Friday, July 27, 2012

What is Shariah?

Its Two Main Foundations: the Quran and Hadith

By James M. Arlandson, Ph.D.

This article about Islamic shariah law is intended for educators, journalists, judges, legislators, city council members, government bureaucrats, think tank fellows, TV and radio talk show hosts, and everyone else who occupies the “check points” in society; they initiate the national dialogue and even shape the flow of the conversation – they are the decision and policy makers.

They have heard the critics of shariah and believe the critics exaggerate. The intellectual elites may even believe the critics are “Islamophobes.” Islam is a world religion, so it deserves respect, after all.

Yet the elites may also have gnawing doubt that the critics are at least partially accurate. Can they be all wrong, all the time? The elites have heard disturbing reports coming out of the Islamic world, and even in their own world.

Defenders of shariah post articles online seeking to allay the secret doubts of the intellectuals. This series quotes extensively from the defenders. The apologists seem to have one main goal in mind: to communicate the message that there is nothing wrong with shariah.

As to the purpose of this present article, it defines the terms and identifies the major legal scholars.

We begin with the Quran and hadith, the two main sources or foundations of shariah, and then move on to shariah itself.

The Quran

Islam flows out of the life, words, example and revelations of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, messenger, or apostle, sent from Allah. The revelations he got from his deity were mainly recited on the mosque pulpit in Medina. Some of the earlier ones were cited in various places in Mecca, like the Kabah shrine where the black stone is housed, or in the marketplace.

Then he moved to Medina in A.D. 622, because the Meccans were going to kill him. But the revelations did not stop. He recited them in various places like the marketplace, on his travels, and in the mosque itself.

They were written down in the Quran several decades after he died. Since they came directly from Allah, the Quran is sacred and inspired. It is binding on all Muslims, if they interpret it correctly.

The Oxford Dictionary of Islam says the Quran is:

. . . The book of Islamic revelation; scripture. The term means “recitation.” The Quran is believed to be the word of God transmitted through the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran proclaims God’s existence and will and is the ultimate source of religious knowledge for Muslims. The Quran serves as both record and guide for the Muslim community, transcending time and space. Muslims have dedicated their best minds and talents to the exegesis and recitation of the Quran because the Quran is the criterion by which everything else is to be judged; all movements, whether of radical reform or of moderate change, whether originating at the center or at the periphery of the Islamic world, have grounded their programs in the Quran and use it as support.[1]

What is so striking about that excerpt is that the Quran transcends time and place. It is cross-cultural and ahistorical; that is, it is applicable to any society today and in the future. The second feature in the excerpt is that the Quran judges all movements of change and reform.

The Quran was written in a time (the seventh century) and a place (Arabia, and specifically the Hejaz or western Arabia). To believe that every verse can be brought forward and applied to the modern world means that the reform of Islam is very difficult.[2] The Quran is a very conservative book, religiously speaking, to say the least.

The Hadith

However, not everything Muhammad did or said made it in the sacred book. In fact, most of what he did or said did not make it in. But he had close companions and others who remembered his words and deeds.

Soon after his death they loved to tell stories about him. “I remember what Allah’s messenger said in this situation.” Or “we were with Allah’s apostle when we fought the pagans at such-and-such battle.” “The prophet ruled that this or that action should be punished or forgiven.” These are the oral traditions, handed down from one generation to the next.

Eventually, some conscientious Muslim scholars observed that the traditions may have been distorted and grew to be unreliable and unsound or were never reliable or sound in the first place. The scholars sifted them by requiring a chain of narrators to be of utmost integrity and honesty.

Did the traditions contradict clear verses in the Quran? Then they were rejected. Yet there still are some passages which contradict statements of the Quran; occasionally hadith are even abrogating the Quran. One example is the hadith of stoning the adulterers which takes priority over the verse of the Quran which demands flogging. Nonetheless, most hadith were rejected if they contradicted the Quran.

Next, were the various passages embarrassing? They were suspect – too bad since embarrassing ones may have the chance of being the most reliable, because a devout and reliable Muslim of authority would never frivolously pass on a tradition that he believed would embarrass his prophet, so the transmitter believed it was true.

In any case, collectors and editors wrote them down in their books, and this body of writing is called the hadith, which may be defined briefly as the reports and narrations and traditions of Muhammad’s deeds and words that take on a sacredness and a binding force. Sometimes they report on the words and deeds of his closest companions who carry their own special authority.

In addition to that brief definition of the hadith, let’s find a more official one. TheOxford Dictionary of Islam says:

Hadith: Report of the words and deeds of Muhammad and other early Muslims; considered an authoritative source of revelation, second only to the Quran (sometimes referred to as sayings of the Prophet). Hadith (pl. ahadith; hadith is used as a singular or a collective term in English) were collected, transmitted, and taught orally for two centuries after Muhammad's death and then began to be collected in written form and codified. They serve as a source of biographical material for Muhammad, contextualization of Quranic revelations, and Islamic law. A list of authoritative transmitters is usually included in collections. Compilers were careful to record hadith exactly as received from recognized transmission specialists... The science of hadith criticism was developed to determine authenticity and preserve the corpus from alteration or fabrication. Chains of authority and transmission were verified as far back as possible, often to Muhammad himself. Chains of transmission were assessed by the number and credibility of the transmitters and the continuity of the chains (isnad). The nature of the text was also examined. Reports that were illogical, exaggerated, fantastic, or repulsive or that contradicted the Quran were considered suspect. Awareness of fabrication and false teaching has long existed but became a major issue in academic circles in the twentieth century due to early reliance on oral, rather than written, transmission. Traditionally, the body of authentic hadith reports is considered to embody the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad.[3]

In the New Encyclopedia of Islam Cyril Glassé, a Muslim, says that the hadith traditions form the foundation of Islamic law and there was the need to write them down so the community could refer to them:

The Hadith were accorded the role of basis of law in Islamic jurisprudence by the universally accepted methodology of ash-Shafi'i [see below]. It then became inevitable that as Islam unfolded in History, the need for the tangible support which Hadith could provide for intellectual and cultural developments called forth the "missing" or "unspoken" Hadith that were now required. If in the first centuries the standard by which Hadith were measured was that of an impeccableisnad, the growing needs of an expanding Islam of later times added de facto another, one of verisimilitude in the eyes of a developed and sophisticated religious community.[4]

Then Glassé says that great care was taken by reliable hadith editors and collectors to get the traditions right.

The collections of Bukhari and Muslim were scrupulously compiled in the first two and a half centuries of Islam. Their authenticity was assured by the criterion which the people of the time found most valid, that of an authoritative isnad, or chain of transmission. The method was based on the assumption that it was unthinkable for God-fearing men to lie about matters which they held sacred; each human link in the chain vouchsafed the others. If in the isnad there were persons whose integrity could be doubted for any reason, however small, the authenticity of the Hadith was to that extent weakened. Biographical study also served to establish the plausibility of the transmissions. Naturally, fabricated Hadith also had fabricated isnad, but criticism of the matn [text of the hadith] would be equivalent to dogmatic discussions of Islam itself – thus analysis discussions turned around the isnad, but often as euphemism for a discussion of the contents.[5]

As noted, Bukhari[6] (d. 870) and Muslim[7] (d. 875) are considered the most reliable, with Bukhari carrying the most weight. We also occasionally use Abu Dawud[8] (d. 875), another authentic collector and editor.[9]


Shariah, sometimes spelled sharia or even shareeah, is Islamic law derived from the Quran and the hadith.[10] With these two sources it is no wonder that many Muslim jurists, indeed the average Muslim, believe that shariah is divine.

