Note: Strict moderation of comments will continue to be employed in this issue. Any questions related to the content of this post should be posted on imam Zaid's blog directly. (Article Cross-Posted from imam Zaid's Blog)

Responding to the Fort Hood Tragedy

by imam Zaid Shakir

This is my response to the Fort Hood tragedy and events both associated with it and ensuing from it. I begin by expressing my deepest condolences to the families of all of the dead and wounded. There is no legitimate reason for their deaths, just as I firmly believe there is no legitimate reason for the deaths of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians who have perished as a result of those two conflicts. Even though I disagree with the continued prosecution of those wars, and even though I believe that the US war machine is the single greatest threat to world peace, I must commend the top military brass at Fort Hood, and President Obama for encouraging restraint and for refusing to attribute the crime allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Malik Hasan to Islam. We pray that God bless us to see peace and sanity prevail during these tense times.

Introduction

One of the greatest foundations of Islam is truth. One of the ninety-nine names of God is al-Haqq (the Truth) It is unfair to distort the truth, to present falsehood as fact, or to present half-truths as definitive declarations. Truth, along with Goodness and Beauty are the three great transcendental realities that Islam and all other religions strive to aid us towards both realizing and actualizing in our lives. In the Arabic/Islamic lexicon these are known as al-Haqq (the Truth), al-Ihsan (Goodness), and al-Jamaal (Beauty).

Concerning the truth, our Prophet, peace and blessings upon him, taught us to pray, Allahumma Arinal Haqqa Haqqan wa Zurqnat Tiba'ahu, “O God! Show us the truth as truth and bless us to follow it.” The Qur'an presents the truth as a powerful, self-evident reality that is distinguishable from falsehood without any need for extraneous clarification (2:256). The mere presence of the truth is enough to dispel the clouds of darkness and falsehood (17:81). Therefore, a great objective of our religion is discovering and then following the truth.

One of the unfortunate consequences of tragic and highly emotive events like the shootings that recently occurred at Fort Hood, Texas, is that such events are used to advance agendas that by their very nature make a mockery of the truth. This event is no exception. There are those who seek to use this event to portray the Muslim community in this country as an inherent menace whose very existence has to be challenged. Traveling the length and breath of this country in the service of that community, I know this is not the truth. The Muslim community in this country is a peace-loving, law-abiding community that has in ways great and small advanced the general welfare of this nation and its citizenry. To present it otherwise is a blatant lie.

Like any other community that has a fairly large percentage of immigrants among it members, the Muslim community does have those elements, especially older members or those newly arrived from the Muslim world whose strongest sentiments, emotional and cultural attachments may be towards the lands they have come from than to the country they find themselves in. This is true for many members of most immigrant populations. However, generally speaking, such attachments are not found among Muslims born and raised here, nor do they translate into animosity towards or a desire to do harm to this country.

Saying that is not to deny the existence of Muslims who may be agitated by the injustices and inequities they find in American foreign policy, or the increasingly prejudicial or even racist attitudes being advanced by some parties towards America's Muslims. Among them is a small minority whose anger and frustration may render them vulnerable to the appeal of demagogues who would attempt to exploit their emotions to advance a nefarious agenda, or a number of factors may converge in their lives pushing them towards acts of violence against their fellow citizens. This might prove to be the case for Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who has been identified as the shooter at Fort Hood, and a few other random individuals. However, it is not and never will be anything that can even begin to approach the norm in our community.

There are those who will argue that the problem is those random “few” Muslims who may snap at any time. That is certainly a problem. However, if the recent history of this country is any indication, those few have been less in number and responsible for far less carnage than the “few” from the non-Muslim population, the postal workers, high school or university students, or the random individuals who have snapped and gone on to wreak havoc in our society.One of the great tragedies in this situation is to view the crime Major Hasan is being accused of as a specifically Muslim problem. It is a human problem and if it approached as such perhaps we can learn something from it that will help us to get to the roots of the violent outbursts that are becoming increasingly widespread in our society.

We can debate the issue of violence at large in our society and we can debate the issue of “Muslims” violence. What is unequivocally true about the latter, to the extent that it does exist, is that attacks against the lives or property of American citizens in this country have nothing to do with Islam. There are no teachings from the normative corpus of Muslim political writings that allow a Muslim to violate the security of the public square, to endanger the lives of the general public, to attack non-combatant civilians, even in a battlefield situation, or to aggress against soldiers who are not in a battlefield. This is especially true where Muslims have entered into an explicit or implicit covenant of protection from non-Muslim political authorities and constitute a distinct minority in a particular land.

Much of the balance of this article will be dedicated to presenting Islamic teachings that substantiate what I have mentioned above concerning the duties of Muslims to protect the public square in a non-Muslim land they may find themselves in, and those teachings that warn against foolhardy, ill-conceived attacks that only bring harm and hardship to innocent, unsuspecting people, Muslims among them.

My argument is a direct refutation of Muslims who seek to distort Islamic teachings to motivate ignorant Muslims to undertake ill-advised and unsanctioned actions against the citizenry of this country. It also restates my position on this issue. [1]

No Room for Vigilante Treachery in the Divine Law

In his expansive work, al-Jihad wa'l Qital fi al-Siyasa al-Shar'iyya (Sanctioned Warfare and Fighting in the Divine Law) Muhammad Khayr Haykal mentions, concerning the implications accruing from an oath of protection: [2]

The cessation of hostilities that is mentioned here might be a consequence of an oath of protection given by non-Muslims to Muslims, or a consequence of an oath of protection given by Muslims to non-Muslims. In both cases, it obligates a cessation of hostilities against the members of the opposing community who might technically be at war with the Muslims. [This is so] whether the Muslims have granted the oath of protection or it has been granted to them. [3]

Haykal continues:

It is not permissible for Muslims who have been granted an oath of protection from members of other communities to launch into fighting them, because this is treachery. [4]

Two concepts are critical in what Haykal mentions here, one is the idea of treachery, and the other is the idea of reciprocity. Islam is predicated on honorable behavior. It is the height of dishonor to violate the trust that is extended to a person given the right to move about freely in a particular land based on the assumption that that person has accepted the responsibility to protect and preserve public order in that land and the lives and property of its people.

In his commentary on al-Mughni, one of the definitive compendiums of Islamic law according to the Hanbali rite, imam al-Maqdisi mentions in this regard, “If an oath of protection is given to a non-Muslim population, it is forbidden to fight them, usurp their wealth, or to expose them to any harm.” [5] imam al-Shafi'i clarifies that this includes Muslims who have entered into a non-Muslim land. He states, “If a group of Muslims enter the land of non-Muslims with an oath of protection, the others are safe from them […] they [the Muslims] have no right to oppress or betray them.” [6]

It should be clear that a Muslim is not allowed to transgress against non-Muslims as long as he or she resides in their lands under their protection. Any aggression from their quarter is unsanctioned treachery. If they feel they can no longer accept the perceived or real abuses or injustices of the host people then they are obliged to leave that land if remaining there would push them into acts of violence or aggression against the host community.

The idea of reciprocity is critical in this particular area of inquiry. All of our major legal texts discuss this idea. It is the idea that the responsibilities expected of non-Muslims minorities in Muslim lands are incumbent on Muslims in non-Muslim lands. Hence, just as it would be unacceptable for a non-Muslim residing in a Muslim land to attack the people of that land, civilian or military, it is unacceptable for a Muslim residing in a non-Muslim land to engage in similar acts. This is an undeniable principle in our law. Hence, respecting it is not a stratagem or a convenient contingency; it is upholding an inviolable principle.

It is also well-known amongst Muslim scholars that it is prohibited to undertake any acts that will result in widespread harm returning to Muslims. This is based on the prophetic Hadith, “There is no initiating or reciprocating harm.” [7] This Hadith has given rise to the legal maxim, “Harm is to be removed.” Hence, any action that is likely to result in widespread harm to Muslims is unsanctioned and necessarily removed.

In the current political climate in America where the demonizing of Muslims has evolved into an industry, where rules of civility and the rejection of any meaningful anti-defamation statutes allow for indiscriminate calls to murder Muslims on public airwaves; where Mosques and other Muslim organizations are infiltrated by agent provocateurs who are encouraging Muslims to engage in acts that could potentially unleash waves of anti-Muslim venom, it is clear to anyone with a modicum of intellect that attacks such as the one occurring at Fort Hood have no Islamic sanction, neither in principle nor from a tactical point of view.

Such attacks only give credence to those foul elements who desire to justify ongoing wars against Muslim populations. There are those in the Muslim world who think that by calling for such attacks they can draw America into deeper involvements in places such as Iraq or Afghanistan which will then become America's Vietnam. Little do they realize that there are fanatical elements in these western lands that use such attacks to argue for a full-blown assault on Muslim lands as opposed to the current limited engagement. Some of those calls are for nuclear attacks, and their advocates would not be bothered seeing the number of dead Iraqis resulting from our involvement in that country growing from the currently lamentable number of over one million to five or six million.

Little do those Muslims realize that they are encouraging elements that would bomb Afghan towns and villages with the same insane impunity that was visited upon places like Tokyo, Dresden, Hamburg of Berlin during World War II; for they are arguing that Islam, like fascism, poses an existentialist threat to America and western civilization. One of the things giving any credence to their perverse arguments and turning a hesitate public towards their camp are belligerent actions they hope can be attributed to Muslims. We should neither contribute to such actions in deed nor should we applaud them.

Ibn Juzayy mentions in Qawanin al-Ahkam al-Shar'iyya:

If the Muslims know that they will be slaughtered in wholesale fashion it is fitting that they abandon fighting. If they know that they will be slaughtered and that their losses will do little to alter the strategic balance vis-à-vis the enemy forces, it is absolutely obligatory that they abandon any encounter. [8]

Any Muslim who thinks that an unsanctioned act of violence he may undertake in this country is going to alter the strategic balance is grandly deluded or inexcusably ignorant. His undertaking any violent act in this country is additionally forbidden because he is likely going to be killed, gravely injured, or captured in the encounter. Imam al-Shawkani mentions in al-Sayl al-Jarrar, “It is well-known legal reasoning that one who strikes out [against an enemy] knowing beforehand that he will be killed, captured or vanquished, has hurled himself to destruction.” [9] imam al-Shawkani goes on to explain that such an act is forbidden based on the Qur'anic verse, Do not hurl yourself to destruction with your own hands. (2:195) [10] The discouragement of foolhardy acts of desperation based on this verse, is also made by Ibn 'Abideen in his commentary on al-Durr al-Mukhtar. [11]

There is another salient point that we must mention in this context. No one, even in a Muslim land, has the right to undertake violent acts, even against a recognized enemy when the political authorities of that land determine that those acts will incur harm to Muslims [or other innocent people]. Dr. Haykal elaborates on this point at length:

The lawful authorities in a land possess the right, and this right is similarly conferred by valid legislative principles, to absolutely prevent any method, or any organization whose very nature would result in consequences that would expose the Muslims to grave danger and harm. Therefore, when the legislative authorities perceive that something that may originally be permissible has consequences that involve any degree of harm, it is their responsibility to prevent that harm. Rather, it is incumbent on them to prevent it. This is accomplished by preventing individuals from arming themselves and preventing them from forming armed militias that are independent of the standing army. Indeed, the divine law has given the authorities a number of legislative principles to use in order to cut off any path where the winds of harm may blow from. [12]

If this is the case for a Muslim country, what is the permissibility for vigilante acts and underground militias in a non-Muslim land where Muslims are forbidden to threaten public order or to independently implement any Islamic teachings related to strategic affairs?

Finally, as implied above, Muslim leaders have the responsibility to protect the faithful from foolhardy acts that will lead to unnecessary lose of life, and to warn them again individuals who would lead them towards such acts. For this reason, 'Umar bin al-Khattab, warned against reckless commanders who would expose the faithful to unnecessary hardship. This led to him advising his governors, “Do not appoint al-Bara' ibn Malik over any Muslim army.” [13]

This warning was issued owing to al-Bara's known recklessness and his ill-consideration of the consequences of his actions for his troops. It is a shame that there are Muslims who have no connection with this country yet are recklessly and insensitively endorsing actions that endanger innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  They are not on the ground in this country and are therefore not attuned to the nature of the struggles and vulnerabilities of our community.

