Georgetown, Slavery, and the Riots in Sweden

Georgetown, Slavery, and the Riots in Sweden

Two years ago, Georgetown University made a show of repenting of its past connections to slavery by renaming two buildings whose namesakes had once sold slaves.

It might be expected then that when a Georgetown faculty member defends slavery, not just online, but in the course of a ninety-minute lecture, the reaction would be swift and severe. We would expect that the wayward academic would be relieved of his duties and sentenced to a re-education program, or else be fired outright.

Unless, of course, he was a Muslim defending Islamic slavery—in which case the rules of multicultural diversity come into play, and all is forgiven. The strongest reaction the administration could muster was this statement:

As an academic community, we are committed to academic freedom and the ability of faculty members to freely pursue their research and express their analysis. While we defend this academic freedom, the body of a faculty member’s work does not necessarily represent the University’s position.

That anemic response was all I could find when googling the words “Georgetown responds to professor who defends slavery.” So when it becomes known that two long-dead Jesuits profited from the sale of slaves, Georgetown appoints a panel of sixteen and renames two of its buildings, but when a living, breathing faculty member defends slavery (and rape), it “does not necessarily represent the University’s position.”

According to the official response, Georgetown is “committed to academic freedom and the ability of faculty members to freely pursue their research and express their analysis.” But if one digs a little deeper, it appears that high-minded commitment to academic freedom is not the only consideration.

The professor in question, Jonathan A.C. Brown, is a convert to Islam and is the director of Georgetown’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Twelve years ago, Prince Alwaleed contributed $20 million to the Center. And one supposes that he and other Arabs have contributed more in the meantime. In addition, the Center has become the go-to place for establishment people in government, media, and the Church to find research to support their view that Islam means peace, and that anyone who disagrees is a bigoted “Islamophobe.”

So the Center brings both money and prestige to Georgetown. Given those circumstances, it might not be prudent for Georgetown to make a fuss about a “minor” matter such as Islamic slavery. With their gift, the Saudis, it seems, have purchased Georgetown’s silence.

What exactly did Professor Brown say? Here are some samples so you can judge for yourself whether Georgetown’s tepid response was adequate. On February 7, 2017, in a speech to the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Virginia, he said:

  • I don’t think it’s morally evil to own somebody, because we own lots of people all around us, and we’re owned by people.
  • (In response to a question) The Prophet of God had slaves. He had slaves. There’s no denying that… Are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God? No, you’re not.
  • (On the question of sexual slavery) It’s very hard to have this discussion because we think of, let’s say in the modern United States, the sine qua non of morally correct sex is consent. We think of people as autonomous agents… If you take away the consent element, then everyone starts flipping out … we fetishize the idea of autonomy to the extent that we forget, again, who’s really free?

In his Facebook page, Brown is more explicit: “Slave women do not have agency over their sexual access, so their owner can have sex with them.”

Professor Brown’s observations provide a glimpse into the Muslim mind—a glimpse that Georgetown officials would prefer you not have. Almost the central project of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding has been to combat “Islamophobia”—by which is meant an irrational fear of Islam. But Professor Brown’s remarks suggest that people who fear Islam have good reason to do so.

Go back to his comment on Muhammad: “The Prophet of God had slaves… Are you more morally mature than the Prophet of God?” For Brown and for the vast majority of Islamic scholars, that is the clinching argument: Muhammad could do no wrong.

Some Catholics like to comfort themselves with the notion that Catholics and Muslims have similar codes of morality. But, as Brown’s comments suggest, Islamic morality is based largely on the example of Muhammad. Consider this item from his Facebook page: “It’s not possible to say that slavery is inherently, absolutely, categorically immoral in all times and places since it was allowed by the Qur’an and the Prophet.”

There is in Islam no rational, natural-law basis for discerning right from wrong. What Muslims have, for the most part, is the example of Muhammad—the “perfect man.” When defending Muhammad’s marriage to nine-year-old Aisha, Brown says: “You cannot say from a Sharia perspective that what the Prophet did was wrong because the Prophet can’t commit sins.” That’s the way Islamic morality works. Muhammad married a nine-year-old, so marriage with underage girls is permissible. Muhammad had slaves, so slavery can’t be immoral. Muhammad had sex slaves, so that can’t be wrong either. Muhammad killed infidels for no other reason than that they were unbelievers. Therefore, unbelievers can be justifiably killed.