And if it is divine, then it must be the foundation of Islamic nations and wherever Islam becomes dominant. It must be implemented, gradually if a nation is non-Islamic and constitutionally if it is. But before we go too far down the path toward the purpose of shariah, we need to formally define it.

We begin with the word “shariah” in the Quran. The three-letter root of shariah is sh-r-‘ and its verb form can mean, among other things, “to lay down law, to ordain, to enact (a law)” (Quran 42:13, 21).[11] In its two noun forms (shariah and shirah) it can mean “an open way, a clear way, a right way . . . a Divine law, an access” (Quran 5:48; 45:18).[12]

Moving on to other sources, we find that the Concise Encyclopedia of Islamdefine shariah as “the road to the watering place, the clear path to be followed, as a technical term, the canon law of Islam.”[13]

The Dictionary of the Holy Quran adds that the verb and noun forms signify, “establish a law, appoint a religion ... law or institution prescribed by God; right way or mode of action ... system of divine law; way of belief and practice.”[14]

These definitions imply that shariah is a whole way of life.

Expanding on shariah’s literal definitions, the Oxford Dictionary of Islam says:

Two terms are used to refer to law in Islam: shariah and fiqh. Shariah refers to God's divine law as contained in the Quran and the sayings and doings of Muhammad (hadith). Fiqh refers to the scholarly efforts of jurists (fuqaha) to elaborate the details of shariah through investigation and debate. Muslims understand shariah to be an unchanging revelation, while fiqh, as a human endeavor, is open to debate, reinterpretation, and change.[15]

Next, Islamic law comes from Allah, but it is found in historical contexts, but despite the human interaction with Islamic law in history, it is divine and absolute. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam says:

Allah's law is not to be penetrated by the intelligence ... i.e. man has to accept it without criticism, with its apparent inconsistencies and its incomprehensible decrees, as wisdom into which it is impossible to enquire. One must not look in it for causes in our sense, nor for principles; it is based on the will of Allah which is bound by no principles, therefore evasions are considered as a permissible use of means put at one's disposal by Allah himself. Muslim law which has come into being in the course of time through the interworking of many factors, which can hardly be exactly appreciated, has always been considered by its followers as something elevated, high above human wisdom, and as a matter of fact human logic or system has little share in it.[16]

However, Islamic law, though having a divine origin, can be explored, in order to find the most suitable ruling and interpretation. Yet Islamic scholars must not put too much stress on theory. Instead, shariah, as we just observed in theDictionary of the Holy Quran, comprises all areas of life and society, including tolerated faiths, if they are not “detrimental to Islam.”

In that light, the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam continues:

A modest enquiry into the meaning of the divine laws so far as Allah himself has indicated the path of enquiry is, however, not prohibited. There is therefore frequent reference to the deeper meaning and suitability ... of a law. But one must always guard against placing too much stress on such theoretical considerations. For this very reason, the [shariah] is not "law" in the modern sense of the word, any more than it is on account of its subject matter. It comprises, without restriction, as an infallible doctrine of duties the whole of the religious, political, social, domestic and private life of those who profess Islam, and the activities of the tolerated members of other faiths so far as they may not be detrimental to Islam.[17]

Despite shariah’s divine origins and its intention to swallow up all aspects of life and society, there is wiggle room, so to speak.

As noted, fiqh is the science of applying and interpreting shariah, done by qualified judges and legal scholars. Over the first two centuries after Muhammad’s death in A.D. 632, four main Sunni schools of fiqh emerged, led by these scholars: Malik (d. 795), Abu Hanifah (d. 767), Shafi’i (d. 820), Ibn Hanbal (d. 855). They in turn had students who added their own opinions to those of their teachers, even many generations after the founding jurists lived.  In other words, fiqh is open to interpretation, and it is not necessarily binding outside of a court of law.

In this series of articles we keep track of a few differences between the various schools, but mainly we will observe the remarkable unanimity on how to implement divine Islamic law. It is this consensus in various rulings, like death or imprisonment for apostates, which implies that we should not take this “wiggle room” too far.  When a shariah judge rules in his courtroom, the decree is indeed binding.

The “Classical” Age

A quick note before we begin the series in earnest: the designation “Classical” is used in the articles. We don’t need a complicated definition.

For our purposes it begins with the death of Ali (the fourth caliph and Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law) in A.D. 661 and goes into the fourteenth century when the law books and commentaries were still flourishing. Especially noteworthy is the eight century when the earliest extant biography of Muhammad was written by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767), and the ninth century when the oral traditions were gathered, edited, and written down into various volumes, now known collectively as the hadith.

The time before Ali’s death will be known in this series as “original Islam.”


Shariah is divine Islamic law that has its roots in the Quran and the traditions (hadith) about Muhammad. Since Allah inspired the Quran, and Muhammad lived the perfect life in conformity to the Quran, shariah is believed to have a divine origin.

However, interpreting shariah is not divine, but can be changed and reinterpreted.

Maybe it is here that we can hold out hope that Islam can evolve and fit into the modern age. But it will be very difficult to reinterpret shariah laws that are based squarely on clear Quranic laws. So we should not be naïve or overly optimistic about the reform of Islam; it certainly will not happen overnight, and maybe not even in our lifetime.

Sharia for Dummies

by Nonie Darwish

Imam Feisal Abdel Rauf claims that the US constitution is Sharia compliant. Now let us examine below a few laws of Sharia to see if Imam Rauf is truthful or a fraud:

1. Jihad defined as “to war against non-Muslims to establish the religion” is the duty of every Muslim and Muslim head of state (Caliph). Muslim Caliphs who refuse jihad are in violation of Sharia and unfit to rule.

2. A Caliph can hold office through seizure of power meaning through force.

3. A Caliph is exempt from being charged with serious crimes such as murder, adultery, robbery, theft, drinking and in some cases of rape.

4. A percentage of Zakat (alms) must go towards jihad.

5. It is obligatory to obey the commands of the Caliph, even if he is unjust.

6. A caliph must be a Muslim, a non-slave and a male.

7. The Muslim public must remove the Caliph in one case, if he rejects Islam.

8. A Muslim who leaves Islam must be killed immediately.

9. A Muslim will be forgiven for murder of : 1) an apostasy 2) an adulterer 3) a highway robber. Making vigilante street justice and honor killing acceptable.

10. A Muslim will not get the death penalty if he kills a non-Muslim.

11. Sharia never abolished slavery and sexual slavery and highly regulates it. A master will not be punished for killing his slave.

12. Sharia dictates death by stoning, beheading, amputation of limbs, flogging and other forms of cruel and unusual punishments even for crimes of sin such as adultery.

13. Non-Muslims are not equal to Muslims and must comply to Sharia if they are to remain safe. They are forbidden to marry Muslim women, publicly display wine or pork, recite their scriptures or openly celebrate their religious holidays or funerals. They are forbidden from building new churches or building them higher than mosques. They may not enter a mosque without permission. A non-Muslim is no longer protected if he commits adultery with a Muslim woman or if he leads a Muslim away from Islam.

14. It is a crime for a non-Muslim to sell weapons to someone who will use them against Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot curse a Muslim, say anything derogatory about Allah, the Prophet, or Islam, or expose the weak points of Muslims. However, the opposite is not true for Muslims.

15. A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim.

16. Banks must be Sharia compliant and interest is not allowed.

17. No testimony in court is acceptable from people of low-level jobs, such as street sweepers or a bathhouse attendant. Women in such low level jobs such as professional funeral mourners cannot keep custody of their children in case of divorce.

