New from Monty Python: the Ministry of Silly Islamic Activists

Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks
Ever wonder how Monty Python would’ve discussed Islam and Muslims?  Wonder no more.  Behold the upcoming Secular Islam Summit, wherein an assortment of people with Muslim-sounding names are going to–drum roll, please–"chart the future course of reason, pluralism, and freedom of conscience in the Islamic world".

Some folks in the MSM appear to be excited about this millennial gathering, including CNN Headline News’ Glenn Beck, who announced that he’d be broadcasting his show from the summit.  The shindig has thus being elevated to the status of a national happening like the Democratic Convention or Super Bowl.

Too bad the event is likely to have as much affect on Islam, Muslims or the Middle East as a Shriners Convention.

I don’t know all the individuals involved, but the most prominent of the luminaries that have been tasked with plotting out the future of the Ummah are people who not only lack credibility or influence among Muslims, but actually inhabit surreally parasitic niches in the debate Islam and Muslims, passing themselves off as experts on a community and/or religious tradition to which they have a tenuous claim to expertise.  Many make a living off  being shrill, self-proclaimed Muslim dissidents–and ones that are, of course, the proud exceptions that make the rule of Muslim barbarity–and others are run-of-the-mill post-9/11 Muslim-bashing ideologues, albeit with the novel twist of having brown faces and Islamic names.

Take a look for yourself:

Who will be there? Mona Abousenna, Shaker al-Nabulsi, Nonie Darwish, Afshin Ellian, Hasan Mahmud, Tawfik Hamid, Shahriar Kabir, Nibras Kazimi, Irshad Manji, Salameh Nematt, Walid Phares, Wafa Sultan, Amir Taheri, Mourad Wahba, Ibn Warraq, Manda Zand Ervin, and a distinguished member of the Iraqi government, and many others.

No doubt many lucrative careers in Beltway punditry will be launched as a result of the MSM’s fawning attention to this trivial gathering, but the event it won’t make an iota of difference in the real world.

Well, perhaps that’s too uncharitable.  It might well succeed in changing the world in one critical respect:  It could help to postpone Islamic reform by giving rank and file Muslims yet another reason to (wrongly) suspect all Islamic reformers of being in league with the proverbial "enemies of Islam" in the West.  (And, no, I’m not using inflammatory rhetoric by that turn of phrase, as many of these individuals openly and unapologetically admit to such animosities. Take Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, or Ibn Warraq, for example.  They make no bones about being out to discredit Islam.) 

For all his PR missteps vis-a-vis the Muslim world, George W. Bush at least had the modicum of good sense to strive to minimize any appearance of his War on Terror being a war on Islam per se.  Decision-makers at CNN, to the contrary, seem to believe that the cause of civilizational dialog and intra-Muslim debate is somehow served by a pillar of the Washington establishment openly aligning itself with a motley gang of disgruntled and unknown ex-Muslims without a shred of support within "their" community. 

Now, the desire of powers that be in Washington to be "part of the solution" and to encourage political reform among Muslims as best they can is understandable, but this farcical confab is about as un-credible a vehicle for reform (or prognostications about its prospects) as they come.   These are people who couldn’t  hail a cab outside a mosque, much less lead a glorious Islamic reformation.

And if detectable influence and/or recognition within any known segment of the Muslim community is not an essential criterion of being a contributor to this weighty discussion, why not eliminate the middle men and just gather the real leaders of this school of thought–people like Franklin Graham, Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and the like–around the table right off the bat?   

Some might view my dismissal of this eagerly awaited event as a calculated attempt by a traditional Muslim (whatever that means these days) to marginalize dissent and debate.    They are free to do so, but they should realize their theory overlooks the fact that these guys are already utterly, irremediably, marginal.   One needn’t silence them, as no-one in the Muslim community gives a hoot what they have to say in the first place.

I’m sure their real audience–neocons, Islamophobes, secularists and others with an agenda to discredit Muslims and their viewpoints in the public eye–will be eagerly hanging on every word. I’m reminded of a memorable Dave Chappelle skit about a confused Black Klansman given to scorching denunciations of "n*****s" who hasn’t realized his own ethnic makeup because he’s blind.  Many of these counterfeit community activists exhibit comparably self-hating ideas and schizophrenic alliances.

It’s reminiscent in its farfetchedness of Monty Python, especially the beloved Ministry of Silly Walks.  Here, though, instead of outlandish gaits you have harebrained schemes to forcibly remake the Muslim world in the West’s image and endless clicheed slogans about "dhimmis" and "Islamofascism".   

Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks

Update (2007-03-14):  A few tweaks, most notably the masking of the n-word. 

That’s a blood-drenched, gut-wrenching word that I only used because I think the prejudice and hatred we’re talking about here is equally noxious and heartfelt.   That word is verbotten in most situations for good reason, but when critiquing racism I think its sometimes helpful to remind people of its continued existence in the world. It’s alive and well, and it has some new masks  (e.g., Islamophobia).

However noble one’s intenstions, banishing from public life frank discussions of the continued presence of racism ulimately helps racists escape scrutiny.   It’s healthy for right-thinking mainstream observers to be occaisonally forced to squirm at the shocking sight of the ugliness that continues to blight  the lives of many African-Americans and other minorities.   

Still, the knowledge that this word was sitting in open sight on my blog has been eating away at me, so I’m going to have to give into convention even though my usage is obviously not approving.

  • http://fakirnihindi.wordpress.com MG

    Browsing the site I noticed two things. One, nowhere does it say where exactly the summit is being held (default self-referentialism – I assume Inside the Beltway); two, it’s part of a wider and cartoonishly righty Intelligence summit. Check this out:
    http://www.intelligencesummit.org/2007schedule.php

  • http://www.masterofthejinn.com Irving

    Happy Belated Birthday :)))

  • Maleeha

    Holy cow, when I look at the website for this conference, I want to pull my hair (through my hijab, not an easy feat). Svend, you are so right that this will have the effect of alienating every Muslim who desires true reform by painting them in the same light as these charlatans. Just as I am not represented by the hadith-flinging mullahs, I am not represented by these self-hating pseudo-pundits masquerading as reformers.

  • http://amadsden.blogspot.com amad

    I wanted to write up something on this, but alhamdulilah you seem to have done poetic justice to the topic already. I venture to say though that there is still a lot more to talk on this. Isn’t it striking how the levels of ‘excitement’, ‘anticipation’ and ‘expectations’ are so high in the media, zionist, neo-con movements, yet the average Muslim in America hardly even knows about this and cares even less about it.
    Great job.
    P.S. I had done a little piece on Wafa earlier today… seems relevant now!

  • Stride

    Looks like the ‘West’ is going to be faced with a toughie… To grant these voices as those of reform and hope or to consider only the ‘scary’ messages from the traditionalists and get more aggressive in the GWOT.
    The solution to this – seems to be to put you carping guys together to get out a message of the ‘moderate islam’ you seem to espouse.
    Meanwhile the rest of us will continue breathing.

  • DrM

    Well said. Its interesting to see the number of evangelical christofascists masquerading as Muslims : Nonie Darweish, Walid Shoebat, Walid Phares(Maronite)etc.

  • Eva, Kanada

    What exactly are you reproaching to these people? That they speak their mind? That they oppose religious tyranny? Exactly what are they guilty of and why are you trying to mock their effort?

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Eva, I’m not reproaching that pack of zealots for anything. To reproach one must assume that the target shares your values.
    They’re for the most part shameless bigots and intellectual frauds who spread hate and confusion by going around and using their supposed “insider” status to endorse every offensive, dehumanizing stereotype about Muslims and Islam. That’s like reproaching a Klansman for racism. It’s a waste of time.
    The people I’m actually reproaching are woefully uninformed mainstream decision-makers who somehow got it in their heads that it would be constructive in this era of skyrocketing Western/Islamic conflict for the US to publicly support the agenda of this pack of bigoted ideologues who not only lack any credibility among Muslims, but are actively despised by Muslims (and for good reason, as these people openly loathe Islam and Muslims).
    Stride, whatever the solution is, it sure ain’t openly backing zealots who publicly denigrate Islam and offend a billion people.
    What if American leaders publicly endorsed a conference of “reformers” made up of Protestant extremists known for calling the Pope the Anti-Christ and that Catholics were spreading the message of Satan? (Don’t laugh, such talk was long a staple within influential segments of the Christian Right.)

