Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Ben Carson Gets It Right Again...And Sam Harris Is Just Ignorant

In a recent interview, GOP Presidential hopeful Ben Carson was grilled once more about his declaration (discussed here) that he would not want a Muslim in the White House. Once again, he answered truthfully and rationally:

Well, let’s -- what we should be talking about is Islam and the tenets of Islam and where do they come from? They come from sharia. They come the Koran. They come from, you know, the life works and examples of Muhammad. They come from the fatwas, which is the writings of scholars.

You know, and if you go back and you look at -- what I would like for somebody to show me is an improved [he actually said "approved" ~ Ed] Islamic text that opposes sharia. Let me see -- if you can show me that, I will begin to alter my thinking on this. But right now, when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution, why in fact would you take that chance?

Carson's informed, rational comments completely debunk a spurious contention made by Sam Harris during a recent appearance on CNN, that the Republican candidate is merely a "bigot" and a "Bible-thumper" who is engaging in "a kind of Christian demagoguery". Harris added: "I don't expect him to have thought deeply about how Islam as a set of doctrines and ideas may be incompatible with the Constitution."

Sam Harris is an intelligent, thoughtful man who cherishes reason...but it is not difficult to see that he is totally wrong on this. Whatever Carson's Christian beliefs, when one actually bothers to read what he has said on this particular issue, he is quite obviously 100% right, and has clearly given the issue much more thought than Harris is willing to give him credit for. It seems the Islamo-realistic secular Left have not yet risen above appealing to their ultra-Leftist base with cheap, lazy assertions of this kind.

When Carson was asked about his comments on a Muslim President in the recent This Week interview, his initial response was: "[R]ead the paragraph before that where I said anybody, doesn’t matter what their religious background, if they accept American values and principles and are willing to subjugate their religious beliefs to our Constitution. I have no problem with them. Why do you guys always leave that part out, I wonder?"

Indeed. Such omissions are expected from the craven dhimmis of the mainstream media. But coming from someone like Sam Harris, they are simply extremely disappointing.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Islam and Freedom

The Arabic word for freedom is hurriyya. But in Islam, this concept is completely at odds with the Western understanding of the term. The lionised Sufi Master Ibn Arabi (d.1240) defined freedom as “being perfect slavery.”

This conception was not only limited to the mystical Sufi understanding of the relationship between Allah and his human “slaves”. The renowned E.J. Brill Encyclopedia of Islam, a must-read scholarly reference work, contains an excellent entry on hurriyya. The next three paragraphs are a brief summation of some of the main points the entry raises.

For centuries in Islamic political thought, the individual was expected to subordinate his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the Islamic community as a whole, and hence was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed. In general, there was never any idea that the individual citizen could democratically participate in government.

Throughout the nineteenth century, during the latter stages of the Ottoman Empire, there were some cautious reformers who wrote of political freedom in a more familiar sense, and even experimented with councils and assemblies, but even then, there was still no idea that the subjects of a state have any right to determine how their society is governed.

The idea of individual freedom only really reached Ottoman lands during the later periods under British and French rule, and while it was not always perfectly applied, it was on the whole much better protected than at any time during Muslim rule. Eventually, Muslim thinkers in the region rejected Western democracy altogether, labelling it a fraud and a delusion which was of no value to Muslims.

It is noteworthy that a traditional Arabic term used throughout the Qur’an to denote a follower of Islam is ‘abd (plural ibad), which also more literally means a slave or servant (i.e. of Allah).  Further, the word “Islam” itself means “submission, resignation, reconciliation (to the will of Allah)”, with the word “Muslim” therefore meaning one who submits to Allah. 

While many Muslims recognise these concepts to be completely antithetical to the Western idea of freedom, many have also begun to exploit popular democratic ideals in order to promote the implementation of sharia. This is most clearly demonstrated in the evolving methods of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which formed its first legitimate political party in early 2011: the Freedom and Justice Party, or Hurriyya and Adala

In the run-up to the Egyptian Presidential elections, the Brotherhood was open about its desire to implement sharia law in the country, but its political platform also made clear that it planned to do so via a pseudo-democratic process:

The authority of the sharia will be implemented in a manner that conforms to the [will of the] nation, by means of a parliamentary majority elected in free, clean, and transparent [elections]. The legislative branch must consult with the nation's Supreme Council of Clerics, which will likewise be freely and directly elected from among the clerics…[The duty of consulting with the Supreme Council of Clerics] will also apply to the president when he wishes to implement decisions based on law and in the absence of the legislative branch. In these circumstances, the Supreme Council of Clerics decision will be final and will best serve the interests of the public.

