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Dare to Speak

Islam versus Free Democracy and Free Enterprise

By Al Bailey Copyright 2006. All Rights Reserved. No portion of this work may be reproduced in any form, by Photostat, microfilm, xerography, or any other means, or incorporated into any retrieval system, electronic or mechanical, without the written permission of the author.

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1: The new Cold War

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........................................................................................................ Chapter 2: A personal realization

................................................................................................. Chapter 3: Koranic teachings that shape Islamic nations

............................................................. The state of Muhammad’s world when he revealed the Koran

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41

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Is it legitimate for a Westerner to critique the Koran?

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Interpreting the Koran

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The five pillars of Islam: requirements for being a Muslim

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  • 1. Declare, with belief, that “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear

witness that Muhammad

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  • 2. Pray five obligatory prayers per day (Salah)

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  • 3. Give an offering of obligatory charity (Zakah or Zakat)

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  • 4. Participate in a fast during the month of Ramadan

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  • 5. Travel to Mecca

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The missing pillar: Love

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Islam’s substitute for the missing pillar of Love: War against Infidels

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The Koran’s view of non-Muslims

........................................................................................... A tool for Islam’s war against Infidels: Taqiyya (dissimulation)

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The “House of Peace” and the “House of War”

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The Koran’s view of Slavery Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

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Chapter 4: What are some of the characteristics of an Islamic Nation?

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The treatment of non-Muslims

................................................................................................ The spoils of holy war against Infidels (war booty)

........................................................... The taxation of infidels who live in the House of Submission

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The treatment of Muslims who convert to another religion

............................................... How essential are these characteristics to the success of an Islamic Nation?

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The treatment of women

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The treatment of secular Muslims and liberal Muslims

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Islamic Economics

.................................................................................................................. Banking, Investment, and Insurance Inheritance

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Corruption Other aspects of Islamic Economics

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................................................................................... The over-all impact of Islam on a nation’s economy and development

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Verdict: Islam’s road to economic hell is paved with pious intentions

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.............................. Chapter 5: Free Democracy & Free Enterprise vs. Islamic Democracy & Islamic Economics . 174

A critique of cultural preservation for preservation’s sake

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Two aspects of Western culture worth passing on to our children What do the terms “Free Enterprise” and “Free Democracy” mean?

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Islam opposes Free Democracy and proposes Islamic Democracy Islam opposes Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Worship

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3

The futility of seeking freedom and amity with Islamic governments

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Islam opposes Free Enterprise and proposes Islamic Economics

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Chapter 6: Islam overrules Science

............................................................................................. Chapter 7: The State of Islam Today

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Stuck at a fork in the road

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Turkey

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Iran

...................................................................................................................................... Other Islamic nations, and their relationships with the West

............................................. The House of Islam’s relationships with specific non-Islamic nations

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Israel

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France

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Canada

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United States

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Russia

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Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)

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Armenia Cyprus ................................................................................................................................. Germany India .................................................................................................................................... Nigeria ................................................................................................................................. East Timor

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........................................................................................................................... The Philippines

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Thailand

.............................................................................................................................. The Netherlands

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Spain

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United Kingdom

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Denmark

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Relations between governments and peoples in the “House of Peace”

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Bloody borders, or just plain bloody?

................................................................................. A recipe for conflict: Mix Church with State; bind tightly

................................................. Muhammad’s reign: Church and State bound together in one Messenger

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Abrogation and its affects on Islamic Doctrine and Law Islamic guidance for daily living after Muhammad’s death

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The history of leadership in the Islamic world

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The real political choice that Islamic Law offers: dictatorship or

chaos. ...........................

Future leadership of the Islamic world

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Relations between the House of Islam’s political leaders and its people

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Chapter 8: What next?

................................................................................................................ Appendix A: The Medina Charter (622 C.E.)

............................................................................. Appendix B: Excerpts from Shari’ah regarding marriage

.......................................................... Appendix C: Verses where the Koran attaches Allah’s will to Muhammad’s will

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Appendix D: Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights

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Appendix E: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Glossary of Arabic, Ottoman, and Islamic Terms

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Index

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Introduction

Much has been written about Islam, its ethics, and its relationships with other religions. Despite this large volume of work, there appears to be something missing, something even more basic and important to people of all faiths. What is missing is a study of Islam with regard to governance, particularly regarding its relationship to what we call democracy. The goal of this book is to fill the gap by providing this investigation and presenting its findings.

Why choose this subject? Because, throughout the world, we receive starkly conflicting information about Islam. Apologists claim that Islam is a religion of peace. They also claim that our democratic traditions of religious tolerance require us to respect the freedom of Muslims to practice Islam. At the same time, we see Muslims practicing violent religious intolerance around the world. This intolerance is often against their non-Islamic neighbors, who range from Orthodox Russians to Sudanese Christians, Hindu Indians, Catholic Filipinos, and Buddhist Thais. Additionally, Muslims practice religious intolerance against each other. We hear of Sunni Muslims persecuting Shiite Muslims, Shiite Muslims persecuting Sunni Muslims, and Wahhabis persecuting everyone else.

Clearly, something is wrong with this picture. Yet many people fail to associate the violence committed by Muslims with Islam itself. They steadfastly seek alternative explanations, such as colonialism, tribal tensions, racism, and poverty. They refuse to even consider the idea that Islam may be inherently aggressive and intolerant toward other religions.

This self-deception cannot continue for long. Islam’s presence and influence is growing throughout the world, and it demands our attention. For example, Nigeria’s northern states announced their conversion to Islamic Law in 2002 by sentencing several women to death by stoning for adultery. In 2006, the entire nation of Denmark was terrorized by Muslims around the world because a mid-sized, independent Danish newspaper published some political cartoons of Muhammad.

An ever-growing cascade of violence tells us that we are approaching a time when we will have no choice but to confront two disturbing possibilities:

Islam is fundamentally incompatible with democracy as we know it, because it opposes

the individual freedoms and protections that citizens of democracies cherish. Muslims are in the process of using our own democratic institutions to subvert democracy and to replace democratically determined law with Islamic Law.

Before you dismiss these words as bigotry, please allow me to explain:

In the United States, we have embraced principles of tolerance and freedom that may be described as “live and let live.” Applied to religion, “live and let live” means that no one has the right to force their beliefs on others; nor may they prevent others from changing their beliefs. While Americans may not always live up to these principles, we aspire to them, and use our freedoms to correct ourselves as we progress.

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Tolerance and freedom are essential parts of what we call democracy, which political theorists usually call Liberal Democracy or Western Democracy. In Dare to Speak, this form of democracy is called Free Democracy.

Religious tolerance is an essential principle we live by in the United States and throughout the Westernized world. This principle has evolved from centuries of futile religious battles that caused us to violate the very beliefs we claimed to fight for. It was codified in complete form by the Constitution of the United States, which has been an example and a beacon of hope for nations around the world. While these nations have created constitutions of their own, to serve their particular circumstances, the U.S. Constitution has remained a guiding reference for progressive thinkers everywhere. Why? Because it exemplifies a framework for governance that grants unprecedented powers and freedoms to its citizens.

In contrast, there is a part of the world where Free Democracy has not flourished, and its freedoms are not valued. Free Democracy did not evolve there, and we are discovering that it does not grow there, despite a variety of working examples in other parts of the world. This infertile soil is the House of Islam.

Why has the form of democracy we cherish failed to take root and grow in the Islamic world? Because Islam ties religion and politics together in a Gordian knot. Islam has its own body of laws, known as Shari’ah, 1 and these laws sharply oppose Free Democracy. Islam and Free Democracy are as opposed to each other as Communism and Free Democracy, or Fascism and Free Democracy.

Many people refuse to consider the possibility that Islam and Free Democracy are irreconcilably opposed to each other. After all, the benefits of Free Democracy are obvious, and many Islamic nations have worked diligently to adopt it. Unfortunately, the fruits of these efforts confirm that Islam and Free Democracy do not mix. Islamic nations like Turkey, Egypt, and Algeria have histories of secular governments, but those governments have uneasy relationships with their citizens. These nations have often found themselves resorting to warlike tactics against Islamic fundamentalists to preserve themselves. In Iran, Islam’s mullahs won such a war, and they now use their authority to thwart the superficially democratic institutions they control.

What makes Islam different from other religions? Why is it hostile to Free Democracy? To put it plainly, it does not believe in “live and let live.” Devout Muslims do not feel obligated to convince others to convert to Islam through reason. Instead, the Koran encourages them to use persecution. According to the Koran, 2 people of other faiths are allowed to continue in their practices only if they acknowledge that Islam is a superior religion and pay extortion money to an Islamic government in the form of special taxes. 3 This exception, which is extolled by Muslims as an example of tolerance, is actually designed to grind down other religions to nothing over time. To people who are weak, or young in their faiths, this persecution raises a

  • 1 Also referred to as Sharia or Shariah.

  • 2 The Koran, which is also spelled “Qu’ran” or “Quran,” is a compilation of the recitations of Muhammad, believed by Muslims to be literal words of Allah.

  • 3 Jizyah, which is a per capita tax imposed on adult male non-Muslims living under Muslim rule.

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question: “Why pay extra taxes and accept an inferior position in society when all I have to do is convert to Islam?”

In a sense, these mercenary conversions are a saving grace. There are many Muslims in the world who are Muslim in name only. They know that if they left Islam, their Apostasy 4 would be considered a capital crime. They are prisoners of their faith instead of believers. Therefore, the apparent strength of Islam can be deceptive, and many nominal Muslims are far more benevolent than Islam calls them to be.

Many of us Westerners grew up ignorant of Islam. Therefore, with few experiences to contradict our democracy-inspired beliefs, which seek to accommodate different religions, we have absorbed the notion that the world’s religions as merely different paths to the same goal. For people who still believe this, the words of this book will come as a shock, because they reveal that Islam violates this assumption. Dare to Speak will show that Islam is overtly hostile toward other religions. More importantly, it will show that Islam is overtly hostile to non-Islamic governments.

This book will also uncover the subterranean war that Muslims are currently waging against the world’s Free Democracies. It will lay out the issues, provide references to back them up, and begin to discuss the actions that Westerners can take to preserve Free Democracy for future generations.

This book quotes extensively from the Koran (a compilation of recitations that Muhammad claimed were Allah’s) and the Hadith (compilations of Muhammad’s other words and deeds), as well as recent news articles and modern religious books written by Muslims. It does so to demonstrate two key points:

  • 1. The portions of Islamic holy scripture that carry disturbing messages are not merely stray quotes in otherwise benign books. They are essential components of Islam, and the Koran and the Hadith emphasize them repeatedly. Faithful Muslims take these messages seriously and act on them.

  • 2. The actions of Islamic terrorists around the world are not merely the products of a few deviant minds or some splinter group; they come from the violent messages of one “eternal” source: Islamic holy scripture .

Dare to Speak will demonstrate that, as long as Islam is treated as a respectable religion, and not as a hostile political ideology bent on global domination, Islam will continue to expand and sow its seeds of terror throughout the world. If we allow this to happen, the nations that currently embrace Free Democracy may one day find themselves destitute and chaotic, with their democratic laws replaced by Islamic ones.

As you read this book, you will find many references embedded directly into the text rather than exiled to appendices or footnotes. This structure gives you direct access to the sources of Dare to Speak’s assertions, to help you view them easily and form your own conclusions.

4 The abandonment of one’s religion. While most religions frown upon Apostasy, Islam views it, in specific legal terms, as the greatest of all crimes that a Muslim can commit. It is a crime punishable by death.

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If, after reading this book, you doubt its assertions, please do your own independent research. With vast resources and newspaper archives available on the Web and in libraries, your job will be easy and inexpensive. As a starting point, I highly recommend the University of Southern California’s “Compendium of Muslim Texts,” which provides on-line access to three translations of the Koran, plus a comprehensive compilation of hadiths, along with keyword search functions for all texts. You can find this site at www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/reference.html.

Please do not dismiss or pre-judge the points of this book if they disagree with what you want to believe. You have a duty to yourself and your family to understand the issues we face, so that you can respond to them appropriately. Your actions may impact your children far more than yourself.

Before moving on to the first chapter, I would like to tell you why I call this book Dare to Speak. According to Islamic Law, these writings could easily be interpreted as insulting to Islam, and to Muhammad himself. The punishment for such insults, according to Shari’ah, is severe and may include death. Therefore, by writing to you, I am truly putting my life on the line. But this is why I feel I must speak. If I was silenced by fear, it would already be too late; Islam would be in control of my life, and yours.

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Chapter 1: The new Cold War

Back in the exciting days of the late ‘80s, when it became apparent that Communism had failed, and that Free Democracy held the keys to the future, Francis Fukuyama wrote a hopeful article called The End of History? which was later expanded into a book. 5 As he saw it, history records the evolution of society. Through it, we have learned how primitive tribes progressed through various forms of government and economy in a series of experiments that ultimately led to a perfected structure that Fukuyama felt could no longer be improved. He believed that, while actual governments and laws may still evolve, the basic structures of modern democracy, including Free Enterprise and the fair treatment of minorities, were firmly established and needed no additions. He, and many others, believed that the battle between Communism and Free Democracy was the last great conflict of humankind. The popular image of Afghani Muslims at the time was that of courageous freedom fighters, who helped the West finally break the back of the Soviet Union. With the Cold War over, we could all look forward to pounding our swords into plowshares and cashing in on the “peace dividend.”

Only one minor problem remained: the Middle East. But Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres 6 were having productive talks in Oslo, 7 and, in 1994, their break-through agreements won them the Nobel Peace Prize. The 1979 revolution in Iran was seen by the general public as an isolated case in an isolated country. The bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon in 1984, which killed 240 Americans, was portrayed as political rather than religious, and rooted in Europe’s occupation of Ottoman territories after World War I. Somalia’s bloody rejection of U.S. aid in 1993 was blamed on inept interference in a chaotic country that the U.S. did not understand. But all those issues were mere side-shows. The main event was Peace in the Middle East. A giddy world prepared for the revelry and looked forward to giving history its final curtain call.

Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist for negotiating away too many Jewish demands. Later, the few remaining negotiating points became stumbling blocks that broke the whole deal. On September 28, 2000, Yasser Arafat declared the Intifada, 8 and Israeli-Palestinian relations fell apart.

An amazing detail in this deadly deterioration is that the area of land that broke the deal is less than 50 square miles, and most of it is barren wasteland. 9 Equally amazing is the fact that no one seems willing to point out that it is absurd to rage eternally over such small stakes.

