Palazzi reveals his disbelief

Massimo “Abdul-Hadi” Palazzi hasn’t been heard from much lately in the sections of the Internet I inhabit - a couple of years ago one of his minions was a persistent presence on one of the Yahoo groups on which I’m a regular. Palazzi pretends to be not only a Muslim, but also a shaikh, and is a darling of a number of Zionist organisations, whom he tells that Islam says pretty much what they want to hear. It’s no surprise that he has joined the list of interviewees on Front Page Magazine, a source for anyone who wants “conservative” - in this case neo-conservative - commentary on anything; a place where “the Right” is always right (except for people like Pat Buchanan). The interviews are conducted by their managing editor, Jamie Glazov. I’ve been asked to write a piece on Glazov in the past due to his sexual smears on Islam and Muslims.

Most of the pieces which appear under Glazov’s byline are, in fact, interviews. To take a recent example, he conducted an interview with Ralph Peters, “a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who served in infantry and intelligence units before becoming a Foreign Area Officer and a global strategic scout for the Pentagon”, who has “published three books on strategy and military affairs, as well as hundreds of columns for the New York Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and other publications”. He has also published a novel, The War in 2020, about a war in which the USA, with a secret weapon, comes to the aid of a USSR “overrun by a Japanese-supported Islamic army”, about which Publishers’ Weekly, according to its Amazon page, said that “Peters risks offense with his portrayal of Muslims as bloodthirsty savages”.

Peters has hardly changed his tune since he wrote TWI2020; in his recent interview, he alleges that “women are tormented by bitter old men in religious robes”, an absurd statement given that these men have wives of their own and, therefore, no reason to be bitter unless he thinks we all like to swing. Peters calls the cultures of the Middle East “sexually infantile” and the men “terrified of female sexuality” and “terrified of their feared inadequacy”. Oh, and closet homosexuals too; the fact that “very few Middle Eastern mothers would trust their good-looking young sons around many adult males … has deep roots, right back to the celebrations of the Emperor Babur’s fixation on a pretty boy in the Baburnama”. Babur was the Mongol ruler of northern India, and his rule never reached the Middle East. I’d be very surprised if the Baburnama is widely-read in the Arabic-speaking world. (I’ve just started reading, on the recommendation of Shaikh Nuh, Michael Scheuer’s book Imperial Hubris, in which the former CIA agent calls this type of material “simply fatuous”.)

Glazov’s own prejudices can be found in a whole series of stereotype-laden diatribes. Like this one, in which he alleges that, in the Middle East, when “a non-child (a girl) is born, the mother becomes ashamed and the father usually flies into a rage”. Or this one, from the same month (October 2001) and citing the same source (Nawal el-Saadawi), in which he relates female circumcision to male hatred of female sexuality, when everyone knows that in most places it is usually carried out by women on girls. Or this one, from November 2001, in which he inveighs against male circumcision as well, alleging that Islamic scholars as well as Thomas Aquinas and Maimonides (all bases covered there) had “affirmed that the objective of male circumcision was to reduce sexual pleasure”. I have personally read a letter in the London Observer (before they started their online archive, it seems) from a man who said his sex life improved after his circumcision; I wonder if Glazov is able to make the comparison.

Anyway, you wonder why a Muslim shaikh would do an interview with this dirty-minded waffler. But the director of the so-called “Cultural Institute of the Italian Islamic Community” is no ordinary shaikh - he seems to have dedicated his entire “scholarly career” to trying to persuade Muslims that they should accept Israel and reject anyone who opposes it, and no doubt because he can’t get a platform in any mosque where his politics are known, he addresses Jewish audiences. And they love him! His attitudes to the Palestinians are, in fact, even more extreme than those of some Zionists.

