’ve been waiting to see the analysis of the letter from the 138 Muslim leaders call for common ground with Christians before I blogged on it. Many of the Christian leadership and political pundits shot from the hip and said this was a peaceful overture to non-Muslims and perhaps the beginning of a dialogue of peace between Muslims and non-Muslims.
To bad it ain’t so.
The reason is that we are dealing with an alien culture to our own. One that speaks its own language, has its own pedagogy, and except for a few non-Muslim scholars on Islam like Robert Spencer, it’s a language that the non-Muslim world ceases to understand.
Some say Muslims don’t say what they mean. That there words are a type of lie, or what Muslims call ‘taqiyya’. Though Muslims are permitted to lie and misdirect non-Muslims with their words, they, more often than not, mean exactly what they say. It’s just that the meaning of many of their words is very different from those of non-Muslims.
And the recent letter proves it.
First a personal experience as told by Robert Spencer. He was riding in a cab to some lecture he was doing years ago and saw that the cab driver was middle-eastern. He asked the driver if he was a Muslim. He said yes. Spencer asked why Muslim suicide bombers kill innocent people. The cab driver replied that it was against the Koran to kill innocent people – except if they’re Jews. To Muslims, the word innocent does not apply to everyone. There is a pecking order of innocence.
All Muslims are innocent. People of the Book – aka, the Bible – who welcome Islam either through conversion or submission are innocent. Infidels or those that refuse to accept Islam are not innocent – except the Jews. They’re damned if they do and dammed they don’t.
So let’s look at that letter and see what it really says.
One of the best analyses comes from Phyllis Chesler.
May I suggest that you share the following three points with Christians and Jews (People of the Book) and of course with Muslims whom you may know. These points were made by a Christian student of the Qur’an, “Steve Chambers,” (a pseudonym), who has self-published a book entitled “Jihad On Us All. The Roots and Branches of Islamic Militancy” (and is available through Amazon online). One ex-Muslim and one Christian Qur’anic scholar who do not wish to be named agree with his points.
POINT ONE: The very title of the letter, “A Common Word between Us and You” comes from the Qur’an. Here’s a fuller quote, from 3:63-66:, which says: ‘people of the book, let us come to a common word between us and you that we will worship none except Allah, that we will associate none with him, and that none of us take others for lords besides Allah. ‘if they turn away, say: ‘bear witness that we are Muslims. People of the book [i.e., Christians and Jews], why do you dispute about Abraham when both the Torah and the Gospel were not sent down till after him?’
In other words, the Qur’an – Allah – is saying that the Qur’an’s view of Abraham, including his having been prepared to sacrifice Ishmail rather than Isaac, is correct and the Torah and New Testament are wrong because they were written by human, not through explicit divine revelation. In fact, this verse comes from a later chapter which “abrogates” (nullifies or overturns) earlier more conciliatory chapters and precedes the last chapter or two which call for “offensive jihad” against the “People of the Book.”
TWO: The Letter appears to follow a very ugly and dangerous precedent in Islamic history. Just before Mohammed’s death, he supposedly sent audacious letters to the heads of the three main empires of his day and region – the Persians, Egyptians, and Byzantines. His message: convert or be conquered. All three emperors supposedly laughed him off. Their empires were all conquered by Muslim jihadists.
THREE: The similarities between the religions are not as important as the differences. “Love thy neighbor” does not appear in the Qur’an, except when that neighbor is Muslim. Nor does, “turn the other cheek.” But “submit to Islamic rule or die” does. The Muslim clerics state: “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them – so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.”
Let’s look at those three phases. On the surface non-Muslims would say that, or course, we shouldn’t do those things. But those three phrases are a veiled political statement of Muslim reality today. Waging war against Muslim is in reference to Iraq and Afghanistan. Should we have not gone into Afghanistan after 9-11 to wipe out the jihadists there who claimed responsibility for it? After all, it was OBL, a Muslim, who declared war on us.
And who is oppressing who? Muslims can practice their religion freely in non-Muslim countries but that is not reciprocated in Muslim countries. By constantly whining about being oppressed they seek to gain accommodation and appeasement from the non-Muslim societies to move their agenda forward of Islamitizing the world.
As for driving Muslims out of their homes, this a veiled attempt at capitalizing on the lies of the Left who say our soldiers terrorize innocent Iraqi citizens in their homes.
This is a grotesque bit of taqiyya, (theologically permissible propaganda) not to mention a total misrepresentation of Christian attitudes towards Muslims. After all, in Muslim countries Christians are systematically being driven out, while in Christian countries in the West, Muslims are rapidly increasing.
Here’s another analyses of those phrases from Freedom Fighter’s Journal.
The scholars state: “As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them – so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.”
In other words, we Muslims are not against Christianity, so long as Christians don’t do any of the myriad things we Muslims are hard-wired to regard as “waging war against” us. This is often repeated by apologists of Islam who maintain that Islam, the religion of peace, only resorts to war in self-defense.
Robert Spencer explains just “how elastic and essentially meaningless the concept of fighting only in self defense” actually is in Islam.
By way of example, he records the answer to an inquiry about offensive jihad given by South African mufti Ebrahim Desai, who confirmed that, since “the primary responsibility of the Muslim ruler is to spread Islam throughout the world…if a country doesn’t allow the propagation if Islam to its inhabitants in a suitable manner or creates hindrances to this, then the Muslim ruler would be justified in waging Jihad against this country…If the Kuffar [unbelievers] allow us to spread Islam peacefully, then we would not wage Jihad against them.” (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades).
Spencer concludes the concept has no boundaries at all:
That constitutes a sufficient provocation? Must the defending side wait until the enemy strikes the first military blow? These questions have no clear or definitive answers in Islamic law, making it possible for anyone to portray virtually any struggle as defensive without violating the strict canons of that law. But this also renders meaningless the oft-repeated claims that jihad warfare can only be defensive.
As we’ve seen, Muslims can justify defensive warfare over slights including a non-belligerent Christian leader addressing a Christian audience (Benedict at Regensburg), in a Christian nation and making mention of some failings of Islam, or the insupportable cartoon riots when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published drawings of Mohammed–neither of which remotely entailed waging war on Muslims nor driving any from their homes: (but of course, many found themselves “oppressed” by being forced to share a planet with people holding contrary opinions about the Prophet!).
Any abused enabling wife will tell you that her black eyes are not the fault of her husband for being a brute, but her fault for always doing things that drive him crazy. If she would just give him what he needs to remain peaceful, he’s as harmless as a lamb.
And what does the Vatican think of this letter after studying it over the last week or so?
The top Vatican official for Islam has praised a novel Muslim call for dialogue but said real theological debate with them was difficult as they saw the Koran as the literal word of God and would not discuss it in depth.
Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, in an interview on Friday with the French Catholic daily La Croix, also said Christians would have to discuss curbs on building churches in the Islamic world in the dialogue advocated by 138 Muslim scholars in the appeal.
His interview, coming after mostly positive comments by other Catholic Islam experts, signaled the world’s largest Christian church wanted a serious dialogue with Muslims that did not avoid some fundamental issues dividing the religions.
“Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Koran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God,” Tauran said. “With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith.”
The fact that Muslims can build mosques in Europe while many Islamic states limit or ban church building cannot be ignored, he said. “In a dialogue among believers, it is fundamental to say what is good for one is good for the other,” he said.
Right. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. At least they have their heads screwed on straight and can see through the taqiyya of the letter.