Rifqa, Islam, and the Mainstream Media

Monday, August 24, AD 2009

Rifqa BaryYou may have heard by now of the case of Rifqa Bary who fled her Ohio home to Florida to escape her father’s grasp.  The reason being is that she converted to Christianity and her family are extremist Muslims.  Meaning that she will be put to death for being a kafir, or apostasizing from Islam.  This is in line with most mainstream Islamic jurisprudence (see the Koran verses such as 2:217 and 4:89) that calls for the death of a convert away from Islam.

Andrew Bostom of the American Thinker wrote an excellent piece concerning Rifqa Bary:

Rifqa Bary faces death for her apostasy from Islam, while the media ignores the solid religious and institutional grounding for the practice.

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2 Responses to Rifqa, Islam, and the Mainstream Media

  • We need to get people to stop believing in the Quran and the Hadiths; they aren’t the word of God and they are leading people astray as to what He requires from them. Islam as a religion needs to be dismantled.

    God Bless,


    September 1st is the fifth anniversary of the almost forgotten Beslan atrocity. The full story was never published at the time.

    In particular, the Islamic involvement was censored. The MSM never reported the child-rapes or other typically Islamic aspects, even though the children were being knifed to shouts of ‘Allah Akhbar’.

    The full uncensored story can be found in the links under ‘BESLAN – Child rape, torture and ritual murder’ at The Religion of Peace™ Subject Index

    Could all bloggers please help to spread the truth about this massacre to warn the public of the truly Satanic vileness of this predatory murder-cult.

Iran: Two Former Presidents Speak Out

Tuesday, July 21, AD 2009

Iran July 17, 2009

Many recent developments in Iran, all of them bad for the Iranian regime of Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader, with apologies to Fearless Leader of the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Khamenei.  Huge demonstrations rocked Iran on Friday with crowd estimates ranging from 100,000 to over a million in Tehran.    Repression, brutal as it has been, is simply not stopping the Resistance from taking to the streets once a week.

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6 Responses to Prayers requested for Bowe R. Bergdahl

  • Dear Lord, may he be rescued and returned to safety.

  • We are praying for your safe return home. The divine spirit is with you at this time. You are loved, cared for, and will continued to be flooded with the divine intervention.

  • Prayers on the way.

  • Bowe, when you come home, know that you were prayed for by so many people. You are in my thoughts and prayers constantly and as an American who also loves this country i want nothing more than to see you safely back home. I have prayed to St. Joseph for the good Lord to give you peace of mind. I have also prayed that Jesus would soften these terrorists hearts so they will release you and let you go home. Know that the whole nation loves you and we are behind you. God Bless You!!!!

  • God please watch over Pfc. Bowe R. Bergdahl and protect him from harm. Please lay your hand upon him and bring him home to Idaho safely and whole in body and mind. Please help his family find courage through your word.

  • Our Father who art in heaven, I lift up Bowe to You. Bless him, Lord. Be with him. And, please, bring him home unharmed. I ask this in Your precious son’s name, Jesus.

One Response to Iran: The Resistance Lives

Banned in Iran

Friday, June 26, AD 2009

A bit repetitious of Darwin Catholic’s earlier post on this subject, but I think this is a movie very much worth seeing.  Topical doesn’t begin to describe the film The Stoning of Soraya M. that is opening this weekend.  Starring Shohreh Aghdashloo and James Caviezel, and based on the novel of the same name, the film describes in harrowing detail the story of the stoning of a young bride in Iran.  I would like to be able to say that such things do not really occur under mullah-ruled Iran.  Alas, such stonings are very much a grim reality.  Worthy of a Monty Python skit, stonings have been defended by the head of the Iranian Judiciary’s Human Rights Committee.

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Blood in Iran

Thursday, June 25, AD 2009

On June 24, the Iranian regime learned a, to them ominous, lesson.  The protests continued in the face of savage brutality from the ruling mullahs.  Atlas Shrugs has first rate coverage here. Gateway Pundit here has been on top of this story from day one.  Ed Morrissey has coverage here of what happened when protesters march on the Parliament building in Tehran today:

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54 Responses to Blood in Iran

  • President Obama has failed in condemning the vote. He even offered invitations to Iranian officials to attend the 4th of July festivities in DC. Ironically none of the Iranians accepted and President Obama has withdrawn the invitations.

    It seems that Obama may have missed a golden opportunity to offer moral support to the protesters that are demanding change in Iran. The very same mantra that Obama campaigned on.

  • “The White House announced yesterday that it had withdrawn invitations to Iranian diplomats to attend Fourth of July festivities at U.S. embassies around the world. The move is the first tangible penalty the United States has imposed against the Iranian government in the wake of the brutal crackdown of demonstrations over the disputed presidential elections.”

    No Ballpark Franks! Tough penalty.

  • That’ll learn ’em from killing their own citizens. I bet they’re sorry now!

  • A proposal to de-friend Iranian diplomatic personnel on Facebook is presumably also under consideration.

  • If things get much more tense on the diplomatic front, expect Obama to pull out all stops and fart in Ahmadinejad’s general direction.

  • No Rick, that’s what the French do. Obama will blow smoke at them. Though it might be out of the same orifice.

  • The Iranian government is doing everything it can to suppress the image and symbol of Nedan Soltan – this from The Guardian:

    The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.

    Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said. …

  • What do you people think Obama should do that he hasn’t done already? Give a blustering speech about the “axis of evil”? Threaten the regime? Give the green light for Netanyahu to bomb them? Talk about the need for western-style democracy and freedom? Tell the people to rise up, just to be massacred, just as Bush the Elder did with the Iraqi Shia?

    Anything else? More generally, should he follow the advice of the same descredited neocons who promised a bed or roses in Iraq or the people who actually know something about Iranian history and politics? Just curious…

  • He should immediately announce Tony that there will never be negotiations on any questions with the regime in power in Iran, and lead a call for economic sanctions against the regime in Iran. He should also call for the freezing of Iranian assets in Western banks. He should make clear that business as usual with Ahmadinejad and his mullah puppet masters is over forever. In short, he should act like a President of the US rather than a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago.

  • A proposal to de-friend Iranian diplomatic personnel on Facebook is presumably also under consideration.

    I think it would be rather cowboyish to take such an extreme action without consulting the UN first.

  • More generally, should he follow the advice of the same descredited neocons who promised a bed or roses in Iraq or the people who actually know something about Iranian history and politics? Just curious…

    Here you go with these false dichotomies again…

    That said: I think it was a good example of the Obama administration’s blind spots that it took them so long to catch on to what was really going on in Iran. However, I don’t have any serious quibbles with what they’re doing now, and there’s not at this moment in time more that I think they should be doing.

    The fact of the matter is, the US has had sanctions against Iran for so long anyway that we don’t really have a hole lot of stick to threaten them with at this point even if it was the appropriate action. At this point, the appropriate action would be continuing to put a spotlight (which the regime is clearly very eager to avoid) on the violent oppression that’s going on there.

  • Another “expert” speaks out:

    Question: Obama aides told reporters there is little to nothing the U.S. can do. Is it demonstrating a weakness?

    SCOWCROFT: No I don’t think so. I don’t think so. How can we be more influential? We don’t control Iran. We don’t control the government obviously. There is little we can do to change the situation domestically in Iran right now and I think an attempt to change it is more likely to be turned against us and against the people who are demonstrating for more freedom and therefore I think we need to look at what we can do best, which is to try to influence Iranian behavior in the region, and with nuclear weapons.

  • Congratulations, Donald, you have just delivered a huge propaganda coup to the Iranian regime and undermined the very legitimacy of the protestors who seek to support. For now, Khamenei can rally the nation against the US aggressor, given the explicit threats against the regime.

    And anyway, haven’t we had 8 years of this approach? Did it even remotely work? No, it did not.

