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"I don't feel your pain."
July 13, 2005 7:35 AM   Subscribe

"I don't feel your pain." Mohammed Bouyeri, the man who confessed to killing Dutch filmmaker and writer Theo van Gogh, surprised judges and television viewers alike yesterday by breaking his silence for only the second time since the start of his trial. On monday, when asked about his hate for the same Western society that gave his parents work and asylum, he gave only this short answer in Arabic: "I pray that God protect me that I should ever think differently than I do now." (WaPo link, reg. req'd) [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (65 comments total)

 
Yesterday, after hearing the prosecutor's four-hour statement reconstructing Bouyeri's background and the minute details of the day of the killing, the defendant (who had initially waived the right to mount a defence) suddenly replied:
Wow. That's some nice writing. And now you are not going to interrupt me.
He then directed his words mainly to Theo van Gogh's mother:
I don't feel your pain. I cannot. I don't know what it is like to lose a child that is brought into the world with so much pain and tears. [...] If I were released and would have the chance to do it again I would do exactly the same thing. [...] What moved me to do what I did was purely my faith. [...] I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet.
He wrapped up his somewhat incoherent statement by saying:
Perhaps this can be a little bit of consolation to Mrs. Van Gogh. For the rest, I don't care.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:37 AM on July 13, 2005


As always, Zacht Ei and Peaktalk provide some good background blogging, and here is some previous discussion on MeFi. Also, a Viewropa post rounding up the aftermath of the murder (by yours truly).

Oh, and of course, this thread was inspired by that ill-fated other one, and an attempt to create a better backdrop for this story.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:38 AM on July 13, 2005


OK, Mohammed. Fuck you very much! See you in 6000 years!
posted by fungible at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2005


Mohammed B. broke his silence for only the second time during his murder trial and told the judges on Tuesday: "If I was given the opportunity to do it again, I would do precisely the the same".

So the Dutch need to make sure that they never give him the opportunity again.

It would be nice if some "Islam is peace" imams would have the courage to condemn this pig and issue a fatwah against him. I mean, if they could condemn Salmon Rushdie to death for writing a book...

Muslims in Europe have to make a choice. If Islam is about peace - as I am sick of hearing - then they have to take a clear and unequivocal stand against those who use it to justify murder. Close the mosques where radical Islam is preached, throw out imams who preach radical Islam, ostracize the extremists within their ranks, and dime out the radicals to the authorities.

If Islam is NOT about peace and scum like this are acting within the four corners of the Koran, then Islam must be treated like Nazism and banned in Europe. Tolerance in Europe does not extend to giving the Nazi salute or displaying Swastikas and it is high time Islam decides what side of the line it is on - or risk having that decision made for them.
posted by three blind mice at 7:51 AM on July 13, 2005


A madman grasped religion as his totem and killed a public figure. This is about a murdering sociopath, not about jihad and faith censoring speech... just as the Oklahoma City bombing was not about an Adventist plot to overthrow the U.S. Government.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:52 AM on July 13, 2005


three blind mice: let's not condemn hundreds of millions for the actions of a few, huh? most muslims detest the actions of a man such as mohammed bouyeri in the same way that most christians detest the actions of the kkk.

it's pretty scary when the (largely moderate) followers of any religion can be painted with the swastika in what passes for reasonable discussion. i for one am not ready for wholesale religious war - do you think the vast majority of muslims are any more eager? are you?
posted by louigi at 8:07 AM on July 13, 2005


Resilient little fuckers aren't they. The cancer of Islam. When will the Islamic body (politic) realize it is terminally ill?
posted by WebToy at 8:10 AM on July 13, 2005


I've noticed a bit of a dichotomy about Islam since 9/11, or perhaps even long before. As louigi points out, 99.9% of Muslims are not terrorists and don't agree in the least with terrorist's ideals and attacks. I wholeheartedly believe this to be true.

At the same time, as three blind mice points out, there seems to be a odd lack of genuine outrage in the Muslim community. Where are the boycotts, the protests, the ultimatums--led by mainstream Muslims, against radicals--that can genuinely make a difference? Perhaps I'm too isolated to see it, but can anyone fill me in that there is indeed a Muslim-led backlash against these fundamentalist lunatics?
posted by zardoz at 8:11 AM on July 13, 2005


It would be nice if some "Islam is peace" imams would have the courage to condemn this pig and issue a fatwah against him. I mean, if they could condemn Salmon Rushdie to death for writing a book...

Agreed.

Khaleej Times:
One of Australia’s leading Islamic clerics says he doesn’t believe Osama bin Laden directed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist strikes against America or that Muslims were involved in either that attack or last week’s London bombings.

“I dispute any evil action linked to bin Laden. I don’t believe that even Sept. 11 ... was done by any Muslim at all, or any other activities,” said Sheik Mohammed Omran, echoing a point of view that has gained wide currency in the Islamic world since the attacks.

Omran, head of the fundamentalist Ahl Sunnah wal Jama’ah Association in Melbourne city, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television late Monday that he rejected allegations that bin Laden played a leading role in the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York.

“When you look at the man (bin Laden), from some part of his life, yes he is (a great man),” Omran said.

He said he also did not accept that Islamic extremists were responsible for the London train bombings that killed at least 52 people last week.



And on that note....


The uncle of one of the suspected London suicide bombers said his family had been "left shattered" by the news. Bashir Ahmed, 65, said the family of Shehzad Tanweer, who recently studied religion in Pakistan, could not accept he was capable of the bombings.

"It wasn't him. It must have been forces behind him," he said.

Detectives believe at least three British men of Pakistani descent died carrying out the first attacks of their kind in the UK.

posted by dhoyt at 8:12 AM on July 13, 2005


Given the profiles (if true) of these suiciders in London, they are beginning to look increasingly like a conservative Islamic version of an anti-WTO protester. Nicht Wahr?
posted by WebToy at 8:17 AM on July 13, 2005


To paraphrase zardoz for a moment....

Where are the boycotts, the protests, the ultimatums--led by mainstream Christians, against radicals--that can genuinely make a difference? Perhaps I'm too isolated to see it, but can anyone fill me in that there is indeed a Christian-led backlash against these fundamentalist lunatics?

The reactions by mainstream religious parties from both camps seems equally half-hearted.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:32 AM on July 13, 2005


Where are the boycotts, the protests, the ultimatums--led by mainstream Muslims, against radicals--that can genuinely make a difference?

This is a good question, zardoz - to answer it it's instructive to ask the same question of ourselves, and see what sort of conclusions we draw, about what American Christian response has been to some of the radical actions of extremist Christian sects. For example: in 1995, there were 20 murders classified as hate crimes in the united states, and more than 10,000 reported victims of hate crimes. Roughly two-thirds were race-related, and more than 60% of offenders were white. Replace Muslims by Christians in your question, and ask it again.

It's easy to come up with all sorts of reasonable explanations now: I have no connection with these people. I don't know them or who they are, they wouldn't pay attention if I protested against them, what can one person do, why is this my responsability anyway, I hate what they did as much as any black person, or asian, or muslim. These arguments are equally valid (or invalid) when you make them as when a muslim does in response to Bouryani's murder of Van Gogh.
posted by louigi at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2005


three blind mice: let's not condemn hundreds of millions for the actions of a few, huh? most muslims detest the actions of a man such as mohammed bouyeri in the same way that most christians detest the actions of the kkk.

louigi, let me be clear I am NOT condeming hundreds of millions of the actions of a few. What I am asking for is that those hundreds of millions condemn the few. All I hear is Islam is peace, but I really don't see the Muslim community condeming these pigs with the same vehemence as they condemn America, Israel, etc.
posted by three blind mice at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2005


On post: what CynicalKnight said. And: more recent statistics about hate crimes in the USA, from the FBI.
posted by louigi at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2005


Muslims in Europe have to make a choice. If Islam is about peace - as I am sick of hearing - then they have to take a clear and unequivocal stand against those who use it to justify murder.

