A few days ago I received an acrimonious email from a prominent moderate Muslim spokesman, accusing me of "shameless lies" for reporting that Muhammad married his daughter-in-law. Of course, this incident is referred to obliquely in the Qur'an (33:37), as well as in the hadith collection of Bukhari, the writings of the historian Tabari, and the Qur'an commentary Tafsir al-Jalalayn, among other sources.
When I noted this, the spokesman called me an idiotic liar and heaped scorn on my invoking Tabari, whom he claimed was unreliable. He didn't say anything about Bukhari or Tafsir al-Jalalayn. Nor did he address the fact that apologists like Karen Armstrong and Muhammad Husayn Haykal, as well as Maxime Rodinson and the Muslim convert Martin Lings and others also, use Tabari in their books about Muhammad. Haykal takes for granted that the daughter-in-law incident took place, and comes up with various apologetic explanations for it.
I intend to write more about this, but did not want to name this individual or quote his emails without permission, so I have asked him for that permission. Meanwhile, he has informed me that he is working on a piece attacking me and my work, which once it appears of course will give me a chance to craft a full reply.
But I wanted to mention this curious incident now because it is indicative of a tendency: regular readers of Jihad Watch will recognize the familiar denial, the familiar indignation, the familiar charges of ignorance and ill will. These have become the dispiritingly common ways in which all too many Muslim spokesmen respond to those who merely point out various aspects of Islamic tradition that make them uncomfortable. Instead of working in constructive ways for reform, they prefer to demonize and vilify those who, like me, bring such material to light -- as if I really did make up the incident in which Muhammad married his daughter-in-law and somehow, through my black Zionist arts, made millions of Muslims believe it.
That's why it was refreshing to read "Speakout: Muslims must both denounce, renounce their violent hadiths," by Dr. Tawfik Hamid in the Rocky Mountain News (thanks to Skip). For quoting the same hadith he quotes in this piece and noting the same thing he notes about it -- that jihadists today take it seriously -- I have been called a hatemonger, a liar, an ignoramus, the spawn of the devil himself. Of course, Hamid leaves the Qur'an untouched, and there is plenty in that book that also must be examined critically if Islamic violence is ever to be mitigated, but his honesty about the hadith is refreshing, and sorely needed.
Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man, leader, last month announced that Americans must choose: Convert to Islam or continue to receive acts of terror.
Al-Zawahri was reiterating a fundamental concept of Salafi Islamic teaching, the fountainhead of extremist thinking. Yet the authors of the American government's recent intelligence report on terrorism's spread seem not to have been listening.
Zawahri's threat is based on a saying of the Prophet Muhammad as written in Sahih Al-Buchary [Bukhari], a central book of Salafi Islamic teaching. This hadith, or fundamental concept, states: "I have been ordered by Allah to fight and kill all mankind until they say, 'No God except Allah and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah' (Hadith Sahih)."
Based on this hadith, early Muslims used the sword to spread Islam throughout the world. The same hadith inspires contemporary Islamic terror including this summer's thwarted London airplane explosions. Other rationales that terrorists use to justify terrorism - the Arab-Israeli conflict, America's involvement in Iraq - are simply useful propaganda cover stories, not the actual causes or goals of terrorists' actions.
Americans must be wary of political leaders who accept the propaganda explanations. To win the war on terror, America's leaders must recognize the powerful role of the Islamic religious principle of jihad, Islam's belief that it must conquer the world, which derives from the above hadith. Belief in jihad is what causes so many Muslims worldwide to cheer terrorist acts such as 9/11, European subway bombings, and Hezbollah and Hamas attacks against Israel....
Unfortunately, however, the vast majority of Muslims, Islamic organizations and Islamic scholars have not publicly objected to these teachings. There have been no powerful Muslim demonstrations to denounce Osama bin Laden and not a single fatwa by top Islamic scholars or organizations to consider bin Laden an apostate - as was done to Salman Rushdie just for writing a novel.
Because the teachings continue, a significant proportion of the world's Muslims have become passive terrorists, peaceful citizens whose sympathy in their hearts and support with their purses enable terrorism's spread.
If Islamic scholars and organizations in America disapprove of jihadist teachings, they must speak out against them. Americans should consider Muslims to be moderates, and Islam a peaceful faith, only if, in English and in Arabic, Muslims clearly denounce their violent hadiths and strike them from the books that educate their next generation.
In addition to internal immune reactions, externally applied interventions also can destroy cancer cells. Like cancer-fighting chemotherapy, strongly applied military might can reduce large tumors. America eliminated al-Qaida training camps in Afghanistan, but the verdict is not yet in on whether Israel this past summer similarly decimated Hezbollah.
To conquer the metastases of extremist Islam, however, words may be the most potent weapons. Outspoken condemnation of the theological sources of terrorism by American intellectuals and politicians, reinforcing the self-examination of Muslims themselves, could make a vital difference.
Well, Dr. Hamid, you'll be glad to know that that is exactly what I have been doing -- publicly for five years now. As noted above, many, if not most, of your coreligionists have not taken kindly to it. I remember when I published my first book, I assumed that some thoughtful Muslim would deal with the questions I raised in it in the spirit in which they were offered, and map out a path by which the violent elements of Islamic teaching could be mitigated. Today I am no longer so naive.
Addressing the theological wellsprings of Islamic terrorist motivation is essential if America is to succeed in its war against terrorism. Pope Benedict XVI has begun leading the way. Neither political correctness nor Muslim outrage must be allowed to prevent further realistic talk about the religious underpinnings of Islamic violence. Otherwise Islamic teaching will continue to spread jihad's cancerous beliefs.