More news than usual from the Muslim world in the week ending October 9th 2009.
Iranian so-called “Justice” condemned to death a former demonstrator (Le Figaro). He was charged and convicted of “waging war against God.” His lawyer pointed out that he was not armed when he was arrested in a demonstration. No need to be. If the Supreme Council of Clerics represents God on Earth, any criticism is an act of war against God. Impeccable logic.
Elsewhere, high-level Muslim authorities seem to be waking up, at last; two in one week. But first, a vocabulary brush-up for those of you who attended a Community Studies Program, or an Ethnic Studies Program, or a Women’s Studies Program.
“Islamic” and “Muslim” are synonymous. They both mean “in submission (to God’s will).”
An Islamist is a Muslim who wants to establish a single state for all Muslims, under religious Islamic law – Sharia – rather than the mixture of Islamic principles and Western-style civil and criminal codes prevailing in most predominantly Muslim countries.
In many cases, the Islamic law the Islamist refer to, or think they refer to means fundamentalist law from the Middle Ages. Curiously much of it is far from the Koran, the basic Muslim religious book. It also ignores the modernizing effect of several centuries of updating by Muslim scholars.
The current “Islamic Republic of Iran” gives you an idea of what Islamists aspire to.
Many Islamists, not all, are also violent jihadists. “Jihad” just means “struggle.” It can mean struggle against one’s own sin, against sin in general, or against non-Muslims. Sometimes, it means squarely holy war against “unbelievers.” Unbelievers are those who disagree with jihadists about the nature of God and of divine law. The fact is that violent jihadists have murdered many more Muslims than non-Muslims.
The Koran clearly differentiates between Muslims, Christians and Jews, people who follow a sacred book, and everyone else. Christians and Jews are supposed to be protected minorities are supposed to be tolerated. (Even the Hamas Charter – linked on this blog – admit this.) Christians and Jews may live in a country under Islamic rule but they have to pay extra taxes.
There will be a quiz!
In the week ending Saturday 10/9/09, the Santa Cruz Sentinel published a longish AP report on the declaration of a top, or of the top Egyptian Muslim cleric. He is banning full-face mask for women in all schools over which he has authority. This matters, for three reasons. First, he is the head of Al Azhar mosque and university to which many schools In Egypt belong. Second, Islam has no Vatican but the most influential Islamic institution in the world is undoubtedly Al Azhar. Third, Egypt accounts for one third of the Arab population of the world. As goes Egypt, so goes the Arab world is the common wisdom.
The sheik’s statements were not novel from the standpoint of religious doctrine but they were politically courageous in their firmness and clarity.
The cleric is quoted as saying forcefully, “ [ the face veil] has nothing to do with Islam…I know about religion better than you [girls] and your parents.”
The statement may seem superfluous because all students of the Muslim religion already know that the veil is not required by their religion. However, many ordinary Muslims, including in the US and in other western countries, don’t seem to know that. In many cases, they seem to have been taught a mixture of elementary Islamic doctrine and tribal religions and superstitions. Many are not intellectually equipped to disentangle the two.
Incidentally, the French government has long banned even the head scarf in public schools, for girls under eighteen. I think the main Muslim representative organizations in France supported the French government in this matter. Turkey, nominally a 95+ Muslim countries has long banned the head scarf in all public buildings, including courts. (The Turkish rules are being questioned more and more as I write.)
There was another important declaration, by another Egyptian Muslim cleric Thursday in the WSJ (10/08/09) The president of the Islamic religious courts for Egypt made the statement. Islamic courts rule on matter of morals and on the conformity of Egyptian law to Muslim legal principles. After the a convoluted speech, Arabic style, and a ritualistic call for the end of Israeli occupation of Palestine, Sheik Ali Goma said the following:
“I am going to a conference on Muslim- Christian understanding in Georgetown, I will insist that representatives of all Abrahamic faiths be included. “
Those are Muslims, Christians and Jews. The gentleman was calling directly for a dialog with Jews. This is a new one for a highly placed Egyptian although it’s completely in keeping with Islamic tenets.
Earlier in his column, the sheik had squarely condemned 9/1 1 terrorism and violence against civilians in general.
Again, none of this is new from the standpoint of religious principles. I had just not heard it so clearly said until now.
Both clerics are brave men. They are openly courting assassination. I, for one, am grateful for this ray of hope from that part of the world. The Obamanationist media did not seem to notice. As I keep telling you, they are lazy, not evil.