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Psychology and Sociology of Religious Fanaticism

A Five Part Series

Part III

 

What is Jihad?

The Arabic word “jihad” is often translated as “holy war,” but in a purely linguistic sense, the word “jihadmeans struggling or striving. The Arabic word for war is: “al-harb.” In a religious sense, as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, “jihad” has many meanings.

In the Muslim world as well the non-Muslim world, human behavior can, and often is, based on a mixture of motives. In turn, different motives can and do lead to differences of opinion that account for differences in value judgments about a particular set of religious scriptures.

Scriptures and their meanings in the Holy Bible have also produced a plethora of differing groups espousing different interpretations of what the bible means. If there was unanimity of opinion in Christianity, there wouldn’t be so many divisions (Catholics and the multiple factions found among Protestants). It should not be surprising then that Judaism also has four major factions from the most conservative to the most progressive, including those who are ethnically Jewish but non-religious atheists.

Today, with all the violence, the religious ideology and concept of Jihad is foremost in the spotlight of worldwide attention. Consequently, what follows is a presentation of assessment of opinion as to what Jihad “really” means and also how the Quran and its followers are viewed under the microscope of world opinion.  First up to bat are the moderates.

 

The Voice of Moderation

Top 10 Myths about Islam

By Huda

Islam Expert

Huda is a Muslim educator and writer with over two decades of experience researching and writing about Islam on the Internet. An American woman of European descent, she has been a Muslim for 25 years.

Experience

Huda is an educator, freelance writer and editor. She is the author of The Everything Understanding Islam Book, originally published in 2003, with a 2nd Edition in 2009. She currently teaches elementary school in the Middle East.

“Islam is a widely-misunderstood religion. Those who are unfamiliar with the faith often have misunderstandings about its teachings and practices. Common misconceptions include that Muslims worship a moon-god, that Islam is oppressive against women, or that Islam is a faith that promotes violence. Here we bust these myths and expose the true teachings of Islam.”

1.  Muslims worship a moon-god

“Some non-Muslims mistakenly believe that Allah is an “Arab god,” a “moon god,” or some sort of idol. Allah is the proper name of the One True God, in the Arabic language. The most fundamental belief that a Muslim has is that “There is only One God,” the Creator, the Sustainer — known in the Arabic language and by Muslims as Allah. Arabic-speaking Christians use the same word for the Almighty.”

2.  Muslims don’t believe in Jesus

“In the Qur’an, stories about the life and teachings of Jesus Christ (called ‘Isa in Arabic) are abundant. The Qur’an recalls his miraculous birth, his teachings, and the miracles he performed by God’s permission. There is even a chapter of the Qur’an named after his mother, Mary (Miriam in Arabic). However, Muslims believe that Jesus was a fully human prophet and not in any way divine himself.”

3.  Most Muslims are Arabs

“While Islam is often associated with Arabs, they make up only 15% of the world’s Muslim population. The country with the largest population of Muslims is Indonesia. Muslims make up 1/5 of the world’s population, with large numbers found in Asia (69%), Africa (27%), Europe (3%) and other parts of the world.”

4.  Islam oppresses women

“Most of the ill-treatment that women receive in the Muslim world is based on local culture and traditions, without any basis in the faith of Islam. In fact, practices such as forced marriage, spousal abuse, and restricted movement directly contradict Islamic law governing family behavior and personal freedom.”

5.  Muslims are violent, terrorist extremists

“Terrorism cannot be justified under any valid interpretation of the Islamic faith. The entire Qur’an, taken as a complete text, gives a message of hope, faith, and peace to a faith community of one billion people. The overwhelming message is that peace is to be found through faith in God, and justice among fellow human beings. Muslim leaders and scholars do speak out against terrorism in all its forms, and offer explanations of misinterpreted or twisted teachings.”

6.  Islam is intolerant of other faiths

“Throughout the Qur’an, Muslims are reminded that they are not the only ones who worship God. Jews and Christians are called “People of the Book,” meaning people who have received previous revelations from the One Almighty God that we all worship. The Qur’an also commands Muslims to protect from harm not only mosques, but also monasteries, synagogues, and churches — because “God is worshipped therein.”

7.  Islam promotes “jihad” to spread Islam by the sword and kill all unbelievers

“The word Jihad stems from an Arabic word which means “to strive.” Other related words include “effort,” “labor,” and “fatigue.” Essentially Jihad is an effort to practice religion in the face of oppression and persecution. The effort may come in fighting the evil in your own heart, or in standing up to a dictator. Military effort is included as an option, but as a last resort and not “to spread Islam by the sword.”

8.  The Quran was written by Muhammad and copied from Christian and Jewish sources

“The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a period of two decades, calling people to worship One Almighty God and to live their lives according to this faith. The Qur’an contains stories of Biblical prophets, because these prophets also preached the message of God. Stories are not merely copied, but the oral traditions are referred to in a way that focuses on the examples and teachings that we can learn from them.”

9.  Islamic prayer is just a ritualized performance with no heartfelt meaning

“Prayer is a time to stand before God and express faith, give thanks for blessings, and seek guidance and forgiveness. During Islamic prayer, one is modest, submissive and respectful to God. By bowing and prostrating ourselves to the ground, we express our utmost humility before the Almighty.”

10.  The crescent moon is a universal symbol of Islam

“The early Muslim community did not really have a symbol. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, Islamic caravans and armies flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes. The crescent moon and star symbol actually pre-dates Islam by several thousand years, and wasn’t affiliated with Islam at all until the Ottoman Empire placed it on their flag.”

