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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Death Threats from Muslims

Dear Sir: I read your article about Islam. It contains a lot of things that are not true? I have a question for you: is it ingorance or malice that prompted you to write these things? If ignorance, I believe you should write another article, apologizing for making these canards. If malice, I ask God Almighty to strike you with a malignant cancer within 3-6 months. If you don't apologize within five days, I will pray daily and nightly for this punishment to befall you.
Khalid Amayreh, Jerusalem

This lovely e-mail was the response I received to an article entitled Coulter Wars, an article that points out some of the problems in Muslim theology. Now, to be fair, I have also written an article that praised aspects of Muslim theology. After all, their emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving is quite laudable, and their respect for the Blessed Virgin Mary is immense. Still, Muslim theological law, called sharia, is simply an abomination, and it was both the history of Islam and the implementation of sharia that merited Khalid's attempt at Islamic voodoo.

Now some of Khalid’s odd habits of conversation may be due to the simple fact that he claims to be a well-respected Muslim journalist. The combination of "well-respected journalist" and "Muslim" should certainly have been a warning for what was to come.

When I asked precisely what "canards" he had found, he gave the following list:

Khalid’s First Objection: "Children to be whipped to death for breaking Ramadan fast. This false, brazenly false. Children, as well as ill people, elderly people, traveling people, nursing women, and women having their menstrual periods, don't have to fast. (surat Bakara). Also people working really difficult jobs don't have to fast if this undermines their health. Besides, fasting is a private affair between man and God..."

My response: Unfortunately for Khalid, some imams seem to disagree with him, as this story documented:

"A 14 year old boy died on Thursday, November 11th [2004], after having received 85 lashes; according to the ruling of the Mullah judge of the public circuit court in the town of Sanandadj he was guilty of breaking his fast during the month of Ramadan."
Khalid’s Second Objection: Women to be beaten to death by their husband for the smallest infraction. This is brazenly false. In Islam, the death penalty is prescribed only in three cases, murder, adultery (for men or women) and apostasy.

My response: Not according to this story.

Khalid’s Third Objection: Marriage by the age of six is alright: This is not true...No body in our part of the world is allowed to marry below the age of 17 for women and 18 for men. I challenge you to cite a single marriage of (six years or even ten) sanctioned by a Sharia court...all over the Muslim world. You wouldn't find such a thing.

My response: See the link above and this. In Gaza fully one-third of girls were married below the statutory "legal" minimum age of 17. Iran just recently RAISED the age of consent to 13 in 2002. It was 9 (and probably still is in outlying provinces) according to this story and this one.

Khalid’s Fourth Objection: The examples you refer to are not examples of true sharia.
My response: Unfortunately, sharia is only loosely based on the Quran or the Hadiths (the sayings of Mohammed). It is primarily drawn from the opinions of Islamic scholars. Although Khalid knew that, he insisted that I provide Quranic verses to back up what I said.

I pointed out that even his Islamic scholars couldn’t do that, since sharia is not strictly based on just the Quran. He didn’t respond.

As one might imagine, what constitutes sharia varies wildly depending on exactly where you are and what court you stand in front of. The differences between imams – Shia, Sunni, Wahabbi, etc. – is essentially as different as the differences between Anglicans, Baptists, Unitarians and the like, with no one to say what is true Islam anymore than there is someone to say what is true Protestantism or evangelicalism. What you get from Islam depends on which imam you happen to stand in front of today.

I asked him how he, as a journalist with no formal theological training in Islam, could prove he had any authority to tell me what was and was not Islam. Again, he didn't respond.

Khalid’s Fifth Objection: Sex with a child of nine is fine: Where are you reading these things? Are you alluding to the Prophet's marriage with Aisha? There are different narratives about how old she was when she married. Some say nine, some say 10, but many say 15 years old. So, I would say she was probably 15 or sixteen when she married the Prophet, not nine. In Arabia a fifteen years old...or even 13 is quite a woman...Same thing in Africa!

