Rabbi Deborah Schloss invited local Muslims to attend an “interfaith Shabbat service” at her synagogue in Clear Lake, Texas.
The setting for Shabbat at Temple Beth Tikvah was typical: services followed by a shared potluck supper. What was different on April 7 was that at least half those in attendance at the Clear Lake synagogue were Muslim.
The Muslim guests, members of the Clear Lake Islamic Center, were present to share an Interfaith Shabbat Service. The local dialogue initiative focused on common religious themes.
Following the Shabbat service, TBT Rabbi Deborah Schloss and CLIC Associate Imam Shaykh Ibrahim Ezghair discussed the many similarities between the two Abrahamic faiths.
It is curious that not a single one of those “many similarities” between the “two Abrahamic faiths” is mentioned.
The congregation then shared a dinner of homemade dishes that ranged from biriyani to kugel, along with lively conversations that lasted late into the evening.
Food is always a big part of these interfaith meetings with Muslims, often the most memorable and certainly the least dubious part, of these encounters.
Let’s stop right here, with the “many similarities between the two Abrahamic faiths.” The phrase “Abrahamic faiths,” which has become quite popular in interfaith discussions, has been held up for examination by skeptical scholars, but their findings seem unfortunately never to filter down to the level of such determinedly interfaithing clerics as Rabbi Schloss. Aaron W. Hughes, a Professor of Judaism, has described the category “Abrahamic religions” as coming into use only recently, and notes that “it is a ‘vague referent.’” It is, according to Hughes, “largely a theological neologism” and “an artificial and imprecise” term. “Combining the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions into this one category might serve the purpose of encouraging ‘interfaith trialogue,’ but it is not true to the ‘historical record.’ Abrahamic religions is ‘an ahistorical category.’ There are ‘certain family resemblances’ among these three religions, but the ‘amorphous’ term Abrahamic religions prevents an understanding of the ‘complex nature’ of the interactions among them. Furthermore, the three religions do not share the same story of Abraham.” The main connection is that the three monotheistic faiths all recognize a role for someone named Abraham, but the Abraham of Islam is so different from the Abraham of Judaism as to make claims of commonality ludicrous.
In Judaism, Abraham is the first Patriarch of the Jewish people and the first person to teach monotheism. In Islam, on the other hand, the Muslim Abraham (or Ibrahim) is the one who with his son Ishmael built the Ka’aba, and first gave Muslims their name, for “the faith of your father Abraham” is Islam:
“And strive for Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He hath chosen you and hath not laid upon you in religion any hardship; the faith of your father Abraham (is yours). He hath named you Muslims of old time and in this (Scripture) ,that the messenger may be a witness against you, and that ye may be witnesses against mankind. So establish worship, pay the poor-due, and hold fast to Allah. He is your Protecting friend. A blessed Patron and a blessed Helper!” (Sura 22:78 — Pickthall)
“He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him). (Sura 42:13)
In the Qur’an, the repeated phrase “the religion of Abraham” means Islam, and that “religion” is commended to Jews and Christians, who are rebuked for having rejected it:
“Say: Allah speaketh truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, the upright. He was not of the idolaters.” (Sura 3:95)
“Say: O People of the Scripture! Why disbelieve ye in the revelations of Allah, when Allah (Himself) is Witness of what ye do?” (Sura 3:98)
This is a denunciation of Jews and Christians for disbelieving in what Allah has revealed.
“Say: O People of the Scripture! Why drive ye back believers from the way of Allah, seeking to make it crooked, when ye are witnesses (to Allah’s guidance)? Allah is not unaware of what ye do.” (Sura 3:99)
A further denunciation of Jews and Christians for turning others aside from the way of Allah.
In Islam, Abraham is not “shared” with the Jews and Christians. He is, rather, appropriated in the same way that other figures from Judaism and Christianity, such as Noah and Moses and Jesus, were appropriated, but endowed for Muslims with a completely different significance, as prophets of Islam. Just as the Islamic “Isa” is quite different from the Christian “Jesus,” the Islamic “Ibrahim” has little in common with the Jewish “Abraham.”
