City of Brass by Aziz Poonawalla

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8/29/2006

 

yes, we are

posted by Aziz P. at 8/29/2006 02:08:00 PM permalink View blog reactions
the WaPo has an essay claiming that American muslims are not as assimilated as one might think. However, the problem here is the definition of "assimilated". In the lead graf, the author concedes,

I found few signs of London-style radicalism among Muslims in the United States. At the same time, the real story of American Muslims is one of accelerating alienation from the mainstream of U.S. life, with Muslims in this country choosing their Islamic identity over their American one.


Emphasis mine, which I think rather undercuts the headline. We ARE as assimilated as you might think; we are not a radical community. The real complaint here seems to be the issue of Islamic "identity". I see no evidence in the article that muslim americans are "choosing" their Islamic identity "over" the American one; in fact if anything there is an ongoing synthesis of the two, which is really the entire point of America. The truth is that yes American muslims are religious, but so are Christians here by and large, more so than in Europe. Few would argue that Christian Americans are choosing Christian identity over their American identity, after all. Muslims in America do not have to be Irshad Manji-style "refuseniks" to be moderate; if anything the history of America teaches us that here (and almost exclusively here!) can the persecuted peoples of the world find sanctuary to practice their faith as they see fit. American muslims do not and should not have to be secular in order to be moderate.

The truth is that muslim americans are a different demographic and have a different history than their European counterparts. I discussed this issue at length in an earlier post titled "muslim citizens, not citizen muslims" and provided quite a few links therein that address this point. Also see publius' comments on the WaPo article above, in which he makes much of the same economic and class-based arguments.

However, the sense of alienation that Muslims feel is a very real thing. What do you expect when we have talk of muslim-only airport lines? For the most part American muslims have borne the increased scrutiny without complaint. We do as a community understand why we are being singled out - but that doesn't take the sting out of "flying while muslim" in any way. But is alienation and resentment equivalent to anti-assimilation? No, though they certainly could be the seeds for it in the long run. However I have great faith in America and I do not think this will come to pass.

The whole issue of identity is really not as critical as that of modernity. Its reconciling tradition with modernity that is tricky. We all have multiple identities and we rarely "choose" one over another, but the conflict between modernity and tradition is sometimes trickier to navigate. The way in which my own community (the Dawoodi Bohras) achieves this feat was nicely described by Jonah Blank in his book, Mullahs on the Mainframe, of which you can read an excerpt here and which I myself reviewed here.


Discussion

So, I'd like to think that's the direction we're headed. Here's my sheep/goat separating question, though:

Are American Muslims (or any Muslims) ready to renounce the apostasy doctrine they've embraced all this time?

I don't see how any acceptable form of assimilation can occur without that.

For the record, to this point, I've never found any clear statement from any Muslim about this.

 

(Sorry Aziz, this will be a little off topic)

Harry,

I have to say that I agree with you that this is amajor problem. How integrated can a population within the US be if they believe that freedom of religion is only a one way street? Do we want folks like that to be, for instance, elected to public office where they will be empowered to write laws?

Not one, not one, famous or prominent American muslim or muslim organization said a thing about Abdul Rahman. Where were the famous western converts like Ali? Where was CAIR? Did any of them defend the right of Rahman to be a Christian in his own country? Did any of them cite chapter and verse disproving the sentence of death for apostasy?

The silence was deafening and until I see prominent, activist, muslim public figures denouncing the practice which is absolutely contrary and incompatible with the deepest beliefs of our nation, I will remain unconvinced as to their integration here.

 

I welcome new readers but really I am not inclined to rehash things I've said numerous times. I've heard it all before. muslims do not condemn terror. (they do). The Qur'an calls jews apes and pigs. (it doesn't). Islam is anti-free will. (it's not). Islam was forced upon people at the point of a sword. (it wasn't - context). The Qur'an calls for violent jihad against unbelievers. (it doesn't - quite the opposite). Jews suffered immensely under muslim rule. (they didn't - as related by jewish sources). Islam needs a Reformation. (it already has one).

thats just a sampler. I really hope that new readers will give me some benefit of the doubt here - and also pay me some basic courtesy here in my bloghome - by taking the time to read the links I've compiled for you above, so that we can move the discussion forward rather than get bogged down on (truth be told) very old talking points.