  • Eva, Canada

    I beg to differ. The only fault of the people you keep denigrating is their independent spirit. They don’t need to spread lies about Islam. The hatred and vilification of the West in muslim countries speak louder than any muslim apostate. Since the Mohammed cartoons affair, no one of sane mind would ever consider Islam a peaceful religion.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    > They don’t need to spread lies about Islam.
    Actually, they spread lies incessantly. Both outright ones and lies of omission (e.g., saying Muslims are uncivilized because they do X, while neglecting to note how X is found among non-Muslims as well; see my post “The quakery of Wafa Sultan” for one glaring example).
    The uber-cliche of Muslim “hate” of the West. A few do, but most are fascinated by and eager to emulate (if not come to) the West.
    Incidentally, it is “hate” to call into radio station and say that the US needs to “bomb those people back to the Stone Ages”? What about saying that Muslims should have special ID cards? Oh, that’s not hatred but rather an unfortunate but pyschologically understandable reaction to what They did to Us. We don’t naturally hate Them.
    Is it an similarly unfortunate-but-explainable reaction of some Muslims to “hate” a nation that has actively supported the most tyrranical and/or violent regimes? That has literally supplied the bullets and rockets that have maimed and killed so many Palestinians (and now also Lebanese)?
    We’re so selective in how we define hatred. Some forms are defined out of existence because they’re directed in the right direction.

  • Truth

    “Actually, they spread lies incessantly. Both outright ones and lies of omission”
    Can you please be more specific and tell us what lies they are spreading about the “Religion of peace”?

  • http://profile.typekey.com/kactuz/ kactuz

    So, people that criticize islam are “people who not only lack credibility or influence among Muslims, but actually inhabit surreally parasitic niches in the debate Islam and Muslims, passing themselves off as experts on a community and/or religious tradition to which they have a tenuous claim to expertise”… If these people are so ignorant, and Muslims are so knowledgeable, please tell why Muslims have failed to notice the hate and violence in the Quran. Tell me why they see no problem in following a man who murdered, tortured, enslaved, raped and even beat his child-wife. These things are not exactly hard to find in the Quran and hadiths, you know, and they weeeren’t written by infidels either..
    It is because Muslims cannot be honest about their religion or the man they so love. There are no ‘moderate’ muslims, only those who ignore reality and make excuses. There are no knowledgeable Muslims, only those who are in denial or who practice deceit.
    Now a few quotes from one of those ignorant infidels who doesn’t see the ‘beauty’ of Islam or the ‘nobleness’ of Mohammed:
    Quote: Then the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and whey were left in the Harra (ie. rocky land). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died…” (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/052.sbt.html)
    Read verse 261 Yes, they were thieves and killers, but brutal torture is brutal torture, no matter who does it.
    Quote: “The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/006.sbt.html#001.006.301)
    Quote: Mohammed says… “Why is it, O ‘A’isha (his 9 year old wife!) that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain……. ,” Muslim 4:2127.
    ( http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/004.smt.html#004.2127
    Quote : “The military expeditions (Ghazawat, literally raid) in which the Messenger personally participated were twenty-six. Some say there were twenty-seven.” Tabari IX:118 “The armies and raiding parties sent by the Messenger of Allah between the time he came to Medina and his death (ten years) was forty-eight.” Tabari IX:115. The accounts tell of the plunder and taking slaves, of giving captured women to the Prophet’s men. The writer was especially proud of the raids where the caravans and villages were taken by surprise.
    Quote: Ibn ‘Aun reported: …The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) made a raid upon Banu Mustaliq while they were unaware and their cattle were having a drink at the water. He killed those who fought and imprisoned others. On that very day, he captured Juwairiya bint al-Harith. Muslim Book 019, Number 4292 – also in Bukhari. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/019.smt.html#019.4321
    Keep reading to see how your prophet gave his blessing on the rape of the women…
    The traditions (hadiths) state the following: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror, and while I was sleeping, the keys of the treasures of the world were brought to me and put in my hand.” Abu Huraira added: Allah’s Apostle has left the world and now you, people, are bringing out those treasures. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220)
    And then Muslims tell us that violence and terror have nothing to do with Islam. This is going to get much worse and good people cannot count on the so-called ‘moderate’ Muslims because they refuse to see the problem. We are not doing any favor to anybody when we are not honest about Islam and when we do not tell Muslims the truth about their faith.
    Another quote for you: “These (hadiths) are the real explanation, interpretation, and the living example of the Prophet (…) for teachings of the Qur’an.” (from
    http://www.islamicity.com/mosque/quran/)
    Some example… How noble he was… You must be so proud of this man…
    John Kactuz

