Once again the barbarians have attacked the West. This time a gunman named Omar Mateen walked into a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida and killed fifty people. Jo Comerford at Moveon.org places the blame for this atrocity squarely on where it belongs, on the gun Mateen used.
At least 50 people were killed last night in a horrific mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, FL. At least another 53 were injured.1 As the news continues to peel back the layers on this terrible, tragic shooting and we grieve and mourn with Orlando, we must act now for common sense gun laws and to ban assault rifles. We must stop these mass shootings from tearing apart our communities.Click here to sign the petition, which says:
Military-grade assault weapons should not be used by civilians and have no place in our cities and towns.
—Jo, Anna, Justin K., Ben O., and the rest of the team
I can make a list of places too: Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris, London, Copenhagen, New York. What do all of these places have in common? They were each the site of a horrific attack by Islamic barbarians intent on overthrowing the West and its ideals of freedom and tolerance. We are at war with savages and the solution that the Moveon.org has is to disarm our population and make us all helpless for the next attack.
This is the only solution people on the left offer after every attack. Appease the Muslims. Don’t make them angry. Don’t publish drawings of Mohammed. Don’t criticize or make fun of Islam. Treat the Koran with respect. Women, cover yourselves lest you arouse a Muslim man and cause him to rape you. Christians, pray in private lest you offend the sensitive ears of Muslims. Don’t suggest that immigration from Muslim countries be curtailed or that perhaps Mosques with ties to radicals should be watched. That is islamophobia. Respect Islamic customs and traditions and don’t expect that respect to be returned. Give in when they demand that Sharia law be imposed. Above all else, do not ever suggest that Islam is not a Religion of Peace or they will attack. Remember it is better to die than to live and be considered an islamophobe.
I expect that in the wake of the Orlando Massacre, the gays will be asked to go back into the closet. Its all very well to stand up to Christians who do not approve of gay marriage. The Christians are not going to start bombing and shooting. Standing up to Muslims who want to kill gays might take real courage. They might target us instead. Better to blame the guns.
At a prayer breakfast recently, President Obama admonished his audience that any religion, including our own, can be twisted into promoting the most atrocious behavior. As an example, the President cited the Crusades and the Inquisition.
I don’t think that there can be much doubt among those who have actually studied history that holy war has been much more typical of Islam than Christianity. The Crusades were a response to centuries of Islamic aggression against Christendom and the idea of a holy warrior was always somewhat controversial among Christians. In Islam, on the other hand, jihad is an integral part of the faith. Inquisitions seem to have been more of a Christian problem. One never hears of any Muslim Inquisition in history. Yet there was an organized Inquisition at least once in Islamic history.
In general Christianity lends itself more to the formation of something like an Inquisition and the punishment of heretics than Islam. In part this is because in Christianity salvation is not obtained by correct behavior as in Islam, but holding correct doctrine. What a Christian believes about God can have eternal consequences. This is not as unreasonable as it might seem to the modern mind. A doctor with incorrect information about the practice of medicine might kill his patient. A lawyer mistaken about the law cannot serve his client. In like manner, to the Medieval Christian, a priest or preacher who taught incorrect theology placed the souls of his flock in danger. We do not punish heretics, but we do prosecute people who make fraudulent claims and we can punish professionals for malpractice. The Medieval Inquisition, then, pursued cases of theological malpractice. I do not want to defend the Inquisition here, but I do think it is important to try to understand why such an institution was thought to be necessary during the Middle Ages.
The Muslims never absorbed the Greek passion for hair splitting philosophical discussion to the extent that the Christians did, so there is no equivalent in Islamic history to the furious debates over to what extent Christ was God or man or the precise relationship of the persons of the Trinity to one another. Islamic theology is relatively simple and straight forward compared to Christian theology, so there is less scope for heresy in Islam. Most disputes between Muslims have involved differences in legal jurisprudence or the correct succession to the Caliphate rather than fine points of doctrine. This is not to say that Islamic authorities were more tolerant of heresy. Denying a fundamental doctrine of Islam such as the existence of God or proclaiming oneself to be a new prophet with revelations that supersede those of Mohammed was always a good way to lose your head.
Another reason why there haven’t been Inquistitions in Islam is that unlike Christendom, church and state have never been separate entities. There has been no organized institutional church with a hierarchy of clergy as a separate source of political power and moral authority,to a greater or lesser extent opposed to the state in the Islamic world. The Caliph was always a religious leader as well as a political leader and laws were made by religious scholars based on Koranic principles. Among the functions of the state were the promotion of virtuous behavior and the propagation of the faith. Heresy could be punished by the state and there was no need for a separate ecclesiastical institution for that purpose. Nevertheless, as I said there has been at least one Inquisition in Islamic history, though it was sponsored by the Caliph and its purpose was as much the suppression of his political opponents as the eradication of heresy. This Islamic Inquisition was called the Mihna and only lasted from AD 833 until 848.
