic State Seriously” posted on Crisis magazine.com by Reverend James V. Schall, S.J. Rev. Schall taught political science at Georgetown University for many years and his latest books include The Mind That Is Catholic, Remembering Belloc, and Reasonable Pleasures.

Rev Schall’s piece was thought-provoking, and theologically and historically spot on. He writes, “What I want to propose here is an opinion. An opinion is a position that sees the plausibility but not certainty of a given proposition. But I think this opinion is well-grounded and makes more sense both of historic and of present Islam than most of the other views that are prevalent. The Islamic State and the broader jihadist movements throughout the world that agree with it are, I think, correct in their basic understanding of Islam. Plenty of evidence is found, both in the long history of early Muslim military expansion and in its theoretical interpretation of the Qur’an itself, to conclude that the Islamic State and its sympathizers have it basically right. The purpose of Islam, with the often violent means it can and does use to accomplish it, is to extend its rule, in the name of Allah, to all the world. The world cannot be at “peace” until it is all Muslim.”

And we must not forget that Islam means “submission” — quite in contrast to what Luther was promoting.

Rev. Schall is saying that it’s not possible to extract violence and terror from Islam itself as that is an integral part of its calling. Islam began in 612AD and its first convert was Mohammed’s first wife Kadeisha. The so-called “peaceful verses” of the Qur’an come in the time period from 612AD-622AD. Around 622AD, Mohammed took his “night ride” to Jerusalem because he was rejected in his home tribal area of Mecca, and he enacted the Hijra to Medina. This began the second phase when Mohammed aligned himself with violent tribes and started his actions with the Nahkla raid and the verses of the Qur’an shifted to violent — but based upon the Arabic term “Nakesh” which means abrogation, the latter more violent verses supersede all those previous, but all verses have validity. This lends to the duplicity of Islam.

“In Muslim doctrine,” Rev. Schall writes, “everyone born into the world is a Muslim. No one has any right or reason not to be. Hence, everyone who is not a Muslim is to be converted or eliminated — [as we saw done to the Christian community and others in Mosul]. This is also true of the literary, monumental, and other signs of civilizations or states that are not Muslim. They are destroyed as not authorized by the Qur’an. It is the religious responsibility of Islam to carry out its assigned mission of subduing the world to Allah. It may be possible for some to read Islam as a religion of “peace.” But its “peace,” in its own terms, means the peace of Allah within its boundaries, Dar-al-Islam. With the rest of the outside world, it is at war — Dar al-Harb — in order to accomplish a religious purpose, namely, to have all submitted to Allah in the passive way that the Qur’an specifies.”

The problem Rev. Schall brings out in his piece is that we here in the West, and certainly this Obama administration, attempt to rationalize and reason the problem away. We fail to just accept what is happening, and has happened historically, before our eyes.

Now, this is not about condemning Muslims. However, it is about indicting a political-theocratic totalitarian imperialistic ideology — it ain’t workplace violence folks. We always hear about “crusades” yet no one wants to talk about how Islam sought to spread — certainly not by peaceful proselytization — as could be seen from North Africa to Spain (Al Andalusia) to France (Battle of Tours) to the Mediterranean (Battle of Lepanto) to Constantinople (Istanbul) to the Balkans to Vienna to Hindu India to China to the Phillipines and today to Ft. Hood, Texas and Moore, Oklahoma. And yet we have individuals such as CIA Director John Brennan giving us some wishy-washy definition of jihad or B. Hussein Obama telling us ISIS isn’t Islamic.

I highly encourage you all to read Rev. Schall’s entire piece. It is highly enlightening and I leave you with his conclusion, “It is easy to write this movement off as fanatical and ruthless, which it is. To the outside world, it sounds horrific, but I suspect not to those who believe its truth and see the current revival of Islam with relief. The second or third class ranking of Islam in the modern world is over. But to the degree that we misjudge what is motivating the renewal of Islam, we will never understand why it exists as it does.”

Luther’s reformation brought about great strides for the civilized world. If Islam does not undergo a reformation, there is no coexistence, only a new Dark Age.

Also see:

Does Moderate Islamic Ideology Exist?

tawfikNewsmax, By Tawfik Hamid, Sep. 10, 2014:

One of the guiding principles of the Islamic State is that Muslims must fight non-Muslims all over the world and offer them the following choices: Join, pay a humiliating tax called “jijya,” or to be killed. This violent principle was the basic doctrine that justified the Islamic conquests by the early Muslims.

After recent savagery by ISIS and other militant groups around the world, the following question inevitably is raised: Is it possible to be a follower and not adhere to that mandate?

In other words, if a young Muslim became very religious, is there an approved Islamic theological source or interpretation that clearly contradicts such a principle or at least teaches it in a different way, for example, contextualizing it in time and place?
The sad answer is: No.

Typically, there are five sources for Islamic law. These are: the Koran — the Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (such as Sahih Al-Buchakry), the actions of the disciples of Mohamed (Sahaba), the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and the Tafseer or Interpretations of the Koran.

If a young Muslim whether the Islamic State is adhering to doctrine, the following shocking results would arise.

The literal understanding of the Koran 9:29 can easily be used to justify what extremists are doing.  “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humiliated.”

The following Sahih (authentic) Hadith in Al-Buchakry also supports violent ideology.
“Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said No God other than, Allah will save his property and his life from me.”

If the same young Sunni Muslim felt uncomfortable with the literal interpretations of such text a search for an answer in the actions of the Sahaba might ensue. Sadly, the Sahaba or Disciples of Muhammad were the ones who used such a principle to justify the Islamic conquests and subjugating non-Muslims to Islam.

The fourth source for Islamic law is the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence namely, Al-Shafeii, Al-Hanbali, Al-Hanafi, and Al- Maleki. These schools, without a single exception, support the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims and offer them the dire choices.

The fifth, and final hope for one searching for a different understanding of Koran 9:29 is to find an interpretation (or commentary) that interprets it differently.

A basic research on almost all approved interpretation for the Quran support the same violent understanding. More than leading 25 different approved Koran Interpretations that are usually used by Muslims to understand the Koran unambiguously support the violent understanding of the verse.

Saying that “Islam is the religion of peace” or condemning radicals as being “un-Islamic” without condemning the principle that Muslims must fight non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam, is not just hypocritical, it is counterproductive as it hides the true cause of the problem and impedes the efforts to solve it.

It also dangerously ignores the seriousness of the problem. Similarly, not calling the “Islamic State” the Islamic State (to avoid using the word Islamic) as suggested by some Islamic scholars is not going to change the painful fact that ISIS is using an approved and unchallenged principle of the Islamic theology. Such scholars need to work on providing peaceful alternatives to the current violent theology instead of asking the world not use the label Islamic State.

