Tag Archives: ibn Khaldun

Dear Muslim…

letter

Glad I caught you. If you can spare the time there are a few issues, misunderstandings perhaps, that I would like to raise with you. Can it hurt to bring them out into the open?

Firstly, there is your god Allah. He appears to hate me with a passion. Apparently he intends to torture me forever with fire and each time my skin burns away he will replace it “so I may feel the scourge”. Is this any way for a modern god to behave? In the days when desert tribes worshipped rocks it might have been acceptable but today I really think he has to consider his anger issues. It is not as though I have done him any harm that I know of, just declined to believe in him. You would think an omnipotent being would be too busy regulating the intricate arrangements of the quantum world or designing galaxies to worry about little old me. Frankly, and I’m sorry to say this, his excessive concern over what everyone thinks of him smacks of immaturity.

Then there’s the man who created him, Mohammed. Quite honestly he appears to have been a cruel and vindictive warlord. If he came back today he would surely be shipped off to The Hague to face charges of robbery, murder, rape, enslavement and genocide. Just to mention a couple of his victims, there’s Umm Qirfa the old woman he had tied by the legs to camels and pulled apart, and Kinana ibn al-Rabi the treasurer of a vanquished Jewish tribe. Mohammed ordered him to be tortured until he revealed where the treasure was hidden. A fire was lit on his chest until he was nearly dead then he was beheaded and Mohammed married his wife Safiyya. I hear people justifying some of Mohammed’s thirteen marriages as being motivated by charity towards widows and cannot help thinking “That’s chutzpah!”

Well, that’s all water under the bridge. What bothers me is that I’m told you regard Mohammed as “the perfect man and the example for all Muslims”. That seems like a problem to me.

So much for the pleasantries. Let’s get down to the key question. Is Islam inherently and implacably supremacist, by fair means or foul, or not? That’s what really concerns me. I have been asking around and I think it is. Who told me? Well firstly there is Allah himself:

Koran 8:39
“And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.”

I know it is the Hilali-Khan translation, the most incendiary of all, but it does only make explicit what is left implicit in the others and after all it is the version favoured by all those Saudi funded mosques. Wasn’t it in some of those that investigative reporters found Imams saying things like this:

“You cannot accept the rule of the kaffir…we have to rule ourselves and we have to rule the others”
and
“You are in a situation in which you have to live like a state within a state, until you take over”?

Then there is Mohammed, in a letter to Haudha bin Ali, governor of Yamama inviting him to convert or take the consequences:

“Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Be informed that my religion shall prevail everywhere. You should accept Islam, and whatever under your command shall remain yours”. (The Sealed Nectar:Biography of the Noble Prophet)

And lastly, representative of a number of influential Islamic scholars, Ibn Khaldun, mediaeval historian:

“In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force”.

If these quotes accurately reflect Islamic beliefs then clearly Islam can never live as equals with another culture. It must either dominate or bide its time until it can, just as Mohammed did in Mecca and Medina. That is why, with continuing immigration from warring countries on the other side of the Mediterranean and greater Muslim fertility, I foresee increasing strife between Muslims and everyone else in Britain.

Do not think I hate Muslims but I do pity them and I have to accept that some of them are my enemy. I just do not know which ones. Many, probably yourself included, manage to live in peace with their neighbour but I believe this to be despite their religion which calls for the opposite. It seems clear to me that the bombers and the beheaders are simply following the instructions on the tin and that they would fit right in with Mohammed’s companions. It is Muslims who wish to live peacefully who are obliged to do back flips to avoid the militant aspect of their religion.

Our leaders try to reassure us that there are moderate Muslims and extremist Muslims (otherwise known as radical, Islamist, fundamentalist or militant Muslims). You will know as well as I do that this distinction is never used in Muslim countries, nor it seems even much among British Muslims as we found out when a TV company looked for moderate Imams and could find none who accepted the term.

Correct me if I am wrong, and I would dearly love to be wrong, but I think that there are just more or less observant Muslims, particularly when it comes to Mohammed’s call to Jihad. Some manage to convince themselves that Islam can be just a matter of private devotion like other religions, some spread Islamic practices like Halal into the public space and demand special dispensations for prayer facilities or the right not to be offended, and then there are those who actually heed the call to holy war in Syria or in Britain.