 

I felt the same way you did, Aziz, when I read the article. For the most part, what I read was an accurate representation of most of the Muslims I met when I was still in college. They did not wish to be seperate from other Americans, just have an additional identity within the American identity (as many Christian groups have).

The danger is not when Muslim youth decide to say their prayers and wear a head covering (which, the article says, is becoming more common in the US). The danger is when they decide to blow up buildings (which the article admitted is not at all common in the US). I think it was interesting that the article noted that Muslim economic activity in the US is well integrated, with a higher average income than the US average. This is in direct contradiction with the condition of Muslims in other countries and seems to indicate that Muslims are more integrated into one of the most important aspects of American society.

 

For God's sake, I get really tired of this "the silence is deafening" stuff when anyone who spends a moderate amount of time reading muslim blogs or looking at statements from moderate muslim groups knows damn well they weren't silent.

How do I know? I just now took five minutes out and did an internet search on "muslim apostate." I found this article and this one immediately. I wasn't even trying hard.

Harry, get your head out of Little Green Footballs and Jihadwatch please, and try actually looking around and talking to some actual muslims. Yeesh.

 

I thought the same thing when I saw the article about British Muslims "choosing" their Muslim identity over their "British identity. As an American and a Christian, if I were asked which came first, I'd say "Christian." The only people that might surprise are those who have no religious identity to choose from. Which, unfortunately, is pretty much true of a lot of non-Muslim western Europeans.

 

I think young Muslims face some barriers to integration that other groups may not. While taking a class at my local community college, I befriended a young Muslim man who recently immigrated to the US from Tunisia. I sensed that he wanted to participate in our culture, but found that many of the entertainment activities that young Americans engage in were incompatible with his religious convictions, and as a result tended to socialize with other Muslims exclusively. I can relate to this social isolation myself since I gave up drinking alcohol and all of the related activities in my early 20’s.

Another thing I wonder about, living as I do in San Francisco, is the effect of the anti-US rhetoric that predominates much of the left-of-left-of-center ideology that is common here and in certain academic and “intellectual” circles. I think the crisis of confidence that the US and the West in general is experiencing is creating an environment that makes assimilation much less appealing to immigrants from other cultures.

 

I took your advice and read your review of Jonah Blank's book, Mullahs on the Mainframe.

I suppose I should be comforted to learn that Islam has it's own branch of liberal presbyterian-types, such as yourself. But I'm not convinced that your version of the religion is ascendent, or is ever likely to be.

My advice is that you accommodate "The West" by giving up on a sinking-ship of a religion that will drag your obviously enlightened heart down with it as it descends to the darkness of its core doctrines. You remind me of the Marxist apologists of the last generation that persisted in claiming that communism was a great and noble ideology, that had been unfortunately perverted by the backward Russians.

You still need to answer Harry Eager's question and not patronise your readers by suggesting that they read more of your stuff. What is a non-Muslim to make of the constant reiteration by Muslim clerics that it is not possible to leave the faith? "This is not man's will, but Allah's," we are told. This is not compatable with a marketplace approach to human ideas and culture. You can't proclaim Islam is a liberal religion when in the background a murderous ideology relies on coercion to maintain the faith.

Having said that, I still wish you well in trying to pacify your co-religionists. A bit less on convincing non-Muslims how nice Islam is, and a bit more on what is specifically problematic with aspects of Islamic thought and democratic culture - that would be refreshing, and brave, for a Muslim to write about.

 

On the one hand, I've met enough muslims to agree with you.

On the other, two years ago, literally soaked to the skin in the freezing winter rain, I could literally not get a muslim woman to acknowledge me long enough to tell me if she knew where an ATM was so I could buy a train ticket and maybe not freeze to death. And although this sounds odd when I type it myself now, the context was perfectly clear at the time.

Other times I have had perfectly normal interactions with both men and women.

