Letter to the Editor by Al-Hajj Frederick H Minshall
On June 17, 2011 Daniel McDonald boasted of the “great enthusiasm” with which he would “dismantle” Brett Frazer’s arguments objecting to McDonald’s bigoted proclamations toward my faith and those who follow it.
Between four and six days later I posted (an admittedly lengthy) series rebutting McDonald’s absurd diatribe point-by-point in The Northern Light online version. Ten days later he has yet to reply. Perhaps he feels less “enthusiastic” when confronted with accurate facts concerning my faith, instead of the self-righteous, self-congratulatory prattle promulgated by his favorite Christian “evangelical” tracts (or Glenn Beck).
A prominent American biologist once said that, “one cannot do science if one is incapable of admitting ‘I don’t know’ and that ‘I was wrong.’ At the root of all science—however misguided in actual application—is the search for truth.
McDonald approached the topic of Islam from the standpoint that he already knew the Truth, and therefore his admonishment that “to reach a fair conclusion, it’s important to examine the content of each religion” is so much hypocritical bak’waas (Urdu expression for what periodically drops from the south end of a northbound male bovine mammal).
I approached this discussion from the standpoint of a Muslim—an “insider”, so-to-speak, with respect to Islamic teachings—and one with sufficient resources, both living and written, to offer accounts from authentic Islamic textual sources that refute your attempted mischaracterizations of my faith.
I don’t hesitate to acknowledge wrongdoing perpetrated by those identifying themselves as Muslims—or, to put this in broader terms, I don’t apply a self-serving double-standard when comparing the obvious warts of Christian and Muslim history to the God-given teachings of Jesus and Muhammad (alayhimus-Salaam). To quote an old Muslim proverb: “The difference between Islam and Muslims is the difference between a pearl and an oyster.”
Or, to paraphrase a similar concept from Christian scriptures, recall how Jesus (alayhis-Salaam) taught that the miserable publican who approached his Creator with a contrite heart, weeping and beating his chest for his sins, would find favor over the Pharisee who looked askance and thought himself “superior” to said miserable publican.
I ask Mr. Mcdonald, if he were to honestly assess his own article, would he say it was written by a sincerely repentant publican mindful of his own failings, or a self-righteous Pharisee looking down his nose at the less fortunate?
The problem with double-standards is that they lead directly into hypocrisy, the second-deadliest spiritual sin, and the one for which the Messiah (alayhis-Salaam) reserved his harshest denunciations. Once you have accepted one standard of conduct for yourself while simultaneously applying more rigorous standards to those you deem “others”, you’re able to rationalize even the most reprehensible behavior, as long is it’s done by “your side.” That is precisely what terrorists do.
As mentioned in my on-line rebuttal, gang-rape and torture at abu-Ghraib is no less hideous and agonizing when perpetrated by America’s “onward Christian soldiers” than by Saddam’s “Republican Guard.” I think that it would be more “Christian” of you to consider such issues from the victims’ standpoints, instead of attempting to minimize or justify such atrocity when it’s committed by “your side.” Does not the Book of Isa’iah (alayhis-Salaam) admonish you that to “…seek justice, relieve the oppressed…” will make your sins, “… though (they) be scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”?
Mr. McDonald: Your obvious comfort with double standards notwithstanding, I’m not letting you off the hook. You’ve made false claims against my faith in a public forum. Unfortunately for you I became aware of it. It’s now incumbent on you to respond to my challenge, if you think you can.
This is his full response.
The Fallacy of Attributing Muslims’ Misdeeds to Authentic Islamic Tenets
(A response to “Islam’s History supports Modern Violence” by Daniel McDonald, 06/14/11)
I’m late getting into this fray—I’ve neither read Daniel McDonald’s “Islamophobia” piece, nor that written by Brett Frazier in rebuttal. I have, however, read McDonald’s June 14th response to Frazier, and feel it’s about time a Muslim entered this discussion.
In Al-Qur’an 56:77-79 we are admonished that the Qur’anic Revelation is “…a sublime Recitation, in a well-protected Scripture that none shall touch but the purified…”
In accordance with literal interpretation of the above Ayaa (“verses”), practicing Muslims wash their hands and/or perform other requisite ritual purification before handling Qur’an or touching its text. My late Christian Grandmother (may Allah have Mercy on her) did the same before touching the bible.
Having reviewed the unmitigated arrogance, self-righteousness and outright hatefulness expressed inMcDonald’s piece, “Islam’s History Supports Modern Violence”, I felt compelled to wash afterwards. I intend—Allah Willing—to dismantle his absurd claims point-by-point, but before beginning wish to make clear that:
(1) I’m not pretending to be “non-partisan” here. I believe with all my heart, mind and soul that Al-Qur’an is the Pure Speech of Almighty God transcribed—indeed, a Personal Letter to each and every human being from He who set the galaxies in motion and ignited the stars. And I believe that Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family), was the final and most exalted Messenger sent by our Creator in His Infinite Mercy to guide benighted and struggling humanity.
(2) I’m not an ‘Alim (Muslim religious scholar) or Mujtahid (Islamic Law Jurist)—I am an ordinary, rank-and-file Muslim, and not a very good one at that. If some readers find my responses to McDonald’s bigoted drivel unduly harsh, I ask they forgive me and chalk it up to bad upbringing—I was raised Southern Baptist.