18. A non-Muslim cannot rule even over a non-Muslims minority.

19. Homosexuality is punishable by death.

20. There is no age limit for marriage of girls under Sharia. The marriage contract can take place anytime after birth and consummated at age 8 or 9.

21. Rebelliousness on the part of the wife nullifies the husband’s obligation to support her, gives him permission to beat her and keep her from leaving the home.

22. Divorce is only in the hands of the husband and is as easy as saying: “I divorce you” and becomes effective even if the husband did not intend it.

23. There is no common property between husband and wife and the husband’s property does not automatically go to the wife after his death.

24. A woman inherits half what a man inherits.

25. A man has the right to have up to 4 wives and she has no right to divorce him even if he is polygamous.

26. The dowry is given in exchange for the woman’s sexual organs.

27. A man is allowed to have sex with slave women and women captured in battle, and if the enslaved woman is married her marriage is annulled.

28. The testimony of a woman in court is half the value of a man.

29. A woman looses custody if she remarries.

30. To prove rape, a woman must have 4 male witnesses.

31. A rapist may only be required to pay the bride-money (dowry) without marrying the rape victim.

32. A Muslim woman must cover every inch of her body which is considered “Awrah,” a sexual organ. Some schools of Sharia allow the face and some don’t.

33. A Muslim man is forgiven if he kills his wife caught in the act of adultery. However, the opposite is not true for women since he “could be married to the woman he was caught with.”

The above are clear cut laws in Islam decided by great Imams after years of examination and interpretation of the Quran, Hadith and Mohammed’s life. Now let the learned Imam Rauf tell us what part of the above is compliant with the US constitution?

Four Stages of Islamic Conquest

By Civilus Defendus

Islam is not just a religion; it is a theo-political doctrine as implemented under Islamic Sharia Law. People should take note that Islam makes attainment of political goals a religious duty, thereby making inseparable the religious from the political. Islam’s express goal is to spread Islam across the world—to replace or subjugate anything non-Islamic. Wherever Islam thrives, a state within a state develops and the existing government and unbelieving (kafir, infidel) culture is rejected. The Islamic minority grows in until it can conquer, by political or violent means, the established government and replace it with Sharia.

Early on Islam aggressively spread through violence. Today, its modern conquest begins with immigration and enlarging populations followed by a demand for deferential treatment of Islam in the host country, including insistence on religious accommodations, judicial separateness, and general cultural and educational non-integration. Imagined affronts to Islam are claimed and redress demanded. Islam rejects the host law and culture.

Sharia law, heavily influenced by 7th century Arab culture, denounces freedom of speech, religion, expression and action and denies equality between men and women, thereby violating human rights. Sharia has no “Golden Rule” to treat individuals equally. Instead Sharia segregates people into two classes of people: Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims are supreme and non-Muslims are inferior, holding no equal rights under Islam. Muslim-Muslim relations are completely separate from Muslim-kafir relations, where deceit is sanctioned and maltreatment largely unpunished.

No matter the temperament of individual Muslims, the Islamic community as a whole, the “ummah,” drives the process of Islamization (codification of Islamic supremacy via Sharia law) in every country where Islam thrives. There is no room to list the thousands of violent acts of Muslims against non-Muslims in the name of Islam. Across the globe violence and political upheaval are associated with increasing Muslim populations.

The United States is a constitutional republic thoughtfully crafted by our founders, with its government powers defined in the US Constitution and separated into three branches filled by the President, Congress and Courts. Sharia law is irreconcilably in conflict with the US Constitution and our government. Islamic nations, often theocratic oligarchies, condemn liberty, forbid equality and reject traditional concepts of sovereignty.

We cannot extend our tolerance to Islam’s intolerance. Islam and Sharia are grave dangers to the United States of America and to all Western cultures. We must choose liberty, equality and representative government, over Islam’s doctrine of submission, supremacism and dictatorial theocracy.

Consider what the world is going through today, nearly every conflict across the globe involves Islam threatening native populations. The tenets of Islam support violence toward non-Muslims. This should concern you. Please take a moment to consider the following pages.

Stage 1: Infiltration

Muslims begin moving to non-Muslim countries in increasing numbers and the beginning of cultural conflicts are visible, though often subtle.
  • * First migration wave to non-Muslim “host” country.
  • * Appeal for humanitarian tolerance from the host society.
  • * Attempts to portray Islam as a peaceful & Muslims as victims of misunderstanding and racism (even though Islam is not a ‘race’).
  • * High Muslim birth rate in host country increase Muslim population.
  • * Mosques used to spread Islam and dislike of host country & culture.
  • * Calls to criminalize “Islamophobia” as a hate crime.
  • * Threatened legal action for perceived discrimination.
  • * Offers of “interfaith dialogue” to indoctrinate non-Muslims.
How many nations are suffering from Islamic infiltration? One? A handful? Nearly every nation? The Islamic ‘leadership” of the Muslim Brotherhood and others wish to dissolve each nation’s sovereignty and replace it with the global imposition of Islamic sharia law. Sharia law, based on the koran, sira and hadith, condemns liberty and forbids equality and is inconsistent with the laws of all Western nations. As the author and historian Serge Trifkovic states: “The refusal of the Western elite class to protect their nations from jihadist infiltration is the biggest betrayal in history.”

Stage 2: Consolidation Of Power

Muslim immigrants and host country converts continue demands for accommodation in employment, education, social services, financing and courts.
  • * Proselytizing increases; Establishment and Recruitment of Jihadi cells.
  • * Efforts to convert alienated segments of the population to Islam.
  • * Revisionist efforts to Islamize history.
  • * Efforts to destroy historic evidence that reveal true Islamism.
  • * Increased anti-western propaganda and psychological warfare.
  • * Efforts to recruit allies who share similar goals (communists, anarchists).
  • * Attempts to indoctrinate children to Islamist viewpoint.
  • * Increased efforts to intimidate, silence and eliminate non-Muslims.
  • * Efforts to introduce blasphemy and hate laws in order to silence critics.
  • * Continued focus on enlarging Muslim population by increasing Muslim births and immigration.
  • * Use of charities to recruit supporters and fund jihad.
  • * Covert efforts to bring about the destruction of host society from within.
  • * Development of Muslim political base in non-Muslim host society.
  • * Islamic Financial networks fund political growth, acquisition of land.
  • * Highly visible assassination of critics aimed to intimidate opposition.
  • * Tolerance of non-Muslims diminishes.
  • * Greater demands to adopt strict Islamic conduct.
  • * Clandestine amassing of weapons and explosives in hidden locations.
  • * Overt disregard/rejection of non-Muslim society’s legal system, culture.
  • * Efforts to undermine and destroy power base of non-Muslim religions including and especially Jews and Christians.
Is there a pattern here? Theo van Gogh is murdered in the Netherlands for ‘insulting’ Islam; the Organization of the Islamic Conference demands ‘anti-blasphemy’ laws through the United Nations; France is set afire regularly by ‘youths’ (read Muslims); the rise of (dis-) honor killings…holocaust denial…anti-Semitism…deception re the tenets of Islam; hatred toward Christians and Jews and Hindus and Buddhists. The pattern for all to see is the rise of Islamic intolerance and the covert/cultural jihad to remake host societies into sharia-compliant worlds – to remove host sovereignty and replace it with Islamic sharia law. Sharia law that condemns earthly liberty and individual freedom, that forbids equality among faiths and between the sexes, that rejects the concept of nations outside the global house of Islam, that of dar al-Islam.

