A challenge to peaceful Muslims and to Islamic apologists


I find it very hard to believe that Robin Wright has actually read Rumiyah, Issue 2 of October 2016. A Muslim ploughed a car into pedestrians at Ohio State University, then got out and attacked the horrified pedestrians with a knife. Of course it was a Muslim terrorist and there was every chance of a connection with ISIS. So tracing his actions back to an actual ISIS source counts to Wright’s credit, though this, too, is a no-brainer. Input: Knife attack + America + ISIS. Output: The Hand Of Isis At Ohio State. Sure enough, ISIS’s knife attack instructions are there on pages 12–13, in all their glorious barbaric detail, and Wright is accurate in her account of those instructions. But how did she miss the conclusion, at the end of page 13?

The overall objective of any just terror operation is to bring horror and misery to the enemies of Allah, and to remind them that their efforts to wage war against Islam and the Muslims will only lead to more and more mujahidin appearing in their very midst, ready to strike them mercilessly on their own soil. So, “Let them find harshness in you” (At-Tawbah 123 [Chapter 9 of the Qur’an]). And remember that Allah’s Messenger said, “Never shall the kafir and his killer be united in the Fire” (Reported by Muslim from Abu Hurayrah [A hadith]).

Maybe it was too general, as in, not specific enough, unlike the meticulous knife murder instruction. Maybe. But Robin Wright has been a contributing writer for newyorker.com since 1988, with a string of other major media outlets to her name. Did this passage that she quoted not at least strike her as uniquely mediaeval?

Many people are often squeamish at the thought of plunging a sharp object into another person’s flesh. It is a discomfort caused by the untamed, inherent dislike for pain and death, especially after ‘modernization’ distanced males from partaking in the slaughtering of livestock for food and striking the enemy in war.

Wasn’t she even tempted to take just a peek at the rest of the thirty-eight pages? If she had, she’d have found the very first paragraph to say:

When mentioning the obligation of jihad for His cause, Allah indicated that some people would have reservations towards this noble commandment. He said, “Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it contains that which you dislike” (Al-Baqarah 216 [Chapter 2 of the Qur’an]). He then reminded the believers to place their trust in Him, by deferring to His infinite wisdom instead of relying upon their limited knowledge. “But perhaps you dislike a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not” (Al-Baqarah 216). He further taught them that if it were not for jihad, the world would be filled with corruption. “And if it were not for Allah curbing people by means of others, the earth would become corrupt, but Allah has much bounty for the creation” (Al-Baqarah 251).

Three times in an eighty-nine word opening paragraph, the Qur’an is quoted directly as the prelude for what is to follow. And what follows is page after page of incontestable demonstration that not only is the hand of ISIS on the knife, as Wright correctly reports, but the mouth of Allah is behind the commandments that the knife fulfils. ISIS is meticulous (to PhD standard; not just “slick,” as Wright describes, although it is that, too) in demonstrating exactly which command, chapter and verse, is being carried out by which terrorist action. Rumiyah is nothing if not the Qur’an made flesh. Yes, my words are deliberately chosen, for although Wright mentions the blood-covered knife on the cover, how could that picture score over two beheading action shots (pages 22 and 37), and a quadruple-beheading trophy pose (page 24)[1]? How is it possible to miss that all this grotesque carnage is the direct outcome of doing as Allah commands? How is it possible to write a 953-word piece on Rubiyah and not say a single word about the initiating role of the Qur’an in all this?

So here are my two challenges. My first challenge is to peaceful Muslims: it is your holy book that is causing all this — that has been causing this for fourteen hundred years — whether you know that or not, whether you ignore that or not, whether it hurts your sensibilities to be told that or not, your Holy Qur’an is doing this to our world. Your Holy Qur’an creates and sustains these monsters. Straight out of the Qur’an, mass murder is unleashed onto our streets.

