Who Speaks for Islam? Part 3b: Jihad, Religion & Politics

| Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3a | Part 3b |Part 4 | Part 5 |

What about Islam and Jihad?

The term jihad is a loaded term with multiple and conflicting meanings. It was used for the Afghan resistance, and since then for every struggle involving Muslims fighting resistance and liberation as well as extremism and terrorism (Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir, Bali, Gaza, etc.). The Bin Ladens, along with many non-Muslims ironically, conflate jihad with a Muslim holy war against unbelievers. But many observant Muslims will deny that link, but point to the Crusades as the origin of “holy wars.”

To most Muslims, jihad implies honor and sacrifice for others, even when interpreted military, it comes with many conditions, including the writ against targeting civilians. Using jihad and terrorism as synonyms is wrong and counterproductive, and the meaning of Jihad to Muslims is much more nuanced than what many Western commentators invoke.

Religion & Politics: Yesterday and Today

While people find linking of religion and politics in Islam as being peculiar, it belies history throughout which politics and religion have been linked. Judaism’s King David and King Solomon conquered and settled at the behest of God, Christianity’s kings and emperors were crowned by the Pope and fought crusades for expansion. Hinduism’s kings upheld “divine order” and used the doctrine of dharma to support the caste system.

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In recent decades, religion has been used in wars of liberation and for terrorism throughout the world: Muslim Bosnians, Christian Serbs, Catholic/Protestants Irish, Muslims and Jewish fundamentalists in Israel/Palestine, etc.

Religion and Suicide Terrorism

Is religion a key precipitator of such terrorism?

The best research on this has been done by Robert Pape (referred to sometime ago on MM), author of Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism:

The central fact is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorists attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every major suicide-terrorist campaign-more than 94% of all the incidents-has had its central objective to compel a democratic state to withdraw. [Source: Interview on The American Conservative]

However, both religious and secular groups often frame their terrorist acts within a powerful religious context: Tamil Tigers using Hindu identity against Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Hamas using Islamic identity, even Al-Aqsa Martyrs, a secular militia using Islam, etc. Although suicide attacks seem to evoke Hamas as the originator, the most devastating suicide attack was against the US Marine barracks in 1983, killing 241 US soldiers, motivated by Hezbollah with the attackers belonging to diverse religious backgrounds. In Lebanon attacks since the 80s, attackers have included 8 Muslim “fundamentalists”, 3 Christians, and 27 communists/socialists.

Pape’s research also concluded that two-thirds of al-Qaeda suicide terrorists from ’95 to ’04 were from countries where the US had a heavy presence of troops since 1990. There was no suicide terrorism in Iraq before the invasion and occupation. But it was used by both Shias and Sunnis in their sectarian conflicts and in trying to end US occupation.

What do Muslims say about Western countries and Leaders?

While political radicals are more negative than moderates in their opinions about the West as a whole, stark differences exist between views about individual countries in the West. France and Germany have unfavorable levels of only about 25%, while UK is at 68% and US at 84% unfavorable. Similarly, 90% of political radicals and 62% moderates have absolute dislike for Bush. The number drops to 70% and 43% for Blair, and drops to minority levels at 39% and 24% for Chirac.

Furthermore, the US is considered “aggressive” by 81% of radicals, 67% of moderates, while only 8-9% of radicals and moderates see France or Germany as aggressive. So, in conclusion the data obliterates the suggestion that radicals or for that matter, the average Muslim, holds some overwhelming blind hatred for all of West and all of Western culture.

How is America viewed specifically?

Not very kindly of course. While America’s stated policy is to promote democracy, a sizable chunk of the Muslim/Arab population isn’t buying it. About 50% moderates are skeptical about this official US policy statement, while 72% of political radicals don’t buy it.

Muslims’ skepticism is based on what they believe are double-standards exhibited by the US on democracy and human-rights. A politician and community leader in Nigeria remarked that US and the UN turn a blind eye towards Israel when it attacks Palestine, but when there is a counter-attack by Palestinians, it is condemned as terrorism. As a female student at American University of Cairo, a leading institute of Western education, quipped:

Bush has given Israel carte blanch to attack Palestinians and Lebanese. The war on terror is an open-ended war on Muslims.

Ultimately, the authors conclude:

For the politically radicalized, their fear of Western control and domination, as well as their lack of self-determination, reinforces their sense of powerlessness. Thus, a belief has developed among the politically radicalized that they must dedicate themselves to changing an untenable situation.

Importance of religious & cultural identity

Modern post-World War II Muslim nations’ hopes of a bright future were not grounded in the reality of having arbitrary borders drawn by European colonial powers. It placed people with historical rivalries into the same nation, a fragile process that led to later conflicts and civil wars, such as in Lebanon and Iraq.

Arab nationalism movements led to the tumbling of Western-appointed rulers. At the same time, Islamic movements such as al-Ikhwaan (Muslim brotherhood) started attracting thousands of members in various Arab countries.

The 1967 Arab defeat to the Israelis was a watershed moment for Arab pride and identity. Governments started turning to Islam as a “stay in power” strategy. Thus, since 1970s, religion and culture have become more integrated in Muslim politics and society. Religious identity is important to both political radicals and moderates, and what they most admire about themselves and their nations. But more radicals (65%) give top priority to holding on to spiritual/moral values compared to moderates (45%).

On the other hand, one of the biggest resentments for both moderates and radicals towards the West is its “disrespect for Islam”, and “improving the presentation of Islam to the West” was a top response from both groups in what the Muslim world could do to improve relations with the West.

The “war against Islam”

Across the Muslim world, the belief of a Western war against Islam and Muslims has become a popular theme, with majorities in many Muslim countries believing that US’s goal is to “weaken and divide the Islamic world”.

There is a strong fear of the appeal of Western culture in movies, music and programs that encourage permissiveness and considered as an assault on Islamic character. What Muslims resent the most was consistently answered as “sexual and cultural promiscuity”, followed by “ethical and moral corruption” and then “hatred of Muslims” for both radicals and moderates. Another source of resentment is the depiction of Muslims in Western media.While a significantly greater proportion of the political radicals cite Western cultural saturation, immorality and moral corruption as top reasons for resentment, not even a small percentage suggests that the West should “stop being immoral and corrupt” in order to improve relations with the Muslim world.

What Muslims request for better relations has nothing to do with asking people in the West to change who they are, but rather what they do: to respect Islam and Muslims and make concrete changes in certain aspects of foreign policy.

This commitment to cultural values and the fear of Western hegemony drives political radicals to be much more fearful about the threat of foreign interference in their countries, relative to moderates who are more worried about economics. This fear extends to a distrust of the West’s desire for coexistence and pessimism about the future. Radicals (50% of them) are also more committed and believe that it is “completely justifiable” to “sacrifice one’s life for something one believes in”, while 18% of moderates believe this. So, although both moderates and radicals are concerned about Western bias and interference, the greater intensity and fear that radicals have about the West makes them a more fertile ground for terrorism recruiting.

Is sympathy for terrorist acts a Muslim monopoly?

We keep hearing that Muslims support terrorism much more than other groups, despite data showing that Muslim sympathy for terrorism is NOT driven by religious reasons.

Ironically, Muslims on average are more likely to condemn attacks on civilians unequivocally than even the general American public! A recent study shows that:

Only 46% of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified”, while 24% believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified” [See poll]

Similarly, 6% of American public thinks that attacks in which civilians are targets are “completely justified”, compared to Lebanon/Iran (2%) and Saudi Arabia (4%). Muslims in Paris and London are equivalent in their justification of attacks on civilians, even for a “noble cause”.

So, why does terrorism continue to flourish in Muslim countries, despite Muslims’ rejection of terrorism?

What these results indicate is that terrorism is as much an “out group” activity as any other violent crime.

Just like violent crimes (murders, rapes, etc.) continue to occur in US doesn’t mean that Americans are fine with them; similarly the presence of terrorism is not evidence of Muslims’ acquiescence to it. The statistical data indicates the opposite.

Diagnosis or misdiagnoses

Blaming Islam for terrorism is wrong and has serious repercussion. It reinforces radicals’ views about the West’s war on Islam, and alienates the moderate majority. Bush’s use of the word crusades in describing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (what some call a Freudian slip) doesn’t help matters.

Americans and the vast majority of Muslims despise extremism. According to the polls, Americans least admire “radicalism” in the Muslim world, and similarly Muslims’ top concern about their own society is extremism. This should not be surprising since Muslims have suffered the most from terrorism. Terrorists are not glorified; they are rejected by the vast majority of Muslims.

This then is the good news, plus the fact that 90%+ Muslims are in the “easier” moderate category. The bad news is that there is a sea of misunderstandings and misperceptions that Muslims have about the West and vice-versa, as well as the presence of many politically radicalized individuals who could move either way (to moderation or to greater extremism). While many Muslims (radicals and moderates) admire the West’s technology, freedom of speech, and value of hard work, Americans when asked what they know about Muslims had two predominant responses: “Nothing”, and “I don’t know”.

There are 1.3 billion Muslims today worldwide. If the 7% (91 million) of the politically radicalized continue to feel politically dominated, occupied and disrespected, the West will have little, if any, chance of changing their minds.

Key Points:

  • The majority of respondents in predominantly Muslim countries condemn the vents of 9/11
  • The minority (7%) who condone attacks and view the US unfavorably are no more religious than the general population
  • What distinguishes political radicals from others is their perception of the West’s politics, and not its culture.

78 / View Comments

78 responses to “Who Speaks for Islam? Part 3b: Jihad, Religion & Politics”

  1. Amad says:

    it is amazing how much harm, hope not irreversible harm, that Bush’s policies have caused. If you could point to one cause for the growth of terrorism, Bush/Cheney would likely be a key figure in that discussion.

  2. awake says:

    Actually, I always find the Bush excuse as a weak one when addressing Islamic terrorism. I fail to recall the country the US was occupying just prior to 9/11 that prompted the attack by Bin Laden.

    Also, I recall an article declaring that “radicals” were originally segregated to 4’s and 5’s on the polling chart, which totalled 13.5 percent, but modified to drop the 4’s as stated below:

    “Although she and Esposito never discuss the details of this question in their book, they did expound on them in a 2006 article in Foreign Policy magazine, which described a five-point scale in which “Ones” are respondents who said 9/11 was “totally unjustified” and “Fives” those who said the attacks were “completely justified.”

    “In that article, she and Esposito wrote: “Respondents who said 9/11 was justified (4 or 5 on the same scale) are classified as radical.” In the book they wrote two years later, they redefined “radical” to comprise a much smaller group–only the Fives.”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/015/066chpzg.asp?pg=2

    If this is accurate, then at least 13.5 percent of the Muslims polled feel 9/11 was somewhat justified. Another problem is that the polling may be further skewed but only in one direction, assuming people who might have supported 9/11 didn’t answer honestly.

    One of the books authors, John Esposito is a hand picked representative of the Saudi royal family. He runs Georgetown’s middle eastern studies department and has taken a public grant of 20 million from the Saudi’s, and god only knows what he has taken privately over the years from them.

    Whatever the circumstances, an objective, non-biased observer Esposito is certainly not.

  3. Amad says:

    Welcome, awake. Surprised that it took you 4 posts in this series to throw dirt at a positive spin for Muslims. Unfortunately, this time its hard data that you can’t fight.

    If Esposito has benefited from Saudi money and makes him “biased”, then I guess then that puts Bush in a very precarious position, doesn’t it, considering that he is tight with Saudis too?? While you are quick to point out Bush-excuse as a weak one DESPITE the evidence (these are not mere opinions, but REAL data), it didn’t stop you from throwing out some of your own right-wing talking points on Saudis. The only reason that Esposito is biased to you is because he is not an Islamophobe like Spencer, who you loyally and self-admittedly support. As far as funding academic departments, you will find departments all over the country being sponsored by different entities and even countries. There are rules and regulations in place as to protect influence and independence. That is something campuswatch won’t tell you!

    As for your speculation on what the polling did or did not, then I suggest you order the book and read the last sections that go over polling methodology and structure. Before questioning the methodology, please provide any evidence for a statistical problem.

    Finally, “Partially justify” is not the same as “Completely justify”. And even if 13.5% is true, then that still makes Muslims better than average American, 24% of whom think that killing civilians is partly justified. That makes our people quite a bit more radical than Muslims, quite unfortunate isn’t it? Take that to Jihadwatch…

  4. awake says:

    “If Esposito has benefited from Saudi money and makes him “biased”, then I guess then that puts Bush in a very precarious position, doesn’t it, considering that he is tight with Saudis too??”

    Boy, it sure does. You hit the nail on the head with that one.

    “While you are quick to point out Bush-excuse as a weak one DESPITE the evidence (these are not mere opinions, but REAL data),”

    I apologize Amad, but what country was Bush invading prior to 9/11 that prompted Bin Laden’s attack? I can’t seem to find your answer in your reply.

    “it didn’t stop you from throwing out some of your own right-wing talking points on Saudis.”

    You’re right. That wasn’t fair. Saudi Arabia is a beacon of religious tolerance, as is evident by the absolute prohibition to erect Christian Churches within the country.

    “As for your speculation on what the polling did or did not, then I suggest you order the book and read the last sections that go over polling methodology and structure. Before questioning the methodology, please provide any evidence for a statistical problem.”

    that is precisely the problem Amad. The hard data you refer to simply is not presented in the book as was stated in the standard article:

    “These problems would not matter much if the book gave readers the opportunity to review the poll data on which Esposito and Mogahed base their judgments. Alas, that is not the case. Neither the text nor the appendix includes the full data to a single question from any survey taken by Gallup over the entire six-year period of its World Poll initiative. We, the readers, either have to pay more than $20,000 to Gallup to gain access to its proprietary research or have to rely on the good faith of the authors.”

