Pope appears to back anti-Trump protests in letter condemning populism

The Guardian World news: Islam - 17 February, 2017 - 12:01

Pontiff tells activists he supports their fight against ‘gutting of democracies’ in letter that appears to take aim at US president

Pope Francis has offered his unequivocal support to grassroots organisers and activists who are fighting for social justice, migrants, and environmentalism, saying he “reaffirms” their choice to fight against tyranny amid a “gutting of democracies”.

“As Christians and all people of good will, it is for us to live and act at this moment. It is a grave responsibility, since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanisation which would then be hard to reverse,” the pontiff wrote in a letter that was read to organisers this week.

Related: Pope Francis appears to back tribal land rights in Dakota Access pipeline fight

Related: Pope Francis appears to criticize Trump's Mexico border wall plan

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The Redemption of Tony Blair?

Inayat's Corner - 17 February, 2017 - 11:12


Could this perhaps be the beginning of the rehabilitation of Tony Blair following the disastrous invasion of Iraq and its hideous aftermath? At Open Britain earlier this morning the former PM used his formidable oratorical skills to call upon those who oppose Brexit to rise up and convince those who voted for Brexit about the merits of remaining in the EU.

He made a number of telling points. He pointed out how the PM Theresa May and the Chancellor Phillip Hammond:

 “…were telling us that leaving would be bad for the country, its economy, its security and its place in the world.  Today it is apparently a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for greatness. 7 months ago, AFTER the referendum result, the Chancellor was telling us that leaving the Single Market would be – and I quote – ‘catastrophic’. Now it appears we will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union and he is very optimistic.”

Blair correctly identified immigration as “the issue” which most persuaded those who voted for Brexit. However, the facts regarding immigration did not support a case for leaving the EU:

“Net immigration into the UK was roughly 335,000 in the year to June 2016.
But just over half was from outside the EU…And for many people, the core immigration question – and one which I fully accept is a substantial issue -is immigration from non-European countries, especially when from different cultures in which assimilation and potential security threats can be an issue.”

As for those immigrants from the EU:

“Future historians will be scurrying to investigate the antecedents of these migrants from Europe for whose restraint, we were willing to sacrifice so much.
What will they find – that they were a terrible group of people who threatened the country’s stability? They will find that on the whole they were well behaved, worked hard, paid their taxes and were a net economic benefit.”

He ended his speech with a rousing call for those who want to remain in the EU to stand up and work with others to persuade those who voted for Brexit to change their minds.

“The one incontrovertible characteristic of politics today is its propensity for revolt.
The Brexiteers were the beneficiaries of this wave; now they want to freeze it to a day in June 2016.
They will say the will of the people can’t alter. It can.
They will say Leaving is inevitable. It isn’t.
They will say we don’t represent the people. We do, many millions of them and with determination many millions more.
They will claim we’re dividing the country by making the case. It is they who divide our country – generation from generation, North from South, Scotland from England, those born here from those who came to our country precisely because of what they thought it stood for and what they admired.
This is not the time for retreat, indifference or despair; but the time to rise up in defence of what we believe – calmly, patiently, winning the argument by the force of argument; but without fear and with the conviction we act in the true interests of Britain.”

It was good to see this version of Tony Blair back again. It reminded me of the 1997 Blair who was voted in to power offering hope of progressive politics following 18 years of Tory rule. It is a tragedy that the current Labour team is unable to perform its duty as an effective opposition to the current government. If they continue to be unable to break through and win the centre ground, there will remain a massive gap just waiting to be filled. Blair could yet redeem himself of the disaster of Iraq.

“The ISIS-salute” demystified

Loon Watch - 16 February, 2017 - 21:04

ISIS and other political extremist groups are often seen holding one finger, the index finger in the air. That they have chosen the pointed finger as a political symbol, is undoubtly true. But does that mean that all that are poining fingers in the air are members of ISIS? And are all Muslims that ever raises their index finger dangerous terrorists?

First of all I would encourage you to use Google. Pointing with index fingers is nothing uncommon. When you point at something you want to direct peoples attention to something. Pointing up in the air is a variation of that. In the European and American cultures we do it all the time. When you watch sports on TV you see it all the time. It symbolizes “I am number one”, “I am the winner”.

