Anti-Semitism in Islam: Israel Didn’t Start the Fire





Mr. Furnish, Ph.D (Islamic History), is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA 30338. Mr. Furnish is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger, 2005). Click here for his website: mahdiwatch.org.

Conventional wisdom among many American citizens, as well as numerous journalists, politicians and media anchors, has it that anti-Semitism1 in the Islamic world constitutes a not unreasonable reaction to the late 19th c. Zionist movement which led to the creation of the state of Israel right after World War II. In this view, were Israel to totally withdraw from the West Bank (and other disputed Arab territories), as well as enact the “right of return” and/or compensate displaced Palestinians, anti-Semitism in the Islamic world would dissipate like a mirage.

Unfortunately, hatred of Jews runs much deeper than a century or so into the past. In fact, it originates not only in the actions of the founder of Islam himself, but also in the eschatological belief-system of the world’s second-largest religion. In 622 CE the nascent Muslim community under Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, left Mecca in Arabia and headed north to the city of Yathrib. Part forced emigration, part prearranged political move, this hijrah not only marked the beginning of the Muslim calendar but the transition of the Muslims from oppressed minority to ruling majority. The newly-renamed Madinat al-Nabi, “city of the prophet,” became—in its shortened form, Madinah—the capital of an expanding religious, political and military movement that would encompass the entire Arabian peninsula, including Mecca itself, within eight years and then, of course, after another century conquer from Iberia to the borders of India.

In the process of the Islamization of Arabia, and a few years before Mecca fell to the Muslims in 630, a paradigm of Muslim-Jewish conflict was established.2 Several of the tribes of Madinah were Jewish, and refused to accept the prophethood of Muhammad. In fact the leaders of one tribe, the Banu Qurayzah, were reported to have been plotting to have Muhammad killed. After some negotiations and inter-tribal machinations—which included, portentously, Muhammad branding the Qurayzah “brothers of monkeys”3 —Muhammad allowed “one of [their] own number,” one Sa`d bin Mu’adh, to pronounce judgment on them.His verdict: “the men should be killed, the property divided, and the women and children taken as captives.” The narrative continues:

Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina … and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches….There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900…. This went on until the apostle made an end of them.[…] Then the apostle divided the property, wives, and children of B. Qurayza among the Muslims….4

Now, this was a brutal time and a brutal society, in many ways. And in his treatment of “unbelievers” Muhammad is not unlike some of the divinely-sanctioned rulers in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Joshua or David. (He is, however, most unlike the Jesus of the New Testament.) Nonetheless, there is no getting around the fact that the man whom Muslims believe to have been God’s last spokesman on Earth not only denigrated, but ordered the slaughter of, his fellow monotheists—and this long before the Theodore Herzl, David Ben-Gurion or Ariel Sharon ever existed.

This pattern set by God’s prophet is particularly influential upon the jihadist wing of world Islam, for whom the example of the early Islamic community is supremely normative. However, there is a powerful eschatological motif in Islam which also contributes immensely to the acrimony that too many Muslims feel towards the Jews: that of al-Dajjal.

The Dajjal, or “The Deceiver,” is one of five major end times actors according to Islamic teachings, and the chief embodiment of evil.5 In the anti-God camp with him will be the rapacious hordes of Yajuj and Majuj,6 as well as al-Dabbah, the “Beast.”7 Opposing these will be the returned `Isa, or Jesus,8 and al-Mahdi, the “rightly-guided one.”Jesus, Yajaj and Majuj, and the Dabbah have both Qur’anic and hadith sourcing (hadiths are extra-Qur’anic sayings attributed to Muhammad); however, the Dajjal and the Mahdi appear nowhere in the Qur’an, but only in hadiths—curious, considering that in many ways they are the two most important eschatological figures in Islam.9

What has this to do with anti-Semitism in Islam? The main role of the returned (Muslim) prophet Jesus and the Mahdi will be to defeat the evil forces of unbelief and usher in a global Islamic caliphate. And the forces that the Dajjal will lead forth to battle the Muslims will be…Jewish!!10 The Dajjal himself is usually described, drawing upon relevant hadiths, as corpulent and/or tall, frizzy- (perhaps red-) haired, one-eyed, able to perform sham miracles, having the Arabic linguistic root for “unbelief”—K-F-R—tatooed on his forehead. And while he is actually not described as Jewish himself, the hadith accounts of his Jewish supporters have provided plenty of ammunition for Muslim exegetes to assume that he, too, will be Jewish and—of course—linked to Israel. For example, the K-F-R on the Dajjal’s brow is said to be the same symbol used on the tail fins of Israeli fighter jets.11

But the Jewish component is not the only one of the “Dajjal system,” for that system is truly the one of unbelief—a rubric under which both science and Christianity should be subsumed.12 While the hadiths suggesting that the Dajjal will be Jewish go back, in some cases, to the 9th century CE/3rd century AH, the recent upsurge in eschatological anti-Semitism probably dates to about 20 years ago, when the Egyptian writer Sayyid Ayyub began publishing works in Arabic claiming that the Dajjal was already active on Earth and that he was Jewish.13 And this view is not active only in the Arab Muslim world, in the “front-line” states bordering Israel. A recent Indian Muslim writer14 is convinced that “the Jews are waiting impatiently for the coming of Dajjal, their beloved king,”15 for

Zionists in their bloodthirsty lust for power are not satisfied with Palestine. In their arrogance, they openly admit that they want all Syria…Lebanon…Jordan…Iraq…Iskenderun16 …the Sinai…the Delta area of Egypt and the Upper Hejaz17 and Najd18 ….They even want the holy Madinah [sic]19 ….Their main aim is to exterminate Islam [emphasis added].20

This writer goes on to repeat the hadith that the Jews will get their comeuppance before the end, when in the final battles “they will not be able to hide behind any stone, wall, or animal or tree without it saying ‘O Muslim, servant of Allah, here is a Jew, come and kill him.”21 The Dajjal will actually be killed by Jesus, and the Dajjal’s dispirited army of Jews, unbelievers and “Magians” will then be defeated by the Mahdi and his army of Muslims. Afterwards peace will reign under the global rule of the Mahdi and/or Jesus for some time (the hadiths are not harmonious on just who will be superior and who will live longer), before both great Muslim leaders die and unbelief again proliferates.Thereafter, at some point, will come the true end of time and the Judgment.

Islamic eschatology has seen a resurgence in recent years, owing to the turn of the (Christian) millennium, the inability of the Islamic world to deal effectively with modernity and the perception among many Muslims that the ummah, the Islamic “nation,” is not only in dire straits but is under attack from the West in general and the U.S. in particular. A powerful yearning for the Mahdi to come and deliver the ummah has grown among both Sunni and Shi`i Muslims, and the eschatological play cannot be acted out until the Dajjal comes, as well. Hugo Chavez may see President Bush as “El Diablo,” but for many in the Muslim world this figure of evil is “the Jew,” particularly in his armed-and-dangerous incarnation as “the Zionist entity”—Israel. If even a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are influenced by such a belief, as well as by the undeniable anti-Semitic example of their own founder—and all indications are that this is indeed the case—then it’s naïve at best and dangerous at worst to expect that any sort of political or territorial concessions on the part of the Israelis will enervate such rancor. Jimmy Carter and James Baker, among others, would do well to factor that into their future policy recommendations.

1 While broadly-speaking “anti-Semitic” would refer to any ethnolinguistic group speaking a Semitic language—amongst whom Arabs are, ironically, the vast majority—I use the term here in it conventional, narrow sense are meaning “anti-Jewish.”

2 See `Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Life of Muhammad. A Translation of Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, Introduction and Notes by A. Guillaume (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1955), pp. 459-466.

3Ibid., p. 461

4Ibid., p. 464, 466.

5 See A. Abel, “al-Dadjdjal,” Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, pp. 76-77.

6 Surah al-Kahf:92ff; Surah al-Anbiya’:96; and compare to the descriptions of Gog and Magog in the Bible at Ezekiel 38 and 39, as well as Revelation: 20.

7 Surah al-Naml:82ff; also, compare this Beast to that of Christianity, Revelation 13 and 17

8 Surah al-Ahzab:7ff; Surah al-Ma’idah:44ff, 75ff, 109ff; Surah al-Imran:46ff; Surah al-Nisa’:156ff; Surah al-Saff:15ff.

9 And in fact even there the Dajjal is more legitimately sourced than his counterpart the Mahdi, because the former is mentioned not only in dozens of hadiths but in the two most authoritative collections—those of al-Bukhari and Muslim.The Mahdi shows up only in lesser collections, such as those of Abu Da’ud, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah—which, as I have written about extensively elsewhere, has not diminished belief in the Mahdi in any phase of Islamic history, including our own.

10 For a complete list of relevant hadith cites, as well as exegesis thereof, see Usamah Yusuf Rahmah, Iqtarabat al-Sa`ah [The Approach of the Hour] (Damascus/Beirut: Dar Qutayba, 2001), pp. 164-208.

11 Ahmad Thompson, Dajjal: The King Who Had No Clothes (London: Ta-ha Publishers, Ltd., 1986), p. 3.

12Ibid., pp. 6, 9, 80, and infra.

13 See David Cook, “Muslim Fears of the Year 2000,” Middle East Quarterly, V, 2 (June 1998), pp. 51-62.

14 Mohamad Yasin Owadally, Emergence of Dajjal. The Jewish King (Delhi: Rightway Publications, 2001).

15Ibid., p. 12.

16 The former Alexandretta, on Turkey’s southwestern Mediterranean coast, of Indiana Jones fame.

17 The Hijaz is the western coastal region of the Arabian peninsula.

18 The Najd is central Arabia.

19 Owadally, p. 35.

20Ibid., p. 36.

21Ibid., p. 68. The actual hadith cite is found in the Sahih of al-Bukhari: Book 041, Number 6985: Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.”


This piece was written for HNN but first published at frontpagemag.com on Feb. 2, 2007.


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Stephanie Galaitsis - 1/22/2008

Hi Mr. Furnish,

I stumbled upon this recently, I'm sorry I never saw your reply. But I have a reply for you now, by virtue of some work I've been doing recently.

During the 1930s the Nazi's were in Egypt trying to create problems between the Egyptian Muslims and the Egyptian Jews. Failing, one their officers released a statement saying

“[O]ne has to start with the issue where real conflicts of interest exist between Arabs and Jews: Palestine. The antagonism between Arabs and Jews existing there has to be transplanted to Egypt.”

[Kramer, Gudrun. The Jews of Modern Egypt 1914-1952 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989) pg 138.]

The point being that the Nazis needed to use the Palestine controversy to create concrete anti-Jewish feeling in Egypt *because it was otherwise lacking*. So I stand by my point that anti-Jewish sentiment among Muslims before the foundation of Israel was predominantly, if not entirely, simple xenophobia. Egypt is of course one example, but there are others (see king of Morocco's protection of Jews during WWII).

And again, religious doctrine does not always apply to practice. History from the 600s should be the last thing you use when looking at modern anti-Jewish sentiments among Muslims. And as I said before, he was harsh with other Arabs too. (I have no citation on me, sorry, but it's there) A lot of stuff has happened since then. I doubt you'll read this but if you do I'll try to keep tabs on it in the next couple weeks.

Anyway: last thought. Don't let modern Muslim anti-Jewish sentiment project itself into history. Our job as historians is to know what happened then, not what radicals are saying about it now.


Stephanie Galaitsis - 1/22/2008

Hi Mr. Furnish,

I stumbled upon this recently, I'm sorry I never saw your reply. But I have a reply for you now, by virtue of some work I've been doing recently.

During the 1930s the Nazi's were in Egypt trying to create problems between the Egyptian Muslims and the Egyptian Jews. Failing, one their officers released a statement saying

“[O]ne has to start with the issue where real conflicts of interest exist between Arabs and Jews: Palestine. The antagonism between Arabs and Jews existing there has to be transplanted to Egypt.”

[Kramer, Gudrun. The Jews of Modern Egypt 1914-1952 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1989) pg 138.]

The point being that the Nazis needed to use the Palestine controversy to create concrete anti-Jewish feeling in Egypt *because it was otherwise lacking*. So I stand by my point that anti-Jewish sentiment among Muslims before the foundation of Israel was predominantly, if not entirely, simple xenophobia. Egypt is of course one example, but there are others (see king of Morocco's protection of Jews during WWII).

And again, religious doctrine does not always apply to practice. History from the 600s should be the last thing you use when looking at modern anti-Jewish sentiments among Muslims. And as I said before, he was harsh with other Arabs too. (I have no citation on me, sorry, but it's there) A lot of stuff has happened since then. I doubt you'll read this but if you do I'll try to keep tabs on it in the next couple weeks.

Anyway: last thought. Don't let modern Muslim anti-Jewish sentiment project itself into history. Our job as historians is to know what happened then, not what radicals are saying about it now.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

After some preliminary common sense, obviously meant to preserve his thin veneer of erudition and objectivity that compels Dr Furnish to note:

“ Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina … and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them(The Jewish tribe of the Banu Qurayzah) and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches….There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900…etc..etc.
Now, this was a brutal time and a brutal society, in many ways. And in his treatment of “unbelievers” Muhammad is not unlike some of the divinely-sanctioned rulers in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as Joshua or David. (He is, however, most unlike the Jesus of the New Testament.)”

After this opening sentence Professor Furnish hastens to reveal the true message of his post:

"then it’s naïve at best and dangerous at worst to expect that any sort of political or territorial concessions on the part of the Israelis will enervate such rancor. Jimmy Carter and James Baker, among others, would do well to factor that into their future policy recommendations."

What Professor Furnish actually advocates here is the continuation of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories (leading to annexation or transfer?), the continued denial of the Palestinians right to self determination, the continuation of lands expropriation for settlement construction and the continued subjugation of the Palestinians, residing in their homeland, to Israeli occupation rule; that is, in other plain words, the continuance of the present total denial of the Palestinians' human, civil and political rights.

These, presumably more sober Furnish recommendations, are based on the historical "fact" that :

"Unfortunately, hatred of Jews runs much deeper than a century or so into the past. In fact, it originates not only in the actions of the founder of Islam himself, but also in the eschatological belief-system of the world’s second-largest religion. "

This Furnish “fact” is based on , deduced from, two sources:

1- The , historically correct, anti Jewish tribes campaign undertaken by the Prophet that he, in a less abjectly moronic state, correctly portrays as the outcome from : _” Several of the tribes of Madinah were Jewish, and refused to accept the prophethood of Muhammad. In fact the leaders of one tribe, the Banu Qurayzah, were reported to have been plotting to have Muhammad killed.”

2- The absurd and far from consensual myth/fable, in spite of his implicit assertion to its pervasiveness, of the "Dajjal" allegory who though, in Furnish’s own words:
” . And while he is actually not described as Jewish himself, the hadith accounts of his Jewish supporters have provided plenty of ammunition for Muslim exegetes to assume that he, too, will be Jewish and—of course—linked to Israel. For example,’ that continues with the perplexing confirmation that :” K-F-R on the Dajjal’s brow is said to be the same symbol used on the tail fins of Israeli fighter jets.11” to which he provides no answer to the question “ said to be…etc” By WHOM ??

What is truly amazingly note worthy here,in this post, is that it was laboriously and diligently thought out and written by an “ex” US military intelligence operative and a “present” Professor of (Islamic?) History at a US college!

That American policies were ever based on “intelligence” contributed to and US college students are taught history by such a man, to whom 14 centuries old tribal conflicts and the myth of the “Dajjal” are guide lines to the future, explains its tremendous successes in its relations with the Arab/Moslem world.
Will America ever wake up to the charlatans in its intelligence and academic midst?


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007



For reasons of their own, though not hard to fathom, Pipes, a self declared propagandist for the Zionist/Israeli cause, and pseudo Pipes i.e. Profs Furnish and Eckstein have waged an unrelenting campaign, addressed to non Moslems, against Islam; which is their undeniable right!

Patently they hope they will be among those many others that work in the West for an allover West anti Islam tsunami.

Should they ever succeed in their efforts what would the, their, next phase be?

-World wide it would certainly poison, further more, the relations between the West and the Arab/Moslem World.
I see no interest for either party in that.

-Pipes &Co wide their next phase would, almost certainly, include a direct call for an all out military war, starting immediately with Iran, against Islam , a la Afghanistan and Iraq ie to include, as a final objective, the total destruction of all sizable Moslem nations: Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Malaysia, Nigeria etc etc ;
Some 1.5-2 billion Moslems.

Except for their Alma matter, Zionism, I see no interest for any other party in that




.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007




For reasons of their own, though not hard to fathom, Pipes, a self declared propagandist for the Zionist/Israeli cause, and pseudo Pipes i.e. Profs Furnish and Eckstein have waged an unrelenting campaign, addressed to non Moslems, against Islam; which is their undeniable right!

Patently they hope they will be among those many others that work in the West for an allover West anti Islam tsunami.

Should they ever succeed in their efforts what would the, their, next phase be?

-World wide it would certainly poison, further more, the relations between the West and the Arab/Moslem World.
I see no interest for either party in that.

-Pipes &Co wide their next phase would, almost certainly, include a direct call for an all out military war, starting immediately with Iran, against Islam , a la Afghanistan and Iraq ie to include, as a final objective, the total destruction of all sizable Moslem nations: Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Malaysia, Nigeria etc etc ;
Some 1.5-2 billion Moslems.

Except for their Alma matter, Zionism, I see no interest for any other party in that.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Prof
It is NOT the "evidence" that you present but the worthlessness, irrelevance and vacuity of these "evidence" (14 centuries old tribal conflicts and the myth of the "Dajjal")as indicators of intrinsic nature and guide lines to the present and the future.
The history of humankind is replete with incidents, myths and fables on which it is possible to erect all sorts of theories and premises.
The good authoritative historian, such as Toynbee, would tell the significant from the worthless and meaningless...but that would be asking too much from you , of course


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Sorry Friedman, your latest third grade trick won't fly. Anyone can see YOUR MISTAKE by reading the thread above. You said Rabin wanted the West Bank (the PA lands) to become part and parcel of Jordan) then you tried using very lame intimations of somebody else saying something rather different as proof for this mis-remembered non-statement. Then another dodge or two, and now a baldfaced lie.

Haven't you got a valentine yet? Even third-graders can exchange them.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Yes fair point, Mr. K (re over-generalizations and fascism). It would also be fallacious, however, to say that everything the government of Israel does is worthy of incessant, insult-based tooth-and-nail defense, because the most diehard enemies of Israel are even more barbaric and uncivilized than it. And it would be and is boringly hypocritical of you and your echo chamber buddies here to damn one fallacy and live for the other.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

My comment was to Kovachev, who at least drops an original thought in once in a while.

The odds of Israel NOT surviving dropped precipitously after the end of the Cold War. That is why sensible Israelis, like Ytzhak Rabin, who didn't need "ignorant" Islamophobic "busybody meddlers" from outside telling them what to do, took advantage of the position of relative Israeli strength to strike peace deals with Jordan and the PLO. Pity that those busybody meddlers failed to condemn the Israeli terrorists who killed those leaders and their common sense policies. The effects of the chickenhearted stupidity of these terrorists is seen in the Lebanon debacle of last summer which suited their brutal cowardly temperament and threw egg all over the faces of the once justly proud Israeli military.



Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Why do you constantly harp on "facts" (and "evidence") when you have difficulties distinguishing facts from the anti-Islam rhetoric you constantly recycle from your hatemongering sources, Friedman? Are you truly so confused or is this just another little junior-high-school debate team smokescreen?

Real facts seem to be of little use to you, because you cannot process them unless they conform to the prefabricated prejudices you have been fed.

"Mr. Rabin's idea was for the PA areas to become part and parcel of Jordan."
???

I don't think so.

Here is Wikipedia says about the Olso Accords which Rabin signed in 1993, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize, for which he was murdered by Israeli terrorists, and for which he has been regarded since as a hero by farsighted Israelis, but not by blind American dupes of the terrorist-extreme of Israeli politics. Nothing here about West Bank land going to Jordan:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_Accord

"Principles of the Accords

In essence, the accords call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and affirm the Palestinian right to self-government within those areas through the creation of the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian rule would last for a five year interim period during which a permanent agreement would be negotiated (beginning not later than May 1996). Permanent issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, Israeli settlements in the area, security and borders were deliberately excluded from the Accords and left to be decided. The interim self-government was to be granted in phases. Until a final status accord was established, West Bank and Gaza would be divided into three zones:
▪ Area A - full control of the Palestinian Authority.
▪ Area B - Palestinian civil control, Israeli security control.
▪ Area C - full Israeli control, except over Palestinian civilians. These areas were Israeli settlements and security zones without a significant Palestinian population.

Together with the principles the two groups signed Letters of Mutual Recognition - The Israeli government recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people while the PLO recognized the right of the state of Israel to exist and renounced terrorism, violence and its desire for the destruction of Israel."


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, that was pitiful, even for you. Peres talked about a possible Palestinian federation which proves that Rabin wanted the West Bank to become "part and parcel" of Jordan? You are right about somebody not knowing what they are talking about.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

that is (was).

i.e. not the same as Jordan
as Rabin is not the same as Peres


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

CLARKE Re: "outsiders" (#105293) February 11, 2007 at 5:03 PM

“The odds of Israel NOT surviving dropped precipitously after the end of the Cold War. That is why sensible Israelis, like Yitzhak Rabin…took advantage of the position of relative Israeli strength to strike peace deals with Jordan and the PLO.”