  • Actually the approach to Iran has been mostly a European/UN led model. Obama is just more of the same.

  • And yes it has not worked.

  • A huge propaganda coup…by reporting the information that their folks risk death to get out.

    Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

    It *doesn’t matter* to the liars if we do nothing– in case you didn’t notice, they already claimed we’re interfering. Obama could put on a cheerleader outfit, fly in and do a 30 minute “Yay, Iranian Dictator!” routine, and they’d *still* claim we were interfering to help the revolutionaries.

    God forbid we let it be known what the murderous thugs are doing, and say “this is wrong, you are wrong”.

    Me, I’m disgusted that the shooting on video of a lady wasn’t enough to get the Independence Day invites revoked, it took axe-attacks and a dead nine year old.

  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

  • I think Obama’s handling of the situation has been decent, though not great. He could have been more forceful earlier in condemning regime abuses, but the last thing we want is to make the protests about us rather than the fraud and repression in Iran.

  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

    Last I checked, incidents in which police accidentally shoot an unarmed man (of any skin color — though it gets talked about more if he’s a minority) get pretty wide attention.

    Though the distinction is, that’s almost invariably a case of the police mistaking (perhaps wrongly) someone for being a threat — while the Iranian militias and police are intentionally killing or beating large numbers of protesters.

  • Joe, I wished people got more outraged about this:


  • I wish more people got this outraged when US cops execute unarmed black men.

    How often does it happen in this country that an unarmed man is dispatched by police after the fashion of Nguyen Ngoc Loan?

  • I don’t know that anyone here is particularly outraged anyway. I mean, I’m interested in the story and pulling for the common man in Iran just as I would any other place, and I think what the government in Iran is doing is awful (even if not surprising). Maybe I’m alone it that, but I just can’t see others around here having the whole Iranian thing effect them at a deeply emotional level.

    However, I would suspect there would be a number of people who would rightly outraged if the story was about a cop executing a person, black, white or otherwise. Thing is, not that it couldn’t happen or hasn’t happened at some time here, but US cops executing someone is a very rare occurrence, and odds are it wouldn’t be something he was doing on behest of the government but through his own initiative.

  • Hey Dandy Don:

    What you want BO to do the US is already doing.


    It has worked wonders. Similar to the wonderful effects such sanctions have had against Sadam’s Iraq, Cuba, North Korea and the Sudan.

  • A great interview with Hooman Majd:http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/06/25/hooman_majd/index.html


    On the role of America:

    “People in the West, especially in America, tend to think we have more influence than we do. Iranians are more concerned with their own issues than whether the U.S. is with them or against them.”

    On American interference:

    “For the U.S. to get involved in any way is a huge mistake in my opinion. It makes Iranians very suspicious. One reason they were able to get 3 million people out on the streets from a broad socioeconomic spectrum across all political lines — you don’t get 3 million people on the streets of Tehran if they’re all students like in 2003 — is because the lower class, the middle class, the upper class, students, old people, families, religious families, women in chadors, men in beards, they all came out. These people also voted against Ahmadinejad or felt the vote wasn’t fair.

    At first, none of them would have believed that the U.S. had a hand in this. But the government is now trying to say that’s what’s happening. The story could start to stick if Obama or Western governments start coming out strongly on one side. Nationalism starts to come into play. The government’s own propaganda machine, which is pretty strong, will be able to label a lot of people in the opposition as being stooges of the CIA.”

    “I don’t know what the U.S. could even do, short of invading the country, which would be a disaster because you turn everybody against the United States and for the government. Other than to say it’s unacceptable for a government to kill its own people who are peacefully protesting, and to make that point strongly, I don’t know what else the U.S. should do.”

    On media stereotypes:

    “That the people who want change in Iran all want liberal democracy and reject the Islamic Republic. Many do reject it, but when the New York Times puts a big photo on Page One of tens of thousands of protesters and in the center of the photo is a woman with her scarf pushed to the back of her head with Chanel sunglasses and blond streaked hair I think it gives the wrong impression of who these protesters are. Yes, there are people like that but they would not have gotten 3 million people in the streets if that’s all who came. Those people are still a minority.”

    On the idiotic neocons (the best bit):

    “The neocons know nothing about Iran, nothing about the culture of Iran. They have no interest in understanding Iran, in speaking to any Iranian other than Iranian exiles who support the idea of invasions — I’ll call them Iranian Chalabis. It’s offensive, even to an Iranian American like me. These are people who would have actually preferred to have Ahmadinejad as president so they could continue to demonize him and were worried, as some wrote in Op-Eds, that Mousavi would be a distraction and would make it easier for Iranians to build a nuclear weapon and now all of a sudden they want to be on his side? Go away.

    I’m not saying Obama is the most knowledgeable person on Iran, but he’s obviously getting good advice right now. He understands way more about the culture of the Middle East than any of the neocons. For them to be lecturing President Obama is a joke. I have criticized Obama; for instance, I criticized him for having a patronizing tone in his Persian New Year message. But right now I think he’s doing a good job. The John McCains of the world, they’re Ahmadinejad’s useful idiots. They’re doing a great job for him.”

    Bottom line” McCain and the neocons are “Ahmadinejad’s useful idiots”. Indeed.

  • Economic sanctions are just a fancy way of saying don’t trade with oppressive regimes. I have no strong view on this one way or another, but is doing business with repressive regimes obviously morally preferable? Is it cooperation with evil? Can we just evaluate by consequences? Which consequences should guide us? North Korea? South Africa?

  • Christopher,

    The invitations were extended on June 2nd, before, and not in response to, Iran’s crackdown on protesters.

    I never said it was in response.

    It shows how naivette the Obama administration is.

  • MM,

    I’m with you on this one. I don’t think the Iranian people have forgotten that the CIA trained SAVAK.

  • Economic sanctions are just a fancy way of saying don’t trade with oppressive regimes.

    Economic sanctions are a fancy way of saying don’t trade with the Iranian people, i.e. the people protesting the regime, among others. It’s not clear to me why this should be seen as a good thing.

  • If you can think of a way to trade with the Iranian people without supporting their gov’t, I’m sure folks would be delighted to hear it.

  • MM,

    You seem rather unclear on the basic fact: Most “neo-cons” are supportive of what Obama is doing and saying now, they just think he should have caught on to it a few days sooner.

    The fact that you found an Iranian journalist who shares your view that neo-cons are all stupid doesn’t really mean anything. Plural of anecdote and all that. If it was simply a matter of posting, “An Iranian said this” anecdotes, I could provide you with several interviews with people inside Iran suggesting that the US take actions such as sanctions (a suggestion I don’t happen to agree with), but I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by going that route, and I’d thank you not to insult ours.

  • Just to piggyback a bit off of Darwin’s last comment, just yesterday I heard a phone interview with an Iranian woman who was begging for us “to do something.” She was obviously distraught, and I’m sure she’s not the only one to feel that way.

    To be sure that doesn’t mean that I think the US, specifically the President, ought to do more than what he has already done. But it’s just silly to cherrypick soundbites in at attempt to convey the general sentiments of all Iranian people towards the US and what they think we should be doing.

  • That said, the interview with Mr. Majd is interesting. He makes a good point about how the Iranian desire for a free and fairly functioning democracy is not necessarily at all in contradiction with their desire for a specifically Islamic state.

    Of course, that sort of situation is hardly news to the neo-cons you scorn, since they were involved in helping to set up two Islamic democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan — neither one of which is a secular country, and yet both of which have more freedoms and democratic process than most countries in the region.

  • If you can think of a way to trade with the Iranian people without supporting their gov’t, I’m sure folks would be delighted to hear it.