Soccerplayers often show the indexfinger after scoring a goal.

When you watch athletics you see it all the time.

Martin Luther King frequently pointed fingers. He pointed AT the racists challenging them and he pointed up in the when he said that mankind is ONE.  I am from Sweden. Here different organizations for decades have used the symbol “pointing an index finger up in the air” when fighting racism. The symbolic meaning is the same as for King: “unity, mankind is one”. Last year racists spread articles about a Swedish TV show where children raised their finger. The “ISIS-Salute” some Islamophobes claimed.

Here they linked the children to a picture of a member in ISIS:

In this case it was a TV show against racism where they wanted to say that mankind is one. The show was done after a racist murdered three people two of then children in a school in Trollhättan.

Pamela Geller claimed that the former President Obama was an agent of ISIS when he happened to raise his index finger once, when giving a speech.

In Islam

In Islam the symbolic meaning of the pointed finger is that “there is no god but Allah”. That means that God is ONE, It is a gesture that is used by most Muslims in the Islamic Prayer.

This is nothing extremist or strange. One can compare it to how many Christians make the sign of the cross while praying, or uses the symbol of the cross in different ways. As a symbol of devotion.

The Synbol of KKK

The pointed finger and the cross have often been “kidnapped” by political groups to serve their purpose. ISIS are not alone, Al Qaeda and other extremists are using the symbol with the finger, too. But it is the same with the Christian symbols. Let me remind you how the symbol of Ku Klux Klan looks like!

Different Nazis and Fascists have frequently used the cross to claim that their political views are supported by God. The Falangists in Franco´s spain used the sign of the cross much, because they wanted people to see that they were “true Catholics” and to claim that they had a “mandate from God”. This does not mean that all people that do the sign of the cross are Fascists and Nazis. Some are, especially if they do it to try to link their political ideas to God. But all are not. Most people do the sign of the cross because they believe in God.

The British Catholic fascist F.K Chesterton, that Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos love so much that they want the Pope to make him a saint, used to make the sign of the cross before entering a new house or even sometimes a new room. Does that make the sign of the cross a Fascist symbol?


Only a madman would claim that all that do the sign of the cross are nazis because Joseph Goebbels was a Catholic that frequently made the sign of the cross. Only a madman would say that all that do the sign of the cross love fascists because Catholic fascists like Chesterton and the Spanish fascists used it. Only a madman would say that the cross is a symbol of evil and hatred because the KKK uses it.

It is equally crazy to believe the scare stories about the Muslims and the index finger.

The Independent: Mass Sexual Assault in Frankfurt By Refugees ‘Completely Made Up’

Loon Watch - 16 February, 2017 - 20:53

The damage has been done: the meme that the zombies at Breitbart, and other right-wing media wanted to propagate about “rapefugees” got regurgitated and disseminated far and wide. Breitbart which was one of the disseminators of the lie, followed up the truthful story and found a way to add some wholly unrelated anti-Muslim shade at the end. (h/t:Abdel)

This is not the first time German media have been fooled by the so-called “fake news” phenomena. Last year in Berlin, a group of pro-migrant activists called “Moabit Helps” claimed a migrant had frozen to death waiting for benefits. The story was widely reported across German media, but when no dead migrant was found and the sole witness went into hiding, the story was proved to be a hoax.

In Austria, a young Muslim girl claimed she had been attacked at a train station by people who had torn off her hijab and tried to throw her onto the train tracks. After police looked at the footage they saw the girl walk onto a train with no violence occurring at all and launched an investigation claiming she lied to police.

By Harriet Agerholm, The Independent

Prosecutors are investigating two people for allegedly fabricating an account of a mass sex attack by Arab migrants in Frankfurt.

Claims that a “sex rioting mob” of around 50 men assaulted a group of women over the new year were reported by German tabloid Bild earlier this month.

The report, which suggested the attackers lived at a refugee shelter in central Hasse, was widely re-circulated by right-wing news sites.

In an article since taken down from its website, Bild interviewed a chef who runs a restaurant in Fressgass, a busy shopping district, as well as a 27-year-old woman.