To begin: The late Robert A Heinlein once observed, “The generation that ignores history has no past—and no future.” Present circumstances cannot be honestly assessed without considering history relevant to them, and it’s in such context that McDonald’s flippant remarks as to the supposed “ease” with which “tensions” between Muslims and non-Muslims can be “exacerbated” must be viewed. Bullies routinely accuse their victims of “overreacting”.
I’ve restricted my “exacerbation” examples to those occurring since WWII, because these represent historical facts most likely to be held in living memories. Unfortunately this is by no means an exhaustive list:
(1) WWII—the British Raj placed all available rice stores under armed guard for fear their Indian subjects would support the Japanese against them should the latter invade India. That never happened.
What did happen was that 9 million Indians, both Muslim and Hindu, were deliberately starved to death by the good Christian British (some Indian historians claim it was closer to 19 million). But we don’t see this referred to as a “holocaust”
(2) May 1945—the French Commander of the Algerian occupation called in air strikes and paratrooper assaults against unarmed demonstrators in Constantine and massacred 45,000 people in less than a week—the violence was precipitated by the fatal shooting of a man carrying an outlawed Algerian flag
(3) April 9, 1948—Menachim Begin’s Irgun and Lehi (Zionist death squads) attacked the village of Dier Yassin and murdered 120 unarmed men, women and children. The women were raped before being shot. May 22-23, 1948—200 unarmed villagers in al-Tantura were murdered by the “Alexandroni (Zionist) Brigade”.
July 11, 1948—over 200 men, women and children were shot down as they fled the villages of Lydda and Ramla by Zionist forces. At least another 250 civilians were killed in the village centers—mostly in Ramla—after they had surrendered. Surviving villagers were then forced on a death march through the desert to Ramallah with little food and almost no water. The death toll from this march—about 350—was mostly children
(4) 1948—when the Zionists invaded Palestine it was home to about 700,000 people—the descendants of Arabic and Berber-speaking clans who had inhabited the region since Old Testament times. By the end of what Ben Gurion cynically euphemized as “compulsory transfer”, a million Palestinians had been driven from their homes and land. Their great-grandchildren are being born and growing up in internment camps today, still denied the right to return to their own country
(5) 1953—Muhammad Mossadiq, democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, was deposed by a CIA-sponsored coup led by Kermit Roosevelt, at the behest of British Petroleum (then known as “Anglo-American Oil”). The demonic Shah Pah’lavi was installed in his place. Until being forced to flee the Islamic Revolution in 1979, the Shah through his “Savak” security agency murdered 50,000 of his countrymen a year. The “final straw” that toppled him was his decree that no Iranian could testify against an American in Iranian court
(6) 1955-1957—thousands of Algerian prisoners were tortured by “water-boarding”, electric shocks to genitalia, beatings while suspended from wrists or ankles, sodomy with glass and wooden implements and burning with cigarettes in French stockades. Prisoners were summarily executed, sometimes merely to provide cells to hold more prisoners. When these atrocities were admitted by unremorseful senior military officers in 2002, the French government refused to prosecute them for crimes against humanity. Understandable, as said atrocities had received approval from the very highest levels of the French government
Things obviously haven’t changed much. When US personnel committed similar atrocities at Abu Ghraib, Kandahar and Guantanamo Bay they were dismissed by American apologists as mere “fraternity hazing pranks”. Boys will be boys, right?
In fact, Abu Ghraib wasn’t managed much differently under the Americans than it had been under the Republican Guard—women prisoners were gang-raped at gunpoint, and men were hanged from rafters and beaten to death. Children were sodomized in front of their mothers to extract “information” the mothers didn’t know in the first place. And their agony and humiliation was captured on film for their tormentors’ enjoyment. Even the bloody French never thought of that
In a 2003 report to Congress, US Army Inspector General Anthony Taguba concluded that “… there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account”. For telling the truth General Taguba was forced to resign. Apparently one can’t “be all you can be” in the US Army while having a conscience.
But, as with the good Christian French, the answer to the General’s question was a resounding no. Our Nobel Laureate-in-Chief has refused to indict war criminals, because he prefers to “look ahead”. To what—new, improved war crimes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Libya?
(7) On October 17, 1961 Paris police under Chief Maurice Papon killed 200 Algerian immigrant workers participating in a peaceful march advocating Algerian independence. He received no legal censure for this act of mass-murder on French soil, but was charged in 2000 for helping deport Jews to Nazi Germany during WWII
Not much has changed for Parisian Muslims, except perhaps for the worse. Today, French police prowl Paris’ Muslim ghettos and hunt African and Arab youth for sport, with almost as much impunity as their IDF counterparts hunt Palestinian children in Gaza
(8) 1954-1962—when Algerians finally took up arms to win their independence from France, the Algerian death toll was 1.5 million. After more than a century of mass murder, land confiscation and wanton punitive destruction, the French left behind them a country in ruins. It has never recovered. France’s neocolonial Algerian puppet regime continues to terrorize and torment its people to this day
(9) September 16-17, 1982—Stalag Commandant Ariel Sharon opened the barbed-wire gates of his Sabra and Shatilla concentration camps to a squad of Maronite “onward Christian soldiers”. They murdered 3,500 elderly people, women and children trapped inside
(10) 1983—the Reagan administration’s “exit policy” from its participation in the failed US/Isra’eli invasion of southern Lebanon was weeklong naval bombardment of Beirut that slaughtered 17,500 civilians, nearly six times the number killed in the 911 atrocity. Perhaps ironically, one of the alleged “Bin Ladin tapes” recorded him (if it was him) saying that he got the idea for the 911 attack from Reagan’s bombing of Beruit
(11) 1994-1996—the Russians invaded Chechnya and murdered 100,000 of its inhabitants. About half again as many were killed during the second Chechen invasion (1999-2000).