There are many moderate Muslims; however, until the leading Islamic scholars provide peaceful theology that clearly contradicts the violent views of the Islamic State, the existence of moderate “Islam” must be questioned.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of “Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam.” Read more reports from Tawfik Hamid — Click Here Now.

The Watchman: Jihadists on the March

Published on Jul 8, 2014 by The Christian Broadcasting Network

On this week’s edition of The Watchman, we sit down with Middle East experts Raymond Ibrahim and Tawfik Hamid to discuss the latest developments with the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iran and what can be done to counter the jihadist.

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’

Raymond Ibrahim, July 1, 2014:

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in two parts but is being published again as one article due to some confusions prompted by its original appearance as two parts.

In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform.   This is the contention of many Western peoples.  And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.

Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming.  What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam.  And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.

The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.”  Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simplymeans to “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.

Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.

Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.

In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.

—–

At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible.  With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching.  So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.

Islam’s reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.

As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures.  The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”

In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world.  Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,

translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands…  [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).

This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears.  The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists.  Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.

In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished.  Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted than their ancestors with the often black and white words of their scriptures, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.

Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.

Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).  This is an important point to be revisited later.  Muslims who do not become disaffected after better acquainting themselves with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.

—–

How Christianity and Islam can follow similar patterns of reform but with antithetical results rests in the fact that their scriptures are often antithetical to one another.   This is the key point, and one admittedly unintelligible to postmodern, secular sensibilities, which tend to lump all religious scripture together in a melting pot of relativism without bothering to evaluate the significance of their respective words and teachings.

Obviously a point by point comparison of the scriptures of Islam and Christianity is inappropriate for an article of this length (see my “Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam” for a more comprehensive treatment).

Suffice it to note some contradictions (which will be rejected as a matter of course by the relativistic mindset):

  • The New Testament preaches peace, brotherly love, tolerance, and forgiveness—for all humans, believers and non-believers alike.  Instead of combatting and converting “infidels,” Christians are called to pray for those who persecute them and turn the other cheek (which is not the same thing as passivity, for Christians are also called to be bold and unapologetic).  Conversely, the Koran and Hadith call for war, or jihad, against all non-believers, until they either convert, accept subjugation and discrimination, or die.
  • The New Testament has no punishment for the apostate from Christianity.  Conversely, Islam’s prophet himself decreed that “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.”
  • The New Testament teaches monogamy, one husband and one wife, thereby dignifying the woman.  The Koran allows polygamy—up to four wives—and the possession of concubines, or sex-slaves.  More literalist readings treat women as possessions.
  • The New Testament discourages lying (e.g., Col. 3:9).  The Koran permits it; the prophet himself often deceived others, and permitted lying to one’s wife, to reconcile quarreling parties, and to the “infidel” during war.

It is precisely because Christian scriptural literalism lends itself to religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Western civilization developed the way it did—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

And it is precisely because Islamic scriptural literalism is at odds with religious freedom, tolerance, and the dignity of women, that Islamic civilization is the way it is—despite the nonstop propaganda campaign emanating from academia, Hollywood, and other major media that says otherwise.

—–

Those in the West waiting for an Islamic “reformation” along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation, on the assumption that it will lead to similar results, must embrace two facts: 1) Islam’s reformation is well on its way, and yes, along the same lines of the Protestant Reformation—with a focus on scripture and a disregard for tradition—and for similar historic reasons (literacy, scriptural dissemination, etc.); 2) But because the core teachings of the scriptures of Christianity and Islam markedly differ from one another, Islam’s reformation has naturally produced a civilization markedly different from the West.

Put differently, those in the West uncritically calling for an “Islamic reformation” need to acknowledge what it is they are really calling for: the secularization of Islam in the name of modernity; the trivialization and sidelining of Islamic law from Muslim society.

That would not be a “reformation”—certainly nothing analogous to the Protestant Reformation.

Overlooked is that Western secularism was, and is, possible only because Christian scripture lends itself to the division between church and state, the spiritual and the temporal.

Upholding the literal teachings of Christianity is possible within a secular—or any—state.  Christ called on believers to “render unto Caesar the things of Caesar (temporal) and unto God the things of God (spiritual)” (Matt. 22:21).  For the “kingdom of God” is “not of this world” (John 18:36).  Indeed, a good chunk of the New Testament deals with how “man is not justified by the works of the law… for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal. 2:16).

On the other hand, mainstream Islam is devoted to upholding the law; and Islamic scripture calls for a fusion between Islamic law—Sharia—and the state.   Allah decrees in the Koran that “It is not fitting for true believers—men or women—to take their choice in affairs if Allah and His Messenger have decreed otherwise. He that disobeys Allah and His Messenger strays far indeed!” (33:36).   Allah tells the prophet of Islam, “We put you on an ordained way [literarily in Arabic, sharia] of command; so follow it and do not follow the inclinations of those who are ignorant” (45:18).

Mainstream Islamic exegesis has always interpreted such verses to mean that Muslims must follow the commandments of Allah as laid out in the Koran and Hadith—in a word, Sharia.

And Sharia is so concerned with the details of this world, with the everyday doings of Muslims, that every conceivable human action falls under five rulings, or ahkam: the forbidden (haram), the discouraged (makruh), the neutral (mubah), the recommended (mustahib), and the obligatory (wajib).

Conversely, Islam offers little concerning the spiritual (sidelined Sufism the exception).

Unlike Christianity, then, Islam without the law—without Sharia—becomes meaningless.   After all, the Arabic word Islam literally means “submit.”  Submit to what?  Allah’s laws as codified in Sharia and derived from the Koran and Hadith.

The “Islamic reformation” some in the West are hoping for is really nothing less than an Islam without Islam—secularization not reformation; Muslims prioritizing secular, civic, and humanitarian laws over Allah’s law; a “reformation” that would slowly see the religion of Muhammad go into the dustbin of history.

Such a scenario is certainly more plausible than believing that Islam can be true to its scriptures in any meaningful way and still peacefully coexist with, much less complement, modernity the way Christianity does.

Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’ (Part 1)

By Raymond Ibrahim, June 22, 2014:

In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform.   This is the contention of many Western peoples.  And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.

Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming. What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam.  And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.

The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.”  Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simply meansto “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve”—splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.

Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.

Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West—from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality—can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.

In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society—simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.

—-

At its core, the Protestant Reformation was a revolt against tradition in the name of scripture—in this case, the Bible.  With the coming of the printing press, increasing numbers of Christians became better acquainted with the Bible’s contents, parts of which they felt contradicted what the Church was teaching.  So they broke away, protesting that the only Christian authority was “scripture alone,” sola scriptura.

