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The Hidden Realities Of Islam
Or, rather, why we're all fucked if we continue to believe, as I used to, that Islam is just another religion and Muslims just want to make nicey-nicey interfaithy outreach to us. It turns out there's a lot that's pretty ugly and frightening under all the "Religion Of Peace" propaganda -- for example, all the passages in the Koran commanding Muslims to convert or kill the infidel...and then all the Muslims jumping at the chance to do just that. No, all Muslims aren't like this. But, quite enough are to cause some serious damage or death. From Jihad Watch:

Here’s a case study, based on the posts of a Muslim who dropped by Jihad Watch a few days ago. He asked:
My questions to you are: Do you personally know any Muslims? Do you have any Muslim friends? Do you know about the Muslim experience in the post 9/11 America? Have you ever visited a Mosque? Have you ever been to an inter-faith event (e.g. poetry recital)? Have you ever read the Holy Qur'an or any of the other Islamic spiritual texts such as the works of Jalaluddin Rumi or al-Ghazali, Rabia al-Adawiyyah, Muhammad Iqbal, etc.?

The questions are misplaced. Many of the readers at this site have visited those Mosque Outreach exercises in Taqiyya-and-Tu-Quoque. Many have read the Qur'an, and have read and reread it, keeping in mind several things:

1) About 20% of it makes no sense, even to Muslims who know classical Arabic. See Christoph Luxenberg for one attempt to solve that matter of philology.

2) The internal contradictions in the Qur'an are resolved through the doctrine of "naskh" or "abrogation," so that, as in the systems of common law, where the doctrine of stare decisis ordinarily holds but later decisions, when different, cancel the effect of earlier ones (e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson is not valid after Brown v. Bd. of Education).

3) The doctrine of "naskh" allows the so-called Meccan suras, the softer ones, which were presumably the product of a time when Muhammad still felt the need for support and had not yet become as harsh toward Infidels as he became once he had taken control in Medina (Yathrib), to be cancelled or overruled or overturned by the much harsher so-called "Medinan" suras.

4) While there are more than 150 Jihad verses in the Qur'an -- though only 27 appearances of the word "qitaal" or combat, the most dangerous ones, such as those contained within Sura 9, are among the very last “revealed,” and hence possess great authority.

5) In English or French, as Western scholars of Islam familiar with the original texts have noted, the Qur'an's verses are far less harsh than they are in the Arabic. Many of the words involving the treatment to be meted out to Unbelievers, that is Infidels or non-Muslims, are of this kind.

6) The official Muslim groups tend to distribute the translations that are much milder than the real thing. Even those used by Muslims, such as that of Yusuf Ali, do not always adequately convey the real meaning. But that can be found usually in the notes, and it is important for Infidels to read those Muslim annotations.

7) The Qur'an by itself does not yield up its full meaning, and the Sunnah, that is the customs and practice of Muslims of the time, of Muhammad and the Companions, is the true interpretive aid, the essential means by which obscure meanings are teased out. That is why Muslims so often refer to "Qur'an and Sunnah."

8) Islam is a collectivist faith that does not admit of free exercise of conscience. That is, it will not permit -- often on pain of death -- individuals from deciding for themselves that they wish to leave Islam, sometimes for another faith, sometimes for no faith at all. That Islam does this makes it akin to other totalitarian belief-systems that do not tolerate anyone leaving that closed system. In a sense, a Muslim who leaves Islam is treated as a deserter from the army of Islam, just as someone who is persuaded to become a Muslim, even without any real understanding and with very incomplete (often deliberately withheld) knowledge, merely by reciting the single verse of the Shehada, is regarded as a recruit to the army of Islam, someone who has been signed up, rather than someone who has been carefully taught in order to save his individual soul.

