The director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City has issued a predictable reaction to the murders of Hossam Armanious and his family. From NorthJersey.com, with thanks to Lsattr:
Islamic leaders said Saturday that the murders could not have been the work of someone inspired by the Quran.
“We are not a bloody people,” said Ahmed Shedeed, director of the Islamic Center of Jersey City. “This is not from the Quran. This is not from Islam at all.”
Shedeed, who is Egyptian, said his group recently co-founded a social service organization with local Coptic churches, called Egyptian Family.
“We are trying to get religious leaders from both communities to meet on a monthly basis to break the ice between the people,” he said. “We meet as individuals, but as organizations we never have done such a thing. We are trying to show that Egyptians together can benefit.”
Shedeed said that as part of that effort, he attended Christmas Eve services at St. George’s this year.
Asked about passages in the Quran that may suggest murdering non-believers in a manner that resembles the family’s deaths, he replied, “The Quran talks about people fighting in the battle of war. It’s not talking about people who live next to you. … This has nothing to do with our community at all.”
“The Quran stands very firmly against taking human life,” said noted Islamic author Zayn Kassam, chairwoman of the religious studies department of Pomona College in California. “If someone read a verse and used it to justify the killing of four people, I believe that person is unbalanced. … There are very few Muslims who would support this sort of thing.”
Very few, eh? Well, it only takes one. In fact, Sura 47:4 does refer to “meeting the unbelievers in battle,” but for Ahmed Shedeed to portray this as meaning only battle in warfare and not vigilante action ignores both modern events and the historical events. For example, take this story I recount in Islam Unveiled, from the Ottoman Empire of the late nineteenth century:
Then one night, my husband came home and told me that the padisha had sent word that we were to kill all the Christians in our village, and that we would have to kill our neighbours. I was very angry, and told him that I did not care who gave such orders, they were wrong. These neighbours had always been kind to us, and if he dared to kill them Allah would pay us out. I tried all I could to stop him, but he killed them “” killed them with his own hand.
Then there is the 1998 declaration by Osama bin Laden and other leading jihadists of open season on Americans anytime, anyplace: “to kill the Americans and their allies–civilians and military–is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
This fatwa is predicated on the assumption that Muslims everywhere are being warred against by the West. As such, a “battle” is raging at anytime, anywhere, and Qur’an 47:4 always applies.
If Ahmed Shedeed and his group really don’t believe this, let them energetically cooperate with efforts to find the killer or killers and bring them the justice. But if I were in the FBI, I wouldn’t be counting on their help.