Robert Spencer’s 10 Points of Obfuscation

Robert Spencer’s 10 Points of Obfuscation

by Sheila Musaji


Why is it that Islamophobes continue to come up with “tests” that American Muslims must pass in order to be considered moderate, or for that matter to be considered real Americans.  Daniel Pipes has a test and I’m proud to say, that I like Hamza Yusuf would fail.  Pipes also claims that American Muslims are not moderate because ”- By a ratio of 67 to 33, Muslims in the United States think “America is immoral.” - About (the graph does not allow complete precision) 90 percent of Muslims favor universal health care. - Fully 79 percent favor affirmative action for minorities. - Asked about the job being done as president by George W. Bush, 85 percent of Muslims disapprove and a mere 4 percent approve.”  This doesn’t sound too different than the opinion of most Americans no matter what religious background.  David Horowitz has a petition for Muslim students to sign to prove their “moderation” as part of his recent “Islamo Fascism Awareness Week” whose four key principals any Muslim could agree with, but which would require any Muslim signing the petition to agree with the mischaracterization of terrorists and extremists as “Islamo Fascists” thus blaming the religion of Islam for their criminal acts.  But Hugh Fitzgerald’s suggestion that “Sheila Musaji needs to read Ali Sina, Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan. They were all born into Islam. They were all raised in Muslim milieus. They have all testified as to what Muslims say in front of Infidels, and what they say when they think they are among only fellow Muslims.”  really shows up what they are after - the bottom line for these folks is that in order to be a “good Muslim” or a “moderate Muslim” you must be an ex-Muslim.   If that is what it takes to be a “moderate” then count me out.

Now Robert Spencer comes up with his own ten question test which he asks me personally to reply to, and to which I will respond only because the voices of the Islamophobes are getting a wide audience in the United States at the moment, and when they are not countered it gives their readers the impression that it is because their arguments have some merit.  I will respond, but have no real hope that the response will be seriously considered.  At least it is out there for history to judge, and for any whose minds are not closed by blind hatred to at least consider. 

In the article with the “test” Spencer said:  “Musaji responds by offering a blizzard of links purporting to demonstrate that she and many other Muslims have done just that, and that I am willfully ignoring them in order to demonize Muslims. And not only that, but there’s the inevitable tu quoque: “I don’t see any articles by Robert Spencer condemning violence and terrorism carried out by Christians.”  I submit that not all uses of tu quoque arguments involve logical fallacy. They can be properly used to bring about awareness of inconsistency, to indirectly repeal a criticism by narrowing its scope or challenging its criteria, or to call into question the credibility of a source of knowledge.  (Wikipedia)  Tu quoque is only a fallacy when one uses it so as to divert attention from the issue at hand, or to avoid or fail to respond to an argument that non-fallaciously gave one the burden of proof.  By accusing me of using a tu quoque argument Spencer is suggesting that I am arguing that an action is acceptable because your opponent has performed it.  I have never made such an argument.  What I assert is that if an action is wrong, it is wrong no matter who commits the action, and it is inconsistent to label the action as wrong only when it was carried out by a Muslim.  If an individual expects Muslims to condemn violence and terrorism for example, then that individual should also be expected to condemn all acts of violence and terrorism otherwise they are displaying a double standard in identifying one act as particular to a religion, and not another, or of identifying one act as terrorism and another as a justifiable response.

“Terrorism we must fight, and we must fight with determination and vigor. But for the fight to be effective, it must be carried according to fair rules, and must aim at the real target. An effective war on terrorism requires two elements. First, we must have a clear understanding of the sources of the anger and frustration that lies at the roots of global terrorism, and a clear definition of what constitutes a terrorist act. Second, we must have a clear vision of a global society based on the universal principles of equal freedom and mutual respect. A war on terrorism that employ moral themes but advance the narrow interests of a privileged few can bring more evil than good, as it is likely to result in harming innocent bystanders.” Louay Safi

My best guess is that Spencer will play more word games and use such inanities as Muslims are lying (using taqiyyah) when they state their position, or all Muslims believe that the gates of ijtihad are closed, or that all Muslims agree that some verses are abrogated (theory of naskh).  In the past he has even criticized Muslim scholars who have attempted to clarify that a particular understanding of an issue is not Islamic by insisting that their position is not the “genuine” Islamic position.  I am not a scholar, just an ordinary American Muslim, so I certainly cannot expect to fare better. 

