Friday, June 12, 2009

America's first Muslim president?

 

by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton — someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a "white male" — was dubbed "America's first black president" by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president.


This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim any more than Mr. Clinton actually is black. After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich.


What little we know about Mr. Obama's youth certainly suggests that he not only had a Kenyan father who was Muslim, but spent his early, formative years as one in Indonesia. As the president likes to say, "much has been made" — in this case by him and his campaign handlers — of the fact that he became a Christian as an adult in Chicago, under the now-notorious Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright.


With Mr. Obama's unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls "the Muslim world" (hereafter known as "the Speech"), there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself. Consider the following indicators:

 

  • Mr. Obama referred four times in his speech to "the Holy Koran." Non-Muslims — even pandering ones — generally don't use that Islamic formulation.
  • Mr. Obama established his firsthand knowledge of Islam (albeit without mentioning his reported upbringing in the faith) with the statement, "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed." Again, "revealed" is a depiction Muslims use to reflect their conviction that the Koran is the word of G-d, as dictated to Muhammad.
  • Then the president made a statement no believing Christian — certainly not one versed, as he professes to be, in the ways of Islam — would ever make. In the context of what he euphemistically called the "situation between Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs," Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day "…when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) joined in prayer."

Now, the term "peace be upon them" is invoked by Muslims as a way of blessing deceased holy men. According to Islam, that is what all three were — dead prophets. Of course, for Christians, Jesus is the living and immortal Son of G0d.


In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the Speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah — notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood — to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton's fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison.


For example, Mr. Obama has — from literally his inaugural address onward — inflated the numbers and, in that way and others, exaggerated the contemporary and historical importance of Muslim-Americans in the United States. In the Speech, he used the Brotherhood's estimates of "nearly 7 million Muslims" in this country, at least twice the estimates from other, more reputable sources. (Who knows? By the time Mr. Obama's friends in the radical Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) perpetrate their trademark books-cooking as deputy 2010 census takers, the official count may well claim considerably more than 7 million Muslims are living here.)


Even more troubling were the commitments the president made in Cairo to promote Islam in America. For instance, he declared: "I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." He vowed to ensure that women can cover their heads, including, presumably, when having their photographs taken for passports, driver's licenses or other identification purposes. He also pledged to enable Muslims to engage in zakat, their faith's requirement for tithing, even though four of the eight types of charity called for by Shariah can be associated with terrorism. Not surprisingly, a number of Islamic "charities" in this country have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism.


Particularly worrying is the realignment Mr. Obama has announced in U.S. policy toward Israel. While he pays lip service to the "unbreakable" bond between America and the Jewish state, the president has unmistakably signaled that he intends to compel the Israelis to make territorial and other strategic concessions to Palestinians to achieve the hallowed two-state solution. In doing so, he ignores the inconvenient fact that both the Brotherhood's Hamas and Abu Mazen's Fatah remain determined to achieve a one-state solution, whereby the Jews will be driven "into the sea."


Whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim or simply plays one in the presidency may, in the end, be irrelevant. What is alarming is that in aligning himself and his policies with those of Shariah-adherents such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the president will greatly intensify the already enormous pressure on peaceful, tolerant American Muslims to submit to such forces — and heighten expectations, here and abroad, that the rest of us will do so as well.

 

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration, heads the Center for Security Policy.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Obama's stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people.

 

by Anne Bayefsky

 

President yet again makes his intentions clear

 

President Obama's Cairo speech was nothing short of an earthquake — a distortion of history, an insult to the Jewish people, and an abandonment of very real human-rights victims in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is not surprising that Arabs and Muslims in a position to speak were enthusiastic. It is more surprising that American commentators are praising the speech for its political craftiness, rather than decrying its treachery of historic proportions.


Obama equated the Holocaust to Palestinian "dislocation." In his words: "The Jewish people were persecuted. …anti-Semitism …culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust…. Six million Jews were killed…. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland." This parallelism amounts to the fictitious Arab narrative that the deliberate mass murder of six million Jews for the crime of being Jewish is analogous to a Jewish-driven violation of Palestinian rights.


Speaking in an Arab country to Arabs and Muslims, Obama pointedly singled out European responsibility for the Holocaust — "anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." In other contexts, the European emphasis would be a curiosity. In Egypt, it was no accident. The Arab storyline has always been that Arabs have been forced to suffer the creation of Israel for a European crime.


In fact, Obama's Egyptian hosts would have been only too familiar with Arab anti-Semitism during World War II (and beyond). After all, Obama was speaking in the country that schooled and later welcomed back Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini as a national hero. This was the man who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler's guest facilitating the murder of Jews.

Obama thought he would prove his even-handedness towards Israel by boasting of Friday's trip to a concentration camp and rejecting Holocaust denial. In this context, however, the move of doing Jews these supposed favors appears to be cynical political opportunism, especially having just set the Holocaust side-by-side with the "suffering" and "pain" of Palestinians "for more than 60 years." After all, the president made no emotive references to the "intolerable" "suffering" of Israeli victims of Arab terror "for more than 60 years." The word "terrorism" never left his lips. Far from bolstering the fight against terror and the anti-Semitism driving it, such maneuvers embolden more hate and violence against Israelis.


