Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Spinning Muhammad (Part 3)

The third and final part of Rageh Omaar's documentary series "The Life Muhammad" (UK readers watch here) was the most outright deceptive (and selective) of the lot. In fact, it was so full of falsehoods that it's difficult to know where to start.

The first major thing that leapt out at me was when Omaar discusses Muhammad's marriage to nine-year-old Aisha, and makes out that her age can reasonably be disputed depending on who you ask, and that she could just as easily have been 16.

It's certainly true that some people will tell you that Aisha was a lot older than nine, but this claim flies completely in the face of the Islamic textual evidence. Five of the six Sahih Sittah (the most revered hadith collections) contain explicit testimonies that Aisha was nine at the time Muhammad consummated his marriage with her. Below is but one example from each collection, although there are many similar traditions to choose from:

Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old. (Bukhari v.5, b.58, no.236)

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported that Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married her when she was seven years old, and he was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he (the Holy Prophet) died she was eighteen years old. (Muslim b.8, no.3311)

Aisha said: The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) married me when I was seven years old. The narrator Sulaiman said: Or six years. He had intercourse with me when I was nine years old. (Abu Dawud no.2116)

When Hadrat Aisha passed nine years of marriage life, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell in mortal sickness… ‘A’isha was eighteen years of age at the time when the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) passed away and she remained a widow for forty-eight years till she died at the age of sixty-seven. (Nasai)

1877. Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, "The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) married ‘A’isha while she was a seven years [sic] old girl and took him [sic] to his house as a bride when she was nine years old and he parted with her (after his demise) when she was eighteen years old." (Ibn Majah)

Other important Islamic historical sources, including the biographies of Ibn Hisham, Tabari and Ibn Kathir also state explicitly that Aisha was nine. There is no evidence anywhere that she was older, except for circumstantial evidence which largely involves focusing on apparent timeline discrepancies, while ignoring every single authoritative text that says in black and white that she was nine. Omaar has thus created a "dispute" where there is none.

He does this again when it comes to Muhammad's multiple marriages. He allows Karen Armstrong to claim - again with no evidence at all - that the Prophet of Islam's polygamous marriages were not borne of lust, but were purely marriages of political convenience. This once again ignores what the most respected Muslim sources on Muhammad's life actually say. Muhammad resolved to marry his adopted son's wife, for example (who was known for being very beautiful), after accidentally walking in on her in a state of undress, which in the words of the famous Muslim historian Tabari "excited the admiration of the Messenger of God". (The History of al-Tabari, v.8, p.2)

Another wife, Safiyya bint Huyayy, was taken by Muhammad as a war captive after his attack on the Jewish oasis of Khaybar, and chosen specifically for her beauty:

We arrived at Khaibar, and when Allah helped His Apostle to open the fort, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtaq whose husband had been killed while she was a bride, was mentioned to Allah's Apostle. The Prophet selected her for himself, and set out with her, and when we reached a place called Sidd-as-Sahba,' Safiya became clean from her menses then Allah's Apostle married her. (Bukhari v.5, b.59, no.522)

What any of this had to do with political or tribal calculations is anyone's guess.

One of the most egregious falsehoods in the entire series comes when Omaar describes Muhammad's takeover of Mecca as a wonderfully peaceful event, during which he declared a general amnesty and forgave every single one of his enemies. As the useful website Religion of Peace put it so superbly: "If the fact that an entire city wasn’t put to the sword after being conquered by a man against whom it did not want to fight is proof of forgiveness, then we would have to say that the bar is being set quite low."

In any case, Muhammad actually ordered the assassination of a number of his enemies upon taking control of Mecca, although not all the murders were eventually carried out. The unfortunate souls who were indeed murdered included Abdullah Khatal, an apostate, and one of his slave girls, as well as the Jews Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan, both of whom were killed (as was Abdullah's slave girl) for the crime of "insulting" Muhammad by writing satirical verses.