Why do we ignore the apparent silliness of these people, who sacrifice thousands of lives over a small expanse of arid dirt? It might be because it is too embarrassing – we would rather think

  • 5 The End of History and the Last Man, by Francis Fukuyama, 1992, publisher: Penguin Books

  • 6 At the time, Yasser Arafat was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel, and Shimon Peres was Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

  • 7 Capital of Norway.

  • 8 Arabic term for “uprising.” The Intifada referred to here is more formally known as the Al Aqsa Intifada, or the Second Intifada. It refers to the uprising of Palestinians against Israel, beginning in September 2000, which began as hopes for a resolution on issues unsolved by the 1993 Oslo Accords deteriorated.

  • 9 Apartheid Wall, by Nigel Perry, The Electronic Intifada, 2000-2002 Palestine Independent Media Center.

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that the world is being rocked to its foundations by something important. To Americans, living in a country formed by the Louisiana Purchase, the Alaska Purchase, and the Gadsden Purchase, the situation is unfathomable. If the parties involved really wanted to solve their problems, they could readily do so through some kind of purchase or land swap. There is obviously something more ominous afoot, and it has little to do with land.

Other events soon revealed that history was not going to end any time soon. They included the bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. The United States responded but was ineffective. The country was so caught up with Bill Clinton’s trysts with Monica Lewinski that people barely noticed. Osama bin Laden was a shadowy, unknown figure who had rarely surfaced in the news before these attacks. Some cynics even viewed him as a convenient distraction from Bill Clinton’s impeachment process. After bin Laden openly declared war on the United States, the U.S. assailed him with a military fly-swatter – an ineffective cruise missile attack – and then returned to its scandals.

On September 11, 2001, everything changed. With the Twin Towers collapsing in a cloud of dust, a gash in the Pentagon billowing smoke, and Flight 93 smashing into a Pennsylvania field on its way to Washington, presumably to the White House, the United States woke up and declared its War on Terror and Osama bin Laden.

But how could Osama bin Laden, an outlaw in a remote part of the world, with only a few thousand terrorists at his disposal, strike such a devastating blow? And, how could he elude capture even to this day?

The answer is that bin Laden is not an outlaw: his actions were condoned by his Afghan host, the Taliban. And, despite his apparent outlaw reputation among most Islamic governments, he was considered by many citizens of those governments to be a combination of Robin Hood and spiritual leader. These people saw him, and still see him, as a hero for declaring Jihad 10 against the Infidel West, and they cheer his tirades against the United States.

The alarming truth is that the only thing that can keep Osama bin Laden at large while a $25 million dollar reward hangs over his head is the intense loyalty of a vast multitude of Muslims.

What worldview could possibly unite so many people around this ruthless and murderous terrorist? Bin Laden may have explained it best himself in an interview he gave ABC News reporter John Miller on December 22, 1998. In it, he skillfully combined words that were both gracious to Muslims and menacing to the West:

ABC NEWS You have been charged with masterminding the bombings of the two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Are these charges true?

OSAMA BIN LADEN Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his companions and his kin. Let me begin by stating that we, in the World Islamic Front for jihad against Jews and Crusaders, have…issued a crystal clear

10 1. A Muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels. 2. A crusade or struggle. – The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, ed. Joseph P. Pickett, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

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fatwa 11 calling on the Nation [of Muslims] to carry on jihad aimed at liberating Islamic holy sites, and the Ancient House [the Ka’aba, 12 a cube-like structure in Mecca 13 ], 14 and Al-Aksa Mosque 15 and all Islamic lands.

this…Nation of Muhammad…has responded to this appeal

We will continue this course

... because it is a part of our religion, and because God…ordered us to carry out jihad so that the word of God may remain exalted…If the instigation for jihad against the Jews and the Americans, in order to liberate Al-Aksa Mosque, and the Holy Ka’aba, is considered a crime, let history be a witness that I am a criminal.

ABC NEWS You warned that Americans would die. Then, two months later, the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. Were these bombings because of your fatwa (decree) against America?

BIN LADEN …we have repeatedly issued warnings over a number of years. Following these warnings and these calls, anti-American explosions took place in a number of Islamic countries. Most probably, these acts came about as a result of such calls and warnings…

ABC NEWS If the targets…are Americans, how can the deaths of…Africans be justified?

BIN LADEN …Suppose that the Americans have attacked an Islamic country and kidnapped my children…to use as a shield, and then [they] started to kill Muslims as is the case in Lebanon, Palestine, and these days in Iraq, and also when they supported the Serbs in massacring the Muslims in Bosnia. According to Islamic jurisprudence, if we abstain from firing on the Americans lest we should kill these Muslims…the harm that could befall Muslims at large, who are being attacked, outweighs the good of saving the lives of these Muslims used as shields.

This means that, in a case like this, when it becomes apparent that it would be impossible to repel these Americans without assaulting them, even if this involved the killing of Muslims, this is permissible under Islam…

ABCNEWS The U.S. has also said, in formal charges, that you are in a position to develop chemical weapons and try to purchase nuclear material for weapons. How would such weapons be used?

  • 11 A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar. – The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, ed. Joseph P. Pickett, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.

  • 12 The Ka’aba is the most holy structure in Islam, toward which all Muslims face when they pray. It is also the destination of the Hajj, which is the pigrimmage that each Muslim is to take at least once in a lifetime. The Ka’aba was reputedly built by Abraham and his son Ishmael as the world’s first place of worship for Allah. Islamic tradition holds that the Ka’aba was built in the location of a black stone, possibly a meteorite, which was given by Allah to Adam. That black stone is located in one of the corners of the Ka’aba and is kissed by worshippers during the rituals of the Hajj. Also referred to as Kaaba or Ka’bah.

  • 13 Located in Saudi Arabia. Also referred to as Makka or Makkah.

  • 14 This book uses the following convention when using parentheses in quotations: Square brackets “[ ]” denote comments by the author of this book, while parentheses “( )” denote comments from the source of the quotation.

  • 15 The ancient mosque in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is considered to be the third most holy city by Muslims, because it is the alleged launching point of Muhammad’s famous “Night Journey” to heaven in a dream, discussed later in this book.

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BIN LADEN

…To seek…weapons that could counter those of the infidels is a religious

duty…It would be a sin for Muslims not to try to possess the weapons that would prevent the infidels from inflicting harm on Muslims… ABC NEWS Since the bombings, the U.S. has maintained…forces in Saudi Arabia and recently used them to help in the renewed air strikes in Iraq. What can the U.S. expect from you now?

BIN LADEN

The American forces should expect reactions…from the Muslim world. Any

thief…who enters the countries of others…to steal should expect…murder at any time.

For the American forces to expect anything from me personally reflects a very narrow perception of things. There is a nation which compromises 1200 million Muslims. This nation is angry… … There is no doubt that the treacherous attack perpetrated a few days ago against the Muslim people of Iraq by the United States and Britain [recall that this interview took place in 1998] has confirmed several things, the most important of which is that Britain and America are acting on behalf of Israel and the Jews, to strike at any power in the Islamic world, with a view to paving the way for the Jews to divide the Muslim world once again and enslave it ...

As is known, a great part of the force that carried out the attack came from certain Gulf countries, which underlined the fact that these countries have lost their sovereignty. Now, infidels walk everywhere on the land where Muhammad…was born, and where the Koran was revealed to

him...

This happens while our scholars and Ulemas, 16 who are the heirs of prophets, are in jail.

These Ulemas are jailed while infidels, be they Jews or Christians, are free to go wherever they want in these countries…From here, I call on all Muslims to…form a leadership for resisting this crusader-Jewish invasion. The rulers have become powerless. ABC NEWS You have been labeled as “Public Enemy number 1” by the U.S. government. Do you deserve this label? And, secondly, how can a person who is on the run and who is being pursued come to attack the world’s only “Superpower”?

BIN LADEN Hostility towards America is a religious duty…To call us enemy number one or number two doesn’t hurt us. What we…care for is to please God…by doing jihad in his cause and by liberating Islam’s holy places from those wretched cowards.

…Osama bin Laden is confident that…the Islamic nation will carry out this duty. I have been here for a few years and I have not left Afghanistan. But I am confident that Muslims…will…be able…to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America. ABC NEWS And, last question, have you got any message for the Muslims in the world?

BIN LADEN These days, we, as a nation, are being subjected to an unprecedented offensive. We migrated…to defend the religion of God…to liberate [the] holy Ka’aba…from the crusaders, and to liberate [the] Al-Aksa Mosque and Palestine from the Jews.

16 A body of Mullas (high ranking Islamic religious authorities) – from Mariam-Webster On-Line Dictionary, 2005- 2006 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

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This Ancient House [the Ka’aba] is the center of attraction of people on this earth, physically and intellectually. Our life on this planet would be meaningless if we do not worship the God of the Ancient House. God…will not accept our prayers unless we are facing the Ka’aba…

If we were not to defend God’s Ka’ba and God’s Ancient House, how and for what else are we to do anything to please our God…[?] …Muslims should consider with care the [Koran’s] verses on loyalty, faith and jihad. They should sever any relations with the Jews and the Christians…God almighty says: “Ye who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them for friendship is of them, verily God guideth not a people unjust” 17

This text shows that whoever befriends Jews and Christians becomes like them, and becomes one of them in their religion and in their infidelity. God…indicated in many verses that whoever befriends the infidels becomes one of them…: “To the hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them but a [grievous] penalty.” 18

“Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers, rather than believers; is it honor they seek among them? All honor is with God.” 19 That is why I advise Muslims not to count on present regimes. Instead, they should defend their religion and themselves and the sanctuaries of Muslims. They should consider with care the orders of God…to the Companions of the prophet, to do jihad. And, how He blamed them when they slowed down.

He said in his holy book: “ye who believe, what is the matter with you that, when you are asked to go forth in the cause of God, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do you prefer the life of this world to the hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the hereafter.” 20 And God also says: “when at last the order for fighting was issued to them, behold, a section of them feared men…even more than they should have feared God.” 21

They said: “our Lord, why hast thou ordered us to fight? Wouldn’t thou not grant us respite to our natural term, near enough?” 22 This is a great calamity that has afflicted people these days. They say it would be better to delay jihad…

Whatever their reasons, the main reason is their attachment to this life. God says: “Say, short is the enjoyment of this world. The hereafter is the best for thou who do right…” 23 …That is why Muslims should take comfort in expecting the pleasure of God and their rewards in God’s paradise…May God…give us faith and peace of mind, and help us do his orders and avoid his prohibitions. And God’s peace and blessings be on our prophet Muhammad, and I conclude by praising God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds.

  • 17 Koran, surah 5, verse 51.

  • 18 Koran, surah 4, verse 138.

  • 19 Koran, surah 4, verse 139.

  • 20 Koran, surah 9, verse 38.

  • 21 Koran, surah 4, verse 77.

  • 22 Koran, surah 4, verse 77, continued.

  • 23 Koran, surah 4, verse 77, continued.

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Osama bin Laden inspires many Muslims because his theology and reasoning agree with the Koran. In fact, according to a recent poll by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 24 “The percentage of people expressing ‘a lot of confidence’ or ‘some confidence’ in bin Laden was vastly higher than similar ratings for Bush in the Palestinian Territories (71 percent vs. 1 percent), in Morocco (49 percent vs. 2 percent), in Jordan (55 percent vs. 1 percent), in Indonesia (58 percent vs. 8 percent) and in Turkey (15 percent vs. 8 percent).” In fact, in a July 2005 letter from Ayman al- Zawahiri (bin Laden’s number-two man), to Abu Masab Zarqawi (the now-deceased former head of al Qaeda in Iraq), al-Zawahiri wrote: “The strongest weapon that the holy warriors enjoy is popular support from the Muslim masses…” 25 He also called this fact to President Bush’s direct attention in a recent video where he declared: 26

Bush do you know where I am? I am among the Muslim people enjoying what God has given me from their support and their care and their generosity and their protection, and their participating in jihad until we defeat you, by Allah’s grace and help.

The United States, reputedly the most powerful nation in the world, has led a six-year international manhunt for bin Laden without success. At the same time, al Qaeda and its affiliates have continued to mount deadly attacks around the world. Obviously, bin Laden and his message enjoy strong and widespread support in the Muslim community. As explained in an interview with Afghani Colonel Mohammad Yahya Effendi in a recent National Geographic article entitled Land of the Pashtun: 27

…Anyone who hands bin Laden over to the Americans might be 25 million dollars richer in reward money…but…disgrace would hang over this person, along with his family, clan, and tribe, for many generations. “Osama’s a major Islamic hero,” he added. “Whoever betrays him, why, his life wouldn’t be worth an onion.”

As this book will show, the reason bin Laden enjoys this support is that his call for destruction does not emanate from himself. He simply channels the Koran, which calls all Muslims to oppose the Infidel nations of the world until they surrender to Islam. It is through the submission of Infidels that Muslims believe world peace will finally be achieved.

To many Muslims, who see the world through the lens of ideology, Osama bin Laden is a noble rebel fighting for Allah (the Muslim interpretation of God). They admire his resolve to throw off the House of Islam’s decadent entanglements with the Infidel West and to lead the charge against unbelievers. While many Muslims may disagree with Osama bin Laden’s tactics and timing, they do not dispute his goal.

What are his tactics? Bin Laden seeks to engage the United States and other Western nations in a series of guerrilla actions, proxy wars, and terror campaigns, somewhat reminiscent of the early Cold War. By creating a climate of fear and uncertainty, he aims to undermine, demoralize, and destabilize the nations of the West. Once they are weakened, these Infidel nations will be ripe for Islamic conquest.

  • 24 Arab Hostility Toward US Growing Poll Finds, by Michael Dobbs, Washington Post, June 4, 2003.

  • 25 Bombings reflect Zarqawi’s growing reach, by Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, November 13, 2005.

  • 26 Al-Zawahri in first video since failed U.S. strike, Associated Press, MSNBC News, January 30, 2006.

  • 27 Land of the Pashtun, by Tim McGirk, National Geographic Magazine, December 2004 issue.

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If bin Laden’s tactics are controversial in the Muslim community, then what is the underlying goal that he and all devout Muslims share? The underlying goal of Islam is to establish a global Islamic state, which Muslims believe will be the ideal form of government and economy. Devout Muslims believe that “Islam is the solution” 28 to the injustices perceived in lands currently governed by Free Democracy, where economies are guided by Free Enterprise. In other words, their shared goal is a global Islamic revolution, leading to rule by the laws of Allah, otherwise known as Islamic Law, or Shari’ah.

