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Interview with a British Jihadist
July 29, 2005 3:40 AM   Subscribe

An interview with a British Jihadist. What he believes, how he came to his beliefs. An extended version of the interview from the latest issue of Prospect.
posted by biffa (93 comments total)

 
This is a fantastic post - thanks so much for bringing this to my (our) attention, biffa.

It's such a fascinating article. Full of insights and revelations for me. Aatish Taseer asked really strong, incisive questions, and Mr Butt's answers are articulate, direct and earnest. They're also, in places, really scary.
posted by Marquis at 4:08 AM on July 29, 2005


Mr Butt

No relation.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:55 AM on July 29, 2005


Fascinating post!

What strikes me most about Butt's remarks is how similar his ideas are to those of the (low-IQ white-supremacist) British National Party.

Like them, he seems desperate to find something to believe in, some way to feel important and certain and powerful and clever, in a world where he's really none of these things.

So if you're white (and not terrifically bright) you might go for the BNP, and rant about the global conspiracy against white people; if you're a muslim (and not terrifically bright) you might go for al-Muhajiroun and rant about a global conspiracy against muslims.

It's interesting that it doesn't even occur to Butt that the Koran might be an ordinary book written by less-than-perfect human beings - he'd no doubt want to kill me for suggesting that, right? :-))

I wonder if these nutters really do believe they're going to Paradise?

I suspect they just want other people to believe that they believe it, so much that they'd die for us to believe they believe it. It's that central to their sense of self-worth. Poor fuckers.
posted by cleardawn at 5:13 AM on July 29, 2005


I'm sure many of them do believe they are going to Paradise. Belief and faith are very powerful things.

On another note, I also found this interview really interesting, and also unsettling. How can you reason with people who have belief systems like that?
posted by mikeweeney at 5:21 AM on July 29, 2005


What strikes me most about Butt's remarks is how similar his ideas are to those of the (low-IQ white-supremacist) British National Party.

Exactly what I was thinking cleardawn. Losers seeking excuses and validation for their own failures.

Pity suicide alone isn't enough to gain entry into their "paradise." Their compassionate and merciful God instructs them to take someone out with them.
posted by three blind mice at 5:29 AM on July 29, 2005


How do you "reason with people" who hold any beliefs contrary to your own? Strong beliefs - of any nature - are very hard to displace with anything except personal experience and observation. The best you can do is to use logic and rhetoric to make people reflect on their own beliefs and maybe come to some different conclusions.
posted by Marquis at 5:31 AM on July 29, 2005


How can you reason with people who have belief systems like that?

You don't. You kill them in Iraq.
posted by WebToy at 5:34 AM on July 29, 2005


Superb article, I was struck with pity, here's why ...

I need to learn Arabic. As an English/Urdu-speaking person, I can see the beauty of Islam from the outside, but I really can't have access without Arabic. It's like having a beautiful house and only being able to see through the windows how beautiful it is inside.

Of course ... none of these guys are Arabic speakers, so the Koran is a closed book to them, as it is to us (ever tried reading it in translation?). They are shut out, of everything.
posted by grahamwell at 5:48 AM on July 29, 2005


And yet interviewer and subject agree that it is "incontestable to the letter":

Butt: ... You've hit the nail on the head. If someone believes that it's the incontestable word of Allah, how can he take a moderate view? We must fight if it is the will of Allah.

Interesting problem. Interesting article.
posted by coelecanth at 5:54 AM on July 29, 2005


Good post.
posted by unreason at 5:59 AM on July 29, 2005


Do you really think that he has a low IQ? He seems to be rather well-spoken to me. Most people that I know would probably not be so eloquent. All kidding aside, he speaks more fluidly than the President of the United States does. His logic is easy to attack, but it has arisen out of some religious beliefs. Members of almost any religion can be cornered into logical inconsistencies, regardless of their intelligence levels.

I don't know how to identify what traits make it likely that a person would want to kill others to glorify his religious beliefs. But I don't think that this interview suggests that one of those traits is a low IQ.
posted by flarbuse at 6:03 AM on July 29, 2005


I found it very sad that the older generation of Pakistanis brought their children to Britain for a better life, away from war and conflict, and their children want to bring war and conflict throughout the globe.

Interesting, too, his statements (prior to the bombings) about British radical Islamists (not) striking in Britain. Makes me wonder about his contention that he's just using the media to tell the truth.
posted by miss tea at 6:05 AM on July 29, 2005


Great insightful article. Thanks biffa. Kudos to the interviewer for getting the gig, but I was really disappointed with the lack of probing follow ups. Taseer didn't force Butt to disclose what evidence he had supporting his belief of Koranic divinity, a la Sagan's "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" and all that. Too much respect is paid to unfounded religious fantasy. (I realize that Taseer probably couldn't have probed too hard for risk of prematurely ending the interview.) Is it too much to question the source of dogma when said source is utilized in sanctioning murder? Frustrating.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:07 AM on July 29, 2005


If they really believe what they claim to believe, then cult exit counselling techniques could be used, perhaps?