And who are you to tell any Muslim that they're represented by a murderer? Huh? Why are you so happy to validate his egomaniac lunacy? That's playing the very same game that fundamentalists play and taking the part for the whole. So very smart. As long as it makes you feel all mighty and preachy, that's all that matters, I guess. Whatever. And by all means let's all continue to ignore condemnations of terrorism and violence even when they come from religious leaders and groups, not just ordinary people, of whom many have also fallen victims to terrorists and extremists, because bombs, sadly, are literally so democratic they never discriminate based on religion or ethnic groups or culture. In New York, or in London, or in Baghdad. Muslims are victims of terrorism too. But maybe they deserve it?

Ignore all that. Nothing is ever enough when minds are already made up. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Clearly only the nutters are representative. I'm sure they appreciate the endorsement.

If Islam is NOT about peace and scum like this are acting within the four corners of the Koran, then Islam must be treated like Nazism and banned in Europe.

Yeah yeah. Why only in Europe? Let's have a global ban.

Bah. With or without BNP link, it's still the same sentiments, apparently.
posted by funambulist at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2005


On post: what CynicalKnight said. And: more recent statistics about hate crimes in the USA, from the FBI. And, three blind mice, I would ask: why should the average Muslim have to spend any more time condemning Bouryani's actions than you spend condemning the hate crimes I mentioned in my last post?
posted by louigi at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2005


I think the big difference between Christians speaking out against extreme fundies and Muslims doing the same is the fact that Christian extremism isn't being mentioned in every second breath by the talking heads on TV. If I were a muslim, this is when I'd want to be disassociating myself from the wackos as loudly as I possibly could. If I were a Christian and we started being inundated with TV coverage of Christian fundies blowing things up, I'd be disassociating from them.

It's not so much a Christian vs. Muslim issue at this point as it is a PR issue.
posted by Moondoggie at 8:49 AM on July 13, 2005


"The reactions by mainstream religious parties from both camps seems equally half-hearted."

Don't you just love relativism.
posted by WebToy at 8:50 AM on July 13, 2005


louigi, don't change the subject. When four Christians blow themselves up on the London Underground and murder 50 other people, then you can draw your equivalence. Until then stay on topic and answer the question.

I agree totally with zardoz that 99% of muslims are peaceful, law abiding, decent human beings. But where is their outrage? Despite the re-assurance that "Islam is peace" I see very actions on the part of peaceful Muslims to root out and condemn the few.

What I am driving at is an uncomfortable feeling that maybe these "few" may not be so out of the mainstream of Islamic thought as we are assured they are. If this is the case, and I hope it is not, then surely Islam cannot be viewed as a positive, or even benign, influence as so many Muslims want us to believe.
posted by three blind mice at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2005


What 3BM said.
posted by WebToy at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2005


Don't you just love relativism.

Indeed, when one self-appointed "side" has killed 20x the civilians that the other side has, the relativistic tendency is cast in the starkest of ironic lights.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2005


If I were a muslim, this is when I'd want to be disassociating myself from the wackos as loudly as I possibly could.

I wonder if people who are pretty strongly religious, especially non Christian, don't do a lot to divorce the corporate mediasphere from their minds. They probably don't "tune in" on a regular basis or let those concerns set the agendas for their lives.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2005


funambulist, Americans ARE represented by the insane actions of its oil men. Catholics ARE represented by the vatican policy of preventing birth control in 3rd world countries which need it. Ilam IS represented by the hate mongers who help create these sociopaths; and whom ordinary Moslems indirectly support. Religion is just wrong because its actions are wrong, it doesnt matter if Bush or other murderers are using it.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:02 AM on July 13, 2005


funambulist you too are missing the point.

What I am saying is that if you look at this as a Muslim problem - which it partly is - then the Muslims seem to be doing damned little about it.

When I heard that the four bombers in London were British born Pakistanis, my heart just sank. The Asians in Britain have done so much and worked so hard to integrate themselves into a nominally racist society... and this sets their efforts back 20 years. They should be GODDAMNED FURIOUS that four of their own - in the name of their religion - have done this... but I just don't see it. Where are the marches? Where are the phone calls to the radio? Where are the letters to the editor demanding justice? When a white BNP racist beats up a "paki" the outrage from the Asian community is palpable - and well justified. I just haven't yet seen the same outrage in this case and it troubles me.
posted by three blind mice at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2005


When four Christians blow themselves up on the London Underground and murder 50 other people.

Actually, the UK had 30 years experience of Roman Catholics using bombs to blow people up, both in Northern Ireland and the mainland.
posted by carter at 9:06 AM on July 13, 2005


But three blind mice, then you'd have to close the synagogues too. Most synagogues are mainly comprised of people who support Israel, there are parts in the Torah where YHVH is portrayed as saying "Go kill over there and kill all the Gentiles!", the Lubavichers' insist that even the most righteous YHVH-fearing Gentile could be at best a "hewer of wood" for the Chosen People in "the world to come", and so on. For that matter, where do you think the Muslims got that from, Islam being basically a heretical offshoot of medieval "Middle Eastern" Judaism?

As you say of its descendant, if Judaism is about peace and justice "then they have to take a clear and unequivocal stand against those who use it to justify murder." To paraphrase you: close the synagogues where radical Zionism is preached, throw out rabbis who preach radical Zionism, ostracize the extremists within their ranks, and dime out the radicals to the authorities. They'd also have to close down all those anti-Palestinian Jewish pressure groups too.

And then of course there are those nasty Christians with their warlike and hate-filled doctrines. 'If you really do believe Jesus is the Prince of Peace then stop sending chaplains to the military, stop baptising battleships, stop claiming God is on the side of your armed forces, and stop characterizing people who invade other countries as "Christian soldiers."' (I for one have been sick of hearing that Christianity is a religion of peace since Billy Graham blessed the Vietnam War; indeed, when search for evidence of that I found, among other things, this.)

If you want to crusade against the Abrahamic religions I'd have a hard time opposing you (unless you dragged in government power), but it's just not fair to crack down on only one of them. If you're going to be intolerant of intolerance, be against them all.
posted by davy at 9:09 AM on July 13, 2005


What I am driving at is an uncomfortable feeling that maybe these "few" may not be so out of the mainstream of Islamic thought as we are assured they are.

I once asked a class of thirty ordinary Muslim Malay teenagers what they thought about the death threats against Salman Rushdie at the height of another famous controversy involving Islam and the arts. Not one of them was willing to disagree with the edict, and more than a few were even willing to sneer at me (their teacher) down when I stood up for artistic freedom.

The shocking part of being confronted with that kind of illiberalism was that many of the kids didn't just disagree with me but had a kind of pity in their eyes like they could visualize me being roasted in hell for unbelieving.

I sense the same kind of indifference of the zealot in this Dutch murderer's statements.
posted by dydecker at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2005


This is the second time today I've seen somebody say "Why aren't Muslims condemning terrorism?" And this is the second time that question has apparently come from somebody who couldn't be bothered to spend 30 seconds googling to determine that they actually are.

Here are a bunch of quotes I found by doing a google search for "Muslim london reaction" and then doing a search in the Times of London for "Muslim." (I live in London, so the recent bombings here are heavily on my mind, which is why I chose to focus on this particular incident.)