By the way, simply believing in God doesn’t protect you from the wrath of Allah. If you don’t believe that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, you are, by definition, an unbeliever. You can, under certain circumstances, be legitimately killed or enslaved or raped. Being a fairly new convert, Professor Brown was a tad more honest about these things than an experienced Islamic apologist should be. Nevertheless, he has done us infidels a favor by pulling back the curtain and revealing the dark heart of Islam—that it is a religion made in the image and likeness of Muhammad.

Another glimpse into the reality of Islam was provided last week by Muslim rioters in Stockholm, Sweden. Swedish officials have long tried to cover up the extent of Muslim immigrant crime, and the Western media has been happy to play along with the pretense. So when President Trump made a reference during a speech to what happened “last night in Sweden,” the media was quick to pounce. Nothing of note had happened in Sweden the night before, they gloated: Trump had got it wrong again. His implication that Muslim immigration had led to a surge in violence was baseless. Did Trump not know that Sweden was still the land of harmony, peace, and prosperity—of Pippi Longstocking, ABBA, and Volvos?

And then, the next day, rioting erupted in Rinkeby, a suburb of Stockholm. For over four hours, a mob of seventy, many of them masked, set fire to cars, looted shops, beat passers-by, and threw rocks at police. Nor was this the first time. Sweden has experienced numerous riots. The worst of them lasted almost a week in 2013:

The riots began in the immigrant-dominated suburb of Husby, but quickly spread to other suburbs such as Rinkeby, Tensta, Kista and the town of Södertälje south of Stockholm. Night after night, rioting immigrants left images of broken windows, burnt walls, and scorched car parks. Cars were torched and several schools and a police station were set ablaze.

In addition to rioting and soaring crime rates, Sweden has the second highest incidence of rape in the world. Many of the assaults are committed in crowded public spaces:

This is evident in the increasing mass sexual assaults and rapes committed by migrants at Swedish festivals. In July 2016 at Bravalla, Sweden’s largest music festival, there were nearly 40 assaults, including five rapes. A week earlier at Putte i Parken (Party in the Park), a free festival in Karlstad, there were 32 similar sexual attacks where the youngest victim was just twelve years old.

The establishment wants to keep alive a certain narrative about Muslim migration into Sweden—namely, that the migrants are happily and peacefully integrating into Swedish society. Unfortunately for them and their narrative, reality keeps intruding on the pretty picture they have drawn.

Something similar is happening at Georgetown. The university wants to keep alive the notion that Islam is no different from—and maybe even better than—other world religions. And then someone like Professor Brown lets slip a few home truths about Islam and threatens to spoil the whole narrative.

In response to the riots in Sweden, a few members of the mainstream media were honest enough to report, however briefly, on the violence. Will Georgetown act accordingly in regard to Professor Brown’s defense of Islamic slavery? So far they’ve done essentially nothing. Evidently, university officials are hoping that the fuss will die down and things will return to normal.

But the normal work of the Alwaleed bin Talal Center is to churn out shoddy and tendentious research designed to show that Islam is as normal as apple pie. The main business of the Center is to convince Catholics that “Islamophobia” is the greatest threat to our nation, while deceiving them entirely about the nature and aims of Islam. If Georgetown’s Disneyfied view of Islam prevails, then America will almost certainly suffer the same fate as Europe, where riots and rape are the new normal, and where cathedrals, synagogues, and national monuments must be protected by security forces and bulletproof barriers.

Georgetown University once profited by selling slaves, now it is profiting by allowing the Saudis to purchase influence and spread disinformation. But this is not simply a game of “gotcha”—of catching the MSM in one more lie, or of pointing out the hypocrisy of a prestigious Catholic institution. The stakes are too high. The point of calling attention to Georgetown’s misadventures is not to score points, but to awaken the university to its Catholic calling. And, if that is not possible, to alert other Catholics to the university’s Islamic whitewash operation.

While Georgetown is busy fighting “Islamophobia,” Christians are being enslaved in Africa, and exterminated in the Middle East. What we are witnessing is not a misunderstanding between cultures, but the unfolding of a spiritual war—one with a bloody physical front. Most Christians are hardly aware that the battle has been joined. And some—like those at Georgetown—are naively abetting the wrong side. By its silence over the Islamic slavery issue, Georgetown has taken one more step into the darkness. Other Catholics would be foolish to follow their lead.

Should Different Religions Be Treated Differently?

Should Different Religions Be Treated Differently?


Anti-Mosque Protest

When the planning board of Bernards Township, New Jersey, turned down a plan to build a mosque, the local Islamic society turned around and sued the town for discrimination. Now, a federal judge has ruled that a parking requirement imposed by the township on the mosque was discriminatory.