The chef alleged that dozens of Arab men came into his restaurant in, stole his customers’ jackets and sexually assaulted multiple women.

The 27-year-old female told the paper: “They grabbed me under my skirt, between the legs and on my breast – everywhere.”

Yet, police said on Tuesday they believed the allegations were “completely baseless”. One of the purported victims of the alleged attack was not in Frankfurt at the time of the purported crime, they said.

“Interviews with alleged witnesses, guests and employees led to major doubts with the version of events that had been presented,” police told German daily Frankfurter Rundschau.

“One of the alleged victims was not even in Frankfurt at the time the allegations are said to have taken place.”

They concluded: “Masses of refugees were not responsible for any sexual assaults in the Fressgass over New Year. The accusations are completely baseless.”

No sexual assaults were reported to police from the the area over New Year before the Bild report, they said.

Investigators were looking into whether the pair had made up the story.

Bild‘s editor-in-chief Julian Reichelt issued an apology on behalf of the tabloid, writing in a tweet: “We apologise for our own work. I’ll shortly announce what Bild will do about it.”

Barnaby Joyce says Nationals won't preference One Nation ahead of Liberals – Australian Politics Live podcast

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 February, 2017 - 19:14

Barnaby Joyce joins Katharine Murphy and Gabrielle Chan to discuss the National party’s Senate inquiry into decentralisation as well as why preferencing One Nation is a bad idea when the biggest buyers of Australia’s wheat and cattle are Islamic nations

Barnaby Joyce warns warns anti-Islamic statements could harm trade deals

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Barnaby Joyce warns anti-Islamic statements could harm trade deals

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 February, 2017 - 19:13

Joyce asks for caution because Indonesia and Saudi Arabia ‘are the biggest buyers of our wheat and our cattle’

Barnaby Joyce talks to Gabrielle Chan and Katharine Murphy – Australian politics live podcast

Barnaby Joyce has warned that anti-Islamic statements could harm Australian trade deals and declared that he would give instructions not to preference Pauline Hanson’s party before the Liberal party in federal seats.

In an interview to mark his first year as National party leader, Joyce said that, as agriculture minister, he had to deal with a lot of Islamic countries that buy billions of dollars’ worth of Australian exports.

Related: Pauline Hanson calls for immigration ban: 'Go back to where you came from'

Related: Moving pesticide agency to Barnaby Joyce's electorate could cost $193m a year

I don’t think [Labor] are the worst people to run the country.

Related: It's goodbye to the Nationals unless they become a genuine country party | Michael Hogan

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Working with LGBTQ & Other Allies – Moving Beyond the Kumbaya in Interfaith Work

altmuslim - 16 February, 2017 - 18:05
It’s time to move beyond the holding hands and singing kumbaya. It’s time to make alliances with folks we don’t typically ally with. It’s time to have difficult conversations about difficult subjects. It’s time to recognize who has stood up for us and stand up for them as well, even if we don’t align theologically -- we align as humans.

Apology without Apologetics | Jonathan Brown

Muslim Matters - 16 February, 2017 - 16:09

So I’ve learned a few things over the last couple of days. First, I want to apologize to those hurt by how I addressed the topic of slavery in Islam. I should listen to my wife more.  She always tells me that I talk about things too much like a scholar and not enough like a normal person. Topics like slavery are felt with the heart; I shouldn’t talk about them like a disembodied brain (especially when my body and experiences don’t reflect the subject). Second, when Alt-Right folk bombard you and your family with death threats and rape threats, it takes a toll on the body and spirit. Third, the support I’ve received has been incredible. The calls I got, the messages, the support offered to my family, the advice, they came from all over. In particular, the support I’ve received from academics around the world has literally brought tears to my eyes. Fourth, it’s been amazing to see the Muslim community stepping up to the plate in these tough times. We as a community are really shaping up to meet the challenges ahead. We know our enemy, we know our allies, and we have each other’s backs. We can disagree, sometimes bitterly, amongst ourselves, but we close ranks when one of us is attacked. I would go to the mat for any of you, even those I’ve fought with. No one benefits when the forces of bigotry, Islamophobia or unchecked state power win.