From the London Central Mosque:
Our thoughts, our prayers and condolences go out to all the victims of these terrible terrorist attacks. As citizens and co-workers of this great city, we share the concerns and fears of fellow Londoners. We use the same transport and live and work in the same buildings and any attack is an attack on us all.

Islam expressly condemns the use of violence against civilians and innocents. We call on the Muslim community to be fully cooperative in this situation, so we may all live in peace and harmony and continue to make London the vibrant, tolerant and peaceful city it is.

Dr. Ahmed Al-Dubayan the Director General of The Islamic Cultural Centre London unequivocally condemns these terrorist attacks and expresses deep condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the victims and urge all Muslims to be unanimous in their strong support of the Government Anti-terrorist programmes.
This is from the London Times:
Meanwhile, British Muslims throughout the country prayed for the victims during Friday prayers today. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: "Our faith of Islam calls upon us to be upholders of justices. The day after London was bloodied by terrorists finds us determined to help secure this justice for the innocent victims of yesterday's carnage. The terrorists may have thought they could divide us and make us panic. It is our hope that we will all prove them conclusively wrong."

The Muslim Council urged Muslims in Britain to go about their daily routines and not be intimidated or cowed by fear. "This would be the wrong response to the tragic events of yesterday morning," said Sir Iqbal. "Irrespective of who may be behind the bombings in the capital, The Muslim Council condemns all acts of terror vehemently."
From BBC News
Muslim leaders have condemned the terror attacks on London and called for full co-operation with police. Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Inayat Bunglawala called on worshippers to pray for victims at Friday prayers.
A site called Salaam.co.uk says, "Like all British people, the Muslim community reacted with shock and outrage at the Underground explosions and the bomb aboard a London bus that has left 37 people dead. The perpetrators - if they claim to be Muslim - have through their actions mutilated a religion of peace. As many British Muslim organisations have noted in their statements, everyone is a victim in a situation like this." They go on to provide a number of examples of Muslim reaction to the bombing. Here's one example:
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies in the UK & Ireland: FOSIS condemns London attacks
The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (Fosis) is extremely disturbed by the attacks, which hit London transport links this morning. We are extremely saddened by the extent of injuries and deaths that this has caused. Fosis President Wakkas Khan commented, "We are shocked and distressed by these incidents which has hit our country's capital and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who suffered injuries and the families of those who have lost their lives. We continue to condemn in no uncertain terms all such cowardly acts of violence." We would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Muslim students to offer our support and assistance to the emergency services who have reacted swiftly and efficiently.
posted by yankeefog at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2005


Thanks, yankeefog.
posted by carter at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2005


I musn't, but the siren song is strong

Christian extremism isn't ... mentioned ... on TV

Jesus loves me
that I know,
'cause the teevee
tells me so.

TV coverage of Christian fundies blowing things up

Shock and Awe
posted by CynicalKnight at 9:21 AM on July 13, 2005


Actually, the UK had 30 years experience of Roman Catholics using bombs to blow people up, both in Northern Ireland and the mainland.

C'mon carter, the IRA acted in the name of Irish independence, not a radical interpretation of Roman Catholicism. Yeah, Christians and Jews and Mormoms and Scientologists and suck too, but the subject here is people like Bouyeri commiting murder in the name of ISLAM.

Yankeefrog, I have been busy reading the newspapers and listening to the radio here in London - there are other sources of information than those reached by Google.

But your links prove my point exactly.

Islam expressly condemns the use of violence against civilians and innocents.

The terrorists may have thought they could divide us and make us panic. It is our hope that we will all prove them conclusively wrong.

Muslim leaders have condemned the terror attacks on London and called for full co-operation with police.

This doesn't sound like outrage to me. Where is the unequivocal statement that says "the perpetrators of these acts are ENEMIES of Islam and Allah will treat them harshly"? or at least, "no virgins await these criminals"? Where are the statements condeming other imams who have preached jihad?

This is what I see as missing and until "Muslim leaders" uniequivocally take this position - again if indeed this is the position of moderate Islam - I see almost tacit approval in their words.
posted by three blind mice at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2005


This doesn't sound like outrage to me. Where is the unequivocal statement that says "the perpetrators of these acts are ENEMIES of Islam and Allah will treat them harshly"?

Perhaps you should write the statement for them to read. I suspect anything less will fail to satisfy.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:32 AM on July 13, 2005


jeff: first, a representative government is not a religious church. Secondly, in both cases, I personally make a distinction between institutions and people, especially when 'people' is a figure that ranges from a few millions to over a billion.
I don't know, I'm hearing all this talk of Muslims like they're from another species, it's sad really. Maybe the people who talk like that live in a segregated society or in huts in the mountains, I don't know, but anyone who's had some real life interaction with Muslims cannot be that dense. We're talking of real people, flesh and blood, individuals, families, like everyone else. If you talk to a Muslim person, what's the conversation going to be about, like, you have to first ask him/her to disavow the Van Gogh murder before you even grant him/her your precious time? Come on people.

Plus, I'm well tired of hearing talk of Muslims as one single entity that supposedly thinks and acts in unison (again, nice strike for the fundamentalists). Muslims are scattered across all continents, and there's a lot of national, cultural, linguistic, and economic differences, even at group level, aside from individual differences. One and half billion people are nominally Muslims, there'll be all degrees from purely nominal, to extremely religious, and all sorts of in betweens. And yet here we are talking of "them" like one big herd of cattle. Represented by a few nutters. Nice. It doesn't even make sense. Let alone be fair or humane.

Religion is just wrong because its actions are wrong, it doesnt matter if Bush or other murderers are using it.

I completely disagree and I think that sort of reasoning is exactly what fundamentalists of any religion or ideology want. To be identified as the representatives of entire hordes of human beings. I'm not a religious person at all but I don't have to like any religion to know that its beliefs and institutional aspects are one thing, the reality of the lives of millions of people are another. You can be perfectly anti-religious, anti-clerical, anti-ideology and still treat humans like humans. Religions have a historical role in many cultures, they are a factor in creating communities, they are part of identities and part of how people live, and at an ordinary level they manifest themselves in very ordinary ways. Like, habits that people have incorporated in their lives. Like observing Ramadan rather than doing a Buddhist festival. Speaking of which, yeah, Buddhism is probably the only major religion that has never seen any violence associated to it. All the others have blood on their hands. Just like nations, ideas and ideologies, cultures, etc. History is full of bloodshed. So? Taking only the worst macro-phenomena or single acts of violence is literally chucking away a part of humanity and handing a moral victory to fanatics.

If you don't get it, nevermind. Aside from it being bigoted, I just think it's a stupid way of thinking, it doesn't achieve anything except venting. It's entirely self-serving.
posted by funambulist at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2005


ThreeBlindMice, I'm genuinely flabbergasted. Which of the following statements by Muslim leaders reads lke "almost tacit approval" to you?
terrible terrorist attacks...Islam expressly condemns the use of violence against civilians and innocents....unequivocally condemns these terrorist attacks and expresses deep condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the victims...Our faith of Islam calls upon us to be upholders of justices. The day after London was bloodied by terrorists finds us determined to help secure this justice for the innocent victims of yesterday's carnage. ... The Muslim Council condemns all acts of terror vehemently....Muslim leaders have condemned the terror attacks on London... shock and outrage at the Underground explosions and the bomb aboard a London bus that has left 37 people dead. The perpetrators - if they claim to be Muslim - have through their actions mutilated a religion of peace...We are shocked and distressed by these incidents which has hit our country's capital and our thoughts and prayers are with all those who suffered injuries and the families of those who have lost their lives. We continue to condemn in no uncertain terms all such cowardly acts of violence.
posted by yankeefog at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2005


three blind mice: no, I think I got your point quite well, I'm so used to hearing it. You claim you're not tarring millions of people with the same brush, yet that's exactly what you're doing.

