March 25, 2009

The Persian Version

Here’s a fun piece in City Journal by my friend and colleague Jamie Kirchick about his recent experience on Iran’s Press TV. I don’t even want to excerpt this thing. Just go read it and laugh.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 25, 2009 1:39 AM
Comments

You have to laugh, to maintain perspective---and sanity.

City Journal is one of my favorite reads.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 2:04 AM

"Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Islamist scholar who masquerades as a moderate "

Unbiased comment, of course ...

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 2:56 AM

Balqis: Unbiased comment, of course ...

Actually, yes. It is an accurate comment. This sort of thing isn't subjective. I know Muslims who profoundly despise Tariq Ramadan for this reason. If he has fooled you then it just goes to show that Jamie Kirchick is right. Ramadam masquerades as a moderate, but he isn't one. He is a moderate Islamist, but he isn't a moderate Muslim.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 3:05 AM

Mr. Totten

I didn't say I agree with everything that he states .
Thing is that a picture of him, full of inaccuracies, has been built also to go against Islam .
You must bring me facts, not tales
Give me a single line in English taken from his interviews, articles, books to prove that you are telling the truth .
Then we can discuss .

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 8:25 AM

And I forgot to ask, what is for you a moderate Muslim .
That's basic to agree to disagree :-)

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 8:26 AM

And I forgot to ask, what is for you a moderate Muslim .

Ah, there's something it is possible to be unbiased about! Right, Balqis? :P

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 1:40 PM

Balqis: And I forgot to ask, what is for you a moderate Muslim.

Instead of giving you a definition, how about I give you an example. Read the whole piece at that link, and understand that I mean people like those I interviewed in that article constantly, everywhere I go, even in Iraq.

The best way to encounter moderate Muslims is to travel to Muslim countries. Hardly anyone ever writes about such people. The extremists get most of the attention. Tariq Ramadan only looks moderate to people who know Muslims via media.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 2:11 PM

Ibn Warraq's discussion of islam and moderation seems appropriate here:

http://iranscope.ghandchi.com/Anthology/Islam/IbnWarraqWTC.htm

"There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism: at most there is a difference of degree but not of kind. All the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the Hadith – Islamic fundamentalism is a totalitarian construct derived by Muslim jurists from the fundamental and defining texts of Islam. The fundamentalists, with greater logic and coherence than so-called moderate or liberal Muslims, have made Islam the basis of a radical utopian ideology that aims to replace capitalism and democracy as the reigning world system...."

We would live in a nicer, more pleasant, world, if Ibn Warraq were wrong. Unfortunately, he is right.

One of the more necessary discussions concerning islam is this discussion of the meaning of words such as "moderate", in relation to islam. Another word to discuss is "radical", which has at least two inconsistent english meanings, both often meant or mismeant in discussions about islam.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 7:13 PM

del: There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. All the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the Hadith...

That's just a long way of saying that the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith are not moderate, which is course true. The Koran is 1300 years old. Of course it is neither modern nor moderate.

The more important question is: how many Muslims follow everything the Koran says? The overwhelming majority don't. The Koran can never change, obviously, but individuals and tribes and nations and civilizations change all the time. The variation within and between Muslim countries is enormous. Individuals are even more complicated.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 8:03 PM

MJT:

Yes. The overwhelming majority of muslims do not practice the complete barbarity described and mandated in the texts of islam. However, those who are "moderate" by virtue of their incomplete practice will necessarily lose any argument about islam that they engage in with more orthodox practitioners and jurists.

The perverse brilliance of islam is its ability to shed those that would change it, yet hide behind those same shedded "moderates" and apostates, to remain out of the view and understanding of non-muslim observers.

Most incomplete-practitioners are not "moderate" in a real-and-useful-for-non-muslims sense. The overwhelming majority that you refer to above are impious out of laziness or ignorance about islam, not out of a conscious belief that islam is flawed. I think that most (not all) of your overwhelming majority would, if you could mind-meld and mind read, show you that, even if they are impious, they believe that muslim piety is a good goal to strive for. They tend to see their lack of practice as a flaw in themselves, as weakness.

