Longtime Jihad Watch readers may recall Haroon Moghul, a veteran peddler of “Islamophobia” victimhood nonsense. Poor Haroon lives in a dark world where greasy, black-hearted Islamophobes lurk around every corner, such that he has to be constantly on guard, even against “Islamophobic” teen baristas: his Starbucks name is not Haroon but “Dwayne.” But despite fear of “Islamophobia” stalking him even to Starbucks, Moghul is no shrinking violet; on the contrary, he is a veteran trafficker in defamation and a deeply dishonest writer who cynically takes advantage of his audience’s ignorance about Islam to invert reality, portraying Muslims as victims of a cruel “Islamophobia” machine, instead of non-Muslims threatened by the global jihad.
Now he has taken to the Washington Post, which is always open to publishing Islamic apologetics and polemics against “Islamophobia,” to claim that Islam is a religion not just of peace, but of love as well. Evidence? The Taj Mahal! This is as ridiculous as saying that Christianity is a religion of heavy makeup and huge false eyelashes because of Tammi Faye Bakker, and it just shows how little Haroon Moghul and others of his ilk have to go on when they try to whitewash Islam’s violent theology and bloody history.
“Islam was a religion of love, and the Taj Mahal proves it,” by Haroon Moghul, Washington Post, February 12, 2016:
In the early 1630’s, right around the time the Puritans were beginning to build Boston, Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth. In those days, tragically, many women died in similar circumstances. But Mahal was a queen. Her husband was ruler of what may have been the wealthiest empire in the world. His power and riches were immense.
The gratuitous mention of the Puritans is unlikely to be simply an attempt to give the reader some historical context. The signal here is that while the Mughal emperor was performing this great act of love, building the Taj Mahal as a monument to his beloved late wife, over in the U.S. there were the Puritans — the Puritans, that is, of Leftist caricature: superstitious, hateful, violent, self-righteous, and sexually repressed. No Puritan would ever have built the Taj Mahal for his wife, you see.
But he could not save the love of his life.
In one night, the legends went, all the emperor’s hair turned grey. Grief-stricken and inconsolable, the man whose very name meant “King of the World” ordered her to be entombed. Shah Jahan, the fifth of the sixth great Mughal rulers, commissioned an immense white marble mausoleum, to be set upon a pedestal and surrounded by gardens that echoed the Muslim conception of paradise.
If Shah Jahan wanted the world to remember her as he did, then certainly he accomplished his aim. Rabindranath Tagore called it “a teardrop on the face of time.” UNESCO calls it a World Heritage Site. Most men know it to mean their every romantic gesture will never be enough. You can buy her roses after all, but can you build her a Taj Mahal?
But I propose we see it as a vision of what Islam used to be, and what Islam could be, a building dedicated to love, and to love across boundaries that seem more like vast chasms today. Shah Jahan was a Sunni ruler from a Sunni dynasty. His beloved wife, however, was Shiite. Far from being doomed to fight, they fell in love. They married. They produced the next emperor. And they are now buried peacefully beside one another.
The First Time As Tragedy
It might strike you as surprising that one of the most famous buildings in the Muslim tradition is a monument to love. What’s the first word you think of when you hear “Islam”? Go ahead, be honest. Probably, you didn’t think of “love.” It might be the last thing on your mind. Probably, the first words that you reflexively associate with Islam are the opposite. But there was a time, a very long time, when love, for friends, for intimates, and for God, was the central theme of the Muslim faith, and in the way some Muslims today say “Islam is a religion of peace,” they’d have said “Islam is a religion of love.”
Struggling to make sense of God’s demand that we worship Him exclusively, early Muslims quickly seized upon an analogy to love, a passionate and consuming love that left no room for the other; so powerful was the image and universal the sentiment it declared, that the next great debate seemed to be about whether the lover merged himself into God, and forgot his own personality and reality or instead remained besotted by God, but still a complete and whole person. Does the moth, as the poets would have said, merely revere the candle, or perish inside it?
Muhammad, who Muslims believe modeled the love of God for humanity, was called (and is called) ‘the beloved of God’; the funerals of Sufi saints were called ‘weddings,’ because after a lifetime of preparation for meeting God, the moment was at hand….
Mughal is describing Sufi mysticism, which is all very well, but the mysticism of the Sufis never blunted their taste for jihad. In reality, Sufis have never rejected the necessity of jihad warfare, and have participated in that warfare. Sufis for centuries have aided the Chechen jihad against the Russians; Hasan Al-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood was strongly influenced by them; and some of their most revered figures, including al-Ghazali himself, were quite clear in their espousal of violent jihad and dhimmitude for non-Muslims. And in January 2009, Iraqi representatives of the Naqshabandi Sufi order met with Khaled Mashaal of Hamas, praised his jihad, donated jewelry to him, and boasted of their own jihad attacks against Americans in Iraq.
But because love of one’s wife and love of one’s God were not just seen as complementary, but of the same kind; the former was the model for the latter. The Taj Mahal is of course many things to many people. For my beloved wife, it’s an unfair marker to hold a husband to. (I swear I would if I could.) It should also be a monument to Sunni and Shiite harmony, a reminder of a time when the core of the Muslim faith was love: Love of a person for himself, for his family, for his neighbors, for his Prophet, for his God. A time that shall come again. When Islam can be progressive for its time, when we will make the world beautiful, when we can be unapologetically Muslim and shamelessly besotted, because God is beautiful, as Muhammad said, and loves beauty.
The Taj Mahal is not actually a monument to Islam as a religion of love. It is a monument to how much Shah Jahan loved Mumtaz Mahal. That’s all. There is no indication that Shah Jahan’s love for her was motivated by Islam, inspired by Islam, or had anything to do with Islam at all. It was the love a man had for a woman, a love that billions of men and women have had for each other. Shah Jahan just had the will and the means to express his love more grandly than most men have the opportunity to do. Does that fact make Islam wonderful? No. It makes Haroon Moghul disingenuous.