It's a clear double standard. For everyone, it's the other way round: unless you explicitely support act x, no one accuses you of supporting it. For Muslims, you demand the opposite, and yet when it's done, you choose to ignore it. You want it both ways, cos all you want is to tell us that Muslims are complacent with terror just by virtue of being Muslims. Well, thanks, we didn't hear that before.

The Asians in Britain have done so much and worked so hard to integrate themselves into a nominally racist society... and this sets their efforts back 20 years.

Bollocks, it does not, unless you deliberately choose to have those millions of Asian Muslims (not all Asians are Muslims, no?) represented by those who bombed London.

Curious, why not choose to have them represented by those who died in those attacks, or were family or friends of those who died in the attacks? If we're going to have one part for the whole, why be so ready to take the worst as the representative?


Where are the marches? Where are the phone calls to the radio? Where are the letters to the editor demanding justice?

Where were the marches, phone calls, letters to the editor from good Christians to protest the Srebrenica massacre, huh? Oh, well, it was only a small local matter anyway.

Again, how easily you forget the condemnations you keep demanding, they've been there since after 9/11, even after the Madrid bombing, in the only actual protest against terrorism, useless as it was (how do you protest a crime? it's not a political decision taken by representatives!), there were Muslim groups there too, just like today in Britain you hear condemantions of the attacks from Muslims, doh, I guess maybe you're not paying attention. Again, how easily you ignore not only the Muslim victims of terrorism, but the racist incidents against anyone who looks Arab or Asian (poor Sikhs, they always get attacked first).

I think it's something else here that sets us all back a few decades.
posted by funambulist at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2005


three blind mice: What I am driving at is an uncomfortable feeling that maybe these "few" may not be so out of the mainstream of Islamic thought as we are assured they are. If this is the case, and I hope it is not, then surely Islam cannot be viewed as a positive, or even benign, influence as so many Muslims want us to believe.

Let's make an experiment and try to see it through their eyes.
"Allah, we are winning! Our religion is giving them a beating... Yeah, people ARE dying, but, well, maybe it's in good cause - those who do it surely gave it some thought..."

Further, imagine that "WE" hit back. Christian suicide bombers strike in Baghdad, Kuala Lumpur, wherever... I bet many people in the West will go "Oh, it's apalling!", but quietly think "heh, that suits them just well."

Finally, let's consider Vietnam. Or Iraq.
posted by Laotic at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2005


3BM:This doesn't sound like outrage to me. Where is the unequivocal statement that says "the perpetrators of these acts are ENEMIES of Islam and Allah will treat them harshly"? or at least, "no virgins await these criminals"? Where are the statements condeming other imams who have preached jihad?

i've agreed with you up to this point, but as carter pointed out, they are already apologetic and pray for the victims of their rogues. i don't know much about islam, but if they're as peace-loving as they claim, i don't see why they would be spewing hatred against those who defile islam. it seems that would be the typical christian reaction.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 9:56 AM on July 13, 2005


Here is what I have been asking for... you stinking apologists.

Those behind this atrocity aren't just enemies of humanity but enemies of Islam and Muslims", said Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the MCB, the main representative Muslim body in Britain.

Apologetic is one thing, making a clear statement about what Islam actually teaches is another.

Cheers! I am proved wrong and extremely happily so.
posted by three blind mice at 10:00 AM on July 13, 2005


I cannot grok how so many at MeFi look the other way when adherents to Fundamentalist Religion X are utterly ridiculed, while Fundamentalist Y adherents are treated like delicate, beautiful, exotic little fabergé eggs. While a too-aggressive reaction seems racist to some, a too-patronizing reaction seems just as counterproductive.

It's also worth mentioning that the case of Mohammed Bouyeri has nothing to do with Christianity, the KKK, abortion clinics, or any other red herrings. The attempts to create relativisms here are particularly weak, especially in terms of the sheer numbers of innocent deaths caused by those victoriously declaring, "Allahu Akbar!" vs. extremely spare incidents of collateral-damage type bombings committed while declaring, "Allahu Jesus!" A fringe wackjob with no financial backing killing one abortion doctor worries me a lot less than a global, heavily funded religious jihad movement which targets large numbers of civilians. I realize this sounds crazy to some.

Look—the Other/the Underdog archetype in this case does not need, want or respect Infidel explanations, apologies or rationalizations on their behalf, so enough distractions. The Mohammed Bouyeris of the world would tell you themselves: they seek certain death for anyone whose worldview appears to infringe on fundamentalist Islam. Clearly, the Muslim community at large will have to look deep within itself to embrace a more open & modern society. Would any moderate Muslim really argue that?

On preview, it is damn good news what 3BM is referring to.
posted by dhoyt at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2005


the IRA acted in the name of Irish independence, not a radical interpretation of Roman Catholicism.

So, religion was no factor in the conflict at all? Go tell that to the reverend. Even in Britain, for the kind of people who transformed their outrage at IRA terrorism into hatred for an entire group of people, being Irish and/or Catholic was enough. Just like today with Muslims. Bigotry only changes target, taking whatever excuses it finds.

Let's keep up this nice tradition, or else the earth may stop rotating on its axis.
posted by funambulist at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2005


blind mice: no one has been 'apologetic', unless you define anti-bigotry as apologetic. That 'this is what I've been looking for' condemnation you quote is exactly the same stuff we've been hearing since 2001 at least, insofar as attacks on western territory are concerned.

Colossal waste of time. Must remember to stay out of these threads, sigh...
posted by funambulist at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2005


I'm well tired of hearing talk of Muslims as one single entity that supposedly thinks and acts in unison (again, nice strike for the fundamentalists).

You mean like the way you just characterized "the fundamentalists" as a "one-headed monster"? Whichever fundamentalists you meant; I know of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu fundies, myself.

Oh and by the way, yankeefog, those Muslim leaders need to read the Quran a bit more. Just searching that site with only the term "enemy" and clicking through the list of results easily got this (in three translations at once):

002.098
YUSUFALI: Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and messengers, to Gabriel and Michael,- Lo! Allah is an enemy to those who reject Faith.
PICKTHAL: Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers.
SHAKIR: Whoever is the enemy of Allah and His angels and His messengers and Jibreel and Meekaeel, so surely Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers.

See? "Allah is the enemy of the unbelievers."

Again:

004.101
YUSUFALI: When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the Unbelievers May attack you: For the Unbelievers are unto you open enemies.
PICKTHAL: And when ye go forth in the land, it is no sin for you to curtail (your) worship if ye fear that those who disbelieve may attack you. In truth the disbelievers are an open enemy to you.
SHAKIR: And when you journey in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open enemy.

See? Unbelievers are enemies of Muslims and are out to get them.

I'm sure someone with more time and patience can do better, e.g., find the verses about the House of War. (If not I can later.)
posted by davy at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2005


Where were the marches, phone calls, letters to the editor from good Christians to protest the Srebrenica massacre, huh? Oh, well, it was only a small local matter anyway.

funambulist, You are (purposefully?) confusing acts done in the name of nationalism by members of a religious group with acts done IN THE NAME OF RELIGION by a religious group.

It does not seem unreasonable to expect leaders of a religious organisation to speak out against acts done in the name of their religion that they say are contrary to it's fundamental teaching.