Unlike either the Muslim extremists or the Islamophobes, most Muslims are no longer living in the middle ages, are participating in much more sophisticated discussions about their religion,  and have been extremely frustrated by the attempts of both Muslim and non-Muslim demagogues to portay their religion in a guise that is totally unrecognisable. They are both doing a systematic hatchet job on Islam to reduce it to a pocket book of slogans that presents a misanthropic view of the rest of the world. This is not the Islam I believe in and practice with devotion. There is nothing that can be done about Islamophobes except to pray for them and to attempt to forgive them as the Qur’an advises:

“We ordained in the Torah a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, and an ear for a ear, and a tooth for a tooth, and a similar retribution for wounds, but he who shall forego it out of charity will atone thereby for some of his past sins.” (Qur’an 5:45)

As for Muslim extremists who have taken hadith and Qur’anic verses out of their historical and moral contexts to promote a totally distorted version of Islam. The extremists need to be exposed, ostracized and ‘excommunicated’ from the community, and where they present an imminent threat to society tried convicted and treated with uncompromising ‘Islamic justice’.

I would rather take a stand with those like Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf”... Given the current global flash points and critical mutual interests between the Muslim world and the West, Muslims in America have no greater cause now than to contribute to multi-disciplinary, inter-religious dialogues which strive to usher America into that era predicted by the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, a time “when nations shall beat their swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks, when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall learn war any more.”

Personally, I can think of a few questions that might be worth spending time worrying about and pursuing answers to:  1)  Working to have all countries sign on to the International Bill of Rights? We were a part of its development, and it is recognized the world over—it is the most translated document in the world. America currently fails to respect many of these basic tenants—for example the part that outlaws torture for any and all human beings.  I would hope that all Americans would work to see that this document is honored.  2)  Working to see that we survive as a species? In the next 40 years almost all the world’s wild seafood will be extinct, currently 1 out of 4 mammal species are teetering on the brink of extinction (see this months “Science”), a large percentage of frogs are going out, and yet our population is still increasing. (What about attempting to get our country which is the only developed country that has not ratified the Kyoto Protocals although it is one of the significant greenhouse gas emitters?)  3)  Working to oppose all forms of terrrorism against civilians including land mines and WMD’s?  4) Working to defend and reclaim our rights enshrined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, including Habeas Corpus?  5)  Working to fix the problems with our education system so that we will be able to continue to compete in the global marketplace.  6) Working towards dialogue between the religions and between nations and doing everything in our power to avoid a clash of civilizations.  I can think of many more urgent matters that all people of faith could work on cooperatively and that might actually do some good for America and for the world.  I would like to see tests that make such issues a standard for whether or not someone is pro human beings.

 

““O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. [150] Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort [the truth], behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do!” (Qur’an 4:135)

 

“And do not overlay the truth with falsehood, and do not knowingly suppress the truth.” (Qur’an 2:42)

RESPONSES TO THE SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

1. Acknowledge the existence of and repudiate the traditional Islamic imperative, taught by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence that Muslims recognize as orthodox, to impose Islamic law upon non-Muslims, whether by force or by stealth.

I’m not a scholar so I won’t get into historical discussions by various schools of thought regarding their interpretations.  I can only say that as an American Muslim I believe that the Constitution and its protections of religious freedom, separation between church/synagogue/mosque/temple and state is the best system of government for a multi-cultural society that has been developed anywhere.  I don’t want to see Islamic law or any religious law imposed on anyone anywhere against their will.  As an American, this country is my first priority and for that reason I would oppose anyone who wished to impose their particular religious belief on others.  That includes not wanting my children to be taught creationism in school as science.  I would hope that all Americans of all faith groups would take this stand in defense of our Constitution against those from any religion who wish to impose their religion on others, for example: 

Tom Delay, former House Majority Leader: “America was created by God to spread the Gospel; to spread the word of Jesus Christ and to propagate Christianity” (Source)

Oklahoma state legislator Sally Kern:  “I am not saying everyone has to be Christian; this is not a homogenous nation . . . What you have to be is someone who believes in a Judeo-Christian ethic, in other words, in knowing there’s a right and wrong. Not all lifestyles are equal; not all religions are equal . . . My Lord made it very clear to me that I’m a cultural warrior for Judeo-Christian values.” (Source)

John Ashcroft at Bob Jones University:

“Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And we have understood that our source is eternal, America is different. We have no king but Jesus.”