Omaar also omits all mention of the way that, following his conquest of Mecca, Muhammad subdued the rest of Arabia by imposing Islam upon all the remaining tribes by force. One tribe in Yemen was told, "Break them (i.e. the arrows) and testify that None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, or else I will chop off your neck." (Bukhari v.5, b.59, no.643) Muhammad sent his most fearsome warrior, Khalid bin Walid, to the Banu Harith tribe, and "ordered him to invite them to Islam for three days before he fought them. If they were to respond and submit, he was to teach them the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Prophet, and the requirements of Islam. If they should decline, then he was to fight them." (Tabari v.9, p82)

You get the picture. Overall, non-Muslims have very little to learn from this series of documentaries, except that Muhammad was always and everywhere a victim, and managed to convince the whole of Arabia to convert to Islam simply by being so wonderful. I don't know how many people will buy it, but for those who felt unsure what to believe during and after watching the three episodes, I hope my analyses of some of their contents have been useful and instructive.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Taking Back The Fight

I condemn this monster

There are, unfortunately, those for whom the massacre of almost 100 innocent people in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik was not an occasion to mourn this tragic loss of life, but an opportunity for political point-scoring and smear-mongering.

Fortunately, there are also those among us who will not be cowed by this insane and willfully dishonest chest-thumping, and are sticking to their principles and contributing to the debate in positive ways.

At his highly readable blog, Daniel Greenfield debunks 6 popular myths about Breivik, including the canard that he is a "Christian fundamentalist" (his own words, as articulated in his 1,500-page manifesto, demonstrate that he is not a particularly religious person), and that he "hates Muslims" (he was in fact willing to make destructive alliances with them that would facilitate the re-establishment of a global Islamic caliphate), among others.

At Humans Events, Robert Spencer hits back at those who have attempted to blame him personally, along with other anti-jihad freedom fighters, for Breivik's massacre. Spencer observes:

The logic here is absurd, albeit oft-used on the Left. Just as the deranged Jared Loughner ’s shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was initially blamed on Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, so now the Left is using Breivik to try to discredit and silence the entire anti-jihad movement, as if this psychopath’s murders prove that his political proclivities are lethal in themselves. This would be like saying that no one can question Western policies vis-à-vis the Islamic world, for to do so would make one responsible for the 17,000 deadly jihad attacks that Muslims have committed worldwide since 9/11. It would be like saying that the Beatles were responsible for the Charles Manson murders because he thought he heard exhortations to kill in their songs, or that Jodie Foster was responsible for the shooting of Ronald Reagan because in John Hinckley’s befogged mind he thought it would impress her.

The intent of this campaign is clear. The scholars, politicians and activists who have spoken out about the threat to human rights and constitutional principles that jihad and Islamization pose have never advocated any kind of violence or illegal activity. By tarring them with the murders of Anders Breivik, the enemies of freedom hope to quash all resistance to the advance of Islamic supremacism in the West.

And on the BBC last night, EDL leader Stephen Lennon impressively demolished Jeremy Paxman's spiteful attempts to link Breivik to his organisation, reiterating the group's opposition to such barbaric behaviour.

From a personal angle, I feel it is important to add my own sadness that a man who expounded some views with which I wholeheartedly agree could commit such an appalling act of mass murder in service of them. There may be those in the anti-jihad movement who, understandably, feel that Anders Breivik's actions have set our cause back ten years, that his legacy will make it that much harder to spread the message of the counter-jihad resistance around the Western world. While I sympathise, I can vouch nevertheless that I will not give up the struggle. I will continue to fight the good fight. I will continue to defend my principles and my heritage against the encroachment of Islamic totalitarianism - not with bombs and bullets as Breivik did, but with the power of the word, and of knowledge. With the power of freedom and equality, dignity and courage.

We fight this war on an ideological front. We don't know for certain that we will win, but we believe. We fight because evil must be fought wherever it is found, because fighting is the only option for the civilised. Anders Behring Breivik has done some damage to our cause, but it is far from terminal.

