Friday, August 25, 2006

Islam's trajectory 

I claim no expertise in matters of religious history, and have no genuinely considered opinion as to whether the hideous crimes carried out in the name of Islam are inherent to the religion or the product of its perversion. Christian churches have certainly also committed great crimes that today we believe to have been wholly inconsistent with the teachings of Christ, so I am open to the claim that Islam is not practiced in accordance with the true teachings of the Prophet.

With that disclaimer, I commend to you David Forte's interesting essay, "Islam's trajectory." Forte argues that many of the things that Westerners most dislike about Islam -- its persecution of apostates and its treatment of women and minorities -- is the product of the reconstruction of the religion to fit Arabian tribal politics and the requirements of empire. If I understand Forte correctly, the point is not to defend Islam from its critics so much as to observe that there is plenty of liturgical history on which to base a moderating reformation (if, in fact, any call to moderation can at the same time be sufficiently zealous to change 1300 years of religious and cultural tradition).

The essay is long, so if you aren't on vacation print it off and read it the next time you are stuck at some airport.


By Anonymous Dan-O, at Fri Aug 25, 03:33:00 PM:

The author of that essay is a dreamer intellectual professor who thinks himself smarter than you and I. Surely he can babble on and on about this sect and that sect. and Islamic history until I’m blue in the face. I think he wishes Islam to be a normal religion and has based his life’s work to try and prove that somehow it is. He writes in an easy, matter-of-fact style that belies the underlying theme of murder, corruption, warfare and slaughter.
The style does not fit the topic and it shows.

He likes to cherry pick. But of course he has to! But in the end, it all amounts to an expensive pile of linguistic drivel that has no practical use for the 21st century. I suspect that there are few Muslims even that would understand his endless intellectualism, nor wish to. So why should we?

You know Tigerhawk, I can skip the Liberal drivel and send you over to JIHADWATCH.COM and your education would be 100% more accurate. Of course they don’t cherry pick over there. They tell it like it is, has been and most likely always will be with everything concerning Islam. They too are intellectuals, yet their essays are easy to read, are backed by powerful facts and examples, and written in an everyday speaking manner.

The great crime is that we call Islam a “great” religion. The hard truth is it is an ideology founded on lies, corruption, murder and warfare that must eventually be defeated. Again. We are repeating what our Christian ancestors did centuries of old: Beat back the tidal wave of Islam.

Nice words about Islam won’t cut it. The Prof has no use for me. And ironically, he is probably no use for Muslims either except in that he is to be used as a tool in helping to keep us divided, disarmed and confused.


By Blogger Papa Ray, at Fri Aug 25, 05:01:00 PM:

I prefer to get my opinions of Islam from Muslims or ex-Muslims.

Yes, there are ex-Mulims, they don't advertise it as in publishing their real names and such, but they are all over the web as well as the world.

When I started studying Islam back in 02, I went to this site, well actually their old site, which is still out there but not updated anymore.

I read the essay that you referenced, or rather I read through it, I found enough bias and errors in the first fifteen minutes to just quit.

If you are really interested in learning about Islam and the thinking of those that are true believers of it, I recommend you go here.

It is broken down into sections and such and they will answer your emails if you decide to email them.

Papa Ray
West Texas

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Fri Aug 25, 05:12:00 PM:

Nice try, Hawk, but the pro-war crowd is populated by bigots. It's too bad, but there it is.

I think you're trying to encourage some moderate thinking about Islam. It's not going to fly with folks who would rather see the middle east turned into a pane of nuclear glass.  

By Blogger Jason_Pappas, at Fri Aug 25, 05:19:00 PM:

That’s funny, TH, I had read that essay and was going to single it out to disagree with the author. Foote seems to imagine that the religion was created in the two short decades of Mohammad’s career but bastardized in the next two centuries to fit an imperialist agenda. There are two problems with this.

