Arab Nationalism and the Poisoned Palestinian Chalice

The identity of what is now Arab Nationalism, and is reflected in the use by many countries of the black-green-white and red-triangle flag, reflects little of what it was founded on.  Why is that?

It could be argued that the ideal was spoiled each and every time it had a boost.  From the time of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed united Arab tribes, the greed of man segmented it.  As the Arab tribes immigrated along with the spread of Islam, a great united Empire is created and then fragmented at the pen-ultimate moment, again by greed or anger at greed.   We can, to a degree, understand those hard and difficult times and most certainly the rest of the world suffered similarly.

The modern and distinctive rise of Arab Nationalism has its roots in an attempt to push back the Anatolian hegemony over Arab lands and culture through the Ottoman Empire.   The Ottomans had a tenuous but nevertheless firm grip over almost the entire Arab world except its extreme west (what is now Morocco and Mauretania) and portions of the lower edges of the Arab Peninsular.   As the education and participation of Arabs increased, to necessitate the running of the vast Empire, so did the aspirations of those very people increased.  These are, in fact, classic elements of pre-decolonization throughout the world.   The re-emergence of popular Arab literature, press freedom and a distinct cultural identity spurned the popularization that any nationalistic movement requires.

Wikipedia’s rather comprehensive item on Arab Nationalism is worth reading in total, and had this to say about the foundation of pan-Arabism:

The first stirrings of Arab nationalism have been detected by some historians as early as the 1860s, but it is more commonly accepted that as a sustained political movement it began early in the twentieth century. This followed the reimposition of the Ottoman constitution in 1908, and the greater freedom of the press and of political expression that resulted throughout the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. A tendency that has since come to be known as “Arabism” rapidly appeared: It stressed the ethnic identity of the Arabs and emphasized their common cultural roots. It also called for equality for Arabs with other national groups within the empire. As well as being influenced by European models and by reinterpretations of the Arab and Islamic past, Arabism was strongly affected by the rise of nationalism among the Turks, Armenians, and other peoples of the Ottoman Empire at this time.

The Arabist tendency built on the work of several groups of writers and thinkers, including the pioneers of the renaissance of the Arabic language, the Nahda. Starting in the mid-nineteenth century, this group produced new printed editions of the classics of Arabic literature, as well as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and works of history and literature, mainly in Beirut and Cairo. Another group, whose work was influential in a different way, was the Islamic reformers known as salafis, most of them from Syria and Lebanon, who argued for a return to the practices of the earliest days of Islam, and thus emphasized the period of Islamic history when the Arabs were dominant. Among them were the writers Rashid Rida, Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, Tahir al-Jaza’iri, Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, and Abd al-Razzaq al-Bitar. In addition, there were authors and publishers who traveled to Egypt to escape the censorship that increasingly afflicted the rest of the Ottoman Empire after 1876, and remained to publish newspapers, journals, and books. All these groups contributed to the growth of the Arabist idea.

The clear reference to the “other group”, the “Salafis”, shows a distinct draw-back to the expansion of an Arab national identity, how radicalism hitch-hikes on the back of other movements and begins the slow-but-steady process of infiltration and infection (see my item on Islamism, Salafi and Wahhabis in the special section of Blootstellen).

To cut a well-documented history short, the process and movement to create pan-Arab nationalism took its roots at the end of the Ottoman Era and was spurned further by the impending hegemony of European powers and the advancement of communication and liberties mostly brought by those very same colonizers.  The attempt to promote a resurgence of an identifiable past Arab, and to a lesser degree, Islamic-wide cultural identity backfired, with the latter forming a distinct “ism” itself in the form of political-Islam or Islamism.  Political groups were formed, some very secular and following well known political variants, others combining varying levels of Islamic conservativeness with political ideology.   Nevertheless, there was the makings of a large Arab-speaking identity took form in a political and wide-spread cultural nationalism.     

During the First World War, the desire to shrug-off the Ottomans caused Arabs to support the British in its war, but with serious aspirations of independence that was not mostly granted.   It also caused the more radical nationalist groups to side with radicals outside the sphere, if it helped fulfill their aspirations.   After the war, the Muslim Brotherhood, greatly concerned over Zionism’s pressure to have a Jewish Homeland and a hatred for British and French interests in Egypt sided with the growing popularity of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany who in turn offered support for their independence and was distinctly anti-Semitic (and thus would not tolerate anything Jewish).  This politically-inspired anti-Semitism choice is the first taste of the “Poisoned Chalice” of this item.   This continued and flourished, but the entire push was itself hijacked by the events of the Second World War.

The changes in European power, the Allied victory, the need and promises to nationalist movements for support (whom learned their lessons from the first war) contributed to a growing and obvious surrender to autonomy and nationalism that eventually lead to both independence of Arab nations but also the creation of the Israeli State.

At the forefront was the militant nationalist Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser and political identities Michel Aflaq (a Christian) and Salah al-Din al-Bitar and Zaki al-Arsuzi the founders of the Ba’ath Party.  

The Winds of Change and a different Arab Nationalism

The creation, independence or freedoms given to various Arab countries was the death of the original pan-Arab nationalism.  It died because they had it and then they divided it.  The greed of men, the addition of various western systems and political ideologies guaranteed division and not unification.  The creation of fledgling democracies, autocratic Monarchies, Marxist-Leninist states, a division was a forgone conclusion.

The creation of Israel was the catalyst for a vastly different pan-Arab Nationalism and it was hijacked from the start.

Irrespective of the justification and the resulted catastrophic results for some, Israel now exists and is not going away.   The politics and the results of Israel, the enigma of Palestinian homelessness and the conflicts surrounding it are well known and are not going to be re-described again here.  For the purpose of this essay, the impact of the creation of Israel has an important position in what is Arab Nationalism now. 

