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Yasir Qadhi, American Muslims, and Jihad
March 17, 2011 11:04 AM   Subscribe


 
If he were to acknowledge that Islamic law endorses the legitimacy of armed resistance against Western forces in Muslim territory, he could give a green light to the very students he claims he is trying to keep off the militant path. Yet by remaining silent, Qadhi says he is losing the credibility he needs to persuade them of his ultimate message: those fights are not theirs, as Westerners, to fight. “My hands are tied, and my tongue is silent,” he said.

May I suggest Hidden Option No. 3? "Tell your students not to kill people."

It's like the In-N-Out Burger menu. There are a lot of options you kinda have to just know about.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:13 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


During the months I spent in the insular world of young American Salafis,

How insular is it really? I mean, my local Salafist mosque sends out street evanglists every Saturday. They invited me to visit them, which I did and I chatted with the head of their religious school in the imam's office for an hour.
posted by Jahaza at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


May I suggest Hidden Option No. 3? "Tell your students not to kill people."

As best I could tell from the article his message to his students is to express their outrage and disagreement with American policies solely through legal means. I'm not sure how helpful it would be for him to condescend to the obviously intelligent and angry young people that listen to him. He's not a t-ball coach, he's communicating with them within the framework of deeply held but conflicting beliefs that many of them have devoted their lives to following.
posted by ghharr at 11:30 AM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


Martin Luther King didn't seem to have a problem getting his message across. He didn't seem conflicted about his beliefs. We even have his writings where he says he needed to explain non-violence to his community.

One thing King never said was, "Oh, gee, my hands are tied."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:38 AM on March 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


For an ultraconservative cleric like Qadhi, the picture is more complicated. Engaging in a detailed discussion of militant jihad — a complex subject informed by centuries of scholarship — risks drawing the scrutiny of law enforcement and, Qadhi fears, possible prosecution. If he were to acknowledge that Islamic law endorses the legitimacy of armed resistance against Western forces in Muslim territory, he could give a green light to the very students he claims he is trying to keep off the militant path. Yet by remaining silent, Qadhi says he is losing the credibility he needs to persuade them of his ultimate message: those fights are not theirs, as Westerners, to fight. “My hands are tied, and my tongue is silent,” he said.

Under British (and thus American) Common Law, if I say anything that persuades someone to commit a crime, I am an accessory before the fact, and thus a criminal. If said crime is murder or treason, then I too am a murderer or traitor. I what I say invokes God, I am still guilty of this crime.

Thus it has always been, thus it ever shall be. If Qadhi cannot reconcile his Salafism with this portion of American law, he should emigrate.
posted by ocschwar at 11:39 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Their movement seeks to reclaim Islam’s lost glory by purging the faith of modern influences.

That line of thinking seldom ends well.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:41 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I went to Orthodox Hebrew school. The teachers always told us that if the US and Israel went to war, we were bound to fight for Israel. They never seemed particularly conflicted about it, either.
posted by escabeche at 11:44 AM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Their movement seeks to reclaim Islam’s lost glory by purging the faith of modern influences.
That line of thinking seldom ends well.


It's a little more complicated than that. That line of thinking has been behind liberal movements in American Christianity (Unitarianism) and behind much liberal movement in Catholic Christianity in the 20th century (though the scholarship that prompted some of that liberal movement e.g. in liturgy has now been somewhat discredited and the theology that backed it up has falled out of favor.)
posted by Jahaza at 11:48 AM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


That line of thinking has been behind liberal movements in American Christianity (Unitarianism) and behind much liberal movement in Catholic Christianity in the 20th century (though the scholarship that prompted some of that liberal movement e.g. in liturgy has now been somewhat discredited and the theology that backed it up has falled out of favor.)

Both of those said "out with the old, in with the new." Salafism is "out with the old, in with the older."
posted by ocschwar at 11:52 AM on March 17, 2011


May I suggest Hidden Option No. 3? "Tell your students not to kill people."


May I suggest you read the article?
posted by dubold at 11:55 AM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing King never said was, "Oh, gee, my hands are tied."