Adeel Mangi, the Islamic society’s lawyer, praised the decision, saying “this is a landmark ruling…that will have national impact in reaffirming that townships cannot treat applicants differently based on their religion.”

Andrew Bieszad, an Islam scholar, has a different take. In an article titled “landmark federal court ruling opens the way for explosion of constructing mega-mosques across America,” he states that “the issue here is not about parking spaces or religious freedom—it is about the presence of Islam.” He goes on to observe:

Islam does not come into a society to co-exist with others. Islam comes with the intention of invading, dominating, and eventually either assimilating or enslaving the area.

Harsh words. But if they are true, then doesn’t it make sense to discriminate against Islam? Adeel Mangi says that applicants shouldn’t be treated “differently based on their religion,” but if a religion aims to subjugate other religions (and cultures) then wouldn’t it be foolish not to treat it differently?

Islamic leaders may complain about discrimination, but they can’t very well base their case on Islamic principles. That’s because Islam is built on discrimination—discrimination between halal and haram (permitted and forbidden), between male (superior) and female (inferior), between Muslim (superior) and non-Muslim (inferior), and between the House of Islam and the House of War (non-Muslim societies).

That last distinction is perhaps the best argument for heightened concern about the spread of mosques. According to Islamic doctrine, there can be no peace on earth until non-Muslims are subjugated by Muslims. Although not every Muslim is aware of this obligation, the vast majority of imams and mosque leaders are.

Whenever and wherever Muslims gain sufficient power, this is what they do. And if 1400 years of history is any guide, this is what they will sooner or later attempt to do in America. So why shouldn’t cities and townships be wary about facilitating the spread of this most discriminatory of religions?

The problem with Islam is not discrimination per se, but rather the severity of the discrimination and the reasoning behind it. For example, all societies make distinctions and discriminations (in the original sense of the word) between the sexes; but in Islam the harsh discrimination against women is based on the belief that they have less value than men. According to Islamic law, the value of a woman is one-half that of a man. But that’s not so bad when you consider that the value of a Jew or Christian is one-third that of a Muslim male.

If resistance to the spread of mosques were based on a belief that Muslims are of less value than non-Muslims, that would be reprehensible. But such resistance (in Europe, the UK, the US, and elsewhere) is usually based on concerns over Islamic beliefs and the behaviors that often flow from them. Which raises a question: is it ever legitimate to discriminate against institutions based on their belief systems?

In its original sense, discrimination means choosing between two or more different things. In that sense, discrimination is a necessary feature of every society. A society cannot exist without discrimination—without being able to differentiate between enemies and friends, between right and wrong and, on a more mundane level, between things that are edible and things that are poisonous.

Many of the discriminations that we make are so taken for granted that we don’t give them a second thought. For example, we don’t give driver’s licenses (or marriage licenses) to nine-year-olds, and we think it legitimate to discriminate between those who obey the law and those who break it. The main business of courts, after all, is to make discriminations. We expect judges and juries to discriminate; we expect police to discriminate; we expect teachers to discriminate (e.g., between right and wrong answers on an exam and between appropriate and inappropriate behavior); and we expect pastors and rabbis to help us discriminate vice from virtue.

Which brings us back to the religion of Islam. Many of the things we in the West consider to be vices are considered to be virtues in Islam and vice versa. We don’t give away nine-year-olds in marriage, but in some Islamic societies they do. We give driver’s licenses to women, but in Saudi Arabia they don’t. We abhor wife-beating, but many Muslims believe that wife-beating improves a woman’s character. We believe that freedom of religion includes the right to leave your religion, but the consensus of Islamic scholars is that apostates should be killed.

In short, there are many striking differences between Islamic values and Western values, and in some cases these differences are so profound that applicants for building mosques might reasonably be “treated differently based on their religion.” Discrimination based on religious practices is not as un-American as it may sound. In the late nineteenth century, Congress outlawed the Mormon practice of polygamy in the territories, and when the Mormons appealed the law on religious grounds, the Supreme Court upheld the ban.

Come to think of it, you can add polygamy to the list of differences between Islam and Western religions. And as the number of Muslims in a given society increases, you can expect that demands for multiple wives will also increase. Muslims in Italy are already demanding that right. And although polygamy is officially against the law in Britain, it is tacitly accepted in deference to Muslim sensibilities. Police in the UK are too busy uncovering terror plots to be bothered with something as minor as polygamy.