According to the Qur’an, Abraham was neither Jew nor Christian:
“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man (hanif) who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.” (Sura 3:67)
Abraham offered only “hostility and hate” toward Jews and Christians:
“There is a goodly pattern for you in Abraham and those with him, when they told their folk: Lo! we are guiltless of you and all that ye worship beside Allah. We have done with you. And there hath arisen between us and you hostility and hate for ever until ye believe in Allah only – save that which Abraham promised his father (when he said): I will ask forgiveness for thee, though I own nothing for thee from Allah – Our Lord! In Thee we put our trust, and unto Thee we turn repentant, and unto Thee is the journeying. (Sura 60:4)
One doubts that Rabbi Schloss is aware of just how much the Muslim Abraham differs from the Abraham of the Torah. The Abraham of the Qur’an is not a Patriarch of the Jews; he offers Jews only his “hostility and hate” because they do not accept Allah. The figure of Abraham is not a unifying but a divisive figure. As Mark Durie has noted, “For Jews he is the Torah-observant father of the Jewish nation, and a reminder of God’s irrevocable covenant with the Jews. For Muslims he is the prototypical Muslim prophet, a prominent forerunner and validator of Muhammad’s claim and the ground of Muslim claims that Islam both predates and supersedes the Biblical faiths.”
What is clear from her comments is that Rabbi Schloss has allowed herself to be persuaded by that deceptive phrase about “Abrahamic faiths” to assume “commonalities” among those faiths that, for Muslims, simply do not exist. These two Abrahams are very different, and the appropriation of the figure of Abraham, turned into a Muslim who “hates” Jews and other Infidels, is nothing for Rabbi Schloss to celebrate.
“We’ve had relations for a long time,” Rabbi Schloss told the JHV. “I’m interested in deepening those relations. I feel compelled by all of the bigotry, ignorance and intolerance that we see in our nation and around the world today. There’s no better time for both of our communities to intellectually know and feel deeply in our hearts that we’re all children of the same G-d. And, we express our relationship to this G-d in diverse and beautiful ways.”
Rabbi Schloss feels compelled “by all of the bigotry, ignorance and intolerance” that she sees “in our nation and around the world” to get to know Muslims better; she is interested in “deepening relations” with them. You can be sure that the “bigotry” and “intolerance” she has in mind is that against, and not from, Muslims. But are Muslims really the victims of “bigotry” (that is, Islamophobia), or are they, rather, the most dangerous of intolerant bigots themselves? Isn’t this “bigotry” and “intolerance” to be found in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Somalia, and dozens of other Muslim countries, to a greater or lesser extent, where the inculcated hatred of non-Muslims is omnipresent — in the school textbooks, in the sermons of imams, in the opinions of muftis, in the speeches of political leaders, in the chatter in cafes and on the streets, on radio and television and the Internet? Isn’t the hatred of the Infidels the message delivered both to and by Muslims living in those Infidel lands? In Rabbi Schloss’s universe, it is Muslims who are victims of “bigotry, ignorance and intolerance.” But every day brings fresh news of some atrocity, in which Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and those without any religion are attacked and killed somewhere in the world by Muslims. At the same time, we almost never hear of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists attacking and murdering innocent Muslims. That suggests that the main “bigotry” and “intolerance” both “in our nation” and “around the world” is quite different from the kind that Rabbi Schloss presupposes and deplores.
You open the paper this week, and the latest such news is of Coptic churches being attacked in Egypt, and Copts murdered, by those claiming to act in furtherance of Islam. Christians have been similarly attacked, raped, murdered in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Syria, Indonesia (where Christian schoolgirls have been decapitated), the Philippines, all by Muslims. Hindus have been attacked in Jammu-Kashmir (has Rabbi Schloss ever heard of the 200,000 Hindu Pandits driven out of that area by Muslim terrorism?), Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia. In India itself, Muslim terrorists have struck against Hindus in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Pune, Varanasi. In Pakistan, Christians and Hindus have been subject to decades of attack, their churches and temples bombed, by Muslims. It is much the same in Bangladesh, where the Hindu population has plummeted, just as it has in Pakistan, since Partition.