King was not coming from the same philosophical place that Qadhi is. I'm sure there are some Islamic scholars who would preach absolute non-violence in all cases like King, but they probably wouldn't be considered "conservatives". That doesn't mean we shouldn't have some sympathy for a conservative Muslim who wants to reconcile a nonviolent approach to his follower's grievances with the religious principles they share with each other but not King.

Under British (and thus American) Common Law, if I say anything that persuades someone to commit a crime, I am an accessory before the fact, and thus a criminal. If said crime is murder or treason, then I too am a murderer or traitor. I what I say invokes God, I am still guilty of this crime.

Not being a lawyer I wonder how your analysis of British Common Law squares with the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment.
posted by Reverend John at 11:58 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a little more complicated than that.

True, which is why I qualified it. The Amish manage it without serious incident, for instance.

The Catholic example is quite interesting. The "old" rituals seem to have a lot of appeal, while the "old" doctrine not so much. I wonder if there's a similar demarcation that can be made in Islam.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2011


actually, let me retract that. When I first went through the article, i thought it was pretty clear that this guy was telling his students that blowing up planes wasn't okay, which I extrapolated as killing isn't okay.

I reread the article more carefully, thinking of total nonviolence rather than just curtailing jihad. it doesn't seem like there is a theologically orthodox way to reconcile nonviolence and Islam, though I am willing to be proven wrong.

sorry!
posted by dubold at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both of those said "out with the old, in with the new." Salafism is "out with the old, in with the older."

This is not actually true. Early American Unitarians such as Channing believed they were preaching the original and pure Christianity according to the Scriptures.

The same was true of 20th century Catholic reformers who frequently stated that they were reinstituting the forms and practices of the early Christians.
posted by Jahaza at 12:02 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


I reread the article more carefully, thinking of total nonviolence rather than just curtailing jihad. it doesn't seem like there is a theologically orthodox way to reconcile nonviolence and Islam, though I am willing to be proven wrong.

sorry!


I suspect more ink has been spilled on this topic than in the entire corpus of the New York Times.
posted by ghharr at 12:04 PM on March 17, 2011


May I suggest Hidden Option No. 3? "Tell your students not to kill people."

I would suggest Hidden Option No. 4: emigrate to Iran, build a huge military industrial complex complete with Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines, and then start killing people and invading countries when you disapprove of their actions. Then you'll be just as legitimate as any other Western nation -- as long as you accidentally kill civilians with advanced weaponry to achieve your objectives under bullshit pretenses, instead of using the only crude tactics available when you are facing an enemy that vastly overpowers you.

And asking students not to kill people would also conflict with the opinion of a very important politician:
Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

-Barack Obama
posted by notion at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: “Martin Luther King didn't seem to have a problem getting his message across. He didn't seem conflicted about his beliefs. We even have his writings where he says he needed to explain non-violence to his community. One thing King never said was, ‘Oh, gee, my hands are tied.’”

It's funny that you mention Martin Luther King. I was actually thinking about another figure from the same movement in reading this article. Yasir Qadhi doesn't remind me much of Martin Luther King; but he does remind me of Malcolm X. He is a figure who similarly represents the transformed scholar who has come to understand something new about his culture and tradition, and come to see the limits of the violence he'd so embraced.

I don't think Yasir Qadhi is perfect. But I do like that he and others like him are out there doing what he is doing. I think he's correct in saying that there's a need to strike a balance between nonviolence and civic responsibility, between tradition and democratic society.

Moreover, I think it's fair if he holds back from telling his followers not to kill anybody. That's one viewpoint – the pacifist viewpoint – but that doesn't mean anyone who thinks that violent self-defense is acceptable is a hideous warmonger. I think it's probably defensible to say that Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, etc, who are threatened may sometimes be required to defend themselves violently. And Yasir Qadhi is right to acknowledge that the US government has done despicable things in foreign countries before, despicable things that might have called for self-defense.