    That in itself is a valid indictment in my opinion, coupled with the skewing of their own numbers, admitted by the authors, there is nothing hateful or illogical to question the overall analysis and results.

    “Finally, “Partially justify” is not the same as “Completely justify”. And even if 13.5% is true, then that still makes Muslims better than average American, 24% of whom think that killing civilians is partly justified.”

    Agreed, they are not the same, but by the author’s own admission, the “partially justify” group really isn’t so moderate at all.

    As far as the other poll, I fail to see the correlation. Who as Americans were polled? American Muslims? Who?

    “That makes our people quite a bit more radical than Muslims, quite unfortunate isn’t it?”

    Our people? Who might that be? non-Muslim Americans or Americans in general? Aren’t you an American Muslim?

    Finally, regarding the data. If the figure of “radicals” can be estimated at 13.5% or even higher, then potentially, radicals can total around 200 million worldwide, or roughly 2/3’s the size of the US population. This is still a relatively small percentage of the world’s Muslims, but not an insignifigant number in the least.

  5. awake says:

    From the original article that I linked:

    “These problems would not matter much if the book gave readers the opportunity to review the poll data on which Esposito and Mogahed base their judgments. Alas, that is not the case. Neither the text nor the appendix includes the full data to a single question from any survey taken by Gallup over the entire six-year period of its World Poll initiative. We, the readers, either have to pay more than $20,000 to Gallup to gain access to its proprietary research or have to rely on the good faith of the authors.”

    There is no “hard-data”, Amad.

  6. Amad says:

    There is “hard-data”. Access and presence are two separate things. Get the dang book, and review the methodology and system of survey. That is what I was talking about. You asked as to how the poll was done, I am telling you that it’s in the book.

    The Saudi issue is a red-herring that right-wing neocons like to throw in every argument when what they are saying has no merit. The book is not about Saudis. The “guilt by association” trick from the Republican playbook is getting boring and quite old. Neocons and Israel lobbyists continue to use that but it is falling on deaf ears. You can only fool people with the same trick so many times.

    Finally, READ the post carefully, before asking silly questions. Refer to the section on “Muslims don’t have monopoly in justifying terrorism”.

    Only 46% of Americans think that “bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” are “never justified”, while 24% believe these attacks are “often or sometimes justified”

    24% Americans!

    As for your last point, go back to the concluding sentence in the article:

    There are 1.3 billion Muslims today worldwide. If the 7% (91 million) of the politically radicalized continue to feel politically dominated, occupied and disrespected, the West will have little, if any, chance of changing their minds.

    Instead of harping on how bad things are, why not consider the motivations and causes of it. Let’s stop the terrorism of Israel for starters. Let’s stop the neocon wars and the support of dictators. Let’s stop being hypocrites in our policies. And surely then will we prevent more of the 7% from shifting towards radicalism in ACTION, not just beliefs. Before pointing fingers at the “results”, let’s review what is pushing people towards the hatred of USA, and towards political radicalism.

    To repeat myself: Its politics, not piety (Islam) stupid.

  7. Siraaj says:

    Awake,

    The problem with your statements, and that of Robert Satloff (from the article quoted) is that it assumes that anyone who finds any justification in the 9/11 acts defines one as a radical. Satloff calls it a smoking gun that Mogahed decided not to cluster 4s with 5s because they were closer in other ways to the 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s than the 5s.

    You have a problem of definition – your definition of a radical is simply, if someone can see the point of view and understand in some way the actions of the 9/11 hijackers, they are then radical. If that is the case, then to be consistent, we ought to say that anyone who takes out a military target in spite of the loss of innocent lives (or as your people call them, collateral damage) and any who sympathize with them in any way is a radical, in which case I would say the biggest radicals, who are perpetrators of radical Democro-fascism (here’s a democracy, but if we don’t like your leaders, we’ll destroy them and put another puppet in place), is the United States federal gov’t.

    The answer to your question to Amad is that at the time, the US was occupying Saudi Arabia at the behest of the Saudi gov’t (which the rest of the Muslim world did not care for). The US was and continues to support Israel against the Palestinian people, even as the rest of the UN democratically (ironically enough) condemns Israel and her actions against the Palestinians, the US is ready to veto anything and everything anti-Israel. They are also willing to put in much in the way of military aid as well.

    At that time, the US was also sanctioning Iraq from the rest of the world, with daily air raids to bomb Iraq back to the stone ages. 500,000 Iraqi children lost their lives as result of those sanctions, and 1.5 Million people also died. Bush Jr. did not start those sanctions, but he continued the policy of his father and Bill Clinton.

    The US was also sanctioning and starving out the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan at the time as well.

    And returning back to my first point about puppet dictators, the US gov’t is in the habit of supporting dictatorships and farcical puppet democracies in the Muslim world when it suits its own interests.

    This is a fractional sampling of the stupidity of US foreign policy. It’s unfair to target Bush alone because he is not the only perpetrator in this problem – if anything, foreign policy gaffes seem bipartisan.

    Siraaj

  8. awake says:

    Amad,

    If Robert Spencer took a poll and without releasing the raw data wrote a book about it stating that Muslims were predisposed to violence, you would treat it with the same skepticism that I am with Esposito’s book. Esposito’s connection to the Saudis is far from a red herring. It is consistent with his position historically, along with people like Karen Armstrong, and common knowledge.

    Most importantly, I must wholly disagree with the tu quoque argument in the contrast of the two polls. Thje data from Gallup’s poll was questioning Muslims worldwide and their attitude towards the acts of 9/11, specifically. The other poll referenced about the difference between how Iranians and Americans view each other is not an adequate direct comparison. First, as I previously stated, what type of Americans were sampled? The example that more Americans answered similarly in that poll than Muslims did in the Gallup poll does not correlate properly.

    9/11 victims were innocent civilians and a closed system. American responses sanctioning (at least somewhat) civilian collateral damage is not. The circumstances are not clear. For example, militants embedding themselves in civilians, which Hizbollah commonly engaged in in the 2006 conflict with Israel.

    That being said, I know your position on Israel and believe that it is off-topic in this particular thread. In summation, when 46% of Americans engage in violent acts to support their sentiments that the poll tried to show, your point is completely valid. Until then, it is merely a distraction from and a justification of the shoddy polling by Esposito and Mogahed.

    And also, thanks for deciding to release my last comment, Amad.

  9. awake says:

    Siraaj,

    Thanks for answering the question that I posed to Amad about US “occupation” prior to 9/11. I am puzzled as to why Bin Laden decided to attack the US because of that unholy alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, while the latter remained unscathed. Regardless, I don’t think anyone would use that fact as a justification for 9/11, would they?

    As far as the definition of “radical”, I must state that it was not my definition but rather the questioning of Mogahed and Esposito’s definition and how they arrived at it.

    The argument of US policy versus “radical” Muslims due to religious piety is a valid one. I am certainly not a fan of the Iraq democracy project (never was) and I am more than willing to accept the points you made regarding historical US foreign policy in general.

    I will not however, cede that as the sole source of this strife, as Amad would have it. From where I stand, Islam is a complete life-encompassing ideology, how to pray, to live, to interact, and legislate. Islamic law is governance by Allah’s will. Islam supercedes everything except when it is convenient to seperate it from an unfortunate situation.

    Regards.

  10. Thanks for answering the question that I posed to Amad about US “occupation” prior to 9/11. I am puzzled as to why Bin Laden decided to attack the US because of that unholy alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia, while the latter remained unscathed. Regardless, I don’t think anyone would use that fact as a justification for 9/11, would they?

    By itself, probably not. But add in the sanctions (Iraq and Afghanistan), the unconditional support for Israel, the occupation of Saudi Arabia, unprovoked missile attacks with civilian casualties in both the Sudan and Afghanistan, and numerous other incidents have likely added up against the US.

    I will not however, cede that as the sole source of this strife, as Amad would have it. From where I stand, Islam is a complete life-encompassing ideology, how to pray, to live, to interact, and legislate. Islamic law is governance by Allah’s will. Islam supercedes everything except when it is convenient to seperate it from an unfortunate situation.

    Yes, Islam is a complete way of life, but as one of our teachers taught us, you will see what you decide to focus on. If you are against Islam, then you will simply see the negative actions of the minority as representative of all of Islam. On the other hand, if you focus on the positive only, then you will see the good that Muslims do in the name of religion as representing Islam.

    I do neither because the positive or negative behavior of people neither proves a religion correct, nor does it necessarily represent the religion. Christianity and Judaism have been retroactively refitted (by men who likely didn’t receive a mandate from God) to appear in harmony with 21st century liberalism / secularism, which they are not (a cursory glance at the old testament will bear this out).

    I focus on what Islam, the religion, teaches from its sources, and I read the varying opinions on different issues and come to my own conclusions, right or wrong, based on how the case is made for particular ideas and practices. I’m openminded to changing certain areas, but it cannot and will not be based on personalities – that would be akin to rejecting catholicism as unrealistic due to the high incidence and alter boy molestation and sexual abuse.

    For example, if anyone asks me, what do you think of stoning the adulterer to death when four witnesses have witnessed the crime in a country that enforces shariah law, I would say that if the judge judges everything is in order from his end and feels that stoning must be carried out, then that stoning must be carried out. There’s no running or apologizing for the law of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. There’s no shame in it for me, because I believe it came from God, and I live to worship God, not tell Him why his laws are inhumane, nor will you see me dance around the subject.

    Can the same be said about the Children of Israel or the Christians, I wonder? We often hear the neo-con talkshows bleating about America’s Judeo-Christian underpinnings, and they go on about abortion and gay marriage, but we hear nothing about adultery, strangely enough. The Bible is unequivocal in its pronouncement about adultery in Deuteronomy – death:

    22.20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel, (unmarried women)
    22.21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die, because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house; so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
    22.22 “If a man be found lying with a woman married to a husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman and the woman; so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
    22.23 If a damsel who is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city and lie with her,
    22.24 then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones, that they die — the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city, and the man,because he hath humbled his neighbor’s wife; so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

    How about apostasy?

    12.10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die, because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
    17.2 If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman who hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God in transgressing His covenant,
    17.3 and hath gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded,
    17.4 and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it and inquired diligently, and behold, it be true and the thing certain that such abomination is wrought in Israel,
    17.5 then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman who has committed that wicked thing unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones till they die.
    17.6 At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death, but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.

    Why bring all this up? Simply to illustrate that while most Jews and Christians do not stone people to death these days, this is what their religious texts teach, so I cannot judge the content of Christianity and Judaism on the present-day implementation of its people, even if they claim their tolerance is religious.

    The same rings true for what you have said about Islam – as the worn and cliched statement goes, don’t judge the Islam by the people, judge the people by Islam. Islam is not just a few verses on Jihaad read out of context, it is also how that verse was implemented and understood by the Prophet and the his Companions of that time. It is the verses and their qualifications before and after the controversial soundbite played by Robert Spencer et al.

    So if you want to indict people, feel free, but indicting Islam the religion based on those acts is a stretch.

    Siraaj

  11. Amad says:

    If Robert Spencer took a poll and without releasing the raw data wrote a book about it stating that Muslims were predisposed to violence, you would treat it with the same skepticism that I am with Esposito’s book. Esposito’s connection to the Saudis is far from a red herring. It is consistent with his position historically, along with people like Karen Armstrong, and common knowledge.

    First of all the difference in the credibility of Spencer and Esposito is like night and day. Spencer’s only respect comes from Islamophobes, and esp. the neocons (nearly all neocons are islamophobes though all Islamophobes are not neocons). On the other hand, the only people who have a problem with Esposito are this same right-wing fringe that is destroying America’s image in the world and has taken America into many disasters, the latest being Iraq. While Esposito leads a department in one of the most prestigious universities of America, Spencer leads right-wingers and Israeli foot-soldiers in hate-mongering and intolerance-breeding.

    Secondly, if Spencer did release a poll from a respectable organization such as Pew or Gallup… organizations that are CREDIBLE and known to be such, then while I might not accept his spin on it, I would indeed accept the results. That means I would accept the percentages, and the poll numbers. These poll numbers are provided in the book, if only you would look past your colored views.

    Thirdly, as I said, receiving funding from Saudi or any other country to the DEPARTMENT (not the person) affects NOTHING. Esposito/Armstrong wrote about Islam and about Muslims well before Saudis funded a department for “studies” (not bigotry as Spencer/Pipes are engaged in). Indeed, this mud-slinging is a disgusting habit that people like you will not give up because it helps steer away the discussion from substance to innuendo.

    That being said, I know your position on Israel and believe that it is off-topic in this particular thread. In summation, when 46% of Americans engage in violent acts to support their sentiments that the poll tried to show, your point is completely valid. Until then, it is merely a distraction from and a justification of the shoddy polling by Esposito and Mogahed.

    “Shoddy polling”? Says who? You and your 10 neocon friends? Actually, neocon opinions count as much as Bush’s story on WMDs in Iraq. And, what a BS argument about 46% Americans engaging in violent acts! Do you think 7% (92 million) of the Muslims are engaging in violent acts? if they did, the world would be on fire, and your zio-con friends wouldn’t be able to stop it.

    Finally, it has become obvious that you are here only to sling mud at the authors and the credibility of a major organization, known to Americans for its veracity, the Gallup Poll. You have no other substantive discussion or argument, which is not surprising with people like you. So, unless you have SUBSTANCE, we are not going to go in circles any more because frankly it is boring and a waste of my time. I am sure jihadwatch will have plenty of space available for your mud-slinging.

  12. Amad says:

    And “awake”, if you really want to wake up to “why they hate us”, and why our nation is perceived the way it is, then I suggest you read this book. I don’t agree with everything Scheuer writes in this book, but there is a lot of truth in it:

    Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror by Michael Scheuer

  13. awake says:

    Amad,

    With all due respect, my original comment was a response to your loose statement about Bush’s foreign policy being a catalyst for US disdain and ultimately, 9/11.