FRIEDMAN Re: "outsiders" (#105296) February 11, 2007 at 5:18 PM

“Mr. Rabin's idea was for the PA areas to become part and parcel of Jordan”.



CLARKE Facts and non-facts about Jordan (#105350)
February 13, 2007 at 4:14 AM

“I don't think so…

Nothing here about West Bank land going to Jordan:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_Accord

‘Principles of the Accords

In essence, the accords call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank and affirm the Palestinian right to self-government within those areas through the creation of the Palestinian Authority…’ “



FRIEDMAN Re: Facts and non-facts about Jordan (#105356)
February 13, 2007 at 11:30 AM

“here is what the supposedly authoritative Israeli newspaper Haaretz indicates…

‘Detailed and repeated discussion of Palestinian statehood. The text mandates a "two-state solution," with an "independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel.

At the time that Oslo was being drafted, Israeli leaders had not yet reconciled themselves to an independent Palestinians [sic] state. Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres "spoke to Arafat at the time over the model of a Palestinian confederation with Jordan’

[Here Friedman evidently mistakenly pasted two distinctly different excerpts together without separately identifying them]



FRIEDMAN Re: Lame (#105373) February 13, 2007 at 5:10 PM

“This is a well known and uncontroversial fact. Find me evidence that I am wrong. Otherwise, I suggest you concede that Haaretz - a website that ought to have accurate information on this topic - is correct and you are wrong.”



FRIEDMAN Re: Lame (#105374) February 13, 2007 at 5:20 PM

“Haaretz notes - without any controversy, as the matter is without doubt correct – that the Israeli government under Rabin had no intention of creating a Palestinian state but, instead, a Palestinian state confederated with Jordan.”




Friedman, you never learned how to write an undergraduate history paper with proper citations and it shows here for the umpteenth time. You can't prove a claim by shouting it louder and louder, over and over, or by trying to pretend that you said something different to begin with a few posts back. You can only generate yet another of the way-over-to-the-right swerving threads for which you are famous on HNN.

If a “supposedly” (in your words) authoritative Haaretz article stated that Rabin as Prime Minister (not some other politician or Rabin decades earlier) wanted to let the West Bank become “part and parcel” of Jordan (not explore the possibility of an eventual federation between a future Palestinian state and the existing state of Jordan), then you need to quote that statement (not some other statement) and cite at least the date when the Haaretz article appeared (so that others can look up and read the actual text of the article rather than rely on your confused and scrambled-up cutting and pasting from it).

If you actually got the Haaretz article excerpts from some website that did not cite the original, then you need to name that website or find and supply the date of the original Haaretz article yourself.

Or if that article after all, does not support your point about "part and parcel of Jordan," find another source that that does.

Or if you don’t want to look for a substantiating article, retract your conclusion about the original point being a “well known and uncontroversial fact" and state truthfully what it really is: e.g. (most probably) your opinion about what you believe you correctly remember.


The above-stated approach is from freshman history-writing 101, Friedman. Time for you to finally sit down and learn how to do it, don't you think?

Or, if you, after all, remembered your history incorrectly about Rabin to begin with, admit it and shut the heck up (for the first time in circa 2000 posts on HNN).


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, if you have actual quotes from Rabin, stating that he wanted the West Bank to become "part and parcel" of Jordan, you should have showed them many posts ago, but are welcome to do so now as far as I am concerned.

If Rabin was thinking during the Oslo process in the early '90s that the West Bank should go back to Jordan (despite Jordan having disowned it) that does not prove your original non-historical implication that Israel has been under an unchanging threat of being wiped out, from 1948 to today. But, it would indicate that you are able to back up extreme claims, and not just run around in circles when questioned on such claims.

If you don't have such actual quotes from Rabin, then see my other post ("Friedman's errors") above.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I can provide the Rabin quote. However, you can get it by googling.

I cannot find it (on Google, Rabin + "part and parcel of Jordan" yields zero hits), can you ?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Yes, I am quite sure Rabin said something like that on more than one occasion (and doubt that he ever publicly said anything as rash or volatile as that the West Bank should become part and parcel of Jordan). Self-governance and not yet full statehood is the plain intent of the readily gooable Olso Accords. It was supposed to be an interim step. That is how peace processes often work, such as that arranged between Israel and Egpyt, for example. That Oslo process was aborted by Israeli murderers, however, which is something you will have massive difficulty ever reading about about even once in a blue moon here. It is a pity that HNN endlessly supports deliberately-fostered historical ignorance by continually running anti-Islamic rubbish instead enlightening dupes such as you as to what actually did and did not happen in the past in places such as Israel.
The truth is that the Islamists HAVE been the bad guys most of the time in the Mideast. But that is not enough for the extremists you emulate. For them, the Moslems have to be always the bad guys forever, until they all die. Very Final-Solution-like thinking. Not nice at all, Mr. F.

Okay, it was not a major mistake. And we all make mistakes. And I am sure you have learned a few useful truths along with all the ahistoric anti-Islamic polemics and propaganda you have devoted too much of your life to devouring, and which help you to imagine things that didn't really happen. But you really could admit that your memory fails you from time to time and not die.

Now go and get flowers or chocolate or something for your wife for Valentines Day and let poor Mr. Rabin rest in peace.


Tim R. Furnish - 3/6/2007

Ms. Galaitsis,
Your focus on tone seems to have blinded you to substance. It is simply untrue that "Jews in the Arab world were consistently treated much better than i nthe Christian world." Have you ever heard of the al-Muwahhids, who ruled the Maghrib and part of Iberia for over a century? They forcibly converted Jews to Islam, and killed members of Catholic religious orders as well, I might add. I note that you adduce absolutely no evidence for your assertion that Israel causes Arab (don't you mean "Muslim"?) anti-Semitism.
You may call my writing(s) "Islamaphobic" [sic--it's "Islamophobic"], but the fact remains that the founder of Islam ordered Jews killed for refusing to accept him as a prophet. I'd say that's a bit more than "harsh."


Stephanie Galaitsis - 3/2/2007

I am very concerned by the tone of the responses to these comments - I thought this was a dignified site for attentive students and professors of history.

This is a Islamaphobic article. Muhammad was harsh to the Jews, but he was also harsh on other Arabs, and we know from Judaism (which clarifies how to sell your daughters) that scripture does not define religious practice. Jews in the Arab world were consistently treated much better than in the Christian world (though there will always be Xenophobia - name one society today where there is not). Anti-Semitism in the Arab world is a direct result of Israel.


Saiful Ullah - 2/15/2007

I don't personally dispute the sources. Rather that they have been taking out of context, the hadith for example are so hard to understand.

Sahih of al-Bukhari Book 041, Number 6985 for example does not refer to Jews collectively rather those who support the Dajjal. The reason why you will find that Jews are specifically mentioned is that some Messianic Jews anticipate a messiah and will therefore ally themselves with him.

Furnish fails to mention the fact that the hadith states that Christians too follow him until the arrival of Jesus.


N. Friedman - 2/15/2007

Peter,

As I said, such was Rabin's position. That is what was meant by an entity. That was his government's position and that was the position of his foreign minister, speaking as a representative of the government, not on his own.

So, stop telling me I am wrong when I am correct.


N. Friedman - 2/14/2007

Peter,

My point is that the Israelis were expanded their ideas, from the time of Rabin, to the time of Barak. I note that Rabin's policy - whether or not crassly stated - was for a Palestinian Arab entity associated with Jordan. And, to note: if that was the dovish Peres' view, Rabin was not out in front of him.

I am glad that you have finally admitted a mistake. I think this is a first - actually, if we count your other note today on a different article - second for you. I am impressed as it is not easy to admit error.


N. Friedman - 2/14/2007

Peter,

He said that the PA would be an entity, not a state. That is pertinent detail.


art eckstein - 2/14/2007

I agree. Professor Furnish, please take a look at the gentlemanly and scholarly debate between N.F. and myself to be found under the oddly-titled "N.F. and LOL"--the best and most illuminating exchange on the Comments threads in months, imho--and weigh in with your expertise.


N. Friedman - 2/14/2007

Peter,

Note: you no longer challenge the basic contention about Israel's position in the early 1990's.

Note: I can provide the Rabin quote. However, you can get it by googling. So, unless you are unable to find it, I do not wish to waste my time.

Note: the existential threat today is from the Islamist onslaught. It is different than during the cold war. But, it is very real. I have no idea if the threat is greater or less. It is, however, very great.


N. Friedman - 2/14/2007

Professor Furnish,

What happened to you?


N. Friedman - 2/13/2007

Peter,

So that there is no mistake here. Haaretz notes - without any controversy, as the matter is without doubt correct - that the Israeli government under Rabin had no intention of creating a Palestinian state but, instead, a Palestinian state confederated with Jordan. It ought to tell you something when the far more conciliatory Shimon Peres so states and when the actual document that emerged - i.e. the Oslo accord - is consistent with that view.

Evidently, though, Peter wants me to make a fool of him. Again, Peter: should I quote Rabin's remarks on the topic, where Rabin makes clear that there would be a Palestinian entity, not a state? Or, is the fact that the more dovish Peres so stated enough for you? Make up your mind. But, either way, the Israeli position was not, at the time, for a Palestinian state. And, as I said, Netanyahu offered more than Rabin did. And, Barak even more still. Those are fact, Peter, whether or not you want to believe them.

If you disagree, prove it with statements that say otherwise. You can't because, in fact, I have correctly stated Rabin's view and that of his government including the more dovish views of Mr. Peres.



N. Friedman - 2/13/2007

Peter,

This is a well known and uncontroversial fact. Find me evidence that I am wrong. Otherwise, I suggest you concede that Haaretz - a website that ought to have accurate information on this topic - is correct and you are wrong.


N. Friedman - 2/13/2007

Peter,

Lest you doubt me, here is what the supposedly authoritative Israeli newspaper Haaretz indicates regarding the differences between Oslo and the Road Map. And note: while Rabin is not quoted as to what Israel saw in Oslo, the position Peres on the matter is. Peres reads the matter the same way I do. And note that the article indicates, as I maintain, that Oslo was silent on the issue.

According to the article - which is quite accurate in this regard:

Most significantly, where Oslo neither mentioned an independent Palestine, nor gave a detailed timeline for implementation, the road map specifies a permanent agreement and sequence of measures focused on establishment of a Palestinian state by the year 2005.

Moreover, according to the article:

· Detailed and repeated discussion of Palestinian statehood. The text mandates a "two-state solution," with an "independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel."

At the time that Oslo was being drafted, Israeli leaders had not yet reconciled themselves to an independent Palestinians state. Then-foreign minister Shimon Peres "spoke to Arafat at the time over the model of a Palestinian confederation with Jordan," Eldar says.


In other words, you do not know what you are talking about, as usual.



N. Friedman - 2/13/2007

Peter,

Clearly, you did not read the above material carefully. It does not support your position.

And, more than that, you fail to realize that Rabin stated again and again that the idea was for a connection, in the end, between the PA areas and Jordan. Must I embarrass you with his actual statements?


N. Friedman - 2/12/2007

Mentally, we are around the time of Munich. Militarily, things are earlier in the 1930's - at least I hope.


A. M. Eckstein - 2/12/2007

No, it's not the 1940s--it's the 1930s.


John Charles Crocker - 2/12/2007

Note I said a henchman of the right on a few issues, not on all issues. Lieberman is the go to Democrat for Republicans who want political cover and has been for 4 or 5 years now. The cover he has continually provided the administration and Senate Republicans is what makes him a henchman of the Right.

Lieberman is no Roosevelt and this is not the 1940s.

At the point I made the comment on the Pipes blog I had not characterized you as anyone's henchman.

Above I indicated that the argument you had just made, that a believer in the Euston Manifesto could not be a henchman of the Right is bunk.


art eckstein - 2/11/2007

Lieberman, who has strong labor support and has saved many jobs in Connecticut and was the Vice Presidential choice of Al Gore in 2000 is hard to see as a "henchman of the right", John. If Lieberman were a REAL "henchman of the right" and, say, wanted to save Bushie-boy some big political problems with the Senate, he'd switch parties wouldn't he? That way the Republicans become the majority again. After all, having just been elected he's got six years to go before facing the voters again, and these are probably his last six anyway.

It seems more an more that the "henchman of the right" attack is now reserved by the Left for people who follow the internal and external policies of Franklin Roosevelt. Very nice.

And you deny that you did this concerning me on the Pipes blog, but then you indicate here that it might be true about me anyway. Pretty self-contradictory.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2007

Peter,

Mr. Rabin's idea was for the PA areas to become part and parcel of Jordan. That idea was taken a bit farther by both the more conservative Mr. Netanyahu and then substantially farther by Mr. Barak.

You fail to note what did not occur on the other side - perhaps because you are not all that familiar with the facts. But recall, when Clinton was putting his proposal (i.e. the one which created a Palestinian Arab state on 97% of the land they claimed to seek and gave a land bridge across Israel and gave $30 Billion Dollar in compensation for taking care of the refugees and their offspring - the proposal which, by the way, had enthusiastic support from Egypt and even Saudi Arabia -), Arafat and friends decided to start a lot of fighting.

The reason is explained rather clearly by historian Benny Morris. If you have a real disagreement with it, show some facts - with your sources (something, bozo, you never do but demand of everyone else). According to Morris:



Unfortunately, the Palestinian national movement, from its inception, has denied the Zionist movement any legitimacy and stuck fast to the vision of a "Greater Palestine", meaning a Muslim-Arab-populated and Arab-controlled state in all of Palestine, perhaps with some Jews being allowed to stay on as a religious minority. In 1988-93, in a brief flicker on the graph, Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organisation seemed to have acquiesced in the idea of a compromise. But since 2000 the dominant vision of a "Greater Palestine" has surged back to the fore (and one wonders whether the pacific asseverations of 1988-1993 were not merely diplomatic camouflage).

The Palestinian leadership, and with them most Palestinians, deny Israel's right to exist, deny that Zionism was/is a just enterprise. (I have yet to see even a peace-minded Palestinian leader, as Sari Nusseibeh seems to be, stand up and say: "Zionism is a legitimate national liberation movement, like our own. And the Jews have a just claim to Palestine, like we do.") Israel may exist, and be too powerful, at present, to destroy; one may recognise its reality. But this is not to endow it with legitimacy. Hence Arafat's repeated denial in recent months of any connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount, and, by extension, between the Jewish people and the land of Israel/Palestine. "What Temple?" he asks. The Jews are simply robbers who came from Europe and decided, for some unfathomable reason, to steal Palestine and displace the Palestinians. He refuses to recognise the history and reality of the 3,000-year-old Jewish connection to the land of Israel.

On some symbolic plane, the Temple Mount is a crucial issue. But more practically, the real issue, the real litmus test of Palestinian intentions, is the fate of the refugees, some 3.5-4m strong, encompassing those who fled or were driven out during the 1948 war and were never allowed back to their homes in Israel, as well as their descendants.

I spent the mid-1980s investigating what led to the creation of the refugee problem, publishing The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 in 1988. My conclusion, which angered many Israelis and undermined Zionist historiography, was that most of the refugees were a product of Zionist military action and, in smaller measure, of Israeli expulsion orders and Arab local leaders' urgings or orders to move out. Critics of Israel subsequently latched on to those findings that highlighted Israeli responsibility while ignoring the fact that the problem was a direct consequence of the war that the Palestinians - and, in their wake, the surrounding Arab states - had launched. And few noted that, in my concluding remarks, I had explained that the creation of the problem was "almost inevitable", given the Zionist aim of creating a Jewish state in a land largely populated by Arabs and given Arab resistance to the Zionist enterprise. The refugees were the inevitable by-product of an attempt to fit an ungainly square peg into an inhospitable round hole.

But whatever my findings, we are now 50 years on - and Israel exists. Like every people, the Jews deserve a state, and justice will not be served by throwing them into the sea. And if the refugees are allowed back, there will be godawful chaos and, in the end, no Israel. Israel is currently populated by 5m Jews and more than 1m Arabs (an increasingly vociferous, pro-Palestinian irredentist time bomb). If the refugees return, an unviable binational entity will emerge and, given the Arabs' far higher birth rates, Israel will quickly cease to be a Jewish state. Add to that the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and you have, almost instantly, an Arab state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river with a Jewish minority.

Jews lived as a minority in Muslim countries from the 7th century - and, contrary to Arab propaganda, never much enjoyed the experience. They were always second-class citizens and always discriminated-against infidels; they were often persecuted and not infrequently murdered. Giant pogroms occurred over the centuries. And as late as the 1940s Arab mobs murdered hundreds of Jews in Baghdad, and hundreds more in Libya, Egypt and Morocco. The Jews were expelled from or fled the Arab world during the 1950s and 60s. There is no reason to believe that Jews will want to live (again) as a minority in a (Palestinian) Arab state, especially given the tragic history of Jewish-Palestinian relations. They will either be expelled or emigrate to the west.

It is the Palestinian leadership's rejection of the Barak-Clinton peace proposals of July-December 2000, the launching of the intifada, and the demand ever since that Israel accept the "right of return" that has persuaded me that the Palestinians, at least in this generation, do not intend peace: they do not want, merely, an end to the occupation - that is what was offered back in July-December 2000, and they rejected the deal. They want all of Palestine and as few Jews in it as possible. The right of return is the wedge with which to prise open the Jewish state. Demography - the far higher Arab birth rate - will, over time, do the rest, if Iranian or Iraqi nuclear weapons don't do the trick first.

And don't get me wrong. I favour an Israeli withdrawal from the territories - the semi-occupation is corrupting and immoral, and alienates Israel's friends abroad - as part of a bilateral peace agreement; or, if an agreement is unobtainable, a unilateral withdrawal to strategically defensible borders. In fact in 1988 I served time in a military prison for refusing to serve in the West Bank town of Nablus. But I don't believe that the resultant status quo will survive for long. The Palestinians - either the PA itself or various armed factions, with the PA looking on - will continue to harry Israel, with Katyusha rockets and suicide bombers, across the new lines, be they agreed or self-imposed. Ultimately, they will force Israel to reconquer the West Bank and Gaza Strip, probably plunging the Middle East into a new, wide conflagration.

I don't believe that Arafat and his colleagues mean or want peace - only a staggered chipping away at the Jewish state - and I don't believe that a permanent two-state solution will emerge. I don't believe that Arafat is constitutionally capable of agreeing, really agreeing, to a solution in which the Palestinians get 22-25% of the land (a West Bank-Gaza state) and Israel the remaining 75-78%, or of signing away the "right of return". He is incapable of looking his refugee constituencies in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza in the eye and telling them: "I have signed away your birthright, your hope, your dream."
And he probably doesn't want to. Ultimately, I believe, the balance of military force or the demography of Palestine, meaning the discrepant national birth rates, will determine the country's future, and either Palestine will become a Jewish state, without a substantial Arab minority, or it will become an Arab state, with a gradually diminishing Jewish minority. Or it will become a nuclear wasteland, a home to neither people.


Peace? No chance, by Benny Morris, The Guardian, February 21, 2002.

Do you really think Morris is wrong, Peter? On what basis should I trust you? And why? To be frank, you appear to be another one of those know it all who do not know it, much less it all. But, I shall away a reasoned reply, not another one of your rants and opinionated stuff.

As for survival, Mr. Morris believes something quite different than you do. Should I believe him - who actually knows something - or should I believe a condescending fellow like you? tough choice. But, I point you to the last paragraph above quoted. Do you really think that what Morris says is wrong? If so, bozo, some facts and a real argument - not the nonsense you have made a name for yourself around here with!!!


John Charles Crocker - 2/11/2007

First, it is nice to see you argue the other side.

"I've just now been presented as a henchman of the Right, even though I was one of the first 200 signers of the Euston Street Manifesto."
If it is me you were speaking of, I don't think that I characterized you as a henchman of the right. I do note however that it is quite possible to be a believer in the Euston Manifesto and a henchman of the right on a few issues. Lieberman would be a prime example of this possibility.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2007

Agreed to wait.

Note: I do not take this as a liberal versus non-liberal position. I think this is, most importantly, a question of following the evidence that is. One can see this or that as important. But, both of us are dedicated to the ideas of freedom, liberty and equality.


art eckstein - 2/11/2007

I think we're mostly on the same page, N.F. I think the AUCairo WAS more important than you say: because it was going to train the indigenous elite, and the elite--the effendiyah--would inevitably have an influence upon the rural and urban culture. The project of modernization here was a good one. It just didn't work because of the intervention of circumstances such as Nasser's revolution in 1952.

Let's wait to see what Furnish has to say about all this. I suspect that he will side more with your position on Islam than mine.

It's amusing that on THIS thread I'm criticized (in gentlemanly fashion!) for having too liberal a view of Islam, while on the other thread on Islam (the Pipes piece) done this week I've just now been presented as a henchman of the Right, even though I was one of the first 200 signers of the Euston Street Manifesto.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2007

Clarke,

The biggest echo chamber around here is you. You never cite a fact, an original thought or anything of the sort. But, you have lots of criticism for things you have never studied.

