In the course of the recent controversy with the ALA, which caved to pressure from Hamas-linked CAIR and canceled a panel on which I was to appear, numerous criticisms of my work have appeared. One repository of them is at this site, which I do not highlight here because it manifests sober or balanced argumentation. The author, a Mr. Svend White, believes that Muslims in America are "being locked up on secret evidence, openly vilified and otherwise made into second class citizens" -- while complaining in the same breath about "truly moronic and demagogic claims," so there is a certain amusement value here, but it is still a useful summary site for the most common charges made about my work.
He says, among other things, that I have "dubious credibility and no evident qualifications to discuss" Islamic issues, calls me "Islamophobe-e-Azam" ("Great Islamophobe") and says that I am not "taken seriously as a scholar in the fields of Religious Studies or Middle Eastern Studies." I'm "undeniably polarizing and partisan," and am on a "personal crusade to make anti-Muslim prejudice intellectually respectable, churning out tracts to disabuse the world of the supposedly mistaken notion that there is any worthy of admiration in Islam and to clear up any lingering suspicions that [Islam] might share anything important with the civilized religions of Judaism and Christianity."
Most of this is just personal insult and tendentious prejudgment, and even White tacitly acknowledges that no such hatefulness can actually be found in my work when he claims that I "speak in code that makes it hard to pin [my] agenda down." (Dot dash dot, Svend!)
Nonetheless, he asserts that "a closer examination" of my writings "reveals an unmistakable pattern of *rationalizing* rather than critiquing prejudice, as much of his output is geared towards explaining why all the insulting and dehumanizing generalizations we rightfully find objectionable normally are, in the unique case of Islam and Muslims, completely justified by 'the facts.'" He even goes so far as to level the bizarre and preposterous charge that I think that "we Muslims are the root of all evil."
But leaving aside the self-pitying tosh and defamatory caricatures, he says this: "As always, the devil is in the details. First of all, his selective and tendentious presentation of Islamic doctrine and tradition is recognizable to neither traditional Muslim scholars nor Muslim reformers or liberals, so the idea that he is just a chronicler of Islamic tradition is untenable. No one outside his Muslim-bashing circles recognizes this 'Islam' that he deconstructs over and over. He's a highly partisan critic, and one that most his supposed colleagues in academia ignore."
And over here, he says: "he consistently jerrymanders the discussion with selective surveys of facts and spins the issues so as to make inevitable a conclusion that the interpretations of the fanatics you mention reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition."
Very well. I've heard for years that I'm selective in my reading of the Qur'an and other Islamic sources, that I downplay peaceful aspects, etc. I don't think this is true, and have taken pains to make sure it isn't, and so I am asking again: prove it, please. Show me what I am leaving out. I invite Svend White or anyone else to supply what I ask for in a comment I left here. Here is that comment:
You respond to this statement -- "What Robert Spencer does is quote what Muslims themselves say and how they justify what they do under Islam" -- by saying this: "This is certainly what Spencer claims (and perhaps believes himself) to do, but as you might guess I think he goes far beyond that humble task. In my view, he consistently jerrymanders the discussion with selective surveys of facts and spins the issues so as to make inevitable a conclusion that the interpretations of the fanatics you mention reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition."
I have never stated that "the interpretations of the fanatics...reflect the core values of Islamic faith and tradition," and challenge you to prove that I have.
But leave that aside for now. What I want to ask you is this: I have heard innumerable times that I offer "selective surveys of facts." Very well. Please supply what I'm leaving out. This is a serious request. Please supply, specifically, rulings by jurists from any of the recognized Sunni or Shi'ite madhahib, declaring that jihad is not to be waged against unbelievers in order to bring them under the authority of Sharia, but rather that non-Muslims and Muslims are to coexist peacefully as equals under the law on an indefinite basis, even when the law of the land is not Sharia. Please show evidence of any orthodox sect or school of jurisprudence that teaches this.
If, on the other hand, you find that you cannot supply such evidence, and instead restrict your argument to demonstrating that the Qur'an and Sunnah teach that jihad is only and at all times to be defensive in character, please explain why the fard kifaya/fard ayn distinction was elaborated in Islamic law, and why the various madhahib elaborated guidelines for offensive jihad -- and how you propose to convince them today to discard those guidelines, even were a caliphate to be restored.
Thanks in advance for filling in the gaps here.
Oh, and if you believe that martial jihad is only defensive in character, please explain how you refute on Islamic grounds the argument -- an argument made by Muslims -- that kufr (unbelief) itself constitutes an offense against Allah and Islam, and requires Muslims to take up arms in defense.