But if they're just pretending to believe it, in order to look important, then even that won't work.
posted by cleardawn at 6:08 AM on July 29, 2005


I thought it was kind of interesting that he didn't really just want to keep the Western powers out of the Middle East, he wanted to make Western nations Islamic states. I wonder, if it was possible to take a poll among radicals, whether you'd find that the majority think this way, or if they think that getting the West out of Moslem countries would be enough.
posted by unreason at 6:09 AM on July 29, 2005


unreason, I agree, that's one of the most interesting aspects of his beliefs. It's also fascinating how he uses the rhetoric of Western thought to condemn 'occupation' but doesn't seem to think thay would apply to a worldwide caliphate established through force.
posted by miss tea at 6:17 AM on July 29, 2005


Members of almost any religion can be cornered into logical inconsistencies, regardless of their intelligence levels.

Then he must be a little puppy dog.
The United States has, and will always be on the right side of this particular stuggle and, in the end, the Judeo-Christian philosophy will rule the day, not the harmful post-modernist western guilt and intellectual idealism advocated by the American left.

Jihadists around the world thank you for making this all possible (well, that, and arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan and the rise of Theocratic governance in Iran)!

http://www.ncr-iran.org/content/view/222/69/
posted by WebToy at 6:19 AM on July 29, 2005


Radical islam's long term goal is islam everywhere.

Taseer: Given that the Koran is incontestable to the letter, and that it is unique because there is no another religion in which there is a text so pure, handed down from God to man, can there be a moderate Muslim?

Was the interviewer playing devil's advocate here, or was he in accord with Butt on this issue? I honestly couldn't tell, and don't know the Taseer at all... I'd like to believe that he doesn't believe this.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:21 AM on July 29, 2005


I don't think he was in accord with him, jikel, I think he was just assuming for the sake of argument that Butt was right in order to get his opinion on moderate Islam.
posted by unreason at 6:23 AM on July 29, 2005


Fair comment about the guy's not-so-low IQ, by the way, flarbuse. I need to watch my tendency to use that as a catch-all insult.

It's really his (claimed) beliefs that are self-evidently stupid - not him.

"Bush V Butt : the clash of brains" would make a great celebrity quiz show.
posted by cleardawn at 6:29 AM on July 29, 2005


Fair comment about the guy's not-so-low IQ, by the way, flarbuse. I need to watch my tendency to use that as a catch-all insult.

Read your own comment cleardown:

What strikes me most about Butt's remarks is how similar his ideas are to those of the (low-IQ white-supremacist) British National Party.

You didn't say he had a low IQ, you said his remarks were similar to those made by others that do have a low IQ. As indeed they are. The common denominator is failure - not lack of intelligence.
posted by three blind mice at 6:37 AM on July 29, 2005


WebToy: You are a cute little puppy dog! It's good to know that nineteenth-century patriotism and religio-military Christian zeal are alive and well, even here on corrupt, liberal, pinko MeFi.

Welcome!
posted by cleardawn at 6:38 AM on July 29, 2005


I would have to question his assumptions re - muslim opinion on 9/11 and the London bombings and how they feel about Britain becoming part of an Islamic Caliphate. Anyone who believes this could happen is not a very good student of history and is living in a fantasy land.
posted by longbaugh at 6:42 AM on July 29, 2005


jikel_morten, amen on "Too much respect is paid to unfounded religious fantasy."
posted by jeffburdges at 6:45 AM on July 29, 2005


Please tell me what wars were won with the humanist beliefs i suspect you put your faith in? And, yes, this is WWIII.

Hooray for the "religio-military (Judeo-) Christian zeal"!

Keep thinking about the problem and maybe you will come up with a very good idea on how to put an end to inevitable nuclear terror accts. Nahh, I am just being paranoid!

-Ruff Ruff
posted by WebToy at 6:47 AM on July 29, 2005


Webtoy, cut it out. We're trying to have an intellectual discussion here. If you want a flame war, go to fark.
posted by unreason at 6:49 AM on July 29, 2005


This bit was interesting:

"Taseer: In the past you have demonstrated the failures of British security. Has it improved?

Butt: It's funny you asked me that. I have been reading a book—Jihad by Gilles Keppel—not for the sake of learning anything, but to see whether these people have understood us. In the past, and I'm talking 100, 200 years ago, the reason the British were successful in destroying Islamic government or the Ottoman caliph is that they actually lived among them and they made an effort to understand what they wanted to destroy. Now they're trying to understand something that is a theory. It's in my mind, it's in peoples' minds, but it's not a practical manifestation of the system that we aspire towards, so it's very hard for them to contain it. As a result of that, the security services have lost their ability to analyse how Muslims think—I mean real Muslims, the ones who are not ashamed to talk about their opinions and to express them in public. That is why they will lose this war on terror, because guys like Keppel don’t understand us."



The psychological explanations for British Islamic extremism given by the interviewer were very interesting as well. I had assumed that, like the aforementioned BNP, most of the members of these extremist organizations would be poor, first-generation immigrants. I was surprised to find that this was emphatically not the case.
posted by voltairemodern at 6:51 AM on July 29, 2005


Interesting link WebToy, but I guess it did not occur to your Judeo-Christian mind that that the United States is one of the few countries in the world that stands alongside Iran and still imposes the death penalty.
posted by three blind mice at 6:53 AM on July 29, 2005


tbm: Er. You place me in the difficult position of having to defend my apology for my own inaccuracy. Well, OK, here goes.