Stage 3: Open War with Leadership & Culture

Open violence to impose Sharia law and associated cultural restrictions; rejection of host government, subjugation of other religions and customs.
  • * Intentional efforts to undermine the host government & culture.
  • * Acts of barbarity to intimidate citizens and foster fear and submission.
  • * Open and covert efforts to cause economic collapse of the society.
  • * All opposition is challenged and either eradicated or silenced.
  • * Mass execution of non-Muslims.
  • * Widespread ethnic cleansing by Islamic militias.
  • * Rejection and defiance of host society secular laws or culture.
  • * Murder of “moderate” Muslim intellectuals who don’t support Islamization.
  • * Destruction of churches, synagogues and other non-Muslim institutions.
  • * Women are restricted further in accordance with Sharia law.
  • * Large-scale destruction of population, assassinations, bombings.
  • * Toppling of government and usurpation of political power.
  • * Imposition of Sharia law
The website keeps track of the number of violent jihad attacks as best it can. The site lists more than 14,000 attacks since September 2001. It is worth a visit. What is occurring, however, that is likely inestimable are events where muslims are bullied by other muslims for not being “muslim enough,” where non-Muslims are intimidated into doing or not doing what they desire, where remnant populations are in a death spiral simply for being non-muslim in a predominantly muslim area. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists Animists and Atheists meet with death, property destruction or confiscation, forced conversion, rape, excessive taxation (the jizya), enslavement, riotous mobs and various other forms of islam (in-) justice at the hands of muslims in Sudan, Philippines, Kenya, Malaysia, India, etc. And let us not forget ‘death to Apostates’ the world over.

Stage 4: Totalitarian Islamic “Theocracy”

Islam becomes the only religious-political-judicial-cultural ideology.
  • * Sharia becomes the “law of the land.
  • * All non-Islamic human rights cancelled.
  • * Enslavement and genocide of non-Muslim population.
  • * Freedom of speech and the press eradicated.
  • * All religions other than Islam are forbidden and destroyed.
  • * Destruction of all evidence of non-Muslim culture, populations and symbols in country (Buddhas, houses of worship, art, etc).
The House of Islam (“peace”), dar al-Islam, includes those nations that have submitted to Islamic rule, to the soul crushing, liberty-condemning, discriminatory law of Sharia. The rest of the world in in the House of War, dar al-harb, because it does not submit to Sharia, and exists in a state of rebellion or war with the will of ‘Allah.’ No non-Muslim state or its citizens are “innocent,” and remain viable targets of war for not believing in ‘Allah.’ The Christian, Jewish, Coptic, Hindu and Zoroastrian peoples of world have suffered under subjugation for centuries. The Dhimmi-esque are forbidden to construct houses of worship or repair existing ones, economically crippled by the heavy jizya (tax), socially humiliated, legally discriminated against, criminally targeted and generally kept in a permanent state of weakness, fear and vulnerability by Islamic governments.

It should be noted that forced conversions (Egypt) and slavery (Sudan) are still reported. Homosexuals have been hung in the public square in Iran. Young girls are married to old men. Apostates are threatened with death. “Honor” killings are routine. Women are legally second-class citizens, though Muslim males insist they are “treated better” than in the West. These more obvious manifestations may distract from some less obvious ones such as the lack of intellectual inquiry in science, narrow scope of writing, all but non-existent art and music, sexual use and abuse of youth and women, and the disregard for personal fulfillment, joy and wonder. Look into the eyes of a recently married 12 year old girl to see the consequence of the moral deprivation spawned by Islam.

The Great Muslim Cover Up

By Daniel Greenfield

Over in Toronto, a Muslim cleric with the unwieldy name of Al-Hashim Kamena Atangana had a great idea. Al-Hashim's idea was for Toronto to pass laws forcing women to wear Burkas. "Cover up or get raped", was the implied message. Toronto only has an estimated 5.5 percent Muslim population so the Toronto Taliban probably won't be getting their way until they have higher double digit numbers, but they can wait.

Meanwhile in Egypt where the population is 90 percent Muslim and the other 10 percent are running for their lives, a new TV channel represents a brave new frontier in Islamic feminism. Maria TV features women giving lifestyle and makeup tips while wearing the Niqab, which covers their faces and leaves only their eyes exposed. According to some Saudi clerics who think that women are only allowed to leave one eye exposed, this makes them either a bold feminist experiment or shameless strumpets.

In a country where Tahrir Square has become synonymous with sexual assault; the Al-Hashim paradigm is taking hold. There are photos of female students at Cairo University from the 60's and 70's that showed them dressing like women did in the 60's and 70's. But by the time Obama showed up to praise Cairo University as a great representative of Islamic civilization, the cover-up had begun. The question is where will the cover-up end and what will the Cairo University class of 2020 look like? They probably won't have faces, but will they even have eyes?

You can attend a university with your head covered, even with your face covered, but it gets harder to attend class when your eyes are covered. If the trend means anything in a decade Muslim feminism will mean fighting for the right to keep one eye open in a religion that wants everyone to keep their eyes shut.

The liberal West has reacted to the Islamic cover-up with its own cover-up. The Western liberal will run through the gamut of his own civilization's sins before reluctantly admitting that some parts of the Muslim world may not be an ideal place to be a woman, but he immediately reaches for a rolled up copy of the New York Times and uses Tom Friedman's latest report from an airport's luxury lounge in Dubai or Kuala Lumpur as proof that the reforms are coming.

Indeed if you read anything from Tom Friedman, who is expert at writing books about how the world is becoming a global village because it's so ridiculously easy for him to fly anywhere on his frequent flyer miles, that is all he can talk about. Saudi Arabia is constantly being reformed. Why in 1962 it abolished slavery and recently the Saudi king has agreed to let women vote in municipal elections in 2015. This is naturally a big deal in an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by the same family for longer than it had oil companies.

There is no question that King Abdullah is a great feminist. If you doubt that just ask any one of his 13 wives. It may be true that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive or leave the country without permission from their husband and have their lives controlled by a male guardian; but so long as Tom Friedman has a comfortable seat and an alcohol-free drink whenever he flies to Saudi Arabia, the reports of reforms will keep on coming about this cheerful outpost in our global village.

Outside of an airport there is no such place as a global village. International travel hasn't flattened the world. It may be possible to fly to a remote location in twelve hours, disembark into a luxurious modern terminal designed by British architects and constructed by slave labor, but it can take you another twelve hours just to make your way through a city that may be ornamented with the occasional noveau riche skyscraper but is still built on a plan designed to defend desert tribes from nomadic raids. Travel twelve hours out of that city and you will encounter millions of people living in actual villages who don't think that globalism is flattening, but do think that the world is flat.

Jet setting is exciting, but not transformative. Tom Friedman in Jeddah is still the same man he is on Fifth Avenue. The only difference is that there's more sand in his shoes and sweat under his mustache. And the Saudi whose great-grandfather grew up in one of those villages, fought the Ottoman Empire, bought children from Syrian traders and kept them as slaves or concubines, and taught his children that living this way is what convinced Allah to open up some oil wells under the desert, is still that man even when he's having lunch with Tom Friedman on Fifth Avenue.

We all live in villages. Our village is a place where women are considered human beings, but in the village that is an ocean and a desert away, women are considered property. For all the ridiculous noises about Islamic feminism and all the reforms coming out of Riyadh, a proper Muslim can no more consider a woman his equal, than he could consider a sheep or an African slave his equal.