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Ah, the old cut-and-paste heckler.
    One could do the same thing to “prove” that Christianity and/or Judaism are savage, illogical, or whatever by copying the long lists of problematic verses of the Hebrew Bible and even the Christian Bible. (BTW, the Hebrew Bible records outright, divinely-commanded genocide. The Quran does not.)
    The short answer is that you’re projecting modern values that did not exist (whether among Muslims or *any* other religious community at the time). You’re also making no attempt to factor in historical context (e.g., raids were part of desert life and, moreover, the Meccans had confiscated the property of the early Muslims after they emigrated to Madina, which makes their raids even more justified by the standards of the day). Muslims were no more sexist, violent, or intolerant than any other people were. In fact, a strong argument can be made that Muslim civilization has seen less religious persecution and pogroms than Christian civilization (note how Jews in 1492, realizing the torture that awaited them after Christian control of Spain restored, rushed to the Muslim world; Muslims don’t have a history of blaming Jews for killing Allah).
    But this is the typical ahistorical, polemical nonsense one hears to prove how bad Islam is and that hence unnecessary dialogue is futile with Muslims. Kill ‘em all and let Allah sort ‘em out, right?

  • Eva, Canada

    “Kill ‘em all and let Allah sort ‘em out, right?”
    Not necessarily. A great step forward would be admitting that there is sufficient proof that Islam is not altogehter perfect. This is what the secular muslims do at the risk of their personal safety. My friend, whether you know it or not, you are mocking and dismissing intellectual heroism. Perhaps your idea of heroism are beheadings, honor killings, blowing up markets and similar Allah-pleasing activities.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    There are many, many people of Muslim background who are unapologetically secular and yet do not go around fanning hatred and misunderstanding with shrill, poorly informed diatribes.
    Now, I concede that more debate is needed among Muslims (and increasingly it is happening) about the place of open secularism and open scepticism within a modern Islamic society (things which, it should be noted, have always been found in contemporary Islamic societies–in some respects, modern Islamic culture has actually become less tolerant and open to debate than it used to be; Islamic civilization has a long humanistic tradition). That’s why I wrote the following in an article–which is directed at other traditional Muslims–on another secular Muslim initiative:
    http://www.altmuslim.com/perm.php?id=1555_0_25_0_C23
    “On the one hand, I want to make some allowances for PMU in this regard, as I realize that they are trying to do something extraordinarily difficult, namely updating the Muslim community’s norms of tolerance to address thorny contemporary realities. For example, in our era of fragmented globalized identities, postmodernism, and widespread secularism, the idealistic assumptions about a Muslim’s identity and practice found in Islamic tradition do not always correspond to the reality of contemporary Muslims. Historians might debate whether the Ummah is more doctrinally diverse or less practicing today than in the past, but it’s safe to say that modern Muslims must face unheard of pluralism when dealing with their fellow Muslims. The days when most Muslims lived in a community in which a single madhab, culture, language, race, or even denomination predominate and block out other competing Islamic paradigms are long gone. Also, however one views or explains this phenomenon (i.e., secularization, decadence, modernism, materialism, etc.), it is a sociological fact that a significant segment of contemporary Muslim populations is made up of ‘cultural Muslims’. There are, unfortunately, large numbers of Muslims today who do not accept the need to practice Islam as laid out in Islamic tradition and fiqh. From a traditional perspective, they are not normal Muslims, but it is no less problematic to categorize them as non-Muslims, as they have not renounced Islam and they clearly are part of modern Islamic civilization in some meaningful sense.”
    “To PMU’s credit – and unlike many mainstream Muslim organizations – it has tried to grapple with this conundrum and create a space where Muslims who do not conform to mainstream expectations (however legitimate most such expectations may be) or who are struggling with their faith can participate without fear of knee-jerk takfir or harassment by self-righteous vigilantes.”
    If you think these people enlisting in hate campaigns against Islam and Muslims are helping, you’re woefully mistaken.
    Also, your crack about “Allah-pleasing activities” shows you know nothing about the Quran (which strongly condemns violence and makes it very clear that a believer’s actions even in war are strictly curtailed by ethical rules) or the state of contemporary Islamic belief. Like so many people today, you’re pummelling a straw man that has little relation to either Islamic tradition or any interpretation most Muslims would recognize.

  • http://ShadowofDiogenes.blogs.com/shadow/ Paul

    It seems to me that there is a crisis within Islam. I see horrible events taking place in the world and I see those who are committiing these outrages. In many cases, it is Muslims or people who profess to be Muslims. What conclusions am I to draw? A person’s actions will find him (or her) out.