The BNP and the Muslim fundamentalists share similar, and similarly stupid, idea systems, as this interview demonstrates.

That was the main point of my original post.

Brixton nail-bomber David Copeland, for those with longer memories, is another demonstration of the similarities between British white-power nutters and al-Qaeda.

However, I was incorrect in linking the stupidity of the ideas to low scores on IQ tests. Copeland had a low IQ, but Mohammed Atta by all accounts had a high IQ.

There are many people who score very highly on IQ tests, but hold stupid opinions. Cult groups, for example, often prefer to recruit high-IQ students, since their intelligence and idealism actually makes them easier to brainwash.

There are many forms of intelligence. High IQ does not protect against stupid beliefs. Wisdom is not at all the same thing as high IQ, and foolishness is not the same as low IQ. And I was incorrect to suggest otherwise in my hasty earlier post.

Hope that makes sense. :-))
posted by cleardawn at 6:54 AM on July 29, 2005


mice, ignore webtoy. He's just trying to derail the thread.
posted by unreason at 6:54 AM on July 29, 2005


Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim is a really great book I'm reading about a British Muslim who wrote about exploring his faith in a humorous and historical fashion.
It was amazing finding out about all the little ins and outs of Islam that I wasn't aware of.
Reading the book one becomes aware that many out there who consider themselves muslim want nothing to do with extremists but just want to live their lives no different than you or I, if a bit more spiritually centered. And a good laugh or two.
posted by mk1gti at 6:57 AM on July 29, 2005


High IQ does not protect against stupid beliefs. Wisdom is not at all the same thing as high IQ, and foolishness is not the same as low IQ. And I was incorrect to suggest otherwise in my hasty earlier post.

Well said cleardawn.

ignore webtoy

Quite right unreason... but these Judeo-Christian WWIII wingnuts are just as irrational as the BNP and Islamic "extremists". They are the third member of the axis of evil that threatens our modern liberal society.
posted by three blind mice at 7:08 AM on July 29, 2005


Reading the book one becomes aware that many out there who consider themselves muslim want nothing to do with extremists but just want to live their lives no different than you or I, if a bit more spiritually centered.

A bit more spiritually centered? RTFLMAO! They should be vehemntly hating extremists for what they are doing to their beloved religion of peace, not wanting to just keep going on with their lives. There is a cancer in their midst, exemplified by the article, and they just want to live their lives in peace? Not very insightful, nor helpful for that matter, if you ask me. But, whatever makes you feel good and justify why this is happening, so be it.
posted by WebToy at 7:09 AM on July 29, 2005


"Please tell me what wars were won with the humanist beliefs i suspect you put your faith in?"

Well, so far, the humanists are doing pretty well in the wars against polio, TB, slavery, leprosy, overt racism, honour killings, illiteracy, and rule by absolute monarchy, for example, in most of the world.

Humanists have yet to convincingly win the wars against "patriotism" and "religion", unfortunately, and as a result, the war against war itself is still very much in the balance.

The peace marches before the war in Iraq began were the biggest anti-war demonstrations in the world ever, so there is some hope that the humanists are beginning to win the war against war. We have some fighting to do yet.

One day, I hope we will win that one too, as well as the war against cancer, the war against pollution, and the war against bigotry in all its forms.

We'd welcome your support, WebToy.
posted by cleardawn at 7:16 AM on July 29, 2005


I am not sure whether this would belong on AskMeFi or elsewhere so forgive the possible derail but whenever considering the war of ideas that is apparently going to be fought between radical Islam and the west I always picture Iain M. Banks Culture novels and the battle with the Idirans.

I picture the west as the Culture in this, hedonistic and more focused on secular leisure being confronted by a religious enemy intent on forced conversion to an alternate way of life. It seems to me that it will likely unfold in the same manner as well, the west will retreat and retreat in the face of this enemy and then will finally reach a point where the balance is changed and will lash out with terrible violence against Islam.

This is something my muslim friends are concerned about as well. They fear fundamentalist Islamic terrorist acts will push the west too far and that this will end in a very, very bad way for all concerned, putting our worst activities in Iraq in the shade. When confronted with an absolute assault against Islam, even my friends and colleagues admit that they are Muslim first and British second.
posted by longbaugh at 7:20 AM on July 29, 2005


If a lot of what the interview subject is saying is commonly thought among radicals, then it may require something of a rethink in how we look at Islamic radicalism. The West has, on both political sides, tended to focus on individual issues. The Right will say "We need to go to the Middle East and kick some ass!" The Left says "We need to stay out of the Middle East so we don't piss people off". It may be that both views stray from the point: That regardless of the West's stance towards the Middle East, radicals will still see the West as something to be conquered for Islam. It begs the question of what we can do to change the situation. Simple violence won't work, but if most radicals are Islamic expansionists, then withdrawal won't work either, although it may lower the terrorists' recruiting pool.
posted by unreason at 7:32 AM on July 29, 2005