I'm not talking about some random mufsidun in one of the world's dark kingdoms, but everyday life. It is part of my culture to offer courtesies to women. Do I hold back and not open a door for a woman because she is a muslim and (as I have experienced) likely to be offended at the attention? How am I supposed to regard Muslims as integrated, if I must always be on eggshells not to cause meaningless offense?

 

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

Personally I think Christians can learn from the Muslims who take a critical stance toward assimilation with American culture. After all, if American Christians are going to critique our country (which we have been doing for a long time, from various points of view), we ought not at the same time consider unquestioned acceptance of all its ways a virtue. My comments on Abdo's piece are at http://sequimur.com/banditsnomore/?p=487

 

I was talking with a Pakistani friend who is an assimilated and non-religious Muslim. He was talking about growing up in Pakistan. He mentioned the amusing factoid that he wasn't able to see Porky Pig growing up because Porky was blurred out when shown on Pakistani TV. Kind of funny. Being Jewish I thought that was very extreme to find even the image of a pig anathema. He then was talking about how the Pakistani version of a fake ID for underage drinking was a Non-Muslim card. My fiancée laughed and said "so you have to get a card saying you are a Christian or a Jew?" He looked uncomfortable and said, "Not a Jew ... no, they'd kill you".

My friend is a good guy. Married an Asian Buddhist girl who faux converted for his parents. He uses the rationalization that Islam is a young religion to explain the intolerance that besets Islam. I think claiming youth is a cop out but wouldn't say that to him.

He said more moderate versions of Islam don't exist as an organized thing. I said that is a shame as it forces a Muslim to choose between devout practice and living a modern western life - it is a tough choice. He said Muslims do as they like in terms of drink and sex and other things but that if someone tried to officially create a "reform" style Islam they'd be killed. It was unclear if he meant here in the west or just in Pakistan although I suspect it wouldn't be easy even here in the USA.

A Palestinian couple I was good friends with when I lived in Philadelphia who were pretty western (although it was an arranged marriage - boy did he luck out compared to her I don't think he could have gotten her in a free choice situation - lol) engaged in an odd relationship with their religion. They didn't tell me that Islam didn't promote this or that idea that couldn't be squared with enlightenment values - they all said that the Mosque was irrelevant to their politics or morals. That it was more about community than ethics, morals or politics.

 

Good Stuff and nice to see. I followed the link to the Apostasy article and an an analysis via the Qur'an. I've bookmarked this site and will study your arguments in greater detail later. Still, this is a start. Best Wishes, Traveller

 

Regarding "apostasy" and those of you calling on the writer to renounce this doctrine, there seems to be the assumption that the inability to leave one's faith is a Muslim, or particularly Muslim, idea. It is not. As a Jew who grew up attending a Conservative Movement Jewish school, I can say that a similar concept was imparted to me: you can't "convert" away from Judaism. Even if you did convert, you were still a Jew. This idea wasn't "taught" so much as casually brought up in other contexts, such as discussing Bob Dylan or the Jews for Jesus movement and its recruiting efforts in the Jewish community.

At that time, this example of defining Judaism up seemed less sinister than the racialist arguments of those attempting to define Judaism down (this was during the 1980s Russian Jewish exodus, and arguments about "who's a Jew" as regards the right of return and civil rights in Israel).

So it's not the apostasy (stupid). Demanding that Aziz present examples of Muslim renunciation of this "doctrine" is silly and insulting. The matter is, however, about what happens to the apostates. If you start reading about Muslim to Christian converts in America being executed or otherwise tormented, you might rightfully seek Muslim condemnation of that, and I believe and hope that you'd get it.

 

Well - that Fox news reporter could speak to the forced conversion thing. He should proclaim his faith in Christ, or Adonai, or Buddha or whatever his actual religion is at some American mosque to cheering American Muslims. That would get some headlines. I'd love to see it. Although I suspect he has better things to do immediately like see his family.

Are American Muslims just inept at PR in terms of staging something like I suggest above or is there really a filter on the media? The fact that most Muslims condemn terrorism isn't enough in a political and ideological fight. It doesn't take a genius to realize that one needs to do things to command media attention if you actually want to have an effect. I wish the moderate Muslims in America were more politically astute if that is the problem.