Muslim Scholars to ISIS: You Have Misinterpreted Islam

By Amelia Rosch—Posted on (September 25, 2014)

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Following President Obama’s declaration at the United Nations yesterday  “the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam. Islam teaches peace.” Over 120 international Muslim scholars released a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). Within the letter, they call ISIS un-Islamic and argue that the group is incorrectly using scripture to support its cause.

The letter said that the group’s claim to a caliphate is illegitimate, arguing that their “attitude is based upon a corrupt circular logic that says: ‘Only we are Muslims, and we decide who the caliph is, we have chosen one and so whoever does not accept our caliph is not a Muslim.’”  The scholars argue in the letter that it “is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims” and that ISIS is “a group of no more than several thousand [that] has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion and a half Muslims.” The scholars also say that ISIS’s claims to jihad are also illegitimate, arguing that they “have killed many innocents who were neither combatants nor armed, just because they disagree with your opinion. There is no such thing as offensive, aggressive jihad just because people have different religions or opinions.”

In the letter which has been released online in both Arabic and English, the scholars outline 24 practices that ISIS has been carrying out that the authors say are forbidden by Islamic scripture, including denying women and children their rights, torturing people and killing “emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats” including aid workers and journalists.

The scholars quote from Islamic scriptures which promise rights to both women and children and lay out the way that ISIS has broken those promises, saying “you treat women like detainees and prisoners…” and by torturing and executing children who “are so young they are not even morally accountable.” The scholars say that ISIS’s practice of enslaving women also breaks a century-long Islamic prohibition on slavery. They argue that mass killings and decapitation, both of which ISIS have been documented doing, are both forbidden under Shari’ah, Islamic law. They also say that journalists are “emissaries of truth” and aid workers “emissaries of mercy and kindness” and that killing them goes against the rule saying not to kill emissaries.

Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said that the letter purposefully used the “heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” in order to offer a point-by-point argument to the group’s claims. He said that the goal of the letter was to reach out to the Muslim community, not a Western audience.

The letters’ authors included leading Islamic scholars, including several of whom are Egyptian, members of the United Arab Emirates, and Nigeria’s fatwa councils, and the muftis from Egypt and Jerusalem.

The group of scholars joins many other Muslims speaking out against the Islamic State. Last week, German Muslims held a national day of prayer to “make clear terrorists and criminals do not speak in the name of Islam…and that murderers and criminals have no place in our ranks, in our religion,” according to the head of the Central Council of Muslims, Aiman Mazyek. In England, British Muslims have been using the hashtag #NotInMyName to call out ISIS and distance Islam from the group.

In addition to Obama, other world leaders have made a distinction between Islam and ISIS; in a speech last week, David Cameron said that members of ISIS “are not Muslims, they are monsters,” while France’s foreign minister said that “they are not representative of Muslims.”

The Voice of Criticism

In this segment of Part III I will report on material opposed to Islam and whose criticisms will resonate with many in Cyber-land. These criticisms pertain not to just ISIS inspired violence, but also to the very foundation of Islam itself—the very scriptures found in the Quran.

Due to space limitations in Blog writing, I’ve limited the material to the first five statements found at the site. I recommend interested individuals go to their site and read other evaluative statements. The site can be found at TheReligionofPeace.com Home Page.

     The previous section presented the opinions of moderates; this section looks at the criticisms. It is up to the reader to decide where the truth lies.  

The Myths of Islam

“Muslims often complain of popular ‘misconceptions’ about their religion in the West.

We took a hard look, however, and found that the most prevalent myths of Islam are the ones held by Muslims and Western apologists.  The only glaring exception to this is the misconception that all Muslims are alike (they aren’t, of course), but even Muslims often believe this as well, as evidenced by the various contrary factions insisting that they are the  true Muslims, while those who disagree with them are either infidels, hijackers, or hypocrites.

Don’t be fooled!  Hear the myths, but know the truth.”

Islam Means ‘Peace’

Islam respects Women as Equals

Jihad Means ‘Inner Struggle’

Islam is a Religion of Peace

Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions

 

 

[Islam Means Peace]

The Myth:

Lesser educated Muslims sometimes claim that the root word of Islam is “al-Salaam,” which is “peace” in Arabic.

The Truth:

An Arabic word only has one root.  The root word for Islam is “al-Silm,” which means “submission” or “surrender.”  There is no disagreement about this among Islamic scholars. al-Silm  (submission) does not mean the same thing as al-Salaam (peace), otherwise they would be the same word.

Submission and peace can be very different concepts, even if a form of peace is often brought about through forcing others into submission.  As the modern-day Islamic scholar, Ibrahim Sulaiman puts it, “Jihad is not inhumane, despite its necessary violence and bloodshed, its ultimate desire is peace which is protected and enhanced by the rule of law.”

In truth, the Quran not only calls Muslims to submit to Allah, it also commands them to subdue people of other religions until they are in a full state of submission to Islamic rule.  This has inspired the aggressive history of Islam and its success in conquering other cultures.

[Islam Respects Women as Equals]

The Myth:

The Quran places men and women on equal foundation before Allah. Each person is judged according to his or her own deeds. Women have equal rights under Islamic law.

The Truth:

Merely stating that individuals will be judged as such by Allah does not mean that they have equal rights and roles, or that they are judged by the same standards.

There is no ambiguity in the Quran, the life of Muhammad, or Islamic law as to the inferiority of women to men despite the efforts of modern-day apologists to salvage Western-style feminism from scraps and fragments of verses that have historically held no such progressive interpretation.

After military conquests, Muhammad would dole out captured women as war prizes to his men.  In at least one case, he advocated that they be raped in front of their husbands.  Captured women were made into sex slaves by the very men who killed their husbands and brothers.  There are four Quranic verses in which “Allah” makes clear that a Muslim master has full sexual access to his female slaves, yet there is not one that prohibits rape.