Christian towns are overrun and their inhabitants massacred, all over northern Nigeria, in Jos and Abuja, and Kano and Baga and Maiduguri. Schoolgirls by the thousands have been kidnapped in Chibok and other towns by those Qur’an-quoting terrorists of Boko Haram. Two million black Africans, mainly Christians, with some pagans intermixed, have been killed by Muslims in a decades long civil war in the Sudan. A half million blacks were massacred more recently in Darfur by the Muslim Janjaweed. In Somalia, too, Christians are a constant target of Al-Shabaab. Al-Shabaab has also repeatedly attacked targets in largely Christian Kenya — trying first to carefully separate Christians from Muslims — most notably at the Westgate Mall and Garissa University massacres. Buddhist monks and farmers and teachers have been killed by Muslims in Thailand, while the last remaining Buddhists in Bangladesh, in the Chittagong Hills tract, are continually subject to small-scale attack by Muslims. Only in Myanmar have the Buddhists managed to more than hold their own by giving as good as they get (and thereby earning worldwide condemnation for daring to defend themselves with as much ruthlessness as the Muslims exhibit in their attacks).
In Europe, Muslims have used knives, guns, bombs, suicide vests, cars and trucks, against the Unbelievers – in Paris, Nice, and Toulouse, in Brussels (both at the Airport and in the metro), in Madrid (Atocha Station), and Amsterdam (Pim Fortuyn, Theo van Gogh), in London, with targets including riders on seven trains of the Underground, and one bus; in Woolwich, where a lone serviceman, Drummer Lee Rigby, was ghoulishly dismembered by Muslim savages; most recently, four people were run down and killed (and 50 wounded) on Westminster Bridge in what was to have been an attack on Parliament itself. In Berlin and Munich and Ansbach and Wurzburg, Muslims, apparently insufficiently grateful to Mrs. Merkel for letting them in, have run down, stabbed, and shot the Infidel enemy. A careening car was the kuffar-killing weapon of choice a week ago on a Stockholm street. Muslim terrorists recently bombed a metro train in Moscow, not for the first time, and have also killed hostages in a Moscow theatre and been responsible for the deaths of children taken hostage at a school in Beslan.
In the United States, Muslims have murdered thousands of non-Muslims in New York, Washington, Boston, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Orlando, Chattanooga, St. Cloud, and many other places, using hijacked planes, pressure-cooker explosives, trucks and cars, guns, and knives. Is that what Rabbi Schloss was referring to when she deplored the “bigotry” and “intolerance” in our nation?
I’ve left out a lot.
Not only did I list only those attacks on Infidels that came immediately to mind), but I left out listing individually any of the terrorist attacks by Muslims on other Muslims, because they were deemed to be the wrong kind of Muslim — Ahmadis, Alawites, Shi’a, or Sunnis who were not Salafis, or otherwise deemed insufficient in their Islam. But such attacks have taken place in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Gaza.
Many of these attacks are listed at sites online. For Rabbi Schloss, they are just a click away. She could start, for example, at this link. And even such lists grossly underestimate Muslim “bigotry” and “intolerance” because they list only major attacks, not those where no one was hurt, nor those many attacks that were prevented by the security services but still deserve to be listed to indicate the size of the menace, the depth of the hatred. But at least such lists may cause even Rabbi Schloss to begin to get the idea that Muslim violence, both against non-Muslims and the wrong kind of Muslims, has been wracking our giddy globe for the last sixteen years (not to mention the past 1400 years), and shows no signs of abating. And while there have been more than 30,500 Muslim terror attacks in that time, how many terror attacks by non-Muslims on Muslims in Western Europe and North America, during that same period, can she list? It is not “bigotry” to be aware of these attacks, and of what Islamic texts and teachings have prompted them.