    I then proceeded to provide an alternate viewpoint about the findings in this particular portion of the book and provided the link with the reasoning (and it wasn’t Robert Spencer or Jihad Watch).

    I did not want to drift off-topic, but alas, it appears that we have to a degree. I as always, have been respectful in my replies in spite of your endless name-calling of neocon and zio-con, but so be it.

    The “substance” was the peculiar alteration of excluding the 4’s from the 5’s of those polled and Mogahed’s response, and how I deemed that the authors were intentionally skewing the data (which was not provided in the book) and nothing more.

    Mogahed was responsible for the polling and Esposito provided the commentary. In my estimation for reasons I have already stated, they are not typical of empirical data gathering personnel.

    I know a bit about Michael Scheuer. He has a big fan in Bin Laden, so that tells me all I care to know about him. He indicts US policy as the sole reason for “why they hate us”.

  14. awake says:

    Siraaj,

    “If you are against Islam, then you will simply see the negative actions of the minority as representative of all of Islam. “

    I do not agree with that. There are many aspects of Islam that have sustained many people for a long time. The good aspects are largely inconsequential to non-Muslims however, and to those of a live and let live attitude. If one would be truthful, one would acknowledge that Islam wasn’t even on the radar screen in the West prior to 9/11.

    “I do neither because the positive or negative behavior of people neither proves a religion correct, nor does it necessarily represent the religion. Christianity and Judaism have been retroactively refitted (by men who likely didn’t receive a mandate from God) to appear in harmony with 21st century liberalism / secularism, which they are not (a cursory glance at the old testament will bear this out).”

    Now that is an excellent point, and arguably (again, by non-Mulsims) the center of Islam’s justification as the true religion whose text, the Qur’an, was not corrupted by man. It is true that Old Testament verses are not in harmony with what is practiced today in Judaism and Christianity.

    To me, that is a good thing, but to many, I can understand it is perceived as blasphemous. Again, a live and let live mentality or more specifically, do unto others…the Golden Rule, is what should be the prevailing wisdom in my estimation.

    “For example, if anyone asks me, what do you think of stoning the adulterer to death when four witnesses have witnessed the crime in a country that enforces shariah law, I would say that if the judge judges everything is in order from his end and feels that stoning must be carried out, then that stoning must be carried out. There’s no running or apologizing for the law of Allah subhaana wa ta’aala. There’s no shame in it for me, because I believe it came from God, and I live to worship God, not tell Him why his laws are inhumane, nor will you see me dance around the subject.”

    I fully understand your sentiment here, but here is also where I see a cause for alarm. The judge’s opinion outweighs any divine mandate, hence there are many aspects of Islam that are not specifically addressed in the Qur’an alone and subject to human interpretation and adjudication. The penalty varies according to country and circumstance.

    This is exactly what the self-professed jihadists do. They take an aspect of Islam, or a verse from the Qur’an and use it to justify their actions. It is no different in their perception. They are justified by the texts and an influential “scholar” who supports this interpretation.

    Simply labeling these people as misunderstanders of Islam or acting un-Islamically is convenient, but nearly valueless. The Qur’an, (or the Bible for that matter) doesn’t kill anybody. People who subscribe to portions of the texts and act accordingly, unfortunately do.

  15. Amad says:

    “Awake”, since when did zio-con and neocon become name-calling? This is the philosophy Spencer, Pipes and most of your friends espouse– neonconservatism, mixed with stringent Zionism. I am not sure any of those individuals would take offense with what is a relatively accurate neologism for their ideology.

    And your comment about Scheuer being a “big fan of Bin Laden” further highlights how you love to mischaracterize people in order to suppress the message. More of the right-wing trick “either you support the war in Iraq or you support terrorists”! Scheuer of course doesn’t support Bin Laden, but makes it a point to inform people such that they understand what is going on; that Bin Laden just didn’t suddenly came out of nowhere and went from being a US ally/creation to anti-US. There are root-causes for everything, and until we start understanding and recognizing root-causes, we will be far away from actually solving them. Obviously you haven’t read the book. But someday, I hope you will give your mind a chance to evaluate both sides, perhaps it will wake up to the PRESENCE of the other side, if not appreciate it.

  16. awake says:

    Amad,

    Actually, I said:

    “I know a bit about Michael Scheuer. He has a big fan in Bin Laden, so that tells me all I care to know about him. He indicts US policy as the sole reason for “why they hate us”.”

    This is evident by Bin Laden mentioning Scheuer by name in one of his manifestos. Try reading and commenting on what I actually wrote in this thread instead of erroneously labeling me a mischaracterizer on words you would have liked me to write.

    “More of the right-wing trick “either you support the war in Iraq or you support terrorists”! ”

    Patently false. Once again, in this very thread you will see that I have not supported the “democracy project” in Iraq. I think my position on “terrorists” is clear by now.

    I will certainly be open to analyzing both sides as soon as you stop paraphrasing my words and positions. If you actually read what I wrote here, I ceded US foreign policy as a contributing factor in a response to Siraaj, just not as the sole root cause.

    The jihadist ideology is derived from Islam and is declared as supported by Islam by many people. There is another root cause, but this one you seem incapable of acknowledging. It is simply easier for you to dismiss me as an Islamophobe.

    Modern US foreign policy is not an eternal monolithic entity. US imperialism did not exist before the 1950’s, so that example of the sole root cause is insufficient at best.

  17. Amad says:

    US imperialism did not exist before the 1950’s, so that example of the sole root cause is insufficient at best.

    And terrorism targeting civilians wasn’t a phenomenon that Muslims were associated with before the 50s either. Thanks for providing further evidence of the link between US imperialism and terrorism.

  18. awake says:

    Sayyid Qutb and his subsequent followers had some influence on and link to terrorism as well I am sure. That you would jump on so minute a point is quite telling, as if to purport that violence in Islam’s history began in the 1950’s as well.

    At least this time, you correctly quoted me, so I guess I should be happy with that.

  19. If one would be truthful, one would acknowledge that Islam wasn’t even on the radar screen in the West prior to 9/11.

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean here, please clarify.

    To me, that is a good thing, but to many, I can understand it is perceived as blasphemous. Again, a live and let live mentality or more specifically, do unto others…the Golden Rule, is what should be the prevailing wisdom in my estimation.

    That may be, but this simply brings me to my original point – I wouldn’t base Christianity and Judaism on its followers alone, I’d have to look at what the books teach, since people have a habit of selectively applying what they like and leaving out what they don’t like. The same book that contains the Golden Rule contains the rulings on apostasy and adultery, which demonstrates that according to the Bible, both are criminal behavior to be prosecuted in the same way that prostitution, another “victimless crime” is also considered criminal (and to this day still prosecuted). The principle of “Live and Let Live” may be how people want to live, but how people want to live and how God (according to the Bible) wants them to live can be two very different things.

    So again, I reiterate, do no conflate the practice of the people with the principles of the religion – go back to the texts of that religion to see exactly what it teaches and how it is applied and understood.

    The judge’s opinion outweighs any divine mandate, hence there are many aspects of Islam that are not specifically addressed in the Qur’an alone and subject to human interpretation and adjudication. The penalty varies according to country and circumstance.

    It seems that way, but that’s because many (mis)understand that in all cases, the Islamic ruling for apostasy is death. Actually, by studying the life of the Prophet sallalllaahi wa sallim, some jurists have found evidence to show this is not always the case, as they believed that the circumstances of the individual before leaving Islam were also important (how “new” were they to Islam, did they ever “believe” to begin with, and so forth), so the flexibility you speak of is derived from the texts, not simply personal whim. This is for a country implementing Shariah – many Muslim countries do not do so and some variation you see can be accounted for as due to the country being non-shariah compliant.

    This is exactly what the self-professed jihadists do. They take an aspect of Islam, or a verse from the Qur’an and use it to justify their actions. It is no different in their perception. They are justified by the texts and an influential “scholar” who supports this interpretation.

    Simply labeling these people as misunderstanders of Islam or acting un-Islamically is convenient, but nearly valueless. The Qur’an, (or the Bible for that matter) doesn’t kill anybody. People who subscribe to portions of the texts and act accordingly, unfortunately do.

    Yes, it’s true, the Muslims waging physical jihaad against the West are doing so from an interpretation or application of the Qur’aan and Sunnah that they have chosen, so here’s my question – why are people such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, et al giving legitimacy to their interpretation by saying this is what Islam teaches? Why do they not also say, “This is an interpretation,” but this is not necessarily the only one? Why not take the intellectually honest route and instead of saying, “Muslims need to reform Islam like Christians and Jews have rejected certain aspects of their texts,” why not instead give legitimacy to other interpretations by Muslim scholars? If the goal was simply to prevent people from radicalizing, the information and tools to spread other interpretations are out there. Ironically, they don’t – they legitimize only one interpretation and say, “this is the truth of Islam.”

    I believe that the reason for all this is because this goes beyond an interpretation from one group – these people hate Islam and Muslims for deep-seated religious reasons. Some of them even see the role of the United States as destroying Islam the religion, and they are not considered fringe groups, but mainstream. Take this video of McCain’s pastor, sent to me recently through email:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXZbIGJrDkg

    I know they are intelligent to understand differences of opinion and interpretation – that they pretend that these do not exist or that they call these apologist positions and not the “real” thing demonstrates that their bias goes beyond “radical” Islam – it extends to ALL of Islam. To me, these arguments are very much like the anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion groups – people who have some area of their religion they want to implement, and so they try to find secular reasons to inject their religion beliefs into the law.

    Siraaj

  20. awake says:

    Siraaj,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean here, please clarify.

    Spencer and Pipes, for example appeared post 9/11, not prior. That is what I meant.

    I wouldn’t base Christianity and Judaism on its followers alone, I’d have to look at what the books teach, since people have a habit of selectively applying what they like and leaving out what they don’t like. The same book that contains the Golden Rule contains the rulings on apostasy and adultery, which demonstrates that according to the Bible, both are criminal behavior to be prosecuted in the same way that prostitution, another “victimless crime” is also considered criminal (and to this day still prosecuted).

    Fair enough. Your comments about the Bible, although the Old and New Testaments are vastly different in tone, are valid to a point. Prostitution, for example, is indeed a crime in most of the US, but the difference is the punishment is not derived from the Bible, which again, I deem to be a good thing.

    So again, I reiterate, do no conflate the practice of the people with the principles of the religion – go back to the texts of that religion to see exactly what it teaches and how it is applied and understood.

    That is a fair request, but if I consider the Qur’an, and the Sunnah as relevant to fully understand what Islam teaches, then the justification for the jihadists is firmly established, thus correlated directly to Islam itself.

    It seems that way, but that’s because many (mis)understand that in all cases, the Islamic ruling for apostasy is death.

    I would assume that the general consensus would be from Bukhari’s Hadith where Muhammad said that if a Muslim discards his religion, then kill him. I am interested as to what textual alternatives in the Sunnah state otherwise, but I believe on face value by your words, that they do. Once again, I understand your position of disdain for picking and choosing what to believe and that all belief and action should have a textual foundation.

    Yes, it’s true, the Muslims waging physical jihaad against the West are doing so from an interpretation or application of the Qur’aan and Sunnah that they have chosen

    I appreciate your candor and must state that what you said is rarely, if ever, conceded. Mostly, jihadists are dismissed as un-Islamic in an effort to completely separate the two, which ironically, leads us right back to Mogahed and Esposito’s book and their point abouit how western, (because it is evident that jihadists are angry at alot more than just the US) foreign policy is the sole root cause to “terrorism”.

    so here’s my question – why are people such as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer, et al giving legitimacy to their interpretation by saying this is what Islam teaches? Why do they not also say, “This is an interpretation,” but this is not necessarily the only one? Why not take the intellectually honest route and instead of saying, “Muslims need to reform Islam like Christians and Jews have rejected certain aspects of their texts,” why not instead give legitimacy to other interpretations by Muslim scholars?

    Well I can’t presume to speak for Pipes and Spencer, but I will state that in my opinion neither Pipes nor Spencer have any influence on and give no legitimacy to the jihadists. It is not practical to state that they are perpetuating or that they have caused this action. Like I stated earlier, 9/11 preceded Spencer and Jihad Watch chronologically.

    Spencer, for one, is always open for alternate interpretations to refute what he puts forth by authoritive Muslim sources. Islam cannot be reformed in a textual way, because the Qur’an is viewed as immutable. The very foundation of Islamic justification depends on that, that Islam and the Qur’an was given to correct the corruption of the Judaic and Christian texts. Additionally, the popular position of not picking and choosing what to believe is also an obstacle. If you have alternate interpretive sources, I will be glad to forward them to him.

    I believe that the reason for all this is because this goes beyond an interpretation from one group – these people hate Islam and Muslims for deep-seated religious reasons. Some of them even see the role of the United States as destroying Islam the religion, and they are not considered fringe groups, but mainstream.

    I am not saying that the existence of people who irrationally hate Islam and all Muslims by association is in question. I will state however, that in my opinion, Spencer is not one of them, so therefore I must respectfully disagree with you there.

    I know they are intelligent to understand differences of opinion and interpretation – that they pretend that these do not exist or that they call these apologist positions and not the “real” thing demonstrates that their bias goes beyond “radical” Islam – it extends to ALL of Islam.

    Like I stated already, if you feel Spencer is using Muslim sources that you deem inadequate, please specifically state which ones. I will gladly forward any alternative opinions and interpretations to him, if you wish.

    Anyway, it has been a pleasure exchanging ideas and positions with you, Siraaj. I will not respond on this thread any further, for I do not wish to continue the off-topic dialogue out of respect for the site administrators. Have the final say, if you so desire.