We must continue to help establish democratic governments in as many places in the Muslim world as possible, which is exactly what we are trting to do now. Once non-radical Muslims have control of their own governments, they will eradicate the extremists on their own. It's quite simple actually, but will take a long time.
posted by WebToy at 7:36 AM on July 29, 2005


(well, that, and arming the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan and the rise of Theocratic governance in Iran)

You've got to be fucking kidding, right? When I first read that I thought you were trying to pull some kind of Damn Lib'ruls orthogonality stunt, but you seem to be serious. Like, not quite understanding that the United States that has, and will always be on the right side of this particular stuggle were the party that armed the Mujahadeen, and drove Iran into Theocratic governance. You can go read about it, if you know how.

Webtoy, leading consumer surveys confirm that you are a complete fucking idiot. I bet you're a really lovely chap to meet in person, but thanks for trying.
posted by Jimbob at 7:40 AM on July 29, 2005


We must continue to help establish democratic governments in as many places in the Muslim world as possible

Democracy is a DIY project, kiddo.
posted by Jimbob at 7:41 AM on July 29, 2005


Well, so far, the humanists are doing pretty well in the wars against polio, TB, slavery, leprosy, overt racism, honour killings, illiteracy, and rule by absolute monarchy, for example, in most of the world.

Damn cleardawn. In this light, one might say that extending civil liberties to extremeists like the BNP and the Islamic fundamentalists and Judeo-Christian wingnuts is liberal society's own version of the suicide bomb attack.

They fear fundamentalist Islamic terrorist acts will push the west too far and that this will end in a very, very bad way for all concerned, putting our worst activities in Iraq in the shade.

Tell them to get a grip longbaugh. Thirty years of terror bombings by the IRA just ended in the disavowal of violence as a tool of political change and the first real chance for peace in Northern Ireland since 1916. The lashing out formerly known as the war on terror is an anamoly. History is on our side.
posted by three blind mice at 7:42 AM on July 29, 2005


Once non-radical Muslims have control of their own governments, they will eradicate the extremists on their own.

Or they might just deport them.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq....
posted by IndigoJones at 7:46 AM on July 29, 2005


New struggle. Last time it was communism, but hey, thanks for playing. I was speaking in suppoort of the belief that we made a radical mistake when we armed the Majahadeen and when we allowed a theocratic government to rise up in Iran. I am not quite sure i understand your point, dickhead. I am quite clear on the detail regarding who originally gave extremists their head start. Shit, for that matter, we gave the Russians a head start when we defeated germany, too. What is your fucking point!!?

And yes, I am quite lovely.
posted by WebToy at 7:48 AM on July 29, 2005


We must continue to help establish democratic governments in as many places in the Muslim world as possible
Sorry, we don't have time to wait for your democracy pot to boil. Imminent doom on the horizon.
posted by WebToy at 7:50 AM on July 29, 2005


Don't feed the WetBoy troll.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:12 AM on July 29, 2005


WetBoy? Who's wetboy?
posted by WebToy at 8:15 AM on July 29, 2005


Sorry, we don't have time to wait for your democracy pot to boil. Imminent doom on the horizon.

I just don't understand this. So, the way to make the world safer (and more democratic) is to do what we've done in Iraq? Right there is the end of the discussion, because if that's the divergence point in it, everything after is just crap (and name calling, as evidenced above).
posted by e40 at 8:16 AM on July 29, 2005


We must continue to help establish democratic governments in as many places in the Muslim world as possible, which is exactly what we are trting to do now. Once non-radical Muslims have control of their own governments, they will eradicate the extremists on their own. It's quite simple actually, but will take a long time.
posted by WebToy at 10:36 AM EST on July 29 [!]


Where there are extremists, there will be no democracy. Radical islam prohibits it. No law shall come between a man and his god...etc.

Sorry, we don't have time to wait for your democracy pot to boil. Imminent doom on the horizon.
posted by WebToy at 10:50 AM EST on July 29 [!]


Given that we cannot defeat terrorism, I tend to agree with your imminent doom point.
posted by jikel_morten at 8:22 AM on July 29, 2005


Inappropriate reaction time, but did anyone else feel sorry for this guy? He just seemed to be the ultimate outsider, not really welcome anywhere, not even in his own religion.
posted by grahamwell at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2005


Instead of monday-morning quarterbacking, let's talk constructively.

What's your prescription for preventing nuclear terrorism because that is exactly the question we are present with at this very moment? we'll just agree to disagree on the other stuff that we can't do very much about.
posted by WebToy at 8:26 AM on July 29, 2005


WetBoy? Who's wetboy?

It's a joke, son.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:28 AM on July 29, 2005


I don't get it, Dad.
posted by WebToy at 8:30 AM on July 29, 2005


...but did anyone else feel sorry for this guy? He just seemed to be the ultimate outsider, not really welcome anywhere, not even in his own religion.

Absolutely not.
posted by WebToy at 8:32 AM on July 29, 2005


tbm: You need to re-think your understanding of the concept of "human rights" (or "civil rights").