    It’s not clear to me that allowing trade with the Iranian people would involve supporting the regime. Sanctions allow the government to escape accountability for their economic blunders by blaming it on a foreign power. Castro has become a master of this tactic, and while I don’t know how much the mullahs rely on it in Iran, 30 years of sanctions hasn’t had much of an appreciable effect in hurting the regime. Trade tends to promote increased understanding between nations, and I imagine that the more trade there was between Iran and the U.S., the less likely people there would be to buy into the “Death to America” propaganda (certainly the use of western services like Twitter seems to have had a positive effect on events there).

  • “Trade tends to promote increased understanding between nations”

    England and Germany were trading quite a bit Blackadder before WWI, as were France and Germany actually. I see little historical evidence that trade does much to deter war. In regard to trade and oppressive regimes, the regime, Cuba is a notable example, uses the trade to prop itself up. One would have thought that China in 1989 would have put paid to the pleasant myth that increasing trade would lead to increasing civil liberties and political liberalization.

  • I see little historical evidence that trade does much to deter war.

    Evidence available here.

  • Darwin,

    Majd’s point is that the necons are as clueless about Iran as they were about Iraq, and are thus playing right into Ahmadi’s hands. For the same reason, I’ve always thought that George Bush and Osama Bin Laden helped each other in so many ways.

    As regards Iraq and Afghanistan, are you somehow hinting that the neocons were right?? And go tell the Iraqi Christians that they have more “freedom” now than under Saddam Hussein and see what they say.

    Another interesting comparison made by Majd relates to the 2000 US election — how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

  • http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/12/iraqi-christian-mp-we-will-go-to-church.html

    Shiite tribal leaders and Iraqi officials attend Christmas Day mass at Mary’s Daughters Monastery in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. This year, Christmas Day for the first time, declared an official holiday in Iraq.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen?

    With laughter, presumably. But it takes a rather tin ear to think that this is an apt comparison.

  • As regards Iraq and Afghanistan, are you somehow hinting that the neocons were right??

    Right in what regard?

    They removed a pair of pretty despicable governments in those two countries, and eventually (after some mismanagement and failure to plan for the post-war period that in both cases were irresponsible and inexcusable) established moderately stable democracies given the difficulties of the region.

    And go tell the Iraqi Christians that they have more “freedom” now than under Saddam Hussein and see what they say.

    Of course they have more freedom. The problem is, that political freedom when a certain percentage of your neighbors think you should convert of die is a mixed blessing.

    That said, you need to keep in mind that it was primarily the insurgents who were giving the Christians trouble. As that’s died down (due to the counter-insurgency tactics that your idol was so sure would not work, and McCain stuck his neck out to help get in place) the problem’s for Iraq’s Christians have reduced, though not vanished.

    In the end, you can place about as much blame on the neo-cons for the plight of the Christians in Iraq as you can on Mr. Majd, who says he supports the ideals of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, for the depressingly frequent human rights abuses (stonings, hangings, cutting off of hands, torture, etc.) in Iran.

  • Darwin, you seem to believe in the transformative power of bombs and guns, which is both dangerous and unChristian. You are hailing “moderately stable democracies”. What does that even mean? And was it worth the cost — the million or so deaths, the uprooting of a quarter of the population? of course, it’s easy to talk about “democracy” when the war is reduced to one great “support our troop” video game for the 24 hour news cycle. No, Iraqi Christians were better protected, and enjoy greater security, under Saddam Hussein. Bishop Warduni of Baghdad said as much. I have no idea whether its future will be more or less secure, and neither do you, but I can say with certainly that the cost was too great.

  • Really, the thing that strikes me more than anything else about your reaction to this, MM, is that it’s kind of sad that for so many progressives, opposition to the Iraq War has metastasized into an instinctive reaction against any kind of movements towards political reform or freedom in any Muslim country. Because neo-cons talked (at times with foolish idealism) about a “universal urge towards freedom” and talked about spreading “freedom and democracy” in the Islamic world, a great many progressives now seem to be instinctively against any move towards democracy and freedom in the Islamic world, since that would cut against the “freedom and democracy aren’t in their culture and they don’t want us” argument which so many accepted in their efforts to oppose the war.

    You’re very much right that the protests in Iran are not “about the US”. But the thing that you don’t quite seem able to get is that conservatives don’t see them as “about the US” either. However, a lot of Americans instinctively root for democracy and freedom for other people even when it has nothing to do with us. That’s really what you’re seeing here, and forgive me for saying so, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. It’s a virtuous instinct to wish the good for others — and since many Americans see democracy and freedom from oppression as good things, they wish that for other people.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen?

    Probably the same way we reacted to all American loones who claimed Bush stole the election or said they would leave the country, yet never did. That was a sad state of of affairs and quite an embarrassment for our country, but I doubt the Iranians joining in with the likes of Alec Baldwin would have added much more to our shame.

  • You are hailing “moderately stable democracies”. What does that even mean? And was it worth the cost — the million or so deaths, the uprooting of a quarter of the population? of course, it’s easy to talk about “democracy” when the war is reduced to one great “support our troop” video game for the 24 hour news cycle.

    I’ve never talked in a fashion that suggests I think war is a video game, and in your honest moments I’m sure you know that. War is a horrible tragedy — but it is at times necessary as our pope has observed in the past. You and I disagree on whether ridding Iraq of the Baathist dictatorship was worth a war, but that doesn’t mean that I take war itself lightly.

    We both know the stats you cite are almost certainly bogus, but that’s beside the point.

    No, Iraqi Christians were better protected, and enjoy greater security, under Saddam Hussein. Bishop Warduni of Baghdad said as much. I have no idea whether its future will be more or less secure, and neither do you, but I can say with certainly that the cost was too great.

    We both also know that just because a murderous regime happens to favor (or at least ignore) Catholics and inflict suffering on other groups instead does not necessarily mean that it’s a good thing. There were, sadly, Catholic clergy who thought the Ustashi was just swell. I assume you don’t agree…?

  • Another interesting comparison made by Majd relates to the 2000 US election — how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

    I think most Americans would have neither noticed nor cared.

  • how would Americans have reacted if the Iranian leadership had taken sides during the Florida recount, or threatened not to recognize Bush if he was chosen? I think most Americans, on all sides, would have told them to butt out.

    How can anybody draw such a false and even risible comparison as this one?

    You hardly see (at least, these days) the cruel slaughtering of innocent Americans as the result of some sham election.

    It is that very detail that most in the world are wont to pay attention to (indeed, even quite understandably given the heinous circumstances) as regarding the whole bloody Iran murder spree currently taking place in that horrible country.

  • I don’t think anyone questions the brutality and horror of what is going on in Iran, and only the most obtuse person would think for a moment that Obama or the administration or the American people are wholly indifferent to it.

    However, the question of whether or not official, explicit statements denouncing the Iranian government and supporting the demonstrators are the right thing to do, or whether they would simply make us feel good about “speaking out” while worsening the situation for the actual people putting their lives on the line over there, is a legitimate question of prudence, about which reasonable and moral people can disagree.

    If I understand correctly, in some ways, the dilemma facing the Obama administration now somewhat resembles the dilemma Pope Pius XII faced during World War II — he believed (with good reason) that loudly denouncing the Nazis for persecuting Jews would do nothing to stop them from persecuting Jews, and would only make them start attacking Catholics as well. That is where the false and distorted notion of him being “Hitler’s Pope” got started.

  • “If I understand correctly, in some ways, the dilemma facing the Obama administration now somewhat resembles the dilemma Pope Pius XII faced during World War II — he believed (with good reason) that loudly denouncing the Nazis for persecuting Jews would do nothing to stop them from persecuting Jews, and would only make them start attacking Catholics as well. That is where the false and distorted notion of him being “Hitler’s Pope” got started.”