Now that at least the Muslim Council of Britain has done so (thanks carter) I am satisfied that my rant in this thread was justified.
posted by three blind mice at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2005


um, so if YOU were wrong, why is it that we're all "stinking apologists?"



Dolt.
posted by stenseng at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2005


davy: You mean like the way you just characterized "the fundamentalists" as a "one-headed monster"? Whichever fundamentalists you meant;

Muslim fundamentalists, duh, whose claims of speaking for all True Muslims gets validated by people who take them as representative of all True Muslims. I said this already above. Read before you quote, perhaps? thanks.

three blind mice: no, I'm not purposefully confusing anything, of course the IRA was not about a jihad by fundamentalist Christians, anyone knows that, it's obvious, it's fact. What I was pointing out were the bigoted reactions towards Irish people/Catholics as a whole, and the fact that religion has always been indeed a part of the conflict in NI.
Come on, it's easy. Unless you're being deliberately obtuse.

It does not seem unreasonable to expect leaders of a religious organisation to speak out against acts done in the name of their religion that they say are contrary to it's fundamental teaching.

No, it doesn't seem unreasonable, and many leaders have been doing that for years, and it's your own problem if you only noticed now. What's unreasonable is ignoring that, and then asking not even religious leaders but ordinary people do more than ordinary people in other religions/groups do.

Also, unlike, say, Catholicism, Islam does not have a central authority so anyone can speak for Islam without being officially excommunicated. So you'll find some cleric in one part of the world that says one thing, and another that says the opposite. On anything. Sometimes you even have fatwas and counter-fatwas from one mosque to the other in the same town. Clearly, all this is too much useless complexity when one only wants to make blanket statements.

I am satisfied that my rant in this thread was justified.

Hang on, so because other commenters show you that you were completely wrong about there being an absence of official condemnation from religious leaders, your rant was justified?

Nevermind. Rant on in peace.
posted by funambulist at 10:59 AM on July 13, 2005


davy: You mean like the way you just characterized "the fundamentalists" as a "one-headed monster"? Whichever fundamentalists you meant;

funambulist: Muslim fundamentalists, duh, whose claims of speaking for all True Muslims gets validated by people who take them as representative of all True Muslims.

Like so many people, including so many people here, take Christian fundamentalists as representative of all True Christians; I know almost every Christian fundamentalist media loudmouth I've ever heard says they are and seems to want us to accept it.

I said this already above. Read before you quote, perhaps? thanks.

Pay attention to what you're typing.
posted by davy at 11:52 AM on July 13, 2005


Here's an idea: where in the Koran does it say "Islam is a religion of peace"? Or words unequivocally to that effect?

Note that very few Muslims (leaders or not) will say that the Koran is NOT the fundament of Islam, and most will say that if it goes against the Koran it's wrong -- and that it it's also wrong try to read into the Koran what is not there or say "it says this" when it does not.

Have we any real Koranic scholars around?
posted by davy at 12:07 PM on July 13, 2005


davy, honestly, I don't know what you're arguing with?

You thought I was characterising who as a "one-headed monster"? I didn't even use that "one-headed monster" phrase you quoted. I was talking about how the kind of reactions that generalise about Muslims as fundamentalists or terrorist supporters are validating the position of Islamic fundamentalists. Like, giving them power as representatives.

I don't know what you read into that, but it was a very straightforward point.

Like so many people, including so many people here, take Christian fundamentalists as representative of all True Christians; I know almost every Christian fundamentalist media loudmouth I've ever heard says they are and seems to want us to accept it.

Yes, exactly, like I said (is everyone bored yet?), "that sort of reasoning is exactly what fundamentalists of any religion or ideology want", etc. etc.

So, whatever or whoever you're arguing with, it wasn't me.
posted by funambulist at 12:08 PM on July 13, 2005


Okay funambulist, I'm not arguing with you. We seem to be talking past each other.

I went on anyway. So, have you found "Islam is a religion of peace" in the Koran yet? It'd be tedious to do with that search interface I found, but I did find the word "peace" occurs a few dozen times -- and I just found purely by accident a Koranic admonition against killing a believer:

004.092
YUSUFALI: Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (Compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased's family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (Is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom ye have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to Allah: for Allah hath all knowledge and all wisdom.
PICKTHAL: It is not for a believer to kill a believer unless (it be) by mistake. He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood-money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you, and he is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from Allah. Allah is Knower, Wise.
SHAKIR: And it does not behoove a believer to kill a believer except by mistake, and whoever kills a believer by mistake, he should free a believing slave, and blood-money should be paid to his people unless they remit it as alms; but if he be from a tribe hostile to you and he is a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (suffices), and if he is from a tribe between whom and you there is a convenant, the blood-money should be paid to his people along with the freeing of a believing slave; but he who cannot find (a slave) should fast for two months successively: a penance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing, Wise.

004.093
YUSUFALI: If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.
PICKTHAL: Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell for ever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.
SHAKIR: And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell; he shall abide in it, and Allah will send His wrath on him and curse him and prepare for him a painful chastisement.
posted by davy at 12:47 PM on July 13, 2005


Have we any real Koranic scholars around?

Doubtful. I know quite a few however and have a good idea how complex tafsir (Qu'ranic exegesis) actually is.

Arabic grammer is a doozy.

Muslim leaders generally have a pretty good idea about the Qu'ran.

What we (speaking as a sunni muslim) don't tend to do is decontextualise it and ignore other evidences of it's meanings from alternate explanatory sources (eg hadith, statements of the Companions of the Prophet (pbuh) etc).

Standard approach is that we take a set of axioms for source based normative ruling derivation (commonly referred to as a "madhab") and apply it to the available evidences to formulate a ruling for the permissibility or status of a given action or concept with respect to the Shariah (the will of Allah (swt), an absolute in our epistemology) referred to as our fiqh (limited human understanding).

Each of the four main madhabs fits a bit different and once all the available evidences are weighed up, we end up with (hopefully) coherent proofs for the final result with respect to that methodology.

Scholars who can do this derivation are generally referred to as mujtahids, of which there are a number of levels, and we refer back to their ijtihad (understanding of a mujtahid/struggle to find the Truth of a matter).

With respect to fighting etc, the understanding of sunni scholarship is that those who attack and try to harm you as the pagans/polytheists did to the Prophet (pbuh) as outlined in some of those verses are your enemy (well, duh). Given that people are attacking you, you are entitled to respond like for like, but you have to stay within strict limits (no collateral damage, targetting of women and children, salting of crops etc). The specifics of these limits are derived via ijtihad, just as the specifics of how we pray (bow, stand, prostrate, what we say etc) are derived via ijtihad (Qu'ranic injunction basically says: establish regular prayer, off you go).

Other things agreed on by sunni scholarship are items such as the clear impermissbility of vigilantism and the need to respect treaties and deal honestly with others.

Muslim scholars generally have a good grip of the Qu'ran, as do muslim leaders. English interpretations of meaning kinda leave out the qualifiers and specifiers of what our understanding actually is. Even tafsirs (eg Ibn Kathir for a basic one) don't tell anywhere near the whole story, which is why we generally go with the general message of the religion (be good, aim for Heaven by being good to yourself and others, help others etc) and then check with our scholars for exceptional circumstances.
posted by Mossy at 12:48 PM on July 13, 2005


blind mice, it's simple, the Qoran being an Arab reworking of the Bible, you can find in it all the good old familiar blood and gore, in slightly different twists. Have fun with selected quotes: cruelty and violence in the Qoran, in the Bible, and in the Book of Mormons.