It isn't something you "extend to" criminals, or "extend to" Muslims. To mean anything at all, human and civil rights must be UNIVERSAL. That's the point. If they're only partial, then we have nothing. Partial human rights is like partial pregnancy. It's precisely the most unworthy people - or, those who seem the most unworthy to the people in power - who have the greatest need of the protection of human rights. They are the ones the whole idea was invented for.

The protection of the least worthy is the very basis of humanism - it's the very thing we value and seek to protect - and, interestingly, it's the basis of Christianity as well. "I am the least of these," Jesus said.
posted by cleardawn at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2005


What's your prescription for preventing nuclear terrorism

Well if this guy is the threat you're talking about, give him something positive to work towards. If that's an Islamic revival then fair enough, as long as it's not silly and violent. In the meantime keep him away from *money* and *opportunity* so he can't afford a nuke when one is(nt) offered him.

I read in this piece the failure of the Islamic project, which as I roughly understood it was to come a decent second. Only serious Islamic nutjobs want to destroy the West, most are very happy to keep alive the endless source of new toys, medicine and of course money. The West can be number one, and suffer all of the misery that being on the leading edge involves. Islamic societies can be a comfortable number two, retaining the values of community and faith (which the West has destroyed) and enjoying a comfortable contemplative life in the slipstream.

No-one believes this now. The Islamic world is being overtaken by the far east, now by China and probably soon by India. Number two is not an option. The plan looks like weakness and the future is bleak. Fix the plan, sort out a credible, attractive future for the Ummah, and perhaps the rest will get sorted.
posted by grahamwell at 8:39 AM on July 29, 2005


So cleardown, you are saying that no-one in the world currently enjoys any human rights? Since clearly human rights are not currently universal. That's silly, rights have had to be fought for and accrued little by little over centuries. Each gain moves us a little further forward and leaves us in a position a little further on than we were before.
posted by biffa at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2005


I read in this piece the failure of the Islamic project, which as I roughly understood it was to come a decent second.

Do you have a foot note for this? (Mind you, I've whistfully hoped for years that the US could become a decent second. Cheaper, for one thing.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:59 AM on July 29, 2005


wistfully. Sorry. But really- Islamic project?
posted by IndigoJones at 9:00 AM on July 29, 2005


Biffa, no, that's not what I'm saying. It's a difficult concept, and I'm perhaps not expressing it very well, so I apologise.

The word "right" in this sense means something which cannot be taken away, no matter what we do.

For instance, the right to a fair trial, no matter how hideous the crime. The more hideous the crime is, in fact, the more important it is that the trial is fair, so that the correct perpetrator is caught and punished.

And the right to food, no matter how poor we are. Obviously it means nothing to say that the rich have a right to food: they can buy it anyway. It's only when we speak about the poor that the right becomes important.

I know I'm still not putting this very well. Maybe this is more convincing - this is a beautiful piece of writing, and one of the reasons the US rightwingers hate the UN so much.
posted by cleardawn at 9:13 AM on July 29, 2005


Indigo, for the footnote and much more, read Among the Believers (irritating Amazon link, sorry) . The best, most thoughtful, writing and thinking on this subject that there is. Not much to cheer you up though.
posted by grahamwell at 9:27 AM on July 29, 2005


"this is more convincing - this is a beautiful piece of writing, and one of the reasons the US rightwingers hate the UN so much."

Too bad it's not worth the paper its written on.
posted by TetrisKid at 9:31 AM on July 29, 2005


In other words, it isn't a "human right" unless it applies to all human beings.

If we say "human rights do not apply to extremists" then we've lost it; they are no longer "human" rights, but merely privileges, which are accorded only to people who qualify.

And that means that as soon as ONE "extremist" is denied a basic human right under the law, ALL OF US have lost that human right under the law, and instead we have been granted a conditional privilege, which can be withdrawn at any time. This is a very bad deal.

It annoys me to see people talking about "extending human rights" to various groups. What they mean, of course, is to *deny* human rights to these groups - which nullifies the whole concept of human rights. Effectively, it dehumanizes the group concerned, which is not good.

Ach, I'm really not putting this well. Can someone more eloquent than I please help me out here? :-))
posted by cleardawn at 9:32 AM on July 29, 2005


TetrisKid: It's worth as much as you and I choose.

The document itself sets out the predictable cost of ignoring it: "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind."

Exactly.

Governments have failed, for the most part, to publicize it as its first lines command, and as a result, most people have never seen it, and have no idea when their rights are being violated.

It's interesting to see how many different articles are violated by Guantanamo Bay, for example.
posted by cleardawn at 9:39 AM on July 29, 2005


Again, that "Islam is a religion of peace!" line is bullshit. To quote Butt in the interview:

Butt: If someone wants to go into military action, I would encourage them, because Allah says in Surah Taubah, “From the believers I ask for their wealth and their life and the best among you are the ones who fight and kill and be killed for me.” This is the promise that Allah makes. These people are the ones that gain the supreme success. For me there is nothing bigger if somebody goes out there and kills for the sake of Allah or is killed for the sake of Allah.