Islam’s reformation follows the same logic of the Protestant Reformation—specifically by prioritizing scripture over centuries of tradition and legal debate—but with antithetical results that reflect the contradictory teachings of the core texts of Christianity and Islam.

As with Christianity, throughout most of its history, Islam’s scriptures, specifically its “twin pillars,” the Koran (literal words of Allah) and the Hadith (words and deeds of Allah’s prophet, Muhammad), were inaccessible to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.  Only a few scholars, or ulema—literally, “they who know”—were literate in Arabic and/or had possession of Islam’s scriptures.  The average Muslim knew only the basics of Islam, or its “Five Pillars.”

In this context, a “medieval synthesis” flourished throughout the Islamic world.  Guided by an evolving general consensus (or ijma‘), Muslims sought to accommodate reality by, in medieval historian Daniel Pipes’ words,

translat[ing] Islam from a body of abstract, infeasible demands [as stipulated in the Koran and Hadith] into a workable system. In practical terms, it toned down Sharia and made the code of law operational. Sharia could now be sufficiently applied without Muslims being subjected to its more stringent demands…  [However,] While the medieval synthesis worked over the centuries, it never overcame a fundamental weakness: It is not comprehensively rooted in or derived from the foundational, constitutional texts of Islam. Based on compromises and half measures, it always remained vulnerable to challenge by purists (emphasis added).

This vulnerability has now reached breaking point: millions of more Korans published in Arabic and other languages are in circulation today compared to just a century ago; millions of more Muslims are now literate enough to read and understand the Koran compared to their medieval forbears.  The Hadith, which contains some of the most intolerant teachings and violent deeds attributed to Islam’s prophet, is now collated and accessible, in part thanks to the efforts of Western scholars, the Orientalists.  Most recently, there is the Internet—where all these scriptures are now available in dozens of languages and to anyone with a laptop or iphone.

In this backdrop, what has been called at different times, places, and contexts “Islamic fundamentalism,” “radical Islam,” “Islamism,” and “Salafism” flourished.  Many of today’s Muslim believers, much better acquainted with the often black and white words of their scriptures than their ancestors, are protesting against earlier traditions, are protesting against the “medieval synthesis,” in favor of scriptural literalism—just like their Christian Protestant counterparts once did.

Thus, if Martin Luther (d. 1546) rejected the extra-scriptural accretions of the Church and “reformed” Christianity by aligning it more closely with scripture, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab (d. 1787), one of Islam’s first modern reformers, “called for a return to the pure, authentic Islam of the Prophet, and the rejection of the accretions that had corrupted it and distorted it,” in the words of Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p. 333).

The unadulterated words of God—or Allah—are all that matter for the reformists.

Note: Because they are better acquainted with Islam’s scriptures, other Muslims, of course, are apostatizing—whether by converting to other religions, most notably Christianity, or whether by abandoning religion altogether, even if only in their hearts (for fear of the apostasy penalty).  This is an important point to be revisited later.  Muslims who do not become disaffected after better acquainting themselves with the literal teachings of Islam’s scriptures and who instead become more faithful to and observant of them are the topic of this essay.

Part 2 will appear later this week

Sisi calls for “modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam”

Martin-Luther-9389283-1-402-300x300By Robert Spencer:

The latest Muslim Martin Luther, taking up the tattered crown from the cynical, deceptive Tariq Ramadan, is Egypt’s General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has called for a reformation within Islam. Such a reformation is certainly urgently needed, and even in calling for it, Sisi has gone much farther than the Muslim Brotherhood scion Ramadan ever did.

Sisi, however, is a general, not a member of the Egyptian ulama; his words are unlikely to spark a mass movement for general reformation of the elements of Islam that give impetus to violence and supremacism. And the existence of those elements, and people who believe in them, is likely to menace Sisi for simply making this call — as others have been menaced for calling for reform in Islam in the past. Just last year, the Moroccan cleric Ahmed Assid condemned violence in Islam’s name, and was promptly declared an apostate and an enemy of Allah by other clerics, and threatened with death. The Iraqi Shi’ite scholar Sayyed Ahmad Al-Qabbanji called for reason in Islamic discourse and jurisprudence, and was immediately arrested.

Sisi has the power of the state behind him, for now, so such a fate is not likely to befall him, at least in the near future.

“Islamic ‘Martin ‘Luther’ issues his proclamation,” by James Zumwalt for UPI, January 28:

HERNDON, Va., Jan. 28 (UPI) — During late January, two high-profile personalities took actions — one outside the United States and one within — that couldn’t be any farther apart in terms of their global impact.

Due to irresponsible media coverage, the first story — with major global impact — went unreported while the second — involving an out-of-control, spoiled 19-year old kid — kept grabbing daily headlines.

Starring in the latter was Canadian entertainer Justin Bieber whose drinking, drugging and reckless driving binge in Florida was ended by police, fortunately before he killed anyone. The other action starred Egyptian leader Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who made the bombshell announcement it is time for Muslims to reform Islam, bringing it into sync with modern times….

While the United States’ Islamic nightmare seems unending, time will have to tell whether Sisi’s declaration will have its intended Martin Luther-esque effect on the religion.

Sisi delivered a speech, saying, “Religious discourse is the greatest battle and challenge facing the Egyptian people, pointing to the need for a new vision and a modern, comprehensive understanding of the religion of Islam — rather than relying on a discourse that has not changed for 800 years.”

The “800 year” reference was to the year 1258 — allegedly when highly qualified Islamic scholars of the day (“mujtahids”) declared, through “ijtihad” (independent reasoning), they had officially resolved all disputes about religious doctrine. Therefore, the “gates of ijtihad” were closed to future debate as no scholar could ever again qualify as a mujtahid — obviously a somewhat short-sighted position to assume.

For Sisi to suggest reopening ijtihad “to improve the image of this religion in front of the world” is the equivalent of Martin Luther defiantly nailing his proclamation (known as “The Ninety-Five Theses”) to a church door in 1517, seeking to reform self-promoting Roman Catholic religious practices.

 

Read more at Jihad Watch

No Reform For Islam

makbara1by Justin O Smith

During the past few years, I have often stated the need for Muslims to reform Islam, in the same manner of Judaism and Christianity, even though I knew that Islam is incapable of reforming itself. Other experts and activists, such as Irshad Manji, Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, have suggested that the reform of Islam should be directed towards secularism; however, to date, the only successful reform, led by imams and mullahs, has been a regressive return to the type of violence, increased terrorism and military conquests, once seen only at the height of Islamic power when Abd al-Rahman and his Islamic army were repelled from the Gates of France in 732 AD by the Christian forces and their leader, Charles “the Hammer” Martel.