Conclusion

So what are the Muslims of this country to do in the aftermath of the tragedy at Fort Hood? We have to do the good things we were doing before it occurred. Indeed, we need to increase that good. Our civil rights can be assailed, we can be denied equal protection under the law, our lawful and law-abiding organizations can be closed down, but no one can take our dignity from us, no one can prevent us from being decent neighbors, honest workers, dedicated students, faithful citizens, and pious believers. Furthermore, no one can prevent us from engaging in a heroic struggle to secure our God-given and constitutionally-mandated rights, and from working for the creation of the kinds of policies that will prevent the current bloodletting that is occurring in some Muslim lands with the active complicity of our country's military and security apparatuses.

Certainly, the heightened levels of hate speech, the whispers of a coming backlash, and the elected officials who have gone on record promising to do nothing to mitigate such a backlash are all unsettling. However, if we preserve and remain ever mindful of the wise commandments that are available to guide our steps, we should rest assured that God will not abandon us. He states in the Qur'an, You will surely be tested in your property and your persons. And you will hear from [some of] those given the Scripture before you, and from the idolaters much abuse. If you patiently persevere, and remain mindful of God, surely this is a manifestation of prophetic resolution. (3:186)

So brothers and sisters, at this time when very powerful and well-financed interests are rallying against us; at this time when we can entertain no real hope of meaningful support from any Muslim country, we have to redouble our dependence on God; we have to live for Him and seek our strength through him. Whoever remains mindful of Allah, He makes for him a way out, He bestows His sustenance upon him from directions he could never imagine, and one who places his trust in God finds that He suffices him… (65:2-3) This is the way of the Prophets, peace upon them. Let it be our way.

Imam Zaid Shakir 11/11/09

Notes:

[1] My position on a number of controversial issues has been stated at length, among other places in my book, Scattered Pictures: Reflections of an American Muslim, published in 2005 by the Zaytuna Institute, and a 4-CD set entitled, Looking Back to Look Ahead, produced by Zaytuna Institute in 2006.
[2] In the modern context, such an oath of protection may result from the acceptance of citizenship, residency permits, visas issued for tourism, study or work, and other well-known means.
[3] Muhammad Khayr Haykal, al-Jihad wa'l Qital fi al-Siyasa al-Shar'iyya (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1417/1996), 3:1499
[4] Haykal, 3:1502
[5] imam Ibn 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Muhammad ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi, al-Sharh al-Kabir 'ala Matn al-Muqni' (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-'Arabi, 1372/1972), 10:555
[6] imam Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi'i, Kitab al-Umm (Beirut: Dar al-Ma'rifa, nd), 4:248
[7] Ibn Majah, no. 2341
[8] Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi, Qawanin al-Ahkam al-Shar'iyya (Beirut: Dar al-'Ilm li'l Malayin, 1374/1974), p. 165
[9] imam Muhammad ibn 'Ali al-Shawkani, al-Sayl al-Jarrar (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1405/1985), 4:519
[10]There are those who argue that the correct interpretation of this verse is the opposite of what is implied here. Namely, it was encouraging those who stayed away from a battle in order to mind their crops and cattle to go forth to the fray lest they be destroyed by the advancing enemy forces. However, imam al-Shawkani and others argue that the meaning is contingent on the situation. While that meaning may be the one applicable to the occasion of the verse's revelation, to argue that the verse is discouraging involvement in foolhardy acts of desperation is also operative. This is so based on the interpretive principle, العبرة لعموم اللفظ لا لخصوص السبب al-'Ibra li 'Umum al-Lafdh, la li Khusus al-Sabab (The applicability of a verse is based on the generality of its wording not the specificity of its revelation).
[11] See imam Ibn 'Abideen, Radd al-Muhtar 'ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar (Cairo: Matba' Khidaywi Isma'il, 1286), 3:337
[12] Haykal, 2:1008
[13] imam Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Sarkhasi, Sharh al-Siyar al-Kabir (Cairo: Jami' al-Makhtutat Jami' al-Duwal al-'Arabiyya, 1372/1972), 1:62

103 Responses

  1. usman

    Salaam, one of the best articles i have read in a long long time,. May allah increase Imam Zaid in knolwedge, wisdom, sincerity, and taqwa.

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  2. MM Associates

    Jazakh-Allah khair.

    Thank you very much, Imam Zaid Shakir. Excellent article. As always, your articles are always very balanced and clear. We are truly blessed to have such community leaders as you. May Allah [swt] preserve you.

    -J.Hashmi

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  3. Baasel

    As salamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahu,

    Linda Heard, who writes for Middle East affairs on gulfnews.com, writes in her article “Muslims need not be apologetic” says “Nidal…whatever the motivation…American Muslims are under pressure to condemn the attack, which Christians and Jews are never required to do when one of their co-religionists turn to violence. I don’t recall Irish Catholics having to dissociate themselves from Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, for instance…”

    “Fort Hood,” happens all the time in Iraq and Afghanistan, carried out by U.S. soldiers. Unfortunately, most Americans will never hear about that. This is MM’s third article on the Fort Hood incident. I kindly request that the brothers and sisters at MM post at least THREE articles on the Mahmudiyah killings, the Haditha Massacre, the Blackwater scandel and shootings, and the Fallujah massacre.

    If you are still adamant on condemning Fort Hood over and over again, then perhaps we may intractably refusing to imagine that Muslims overseas are our own family members. I kindly ask you to sit down for a few minutes. Sit down and think about it. How long did they air Abeer Qasim Hamza’s story on CNN? Nobody was interviewed in her neighborhood. Any sympathy towards the Iraqis was dissuaded by some clever political analyst, who assured the public that justice will be served. Justice will only be served when America leaves Iraq. Further, they treat Muslim casulaties like statistics. Whereas, when a westerner is killed, they interview their family, broadcast their memorial, etc. The strategy: humanize the westerner, dehumanize the Muslims. In 10 years, we’ll have completely forgotten about Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Jazak’Allah Khair, your brother in Islam,

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    • ibnmasood

      Did you even read the article?! It does explain Islam in a scholarly way in case any more confused people think that Nidal’s action could be justifiable through Quran/Sunnah (which is indeed important). However, that’s not all he does. He’s not being apologetic whatsoever. He clearly criticizes the wars American is engaged in with Muslim-majority nations. Imam Zaid has also recently published an excellent article about Imam Luqman as well, and Muslim Matters in general always posts many things defending Muslims and speaking for justice in all cases.

      I’d advise everyone to at least consider before they criticize. Listen before speaking. Read before writing.

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      • Amad

        I dont think they read the post. That is the not important. The more important thing is to go on the soap-box and show how “you” really care about the Ummah, and no one else does as much as you.

        Many of those who scream “why don’t you talk about injustices against Muslims” are the flip-side of the Islamophobes who scream “why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism”. You could turn blue in your face condemning terrorism, and yet they will fail to see it, because it doesn’t help/fall in line with their agenda.

        So, you can never appease the “why don’t you talk about injustices against Muslims”, because even if the proof is in their face (I mean all they had to do was look in our archives and find tons of posts talking about injustices against Muslims), they will (a) not look for it, or (b) pretend it’s not even there. They rely on the herd mentality. Repeat something enough times and others will think it’s true and follow right in line.

        That’s why we keep most of these comments moderated, since they are essentially trollish in nature, and don’t talk to the post in question.

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      • MM Associates

        Good post.

        “since they are essentially trollish in nature, and don’t talk to the post in question.”

        And we know from looking at IP addresses that most of these comments come from one or two websites…They post altogether and goad each other to post comments, all in an effort to make it look “grassroots”…It gives the impression that they have more support than they really do.

        It is these same people who for years have been prefacing their comments with “this is the reason I don’t visit MM any more…” yet for some odd reason they keep visiting and commenting.

        -J.Hashmi

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    • Anonymous

      Bassel writes, ” How long did they air Abeer Qasim Hamza’s story on CNN? Nobody was interviewed in her neighborhood”

      Abeer Qasim Hamza’s story was aired on CNN and other western media outlets all over the world – from when her crime was discovered to when the butchers who murdered and raped her were sentenced to life in prison. Many of her neighbors and family were interviewed as well – again easy to find information through various western news sources online. In fact, those very sources you denigrate are where you read the news right Bassel?

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    • unsatisfied

      I agree with Baasel. We see articles on MM about the Fort Hood massacre all the time. Why?

      What he did was wrong and thats it. Move on. Majority of the Muslims agree to this. Ok now what. Why do we always have to do damage control. And damage control from who? Those people who already hate Islam and muslims? Why do we have to be acceptable to them and justify our deen to them. The message of Islam is very clear to someone who is looking for guidance especially in a day and age where information is on one’s fingertips.

      Why do we need to talk about some fringe whacko who did this. We are losing the bigger picture. Our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Afghanistan. And Palestine and Kashmir. So in the big scheme of things Mr Nidal’s actions are not worthy of our time and condemnation. We have bigger issues and bigger things to worry about. Its like someone talking about the moon sighting when there are bigger issues that need our attention.

      Lets put things in perspective.

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      • Amad

        So, who is stopping you from doing something about “bigger issues”? It is almost as if by talking about “smaller issues”, we are stopping the “bigger issues” from being discussed?

        Go ahead and be constructive, in whatever area you can. American Muslims will focus on an issue that is indeed affecting our community very significantly at this time. And in this article, Imam Zaid goes beyond mere condemnation, but makes a case against this and any similar vigilante actions. This is important.

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    • AbuSulaiman

      This is the best article i’ve read so far on the Ft. Hood shootings.

      On another note, whats the point of having that voting system for blog comments when it gets removed when voting is going the “wrong” way?

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      • Amad

        The voting “system” we had was inherently flawed. We are working on something better. Negative ratings should be only for troll-rating, not because you don’t like someone (note that I didn’t say someone’s opinion). When you get 10 negative points for just saying that some post is good (without any more detail), then the voting has become a popularity contest, not an objective rating of the comment itself.

        If you go to dailykos for instance, negative ratings are serious stuff, and you can be banned for overusing it. That prevents abuse, esp. when there are group efforts to try to color things one way or the other.

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  4. Stinger

    Salaam,

    True Islam is defending Justice no matter how much injustice you have have suffered yourself. Excellent Post, may Allah continue to bless Imam Shakir with wisdom and insight.

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  5. Janet

    “Hate speech and whispers of a coming backlash”…are you joking? If this was not so serious it would be funny. So many silly words. Take responsibilty! How many excuses can a writer such as this manage to think up?

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    • Amad

      Wish he was joking… it is difficult for the largely unaffected majority to sometimes recognize when something affects a minority. Requires a bit of putting one in another’s shoes, which can be difficult for many.

      What do you find so silly by the way? The reflections or that you can’t get it?

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  6. Janet

    Silly? Well, for a start, the idea of Western attacks on “Muslims” in general. If the West wanted to simply “attack Muslims” why do you think they would take such risks to avoid killing civilians? Why not just bomb Muslim lands, if they want to just pick on Muslims. But they don’t. The US has tried to help Muslims against tyranncal regimes, but I don’t think it is worth it. It seems Muslims would rather be slaughtered by fellow Muslims that be helped by “infidels”.
    And why do Muslims get “angry” and “frustrated” in America? If it is so bad, why live in America? I don’t get it. There are plenty of Muslim countries to live in for devout Muslims. If I were a devout Muslim the last place I would want to live in would be America. I would go to Sudan, which is a great place for Muslims to live…but there are many more Muslim countries to choose from, and they would let you in easily. Why stay in America and live in (fake, affected) fear of “racism” and “backlashes” and “hate” etc – why?
    Silly for other reasons too. The exaggerated piety, the denial of the link betwen that man’s crime (not just a “tragedy” which implies some kind of accident) etc.
    If people of a group are always saying how important the group is (the ummah, for example) then logically they should take responsibility when one of the group misbehaves.
    And if people behave properly, and control recalcitrants of the group, there is no risk of any “backlash” because everyone is happy.

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    • Amad

      Janet, do we really want to go into a “who has killed more civilians” match? Because I PROMISE you that the number of civilians “accidentally” killed by our military forces is probably orders of magnitude higher the “Muslim terrorists”. This is exactly the kind of slippery slope that some people would like to take you down on. Because it allows the extremists to justify their actions.

      For Muslims, it isn’t about score-settling. Two wrongs do not make a right. Injustice is injustice, whichever side commits it.

      “Why not bomb Muslim lands
      “: Hmm, I think our military is already doing so, even if it is done with “great care”… it still keeps killing more civilians than militants, which means it is a FAILED policy.