    Regards,

    awake

  21. Awake,

    Since you’ve clarified your statement, I’ll respond to that statement. Let’s take Daniel Pipes – from Wikipedia (for what its worth), here are the books and policy papers he has authored

    Miniatures: Views of Islamic and Middle Eastern Politics (2003), Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0215-5
    Militant Islam Reaches America (2002), W.W. Norton & Company; paperback (2003) ISBN 0-393-32531-8
    with Abdelnour, Z. (2000), Ending Syria’s Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role Middle East Forum, ISBN 0-9701484-0-2
    In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (2002), Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-7658-0981-8
    Muslim immigrants in the United States (Backgrounder) (2002), Center for Immigration Studies
    The Long Shadow : Culture and Politics in the Middle East (1999), Transaction Publishers, ISBN 0-88738-220-7
    The Hidden Hand : Middle East Fears of Conspiracy (1997), Palgrave Macmillan; paperback (1998) ISBN 0-312-17688-0
    Conspiracy : How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From (1997), Touchstone; paperback (1999) ISBN 0-684-87111-4
    Syria Beyond the Peace Process (Policy Papers, No. 41) (1995), Washington Institute for Near East Policy, ISBN 0-944029-64-7
    Sandstorm (1993), Rowman & Littlefield, paperback (1993) ISBN 0-8191-8894-8
    Damascus Courts the West: Syrian Politics, 1989-1991 (Policy Papers, No. 26) (1991), Washington Institute for Near East Policy, ISBN 0-944029-13-2
    with Garfinkle, A. (1991), Friendly Tyrants: An American Dilemma Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 0-312-04535-2
    From a distance: Influencing foreign policy from Philadelphia (The Heritage lectures) (1991), Heritage Foundation, ASIN B0006DGHE4
    The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West (1990), Transaction Publishers, paperback (2003) ISBN 0-7658-0996-6
    Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition (1990), Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-506021-0
    An Arabist’s guide to Colloquial Egyptian (1983), Foreign Service Institute
    Slave Soldiers and Islam: The Genesis of a Military System (1981), Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-02447-9

    I have to confess I have not read these books, but given his views and specialty, I would daresay he’s been on an anti-Islam tirade for quite some time now, but no one took notice of him until 9/11 when more focus was placed on Islam and Muslims, so I’d say it wasn’t that Islam wasn’t on the radar pre-9/11, I would say alarmists like Pipes (and possibly Spencer) were not on the radar pre-9/11.

    As for the differences of opinion on the ruling of apostasy, you may read the following:

    Discussion from Jamal Badawi (takes the opinion that it is not required):
    http://www.islamonline.net/English/contemporary/2006/04/article02.shtml

    Discussion from Dr. Muhammad Salim Al-`Awwa (apostasy is punishable by death, but at the judge’s discretion):
    http://www.islamonline.net/English/contemporary/2006/04/article01d.shtml

    I do not necessarily agree with all that is said in the two discussions, but I do think it’s a good illustration of harmonizing all evidences and points of view and working to reconcile them together intelligently.

    Like I stated already, if you feel Spencer is using Muslim sources that you deem inadequate, please specifically state which ones. I will gladly forward any alternative opinions and interpretations to him, if you wish.

    I don’t deem the Muslims sources inadequate, I view his use and interpretation of such sources inadequate. Unfortunately, my life’s fortune’s are not tied to defending Islam as his is to attacking it. If time permits one day, I would be happy to sit down and research each and every point and explain them.

    Siraaj

  22. Amad says:

    Yes, it’s true, the Muslims waging physical jihaad against the West are doing so from an interpretation or application of the Qur’aan and Sunnah that they have chosen

    I appreciate your candor and must state that what you said is rarely, if ever, conceded. Mostly, jihadists are dismissed as un-Islamic in an effort to completely separate the two, which ironically, leads us right back to Mogahed and Esposito’s book and their point abouit how western, (because it is evident that jihadists are angry at alot more than just the US) foreign policy is the sole root cause to “terrorism”.

    The hard evidence of the motivation for the majority of “political radicals” is clearly laid out in the book and the review above. Pape’s study of suicide-bombings was also the best and most well-researched material available. Everything else is opinion and speculation.

    There is no doubt that there are abortion-clinic bombers who use biblical verses, or Rabbi-Meir type terrorists who use Torah verses, or bin ladens who use Quranic verses…. but the majority of Muslims who have the potential to engage in physical radicalism (as opposed to mental radicalism) are motivated by political causes, not religious. As the data shows, there is no difference in piety between the “moderates” and “radicals”. There is further evidence that radicals use religion as a proxy in lieu of real underlying reasons because that is more easily “sold”. There is also the element of cognitive dissonance which involves comforting oneself about the “great Islamic deed one is doing, and the potential for heavenly rewards” and bringing solace to the troubled mind, while the real issue in fact is something else. On the other hand, had the data found that most (not just a few) radicals were the most pious, the most devout of all Muslims, and furthermore they ACTUALLY used Islamic evidence for their radicalism, then the argument of Islamic roots for radicalism may have had some merit. But, this argument SIMPLY doesn’t hold water. It’s bankrupt just like all the other neo-con, zio-con Islamophobic argument.

    Here’s another interesting question that I have been witnessing (and I am sure many others are too). What I am finding consistently is that the people who jump to attack Muslims, those who form organizations against Muslims, those who argue against any “good Muslim news”, those who jump at diaries that support Muslims as being tolerant, etc… are almost ALWAYS Israel supporters and ardent Zionists. While the Zionists are quick to accuse Muslims of being anti-Semitic, it seems that the reverse is becoming more and more true. Pick up the list of the Islamophobic crowd and this is a constant thread: Horowitz, Spencer, Pipes, etc… The nut-job organization SANE is also led by orthodox Jewish Zionist whose stated jihad is to “uncover Muslims”. And whenever I see comments attacking my or others’ diaries sympathetic to Muslims, it is always from Israel supporters. So, while Muslims, like me, speak out against Israel, but never against Jews or Jewish faith, this same courtesy is never reciprocated. Rather, Zionists are at the forefront of this “war against Islam” concept… they really want to “bring it on”. Am I wrong on this one??

  23. awake says:

    There is further evidence that radicals use religion as a proxy in lieu of real underlying reasons because that is more easily “sold”. There is also the element of cognitive dissonance where comforting yourself about the “great Islamic deed you are doing, and the potential for heavenly rewards” brings solace to the troubled mind, while the real issue in fact is something else.

    Amad,

    It is impressive that you not only completely disassociate Islam from “radicalism” but you can also point to several cognitive deficiencies amongst Muslims for believing in the association. It is also impressive that you can enequivocally speak for all Muslims and declare their thinking as erroneous when it comes to radicalism.

    Siraaj,

    Surely you can off the top of your head name one — just one — Islamic scholar whose interpretations of the Qur’an Spencer ought to be popularizing and urging Muslims to adopt.

  24. awake says:

    So, while Muslims, like me, speak out against Israel, but never against Jews or Jewish faith, this same courtesy is never reciprocated. Rather, Zionists are at the forefront of this “war against Islam” concept… they really want to “bring it on”. Am I wrong on this one??

    Actually Amad, your faith and your god calls Jews and Christians apes and pigs.

    Since it appears that Siraaj can not or will not answer the question, let me pose it to you.

    Can you or will you name one — just one — Islamic scholar whose interpretations of the Qur’an Spencer ought to be popularizing and urging Muslims to adopt?

    Please support the comments here about Spencer not advocating alternate scholarly interpretations and prove Spencer to be the deceptive zionist bigot you accuse him of being.

  25. Awake,

    Ditto to what Amad said – the point was simply that if someone takes an interpretation of a text, that doesn’t mean that that was the text’s intended meaning. I highly doubt the founding fathers of America had in mind that freedom of speech would include women traipsing around in little or nothing as their means of expressing their freedom of speech, but if people wish, they can interpret what they like to the exclusion of other evidence.

    Regarding Spencer, Spencer does quote reputable scholars, but it is how and when he quotes them that is bothersome – he cherry picks at will in some places, and conflates concepts in other places. And besides, as flawed as Omer Subhani’s response was to Spencer (posted on the JW blog), he nailed him hard and proved the succinctly the point I’m making now – when discussing the concept of taqiyya, and how Spencer has painted it, no matter which way you cut it, the way Spencer portrays Muslims, no Muslim can be trusted. Spencer was checkmated in that argument and left flailing because the underlying point he was trying to make about Muslims came out (then again, he has written it publically): kick out all Muslims from the West.

    When I read Spencer, it is very obvious he hates Islam and Muslims. It is obvious that the only Muslim groups he likes are the ones that say, “Don’t practice islam.” His Qur’aan blog and mockery of the verses within demonstrate the disdain he holds towards Islam.

    Siraaj

  26. Gohar says:

    Awake, would you mind explaining the interaction that you think might exist in the minds of al-qaida between the verses they read and the politics they experience (directly or indirectly) and which then causes them to do what they do?

  27. inexplicabletimelessness says:

    Bismillah
    I think this article by Sheikh Salman al-Awdah is very good called “A Ramadan Letter to Osama bin Laden”
    Awake, you will see that mainstream Muslims and reputable scholars like him who actually follow the Qur’an and Sunnah unequivocally condemn terrorism and killing of innocent civilians:
    http://www.islamtoday.com/showme2.cfm?cat_id=29&sub_cat_id=1521

  28. Amad says:

    “Awake” is feeling the heat in “enemy waters” and is begging for help from his low-life islamophobic friends at Islamophobia-central err jihadwatch:

    It is indeed a safe haven here.
    Does anyone dare to commit to aid me in enemy waters here?
    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/05/12/who-speaks-for-islam-part-3b/
    Please?
    Posted by: awake at May 14, 2008 11:45 PM

    awake, even after you committed to stop giving us more talking points in “enemy waters” (i.e. MuslimMatters.org) from your right-wing Ziocon crowd a few comments back,

    “I will not respond on this thread any further, for I do not wish to continue the off-topic dialogue out of respect for the site administrators. Have the final say, if you so desire.”

    You seem to have gotten desperate and couldn’t resist throwing in more nonsense about what you thinks Muslim believe. What a smart move to pick up the statement about Christians and Jews being apes and pigs (thanks for telling me that I believe that, otherwise I would have never known)… I mean that about brings you down to Islamophobia-kindergarten level… I feel sorry for the misinformation that you spread, which I hope you actually don’t believe.

    Perhaps 38 of the leading Islamic scholars were also lying. You need to remind them that you have found the holy grail of what Muslims “actually” believe. Congratulations.

  29. awake says:

    Amad,

    I appreciate you looking up my reference to this site at JW, and specificaly this post. It is all true. At least you took my words seriously enough to look them up.

    Try the truth once and a while for, as I always say, you attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. That means sparing yourself the humiliation of being accused and convicted of parsing people’s words.

    You yourself, Amad, are not an enemy, nor a latent jihadist in my book. No individual Muslims are. You are a propogandist and an overt one at that, however. Also, it is readily understood that you absolutely hate Israel and all who live there.

    Point taken.

    What is particularly beautiful is that neither you nor Siraaj Muhammad can name, or have the intestinal fortitude to try to name, (because quite simply, they don’t exist) a single solitary Islamic source to refute Robert Spencer’s commentary on what Islam entails, again which he exclusively bases on authoritive Muslim commentary as a source.

    Well, what say you to that charge?

    A single source of an Islamioc scholar to refute Spencer is all I ask. Surely out of the 1.4 billion population, there must be one, right?

  30. awake says:

    What a smart move to pick up the statement about Christians and Jews being apes and pigs (thanks for telling me that I believe that, otherwise I would have never known)…

    Amad,

    Are those exact words written in the immutable Qur’an? yes or no?

    it is impossible to argue from an inherently losing position, and I will concede defeat if you say no to the aforementioned question.

  31. awake says:

    inexplicabletimelessness

    I read you link. All that was missing was an outright condemnation of Bin Laden based on Qur’an 5:32, which was quoted, but of course 5:33 was omitted.

    Clever, but predictable.

    What I did not see was any condemnation of Bin Laden at all, for he was consistently referred to as “bother” Osama, and was questioned about his methods but not officially denounced as an un-Islamic heretic.

    Was I not reading the same lkink you referenced or is this one of those examples where the open letter is only accurately understood in Arabic?

  32. awake says:

    Gohar,

    I certainly would not be able to do what you suggested anymore than Amad proclaims that he cando. Let’s not focus on al-Qaeda. Let us talk about Islamic scholars who directly refute Bin Laden’s interpretation of what Islam is (which we all agree on, right?) and what is obligatory to Muslims, shall we?

    OK. So I take it that you have an Islamic scholar source that you prescribe to, outside of the Qur’an and the Sunnah or course, right?

  33. Ammar Diwan says:

    awake, do you feel miserable that you spend your whole day trying to bash people’s religions on the internet?

    Please find something else to do. Come mow my lawn or something.

  34. ibnabeeomar says:

    awake:

    Let us talk about Islamic scholars who directly refute Bin Laden’s interpretation of what Islam is (which we all agree on, right?) and what is obligatory to Muslims, shall we?

    are you serious?

    Fundamentalism and Terrorism – Ali Timimi

    20,000 Scholars Declare Terrorism Unislamic

    Salman Al-Awdah’s Letter to OBL

  35. Gohar says:

    I remind you, you said that you viewed politics as a cause, but also stated that islam must also be a cause (rather than just a factor).

    And although you have written alot on this thread, collating all your posts revealed a complete lack of any coherent argument on your part to explain how islam causes terrorism. Rather than point this out in my first post, I decided to instead give you the opportunity to provide one in order to further the discussion, and i thought you would oblige, but you say you cannot do so. Awake, you are free to continue to write in measured tones until the cows come home, but if you are not prepared to offer any reasoning it is of no value to anyone.

