“Hello from Fjordman. Here comes part 3 out of probably five essays comprising a booklet regarding Islam and democracy.”
Parts 1 and 2 are here:
“I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” The Koran, 8.12 “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)'” Hadith of Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220
He who strikes terror into others is himself in continual fear. Claudian (Roman poet)
In his Islamic Declaration from 1970, where he demanded a fully-fundamentalist Muslim state, future Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic wrote that “A Muslim generally does not exist as an individual. If he wishes to live and survive as a Muslim, he must create an environment, a community, an order. He must change the world or be changed himself. History knows of no true Islamic movement which was not at the same time a political movement as well.”
The late American scholar of Islam, Franz Rosenthal, said that an individual Muslim “was expected to consider subordination of his own freedom to the beliefs, morality and customs of the group as the only proper course of behavior. (“¦) The individual was not expected to exercise any free choice as to how he wished to be governed. In general, governmental authority admitted of no participation of the individual as such, who therefore did not possess any real freedom vis-Ã -vis it.”
Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina states that “Deindividuation is characterized by diminished awareness of self and individuality. In Islam individuality is denied and the individual’s life is fused with that of Umma. Deindividuation reduces an individual’s self-restraint and normative regulation of behavior. It contributes to the collective behavior of violent crowds, mindless hooligans, and the lynch mobs.” According to him, “Ironically it is the brutality and the repressive nature of Islam, in conjunction with its absolute irrationality that has made this doctrine successful and has allowed it to survive this long.”
But as the esteemed writer F.A. Hayek wrote in his classic The Road to Serfdom:
“What our generation is in danger of forgetting is not only that morals are of necessity a phenomenon of individual conduct, but also that they can exist only in the sphere in which the individual is free to decide for himself and called upon voluntarily to sacrifice personal advantage to the observance of a moral rule. Outside the sphere of individual responsibility there is neither goodness nor badness, neither opportunity for moral merit nor the chance of proving one’s conviction by sacrificing one’s desires to what one thinks right. Only where we ourselves are responsible for our own interests and are free to sacrifice them, has our decision moral value. Neither good intentions nor efficiency of organisation can preserve decency in a system in which personal freedom and individual responsibility are destroyed.”
A British police report concluded that complaints of misconduct and corruption against Muslim officers occur ten times more frequently than against their non-Muslim colleagues. The report argued that since British Pakistanis live in a cash culture in which “assisting your extended family is considered a duty” and in an environment in which large amounts of money are loaned between relatives and friends, police officers of Pakistani origin needed special anti-corruption training.
Only a small percentage of Pakistani citizens, and those of many other Muslim countries, actually pay taxes. There is a philosophy that ascribes no value to the individual; the clan is everything; the state is the enemy. This mentality underlies the behavior of the immigrants from these countries as they migrate, bringing with them to non-Muslim countries the corruption and tribal violence associated with this world view.
As Ali Sina says:
“Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, (1058 – 1111 CE) is arguably the greatest Islamic scholar ever. In his book ‘Incoherence of the Philosophers’ he bitterly denounced Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and other Greek thinkers as non-believers and labeled those who employed their methods and ideas as corrupters of the Islamic faith. He took aim at Avicenna [Ibn Sina, highly influential 11th century Persian physician and philosopher] for being a rationalist who drew intellectually upon the Ancient Greeks. By emphasizing on the incompatibility of faith and reason, and by asserting the futility of making faith subordinate to reason, Ghazali gave validity to unreasoned faith and thus glorified stupidity.
The Islamic rationalists such as Mutazilis placed reason above revelation. But their school was vehemently opposed by more fervent Islamists and became extinct. They were attacked by a group called Ashariyya to which al-Ghazali and the celebrated poet [Jalal ad-Din or Mawlana] Rumi belonged. Rumi mocked the rationalists and in a catchy verse that left its mark on the psyche of the gullible masses said the rationalists stand on ‘wooden legs.'”
Sina believes that “Freedom of speech, freedom of beliefs, respect for the rights of the minority and separation of religion from government are the foundations of democracy.” The West should insist on freedom of religion and freedom of speech both at home and abroad. “People must be allowed to criticize the views of the majority without fearing for their lives. There can’t be democracy without freedom of expression and without opposition. Before taking democracy to Islamic countries, let us save our own democracy at home.”
According to another ex-Muslim, Ibn Warraq, “Islam is a totalitarian ideology that aims to control the religious, social and political life of mankind in all its aspects — the life of its followers without qualification, and the life of those who follow the so-called tolerated religions to a degree that prevents their activities from getting in the way of Islam in any manner. And I mean Islam. I do not accept some spurious distinction between Islam and ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ or ‘Islamic terrorism.’ Given the totalitarian nature of Islamic law, Islam does not value the individual, who has to be sacrificed for the sake of the Islamic community. Collectivism has a special sanctity under Islam.”