Two days before Christmas, fourteen people were killed and 120 wounded, as an explosion, felt in areas fifteen miles away, ripped through police headquarters in Mansoura, Egypt. Just days before New Year’s Day 2014, bombs erupted in Volgograd, Russia in the main railway station and on a trolley bus on the 29th and 30th of December, which killed 34 people and wounded sixty. The common link between these two cases and 99% of the terrorist acts worldwide is Islam.

One should note the book ‘al Islam wa usul al-hukm’- Islam and Bases of Power by Ali Abd al-Razia (1888-1966), which argued that modern Egypt should sever its connection to Islam altogether. Razia concluded that the caliphate is not mentioned in the Koran and Mohammed had not been the head of a state in the 20th century sense, so Egyptians were supposedly free to implement a European-style secular government.

Nazra Quraishi, a Michigan kindergarten teacher, stated in ‘The Lansing State Journal’ (July 5, 2006) that one “can embrace Islam but cannot get out.” If Islam is a “religion”/ideology one can only convert to and not leave upon choosing so, then it is a threat to every free person on the planet; this cuts to the core principle of any democratic state. “Radical Islam has come to mock the very principle of nationality and citizenship,” wrote Fouad Ajami.

There are not any moderate Muslims, only apostates, because a moderate Islam does not exist…a Catch-22 of sorts. In order to create a changed or reformed ideology, Muslims would have to confront their leaders. Muslims would have to stand against men like Shaker Elsayed, leader of Dar al-Hijrah – one of America’s largest mosques in Falls Church, VA, who was espousing the virtues of violent jihad in February 2013 and stated that “The call to reform Islam is an alien call.”

Islam is the fastest growing ideology__”religion”__in Europe and North America, in large part, due to the “Trojan Horse” of immigration, so brilliantly detailed by the late, great Oriana Fallaci, and the extraordinary high rate of procreation within Muslim populations. It has become more radicalized and fierce due to Saudi Arabian advocacy and financial support for Islam’s extreme Wahhabi sect, and the majority of its followers identify themselves with a pan-Islamic community that transcends borders.

Today in America, many Muslim leaders are in agreement with the ideas of British Muslim leader Anjem Choudary, as they praise the 9/11 terorists and call for Sharia law in the U.S., and they claim that “The United States belongs to Allah.” One such leader, Muzammil Siddiqi is associated with Hamas terrorists and the Islamic Center of Washington, DC, and during an October 2000 rally near the White House, he blamed the U.S. for the Palestinian situation and warned “the wrath of God will come.”

Although smooth talking Saudi princes dismissed the fact that Princess Haifa “accidently” funded the 9/11/01 murderers and terrorists through an intermediary, Majed Ibrahim, as “coincidence”, it is now all too apparent that Saudi hands were involved in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Abdul al-Harbi was quickly spirited away by Saudi diplomats, after he progressed from a “suspect” in the attack to “a person of interest” to “innocent” within a week. Ominously, it becomes clear that a terrorist was allowed to escape by U.S “authorities”, once one discovers that six of his relatives, such as Badr and Khalid al-Harbi, actively fought for Al Qaeda and three more__Salim, Majid and Muhammed al-Harbi__ are currently in Gitmo prison.

Does anyone really think that a “religion”__that Islam__ that produces  men who will eat the heart of an enemy (see Syria 2013), draw and quarter American contractors and hang them over the Euphrates River, or kill nearly 300 school children in Beslan, Russia (September 2004) in the name of Allah, here and now, in the 21st century, will ever reform itself?

Currently and confirmed by then-Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC) in 2010, Iran’s terrorist arm, Hezbollah, is building a power base in Mexico, along with Al Qaeda, and it is training Mexican drug cartels in the use of explosives. In 2010, a drug cartel detonated a car bomb for the first time in Ciudad, Juarez.

In 2011, Roger Noreiga, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, gave a clear and urgent warning: “If our government and responsible parties fail to act…there will be an attack on U.S. personnel, installations or interests in the Americas, as soon as Hezbollah operatives believe that they are capable of such an operation without implicating their Iranian sponsors in crime.”

How many Muslims have forced jihadist imams from their mosques? How many Muslim parents are prepared to say that they came to our nation to raise their children as loyal Americans, not Saudis, Iranian or Palestinian and such?

Whether the islamoNazis attack us from their enormous fear of Ataturk’s 1922 brand of secularism, which they claimed would destroy Islam, or simply because America is predominantly a Christian nation and they hate our principles and ideas on freedom, they still attack; they are not remotely considering reform. As Hussein Massawi, former Hezbollah leader, stated: “We are not fighting so that you will give us something. We are fighting to eliminate you (the infidels).

The sweet dream of world peace and “coexistence” has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict. Bomb us and the Left-wing media agonizes over the “root causes”. Shoot up Ft Hood or detonate a few bombs in Boston and our community-organizer-in-chief Obama rushes to the nearest mosque to declare “Islam is a religion of peace.” Murder a school full of children, and our academics join Ossama Bahloul, imam of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, and Jamal al-Badawi, in explaining that to the vast majority of Muslims “jihad” is a harmless concept surrounding personal struggle: This resurgent Islam will not be stopped by a few new laws or outreach to the ummah, but by firm resolve and tough action across the board in all areas of U.S. policy.

Can Islam Be Reformed? A Response Essay To Daniel Pipes

reform of islamBy Nikolaas de Jong, July 10, 2013:

In a past article, I already discussed some issues of Islamic civilization which we are apt to neglect in our analysis of the current situation in the Middle East. Obviously, the potential force of democracy to conquer once primitive countries has been greatly overestimated; nobody will disagree anymore on that count. However, the explanations for this failure of democracy vary a lot, and quite independent of the political alignment of the commentators: it appears that all shades of opinion are quite confused by what is happening in countries recently “liberated” by the Arab Spring. The main reason for this confusion, as I stated before, is that most people in the west do not understand the wider civilizational questions involved: first, can we equate any popular uprising with an ideologically inspired revolution, but second, and most importantly, can revolutions in the Islamic world ever resemble those in the West and why are we so sure that the Islamic pattern of history must correspond to the earlier Western? The first point has been conceded by many observers, albeit implicitly and not in wider historical context, since today the dominant opinion is that these countries were not “ripe” for democracy and that popular rule does not necessarily imply democracy as we understand it in the west. The second point requires more insight, and is not even addressed by most commentators or journalists, although in fact to pose the question of essential differences in culture is not at all new; indeed, it only implies further investigation of the popular thesis Samuel Huntington developed about the “clash of civilizations”. But since western nations have lived in peace for over sixty years now, and we tend to believe that the whole world potentially is a prosperous and peaceful place like the western nation states, the concept of wholly different civilizations has become quite incomprehensible to most opinion makers. Nevertheless, we shall see it is essential to understand the ordeal the Muslim world is currently going through.

