2013-05-01

Why Haven’t Muslims Condemned Terrorism?

by Neil Godfrey

And it’s not just a handful of extremists, either: it’s the legions of “moderate” enablers who, through either intimidation or cowardice, refuse to decry their co-religionists. No surprise given that the penalty for apostasy is death . . . . (Jerry Coyne accusing Muslims of not speaking out against acts of terrorism)

esposito

John Esposito

Coyne is advertizing his ignorance and fanning the same among his readers. The following comes from The Future of Islam by John Esposito, an authority on Islam. Pages 29-33 –

Muslim Denial

The level of disbelief [that Muslims were responsible for 9/11] among Muslims was and is astonishing — families of the hijackers in Saudi Arabia reportedly stating that their children were in fact still alive and Arabs insisting that no Arab could learn how to fly planes into the Twin Towers.

Many Muslims and Arabs have remained in a state of denial over this: the U.S. government failed to provide hard evidence that Muslims were involved; Israeli intelligence were behind the attacks; there was a cover-up of some sort.

Media Distortions

What sells are stories of confrontation and conflict, crises and tragedy.

A small but vocal minority that celebrated the attacks [of 9/11] as “payback time” for failed American foreign policies in the Middle East enjoyed widespread media coverage. Some Palestinians celebrating in the streets were featured over and over again on major stations.

Overshadowed were the shock and concern of many mainstream Muslims.

book_argue_200-300

Deborah Tannen demonstrates that the principle followed by news media is “no fight, no story”. The media’s goal is not balanced coverage but to focus on conflict and tragedy. (Image links to Tannen’s site)

In fact the Gallup Poll found that 91% of Muslims interviewed believed the attacks were morally unjustified.

Few media outlets, then as now, covered the statements of Muslim leaders and organizations that did speak out, quickly issuing public statements, denouncing the terrorist attacks and expressing their condolences. Why were these voices not heard?

Muslims condemning violence and Islamic extremists simply don’t make it into the news headlines. This is why much of the public simply assumes that Muslims have not condemned terrorism.

Thus the actions of a dangerous minority of Muslim extremists and terrorists become the distorting prism through which all Muslims and their religion are seen and understood. . . The media’s failure to provide balanced coverage, thus compounding the problem . . . .

Even New York Times current affairs columnist Thomas Friedman declared the day after the London bombings that “no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.” Yet in fact, the New York Times itself on October 17, 2001, published a full-page ad from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty proclaiming:

Osama bin Laden hijacked four airplanes and a religion

along with published statements from some of the world’s most prominent Muslim leaders condemning the attacks, including:

  • The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and chairman of the Senior Ulama (Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Shaik
  • Principal of the Muslim College in London (Zaki Badawi)
  • Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai of Pakistan
  • King Abdulla II of Jordan
  • The Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

Earlier, September 14, 2001, the BBC reported condemnations of the 9/11 attacks as acts of terrorism by a significant, influential and diverse group of religious leaders ranging from

  • Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Cairo’s al-Azhar University and Grand Imam of the al-Azhar Mosque (viewed by many as one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam)

to

  • Ayatollah Kashani in Iran.

Others also strident in their condemnations:

  • Mustafa Mashhur (General Guide, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt)
  • Qazi Hussain Ahmed (Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Pakistan)
  • Muti Rahman Nizami (Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Bangladesh)
  • Sheikh Ahmad Yassin (founder, Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas], Palestine)
  • Rashid Ghannoushi (president, Nahda Renaissance Movement, Tunisia)
  • Fazil Nour (president, PAS — Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Malaysia)
  • forty other Muslim scholars and politicians

All the above signed their names to the following:

The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States which resulted in massive killing, destruction and attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another” (Surah al-Isra 17:15).

Fatwa against Osama bin Laden

September 27, 2001, a joint fatwa was issued condemning bin Laden’s actions of 9/11 and sanctioning Muslim participation in the U.S. military response in Afghanistan.

This was issued by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi (chairman of the Sunna and Sira Council, Qatar) and Sheikh Taha Jabir al-Alwani (chairman of the North American Fiqh Council).

It stated that every Muslim had a duty to work to apprehend and bring to justice anyone who had planned, participated in or financed such attacks.

Saudi condemnation of attacks on American civilians

Leading Saudi newspaper, the Arab News, shortly after the bombings targeting Americans in Saudi Arabia in May 2003:

Words are inadequate to express the shock, the revulsion, the outrage at the suicide bombings in Riyadh. Are expatriates working here an army of occupation, to be slaughtered and terrorized into leaving? . . . We cannot say that suicide bombings in Israel and Russia are acceptable but not in Saudi Arabia. The cult of suicide bombings has to stop. So too has the chattering, malicious, vindictive hate propaganda. It has provided a fertile ground for ignorance and hatred to grow.

There is much in US policy to condemn; there are many aspects of Western society that offend — and where necessary, Arab governments condemn. But anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism for their own sake are crude, ignorant and destructive. They create hate. They must end. Otherwise there will be more barbarities.

Esposito states that many major Muslim leaders and organizations continued to respond to every major terrorist attack. The attacks in London (2005), in Glasgow (2007), in Mumbai (2008), were all followed by global statements by Muslim leaders and organizations condemning the terrorists and their actions.

Response to the London attacks

In response to the London attacks of 2005 a fatwa was issued by over 500 British Muslim religious leaders and scholars,

expressing condolences to the families of the victims, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, and stating that Islam condemns violence and destruction of innocent lives and that suicide bombings are “vehemently prohibited.”

Al-Azhar’s Tantawi condemned those responsible for the London attacks as

criminals who do not represent Islam or even truly understand (its message).

Prominent Shiite scholar, Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah:

These crimes are not accepted by any religion. It is a barbarism wholly rejected by Islam.

Hamas and Hizbollah likewise condemned the London bombings of civilians.

So why the popular myth that Muslims do not condemn terrorism?

Yet the conventional wisdom that Muslims do not condemn terrorism dies hard. To this day, American audiences still raise this charge despite the fact that Muslim scholars’ and organizations’ extensive condemnations (including fatwas) of the 9/11 attacks and subsequent acts of terrorism, issued in countries from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia to the United States, can be readily found in the international press and on the Internet.

See, for instance,

Charles Kurzman, Islamic Statements Against Terrorism

Also:

Sheila Musaji, “Muslims Denounce Terrorism: Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism.”

Omid Safi, “Scholars of Islam & the Tragedy of Sept. 11th.

Tim Lubin, Washington and Lee University, “Islamic Responses to the Sept. 11 Attack.”

The Becket Fund, “Osama Bin Laden Hijacked Four Airplanes and a Religion,” October 17, 2001 (via archive.org).

Islam for Today, “Muslims Against Terrorism.”

ReligiousTolerance.org, “Aftermath of the 9-11 Terrorist Attack: Voices of Moderate Muslims.”

Al-Muhajabah’s Islamic Pages, “Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks.”

Juan Cole, “Friedman Wrong About Muslims Again,” July 9, 2005.

Fatwa-Online, “Worship Jihaad WTC – New York, USA – 9/11.”

Fatwa-Online, “Worship Jihaad Terrorism and Suicide Bombings.”

The bitter and sweet fruit of this

Because of these Islamophobia spreading among communities, along with hate-crimes, discrimination and an eroding of civil liberties, Western Muslims are forced to live in increasingly hostile and suspicious American and European environments.

Yet this experience did compel Western Muslims to simultaneously reassess their identity and reexamine their understanding of Islam. Among the positive outcomes have been acceleration of internal discussion and debate among Muslims over what it means to be a Muslim in America or Europe, greater outreach on the part of Muslims to their non-Muslim communities, and more Muslim involvement in electoral politics and public affairs. (p. 33)

(Guess the religion of the bareheaded female interviewer.)

70 Comments

  • muuh-gnu
    2013-05-02 06:45:48 UTC - 06:45 | Permalink

    Neil, you are so pitifully naive with regards to organized Islam, that I (and probably other people) do not even bother writing elaborate replies, you’re just too far off the track to justify the effort. You’re destroying the reputation of an otherwise wonderful and insightful blog, a blog that very strongly depends on a good reputation.