A few important points I’ve been asked about:

1) The many, many articles written by various shades of the Alt-Right about me have one thing in common: a clear agenda.  They take quotes out of context, chop sentences in half, and even flat out make up things that I “said.” I haven’t seen editing this creative since the last Guy Ritchie movie. My favorite is when they assume my description of some event a thousand years ago is me calling for it today. How are academics supposed to teach history if any discussion is assumed to be advocacy? The most complicated issues are also often the ones that we need to discuss the most. How can this happen if people are intimidated into silence?

2) People have been passing around a screenshot of a Facebook post I made in 2015, when ISIS and their sex slavery were dominating the news: Another post taken totally out of context.  Let me explain why I wrote that post: articles about Yazidi women being reduced to sex slaves by ISIS justifiably disgusted people. Many Muslims didn’t know how to handle the fact that ISIS was claiming this was allowed in Islam. What I was trying to do in this post was to say that ISIS’s sex slavery was a revolting symptom of a bigger problem: they had restarted slavery in the first place. And this was the result of a BIGGER problem: they didn’t consider the Muslim governments of Iraq to be real Muslims. That means they didn’t honor the protected status of religious minorities in Iraq, like the Yazidis. One of those protections is that they cannot be enslaved. But even this was just a symptom of a STILL BIGGER problem: ISIS doesn’t consider anyone who is not ISIS to be Muslim. This means they don’t care about the authority of Muslim scholars [of the past], who came to the consensus that slavery is prohibited.

I should have made my point more clearly. In the future, I’ll listen to my wife more and be more sensitive in the tone I take.

3)  Rape in Islam: Rape in Islam is haram (prohibited).  It’s a violation of the rights of a human and the rights of God. Even if there are not the four witnesses required to convict a rapist of the Hudud crime of forced zina (adultery, fornication), the act is still punished in the Shariah as an assault and physical injury, provable by two witnesses or, when appropriate, by circumstantial evidence. Rape as a violation of a woman’s security and autonomy is among the most reprehensible of crimes. It is disgraceful to take my words on this out of context and project them as a justification for violence against women.

4)   Consent for Sex: Here the Shariah historically worked differently from modern laws on marital rape, which originated in the 1970s. But the effect is similar: protection. Within marriage, wrongs regarding sex were not conceived of as violations of consent. They were conceived of as harm inflicted on the wife. And in Islamic history wives could and did go to courts to complain and get judges to order husbands to desist and pay damages.  So yes, non-consensual sex is wrong and forbidden in Islam. But the operating element to punish marital rape fell under the concept of harm, not non-consent.

5)  Slavery in Islam: Muslims began curtailing slavery early on.  In the 1000s, the great Persian scholar Juwayni gave a fatwa that slave girls captured in Central Asia should not be sold as concubines. In the 1780s, the scholar-king of Senegal Abd al-Qadir Kan abolished slavery in his realm and banned the French from slave trading there (note: this preceded the beginning of organized abolition in Britain. In fact, the first abolitionists cited Kan as a model ruler). In 1846 (before Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation), Ahmad Bey, the governor of Tunis, banned the slave trade there and emancipated all slaves in his realm. By 1900, many leading Muslim scholars had agreed that slavery should be prohibited. As Muslim states signed treaties banning slavery in the early twentieth century, the practice all but disappeared (if you’re thinking, hey, what about bonded laborers today or convicts in America… I agree! That’s the whole point I was making in my paper: don’t get fooled by labels that make slavery invisible, look at the realities behind them. Watch the documentary 13th (link)).

A crucial point is that slavery isn’t one thing.  It has varied dramatically across time and space, from the horrors of racist, inhuman chattel slavery on the plantations of the American South to mukataba in the Ottoman Empire. Mukataba was an emancipation contract for a fixed time and with rights to own property and marry; it was closer to being a wageworker in a 19th-century British factory than what we think of as American slavery. In the Islamic world, slaves actually ruled entire states. The ruling dynasty of one empire, the Mamluks, was all slaves. The administrative and military elite of the Ottoman Empire, the most powerful and richest people in the realm, were technically slaves of the Sultan.