You claim to be peaceful. You want the world to be nice to you. You want to get along with everybody. All of that is fine. We would like that, too. But tell us why anyone should believe that you are peaceful? The onus is on you to prove it: you are the one with the holy book that commands you to murder everyone else. Why should we believe you when you hold in reverence the book that commands you and ISIS alike? How can anyone trust you, if you are not prepared to show, like those of us who are not Muslim, that we not only abhor ISIS and its ilk, but that we abhor the source of the commandments they obey (commandments that you, too, are obliged to obey). How peaceful can you be, when you protect the very book responsible, directly or indirectly, for all the beheadings, the crucifixions, the enslavements, the amputations, the rapes, the knife rampages, the throwing off from cliffs and high buildings, the whippings and lashings, the ploughing of cars and trucks into pedestrians, and planes into buildings, and on, and on, and on? You may object that you do not do any of these things yourself, even that they repel you, and you may even be sincere, yet your first reaction to any Muslim terrorist mass killing is always to worry about your religion’s precious “good name,” while the rest of us rage for the victims, and exercise ourselves on how this mediaeval madness can be stopped. There are no ideas forthcoming from you, no suggestions, ever.

You hold silly little talks and quaint little eat-ins to show us how nice Muslims are. We know there are nice Muslims. We are not stupid. We want to stop the mass killings and you are not helping; yet it is your holy book that’s doing all this [2]. What are you doing about that? If nothing, then you should not be surprised to be sidelined when others go about solving the problem in the way they see fit, including treating you as part of the problem. Furthermore, you cannot complain when national governments, such as Hungary, Japan, Slovakia, India, Bulgaria, Switzerland, etc., take blanket actions against you, whether with or without ulterior motives. Your prevarication invites this and, given the overriding priority (for us) to save lives, makes such measures legitimate. By saying, “this has nothing to do with Islam,” you’re saying, “this is not our problem.” I’m sorry: it is your holy book; it is your problem.

The howls of indignation from Islamic apologists in response to such national measures merely bring into focus your apparent insensitivity to what your religion is doing to the world compared to your hypersensitivity to how that religion is viewed. I’m afraid not everyone shares your peculiar blend of sensibilities. Scottish law differentiates between guilty, not guilty and not proven, which is one obvious answer to the simplistic and much abused “innocent until proven guilty,” notion. For as long as you adhere to a holy book that exhorts you to murder, ipso facto, you cannot be proven innocent; the most you can hope for is not proven. When a Japanese Muslim responds to his country’s public safety measure by complaining, “They made us terrorist suspects, we never did anything wrong,” he may well be right about his second statement, but about the first he is wholly wrong. It is not government surveillance measures that make you a terror suspect; it is your adherence to a terror manual that makes you a terror suspect. So far, your best performance has been to keep that suspicion alive, at least amongst those of us who are not naïve or co-opted. You’ve not yet shared whatever knowledge you may have on how to tell the difference between Muslims who live and let live, and Muslims who die to kill. They all adhere to the same Qur’an, the same mass murder manual. Governments cannot be expected to sit idly by while their citizens get slaughtered. In the absence of anything better, blanket treatment is what you’re going to get.

My second challenge is to the Islamic apologists: You’re educated, right? So read Rumiyah and prove to us that what ISIS says about the Qur’an isn’t true. Otherwise, please keep out of this because, whatever your agenda, you’ve done enough damage. Your whitewashing and denials of the Qur’an’s compulsion to terrorism are an affront to the thousands of deaths resulting almost daily from it. Better still, get out of the way altogether so that those who are willing, can at least do what they can to arrest this headlong descent into an epochal nightmare. What? You’re appalled and outraged that a humanist should rely on Right-wing political parties? Do you know any philosopher-kings who are prepared to deal with this problem? Besides, it’s a strange objection, coming from you.

An oft-quoted version of Occam’s razor is, “Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler.” Robin Wright started out at the simplest possible, and unfortunately made things simpler. If she’d taken into account the rest of the publication, she might’ve done better than the inane, “the event could have come straight out of the Islamic State’s manual—and it appears to have inspired him.” She might’ve realised that the Qur’an, too, advises on when to strike, and which parts of the body to attack, and how, and that the Qur’an, too, glorifies killing and promises great rewards for doing so. She might’ve realised that the passage she quoted flows directly from chapter 2 of the Qur’an. The Rumiyah opening paragraph makes the connection explicit. Knowing this, she might, instead, have said, it came straight out of the Qur’an through the Islamic State’s manual—and it appears to have exhorted him. Inspired? No—that’s the wrong word. Inspired implies an independent creative act. This was nothing of the sort. Islam is nothing of the sort.


 

[1] It’s interesting how this photo is cropped to cut off the heads of the murderers. Who says there’s no art in Islam?

[2] What are we to make of “counter-extremism” think tanks that won’t even touch the Qur’an?

