Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Future Of Islam II: Geller, Jasser, Hamid & Others

Wahhabi / Salafi Islam and the many schools of Islam it influences are incompatible with modern civilization and are on a violent collision course with all who are not Wahhabi Muslims. Can this dominant strain of Islam be challenged and defeated in the battlefield of ideas? In short, can Islam evolve? That is an existential issue. My own personal belief is that it can but the task is daunting. As discussed in the post below, Pam Geller believes that it cannot and, further, that there are no Muslim reformers who have a "theological leg to stand on." She has previously attacked Dr. Zhudi Jasser, a Muslim reformer, to make her point, and she does so again today.

To understand the parameters of this existential issue, you must understand the depth of influence Wahhabi / Salafi influence is having world wide, as well as the nature of that influence. While I outlined much about that nature in the post below, these videos do an exceptional job of highlighting both the depth of influence and the toxic nature of Wahhabi Islam.

This first video discusses how madrassas in Britain are being used to plant the seeds of separatism and hatred for non-Muslims in Britain's youth.

Much of the rest of the special deals with how the teachers at British madrassas don't spare the rod. You can find them on Youtube here.

(H/T Daily Gator)

Separatism and a much broader look at Wahhabi/Salafi toxic dogma being spread by Saudi Arabia through Britain and other schools of Islam can be found in this 2008 Channel 4 undercover expose:






Dr. Tawfiq Hamid is a Muslim reformer Ms. Geller seems to have missed when deciding that Islam is beyond evolution. Dr. Hamid is a Cairo born former terrorist who served under al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawhahiri. Eventually breaking with the group, Hamid issued the following warning:

Salafi indoctrination operates through written words and careful coaching. It is enormously seductive. It rapidly changed me into a jihadi. Salafi sacred texts exert a powerful influence on millions of Muslim followers throughout the world, and terrorism is only one symptom of the Salafi disease. Salafi doctrine, which is at the root of the West's confrontation with Islamism, poses an existential threat to us all - including Muslims.

Indeed, Salafism robs young Muslims of their soul, it turns Western communities against them, and it can end in civil war as Muslims attempt to implement shari'a in their host countries. A peaceful interpretation of Islam is possible, but the Salafi establishment is currently blocking moderate theological reform. The civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology.

Critically, Dr. Hamid believes that evolution of Islam into peaceful modernity is possible theologically, but that the salafi / wabbai establishment violently opposes any such effort:

It is unfortunate and disastrous that the theological underpinnings of Salafism are both powerful and prevalent in the approved, traditional Islamic books. These texts teach, moreover, that the Koran's later, more violent passages abrogate its earlier, peaceful ones. This concept, called nasikh wa-l-mansukh, has effectively diminished the influence of the peaceful verses.

When I discussed the implications of the violent passages with a few Sufi clergy, they suggested that one "should be good and peaceful to all mankind" and that "the understanding of the violent verses will be clarified on the day of judgment." These views were not based on rigorous Islamic eschatology, however, or on an objective analysis of the religious books.

They merely embodied a desired perception of Islam. My secular parents offered the same tolerant perspective, insisting that Islam is a religion of peace. But for me both responses were unsatisfactory because they suffered from the same problem - they were not theologically grounded. My difficulty was not resolved, and I continued to live with a complex dilemma.

My crisis of conscience was mostly internal, but I did share some of my doubts with my mother. On one occasion a fellow medical student named Abdul Latif Haseeb started a conversation with me about religion. We discussed whether it was right to kill apostates or stone women to death, as well as whether Muhammad could be considered a pedophile because he married the seven-year-old Aisha. We weighed the merits of declaring war on non-Muslims to spread Islam and agreed that it should be rejected because it is condoned only by supplemental Salafi books rather than by the Koran itself.

Haseeb belonged to a sect known as Koranist, which strictly adhered to the teachings of the Koran but rejected other writings. This opened my eyes. I was impressed that my new friend disagreed with many Salafi teachings. I also realized that Haseeb was not alone in his beliefs; his father and several mutual acquaintances shared the same ideas. They relied on new interpretations of the Koran and spurned the traditional Salafi textbooks.

They accepted and tolerated different views within Islam and, in most circumstances, had a peaceful analysis of the verses.

Haseeb invited me to join the sect, and I accepted his invitation in order to examine the Koranists' ideas more thoroughly. Though not without problems, the sect possessed at least some rigor and was more moderate than Salafism. It provided me with a protected sanctuary that allowed me to keep my identity as a Muslim while giving me the flexibility to reinterpret Koranic verses in a nonviolent way. The group counted among its members the liberal peace activist Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, whom I met on one occasion.