Rev. D. James Kennedy:

“Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost,” Kennedy says. “As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors—in short, over every aspect and institution of human society.”

(Source)

Mike Huckabee:

“I didn’t get into politics because I thought government had a better answer. I got into politics because I knew government didn’t have the real answers, that the real answers lie in accepting Jesus Christ into our lives. […] I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.”

Rev. Joseph Morecraft, Chalcedon Presbyterian Church:

“Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody’s pseudo-right to worship an idol.”

In a speech “Biblical Role of Civil Government” given 8/31/93 at Biblical Worldview and Christian Education Conference. 

Operation Save America (Christian group):

“In this day of religious pluralism where all “gods” are to be tolerated, we Christians are called to draw a line in the sand. We must stand upon the fact that Jesus Christ alone is God and apart from Him there is no other. This is the reason we are placing the enclosed brochure in your hands. If we love our neighbors lost in the lie of Islam, we must love them enough to tell them the truth. If we love our brothers and sisters who claim the Name of Christ, we must love them enough to tell them that Islam and Christianity cannot peacefully coexist. They are at war (Genesis 3:15).”

(Source)

Family Research Council:

“[W]hile it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, that liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country’s heritage. Our Founders expected that Christianity—and no other religion—would receive support from the government as long as that support did not violate peoples’ consciences and their right to worship.”

Gary North:

“So let us be blunt about it: We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will be get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

  “The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right” in Christianity and Civilization: The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), p. 25.

Source for all of these quotes.

“Surely those who believe (in Islam) and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians (followers of John the Baptist), whoever believes in God and the last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.” (2:62 & 5:69).  And furthermore, “Yes! Whoever submits himself entirely to God and he is the doer of good (to others) he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him, nor shall he grieve.” (Qur’an 2: 112)”.

 

“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.” (Qur’an 2:256)

2. Renounce any intention, now or in the future, to replace the U.S. Constitution with Islamic law.

I do not want to live under any theocracy.  I am an American and will defend the Constitution from anyone belonging to any religion who wishes to undermine or replace the Constitution with any other system at any time.  That would include all of the following:

Mike Huckabee in a speech in Michigan:

“But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do, to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards.”

Is the Constitution really based on biblical principles? By his own statement above it does not appear that Huckabee believes so. Is it possible for Huckabee to be considered a “good American” since he can not seem to accept or reconcile the Constitution as it is written with his interpretation of the Bible?

Gary North wants to deny citizenship to non-Christians.  He said:

“The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control over the franchise. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the eternal sanctions of God by submitting to His Church’s public marks of the covenant—baptism and holy communion—must be denied citizenship, just as they were in ancient Israel.”

Gary North, Political Polytheism: The Myth of Pluralism (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989, p. 87.)

Bill Gray, Legal Advisor to Gov. James of Alabama, in defense of his grilling applicants for state government positions on their religious practices

“Clearly our nation was founded for a particular purpose and that purpose was, among other things, the propagation of the Gospel of Christ.”

Robert T. Lee (Society for the Practical Establishment of the Ten Commandments):

“Raising your children under Americanism or any other principles other than true Christianity is child abuse.” “You do not have the right to be wrong, regardless of what any man-made or demonic charter says.” “Democracy originated in the mind of a rational being who has the deepest hatred for God.” “Do you realize that the only thing that gives democracy existence is sin? The absence of democracy is perfect obedience to god.” “The best way to insure the earth is never over populated is for sensible and righteous governments to clear all forms of atheism and heresy.”

Rev. Pat Robertson:

“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. What do you mean? the media challenged me. ‘You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, Yes, they are.”

The New World Order, (Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas) 1991, p. 218.  (This defies the Constitution of the U.S. which says that there will be no religious test for public office.)

Rev. Pat Robertson:

“The Constitution of the United States, for instance, is a marvelous document for self-government by the Christian people. But the minute you turn the document into the hands of non-Christian people and atheistic people they can use it to destroy the very foundation of our society. And that’s what’s been happening.”

