Saturday, September 15, 2007

Islam again

This thread is hotting up slightly. Ismaeel, from the Muslim Action Committee, has been good enough to engage in debate about religious tradition. Ismaeel and I go back about eighteen months now, and I hope he will not think it inappropriate if I describe our relationship as one of courteous antagonism. MAC was formed to coordinate the British protests against the Danish cartoons, and in response to that I organised a rally in Trafalgar Square in defence of freedom of expression.

That's the context; here's the comment I just posted:

Perhaps the extremism lay in the nature of the response, rather than the fact of the response, Ismaeel. But I would not personally have used that word about your organisation's response to the Pope's speech, although I do think your organisation is extremist, for reasons I'd be happy to explain.

In fact, in his quoted remarks, Faiz Siddiqi was disingenuous and misleading. Criticising the Pope for remarks he quoted, as though he made them himself, is misleading. Speaking of Jihad as peaceful in this context, when the rather tetchy comments in question were made by a man actually beseiged at the very moment of his speech by a Muslim army was disingenuous.

As you know, some years later Byzantium was successfully conquered by a Muslim army who were not at that time engaged in peaceful internal dialogue. A four day orgy of sodomy, beheading and looting followed. Then the Christian Churches were turned into Mosques.

Even Mecca was converted to Islam by the sword, even Saudi Arabia, even the land crusaders later tried to win back for Christianity. Muslim armies first crossed into Europe in the early eighth century; eight hundred years later they were beseiging Vienna. In the centuries between those dates, they continually attacked Europe, just as Jihadists are attacking Europe today.

We have had a couple of centuries free from attack by Muslims, that's all. It was won by the scientific progress we were able to make as we pursued genuine knwledge after the Reformation and the Enlightenment pushed back religion. Apart from that, it has been nearly one and a half millennia of violence, conquest, aggression, slavery and supremacism - NOT peaceful meditiation - from Muslims.

In this context it is not Ali who is expounding a dangerous philosophy; it is you. Islamic tradition, as opposed to the Koran (with which there is also considerable fault), is what has given the Islamic world five centuries of underachievement and brutality. It is something to be contextualised and reformed, not perpetuated with absolutist and fundamentalist fervour.


Ismaeel said...

i like that courteous anatagonism.

In response to your very strange set of comments which i know from personal discussions with you that you don't totally believe in, that firstly Shaykh Faiz was responding to the quotation by the Pope which he was using to make a contemporary point.

Shaykh Faiz doesn't deny that there is military Jihad and he discusses in his post, the point he was making is that Islam was not spread by the sword- people were not forced to become Muslim.

Mecca was not conquered by the sword, the people of Mecca surrendered the city to the Prophet (PBUH) and most of them became Muslims voluntarily despite being given a very long amnesty in which they were allowed to carry on with their pagan rituals. Yes those who were pagans had to eventually choose to leave or convert. That is because for 23 years they had been at the forefront of waging war upon the Muslims. They however lost the war and they were treated in a far better manner than any contemporary victor treats it's enemies. Can you imagine Saddam Hussain or Mullah Omar being forgiven and recruited into high office by the US govt? No neither can I.

As for the land of Sham (modern day Palestine/Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria)it is instructive to note that the Muslims were seen as and welcomed and aided by the indigenous population who wanted to be well rid of the oppressive intolerant and corrupt Byzantium Empire who had indeed spread the Orthodox faith by the sword persecuting any other form of Christianity within it's borders- I remember actually discussing this with you in Oxford and you agreeing.

Your discussion of the conquest of Constantinople doesn't tally with the accounts which i have read, it is important to note however that it was again the Byzantines who provoked the attack on Constantinople by encouraging crusaders to enter the lands as they felt the young Sultan Mehmet was not skilled enough to withstand a strong military attack. In the interests of securing the security of his state Mehmet had to attack Constantinople- a pre-emptive strike shall we call it?

I will not pretend that there have not been tyrants amongst Muslim sultans and caliphs there have been and i will not pretend there have not been atrocities and intolerance perpetrated by such people either in the name of Islam or otherwise.

However it would be foolish of you to suggest that we could not find parallels in western tradition whether Christian or Secular. It is blatant denial of the facts to suggest that Facism and Communism weren't the children of an atheistic, secular modern world in the west.

As you also know and again we have discussed, it was Muslim scholars who preserved, applied and expanded on the very same Greek philosophy which was then retransmitted by means of Islamic universities in Spain into western Europe which were the means of the succession of reformation, renaisance and enlightenment.
All of these scholars were acting on Islamic imperatives found in the Qur'aan to seek out knowledge and examine the natural world.

