Sunday, June 1, 2008

Celestial Junk: Distorting Islam

Mohammed Lawgiver

Let’s take a closer look at another one of Junky Paul’s highly dubious assertions:

There may be any number of reasons why Islam is so uncompromisingly supremacist, but one reason stands out among all others. That is the fact that the foundational texts of Islam are supremacist in the extreme ... to the point of advocating violence as the main form of enforcement. To read about Muhammad, whose example all Muslims are required to follow, is to read about a brutal chauvinist who used murder, deceit, theft and all kind of barbaric means to pursue his agenda. Furthermore, he took the chauvinism common in his time and expanded on it, making Christian chauvinism of the era pale in comparison.

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this is nothing but highly skewed opinion without any factual substantiation whatsoever provided. We couldn’t possibly know from simply reading the foregoing what exactly in the “foundational texts” is “uncompromisingly supremacist” as Junky Paul claims and therefore we’re forced to guess at what he may be referring to.

Presumably, he’s drawing from a widely quoted hadith (the literature that recounts the sayings and the actions of the Prophet) where some contend the idea of Islamic supremacy is encapsulated in the formula “Islam is exalted and nothing is exalted above it.” It’s claimed that pursuant to this principle, Muslim women may not marry non-Muslim men, defamation of Islam is prohibited, and the testimony of a non-Muslim is inadmissible against a Muslim, and so on.

It’s also claimed by some that Islamic supremacy can be found in certain verses of the Qur’an that, for example, tells Muslims to be harsh or ruthless to unbelievers (48:29) that it describes as the “vilest of created beings” (98:6). Some critics interpret such passages as sanctioning violence and even wholesale military action against unbelievers or kafirs. Other scholars however argue that such verses of the Qur’an are misinterpreted and maintain that when they’re read in context it clearly appears that while prohibiting aggression in general, Islam sets down clear guidelines as to when war is ethically right and clear guidelines as to how such wars should be conducted.

Like the Bible and other such “holy books” there always seems to be much dispute over the “correct” interpretation of what are supposed to be divinely revealed truths. In this case however, Muhammad very clearly articulated his position vis-à-vis tolerance of the Christians in a letter addressed to the religious leaders of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai who had sought the protection of the Muslims:

“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are declared to be protected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation [Muslims] is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day [end of the world].”

Well, it’s rather difficult to see any of the “brutal chauvinism” Junky Paul speaks of manifest in the Prophet’s Charter of Priviliges, wouldn’t you say? Quite to the contrary, this “foundational text” covers all important aspects of human rights, including such topics as the protection of minorities living under Islamic rule, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war. Hmmm. Go figure.