The Quran gives Muslim men permission to beat their wives for disobedience, but nowhere does it command love in marriage.  It plainly says that husbands are “a degree above” wives.  The Hadith says that women are intellectually inferior, and that they comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants.

Under Islamic law, a man may divorce his wife at his choosing.  If he does this twice, then wishes to remarry her, she must first have sex with another man.  Men are exempt from such degradations.

Muslim women are not free to marry whom they please, as are Muslim men.  Their husband may also bring other wives (and slaves) into the marriage bed.  And she must be sexually available to him at any time (as a field ready to be “tilled,” according to the holy book of Islam).

Muslim women do not inherit property in equal portion to males.  This is somewhat ironic given that Islam owes its existence to the wealth of Muhammad’s first wife, which would not otherwise have been inherited by her given that she had two brothers and her first husband had three sons.

A woman’s testimony in court is considered to be worth only half that of a man’s, according to the Quran.  Unlike a man, she must also cover her head – and often her face.

If a woman wants to prove that she was raped, then there must be four male witnesses to corroborate her account.  Otherwise she can be jailed or stoned to death for confessing to “adultery.”

Given all of this, it is quite a stretch to say that men and women have “equality under Islam” based on obscure theological analogies or comparisons.  This is an entirely new ploy that is designed for modern tastes, and disagrees sharply with the reality of Islamic law and history.

[Jihad Means ‘Inner struggle’]

The Myth:

Islam’s Western apologists sometimes claim that since the Arabic word, Jihad, literally means “fight” or “struggle,” it refers to an “inner struggle” rather than holy war.

The Truth:

In Arabic, “jihad” means struggle.  In Islam, it means holy war.

The Quran specifically exempts the disabled and elderly from Jihad (4:95), which would make no sense if the word is being used merely within the context of spiritual struggle.  It is also unclear why Muhammad and his Quran would use graphic language, such as smiting fingers and heads from the hands and necks of unbelievers if he were speaking merely of character development.

With this in mind, Muslim apologists generally admit that there are two meanings to the word, but insist that “inner struggle” is the “greater Jihad,” whereas “holy war” is the “lesser.”  In fact, this misconception is based only on a single hadith that Islamic scholars generally agreed was fabricated.

By contrast, the most reliable of all Hadith collections is that of Bukhari.  Jihad is mentioned over 200 times in reference to the words of Muhammad and each one carries a clear connotation to holy war, with only a handful of possible exceptions (dealing with a woman’s supporting role during a time of holy war).

[Islam is a Religion of Peace]

The Myth:

Muhammad was a peaceful man who taught his followers to be the same.  Muslims lived peacefully for centuries, fighting only in self-defense, and only when it was necessary.  True Muslims would never act aggressively.

The Truth:

There shouldn’t be any argument over who the “true Muslim” is because the Quran clearly distinguishes the true Muslim from the pretender in Sura 9 and elsewhere.  According to this – one of the last chapters of the Quran – the true believer “strives and fights with their wealth and persons” while the hypocrites are those who “sit at home,” refusing to join the jihad against unbelievers in foreign lands.

In truth, Muhammad organized 65 military campaigns in the last ten years of his life and personally led 27 of them.  The more power that he attained, the smaller the excuse needed to go to battle, until finally he began attacking tribes merely because they were not yet part of his growing empire.

After Muhammad’s death, his successor immediately went to war with former allied tribes which wanted to go their own way.  Abu Bakr called them ‘apostates’ and slaughtered anyone who did not want to remain Muslim.  Eventually, he was successful in holding the empire together through blood and violence.

The prophet of Islam’s most faithful followers and even his own family soon turned on each other as well.  There were four caliphs (leaders) in the first twenty-five years, each of which was a trusted companion of his.  Three of these four were murdered.  The third caliph was murdered by those allied with the son of the first caliph.  The fourth caliph was murdered in the midst of a conflict with the fifth caliph, who began a 100-year dynasty of excess and debauchery that was brought to an end in a gruesome, widespread bloodbath by descendants of Muhammad’s uncle (who was not even a Muslim).

Muhammad’s own daughter, Fatima, and his son-in-law, Ali, who both survived the pagan hardship during the Meccan years safe and sound, did not survive Islam after the death of Muhammad.  Fatima died of stress from persecution within three months, and Ali was later assassinated by Muslim rivals.  Their son (Muhammad’s grandson) was killed in battle with the faction that became today’s Sunnis.  His people became Shias.  The relatives and personal friends of Muhammad were mixed into both warring groups, which then fractured further into hostile sub-divisions as Islam expanded.

Muslim apologists, who like to say that is impossible for today’s terrorists to be Muslim when they kill fellow Muslims, would have a very tough time explaining the war between Fatima’s followers and Aisha to a knowledgeable audience.  Muhammad explicitly held up both his favorite daughter and his favorite wife as model Muslim women, yet they were invoked respectively by each side in the violent civil war that followed his death.  Which one was the prophet of God so horribly wrong about?

Muhammad left his men with instructions to take the battle against Christians, Persians, Jews and polytheists (which came to include millions of unfortunate Hindus).  For the next four centuries, Muslim armies’ steamrolled over unsuspecting neighbors, plundering them of loot and slaves, and forcing the survivors to either convert or pay tribute at the point of a sword.

Companions of Muhammad lived to see Islam declare war on every major religion in the world in just the first few decades following his death – pressing the Jihad against Hindus, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Buddhists.

