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At one level, the Discover Islam posters describe a very traditional interpretation of Islam:
- "Islam is not just a personal religion, but a complete way of life." (Poster)
- "Muslims believe that the Qur'an is the very word of God Almighty: a complete record of the exact words revealed by God... The Qur'an is the principal source of every Muslim's faith and practice." (Poster)
- "The sunnah—the practice and example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is the second source of inspiration and instruction for Muslims. Belief in the sunnah is part of the Islamic faith." (Poster)
These posters offer not a even a hint of how Islam might be any different today than it was hundreds of years ago. Not even a hint about the possibility of a more modern interpretation, such as ignoring the political aspects of Islam, acknowledging that the Qur'an may not actually be the "very word of God," or even giving today's Muslims the discretion to contextualize Muhammad's life in 6th century Arabia and discount some of his words and actions, rather than follow his "practice and example" as "instruction."
Yet when it comes to describing the true history of Islam and explaining what the Qur'an and the Sunnah actually say, these posters devolve into outright falsehoods, half-truths, critical omissions, and misleading rhetoric (such as relying on loaded words like "innocent" or "just" or "peace" without providing appropriate definitions)—all to present a deceptive impression of Islam as a benign and pluralistic ideology and way of life.
Unfortunately, a clear reading of history and a forthright presentation of orthodox Islam yield quite the opposite, as shown by the short analysis of six posters here. Islam was spread via warfare. The Qur'an and the Sunnah are clear that Islam dictates violence against (or subjugation of) non-Muslims. Islam calls for the death penalty for apostates. Islam condones domestic violence against women.
If these Discover Islam posters were the only place to find this deceptive description of Islam, there would be less cause for worry. After all, as a percentage of the population, very few people will ever see them. (And perhaps, going forward, many who do see them will also somehow see this analysis as well.)
But the problem at hand is much larger.
Firstly, many influential Muslim organizations in Western countries tell a similar story about Islam. For example, consider the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which claims to be "America's largest Islamic civil liberties group." In addition to its national office, CAIR has 30 regional chapters throughout the country. CAIR National Communication Director Ibrahim Hooper has spoken about Islam in America many times on national news programs, such as CBS, ABC, and CNN.
In July, 2005, the CAIR published a "Policy Bulletin" titled "Islam, Democracy, and American Muslims." After reading the Discover Islam posters, the rhetoric in this document should feel very familiar. For one, CAIR is sure to affirm the Qur'an and the traditions of Muhammad as the primary sources of Islam, and to emphasize the importance of understanding and adhering to Islamic teachings:
- "For Muslims, the Qur'an is the ultimate source of values."
- "God’s Word in the Qur’an and the traditions of His Messenger Muhammad are the basis of Islamic legal principles..."
- "...continual intellectual effort is necessary so as to come up with better ways in which people can live in conformity with the teachings of Islam."
As with the Discover Islam posters, there is no mention of any movement (or any need) in modern times to discount or limit the authority of the Qur'an or the example set by Muhammad.
Yet just like the Discover Islam posters, this CAIR bulletin is filled with pleasant but misleading sound bites about Islam:
- "...freedom of religion is enshrined in the Qur'anic verse that says 'there should be no compulsion in religion.'"
- "Jews and Christians are given special honor in the Qur'an..."
Both statements—Islam's supposed "freedom of religion," and the "special honor" of subservience and taxation given to Jews and Christians—are addressed in the analysis of this Discover Islam poster.
Does CAIR reject violence against (or subjugation of) non-Muslims and thus reject Qur'anic verses 9.29, 4.76, 47.4, 8.12 (not to mention many others)? Does CAIR condemn the death penalty for apostasy and thus reject Bukhari 9.84.57? Does CAIR condemn domestic violence against women and thus reject verse 4.34 of the Qur'an? These are important questions. Simple questions. Yes/no questions. Why don't the media that interview Ibrahim Hooper so often press him to answer these questions? If the U.S. Constitution is "compatible with Islam," as the CAIR bulletin claims, shouldn't it be easy for Hooper to say "yes" to each?
And what about other mainstream Muslim groups in America? After all, CAIR and their leaders have made many dubious statements and have been the subject of many problematic associations. Perhaps other groups have defined and espoused a more modern version of Islam, one with a less literal interpretation of the Qur'an and the ways and words of Muhammad, one where the political aspects of Islam are mitigated, one where non-Muslims are accepted as equals before the law?
Unfortunately, not the Muslim Public Affairs Council, whose policy paper states, "Among the most enduring misconceptions about the Islamic faith is the presumed link between Islam and violence," and then goes on to cite verse 5.32 of the Qur'an, addressed in the analysis of this poster.
Not the Islamic Society of North America, whose former President writes on their site, "For us reform is nothing but obeying Allah, going back to the authentic message of the Qur'an and the Sunnah..."
Not the Islamic Assembly of North America, whose work follows "The correct Islamic methodology derived from the Book of Allah and the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, according to the understanding and application of the early pious forefathers."
Not the Shia Association of North America, whose Web site suggests readers join CAIR.
And these are just examples from North America. The same message is repeated by Islamic organizations in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other countries around the world.
Alas, the problem at hand is even larger.
Suppose more Muslim organizations were to openly acknowledge the problems of traditional Islam and to work honestly toward defining and gathering support for a more modern, benign interpretation—such as the one put forth courageously by Mahmoud Muhammad Taha of Sudan, an effort that earned him a public hanging in 1985.
Even so, as Robert Spencer has explained so often and so well, jihadists conducting warfare worldwide against non-Muslims will continue to justify their actions and their mission by citing "pure" Islam: the "literal and eternal word of God" from the Qur'an, and the life and ways of Muhammad, the "excellent example of human behavior." They—not non-Muslims—are the ones that need to be convinced that "Islam means peace." But no one has formulated Islamic arguments—let alone initiate a serious, sustained campaign—to refute the Islamic justification provided by the jihadists.
For more information
If you are interested in learning more about Islam, I recommend reading Robert Spencer's books about Islam and Muhammad and his Web site, JIhad Watch. Robert's work has opened my eyes to Islam. I envy his patriotism, his dedication, his truthfulness, his logic, his courage, and his calm in the face of death threats and a general unwillingness of good people to listen to the truth about Islam.
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|Anonymous||The Dangerous Moderates||1||Nov 26 2006, 10:05 PM EST by Anonymous|
Thread started: Nov 24 2006, 12:29 PM EST Watch
The so called muslim moderates are a dangerous lot, for they perpetuate disinformation about islam either wilfully or innocently. This is fine when the number of muslims is small and the non-muslims are happy to hear these very reassuring and comforting words. But when the crunch comes and muslims reach a critical mass capable of overpowering the others, these very "moderates" either suffer from amnesia or feign helplessness (probably tinged with admiration and a sense of camaraderie for their own brothers) in face of the hijackers of the religion of peace. Shades of The Carpenter and the Walrus:
"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:.......
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."
"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?
"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"
"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"
In Indian Kashmir, the entire population of Hindus - probably half a million people - were driven out of the state after 1989, when the muslims there felt they could get away with it, given the mujahideen fire power freed up from Afghanistan and the Indian government's complete lack of understanding of Islam thanks to propaganda similar to that in the Posters cited here.
The population of Hindus in Pakistan came down from over 10% in 1947 to 2.5% in the last census. The story goes on in every muslim country or countries where muslims have been permitted to thrive at the cost of the natives.
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