Have Muslim Apologists Nothing More to Offer?
by Raymond Ibrahim
Hudson New York
March 14, 2011
From Congressman Keith Ellison’s emotional breakdown to Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s accusations of “racism,” last week’s hearings on Muslim radicalization have made it clear that those who oppose the hearings have little of substance to offer. Still, the tactics used by such apologists—namely, appeals to emotionalism and accusations of racism—are influential enough that they need to be addressed and discredited once and for all.
For starters, though it would have been unheard of generations ago and seen as a sign of instability, public crying is the latest rage for politicians. A 2007 Associated Press report puts it well: “Tears, once kryptonite to serious presidential candidates, today are more often seen as a useful part of the political tool kit”—and are thus indicative of an increasingly therapeutic society, one more interested in a show of catharsis than facts.
Yet, tears aside, if we wish to be objective for a moment, Ellison’s testimony—culminating with his choking up and leaving the hearing—contributes nothing to the topic of Muslim radicalization in America. Instead, it raises more questions about Ellison—a former Nation of Islam leader, mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood front-group CAIR, and critic of the U.S. Constitution.
Indeed, arguing that “suit-and-tie” Islamists have penetrated Western societies and are manipulating the legal system to their advantage—including by imposing aspects of Islamic law, winning special privileges for themselves, and, of course, shutting down criticism of Islam—Daniel Pipes has singled out Ellison as representing a far greater threat to Western civilization than Osama bin Laden.
Did Ellison feign an emotional breakdown during his opening remarks to leave the hearing and evade follow-up questions from Congressman Peter King and others—concrete questions about Muslim radicalization that he preferred not to respond to—or were his tears sincere? Either way, it is not clear which is worse: another obfuscating politician, or a politician whose emotions so dominate him that he cannot carry out his responsibilities.
While we are on the topic of strategic-weeping, it is relevant to note that authoritative Muslim scholars, such as Ibn Hajar, recommend deceiving infidels with crocodile tears: “Revealing one thing while secretly planning another is the essence of deception; moreover, the hadith incites [Muslims] to take great caution in war, while [publicly] lamenting and mourning in order to dupe the infidels” (The Al Qaeda Reader, p.142). This is not to conclude that Ellison is taking lessons from Hajar, but that even the most rabid jihadists—not just American politicians—are aware of the power of tears as a ruse.
The other tactic that frequently arises and is in dire need of being laid to rest—permanently—is this business of trying to stifle any talk on Islam and Muslims by labeling it “racist.” One would have thought it was obvious, but apparently it needs stressing: race and religion have absolutely nothing to do with one another. Race is inherent, represented by physical characteristics; religion is learned, impacting the mind, regardless of race. Thus most major religions—especially Christianity and Islam—have adherents from all races and ethnicities.
Despite these obvious facts, uncritical thinkers like Congresswoman Jackie Speier—or simply garden-variety manipulators—constantly cry “racism” when Islam and Muslims come under scrutiny. This approach is ubiquitous: discussing the Fort Hood shootings, a former American soldier lamented that “When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal. But when a Muslim [namely, Nidal Hasan] does it, they call it jihad.” Notice the confusion; as if a “white guy” and a “Muslim” represent different races. (What if the person is a “white Muslim,” as in the instance of Hasan?)
Of course, if a person of any color goes on a random shooting spree, it would be racist to pin it on his race. But if a person of any color goes on a shooting spree—while waving the Koran, screaming Allahu Akbar, or otherwise rationalizing his actions in Islamic terms, as did Nidal Hasan—then we are talking about a shooting spree motivated by a learned ideology or worldview that has nothing to do with the shooter’s race.
And this is the whole point: tears and moral outrage aside, while it is important to recognize that not all Muslims are jihadists, it is equally important to acknowledge that all jihadists are Muslims—hence the need to delimit the hearings to the Muslim community. You will not find jihadists ensconced among neo-Nazis or other “radicals.” Moreover, as Peter King put it:
There is no equivalency of threat between al-Qaeda and neo-Nazis, environmental extremists or other isolated madmen. Only al-Qaeda and its Islamist affiliates in this country are part of an international threat to our nation. Indeed, by the Justice Department’s own record, not one terror-related case in the last two years involved neo-Nazis, environmental extremists, militias or anti-war groups.
