Fasaad watch: the continuing obsession with the Jersey Coptic murders

The other day I suddenly decided to rip down my other blog, The Vane. I can only write so much in one day, and I don’t have the whole day to write (unlike some people). The theme, elegant as it was, slowed down every single web browser I tried it on. Very few people stopped by, and I was hoping that the writers would include people other than me (I can do this with WordPress, as being a GPL package, you can use it, without limitation, for free; Movable Type is a commercial package with a restricted free licence - you can’t have group blogs unless you pay Six Apart).

Robert Spencer has lately taken on a “Vice President” named Hugh Fitzgerald, and put the notorious Ibn Warraq onto the board. I first came across Spencer after seeing his two blogs linked off Little Green Footballs, which has become proverbial for irrational anti-Arab and anti-Muslim ravings in the comments. LGF is a web-design company, and in the aftermath of 9/11, the blog turned from being mostly about web-design issues to being a hawkish pro-war blog, and acquired a fanatical Zionist commenter base. LGF did the web design for Spencer’s two blogs. Jihad Watch and Dhimmi Watch, being run by someone with an academic record who regularly crops up as an “expert” in the US media and (sometimes) abroad, have a spurious intellectual air. His lieutenants and associates, like Fitzgerald and DC Watson, are somewhat more unbridled. The recent surge in articles by Hugh Fitzgerald has coincided with the terrible murders in Jersey City of a Coptic family, at least two of which were known for their vehement pro-Coptic and anti-Islamic stance on certain online forums. His most recent article on Jihad Watch, “On the commanded and prohibited in Islam”, examines what Fitzgerald sees as the “polarities” by which Muslims see the world.

Islam is based on divisions, or perhaps one should say polarities. And these polarities explain the widespread bipolar disorder of Muslim peoples, swinging from gloom (as in June, 1967) to elation (as on the afternoon of September 11, 2001).

These two incidents concern the Palestinian occupation, and the celebration of the 9/11 attacks which were (allegedly) seen in Palestine. If Palestinians celebrated, it was because they saw the friend of their enemy suffer. Some Muslim scholars in fact condemned these celebrations, but the fact remains that the US has harmed Palestinians, by giving massive amounts of aid to Israel, to a far greater extent than Palestinians have ever harmed the USA. Actually, most Muslims were not elated about the 9/11 attacks. They were appalled, or scared. Some had a “chickens coming home to roost” type of response. That’s not the same as being elated.

For Infidels, the main polarity to be aware of in Islam is the absolute divide between the Believer and the Unbeliever.

Correct. A person is either a Muslim or he isn’t. You can’t be half a Muslim.

Fellow Believers must be supported, must never have war made upon them in the service of Unbelievers (or Infidels). Unbelievers, on the other hand, must not be taken as friends “Christians and Jews are friends with each other”), not be treated as equals but subject to all sorts of disabilities, and while they may be exploited in every possible way, that exploitation should not lead to any felt gratitude toward the Infidels.

The verse in the Qur’an which tells us not to take the People of the Book as our allies, and that they are friends of each other, is clearly borne out by the Christians’ recent support for the Israelis, against even their fellow Christians among the Palestinians. I have never heard any Islamic injunction giving us the right to “exploit [non-Muslims] in every possible way”, nor to harbour or exhibit ingratitude towards them. Rather, we (as a group) are warned that they (as a group) have their own agenda, and that if they wish to assist us in something, it may well be for their own ends, and that we should therefore not take them (as a group) as allies.

The Iraqi who told an NPR interviewer (Deborah Amos) on Jan. 22 that the Americans “must leave” but only after they “stop terrorism” and “fix everything,” was perfectly willing to have American soldiers fight and die to end terrorism by some Muslims, for the sake of other Muslims who apparently disagree with the President’s notion that “freedom isn’t free” (they are quite content, at least, to pay for that “freedom” not out of their own pockets, but to pick the pockets of the obliging, trusting, ever-generous and hopeful Americans).

The Iraqis don’t want to pick the pockets of the ever-generous Americans; they want them to put right what they have sown by invading, replacing order (if a tyrannical order) with chaos, and by their trade embargo which lasted more than a decade, prohibiting them from trading with the outside world (and ruining their once world-class health and education systems).

