Monday, 16 November 2015

The Religion of Peace Fights Back - Or Does it?

There isn't a lot to say on the Paris attacks that hasn't been said already. Another 130 lives lost to the religion of peace, and the worst act of violence in France since the end of World War 2.

The immediate aftermath of the Paris attacks provided fairly slim pickings for those of us who were looking out for the usual idiotic platitudes about the religion of peace, and the claims that it is somehow misunderstood by a tiny number of Muslims, who take a few passages of the Qu'ran out of context and blacken the name of an otherwise peaceful creed.

Piers Morgan was first out of the traps with his absurd suggestion that they were not 'real Muslims.' As though the dough faced loudmouth was somehow better placed to determine what constitutes true Islam than Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has a PhD in Islamic studies.

Then the Islam PR machine got into gear, with Qanta Ahmed in the Spectator describing the attacks as 'an act of war against Islam.' An absurd 'black is white' statement and frankly insulting to the scores of people who died in Paris for whom, like many others senselessly slaughtered throughout the world, the last words they heard on earth would have been "Allahu Akbar."

Meanwhile the twits on Twitter, so beloved of people who like to get a slogan across without having to back it up with any substance, have made #notinmyname the hashtag for 'moderate Muslims.' So moderate it seems that they have missed the point that jihad was never done in their name. It is done, as many Parisians found out on Friday in the name of Allah.

And better late than never, Reuters published this on Sunday night. The predictable grim warnings of an 'Islamophobic backlash' and the preparations for cries of persecution and discrimination against Muslims. As though they are somehow the victims here.

The biggest fraud of the moment though seems to be the open letter to al-Baghdadi, published late last month and signed by an array of Islamic scholars. The letter is the brain child of Abdallah Bin Bayyah, a prominent Islamic scholar and it does indeed condemn IS and their actions. There are however, a few problems.

At 18 pages and heavy with references to the Qu'ran and the Hadiths, it's not light reading. At this stage I have only skimmed it but a few things stand out:

Regarding the need to read the whole Quran and not just cherry pick parts of it the "Moderate" Muslims Scholars claim that the reason behind this is that everything in the Qur’an is the truth, and everything in authentic Hadith is Divinely inspired, so it is not permissible to ignore any part of it.

Pretty definitive. Not all that moderate. So presumably including this part

Quran 2.191-193 said:
"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing...
but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)"


This literalism is exactly the problem with Islam.

But the real give away comes when they cite this often misused quote:

Quran 5.32 said:
‘Because of that, We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, or for corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers have already come to them with clear proofs, but after that many of them still commit excesses in the land .’
But Muslims are not the Children of Israel. Jews are. So this passage is merely saying that Jews are prohibited from killing anyone.

They acknowledge quite openly the desire for a Caliphate

There is agreement (ittifaq) among scholars that a caliphate is an obligation upon the Ummah. The Ummah has lacked a caliphate since 1924 CE.

Their objection to slavery appears to be mostly regarding the lewdness of taking sex slaves, and the bad image it will give Islam, ending as it does with the warning that

You bear the responsibility of this great crime and all the reactions which this may lead to against all Muslims.

Their section on hudud, the sadists charter for flogging, mutilating, stoning and beheading those who offend Islam begins not with, as you might hope, an unequivocal statement that while this may have been acceptable in 7th century Arabia, it is not acceptable anywhere today. Instead they write:

Hudud punishments are fixed in the Qur’an and Hadith and are unquestionably obligatory in Islamic Law.
They go on to point out that a high burden of proof is needed.


So at first glance it seems like more of the same duplicity (taqiyya, permitted by the Quran) and lame defence of a fundamentally violent and intolerant religion. And of course at the length and tone of this, few people will ever read it thoroughly. But the likes and the shares on Facebook (tracked on the site) will probably help the image of Islam, and provide a great reply to anyone looking to show how moderate Muslims do condemn IS.

Not that I imagine these scholars secretly support IS or it's methods, they probably don't. But they do not offer an alternative, peaceful, secular interpretation of Islam. They appear mostly to disagree on the means, not the end, and the finer points of it's application rather than the fundamental idea behind it.

They don't disown the principle of jihad, or put any clear distance between themselves and the brutal hudud punishments. They don't offer a reformed, moderate Islam compatible with life in a 21st century secular democracy. They appear to be offering first and foremost advice on public relations.

A long way short of anything that would convince me that the people who chose to slaughter scores of innocent men and women in Paris on Friday are just some loony fringe who have taken a few passages out of context.

On the plus side all of this is a lot more subdued than we have become accustomed to, and indeed than I was expecting. Poland has said no more migrants. France closed it's borders immediately. No major political figure has yet visited a Mosque. Perhaps Europe is finally starting to stir out of the deep and deadly slumber from which it has been so reluctant to awake.