A combination of the expected support for the Arab Palestinians whom were dispossessed, the need for unification of Arab nations, the game-playing between Arab nations, the co-current game-playing between the West-Soviet spheres and the desires of the more radical Islamist movements is what happened.  Like the mouth-full I just wrote, we can call it “a mess”.

The Palestinian migration, dispersion and activism were given a sympathetic ear by all Arab and Muslim nations, desperate to have that global voice and if it took a common enemy, so be it.  Israel was condemned, the nations imposing and supporting it equally so.  The differences between the West and the Muslim-Arab world were already large, now it was a gulf.

Those Arab countries trying to push their weight around with the major players in the West – be it only in their own mind or for domestic consumption – pushed the link further.   Created in March 1945, the Arab League was fragile and there to discuss internal disputes. But after the creation of the Israeli State, “Joint Defense and Economic Cooperation” was agreed and formalized on April 13, 1950 that committed the signatories to coordination of military defense measures.

The Cold-War between the US lead NATO Allies and the Soviet-Bloc had a mixed result.  Their willingness to spend billions on propping up regimes and providing weapons and technology (at the cost of ideology and other agreements) pitted many members against each other as well as give the capacity for nations to push aggression towards enemies.  That galvanizing issue of Palestinian support pushed Israel as the number one target and raised the stakes for conflict in that region considerably.  We know the result and I need not go into that at all.

Islamist movements to a greater degree had all the success in their radical plans.   Playing with the key human interests and emotions that faith does, they played the religious card.   As in the theme of my items about how “radicals are willing to alter their faith, standards and morals to support their agenda, rather than the opposite”, radical Islamism certainly did the same.

Judaism and Jews have always had it tough in history, being targeted constantly from all sides, but if looked at from a theological point, are the older brothers and sisters of Christianity and Islam.   All three share the Abrahamic Faith and scriptures of the later two, recognize Judaic scriptures.     Islam specifically states that all good “children of the Book” (Christians and Jews) will stand side-by-side with Muslims at Judgment Day (my quote and I will not go into Islamic scriptures in this essay, so do not expect sources).  Anti-Semitic rhetoric has come from all sides, both Christian and Muslim for centuries and always for political reasons and never directly religious.  What changed?

Islamist movements, from the time of the Muslim Brotherhood up to this very present day, have for political point scoring and gaining support via the Palestinian Issue, have pushed anti-Semitism to the forefront, and from the lips of clerics and theologians.   In the past, it was quelled by the Islamic Institutions that wielded much influence and power over Muslims but over the last century most of them have been also infiltrated by political Islamist movements or have chosen to politicize their faith as well.   The Fez-based Maliki Islamic School of Jurisprudence and the oldest running degree-issuing University in the World (Al Karaouine, opened in the year 956 in Morocco) however, has and continues to condemn anti-Semitic rhetoric as un-Islamic.  It is not a coincidence that Morocco today still has strong ties to its Jewish heritage, a strong albeit still diminished Jewish population living still in historic quarters in ancient medinas and even has Israeli and other Jewish tourists visiting in large quantities.  An example of what it was like and how it should be some would say.

Modern day Religious-Political Ugliness

The power of faith is at the heart of man’s emotions and has been the trump card for all the beauty and ugliness that mankind has been able to produce in this world; so that it is still being played is no surprise.   Add to that a willing and vulnerable audience, dispossessed, angry, poor, and uneducated and often a captured audience (the only school is often a Mosque’s back-room) and you have a mass following.   It was inevitable, perhaps, that Islamists and ultra-conservative Imams, Mullahs and Ayatollahs would combine and capture even more followings by adding the Palestinian issue to its arsenal of “evidence”.

In more recent times, since the Iranian Revolution to be exact, things have come out of hand. Islamist movements have simply now taken power over countries, by force of arms. The combination of Islamist and militant revolutionary is an ugly hybrid that is doomed to violence, autocracy and hypocrisy.   Religious leaders are willing to usurp their religious dogma to support revolutionary aspirations to gain their might, the revolutionaries themselves are willing to give up their ideology and desires to fight off one evil by signing up to support another (or to become it).   The Iranian revolution was not only the downfall of the tyrannical corruption of the questionably authentic Pahlavi Dynasty, but it caused a panic in neighboring Kingdoms with strong Salafi, Wahhabi and other Islamist movements.   Saudi Arabia, always strongly conservative, bowed down to the even more hard-line and extremist Wahhabi population with backwards results that only in the last few years is being slowly turned corrected.

Talibanism and Al Qaeda – the two forces that arguably the world is currently at war with are direct results of the Iranian Revolution with examples of combining religious extremism with a militant arm to enforce its views on others.   Both clearly are combinations of the giving up of religious principles to suit alternative political and cultural needs that normally would be in conflict with each other.  Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden is a child of the Wahhabi extremist growth in Saudi Arabia caused from the Iranian example and we can all feel the bitter results that have come from that.   Though Israel is far from the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is still the topic, the number one enemy of both.   Iran, the first example of this ugly combination, threatens Israel constantly even if it continues to condemn its people to embargoes, isolation and possible retribution.

The Palestinian Chalice

What of the cause itself, the “Palestinian Question”?  This essay does not touch the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself and though I have my own opinions, I do not discuss it here at all.  Most of my opinions are available on Blootstellen in various places and can be found out easily enough.   The issue of the legitimacy of Israel, its right to defend itself and have its own peace and tranquility for its citizens is equally expressed in other items, as are direct comments about Israeli policies.  What this essay does touch is the benefit to modern-day radicalized Arab-Nationalism and anti-Semitism of the Palestinian cause. 