The problem is that lately our two villages have been over lapping thanks to the heap big magic of the airport. Americans travel to Saudi Arabia, where they are told to cover themselves up and respect the local customs, and Muslims travel to Canada where they tell the city of Toronto that it needs to cover up its women or they won't be responsible for the consequences. Our village just can't seem to win.

This is not the sort of stuff that you put in tourist brochures, this is the sort of stuff you cover up, and these days our nations exist as long tourist brochures covering up the problems and extolling the virtues of all these people who visit, move in, learn to fly planes and ram them into buildings because a medieval warlord claimed that a fellow named Allah wanted him to conquer the world, but didn't provide him with any transportation more reliable than camels and a flying horse.

Our tourist brochures say, "Diversity", but diversity is another one of our village's unique virtues. It's not a virtue when you reach Saudi Arabia, and it's not a virtue when Saudi Arabia reaches us. Our noble commitment to diversity leads us to diversify by investing in multiculturalism, but many of those villages full of men with thirteen wives and sharp knives are not interested in multiculturalism.

The Taliban showed us what they thought of multiculturalism when they blew up Buddhist statues and the Islamists in Mali are showing us what they think of multiculturalism with a rampage directed against Sufi shrines. The Muslim Waqf in Jerusalem is continuing its vandalism of the remains of the Second Temple. All of them are following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia which has waged a campaign of destruction against the cultural artifacts of every other culture.

In India, Hindus had the temerity to sing in their own country during the month of Ramadan, which ended in violence as furious Muslims tried to explain their views on multiculturalism with big rocks. In that same spirit, Al-Hashim Kamena Atangana, like so many other Muslim clerics, is trying to explain to us that while in our village it may be the custom to treat women as human beings, in his village it is the custom to treat them as property.

Common sense says that our village means our customs, but diversity says that our village is on the shores of the global village which is moving into our village and insisting that it's now their village. This is a problem, but only for those of us who are Jews, Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Zoroastrians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Sikhs and Bahai. Not to mention female or in any other way differing from the Muslim male that runs the other village and is trooping through our airport with thirteen wives in tow.

It used to be that when in Rome, you did like the Romans. Now it's when in Toronto, you do like Al-Hashim says. Because his voice is the booming echo of diversity and like all the voices of diversity, it isn't promoting multiculturalism, but a single culture. Their culture. One Ummah, one Caliph and one Burka.

The Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in changing Egypt through the twin expedients of propaganda and violence. 70 years after educated Egyptians wanted to be more Western, the Brotherhood is in power and Westerners are told to want to be more Muslim. The Al-Hashims bellow that Western women should act more Muslim and Western feminist groups encourage their members to try on Hijabs as gestures of tolerance and servitude. That great Islamic feminist, King Abdullah and his thirteen wives, whose kingdom spends billions on such propaganda, no doubt approves, and wishes they would move on to not driving cars as another gesture of tolerance for our new wonderfully diverse village.

The Hijab is the gateway to the Burka and both are just forms of mobile Purdah, the segregation that requires a woman to stay at home. And if she can't stay in her tent, then she can only go out while wearing a big black tent that goes everywhere she goes. The cover-ups function like a cattle brand informing other Muslim men that this is someone else's property. That was the ancient function of the garment when bands of Muslim raiders were collecting slave women and some distinction had to be made between married women who couldn't be raped and slave women who could.

Under the Burka, the Muslim woman is still locked up in her room in her husband's house even when she's out and about in the marketplace. It is a liberal concession that allows her to occasionally leave the house while still being locked up in the house. And this brilliant bit of Islamic feminism, this reform which says that women can occasionally leave the house and shouldn't be raped so long as they're wearing a tent that makes it look like they're still in Purdah, is just one of the ways that Islam is enriching our multiculturalism with its monoculturalism. To say nothing of all the Muslim rapes of women who refuse to walk around wearing tents.

Western liberals respond to the problem with the same methods as Middle-Eastern Islamists. Their solution to everything is the great cover-up. Muslims cover up women, Western liberals cover up the Muslim abuse of women. Muslims are afraid of dealing with the idea that women are more than mobile property and Western liberals are terrified of dealing with the idea that this is what Muslims actually believe about women.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, whether it's for the bacteria that thrive under full body robes or the kind that thrive in ideologies which try to control everyone. No matter how many cover-ups are made and how many cloaks, Hijabs and Burkas are thrown over the truth, sooner or later the cover-ups have to end and the truth has to shine forth.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Muslim Persecution of Christians: June, 2012

Saudi Arabia officially bans all religions other than Islam

By Raymond Ibrahim

U.S.-backed rebels are committing Christian genocide in Syria, where they are sacking churches and issuing threats that all Christians will be cleansed from rebel-held territory. A mass exodus of thousands of Christians is taking place, even as mainstream Western reporters, such as Robert Fisk, demonize these same Christians for being supportive of the secular regime.

The bloody jihad waged against Nigeria's Christians, which has seen hundreds killed this year alone, now includes plans to kill Christians with poisoned food, as part of the Islamic organization Boko Haram's stated goal of purging Nigeria of all Christian presence.

During Egypt's presidential elections, Al Ahram reported that "the Muslim Brotherhood blockaded entire streets; prevented Copts, at gunpoint, from voting and threatened Christian families not to let their children go out and vote" for the secular candidate.

Meanwhile, under President Obama, the U.S. State Department, in an unprecedented move, purged the sections dealing with religious persecution from its recently released Country Reports on Human Rights. Similarly, the Obama administration insists that the Nigeria crisis has nothing to do with religion, even as Obama offered his hearty blessings to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood president, in the midst of allegations of electoral fraud.

Categorized by theme, June's assemblage of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes, but is not limited to, the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.

Church Attacks

Egypt: Because many visitors were in attendance, Muslims surrounded a Coptic church during divine liturgy, "demanding that the visiting Copts leave the church before the completion of prayers, and threatening to burn down the church if their demands were not met." The priest contacted police and asked for aid, only to be told to comply with their demands, "and do not let buses with visitors come to the church anymore." Christian worshippers exited halfway through liturgy; they were subjected to jeers outside. As the Christians drove away, Muslims hurled stones at their buses. Also, repairs to a Coptic church that was torched and gutted a year ago by rioting Muslims were woefully inadequate, leaving the congregation with a staggering debt from further necessary repairs.

Indonesia: A Muslim mob of 300 wrecked a store that was being used for a Sunday church service on the pretext that it had not obtained "permission to hold Mass." The mob wrecked the first floor of the store, breaking windows and damaging furniture. Police stopped the mob before it reached the third floor, where some 60 Christians had congregated. Twelve Christians were taken into custody for questioning; none of the Muslims was arrested.

Separately, in compliance with calls by Islamic clerics, authorities ordered 20 churches to be torn down after the closure last month of 16 smaller Christian places of worship in the same district. The congregations continue to hold services inside their sealed-off buildings as a few members stand guard outside.

Iran: Authorities ordered the closure of yet another church in the capital, Tehran, "amid a government campaign to crack down on the few recognized churches offering Farsi-speaking services," according to a human rights group. The church originally served Christians of an Assyrian background; however, "due to an increasing number of Farsi-speaking believers—mostly [MBBs] Muslim Background Believers—it [the church] has become a cause of concern for the authorities and they now ordered it to shut down."

Kashmir: A 119-year-old church was torched by Muslims. The local bishop "said that the Muslim fundamentalists want Christians to leave the state…. He said that the church had filed a case with the police but had been advised not to 'play up' such incidents." Christian minorities "are coming under growing threat from Kashmir's Muslim majority. A Christian human rights group in India said that over 400 Christians have been displaced as a result."