This may sound like an outrageous claim. Many people may admit that there are extremists who think this way, but they cannot accept that these beliefs are prevalent. To remove any doubt, I am about to present the first of many quotes from an assortment of friendly beginner’s books on Islam. These primers were written mostly by Muslims, and are meant for new converts and Westerners curious about the faith. They include titles from the familiar “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series. Among them are “The Koran for Dummies,” “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Koran,” “Islam for Dummies,” and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam.” These books are designed to provide sympathetic introductions, seasoned with humorous quotes and cartoons. Beneath their breezy appearances, though, these books reveal profound attacks on the foundations of Western society that are shocking and alarming.

When reading my comments on these primers, please keep in mind that they are not about the books themselves, but on the Islamic beliefs they present. The authors are not indulging in personal opinions, but are conscientiously trying to present how Muslims interpret their Holy Scriptures, and how they apply those scriptures to their lives. These books were written by Muslims and recognized scholars, and were designed to be uncontroversial, at least for Muslims. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam even includes a lengthy and shining endorsement from Qasim Najar, one of the founding members of The Islamic Foundation of North America.

Muslims say that “Islam is the solution” because they believe Islamic Law is divine, endorsed by Allah himself. As it says in Sohaib Sultan’s The Koran for Dummies:

Devout Muslims…strongly believe that Islam is a complete way of life that requires obedience to God [Allah] and His Messenger (Muhammad) in communal laws as well as individual ethics.

Most devout Muslims can’t accept the notion that religious laws must be replaced with secular laws in order to live in the modern world. Rather, as representatives or vicegerents of God on earth, Muslims feel a responsibility to live on earth in accordance with divine laws.

…God alone is law giver, and Muslims (as those who submit to divine Will) must in turn practice and implement those divine laws. 29

  • 28 Popular slogan throughout the Islamic world which has been specifically adopted by the Muslim Brotherhood; also used by Hamas during the 2006 elections in the Palestinian Territories.

  • 29 The Koran for Dummies, by Sohaib Sultan, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004, chapter 11, section entitled Doing as God and His Messenger Do, page 164.

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…The entire governance of an Islamic state revolves around the concept of God as the giver of law upon which societies are formed. An Islamic state must be governed by divine [Islamic] laws and principles. 30 From the Koranic perspective, every individual in society has the obligation…to worship the Divine [Allah]. This obligation must be facilitated, honored, and protected by an Islamic society in order to live by the ethical teachings of the Koran. 31 From the Koranic perspective, Muslims form a social movement dedicated to spreading and implementing divine teachings and laws on earth. 32

Devout Muslims believe that their goal is to liberate the world from darkness by replacing man-

made forms of governance with Shari’ah. They believe that the world exists in a state of

darkness called Jahiliyya, which means “ignorance of God’s ways.” 33

Muslims once used this

term to describe Arabic tribes before their conversions, but now apply it to any nation that does

not adhere to Shari’ah.

Even though many “moderate” Muslims do not heed bin Laden’s call for Jihad today, they sympathize with his cause. They also want to lash out at imagined humiliations and restore Islam’s ancient reputation for being the world’s reigning moral and political authority. For example, Mahathir Mohamad, the Prime Minister of Malaysia (now retired), gave this speech at the Tenth Islamic Summit Conference on October 16, 2003:

…All Praise be to Allah, by whose Grace and Blessings we, the leaders of the Organization of Islamic Conference countries are gathered here today…to plot a course for the future of Islam and the Muslim ummah 34 worldwide ... I will not enumerate the instances of our humiliation and oppression, nor will I once again condemn our detractors and oppressors. It would be an exercise in futility because they are not going to change their attitudes just because we condemn them. If we are to recover our dignity and that of Islam, our religion, it is we who must decide, it is we who must act.

To begin with, the Governments of all the Muslim countries can close ranks and have a common stand, if not on all issues, at least on some major ones, such as on Palestine 35

From being a single ummah we have allowed ourselves to be divided into numerous sects, mazhabs 36 and tarikats, 37 each more concerned with claiming to be the true Islam than our oneness as the Islamic ummah. We fail to notice that our detractors and enemies do not care whether we are true Muslims or not. To them we are all Muslims, followers of a religion and a Prophet whom they declare promotes terrorism, and we are all their sworn enemies. They will

  • 30 Ibid, Chapter 8, section entitled The Verse of the Throne, page 113.

  • 31 The Koran for Dummies, by Sohaib Sultan, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004, Chapter 14, section entitled Preserving religion, page 204.

  • 32 Ibid, Chapter 16, section entitled Witnessing the Truth, page 238.

  • 33 Ibid, Chapter 7, section entitled Qutub: The controversial revolutionary, page 101.

  • 34 The worldwide community, i.e. nation, of Muslim people. Also referred to as the Ummah Islamia.

  • 35 Throughout this book, the author adds emphasis to quotes via underlining. Special emphasis is occasionally made via bold black print.

  • 36 The teachings and principles of a particular sect of Islam.

  • 37 Lodges or Orders, usually headed by a teacher or master known as mürsit.

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attack and kill us, invade our lands, bring down our governments…And we aid and abet them by attacking and weakening each other, and sometimes by doing their bidding, acting as their proxies to attack fellow Muslims ...

…over the centuries…the Muslim civilization became so weak that at one time there was not a single Muslim country which was not colonized or hegemonized by the Europeans. But regaining independence did not help to strengthen the Muslims. Their states were weak and badly administered, constantly in a state of turmoil. The Europeans could do what they liked with Muslim territories. It is not surprising that they should excise Muslim land to create the state of Israel to solve their Jewish problem… The early Muslims were as oppressed as we are presently. But after their sincere and determined efforts to help themselves in accordance with the teachings of Islam, Allah had helped them to defeat their enemies and to create a great and powerful Muslim civilization. But what effort have we made especially with the resources that He has endowed us with?

We are now 1.3 billion strong. We have the biggest oil reserve in the world. We have great wealth…We are familiar with the workings of the world’s economy and finances. We control 57 out of the 180 countries in the world. Our votes can make or break international organizations. Yet we seem more helpless than the small number of Jahiliyya converts who accepted the Prophet as their leader ...

Today we…are treated with contempt and dishonor. Our religion is denigrated. Our holy places desecrated. Our countries are occupied. Our people starved and killed. Today, if they want to raid our country, kill our people, destroy our villages and towns, there is nothing substantial that we can do. Is it Islam which has caused all this? Or is it that we have failed to do our duty according to our religion?

Our only reaction is to become more…angry. Angry people cannot think properly. …They launch their own attacks, killing just about anybody including fellow Muslims to vent their anger and frustration…The enemy retaliates and puts more pressure on the Governments. And the Governments have no choice but to give in… … There is a feeling of hopelessness among the Muslim countries and their people. They feel that they can do nothing right…The Muslims will forever be oppressed and dominated by the Europeans and the Jews… … It cannot be that there is no other way. 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews…And we can only find a way if we stop to think, to assess our weaknesses and our strengths, to plan, to strategize, and then to counter attack

…The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that …But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can…do something. Remember that the Prophet did not have

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many followers when he went to Madinah. But he united the Ansars 38 and the Muhajirin 39 and eventually he became strong enough to defend Islam.

Apart from the partial unity that we need, we must take stock of our assets. I have already mentioned our numbers and our oil wealth… …We are up against a people who think. [The Jews] survived 2000 years of pogroms 40 not by hitting back, but by thinking. They invented and successfully promoted Socialism, Communism, Human Rights, and Democracy, so that persecuting them would appear to be wrong, so they may enjoy equal rights with others. With these they have now gained control of the most powerful countries and they, this tiny community, have become a world power. We cannot fight them through brawn alone. We must use our brains also.

Of late, because of their power and their apparent success, they have become arrogant. And arrogant people, like angry people, will make mistakes, will forget to think. … There are many things that we can do. There are many resources that we have at our disposal. What is needed is merely the will to do it. As Muslims, we must be grateful for the guidance of our religion, we must do what needs to be done, willingly and with determination. Allah has not raised us, the leaders, above the others so we may enjoy power for ourselves only. The power we wield is for our people, for the ummah, for Islam…Insyaallah 41 we will triumph in the end.

These are not the words of some firebrand upstart, long on ideology and short on real world experience. These are the words of an experienced world leader, who was Prime Minister of a nation of over 20 million people for 22 years.

One aspect of Prime Minister Mohamad’s speech is particularly interesting: he blames a Jewish conspiracy for the humiliation and powerlessness of Muslims around the world. It makes one wonder how many Jews he has actually encountered in Malaysia during his 22-year rule. Certainly, for Malaysia to be humiliated by the Jews there must be at least a few Jews living there!

According to the CIA’s World Factbook for 2006, the religions of Malaysia are “Muslim, Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh,” as well as Shamanism in East Malaysia. Jews are so rare there that their faith is not even listed. Despite this, Prime Minister Mohamad expresses a deep hatred of Jews, upon whom he blames Islam’s perceived humiliations. Remarkably, he firmly believes that Jews have subverted the world for their own advantage, and invented human rights and democracy to help them do it.

  • 38 Arabic term for “helpers.”

  • 39 Term for those who accompanied Muhammad on his flight from Mecca.

  • 40 Yiddish, from Russian, literally, devastation: an organized massacre of helpless people; specifically : such a massacre of Jews. – from Mariam-Webster On-Line Dictionary, 2005-2006 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

  • 41 God willing.

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In this speech, Prime Minister Mohamad used the language of war – a cold war, 42 perhaps, like the one between Communism and Capitalism, but war all the same. And the battle is for world domination.

Also interesting is the contrast in justifications for war used by Prime Minister Mohamad and Osama bin Laden. While both share the same end goal, i.e., a world dominated by Islam, their grievances are quite different. While bin Laden condemns the presence of Infidels on sacred Muslim land, Mohamad condemns alleged global domination by Jews. To Western ears, both arguments sound bizarre. How could the mere presence of non-Muslims on an arid swath of land be justification for war? How could anyone claim that a few million Jews actually control the world? Moreover, President Mohamad’s reasoning places Jews in a no-win position: If they live among others, they are accused of taking control of society; if they disconnect by forming their own country, they are denounced for taking land formerly occupied by non-Jews. What territory does he think is more appropriate for Jews to claim as a homeland than Israel?

Jews tend to do something very natural for groups that feel threatened: they work very hard, and seek positions of leadership, so that they are not at the mercy of others. They may have annoying quirks in the eyes of some non-Jews, but no more so than the members of other groups that separate themselves from the surrounding culture. A lot of people find Jehovah’s Witnesses quirky, and the Amish have become outright tourist attractions. Antagonism toward another group of people that seems different may be one of the most instinctive of human motivations, but it is also one of the least admirable.

As for those who are concerned about the relative prosperity and political power of Jews, they might find themselves better served by emulating some Jewish educational and economic practices instead of than lashing out. As for global domination, those concerned should note that Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Howard Hughes, and Ray Kroc were or are all Gentiles, and there has never been a single Jewish president in all of U.S. history.

The real purpose of these allegations of Jewish or Infidel global domination is to serve the common goal of Osama bin Laden, Prime Minister Mohamad, and other Islamic leaders: to rally Muslims to the cause of Islamic global domination. These leaders have simply found different pretexts to justify the same cause. This explains why it seems impossible to resolve problems that crop up between Islamic communities and their neighbors. As soon as a conflict appears to be resolved, something else happens to re-ope n the wound, or new injuries flair up. This is because Islam is driven by an agenda of conquest and its believers constantly seek ways to justify it.

Why? Because any good Muslim sees the world through the eyes of the Koran and the Hadith. 43 These scriptures teach Muslims to divide the world into two parts:

42 1. A state of political tension and military rivalry between nations that stops short of full-scale war, especially that which existed between the United States and Soviet Union following World War II. 2. A state of rivalry and tension between two factions, groups, or individuals that stops short of open, violent confrontation. – The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

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Dar al-Islam: This term means “the House of Islam.” It can be translated further into “the

House of Submission [to Allah]” or “the House of Peace.” It represents all lands governed by the tenets of Islam. Dar al-Harb. This term means “the House of War [against Allah]” 44 It represents all lands outside of the “House of Peace.” Any nation that does not submit to Allah by adopting Islam is considered rebellious against him. Therefore, regardless of whether these nations have made any hostile moves against the “House of Peace,” they defy Allah and offend Muslims by their mere existence.

It is impossible for a good Muslim leader to want lasting peace with the House of War. There may be strategic retreats and suspensions of hostilities, but the only lasting peace acceptable to Islam is the one expected on the utopian day when the entire world submits to Islam. This is why any opposition from the House of War on some issue may be labeled an insolent rebellion against Allah, and a call for jihad, if Muslims can give it a religious context.

According to the tenets of Islam, it is not possible to diffuse this call to war by simply secularizing nations that were once considered Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or Jewish. As The Koran for Dummies explains, the only acceptable form of government is one that complies with Islamic Law: 45

Secularism…violates the sacred teaching that says, “There is no authority or law, except God’s [Allah’s].” Also, for Islamic law to work, government has to have some role in implementing laws and forming policies out of the principles of Islamic law (4:59). To form human laws that clearly contradict divine law is considered a sin in the Islamic tradition (3.185). It proves difficult to marry secularism to the ideals of the Koran.

Confronted with this kind of reasoning, one begins to understand that Islam is, and has always been, hostile to all non-Islamic nations. Historically, the House of Islam has acted aggressively toward its non-Muslim neighbors for about 1,400 years – ever since the days of Muhammad. These hostilities have included propaganda, intimidation, demographic warfare, and terrorism, in addition to military warfare.

Over the centuries, Islam’s decline lessened its ability to act on this hostility. The hostility itself, however, never faded. Despite this latent menace, Westerners began to dismiss the danger of Islam over time. Today, many refuse to even acknowledge that the danger exists, despite a revival of jihad against Dar al-Harb, fed by vast transfers of oil wealth to Islamic nations, instant global communications, and Muslim immigration to the West.

Unfortunately, even the Westerners who perceive the danger rarely grasp its full scope. Religious war simply does not fit with their understanding of the world. While they may be able to grasp the notion of Islamic terrorism or “Islamofascism,” it is inconceivable that Islam itself

  • 43 A hadith is an account of statements or actions of Muhammad, attested to by eye-witnesses. The proper Arabic plural for hadith is aHadith. A compilation of ahadith is called Hadith, and the discipline of its study is also called Hadith. An alternative spelling is Hadeeth.

  • 44 The Multiple Identities of the Middle East, by Bernard Lewis, Schocken Books, New York, 1998, pages121-122.

  • 45 The Koran for Dummies, by Sohaib Sultan, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004, Chapter 20, section entitled Morality and Secularism, page 302.