Instead, Obama sought Arab and Muslim approbation by drawing a moral equivalence between those who have rejected Israel from the outset (and still seek its outright destruction or a "right of return" intended to terminate a Jewish majority) and the Jews who have kept them at bay since May 14, 1948. In his words: "There has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history…. It's easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks." Calling the Israeli-Arab conflict a "stalemate" represents an abysmal failure to acknowledge historical reality. The modern state of Israel emerged after an internationally approved partition plan of November 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab; this plan was accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs. One people has always been prepared to live in peace, and the other has chosen war in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, and renewed terrorism after its every loss.


Bereft of the most basic understanding of Judaism and Jewish history, Obama claimed that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied," for "around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries." A Jewish homeland in Israel is not rooted in tragedy or in centuries of persecution around the world. It is rooted in a wondrous, unbroken, and spiritual relationship to the land of Israel and to Jerusalem for thousands of years. Coupled with the president's stress on "European responsibility" for the Holocaust, his words reinforced the lethal belief that Israel is the creature of transplanted, alien Jews.


Obama's stunning offense to Israel and the Jewish people went farther. Israelis have come to occupy territory in response to Arab-initiated wars of intended annihilation, but Obama analogized Palestinian "daily humiliations …that come with occupation" to the "humiliation of segregation" of black slaves in America and the "moral authority" of "people from South Africa." His Arab audience understood that the president of the United States had just given a nod to the single most potent defamation of the Jewish state today — the allegation that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.


After expressing his belief in a moral equivalence between the claims of Palestinians and the claims of the victims of slavery and apartheid, Obama juxtaposed his admission of Israel's "right to exist" with his assertion that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Every word of this speech was carefully weighed. It was therefore no mishap that for the first time a U.S. president has denied the legitimacy of Israeli settlements, period. Such an assertion abrogates every agreement between Arabs and Israelis, which have always left the ultimate determination of which settlements will stay or go to a bilateral peace process and final status negotiations. Even the Roadmap reads: "Phase III: Permanent Status Agreement and End of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict …a final, permanent status resolution …on borders, Jerusalem, refugees, settlements."


Furthermore, the idea that Jews are not permitted to live in any territory that might become part of a future Palestinian state means only one thing: apartheid Palestine. Twenty percent of Israel's population,1.5 million people, are Arab (with more democratic rights than in any Arab state). But the notion of any Jewish presence in Palestinian territory is allegedly an abomination. Why should a future transfer of governmental authority mean "no Jews allowed"?


But judging by Obama's speech, only one "dislocation" counts. After placing the Holocaust side-by-side with the Palestinian "pain of dislocation," he ignored the dislocation of 800,000 Jewish refugees from all over the Arab Middle East in response to the creation of Israel.


Jewish refugees from Arab intolerance were not the only human-rights casualties the president chose to dismiss. Three different times Obama defended the right of Muslim women to cover up their bodies. Never once did he mention the right of Muslim women to refuse to cover up their bodies — a right denied on pain of arrest and death by many of the very communities he was addressing. In the name of "freedom of religion" he chose to "welcome efforts like Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's interfaith dialogue." The Saudi Arabian government criminalizes the public practice of any religion but Islam. This manufactured human-rights fantasy has done a tremendous disservice to the oppressed across the Arab and Muslim world.


President Obama's meticulously planned and executed Egyptian speech marks the lowest point in the U.S. presidency's understanding and appreciation of the Jewish state, its history, and its people's future. Added to his administration's evident infirmity on Iran, the speech of June 4, 2009, by the supposed leader of the free world will be remembered as a major decline in human history.

 

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Your town is next (?) - The destiny of Europe !

 

 

Life and death : The West and Muslims.

Jews are guilty "because as a people, they are synonymous with liberty and the veneration of life on earth." For "Islamists—as for leftist believers," who personify "the impulse to destroy and perish…such a disposition is tantamount to a declaration of war." We have, in essence, betrayed our own civilizing imperative of which Judaism, along with classical Greece, is the fount and origin.

 

Moreover, in the west we have the fear factor. Jews do not issue fatwas, attend violent protests, scream obscenities and threats, outfit suicide bombers, hijack airliners, kidnap foreigners, launch terrorist raids and blow up buildings. This obviously puts them at a distinct disadvantage with the Western media, political classes and large segments of the general public who cringe before the menace of Muslim reprisals for perceived offences. Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 13028 deadly Terror Attacks since 9/11.

 

Is this the future of Europe ?  Is it already too late ?  Just open :

 

http://vodpod.com/watch/1428923-sweden-in-grip-of-islam

 

An Open Letter to President Obama.

 

by Brigitte Gabriel

 Dear Mr. President,

You face difficult challenges in matters such as achieving peace in the Middle East and protecting America from the threat of radical Islam and terrorism. These are challenges that have vexed past presidents, going as far back as our second president, John Adams. I have no doubt you appreciate both the gravity of these challenges and the enormous obstacles that exist to solving them.

I also have no doubt that you and your staff understood that, no matter what you said in your speech last Thursday in Cairo, there would be those who would take issue with you. That is always the case when attempting to solve problems that are as deep and emotionally-laden as these challenges are.

