I have always imagined that Paradise would be a kind of library.
Jorge Luis Borges

So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Saint John, Letter to Galatians 4:16

Freedom of Religion - Freedom from Religion - Freedom of Public Display of Religion and Traditions

We establish no religion in this country, nor will we ever. We command no worship. We mandate no belief. But we poison our society when we remove its theological underpinnings. We court corruption when we leave it bereft of belief. All are free to believe or not believe; all are free to practice a faith or not. But those who believe must be free to speak of and act on their belief.
Ronald Reagan (Temple Hillel Speech, 1984)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Islam: Religion of Peace?

There have been those who object using the phrase of two words to describe the terrorists – Islamic fascists. Whether this is a PC [i] thing or whatever, there is good reason to use those two words to describe the fundamentalists whose interpretation of the Qur'an, their celebration of Shari’a law, and their revelation of Hitler because of his hatred of the Jewish people and it is correctly descriptive. The big book seller in Palestine is Mein Kampf, (Qur'an being #1 bestseller) was the favorite reading of the deceased Yasser Arafat. A terrorist organizer turned head-of-state and who was given a Nobel Peace Prize!
During World War II, the Grand Mufti, Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini recruited Muslims from all over the world to fight with the Nazis. However, there are those who deny this, despite surmountable evidence. If association is indicative of just what type of person Arafat was, look at the photo above.

Mufti reviewing Nazi Muslims
On November 28, 1941 the former Mufti was officially received by Hitler, who agreed to establish a bureau for al-Husseini which was used to spread propaganda on behalf of Nazi Germany, organize spy rings in Europe and the Middle East, and most importantly, establish Muslim Nazi SS divisions and Wehrmacht units in Bosnia, the BalkansNorth Africa and Nazi-occupied parts of the Soviet Union. After the meeting, the Mufti was also named SS gruppenfuehrer by Heinrich Himmler and referred to as the “Fuehrer of the Arab World” by Hitler himself. Joseph Schectman in The Mufti and the Fuhrer :
The Mufti also made a particular strong effort to recruit Soviet Muslims. It was largely due to Haj Amin’s propaganda that on the arrival of German armies in the northern Caucus in 1942, five indigene tribes – the Chechens, the Ingushes, the Balkars, the Karachais, and the Karbardines – welcomed them with bread and salt. The Mufti’s hatred of the West was matched only by his hatred of the Jews. It is not a coincidence that Germany suddenly abandoned the policy of expelling Jews and adopted harsher methods for a short time after the Mufti arrived in Germany. When Haj Amin came to Germany again, the Nazi decided to execute the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.
Palestinian Militia Salute - Familiar?
All of this shows an early history of problems in the Middle East and it also reinforces the point that American foreign policy has not “caused” the Islamic fascist problem as some insist upon in their efforts to take an anti-war stance. [Read: Nazi Roots of Palestinian Nationalism by David Storobin]
Further history is revealed by Adrian Morgan in his article Who is the True Godfather of Islamic Foundation? Dated July 30th, 2007, published by FSM [Family Security Matters, Family Security Foundation] …
Analysts and commentators on Islamism often point to two individuals as the “godfathers of Islamism” – Sayyid Qutb and Syyid Abdul Ala Maududi. It is true that the writings of these two men have been influential upon senior figures in the Islamist and Al Qaeda movements.
… The offshoots of 
Jamaat-e-Islami in 
Pakistan and Bangladesh have enacted severe persecutions of the Ahmadiyyah. As a result of pressure from J-e-l in Pakistan, any Ahmadiyyah member who preaches can be jailed for three years under the Islamist blasphemy laws. Maududi’s writings were to influence Sayyid Qutb.