But mere numbers don’t begin to convey the hideous and inhuman outrages perpetrated by the Russians against the civilians of Chechnya. Women were tied between armored personnel vehicles and pulled in half, or were held down while rifles were jammed up their vaginas and fired. The Russians themselves termed their “rules of engagement” against the Chechens as “bespredel”—no limits.
The “Black Widows” terrorist cadre emerged as direct response to Russian atrocities against Chechen women. Therefore when considering subsequent Chechen terrorist assaults against Russians, the Old Testament admonishment “As ye sow, so shall ye reap” inevitably comes to mind
(12) 1990-2003—crippling US-led sanctions against Iraq resulted in the loss of an entire generation; approximately 40,000 Iraqi children starved to death annually, with only Allah knows how many more children mentally debilitated to pathological levels by malnutrition. Madeline Albright said she thought “the price was worth it”. Speaking as someone with relatives living in Baghad, Najaf and Kerbala, I vehemently disagree
(13) Since the beginning of the US assault on Afghanistan an estimated 32,000 civilians have been killed by US air and ground forces. The only “positive” thing than can be said about this is that the Russians killed between twenty and sixty times as many more. Perhaps we’re expected to understand America’s comparatively lower body-count as an example of “winning hearts and minds”
(14) 2003-present—although the “image-conscious” American occupation refuses to collect, let alone disseminate, any count of civilian casualties, independent estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths approach 1.2 million
(15) November 2004—US forces surrounded and invested the town of Fallujah and killed everybody. 6,000 men, women and children were slaughtered with no more remorse than if they had been video-game targets.
Cluster and white phosphorous bombs were used in the assault—again with utter disregard for consequences to the entrapped civilians. To ensure such nightmares don’t trouble the American collective “conscience”—such as it is—“embedded” reporters don’t disseminate photographs of screaming children dissolving while being enveloped in super-heated, toxic phosphorous clouds
(16) Jan-May 2010, members of the US Army 2nd Infantry Division, 5th Stryker Brigade hunted Afghani civilians for sport and managed to “bag” three of them before their cover was blown. The US occupation was then forced (for PR purposes) to pretend it doesn’t tolerate such “recreation” on the part of its soldiers
(17) Today 1.3 million Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians are penned behind concrete walls and concertina wire in an area equal to the distance between Anchorage city limit and Eagle River with about 5 miles on either side of the intervening stretch of Glen Highway. These captives are routinely denied water and power, and are repeatedly subjected to aerial bombardment—like shooting fish in a barrel. When such outrages were visited on Ashkenazi Jews in Warsaw, Poland, their confinement was called a “ghetto”, and those who orchestrated said outrages were hanged by the Nuremburg Tribunal for crimes against humanity
In conclusion, Mr. McDonald, if as you say “exacerbating tensions” between Muslims and non-Muslims is so terribly easy, fisbilillah—for God’s sake—please stop trying so hard! You have already succeeded beyond your wildest expectations!
My reaction to Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten cartoonists’ 2005 provocation was really more sadness than anger. The media campaign, complete with “hook-nosed” stereotypes, was worthy of Josef Goebbels’ demonization and marginalization of the German Jewish community 60 years earlier. I remain convinced today’s Danish version directed at Muslims had the exact same purpose.
Nor am I alone in that assessment—European Jewish advocacy groups also noted the shameful similarity between the Posten’s cartoons and those of Herr Goebbels. They would be foolish not to have—European “Christian” habits die hard.
Also, the Danish mass-media in general has repeatedly been cited by EU and human rights NGOs for its hostile campaigns against Denmark’s immigrant communities—particularly those from predominantly Muslim regions. Since at least the 1980s, Danish media has been castigated for repeated and blatant use of the racist term “perker”, the Danish equivalent of the “N”-word used almost exclusively against Muslim immigrants, in its programs—including interactive games.
The cartoons were simply the last straw for some Danish Muslims. Here’s an example of what a member of Denmark’s “liberal media”—a writer of children’s books!—advocates concerning “building bridges” with that country’s Muslim population:
(The) “Left-wing should start an offensive by parading through Norrebrogade (a Muslim neighborhood) in Copenhagen, wearing burkhas, chadors and long coats, pushing a sea of folding prams and baby carriages and in the end, throw all this in a container in Blaasgaard Square as well as splash the Koran with menstruation blood.”
(Kare Bluitgen—“For the Benefit of the Blacks”)
Persecution always begins with words of hate hurled by demagogues. If left unopposed, the words are inevitably superseded by eggs, then rocks, then bullets.
American Christians, especially those of the “melanistically challenged” variety, are quick to whine about alleged “persecution”, most of which either doesn’t exist or consists of cases where Christian “fundamentalists” don’t get their way in some minor matter of public policy, like displaying the Decalogue in public schools.