As for the “bigotry” she laments – meaning “bigotry” against Muslims – can she point to any textbooks in the non-Muslim world that say the kind of things about Muslims that Muslims are taught about non-Muslims in their textbooks? Is she aware, for example, of what is said about Jews and Christians in Saudi textbooks, texts that are used not just in Saudi Arabia, but sent to Islamic schools all around the world, including some in the United States? Here’s a tiny sample:
“The Hour will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews, and Muslims will kill all the Jews.”
“It’s allowed to demolish, burn or destroy the bastions of the Kuffar (infidels) — and all what constitutes their shield from Muslims if that was for the sake of victory for the Muslims and the defeat for the Kuffar.”
“The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.
Those quotations are from an 8th grade textbook.
A twelfth-grade Saudi textbook on Quranic interpretation professes that “treachery, betrayal, and the denunciation of covenants” are among the attributes of the Jews.
The anti-Semitic libel “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is presented as historical fact in a tenth grade textbook on Hadith and Islamic Culture. More on Saudi textbooks can be found here.
Of course, it’s not just the Saudi textbooks that matter. It’s where this hatred originates, and fills the minds not just of Saudi schoolchildren, but of 1.5 billion Muslims – that is, in the Qur’an itself.
Perhaps Rabbi Schloss, who complains of the “ignorance” of others (about what her peaceful, tolerant Islam teaches) may discover that it is she who needs to familiarize herself with aspects of Islam that she no doubt will find unpalatable, and that until now she has managed willfully to ignore. But we have a right to remind her of what the Qur’an says about the Jews and she has a duty, for the sake of her congregants who may need instruction, to pass on that knowledge. Here’s how Jews are depicted in the Qur’an, and in the leading Qur’anic commentaries, as found in Robert Spencer’s helpful compendium.
The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.
And here, again from Spencer’s discussion of antisemitism in Islam, is how the most important Qur’anic commentators in the past glossed these passages, which they interpreted so as to be even more damning toward the Jews:
The classic Qur’anic commentators do not mitigate the Qur’an’s words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur’an 2:61 (“They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”) this way: “This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.” Another Middle Ages commentator of lingering influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: “The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled.”
Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, “the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with ‘Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews.” The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.
And then there are the Islamic authorities today, who show that these virulently antisemitic passages are not to be “contextualized” but are still valid for Muslims for all time:
Not just contemporary jihadists, but modern-day mainstream Islamic authorities take these passages seriously. The former Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who was the most respected cleric in the world among Sunni Muslims, called Jews “the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.” The late Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”
Another Saudi sheikh, Ba’d bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: “The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places … is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam–which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.”
Rabbi Schloss has apparently been content to make pronouncements about Islam not on the basis of her own study of the texts, especially of the Qur’an and Hadith, and of the teachings derived from them, but instead on the basis of what she has “learned” about Islam as a result of her friendship with, and warm feelings for, the imam’s wife, Jasmine. Here is her saccharine description of that friendship:
“We decided to meet in neutral space. So, we began meeting in the local library, and then a restaurant,” recounted Rabbi Schloss. “We read a book together, written after 9/11 by three women: a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim.”
A guarantee, presumably, of its ecumenical value.
“Over the course of several meetings, the imam’s wife, Jasmine, and I became friends in ways that never would have been possible in mixed company. I consider her one of my closest friends.”
After only “several meetings”?
“She attended my daughter Priya’s Bat Mitzvah four years ago.’
“And, along with two of our congregants, I was honored to attend the wedding of Jasmine’s daughter, Sarah. People at the wedding went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. We felt warmly embraced by all the attendees. These are the types of friendships that can blossom when we embrace those of different backgrounds.”
These “types of friendships” tell Rabbi Schloss nothing about what 1.5 billion Muslims read in the Qur’an and the Hadith, and what they learn there about the duty of violent Jihad to spread Islam, or what they are taught to think about Jews and other Kuffar. If the Imam’s wife Jasmine became “one of [my] closest friends” after just a few meetings, and without discussing the most important aspects of Islam with her new friend, one wonders just how close this friendship with can possibly be. It may be uncharitable to remind Rabbi Schloss that many Muslims are seeking to shore up their positions in American society by finding gullible Kuffar who will respond to smiles and wiles, hence all these Meet-A-Muslim-Neighbor campaigns, which are based on the simple idea that person-to-person outreach should trump all those disturbing passages some Infidel might have run across in the Qur’an and that Muslims are determined to have overlooked.