In this case... While I agree with you in principle - as such applies to any country or group - that no country is worthy of unconditional defense no matter what it does, I do note that the Israelis, as Joe Biden once said, are in the unenviable position of not being in a position to make any mistakes. By that he did not mean that Israel makes no mistakes but, rather, the consequences, due to Israel's small size and the hostility of its region, of any mistakes Israel might make could be existentially fatal.

Of course, there are those outsiders - and they even claim to be "friends" of the Israelis - who think they know better than the Israelis what Israel needs to do in order to survive in their hostile environment. Such "friends" are mostly mendacious meddlers who deserve to be attacked as ignorant busybodies.

So, there is a difference between supporting anything Israel does and demanding or telling the Israelis what to do, most especially when the advice comes from people who have no consequences when their advice might be wrong. And note: the Israelis have thus far survived - largely against the odds. So, presumably, they largely know what they need to do in order to survive.



N. Friedman - 2/11/2007

Correction:

Strike the sentence: "Indeed, the Mahdi forces, as I understand it, defended slavery as Islamic, as did, if I recall correctly, Omar H.A. Al-Bashier."

Substitute:

Indeed, the Mahdi forces, as I understand it, defended slavery as Islamic, as has, if I recall correctly, Omar H.A. Al-Bashier.


Strike the sentence: "I suspect that actually defending slavery is a bit much even for academia but, even if some might do so, they know such would destroy any chance of being heard outside of the academy: bad politics, as it were."

Substitute:

I suspect that actually defending slavery is a bit much even for academia but, even if some might be tempted do so, they know such would destroy any chance of being heard outside of the academy: bad politics, as it were.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2007

Art,

You write: "But that was only the visible tip of the iceberg: There was also the American University in Cairo."

But these were veneer. Most of society was still traditional.

You write: "Such a person no doubt considered himself a pious Muslim--I'd bet that, anyway--but was simultaneously a modern man."

Yes, indeed. I agree. And the West is infused into what it means to be Muslim. But, that merging is being driven out.

You write: "Of course, the Mahdist rebellion occurred in part because the British-supported government was trying to end slavery--no doubt to be defended as a multicultural right by our academics today."

Indeed, the Mahdi forces, as I understand it, defended slavery as Islamic, as did, if I recall correctly, Omar H.A. Al-Bashier. And, the academics today, apart from a few brave souls (e.g. Eric Reeves and Walid Phares), say nothing about it at all - consistent with your theory. I suspect that actually defending slavery is a bit much even for academia but, even if some might do so, they know such would destroy any chance of being heard outside of the academy: bad politics, as it were.

You write: "But N.F., where we differ is that I do think it is possible for Muslims to be both pious and modern."

I am not sure I would deny this - and, with your example, I certainly cannot deny it. In any event, Isaac Newton was deeply religious. Einstein may have been as well. So, the existence of faith and science in one person certainly exists.

The issue, however, is what our thoroughly modern Muslim (or, were our topic different, a modern Christian or Jew or whatnot) will believe. Right now, that modern Muslim, if really devout, must surely be tempted by the view that the glory of Islam can be restored. And, that may have something to do with silence of modern devout Muslims in view of the radicals.

One last point, regarding your interpretation of my division between communal and personal Jihad. In Islamic law and theology, Jihad fi sabil Allah (i.e. traditional Jihad to spread Islamic rule) is clearly a communal endeavor. It is not a personal obligation, at least when the Jihad for purposes of conquest. By contrast, in a defensive circumstance, Jihad becomes everyone's personal duty. And, for the radicals, Jihad is everyone's duty because either they define their offensive activities as really being for defense - as in Islam is under attack - or because they hold the view that in the absence of the Caliph, a lessor authority may issue the call to Jihad.


Tim R. Furnish - 2/11/2007

Gentlemen,
Well, it's nice to have the gauntlet thrown down in a positive fashion, and flattering that someone actually elicits my opinion. I'll see what I can do post-church tomorrow!


art eckstein - 2/11/2007

1. I think we're on the same page. In the period when European armies apparently could conquer Muslim countries at will (as you say), when Europeans had science and engineering and Muslims--because of their medieval education--did not, when Europeans were increasingly prosperous economically while Muslims were mired in premodern economies--yes, it seemed to many Muslims that the only way for the Muslim lands to survive was to modernize and become more western in culture.

And this was not merely a question of survival only, but of getting a higher quality of life for many Muslims (as al-Afghani made clear)--i.e., a higher quality in a Western and material sense. Thus by 1910 Cairo had a modern city-center with wide streets, and streetcars. But that was only the visible tip of the iceberg: There was also the American University in Cairo.

Down that road lay Attaturk's Turkey, which downplayed Islam as a public institution. Even after WW II, and the decline of Europe, the process we are discussing continued, because many of the Muslim elite came to the U.S. for (secular!) college educations. Such people became Westernized because there were at yet no fanatical Islamocentric support groups for them in the U.S. to keep them in line ideologically-religiously, and they'd already had westernized primary educations. As Michael Kelly recounts in "Martyr Day", immediately before the First Gulf War (1991) he was in a restaurant in Baghdad and a guy came up to him and said: "You American? From D.C.? Go Maryland!" (He'd taken an engineering degree at U of Maryland at College Park, which is a fine school.) Such a person no doubt considered himself a pious Muslim--I'd bet that, anyway--but was simultaneously a modern man.

I suspect, like you, N.F., that it will take a catastrophe to bring those days of westernization back again. The synergistic relationship between simultaneous developments in the West and within Islam that has created the hideous really-existing Islam of the present (again, because religions are not fixed in stone but evolve according to circumstances) has to do with the rising effectiveness of Muslim military power, and especially Jihadist military power (including 9/11 and last summer's Lebanon War) combined on the WESTERN side with the intellectual corruption of our universities and intellectual elites by doubts about the moral validity of the West, and the rise among the elite of the ridiculous doctrine of multiculturalism.

(On this, see Pascal Bruckner's essay about the attacks on Ayan Hirsi Ali by Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash--one could add Tony Judt--to be found on Sightandsound.com, scroll down to the middle of the page.)

Perhaps if the glorious and painless American expulsion of the grotesque Taliban regime (idolized by Omar) from Afghanistan had been followed by the transformaton of that country into a gardenspot as the U.S. government focused on one war at a time and wisely refrained from attacking Iraq, or conversely, if the invasion of Iraq had worked to create immediately a modern and democratic state instead of a self-destructive jihadist hellhole--which is 90% the fault of the Jihadists, al-Q, the Baathists, etc--the cultural SHOCK in the Muslim world in response to these events would have meant the end of "crazy" Jihadism (as you've called it). Nothing is set in stone in terms of development. But that--the equivalent of the 19th century Muslim military defeats--didn't happen. So here we are.

Catastrophe on the Muslim world on the scale necesary to bring about real cultural change at this point could happen, and it could take at least two forms. One would be a hyper-violent Sunni-Shia Muslim civil war with millions or even tens of millions of dead. Things on that front are currently so bad that the "civil war" is already occurring here in the United States in the form of violent vandalism of businesses on the one hand (note the recourse to immediate violence against the designated unbeliever) and, on the other hand, the increasing exclusion of Shiites from the Wahabi-dominated U.S. Muslim student unions on college campuses.

Another possible calamity would be an atomic attack on israel by the fanatical Iranian mullahs which leads not merely to the destruction of Israel AND the Palestinians, but to the retaliatory atomic destruction of Tehran, the Gulf Oil Coast (destroying the main source of Muslim wealth) and perhaps even of Mecca and Medina.

I'm not advocating such events! ! (Understand that, Omar?) I'm simply speculating on the scale of catastrophe that would be necessary to end the cultural power of the "crazy Jihadists"--and perhaps the latter super-apolocalyptic scenario would be such a cultural shock that it would even mean the end of the general "communal" Jihadism which you wish to distinguish from the current "crazy jihadism." It would end for the reason you say: because such an event would mean--as it must have seemed to Muslims in the 19th century--that Allah could not protect his own, or even Himself.

(Think of Kitchener's quick-firing artillery blowing up the Mosque of the Mahdi in Khartoum in 1898 following the stupendous victory over Mahdist forces at Omdurman. Of course, the Mahdist rebellion occurred in part because the British-supported government was trying to end slavery--no doubt to be defended as a multicultural right by our academics today.)

But N.F., where we differ is that I do think it is possible for Muslims to be both pious and modern. When I was chair of an official university-wide faculty committee on gay rights, one of my colleagues was a Muslim with a quite traditional family and going to Friday prayers, but he was a modern man who supported our legislation (which passed in the university Senate, and he spoke publicly in favor of it). But that was 10 years ago--things change (my theme, N.F.!).

3. I, too, would like to see Professor Furnish's comments at this point, and on these points.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2007

Professor,

This is a lot of fun because it is fun to discuss things with someone who takes facts in a serious way. I wish that people like Clarke, et al, could come to the table, armed with actual facts and real argument - rather than pretend that they can merely define what is proper to think, but without thinking.

I might add that the good Professor Furnish - also a person who can think - might contribute here, most especially since his interesting book shows a subtle mind, not to mention a willingness to go where the facts go.

In any event, you write: 2. But while it is true that jihadism was always an authentic form of Islam, two or three generations ago the reformists were more important, indeed they were intellectually dominant. That was because Islam at that time was being forced to come to terms, or so it was thought, with the power of western civilization. It is in that period that you get people such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani writing: "It is not the British who have come to Kabul, it is Science. Science sometimes has its abode in one culture, sometimes in another. Now Science is in Europe. Muslims must ask themselves what has happened to cause this. One has no choice but to learn to prostrate oneself before Science " (the latter, of course, all too typical a Muslim formulation--but you see the point, which for al-Afghani is that Muslims must become educated in a MODERN fashion. 1882.)

Your post raises a number of points.

We must be very clear what we mean when we speak about Jihadism. If you refer to the doctrine held by the lunatics, that was akin to lunatic positions that have floated along the edges of Islam since the beginning (e.g. Kharajitism, also those who engaged in razzias into infidel territory, the Assassins, etc., etc.), the perfect storm has brought them forward and made them front and center. In that regard, I left out at least one other important cause, namely, Atatürk destroying the Caliphate, which is a defining event to the Islamists radicals.

If, however, you mean the communal religious doctrine expressed by, for example, Ignaz Goldhizer and Bernard Lewis - as I previously quoted - such is a central, mainstream tenet of Islam and, so far as I know, has never been on the wane among the devout. At most, it became a millennial dream akin to "next year in Jerusalem" prior to modern Zionism.

But among people in a position of power and associated opinion makers - and, we are speaking about the elite among the elite -, there were secular ideas as such people were often, if they were religious at all, religious more in name than in fact. Such people were, in a sense, more Western than they were Muslim. But, that generation of people - people educated in the schools of the colonial imperialists - is dying off and being replaced by people educated with ideas from their own regions.

My last paragraph may make you apoplectic given my argument's tenor. Bear with me. I shall try to tie it together.

The tie-in is found in your words, namely, "Islam at that time was being forced to come to terms ... with the power of western civilization." In other words, the change existed in a coerced atmosphere. But, once the coercion was removed, local ideas returned, just as has occurred in the former USSR.

This also goes back to my very early point that communal (i.e. warlike) Jihad, as an ideal, will die off - given its centrality to Islam - only in the face of an existential crisis - most likely, in my view, a catastrophe. Indeed, the success of the Europeans - following more or less Bernard Lewis's argument in The Muslim Discovery of Europe (which is, by far, my favorite Lewis book) - created the possibility of reform which has now been lost, most especially when European armies were able to conquer Muslim lands, basically at will (e.g. Napoleon and then Britain into Egypt) with Islamic armies shown to be completely impotent to respond.

In this regard, I want to bring home the centrality of Jihad to Islam. As MJ Akbar says, "Jihad is the signature tune of Islamic history." That is born out by every serious history of the Muslim regions that I have ever read. That comes through even in the writings of someone like Reza Aslan.

You write: 3. Our other differences, such as over Tariq Ramadan, are minor. But I wonder whether Ramadan's "modern Muslims" would accept your assertion that they are not pious. Perhaps the definition of "pious" is in fact not fixed in concrete--though some would like it to be--either in Islam nor in any other religion.

I am, in this case, projecting from my experience among Jews and Christians. In the case of Jewish people, history's traumas have certainly beaten the religion out of them. In effect, the covenant is deemed broken by many. But, that is also true of many of the Christians I have met - and that means most of the people with whom I know and live. I could, however, be wrong on this point.

I also want to note - only tangentially related to your point, but still addressing it - that Islam has always had its internal dissenters. In Ibn Warraq's fascinating book Why I am not a Muslim, he quotes some of the most poignant atheistic poetry, from the very early years of the religion at that, that I have ever read. I was touched by it. So, there have always been multiple currents in the Muslim regions. But, the dominant view has never denied Jihad - except, so far as I know, when Jihad led to disaster, as Jihad is central to the faith.


art eckstein - 2/10/2007

1. I agree completely with your paragraph on the perfect storm of causes, N.F.

2. But while it is true that jihadism was always an authentic form of Islam, two or three generations ago the reformists were more important, indeed they were intellectually dominant. That was because Islam at that time was being forced to come to terms, or so it was thought, with the power of western civilization. It is in that period that you get people such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani writing: "It is not the British who have come to Kabul, it is Science. Science sometimes has its abode in one culture, sometimes in another. Now Science is in Europe. Muslims must ask themselves what has happened to cause this. One has no choice but to learn to prostrate oneself before Science " (the latter, of course, all too typical a Muslim formulation--but you see the point, which for al-Afghani is that Muslims must become educated in a MODERN fashion. 1882.)

3. Our other differences, such as over Tariq Ramadan, are minor. But I wonder whether Ramadan's "modern Muslims" would accept your assertion that they are not pious. Perhaps the definition of "pious" is in fact not fixed in concrete--though some would like it to be--either in Islam nor in any other religion.

Again, I am not being naive about this. The Jihadists are the default mode of Islam now. But it took a "perfect storm" of specific causes--as you yourself say--to bring that about. In other words, according to your own formulation, N.F, jihadism as the default mode of Islam need not have happened--which was my point! Though of course as far as I can see you are totally correct that jihadism was always important in Islam anyway, so it was always a strong possibility. Again, I don't think we're very far apart here; it's just a matter of emphasis.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2007

CORRECTION:

Substitute the word "cannot" for "can" in the following sentence, as follows: I just think that we cannot do much at all and that, more likely than not, what we do will have entirely different results than we think they might.

Also, strike the sentence that now reads: "By contrast, what Mr. Ramadan writes provides human face - as Mr. for a very nasty agenda."

Substitute:

By contrast, what Mr. Ramadan writes provides human face for a very nasty agenda.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2007

Professor,

You write: "1. I wasn't saying there was a trend in awful Pakistan, but that this happens EVEN in awful Pakistan, and I think that Irfan Khawaja agrees with me on this."

I think this is correct. But consider: this was almost certainly true hundreds of years ago as well. Yet... Well, you know where I am going.

And, you write: "2. You write there are multiple trends within Islam--I think that's what I myself was saying. Which means it is not static. However, the main trend over the past 30 years has been jihadist. That is bad, and the intellectually primitive Omar is one example of it. But two generations earlier the jihadist was NOT the primary trend."

I think you are not quite right when you write that "two generations earlier the jihadist was NOT the primary trend." If you mean only the non-existence of kamikaze Jihad, you are correct. If you mean Jihadism, no, that is entirely incorrect. Jihadi is and has always been central to Islam but, in the Muslim formulation, the time was not right.

You write: "3. I admit that Westerners can do little to channel trends in another religion--but you and I agree that what we can do, we should do. We should not give up and just shrug our shoulders. And you agree about talking to the jihadists and their followers sternly is one thing we can do."

We agree that we should do what we can do. I just think that we can do much at all and that, more likely than not, what we do will have entirely different results than we think they might. Again, by way of example: devout Christians, in days of yore, telling Jews that what they believe is this or that - intended to convert Jews to Christianity - helped maintain the Jewish people.

So, what we should do, mostly, is defend ourselves and let Muslims sort out their own ideas. That does not mean we should stop saying: this or that is wrong, etc., etc. It only means realizing our limits. And, the fundamental limit here is that we are infidels in the Muslim scheme. Infidels have nothing to offer, in that scheme.

You write: But I repeat that Ramadan is no Omar, and a "reformist Salafist" need not be the same as a "Salafist," and a "reformist Salafist" would by definition NOT by a "literalist" as he says, so I'm not quite sure that the contradiction is as sharp as you make out...

Ramadan is not Omar. That is true. Ramadan is far more important and dangerous. Omar, by contrast, is like us: just a guy who posts on a website. By contrast, what Mr. Ramadan writes provides human face - as Mr. for a very nasty agenda.

You write: 5. But the statements in the articles you cite about "modern Muslims" in France, the "Muslim laity" in France, by which Ramadan means "liberal" or "modern" Muslims (cited in Rosenthal's piece") is in any case more pertinant to our conversation. They evidently exist, and according to your understanding of Islam, they cannot. And you cannot respond, "well, those sorts of folks really aren't REAL Muslims anymore," because as you said, who are we to define someone else's religion? Nevertheless, we are in agreement that the trend is against such people, that the trend is an authentic version of Islam and has often been dominant, and that its rise has to do primarily with developments within Islam (including the Saudis and the Iranian govt's lavish spending on prosyletizing).

You are certainly correct that there are Muslim liberals. I would not deny that and I do not see why my argument says otherwise. My position about these liberals is that they are inconsequential, thus far. Maybe that will change. Maybe not. But, they are not the devout, as it were.

They are, instead, more like some Reform Jews - even some rabbis, evidently - who might espouse atheism but like the warmth and music of the synagogue or, like Mary McCarthy - or, maybe I have the wrong writer, I'm not sure - who noted that she felt warm in cozy in Church, not that she believed. These liberal Muslims live in a different universe - mentally speaking - from the devout. And, so far as I know, they are few and far between.

We do agree that the trend is against these people. And, there are many good reasons - a perfect storm of reasons, as it were -, so far as I can discern, why. Some of them have to do with the end of active European imperialism - not that I favor imperialism but, rather, that I note that the withdraw of Europe from the Muslim regions allowed traditional ways of thinking to cease being repressed and, in effect, re-enter the public square, while, at the same time, leaving the impression of European civilization in decline. Some of theme have to do with the birth of a very, very large generation of people. Some of them having to do with the immigration of a large number of Muslims to Europe. Some of them having to do with changes in technology that allow a global movement to communicate effectively. Some of them having to do with oil money funding the most Seventh Century version of Islam as "authentic." Some of it having to do with changes, most especially in Western society, that make it impossible for, most especially, Europeans to recognize a violence in religion. And some of it having to do with effective propaganda that effectively divides the West. Some of it relates to the Arab Israeli dispute, which has, in some quarters (especially in Europe but, evidently, also in the academia), allowed Jihad to acquire a form of legitimacy for Westerners and seemingly non-religious secondary meaning - (which is not to say that the dispute is only or even primarily about religion, although it is certainly becoming that way -. Etc., etc.


art eckstein - 2/10/2007

Dear N.F.

1. I wasn't saying there was a trend in awful Pakistan, but that this happens EVEN in awful Pakistan, and I think that Irfan Khawaja agrees with me on this.

2. You write there are multiple trends within Islam--I think that's what I myself was saying. Which means it is not static. However, the main trend over the past 30 years has been jihadist. That is bad, and the intellectually primitive Omar is one example of it. But two generations earlier the jihadist was NOT the primary trend.

3. I admit that Westerners can do little to channel trends in another religion--but you and I agree that what we can do, we should do. We should not give up and just shrug our shoulders. And you agree about talking to the jihadists and their followers sternly is one thing we can do.

4. As for Ramadan, I don't like him or his ideas, and he is no "martyr" to U.S. govt "bigotry" in his being refused a visa. The article by Buruma in the NY Times last Sunday shows just how shallow Buruma has become--though even Buruma was disturbed by some of the things Ramadan said. But I repeat that Ramadan is no Omar, and a "reformist Salafist" need not be the same as a "Salafist," and a "reformist Salafist" would by definition NOT by a "literalist" as he says, so I'm not quite sure that the contradiction is as sharp as you make out--though it's certainly something Buruma should have questioned him about!

5. But the statements in the articles you cite about "modern Muslims" in France, the "Muslim laity" in France, by which Ramadan means "liberal" or "modern" Muslims (cited in Rosenthal's piece") is in any case more pertinant to our conversation. They evidently exist, and according to your understanding of Islam, they cannot. And you cannot respond, "well, those sorts of folks really aren't REAL Muslims anymore," because as you said, who are we to define someone else's religion?
Nevertheless, we are in agreement that the trend is against such people, that the trend is an authentic version of Islam and has often been dominant, and that its rise has to do primarily with developments within Islam (including the Saudis and the Iranian govt's lavish spending on prosyletizing).

best,

AE


N. Friedman - 2/10/2007

Professor,

You write: 1. The Muslim doctors were in Pakistan. Yes.