  36. Siraaj says:

    It is indeed a safe haven here.
    Does anyone dare to commit to aid me in enemy waters here?
    http://muslimmatters.org/2008/05/12/who-speaks-for-islam-part-3b/
    Please?
    Posted by: awake at May 14, 2008 11:45 PM

    And awake, now you have demonstrated my point – here we are, having for the most part what appears to be a civilized online discussion, and of course, you clearly show your feelings of where you are – enemy waters. There were really only two people in this discussion, myself and Amad. The impression you gave was that you wanted to exchange ideas, but you’ve made it clear that you’re not here to exchange differing ideas, but to attack and fight. Commentary on my intestinal fortitude notwithstanding, I’m disappointed (don’t worry, I’ll get over it. There, i’m done).

    Actually Amad, your faith and your god calls Jews and Christians apes and pigs.

    Are those exact words written in the immutable Qur’an? yes or no?

    I believe the correct answer is no, this is not what is written in the Qur’aan. You may be thinking of verse 2:65 and 7:166 (which talk about the turning of some Jews into apes for transgressing the law, the Jews who existed contemporaneously with the lawbreakers were not changed), and 5:60 (which talks about both Jews and Christians who transgressed their laws, again turned into apes and swine).

    You may read the commentary of Tafsir ibn Katheer (which Spencer selectively quotes) here:

    7:166
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1042&Itemid=62

    2:65
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=366
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=365 (read the bold header on this one, by the way)

    5:60
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=763&Itemid=60
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=762&Itemid=60

    If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you might have a look at these events from what the Bible said about these people who were disobedient:

    http://www.answering-christianity.com/apes_and_swines.htm

    You can ignore the commentary by the author, I’m simply using the link for the collection of verses which demonstrate God’s anger at the many instances in which the Jews, after having seen the miracles of Allah, still defied and disobeyed Moses, and what was said in the Old Testament on the matter (I don’t necessarily subscribe to the details of the matter in the Bible, just the general ideas which are confirmed in the Qur’aan).

    I’d also be interested in your thoughts on the following:

    http://www.answering-christianity.com/jihad_in_bible.htm

    Again, feel free to ignore the author’s commentary, you can read the collection of verses and then find their interpretation from a Jewish source you deem reputable who can provide you full context. Feel free to read it for yourself and respond with your own thoughts on all that.

    Siraaj

  37. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    I visited http://www.answering-christianity.com/jihad_in_bible.htm, and would like to know what YOU think of the author’s commentary. Gullible me, I thought that the Holocaust was the biggest lie ever told, that is, if Ahmadinejad speaks the truth and/or is anywhere close to being representative of Middle Eastern Muslim thought on the subject.

  38. awake says:

    Siraaj,

    OK, I read Kathir’s Tasfir on 2:65 that you linked.

    I then read Spencer’s Q-blog entry on the verse here:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2007/06/17/blogging-the-quran-sura-2-the-cow-verses-40-75/

    I failed to see any outright misrepresentation, although Spencer does incorporate additional verse specific statements (some modern), by Muslims to support his commentary, and yes, Spencer does refer to Kathir quite often, although

    As far as the first “answering Christianity” links, the author claims he believes the Earth opening up probably didn’t happen and that the plague was God turning the Jews into apes. That is just commentary based on assumption.

    As far as the second “answering Christianity” link, I had to stop reading after the 9/11 statement, being that I actually saw the second plane hit the tower live and in color, so I never actually got to jihad in the Bible.

  39. Amad says:

    jazakAllahkhair Br. Siraaj for getting on this earlier than I could. There is nothing in our religion that calls Christians and Jews apes and swines. Consider a bit of logic here… if this was REALLY true, then why would Allah allow Muslim men to marry Christian and Jewish women, with the latter being allowed to remain Christians and Jews. I mean would Allah allow us to marry, love and have relations with animals? Even metaphorically speaking? Furthermore, Allah allows us to eat the meat slaughtered by Jews and Christians, and not of Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, etc. While we are forbidden the meat of swine, why would we be allowed meat slaughtered by swines?

    The people of book were favored by Allah. Allah sent them tons of prophets. There are specific sector of Jews and Christians, who by transgression would have the punishment inflicted upon them. But if you look at some of the punishments that even Muslims could face for acts such as adultery, backbiting, etc… then it comes into context.

    No scholar or mufassir (who does interpretation of Quran) have I ever heard saying that we think of Jews & Christians as apes and pigs. This is a LIE, and propaganda by Islamophobes, if there was ever one. And it isn’t even logical.

  40. Siraaj says:

    Siraaj,

    I visited http://www.answering-christianity.com/jihad_in_bible.htm, and would like to know what YOU think of the author’s commentary. Gullible me, I thought that the Holocaust was the biggest lie ever told, that is, if Ahmadinejad speaks the truth and/or is anywhere close to being representative of Middle Eastern Muslim thought on the subject.

    Hey Lex,

    Interesting digression, but I’ll humour it. In general, I personally have a philosophy, if you will, that if I have not researched a topic well enough to formulate an opinion, or if the one putting the evidence in front of me is questionable, I take a position and say, “But I could be wrong in this, so don’t hold me to it.”

    In this case, while I have not done the research on it, for now I do believe the Holocaust took place because I have not seen evidence either way, but for the most part, I have not seen substantial conflict on the matter. Ahmedinejad, however, did make a valid point in that scientific inquiry into a matter never stops, and while you may find his politics distasteful, the point itself is valid. If he wishes to contest its validity and hold a conference, and invite academics and sympathizers, that’s his own personal deal.

    Awake,

    Others, however, such as the early Islamic scholar Ibn Qutaiba, held today’s apes are the descendants of the Sabbath-breaking Jews.

    A perfect example of selective cut and paste. He quotes Ibn Abbas’s opinion (fair enough), then quotes Ibn Qutaybah, but why not Ibn Katheer? Better yet, why quote an opinion? Why not quote what the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallim said and end the discussion:

    Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated that Ibn Mas`ud said, “Allah’s Messenger was asked if the current monkeys and swine were those whom Allah transformed. He said, “Allah never destroyed a people by transforming them and making offspring or descendants for them. The monkeys and swine existed before that.” This was also recorded by Muslim.”

    But of course, he won’t quote that, he’ll continue on with the politics of other scholars, what they may or may not have said, and as has been proven here, he won’t bring full context to anything.

    As I mentioned earlier, he profiteers from the hatred and distrust he generates against Muslims, and I guess may also be a part of the American way. Sad.

    As far as the second “answering Christianity” link, I had to stop reading after the 9/11 statement, being that I actually saw the second plane hit the tower live and in color, so I never actually got to jihad in the Bible.

    Understandable, as I mentioned, I’m simply using the site because it saves me the time of having to find the verses myself, or copy/pasting them here. As I repeatedly mentioned, ignore the commentary, focus on the verses, and take them back to someone you rely on or consider reputable, someone you trust, about the Bible, and simply apply the same thought process you wish to apply to the Qur’aan and see what you come up with.

    Siraaj

  41. awake says:

    Great news Amad. Brother Osama states that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the catalyst for his attack on the US on 9/11 and now urges all Muslims as a duty to liberate Palestine. Throw in Ahmadinejad and it is apparent that great minds think alike.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/16/terror/main4102367.shtml?source=RSSattr=HOME_4102367

    So much for the proclamation on “answering Christianity” link that Siraaj provided about 9/11 being the biggest lie in history, huh?

  42. Siraaj says:

    Awake,

    You may have misunderstood my intent in posting that link, and I see that from the words I posted after the link – I meant for you to read the Biblical verses quoted underneath the 9/11 stuff, not read the 9/11 stuff itself. You’ll note through out my posts I’m asking you to read verses, not conspiracies.

    Siraaj

  43. awake says:

    Why do they (Pipes and Spencer) not also say, “This is an interpretation,” but this is not necessarily the only one? Why not take the intellectually honest route and instead of saying, “Muslims need to reform Islam like Christians and Jews have rejected certain aspects of their texts,” why not instead give legitimacy to other interpretations by Muslim scholars?

    Siraaj,

    Can you or will you name one — just one — Islamic scholar whose interpretations of the Qur’an Spencer ought to be popularizing and urging Muslims to adopt?

    A perfect example of selective cut and paste. He quotes Ibn Abbas’s opinion (fair enough), then quotes Ibn Qutaybah, but why not Ibn Katheer? Better yet, why quote an opinion?

    Without an opinion of commentary, it would be nothing more than pasting of the Qur’anic verses. As far as cutting and pasting, I am not sure. I thought the commentary on the Qur’an by Kathir, Abbas and Jalalayn et al was how to properly understand the Qur’an in context. Am I wrong? And also, whose tafsir do you hold to be most authentic?

  44. awake says:

    You’ll note through out my posts I’m asking you to read verses, not conspiracies.

    I know Siraaj, I just couldn’t pass up mocking that clown who wrote that 9/11 stuff.

  45. Siraaj says:

    Can you or will you name one — just one — Islamic scholar whose interpretations of the Qur’an Spencer ought to be popularizing and urging Muslims to adopt?

    There are many. My personal fav is Salman al-Awdah (you didn’t like him calling Osama Bin Laden “brother”), but please keep in mind, no scholar is perfect, so we don’t ever recommend one scholar. Besides which, the Islamic Sciences are vast in scope, and very few, if any, truly master all of it. As with any branch of knowledge, you are humbled when you realize how much there is to learn.

    Without an opinion of commentary, it would be nothing more than pasting of the Qur’anic verses. As far as cutting and pasting, I am not sure. I thought the commentary on the Qur’an by Kathir, Abbas and Jalalayn et al was how to properly understand the Qur’an in context. Am I wrong? And also, whose tafsir do you hold to be most authentic?

    The hadeeth I posted was actually in the commentary of Tafseer ibn Katheer ;) See, I’m not making stuff up or deriving evidences on my own. Like Spencer, I too am referring to the commentaries. Why doesn’t Spencer quote that hadeeth? He seems to have no problems taking a position about Islam is all about.

    Awake, I’m curious to know, putting aside the whole discussion we’ve had, what exactly is Islam to you? Do you really understand what is most important to us?

    Siraaj

  46. awake says:

    Siraaj,

    Thanks for the reply. I will forward the scholars name to Spencer. I know you were referencing Kathir and I can not presume to know why Spencer does or does not reference that particular Hadith.

    I’m curious to know, putting aside the whole discussion we’ve had, what exactly is Islam to you?

    Actually Siraaj, Islam means very little to me, with the exception of the concerns I have. It is inherently threatening to non-muslims in my honest opinion.

    Awhile back on this thread ibnabeeomar provided some links to previous articles here at MM in support of scholarly refutation of Bin Laden’s “version” of Islam. I read them all, as well as the comments. This one pretty much summed it up for me:

    Salaam Alaikum

    The words of our brother Dr. Ali al-Timimi are indeed a great reminder to us, especially at this time of turmoil.

    As of yet, it is quite clear that these terrorist attacks in the UK were perpetrated by Muslims. It is sad to note that I have already begun to hear denials amongst some people, claiming conspiracy theories and ‘other’ hands involved.

    For how long are we going to ignore the obviously militant and over-zealous jihadi youth in our midst? For how long will we continue to stick our heads in the sand and pretend other groups were behind each and every ‘attack’ that we don’t agree with?
    Although it is true that we also know that such youth represent an extremely tiny percentage of the Muslims (from my own experience interacting with hundreds and thousands of Muslims, I would say much less than even 1 %), the fact of the matter is that they are indeed there. Yasir Qadhi -July 1st, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Frustrating to say the least, since al-Tamimi is serving life for sedition, but ibnabeoomar’s preface on Tamimi is:

    “It is especially noteable that this was written by Ali Timimi, who is currently in prison (unjustly) for supposedly promoting terrorism, may Allah (swt) free him.”

    I read al-Tamimi’s lecture that ibnabeeomar linked and it seemed to me that it was more of a training exercise on how to repond, condemn and isolate terrorist actions from Islam in a public forum. It was obviously a response to the 1993 WTC bombing, so highlighting that the lecture took place before 9/11 or 7/7 is irrelevant.

    It is all so surreal.

    Do you really understand what is most important to us?

    Honestly, no, but I am sincerely interested to know, if you will oblige.

  47. Hey Awake,

    Thanks for the honest response, it’s appreciated.

    I know that in everyday discussion, you read warnings about Islam and Muslims. I can’t speak for Muslims and what they do, and I know that if you step into the middle of the discussion of various hotbutton issues, you’ll find yourself swathed with different texts, scholar’s opinions, commentary, and so forth.

    Islam does mean submission to God. We believe that the reason we were created, the only reason we were created, was to worship God. God says in the Qur’aan:

    [51:56]
    “And I created not the jinns and humans except they should worship Me (Alone).”

    We believe that this was the only reason we were created, that’s it. In Islam, worship encompasses performing either overtly or covertly any act that pleases God, and keeping away from what displeases Him. That can range from the five daily prayers (which are required of all Muslims) to something as simple as removing an obstacle from the middle of the road.

    We also believe that all those Prophets that God sent were sent to remind people, warn people, and guide people back to the worship of God when they went astray. Again, in the Qur’aan, God says:

    [16:36]
    And verily, We have sent among every community a Messenger (proclaiming), “Worship God (Alone), and keep away from false gods.”

    We believe the reason why Noah, Moses, Jesus, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, David, Solomon and others were sent was to bring about God’s Will on Earth, that when people over time deviated, either in practice or by corrupting their scriptures (or both), God sent men to correct them and bring them back to worshipping God (some of that understanding still exists in the Bible, see the above quotation from the Bible I put up earlier in this post about the Biblical ruling on apostasy).