I’ve always thought that his statements on the Israel-Palestine issue couldn’t come from a Muslim. He seems to have had an amazingly long career; before managing to get his supposed “Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences by decree of the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia” and undertaking “years of study with Islamic teachers in Cairo and Europe”, this article gives a potted history of his pre-Islamic career:

… this former Mormon, former right-wing neo-Pagan, former member of [David] Berg’s “Children of God” and former Rajneesh devotee, who boasts of being a “Knight of Grand Cross with Silver Plate” of the self-styled “dynastic” order of the Mussolini family, as well as the “Grand Chancellor and Preceptor for the Italian Language of the Supreme Solomonic Order of the Princes of Shekal.” Palazzi also claims several other titles, including that of “Professor in the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Velletri in Rome, Italy.” There is no university in Velletri

Of course, nobody’s pre-Islamic career should have any impact on their reputation as a Muslim if they make good their Islam. The problem comes if they don’t, and Palazzi’s association with the Root and Branch Association (see here, in which Palazzi, a “Muslim”, gives a Jewish greeting to a Muslim ruler for “crushing Hamas”, or here, containing all the references to Palazzi on the RBA’s site; they even have an “ask the Imam” section!) suggests that he really hasn’t. This page gives some indication as to the RBA’s positions; the reader might judge for him- or herself whether any of this is compatible with being a Muslim, let alone a shaikh.

Of course, not all Muslims are eaten up with anger at Israel or expect its imminent destruction. A lot of Muslims regard Yasir Arafat as corrupt, tyrannical and a sell-out and Hamas as extremist and its tactics unjustified in Islam. There is an obvious difference between a realistic stance on the Palestinian situation and allying oneself with Israel while opposing whatever Muslims say about it.

I’m not going to dwell too much on his actual pro-Israeli stance here, as its his best-known position and has already been dealt with adequately elsewhere. I want to deal with the falsehoods and distortions he uses to justify it. Palazzi continually emphasises the agreement between Chaim Weizmann and Emir Faisal which was signed in Paris in 1919, but neglects to mention that Faisal had reconsidered his co-operation with the Zionists very soon after the agreement, or that the agreement in any case took place above the heads of the Palestinian Arabs, whom both despised. Palazzi stupidly calls Faisal “leader of the Hashemite family”, the Hashemites being the house of the Prophet (sall’ Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), known as Ahl al-Bait, and a number of families around it, which, as you can imagine, makes for a very substantial number of people; Ahl al-Bait alone can be found across the whole of the Muslim world. It’s preposterous to suggest that Faisal was the leader of all of them.

Next, he poses a false dichotomy between Wahhabism, “a totalitarian cult which stands for terror, massacre of civilians and for permanent war against Jews, Christians and non-Wahhabi Muslims”, with the attitudes of Muslims everywhere that sect did not spread. To demonstrate, he cites a number of minor figures, one of whom became president of Indonesia, but it does not make him a “leading Muslim scholar”. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are hostile to Israel, because it occupies Muslim land and oppresses many of those living under its rule. This has nothing to do with Wahhabism. He cites a group calling itself “Muslims for Israel”, a group whose website is provided free of charge by “DomainNameSanity.com”, consists of just five links, all to external sites, and does not identify who is behind “Muslims for Israel”. He calls Irshad Manji a “pro-Israeli Muslim journalist from Canada”, when she in fact never was Muslim, and even so, a woman who does not dress like anything like a Muslim and has an openly anti-Islamic lifestyle can never be an example for Muslims. Her views, like fellow Isma’ili Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s, do not count for anything.

Glazov asks Palazzi about his view on suicide bombing; Palazzi’s reply goes into details about the status of people who die committing a sin while believing or not believing that it is a sin. His claim that “God’s mercy is such that it completely prevails over his wrath, to the point where hellfire ultimately becomes an abode of relief” is based on some extremely weak hadeeth; there is, however, worse to come. While the position itself that suicide bombing is forbidden in Islam is common (and, by the way, is the position advanced by the official scholars of Saudi Arabia), he presents it as a matter of doctrine, in that if you believe otherwise, you are not a Muslim. This position is not the usual one of people who say suicide bombing is against Islam. He also slanders al-Azhar, calling it “a nest of Wahhabi and neo-Salafi fanatics and extremists”, when in fact it is still dominated by scholars of the traditional four schools of thought. In fact, a reliable source (I believe Abdul-Hakim Murad) wrote that, to get entry to al-Azhar, you needed to attest to the rectitude of Imam Ghazali and al-Junaid al-Baghdadi, both of whom are opposed by Wahhabis. The corruption commonly associated with some Azhari scholars is liberalism, not Wahhabi extremism.