In translation of course (actually three of them at once), the Sura (chapter of the Koran) Butt is referring to, transliterated "Al-Tawba", can be found here. Note that the context of this Sura concerns Allah's instruction to Muhammad to honor the letter of his treaty with his non-Muslim allies for the remaining four months, but after that Muhammad is to break faith with them, to betray those allies who have lived up to every part of their agreement, by leading his Muslim army against them and killing them by any means possible -- sparing only those who convert to Islam.

To quote:

009.001
YUSUFALI: A (declaration) of immunity from Allah and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances:-

PICKTHAL: Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty.

SHAKIR: (This is a declaration of) immunity by Allah and His Messenger towards those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement.

009.002
YUSUFALI: Go ye, then, for four months, backwards and forwards, (as ye will), throughout the land, but know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah (by your falsehood) but that Allah will cover with shame those who reject Him.

PICKTHAL: Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His Guidance).

SHAKIR: So go about in the land for four months and know that you cannot weaken Allah and that Allah will bring disgrace to the unbelievers.

009.003
YUSUFALI: And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith.

PICKTHAL: And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters, and (so is) His messenger. So, if ye repent, it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve,

SHAKIR: And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve.

009.004
YUSUFALI: (But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for Allah loveth the righteous.

PICKTHAL: Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).

SHAKIR: Except those of the idolaters with whom you made an agreement, then they have not failed you in anything and have not backed up any one against you, so fulfill their agreement to the end of their term; surely Allah loves those who are careful (of their duty).

009.005
YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

PICKTHAL: Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

SHAKIR: So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

(The Sura then continues on for 124 more bloodthirsty verses.)

What a religion of peace that is: it's not only good to slaughter your enemies, it's perfectly okay to murder your friends. In fact this is commanded to Muhammad in the Koran, and therefore recommended to Muslims forevermore, by the "Forgiving, Merciful" Allah Himself.

So these very same "Muslim leaders" who run around hollering "Islam is a religion of peace!" could suddenly turn on you and cut your throat tomorrow; all it takes is pointing to this Sura and saying "The unbelievers' time is up." It would be fine and dandy for Iraqi troops to turn on "coalition forces", even to shoot them in the back -- as the Koran says, to "fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)"; it's also fine and dandy for those offspring of Muslims who have immigrated to your country -- who have entered into an alliance with you -- to decide that, even though they were raised among you and speak your language better than they speak their parents', it's time to start blowing you up in the subway.

Note that it's perfectly true that most Muslims, even "fundamentalist" Muslims, like most people anywhere most of the time, do behave peacefully without lifting a finger against you, just like most "fundamentalist" Christians don't run around killing "fags" even though the Biblical Book of Leviticus orders them to; however as with "Judeo-Christianity ", the claim that Islam is "a religion of peace" is belied in its own holy scripture. It says all through the Koran in several places that the goal of Islam is to conquer the world, kill any infidels who resist, enslave their women, and favor only those conquered people who convert to Islam and help the Muslims oppress their own families, and so far it's been that natural human inclination to laziness that's been holding them back; that is, it's not so much that "Islam is a religion of peace!" as that it's just so much easier not to lift a finger against you -- usually, so far.

And the "Islamic experts'" defense against this charge is to claim that their Holy Koran really doesn't mean what it says, and that if we don't take their word for that then we're evil Islamophobes. How they reconcile what they tell us -- that the Koran does not mean what it says, that it's essentially a work of fiction -- with their claim that the Koran is the truest scripture ever is beyond me; either it's a lie that the Koran is true, or it's a lie that it means something besides what it says. (Or maybe both.) And in any case it's perfectly okay for Muslims to lie to infidels when it benefits Islam.

But I don't propose civil disabilities against Muslims, even "fundamentalists", as I don't propose a police state against America's Christians; rather we should tell the world about the evil of this religion, to speak against Islam as we do against Christianity. It's up to atheists to save our species from religion. "Secularists" have an obligation, as well as a human right, to freely say what we think.

Incidentally, I just found another site with several translations of the Koran, called YAQUB ("Yet Another QUran Browser"). It's actually a database search, one Mefites should have no trouble using.

As to the claim I read on Mefi recently, that a person needs "Divine Guidance" to understand the Koran, that's clearly circular reasoning -- and clearly bunk. Anyone who can read Metafilter can read the Koran, without the help of any "God" -- or any "Islamic experts". We surely can read for ourselves that Islam is a religion of treachery and murder.
posted by davy at 10:07 AM on July 29, 2005


WebToy = christian fundamentalist = 'murican taliban = complete and utter clueless (insert derogatory remark here). Nuff said.
posted by mk1gti at 10:17 AM on July 29, 2005


Great post and good interview. On thing I found interesting; my boyfriend is from Bangladesh and has family in the UK, and when I asked him why Bangladeshi people there don't seem to get involved in extremism he just laughed and said it's not in them. Now this character, Butt, is saying that it's precisely because they are more deprived than Pakistani immigrants they are not involved.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:18 AM on July 29, 2005


Webtoy, muslim fundamentalists are not the majority in Islam, just as christian fundamentalists are not the majority in christianity.
Learn to differentiate. I'm sure all religions would like to take their various extremists and drown them in a creek right about now.
posted by mk1gti at 10:19 AM on July 29, 2005


the claim that Islam is "a religion of peace" is belied in its own holy scripture

And yet proved through the lives of 99.9% of its members.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:20 AM on July 29, 2005


"Webtoy, muslim fundamentalists are not the majority in Islam, just as christian fundamentalists are not the majority in christianity."