My response: Khalid, your own sources agree with me and you just said so.

Khalid’s Sixth Objection: Adoption is illegal, it is not the adoption itself that is illegal, it is naming the adopted after the adopter's name...In other words, the adopted child ought to retain his identity, if it does, then everything is Ok.

My response: Khalid, you are not telling the truth. Go here and here.

Khalid’s Seventh Objection: Prostitution to service soldiers is illegal. How could you say that, Islam is very very strict about prohibiting these things...unrepentant prostitutes are given the death penalty. Prostitution is strictly, absolutely and completely prohibited. It is one of the most disgraceful vice in Islam.

My response: Not according to this woman.

When shown the links, he responded, "You are wrong about temporary marriages, this exists in Shia Islam, not in Sunni Islam. In Sunni Islam, marriage is a permanent bond between a man and a woman…" So temporary marriages – prostitution – exists and he admits it. He just doesn’t happen to be a Shiite so he doesn't like it.

Khalid’s Eighth Objection: polygamy is allowed provided there is justice in treating the wives.

My response: So there is no "canard" here.

Khalid’s Ninth Objection: A man can invoke divorce by simply repeating the word "divorce" three times. This is no longer valid, it has to be done before a Sharia court. Because the divorce invoked by an angry man, a drunkard, and one who is not in real control of his mental ability is invalid. Also, the divorce doesn't occur in case of teasing, joking, jest, etc.

My response: But a man CAN divorce his wife by simply repeating the word "divorce" three times. He does it in front of a sharia court, he's divorced - you just agreed that what I said was correct, Khalid. And just because SOME sharia courts require the man to appear doesn't mean ALL of them do, does it?

Khalid’s Tenth Objection: A woman's testimony in court is not equal to a man's ...This would depend on the nature of the case. In financial matters, yes, you are right. But in other situations, like maternal matters, sexual matters, her testimony equals that of a man...Some times, her testimony is given priority over a man's testimony.

My response: Her testimony is not equal to a man’s in sexual matters. To prove rape, her word is not good enough. Four Muslim men of "impeccable" character have to have witnessed the penetration (that’s what makes them impeccable – they can watch a girl get raped and do nothing). So, you aren’t telling the whole truth and what parts you do tell just show that I told the truth. Nothing to recant here - you said so yourself.

Khalid’s Eleventh Objection: She can be stoned to death for being raped? How could you say that? This is a colossal canard? the opposite is true...She should be protected and defended. She is the victim, and her rapist should be punished severely.

My response: Sorry, but here’s the documentation and here is more.

Khalid’s Twelfth Objection: She can be raped in order to punish her relative for their infractions. Again this is another canard...How could say these things? This is nonsense.

My response: Documentation here and here. Back in October, when this hit the front pages, it was pointed out that the only reason the men were prosecuted for rape was due to Western interference in the trial. It is, apparently, quite common for Pakistani villages to order retaliatory rapes of women whose relatives commit infractions within the village. Again, tell me that this is not permitted? How can you do this? Islam has no central authority who determines what is true Islam and what is not - just a bunch of competing imams.

Khalid’s Thirteenth Objection: Islam discourages slavery..and urges Muslims to liquidate it...It was rampant in the 6th-century Arabia...and Islam followed a step-by-step approach to eradicate it...There are no slaves today in the Muslim world as far as I know. (slavery is rife in the Bible).
My response: Khalid, slave armies were still being used by Muslims in 1863. Check here and here.

Khalid’s Fourteenth Objection: Female circumcision is an old African custom..., it has nothing to do with Islam...

My response: The World Health Organization estimates that 130 million women and girls, most of them in 28 African countries, have been subjected to genital mutilation. Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan account for 75 percent of the cases. Circumcision is practiced on young girls to a lesser extent in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and India, which have sizable Muslim populations. The practice is believed to have started 4,000 years ago before the advent of organized religion. It is performed primarily, but not solely, by Muslims because of what many say is a misconception that it is required by Islam.