Now, it's very, very easy to read that as an endorsement of terrorism or world jihad against 'infidels,' particularly when a Salafi teacher says it. But I don't think it's the same thing. Calling for his students to follow the laws of their country and be decent and responsible citizens is, I think, the most he can do to ensure that they do the right thing in this case.
posted by koeselitz at 12:18 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's been interesting to watch Qadhi grow from being a dry, boring Salafi to something a bit more inclusive and intellectually supple. Modern day Salafism has its good points in wanting to have proofs for religious practice (proofs in this case are confirmed primary sources of Islam, not scientific empiricism so let's not bother with that debate now), but by and large it's been kind of like killing a healthy tree and leaving the dried roots out in the desert.

Salafism is kind of anarchic in structure, though, and no movement within it can last very long before implosion and member defection to other groups. It only takes one or two questionable stances by a popular teacher for someone to accuse him of being a kafir. Many young hardcore Salafis also experience a kind of burnout where they go from being staunch ascetic adherents to people who hardly practice Islam at all except for Ramadan. The weight of living an interpretation of the religion that is based solely on prohibition rather than really developing one's self has the tendency to collapse on itself.

More traditional Sunni teachers within the four agreed upon schools of jurisprudence generally don't get much exposure outside of Islamic circles because they tend to be reserved and don't constantly drop soundbites and blog posts. But they're representative of kind of Islam that that remains contextualized by the primary sources but is able to sanely debate questions of modern issues while not undergoing some kind of philosophical metamorphosis every few years like the popular Salafis seem to do.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'd just like to point that the moderate "four agreed up on schools" mentioned by Burhanistan above are what the majority of Sunni Muslims around the world adhere to. Whether they know it it or not, that is the Islam they have been taught by their parents. The Salafi/Wahabi movement (profiled in this NYT article) is relatively new and only a small minority of Muslims adhere to it - unfortunately those Muslims control Saudi Arabia and have lots of oil money with which to spread their message. I suggest you read this blog entry on the Huffington Post for a historical summary about the clash between old and new.
posted by exhilaration at 1:25 PM on March 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is not actually true. Early American Unitarians such as Channing believed they were < ahref='http://www.channingmc.org/channingspeech.html'>preaching the original and pure Christianity according to the Scriptures.

The same was true of 20th century Catholic reformers who frequently stated that they were reinstituting the forms and practices of the early Christians.


Heck, the Reformation was predicated on a return to "pure" Scriptural Christianity, minus all those annoying Catholic "innovations."
posted by thomas j wise at 1:41 PM on March 17, 2011


I would suggest Hidden Option No. 4: emigrate to Iran, build a huge military industrial complex complete with Navy, Air Force, Army and Marines, and then start killing people and invading countries when you disapprove of their actions.

Here's Hidden Option No. 5: form the Islamic Caliphate from Morocco to Baghdad. Do such a shit job governing it that it descends into corruption, obscurantism, and repression, so that in every generation some opportunist seizes yet another chunk of it for himself. Then, when it's too late to catch up with the rest of the world, launch internal genocidal campaigns against random minorities, join the losing side of a war that's engulfed Christendom, and watch as the winning side takes over your territory. Then, nurse a big pathological case of self righteous indignation and run around throwing terms like "apostate" at every co-religionist of yours who feels differently. And launch lots of wars.

Oh, wait. It's been done.

Yes, Muslim nations have had horrible ordeals being caught in the crossfire in the conflicts of the 20th Century. But they were perfectly willing of inflicting even more brutality on themselves, and on others, and not even with war. Almost every Muslim city, if it isn't awash in oil money, is crawling in street children. If these salafists can't deem that a higher priority for their attention and effort, instead of debating the propriety of murdering this-or-that enemy, then they deserve no sympathy for being so "conflicted."