In the Quran and Sunnah, the only avenue left for slavery was dealing with people who had been captured in war. All other forms were outright abolished. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) guaranteed them appropriate food, clothing, shelter and no overly taxing labor. They could be disciplined no more harshly than one’s own kids. The Quran instructed owners to make mukataba agreements with slaves if they were fit and able to make it on their own, and Muslim scholars understood that it was better to keep those who were otherwise too old or unable to fend for themselves as slaves rather than setting them free to starve. The Quran and Sunnah made clear over and over that freeing slaves was one of the best deeds a Muslim could do. The Shariah saw freedom as the natural state (asl) of all humans. And, as the legal maxim stated, the Shariah “aimed towards freedom.”

As Muslims spread out across the globe and new peoples and cultures entered the faith, existing traditions of slavery took on an Islamic veneer. Sometimes the humane values of the Shariah prevailed. Sometimes local customs and systems of exploitation continued, moderated only a little by God’s law. Slavery in Islam was never tied to one race, but in certain times and places it could become racialized, as happened with the prevalence of black African slaves in Egypt in the 1700s-1800s.

Slavery of some sort has existed in almost every human society since the dawn of time. Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Aristotle and Plato all considered the slavery in their times to be accepted features of life. Islam considered slavery, even in its restricted form, to be an ‘incapacity,’ an injustice (zulm), as the Muslim jurist Shaybani called it around the year 800 CE.  But it was an economic and social condition, and it was usually temporary. As economic life changed in the 1800s, Muslim societies saw that this institution could be gotten rid of completely. The great Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abu Zahra summed it up: Islam would welcome a day when slavery was banned.

The deep disgust we feel at slavery is precisely why we need to talk about it. Slavery in Islam raises the critical question of how we as Muslims deal with elements of our tradition that clash with values we feel deeply today. It forces us to think about whether right and wrong change over time. If they do, can we make universal claims about morality? Can we judge people in the past by present-day values, and can the past make moral demands on us today? If, on the other hand, right and wrong are fixed and don’t change over time, then who in history defines them? Jesus or modern human rights? Aristotle or Lincoln? The Quran clearly sought to restrict and regulate slavery in Arabia at the time, and there’s a strong argument that it aimed to end slavery altogether.  The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) freed every slave given to him. But how do I as a Muslim deal with the fact that God and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not abolish slavery altogether? Would it have been too economically disruptive, so that gradual abolition would be better? This was the answer offered by the famous scholar Rashid Rida, who pointed to the challenges America faced in integrating former slaves after the Civil War.

As a Muslim today, I can say emphatically that slavery is wrong and that Islam prohibits it. This has been the consensus of the ulama, and it’s well within the power of states to prohibit what was previously allowed if doing so serves some public interest (maslaha) (this is known as taqyid al-mubah, restricting the permitted). It’s easy for me to say this looking back on slavery in American history, because our American slavery was a manifestation of the absolute domination of one human being by another that is, in my opinion, a universal wrong across time and space.

You can download my first paper on the issue here (download), and follow along for the next two on the subject.

Stoke byelection: Lib Dems alert police over text urging Muslims to vote Labour

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 February, 2017 - 14:23

Labour says it doesn’t know who sent the text suggesting voters could go to hell if they helped elect Ukip’s Paul Nuttall

The Lib Dems have alerted the police after messages sent to some Muslim voters in Stoke-on-Trent suggested they could go to hell if they failed to vote Labour to keep out Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

The anonymous message, distributed locally to some in the Muslim community by text and Whatsapp, called for people to vote Labour so as not to help “enemies of Islam”.

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Trump’s dangerous delusions about Islam | Christopher de Bellaigue

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 February, 2017 - 06:00

The president and his advisers paint Muslims as enemies of modernity. The neglected history of an age of Middle Eastern liberalism proves them wrong

In the aftermath of the attacks of 11 September 2001, amid the grief and rage that followed the toppling of the World Trade Center, President George W Bush did not declare war on Islam. “These acts of violence against innocents,” he told Americans in the week after 3,000 people were killed by Muslim terrorists, “violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.” The war that Bush went on to declare soon thereafter was not against a religion, but against “terror” – and within that baggy term, he focused on al-Qaida, “a fringe movement”, in Bush’s words, “that perverts the peaceful teaching of Islam”.