  • Samira

    That is very interesting Paul. So when you see cluster bombs being dropped in Afghanistan by the U.S. what do you think of that? When you watch videos of children picking up these bombs and losing a limb what do you think of that? When you see U.S. soldiers (who are not Muslim) being charged with the rape and murder of a 12 year old child what do you think of that? When you see Israelis bombing a beach and killing a family on picnic while the surviving daughter screams in terror what do you think of that??
    Yes, I see suicide bombings and protests by Muslims but I also see that no one is immune to using violence as a tactic. Now open your eyes and realize that a double-edge critique of EVERYONE is the best way to really understand and see the complexities of our contemporary moment.

  • http://barefootbum.blogspot.com The Barefoot Bum

    One needn’t silence them, as no-one in the Muslim community gives a hoot what they have to say in the first place.
    Well, you apparently give enough of a hoot to blog about it. But given the thorough closed-mindedness–not to mention hypocrisy and general stupidity–of Muslims such as yourself, you’ll forgive me if your blithe dismissal of an opposing viewpoint does not come as a complete surprise.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Outside the Bizarro World of Washington, they’re utter non-entities. Were it not for the so-called War on Terror, they’d be flipping burgers.
    The event’s signficance is what it says about Washington’s woeful ignorance about Muslims and Islamic reform.
    I enjoy engaging with opposing ideas. The problem is that these characters have none. They’re for the most part puppets.

  • Samira

    Barefoot Bum-
    I am not sure where you are directing your comments. Instead of calling people stupid and hypocrites please engage with the ideas that Svend talks about in his post. I am not sure where Svend has indicated that he is close-minded but you certainly seem to be-for already expecting Muslims to be stupid and hypcrotical.

  • Daveed

    Ah, the (over-used) cut-and-paste heckler complaint.
    You know, it’s amazing how often people use this ad hominem, claiming to be able to do the same with Christianity or Judaism, and then fail to prove so by actually trying to doing it. And the reason they don’t do it is that they simply cannot do it. But it’s sure easy to make the complaint!
    I personally know one man who actually tried to convert his wife to Islam by explaining the violence and unreliable fallibility the Bible as his resource. What was the result? He read enough of the Bible to convert himself to Christianity. And this was a man that has the Qu’ran (and much of the Hadiths) memorized front to back like many true believers in the prophet of Islam.
    But this man read the truth, (the truth in the original source), and that truth set him free from the hatred of Jews and Christians that he’d been taught as a child in Bethlehem. So I dare you brother. Read the Bible, write down all of those violent references, and put them into a context to demonstrate that the are valid today and explain how they are currently being implemented by the Christian community against Islam. Please…. Please try to do it. Because doing so, could save your life. And that is because the truth is, they simply do not fit. They do not fit the Christian understanding of the scriptures subsequent to the reformation and general availability of the scriptures to the masses, nor do they fit the magnanimous actions of the Christian world towards the Middle East today.
    The writings do not fit heart of God nor are they expressed in the life of Christ or the Christian. Nor do they reflect the current life of Christianity (as a whole) since growing though the dissemination of knowledge of the scriptures subsequent to the reformation and the advent printing press.
    Yes. It is true that in prior times (pre-1500’s for example), there were some individuals who where held to no account for their actions, and were able (Leo X, Cesare Borgia, et al) to exploited the Christian scriptures, because of the lack of knowledge, or access to the scriptures that is available today and therefore there were few who had the ability or knowledge to dissent or effect change. Martin Luther of course, changed all of that.
    Some people claim Islam needs a similar reformation and get back to its’ real message like Christianity did. The problem of course, is that Islam already did that in the person of Muhammed Ibn Al-Wahab. And Islam did NOT get more peaceful because of it. It became more violent. It has in fact, had the opposite effect on Islam, than the reformation had on Christianity. Christianity got back to the real message and became more peaceful and more personal. And the biggest change in human history affected some 300 years subsequent to that Christian reformation, was the abolition of slavery. Hello??? Are you listening?
    Where are “you” Islam? Are you more peaceful as a result of your “reformation” ???
    And here’s the most demonstrative example: These (ancient) claims against (today’s) Christianity and Judaism do not fit the magnanimous attitude that the West has taken towards the starving people of the 80/20 window over the last 50+ years! The actions don’t fit the example. They do not fit the example of the way YOU have been treated by the vast majority of the Christian world.
    Nor can the prior poster validate his claim showing ANY scripturally sanctioned violence being perpetrated against non- Judeo/Christian believers (simply because they are non-Judeo/Christian) and being put it into a current context, and showing any example of how it is used by a any mainstream organization or lead by any “theologically recognized” expert leading ANY significant group ANY where on the planet, amongst the current believers of the Judeo/Christian faith today. At it most certainly cannot be done in the way the violent ideology of Islam can be shown to be currently utilized the Qu’ran and Hadiths as justification to murder millions with genocidal and reckless madness across the Middle East, Malaysia and Africa.. Thousands of Christians are persecuted and put to death each year, in these areas simply because they are “Christians”. What Muslim has been killed by a government in the West, simply because he was convicted of being “A Muslim”. None! End of debate.
    Islam uses it’s dogma to commit these atrocities. Where in the West does this happen? No wonder you all want to be here! And it’s with little wonder that so few of us here want to see that destructive ideology even “BEGIN” to have any influence in dar-al-TRUTH.
    Christians and Jews do not use the scriptures as a justification for perpetrating violence in the way that it is currently done by the followers of Islam.
    SO YOU (SIR) ARE A LIAR.
    And you cannot put your claim into a current context, the way it is currently being played out on the world stage with Islam.
    Were it not for the magnanimous charity of the Christians in America, 80% of the world’s population, currently living under the cloud of Islam would simply starve to death. And that sir, is the truth! The Islamic power mongers get rich and let their people starve. Is that the fault of the West? And then you complain when we intervene to bring freedom, equality, topple genocidal maniacs, invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and help you gain the ability to be a member of the productive half of the world, you claim we violate your sovereignty. It’s absurd.
    Is there injustice in the process? Yes. There are always a few opportunists. But destroying the process does not bring about change that will feed your people. It brings only chaos.
    The past is vapor. What is today, is what needs to change. You cannot look at the past, and find something to blame that will make it (today) “all better”.
    KNOW THIS:
    Jesus is the source of your life brother. Through his life, he has encouraged millions of Americans to send relief and charitable aid all across, Africa, the ME and Malaysia. As bad as it still is there; without that assistance, that part of the world would be vastly different than it is today. If you give careful consideration to what you are being told, you can see the truth. And once you accept the truth of the situation, you will have he freedom to affect “real” change.
    Until then, all you can do is point your fingers at vapor.