I am assuming it is your sincere hope that the approach you have chosen to take, as evidenced by what I’m sure was a carefully crafted speech, will ultimately prove successful. However, it pains me to say this sir, but, while you said in your speech that you are a “student of history,” it is abundantly clear that, in these matters, you do not know history and thus, as Santayana noted, you are doomed to repeat it. In doing so your efforts, however well-intentioned they may be, will not produce what you profess to hope they will produce.

A wise man once said that if you start with the wrong assumptions, no matter how logical your reasoning is, you will end up with the wrong conclusion. With all due respect Mr. President, you are starting with certain assumptions that are unsupported by history and an objective study of the ideology of political Islam.

You began in your speech by asserting that “tensions” exist between the United States and Muslims around the world, which, of course, is correct. Unfortunately, you then proceeded, incorrectly, to lay virtually all the blame for these tensions at the feet of America and the West. You blamed western colonialism, the Cold War, and even modernity and globalism.

A student of American history, who is not trying to reconstruct it to fit a modern politically correct narrative, would state that tensions between America and Muslims began with the unprovoked, four-decades long assault by the Muslim Barbary pirates against American shipping in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. I find it telling that you mentioned the Treaty of Tripoli in your speech but ignored the circumstances that led to it. That treaty was but one of numerous attempts by the United States to achieve peace with the jihadists of the Barbary Coast who were attacking our shipping and killing and enslaving our citizens and our soldiers – and who by their own admission were doing so to fulfill the call to jihad.

These jihadists were not acting to protest American foreign policy, which was decidedly isolationist, and there was no state of Israel to scapegoat. They were doing what countless Islamic jihadists have done throughout history – acting upon the hundreds of passages in the Qur’an and the Hadith that call upon faithful Muslims to kill, conquer or subjugate the infidel.

A student of world history would know that, for all the acknowledged evils of Western colonialism, these evils pale in comparison to the nearly 14 centuries of Islamic colonialism that began in Arabia under the leadership of Mohammed. The student of history would know that Islamic forces eradicated all Jewish and Christian presence from Arabia after Mohammed’s death, and then succeeded in conquering all of North Africa, most of the Middle East, much of Asia Minor, and significant portions of Europe and India – eventually creating an empire larger than Rome’s was at its peak.

The number of dead and enslaved during these many centuries of Islamic imperial conquest and colonialism have been estimated to total more than 300 million. What’s more, the wealth of many of the conquered nations and cultures was plundered by the Islamic conquerors, and millions of millions of non-Muslims who did survive were forced to pay onerous taxes, such as the “jizya,” a humiliation tax to the Islamic caliphs. Indeed, in some areas Christians and Jews were made to wear a receipt for the jizya around their neck as a mark of their dishonor.

These facts have not been invented by Christian or Jewish historical revisionists, but were chronicled by Muslim eyewitnesses throughout the past 14 centuries and are available to be researched by any person seeking an objective understanding of how Islam spread throughout the world.

You say in your speech that we must squarely face the tensions that exist between America and the Muslim world. That is a laudable notion with which I agree, but by casting Islam as the historical victim and the West (and by implication, America) as the aggressor, you do not face these tensions squarely, but alleviate the Muslim world from coming to grips with the jihadist ideology embedded in its holy books and acted upon for 1,400 years.

Even worse, you empower and embolden militant Islamists who regard your gestures as signs of weakness and capitulation.

The issue is not that all Muslims are terrorists or radicals or extremists. We all know that the majority of Muslims are not. We also know that many peace-loving Muslims are victims of Islamist violence.

The issue is this: what drives hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide to call for the death of Jews?

What drives millions of Muslims to riot, destroy property, and take innocent lives in reaction to the Danish cartoons?

What drives tens of thousands of Muslims to demand the execution of a British teacher whose only “crime” was allowing her students to name their teddy bears “Mohammed”?

What drives countless Muslims worldwide to actively participate in, or fund, or provide nurture to, terrorist organizations?

What drives Muslims in mosques in America to proclaim and distribute materials that call for hatred of and the destruction of infidels?

What drives entire Islamic countries to prohibit the building of a Christian church or synagogue?

To assume, as you apparently do, that what drives these actions is not an ideology embedded in the holy books of Islam, but rather other “root causes,” most of which you lay at the feet of America and the West, is at best naïve and at worst dangerous.

Lastly, I must address your statement that “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance.” Unfortunately, the examples you gave are the exception rather than the rule.

Historically speaking, I seriously doubt the Egyptian Copts, the Lebanese Maronites, the Christians in Bethlehem, the Assyrians, the Hindus, the Jews, and many others who have been persecuted by Islamic violence and supremacism, would agree with your assertion.

For instance, Christians and Jews became “Dhimmis,” a second class group under Islam. Dhimmis were forced to wear distinctive clothing; it was Baghdad’s Caliph Al-Mutawakkil, in the ninth century, who designated a yellow badge for Jews under Islam, which Hitler copied and duplicated in Nazi Germany nearly a thousand years later.