      “The US has tried to help Muslims against tyranncal regimes”: I hope you don’t mean our great “moral” war to get rid of our own Frankenstein Saddam? In fact, I would argue that so far much of US foreign policy has been HORRIBLE. Instead of helping Muslims against tyranny, the US has been installing and supporting tyrants. There are so many examples of this that I don’t know where to even start, but that also shows that you have been relying far too much on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh in shaping your world views.

      “If I were a devout Muslim the last place I would want to live in would be America.” : I disagree. For American citizens, there are few places better in the world to live in than America. And freedom of religion applies to everyone, including devout Muslims. Just because Muslims may disagree with American foreign policy or even internal politics doesn’t mean we have to emigrate. Would you have the same advice for tons of non-Muslims, esp. among the liberal and libertarian quarters, to leave America? Where should they go? Liberistan? Or should we rather export the neoconservatives, the extreme right-wingers and the ziocons to Israel so they can enjoy the company of other bigots?

      “Fake backlash”: Would your “fake” fear of backlash include the poor Greek priest hammered by the soldier because he thought the priest was a Muslim who was saying “Allahuakbar”? Care to visit him at the hospital and tell him that he’s faking it? Read this article on Islamophobia to help you broaden your views a bit.

      Finally, Janet, we usually don’t like to get into lengthy debates with people who obviously have a big chip on their shoulder and are here to show how macho their Islamophobia is. So, my suggestion is to be careful with your sweeping generalizations. There are enough forums for the “Islamophobia is fiction” types… this just isn’t one of them.

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    • Happy Crescent

      I read, with interest, your article but disagreed entirely when you mentioned that we have a ‘protection agreement’ with people so that they would feel safe from ‘us’ in a non-muslim land. Firstly, it is reciprocal and if ‘they’ are not being protective over us and our homes/communities then we must, in one way or another protect ourselves, either by legal or illegal means. Secondly, Muslims are BORN in non-muslim lands – therefore that is THEIR land too. We shouldn’t be feeling as though we are living in a non-muslim land at all. Nor should we feel that we are in a minority any more – there are more believers in the One God than the media would reveal.

      Our enemy – the peoples’ enemy, the enemy of believers love to divide us and make us feel as though we are in a ‘them’ and ‘us’ country/world. If the majority of the world’s population woke up to this very simple fact and go back to what is the fitr for all of us the world would be a more peaceful place altogether.

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  7. Janet

    But I like your comments, Amad, and I am glad you criticized “unsatisfied’. He deserved it.

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  8. Anonymous

    Wow, reading this really changed my opinions. Earlier, I saw it as legitimate resistance against an armed military force. But after reading this article, especially the quotes of Haykal and Ibn Juzayy, I understand why just about every Muslim organization condemned the attack. I just feel so terrible when I hear of the terror we’ve inflicted on poor Iraqis.

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  9. Janet

    Amad: I have never read anything by Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Not a word (who are they? Doesn’t matter.) But I have read the Koran, or lots of it, and found it very frightening. And people like Hasan are following Mohammed’s (or Allah’s) commands to fight against the unbelievers, etc.
    I would not like to do some kind of “count” of dead bodies, and it was not my intention. But you simply must acknowledge that often – too often – Muslims kill non-Muslims and justify it from the koranic texts. If Muslims have been killed in Muslim lands, it is sheer paranoia to think they were killed just because they were “Muslim”. It is very hard to separate enemy from friend in Muslim lands – I should not have to explain why.
    I don’t agree with the US being in Afghanistan, by the way. A waste of time, money and human life. If Afghanis want the Taliban, let them have it. The biggest problem is Taliban access to nuclear weapons, but who cares? Let them get them and blow us all up. You will be killed too, in America, and considered unimportant collateral damage, but at least no Muslims will be killed by non-Muslims, which is the important thing, even if we all have to go, right?

    I didn’t say you “had to” emigrate. Nothing like it. But I have been with Muslims living in Muslim lands and they seem to be happy being surrounded by their culture. It seems normal to enjoy being surrounded by your own culture. We haven’t really been sold on multiculturalism in the West, it was simply forced on us. So I rather envied them their confident monoculture. That’s all. Please don’t read what I say with such a paranoid attitude.

    Yes, it IS a fake backlash. After terrorist attacks Muslims always act like victims :poor us! No, not “poor you” – no pity from me, only pity for the families of the deceased. Your job is not to feel self-pity but to ensure that people like Hasan get the mesaage which you say we non-Muslims are supposed to be getting from your religion, that it is “peaceful”. There are MANY Muslims you need to work on in that department, all over the world, who are for some reason taking the texts literally – BOOM!

    I have no “chip on my shoulder”. I can’t understand your logic in saying that. (But it is typical: attack the personality of a person with an opposing view.) I don’t understand why we non-Muslims are supposed to shrug off incidents such as the one we are talking about. With Muslims, we have imported a new danger into our countries. Not the only one, but a new one to add to the problems we already have. Don’t tell me I am tarring all Muslims with the same brush, because I am not. But there is a worry: how is it that when would-be terrorists are caught, everyone says “But they are such nice people. Who would have known? A devout Muslim…” How are we to know who we can trust? This is not paranoia, as we know there are commands in the Koran to kill non-believers. We are just supposed to hope that the Muslims in our midst ignore those bits and pick up on the nice stuff.

    This is all I have to say. I have had very pleasant times with Muslims and still do. But there are topics I prefer to stay away from. Too many seem to agree that death for apostasy is okay, which is scary. I believe in freedom of religion, and that means freedom to change one’s religion. I have met former Muslims who have had to change their names and hide, and this is a big problem. Basically, too much killing in Islam, justified by the religious texts.

    Am I “Islamophobic”? Well, don’t be scary then!

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    • ibnmasood

      Janet,

      I can sympathize with you. Really, I can. Even though I am a Muslim, I was born and raised in this country and can actually think about things from the other perspective. You say that we have plenty of work to do to stop the Muslims of the scary variety. Efforts like this article and the constant educational initiatives and condemnations that Muslims give, I hope, are steps in that process. We can never say, as Muslims, that we have ever done enough to help bring people to the reality of understanding God’s message. Heck, it’s beyond us to think so arrogantly think we can speak for God. The true Muslim hopes to be on God’s side and prays for guidance upon the straight path in every single prayer, five times a day, every day.

      Now, I won’t be defensive. Yes, the Muslim community does need to shape up. But I will say one thing. Every single Muslim who really cares about his/her faith would follow the teachings of their Book and their Messenger, as we believe these are both sent to us as revelation from God. To simply read a translation and think that “Oh, Muslims are just following their Book literally, see, here’s the passage right here!” is to do exactly what these terrorists are doing: taking parts of the Quran while ignoring/denying other parts of the Quran. It is an obligation upon us to accept the whole book, and doing otherwise is going against our very faith. To say the peaceful verses are no longer applicable is to deny verses of the Quran, which are meant to be relevant until the end of time! This is exactly what terrorists like to do, and this is what I would advise you not to do. Every single mention of the Quran where fighting is described, I ask you to read before and afterwards and see if there aren’t any other verses directly nearby that would balance that line of reasons. I ask you one simple question: if there are even half a billion devout Muslims on the planet who sincerely want to follow their religion who believe that all non-Muslims must be killed, do you really think even a single non-Muslim would be alive today? If Islam is as scary as you say it is, would it have taken over 300 years for Islam to become a majority religion in Egypt? Mind you, the people who helped spread Islam in the early generations were some of the greatest believers and followers of the Prophet Muhammad. If he had commanded them to do such a thing or if something was in their Book to kill non-Muslims or at least terrify them, don’t you think they would have obeyed?

      There are countless examples in history of the greatness and the not-so-greatness of the Muslims. When Muslims read this history, they are able to identify that the not-so-great times happened when the leaders or the people turned their backs to Islam for some socio-political reason. Today, the same has happened. These terrorists have taken hold of some principles of the faith, but have definitely forsaken others. You don’t have to take my word for it. Seriously, just go back and re-read the Quran in a wholistic manner. There is balance in our teaching. Criminals like Osama and Nidal have not only betrayed their nations, they have also betrayed us and our beliefs.

      May God guide us towards peace in the truth, all of us.

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    • Abu Yunus

      Janet, do you take what your mother says literally or metaphorically. “They are interpreting the texts literally” is the most absurd argument I have heard. Here is principle, “You have to take texts literally unless there is evidence which specifies taking it metaphorically.”

      Also, Taliban don’t have ANY access to nuclear weapons. You might as well be scared of living in America who has 9,400 warheads, 2,623 of which are active. Also, have you called your congressman and have them disarm the following countries (not to mention the United States as well):

      Russia (13,000 warheads)
      UK (185 warheads)
      France (300 warheads)
      China (240 warheads)
      Israel (80 warheads)

      The hypocrisy is obvious for anyone who has a share of insight.

      As for post-911 backlash, I am not sure where you have been these last 8 years to not know that Muslims have indeed been harmed in a variety of different ways. Perhaps, it is easy for you to call it fake since you have never EXPERIENCED it yourself as you are not a Muslim.

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  10. Huddi

    Please delete my previous replies, including this one. I have changed my opinion since then after thinking about it.

    JK

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    • Amad

      Which previous replies?
      Usually, we don’t delete any publishes responses… people are free to distance themselves from their past opinions by simply stating so. You can list the links to the responses and merely state your new position. That would be simplest.

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  11. suhail

    Actually it is quite an interesting read and i agree with many point Zaid Shakir has raised. May Allah help us all and guide the muslims towards good and protect them from the fitan of kuffar.

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  12. Janet

    Ah…I was gardening, and it came to me. Just like the early history of Islam; Muslims try and push their religion on others, the others don’t want this crazy religion, the Muslims feel “persecuted” and this “persecution’justifies attack. The non-Muslims fight back, and so are considered worthy of extermination.

    Now: Muslims came to America, invited in by a tolerant multiculturalism. Attacks by muslims occur, or just unwanted, persistent da’wa. Americans don’t like the da’wa, and like the attacks even less. Muslims feel “persecuted” and invent “Islamophobia”. This justifies aggression and hatred (with which the Koran is full anyway.) Hey presto: poor persecuted Muslims, who only want everything their way.

    This paranoid aggression seems to be ubiquitous in the Muslim world. I couln’t work it out for a long time, why Muslims hated the West so much, hated Jews, hated apostates, hated “kaffir”, hated all impediments to domination….

    Now delete my comments, lest they make you feel offended and “Christianophobic”!

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  13. Janet

    ibnmasood: Thanks for your considered reply. I have to say though, even though you are obviously thoughtful and capable of reasoned argument, that I am not convinced by your argument of “balance.” It is supposed to be a “holy” book, for goodness’ sake! Should Jesus have told his followers to kill, occasionally, in the interests of “balance”? Or the Buddha? Buddhism is very “unbalanced” – no killing required! So sometimes Mohammed said “kill” and sometimes he said “be nice”. That was part of his genius, his skill at manipulation of his followers and the people he was trying to seduce into the religion. People want different things; some of his followers were surely attracted to the booty, extra wives and slaves, and violence allowed to them via this new religion. It is, after all, very much a “man’s” religion.

    Most Muslims, these days, are decent people who would not hurt anyone. But it must be difficult for them to ignore the “war” verses. I have a Muslim friend who prays regularly, reads the Koran in Arabic etc but claims he has never seen the verses I mentioned to him commanding violence. I had to drop the conversation, not wanting to embarrass him, and my only choice, if I want him to be a friend, is to pretend, like him, that Islam is just dandy, with no recommendations of theft and violence, and pretend that his wild outburst, when I asked about Mohammed’s unsavoury actions, didn’t happen.

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    • ibnmasood

      Well, stop asking your apparently ignorant friend! There are plenty of Muslim scholars and books written by them which address your concerns. If you really cared about finding the truth, you would go to an expert. You wouldn’t turn to someone who just bought a house and ask them about the real-estate market. You would ask the realtor, right? Likewise, you can “buy into” a religion like Islam and still not know enough to answer deeper questions like the ones you seem interested in.

      You bring a very good point. You must be a pacifist, who believes that war is wrong in all circumstances. You must mean that if the Nazis are attacking the Jews, they should “turn the other cheek” and never defend themselves. Right?

      Islam disagrees. You need force to be able to implement justice against people who use force unjustly. Otherwise, you’re letting injustice reign supreme.