    As is usually the case, some people were devout, some people were average, and some people were disobedient. We believe the last man to receive Revelation in the form of scripture and law was Prophet Muhammad, who came with the same purpose as the others – to call back to the worship of God alone, the same God who delivered the Jewish people from Egypt, the same God who sent Jesus as a Prophet, not a Son, and the same God who sent Muhammad.

    We believe that the eventual return of all of us is to God for judgement of how well we’ve lived our lives – how well did we fulfill the rights of God over us, how well did we fulfill the rights of others, how well we fulfill the purpose of our Creation, and that being to worship God, and God alone, and none other. Those who live their lives to the best of their knowledge and ability in accordance with God’s wishes, both in deed and intention, can expect to enter Heaven, and those who do not, Hell.

    This is what Islam is about, and this is what is important to us – earning the mercy and the love of God. We derive our right and our wrong from what God wants. That may be at variance with what man wants, but man is limited in His Knowledge and capabilities, and God’s knowledge and wisdom knows no bounds, so we submit to the Best Judgement.

    Does that make sense to you? Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Siraaj

  48. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    Thank you for your answer to my question. I appreciate your philosophy of humble restraint. Regarding Ahmadinejad, the man is a calculating liar, imo. For him, “scientific inquiry into a matter never stops,” as long as the matter being studied meets with official approval and the outcome is assumed a priori. He is a sworn Holocaust denier, and is looking for confirmation of his anti-Jewish bigotry, period. The REAL “scientific” test for him, and for all Muslims, I might add, is their willingness to subject the Qur’an to the rigours of modern textual criticism. Christianity has its Jesus Seminar. Islam needs a Mohammad Seminar. Would you support such a Seminar, or is it blasphemous to even consider such a thing?

  49. ibnabeeomar says:

    lex – from my quick search on google it seems the jesus seminar is to gauge authenticity of the text?

    if you’re REALLY interested in this issue, check out this book:
    http://islamicbookstore.com/b7626.html

  50. Lex says:

    Siraajj,

    In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Christian.

    Something that you wrote to Awake caught my eye in a really jarring kind of way. You wrote, “This is what Islam is about, and this is what is important to us – earning the mercy and the love of God.”

    EARNING? How much must a person do before he can say he has EARNED God’s mercy and love? Isn’t this whole way of thinking about God profoundly insulting to God? God IS love, Christianity teaches. (1 John 4:8) God’s nature is to BE merciful, even preferring mercy to justice. Using an analogy, how does one earn the mercy and love of one’s own father? What kind of father on earth makes his mercy toward and love for his son conditional upon his performance? Wouldn’t others pity this unfortunate son for having such an exacting tyrant for a father? Is that Allah to you? Would it ever occur to you to call Allah “Father?”

    I know that you have been taught that Christians have corrupted their texts, but Christains take Jesus at his word when he said, as is recorded, “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” John 20:17

  51. Lex says:

    ibnabeeomar,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, the Jesus Seminar is all about determining the authenticity of the texts of the New Testament, which isn’t exactly the same as Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami, a lone and devout Muslim, defending the Qur’an from attack by critics old and new, so I repeat, would YOU support a similar Mohammad Seminar?

  52. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    Something you wrote to Awake caught my eye. You wrote, “This is what Islam is about, and this is what is important to us – earning the mercy and the love of God.”

    EARNING the mercy and love of God? What a strange and, to my way of thinking, profoundly insulting concept! I’ve been raised to believe, and I’ve read in the New Testament, that God IS love. That being so, God’s nature is to BE merciful to us, because we are weak, prone to failure, and mortal. That, in any case, is the Christian understanding, and one that gives me great solace, but if you’d rather believe that you have to EARN God’s favor by doing all sorts of good things, hoping that they outweigh the bad, then have at it. As for me, I’d much rather believe that Paradise is God’s entirely gracious gift to the unworthy, a gift that was secured by someone else on our behalf, the only one who could: Jesus, the Word of God incarnate.

    Yes, I know that you don’t believe this about Jesus, but this is why I reject Islam. It does not do justice ot God’s love.

  53. He is a sworn Holocaust denier, and is looking for confirmation of his anti-Jewish bigotry, period.

    There’s a high likelihood this is true, but this doesn’t change the truthfulness of the statement itself that scientific inquiry does not stop into a matter. Had someone who had no knowledge of this situation began inquiring seriously and sincerely, the statement would still be true. Going after Ahmedinejad, biases notwithstanding, would be ad hominem.

    The REAL “scientific” test for him, and for all Muslims, I might add, is their willingness to subject the Qur’an to the rigours of modern textual criticism. Christianity has its Jesus Seminar. Islam needs a Mohammad Seminar. Would you support such a Seminar, or is it blasphemous to even consider such a thing?

    You mean, you don’t think that orientalists are already doing this, and holding conferences on dissecting the Qur’aan? Or the hadeeth? It actually already happens.

    As for modern textual criticism, I am aware as much as a layman can be aware about some of the tools and techniques employed in modern textual criticism, and you may find some disappointment in that regard with the Qur’aan because it is preserved two ways – on paper and by memory. Modern textual criticism towards the Bible and the New Testament in particular has many issues to face as the original autographs do not exist, nor do copies of the original autographs exist – you have copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of copies of the original. You have copies that differ with one another substantially.

    I’ll be doing a book review shortly on this site of Dr. Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” insha’Allah (God-willing), and will be happy to see what your thoughts are regarding his statements (I’m sure you’ve probably heard of him, the book, and are well aware of what it contains). If people would like to do a “Qur’aan Seminar”, they are free to do so, but as they kind of already happen, well, i doubt I’d be convinced by anything new ;)

    EARNING the mercy and love of God? What a strange and, to my way of thinking, profoundly insulting concept! I’ve been raised to believe, and I’ve read in the New Testament, that God IS love. That being so, God’s nature is to BE merciful to us, because we are weak, prone to failure, and mortal. That, in any case, is the Christian understanding, and one that gives me great solace, but if you’d rather believe that you have to EARN God’s favor by doing all sorts of good things, hoping that they outweigh the bad, then have at it. As for me, I’d much rather believe that Paradise is God’s entirely gracious gift to the unworthy, a gift that was secured by someone else on our behalf, the only one who could: Jesus, the Word of God incarnate.

    I don’t disagree with the idea that God is the Most Merciful and Most Forgiving and that due to His Greatness, we can never do enough in deeds to earn our way into Paradise – we only get in through His Mercy. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t strive, that we don’t work. Nothing of worth is earned without work in this life, whether it is good health, wealth, lasting relationships, peace of mind and heart, athletic achievement, academic achievement, and so forth. God is the one who has defined the rules for how we attain those things, and one could argue that if God was all about Mercy and Love without hardwork, then all these great things would come easily to us. We believe that those who prove themselves by their worship and devotion, by going above and beyond, those who work and are sincere, even with their shortcomings, God will love them, and THATs where the Mercy comes in – we are imperfect, but God also sees what is in our hearts, and God sees us trying to do our best.

    We don’t take it for granted that God forgives us our sins – we must constantly repent for our shortcomings, and repeatedly work to become better human beings daily. We don’t think everyone is just given a free pass for believing alone and that all is forgiven right away for simply believing. Let’s take a practical example.

    Let’s talk about Hitler. Hitler was a Christian. By all accounts, he was a racist, bloodthirsty, meglomaniacal looney tune, but he was Christian. Is it your view that since he accepted Christ in his life, all the murders, bloodshed, and mayhem he caused will be forgiven and that he will enter Paradise as a result? I’d be happy to know your thoughts on this.

    Siraaj

  54. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    Thank you for the reply!

    The reprehensibility of Ahmadinejad is that even after spending some time researching the account and links at this site: http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?ModuleId=10005189, for example, he could still look at a roomful of Auschwitz survivors and call them all liars. Why? Because their narratives wouldn’t match the one he prefers.

    My first find in a search for Dr. Bart Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus” brought me to http://www.bethinking.org/resource.php?ID=338. The author is unimpressed. An excerpt: “He (Ehrman) therefore sometimes ends up attacking straw men. His analysis includes a number of conceptual confusions concerning the use of terms like ‘original’, ‘change’, ‘alter’, ‘Bible’, and ‘scripture’. In particular he alternates between material and immaterial definitions of textual entities without realising that he is doing so.”

    Was Hilter a Christian? A Google search brought up http://answers.org/apologetics/hitquote.html. The better argument is that Hitler hated Christ for his perceived “weaknesses.” Even so, it is the Christian belief that if he repented in the last instant of his miserable life, then mercy would have been granted to him. Why? Because of the vicarious atronement, that is, the death of Jesus, the lamb of God (John 1:29) on the Cross. Christian doctrine holds that Jesus freely suffered in his humanity the penalty owing to all sin, even Hitler’s, which makes complete forgiveness possible for all who ask for it. Even so, many reject this gift of pardon and die in their sins. If this was Hitler’s choice, then he is in hell, which is another way of saying that he chose to pay the penalty for his sins on his own terms, and forever, instead of accepting the gift of pardon that had been secured for him by Jesus’ death on the Cross…but what does any of this mean to you? Islam denies that Jesus was even crucified!

    Regarding the “conjecture” that Isa was crucified, I’ve read two divergent Islamic accounts, one being that Jesus (Isa) was spirited away to Paradise while Allah tricked the soldiers into crucifying someone else they thought was Isa, meaning that even Mary was tricked into preparing some stranger’s body for burial, and allowed to believe for the rest of her life that her son had been killed. This begs the question, why wouldn’t Isa have told her, to spare her this grief? The Qur’an DOESN’T SAY; the other account being that Isa actually survived the crucifiction, which is ludicrous, unless you believe that the Christians corrupted their texts, and you do, don’t you?

  55. Amad says:

    I am sorry to interject but we don’t need to read chapters from missionary play-book here. This is totally unrelated to my post. Pls note that attempts to explain what to muslims is illogical and unjust (original sin and forgiveness through the murder of “god’s son”) have been thoroughly dealt with at other forums.

    Let’s stick to the topic or we’ll have to just move on.

  56. Siraaj says:

    Well, there appears to be a dispute about Hitler’s views as a Christian:
    http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/quotes_hitler.html

    So let’s be clear – assuming that he was a Christian, and he committed what he committed, your belief then is that regardless of his life, all his sins are paid for anyway?

    You are correct – we don’t believe in the crucifixtion of Prophet ‘Isa – we believe that he was a Messenger of God coming to call people back to the worship of God, that he came with Scriptures, not that he was God, or the son of God, or part of a trinity. We do not believe, in fact, that it is fitting to refer to God as having son because it is unbefitting of God, as He says in the Qur’aan (translation):

    [112: 1 – 4]
    1 Say, “He is Allah, One.
    2 Allah, the Eternal, Absolute
    3 He begets not, nor was He begotten;
    4 And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.”

    We believe that Jesus, who was created in Mary without a father, is like Adam, who was created without mother or father, as Allah says in the Qur’aan (translation):

    [3:59]
    Verily, the likeness of Jesus before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him, “Be!” – and he was.

    Regarding the “conjecture” that Isa was crucified, I’ve read two divergent Islamic accounts, one being that Jesus (Isa) was spirited away to Paradise while Allah tricked the soldiers into crucifying someone else they thought was Isa, meaning that even Mary was tricked into preparing some stranger’s body for burial, and allowed to believe for the rest of her life that her son had been killed. This begs the question, why wouldn’t Isa have told her, to spare her this grief? The Qur’an DOESN’T SAY; the other account being that Isa actually survived the crucifiction, which is ludicrous, unless you believe that the Christians corrupted their texts, and you do, don’t you?

    I’ve not heard of the second account myself, but in one of our commentaries of the Qur’aan, Tafsir ibn Katheer, it is mentioned that the man who was crucified in his place spoke to Mary later when she came to visit his grave and grieve, but no mention was made of who made the funeral preparations.

    But as to your question, yes, we do believe that texts had been corrupted over time, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. I suppose Dr. Ehrman’s writings sum it up really well – “There are more errors than there are words in the Bible.” I tend to like Ehrman’s work because he’s not an atheist with an agenda – he was a born again christian who attended first Moody Bible Institute, then Wheaton Bible College (where after writing an exegetical paper on trying to reconcile conflicts between an account in Mark and the Old Testament, his professor told him, “Maybe Mark made a mistake”, forcing him to re-examine all his thoughts on the conflicts he had found in the Bible), and then Princeton Theological Seminary (where everything else was blown out of the water for him).

    In short, we believe that actions speak louder than words, and a person cannot simply profess faith, but they must demonstrate it, day in and day out consistently. We believe that our worship entails not just praying to Allah (which involves glorifying and praising Him) 5 times daily, it extends to being good to your neighbor, obeying one’s parents and respecting them, being good and kind to one’s family, giving in charity, helping support orphans, seeking knowledge and benefitting others with it, visiting the sick, smiling when greeting someone, working to support one’s wife and children, being just among people, and much more.

    Most important of all, we believe that God is One and He is the only One that is worth our worship and none other, and reflecting on that concept alone will clarify much for one seeking the truth.

    Siraaj

  57. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    You must have missed Amad’s memo.

    Interesting Hitler quotes at Gould’s site. I’m reminded of Ahmadinejad., just substitute “Muslim” for “Christian.” About Hitler, as with all, the question is one of repentance before death. Failing this, we suffer the just penalty.

    Do you know what orthodox Christian source documents Mohammad had at his disposal from which his scribes could recite? And no, Gnostic accounts -like Jesus speaking from the crib, or giving life to clay pigeons- were rejected by the Church as so much heretical nonsense.