A few days ago Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, wrote an article, “Can Islam be reformed?”. As a good neoconservative, Pipes believes that Islamic culture will ultimately be able to adapt to western standards and that a reformed, reinterpreted version of Islam will emerge from the contacts with western democratic influences. In his article, he expressly  shows Islamic civilization in a very un-civilizational light: the issues in Islamic history are made to appear a variation on what happened in the history of other cultures, namely an endless sequence of wars and political upheavals, according to the classical pattern of rise and fall: the extremism that plagues the Islamic world is in fact a reaction to the decline of Islam since its golden age, and will wither away once a democratic, economically successful alternative has been offered; in this sense, the Islamist movement is not unlike communism and fascism, both ideologies cashing in on political and economic hardship. Moreover, Islam is not all that different from Judaism and Christianity: both religions have in the past embraced views we would now find unacceptable: Islam can adapt to modernity like other religions have. Pipes concedes that Islam today poses many problems and not all of its tenets are very humane, but he believes that Islam could be, as it were, absorbed by the west. In his most recent commentary on the military coup in Egypt, he reiterated his view that Islamism is just an extremist political fraction vying for influence among the electorate, and that the majority of the population are moderate Muslims desperately in search of answers to the crisis of modernity.

It is surprising that a man who is so knowledgeable on Islamic and Arab history, really thinks the Islamic world could be reformed. This is especially surprising, since in fact democracy and rule of law have hardly taken root in the rest of the non-western countries, and it remains to be seen whether the experiment will be viable in the long run, especially as western values are receding in the West itself at least since the first world war. Western self-confidence is at an historical low, so the first question is: why is there anything necessary about Muslims taking over western values and political institutions? I argued earlier that Islamic culture itself is not heading for a particularly happy future, but neither is the west, and if Islam does not take over Europe, it will still probably remain the same ossified theocratic system it has always been in the Muslim world itself. Besides, Pipes’ constant reference to the Islamic golden age, as if it were some shining example of human achievement and a tolerant, open-minded era, is disturbing to say the least: by now we should know that the power of Islam in this period was only brought about by brute military conquest, that its famous cultural achievements were largely the work of Christian and Jewish dhimmis, and that the Islamic world controlled so many material and cultural resources simply because it had invaded the lands of other cultures and withheld the benefits of trade from the Christian world. And of course, Pipes does not mention that this was not a “golden age” at all for many people, such as religious minorities, Hindus, and women. The reason it was called a “golden age” by Muslims is because it was a golden age for the Islamic conception of life, but not for humanity. So, on closer scrutiny, it becomes clear that Islam was always rigorous and it has not known any more humane periods or ups and downs like other civilizations, except in the military sense. The proper question that would invalidate Pipes’ designation of Islamism as a totalitarian doctrine on the pattern of fascism and communism, is: would the average Muslim throughout history have considered the deeds and beliefs of today’s Islamists and Islamic terrorists unjustified? Does the average Muslim today even see anything inherently inhumane or un-Islamic in the deeds of terrorists? I think Pipes knows the answer to these questions as well as most of us do.

Pipes warns us for adopting an excessively “essentialist” view of Islam, which means relying solely on Islamic scripture and doctrine in explaining Islamic history and the actions of Muslims; however, it seems Pipes should watch out not to adopt the absurdly empiricist view that is also held by many political correct pundits, and which implies that the deeds of Muslims only have general “human” motives, and religion is simply a justification of these universal motives. It is all very well that Pipes himself can provide his own moderate interpretation of Islam and sees history in the light of this interpretation, but in the end it is the Muslims who decide how to interpret their religion, not western academics. As Bill Warner put it, we can only understand the actions of Muslims and Islamic history by first understanding Islam and what it actually is, not the other way around. Otherwise we would just be fooling ourselves and evading the main question.

Read more at The Brussels Journal (H/T Andrew Bostom)

Nikolaas de Jong is a Flemish history student with a critical view on current affairs, history and culture. He is inspired by Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, Raymond Aron and Jean-François Revel. He is specifically interested in islam and Russian history. He is a member of the political party Liberty GB. This article appeared July 10, 2013 in the Brussels Journal. The Brussels Journal is published by the Society for the Advancement of Freedom in Europe (SAFE), a Swiss non-profit organisation. http://www.think-israel.org/dejong.islamreformable.html

Islam Needs an Intervention

addicted_to_terrorism_billboard_at_night_9-22-13-2 (1)

Bad luck for Iran’s new President Rouhani.  He arrives in New York just after the carnage in  Kenya and Pakistan.

Of course these mass murdering terror attacks were perpetrated by Sunnis, not Iranian Shiites, but most of the American public doesn’t know the difference.  And those of us who do are only reminded these killings are just the latest in a long and sadly predictable history of such events, Sunni and Shiite, during which, according to one website, a staggering 21269 deadly attacks have been undertaken by Islamic terrorists since  September 11, 2001. (To give you an idea of how many deaths this comes to, the Mumbai mass killing of 2008 in which 164 died is only one of this over twenty-one thousand, as are the 2004 Atocha Station bombings in which 191 died. And 68 and 78 died, so far, in the Kenya and Pakistan attacks, also part of the over twenty-one thousand.)

So Barack Obama should be aware, if he is in the mood to appease an Islamic regime with multiple terrorist tentacles, that it might not be the best week for such an action. Too bad, Rouhani. (Or let’s hope it’s “Too bad, Rouhani,” whose “moderate” track record fits right in with the 21269 deadly attacks above, although his pre-dates 9/11.

Indeed, like a badly failing family member — an alcoholic or a drug addict — what Islam desperately needs now is not nuclear appeasement or CAIR-style “tolerance” but an intervention.

To say that something is decidedly wrong in the Islamic world is a monumental understatement. And Muslim societies make almost no serious effort to correct themselves, ricocheting back and forth between military totalitarianism and religious totalitarianism while — like that family heroin addict — blaming everyone but themselves for their fate.

They are indeed in deep need of an intervention. The question is how to do it.

Of course, just by raising that question you are accused of Islamophobia, an absurd almost self-contradictory term, which always applies better to those using it. They are the ones who are phobic about Islam because they are the ones who are fearful (actually terrified) of what Islamic people will do if told the truth.  So they come up with those equally absurd lies, like defining the crime of a soldier who murders his fellows while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” as “workplace violence.”