  • Daveed

    I meant wife, not “resource”.
    Sheesh!
    And I thought I proof read that!

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    }} Ah, the (over-used) cut-and-paste heckler complaint. {{
    Actually, I was referring to a very obvious example of such a tactic. The person in question pasted in a series of decontextualized quotes from scriptural search engines. Were an atheist to do likewise with quotes from the Bible (“Suffer not the witch to live”, etc. etc) without bothering to situate each, you’d cry foul, too.
    }} I personally know one man who actually tried to convert his wife to Islam by explaining the violence and unreliable fallibility the Bible as his resource. What was the result? He read enough of the Bible to convert himself to Christianity. And this was a man that has the Qu’ran (and much of the Hadiths) memorized front to back like many true believers in the prophet of Islam. {{
    The world’s full of people with different experiences and perspectives. We could trade convert stories, but that’s hardly a good use of time.
    }} But this man read the truth, (the truth in the original source), and that truth set him free from the hatred of Jews and Christians that he’d been taught as a child in Bethlehem. So I dare you brother. Read the Bible, write down all of those violent references, and put them into a context to demonstrate that the are valid today and explain how they are currently being implemented by the Christian community against Islam. Please…. Please try to do it. Because doing so, could save your life. And that is because the truth is, they simply do not fit. They do not fit the Christian understanding of the scriptures subsequent to the reformation and general availability of the scriptures to the masses, nor do they fit the magnanimous actions of the Christian world towards the Middle East today. {{
    Don’t preach to me about hatred of Jews. I’m not the one whose scripture, at least when literally read (and that’s how many Christians do it), makes it clear that the Jews extorted Pontius Pilate into killing the Son of God. In fact, they then even exclaim, “The sin is upon us and our children!”
    There is nothing even remotely comparable in Islamic tradition, much less scripture. Muslims have never assigned such a role to Jews, and for every problematic reference to Jews in Islamic tradition an analagous belief is to be found in Christian tradition.
    And when it comes to modern conceptions of warfare, the Quran compares quite favorably to the Hebrew Bible. And Christ at no point abrogates these principles or refutes these grisly accounts. There are no instances of genocide in the Quran, and it makes it very clear that warfare is a last resort and strictly limited in scope.
    That’s not to say that Christianity is anti-Semitic or warlike, but rather to point out that you’re not in a good position to preach to us, especially given Christendom’s truly awful history vis-a-vis the Jews. If you want us to take into account your interpretation of these problematic doctrines and verses, kindly give us the same benefit of the doubt and give our explanations serious consideration before you make all your half-cocked generalizations.
    }} Yes. It is true that in prior times (pre-1500’s for example), there were some individuals who where held to no account for their actions, and were able (Leo X, Cesare Borgia, et al) to exploited the Christian scriptures, because of the lack of knowledge, or access to the scriptures that is available today and therefore there were few who had the ability or knowledge to dissent or effect change. Martin Luther of course, changed all of that. {{
    Speaking anti-Semitism and Martin Luther, what about his vitriolic writings about Jews (e.g., his “The Jews and their Lies” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Jews_and_Their_Lies , in which he advocates putting them in camps–a fact that the Nazis pointed out–and treated them as being in league with the Devil)?
    What, that has to understood in its proper historical and cultural context? Martin Luther wasn’t really anti-Semitic? I can accept that, but why aren’t you wiling to listen to *our* explanations (and of far less disturbing doctrines, incidentally)?
    }}Some people claim Islam needs a similar reformation and get back to its’ real message like Christianity did. The problem of course, is that Islam already did that in the person of Muhammed Ibn Al-Wahab. And Islam did NOT get more peaceful because of it. It became more violent. It has in fact, had the opposite effect on Islam, than the reformation had on Christianity. Christianity got back to the real message and became more peaceful and more personal. And the biggest change in human history affected some 300 years subsequent to that Christian reformation, was the abolition of slavery. Hello??? Are you listening? {{