Yo, Mr. Qadhi: can't you get your followers to do some zakat before this Jihad stuff? Ammo is expensive. Rice is cheap.
posted by ocschwar at 1:41 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just wanted to respond to the earlier posts in this thread, such as the one by Cool Papa Bell--the article actually lists several instances where Qadhi chastises the AlMaghrib Institute students for thinking of violent jihad and pushes them towards traditional means of social advocacy. He criticizes the more extremist appropriation of Islam by more conservative Salafi clerics and mentions how Muslims have died in terrorist attacks. Here are some quotes:

Qadhi paced the worn, gray carpet. “There were even Muslims on that plane!” he said. “I mean, what world are you living in? How angry and overzealous are you that you simply forget about everything and you think that this is the way forward?” [...]


That March, Qadhi rose before a crowd of thousands in Elizabeth, N.J., to finally speak about Awlaki. “I am against this preacher when he tells our youth to become militant against this country while being citizens to this country,” Qadhi told the packed auditorium.

“But when my government comes and says, ‘We’re allowed to take him out; we’re allowed to kill him; we’re allowed to assassinate him,’ I also put my foot down, and I say to my own government, ‘Shame on you!’ ” The audience listened raptly. “Be angry every time a bomb is dropped on innocent civilians in the name of the war on terror,” Qadhi bellowed. “Be angry every time our tax dollars are spent to oppress yet another group of innocent Palestinians. Be angry every time more draconian measures are utilized against us in this greatest democracy on earth.”

Never before had Qadhi so forcefully condemned America’s policies in public. But “channel that anger,” he continued, “in a productive manner.” He urged a “jihad of the tongue, a jihad of the pen, a jihad that is not a military jihad.”


In other words, the article doesn't depict a Salafi extremist trying to foster militant jihad--it depicts an assimilated moderate deconstructionist who's essentially contesting other people over the definition of Salfism while still trying to hold onto his credibility. This isn't about his beliefs; it's about his ability to maneuver politically with what you could somewhat cheekily describe as a Wahabi rebranding campaign. To state that he's failing by not explicitly saying "Tell your students to kill people" shows a profound lack of understanding of the historical contexts these students are living in and tacitly assumes that they are the kind of dangerous foreigners who would need to be always reminded this--in other words, this is exactly the presumption of guilt that Qadhi and his students have to constantly live with, as described in the article.
posted by johnasdf at 1:50 PM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I suspect more ink has been spilled on this topic than in the entire corpus of the New York Times.

great, let's see some links.
posted by dubold at 1:57 PM on March 17, 2011


This is not actually true. Early American Unitarians such as Channing believed they were < ahref='http://www.channingmc.org/channingspeech.html'>preaching the original and pure Christianity according to the Scriptures.

The same was true of 20th century Catholic reformers who frequently stated that they were reinstituting the forms and practices of the early Christians.

Heck, the Reformation was predicated on a return to "pure" Scriptural Christianity, minus all those annoying Catholic "innovations."


Well, the parallels between Martin Luther and Wahabbism are certainly there, even in the architecture. Compare Catholic churches to Lutheran churches, then compare Ottoman mosques to Wahabbi mosques (they love bare concrete). Or Luther casting aside centuries of Canon Law in favor of Scripture, and the Wahabbis tossing away lots of Sharia law in the same way. But the Unitarians ?
posted by ocschwar at 2:17 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heck, the Reformation was predicated on a return to "pure" Scriptural Christianity, minus all those annoying Catholic "innovations."

That's what they said, sure. Most movements seek legitimacy by reaching back to something older, more fundamental. But that doesn't mean it's actually the case- the Reformation was about events at that particular time in Europe. The rise of the modern state, the dawning of national awareness, the beginning of mass literacy and learning, early capitalism and the appearance of the middle class.

Wahabbism, too, is a response to the reality of the Muslim world over the last several centuries. It no doubt shares similarities too "pure" Islam in part because it harkens back to it. But, also because the rise of Islam itself came out of similar circumstances-- a region under the thumb of rapacious outsiders. In the early 7th century, Arab lands were divided into spheres of influence of the Byzantines and the Persians. The players have changed but the game is the same.
posted by spaltavian at 3:26 PM on March 17, 2011



Here's Hidden Option No. 5:
[lots of ill-informed and selective facts follow, along with a host of egregious generalisations and borderline racist characterisation.]