… The other global fundamentalist Islamic movement, spread from 
Saudi Arabia, is Wahabbism (1703-1792), … named after its founder, Muhammed Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a scholar who preached an austere form of Islam. T… Only one of his books, Kitab al-Tawhid (the Book of Monotheism) remains.
…to understand the essence of Islamism, the “revolutionary” words of 20
th century radicals such as Maududi and Qutb are only reworkings of ideas already formulated by Ibn Taymiyyah in the early 14th century. To understand the ideology behind the methodology of modern Islamism, the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah are compulsory reading.
Mounds of evidence surmounts to make a clear situation in America, as well as Europe – like the Mexican invasion, there is an Islamic invasion. This is not to say that there are not good naturalized citizens that are Moslem, for example from Turkey and Iraq, but what is termed as the terrorist cell – it is firmly implanted within our society. Muslims have already established themselves beyond society in the UK, and here in America there was elected in 2006 the first Muslim congressman whose ties to anti-American establishments in America has been discovered and his rhetoric of Shari’a law and not standing against Islamic fascism presents a clear and present danger from within.
I do not want to see what happened to Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor occur with Moslems in America, which was totally unacceptable and was against the American way of non-persecution of an ethic or religious group. 
The Japanese internment camps were created out of the fact that there were Japanese spies in Hawaii that made the Pearl Harbor attack so successful. But there and on the mainland, specifically California, there were Japanese Americans who were angry over the surprise attack on December 7th, 1941 and had no qualms about going to war against their own people in defense of their new homeland. But there were also those who had family ties in Japan, and because of the spy network discovered at Pearl Harbor, distrust was inevitable. However, I do want to see Islamic fascists expelled from America and traitors given a traitor's trial and punishment - whoever they are or whatever ethnic or religious affiliations.
However, the Islamic fascists are taking advantage of our American tradition of freedom of religion and the Bill of Rights, which can be plainly be seen in established institutions like CAIR and even the ACLU, in which the latter will cry out about rights and liberties but openly and unashamedly constantly are against Christians as a religious entity. And then there are the organizations within America whose financial ties have been discovered.
FSM’s Investigative Project on Terrorism staff writes in the article Trial Exposes Close Financial Ties of Holy Land Foundation and Hamas Leader …
FBI Agent Laura Burns’ testimony continued Wednesday [August 1st ] as prosecutors introduced bank records to expose close financial ties between the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and HAMAS leader Musa Abu Marzook, … as well as the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), United Association for Studies and Research (USAR), and Infocom – all U.S. based – who acted on behalf of HAMAS. Payments by Marzook to HLF started in 1988 and ended in 1992, a year when Marzook transferred two $100,000 payments to HLF within ten days. Agent Burns testified before the jury that during this time, Marzook was not employed.
Lead prosecutor Jim Jacks introduced evidence showing that Marzook also transferred over one million dollars to USAR, IAP and Infocom, as well as tens of thousands to the defendants 
Mohammad El MezainShukri Abu Baker, and Ghassen Elashi during this same period.
HLF itself also paid almost $250,000 to IAP between 1989 and 2001, and over $400,000 to Infocom between 1990 and 2001.
… While HAMAS was not officially designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government until 1995, prosecutors are seeking to establish the longstanding ties between HLF, HAMAS, and its organs in the Middle East and inside the U.S.

