Hugh’s comparison of me to Pierre Menard got me thinking. The joke for Borges was on literary critics, who would take the same words in completely different ways depending on whether they written by a seventeenth-century Spaniard or a twentieth-century Frenchman. But Hugh has a point: the same thing goes for today’s jihad apologists. What matters is not what is said. What matters is who says it.
Some time ago, some Muslim leaders in America were exchanging emails about CAIR cofounder Omar Ahmad’s notorious statement that “Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant,” with the Qur’an “the highest authority in America.” Noting CAIR’s denials of the statement’s authenticity, one wrote: “I would tend to believe CAIR here....the statements in their attributed form sound like something Spencer would create.”
This email exchange was forwarded to me. Since I do not “create” statements by anyone but myself, I wrote to this individual and asked him to retract the suggestion that I invented this quote, or other quotes. The one making this claim is a prominent “moderate” Muslim who travels around the country telling Jewish groups that the Qur’an guarantees Jews the land of Israel (17:104) without getting around to telling them also that the Qur’an also says Jews are accursed for rejecting Muhammad (2:89) and that the Muslims are the true Jews (3:67-68).
I also asked him to retract an earlier statement he had made in an article: that “Spencer…misquotes verses of the Qur’an, takes things out of context, and shamelessly lies.” I asked him to provide examples of my doing these things, or issue a public retraction. He responded: “As for shameless lies, I stand by my assertion, especially after received material in which you claim Muhammad married his daughter in law etc.”
Now this was extraordinary. I “claim Muhammad married his daughter in law”? In reality, the Qur’an alludes to this incident (33:37), and the details are filled in by the historian Tabari and others. When I reminded this Muslim professor of these facts, he dismissed Tabari’s trustworthiness as a source. He did not explain, however, how it is that apologists for Islam including Muhammad Husayn Haykal and Karen Armstrong also write about Muhammad’s marrying his daughter-in-law.
If I originated this claim, my black Zionist arts must be especially powerful to cast it into the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira, and contemporary writings on Islam. Haykal never challenges the authenticity of the story, but asserts that this was the sort of thing to which Muhammad was entitled: “The rules which are law to the people at large do not apply to the great.” Nor does Armstrong say the story is inauthentic. She even records Aisha’s sharp comment after Muhammad received his divine scolding for hesitating to marry Zaynab: “Truly thy Lord makes haste to do thy bidding.” But then she explains that “today Muslims deny that Muhammad married Zaynab out of lust.” All right. But he did marry her, and previously she had been married to his adopted son.
Yet the professor who wrote to me with such venom, telling me that “the vileness the defines you could not be suppressed for long,” is unlikely to have written to Armstrong or to Haykal, if he were still alive, in the same vein, although they refer to the same incident that I am supposed to have invented.
So this is where Pierre Menard makes his grand reappearance. In the Qur’an, Allah says this to Muhammad about Zaynab, his former daughter-in-law, and Zaid, his adopted son (“the one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour”):
Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled. (33:37)
Those are for Muslims the words of the glorious book, the eternal book that has existed with him forever, the book that is perfect and contains all that human beings need to know in order to live properly and fashion a perfect society.
But when I quote that verse, and tell the story surrounding it, it is suddenly not so noble anymore. It is bigotry, it is racism, it is -- “Islamophobia”! It is the “vileness that defines” me!
Indeed, all those who dare to quote the jihadists when they explain their motives and goals -- for those explanations inevitably involve copious quotes from Qur’an and Hadith -- find the quotes magically transformed in their hands. No longer are they the authoritative religious texts of Islam. Now they have been transmogrified into vile bigotry and hatred. And if anyone dares note that the noble book and the vile bigotry consist of the same words, he will be tarred with the same charge of bigotry. We will be told that he is quoting it all Out Of Context! These “Islamophobes” will stop at nothing.
But try as they might, it isn’t so easy anymore to pull the wool over Infidel eyes. The cat is out of the bag. The Qur’an and the principal Hadith collections are readily available in English, translated by Muslims for Muslims. Anyone can check on the material I quote in my books and see if the quotations are inaccurate. The field, for the dishonest jihad apologists, is contracting. Which may be why they are growing so shrill and desperate, and playing games that hark back to the unforgettable Pierre Menard.