Bush’s tact may have been caused by a short-term desire to rein in attacks on American Muslims (and others mistaken for them, such as Sikhs) in the wake of 9/11. But it also served the longer view of the president and his advisers, who believed that the Muslim world, much like everywhere else, was capable of being improved by exposure to democracy, free market capitalism and individual freedoms. In this regard, Bush’s views were in line with the then-influential “end of history” thesis proposed by the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama in 1989. With the end of the cold war, Fukuyama argued, it was only a matter of time before western liberal democracy was recognised everywhere as the best form of government. By the turn of the century, the belief that we were witnessing “the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to western liberalism” was never more widely shared, and it lay behind one of Bush’s professed goals in invading Afghanistan and Iraq: to shepherd the Muslim world towards the universal ideology of liberalism.

The clashist view denies the possibility of a sustained and fruitful engagement between the lands of Islam and modernity

Revolutionaries in Iran and Turkey curtailed the powers of their hereditary rulers and set up parliamentary democracies

We already know what Trump’s reaction to the next atrocity will be: 'I told you so'

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Anatomy of a sell out: why Isis targets scholars for their engagement | Mostafa Rachwani

The Guardian World news: Islam - 16 February, 2017 - 04:46

Calling them ‘sell outs’, Isis has called for the killing of three Australian imams. Until Muslims can change the terms of engagement with state structures, we’ll continue to be labelled as such from across the political spectrum

I’ve been called many things in my time working for the Muslim community in Sydney, but there is a recurring name that has stuck: “sell out”. Although often associated with musical acts that move from indie niche to mainstream success, abandoning their fans and values in the meantime, it has come to mean something slightly different to Muslims.

To Muslims, selling out refers to making a compromise on your beliefs and is often associated with engagement with power structures. On the surface, this logic is based on the idea that engagement with these structures, especially in the west, can never be genuine and can never be on Muslim terms.

Related: Turnbull on Shorten: 'biggest glass jaw in Australian politics' – politics live

Related: If you want a response from the Muslim community, first understand it | Mostafa Rachwani

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Anti-Muslim hate groups nearly triple in US since last year, report finds

The Guardian World news: Islam - 15 February, 2017 - 21:00

Southern Poverty Law Center credited rise in racist and far-right groups to Donald Trump’s ‘incendiary rhetoric’ and his senior staff of ‘anti-Muslim ideologues’

The number of organized anti-Muslim hate groups in America nearly tripled last year, from 34 to more than 100, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-leaning non-profit that tracks extremist groups.

The center credited the “incendiary rhetoric” of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with fueling the rise in anti-Muslim hate, along with anger over terror attacks like the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last June.

Related: Steve Bannon's Islamophobic film script just one example of anti-Muslim views

Related: How Richard Spencer's home town weathered a neo-Nazi 'troll storm'

Related: Wife and stepson charged in murder of Ku Klux Klan leader in Missouri

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On the “Muslim Luther” fallacy that won’t die

Indigo Jo Blogs - 15 February, 2017 - 19:58

TV still of Graeme Wood facing from the side, with the words "Many have called for a 'reformation in Islam'" at the bottom, and the BBC Newsnight logo in the top leftLast night on BBC’s Newsnight, there was a two-minute slot by a Canadian journalist called Graeme Wood, who claimed that the rise of the “Islamic State” was equivalent to the Christian Reformation spearheaded by Martin Luther. There is meant to be a counter-argument from Tariq Ramadan on tonight’s programme (BBC2, 10:30pm). He says:

It’s part of a convulsion within Islam no smaller than the Reformation was in Christianity. When historians write about what happened, they won’t see it as a narrow local movement but as a global intellectual movement that remade the Muslim world. In the 16th Century, Martin Luther’s Reformation harnessed the power of the printing press and rising literacy. He told Christians to read and interpret scriptures for themselves, without the mediation of a priestly class that was obedient to Rome. Today’s radical Islamic movements are telling their followers to read the Qur’an for themselves and to ignore the voices of mainstream clergy. The result is a movement of power to the people.

