Friday, November 28, 2008
I was going to wait until the tragedy in Mumbai (formerly Bombai) India was over before writing my thoughts down, but I couldn't wait. As I write this, it is said that over 150 people are dead. The courageous Indian commandos are still fighting their way through the Taj Hotel clearing out the remaining terrorist murderers and still rescuing hostages. The exact group that is responsible for this mass atrocity is still unclear, but one thing is clear; they are Muslims. Their targets were Westerners, British, Americans, and yes, Jews. One of the locations raided was Chabat House, a Jewish center. According to news reports, hostages, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivki, were murdered in cold blood as commandos closed in. (Their 2-year-old son miraculously escaped.) I am outraged, and I am fed up with the excuses. It is long overdue, but we need to call a spade a spade and demand that the Muslim world rise up and remove this evil from its house.
By any means necessary.
Mumbai is now India's 9-11. We have suffered ours. We reacted, and at least, we can now say that two murderous regimes have been driven from power. Spain had their own 9-11. They reacted and elected a cowardly government that promptly pulled their forces out of Iraq. Britain had theirs and now prostrates itself at the feet of a hateful Muslim minority that spits in the face of British society as they demand Shariah law.
This latest incident is pretty much the final blow for me personally in trying to appeal to decent Muslims to take a stand. It is not easy. I know decent Muslims. I teach Muslim students, mostly from Saudi Arabia, who seem quite nice. I listen to the words of American Muslim leaders who speak of moderation and say they condemn terrorism. I have heard President Bush describe Islam as a religion of peace as he meets Muslim leaders. One of those leaders, whom he has invited to the White House, is Imam Muzammil Siddiqi, former head of the Islamic Society of North America and now head of the Islamic Society of Orange County-himself an Indian.
Last week, I attended a joint Jewish-Muslim discussion at Chapman University, where Dr Siddiqi spoke for Islam. (See post of last week). Dr Siddiqi is considered a "moderate Muslim", who decries terror. Yet, he has made statements in the past regarding Jihad and Shariah that many Westerners might find troubling. In the 1990s, he hosted the "Blind Sheihk" Rahman at his mosque. Let's just say I wasn't convinced at Siddiqi's words last week.
I have just checked the websites of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and the Islamic Society of Orange County. Only the Islamic Society of North America has a statement on Mumbai, condemning the attacks and offering prayers for the victims. That is all well and good, but nowhere-nowhere is there any mention of the fact that the perpetrators were Muslims. There is also no mention of the attack on Chabat House. This is insufficient. As for CAIR and the Islamic Society of Orange County, there is nothing on their websites about Mumbai (as of this writing). What will they eventually say? What will the Muslim Student Associations at our US universities say about Mumbai when they have their next "Islam Awareness Week"? Will they continue to claim that they are not anti-Jewish, only anti-"Zionist"? That is the constant disclaimer they use, yet the raid on Chabat House puts the lie to that. It is clear that the killers wanted to include Jews (in India) among their targets. Why?
Because they hate Jews.
So what is it that Muslims in America must say and do, you ask? What is needed is for them to stand up and publicly condemn the MUSLIMS who are carrying out these atrocities in India and around the world in the name of Islam. Muslim leaders need to tell their congregations and members that if they sympathize with these actions, they are not welcome in their midst. They must give the FBI the names of those in their communities who they suspect to be involved in subversive activities. They must publicly proclaim to the world that they are Americans and will stand with America and defend her against ISLAMIC terror.
A few, of course, have stood up and condemned the actions of terrorists acting in the name of Islam. Nonie Darwish and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are a couple that come to mind. They have gone beyond bland statements about "condemning terrorism and that Islam is really a religion of peace". They call it what it is, and as a result, they will spend the rest of their days-in Western countries even-living with bodyguards and dealing with threats to their lives because they are considered apostates.
You see, people like Darwish and Ali have crossed the line. They have spoken out against Islamic doctrine itself. They have said what people in CAIR and Siddiqi cannot say; that so much of what is in the Qu'ran is nothing more than an incitement to hate, shun and murder those who are not Muslims.