Imam Ezghair, Jasmine’s husband, notes that “interfaith encounters like this are important, because Muslims are instructed by their faith to reach out to other religious communities, especially the Abrahamic faiths who worship one G-d.” (One God, but a very different God in each case.) In addition, he said, “minority communities in the United States often face similar challenges.” The phrasing here is deceptive. Muslims are not told to “reach out to other religious communities” in the sense in which non-Muslims ordinarily would interpret that phrase. “Reaching out to” implies, for most of us, extending the hand of friendship to, or attempting to meet half-way, or making feel welcome, or extending the hand of friendship to, other religious communities. Muslims are not told to “reach out to other religious communities” in any of those senses, but rather, are commanded to conduct Da’wa among “other religious communities.” They are further instructed that they are not to take Christians and Jews as friends (Qur’an 5.51: O ye who believe! take [sic] not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other). One wonders what Rabbi Schloss would make of 5.51? Does she think it is of no consequence? And what does she think of the instructions to Muslims to make an outward show of friendship to Jews and Christians if they, the Muslims, are still too weak to assert themselves, but to harbor hatred in their hearts? Here is one example from the well-known Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir: “The Most High said, ‘[U]nless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions’ — that is, whoever at any time or place fears their [non-Muslim] evil may protect himself through outward show — not sincere conviction. As al-Bukhari records through Abu al-Darda the words [of the Prophet], ‘Truly, we grin to the faces of some peoples, while our hearts curse them.'”
Rabbi Schloss may be unaware that Muslims are not allowed to take non-Muslims as friends, but that they are permitted, in order to protect themselves and further Islam, to feign friendship even “while our hearts curse them [the Infidels]”? If so, and once she is apprised of them, what will be her reaction? Denial? Anger? Are we not allowed, or even duty-bound, to raise for her some unpalatable truths? What does she make of these Qur’anic passages and commentators? How could she continue to ignore them? Would it really be enough to say “well, I know that Jasmine is one of my closest friends” whatever the Qur’an says? Or perhaps Rabbi Schloss was aware of 5:51 and the comment by Ibn Kathir on the admissibility of faking friendship with Infidels, and simply thought that few Muslims could possibly take such commands seriously. When 1.5 billion Muslims read Qur’an 5:51, don’t we non-Muslims have a right to assume that the vast majority of them will take that verse to heart, and furthermore, don’t we have evidence that they do, judging by their behavior, “in our nation and around the world”?
The “reaching out to other religious communities” of which the Imam speaks is deliberate and disingenuous, for the “reaching out” here refers to Da’wa, the Call to Islam, which is not what non-Muslim Americans think of when they hear the phrase “reaching out.” The Imam was consciously practicing taqiyya, religiously-sanctioned deception, to make it appear that Muslims have no overwhelming need or desire to convert “other religious communities,” but simply want to enroll those communities in larger efforts with their Muslim brothers and sisters. For non-Muslims will assume that “reaching out” to some group, religious or otherwise, means to make a special effort to have contact with its members, in order to try to help them, or to involve them in something that they had previously not taken part in. It does not mean, for most of us, to make contact with non-Muslims in order to persuade them to convert to Islam, but that is what the Imam means when he talks of “reaching out to other religious communities,” even as he knows perfectly well that few will understand him to be expressing that.
For now, the Muslims in Rabbi Schloss’s neighborhood, the ones who have become her new true closest friends, are trying to get their bearings, to establish themselves in a still uncertain environment. Rabbi Schloss is for now a useful tool. And once the Muslim community is larger, and feels more secure, then its members can go about their task of aggressively attempting to convert others; the time is not yet ripe; their numbers are still too low.