 

I should have said apostacy instead of terrorism in the post above. Sorry. Although my point is transferable. I wonder if the media is filtering moderate muslim messages or if moderate muslims arent working the system to get their message out there. MSM is pretty lazy and looking for cheap thrills - if you want to get on the news you have to stage events that command attention. If you don't you should expect to be ignored.

 

I find the concept that it's frightening to choose religion over country kind of bizarre, given that the United States was founded by those who left their home countries because those countries wouldn't let them worship as they chose. If that's not choosing religion over country, I'm not quite sure what would be.

It appears to me that we shouldn't set up the issue as "country" vs "religion", but rather "killing to meet a goal is okay" vs "killing to meet a goal is not okay" - regardless of whether religion is in the mix. Some non-religious types are very sanguine about hurting people in the process of meeting their goals - radical environmentalists for one. And you have the problem of failing to denounce such behavior in secular contexts too - some environmentalists, to continue that analogy, hesitate to decry the more violent arms of their movement. You have the whole gamut of behavior and acceptance in both religious and non-religious contexts, cutting across race, country and culture. Religion as a whole only frightens those who don't understand it.

As a Christian, I can say unequivocally that I choose God and my service to Him over my country. It's not even a contest. BUT! The Bible teaches me to respect the leaders of my country, to pay my taxes, to obey the laws as long as they don't contradict His laws, etc. My Christianity is a blueprint for good citizenship. And the more devoted I am to God, the more likely I am going to be careful about being a good citizen. While I (obviously) have major theological differences with Muslims, I'm not at all distressed or frightened to learn that many Muslims are becoming more devoted or that they would choose Islam over America. The problem isn't level of devotion. The problem is the teaching of hate and the tolerance for violent behavior, which is not exclusive to radicalized segments of Islam.

We as a country should make it clear that violence toward our citizens will absolutely not be tolerated from any person, group or country, regardless of their reason, and no one can hide behind theology, belief systems or rhetoric that to their mind makes it okay. But we shouldn't put devotion to country in opposition to devotion to God.

 

Poll: Americans Back Profiling

It’s taken five years, but the US public is beginning to rebel against the pointless random security measures forced down its throat by special interest groups: Americans back anti-terrorism racial profiling: poll.

BOSTON (Reuters) - Most Americans expect a terrorist attack on the United States in the next few months and support the screening of people who look “Middle Eastern” at airports and train stations, a poll showed on Tuesday.

The Quinnipiac University Polling Institute said 62 percent of Americans were “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that terrorists would strike the nation in the next few months while 37 percent were “not too worried” or “not worried at all.”

The poll of 1,080 voters, conducted August 17-23, comes as many Americans are jittery after British authorities foiled a plot to blow up planes but is broadly in line with other surveys on expectations for another attack since September 11.

By a 60 percent to 37 percent margin, respondents said authorities should single out people who look “Middle Eastern” for security screening at locations such as airports and train stations — a finding that drew sharp criticism by civil liberties groups.


As with any story even remotely related to profiling, Reuters makes sure to call the PR flack for CAIR to get the Islamist point of view.

“It’s an unfortunate by-product to the fear and hysteria we’re hearing in many quarters,” said Ibrahim Hooper, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy organization.

“It’s one of those things that makes people think they are doing something to protect themselves when they’re not. They’re in fact producing more insecurity by alienating the very people whose help is necessary in the war on terrorism,” he said.


Belittle the threat from terrorism: check.

Issue veiled threat: check.

 

The author of the WaPo article mentions Dearborn. I've lived in Dearborn 20+ years, went to High school and have worked with Arabs.

In school and up into the mid 90's, the Middle Eastern residents of Dearborn were overwhelmingly Arab Christian or Chaldean. They were assimilations par excellence, if a little insular.

But that has changed since the first Gulf War, and Dearborn has had a large influx of Muslim immigrants. Without question, their attitudes are different. I disagree with Aziz on this point. Dearborn Muslims are not very well integrated and this is of their own choosing. I also find it odd that Aziz speaks for *all* 6 million Muslims. That's impressive.

Assimilation has, imo, very little to do with being 'radical'(whatever that means). Its has much more to do with how you adopt the cultural memes of the country you call home.