Jay Grimstead, who leads the Coalition on Revival, which brings Reconstructionists together with more mainstream evangelicals, has said,

“‘I don’t call myself [a Reconstructionist],’ but ‘A lot of us are coming to realize that the Bible is God’s standard of morality . . . in all points of history . . . and for all societies, Christian and non-Christian alike. . . . It so happens that Rushdoony, Bahnsen, and North understood that sooner.’ He added, ‘There are a lot of us floating around in Christian leadership James Kennedy is one of them-who don’t go all the way with the theonomy thing, but who want to rebuild America based on the Bible.’”

(Source)


(Source for all of these quotes)

3. Clarify, and call upon other Muslims in America to clarify, what is meant by the words “terrorism” and innocent” in Muslim condemnations of terrorism, so that it is clear that what is being condemned is the murder of American and other non-combatants by Muslims acting in the name of Islamic jihad.

Muslim condemnations of terrorism go well beyond condemning acts of terrorism by Muslims against non-Muslims, they condemn all acts of terrorism against any civilians whether carried out by individuals, groups, or state agencies.  These condemnations include acts of torture, pre-emptive attacks on other countries, colonialism, covert assassinations of political leaders, and the use of WMD’s.  That it is possible to find some Muslims who hold a different view is tragic, but not surprising when we see that there are members of all faith groups who seem to have a sort of split personality when it comes to ethics and morality.  Read my article “Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism” for my views. 

Clarification of what constitutes terrorism is needed by governments and individuals worldwide.  Polls show that 6% of the American public thinks attacks in which civilians are targets are “completely justified.” In Saudi Arabia, this figure is 4%. In Lebanon and Iran, it’s 2%. (Source)

“O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one [19] lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.”  (Qur’an 5:8)

 

“For that reason, we ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul for other than murder or spreading corruption in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity… “(Qur’an 5:35)

 

“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged-and verily God has indeed the power to succor them-those who have been driven from their homelands against all right for no other reason than their saying, ‘Our Sustainer is God.’ For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, all monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques-in all of which God’ s name is abundantly extolled-would surely have been destroyed [before] now” (Qur’an 22: 39-40).

 

“. . . fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression-for, verily, God does not love aggressors. And slay them wherever you may come upon them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away-for oppression is even worse than killing” (Qur’an 2:190).

I would oppose any who believe that it is their right to impose their will on others through force including:

Rev. Rod Parsley:

“I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.”

Silent No More (Charisma House, 2005) As the Rev. Martin Marty has noted“Islam has no central authority. It is a family religion, a village religion, with millions of bases for a billion believers. Islam is not an institution or a dogma. When one calls for the destruction of Islam one has to mean the killing of all Muslims. Rather than accuse Parsley of calling for genocide, it is in place to ask him to spell out alternatives. Does “destroy” Islam mean winning a debate until every last targeted Muslim cries uncle and says, “I give up, you win”? He may mean that. Does the “destruction of Islam” mean the deconversion of a billion people and, preferably, conversion to Parsley’s “Christian civilization”? Try converting as many as one in your town, and then take on the millions more in Indonesia. Does “destroy” mean bombing the 1,209 mosques in America, which number includes only a few of the world-wide total? As of now, Parsley simply calls for “war.” By most definitions, doesn’t “war” mean “killing”?

Rev. Pat Robertson:

“It is interesting, that termites don’t build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into (our) institutions (today) are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have…. The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.”

New York Magazine, August 18, 1986

Ann Coulter:

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”

(Source for these quotes)

4. Repudiate the idea that Muslims have a divine mandate to force, when possible, Jews, Christians, and other “People of the Book” to pay a special religion-based tax from which Muslims are exempt (Qur’an 9:29).

This is a red herring.  There is no Caliphate and there has not been since the end of WWI.  There is no reason in the modern world under any existing forms of government for a separate tax on non-Muslims (jizya from which Muslims were exempt) or for a State enforced collection of a different tax from Muslims (zakat from which non-Muslims were exempt). 