I gather you are saying that you see a trend here. On the other hand and while the often very astute Irfan Khawaja - who at one time posted quite a bit on HNN - severely criticizes Bernard-Henri Lévy's writings about Pakistan, I note Lévy's view that Pakistan is the biggest rogue of all the world's rogue states. As Irfan Khawaja puts it, in loving memory of the slain reporter, Daniel Pearl (Who Kill Daniel Pearl?, by Bernard-Henri Lévy, at 446):

Entering this sinister world of mad scientists and Islamists fanatics, taking steps into this dark night where secret services and nuclear secrets exchange and share their shadowy realms, working on this highly sensitive and explosive material–was Pearl violating the other major prohibition that weighs upon this part of the world?

I'm doing it, anyway.

Following Danny, in his wake and, in a way, in homage, I bring this modest contribution to the cause of truth that he loved more than anything else.

I assert that Pakistan is the biggest rogue of all the rogue states of today.

I assert that what is taking form there, between Islamabad and Karachi, is a black hole compared to which Saddam Hussein's Baghdad was an obsolete weapons dump.

The stench of apocalypse hangs over those cities; I am convinced that Danny smelled that stench.


My reason for quoting the self-important but occasionally brilliant BHL is to note that there are multiple trends, likely the more important one being the Jihadist one that returns the world to the 7th Century. That vision is self-nurturing, coming from and being a natural version of the great tradition of Islam, with all of its triumphs and glory.

Your trend, by contrast, is one of secularization, which may someday come to the fore in an important way. But it seems to me that we are talking the work of many centuries. And, whatever time it may take, the result may not be the world view of the West but something entirely different - which may or may not be hostile to us or to Western values, whatever they may, by that time, be.

You write: That is good for our own self-defense of civilization against the medieval men from the dark ages, but maybe (maybe) it would also be of aid to the Muslim "moderates"

I previously quoted this following bit from an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Note what the Jihadists say to which, when speaking to average Muslims raised as Muslims, there is no real answer - and her answer amounts to saying that everything Muslims believe is wrong (i.e. must be contextualized and historicized) so her answer is no answer either - because the Jihadists are speaking the language of traditional Islam and what they say is correct:

Q. Have you seen any ideology coming from within Islam that gives young Muslims a sense of purpose without the overlay of militancy?

A. They have no alternative message. There is no active missionary work among the youth telling them, do not become jihadis. They do not use media means as much as the jihadis. They simply — they’re reactive and they don’t seem to be able to compete with the jihadis. And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. The come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith. And what the moderates fail to do is to say, listen, that’s all in there, but that wasn’t meant for this context. And we have moved on. We can change the Koran, we can change the Hadith. That’s what’s missing.


Enter the Dutch ‘Infidel,’ Faithful to Herself, The New York Times, February 4, 2007.

I really do not think we have a good answer that could help the moderates. Ms. Ali preaches modernity. How does that address the devout? It says, your faith - the content she would contextualize and historicize - is lies. Her argument only works for people looking for another way, not for true believers.

The moderates' argument could be one of quietism. But, that argument says, for Muslims, that the time to advance ourselves is not now. To which, the radicals would then remind the listener that the US ran from Lebanon, from Somalia and likely, very soon, from the ill-conceived Iraq adventure, so that, if not now, there never will be a better time because the West is weak - or, as the formula goes, "they cling too dearly to life; we love death." In other words, the moderates have, thus far, a losing hand.

With my above idea in mind, I would think that the one thing Westerners could do is bring home to the radicals that now is not the time. I am not sure, however, how that might be done. Your notion that we should stand for what we believe and call a spade a spade may help quite a bit, as such would potentially communicate the notion that we would stand up for ourselves.

You write: "b. What is NOT of aid to Muslim moderates is treating primitive barbarian jihadists as if they were intellectuals or statesmen. That completely undercuts them."

I agree entirely.

As for your comment (c). Thank you for the kind words.

You write: 3. I think Tariq Ramadan is a complex figure, and should not be dismissed with a reference to taqqiya. If he wanted to play that game he'd be a lot more "liberal" and a lot less ambiguous than he is about, say, women's rights. I do not think that Ramadan is the same as Omar, which is what you seem to posit he is hiding underneath his seemingly nuanced positions. (Not that I personally like any of his positions...But it's still not Omar.)

I note the following with respect to Mr. Ramadan:

Caroline Fourest suggests that Mr. Ramadan has raised this "double discours" to an art-form, such that he is even able through the strategic ambiguity of his vocabulary to address both audiences at the same time - and still have them understand different messages. Thus she cites a handbook on "Comprehension, Terminology and Discourse", edited and largely written by Tariq Ramadan and published by the Tawhid Press under the auspices of the Union of Young Muslims (UJM) . One section, for instance, is devoted to the "semantic redefinition" of the words "law, rationality, democracy and community". "For each word," Mme. Fourest writes, "the book explains how the word could be understood by westerners, to what it extent it poses a problem for Muslims, and proposes a 'conceptual formulation' that strongly resembles a redefinition designed to confuse one's interlocutors.... The word 'rationality', for instance, is no longer synonymous with the critical spirit of the Enlightenment, but rather with an "intellectual pathway permitting the discovery of faith".... In fact, for each keyword..., Ramadan has developed a second definition - accessible to those who have followed his lectures or read his most confidential books. This permits him to have an apparently inoffensive discourse while remaining faithful to an eminently Islamist message and without having to lie overtly - at least not in his eyes."

Mme. Fourest has also, however, documented cases in which Mr. Ramadan has indeed "lied overtly" - or at least blatantly contradicted himself regarding his own supposed convictions within a remarkably short period of time. Thus, she cites the interview that Mr. Ramadan gave in November 2003 to "Beur FM", France's communitarian radio station "for Muslims", and in which he openly identified himself with the rigorist "Salafist" current in Islam, claiming to be for a "salafist reformism". Only four months later at an UNESCO colloquium, when challenged by a prominent advocate of liberal Islam - of which Mme. Fourest is careful to point out there are many in France, but Mr. Ramadan is not one of them - Ramadan would protest: "I am not a Salafist! 'Salafi' means literalist and I am not a literalist."

Caroline Fourest's detailed citations from Mr. Ramadan show him indeed to be an adherent of rigorist principles: not only, as seen in my earlier post, refusing to condemn the stoning of women, but also in his lectures militating against co-ed swimming pools and even discouraging Muslim girls from participating in any sport in which they would run the risk of "revealing their bodies to men". This is "not permitted", Mr. Ramadan says in a recorded lecture on "The Muslim Woman".


Caroline Fourest on Tariq Ramadan: the Evidence, by John Rosenthal.

And:

Caroline Fourest: The specialty of Tariq Ramadan, is first euphemism and secondly double talk, and if necessary lying. The greatest swindle consists of presenting oneself as an intellectual, lay Muslim when in fact one is a fundamentalist preacher at war with modern Moslems and the laity “the Moslems without Islam” as he likes to call them. He detests the Moslem laity as much as the Christian fundamentalists detest the Catholic left! He also lies when he claims to have no links with the Islamic Brotherhood and the Moslem Brothers. Not only is he one of their ambassadors but he disseminates the thought and method of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Brotherhood and his grandfather, a man that he holds up a model to follow. He teaches the Islamic politics and fundamentalism of the Moslem Brothers to the board of directors of the Islamic Centre of Geneva, the European headquarters of the Moslem Brothers. This Association was created in 1961 by Saïd Ramadan, his father, to “fight against atheist materialism” which is to say against communism, thanks to the money of the Saudis and with the blessings of the Americans. Saïd Ramadan, was one of the kingpins of the World Islamic League which permitted the Saudis to export wahhabism throughout the world with the goal of combating the non-aligned movement. This Saudi sponsorship, and the fact that the Americans long counted on the Moslem Brothers to combat communism, protected the Islamic Centre of Geneva for a long time. But since September 11, inquiries have been appearing in the press. A former associate talks of a meeting dating back to 1991 in which the Ramadan brothers, Hani and Tariq, had met Ayman Al Zawahiri, the brains behind Al Quaeda, an Egyptian who also comes out of the Brothers. The Centre maintains the most cordial relations with former members of GIA and FIDA, charged with murdering intellectuals in Algeria and who most publically participated at the Centre last October 2.

Having finished deciphering the speeches of Tariq Ramadan, how do you define his plans, his objectives?

Caroline Fourest: The leaders of the Muslim Brothers, beginning with Saïd Ramadan, understood that Europe was the place where Islamists could be recruited, alliances woven, and finally strengthened to take their revenge with respect to their defeat in Egypt and Algeria. Tariq Ramadan is one of the most precious agents serving this plan. He has declared the West to be his land of “shahada” which means to proselytize. His grandfather denounced all Western influence as “cultural colonialism”. He would like to “colonise” the West by expanding the Islamic politics of the Moslem Brothers.


A fundamentalist preacher at war with modern Muslims and the lay order (Interview), By Mina Kaci et Rosa Moussaoui (Translated by: Doug Miller) L’Humanité, sometime, I think, in 2005 but the link no longer works.

And:

True to the Muslim Brotherhood's new orientation, Tariq Ramadan has pronounced the West to be "dar el shaada," which is to say the land where he is to undertake his religious mission. He takes advantage of his aura to tell young women that a good Muslim should be prudish, hence veiled, to describe homosexuality as a "mental imbalance," to justify polygamy, and to discourage mixed marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims. Furthermore, for all matters relating to theology, he advises his listeners to turn to his mentor: Yusuf Qaradhawi. Just like Mr. Qaradhawi, Tariq Ramadan says that he is waiting for the proof that al Qaeda is indeed responsible for September 11.

The War for Eurabia, By Caroline Fourest, Wall Street Journal, February 2, 2005. I do not subscribe but the article, at one time, was available online at the noted address.

And:

(Manji): Tariq Ramadan has indeed mastered the art of double-speak, as I have come to see from reading his books and an endless stream of interviews. He cannot bring himself to denounce suicide bombings. He couldn′t even condemn the stoning of women, asking instead for a moratorium on that question. And yet, I haven′t read any evidence that he is connected to terrorists, and those who support the decision to withhold Ramadan′s visa have based their arguments on his positions - not on his connections. But Ramadan is free to have these positions, as much as I or anybody else disagrees with them. What he needs is vigorous counter-argument, and in the United States, there are plenty of Muslim academics who could have provided that - in person.

From Radical Islamism in Europe, Aspen Institute Berlin's Interview with Irshad Manji, Steven Emerson and Gilles Kepel, sometime in 2005.

Enough said on that topic. I intend to read Mme. Fourest's book if I ever have the time.


A. M. Eckstein - 2/9/2007

Dear N. F.:

1. The Muslim doctors were in Pakistan. Yes.

2. You write: "I tend to think that improving mankind is not in the cards. Rather, we should keep true to our own societies and stand by our values - saying what we believe and calling a spade a spade, as it were. In other words, your project is too ambitious, in my humble view. I might note that your colleagues are also improvers of mankind, hypocritically siding with the forces of barbarism to reform our society's faults or, if not that, playing the role of Jeremiah - again, improvers of mankind."

a. Of course I'd like to try to influence people as much as one can so that they go in a healthy rather than a destructive and barbaric direction. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm also a realist, and my proposals for the way to talk to jihadists are not likely to change things MUCH, and in the end are more in the line of your "saying what we believe and calling a spade a spade." That is good for our own self-defense of civilization against the medieval men from the dark ages, but maybe (maybe) it would also be of aid to the Muslim "moderates"
b. What is NOT of aid to Muslim moderates is treating primitive barbarian jihadists as if they were intellectuals or statesmen. That completely undercuts them.
c. You are perfectly correct, N.F., that (b) is what my colleagues tend to do, and for the reasons you give.

3. I think Tariq Ramadan is a complex figure, and should not be dismissed with a reference to taqqiya. If he wanted to play that game he'd be a lot more "liberal" and a lot less ambiguous than he is about, say, women's rights. I do not think that Ramadan is the same as Omar, which is what you seem to posit he is hiding underneath his seemingly nuanced positions. (Not that I personally like any of his positions...But it's still not Omar.)

4. Be all that as it may, yes, yes, we agree about most things, and I'm happy to say it!

All best,

Art


N. Friedman - 2/9/2007

You write: 1. Judaism also changed in a third period--during the 19th century as a result of interaction with post-Enlightenment Europe and America. ("Conservative" and "Reform" Judaism both emerged out of that engagement.) This parallel holds some hope for Islam developing in a way where it can live in the modern world--but not, I admit, much hope.

I think we are saying the same thing. I think the change began a bit earlier - with the initial beginnings of emancipation - but we are saying the same thing.


You write: 2. When Muslim doctors refuse to perform Koranic punishments (on grounds of "modernist" understanding of humane punishments) this changes the situation on the ground. "Really-existing Islam" as it exists within the circle around those doctors would now be different. If many people did that sort of thing, many many people, then the trend in Islam as a whole would change. As it is, of course, the trend has changed in the last 30 years because of myriad individual decisions on the ground--but changed in a jihadist direction. On the other hand, the utter miitary defeat of the jihdists WOULD force a reconsideration within the umma. Again, Islam is not static. But that scenario calls for the utter military defeat of the jihadists, which I think Western culture, and esp. bien-pensant "multi-cultural" Western intellectuals, would have a hard time stomaching.

Two point. One. How many people are we speaking about? Where do they live? What is their influence? Over what period of time? Which is to say: are we finding things we want to see or are we viewing a trend?

Two. The forces that, I think, are most important in understanding the Muslim regions all are push a different direction than the humanitarian doctors - people who signed the Hippocratic oath. Unless such people live a duplicitous life, akin to the Assassins employing taqiyya, they are modern people who have some historic connection with their faith, not true believers. Maybe such people will be the source of a secularly reconciled Islam. But, I think we are dealing with very marginal events that have parallel, without affecting much, over the ages.

You write: 3. Yes, it's hudna--truce--not peace treaty. Depressing. Nevertheless, the Koran is not a simple text, and where there are contradictory impulses we should take measures to encourage the less destructive impulse. How?
a. As I said, one easy step is by treating the jihadists with the contempt they deserve from any civilized person.
b. Another easy step is recognizing the problem of aggressiveness within Islam and not thinking that Islam is "the religion of peace."
c. Yet to get people in my university world even to say these politically incorrect things is very difficult. Depressing, again.


I find the notion of encouraging other people's religious practices strangely troubling. I also do not think we have it in our power to tell other people what they should believe, even if it were not a troubling idea. My gut reaction is that our efforts would always be seen, by most Muslims as a mendacious and unwelcome form of meddling, such that to the extent we have an influence, it is not likely to be the one you or I might desire. Think of how Jews considered Christians telling our forefathers about their allegedly barbaric practices and beliefs. Such, I would think, tended to preserve classical rabbinic Judaism. And, to note, the criticism that came was not mostly well intentioned but even had it been, I doubt it would have been seen as such. So, I am very skeptical of your idea.

I tend to think that improving mankind is not in the cards. Rather, we should keep true to our own societies and stand by our values - saying what we believe and calling a spade a spade, as it were. In other words, your project is too ambitious, in my humble view. I might note that your colleagues are also improvers of mankind, hypocritically siding with the forces of barbarism to reform our society's faults or, if not that, playing the role of Jeremiah - again, improvers of mankind.

Note: I am not a conservative but a liberal. Nonetheless, I took to heart long ago Nietzsche's notions about those he calls the improvers of mankind.

You write: 4. N.F., I wouldn't use crazed Omar as proof that your interpretation of Islam is universally valid. It's certainly valid for jihadist barbarians such as Omar. Is it valid for, say, Tariq Ramadan? (see Ian Buruma's profile in the NY Times Magazine last Sunday.)

Were I you, I would check out what Ramadan's critiques say. The word taqiyya comes to mind.

You write: 5. But N.F., let us not lose sight of the fact that we are in agreement on many, many things!

That is so very true.


A. M. Eckstein - 2/9/2007

What you say is SO true, Peter!'

A


A. M. Eckstein - 2/9/2007

Dear N.F.,

1. Judaism also changed in a third period--during the 19th century as a result of interaction with post-Enlightenment Europe and America. ("Conservative" and "Reform" Judaism both emerged out of that engagement.) This parallel holds some hope for Islam developing in a way where it can live in the modern world--but not, I admit, much hope.

2. When Muslim doctors refuse to perform Koranic punishments (on grounds of "modernist" understanding of humane punishments) this changes the situation on the ground. "Really-existing Islam" as it exists within the circle around those doctors would now be different. If many people did that sort of thing, many many people, then the trend in Islam as a whole would change. As it is, of course, the trend has changed in the last 30 years because of myriad individual decisions on the ground--but changed in a jihadist direction. On the other hand, the utter miitary defeat of the jihdists WOULD force a reconsideration within the umma. Again, Islam is not static. But that scenario calls for the utter military defeat of the jihadists, which I think Western culture, and esp. bien-pensant "multi-cultural" Western intellectuals, would have a hard time stomaching.

3. Yes, it's hudna--truce--not peace treaty. Depressing. Nevertheless, the Koran is not a simple text, and where there are contradictory impulses we should take measures to encourage the less destructive impulse. How?
a. As I said, one easy step is by treating the jihadists with the contempt they deserve from any civilized person.
b. Another easy step is recognizing the problem of aggressiveness within Islam and not thinking that Islam is "the religion of peace."
c. Yet to get people in my university world even to say these politically incorrect things is very difficult. Depressing, again.

4. N.F., I wouldn't use crazed Omar as proof that your interpretation of Islam is universally valid. It's certainly valid for jihadist barbarians such as Omar. Is it valid for, say, Tariq Ramadan? (see Ian Buruma's profile in the NY Times Magazine last Sunday.)

5. But N.F., let us not lose sight of the fact that we are in agreement on many, many things!

best,

Art


Peter Kovachev - 2/9/2007

True, but where shooting fish in a barrel may lack sportsmanship, it sure is a whole lot fun and it's gotta be better than watching tv!


N. Friedman - 2/9/2007

Hi Professor,

I was not attacking Islam. I do not think that one needs to write an apologia for the religion, at least not for anything I wrote. Again, my point is that the basic character of the faith will not change in short order or because, to you and me, the Jihad thing seems rather barbaric and Medieval.

That said, I turn to what you have written. You write: "But I do think that Islam as a religion is not static but is both hugely complex AND existing in a historicized context. Hence trends within it are capable of development in any number of directions, some of which are good."

There are two issues raised by your point.

The first and, I think, more important reason is: what imaginable reason, from the point of view of a devout Muslim, is there to make the sort of changes you might propose? Note: there were actual discernable reasons behind the changes that affected both Christianity and Judaism. Judaism is the more readily familiar to me and, likely, to you. Note: there were at least two periods of substantial change for Judaism. The first obvious change came with the scattering of the Jewish people from Zion. That change is most readily discernable in the Passover ritual with its language "Next year in Jerusalem." But, the change was deeper than that. An entire rethinking of the religion was involved, with the creation of its own literature. And, it certainly did not occur overnight. It occurred because the other path could not be continued. The other substantial change of note concerned the various important divisions such as the reform and conservative movements. Again: these changes arose because the classical rabbinic path was seen, by large numbers of Jews, as a dead end. One could not, as Jews wanted, assimilate into European society, when the opportunity arrived, while maintaining the tradition in tact. And even that was not enough because such people were still believers. That meant that one could simply not discard portions of the faith that were not convenient but, instead, one needed to rethink the matter through radically. For example, the reform movement decided that the entire law based manner of religious thinking would be rejected, seeing the laws instead as moral guides. Etc., etc.

My point is that this is not simply a case where Muslims wake up one day and say, let's ignore this nasty passage. Jihad is a central tenet of the faith that is simply not going to go away. Whatever might happen - and this is my second point - will take a long time, likely long beyond the deaths of our grandchildren. The simple reason is that there is no imaginable reason why Muslims would want to reject a central tenet of the faith that, over the centuries, has been remarkably successful, notwithstanding its seeming radical break with what is moral. Considering that moral point in a religious context - as a fundamental article of faith - we have, in effect, God telling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac after God's promise to Abraham that through Isaac a great people would spring, with all that entails including the abhorrence of being asked to kill one's own son. Jihad is no less important to Islam and no more readily written out.

What would drive the doctrine out of the faith is the utter defeat of Islam due to that doctrine. Which is to say, those Muslims who remain true believers would have to see that there is no path forward for them as a people if they believe in Jihad. That, so far, is not happening. And, in Europe, large groups, rather than adjusting to modernity, are attempting to force modernity to adjust to Islamic tenets. And, thus far, they are getting their way.

You write: Even Ibn Warraq (no friend of Islam, as you know) acknowledges that many passages in the Koran are simply ignored by many Muslims, including the most offensive and aggressive passages: he cites the example of doctors in Pakistan who refused to amputate the limbs of thieves. But this act by the doctors in itself changes "really-existing Islam."

The issue is not one of this or that believer. The issue is what a faith based community - to use that trite phrase - does.

You write: Even more pertinent, some Muslims, including prominent ones, interpret Sura 9.5 to mean that Muslims have the right to abrogate at will any peace treaty made with non-Muslims, whereas others say that 9.5 deals with a very specific case, and point to verse 48.26 which says one must keep the terms of treaties with those who have kept their terms with you. The Koran is a complex and often self-contradictory text, and some verses will be more influential than others of a contrary trend, depending on the historical context and the influence of certain thinkers.