First, Islam was created over centuries. This idea that it was created by one man is part of the mythology, not history. Historically, Foote seems to understand that circumstances helped to define Islam but his implication this changed it from its original meaning is spin. Bernard Lewis stresses that the original conquests by the Arabs were not to spread the religion but to plunder and rule (as Foote realizes.) Non-Arabs were kept at arms-length.

It wasn’t until the Abbasid period (from 750AD) that the religion became important to cement the inclusion of the Persian power-structure. The religion became more important that ever to the identity of what was originally an Arab supremacist movement. The Hadiths (sayings and deeds of Mohammad) and Sira (biography of Mohammad) were written or documented in this period to define the religion. During the next three centuries, Islam would compete with Hellenic philosophy before Islam won out and the Islamic world became stagnant.

Secondly, Mohammad was a military figure and political leader even in the mythology. He plundered, slaughtered, conquered and ruled. The idea that he was spiritual but later political leaders bastardized the religion for purposes of oppression isn’t part of the mythology. The religion sees Mohammad’s career in two parts: 1) preaching tolerance in a vein attempt to get accepted in Mecca, 2) rising to power in Medina. The Islamic calendar starts not from Mo’s birth but from is political rise in Medina where he starts his political/military career. His example there supersedes his early phase. Thus, the warrior aspects that color the religion were there all along according to the mythology.

Both the history and mythology show that Islam was created as a supremacist ideology with imperialist ambitions. It just has less flexibility than a religion whose founder refused to fight the powers that be, never ruled, never outlined a political philosophy, and died out of power. I can’t say moderate Islam isn’t possible but is it scalable and sustainable? Or is secularization a more viable option for the Islamic world? I’d put my hope on the latter (in the long run.)  

By Blogger ScurvyOaks, at Fri Aug 25, 05:45:00 PM:

Hey Dan-O, it is a good and a joyful thing to be both a hawk and an intellectual. Why do you frequently try to dumb down your hardworking host?  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Aug 25, 06:32:00 PM:

"Nice try, Hawk, but the pro-war crowd is populated by bigots. It's too bad, but there it is."

big‧ot  /ˈbɪgət/
a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

Hmph. This also seems to describe the 'anti-war' crowd. Funny that.  

By Blogger Always On Watch, at Fri Aug 25, 06:35:00 PM:

Jason has covered a lot of excellent ground, but I have a little something to add....

Take a look at the following verses from the Koran:

"....Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you find them; besiege them, seize them, lay in wait for them with every kind of ambush...."(Sura 9:5).

"When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them...."(Sura 47:4).

"....Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in Allah, or in the Last Day, and who forbid not what Allah and His Apostle have forbidden....until they pay tribute..." (Sura 9:29).

"Say to the infidels: If they desist, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it Allah's." (Sura 8:39).

"Proclaim a grievious penalty to those who reject faith." (Sura 9:3)."

The Sura, a chapter in the Koran, is supposed to be the last 'revelation' by Allah and, by Islamic definition, abrogates previous verses.

Islam hasn't been reconstructed by its followers. The Koran itself as "given" to MTP has lain the necessary groundwork for "militant" Islam. Wistful thinking will not change those words in the Koran, which is "the final word of Allah" and supposed to be taken literally by devout Muslims.

Furthermore, according to Paul Sperry's book Infiltration, David Forte is the source from whom GWB heard about "hijacking Islam." But Forte is no Islamic scholar--not by a long shot. He may be a friend of Grover Norquist.  

By Blogger K. Pablo, at Fri Aug 25, 06:37:00 PM:

Dan-O you consistently leave insulting posts which are poorly reasoned. Maybe you don't have the training or ability to think or write analytically, but you come off like such an a-hole I don't even think it would be fun to have a beer with a guy like you. And that's coming from a fellow "hawk".  

By Blogger Mark, at Fri Aug 25, 06:56:00 PM:

Jason pappas wrote:

I can’t say moderate Islam isn’t possible but is it scalable and sustainable? Or is secularization a more viable option for the Islamic world? I’d put my hope on the latter (in the long run.)

