The Muse, the student publication of Newfoundland’s Memorial University, reports on a talk by Islamic apologist Jamal Badawi. (Thanks to Nicolei.) The talk was part of Islamic Awareness Week at the University, and was designed to counter media misstatements:
The group hopes to give interested students the opportunity to learn about the prominent and ancient religion of Islam. “[The purpose of Islam Awareness Week] is to give an idea of the true Islam, not the Islam of the media,” said Mahmoud Abu-Kharma, president of the Muslim Students” Association.
The group held a series of lectures and information sessions to break down media stereotypes and inform the general public about the different aspects and roots of Islamic culture.
In the course of his talk, Badawi made this curious statement:
To most Muslim people, Islamic culture does not have to conform to human standards; if it did, it would change the word of the prophet Mohammed, and that in turn would be the ultimate ignorance, said Badawi.
What does that mean? In what way does Islamic culture not have to conform to human standards? Human standards of human rights or equality of dignity and rights of all people?
Badawi also assailed “the media” for its treatment of jihad:
The misuse of the word jihad by the media since Sept. 11, 2001 was one of Badawi’s concerns. He explained that jihad is actually derived from the word jahada, meaning to struggle. Therefore, jihad means the act of struggling.
This contrasts the media’s misconceptions. Jihad does not mean holy war, for war is never holy. And the term holy war is never mentioned throughout the Qur’an. Holy war stands to remain only as a contradiction in terms.
In Onward Muslim Soldiers, I discuss how another Islamic scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, argues that Islam has no concept of holy war on the basis of the fact that “jihad” doesn’t mean “holy war.”
From both El Fadl and Badawi, this is outrageously disingenuous: Islam has a highly developed system of theology and law regarding religious war “” a system without parallel in any other religion. It is inconceivable that they do not know this, and so it’s hard to see their denials of its existence as anything but attempts to bamboozle non-Muslims.
What’s more, Badawi’s attribution of the mischaracterization of jihad to “the media” is ridiculous: evidently he breezed right by the fact that armed terrorists are waging jihad everywhere, and they don’t mean by the word anything but warfare to spread the hegemony of Islam.
I have asked Dr. Badawi a series of questions about his presentation of Islam in this article. I never have received any answer, but Dr. Badawi, please feel free to contact me anytime.