I witnessed first-hand the “tolerance” of Islam when Islamists ravaged my country of birth, Lebanon, in the 1970’s, leaving widespread death and destruction in their wake. I saw how they re-paid the tolerance that Lebanese Christians extended toward them. My experience is not an isolated one. When you make an unfounded assertion about the “proud tradition” of tolerance in Islam, you do a great disservice to the hundreds of millions of non-Muslims who have been killed, maimed, enslaved, conquered, subjugated or displaced – in the cause of Islamic jihad.

Mr. President, those of us like me who are ringing the alarm in America about the threat of radical Islam would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. Most Americans would like nothing better than to peacefully co-exist with the Muslim world. The obstacle to achieving this does not lie with us in America and the West. It lies with the hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, including many of their spiritual leaders, who take seriously the repeated calls to jihad in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Who regard “infidels” as inferior and worthy of conquering, subjugating and forcibly converting. Who support “cultural jihad” as a means to subvert non-Muslim societies from within. Who take seriously the admonitions throughout the Qur’an and the Hadith to convert the world to Islam – by force if necessary – and bring it under the rule of Allah.

Unless you are willing to courageously and honestly accept this, your aspirations for worldwide comity and peace in the Middle East are doomed to fail.

Sincerely,

 

Brigitte Gabriel

 

Brigitte Gabriel is the New York Times bestselling author of They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It.

 

Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam? Part I

 

by Raymond Ibrahim

1st part of 2

"There is far more violence in the Bible than in the Qur'an; the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam."[1] So announces former nun and self-professed "freelance monotheist," Karen Armstrong. This quote sums up the single most influential argument currently serving to deflect the accusation that Islam is inherently violent and intolerant: All monotheistic religions, proponents of such an argument say, and not just Islam, have their fair share of violent and intolerant scriptures, as well as bloody histories. Thus, whenever Islam's sacred scriptures—the Qur'an first, followed by the reports on the words and deeds of Muhammad (the Hadith)—are highlighted as demonstrative of the religion's innate bellicosity, the immediate rejoinder is that other scriptures, specifically those of Judeo-Christianity, are as riddled with violent passages.

More often than not, this argument puts an end to any discussion regarding whether violence and intolerance are unique to Islam. Instead, the default answer becomes that it is not Islam per se but rather Muslim grievance and frustration—ever exacerbated by economic, political, and social factors—that lead to violence. That this view comports perfectly with the secular West's "materialistic" epistemology makes it all the more unquestioned.

Therefore, before condemning the Qur'an and the historical words and deeds of Islam's prophet Muhammad for inciting violence and intolerance, Jews are counseled to consider the historical atrocities committed by their Hebrew forefathers as recorded in their own scriptures; Christians are advised to consider the brutal cycle of violence their forbears have committed in the name of their faith against both non-Christians and fellow Christians. In other words, Jews and Christians are reminded that those who live in glass houses should not be hurling stones.

But is that really the case? Is the analogy with other scriptures legitimate? Does Hebrew violence in the ancient era, and Christian violence in the medieval era, compare to or explain away the tenacity of Muslim violence in the modern era?

 

Violence in Jewish and Christian History

Along with Armstrong, any number of prominent writers, historians, and theologians have championed this "relativist" view. For instance, John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, wonders,

How come we keep on asking the same question, [about violence in Islam,] and don't ask the same question about Christianity and Judaism? Jews and Christians have engaged in acts of violence. All of us have the transcendent and the dark side. … We have our own theology of hate. In mainstream Christianity and Judaism, we tend to be intolerant; we adhere to an exclusivist theology, of us versus them.[2]

An article by Pennsylvania State University humanities professor Philip Jenkins, "Dark Passages," delineates this position most fully. It aspires to show that the Bible is more violent than the Qur'an:

[I]n terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. In fact, the Bible overflows with "texts of terror," to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery. … If the founding text shapes the whole religion, then Judaism and Christianity deserve the utmost condemnation as religions of savagery.[3]

Several anecdotes from the Bible as well as from Judeo-Christian history illustrate Jenkins' point, but two in particular—one supposedly representative of Judaism, the other of Christianity—are regularly mentioned and therefore deserve closer examination.

The military conquest of the land of Canaan by the Hebrews in about 1200 B.C.E. is often characterized as "genocide" and has all but become emblematic of biblical violence and intolerance. God told Moses:

But of the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive, but you shall utterly destroy them—the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite—just as the Lord your God has commanded you, lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, and you sin against the Lord your God.[4]

So Joshua [Moses' successor] conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord, God of Israel had commanded.[5]

As for Christianity, since it is impossible to find New Testament verses inciting violence, those who espouse the view that Christianity is as violent as Islam rely on historical events such as the Crusader wars waged by European Christians between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The Crusades were in fact violent and led to atrocities by the modern world's standards under the banner of the cross and in the name of Christianity. After breaching the walls of Jerusalem in 1099, for example, the Crusaders reportedly slaughtered almost every inhabitant of the Holy City. According to the medieval chronicle, the Gesta Danorum, "the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles."[6]

In light of the above, as Armstrong, Esposito, Jenkins, and others argue, why should Jews and Christians point to the Qur'an as evidence of Islam's violence while ignoring their own scriptures and history?