It seems to me that Islam is like a black hole around which believers orbit, more or less affected by its gravitational pull. There are those who maintain a stable orbit at a safe distance, observing prayer and Ramadan and so on, and there are those who venture too close and get sucked in, never to be seen again unless it is on the TV news screaming “Allahu akbar” over some atrocity. The ones I am really interested in though are those further out trying to live the sort of life which other religions and viewpoints would recognise as decent and moral, a life in which non-Muslims, ex-Muslims, women, children and homosexuals are seen as being of equal worth. I hope increasing numbers of those people will manage to escape the malign influence of Mohammed entirely and join the community of apostates, most of whom have to hide the fact for obvious reasons.

Sadly, I believe that Muslims and the rest of us are on a collision course unless something gives. Perhaps it will be the rest of us and that appears to be a possible outcome given the refusal of our leaders and the mainstream media to acknowledge the supremacism at the heart of Islam. They beguile us with idiotic terms like “Islamophobia” but the trouble is we all have eyes to see what is happening around the world and on our streets.

Naturally I hope for another more benign outcome, a large scale collapse of belief in Islam as young Muslims weigh “Islamic science” against real science, the 7th century against the 21st. So far the signs are not good. Weren’t we surprised when polls appeared to show that young Muslims are actually more devout than their parents? Faith schools are also hardly a promising development, allowing the teachings of Mohammed to go unchallenged in the classroom or the playground. Nevertheless, I put great hope in the internet which allows Muslims to bypass their local Imam and get independent information from the many Islam critical sites. For the first time in 1400 years the Mosque’s monopoly on information is being challenged. Who knows what the ramifications could be?

Go on, give it a go. After all, you are only a Muslim because you were indoctrinated at an age before you were able to critically assess what you were being told. You didn’t stand a chance. It’s all made up, honest. No virgins for you, no eternal torment for me. You can just step away from Mohammed and his demand for world domination. Isn’t it the best hope for us to get along?

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Examining Quilliam’s claims

Quilliam, the anti-extremist think tank, claims that Islam is compatible with religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy. Many people, Muslim and non-Muslim, would be sceptical of that view, believing that the Islamic scriptures and tradition do not support it, or come anywhere near to supporting it.

Let us examine whether the Islamic texts, which Quilliam director Usama Hasan quotes, do actually support his claims or not.

This is an article written shortly after the Woolwich murder:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22640614

1. “The universal verses of the Koran (eg 49:13, “O humanity! We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes so that you may know each other: the most honoured of you with God are those most God-conscious: truly, God is Knowing, Wise”) promote full human equality and leave no place for slavery, misogyny, xenophobia or racism.”

Firstly, although the Koran does use the word “Ilah” meaning “deity” the word used in this verse is not “Ilah” but “Allah”. Why does Dr Hasan substitute the word “God”? Surely to give the impression of a religious universalism which is not there. “The most honoured of you with Allah are those most Allah-conscious” reads quite differently doesn’t it?

Secondly, the next verse says:

“The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts. And if you obey Allah and His Messenger, He will not deprive you from your deeds of anything. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.”

In other words the various tribes and nations are accepted, as long as they submit to the one true religion. Viewing verse 49:13 in its immediate textual context we find no “full human equality”, only equality between Muslims.

Lastly, the verse quoted is entirely silent on “slavery, misogyny, xenophobia and racism”. If Dr Hasan has other “universal verses” in mind he should bring them forward for inspection.

2. “However, other Koranic verses that may seem to accommodate slavery, discrimination against non-Muslims and women and even wife-beating (eg 4:34) were clearly specific for their time and always meant as temporary measures in a process of liberation.”

[Sura 4:34 Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.]

“Seem to accommodate”? “Clearly specific for their time”? “Temporary measures in a process of liberation”? No, Dr Hasan, none of that is clear. In fact, just the opposite. Mohammed insisted that all the teachings of the Koran are the eternal, unchangeable word of Allah, and that is how they have been taken by orthodox Muslims down the ages until today.

3. “The Koranic notion of Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles, as summed up by “strive in God”, a verse revealed in the pacifist period of Islam before war was permitted.”

It is a pity Dr Hasan does not specify the relevant verse so we can inspect it in context. A search of the Koran reveals no such phrase as “strive in Allah”, only several instances of “strive hard in Allah’s way” which obviously has very different connotations. Try it for youself:

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/k/koran/

(As an aside, while you’re there, why not try typing in “unbelievers” to see what Allah plans for your future, and how his views on religious freedom and equality appear to differ from Dr Hasan’s.)