I think you misread this point. The doctrines in dispute here came into dispute, as with all doctrines in any religion that come into dispute, when Muslims faced an existential problem. The problem with the old view is that breaking interstate relations led to the mass slaughter of Muslims by Christians. It did not arise due to different notions about Jihad or, for that matter, about the meaning of the texts or, for that matter, out of a desire to get along with infidels. Rather, it arose in the context that the Sultan-Caliph - as it is a doctrine which is directed at the political leadership - needed justification for his political agenda when his empire was under serious threat. And note: the doctrine - which is the basis for a Dar al-Suhl (House of Covenant) - did not ever have complete acceptance although it has been raised by some Islamic scholars with reference to places such as the United Kingdom and the various parts of Europe where large numbers of Muslims live.

I might note that your understanding has the further problem that the actual conflicting Muslim doctrines are not about breaking peace treaties. The traditional view is that peace treaties are not possible; only truces and, with the truces, for not longer than 10 years (albeit renewable) and breakable with fighting to resume after notifying the other party of the decision to break the truce. So, we actually have two versions of what a truce (and understanding that we are talking about a truce is critical to understanding the matter) might be: one being the classical hudna and the other creating an intermediary category within the truce framework, namely, the House of Covenant. So the system kept the change within the classical understanding and did not make a leap into a whole new way of thinking about International relations. Such was not possible for those raised devoutly.

I might lastly note that the House of Covenant notion is, since it arises within the classical theory, not so easy a fit, which is why it has not had the sort of primary acceptance that the more classical view has. What I am saying, in other words, is that the devout Muslim is more likely to recognize the doctrine as makeshift, tentative - not the sort of alternative thinking you seem to think it is, with - and, even then, with covenants that are still not comtemplated to be permanent .


You write: Of course, we should not be worried about those Muslims who go with 48:26 but about those who DO believe in the above interpretation of Sura 9:5. And if they are the vast majority of Muslims now, we should be very worried indeed, because it means effective diplomacy between such Muslims and non-Muslims is impossible because such Muslims are totally untrustworthy.

This doctrine should not much concern us at all when dealing with ordinary Muslims. We have no personal hudnas with any Muslims. The doctrine should, however, concern countries that border Muslim states, such as Israel, where, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood, were it to come to power, would likely reject any treaty with Israel and would more likely only offer, if ever, a hudna - however conceived by that group.

I note that before the subway and bus bombings in London, the lunatics sent notice to people in the UK that their house of covenant relationship had come to an end. So, in that sense, the doctrine should concern all of us. That suggests that even the lunatics see the matter in a framework including some of the traditional "innovations" which they, allegedly, reject. But note: the House of Covenant notion was not conceived as permanent and has an easy out, which the lunatics cited to, namely, that the British were not keeping their end of what was, in fact, an imaginary bargain.


You write: But even if this latter bad situatiion were the case, that does not mean that such a situation is "the real and only Islam," past, present, future, forever. Historical change over time is the primary perception and focus of historians. (Of course, the changes need NOT be in what we would call a positive direction! That's what I've said is the difference between trends in 19th c Islam, as far as I understand them, and trends today.)

I, again, do not see your point. I am not compelling Muslims to see their religion this or that way. I am not even imploring them to see it differently. I am making a comment akin to one that might be made about ancient Roman martial virtues. Mine is an observation, not a statement of proscription. I suggest you make believe you were looking at the Roman Empire. You simply would not write that Roman virtues were for non-martial, whether or not the details change from time to time, as they also do in Islam. This is really a critical point, Art, because I think you are projecting your moral choices onto Muslims instead of just seeing what they say.

You write: The jihadists have a strong, indeed, unanswerable case for being AN authentic and indeed A major Muslim tradition. And as you say, N.F., you and I are in strong agreement on the nature of the current crisis, and on much else, including how to help Muslim "moderates" by treating the jihadists as the barbarians they are, and treating ignorant fools and liars such as Omar as one should treat such people; and we're in agreement on much else too. I am not optimistic nor naive about Islam. But I do not see a picture of total bleakness either. The current situation is a historical situation caused by specific historical forces, and we are in agreement again that mostly those destructive forces come from within Islam itself. Where we differ is in our understanding of whether those terribly destructive and aggressive forces MUST go unanswered in Islam on THEOLOGICAL grounds.

I think we agree here as well. I think the most important point to note is that whatever change will come among Muslims, it is not going to happen in our lifetime. Jihad works. It has a long and successful track record. It give, as David Cook brilliantly argues, substantial ascetic life meaning - as a warrior doctrine - to Muslims. And, it is deeply irrational in the same way that the sacrifice story regarding Abraham and Isaac is deeply irrational, that goes to the very heart of what it means to be a Muslim. That tells me that this doctrine will not go away easily or, perhaps, at all.

As for our Omar, note that he rarely disagrees with me when I speak about his religion. I can, in fact, only recall one time, namely, when I took the view that the final days call for the destruction of Christianity. He was technically correct - which ought to tell you that he actually knows a lot more than he sometimes lets on - since the actual doctrine calls for the breaking of the Cross. My mistake, in fact, resulted in his writing a rather bitter reply to me, so I know that when I say something really wrong, he jumps on me, but otherwise he does not, so far as I know, view me as maligning his faith - something I do not do or at least not intentionally. In any event, my point is that I treat Islam, as it is, with considerable respect by attempting to see its meaning for Muslims.

I really do not see a successful doctrine such as Jihad changing anytime soon, if at all. If and when Jihad comes to be seen as an existential danger to Islam, then we shall have real change. On the other hand, the notion of personal Jihad - while it has its own history and is not, as I have argued repeatedly entirely novel - is more likely to run its course as it clearly leads to horrors that will come home to. But, given the absence of a Caliph to say no, it will likely take a good long time, maybe more than a century.


art eckstein - 2/9/2007

Yes, I guess you're right Peter. We don't need any MORE anecdotal proof that, in poor Omar "we have a living summary of all the Islamist pathologies. The denials, the phantasmagoria, the invented past, the inversion of reality, the unquenchable anger at the uncooperative dhimmi."

Point taken.

Of course, as has been pointed out (not least by my wife), I myself never seem to get tired of shooting fish in a barrel.


Peter Kovachev - 2/9/2007

Goodness, Mr. Eckstein, you should know by now that talking to my turnip molding in the fridge might make more difference. In any case, Omar's jumbled outlook on things doesn't need more anecdotal information, but more like a full overhaul of his key paradigms and an introduction to basic logic. That would be a Herculean...if not a Sisyphusian task!


art eckstein - 2/9/2007

Peter, you write, in terms of occasional relatively good treatment of dhimmis by Muslim rulers:

"But drawing far-reaching general conclusions from exceptions is, as we know and as Omar may not know, a silly fallacy."

Exactly so. He doesn't understand basic logic.

I think you should put in a post directly addressed to him about the terrible testimony of your great-grandmother about living under the Ottomans and see what his answer is?

(That is, what form his denial of reality takes?)

(And Omar did cite an israeli journalist who is famous as a pornographer for evidence that "even the Jews" admit how wonderful life under Muslim rule was for them. Happened in discussion over summer.)

AE


art eckstein - 2/9/2007

N.F., I find myself in the odd position of having to defend Islam. Given my frequent clashes with that ignorant, paranoid, dishonest and self-deceptive fool Omar, this is not pleasant for me to do. But I do think that Islam as a religion is not static but is both hugely complex AND existing in a historicized context. Hence trends within it are capable of development in any number of directions, some of which are good.

Even Ibn Warraq (no friend of Islam, as you know) acknowledges that many passages in the Koran are simply ignored by many Muslims, including the most offensive and aggressive passages: he cites the example of doctors in Pakistan who refused to amputate the limbs of thieves. But this act by the doctors in itself changes "really-existing Islam."

Even more pertinent, some Muslims, including prominent ones, interpret Sura 9.5 to mean that Muslims have the right to abrogate at will any peace treaty made with non-Muslims, whereas others say that 9.5 deals with a very specific case, and point to verse 48.26 which says one must keep the terms of treaties with those who have kept their terms with you. The Koran is a complex and often self-contradictory text, and some verses will be more influential than others of a contrary trend, depending on the historical context and the influence of certain thinkers.

Of course, we should not be worried about those Muslims who go with 48:26 but about those who DO believe in the above interpretation of Sura 9:5. And if they are the vast majority of Muslims now, we should be very worried indeed, because it means effective diplomacy between such Muslims and non-Muslims is impossible because such Muslims are totally untrustworthy.

But even if this latter bad situatiion were the case, that does not mean that such a situation is "the real and only Islam," past, present, future, forever. Historical change over time is the primary perception and focus of historians. (Of course, the changes need NOT be in what we would call a positive direction! That's what I've said is the difference between trends in 19th c Islam, as far as I understand them, and trends today.)

The jihadists have a strong, indeed, unanswerable case for being AN authentic and indeed A major Muslim tradition. And as you say, N.F., you and I are in strong agreement on the nature of the current crisis, and on much else, including how to help Muslim "moderates" by treating the jihadists as the barbarians they are, and treating ignorant fools and liars such as Omar as one should treat such people; and we're in agreement on much else too. I am not optimistic nor naive about Islam. But I do not see a picture of total bleakness either. The current situation is a historical situation caused by specific historical forces, and we are in agreement again that mostly those destructive forces come from within Islam itself. Where we differ is in our understanding of whether those terribly destructive and aggressive forces MUST go unanswered in Islam on THEOLOGICAL grounds.


Peter Kovachev - 2/9/2007

Mr. Eckstein,

Who Omar moonlights for is his own affair, but quoting his boss on Ottoman history is a little biased.

Seriously, as with everything Omar says, there is a kernel of truth in that, and again as wioth everything a kernel doesn't a grannary make.

Indeed there were periods and locales where one could say that the peasants and merchants did better as subjects of the Ottomans than under their Christian neighbours to the north as lansless serfs or as subjects of the ruling Church. Even the most despotic systems need to relax social and economic conditions for brief periods in order to establish themselves and to grow. In its moments of expansion and consolidation, typically times of vulnerability, the Ottoman Empire concentrated on establishing better government and more freedoms to avoid trouble and to keep their system in the red.

But drawing far-reaching general conclusions from exceptions is, as we know and as Omar may not know, a silly fallacy. With that methodology we can conclude that Jewish history in Europe was a paradise because at one time a few French barons built castles for Jews in order to attract some of them to their lands, or because Polish kings or German knights drew favourable charters for Jewish merchants and administrators immigrants in their newly conquered rich lands. Or, we could conclude that National Socialism and fascism were good for everyone because they created employment and made the trains run on time.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2007

Professor,

We agree more than we disagree. And, we surely agree on two point, namely, that appeasing demands of alleged grievances by people with an unlimited agenda is nuts and calling barbarism by its name is the right thing to do.

On the other hand, where we disagree is the way you understand religion. I think religion is a force in its own right. So Islam, like the faith you and I were born into was before the 18th Century, is not, as I see it, flexible quite in a manner that would readily give life to a Koranic verse such as there is no compulsion in religion. Rather, such verse, for example, must be read in the context supplied by the Islamic tradition, something as deeply important to a Muslim as the Jewish tradition is to a devout Orthodox Jew.

And the Muslim tradition developed in the wake of the conquests of the early Muslims, with the view coming quickly to be that Mohammed's revelation was a rolling revelation with the later revelation, to the extent there is a contradiction, being a clarification to or, in Islamic jurisprudential language, abrogation, in whole or in part, of the earlier revelation.

In other words, a Muslim schooled in his faith could never properly read alone the command that there is no compulsion in religion. Instead, that command would have to be read in conjunction with not only other revelations but ones that significantly modify what seems, in the abstract, to be fairly progressive.

For example - and, for the permitted infidel monotheistic religions critically significant -, your noted revelation must be read and reconciled with the Koranic revelation "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [i.e. the jizyah] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." And even, for pagan infidel, the pertinent revelation calls for more extreme measures, namely, that they be offered Islam or the sword. But, the revelation that there is no compulsion in religion does not disappear. Its merely has to be read in light of later revelations.

Further, the model of Mohammed's life - the teachings/traditions (i.e. Sunnah) derived from his life, including his conquests - is centrally pertinent to Islamic thinking. These teachings or traditions are the ahaditha. A system for interpreting them and determining which are authentic involves tremendous scholarship and, like the weaving of doctrine with respect to reading the Koran, involves resolving conflicts. Again, these traditions are part and parcel of what makes Islam Islam.

I mention our forefathers' religion because, like Judaism, the Koranic revelations and ahaditha are also the language that determines the law, that is, the Shari'a. And, like Judaism, because Islam is law based, it is a religion dedicated to people's good works. This is all as intricate as is Jewish law, with reference to Torah, Talmud, etc., etc..

Now, as Cook shows in his book (and I read this quite a while back so my number may be off by a percentage point or so), nearly or more than 20% of all haditha are dedicated to Jihad in the nature of war. That, no doubt, is due to the fact that such were mostly written when Islamic armies were conquering.

But that fact, the fact that Mohamed was a military leader as well as religious leader, the fact that the exhortations to make war in the Koran and, also in the ahaditha are not written so as to suggest a contextual limitation but in an open ended manner - as in "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." - make it not only a question of scholars thinking their way to a better understanding. Rather, the actual texts are not readily flexible as your comment about no compulsion in religion suggests. So, the shape of the religion, as with any other brilliant religion, is not flexible to meet the picking out of this or that phrase.

Note, however, that the texts do not have to be read so as to support terrorism. And, I have never so suggested. And, from early - and, perhaps, because there was, from the beginning, the problem that individuals, after reading the texts as they naturally read, would advance their own Jihads against those insufficiently doctrinaire (e.g. the Kharajites) and against infidels -, the scholars saw the texts as supporting a communal struggle, not an individual struggle.

I might add that, in fact, the idea of individual struggle against the infidel was a profound problem for the early Muslims, as described in some general detail in Patricia Crone's brilliant book, No god but God. Jihadis would move to the frontier of Muslim territory and raid, often against the will of the Caliph, into infidel territory. Such is also noted, out of Andalusia into Christian Spain and France, by Bat Ye'or in her brilliant book The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam.

My point is that the texts naturally point toward individual Jihadic activity, most especially where there is no competent person to lead the struggle. So, the texts themselves are a real issue and the problem is not limited to context. In fact, a reform that follows the Christian model of literalism might support a very militant religion, with individuals advancing their own violent agenda.

Now, my prior point about what can be said about Islam is intended not to address those who take Jihad into their own hands. Rather, I speak primarily of traditional views - under which Islam helped form a brilliant civilization - while noting that the private Jihadis are clearly within the Islamic tradition. So, that brilliant civilization is not something to be sneezed off. At least not in my view. But, like Roman military virtues, the more militant aspects of Islam exist and are not tangential, are not the views only of the few misunderstanders but, in fact, are part and parcel of the faith as it has always been.

And, of course, if one is a believer, such as Professor Furnish, one can advance additional arguments that certainly have weight. But, I was speaking from the perspective of a non-believer. And, my view is that, among belief systems, only a few bad things can really be said about Islam. The rest is description, with Islam, in some ways, fairing rather well against other faiths.





art eckstein - 2/9/2007

N.F., I do not doubt that what you have written above is true. I just do not think it is the complete story--though I agree that it is a powerful part of the story. "Paradise exists in the shade of swords"--Yes, and there's a lot more along that line in the Koran. But the Koran is a complex text, and passages become famous because we up here MAKE them famous. Their fame, their influence, can be historically contextualized Thus there's also a significant part of the Koran that is not so violent--still aggessive and certain of its own superiority, but restrained in its violence. "There is no compulsion in religion," etc. While the simple and obvious meaning of that particular Koranic saying has tended to be overcome in really-existing Islam by an intellectually distorted legal tradition that denies the obvious meaning, I think that IS obvious in meaning, and that passages such as this give (or should give) the "moderates" significant leverage from which to work. The problem is that they are in fear of their lives. And that the jihadist Islamicists are lavishly funded and media-savvy, and that isn't true of the "moderates."

Another aspect of this is that jihadism provides confused and self-doubting young men, confronted with the complexities and difficulties of modernity, a simple and solid (and, you would say, absolutely authentic) identity, an Islamic identity. And more--confusion, self-doubt and "humiliation" are replaced by an arrogant sense of moral superiority and outwardly (rather than inwardly) directed hatred. That's a powerful attraction, especiaally to the "immature and lazy" as Kant describes them. It's another problem, but the rise of such adolescent "authenticity" within Islam is, I think, also directly related to the challenge of globalization (as well as $100 billion from the Saudis). It need not be as prominent as it is. As I said, in the 19th century it wasn't.

However, I agree that this is a thin reed on which to pin any hope. It does look as if the jihadist-Islamofascist version of Islam is become the "default mode" of Islam, even in places such as Britain (never mind the hopeless Middle East).

I DO think that the best way to give the moderates a CHANCE is NOT to treat the Jihadists with respect but to TELL them that they are barbarians and intellectual and moral idiots. Granting them respect, or believing they have a specific set of limited grievances which can be appeased, instead of a totalitarian world-view they are set to impose, is an error. To treat them as rational beings is to destroy the moderates. So we combat Omar, and he does indeed do us a favor by showing us almost weekly what the ignorant and intellectually and morally idiotic Islamicist is really like.

Similarly, one should NEVER treat with respect, say, the 30% of young British Muslims who think that changing one's religion from Islam should be punishable by DEATH. One should be openly contemptuous of such people, as Kant was openly contemptuous of such people. Only in that way--by the West's disrespecting of extremist jerks--do the Muslim moderates have a chance of gaining an influential a voice among their own people.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2007

Art,

A slight corrective on second consideration. Strike my sentence that reads: "So, we have an undirected Jihad, so that Jihad itself becomes an almost an end in itself rather than a means to extend Muslim rule."

That sentence suggests that there is no method or aim at all to the madness. On more careful consideration, I think it more accurate to state that there is but, as David Cook argues, the Jihad also has an ascetic character that carries it forward and, I might add, most especially in the current situation. But, there is an aim, at the very least for the leaders, in the madness although, to those who carry it out, we have Jihad as a way of life and, perhaps to some extent and for some, with more specific aims.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2007

Professor,

You are certainly an historian and, from what I can tell (although I have not read any book you have written), quite a good one. But, I still do not see your argument, which is why I think you quote at length from a philosopher, not a fellow historian. (Sorry, I could not resist that shot.)

To return to what you write. You mention the rising of a reform version of Islam in the 19th Century. The historian in you no doubt says that Islam thus is what its followers say it means. I, in fact, agree with that sentiment. The problem I have is that the 19th Century version, ala, for example, Sayyid Ahmad Khan did not catch hold.

So, we have, with minor exceptions, the Islam that might be and the Islam that is. And the Islam that is derives more from the Islam that was, basically from the beginning, than from the Islam that might be. And, perhaps, the Islam that might have been was, to do a bit of historical contextualizing, something that fit in with occupied India where there seemed no hope of overcoming the West.

Now, I reiterate my view: that which makes a society great is rarely sweetness or necessarily peace loving. That which made Islam great occurred, as the famed Hadith goes, under the shade of swords - more completely: Paradise is under the shade of swords -. And, perhaps even more to the point, the Hadith which Goldhizer focused upon: "The asceticism of Islam is the Jihad." Think about these rather significant ahadith, Art? They do not suggest a civilization formed about peaceful notions. In fact, exactly the opposite. In this regard and with special reference to the latter hadith, read David Cook's Understanding Jihad. It is worth the time.

I wish you would address yourself to this point rather than to what Islam might be read as -, if Islam espouses a more militant way of life than, say, Christianity, why is that bad to acknowledge? After all, there does appear to be something valuable at the end of the Islamic tunnel, namely, high civilization. It seems to me that the most we can say is that (a) Islam does not offer a life that a modern person might want and (b) that Islam's glory is, notwithstanding the efforts of the Jihadists to recapture the past, has been passed by so that Muslims should reform their faith.

One last point: where Islamist Jihadism differs from traditional Islam turns, I think, largely on the fact that Muslims are turning not to the leaders of their countries for the call to Jihad but, instead, considering such leaders illegitimate so that the calls from comparable lunatics are taken seriously. At least that is the case for Sunni radicals. So, we have an undirected Jihad, so that Jihad itself becomes an almost an end in itself rather than a means to extend Muslim rule. That is my take.


A. M. Eckstein - 2/8/2007

indeed what I've said to Omar--is that this aggression, this barbarism, this indifference to human suffering, this suicide bomberism first employed against Jews but now employed against fellow Muslims, this totalitarian vision of society, this calm ability to fly airplanes filled with screaming civilians (mostly women and children) into skyscrapers filled with innocent office workers in the confidence of a REWARD IN HEAVEN, all this must be coming from WITHIN Islam. It cannot be seen as merely a "natural" response to the "oppression" of the West. Similarly, the new poll of British Muslims (The Guardian, Feb. 4, 2007) that shows that 30% of those between the ages of 16 to 24 are in favor of DEATH for anyone who wishes to leave the religion--that too must be coming from within Islam. Hence at least 8 countries ruled in part by Sharia law already have that law ON THE BOOKS.

