Friday, October 31, 2008

SUNY-Binghamton: An unwitting admission

Robert Spencer

One of the most striking elements of the response to the talks that I have been giving on university campuses all over the country is the never-yielding unwillingness of Muslim questioners to admit even the smallest point. They will dismiss the evidence that I bring from authoritative Islamic sources of the jihad imperative to subjugate non-Muslims under the rule of Islamic law as the ravings of a few extremists, not hesitating to repudiate any authority, no matter how influential it may be in the Islamic world. This may seem to be a canny tactic, as most of the non-Muslims in any given audience have no idea who is an authoritative voice in Islam and who isn't, and so it gives the impression that I am quoting marginal people to whom the vast majority of Muslims don't listen. But as an approach it carries with it some serious risks: anyone in the audience who does know anything about Islamic theology and law, and about who the authoritative voices are in the Islamic world, will know they are lying. Also, anyone who is reasonably well informed about the extent of jihad activity worldwide, from Europe to Indonesia, will wonder just how tiny this Tiny Minority of Extremists™ really is.

Another hazard of the policy of deception, rooted as it is in Muhammad's dictum that "war is deceit" and the Qur'an's mandate to deceive unbelievers when under pressure, is that not all Muslims in attendance may have gotten the memo. So it was at SUNY-Binghamton, where I spoke Tuesday night. One questioner asked me specifically about the Islamic doctrine of religious deception. I explained that it was founded upon the words of the Qur'an itself: “Let not the believers take for friends or helpers unbelievers rather than believers. If any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah; except by way of precaution, that ye may guard yourselves from them” (Qur’an 3:28).

The Sunni Qur’an commentator Ibn Kathir explains that in this verse “Allah prohibited His believing servants from becoming supporters of the disbelievers, or to take them as comrades with whom they develop friendships, rather than the believers.” However, exempted from this rule were “those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda' said, 'We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.' Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, 'The Tuqyah [taqiyyah] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.'"

This practice is also sanctioned by the Qur’an warning Muslims that those who forsake Islam will be consigned to Hell — except those forced to do so, but who remain true Muslims inwardly: “Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters unbelief — except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in faith — but such as open their breast to unbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful penalty” (Qur’an 16:106). Ibn Kathir explains that “the scholars agreed that if a person is forced into disbelief, it is permissible for him to either go along with them in the interests of self-preservation, or to refuse.”

Moreover, Sahih Bukhari, the hadith collection that Sunnis consider the most reliable, records three times Muhammad's statement that "war is deceit." Another hadith in a collection considered reliable by Sunnis has Muhammad saying that lying is permissible "in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them)" (Sahih Muslim 6303). Muhammad also gave the killer of Ka'b bin al-Ashraf permission to lie in order to deceive Ka'b and lure him to his death.

Another venerable Sunni commentator on the Qur'an, as-Suyuti, says that "it is acceptable (for a Muslim) to eat the meat of a dead animal at a time of great hunger (starvation to the extent that the stomach is devoid of all food); and to loosen a bite of food (for fear of choking to death) by alcohol; and to utter words of unbelief..."

Anyway, after I had explained all this, a Muslim questioner started talking about Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, and how they persecuted Muslims and forced them to convert to Catholicism, such that many Muslims feigned conversion while remaining Muslim inwardly. Did I think that the doctrine of religious deception, he asked me, was revealed in view of that situation? In reply I told him that the doctrine of religious deception was found in the Qur'an, as I explained above, and that it was therefore considerably older than the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.

Yes, he replied, but asked me again: didn't I think that the doctrine of religious deception was revealed by Allah to Muhammad in order to provide for the situation that Ferdinand and Isabella would create, far in the future? Being somewhat slow on the uptake, it was only then that I realized that his question assumed the divine origin of the Qur'an, and I told him that I declined to make a statement of faith in Islam. But his question was inadvertently revealing: he was not, unlike other questioners, full of wounded indignation and hotly denying that Islam had a doctrine of deception at all. He was assuming that Islam does have a doctrine of deception, and trying to get me to see the divine wisdom of this doctrine.

But that was the only crack in the facade. Otherwise the hostile questioners resorted to their usual tactic of charging that what I was saying was false without ever being able to pinpoint any actual inaccuracy in anything I said. One girl tried valiantly, explaining that in Islam there were four -- well, she couldn't quite remember what they were, but there were four of them, and they were sort of like sects, and why hadn't I said anything about the diversity among them? I explained to her that she was probably thinking of the four major madhahib, schools of Sunni jurisprudence, and that they did not differ in any significant particular on the Islamic community's obligation to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Islamic law.

Significantly, no one in the audience challenged that assertion -- in fact, after eight college speeches during this round of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, no one ever did. Which is not to say that some didn't hesitate to lie: one man claimed falsely that I had never referred to Muhammad as a prophet during my talk (since I am not a believer, I had referred to him during the talk as "the prophet of Islam") and asked me, in a tone of reproach, what people were going to think of Muhammad after hearing what I had said. He then proceeded to note that I had said nothing about how kind Muhammad was to his neighbors, how gentle, how beloved of his friends. I acknowledged that this was true -- I discussed these traditions in The Truth About Muhammad -- but pointed out that Muhammad had also commaded, in ahadith Muslims consider equally authentic, warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers. Was he denying the existence of such traditions? He did not answer the question.

And so it went. It's really fairly obvious that if Muslims at these campus talks really rejected the ideology of jihad and Islamic supremacism, they would not charge me with "hate" for discussing its existence, or traffic in denial and obfuscation about the existence of this ideology. Every one of these talks has been, or should have been, instructive for non-Muslims in the audience who may have assumed that the Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims™ actually rejects the Islamic supremacist agenda. But I doubt that very many of those non-Muslims have had their eyes open to what was going on right in front of them, in Binghamton and elsewhere -- and for me the worst was yet to come, at a virtual Islamic supremacist storm-trooper hate rally at East Tennessee State University the next night. But that will be the subject of another post.

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