Speaking of minors, we can also expect that the incidence of child marriage will increase as the Muslim population increases. Child marriage is common in the Muslim world. In Saudi Arabia there is no minimum age for marriage. And in Yemen, Bangladesh, Iran, and Northern Nigeria, attempts to ban child marriages have been blocked on the grounds that such a ban would be un-Islamic. In Germany, the UK, and Canada, forced marriages and underage marriages have increased dramatically in the Muslim communities. So has the incidence of female genital mutilation.

It doesn’t matter if the local imam swears on a stack of Korans not to officiate at an underage wedding, these are the sorts of things that will start to happen as Islam spreads. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if laws are passed to prohibit specific behaviors. The United States, along with other Western nations, already has laws that, in effect, prohibit the free exercise of Islam. There are laws against polygamy, child marriage, cruel and unusual punishments (such as amputation for theft), wife-beating, and so on.

But our society’s commitment to the rule of non-discrimination works to undermine such laws. Such laws, it will be claimed, are unfairly biased against people from non-Western cultures. And as long as the principle of non-discrimination remains the dominant one, exceptions to the laws will be made.

In Europe, the laws against polygamy, child marriage, spousal abuse, and even rape have already begun to erode. If Muslims are involved in such activities, authorities tend to look the other way, or else they mete out very lenient punishments. In Austria, a Muslim migrant who raped a 10-year-old boy had his conviction overturned on the grounds that he didn’t understand that the boy was not consenting to the act. A German court gave a suspended sentence to three Muslim men who attacked a synagogue with Molotov cocktails. In another German court, four al-Qaeda terrorists who plotted a massacre involving anti-personnel bombs received sentences ranging from only four and a half to nine years. Law-abiding Germans refer to the kid-glove treatment of Muslims as “Kuscheljustiz” (“cuddly justice”).

Having been soaked in multiculturalism and cultural relativism for decades, Western authorities don’t have any defense against the “this-is-permitted-in-my-culture” plea. Having succumbed to the belief that all values are equal, Western courts are now faced with the logical implications of that belief. Societies that can’t discriminate between natural marriage and same-sex “marriage” can’t be expected to defend the “discriminatory” notion that exclusive marriages are better than polygamous marriages. And legislators who can’t discriminate between the men’s room and the ladies’ room won’t have a leg to stand on (so to speak) when the newly-elected Muslim-dominated legislature proposes amputation as a remedy for theft.

These days, the word “discrimination” has come to be associated almost exclusively with “bias,” “prejudice,” and “injustice.” However, some dictionaries still list the original sense of the word as the primary definition—that is, “to make a clear distinction; distinguish; differentiate.” In its primary sense discrimination is an act of discernment about the nature of reality—a judgment about the similarities and differences between things.

While it’s wrong to prejudge people and issues, prejudice is not the greatest danger to a society. Rather, it’s the failure to make any judgments that erodes and eventually ruins a society. In the words of essayist and social critic Lawrence Auster, “the principle of non-discrimination must, if followed consistently, destroy every society and institution.”

If we continue to insist that discrimination is the worst sin in the world, we will soon find that there are far worse things. Cultural survival depends on the ability to discriminate against pernicious ideas and behaviors. Luckily, the twentieth-century struggles to resist Nazism, communism, and Japanese imperialism took place before the age of non-discrimination set in. Unluckily, the resurgence of militant Islam comes at a time when cultural relativism is all the rage. The idea that all cultures are roughly equal prevents us from looking at Islam as it really is, and prevents us from taking action accordingly. Islam is essentially a religion of conquest. It bears striking similarities to other totalitarian ideologies such as communism and Nazism. In fact, prominent Islamic leaders such as Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, actively collaborated with the Nazis and encouraged them to speed up the “final solution”—the extermination of European Jews. Moreover, the chief modern theorists of Islam—Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and Maulana Maududi—all acknowledged their theoretical indebtedness to Nazism and communism.

If theory is not your cup of tea, just look at the facts on the ground. As Islam spreads, so does Islamic violence—not just terrorist violence, but the everyday violence done to women, children, and non-Muslims. Mosques are not the only means by which this culture of violence is spread, but it is one of the chief means. As Moorthy Muthuswamy, author of Defeating Political Islam, writes: “[it is] the teachings of its clerics and its mosques which make up the nodes of the social network responsible for spawning jihad.”

This is well understood in Islamic countries. Thus, on Fridays in many Islamic countries, mosques are supervised by police. That’s because violence is often launched during the Friday khutba (sermon). Indeed, many of the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations were set in motion from mosques following Friday prayers.