As Dr. Robert Crane has pointed out:  “The phrase “until they [agree] to pay the exemption tax” (jizyah) occurs in the Qur’an only once, but has been explained in authentic traditions as referring to those who have been incorporated into the Muslim polity and therefore have the duties of citizens.  Every able-bodied Muslim has the religious obligation to take up arms in jihad as a just war in self-defense. Those who are not Muslims cannot be expected to assume a similar burden.  In order to compensate the Muslim community for this unequal distribution of civic burdens a special tax is levied on the ahl al dhimmah, the covenanted or protected people, whose safety is statutorily assured by the Muslim community.  The root jaza means to render something as compensation in lieu of something else.  This was lower than the tax that all Muslims had to pay, the zakah, as a religious duty, which varies from 2.5% to 20% of one’s wealth depending on the intensivity of technology used to produce wealth.  Owners of natural resources, such as oil, which are not produced by human labor, pay more than the person whose only source of wealth is ownership of one’s own body.  Due to the requirements of freedom of religion, this tax could not be levied on non-Muslims.  In other words, in modern terms, non-Muslims were exempt from the draft, but if they volunteered for the army they would avoid what Spencer calls the poll tax.”  “Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization,  part 3 

5. Call upon Muslims in America to institute comprehensive, honest, and transparent programs in mosques and Islamic schools, teaching the virtues of the non-establishment of religion, and teaching directly against Islamic supremacism and the idea that Muslims must fight against Jews and Christians until they “feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29).

I don’t know any American Muslims who are not staunch defenders of the separation of church and state (the non-establishment of religion).  I have heard many Friday sermons (khutbas) praising the non-establishment of religion and religious freedom in the United States.  And, in fact it is only evangelical Christians who I have heard making statements about breaking down this wall of separation.  (see the response to question 1 above).  All the American Muslims that I know, myself included would fight against anyone who wanted to destroy our Constitution by attempting to establish a state religion. 

Whatever is taught in religious schools or in any other schools comes under the laws of the United States.  If anyone is teaching anything that would encourage the overthrow of the government then they should be prosecuted under the law.

I am uncertain what you mean by Islamic supremacism - if it means that Muslims believe that they are following the true religion, then there is no problem, everyone of any faith believes that they are following the true religion. If you mean that Muslims believe they are superior to other people, then that is not something that I believe or have ever heard taught in any mosque.  If there are individuals who hold such a view they are simply bigots.

As for Qur’an 9:29 - it is only Islamophobes and Muslim extremists who hold the interpretation of this verse that you hold and who refuse to look at other verses of the Qur’an.

 

“Not all of them are alike: of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) are a portion that stand (for the right): They rehearse the Signs of God all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for God knows well those that do right.” (Quran, 3:113–115)

 

“… To each among you have we prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If God had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to God; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (Qur’an 5:48)

 

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (Not that you may despise each other). (Qur’an 49:13)

which is the verse that has always been displayed on the front page of The American Muslim site.  I would differ with anyone who holds a supremecist view of their religion or wishes to impose that view on others including the following:

Tom Delay House Majority Whip in a speech at a Texas, Baptist Church:

“Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive answer to the questions of ‘Where did I come from?’ ‘Why am I here?’ ‘Where am I going?’ ‘Does life have any meaningful purpose?’ - and “Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world—only Christianity.”

Rev. J. Don George, senior pastor of Calvary Temple in Irving, TX:

”Our faith is in Jesus Christ, and the Muslim community does not accept Jesus and God, and therefore we’re at odds with Muslims….Any religion or ideology that refuses to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ could be typified as a war against Satan.”

Rev. Pat Robertson:

“You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense! I dont have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist. I can love the people who hold false opinions, but I don’t have to be nice to them.”

Pat Buchanan:

“Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free.”

Speech to the Christian Coalition, September 1993.  (Source)

John McCain when asked whether the President of the United States should be Christian:

“Personally, I prefer someone who I know has a solid grounding in my faith [Christianity]. I feel that my faith is a better spiritual guide– better spiritual guidance.”

Ron Pisaturo in an article in Capitalism magazine,

“The rights of one American, whether a soldier or a civilian, are worth more than the lives of all men, women and children in all these nations combined. Over time, pioneers, with the paid support of our military, can go into these isolated territories, subdue the remaining savages, install a civilized, colonial government protecting the rights of both the pioneers and the savages, and settle the land—as American pioneers subdued the savage, murderous American Indian tribes and settled America.”