The future is ours for the taking.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Sharia In The Land Of Oz

The progressive and civilised nature of sharia law is on display again, this time emanating from, of all places, Australia, where a soon-to-be-published report, summarised by The Australian, will make clear that "Sharia law has become a shadow legal system...endorsing polygamous and underage marriages that are outlawed under the Marriage Act."

A system of "legal pluralism" based on sharia law "abounds" in Australia, according to new research by legal academics Ann Black and Kerrie Sadiq. The study finds that not all Muslims are registering their marriages and some are relying on religious ceremonies to validate unions that breach the Marriage Act.

This includes "polygynist marriages", in which a man takes multiple wives, and marriages where one party is under the lawful marriage age.

Even worse:

The latest research has found that while polygamy is unlawful, mainstream law accommodates men who arrive in Australia with multiple wives and gives some legal standing to multiple partnerships that originate in Australia.

"Valid Muslim polygynist marriages, lawfully entered into overseas, are recognised, with second and third wives and their children able to claim welfare and other benefits," they write.

Changes to the Family Law Act in 2008 meant that polygamous religious marriages entered into in Australia could also be recognised as de facto marriages. "It means a second wife can be validly married under Islamic law . . . and be a defacto wife under Australian law with the same legal entitlements as any other de facto relationship," they write.

The Australian concession to sharia law - a foreign system of totalitarian governance that seeks to destroy the values upon which the country was built - is disturbing, but not surprising. After all, all the precedents for it have already been set here in Britain, the land of many Aussies' ancestors.

Sharia operating as a shadow legal system? Check.

Muslims not registering their marriages, thus rendering them illegal under the laws of their host country? Check.

Polygamy? Check.

Child marriage? Check. ("The practice [of forced marriage] affects mainly young Asian [read "Muslim"] women, with more than a third of cases involving those aged under 18. One in six victims are under 16.")

Polygamous families being given benefits despite their illegality under national secular law? Check.

In related news Down Under, two Muslims have been arrested for whipping a recent convert to Islam 40 times with a piece of electrical cable as a sharia-sanctioned punishment for drinking alcohol.

The article at The Australian tries to put a brave face on things with the following nugget:

In their article, associate professor Sadiq and Ms Black note that research on Islamic marriage found in 2008 that 90 per cent of Muslims did not want to change Australian law.

While this figure sounds encouraging - it's better than over here, anyway - it's still worth pointing out that if "only" 10% of Australian Muslims want to replace Australian law with sharia, that still amounts, according to census figures, to around 37,000 Muslims who crave fascism and sedition (total population = 21,766,711; 1.7% of whom are Muslims = 370,034; 10% of whom want sharia law = 37,003).

All of which makes plain why anti-sharia measures of the sort which are being proposed in several US states today are needed just as urgently in Australia as anywhere else.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Islamic Human Rights Abuse In Iran

Youcef Nadarkhani

The former pastor of a network of Christian churches in Iran could face execution by the state for apostasy.

Youcef Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht on October 13, 2009 while attempting to register his church after protesting compulsory Islamic religious instruction in Iranian public schools. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a human rights group, reports that he was originally charged with protesting; however, the charges against the 32-year-old were later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims.

According to the official indictment put forward to the Iranian Supreme Court, the only way Mr Nadarkhani can now avoid his sentence is if he can prove that he was never actually a Muslim - a Herculean task, since he was apparently born into a Muslim family, and Islamic tradition has always held - as delineated by Muhammad himself - that every human being is born a Muslim, and only turned "astray" to other religions by their parents later in life.

As a US Department of State spokeswoman pointed out:

"He is just one of thousands who face persecution for their religious beliefs in Iran, including the seven leaders of the Baha’i community whose imprisonment was increased to 20 years for practicing their faith and hundreds of Sufis who have been flogged in public because of their beliefs."

Indeed. Back in February, a joint statement by six international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, condemned the widespread use of political executions in Iran, which frequently involve more than a passing religious dimension. The press release notes that "At least eight of those executed in January were political prisoners, convicted of 'enmity against God' (moharebeh) for participating in demonstrations, or for their alleged links to opposition groups."

