What is going on at Fox, with their continual promotion of slyly deceptive Ahmadi Muslim apologists for jihad terror? First it was the habitually dishonest, venomously defamatory, and overweeningly arrogant Qasim Rashid, and now it is his oleaginous, ostentatiously pious partner in deception, Harris Zafar. It’s funny also that Zafar here is arguing with Dinesh D’Souza, who a few years ago repeatedly insisted that Islam was a Religion of Peace in several debates with me, including at CPAC 2007. Apparently I convinced him.
“9/11 museum’s Al Qaeda documentary does not tell the truth,” by Harris Zafar, FoxNews.com, May 15, 2014:
I was invited to appear alongside Dinesh D’Souza as a guest on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” on Tuesday night, May 13, to answer the question of why many Muslims and non-Muslims have taken issue with the film “Rise of Al Qaeda,” which is set to air within the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City.
Museum officials screened the hitherto unreleased film to specific groups and received strong critical feedback about how the film seems to conflate the religion of Islam with the terrorists who brought down the World Trade Center.
As a Muslim, I begin by firmly stating, without any hesitation, that September 11 is an integral part of United States history, and the museum absolutely must capture accurately what happened to our nation that day. Part of that narrative is certainly the need to identify Al Qaeda, based on its involvement in the tragedy.
What has caused pause for many Muslims and non-Muslims, though, is when acts are labeled as Islamic, Islamist or with Islamic Arabic terms like jihad – for the use of such terms implies that acts of violence, death and terrorism are consistent with the religion of Islam. The purpose of the museum is to capture the facts of history, and a large body of people believes the use of these terms in the film is not adequately nuanced.
Dinesh D’Souza and the 9/11 Museum aren’t the ones labeling the 9/11 mass murder attack a jihad. It was the hijackers and plotters themselves.
In March 2009, the masterminds of the 9/11 plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ramzi bin As-Shibh, Walid bin ‘Attash, Mustafa Ahmed AI-Hawsawi, and ‘Ali ‘abd Al-’Aziz ‘Ali – styling themselves as the “9/11 Shura Council” –wrote a lengthy communiqué titled “The Islamic Response to the Government’s Nine Accusations.” In it, they wrote: “Many thanks to God, for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion….We ask to be near to God, we fight you and destroy you and terrorize you. The Jihad in god’s [sic] cause is a great duty in our religion.” They quoted numerous Qur’an verses, including one stating that “to those against whom war is waged, permission is given (to fight,) because they are wronged and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid” (22:39), and another commanding Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but be not the transgressor, Allah likes not the transgressors” (2:190). They even quoted the notorious “Verse of the Sword”: “Then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, and besiege them and lie in wait for them in each and every ambush” (9:5).
To cinch their case, they used two verses enjoining Muslims to strike terror into the hearts of their foes: “Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, for that they joined companies with Allah, for which he has sent no authority; There [sic] place will be the fire; and evil is the home of the wrongdoers” (3:151); and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the heart of the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (8:60).
Hijacker Mohammed Atta wrote this just before the attack: “When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. God said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, ‘Come hither, friend of God.’ They have dressed in their most beautiful clothing.” The “Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities” quote is also from the Qur’an (47:4). The gardens and women of Paradise are also spoken of in the Qur’an (52:17-20; 55:62-76; etc.), underscoring the fact that Atta and his companions saw their mission and goal in exclusively Islamic terms.
In Osama bin Laden’s letter to the American people, which was published on November 24, 2002, he put it succinctly: “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.” This was the ultimate purpose of the 9/11 attacks: to weaken the American economy, so that ultimately the American government would collapse. That, presumably, would end what bin Laden and his allies considered to be unacceptable American interference in Muslim countries, and pave the way for the U.S. itself to become an Islamic state.
Five years have passed, and no moderate Muslim authority has taken up this Islamic case for 9/11 and refuted it on Islamic grounds. This doesn’t mean that the jihadist argument is ipso facto correct, but for Zafar to pretend, and to demand that the 9/11 museum pretend, that the 9/11 plotters had no Islamic case and did not identify Islam as the motive and justification for their actions simply flies in the face of the facts.
Of course, such words are indeed only words. They are by no means as harmful to the image of Islam as the acts of violence committed by extremists in various parts of the world, all of whom claim adherence to the religion of Islam.
So, as a Muslim, not only do I take exception with indiscriminate violence and murder being labeled “Islamic,” “Islamist” or “jihad,” more importantly I take greater offense to the militant perversion of Islam espoused by lunatics claiming justification within my faith.