(Source for these supremecist quotes)

6. Call upon Muslims in America to institute comprehensive, honest, and transparent programs in mosques and Islamic schools, teaching against honor killing, and against the idea—which is enshrined in Islamic law—that a parent faces no penalty for killing his or her own child (see ‘Umdat al-Salik o1.1-2).

 

“For that reason, we ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul for other than murder or spreading corruption in the land, it is as if he has killed the whole of humanity…” (Qur’an 5:35)

I know of no Muslims who are teaching anything but condemnation of honor killing.  If there are any they should be prosecuted under the law for inciting to murder.  I have published articles against this abomination, and TAM has regularly published articles by scholars condemning this practice.  For example, Imam Zaid Shakir who gives the Islamic position on honor killings and then makes the following appeal to the Muslim community:

Practical steps include the following:

1. Emphasize that such killings have no sanction in the Qur’an, the Prophetic practice, or in Islamic law.
2. Declare anyone guilty of involvement in honor killings to be a cold-blooded murderer.
3. Encourage judicial authorities to enact the harshest penalties possible for anyone accused of involvement in such killings.
4. Educate our Muslim communities, especially in the West, about the un-Islamic nature of honor killings, and the pressures, nuances, challenges and complications facing young Muslims, male and female in the West.
5. Work to eliminate the double standards, and to expose the hypocrisy that exist in our communities, generally, concerning attitudes and standards relating to the indiscretions of males as opposed to females.

In conclusion, Islam honors the female, and values femininity. It is up to every Muslim to translate teachings in that regard into a beautiful reality that helps to elevate the status of women in all societies. Honor killings, domestic violence in general, murders of the type terrorizing women in Guatemala, female sexual slavery and trafficking, pornography, especially its more violent manifestations, are all crimes against humanity that we should oppose in the strongest terms and work strenuously to eliminate. If our women are not safe, physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically we are all at risk, for without women men are incomplete, and without men women are incomplete. Our Prophet, peace and blessings of God upon him alluded to this complementariness when he said, peace upon him, “Women are the complimenting halves of men.” Let us all work harder to make our societies whole.

“O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.”  (Qur’an 4:135)

7. Call upon Muslims worldwide, including in Saudi Arabia, to end all institutionalized discrimination against and harassment of non-Muslims, and to allow churches and other houses of worship to be built in majority-Muslim countries with an ease comparable to that with which mosques are currently built in Western countries.

I don’t believe that as an American citizen I have any influence on Saudi Arabia or other countries.  I can state my opinion, and have that all houses of worship should be allowed in all countries and should be shown respect.  I am a firm believer in democracy, and as the citizen of a democracy I can attempt to make my voice heard by my elected officials, Saudi Arabia is not a democracy it is an absolute monarchy (a system of government that is outdated to say the least) and attempting to influence a dictator, tyrant, or absolute monarch would have to be a matter for all the governments of the world and world public opinion to attempt.

8. Repudiate the idea that a Muslim who renounces Islam and adopts any other faith or no faith at all should be killed—as is the teaching of Muhammad and all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence—and call upon Muslim groups in America to teach the freedom of conscience as a God-given right in American mosques and Islamic schools.

I was one of the initiating signatories to the statement “On Apostasy and Islam:  100+ Notable Islamic Voices affirming the Freedom of Faith” and the front page of TAM has an appeal for others to sign on to this statement.  We have also published numerous articles by scholars and community leaders who have made the same appeal. 

9. Call upon Muslims in America and worldwide to drop the traditional and authoritative Islamic prohibition of marriage between non-Muslim men and Muslim women, and to repudiate and teach against the idea of divinely sanctioned wife-beating (Qur’an 4:34).

There are reasons for the prohibition of marriage between non-Muslim men and Muslim women (although marriages between Muslim men and non-Muslim women are allowed) and that is a matter for scholars to consider and issue fatwas about, and for individual Muslims to decide upon for themselves.  The question of interfaith marriages, whether or not they are approved or disapproved, what the restrictions are for these marriages to be accepted as valid by a particular religious group, are all questions that are raised by the scholars and theologians of all the monotheistic religions.  Catholics for example will allow them but only if the non-Catholic party signs an agreement that any children will be raised as Catholics. 