The only muslims I would describe as "moderate" would be those, who, as Ibn Warraq states in his essay I linked above, would: "3. All moderate Muslims should take this opportunity to examine the tenets of their faith; should look at the Qur’an, recognize its role in the instigation of religious violence, and see it for what it is, a problematical human document reflecting 7th or perhaps 8th Century values which the West has largely outgrown." I add: that would be a neccessary but not sufficient condition for authentic "moderation".

How many muslims do you know who would describe the koran as a "problematical human document"? That description is itself apostasy. In muslim sharia societies, an individual can continue their life without sanction if such is believed privately. However, if such a belief is declared publicly, its proponent is most likely sanctioned with apostasy and death. "Reform" is nipped in the bud. And through modern communication and transportation technologies, those sharia attitudes are being exported worldwide from saudiland and from mullahland, even into societies, where, in history, local customs or idiosyncracies might have discarded the most depraved portions of islamic practice. Indonesia and Bosnia are more orthodox-muslim now than they were 20, 30, 50 years ago. Not less.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 9:56 PM

Del: How many muslims do you know who would describe the koran as a "problematical human document"?

I have no idea. I don't harrangue people about their religion. I consider it rude behavior, especially when I am a visitor in their country.

I do know, however, that when Christopher Hitchens said more or less what you just wrote about the Koran inside a packed auditorium at the American University of Beirut last month, the crowd broke out in applause.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 10:17 PM

MJT:

I don't harangue people about their religion either. I do pay attention to what they say voluntarily to their fellow believers.

Since this is partly a discussion about the meaning of words, I add that I do not describe islam as a "religion" in the modern western sense. Islam is an ideology. Religions are ideologies too. But islam is better understood as a political ideology (yes -- it is not monolithic etc.) with religious-supernatural trappings and justifications.

Thank you for the description of Hitchen's words and the reaction to them (applause at American University of Beirut). I certainly wasn't there, but I immediately expect that many in the audience were Christians, and note that, luckily for you and Hitchens and all Lebanese, Lebanon is not yet a sharia society. Some public dissent is still tolerated. If you were describing a public speech in Jiddah (after all, as a non-muslim you could not attend any speech in mecca), or Tehran, or even Kabul (Afghanistan is a sharia state, courtesy of the USA and NATO. How perverse is that?), or the muslim student association meetings at my local university, your example would be stronger.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 10:43 PM

"That's just a long way of saying that the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith are not moderate, which is course true. The Koran is 1300 years old. Of course it is neither modern nor moderate.
The Koran can never change, obviously, but individuals and tribes and nations and civilizations change all the time. "

Mr. Totten, you often speak through slogans or refering to what a Hitchens or a Spencer might say
You should verify by yourself the universality of Quranic message
The definition of moderate or extreme Islam are something that we call innovation because Islam is one, but due to recent events we are forced to make this distinction
The extremists are those who have a literalist approach to the scriptures and that leads to violence
One of prof. Ramadan aims, is that of enhancing a dialogue among scholars to review some conclusions about the interpretation of verses and hadeeth to put them in context and another, is that to prove how culture and religion can live together without clashes
I for one feel no problem in being an Italian Muslim
Now again I'd like to know : what makes you think that Tariq Ramadan is as bad as they describe him ?

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 25, 2009 11:25 PM

Balqis: Mr. Totten, you often speak through slogans or refering to what a Hitchens or a Spencer might say

I have never quoted Robert Spencer in my life. He and his friends -- Andrew Bostom, Julia Gorin, etc -- viciously attack me on a regular basis. Get a clue. Go on over to Jihad Watch, search for my name, and see what that crowd thinks about me. Then come back over here and apologize.

I haven't quoted Hitchens in ages, except when I wrote about a fight he and I got into in Beirut last month.

You don't know me. You're just making shit up about me, and you're doing it on my own Web site. Do you have any idea how ridiculous that makes you appear?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 12:41 AM

For the hell of it, I threw your name into their search box: "dastardly neoliberal-neocons such as Michael Totten..." How does somebody pull that off?