 

Bible versus Qur'an

The answer lies in the fact that such observations confuse history and theology by conflating the temporal actions of men with what are understood to be the immutable words of God. The fundamental error is that Judeo-Christian history—which is violent—is being conflated with Islamic theology—which commands violence. Of course, the three major monotheistic religions have all had their share of violence and intolerance towards the "other." Whether this violence is ordained by God or whether warlike men merely wished it thus is the key question.

Old Testament violence is an interesting case in point. God clearly ordered the Hebrews to annihilate the Canaanites and surrounding peoples. Such violence is therefore an expression of God's will, for good or ill. Regardless, all the historic violence committed by the Hebrews and recorded in the Old Testament is just that—history. It happened; God commanded it. But it revolved around a specific time and place and was directed against a specific people. At no time did such violence go on to become standardized or codified into Jewish law. In short, biblical accounts of violence are descriptive, not prescriptive.

This is where Islamic violence is unique. Though similar to the violence of the Old Testament—commanded by God and manifested in history—certain aspects of Islamic violence and intolerance have become standardized in Islamic law and apply at all times. Thus, while the violence found in the Qur'an has a historical context, its ultimate significance is theological. Consider the following Qur'anic verses, better known as the "sword-verses":

Then, when the sacred months are drawn away, slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way.[7]

Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day, and do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden – such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book – until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled.[8]

As with Old Testament verses where God commanded the Hebrews to attack and slay their neighbors, the sword-verses also have a historical context. God first issued these commandments after the Muslims under Muhammad's leadership had grown sufficiently strong to invade their Christian and pagan neighbors. But unlike the bellicose verses and anecdotes of the Old Testament, the sword-verses became fundamental to Islam's subsequent relationship to both the "people of the book" (i.e., Jews and Christians) and the "pagans" (i.e., Hindus, Buddhists, animists, etc.) and, in fact, set off the Islamic conquests, which changed the face of the world forever. Based on Qur'an 9:5, for instance, Islamic law mandates that pagans and polytheists must either convert to Islam or be killed; simultaneously, Qur'an 9:29 is the primary source of Islam's well-known discriminatory practices against conquered Christians and Jews living under Islamic suzerainty.

In fact, based on the sword-verses as well as countless other Qur'anic verses and oral traditions attributed to Muhammad, Islam's learned officials, sheikhs, muftis, and imams throughout the ages have all reached consensus—binding on the entire Muslim community—that Islam is to be at perpetual war with the non-Muslim world until the former subsumes the latter. Indeed, it is widely held by Muslim scholars that since the sword-verses are among the final revelations on the topic of Islam's relationship to non-Muslims, that they alone have abrogated some 200 of the Qur'an's earlier and more tolerant verses, such as "no compulsion is there in religion."[9] Famous Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) admired in the West for his "progressive" insights, also puts to rest the notion that jihad is defensive warfare:

In the Muslim community, the holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force ... The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense ... They are merely required to establish their religion among their own people. That is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority [e.g., a caliphate]. Their only concern was to establish their religion [not spread it to the nations] … But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.[10]

Modern authorities agree. The Encyclopaedia of Islam's entry for "jihad" by Emile Tyan states that the "spread of Islam by arms is a religious duty upon Muslims in general … Jihad must continue to be done until the whole world is under the rule of Islam … Islam must completely be made over before the doctrine of jihad [warfare to spread Islam] can be eliminated." Iraqi jurist Majid Khaduri (1909-2007), after defining jihad as warfare, writes that "jihad … is regarded by all jurists, with almost no exception, as a collective obligation of the whole Muslim community."[11] And, of course, Muslim legal manuals written in Arabic are even more explicit.[12]

 

Qur'anic Language

When the Qur'an's violent verses are juxtaposed with their Old Testament counterparts, they are especially distinct for using language that transcends time and space, inciting believers to attack and slay nonbelievers today no less than yesterday. God commanded the Hebrews to kill Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—all specific peoples rooted to a specific time and place. At no time did God give an open-ended command for the Hebrews, and by extension their Jewish descendants, to fight and kill gentiles. On the other hand, though Islam's original enemies were, like Judaism's, historical (e.g., Christian Byzantines and Zoroastrian Persians), the Qur'an rarely singles them out by their proper names. Instead, Muslims were (and are) commanded to fight the people of the book—"until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled"[13] and to "slay the idolaters wherever you find them."[14]

The two Arabic conjunctions "until" (hata) and "wherever" (haythu) demonstrate the perpetual and ubiquitous nature of these commandments: There are still "people of the book" who have yet to be "utterly humbled" (especially in the Americas, Europe, and Israel) and "pagans" to be slain "wherever" one looks (especially Asia and sub-Saharan Africa). In fact, the salient feature of almost all of the violent commandments in Islamic scriptures is their open-ended and generic nature: "Fight them [non-Muslims] until there is no persecution and the religion is God's entirely. [Emphasis added.]"[15] Also, in a well-attested tradition that appears in the hadith collections, Muhammad proclaims:

I have been commanded to wage war against mankind until they testify that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God; and that they establish prostration prayer, and pay the alms-tax [i.e., convert to Islam]. If they do so, their blood and property are protected. [Emphasis added.][16]

