Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Moderate (sic) Muslim alert

This was actually intended to be a response to a thread on Rod Dreher's blog at Beliefnet. There were too many links in my (also kinda lengthy response) so Beliefnet refused to put it up. So I'm putting it here. The overall thread is here but I'm putting the entire exchange between myself and Abu Hamaid so everyone can get the "flow." (Here's a sample of his style in his first comment in that combox.)
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First me (responding to broader post my Abu Hamaid)

Ironically Americans also remember [Khomeini] for his Salman Rushdi death fatwa, but they conveniently forget that 100% of Sunni scholars worldwide condemned his fatwa.

100%? worldwide? Given what a poster named Mohamed said about Islam's diversity of opinion yesterday in another combox here I rather doubt that. He also gave me reason to doubt this factoid's relevance ... Islam, especially its Sunni forms, has no binding magisterium and imams have no formal power. Certainly, I find it hard to believe that all the rioting and book-burning and death threats throughout the west and Pakistan and India came from Shi'ites.

But that aside, I have no doubt that many Sunni scholars denounced the Ayatollah's fatwa. What I'd be interested in knowing is WHY they say what you say they did? I remember from the time that quite a few condemned it only on the grounds that Khomeini didn't have the authority to issue such a fatwa; that a death sentence could only be imposed after a trial; or that basically since Khomeini was a Shi'ite, he wasn't a Muslim at all. You'll forgive me if I don't find these reasons for not executing or assassinating Rushdie to be reassuring. Certainly the Danish cartoons (whatever the merits, the genocidal threats were Islam-wide) and Theo Van Gogh (killed by a Sunni) are not reassuring.
Victor Morton | Homepage | 12.19.06 - 8:18 pm | #
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He responded here:

Victor,

Obviously with a population in the billion range, I didn’t chronicle every single Imam and most of them aren’t qualified muftis anyways. So let me clarify. When my friends and I have a casual conversation as we’re doing now and I said what I said, it referred to the established highest levels of authority in the Sunni world. So at the time of that fatwa there would have been sheikh Bin Baz in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Qaradawi in Qatar, Sheikh Albani in Syria, Sheikh Sharawi and Sheikh Tantawi in Cairo, and so on and so forth. All of those authorities to my recollection opposed the Khomeini fatwa. Now what legal maneuverings each used, I don’t remember because I was a fairly young teenager back then. Do you know of any major Sunni Scholars who called for the death of the Danish Cartoonist or Theo Van Gogh? Because I don’t and I think you recognize that you’re mixing cultural and economic alienation in Amsterdam and its violent blowback at a society that rejects one with Islamic Jurisprudence. When African Americans burned stuff in the 60s it wasn’t because they were Christian and you seem like a smart enough guy to recognize that human beings are bit more complex even if they are Muslims. Just something I picked up in Sociology 1301 many years ago…
Abu-Hamaid | 12.19.06 - 9:17 pm | #
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And this would have been my response had Beliefnet let me:


Abu-Hamaid wrote:
Obviously with a population in the billion range, I didn’t chronicle every single Imam and most of them aren’t qualified muftis anyways.

Then why O why did you say, in your note of above of 601pm that ...

Ironically Americans also remember [Khomeini] for his Salman Rushdi death fatwa, but they conveniently forget that 100% of Sunni scholars worldwide condemned his fatwa.

In that note above, you didn't simply say that most Sunni scholars disagreed with the fatwa (something I already knew and would not have called you on), but you (1) used emphatics "100% ... worldwide" and (2) chastised Americans for their bad-faith ignorance ("conveniently forget") in the very same breath that you made a claim that was so obviously indefensible that you instantly went back on it.


it referred to the established highest levels of authority in the Sunni world.

But as has been pointed out repeatedly by other Muslims in other contexts like trying to wash their hands of "Dingbat Imam's" statements (such as was made by Mohamed here yesterday) the very concept of "authority" in Islam, particularly the Sunnis, is tenuous. There is no ordained priesthood, no magisterium, no binding power, nothing between man and God but the Koran. This has good and bad points for a religion obviously (speaking as a Christian of the kind that has developed quite well these structures Islam has not). But keep in mind that one of the bad points of it, whether speaking of Sunni Islam or Calvinist Christianity, is that it is better defined by what the mob thinks, not what the scholars think.


As for Theo Van Gogh, the killer Mohammed Bouyeri was a Moroccan-descended Sunni radicalised at a Sunni mosque (Al-Tawheed) with ties to Al Qaeda (a Sunni organization).


As for the Danish cartoons, I am more than satisfied from the news accounts at the time that the reaction, for better or worse, was Islam-wide. (Here's Sheikh Qaradawi's response, a chemically-pure case of passive-aggressive blackmail).

"The nation must rage in anger. It is told that Imam Al-Shafi' said: "Whoever was angered and did not rage is a jackass." We are not a nation of jackasses. We are not jackasses for riding, but lions that roar. ... We must rage, and show our rage to the world... The second warning I direct at the Westerners, the Americans, and the Europeans who follow them ... "I say to them: Your silence over such crimes, which offend the Prophet of Islam and insult his great nation, is what begets violence, generates terrorism, and makes the terrorists say: Our governments are doing nothing, and we must avenge our Prophet ourselves. This is what creates terrorism and begets violence..."