Keep smilin', man.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 2:18 AM

Michael

am not making up anything about you and is not my intention to disrespect you on your site .
Am a fair person, which is why I read your articles though I have the feeling our positions are quite far from mine .
Am asking you what you know about Islam and Muslims because your answer was too generic and reminded me of some anti Islamic circles [Horowitz is just one, we can add Hitchens and Ibn Warraq if you like] .
The article you linked didn't answer my question : it just gives me the incipit for a political analisys of the Kosovo war .
Am not surprised by the fact that that piece of land is now fertile soil for Wahabi infiltrations .

"That's just a long way of saying that the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith are not moderate, which is course true. The Koran is 1300 years old. Of course it is neither modern nor moderate.
The Koran can never change, obviously, but individuals and tribes and nations and civilizations change all the time. "

This is what I call generic or superficial .
Bring me more detailed facts that lead you to such conclusion .
And still am waiting to know what makes you agree with the author of the article to label prof. Ramadan in that way .

This is your site :
you can delete my posts, invite me not to write here anymore or simply ignore me .
At least that's how I manage my blog and my life as well, and I find it quite fair .

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 6:05 AM

Balqis:

Avoiding superficial statements, such as your above, "The extremists are those who have a literalist approach to the scriptures and that leads to violence", how do you define and describe a "moderate muslim"? Do you describe yourself as a "moderate muslim?" Does there exist a "moderate islam"?

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 7:32 AM

I have an idea, tell Kirchick to call PressTv back and let them know he will debate, or discuss, or whatever, the coming June 12 election and the current efforts by the Mullahs to shut down Khatami and his website:

Here is a great post on the street fight between Ahmadinejad and Khatami:

http://bloggingthecasbah.blogspot.com/2009/02/let-games-begin-declares-ahmadinejad-as.html

Or he can also talk about the Balochi resistance in Southern Iran. Think he would support a Bochistan Now spheil?

Posted by: The Rooster Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 8:45 AM

Balqis:

As I am confident that you know, Caroline Fourest's French book, "Brother Tariq: the doublespeak of tariq ramadan", was published in English last year. There are significant inconsistencies in ramadan's messages, depending upon his audience's makeup.

Another few questions for you: Is the muslim brotherhood, founded in Egypt by al-Banna et al, "moderate"? If not, why not? Has your brother tariq, whom you avidly defend here, publicly criticized this "brotherhood?" When and where and to whom?

http://www.amazon.com/Brother-Tariq-Doublespeak-Ramadan/dp/1594032157

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 9:18 AM

Balqis: Am asking you what you know about Islam and Muslims because your answer was too generic and reminded me of some anti Islamic circles

I don't have time to tell you what I know about Islam and Muslims. I've been working in Muslim countries for years, and it would take me a ridiculously long time to answer such an open-ended question. You'll just have to keep reading what I write.

Anyway, it will be obvious to you that I am not a part of the Jihad Watch crowd if you go over there and read what they've written about me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 10:15 AM

Balqis:

you wrote above (to MJT), "Give me a single line in English taken from his interviews, articles, books to prove that you are telling the truth .
Then we can discuss ."

If one goes to the Amazon.com link I left above, and if one clicks to look inside, one is allowed to read excerpts from Fourest's book. In it, she quotes ramadan extensively. From chapter 1, page 4, here is one such:

"In a collection of interviews with Alain Gresh, editor-in-chief of Le Monde diplomatique, Tariq Ramadan made no secret of the fact that he had taken Hassan al-Banna as a model: [says tariq ramadan:] 'I have studied Hassan al-Banna's ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject...'"