This system demonstrates how easily a fa├žade of “democracy” can obscure the inherently anti-democratic character of Islamic law.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Is-Lambs to the Slaughter

 What Allah does to his most devout slaves

In what seems to be an almost annual spectacle, over 700 Muslims have been killed, and another 800 injured, in a stampede in Mecca, on the occasion of the annual pilgrimage of hajj.

This got me thinking, not just about the tragic waste of life caused by people travelling from all over the world to worship a piece of rock, but also about the Islamic fatalism that accompanies such incidents.

Only yesterday, before the stampede, the New York Times published an article by Mustafa Akyol discussing an earlier tragedy in Mecca - the toppling of a huge crane which crushed over 100 devout Muslims to death a couple of weeks ago.

As Akyol notes, the technicians that operated the crane, the Saudi Binladen Group, had an easy way out. One of them spoke to the press and simply said: “What happened was beyond the power of humans. It was an act of God.”

Akyol continues:

This is not the first time that this metaphysical excuse has come up in such circumstances. Worse accidents have happened near the Kaaba before, during the overcrowded season of pilgrimage, the Hajj, and the blame was reflexively placed on the divine. In 1990, 1,426 pilgrims died in a stampede caused mainly by a lack of ventilation. Nonetheless, the king at the time, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, then argued: “It was God’s will, which is above everything.” “It was fate,” he added.

This isn’t just a Saudi problem; it is a global Muslim problem. Fatalism is constantly used as an excuse for human neglect and errors. Even in Turkey, which is much more modern and secular than Saudi Arabia, “fate” has frequently been invoked by various officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as an explanation for colossal accidents on railroads, in coal mines and on construction sites.

Of course, many Christians have been known to make similarly moronic statements as well, but the fact remains that Islam continues to be a far more fatalistic ideology than Christianity has ever been, and the biggest flaw in Akyol's piece is that he is not honest about the roots of the problem.

The Qur'an says: “Allah's is the Sovereignty of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them. He createth what He will. And Allah is Able to do all things.” (5:17) It also says that “He cannot be questioned concerning what He does” (21:23). Why should we be surprised, then, if Muslims are resigned to a fatalistic view of things?

This worldview extends negatively into the field of science. A translator's note in Reliance of the Traveller, an Islamic legal manual whose English edition has been certified as confirming "to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community" by Cairo's Al Azhar University, explains: “The unlawfulness of the 'sciences of the materialists' refers to the conviction of materialists that things in themselves or by their own nature have a causal influence independent of the will of Allah. To believe this is unbelief that puts one beyond the pale of Islam. Muslims working in the sciences must remember that they are dealing with figurative causes (asbab majaziyya), not real ones, for Allah alone is the real cause.”

In 1982, the Institute for Policy Studies in Islamabad criticized a chemistry textbook by saying: “There is latent poison present in the subheading Energy Causes Changes because it gives the impression that energy is the true cause rather than Allah. Similarly it is un-Islamic to teach that mixing hydrogen and oxygen automatically produces water. The Islamic way is this: when atoms of hydrogen approach atoms of oxygen, then by the Will of Allah water is produced.”

This conforms with the traditional Islamic view: Allah is bound by nothing. He can do anything. He is not bound to govern the universe in accord with any observable or discernible laws, and he has complete agency over every little thing in His vast universe.

Akyol is also wrong when he blames individual schools of thought or sects within the Muslim world, such as the Hanbalis, for crushing rationalism in the Islamic tradition. For example, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d.1111), who is ofen regarded as the most influential Muslim thinker of all time, declared the very notion of “laws of nature” to be a heretical limitation of Allah's power. It restricted His sovereignty, and suggested that there were things that he simply could not do or change. He wrote:

According to us, the connection between what is usually believed to be a cause and what is believed to be an effect is not a necessary connection; each of the things has its own individuality and is not the other, and neither the affirmation nor the negation, neither the existence or the non-existence of the one is implied in the affirmation, negation, existence or non-existence of the other – e.g. the satisfaction of thirst does not imply drinking, nor satiety eating, nor burning contact with fire, nor light sunrise, nor decapitation death, nor recovery the drinking of medicine, nor evacuation the taking of purgative, and so on for all the empirical connections existing in medicine, astronomy, the sciences and the crafts. For the connection of these things is based on a prior power of God to create them in successive order, though not because this connection is necessary in itself and cannot be disjointed – on the contrary, it is in God's power to create satiety without eating, and death without decapitation, and to let life persist not withstanding the decapitation, and so on with respect to all connections.