Kazakhstan: Land use regulations are being exploited "as a means to prevent religious communities and their members exercising freedom of religion or belief." Most recently, authorities "forced a Methodist church to close 'voluntarily'," and fined the wife of the Church's Pastor, who paid for an announcement in newspapers; it said the church was "liquidating itself," because "We do not want more punishment from the authorities."

Nigeria: Islamic militants attacked several churches with bombs and guns during every Sunday of the month; they killed dozens of Christian worshippers, and critically wounded hundreds, including many children. Growing numbers of Christians "dare not" attend church services anymore, even as reports suggest that some police are intentionally abandoning their watch prior to such attacks.

Sudan: Authorities bulldozed two church buildings to the ground and confiscated three Catholic schools, as a response to the secession of South Sudan in July 2011; the authorities said that such buildings, largely associated with the South Sudanese Christians in this Islamic-ruled country, are now unwelcome. Another church building belonging to the Full Gospel Church was destroyed in the same area two months ago, also on the claim that it belonged to the South Sudanese.

Turkmenistan: An Evangelical church in this Muslim-majority nation was raided by authorities: "All adult believers at the meeting were questioned about their faith and all of their Christian literature was confiscated." Their literature was returned two weeks later.

Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism

Egypt: A Christian student handing out Christian literature in Assuit University "raised the ire of Muslim students;" this action apparently resulted in clashes on campus, and caused many injuries "amid shouts of sectarian chants." Likewise, a Salafi leader declared on Egyptian TV that Muslims have no right "to convert to Christianity."

Iran: Five months after five Christian converts were arrested, their condition and fate remain unknown. They are accused of "attending house church services, promoting Christianity, agitating against the regime and disturbing national security." Being imprisoned for 130 days without word "is an obvious example of physical and mental abuse of the detainees…. One of the prison guards openly told one of those Christian detainees that all these pressures and uncertainties are intended to make them flee the country after they are released." In addition, a young Iranian woman, who recently converted to Christianity and was an outspoken activist against the Islamic regime, was found dead, slumped over her car's steering wheel, with a single gunshot wound to her head.

Pakistan: A banned Islamic group filed a blasphemy case against a 25-year-old Christian man, later deemed mentally retarded. Muslims had converted him to Islam two years earlier, to use him as a pretext to annex his Christian village. In the words of a witness: "These people [Muslims] do not let us live. We are poor but are working hard to survive. On the night of the incident a mob of Muslim clerics gathered [around] our colony to burn us all because of the blasphemy Ramzan [the retarded man] committed. Everyone was scared. We all have small children in our houses and we didn't know what to do. The mob surrounded our colony and shouted a slogan to burn all the houses; they had torches in their hands and petrol in the cans. We called police; thank God the police arrived just in time."

Saudi Arabia: Thirty-five Ethiopian Christians who were arrested in December for praying in a private home remain jailed, even as Saudi officials offer contradictory reasons for their arrest. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Christians have been beaten and subjected to interrogations and strip searches. Saudi Arabia formally bans all religions other than Islam. In 2006, Saudi authorities told the United States that they would "guarantee and protect the right to private worship for all, including non-Muslims who gather in homes for religious practice."

Sudan: A Muslim woman divorced her husband, a convert to Christianity; the court therefore automatically granted her custody of their two sons. When their father tried to visit his children, his wife threatened to notify authorities. "They might take the case to a prosecution court, which might lead to my being sentenced to death according to Islamic apostasy law—but I am ready for this," said the Christian. "I want the world to know this. What crime have I done? Is it because I became a Christian? I know if the world is watching, they [the Sudanese authorities] will be afraid to do any harm to me."

United States: Two Christian men in Saint Louis, Missouri received death threats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, apparently for converting to Christianity and preaching it. One of the men formerly served in the Revolutionary Guard and was once even assigned a suicide mission against Israel, before converting and immigrating to the U.S. "The two men believe that Islam is a religion that could easily radicalize a Muslim into a terrorist." Similarly, in Dearborn Michigan, Christian demonstrators exercising their free speech rights were stoned by Muslims shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" ["Allah is Greater!"].


[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as "Tolerated" Citizens]

Indonesia: "The number of violations of Christians' religious rights in Indonesia reached 40 in the first five months of the year, nearly two-thirds the amount of anti-Christian actions in all of last year," according to the Jakarta Christian Communication Forum. The Christian minority in Indonesia faced 64 cases of violations of religious freedom last year, up from 47 in 2010." Violence against Christians also increased.

Mali: "Islamists in control of northern Mali are enforcing a strict version of Sharia law that victimizes Christians, women and other vulnerable groups." The radicals took control of northern Mali in April after ousting the armed forces of the government of Mali. "All the Christians have left Timbuktu (the main city in north Mali) because of the Sharia law as well as because of the presence of people linked with al-Qaeda," said a Christian leader who fled from northern Mali.

Pakistan: Police are siding with the Muslims accused of beating a pregnant Christian woman, causing her to miscarry twins, and gang-raping her 13-year-old Christian niece. "Muslim criminals believe police and courts will give little credence to the complaints of Christians in the country, which is nearly 96 percent Muslim," adds the report. The Christian family is "paying a huge price for being poor … and for being Christian," said the uncle. "What can we expect from the police when they are not paying heed even to the court orders? They are distorting facts and have even gone to the extent of accusing a 13-year-old [raped girl] of committing adultery with three men." Another Christian politician's ID mistook him for a Muslim, causing him to insist "on the floor of the Punjab Assembly that he was born a Christian and appealed to them and the media not to indulge in propaganda against him that could incite Muslim extremists to kill him."

Turkey: Thousands of devout Muslims prayed outside the Hagia Sophia—formerly Christendom's greatest cathedral, now a museum—shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" and demanding that the building be opened as a mosque in honor of the jihadi sultan who conquered Constantinople in the 15th century.

South Africa: More than 70 students were kicked out of the Coastal KZN As-Salaam campus dormitories and are currently homeless because campus officials tried to make the students observe Islam, including by banning Bibles, which the students resisted. "All we wanted was to be free to practice our own religions and not be forced to follow Islam, but now we have been punished by being deprived of safe accommodation," said one student.

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, "Muslim Persecution of Christians" was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month. It serves two purposes:
  1. To document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.

  2. To show that such persecution is not "random," but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.
Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalize and punish with death those who "offend" Islam; theft and plunder in lieu ofjizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, "tolerated" citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

What is Sharia: Where Does it Come From, What Does it Mean?

By Johannes Jansen

The Islamic Sharia is a system of law. It is a collection of prohibitions, admonitions and commands about human behavior. The Sharia is not an internal matter that only concerns Islam and Muslims. The Sharia includes a large number of provisions about people who are not Muslims. These rules are usually prohibitions that carry severe penalties if violated. These provisions of the Sharia make life unsafe and uncertain for someone who lives under Sharia law and who is not a Muslim.

Under Sharia law, someone who is not a Muslim possesses no inalienable rights. If I am wrong here, I will be relieved, and happy to stand corrected and receive your e-mails pointing out why I am wrong. But if I am right, a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay possesses more rights than a Jew or a Christian who lives under Sharia law.

Unlike the legal systems of most modern nation states, Sharia law is not subject to democratic supervision. Like international law and rabbinic law, Sharia law is an academic affair: experts discuss and debate the rules until they reach an agreement. Sharia law does not know a parliament or a government that acts as legislator, but the rules of the Sharia come into being by being agreed upon by the experts, that is, the Islamic religious leaders, the professional Muslims, the Ulama, Ayatollahs, or whatever these dignitaries are called.