    You are a typical case of a Stalin’s “useful idiot”:

    “In political jargon, useful idiot is a pejorative term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they do not understand, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.”

    It of course is not my intent to call you an idiot, but the definition is perfectly fitting anyway. You are, intentionally or unintentionally contributing to strenghten a shield of untouchabilty for these people

    > http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3721.htm

    • 2013-05-02 07:11:55 UTC - 07:11 | Permalink

      What is there in the above post that indicates I am “naive with regards to organized Islam”? Can you point to what I have written that demonstrates this accusation? Or are you just saying that because I am arguing that crime needs to be fought with a good understanding of its motivations and context according to ALL of the evidence?

      Your analogy is apt: it reminds me of the days when voices like yours were wanting us all to panic over the Red Scare.

      What do you mean by “organized Islam”, exactly? I drew upon John Esposito’s work to quote several Islamic organizations. Were you aware of these?

      You don’t have to post a “reply” if by “reply” you mean a counter-claim to try to salvage the propaganda images that the data in the post demolishes; you are encouraged to actually grapple with the evidence and arguments presented.

      But it seems you want to do what the mainstream media are doing — drown out and hide the news that shows the leading representatives of the majority of Muslims are making such tedious and unnewsworthy condemnations of the very stuff that sells news stories and tickles the bigotries of readers/viewers.

      Tell me, if Muslims are so dedicated to terror or support of terror, why are so many of them unable to accept that Muslims or Arabs were responsible for 9/11?

      • 2013-05-02 13:43:11 UTC - 13:43 | Permalink

        John Esposito’s book The Future of Islam, was released just before he delivered the 2008 Firth Lecture at Nottingham. He is an excellent, honest and compassionate scholar. His contribution to knowledge on Islam and human beings is immense. It’s a tragedy that there are so many who just don’t want to hear what they don’t want to know. Another important post, kia kaha.

  • proudfootz
    2013-05-02 07:47:13 UTC - 07:47 | Permalink

    Another great post – thank you for your efforts to make available the facts which belie the propaganda efforts of Euro-chauvinists to turn the many political and economic flashpoints into a ‘culture war’.

    • 2013-05-02 08:40:20 UTC - 08:40 | Permalink

      Thanks, I am as proud of these posts as I am of those on biblical scholarship. In both I attempt to bring to light the hard facts (way too hard for many people to accept) that, as you say, belie the propaganda and popular hysteria we have seen replacing the old fears of the Cold War era.

      I wonder, however, how many like “muuh-gnu” even bothered to read the details of the post, of if they merely let their eyes glaze over it with revulsion. As Charles Kurzman, the author of the first of the linked sites, says, he plans to add more statements of prominent Muslims attacking terrorist acts, but adds pointedly that if the dozens he has already listed don’t persuade anyone, what good would more do anyway?

      It is instructive, too, that those who have expressed the most close-minded fear of this mythical Islam (singular) appear to fully support the political agenda it serves to rationalize.

  • 2013-05-02 09:23:27 UTC - 09:23 | Permalink

    I’m not sure I follow what you are suggesting about news coverage in the U.S. For years Fox News has been the one to always compalin that CBS, NBC, and ABC were generally far too liberal for most who live here; and Fox News was the one who always calling those other networks “the mainstram media” as if Fox was the more objective or more “balanced” (also more conservative) news source. To me, it seems like all of those news organizations have been competing, and sometimes they have called one another out on bad reporting, or at least Fox has done that pretty often.

    There is also that facet where a few, or maybe more, who report stories via the Internet (only or entirely) want to claim that all other news that comes from long-standing or perennial sources isn’t serving the public well [Then we have all of those local news sources that are spread across the coutry also checking into everything and deciding for themselves]–as some startups on the Internet can rather simply just want to gain attention thus more followers/readers and so need to portray all of the other sources as conspiratorial or slanted except them. Personally, I find CBS very good, also too sophisticated to want to report any story for the sake of “confrontation” or simply to genrate more interest due to the presence of “conflict” [check out Scott Pelley] since that approach would backfire if they didn’t follow some unimpeachable journalistic standards. I also used to watch Fox News for several years and tried to explain my perspectives as a new atheist in emails sent to Bill O’Reilly, which at times it seemed as if he and I agreed, but he always reverted back to his Caholicism and I had to quit watching Fox some two, or possibly even three, years ago.

    At one point you seem to put the blame of 9/11 on Osama bin Laden and/or al Qaeda, then you make a statement like this today: “Many Muslims and Arabs have remained in a state of denial over this: the U.S. government failed to provide hard evidence that Muslims were involved; Israeli intelligence were behind the attacks; there was a cover-up of some sort.”

    I’m trying very hard, Neil, to accentuate your many strengths and great qualities as I have most definitely seen those on your blog, but I’m not going to be trashing out or general news reporting in the U.S. any time soon. You should have seen how the networks attacked George Bush for many years–2006 through 2008, and even through 2009–here very scathingly!!! I watched all of that. Your complaint about the news isn’t registering with me.

    • 2013-05-02 12:12:03 UTC - 12:12 | Permalink

      The simple fact that so many people are unaware that the main body of the Islamic communities world-wide have loudly spoken out condemning terrorist attacks is surely hard evidence of the culpable failure of our mainstream media.

      As for the extremely narrow range of debate (usually between different factions of the power elites) that is covered by the mainstream newsmedia I recommend you have a look at the Chomsky-Marr video that Tim posted in The Awesome Power of Self-Selection.

      At one point you seem to put the blame of 9/11 on Osama bin Laden and/or al Qaeda, then you make a statement like this today: “Many Muslims and Arabs have remained in a state of denial over this: the U.S. government failed to provide hard evidence that Muslims were involved; Israeli intelligence were behind the attacks; there was a cover-up of some sort.”

      What do you find problematic about my statement? I repeated the reasons possibly most Muslims and Arabs give for explaining away the 9/11 attacks. They cannot imagine that Muslims could possibly have carried out such a crime and these are the sorts of explanations they find easier to believe.

      (By the way, no-one has ever produced any evidence that 9/11 was carried out by bin Laden or al-Qaeda in the Middle East. In the early years of this blog I did a small series of posts on Tony Burke’s Al-Qaeda, reputed at the time to be one of the best and most informative books on al-Qaeda. All the evidence points to 9/11 being conceived, planned and carried out by a small cell of four men alone. That’s how ‘al-Qaeda’ worked — small cells who acted independently, without any coordination or direction from a central body or person. Scary.)

      As for the media’s failure to address the real issues, I can recommend many works: One of these is Rich Media, Poor Democracy; probably the best is Taking the Risk Out of Democracy; and then there’s the perennial classic, Manufacturing Consent.

      The fundamental point to understand is that the business of the media is not to serve you with what you want to know. It is to make money in a highly competitive market, and that means selling readership to advertisers. It also means finding new ways to make efficiencies, such as relying on press releases from governments and corporations for “news”. The only debates they throw into the public view are the debates among the government and corporate persons themselves. That’s why they whip up public support for war after war of aggression, silencing voices that expose the falsity of the “evidence” presented to justify each war — until a particular war becomes too costly to sustain.

  • Al
    2013-05-02 18:57:52 UTC - 18:57 | Permalink

    I like Coyne’s logic here. The moderates don’t decry their co-religionist because they are intimidated. Surely, though, that must mean that moderates don’t agree with the actions of extremists at all. If moderates did actually agree with and support extremists, there would be no need for extremist to intimidate or threaten moderates, as they would support extremists willingly.

    • 2013-05-02 19:31:13 UTC - 19:31 | Permalink

      Good point. And why would apparently the bulk of the Arab and Muslim world find it so hard to swallow Muslim Arabs being responsible for 9/11. You’d think they’d be proud to admit it if Jerry and co made any sense.

      • Al
        2013-05-02 20:24:11 UTC - 20:24 | Permalink

        Probably something to do with taqiya, I guess.

