Spencer and his hordes come calling

Sauron…err…Mr. Spencer has turned his baleful, lidless eye to litle old moi.

Unlike him, I don't make a living engaging in such polemics, so as fun as it would be to mix it up right now, my response will have to wait until I get home from work this evening.

Update (2009-08-09): All the posts on Robert Spencer/Jihad Watch exchange are available on a single page here.

  • sabiwabi

    May the force be with you, my dear Frodo Baggins. You’re gonna need it.

  • http://blog.taiyyaba.com taiyyaba

    hilarious! congrats. now you’re a true “islamist”

  • http://www.yursil.com Yursil

    I personally believe your answer lies within here:

  • http://www.yursil.com Yursil

    (Ottomans ftw)

  • A

    Mustafa Aykol – scroll down to see “Suggested Debates” on right side (two are with Spenser)
    ChasingEvil.Org on Spenser
    Umar Lee on Robert Spenser and “cashing in” (interesting comments)… Spenser makes $80,000 a year off his blog alone.

  • http://amillennialist.blogspot.com Amillennialist

    [Originally a long dump (in more ways than one) of trite charges and dubiously translated snippets from a (un-)Christian Islam-bashing blog, the comment has been replaced by the corresponding link. --Svend]

  • http://profile.typepad.com/GeoffP Geoff

    Oooh! The hordes! A handful of criticisms? You frighten easily, little fellow.

  • Devin

    Avoiding the insults I think that it is fair to answer the one question Mr. Spencer asked in regards to jihad against those who are not muslims. I am not very conversant with the sunni worlds, but in the Shi’a world my own marja’ Grand Ayatollah Saanei does not agree with the concept of aggressive jihad and Grand Ayatollah Sayed Sadiq Shirazi has espoused his belief in non-violence. His father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Shirazi wrote an entire book that is translated into english called, “War, Peace, and Non-Violence: an Islamic perspective” establishing this principle. I mean Ayatollah Saanei believes that people of any religion who live a good life will go to heaven. To be honest I do not know the views on jihad of people like Sistani or Khamenei or the late Emam Khomeini, but based on their practice in power I have to assume the later two are not in favor of any sort of world dominating jihad (although I have serious doubts about Khamenei’s qualifications as a marja) and Sistani basically stays out of any sort of governmental affairs that would open such a possibility. And before someone comes out saying that Ayatollah X, Y or Z 500 years ago disagreed, it should be remembered that in Imami Shi’ism taqlid is only made to living jurists, not to the dead.
    I am sure I wasted my time writing this as I doubt anyone is interested in actually discussing the issues, but I have been wrong before.

  • Devin

    I should add that in the Turkish world, Said Nursi and his student Fethullah Gulen have been quite explicit as well that physical jihad is not appropriate. I can’t remember the exact words, but Said Nursi said basically that now jihad is the jihad of the pen not the sword. And those two figures dominate contemporary Turkish Islamic thought.

  • Arjan

    Mr Svend,
    Simple fact is that wherever Muslims exist they are in conflict with the native populations – Buddhist(Thailand), Christians(Philippines), Hindus(India), Africans(Darfur), Slavs(Balkans), French(Suburbs of Paris), Scandinavians(Daily Rapes in Norway & Sweden).
    One can see why the intellectual Jihadist on the Saudi payroll who infest Washington, ALA, Academia get very uncomfortable with the bright light of truth Mr Spencer shines.
    You might call it polemics but we all know you are engaging in Taqiya , pure Goebbels style.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/GeoffP Geoff

    I thank you for your comment, but I note that not even Shirazi signs off completely on violence. I note from his site:
    “And why did the imams Ali, Hassan and Hussain participate in wars?” The reply to this is that this was based on a question of priorities. The issue was to choose the lesser of two evils; just as when a patient reluctantly agrees to undergo a surgical operation to amputate a limb in order to prevent greater harm to his body and health. If the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him (pbuh), had ignored the pagans and their mischievous deeds and had left them to their own accords, that would have resulted in the loss of thousands, if not millions, of lives, whereas the given response of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) limited it to less than fourteen hundred. [7] So on the one hand we have violence with tens of thousands or millions, and on the other violence with less than fourteen hundred. Clearly the latter would not be called violence compared to the first.”
    A more non-violent interpretation would be to simply refute all violence, and not to excuse such violence, even against “pagans”.
    Best regards,

  • http://1159pmgmt.blogspot.com Guy Macher

    Good arguments, but I am afraid that logic and fact are beyond the grasp of the Islamic mind. I have had Muslims tell me that Jesus died before he had a chance to become a murdering, plundering, raping prophet! And that’s the only reason Jesus failed to become as great as Mohamed!
    God bless