    Muhammad Ibn Al-Wahab was not a reformer, he was a schismatic and a zealot.
    As the bloody wars that broke out after the Reformation show, your reformation did not advocate modern values of peace and coexistence. Those are the result of the flukes of Western economic and political history, especially secularization.
    Christendom did not become philosophically or ideologically peaceful until the 20th century–up until then, many Christian societies were quite comfortable with slavery, colonialism and various other sorts of domination and violence of their fellow man–and even after that then we had the Holocaust, history’s bloodiest wars waged between Christians, and atom bombs dropped by Christians.
    I’m reminded of Gandhi’s quip about Western civilization being a “good idea”. Come back and preach to me when Christian culture actually has a track record of peace in any meaningful sense.
    }}Where are “you” Islam? Are you more peaceful as a result of your “reformation” ???
    I don’t like these sorts of pointless slogans, but by many measures, Islam has even to this day been much more peaceful than Chrsitianity. The body count of victims of Christians in the world’s conflicts dwarfs that of Islam by several orders of magnitude.
    }} And here’s the most demonstrative example: These (ancient) claims against (today’s) Christianity and Judaism do not fit the magnanimous attitude that the West has taken towards the starving people of the 80/20 window over the last 50+ years! The actions don’t fit the example. They do not fit the example of the way YOU have been treated by the vast majority of the Christian world. {{
    Puhlease. The West has systematically *created* many of these problems and now boasts of the few, meager bandaids that it dispenses.
    “80/20 window”. Thanks for identifying yourself as an evangelical and/or missionary with an innate bias against Islam.
    }} ? Nor can the prior poster validate his claim showing ANY scripturally sanctioned violence being perpetrated against non- Judeo/Christian believers (simply because they are non-Judeo/Christian) and being put it into a current context, and showing any example of how it is used by a any mainstream organization or lead by any “theologically recognized” expert leading ANY significant group ANY where on the planet, amongst the current believers of the Judeo/Christian faith today. {{
    Are you telling me that we couldn’t find examples of Christian leaders citing Revelations to opposed the rest of the world’s attempts to bring about a ceasefire in southern Lebanon recently? NOnsense. Your arguments are circular and utterly blind to your own engagement in the world.
    }} At it most certainly cannot be done in the way the violent ideology of Islam can be shown to be currently utilized the Qu’ran and Hadiths as justification to murder millions with genocidal and reckless madness across the Middle East, Malaysia and Africa.. {{
    Muslims aren’t angels any more than anybody else, but unlike you and me many of them find themselves in circumstances that are inherantly radicalizing. As I’ve pointed out before, Christians are no less moderate or civilized when they find themselves similiarly oppressed, marginalized or otherwise radicalized (e.g., the many poor rural supporters in South Carolina for abortion bomber Eric Rudolf, or even many normal Americans who polls have shown to be more supportive of torture than many Muslims).
    }} Thousands of Christians are persecuted and put to death each year, in these areas simply because they are “Christians”. What Muslim has been killed by a government in the West, simply because he was convicted of being “A Muslim”. None! End of debate. {{
    There certainly are problems, but these cases are mostly symptoms of the existing and often Western-instigated conflicts (a bit like when a Muslim American woman gets assaulted or accosted by some redneck).
    }} Islam uses it’s dogma to commit these atrocities. Where in the West does this happen? No wonder you all want to be here! And it’s with little wonder that so few of us here want to see that destructive ideology even “BEGIN” to have any influence in dar-al-TRUTH. {{
    You haven’t a clue of what you speak. There are hateful “Islamic” ideologies–there also hateful “Christian” ones, too (e.g., the Church of the Creator http://www.adl.org/backgrounders/wcotc.asp)–but they repudiate the Quran, Sunnah and Islamic juridical tradition in both letter and spirit.