  • 2013-05-02 20:17:15 UTC - 20:17 | Permalink

    Okay. But for some Muslims this is the future of Islam as taught in some of their literature:

    Said to be from Muhammad: “The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s.”

    From Umm Salama: “His [the Mahdi's] aim is to establish a moral system from which all superstitious faiths have been eliminated. In the same way that students enter Islam, so unbelievers will come to believe.”

    “When the Mahdi appears, Allah will cause such power of vision and hearing to be manifested in believers that the Mahdi will call to the whole world from where he is, with no postman involved, and they will hear and even see him.”

    I heard the Messenger of Allah say: “The Mahdi is of my lineage and family”

    Abu Sa`id al-Khudri said:

    The Messenger of Allah said: “He is one of us”

    The Messenger of Allah said: “The Mahdi is of my lineage, with a high forehead and a long, thin, curved nose. He will fill the earth with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.

    The Messenger of Allah said: “At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will grant him rain, the earth will bring forth its fruits, he will give a lot of money, cattle will increase and the ummah will become great. He will rule for seven or eight years.

    A typical modernist in his views on the Mahdi, Abul Ala Maududi (1903–1979), the Pakistani Islamic revivalist, stated that the Mahdi will be a modern Islamic reformer/statesman, who will unite the Ummah and revolutionise the world according to the ideology of Islam, but will never claim to be the Mahdi, instead receiving posthumous recognition as such. [Yeah, right, dude. What lengths they will go to in order to save their man-made falsehoods!--all Abrahamic religions that is. What's in brackets here is my comment on this. -DL]

    There is also Muslim literature that says Mahdi will come up out of a well when the end times come. I didn’t try to find that part right now for this comment.

    And so my question after all of that is this: Why make a secular Islam? Why not just call it secularism and then some can explain how they are influenced by some of the things that came from Muhammad? That’s what I do with Christianity: I tell people that I am a secularist/atheist but do retain some influences from Christianity.

    • 2013-05-02 20:44:46 UTC - 20:44 | Permalink

      I don’t understand your question. Islam is a religion. It’s not secular by definition. (And I don’t understand your point of the different teachings about the Mahdi. I would not be surprised if you can find as many weird and wacky ideas about that as you can about the anti-christ or second coming in Christianity.)

      • 2013-05-03 03:30:26 UTC - 03:30 | Permalink

        Neil, my comment just above was about what at least some, or maybe even most, Muslims envision for “The Future of Islam” (what the video in your post at the top is called) with regard their religion’s goal or end game, which I was looking into that back in 2006, which is how I happen to know about it. People who really believe that a religion is true will come on board with its ultimate goal and/or program–the religion’s scenario playing out with some sort of purpose in relation to its believed narrative. My impression right now is that most Muslims believe that Mahdi will one day come, along with everything else the ultimate goal of Islam entails, which is bad. I can’t tell you at this point what percent believe in Mahdi, however. But to even become a Muslim, a person must adopt each of its five pillars–the first of which is about accepting what the Quran says as being true since it’s seen as having come from God, through Muhammad (his messenger), to them.

        I have another big problem with that entire religion, equally as weighty to this one which I have just stated here about Mahdi–just as weighty for this topic, at least in my opinion– . . . . . .

        ————————————————

        My next question is how can anyone accept the Quran as really from God and not be radicalized by it? The Quran mentions the word “hell” 147 times, usually explaining or emphasizing how all nonbelivers will go there. That alone is radicalizing!

        Just below are some stats that show what I found while checking into this, some of which I had to do myself, like checking the number of suras in each chapter of the Qur’an, then adding them up.

        Number of verses/suras:

        Qur’an 5,757

        New Testament 7,959

        Old Testament 23,214

        How many times the word “hell” is mentioned:

        Qur’an 147

        New Testament 22

        Old Testament 32 (but in the OT, “hell” typically only meant a mysterious place of the dead, or simply the grave)

        • 2013-05-03 06:50:03 UTC - 06:50 | Permalink

          None of this is adding anything to the discussion. It is entirely your own idiosyncratic reasoning that bears no relationship to any research data or serious studies about Muslims or with what Muslims themselves are currently debating about their own religion and its future in this world.

          • Appollonius
            2013-05-03 09:19:44 UTC - 09:19 | Permalink

            I have some difficulties to see how the concept of “hell” may have smth to do with religious radicalization, and the argument fails to provide any demonstration: I don’t actually get what’s the point as:

            a) in the 7th century (“birth” of Islam): the concepts of Hell and Heaven were already more or less defined in the Abrahamic monotheism paradigm:

            which wasn’t the case during the writing of the OT (early Judaism hadn’t any concept of Hell or of afterlife as we know it now, and most likely borrowed it during the Hellenic era from the Hellenic pagan paradigm), same applies more or less for the NT (the concepts of Hell/Heaven, Purgatory, Limbo, etc… have been slowly developed and defined through Theology during centuries, same applies for Rabbinic Judaism): point being that when Islam appeared the concepts of Hell & Heaven were already quite elaborated (compared to the OT writing’s time, and first/second centuries( genesis of Christianism, and emergence of Rabbinic Judaism)) in the two other monotheisms : not specifically in their holy scriptures -as said earlier those concepts weren’t well defined, or understood, but in their theologies in the 7th century, and Islam has been influenced by both Judaism and Christianism, as well by Zoroastrianism.

            b) Hell and Heaven have more to do with a classic reward/punishment system (most of religions are based on this kind of “afterlife bargaining”), thus submission to a set of rules/beliefs than incentives to radicalization or violence: i.e.: you follow the rules, you got the jackpot, if not you burn … radicalization is more related to concepts like “Holy War”, “Crusade” or “fight the Infidels”, and “jihad”, etc…

            c) to counterbalance this “Hell’s argument”, one could say that images are far more efficient than words (and have always been used for propaganda use as well for religion): and thing is that you can cross the whole Muslim world ( nowadays or all the past centuries since Muhammad) and you will hardly find any representation of Hell in any mosque, or in any religious book (certainly not the Quran), on the opposite, representations of Hell (and all the terrible punishments awaiting the “bad guys”) were (and still are) widespread in all the Christian world: considering the degree of literacy in the past centuries, whether in the Christian world or Muslim world, one might say that seeing at every mass (or every time one would enter in a church) representations of Hell had certainly quite more effect than hearing the word “hell” during the Friday sermon (when and if the word was used).

            d) to focus on the radicalization matter, one would say that the word “war” or its association to God/Allah might be more interesting to “demonstrate” the impact of religious books on violent radicalization: thing is that applying the same exact logic would lead to the opposite result as :

            1) no where in the Quran, Allah is associated to the concept/word of “war”, when in the Bible, “Lord of the Armies” (Yahweh Sabbaoth) is the first title of God after its “proper names” (i.e.: Yahweh, El, Elohim, Adonai) more than 285 times, for Allah the first attribute after Allah or Lord is the Merciful (All-Merciful, Most Merciful, etc…) more than 320 times

            2) regarding the word “war”, I won’t try to count the number of times it’s used in the Bible, so let’s focus on the Quran, the word “war” in Arabic is harb : built on the triliteral root ḥa ra ba (ح ر ب), there are 114 suras, more than 6236 verses (however some might argue about this number, well it doesn’t change a lot…), there are 11 occurrences of the triliteral root “hrb” : 6 directly related to the concept of “war” (harb) et 5 related to the word “mihrab” (the small niche in a mosque indicating the qibla/direction of Mecca) with no relation to “war” ; you’ll find 8 other words related to the semantic field of concept “war” (prisoners of war and spoils of war) so a total of 14 references to the idea of “war” stricto sensu or to prisoners/spoils of war…that hardly makes of the Quran a kind of war manual or Mein Kampf, at least compared to the Bible.

