13th September 2001
Is Professor John Casey (the Daily Mail, Wednesday, 12th September) serious when he proposes that Islam has 'usually …extended to Christians and Jews - the 'people of the book' - a high degree of toleration which Christians have begun to reciprocate only quite recently'? Where has he been for the last few decades - and has he ever read any serious histories of the rise of Islam? Orthodox Christians recognise that the same spirit that initiated the Islamic deception through the man, Muhammad, is behind modern day terrorism - even if Tuesday's atrocity eventually proves to be the work of non-Muslims. First, after his supposed encounter with the angel 'Gabriel' - when he correctly assumed that he had gone mad or was demon possessed - Muhammad took the political laws which governed seventh-century Arabian tribes and made them into the laws of Allah. In such tribes the sheik, or chief, had absolute authority over those under him. There was no concept of civil or personal rights in seventh-century Arabia. The head of the tribe decided whether you lived or died. This is why dictators, or 'strong men,' who rule as despots, always inevitably rule Islamic countries. Of the 21 Arab nations, how many are democratic? Democracy has never flourished in Arab nations because of the religion of Islam. But the more 'secular' an Arab nation becomes, the more 'democratic' it becomes and highly secularised Egypt is an example of this phenomenon - and what happened to their president, Anwar Sadat, when he dared sign a 'peace treaty' with Israel in 1981? Cold blooded assassination! The English word 'assassin' is derived from the Latin word, 'assassinus', which is taken from the Arabic word, 'hashshashin' (which literally means 'smokers of hashish') and was used as a description of those Muslims who smoked the drug to whip themselves into a frenzy before killing their enemies. The word came into the English vocabulary through the Muslim sect, 'The Assassins', who believed that Allah had called them to kill infidels (unbelievers) as a sacred duty. This should not surprise us because Islam not only condones violence but commands it. Surah 9:5 states: 'Fight and slay the pagans (i.e. infidels) wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.' What are they instructed to do to people who resist Islam? Sura 5:33 is clear: 'Their punishment is ... execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides, or exile from the land.'
Whenever Islamic fundamentalism regains dominance, the nation is plunged back into the 'dark ages' of seventh-century Arabia. Iran is an obvious example of what happens to a nation when the Islamic clergy take over the government. The despots of the Ottoman Empire, and the plethora of dictators who have made life hell in Libya, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc., are merely examples of seventh-century Arabian tyranny transplanted into modern times. Because there was no concept of personal freedom or civil rights in the tribal life of seventh-century Arabia, Islamic law does not recognise freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, or freedom of the press. This is why non-Muslims, such as Christians or Bahais, are routinely denied even the most basic civil rights. Christians are not even allowed to build churches in Muslim countries and are constantly persecuted, as recent events in Sudan and Pakistan testify. Compare this with the freedom Islam has to build mosques and worship freely in the West!
In the West, people are also free to protest about the action of their government. This is why thousands of people were allowed to protest against the Gulf War - they had the freedom of speech and assembly to do so. But what if they lived in an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia? There was no freedom to protest the war in Saudi Arabia. The Associated Press reported on February 2, 1991: 'Prince Nazef had warned that anyone undermining the kingdom's security would be executed or have a hand and a leg cut off.' There was no punishment for those who freely protested against the war in the West! Most sickening of all was the news that, a few months after the war ended and we had finishing baling their sorry backsides out of Saddam Hussain's hands, a 15 year old boy was hung in Saudi Arabia for becoming a Christian! The news of regular atrocities of this kind filter out of Muslim countries. Witness the deaths of drug smugglers by unnecessary tortuous strangulation in the British press in the last week! Incarceration without due process; the use of torture; political assassination; the cutting off of hands, feet, ears, tongues, and heads; gouging out of eyes; stoning to death for adultery -- all of these things are part of Islamic law today because they were part of seventh-century Arabian culture. To Westerners, such things are barbaric and should not have any place in the modern world. Muslims do not regard killing a person as wrong in itself. It is wrong if the person is a kinsman or of an allied group; and in Islam this means the killing of any Muslim believer. They have a traditional fear of retaliation and were careful in the past not to kill a member of a strong tribe, but where they feel powerful they have no compunction not to kill.
Muslim and non-Muslim authorities in the field of Middle East studies, such as Ali Dashti, agree with the conclusions drawn by Western scholars regarding the nature of Islam. The denial of civil rights to women, which is clearly in the text of the Quran itself, is reflective of seventh-century Arabian culture and its low view of women. Even today, Muslim women can be kept prisoners in their own home. They can be denied the right to go outside the house if the husband so orders. They have long been denied the right to vote in Islamic countries and, in countries such as Iran, women must carry written permission from their husband to be out of the house! Women are even denied the right to drive a car in such places as Saudi Arabia. On March 10, 1991, the New York Times Magazine (pp. 26-46) reported the following story on women's rights in Saudi Arabia: 'The crisis in the gulf last fall spawned a messy and much publicised demonstration by women, who dumped their chauffeurs and drove in convoy, defying an informal ban on driving by women. The incident prompted a vicious campaign against them by religious fanatics, with Government acquiescence. Underlying these stories is the question of how much power the religious establishment should have, in particular the religious police. They patrol the streets and shopping malls, telling women to cover their faces and young men to pray. The only people with spine in this society are the 47 women who drove. One Saudi intellectual said, 'And look what happened to them. They were thrown to the wolves.' The Government punished them as severely as it would any public protesters. Virtually all of those who taught at one university were dismissed by order of the King. The women, as well as their husbands and even some of their relatives, were forbidden to leave the kingdom. They were ordered not to meet with Western reporters or to discuss their situation with any outsider, and they were warned of further reprisals if they attempted to drive again or stage another demonstration. But the Government's abuse of these women was mild compared with their treatment by the religious establishment.... The fundamentalist sheiks denounced them from one of the kingdom's most powerful political platforms, the mosque pulpits. In Friday sermons after the protest, the women were branded as 'red communists,' 'dirty American secularists,' 'whores and prostitutes,' 'fallen women,' and 'advocates of vice.' Their names, occupations, addresses and phone numbers were distributed in leaflets around the mosque and other public places. One leaflet accused them of having renounced Islam, an offence punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Several of the women remained unrepentant, convinced that eventually the issue of their status will be addressed. 'The issue is not driving,' one of them said. 'It is that here in Saudi Arabia, I exist as a person from the bellybutton to the knees.'
Islam is a distinctively Arabian cultural religion. Unless this is firmly grasped, no real understanding of Islam is possible. Unless this fundamental point is understood, Western people will never understand why Muslims think and act the way they do. We should not forget the plight of Salman Rushdie as a modern example of Islamic violence. To receive a death sentence for writing a book which gives an unfavourable view of Muhammad is something a Westerner can neither understand nor tolerate. But to an Arab Muslim, it makes perfect sense. Why did Rushdie use the title 'The Satanic Verses' - and why did it lead to this furious reaction from fundamentalists? In order to appease his pagan family members and the members of the Quraysh tribe, the 'prophet' Muhammad decided that the best thing he could do was to admit that it was perfectly proper to pray to and worship the three daughters of Allah, the moon god his tribe already worshipped. These goddesses were named: Al-Lat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. This led to the famous 'satanic verses' in which Muhammad, in a moment of weakness and supposedly under the inspiration of Satan (according to early Muslim authorities), succumbed to the temptation to appease the pagan mobs in Mecca (Sura 53:19). The literature on the 'satanic verses' is so vast that an entire book could be written just on this one issue. Every general and Islamic reference work, Muslim or Western, deals with it as well as all the biographies of Muhammad. The story of Muhammad's temporary appeasement of the pagans by allowing them their polytheism cannot be ignored or denied. It is a fact of history that is supported by most Middle East scholars, Western and Muslim, and only a few modern Muslim apologists reject this history. But they cannot do so on the basis of any historical or textual evidence. Their objection is based solely on the grounds that Muhammad was sinless and therefore could not have done this! When his disciples at Medina heard of Mohammad's fall into polytheism, they rushed to him with rebukes and counsel. Muhammad would later claim that Gabriel himself came down from heaven and rebuked him for allowing Satan to inspire him to concede to the Meccan worship of the daughters of Allah. He then reverted back to his monotheism and stated that Allah can 'abrogate,' that is, cancel, a past revelation. After Muhammad's death, the 'satanic verses' were not included in the text of Quran. They were abrogated! This, of course, led to endless ridicule. The pagan Meccans pointed out with glee that Muhammad's 'Allah' simply could not make up his mind: At an earlier date, Muhammad had claimed that Allah said they could not worship the three daughters of Allah. Then Allah said that they could worship the three daughters. And now, once again, they were being told that they could not worship the three daughters. Cannot Allah make up his mind? Exactly the same pattern exists in the history of the 'American Muhammad', self-styled Mormon 'prophet' Joseph Smith! You will not find a single Biblical prophet or apostle guilty of such contradiction.