Al-Ghazali was not a Hanbali. He was a Sufi and a Shafi'ite jurist, and his views on this matter were - and always have been - accepted by the vast majority of Muslim scholars.

And so in Akyol's piece, we are once again treated to the spectacle of being told that true Islam has never actually been practised anywhere in the world in fourteen centuries, with the exception of a few short-lived sects that are considered to be heretical by everybody else.

Mustafa Akyol's blind faith in the goodness of something that has never been demonstrated in the history of its existence has more in common with Islamic irrationality than he would like to admit.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Ben Cars-On The Money Re: Muslim President

 GOP Presidential candidate Ben Carson is taking flak for his avowal that he does not believe that a Muslim should serve as US President.

Carson ignited a media firestorm in a Sunday morning interview in which he said he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation.”

“I absolutely would not agree with that,” Carson said.

Predictably he is being hounded for his remarks, but he has shown a rare bravery in sticking with his convictions. “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country,” he said, referencing the totalitarian Islamic law derived from the Qur'an and hadith. “Muslims feel that their religion is very much a part of your public life and what you do as a public official, and that’s inconsistent with our principles and our Constitution.”

Carson said that the only exception he’d make would be if the Muslim running for office “publicly rejected all the tenets of Sharia and lived a life consistent with that.”

“Then I wouldn’t have any problem,” he said.

Carson is absolutely right, as any reader of this blog knows. I only wish we had even one serious political candidate in this country who was as honest, forthright and informed as Ben Carson on this matter.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Good-Humoured, Ill-Informed

What a funny lady

On her website, American journalist Barbara Falconer Newhall boasts over and over again about how funny she is. And indeed, she is funny - just maybe not in the way she intended.

If you happen to be looking for hilarity, you could start with her new piece at the Huffington Post, in which she asks the question: "Does Islam scare you?"

She expands the question thusly:

Does Islam scare you? Does it feel like an aggressive religion is trying to take over the world, subjugate women, persecute the LGBT community, and cut off your hand if you're caught stealing?

Well, you've got good reason to be scared -- but not of Islam. Islam is a fine old wisdom tradition with millions of kind, reasonable, neighborly adherents in the US and around the world.

It's the fundamentalist, anti-modern Wahhabi brand of Islam that is scaring you.

So actually the Wahhabis invented all of the things that non-Muslims are scared of. Really?

Does it feel like an aggressive religion is trying to take over the world? Well, the Qur'an says: "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29)

And Muhammad said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari v.1, b.2, no.24)

Does it feel like Islam subjugates women? Well, in the Qur'an women are described as a field – “tilth” – that a man can use however he wants: “Your women are a tilth for you to cultivate so go to your tilth as ye will.” (2:223)

In an Islamic court, the legal testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man: “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not (at hand) then a man and two women, of such as ye approve as witnesses, so that if the one erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember.” (2:282) When Muhammad was asked about this, he explained: “This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind.” (Sahih Bukhari v.3, b.48, no.826)

A son's inheritance is twice the size of a daughter's: “Allah thus directs you as regards your children's inheritance: to the male, a portion equal to that of two females.” (4:11)

Worst of all, the Qur'an allows men to beat their disobedient wives: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge [i.e. beat] them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.” (4:34)

Does it feel like Islam persecutes the LGBT community? Well, in the hadith, Muhammad is quoted as saying: “If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” (Sunan Abu Dawud b.38, no.4447) Muhammad's closest companions, meanwhile, recommended a number of brutal penalties, including burning alive, crushing under a falling wall, throwing from a rooftop, and beheading.

Does it feel like Islam wants to cut off your hand if you're caught stealing? Well, the Qur'an says: “As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. It is the reward of their own deeds, an exemplary punishment from Allah. Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (5:38)

Curiously, the Qur'an and Muhammad predate Wahhabism by over a thousand years.

As I said, funny stuff.

And if you're not rolling on the floor yet, just wait for this crowd-pleaser: This rib-tickling "journalist" talks about two nice Muslims she has met, who she says "give me hope. Lots of it." One of them even tells her that in many parts of the world the Wahhabi version of Islam is being opposed by moderate Muslims. "Vast women's movements" are having an influence, she says. And so are scholars who are reevaluating the tradition "after hundreds of years of colonization under which Islam was not allowed to develop and modernize."