    With the crucial difference Elaine that there was no chance that a popular revolt would topple Hitler. There is a chance that the mullahs may be toppled. Additionally, considering the fact that the Iranian regime is killing the protesters anyway in order to hold on to power, I think their level of ferocity will not be increased by condemnation from the West.

  • Well, there is also another key distinction in that by engaging in such ostensibly diplomatic efforts, Pius XII sought (and did quite successfully on that occasion) to help persecuted Jews on the sidelines.

    Unfortunately, I see none of that (as far as I can tell) from the Obaman administration.

  • e., I am certain that Elaine’s comment had absolutely nothing to do with you.

    As to Tony’s pet expert on Iran, Hooman Madj, this is the same fellow who in January 2008 accused the Pentagon of manufacturing an incident between the US Navy and the Revolutionary Guards in the Gulf.


    His background also seems to be in the entertainment industry:

    “Hooman Majd has had a long career as an executive in the music and film businesses. He was Executive VP of Island Records, where he worked with a diverse group of artists including U2, The Cranberries, Tricky and Melissa Etheridge; and Head of Film and Music at Palm Pictures, where he executive-produced James Toback’s “Black and White” and Khyentse Norbu’s “The Cup” (Cannes 1999).”

    His family fled from Iran in 1979, unwilling to live under the rule of the mullahs. He has had a fairly benign view of Ahmadinejad, serving as his interpreter during Ahmadinejad’s rant at the UN last year. Take anything this guy says about the current situation in Iran with a boulder of salt.

  • If you are participating in the Iranian Riots or know someone who is and wish to remain safe? Let me help by showing you how to distinguish between those who are angry and those who are lethal. http://www.aggressionmanagement.com/Riots-in-Iran.htm

  • No, e., that comment had nothing to do with you. I should have emphasized, in case anyone misunderstood, that I was NOT in any way attempting to compare Obama to Pope Pius XII in character or wisdom, but simply pointing out a possible parallel between political situations they were up against.

    As for potential behind-the-scenes diplomatic or other efforts to aid the Iranian dissidents, it might simply be too soon to tell what, if anything, the administration or other countries might be doing or planning in that regard. We may not find out about such efforts until months or even years from now.

  • Actually, I was referring to this remark: “…only the most obtuse person would think for a moment that Obama or the administration or the American people are wholly indifferent to it.”

    No biggee though; there are greater concerns in the world (such as the blatant injustices occurring in Iran and the atrocious murderering of innocent people) than a mere overly sensitive ego.

    God bless all. The Weekend is finally upon us!

Pity and Fear

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

Aristotle taught that the purpose of tragedy is to inspire pity and fear in the audience, thence causing catharsis, a purging of emotion. I’ve always found his explanation of tragedy compelling, but as I get older (queue laughter at the thirty-year-old getting “older”) I find that I want to achieve catharsis much less than I used to. Not that my life is layered in tragedy or anything, indeed, far from it. But somehow, one just doesn’t feel as much like seeking out pity and fear at thirty as at twenty.

This has been running through my head as I’ve been reading about The Stoning of Soraya M.

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One Response to Pity and Fear

Neda Agha-Soltan: "The Voice of Iran"

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

  • In a Death Seen Around the World, a Symbol of Iranian Protests, by Nazila Fathi (New York Times):

    Only scraps of information are known about Ms. Agha-Soltan. Her friends and relatives were mostly afraid to speak, and the government broke up public attempts to mourn her. She studied philosophy and took underground singing lessons — women are barred from singing publicly in Iran. Her name means voice in Persian, and many are now calling her the voice of Iran.Her fiancé, Caspian Makan, contributed to a Persian Wikipedia entry. He said she never supported any particular presidential candidate. “She wanted freedom, freedom for everybody,” the entry read.

  • Family, friends mourn Neda Agha-Soltan, Iranian woman whose death was caught on video, by Borzou Daragahi (Los Angeles Times). Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, ‘was a beam of light’ and not an activist, friends say. The video footage of her bleeding to death on the street has turned her into an international symbol of the protest movement.
  • In Iran, One Woman’s Death May Have Many Consequences, by Robin Wright. (Time) – Neda is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shi’ism. With the reported deaths of 19 people on June 20, martyrdom provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran’s regime.

On the protests in Iran, see also From Tehran’s Streets: Hope and Rage – A Photo essay from LIFE Magazine. (NOTE: The Tehran-based photojournalist who made these pictures is now missing).

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10 Responses to Neda Agha-Soltan: "The Voice of Iran"

Iran: Protest Becomes Insurrection

Sunday, June 21, AD 2009

Rioting in Tehran Saturday is shown in the above video.  Protests are quickly developing into an insurrection.  The Iranian government is using brutal force to suppress the dissidents, but reports from Iran clearly indicate that the situation is moving well beyond the ability of the government to suppress it without massive bloodshed.  The Guardian has an hour by hour account of the events yesterday here.  Nico Pitney here has been doing yeoman work in covering the crackdown at the Huffington Post.  Ed Morrissey here has been doing his usual fine work covering breaking events at Hot Air.

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3 Responses to Iran: Protest Becomes Insurrection

  • Good words from Obama. A little late, but I’m very glad to see him doing the right thing.

  • I agree with Darwin, Obama is arriving late to the scene. I guess he figured out that being “present” doesn’t help your poll numbers.


    In #4, that is crucial that the army hasn’t been deployed. Only the Revolutionary Guard and their militia are loyal to the regime.

    I pray this doesn’t turn into a shooting war but into a Soviet meltdown when that coup against Gorbachev failed.

  • Obama’s comments just go to show his clear ignorance of the islamic faith. It has always ruled through coercion going all the way back to it’s “prophet.” Obama’s words mean nothing to any of these people. He has no spine to either give real help to the resistance or to out-right condemn the lunatics who rule the country.

Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

Wednesday, May 6, AD 2009

I just finished reading Thomas F. Madden’s Empires of Trust: How Rome Built–and America Is Building–a New World, and I’m planning to write a couple posts shortly reviewing the book and the ideas it presents. As a prelude of sorts, however, I’d like to revisit some thinking I did a while back:

A month or so ago I finally had the chance to read Steven Vincent’s account of life outside the green zone in post-war Iraq: In The Red Zone. It’s a very fair book, and worth a read whether you support the war in Iraq or not. The author, since then killed in Iraq by militants, was a New York art reporter who watched the attacks on 9-11 and supported the Iraq war. Having supported the war, he felt like he should go over and see what was really happening over there. The book has the advantage of being writing from a culture writer’s point of view rather than a political writer’s. And although Vincent starts out as an enthusiastic supporter of the project, he ends unsure whether it’s possible for democracy to flourish in Iraq. (I’d be curious to read later work by him and see what he thought of the elections and the provisional constitution, both of which post date his book.)

This reminded me of my long held intention to read more about Islam, so I pull off the shelf the copy of Living Islam(now apparently out of print) by Ahbar S Ahmed which I’d bought on remainder some nine years ago and had been meaning to read ever since. Living Islam is half cultural history, half apologia (think a very, very light weight version of Letters To A Young Catholic with lots of pictures and basic intro information.)

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32 Responses to Conservative Catholicism And Liberal Islam

  • Great post, and it gets to the heart of what has puzzled me as well. For instance, in reading Mark Steyn’s America Alone, I certainly agreed with his analysis about the dim prospect of Europe’s future based on the influx of (for lack of a better term) radical Muslims. Yet at the same time we’re trying to instill a democracy in a Muslim state that would be dominated by those very forces. (Of course we can get into all sorts of side debates about whether the war in Iraq was useful in other respects, and whether or not democratization ought to be a goal of our foreign policy, etc. Hopefully this thread will remain on point and not delve into those issues for now).