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could be hostile. They assume, without questioning, that all religions are basically the same, and that all religions teach about peace and love. I know this because I was one of them, and I now stand corrected.

Westerners are accustomed to recognizing wars only when countries declare them. This allows Islam’s war to fly under the West’s radar, because it is declared by a borderless nation disguised as a religion. Islam’s leaders are not the kings, presidents, or premiers that fit easily into Western paradigms. Instead, they are religious scholars who disregard physical boundaries as legitimate limits to their jurisdiction.

Islam is a faith that aspires to global conquest, peacefully when possible, and by force when necessary. It also demands loyalty beyond any tyrant’s dreams. It conducts its war on non- Muslim nations through the proxy nations it controls, the terrorist cells it imbeds in target states, and the growth of Islamic populations in those states.

In the West’s excitement over “the end of history” and “the peace dividend,” Westerners were once determined to ignore this war, but its reality was seared into their hearts on September 11, 2001. Unfortunately, even that shock was not enough to shake them out of their dreams. The U.S. response, known as The War on Terror, has remained intentionally blind to the true scope of the war. This blindness is becoming harder to maintain, however, as the banner of war moves from an extremist in the mountains of Afghanistan to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a leader elected by the 69 million people of Iran, who is actively developing technology that can be used for nuclear weapons in defiance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the UN.

At a rally in Tehran on October 26, 2005, entitled “A World without Zionism,” President Ahmadinejad stood before a huge image of a broken United States and crashing Israel (see illustrations) and told his people: 46

We are in…an historical war between the World of Arrogance (i.e. the West) and the Islamic world, and this war has been going on for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, in the past 300 years, the Islamic world has been in retreat vis-à-vis the World of Arrogance… During the…last 100 years, the (walls of the) world of Islam were destroyed and the World of Arrogance turned the regime occupying Jerusalem into a bridge for its dominance over the Islamic world ...

This occupying country (i.e. Israel) is in fact a front of the World of Arrogance in the heart of the Islamic world. They have in fact built a bastion from which they can expand their rule to the entire Islamic world ...

46 The transcript of President Ahmadinejad’s entire speech can be found on the Islamic Students News Agency website, at www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-603386. A translation of this transcript to English can be found on the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), as Special Dispatch Series 1013, entitled Iranian President at Tehran Conference: 'Very Soon, This Stain of Disgrace [i.e. Israel] Will Be Purged From the Center of the Islamic World – and This is Attainable', located at http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP101305. A translation can also be found at

www.khomeini.org/MainPageArticles/transcript%20Ahmadnijad.htm.

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Photo of President Ahmadinejad standing in front of an image displaying symbols of a broken United
Photo of President Ahmadinejad standing in front of an image displaying symbols of a broken United
Photo of President Ahmadinejad standing in front of an image displaying symbols of a broken United

Photo of President Ahmadinejad standing in front of an image displaying symbols of a broken United States and crashing Israel, along with a full image of the rally’s poster, and a close-up showing representations of the U.S. flag and the Star of David in an hour glass that declares that the time for these nations has run out. (Poster cropped from photo on Iranian Students News Agency website: www.isna.ir/Main/PicView.aspx?Pic=Pic-603386-2; Top photo found at: http://news.search.yahoo.com/news/search?p=%22world+without+zionism%22&c=news_photos; Third photo from Iranian Students News Agency website: www.isna.ir/Main/PicView.aspx?Pic=Pic-603386-5.

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Note that Ahmadinejad’s “World of Arrogance” is not the United States. It is the entire Westernized world, which “arrogantly” rejects the laws of Allah.

President Ahmadinejad also wrote a letter to President Bush, on May 8, 2006, which verified that he sees Islam’s war as not simply with Israel or the United States. He sees it as an ideological war with Free Democracy, the political system that now dominates the House of War: 47

Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems.

We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point – …Almighty God [Allah]. Undoubtedly through faith in God [Allah] and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you [Mr. Bush] is: “Do you not want to join them?”

Mr. President,

Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice and the will of God [Allah] will prevail over all things.

Like warped reincarnations of Marx and Lenin, a new generation of revolutionaries has risen to proclaim the end of Democracy and Capitalism, now known as Free Enterprise.

A major difference between the Communist revolution and the Islamic revolution is that, while Communism was a relatively new ideology, Islam is very old. What is new about Islam’s revived revolution is the form it has taken – that of a cold war. By looking beyond the religious overtones of Islam and grasping its political ideology, we have an opportunity to respond to it appropriately, as we did during the Cold War against Communism, and avoid an outright Hot War. Alternatively, if we fail to diagnose the challenge of Islam correctly, our misdirected policies may actually bring on the devastation we hope to avoid.

World War II was the result of European policies of appeasement and capitulation, which were designed to placate Hitler but actually encouraged him to become more aggressive. A rarely acknowledged fact is that the European Allies actually lost the first half of WWII. Poland, Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, most of France, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Greece were all overrun by the Nazis and Fascists before the U.S. entered the war. England’s defenses were on life support via the American Lend-Lease program, and the Russians had been pushed back to Moscow. It wa s only after the United States entered the war that Hitler was defeated.

In the new Cold War, terrorism is Islam’s weapon of choice, and the United States is on the front line. This time, if the U.S. misdiagnoses the situation, who will be left to save it?

47 Full text letter of Islamic Republic Of Iran President to American President, Official website of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, www.president.ir/eng/ahmadinejad/cronicnews/1385/02/19/index-e.htm#b3.

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Chapter 2: A personal realization

Growing up in a small Pennsylvania town during the ‘60s and ‘70s, Islam was so far removed from my experience that I did not even realize that Muslims were Islamic. I was surprised when

  • I found out that these terms applied to the same group of people.

  • I met my first Muslim in 1979 while attending college. I had decided to hitch-hike home rather

than ride a bus, and one of the truck drivers was an African-American who had just converted to Islam and was very excited about it. He told me that Islam held the answer to every question, and handed me a book on Islamic law. Being curious, and not wanting to offend the big guy as we bounced along in his cab, I took the book and began reading it. The rules I remember were things like “A wife must walk 20 feet behind her husband,” “you must eat using your right hand and wipe yourself using your left hand (toilet paper not required),” and instructions for washing yourself, which included “if water is not available, you can wash yourself with clean sand.” I did not ask about how this might apply to the section on wiping.

My general impression was that, while Islam might have all the answers, its answers did not appear to make much sense. After reading this book for a while, I was asked by the trucker if I wanted to convert to Islam. I told him that I would keep reading, but would probably not be ready to convert by the end of the ride.

My next contact with Islam was through the Iranian hostage crisis: a former neighbor was one of the hostages. When he finally returned to the United States, everyone in the neighborhood watched him kiss the ground on national TV.

After that, however, events became more tragic. A former classmate of mine from high school was one of the 240 Marines killed in 1983 during the Beirut bombing of a U.S. Marines barracks.

At the time, I did not see a direct link between Islam and political strife in the Middle East. Everyone I knew thought that the Middle East’s problems were a result of its culture, not its religion. I wondered how religion could be separated from culture, but decided to leave this question for another day. It was an esoteric issue, and I was focused on personal dreams of family, career, and prosperity. I made no time for anything that was not directly related to my own ambitions.

After college, I went to grad school, found the girl of my dreams, got a great job at a top company, and bought a house, all by the age of 25.

After achieving these trappings of success, my little paradise started to feel empty and I began opening my eyes to the world around me. I started doing volunteer work in local schools and joined an organization that tutored inner-city kids after school.

It was through this organization that I had my first real contact with Muslims. One of my fellow volunteers was a coworker from a different part of the company. He had immigrated to the United States from Africa to go to college, and subsequently got a job with my firm. In working together with students, we became friends ourselves. As a couple of workaholic professionals,

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we had little spare time to hang out or get into deep discussions. However, our friendship was good enough that, when he and his wife had their first child, he invited me to be a part of the baby naming ceremony, which was celebrated six months after the baby’s birth. As I sat cross- legged on the floor with a group of family friends, saying prayers for the baby, he commented to the group that my participation showed that Muslims and Christians could get along. This struck a discordant note for me because I had no idea that anyone thought they could not get along. But this was a party meant to celebrate a baby, so I decided to surpress my twinge of forboding and not ask what he meant by that remark.

Through the course of my volunteer activities, I became acquainted with other Muslims. All of these contacts left me with favorable impressions of Islam. I certainly did not consider it a threat. In discussions on problems in the Middle East and Africa, I was assured that the troubles were cultural, not religious, and that Islam was a religion of peace. None of my friends seemed to follow those strange rules that the truck driver had shown me.

When I was growing up, I avoided religious discussions because I felt that I did not know enough to engage in an intelligent conversation. I had what seemed to me a reasonable set of Christian beliefs, but knew that they were all based on second-hand information. I had studied neither the Bible nor any other source texts, and was therefore defenseless whenever someone started quoting scripture to me.

While in college, I decided to cure this weakness by reading the entire Bible, cover to cover, and then reading other religious texts as well. I approached this reading with the critical eye of an academic, looking for useful knowledge and subjecting all claims to my own critical thought.

It turned out that the Bible was quite different from what I had expected. It was mostly history, as told through the lives of its characters. Much of it was gruesome, but I could still relate to many of the stories and learn valuable insights about human nature and how to deal with people.

After reading the Bible, I found that it had been such a valuable experience that I leapt right into the scriptures of other religions to seek other valuable insights. I read a number of books on Buddhism, the Tau Te Ching, and a book by Mercea Eliade called Essential Sacred Writings from Around the World, which was a smorgasbord of essential scriptures from over 80 religions, including Islam. Many of these passages were poetic and powerful, and the Koranic ones got me curious about the Koran as a whole.

A few years later, while attending business school, I came across several other references to the Koran, including an article that praised the Koran highly and claimed that it was the only book one needed to read. Shortly thereafter, I got a copy of Understanding Islam and the Muslims, published by The Embassy of Saudi Arabia’s Department of Islamic Affairs. This booklet presented a beautiful and compelling picture of Islam and the Islamic world, with many inspiring quotes from the Koran. It also had some intriguing passages, such as:

Islam may seem exotic or even extreme in the modern world. Perhaps this is because religion does not dominate everyday life in the West today, whereas Muslims have religion always uppermost in their minds, and make no division between secular and sacred. They believe that

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the Divine Law, the Shari’ah, should be taken very seriously, which is why issues related to religion are still so important.

At about this time, my impression of Islam began to darken. In 1992, the spiritual and political leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, declared that Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was an Insult to Islam, and issued the following fatwa against him: 48

I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world… that the author of the book titled The Satanic Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, have been declared madhur el dam (‘those whose blood must be shed’). I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islam again

In addition to this fatwa, Iran also offered a bounty of several million dollars for the assassination of Salman Rushdie. This was a very disturbing development, but I was still willing to believe that Khomeini was an extremist who did not represent true Islam. His behavior, though, piqued my interest in the Koran even more.

During this time, I graduated from business school, returned to my employer for a year, and then left to start my own business. A few months later, on February 26, 1993, the Twin Towers were bombed for the first time. Fortunately, the bombing only damaged the base of one tower and killed six people. The schemers behind the blast turned out to be a small group of Muslims who were led by a New Jersey resident named Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Again, I was willing to believe that these bombers were extremists who did not represent their faith. I decided, however, that it was time to read the Koran and find out where all this behavior was coming from.

When I began reading the Koran in the summer of 1993, I expected something very profound, given the wonderful praise I had heard, the snippets I had seen, and the devastating actions committed by Muslim extremists.

What a disappointment! After all of the build-up, I found the Koran to be a legalistic, domineering, and rather mean-spirited text that was also very disorganized. It seemed to jump from one topic to another almost randomly. It also had some very militant passages that specifically and repeatedly told Muslims not to be friends of Christians and Jews, and described in detail the properly devout way to divide booty after military conquests.

While there were also well-reasoned sections that flew to the heights of inspiration, my over-all impression was so negative that I actually began to question the translation. The highlighter originally intended for the Koran’s most inspirational passages was used to mark its most troubling ones instead.

Suspecting nefarious machinations on the part of the translator, N. J. Dawood, I decided to find out more about him. It turned out that he wa s an Iraqi, so I assumed that he was a Muslim. Later, I discovered that he was an Iraqi Jew, and this threw doubt on the translation’s fairness.

48 Salman Rushdie, by Jame Harrison, Twayne Publishers, New York, NY, 1992.

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I then began searching for a more accurate and less disturbing version, and discovered one written by a true believing Muslim named Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthal. Unfortunately, its content was essentially the same as Dawood’s translation. I was left with a feeling of foreboding, and a dark realization that, despite oft-repeated claims, the Koran was definitely not a book of peace.

My consolation was that the Old Testament also has many violent passages, and even the New Testament had an occasional verse that one could say endorses violence, 49 so I decided that the real test of a religion was not simply its scripture, but also the actions of its practitioners. I consoled myself with pleasant memories of my Muslim friends from work and volunteer activities.

During this time, I happened to see a news show where Louis Farrakhan was being interviewed. Farrakhan had recently returned from a visit to several Islamic African nations and was telling the interviewer both about the terrible things that whites had done through the enslavement of Blacks, and also about the wonderful spirit of brotherhood he experienced while visiting Islamic Africa.

When the interviewer asked Mr. Farrakhan about the fact that one of the Islamic countries he visited (Sudan) still practiced slavery, Farrakhan gave a two-pronged response. His first response was to claim that slavery was different and more humane over there. When the interviewer pressed him to describe what he meant, he said that it would be divisive to talk about it further, implying that if the interviewer pressed him, Farrakhan would terminate the interview. The interviewer, demonstrating his political correctness, ended this line of questioning.

Until then, I had been unaware that slavery was still being practiced anywhere in the world. I was shocked to discover it in, of all places, Africa! 50

At about this time, my wife and I purchased a home and began attending a local church, and I was soon drafted into the Sunday school program for the high school students.

  • 49 The NIV Study Bible, General Editor: Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Publishing House, 1985, Matthew 10:34-39:

Do not suppose that I [Jesus] have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Many people have accused Jesus of inciting violence in these verses. Christians have a different interpretation: they believe that these verses describe what happens when a person accepts Christ and leaves the religion of his family. As we will see in reports of what happens to people who convert from Islam to Christianity, provided later in this book, this interpretation is valid. This interpretation is further reinforced by the fact that Jesus is quoting the Old Testament (Micah 7:6), in a passage describing the Prophet Micah’s struggle to remain faithful to God during his wretched times, which preceded the reformations of Judah’s king Hezekiah.