And, in conclusion, there is the argument whether or not the Qur'an incites violence or rather promotes it against those who are not Muslims. It seems that it is mostly over interpretation in most respects, much like the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, has been interpreted in certain ways. War and destruction of Israel’s enemies is reflected in the Old Testament, but it is mostly just an historical entry and does not promote violence except in small passages like “an eye for an eye” scenario, such as Numbers 35:19The revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him or Ezekiel 25:15Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because the Philistines have dealt by revenge, and have taken vengeance with a despiteful heart, to destroy it for the old hatred; or Nahum 1:2God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
Does the Koran [ii] Incite Violence? By Dr. Mark Durie [iii], FSM, August 3rd, 2007:
The world witnessed a flood of reaction to Benedict XVI’s Regensburg lecture, a reaction that went well beyond words, with attacks on churches in Gaza, the West Bank and Basra. Some even called the Pope to be executed.
Cardinal George Pell weighed into the debate, suggesting that violent responses to the Pope’s September 12 lecture demonstrate the link “for the Islamists” between religion and violence.
On the other hand, no less a figure than the 
Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, issued a statement on the official Saudi news service, defending Muslims’ divine right to resort to violence: “The spread of Islam has gone through several phases, secret and then public, in Mecca and Medina. God then authorized the faithful to defend themselves and to fight against those fighting them, which amounts to a right legitimized by God. This … is quite reasonable, and God will not hate it.”
Saudi Arabia’s most senior cleric also explained that war was never Islam’s ancient founder, 
the prophet Mohammed’s, first choice: “He gave three options: either accept Islam, or surrender and pay tax, and they will be allowed to remain in their land, observing their religion under the protection of Muslims.” Thus, according to the Grand Mufti, the third option (the sword) was only a last resort, if the non-Muslims refused to convert or surrender peacefully to the armies of Islam.
Sheikh Abdel went on to urge people to read the Koran 
[sic] and Sunnah (the record of Mohammed’s teaching and example) for themselves, pointing out that the Koran has been translated into many of the world’s languages: “Those who read the Koran and the Sunnah can understand the facts.”
On this at least the Archbishop of Sydney and the Saudi Grand Mufti do agree, for in an address earlier this year, Pell also urged people to read the Koran. So what are these facts contained in the Koran and Sunnah that the Grand Mufti would have us read?
As it happens, reading the Koran is not without its difficulties. There is, for a start, the thorny problem of context. The Koran gives little help with this: it does not mark off specific passages one from another and its 114 chapters (
suras) are not laid out in chronological order.
The keys to unlocking the context for individual passages of the Koran can be found in the life of Mohammed, the Sunnah. The sources for the Sunnah are the traditions (
hadiths), of which Sunnis recognize six canonical collections, and biographies of Mohammed (sira literature). Although the volume of this material is considerable, it now largely available in English translation, much of it on the Internet.
In addition to the inherent difficulty of the sources, many secular Westerners rely on certain crippling preconceptions. One is the often-heard mantra that “all religions are the same”. Another is the claim that “anyone can justify violence from any religious text.”
[iv] This idea stretches back at least to Rousseau, who considered any and all forms of religion to be pernicious. …
There is another obstacle, and that is Western culture’s own sense of guilt and suspicion of what it regards as 
Christian hypocrisy. Any attempt to critique some of Islam’s teachings is likely to be met with loud and vociferous denunciations of the church’s moral failings, such as its appalling track record of anti-Semitism.[v] And did I mention the crusades?
Finally, the reality is that Muslims adhere to widely varying beliefs and practices. Most people understandably afraid to come to their own conclusions about violent passages in the Koran, lest they find themselves demonizing Muslims. …
It is self-evident that some Koranic verses encourage violence. Consider for example a verse which implies that fighting is “good for you”: “Fighting is prescribed upon you, and you dislike it. But it may happen that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not.” (2:216)
On the other hand, it is equally clear that there are peaceful verses as well: “Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (16:125)
Resolving apparently contradictory messages presents one of the central interpretive challenges of the Koran. Muslims do not agree today on how best to address this. For this reason alone it could be regarded as unreasonable to claim that any one interpretation of the Koran is the correct one.
Nevertheless, a consensus developed very early in the history of Islam about this problem. This method relies on a theory of stages in the development of Mohammed’s prophetic career. It also appeals to a doctrine known as abrogation, which states that verses revealed later can cancel out or qualify verses revealed earlier.
The classical approach to violence in the Koran was neatly summed up in an essay on jihad in the Koran by Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Hamid, former chief justice of Saudi Arabia: “So at first ‘the fighting’ was forbidden, then it was permitted and after that it was made obligatory: (1) against those who start ‘the fighting against you (Muslims) … (2) And against all those who worship others along with Allah.”
At the beginning, in 
Mohammed’s Meccan period, when he was weaker and his followers few, passages of the Koran encouraged peaceful relations and avoidance of conflict: “Many of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) wish that they could turn you away as disbelievers … But forgive and overlook, till Allah brings his command.” (2:109).