That's how you tell how billions of people from different religions actually live, in daily life. Or not.

If all those books were to be taken literally, humanity would have been extinct by now. Not even fundamentalists get that crazy.

Now if you'll excuse me I'll go and slay my firstborn and then drink my own blood, but only after having killed two thousand Lamanites and beaten my servants as if they were my children.
posted by funambulist at 1:10 PM on July 13, 2005


Most religions are religions of peace. All religions can suffer interpretations that pervert the message to support non-peaceful actions. Religions such as Christianity and Islam(?) that claim to be the one religion, forsaking all others, are more easily mis-interperated in this way.

The London bombers were very much normal people, or at least the one who's name has been released was a primary school teacher, a sportsman and martial artist. Not a loner. Reminds me of the successful attack on the World Trade and Petnagon buildings in 2001 by other middle class/non-pov people.

It is possible to use the beard of religion to make a statement, no matter how nihilistic, about global politics. It is possible that some of the Saudi team simply wanted to strike at the US and were not neccessarily duped into it with promises of vestal virgins.

Mr Bouyeri sounds more like a sociopath who deliberately misunderstands the message of Islam as a beard for his character flaws.

It is much more difficult for some people to concieve of a suicide bomber being more similar to them than dis-similar. When dialogue has broken down people look for other means of communication.

Most importantly, people are led by example, whether conciously or unconciously. If the self proclaimed 'leader of the free world' resorts immediately to violence, without pause for negotiation or thought, that will be seen as a legitamate means of communication by others. Tread others as you would be treated yourself.

On preview, I'll have to read the thread now! It has grown since I last refreshed!
posted by asok at 1:24 PM on July 13, 2005


Thanks for that explanation, Mossy.
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on July 13, 2005


No problem, hope it helped.

It's probably also worth pointing out that most (sunni) muslims follow madhabs as a matter of course - ie they follow a set interpretation/set of rulings according to one madhab without having the foggiest what a madhab is (as different areas have different madhabs in predominance). Hence the average Bilal will learn his Islam from his Mom or Dad, which may be according to the Hanafi methodology for example if he's ethnically subcontinental Indian, or Maliki methodology if he's African (although of course there are Malikis in India and Hanafis in Africa). It's likely that his local scholar or imam will be versed in the same methodology and thus be able to teach him further should he ask.

Now, here comes the interesting (perhaps) bit. What happens when you toss away traditional understandings/methodologies? Well, anything you like really. I could have a methodology which just says: take the outward meaning of every surah of the Qu'ran in isolation as I see it fit. Or, take exactly what Ibn Kathir says about everything as relevant to today's situation etc etc.

Is this a valid interpretation of Islam?

I, being biased, would say no. It's unlikely to be coherent or consistent and doesn't have the checking and rechecking that exists say with the four main methodologies (as scholars check the ijtihad of prior mujtahids and the proofs therein for consistency, writing books called radds if its whack).

Nevertheless, a person with an odd methodology could call himself muslim just as I can - why not?

Therefore we can get a myriad of interpretations of Islam (fiqhs). Mine can be peaceful - I love y'all. Some other people's can be violent (eg al Qaeda, the "Saviour" Sect (aka al Muhajaroon) etc).

So is "Islam" inherently violent? As muslims we believe there is an absolute of interpretation: Shariah, which the Prophets (pbuh) actualised, ie their fiqh was the Shariah. Our fiqhs approximate to it as mentioned above (hence the madhabs consider themselve mutually valid for example).

One can apply different methodologies to the available evidences (historical records, hadith, qu'ran, tafsir, amal, urf etc) as much as one likes to find the "absolute" truth of the question (if indeed there is one, muslims consider there is because it's the religion of Allah (swt) according to us) at varying levels of sophistication.

At the end of the day, most muslims say: we can only approximate the best we can in our understanding and most (sunni) muslims take by default the understanding of one of the four methodologies.

The scholars of each of these condemn vigilante "justice", condemn the murder of innocents, condemn terrorist attacks and say to respect treaties and be good and decent people.

The laymen who follow these try to live their lives the best they can just like everyone else - you maybe work with the or go to school with them.

Groups that decide to go their own way in interpreting and, ironically, those who try to warn of Islam by saying it's a violent religion (the terrorists would agree with them) proffer different versions in line with their own agendas according to whatever new methodology they choose to use. I reckon there's not much value in those myself..

Sorry for the ramble..
posted by Mossy at 2:00 PM on July 13, 2005


Mossy, if that's a ramble, it's a good kind of ramble. I enjoyed reading it.
posted by funambulist at 3:21 PM on July 13, 2005


Mossy, have you seen the Wikipedia article on Ijtihad??

It was my impression from my reading -- admittedly broad but not deep, and none in Arabic -- that (at least for Sunnis ) "the gates of Ijtihad" were closed about 1000 years ago, that is (as you say) born into a fiqh and/or finds an "Muslim leader" to follow and that (if one thinks about it) one can only hope that ones Authorities are not leading one into error. Couple that with facts like most of the world's Muslims don't have Arabic as a first language (and nobody has Classical Arabic as a mother tongue), that for example boys in madressas in Pakistan and Malaysia are learning to parrot the Qur'an by rote without understanding much of what they're saying and doing, and I wonder how many of the world's Muslims can possibly be practicing the Islam of the Qur'an. Indeed it seems to my lay-kaffir's eye that most Muslims have it worse than American Christians: the latter here usually don't read their Bibles and rely on their preachers to tell them what's "Biblical", while a great many (if not the majority) of Muslims simply cannot read their Scriptures with any understanding. (An analogy that comes immediately to mind is that with a Spanish/English dictionary I could inch my way through a Mexican newspaper, but translating Unamuno is beyond me.)

Something I'm familiar with is how the Bible is misread (if it's read at all): for example, Leviticus 18:22 clearly says "Thou shalt not lie with man, as with woman: it is abomination" -- so Phelps is right to point to his Bible and say "It says here God hates fags." You can find other Bible passages that seem to contradict that, you can say that for example "the commandment to 'love thy neighbor as thyself' precludes fag-bashing", but nowhere in the Bible can you read gay sex explicitly praised -- nowhere can you find a verse that says anything like "God says it's perfectly okay to have sex with the same sex, in fact it's recommended." You can't even find anything there that says that gay sex is not wrong. This doesn't affect my life directly much -- as a bisexual atheist I don't live by the Bible anyway, nor do I think anybody should -- but something in me gets pedantically upset when I hear my queer brethren and sistren claim that "the Bible is not anti-Gay": of course it is, that's one reason why I don't live by it.

So it's in the same spirit that I say "in (the English translations of) Sura 4 (The Women), verse 92, it clearly says that it's wrong for a believer -- in context, a Muslim -- to kill another believing Muslim, but it does NOT say anything as sweeping as "Thou shalt not kill (period)" -- and further down in "004.101" it does indeed say that non-Muslims are Muslims' enemies. So however an "Muslim leader" might try to explain that away, right there it says in the Qur'an itself that it non-Muslims are The Enemy and that by clear implication it's not as wrong for a Muslim to kill an infidel like me as it is to kill an Muslim like you. So as far as I can tell it says in the Qur'an (at least in Sura 4) that Islam is (supposed to be) a religion of peace between Muslims -- just as it does say in the Bible that it's perfectly okay at least to discriminate against me ("it is an abomination"). I won't say, indeed I can't say, that whole point of Christianity is hating fags or that the whole point of Islam is killing kaffirs, but it does seem dishonest and cowardly (if not downright heretical for believers) to tell us that the Bible says God loves queers or that the Qur'an is all about being peaceful with non-Muslims. This is nothing personal against you, just like I did not hold my father's religion against him; this is just a fact of life that religious scriptures do that kind of crap -- and that some people having been brought up in a religion cannot simply disown it when it seems unjust, but instead must find a way to maintain their "hope for salvation" -- by saying that their scripture really does not in fact say or mean what in fact it clearly does say and mean.