      I would like to correct your reading of history. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught people to worship only one God and that he was only speaking as a messenger of God. That’s it. It was the idol-worshipers of Mecca who saw that as a threat to their financial stability and power, since they would get hundreds and thousands of pagan worshipers to come for religious reasons to Mecca. For 13 years, the Prophet asked only to be allowed to speak to the people, yet was persecuted because they felt threatened by his message. If Muhammad had been killed before he escaped to Medina, his life would have been nearly identical to the life of Jesus.

      Now comes the controversy. That the Prophet engaged in war is true. We believe messengers and prophets were sent by God to be an example of how best we can live our human lives. War is a part of life, whether we are the oppressor or the oppressed. How do we conduct ourselves during war, even when thrust upon us? Jesus can’t tell you that. Neither can Buddha.

      Although not a perfect article, I would recommend you to read the following article about what Muslim soldiers do when they follow the example of Prophet Muhammad:
      Mystical Power: Why Sufi Muslims, for centuries the most ferocious soldiers of Islam, could be our most valuable allies in the fight against extremism
      By Philip Jenkins
      http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/01/25/mystical_power/?page=full

      I also point you towards the example of great men like Saladin. Forget about what Muslims think of him, look at what western historians have said about him. If Saladin were alive today, he would tell you that he did nothing of his own accord except that he was inspired by the Prophet Muhammad. So why can we hate these great people and hate the people who were their inspiration and who allowed them to exist in the first place? What are we missing in the picture? Why are some of the most devout the most praiseworthy human beings to ever walk the planet devout believers and followers of Prophet Muhammad, yet Muhammad himself can be anything less than that?

      If anything, these other people are second-rate imitations of the real deal!

      These are the people Islam inspires. Extremism on the other hand, is inspired by the ego. It’s ego that makes you think that you can stand in front of God with a clear conscience on the Day of Judgment and justify killing/oppressing innocent people when it’s clearly forbidden in Islam. It’s ego when you claim to be fighting for Muslims when you consider them non-Muslims anyway just because you disagree with them. It’s ego when the ends justifies the means, just because you want them to. The Prophet Muhammad taught us to fight our ego and be humble when we approach our religion. It’s only the humble who will receive guidance.

      May God allow us all to be humble, and guide us to what is best.

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      • ibnmasood

        I meant to say:
        “So how can we admire these great people and hate the people who were their inspiration and who allowed them to exist in the first place?”

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      • Bill

        To Imam Zaid Shakir, ibnmasood & Amad

        Very well written and being a non Muslim I appreciated the candor of the article. I would like to respond to some comments made by several of the posters. First off I would like to apologize for the illegal and evil war called Iraq. No excuse for that having occured and no apology will ever be enough! Back to my points:

        1) Injustice: An injustice in Islam is quite a different thing than what those of other faiths would deem an injustice. An example is the fact that restricting or prohibiting Dawa would legally be a recourse for Jihad. Yet in the Islamic world it is illegal in many Islamic states for those of other faiths to do missionary work. In fact it is an injustice by Islams terms to allow other faiths to do missionary work in Islamic lands. This position is quite clearly laid out within all four schools of Sunni Jurisprudence and the pact of Umar is often the reference point. You would be hard pressed to find any other faith group that practices this “injustice” of prohibiting missionary work like the Islamic world does. Many more examples can be found along the lines of what we would call criticism in the west vs. would be call defamation in the Islamic world.

        2) Islamophobia: Yes it exists and like any type of racism or we vs. them attitude it must be stamped out. I don’t tolerate it and I would expect Muslims to do the same. However, from a comparision standpoint I would ask the readers here to review the OIC report on Islamophobia vs. any human rights reports from any number of Islamic states. You will find in the West harassment followed by large finacial settlement vs death or churches torched in the Islamic world. In Chicago front page news reported a women was being prosecuted for pulling on a ladies Hijab. Then in Pakistan you had 9 Christians burned alive and the states respose is to file 139 complaints by Muslims to 2 by the Christians(probably due to the pakistani law that states it takes 4 christians to equal 1 male Muslims testimony–yes it is still law there.) To boot the Christians were to be awarded $1,200 for each death but was revoked pending the the 139 complaints! The OIC wants everyone to believe Islamophobia is the world’s biggest problem yet when confronted with 2 million dead in Darfur by the West the response is “its an attack on Islam”(Larajani from Iran.) In all seriousness how many Muslims get gunned down in the West or have their Mosques burned to the ground?

        3) Tolerance in scripture: Yes the verses exist but as you should be aware these verse were largely abrogated by later ones. Does not mean they lose their “truth” just their importance in face of the newer ones. I won’t list those “newer” verses but we all know they are quite harsh respective to the “infidel.” Personally I believe abrogation is a major problem. When you have a dual message which one applies?

        In summary we in the West need to clean up our mess (ie Iraq, Afghanistan, support for dictators, and an abysmal foreign policy) but we need Muslims to realize the gross inequity their faith and culture forces on the “other.” If you trully want us to respect you stop the hate and the we vs them attitude that is endemic across the Islamic world. Do we stop you from doing dawa, building/reparing mosques, or openly displaying your faith in the West? No, yet these are everday realities for religious minorities throughout the Islamic world. A simple but profound fact is that Islam is growing in the West while all other faith groups in the Islamic world get smaller and smaller. What purpose to the vestiges of Dhimmi laws rife across the Islamic world have? Why? Why? Could it be that is what Islamic scripture supports? This begs the question who is trully equitable and fair? My two best friends are Shia and I judge them by who they are not what they are! Why can’t we all just do that?

        Thx
        Bill

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      • Umm Bilqis

        Bill
        Interesting points and quite wide ranging. It will be interesting to see the response the brothers give, but off the bat I have to say that Muslims have to see the various inconsistencies that you are making between Islam the religion and the practices in some so called “Muslim” states that only adhere to same parts of sharia whilst keeping French and English canon law. Also interesting is how you sweepingly disown western injustices in Muslim countries while highlighting western practices in western lands. Perhaps you can understand that for Muslims there is no such distinction. Western injustices are seen as a whole no matter were they are. Perhaps that is what contributes to a us/them attitude for the west.

        Your words:
        1) Injustice: An injustice in Islam is quite a different thing than what those of other faiths would deem an injustice.
        My response:
        Therefore you as a Christian feel an affinity to hinduism in issues surrounding Justice?
        It is fascinating to see how you placed Islam in one camp and all other faiths together. This aids in hidhlighting our belief that there are 2 ways or (millas) in the world ,kufr and Islam ,i.e one of religions that associate partners with God and the true monotheism of Islam.

        By the way, I live in an area in Canada where one of our local masjids was burned to the ground and am glad to say we built it stronger and more durable!
        I also came from an area in Africa were the local synagogue was kept up despite the fact that the last remaining Jewish Falasha family had emigrated.

        Just for the record I find your arguments to be self serving and that you have chosen to focus on some issues at the expense of others. Plus you fall into framing or defining issues and topics according to western standards. Not comprehending that Muslims have their own standards and definitions and they are not always in line with utopian western ones. Utopian because you guys don’t adhere to your own values and standards.

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      • Bill

        Umm Bilqis,

        Thank you for your reply. I am sorry your masjid got burned to the ground. As for me being self serving I was presenting my point of view on Islam not neccesairly a point by point comparision. I am well aware of the trangressions of the West as follows:

        1) War in Iraq–not so much for Afghanistan
        2) Corporatre greed that often trumps the needs of the local population when a multinational corp moves in
        3) War on Terror–instead of force it should have been fought ideologically hand in hand with Muslims
        4) Not being senstive to cultural and religious values of Muslims
        5) Support for dictators across the Islamic world while we are suppose to be preaching democracy
        6) While I believe Israel has a right to exist I am perplexed the Western world allows the oppression to continue. You would think the Jews of all people would realize oppression does not work
        7) Promoting western democarcy largely ignorant of religious and cultural norms
        8) Many more

        I hope that helps clear up the fact I do not ignore the transgressions of the West.

        Regarding Injustices I group all other faith groups into one large category because:

        1) None have a doctrine for war nor partition the world into Dar Al Islam and Dar Al Harb
        3) None have a doctrine that actually encourages offensive force to spread faith
        4) None have “dhimmi” laws that essentially relegate the non faithful to second class status. There is not one Western state that has seperate laws for Muslims yet in the Islamic world it is quite common
        5) None prohibit other faiths from doing missionary work
        6) None spend the majority of its scripture on the other(60% for the Quran)

        The biggest reason I group them is that none have disowned greek/hellenistic thought(critical thinking) in favor of the divine. I look to two people in Islam that largely led to the rejection critical thought Al Ghazali and ibn taymiyya. They both essentially stated critical thought as we understand it in the West was heresy. Al Ghazali’s work, ‘The Incoherence of the Philosophers’ quite clearly laid this out. Ibn Taymiyya’s statement “a perfect dissimilarity with the non-Muslims has been achieved” is what defines a true Muslim is also indicative of this rejection. Al Kindi and Al Razi are often mentioned in the Islamic world as great scholars but many fail to realize that because they embraced greek philosophy they were also branded as heretics. In addition, It didn’t help that Al Ghazali and Ibn Taymiyya also essentially nailed shut the gates of Ijtihad trapping much of Sunni Islamic law to that era. This is why technologically and education wise the Islamic world is far behind the majority of the world. Simply put I group the others because they have much in common that Islam rejects. I don’t want this division but the reality is as you alluded to Islamic scripture uniquely supports that.

        I fully understand my view is from a Western standpoint but it is also from a secular stanpoint. What you may call cultural or religious norms we often in the west would term an injustice. Again I ask why is it alright for Muslims in the west to convert others, build/repair mosques, or openly display their faith while these are often severly restricted or prohibited for other faith groups in the Islamic world? Personally I think most Muslims don’t don’t adhere to this but the catch is that Sharia law does. Do you personally believe in these restrictions and if not how do you reconcile it with faith? I am not always right but these are my views. Please correct or educate me if you think I am off base. I all for learning more and especially trying to see it from your standpoint.

        Thx
        Bill

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      • Umm Biqis

        Bill,
        Sorry I did not study Islamic shariah nor Greek and Hellenistic thought. Therefore I can’t help you and I’m our scholars will.

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      • Umm Bilqis

        Bill,
        By the way Denmark is only just letting Muslims build their first mosque after the cartoon debacle.
        The Christians are spreading their faith in many muslims lands i.e Indonesia.

        This is sad because to me Christianity is like holding a candle in the darkness and Islam is like turning the light switch on.

        As your Mark Twain says:
        The difference between
        the right word
        and the almost right word
        is the difference
        between the lightening
        and the lightening bug.
        Islamic Jurisprudence would aid in the growing corruption in western societies.
        There is corruption of the:
        a)Political class.They steal from the poor and give to the rich.
        b) The corrupt business class.
        c)The Corrupt Bank(sters).
        d) The recycling of Criminals in the Institutions of Higher learning, called Prisons. Whereby someone goes in for petty theft and is recycled into a hardened criminal.
        f) Corrupt borrowers who buy into riba/ interest based investments. The speculative borrowers who just have enough money to cover the interest and not the principle. As well as Ponzi borrowers who take on the risks while not having the money either for the interest payments nor for the principal.

        The West could benefit from Islamic Finance, Islamic jurisprudence,Islamic Rule ( a rule by the Shura Council which is comprised of elite muslim scholars that are consulted by the emir in the matters of state.)
        Also the family could be revived and the women in western secularism would not be oppressed by governments asking them to leave their children to fight unjust wars in far away places they can’t find on maps. They would have the freedom to stop dis-robing so as to get customers for multinationals.

        Ajeeb: ” Strange is the one who humiliates himself/or herself for this world while a piece of bread would suffice for each day.”

        Bill while I understand the need for you to discuss these issues for academic or personal purposes I hope you realize that they are not the most pertinent of issues for Muslims today because we do not look at Greek or classical thought for guidance. The issue of the classification of Dar Al Harb/ Islaam however is necessary to delve into.

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  14. Stinger

    Salaam,

    I want to thank Amad and IbnMasood for their remarks and to Janet I hope that you will continue to visit these forums, I hope that you will be open minded enough to hear the views of Muslims themselves from issues that concern all of us. The mainstream media is not a good enough source to truly understand today’s world events.