    [112: 1 – 4]
    1 Say, “He is Allah, One.
    2 Allah, the Eternal, Absolute
    3 He begets not, nor was He begotten;
    4 And there is none co-equal or comparable unto Him.”

    Curious! My understanding is that whatever God chooses to do is befitting of God, and it is not my place to put God in a box.

    Is the masculine pronoun used in the original Arabic? The Bible makes the same “mistake,” as it were. but it might simply be a function of the limitations of English.

    I suppose that you like Ehrman because he basically rips the NT to shreds, but the argument that the Qur’an has been preserved verbatim means nothing beyond that the copyists were careful. One might reagrd this feat as somewhat “miraculous,” but it does not prove divine inspiration.

    “In short, we believe that actions speak louder than words, and a person cannot simply profess faith, but they must demonstrate it, day in and day out consistently. We believe that our worship entails not just praying to Allah (which involves glorifying and praising Him) 5 times daily, it extends to being good to your neighbor, obeying one’s parents and respecting them, being good and kind to one’s family, giving in charity, helping support orphans, seeking knowledge and benefitting others with it, visiting the sick, smiling when greeting someone, working to support one’s wife and children, being just among people, and much more.”

    Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy are also at the heart of Christianity, but what difference does it make, for aren’t Christians infidels and blasphemers, and cursed by Allah on that account?

  58. Curious! My understanding is that whatever God chooses to do is befitting of God, and it is not my place to put God in a box.

    Yes, but how far will you take the notion – would you go as far as to say God defecates? Or that he sometimes gets winded from all the work He’s doing and needs to take a breather?

    Is the masculine pronoun used in the original Arabic? The Bible makes the same “mistake,” as it were. but it might simply be a function of the limitations of English.

    In the Qur’aan, the 3rd person singular and plural are both used – we don’t consider it a mistake.

    I suppose that you like Ehrman because he basically rips the NT to shreds, but the argument that the Qur’an has been preserved verbatim means nothing beyond that the copyists were careful. One might reagrd this feat as somewhat “miraculous,” but it does not prove divine inspiration.

    Well, it is rather fascinating to read independent sources which corroborate what our religion has been teaching us for the past 1400+ years about the Bible.

    Spiritual and Corporal works of mercy are also at the heart of Christianity, but what difference does it make, for aren’t Christians infidels and blasphemers, and cursed by Allah on that account?

    No, not on that account – on account of saying about God what should not be said – that He has a Son, or that Jesus is God. As mentioned earlier, the purpose of life is to worship God. Of course, you feel the same way about Muslims in their view, as we do about your view (infidels and blasphemers), so there’s nothing to feel angry about, I hope.

    Siraaj

  59. but the argument that the Qur’an has been preserved verbatim means nothing beyond that the copyists were careful. One might reagrd this feat as somewhat “miraculous,” but it does not prove divine inspiration.

    Ah, almost forgot this point.

    There are 3 main religions in the world professing to worship the God of Abraham – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Only one of them has a book of revelation that has been protected from the mistakes and agendas of mankind, and it ain’t the Old or New Testament.

    It wasn’t simply that the copyists were careful – it was that God provided us an airtight system for checking the integrity of the Qur’aan should anyone try to mess with it – the Qur’aan was both written down AND memorized. All Muslims memorize some amount of Qur’aan and need to do so in order to pray. Many memorize the full Qur’aan itself, or large portions.

    So if a person tries to fabricate something into the Qur’aan, many people exist who can call this person out on it. The same if they make a mistake in writing out the text.

    Siraaj

  60. Lex says:

    Siraaj,

    I was beginning to think that I’d been banned from this site. Two of my comments to Amad were deleted, one outright, the other while awaiting moderation. They were admittedly snarky, even if they weren’t entirely OT. How this comment is handled will be the clincher.

    Yes, but how far will you take the notion – would you go as far as to say God defecates? Or that he sometimes gets winded from all the work He’s doing and needs to take a breather?

    I will go as far as to say that the Word of God incarnate was like us in all ways, save sin. It isn’t a question of God defecating, but of Mohammad tying God’s hands by supposing it to be beneath God’s dignity to assume human form while retaining the divine nature. (See the Nicene Creed) Yet Mohammad did allow a huge exception to the general rule of human propogation by denying that Jesus had ANY human parentage! Why the radical departure?

    Adam’s body was composed of “dust,” but none of Mary’s “dust” was used in the construction of Jesus’ body -either initially or via the umbilical cord? In the Gospels Jesus refers to himself as Son of Man, which would be meaningless if he were not one of Adam’s genetic descendants, if Mary were not his mother in some true way. Believe you me, I’ve puzzled over this Theotokos question for decades, but throwing the curve ball that Jesus had NO human parents at all is beyond fantastic. Why then didn’t Jesus simply appear, full grown, in the desert somewhere, because he clearly didn’t need to occupy Mary’s womb for 9 months or however long he needed to “gestate.” He could have been like Melchizedek, just showing up one day.

    I’ve read that in Muslim heaven, men engage in fruitless sex with scads of houris whose virginity is instantly restored, but do they defecate?

    In the Qur’aan, the 3rd person singular and plural are both used – we don’t consider it a mistake.

    No gender specificity?

    Well, it is rather fascinating to read independent sources which corroborate what our religion has been teaching us for the past 1400+ years about the Bible.

    I imagine that it would be, but the question arises, which version of the Qur’an are you using? This site lists 20 of the “most authoritative”: http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-quran-changed-20-versions.htm Which one do you rely on most?

    No, not on that account – on account of saying about God what should not be said – that He has a Son, or that Jesus is God. As mentioned earlier, the purpose of life is to worship God. Of course, you feel the same way about Muslims in their view, as we do about your view (infidels and blasphemers), so there’s nothing to feel angry about, I hope.

    In other words, if Christians would only become Muslims, then everything would be fine. You take Mohammad’s word for it, and he damns me to hell because of my belief that Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, who died on the cross in his humanity as the lamb of God, and rose from the dead as proof of his own human innocence, and that he had secured the possibility of forgiveness for us all. It was as a MAN, and not as GOD, that he had to do this, for the sake of Adam and Eve and their progeny. Islam denies all of this, but I don’t damn you to hell for your disbelief. Other Christians may disagree with me on this, but my conviction is that we are held accountable by God only for the light of understanding that has been given to us, the graces or talents that have been entrusted to our care. Your heart seeks to love and serve God and neighbor, and that’s a wonderful thing, but there’s more.

    There’s is room in “my” heaven for you, but there is evidently no room in “yours” for me, unfortunately.

  61. AbdulHasib says:

    but the argument that the Qur’an has been preserved verbatim means nothing beyond that the copyists were careful. One might reagrd this feat as somewhat “miraculous,” but it does not prove divine inspiration

    Given what Siraaj already mentioned,

    would it not then be considered miraculous that at it’s ONSET, it claims “This is the Book, whereof there is no doubt, a guidance for the righteous-God conscious.” Qur’an 2:2

    And further mentions, “And if you are in doubt as to that which We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce a chapter like it and call on your witnesses besides Allah if you are truthful.” Qur’an 2:23

    “But if you cannot- and of a surety you cannot- then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones,- which is prepared for those who reject Faith.” Qur’an 2:24.

    And goes on even epitomizing the crux of perfection by saying,

    “Do they not then consider the Quran carefully? Had it been from other than God, they would have found within it much contradiction.” Qur’an 4:82.

    So not only does it claim to be a guidance for All of Mankind, of the same guidance sent to those Prophets, from Adam, Noah, Solomon, David, to Moses, and Jesus; culminating with Muhammad; but it further establishes

    this guidance has criterion:
    – it has no doubt in it whatsoever
    – if anyone claims doubts/fallacies to produce something like it.
    – and finally establishes that the person truly has not reflected on a book that claims if there WERE contradictions then it would surely not be from an Omnipotent God and Creator.

    Furthermore, the person who rejects it, is rejecting Faith, and those who reject Faith will face their consequences accordingly.

    Thus God instructs us very simply to invite and call to Mankind
    “Thus do We explain the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) in detail, so that they may return (unto the truth).” Qur’an 7:174

    and orders us to

    “Say, “O People of the Scripture, Come to a word that is just/equitable between us and you, that we worship none but God, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God.”

    Then, if they turn away, say:

    “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” Qur’an 3:64.

    Muslims in this sense is lexically – those who have submitted. Hence, bearing witness that we are the ones who’ve submitted and obeyed this call (in the Qur’an – to worship the One deity worthy of worship).

    And in final, if the person truly reflects and his heart is open to it, without a pre-existing barrier or faltered notions in his reasoning, and truly seeking insight and guidance; the person will be guided to it.

    And if they claim that salvation and a good end is with them only, God says clearly;

    “..These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are of the truthful.” Qur’an 2:111.

    Sorry to interject. Just wanted to bring the speech of God, the Qur’an, to speak for it’s own miraculous nature..
    As only God Almighty can establish His own Divinity and produce signs for Mankind to understand, would that not be right?

    And Allah Knows Best.

    -AbdulHasib

  62. Charles says:

    @Lex
    Although this conversation has drifted off the topic of this post, I thought I’d add a few comments related to language.

    God is spoken of in the masculine and plural in Hebrew, but the Hebrew word “ruach” for His Spirit is in the feminine (Old Testament), while the Greek word “pneuma” for spirit is neuter (New Testament). (Although “spirit” may refer to Gabriel in Islamic sources, in biblical sources it’s not understood that way.) The fact that the word “spirit” changes gender according to language shows that God cannot be defined in terms of gender. God simply uses the language as it is.

    “The Son of man”, or bar enasha in Aramaic, due to the definite article “bar” (Hebrew works the same way) is simply a generic term for a man. It’s similar to saying in English, “the dog is an animal with four legs,” meaning a generic dog. However, the Aramaic form can also be a reference to the messiah based on its use in the book of Daniel, and thus Jesus is indicating by using this term that he is the messiah.

    I mention these points because most Christian arguments are faulty because they are not based on a knowledge of the biblical languages and cultures–especially that of Hebrew, Aramaic, and early Judaism–and often are not based on the biblical evidence itself. Rather than worry about what Muslims think about Christianity, it would be more useful for a Christian to learn thoroughly the languages and culture of Jesus and thus try to come to a right understanding of what Jesus (and even Paul) was teaching. You will find–especially in the Synoptic gospels, but even in John’s gospel–that he taught that he was a prophet and the messiah, but nothing more.

  63. Charles says:

    Correction: “bar” is not the definite article but means “son”. The article is the ending on “enasha,” which again gives the phrase “the son of man” the meanings mentioned above, although I should add that scholars debate whether Jesus applied this phrase to himself or meant any man in general or used it as a messianic title. The point remains that to come to any plausible conclusions concerning Christianity, one must really study the languages and culture of Jesus’s time to understand what is meant as recorded in the gospels.

  64. I will go as far as to say that the Word of God incarnate was like us in all ways, save sin. It isn’t a question of God defecating, but of Mohammad tying God’s hands by supposing it to be beneath God’s dignity to assume human form while retaining the divine nature. (See the Nicene Creed) Yet Mohammad did allow a huge exception to the general rule of human propogation by denying that Jesus had ANY human parentage! Why the radical departure?

    Adam’s body was composed of “dust,” but none of Mary’s “dust” was used in the construction of Jesus’ body -either initially or via the umbilical cord? In the Gospels Jesus refers to himself as Son of Man, which would be meaningless if he were not one of Adam’s genetic descendants, if Mary were not his mother in some true way. Believe you me, I’ve puzzled over this Theotokos question for decades, but throwing the curve ball that Jesus had NO human parents at all is beyond fantastic. Why then didn’t Jesus simply appear, full grown, in the desert somewhere, because he clearly didn’t need to occupy Mary’s womb for 9 months or however long he needed to “gestate.” He could have been like Melchizedek, just showing up one day.

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear in including that ayaah – often Christians will say, Jesus had no father because God was his father, while his mother is Mary. The response is, if God can create a man from nothing and not consider him his son, then saying Jesus has no father, therefore his father is God is not a very good point. And of course, we believe that Jesus was in Mary’s womb and was her son, which is why we call him ‘Iesa ibn Maryam – Jesus the son of Mary.

    I imagine that it would be, but the question arises, which version of the Qur’an are you using? This site lists 20 of the “most authoritative”: http://www.bible.ca/islam/islam-quran-changed-20-versions.htm Which one do you rely on most?

    Hafs ‘an Asim, actually. But this point is not your favour and actually demonstrates a greater miracle than Muslims represent to nonMuslims about the Qur’aan. In your link, the first statement (which is patently false) is:

    Qur’an of today is different than what Muhammad revealed!

    The problem is that the multiple recitations were ALL revealed to Muhammad, and he taught all of them. There are numerous hadeeth on this issue, one should suffice:

    Ubay ibn Ka’ab reported that the Prophet was once on the outskirts of Madeenah when Jibraeel came to him and said, “Allah has commanded that you recite your Qur’aan to the people in one harf.” The Prophet replied, “I ask Allah’s pardon and forgivness! My people are not capable of doing this!” Jibraeel then came again and said, “Allah has commanded you to recite to your people in two ahruf.” The Prophet again replied, “I ask Allah’s pardon and forgivness! My people are not capable of doing this!” Jibraeel then came a third time and said, “Allah has commanded you to recite to your people in three ahruf.” The Prophet again replied, “I ask Allah’s pardon and forgivness! My people are not capable of doing this!” At last, Jibraeel came for a fourth time and said, “Allah has commanded you to recite the Qur’aan to your people in seven ahruf, and in whichever harf they recite, they would be right.” [narrated by Muslim]

    This space is not large enough for a discussion of the ahruf, and the ten qiraa’aat which we arrive at from them, but suffice it to say, they were all revealed to Muhammad, he taught them, and here’s the key – THEY WERE ALL PRESERVED, so the miracle is greater than first mentioned, in reality ;)

    In other words, if Christians would only become Muslims, then everything would be fine. You take Mohammad’s word for it, and he damns me to hell because of my belief that Jesus is the Word of God incarnate, who died on the cross in his humanity as the lamb of God, and rose from the dead as proof of his own human innocence, and that he had secured the possibility of forgiveness for us all. It was as a MAN, and not as GOD, that he had to do this, for the sake of Adam and Eve and their progeny. Islam denies all of this, but I don’t damn you to hell for your disbelief. Other Christians may disagree with me on this, but my conviction is that we are held accountable by God only for the light of understanding that has been given to us, the graces or talents that have been entrusted to our care. Your heart seeks to love and serve God and neighbor, and that’s a wonderful thing, but there’s more.