I have learned enough to know that no amount of verbal shilly-shallying can make an atheist's life equal to another Muslim's according to Islam, because, as I'm familiar with from reading about the Ismailis, anyone who contradicts or "explains away" the Qur'an, who claims to know better than the clear words of the Qur'an itself, sets himself up in opposition to Allah, the Qur'an and the Prophet, and is thus judged wrong, if not automatically (as some say) the enemy of all real Muslims. And hey, if I can figure out that the Qur'an clearly means that a Muslim's life is more valuable than my own it must be a pretty simple fact indeed; however hard the Arabic grammar of the Qur'an is, the plain English of the Qur'an's translators is so clear that even I can't miss it.
posted by davy at 12:26 AM on July 14, 2005


I have read the wikipedia article on ijtihad and have been thinking about updating and expanding it (not had the time or organisation) as it is a dash simplistic (to say the least). I wrote previously on (sunni) ijtihad on metafilter, which you may find of interest: http://www.metafilter.com/mefi/42235 I would reference in particular the article by Bernard Weiss I attached.

You raise some good points and ignorance of qualified fiqh does indeed make it easier to have cultural "contamination" (say for instance in the tribal courts of Pakistan) and deviant (with respect to humaneness) ideologies to be propogated in suitable environments (eg disenfranchised youth).

However, in general the situation in Islam is not as bad as Christianity (with respect to qualified scholarship/book learnin') as we have a wide availability of books of fiqh as well as the Qu'ran and other sources. In addition, learning by rote has always been the traditional method of passing knowledge, hence the layman is known as the "muqallid" or he who does taqleed (rote following of the strongest positions of the scholars of a madhab). Hence imams generally have a comprehensive knowledge of the positions of the school in which they are educated. Muftis have additional training to allow them to do ijtihad fil madhab - ie ijtihad using the majority and minority positions of a madhab as well as the tools of their individual madhab (eg Hanafi madhab uses ray, analogy, to respond to new situations, just like Western law) to respond to new queries and situations - that's what a fatwa is, a tailored response. Shaykhs tend more towards being research scholars and specialise in the various Islamic sciences, all of which are still taught.

We still have a healthy number of scholars for the leaders to check up with, who've read those verses plus their tafsir (now see, what does unbeliever mean? Does it mean all non-muslims, or specific non-muslims such as Abu Jahl? Mostly the latter) and the explanations of the Companions.

Your approach is similar to one I indicated above and simply doesn't sync with that of the majority, who stick to prior ijtihad rather than make their own due to the mass of evidence available.

The Qu'ran is all about constructing a framework by which we live our lives. If someone tries to kill you, then you may retaliate (seems simple). If you retaliate, the details of what is permissible in retaliation are outlined by other verses of the Qu'ran and other evidence sources (weighed up differently according to methodology).

Now, this is where arabic comes in. There are different types of verse in the Qu'ran: some tell of stories, other tell of commands. This is made clear by both the arabic tenses used and exegesis by both the Prophet (pbuh) and historical records.

Some verses are clear in meaning (qati) others are uncertain (dhanni). This is not a quality conveyed in the translation as one loses the nuances and multiple meanings of certain words - when there are multiple meanings, it can become dhanni. Qati ayat superceded dhanni ayat.

There are those of commentary, those of advice, those of general command and those of specific command, each of which supercedes and specifies (takhsis) the other in turn - again, this can be seen by arabic. Think of the use of the imperative in latin or french for an analogy.

It would probably be instructive to give an example of an usul at this point: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/ABewley/usul.html

That's a brief overview of the Maliki one.

Most layman don't have a grasp of the sciences of tafsir or Qu'ranic arabic true. The scholars do and have come to their conclusions about what's allowed and not allowed with various stages fo sophistication, which a layman can study with the scholar (eg fiqh is superior to tafsir is superior to literal reading). This is why the average muslim treads with care when trying to read the word of God in case he misinterprets it, rather than takes it at its literal import decontextualised, as you have done above.

Do you know which surahs refer to specific unbelievers and which to all unbelievers? Tafsir are generally pretty clear on that, as are better translations of the Qu'ran (such as the Majestic Qu'ran). Do you know the different classifications of people within the Qu'ran itself dependent on their relationship with muslims? The vast array of rights of neighbours and the ayat which do not have muslim-only qualifiers?

If you're going to read it, read the whole thing with a bit of context at least - it's a more intellectually honest method of going about things. Normal muslims have their books of tafsir and local imam to ask about these things, plus nearby shaykhs and halaqahs (classes) at the mosques on tafsir, the life of the prophet (pbuh), fiqh etc.

Can the imam go nutty and preach death to all? Of course he can, but then he's overstepping the bounds of what he's qualified to do and serving his own agenda.

Still, as I said above, it really doesn't (imo) make sense to tell muslims that you religion says to kill all unbelievers regardless of situation when the vasty majority of muslims would say errr no and the vast majority of qualified scholarship would go eh? It's what the nutty terrorists say spreading their propoganda and leaving out nice things like context. Intellectually dishonest.

The plain English of the Qu'rans translators doesn't tell the whole story by a long shot and is why each of them is called an interpretation of the meaning of the Qu'ran and each recommends referring to qualified scholarship in his intro.

Live in peace with those who live in peace with you and those with whom you have treaties, respect those treaties. Those who attack and try to kill you are your enemies (well, duh) just as the unbelievers (as told of in those ayat) attacked and tried to kill the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions. Retaliation against them and the scope of this and the mechanics are all outlined and specified by the other sources we have available, as well as other ayat.

Islam isn't all in the Qu'ran, nor is it all hadith. It's a holistic combination of these plus many other evidences.

Well, according to most sunnis anyway - Ismailis and others view things differently.
posted by Mossy at 4:05 AM on July 14, 2005


funambulist, I said oil men, not Bush, although Bush is included. The oil men (or other war profiteers) were not elected. Actions of a society's extremist do reflect on that society, period. Yes, oil men have lots of power which its hard to take away, but we Americans don't even try because we like cars. Yes, radical clerics create these sorts of sociopaths, but Muslims don't do anything about it because doing so would weaken the evangelical cause of their religion (plus, many like keeping their women in line). And similarly for christians.

No, I don't like discrimination or skin heads. Heck, I don't even think the terrorism is important---Mecca probably has more to fear from an insane nuke armed Christian. But down your road lies "equal time for creationism" in biology journals and PhD programs, and avoiding that is important. Even next to the oil men, Christianity is the real near term threat.

three blind mice & davy, amen!
posted by jeffburdges at 4:22 AM on July 14, 2005


So mossy, so far you've told me I don't have the intelligence to understand what I read, that the Qur'an does not mean what it says (or at least not when what it says is inconvenient), that the the English translations "don't tell the whole story" though you don't challenge the accuracy of the referenced translations, and the Islam is not really based on the Qur'an anyway but on what all these generations of experts have said the Qur'an really means to say.

I don't get it. I thought the Muslim view of the Qur'an is that it's the final uncorrupted scripture revealed (albeit in pieces) by God to the last of Earth's prophets through his most qualified angel; but now you tell me that God messed up and sent a broken scripture that requires special reinterpretation to be useful. Not only do we need analogies supplied by experts to cover things that are not mentioned in the Qur'an because they weren't invented yet, but we also need experts to explain even the apparently simplest and clearest passages.