This real Islamophobia has been the pathetic stance of our government and military since 9/11, made worse by the delusions of Barack Obama.  Of course it has failed.  How could it possibly succeed when it is fundamentally dishonest?

Meanwhile, another large sector of our society wants us to throw up our hands at the whole thing — let these madmen destroy each other.  I am sympathetic — how could I not be?  We have already lost so much in treasure, human and material.

But I will remind those people — and myself — that in our tradition we are our brother’s keeper.  And that is one of the most important values, if not the key value, that gave us this great country.

Furthermore, such a violent ideology left unchecked could destroy the world. It already infects over a billion Muslims, with painfully rare, though highly laudable, exceptions.  (The depressing truth is that I met almost all of them in my job at PJM. Where are the rest? Why is it there is no really organized attempt within Islam for any kind of serious reform — only the most momentary lip service after a terror attack?)

So back to the question of how to stage this intervention.  This is extremely difficult, but I am going to take a flyer with some suggestions. I invite all to respond.  (And, yes, I know, rounding up all the Muslims in the world for an intervention like your Cousin Phil is a tad inconvenient, but think metaphorically.)

1. Most importantly, start being honest.  Say that Islam itself is the cause of all this atrocious violence and must be corrected, must have a fundamental reformation of the religion. Keep talking about the reformation — keep demanding it of them — all the time.  Why have you not joined the modern world?  Why do you oppress women? Urge them to reform and never stop.  No more euphemisms about “religion of peace” or “work place violence.”  If you kill for Allah, you are evil, immoral and sick.  You don’t kill for anybody’s God.

Read more at PJ Media

 

The Question of Islamic Reform

islam_prayerBy :

Perhaps the major theological problem confronting the revisionist Muslim community today—i.e., those whom we call “moderates”  or “secular-oriented intellectuals”—is the canonical scriptures which define their faith and without which Islam would cease to exist. The dilemma for these “enlightened Muslims” is the Koran itself, with its ubiquitous summons to warfare, conquest, enslavement and social and economic persecution of vanquished peoples, which is why they are preoccupied, to the brink of obsession, with the twin concepts of re-interpretation and contextualization.

These meliorists are convinced that Islam is diametrically opposed to something called “Islamism,” that Islam is essentially a “religion of peace” rather than a bellicose imperial movement and that its founding texts therefore invite reinterpretation. This belief can be readily demolished by anyone with a cursory acquaintance with the Islamic literature and a modicum of common sense. For once the incendiary and violent passages are expurgated from the Koran and the Hadith, and the philosophical and political curriculum appropriately bowdlerized, there is far too little left over on which to base a credible and authoritative, world-historical faith. Indeed, as I have argued before, the result would resemble a version of Baha’i’ and could no longer legitimately be called Islam. Re-interpretation is effectively a dead end, a theological placebo swallowed by the naïve or the willfully ignorant who find the strong medicine of reality unpalatable or even abhorrent.

The notion of contextualization fares no better. Here the thesis is that one must adopt a historical or dialectical perspective on the progressive evolution of belief systems. The repugnant portions of the scriptures are understood to apply only to the times in which they were conceived and written. Of course, there is some truth to this contention. The Bible also contains offensive passages which have been despumated with the passing of time. But the difference between the Bible and the Koran is categorical. The former is largely narrative and parabolic in structure and the parts we would regard as objectionable are comparatively few. The Koran, on the contrary—especially the longer, Medinan section—is almost unrelentingly belligerent and exhortative, commanding the believer to slay, conquer, oppress and impose draconian taxes on those who have been subjugated.

To say, as did reformer Salim Mansur, an apostle of contextualization, that Jesus should not be held responsible for the actions of his followers and therefore, by implication, neither should Mohammed is to miss the point entirely. Jesus commanded the faithful to turn the other cheek, not to “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” (Koran 9:5). Jesus is in no need of contextualization. Judaism differs inasmuch as the messiah has not yet arrived and the fundamental commandments are both few and benign. In Christianity, as we have noted, Jesus is a harbinger of peace and love, and his exegetes, like Saint Paul, are fallible human beings whose utterances are seen to be open to debate. In Islam, however, the word of the Prophet, transmitted by Allah via the angel Gabriel, is set in theological stone; it cannot be reinterpreted or contextualized, only abrogated by Mohammed himself. Its directives are neither locally nor temporally specific. They are meant to be understood as having general and timeless application, constituting the default position of Islamic belief. Efforts to neuter such clearly unmistakable and bloody imperatives, which ramify throughout the Koran—as, for example, in the Muslim Access website which strenuously labors to sanitize the intractable—are embarrassingly disingenuous.

The abiding, if not insoluble, problem with the seductive hypothesis of contextualization is a kind of prolepsis, an anticipation of change before it happens—which in this case would then render the original event tolerable. Are we to assume, in other words, that the beheading of 600-900 Jewish males of the Banu Qurayza and the enslavement of their women and children at the Battle of the Trench is perfectly understandable because it occurred in 627? That theannihilation of 60-80 million Hindus during the conquest of India is historically unexceptionable because it occurred between the 11th and 16th centuries? Need we merely contextualize such atrocities—without apology—in order not to be unduly disturbed by them? Were Islamic warriors more primitive in the unenlightened past but are now well on the way toward civilized behavior and international standards of just conduct?

Read more at Front Page

 

Can Muslim Activism Be Done Right?

kr-450x337By :

In an interesting and presumably comforting article recently posted on this site, titled Muslim Activism Done Right, Michael Volpe draws our attention to a new Canadian advocacy group, Progressive Muslims Institute Canada (PMIC). Anti-extremist, amenable to secular values and politically communal, PMIC seeks to counter the theological summons to jihad and the spirit of antisemitic hatred embraced by its majoritarian co-religionists, and to establish friendly working relations with the Jewish community. Volpe understands this new project as a welcoming sign and harbinger of the future, suggesting the hope for a gradual reconciliation between heretofore antagonistic groups and the restoration of both sanity and the desire for social peace within the Muslim collective.

According to the Director General of the PMIC, Tahir Gora, the Institute “strongly denounces all forms of extremism and terrorism in the name of Islam” and promotes “gender equality…liberal, progressive and secular values among Muslims, and believes in a clear separation between religion and state.” Jewish organizations like the The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), whose concern with interfaith outreach trumps Jewish security, and B’nai B’rith have enthusiastically applauded such initiatives. And of course, developments like PMIC are a far sight better than jihadist savagery and orthodox adherence to the basic Islamic texts.