  • http://profile.typepad.com/GeoffP Geoff

    Thanks for the kind words, Guy.
    The issue is not whether muslims are lowered to the common denominator of sharia law, or fiqh, but rather THAT those laws are indeed applied, to women, to homosexuals, and to religious minorities living under their rule. Systemic violations of such basic human rights – the rights to gender, to sexuality, to religion; indeed, to all choice – are to be found throughout the islamic world, for all the crying out that dar-al-islam is more diverse, more tolerant, more rightly minded than the West. It would be so much easier to believe these claims if such violations were confined, say, only to Saudi Arabia, or only to Pakistan, or only to Afghanistan, or only to Egypt, or so on and so on. But the grand experiment has failed, again and again, leaving some of the demagogues that I know of to fall back on a claim to superiority through higher birth rates, which is generally a thin veneer over an implicitly supremacist – dare we say bigoted on this austere forum? – stance.
    In the end, it’s all very well to believe whatever one wants, whether it’s that Jesus died or didn’t die, was the Son of God or not, or didn’t even exist. I think even Svend would agree on this point. It’s when one disallows or delimits the reasonable representation – as in some nations near Israel that I can think of – that the problem occurs. Again, see that list of nations that Svend says he routinely criticizes, which can be found here:
    The upshot is the upshot. Will there ever be any common ground, when the one side rejects so utterly the other, to the point that it must actually LEGISLATE against it? Seems unlikely.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01157203282f970b Randy Rosales

    I am not a full-time researcher either so I think I know a good deal of effort for a layman when I see it.
    As carefully constructed as your response to Spencer was and how much time that must have taken, you still didn’t answer the one question posed to you – just provide one example, that is it!
    I know you stated that would have to wait for another time, but how much time did you spend formulating that red herring of a response, just to say nothing of consequence?
    How much further would your effort and those of so many other Muslim apologists be advanced by refuting Spencer’s works with a reasoned response to his question?
    I am supremely interested in your thoughts and in your writings!
    Having read Spencer’s books and Jihadwatch I am starving to see a Muslim apologetic refute even one of his claims – just one!
    As I find more and more papers and blogs from Muslim apologetics I find myself becoming more and more disappointed…
    I share a catholic, Christian faith rooted in the Western traditions of philosophy and sound reason. So just as St. John began the Gospel “In the beginning was the logos and the logos is God…” so begins my understanding of who God is.
    For “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” – Pope Benedict XVI (University of Regensberg)
    And “God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death….” – Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus (Siege of Constantinople, 1394 – 1402)
    Irregardless of how many red herring responses to Spencer’s work you create or I find, the reality of the world today is that many, many people are engaging in violence based on their religious leader’s and their own interpretation of Muhammad’s writings.
    The pun embedded in your blog’s title suggests to me that you are familiar with Occam’s Razor:
    Devized by a 14th century Franciscan Friar, it states that among competing hypothesis for explaining an unknown phenomena the one that makes the fewest assumptions and introduces the smallest number of actors is preferable as it is usually correct.
    How is it that even after some 607 years since the Siege of Constantinople so many Muslims are still interpreting Muhammad’s words incorrectly and in the exact same way?
    As an engineer, nothing speaks to me of intentional design as do consistency of results.
    Remaining sadly disappointed,

  • http://profile.typepad.com/JimSutter Rev. Jim Sutter

    Anyone can find over 4,000 Muslim leaders’ condemnations of violence, along with explanations of why violence is wrong in Islam, at http://facts-not-fear.blogspot.com
    The Qur’anic verses that are being taken out of context and used to justify someone’s personal agenda are the same as biblical verses taken out of context and used by Christian extremists and terrorists. Spencer and his propaganda campaign only fool the gullible and reinforce the heretical beliefs of the small percentage of Islamist extremists.
    Maybe someone should ask Spencer why he associates with and endorses neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Holocaust deniers and fascists who endorse genocide.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01157203282f970b Randy Rosales