    Similarly, I often see Muslim “dissidents” on the likes of O”Reilly and other conservative talk shows. I forget the most prominent one, but I’m sure you all know I am talking about – she’s a Muslim female that’s written several books critical of Islam. But I can’t help thinking that I’d be pretty annoyed if Richard McBrien was on a talk show in Saudi Arabia peddling the same talking points, only in support of moderating Catholicism. Like Darwin, I tend to favor the more orthodox members of any religious group, but there’s a tension in trying to promote Islamic orthodoxy while also hoping for a freer and more democratic climate in such places.

  • Good post Darwin.

    Islam may simply be incompatiable with our Western institutions. Bruce Bawer and Spengler are worth a look here.



  • It’s a thorny issue. On the one hand, I don’t care at all about whether Muslims are more ‘orthodox,’ if being ‘orthodox’ means denying human rights. In that case, the more unorthodox the better from my perspective. But I hope this isn’t the case. The world would be a better place if, as in Christianity and Judaism, orthodox Islam was compatible with respect for human rights, or required it.

  • It’s a tough question, and I don’t know that there is a solution, apart from clear-eyed pragmatism. Essentially, work with the various forms of Islam where it advances the common good (as understood in Catholic terms) and let the rest of the chips fall where they may. I agree that holding up, say, an Irshad Manji as an exemplar of Islamic thought won’t get you any traction in the greater Islamic world, never mind her qualities as a thinker or writer. It’s of a par with my reading of some well-meaning ignoramus’ suggestion in the immediate post-9/11 aftermath that the works of Mustapha Kemal be translated into Arabic as part of a reform effort. Um, no.

    We don’t have much say with if or how Islam will make the necessary adjustments to modernity, much less put our imprimatur on a particular approach (I know that’s not what you’re suggesting). That’s really up to them, and all we can do is react to it.

  • Darwin,
    I think there’s another category of Muslim beyond the secular ones lauded by Fox News and the conservatives who don’t really accept human rights. I would argue Islam doesn’t need Luther of Spong, it needs to replace fundamentalism with Resourcement and aggiornamento, and there are scholars, some more liberal, some more conservative, engaged in that. Tariq Ramadan, in Switzerland, is probably the most prominent, although he still doesn’t move far enough to the “individual human rights and dignity” model we’d like to see take hold in Islam. Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA seems to be on a similar project and more amenable to thoughtful Western religious conservatives.

    The French scholar Olivier Roy, in his book The Globalization of Islam argues that most of the currents we see in Islam, from the Salafism of bin Laden to the modern Islam of Ramadan, are the result of Islam taking on a more Western model. Rather than being a religion primarily about communal norms and practices, at it was traditionally, it has absorbed the Western focus on the individual achieving salvation. For the Salafists, that means individuals trying to live according to strict imitation of Muhammad and his early followers. For others, it’s developing new habits of prayer, scriptural study, moral casuistry (like the modern phenomenon of Islamic banking), evangelization. I’ve heard Roy originally wanted to call his work “The Christianization of Islam” but that was too controversial. It seems to me that this focus on individual salvation may prepare Islam for a personalism grounded in its tradition and scripture, although I don’t know enough about either to ascertain how certain that is. If it is possible, it would mean Christianity (particularly the Catholic Church) needs to engage with Muslims in the West to encourage this possibility, and both need to make more connections with institutions in the Muslim world to encourage it. One way to start would be for Western Muslims like Abou el Fadl to have a greater role training the Ulama, Islam’s authorities on Sharia. Until there’s someone like John Courtney Murray in a majority-Muslim country, and he’s accepted rather than persecuted, ostracized, or silenced, I don’t know when that might be possible though.

    Also, some of the sufi groups, in Turkey particularly but also in W. Africa and maybe South and Central Asia, seem to have a model for Islam that may be open to a humanist or personalist outlook.

  • Islam has never developed the concept of Mosque and State. Islam is the state. The Church, spending the initial three centuries usually in opposition to the Roman Empire, has often allied herself with the state, but the division between Church and State has always been a fact of life in the West. All states in Muslim areas are illegitimate to the extent that they deviate from the rule that Islam is the state. Kemal Ataturk in Turkey accomplished a miracle by defying this. Whether this miracle will prove viable long term over centuries is very much in doubt. I hope, for our own security, that we will see more regimes like Turkey and now Iraq, but based upon the history of Islam I am pessimistic.

  • Darwin,

    Excellent post.

    In my opinion it will be nearly impossible to find a form or strand of Islam that would be able to engage the world in a positive manner and share the same views on human rights as Jews, Christians, and Buddhists view them.

    In Islam God is absolutely transcendent which leaves no room at all for the individual. The identity of the individual emanates from God, hence the individual is an instrument rather than having any autonomy whatsoever in the Judeo-Christian sense. The individual in Islam has a reality, but it is contingent upon God.

    Hence the notion of human rights in the West never came to fruition in Islam. An excellent example is the radical notion of a nation-state which is completely absent in Islam. Not until the 20th century has this notion taken hold in Islam. The Ottoman Empire is a continuation of Mohammad’s empire that united the Arabian peninsula. Ask any Muslim in most countries, especially in a Muslim dominated country, and their answer is they are Muslim first, Turk, Persian, Arab second.

    A faulty parallel in the west would be communism or fascism, where the state supersedes the individual. So it is in Islamic theology that God supersedes absolutely every detail of life. Hence why the other notion of ‘Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar, render unto God that which is God’s’ never existed in Islam. The notion of separation of Mosque and State is alien to Muslims. To think politically is identical to as to think theologically. Not even the ‘model Muslim’ country of Turkey is immune. They declare a purely secular state, yet the government funds the building of mosques and the training of preachers.

    So this leaves us the conundrum of what model in Islam can we engage that will benefit both societies? Sadly, there is no model.

    Though there is hope. The Sufi form of Islam is quite engaging and more humanistic than what the Sunni’s, Shiite’s, and Salafists have to offer.

    There is no Bishop Spong, no Martin Luther, but possibly an aggiornamento in the likes of Khaled Abou el-Fadl at UCLA as Zach pointed out. Though it’s going to be a slow process that may take decades if not centuries for a more humanistic form of Islam to emerge.

  • May peace be upon you.
    I am a Muslim and let me explain certain things about Islam that you westerners don’t quite get along with.

    First of all, what basic human right that Islam doesn’t encourage?We are talking about education, the right to inherit, free speech, and such. I gotta tell ya, it’s al inscripted inside the very words of the Quran.

    Alright let me tell you some thing, in case you don’t know, the first revelation of the Holy Quran is about learning. It goes ,

    “Read, in the name of the God who created”

    The first word is about learning. So it is clear that Islam promotes learning to all mankind. Not just to men, but also unto women. In fact, Prophet Muhammad once said that learning is compulsory upon Muslim (men) and Muslimah (women). There is no restriction for women to learn, to gain knowledge. They have just the same right as men does.

    I guess for you to find a true scholar from an Islamic country to get to know what is it all about with Islam. And dont get mixed up traditional rights and cultural views. Coz most of your misunderstanding and misconception derives from the very misleading cultural rites that doesn’t belong to Islam.

    I am a Malaysian. I am a Muslim. And in Malaysia we don’t really had any major argument with the people of other faiths especially the Christians.They respect our religion as well as we respect theirs.

    In Islam, we need to believe in the earlier prophets before Muhammad (peace be upon him).And that includes our Prophet Jesus Christ (Isa Al-Masih ibn Maryam) and Prophet Moses (Musa).If we don’t believe in any one of these Prophets, our Faith in Islam wouldn’t be whole.

    Also, we have to believe in the earlier Books which are the Bible (Injeel) revealed upon Jesus Christ the Prophet and Torah (Taurat) revealed unto Moses.

    Islam encourages its follower to speak up their mind. But also, in Islam we have our own guidance of doing so.We cannot say something that is not truth as in lying, and spreading rumours. It is forbidden in Islam. Islam is all about saying the truth.