By the time of the Crusades (when the Europeans began fighting back), Muslims had conquered two-thirds of the Christian world by sword, from Syria to Spain, and across North Africa.  Millions of Christians were enslaved by Muslims, and tens of millions of Africans.  The Arab slave-trading routes would stay open for 1300 years until pressure from Christian-based countries forced Islamic nations to declare the practice illegal (in theory).  To this day, the Muslim world has never apologized for the victims of Jihad and slavery.

There is not another religion in the world that consistently produces terrorism in the name of God as does Islam.  The most dangerous Muslims are nearly always those who interpret the Quran most transparently.  They are the fundamentalists or purists of the faith, and believe in Muhammad’s mandate to spread Islamic rule by the sword, putting to death those who will not submit.  In the absence of true infidels, they will even turn on each other.

The holy texts of Islam are saturated with verses of violence and hatred toward those outside the faith, as well as the aforementioned “hypocrites” (Muslims who don’t act like Muslims).  In sharp contrast to the Bible, which generally moves from relatively violent episodes to far more peaceful mandates, the Quran travels the exact opposite path (violence is first forbidden, then permitted, then mandatory).

The handfuls of earlier verses that speak of tolerance are overwhelmed by an avalanche of later ones that carry a much different message.  While Old Testament verses of blood and guts are generally bound by historical context within the text itself, Quranic imperatives to violence usually appear open-ended and subject to personal interpretation.

From the history of the faith to its most sacred writings, those who want to believe in “peaceful Islam” have a lot more to ignore than do the terrorists.  By any objective measure, the “Religion of Peace” has been the harshest, bloodiest religion the world has ever known.  In Islam there is no peace unless Muslims have power – and even then…

[Islam is Tolerant of Other Religions]

The Myth:

Religious minorities have flourished under Islam.  Muslims are commanded to protect Jews and Christians (the People of the Book) and do them no harm. The Quran says in Sura 109, “To you, your religion.  To me, mine.”

The Truth:

Religious minorities have not “flourished” under Islam.  In fact, they have dwindled to mere shadows after centuries of persecution and discrimination.  Some were converted from their native religion by brute force, others under the agonizing strain of dhimmitude.

What Muslims call “tolerance,” others correctly identify as institutionalized discrimination.  The consignment of Jews and Christians to dhimmis under Islamic rule means that they are not allowed the same religious rights and freedoms as Muslims.  They cannot share their faith, for example, or build houses of worship without permission.

Historically, dhimmis have often had to wear distinguishing clothing or cut their hair in a particular manner that indicates their position of inferiority and humiliation.  They do not share the same legal rights as Muslims, and must even pay a poll tax (the jizya).  They are to be killed or have their children taken from them if they cannot satisfy the tax collector’s requirements.

For hundreds of years, the Christian population in occupied Europe had their sons taken away and forcibly converted into Muslim warriors (known as Janissaries) by the Ottoman Turks.

It is under this burden of discrimination and third-class status that so many religious minorities converted to Islam over the centuries.  Those who didn’t often faced economic and social hardships that persist to this day and are appalling by Western standards of true religious tolerance and pluralism.

For those who are not “the People of the Book,” such as Hindus and atheists, there is very little tolerance to be found once Islam establishes political superiority.  The Quran tells Muslims to “fight in the way of Allah” until “religion is only for Allah.”  The conquered populations face death if they do not establish regular prayer and charity in the Islamic tradition (i.e. the pillars of Islam).

Tamerlane and other Muslim warriors slaughtered tens of millions of Hindus and Buddhists, and displaced or forcibly converted millions more over the last thousand years.  Islamists in Somalia behead Christians.  In Iran, they are jailed.

One of the great ironies of Islam is that non-Muslims are to be treated according to the very standards by which Muslims themselves would claim the right to violent self-defense was the shoe on the other foot.  Islam is its own justification.  Most Muslims therefore feel no need to explain the ingrained arrogance and double standard.

     There are about 500 verses in the Quran that speak of Allah’s hatred for non-Muslims and the punishment that he has prepared for their unbelief.  There is also a tiny handful that says otherwise, but these are mostly earlier verses that many scholars consider to be abrogated by the later, more violent ones. 

As for Sura 109, any true Quran scholar will point out that the purpose of the verse was to distinguish Islam from the gods of the Quraysh (one of which was named “Allah”) rather than to advocate religious tolerance for non-Muslims.

At the time that he narrated this very early verse, Muhammad did not have any power, and thus no choice but to be “tolerant” of others.  By contrast, there was no true tolerance shown when he returned to Mecca with power many years later and demanded the eviction or death of anyone who would not convert to Islam.  In fact, he physically destroyed the cherished idols of the people to whom he had previously addressed in Sura 109.

If tolerance simply means discouraging the mass slaughter of those of a different faith, then today’s Islam generally meets this standard more often than not.  But, if tolerance means allowing people of other faiths the same religious liberties that Muslims enjoy, then Islam is fundamentally the most intolerant religion under the sun.

Now you have the information, opinion and debate. It’s up to my cyberspace audience to decide for themselves. 

In Part IV ahead  I will provide statistics on three variables I think provides a solid background as to why Islam and Islamic people are very susceptible to religious fanaticism. These variables are: education in the Islamic world, literacy rates, and unemployment.

These variables, in addition to the insightful work of Eric Hoffer in Part V, I believe forms the best explanation to date as to why what has happened in the middle east has produced a growing menace of Islamic Terrorism that continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Terrorism is a major threat to the rest of the civilized world including the United States.

 

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Why California Will be a Significant State in Banning Sharia Law

 

Background

California’s significance lies in its size of its population (38.8 million as of 2014). California is the largest state in the union as to its population. Otherwise, Alaska claims the trophy for land mass, with California in third place.).