This linguistic aspect is crucial to understanding scriptural exegeses regarding violence. Again, it bears repeating that neither Jewish nor Christian scriptures—the Old and New Testaments, respectively—employ such perpetual, open-ended commandments. Despite all this, Jenkins laments that

Commands to kill, to commit ethnic cleansing, to institutionalize segregation, to hate and fear other races and religions … all are in the Bible, and occur with a far greater frequency than in the Qur'an. At every stage, we can argue what the passages in question mean, and certainly whether they should have any relevance for later ages. But the fact remains that the words are there, and their inclusion in the scripture means that they are, literally, canonized, no less than in the Muslim scripture.[17]

One wonders what Jenkins has in mind by the word "canonized." If by canonized he means that such verses are considered part of the canon of Judeo-Christian scripture, he is absolutely correct; conversely, if by canonized he means or is trying to connote that these verses have been implemented in the Judeo-Christian Weltanschauung, he is absolutely wrong.

Yet one need not rely on purely exegetical and philological arguments; both history and current events give the lie to Jenkins's relativism. Whereas first-century Christianity spread via the blood of martyrs, first-century Islam spread through violent conquest and bloodshed. Indeed, from day one to the present—whenever it could—Islam spread through conquest, as evinced by the fact that the majority of what is now known as the Islamic world, or dar al-Islam, was conquered by the sword of Islam. This is a historic fact, attested to by the most authoritative Islamic historians. Even the Arabian peninsula, the "home" of Islam, was subdued by great force and bloodshed, as evidenced by the Ridda wars following Muhammad's death when tens of thousands of Arabs were put to the sword by the first caliph Abu Bakr for abandoning Islam.

Raymond Ibrahim

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Are Judaism and Christianity as Violent as Islam? Part 2

                                                                                                       

by Raymond Ibrahim

 

2nd part of 2

 

Muhammad's Role

Moreover, concerning the current default position which purports to explain away Islamic violence—that the latter is a product of Muslim frustration vis-à-vis political or economic oppression—one must ask: What about all the oppressed Christians and Jews, not to mention Hindus and Buddhists, of the world today? Where is their religiously-garbed violence? The fact remains: Even though the Islamic world has the lion's share of dramatic headlines—of violence, terrorism, suicide-attacks, decapitations—it is certainly not the only region in the world suffering under both internal and external pressures.

For instance, even though practically all of sub-Saharan Africa is currently riddled with political corruption, oppression and poverty, when it comes to violence, terrorism, and sheer chaos, Somalia—which also happens to be the only sub-Saharan country that is entirely Muslim—leads the pack. Moreover, those most responsible for Somali violence and the enforcement of intolerant, draconian, legal measures—the members of the jihadi group Al-Shabab (the youth)—articulate and justify all their actions through an Islamist paradigm.

In Sudan, too, a jihadi-genocide against the Christian and polytheistic peoples is currently being waged by Khartoum's Islamist government and has left nearly a million "infidels" and "apostates" dead. That the Organization of Islamic Conference has come to the defense of Sudanese president Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court, is further telling of the Islamic body's approval of violence toward both non-Muslims and those deemed not Muslim enough.

Latin American and non-Muslim Asian countries also have their fair share of oppressive, authoritarian regimes, poverty, and all the rest that the Muslim world suffers. Yet, unlike the near daily headlines emanating from the Islamic world, there are no records of practicing Christians, Buddhists, or Hindus crashing explosives-laden vehicles into the buildings of oppressive (e.g., Cuban or Chinese communist) regimes, all the while waving their scriptures in hand and screaming, "Jesus [or Buddha or Vishnu] is great!" Why?

There is one final aspect that is often overlooked—either from ignorance or disingenuousness—by those who insist that violence and intolerance is equivalent across the board for all religions. Aside from the divine words of the Qur'an, Muhammad's pattern of behavior—his sunna or "example"—is an extremely important source of legislation in Islam. Muslims are exhorted to emulate Muhammad in all walks of life: "You have had a good example in God's Messenger."[18] And Muhammad's pattern of conduct toward non-Muslims is quite explicit.

Sarcastically arguing against the concept of moderate Islam, for example, terrorist Osama bin Laden, who enjoys half the Arab-Islamic world's support per an Al-Jazeera poll,[19] portrays the Prophet's sunna thusly:

"Moderation" is demonstrated by our prophet who did not remain more than three months in Medina without raiding or sending a raiding party into the lands of the infidels to beat down their strongholds and seize their possessions, their lives, and their women.[20]

In fact, based on both the Qur'an and Muhammad's sunna, pillaging and plundering infidels, enslaving their children, and placing their women in concubinage is well founded.[21] And the concept of sunna—which is what 90 percent of the billion-plus Muslims, the Sunnis, are named after—essentially asserts that anything performed or approved by Muhammad, humanity's most perfect example, is applicable for Muslims today no less than yesterday. This, of course, does not mean that Muslims in mass live only to plunder and rape.