Basing this essay on the reality that there is a Palestinian Diaspora, homelessness, camps, suffering and a very strong independence movement, what affect are the Palestinians themselves on the Arab Nationalism that is galvanized behind them – if they still are in fact.

The Palestinians, to a degree, have been their own worst enemy.   In the early stages they were a cohesive force, which they certainly are no longer.   They had little support from other Arab Nations and until the above mentioned political self-interest occurred were crippled.   Acts of aggression were to a degree not surprising and for them it was war but more and more they started down the line of terrorism and lost their victim status quickly.  When backing did come, in the questionable form it did, political and later religious radicalism forced itself into the mix.

As refugees, accepted by neighboring countries, they were the worst of house guests.  They brought their conflict with them to the dismay and later suffering of The Lebanon and Jordan.  In the case of the former, it brought direct war that still preoccupies the life of the south of that country and damaged the economy of that country to this day.   In Jordan the same was occurring to the point that they were told to desist or leave, they chose neither and attempted a coup-de-tat.    Later in the First Gulf War, they chose to side with the aggressor, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, simply because he promised and did attack Israel.  Israel did not respond through desperate pleading from Western governments that could have sparked another conflict and possibly the finishing of any collective Palestinian presence at all.   To sum up these events, the Palestinians have made endless wrong decisions and made more enemies than friends and certainly hurt their case for sympathy from the world’s peoples. 

In more recent times, the radical Islamist movements have taken hold and the Palestinian Territories are cut in half, with The Brotherhood spin-off “Hamas” taking over control of the Gaza Strip.   The radical Hamas organization is at perpetual conflict with Israel and plays its game intelligently.  It gives the illusion that it cares for its population and with a not-so-hidden thug tactics is able to win elections.  It relies on the blockade of Israel for its own survival and yet uses that blockade to justify its hard-lines.    In the South of Lebanon, the Iranian-backed and Shia hard-liner Hezbollah movement does the same and is an inspiration and example for Hamas.  They have the benefit of not being blockaded and a direct source of income and armament from Iran and have had success in dealing with weaknesses that Israel has.   They are strongly linked and supportive to the Palestinian cause because of a common enemy and yet are distancing themselves from the Palestinian Authority not because of their preference to work with Hamas, but because they know the Palestinians Authority is unable to manage their issues themselves.

To a degree, this essay is about Palestinian politics and how “the Cause” has been usurped and to a degree lost through radicalism.    Supposedly, Arab Nationalism today is all about a mutual Arab Identity, economics and includes support for the creation of a Palestinian homeland.   In reality, it does not, it is an excuse for self-absorbing agendas and radicalism to flourish and the losers are the Palestinian people themselves whom are no closer to a homeland or a solution to their plight.   That extreme political and radical religious Islamists have all but taken hostage of the issue, again to the benefit of their own agendas and certainly not for the Palestinians.   That these agendas are more about hatred and not about peace, that no matter what you think and what the Israeli Authorities are doing and their own agendas, that their people are suffering to a degree as well.

The idea of pan-Arab nationalism, an Arab Identity and unity of the Arab people is a great ideal but has been dead in the water since World War II, since then it has been about personalities, politics and agendas.  Those who drank the poisoned Palestinian Chalice are only fooling themselves and the Chalice needs to be cleansed, rinsed and filled from another source, hopefully one with a flavor of peace and not hypocrisy.

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8 Responses to Arab Nationalism and the Poisoned Palestinian Chalice

  1. Natassia says:

    Interesting point-of-view.

    It could be argued that the ideal was spoiled each and every time it had a boost. From the time of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed united Arab tribes, the greed of man segmented it. As the Arab tribes immigrated along with the spread of Islam, a great united Empire is created and then fragmented at the pen-ultimate moment, again by greed or anger at greed. We can, to a degree, understand those hard and difficult times and most certainly the rest of the world suffered similarly.

    Is it any surprise that the Biblical scriptures say that the love of money is the root of all evil? You seem to believe that greed is what corrupted the Islamic empire, whereas I would argue that greed was the root of Islam from the very beginning. Greed for power. Greed for wealth. Greed for women. Some of the very first unifying acts of Muhammad and his cronies were to ambush trade caravans belonging to pagan Arabs. The wealth they accumulated attracted more would-be Muslims. The slave trade also became a very lucrative unifier. 🙂 The Muslim Arabs were famous for it.

    And I would argue that the rise of the Salafis and Wahabbism in Islam was the equivalent to the Protestant reformation in Christianity. What you might call “radicalism” I call a “return to fundamentals.”

    Also, I can never understand the use of the word “hijack” when describing political ideologies and belief systems. Ideologies don’t belong to anyone, and therefore they cannot be hijacked by anyone.

    Islamist movements to a greater degree had all the success in their radical plans. Playing with the key human interests and emotions that faith does, they played the religious card. As in the theme of my items about how “radicals are willing to alter their faith, standards and morals to support their agenda, rather than the opposite”, radical Islamism certainly did the same.

    The agenda of Islam has always been to establish a caliphate that enforces shari’a and puts the power and control in the hands of Muslims rather than the Dhimmi and other non-Muslims (dar al-islam vs dar al-harb). That’s why the Muslims left the Arabian Peninsula in the first place. That’s why they invaded north Africa and Europe. That’s why they took over the entire Middle East. Eventually they realized that it was an impossible task (fiscally and physically) to continue to take more and more territory (the Roman Empire learned that the hard way) and so a new concept arose: the dar al-sulh.

    According to Professor Gamal M. Badr, Adjunct Professor of Islamic law at New York University, in his article titled “A Survey of Islamic International Law”, during the Islamic age of expansion jurists elaborated the theory that the rest of the world outside the domain of Islam was collectively dar al-harb, and the normal relationship between it and the Muslim state was considered to be war. Any truces could not exceed a duration of ten years (a precedent set during Muhammad’s lifetime).[1]

    During the age of expansion, the rationale for waging war against non-Muslims centered around the legal thought that it was justified by the mere fact of their disbelief.[2] After over a century of expansion, Muslim leaders came to the realization that carrying Islam to the four corners of the world was unattainable.[3] What was once dar al-Islam vs. dar al-harb became dar al-Islam, dar al-sulh (“territory of peace”), and dar al-harb. The territories of peace were states that did not recognize Islamic rule over them but were not hostile towards Muslim states and made friendly treaties with them.[4]

    Judaism and Jews have always had it tough in history, being targeted constantly from all sides, but if looked at from a theological point, are the older brothers and sisters of Christianity and Islam. All three share the Abrahamic Faith and scriptures of the later two, recognize Judaic scriptures. Islam specifically states that all good “children of the Book” (Christians and Jews) will stand side-by-side with Muslims at Judgment Day (my quote and I will not go into Islamic scriptures in this essay, so do not expect sources). Anti-Semitic rhetoric has come from all sides, both Christian and Muslim for centuries and always for political reasons and never directly religious. What changed?

    What changed? I’m going to throw a wild theory out there: more Muslims became literate and the Qur’an became more widely dispersed. (Of course, that’s when all the contradictions and incoherency of Muhammad’s ramblings would have become apparant, and so Islamic scholars had to work very hard to make any sense of anything–and so we have the tafseer.)

    Also, tossing a quote out from the Qur’an to try and prove anything is pointless unless you understand the context of the ayah in the first place. You have to know under what conditions it was first “revealed” (and be willing to admit the possibility that Muhammad had an agenda for “revealing” it at that particular place and time.) This requires more than just the Qur’an since the Qur’an has zilch for context.

    You also need to understand classic Islamic doctrines, especially the doctrine of abrogation. I wonder if you do understand it but don’t want to mention its importance in Islamic scriptural interpretation and jurisprudence.

    But, in the interest of keeping my explanation short and sweet, it suffices to say that the verse “good Dhimmi will stand side-by-side with Muslims at Judgment Day” means nothing about what will happen to the Dhimmi after they are judged and found wanting for not having believed that Muhammad was a prophet of Allah. Christians are also accused of paganism for believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God…and so even Allah fights against them. (Surah 9)

    [1] Janis, Mark W. & Evans, Caroline. (1999). Religion and International Law. (p. 95). The Hague, Netherlands: Kluwer Law International – Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
    [2] Ibid (p. 96)
    [3] Ibid (p. 95)
    [4] Ibid (p.96)

    • donny2811 says:

      I will not give the same amount of replies to this as I did with the other thread because I think you make exactly the same errors on both. That is the gross injustice of equating Islamic history with today’s values and not doing the same to other faiths and events.

      To put it simple, you talk about Islam and the spread of it often by invasion as something unique and condemnable and yet you do not condemn the similarities within and under the banner of our own faith. If your reply was that it was the greed of man and politics and nothing to do with Christianity you would be both wrong and right. Wrong in the sense that they claimed God was on their side and right in the sense that it was more of man’s spuring them on as it was in fact doctrine. They, as the Muslims obviously did, believe they were doing God’s work and later they did it for themselves and power.

      You say to me that making one quote is meaningless and yet you a few sentances later do the same, thus I will also judge that to be meaningless – and most certainly out of context.

      Wahhabism has nothing to do with an equivalence to a protestent reformation. That reformation was bringing the faith back to the original scriptures and elminating dogma, Wahhabism and Salafism actually go further away from the Koranic scriputures and add haddith. They also push the line that Saudi Culture is Islamic and interestingly it is mostly Saudis and peninsula Arabs that follow it. The other 1.4 billion refute that.

      The agenda of Islam is the same as that of Judaism and Christianity – totally – to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and both have that Utopian goal in their scriptures and there is just as much an equivalance by some of turning everyone into Christians and quoting the Bible as its source as there is with Muslims. I find it rather silly to talk about religious texts in such a fashion when in fact all have the same religously inspired idiology. Do not tell me that missionaries are there to just help people in poor countries – they are there to “spread the word of Jesus” and convert with the goal of turning mankind into that.

      Most Christians in the world do not think like that though (thankfully) and the same is with Muslims. Again, you judge Islamic texts and historical events in today’s standards and mentality and somehow do not do the same to our own or other faiths. I highly recommend you go back to your books and quote a bit from the Old Testiment as a comparison first.

      Prof Badr is correct in his history, no doubts, but your context fails for one reason, what relevance has it to today other than the fact that there are radical wahhabists whom are terrorists taking some strange puritanical view and the only people who support that view are in fact people like Spencer and yourself. Does that not sound a bit strange?

      • donny2811 says:

        Just one more small comment. I had a very, very long discussion with an Imam here who lives near Rotterdam – Indonesian born, lived in The Netherlands since 1949. He said that Muslims consider three prophets special amongst others. Adam, Jesus and Mohammed. Mohammed obvously because they believe he is the last prophet and that the Koran is sacred. But they consider Adam and Jesus very special because both came from the “sand” and returned to the “sand” , meaning that they were not born but created and taken back. He finds it amazing that Copts and Orthodox Christians can have a logical conversation with Muslims based on what they share, in the divinity of Jesus and his message but that the Western Churches and the sects that sprang from it cannot. That they have turned worshiping God into worshiping Jesus. He said that Mohammed made it very clear, you only worshiip God and you venerate the Prophets. They certainly do not believe that Jesus is the son of God and for some reason the Western Church followers find that so insulting that they go out of their way to hate Islam and demonize it. I find that in fact foolish and if anything very un-Christian. I repeat what I have said a few times, there are great many problems in the Muslim world, in many countries there is unimaginable suffering, injustices and other problems, let alone two major wars etc, etc. That it is being used as an excuse to put down Islam in some fashion is shameless agenda-driven “dribble” and it would be laughable except that in today’s cyber world, the electronic gossip train called the internet has confused the almost equally ignorant masses of the West.

  2. Natassia says:

    I will not give the same amount of replies to this as I did with the other thread because I think you make exactly the same errors on both. That is the gross injustice of equating Islamic history with today’s values and not doing the same to other faiths and events.

    But today’s values are manifest in the Islamic nations themselves as is evidenced by the widespread persecution of religious minorities and the barbaric penal codes applied to what would normally be considered sins in the West as opposed to actual crimes.

    Promiscuity, adultery, and homosexuality are considered to be crimes in many Islamic countries…and even when the supposedly “secular” governments may not impose a legal punishment to such acts, the communities and families themselves often do.

    To put it simple, you talk about Islam and the spread of it often by invasion as something unique and condemnable and yet you do not condemn the similarities within and under the banner of our own faith. If your reply was that it was the greed of man and politics and nothing to do with Christianity you would be both wrong and right. Wrong in the sense that they claimed God was on their side and right in the sense that it was more of man’s spuring them on as it was in fact doctrine. They, as the Muslims obviously did, believe they were doing God’s work and later they did it for themselves and power.

    Classic ad hominem. Regardless of the history of Christianity or ANY OTHER religious belief system, it doesn’t negate the fact that Islam was based on supremacy and conquest and subjugation and practiced as such from the very beginning.

    Since the discussion here is about the reality of what Islam is today and what it was when it was created, Christianity or any other faith should have nothing to do with it.

    But, I’ll indulge your tangent. Christianity was not established on greed. The first Christians gained nothing monetarily or politically by following Christ. In fact, many of them were persecuted for it. And early Christians were persecuted for centuries until the pagan Roman emperor converted to an Arian form of Christianity.

    Islam was established on greed. Muhammad and his followers fled “persecution” from the pagans only to return and take over after gaining wealth and animals and slaves and soldiers through thievery and attacks on Jewish settlements and Arab trade caravans. And his Companions, even after his death, continued this pattern of invasion, thievery, conquest, and slave trading.

    You say to me that making one quote is meaningless and yet you a few sentances later do the same, thus I will also judge that to be meaningless – and most certainly out of context.

    I was hoping you would say that only so that I could prove you wrong.

    Surah 9 was the one of the last to be revealed. Its mandates abrogate the earlier revelations that contradict it.

    The 13th (or was it 12th?) century Islamic scholar Ibn Kathir (whose tafsir–Qur’anic commentary–is still widely used by Islamic scholars and religious authorities today) explains the context of each verse (and why my interpretation, and not yours, is the correct one.)

    Allah said, “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

    FYI: That’s Qur’an 9:29.

    Therefore, when People of the Scriptures disbelieved in Muhammad, they had no beneficial faith in any Messenger or what the Messengers brought. Rather, they followed their religions because this conformed with their ideas, lusts and the ways of their forefathers, not because they are Allah’s Law and religion. Had they been true believers in their religions, that faith would have directed them to believe in Muhammad , because all Prophets gave the good news of Muhammad’s advent and commanded them to obey and follow him. Yet when he was sent, they disbelieved in him, even though he is the mightiest of all Messengers. Therefore, they do not follow the religion of earlier Prophets because these religions came from Allah, but because these suit their desires and lusts. Therefore, their claimed faith in an earlier Prophet will not benefit them because they disbelieved in the master, the mightiest, the last and most perfect of all Prophets.

    See? Christians and Jews deny the prophethood of Muhammad, which is a big Islamic no-no. Believing in Muhammad is one of the 5 pillars of Islam, you know.

    Hence Allah’s statement, “Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture.” This honorable Ayah was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book, after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah’s religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims’ control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination.

    But Islam’s not about invasion and conquest, right?

    The Messenger sent his intent to various Arab areas around Al-Madinah to gather forces, and he collected an army of thirty thousand. Some people from Al-Madinah and some hypocrites, in and around it, lagged behind, for that year was a year of drought and intense heat. The Messenger of Allah marched, heading towards Ash-Sham to fight the Romans until he reached Tabuk, where he set camp for about twenty days next to its water resources. He then prayed to Allah for a decision and went back to Al-Madinah because it was a hard year and the people were weak, as we will mention, Allah willing.

    Yes, it was definitely Allah’s decision that Muhammad and his band of marauders go back home… (I told you, his revelations were revealingly convenient.) Ibn Kathir continues on in his explanation of ayah 29 with details on the treatment of the Dhimmi and the significance of the jizya. You can read the rest here.

    Let’s continue on to the next verse:

    [Qur’an 9:30] And the Jews say: “Uzayr (Ezra) is the son of Allah,” and the Christians say: “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is their saying with their mouths, resembling the saying of those who disbelieved aforetime. May Allah fight them, how they are deluded away from the truth!

    Allah the Exalted encourages the believers to fight the polytheists, disbelieving Jews and Christians, who uttered this terrible statement and utter lies against Allah, the Exalted. As for the Jews, they claimed that `Uzayr was the son of God, Allah is free of what they attribute to Him. As for the misguidance of Christians over `Isa, it is obvious. This is why Allah declared both groups to be liars…

    Hmmm…..I’ll let that speak for itself.

    You wrote:

    Wahhabism has nothing to do with an equivalence to a protestent reformation. That reformation was bringing the faith back to the original scriptures and elminating dogma, Wahhabism and Salafism actually go further away from the Koranic scriputures and add haddith. They also push the line that Saudi Culture is Islamic and interestingly it is mostly Saudis and peninsula Arabs that follow it. The other 1.4 billion refute that.

    Actually based on what most Muslims I’ve spoken with tell me, and from the commentary I’ve seen from “mainstream Muslims,” they abhor the Saudi royalty, not the Saudi religious clerics. A monarchy is “unIslamic”, in fact. And interestingly enough, the Salafis haven’t added much hadith to what is already considered to be sahih: Bukhari and Muslim being the top two. And hadith are ordered by importance and trustworthiness, which is why not all Islamic jurists will agree on everything since not all isnads are equal.

    The agenda of Islam is the same as that of Judaism and Christianity – totally – to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth and both have that Utopian goal in their scriptures and there is just as much an equivalance by some of turning everyone into Christians and quoting the Bible as its source as there is with Muslims. I find it rather silly to talk about religious texts in such a fashion when in fact all have the same religously inspired idiology. Do not tell me that missionaries are there to just help people in poor countries – they are there to “spread the word of Jesus” and convert with the goal of turning mankind into that.

    Eh, I would disagree with this. The agenda of Islam is not to bring the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. The agenda of Islam is to submit to the will of Allah until ‘Isa returns to “break the cross and kill the pig” and usher in the Day of Judgment. What matters is what “submitting to the will of Allah” means.

    The gospel of Jesus has nothing to do with physical conquest and bringing people under the subjugation of a particular set of laws.

    Most Christians in the world do not think like that though (thankfully) and the same is with Muslims. Again, you judge Islamic texts and historical events in today’s standards and mentality and somehow do not do the same to our own or other faiths. I highly recommend you go back to your books and quote a bit from the Old Testiment as a comparison first.

    As was evidenced by the massive world-wide protests, death threats, and violence over some stupid Muhammad cartoons, I would say that perhaps today’s standards and mentalities are not where you think they are.

    Quoting from the Old Testament also doesn’t mean anything unless you can prove, while keeping it in context and in line with Christian doctrine, that I am supposed to apply something to my behaviors as a Christian. (I am assuming you mean something like not eating shellfish or stoning adulterers to death.)

    Prof Badr is correct in his history, no doubts, but your context fails for one reason, what relevance has it to today other than the fact that there are radical wahhabists whom are terrorists taking some strange puritanical view and the only people who support that view are in fact people like Spencer and yourself. Does that not sound a bit strange?

    I think you distract yourself with this “radical” label. The fact is, there are GROWING numbers of Muslims (as is evidenced by the increase in Muslims leaving America to go train and join in jihad) who are agreeing with this fundamentalist view. It’s not strange, but it is puritanical. These Muslims are seeking absolution and truth and are revolting against the secular liberalism that has permeated modern society, whether it be Europe, America, or elsewhere. It certainly is not surprising, and definitely not “strange.”

    Just one more small comment. I had a very, very long discussion with an Imam here who lives near Rotterdam – Indonesian born, lived in The Netherlands since 1949. He said that Muslims consider three prophets special amongst others. Adam, Jesus and Mohammed. Mohammed obvously because they believe he is the last prophet and that the Koran is sacred. But they consider Adam and Jesus very special because both came from the “sand” and returned to the “sand” , meaning that they were not born but created and taken back. He finds it amazing that Copts and Orthodox Christians can have a logical conversation with Muslims based on what they share, in the divinity of Jesus and his message but that the Western Churches and the sects that sprang from it cannot.

    I wonder how much of that also has to do with language and culture barriers. I find it very hard to have truly logical conversations about much of anything with Muslims since their reality and interpretation of what is the “truth” is so different from mine.

    That they have turned worshiping God into worshiping Jesus. He said that Mohammed made it very clear, you only worshiip God and you venerate the Prophets. They certainly do not believe that Jesus is the son of God and for some reason the Western Church followers find that so insulting that they go out of their way to hate Islam and demonize it. I find that in fact foolish and if anything very un-Christian.

    Like I said, the Holy Trinity is an ancient concept, and one even Orthodox Christians believe. It predates the time of Muhammad, which is why he “revealed” those verses I quoted earlier.

    Actually, the Christian scriptures themselves demonize any belief system that contradicts the gospel of Jesus Christ. So you can go ahead and blame the hatred of Islam on the command that Christians hate that which is evil. But please don’t make the common mistake of equating the abhorrence of an ideology with abhorrence of the people who adhere to it. Christians are to love everyone, including (and especially) their enemies.

    I repeat what I have said a few times, there are great many problems in the Muslim world, in many countries there is unimaginable suffering, injustices and other problems, let alone two major wars etc, etc. That it is being used as an excuse to put down Islam in some fashion is shameless agenda-driven “dribble” and it would be laughable except that in today’s cyber world, the electronic gossip train called the internet has confused the almost equally ignorant masses of the West.

    People have been putting down Islam for years prior to the culmination of the terrorist movement on 9/11/2001. People have been warning about it for years. People have been writing books about the evil and threat that this ideology poses to the West.

    No one took it seriously until the slaughter at 9/11 and the 15,000+ deadly jihad attacks that have occurred around the world since.

