Monday, March 18, 2019

Juan Cole in Fantasyland

University of Michigan comedian and part-time professor Juan Cole has added his "contribution" to the discussion of the New Zealand massacre by rebuking an Australian politician (Fraser Anning) who responded to the attack by criticizing Muslim immigration. From that starting point, Cole, who describes himself as a "biographer of Muhammad", goes back to his old theme of how Islam is a peaceful religion where murder is prohibited. This is from Cole's blog, the curiously named, "Informed Comment".

As Cole was writing, hundreds of Nigerian Christians were being slaughtered by "Fulani herdsmen", as the media prefers to call them. Never mind. Cole went on with his talking points about Muhammad and the Koran, with all the standard talking points about how Muhammad preached peace and the Koran instructed Muslims that killing was prohibited. At one point, Cole puts the blame on "bad current translations" of the Koran. That must be the reason that so many thousands of atrocities are being committed today. That's why non-Muslims have such a negative perception of Islam. That's why so many Muslim killers and terrorists are violating the very teachings of the Koran.

Bad current translations. It must all be in the translation although Arab-speaking terrorists need no translation.

Cole writes:

"As a biographer of the Prophet Muhammad, let me just point out that everything Anning said about Islam is incorrect in addition to being bigoted."

Then Cole segues into a shameless plug....

"As I show in my new book."

Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid the Clash of Empires
Published October 9, 2018

Now available at Barnes and Nobles

and Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor

and Hachette

and Amazon

Cole points out that Mr Anning referred to Muhammad as a "6th century despot", pointing out that while Muhammad was born in the 6th century, his period of prophecy occurred in the 7th century. Of course, Cole  made his own factual error when he referred to the perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre as being in the plural. In Cole's defense, the first reports described 4 people being in custody, but proved to be erroneous. I also repeated that report in my own initial posting on the attack. But since Cole is nit-picking........

But it is when Cole gets into the claims about Muhammad and Islam's peaceful nature that  he really opens himself up. Yes, Muhammad began his prophecy in Mecca in a peaceful manner, and the early suras of the Koran reflect that. It was after he was driven out of Mecca, settled in present-day Medina, and consolidated his power that he became a warlord spreading Islam at the point of a sword. The Medina suras of the Koran reflect that as well because the language becomes more hateful and violent. It was hardly a coincidence. Cole, like Western-based Muslim leaders love to shower us with the early, peaceful verses of the Koran as proof that Islam is peaceful. And those Medina-era verses about killing unbelievers?

Badly-written translations.

"Although the Qur’an urges nonviolence in the face of harassment and persecution, it allows self-defense where people are physically attacked by bloodthirsty warriors.
But The Cow 2:190 (Medina) stipulates, “Fight in the path of God those who enter into combat against you, but do not commit aggression. God does not love aggressors.” The Qur’an allows warfare only in self-defense."

Yes, Folks it was all Davy Crockett at the Alamo back in the 7th century. What about all those bloodthirsty warriors that Muhammad had beheaded after they were captured? What about all those bloodthirsty wives and children that Muhammad's peaceful self defenders took as slaves? "Booty" the Koran calls them. Code words? "Those that your right hand possess."
Bad current translations, I suppose.

In insisting that Islam only fights in self defense, Cole drags up that oft-quoted verse from the Koran, Sura 5 verse 32 (Medina). It is the one you hear at all the interfaith events. Cole doesn't mention which version of the Koran he is quoting, at least in this article, but he reads it as follows:

 “The scripture condemns violence and promotes social harmony. Naturally, then, it forbids murder, retelling the story of Cain and Abel and then quoting the Palestinian Talmud. It says (The Table 5:32), “For this reason, we decreed for the children of Israel that those who kill another person—save in punishment for murder or the wreaking of corruption in the land—it is as though they had killed all human- kind. And those who revive someone, it is as though they gave life to all humankind. Our messengers brought them clear proofs, but many of them thereafter committed excesses in the land.” (Cole): "The reasoning of the rabbis had been that Adam was a single individual, and if he had been murdered, then the whole human race would have been prevented from existing. Muhammad preferred the universal form of this rabbinical teaching, equating the murder of anyone of any faith to genocide. Outside of formal defensive war on the battlefield, and outside the structured judicial context of a death penalty for murder or other capital crimes imposed by duly constituted authorities, killing is always wrong, according to the Qur’an.

I happen to have my own copies of the Koran, and I will quote the wording of Sura 5, verse 32 in one of mine. This is from The English Translation of the Message of the Koran, translated by Professor (Dr.) Syed Victar Ahamad, Book of Signs Foundation, Lombard, Illinois, 2007 , 3rd prinitng, ISBN 0-9773009-0-0. 

Sura 5 verse 32: "On that basis: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person-Unless it be for murder or for spreading of corruption in the land-It would be as if he killed all mankind (the people): And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind (the people). Then although there came to them our messengers with clear signs, yet even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses (and do injustices in the land." 