This Mihna, the word means trial or testing in Arabic, was instituted by the Caliph al-Ma’mun for the purpose of imposing the beliefs of the Mutazilite school of philosophy on his government officials and judges. The Mutazilites or Rationalists were those philosophers and scholars who had studied Greek philosophy and sought to reconcile the teachings of such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle to the precepts of Islam. In particular, they adopted Greek ideas that the world is a rational place ruled by natural, logical laws that could be discovered through the use of reason. They even went so far as to teach that the nature God could be discovered by reason, supplemented by His revelations. To more orthodox or conservative Muslim thinkers, already suspicious of pagan learning, the idea that God could be known at all seemed close to blasphemy. A world ruled by natural laws seemed to infringe on the divine sovereignty of God.
The particular issue on which the Mutazilites and their opponents contended was whether the Koran was created by God or is the untreated, eternal Word of God. This may seem to be a trivial cause for argument, but the controversy helped to determine the course of Islamic theology and philosophy. If the Koran was created by God, than it does not necessarily possess the entirety of God’s perfection. Not every word of the Koran need be the literal Word of God. Some verses could be allegorical or influenced by some historical or cultural context. If the Mutazilites had prevailed, it is possible that the Islamic view of the Koran would be closer to the view held by many Christians on the Bible, inspired by God but with not every verse interpreted literally. On the other hand, if the Koran is uncreated and eternal, then, in a sense , it partakes of the essence of God. There can be no historical or cultural context. Verses which seem to relate to Mohammed’s life existed before Mohammed was born or the world created. Divine laws promulgated in the Koran are for all times and places.
The Mutazilite school was a movement of the intellectual elite rather than a popular movement and much of its influence came from the support of the Caliphs, especially al-Ma’mum who reigned from AD 813-833. In the year 827, al-Ma’mun using his authority as Caliph, proclaimed that the Koran was created. In 833, al-Ma’mun instituted the Mihna to compel acceptance of his proclamation. The Mihna continued after al-Ma’mun’s death the same year, through the reigns of his successors al-Mu’tasim and al-Wathiq. The Caliph al-Mutawakkil ended the Mihna two years into his reign in the year 848. The Mihna, then, was not a permanent institution as the various European Inquisitions were, nor was its effects as immediately far reaching. The Mihna was primarily directed at government officials and Islamic scholars in the Caliph’s capital of Baghdad. Muslims out in the provinces and among the common people were not affected by this inquisition. The Mihna was still unpopular, however, since the men targeted by it were widely respected religious scholars and jurists, including Ahmad ibn-Hanbal, one of the most famous Islamic theologians and founder of the Hanbali school of jurisprudence. Like many such persecutions, the Mihna was a failure. The men targeted became martyrs and heroes of the faith. The Caliphs responsible were reviled as tyrants.
In the longer run, the effects of the Mihna were devastating for the Mutazilites and perhaps for the Islamic world as a whole. The Mutazilites were seen, somewhat unfairly, as the sponsors of the Mihna and their faction and its teachings were increasingly discredited afterwards. By the year 1000, the Mutazilites were universally viewed as heretics, a judgment that has continued to this day. More unfortunately, Greek philosophy,with its emphasis on the use of reason was also discredited, which may have been a leading cause in the decline of science in the Islamic world after around 1000. In order to do science, the thinker must believe that the world is a rational place, governed by rational laws that can be discovered by the human mind. If one believes that the world is governed by the arbitrary dictates of a deity beyond human understand, then it may be possible to make chance empirical discoveries, but there is less motivation to try to fit such discoveries into consistent, logical world view.
It is strange that the Islamic Inquisition ended up doing more damage to Islamic progress than the longer lasting and more extensive Christian Inquisitions did to progress in Europe. The history of the Islamic world seems to be full of these sorts of wrong turns and I have to wonder whether there is something in Islam, perhaps less tolerant of free thought than Christianity ever has been, even at its worst. Or, perhaps the backlash against the intolerance of the Islamic Inquisition ended up being greater intolerance, while the backlash against the Christian Inquisitions was to ultimately discredit the idea of religious coercion. Such questions, perhaps, are unanswerable.
That is what a recent fatwa from a cleric from Saudi Arabia states. I read about it in this story from Yahoo News.
A prominent Saudi Arabian cleric has whipped up controversy by issuing a religious ruling forbidding the building of snowmen, described them as anti-Islamic.
Asked on a religious website if it was permissible for fathers to build snowmen for their children after a snowstorm in the country’s north, Sheikh Mohammed Saleh al-Munajjid replied: “It is not permitted to make a statue out of snow, even by way of play and fun.”