Also, "The recent executions also raise fears for the lives of two men, Saeed Malekpour and Vahid Asghari, believed to have been sentenced to death by Revolutionary Courts following separate unfair trials in which they were accused of 'spreading corruption on earth.'"

And: "On January 26 authorities announced that Sayed Ali Gharabat had been executed for 'spreading corruption' and 'apostasy' in Karoun Prison, Ahvaz, after he, according to authorities, falsely claimed to have communicated with the Twelfth Imam. Twelver Shi’a Muslims believe that the Twelfth Imam is currently in hiding and will return to earth to bring about justice."

This specific charge, of "spreading corruption in the land", which is taken directly from Qur'an 5:33 (which also prescribes the penalty of crucifixion, amputation or banishment), is nothing new. Eliz Sanasarian notes in her landmark book Religious Minorities in Iran that the exact same phrase was used to justify the execution of the Jewish businessman Habib Elghanian by the Khomeini regime in 1979, as well as during the persecution of the Bahai's throughout that era.

The press release concludes with the following recommendations:

To put an end to this killing spree, other nations should demand that Iran immediately end these executions and respect its obligations under international law, Shirin Ebadi and the six human rights organizations said.

Iran has made consistent efforts to obstruct scrutiny of the situation in the country by international human rights mechanisms over the past five years. In light of that record, Shirin Ebadi and the organizations called on other nations to take advantage of the forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council to appoint a special envoy of the UN Secretary-General with a mandate to investigate and report on human rights conditions in Iran.

I certainly hope they oblige, but if the past record is anything to go by, we cannot trust the UNHRC to do anything other than ignore the genuine human rights abuses committed by Islamic regimes. In any case, these blatant acts of barbarity should be condemned by every individual in the free world - openly, noisily and insistently.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Spinning Muhammad (Part 2)

Last night saw the broadcast of the second part of Rageh Omaar's documentary series "The Life of Muhammad" (UK viewers can watch here). Due the fact that it dealt almost exclusively with Muhammad's relations with his non-Muslim neighbours, it was perhaps even more prone to apologetic presentation of Muhammad's deeds than was the first episode.

The thing that most stands out about this episode, as with the one before it, is the way that Muhammad is always presented as the victim. According to Omaar, none of the confrontations he got himself into with the Quraysh or the Jewish tribes of Medina were of his own making - they were always caused by his neighbours attacking him and rejecting his message for no apparent reason. Inconvenient facts such as the Prophet's political assassinations of Jewish leaders on the pretext that they insulted him never get a mention.

I also thought there was an extremely ironic and unintentionally revealing moment about half way into the programme when a segment with Robert Spencer, in which he mentions Muhammad's dictum "War is deceit" (Bukhari v.4, b.56, no.3030, and others), is immediately followed by Tariq Ramadan claiming that jihad is only defensive in nature, without mentioning the offensive variety of jihad mandated by Qur'an 9:29 and reiterated by Islamic scholars and jurists throughout the centuries - an omission that is obviously calculated, deliberate and, above all, deceitful. I doubt that Omaar realised the irony.

The show devotes a small amount of time near the end to the massacre of the Banu Qurayza, who are again presented as malicious fiends who sided with Muhammad's enemies. In fact, their only crime was to remain neutral in a war that had nothing to do with them. The Prophet's biographer Ibn Ishaq recounts how the leader of the Qurazya tried his best to refuse the Quraysh's offers, but after much "wheedling" eventually agreed to what was essentially a neutrality pact:

The enemy of God Huyayy b. Akhtab al-Nadri [of the Quraysh] went out to Ka'b b. Asad al-Qurazi [of the Qurayza] who had made a treaty with the apostle. When Ka'b heard of Huyayy's coming he shut the door of his fort in his face, and when he asked permission to enter he refused to see him, saying that he was a man of ill omen and that he himself was in a treaty with Muhammad and did not intend to go back on his word because he had always found him loyal and faithful. Then Huyayy accused him of shutting him out because he was unwilling to let him eat his corn. This so enraged him that he opened his door. He said, 'Good heavens, Ka'b, I have brought you immortal fame and a great army. I have come with Quraysh with their leaders and chiefs which I have halted where the torrent-beds of Ruma meet; and Ghatafan with their leaders and chiefs which I have halted in Dhanab Naqma towards Uhud. They have made a firm agreement and promised me that they will not depart until we have made an end of Muhammad and his men.' Ka'b said: 'By God, you have brought me immortal shame and an empty cloud which had shed its water while it thunders and lightens with nothing in it. Woe to you Huyayy leave me as I am, for I have always found him loyal and faithful.' Huyayy kept on wheedling Ka'b until at last he gave way in giving him a solemn promise that if Quraysh and Ghatafan returned without having killed Muhammad he would enter his fort with him and await his fate. (p.453)

Muhammad's punishment of the tribe, which involved beheading up to 900 men and taking their wives and children as prisoners, is notably described by Omaar as a "horrific act of brutality" - but he immediately qualifies this statement by adding that the incident must be viewed in light of its historical context.

Sorry, but that won't wash. First of all, such a horrible slaughter is completely unbefitting of a Prophet of God - and indeed, of the God Himself - at any time. Secondly, Muhammad is viewed by all Muslims as al-insan al-kamil: "the Perfect Man". The Qur'an describes him as an "excellent example" of conduct for Muslims to follow (33:21), and Muslims are encouraged to emulate everything he did. The implications in this case are obvious and disturbing. Thirdly, while the Banu Qurayza were not massacred "just because they were Jews", as such - as the programme takes particular care to point out - Muhammad's hostile relationship with the Jews of Medina did go on to become one of the primary foundations of Muslim hatred of Jews in the centuries following Muhammad's death. For example, the ninth-century Iraqi polymath al-Jahiz noted that one of the main reasons the Muslims of that time and place hated Jews more than they hated Christians was because:

The Jews were the neighbours of the Muslims in Medina and other places...When the [Muslim] Emigrants [from Mecca] became the neighbours of the Jews [in Medina]...the Jews began to envy the Muslims the blessings of their new faith, and the union which resulted after dissension. They proceeded to undermine the belief of our [i.e. the Muslim] masses, and to lead them astray. They aided our enemies and those envious of us. From mere misleading speech and stinging words they plunged into an open declaration of enmity, so that the Muslims mobilised their forces, exerting themselves morally and materially to banish the Jews and destroy them. Their strife became long-drawn and widespread, so that it worked itself up into a rage, and created yet greater animosity and more intensified rancor...

Al-Jahiz then identifies as the "most potent cause" of Islamic antisemitism, the following verse from the Qur'an: "Strongest among men in enmity to the believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans...” (5:82) This leads us on, finally, to the programme's general depiction of Islamic antisemitism, which is completely divested of its Qur'anic dimension, and attributed solely to the modern dispute over Jerusalem, which in time-honoured BBC fashion is referred to as "the third holiest city in Islam", without ever being referred to as THE holiest city in Judaism. The statement by a British Muslim propagandist that there was a "Jewish Golden Age" in Muslim Spain is also allowed to pass completely unchallenged, when in fact thousands of Jews were murdered in pogroms during this period in 1013 and 1066 AD.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Former EU Commissioner: "No Future For Jews In Holland"

Former European Union Commissioner Frits Bolkenstein said that Jews have no future in the Netherlands and recommended that they emigrate to the US or Israel, Dutch magazine Elsevier reported on Tuesday.

According to a book on Dutch Judaism, released this week, Bolkestein, former leader of the VVD party, said that due to antisemitism amongst young Moroccans (i.e Muslims) Jews who look like Jews - those who wear kippahs or payot - should leave Holland for their own safety.

The former politician added that the many Arab (i.e. Muslim) television channels in the Netherlands contribute to the spread of antisemitism. He said he has no confidence in proposed measures to combat anti-Jewish sentiment.

Geert Wilders, who visited Israel this week, responded that "Jews shouldn't emigrate, anti-Semitic Moroccans should."