So our hilarious journalist ends up admitting that actually, for "hundreds of years", Islam has been in need of "reevaluation" - contradicting what she said at the beginning of the article. But why hasn't this happened in all that time? Because of "colonization". That's right - her nice Muslim friend blames the infidels for stopping Muslims from abolishing world conquest, the subjugation of women, the persecution of homosexuals, and the brutal mutilation of alleged thieves.

After you've wiped the tears from your eyes and allowed your stomach muscles to relax from all the gaiety, you may want to just put your head in your hands and consider morosely just how insane the world we live in has become.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

What is the Caliphate?

One of the cornerstones of the Islamic political system is the concept of the Caliphate, the global Muslim empire, consisting of all Muslim countries united into one, ruled by a single supreme guide, or caliph. The medieval Muslim jurist Abu’l Hasan al-Mawardi (d.1058) explained that the Caliphate “is intended as vicarate of the prophecy in upholding the faith and managing the affairs of the world. Its establishment is unanimously considered to be obligatory on the Community…”

To justify the conception of the Caliphate, al-Mawardi quotes the Qur’an: “O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Apostle, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.” (4:59) He then comments: “He [Allah] has thus made it obligatory for us to obey those in authority; namely, the sovereigns with power over us…[T]he Messenger of God [Muhammad], God bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘You will be ruled after me by some who are benign, and some who are depraved. Listen to them and obey them in all that is right. The good they do will be for your benefit and theirs; the bad they do will be for you and against them.’”

Throughout the history of the Caliphate, this Qur’anic verse was invoked to emphasise the importance of obedience to the sovereign in maintaining governmental authority.  The renowned Islamic legal manual Reliance of the Traveller says that “[i]t is obligatory to obey the commands and interdictions of the caliph (or his representative) in everything that is lawful...even if he is unjust...because the purpose of his authority is Islamic unity, which could not be realized if obeying him were not obligatory.”  Furthermore, “[t]he caliphate of someone who seizes power [i.e. by force] is considered valid, even though his act of usurpation is disobedience, in view of the danger from the anarchy and strife that would otherwise ensue.”

Maududi’s (d.1979) commentary on verse 4:59 provides another mainstream confirmation of these ideas:

This verse is the cornerstone of the entire religious, social and political structure of Islam, and the very first clause of the constitution of an Islamic state. It lays down the following principles as permanent guidelines…

…In the Islamic order of life Muslims are further required to obey fellow Muslims in authority…Those invested with authority include all those entrusted with directing Muslims in matters of common concern. Hence, persons ‘invested with authority’ include the intellectual and political leaders of the community, as well as administrative officials, judges of the courts, tribal chiefs and regional representatives. In all these capacities, those ‘invested with authority’ are entitled to obedience, and it is improper for Muslims to cause dislocation in their collective life by engaging in strife and conflict with them. This obedience is contingent, however, on two conditions: first, that these men should be believers [in Islam]; and second, that they should themselves be obedient to God and the Prophet…

A Muslim is obliged to heed and to obey an order whether he likes it or not, as long as he is not ordered to carry out an act of disobedience to God. When ordered to carry out an act of disobedience to God he need neither heed nor obey…

Such a political system is inherently anti-democratic. The analysis of the renowned historian Bernard Lewis, from a 1954 essay comparing Islam to Communist totalitarianism, highlights the inferiority of this worldview compared to the Western democratic model:

There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law. In the great days of classical Islam this duty was only owed to the lawfully appointed caliph, as God's vicegerent on earth and head of the theocratic community, and then only for as long as he upheld the law; but with the decline of the caliphate and the growth of military dictatorship, Muslim jurists and theologians accommodated their teachings to the changed situation and extended the religious duty of obedience to any effective authority, however impious, however barbarous. For the last thousand years, the political thinking of Islam has been dominated by such maxims as 'tyranny is better than anarchy' and 'whose power is established, obedience to him is incumbent.'

Despite the abolition of the Caliphate by the secular regime in Turkey in 1924, these ideas are certainly not dead-letter theory today. According to a 2007 World Public Opinion/University of Maryland poll, 71% of Muslims – hardly a fringe minority – surveyed in four major Islamic countries (Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia) openly declared that they wanted to see the resurrection of the Caliphate. 74% also wanted strict (that word was emphasised) application of sharia law in every Islamic country. In early 2009, a follow-up poll by the same team achieved similar results.