I don't know who you're trying to impress - if only yourself - but that standard and model of discussion contributes nothing to this post. Displaying a bit more sensitivity, nuance and respect around a fairly fraught topic would probably be more productive. Especially when you don't know very much about it.
posted by smoke at 4:03 PM on March 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Here's Hidden Option No. 5: [lots of ill-informed and selective facts follow, along with a host of egregious generalisations and borderline racist characterisation.]

In other words, a very close model of Hidden Option No. 4.

Displaying a bit more sensitivity, nuance and respect around a fairly fraught topic would probably be more productive.

That fraught topic includes the question of whether God approves of murdering me in his name, because of grievances that are being nursed by this Salafist clique, coming from their own highly ill-informed, selective view of the history of the Muslim World, a view that is itself full of flatly racist characterization of the people they wonder whether or not they should fight. It merits direct confrontation.
posted by ocschwar at 4:24 PM on March 17, 2011


Here's Hidden Option No. 5: form the Islamic Caliphate from Morocco to Baghdad. Do such a shit job governing it that it descends into corruption, obscurantism, and repression, so that in every generation some opportunist seizes yet another chunk of it for himself. Then, when it's too late to catch up with the rest of the world, launch internal genocidal campaigns against random minorities, join the losing side of a war that's engulfed Christendom, and watch as the winning side takes over your territory. Then, nurse a big pathological case of self righteous indignation and run around throwing terms like "apostate" at every co-religionist of yours who feels differently. And launch lots of wars.

Here's the hilarious part: you are talking about the United States from 1950 until the present day. The Shah, Saddam, Mubarak, the Saudi Royal Family, and the rest of them didn't get their weapons and political support from the Qu'ran.

So, reality or this imaginary Caliphate: I'll leave it to you to decide which one is worse, and which one you can do something about.
posted by notion at 4:39 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looking back, Qadhi said he fell down a slippery slope where criticism of Israel gave way to attacks on Jews. Beneath the vitriol, he said, was a sense of victimization — that non-Muslims were to blame for the afflictions of the Muslim world. “When you’re young and naïve, it’s easier to fall prey to such things,” said Qadhi, who publicly recanted years later. Last August, he joined a delegation of American imams and rabbis on a visit to the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps, which he said left him “sick” and more embarrassed by his Hitler remarks.

That said, his heart is in the right place. He wants to do away with the same attitudes among Salafis that make me this angry. But he wants to tiptoe about it, and that just won't work. That only legitimizes it. And, having been to Auscwitz and Dachau, he should realize by now that the issue of Islamic religious practice is completely besides the point. Regardless of which forms of Islamic practice are more correct: to keep 1400 years of accreting traditions or to shove them aside in favor of how you think it was done around 700AD, the problems of the Muslim World are not the result of victimization from outside, and will not be resolved by killing American soldiers in Afghanistan or American civilians in the US. They are also not the result of the rightness of this or that little frill added to the Muslim way of life.
posted by ocschwar at 4:40 PM on March 17, 2011


"Here's the hilarious part: you are talking about the United States from 1950 until the present day. The Shah, Saddam, Mubarak, the Saudi Royal Family, and the rest of them didn't get their weapons and political support from the Qu'ran."

No, what they did get was a post-Ottoman big political vacuum, because of all the institutions that the Ottomans often suppressed and at best failed to nurture. It's hilarious to see Salafis, who even go so far as to denounce things like the Rotary Club as un-Islamic, (secular forms of civic organization are a Bad Thing to them), turn around and claim victimhood because the Muslim World had such a hard time organizing into a collection of humane and liberal nation states.
posted by ocschwar at 4:48 PM on March 17, 2011


turn around and claim victimhood because the Muslim World had such a hard time organizing into a collection of humane and liberal nation states.

I think it's more hilarious to see Westerners claim that they had nothing to do with the division and exploitation of the Middle East.