The translation and interpretation of Qur’an 4:34 has been very much controversial over the centuries.  Here is the verse in question with the Arabic words that are variously translated left untranslated:

“Men are the {qawwam} of women, because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are {qanitat}, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear {nushuz}, admonish them first, then refuse to share their beds, and finally {adriboo} them; but when they {ataa:} to you, then seek not against them means of annoyance: For Allah is Most High, great above you all. ” (Qur’an 4:34)

{qawwam}, an intensive form of {qaim}, meaning: ‘to take care of, to look after’. Therefore, does this verse say that men are superior to women? Not at all. It says: men must look after women. In Islam, men are obliged to financially provide for their wife and children. They have to pay for their housing, clothing, food, medicines, etc. That is what {qawwamoona} means: men must take care of women.

{qanitat}, which is a feminine plural of {qanit}, based on the root {q-n-t}. This word appears on many other occasions in the Holy Qur’an 2, where it is used exclusively in the sense of ‘submissive, obedient to Allah’. Verse 4:34 contains no reason at all to depart from this meaning and to change it into ‘obedience to a husband’. This verse is about pious women who, just like pious men, are obedient to Allah. And a wife (husband) who is obedient to God, must live up to her (his) marital duties.

{nushuz}, means ‘discord, hostiliy, dissonance’. In this context it could be interpreted as ‘marital problems’.

{adriboo}, from the root {d-r-b}, has several dozens of meanings, such as: ‘to beat’, but also: ‘to forsake, to avoid, to leave’.

(Source of Arabic translations)

As Dr. Robert Crane has pointed out in his 5 part article “Fascist-Islamophobia”: A Case Study in Totalitarian Demonization“It is perhaps excusable that Robert Spencer is not familiar with the research by Abdulhamid Abusulayman, “Marital Discord: Recapturing the Full Islamic Spirit of Human Dignity”, published by the International Institute of Islamic Thought and reaffirmed by the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America, Shaykh Taha Jabir al Alwani, which first identified seventeen different uses of the word daraba in the Qur’an.  Dr. Abusulayman observes that the general connotation of “daraba” in Qur’anic parlance is “to separate, distance, depart, and abandon.” He points out that the idiom “jalala” is used for lash, whip, flog as in corporal punishment in Surah al Nur 24:2.  The “beating” verse refers to separation as a last resort, and itself must be interpreted within the context of the Prophet’s teaching that, “the worst of all permissible things is divorce.”   (Dr. Abusulayman’s monograph as well as many others are available from the Peaceful Families site, one of the many Muslim organizations devoted to ending all forms of domestic abuse.)

Many Muslims have spoken out against the interpretation or translation of the word adroboo as to beat.  This word has been interpreted and translated in many different ways including to beat, but also to chastise or to leave or go away. I personally support Laleh Bakhtiar’s translation of this word as “to leave or go away”, and have published articles in TAM on this subject.  However, since I am not a scholar, I primarily make available the writings of scholars on this topic.

10. Condemn Hamas and Hizballah as terrorist organizations, and the Islamic Republic of Iran for its continuing the barbaric practice of stoning people to death. Call upon Muslim groups to teach against stoning as a punishment for adultery or anything else in American mosques and Islamic schools.

Nonsense.  You are mixing political issues with other issues.  My opinion of Hamas and Hizballah is a political opinion just as an Irish American’s opinion of the IRA (the military wing or the charitable wing) or a Jewish American’s opinions about Israeli settler groups, the Jewish Defense League or other groups is a political opinion.  I will and have condemned particular actions of these organizations, but to be required to make a blanket condemnation of an entire organization is to oversimplify the issues. 

As for Iran’s method of capital punishment, I am against capital punishment in any form whether it is stoning, the gas chamber, shooting, the guillotine, or lethal injection.  I stand with Tariq Ramadan who has appealed for a moratorium on capital (hudud) punishments. 

And, for the matter of teaching stoning as a punishment for adultery in American mosques and Islamic schools, I have never heard of such a thing being taught, and as an American it is not part of American law which is the law which all Americans follow. 

 

 


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