Based on these initial hearings, it is clear that the apologists have little to offer. As Jennifer Rubin writes at the Washington Post, “The Democrats’ unhinged rhetoric and wild accusations did more to undermine their opposition to the hearings than anything King could possibly have said.” Yet crying tears or “racism!” is emblematic of a greater problem: politicians trying to appeal to the people’s emotions, not their reason—an approach that has historically had horrific consequences.
Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum.
Related Topics: Muslims in the United States | Raymond Ibrahim
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Ellison’s teary eyed performance should impress no one: this guy is a nasty piece of work.
Andrew G. Bostom (source)
Matthew Shaffer of NRO (as noted here by Ethel Fenig) exposed Keith Ellison’s mendacious taqiyya(Koran-sanctioned Islamic dissimulation) theater during the Congressman’s testimony at Thursday’s Homeland Security Hearings on American Muslim radicalization.
The next day, during a 3/11/11 interview with Bill Maher (on “Real Time With Bill Maher”), responding to Maher’s complaint that, “[Islam] comes from a hate-filled holy book, the Koran, which is taken very literally by its people,”Ellison invoked a deceitfully redacted extract of Koran 5:32, and the ostensible Koranic paean to “tolerance,” verse 2:256.
Ellison’s disingenuous response was predictable.
- Sultan Knish is also onto it, here: An Islamist’s Crocodile Tears
Following the murderous acts of jihad terrorism committed on September 11, 2001, Ibn Warraq highlighted the tragic irony of many apologists quoting selectively from Koran 5:32, “whoso slays a soul …shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he has given life to mankind altogether”, attempting to demonstrate that the Koran disapproved of violence and killing. Here is the entire verse (5:32), quoted in full context, with the intimately related verse, Koran 5:33:
(5:32) Therefore We prescribed for the Children of Israel that whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he has given life to mankind altogether. Our Messengers have already come to them with the clear signs; then many of them thereafter commit excesses in the earth. (5:33) This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement
[For direct comparison see, Mishna, Sanhedrin, IV, 5, “Thus was created a single man, to teach us that every person who loses a single soul, it shall be written about him as if he has lost the entire world, and every person who sustains a single soul, it shall be written, about him as if he has sustained the entire world”]
As Warraq noted, with regard to Koran 5:32/33, 1
The supposedly noble sentiments are in fact a warning to Jews. [2 see these commentaries as well] “Behave, or else” is the message. Far from abjuring violence, these verses aggressively point out that anyone opposing the Prophet will be killed, crucified, mutilated, and banished
Regarding the other pacific sounding verse Congressman Ellison cited, 2:256, it must be contextualized by Muhammad’s bellicose evolution within the Koran itself. But how, exactly? Abrogation is critical to understanding this evolution. Ali ibn Abi Talib—revered by Shiite Muslims and Islam’s 4th “Rightly Guided” Caliph—is reported to have told a pious Muslim companion, Abdul Rahman
“[C]an you differentiate between abrogating and abrogated verses” Abdul Rahman said, “no.” Thereupon Ali said “Thou art damned and causeth others to be damned.”
The Koran’s “verses of peace,” as cited by Ellison, and many other Muslim and non-Muslim apologists, most notably verse 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion,” were all abrogated by the so-called verses of the sword. These abrogating verses of the sword recommend beheading or otherwise murdering and mutilating non-Muslims, and Muslim apostates. According to classical Muslim Koranic commentators verse 9:5 (perhaps the most infamous verse of the sword), “Slay the idolators wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush…”, for example, cancels 124 verses that promote patience and toleration. And this doctrine of abrogation, necessitated by the many contradictions which abound in the Koran, originates as putatively taught by Muhammad, himself, at verse 2:106: “Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you not know that Allah has power over all things?”. This verse, in combination with verses* 16:101, 22:52, and 87:6, was elaborated into a formal system of abrogation (naskh in Arabic) by the greatest classical Muslim Koranic scholars and jurists, which entailed (p.72),
…the suppression of a ruling without the suppression of the wording. That is to say, the earlier ruling is still to be found in the Koran, and is still to this day recited in worship, but it no longer has any legal force.