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 10:38 AM

del

if you know Islam then you know also that my statement was not superficial at all
The literalist approach is exactly that described [and I suppose shared, by Ibn Warraq ]
The Quran was revealed in a period of time of 23 years Some verses apply specifically to some situations and some periods of Islamic history
Those who are considered extremists do not leave any open room to the contextualisation of the ayas
Same happens for the sayings of the Prophet : there are some instructions [like for example the killing of the apostates] that taken out of context, not only give space to violence, but show a clear contradiction with other parts of texts or with the basic principles of Islam
That's why I consider prof. Ramadan efforts remarkable, and to be honest am not a great fan of his [I argued with him many times] because I do not share some of his view
What upsets me, is the attitude towards him which is the same towards Islam and Muslims : non Muslims attack without knowing exactly what they're talking about, they take their culture and religion as parameters to judge Arab culture and their beliefs as ancient and inhumane, without taking into account the parameters of the counterpart
This is not a fair confrontation : is just a war of fear
Is long time I don't visit Europe but through the media I have the impression that the West, after granting too much, now is scared and is making a couple of steps back
I didn't read Caroline Fourest book, but once I became curious about this "controversial" guy and I did the same thing I done with Michael [fed up of discussions in forums where my counterparts said "M.J. Totten said this, M.J. Totten said that" ] : I scanned all over internet in search of what prof. Ramadan had said, in his own words .
Picked articles, interviews, audio of seminars, conferences and debates, and I formed my own idea .
He has a deep knowledge of Islam and is using it to serve the Islamic community in the West, a community which is not made only [not anymore] of first generation immigrants but of their sons and daughters and of converted people like me .
I haven't learned Arabic properly yet so I don't know about his double speaking and I don't know if true that he speaks differently to Arab audiences .
About the Islamic brotherhood, he is often introduced like the grandson of hassan al banna and the press reproaches him not to take distances . Hassan al Banna had same as him a deep knowledge of the religion .
Tariq was born and raised in Europe .
Few nights ago I was watching the news and my prime minister was explaining how repaying the debts to libia was the minimum we could do to repay those people of the sufferences we brought there . My grandfather participated in African campaigns . If you ask me : what do you think of him ? I will tell you that for that little time I had the chance to spend with him, he was the sweetest man on earth
Why should TR feel guilty to be the grandson of Hasan al Banna ?

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 10:43 AM

Michael

I know it takes time but it took you 3 lines to destroy the religion and its followers
It's easy to say that Muslims do not follow Islamic teachings in full
I have no idea of what religion you follow, but is there a religion whose believers are perfect ?
You talk as many others, about an old book which cannot take pace with time, but you have the luck to travel around the world so you should know about the difference about religion and culture and again of the culture derived from the religion
You should know how politics in the M.E. are dirty and that's not fault of Islam, how some politicians in your country did take advantage of the sectarian divisions and of the divisions between the royal families : is a fight for power
That's how Bin Laden grew up
Am not angry with you and I didn't mean to offend you [am harsh by nature] but am angry with those in the West who think this way : they say they come from a superior culture and then they think am inferior cause I chose to wear a scarf .
It doesn't come into their minds that it was my will . It doesn't come into their minds that I didn't do it to marry a Muslim man but because I believe in it .
These people have my same education in history, philosophy, latin, literature, but they think I lost my mind .
It's unfair .

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 10:55 AM

Balqis: you should know about the difference about religion and culture and again of the culture derived from the religion

Of course I know all about that and have spent years writing about it.

You should know how politics in the M.E. are dirty and that's not fault of Islam

Of course.

I have no idea of what religion you follow

None.

is there a religion whose believers are perfect ?

No.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 11:02 AM

Balqis: They think am inferior cause I chose to wear a scarf

I know the feeling. I still get negative comments at work whenever I come in with a red bandana tied
around my ankle.

Nobody forced me to do it. It's simply the way I choose to dress.

Posted by: Edgar Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 12:23 PM

But if they knew that you do to submit your will to God, that bandana will become a sign of blind stupid submission .
That's at least what I gather chatting with people in the West who have never put feet in a Gulf country or who listen to Ayaan Hirsi Ali .
I don't want to convert people, I just want them to judge based on facts .
Unfortunately it takes time to make a search on the sources to understand why a female takes only 1/2 of the inheritance compared to her brother and why this is not unfair at all in the whole calculation .
It takes time to understand why honour killings are not part of Islam . It takes time to understand why the woman is not submitted to her husband according to islamic texts but it becomes thus, due to cultural background .
It takes time to understand why girls in Yemen or Afghanistan get married at 9 years old .
The root cause for all these problems is not Islam but an hijacked version of it, submitted to local traditions .
People today don't have time, so they prefer to read a book of Madame Hirsi Ali or listen to Ibn Warraq, who are more fascinating and have a quick impact, and so Islam becomes not modern and not moderate .
That's life, I assume