Comments

  1. polishsalami says

    I often wonder about the closest allies of “moderate” Muslims (ie. pro-religion “liberals):
    Why can’t they admit that one ideology — an ideology that they have no intention of ever aligning themselves with — is simply wrong?

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    All the holy books enjoin violence.

    E.g., Luke 22:36:

    … he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    That all the believers do not act on this provides great testimony to the sometimes-beneficial power of hypocrisy.

    • says

      This one’s been done to death so many times. It’s not the exhortation to violence per se, bad enough as that is, that makes the Qur’an unique. On this point its uniqueness consists in its exhortation to also kill the believers who do not act on these calls to violence. The problem for peaceful Muslims is that they are too civilised for own holy book (a problem that ISIS acknowledges in Wright’s quotation), but such Muslims find this clash of ethics extremely difficult to acknowledge on account of their childhood madrassa indoctrination, and they dare not question, let alone criticise, that book for fear of what the other believers might do to them. “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one,” —how jolly decent. Not only is the believer told to acquire a sword by honest means (the Qur’an urges deceit and violence), he is not even told what he shall do with it. If it then becomes a dinner party conversation piece, that’s fine. Or if he rather likes his shirt and would prefer not to part with it, no problem. The follower of any holy book other than the Qur’an does not place his or her life in danger by deviating from that holy book. No hypocrisy necessary. For the peaceful Muslim, hypocrisy is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately for everyone else, the very existence of the Muslim holy book is a matter of life and death.

      I fully understand why people call for the banning of the Qur’an, and I have sympathy for their position. But I maintain that that would be counter-productive, for the book will continue to circulate and would acquire the added value of a presumed good. Mein Kampf is a terrible book, but anyone is free to read it. Granted, it was never anyone’s “holy book”, but the point is that its contents do not influence us because it represents a regression in our ethics. The same would be true of the Qur’an, except that the ethics of its followers is carefully prepared for it over several years of early life. The Qur’an can only be reduced to a harmless book if children can make it through their early lives without exposure to the stunting and manipulation of the madrassas. The ban that’s going to make a difference here is a ban on all madrassas, including those run in private houses. We protect our children from drug-pushers in the park and paedophile groomers on the Internet, while madrassa teachers, who are even more dangerous, have easy access to our children. In this case, hypocrisy most definitely has no beneficial power.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    This one’s been done to death so many times.

    If repetition in itself made for a fatal flaw, this blog itself would not survive. But it does, and serves a worthwhile purpose.

    … its uniqueness consists in its exhortation to also kill the believers who do not act on these calls to violence.

    Point well taken. (Though I vaguely recall some call for shaming those who fail to battle the foe in the Old Testament, I feel no desire to read the damn thing again to try and find it…)

    … peaceful Muslims … are too civilised for own holy book …

    My point about peaceful Abrahamics all around.

    …such Muslims find this clash of ethics extremely difficult to acknowledge on account of their childhood madrassa indoctrination…

    If by “madrassa” you mean the exclusively-Qu’ranic fundamentalist-drill schools most famously found in the Saudi-Pakistan-India-Bangladesh belt, I suspect their students form a minority among Muslims worldwide. If you mean any kind of Islamic upbringing, the generalization seems too broad.

    Not only is the believer told to acquire a sword by honest means (the Qur’an urges deceit and violence), he is not even told what he shall do with it.

    The whole passage seems set up to have a disciple cut someone’s ear off, demonstrating the apostles’ rashness, and for Jesus to heal the victim – no doubt with bushels of symbolic meaning (why are two swords “enough”?), but easily appropriated in later history for more directly bloody-minded purposes.

    The follower of any holy book other than the Qur’an does not place his or her life in danger by deviating from that holy book.

    Perhaps not according to explicit instructions from that book, but in actual practice it worked exactly like that for many centuries (even, in Christendom, before the 13th-century Fourth Lateran Council required a yearly questioning of all followers as to which of their neighbors might have expressed any variations from orthodoxy).

    Mein Kampf is a terrible book, but anyone is free to read it. Granted, it was never anyone’s “holy book”…

    In practice, for 12 years after 1933 in Germany, lack of a prominently displayed copy in one’s home often led to visits by humorless men in brown shirts making pointed suggestions about deluxe editions available from every bookstore. Very unhealthy consequences occurred if no copy showed up on their return visits.

    The ban that’s going to make a difference here is a ban on all madrassas, including those run in private houses.