Having said all this, my point is still that this is not the ONLY tradition within Islam, and that the current jihadist-Wahabist-Salafist-Khomeinist ascendancy over those other Islamic traditions is the result BOTH of its being both ONE of the powerful fundamental traditions AND also of specific current factors such as the lavish funding by the Saudis on the one side and the Iranian govt on the other. In the case of the Saudis, it's been $100 BILLION worth of support over the past generation; the Iranian mullas, in control of the huge resources of an entire state, have spent billions more. That buys you an awful lot of what we in the West rightly consider pathology, a pathology well described by Peter in his description of Omar. It has happened. It need not have happened, but it has. In the 19th century we saw many modernizing reformist movements with Islam. In other words, rather than seeing Islam as static and eternal (which indeed is the jihadist vision) I historicize its development, and see evolution over time, as well as revolution within a short time (say, a generation, 1980-2007). But then, I'm a historian by trade.

The darkest part of the story that you and Peter propose has to do with human nature--immaturity, laziness, a willingness to put control of one's conscience into the hands of others--and it was laid out by Emmanel Kant in his wonderful "What is the Enlightenment?" (1784):

'Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of udnerstanding but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another....

"Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their 'guardians.' It is so easy to be immature. If I have a Book to serve as my understanding, a Pastor [read Mullah] to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think; others will readily undertake the irksome work for me. The 'guardians' who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the greatest part of them (including the entire fair sex) regard taking the step to maturity as very dangerous, not to mention difficult. Having first made their human livestock dumb, and having carefully made sure that these docile craetures will not take a single step without the the cart to which they have been harnessed, thse 'guardians' then show them the danger that threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone.

Thus it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immataurity that has all but become his anture. He has even become fond of this state and for the time-being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for one one has ever allowed him to use it. Rules and formulas are the shackles of a permanent immaturity. Whoever threw them off would still make only an uncertain leap over the smallest ditch, being unaccustomed to this kind of free movement.

[Nevertheless] nothing is required for this enlightenment except freedom; and the freedom in question means the freedom to use reason publicly on all issues. But on all sides I hear: "Do not argue!" The Officer says: "Do not argue, drill!" The Tax-man says, "Do not argue, pay." The Pastor [read: Mullah] says, "DO NOT ARGUE, BELIEVE!"



A.E.


N. Friedman - 2/8/2007

Art,

I am with Peter K. here. I think you are wrong when you write, as Pipe's writes in order, I think, merely to abate controversy: Nevertheless, like Pipes in the article discussed on the other posting today, I have always carefully distinguished between radical Islamist totalitarian ideology, and Islam itself, of which there are many varieties and of which radical Islamist totalitarian ideology is merely one new, alarming, very powerful and radical reading.

One is entitled to ask the distinction you draw. We have the intrepid Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She explains the problem with Dr. Pipes and your position as succinctly as it can be explained:

Q. Have you seen any ideology coming from within Islam that gives young Muslims a sense of purpose without the overlay of militancy?

A. They have no alternative message. There is no active missionary work among the youth telling them, do not become jihadis. They do not use media means as much as the jihadis. They simply — they’re reactive and they don’t seem to be able to compete with the jihadis. And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. The come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith. And what the moderates fail to do is to say, listen, that’s all in there, but that wasn’t meant for this context. And we have moved on. We can change the Koran, we can change the Hadith. That’s what’s missing.


The entire interview in the Sunday The New York Times. Her general understanding of what occurs may be open to discussion. But, when she states that it is the lunatics who are correctly advocating the traditional Islamic notions, she is beyond question correct. That is why the comparatively moderate forces in the Muslim regions have been unable to counter the lunatics. Or, in simple terms, the radicals are really pretty close to being traditionalists while the moderates are basically outside the classical Islamic tradition.

Now, it is certainly true that the Islamists have brought in some Western ideas, as Paul Berman and others, including Bernard Lewis, show. But, it is simply not the case that the Islamists are outside of the Islamic tradition. On the contrary, they are far closer to it than those among Muslims who dispute them on, say, humanitarian grounds.

What bothers me more, however, is the notion that you see the need to distinguish Islam from Islamism, as if a militant Islam is not the real article and as if Islam, as a militant creed, has no worth. When speaking of the Romans and their great accomplishments, I cannot imagine that you would say - although, like with Islam, there were obviously different currents and notions that, from time to time, dominated or appeared - that the Roman virtues were peaceful. That would be nonsense. And, by and large, it is nonsense with respect to Islamic culture as well but that does not make it any less great.


A. M. Eckstein - 2/8/2007

Peter writes: I do come from a part of the world which enjoyed dhimmitude for half a millenium, and I do remember my great-grandmother's harrowing recollections of how two thirds of our townspeople had their heads liberated from their bodies by the yataghans of the Ottoman bashi-bozouks, all to the sweet sounds of the Koran. And those were the fortunate ones

Peter, I believe that according to Omar, life for non-Muslims under the Ottomans, indeed under most Muslim rulers, was a paradise. As I remember it, he quoted an Israeli pornographer who supported his position. Hence either your great-grandmother must be a liar and part of the Zionist Conspiracy--or you are. I'm sure Omar will choose which one of these theories is the correct one (OR COULD IT BE BOTH?), and tell us.

Art E.


Peter Kovachev - 2/8/2007

Mr. Eckstein,

Somewhat perversly perhaps, it actually brings me joy to see that Omar is here to stay and is going strong. Other Islamists and apologists come and go in these forums, usually evaporating after their first bloody nose or some imagined insult to their fragile egos, but our Omar tools along like the little Eveready bunny rabbit come what may.

So, you caught him with his proverbial pants down, in flagrante delictio, as it were. Can you imagine if he had actually said, "Oh, sorry there, old boy, my mistake, I mis-read you on that one"? Half a dozen of us would be calling your FBI to investigate what alien ate Omar and now masquarades as him. He'll back, chugging along as if nothing ever happened, and that means that the world still turns.

All the power to him, I say, or "shkoyakh," as I think you folks of the Mosaic persuasion say; in him we have a living summary of all the Islamist pathologies. The denials, the phantasmagoria, the invented past, the inversion of reality, the unquenchable anger at the uncooperative dhimmi. I just wish he used fewer words and more paragraphs, but it still beats trying to research and read the "philosophy" of Islamist "intellectuals" and what passes for their version of political or religious leaders. Let professionals, like our good Professor Furnish, muck around through that rubbish...no one should without being decently paid for it.

I suppose that I'm one of those "far more pessimistic" interlocutors about Islam's "basic nature." Alas, I do come from a part of the world which enjoyed dhimmitude for half a millenium, and I do remember my great-grandmother's harrowing recollections of how two thirds of our townspeople had their heads liberated from their bodies by the yataghans of the Ottoman bashi-bozouks, all to the sweet sounds of the Koran. And those were the fortunate ones. Today we have videos of such diversions, played night and day on Al Jazeera and other Muslim "media," back then people only had their stories.

Nevertheless, you are right, absolutely right as a matter of fact; Islamists don't represent all of Islam or all Muslims. In the same vein, nazis and fascist didn't represent all Germans, or Italians or Roumanians or whoever in their days; Stalinist don't represent all Russians and such and so on. In fact many who called themselves fascists or communists were by all counts fairly normal and decent people...heck, there were plenty such characters from both sides in everyone's families, including my own...and yet. And yet, patience has its limits and it was not until these ideologies were conclusively defeated, humiliated and thoroughly discredited, that life began to return to what we call normal.

But alright, I'm with you; I'll hope that mainstream Islam discovers its latent humanism and liberalism (not to mention its brains and testes) and re-interprets itself by whatever means it can ... like most major religions eventually had to. Let's hope that good and decent Muslims wake up and subdue or destroy their own rabid leaders and vile murderers and "quickly and speedily in our days" impose laws and mores of tolerance and justice. The alternative to that, as the thousands of mosques and churches that are now foundation rubble, and the thousands of empty villages with their overgrown cemeteries and mass-burial sites throughout the Balkans can attest, that alternitive is too horrifying to even contemplate.


art eckstein - 2/8/2007

Just so people understand Omar's mentality, he thought that the question to None Darwish was addressed to HIM, because he cannot read very well, and because he'd never said the things that Darwish DID say, he called me not only a liar but a habitual liar--typical of him.

[So far, I had been addressing Omar. Then:] "As for your instinctive blaming of the other, I am going to conclude with a long quote from Nonie Darwish. Her father was the Egyptian colonel who created the Fedayeen, the first anti-Israeli guerrillas in Gaza in the 1950s. Here is what SHE says now about the Muslim deep instinct always to blame the other and never to look in the mirror:


Question: You describe how Arabs see a virtue in never admitting a mistake. To say the least, this kind of psychology necessitates pathology and the failure of a culture. No? Tell us about this mindset and its effects."

Now, DESPITE my saying "Omar, I am now going to conclude with a quote from Nonie Darwish," and immediately PRECEDING the question here just above with the statement, "This is what SHE [emphasized!] says," Omar read this question as addressed to him, and since HE'd never said anything like that, called me a liar, and a habitual liar, and when CAUGHT in his error refused to apologize. Please note: this is JUST AS DARWISH PREDICTS occurs especially with Middle Eastern men.

It is not Omar's primitive misreading of the quotation that is illuminating; that is typical of him, but more important is his inability to apologize when CAUGHT. According to Darwish, this would not be some personal quirk of Omar's, some particular fault in his personality; rather, it is part of his culture.

Nevertheless, like Pipes in the article discussed on the other posting today, I have always carefully distinguished between radical Islamist totalitarian ideology, and Islam itself, of which there are many varieties and of which radical Islamist totalitarian ideology is merely one new, alarming, very powerful and radical reading. Other interlocutors on HNN have been far more pessimistic about the basic nature of Islam than me. Still, Omar confuses an attack on radical Islamicist ideology with an assault on Islam itself by unworthy dhimmis. Another illuminating indication of his psychology.


art eckstein - 2/8/2007

As for Omar's attack on ME, folks, that is based on his crude misreading of a posting I posted comment on the other article (the Pipes article) this week, having to do with a question about Muslim culture's inability to deal with facts or admit errors or atrocities but always blaming the other. This question to Darwish Omar somehow misread as addressed to HIM, and he not only called me a liar but a habitual liar, and when CAUGHT by everyone he refused to apologize in the face of the obvious empirical evidence that he had made a gross mistake which he had then compounded by insult, and then by further insult when caught. A truly disgraceful and self-humiliating performance on Omar's part.

Here is what Nonie Darwish--and as the daughter of the Egyptian colonel who founded the anti-Israel Fedayeen in Gaza in the 1950s you can hard get to be more of an insider than she is--concerning the inability of Muslim honor culture to apologize for mistakes, lies, or atrocities:


Omar, as for your instinctive blaming of the other, I am going to conclude with a long quote from Nonie Darwish. Her father was the Egyptian colonel who created the Fedayeen, the first anti-Israeli guerrillas in Gaza in the 1950s. Here is what SHE says now about the Muslim deep instinct always to blame the other and never to look in the mirror:


Question: You describe how Arabs see a virtue in never admitting a mistake. To say the least, this kind of psychology necessitates pathology and the failure of a culture. No? Tell us about this mindset and its effects.
 
Darwish: The Arab culture is famous for its concept of pride.  Image is very important and pride and shame are great motivators. Protecting the image of Muslims in front of the non-Muslim West is vital. Thus elaborate behavior is done to saving face. Admitting to a mistake can bring terrible shame and is not regarded as a virtue; those who admit to mistakes are not rewarded for their honesty but ridiculed and shamed or even severely punished. Until today most Muslims blame 9/11 on a Jewish conspiracy. The father of Muhammad Attah in Egypt, for 4 years denied that his son headed the 9/11 terror attack even when the whole world saw him checking into the airplane that slammed into the twin towers. Only recently Atta's father come out and admitted he is proud of what his son “the Shahid” and not the terrorist has done. 
 
There are people in Arab jails right now who are accused of defaming Islam or their country in front of non-Muslims. This defamation can be a simple praise of Christians or Jews and of being critical of radical Islam. Fear of being accused of defaming one’s tribe, nation or religion leads to a culture that tends to blame others rather than look within. The Judeo Christian culture concentrates heavily on the concept of “we are all sinners and only through the grace of God we can be saved.” That is a big relief to the Western psyche.  Muslim education views members of other religions as sinners; the infidel non-Muslim sinners can only be saved by announcing they are Muslims. It is a prominent part of the Jewish faith to talk about God’s punishment when they are disobedient to God’s laws.
 
That honest admission by Jews is not viewed by Muslims as a virtue and a step towards self-improvement, but as an admission of wrong doing and that Jews are bad and deserve God’s wrath; that is why to many Muslims Jews do not deserve land or a nation. “They themselves even admit that they are sinners,” I once heard a Muslim say.  There is also a concept in Islam called “taqueya” which allows lying to non-Muslims if it is in the best interest of Islam. That concept is very deep in Muslim culture that we don't even think of the term “taqueya” any more; it has simply penetrated every aspect of Muslim life. Because of it there is very little self-criticism.
 
Thus, saying sorry, admitting guilt or looking within for solutions is not a strong value; it will surely get a person in deep trouble instead. Such a person will bear the blunt of the blame for everything -- even for what he did not do; thus you have Muslim denials and defensiveness over matters that many in the West cannot comprehend. Muslims are in denial when they say that Muslim women have more rights than Western women; even many Muslim women convinced themselves with that and defend Sharia Law rather than say the truth in front of the non-Muslim West. 
 
Muslims are in denial when they say Israel is behind all Muslim terrorism across the globe, even 9/11; they are in denial when they say that Arab tyrants are the product of American foreign policy, but when America takes out Saddam, they say “you are interfering in our internal affairs.”


Yes, I advise all of our interlocutors to read carefully what Darwish says above about Muslim intellectual culture. Depressing as her comments are, they do explain Omar's disgraceful inability to deal with empirical facts when they are uncomfortable facts (hence his inability to deal with Furnish's facts). They also explain his paranoid accusations, and his desperation to blame anyone--ANYONE-- but himself or Arabs or Muslims for the his own grotesque intellectual errors, or the Arab-Muslim dilemma.

Art Eckstein


Peter Kovachev - 2/8/2007

As in, "The evidence is true, but I I don't like it! Or, "since history is 'replete with incidents, myths and fables on which it is possible to erect all sorts of theories and premises,' the truth must therefore be unknowable and so, the only option is to submit to good "relations between the West and the Arab/Moslem World" ... a.k.a. subservient dhimmitude. Move right along folks, nothing to see here!

Interesting that you mention that old clown Toynbee, Omar. He wasted precious paper on his flimsily-supported and universally dismissed "decline of civilizations" thesis, declared the Judaic one a "fossil" and when that "fossil" liberated its homeland from his country's colonial masters and a handful of South Syrian squatters, AFTER being nearly annihilated physically in Europe, he "backed" his thesis by becoming a rabid "anti-zionist!" Damn that evidence thing!


Tim R. Furnish - 2/8/2007

Omar,
As usual, you are incapable of responding to the evidence I present from Islamic history and Islamic sources. Pray tell, which of my adduced evidence is untrue?


Elliott Aron Green - 2/7/2007

Forgot to ask Comrade Louis why he supports the Hamas that is supported by Saudi Arabia, a state with some of the greatest capital reserves in history and in the world. Saudi Arabia is primarily a rentier state, living off the return on capital plus the sales of oil [which the Saudis did not put in the ground].
And then, Saudi Arabia has a huge population of foreign workers who are reputed to be treated less well than the wage slaves in the American colossus. What are you doing, Louis, to liberate those foreign wage slaves in Arabia, victims of the legal inferiority of non-Muslims to Muslims and of non-Arabs to Arabs??


Elliott Aron Green - 2/7/2007

How can comrade Louis live in the United States, a settler colonial state built on the lands of the indigenous Native Americans, an imperialist monster endangering world peace, etc??? And then he agrees with Jimmy Carter, former chief imperialist of the empire!! What have you been drinking lately, Louis?

As to apartheid, N was trying to explain to you that tradtional Arab-Muslim society was much like apartheid. Do you deny the validity of that analogy? Do you deny the historical fact that the Jews preceded the Arabs in the Land of Israel? Otherwise, why did the Roman empire call the country Judea [IVDAEA] in the the heyday of Rome?? Read some Tacitus before bedtime, would you please?


E. Simon - 2/7/2007

In anticipating that enough Jews will leave Israel in order to relegate Zionism to nothing more than "a very bad memory", it seems Proyect takes a stance more radical than that of most of Hamas, who seem to indicate that the millions of Jews of Sephardic descent would not be expelled. But why not invite them to also follow your cowardly stance and invitation, Proyect? Surely as greater than half of Israel's population, they would also all have to leave in order for the slaughter/terror/malfeasance/ineptitude of Hamas' takeover to be effective enough to relegate Zionism to nothing more than a "bad memory". Oh well, guess it must suck when even your own self-defined "otherness" is counted as among the downtrodden by the very enemy you hope to stir against it. But I imagine that's the kind of dissonance your feeble mind must be used to playing with by now.


N. Friedman - 2/7/2007

Louis,

So now apartheid S. Africa is no different from Nazi Germany. That, Louis, is pretty dumb.

You have, once again, changed your argument. Your original argument is that Israel supported sinners. Having lost that argument - since it is basically idiotic -, you now claim that Israel is like S. Africa which, to your lazy mind, is like Nazi Germany.

But, that dog does not hunt either and it was not your original argument. Rather, it is another canard that speaks to your lazy thinking and lack of study and decency.

And, I know you want to say it so, go ahead, Louis. Tell me that Israel is just like Nazi Germany rather than merely saying it indirectly by analogy. I dare you to.

I do not excuse either country. But, apartheid S. Africa was not akin to Nazi Germany.

And the things you mention about Nazi Germany are not defining of Nazi Germany but, instead, of dozens of states all over the world, even today. Think Sudan where there is actual slavery - i.e. people being bought and sold (and where is your moral outrage about slavery in the Sudan and in the Gulf states, Mr. Louis Morals or is that milksop?) -, and that does not even speak about all the killing in Sudan - and, since 1983, millions have died, Louis (and did you even know that?). Yet, you focus on Israel which, in all its years, has not done the wrong that occurs in Sudan on any given day of the week. Milksop.

And, over what in Sudan, Louis? And, why the silence about actual slavery, Louis? Is that not a great evil to be fought by people who claim, as you pretend to, the banner of freedom? Evidently not for you and your "moral" ilk - and I use quotation marks to note my laughter at your position.

Instead of fighting for freedom, you want to fight the remnants of the Jewish people for, after being mistreated everywhere else (including, most especially, in their ancestral home over the course of many, many centuries, having even been required to pay extra taxes just to pray in Jerusalem by the very people you treat as saints), making a home for themselves in their ancestral land. How vile to want to survive and live in freedom from discrimination in Europe and in Arab lands. But you, of course, negate history, seeing only your small ideological prerogative.






Louis N Proyect - 2/7/2007

Friedman, Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s was *exactly* like apartheid South Africa. Jews were subject to restrictive laws, just like Blacks. In fact, Israel has learned how to keep the Palestinians down by studying apartheid, a system that the Afrikaners learned from the Nazis. No matter how hard the Zionists try to discredit Jimmy Carter, it is well understood that it is an apartheid system that the Zionists have put together. Some day the chickens will come home to roost. The Arabs will finally deliver a knockout blow to the Zionists like the French Algeria received, especially since the IDF is too cowardly to fight the Hezbollah hand to hand. At that point, it would make good sense for the Jews to pick up and leave just like the settlers in Algeria did. They can come to NYC, the true homeland of the Jews. 1 out of 10 people in my building are Jews who have left Israel. More will certainly come and Zionism will only remain as a very bad memory.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Louis,

I see that you have stopped blaming Israel for siding with the Maronites who mostly wanted to protect their rights.

Now, you claim we should look to S. Africa, as if it were the equivalent to Nazi Germany. Bad news, Louis, but S. Africa, bad as it was, was nothing like Nazi Germany.

Such, frankly, is probably why you point to a period of time before the horrible massacres began in Nazi Germany. But note: to admit that it is to admit that your analogy is wrong.

In the case of the Arab association with the Nazis, they knew what the Nazis were doing, as in eradicating peoples wholesale. S. Africa, bad as it was, was not doing that sort of thing.

Rather, S. Africa was doing things that, under Islamic law and in all Islamic empires, were done, namely, people were radically discriminated against, being required to wear special clothing and identifying hair cuts, being unable to defend themselves from attack by the dominant group, lacking the right to testify in Court against a member of the dominant group, being restricted from certain professions, being forced to live in special areas, etc., etc. Recall, Louis, the Yellow Star originated in Muslim regions, not with the Nazis.

Again, you are way out of your league.



Louis N Proyect - 2/6/2007

Friedman, Israel was allied with South Africa when it was a racist state. The ruling party had a history of supporting the Nazis in the 1930s and then carried out Nazi-like laws when it was in power. Blacks were treated like Jews were in 1935 before the death camps. It is not controversial. When the entire world was turning its back on apartheid, Israel was selling the racist state guns. It was also training the Guatemalan military that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples. Israel is a rogue state. Period.


E. Simon - 2/6/2007

If you've not read the Robert Fagles translation of Homer's works, you're really missing out. Those are a hell of a set of translations.

http://www.amazon.com/Odyssey-Robert-Fagles/dp/0140268863


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Louis,

Here is a suggestion for you. Think before you write something.

Consider: when was it that Israel sided with the Lebanese Phalange or had some friendly terms with S. Africa? Was that in the 1930's and/or 1940's? No. Israel did not even exist.