I ask Mr. McDonald to try on the Danish Muslims’ experiences for size—imagine how graciously he would endure in a society in which all government, corporate and educational institutions and the entire mass communications apparatus—electronic and print—continuously reviled “white” Christians as they have Muslims, and if he would accept “freedom of expression” as justification for such harassment.
How “free” would he feel when his children came home from school crying, not because they were picked on by their peers, but because they were maligned by their teachers? I know what that feels like, and it’s not “freedom”.
The Iranian press astutely pointed out that the Jillande-Posten wouldn’t dare print cartoons critical of “Isra’el”, for all their prattle about “freedom of expression.” And the Posten initially appeared to rise to the challenge, proclaiming they would do so to prove their “even-handedness” in offending non-Christians. As it turned out—the Iranians were right. The Posten reneged. Expression is only “free” in Denmark when maligning Muslims. Isra’el—and Christianity—are “off-limits.”
I was saddened by this anti-Semitic media campaign (yes, Arabs are Semites), because I remembered in my youth being moved to tears the first time I read of the courage of these Danes’ grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ who, when their Nazi occupiers ordered all Danish Jews to don yellow armbands, did so themselves en masse—even their King—in defiance of persecution. And in approaching old age I confess being truly sorrowful that the grandchildren of these Danish heroes chose to dishonor the memory of their forbears’ bravery by acting like Nazis themselves.
Does this mean I approve of violence perpetrated against innocent people in response to cartoons? It does not. While I may understand it among peoples under military occupation and/or despotic, foreign-backed regimes being ground into the dirt to the point where the slightest affront can elicit such responses, I cannot approve of them.
Allah enjoins me in Qur’an to “support what is right and to oppose what is wrong”—there is no caveat of “unless the perpetrator is your fellow Muslim”. Al-Qur’an reminds us how even Moses (upon him be Peace) once refrained from supporting a countryman battling his Egyptian oppressor because the former was in the wrong.
In attempting to defend his farcical claim that violence by Muslims defines Islam, but violence by Christians somehow doesn’t define Christianity (please note for future reference that this is called a “double-standard”), McDonald attempts to take refuge in ignoring the overall picture and focusing in less-than-coherent fashion on obvious “fringe” whack-jobs with negligible followings, like Terry Jones. Sorry, Daniel—there’s a lot more to it than that, and it permeates the history and character of the “civilization” you revere to its very core (not just the “fringes”).
I challenge you to look honestly at what you defend as well as at what you presume to attack, and to consider:
Did that infamous German political movement that tortured, vivisected, murdered and burned 9 million Jews, Gypsies and leftists spring from the bosom of the Muslim world, or from that of “western Christiandom”?
Did Muslims bring about the extinction of most of the indigenous peoples of eastern North America and the Caribbean, or did Christians? Were Cortes and Pizarro Muslim Mujahidiin? Were Torquemada and Calvin “Mullahs”? How about the Borgia Popes? Were they Ayatullahs?
Did European Jews flee from Christian pogroms to Muslim Spain—even during the reign of the hostile Almohadins!—or did they flee in the other direction? Did Muslims forcibly “convert” Filipinos to Islam, or did Christian Spaniards force them into Catholicism at sword-point?
Did Communism, Nazism, Fascism and other such authoritarian ideologies germinate in the soil of Muslim society or Christian? Was Benito Mussolini a Muslim? Was Josef Stalin educated in a Muslim madrassa or a Christian seminary?
Did Muslim nations start wars that for all practical purposes consumed the entire world and took millions of human lives, or did those nations calling themselves “Christian”? Did Muslims develop nuclear “weapons of mass destruction”, deploy them against civilian targets, and then feverishly work to establish huge arsenals of these hellish weapons to where the entire population of the world has lived in terror of them for the last 60 years, or did Christians?
If the “inherent violence” of Islam vs. Christianity is to be decided in terms of overall body-count, the latter wins hands-down! I can’t help but suspect that you—like many Americans—tend to mistake military “superiority”, and the political hegemony and economic largess that automatically derive from it, for cultural, moral and spiritual superiority. I disagree. From what little survives of the Messiah’s God-given teachings, I think he would too.
Mr. McDonald, you magnanimously allow that, “…to reach a fair conclusion, it’s important to examine the content of each religion”—but that you have manifestly failed to do. Like most Christian polemicists you restrict your quotes from Qur’an to out-of-context snippets you think serve your bigoted agenda.
While you make much of Hamas’ hostility to Jews, you haven’t followed your own advice concerning the authentic textual sources—the “content”, as you say—of al-Islam in deciding whether Hamas’ alleged position reflects authentic Islamic tenets. Your polemics are based on “research” so devoid of anything resembling academic rigor that your student newspaper has embarrassed UAA by printing it.
Qur’an is the Highest Authority concerning authentic Islamic teachings available to us. Consider the following Ayaa concerning Jews:
“They are not all alike. Among the People of the Book are a faction that stand and recite the Signs of Allah during the night, and they bow down in adoration. They believe in Allah and the Day of Resurrection, and they support right and oppose wrong, and they hasten to perform good works, and they are among the righteous. And of their good works, none shall be rejected, for Allah knows well those who act righteously.”