Along with that business of “reaching out to other religious communities,” the Imam attempts slyly to suggest that it is because Muslims are a minority, that they are being mistreated, as, he claims, all minorities are mistreated for the mere fact of being minorities. And as fellow victims, other minority groups ought to rally round the Muslims, for “we are – minorities – all in this together.” Here’s how he puts it: “When one of our communities is singled out, it’s important that we stick together. As minority communities, we all have been in these shoes at one time. It is particularly important for me and my community to reach out to the local Jewish community so that they can see us and relate to us, and we to them.” Why such a need to find support among Jews, one wonders? Could it be in order to put paid to some of those rumors about antisemitism among Muslims? And aren’t some Jews, of the rabbi-schloss school, only too susceptible to the challenge of demonstrating their no-hard-feelings broad-mindedness, and to lend a hand to their “Muslim brothers and sisters”?
“When one of our communities is singled out,” the Imam says, we must all rally round. Today it’s the Muslims, yesterday it was the Jews, tomorrow who knows? This suggests more than a hint of inexplicable victimhood. What oh what could be the reason why Muslims might today be “singled out” — if in fact they are? And why is it that Muslims seem to be “singled out” not in just one country, but all over the world, where Muslim migrants, no matter how welcoming the host country or its people, no matter how generous the welfare benefits of every kind lavished on these migrants, seem not so much singled out, as revealing themselves to be singularly unable to integrate peacefully, singularly demanding, and singularly dangerous? Could those 30,500 terrorist attacks by Muslims have anything to do with Muslims being “singled out”? Could it be that not all minorities are equally mistreated, that some minorities might have earned, through their behavior, the distrust and hostility of others? Don’t the endless attacks on Infidels by Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Nusra, Al-Shebaab, Boko Haram, and many other groups and groupuscules, make people in the West more likely to “single out” – with good reason – Muslims, rather than, say, such other minorities as Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Unitarians? Or does none of that matter, and Muslims really are just one more innocuous minority, more sinned against than sinning, mistreated simply because that’s the fate of all minorities? The Imam gives not the slightest hint of recognition – his well-practiced taqiyya must be a sight to behold – of the way Infidels and especially Jews (he is, after all, visiting a synagogue during a Shabbat service) are talked about in the Qur’an or the Hadith. He’s content to declare the willingness of Muslims “to reach out to other religious communities,” secure in the knowledge that the sentiment will be misconstrued.
The Imam might, after all, have taken a different tack, been more of a truth teller, and roundly declared that “it is important that we Muslims discuss openly, and try to change, Islamic teachings about Jews. We shouldn’t try to hide this unpleasant reality, we need instead to join those Muslims who want to reform Islam. We can’t get there if we continue to deny the problem, and if we deny the problem, others will be – are right now — perfectly justified in being suspicious of us. If Jewish and Christian holy books said the kinds of things about Muslims that our texts say about Christians and Jews, I don’t think we’d agree to have these interfaith meetings with Rabbi Schloss. So I am impressed that so many of you have come out this evening to welcome us. But at some point, I think it fair to say, these ‘interactions at interfaith events’ and these ‘positive outcomes [that] happen when laypeople connect on a personal level’ and even Rabbi Schloss’s greeting us ‘in a warm and caring way’ just won’t be a sufficient substitute for a real understanding of Islam. Non-Muslims need and deserve to know why these attacks by Muslims happen, ‘in our nation and around the world,’ and will want to know what is in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Making friends is not enough. We should be willing to discuss, not try to hide or misrepresent, the texts and teachings of Islam, and explain what we hope, and allow ourselves to believe, can be done about them. We are aware of the efforts of those who would reform Islam, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Mohammad Tawhidi, and others. We are also aware of the tremendous forces in Islam that militate against the slightest change, and insist on treating these would-be reformers as apostates who deserve death. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is forever condemned to appearing with a security detail, Ibn Warraq uses a pseudonym, Imam Mohammad Tawhidi now requires a police guard even in Australia. None of us can be sure that any reform of Islam will be possible. Some are hopeful, some are skeptical. But we certainly have to try. And the surest sign of genuine friendship should be our willingness to offer you, Rabbi Schloss, and your congregation, not taqiyya-and-tu-quoque along with the biryani, but the difficult truths about Islam that we have a duty to tell, and you have a duty to hear.”