California is the most populous sub-national entity in North America. If it were an independent country, California would rank 34th in population in the world. It has a larger population than all of Canada and Australia. Its population is one third larger than that of the next largest state, Texas. California surpassed New York to become the most populous state in 1962.

No single racial or ethnic group forms a majority of California’s population, making the state a minority-majority state. Non-Hispanic whites make up 40.1% of the population. Spanish is the state’s second most spoken language. Areas with especially large Spanish speaking populations include Los Angeles metropolitan area, the California-Mexico border counties of San Diego and Imperial, and the San Joaquin Valley.  Nearly 43% of California residents speak a language other than English, a proportion far higher than any other state.

 

Muslim Population in the United States and California

     There are an estimated 5 million Muslims in the United States. Twenty percent or 1,000,000 Muslims live in California.

 

     Geographical Distribution:  The table below represents a breakdown by states of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. It shows that there are an estimated 3.3.  Million Muslims in these states. The figure represents 62 percent of the estimated 5 million Muslims living in the United States. 

Muslim State Population Table 

  Muslim Population   (1,000)  Percentage Total Muslim Population  Percent of Total State Population 
California 1,000 20.0 3.4
New York 800 16.0 4.7
Illinois 420 8.4 3.6
New Jersey 200 4.0 2.5
Indiana 180 3.6 3.2
Michigan 170 3.4 1.8
Virginia 150 3.0 2.4
Texas 140 2.8 0.7
Ohio 130 2.6 1.2
Maryland 70 1.4 1.4

* Estimates under column 2 have been rounded to the nearest even number.

The list below shows the number of facilities used by Muslims for religious activities and community affairs:

Mosques/Islamic Centers 843
Islamic Schools 165
Associations 426
Publications   89

There are 165 Islamic Schools in the United States, of which 92 are full time. Figures here for Masjids/Islamic Centers are based on directory listings.

Note: The exact number of businesses owned and operated by Muslims is unavailable, but they are estimated in the thousands. These preliminary findings represent data collected during 1986-1992.

Controversy

Some Muslim Americans have been criticized because of perceived conflicts between their religious beliefs and mainstream American value systems. Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis, Minnesota have been criticized for refusing passengers for carrying alcoholic beverages or dogs. The Minneapolis –Saint Paul International Airport authority has threatened to revoke the operating authority of any driver caught discriminating in this manner. There are reported incidents in which Muslim cashiers have refused to sell pork products to their clientele.

Based on data from a 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, their graph records the distribution of feelings of U.S. Muslims on the topic of suicide bombings, separated by age group.

Terrorism that involved Muslim perpetrators began in the United States with the 1993 shootings at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, followed by the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City. The latest was the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings in Massachusetts. After the September 11 attacks and the start of the Afghanistan war in 2001, there was concern about the potential radicalization of American Muslims. A 2007 Pew poll reported that 15% of American Muslims under the age of 30 supported suicide bombings against civilian targets in at least some circumstances, on the other hand 11% said it could be “rarely justified.”

Among those over the age of 30, just 6% expressed their support for the same. (9% of Muslims over 30 and 5% under 30 chose not to answer). A March 2010 Bipartisan Policy Center paper points out an increasing number of American Muslims are playing high-level operational roles in al-Qaeda and aligned groups, as well as a larger numbers of American Muslims who are attaching themselves to these groups.

Between 2001 and the end of 2009, there were 46 publicly reported incidents of “domestic radicalization and recruitment to jihadist terrorism” that involved at least 125 people between 2001 and the end of 2009. There had been an average of six cases per year since 2001, but that rose to 13 in 2009.

While the seeming increase in cases may be alarming, half “involve single individuals, while the rest represent ‘tiny conspiracies,’ ” according to Congressional testimony.

Furthermore, a 2012 study by the University of North Carolina indicated that the yearly number of cases of alleged plots by Muslim-Americans appears to be declining. The total of 20 indictments for terrorism in 2011 is down from 26 in 2010 and 47 in 2009 (the total since 9/11 is 193). The number of Muslim-Americans indicted for support of terrorism also fell, from 27 individuals in 2010 to just eight in 2011 (the total since 9/11 stands at 462). Also in apparent decline is the number of actual attacks: Of the 20 suspects indicted for terrorism, only one was charged with carrying out a terrorist act. This number is down from the six individuals charged with attacks in 2010. The study’s author concludes that the “limited scale of Muslim-American terrorism in 2011 runs counter to the fears that many Americans shared in the days and months after 9/11, that domestic Muslim-American terrorism would escalate.”

Muslim Americans are significantly represented among those who tip authorities off to alleged plots having given 52 of the 140 documented tips regarding individuals involved in violent terrorist plots since 9/11.

Extremism in the United States

At least one American not of recent immigrant background, John Walker Lindh, has been imprisoned, convicted on charges of working with the Taliban and carrying weapons against American soldiers. He had converted to Islam while in the United States, moved to Yemen to study Arabic, and then went to Pakistan, where he was recruited by the Taliban.

Another American that was not of recent immigrant background, Jose Padilla (prisoner), of Puerto Rican decent and the first Hispanic-American to be imprisoned and convicted on suspicion of plotting a radiological bomb (“dirty bomb”) attack.

He was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an enemy combatant and, arguing that he was not entitled to trial in civilian courts, had him transferred to a military prison. He had converted to Islam while serving his last jail sentence in prison, and went to Pakistan where he was recruited into Al-Qaeda.

Islamophobia

     A 2011 Gallup poll report has stated that there has been an increase in Islamophobia over the past decade and defined it as “An exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination, and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from social, political, and civic life.” A 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating, which is lower than the 41% cold rating received by atheists.