Unlike most “Christian” denominations, Qur’an doesn’t condemn all Jews (or all Christians for that matter) to hell. As one would expect from the pronouncements of the All-Knowing, All-Merciful God as opposed to a biased human preacher, priest, or pope—or aspiring collegiate demagogue—with vested interest in selling their narrow “doctrines” for mass consumption, Allah does not reject the contrite heart that sincerely seeks Nearness to Him, regardless of “religious label”.
Allah has no “interest” other than Truth, and He needs no self-serving “agenda”. He is Al-Samad—Eternal, Absolute, Utterly Without Need but all need Him—and He loses nothing by bestowing His Infinite Mercy on whomever He will.
“God is not a man, that He should lie—neither the son of man, that He should repent. Shall He say, and not do? Or, Shall He promise and not make it good?”
In all the attempts by Christian polemicists to attribute violence to Qur’an that I’ve read, I’ve never seen them refer to the following Ayaat:
“O ye who are believers—when ye go forth in the cause of Allah distinguish carefully; do not answer anyone who says to you ‘Peace!’ with ‘You are not a believer!’ because you covet the ephemeral spoils of this world. Allah has (for you) abundant, profitable spoil; even as them (the idolaters) were ye before Allah favored you; therefore distinguish carefully, because Allah is Aware of all ye do.”
Kind of goes against stereotype, doesn’t it? Note that this Ayat was vouchsafed at a time when a tiny Muslim minority was attacked by an overwhelming majority of idolaters at every opportunity, and—for the sake of their very survival—the Muslims were forced to remain on near-constant war footing—it wasn’t merely “looting and pillaging…neighbors” as you so ungraciously claim. Muslims found in the field were taken and tortured to death, were even tied between two camels driven in opposite directions and pulled apart.
Nonetheless, the followers of Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) were—and are—reminded by their Creator that most of their enemies were simply ignorant, no worse than they themselves had been before He in His Infinite Mercy intervened to guide them, and that every possible opportunity to extend understanding rather than a sword was to be taken, even in the midst of battle.
The reminder included a warning that, as long as the opponent offered greetings of peace, the Mujahid was not to initiate hostilities out of desire for the others’ possessions (or for possible profits to be gained from ransoming him back to his family, a common practice during warfare in that time and place). Allah promised those fighting in His cause that He had far greater reward for those who did the right thing.
To sum up, even in battle, if killing could be avoided, it was—and is—wajib (mandatory) for a Muslim to do so. This applied to mushrikin—idolaters—as much as to anyone else who took up arms against Muslims.
Ummul-Mu’miniin (Mother of the Believers) A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) was once asked how her husband had lived, and she replied, “He lived al-Qur’an”. This was demonstrated by word and deed throughout Muhammad’s all-too-brief sojourn on earth, just as when al-Masih (the Christ, upon him be Peace) declared, “I speak not of myself—I speak the will of Him Who sent me.”
Usama ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) was at least as much loved by our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) as was his father Zayd ibn Haritha (may Allah be pleased with him), a former slave he had adopted as foster-son after manumitting him. Despite Usama’s agitation to go forth with older men “…in the cause of Allah…” he was for long held back because he was too young. However, at the age of about 17 he was allowed to join the Mujahadiin.
When his cadre engaged a group of idolaters in battle, it began as was customary with challenges from both sides for fighters to come forth for individual combat. In 7th century Arabia one was required to look into the eyes of one’s enemy—no cowardly dropping of Volkswagen-sized “daisy-cutters” from thousands of feet in the air on people whose deaths are neither seen nor counted, except by their Creator.
To continue—Usama ibn Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) was challenged by an opponent and he eagerly accepted. To his chagrin the man laughed and taunted him because of his obvious youth. That was a mistake. Usama (may Allah be pleased with him) was enraged, and the ferocity of his assault completely overthrew his adversary, who fled from him in terror.
The man climbed a thorny acacia tree, desperately shouting “I say the words you say! I say the words you say!” the words being “Ash-haddu an’laa ilaaha il-Allah wa dah’u laa sharika lah”—“I bear witness there is no deity but Allah, and nothing is associated in worship with Him”—but the man was too terrified to get them out.
Usama (may Allah be pleased with him), still consumed with rage, pulled the man out of the tree and killed him on the spot. When his companions learned what he had done, they were themselves outraged and harshly denounced him for his deed.
And worse was yet to come. He had to face one he loved more than his own father and admit his horrible crime and see disappointment and grief on that beloved face, far more devastating and heart-rending than all the wrath in the world.
And the Prophet of Mercy (Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) was indeed grief-stricken when he learned of the event. He had Usama (may Allah be pleased with him) sit beside him, and he gently asked, “Did you, O Usama, kill a man after he said al-Kalima (the words)?” The youth exclaimed, “O Rasuulullah—he only said Kalima to escape his fate!” And his beloved leader—and surrogate grandfather—replied, “And so you cut out his heart to see if he was telling the truth?” Usama (may Allah be pleased with him) later said he felt as if he had destroyed himself rather than his victim.
But as his Lord is forgiving, so was our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family). One of his last living acts was to give young Usama (may Allah be pleased with him) command of the forces gathered to defend al-Medina against a huge Syrian Christian army deployed by Rome to eradicate Islam, and Usama ibn-Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) fell in its defense, as had his father before him. And I make supplication that his sins were forgiven and that he lives eternally before his Lord—ya’Allahumma ‘aamiin!