Or maybe the Qur'an is a puzzle-book: what it says on the surface is not important because the real point is the Secret Code embodied therein. Maybe as with the Bible code there's a special technique to decipher it by revealing the important letters and how to arrange them, or maybe there's a system of verbal equivalencies vouchsafed only to experts so that for example when the Qur'an says "rock" it really means "water" and when it says someone "rode a horse" it really means "he ate a steak".

In either case, why bother distributing the Qur'an so widely and referring to it so much? Either it's broken or it's a Secret Code (or both); it's certainly no good to anyone who'd just pick it up and read it hoping to find in it a way to seek God and avoid Hell, even if they can read the original Arabic. Indeed, it would seem that a romance novel or Auto Repair For Dummies have more practical use than the Qur'an: the former at least tells a coherent entertaining story, and the latter will teach one how to replace a spark plug.
posted by davy at 9:02 AM on July 14, 2005


But down your road lies "equal time for creationism" in biology journals and PhD programs

jeff, that's absurd projection, nothing I wrote implied anything of the sort. Just wanted to point that out. Nothing more to add here. No point.
posted by funambulist at 11:05 AM on July 14, 2005


Nope, didn't say anything about your intelligence - if you want to carry out a full hermeneutical analysis of the Qu'ran using the available resources (eg an arabic dictionary), I'm positive you could understand it properly. That requires application of course.

All referenced translations are inaccurate and this is admitted to by the translators themselves as I previously stated - hence they are referred to as "interpretations of the meaning" rather than translations.

Islam uses the Qu'ran as an eternal framework and the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) as a filling on of that framework and its details with reference to his time and locale (hence certain actions are qualified as being cultural, others part of the religion).

As I said, you *cannot* learn how to pray in a muslim manner from the Qu'ran alone. Which is why we have these other sources to fill in the details, all of which are readily available.

You say the Qu'ran says that those verses you quoted are general. I say they are not due both to the arabic and the context of revelation. Heck, the context is even in most of those translations, but you have failed to provide it (please see Madaudis intros on the USC site for example). I fail to see how any of those verses can have the import you have delineated unless read in the absence of the available context and the preceding/following verses.

Otherwise would anybody want to convert to Islam having read the Qu'ran? I know dozens of great and decent men and women who have. I have not had anyone who has read the entire Qu'ran, even in its translated form, in full come up to me and tell me it preaches hate and death for all non-muslims.

Did you get that message when you read the entire thing? No positive messages? Does the context delineated in those pages actually matter?

Islam is based on the Qu'ran as an eternal frame of reference that has the highest standing in all methodologies. The dictionary by which we understand the commands of the Qu'ran and the situations within it are delineated by our other sources as mentioned in the Qu'ran (all methodologies have their basis in the ayat of the Qu'ran and slightly variant understandings of this - hence the majority of things are agreed upon).

The Qu'ran means what it says when you read it in context and in order. Translations are broken and incomplete and some are better than others. Read with care and a smattering of context and you'll understand it better and get the broad outline of the main part of Islam: tawheed, as well as references to the major parts of a muslims life. It stands as an eternal framework for us - it is complete with reference to it's task in this manner.

If you find something that you think is whack, go ask someone who's studied it and see if there is a rational explanation. If there ain't, reject it.
posted by Mossy at 1:05 PM on July 14, 2005


Mossy, in the first place, the Qur'an is not printed in the order it was given in but (except for the opening) in diminishing order of size. I'm sure you know better than me that a lot of experts have spent 1500 years arguing about how it should arranged to make more sense to a non-expert reader.

As for "learn[ing] how to pray in a muslim manner from the Qur'an alone", I defer to someone who knows better than I do, Edip Yuksel. I also read somewhere (I forget where, I don't log everything I read) that before Muhammad the Jews were praying in a very similar way to the way Muslims do now; this stands to reason if Islam were as it says a development of an Abrahamic tradition.(And if you want to read people who are better at this schtick here than I am, have fun with Freethought Mecca.)

Surely you've heard of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation: "Sola scriptura" is what I was taught about the Holy Book my family was into. Why would the Muslims be deprived of a Revelation that can stand by itself? Then too, if the Qur'an alone is seen as complete in itself a lot of influential Islamic intellectuals would have to do something else for a living.

As for translations, I confess that I have enough trouble reading Spanish, my single foreign (not even second) language, in an alphabet only two letters away from this one. Since you're clearly not so limited, what's so wrong with those Ali, Pickthall and Shakir have produced? Don't just tell me they're wrong, show me: "this word x is translated 1, when it really means 2." And since you say they don't render the literal meaning, what would stop you from doing it? Of course I don't mean for you to translate the whole Qur'an, you could just pick Sura 4 for example; I'd probably have to take your word for it, but there are folks around here who don't. (You have web page, right? If not, well, is Geocities still free?)


As you advised me, "If you find something that you think is whack, go ask someone who's studied it and see if there is a rational explanation." Would you please explain to me what fortuitously brought Ayesha through puberty at age 9? Was it a glandular condition or a metaphysical miracle?

Or you could just dismiss me as a scoffing atheist idiot. Martin Luther would have, but that's not why it won't bother me either.

And by the way, to refer to a remark another Mefite recently made, except for the level of authority he claims for himself, how does what Osama bin Laden is trying to do differ substantively from what Hassan-i Sabbah was after? I know you can explain that better than I, and if I use it I'll gladly cite you as my source.

And Mossy, I did NOT say the Qur'an preaches hate and death for all non-Muslims: I said Sura 4 preaches that killing a Muslim is a very bad thing, but does not say that about infidels, and that it says that unbelievers are the enemies of Muslims. Slander me with "the telephone game" if you want, but it would be more effective were what I said not in this very same thread.
posted by davy at 1:46 AM on July 16, 2005


Great, one extra quote wrecked a link. Try this for the Wikipedia article on "Sola scriptura". (ARGH.)
posted by davy at 1:50 AM on July 16, 2005


You seem to have missed my major point. I'll write up a proper reply tmrw hopefully (sorry, today is Harry Potter day), but for now I would point out this statement:


See? Unbelievers are enemies of Muslims and are out to get them.


and ask as you've done extra reading now who the unbelievers referred to in those verses are.

All non muslims? Those who are not ahlul kitab (also delineated in the Qu'ran)? A specific group therein?

Thanks.

Also on whether its fair to judge what the Qu'ran says about a topic without analysing all verses concerning it.

I would also point out that I was giving the sunni methodology for hermeneutic interpretation and understanding, as well as the sunni system of jurisprudence (as most muslims follow the rules derived from this) and acknowledged the existence of alternate methodologies outside of these (such as that employed by Mr Yuskel and the submitters, with whom I am familiar).

More tmrw if time permits, back to this slow moving travesty of a book.. Blah..

(Matt should include auto closers in the code, quotes ruining links do suck indeed)

PS The Qu'ran is most certainly not in diminishing order of size, please check your copy if it is (!)
posted by Mossy at 11:35 AM on July 16, 2005


Right, I'm off to do some book learnin' (as my arabic is pants). In response to your above inquiry as to sites, well for standard traditional sunni Islam, www.sunnipath.com is good, as is www.masud.co.uk, www.themodernreligion.com (harder to navigate) and in terms of forum/discussion areas, www.sunniforum.com (just be polite and vaguely respectful (ie don't fling accusations that could hurt others if you want to find out what they think on a topic)).

Cya.
posted by Mossy at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2005


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