After a long discussion about Palazzi’s opinions of the late pope and the recently-elected one, they get down to talking of Wahhabism again. Al-Qa’ida, asserts Palazzi, is “a Saudi organization, created by the House of Sa’ud, funded with petro-dollar profits by the House of Sa’ud and used by the House of Sa’ud for acts of mass terror primarily against the West, and the rest of the world, as well”. If that is so, why did the Saudis drive Osama bin Laden out, first to Sudan, from which he later fled to Afghanistan, where he may or may not still be alive? He then insists that “to really win the War on Terror it is necessary for the U.S. to invade Saudi Arabia, capture King Abdallah and the other 1,500 princes who constitute the House of Sa’ud, to freeze their assets, to remove them from power, and to send them to Guantanamo for life imprisonment”, and then replace them with a pro-Western, Hashemite monarchy - a statement no Muslim would even consider making, and not even Stephen Schwartz has dared to make. It is not accepted in any legal framework, not in Islam nor in any western law, to imprison any whole extended family for life for the crimes of a number of them whom the accusers cannot personally identify.

Besides, the Saudi family are not the only rich people in Saudi Arabia, and the others may have less to lose from any fundamentalist takeover of the peninsula than they do. Shaikh Nuh Keller mentioned that it was “a wealthy trader from Jedda” who “brought to life the long-dead ‘aqida of Ibn Taymiya at the beginning of this century by financing the printing in Egypt of Ibn Taymiya’s Minhaj al-sunna al-nabawiyya and other works”. If it was a member of the Saudi royal family, one would have imagined that the shaikh would say this. That the Saudis have financed the spread of Wahhabism and caused untold fitna in many countries is not in dispute here; what’s in dispute is that Saudi Arabia itself directly sponsors al-Qa’ida. Anyone who has ever been in contact with people of jihadi persuasion and listened to jihadi lecture tapes, as I have, will know that the jihadis were violently hostile to Fahd and regarded him as an apostate.

I’m not going to dwell too much on the fatuities of the Glazov-Palazzi interview; one that sticks in the mind is his comparison between moving the settlers out of Gaza (something Glazov thinks is in Israel’s interests) and forcibly evicting Jews from New York to New Jersey, and using the language of genocide: “ethnic cleansing”, “a Judenrein Gaza”, “this racist policy”; another is his assertion that “Bush seriously risks becoming the most anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish President in the history of the U.S.”. He repeats the cliche that “descendants of Ishmael, the Arabs, have a gigantic territory extending from Morocco to Iraq”, while those of Isaac (‘alaihi as-salaam) “only have a tiny, narrow strip of land”. Of course, the large tracts belong to different Arabs than those that lived in Palestine. It’s a bit like saying that people in Essex shouldn’t object to being pushed off their lands by a foreign invader, because they are English and the English have territory all the way from Cornwall to Northumberland, when in fact this land is owned by other people than those in Essex.

Glazov asks Palazzi about the books he likes, and he replies:

Books I prefer reading are those dealing with spirituality. I am especially interested in the study of similarities between Sufism and Kabbalah, and consequently I consider “al-Futuhat al-Makkiyyah” by Ibn ‘Arabi and the “Zohar” as my basic sources. I am also interested in the study of non-monotheistic mysticism, and consequently appreciate the Upanishad, the Vedantasutra and the Purana of the Hindu tradition, the Buddhist Canon and the Greek Philokalia. I am also interested in the history of Middle East. Books such as “Battle Ground” by Shmuel Katz and “The Secret War Against the Jews” by John Loftus are among my favorites.