9) Yes, not only have many of those posting here visited mosques during those phony Outreach Programs, but we have made it a point to attend those utterly phony presentations of Islam, in which none of the real questions -- about how Islam divides the world uncompromisingly between Believer and Infidel, and territorially between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb -- ever come up. And of course there is never a discussion of Muhammad, that is of the killings of Abu Afak and Asma bint Marwan, the decapitation of the bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza, the attack on the inoffensive Jewish farmers of the Khaybar Oasis, the tale of little Aisha, and so much else.

Oh, P.S. It's the goal of many, many Muslims to have us in the west living under Sharia law, and by using our own religious freedom-promoting laws against us, they just night. Of course, if they can't convert us, they'll just have to kill us! (See below.)

Posted by aalkon at March 2, 2007 10:24 AM


Extremely well put, Amy.

"About 20% of it makes no sense" also rings very true - even when you tackle it with a primer in one hand and access to web gloss sites. (Feels like being force fed Turkish Delight, too.)

Posted by: Jody Tresidder at March 2, 2007 4:41 AM

I'm not sure if a kinder, gentler Koran would thwart some of this Islamic hatred. It seems to me we are dealing with failed societies that are lashing out at the more successful societies. They could probably find passages in Winnie the Pooh to justify their hatred and antagonism.

Posted by: doombuggy at March 2, 2007 6:31 AM

Great post, Amy.

I would like to expand a little on point 7. It isn't just the Qu'ran and Sunnah. There are 2 other concepts within traditional-classical Islam. The ijima and qiyas under Usul al-Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) or the daily practices of the faithful.

Usul al-Fiqh (Roots of the Law)
1. Qu'ran
2. Sunnah
3. Ijima
4. Qiyas

The ijimas means consensus among the believers or ummah (community of believers) This is one of the reasons for point 8 and its inability to modernize or collective borrowing from other cultures.

The qiyas (mainly a Sunni practice) are analogical reasoning on injunctions or 'nass'. In other others words, they are religious analogies on contemporary issues that were not applicable in the development of Islam. i.e. modern drug use, the latest scientific developments, modernity and such. Shias use a similar term aql (intellect)*** The fatwas (they are not just death threats) would then be an official ruling by a religious judge or mufti.

People must understand that Islam is not just a religion. It is also a political system as well. They are one and the same.

***This is one of the major issues of contention between Sunnis and Shias. Shias believe the qisays can be used or manipulated to a corrupt version of Islam.

Posted by: Joe at March 2, 2007 7:02 AM

The qiyas (mainly a Sunni practice) are analogical reasoning on injunctions or 'nass'. In other others words, they are religious analogies on contemporary issues that were not applicable in the development of Islam. i.e. modern drug use, the latest scientific developments, modernity and such.

This is very interesting. Can you elaborate on it?

I just wish some of the people screaming for some kind of multiculti understanding didn't have such a surface view of what Islam is, instead of understanding it as a form of totaliatarism.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 2, 2007 7:28 AM

I just wish some of the people screaming for some kind of multiculti understanding didn't have such a surface view of what Islam is, instead of understanding it as a form of totaliatarism.

Amy, hasn't anybody let you in on the little secret?

Multicult-ness is a set of "code words" for anti-Western. Ever notice that all one must do to be "multicultural" is eliminate Western culture?

Like one of my jokes - "I know we need more multiculturalism in America every time I say "dankeshein" in a bodega."

EVERY PC multi-freak on earth has to "correct" me that I should be saying "gracias". My response is: "Why? I was using TWO languages, why can't they add one for once, instead of me adding everybody else's every time?"

Posted by: Guy Montag at March 2, 2007 8:10 AM

I'll embrace multi-culturalism when it's advocates start honestly teaching (for example) that the Aztecs ripped human hearts from the bodies of live captives every morning at sunrise, or that the peace loving Hindus practiced human sacrifice as recently as the last century. If we're going to be honest about the shame in our own past - and we should be, than everybody else needs to get the same treatment.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at March 2, 2007 8:26 AM

No problemo, Amy. I will have to explain the other too. One cannot concentrate just qiyas without the others.