    You are open-minded enough to visit this site and have taken the time to read the views of others. I think this is a great first step to increase your understanding and I hope that you will continue to take this approach. Many of the conflicts we are seeing today have long histories which simply aren’t being discussed by the Media. On the issue of terrorism, every member of Al-Qaida that was ever interviewed could not make a good argument to justify their actions through Islamic teachings. They either have a weak understanding of Islam or are ignoring it all together. The way in which some of these attacks are occurring have no place in Islam and many, many Muslim organizations worldwide have mobilized in opposition to extremism.

    The reality is that these extremists are motivated by unjust wars, flawed foreign policy, and corrupt leadership in their own countries. Their violent actions have little to do with Islamic Doctrine or the moral teachings of Prophet Muhammad. This article shows that Islamic teachings go as far as opposing attacks even on military bases by Muslims who have been trusted to live here peacefully. Even though we are living in very violent times when our military is actively participating in conflicts involving Muslims worldwide, Islam teaches us to be just and to not allow one injustice to justify another.

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  15. Carlos

    Janet, I agree with most, if not all of the things you say. I think you and I have a lot in common.
    [Chop]

    I just hate Islam. All religion is nonsense, but Islam is worse that just nonsense, it is dangerous nonsense.
    [Chop]

    Everyone who has posted seems like a pretty reasonable and well-meaning person. Please don’t take my comments as an intended insult.
    [Yes, I just insulted you, but don't take it as an insult]

    Yours,

    Carlos

    -Comment chopped and edited. Carlos, we take our religion VERY seriously. And on this forum, we don’t debate about Islam itself as a religion, but rather about how it is interpreted. I am sure you can find lots of common ground on atheistic forums. For now, I would recommend the same book I did to Janet, “Who speaks for Islam”. Since you feel that you are so enlightened, I am sure you wouldn’t mind examining some statistical data and its findings. While many people may use Islamic language to commit treacherous acts, it is only because it is a convenient garb, even though the underlying issue is political. Read the book and if you would like to discuss afterward, we are definitely willing to engage. But chill out a bit -Amad

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    • Megan

      Bismillah

      I think its really interesting that you have noted that everyone on this site seems nice/etc – but still insist as viewing Islam in a negative light, and assume all of us would follow something without deep contemplation, the use of our hearts, minds, intellect, and sincerity. :)

      Many people talk about Muslims – and then say “well, you guys seems alright, but.”

      We are it :) This whole website is about Islam, allowing for open dialogue about our beliefs and way of life. Please do take the time to understand Islam through the eyes and minds of a learned person.

      Anyone can attach and islamic term or phrase to an action, but that doesn’t make that action, belief, or statement Islamic. Something to keep in mind too.

      One of the greatest dangers in the world is ignorance.

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      • Carlos

        Megan, are you responding to my 11/17/09 comment? Bear in mind that Amad heavily censored my 11/17/09 comment, so you did not get the full story. If you saw my full comment, you would probably think I was a total jerk. Admittedly, sometimes I am.

        It seems you are implying I am ignorant. I admit I am ignorant of some things. For example, I am not sure what “Bismillah” means. I suppose I could look it up, but feel free to enlighten me if you wish. I must also admit that I am completely ignorant of why Sarah Palin is so popular and why the Octomom deserves such attention.

        You are right, I do view Islam in a negative light. First of all, it is a religion, so it is based upon, as you say, ignorance. You can dress it up in whatever intellectual rhetoric you want, but, as a religion, it is, at best, wishful thinking with some helpful platitudes about self-discipline. Secondly, what I have seen of Islam, I really really do not like. I saw enough of Islam on 9/11/01 to decide, permanently, that it is an evil force upon human existence. And do not tell me the 9/11 terrorists were not motivated by Islam. That is bull patties, and you know it. What I have seen since then has done nothing but reinforce my negative image of Islam. Respectfully, I do not think it is ignorance that makes me dislike Islam. I consider myself a pretty well-educated and well-read person. I ain’t dum, Megan. Quite the opposite, I think the more I learn about Islam, the more I realize that it is a dogma that must be intellectually challenged at every opportunity.

        I, for one, will never submit to ignorance or dogma. I will never submit to Islam.

        Happy Turkey Day. If you are a vegetarian, enjoy your tofu turkey.

        Carlos

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  16. Umm Bilqis

    Assalmu alaikum to those who follow the guidance of Islam and Hello to all our other guests.

    As human beings who values peace we should be for justice no matter who it is for or against and we should value truth no matter who speaks it!
    What saddens me is that Western Secularism has created a climate of fear and insecurity in the world and I condemn that.

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    • Umm Bilqis

      In addition, I see that those who have islamophobic tendencies do not necessarily understand that their opinions are informed by people who have intentionally planted disinformation about Islam. That coupled by the fact that the majority of your schools have let you down. Perhaps you can advocate for better studies in the active literacies? Your OECD student and school rankings are lamentable to put it mildly. Who is responsible? This plays out into a population whose emotions are easily manipulated and whose opinions are informed by people who plant ideas that are useful to a select few. An elite leadership that don’t care about you or your vets or us. Who don’t care about the nation state and are greedy plus corrupt.
      The blame can go all around to islamic and christian leadership that have abdicated their roles of leadership and stewardship to the secular ones.

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  17. Janet

    Amad: I am not a pacifist: far from it! Neither am I a devout Christian. I see in Islam a kind of calculated, pugnacious paranoia which justifies aggression, and this appears to have been characteristic of Islam from the time of Mohammed.
    I rarely read the mainstream press, mainly books and journals. I will try and find the book you mention. But there is nothing wrong with asking Muslim friends about Islam rather than “experts”. What is wrong with trying to find out what ordinary Muslims think? I have talked to all kinds of people : Muslims in Muslim countries, Muslims here, people who have left Islam or been persecuted by Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, etc
    I think – and this website seems to confirm to me – that there is so much loathing and contempt in the Islamic world for non-Muslims or the West, and because there is a tendency for Muslim countries to impose their collective will on their non-Muslim citizens, that it would be better to stay separate. As I said, I enjoy going to Muslim countries and feel Muslims cope better with a monoculture, even though their governments are so often oppressive; and I would not like to live in such a culture as a resident because of the discrimination. I just wish Muslims would find a way to accept that other people are happy with their own religions and are not missing out by not being Muslim and should NOT be treated badly.

    Umm Bilqis: what you said about secularism makes you sound like a very young child. Life has always been insecure. Religious communities are not always “secure”. Security, peace, truth, justice: you are just parrotting buzzwords which pertain no more to Islam than to the West. (And your idea of “justice” could very well be my idea of hell!)

    Stinger: Thankyou. I like your approach. Honest opinions, no snide criticism, ideas worth considering. But I do think that we should take the terrorists on their word: there have been so many who have said the same things, and it can’t be denied that they do quote the texts; even if they misinterpret the “bigger picture” which is what you find in Islam they are not incorrest in what they extract from the words of Mohammed, which are supposedly from Allah, who wants hellfire to be the eternal fate for rather a lot of us!

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    • Amad

      What is wrong with trying to find out what ordinary Muslims think?

      Nothing wrong actually. And the book does exactly that… it is actually a lot of poll data of Muslims from several countries around the globe. It tries to delineate political vs. religious motivations for extremism through data. No opinions, just an attempt to find out what “ordinary Muslims think”. Give it a read and then perhaps you will see how stereotypical and offensive your comment about Islam in your opening line is.

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  18. Umm Bilqis

    Hi Janet,
    Actually Janet I am young at heart (always I hope) and thanks for your response! To be honest my responses are really geared towards other muslims since my heart has stopped caring about the opinions of non muslims a long time ago, but I guess one comment is o.k (sigh)I’m here to really support my muslim brethren in their time of hardship and through all the backlash.
    What can I tell you except that there are people in your country who you can consult with who will tell you the facts as muslims see them. Mainly libertarian and anti war types. You can even go to lew rockwell’s website and the antiwar website to see retired and active military/politician/journalist/ types talking about the immorality of your country’s foreign policy, wars and disinformation about islam.
    As for that cheap shot about justice, I beg to differ. I came from a country that is a war zone and most were compelled to support our “tribe” right or wrong. So we left to a country called Canada that had a better concept of justice, and so you see perhaps our standards of justice are not that divergent.

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  19. Janet

    Umm Bilqis: It was a joke, not something you might like I agree, but I don’t know you…”justice” can sometimes mean, to Muslims, strict Sharia, hudud punishment etc…I am sure you know what I mean.
    You don’t care about the opinions of non-Muslims but you live in Canada…h’mm…that should make co-existence really great!
    I am not American. I don’t know Lew Rockwell, and I am not interested in anti-war websites.

    Amad: my “stereotypical and offensive” comment about Islam is one I have seen, in different words – on this website today – by Muslims 9mainly Pakistanis, I think) who are not afraid of serious self-criticism. It has been an interesting day and I have been impressed by some of the views expressed; some Muslims are aware of the paranoia I have noticed (from experience, not by being told by the media or other people) and other problems within Islam, and good on them; I hope they lead Islam on to a better future.
    On the other hand, some of the views here are downright scary….

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    • Umm Bilqis

      Hello again Janet! Thanks for toning your rhetoric down, you really sounded scary to me! As for not caring about the opinions of non muslims, it is in regards to issues such as these, since they are laced with conspiracies and paranioa. I have no problem looking at their opinions on other matters and consulting with them about inane issues. However, I don’t blame them the media machine is working overtime and as muslims we should begin to address the vilification of Islam. Like I said I strongly condemn the atmosphere of insecurity and fear that Western/Secularism has promoted throughout the world and it saddens me!

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  20. anonymous

    Janet speaks for a small slice of western-centric european bigots. It’s surprising that so many of you are responding to her innane generalizations and rantings. She has stated repeatedly she doesn’t care to expand her own knowledge, so why bother?

    “But I have read the Koran, or lots of it, and found it very frightening.”

    Sure you have Janet . The only thing frightening here is your ability to inculcate your bigoted and ignorant views in your children.

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  21. Muslim839

    Janet, a lot of the criticisms you have about Islam/Muslims have been framed around large blanket statements – such as….

    “But I have read the Koran, or lots of it, and found it very frightening.”

    “I see in Islam a kind of calculated, pugnacious paranoia which justifies aggression, and this appears to have been characteristic of Islam from the time of Mohammed.”

    “there is so much loathing and contempt in the Islamic world for non-Muslims or the West”

    “I just wish Muslims would find a way to accept that other people are happy with their own religions and are not missing out by not being Muslim and should NOT be treated badly.”

    “…they are not incorrest in what they extract from the words of Mohammed” (speaking about terrorists)

    Janet, I feel that you are dodging the responses of Amad, IbnMasood, UmmBilqiss, and anyone else by responding with these huge general statements. Hence why this discussion is going in circles.

    If you have a criticism, I think it’s only fair and open-minded to back it up with legitimate evidences.

    All of your evidences so far have been based on personal experiences with Muslims, what you see in the media, or massive general statements (i’ve read the koran, it’s frightening, etc…) – I don’t see these as legitimate evidence as it is entirely subjective. For example, there are plenty of non-Muslims who have amazing experiences with Islam and Muslims in their communities. Also, there are plenty of non-Muslims, who have read the koran and they didn’t feel it was frightening. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?

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  22. Iesa Galloway

    Janet has successfully high-jacked the entire discussion. The article is something that should be read and pondered on by Muslims and non-Muslims alike… yet the “sexiness” (forgive my inability to find a better term) of a Christian debating a bunch of Muslims on their own forum is enough to draw readers directly into the comments and bypass the article all together…

    Decisions on who and how to moderate are tough and authors and contributors often run the risk of looking like control freaks, or trolls themselves. If were up to me repeated pontification that Islam is the problem should be eventually marked as spam… I believe that just like our those in our community who try and use other peoples platforms for their ideologies we are on some non-Muslim’s radar screens who also wish to dilute our voice as well.

    Iesa

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  23. Janet

    Don’t worry, not another word from me. I do not like ad hominen abuse.
    “Bigot”, indeed!

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    • ibnmasood

      I apologize on behalf of the others for offending you. Thanks for stopping by. I hope at least you’ve helped give some of the readers who might still be in a bubble a reality check about how much work the Muslims have on our plates before we can rightfully earn our respect back in society.

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    • James

      I don’t mean to be pedantic Janet, but you’ve misused the term ‘ad hominen’ here.

