A friend posted this entertaining contribution to a recent Oxford University debate: Huffpost UK political editor Mehdi Hasan arguing that Islam is a peaceful religion. You should watch it to see how an entertaining secular Shi’a Muslim counters the claims.
“One of the best arguments against people who claim Islam as a religion of war,” said the post.
And, you know, we all wish it were true that Islam really were a religion of peace, that we could all live together and just get along, that everyone has just got Islam wrong and if they would only stop then peace would soon break out.
But this is to ignore too much.
“One of the best arguments against people who claim Islam as a religion of war” is made in spite of Islam’s beginnings in having been initiated and spread specifically as a doctrine justifying war and conquest.
This in spite of Islam’s followers being responsible (taking the count only in recent weeks) for firebombing a newspaper in Hamburg; for murdering journalists and shoppers in Paris, cafe-goers in Sydney, and a whole town of 2000 people in Nigeria -- not to mention assorted beheadings and atrocities in Syria and Iraq, and the Boko Haram savages who strapped a bomb to a 10-year old girl to show how peaceful Islam is.
This in spite of passages such as this in the Quran and Hadith inveighing upon good Muslims to advance their religion by violence:
- "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." 8:12
- Those that the Muslims killed were not really killed by them. It was Allah who did the killing. 8:17
- "And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah." 8:39
- If you refuse to fight, Allah will afflict you with a painful doom. 9:39
- "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness." 9:123
- Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. "O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.” Bukhari, 52:177
- Allah's Apostle said... “I have been made victorious with terror.”' Bukhari, 52: 220
This in spite of there being “no sect, … no group within Islam that has formulated a comeback, an understanding, a construction of Islamic theology based on the Quran that makes a case to reject violence and supremacism and the subjugation of unbelievers.”
Islam is not a religion of peace. It is a religion of submission. Peace between disbelievers and followers of the Quran can only break out when the former submit to the latter, who are themselves submitting to all the teaching s of the Quran, however vile.
Those who believe absurdities can be easily persuaded to commit atrocities. And do. And have. And will keep on doing so.
To pretend despite this that Islam is not evil is, suggests Craig Biddle, to share some portion of the blame.
Those who whitewash Islam thereby spiritually aid the jihadists. Although such aid to the enemy may be legal, it is nevertheless evil, and it should be recognized and labelled as such.
It is time for all civilized people to acknowledge—and to say openly—that to pretend Islam is not evil is to bear some measure of responsibility for the atrocities committed in its name.
So how does British political journalist, broadcaster and author Mehdi Hasan square all this with his claim that the religion he follows is a religion of peace?
To his credit, he has written before condemning suicide bombing in the name of Islam. But he has also argued against free speech, saying “Misrepresentative portrayals of Muslims and other minorities will not stop unless newspapers are threatened with sanctions.” And, if we strip away from his entertaining debate delivery the various aspersions cast upon his debaters, and his praise about the Golden Age of Islam (which was indeed Golden, but it was was not Arabs qua Islamists who were responsible for this Muslim Golden Age but Arabs qua Aristotelians, and the Golden Age was ended by the very brand of Muslim scholars who still hold sway today) we’re left with the meat of his argument (appearing from about 8 minutes in): which is that despite all the invocations to violence in the Muslims’s Good Book, 1) at least 2 imams have denounced violence committed in Islam’s name1; and 2) only a very, very small proportion of Muslims these days choose to commit violence in its name2.
On the face of it, this is great. Except clearly the imams talking to Muslims who are committing atrocities aren’t discouraging them (to say the least). And even if we ignore the 37% of Muslims who told Gallup 9/11 was either completely, partially or in some way justified, we still have a recent poll for the Pew Global Attitudes Project, cited by Hasan himself, in which 68 per cent of Palestinian Muslims, 43 per cent of Nigerian Muslims and 38 per cent of Lebanese Muslims said they believed suicide bombings against civilian targets were often or sometimes justified in order to "defend Islam from its enemies"; and we have other Pew Research polls (see below) in which the a substantial minority favour killing a family member who engages in premarital sex or adultery, and an overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide favour stoning people who commit adultery, cutting the hands of accused robbers, and killing those who leave Islam.
Not to mention Islamic views on free speech, which are both radical and unique …
Not only is this the view worldwide, virtually all Muslims remain silent when atrocities are committed in their name. As an Op-Ed once doing the rounds last year makes clear, when the “silent majority” ignore atrocities carried out in their name, they share all the guilt of the perpetrators.
“Very few people were true Nazis,” said [a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II], “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come.”
It’s a little like when the IRA and protestant terrorists were rampant in Ireland and the UK– most Irish were neither involved nor engaged, but they were nonetheless in quiet support and could be relied upon if called upon to leave a door open for “the boys,” or remain silent when necessary.
It was the “peaceful majority” in Ireland, in Nazi Germany, in Mao’s China, in Soviet Russia, in Castro’s Cuba, and in Hutu-ruled Rwanda who were silent, who spoke up too late, and who so often died themselves of what they were too cowed to name.
Fact is, the “peaceful majority” is irrelevant right up until or unless – as in Ireland – the peaceful majority (that’s peaceful majority without the scare quotes) finally says "NO MORE!" – and in speaking up, ends it.
While it’s true that jihadists don’t represent most Muslims, they do represent Islam. But then why don’t most Muslims engage in jihad? Like in any culture, heroes are a small minority, and that goes for Islamic culture as well. The jihadists are Islam’s heroes; they are the ones most dedicated to following Allah’s commands and they’re celebrated in the Muslim world for it. They are also the only ones to whom Islam guarantees paradise.
Their job is made harder because, he says, there is nothing in Islam that stays the hand of Muslims who want to kill non-Muslims.
If an individual Muslim is personally peaceful, it’s not because of Islam, it’s because of his individual choice, which is why I often say that your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad, to their own religion. The very rare Muslim who helps us against Jihad is acting against his religion, but that doesn’t stop some among us from thinking that his existence somehow means that he represents more than himself.
Despite what we may with otherwise, the simple fact is that the only reason we’re even talking about Islam is because it doesn’t mean peace.
And that’s the only reason Mehdi Hasan’s video is being passed around today.
1. He could have gone on. But he would have run out of imams to cite in support of his thesis.
2. A Gallup poll of 50,000 Muslims in 35 countries found that 93% of Muslims rejected 9/11 and suicide attacks, and the 7% who didn’t all cited political reasons for their support for violence, not religious reasons. “But what Hasan didn’t mention is that apparently 30 per cent of respondents believed the 9/11 attacks were partially or in some way justified taking the total world-wide percentage of Muslims who thought 9/11 was either completely, partially or in some way justified, up to 37 per cent.”