People have to understand the one goal of any believer of Islam is: MINDFULNESS towards Allah. That is it. No room for interpretation. This state is only achieved through SUBMISSION. Another thing you must understand it has a very complex system of Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh). This system is there to protect the believer in an ever changing world. It also protects the primacy of the faith in a modern world.

You have the Ahkam, which are the religious commandments and Fiqh which is Divine Law (Sharia) interpreted by the Islamic-classical scholars. Westerners will interpret Divine Law as purely spiritual. It’s both spiritual and physical. Usul al-fiqh is the roots of the Law (Sharia) through the Qu’ran and the Sunnah. The Qiyas is the process of current interpretations of Islam. Ijima is the consensus among the believers.

Now there are many sub groupings under Ahkam and Fiqh. I will not go into them, because this is a blog and not a journal for religious studies. I may go into a future discussion on Istihsan. Which means ‘preference’ in Arabic. Many moderates within Islam will use this process under Fiqh to try to steer the faith away from the rigid conservative standing.

In Islam there are the halal (what is allowed) and haram (what is prohibited). Drinking alcohol is an explicit form of haram. Mentioned many times by Muhammad. (Qu'ran 5:90) What are the reasons behind it being forbidden? Simple. Alcohol causes intoxication of a believer and this leads to behavior away from 'mindfulness' towards Allah.

Other issues such as other codes of everyday conduct would fall under the process of qiyas. Dress, speech, dietary, relations between men and women and nonbelievers. The sources used by mufti's would be the Qu'ran and Sunnah. Qiyas would be the reasoning behind the correct Islamic approach towards current issues that Muhammad didn't explicitly deal with at the time.

A simple example:

A Muslim would go to his nearest mufti and ask a question about heroin use. Halal or haram? The mufti would use Qu'ran 5:90 as an example of a qiyas or analogy. Heroin wasn't discovered until the early 19th Century and it is not a fermented drink, but it leads to a state of impurity and away from the mindfulness towards Allah. So the mufti would issue a fatwa (faatwa are multiple public rulings) that heroin use is a form of haram. The nass or injunction would be the actual order, counsel or admonition to the questioner. Qiyas is the Arabic term for religious 'reasoning' behind the Law on achieving mindfulness towards Allah. Its similar to the Christian priests and ministers using the various illustrations/analogies used by Jesus in the New Testament when a Christian has a contemporary question of faith.

Then you will have the process of Ijima. Consensus or the enforcement from the community of believers. Once the edicts (illahs) are made from the various religious councils/courts of jurisprudence… the enforcement can be made through political institutions (Muslim dominated nations), local mosques and the tribal-extended family structures on an individual level.

The physical state of mind is the same as the spiritual one. They cannot be separated ever. That is why Islam is both a religious and political system in its literal interpretation.

So anyone goes against the illahs... the use of public warnings, honor killings within the extended family to politically/religiously sanctioned terrorism by various groups.

Now this will explain the reasoning behind the Clash of Civilizations. The violent reactions towards the Danish cartoons of Muhammad? Those simple cartoons could lead a believer (believers) to a state of mind away Allah. What is the worse crime in Islam? When a Muslim converts to another competing faith. Those simple cartoons could cause a believer to begin to question his or her faith.

Posted by: Joe at March 2, 2007 10:34 AM

Joe I really enjoyed your post.

Posted by: PurplePen at March 2, 2007 10:57 AM

Goddess, you say of Islam that "The physical state of mind is the same as the spiritual one. They cannot be separated ever. That is why Islam is both a religious and political system in its literal interpretation."

This is a wild generalization. While true at times of some Islamic sects, it is equally true of some Christian and Jewish sects.

Have you read Karen Armstrong's history of fundamentalism (Christian, Jewish, Muslum) entitled BATTLE FOR GOD? Great book!!!

To get out of the mess we've made for ourselves in the Middle East, we need to find a way to reconcile fundamentalist Christians, Jews and Muslims. The alternative is a global war involving billions of people.