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  24. Janet

    Yes, thanks James, I kind of knew that “ad hominen” refers to a flawed argument but I wanted to get my point over quickly.
    Thanks, Ibn Masood. Now no more from me; I don’t want to spoil everyone’s day…

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    • Iesa Galloway

      I agree with James, Janet non-Muslims are most welcome and you and all who visit and care enough to comment should be commended.

      I hope you are not taking my criticism of your “tactics” as an excuse to exit the discussion/dialogue.

      I emphasized those two words as what we want on this forum is to speak “with” others not only “at” each other.

      I chose my words carefully: “If were up to me repeated pontification that Islam is the problem should be eventually marked as spam…”

      People wishing to explore ideas is one thing, someone trying to force the acceptance of their ideas is quite another.

      God bless,

      Iesa

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  25. James

    No, stick around Janet, we’re not that sensitive.

    Just a small, personal example to show that what you’re saying is illogical.

    My wife is a Christian, according to you, I should go and kill her because, according to you, the Quran says Muslims should kill unbelieving ‘infidels’.

    “Terribly sorry darling, I know my book says I can marry you, but I’ve just read another part, and I’m afraid I have to chop your head off”

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    • Umm Bilqis

      Good point brother James.
      Now we can focus our attention on the fine points in the article. Remember to increase your worship everyone the first 10 days of Muharram are beginning tommorow, but double check please!
      Assalamu alaikum

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      • suhail

        It is first ten days of Dhul Hijjah. I guess it was a typo error.

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      • Umm Bilqis

        Jazak”allah Khairan brother Suhail,
        I just came on to correct that and am glad you caught it. By the way do you know if today is 29 Dhul Qadah or 1 Dhul hijjah?

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    • mohammed

      “Terribly sorry darling, I know my book says I can marry you, but I’ve just read another part, and I’m afraid I have to chop your head off”

      Lol…

      May Allah guide you Janet and all of us. My prayers with you. Do not just read the translation of Quran but read Tafsir so you get the real picture. Tafsir is the explanation of the Quran.

      (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

      Also, here is another great book. Must Read.

      http://www.islam-guide.com/frm-ch1-1-a.htm

      You have been hmm…(thinking better word for brainwashed) by media…No offense..

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  26. Carlos

    So what you are saying, Amad, is that atheism is an unacceptable topic of discussion on your website? I find it hard to understand why my refusal to believe in anything that is not provable is so controversial. Okay, I’ll take your challenge, and read “Who Speaks for Islam,” if I can find a copy of it. That is the beauty of being an atheist. I am always open to new ideas, no matter how much they might challenge my world view. Seems some others around here could benefit from that kind of mindset . . . .

    Carlos

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    • Iesa Galloway

      Carlos,

      Thanks for commenting. Many Muslims also enjoy challenges to our world views… in fact that is how many of us become Muslim or started to strive at practicing our faith.

      In fact it is stated that only Allah (God) guides people and that once a person is guided no one can lead that person astray and that if Allah does not guide a person no one can guide them.

      The Quran has so many verses that encourage people to evaluate their surrounding and use their minds that it is truly amazing that Muslims lost the scientific edge we once held.

      Now people of course do lose faith (May Allah protect us) but it is generally seen as a being due to that persons actions… (This is a big topic, but I wanted to share with you that as believers reason and and inquiry are actually encouraged)

      Lastly, I’d like to state that many atheist I have meet are extremely intelligent and very “moral” from a “this life/this world perspective.” (Muslims believe true morality comes through faith and worship)

      What I mean is many atheist from my experience donate to worthy causes, are honest and fair in their affairs and care for their fellow man. These traits are very good and may serve as a source of Mercy and Guidance for those who are sincerely seeking the truth. I view your requirement of proof as possible sincerity, so I invite you truly spend some time with a good translation of the Quran and its explanations or context. While I think Amad’s recommendation was good spirited I believe it was a disservice as the Quran is Islam’s ultimate miracle… I am sure many readers of this site will be happy to help you find resources and answers should you explore this.

      God bless,

      Iesa

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      • umm Bilqis

        Carlos,
        As brother Iesa has suggested first contemplate the Quraan and use the wonderful God given faculty of discernment.
        Second, You might want to look at some debates that a Muslim brother has had with militant atheists in Europe. His name is brother Adam Deen and some of his debates can be found on youtube. I believe his latest video is entitled, ” A response to Richard Dawkins By Adam Deen”. (It was hosted by a college in Ireland) Brother Deen also contributed to debates on issues ranging from ethics, religious philosophy and theology.
        Enjoy!

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      • Carlos

        Thank you, Iesa and umm Bilqis, for you kind comments.

        Thank you, umm Bilqis, I will watch the Youtube video posted by Adam Deen. I’ll do that tomorrow. It’s getting late, and I have to work tomorrow. Yawn.

        I look forward to seeing this Mr. Deen take on Richard Dawkins. NOBODY (except for maybe Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, Christopher Hitchens, Thomas Edison, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo DaVinci, Galileo Galelei, etc.) is more intelligent than Richard Dawkins.

        By the way, umm Bilqis . . . What is a “militant atheist?” I have never heard of anyone ever blowing himself up on a bus full of commuters or in a hotel lobby full of guests (or in a train station, or in an embassy, or in a police station, or in a marketplace, or in a polling place, or in a . . . .), yelling, “There is no God!” If you can give me ONE example of a truly “militant” atheist, I will be truly amazed. Give me two examples, and I will give you extra credit. You might want to look-up the work “militant” in a dictionary before you respond.

        Salaam and Good night. I’m going to bed.

        Carlos

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      • umm Bilqis

        Sure Carlos,
        I heard Adam Deen use that term to refer to atheists that are virulent in their hatred of all religion, by the way I didn’t say terrorist atheists!

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      • umm Bilqis

        Carlos,
        Just for the record as journalist John Pilger argues that states that are secular humanist in constitution are responsible for more deaths then any religion out there at this time. Second, our religion espouses peace for those that are peaceful towards us and resistance to oppression.

        Islam tells the oppressors don’t oppress and tells the common man don’t cringe.

        P.S there is no Islamic state at the moment, there are countries ruled by puppet tyrants who are backed by western countries and their legislation is not Shariah.

        Now do I think that some misguided folk who have responded to aggression upon them in an inappropriate fashion? Yes! it happens all the time just as it happened in Ireland but no one held the Christian faith in question for the actions of some Catholics or other Protestants. (By the way, we Muslims believe that the religions of Christianity and Judaism have had their scriptures corrupted).Nor do I hold our beloved prophet Isa (Jesus), the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him, responsible for the actions of Secular Humanist state thugs who have spread carnage, insecurity and fear around the world!

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  27. Ghareeb_fidunya

    My comment has been stuck in moderation for almost a day (maybe because I gave a link in it near the end), could it either be posted or explained to me why the hold up?

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    • Amad

      Please post any direct questions related to interpretations used in the article to Imam Zaid on his blog.
      w/s

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    • Umm Bilqis

      Jazak’Allah Khairan,
      Insha’Allah the U.S will go back to being the little republic that it was meant to be, as well as the policy of Splendid Isolationism. I hope the real Super power of the world the Muslim Ummah will gain a back bone.
      Insha’Allah Ya Rab Ameen! Allah is the Greatest!!!! WAA Islaaamahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

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  28. Carlos

    Amad,

    Thank you for recommending Dr. Laurence Brown’s articles.

    The first one argues that the universe is so complex that it could not have formed by random chance. He gives the analogy of setting-off a bomb in a junkyard and expecting the debris to form into a perfectly functioning Mercedes. His point, obviously, is that a Mercedes had to be designed by a designer. It could not have formed through randomness. I will agree with him that the Mercedes was certainly the product of design. His arguments have a kind of satisfying common sense to them. You could be satisfied with the design idea, stop thinking about it after that, and then make the leap to trying to figure-out what the designer wants from you. Or you could keep asking questions, and dig deeper.

    The universe is not a Mercedes. So far as I can “see,” the universe is made-up of galaxies, black holes, nebulae, stars, planets, etc. These are just large, spinning, revolving, moving, exploding and coalescing collections of matter. There is nothing terribly complex about them. I would not say they are in a state of complete chaos either. The matter takes shape, but that shape is determined simply by the laws of physics. For example, a planet forms into a sphere because, in the vacuum of space, matter is drawn to other matter by gravity. The more matter coalesces, the more massive the mass becomes. As it becomes bigger, its gravitational pull becomes greater. When a collection of matter is more than a few hundred kilometers in diameter, it starts to become so “heavy” that its mass starts to collapse on itself, flattening out, or, more accurately put, rounding out. The “heavenly” bodies then move and interact with each other, again using the laws of physics, such as gravity, centrifugal force, centripetal force, etc. Their movements are predictable if you understand the physics.

    But Dr. Brown is also talking about the complexity of life, implying that such complexity could only be designed by a designer. But design is not the only alternative to randomness. A brilliant person by the name of Darwin introduced us the theory of natural selection. Life, as we see it today is indeed impressively complex. But it did not start out that way. The first life was probably something akin to bacteria or algae. I have seen microscopic images of both; fascinating, but not overly complex looking. Life that was well-suited to survival and reproduction continued and multiplied. Life that was not did not. Evolving into more complex life forms sometimes created survival and reproductive advantages. Over billions of years, some forms of life became increasingly more complex. When a natural process has that much time to work with, the results can be extraordinary.

    The human brain is one of the most impressive accomplishments of the process of evolution. It has been able to do some very wonderful things, such as design the Mercedes, an excellent automobile. Brains are not unique to humans. Many lower forms of animals have them. Some of their “brains” are just a collection of nerves, the main purpose of which is to tell the body parts how to move. Some animals, such as dogs, pigs (sorry), chimpanzees and dolphins, actually have very advanced brains, able to learn and obey commands. Humans’ brains are just at a higher stage of evolution than the brains of those other animals. The human brain is still a work in progress, though. It is an imperfect computer trying hard to make sense of its own existence, and doing the best it can. When it uses scientific methods to learn, it finds that the universe starts to make a little more sense that it did before. When it uses other methods, such as religion, I would argue that it does not improve its ability to predict natural phenomena, and, in fact, actually clouds its understanding of the universe.

    Dr. Brown’s argument that, without design, there is only chaos is not convincing to me. Neither is his argument that randomness is the only and obvious alternative to design.

    Carlos

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    • Amad

      We’ll try to get Dr. Brown to respond… if not, his website contact may be the best option.
      thanks.

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    • Swarth Moor

      It is not merely the matter of complexity that points to the existence of the Creator; it is the existence of any created entity that points to the existence of the Creator. Existence (of any temporal entity) requires a Creator–since things cannot give themselves their own attributes. The earth did not give itself its properties. And the minute particles that compose the earth did not give themselves their properties. Likewise, the various “accidents”–incidental properties (e.g. shape, size, composition, mass, location, duration, etc.)–did not designate themselves with their attributes. And what some call the “laws of physics”, likewise, did not give themselves their properties. The world, being originated and designated with various attributes (as opposed to other various attributes–or non-existence), requires the existence of One who is not originated and not designated with anything. Hence, the One Who created everything is not similar to or in need of anything.

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      • Carlos

        Swarth Moor, thank you for taking a crack at addressing my argument. It takes intellectual courage to engage in debate with someone who does not share all of your beliefs.

        Your argument boils down to this . . . objects and natural laws did not give themselves their own characteristics. Therefore, they must have been created by someone. You are making an assumption that something must be “given” an attribute. You are assuming that attribute cannot just develop naturally or exist by default. That is quite an assumption you make, and, I think, an unfounded one.

        You are using “God” as a default answer for what science has not yet been able to discover. Isn’t that just a little too easy? I think that is an intellectually lazy thing to do.

        The more science discovers, the farther back into obscurity this “creator” retreats. This creator you describe would have to be so amazing that his/her/its existence would be obvious to any observer. Why would this creator create the universe and us, then hide from us? Is he just testing us? Why would a loving deity do that? He is loving, isn’t he? If this god can create and change objects and natural laws on a whim, why does everything we observe maintain a constant state and reliably follow predictable natural laws? Where are the miracles? Why make the universe so incredibly huge, and then just put your chosen life form on one tiny planet? What is the creator doing with the rest of space? Is it all just a colossal waste of space? Are there life forms on other planets in other solar systems or in other galaxies? If so, why are they not mentioned in the Quran? If the Quran is written by such an omniscient being, and is his final revelation, why does it make no mention of anything outside the Middle East, or of technologies and scientific facts we know today? Why would such an amazing being concern himself with what we eat or how much clothing a woman can wear? Why would this god provide no real evidence of her own existence, and then write a book telling non-believers how evil they are for not believing in her? Why is she so jealous?