I think secularization is what should be hoped for and encouraged by the liberal democracies of the West. A version of Islam that is heavily influenced by the Lockean and Jeffersonian ideas would also be a huge improvement over what we see today.

A relative of mine is married to a Turkish immigrant. His family still lives in Turkey and they would say that they are Muslims even as they never attend Mosque. Certainly the Kurds in Iraq have embraced a secularized version of Islam that is more compatible with Western attitudes.

Sometimes you will hear Christian theologians complain that American culture is more influenced by Hollywood and pop music than by Christian principles. In Iran the Islamic extremists similarly complain about Iranians who prefer certain aspects of Western culture over standard interpretations of Islam.

So, while I am no fan of Islam, I don't not believe that the West must kill 1 billion Muslims to win the war against Islamist extremism. Instead it must win a war of ideas while also winning in military conflicts with the extreme Muslims. For some people, it's hard to believe that God is on the side of extremist Muslims when they are always getting beat badly by infidels in wars.  

By Anonymous Dan-O, at Fri Aug 25, 07:08:00 PM:

I bust Tigerhawk’s balls for one reason: I like him and his blog and wish for him to come to an understanding about Islam as I have over the last 4 years. That is all I comment about.

I went through the same philosophical gyrations about freedom, Democracy, “moderate” Islam, etc, etc. I believed Bush about Iraq, but now realize that is probably a pipe dream. Am I down on Bush for that? No certainly not. And “cut and run” would be a disaster. Bush is right about one thing, it’s all the same war.

I think we need to take a harder line in this war. I think we need to be talking about how we force Iran to give up their dream of a nuclear arsenal. Nothing else really matters at this point to me politically. Iran with nukes = unimaginable worldwide nightmare .

I am here to steer Tiger straight. He needs to see the danger for what it is. He needs to come to the same conclusions that I have and I am confident he will. But we do not have time to dither. I need to help push this blog concerning Iran and all things Islamic in the right directions. It is a challenge for me and I wish to challenge you all. For if Tigerhawk and his readers cannot see the light then I lose hope.

I do not wish to hijack this blog. I do not wish to be Tiger’s arch-nemesis. I only wish to comment when I see the discussion heading the wrong direction. For instance having Khatami speak at the National Cathedral is a disgrace. If I need to go down a list of reasons on why I reach that conclusion then I lose hope for the West. Some things cannot be compromised in these “diplomatic” silly games we play with Iran. This absolutely crosses the border.

I also think Hezbullah won big time. They care not about 500 dead fighters. They will be replaced. They will go strong again. Who doubts that?

Call me a bigoted hawk, but I suspect Churchill was belittled in his day concerning his view about German, Russian or the Japanese intentions prior to WW2. It matters not. These are the unserious people and they need not participate in the discussion. Should I give even 10 minutes of my time to listen to someone who tries to argue that all will be well and that Iran really is a peaceful nation and Islam is a religion of peace?

Iran and the Islamists wishes Israel and the West destruction and they soon will have the means to bring that about. I wish to stop them.

Now let’s discuss why and how the US should go ahead and implement a military blockade of Iran.  

By Anonymous Dan, at Fri Aug 25, 07:22:00 PM:

K Pablo, I have argued that you are wrong and do not know what you are talking about. Perhaops I do come across as insulting but I have no time for niceties. However, I do not believe I ever called you an "A-hole".

You have never dissected one of my "poorly reasoned" posts and refuted it point by point or even one point. So your argument is hollow.

Thank you and have a good day.


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Aug 25, 10:39:00 PM:

"The Sura, a chapter in the Koran, is supposed to be the last 'revelation' by Allah and, by Islamic definition, abrogates previous verses."

Not correct. *A* Sura is a chapter in the Quran. There is Sura 2, Sura 3, Sura 50, and so forth. A small section of Sura 5, including the verse, "This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as your religion Islam," is held to be the final revelation, given 81 days before Muhammad died.

There are other examples of divinely ordered violence in Sura 2, and Sura 4 includes my favorite passage; 'Relent not in the pursuit of your enemies.'