            To conclude, here I didn’t try to prove anything with this word counting, just to show that it’s more or less pointless: my point was mainly to show that you can’t use this kind of linguistic arithmetic to try to demonstrate the realities of the various manifestations of a religion: religions aren’t some metaphysical objects, orbiting in some metaphysical matrix out of Time and Space, but are “live things” (like the cultures which created them) which manifestations exist only through people who not only follow them, but also change them, adapt them, understand them in plenty of ways, etc…and human nature being what it is, between the world of words/ideas and the world of men, there is quite a colossal difference…

            • 2013-05-03 10:03:14 UTC - 10:03 | Permalink

              Who cares about all of that, Apollonius? When some think that others who don’t accept what they believe should go to eternal suffering, that is called violence, even if it’s postponed. We dont need long explantions like yours on that. It’s utterly simple. Neil should have commented instead of you. 147 to 22 is very bad! Rememeber the damn five pillars of Islam that must be adopted to even become a Muslim! Read all of those intolerant, hateful, and small-minded verses abut hell in the Qur’an, would you please? Some of us, who have been more patient, are beginning to get disgusted at this point. What is this anyway, some sort of far-left blog all of a sudden? No longer about historical and religious texts? I’m beginning to lose my patience now. Maybe I should just leave and let all of you on the extreme left just praise one another continually here. By the way: Neil’s explantion about the media bias didn’t actually reperesent the reality, but I let that pass for these other items that should have caused him to backpedal a good bit. Good luck Roger Lambert! I don’t know what else to say to such people. I tried to listen and modify in the ways I should, but that wasn’t enough. Jesus Christ (used as an American curse word here)! I don’t think I’ll check your responses to this. I think I’ll just leave for good now. Sorry it had to come to this. I used to appreciate this blog very much, even though that hasn’t been for a very long time yet. Thanks for allowing me to comment like you have, but I can’t really stand it here any more.

              • 2013-05-03 10:13:47 UTC - 10:13 | Permalink

                This blog is what it has always been: an effort to get to the facts, the scholarly research, the real data — and to wrap it all up in valid argument or simply let it speak without the usual wrapping of the myths that usually accompany it all in the mass media. It takes as much effort and self-reflection to learn the facts about events we hear of through the media as it does to test the truthfulness of our past religious fantasies.

                I’m grateful to Apollonius for taking the time he did to seriously respond to your comment. (My own response had simply waved your point aside as irrelevant.)

                P.S. When you equate belief in Hell with “violence” you may have a semantic point, but you have no grounds for saying that such a belief is likely to make believers themselves violent. We need to keep in touch with the realities of the people who are Muslims.

              • Appollonius
                2013-05-03 11:39:39 UTC - 11:39 | Permalink

                the point was simply that the elaboration of a concept takes time (and importance, significance or understanding of a concept may also vary: example the Greek concept of Logos), and it seemed to me that you ignored the chronology: pointing the the number of times “hell” is mentioned in the OT, NT and Quran, without acknowledging that at the time of writing of the OT, and NT, the very concept of “Hell” was quite confused or non-existing (OT), and not as fundamental as it became later in Christian theology (for example, how the concept of Hell was already important in Christianism when Islam appeared), can’t really prove any point you were trying to prove…

                i.e. : early Judaism didn’t know the concept of “Hell”, so it’s quite logical that there would be no or very few mention of “hell” in earliest parts of OT (pre-Hellenic Judaism), then considering how important the concept of Hell became in Christian theology/religion (at the time of writing of the NT, Jesus was supposed to come back within the lifetime of his apostles, the idea of Hell was quite secondary), to actually “make a point”, you should have compared the importance of the concept of Hell in both religions (i.e. theological corpus and in the “daily life” of believers), and then show how in Islam it was/is supposedly a determining factor for the radicalization of (some or all) Muslims.

                To make it clearer, following the same logic, one could use the concept of “Trinity”, and say that a significant aspect of Islam is the rejection of this concept: however, considering that the very concept of Trinity isn’t really obvious in the NT, what would be the point if one doesn’t mention the long elaboration (during centuries) of this concept and its crucial importance in Christian theology/religion…basically, using this arithmetic “word counting” logic, the very concept of Trinity – as its definition doesn’t appear in the NT- should have no relevance for the study of Christianism…

                The importance of any religious concept has more to do with its importance in the whole theological corpus and/or religious paradigm than with the number of occurrences in its holy scriptures : for example, you evoked the concept of Mahdi, this concept is nowhere to be found in the Quran: following your “word counting” logic, the concept of Mahdi should have no importance in understanding the beliefs of Muslim people.

                That’s all.

          • 2013-05-03 09:30:53 UTC - 09:30 | Permalink

            It’s very important what most Muslims think, Neil. The eventual GOAL that most Muslims may have in their minds–as adopted from the Qur’an–is extremely important to this debate. You just haven’t been trained, even though you are indeed extremely well-read, or else you just haven’t trained yourself in the way I have been forced to do in recent years because of all of the false garbage out there vying for too much of our minds, to get to the heart of the WHOLE MATTER by thinking about this topic from this kind of approach. It’s extremely logical to find out what the MAIN GOAL of either most or nearly all Muslims is in relation to the future of the world. This is simply a different kind of evidence–yet very real tangible evidence that could be collected by simply polling enough Muslims–which too many scholars right now don’t want to think about.

            • 2013-05-03 09:44:20 UTC - 09:44 | Permalink


              It’s very important what most Muslims think, Neil.

              Agreed. So we should ask Muslims what they think and read the findings of others who have done so. If, when I was a Christian, someone told me he or she could tell what I was thinking because they had read the Bible I would not have been convinced. I would want them to ask me what I thought. You can’t just assume that scholars “don’t want to think” about the things you believe are important. You can’t know their motives or reasons they focus on what they do unless you engage with them.

  • 2013-05-02 20:22:08 UTC - 20:22 | Permalink

    Maybe the real Mahdi will be an atheist who will end all “superstitious faiths,” including Islam.

  • 2013-05-03 00:14:57 UTC - 00:14 | Permalink

    another 23.1 percent of respondents — 300 million Muslims

    No, it did not say that.

    It said that about 7% found 9/11 “fully” justified. Another 6.5 % “mostly” justified. Another 23.1 percent of respondents found that the 9/11 attacks were is some way justified, ie, not unjustified. Total = 38.6% of Muslims – 460 million people – found 9/11 attacks justified in some way.

    Do you see how this makes a huge problem for your argument?

  • 2013-05-03 00:18:34 UTC - 00:18 | Permalink

    Sorry – formatting error!

    “In fact the Gallup Poll found that 91% of Muslims interviewed believed the attacks were morally unjustified.”

    No, it did not say that.

    It said that about 7% found 9/11 “fully” justified. Another 6.5 % “mostly” justified. Another 23.1 percent of respondents found that the 9/11 attacks were is some way justified, ie, not unjustified. Total = 38.6% of Muslims – 460 million people – found 9/11 attacks justified in some way, ie NOT “morally unjustified”.

    Do you see how this makes a huge problem for your argument?

    • 2013-05-03 00:28:30 UTC - 00:28 | Permalink

      Can you point us to the poll in question before we go any further with this?

      • 2013-05-03 04:49:21 UTC - 04:49 | Permalink

        You are the one who brought it up?

        I can not find the original report, but here is a critique of the derivation and significance of the 7% figure, and reference to the numbers I quoted:

        http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/just-like-us-really

        • 2013-05-03 05:36:58 UTC - 05:36 | Permalink

          Just so you have as much info as possible at your disposal, you might like to know more about the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

          http://www.rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/washington_institute_for_near_east_policy

          • 2013-05-04 00:41:42 UTC - 00:41 | Permalink

            Yup – that seemed pretty clear from the tone of that place. That doesn’t mean, of course, that what the fellow said in his critique of the book wasn’t trenchant.

        • 2013-05-03 07:04:34 UTC - 07:04 | Permalink

          I smell a sequel to Damned Lies, Statistics and Muslims coming up. Esposito’s figures are based on a wealth of Gallup polling data and his books have earned him a high reputation in the scholarly and wider world. As soon as I receive his volume in which he itemizes the breakdown of all such figures I will be posting on it here.

          What you link to here is just an op-ed piece. We don’t know what the actual questions were, how they were phrased, of whom they were asked, . . . . . When I post figures or any data on this blog I try to establish some authoritative basis for them or link to sources where the data can be verified by readers for themselves.