So, a “Muslim shaikh” mentions only two books by Muslims among his favourite books; he is more interested in non-Muslim mysticism than in reading about the religion he supposedly follows. For any Muslim, this really should speak volumes (no pun intended). He has rather more to say about music - obviously he’s fond of medieval “Islamic” music, and he also likes classical music and “jazz, especially from New Orleans”. He falsely attributes the position prohibiting instrumental music to Wahhabism, alleging that the Taliban “follow an Indian version of Saudi Wahhabism known as Deobandism” (in fact, Deobandis are primarily Hanafis of Maturidite doctrine; they have very few positions which are similar to Wahhabism). While chanting and singing are common, positions accepting the use of instruments are rare and weak. The mainstream position in all four schools is that musical instruments are forbidden. Again, nothing to do with Wahhabism.

Next, they get onto the subject of family relations and polygamy (this is in the second page). His views on a man being given “permission to lightly spank his wife and children if necessary to maintain discipline and as punishment for prohibited behavior” could at least get him arrested if he said them in France or Spain; his views on polygamy, however, are standard modernist rubbish. There is no evidence that Islam “established specific conditions under which polygamy may be practiced”. I agree that it is not best undertaken in a country where the law forbids it, something a lot of Muslims seem unwilling to accept. Glazov has the final word on this particular subject:

The notion that there is a Divine being that creates rules like this is, for me, completely absurd — and dangerous, since males will exploit these ludicrous self-created inventions in order to control and subjugate the opposite gender.

Glazov then diverts the discussion onto female circumcision; Palazzi, like Glazov, seems unaware that the practice is mostly carried out by women:

Suppose a country passes a law according to which parents in underdeveloped areas who practice Female Genital Circumcision (#1) upon their daughters are put in jail. The result will be that those parents who are put in jail will not even understand why this is happening to them. They will think, “I am sent to jail while I only did what my grandfather did to my mother, what my great grandfather did to my grandmother, and even the judge who is sending me to jail does so while I only did what his grandfather did to his mother, what his great grandfather did to his grandmother, etc.”

Glazov, true to type, then has the final word on this topic, and moves the discussion on again.

Palazzi finally reveals his un-Islamic beliefs in the last quarter of the long interview, when Glazov asks him whether non-Muslims, even atheists, can enter heaven:

When dealing with the abodes of the World to Come, we must avoid simplistic and anthropomorphic representations. Heaven is the condition wherein God’s glory is manifested to His creatures as mercy. Hellfire, on the contrary, is the condition wherein God’s glory is manifested to His creatures as judgment. A creature who does not believe in God cannot reach the level of seeing His glory manifested as mercy. He first needs to realize the presence of Divine glory through what he did not suppose to exist, i.e. through the punishment of hellfire. … God’s mercy prevails over His punishment, and a time will come when the inhabitants of hellfire while be enlightened by the glory of God which was manifested to them as punishment. At that point, hell will stop “burning” for them, and will become a place of “freshness”. Then the whole of the Creation will be redeemed, and everything which was manifested by God will come back to God. Everything will perish, except for God’s Face, i.e. except for the Divine Essence which is presently veiled and manifested under every existing thing.

This, of course, is at complete variance with the clearly-worded text of the Qur’an, and with numerous hadeeths. The topic is dealt with at length in the Reliance of the Traveller, not in the words of Shaikh Nuh or his contemporary teachers in Syria and Jordan, but of classical imams. Palazzi cites articles by Shaikh Nuh on his Cultural Institute’s page, so he shouldn’t have much trouble accepting him as an authority.

So, my impression that no Muslim would say what Palazzi does about the Palestine situation proves to be correct. Palazzi is not an ignorant backwoodsman; he is too knowledgeable to have the excuse of ignorance, and he makes a name for himself travelling the world, bad-mouthing Muslims to non-Muslims in the garb of an Islamic scholar. Whether he is part of any sinister conspiracy or is just a self-publicist looking for one bandwagon after another to jump on and then off again, as with so many of the other groups he has joined, is unknown to me. If he does not repent, he will eventually find out for himself whether the Hellfire for disbelievers becomes a place of freshness or not.

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