        Here is another question: The Quran constantly scolds non-believers for rejecting Islam. I have been picking pages at random, and each page seems to be the same thing, trying to scare people with the dire consequences of not believing what the writer is saying. But before the Quran was written, how could a non-believer read it and become a Muslim? That doesn’t seem fair of God. In the U.S., we call that an ex post facto law, which is unconstitutional. By the way, the only mention of religion in the U.S. Constitution is that holders of government office need NOT take an oath of loyalty to any religion, and that the government may NOT establish any religion as the state religion. Anyone who says this is a Christian country is not talking about law or government.

        Please at least understand, my fellow humans, who happen to profess the Muslim faith, that intelligent people who were not raised in your tradition have little reason to believe all the same things you do. Practice your religion if you want, as is your right, but do not hold it against others when they do not see things your way. It does not mean you are morally superior to all non-believers. We have the right to live as we see fit, and to seek truth in our own way. We have the right to live life free of any constraints that your religion or any religiion would seek to place upon us.

        Happy Thanksgiving (although I am not sure to whom I should be giving thanks).

        Carlos

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      • Swarth Moor

        Carlos,

        You mentioned many points–i will respond to a few, God-willing. There is something (i.e., the univerese) as opposed to nothing. The various entites and their properties/actions are either necessarily existent or they are not. Given that they are brought into being (originated), in a constant state of flux, and subject to annihilation, then they are not necessarily existent–hence, existence or non-existence is equally possible for them (rationally speaking), and given that things are (as opposed to not), and they are one way (as oppose to another), then there must necessarily be One (the Eternal Creator) who favored these entites/properties/actions with existence and their modality over other possibilites for them. (Regarding a thing “developing” its attributes, it means that the thing did not have “x-attribute” and then later gained “x-attribute.” Since a thing cannot exist prior to its existence, it cannot “develop” itself.)

        Western materiaistic “science” and empiricism simply show the complexity of the world–it cannot negate the existence of the Creator. Afterall, scientific materialism concerns itself with the things it can observe. God is not observable. God is not something of time/space–for time/space are originated, and God was and time and space were not. What we see are the indications of God’s existence. One of the Divine Names of God, incidentally, is Adh-Dhaahir (the One’s Whose existence is evident).

        Scientific materialism demonstrates a vast array of customary patterns in the universe–but those patterns in and of themselves did not bring themselves into being, or arrange themselves, or give themselves their properties (or “develop” themselves). Materialism ultimately gets lost on a long chain of causation. The acorn grows into an oak, for instance, because… and then the materialist proceeds down a long list of causes to account for the transformation of the acorn into the tree–all the while failing to recognize that the entity (the acorn) and all its associated properties themselves all require a Creator. That is, the properties of the acorn, such as growth, are not inherent in the acorn itself (for many acorns do not grow), and the acorn does not give itself its own properties–nor do the particles that compose the acorn give themselves their properties.

        Materialism, for instance, cannot give an account of the reality of the human mind–the very faculty by which it (science) attempts to understand the world around it. Given that science doesn’t have a full grasp of the tool it is working with, it will not understand the immensity and complexity of the universe–much less the One Who brought the universe into being. (Also, no one has ever observed, for instance, the mind of Gary Kasparov, but we know he possesses a mind/intellect, for his behavior (on the chess board, for example) indicates he is a being possessing will and knowledge. Likewise, we don’t see the Creator, but we see the acts of the Creator throughout creation–hence, we know God has Knowledge and Will. Seeing the thing itself isn’t the only way we recognize its existence.)

        I believe most of the other points you raised weren’t directly related to the existence of God. Regarding life, we say that the universe is filled with living beings. Regarding God creating belief and disbelief and condemning the disbelievers to Hell, well, we are God’s property. God is not unjust in the treatment of His (no gender intended) property and does with His property whatever He wills. God does not owe us anything. God doesn’t owe us a breath of air, a morsel of food, or a sip of water–that also means God doesn’t owe us guidance.

        With Allah is the success

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      • Carlos

        Swarth Moor,

        I do not think the fact that the universe exists is proof that there is a creator. You make that assumption, but, again, I do not think the assumption I justified. You say things are the way they are because a creator wanted them to be that way. I say things are the way they are because, if they were any other way, they would be that other way instead. You say that nothing can exist prior to its existence. But nothing brings itself into existence. Everything is brought into existence by what preceded it. If one goes back far enough in time, one might come to a point where one asks what started it all. I admit I do not know, with confidence, the answer to that. Despite your confident claim of knowledge about that matter, I do not think you do either. I think the Big Bang theory makes sense, as we can observe, through the doppler shift, that most “heavenly” bodies are moving away from each other, as though they exploded out from a common source. You might then take one step farther back, and say that Allah ignited the Big Bang. Of course, you would have no evidence of that. You say Allah is not of this universe. Did he enter this universe that one time, when he was creating it, and then never came back? If he was simply involved in causing the initial blast, why has he not intervened in the universe since then? Has he? What proof do you have?

        We know from astronomy, geology and biology that the universe is billions of years old. How old does the Quran say the universe is? The Quran incorporates the creation narrative from the Bible, does it not? The Bible gives the names of the ancestors of Jesus, going back to what the Bible says was the first person, Adam. But the number of human generations mentioned only goes back about six thousand years. How does one who believes in the Biblical creation story explain this? Is our knowledge of astronomy, geology and biology completely flawed?

        You refer to materialistic science as “Western.” While I appreciate you crediting Western Civilization with being the source of scientific inquiry, science cannot really be called “Western,” at least any more. Scientists who use scientific methods are to be found all over the world, including in countries with large Muslim populations. Besides, Eastern Civilization, and specifically East Asian countries, seem to be becoming quite adept at science, and are on the forefront of science in many fields now.

        You say God is not observable, but then you also say one of God’s names is “the One Whose existence is evident.” Which is it? Those are contradictory ideas. If God is so all powerful, why would he not be observable in our universe; observable in a way that is “evident” and not just in a philosophical faith-based way? Is he not able to visit us? I am sure you would scoff at the idea of Allah being unable to do anything. So if he is ABLE to do anything, why is he not observABLE? If God is not observable, how did he communicate the Quran to humanity? Someone would have had to have been able to observe and receive communications from him. If he can communicate with humans, there must be a scientific explanation for how those communications are being received. Science is better at explaining everything else we know about the universe, why is religion better qualified at explaining this particular phenomenon?

        How do you know God is not observable? Is that what it says in the Quran? Where in the Quran?

        Regarding the complexity of the human mind, I addressed, in my first posting regarding Dr. Brown’s article, that the human mind is simply an impressive development of evolution. Lower animals also have brains, ours are just more developed.

        True, Gary Kasparov is a great chess player (although he did get beaten by a computer developed by IBM scientists), and I have never observed his mind. Not that I would ever do something so inhumane, of course (atheists are moral too, in fact we tend to value human life above everything else), but I am pretty sure, however, that, if one were to crack Mr. Kasparov’s head open, one would be able to observe his brain.

        You say that we are God’s property, that he may do with us as he wants, and that he does not owe us anything, not even guidance. I thought he was supposed to be a good god. The Quran keeps referring to him as “the Merciful.” If you believe the Quran is his final revelation to humanity, then you believe that God has chosen to provide us with guidance. If he was going to guide us, surely he could have provided us with better guidance than I find in looking through the Quran. And if he could give us a book, which would be observable evidence of his existence, why could he not give us better, more apparent evidence? Books can just as easily be written by humans. Is Allah testing us? Is he going to punish us if we do not pass the test? Would he not forgive and understand people, like me, who used their mind to be skeptical of things that are not provable? Would he not understand the skepticism of people raised in Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Zorastrian or atheist households and communities? If he would not, that seems completely contrary to something a merciful deity would do. You say he does not have to be fair, but the Quran says he is.

        I am not saying he is, Swarth Moor, but, if, hypothetically, you were to determine that Allah were evil instead of good, would you still worship and follow him? Why?

        I have heard Muslims (and non-Muslims) refer to an evil demon named Satan. If there is no god but God, who is this Satan? Per the description of all the dastardly things he can do, he obviously is superhuman. He has powers that sound god-like. I thought Islam was monotheist. If, as you say, God created everything, then he created Satan too. Why?

        You mention Hell, another concept that does not make sense in a universe created by a merciful deity. If I did not live up to God’s expectations, I might see why he would not allow me into Heaven. But why would he then do the cruel thing of throwing me into Hell, to be tortured for all eternity. It is not enough to reject me, he would have to torture me forever? I do not believe in Hell, so it does not scare me. There was a time in my life when I did believe in Hell. Teaching religion to young children can make them believe the most incredible things, and I was no exception. Perhaps I did not really believe in Hell so much as feared even the possibility of its existence, since the Bible (and apparently the Quran too) make it sound so terrible. I can see why believers might be terrified at the idea of questioning their religious beliefs, even in the privacy of their own minds.

        I hope you had a nice holiday. Thank you for engaging me in vigorous and enlightening debate.

        Carlos

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      • Swarth Moor

        Carlos,

        When i go into the classroom and i see a piece of paper with a drawing with stick figures, a multi-colored house, and a shining sun, i don’t spend years sitting around trying to figure out how did this paper form these images on the itslef–or how did the markers make themselves write on the paper. Without witnessing the act of the children, i know the children drew the image. Similarly, i don’t need to sit around trying to figure out how unintelligent random particles somehow arranged themselves and gave to others that which they don’t posses (such as, volition and intelligence). The senses observe the creation, and the mind knows that things can’t give themselves their own properties; hence it recognizes the existence of the Creator.

        God is not a body, does not exist in dimensions, does not change–hence, coming and going are inapplicable to Allah. Being inside or outside of the universe is likewise inapplicable to God (Allah was before the “in” and the “out”). Allah originated the universe, and it is maintained from moment to moment by the Creator. Again, as i addressed, an entity does not give itself its properties (or its existence). A rock does not make itself a rock–just as the particles that compose the rock do not make themselves. And this evident principle is applied to all temporal beings: the originated entity can’t originate itself. The universe itself is originated (for it is itself composed of originated entites) and could not have originated itself.

        Two Names of God are Adh-Dhaahir and Al-Batin. Allah’s existence is obvious (dhaahir)–as it is ingrained in the language: a doing can’t exist independent of a doer. Building can’t exist independent of a builder–creating/a creation cannot exist independent of a Creator. Allah is Al-Baatin–that is, God’s Reality can’t be fathomed by the mind. That is not a weakness on God’s part, but on the inherent limitation of the mind. We can only imagine things that exist within the dimensions of space and time. Space and time are the property of God, and God was (before the creations) and space and time were not. So God’s existence is obvious by the observable signs in the creations–but His Reality can’t be reached by the mind. That contains no contradiction.

        Regarding God’s Power, it is related to what is possible. God’s Power is not related to the impossible, for it would contradict God’s Oneness, Perfection, and Eternality (such as, believing God incarnated into an infant, or became weak, or subjugated by a creation, or occupies space/direction, or any other such absurdities). What can’t exist doesn’t exist–such as, semantical sophistries, like square circles, and daughters giving birth to their mothers.

        Science is restricted to the field for what it was developed: namely, the observation of created phenomena–based upon the weak and limited senses of the human beings (and the likewise weak and limited tools humans make). God is not a created phenomenon; hence, one can’t observe the Reality of God. Instead, one can study the creation, learn from it, and understand that everything points to the existence of the Eternal One Who originated and maintains everything.

        Regarding the Communication of God, Allah sent Prophet who have a “faculty” beyond what common human beings have. Just as the blind don’t have the right to deny the faculty of sight, common human beings don’t have the right to deny the “faculty” of Prophethood. Lastly, a person has to submit to the fact that God owns everything–and is not obligated to do anything (this is, what Islam essentially means: submission to Allah’s Will and Orders). God cannot possibly be unjust, for no one can order, prohibit, or threaten Him. Injustice is to violate the rights of others. The creations have no rights upon God. So whatever Allah endows upon us is out of His Mercy and Generosity–and whatever Allah afflicts us with is out of His Justice. This is the reality of human existence. Muslims submit to it, and disbelievers don’t.