How do the authorities in Islamic countries react to acts of violence and terrorism? One of the first things they do is shut down suspected mosques. For example, after a terrorist attack on a beach resort that left 39 dead, Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid ordered that 80 mosques be closed because “some mosques continue to spread their propaganda and their venom to promote terrorism.”

Meanwhile, in France—that bastion of liberty, equality, and fraternity—dozens of mosques have been shut down in the wake of terrorist attacks. Raids on several of these mosques revealed a “staggering” number of weapons and ammunition.

Most Americans, I venture to say, assume that such things won’t happen in American mosques. But that may not be a good assumption to make considering that almost a dozen terrorists (including the Tsarnaev brothers) have been associated with the Islamic Society of Boston’s two mosques, and nearly half a dozen (three of the 9/11 hijackers, the Fort Hood assassin, and terrorist leader Anwar al-Awlaki) were associated with the supposedly moderate Dar al-Hijrah Mosque in Falls Church, Virginia. And let’s not forget that Omar Abdel Rahman, the “Blind Sheik” who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, preached jihad in three different mosques in the New York/New Jersey area.

Do I think this radicalization process is about to commence in every small-town mosque in New Jersey, Kansas, and Tennessee? No. Not necessarily. But as mosques spread, Islam spreads. And Islam, I think it can be safely said, is not conducive to a healthy society. Because Islamic institutions are bound up with a dangerous belief system, it would be irresponsible not to subject them to extra scrutiny.

The ultimate act of discrimination takes place on the Last Judgment. On that fearful day the sheep will be separated from the goats, and the faithful from the wicked. One of the things we will be judged on is our courage to judge rightly according to realities and not according to the fashionable opinions of the day.

Can America Ban Immigrants Who Reject Our Constitution for Sharia Law?

Can America Ban Immigrants Who Reject Our Constitution for Sharia Law?

In their legitimate concerns over believers being forced to cater same-sex weddings or religious schools getting sued for upholding biblical morals, Christians may forget that there are and should be limits to religious freedom, especially when it comes to the question of whom to admit to our country. Remember that there is no Constitutional obligation to admit anyone at all, and that courts have found that the U.S. may turn away immigrants (for instance, Communists) who reject our Constitution.

Nothing brings the religious liberty question more sharply into focus than the spread of Islam into the West. Does religious liberty mean that a religion that advocates stoning for adulterers and death for apostates must be placed on an equal footing with non-violent religions? Or could religious liberty for large and growing numbers of Muslims endanger freedom for everyone else?

The Mormons Gave Up Polygamy

There are, in fact, a number of Supreme Court decisions that have put due limits on religious freedom. Perhaps the most notable case is Reynolds v. United States (1878), which upheld a federal law banning polygamy. The court ruled against the Mormon Church which had claimed a right on religious grounds to continue the practice of polygamy.  “To permit this,” wrote Chief Justice Morrison Waite,” would be to make the professed doctrine of religious belief superior to the law of the land.”

More than a century later, the ruling was reaffirmed in Employment Division v. Smith (1990).  The court upheld the firing of an Oregon public employee who’d illegally smoked peyote in a Native American Church ceremony.  Justice Antonin Scalia explained that granting a religious exemption for peyote use would undermine the law. It may seem surprising that Scalia sided with the majority, but that’s only if you assume that Christians must automatically favor a free pass for all behavior that’s labeled “religious.”

The First Church of Human Sacrifice

Typically, Constitutional scholars make a distinction between beliefs and practice, and most say that although beliefs are protected, religious practices may be restricted or prohibited. Thus, you can believe in the benefits of polygamy if you like, but you can’t take two wives. You may sincerely believe that virgin sacrifice contributes to social stability, but you may not practice it.

This distinction sounds good in theory, but there are problems with it. While the government shouldn’t try to control what you believe, it might legitimately take an interest in your attempts to spread your beliefs.  Suppose there were a First Church of Human Sacrifice (aka the Sacrificians) in the U.S. And suppose that although its members refrained from actual human sacrifice in deference to the Constitution, they extolled it in sermons, books, pamphlets and Sunday school classes. “We do not practice human sacrifice in this society, and we do not encourage it,” say the Sacrifician elders, “but it is, nevertheless, the best way to offer service to God.”

One may think that there’s no harm in allowing the Sacrificians to praise the beauty of human sacrifice, since no one in his right mind would want to join such a cult. But suppose, contrary to expectations, that the elders manage to present human sacrifice in such an appealing way that many are drawn to the religion. As a result, the First Church of Human Sacrifice grows rapidly, and soon Human Sacrifice temples are popping up all over the landscape.