    And when you say that Islam doesn’t allow its followers to choose the way they want to lead their lives as in what to wear, to drink, to socialize etc, that is because in Islam, if you were to live in te Faith, then you have to follow every rites and rules.You cannot choose what to follow and what not to follow.if you are a Muslim, you have to follow every single thing.That’s why we don’t recognize any form of “LIberal Islam” because there is no such thing! It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    Believe me, in Islam, every single rules and rites has its own explaination and benefits. See, I am not a pious man, I am not an Ulama or Imam, but I strongly believe and have faith in my religion that is Islam and I am proud with it.

    It is not fair for you westerners to judge our religion as you are not a part of it. If you really are looking for the truth, you should be honest with yourself and be fair.try to confer to any world renowned Ulamas or Imams.

    I take it that you too have strong and firm believe in your faith.so you shouldn’t be scared if the truth is all you are looking for.

    You sure know about our politician Anwar Ibrahim right?He is an example of a well-rounded Muslim. He lives by his faith in the religion and is a successful figure in the world.

    We Malaysians are not blessed with oil wealth like most Islamic countries especially the Arabs.But we do well with our economic models and social interaction with our fellow non – Muslims Malaysians. How do we suppose to do that if our religion is so intolerants and barbaric as you westerners portray?

    Again, I suggest you to have a dialog, or conference with Muslim leaders in the world, who can give you detailed explaination about this religion of our own.
    We used to have Benazir Bhutto,and we still have our own Anwar Ibrahim and Hasanal Bolkiah (Sultan of Brunei). If you come to Malaysia, you’ll get alot of informations and figures to confer so that you can have an extended knowledge about Islam.

    Again, I suggest for you to be fair and just when you are commenting about other people’s religion.

    Thanks for your time and space.

    May peace be upon you.

  • I agree with Mr Tito.
    Thus the conclusion is, just leave us with our own religion as we do unto yours.
    We never argue about yoru religion. We never comment what you are doing in the Churces.
    Why should you ever be so jealous with our state of religious believe?
    Islam is Islam. Christianity is Christianity.
    There shoudn’t be any argument from both sides of the world.

  • Kamarul,

    Thanks for joining us. One question I have. How do you seen Islam and Christianity working together where the two religions exist side by side? How do we resolve conflicts between the two?

  • Mr. Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for participating in this discussion. I share some of your views from a Christian point of view.

    I believe we as Christians (most of us anyway) do not want to change Islam. What we would like, as Phillip noted, how do we work together in order to be able to live side by side in peace and harmony? How do we resolve conflicts when they arise?

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    First, I’d like to thank you very much for taking the time to provide us with such a lengthy explanation. I think it’s always fruitful when believers are able to explain their religious beliefs to each other without in the process compromising or watering-down their faiths.

    In Catholicism we use a Latin phrase meaning “peace be upon you” which is, “Pax vobiscum”. The response to this is, “Et cum spiritu tuo” or “And with your spirit”. So if I may respond thus to your kind greeting:

    Et cum spiritu tuo

    As I hope I expressed clearly, being someone who believes strongly in the importance of the true interpretation of Christianity, I naturally sympathize with those who take their own faiths seriously within other faiths. Yet at the same time, I as a Catholic and you as a Muslim hold different beliefs about what is God’s will. So for instance, when you say:

    It is either you choose to be a Muslim or not.AND once you already a Muslim, you cannot simply quitting the religion just like that. Muslims are very adhere to their religion. Someone who chooses freely to quit from being a Muslim is a major sinner!Thus he should be killed. And as a non- Muslim, you cannot argue about this because it is not your religion.To us Muslims, it is revealed by God himself, so we have to adhere.Just as you are with your religion right?

    I find myself in disagreement, because as a Catholic I of course believe that it would be a good thing if a Muslim did indeed quit being a Muslim and became a Catholic. Just as, I am sure, you would believe it would be a good thing if I quit being a Catholic and became a Muslim; and in that sense if Catholics held that someone who quit being a Catholic should be killed, you would think that was a bad thing — because as a good Muslim you would see a Catholic becoming a Muslim to be a good thing, not a sin, and thus clearly not worthy of death.

    So I think it is in these kind of areas where we run into tensions. Clearly, as a Catholic, I can’t see it as good if Muslims were to execute a Muslim man who became Catholic, and in that sense I’d see it as a good thing if Muslims took a more “liberal” approach to that law. Not as a matter of offense to Muslims, but because with our different faiths we have different beliefs as to what God’s will is.

    Thank you again for your comment.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Paul,
    I’m guessing you’re thinking of Ayan Hirsi Ali, though she’s by no means the only female Muslim dissenter out there.

  • Yeah, cminor, she’s the one I was thinking of.

  • Salam Aalay Kum Warahmatu-Lah,

    There is no way a truthful Muslim would compromise his religion just to conform with modernity.
    And by modernity means, something that is created out of logical thinking. Yes, to be logic, one shoudn’t be killed just because he chooses to quit from his original religion.This is logic, and this is what modern thinking is.

    But to us Muslims, what we human create is not for eternity. It will not be relevant in another hundred years. But what God sent to us, what God has revealed upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), will always be relevant and beneficial to all humankind, not just Muslims, till the Judgment Day.

    And for a Muslim, if he or she commit sins, it is favourable for them to be punished here according to Islamic Crime Law (Hudud)rather than to be punished later in the Judgment Day by God Himself because the punishment would be unbearable.So you see in most conservative Islamic country such as in Saudi, Iran and Afghanistan where they practice this Hudud Law, their crime rate is very low compared to other secular country.This can eventually discipline the people of the country.

    But if we take it logically, we would say, are they insane???to whip an adulterer 100 times?to amputate a thieve?this is barbaric!!!this is against human rights, we would say.

    but again, if human rights we are fighting for, we shouldn’t be unfair. we have to cater to all kind of human rights.some people would say it is a woman’s right not to wear hijab (covering their hair and most part of their body), but what about a man’s right not to look at those parts?are we willing to sacrifice any of these rights?i wouldn’t say so.

    In Islam, it is the right for men to lead a congregation prayer like Friday prayer.
    It is the right for women to take care of the house and the children.
    You, as logical thinking westerners might look at this as somewhat discriminating, but to us Muslims, it is not. It is our right!

    In Islam, a mother who constantly has to bear the hotness of the stove just because she is preparing meals for the family is guaranteed a place in the heaven.
    In Islam, a wife who willingly let her husband to marry another woman is guaranteed a golden umbrella and a throne during the Judgment Day where everybody would be assembled at an Assembly Field named Mahsyar in a very hot weather that the Sun is like only one inch from the heads.
    In Islam, the blessing of Allah (God) lies on the Blessing of the parents. And the status of a Mother is three times higher than the father.
    These are the rights in Islam. Basic human rights that we are talkiing about.

    Islam doesn’t cater to only human rights on this world of the day. Islam also caters to human rights in the Day After.This is what Islam is all about, to gain happiness and peace in this world, and in the world after.

    but we wont force these believe upon other people of other religions.so why shouldnt other people of other religions want to force their believe on us?

    In the Quran there’s a Phrase (Surah) which tells that the Non-Believers will always force their religion on Us the Muslims. and to them we shall say,

    “O ye non-believers!I don’t worship what you worship!
    ANd you also not worship what I worship!ANd I (again) don’t worship what you worship!And you (again) not worship what I worship!For you your religion, and for me mine!”

