In “Fish. Barrel. [BLAM!],” blogger Dean Esmay (thanks to James) claims that I have been “nailed to the wall” by one “Matoko Kusanagi,” with whom I had an exchange here. (You can find my other exchanges with Esmay here, here, here, here, here and here.) Esmay’s post this time is simply more vile name-calling — as is his wont. The substance this time, such as it is, comes from “Matoko”:
I was watching the Obsession youtubes when I heard Robert Spencer make the argument that all muslims must faithfully emulate Muhammed’s (SAW) 7th century warlord behavior because Muhammed is al-insan al-kamil, which spencer translates as “the perfect man”.
Bad translation. al-insan al-kamil actually translates as “complete human”. I know this because we were talking about angels and reason and revelation at Eteraz the other night, and Adam is described as al-insan al-kamil in the Qur’an. And we all know Adam wasn’t perfect.
He ate the apple.
So, I think this translation issue prettymuch torpedos Spencers argument that all muslims are mandated to behave exactly like 7th century warlords….don’t you? Ha ha, im just a cyberchicklet and i caught that. Hmmm…wonder what other gaffes i can find?
wow. it just occurred to me that mebbe there is a buncha stuff in Spencer’s new book, The Truth about Muhammed that references this botched translation. Anybody read it yet?
OK, let’s take this point-by-point:
1. Matoko: “I was watching the Obsession youtubes when I heard Robert Spencer…”
My response: She must have been tuned in to the little voices that speak through her metalwork. I am not in Obsession. Of course, she probably means Islam: What the World Needs to Know, which I am in. A minor point, but this carelessness is indicative of the quality of her entire attack — which doesn’t stop Dean Esmay from falling for it, uh, hook, line, and sinker.
2. Matoko: “I heard Robert Spencer make the argument that all muslims must faithfully emulate Muhammed’s (SAW) 7th century warlord behavior because Muhammed is al-insan al-kamil, which spencer translates as ‘the perfect man’. Bad translation. al-insan al-kamil actually translates as ‘complete human’.”
My response: Unfortunately for “Matoko,” Spencer is not alone in this. Among the others who translate “al-insan al-kamil” as “the perfect man”:
a. Neal Robinson, senior lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of Leeds, and author of Islam: A Concise Introduction (Georgetown University Press, 1999).
b. Barbara R. von Schlegell, Visiting Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Ursinus College Fellow, Penn Middle East Center.
c. David R. Vishanoff, assistant professor of religious studies, University of Oklahoma.
d. Tamara Albertini, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.
e. Muslim Sufi intellectual Fethullah GÃ¼len.
f. Dr. Usman Muhamad Bugaje of the Islam in Africa Organisation (IAO).
g. The Naqshbandi Sufi leader Sheikh Muhammad Hisham al-Kabbani.
h. Islamic preacher Dr. Ahmad Shafaat.
i. Shaykh al Islam Janasheen – Muhaddith Al A’zam Al Hind.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. The evil and moronic Islamophobe Spencer didn’t originate this translation: it is a fine translation, and it is used by Islamic scholars, even of the MESA variety, and by Muslim leaders and pious Muslims.
3. Matoko: “I know this because we were talking about angels and reason and revelation at Eteraz the other night, and Adam is described as al-insan al-kamil in the Qur’an. And we all know Adam wasn’t perfect.
He ate the apple.”
My response: Perhaps Matoko or Eteraz would be so kind as to tell us where in the Qur’an Adam is referred to as “al-insan al-kamil.” Adam is mentioned by name in the Qur’an in Suras 2:31, 2:33, 2:34, 2:35, 2:37, 3:33, 3:59, 5:27, 7:11, 7:19, 7:26, 7:27, 7:31, 7:35, 7:172, 17:61, 17:70, 18:50, 19:58, 20:115, 20:116, 20:117, 20:120, 20:121, and 36:60. In none of them is he called “al-insan al-kamil.” In 2:30 he is called Allah’s “viceregent” — caliph — but that’s as close as it gets. He is also known as “safiyu’llah,” or the chosen one of Allah, but not as al-insan al-kamil.
Probably the confusion arises from the congruence of some aspects of Sufi mysticism, which strongly emphasizes the al-insan al-kamil idea, with Jewish mystical writings about “Adam Kadmon,” the primordial man. But in any case, it isn’t in the Qur’an.
4. Matoko: “I think this translation issue prettymuch torpedos Spencers argument that all muslims are mandated to behave exactly like 7th century warlords…”
My response: Matoko’s point doesn’t hold here because I don’t claim that Muslims imitate Muhammad solely because he is al-insan al-kamil. Muhammad is called in the Qur’an “uswa hasana” — an excellent model of conduct (33:21). To be sure, the Qur’an uses the same words in speaking of Abraham (60:4, 60:6), but it also says that Muhammad demonstrates “an exalted standard of character” (68:4), and that “he who obeys the Messenger [Muhammad], obeys Allah” (4:80).
So do Muslims imitate Muhammad? Says Muqtedar Khan of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy: “No religious leader has as much influence on his followers as does Muhammad (Peace be upon him) the last Prophet of Islam”¦.And Muhammad as the final messenger of God enjoys preeminence when it comes to revelation — the Qur’an — and traditions. So much so that the words, deeds and silences (that which he saw and did not forbid) of Muhammad became an independent source of Islamic law. Muslims, as a part of religious observance, not only obey, but also seek to emulate and imitate their Prophet in every aspect of life. Thus Muhammad is the medium as well as a source of the divine law.”