If Zafar really objects to this, he should refute their justification on Islamic grounds, not demand that it be covered up and not discussed at the 9/11 Museum.
Politically motivated radicals who commit these atrocities use their faith to glorify themselves and claim a higher meaning or purpose for what they are about to do, and that is a problem that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been tackling for over a century while at the front lines of fighting extremism; it’s in our DNA. Our global leader, His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, fights extremism every week by condemning barbaric acts committed in the name of Islam.
People like Dinesh D’Souza, however, overtly and deliberately go so far as to blame the religion of Islam itself as the single motivating factor behind terrorist acts. It amazes me that 12 1/2 years after 9/11, someone can claim with a straight face that Islam is truly to blame for these atrocities.
D’Souza, of all people, is not blaming the religion of Islam itself. He is noting, correctly, that 9/11 was a jihad attack. That has to be confronted by Muslims and non-Muslims who profess to oppose it, if anything effective is to be done to prevent such attacks from happening again.
The same man who argued that we must separate Jesus from “the historical injustices perpetrated in the name of Christianity” now makes the patently absurd claim that Muhammad and the religion of Islam are to blame for injustices perpetrated in the name of Islam.
This echoes the all too common rhetoric that violence committed by Muslims is a legitimate demonstration of Islam, while Muslim positions for freedom, education, liberty, peace and women’s rights are illegitimate demonstrations of Islam. Thus, while both violent Muslims and peaceful Muslims claim motivation by Islam’s teachings, only the violent ones understand Islam.
This is precisely the argument D’Souza made after my interview segment ended, when he claimed “the terrorists who did 9/11 said they were doing it in the name of Islam … these are very pious Muslims who did what they did in the name of Jihad.” He concluded that these 9/11 attackers are getting Islam right.
Perhaps this is part of D’Souza’s continued regression from polemic Christian author to political provocateur. He claimed that the Islamic concept of Jihad is a holy war waged by Muslims to violently spread their faith.
All too many Muslims believe that, or more precisely, that jihad is a means to spread the hegemony of Sharia. If Zafar really opposes them, he should be talking to them, and refuting their understanding of jihad on Islamic grounds, not scolding Dinesh D’Souza. In reality, jihad warfare against unbelievers is taught by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence:
Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh “˜Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Of course, there is no caliph today, and hence the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).
Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)
Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God”s entirely and God”s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad: “The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state.” (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.
Are all these authorities and scholars “extremists” or “anti-Muslim activists”? Apparently, Zafar would have you think so.
Such intellectual dishonesty is surprising from a man once hailed for his scholarship and reasonable arguments. Or perhaps this is his simple (and perhaps willful) ignorance of Islam in favor of a pre-selected historical narrative that Muslims have violently spread Islam by force since its inception.
Seeing Harris Zafar excoriate someone for intellectual dishonesty is like seeing Lyndon Johnson criticize someone for being loud, crude, blustery and Texan.
Once again, this is factually untrue, and we need not look further than the immutable words of God captured in the Koran, Islam’s Holy Scripture, which absolutely forbids any and all compulsion in matters of religion. Muhammad is repeatedly instructed in the Koran that he has no authority to compel or to be a warder over people. I have dedicated an entire chapter in my new book, Demystifying Islam: Tackling the Tough Questions, to the careful study of the concept of jihad.
Indeed, the Qur’an forbids compulsion in religion, but what does that have to do with 9/11 or the fact that 9/11 was a jihad attack? Zafar ignores (of course) the fact that the Qur’an tells Muslims to fight not in order to convert non-Muslims, but to subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law: “Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, 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.” (9:29)
So let’s have an honest and intellectual dialogue about Islam and all of its concepts, such as jihad.
I’m all for that. But my efforts to engage Zafar, Rashid and others in honest intellectual dialogue about Islam and jihad have been met with rudeness, arrogance, contempt, smears, and defamation — making it clear that Zafar and his ilk don’t really want an honest discussion at all; they want to shut down honest discussion.
Do not turn to those who have no qualifications in Islam to learn about the teachings of its faith. Instead of seeing educated and peaceful Muslims as deceitful, why not see us as a much needed resource to understand this religious practice? My fellow Muslims and I are here for an honest dialogue.
No, you aren’t, as past experience has shown again and again. And I will stop seeing you as deceitful when you stop being deceitful.