You will not hear these Muslim leaders, even if they are "moderates", say that the very words of the Prophet Mohammed are wrong, and that they are not appropriate in the modern world. The problem is that the Prophet Mohammed was a warrior. That is an undeniable fact. Mohammed was not a mythical figure who may or may not have existed. He, indeed, existed, and he spread Islam at the point of a sword. As a result, thousands of people died in the Holy Land. The words in the Qu'ran are his words. If there are conflicts and contradictions, then the latest writing takes precedent.
Mohammed stated that Muslims should not take unbelievers as friends. Almost every page and Sura in the Qu'ran speaks of non-believers burning in Hell, a point constantly reinforced. There, of course, is the famous and oft-quoted Hadith that speaks of trees and bushes saying, "there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him."
There is the principle of Shariah law, which no Western democracy could ever allow to be adopted; honor killings, stonings, limited rights for women and non-believers, taxes for dhimmis, death for the "crime of apostasy", and on and on. Islam is a belief system that is designed to control every aspect of life including the very law itself.
You see, there is a limit as to what the Muzammil Siddiqis of the world can say when they "condemn terrorism". There is a line they cannot cross. How can they engage in a theological debate with the so-called "extremists"? Is it not the "extremists" who are following the teachings of Mohammed-to the letter? Thirty years ago, we were calling them "fundamentalists"-for a reason. We seemed to have dropped that term. Why? Because it would mean that they are merely following the teachings of Mohammed and Islam.
I think the time is long since past when we in the non-Muslim world wake up and recognize the unavoidable fact; that our enemy is not just a group of a few thousand fanatics around the world-it is an idea. It is an idea that can be found within the covers of a book written by a man who had no concept of a larger world outside the region where he lived and fought.
It could be argued that Islam was in a centuries-long slumber-from which it is awakening with a vengeance. And it is growing. In mosques and hadrassas all over the Muslim world-and in many cases in Western countries as well, children are being taught that according to the Qu'ran, they have mortal enemies-non-believers and especially Jews. Many young Muslims in Western countries are being taught that their mission is to spread Islam until the day comes when Islam will rule that country-and indeed the world.
I have heard many say that Islam needs a Reformation. A nice thought, but it would require more than just "reform". Martin Luther, in his Reformation, was rebelling against a corrupt Vatican that had lost its way. He was not rebelling against the Bible or the teachings of Jesus Christ. To reform Islam would requiring rejecting many passages in the Qu'ran and many of the teachings of Mohammed as simply not being applicable to a modern world-and as being morally wrong. But how do believers decide that their religion does not contain Eternal Truth? That is a big leap.
Meanwhile, so many in the West delude themselves into thinking that this phenomena we call terrorism does not represent true Islam. They insist that Islam is a religion of peace, and that we who bring up the inconvenient facts about the life and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, the words in the Qu'ran and the words of so many Muslim clerics, are somehow Islamophobes, and that Islamophobia must be fought with the same vigor as anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia. Last week, I listened to a respected rabbi, a decent man who only desires peace and understanding, say that very thing at Chapman University.
Let me set this straight. Aside from the fact that the word "Islamophobia" itself means "fear of Islam", an understandable feeling given world events, I do not believe that individual Muslims should be persecuted. They have a right to practice their religion (indeed, there are some aspects of Islam I find admirable) as long as it does not conflict with the rights of others and local laws. Certainly, there are many Muslims who are used to living around non-Muslims and have no desire to be engaged in violence in any way. Surely, many older Muslims have spent their lives picking and choosing which parts of the Qu'ran they choose to obey. Yet, many are afraid to speak out because of the fear of violent retribution. I have long resisted the temptation to repeat the mocking statement of others when these events happen as, "the religion of peace strikes again." Yet, what other phrase is appropriate?
Yes, it has reached the point where Muslims must take a stand if they want to be accepted by the rest of the world. It is not just in America or Britain or India. Thai Muslims must stand with the majority and reject Muslim insurrection in that country's south. Filipino Muslims must do the same. This is not a call for persecution of innocent Muslims. But how can they be accepted by the larger societies in which they live as minorities if they remain silent? Do they really want to live isolated from the larger society? Some, I believe, actually do.
Meanwhile as the 9-11s, the Londons the Madrids now Mumbais continue to add up, more and more people can only turn against Islam and become "Islamophobes". And fewer and fewer people will be able to insist that Islam is really "a religion of peace".