To take just one more of zillions of available examples, likewise the renowned Sufi philosopher Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazali (1058-1111) declared that “the key to happiness is to follow the sunna and to imitate the Messenger of God in all his coming and going, his movements and rest, in his way of eating, his attitude, his sleep and his talk.”
I guess Khan and al-Ghazali have been listening to that wicked Spencer.
Meanwhile, over at Dean’s World this farrago has them crowing. Commenter “Mal” says: “Robert Spencer is certainly free to offer his interpretation of Islam, and I, of course, am free to see his main theme as the reductive, pseudo-intellectual drivel that it is. I say let the man speak. He does more to discredit his own arguments that way than any name calling on your part….I predict that Spencer will always have a die-hard constituency but will eventually be marginalized for his indefensible views.”
Very well, sir. Please show me where I am wrong in the above, and I will acknowledge it publicly here. I believe I have just shown my views not to be indefensible at all, and invite you to respond.
Says Dean: “Indeed, should I compile a list of various scriptural and doctrinal points in Judaism, as a person hostile to Judaism, and present them to you as a mass indictment of your entire faith? ‘Jimmy the Dhimmi’ does this every day. So does Robert Spencer. Would you appreciate that crap? I don’t think you would. I can make Judaism look pretty frakking evil if I want to. It wouldn’t even be hard.”
No, sir, it is not I who do it. It is not I, but jihad terrorists acting in the name of Islam, who make Islam look “pretty frakking evil” every day, and I don’t have to try hard at all to find them. I merely report every day on how jihad terrorists invoke the Qur’an and Muhammad’s words and deeds to justify their actions. And I have called upon peaceful Muslims to confront these elements of Islam and repudiate them, and to work to try to ensure that they do not inspire violent acts in the future. And for this I will not back down or apologize, no matter how much abuse you heap on my name and my work.
Dean also says: “…just ASK some Muslims what THEY think it means.” Well, actually, I have done that, and I think you should do that, Dean. You may be surprised what you hear if you ask Muslims if they think Muhammad provides a normative example for human behavior. You would no doubt be very surprised to find that I begin my book The Truth About Muhammad by showing how both peaceful and violent Muslims invoke Muhammad’s example to support their positions. After all, you think I don’t believe there are any peaceful Muslims, so I wonder how those pages got into the book.
And finally Matoko says: “how many times have you heard spencer insist that the Qur’an is immutable, revealed, unchangeable, consistent and not open to contextual interpretation? according to spencer himself al-insan al-kamil cannot mean two different things in the same Qur’an.”
How many times? Maybe, um, zero? I have never said this, and I challenge her or anyone to demonstrate otherwise. In fact, I have explained many times the contextual interpretation used by many Muslims that abrogates some verses in favor of others. I certainly have never said it is consistent. And I have never come remotely close to saying that “al-insan al-kamil” or anything else can’t mean two different things at once.
But I have learned from past experience that truth, accuracy, and fairness are not high on the priorities list of either Dean Esmay or “Matoko.” Nevertheless, I offer all this yet again in the first place simply as a defense of the accuracy of my work. Esmay’s vicious character assassination is beneath contempt, but at least here I have offered evidence for my positions, clarification of those positions, and evidence that Matoko’s conclusions are wrong — for any reasonable people who may find their arguments compelling.
To sum up: Matoko heard someone on the Eteraz site say something, and she wanted to believe it. She told it to Dean Esmay, and he wanted to believe it. Neither did even the most elementary research, or even a Google search. Now they are celebrating their fish barrel-shooting without a leg to stand on at all, believing what they want to believe in the face of the obvious veneration in which Muslims hold Muhammad — a veneration of which we were vividly reminded by Cartoon Rage and Pope Rage. But this they do not wish to see, because it does not accord with their view of the world, and of my all-encompassing evil and stupidity.
Fish. Barrel. Blam.
UPDATE: Dean Esmay has sent me this comment he posted on his original article. (You can see what that “Roob” business is all about here.) Here is just a bit of what passes for rational argumentation in Dean’s world — you can see the whole thing at the link. He is mostly berating me for supposedly knowing no Muslims, which is false and in any case something he is in no position to know.
Here’s what I predict for you, Roob: you will die alone, unmourned and unloved. And in your last moments on Earth, if you have any conscience at all, you will wonder if your whole purpose on Earth wasn’t just to serve as a warning for others about the dangers of hatemongering and rampant stupidity.
You think I’ve got you wrong? Send me a private email that neither of us will ever reprint under any circumstances. Tell me I how got you wrong, and why I got you wrong.
Otherwise, it’s all between you and your Saviour.
I must say I’m taken aback by the open hatred, vile slander, and unhinged personal nature of his remarks toward me. I do not know this man, we have never met, and he obviously knows virtually nothing of my real positions or the nature of my work. Yet he feels free to damn me with positively breathtaking intensity, condemning me to a lonely death and hellfire to boot. And you’ll note, there is absolutely nothing, not a syllable, about the substance of my reply above. The facts, it seems, just do not matter for Mr. Dean Esmay.
With this kind of frothing, carpet-chewing, wall-kicking hysteria, and consistent refusal to engage in rational discussion, I do wonder — again — why anyone takes this man seriously.
Here, for your reference, is how I responded:
I am consistently astonished by the naked hate and slander you direct toward me.
You better check that “Roobart Sbunsar” business: your friends lied to you: http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/011704.php
Meanwhile, you have never acknowledged that Tashbih Sayyed, a Muslim and the editor of Muslim World Today, is a member of the Jihad Watch Board of Directors.
But don’t let the facts get in the way of your unhinged, scurrilous attacks. They never have before.
Oh, and print this or not as you wish.