  • 50 While I haven’t been able to identify this exact interview, my memory was confirmed by finding an interview in the July 23, 1996 issue of The Final Call (the Nation of Islam’s weekly newspaper), where Minister Farrakhan questioned the motives of those who criticized slavery in the Sudan. In the interview, he implied that Sudan was being targeted “because this Islamic government is trying to build an Islamic nation.”

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The lesson plans I used came from a publisher of religious materials, and, one day, as I was preparing for an upcoming lesson, I discovered that we were to do an investigation of other religions. To prepare, I had to go to churches of other denominations and develop a report for the students on what I found. The goal of the lesson was to demonstrate that all churches, regardless of denomination, were essentially teaching the same lessons and that we were all part of one big ecumenical family.

  • I decided to make the lesson interesting by using it to investigate Islam. I picked up the yellow

pages and found the local Islamic Society, called them up, and asked if I could come to one of

their services. The person on the other end of the phone gladly welcomed me and suggested that

  • I come over that Friday. I decided to take my highlighted Koran and questions with me.

When I got there, the gentleman I spoke with was waiting for me and welcomed me in. It turned out that he was the leader of this Islamic Society, although he had no religious title.

The first thing I noticed was that there were shoes all over the place just outside the worship area. Also, among the shoes, were dozens of women and children. When I asked about the women, children, and shoes, I was told that only men were allowed into the worship area, and they had to leave footwear, women, and children outside. The gentleman then did something very gracious. He invited me to participate in the service, and guided me to sit among the brethren on the carpet.

We kneeled together with a quiet reverence, and I kept my eye on the others to make sure I followed the motions properly. Then a visiting cleric began to speak from the front. I cannot pretend to remember exactly what he said, but it was to this effect:

At one time, Islam was the greatest faith on earth. We commanded the world; we had the greatest minds, and the noblest men. But now we are humiliated, a beaten people, dominated by Christian nations. Why? Because we have become corrupt. We have strayed from the true teachings of the Koran. If we want to regain our proper place in this world, we must return to Islam’s roots. Only through the teachings of the Holy Koran can we hope to achieve our mighty destiny.

As I listened, all I could think about was “What is this guy talking about?” We are all here in the United States; we are all free to worship as we wish. No one is persecuting any of us. No one is humiliating any of us. As for the rest of the world, no one is specifically targeting Muslims for persecution, except for rogue nations like Yugoslavia and arguably Russia.

It was then that a disturbing realization began to dawn on me: The people I was sitting with saw the world in a completely different way. They did not view themselves as Americans, but as persecuted members of a nation dominated by Christians. I later discovered that this “nation” is the Ummah Islamia, which translates to English as the Community of Islam, or Nation of Islam.

After the service, a group of men came over to talk with me. They were all very excited and friendly, and asked if I was ready to accept Allah as the one and only God, and declare Muhammad his prophet. I answered that I had some questions about the Koran that I would like to discuss first, and proceeded to open my Koran and ask about the passages that discussed

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killing infidels, the proper sexual relations between a man and his slaves, and the proper way to split up booty after vanquishing an enemy.

They were a bit disconcerted at my questions, but assured me that these kinds of behaviors were not required, and quickly invited me again to convert. I then asked whether Islam considered the Koran to be an addition to the Old and New Testaments, or something to be read instead of the Bible, noting that the Koran refers to many Biblical characters.

The leader of the Society told me that he had never read the Bible because it was a corrupted work. This is when I had my second realization: If a leader could say this, then the Bible must not be valued by Muslims at all. At this point, I began to perceive looks of suppressed outrage among the brothers, though we were able to remain courteous. I told them that I was not ready to convert to Islam, but wished them well. We had a cordial, if awkward, goodbye.

That Sunday, I decided to limit my discussion to Christian churches. I did not want to scare my students with what had I discovered about Islam.

  • I was still not ready to give up on Islam, though. Despite the inflammatory rhetoric I heard, I

still did not see anyone act in a frightening way. I was still able to cling to the comforting

thought that the Middle East’s troubles came from regional factors, such as cultures, ethnic groups, or national policies. I tried to dismiss a growing perception that the actual cause of those troubles was a religion that was becoming a force in my own country.

At this time, my wife and I had no children to fill our four-bedroom house. To keep ourselves from rattling around too much, and also get the house to help pay for itself, we rented out a bedroom, and at one point rented it to an Islamic immigrant whom I will call “M.”

  • I knew that we were dealing with someone from a different culture from the first phone call.

While most people accept the advertised rent as given, M negotiated. He was an independent contractor from another state who was assigned to a local firm for a few months. I suggested that he come over to see the room and verify whether it was worth what we were asking.

After visiting our home, M said that he liked the room but it was too expensive. He then offered to pay substantially less. Knowing that we charged a fair price, I politely turned him down.

  • I figured that this was the end of it. However, a few days later, M called again. He asked if the room was still available and I told him it was. It appeared that, after looking around, he was now

ready to rent from us. But again, he tried to negotiate. Again, I politely refused.

The following week we got another call, and again we went through the same discussion. I realized that he was trying to see if we would lower our price out of desperation to fill an empty room. What he did not know was that my wife and I had decided long ago that it was better to go without rent than to compromise on any of our terms, because doing so would set a bad precedent. Also, I knew that he needed a room more than we needed a renter, so again, I politely turned him down. Later that week, he called again.

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Finally, he was willing to rent on our terms. But the relentless haggling we experienced was a concern, and I worried that this habit would create other problems. We almost turned down his application, but, with an eye toward the law’s requirement that we not act prejudicially against anyone because of race, creed, or national origin, we felt that refusing him might lead to legal problems. So, with some trepidation, we opened our home to M.

It turned out that M was a wonderful renter. He was clean, considerate, and pretty much kept to himself because of the huge workload of his project. We were aware that he was a Muslim, so we initially stayed away from personal subjects like religion. As time went on, though, we all got to know each other better. For example, he told us that he had a big family that moved to the United States a few years earlier, but they had kept pretty much to themselves and had few acquaintances beyond their faith community. We came to realize that, because of this isolation, our cohabitation was as much a cultural watershed for him as it was for us.

As the months went by, M and I developed a friendship, and, before he left, we actually prayed over an occasional meal together. When it was my turn, I directed my prayer strictly to God in order to avoid turning our communal meal into something negative, and our conversations always stuck strictly to the positive.

From time to time, I would ask M questions about Islam that bothered me. For example, we once discussed the concept of multiple wives. M explained that, even though it was lawful to have more than one wife, most people only had one, because only the wealthy could afford more. Answers like this naturally begged more questions, to which M simply claimed ignorance – he told me he would have to discuss these questions with an Islamic scholar before responding.

After a few months, M’s contract ended and he packed his bags. Before he left, however, he handed us two videos by Ahmet Deedat, a noted and revered Islamic scholar.

One of the videos was Is Jesus God? In it, Mr. Deedat debated the doctrine of the Trinity with Dr. Anis Shorrosh, an Egyptian Christian whom I had never heard of. The other was Is the Bible the Inerrant word of God? In this video, Mr. Deedat debated the validity of the Bible with Jimmy Swaggart, 51 who was definitely not a person I would choose to represent Christianity in a debate. Despite the questionable qualifications of these Christian representatives, I sat down and watched both videos, because I had promised M that I would.

Both debates were actually quite interesting and informative, and the Christian representatives held their own admirably against the truly learned Mr. Deedat. Both debates ultimately hinged on the validity of the Bible, which Deedat could only chip away at by pointing out some minor inconsistencies that could easily be explained as transcription errors or matters of interpretation.

The impression that these debates left me with was that, whether or not you believed in the Bible’s validity, your pre-conceived notions were reinforced. After a series of indecisive scrimmages, the interlocutors ended each debate with a respectful exchange of words, reminiscent of the diplomatic “agree to disagree” language of the Cold War in the ‘80s.

51 Fundamentalist Christian televangelist popular in the 1980s, whose reputation was severely damaged by a prostitution scandal in 1988.

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While watching these videos, though, I noticed that they had both been edited after taping. Word balloons frequently appeared, with arrows pointing to the heads of the Christian representatives, making nasty little comments about their arguments or personal lives, intending to ridicule them. The only balloon that said anything positive was one pointing to the head of a gentleman in the audience, telling the viewer that Cat Stevens, Islam’s favorite convert, was in the house.

If the debates had been unedited, I would have thought them fair. Certainly, the people representing Christianity had no idea that the tapes were going to be doctored. Through stealth, the editors had transformed these debates into overt propaganda. Additionally, the selection of Jimmy Swaggart to represent Christianity was a set-up. The editing tactics displayed a mean spirit, with no sense of fairness, and they did not cast a favorable light on Islam. Instead, they revealed how winning was more important to the editors than presenting an honest inquiry.

Moreover, the questions used in these debates, “Is Jesus God?and “Is the Bible the Infallible word of God?” imply that these are bedrock doctrines of Christianity. If Mr. Deedat could prove that Jesus is not God, and that the Bible is not the infallible word of God, then he would be able to claim that his Christian opponents were wrong, and therefore Christianity itself was wrong. The implication was that, if Christianity was wrong, then Islam was right, even though the doctrines of Islam were never put in the spotlight for critical analysis.

In truth, the questions raised by these videos did not validate or invalidate Christianity because they are ones that Christians themselves have debated since Christianity’s beginning. On the nature of Jesus, there are (or were) Catholic, Orthodox, Monophysite, Nestorian, Gnostic, and other Christian doctrines. With regard to the Bible, the titles of the New Testament books themselves answer the question of whether they are “the Infallible word of God.” We have the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the epistles of Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude. Obviously, these books were written by men believed to be inspired by God. No intelligent and informed Christian would claim that they are the “word of God” Himself in the way understood by Muslims, who say the Koran is literally the perfect, immutable, and eternal word spoken directly by Allah.

It should come as no surprise that the video, Is the Bible the infallible word of God?, did not debate the subject claimed. Instead of discussing whether the Bible was the word of God, Deedat and Swaggart debated the Bible’s accuracy. The reason the editors chose this video’s title is because it alludes to what Muslims claim for the Koran, not because of what Christians claim for the Bible.

Despite the irrelevance of these two questions to Christianity’s legitimacy, these videos were presented as if Christianity was on trial. Meanwhile, the tenets of Islam remained in the shadows, unchallenged. When I was done watching these videos, I wondered whether anyone ever videotaped similar debates entitled “Is Muhammad God’s Apostle?” or “Is the Koran the Infallible Word of God?”

Then it dawned on me that such a debate was nearly impossible, because arguing against Muhammad and the Koran are “insults to Islam” that would invite death threats. Since that time,

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I

have searched for recorded debates on my two hypothetical questions. Sure enough, while

there are monologues written by people hiding on the internet, I have found almost no recordings

of reasoned face-to-face debates. The few debates that do exist treat both Muhammad and the Koran very gently, so as to not offend the Islamic debater. Interestingly, even under these favorable circumstances, Muhammad and the Koran hold up poorly. 52

My wife also had some interesting experiences. While working toward a Master’s degree, she participated in a team project that included a female Muslim student. My wife frequently complained about not being able to organize team meetings because the Muslim woman refused to agree to a time without first getting her husband’s permission.

Later, I read about an honor killing in the U.S. that was motivated by a Muslim family’s disgrace when a daughter rejected Islamic ways and cavorted like a normal American teenager. Surprisingly, the court gave a lenient sentence to the murderer in deference to the family’s cultural background.

Then came news about the Taliban during the spring and summer of 2001. I sensed that some kind of line had been crossed when I read about the Taliban’s decision to destroy two ancient standing Buddha statues. Their reason for blasting away these huge and irreplaceable artifacts was that they represented idolatry and a polytheist religion.

The final straw was when I heard that the Taliban imprisoned, and later expelled, a group of International Aid workers because they clandestinely evangelized to Afghanis. Even worse, the Afghanis who converted to Christianity were put on trial for their lives.

At this time, I began to talk about my concern that Islam was not the religion of peace that Muslims claimed it was. My fear was that Islam’s followers were beginning to assert themselves in ways that could ultimately threaten the United States.

For the most part, people looked at me as if I was crazy, possibly even politically incorrect. Even after Osama bin Laden’s bombing of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and the downing of United Airlines flight 93, many of the people I spoke with remained in denial about Islam, going so far as to say that my translations of the Koran must have been forgeries, written by people hostile to this peaceful religion. They refused to even read the Koran. One person told me emphatically that a person did not have to read the Koran to understand Muslims. He, like so many people I knew, accepted the notion that Islam was a religion of peace without ever checking the facts. He insisted that the violent Muslims were misinterpreting the Koran rather than acting on its instructions. Besides, he declared, Christianity also had a bloody history, so we had no right to complain.

  • I wondered if these people realized that, according to Islam, it is unlawful for Infidels to even

live on the Arabian Peninsula. Did they know that Osama bin Laden’s fury at the U.S. was based

on this prohibition, because the United States fulfilled a request by the Saudi family to put a military base on Saudi soil, to protect them from Saddam Hussein after he annexed Kuwait? Did

52 To see examples of these debates, visit www.ankerberg.com/Articles/islam/IS0100W1.htm and www.thethingsthatmattermost.org/gallery11202005.htm. You can also conduct your own web search.

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they think that this prohibition was something that a peaceful religion would create? Did they think that it was appropriate for this violation of Islamic Law to be used to justify the killing thousands of civilians on September 11, 2001? I hoped not.

The most disturbing thing I remember from September 11 was watching the Twin Towers burn on TV, with people jumping from the windows, and then staring in disbelief as the towers crashed to the ground. I was in shock, and so was the nation. After a stunned silence, a bewildered cry rose up: “Why do they hate us?”

The second most disturbing thing I remember was something said at the prayer service organized by George Bush a few days later. At the service, President Bush made a dramatic effort to bring about healing and proclaim a universal mourning among people of all faiths for the terrible loss. He made a point of portraying the hijackers as terrorists who did not represent true Islam. After his speech, he was followed by a series of religious leaders who took turns speaking and offering prayers. What struck me about the Islamic cleric was that, while others discussed the terrible loss of life, the cleric talked specifically about the loss of innocents. His language gave me the distinct impression that the term “innocents” was not meant to include all of the victims.

Shortly thereafter, I read about how northern Nigeria had adopted Shari’ah and quickly moved to sentence a woman to death by stoning for getting pregnant out of wedlock. After a world-wide protest, she was ultimately released from this sentence, but only because of a loop-hole: she got pregnant before the law was enacted.

For me, this outcome was no consolation. It certainly would not prevent other stonings. I was also dismayed to note that, while this one woman’s sentence was making headlines, the plight of thousands of Christians in Islamic countries barely registered in the news. This was particularly true in Sudan, where hundreds of thousands were being systematically displaced, enslaved or killed while the UN debated over whether the actions constituted genocide.