Quoting from Muslim scholars, Sheikh Munajjid argued that to build a snowman was to create an image of a human being, an action considered sinful under the kingdom’s strict interpretation of Sunni Islam.
“God has given people space to make whatever they want which does not have a soul, including trees, ships, fruits, buildings and so on,” he wrote in his ruling.
That provoked swift responses from Twitter users writing in Arabic and identifying themselves with Arab names.
“They are afraid for their faith of everything … sick minds,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another posted a photo of a man in formal Arab garb holding the arm of a “snow bride” wearing a bra and lipstick. “The reason for the ban is fear of sedition,” he wrote.
A third said the country was plagued by two types of people:
“A people looking for a fatwa (religious ruling) for everything in their lives, and a cleric who wants to interfere in everything in the lives of others through a fatwa,” the user wrote.
Sheikh Munajjid had some supporters, however. “It (building snowmen) is imitating the infidels, it promotes lustiness and eroticism,” one wrote.
“May God preserve the scholars, for they enjoy sharp vision and recognize matters that even Satan does not think about.”
Snow has covered upland areas of Tabuk province near Saudi Arabia’s border with Jordan for the third consecutive year as cold weather swept across the Middle East.
I wouldn’t have thought this would be a problem in Saudi Arabia, but evidently it does snow there. In any case, this ruling is not as crazy as it might appear. Islam is a religion which strongly forbids even the suggestion of idol worship and for this reason Islamic law and culture has discouraged the visual representation of any human or animal which might be taken as an object of worship. This is why the arts in Islamic cultures have never produced any equivalent to the works of renaissance artists like MichelAngelo with their precise, almost photographic portraits and detailed studies of human anatomy and perspective. Persons with an artistic bent in Islamic countries have generally concentrated on beautiful calligraphy, generally of Koranic verses and abstract geometric designs. According to the strictest interpretations of Islamic law, as is found in Saudi Arabia, any representation of the human form for any reason is forbidden. Forbidding the creation of snowmen is simply taking the iconoclasm of Islam to a logical extreme.
This does say something about the nature of Islam. Islam does not seem to be a very joyful religion and its adherents certainly do not seem to have much of a sense of humor. The Ayatollah Khomeiniis reported to have said,
Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. …”
Mohammed didn’t care for music, believing it to inspire sin, so Islamic cultures have tended to discourage music. There is no Bach or Mozart in Islam. There seems to be no joy in Islam.
It also says something, that every detail of life, no matter how trivial, seems to be subject to endless rules concerning what is allowed and what is forbidden. Can you imagine a person of any other religion even wondering if building a snowman is acceptable? There doesn’t seem to be much emphasis on thinking or reasoning for yourself in Islam. Every decision seems to be based on what Mohammed would do or what the religious authorities centuries ago wrote.
In contrast, Christians are told to:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:4-7)
We are set free from rules and are made sons of God.
23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith,27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.2 The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.3 So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world.4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:23-4:7)
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.(Romans 7:4-6)
This does not mean that we are free to commit sins, of course, but if we do commit sins we follow a God more interested in forgiving and saving us than one eager to condemn us. It may be said that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, and to a certain extent it is true, but we have very different ideas about who God is and what He wants from us. Our God wants us to be His sons and sent His own son to die for us. Their God wants us to be slaves of a harsh master. I think I prefer Jesus over Allah. At least Jesus doesn’t have any issues with snowmen.
Liberated is the name of a blog I learned about from Jihad Watch. The author is a woman who is a former Moslem. She lives in an unnamed predominantly Moslem country and has studied her religion and has decided that she could no longer believe in Islam. Since apostasy carries the death penalty in Islam, she cannot tell anyone about her decision. Perhaps I should let her speak for herself.
I was born in a very typical Sunni Muslim household, not very conservative like the Arabs, but nevertheless religious enough. I was born in Karachi, Pakistan to a very respectable Mohajjir family (mohajjirs are immigrants from India from the time of the partition in 1947). I moved to another Muslim country with my parents when I was just 10 years old and still live there.
I really wish there were a way I could freely live in a free society where I could follow the religion that I want without any compulsion. So far, I am not really sure what I am. I just know that I am not an atheist, because I do believe in a God, but that God cannot be the Allah of Mohammed. God is kind and merciful, not evil, cruel, mean and sadistic, as is Allah.
Go read more of what she has to say and give her moral support.
The reason I am bringing this up is because of a comment she made a little later in that post.