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 12:50 PM

Balqis,

I have a different understanding of Islam and the Islamic world than the people you're complaining about. So despite the fact that you and I still don't agree about some of this stuff, it's best to leave them out of the discussion, or at least not assume I am one of them. I don't think they're wrong about everything, but I don't think you're wrong about everything either. If you take me out of the box you've put me in, we can have a more productive conversation.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 12:59 PM

I didn't put you in any box and if I did, that's perfectly human
We mostly live of perceptions, not of reality
I just said that if you say simply "Quran and Sunnah are outdated", you're not the only in the world
I don't follow the Horowitz family since long time cause they're just bigots and jihad watch is blocked anyway in Oman
I have no idea of what they say about you
As I am a huge fan of Putin, I don't think we will ever agree on that :P but we can survive
Back to Press Tv, I wouldn't label as it a propaganda tool, not only at least
If channels like CNN and Fox News can broadcast everywhere, included the Arab world, giving their biased version of facts, then those countries which are their main targets, have the right to defend themselves among western audiences
So I don't see any harm in having Al jazeera, Press TV or Russia Today, and I can tell you that there's much more intellectual honesty in their reports than in their Anglo-American counterparts
Unfortunately, since they're followed also here, they [together with the wrong policies of the Bush adm in the M.E.] have increased the level of rage of Arab people against the West and that's not productive
But having a constant level of tension is probably part of the game

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 1:29 PM

Hey did anyone see this latest video on yahoo?

Mike, What say you?

http://cosmos.bcst.yahoo.com/up/player/popup/index.php?cl=12677280

I know it's not breaking news, but a great clip about why many in your neck of the woods support Hezbollah.

Posted by: The Rooster Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 2:24 PM

But if they knew that you do to submit your will to God, that bandana will become a sign of blind stupid submission .
That's at least what I gather chatting with people in the West who have never put feet in a Gulf country or who listen to Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Way to step on the joke, Balqis. Not a big fan of humor, are you?

Tariq Ramadan's job is to paint lipstick on the pig that is the Muslim Brotherhood, a criminal, fascist organization that provides financial and ideological support for terrorist groups. It goes without saying that the Brotherhood does not represent all Muslims, or Islam.

However, it does represent its relentlessly humorless Gulf state supporters.

Since Ramada's career is to propagandize for the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood, your request that anyone should provide "a single line in English taken from his interviews, articles, books to prove that [Ramadan is masquerading as a moderate]" is absurd. It's like asking for one single line in English, in Bernie Madoff's own words, proving that he was running a ponzi scheme" before Madoff was caught and arrested.

If crooks and liars like Madoff and Ramadan were dumb enough to get caught in their lies and state their nasty intentions out loud, they wouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at March 26, 2009 4:08 PM

I have my own sense of humour which you may not like because we are different human beings with different sensitivities
When one speaks in favour of a cause or of a political movement, doesn't necessarily have to do it in an open way [rather the opposite]
I can understand his position also reading between the lines, and from what I read or listened of Prof Ramadan work, I didn't have the impression that he has some hidden agenda to support the Muslim Brotherhood
If you are a cheater, you can fool one, 1000 or 10000 people and for a limited period of time, but no more than that

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 27, 2009 12:33 AM

Balqis:

On the contrary: those who want to be fooled can be fooled forever. If you don't wish to be fooled, read the book by Caroline Fourest, or at very least all the excerpt allowed by Amazon.com. Or are these banned in Oman?

But going back to your early comment above, when you asked MJT, "what is for you a moderate Muslim[?] ", how about you answer your own question?