You know as well as i do Islamic tradition is not monolithic and it is worrying to see an intelligent man as yourself allow yourself to be drawn into such a polemic.

Shaykh Faiz's words are particularly pertinent because they explain clearly the issues that concern you. Young Muslims who have not had the traditional spiritual training- in the jihad against oneselves in controlling one's desires and emotions, seeing a world in which Muslims are under attack and suffering horribly subject Islam to their own individual interpretation- thus the results we have seen, this is a characteristic of such things throughout histroy and of all people. Ali Eretraz's interpetations in this sense are no difference in their manner, they seek to submit the Divine to man rather than the other way around.

Ismaeel said...

while you're at it please do explain why we are an extremist group and do me so good as to tell as who you regard as moderates in the British Muslim mileu today (if anyone!!!).

Ismaeel said...

Sorry Peter
as is always the case with me, i always seem to miss something first time around. At the end of your post you mention the Islamic world underachieving for five hundred years because of our tradition.

This somewhat proves you do agree with me in some of the points i made earlier. However getting to your point, it is true the Islamic world has been in decline for the last five hundred years- but is that because of tradition or in spite of it?

If we look back this has been the period of great internal strife amongst Muslims- of disunity, civil war, the breaking up into states and empires- all in contradiction to the entreaties of our Prophet (PBUH) to remain united under one Imam. As i said earlier there have been many Muslim tyrants especially in the period we are discussing and their internal faction and personal corruption lead to a lack of patronage of the sciences and the eventual dominance of the European powers.

Sadly the Muslims were deprived of the means of electing their leaders early in Islamic history and again in contradiction to tradition. When this disappeared, so did to a large extent accountability and transparency.

None of this can however be rightly directed against the Ulema and Shuyukh of the four madhabs, who took it upon themselves to attempt to call these rulers to account and bring them back towards Islamic governance. Indeed many of them also wanted the Muslims to advance themselves scientificallhowever the political will and largesse was not there, it was instead invested in wars against neigbours or in personal extravegances, it still isn't today. Bezzazudin Said Nusri of the Ottomon Empire and Maulana Abdul Bari of India were good examples of this. Even today here in Hijaz College we are attempting to train english speaking Ulema with a combination of the best of traditional Islamic education and modern scientific education.

When we look at the modern Islamic world, the majority of governments are non-Islamic and even anti-Islamic and yet there is no progress materially. Instead the trend of corrupt rulers making themselves rich and fat (if not attacking their neighbours) continues whilst the people suffer.
The fact that this situation is subsidised by many western governments means that the natural inclination to identify with Islam as an alternative to this decadence means that people are inclined also to be anti-western.
The issue of foreign policy in this mess goes back way beyond the current conflict to the original dismemberment of the Ottomon Empire.

I'm sure you know Peter, being an educated man that the Ottomon Empire was for the larger part of it's existance in decline and it's wars were rarely religiously motivated, often rather like the European powers of the time motivated by a desire to acquire land and power.

Last century Germany tried to conquer Europe twice, Russia attempted to swallow Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the rest of the world. The British Empire, French Empire, Dutch and Portugese Empires were all dismantled last century. All of these were built on Enlightenment values and were hardly free of violence, conquest, slavery and supremicism now where they?

Ismaeel said...

Or how about Civil Antagonism?

Anonymous said...

They can find out the details of Muhammad’s life, and consider what is the likely effect of those details on Muslims who are taught to regard Muhammad, a warrior who took part in 78 military campaigns, 77 of them offensive, as the Model of Conduct, the Perfect Man -- uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil -- for all Muslims, and for all time. Consider the implications of that in light of the beheading of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, the attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, the satisfaction taken when he heard of the assassinations of Abu Akaf and Asma bint Marwan, the “treaty-making model” of Al Hudaibiyyah, and of course the business with little Aisha.

Of course there are many more things infidels can find out about, apostasy, dhimmitude, jizyah, taqiyya, the treatment of women. Ismaeel, I don't like your religion. I can't be too concerned about what happens in Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Iran but I'm very concerned about the negative effect Islam is having on my country. I intend to do what ever I can to diminish it's influence as much as is possible.

Ismaeel said...

Yes it's very easy to take a polemical heavily biased decontextualised and one-sided view of all of the above. However here we are trying to have an adult discussion.
So anonymous- you don't even have enough courage to identify yourself- if you wish to bring up some issues i'm happy to clarify them for you with pleanty of material which i'm sure has not been discosed to you by the morons who run jihad watch. If not don't bother speaking as you have added nothing to do this debate so far.

Peter Risdon said...