Public institutions in the U.S. have also drawn fire for accommodating Islam at the expense of taxpayers. The University of Michigan-Dearborn and a public college in Minnesota have been criticized for accommodating Islamic prayer rituals by constructing footbaths for Muslim students using tax-payers’ money.

Critics claim this special accommodation, which is made only to satisfy Muslims’ needs, is a violation of Constitutional provisions separating church and state. Along the same constitutional lines, a San Diego public elementary school is being criticized for making special accommodations specifically for American Muslims by adding Arabic to its curriculum and giving breaks for Muslim prayers. Since these exceptions have not been made for any religious group in the past, some critics see this as an endorsement of Islam.

The first American Muslim Congressman, Keith Ellison, created controversy when he compared President George W. Bush’s actions after the September 11, 2001 attacks to Adolf Hitler’s actions after the Nazi-sparked Reichstag fire, saying that Bush was exploiting the aftermath of 9/11 for political gain, as Hitler had exploited the Reichstag fire to suspend constitutional liberties.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Anti-Defamation League condemned Ellison’s remarks. The congressman later retracted the statement, saying that it was “inappropriate” for him to have made the comparison.

At Columbus Manor School, a suburban Chicago elementary school with a student body nearly half Muslim Arab Americans, school board officials have considered eliminating holiday celebrations after Muslim parents complained that their culture’s holidays were not included.

Local parent Elizabeth Zahedan said broader inclusion, not elimination, was the group’s goal.” I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted her as saying. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people.” However, the district’s superintendent, Tom Smyth, said too much school time was being taken to celebrate holidays already, and he sent a directive to his principals requesting that they “tone down” activities unrelated to the curriculum, such as holiday parties.

Comments

     Totalitarian regimes based on a religion carry no more weight than totalitarian regimes whose primary motives are based on greed for resources such as land, oil, or raw power and control over others. Sometimes such regimes are one and the same.

In a civilized world people’s individuality is put first in harmony with the community in which they live. People are free to pursue their own individual dreams and live out their lives to the best of their ability according to common sense and the rule of law, and supported by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights espoused in 1948 by the United Nations.

In the weeks and months ahead, a five-part series will be posted that delves into the psychology and sociology of Religious Fanaticism. In part five of the series I will present the seminal work of the late sociologist/philosopher/longshoreman, Eric Hoffer.

I leave you now with one of his many quotes about—The True Believer.

“Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.” ― Eric Hoffer, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements

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Should California be the Next State to Ban Sharia Law?

Background

There is great controversy brewing in the United States these days concerning the use of Sharia law in American courts. Most Americans are not even aware that foreign law can be used in an American Court. Sharia law is based on the religious teachings found in the Quran and the pronouncements of Islam’s originator—The Prophet Muhammad.

Our law of the land is, of course, the U.S. Constitution and the various laws at the federal, state and local jurisdictions.

The most basic question Americans are asking themselves is this: With jihadists in a foreign land using Sharia law to violate human rights everywhere, why in the hell is the United States condoning the use of such an abusive, archaic, demeaning set of legal canons?

The answer to this question should be a “no-brainer” until one realizes the fact that some foreign laws (such as Sharia) are being used in some American courts.

Laws based on religion or religious thought is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state. The added features to this issue is that foreign laws are not American laws, and Sharia law arose in the Muslim world, not in the United States.

These 16 States Have All Introduced Legislation to Ban ‘Sharia Law’

     The following is an article by Jason DeWitt of Top Right News from February 9, 2015.

     “Muslims are determined to push their religious doctrines on the American people.”

 

 

“Muslim cab drivers in Minneapolis and several airports have kicked out blind passengers with guide dogs (dogs are “unclean” in Islam). Somali Muslims on welfare have demanded that their free food comply with “Islamic requirements.”

Muslim groups have demanded that their women be permitted to wear full face and body coverings even on driver’s licenses.

And Muslim pressure groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have pushed to force Sharia Law on our courts and law enforcement — with some U.S. judges insanely agreeing to comply.

A New Jersey judge recently cited Sharia Law in refusing to grant a Muslim woman a restraining order in a horrible case of sexual assault and abuse, because her husband said his abuse was acceptable “according to his Muslim beliefs.”

In Texas, a group of unlicensed Muslim “judges” have set up an “Islamic Tribunal” which they say will “resolve disputes” in law, family and businesses using, of course, Sharia Law — not the U.S. Constitution.

Well, some states are fighting back. As far back as 2010 Sixteen U.S. states have introduced legislation to ban or restrict Sharia law.

The list was compiled by the radical, terror-linked CAIR — which meant it to condemn the states, but to most Americans, it will bolster those states as somewhere they would want to live.

Ironically, CAIR claims they oppose Sharia Law in America. So why is it that any time a state wants to ban Sharia from inside its boundaries, CAIR fights it and cries “Islamophobia”? Because they want Muslims to only be subject to Sharia, not our laws. Herman Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas CAIR branch was most revealing when he brazenly said: “If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land.” 

Well the following states are saying: no damn way.

Alabama became the latest state to ban Sharia law when voters overwhelmingly passed a measure adding an amendment to the state constitution. CAIR said that the motion was “virulently racist” and shows “outright hostility towards Muslims.” Alabamans apparently didn’t care what they said.

The list of all 16 states is:

  • Alabama (two bills)
  • Arkansas
  • Florida (two bills)
  • Indiana (two bills)
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi (four bills)
  • Missouri (two bills)
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma (seven bills)
  • South Carolina (two bills)
  • Texas (six bills)
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (two bills)

And hopefully in 2015, the list will get longer.