Like me, most of you will be only superficially familiar with international law. The pretensions of international law have never been put to the test of a free and democratic vote. It was, to say the least, interesting to note how often the accusers of Geert Wilders in 2010 and 2011 appealed to what they regarded as generally accepted international law in order to silence Geert Wilders. As international law demonstrates, communities of academic specialists, in their isolation, have a tendency to develop a degree of pedantry that an elected lawgiver could never afford. Up to a point, this is exactly what has happened to the Sharia.

Religions are not democratic even if they sometimes may preach or tolerate democracy. Hence, the way in which the rules of Islamic law come into being is undemocratic. This implies that allowing the Sharia, or a part of it, to be the law of the land in a Western nation will diminish the democratic character of that nation. It means giving away legislative power to unelected self-appointed men, who are unknown and anonymous, who operate from far-away mosques in Pakistan or Afghanistan. In a democracy, this is not the ideal arrangement. One may have legitimate religious reasons to nevertheless prefer such an arrangement, but it entails something worse than taxation without representation; it entails legislation without representation.

Western policymakers do not take Sharia law too seriously because it is an academic and religious affair, a system of law that springs not from the power of a state but from the minds of religious scholars. In the Muslim world, to the contrary, the authority of the Sharia is overwhelming. The colossal prestige of the Sharia in the world of Islam is easy to explain: Islamic theology identifies Sharia law with the will of God; and Sharia specialists are the religious leaders of the Islamic community. No government in the Muslim world can afford to alienate these specialists of religious law if it wants to remain in power.

Each and every Islamic country nurtures its own equilibrium between its government and its religious specialists. This ever-changing equilibrium is the stuff of PhD-dissertations. Nevertheless, most Islamic countries possess legal systems that are influenced by, but not identical with, traditional Sharia law. To the leaders of the radical Islamic movements this non-identity of national law and Sharia law is a permanent source of anger. The smallest discrepancy between Sharia law and the law of the land is permanent fuel to the fire of their propaganda machines since such a difference supplies proof that a human lawgiver wanted to take Gods place, and attempted to improve on Gods work, which is blasphemy since God must remain the only law-giver.

Sharia law is not a practical system of law developed in courts. It is the product of the deliberations of scholars, and it does not spring from the practical concerns of judges, barristers, prosecutors or defenders. Consequently, Sharia law is poor on procedure. It is a theoretical, abstract system of law thought out in academies. This explains most of its weaknesses.

Nevertheless, Muslim theology claims that Sharia law is divine. If unfamiliar new questions arise for which the Sharia has to provide an answer, Sharia specialists, at least in theory, put forward a solution that is based upon the four principles or ‘roots’, of the Sharia. These four principles will reemerge again and again in all discussions concerning the Sharia. They are Koran, Hadith, Analogy and Agreement.

The fourth root, Agreement or Consensus, is for all practical purposes the most important criterion. Once a consensus has emerged it becomes unnecessary to consult the other sources. Theory and theology, however, attach the greatest value to the authority of the first of these four roots, to the Koran, but in practice the wording of the Koran may have to be supplemented or interpreted by the other sources, or by another passage from the Koran itself.

Here we meet with an important principle from both Sharia law and Koran interpretation. This principle, ‘abrogation’, naskh in Arabic, is often misunderstood. ‘Abrogation’ means that a verse from the Koran that was revealed early might be repealed, or ‘abrogated’, by a verse that came down at a later point in time. Sometimes even an element from one of the other three sources can abrogate the contents of a verse from the Koran. Muslim scholars analyze all possible cases in depth.

The most famous example of abrogation is of concern to anyone who is not a Muslim: the abrogation of Sura 109, a Sura from the Mecca period that preaches religious tolerance. This Sura is abrogated by later verses from Medina that command the Muslims to fight and kill the unbelievers wherever they find them.

Whatever problem Sharia scholars are confronted with, in a few generations they will work out an agreement; and then Muhammad’s directive applies that ‘God will not permit [his] people to agree on an error’, lan tagtami? ummatii ?alaa dalaal.

This important directive plays a central role in the Sharia system. Its application has a number of unforeseen consequences. Abolishing a Sharia regulation on which agreement had been reached, implies that Muhammad’s umma did go wrong. But according to Islam’s Prophet, it did not. Hence, it is out of the question to go back on regulations once they are agreed upon. Examples of cases where this creates difficulties and embarrassment are numerous: just think of the Sharia punishments for apostasy, adultery or theft.

A famous example of abrogation is the prohibition of wine. In early verses, the Koran speaks well of wine; later verses forbid wine. But how do we know which verse comes first? This we can only know from the Muslim Sharia experts. How do they know? Well, since wine is forbidden, the verse that forbids wine must be later than the verse that praises wine. Outsiders will suspect circularity, but to traditional Muslims this all enjoys the support of the Most High, and reconfirms that they would be at loss without the scholarship and learning of the experts who embody religious authority in Islam.

The friends of Islam see the alleged flexibility of Islamic law as an indication of its humane and liberal character. This, however, is a mistake. Flexible laws are not humane but dangerous, since citizens do not know for what they can be arrested and executed. Islamic law, flexible as it is reported to be, is unanimous on a large number of points. Agreement, consensus, that is what the system is build upon. No important disagreements exist on the points of law that are important to whoever is not a Muslim, whatever the friends of Islam may say. Not respecting the majesty of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, is generally seen as a capital crime. If the courts or the governments do not execute the offender, spontaneous informal volunteers may feel justified to take this task upon their shoulders, whatever the cost to them personally.

Modern Western scholars have called into doubt the origins of the Sharia. They believe that the Sharia is the continuation of Roman provincial law as it was in force in the Roman Empire in the Middle East on the eve of the Arab conquests. A number of 20th century scholars wrote about the relationship between Roman and Islamic law. It is easy to see that the figure of the mufti is a continuation of the scholar of jurisprudence well known from Roman law, and other examples abound.

Strong influence from Talmudic rabbinic law on the Sharia is undeniable, and no miracle, since the Talmud and the Sharia both came into being in Iraq, in roughly the same period, 7th till 9th century AD. Fatwa’s are, of course, the exact functional equivalent of the rabbinic teshuvot, and the responsa from Roman law.

Muslims believe that their religious specialists derived the rules of the Sharia from its four sources: Koran, Hadith, Analogy and Consensus. However, modern Western scholars have come to believe that the rules of the Sharia were not derived from the four ‘roots’, but that the rules and provisions were anchored in these four ‘roots’ only in retrospect. This is again the stuff of PhD-dissertations. These academic questions, however, should not detain us here, we have a more important duty: to explain why we should concentrate on the Sharia, and not on the Koran or Muhammad, when we want to defend ourselves against the onslaught of Islam.

Modern Western scholarship on the Koran and the life of Muhammad has made great progress since the turn of the century. Consequently the traditional positions concerning Muhammad and the Koran have shown themselves to be untenable.

Whether Muhammad really existed, is more uncertain than ever. Two centuries of patient scholarship have created serious doubts about the historicity of the prophet of Islam. These doubts will not go away, no matter how small and insignificant the number of academics that works in this field may be.

The general picture which the Koran and the Islamic tradition offer of the setting in which Muhammad worked, first as a prophet, then as both a prophet and a statesman, the general picture of Mecca and Medina in the beginning of the 7th century AD, is not confirmed by the results of archeological research and inscriptions as far as these are available. This, of course, may change when research progresses but it is not a good sign, especially since what has been found, at first sight appears to contradict the traditional views.