    1) Great! This is great news! So many Muslim clerics repudiating violence! Thanks for sharing those links!
    2) Please show me the Christian denominations that teach violence to unbelievers justified and I will show you a denomonination that has turned its back to Christ completely.
    3)I’ll ignore yet another Ad Hominem (and this time slanderous lie) and misdirection. But, since I am going to ask you to do some homework for me, I will go ahead and do homework for you: Spencer and as you say “neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, Holocaust deniers and fascists who endorse genocide.”
    Svend, Sutter,
    So as to not get lost in all the noise I shall reiterate Spencer’s original question:
    Show me and show the world what Spencer and the violent misinterpreter of Islam leave out of their analysis of the Islamic texts.
    If he is wrong, just show the proof. Prove all of these violent misinterpreters of Muhammad’s words wrong and help usher in a Renaissance of freedom, justice and peace in the Muslim world – a world that is today perpetually dominated by tyranny, oppression and constant violence…that has started spilling over to the west (again).
    What is missing here is how these thousands of Muslim clerics are coming to their conclusions that the Islamic faith is opposed to violence when their Prophet committed such acts himself and his chronicles and words are full of such acts and calls for more.
    I and the rest of the world need to see the logic in this; we need to see the reasoning here.
    It’s true anyone can find such repudiations of violence from Muslims – however rare (in proportion to Islam-accredited violence) they might be.
    However has anyone ever seen the logic behind such repudiation; seen the reasoning, the theology, the philosophy?
    Spencer’s arguments are easy to follow because the terrorists provide this analysis themselves as justification for their actions.
    Maybe I am being confusing, so to help clarify my request, here is a modern example of such discourse from Pope Benedict XVI for the reasoning of why Christianity and violence are incompatible.
    Show me a single authoritative example of such discourse where Islam, by examination of its very nature, condemns violence.
    Spencer’s detailed analysis shows the opposite: that violence stems from many Islamic teachings.
    When the results of Islamic teachings are the same over and over again in many countries and cultures around the world a rational person must accept that there is a reason for those constant results.
    What you are telling the world is that for more than half-a-millenia a tiny majority of Muslims has constantly and consistantly misinterpreted Mohammed and perpetuated a culture of violence where he taught peace.
    As a Christian I hold Christ as the perfection of man: He lived and died as a total, loving sacrifice to humanity. Christians are called to emulate that loving, and self-sacrificing example to the best of their abilities.
    As a Muslim, what place does the 7th century warlord of Mohammed hold? Are Muslim’s to pick and choose his words and deeds as they see fit?
    I leave it to every Muslim apologist to prove these violent misinterpreters (and Spencer) wrong and enlighten us all.
    The world is still waiting,

  • Devin

    You are correct although the violence he excuses was not because they were pagans but because it prevented even more violence. However the request Mr. Spencer made was to supply rulings by jurists that violent jihad should not be waged against people who are not muslims in order to bring them under the rule of sharia. I provided two examples, I am sure there are more, but I am just some guy and not really knowledgeable about things beyond my immediate surroundings.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks very much for that link. That would seem to provide a countervailing example for Spencer, but he would probably change tacks and argue it somehow wasn’t binding or truly representative of the Islamic legal tradition. In any event, I’m not interested in getting bogged down in such a fruitless debate.
    Thank you for those links. Look forward to digesting them when the dust settles.
    Since you just dumped the contents of your bonkers anti-Islam blog, I’ve replaced it with the appropriate link. Visitors who appreciate your uninformed rants are welcome to hang out there instead.
    Don’t know where you got the impression I’m quaking in my boots.
    I am shamefully ignorant of the state of religious debate among Shia Muslims, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are further down the road of reassessing these doctrines thanks to the relative free rein enjoyed by Shia imams compared to the Sunni shuyukh in matters of precedent.
    Said Nursi–whose writings and followers have brought much light to the world–would seem a good example, though I don’t know how “traditional” he was from a legal standpoint. My impression is that there were some controversies in his day between him and the Ottoman scholarly establishment, so depending on the nature of those disagreements some might argue that he was unrepresentative of the broader legal tradition in some sense. I am not making that claim, myself, though. I don’t know either way and need to learn more.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/geoffp Geoff

    “Rev. Jim Sutter” -
    Surely not the Reverend Jim Sutter described in THIS website?
    Best regards,

  • Devin

    There are certainly a lot of reactionary elements amongst Shi’a scholarship, but I think you are right that because of their maintaining of the tradition of absolute ijtihad the Shi’a are less restricted in dealing with new situations. I think that it is inevitable that sunnism must reopen that doorway or they are going to have ever increasing problems. I also believe that one of the things that has greatly aided the Shi’a has been the khums system (which certainly has a lot of problems and is probably in need of some reform). Unlike most sunni areas where studying Islam is a sure ticket to an impoverished life, in the shi’a world a person can make an okay life for themselves and therefore people who may otherwise have taken other career paths go into studying Islam and you get a much more diverse range of people. Plus, studying at the hawzas is free and it encourages very intelligent people to maybe pass on medicine. We need the best people doing this most important job.
    In regards to Said Nursi, the point I would make is that Islam is not some ossified structure, but is a living tradition. And what is important is what muslims believe at this time in relation to today’s problems and not what some people in the past thought (although of course we consider what those in the past had to say, we are not bound to it). And today in Turkey Nursi and Gulen are much more influential than the remnants of the Ottoman religious establishment.
    I could go on about both topics longer, but this is not the place for it. I also wanted to ask you and everyone to pray for the people of Iran who are suffering in this time.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks for sharing these insights. I am Sunni, but I have a healthy respect for Shia tradition and occasionally envy them their relative openness to “un-Islamic” ideas. I wrote about Shia/Sunni relations a few years ago that sparked a really interesting debate in my blog comments. It might interest you. http://akramsrazor.typepad.com/islam_america/2005/12/tearing_down_sh.html
    Your point about the Nurcus now being to a great extent the religious establishment in contemporary Turkey is an astute one, I think. It certainly seems borne out by my interactions with Turks these days.

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