The reason why many former Muslims such as Ali Sina and Ibn Warraq write under pseudonyms is that in a religion that is so hostile to both individuality and freedom of speech, there is no worse crime for a Muslim than to exercise both by criticizing and leaving Islam. Apostasy bears the penalty of death. In the book Leaving Islam — Apostates Speak Out, a unique anthology by former Muslims, Ibn Warraq writes that (p. 31):
“However, apostasy is a matter of treason and ideological treachery, which originates from hostility and hypocrisy. The destiny of a person who has an inborn handicap is different from the destiny of one whose hand should be cut off due to the development of a dangerous and infectious disease. The apostasy of a Muslim individual whose parents have also been Muslim is a very infectious, dangerous and incurable disease that appears in the body of an ummah (people) and threatens people’s lives, and that is why this rotten limb should be severed.”
The death penalty for apostasy from Islam is firmly rooted in Islamic texts — certainly in the hadith, but arguably also in the Koran. The Koran 4:89 states:
“They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah’s way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.”
Ibn Kathir’s (d. 1373) venerated tafsir (Koran commentary) on this verse concurs with the view that 4:89 sanctions killing apostates, maintaining that as the unbelievers have manifested their unbelief, they should be punished by death. The death penalty is virtually beyond debate in the hadith. For example, in the most respected hadith collections of Bukhari, Muhammad is reported to have said “Kill him who changes his religion.”
According to Dr. Andrew G. Bostom, there is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi’i), as well as Shi’ite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. Averroes, or Ibn Rushd (d. 1198), the renowned Aristotelian philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences, who was also an important Maliki jurist in medieval Spain, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy (vol. 2, p. 552):
“An apostate”¦is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, ‘Slay those who change their din [religion]'”¦Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition”¦prior to his execution.”
This is not just a matter of medieval jurisprudence. The 1991 Shafi’i manual of Islamic Law ‘Umdat al-Salik, endorsed by the Islamic Research Academy at Al-Azhar, the most prestigious centre of learning in Sunni Islam, states:
“Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst”¦When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory”¦to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.”
In 2003, the Egyptian author Dr. Nawal Al-Sa’dawi, known for her fervent Arab nationalism and feminism, called for amending the Egyptian constitution and eliminating the article that declares Islam to be the official state religion, ‘because we have among us Copts [Egyptian Christians], and because religion is a matter between man and God and no one has the right to impose his faith, his God and his rituals on others.” She also said that she believes in a political and military struggle against the U.S. and Israel.
The reactions to Sa’dawi’s statements were mixed, but Dr. Abd Al-Mun’im Al-Berri, former head of The Front of Al-Azhar Clerics, explained that “we should ask her to repent within three days, but if she persists with these ideas, she should be punished according to what the Islamic Shari’a [religious law] determined for those who abandon Islam. The ruler, meaning the head of state or government, should carry out the punishment.” Sheikh Mustafa Al-Azhari explained that “the punishment for anyone who fights Allah and His Prophet is execution, crucifixion, the amputation of opposite limbs or banishment from earth.”
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross states that “Though official proceedings against those who reject Islam are fairly rare””in part, no doubt, because most keep their conversion a closely held secret””apostasy is punishable by death in Afghanistan, Comoros, Iran, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen. It is also illegal in Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Maldives, Oman, and Qatar. (“¦) The greatest threat to apostates in the Muslim world derives not from the state, however, but from private individuals who take punishment into their own hands. In Bangladesh, for example, a native-born Muslim-turned-Christian evangelist was stabbed to death in the spring of 2003 while returning home from a film version of the Gospel of Luke. As another Bangladeshi apostate told the U.S. Newswire, ‘If a Muslim converts to Christianity, now he cannot live in this country. It is not safe. The fundamentalism is increasing more and more.'”
In Britain in 2004, Prince Charles brokered efforts to end the Muslim death penalty on converts to other faiths by holding a private summit of Christian and Muslim leaders. The Muslim group cautioned the prince and other non-Muslims against speaking publicly on the issue. A member of the Christian group said that he was “very, very unhappy” about the outcome. Patrick Sookhdeo, the international director of the Barnabas Fund which campaigns on behalf of persecuted Christians abroad, urged the prince and Muslim leaders in Britain to criticise openly the traditional Islamic law on apostasy, calling for it to be abolished throughout the world. According to Sookhdeo, “one of the fundamental notions of a secular society is the moral importance of freedom, of individual choice. But in Islam, choice is not allowable: there cannot be free choice about whether to choose or reject any of the fundamental aspects of the religion, because they are all divinely ordained. God has laid down the law, and man must obey.”