The literary tradition about Muhammad’s biography does look like an unsystematic collection of mutually contradicting sermons that nevertheless all want to convince the audience that a certain Muhammad was the Messenger of God. The literary material that has been preserved does not look like an historical record at all. This is not necessarily fatal, but it is not a good sign. Numismatics does not confirm Islam’s version of the early history of Islam. This by itself is not conclusive, but it is not a good sign. There are discrepancies between what we know about the ancient Arab calendar and the reported stories about Muhammad. This needs not be fatal, but it comes close to being so.

True Muslims, however, do not share these doubts about their beloved prophet. The guild of Muslim religious leaders, on the other hand, will go further than simply not sharing these doubts; they will be infuriated when modern Western scholars unmask the Muslim version of the early history of Islam as a narrative created by theological necessities, as sermons that are disguised as history. It goes without saying that many Muslims will be ready to put on heavy armor to defend their religion against such attacks.

There is, however, one point of entry into the Islamic armor that sounds as pious and as Islamic as these things go. It may even be effective. The Koran unequivocally states that it is written in clear Arabic language, lisaan ?arabii mubiin. ‘Well’, one is bound to ask, ‘Why, if this is true, do we need Koran commentaries that run into thousands of pages?

This question is awkward already, but we have to pose an even more embarrassing one concerning the authority of the ancient founding fathers of the Sharia: the four giants al-Shaafi?ii, Abu Haniifa, Malik and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, all close to 800 AD; all, except Malik, geographically connected to Iraq: ‘Why do we need these four Sharia scholars to inform us which acts Islam forbids and prescribes?’. ‘If the Koran is clear, why do we need these luminaries? What did they know more than the prophet Muhammad? What did they know that is not in the clear verses of the Koran?’

These questions do not necessarily make the average Muslim laymen angry. Nevertheless, they will enrage Muslim Sharia scholars. Since these men play the role the clergy plays in Christianity, they are a force to be reckoned with. They are no doubt a spiritual force, but some of their youthful supporters do not care much about the distinction between soul and body, and do not hesitate to take all necessary steps to enforce compliance with the wishes of these clergymen.

Muslim laymen, as a rule, assent to whatever the professional Muslims teach and preach. The power that this guild of Islamic Sharia experts exercises over its flock is amazing and has no equal in history. It is based on social pressure. It operates in the simplest way imaginable: carrying out the prescripts of one’s religion creates prestige amongst coreligionists. This is the case in all religious systems. Hence, in the case of Islam, Muslims will admire anyone who acts in the Islamic way. Who defines how that way runs? It is the Islamic clergy that exercises the final authority on which behavior constitutes Islamic behavior.

This would not matter to us if Islam did not boast to be able and willing to destroy the West. In order to defend the West against Islam it is this chain of granting prestige and authority that has to be attacked, and this attack had better take place at its weakest point: the basis of the authority of the clergy. This clerical authority is based on the Sharia. However, the authority of the Sharia implies that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was more or less a simpleton, and that the Koran is a vague and simplistic piece of pious prose that lacks the information man needs to be saved from the fires of Hell — only the clergy knows how man can be saved, and this by virtue of its knowledge of the Sharia, not by virtue of its knowledge of the Koran.

The elevated position of the Sharia in the world of Islam, we might argue, can only be understood as a belittlement of the Koran and Muhammad. Once we can make our Muslim and our dhimmi opponents see this, we may have influenced them. The question we should ask as soon as an appeal to a Sharia law book is being made is: ‘What do the Muslim scribes and scholars, all of them human, none of them a prophet, know more than Muhammad and His companions knew?’

Allow one example of how Sharia and clergy operate. In 2006/2007, a Dutch comedian got into trouble with an Islamic activist about the Theo van Gogh assassination. The comedian, on his own initiative, then consulted a local Amsterdam Imam and the board of his mosque, asking them directly whether they wanted to kill him. The Imam only looked stern, and did not say anything, acting as if he did not understand Dutch — which perhaps he did not. However, a smiling board member assured the comedian that they had no plans to kill him, because ‘for such things we have the radicals’. This perfectly illustrates the situation. The majority is silent, the Imam limits himself to looking dignified, his direct supporters bring the bad news, and the elite soldiers, true commandos, true mujahidin, do the dirty work.

Governments hesitate to resist these commandos; those under attack usually have to defend themselves. It is best to fight back indirectly, and try to influence Muslims into realizing that over the centuries an ever-widening gap has opened up between what they sincerely and sometimes naively see as Islam and the accumulated prescripts and restrictions the clergy wants to see applied. We should ask Muslim laymen again and again what the human writers of the Sharia handbooks know more than the archangel Gabriel when he revealed the Koran to Muhammad?

The Koran brings bad news to someone who does not want to submit to Islam, but as explicit as the Sharia it is not. We may, moreover, freely criticize recently annotated and revised Sharia handbooks, nothing in our laws and customs forbids us to do so. However, criticizing an ancient holy text can easily be portrayed as uncivilized. The many contemporary Sharia handbooks are, to the contrary, fair game. Their authors are only human, men like you and me. But the writers of these Sharia books certainly claim to know more than all the prophets and archangels combined.

Here the friends of Islam will cleverly try to undermine our trustworthiness. When we appeal to an ancient classic Sharia handbook, and point to its bloodthirsty and explicit contents, they will say: ‘Oh, well, this is an old book, not relevant any longer, no normal average Muslim knows of this book’. When we quote modern contemporary sources of a similar nature, they will say: ‘Well, this is a recent innovation that has no meaning for the general picture of Islam’. If we quote both old and new sources, they will say that we bore them by repeating multiple irrelevancies. A strong stomach is an absolute requisite for anyone who joins such debates.

One of our problems with Islam is the Western understanding of freedom of religion. Most Westerners do not realize this, but religions are dissimilar. Every act that can be imagined is either prohibited or made obligatory by at least one of the hundreds of religions our planet is graced with. Hence, freedom of religion, if it means that every religion can have its way, is not possible. When my professor in my first year at the University explained this, I did not believe him, and asked whether something as innocent as drinking tap water could be the subject of a religious prohibition. He answered that he did not know of an example but at the same time he assured me that if I started looking I would find one. And right he was: Hinduism has a caste that may only drink water pulled up from a well by a clay jug; they regard drinking tap water as haraam.

In Europe and America, however, the extant religions are comparatively similar, and usually somehow connected to the Bible. Hence Europeans and Americans tend to believe that there is no harm in letting a religion have its way since ‘deep down all religions are the same’. This is a misunderstanding. There is nothing that is common to all religions.

Freedom of religion, if it means that any form of religion can have its way, is a recipe for civil war. What our wise forefathers meant when they advocated freedom of religion should be reformulated. What they meant can only have been freedom of opinion and freedom of worship. Since they were unfamiliar with religions that were essentially different, and since they tired from going to war about beliefs and forms of worship, and since they were unfamiliar with the full specter of global religious variety, they formulated their convictions, however right they were, in a way that today is confusing and creates serious problems for freedom, science, justice, health and politics.

Not all is well, but many if not most Muslims are too humane to be willing to execute all commands the Sharia imposes. Let us help them by pointing out that that the Koran may well be the word of God — this, after all, is untestable, but that the Sharia is the work of men, even according to the teachings of Islam. To remain free from Sharia law, we may eventually have to fight, but then, freedom is not for free.

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