But it does mean that persons naturally inclined to such activities, and who also happen to be Muslim, can—and do—quite easily justify their actions by referring to the "Sunna of the Prophet"—the way Al-Qaeda, for example, justified its attacks on 9/11 where innocents including women and children were killed: Muhammad authorized his followers to use catapults during their siege of the town of Ta'if in 630 C.E.—townspeople had refused to submit—though he was aware that women and children were sheltered there. Also, when asked if it was permissible to launch night raids or set fire to the fortifications of the infidels if women and children were among them, the Prophet is said to have responded, "They [women and children] are from among them [infidels]."[22]

 

 

Jewish and Christian Ways

Though law-centric and possibly legalistic, Judaism has no such equivalent to the Sunna; the words and deeds of the patriarchs, though described in the Old Testament, never went on to prescribe Jewish law. Neither Abraham's "white-lies," nor Jacob's perfidy, nor Moses' short-fuse, nor David's adultery, nor Solomon's philandering ever went on to instruct Jews or Christians. They were understood as historical acts perpetrated by fallible men who were more often than not punished by God for their less than ideal behavior.

As for Christianity, much of the Old Testament law was abrogated or fulfilled—depending on one's perspective—by Jesus. "Eye for an eye" gave way to "turn the other cheek." Totally loving God and one's neighbor became supreme law.[23] Furthermore, Jesus' sunnaas in "What would Jesus do?"—is characterized by passivity and altruism. The New Testament contains absolutely no exhortations to violence.

Still, there are those who attempt to portray Jesus as having a similarly militant ethos as Muhammad by quoting the verse where the former—who "spoke to the multitudes in parables and without a parable spoke not"[24]—said, "I come not to bring peace but a sword."[25] But based on the context of this statement, it is clear that Jesus was not commanding violence against non-Christians but rather predicting that strife will exist between Christians and their environment—a prediction that was only too true as early Christians, far from taking up the sword, passively perished by the sword in martyrdom as too often they still do in the Muslim world. [26]

Others point to the violence predicted in the Book of Revelation while, again, failing to discern that the entire account is descriptive—not to mention clearly symbolic—and thus hardly prescriptive for Christians. At any rate, how can one conscionably compare this handful of New Testament verses that metaphorically mention the word "sword" to the literally hundreds of Qur'anic injunctions and statements by Muhammad that clearly command Muslims to take up a very real sword against non-Muslims?

Undeterred, Jenkins bemoans the fact that, in the New Testament, Jews "plan to stone Jesus, they plot to kill him; in turn, Jesus calls them liars, children of the Devil."[27] It still remains to be seen if being called "children of the Devil" is more offensive than being referred to as the descendents of apes and pigs—the Qur'an's appellation for Jews.[28] Name calling aside, however, what matters here is that, whereas the New Testament does not command Christians to treat Jews as "children of the Devil," based on the Qur'an, primarily 9:29, Islamic law obligates Muslims to subjugate Jews, indeed, all non-Muslims.

Does this mean that no self-professed Christian can be anti-Semitic? Of course not. But it does mean that Christian anti-Semites are living oxymorons—for the simple reason that textually and theologically, Christianity, far from teaching hatred or animosity, unambiguously stresses love and forgiveness. Whether or not all Christians follow such mandates is hardly the point; just as whether or not all Muslims uphold the obligation of jihad is hardly the point. The only question is, what do the religions command?

John Esposito is therefore right to assert that "Jews and Christians have engaged in acts of violence." He is wrong, however, to add, "We [Christians] have our own theology of hate." Nothing in the New Testament teaches hate—certainly nothing to compare with Qur'anic injunctions such as: "We [Muslims] disbelieve in you [non-Muslims], and between us and you enmity has shown itself, and hatred for ever until you believe in God alone."[29]

 

Reassessing the Crusades

And it is from here that one can best appreciate the historic Crusades—events that have been thoroughly distorted by Islam's many influential apologists. Karen Armstrong, for instance, has practically made a career for herself by misrepresenting the Crusades, writing, for example, that "the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam."[30] That a former nun rabidly condemns the Crusades vis-à-vis anything Islam has done makes her critique all the more marketable. Statements such as this ignore the fact that from the beginnings of Islam, more than 400 years before the Crusades, Christians have noted that Islam was spread by the sword.[31] Indeed, authoritative Muslim historians writing centuries before the Crusades, such as Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri (d. 892) and Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari (838-923), make it clear that Islam was spread by the sword.

The fact remains: The Crusades were a counterattack on Islam—not an unprovoked assault as Armstrong and other revisionist historians portray. Eminent historian Bernard Lewis puts it well,

Even the Christian crusade, often compared with the Muslim jihad, was itself a delayed and limited response to the jihad and in part also an imitation. But unlike the jihad, it was concerned primarily with the defense or reconquest of threatened or lost Christian territory. It was, with few exceptions, limited to the successful wars for the recovery of southwest Europe, and the unsuccessful wars to recover the Holy Land and to halt the Ottoman advance in the Balkans. The Muslim jihad, in contrast, was perceived as unlimited, as a religious obligation that would continue until all the world had either adopted the Muslim faith or submitted to Muslim rule. … The object of jihad is to bring the whole world under Islamic law.[32]

Moreover, Muslim invasions and atrocities against Christians were on the rise in the decades before the launch of the Crusades in 1096. The Fatimid caliph Abu 'Ali Mansur Tariqu'l-Hakim (r. 996-1021) desecrated and destroyed a number of important churches—such as the Church of St. Mark in Egypt and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem—and decreed even more oppressive than usual decrees against Christians and Jews. Then, in 1071, the Seljuk Turks crushed the Byzantines in the pivotal battle of Manzikert and, in effect, conquered a major chunk of Byzantine Anatolia presaging the way for the eventual capture of Constantinople centuries later.