Mahmoud was later murdered in Sudan by exponents of Salafi doctrine for the crime of "apostasy" because his teaching clashed with theirs. I eventually built on the Koranists' ideas in developing a fresh understanding of the Koran that is compatible with the values of human rights and modernity.

By immersing myself in Salafi ideology, I was better able to judge the impact of its violent tenets on the minds of its followers. Among the more appalling notions it supports are the enslavement and rape of female war prisoners and the beating of women to discipline them. It permits polygamy and pedophilia. It refers to Jews as "pigs and monkeys" and exhorts believers to kill them before the end of days: Say: "Shall I tell you who, in the sight of God, deserves a yet worse retribution than these? Those [the Jews] whom God has rejected and whom He has condemned, and whom He has turned into monkeys and pigs because they worshiped the powers of evil: these are yet worse in station, and farther astray from the right path [than the mockers]" (Koran 5:60). Homosexuals are to be killed as well; to cite one of many examples, on July 19, 2000, two gay teenagers were hanged in Iran for no other crime than being gay.

These doctrines are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue: They are central to the faith and ethics of millions of Muslims, and are currently being taught as part of the standard curriculum in many Islamic educational systems in the Middle East as well in the West.

Moreover, there is no single approved Islamic textbook that contradicts or provides an alternative to the passages I have cited. It has thus become clear to me that Salafi ideology is what is largely responsible for the so-called "clash of civilizations." Consequently, I have chosen to combat Salafism by exposing it and by providing an alternative, peaceful and theologically rigorous interpretation of the Koran.

My reformist approach naturally challenges well-established Salafi tenets, and leads Muslims who follow Salafi Islam to reject me. Why? I have not altered the Koran itself. My system is simply one of inline commentary, in which dangerous passages are flagged and reinterpreted to be nonviolent. I have added these inline interpretations to key Koranic passages and examples of the commentary are freely and easily available.

For over 15 years I have tried to preach my views in mosques in the Middle East, as well as to my local community in the West, but have faced the unwavering hostility of most Salafi Muslims in both regions. Muslims who live in the West - who insist to outsiders that Islam is a "religion of peace" and who enjoy freedom of expression, which they demand from their Western hosts - have threatened me with murder and arson. I have had to choose between accepting violent Salafi views and being rejected by the overwhelming majority of my fellow Muslims.

Even though radical Islam began to reassert itself in the 1970s, it did not become widely pervasive until quite recently. In the early 1990s many people were intrigued by my ideas, and only a few militants threatened me with violence. One day, after I gave a peaceful Friday sermon, I walked home with a friend. To my surprise, several men ran up and threw stones at us from behind to intimidate me from returning and speaking in their mosques. As time has passed, this violent and threatening behavior has become more common: Dr. Wafa Sultan in the US, Abdul Fatah in Egypt and many others have received and continue to receive death threats. Recently, Dr. Nawal al-Sadawi, a liberal Muslim thinker and women's rights activist, was forced to flee Egypt because of her public statements. Dr. Rashad Khalifa was murdered in the United States after he published his own reinterpretation of the Koran which was less violent than was traditional.

In Egypt, Dr. Faraq Fuddah was shot to death after publishing condemnations of Jihadists. Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Najib Mahfouz was stabbed in the neck for writing his novel, Awlad Haretna, perceived by Salafists as blasphemous. The list goes on. . . .

What the juxtaposition of the videos and Dr. Hamid's quotes tell us is that there is a basis for seeking reform and evolution of Islam, but that it is a daunting task given the Wahhabi / Salafi influence on maddrassas and mosques world wide. That said, Pam Geller has continued her assault on Zhudi Jasser today in the American Thinker, in a piece entitled "Where Are All The Zhudi Jassers." Ms. Geller apparently needs to do a bit more research if she has missed Dr. Hamid and the people he mentions in the quote above. Indeed, it is clear that she knows of Dr. Hamid.

If Ms. Geller confined herself to Koranic arguments, that would be unobjectionable, and likely indeed to be helpful. If she thinks Jasser is whitewashing some aspects of Islam, then she does us all a service by making that particular argument. And it is notable that, at the conclusion of her post today, she concludes by saying:

I understand that everyone wants moderates or secular Muslims to be the silent majority, and Jasser gives them a much-needed face. But in order for Islam to reform itself, the truth about Islam must be made known by the civilized, and the genocidal, racist aspects of Islamic teaching must be rejected (like Nazism) and those who hold it forced under the weight of international pressure to reform.

I concur and, as my three readers can attest, I have been making that argument for years. This is an issue that cries out for free, open and very public debate. But when Geller continues to buttress her argument by delegitimizing Dr. Jasser as the face of all Muslim reformers, that is counterproductive at least, wholly repugnant at best. As I wrote below, either Islam evolves or war on a grand scale is inevitable. If we don't do all we can to assist the former, than we must be prepared for the latter.

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