In the London Times, Anthony Browne wrote about Mr Hussein, a 39-year-old hospital nurse in Bradford, one of a growing number of former Muslims in the West who face not just being shunned by family and community, but attacked, kidnapped, and in some cases killed. One estimate suggests that as many as 15 per cent of Muslims in Western societies have lost their faith. Mr Hussein told “It’s been absolutely appalling. This is England “” where I was born and raised. You would never imagine Christians would suffer in such a way.” The police have not charged anyone, but told him to leave the area.
Anwar Sheikh, a former mosque teacher from Pakistan, became an atheist after coming to Britain, and lived with a special alarm in his house in Cardiff after criticizing Islam in a series of hardline books. “I’ve had 18 fatwas against me. They telephone me “” they aren’t foolhardy enough to put it in writing. I had a call a couple of weeks ago. They mean repent or be hanged,” he said. “What I have written, I believe and I will not take it back. I will suffer the consequences. If that is the price, I will pay it.” Anwar Sheikh died peacefully in his home in Wales in November 2006.
Aluma Dankowitz, director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Reform Project, writes about how the accusation against Muslims – particularly intellectuals, artists, and writers – of “unbelief” (an accusation known as “takfir”) recurs in the Muslim world. The traditional punishment for an apostate (murtadd) is capital punishment, which was implemented on a large scale in the period following the death of the Prophet Muhammad, when Muhammad’s successor Abu Bakr fought the ridda wars against the tribes that abandoned Islam.
Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, one of the most prominent clerics in Sunni Islam today, draws a distinction between two types of apostasy (ridda): “Limited ridda is the ridda of the individual who switches religion and is not interested in others. According to Islam, the punishment for this individual is [Hell] in the world to come. But [the other] ridda, which expands [from the individual to the group], is a ridda in which the individual who abandons Islam calls [upon others] to do likewise, [thus creating] a group whose path is not the path of society and whose goal is not the goal of the [Muslim] nation, and whose allegiance is not to the Islamic nation. Such [individuals] endanger the social fabric, and they are like the murtaddoon [apostates], who were fought by [the first Caliph] Abu Bakr together with the Companions of the Prophet.”
In other words, those who publicly leave Islam constitute a threat to the morale of the Islamic community, just like soldiers defecting from an army, and must thus be punished before a mass-defection sets in. Al-Qaradhawi agrees with the traditional treatment of Muslims who leave their religion: “For Muslim society to preserve its existence, it must struggle against ridda from every source and in all forms, and it must not let it spread like wildfire in a field of thorns. Thus, the Muslim sages agreed that the punishment for the murtadd [who commits ridda] is execution.”
There is enormous social pressure in Muslim countries against expressing any kind of doubts about the Islamic religion. Razi Azmi, one of the more sensible columnists of Pakistan’s Daily Times Online newspaper, has mentioned the issue in an op-ed:
“For a moment, let us imagine a reverse scenario, a Muslim converting, say, to Christianity or, Heaven forbid, Hinduism or Buddhism, in a Muslim country. It defies imagination. There is unanimity among clerics from the various Islamic schools of thought that the penalty for an apostate (murtid) is death, the only disagreement being whether the execution should occur instantly or after the murtid has been given an opportunity to recant and return to the fold of Islam. So sure is the punishment and so strong the attendant social and family pressures that it is unthinkable for Muslims ever to openly question any aspect of their religion, let alone convert to another or to practice agnosticism or atheism.”
Islam’s hostility towards freedom of speech does not apply only to Muslims, but to anybody saying anything remotely critical of Islam, including non-Muslims. Muslims are already busy trying to shut down freedom of speech in Western nations through legal harassment and, increasingly, physical intimidation.
Mohammed Bouyeri, born in Amsterdam of Moroccan Berber parents, murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had recently made a film critical of Islam together with the Dutch-Somali former Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the morning of Nov. 2, 2004. As Mr. van Gogh cycled to work in Amsterdam, the bearded young man in a long Middle-Eastern-style shirt fired at him with a handgun, chased him, shot him once more, slit his throat from ear to ear and plunged two knives, one with a five-page letter attached, into the body. “I did what I did purely out my beliefs,” Bouyeri told judges while clutching a Koran, because he believed van Gogh insulted Islam.
Orientalist Hans Jansen of Leiden University in The Netherlands has written an analysis of the letter which Mohammed B. left on the body of Theo van Gogh. As he points out, “MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali (or any other MP) is not eager to die for her membership of Parliament. Muslims such as Mohammed B. on the other hand are eager to shed their life for what they view as the good cause, which possibly gives Islam a tactical — strategic advantage in conflicts with others. That those who do not believe in heavenly compensation of martyrdom rather not become martyrs is a true statement and certainly relevant in Islam’s fight against the non-Muslims.”