Right: happily, most Judeo-Christians don't really practice their tyrannical and bloodthirsty religion(s) either.

(jamesonandwater, this should answer you too.)
posted by davy at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2005


WebToy: You will, sooner or later, be forced to come to terms with the fact that your own heroes are cut from the same cloth as the Stalinists and Islamic fundamentalists. All three groups have the most grandiose of schemes that they wish(ed) to impose on the rest of the world through violence.

There is nothing Christian in these people. Read into the background of the Straussians, of PNAC, of the Heritage Foundation. There is a direct lineage of thought that goes straight back to a group called the Positivists, whose ideas were appropriated by the Nazis and their (at that time) modern schemes for societal reform, the modern Republican so-called capitalists (who are not capitalists at all) and Sayyid Qutb.

They do not believe in our God. They are not on our side.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:38 AM on July 29, 2005


Maybe if we gave them a slice of delicious capitalism, they would stop all this nonsense and start embracing the joys of materialism and then fall into line with western culture. So they want to convert us? Well, let's convert them right back, keep on showing them our way of life and how much better it is than theirs. Sure, they will take some of our culture's ground, but we will take more of theirs. That is how we win!
posted by illuminatus at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2005


I'm certainly happy that most people don't take their religious book of choice literally, davy, you'll get no argument on that from me. I'm a "cultural Catholic", tied to the religion only by my nationality, education, family holidays and the location most of my friends get hitched but I'm still here. It's the same with my boyfriend and Islam. Now I'm no theologian and I'm not as smart as many posting here, but do you just say he's not a Muslim? That his brand of Islam doesn't exist at all? Because it does.

So they want to convert us? Well, let's convert them right back, keep on showing them our way of life and how much better it is than theirs

Are you being sarcastic? Because I think Hassan Butt had a good look at the UK's culture, being British and all.
posted by jamesonandwater at 10:54 AM on July 29, 2005


the author of Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim is a Pakistani/british immigrant muslim.
Very thought provoking inside look at the world of Islam as he travels around the Islamic world exposing the good and bad points.
posted by mk1gti at 11:18 AM on July 29, 2005


Am I pimping this book enough? I can pimp some more . . . You can by it in the U.S. too. I'll lend you my copy. . . I'll come to your house and read it to you. . .
posted by mk1gti at 11:20 AM on July 29, 2005


On the other hand, sometimes I think we should encourage the Christian fundamentalist hotheads and their Muslim counterparts to meet on a battlefield and kill each other off. The Plains of Megiddo are being used for something else, but most of Saudi Arabia is uninhabited desert.

And has anyone pointed out here recently that because Iraqi oil is hard to get the Saudis can charge more for their oil? This whole war in Iraq, all sides of it, financially benefits the Saudi ruling clique, and they don't have to do any dying over it.
posted by davy at 11:21 AM on July 29, 2005


illuminatus, I LOVE that idea. More McDonald's for everyone!
posted by Moral Animal at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2005


I say they fight it out hand to hand, fist to fist, knife to knife, no modern military weapons allowed. Let them fight eye to eye. We'll see who the 'real men' are. . . Somehow I don't think it will be chubby rednecks
posted by mk1gti at 11:27 AM on July 29, 2005


Maybe if we gave them a slice of delicious capitalism, they would stop all this nonsense

I'm totally behind that idea, that's why this crap goes on in the first place, We Need To Share The Toys! Give'em the Big Mac, The Levis, The Iggy Pop, The brand new Chevy Yukon SUV!
'Omar, let's go start a revolution!'
'Go stuff yourself, I'm playing XBOX and munchin' on a pizza.'
posted by mk1gti at 11:37 AM on July 29, 2005


These guys take everything so damn seriously. We should lock'em in a room with a nintendo 64, multiplayer 007 goldeneye and some special brownines and they'd see the light.
posted by jikel_morten at 11:42 AM on July 29, 2005


These guys take everything so damn seriously. We should lock'em in a room with a nintendo 64, multiplayer 007 goldeneye and some special brownines and they'd see the light.

We should give them funnel cake. No one can be angry while they're eating funnel cake. It's the Amish gift of peace to all mankind!
posted by unreason at 12:13 PM on July 29, 2005


We must continue to help establish democratic governments in as many places in the Muslim world as possible, which is exactly what we are trting to do now.

Offer not valid in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or Pakistan.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:16 PM on July 29, 2005


BTW - one of my favorite parts of the interview:

Taseer: Tell me a bit about your daily life. Do you read books and see movies?