Finally, our experience in Iraq during and after the two Gulf Wars uncovered Islam’s true intentions toward the West. Let me explain:

At the end of the first Gulf War, the U.S. made a decision to stop its advance at the Iraqi border, rather than continue toward Baghdad to topple Saddam’s reign. It did this because the Sunni Arab nations in its coalition would not support further action, which could have shifted power into the hands of Iraq’s Shiite majority.

As a result, the United States was prevented from overtly supporting the Shiite rebellion that was taking place in Iraq, as it did later with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance. Instead, the U.S. could only provide low-level, indirect support. Saddam subsequently crushed the rebellion and killed hundreds of thousands of Shiite Iraqis.

Who did the press blame for this atrocity? They blamed the U.S., for standing by and letting the slaughter happen. Our press never seemed to put one and one together to recognize that the real cause of the slaughter was a longstanding hostility between Sunnis and Shiites. Instead, they labeled the bloodbath within Iraq as a failure of U.S. policy.

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Because many Americans are quick to believe their accusers, the popular sentiment in the U.S. was that the U.S. was to blame. Therefore, U.S. leaders vowed that they would not let the same mistake happen again. When the second war with Iraq started, the U.S. vowed not to leave the Shiites vulnerable. It then set out to establish an Iraqi government that would give Shiites limited political power through free and democratic institutions.

While protests against the war came as no surprise, most Americans were shocked when the newly liberated Shiites turned against the Coalition that liberated them. Their response could be summarized as: “Thank you very much for ousting Saddam. Now get out!”

This sentiment was openly declared by Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, a Shiite leader who loomed large during the war, but died later that year in a bomb blast which killed over 80 people. 53 As reported by Newsday, al-Hakim sent this less-than-friendly message to the liberators of his people: 54

“If the Americans enter Iraq because they want to rescue our people from this evil regime, and then they leave matters to the Iraqi people themselves, then everyone will be pleased,”…"But if the Americans come in with the intention of controlling Iraq…then they’re going to face strong opposition from all the Iraqi people.”

He warned that a prolonged occupation would give the war the appearance of a crusade.

“This will inflame religious tensions,” al-Hakim said. “It will show that the Americans want to humiliate and subdue the Iraqi people. It will bring us back to the days of colonial rule, and that will renew nationalist feelings in Iraq.”

He deflected a question about whether his Badr fighters would attack U.S. forces during an occupation. “We have been fighting for our freedom for a long time,” he said, guardedly. “We will continue to do so.”

Not exactly the kind of warm welcome that Americans had hoped for from the Shiites, especially because a prolonged occupation was necessary simply to develop a constitution and establish other foundations of democracy. This was nothing like France after its liberation from Hitler.

Instead of praising the liberators for their sacrifice, many Shiite leaders chastised themselves for being helpless for all of those years. It was a deep insult to be rescued by a Coalition of Infidel nations led by the U.S., which is popularly known in their region as “the Great Satan.” Even more humiliating was the fact that the Coalition of the Willing wiped out Saddam’s regime in mere weeks.

In the months that followed, the hundreds of thousands who were killed by Saddam seemed to be forgotten, but every unintended civilian death or rogue action by an American was portrayed as brutal imperialist oppression by foreign Infidels. While

  • 53 Iraqi Shiites Flex Muscle Even as They Mourn, by Neil MacFarquhar, New York Times, September 1, 2003.

  • 54 Shiite Cleric may be a force after Saddam, by Mohamad Bazzi, Newsday, March 18, 2003.

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Shiites and Sunnis blew up each other’s mosques, Coalition forces found themselves in stand-offs with insurgents who used mosques as shields, knowing that any Coalition attack on them would be seen as a direct attack on Islam, worthy of retaliatory jihad.

U.S. leaders had expected remnants of Saddam’s reign to continue an insurgency, but they were blindsided when they found that some of the Governing Council’s greatest threats were Shiite clerics. For example, at the beginning of 2004, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini Al-Sistani, the religious leader of Iraq’s Shiites, decided that the elections were not being scheduled quickly enough, and nearly derailed the entire transition process with a Shiite uprising. Fortunately, he later consented to the Coalition’s plan, but only after Shiite members of the Iraqi Governing Council visited him repeatedly, and after UN representatives convinced him that an earlier date was not possible because of the work needed to prepare for a vote.

Later, on April 4, 2004, Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr incited an uprising that overran Najaf and quickly spread to other cities. On May 7 th , one of his senior aides, Shiite Sheik Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, gave a sermon described by the Washington Times: 55

Sheik al-Bahadli said $350 would be given to anyone who captures a British soldier and offered $150 for killing one. “Any Iraqi who takes a female soldier can keep her as a slave or gift to himself,” he said. He also offered 25,000 dinars for killing a member of the Iraqi Governing Council – but in the worthless, old Saddam-era dinars, a sign of contempt for U.S.-appointed leaders.

The cleric waved an assault rifle, prompting cries of “jihad” and “God is great” each time he lifted it.

Through a combination of intense diplomatic and military actions, this crisis was also contained, but hostility toward the U.S. remained high. Since then, our military’s post- combat goal has changed. It no longer expects to win the hearts of Iraqis. Instead, it wants to lower its profile by placing Iraqis on the front line, while also controlling the Iraqis enough to keep them from turning on each other. In doing so, it hopes to buy time for the fledgling Iraqi government to establish itself enough to prevent a revolution or civil war, so that the Coalition can leave without creating the appearance of retreating in disgrace. This is important because the appearance of retreat could become a rallying cry for militant Muslims eager to go on the offensive against the U.S. and its allies.

In fact, hatred toward the United States was so strong that on July 4, 2004, George Sada, spokesman for Ayad Allawi, the newly appointed Shiite Prime Minister of Iraq, announced: “If [a guerrilla] was in opposition against the Americans, that will be justified because it was an occupation force. We will give them freedom.” 56

Throughout the Governing Council’s administration, America was blamed for ruthless or callous indifference to civilian lives when military actions caused civilian casualties.

  • 55 Cleric rips U.S. about Iraq abuse, by Scheherezade Faramarzi, Associated Press, The Washington Times, May 8,

2004.

  • 56 Iraqi leader considers amnesty for insurgents, by Jim Krane, Associated Press, July 4, 2004.

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Similarly, Americans were blamed for not providing adequate security when insurgents bombed a public place and killed dozens or hundreds of civilians.

But how did Iraqi’s feel about American deaths? On April 3, 2004, just a few days after an ambush on American civilians that left them dead, mutilated, and burned, Sheik Fawzi Nameq addressed 600 worshippers at a Mosque near the ambush site. He told his listeners: “Islam does not condone the mutilation of the bodies of the dead.” 57

He was silent about the murders themselves.

In reading about the Shiites’ hateful reward to the United States for its sacrifice of blood, money, and international prestige, I finally recognized the true nature of their problem with us. The fact that it took me so long to perceive it is not the fault of the Iraqi Shiites. They had been shouting it at the tops of their lungs for a long time, as have the Sunnis. We in the United States have simply not understood their message, because their reason for outrage is incomprehensible to us.

There appears to be a three-part reason for Muslim outrage against the United States, and the West in general:

  • 1. According to the Koran, any Insult to Islam is a blasphemy that is subject to severe punishment and even death.

  • 2. According to Islam, the Koran is the inerrant, eternal, and ultimate word of Allah, issued by his final and greatest Prophet. This implies that Muslims, as followers of the Koran, are morally superior to the followers of any other religion. As such, Muslims alone are authorized by Allah to establish law. As the Koran says: 58

[3.110] Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong [through Islamic law], and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book 59 had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.

  • 3. Thus the rescue of an Islamic country’s people by a group of Infidel nations, regardless of the bloodiness of that country’s Muslim ruler, is an unwelcome exposure of Islamic weakness. Additionally, the Coalition’s role in setting up a democratic and secular government is, to devout Muslims, an overt usurpation of Islam’s Allah-given authority over mankind. To these Muslims, the “perverted transgressors,” otherwise known as “the People of the Book (Christians and Jews),” are sitting in the seat of power rightfully held by Allah, dictating terms to Allah’s people. This is the ultimate Insult to Islam, which claims to be the steward of divine laws given to Muslims by Allah himself.

More generally, Infidels insult and humiliate Muslims simply by being successful while Muslims and Islamic nations languish in poverty and chaos. Unwilling to question the usefulness of Allah’s perfect laws, the only acceptable explanation for the abject state of Muslims is that there

  • 57 Muslim clerics condemn mutilation – but not slaying, by Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press, April 3, 2004.

  • 58 The Holy Qur'an: Translation and Commentary, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Lahore, 1934, 1937.

  • 59 Christians, Jews, and Zoroatrians.

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is a vast conspiracy of Jews and Christians against them. This is the conspiracy to humiliate Muslims that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad railed against in his speech.

Our Insult to Islam is that we Infidels have not learned our proper place, in lowly submission to Muslims. Infidels are to be tolerated, the Koran says, but only on terms that the Koran sets. These terms require subservience. Any relation with an Infidel nation that does not explicitly acknowledge Islam’s superiority is, by itself, a humiliation.

My conclusions about Islam were confirmed when I read In the Presence of My Enemies, which is the autobiographical account of Gracia Burnham’s year-long ordeal as a hostage of the Abu Sayyaf, an Islamic terrorist group in the Philippines.

Mrs. Burnham recorded the mindset of these militants, who were engaged in a long-standing insurrection against the Philippine government. This mindset is paranoid and aggressive, as the following quote reveals: 60

[Martin Burnham, Gracia’s husband] had an interesting conversation with a captor named Ustedes Hail. This man was one of the most embittered fighters, passionate about regaining the Muslim homeland. He said the Abu Sayyaf didn’t want to have to do things like the recent massacre at the jeepney, “but the Christian world has just pushed us too far, and we’re sick of it. When people are oppressed, you can’t hold them back. It’s just going to be this way until we are given what we want.”

Martin kept his cool…and gently probed for specifics: “Let’s see – just what all is included in your homeland?”

“Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Jolo, Basilan, Southern Mindanao…,” he began naming off the islands in dispute.

“So, if you got these…would that be the end of your struggle?”

“Oh, no, no” came the quick reply. “That would be only the beginning. Then we would be obligated to take all of Mindanao; after all, it’s a wealthy island.

“And then once we took Mindanao, we would take all of the Visayas [referring to islands in the midsection of the Philippines, such as Cebu, Samar, Leyte, Negros, and Panay].

“Then when we were done with the Visayas, we would go next to Luzon.

“When all of the Philippines belonged to us, we’d move on to Thailand and other countries where there is such oppression. You see, Islam is for the whole world.”

I do not mean to imply that all Muslims subscribe to the views of a militant member of the Abu Sayyaf. However, with militant Islamic activity taking place in the Philippines, India, Thailand, Russia, Spain, the Netherlands, England, and the U.S., to name a few, and with Osama bin Laden being one of the most respected “leaders” in the Islamic world, it is clear that this terrorist’s opinion was not uncommon. Moreover, his opinion agreed exactly with what I saw in the Koran.

60 In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham, 2003, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., page 170.

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At this point, I arrived at what I believe to be a good basic understanding of the nature of Islam. Islam is not a religion as we in the United States usually define it, because Islam does not consider religion to be a private matter. Instead, Islam claims the power of law – a very public matter. Furthermore, its laws grant legal and economic rights according to each person’s religion, and it gives Muslims political power over non-Muslims. It also gives Muslims a moral imperative to conquer all of the world’s non-Muslims and establish Islamic governance over them. Thus Islam can be better understood as a political ideology than as a religion.

Islam feels respected only when all other powers, be they religious or political, submit to it. Islam also declares that its adherents can justly exert lethal force when they believe Islam has been insulted by a lack of proper respect for its superiority.

Nowadays, when I hear someone say that Islam is a religion of peace, it reminds me of a line from Tim Burton’s disturbing comedy, Mars Attacks: “We have come in peace, please surrender the planet immediately!”

Paradoxically, the Muslims I have met in this country have, for the most part, been educated and courteous. They treasure their families and are capable of having a winning sense of humor. So how can these good and kind people believe in a faith with such violent tendencies? The only explanations I can come up with are these:

Muslims living in the United States do not present the true face of Islam.

In the United States, most Muslims are either secular, very liberal, or are constrained from fully practicing their faith because they feel so outnumbered by Infidels that they must suppress their religious imperatives. This does not mean that these Muslims are happy about not being in power. True believers cannot help but feel humiliated by living in a place where people shamelessly disregard Islamic law.

The liberal and secular Muslims who have immigrated to the United States have done so through a process of self-selection. Most truly devout Muslims would not choose to move to the United States, or anywhere else in the West, unless they intended Jihad. However, Europe may be acting as a bellwether for the U.S. in this regard. Its experiences are revealing that, once Muslims become well established in Western lands, they begin to establish their own insular communities and assert themselves politically.

The thought that many Muslims in the U.S. are either liberal or secular should not give Americans comfort. Firstly, their current liberality or secularism does not guarantee that they will not become radicals later, nor does it guarantee that their children will not radicalize. Secondly, the average Muslim family has two to four times as many children as the average Western family. 61 Given this trend, it is inevitable that Islamic populations

  • 61 Examples of the average number of children per woman (fertility rate) in Islamic nations: 1990 (Source:

Population Reference Bureau): Afghanistan - 7.1, Algeria - 6.1, Egypt - 4.7, Iran - 6.3, Iraq - 7.3, Jordan - 5.9, Kuwait - 3.7, Lebanon - 3.7, Libya - 5.5, Morocco - 4.8, Oman - 7.2, Saudi Arabia - 7.2, Sudan - 6.4, Syria - 6.8, Tunisia - 4.1, Turkey - 3.6, Yemen - 7.4.

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will grow faster than other populations, and this growth will ultimately give Islam the political power to legislate Shari’ah. Thus, over time, with the aid of democracy’s principle of majority rule, the freedoms that Westerners cherish as the hallmarks of Free Democracy could be legislated away.

There are many Muslims whom Westerners would call good people, but this does not mean that they are good Muslims.

This explanation has a darker corollary: there are many people who are good Muslims, but this does not mean that they are what Westerners would call good people. Osama bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini are prime examples of people whom many in the Islamic world call “good Muslims.”

One experience with a good person who was not a good Muslim occurred during a college engagement where I did some work with a Muslim student. When we began, she was nervous about being alone with me for an extended time because this might violate Islamic Law. However, as her confidence in me grew, she began to tell me about the many challenges she faced as a young person growing up in two worlds: the Muslim world of her family, and the secular world that surrounded all other aspects of her life.