Friday, 15 July 2011

It's All In The Numbers

It's very easy to give a misleading impression in the media. Most often, this is done not by altering or inventing the facts, but by simply omitting the ones that you don't want people to see.

Veteran smear-merchant Karl Vick does this in his blog post published at the TIME website yesterday. He titles the post "Poll Finds Palestinians Disenchanted with Hamas, Iran and the Peace Process". He goes on to describe a new face-to-face poll - conducted in Arabic - of 1,010 Palestinians just published by Bill Clinton's former pollster Stan Greenberg, providing, among others, the following findings of the study:

  • "Hamas, disapproved of by two of three, including in Gaza, where it has ruled since 2007"
  • "Iran, which 77 percent of Palestinians see negatively, an uptick in villainy likely attributable to its role in suppressing the Arab Spring uprising in neighboring Syria, if not the demands of its own people after stealing the last election."
  • "Most also oppose firing rockets into Israeli cities, and call the murder of a settler family in Itamar 'wrong.'"
  • "And by two to one, Palestinians favor ending Israel's 44-year military occupation through negotiations rather than by violent resistance."
Vick even describes as the "most striking finding" of the poll...the "Palestinians' focus on daily life".

Apparently not considered by Vick to be striking or even noteworthy findings are the following, pulled from a much more balanced summary of the survey at the Jerusalem Post, which he never even mentions:

Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem, 62% supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage, and 53% were in favor or teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools.

When given a quote from the Hamas Charter about the need for battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80% agreed. Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the charter (and a hadith, or tradition ascribed to the prophet Muhammad) about the need to kill Jews hiding behind stones and trees.

But if you only listen to Vick, the "most striking" thing about this study is the Palestinians' views on unemployment, followed closely by their "disapproval" of Hamas (but not, apparently, its hateful and pro-genocidal Charter) and that group's particular methods for obtaining the same desired outcome: the destruction of Israel. After all, the poll also revealed that while the majority of Palestinians disapprove of a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a majority (66%) said that the "real goal should be to start with a two-state solution but then move to it all being one Palestinian state."

Meaning there would be no more Israel - merely an Arab State governed by Muslims with Jews as dhimmi subjects.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Spinning Muhammad (Part 1)

This past Monday (11th July) saw the broadcast of the first episode in a three-part series for the BBC entitled "The Life of Muhammad". UK readers who missed it will be able to watch the first part in its entirety here.

As could be expected, the documentary, presented by Al Jazeera's Rageh Omaar, mostly shied away from any critical analysis of Muhammad's life and deeds, giving brief lip-service to some critical views, and giving far too much airtime to the woeful Karen Armstrong (although there were a couple of cameos from the exceptional Robert Spencer).

The programme contained many dubious claims and misrepresentations of the sources, and chief among these was the theme, peddled throughout the last 15 to 20 minutes, that Muhammad was "persecuted" by his Meccan tribe, the Quraysh, simply for preaching Islam peacefully.

But is this presentation really accurate?

Muhammad began publicly preaching Islam in Mecca in around 613 AD. For many years he faced frustration as his own tribe, the Quraysh, rejected and mocked him. He had a small band of followers who became Muslims, but most of the Meccans were quite happy to continue praying to their pagan goddesses. Although Muslims frequently assert that Muhammad and his men were persecuted by the Quraysh simply for being Muslims, the Prophet's earliest and most trusted biographer Ibn Ishaq writes that the Meccans only began to seriously oppose Muhammad after he started insulting their gods and attacking their heritage:

When the apostle openly displayed Islam as God ordered him, his people did not withdraw or turn against him, so far as I have heard, until he spoke disparagingly of their gods. When he did that, they took great offence and resolved unanimously to treat him as an enemy...he would not yield to them and withdrew from them and insulted their gods... (The Life of Muhammad, p.118)

One early Muslim narrator remarked:

“They [the Quraysh] said that they had never known anything like the trouble they had endured from this fellow; he had declared their mode of life foolish, insulted their forefathers, reviled their religion, divided the community, and cursed their gods. What they had borne was past all bearing, or words to that effect.” (pp.130-131)

The Quraysh tried on several occasions to negotiate an amicable resolution to the troubles:

“[Quraysh leader] Abu Sufyan and sundry other notables went to Abu Talib [Muhammad's uncle] and said: '...You know the trouble that exists between us and your nephew, so call him and let us make an agreement that he will leave us alone and we will leave him alone; let him have his religion and we will have ours.'” (pp.191-92)

Muhammad consistently declined a relationship of mutual respect, demanding that the Quraysh convert to Islam. (Ibid.)

Omaar claims in the show that the Muslims suffered appallingly at the hands of the Quraysh, suffering everything from torture with hot coals to death by stabbing. Where he gets this information from is something of a mystery, however. Indeed, the hadith record that the "worst thing" the Meccans ever did to Muhammad was as follows:

"While Allah's Apostle was praying in the courtyard of the ka'ba, 'Uqba bin Abi Mu'ait came and seized Allah's Apostle by the shoulder and twisted his garment round his neck and throttled him severely. Abu Bakr came and seized 'Uqba's shoulder and threw him away from Allah's Apostle and said, "Would you kill a man because he says: 'My Lord is Allah,' and has come to you with clear Signs from your Lord?" (Bukhari v.6, b.60, no.339)

An attempted throttling isn't exactly a friendly gesture, but it is far from the exaggerated tales that Rageh Omaar spins. Ibn Ishaq does record an incident in which a Muslim was mocked and dragged through the streets by his beard, but even so, the extent of the "persecution" the Muslims actually suffered is vastly overstated - especially in light of the fact that where tensions did arise between the Muslims and the Quraysh, they were primarily caused not by the mere existence of the Muslims, but by Muhammad's repeated insults towards his tribe's religion and traditions.

Disproving the claims of violent persecution and passive "martyrdom" on the Muslims' part is another story recorded by Ibn Ishaq. Some Muslims were praying when they were interrupted by a group of pagans, and the two groups began arguing. At this point, one of the Muslims struck a member of the Quraysh with a camel's jawbone, drawing blood. "This," says Ibn Ishaq, "was the first blood shed in Islam." (p.118) And it was shed by a Muslim.

According to the preview at the end of the episode, next week's installment of this series will deal with the massacre of the Banu Qurayza. I am fascinated to see how they approach this incident, since I can guarantee right now that under no circumstances will they simply present this as an evil, unjustifiable act that is unbefitting of a Prophet of God (people would die if they did that). However they choose to cover it, I'll examine their account, along with any other major discrepancies, at the same time here next week.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Heroes And Villains

Ihsanoglu & Wilders: Champions of two very different causes

The newly renamed Organisation of Islamic Cooperation - formerly the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) - has once again shown which side of the freedom/totalitarianism divide it sits on. Last week, it issued the following statement about the recent acquittal of Geert Wilders at the end of his totalitarian hate speech trial in the Netherlands:

The OIC Secretary General [Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu] said that Mr. Wilders has taken upon himself a dangerous path of derailing inter civilizational harmony and peace by spreading and fanning hatred against Islam and Muslims in his own country as well as in other European countries.

Prof. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said that the vilification of Islam and the sacred image of the Prophet Muhammad by Wilders has reached a stage when it can no longer be tolerated under any pretext including the right to freedom of expression. He urged the Government or Netherlands to take necessary appropriate action to contain the campaign of hatred and incitement by Wilders who is a coalition partner of the Dutch Government. He expressed serious concern that the silence of the Dutch Government in this respect may undermine the existing good bilateral relations between the 0IC Member States and the Netherlands [i.e. he made an implicit threat. ~ Ed].

Now, Wilders has in response issued the following brilliant set of questions in writing directly to the Dutch Prime Minister:

Have you seen the intimidating statement of the OIC Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, about me and the OIC report “Fourth OIC observatory report on islamophobia” about statements made by various Dutch politicians?(*)

Do you agree that the OIC has vastly overstepped the boundaries with these intimidating statements and do you agree with me that a Dutch politician should have the right to criticise Islam and multiculturalism in a public debate, as was confirmed during my political trial by the court decision of June 23rd?

