April 24, 2011
Rauf's Taqiyya Defense of IslamBy Peter Wilson
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, of Ground Zero Mosque fame, recently published an op-ed in a handful of regional newspapers, which I happened to catch in the Bangor (Maine) Daily News. Rauf sets out to undermine "5 Myths about Islam," coming to the defense of American Muslims who "have become the target of attacks...in a country in the grip of Islamophobia." Rauf means, of course, verbal and thought attacks, not the flying-jet-aircraft-into-office-buildings kind.
Myth #1: "American Muslims are foreigners."
Rauf repudiates this myth with the argument that 30% of slaves brought to America were Muslims. Scholars estimate that anywhere from 5% to 30% of slaves might have been Muslims from the Senegambia region of West Africa, but this isn't especially relevant. The Somalis in Minneapolis and the Iraqis and Syrians in Dearborn are not descendants of slaves who came here two centuries ago. Many Muslims certainly become patriotic American citizens, but an immigrant who maintains his primary allegiance to Islam, as many polls indicate is the case with a disturbing number of European Muslims, remains a foreigner.
It's also not advisable to bring up slavery when you're trying to defend Islam. The United States does not have clean hands in this story, but the number of slaves brought here was a mere 5% of the 11 million slaves brought across the Atlantic. The slave trade in East Africa was far larger, with an estimated 28 million Africans abducted to the Muslim Middle East. The death rate in the Muslim slave caravans was an astounding 80%. On arrival, men were castrated and women were sold as concubines. Thus there are few African descendants in Muslim countries, while the African-American population has grown and prospered. Furthermore, the only countries that practice slavery in 2011 are Muslim.
Rauf also mentions that Muslims serve in the U.S. military, so they can't be considered foreigners. Unless, like Major Hassan, you are first a "Soldier of Allah," and second an American.
Myth #2: American Muslims are ethnically, culturally, and politically monolithic.
A straw man argument. American Muslims aren't religiously monolithic either, which Rauf neglects to include on his list, but it doesn't take many fanatics to disrupt a democratic society.
Myth #3: American Muslims oppress women.
Rauf addresses Islam as a whole, but each of his five myths shifts the debate to the very different status of American Muslims. Honor killings and female genital mutilation are not unheard of in the United States, but the vast majority of American Muslims follow American laws and accept American attitudes toward women. This isn't a defense of Islam, but a tribute to the strength and appeal of American culture. Even Rauf admits: "In the World Economic Forum's 2009 Gender Gap Index, which ranks women's participation in society, 18 of the 25 lowest-ranking countries have Muslim majorities." American Muslims may not oppress women, but Muslims around the world apparently do.
Myth #4: American Muslims often become "homegrown" terrorists.
Rauf responds: "According to the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security, more non-Muslims than Muslims were involved in terrorist plots on U.S. soil in 2010." Thus Muslims do get involved in terrorist plots. It's just not that "often." How reassuring. The Triangle Center report further notes: "with Muslims comprising about 1 percent of the American population, it is clear that Muslims are engaging in terrorism at a greater rate than non-Muslims."
Rauf concludes with the idiocy that has become official Homeland Security and U.S. Army policy:
Myth #5: "American Muslims want to bring sharia law to the United States."
Obviously, not every American Muslim wants to live under sharia. But it's undeniable that some do, and when an aggrieved minority complains loudly enough, Americans tend to try to accommodate them. We're nice people, and we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
Rauf's presentation of sharia is thoroughly disingenuous. A sample:
And to think, I never realized that the sword in Lady's Justice right hand is for beheading infidels. The Constitution counsels separation of church and state, Islam demands theocracy -- what's the big difference? Apparently I missed the part in the Bill of Rights about death to apostates. The polygamy amendment? Dhimmi status for non-believers? Death to homosexuals? Whipping for fornicators, stoning for adulterers?
Rauf cites an example from 615 AD, when fifteen persecuted Muslims were protected by the King of Abyssinia -- who later converted to Islam. These fifteen refugees "co-existed peacefully," which proves, according to Rauf, that two billion Muslims on the planet today have no interest in expanding the reach of sharia. Tell that to the British Muslim woman whose case against her husband is heard in a British sharia court.
Rauf is fully aware that Islam is a "militant and proselytizing faith" (Winston Churchill), but he is permitted to engage in taqiyya -- "holy deception" -- in order to promote his faith. Why else would a man interested in "building bridges" name his Cordoba Initiative after the city where conquering Arab Muslim armies defeated the Spanish and established the Caliphate of al-Andalus?