One way her struggle revealed itself was in her two cell phones. One was a gift from her father, and the other was a secret phone she bought for herself. Why the secret phone? Because the one her father gave her was actually used as a means of control. He “generously” insisted on paying the bill because it allowed him to scrutinize her calls and interrogate her on them. He also had complete control over her finances, even though she worked and went to college. He audited every bank statement and paycheck from her part- time job. He accounted for every penny, and only allowed her to withdraw small amounts each week to pay for essentials. With this she managed to scrape together enough money to open a secret bank account, which she used to pay for the secret cell phone.

She also complained about other methods used by her father to control her life, which centered on the tactic of giving a gift and then almost immediately making a request or demand. She eventually reached a point where the gifts meant nothing to her – she loathed them. They were not acts of love or kindness, but bribery and manipulation.

It did not surprise me that her father was doing these things, because they aligned with some of the teachings of Islam that I had encountered. What did surprise me was that she, as a Muslim, complained about his controlling ways. So I asked her: “Haven’t you ever read the Koran?”

”No,” this college student replied.

I believe that this situation is very common. Many of the “Muslims” we meet are actually Muslims by inheritance or the cajoling of peers. Their claimed religion has little to do with

their actual lives, other than superficial rituals and customs. In fact, this friend’s only apparent knowledge of her faith was in her holiday celebrations, her eating and bathing habits, and her adamant refusal of a Christmas gift because she was NOT a Christian.

Islam actually does teach Muslims to be good in many ways, but only to other Muslims. 62

Islam teaches Muslims how to be generous with other Muslims and treat them with honor and respect. These virtues, however, do not extend to people of other faiths beyond a superficial courtesy at best, particularly after those people have rejected opportunities to convert to Islam. Such people are no longer considered “innocent.” Therefore, they are no longer protected by the Koran’s words of moderation. As the Koran says:

[48.29] PICKTHAL: Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves…

Clearly, the virtues we often hear about in the Muslim community should not give us “disbelievers” comfort.

Hitler also had a beautiful utopian vision for his Aryan race, filled with good, virtuous people and happy children. His only dilemma was that it could only come about after those who did not fit his vision were eliminated. He did not want to kill non-Aryans; it was just an unfortunate necessity. He went on to propel his country through a massive effort to dehumanize those who did not fit his utopia, particularly Jews and Gypsies, so that their slaughter would be less traumatizing to the good Aryans who carried out his Final Solution.

I have treasured my friendships with many Muslims. I believe that the hearts of these people are far kinder than what Islam calls for. Unfortunately, it also appears necessary to confront them about the nature of Islam, because Islam represents a direct threat to the freedoms of all Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Atheists, etc. living in the West. Just as important, it is a direct threat to the fr eedoms these Muslim friends came to the United States to enjoy.

Citizens of Free Democracies have largely been misinformed about Islam’s true nature, in a way that leaves them vulnerable to attack. Leaders of both Muslim and Western nations have falsely led them to believe that nations can be both Freely Democratic and Islamic, and that the freedoms we enjoy, particularly religious freedoms, can prosper in the Islamic world.

This book will give you an opportunity to examine the foundational texts of Islam, as well as their modern interpretations, so you can draw your own conclusions. I hope that you will be left with a deeper understanding of Islam’s true nature, how it affects each of us, and what we can do to preserve our freedoms.

62 This statement is a bit of an over-generalization. Actually, Muslims are frequently taught to view members of competing Muslim sects with nearly the same contempt as Infidels.

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Chapter 3: Koranic teachings that shape Islamic nations

The state of Muhammad’s world when he revealed the Koran

To start this investigation of Islam’s Holy texts, we can begin by reviewing some basics about Muhammad and the Koran: 63

Muhammad, the man who recited the Koran, was born around 570 A.D. in Mecca, a trading post in the untamed and tribal Arabian Peninsula. 64 At this time, Mecca and its surroundings lacked the rule of law, and various Pagan, Jewish, and Christian tribes competed ruthlessly with each other for scarce resources.

Aside from the violence between tribes, life within a tribe could be equally brutal. Incest was common, as were polygynous practices that could give a man numerous wives, and infant daughters were considered such a burden that parents regularly buried them alive to dispose of them.

Mecca was also famous for being home to a place of worship called the Ka’aba. This place of worship was used by all Arabic tribes, and they filled it with their idols, as well as icons of Jesus and Mary. Mecca was controlled by a pagan tribe known as the Quraysh, and the Ka’aba was controlled by a Qurayshi clan called the Hashim, into which Muhammad was born.

After Muhammad was orphaned at an early age, he was cared for by his grandfather, Abd al- Muttalib, for several years. When his grandfather also died, Muhammad’s guardianship passed on to his uncle, Abu Talib.

Muhammad would accompany his uncle on trading caravans, and through these travels he established himself as an effective and honest business person. This attracted the attention of a wealthy widow named Khadijah, who hired Muhammad and later married him.

In his caravan travels, Muhammad was exposed to the doctrines of both Jews and Christians. He also learned about Christian doctrine from Khadijah’s cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who was a learned Christian monk. The beliefs of these people impressed Muhammad and, as a young man, he began the habit of retiring to a cave for prayer and meditation.

One day, Muhammad came home from this cave and told Khadijah of a remarkable event: while he was either sleeping or in a trance, the Angel Gabriel had come to him and commanded him to “Recite!” When Muhammad responded in confusion, the angel clarified: “Recite in the name of

  • 63 This history is based on the earliest surviving biography of Muhammad, written by ibn Ishaq, called Sirat Rasoul Allah, which translates to Life of the Apostle of Allah. This biography was written in approximately 780 AD, but was lost, and exists only through the abridged version of the original produced by Ibn Hirsharn in the early 800s. An abridged translation of this biography entitled The Life of Muhammad Apostle of Allah was written by Michael Edwardes and published by the Folio Society in London, UK, in 1964.

  • 64 This book quotes numerous Islamic sources that use C.E., meaning “Common Era,” instead of A.D., which stands for Anno Domini (Latin for “The year of our Lord”).

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your Lord who created Man from clots of blood.” “Recite! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, who by the pen taught man what he did not know.”

Muhammad told his wife that, when he awoke, it seemed like these words had been “inscribed upon my heart.”

And so began Muhammad’s ministry, which began humbly, with his wife Khadijah as his first and only convert. For many years, his followers were limited to members of his family. Over time, though, he began to find new followers among the poor in his community.

Muhammad spoke of Islam, which means “submission” (to the will of Allah), as a restoration of the perfect and true religion of Allah, which was imperfectly practiced by the Jews and Christians. His affinity toward Jews and Christians at this time was so great that Muhammad had his followers adopt the Jewish practice of praying in the direction of Jerusalem. Muhammad’s revelations during that time, known as the Meccan revelations, are notably ecumenical and inclusive with regard to Jews and Christians, whom he called “people of the book.” The content of these verses tended toward poetry and preaching.

As Muhammad’s band of followers grew, the pagan tribes began to feel threatened, and started to persecute them. Muhammad responded by sending some of his followers across the Red Sea to Christian Ethiopia for refuge in 615. The persecution of his followers continued, though, and in 619 he was devastated by two tragedies: both his wife Khadijah and his uncle Abu Talib, in their 60’s, died. This loss was even worse because Abu Talib’s leadership in Muhammad’s clan helped protect him for years, and the new leader of Muhammad’s clan was a sworn enemy.

In the face of these disasters, Muhammad had a remarkable dream, which became famously known as the Night Journey. In this dream, the angel Gabriel set Muhammad on a winged donkey named Burak and whisked him to Jerusalem, from which he ascended through the seven heavens and met Allah himself. Interestingly, on the basis of this dream, rather than any physical event, Jerusalem was declared to be the third most holy religious site in Islam.

This remarkable dream was soon followed by a real event that was nearly as amazing. While Muhammad had been suffering persecution, twelve traders from Yathrib, a city about 250 miles northeast of Mecca, converted to Islam during a pilgrimage to Mecca and had brought their new religion back with them, proselytizing enthusiastically. In 620, Muhammad met another group of traders from Yathrib, where he now enjoyed an excellent reputation, and their conversation changed history.

Apparently, two of the Pagan Arab tribes in Yathrib had been disputing among themselves and, in the process, were ruining the city. Muhammad’s reputation led these traders to make him a proposal: Would Muhammad consider moving to Yathrib and acting as an arbitrator between the tribes? Muhammad accepted this proposal and migrated there with his Meccan followers. Once in Yathrib, Muhammad used his position to make himself ruler of the city. In the process, Yathrib was renamed Medina, which means City of the Prophet. His new authority was officially declared in 622 through a celebrated document known as the Medina Charter (see Appendix A).

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As ruler of Medina, Muhammad became concerned with matters of governance, and his revelations assumed new tones. Instead of inspiration and poetics, they were primarily legal pronouncements, war rallies, and threats against political opponents. It is through this transformation of tone that Islam assumed its mandates to conquer and rule. In the process of ruling, Muhammad and his recitations also established Islamic Law.

After becoming the ruler of Medina, Muhammad undertook a series of diplomatic and military operations that, by 630, had captured Mecca, slain Muhammad’s opponents, and conquered all of the tribes that had formerly harassed Muhammad and his believers. With the submission of Mecca, Muhammad was no longer the ruler of a city, but of a state. Word of his victories and religion spread rapidly, and the appeal of his rule by law drew eager adherents throughout a lawless land.

Two of the tribes that had harassed Muhammad in Medina were Jewish, and it was both their rejection of him as a Prophet and their treachery toward him that soured Muhammad toward Jews. Some of the Koran’s harshest verses come from this period, as did Muhammad’s decision to change the direction of prayer (called the qibla) from Jerusalem to Mecca, whose Kabba he claimed was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael.

By the time Muhammad died, just two years after his victory over the Meccans, Islam had spread across nearly the entire Arabian Peninsula and was pressing toward the territories of Byzantium and Persia. Rallying around the memory of their beloved Prophet, the conquering Muslims were virtually unstoppable. In 633, the hapless Persian Empire lost Mesopotamia to Muhammad’s successor, Caliph 65 Abu Bakr. In 636, it fell completely under the sword of Caliph Umar. 66 In 634 Abu Bakr’s troops won a victory over the Byzantines in Palestine, and Umar proceeded to appropriate large chunks of Byzantine territory for Islam, including Syria and Jerusalem. In the ensuing years, Muslims won military victories across all of North Africa, and by the early 700s had overrun the Spanish peninsula and even occupied portions of southern France.

Muhammad’s written legacy for his followers is the Koran, as recorded by his scribes (known as remembrancers), and compiled by the Caliphs who succeeded him. Muslims believe that the Koran is a compendium of Allah’s messages, as recited by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, who then recited them to his remembrancers. To appreciate the Koran’s significance, consider this quote from The Koran for Dummies: 67

Muslims view the Koran in its original form and language as the literal and unaltered word of God [Allah], preserved for all times to come. When Muslims say, “God says,” or “the Koran says,” they are in fact using different words to quote one source – namely God himself.

  • 65 A leader of an Islamic polity, regarded as a successor of Muhammad and by tradition always male. – The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, ed. Joseph P. Pickett, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Muslims consider the Caliph to be Allah’s vicegerent (administrative deputy) on earth. Also referred to as Calif, Kaliph, Kalif, Khalif, Khalifa, and Khalifah.

  • 66 Also referred to as ‘Umar or Omar.

  • 67 The Koran for Dummies, by Sohaib Sultan, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004, Chapter 1, section entitled Receiving Revelation Straight from the Source, page 9.

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The Koran provides a direct relationship from its source (God) to its audience (humanity). As such, Muslims have a deep reverence for the Koran. In…traditional understandings of Islam, if you express doubt that the Koran is the word of God, then you have uttered words of disbelief.

With this understanding of how the Koran’s revelations came into being, the issues they were designed to address, and the authority they have over believers, we are almost ready to investigate the message of the Koran and its affect on people today. But before we begin, there is one more question to consider: Who are we, as non-Muslim Westerners who are ignorant of the Arabic language, to make such an investigation?

Is it legitimate for a Westerner to critique the Koran?

One of the first things a defender of Islam will say when a Westerner critiques the Koran is that, because the Koran is the “literal and unaltered” word of Allah, any translation from the original language is not the true Koran. At best, it is a mere interpretation, and, because no translation is the actual word of Allah, any criticism based on a translation is invalid.

At first glance, this assertion seems plausible, especially to a Westerner intimidated by a Muslim’s rebuke. However, if one challenges this logic, it quickly falls apart, demonstrating that it is nothing more than a ruse meant to discourage non-Muslims from commenting on the Koran.

This assertion, which implies that the only people qualified to cr itique the Koran are those who can read it in its original language, is invalid for four reasons:

  • 1. Most of the world’s Muslims do not speak Arabic. 68 The assertion implies that Muslims who do not speak Arabic cannot understand the true meaning of the Koran. Hence they cannot truly understand their own religion, and they are not qualified to speak about its holy texts. This conclusion would be a big surprise to most Muslims.

  • 2. The language of the Koran is NOT modern Arabic. The language of the Koran is Classical Arabic. During the recent rise of Pan-Arabism, this language has ironically been renamed Modern Standard Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic represents the revival of an ancient and nearly dead language from about 1400 years ago. Its condition was somewhat like that of Latin today, and its revival is somewhat like the recent revival of Hebrew. The difference between Classical Arabic and the Arabic of daily life, which varies dramatically from country to country, has been likened to the difference between Spanish and Italian. 69 Therefore, even native speakers of Arabic cannot read the Koran in its

  • 68 The Middle East for Dummies, by Craig S. Davis, PhD, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2003, Chapter 22, entitled Language and Literature, page 323.

  • 69 For an example of the many places where you can find such analogies, see the website www.uwgb.edu/dutchs/WestTech/xislam.htm, which is an Islamic website at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. Look under its section entitled “The Koran.”

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original language unless they receive special training, which they receive in school like a heavily promoted foreign language.

This implies that any Koran written in a modern Arabic dialect has been translated. As such, it is a mere interpretation, and not the actual word of Allah. Just like an English Translation.

Classical Arabic has enjoyed a revival in recent years, both because of Islam’s resurgence, and because many Arabic nations believe Arabs can gain political and economic clout through Pan-Arabism. It acts as a Lingua Franca for Arabs living across North Africa and the Middle East, and this facilitates media broadcasts, internet services, and travel.