    May Peace be Upon You

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    You describe a number of ways in which Islam challenges the human rights notions of the West, but when you say, to Muslims, this is the way, or Muslims believe this, I must ask, according to who? Which school of jurisprudence (Madhab) should Muslims rely on? The Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, who belongs to the Shafi’i school which is the most priminent Madhab in Malaysia, has argued that it is not permissible to execute a Muslim who converts to Christianity (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7355515.stm). It is only certain Hadith, and not the Quran, which says apostasy should be punished with death, and the Quran says that “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:257). So I don’t understand the basis on which you can assert clearly that Islam says that someone who leaves Islam to become Christian must be killed.

  • I think Zak makes an important point, but even assuming it to be the case that Islam clearly states that apostates must be executed and theives must have their hands cut off, the disconnect here is that Catholics and Muslims have very different ideas of what God’s will is in regards to these matters.

    Clearly, if a Muslim believes that is God’s will that someone who leaves Islam and becomes Christian be killed, and if as a Catholic I believe that it is God’s will that that Muslim become Christian, then from my point of view if I did not attempt to twart that Islamic justice I would be violating God’s will. I’m not sure if perhaps this is different in Islam, but from my point of view as a Catholic God’s will applies to all people, not just members of one religion. So the fact that something is according to the tenets of Islam does not put it beyond the realm of critique. (I would assume that it is the same for you, that if as a Catholic I wanted to do something you believed was contrary to God’s will you’d see it as best to stop me.)

    And since I’m not really in a position to say what Islam should say from an internal perspective, I’m likely to look most kindly on those interpretations of Islam which clash least with my own understanding of God’s will.

    I don’t necessarily see an easy way around these difficulties, as we have very different ideas about God’s revelation to humanity. However it’s unquestionably a very good thing that we are able to discuss these things calmly and with charity towards each others beliefs.

    Pax vobiscum.

  • Dear friends, People of the Book,

    I think in trying to get the ultimate decision on how do we built that bridge which can link both the world of Islam and the Western Institution is by respecting each others rights and believes.

    We certainly never force our believe to the people who are not of the same faith. Thus, we expect others to treat us the same as well.

    About the differences of Mazhab (jurisprudence), they are different in interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith only. The fundamental beliefs are still the same. The situation is just the same like in Christianity, where you have Catholics, Methodist, Protestants, Seventh Day Adventist and such. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Islam does not against any religions. In fact, during the reign of the Caliphate Al Rashidun, to the Abbasids, Umaiyyads, Fatimids, and the Ottomans, other religions are still flourished and secured, even when they were ruled by an Islamic Caliphate.In fact, even when we are labeled to be anti-Semitic, the Jewish people were treated accordingly under the rule of the Islamic Caliphate.It is not the Muslims, who initiate Hollocaust, if there were any.

    Yes, in the Quran, it is stated that there is no compulsion in religion.I beg you not to take this out of context because it means that if the people doesn’t want to accept Islamic teaching, then it is ok. Just as I said earlier, we have never force our religious belief unto other people of other religions.

    And for your information, what the Mufti of Egypt was saying is about the People of the Book. Which means the original believers of the faith that was brought by Prophet Moses and Jesus Christ.These people are considered to be believers of the same faith as Islam.
    I am sorry if my words would hurt you but in our point of view, the religion of Judaism and Christianity nowadays have been corrupted by some people with certain interests. Again, I apologize for that matter.

    Again, I would like to express here that Islam are not against any other religions. I have stated earlier that “For you your religion, and for me mine”.Thus, we expect with high gratitude that people of other religion would respect us, as much as we do respect them.

    The problem we face nowadays between the Islamic world and the Western cultures would not arise if both parties respect and embrace each others opinions and beliefs.We should not take that any of our ides as greater, or supreme than the other one. We should not see it from only one side of perspectives.

    To be honest. we Muslims despise the hedonist culture brought by Western Cultures. But we never condemn them as to attack any of these Western countries just because what they believe (total free speech and free will).

    And I would like to disassociate Islam with terrorism, which has been promoted by the Western media upon us.
    Islam is not Al-Qaeda. Islam is not Abu Sufyan.
    Islam is peace.Yes, Allah allows us to fight our enemies, and to be in war with our enemies, but there are actually guide lines to doing so. If we are in a war, we are not suppose to kill children, women, old folks, religious people in any home of worships,surrendered people, people without arms, livestocks, trees, animals and such. We are not allowed to ruin places of worship, regardless of any religion they are belong to.We are just required to fight those people who would not surrender, who fought us ( the armies). We are not suppose to harm civilians.

    We are not Al-Qaeda. We are not Abu Sufyan. We are not the Talibans.

    But we certainly support those people who fights because of protecting their home, their land, their country.In Islam, it is a major sin if we fled the battlefield while fighting for our home and country.
    Patriotism is highly regarded in Islam.

    But I should warn the West not to put us under pressure. We are peace loving people, but as peaceful as we are, we certainly would retaliate if we were attacked!Just as any civil society would do if their home and country being attacked for whatever reasons!

    Thus, I call for all people to unite regardless of what religion you belong to, because the bottom is we are all humans. And humanity should be upheld in whatever conditions.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace Be Upon You.

  • Kamarul Azhar: Thank you for joining in this conversation. I would like to know how Islam honors Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as you probably know is also very important to Catholics. It is my understanding that Mary is mentioned in the Quran, and that the Prophet himself said she was one of the most blessed women in Paradise.

    Many years ago I was told that devotion to Mary was something Catholics and Muslims had in common and might help bring about peace between the two faiths. Do you, as a Muslim, believe this is possible?

    Thank you, and peace be upon you!

  • Dear Ms Krewer,

    Yes, we do honor Mary (Maryam) as one of the most blessed women in history, and she is guaranteed a throne in the highest of all Heavens (Jannatul Firdausi), along with most Prophets, from Adam until Mohammad (peace be upon them).

    Mary was an “abid”. In those years, our Faith allows people to be highly devoted to only praying for the God.Mary is one of them.When she was conceived by her mother, initially her mother wanted a Son, so that he could be an “abid”.But after she gave birth to a daughter, her mother was praying so hard to God, and eventually God sent a revelation, saying that the baby girl (Mary), worth more than thounsands of Sons.

    So, Mary was raised by a Prophet, Zechariah.She was made an abid, and believed to be the most “sacred” of all Virgins.This is because as an abid, she had few interactions with anyone, let alone a Man.So, she is “pure” of all sins.

    Then, one day a Man came to her. She was terrified. Later, the Man told her that He wasn’t any Man. In fact, He was the Angel Gabriel.The Archangel. He told Mary that he got good tidings for her, that she was about to conceive a baby, whom one day would become a great man. Mary was confused, because she had never being touched by a Man before, then how could she possibly be pregnant?Then the Angel told her that it was God’s will that she got pregnant, not by any Men.

    But in Islam, we believe that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God. In fact, he was created by God, just as Adam was made, not begotten by God Himself. This is the different between Islam and Christianity beliefs.

    In Islam, God is one. God is Eternal. God has no Parents nor Children.

    Thank you.
    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Thank you for sharing that bit on the Blessed Virgin. Many Christian prelates believe we can share in our devotion of Mary as a bridge towards peaceful coexistence and dialogue. Many Marian shrines across the world are visited by Muslims in great numbers to show their respects for her. It is a fascinating subject and one that can be fleshed out more among leading theologians from both the Christian and Islamic worlds.

    We also agree that God is one with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, the Triune God since all time. We do have differences of approach, but Christians are monotheists as with our older brothers the Jews and with Muslims.

    Pax vobiscum,


  • Kamarul Azhar,

    Selamat datang. Saya tidak bisa berbicara dalam Bahasa Melayu, tapi saya tinggal di Indonesia selama beberapa bulan. Berbicara dalam Bahasa Indonesia sedikit. Yang itu agak serupa, ya?

    Terima kasih karena berkunjung. (Ma’af untuk kesalahan saya!)

  • Oh: Tito benar. Agama katolik menyatakan satu Tuhan. Doktrin Trinity tidak menunjukkan tiga tuhan!