As for the abrogation of previous verses with increasingly aggressive messages of violence, visit here


for a link to a well done, professional examination of that very concept.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Aug 25, 11:12:00 PM:

"You know nothing of warfare, only what you see on TV..."

"You fools! Wake up and take a stand for the West!"


Thought those might be relevant to the parallel name-calling conversation...  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Sat Aug 26, 10:01:00 AM:

Perhaps this is an acceptable way of talking about this?

Some muslim extremists, funded by power-hungry individuals cloaked in Islam, intend to destroy western civilization.

Islam is not evil. Any rhetoric suggesting that denies the experience of hundred of millions of peaceful muslims. Just as Christians have hijacked the Republican party, so Muslims are busily trying to hijack middle eastern politics. Extremism is the problem in both cases.  

By Blogger Jason_Pappas, at Sat Aug 26, 11:20:00 AM:

"Islam is not evil."

Is anyone debating that except perhaps this guy.

I agree that many if not most Muslims are moderate. But are they moderate because of Islam or despite it? Are they failing to practice the religion in part or full? Are the lax, lapsed, perfunctory in their practice, or selective in their practice? I know Catholics who don’t go to church or listen to the Pope but by being lax they don’t invent a new religion. A religion can’t be judged by the slackers. You have to study the texts and original practice while making room for variants established by reformers who, with new theological writings, have created a new sect. Show me!  

By Anonymous Dan-o, at Sat Aug 26, 11:50:00 AM:

Screwy Hoolie:

Your comments are obviously intended to get a rise. But the only true effect they have is that they reveal you are unserious about the problems the world faces concerning militant Islam.

Your moral equivalency argument of Christians and Muslims is not worthy of debate.

You could always hang out in the DU where you will feel more comfortable.


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Sat Aug 26, 12:47:00 PM:

Silly labels like 'evil' and 'good' don't apply here. You can't take your own moral system and simply apply it to your enemy... they have their own. You just have to figure it out.

Islam *really does* tell its adherents to kill or subjugate the infidel and unite the world under the rule of Islam. It's not written in a single sentence like that in the Quran, but it is in best-selling interpretive writings. And those who follow its precepts feel duty bound to wage war against the likes of us in the same way that Jews feel the need to maintain Kosher diets; it's an order from God, an integral part of the religious tradition.

The terrorists see themselves as righteous, holy warriors battling against the forces of darkness (which we must be, because we are not on the side of God; i.e. their side). They don't shy from violence or intimidation because, in many cases, those traits are inherent in their parent cultures.

These people are not extremists. They are purists, fundamentalists. They act and think exactly how their religion says they should. You know how many Christian fundamentalists we have in the United States, an advanced society with free, mass education? A fair amount. Now how many more did we have 200 years ago, when a 5th grade education was standard? Many more, right? The Bible was accepted by virtually everyone as literal truth. Now you have a rough idea of how many people in the Middle East are fundamentalist and see the Quran (those who can read it) as literal truth. A lot.

Only they don't feel the need to temper religious laws with temporal ones. Islam not just a religion, but also a political system. Theocracy is the only way to go. Despite your attempts to compare American Christians to Islamists, American Christians (as a group and certainly none that I've ever met) do not insist on the re-legalization of slavery or instituting 'eye for an eye' type punishments, or massacring captured cities, even though those examples exist in the Bible. But it's par for the course for Islamists to deny education or decision-making to women, or insist on execution by stoning those *suspected* of adultery. Why?

The same reason they do everything. Because God said so.

The 'progressive' idea that Islam, if practiced the way it was written, is fundamentally preaceful and as capable of co-existing with everyone else as any other religion is false. It really, honestly is. Those nice Muslim neighbors that you might have that don't act like the freaks on TV simply choose to ignore or at least de-emphasize such commands... but they still exist, and many, many Muslims take them seriously.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat Aug 26, 09:23:00 PM:

I think Dan-O is actually a lefty doing a parody of a righty. Nobody could really be THAT nuts, right?  

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