I suppose the people of the Middle East decided to delineate Iraq without regard to tribal or religious lines? They decided that they would prefer to be murdered by Mubarak than have a vote? They decided to do away with their secular democracy in Iran in 1953 so the United States and Britain could have more share of their oil profits? They decided that the Saudi family should suck up all the wealth and institute their own version of justice in exchange for a cozy political relationship in the US? They decided that the government of Bahrain should be co-opted by foreigners so we could station our 5th fleet there? They decided that they would love to be poor and illiterate peasants, sentenced to suffer in unjust, unequal societies that are perpetuated so we have less people to bribe and less hassle when we decide we want more? It's as if you would say that the people of Poland decided to be ruled by Moscow, so they deserve whatever station they ended up with.

You are fooling yourself. And rationalizing it with borrowed Hitchenesque fervor to boot.
posted by notion at 5:12 PM on March 17, 2011 [6 favorites]


ocschwar: “That fraught topic includes the question of whether God approves of murdering me in his name, because of grievances that are being nursed by this Salafist clique, coming from their own highly ill-informed, selective view of the history of the Muslim World, a view that is itself full of flatly racist characterization of the people they wonder whether or not they should fight. It merits direct confrontation.”

There are actually Muslims in this thread, friend. Maybe you should directly confront them if you're so keen on confrontation.
posted by koeselitz at 5:50 PM on March 17, 2011


"I think it's more hilarious to see Westerners claim that they had nothing to do with the division and exploitation of the Middle East."

Ah, yes, the West. That same West whose puppets in Tunisia and Egypt stepped down. Whose other puppets in Jordan and Morocco are negotiating with the reformists.

As opposed to anti-Western strongmen like Assad and Ghadaffi, whose hold on power, might, just might, have to do with their greater willingness to mow down their opposition, with weapons provided by the USSR and its heirs.

The west stepped into a vacuum after WW1. That vacuum was not the fault of the West. And why that vacuum is still there has a lot to do with the efforts of people like the Salafis to prevent 20th Century and 21st Century institutions from emerging in the Middle East. (Where by "prevent" I mean the use of violence, by the way.)

"I suppose the people of the Middle East decided to delineate Iraq without regard to tribal or religious lines?"

You'd need a three dimensional manifold to delineate Iraq with regard to tribal and religious lines. And that is the problem in a crux. Like all nations, Iraq, or its component nations, need alternative institutions that are not based on tribe or religion to carry out the functions of modern life. For all their faults, the Brits tried to help with exactly that (as did the Young Turks, before they lost Iraq in the war. They failed, and the Salafis bear much of the blame for that. And that is why they have no right to feel victimized by problems they themselves are causing.
posted by ocschwar at 6:20 PM on March 17, 2011


"There are actually Muslims in this thread, friend. Maybe you should directly confront them if you're so keen on confrontation."

Okay: ladies and gentlemen, I not only feel that it is not proper to murder me, I also feel that this is not a fit topic for theological debate, and I am rather irate at knowing that in some Muslim circles said debate is taking place, with a non-zero number of people taking the affirmative side. I am angry because Mr. Qadhi thinks his Salafi circle should be handled gingerly and delicately instead of being confronted with the same anger and direct argumentation they would like to dish out.

By the way, I have no problem with these Angry Young Muslims being angry. It at least gives us something in common. But I am angry at the hypocrisy of Muslims who are so horrified by US actions in Iraq while being blind to the greater brutality with which armies like Lybia's are displaying right now, not to mention past examples, like say, Nasser in Yemen, or hell, anyone in Yemen, et cetera. I am angry at the hypocrisy of Muslims who feel besieged by prejudice in the West but have nothing to say about what their fellow Muslims are doing to Copts in Egypt right now. Anger is a two way street.

But what's far worse is these Salafis who feel "guilty" for living in the West, and yet advocate for their home countries being denied the same important things that make the West so damn comfortable: multiparty politics, government divided into branches with checks and balances, labor unions, civic organizations, free media, "man made laws" and all that Jazz. These people are the root cause of the same problems that use to nurture their sense of victimization.