Separately. Everyone writing here, including yourself (an Italian convert to islam now living in Oman, apparently) with a western education (that includes you from your words above,) do not understand islam similiarly to how madrassah educated muslims understand islam. When we make distinctions between "culture" and "religion" or "church" and "state", we are projecting our model of reality upon the phenomenon dissected. Muslims who have grown up in islam, especially those not western-educated, see "reality" quite differently. Fosco Maraini, an Italian anthropologist, mountain climber, and writer, visited the Hindu Kush in 1959 and wrote a book, "Paropamiso" published in 1960, which was translated to English as "Where Four Worlds Meet Hindu Kush", and published in 1964. Perhaps you might read it in Italian. I read it in English. Here is an insightful quote from it (page 40):

"The efforts of European scholars to frame a terminology capable of translating the fundamental concepts of shariah into Occidental values are doomed to failure in advance. Trying to introduce our basic juridical assumptions concerning public, private, constitutional or canon law into the fortified redoubt of the Islamic endocosm is rather like trying to grow fruit in a bookcase, or force steel cubes up one's nostrils. The converse process is, of course, equally difficult....for the simple reason that we are dealing with entities that never match exactly, but leave incompatible loose ends on both sides..."

Perhaps you might think about it. If you read the book, don't miss the chapter on the "kaffirs" of Chitral. These "kaffirs" were those who happened to live on the British-Indian side of the border with Afghanistan, or who had fled there. Those who lived in Afghanistan had been crushed, converted, or enslaved in the name of islam by the Afghans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in a self-described (by the ruler of Afghanistan), jihad. The Afghans renamed what had been called "kafiristan", into "nuristan", in a perversion of reality (as if they brought light into darkness). The "kaffirs" of Chitral have been steadily mistreated by successive Pakistani governments, since. Chitral is now one of those areas, along with Swat, which has been handed over to taliban-types by the weak Pakistani central government. When I think of "nuristan" and Chitral, I think: genocide-by-jihad.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 27, 2009 10:13 AM

If one wants to be fooled forever then he/she deserves it but you can't play trick with a huge number of people in different continents
I would like to read the whole interviews where he first said that he doesn't reject his grandfather heritage and later that something must be reviewed
Hassan al Banna heritage is wide, can't be summarised in few pages
I have nothing personal against mrs fourest but I don't trust a certain range of journalists in general
That's why I prefer when possible to go to the original source It's easy to turn a couple of lines in a completely different thing

I very well answered to your question
Islam is one only, but today for political reason we're forced to make such distinctions
Moderate are those who interpret the Quran and the Sunna in their context, keeping in mind the circumstances and the historical moments in which some verses were revealed and some hadeeth were pronounced by the Prophet
The reason why is so important to work on a reform of Islam [which means to go back to the sources and to reinterpret without changing them ] is the fact that our religion covers different aspects of our daily life : the relationship with God, with ourselves, with our brothers and sisters, with non Muslims, with our governments etc ]
Those who make a literalist interpretation of texts for example see as Dar al Harb [land of war], every country which is not Muslim, while according to other madhabs [school of thought], each country that allows Muslims to practice their religion, can be considered Dar al Islam [land of Islam]
Another issue is that of the apostates : the literalists take as valid the hadith in which the Prophet said "they must be killed"
Thing is that in the Quran is written also "no compulsion in the religion" and is well known that the Prophet never ordered the killing of an apostate, unless he had damaged the Islamic umma [community ] so those that you call moderate, are in favour of the punishment of the apostate only in the case his change of religion [don't let's forget we're talking about non secular societies], is meant as war against his/her own nation
The very definition of kuffar slightly changes depending on the interpretation of verses and context
Islam is based on books made of words, hence can and must be interpreted

About the incompatibility between Islam and the West I beg to differ
The translation fails because it needs to be done properly
For example Dr. Rowan Williams did an excellent work last year to outline how Islamic laws perfectly fit in British reality, provided that the laws of land remain
Unfortunately his speech was completely hijacked by the media [that's why I hold some journalists in low esteem and always try to go to the source ] and the message which passed was "if we allow some regulations for Muslim citizens, then we will surely end up like in Talibania"
I remember an awful operation by the Sunday Times online : they made a sensational title on doct Williams speech and they matched it on the front page with the story of the lady in jeddah who had been stopped by the muttawa [religious police] because she was sitting in a coffee shop with a male collegue non mahram [unrelated to her]
If this is the superior culture so praised by Ibn Warraq, God help us ...