        P.S. I believe i said that you can’t see Kasparov’s MIND–i didn’t say his BRAIN. Even if one were to perform surgery on his skull and one could see his brain, it would not entail seeing his mind. The point remains: we can’t see each other’s minds, but because we see volition and intelligence from other people, we conclude that people have minds. Hence, seeing a thing is not the only criterion for a thing’s existence.

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  29. Bilal15

    I believe that Imam Zaid is sincere and well-meaning in his response to the tragedy, but
    he was struggling to get beyond his own somewhat narrow perspective. The introduction of his piece is an immediate “turn-off”. Generally, I found the piece confusing and ultimately evasive and even in places pushing the “victimization” approach. It is clear that Imam Zaid Shakir considers the Muslim community to be a nation that happens to dwell in a non-Muslim country. That they happen to be here under the power of apparently benign non-Muslims. Why not argue to that Muslims should not be drawn into violence against this country because their faith traditions want them to be faithful and loyal American citizens and not simply because they’re trying to avoid bringing harm to other Muslims? I’m not offended that Imam Zaid is so pragmatic here, just that the basis of his pragmatism ought to be that Muslims take responsibility for their presence here (he writes as if they just happen to be here under the power of this seemingly benign but restive beast) and take responsibility for the safety and well-being of their fellow citizens — Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I agree with him that no group has the right to expose Muslims to danger with provocative acts, but what I find disturbing is that twice he makes statements implying that Muslim terrorists do not realize that that is what they are doing.

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  30. Ilene Kent

    I found this site through Twitter and am a Jewish-American middle aged woman. I found this article to be extremely objective and well though out. I think the issue — as with our Baruch Goldsteins — is that when the violence occurs, the perpetrator invokes the name of the religion and that’s where people in our country get all bolluxed up and can’t see the forest for the trees. AND, this situation points to yet another similarity between American Muslims and Jews — we are both often times misunderstood (if we controlled all the money, then I was left out) and scapegoating. So, peace, salaam, shalom.

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  31. BILL POTTER

    SO YOU SAY THE AMERICAN WAR MACHINE IS THE SINGLE GREATEST THREAT WHAT ABOUT RADICAL ISLAM?? THE TAKE OVER A DESTROY RELIGION IT IS WELL DOCUMENTED AND THE AMERICA PEOPLE WILL WAKE UP SOMEDAY SOON AND YOUR MOSK WILL BE CLOSED AND YOU WILL BE SENT BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY.THE AMERICAN WAR MACHINE IS IN THE MUSLIM COUNTRY’S TO KEEP THE WAR OVER THERE.WHAT THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT FAILS TO SEE IS THE WAR IS HERE IN THE STATES.THATS WHY THE PEOPLE ARM THEM SELVES.THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT MAY BE IDIOTS BUT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE NOT .AND BIG CHANGE FOR YOU WILL COME AT THE LAST MINUTE.

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  32. Carlos

    Does Dr. Brown not wish to address my criticisms of his articles? I would welcome anything he could say to try to weaken my own arguments. If my arguments are weak, I want to know that. Again, the beauty of being atheist is that I want to learn anything that can be demonstrated or at least reasonably hypothesized, even if it is contrary to what I already believe.

    Atheists do not fear evidence or contrary views. If Mohammad were to fly down from heaven on his winged horse tomorrow, look at me with his invisible face, hand me a Quran, tell me to read and obey it, and then Allah were to yell, from Heaven, “Carlos, I am Allah, and you must worship me,” I would then say: “I am a Muslim!” I would be the first person to then grab a prayer rug, put on a dumb-looking hat, start growing a ridiculously-long beard, cover my wife in a depressing black robe and hijab (whether she wants it or not), and buy plane tickets to Mecca. Something tells me, however, that Mohammad will not be visiting me any time soon, or anyone else for that matter.

    No, Amad, I do not wish to visit Dr. Brown’s website. If he does not want to communicate with me, I do not want to pressure him to.

    Bill Potter is barely literate. It is difficult to even understand what he is saying. His spelling of “mosque” is hilarious.

    We are supposed to be talking about the Fort Hood “tragedy,” are we not? I did give some comments about that, but, Amad, you considered them unnacceptable. Hasan may have been mentally unstable, but, without some of the more warlike verbiage from the Quran, it is unlikely he could have found the moral justification to shoot his unarmed comrades. Bad people need no excuse to be bad. Only religion can make good people do bad things.

    “Science flies you to the Moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

    Peace,

    Carlos

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  33. Carlos

    Bill, are you a native English speaker? With a name like “Bill,” one would think you are American. Your misspellings, however, lead me to believe you were born somewhere where English is not well understood . . . like Kentucky. Ouch!

    Sorry Kentuckians. I was just kidding. Your state is beautiful, especially Red River Gorge. Kentuckians are very loving people . . . with their cousins. Ouch! JUST KIDDING!

    Sorry to be such a jerk to you, Bill. You seem like a decent guy, until you say stuff like “THE WAR IS COMMING” and “BIG CHANGE WILL COME FOR YOU.” Are you trying to scare our Muslim hosts on their own website? If our Muslim friends are hospitable enough to post your comments, you should at least make an effort to be hospitable back, and not say things that sound physically threatening to them. Really, Bill, scaring people to try to achieve a political objective? That’s like something a Muslim would do. Ouch!

    Enough picking on Bill. I have good news for you, my Muslim hosts. Allah says you do not have to listen to my annoying comments . . .

    “And do not obey the infidels nor the hypocrites nor be influenced by their views or notions and pay no attention to their insults and annoyances and put your trust in God and enough is God to be your tutelary Guardian Who exercises protecting vigilance over you.” Al Ahzab 48.

    There it is, in the Quran, in black and white. You may safely go back to your praying, and not have to worry about the doubts my comments might raise in your minds about your beliefs. I’m just an stupid infidel. Ignore my annoyances.

    I knew the copy of the Quran that I bought in Cairo would come in handy some day. I bought it in 2000, when I still had a naive respect for Islam and religion. I actually wanted to learn something about Islam. Silly me. I learned, in 2001, that religion, especially Islam, is absolutely unworthy of any respect.

    Love,

    Carlos

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  34. BILL

    NO I WENT TO A DALLAS SCHOOL. ALL YOU DO IN A DALLAS SCHOOL IS FIGHT.AND THE TEACHERS RUN SCARED.I’M NOT TRYING TO SCARE ANY ONE THE WAR THATS COMMING IS FACT.ITS OK TO BE A JERK IF THATS WHAT YOU LIKE.I DON’T WORK ANY MORE I LIKE LOOKING AT THESE GOOFY WEB SIGHTS BECAUSE I’M BORED.I’M GOING TO BUY ACOPY OF QURAN MAYBE I WILL LEARN SOMETHING.

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  35. Afghani Muslim

    In warfare aren’t we Muslims allowed to lie and decieve the enemy? (who are at war with us) I dont think the US is at war with the muslims, so this guy is a murderer, but if someone else was couldn’t we Muslims lie and decieve to kill military combatants (and not civilians of course) ?

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    • ibnmasood

      In Islamic law, the ends do not justify the means, and justice is not predicated on creating a paradise on earth, whether that paradise is an imagined future or a recaptured past. The Islamic law of war has often come to be ignored, sadly, in the name of a totalitarian mindset which seeks to crush everything in its path for the sake of achieving its ultimate ends. According to such a view, compassion, nobility, beauty, and fairness are all to be sacrificed and then somehow recaptured later when the fighting ends.

      Therefore no, you cannot lie in order to achieve a world with honesty and truth. If your life is in danger (or your loved ones, etc), you can lie and actually should lie to protect life. To lie in order to kill life is preposterous. I wonder if you actually read the article…

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  36. Carlos

    Okay, Amad. I took your advice, and got a copy of “Who Speaks for Islam?” Thank you, again, for recommending that book. I will give it a fair reading, with an open mind (of course), and see if I learn anything new. I already started reading it, and, I admit, a couple of the statistics surprised me. Maybe I’ll give you a book report when I finish it.

    While we are recommending books, I will return the favor. I recommend “The God Delusion,” by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins addresses and analyzes just about every argument for or against the existence of God. It is fascinating reading, regardless of what your current beliefs might be.

    I am sorry if some of my criticisms have been a little “rough.” Sometimes I get emotional about this subject. Sometimes I am just trying to be a little humorous, not always successfully. I am impressed with how civil the discussion has remained, despite the sensitivity of the subject matter.

    Have a good long holiday weekend, everyone. Drive safely.

    Yours,

    Carlos

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    • Bill

      Carlos,

      Jumping in on your post about ““Who Speaks for Islam?.” I have read the book and a couple of observations:

      1) I viewed it as more of an opinion piece
      2) States Christian terrorism is more prevalent but only offers Timothy Mcveigh who we all know did not expouse Christianity for his motivation. They did not mention one other instance nor offer any other names
      3) The authors were caught afterwards and admitted to changing the criteria of several of the polls once the results were in. Statistical speaking that invalidates the polls. It is tantamount to cheating getting a statistic to lie for you. One in particular was deciding who a radical was by asking them about 911. In this case they originally found that their definition of a radical would have shown close to1/3 of the Islamic world as radical. They changed the criteria and the number came down to 94 million. Still not a very reassuring number
      4) They use the term “Moderate Muslim” but never tells us what one is in any clear terms
      5) They explain Muslims want freedom like we do and list off a bunch of things. The one thing they leave off and make very little mention of is freedom of religion. They also fail to mention that all those freedoms listed are actually contigent upon submission to Islam. Go read the Cario Declaration of Human Rights and you will notice its sole source is Sharia law
      6) They liberally use the term “myth” but never back it up with evidence explaining so
      7) It is all the West’s fault yet ignores historical actions and scriptural basis demonstrating a clear animosity of Muslims toward the West. It is why Yusuf al-Qaradawi continually asks for the West to apologize for the Crusades but completely ignores the fact they were a direct response to over 500 years of Islamic conquests that conqured 2/3 of the know Christian world. It is why the Islamic world obsesses on Israel yet ignores a true genocide in which over 2 million Sudanese have died since the early 90’s

      While I laud the effort I largely saw it as a piece to fit Islam into a mold for American consumption. It simply ignores the other aspect of the conflict that being the negative predisposition Islamic ideology places on every non Muslim. It is kind of hard to get along when Islamic ideology inherently describes you as a threat and an enemy of their faith. When your trying to rectify a conflict if you don’t address both sides it will always end in a failure. The book has great intentions but is one sided and I would dare to say borderline apologetics. It would have been great if they asked a simple question “why is alright for Muslims to convert others but not the other way around.”

      Thx
      Bill

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      • Bill

        Carlos,

        I am not the other Bill on this post who posted in bold. I think you can see that from my writing. I was never an A student in English, despite it being my native tongue, but I don’t completely botch it up either!

        Thx
        Bill

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  37. Swarth Moor

    Just curious, is the “Shawkani” that Shakir quoted the infamous Zaydi-Shia that has become popular recently in some circles?

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  38. Carlos

    Everyone, Dr. Brown did not respond to my critique of his article, “The Big Questions (Part I),” but Swarth Moor gave a very thoughtful response to my critique. See above. Thank you, Swarth Moor.

    Carlos

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  39. Carlos

    Thank you, Swarth Moor, for an excellent and vigorous debate. You made me think quite a bit.

    Peace.

    Carlos

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  40. Liz

    such a terrible massacre on our own USA from a USA troop who lived and benefited from the USA.
    Under no circumstances is this acceptable, OK, good or acceptable. Nor is it to be glorified in the least.
    This person who shot his own troops is out of his mind. But therapy is too late for him. The death penalty will be his last stop.
    Living here all my life in the USA, I would never think 911 would happen let alone a slaughter at the biggest base for our troops in America.
    May God have mercy on his soul.

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  41. Stinger

    Salaam,

    I don’t mean to offend any faith group but did you guys notice how differently the Robert Clemmens case is being treated than this one. Clemmens shot and killed four police officers in Washington State, he had previously claimed to be Jesus and a devout Christian. Not only that, he was pardoned by the self proclaimed, Right-Wing Conservative Christian Mike Hukabee while in prison after saying he’d become a good Christian. Soon after he gunned down the officers. What do you guys make of this?

    This is from the Huffington Post:

    http://tiny.cc/slczn

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