Ismaeel, I'll try to respond in full to the points you have raised later today. Sorry for the delay, I got sidetracked by another issue.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course, it's all in the context. Isn't it always? Whatever the people at Jihadwatch are they are not morons. The material they use come from the Koran, Hadith and Sira. If you have any issues with Robert Spencer et al then one of the things that impresses me most about them is their willingness to debate the issues anywhere, anytime. I'm sure if you contact him he'll be happy to discuss the material you refer to.

One thing I forgot to add to my list in the previous post were the so called 'satanic verses'. One question that's always puzzled me is how come Muhammed couldn't tell the difference between the angel Gabriel and Satan?

Finally, my name's unimportant.

Ismaeel said...

Bla Bla Bla, as Peter knows i've discussed probably all these issues and more at length with various people over the March for Free Expression blog and am certainly not going to repeat myself here for someone who doesn't have the courtesy to give his name.

So what if Jihad Watch's sources are the Qur'an, Sunnah and Sirah? Is Robert Spencer an arabic scholar? Is he familiar with the various critical sciences employed by Islamic scholars in interpreting the above sources? No. He's just another idiot pulling various pieces out of a hat and adding 2 and 2 and making 5.
I'll give u some brief examples to make my point- even the foremost commentator of Sahih Bukhari- Ibn Hajar Asqalani (RAA) doesn't regard every single hadith in it as being authentic- in fact he criticises many narrations as been weak and baseless. The books of Sirah are even worse in this regard. The hadith books by themselves offer little or no context for many of the hadith and require commentaries for their explanation- as they are usually arranged in a manner for either jurists to use them for rulings or for other specialists for other reasons.
Until modern times these books were not freely available to the masses nor did the ulema encourage their reading by the masses of the Muslims for these very reasons.
I haven't time for Spencer et al as i prefer serious debate which i believe i will actually get here with Peter.

Ismaeel said...

Oh and just so you're sure that i'm not just making these things up- have a read of an online book- Understanding the Ahle-as-Sunnah- which is actually a Sunni defence of our theology vs a Salafy one- therefore you can feel quite confident there is no "taqiyya" involved- read the whole book if you still don't believe me, here is the relevant section-
As you can see the author points out some of the many criticims of the authenticity of some hadith in Bukhari and Muslim.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that you recognise how hopelessly confused Islam is. 'Critical sciences', I love it. That is the real problem. So much of it is open to a remarkably violent and intolerant interpretation. I've no time for it at all.

I nearly forgot my favourite bit about the Koran, it's not from God.

'Muhammad produced no miracles and when pressed he claimed that his miracle is the Quran. Yet a cursory look at the Quran reveals that this book is full of errors. Quran is replete with scientific heresies, historic blunders, mathematical mistakes, logical absurdities, grammatical errors and ethical fallacies. It is badly compiled and it contradicts itself. There is nothing intelligent in this book let alone miraculous. Muhammad challenged people to produce a “Surah like it” or find an error therein, yet Muslims would kill anyone who dares to criticize it. In such a climate of hypocrisy and violence truth is the first casualty'.

Ismaeel said...

Yes it's very easy to bring assertions without bringing even a single example to back it up.

Anonymous there is no point in debating with you because there is no middle ground to be found, i tire of your pointless diatrabes and will therefore no longer be responding to any of your posts.

Peter i await your responses with baited breath (figure of speech of course would have asphyxiated by now if that was the case).

Anonymous said...

I can't say I'm surprised that you'll no longer be responding to any of my posts. Let's leave the last word to 'Apostates of Islam'.

Why Mohammed was not a prophet:

One who claims to be a messenger of God is expected to live a saintly life. He must not be given to lust, he must not be a sexual pervert, and he must not be a rapist, a highway robber, a war criminal, a mass murderer or an assassin. One who claims to be a messenger of God must have a superior character. He must stand above the vices of the people of his time. Yet Muhammad’s life is that of a gangster godfather. He raided merchant caravans, looted innocent people, massacred entire male populations and enslaved the women and children. He raped the women captured in war after killing their husbands and told his followers that it is okay to have sex with their captives and their “right hand possessions” (Quran 33:50) He assassinated those who criticized him and executed them when he came to power and became de facto despot of Arabia. Muhammad was bereft of human compassion. He was an obsessed man with his dreams of grandiosity and could not forgive those who stood in his way. Muhammad was a narcissist like Hitler, Saddam or Stalin. He was astute and knew how to manipulate people, but his emotional intelligence was less evolved than that of a 6-year-old child. He simply could not feel the pain of others. He brutally massacred thousands of innocent people and pillaged their wealth. His ambitions were big and as a narcissist he honestly believed he is entitled to do as he pleased and commit all sorts of crimes and his evil deeds are justified.

You're right about one thing. There is no middle ground.