But there is a real problem here that Volpe’s article refuses to acknowledge. What these “moderates” or enlightened Muslims are proposing, however laudable, has little to do with mainstream Islam, whose fundamental scriptures cannot be rewritten on pain of apostasy and execution. Any scrupulous reading of the Koran and the attendant canonical and jurisprudential literature should make it amply clear that injunctions to slaughter, conquest, oppression and domination are inscribed in the faith. No attempt at what is euphemistically called “re-interpretation” or “contextualizing” can be expected to gain even modest traction in the larger Muslim world.

Efforts like those advanced by PMIC are doomed to fail. They cling precariously to a comparatively few benign tropes in the earlier, Meccan portion of the Koran, which are in any case subject to the principle of abrogation (Nasikh/Mansukh) and replacement by the later, more ruthless and bloodthirsty passages in the Medinian Koran. The “activists” are incubating an entirely new religion, an ostensible form of Islam that is no longer Islam but something closer to, perhaps, the inoffensiveness of Bahá’i, which is vaguely related to Shi’a Islam but essentially independent of it and condemned by both Sunni and Shi’a asharaam (sinful, unclean, forbidden).

Scrub the propulsion toward imperial ferocity from the bedrock tenets of Islam, separate mosque from state, eliminate the doctrine of violent jihad and advocate for gender equality, and what you come up with is a fantasy exercise, that is, an Islam divorced from its historical and present reality. It would comprise a body of doctrine completely alien to the rules, beliefs, usages and commands associated with the legacy of Mohammed. Contrary to the pious and uninformed sentiments of the liberal intelligentsia, Islam is not a religion of peace. As Charlie Daniels writing for CSN News asks, “What kind of religion and what kind of god advocates the wholesale slaughter of ordinary citizens, what kind of clergy send young men to a gruesome death promising them a place in some male-dominated sensuous paradise where they will while away the eons in the arms of multiple virgins?” A few small activist groups stippling the vast Islamic landscape will not do much in the way of terraforming a world.

The fact is, unfortunately, that Islam cannot be reformed if it is to remain Islam. The apostles of secular values, interfaith communion, and reconciliation with the infidel are, as Muslims, in denial of the proscriptions and prescriptions of the faith they continue to profess. Their approach, writes Mark Durie at The Gatestone Institute, “must at the very least honestly acknowledge Islam’s traditions of commentary on the Koran, and explain how a large number of violent texts might be viewed in a more liberating light.” But as Durie goes on to show in meticulous and irrefutable detail, explicit calls for violence as the religious obligation of every believer simply cannot be explained away. Context is no “silver bullet against violent texts.”

Read more at Front Page

Reflections on My Muslim Ex-Friends

ex_edited-2-350x350By David Solway:

Some of my best friends are Muslims. Or rather, some of my best friends were Muslims—not that they are no longer Muslims but that they are no longer my friends.

The problem I had over years of friendship had to do with certain personal attributes which I value highly, namely, consistency and the ability to recognize facts. My friends were good men who believed in Western democratic values, in selective immigration policies based on the possession of needed skills that would contribute to both society and the economy, in the necessity for Muslim (and all) immigrants to assimilate into the heritage culture, and in customary methods of education and a traditional curriculum; they rejected the utter folly of multiculturalism as it is practiced in Canada. At the same time they were staunch adherents of Islam as they understood it and swore by the distinction between Islam and Islamism, between genuine Muslims and radical Islamists, a distinction characterized, they claimed, by an unbridgeable divide.

I enjoyed a positive and warm relation with two of these men in particular. Both are published authors. Both are much in the limelight, reviewed and interviewed in many different places, for defending the liberal society they find superior to any other. And both are under a fatwa issued by their less tolerant brethren. And yet one of these valiant combatants considers Mohammed to be the perfect man whom Muslims should strive to emulate, is not well versed in the complex history of the Middle East, and entertains a corrosive skepticism about Israel. The other, while regarding his jihadist co-religionists as barbarians, yet argues that the atrocities associated with the development and diffusion of Islam should be historically contextualized, that the doctrinal heart of Islam is untarnished by events, and that the faith has not been properly interpreted by those who, he feels, wantonly abuse it. He believes that Islam blossomed under Mohammed as a spiritual quest, ignoring completely the historical fact that the Prophet was also a conquering warlord who engaged in raids for booty and committed bloody and indiscriminate acts of slaughter.

My two ex-friends reminded me of Irshad Manji who, in The Trouble with Islam Today, anatomizes everything that is wrong with her religion but makes a passionate case for its reform, including the revival of the faculty of ijtihad (independent thinking and counsel). It is hard to take her argument seriously. After 1400 years of nearly unchecked imperial conquest, with a holy book brimming with commandments to kill, mutilate, tax and enslave those it denominates as “infidels,” with hardline clerics in control of dogma today, and with terrorist regimes intent on bringing the West to its knees, can one credibly argue that Islam is even remotely susceptible to wide-scale, peaceful renovation? Moreover, reform would entail the gutting of myriad canonical texts, including the Koran, the Hadith and the five schools of Sunni and Shia jurisprudence, leaving nothing but a rump scriptural archive. Plainly, under the aegis of “reform,” Islam would cease to exist.

My own trouble with Islam, and the reason for calling it quits with my former friends, involved precisely what I understand as the immutable or essentialist nature of Islam. This nature prevails despite the historical nuances, the times when the faith was less oppressive than at other times (e.g., the Abbasid dynasty of early ninth century Baghdad), and the existence of comparatively enlightened movements like the eighth-and-ninth century Mu’tazalites, who fought for the primacy of reason, man’s free will, and the moral responsibility of the individual. The Mu’tazalites, be it noted, were decisively crushed in the tenth century by the fundamentalist Ash’arite sect, after which, as the latter’s leading theologian al-Ghazali wrote in his perennially influential The Incoherence of the Philosophers, “the gate of ijtihad is closed.” And it has been closed ever since. Additionally, we should keep in mind that although the Mu’tazalites believed that the Koran was a divinely created text, contingent upon the circumstances of its revelation, and not, as the Ash’arites claimed, co-existent with Allah and therefore fixed eternally, it nevertheless could not be transformed into something it was not.

Read more at Front Page

For an opposing view see “Recommended Reading: Islam and Islamism” (globalmbwatch.com)

The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam Revisited

20121006_MAP003_0Islam is nothing if not a political ideology. The first time Mohammad raised his sword to forcibly convert men to Islam, and abandoned persuasion, that was the inauguration of political Islam. It has not changed since then. Force, coercion, slavery, death, and submission are the sole hallmarks of Islam.

