And they add that both Muslims and non-Muslims can misunderstand Islam, usually by taking verses of the Koran that mandate violence against unbelievers "out of context." This excuse is very, very tired at this point, but the obvious rejoinder from reporter Baylie Evans should have been this: Then what are you doing in your mosque here to make sure that all the local Muslims understand the Koran in context and hence do not misunderstand it in the same way that Nidal Hasan (and so many others worldwide) did?
If Baylie Evans had asked that question, the honest answer would have been, Why, nothing. Absolutely nothing.
And that in itself is revealing.
"Local Muslims condemn acts of violence in name of their religion," by Baylie Evans for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, November 14:
CHEYENNE - One local Muslim, Mohamed Salih, is clear in his feelings toward the Muslim man who allegedly went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood last week. He deserves to be at the "bottom of the biggest hell," Salih said.
There is a misconception among many non-Muslims that Islam, the religion that Muslims follow, encourages hate and violence. Really, it teaches the opposite, he said.
"(Violence) has no place in this religion," he said. "There is no god out there that would accept killing innocent people."
Yes, but who is an innocent person? Jihadists consider no non-Muslim to be innocent. Consequently, it would have been refreshing if Salih had defined his terms, but as usual, no such luck.
And while non-Muslims can misunderstand Islam, so too can Muslims themselves.
Indeed, as we see here every day, Muslim Misunderstanders of Islam abound. And the funny thing is that they all seem to misunderstand it in the same way.
Any person who commits an act of violence in name of Islam gravely misunderstands the religion, Salih said. Terrorists have misunderstood the Islamic duty of jihad, which means struggle.
The "greater jihad" is within one's self, Salih said, against egos and evil within. The "lesser jihad" means actions to defend one's self and family.
Let's get that from an authoritative source. 'Umdat al-Salik is endorsed by the most prestigious authority in Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar University, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy. It says this:
Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad. As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said as he was returning from jihad.
``We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.''
The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus (def: b7) is such Koranic verses as:
-1- ``Fighting is prescribed for you'' (Koran 2:216);
-2- ``Slay them wherever you find them'' (Koran 4:89);
-3- ``Fight the idolators utterly'' (Koran 9:36);
and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
``I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah'';
and the hadith reported by Muslim,
``To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.''Details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of the military expeditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others. The former consist of the ones he personally attended, some twenty-seven (others say twenty-nine) of them. He fought in eight of them, and killed only one person with his noble hand, Ubayy ibn Khalaf, at the battle of Uhud. On the latter expeditions he sent others to fight, himself remaining at Medina, and these were forty-seven in number.) [...]
The caliph (o25) makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o11.4) -which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself-while remaining in their ancestral religions) (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (O: in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,
"Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden-who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book-until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled" (Koran 9.29)
Do the Muslims in Wyoming know these doctrines? Probably. But they go on in the same vein anyway:
Even nations can blur the line between religion and politics, Arshi Nisley, another local Muslim, added.
In some Islamic countries, women are not allowed to own property, divorce or have the same rights as men. But the religion allows women equal treatment and rights.
"I don't think that's religion at all," Nisley said. "I think that's politics."
Uh huh. Rather than regarding women as human beings equal to men, the Koran likens a woman to a field (tilth), to be used by a man as he wills: "Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will" (2:223).
The Koran also declares that a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man: "Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her" (2:282).
It allows men to marry up to four wives, and have sex with slave girls also: "If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice" (4:3).
It rules that a son's inheritance should be twice the size of that of a daughter: "Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children's (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females" (4:11).
Worst of all, the Koran tells husbands to beat their disobedient wives: "Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them" (4:34).
It allows for marriage to pre-pubescent girls, stipulating that Islamic divorce procedures "shall apply to those who have not yet menstruated" (65:4).
People who have cited passages from the Quran, the religious text of Islam, that seem to encourage violence have taken them out of context, she added.
Even some Bible passages can seem to incite violence when taken out of context.
Uh huh. Actually, while the Bible contains descriptions of violent acts committed in the name of God, nowhere does it teach believers to imitate that violence. Where people are commanded to commit acts of violence, these are commands directed to specific individuals or groups in particular situations; they are not universal commands. The Koran, on the other hand, quite clearly does teach believers to commit acts of violence against unbelievers -- see 2:190-193, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4, etc. There are no equivalents to such open-ended and universal commands, addressed to all believers to fight unbelievers, in the Bible.
And how are those teachings interpreted? In fact there is not a single traditional school of Islamic jurisprudence that does not teach, as the obligation of the Muslim community, warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. See here for details.
Both Salih and Nisley said they haven't encountered hostility from the local community. In fact, they've felt welcomed. Salih has worked hard to try to educate people about Islam. Violent acts by Muslims set his efforts back, he said.
The religion is already misunderstood by many, and every time a Muslim kills in the name of Islam, it undoes the work that many have done to dispel myths and misinformation. The Fort Hood shooter hurt Muslims twice, Salih said: their country and their religion.
"He is lucky he doesn't have to face Muslims for justice," Salih said.
Interesting statement on many levels.