Because of its long period of non-use by the general populace, and its current use as a sort of unifying second language rather than as a primary language, we can safely assume that many of its nuances from Muhammad’s time were lost. If this is true, then some of the Koran’s nuances are also likely to be lost.

Muslims will claim that this problem has been handled because a sort of dictionary, called The Tongue of the Arabs, was written by Ibn Al-Manthur Al-Afriki shortly after the Koran’s compilation, and it contains a definition written for every word in the Koran. Unfortunately, The Tongue of the Arabs is also written in Classical Arabic. Therefore, it is about as helpful to a reader of the Koran as a French dictionary, written in French, to an English speaker trying to read a French book. Moreover, the dictionary deals only with words, and neglects the meanings of popular phrases in use during Muhammad’s time. These meanings are now lost forever. Do you “get my drift?” If so, you get a “high five.

Again, this problem is not unique to Islam’s Holy Scriptures. In fact, the Old Testament has it even worse because it was written in Hebrew, a language that was nearly dead for centuries. A quick review of the Psalms alone will uncover words such as “shiggaion,” 70 “sheminith,” 71 “gittith,” 72 “miktam,” 73 “maskil,” 74 “alamoth,” 75 and “mahalath,” 76 that have not been translated to English because no one knows their meanings, other than that they are “probably a literary or musical term.”

While many Jews and Christians will claim that Divine Providence made sure that all essential meanings of the Hebrew scriptures were preserved, this claim cannot be proven. What we do know is that we will have to do the best we can with what we have. Muslims face the same situation.

  • 70 The NIV Study Bible, General Editor: Kenneth Barker, Zondervan Publishing House, 1985, Psalm 7.

  • 71 ibid, Psalms 6, 12.

  • 72 ibid, Psalms 8, 59, 81, 84.

  • 73 ibid, Psalms 16, 57, 58, 59, 60.

  • 74 ibid, Psalms 32, 42, 44, 45, 53, 54, 55, 74, 78, 88, 89, 142.

  • 75 ibid, Psalm 46.

  • 76 ibid, Psalm 53.

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No one living today can truly speak with complete authority about a language that has been out of popular use for many centuries. This leads to the conclusion that no one living today, not even a Muslim, can truly understand the Koran, and no one living today is qualified to speak authoritatively about Islam. This conclusion would probably surprise everyone.

  • 3. The first Korans were written in a consonant-only script. Imagine trying to read this book if only its consonants were printed. Tht ws ssntll th chllng fcd b rdrs f th frst Krns. 77 At the time of Muhammad, Arabic writing was in a formative state. Not only could it not represent vowels; it had only 15 characters for 28 consonants. Despite these limitations, the Arabic alphabet served the needs of Muhammad’s remembrancers because they were trained in the Koran’s oral tradition, and used writing as a memory aid instead of as a primary communication tool. Unfortunately, different oral traditions arose very quickly, so that, a few decades after Muhammad’s death, no one knew the actual words with certainty. As explained by N.J. Dawood in his translation’s introduction:

owing

to the fact that the kufic script in which the Koran was originally written

... contained no indication of vowels or diacritical points, variant readings are

recognized by Muslims as of equal authority. 78

There are seven authoritative readings of the Koran, based on the recitations of the following eighth-century individuals: Nafi, Ibn Kathir, Abu ‘Amr al-‘ala’, Ibn ‘Amir, Hamzah, al-Qisa’I, and Abu Bakr ‘Asim. Additional readings that are considered less authoritative also exist.

Even today, there are two variant readings in active use: Abu Bakr ‘Asim, which is popular throughout most of the Islamic world, and Nafi, which is popular in Africa outside of Egypt. So the next time someone says that the Koran is the perfect, immutable, and eternal word of Allah, you may want to ask them: “Which version?”

At this point, it should be clear that there has never been agreement on the exact wording of the Koran, even among Islam’s earliest followers, despite the fact that they all spoke the Koran’s original language. In places where these various readings differ, no one can speak with authority as to which is truly correct. The remembrancers who fleshed out the Koran’s consonantal script into words performed the same tasks as any translator, and faced the same dilemmas, having to base at least some decisions on their own opinions.

The only thing known for sure about the Koran is that its exact words were not even clear to the people who were living when it was compiled. If an Islamic authority must know

77 That was essentially the challenge faced by readers of the first Korans. 78 The Koran, English Translation, with Notes Only, by N.J. Dawood, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1983, page 10.

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the meaning of every word of the Koran, with certainty, then how could anyone claim to have such authority?

  • 4. Twenty-nine of the Koran’s surahs (chapters) begin with sequences of letters that no one understands. An example of such a sequence is “Alif Lam Mim,” which comes from the beginning of Surah 3, entitled The House of ‘Imran. These twenty-nine introductory character sequences cannot be interpreted at all by anyone. Among Islamic scholars, they are called “the mysterious letters” (or “the detached letters”). Once again, this leads to the conclusion that if a complete understanding of the entire Koran is required before one can speak with authority on it, then no one has such authority.

Obviously, Muslims would not be happy if their method of dismissing non-Muslim critiques was applied to them. Doing so would demonstrate, with multiple proofs, that it is impossible for any living person to speak with authority on the Koran. Muslims would naturally call this conclusion absurd, and insist that their scholars can speak with authority. But if this is true, then they must also admit that the original assertion, that the Koran cannot be translated effectively into a modern language, is also absurd.

If this assertion is absurd, then we must conclude that it is possible for a person to understand and critique the Koran on the basis of translations. To support this claim, consider the following:

  • 1. People have been translating books of all sorts into English for hundreds of years with few complaints, and the same can be done with the Koran. While translators may be unable to preserve all the puns, rhythms, and wordplay of foreign literature, they can do a pretty good job of preserving meaning. Also, popular books are often translated by more than one person, so that readers can compare multiple translations to get a fuller understanding of the original text. Also, if several translators interpret a passage identically, a reader can be reasonably confident of its meaning.

  • 2. Everyone who reads the Koran must interpret it when they apply it to their lives. If a knowledgeable scholar interprets the Koran by translating it, one can be reasonably confident that his interpretation is as good as any personal understanding that a speaker of Classical Arabic might have. Any reasonable person will recognize that a devout and intelligent person who reads the Koran in English may gain a better understanding of the Koran than an equally devout but less insightful person who reads the Koran in Classical Arabic. Unless Islamic scholars are willing to consign to Hell everyone who does not have a perfect understanding of the Koran, they should be willing to agree that people can gain a useful understanding of the Koran from a good translation to English. Furthermore, because

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several translations are available, a reader of those translations can gain multiple perspectives of the Koran and thereby learn how different authorities interpret it.

The bottom line is that it is not necessary to understand the exact words of Allah, in the original language, to understand the Koran. All we need to know is what the Koran means to the people who read it. And, through their translations, numerous Islamic scholars have provided authoritative line-by-line interpretations of the Koran.

It is also worth noting that the tactic of dismissing translations of the Koran does more than discourage critiques by non-Muslims. It also gives Islamic authorities added power over their followers. In fact, the more inscrutable the Koran is, and the more necessary its teachings are for salvation, the more Muslims depend on Islamic authorities for guidance.

This situation is not unique to Islam. In the past, Christianity was just as adamant on the same subject for the same reason. For example, William Tyndale, the first Englishman to translate the Bible into English, was burned at the stake for heresy in 1536. It also took until Vatican II, in the early 1960s, for the Catholic Church to endorse church services in languages other than Latin. 79 Catholicism’s requirement that scriptures be read in Latin was particularly strange because the Bible’s books were originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The Latin Bible, known as the Vulgate, is a translation.

If Christians reject the claim that the Bible cannot be translated, then they should also reject the claim that the Koran cannot be translated. Of course Westerners are qualified to critique the Koran on the basis of translations.

The Koran has two translations to English that are universally accepted as authoritative by Islamic scholars: The Glorious Koran, by Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthal, and The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali. In addition, there are several other widely accepted translations 80 that can help validate our critiques. By comparing translations of Koranic verses (called ayat 81 in Arabic), it is possible to gain as good an understanding of the Koran as that of most contemporary Muslims. Such comparisons are easy with the aid of on-line resources designed for this purpose, such as www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran. If one compares these translations, one finds a remarkable level of agreement, which adds confidence to the conclusions of Dare to Speak.

For the sake of readability, this book will not show multiple translations of each quote. It will focus on the translations of Pickthal and Yusuf Ali, and will try to present the version of each verse, or ayah, that is easiest to understand. If you have difficulty with any passage, you may cross-check it with any translation you wish.

  • 79 The books of the Bible were originally written in several different languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

  • 80 Two translations that are universally accepted as authoritative are: The Glorious Koran, by Muhammad Marmaduke William Pickthal (London, 1930), and The Holy Qur’an: Translation and Commentary, by Abdullah Yusuf Ali (Lahore, 1934, 1937). Other translations that are considered authoritative by many Islamic leaders are:

Holy Qur’aan, by M.H. Shakir (published by Tahrike Tarsile Qur’aan, Inc.), The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad (Gibraltar, 1980), and The Qur’an: The First American Version, by T.B. Irving (Vermont, 1985).

  • 81 Koranic verses are known as Ayat in Arabic. Ayat is the plural of Ayah, the word for sign. This is because each verse is considered to be a sign of Allah.

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Interpreting the Koran

Before reading actual passages from the Koran, it is worth taking a moment to consider the typical build-up that a Muslim gives when introducing it. For example, The Koran for Dummies begins with the following tribute: 82

The Jews and Christians asked Muhammad to bring some miracles as proof of the divine inspiration he claimed to receive from God. After all, if Muhammad was a prophet, then he should be able to perform miraculous magic, like Prophet Moses, or instantly cure the sick, like Jesus. The Koran responds to this challenge by exhibiting the highest form of literary Arabic ever to appear in the history of the language.

The majestic words of the Koran changed the face of the Arabic language, outclassing all the famous poetry that was at its height before the Koranic revelation. To this day, the Koran serves as the standard by which all other Arabic is judged. The book’s language proves especially remarkable since it was transmitted through Prophet Muhammad, who was illiterate and was not known for his recital of poetry…

In short, the primary miracle and proof that defines Muhammad’s prophethood is the Koran itself.

After an accolade like this, one would expect clarity from the Koran, as well as a transformative reading experience. Unfortunately, such expectations are deeply disappointed. Although the Koran repeatedly claims that it is clear, 83 anyone attempting to read it in any language will quickly find it jumbled, inconsistent, and confusing. It is so jumbled and confusing that The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Koran introduces its first lengthy Koranic quote with the following disclaimer: 84

  • 82 The Koran for Dummies, by Sohaib Sultan, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2004, chapter 1, section entitled The Proof, page 14.

  • 83 Some examples of quotes from the Koran where it claims its revelations are clear (there are close to 200 such claims to clarity within the entire Koran):

    • 1. [2.99] PICKTHAL: Verily We have revealed unto thee clear tokens, and only miscreants will disbelieve in them.

    • 2. [2.242] YUSUF ALI: Thus doth Allah Make clear His Signs to you: In order that ye may understand.

    • 3. [12.1] PICKTHAL: Alif. Lam. Ra. These are verse of the Scripture that maketh plain. [12.2] Lo! We have revealed it, a Lecture in Arabic, that ye may understand.

    • 4. [16.82] YUSUF ALI: But if they turn away, thy duty is only to preach the clear Message.

    • 5. [24.54] YUSUF ALI: Say: Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to preach the clear (Message).

    • 6. [26.2] YUSUF ALI: These are verses of the Book that makes (things) clear.

    • 7. [27.1] YUSUF ALI: These are verses of the Qur’an, -a book that makes (things) clear;

    • 8. [36.69] YUSUF ALI: We have not instructed the (Prophet) in Poetry, nor is it meet for him: this is no less than a Message and a Qur’an making things clear:

    • 9. [54.17] YUSUF ALI: And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember:

      • 10. [54.22] YUSUF ALI: But We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember:

      • 11. [54.32] YUSUF ALI: And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember:

      • 12. [54.40] YUSUF ALI: And We have indeed made the Qur’an easy to understand and remember:

  • 84 The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Koran, by Shaykh Muhammad Sarwar and Brandon Toropov, Alpha Books, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Chapter 6, section entitled In This Chapter, page 63.

  • 49

    Experiencing the Koran has been compared to navigating a wild river. It swirls and twists and turns, then doubles back from where it came…and then, just when one thinks one knows where the river is going, it curves yet again in a new direction entirely.

    That metaphor may well be an oversimplification of the text of the Koran…although one must always remember that Muslims believe that any explanation of the text is an oversimplification…a great deal of the text remains, from verse to verse, entirely unpredictable and more than a little intimidating [for] the first-time reader.

    After initial claims of perfection for the Koran, Muslims retract their praise even further when someone actually reads it in the original Arabic and discovers over one hundred grammatical irregularities 85 86 (such as non-Arabic words instead of Arabic words 87 ), and many outright errors, particularly in verses 2.177, 3.59, 4.162, 5.69, 7.160, 20.63, 49.9, and 63.10. 88 89 Unfortunately, these are difficult issues for English speakers to verify for themselves, but in- depth explanations are available in books such as Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam, by Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh, Twenty-Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, by Ali Dashti, and Why I am Not a Muslim, by Ibn Warraq.

    After reading a few surahs, it becomes clear why the Koran’s interpretation is so important, and why it has been interpreted in so many different ways. For example, in a section describing Jews and Christians, the Koran says:

    [3.113] YUSUF ALI: Not all of them are alike: Of the People of the Book are a portion that stand (for the right): They rehearse the Signs of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. [3.114] They believe in Allah and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous. [3.115] Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knoweth well those that do right.

    These verses imply that there were a substantial number of Jews and Christians who lived according to the will of Allah, independently of Muhammad and the Koran. And yet the Koran also has many long and scathing rebukes against all Jews and Christians. For example:

    [2.145] YUSUF ALI: Even if thou 90 wert to bring to the people of the Book all the Signs (together), they would not follow Thy Qibla 91 …If thou after the knowledge hath reached thee, wert to follow their (vain) desires, - then wert thou indeed (clearly) in the wrong. [2.146] PICKTHAL: Those unto whom We gave the Scripture recognize (this revelation 92 ) as they recognize their sons. But lo! A party of them 93 knowingly conceals the truth.

    • 85 Twenty-Three Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Mohammad, by Ali Dashti, translated by F.R.C. Bagley, Mazda Publishers, Costa Mesa, CA, 1994, Chapter 2: The Religion of Islam, page 42.

    • 86 Why I am Not a Muslim, by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 1995, Amherst, New York, pages 112 – 113.

    • 87 Ibid, pages 51 & 108.