With numbers comes respectability. Pretty soon, the media begin to run human interest stories about the human face of Sacrificians, and major denominations declare their solidarity with them. After a while, the Sacrificians get involved in politics, and end up as judges, police commissioners, mayors and legislators. As time goes by, it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the full Sacrifician agenda — especially when the elders assure the authorities that, for the time being, only volunteers, the terminally ill and the mentally deficient will be sacrificed.

Trump’s Executive Order Protects American Freedom

In short, it might not be a good idea to let millions of Sacrificians move into our country. By the same token, it might not be wise to let sharia law take root in our culture. That’s because the full application of sharia does, in effect, call for human sacrifice. All sharia law books agree that adulterers may be stoned to death, that apostates must be killed, and that blasphemers should be jailed or executed. Moreover, non-Muslims can be killed for a variety of reasons.

Needless to say, sharia law is patently unconstitutional. But for a strict Muslim, sharia supersedes the Constitution. As the influential scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, puts it, “the Sharia is for all time to come, equally valid under all circumstances.”  Why?  Because sharia law is God’s law.  Man-made laws — such as the Constitution — are nullified if they contradict sharia.

Which brings us to President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and refugees.  One section is particularly significant:

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.

The ban itself is limited to a few months and to only seven countries, but the principle has wide application. It means that any Muslim who puts sharia above American law can be barred from entry to the U.S. But according to al-Qaradawi and other Muslim scholars, putting sharia first is what pious Muslims must do.

Sharia First

Because of sharia’s inherent conflict with the Constitution, it would be unwise to let Islam get a foothold in the U.S. It might be a different story if American Muslims were able to practice an American brand of Islam stripped of sharia, but that, in the long run, is unlikely. The political/legal side of Islam is inextricably bound up with the religious side. Can you be a good Muslim if you ignore Allah’s law?  Most Muslim scholars and jurists would say no.

It might be objected that we already have laws on the books that prohibit the uglier aspects of sharia law such as wife-beating, amputations for theft and the like. Therefore, it can be argued, there’s no need to keep out adherents of sharia: Muslims will simply follow those tenets of sharia that are not in conflict with American law, and ignore those that are.

Once again, it’s not so simple. Europe also has laws against polygamy, child marriage, spousal abuse and rape, but as I have noted elsewhere, the enforcement of those laws has begun to erode due to the pressures created by a growing Muslim population.

Sharia is the “Sexy” Aspect of Islam

Sharia laws and the sense of supremacy that goes along with it are among the main attractions of Islam — especially for the young. The sudden resurgence of Islam following the Iranian Revolution corresponded with a re-emphasis on sharia and jihad. That’s because Islam minus sharia and jihad has very little to offer. Islam was dying a slow death during the Colonial period and the era of the secular strongmen that followed, precisely because the ruling authorities made sure that the practice of Islam was largely confined to acts of prayer and piety.

Once the genie of jihad was released from the bottle, however, Islam took off. When young Muslim men discovered that Islam was not only about praying in mosques, but also about slaying or subjugating God’s enemies and thereby meriting the reward of virgins in paradise, they began to pay attention.

Christ told his followers that “the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God (John 16: 2).  That’s what Muslim radicals think they are doing when they kill infidels:  they are offering service to Allah, and Allah most gracious, they believe, will return the favor in paradise.

A Religious Duty to Kill the Infidel

How else do you explain the religious fervor with which jihadists speak of their exploits? A captured ISIS soldier told a journalist that he felt joyous because “I was killing infidels.” After twenty-eight Christians were killed in a bombing attack on St. Peter’s Cathedral in Cairo, social media were filled with comments such as “God bless the person who did this blessed act.” Before murdering an Israeli policewoman, Ahmad Zakarneh sent a text message to his parents urging them not to grieve, because “I yearned for a saint’s death … I am a martyr by Allah’s assistance. Rejoice.” In the West Bank, streets, squares, parks and schools are named in honor of “martyrs” — whose victims often include women and children.

Islamic beliefs have predictable consequences. From kindergarten on up, Palestinian children are taught to hate Jews and to aspire to martyrdom. The Egyptian Ministry of Education incites hatred for Christian Copts. In Iran, children as young as eight are recruited into paramilitary groups and trained to hate the U.S. and Israel. Like the hypothetical Sacrificians, not every Palestinian, Egyptian, or Iranian wants to kill, but the ideal of serving Allah through martyrdom suffuses their culture. In America, children are introduced to the warrior code through video games. But while American youth only play at being warriors, Muslim youth are given incentives to actually live out Islam’s warrior/martyr code.