          • 2013-05-03 07:52:03 UTC - 07:52 | Permalink

            The Kindle version of Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Gallup) is really cheap, so I bought it.

            http://www.amazon.com/Who-Speaks-For-Islam-ebook/dp/B0022NGACK/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

            Sadly, as you can see in the comments on Amazon, many people reject it because it doesn’t fit with the Islam they “know”. The neocons just might get their World War III after all.

          • 2013-05-04 00:48:33 UTC - 00:48 | Permalink

            ” Esposito’s figures are based on a wealth of Gallup polling data and his books have earned him a high reputation in the scholarly and wider world.”

            Which makes it all the more galling and fishy that we can’t lay our hands on the Gallup data itself, which seems to have disappeared down a rat hole, if it ever was available to the public. However – I think it is more plausible that the critique article by Washington Institute for Near East Policy is more believable than your statement regarding the 7%, Neil, because Gallup is not the only pollster out there looking at these questions. 7% is an outlier, not a normative finding.

            Actually pretty incredible how little reliable information we have on the minds of 1.6 billion people.

            • 2013-05-04 10:16:16 UTC - 10:16 | Permalink

              I’m losing track of your point. I have never questioned a 7% figure. What I said was: “We don’t know what the actual questions were, how they were phrased, of whom they were asked, . . . . . When I post figures or any data on this blog I try to establish some authoritative basis for them or link to sources where the data can be verified by readers for themselves.”

              Actually we have a lot of reliable information about what is on the minds of Muslims in many countries. It’s not only in polling data, either. It’s because this reliable information is not acknowledged by so many that I am doing some of these posts. The post here, for instance, tells us exactly was was on the minds of significant leaders of Islam and Islamic organizations — with their names, words and citations where you can check the information for yourself — regarding 9/11 and other terrorist attacks.

              I’m asking you to let the reliable information register in your arguments.

              • 2013-05-05 01:02:55 UTC - 01:02 | Permalink

                Neil – you used the 7% figure completely incorrectly. I know you didn’t question it – that’s the whole point. You asserted that only 7% supported suicide bombing – I showed you were that figure was evidently only a subset of the Muslims in the survey who supported it. What gives?

              • 2013-05-05 01:18:03 UTC - 01:18 | Permalink

                Sorry for being dense, Roger, but i still don’t know what or where this 7% figure you are talking about is. If I am supposed to have used it incorrectly, as you say, can you please tell me where I did and how I was incorrect.

    • 2013-05-03 05:28:11 UTC - 05:28 | Permalink

      I can’t find the numbers you’re quoting on Gallup’s web site. Did you find them there, or did you quote them from an anti-Islamic web site? They just might have an axe to grind.

      I did find this bit of polling analysis from Gallup:

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/28678/framing-war-terror.aspx

      Here’s an excerpt:

      Gallup probed respondents further and actually asked both those who condoned and condemned extremist acts why they said what they did. The responses fly in the face of conventional wisdom. For example, in Indonesia, the largest Muslim majority country in the world, many of those who condemned terrorism cited humanitarian or religious justifications to support their response. For example, one woman said, “Killing one life is as sinful as killing the whole world ,” paraphrasing verse 5:32 in the Quran.

      On the other hand, not a single respondent in Indonesia who condoned the attacks of 9/11 cited the Quran for justification. Instead, this group’s responses were markedly secular and worldly. For example, one Indonesian respondent said, “The U.S. government is too controlling toward other countries, seems like colonizing.”

      The real difference between those who condone terrorist acts and all others is about politics, not piety. For example, the politically radicalized often cite “occupation and U.S. domination” as their greatest fear for their country and only a small minority of them agree the United States would allow people in the region to fashion their own political future or that it is serious about supporting democracy in the region. Also, among this group’s top responses was the view that to better relations with the Muslim world, the West should respect Islam and stop imposing its beliefs and policies. In contrast, moderates most often mentioned economic problems as their greatest fear for their country, and along with respecting Islam, they see economic support and investments as a way for the West to better relations. Moderates are also more likely than the politically radicalized to say the United States is serious about promoting democracy.

      • Appollonius
        2013-05-03 08:30:57 UTC - 08:30 | Permalink

        here a link on an interesting Gallup poll on American Muslims: Muslims Americans more likely than other faith groups to reject attacks on civilians

        http://www.gallup.com/poll/148763/muslim-americans-no-justification-violence.aspx

        It’s part of a wider survey conducted throughout 2010

        To summarize quickly: American Muslims are less likely to condone violence against civilians (whether by military or individuals/small groups (i.e. “terrorists”)) than Protestants, Catholics, Jews and even Atheists/Agnostics/No Religion

        Considering that all of this so called “clash of civilizations” quite often relates to the ambiguous relations between USA and Islam, I think it’s quite interesting to see how Americans perceive violence against civilians, according to their beliefs or non-beliefs: the results of this survey might enlighten some…

        • 2013-05-03 08:42:04 UTC - 08:42 | Permalink

          Interesting to see atheists and the nonreligious coming out as less violent than Christians and Jews, and closer to reality in their perceptions of Muslims than Christians or Jews, though the margin of difference may not be quite as striking when one considers the margin of error.

          We are all taught that our organized violence against civilians is quite justified. Vaporizing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was in the interests of saving the lives of our uniformed combatants. But a Nazi officer who shot civilians to intimidate an occupied village into refraining from killing his soldiers was rightly treated as a criminal. Now Sam Harris can seriously argue a case when nuking Iran would be good for the world.

          • Appollonius
            2013-05-03 09:50:53 UTC - 09:50 | Permalink

            well, a famous (ancient) guy, once said “don’t treat the enemies of Mankind the way enemies of Mankind treat Mankind” (approximate translation of one of Marcus Aurelius’s thoughts)…I think he said all…once you start justifying killing of civilians, there is no more difference between the “good guys” or the “bad guys” : you’ll know who are the good guys only with the outcome (who will win) then that will determine when killing of civilians is “justified” and when it’s not, or more precisely what kind of civilians can “legitimately” be killed and which ones can’t.

            One thing which quite often makes me to wonder is this concept of “war on terror”, justifying the “accidental” killing of civilians: what makes me wonder is how people can forget that war is by definition is “terror”, a daily terror for whoever has to live it, while terrorism might be defined as “random/temporary terror”: in one case, you can go on with your daily life, in another the concept of “daily life” has no more meaning: I think that’s smth many seem to not understand, when closing their eyes on what “war on terror” actually means for other civilians like them…

            well as you may have notice with your recent and numerous arguments about “islamophobia and perception of Muslims”, when it’s facts vs mass propaganda, propaganda most of the time wins…mains reason: facts require individual reasoning and distanciation from preconceived ideas when propaganda is based on the K.I.S.S method (Keep It Simple and Stupid): emotions vs Reason…one will need a lot of facts to counterbalance prejudices and preconceived notions, quite a lot of facts…

            • 2013-05-03 10:01:31 UTC - 10:01 | Permalink

              Amen. My whole point has been to point out some real data, research findings, hard facts, as an antidote to popular myths. Have posted in the past research studies on why facts don’t change people’s beliefs, and as long as that was in the context of religion most readers loved those posts. But now, when it’s something really important . . . . .

              • Appollonius
                2013-05-03 10:29:24 UTC - 10:29 | Permalink

                well, that only shows that one can’t say that only “religious” minds reject facts , some so-called “rational” ones too…one doesn’t need supernatural beliefs to refuse facts, prejudices and preconceived ideas are quite enough (of course a TV screen is quite helpful)…now the question, how those particular “ones” can blame “religious” minds for denying objective facts ? …well, it’s an old story, and when it’s about the East, the Orient, the Other, etc…I think E. Saïd’s book provides quite enough explanation about this prejudiced “blindness” of the so-called righteous “rational” and civilized ones…once you decided that the “Other” is what/who you think he/she is, there is really no need to consider how actually he/she defines himself/herself, after all, he/she lacks those civilized virtues and qualities, necessary to “rationally” and objectively judge…no?