Mr. McDonald, I’m going to diverge from point-by-point rebuttal in order to address an underlying assumption upon which nearly all your points are based. It’s abundantly clear when you use “buzz-words” like “multi-culti” that you labor under the misconception that Greco-Roman-influenced Anglo-Saxon religious and cultural precepts—particularly that “Paulist” hodge-podge of Mithraism, Platonic Dualism and Hellenized Judaism you mislabel “Christianity”—are solely and uniquely responsible for all that’s right in human society, and that all other societies struggle blindly in dark ignorance, intolerance, injustice, grinding poverty and incessant conflict because they lack such “enlightenment”. Obviously, and according to current fashion, you place Muslim society at the head of the list in these regards.
The chauvinism inherent in your article is merely a more circumspect re-telling of Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden”—it somehow always becomes “necessary” for you civilized, secularized “Christians” to invade, kill, enslave and dispossess other peoples in order to “maintain stability” in a dangerous world. And in so doing you fall into the same logical fallacy of confusing military “superiority” with cultural, ethical and spiritual superiority. You are of course wrong as hell—the latter by no means automatically derive from the former. All that can honestly be conceded concerning your arrogant assumptions of “superiority” is that your society is “superior” at killing. And that is always a temporary situation.
However, I’ve already devoted the first two sections of this rebuttal to pointing out your idol’s clay feet. I was once gently chided by a beloved and now departed friend, the late Sheikh Saiid Ah’mad Nizami (may Allah have Mercy on him), for devoting too much effort to demonstrating what’s wrong with Christiandom, and not enough on what’s right with Islam. He returned to his Lord on the 7th day of Shar’ul Ramadhan three years ago, and for me the world has been a little colder ever since. In honor of his memory, I will attempt to follow his guidance.
The two primary authorities in our faith are al-Qur’an and authentic Sunnatul-Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family), the latter being the “Way” shown by our Prophet’s reliably-recorded words and/or deeds.
I place particular emphasis on Sunnatul-Muhammad source-accounts narrated by the Ahl al-Bayt (upon them be Peace), the Prophet’s immediate family and the line of Holy Imams descended from them through his daughter Fatima and Imam ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad). A brief selection from Qur’an and authentic Sunnah are more than sufficient to refute your calumnies, as well as any secularist or Christian claims to “exclusivity” with respect to ideals of enlightened tolerance:
“O mankind! We created you from a single male and female, and made of you nations and tribes so you can understand each other (not so you can hate each other); verily the most honored of you in Allah’s Sight is the most righteous of you; and Allah is Fully and Intimately Knowledgeable of all things” (Qur’an 49:13)
Three phrases in the above-quoted Ayaat underscore the fundamentally egalitarian nature of the Islamic Revelation—that we all sprang from a single pair of humans, that our duty is to achieve mutual understanding despite our differences, and that the noblest among us in God’s Sight are the sa’alihiin—the righteous.
Note that this Ayaat was vouchsafed at a time when Qur’aysh Arab “nobility” looked askance at the African, Persian and even Roman slaves flocking to the Prophet’s call, and being treated—many for the first time in their lives—as brethren rather than slaves.
Nearly fifteen centuries ago He before Whom no sane creature would dare claim “superiority” admonished men that, “noble” or slave, they were of common origin, and that “nobility” was rooted in the deeds of a man’s hands, the truthfulness of his tongue and the purity of his thoughts rather than in his bloodline. It took European “Christians” somewhat longer to catch onto this idea, and judging from your June 14th article some haven’t gotten it even yet.
And our beloved Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) did not hesitate to elaborate through both word and deed this Divine Message repudiating the fallacy of one man exalting himself over his brother:
The first woman he married after his beloved Khadijah’s passing was a widow named Sawdah bint Zam’a (may Allah be pleased with her). Sawda means “black woman”. He married Saffiy’a bint Huyyay (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of one of his bitterest enemies among the Jewish tribes of al-Medina, and she is revered among all Muslims to this day as “Ummul-Mu’miniin—Mother of the Believers.” He also married an Egyptian Coptic Christian Maryia al-Qibtiyya (may Allah be pleased with her) who is likewise revered among us, along with Ummul-Mu’miniin Sawda (may Allah be pleased with her), as one of our beloved spiritual Mothers.
He gave his cousin, a noblewoman of his own clan of Bani Hashim, in marriage to Zayd ibn Haritha (may Allah be pleased with him), an Arab slave he’d received as a wedding gift from Khadija (upon her be Peace), then manumitted and adopted as his foster-son in order to provide an example of the most direct way to eliminate false social barriers. That the marriage later failed in no way invalidates the principle upon which it was arranged.
When an elderly gentleman of Qur’aysh once asked his advice as to who was the best person for his daughter to marry, our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) replied “Bilal” (may Allah be pleased with him), a manumitted African slave and well-loved companion. Not liking this advice, the man asked, “Who else?” to which the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) again replied, “Bilal” (may Allah be pleased with him). After asking “Who else?” yet a third time and receiving the same answer, the man walked away muttering under his breath. When word of this exchange got out, Bilal ibn Ribah (may Allah be pleased with him) quickly became one of the most sought-after bachelors in Arabia.