Butt: No, no, no. (He laughs)



Me? Read books? That's silly. hahahaha....
posted by Moral Animal at 12:19 PM on July 29, 2005


Maybe if we gave them a slice of delicious capitalism, they would stop all this nonsense and start embracing the joys of materialism and then fall into line with western culture.

illuminatus, I LOVE that idea. More McDonald's for everyone!

I'm totally behind that idea, that's why this crap goes on in the first place, We Need To Share The Toys! Give'em the Big Mac, The Levis, The Iggy Pop, The brand new Chevy Yukon SUV!

You idiots obviously did not read the article, or even the headline. This article is about British-born, wealthy young people who have nothing but contempt for the Western capitalist society that made their easy lives of leisure and education possible.

Gee, if only those A-rabs had money, they wouldn't cause any trouble… Genius.
posted by designbot at 12:39 PM on July 29, 2005



Taseer: What’s the position of the radical Islamic movement in Britain today? Is it growing or declining?

Butt: I do believe that support is growing. In the public eye it seems as though only a tiny number of Muslims are making this noise, but the fact is that only a tiny number have the courage to speak out. The rest won't, simply because they're worried about being persecuted by the government.
posted by davy at 12:44 PM on July 29, 2005


You idiots obviously did not read the article, or even the headline.

I did RTFA. My comment was a joke. As in "ha ha". You have about as much humor as Butt does.
posted by Moral Animal at 12:59 PM on July 29, 2005


From the same Prospect issue:

"Muhammad's Example".

The key figure in the struggle between Muslim reformers and fundamentalists is Muhammad. Ordinary Muslims must be allowed to think clearly about the Prophet's moral example.
posted by davy at 1:06 PM on July 29, 2005


Mohammad, who owns a convenience store on Stratford Street in Beeston and who knew all the local bombers, says, "They were born and raised here, we did the work… and these kids grew up and they haven't had a day's worry. They're bored, they don't do any work, they have no sense of honour or belonging."

Aside from the color of their skin, how are these kids any different than the murderers at Columbine? Err, make that, aside from the color of their skin and their humongous impact on international and domestic politics.
posted by Skwirl at 1:32 PM on July 29, 2005


Skwirl writes "Aside from the color of their skin, how are these kids any different than the murderers at Columbine?"

Ideology, I think. The ideology that influenced them has a global reach. Otherwise, the similarities are striking.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:41 PM on July 29, 2005


The momentum right now seems to be towards driving a wedge between communities and beliefs. Extremist Islam is outside my current realm of understanding, but I can understand depression and isolation. The best way to deal with psychopaths is to prevent them from becoming psychopathic in the first place. Gang violence is attacked by building up neighborhoods and establishing connections with at-risk individuals before they reach the point of no return (i.e. at-risk youth programs).
posted by Skwirl at 2:07 PM on July 29, 2005


Moral Animal: I did RTFA. My comment was a joke. As in "ha ha".

Sorry about that. Three posts: "Let's convert them right back," "I'm totally behind that idea," & "I LOVE that idea." Two serious, one farcical.

It's hard to tell the sarcasm from the idiocy around here. Somebody should do something about it. Anyway, I apologize. Your comment was hilarious¡
posted by designbot at 2:16 PM on July 29, 2005


Indigo, for the footnote and much more, read Among the Believers (irritating Amazon link, sorry) . The best, most thoughtful, writing and thinking on this subject that there is. Not much to cheer you up though.

Ah, Naipaul! Coincidentally, the subject of an earlier question I posted on much the same subject, though specifically in India. Thank you for the (coincidental) follow-up.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:38 PM on July 29, 2005


As chilling (and enraging) as the interview is, I found the other article in the issue to be more enlightening; the author gives a nice overview of the landscape of British Islam and the relations of the current fundamentalist groups operating in the country. He suggests that for a lot of the children of immigrants becoming extremely religious is an airtight form of rebelling against overbearing parental authority -- which makes sense. Being very devout is a good way to gain a bit of autonomy while still maintaining a cultural identity.
posted by jrochest at 4:16 PM on July 29, 2005


Gee, if only those A-rabs had money, they wouldn't cause any trouble… Genius.
----------------------------------------
but, but, but, we're talkin' about offering them *XBOX*!!!
XXXXXXBBBBBOOOOXXXXXX. . . . .
posted by mk1gti at 7:05 PM on July 29, 2005


Ah, I didn't realise you were in the midst of a Naipaul debate Indigo. I'm not exactly a fan, there's something intimidating about a mind of such power, a mind which is capable of flowing so effortlessly onto paper. So much persuasion provokes, in me, resistance.

Nevertheless, "Among the Believers" is dark and Prophetic. It demands, but richly repays, effort - particularly the chapter on Iran - that's where his terrible verdict on the modern Islamic world has its focus. You'll find it directly illuminates the news of the last two weeks.

I appreciate that my comment on the "Islamic Project" might sound a bit silly, since of course there's no one to have such a project, but in my defence the view is based on experience living in Saudi Arabia and coming to know Muslims, particularly some immensely able Palestinans. My point is that a very nasty sense of economic and politicial failure provides the motor for these unpleasant Cults which have appropriated the name of Islam.
posted by grahamwell at 12:04 PM on July 30, 2005


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