I read an article the other day where a Turkish woman was quoted as being puzzled by the apparent inability of European authorities to identify the radicals in their midst. She simply said, 'See what they are wearing.'

 

It's my understanding that because Sharia conflicts with the American law of separation of Church and State that Muslims must choose one identity over another.

Either you are for Sharia, which makes you against democracy, freedom of religion, and secular government, or you are for the First Amendment, which forbids anything like Sharia.

Am I missing something?

 

Aziz, I hope your thesis is correct.

Otherwise, the Western world is s-c-r-e-w-e-d.

 

Susanna in Alabama and Laika's Last Woof have posts that taken together are instructive. Susanna says "The Bible teaches me to respect the leaders of my country, to pay my taxes, to obey the laws as long as they don't contradict His laws, etc. My Christianity is a blueprint for good citizenship."

Laika says "It's my understanding that because Sharia conflicts with the American law of separation of Church and State that Muslims must choose one identity over another."

Any Christian who thinks His laws make a perfect blueprint for secular American citizenship is my kind of Christian. Same for any Muslim or Jew who feels that way. They're also a bunch of hypocrites, in the best sense. Long live that brand of hypocrisy.

 

Time will tell. I think Abdo and the WaPo are right - and it will get worse.

The fact is that the problem is Islam. The problem is the anger and violence in the Quran and in the life of Islam's prophet - you cannot be against terror and for Mohammed. Think about that. Deny it, pretend it is not there, make excuses, whatever...

You cannot be for freedom and equality AND Islam. The so-called 'moderate' Muslims will always lose to the radicals, because their arguements are stronger. Both Americans and Muslims are sadly mistaken if they think that Islam, democracy and freedom can exist side by side. Muslims who want to believe in a peaceful, benevolent Islam are blind to reality. Look at Islamic societies, if you will. Ask questions. Think.

So Muslims feel alienated? So the problem is airport lines? It is always somebody elses fault, isn't it? Perhaps Muslims have not noticed, but all of us have to wait and endure stupid airport lines - and it isn't because of people named Lee, Wong, Joe or Shikorski or Lopez either. All of us suffer because of a few bad apples - Muslim apples - often named Mohammed. And they still can't figure it out. Why does violence come so easily to Islam?

No, Muslims are not silent, but they are not honest either. Most probably just can't figure it out. I have talked to them and it is sad. Words mean nothing except what they want them to mean. When asked to explain certain verses in the Quran, they go off in a tangent. When asked about vile actions of their prophet you get "You don't understand" "That was then" "bad translation" "out of context" and so on.

People will find out the truth about Islam the hard way. It will get worse.

John Kactuz

 

In the excerpt you linked to, the author was commenting on what perceptions Fay Weldon would have likely come away with had she actually read the Qu'ran. (sic) Which version are we to read exactly? Are there not many that have entirely different translations than what is available in English?

 

OK. This is interesting. Say more.

I am no more disturbed by Muslim fanaticism than I am by Christian (Jewish/Buddhist/Hindu) fanaticm. It's all of a piece, racist and intolerent. I don't like fanaticism of any type. People get killed. Kids get killed. If you kill my kids you won't like what happens after that.

America is not about racism or intolerence. Like the sign says, "Love It Or Leave It".

Charlie

 

Aziz,

Your links did not address the apostacy issue or the common punishments for the "crime" Banishment, loss of income, loss of family are all just as bad for the normal person and just as much against free choice (not free will) and the free exercise of conscience for muslims wishing to change their religion.

The very existence of any punishment or any pressure applied to the apostate to recant their conversion to another faith completely contradicts the no compulsion verse and this contradictory compulsion comes from the teachings of islams holiest sources.

Yes, i am a new reader but i am by no means a stranger to the arguments of liberal and progressive muslims. I am as unconvinced by the arguments of moderate muslims as I am of extremist ones. Islam is in many ways fundamentally flawed and inimical to true freedom and liberty and morality. That is not to say that it is wholly wrong. Are you picking up on that? I am saying that it has fatal flaws which attest to ita lack of divinity.