    There’s is room in “my” heaven for you, but there is evidently no room in “yours” for me, unfortunately.

    As you’ve noted, your own fellow Christians disagree with you on this point, which means you’ve taken a personal interpretation, one which some may agree with, but in all likelihood, most do not. As I mentioned earlier in this thread, I would not take the practices and personal interpretations of individuals as representing the religion, I would take the texts and see if the behavior of the people is supported by the texts.

    I believe it is safe to say that most (if not all) christians do not believe as you do.

    You still have not answered my questions, however, about the nature of God – you follow the belief that he ate, defecated, died, rested on the seventh day, and had many other interesting characteristics that most would characterize as human flaws or weaknesses – is it your position that He did all this? What are you thoughts on these issues?

    Siraaj

  65. Charles says:

    Siraaj,

    There is textual evidence for Lex’s “conviction is that we are held accountable by God only for the light of understanding that has been given to us, the graces or talents that have been entrusted to our care.”

    In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 & Luke 19:12-27), it’s clear that those who have been given greater responsibility (understanding, etc.) and use it appropriately will receive even more responsibility and rewards, but those who don’t use it appropriately have what has been given to them taken away. This parable explicitly states that the unworthy servant knew what he should have done, and so was held accountable for what he knew, not what he didn’t know.

    So, whether or not Christians agree with Lex, he is on solid textual ground on this point.

    This parable reminds me in some ways of the role of intention in Islam. If you know what you should do, and you have the intention of doing it, you are rewarded for the deed and the intention. But if you know what you should do and don’t do it, then your intention is not aligned with the guidance of Allah but with your own selfish desires. If you continue in your own guidance rather than Allah’s, Allah will allow you to proceed on the path to destruction, in effect, being held accountable for your level of understanding that you rejected.

  66. Gohar says:

    Curious! My understanding is that whatever God chooses to do is befitting of God, and it is not my place to put God in a box.

    How do you recognise someone without a definition? That definition is your box, Lex.

  67. Siraaj,

    There is textual evidence for Lex’s “conviction is that we are held accountable by God only for the light of understanding that has been given to us, the graces or talents that have been entrusted to our care.”

    In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30 & Luke 19:12-27), it’s clear that those who have been given greater responsibility (understanding, etc.) and use it appropriately will receive even more responsibility and rewards, but those who don’t use it appropriately have what has been given to them taken away. This parable explicitly states that the unworthy servant knew what he should have done, and so was held accountable for what he knew, not what he didn’t know.

    So, whether or not Christians agree with Lex, he is on solid textual ground on this point.

    This parable reminds me in some ways of the role of intention in Islam. If you know what you should do, and you have the intention of doing it, you are rewarded for the deed and the intention. But if you know what you should do and don’t do it, then your intention is not aligned with the guidance of Allah but with your own selfish desires. If you continue in your own guidance rather than Allah’s, Allah will allow you to proceed on the path to destruction, in effect, being held accountable for your level of understanding that you rejected.

    Hey Charles,

    Thanks for mentioning this. We also have the same concept in Islam, but at what point are you responsible for knowledge you do not have, and what point not? Lex, in his (or her?) last statement seems to imply that a person like myself, who is fully aware of what Christianity is and rejects it wholeheartedly, can get into heaven. What, then, is a disbeliever to them, worthy of God’s wrath? This is what I was I referring to.

    Siraaj

  68. Charles says:

    It’s well known that Prophet Muhammad said that he confirmed what had come before him. Despite the corruption of the Bible, most of the major problems lie not with the texts but with the interpretations of the early church fathers that have become orthodoxy, interpretations based on Hellenistic philosophy and culture instead of Jewish understandings and culture.

    So, yes, we all have definitions. What is important is from where do we derive them? Muslims should be deriving their definitions from the Quran and Christians from the Bible. If we base our understanding on the textual evidence (which in turn must be accompanied by an understanding of the textual languages and culture in which they are embedded), then we increase the probability of aligning our definitions with those of God’s.

    So, in response to Lex, we have a choice. Because he doesn’t accept the authority of the Quran, we can show (1) how his understanding of the Bible is faulty and actually supports our understanding, or (2) we can in disagreement on his understandings of God say, “Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion” (109.6).

    But we shouldn’t quibble over areas of agreement. And as Muslims, we recognize that whatever God chooses to do is what is right.

  69. Charles says:

    Hi Siraaj,

    It seems your post occurred while I was typing mine. On the status of disbelievers in Christianity, there is disagreement, of course. In light of the parable of talents, if one is fully aware of God’s truth and rejects it, then that person would not be accepted by God. But I read Lex a little differently than you. Lex wrote,

    we are held accountable by God only for the light of understanding that has been given to us, the graces or talents that have been entrusted to our care. Your heart seeks to love and serve God and neighbor, and that’s a wonderful thing, but there’s more.

    In other words, if some has not been given the understanding to be “fully aware”, then God’s wrath does not come into play. This is somewhat supported by Jesus’s saying (Matthew 10:42):

    42″And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

    The phrase “in the name of” is better translated as “for the sake of”, and thus we can see that someone who is not a disciple of Jesus but for the sake of a disciple can still do good and receive a reward for it. But that is not the same as someone who rejects fully God’s guidance. Such a person would not be doing good.

    And Lex is not alone in this position. As I mentioned in another post, Peter Lombard (a major Catholic theologian in the 12th century) stated that although the way of Jesus was the best, anyone who believed in God and that God rewarded good would go to heaven.

    But we should make a distinction between rejecting God as represented by a particular teaching/religion and rejecting God wholeheartedly. In the case of the latter, such a person would have no love in their heart for God. In contrast, it is possible for one to love God and sincerely believe that a particular teaching/religion is wrong although it is correct due to imperfections in faith and/or God simply deigning not to grant that level of understanding. So, one can be “fully aware” of the teachings of a religion but not “fully aware” of God’s truth.

    And that’s true for all human beings regardless of religion. Who among us is “fully aware” of God’s truth?

  70. Charles says:

    I seemed to have forgotten to end the bold style.

    Despite all that I wrote, when we ask, “at what point are you responsible for knowledge you do not have, and what point not?” I’m not sure that it’s possible to define accurately that point. Rather, I would accept the broad principle of Allah holding us responsible for what we know, and understanding that there may be a point at which I will be held responsible for knowledge I don’t know, strive to become as knowledgeable as I can, trusting in the mercy of Allah to guide me in the right path.

    Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40; see also Deuteronomy 6:5) is recorded as saying,

    “And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
    “This is the great and foremost commandment.
    “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
    “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

    Note that these two great commandments do not say to believe in a particular religion or prophet but to love God and neighbor. That’s the beginning. It’s the same in Islam: complete submission to Allah, wanting for your brother what you want for yourself, and helping the needy and poor. Depending on one’s sincere practice of these two commandments (and on God’s mercy), one will be given more understanding of God’s guidance. And perhaps in time, one will know where the line is between the two points of being responsible. But that knowledge is an incidental by product. The focus is one the struggle to carry out the two commandments.

  71. Gohar says:

    Because you can only recognise someone based on an attribute that you expect them to have. That expectation is a definition you are applying to what God can be (or cannot be).

    Thus if you say you have any concept of god in your mind (whether based on scripture or not) then you are yourself saying what God can or cannot be (to an extent).

  72. Gohar says:

    ..therefore no member of any other faith has any right to object to muslims insisting on god only being one and indivisible, or not begetting or not resembling anything from creation (as i think you did), etc.

  73. Charles says:

    Hi Gohar,

    I’m not disagreeing that we use definitions and expectations about God. I’m saying that we should try to conform our definitions and expectations as much as possible to what God says. And I added that we shouldn’t disagree on the basis of definition when what was stated actually agreed with what we believe.

    But rereading everything, I think I understand now where you are coming from. Because most Christians have the notion of begetting, you were considering that particular definition. I was thinking only about the line you quoted from Lex,

    My understanding is that whatever God chooses to do is befitting of God, and it is not my place to put God in a box.

    In that line, Lex wasn’t saying “begetting” (although it was in the context). He was talking about “befitting.” And Muslims agree that whatever Allah decides to do is right. And that is where I was coming from. That is, since I agree on that one point, I wouldn’t bring up the notion of definition with respect to that point.

    Still, recognizing differences in definitions can be useful for other points, especially on the notion of “begetting.” The primary verse in the Bible on this is John 1:18, but it’s a verse that is mistranslated and misinterpreted. In this verse, Jesus is called the only begotten son. Somehow, Christians claim on the basis of the word “begotten” that Jesus has the same nature as that of God. However, the translation “begotten” is incorrect. According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 (Ed. Colin Brown), “Lit. it means ‘of a single kind’. . . . It is only distantly related to gennao, beget. The idea of ‘only begotten’ goes back to Jerome who used unigenitus in the Vulg[ate] to counter the Arian claim that Jesus was not begotten but made” (p. 725). This same word is used of Isaac in Hebrews 11:17, although the Bible records that Abraham had seven sons besides Isaac (Ishmael and the six sons from his wife Keturah). So that word obviously doesn’t mean “only begotten”; it means “of a single kind” or “unique.” I think most of us would agree that the virgin birth of Jesus was rather unique.

    Of course, Muslims do not like the word “son of God” for many reasons. But this is another word that is misunderstood. Starting with the Bible and examining every verse where the term “son of God” is used, it becomes obvious that it is used of people who enjoy a special relationship with God. Israel is called the son of God in many places, and also Adam (Luke 3:38). This phrase can also be used to designate the messiah (2 Samuel 7:14). It was used of David and his successors (cf. I Chronicles 22:10; 28:6; Psalm 89:26). In Psalm 2:7, it is used for the king of Israel as part of Israel’s coronation liturgy.

    Furthermore, in rabbinic literature, a divine voice calls Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa, “Hanina, my son.” And in another place, we read that God says to Rabbi Ishmael ben Elisha, “Ishmael, my son, bless me.

    In other extrabiblical sources, Fredricksen notes that the term “son (of God)” is found in various sources of early Judaism. As early as the second or early-first century BCE, “the Hebrew of Sirach 4:10 (in OTA) we confront the statement ‘and God (w’l) will call you son (bn).’ In the Greek version, this phrase is rendered slightly differently: ‘You will then be like a son of the Most High.’ . . . In the Epistle of Enoch (in 1En; see OTP 1), written sometime between 125 and 75 BCE, God is reported to have exhorted Enoch to rejoice until ‘I and my son’ are united with them forever in the upright paths’ (1 En 105:2). . . . In Ezekiel the Tragedian (in OTP 2), Moses is called by God ‘my son.’ According to the Testament of Levi 4:2 (in OTP 1), Levi is to be, or become a son to God…. In the Wisdom of Solomon (in OTA), we learn that the righteous one shall be called ‘God’s son’ (2:18, cf. 2:13-16)” (p. 46-47).

    I know that I went on for quite some length. And let me add that I haven’t studied these matters in more than 10 years. So perhaps scholars have added to this information and provided insights of which I’m unaware.

    Even so, this point is crucial and clear: Neither the Bible nor these Jewish sources considered the phrase “son of God” to designate divinity. Again, it means merely that an individual has some special relationship with God, has the favor of God upon him/her. Thus, John 1:18 is stating that Jesus had a unique special relationship to God.

    However, much of Christianity has misunderstood and misinterpreted this phrase like other ones because the early church fathers didn’t have this Jewish history and knowledge but understood such phrases from their Hellenistic background. And modern Christianity has inherited their misunderstanding and misinterpretations. And so, I have to agree, definitions do matter on some points.

  74. Despite all that I wrote, when we ask, “at what point are you responsible for knowledge you do not have, and what point not?” I’m not sure that it’s possible to define accurately that point. Rather, I would accept the broad principle of Allah holding us responsible for what we know, and understanding that there may be a point at which I will be held responsible for knowledge I don’t know, strive to become as knowledgeable as I can, trusting in the mercy of Allah to guide me in the right path.

    I agree with you in principle as it relates to pointing out and judging and condemning specific people – this one is going to heaven, this one is going to hell, and so forth. As it relates to talking about these concepts theoretically, believers (as we define believers) and disbelievers (as we define disbelievers) are given their statuses post-Judgement Day, and this is how we speak about it, hence the need to call people to Islam (otherwise, it’d be better to just leave people in disbelief as we define it and keep them unaccountable).

    Lex, I saw that some of your messages are being removed – if you’d like to continue the discussion with me (and anyone else who wants in on the discussion) can email me at siraaj@gmail.com and everyone can post freely in a group email sort of discussion over there. We’ve kind of derailed this topic ;)

    Siraaj

  75. Gohar says:

    Mu understanding of what Lex was saying was that it is not up to us, as his slaves, to decide what form or characteristics he can take. He said this when Siraaj mentioned the chapter 112 to argue that begetting was not befitting for God.

    I am arguing that Lex as a christian must also accept that he also at times concludes what is or isn’t befitting for God (which i felt contradicted his claim that making such conditions means putting God in a box).

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