And they do not deserve to be treated delicately.
posted by ocschwar at 7:25 PM on March 17, 2011


ocschwar: “Okay: ladies and gentlemen, I not only feel that it is not proper to murder me, I also feel that this is not a fit topic for theological debate, and I am rather irate at knowing that in some Muslim circles said debate is taking place, with a non-zero number of people taking the affirmative side.”

I'm not a Muslim, but who the hell debated killing you? Have you bombed any villages in Afghanistan lately?

The debate wasn't over killing you. The debate was whether killing is ever okay. You seem to think that religious people must be absolute pacifists, whilst other people are allowed to believe that some killing is justified. Pardon me, but that seems like a very odd position to take.
posted by koeselitz at 7:31 PM on March 17, 2011


"I'm not a Muslim, but who the hell debated killing you?"

I an an American civilian. In Salafi circles, there is debate on whether that makes me fair game. This NYT article talked a great deal about that.

"The debate wasn't over killing you. The debate was whether killing is ever okay"

No it wasn't.
posted by ocschwar at 7:46 PM on March 17, 2011


Here's a serious question that I hope won't be taken as LOLMuslims: Why do Muslims who preach that it's necessary to come to the aid of persecuted coreligionists focus on Iraq and not on, say, Bahrain? Is it a theological thing about not attacking fellow Muslims, or is it because Bahrain is friends with Saudi Arabia, or are there other reasons I haven't thought of?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:46 PM on March 17, 2011


Yo, Mr. Qadhi: can't you get your followers to do some zakat before this Jihad stuff? Ammo is expensive. Rice is cheap.

Sadly, the fact that a lot of people would rather help their countrymen by killing enemies than by feeding and working to create better lives for the poor is not restricted to Muslims. It seems to be common everywhere.

But I agree with you that I have much more respect for clergy of any religion who loudly preach that our energy and money should be spent the other way around.
posted by straight at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2011


Anyone know which tariqat Qadhi is said to have made peace with or who the convert Imam from Colorado who introduced him to Salafism was?
posted by BinGregory at 6:44 AM on March 20, 2011


Never mind, I've been answered here.
posted by BinGregory at 8:08 PM on March 20, 2011


Coming to this discussion really late. But here goes anyway.


Their reliance on Qadhi is a product of contemporary Islam, a decentralized religion with no clear authority.


This is an odd kind of statement. Islam has been a decentralized religion with no clear authority since shortly after the Prophet's death. It's not a feature specific to contemporary Islam. Obviously, with time, a decentralized religion with no clear authority figures grows into a religion with many, many, variations. Incidentally, if one recognizes this, even if one sets up an "Islamic state," it's laws would have to be fairly secular, because "there is no compulsion in religion" and how you interpret religious texts really does become a matter of a personal conversation with God.


many are what Qadhi refers to as “sympathizers” of militant anger.


THESE are the people that I worry about most. They have been the subject of much conversation among Pakistanis lately. It is the presence of these sympathizers, and I don't think they deserve those quotes, that allows militants to get away with acts that are ridiculously unIslamic and inhumane. The militants close down schools, they blow up mosques, they assassinate the imams who say that killing civilians is wrong, and they have grown BECAUSE of these sympathizers and BECAUSE people like me, who disagree vehemently, have been silent for too long.

“It’s about this deep desire for certainty,” Bernard Haykel, a leading Salafi expert at Princeton University, says. “They are responding to a kind of disenchantment with the modern world.”


The deep desire for certainty is a hallmark of most young religiosity. The problem with something like Salafism is that it seems to narrow people's vision instead of broadening it. It views the certainty as something attainable, instead of teaching that the desire for this kind of certainty is immature and to be viewed within oneself as something to guard against, rather than something to nurture.

Qadhi is hardly disenchanted by the trappings of Western life. He has more than 10,000 fans on Facebook, hundreds of sermons on YouTube and a growing Twitter following. He drives a black, leather-interior Honda CR-V, often pulling into a Popeye’s drive-through for popcorn shrimp and gravy-slathered biscuits. He is planning a trip to Disney World with his wife, Rumana, and their four children.