When did Arabs align with the Nazis? In the 1930'a and 1940's. With reference to Arabs and the Nazis, Bernard Lewis informs us as follows:

Now that the German archives are open, we know that within weeks of Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem got in touch with the German consul general in Jerusalem, Doctor Heinrich Wolff, and offered his services. It is interesting that the common image of the Germans pursuing the Arabs is the reverse of what happened. The Arabs were pursuing the Germans, and the Germans were very reluctant to get involved. Dr. Wolff recommended, and his government agreed, that as long as there was any hope of making a deal with the British Empire and establishing a kind of Aryan-Nordic axis in the West, it would be pointless to antagonize the British by supporting the Arabs.

But then things gradually changed, particularly after the Munich Conference in 1938. That was the turning point, when the German government finally decided that there was no deal to be made with Britain, no Aryan axis. Then the Germans turned their attention more seriously to the Arabs, responding at last to their approaches, and from then on the relationship developed very swiftly.

In 1940 the French surrender gave the Nazis new opportunities for action in the Arab world. In Vichy-controlled Syria they were able for a while to establish an intelligence and propaganda base in the heart of the Arab East. From Syria they extended their activities to Iraq, where they helped to establish a pro-Nazi regime headed by Rashid Ali al-Gailani. This was overthrown by the British, and Rashid Ali went to join his friend the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in Berlin, where he remained as Hitler’s guest until the end of the war. In the last days of Rashid Ali’s regime, on the first and second of June 1941, soldiers and civilians launched murderous attacks on the ancient Jewish community in Baghdad. This was followed by a series of such attacks in other Arab cities, both in the Middle East and in North Africa.


Bernard Lewis, The American Scholar - Volume 75 No. 1 Winter 2006 pp. 25-36.

Now, the Phalange were not a nice group. But, then again, neither were the Sunni, Druze or Shi'a groups or the Palestinian Arab groups in Lebanon. And, the Phalange represented the interests of people who did not wish to become second class citizens in their own country, namely, the Maronite Christians. And recall, Lebanon was formed initially to protect the Maronite Christians after they were massacred by the many tens of thousands by the Druze and Ottoman Muslims.

So, I do not think you have your facts remotely straight. And, whatever the origins of the Phalange, they were not Nazis and they did not behave like Nazis. This is not to excuse the massacres they committed in the Lebanese civil war (and I do not excuse what they did any more than what the PLO forces did or the Shi'a or the Sunni or the Druze). It is to note that your understanding of the matter is nonsensical.


Louis Nelson Proyect - 2/6/2007

I find it hard to understand why Zionists seek to gain traction by referring to pro-Nazi sympathies among certain Arabs. The Israeli government allied with the Lebanese Phalangists, a sister party to Franco's. It also allied itself with the Nationalist Party in South Africa that was pro-Nazi. I guess it is okay to collaborate with Nazis and fascists if you fly the Star of David.


Peter Kovachev - 2/6/2007

Mr. Young,

Not the old 70s "land-for-peace" nonsense again, please!

Israel foolishly, and I would say idiotically, tried that as an empirical experiment by giving away the whole of Gaza lock-stock-and-barrel, right down to the world's most technologically advanced and profitable greenhouses. Within days these were stripped down to their foundations, within a fortnight the surrounding land returned to desert and in less than a month, the only activity to be seen in that Juden-rein "Palestinian paradise-to-be" was tunnel-digging and Qassam-launching.

Surely you wouldn't advise Israel to pretend that all's well, hand over historically Jewish lands, Judea and Samaria, not to mention strategically vital territory to a people who openly wish it destroyed?


Peter Kovachev - 2/6/2007

Never mind that, Mr. Furnish, I didn't refresh the page (for about 15 minutes or so) and missed the emerging feeding frenzy.

Alas, nothing new in any of that; Islam is 'zactly-like any other religion, and Jews were treated like everyone else until Israel came along. Pathetic a-historical rubbish, that, which conveniently avoids the key issue: Islam has been and continues to be at war with every people within a stone's throw. The over-blown "Golden Ages" were few and far between, if not imaginary pastiches and post-modernist projections, and the brief respite from Islam's attacks (at least where Europe is concerned) starting in the 19th century and ending in the early 20th, had to do with inability due to lack of oil money and technological backwardness.


Peter Kovachev - 2/6/2007

As many a-time before, Professor Furnish, I'm once again sorely disappointed at the calibre of .... your critics here.

There's Loraine Paul, who in spite of the finest education the West can offer and the most generous equal opportunity measures a country can devise, can only write, "two wrongs don't make a right!," and then, perhaps after trying to think this one through and finding it painful, adds in frustration, "one twirp quoting other twirps."

There is the long-in-the-tooth Stalinist/anarchist/whatever, our Louis Proyect ... once appearing as the burned-out hippie character in "That 70s Show." At least I'm pretty sure that's him; someone correct me if I'm wrong. He is Loraine's masculine counter-personna, proving that dingbattiness is an equal opportunity affliction.

Oh, a new face...and yet another disappointing flop. A Mr. Diazue, who wants to prove to us that he is sane and a smart cookie at that (no Hollywood-e-rama for him) by rehashing 80s lines about the mythical "Palestinians" (a.k.a. Jordyptians) being 'zactly-like native Americans. If I were a Firsts Nations member, I'd sue Diazue for obscene comparisons resulting in gross defamation of a people. A real people, that is, with its own languages and cultures.

Given such embarrassments, perhaps you have some clout at HNN and can ask for them to hire a few professional nay-sayers?

Oddly enough, it is our energetic and inimitable Mr. Baker in whose bucketfull of jibberish one can find a pearl of a legitimate counter-ergument. Steam cleaning and decoding programs do wonders, and the gist of what he seems to be saying is "let those without sin cast the first stone." So, yes, the Torah lists a number of practices and events that would be politically incorrect, to put it mildly, and while the Gospels may speak of universal peace, goodwill and such, Christianity's history on the European peninsula has been quite hair-raising (and hair-and-everything-else-burning) right to the very doorsteps of the Modern Era.

Now, I would answer Mr. Baker that many of the harsh injuctions in the Jewish Bible were mitigated as far back as the Babylonian Exile, and that Rabbinic Judaism further reinterpreted and ruled in favour of leniency on many issues as early as the first century, turning it into a religion of people who would rather eat tinfoil than swear at someone. Or, that Christianity, in spite of its aggressive phase, rejected coersion and gave birth to the most tolerant systems the world has seen since the days of hunter/gatherers. Well, after a few abortive pseudo/quasi-religious hiccups like National Socialism and Stalinism. Alas, Islam seems to be inexplicably living as if we're still in the days of The Madman (if you've come across Maimonides' Epistle to the Yemenites, you'll know who that would be), except that it's jolly followers have learned to fly planes and have money to have others build nukes for them. That would be my response, but I'm curious to hear yours if your have time.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Elliott,

You may quote what you like to John. I have, however, quoted to him both Muslims and non-Muslims. However, noting the leading scholars on Islam and its history ought give a rational person pause. John is a bright guy. Eventually, he will actually pick up a first rate book about Islamic history and he will see that his understanding of the Islamic thinking is, to be polite, nonsense.


Elliott Aron Green - 2/6/2007

N,
you could ask Crocker to read Majid Khadduri's book on The Law of War and Peace in Islam. Khadduri ought to be acceptable to Crocker. After all, he taught at Johns Hopkins. Khadduri confirms what your other authorities say, perhaps more sharply, and in any case more authoritatively since he himself was a Muslim and militant Arab nationalist, an admirer of Haj Amin el-Husseini [Husayni], British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem, etc.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Charles,

Obviously, you did not read my comment. I do not deny a mixed history.

My comment was directed to comments you made which are contradicted by basically every important historian of Islam. You quote to portions of the Koran which, for purposes of Islamic theology, are trivial so far as Muslim historical relations with non-Muslims.

Again, you have nothing to say in response to the writings of the greatest historians of Islam who ever lived including, among others, Bernard Lewis and Ignaz Goldhizer. And, you have no explanation for the view taken by the greatest Muslim historical scholar of all time, Ibn Khaldun. How is that?

How do you explain the failure of these great writers to accept the version of history you peddle? How do you explain that Goldhizer, who preached that Islam had much to teach Christians, nonetheless recognized the religion's dominant imperative to make the entire world Muslims by, if needed, force?

My point: you are correct if you say I have my conclusions. Yes. I have studied the matter carefully. I have drawn conclusions. But, I always listen to people who can, in fact, provide useful information that might better inform me about facts so that I might reach even better informed opinions - including those which might contradict my current position -. But that is not what you do. Rather, what you are writing with reference to Islam is, frankly, INCORRECT - objectively so -, as in there is no plausible argument for your position.


Charles S Young - 2/6/2007

We've had this discussion before. You accept that Christendom and Judaism have mixed traditions of tolerance and aggression, but you find only wickedness worthy of note in Islam. Since you insist that Islam has an essential nature, rather than a complex historical one, there's no point in debating. You've already defined yourself the winner.



N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

John,

You write: "The Crusades (particularly the Children's Crusade), the conquest of Africa, SE Asia and the Americas stand in direct refutation of that assertion."

You did not read what I wrote with sufficient care.

My position is that the Christian scriptures have not been read to permit a permanent state of war to spread Christian rule. That, instead, is a position that is unique to Islam. And, the Crusades were not denoted to be a permanent state of war but were episodic.

I do not doubt that Muslims can think and do anything they want. There is no shortage of talent.

What I said is say is that the version of Islam that has dominated since the beginning has advocated a permanent state of war to spread Islamic rule to the entire world. That, John, is a fact.

Whether, starting now, a modern version of Islam dominates and that rejects the theological imperative I reprint below, I have no way of knowing. But, I do know what the dominant theology is and that is something you should consider since it is not something an educated, inquisitive person can deny. To restate it:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

When the above ceases being the religious imperative that dominates, then it will cease.

So, to reiterate: I do not deny that Muslims can think what they will. What I claim is that the above quoted material is the version of Islam that has always dominated. As evidence, I would point you to even quasi-apologists like Reza Aslan who notes that it was only in the 19th Century that a version of Islam not dominated by the above notions was even conceptualized. As he says, in the beginning, if Islam was a religion of the sword, it had a lot of company and, later, when theological speculation died off, the above view as above quoted became dogma. And, I would add that the alternative notions that came into being in the 19th Century - in India, to be exact - were never widely accepted.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Louis,

The information provided by Professor Furnish is accurate. Facts are facts including facts that are unpleasant. I might recommend you read a book by Walter Lacquer, The Changing Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to Present Day, whom, by any standards, is a brilliant historian. He also notes that there has been a sporadic history of Antisemitism in the Muslim regions and not just recently.


John Charles Crocker - 2/6/2007

"However, it is to be noted that Christians apply their own various theological spins on the Hebrew Scriptures. So, they are not read as invocations for general warfare with the only circumstantial question being whether war would be successful and never have been."
The Crusades (particularly the Children's Crusade), the conquest of Africa, SE Asia and the Americas stand in direct refutation of that assertion.

Your implication in this post seems to be that Christians and Jews are able to place the violent passages of their holy books in a context that makes them reasonable, while Muslims are incapable of the same.


Louis Nelson Proyect - 2/6/2007

How is that so much garbage originally published on Horowitz's rag gets crossposted here? Don't people realize that this only reinforces George Mason University's lousy reputation as a kind of Oral Roberts University?


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Mike,

Yours is an important point. In studying Islamic regions, the notion that they are saints - which is the view that the likes of Mr. Pettitt seemingly proposes - is not more appropriate than one that makes us into saints. And, the notion that religions are repositories of only virtue are also not due. In the case of Islam, that means acknowledging that the religion is traditionally considered by Muslims to be the universal property of all mankind such that Muslims are enjoined, as a group, to bring the message to all mankind by means of spreading Muslim rule. As explained by the great historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis:

In the Muslim world view the basic division of mankind is into the House of Islam (Dār al-Islām) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). The one consists of all those countries where the law of Islam prevails, that is to say, broadly, the Muslim Empire; the latter is the rest of the world. Just as there is only one God in heaven, so there can be only one sovereign and one law on earth. Ideally, the House of Islam is conceived as a single community, governed by a single state, headed by a single sovereign. This state must tolerate and protect those unbelievers who are brought by conquest under its rule, provided, of course, that they are not polytheists but followers of one of the permitted religions. The logic of Islamic law, however, does not recognized the permanent existence of any other polity outside Islam. In time, in the Muslim view, all mankind will accept Islam or submit to Islamic rule. In the meantime, it is a religious duty of Muslims to struggle until this end is accomplished.

The name given by the Muslim jurists to this struggle is jihād, an Arabic word meaning effort or striving. One who performs this duty is called mujāhid. The word occurs several times in the Qur'ān in the sense of making war against the unbelievers. In the early centuries of Islamic expansion, this was its normal meaning. Between the House of Islam and the House of War there was, according to the sharī‘a, the Holy Law as formulated by the classical jurists, a state of war religiously and legally obligatory, which could end only with the conversion or subjugation of all mankind. A treaty of peace between the Muslim state and a non-Muslim state was thus in theory juridically impossible. The war, which would end only with the universal triumph of Islam, could not be terminated; it could only be interrupted for reasons of necessity or of expediency by a truce. Such a truce, according to the jurists, could only be provisional. It should not exceed ten years and could, at any time, be repudiated unilaterally by the Muslims who, however, were obliged by Muslim law to give the other side due notice before resuming hostilities.


From The Muslim Discovery of Europe, by Bernard Lewis.

I know I keep posting this and similar quotes. They are quoted because they provide a basis to understand the world as a believing Muslim would. That is important if we are to avoid speaking nonsense.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

John,

Your point that the Hebrew Scriptures are incorporated into the Christian Testament is certainly true and important.

However, it is to be noted that Christians apply their own various theological spins on the Hebrew Scriptures. So, they are not read as invocations for general warfare with the only circumstantial question being whether war would be successful and never have been. That cannot be said of the Koran. It has generally been read over the ages as supporting a hostile foreign policy dedicated to spreading Islamic rule to the entire Earth. That, after all, is what the materials I quoted to you effectively indicate. And, such, in fact, is consistent with the historical record.

I might add: in the Jewish context, the hostile passages in the Hebrew Scriptures are also not taken without substantial analysis. And that analysis largely confines their significance - even in Orthodox Judaism and as long ago as 2000 years ago - to the incidents involved. Which is to say, the violent passages are not read as a blueprint to conquer the entire world and place it under Jewish law.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

I repost my prior comment to you which you have yet to address. It is directed largely to the argument you continue to make:

Mr. Young,

The issue with Islam is not accurately presented by you. First, the treatment of Jews and Christians under Islam was not of any reverence in any sense of the word. It was one of contempt with sporadic outbreaks of violence and oppression. That is why the lands which, at one time, were basically Christian have essentially no more Christians. Perhaps you are not aware that North Africa was Christian, as was Egypt, as was Iraq, as was Turkey, Syria, Israel and Jordan.

In India, 80 million Hindus and Buddhists were massacred by Muslims - and this after the conquests. As historian Will Durant note: such were perhaps the bloodiest events in all recorded history.

I think that what can be said is that Islam has a mixed record in treating non-Muslims that are of the permitted infidel religions. But, there never was equality under Muslim rule. And toleration meant only being contemptuously tolerated.

As for quoting the Koran, that is a nonsense point. The Koran is the source material but theologians and the doctors of religion - ulema - have set the pattern for how Muslims treat others. And, in any event, quoting from the Koran invites the quotation of the enormous number of exhortations to kill the infidel. They far out number the peaceful versus. And, I might add, the traditional Islamic theological position was that the peaceful verses are abrogated by later, more hostile, versus. And, the chapter dedicated to the sword is among the last and, hence, the more important versus. So, if you want to argue for a peaceful Islam, do not start quoting the Koran as it will blow up in your face.

A more accurate picture emerges from serious historical studies. Do not limit your study of the Muslim regions to the views of apologists and Saidists. Read what other writers (e.g. Bernard Lewis, David Cook, Ignaz Goldhizer, Steven Runciman, Vahakn Dadrian, etc.) note, most especially with respect to the religio/political ideology which often comes to the surface in Islam. As explained by Bernard Lewis:

In the Muslim world view the basic division of mankind is into the House of Islam (Dār al-Islām) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). The one consists of all those countries where the law of Islam prevails, that is to say, broadly, the Muslim Empire; the latter is the rest of the world. Just as there is only one God in heaven, so there can be only one sovereign and one law on earth. Ideally, the House of Islam is conceived as a single community, governed by a single state, headed by a single sovereign. This state must tolerate and protect those unbelievers who are brought by conquest under its rule, provided, of course, that they are not polytheists but followers of one of the permitted religions. The logic of Islamic law, however, does not recognized the permanent existence of any other polity outside Islam. In time, in the Muslim view, all mankind will accept Islam or submit to Islamic rule. In the meantime, it is a religious duty of Muslims to struggle until this end is accomplished.

The name given by the Muslim jurists to this struggle is jihād, an Arabic word meaning effort or striving. One who performs this duty is called mujāhid. The word occurs several times in the Qur'ān in the sense of making war against the unbelievers. In the early centuries of Islamic expansion, this was its normal meaning. Between the House of Islam and the House of War there was, according to the sharī‘a, the Holy Law as formulated by the classical jurists, a state of war religiously and legally obligatory, which could end only with the conversion or subjugation of all mankind. A treaty of peace between the Muslim state and a non-Muslim state was thus in theory juridically impossible. The war, which would end only with the universal triumph of Islam, could not be terminated; it could only be interrupted for reasons of necessity or of expediency by a truce. Such a truce, according to the jurists, could only be provisional. It should not exceed ten years and could, at any time, be repudiated unilaterally by the Muslims who, however, were obliged by Muslim law to give the other side due notice before resuming hostilities.


From The Muslim Discovery of Europe, by Bernard Lewis.

As explained by renowned Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406):

In the Muslim community, holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united (in Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them (religion and politics) at the same time.

The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs (in other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all. (Among them) royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, and not because they are under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people).


Here is what famed historian of Islam, Ignaz Goldhizer (d. 1921) (with Kaufmann Kohler), wrote:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

In my view, if Lewis, Goldhizer and Khaldun say it is so, it is most certainly so. If you do not believe them, according to Dadrian:

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]


From The History of the Armenian Genocide, by Vahakn Dadrian.

Now, you can, if you like, believe that a religion which, from its very inception, engaged in war with its prophet being a warrior, is peaceful and treats everyone else as equals. No serious historical study agrees.

Now, I am not saying Islam is bad. In fact, I think Islam is a rather heroic faith. But it is certainly not a peaceful or mild religion and, under Islamic rule, the other religions largely vanished. For those not considered Pagan, there was a life but such communities died a death of a thousand little cuts. For Pagans, the choice was always, convert or death. We owe it to the many tens of millions of dead Buddhists and Hindus to remember exactly how horribly the Muslims treated such people.

As for people of the book (i.e. of the permitted religions), being a protege (i.e. dhimmi) under Islam may or may not have been better than being an infidel in Christiandom. But, by today's standards, what Islamic rule offered to infidel is far worse than apartheid. And, in the end, the infidels under Islam became tiny remnant communities.

Lastly, you ask why all Muslims do not fly planes into buildings. That is irrelevant to the issue. The Islamic doctrine for spreading the faith is a communal, not an individual, endeavor. It is supposed to be led by a Caliph or imam, not a nut living in a cave. The issue to ponder is that in the modern world, there is no Caliph which has unleashed, as in prior periods of Islam, individual Jihadic activity on a wide scale. However, there has always been such activity.

[Originally posted at http://hnn.us/comments/105068.html ]


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Elliott,

You forgot a recent book by the ever brilliant Walter Lacquer, href="http://www.laqueur.net/index2.php?r=4&rr=5&id=27">The Changing
Face of Anti-Semitism: From Ancient Times to Present Day
. While the book is primarily about Antisemitism in Europe, he also notes it background in Islamic history and thinking.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

John,

I shall answer your question this way.

I am not aware of anyone claiming the great evil of the paganism that existed in the Greek city states where Plato, etc., lived. Yet, any serious study of the religion of such states would, I think, show it to be fairly heroic and to encourage violence. That is not my area of great knowledge but I have read the various philosophers of the period, the various myths (via Edith Hamilton), the Odyssey, Iliad and Nietzsche's analysis so I am not entirely ignorant. I think basically the same sort of thing can be said about the paganism of the Roman Empire and its push toward heroic and violent acts.

So, one can see the virtue in a creed while noting the fact that it encourages violence. OK.

In the case of Islam, the Muslim prophet, whatever else one might say, united a divided region and brought real meaning into people's lives. Moreover, a brilliant civilization managed to organize itself around that religion. That is a magnificent achievement and the religion was important to the success of that achievement.

But saying that, it does not mean I should deny that Islam does encourage violence. It is a fact, just as it is a fact that the creed the Romans believed in encouraged violence. But, note: the Roman Empire achieved great things; the Greek city states achieved great things; the Muslim states achieved great things; etc., etc. And, Islam's encouragement to spread the Muslim rule by basically any means, including violence, is something that gives many Muslims great meaning in life. That is not something to be despised.

On the other hand, as a person who does not believe, much less believe in Islam, I am also allowed to say that Islam's violence does not work in our world where it is possible to destroy each other entirely.