                Here the “war” isn’t and never was about “democracy”, terror or any other propaganda meme…it’s today the same as it was yesterday: Power…to reach Power or Hegemony, you can use as an excuse Religion (Christianism/Islam), Reason/Civilization (Colonialism), Democracy (well, we are “in”…) or whatever you want as long as you’re the more powerful…but facts, they have no relevance…only the balance of powers determines who is “right”/good and who is “wrong”/evil…well, we all know that.

                one should wonder if anything will ever change…

              • 2013-05-03 10:45:58 UTC - 10:45 | Permalink

                I have tried at times to address the historical context of the endless wars we seem to be engaged in and have been severely criticized for being “anti-American” for my efforts. I wonder if it ever occurs to those who accuse me of this that they only see my view as “anti-American” because they themselves are ensconced in the bubble of American exceptionalism. Just like Britain before her, America is viewed as the moral nation, the truly civilizing power of the world whose greatness is entirely the happenstance side-result of mostly good intentions. To suggest that America’s policies in the world can be explained in the very same terms as any other great power’s actions in the past is, for these people, to be “anti-American”. If we don’t believe the U.S. is exceptional then we are treated as being “against” the U.S. Bush merely made explicit what most people believe anyway: you’re for us or against us.

                Australia acts the same way on a smaller scale in the Pacific-Asia region.

                Understanding reality — seeing ourselves as part of history and without the national myths that blinker our vision — is not being “anti” anyone. It’s an attempt to live in the world of reality. But reality has little appeal for many of us, as these sorts of posts are revealing.

              • Appollonius
                2013-05-03 10:52:55 UTC - 10:52 | Permalink

                p.s.: don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s great (and somehow brave, considering the current “weather”) what you’re trying to do, and even if you change the mind of only one “convinced and certain” person, that would be already a great achievement as this stupid and erroneous logic of “clash of civilization” is trying to make all of us “soldiers” (and internet has become part of the theater>warfare, at least for people with convictions and ideals, whatever they are): i.e.: you have to choose your camp, “you are with or against us” (keep it simple and stupid!)…facts might be enough against propaganda, however Time goes and one day, people will judge our time through sole facts as current propaganda would have no more use, thus they will also judge us…and well, if all turns bad, better at least to let them know, that there were some who tried…with their simple and humble means…that of course doesn’t apply only to this particular topic, but too many others: climate change, defence of liberties and justice, etc…

              • Appollonius
                2013-05-03 11:03:44 UTC - 11:03 | Permalink

                well, our messages crossed, we’re on the same page…national myths…in France, we also had our moment, with the same excuses (civilizing the barbarians, enlightening the World)…and well, there is no more French Empire, just a “small” European country…and yes, with some nostalgy for the Good Ol’ Time…but yet, we have learned to “relativize” (yes, Germans “humbled” us a bit …) and are champions of self-criticism (national sport) …greatness isn’t synonym of (military) might…and military might isn’t synonym of greatness, well as long as you prefer to associate greatness for what civilization actually means…of course, one can define civilization in plenty of ways…

          • 2013-05-03 13:15:55 UTC - 13:15 | Permalink

            A significant number of Americans will accept any pretext for state violence. It makes them feel strong and safe.

            I wonder if the West’s perception of Islam has something to do with Freudian projection.

            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.

            Contrast this with data taken the same year from some of the largest majority Muslim nations, in which 74% of respondents in Indonesia agree that terrorist attacks are “never justified”; in Pakistan, that figure is 86%; in Bangladesh, 81%; 79 and in Iran, 80%.

            Similarly, 6% of the American public thinks that attacks in which civilians are targets are “completely justified.” As points of comparison, in both Lebanon and Iran, this figure is 2%, and in Saudi Arabia, it’s 4%. In Europe, Muslims in Paris and London are no more likely than their counterparts in the general public to believe attacks on civilians are justified and are as likely to reject violence, even for a “noble cause.”

            John L. Esposito; Dalia Mogahed. Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Kindle Locations 825-830). Kindle Edition.

            • 2013-05-03 13:41:58 UTC - 13:41 | Permalink

              All the greater the irony of blaming Islam when we read of someone becoming a terrorist because he says he is outraged at Americans killing civilians in the Sudan, Iraq Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan . . .

            • 2013-05-04 01:09:22 UTC - 01:09 | Permalink

              86% of Pakistani Muslims believe that suicide bombing is never justified? In 2004, 41% of Pakistani Muslims believed that suicide bombing in defense of Islam WAS justified. (http://www.pewglobal.org/database/?indicator=19&survey=5&response=Often/sometimes%20justified&mode=chart)

              What are to make of these surveys? The numbers bob up and down like a drunken surfer. What are we to make of a population of people – assuming these polls are reliable – who one year are extremely supportive of suicide bombing, and then, only a few years later, show much less support? Do we stake our reputations that this is how they really believe NOW?

              We are not talking about their preferences for decaf coffee or laundry detergent. This is about whether suicide bombing – the deliberate slaughter of children in the public square – is justified not because of occupation, mind you, but justified in defense of Islam! One weeps.

              • 2013-05-04 10:33:55 UTC - 10:33 | Permalink

                If I see the numbers coming down I have a reason to feel encouraged.

                But again, you have missed a key point in one of my earlier comments. It is essential to know what was the question asked and of whom it was asked, and when, in order to know how to interpret the figure. That’s why decent polls will explain all of this as well as their methodology, how they selected the interviewees, etc.

                To take a real example from one scholarly work. The question asked was, in essence, “Do you think women should follow the Islamic dress code?” I don’t recall the figure, but let’s imagine 99% of the Muslims asked this question answered Yes.

                How would we possibly know how to interpret that figure?

                I believe people “should” do lots of things but that does not mean I also believe we should support a dictatorship and secret police to make sure they do. I also believe they have a right not to do what I think they should do.

                Further, what is meant by “Islamic dress code”? For many Muslims that simply means dressing modestly in public. Nothing more.

                Ditto for the phrase “in defence of Islam”. What does that mean? Do you know? Does it mean the same for all Muslims asked? Is it a synonym for “occupation”? Do you know? How do you know?

                Secondly, you equate “suicide bombing” with attacks on civilians. But is that what the respondents meant? Most such attacks in Afghanistan, for example, are on non-civilian targets and I have posted here the arguments among radical Muslims arguing that suicide bombings should only be directed at military targets.

                Now it may be that a very large proportion of Pakistanis asked this question do agree that there are times when a suicide bombing can be justified. But if there is an anomalous figure in one region that is not repeated in another region, and both regions profess some form of Islamic religion, then it follows that we need to explore why the ratio of responses differs so widely in the different regions. We would expect regional factors to be involved.

                And don’t forget the figures Tim showed that a higher proportion of non-Muslim Americans than Muslims believe it is justifiable to kill civilians: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/why-havent-muslims-condemned-terrorism/#comment-43897

              • 2013-05-05 01:11:24 UTC - 01:11 | Permalink

                Do you know the answer to any of those questions in regards to the Gallup poll? The Gallup poll neither of use can find? If no, I would suggest not using that data at all, and certainly not the 7% figure, which appears to be completely inaccurate.

                I have reviewed the Pew data, and they are very explicit in their protocols and verbatim with their questions. Questions like “Do you feel that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justified” seems pretty straight-forward to me, and when one gets results from that question in the positive from majorities or large minorities of the Muslim population I come away with the only point I have been trying to make – that the demographics of radicalism are different between Christian and Muslim populations, and that one should not naively extrapolate one’s expectations from Christian experience onto Islamic populations.

              • 2013-05-05 01:23:41 UTC - 01:23 | Permalink

                “Do you feel that suicide bombing in defense of Islam is justified” seems pretty straight-forward to me.

                I don’t understand. I asked what this means to the interviewees. What does “in defence of Islam mean”? Does it mean responding to the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country? If not, what else? Do the respondents believe that it should be directed against military or civilian targets? We know that radical Muslims themselves debate this.

                So when you say the question is pretty straightforward, yes it is on one respect. But can you be sure you are not interpreting it to mean or suggest something that goes beyond what it meant to those being asked the question?