A few quick Internet searches will reveal that Qaradawi is a piece of work -- he's blessed suicide bombings, attacks on US civilians in Iraq, and executing homosexuals and converts from Islam. Oh ... and the death of all Jews

But to the Danish cartoons ... if in fact the complaint was a violation of a religious prohibition on representation of Mohammed, then the Sunnis certainly would have been complaining much more since iconoclasm is a far stronger tradition in their branch of Islam (Ayatollah Khomeini had a portrait of Mohammed in his office or bedroom most of his life).


Then we get to the what the Sunnis said about Rushdie in 1989, which is hardly reassuring.

So at the time of that fatwa there would have been sheikh Bin Baz in Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Qaradawi in Qatar, Sheikh Albani in Syria, Sheikh Sharawi and Sheikh Tantawi in Cairo, and so on and so forth. All of those authorities to my recollection opposed the Khomeini fatwa. Now what legal maneuverings each used, I don’t remember because I was a fairly young teenager back then.

In 1989, I was only 23, but I do remember. And this sort of answer is exactly what makes many Americans and Christians suspicious of the answers we get from Muslim officials and spokesman. It is easily documentable via the Internet what the reaction of Sunni religious "authorities" to the Rushdie fatwa was -- and it was what I said. Not that Rushdie shouldn't be executed, but that Ayatollah Khomeini was overstepping his bounds and that Rushdie should only be executed after a trial.

Here is the reaction of Sheikh Bin Baz and the Al Azhar Mosque.
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Sheik Abdelaziz Bin Abdallah Bin Baz, the most senior religious figure in Saudi Arabia, recently declared that Rushdie should be tried in absentia in an Islamic country for heretical behavior.[14] Sheik Muhammad Hussam al Din, an Islamic theologian in Egypt, asserts that "blood must not be shed except after a trial, [in which the accused has been] given a chance to defend himself and repent."[15] A senior scholar (who declined to be identified by name) at Al Azhar Mosque in Egypt, the Sunni Muslim world's leading center of Islamic thought and teaching, concurred: "In Islam there is no tradition of killing people without trying them."[16]

14 Youssef M. Ibrahim, "Saudi Muslim Weighs Rushdie Trial," New York Times , 23 Feb. 1989, A15.
15 Russell Watson, et al., "A Satanic Fury," Newsweek, 27 Feb. 1989, 36.
16 Alan Cowell, "Clerics Challenge Rushdie Sentence," New York Times, 18 Feb. 1989, A6.
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You're not lying, sir. But you ARE telling a very selective truth with the intent to leaving the impression of a lie. If Americans are "conveniently forget[ting]" about Sunni scholars who condemned the Rushdie fatwa, Muslim apologists are conveniently forgetting the reason (even saying "I don't remember") for said condemnation. But here in Christendom, sir, we don't think people should be executed for heresy or blasphemy *at all.* One of the reasons we're suspicious of Muslims is that they seem to have ... an enthusiasm for said executions, i.e., for executions of us polytheists who want neither to be Muslims nor live in dhimmitude. And so, for you to say "Sunnis condemned the fatwa" (i.e., relieving people's concerns) while leaving out or "conveniently forgetting" the basis for the condemnation (i.e., not on moral-substantive grounds but on procedural grounds) ... my father called it "telling the truth and making believe a lie."


When African Americans burned stuff in the 60s it wasn’t because they were Christian

But here's the fundamental difference that is simply not appreciated by Muslim apologists (whether Muslim or not themselves): no black rioters at the time claimed they were burning stuff in the name of Christianity. The religious affiliation of someone who does bad may well be an accident ... unless they say their religion motivated them. And to the extent that blacks in the 60s were motivated by Christianity (like say THE REV. King or THE REV. Jackson or THE REV. Abernethy), it was to reject violence. And if there was any black violent/radical group of the period was religiously motivated (the Black Panthers, for example, were secular nationalists) it was the Nation of ... um ... Islam (I recognize that orthodox Muslims, with my sympathy to the extent that that of a Catholic matters, consider NOI to be a heretical cult ... but you brought up the comparison).

9 comments:

Chris L. said...

Nice reply Victor. Is it just me or does Abu-Hamid give the feeling of a slick used car salesman? It's hard to get much of a straight answer from him. You get lots of talk and bravado, but little substance. Plus, he's been very selective of the questions he answers.

Did you notice his response to Susan's first question was basically, I told the radicals that the 1st Amendment is good for Muslims and the 1st Amendment guarantees your religious rights?

Anonymous said...

JOSEPH D'HIPPOLITO SAYS...

Anybody who believes that Moderate Muslims exist, let alone hold any influence, should be reminded of the following:

Gregor Strasser was a "moderate" Nazi. We know what Hitler thought of him; Strasser was murdered in that purge called "The Night of the Long Knives."

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