The sacralized Islamic sources indicate that as the Muslim prophet Muhammad accrued political and military power, he evolved from a proselytizer and persuader, to a warrior, and dictatorial legislator. (i.e., a prototype jihadist; see for example, renowned contemporary mainstream Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model”). Thus the sword and other similar Koranic verses—as per the linkage between Muhammad’s biography and the Koranic narrative—capture the Muslim prophet at his most dogmatic, belligerent, and intolerant. Muslims are enjoined to fight and murder nonbelievers—woe unto those who shirk these campaigns, but those who are killed fighting for the one true religion, i.e., Islam, will be rewarded amply in the afterlife.**
Thus it is reasonable to conclude that Keith Ellison’s deceitful pronouncements at Thursday’s Homeland SecurityHearings, this past Thursday, and one day later on “Real Time With Bill Maher,” are consistent with the Koranic doctrine of taqiyya, Islamic religious dissimulation. Al-Tabari (d. 923), author of perhaps the earliest and most important authoritative Koranic commentary, explains Koranic verse 3:28, which sanctions taqiyya, as follows (translation by Raymond Ibrahim):
If you [Muslims] are under their [non-Muslims’] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harboring inner animosity for them … [know that] God has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels rather than other believers-except when infidels are above them [in authority]. Should that be the case, let them act friendly towards them while preserving their religion.
*Additional Koranic verses sanctioning abrogation:
16: 101: “And when We change (one) communication for (another) communication, and Allah knows best what He reveals, they say: You are only a forger. Nay, most of them do not know.”; 22:52: “And We did not send before you any messenger or prophet, but when he desired, the Shaitan made a suggestion respecting his desire; but Allah annuls that which the Shaitan casts, then does Allah establish His communications, and Allah is Knowing, Wise”;
87:6: “By degrees shall We teach thee to declare (the Message), so thou shalt not forget.”
**Additional Koranic verses sanctioning jihad, and jihad martyrdom:
47:4: “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds.”
9:29: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.”
4:76: “Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan. Fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak.”
8:12: “When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”
8:38-39: “Say to the Unbelievers, if (now) they desist (from Unbelief), their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already (a matter of warning for them). And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do.”
9:39: “If you do not go forth, He will chastise you with a painful chastisement and bring in your place a people other than you, and you will do Him no harm; and Allah has power over all things.”
4:74: “Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world’s life for the hereafter; and whoever fights in the way of Allah, then be he slain or be he victorious, We shall grant him a mighty reward.”
9:111: “Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain; a promise which is binding on Him in the Taurat and the Injeel and the Quran; and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Rejoice therefore in the pledge which you have made; and that is the mighty achievement.”
1. Ibn Warraq. Leaving Islam. Apostates Speak Out. Amherst, New York, 2003, p. 401.
2. The classical Qur’anic commentary of Ibn Kathir, and the 20th century commentary of Mawdudi confirm and validate the anti-Jewish attitudes expressed in Qur’an 5:32/33. From Ibn Kathir (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Riyadh, Vol. 3, 2000, p.160), entitled, “Warning Those Who Commit Mischief ”:
This Ayah chastises and criticizes those who commit the prohibitions, after knowing that they are prohibited from indulging in them. [Like] [T]he Jews of Al-Madinah, such as Banu Qurayza, An-Nadir, and Qaynuqa..[Jewish tribes ultimately attacked, expropriated, expelled, and even massacred by Muhammad]
From Mawdudi (Towards Understanding the Qur’an. Vol. 2, pp. 155-56), who includes a contextual reference to Qur’an 5:30/31 as well:
God honored some of the illiterate people of Arabia and disregarded the ancient People of the Book because the former were pious while the latter were not. But rather than reflect upon the causes of their rejection by God, and do something to overcome the failings which led to that rejection, the Israelites were seized by the same fit of arrogance and folly which had once seized the criminal son of Adam [verses 5:30/31], and resolved to kill those whose good deeds had been accepted by God. It was obvious that such acts would contribute nothing towards their acceptance by God. They would rather earn them an even greater degree of God’s disapproval. Since the same qualities which had been displayed by the wrongdoing son of Adam were manifest in the Children of Israel, God strongly urged them not to kill human beings and couched his command in forceful terms.
The “land” (in verse 5:33) signifies either the country or territory wherein the responsibility of establishing law and order has been undertaken by an Islamic state. The expression “to wage war [fight] against Allah and His Messenger” denotes war against the righteous order established by the Islamic state.