Not much difference there, but what Cole failed to include was the very next verse (5:33), which underlines the punishments: "The punishment for those who wage a war against Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and work hard with strength and taste for mischief though the land, is: Execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in the this world, and there punishment is heavy in the Hereafter."

Waging mischief in the land, a phrase that occurs repeatedly in the Koran refers to opposing Islam. That, according to the Koran (Cole's or mine) calls for the death penalty.

But could it be that I am relying on one of those badly-written translations of the Koran that Cole refers to? Not likely since I was given this Koran while visiting an open house event at the Islamic Center of Orange County in Garden Grove, California. That is the same mosque where Muzammil Siddiqi, former head of the Islamic Society of North America, is the head imam. In 1992, Siddiqi, who is considered a "bridge-builder" by the left-leaning Orange County Human Relations Commission, hosted none other than the "Blind Sheikh", later-convicted terrorist, Omar Abdel Rahman, and translated his sermon into English.

The same Koran gives this translation of another infamous verse, Sura 8 verse 12 (Medina):

"(Remember when) your Lord revealed (the Message) to the angels: "Verily, I am with you: Give strength to the believers: I will bring about terror into the hearts of the disbelievers: So you strike above their necks and hit hard over all of their finger-tips and toes."

That doesn't sound like self-defense to me.

Cole also tries to convince us that under Islam, there is no death penalty for apostasy.

"The Qur’an does not say anything about death for apostasy, but that was the law of the Christian Roman Empire– it is in the Code of Justinian, which is the basis for all Western legal codes. It was also the law of Zoroastrian Iran under Sasanian rule. Some later Muslims did brand apostasy a capital crime (likely under Christian and Zoroastrian influence), but other Muslims have disagreed, and, as I said, there is no such principle in the Qur’an. If the Peace Treaty of Hudaibiya of 628 is historical, it sheds further light on this issue. It stipulates that apostates are free to leave Medina and go to then-pagan Mecca without let or hindrance."

Virtually ever major school of Islamic thought confirms the death penalty for apostasy, which if not enforced by actual nations like Saudi Arabia and Iran, are also enforced by family members and tribal elders in numerous parts of the Islamic world. A few scholars/schools specify that the apostasy must be accompanied by actually opposing Islam  in word or deed before a death penalty should be carried out. It is important to note that we are not talking about something that was carried out thousands of years ago by other religions. It still exists in Islam.

"Muhammad never preached Jihad"

With that serving as a link, Cole takes us to his masterpiece book. Here he argues that the word jihad refers not to war or violence, but to the struggle of a Muslim to be a better person and a better Muslim. That is partially true. It was Muhammad himself (according to a hadith), who reportedly said upon returning from a military action, "Now that the lesser jihad is finished, it is time for the greater jihad". According to this statement, the lesser jihad referred to fighting on behalf of Islam and the greater jihad referred to struggling to become a better Muslim. 

Hadiths are subject to study by Islamic scholars since they are based on the sayings of Muhammad as reported through the centuries. Some hadiths are considered more reliable than others. Apologists for Islam will often argue that jihad only refers to the inner struggle, while others (who are more critical-or themselves terrorists) might argue that jihad only means fighting in war for Islam. Still others, relying on the above hadith, argue that there are two forms of jihad.

Whoever is correct, I find myself asking why so many Islamic "fighters", who are engaged in warfare or terror, refer to themselves as "mujahideen". (Those who engage in jihad).  I also wonder why the Arabic version of Hitler's Mein Kampf was translated in the 1930s by the Muslim Brotherhood  as , "My Jihad", still one of the top sellers in the Middle East. The translation was commissioned by the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. If Muhammad never preached this form of jihad, it sure has gained in currency over the centuries.

If Cole wanted to mark the massacre of 50 innocent Muslims in New Zealand by condemning the act and condemning white nationalism in general, that would have been fine. I condemn the attack, and I am no white nationalist. What Cole does, however, is insult the intelligence of the average bear by insisting that Islam is peaceful, that there is no violent aspect to jihad, that there is no death penalty for apostasy, and that Islam and the Koran forbid murder except in self defense. History argues otherwise beginning with Muhammad's move to Medina, the entire 1400-year-history of Islam (including that little rift between Sunnis and Shia), as well as present-day horrific events. 

We condemn what just happened in New Zealand. We also condemn what just happened in Nigeria and too many other places and times to count. But the horror against innocent Muslim worshipers in New Zealand is not justified by the horrors committed by other Muslims around the world. You cannot play an eye for an eye when you retaliate against innocent people. After all, not all Muslims are jihadists or violent. Those of us who speak out against what I will refer to here as Islamism need to heed the lesson of New Zealand and refrain from language that would incite. At the same time, we cannot surrender, become politically correct, and paint a false picture of Islam that whitewashes certain truths-as Juan Cole does.

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