The Most Noble Messenger (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) repeatedly admonished his followers concerning the fallacy of “auli’a”—tribalism, racialism or nationalism—throughout his Prophetic mission. When he wished to emphasize something of particular importance, he repeated it thrice:
“They are not of us who proclaim the cause of auli’a. They are not of us who fight for auli’a. They are not of us who die for auli’a. Auli’a is to aid your own people in injustice.”
It’s truly tragic, indeed criminal, that my Arab and south-Asian brethren seem to have forgotten this teaching—“Arab nationalism” has always been a disaster for the nations that have embraced it (Iraq, Egypt and Palestine, for example), and no less so the racialist “caste system” legacy of Hindu culture that afflicts south-Asian Muslims to this day. Pakistan, for example, is nearly paralyzed by a five-sided “race-war”, in which Urdu-, Punjabi-, Bengali-, Hindi- and Pushtun-speaking Muslims are at each others’ throats instead of standing united against the “New World Order”, and the Hindu powers poised to devour them! When I once asked Sheikh Nizami (may Allah have Mercy on him) about this deplorable situation, he simply replied “They don’t have Islam.”
As a final example of our beloved Rasuul’s teachings concerning tolerance and equity, I offer excerpts from what has come to be known as his “Farewell Khutba” (“Sermon”, if you will). He delivered it before tens of thousands of Hajjis in the Ur’anah Valley on Mt Arafat, during the last pilgrimage he would live to make (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad):
“O People, it is true that you have rights over your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only as a trust from Allah and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not befriend any whom you disapprove, as well as to never be unchaste.
O People, listen to me carefully—worship Allah, say your Salaat (five daily prayers), fast during Shar’ul-Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakaat (charity). Perform Hajj if you can afford it.
All mankind is from Adam and Eve—an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have superiority over an Arab; also red* has no superiority over black nor does black have superiority over red except with respect to piety and righteous deeds.
Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be lawful to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.
Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer for your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”
*Arabs regarded skin color in terms of black and red rather than black and white. To make reference to “all the black and red” basically meant “all mankind” in the idiom of that time and place.
“All men are created equal” was indeed a revolutionary statement when it was drafted into the Declaration of Independence, but it was nonetheless old news—it was preceded by more than 12 centuries by the authentic precepts embodied in Divine Shari’a, as laid down by Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) in obedience to his Lord’s Commands. If those who received it and claimed to be its adherents haven’t live up to it, neither did those who signed their names to the Declaration of Independence. The bombastic orator who shouted “Give me liberty or give me death!” himself owned slaves.
Some who have reviewed earlier drafts of this rebuttal noted that the synopsis of moral/ethical outrages of the so-called “Christian” nations given in Part 3 didn’t include mention of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. That was deliberate.
Slavery as practiced by the European nations, and the utter destruction of the peoples and nations of Africa that resulted from it, comprised one of the single most heinous crimes against humanity in the entire history of our species. It was a crime shared in near equal measure by England, the United States, France, Portugal, Spain and Holland. Nor can its hideous consequences be separated from those of European colonization of that continent, and the wretched neocolonial regimes that followed, and continue to afflict Africa to the present day. Thus it deserves a place of its own in this narrative.
Another reason for discussing it separately is that American Christian apologists usually attempt to deflect discussion away from their nation’s—and religion’s—miserable history in this regard by pointing out that the Islamic Revelation did not eliminate the practice of slavery, either.
Allah Willing, I will end this part by demonstrating that Islam went much further in ameliorating the evils of slavery than Christianity ever has, even if the practice was not eliminated outright. Historical examples of slave abuse among Muslims—particularly their participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade with Europeans—represent egregious violations of authentic Islamic tenets concerning slavery, not adherence to them.
The fact is that “slaves” were, in all lawful cases, prisoners of war, and their assignment to Muslim households as laborers was the prerogative of the Islamic State. Mounting a campaign for the purpose of enslavement was hara’am—unlawful—during the time of the first Islamic State at al-Medina. In that time and place the prescribed punishment for engaging in slave raids was that perpetrators were given the choice of being killed or sold into slavery themselves.
It’s also a fact as is documented in al-Qur’an, that frequently, requisite expiation for various transgressions—example, not keeping fast during Shar’ul Ramadhan—was to purchase freedom for a slave. An indication of how often manumission was required as expiation for even minor violations of Shari’a among the first generation of Muslims in al-Medina is that there are ahadith recounting that various sahaba (companions) of our beloved Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) grew to dislike even seeing a slave for fear that some transgression on their part would require them to purchase his freedom.
I will close this part with a ruling from one of history’s greatest authorities of Shari’a, Imam ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn Zaynul-‘Aabidiin, the great-grandson of Allah’s Messenger (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad):
“The right of your slave (mamluk) is that you realize that he is the creature of your Lord, the son of your father and mother, and your flesh and blood. You own him, but you did not make him; Allah made him. You did not create any one of his limbs, nor do you provide him with his sustenance; on the contrary, Allah gives you sufficiency for that. Then He subjected him to you, entrusted him to you, and placed him with you so that he may be safeguarded by the good you give to him. So be kind to him, just as Allah has been kind to you. If you are displeased with him, replace him, but do not torment a creature of Allah. And there is no power except in Allah.”