The question is, do we want that sort of culture to take root and grow in our society? When you think about it, the notion of extreme vetting of Muslim immigrants and refugees makes a lot of sense. As the recent executive order cautions, “The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.”

Stop Playing “Let’s Pretend” about Islam

Stop Playing “Let’s Pretend” about Islam


It’s disappointing that Lt. General William Mc Master, President Trump’s new National Security Advisor, has said that the Islamic State is “un-Islamic.” He also insists that organizations like ISIS “cynically use a perverted interpretation of religion to incite hatred and justify horrific cruelty against innocents.” In short, the General seems to think that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.

This kind of thinking prevailed under the Obama administration, and during those eight years, the Islamic threat grew by leaps and bounds. It would be a shame if a key person in the new national security team perpetuated such simplistic views of Islamic terrorism.

Many Church leaders have views not much different. For the last four years, we’ve been treated to a litany of ecclesiastical pronouncements that there is a solid wall of separation between Islam and violence.

Some people seem actually to believe this counter-factual nonsense. Others probably see it as a good strategy – a way to strengthen “moderate Islam.” The strategists are fond of saying that criticism of Islam itself will drive the moderates into the radical camp. From this point of view, the only way to promote positive change in Islam is to praise it, and hope that a self-fulfilling prophecy is set in motion.

But it’s not a good strategy. In fact, it gives the upper hand to the radicals. Here’s why. If everyone from national security advisors to the pope says that Islam is fine as is, then there is no incentive to change. If there’s no problem with Islam–only with extreme splinter groups–you undercut Muslim reformers. It’s difficult enough being a moderate Muslim; it’s downright dangerous to be a Muslim reformer. Why should the reformers stick their necks out if they get no reinforcement from prominent non-Muslims? And why should other Muslims listen to them if everything is fine the way it is? This strategy turns Muslims away from the moderates and reformers and towards the imams.

We assume that mosques, Islamic schools, and imams will have a moderating effect on Muslims, but the truth is otherwise. Five separate studies (four in the U.S. and one in Canada) revealed that about 80 percent of mosques promote extremist views. The majority of mosques can hardly be considered moderate. In fact, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser relates that when the Muslim Reform Movement sent a mailing to over 3,000 American mosques seeking support, they received only forty responses, and of those only nine were positive. You’ve probably seen Dr. Jasser on television. He’s the embodiment of moderation and reasonableness. Yet most Muslim leaders will have nothing to do with him. Apparently, they see no need for reform.

In other countries, of course, mosques are often centers of recruitment and radicalization – sometimes even weapons depots. When a terrorist attack occurs on Muslim soil, authorities often respond by raiding and closing mosques. Even “enlightened” Western countries have adopted a policy of “cherchez la mosquée.” In the wake of terrorist attacks, both France and Germany have conducted numerous raids on mosques.

So when Catholic leaders draw a moral equivalence between Christianity and Islam – as they often do – they are encouraging Muslims to find meaning in a faith that finds meaning in jihad. Pope Francis once told a group of immigrants that they could find direction in their holy books – Christians in the Bible, and Muslims in the Koran. But such advice only pushes Muslims deeper into the fundamentalism that the pope thinks is embraced only by a few.

By any definition of “fundamentalist,” Islam is a fundamentalist religion. Most Muslims take the Koran literally, and their imams tell them that is how they must understand it.

If we are really interested in seeing Islam turn in a moderate direction, we need to criticize, not cosset it. After all, there is something wrong with Islam. And as ex-Muslim Nonie Darwish writes, “The West is not doing Muslims. . .a favor by constantly treating them as children who should be shielded from reality.”

The reality is that there is something wrong with Islam’s harsh blasphemy laws and apostasy laws, and with its treatment of women, children, and minorities. We shouldn’t overlook these problems, and neither should Muslims.

So it’s time to stop playing “let’s pretend.” Muslim nations won’t address these problems unless non-Muslim nations and Church leaders put pressure on them. When Saudi Arabia officially abolished slavery in 1962, it was only because of intense Western pressure.

Why is pressure needed? Because, as a number of observers have remarked, Muslim societies are not given to introspection. Raphael Patai, author of The Arab Mind, suggests that the Islamic belief in fate or pre-destination leads to a “disinclination to undertake efforts to change or improve things.”

