YOU ARE WRONG, MR. PRESIDENT! VERY WRONG!
by David Sisler
President Bush said Tuesday, October 28, 2003, during a Rose Garden press conference, that controversial remarks by Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin about Muslims and Islam do not “reflect my point of view, or the view of this administration.”
Tuesday evening at the White House, Mr. Bush hosted an iftar, or fast-breaking meal, for about 80 Muslim leaders and ambassadors from largely Muslim nations, marking a rite during Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims.
In his welcoming remarks, as reported by John Hendren, of the Los Angeles Times, “the president distanced Islam from terrorism, saying: ‘Terrorists who use religion to justify the taking of innocent life have no home in any faith.’”
You are wrong, Mr. President. Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and their like, have, and maintain, a home in Islam.
To be sure, Christianity has had its murderous elements, its fringe groups who have tried to justify violence, but there is nothing in Christianity that equals “the al-Qaeda network, or Hezbollah, or Islamic Jihad, or Hamas, or any of the myriad other Muslim terrorist groups” (Robert Spencer, Islam Unveiled, page 3).
Note: Spencer’s book, published by Encounter Books in 2002 is an excellent source of information on what Spencer subtitles, “the world’s fastest-growing faith.” In 176 pages of text, Spencer authenticates his work with 516 footnotes. For the remainder of this column, I will quote Islam Unveiled frequently. It may be cumbersome, but I will also include the footnoted references. And I will use Spencer’s spelling of the title of Islam’s holy book: the Qur’an.
President Bush’s comments on Tuesday night – that terrorists have no home in any faith (and he was speaking specifically to a gathering of Muslims) – give justification to the statement of Alexander Stille, a Middle Eastern scholar. Stille said, “Between fear and political correctness, it’s not possible to say anything other than sugary nonsense about Islam” (Alexander Stille, “Scholars Are Quietly Offering New Theories of the Koran,” New York Times, 2 March 2002, p. A1; Islam Unveiled, page 4).
A short history lesson is in order.
“Most Americans got their first taste of contemporary Islamic terrorism at the Munich Olympics of 1972, when Muslim terrorists murdered Israeli athletes. But at that time observers, both Western and Middle Eastern, assured us that this attack had nothing to do with true Islam, that it was simply another skirmish in the protracted war between Israel and Palestine. We have heard this line again since then.
“In 1979, Muslims stormed the U.S. embassy in Iran and took fifty-two hostages. Once more we were advised that this had nothing to do with Islam, but instead was an expression of the rage that Iranian citizens felt toward the American government for its support of the hated shah.
“When a Muslim suicide bomber blew up a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 and killed 241 Americans, news analysts again explained that this had nothing to do with Islam per se; it was another purely political matter.
“Over and over, the counterpoint between violence and exculpation has been repeated: when Muslim terrorists threw the elderly, wheelchair-bound Leon Klinghoffer to his death off the hijacked cruise ship Achilee Lauro in 1985; when militant Muslims first bombed the World Trade Center in 1993; when they killed nineteen American soldiers in the bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996; when they bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; when they bombed the USS Cole in 2000. Each time that Muslim terrorists struck, Americans hastened to assure themselves and the world: We know this is not the real Islam; we know these terrorists are hijacking the religion of peace.
“This chorus swelled after September 11. George W. Bush, Tony Blair and virtually every other Western leader insisted that their shadowy foe in this strange new war was not Islam, but terrorism, and that the relationship between the two was only coincidental” (Islam Unveiled, page 1-2).
Spencer says, “If there are elements of Islam ... that engender violence, it is neither irresponsible nor hateful to say so. This is not in order to incite thugs to attack Muslims on the street, but to look squarely at what the West is really up against (Islam Unveiled, page 5).
Any discussion of Islam must begin with the fact that “the religion has no central authority beyond the Qur’an” (Islam Unveiled, page 9).
“The Qur’an constitutes the alpha and omega of the Islamic religion in the sense that all that is Islamic, whether it be its laws, its thoughts, its spiritual and ethical teachings and even its artistic manifestations, have their roots in the explicit or implicit teachings of the Sacred Text” (Seyyed Hossein Nast, A Young Muslim’s Guide to the Modern World, Kazi Publications, 1994, p. 15; Islam Unveiled, page 17).
Caesar E. Farah, a Muslim scholar writes, “More than representing the supreme embodiment of the sacred beliefs of Islam, its bible and its guiding light, the Qur’an constitutes the Muslim’s main reference not only for matters spiritual but also for the mundane requirements of day to day living” (Caesar E. Farah, Islam, 6th edition, Barrons, 2000, p. 77; Islam Unveiled, page 17).
So what does the Qur’an say on the topic of how to treat non-Muslims?
“Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate” (Sura 9:73).
“Muhammad is God’s Apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another” (Sura 48:29).
“Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Deal firmly with them. Know that God is with the righteous” (Sura 9:123).
“Fight against such as ... do not embrace the true Faith, until they ... are utterly subdued” (Sura 9:29).
