Here is an insight into the level of knowledge about Islam in America today, and the peculiarly tendency of the ignorant to charge with ignorance those who know more than they do. This is, of course, a phenomenon I run into all the time from, among others, multiculturalist types who condescend to inform me that jihad is an inner spiritual struggle.
From Lua Hightower in the Augusta Free Press, “The Silence of the Muslim Community,” with thanks to Anthony:
I read with dismay yet another rant (The real face of Islam, Dec. 21 AFP) attributing things to Islam that are contrary to its teachings. The writer of the letter is obviously ignorant about this faith and its tenets, refering to a document called the “Sira.” What is the “Sira?” To my knowledge – a student of Islam for some 23 years – there is no religious text called the “Sira.”
Well, Lua Hightower, the “Sira” is the biography of the Prophet Muhammad. The earlier extant Sira we have today is Ibn Ishaq’s as edited by Ibn Hisham, which dates from the late eighth century. There are many other important Siras that were written throughout Islamic history, by Muslims from Ibn Kathir to Martin Lings.
It is interesting that you could have studied Islam for 23 years and missed this. When I myself started studying Islam around 23 years ago also, one of the first things I did was read deeply into Ibn Ishaq’s Sira. What aspects of Islam have you been studying?
The Qur’an is the revelation from God (al-lah means the-God – the one true God, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob – and Jesus) to the prophet Muhammad. Are the Arab Christians of the world to also refer to God as al-lah, worshipping a minor satanic god?
It is true that the word “Allah” referred to a minor pagan deity before Islam burst on the scene. It is also true that Arabic-speaking Christians today use the word “Allah” to refer to the God of Christianity, as they have for many centuries. This is a key point that gives the lie to many pseudo-scholarly analyses put forward today by dishonest, self-promoting hucksters with a limited knowledge of Arabic.
However, it is also true that the deity as depicted in the Qur’an is significantly different from the God of the Bible, and to equate the two based on the use of the same word for God is misleading in the extreme. That is why I myself usually use “Allah” for the god of the Qur’an, to emphasize the distinction between that figure and the God of the Bible. However, the differences are matters of doctrinal substance, not the use of this word or that word. Hightower should have picked up some of the differences during those 23 years of study of Islam.
Certain Qur’anic texts claim that the God of Judaism and Christianity is the same as Allah of the Muslims: “Say: It is only inspired in me that your Allah is One Allah. Will ye then surrender (unto Him)?” (Sura 21:108). That he is addressing Christians and Jews is made clear by another verse: “And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit” (Sura 29:46).
However, Muslims themselves vehemently deny that the Allah of the Qur’an is the God of the Bible. Not only is the Trinity, which is accepted by almost all Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox groups (with the exception of a few marginal groups and self-anointed experts) blasphemous to Muslims; referring to God as “Father” is for them blasphemous as well. Even to say such a thing puts one at risk of Hell. Muslims do not view Allah as a Father, but a Master who orders His slaves to obey strict rules. He has no relationship with them on earth or in Heaven. Muslims obey His commands in order to gain entry into Paradise. The concepts of service to others motivated by divine love, and of love for one’s enemies, are Christian ideas that are foreign to Islam. Jesus says “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44); the Qur’an says “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves” (48:29).
The concept of Allah’s love in the Qur’an is tied to obedience in the early Qur’anic texts; Allah’s love is only for Muslims, as Allah hates unbelievers. “Allah is an enemy to those who reject faith” (Sura 2:98). The idea of a God Who sacrifices Himself for us while we were His enemies is unique to Christianity: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Consequently, no objective observer would identify the Allah of the Qur’an with the Father of Christian worship.
Back to Lua Hightower:
Second, Islam does not preach conversion followed by taxation followed by death.
That’s right. It preaches conversion OR taxation OR death: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an, Sura 9:29).
Also see this Hadith:
It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 19:4294)
Hightower missed that too in those 23 years of study of Islam:
“There is no coercion in religion,” states the Qu’ran, and it refers to Jews and Christians as “people of the book” – followers of the prophets of God whose right to practice their religion is to be protected by the followers of Muhammad. The word muslim in the Qur’an refers to all those who believe in God, who have faith, and who do good works – who give charity and care for the orphans and do not agress against others.
So, technically speaking, Jews and Christians are “muslim”; that is, they have dedicated their lives to the One God, and are in submission (islam) to God. So I would like to know which “Qur’an” the writer of this letter has read – or has he/she even bothered to read it before maligning its contents?
I’d like to know which Qur’an Hightower has read. Does it include, for example, 9:30, which says that Allah’s curse is upon Christians and Jews?
I am so tired of listening to supposed experts attribute any number of horrific beliefs to Islam – beliefs that are so contrary to the Qur’an and the life of the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as to indicate either absolute ignorance or willful deception and defamation. And I tire of publications and organizations who continue to publish and support this sort of misrepresentation and fail to examine factual information readily available to the naked eye by simply sitting down with the Book and reading it.
Is there no accountability for those who publish such hate speech? Is there no responsibility within the media?
Last, how many times do I have to sit down and write such a rebuttal only to find that it goes unpublished – and then sit and listen to people speak about the “silence of the Muslim community”?
Well, this one was published, not only in the Augusta Free Press, but now at Jihad Watch. Lua Hightower, feel free to contact me if you’d like to discuss this further.