It was against this backdrop that Pope Urban II (r. 1088-1099) called for the Crusades:

From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians [i.e., Muslim Turks] … has invaded the lands of those Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of its own religion.[33]

Even though Urban II's description is historically accurate, the fact remains: However one interprets these wars—as offensive or defensive, just or unjust—it is evident that they were not based on the example of Jesus, who exhorted his followers to "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you."[34] Indeed, it took centuries of theological debate, from Augustine to Aquinas, to rationalize defensive war—articulated as "just war." Thus, it would seem that if anyone, it is the Crusaders—not the jihadists—who have been less than faithful to their scriptures (from a literal standpoint); or put conversely, it is the jihadists—not the Crusaders—who have faithfully fulfilled their scriptures (also from a literal stand point). Moreover, like the violent accounts of the Old Testament, the Crusades are historic in nature and not manifestations of any deeper scriptural truths.

In fact, far from suggesting anything intrinsic to Christianity, the Crusades ironically better help explain Islam. For what the Crusades demonstrated once and for all is that irrespective of religious teachings—indeed, in the case of these so-called Christian Crusades, despite them—man is often predisposed to violence. But this begs the question: If this is how Christians behaved—who are commanded to love, bless, and do good to their enemies who hate, curse, and persecute them—how much more can be expected of Muslims who, while sharing the same violent tendencies, are further commanded by the Deity to attack, kill, and plunder nonbelievers?

Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum and author of The Al Qaeda Reader (New York: Doubleday, 2007).

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

[1] Andrea Bistrich, "Discovering the common grounds of world religions," interview with Karen Armstrong, Share International, Sept. 2007, pp. 19-22.
[2] C-SPAN2, June 5, 2004.
[3] Philip Jenkins, "Dark Passages," The Boston Globe, Mar. 8, 2009.
[4] Deut. 20:16-18.
[5] Josh. 10:40.
[6] "The Fall of Jerusalem," Gesta Danorum, accessed Apr. 2, 2009.
[7] Qur. 9:5. All translations of Qur'anic verses are drawn from A.J. Arberry, ed. The Koran Interpreted: A Translation (New York: Touchstone, 1996).
[8] Qur. 9:29.
[9] Qur. 2:256.
[10] Ibn Khaldun, The Muqudimmah: An Introduction to History, Franz Rosenthal, trans. (New York: Pantheon, 1958,) vol. 1, p. 473.
[11] Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), p. 60.
[12]
See, for instance, Ahmed Mahmud Karima, Al-Jihad fi'l-Islam: Dirasa Fiqhiya Muqarina (Cairo: Al-Azhar University, 2003).
[13] Qur. 9:29.
[14] Qur. 9:5.
[15] Qur. 8:39.
[16] Ibn al-Hajjaj Muslim, Sahih Muslim, C9B1N31; Muhammad Ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (Lahore: Kazi, 1979), B2N24.
[17] Jenkins, "Dark_Passages."
[18] Qur. 33:21.
[19] "Al-Jazeera-Poll: 49% of Muslims Support Osama bin Laden," Sept. 7-10, 2006, accessed Apr. 2, 2009.
[20] 'Abd al-Rahim 'Ali, Hilf al Irhab (Cairo: Markaz al-Mahrusa li 'n-Nashr wa 'l-Khidamat as-Sahafiya wa 'l-Ma'lumat, 2004).
[21] For example, Qur. 4:24, 4:92, 8:69, 24:33, 33:50.
[22] Sahih Muslim, B19N4321; for English translation, see Raymond Ibrahim, The Al Qaeda Reader (New York: Doubleday, 2007), p. 140.
[23] Matt. 22:38-40.
[24] Matt. 13:34.
[25] Matt. 10:34.
[26] See, for instance, "Christian Persecution Info," Christian Persecution Magazine, accessed Apr. 2, 2009.
[27] Jenkins, "Dark_Passages."
[28] Qur. 2:62-65, 5:59-60, 7:166.
[29] Qur. 60:4.
[30] Bistrich, "Discovering the common grounds of world religions," pp. 19-22; For a critique of Karen Armstrong's work, see "Karen Armstrong," in Andrew Holt, ed. Crusades-Encyclopedia, Apr. 2005, accessed Apr. 6, 2009.
[31] See, for example, the writings of Sophrinius, Jerusalem's patriarch during the Muslim conquest of the Holy City, just years after the death of Muhammad, or the chronicles of Theophane the Confessor.
[32] Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2000 Years (New York: Scribner, 1995), p. 233-4.
[33] "Speech of Urban—Robert of Rheims," in Edward Peters, ed., The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and Other Source Materials (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), p. 27.
[34] Matt. 5:44.

 

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