Posted by: Steve at March 3, 2007 9:51 AM

I'm no fan of any religion that fosters irrational beliefs, but of all the religious nutters trying to control us based on their belief in a big Imaginary Friend, Islam is the worst. Jews put up "eruvs" -- string line at the beach that has ugly strips of sheet on it and can kill birds. Christians try to legislate everybody's behavior based on their religion. Muslims want to convert or kill us. Not all Muslims but a great many.

And that statement above isn't mine, but it's from Jihad Watch, and Robert Spencer is one of the most informed people on what is Islam.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 3, 2007 10:06 AM


Does Karen Armstrong discuss the establishment of Fiqh systems in various Islamic-centered nations? These religious courts/councils exist. They have religious police units similar to the Saudi Arabia's Mutaween.

Personally, I have had many 'interactions' with the Mutaween based on their suspicions towards me. Why? Being an outsider in the Kingdom. One time, I was confronted by 3 officers, because they had the suspicion that I was on drugs. Which is punishable by 80 lashes from a whip in public. It wasn't drugs, but a slight case of heat exhaustion.

Here is an article on Mutaween's Scandal handling a school fire:

Yes, the Vatican still has various religious councils and jurisprudence bodies, but they are no longer effective with most of its believers' daily activities. Could you see priests keeping Catholic schoolgirls from leaving a burning building, because of the possibility that some may not be virgins?

"The physical state of mind is the same as the spiritual one. They cannot be separated ever. That is why Islam is both a religious and political system in its literal interpretation."

Wild generalization? Would you like the list of various Islamic-classical jurisprudence scholars that would support my generalization?

Here is a basic outline of Sharia Law:

Al-ibadat (Acts of worship)
1. Wudu (purification)
2. Salah (prayers)
3. Sawm and Ramadan (fasting)
4. Zakat (public charities)
5. Hajj (pilgrimage)

Al-mu'amalat (Public interaction)
1. Economic transactions
2. Endowments
3. Inheritance
4. Marriage, divorce and the raising of children
5. Dietary (including ritual slaughtering of animals and hunting)
6. Penal codes
7. Warfare and peace
8. Judicial issues (including witnesses and forms of evidence)

As you can notice it is both the physical and spiritual. They have a complex system of religious courts, civil bodies and the police to enforce it. Just ask an Iraqi-Shia woman south of Baghdad which political system has a more direct impact on her life. The US directed Iraqi government or al-Sadr's local courts and armed militias?

Now in the Muslim communities of Western Europe, I’ve been hearing stories from friends of mine on the secret courts and local community councils to punish believers for not adhering to the practices of mindfulness towards Allah. In other words acting too Western. Similar grass rooted groups of religious gangs within these communities enforcing Sharia law through intimidation.

One of the reasons for the docile and moderate aspects of Muslim communities in the USA is based solely on how small the population (2% of the USA population) is compared to the majority of non Muslims. The other reason is that a vast majority of American Muslims are very secular and uphold the US political institutions, but there is a very small and well organized conservative and traditional element with the community that was growing in the 1990s. By the way many Islamic schools in the US are financed by Saudi charities and have a strong Sunni-Wahabist interpretation towards the curriculum.

The interfaith conferences do have a positive aspect within local communities to create an outreach and education for the public. A troubling sign, I've been noticing between these inter faith meetings between Muslim and Christian groups is the tactic of one weaker group assisting a more powerful one on the separation of church and state issues. Why would Muslims do this? Very simple. Those same well financed evangelical Christians, in the name of religious tolerance, will come to the aid of them when certain political institutions view certain Islamic practices that conflicts with the US laws and modernity.

Posted by: Joe at March 3, 2007 1:54 PM

Help! im desperate, these should be a walk on the park for someone that knows about these things... i need the following written in naskh... "...the life of this world is nothing but a provision of vanities." Qur'an 3.185.

Posted by: FP at May 4, 2008 11:20 AM

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