    }} Christians and Jews do not use the scriptures as a justification for perpetrating violence in the way that it is currently done by the followers of Islam. {{
    You’re right. They’re often so secularized that they’re more likely to invoke “Freedom” than God. But they kill and oppress just the same.
    }} SO YOU (SIR) ARE A LIAR. {{
    Whatever…
    }} And you cannot put your claim into a current context, the way it is currently being played out on the world stage with Islam. {{
    Actually, that’s what I’ve done constantly on this blog.
    }} Were it not for the magnanimous charity of the Christians in America, 80% of the world’s population, currently living under the cloud of Islam would simply starve to death. And that sir, is the truth! The Islamic power mongers get rich and let their people starve. Is that the fault of the West? And then you complain when we intervene to bring freedom, equality, topple genocidal maniacs, invest billions of dollars in infrastructure and help you gain the ability to be a member of the productive half of the world, you claim we violate your sovereignty. It’s absurd. {{
    What is absurd is your weird analysis. But I’ll diginify it with a brief response:
    I have nothing but respect for those who give to charity, but Americans should also realize that sadly much of their wealth is at the expense of the rest of the world. Whether it’s unfair terms of trade that give the richest nation in the world a huge advantage over deveoping countries or the way we make the rest of the world pay (literally as well as figuratively) for our environmentally irresponsible lifestyle. There’s very good reason for us to be giving back.
    And we actually give far too little. We’re the stingiest of the Western nations and, though we get more than our money’s worth out of the UN, we don’t pay our fair share.
    And we imposed economic systems on the developing world that increase world poverty and make us even richer.
    And we’ve knowingly supported dictators who stole billions upon billions from their impoverished nations.
    Finally, much of the rest of the world is not in a position to help their poor. You talk as if the Muslim world were rich when it’s actually represents the world’s poorest socities.
    Get a clue. People of your ideological persuasion (this idolatrous mix of nationalism, free market fundamentalism and religious zealotry) do far more harm to the world every day by the policies you push than the pittances you contribute monetarily.
    }} [...]
    }}Jesus is the source of your life brother. Through his life, he has encouraged millions of Americans to send relief and charitable aid all across, Africa, the ME and Malaysia. As bad as it still is there; without that assistance, that part of the world would be vastly different than it is today. If you give careful consideration to what you are being told, you can see the truth. And once you accept the truth of the situation, you will have he freedom to affect “real” change.
    Until then, all you can do is point your fingers at vapor.{{
    My post was not about Christianity, but simply charlatanry. The irony of your defense of many of these people is that they are either atheists or hypocritical Christians that employ the same underhanded and poorly informed rhetoric towards Islam that kneejerk secular critics employ against your faith.
    But then neocon politics makes for ever odder bedfellows, right?

  • Don

    What a silly blog. A lot of insults: “bigots, zealots, marginal in the arab community” etc, but with no substance. People like Wahba & Abousenna have a point of view on e.g. Why Secularization Failed in the Muslim World. One can dispute their ideas with counter arguments. The approach you take ,however, only displays your own zealotry and fanaticism.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Vilifying people and misrepresenting their beliefs isn’t honest debate or reflection. I don’t have a problem with secular dissidents or freethinkers of Muslim background speaking their minds honestly and freely–in fact, some would lump me in with them–but I make no apologies for calling out bigots who fan hate and spread ignorance in times of conflict. Sadly, that is the stock in trade of many of these figures. Some of the things they attack about contemporary Muslim culture certainly deserve to be critiqued, but that doesn’t justify their demonization and cynical disinformation about contemporary Islamic belief.


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