By Edward Cline:

Excerpt:

The following is a revised and expanded version of “The Incontrovertible Dead-End of Islam,” which first appeared on October 30th, 2010. The revision and expansion are prompted by a May 13th, 2013 article by Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum, “Islam vs. Islamism,” which also appeared in the Washington Times on May 13th. His article reflects a troubling central premise of alleging a necessary distinction between Islam and “Islamists,” that is, between ordinary, non-violent Muslims and their violent, “extremist” or “radical” brethren.

Pipes opens with a reference to the Boston Marathon bombings of April 15thand the foiled attack on the Canadian rail link to the U.S.:

What motives lay behind last month’s Boston Marathon bombing and the would-be attack on a VIA Rail Canada train?

Leftists and establishmentarians variously offer imprecise and tired replies – such as “violent extremism” or anger at Western imperialism – unworthy of serious discussion. Conservatives, in contrast, engage in a lively and serious debate among themselves: some say Islam the religion provides motive, others say it’s a modern extremist variant of the religion, known as radical Islam or Islamism.

As a participant in the latter debate, here’s my argument for focusing on Islamism.

His argument proposes a false dichotomy between Islam and “Islamists,” that is, between Muslims who wage violent jihad on the West and even amongst themselves for sectarian reasons, and those who don’t.

Islam is the fourteen-century-old faith of a billion-plus believers that includes everyone from quietist Sufis to violent jihadis. Muslims achieved remarkable military, economic, and cultural success between roughly 600 and 1200 C.E. Being a Muslim then meant belonging to a winning team, a fact that broadly inspired Muslims to associate their faith with mundane success. Those memories of medieval glory remain not just alive but central to believers’ confidence in Islam and in themselves as Muslims.

Major dissonance began around 1800, when Muslims unexpectedly lost wars, markets, and cultural leadership to Western Europeans. It continues today, as Muslims bunch toward the bottom of nearly ever index of achievement. This shift has caused massive confusion and anger. What went wrong, why did God seemingly abandon His faithful? The unbearable divergence between pre-modern accomplishment and modern failure brought about trauma.

Muslims have responded to this crisis in three main ways. Secularists want Muslims to ditch the Shari’a (Islamic law) and emulate the West. Apologists also emulate the West but pretend that in doing so they are following the Shari’a. Islamists reject the West in favor of a retrograde and full application of the Shari’a.

These paragraphs astounded me. The first one glosses over the conquest of the Middle East and North Africa which necessitated forced conversion, butchery, and slavery. Remarkable military successes, indeed. But for their defeat at the Battle of Tours, the “Islamists” would have carved out a huge empire in Europe. What economic accomplishments? The period he cites spans the economically stagnant Dark Ages and early Western Medieval periods. Cultural successes? Other than a certain architectural style, translating some Aristotle and other ancient thinkers – whose works Islam subsequently rejected – I can’t recall any great symphonies, artwork, or literature Islam produced in those six hundred years.

“Major dissonance” within Islam began over who was going to be Mohammad’s official successor in the 630′s. Thus the interminable conflicts between Sunnis and Shi’ites and other splintering sects of Islam. Islam never had any “cultural leadership.”

Secularist Muslims may want Islam to ditch Sharia law but only at the risk of being deemed apostates and of their deaths. Apologist Muslims feign a hypothetical reconciliation between Sharia and Western concepts of freedom, and demand the incorporation of Sharia into Western law. “Islamists,” however, are consistent with their creed, know that it is“retrograde” and primitive, and wage jihad to achieve that end.

Raymond Ibrahim, associate director of the Middle East Forum, on October 28, 2010, however, published an article, “Offensive Jihad: The One Incontrovertible Problem with Islam,” also in the Middle East Form (October 28, 2010), which seems to be at fundamental odds with Pipes’ article. Ibrahim’s article addresses one of the fundamental problems of and with Islam, one which I have continually stressed: jihadJihad is a core tenet in what is a codified system of irrationalism that cannot be “reformed” without obliterating Islam as a distinct religious creed. Remove the belligerent jihadist commands from the Koran and Hadith to wage jihad, for example, and it would cease to be Islam, not only in Muslim minds but in non-Muslim, as well.

There would, of course, remain a host of other irrational assertions and imperatives, such as the sanctioning of wife-beating and the murder of apostates and the like, which constitute, after some astounding mental gymnastics by Islamic clerics and scholars, the byzantine and illogical underpinnings and text of Sharia law. The jihadist elements of Islam, however, are easily transmutable into a political policy, which is conquest of all non-Muslim or infidel governments and societies and their submission to Sharia. That makes it an ideological doctrine. Muslims are either obliged to wage jihad, or they are not. Mohammad and Muslim scholars say they are. End of argument, so far as Koranic interpretation goes, and that interpretation is biased towards the literal.

Reading the debates about what Islam’s mission is and the role of jihad in it and what they truly “mean,” I am always reminded of H.L. Mencken’s observation on religious zealotry: “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” Islam is a puritanical creed that makes no allowances for either infidels or apostates or its adherents. I cannot believe that beneath the pious exterior of any person who would be seduced by Islam is not a seething, percolating envy of men who are indeed free, an envy easily and maliciously transfigured into violent jihad.

This policy is operative and underway today in Western nations with varying degrees of success, and it is making progress only by default. Islam is strong only because the West’s defenders are emasculated by multiculturalist premises and a general disinclination to condemn any religion. Aggravating the problem is an unadmitted but general fear in tolerance-obsessed pragmatists of “offending” Muslims, who might start rioting and demonstrating again, claiming discrimination, defamation, and disrespect, and etc., none of it spontaneous but clearly organized and orchestrated by so-called “radicals.”

I was initially impressed by Ibrahim’s quotation from an entry on jihad in the Encyclopedia of Islam, which is an admission that “Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad can be eliminated” – until I realized that it could just as well mean that, after a global caliphate has been established, there would be no more justification for violentjihad. Every nation would by then be conquered, recalcitrant infidels slain, enslaved, or reduced to dhimmitude, and Sharia made the law of every land.

In short, after all the killing, enslaving, and oppression, jihad would be wrong!!

But, if Islam is completely” made over” in the sense of reforming it, what would be left of Islam that virtually any other creed could not claim as its fundamental tenets, as well? And to” make over” Islam, its principal font of “kilman” or wisdom, the objectionable and barbaric Mohammad, would need to be dispensed with. He is a role model for killers and tyrants and other psychopathic individuals. Remove that one critical link of the irrational and arbitrary in Islam, and all the other links fall to the floor or dissolve into nothingness.

 
Read more: Family Security Matters