The above Shari’a ruling was given more than 13 centuries before the infamous US Supreme Court case of Scott vs. Sanford, which ruled that a black man “had no rights which white men are bound to respect.” Given a choice between enslavement by American so-called “Christians” or by Imam ‘Ali ibn Husayn (upon him be Peace), I hasten to choose the latter! In essence, I have so chosen…
As for Asma bint Marwan, she was of Banu Umayya (the family of Umayya) and she openly called for Prophet Muhammad’s murder. Note, however, that Ibn Adiyy and other early hadith scholars regarded the story a fabrication, which is the more likely considering that the Most Noble Messenger (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) allowed a Jewish woman of Khaybar who had actually attempted to poison him to live. The motivation in both cases was to avenge kinsmen who had fallen in battle with the Muslims.
And again, Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) lived al-Qur’an. Therein Allah admonished him, “…if you had been harsh to them, they would have fled from you”. They didn’t. Neither will we, the disparagements and slanders of his enemies past and present notwithstanding.
The fact that Ibn Is’haaq accepted the story in no way makes it “sahih” (reliable). He got a lot of things wrong—particularly his assessments of the so-called “Apostle” Paul. The hadith recounting the alleged order to “kill any Jew who falls into your power” is but another example. The fact that there are significant—and almost certainly deliberate—mistranslations in Guillaume’s version (I am aware of one particularly egregious example involving the hadith regarding the Jewish merchant ibn Sayna) merely compounds matters.
The real order of Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) concerning the Jewish tribes in al-Medina at the founding of the first Islamic State is actually preserved at al-Azair University in Cairo—it was dictated by Muhammad and transcribed by his son-in-law Imam ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib (upon them be Peace). The order therein was not that all Jews be killed, but rather that they were to be left free to practice their own faith and to be judged according to their own laws.
I suppose this is as good an opportunity as any to segue into the following discussion—it must be understood, if one is to attempt to argue from ahadith, that even the so-called sihah (“reliable”) hadith compilations such as al-Bukhari were assembled from one to three centuries after Muhammad’s passing, and they contain hadith that are true, hadith that are questionable, and hadith that are downright fabricated, the “sahih” classification notwithstanding. Ibn Is’haq’s Siraatul Muhammad has never been regarded sahih by Muslim hadith scholars in any event.
This is why Shi’a Muslims such as myself have taken the position that the only sahih Book is al-Qur’an itself. In this we are supported by one of the hadith we know to be true, as it was narrated by Ja’far al-Saddiq, who got it from his father Muhammad al-Baqir, who got it from his father ‘Ali ibn Husayn Zainul-‘Aabidiin, who got it from his father al-Husayn ibn ‘Ali, who got it either from his father ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib or directly from his grandfather the Messenger of Allah himself (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad), or both:
“Compare the various ahadith (reports) to the Book of Allah. What agrees with it, accept it. What disagrees with it, hurl it against the wall.”
Our Sunni Muslim brethren likewise accept the authenticity of this hadith (but usually according to different isnad—chain of narration). It is, however, a fact that even the sihah of Bukhari and Muslim include derogatory hadith fabricated by the enemies of Prophet Muhammad, his family and the clan of Banu Hashim (upon them be Peace).
This was done by Banu Umayya, who violently usurped rule of the Islamic nation in the first al-Hijjra century. To justify their abominable behavior in the eyes of those they wished to dominate, Banu Umayya paid corruptible individuals who were known to have associated with Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) to fabricate hadith attributing such behavior to him.
Other hadith were fabricated out of pure hatred for our Prophet and his Ahl al-Bayt, particularly Imam ‘Ali (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad).
The same corrupt rulers who generated the hadith you delight in quoting to malign the Prophet of Mercy (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) made it a standing order that his beloved first cousin and son-in-law ‘Ali (upon him be Peace) be reviled and cursed by the Qutb (“preacher”, if you will) immediately after every Friday congregational prayer in every Masjid throughout the Islamic nation. This went on for 80 years, until a repentant Umayyad Caliph abolished the practice.
It is no secret to anyone familiar with Muslim history that the first two Umayyad Caliphs—Mu’awwiya ibn abi Sufyan and his even more wretched and evil son Yaziid openly declared their disbelief in the Islamic Revelation, and father and son proved their disbelief beyond all doubt by murdering the two grandsons of Prophet Muhammad (O Allah, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad).
The authors of such calumny have of course provided ample material for Christian polemicists such as yourself who are ever on the lookout to malign our faith, i.e. they’ve handed you a stick to beat us with. But for you to impugn the character of the Most Noble Messenger (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be on him and his Pure Family) by quoting accounts fabricated by his enemies is no more valid than it would be for someone to malign Jesus (upon him be Peace) by quoting the various despicable things written about him in some of the Jewish Thalmudiin.
I have no doubt that you would object vehemently to such a dishonest approach to “interfaith dialogue”, but you have no problem taking that approach with Muslims. Perhaps this is an example of that legendary “Christian love” about which we keep hearing so much—Allah save us from it!
Dedicated to Muntadir al-Zaydi, who had the courage to throw his shoe at one of the greatest mass-murderers and war criminals of the 21st century
ALLAHUMMA SAALI ALAA MUHAMMADAN WA ALAA AH’LII MUHAMMAD
(O My God, Bless Muhammad and the Pure Family of Muhammad)