Monday, December 1, 2008

Mumbai: A Voice from Moderate Islam

A United Arab Emirates columnist, Sultan Al-Qassemi, has written an eloquent plea for voices of moderate Muslims to be raised in condemnation of the acts of war perpetrated by the terrorists in Mumbai. It is translated courtesy of MEMRI.

He calls for an end to the citing of excuses, e.g. other conflicts, for these actions. In short, there are no excuses.

I hope his voice is heard and replicated. It will also be a response to those who so easily condemn all of Islam for these actions.


Epaminondas said...

It is certainly better than nothing.
But it is absolutely not the authoritative word from someone who is hard to dispute, from ANY of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

I would NOT get my hopes up

The vast balance of history, teaching and the quran goes the other way

hockey hound said...

"Muslim preachers who fail to condemn terror must either be reeducated or discredited completely, and those who excuse terror [by] using certain conflicts as a pretext must be silenced, because the poison that they spread today will come back to haunt us all tomorrow."

I welcome such voices. The world has not heard enough of these voices.

However, I really believe we must address the reality that this Sultan, supposedly a "moderate Muslim", is not the ideal Muslim as outlined in the Koran. As Orianna Falacci wrote, "There can be no moderate Muslim because there is no moderate Islam." Sam Harris points out that "We have a problem with Islamic fundamentalism because we have a problem with the fundamentals of Islam."

"All of Islam" are not the problem, which is to say all Muslims are not the problem. I have never said this. My point is that ISLAM proper is the problem. Wafa Sultan points out that the Muslim terrorist does not pervert Islam, but rather Islam extirpates the humanity of the Muslim terrorist. This I believe. This extirpation of humanity is exactly similar to that effectuated by the lethal combination of Nazism and Christianity within the German populace of Adolf Hitler's Germany.

I watched a documentary (Nat.Geo.) last night on the photo album found, merely by chance, in Berlin shortly after the war (if I remember correctly). It contained pictures taken by a Nazi officer by the name of Hoeker. This photo album has rare photos of Mengela. But what was pointed out by one of the commentators is how "human" these same mass-murderers looked at the parties they attended while stationed at Auchwitz-Birkenau-Monowitz. It even shows them playing with their dogs. All the smiles and laughter while a little more than 10 miles away (as one commentator pointed out) Jews were being gassed in "shower rooms" and burned in crematoria.

Watching this documentary, I was remninded of our statements in this blog about these Muslim terrorists and their "helpers", how that they were not human. Which brings me to the point that, as of today, many religious Muslims have gone about their daily lives without condemning these atrocities, have remained silent, even though the bloody facts of these atrocities have been disseminated into the wide world for days.

Even this Sultan can't bring himself to condemn these acts with the words "it's wrong to kill Jews because of the conflict between Israel and the Arab Muslims of the West Bank and Gaza"; even this moderate Muslim is so constricted by his personal attachment to Islam and to his fellow religious (in my opinion) that he must equivocate on that topic [the Jews] mentioned so many times in the Koran; a topic which effectuates such violence against Jews (in my opinion).

I put no hope in "moderate Muslims" because there is, as Orianna Fallaci points out, no "moderat Islam." It would be a hope misplaced. Such moderation, when collocated beside the demographics of Muslim populations in the world today, is but a muted ripple in an ocean of religously taught anger and racism. This is a religion with so many barbaric, anti-Jewish, anti-non-Muslim shibboleths that I haven't the time (nor Prof. Lipstadt's blog the space) to record them here. Point is, the world is not bothered (even those who pretend to be sincere critics of religiously taught intolerance) by the fact that this religion is just as anti-Jewish as was Nazism. Let's be truthful.

It is because of my study of the Holocaust that I began to argue against the religion of Islam. Imagine, this is a blog concerned about Holocaust denial, and some of us (not me) defend the religion of Islam, a faith overtly anti-Jewish: the Koran says that Jews are bad and so, consequently, Muslims, because their Koran commands them with the threat of damnation and fire, believe this same calumny. How can this not be obvious to anyone studying the Holocaust? How can anyone NOT see this religion's exterminationist ideology as exactly similar to Nazism's?

I don't blame Muslims, I blame their religion. Countless Muslims are good people in spite of their malefic religion.

RichardHutton said...

Hi Deborah.