For these Islamic Protestants, the power of liberation is not the printing press but the Internet. They follow their new authorities on YouTube. These new authorities are less, not more, inclined to live harmoniously in the modern world. This isn’t new. Remember, Martin Luther was radical too and the Reformation he started was a bloodbath. Many have called for a “Reformation in Islam”, hoping to make it more compatible with Western norms. But these calls are at least a decade too late. The reformation is already here and it’s called the rise of the Islamic State.

His own theory comes at least a year too late, as the “Islamic State” has been losing territory for the past year or so and has been chased out of several of its former strongholds, especially in Iraq. But the Islamic State movement has no real parallel with Luther’s theologically-based reforms. Luther was not, at least initially, interested in statecraft; he already lived in a state (the Holy Roman Empire) which was Catholic in affiliation and which enforced Church doctrines, including trying and executing heretics. His protest (not initially intended as a schism) was against what he saw as corruption in the Church, particularly the sale of indulgences to fund construction projects, such as the Basilica in Rome. He never served in, much less led, an army in his life. Lutheran kingdoms emerged as German dukes adopted the new faith in order to challenge the power of the Holy Roman Emperor, leading to its loss of power in northern Germany.

ISIL does not lead a theological protest; its priority is establishing an Islamic state which cuts across the colonial boundaries. This aspect of it alone makes it appealing to many Muslims who had become disenchanted with al-Qa’ida whose tactics of terrorism had achieved nothing in 20 years; the idea of a Caliphate, of one political leader for the Muslims, can be found in any classical Islamic textbook even if there was rarely unity in reality, and has been a goal of Muslim activists of all stripes for decades. ISIL’s theological heritage is “salafi-jihadi”, the same as al-Qa’ida, yet it is well-known that the business of running a modern state was left to former Ba’athists; its leaders are known not to be scholars, even within the “salafi”, i.e. Wahhabi, movement they emerged from. There have been comparisons of this movement with Protestantism going back years, but even there the parallels are limited.

It is well-known that in the Mediaeval Catholic church, the Bible was not available in vernacular languages such as English or German. It was only available in Latin and ancient Greek, neither of which were spoken languages by Luther’s time. The average Catholic was not literate; religious learning was restricted to ‘religious’, who were celibate. This had never been the case in the Muslim world; Muslims were encouraged to read and memorise the Qur’an for themselves and to learn and memorise the sayings of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), called Hadith, and this was the case before and after Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and it is the case in Baghdad and the case in Raqqa. No Muslims regard it as acceptable for ordinary Muslims to simply read the Qur’an or whatever Hadith are available to them and derive a ruling about the Sacred Law from them, especially in regard to acts of worship where the rulings are already settled. The challenges to some such rulings that have come from Wahhabis are the work of scholars, not ordinary people. And neither movement moved “power to the people”; both led to the formation of absolute monarchies which in the case of Saudi Arabia still exist.

It’s true that for years, people have been insisting that Islam “needs a reformation”, when in fact the Christian reformation did not lead to modern secularism but to years of conflict (much of the bloodshed committed by the Catholics trying to maintain their power, and later expand it in Africa and South America), although it did make room for the expansion of literacy, including in the Catholic world where the church did come round to the idea of vernacular Bibles. And as for the suggestion that a reformation of Islam would make it more acceptable to Western norms — Luther was not looking to make Christianity more acceptable to anyone else; he was looking to reform Christian practice for the sake of truth to please God, much as any sincere Muslim who advocated any kind of reform would be.

All in all, I found his slot to be a rather uninformed and dated argument. The “Islamic State” has its roots in a puritanical reform movement, yes, but it is not that movement itself, and it is not similar to the early Lutheran reformation either in its aims or its behaviour.

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“Muslim-Free America” Signange On College Campuses

Loon Watch - 15 February, 2017 - 16:25

An organization calling itself “American Vanguard” is taking responsibility for genocidalist signage popping up around university campuses in the US.

A number of colleges across the United States have seen Islamophobic and white supremacist flyers posted across their campuses.

A picture of racist posters hung at Rutgers University in New Jersey were shared on Twitter by writer Azmia, who explained that they’d been sent to her by a colleague. Continue reading…

So is this new “Vanguard” group just a bunch of embolden dolts who think that Trump’s victory is a green light to attempt to terrorize Muslims and undermine American plurality? Seems like it.


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