It depends on you. Tell your state reps you want Sharia banned in your state next.”

 

Human Rights in Islamic Countries

     Human rights in Islamic countries have been a hot-button issue for many decades. According to the Global Network for Rights and Development, the United Arab Emirates is the only one of 48 Muslim-majority countries with human rights comparable to Western democracies.

International Non-governmental Organizations (“INGOs”) such as Amnesty International (“AI”) and Human Rights Watch (“HRW”) consistently find human rights violations in Islamic countries. Amongst the human rights issues that are frequently under the spotlight are gay rights, the right of consensual sex outside of marriage, individual freedom of speech and political opinion. The issue of women’s rights is also the subject of fierce debate.

The fundamental reason why Islamic countries are ranked so lowly in human rights indicators such as The International Human Rights Rank Indicator (“IHRRI”) has to do with how Western democracies and the Islamic world approach the topic of human rights. While the concept of human rights in Western democracies was developed over centuries through Western experience and grounded in the idea of faith, human rights in the Islamic world is based on the Qur’anic ideal of human dignity. As a result of this differing basis, it is impossible for Islamic countries to measure up to the standards of human rights set by Western democracies since their views and understanding of human rights differ from their Western counterparts, thus resulting in different practices in their societies.

When the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (“UDHR”) in 1948, Saudi Arabia refused to sign it as they were of the view that sharia law had already set out the rights of men and women. To sign the UDHR was deemed unnecessary. What the UDHR did do was to start a debate on human rights in the Islamic world. Following years of deliberation, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (“OIC”) adopted the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights.

International Human Rights Rank Indicator

The International Human Rights Rank Indicator (IHRRI), which combines scores for a wide range of human rights, is produced by the Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD); ratings in the table below are as of 11 October 2014.

All Muslim countries have a human rights rating less than 53%, with the notable exception of United Arab Emirates, whose rating (61.49%) is similar to many Western democracies; for comparison, Sweden is the highest-rated country worldwide with 89.13%, and the US is rated 69.23%.

Population percentage figures below are from the Pew Research Center report The Future of the Global Muslim Population, as of 27 January 2011; all majority Muslim countries (with population over 50% Muslim) are listed.

Country Muslim % of total population International Human Rights Rank Indicator rating
Afghanistan 99.8 27.96%
Albania 82.1 52.15%
Algeria 98.2 33.49%
Azerbaijan 98.4 44.40%
Bahrain 81.2 47.03%
Bangladesh 90.4 47.20%
Brunei 51.9 29.99%
Burkina Faso 58.9 41.14%
Chad 55.7 21.68%
Comoros 98.3 37.89%
Djibouti 97 37.31%
Egypt 94.7 42.67%
Gambia 95.3 35.80%
Guinea 84.2 38.90%
Indonesia 88.1 29.29%
Iran 99.7 36.22%
Iraq 98.9 30.42%
Jordan 98.8 45.83%
Kazakhstan 56.4 47.09%
Kuwait 86.4 48.25%
Kyrgyzstan 88.8 38.55%
Lebanon 59.7 42.53%
Libya 96.6 36.95%
Malaysia 61.4 52.10%
Maldives 98.4 48.17%
Mali 92.4 30.58%
Mauritania 99.2 40.01%
Mayotte 98.8 37.47%
Morocco 99.9 50.92%
Niger 98.3 35.60%
Oman 87.7 45.73%
Pakistan 96.4 38.61%
Palestine 97.5 44.93%
Qatar 77.5 47.80%
Saudi Arabia 97.1 27.08%
Senegal 95.9 29.17%
Sierra Leone 71.5 21.51%
Somalia 98.6 22.71%
Sudan 71.4 30.21%
Syria 92.8 23.82%
Tajikistan 99 40.11%
Tunisia 97.8 50.47%
Turkey 98.6 47.64%
Turkmenistan 93.3 43.04%
United Arab Emirates 76 61.49%
Uzbekistan 96.5 36.77%
Western Sahara 99.6 27.55%
Yemen 99 41.91%

Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam

[CDHR]

The CDHR was signed by member states of the OIC in 1990 at the 19th Conference of Foreign Ministers held in Cairo, Egypt. It was seen as the answer to the UDHR. In fact, the CDHR was “patterned after the UN-sponsored UDHR of 1948.” The object of the CDHR was to “serve as a guide for member states on human rights issues.” CDHR translated the Qur’anic teachings as follows: “All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the basis of race, color, language, belief, sex, religion, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True religion is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human integrity.” On top of references to the Qur’an, the CDHR also referenced prophetic teachings and Islamic legal tradition.

While the CDHR can be seen as a significant human rights milestone for Islamic countries, Western commentators have been critical of it. For one, it is a heavily qualified document. The CDHR is pre-empted by sharia law – “all rights and freedoms stipulated [in the Cairo Declaration] are subject to Islamic Sharia’s.”

In turn, though member countries appear to follow sharia law, these laws seem to be ignored altogether when it comes to “[repressing] their citizens using torture, and imprisonment without trial and disappearance.” Abdullah al-Ahsan describes this as the Machiavellian attempt which is “turning out to be catastrophic in the Muslim world.”

Individual countries

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been under the human rights spotlight for a number of decades, receiving increased attention from the early 1990s onwards. Much of the period between the 1940s to 1980s was characterized by Saudi’s perceived passivity on the issue as well as its refusal to sign the UDHR. The period thereafter has seen a significant uptake on the matter. It all began with Saudi’s handling of the Second Gulf War in 1991, which created much unhappiness and opposition amongst its citizens. Thereafter, a group of Saudi citizens attempted to establish a non-governmental human rights organization called the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights (“CDLR”).