As it is we only have Dr Hasan’s word for it that Jihad is essentially about the sacred and physical-spiritual nature of life’s struggles. The vast majority of scholars have seen it simply as the spread of Islam by holy war. Just to take one example of many:

Ibn Taymiyyah, mediaeval theologian:
“Since lawful warfare is essentially Jihad and since its aim is that religion is entirely for Allah and the word of Allah is uppermost, therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought”.

4. “Socio-political Jihads are needed to achieve the goals of noble causes such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, that may be seen as an extension of the themes of equality contained in the Prophet Muhammad’s farewell sermon.”

That is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the way, which the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, representing 57 states, has been trying its best to emasculate for the last twenty years.

These are the themes of equality Dr Hasan must be referring to:

“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.”

But according to WikiIslam, usually a reliable source on Islamic matters, that section is fraudulent (about half way down the page):

http://wikiislam.net/wiki/List_of_Fabricated_Hadith#Muhammad.27s_Farewell_Sermon

And even if it were genuine, the last three sentences give the game away – equality in Islam is between Muslims only.

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This is a video in which Dr Hasan proposes that Islam can co-exist with secularism, democracy and religious pluralism (he gets into his stride after 7 minutes):



On secularism Dr Hasan quotes Ibn Khaldun, the mediaeval scholar, who made much of a story that Mohammed gave some farming advice to his followers. When the crop failed Mohammed admitted that perhaps they might know best in practical matters.
Hardly “Render unto Caesar…etc” but on the basis of this Dr Hasan sees Mohammed, the theocratic ruler till he died, sanctioning the splitting of religious and temporal power.

On religious pluralism he quotes the old favourite “There is no compulsion in religion”.
Is there not? We know that when he became powerful enough Mohammed certainly did compel neighbouring tribes and kingdoms to convert, that is to say “encouraged” them with offers they could not refuse. For instance here is Mohammed writing to King Jaifer of Oman and his brother Abd Al-Jalandi:

“…Embrace Islam. Allah has sent me as a Prophet to all His creatures in order that I may instil fear of Allah in the hearts of His disobedient creatures so that there may be left no excuse for those who deny Allah. If you two accept Islam, you will remain in command of your country; but if you refuse my Call, you’ve got to remember that all your possessions are perishable. My horsemen will appropriate your land, and my Prophethood will assume preponderance over your kingship.” (The Sealed Nectar: Biography of the Noble Prophet)

And here is Ibn Khaldun again, this time on religious pluralism:

“In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force”.

At the end of his talk Dr Hasan says “We have to allow people to adopt their own faith. We have to allow religious freedom, there is no other option…I believe in the validity of all major religions…I believe there are many paths to God.”

A very laudable tolerance on Dr Hasan’s part but this is absolutely not the view of Allah as expressed in many verses of the Koran, for instance:

Sura 48:28 “He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion. And Allah sufficeth as a Witness.”

Not only does Islamic tradition support this explicit supremacism but the authoritative manual of Shafi’i jurisprudence “The Reliance of the Traveller” actually declares it apostasy “to deny that Allah intended the Prophet’s message (Allah bless him and give him peace) to be the religion followed by the entire world.” (section o8.20)

Are Dr Hasan’s justifications not remarkably weak? Who will be convinced by them? Surely not the Muslims who chased him out of his own mosque with death threats for talking about evolution. Nor the Jihadis decamping for Syria, leaving behind the family members to tell us they never knew they were extreme. Nor those of us without a scholar’s knowledge but with eyes to read. But possibly those desperate to be reassured, like our political leaders intent on believing that the peaceful religion of Islam has been hijacked by extremists.

And yet, oddly enough, the very feebleness of Dr Hasan’s arguments could be taken as a sign of genuineness. They are hardly the clever double talk of Tariq Ramadan or the quick fire patter of Mehdi Hasan. Those of a charitable disposition could well believe that it is not Dr Hasan’s intention to lull non-Muslims while the hardliners strengthen their position in the country, even though that must surely be the likely effect of his efforts. He is certainly a brave and, apparently, a decent man. Could it be that he is sincere but clutching at straws in the hope that Islam can be induced to change into something it has never shown any inclination to be throughout its history?

If so, then hope must be the operative word here, rather than expectation or even belief. In the end are Dr Hasan’s entreaties not of a piece with his Quilliam partner Maajid Nawaz’s plea to the audience of an “Is Islam a religion of peace” debate, “Please vote for the motion, even if you don’t believe Islam is a religion of peace, in order to encourage it to become so”? (right at the end):