Have you ever read the Quran in English? I never did, I mean all my life I just recited the Quran in Arabic without understanding a single word until August of this year, when I purchased a copy of the English Quran and read the translation for the first time. Previously I had read some parts of it in English, but never the whole thing. But this year in August I read it from cover to cover, and then also read other references on the internet. Then I finally reached the conclusion that this book is the most evil thing on the face of this earth. It teaches nothing else except hatred and violence. I can no longer be a part of a cult which subjugates its followers, making them mere blind puppets with no mind of their own.
There is an interesting contrast between Christianity and Islam on the question of translating their scriptures. While Christians have endeavored to translate the Bible into every language on Earth (and off, some Trekkies with way too much time on their hands have been translating the Bible into Klingon), Moslems have generally resisted translating the Koran into any language other than Arabic. The main reason for this is that Moslems consider the Koran to be the literal word of God in Arabic. A translation into English wouldn’t be The Koran. At best, such a translation could only be a rough approximation or interpretation of the Koran.
Only about twenty percent of Moslems are native speakers of Arabic. This means that although many Moslems have memorized large portions of the Koran and all Moslems use Koranic verses in their prayers, many have only the vaguest idea of what they are saying. I have to wonder how much of the Koran even native Arabic speakers understand. the Koran was written in the seventh century and languages change over time. The plays of Shakespeare and the King James Bible were written only about four hundred years ago and already they sound old fashioned. Thirteen hundred years ago, English was a dialect of Old German spoken by the Anglo-Saxon invaders of Britain. I suspect that Arabic has changed more slowly over the centuries, since they have the Koran as a standard, but it has still been a long time.
I have read the Koran a number of times, in English translation, and I have even listened to recordings of the Koran being recited. When they recite the Koran, they do not just read it aloud, instead they chant the words, almost singing them. The result is compelling and more than a little hypnotic. I can understand why the Arabs of Mohammed’s time, with their love of oral poetry might have been attracted to the recitation of the Koran. When translated into English, however, I get quite a different impression. The contents of the Koran, when not vicious, are banal, repetitive, and incoherent. There is endless boasting by Allah on how great He is. There are curses and maledictions against the unbelievers and anyone who happens to have opposed Mohammed. There are stories from the Bible, or at any rate with Biblical figures, repeated with a maddening lack of any context. If the reader is not already familiar with the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, they would never know from the Koran who any of these people are. There are no distinguishing features for any of the prophets mentioned. They all have the same message, which happens to be the same as Mohammed. All of this material is given in no logical order. And, then there are the calls for violence against the infidel.
I am not inclined to believe in a supernatural origin for the Koran. It seems to me more likely that a very fallible human being wrote it. If I were so inclined, however, I would sooner believe that a devil was responsible for this book than the almighty Creator of the universe.
I have been remiss in not noting the start of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and devout Muslims fast during the daylight hours throughout the month. This means that they may not eat, drink, smoke, or have intercourse while it is light outside. Traditionally, it is light when one can distinguish between a light thread and a dark thread. Ramadan started August 1 in our Gregorian calendar and will end on August 29 this year.
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. Unlike the solar Gregorian calendar, The Islamic calendar is based on the phases of the Moon. There are twelve months of 29 or 30 days with extra days added in a thirty year cycle to keep the calendar in phase with the Moon. The problem is that twelve Moons add up to 354 days, eleven days shorter than the solar year. Most cultures with lunar calendars add a leap or intercalary month every few years, the exact cycle depending on the calendar. Moslems, however do not add an intercalary month. There is even a verse in the Koran that forbids adding an extra month.
The number of months in the sight of Allah is twelve (in a year)- so ordained by Him the day He created the heavens and the earth; of them four are sacred: that is the straight usage. So wrong not yourselves therein, and fight the Pagans all together as they fight you all together. But know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves
Verily the transposing (of a prohibited month) is an addition to Unbelief: the Unbelievers are led to wrong thereby: for they make it lawful one year, and forbidden another year, in order to adjust the number of months forbidden by Allah and make such forbidden ones lawful. The evil of their course seems pleasing to them. But Allah guideth not those who reject Faith. Koran 9:36-37
For this reason the Islamic calendar is not synchronized with the seasons. The year cycles through the season every 33 years. It is as if Christmas were in winter one year, autumn six years later, summer even later, and so on. Because the Islamic calendar is not synchronized with the seasons it cannot be used for agricultural purposes. A farmer couldn’t plant, harvest, etc on the same date or month as the previous year because they would not correspond to the proper seasons. Nowadays, outside of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic calendar is used only religious purposes. For other purposes, the Gregorian calendar is used.
The calendar seems impractical compared to the Gregorian calendar but it does have one advantage, in that the fast of Ramadan cycles through the seasons so that for at least part of the 33 year cycle, the fast is held in the cooler, winter season with shorter days. But, then, for part of the cycle, including this year, the fast is in the summer with the longest days of the year.