Within weeks of its formation, Saudi authorities arrested many of its members and supporters. Following the release of its main founder and president Alma sari, the committee was reformed in London where it received attention from human rights organizations worldwide. CDLR’s work shed much needed light on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia that was previously clouded in secrecy.

The events which have followed since the early 1990s such as the end of the Cold War, the Gulf War and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States of America, has further impacted the issue of human rights in Saudi, more so than any other country. Since these events, Saudi has steadily opened itself up to scrutiny by international agencies; they have also participated and engaged the human rights front more actively.

Amongst them, the country has allowed visits from Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups. Saudi has also joined the international human rights legal arrangements which means that the country is legally subject to Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (“CERD”), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against women (“CEDAW”), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”).

While some have lauded the progress made, others have remained highly critical of the country. In a 2013 human rights review of Saudi by Country Watch, it is said that Saudi has a “poor record of human rights” with the country’s law “not [providing] for the protection of many basic rights”. The report goes on to detail the many shortcomings in the country such as corruption, lack of transparency, the presence of corporal punishments and the lack of separation between the three branches of the State i.e. Judiciary, Executive and Legislature.

Pakistan

The human rights situation in Pakistan is generally regarded as poor by domestic and international observers. Pakistan is a center of Islamic fundamentalism. The human rights record of Pakistan was particularly grave under the dictatorship of the US-supported General Zia.

General Zia introduced Sharia Law which led to Islamization of the country. The current regime in Pakistan has been responsible for torture, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations. Honor killings are also common in Pakistan.

Turkey

Turkey is considered by many as being the exemplary country of the Muslim world where a satisfactory compromise is made between the values of Islamic and Western civilizations.

One of the main reasons cited for Turkey’s significant improvement in its human rights efforts over the past few decades is the country’s push towards satisfying European Union pre-conditions for membership. In 2000, AI, on the back of visits made to the country to observe human rights practices, found that Turkey was demonstrating signs of greater transparency compared to other Muslim countries. In 2002, an AI report stated that the Turkish parliament passed three laws “…aimed at bringing Turkish law into line with European human rights standards.”      The same report further noted that “AI was given permission to open a branch in Turkey under the Law on Associations.”

Some of the latest human rights steps taken by Turkey include: “the fourth judicial reform package adopted in April, which strengthens the protection of fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and the fight against impunity for cases of torture and ill-treatment; the peace process which aims to end terrorism and violence in the Southeast of the country and pave the way for a solution to the Kurdish issue; the September 2013 democratization package which sets out further reform, covering important issues such as the use of languages other than Turkish, and minority rights.”

Further progress was also recorded on the women’s rights front where Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe Convention against Domestic Violence. Also, in 2009, the Turkish government established a Parliamentary Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women to look at reducing the inequality between the sexes.

Despite all these advancement, there are still many significant human rights issues troubling the country. In a 2013 human rights report by the United States Department of State, amongst the problems to receive significant criticism were government interference with freedom of expression and assembly, lack of transparency and independence of the judiciary and inadequate protection of vulnerable populations.

Human Rights Watch have even gone as far as to declare that there has been a “human rights rollback” in the country.

According to the report, this has taken place amidst the mass anti-government protests which took place in 2013. Under the current leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ruling party has become increasing intolerant of “political opposition, public protest, and critical media.”

 

Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has one of the worst human rights records of any country in the world. Amongst the most serious human rights issues plaguing the republic are “the government’s manipulation of the electoral process, which severely limited citizens’ right to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; restrictions on civil liberties, including the freedoms of assembly, speech, and press; and disregard for the physical integrity of persons whom it arbitrarily and unlawfully detained, tortured, or killed.”

In 2014, Human Rights Watch reported that despite changes to the penal code, the death penalty was still liberally meted resulting in one of the highest rates of executions in the world. On top of that, security authorities have been repressing free speech and dissent. Many opposition parties, labor unions and student groups were banned and scores of political prisoners were still locked up.

The country has generally closed itself off to outside interference. The government has refused the request of the United Nations to have Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed report on the human rights situation in the country though they did however announce that two UN experts would be allowed to visit in 2015.

     The above information was obtained from Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. For those interested one can learn the Origins of Islamic law from the Constitutional Rights Foundation website.

 

Comments

 

     My politics have always been very complex. I am an ultra-liberal when it comes to human rights and civil rights. And, I’m a card-carrying member of Amnesty International. Being a former U.S. Navy combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I can say that when it comes to national defense, homeland security, veteran’s issues, military families and wounded warriors my politics are conservative.

 

     The idea of the need to ban Sharia Law in deference to American law and the U.S. Constitution, is neither a liberal nor a conservative issue—It is an American issue.

 

     From a legal point of view, the operation of Sharia Law in the United States is unconstitutional as it violates the separation of church and state. From a moral point of view Sharia Law is an archaic notion of justice, best left back in the sixth century A.D.

 

     Sharia law is currently fostered by misogynist totalitarian regimes that indiscriminately murder and torture their own people based on intolerance of all human rights spelled out in 1948 by the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

 

     There have been efforts over the years since 1948, on the part of Islamic countries (OIC) in the United Nations, to scrap or seriously modify the 1948 (post World War II) Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

 

     In the aftermath of 9-1-1 we, as a country, still have to fight with fundamentalist extremists worldwide. But, even more important there are now dangers everywhere on the home front from Boston to Texas. Some of these dangers are homegrown, but some terrorist activities against the United States may still be precipitated from Islamic terrorist groups outside our borders.

 

     What is needed in California now is an amendment to the state’s constitution to ban Sharia Law in any form. 

 

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