If the Shi’a are now “supporting the elections, it is only because they know they will win those elections, and not because they have, all of a sudden, become staunch democrats and great readers of The Federalist and John Stuart Mill. They will bide their time, take power, and continue to regard all Infidels as “najis” or unclean.

There is probably some truth in this except that Sistani and his teacher, Imam Khu’i, rejected the Iranian Wilayat-e-Faqih (scholar’s rule) model. A government led by Sistani or his followers is unlikely to turn into a copy of Iran.

Despite the opinions expressed by some, including the convert to Sufi Islam Stephen Schwartz, or Reuel Gerecht, who assured a CNN audience that the Islamic Republic of Iran had “run its course” more than a decade ago, and therefore presumably, we can stop worrying about it – unfortunately someone forgot to tell the Teheran regime that it had “run its course” and its time was up, and that it really should stop constructing those nuclear weapons.

The régime has “run its course” certainly in terms of being able to command the loyalty of Muslims, particularly Sunnis, outside Iran’s borders. Khomeini received enormous support for the Rushdie fatwa from uneducated Muslims in countries like the UK. Others, particularly scholars, continued to regard them as extreme heretics and, in some cases, disbelievers. Iran and Saudi Arabia were hostile for many years - a Wahhabi anti-Iranian tract called The Mirage in Iran was translated by Bilal Philips, and a Saudi imam called al-Hudhaifi became a celebrity after delivering an anti-Iranian khutba. This does not mean that Iran has run its course, or that Iran’s government will not build up the country’s defences, against explicit external threat, as they see fit.

Shi’a as compared to Sunni may in Iraq, as in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, be slightly more sinned against than sinning, but this does not make them the friends of Infidels. Americans should expect no gratitude for having rescued them from the monstrous regime of Saddam Hussein, which had lasted for 35 years, and was prepared to last for another 35.

And why should they be grateful, as they rebelled against Saddam Hussain after the Gulf War. You had the opportunity to help them (and the Kurds) then, and you failed. In fact, they were subject to the same sanctions as the Sunnis of Baghdad.

The division between Believer and Infidel in the world is mirrored in how the world itself is divided, between Dar al-Islam, the lands were Islam rules and Muslims dominate (though they need not be a majority of the population), and dar al-harb, the House of War, where Infidels, for now, have not yet been conquered, by whatever means, and subjugated to Islam.

This is a myth; Dar al-Harb means the lands which are under enemy non-Muslim control. Muslims who find themselves in such lands are absolved of certain duties towards non-Muslims which other Muslims living in Muslim and non-Muslim lands must follow. Notably, some scholars allow Muslims to take usury from hostile non-Muslims in hostile land. Shaikh Nuh Keller, in a note to a commentary on this issue in the Reliance of the Traveller (Beltsville, MD, 1997 edition), wrote that Dar al-Harb means those countries with which the Muslim countries are at war, in the light of which “there is virtually no country on the face of the earth where a Muslim has an excuse to behave differently than he would in an Islamic country, whether in his commercial or other dealings” (w43.6; the discussion arose from a fatwa from the Mufti of Deoband about dealing in usury with non-Muslims in India, a country with a long history of both internal and external hostility against different groups of Muslims).

The divisions of the great world are mirrored in the divisions that rule all of life. Everything one does is either halal (permited, licit) or haram (prohibited, illicit). It is all laid down, or if not laid down in some book, then a fatwa or opinion may serve as the final guide of how a Muslim should act.

Islam is not the only religion which places prohibitions and rules on various aspects of life. Not every religion is as vague and wishy-washy as Christianity is. What do you find wrong in this? If we do not know, we ask those who do - what do you find wrong with this?

Muslims living in the Lands of the Infidels face new questions. May they, for example, obey Infidel laws? (Answer: Only to the extent that those laws do not contravene Islam.)