When thirteen Christian churches were torched in Djakarta, Indonesia in 1998 mobs shouted, “We are Muslim gentlemen and they are Christian pigs” and, paraphrasing the Qur’an, they continued, “Kill all the pagans!” One Muslim shouted at an army officer who was trying to protect some Christians to “stand aside and allow Islamic justice to take its course” (Aid to the Church in Need, “Religious Freedom in the Majority Islamic Countries 1998 Report: Indonesia;” Islam Unveiled, page 163).
“The idea of progressive revelation is generally absent from Islam, whereas in Judaism and Christianity, it is commonly accepted. The Old Testament has numerous passages that no Jew or Christian would take as marching orders for today. No Christian or Jew is likely to sell his daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7), for example, or put to death someone who works on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2). But for the Muslim, all of the Qur’an’s commands are valid for all time. This fact is often overlooked when religionists of all persuasions start waging scripture wars” (Islam Unveiled, page 23).
And still we are supposed to believe that Islamic terrorists have hijacked the true faith. Are we to remain ignorant of the fact that the philosophy of the terrorists is firmly rooted in Islamic law – whether or not moderate Muslims reject their interpretation?
“Have people who commit such [terrorist acts] ‘hijacked’ Islam? It would be hard to make a case that they are bad Muslims. They are simply obeying the Qur’anic injunctions to ‘slay the unbelievers wherever you find them’ (Sura 9:5), for ‘Muhammad is God’s Apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another’ (Sura 48:29)” (Islam Unveiled, page 163).
What about suicide killers?
In June 2001, Sheikh Ibrahim Mahdi exclaimed on Palestine’s official TV station, “Blessings on whoever has put a belt of explosives on his body and plunged into the midst of the Jews” (William J. Bennett, Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism, Doubleday, 2002, p. 122; Islam Unveiled, page 28).
On its now defunct website, al-Muhajiroun posted this perspective: “The name ‘suicide-operations used by some is inaccurate ... How great is the difference between one who commits suicide ... because of his unhappiness ... and between the self-sacrificer who embarks on the operation out of strength of faith and conviction, and to bring victory to Islam, by sacrificing his life for the upliftment [sic] of Allah’s word!” (“The Islamic Ruling on the Permissibility of Martyrdom Operations,” www.al-muhajiroun.com,1 November 2001; Islam Unveiled, page 28).
“According to the Qur’an, the ‘self-sacrificer’ has much to look forward to: ‘He that leaves his dwelling to fight for God and His apostle and is then overtaken by death, shall be rewarded by God’ (Sura 4:100). These rewards are well-known: a heaven filled with the delights of the flesh, vividly described in many verses of the Qur’an: dark-eyed maidens, nonintoxicating liquors and so forth.
“The blessed: ‘shall recline on jeweled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris, chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds’” (Sura 56:15-24) (Islam Unveiled, page 28 – the parenthetical remark is in the original.)
Note: “houris” is a voluptuous, alluring woman, one of the beautiful virgins of the Qur’anic paradise; “guerdon” is a recompense or reward.
“That these promises are real incentives for many Muslims today was underscored by a jarring incident witnessed by Jack Kelley of USA Today. At a school run by Hamas, he saw a youth of eleven years give a report to his class: ‘I will make my body a bomb,’ said the boy, ‘that will blast the flesh of the Zionists, the sons of pigs and monkeys ... I will tear their bodies into little pieces and will cause them more pain than they will ever know.’ His classmates shouted in response, ‘Allah Akhbar,’ [God is great] and his teacher shouted, ‘May the virgins give you pleasure’” (Quoted in Yotam Feldner, “72 Black-Eyed Virgins?” Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2001, p. 17; Islam Unveiled, page 29).
Finally, Spencer writes, “It would be too pessimistic to say that there are no peaceful strains in Islam, but it would be imprudent to ignore the fact that deeply imbedded in the central documents of the religion is an all-encompassing vision of a theocratic state that is fundamentally different from and opposed to the post-Enlightenment Christian values of the West ... But in Western Europe and North America, the fact that Islam at its core contains elements that are not peaceful or benign has become the truth that dares not speak its name.
“Instead, the news media indulges in puerile and outrageously inaccurate comparisons.
“The Society of Professional Journalists ... warned America’s newspeople not to refer to the September 11 terrorists without also referring to ‘white supremacists, radical antiabortionists, and other groups with a history of such activity’” (Nicholas D. Kristoff, “All-American Osamas,” New York Times, 7 June 2002; Islam Unveiled, page 173-174).
“Such statements and intentions betray an appalling ignorance both of Islam and of our own culture and heritage ... The culture of tolerance threatens to render the West incapable of drawing reasonable distinctions. The general reluctance to criticize any non-Christian religion and the almost universal public ignorance about Islam make for a lethal mix.
“These days it’s considered in bad taste to point out that the Qur’an and the Bible do not teach identical moral precepts, or that the Muhammad of Islam and the Jesus of Christianity are not interchangeable” (Islam Unveiled, page 174-175).
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin may not reflect the point of view President George W. Bush or the view of his administration. Regardless of that, the general was 100 percent correct when he characterized the war on terrorism as a battle between Judeo-Christian tradition and Satan. Well did the general say, “This is a spiritual enemy [that] will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”
Mr. President, I urge you to reconsider your position.
Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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