 

Dean,

If you had also read my comments carefully you would have seen that I made specific reference to famous, prominent, public figures and national groups. Please note that I did not include ordinary individuals.

The silience I speak of was the absence of the use of moral authority and global celebrity among muslims by famous muslims. There were no muslims flying to Rahman's side, spending their celebrity capital in a very visibly way to save the man's life and to declare that it is/was wrong to require the man to flee his own country.

There were no famous muslim mugs standing by the man. That to me is a very telling thing.

 

PS

BTW, since I may come here now and then, just know that I first learned about islam from muslims themselves. Most of my education in islam was from muslims prior to 9/11. I dont get all my info from places like jihad watch.

Dean, you could possibly avoid the over generalizations regarding someone like myself if you want to start preaching.

 

Of course, for me personally, it was the Fatwa against Salma Rusdie that I would have gone to war with Iran and the entire Islamic world over.

Freedom of Conscience is the sine qua non of every living human being. To put a bounty on a man's head, to call for his murder, to force him into hiding for 10 years, to burn book stores that dare carry the Satanic Verses...well I've been angry about that ever since.

And there were no Muslim's standing up for Rusdie's freedom to write, either.

It is to be noted that the Fatwa was re-affirmed in 2005 by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

There are things like this that just must be opposed body and soul by every thinking Muslim.

In my humble opinion...lol

Best Wishes, Traveller

 

Who`s God is this ?

Is it Christian?
Is it Budhist?
Is it Hindu?
or None of the above?

I am a good god,, today i instruct my prophet to go kill 900 men Jews,, then my prophet and his followers take everything the men Jews own including the women,,,if you want to join my religion you can but if you want to leave i get my prophet and his followers to kill you,, If you think i am bad god just shut yer mouth or i kill you,,,,i make a law to keep yer gobs shut,,

If anybody thinks this maybe the (good)god of your religion ,,i would advice you seek help as soon as possible you have obviously been misguided in your up bringing ,,or lied to,, nobody goes to heaven for murder,, including prophets,,,

 

It's awful hard to cut through the grievance narrative in the WaPo piece to find out what's really going on.

Take the language selected by the writer:

"But the Sept. 11 attacks also had the (dual) effect of making American Muslims feel isolated in their adopted country . . ."

"American Muslims are becoming a people apart."

"Almost without exception, they recall feeling under siege after Sept. 11, with FBI agents raiding their mosques and homes, neighbors eyeing them suspiciously and television programs portraying Muslims as the new enemies of the West."

Really? This 'recollection' (read: rewritten history) doesn't seem to square with the fact that the 'anti-Muslim backlash' was, like the 'brutal Afghan winter,' a media-constructed bogeyman.

On the contrary, any attempt to talk frankly about the source of terrorism led quickly to charges that an entire religion was being tarred.

"But not everyone understood . . ."

Go talk to evangelical or fundamentalist Christians about the way they are "understood" by popular culture and the media.

". . . described the challenges many Muslims face as they carve out their identity in the United States . . ."

As if this were a completely new phenomenon, never faced by other Americans.

". . . Muslims who dared to show pride in their religion in a non-Muslim setting."

No specifics about when or where this was ever discouraged. Again, talk to those offended by the forced removal of their religious identity from public life.

"I don't think Muslims have to assimilate. We are not treated like Americans."

As pure a distillation of the effect of the grievance culture as you're likely to find. No thanks to the media's parroting of CAIR's victimology.

And how, specifically, is this woman not treated like an American? No proof beyond her sense of alienation is offered.

"At work, I get up from my desk and go to pray. I thought I would face opposition from my boss. Even before I realized he didn't mind, I thought, 'I have a right to be a Muslim, and I don't have to assimilate.' "

This is a metaphor for the entire article, in that the presumed grievance was nothing of the kind.

 

Peggy,

Within the Islamic world, and in MENA primarily, apostasy could have severe consequences and regularly does, however outside of MENA, in the West, South Asia, and even the Islamic island nations in southeast Asia, apostasy does not carry the same weight as it does in MENA. That's not to say that horrible things don't happen and that death threats aren't issued, it's just not nearly as common, even in countries with large Islamic minority populations. The reasons for this could be legal (ie, worried about the consequences that may happen if an apostate is attacked) or environmental (increased levels of religious tolerance / lack of massive peer pressure in an ultra-Islamic area) in nature. I'm not sure which of the two that is.