  • Mr.J Christian,

    Sudah semestinya saya bisa memahami Bahasa Indonesia. Lagian, kitakan serumpun Bangsa. Akan tetapi, adalah lebih elok jika kita hanya berbicara dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Kan lebih mudah difahami oleh semuanya.

    Thus, from all of our discussions earlier I can conclude that we Muslims and Christians has a lot in common. So why don’t we share these commonness to bring our two worlds closer so that more ties and relations can be fostered.

    We shouldn’t see one beliefs as greater than the other. I say, stick to our own beliefs, but never question others beliefs. If we are very devoted and have good faith in our religions, thus we shoudn’t be scared or tempted by other faiths.

    I have explained the position of Jesus Christ in Islam. And that is my belief. You may either accept it or not.

    But, i would like to know what is the position of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) in this sacred religion of Catholicism? I have had some discussions wth my Catholics friend in Malaysia, and they said there is someone mentioned in the Bible as “the comforter”. They said, he could be Prophet Muhammad.

    It could be because in the Quran, Allah has mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad is to bring Good News to all mankind. So He could be this “comforter” mentioned in the Bible.

    Is it true?Maybe anyone can clarify this?

    Salam Aalay Kum.

  • Kamarul has very eloquently and respectfully highlighted the difficulty that Christians must recognize in finding a path to peace with Islam.

    The crux of the problem is this: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2: 256). Until all of Islam reconciles with that statement of the Koran, there will be no peace for those in and around Islamic states. Until this sura applies to those who wish to leave the religion, women who wish to be educated, or drive a car, or have coffee at a “co-ed” Starbucks, then there is no peace. Until many people don’t have to die as a result of a cartoon or the pope alluding to a violent nature in Islam, there is no peace.

  • Dear Matt,

    You seem to be urging the Muslim community to conformed with the Western norms. Until no party have to be doing what you just did, there will be no reconciliation between the Muslim world and the West.

    Again, I beg all of you, not to misinterpret the Quran. Misinterpretation of the Quran and the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The Quran says, Let there be no compulsion in religion, only to those non-Muslims who has been given explaination and preachings about Islam, yet they don’t want to convert to Islam, then there is no compulsion upon them. This does not apply to Muslims, who already are Muslims, who were born Muslims, and yet they want to renounce the religion!I hope I have had this issue clarified.

    Of course women can be educated!I also have stated earlier in my many comments here about the compulsion of learning!The first revelation by God to The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) is about learning.And it applies to all Muslims and Muslimah.
    “Read!By the name of thy God who creathed”
    The issue here is because some institution of learning, especially in the West, they don’t allow the Muslimah students to be wearing hijab, or simply head-scarfs to cover their heads!This is the main discrimination by the West upon Islam. To observe one aurat (areas to be covered by Muslims and Muslimah) is compulsory in Islam!Please understand our religion more before you made any commentary, sir!

    Of course women are allowed to drive a car!As long as she observes her aurat, and the intention of the journey is pure, and allowed by her mahram (care taker), than it is OK!You might refer to some jurisdiction like in Saudi Arabia where women are prohibited to drive, that is because in Saudi, the situation is rough. There are highway robbers like everywhere. Thus, in order to protect these women from any harm, and from any evil-intentions, they prohibit their women from driving alone.

    Please, not every community is the same like the Western community. We have to understand the culture, and sensitivity of the people of that particular place.Yet, we should always observe revelations by God as the utmost sacred rules and guidance.
    Like in Malaysia, our women enjoy the same privilege with their men counterparts. It is not because of Western modernization, mind you, but it is because of the mind set and the pure intentions of our founding fathers, who successfully interpret and adapt the teaching of Islam into our daily modern day.

    You don’t simply put the case of the Cartoon which portrays our beloved Prophet Muhammad as “just mere cartoons”!In Islam, we are prohibited to paint the image of the Prophets, angels, and God.The painting itself is an insult to us, let alone the false accusations made by the author upon Prophet Muhammad!
    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Please, do not take Quran out of context, and please be more undrstanding towards Islam. And if you couldn’t, just don’t comment, because it is not your place to say anything that you know nothing of.

    Salam Aalay Kum.
    Peace be upon you.

  • Kamarul,

    you further highlight my point. While Catholics can agree that everyone must follow their religious obligations, we do not believe that anyone can be physically harmed by rape, beatings, or beheaded for straying or leaving their faith.

    the history of Islam such as by the Pope Himself has been known to spark hatred and anger among Muslims and non-Muslims.

    The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?

    What would you feel if someone insults Jesus Christ?You surely would retaliate right?

    Christ set the example in this case when he turned the other cheek to the Roman soldier who slapped him. While attacks on Christ are offensive to us, violence is not the appropriate response.

    I do recognize that not all Islamic nations apply sharia uniformly, but as you said, Muslims agree that it is acceptable to physically punish men and especially women who stray from the religious observance.

    I understand all I need to about Islam. THere will be no peace with Islam until Islam accepts that there is NO compulsion in religion, and that includes compulsion against “infidels”, those who stray or those who wish to depart the religion.

  • Matt,

    “The pope implies their is a nature of violence within Islam results in massive violence by Muslims, and you say that the pope makes an error of history?”

    I thought the same thing when that happened… as if they were saying, “we’re going to show you how wrong you are about Islam being a religion of violence by having a violent protest!”

  • Thank you, Mr. Azhar, for sharing your thoughts on Mary. You confirmed something I had heard but wasn’t quite sure was true — that Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus even though they regard Jesus as a prophet and not the Son of God.

    It is also my understanding that in the early centuries of Islam, from about 1000 to 1300 A.D. or so, Muslims (Moors) in Spain lived pretty much in peace with Christians and Jews, and developed a thriving intellectual and artistic culture. Muslim/Arab scholars made great strides in medicine and other sciences and invented the numbering system we use today (Arabic numerals). Imagine trying to do algebra (itself another Arabic term!) with Roman numerals — “if Train I travels CXL miles at LX miles per hour and Train II travels CXC miles at LXX miles per hour, which train will arrive first?”.

    So my next question is: what happened to the Muslim intellectual culture? Does it still exist anywhere today? Why did it seemingly disappear, and can anything be done to bring it back?

  • Elaine,

    The peace that existed in Spain at the period you mentioned is arguable. If there was peace it was one-way where Muslims lived in peace and Christians were 2nd class citizens.

    The numbering system was actually invented in India where the numbering system and algebra were invented by Hindus living under Islamic rule. It was transmitted via the Islamic caliphate to Spain where Christians were unaware of their origins so they attributed this to the Arabs incorrectly.

    As far as the disappearance of Muslim intellectual culture is concerned, some of it can be attributed to the finality of the Koran. The Koran is the final word of God and nothing else is needed because God gave final instruction in the Koran. This is mostly along the lines of Sunni thought and varies to degree in parts of the Muslim world where Sunni’s live.

  • Spanish History is one of my passions. 1100-1300 witnessed Spain in turmoil with the Almoravides and Almohades invasions from North Arica and the ongoing Christian reconquista. Some Christian kingdoms and Moorish kingdoms in Spain would sometimes be in temporary peace or temporary alliances, but overall this was a time of war.

  • One must also be reminded how exactly Islam “surged” from the Arabian peninsula to take over the Byzantine Empire, ultimately to Spain, Southern Italy and the Balkans. It was not the way that Christianity spread I assure you.

    Reading the Koran in context means understanding that the earlier sura’s were written while Muhammad did not possess power, while the later ones which under Islamic theology override, he had political and military power. The later sura’s describe the treatment of infidels who refuse to submit (dhimmitude) under Islamic rule, and the strategy of making tactical treaties with non-Islamic rule, but strictly temporary ones to allow time to consolidate power.