Later, after persecution and emigration to 
Medina in the first year of the Islamic calendar, authority was given to engage in warfare for defensive purposes only: “Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for God does not love transgressors.” (2:190)
As the Muslim community grew stronger, and conflict with its neighbors did not abate, further revelations expanded the license for waging war, until in Sura 9, regarded as one of the last chapters to be revealed, it is concluded that war against non-Muslims could be waged more or less at any time and in any place to extend the dominance of Islam.
Sura 9 distinguished idolaters, who were to be fought until they converted – “When the sacred months are past, kill the 
idolaters wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every place of and seize them, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every place of ambush” (9:5, the ‘verse of the sword”) – from “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews), who were to be given a further option of surrendering and living under Islamic rule while keeping their religion: “Fight … the People of the Book until they pay the poll tax out of hand, having been humbled.” (9:29)
The following excerpt from 
Ibn Kathir, whose commentary is one of the most widely used by Muslims in the West today, illustrates how the doctrine of abrogation can be applied to reconcile the Koran’s verses: “But forgive and overlook (2:109) … was abrogated by the verse kill the idolaters … (9:5), and Fight … [the People of the Book] (9:29). Allah’s pardon for the disbelievers was repealed … It was abrogated by the verse of the sword. The verse till Allah brings His command gives further support for this view … the Messenger of Allah and his Companions used to forgive the disbelievers and the People of the Book, just as Allah commanded … until Allah allowed fighting them. Then Allah destroyed those who he decreed to be killed …”
The resulting doctrine of war has been elaborated by numerous Muslim scholars, including the great medieval philosopher Ibn Khaldun, who like the Saudi Arabian Grand Mufti, adhere to the ‘three option’ theory: “To discuss or argue … with them is not up to us. It is for them to choose between conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death.” (
The Muqaddimah)
All this explains Sheikh Abdel Aziz’s response to the Pope’s speech. …
Today most Muslims acknowledge the religious legitimacy of “defensive jihad” – including the Palestinian struggle – but many appear to reject the idea of offensive, expansionist jihad. Most would emphasize the defensive aspects of Mohammed’s numerous military campaigns, claiming that his attacks on others were only to pre-empt future aggression against Muslims.
[vi] It is also often asserted that Mohammed’s military exploits were context-specific responses to the unique situations he encountered in his lifetime, and not binding on later generations of Muslims.
However the idea of purely defensive jihad is hard to reconcile with the phenomenal military expansion of Islam in its first 100 years. For centuries the validity of the doctrine of expansionist jihad just seemed self-evident to Muslim scholars, as it was validated by the military victories it had delivered across the greater part of the Christian world, as well as 
Zoroastrian Persia and Hindu India.
In the present day, although Islam has lost its military dominance, it has not yet come to a consensus about how Muslims should conduct themselves under non-Muslim rule. There is no consensus that a just war should not be conceived in sacralized terms as a jihad.
There is no consensus that the earlier, more peaceful verses of the Koran take priority over the later, more violent ones. There is no consensus that the old program of military expansion should not be resumed if and when it becomes practical to do so. There is no consensus that non-Muslims should be allowed to discuss the Koran and the life of Mohammed without becoming the target of intimidation, and subjected to accusations of ignorance, incompetence or racism.
The Muslim world is incredibly diverse and such a consensus may never be developed. Nevertheless it must be attempted. The important work to achieve this consensus is under way, but it remains to be completed, and any debate that can hasten the development of a less sacralized approach to the use of force within Islam deserves everyone’s whole-hearted support.
This is one of the best summations concerning the problems with violent Muslims and their leadership that has become known as Islamic fascists/fundamentalists. Dr. Durie has performed his research well and has described the historical aspect of Islam in a truthful and fair manner.

[i] PC (politically correct) prescribes are hypocritical. For example, it is okay to
[ii] Correct spelling is “Qu’ran”. [not Koran]
[iii] Rev. Dr. Mark Durie is the Vicar of St. Mary’s Caulfield, and a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. A fuller version of this article appeared in the “Weekend Australia” on September 23, 2006.
[iv] Christians who follow the New Testament portion of the Bible receive their doctrine from the founder, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, who promoted peace, turning the cheek and allowing God to deliver vengeance and not humans against each other.
[v] Which is odd – Jesus of NazarethChristianity’s founder, was a Jew and followed the traditions and doctrines like the Passover; as well as the fact that before Jesus the Christ’s death and resurrection, his teachings were primarily aimed at Jews – not Gentiles (non-Jews), and it wasn’t until after the disciples went out into the “world” that Christianity spread to non-Jews. Therefore, one can say that it was Jews who began the Christian religion, and offshoot of the Jewish religion and that the history, poetry, genealogy, et cetera contained in the Old Testament of the Jews is within the Christian Bible.
[vi] As depicted in the Old Testament when Israel was formed as a nation by uniting the tribes of Israel under one ruler and under the umbrella of the Temple of Jerusalem in later times.

No comments: