Throughout history, what has been the one way that Brute A can impress Brute B? (def. impress: scare off, intimidate, keep from stealing your grain or winning the election) The easiest route is to beat on your women. Instant respect!
But, when religions came along, and said things like "women are people", this caused some initial concern among these boneheads, because they until then had never really dealth with a coherent and intellectual response to their straightforward Hulk Smash! attitude. The response was ingenious, simply assert that "women are people" REALLY means "women are chattel" and now, you can use the entire infrastructure of religion as just another club! It's a far better club, in fact, because no matter how big and striong a Brute you are, your victims fear God more than they fear you.
Steven agrees with me. But he doesn't know it yet.
When Steven writes, however:
But to remain apathetically silent is to consent to let the extremists speak on behalf of Islam collectively and to characterize the struggle as being against all of Islam. To stay silent is to permit the extremists to control how Islam is perceived by the non-Muslims of the world.
then we rae emphatically NOT in agreement. He is talking about Muslims. But let me assure him and you that as a Muslim, I don't really CARE how Islam is perceived by non-Muslims. I care how Islam is perceived by Muslims.
And just because he thinks Muslims are silent doesn't mean they are. In fact they have strong voices, and there is a level of debate raging in the Islamic world that is completely missed by insulated commentators in the US. This point was eloquently made in an interview with Stephen Schwartz, in National Review Online:
Leading Muslims outside the U.S. denounce Wahhabism, and many denounced the atrocity of 9/11. Unfortunately, however, most of U.S. media is completely incompetent in finding, listening to, or understanding these voices. U.S. media does not interview anti-Wahhabi sheikhs or imams or muftis in the Islamic world. U.S. media paid no attention when the head of Bosnian Islamic scholars, Mustafa efendija Ceric, preached eloquently against terrorism. U.S. media did not notice when an Albanian daily - in a country with a Muslim majority - hailed the U.S. action in Afghanistan last year with the headline "Nobody Veils the Statue of Liberty's Face." Nobody in the U.S. media has followed up on reports by myself and others showing that Kosovar Albanian Muslims would like to fight for the West in Iraq. Worse, U.S. media has reported very little of the mobilization of 70 million Indonesian Muslims against extremism in the aftermath of the Bali horror.
U.S. media listens to the so-called "Arab street," which is essentially irrelevant, filled as it is with yelling loiterers, or engages in polling
exercises asking loaded questions. This, of course, reinforces the view of Muslims as unanimous haters of the West and America. To understand the struggle of the world's traditional Muslims against Wahhabism, you have to get away from the "Arab street" and meaningless people wandering around. You have to sit down with serious Islamic clerics and thinkers and dialogue
with them in a way they understand and respect.
(this article was posted to the UNMEDIA mailing list. You can browse and search the list archives without subscribing.). I know I reproduced the same text below in my Falsafat post but it's so important (and again relevant) that it was necessary.
Steven usually links to BBC and ABC News as his primary source of information about news and world events. Therefore it's not surprising that he perceives a raging silence. That silence is the media's journalistic ethos, though, not the moral clarity of the majority of the world's muslims.
In fact, the effort that Muslims would have to make in order to get media coverage to satisfy the opinion of Steven and others like him who rely exclusively on western media for information about the Islamic world, would be wasted. Positive coverage lasts only as long as the next tragedy. That energy would be better spent - and is being better spent - inwards.
And, silence is not consent. If it were, the date rapists (another species of Brute A) will have won. Sometimes, silence means, "no time for inane talk. Busy actually fixing the problem"
UPDATE: via the indispensable alt.muslim, an article in Sify News that mentions that the fatwa was condemned by much larger Muslim groups in Nigeria:
Zamfara's deputy governor Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi said late Monday in a speech to religious leaders in the Zamfara State capital Gusau which was rebroadcast on state radio, "Like Salman Rushdie, the blood of Isioma Daniel can be shed.
"It is binding on all Muslims wherever they are to consider the killing of the writer as a religious duty," he said.
But Lateef Adegbite, general secretary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria, distanced his influential body from the fatwa, refusing to immediately endorse it. He told AFP that the council would study the ruling, but would also take into account that Daniel is a Christian, does not live or work in Zamfara and that her paper had apologised.
By the way, the givernor of Zamfara state who issued the fatwa stated that "Islam prescribes the death penalty on anybody, no matter his faith, who insults the Prophet." This is wrong. He actually claimed a Qur'anic basis, which is a pure fabrication.
UPDATE 2: Tony Adragna has a related post, and is kind enough to mention this blog as an example of Islamic self-analysis. My actions are not new, they are just a tiny drop in a vast ocean.
Also, Steven has linked this entry as a response, and adds as commentary:
I do think he's making one mistake when he says, let me assure him and you that as a Muslim, I don't really CARE how Islam is perceived by non-Muslims. I care how Islam is perceived by Muslims. In ordinary times that would be a reasonable thing. But in time of war, when non-Muslim guns are aimed at those they think are dangerous, it should be important to Muslims whether they're perceived as being dangerous by those pointing the weapons.
Again, I respectfully disagree. If guns are going to be aimed, then the targeting is solely in the hands of the one holding the gun. All a muslim can do is be a good muslim, live a decent life, be a good example to his family and others, be a good citizen, etc. (this is the advice of Ali ibn Talib AS).
If, despite all this, then guns are pointed at the muslim regardless, then this is another burden of the world that the Muslim must accept. I don't go out of my way to make myself less of a target to the high-school jerks who harass my family as we drive to masjid for ramadan prayer. When my daughter grows up to adolescent awkward self-conscious age, she will no doubt want me to wear a shorter beard, stop wearing our religious dress in public, and to be less conspicous. I will firmly explain that the threat to us as muslims is greater from not being ourselves than it is from any idiot punk.
This is what is known as "not letting the terrorists win".
What non-muslims think is irrelevant. The worst they can do is kill me. Death is a release from this world (full of beauty though it is), and if my fate is sealed by my actions of being a good Muslim, I gain, not lose. I do not intend bravado, I intend submission.
UPDATE 3: Nigerian Muslim authorities have rejected the "fatwa".