Which they almost invariably don’t (for example, laws like speed limits), and those that do, make things forbidden which Islam allows (such as a man taking two wives), or allow what Islam forbids (like illicit sex or eating pork). None of these pose a problem for Muslims, who sometimes take second wives without registering the marriage (as a non-Muslim takes a mistress or begins whatever relationship he likes without informing the state) and we somehow manage to abstain from pork. Muslims also pay their taxes, despite these taxes being spent on military operations which harm Muslims elsewhere.

Where these laws do force us to break Islamic law, then if all else fails, we emigrate.

Now a good guide to what is halal and what is haram is Al-Halal wal Haram fil Islam by the well-known Qaradawi, who now lives in Qatar (also the home of Al-Jazeera). Hairdos in the shape of a camel’s hump? Haram. Statues that have not been vandalized or defaced? Haram. A nice glass of fruit juice? Halal. A leg of lamb, from a lamb that has been killed in the Halal manner (oops, this is a trick question). Halal.

The “camel’s hump hairdos” were specifically mentioned by the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam); again, we are not the only people with a religion which bans certain fashions. The making and keeping of statues is forbidden when they have a face, as this implies an attempt at mimicking Almighty God in His creation. As for the foods mentioned, people sometimes ask the shaikhs questions about things others have told them are wrong because “the kuffar do them” - and here, the shaikh reassured them that these pleasures are quite OK. It’s also necessary to distinguish between ethnic customs and religious ones - cuisines, in particular, are eaten by whoever has access to the ingredients.

A few years ago Michael Cook wrote his Commanding Right and Prohibiting Wrong in Islam. In Christianity, one is expected to promote what is “right”, and to discourage people from doing “wrong.” The Christian version of Cook’s book would be Commending Right and Discouraging Wrong. What a difference a vowel makes. Islam is all about power; Islam commands, Islam forbids, Islam demands of Believers absolute slavish submissiveness to the Rules of Islam. And Unbelievers, too, must obey the rules of the game, for if they are allowed to live, they owe their very lives to Muslims who have generously permitted that – in return for behaving as dhimmis, and for not putting up resistance to the spread of Islam.

In Islam, the average person only has the ability to recommend or discourage; as in every other culture, commanding and forbidding (with force) is the province of the authorities. If a common person steps into that province, he may be punished, even if it is something which is not a sin in itself. For example, the penalty for murder, or other crimes involving injury, is retaliation in kind. But if the family of a murdered person decide, without recourse to the authorities, to simply kill the person responsible, they may be “disciplined”, even though the killing is not a sin. Similarly, if someone kills a member of your family, Hugh, and you respond by locking them in your attic or cellar for a decade or more and feed him on bread and water, even though that may be the penalty in your state or country, you will be up on a charge of kidnapping and false imprisonment. As for “slavish adherence”, Islam makes it clear that the only real slavery is to Allah Almighty. This is a far cry from the slavish following exhibited by the followers of Mao Zedong or Adolf Hitler, or various religious cult leaders like David Berg.

The Armanious family had overstepped those rules. The father, who defended the Copts and attacked the treatment they had historically received from Muslims, expressed these views on Muslim websites. Sylvia the 15-year-old daughter, was proud to defend, even to promote among others, her own faith. Either the father, or Sylvia, or perhaps both of them, had violated what is demanded of dhimmis.

The Armanious family lived in New Jersey, and the laws of Islam do not apply in New Jersey. That’s all there is to it! Non-Muslims who choose to live, or remain, in Muslim-ruled countries know that they are not entitled to insult Islam, except in what simply states their differences from us. Enforcement of that is the province of the state, not ordinary people, but where the laws simply don’t apply, because the Christians in question lived in a Christian country with a religiously-neutral state, none of this matters, because Muslims live here knowing that the laws of Islam don’t apply. Whoever did do this may well get the death penalty, and Muslims cannot complain, because they knew that was the law.

This murder was not “strictly halal”; as everyone who knows about this subject knows, the fanatics interpret the Book and the Sunna to give them licence to do the things they see fit to do. This includes declaring some (in some cases, most!) Muslims to be non-Muslims, and to absolve themselves of the rights other people, including non-Muslims, have over them. To paraphrase the judge in the shoe-bomber case, these people were not soldiers in any war; they are a species of criminal.

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