Whether Islam was forced at the point of the sword is a matter of geography... in some areas, it was, especially in MENA during the great Islamic military expansion after the death of Muhammed; in other areas it was spread primarily via Islamic traders evangelizing. I would say the majority of Muslims today, if their religious family histories were traced back far enough, would far under the latter (most Muslims are located not in MENA, but in South and Southeast Asia).

But then, I'm not a Muslim, so apparently, according to Aziz, I am not allowed to comment on Islamic matters... only Muslims know the truth and unless I convert I know nothing and am irrelevant.

Jez,

I guess you have never read the Old Testament? Pretty brutal stuff in there, too, just nobody follows it anymore, except for a stray Kahanist here and there.

Heck, just look at what happened to the Amalekites. Not that they didn't deserve it, but still, you're being a bit ignorant here...

 

As far as the treatment of Jews under Islam is concerned, Aziz is EXTREMELY selective in his choice of links, since that link uses only ONE source for all of their statements. Of course, he tries to justify it because the authors are Jewish, but that's akin to saying that Susan Sontag is right about white people being "the cancer of human history" because she, as a white person, said it. It's totally bogus. There are books out there, I kid you not, that claim that Jews were not mistreated by Hitler. It's bogus, of course; you can't go around selectively quoting just the stuff you want to hear.

I think, in general, treatment of the Jews in Islamic countries was no worse than the treatment of Jews in Christian Europe at the time... sometimes they had it pretty good, other times they were getting expelled and brutalized in pogroms. In medieval Europe, I don't think there was ever a kingdom or state of some sort that didn't expel the Jews or mistreat them at least once. Jews only became protected by the states once they discovered their usefulness, ie, as traders, scholars, and bankers. Christians were not allowed to practice usury back then... Jews were, which gave them vast assets from which to give Christian rulers loans to extend their power. Even once the usefulness of Jews to these states was discovered, it still didn't end anti-Semitism and the pogroms (especially in East Europe and Russia).

I HATE to say this, but I think the hardcore anti-Semitism that we see in the Middle East today can be partly traced back to the founding of Israel; this DOES NOT justify it, but it does give context.

So, I somewhat reject claims that Jews were treated any better or worse in Islamic countries back in the day than in Christian countries... I think, generally, that Jews were not liked at all for almost all of their existence. Unfortunate, yes... although I will say that TODAY, Jews are much better off and safer in Western countries than in Islamic ones. No question about that fact.

 

Well, we'll see now whether the very tolerant A.P. will delete this post like my last one.

Dean, thank you for my laugh of the week. I followed your link which was going to show that killing apostates is not Islamic practice, and what it said was that the apostate survived BECAUSE HE LIVED IN INDIA.

Had he lived in any country where Islam controls the civil power, he would have been murdered.

Keep trying, guys. I'd LIKE to find a Muslim who frankly condemns murder for apostasy.

 

Salaam,

You summed up my sentiments after reading the article very neatly.

I wrote to the WaPo article author referring her to your entry & she replied:

"Thank you for writing. This is the subject for a long conversation. But I will say briefly that I was very disappointed with the headline and the Post did simplify my article. My book takes a different approach and the argument presented there is one I think you would agree with. I urge you to read it.

Peace,
Geneive Abdo"

Her book is Mecca & Main street

It troubles me that journalists may be selectively hearing what Muslim communities have to say and that that is further filtered to fit into what the majority of Americans believe by the editorial process.

I hope you sent your entry in to WaPo as a letter to the editor?

Warmly,
Baraka

 

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Mullahs on the Mainframe

About City of Brass

City of Brass was originally launched in March 2002 under the name UNMEDIA. The blog focuses on issues related to muslims in the West. The primary author is Aziz Poonawalla, a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS). Also see the technical blog, entitled Khidmat is not a zero-sum game, detailing the open-source infrastructure behind our community web portal, mumineen.org.