It may not have anything to do with Islam, but the fact is, most of the people doing it today are Islamic and THEY think it DOES have something to do with Islam.

Khalid’s Fifteenth Objection: The first dozen caliphs were assassinated, not true.

My response: This is the only point upon which you have me. The first four caliphs were assassinated. Abu Bakr died of poisoning, Umar was assassinated by a dagger-wielding assailant, Uthman was assassinated by a mob, Ali was assassinated in a mosque in Kufa. Mu'awiya died a natural death only because he barely survived a battle intended to kill him. His son, Yazid, avoided assassination primarily because he got to the knife first. He assassinated his rival, Hasain, and all his followers, including his infant son.

Khalid’s Fifteenth Objection: We Muslims are rational thinkers...we don't follow blindly our imams..We have the Quran..the eternal word of God, the Last Testament to mankind...Read it ...maybe you will see the the millions of American and European Christians who have reverted to Islam...

My response: Khalid, you know perfectly well that there are at least a dozen different versions of Islam, all of which say they follow "the eternal word of God.. the Quran". The fact is, none of you can agree on what it means. There is no caliph, my friend, and one interpretation is just as good as another. If Muslim theology encouraged rational thinking, Muslims would have invented science. You didn't, even though you had at least a five hundred year head start on the West. You still can't do science - you have to buy it from the Christians. In Christianity, science developed under the rationality of Catholic Faith. Christianity also has a supreme head: the Pope. True, not everyone listens to him, but he is there and has always been there. The office of Caliph doesn't even exist anymore and will never be reconstituted. You don't have a supreme voice, nor even the pretense of one.

Khalid: Does your negative attitude towards Islam mean that we have to increase the number of our nuclear weapons to defend ourselves?

My response: Khalid, you can barely build one nuclear weapon, much less dozens. You’re Islamic, remember? You can't do science very well. You can’t even figure out how to buy them from the former USSR on the black market. You aren’t very good at threatening people, are you?

Khalid: Is this how evanglical Christians think? war, holocaust, killing...crusades...killing people because you love them!!!

My response: No, that's how Islam thinks. Christians think we have to defend ourselves, i.e., keep anyone from imposing sharia on us or on anyone else. Sharia is evil, my friend, pure evil. And as for the Crusades, give it a rest. Islam conquered one-half of Christianity between 632 and 750. We didn’t call crusade. Islam cut off pilgrimage access to the Holy Lands. We started the stations of the Cross devotion in response. Only when Islam destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was Crusade called, and that was only after 400 years of Islamic military provocation. Even then, we didn’t attempt to wipe out Mecca or Medina. We stopped when we got Jerusalem and the holy sites back.

Khalid: Muslims protected the Churches, they never destroyed any church as you claim. You are relying on questionable sources. That is why no respectable newspapepr would publish your article.
My response: The fact that Muslims destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is common knowledge available in any encyclopedia. See this article, for instance:

In 1009, however, the Fatimid Caliph al-Hakin ordered the destruction of all churches in Jerusalem, including the Holy Sepulchre. Christians were forbidden to visit the Church's ruins. It took almost forty years for the Byzantine Emperor to negotiate a peace treaty with al-Hakin's successor that granted him permission to rebuild the Holy Sepulchre.

Khalid: I have decided to translate your article into Arabic and will post it tomorrow in all the mosques in our area. I will also try to get it published in our Arabic language newspapers. Our peole have the right to know what Christians are plotting against them. I hope you don't mind.

My response: Whatever makes you happy, Khalid.

So, this how a self-described prominent Muslim journalist argues. First, he prays that you will get cancer and die. Then he brings forward objections which he knows are false. When you show him that you know he is a liar, he threatens to nuke your country and bring a fatwah, a death sentence, against you personally by posting your refutations in every mosque and newspaper he can reach.
And this is a moderate Muslim. Just think what the immoderate Muslims would do…

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