Extremists in their own lands [on this surely Michael knows better than me] must be judged in their context and religion becomes more a masque than the root cause :
Afghanistan and Pakistan are lands where poverty and ignorance rule
A girl is given in marriage without consent at 8-9 years old not because Islam allows it [ probably they just remember that our Prophet married Aisha at that age forgetting the context and the conditions] but because the father needs the money of the dowry
And mind that the dowry is property of the girl according to jurisprudence
He goes to the office to register the contract and no one asks him if that's the real signature of the girl
Sunni and Shia in Iraq are not fighting for religious causes, but because Saddam regime created the conditions and now after the war, things are getting more messy
Bin Laden and Attah and all the others were raised in a totalitarian regime which tries to be justified by the religion but is totalitarian per se and is backed up by America

Reality is much more complicated than what it seems and I know that people do not have time to scan through this, but blaming it all on a religion is totally unfair

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 28, 2009 3:47 AM

Balqis:

There are a huge number of people on many different continents who want to be fooled by a handsome, charismatic, smooth, self-assured and dishonest individual, your brother tariq. Keep swooning.

You certainly do a fine job of demonstrating Ibn Warraq's point about the intellectual incoherence of supposed or self-described "moderate" muslims. Congratulations and thank you.

Concerning the incompatibility of islam and the "West", I would, and have, said that islam is incompatible with modern western values of equality and freedom, but that is not Fosco Maraini's point in my quote above. You should reread the quote. He is discussing the meanings of words, labels and categories, as used by westerners, to describe or discuss aspects of islam. He also notes that muslims misunderstand western concepts. Our entire discussion here, especially your comments, reinforce his points.

After a while a discussion such as this becomes a waste of time for all concerned. Nevertheless, I was truck by your claim above, "Sunni and Shia in Iraq are not fighting for religious causes, but because Saddam regime created the conditions and now after the war, things are getting more messy." What planet do you live on? Sunni and Shia were fighting long before saddam existed, and over much beside what is happening in Iraq. If you don't understand that, you must be mentally ill. I happen to think that you do understand, and are merely dishonest. Repeatedly.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at March 30, 2009 8:21 PM

The Western model is not a monolythe and you can't impose it on others
Am not dishonest and am not here to allow people to offend me just because they're not mature enough to carry on with a conversation
The only thing I can say is that you should learn and judge Islam by the sources, not by people who give bypassed informations to spread fear
Assalamu alaikum

Posted by: Balqis Author Profile Page at March 31, 2009 3:29 AM

Rooster, Hey, no, I bet that not everyone has seen the "latest" propaganda video posted on Youtube. Nice of you to be so selective though.

Rooster, you sir are an ass if you think that there any meaningful (outside of the State Department/DC area, and perhaps Dearborn, MI) people in the U.S. that believe in or support the terrorist group Hezbollah (or Hamas, or Taliban, or AQI, or....)

You obviously have a poor or willfully misinformed view of the U.S.

Ron Snyder

Posted by: rsnyder Author Profile Page at April 1, 2009 3:34 AM

rsnyder:

Am I understanding your comment of 4/1/09 to say that there is little support in the US muslim community for hezbollah, hamas, taliban?

My impression is that support for hamas and hezbollah is general, if not universal, although not always voiced loudly (but sometimes it is voiced loudly at rallies). Support for AQI is lower, as it is recognized that to support alqaedainiraq might significantly antagonize American non-muslims, and that AQI has killed many muslims (which is what is really the problem, from their perspective) in iraq, as well. Taliban? hard to say. Probably less supported than hamas/hezbollah but less avoided than AQI.

If anything, the leadership of the US muslim community is more supportive of hamas and hezbollah than the sometimes apathetic or too-busy-to-get-involved muslim-on-the-street. Many of the organizations which are understood to represent the American muslim community (e.g. CAIR, MAS, MSA, ISNA) have strong links to the global muslim brotherhood, of which hamas is a part.

I'm not about to speak for the rooster character, but rooster's line above, (to MJT) "your neck of the woods" probably referred to Lebanon, not the USA.

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at April 2, 2009 7:17 PM
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