For a more accurate and informed - or honest - understanding of Islamic fundamentalism than your previous respondents, you might like to read Karen Armstrong's book 'The Battle for God'. It's a scholarly study of the relationship between secularism and fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

There is an unhappy amount of bigotry in 'Hockey Hound's comment: violence and hatred has no ultimate basis in any religion, let alone Islam. There is also a fair amount of misunderstanding in your own opinions regarding Islam and the Muslim world. The Shi'i tradition in particualar is notable here; but the essential tenets of Islam itself are to create a society which is fair and just, and in which wealth is distributed fairly (this I think is the real reason why right-wing commentators despise it). The Ramadan fast, for instance, is designed to inculcate empthy with those who are impoverished and deprived. All religions advocate practical compassion - The Koran is no different, as becomes clear when read, rather than speculated upon.

The kind of violence seen in Mumbai comes from the same place as that of Protestant/Catholic fundamentalists who bomb abortion clinics in America, and the Gush and Kookists in Israel. It derives from an embattled mindset which perceives secularism as a fundamental threat to their identity and - to some degree - their existence; and it finds its counterpart amongst Liberal humanists who believe their own sacred values are under threat (i.e. individual liberty and free expression etc.).

Armstrong has also written extensively on this theme for The Guardian, and her articles can be found at the following:

But personally I'd go with her book, and with reading the Koran itself. Neither require a specialised understanding of theology to appreciate.


hockey hound said...

Karen Armstrong? I've read the book ages ago. Karen Armstong is out of the loop (and out to lunch). It's a boring work of sophistry and wishful thinking equal only to James Carroll's 'Constantine's Sword'. Throw another book at me and I'll let you know whether I've read it or not. I read five and six books at at time. You've mistaken me for an ignoramus.

We're not talking about the platitudinous Islam Karen Armstrong and her noetic library squirrels are promising the world, we're talking about veridical Islam-the Islam inspiring Muslim terrorists to blow themselves up in the midst of children.

"There is an unhappy amount of bigotry in 'Hockey Hound's comment: violence and hatred has no ultimate basis in any religion, let alone Islam."

Really. Have you read the Koran? I really don't think so. And I really can't imagine Prof. Lipstadt allowing you and I to carry on with a religious colloquy on her blog, but were she to allow it, I could easily expose you (and Karen Armstrong) as the naive and noetic dreamer that you are.

"...violence and hatred has no ultimate basis in any religion, let alone Islam."

Please. Are you actually in command of your senses? Ever heard of the Holocaust? I can list you pogroms to no end committed by Muslims against Jews. Are you purporting that violence is not an intended efficacy of Islam? Are you purporting that Islam is not bigoted?

You are so far from reality that I am not going to tire myself out contending with you. You need to read some more. But don't go to the newspapers: they're convinced there are no "terrorists" hiding in the darker corners of the world. Don't depend on Karen Armstrong: she's convinced Islam is a salubrious religion (as you are convinced about "any religion") and so how to find honesty and objectivity from a "theologian" who disdains such critiques as taboo?

Forgive my bigoted humour, but you sound "as cavil as a Jesuit" (that's a Jansenist/Pascalian joke).

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Sorry but Hockeyhound is right. I really don't want the blog to become a place for a back and forth on this...

Deborah Lipstadt said...

I am not a specialist on Islam so i cannot say what the Koran says and does not say. therefore I have stayed out of those kind of conversations.

I do however and have condemned blanket condemnations, which is precisely why I posted this comment about moderate Islam.

If you only know how many blatant and sweeping attacks on Islam and, more importantly, on all Muslims I have rejected....

Sultan Al-Qassemi said...

Hey Deborah

Thank you for posting my article. Just a note to say that it was written in English and was published in Israel's Haaretz in Hebrew as well as in India in several languages.


Sultan Al-Qassemi

h said...

Thank you for posting a link to Sultan Al-Qassemi's article which I have read. I don't suppose he is representative of anyone other than himself, much the same as anyone else writing here. He writes nicely, he doesn't use words like 'noetic' and 'malefic'. He sounds sane, he sounds like my Muslim friends.

Ian Thal said...

It's fair to be cynical about whether or not a call for moderation will fail to be heard, or fail to persuade.

It's not fair to reflexively condemn the speaker simply because a great many of his coreligionists should heed his words, or to condemn those who should heed as incapable.

Sultan al-Qassemi and his essay deserve to be judged on their own terms.