A study from 2006 found that forty percent of the Moroccan youth in the Netherlands rejected Western values and democracy. Six to seven percent were prepared to use force to defend Islam. The majority were opposed to freedom of speech for offensive statements, particularly criticism of Islam. Similar numbers could no doubt be found among Muslims in other Western countries.
This kind of intimidation has taken its toll. In November 2006, publisher Scholastic Australia pulled the plug on the book the Army of the Pure after booksellers said they would not stock the adventure thriller for youngsters because the “baddie” was a Muslim terrorist. Because two characters were Arabic-speaking and the plot involves a mujaheddin extremist group, Scholastic’s decision was based “100 per cent (on) the Muslim issue.”
This decision was at odds with the publication of Richard Flanagan’s bestselling The Unknown Terrorist and Andrew McGahan’s Underground in which terrorists are portrayed as victims driven to extreme acts by the failings of the West. The Unknown Terrorist describes Jesus Christ as “history’s first … suicide bomber.” In McGahan’s Underground, Muslims are executed or herded into ghettos in an Australia rendered unrecognisable by the war on terror.
The Syrian-born poet Ali Ahmad Sa’id, known by his pseudonym Adonis, says that “If the Arabs are so inept that they cannot be democratic by themselves, they can never be democratic through the intervention of others. If we want to be democratic, we must be so by ourselves.”
According to Adonis, the underlying structure of Arab societies is a structure of slavery, not of liberty: “Some human beings are afraid of freedom. When you are free, you have to face reality, the world in its entirety. You have to deal with the world’s problems, with everything. On the other hand, if we are slaves, we can be content and not have to deal with anything. Just as Allah solves all our problems, the dictator will solve all our problems.”
This is undoubtedly true, and this fear of freedom is not exclusive to Muslims. As philosopher Eric Hoffer writes in The True Believer:
“Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. And as freedom encourages a multiplicity of attempts, it unavoidably multiplies failure and frustration. (“¦) We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, ‘to be free from freedom.’ It was not sheer hypocrisy when the rank-and-file Nazis declared themselves not guilty of all the enormities they had committed. They considered themselves cheated and maligned when made to shoulder responsibility for obeying orders. Had they not joined the Nazi movement in order to be free from responsibility?”
According to Adonis, “The Muslims today — forgive me for saying this — with their accepted interpretation [of the religious text], are the first to destroy Islam, whereas those who criticize the Muslims — the non-believers, the infidels, as they call them — are the ones who perceive in Islam the vitality that could adapt it to life. These infidels serve Islam better than the believers.”
I’m not sure I agree with that. Although fear of freedom may be a universal human trait, it does seem to be more prevalent in Islamic societies than in others. Does this “slave mentality” that Mr. Adonis complains about partly originate from Islam itself?
Ibn Arabi (d. 1240), the “Greatest Sufi Master,” defined hurriyya, freedom, as “perfect slavery” to Allah. The mainstream Islamic website Islam Q & A defines the meaning of enslavement in Islam:
“If by ‘slave’ I mean al-‘aabid, one who worships Allaah and obeys His commands, this meaning applies specifically to the believers to the exclusion of the kaafireen [infidels], because the believers are the true slaves of Allaah who attribute Lordship and Divinity to Him Alone and recognize Him by His Names and Attributes, and do not associate anything with Him. Enslavement to Allaah is an honour, not a cause of humiliation. We ask Allaah to make us among His righteous slaves.”
If Muslims are “slaves of Allah,” it is tempting to view ex-Muslims as runaway slaves, who are to be hunted down and punished for their desire for freedom, just as real slaves were in the old days.
Dr. Younus Shaikh, Pakistani Rationalist and the founder President of the Rationalist organization of Pakistan, was once sentenced for blasphemy, a crime that leads to a mandatory death sentence in Pakistan, for claiming that Muhammad did not become a Muslim until the age of 40 and received his first revelations in 610, and that his parents were non-Muslims because they died before Islam existed. He was later acquitted following international pressure, and now lives in exile in Switzerland.
According to Dr. Shaikh, “Islam is an organized crime against humanity!” Those may be harsh words, but it should be his right to say it. As Mr. Adonis states, “There can be no living culture in the world if you cannot criticize its foundations — the religion.” This means that Muslims must first accept criticism of their religion before they can have any hope of establishing free societies.
Freedom of speech is one of the most fundamental of all freedoms; it is necessary for a functioning democratic society. The Islamic world will never know true liberty until Muslim individuals may openly criticize their religion and even leave it without having to fear for their lives. This freedom must be established not just in Switzerland or the United States, but in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. That vision of liberty so far remains a mirage in the distance.