The appeal of this totalitarian religio-political system is important in understanding current events, since the jihadist organisation known as the Islamic State has declared itself to be the new Caliphate. In a recent poll conducted in Arabic by al-Jazeera, 81% of forty thousand respondents stated that they supported the “victories” of Islamic State.  If this is anywhere near representative of the Islamic world as a whole, it aptly demonstrates that Muslims still overwhelmingly support the idea of the Caliphate, despite the absolute barbarity it has been shown to commit every single day.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Fleeing the Madness

As the migrant crisis engulfs Europe, I will be escaping the chaos (if you can ever truly escape it), and going on holiday for the week, right through until next weekend. I won't be posting during that time, but before I head off, here's a couple of news stories to warm the cockles of your heart - one from this past Febuary, the other from earlier this week.

First, the flashback:

Quilliam Foundation reports that ISIS/ISIL/IS plans to use Libya as a gateway to Europe, sending fighters masked as refugees.

They are urging fighters to flood into Libya from Syria and Iraq to then head for Italy and elsewhere.

And now the current story:

Five men have been arrested as they attempted to cross the Bulgarian-Macedonian border with decapitation videos and Islamic State propaganda on their phones. The terrorist suspects had been posing as refugees.

Have a good week, Infidels.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Why Islam is a "Complete Way of Life"

 Islam - More than just prayers and pilgrimage

In the 1950s, Armenian-American investigative journalist John Roy Carlson travelled to Egypt with the intention of tracking down various Nazi war criminals who had sought asylum in the country following World War II. During his stay in Cairo, he experienced many aspects of Islam and everyday Muslim life, including its rampant antisemitism.

But one of the most profound insights Carlson gained during his journey followed a conversation with Aboul Saud, a “pleasant, English-speaking member of the Arab League Office”. With immense pride, Saud said to him:

You might describe Mohammedanism as a religious form of State Socialism. The Qur’an gives the state the right to nationalize industry, distribute land, or expropriate property. It grants the ruler of the state unlimited powers, so long as he does not go against the Qur’an. The Qur’an is our personal as well as political constitution.

Carlson concluded based on his conversations with Saud and other Egyptian Muslims that Islam is “not only an authoritarian religion, but also both a political creed and a way of life encompassing the sum total of a Muslim's temporal and spiritual existence.”

Writing in 1960, Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi (d.1979), one of the most important Muslim revivalist thinkers of the twentieth century, confirmed this view:
A state of this sort [i.e. an Islamic state] cannot evidently restrict the scope of its activities. Its approach is universal and all-embracing. Its sphere of activity is coextensive with the whole of human life. It seeks to mould every aspect of life and activity in consonance with its moral norms and programme of social reform. In such a state no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states.

The key aspect of Islam which prompted Saud and Maududi to compare it to other forms of totalitarian governance (which would cause apologists to call non-Muslims “Islamophobes” if they said the same thing) is its attempt to subject absolutely everything, including a believer’s private life and personal habits, as well as politics and the running of a state, to divine regulation and control, through its sacred law, sharia.

This desire for “Big Brother”-like social and political control is acknowledged by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, an influential Pakistani professor of Islamic law in the Faculty of Sharia and Law of Islamabad. Nyazee writes that “Islam, it is generally acknowledged, is a ‘complete way of life’”, with the following defining characteristics:

No other sovereign or authority is acceptable to the Muslim, unless it guarantees the application of these laws [sharia] in their entirety. Any other legal system, howsoever attractive it may appear on the surface, is alien for Muslims and is not likely to succeed in the solution of their problems; it would be doomed from the start…A comprehensive application of these laws, which flow directly or indirectly from the decrees (ahkam) of Allah, would mean that they should regulate every area of life, from politics to private transactions, from criminal justice to the laws of traffic, from ritual to international law, and from the laws of taxation and finance to embezzlement and white collar crimes.

The mainstream acceptance of this view is confirmed in the writings of the American Muslim leader Faisal Abdul Rauf, who was the man behind the now-abandoned plan to build a gigantic mosque within the destruction zone of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.  In his 1999 book Islam: A Sacred Law – What Every Muslim Should Know About Sharia, Rauf argues that sharia should be assimilated into the American legal system, and states:

[S]ince Sharia is understood as a law with God at its center, it is not possible in principle to limit the Sharia to some aspects of human life and leave out others…The Sharia thus covers every field of law – public and private, national and international – together with enormous amounts of material that Westerners would not regard as law at all, because the basis of the Sharia is the worship of, and obedience to, God through good works and moral behavior. Following the Sacred Law thus defines the Muslim’s belief in God.

This image of Islam as a “complete way of life” that controls everything and leaves nothing to human intuition is regularly cited by Muslims as a positive aspect of the religion when seeking to win new converts. We should therefore view Islam not just as a religion (although it undoubtedly is), but also as a fascist political system - and treat it accordingly.