Elliott Aron Green - 2/6/2007

Those who read French can read Georges Vajda on Islamic Judeophobia.

In Italian, there is the recent book by Carlo Panella: Il 'Complotto Ebraico' [Turin 2005]. Panella's book is recent and up to date. He goes back in time and points out that the notion of a "Jewish conspiracy" goes back to early Islam, to the Medina period. Later, Sunnis blamed the Shiite split on Jews. A few hundred years after that, Shiites blamed the split between Sevener Shiites and Twelver Shiites on Jews. So Muslims have a long history of scapegoating Jews and perceiving "Jewish conspiracies." Indeed, the predisposition to see a conspiracy behind everything is common among Muslims.

Bernard Lewis' book Semites and Anti-Semites has been blamed for being too soft on the Muslims.
Also see Bat Ye'or's books on Muslim oppression of non-Muslims, including Jews.


Elliott Aron Green - 2/6/2007

Those who read French can read Georges Vajda on Islamic Judeophobia.

In Italian, there is the recent book by Carlo Panella: Il 'Complotto Ebraico' [Turin 2005]. Panella's book is recent and up to date. He goes back in time and points out that the notion of a "Jewish conspiracy" goes back to early Islam, to the Medina period. Later, Sunnis blamed the Shiite split on Jews. A few hundred years after that, Shiites blamed the split between Sevener Shiites and Twelver Shiites on Jews. So Muslims have a long history of scapegoating Jews and perceiving "Jewish conspiracies." Indeed, the predisposition to see a conspiracy behind everything is common among Muslims.

Bernard Lewis' book Semites and Anti-Semites has been blamed for being too soft on the Muslims.
Also see Bat Ye'or's books on Muslim oppression of non-Muslims, including Jews.


Mike Schoenberg - 2/6/2007

Let's face it. Through out history violence of one people to another is a fact from the Greeks on till today. No country is innocent, look at the USA and their treatment of the Indians, Eastern Europe and the Jews, England and her empire. The list just goes on from one continent to another.


Elliott Aron Green - 2/6/2007

Tarik,
you are regrettably ill-informed about Arab collaboration with the Nazis during World War 2, particularly the collaboration in the Holocaust by Haj Amin el-Husseini, the British-appointed mufti of Jerusalem. In fact, most of the Arab-nationalist movement was pro-Nazi. Sadat and Nasser conspired to help the Germans conquer Egypt [on this see Sadat's own book, Revolt on the Nile, in French Revolte sur le Nile].
The Mufti Husseini urged Eastern European satellites of the Nazis to send Jewish children "to Poland" where they would be "under active supervision," in his words.


John Charles Crocker - 2/6/2007

"Now, I am not saying Islam is bad. In fact, I think Islam is a rather heroic faith."
You have made some variation of this statement several times. This statement is then followed by an argument about the inherently violent nature of Islam. You have thus far not said why you think it is heroic or even not bad about this faith. I would be interested to hear what specific positive thoughts you have about Islam. In what ways is it heroic? Why is it so interesting to you? Why do you not think it is a "bad" religion, given your opinion that it is inherently violent and oppressive? I look forward to you thoughts on this.


Elliott Aron Green - 2/6/2007

Maybe Chris Pettit & other defenders of Islam's kindness towards the kufar could urge their kind-hearted proteges to fulfill the Quranic verses that speak of divine assignment of the Holy Land to the Jews [5:20-22, inter alia] and of the Jews' return to their land [17:104].
Now, the Quran itself says that the Land belongs to the Jews, does it not? If so, why are the Arabs/Muslims fighting against the Jewish Return, also foretold in the Quran? Do Pettit and his comrades in arms want to quibble and split hairs about what the Quran meant?
Now, as far as Muslim tolerance towards ahl al-kitab is concerned, this was tolerance of dhimmis in a state of inferiority, subjection, regular pecuniary exploitation [payment of jizya, kharaj, and various irregular taxes, exactions, etc], humiliation [not to ride horses], inferior rights [the lesser worth of a dhimmi's testimony in court, etc]. Maybe Pettit can tell us that Prof Furnish made it all up. Maybe the Armenian genocide never happened. Maybe the Arabs/Muslims did not conquer the Land of Israel in the 7th century. Maybe dhimmis had full rights in court. Etc Etc. Or maybe Pettit et al. believe what they want to believe.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2007

Mr. Young,

The issue with Islam is not accurately presented by you. First, the treatment of Jews and Christians under Islam was not of any reverence in any sense of the word. It was one of contempt with sporadic outbreaks of violence and oppression. That is why the lands which, at one time, were basically Christian have essentially no more Christians. Perhaps you are not aware that North Africa was Christian, as was Egypt, as was Iraq, as was Turkey, Syria, Israel and Jordan.

In India, 80 million Hindus and Buddhists were massacred by Muslims - and this after the conquests. As historian Will Durant note: such were perhaps the bloodiest events in all recorded history.

I think that what can be said is that Islam has a mixed record in treating non-Muslims that are of the permitted infidel religions. But, there never was equality under Muslim rule. And toleration meant only being contemptuously tolerated.

As for quoting the Koran, that is a nonsense point. The Koran is the source material but theologians and the doctors of religion - ulema - have set the pattern for how Muslims treat others. And, in any event, quoting from the Koran invites the quotation of the enormous number of exhortations to kill the infidel. They far out number the peaceful versus. And, I might add, the traditional Islamic theological position was that the peaceful verses are abrogated by later, more hostile, versus. And, the chapter dedicated to the sword is among the last and, hence, the more important versus. So, if you want to argue for a peaceful Islam, do not start quoting the Koran as it will blow up in your face.

A more accurate picture emerges from serious historical studies. Do not limit your study of the Muslim regions to the views of apologists and Saidists. Read what other writers (e.g. Bernard Lewis, David Cook, Ignaz Goldhizer, Steven Runciman, Vahakn Dadrian, etc.) note, most especially with respect to the religio/political ideology which often comes to the surface in Islam. As explained by Bernard Lewis:

In the Muslim world view the basic division of mankind is into the House of Islam (Dār al-Islām) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb). The one consists of all those countries where the law of Islam prevails, that is to say, broadly, the Muslim Empire; the latter is the rest of the world. Just as there is only one God in heaven, so there can be only one sovereign and one law on earth. Ideally, the House of Islam is conceived as a single community, governed by a single state, headed by a single sovereign. This state must tolerate and protect those unbelievers who are brought by conquest under its rule, provided, of course, that they are not polytheists but followers of one of the permitted religions. The logic of Islamic law, however, does not recognized the permanent existence of any other polity outside Islam. In time, in the Muslim view, all mankind will accept Islam or submit to Islamic rule. In the meantime, it is a religious duty of Muslims to struggle until this end is accomplished.

The name given by the Muslim jurists to this struggle is jihād, an Arabic word meaning effort or striving. One who performs this duty is called mujāhid. The word occurs several times in the Qur'ān in the sense of making war against the unbelievers. In the early centuries of Islamic expansion, this was its normal meaning. Between the House of Islam and the House of War there was, according to the sharī‘a, the Holy Law as formulated by the classical jurists, a state of war religiously and legally obligatory, which could end only with the conversion or subjugation of all mankind. A treaty of peace between the Muslim state and a non-Muslim state was thus in theory juridically impossible. The war, which would end only with the universal triumph of Islam, could not be terminated; it could only be interrupted for reasons of necessity or of expediency by a truce. Such a truce, according to the jurists, could only be provisional. It should not exceed ten years and could, at any time, be repudiated unilaterally by the Muslims who, however, were obliged by Muslim law to give the other side due notice before resuming hostilities.


From The Muslim Discovery of Europe, by Bernard Lewis.

As explained by renowned Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406):

In the Muslim community, holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united (in Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them (religion and politics) at the same time.

The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs (in other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all. (Among them) royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, and not because they are under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people).


Here is what famed historian of Islam, Ignaz Goldhizer (d. 1921) (with Kaufmann Kohler), wrote:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

In my view, if Lewis, Goldhizer and Khaldun say it is so, it is most certainly so. If you do not believe them, according to Dadrian:

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]


From The History of the Armenian Genocide, by Vahakn Dadrian.

Now, you can, if you like, believe that a religion which, from its very inception, engaged in war with its prophet being a warrior, is peaceful and treats everyone else as equals. No serious historical study agrees.

Now, I am not saying Islam is bad. In fact, I think Islam is a rather heroic faith. But it is certainly not a peaceful or mild religion and, under Islamic rule, the other religions largely vanished. For those not considered Pagan, there was a life but such communities died a death of a thousand little cuts. For Pagans, the choice was always, convert or death. We owe it to the many tens of millions of dead Buddhists and Hindus to remember exactly how horribly the Muslims treated such people.

As for people of the book (i.e. of the permitted religions), being a protege (i.e. dhimmi) under Islam may or may not have been better than being an infidel in Christiandom. But, by today's standards, what Islamic rule offered to infidel is far worse than apartheid. And, in the end, the infidels under Islam became tiny remnant communities.

Lastly, you ask why all Muslims do not fly planes into buildings. That is irrelevant to the issue. The Islamic doctrine for spreading the faith is a communal, not an individual, endeavor. It is supposed to be led by a Caliph or imam, not a nut living in a cave. The issue to ponder is that in the modern world, there is no Caliph which has unleashed, as in prior periods of Islam, individual Jihadic activity on a wide scale. However, there has always been such activity.



John Charles Crocker - 2/5/2007

"I said to find a passage in the NEW TESTAMENT that valorizes violence in the same way that those passages on beheading do. You then proceed to cite the Old Testament."
Find me a Christian church that does not read from the Old Testament. The testaments lie side by side in the same cover. The Old Testament has long been and continues to be the favorite of fire and brimstone preachers and of those who want to preach intolerance.
Does Leviticus mean that Jews or the Christians that hold it to be the literal truth barbarians?

"And I took care in the article to say that only a small fraction of the world's Muslims really buy into the anti-Semitism entrenched in their faith."
but you say
"...but for many in the Muslim world this figure of evil is 'the Jew,'”
later you say
"If even a small percentage of the world’s 1.3 billion Muslims are influenced by such a belief...and all indications are that this is indeed the case..."
This I presume is what you are referring to above. This is not stating that only a small percentage believe a particular way it is used to build upon your earlier statement to bolster your argument for the seriousness of the threat.

A few fun quotes from the New Testament.
"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:34-39

"But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." Luke 22:36

"Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war. For there will be five in a house: there'll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone." Thomas 16


Charles S Young - 2/5/2007

We get agitated because you say antisemitism is "entrenched" in Islam, but with a different selection of quotes, tolerance, even reverence for Judaism is just as "entrenched."

We get agitated because you claim to only be singling out extremists, but then generalize to say Israel returning conquered areas will do nothing important.

We get excited when you say it is "bunk" that Muslims can find messages of tolerance in their faith, but then when pressed, acknowledge that yea, not all of them are like that.

And we get agitated when you quote violence in the Koran to prove its special savage nature, and contrast it to the New Testament. You specify the New Testament as a semantic trick because you know the old Testament is full of intolerance and violence. You are trying to avoid the problem that if advocacy of violence in the Koran inherently compromises that faith, then Jews and Christians are just as nasty.

"In my reply to you, I said to find a passage in the NEW TESTAMENT that valorizes violence in the same way that those passages on beheading do. You then proceed to cite the Old Testament."

I guess you're hoping people don't read the earlier post, which mentions there is no point to be made unless the old Testament is also pacifistic. But it isn't, so you tell people just to check the New Testament.

"slay both man and woman, infant and suckling."


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

Mr. Rahman,
You're saying that the most authoritative bio of your Prophet, as well as the Hadiths, are lies? Then you have a bigger problem than me.


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

Mr. Young,
As usual, folks on here take issue with things I did not say. In my reply to you, I said to find a passage in the NEW TESTAMENT that valorizes violence in the same way that those passages on beheading do. You then proceed to cite the Old Testament.
And I took care in the article to say that only a small fraction of the world's Muslims really buy into the anti-Semitism entrenched in their faith.
Again: I didn't write the Qur'an and I didn't write the bio of Islam's prophet. It never ceases to amaze me how agitated people get when I write articles that rely on the Islamic sources and simply report what they say.


Charles S Young - 2/5/2007

Furnish argues that violent edicts in the Koran insure that Islam is not peaceful, and that Islam is distinctly more violent than Christianity or Judaism.

Let's read what God tells the Chosen people to do to another tribe:

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" ....

"Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. ... And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past....And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal."

Will Furnishes next book be: "Zion: The Mirror of Mahdi?" No. Jews and Christians have nuance.


chris l pettit - 2/5/2007

I will second the notion that Prof. Furnish peddles his wares as an ideological pseudo-scholar to anyone ignorant enough to believe his one sided nonsense. Like it or not, Christianity, Islam...hell, even Buddhism have all been utilized to commit atrocities and promote violence...it is what power brokers , moral entrepreneurs, ideologues, and their "scholarly" supporters like Furnish do...stir up fundamentalism on all sides by being so ignorant, intolerant, and ideological that they will ignore even blatant contradictions and hypocrises in their invectives for the sake of publishing their hateful messages of ignorance. The fact that he supposedly has a PhD in Islamic History is appalling (given his ignorance of it and Islamic Jurisprudence, and inability to understand it in any critical, historical or sociological context).

Tim, I would love to hear your commentary on Judge Weeramantry's "Islamic Jurisprudence", Baderin's "Introduction to Human RIghts and Islamic Law", anything by Mohammed Kamali, Kurzman's "Liberal Islam", or dozens of other texts that make your claims that violence, etc is at the heart of Islamic thought and the basics of the religion and culture look like the horses*#t that it is. If you want to make the claim that Islam has been manipulated by moral entrepreneurs, fundamentalist extremists and power brokers, and swallowed by the ignorant masses over time to create a culture of intolerance, so be it...I may actually agree with you. But if you do that, lets expose your ignorance, intolerance, hypocrises and fundamentalism, the manipulation of "democracy" and Western liberalism by the Bushes, Blair's and Israel's of the world, the moral entrepreneurs of Western thought (Pat Robertson, the Catholic church, etc), the willing acceptance of this intolerance and ignorance by the Morlocks that make up our uneducated and ideologized citizenry that gives rise to a nearly identical state of intolerance. This sort of power struggle between your ignorance and intolerance on one side and the intolerance of the political elites of the other side is what causes things to get worse. The basic fact of the matter is that your claims about the violence and racism in Islam are just ignorant interpretations of legal doctrine (for the most part) that you are unable to examine critically or with a historical and sociological eye. You are no better than the fundamentalists that interpret the doctrine in the same way that you do. The fact that a) you are employed spewing your nonsense and b) anyone actually buys the nonsense that you regurgitate over and over again is truly frightening and speaks to the paucity of the American education system. You might want to take a course in critical thinking at some point...although I fear that you, as Daniel Pipes, are beyond all hope and are simply brick walls of ideological intolerance and ignorance that need to have their arguments destroyed and made an example of to prevent other more intelligent humans from being subjected to such garbage.

CP


Charles S Young - 2/5/2007

Mr. Furnish claims it is "bunk" to suggest Muslims can draw peaceful messages from Islam.

How do you explain the 1.3 billion Muslims who did not fly into the World Trade Center? And the 1.2 billion horrified by it? Are they not real Muslims? Are you appropriating the privilege of defining what the religion is?

While you focus on ugly passages in the Koran, the fact is, the practice of most Muslims is peaceful and tolerant. If the Koran had triple the number of beheading passages, there are still plenty of kind and generous sentiments for people to use to construct their own practice of Islam.

"find me a passage in the New Testament that does likewise."

Nice slight of hand, because you know very well that the Old Testament is full of graphically violent sentiments. So as adherents of the Old Testament, are Jews as inherently violent as Muslims? Is the Old Testament no longer part of Christianity? That was really sleazy, Mr. Furnish.

You have put out a challenge for dueling quotes. Okay.

Quran 4:94:

"Do not say to one who offers you peace, 'You are not a believer,' seeking the spoils of this life. For God has abundant treasure. You used to be like them, after all, and then God blessed you."

Quran 5:69

"Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness--their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow."

It is not "bunk" to say the Koran has plenty of peaceful and tolerant sentiments for people to base their lives on. To say otherwise is to operate on the level of Fox punditry, not scholarship.

Re: beheading unbelievers. The usual interpretation is that unbelievers refers to Pagans/polytheists. This does not include Jews or Christians, who believe in the same God as Muslims, and are reverently referred to as recipients of "previous revelations." Do you dispute this? If not, that considerably reduces the scope of Koranic intolerance.

It is one thing to choose to specialize in Mahdi extremists, and quite another to claim they characterize the real Islam. There are many Islams.

You have not responded to my fundamental point: Israeli conquests fuel extremism, therefore obeying international law and returning conquered lands would lessen tensions considerably.

You might also address how Sadat managed to overcome his inner savage and sign a peace treaty. That was a
"political or territorial concessions on the part of the Israelis" that dramatically reduced "rancor."

A fun dueling quote from Deuteronomy, where God has babies killed:

"Deuteronomy 2:31 And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz.
And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people.
And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain:"

If we follow Mr. Furnish's methodology, this passage explains why Israelis kill Palestinian children.


tarikur Rahman - 2/5/2007

This is another Islamophobic article.

If Muslims hated the Jews from begining and not because of zionist movement. Then why most of Jews "golden ages" were under the Muslims. Jews lived happily under Muslims Moor. Throughout history before zionist movement, Muslims treated Jews like every other group of people, not differently.

The best evidence is that, during World War 2, just before the zionist movement. The Muslim countries were on the allied side to stop the Nazi. Egypt, Tunisa, Libya, Morroco, Indians Muslims were all soldiers of Allied force. All Muslims countries were on Allied saide. Why? Should all the Muslims coutries should team with Nazi, to get rid of the Jews?


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

Mr. Young,
While you make some good points, I take issue with the canard that "like Christianity, you can use Islam to justify what you want." That is frankly, sir, bunk, and is almost always written or uttered by someone who has never read the Qur'an (or usually the entire Bible)--and if you are the exception, I'll gladly apologize. Here's a perfect example: the Qur'an recommends beheading for unbelievers (Surah Muhammad:3,4 and Surat al-Anfal:12) and those verses has throughout Islamic history been used to rationalize beheadings. Uh, find me a passage in the New Testament that does likewise.


Charles S Young - 2/5/2007

Dr. Furnish argues that antisemitism is integral to Islam, therefore ending the Israeli occupation of the West Bank will have little effect on lessening it.

I doubt Dr. Furnish would dispute that there are plenty of passages from the Koran or Hadith that encourage tolerance of Jews and other non-Muslims. In fact, as fellow children of Abraham, Jews and Christians have places of reverence in Islam. This is part of why Islam's record of tolerance of Jews is far better than Europe's.

Since there are different strands of Islam, people can find support for either fellowship or antisemitism. There are endless examples of both, something Furnish acknowledges when referring to a "small percentage" of Muslims who consider Jews Satanic.

Like Christianity, you can use Islam to justify what you want, either tolerance of belligerence.

So the question to ask about the upsurge in Islamic extremism is not, "just how antisemitic is Islam?" But rather, why have more turned to the intolerant passages rather than the peaceful?

Here, Israeli policies come in to play. Time and again, the most prominent beef with Israel is expulsion of Palestinians. This is especially true among moderates who have no truck with the Satanic nonsense.

If you let Muslims speak for themselves, then Israeli treatment of Palestinians is a top issue. To downplay this, Furnish takes the Orientalist approach of saying, "no, no, I know what's really in their hearts, and it's antisemitism, not sympathy for the displaced." (My interpretation of Furnish, not his words.)

This denies the history that encouraged extremism.

It is no coincidence that Arab antisemitism rose considerably in the 20th Century, compared to other eras. It coincides with the loss of land brought about by the Jewish state. It takes powerful minds to obscure the obvious.

Dispossession is a transformative experience, just like the Pograms of the Tsar. If Israel were to end occupation of the West Bank, it would revolutionize the situation.

And even if you believe it would not be effective, it is still the thing to do because land should not be annexed by force, and virtually the entire UN demands the return of seized land.


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

You are most certainly correct.


Ralph E. Luker - 2/5/2007

Why, Ms. Paul, don't you rise above the name-calling temptation? It is very childish.


Lorraine Paul - 2/5/2007

Rise above it, Tim I'm sure you have been insulted by others much more qualified to do it than I am.


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

Ms. Paul,
Sticks and stones....but while I may qualify as a "silly, insignificant person" I really find it a hard sell that Muhammad and the Qur'an qualify as such.


Lorraine Paul - 2/5/2007

One twirp quoting other twirps!


Tim R. Furnish - 2/5/2007

"Zac,"
Not sure about what a sane person would think, but a reasonably educated and intelligent one would, perhaps, check my well-cited sources: that bio of Muhammad, as well as the relevant Hadith and Qur'an cites. And they say exactly what I wrote.


zacd d diazue - 2/5/2007

Mr. Furnish
Do you think that a sane person would believe what you write just because it's on the internet?

Grow up and talk about facts. This is not Hollywood. The Zionist movement was designed to steal lands from the Palestinians. The only reason America issupporting these crimes is because they have done the same and stole the land from the natives.

Zac