    Which would only create a backlash and an underground of militants, not to mention setting a precedent to be used by a wide variety of, shall we say, deplorables.

    In this case, hypocrisy most definitely has no beneficial power.

    Except among the same (large) population in which it already has exactly that effect.

    • says

      Interspersing responses is often efficient, but somewhat breaks down the coherence of the original piece if the secondary response does the same. So I’m only going to pick up on the key points.

      This one’s been done to death so many times. – If repetition in itself made for a fatal flaw, this blog itself would not survive. But it does, and serves a worthwhile purpose.

      This is a point well-taken. Thank you.

      … peaceful Muslims … are too civilised for own holy book …My point about peaceful Abrahamics all around.

      This is where I see things differently. The holy books of the other Abrahamics have been subjected to civilised norms and ethics. The holy book of Islam has not, and moreover, insists that its adherents kill to ensure that this never happens. The civilised Muslim is in conflict with an uncivilised holy book. The uncivilised Jew or Christian is in conflict with a hole book rendered civilised by secular law.

      …such Muslims find this clash of ethics extremely difficult to acknowledge on account of their childhood madrassa indoctrination… – If by “madrassa” you mean the exclusively-Qu’ranic fundamentalist-drill schools most famously found in the Saudi-Pakistan-India-Bangladesh belt, I suspect their students form a minority among Muslims worldwide. If you mean any kind of Islamic upbringing, the generalization seems too broad.

      Many madrassas, not necessarily in the “Saudi-Pakistan-India-Bangladesh belt,” exhort their pupils to religious violence in addition to the standard madrassa indoctrination. The standard madrassa indoctrination comprises: (i) rote learning the Qur’an; (ii) inculcation of unquestioning acceptance of whatever they are taught (on pain extreme rebuke and of ostracisation); (iii) inculcation of the superiority of Muslims, the disqualification of all non-Muslims to life, and the training in specific ways of showing contempt for and discriminating against non-Muslims. It is this last measure that makes me shake my head at the naivity of those non-Muslims who ride to the aid of “discriminated-against” Muslims. They have no notion that those “poor, vulnerable, helpless” Muslims regard them in the worst possible terms. Much, much worse than the way white supremacists regard blacks.

      The follower of any holy book other than the Qur’an does not place his or her life in danger by deviating from that holy book. – Perhaps not according to explicit instructions from that book, but in actual practice it worked exactly like that for many centuries (even, in Christendom, before the 13th-century Fourth Lateran Council required a yearly questioning of all followers as to which of their neighbors might have expressed any variations from orthodoxy).

      See response to point about Abrahamics, above.

      The ban that’s going to make a difference here is a ban on all madrassas, including those run in private houses.- Which would only create a backlash and an underground of militants, not to mention setting a precedent to be used by a wide variety of, shall we say, deplorables.

      This may be an inadequate way of dealing with the problem, and thank you for pointing out that inadequacy. But the objection fails to address the problem at all. Pointing out that a solution is not a good one doesn’t make the problem go away.

      In this case, hypocrisy most definitely has no beneficial power.- Except among the same (large) population in which it already has exactly that effect.

      I’m sorry. I need some clarification here.

      • Pierce R. Butler says

        Alas – a big-project deadline looms, so I can’t go into much depth now.

        They have no notion that those “poor, vulnerable, helpless” Muslims regard them in the worst possible terms.

        Probably so, in the more extreme cases – but “citation needed” doesn’t come near meeting the requirements to respond to a claim which essentially relies on mind reading.

        Pointing out that a solution is not a good one doesn’t make the problem go away.

        Indeed. But it may prevent making it worse.

        For the record, I recommend greatly improving secular education, particularly in science and history, all around the world. Since I haven’t figured out how to implement that, or to pay for the implementation (except raiding the Pentagon budget), feel free to disregard everything I say.

        … some clarification …

        Most Muslims continue to take care of their personal/family situations, giving lip service at most to “jihad” (and by that many mean some form of the nonviolent exercises of their religion – including its more benign facets, such as charity and hygiene). The most militant 1% (or maybe even 10%) surely squawk at them for their laziness – much as we see among, e.g., Christians – and get a most a little more lip service, plus a few recruits among young men with fuck-all else in the way of life options. And those latter will alienate themselves from family and former friends by accusations of the very same hypocrisy which I applaud.

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