This is quite typical of the modern Salafis I know. Even the ones who are women who wear full face coverings. It fascinates me because when I've gotten into discussions with them, it's clear that they buy into the idea that these trappings are the only parts of modernity that are worth pursuing. Also scientific and technological advances (no, not just nuclear bombs, but things like modern medicine and labor-saving devices and whatnot). What they do not see is that if you throw part of your brain into the 21st century, and try to leave the rest of it in the 6th (or 7th or 10th or 12th, depending), then you end up with a mass of contradictions. They don't seem to think that advances can be made in the social sciences and humanities. It's really disturbing to see that disconnect. NOTE: There may well be Salafis who don't fit this description. I am speaking only of the ones I have had long discussions with, mostly in Pakistan.

“As long as you don’t touch them, it’s all right,” Qadhi said, referring to his interpretation of Islam’s ruling on dogs.

Aaaaargh. That is all.

Qadhi (who later changed the spelling of his surname to reflect the correct pronunciation)

To reflect the Arabic pronunciation, that is. This is an argument I get into with a lot of Pakistanis in the US. It irritates me when they insist on using the Arabic pronunciation for words that have been pronounced differently in South Asia for something like a thousand years. So Kazi is a perfectly correct transliteration of the way his parents would pronounce their name if they were from the Punjab (being from Karachi doesn't mean much, in this regard), and if they were from one of the places where the distinction between qaaf and kaaf (usually q and k when transliterated) is made, they still would have pronounced it Qazi, not Qadhi. Sorry, just a rant because I have had too many people trying to tell me that I must pronounce words the Arabic way, rather than the Urdu one.
/rant

For all his stridency, Qadhi broke one significant rule: he fell in love outside the bounds of arranged marriage.

This is just idiotic. There is no religious rule about necessarily having an "arranged marriage." That it is common cultural practice is a separate issue, one having nothing to do with religion. Now if it had been a shotgun marriage, THAT would have signified having broken a significant rule.


“I realized that, in many issues, only God knows the ultimate truth,”

This I find just hysterically funny, because of the qualifier. I truly do not understand how a believing Muslim can qualify the statement that only God knows the ultimate truth.

“We just get wishy-washy nonanswers,” one female student told me, adding that Qadhi’s “jihad of the tongue” was unconvincing.

There's that desire for certainty, again.


Joe in Australia: It's true that Iraq is more likely to get mentioned than Bahrain. This is partly because what is happening in Iraq is much more publicized than what is happening in Bahrain. It is also partly because the ruling family in Bahrain is Sunni, and is oppressing a Shia majority. Shias are a minority in Islam, and are often treated with much suspicion by the Sunni majority. So it's not about being friends with Saudi Arabia, except tangentially. Also, yeah, we're more likely to be very vocal about non-Muslims picking on us than about us picking on us (that's kind of universally human, I think.). There are probably other reasons, too, but I can't think of them right now.
posted by bardophile at 12:59 AM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bardophile: thanks, your insights are always appreciated.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:22 AM on March 23, 2011


This I find just hysterically funny, because of the qualifier. I truly do not understand how a believing Muslim can qualify the statement that only God knows the ultimate truth.

Apophatic theology. Statements about God are difficult to make because of the distance between God and man and man's lack of understanding of God. But apophatic (negative) theological statements like "I am not God." do not run into these difficulties.
posted by Jahaza at 7:06 AM on March 23, 2011


Jahaza: I'm not clear on how putting a qualifier on the statement makes it apophatic theology. I just looked up the term after you used it, so it's not like I'm speaking from any substantial understanding of the concept.

However, "Only God knows the ultimate truth" seems like a statement that stands very much as a universally true one, from the perspective of all Muslim theology that I'm familiar with. It's a statement that recognizes that we cannot know the ultimate truth. Saying "in many issues" implies that there are circumstances in which this is not true, an implication that strikes me as downright blasphemous, from the perspective of a believing Muslim.
posted by bardophile at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2011


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