  • anon
    2013-05-03 13:28:08 UTC - 13:28 | Permalink

    In the normative understanding within Islam —to commit suicide is not permissible and killing of civilians (even in war) is not permissible.

    (Esposito/reform)—this is a bit off-topic but I had wanted to clear up a few points because of some misunderstandings expressed in some comments here and previously…………

    Islam is not so much a religion of theology(nature of God)—rather it is a religion of Law. (rules about what is permissible and what is not permissible) In other words, the ethico-moral principles of the Quran are transferred from ideas into practice through law.

    And because of this quality,(law) the “West” is very important for “reform”/renovation (Tajdid) of Islam. The “Law”(Sharia) is made up of 5 major schools 1) Hanbali, 2) Hanafi, 3)Maliki, 4) Shafi, 5) Jafari. In the West scholars from all these schools can come together freely and come up with “Ijtihad” (the use of intellect and reason to come up with solutions to new problems) for navigating today’s world.

    In other countries, (both muslim and non-muslim countries), ideas of free-speech are not yet as robust as the West. That is why changes/opinions(tajdid) formulated in the West by Islamic scholars can be more easily adapted/adopted. However, if these Western scholars are too busy fighting the problems caused by Islamophobia and its effects on government policies—-they won’t be tackling some of the issues effecting (and requiring change) in the global Muslim community.

    Why scholars?—Islam is not an “organized religion” it is mostly ruled by consensus(ijma) of scholars who know Sharia. —(and as with any other system of Law/Jurisprudence, Islam also has tools/methodology for formulating Law/Jurisprudence)

    (…..and that is why, statements by Muslim scholars/organizations condemning the attacks are important to the Muslim community— irrespective of whether the Western media covers them or not.—and especially in the East because 60% of the 1.6 billion Muslims live in the East)

    —”Secularism” (separation of Church and State) within an Islamic context would be the separation of Law and State —because there is no “Church” in Islam. Traditionally, sharia (law) acted as a system of “checks and balances” so that power would not be abused.

    (….and usually the Quran acts as a “checks and balance” for abuses of sharia.—-and this explains why Muslims would use the Quran when condemning attacks on civilians—see comment by Tim on Gallup poll analyses)

    • 2013-05-03 16:54:04 UTC - 16:54 | Permalink

      Is it also true, generally speaking, that Islamic culture is more shame-based than guilt-based? As I understand it, then, a person’s self-image depends on how he fits in society. Your salvation is tied up in conformance to the law and acceptance by the community. It isn’t so much your acknowledgment of sin and promise to repent, but rather your behavior in the world that determines your salvation.

      So that point about “statements by Muslim scholars/organizations condemning the attacks” is really spot on.

      I just don’t see how sitting back smugly, hurling insults, and implying that Islam is ultimately incompatible with the West helps the New Atheists’ cause. It’s one thing to be a champion for reason, science, a secular society, separation of church and state, etc. It’s quite another to pick fights with other people and then pretend to be “very brave” for standing up for what you believe in.

      • anon
        2013-05-04 12:29:55 UTC - 12:29 | Permalink

        Islamic culture—Islamic law (sharia) allows for different cultures to be absorbed and cultural norms can be followed (as rules of that society) so “culture” really depends on the country/region.

        In that sense Turkish Islam, Saudi Islam. Indonesian Islam…etc are all vastly different. (—But that is why generic criticism of “Islam” is generally unhelpful—more specific country/region based criticism would be more efficient).

        for example—labor practices in both Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are atrocious. In S Arabia the problem is compounded by prejudice. However, though both are muslim-majority countries, Bangladesh uses the English legal system [post-colonial countries inherited a previous legal system and In Bangladesh this would be a system based on colonial English law] whereas S.Arabia uses the Hanbali sharia system. Therefore the solution to a similar problem will necessarily be different……….

        Salvation—It is true that Islam (and Judaism) do not have the concept of “Original Sin”. In Islam all human beings are born inherently good. Therefore to be bad implies a rebellion against ones inherent nature…..and to “submit” (to God’s laws) means to be aligned with ones inherent goodness. Therefore salvation (judgement) is based on ones actions (good/bad) however since intent determines goodness or badness of an action—intentions are also an important criteria in judgement/salvation.

        “Belief” is also important in that it leads to good intentions that promote good actions. Yet, repentance also provides you with a way to salvation—therefore if human beings have fallen into error, and they ask for forgiveness—then they are forgiven because God is most compassionate, most merciful. (That is why there is no original sin—In Judaism and Islam, God forgives human beings when they repent).

        conformity—I cannot speak about Africa or the Middle East, But Asians generally tend to be conformists culturally—irrespective of religion….so Asian Muslims would also tend to be conformists.

        Justice as opposed to injustice, liberty as opposed to oppression, tolerance as opposed to prejudice…etc are human values…but for Muslims they are also Quranic values. Therefore criticism framed in terms of (shared) values would be more efficient in promoting change.

  • Avalon
    2013-05-16 05:25:19 UTC - 05:25 | Permalink

    You can waffle back and forth all you like. The fact is that you never hear Muslims condemning Muslim violence. You never see thousands of British Muslims marching through London protesting about Muslim violence. You never see letters in the papers from Muslims apologising for Muslim violence. There are a million ways that Muslims can show that they are against violence. The reality is that all Muslims tacitly support anything which promotes their violent cause and threatens Western civilisation. They have had a decade to prove otherwise and they have done nothing. Nothing at all to make anyone think differently.

    • 2013-05-16 06:37:11 UTC - 06:37 | Permalink

      Well you sure have me stumped. How do you explain the evidence in the post above that contradicts your beliefs?

      • Avalon
        2013-05-16 07:52:45 UTC - 07:52 | Permalink

        Because it is simple.

        Show me the Muslims protesting.

        Show me the Muslims demanding to make themselves heard.

        They do not exist.

        We have this bizarre kowtowing to Muslims because if you do not, they will be violent

        If you don’t believe me ring the council in somerset who were frightened to use the flag

        of St George in case it upset the Muslim. I don’t just dream this up!

        • 2013-05-16 08:06:34 UTC - 08:06 | Permalink

          Did you read any of the post?

          • Avalon
            2013-05-16 09:34:58 UTC - 09:34 | Permalink

            Am I being really naive?

            Yes I just read it again and I cannot see Muslims marching for peace.

            I would be grateful if you could point me towards the relevant tracts

            • 2013-05-16 13:41:56 UTC - 13:41 | Permalink

              Oh I see, so speaking out and issuing fatwahs against terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda is not enough. They have to actually step out. I see.

              With eyes shut tight — or glued to Fox News — you’ll never see what is happening all around you. Or maybe you don’t take notice of news that’s happening in the countries where terrorist violence is far more common than in the UK. . . It took me just 5 minutes to find and list the following; and I wasn’t doing anything more rigorous than Googling – - – -

              Here they are on May 4th, 2013, in Pakistan

              http://en.shiapost.com/2013/05/04/shia-muslims-stage-rally-to-protest-against-terrorist-attack-on-shrine-of-hazrat-hujr-ra/

              Here they are on April 2, 2013, in India

              http://mattersindia.com/muslim-leaders-call-on-clerics-to-denounce-terrorism/

              Here they are on March 8, 2013 in Scotland

              http://dailymessenger.com.pk/pakistan/2013/03/07/pakistani-nation-to-observe-friday-as-a-day-of-protest-against-terrorism-mwm/

              Here they are in another place on March 8, 2013 in Pakistan

              http://www.demotix.com/news/1853585/shiite-muslims-protest-against-abbas-town-blast-karachi#media-1853468

              Here they are September 22, 2012, in the U.S.

              http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/providence/providence-muslims-rally-saturday-against-terrorism

              Here they are on Thursday November 19, 2009 in India

              http://indiatoday.intoday.in/gallery/Muslims+protest+against+terrorism/4/2316.html

              Here they are on December 10, 2008 in India again

              http://www.marcgopin.com/2008/12/10/millions-of-indian-muslims-protest-terrorism-surrender-holiday-spirit-media-silent/

              Here they are on July 7, 2007 in Scotland (really, in the UK you should have seen these)

              http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/6279416.stm

              Here they are on July 5, 2005 in Iraq, probably the most terrorized state in the world today — you’d think Muslims would be risking their lives by protesting publicly against terrorism there – - – -

              http://www.blackfive.net/main/2005/07/iraqis_march_ag.html

              Here they are on November 22, 2004 in Germany

              http://www.expatica.com/de/news/local_news/german-muslims-march-against-terror–14192.html

              Here they are on July 20, 2002 in central London (are you sure you live in the UK?)

