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Islamophobia is the new Socialism

Well I’m happy to say America is progressing. I’m exceedingly sad to report that it is progressing from handwringing about socialism to handwringing about militant Islam spreading across the Western world and infecting the governments of the countries they inhabit like so many blankets spreading smallpox.

In keeping with this new tradition, a friend of mine recently sent me one of the first emails I’ve gotten from him that doesn’t mention the nascent socialist takeover of the United States at all. No, this one was all Islam, all the time. Actually it was just a link to a YouTube video. Have a watch, and then read my lengthy response below the jump.

Have you watched it? Good. Here’s the email:

Below you will find my response to the video link that you sent me. It’s long, but I think it’s worth reading. A few notes, though, before I begin:

a) Islam is not monolithic any more than Christianity is monolithic. Not all Muslims ascribe to Wahhabism just as not all Christians subscribe to the Christian Identity[1] movement. Videos like this one attempt to paint the entire Muslim world as Wahhabi, when that’s not true at all. Wahhabism is a movement within Sunni Islam that has a very rich sponsor in Saudi Arabia and had a nice base of operations in Afghanistan. It is not, however, particularly common in the Muslim world.

Here’s a map of the major legal and belief systems in the Muslim world.


To which is the video referring? They’re way too diverse and divergent for it to be referring to all three.

b) It’s easy to believe the malarkey in this video at face value if you don’t actually know or interact with Muslims on a daily basis. Dehumanization of any group of people is easier if you keep your distance. I haven’t had that option. Not at college, not at work, and not in my social life. And I’m very glad I don’t. I’d be more likely to believe the lies in this video if I did.

OK. Onto the analysis:

I did not think our country, the Western World, or the World (for that matter) was at war with Islam, so I watched this video and learned.

The first thing I learned is that whoever made this video had plenty of money for a very high-value production (even if it is just text). I watched it all the way through. And then I did 30 minutes of research. It’s what I do with any article or video that makes claims but contains no evidence to back up its claims.

The second thing I learned is that it’s astoundingly false. Not just one or two of the three points it makes, but all three are AMAZINGLY misleading.

The intro talks about how people surround themselves that agree with their preconceived notions. Ironically, that’s what this video relies on. And it seems to have worked. This video managed to make it to me with absolutely no comments about the content of the video other than a paragraph of glittering generalities about the West vs. Islam.[2]

I guess I’ll issue point by point refutations of the video.

1) Abrogation.

To say that the concept of abrogation is universally accepted in the Muslim faith is incorrect. It is widely accepted, but far from universal.

To say that every peaceful phrase in the Qur’an has been abrogated by the Verse of the Sword is very, very wrong. The Verse of the Sword was temporally constrained to a battle that took place against certain Pagan tribes that had broken a treaty with Muslims and had previously slain them on a pilgrimage.

There is no universality among those who ascribe to the doctrine of abrogation as to which verses have been abrogated. In fact, in the Middle Ages, the general consensus was that somewhere in the vicinity of 200 verses had been abrogated. Nowadays, most scholars claim only a handful of abrogations. The majority of Muslims do not accept abrogation of the “peaceful” phrases by the Verse of the Sword.[3] Abrogation is meant to resolve differences in laws, not differences in the laws of war vs. the laws of peacetime.

2) Sharia.

This one is even more false than the first one. Qur’anic verse states that “dhimmi” (“people of the contract”, or certain non-Muslims living in Muslim-governed land) need not abide by and are not tried under Sharia law. In much of the Muslim world, “dhimmi” is seen to refer to any non-Muslim living under Muslim rule.

Additionally, many Muslim countries (Turkey, Indonesia, Mali, Kazakhstan) are secular. These are countries ruled by Muslims and ruling over Muslims that do not have Sharia law. In its place are a constitution and a legislature.

The video tries to scare people by saying that EVEN IN THE U.K., Muslims are trying to establish and enforce Sharia law. It’s true. If both parties agree to have their claims arbitrated by a Sharia court rather than try the case in civil court, they can do so. It’s kind of equivalent to going on Judge Judy or The People’s Court. It’s an alternate forum that can be used if both parties agree to it. The U.K. has been doing the same thing with Jewish Beth Din courts for 100 years. Where have the videos been on that issue?

3) Taqiyya

If the filmmakers wanted me not to immediately do research to figure out how full of it their claims were, they should have left this one off the list. The problem is that I already knew about taqiyya. I came across it when studying the Druze religion, which is an 11th century offshoot of Islam. It’s a fascinating religion. It’s completely closed to outsiders, proselytization is strictly forbidden, and they keep their beliefs very private.

Here’s what taqiyya is all about: if you are living under a government that persecutes your religion, you’re allowed to hide your religion from those who would persecute or kill you. Taqiyya was used by Sunnis living under Shi’a rule and even more commonly by Shi’a living under Sunni rule. These are the limits of Qur’anic taqiyya. Any claim that this doctrine is designed for political doubletalk knows nothing of Taqiyya, and those who say its intended use is to deceive non-Muslims ignore history.

So there you have it. Some facts behind the slick production values. Thinking for yourself is good; researching what people tell you is even better. It’s the best expression of skepticism there is.

You told me to remain skeptical, and I do. I hope you continue to send these email forwards you get. I enjoy learning from and researching them.

In closing,

| If you never watch another “youtube” video, you should watch this one!

The only way I would never watch another YouTube video after this one is if someone reliably told me that all YouTube videos were this spurious. If that were so, I would swear off YouTube videos at a moment’s notice.


PS: I hope you had a good time in DC when you were up here for the rally. I’m sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Identity

[2] The paragraph reminds me greatly of Oswald Spengler’s book, The Decline of the West (1918, revised 1922), about how the West is doomed to fall to the “Magian” Semitic societies of the Jews and the Arabs, while the “Faustian” West withers away. The book prompted a very eloquent refutation in The Rise of the West by William McNeill, excoriating Spengler’s flawed “clash of civilizations” analysis of world history.

[3] http://www.nicheoftruth.org/pages/the_quran_and_the_theory_of_abrogation.htm

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  1. Fritz Heckel
    September 4th, 2010 at 08:18 | #1

    Thanks Andrew, great post!

  1. September 19th, 2010 at 14:04 | #1