From The Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, with thanks to Twostellas:
A Port Arthur man was indicted Thursday on capital murder charges associated with an October 2003 shooting that might have been a hate crime targeting a Christian.
Kerron Lavern Otis, 36, is accused of killing 55-year-old Frederick Wayne Arnold and stealing his car. Arnold was shot to death on Oct. 27 as he fished in a canal near New Covenant Church on Texas 73, where he also happened to be a deacon.
The crime is capital murder because the killing happened in the course of committing another crime – in this case, auto theft. Capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison.
Otis, who has a history of arrests and mental illness, told investigators he is a Muslim. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office believes, from statements in the case, Otis sought out a Christian to kill.
A spokesman for the Islamic Center of Port Arthur and the Islamic Society of the Triplex disavowed any affiliation with Otis, who, he said, behaved in a “totally un-Islamic” manner.
A few questions for the Islamic Center of Port Arthur and the Islamic Society of the Triplex: What was it exactly that made Otis’ action “totally un-Islamic”? Was it that the murder itself was immoral? I ask because there are indications that Islam does not regard such actions as immoral in themselves. Was the murder “totally un-Islamic,” for example, because of the apparent fact (at least from this article) that Otis “sought out a Christian to kill” without first inviting him to accept Islam, in accord with Sahih Muslim 4294, a well-attested hadith in which Muhammad tells his followers to offer non-Muslims conversion, subjugation, or death?
Or was Otis’ action totally un-Islamic because he should not have acted alone, but as part of an Islamic army? Or because the time is not opportune for such acts by Muslims?
For reference, here is Sahih Muslim 4294. It does seem to assume an Islamic army. One prominent Islamic apologist has excoriated today’s jihadists for just this. He points out that historically jihad was an affair between states, not a project for freelancers or individualists or even self-appointed groups of mujahedin. His argument founders, however, on the fact that Islamic jurisprudence stipulates that defensive jihad must be waged by all Muslims, whether or not there is a caliph, whenever an Islamic land is attacked — and that that justification is invoked today by jihadist Muslims around the world. (It was before Iraq and Afghanistan, too, on vaguer grounds but still ones that were rooted in the idea of defensive jihad.)
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.
I expect that the Muslim spokesman who called Otis’ action “totally un-Islamic” would, if he saw this, call me an “Islamophobe” or some such and say that I was taking the verses out of context. But I’d really like to know, and any Muslim reading this is invited to tell me: many verses exist in the Qur’an and Sunnah inviting Muslims to violence. There are many more like the one I’ve quoted. What, then, is to prevent a Muslim like Otis from taking matters into his own hands? What kind of educational efforts are going on in mosques today, in America or worldwide, to prevent Muslims from getting the idea that this would be a good way to act in the service of Allah?
I look forward to hearing from you.