              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1402003/Muslims-march-against-war-on-terrorism.html

              And what do Muslims do with people like you who WILL not see?

              http://www.kamranpasha.com/blog/?p=68

              There is a real political agenda inside the media itself to keep Islam as the enemy, and to portray mainstream Muslims as a fifth column inside America. The idea that your Muslim neighbors are silently supporting Bin Laden sells newspapers. It captures the attention of viewers of the nightly news. And it furthers the ambitions of politicians who need a rallying point to get votes.

              As a Muslim and a patriot I don’t know what more to do except to keep telling the truth every time I get the opportunity.

              But I ask my non-Muslim friends this question. How would you feel if your community was being falsely portrayed as being sympathetic to murderers by the media? How would you feel if every single thing you do to condemn and fight such criminals is intentionally ignored? What would you conclude about the character and motivation of people that continue to spread a lie against millions of your fellow human beings?

              Did I say that there are places were Muslims risk their lives to protest against terrorism?

              http://www.freemuslims.org/issues/terrorism.php

              So far, the few Muslims who choose to speak up against militant extremist Islam have faced threats of violence and accusations of being anti-Islam. In effect, the message disseminated by radical Muslims is that merely discussing Islamic terrorism is to be construed as an attack on Islam.

              And again, . . . .

              Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks

              http://www.muhajabah.com/otherscondemn.php

              Islamic Statements Against Terrorism

              http://kurzman.unc.edu/islamic-statements-against-terrorism/

              Grateful now?

            • 2013-05-16 18:59:49 UTC - 18:59 | Permalink

              Yes Avalon you are being really naive. Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media. (Noam Chomsky). Incidentally I joined in on a march for peace and against terror, with the entire local Muslim community here several years ago. Also coincidentally I listened to a fascinating interview on National radio this morning with Pakistani author Nadeem Aslam. I’d describe him, inadequately, as a non believing Muslim humanist advocate for peace and egalitarianism. http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon

              • 2013-05-16 19:17:01 UTC - 19:17 | Permalink

                I do hope your march against terror included marching against state terror. I see Muslims are as much opposed to state terror as free-lance terror. Maybe Muslims can become the vanguard for peace against ALL terror, both state and free-lance.

              • Avalon
                2013-05-16 19:51:29 UTC - 19:51 | Permalink

                We got the pictures of angry Muslims in Boston saying “if anyone dares blame Muslims for these bombs we will be really angry”. It was on National News so you cannot deny that one. What we did not hear was any Muslim saying ” We are so upset about this, we are so sorry for all the people whose legs were shattered, we are going to root out all violent Muslims and make sure this never happens again.”

                If you heard them say it (as I expect you to say) could you point me towards the news channel so i can pick up the transcript and apologise to you

              • 2013-05-17 06:17:30 UTC - 06:17 | Permalink

                You do like to keep shifting the goal posts, don’t you.

                First you said, “The fact is that you never hear Muslims condemning Muslim violence.”

                I showed you the clear evidence that Muslims DO condemn violence and have spoken out — even though much of the media does not often report this with any prominence.

                You said: “I cannot see Muslims marching for peace.”

                I showed you clear evidence of Muslims marching around the world — especially in the most violence torn countries — against Muslim terrorists.

                You said: “You never see letters in the papers from Muslims apologising for Muslim violence.”

                I showed you where Muslims have bought space in the papers to condemn Islamic terrorism. (You don’t apologize for something you are not responsible for and in fact condemn.)

                You said: “There are a million ways that Muslims can show that they are against violence. The reality is that all Muslims tacitly support anything which promotes their violent cause and threatens Western civilisation. They have had a decade to prove otherwise and they have done nothing. Nothing at all to make anyone think differently.”

                I showed you where Muslims have issued fatwas against Muslim terrorists and demonstrated against terrorism even at the risk to their own lives and the hundreds of statements online and in newspapers from Muslims condemning terrorists.

                That is, all your beliefs are shown by the evidence to be wrong. But that does not matter to you. You do not want the clear evidence to change your mind.

                So, not satisfied with any of that, you now demand they specifically promise to root out all violent Muslims and make sure this never happens again.

                Perhaps you can assist them here and explain to them, or even to anyone — even your own security services — how can any group of people — not only Muslims — “root out all violent Muslims and make sure this never happens again”?

              • Avalon
                2013-05-17 07:52:04 UTC - 07:52 | Permalink

                That is easy to answer. Muslims live in Muslim enclaves, they all hang out at the same mosques. They have preachers spouting hatred of the west every Friday in London. You can ridicule me all you want but Muslims stick together and Muslims could root out the violent ones and stop them if they wanted. I have no axe to grind I am just ab observer of facts. You come across like a holocaust denier even though the facts are all there. Go to London tomorrow and watch and then tell me no-one was preaching hated and violence. Let me know how it goes.

              • 2013-05-17 08:08:02 UTC - 08:08 | Permalink

                It does feel odd to be presenting evidence to you in post and comment after comment for you to turn around and tell me I am the one denying all the evidence.

                How many Muslims knew in advance what Mohamed Atta, Dzhokhar and Tamerian Tsarnaev were planning? What do all the sources tell us about this?

              • Avalon
                2013-05-17 08:14:36 UTC - 08:14 | Permalink

                Just think a little bit deeper. Muslims in the West do not integrate with westerners. They have no desire to. They set up their own enclaves and use Sharia Law rather than the law of the countries they invade. They are a tight community as you will see when you go to London and listen to the hatred tomorrow (hatred for a country that has kindly given them a home). This close knit community is well aware of what everyone is doing and has the option of condemning violence and stopping the hate preachers. Do they ever do it? No. Get out there tomorrow, hear the hatred and report back. good luck!

              • 2013-05-17 08:33:53 UTC - 08:33 | Permalink

                But I do understand a little of the fear and revulsion one experiences when face to face with a people, culture and religious practice that is alien to one’s own traditions, and especially when those people come from the receiving end of western good intentions and whose views and experiences are inconsistent with a westerner’s own perceptions. Living together in enclaves is the common experience of the early generations of immigrants through all ages and most peoples. When the first generation arrives there are very often tense periods as adjustment is very difficult for both sides. But history has shown that with generational shifts these assimilation difficulties are broken down.

                But I do know many Muslims who do not live in enclaves in the West. Pitting anecdotes of your experiences with anecdotes of someone else’s is not going to get us very far — unless both parties are willing to open their minds to the possibility that London and Brixton do not represent all Western Muslims. It would be worthwhile trying to understand why there are such wide differences.

                In the meantime, all sorts of anti-social, prejudiced and ignorant attitudes need to be addressed. You are simply ignoring all the evidence that is screaming at you that your own perceptions and experiences do not represent the totality.

              • 2013-05-16 19:49:56 UTC - 19:49 | Permalink

                Of course. It was a decade ago just after the illegal invasion of Iraq led by the U.S. which New Zealand and all political parties opposed.

              • 2013-05-17 06:38:18 UTC - 06:38 | Permalink

                I asked because I have seen one anti-Muslim video mocking a poorly attended Muslim anti-terrorist rally somewhere in the U.S. alongside close-up images of what appeared to be large numbers of Muslims chanting “Israel is a terrorist state”. Contexts, of course, were all removed from both clips. What was interesting was the assumption of the video-editor that condemning state-terror is somehow interpreted as support for terrorism.

              • 2013-05-17 18:01:41 UTC - 18:01 | Permalink

                Israel IS a terrorist state. Like the U.S is. I am a pacifist.

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