Are you prepared to explain to the OIC member countries that criticism of Islam and freedom of speech are essential in a democratic society under the rule of law? If not, why not?

Do you share the opinion that criticism, such as that of an organization like the OIC, is hypocrite and despicable given that the OIC in article 24 of its own Cairo Declaration on Human Rights explicitly states that all rights and freedoms are subject to Islamic Shari’ah law? If not, why not?

Are you prepared in the short term to distance yourself publicly in strong wordings of this report and of the intimidating statement of the OIC secretary general? If not, why not?

Will you make it clear once and for all to the OIC that the Netherlands will not accept to be lectured by an institution such as the OIC which makes human rights subject to the barbaric Shari’ah, and that we will not allow our fundamental freedoms and our freedom of speech to be restricted? If not, why not?

Are you prepared to answer these questions this week?

This man is a hero, plain and simple.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Cruising For A Bruising

At Slate today, Christopher Hitchens poses some questions for the organisers of the imminent follow-up to last year's "Freedom Flotilla", whose explicit purpose was to aid Israel's enemies by illegally breaking its perfectly legal blockade.

Specifically, Hitchens focuses on the flotilla's ties to Hamas, a fact which he does not document in any detail but is nevertheless a reality. For example:

Amin Abou Ibrahim, also known as Amin Abou Rashed, is one of the main organizers of the ”Freedom Flotilla 2″ and a founder of the ECESG, a central organization participating in the flotilla. Recently, the Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf cited Abou Rashed as the “brain behind the flotilla”...

Abou Rashed was an active participant in last year’s flotilla as well. His name also came up during the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation by the US government in 2007. The Holy Land Foundation is designated by the US Treasury as a Specially Designated National and banned by the EU for its direct financial and material support to Hamas. During the Holy Land Foundation trial, a letter was shown written by Abou Rashed to Akram Mishaal, a director of the Holy Land Foundation and a cousin of Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal.

In the letter found at Holy Land Foundation headquarters and used as a court case exhibit by the US government, Abou Rashed lists the names, addresses, and bank numbers of “charitable organizations working for Palestine in Europe.” Abou Rashed was writing as a representative of the Al-Aqsa Foundation, an organization designated by the US Department of Treasury as a charity financing terror and “a critical part of Hamas’ terrorist support infrastructure.”

These “charitable organizations” cited in Abou Rashed’s document were also later declared by the US Department of Treasury to be supporters of terrorist organizations, specifically Hamas, and consequently their assets were frozen.

Many Hamas affiliated organizations, as recognized by the US Treasury, were organizations in which Amin Abou Rashed was a very active participant in to say the least. Now, as leader of the current flotilla to Gaza, this raises deeper questions regarding the intentions of the flotilla organizers and their further connections to Hamas.

Let us hope that when "The Audacity of Hope" eventually reaches Gaza, the IDF send it and all of its miserable participants straight down to the seabed and to hell.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hope And Change In Tunisia

When the so-called "Arab Spring" began in Tunisia, we were told that it would bring democracy, freedom, moderation and secularism to the country and the region.

Today, we learn this:

Today Tunisia's commission of political reform announced that it adopted (by majority) a ''republican pact'' that will be the basis of the future new Constitution, and in particular it states the rejection of any normalisation with Israel.

While announcing the pact the president of the commission, Yadh Ben Achour, did not offer any details, but the Arab speaking Tunisian press published its content, which defines Tunisia as a free and democratic country, whose official language is Arab and whose religion is Islam.

The pact, that will serve as the basis of the future Constitution, categorically rejects ''any form of normalisation with the Zionist State'', and supports the Palestinian cause.

Democracy! Freedom! Moderation! Secularism!

Not that this is anything particularly new in the world of the Tunisian Revolution's "moderate Islamist" leadership.