    • donny2811 says:

      Natassia I am not going to give much back because most of what you have said is repetative contextual abuse and since that is the main theme of my blog, I can thank you for showing it. The double-standard that is repeating, talking about today but giving quotes from the 12th and 7th centuries, putting standards on Muslimls and Islam of today based on then and reversing them or denying them for other faiths simply fails. Mostly, I have to say, the vast majority of what you say is itself adhonenims and generalizations. You have in fact carefully avoided the two points that in fact shoot-down this theme of yours, that most countries do not in fact implement “sharia” plus that many of these “barbaric” laws are in fact practiced by many countries that are not Muslim. It is that nausiating and frankly rediculous implication that spams the blogosphere that somehow the poverty, corruption and yes even barbarity of many Muslim countries is because of Islam and nothing to do with their being developing countries, and that the non-Muslim countries are avoided being mentioned altogether. To be dead honest, that is self-righteous crap. There are more rapes in South Africa, more murders, injustices, brutalities in Rawanda and the Congo and they are not Muslim. There are more deaths per capita and civilian suffering right now in self-proclaimed ultra-Catholic Mexico and the war-on-drugs costs that region (including the US) more than their anti-terrorism budget multiplied by three.

      You want to call out examples of history and yet avoid it when it is given back, that does not stick, it is simply unacademic and smells rather two-faced. You have quickly skimmed over Christianity probably out of fear more than anything else. Jesus’ message was clear enough and to be clear on his passing, from Paul onwards the road returned to the usual conquer and use any excuse possible and God as well as Jesus’ name was on the tip of the sword. The reality, and you have tried to dismiss it without evidence and just called it “typical” but more innocence had died under our faith than that of any other in the annuals of history and you cannot avoid it, especially when using the juvenile excuse of deflection to another.

      People have not been putting down Islam for years, only evangalists, missionairies and others trying to prop-up their own faith have been and obviously it worked in their community. Thankfully, here in Europe we have not been so sheltered and manipulated and the majority of criticisms have been about nations and leaders and not foolishly attacking the faith.

      A final comment because this thread-line is burnt out, if one blames 9/11 on Islam then one must assume the constant and almost successful destruction of Judaism on Christianity from the pogroms over the milenias that dwarfed any similar anti-semitism in the Muslim world. 9/11 was done by radicals and it should not be forgotten that all 56 Muslim nations condemned it and that all but three of them are in the same war-on-terror and are in fact facing the battle more directly, with more effort and with more to lose than the US. That blame is naive and full of inaccuracy and excuses and that simply gives discredit and disrespect to the families of the victims who deserve better. Yes small “j” jihadists are at war but there are many wars, those apeasists-of-bigotry on the blogosphere want to gain advantage, sell their faith by discrediting the faith of others (which I think is repugnant) and ignore other and equally serious issues. There are more people right now dying on the Mexico-American border over a subject that kills more American children and destroying families than the two overseas wars. There are more cultural-based-killings (honor-killings) in India every year than elsewhere but because it is not Islam they are labelled as cultural or just ignored, and thus babies can be drowned or buried with impunity – so much for talking about abortion with high-notes. We Christians are there to “love they enemies” and to be honest, have never showed it and to imagine otherwise and judge others without aknowledging what happens in one’s own backyards is not only having their head buried deep in the sand, but most certainly playing a game of self-perpetuating hypocrisy.

      It was nice talking to you, I believe you have given many examples for my blog topic.

      Donny
      Rotterdam

  3. donny2811 says:

    Just thought as a closing point on this thread an item someone pointed out from FT.com about a book “In Ishmael’s House: A History of the Jews in Muslim Lands, by Martin Gilbert, Yale University Press RRP£25, 320 pages” in which the reviewer Avi Shlaim says:

    Jewish life under Muslim rule naturely invites comparison with that under Christian rule. Here Gilbert quotes with approval the eminent Jewish scholar Bernard Lewis, who concluded that the situation of the Jews living under Muslim rulers was “never as bad as in Christendom at its worst, nor ever as good as in Christendom at its best”. Lewis observes that “there is nothing in Islamic history to parallel the Spanish expulsion and Inquisition, the Russian pogroms, or the Nazi Holocaust”. But he goes on to point out that there is nothing in the history of the Jews under Islam “to compare with the progressive emancipation and acceptance accorded to the Jews in the democratic West during the last three centuries”.

  4. Natassia says:

    Donny,

    I’m ignoring your ad hominem arguments. The rest of my response is more for your readers than for yourself, because you seem to have made up in your mind what the “real Islam” is.

    It is the height of arrogance that you assume to know the context of the Qur’an verses and how they should be applied better than the Muslims themselves. We have centuries of Islamic writings that confirm Professor Badr’s analysis, the Tafsir Ibn Kathir (which I quoted) being only one of them. Your obstinant refusal to even acknowledge the authority these writings hold in mainstream Islamic jurisprudence is quite telling. (Or do you even know what fiqh is?) I recomment that you peruse this, one of the most popular tafsir websites in the world.

    What you seem to have an incredibly hard time reconciling is the idea that most Muslims simply choose how much they want to follow Islam. The more they seek to follow Islam PURELY, the more they become supporters of the mujahideen. I recommend that you read my post “Justice, Taliban-not-Islam-style” (a tongue-in-cheek title). It might wake you up to how the average Pakistani Muslim thinks about Islamic law.

    Activist Reformists and Submitters and Qur’an-only Muslims risk the threat of death from their fellow Muslims for heresy–that’s why they’re all here in the United States or in western Europe. What’s incredibly interesting is how these reformists who seek to change Islam from its traditional roots still argue that it is not Islam that is the problem but just “some Muslims.” And yet they are thrown to the proverbial wolves when it comes to theological debates with fundamentalist Muslims. In the video I linked in the sentence prior, about 7 or so minutes into it, watch and see how difficult it is for the secular reformist Muslim (Hasan) to explain why Christians and Jews are not guilty of kufr. It’s almost painful to see how the only way he can explain it is by straying further away from the Qur’an and traditional Islamic intepretation and relying upon a “universalist” type of thinking.

    There is a concept called bid’ah which these reformists (Muslims following Islam based on their prior established morals which are based on Western values of individual liberty and freedom of expression) are often guilty of. Why don’t you peek in on a discussion in an Islamic forum about bid’ah?

    My question to you is this, Donny, who is a “real” Muslim and why?

    • donny2811 says:

      Natassia, jumping threads to continue what I think is no longer a logical discussion does not realy work and I will not allow more than this one reply on it. Since you wrote it, I will answer clear enough, showing the mistakes (obviously intentional) you have made.

      I also have read Professor Badr and give him great respect. You are clearly destroying the context that he has put his work, that intentional and rather Spencer-esque style as well, he was talking about history, not present day. You constantly equate the history with today and yet ignore and meekly refuse to give that same value to Christianity, that is sad, in regards to you. If Badr is your evidence, then simply and comprehensively shot your argument to peices. Rather like your feable assumptions and examples given about the Jews and persecution there of, second-class citizens etc, by Muslims in Al Andalus, when the greatest three events against judaism, the world’s worst barbarism have been done mostly by non-Muslims. Not hat we should count, each should be judged and condemned on their own merit – it is just that pointing the finger at one does not only stick but smacks of blatant agenda and bigotry.

      Bid’ah is a word I know well and I am also very aware and even have seen injustices first hand, the examples of radicals and the difficulties of the regions in this planet with little education, easy corruption, abuse by influencial minorities is everywhere – and again not only in Muslim worlds. Giving examples is fine, as long as the context globally is given which you have yet again failed to do, including in your own understanding of what is a real Muslim. Firstly, with these examples, there are enough other examples that are equally injust, hateful, ignorant, abusive, often ignored by the state (or its) officials around the non-Muslim world as the Muslim one, that simply offset your self-proclaimed evidence.

      Now to the subject of who is a real Muslim. Real Muslims are all of them as much as who is a real Christian. I was born Catholic and we know that they do not consider American evangelicals to be good examples of Christians whilst Protestants will say that Catholics are Mary-Worshipers and do not pray to God at all, etc, etc, so who are they Natassia, that is one valid answer

      The answer is also on the reality of the people itself as it is they that make up Islam. You have absolutely no idea about that, you may know all the words and phrases, can talk about haddiths and sunnah but it is very obvious that you know only the limited examples of what you have been exposed to and the blogs/books that you read, which mostly is done by agenda. That is an abysmal failure of the first order, when you use that information to accuse.

      Having been to all but one country in the Middle-East, and I have even been to parts of Saudi Arabia, work constantly in four countries, born in Indonesia and have returned, Malaysia as well and lived, befriended and now can even say having two relatives whom are (both from differing regions as well) that I have witnessed the reality on the ground. The reality on the ground is not Saudi, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan or the Sudan – and yet it is one of the realities. The average Muslims frankly does not give a damn about bid’ah but cares about his family and what his family and friends think. They say when you try to poll information, you get those that are interested in answering, thus you get the extreme view, and to a degree that is right via the media. Yes if you go to the middle of Karachi or Lahore and ask them about America, Sharia and bid’ah you will get the answers of harshness, but then follow them home and you will see either the influences on them or that they said so because they were in public – half the guys would rather drink a beer.

      An elderly berber lady in the Atlas mountains region of Beni Mellal (Morocco) does her five prayers, fasts and gives even zakat in the form of milk from her goats has no aspirations or care about the person next door if they follow one of the five schools of jurispudence or not. Neither does the people 400kms away in the city of Casablanca unless they have been radicalized. One suburb of that city, called Sidi Moumen, is the region that was radicalized and home to the suicide bombers that struck Morocco in 2003 and later in failed to do so in 2004. They all follow what in a very good BBC documentary called “Generation Jihad” shows is the sample of young, aliented, mostly poor difficulty socially and thus over the internet and in certain mosques are radicalized. If you have 0.1 per cent of a thousand of such you have already a team. I could go on for paragraphs about the affects of illiteracy and how in some countries the only news and education is from the mosques and if they are not under control and are radicalized, you will gain a small army, but to me that is logical.

      Real Muslims are the people themselves in all their fashions, just like there are hundreds of variants of our own faith and each disputing that the other is a real Christian. Given half the chance, the new generation, the middle and upper class structures of the Muslim world do not fit what the radicals (and what you incorrectly assume are the only real Muslims) believe is corrcct and they are all heretics and bad believers. Come to Morocco and Tunisia and see the people in the streets, cafes, half the women have hijabs, the others not, many women are like westerners in designer dresses and jeans, they all drink coffee and boutique-softdrinks and yet most go home and still do their five times prayers. They worship their parents and their self-respect, their freedom and dream of being simple, honest and “halal” (clean in a moral sense) and that is all. They are the majority and they are the in many aspects, the “real” Muslims.

      You can imagine they are all Wahabists and you will be sadly mistaken, I suspect though, that as brainwashed as you are, you want to believe what you “wish” it was to justify your own bigotry and I suspect also that it is because you have, like the radical Muslims, been brainwashed in some evangelical community and you think that by condemning Islam you have done your bit in some “crusade”. Have you seen the film Name of the Rose with Sean Connery, I take his line in regards to religious zealots who go to far…… if you get my point.

      The topic between us is dead, you have helped my study of contextual abuse to no-end, if you place another similar item to continue it on any other thread, it will be spammed. I do so out of respect to my blog.

      Cheers and God bless

      Donny

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