When Western leaders give Muslims the message that their religion deserves much respect, it may be good for Muslim self-esteem, but it doesn’t provide them with an incentive to change. Instead, we should be telling Muslims, as diplomatically as possible, that many aspects of their faith are deeply disturbing. And that until they do something about it, we will have to consider various stern measures such as breaking off dialogue (on the part of the Church), or initiating withdrawal of aid, sanctions, and investments (on the part of governments and businesses.)

At the very least, we should close our doors to immigration from the most troubled Islamic states. Some people caution that such a ban will increase Muslim hatred for the West. It may have that effect on some Muslims. But strong and decisive action may also give many Muslims second thoughts about Islam.

The spoiled child only learns to question himself when others will no longer play with him. After 9/11, many Americans asked, “Why do they hate us?” In other words, “What did we do wrong?” It’s about time that the Muslim world starts asking that question of itself. But it will never ask it unless the West dispenses with its “I’m OK, you’re OK” policies towards Islam.

Time for Catholics to Reconsider Islam and the “Prophet” Muhammad?

Time for Catholics to Reconsider Islam and the “Prophet” Muhammad?

Islam is inseparable from Muhammad. If Muhammad was a false prophet who presented a false picture of Jesus, then Islam, despite whatever truths it contains, is a false religion.
Pope Francis talks with Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque and university, during a private meeting at the Vatican May 23. (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

In recent months, some prominent Catholics have taken pains to emphasize the supposedly special ties between Islam and Catholicism.  In an editorial for The Angelus, the Los Angeles archdiocesan newspaper, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser called for greater solidarity with Islam.  More recently, Msgr. Stuart Swetland, president of Donnelly College, appeared to suggest that Catholics are required to believe in the peaceful nature of Islam.  Meanwhile, in Rome, a delegation of U.S. bishops and a delegation of Iranian religious leaders issued a joint statement which include this paragraph:

Christianity and Islam share a commitment to love and respect for the life, dignity, and welfare of all members of the human community…We hold a common commitment to peaceful coexistence and mutual respect.

Iranian religious leaders are committed to peaceful coexistence?  The peaceful nature of Islam is binding Catholic doctrine?  We should be seeking greater solidarity with Islam?  Such talk might have resonated with Catholics a few years ago, but now it has a dated quality about it.  It flies in the face of facts with which we are now all familiar.

If nothing else, the recent push to put a happy face on Islam is a case of very bad timing.  The American bishops’ faith in their Iranian counterparts comes at a time when all the evidence suggests that the chief commitment of Iranian religious leaders is to the destruction of the “Great Satan” (America).  And while Church leaders are plumping for greater solidarity with Islam, much of the rest of the world wants nothing to do with it. In Europe, for example, various polls have shown that a majority of citizens believe that Islam does not belong in Europe. Angela Merkel’s party is doing badly in German elections precisely because of her Islam-friendly policy. If the Church continues to pursue solidarity with Islam, it is likely to alienate a great many non-Muslims. In Europe, for example, it will be increasingly identified with the secular elites whom many now view as traitors for having facilitated Islam’s cultural putsch.

But these are pragmatic reasons for not pursuing solidarity with Islam. Are there any theological reasons?

Ironically, one reason that many Catholics take an optimistic view of Islam is also the chief reason for doubting that there can be any reconciliation with Islam. Some Catholics make much of the fact that Jesus is mentioned in the Koran and is honored by Muslims as a great prophet. This respect for Jesus, they assume, is a guarantee that Islam cannot be too far away from the truth. But the fact that Jesus is included in Islamic tradition is a two-edged sword.

Saint Paul specifically warns about the misappropriation of Jesus:

“For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached…or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough” (2 Cor 11: 4).

Six hundred years after Paul, Muhammad came along and started preaching a different Jesus—a very different Jesus. If anything, the Muslim Jesus is an anti-Jesus; he directly contradicts the claims of the Jesus of the Gospels. In the Koran, Allah addresses the “people of the Book” (Christians) and warns them to speak the truth about God: “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle…So believe in God and His apostles and do not say ‘Three’ [‘Trinity’ in some translations]…God forbid that he should have a son!” (4: 171).

That’s a flat denial of the Trinity and a rejection of the Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Jesus. In other places, Allah denies the Incarnation and the Crucifixion. It’s not as though these are peripheral teachings of the Church whose denial can be overlooked for the sake of fellowship. These beliefs are the foundation of the Faith.

Muslims hold that Muhammad did not write the Koran, but merely recited what Allah had told him. Thus, there are two contradictory revelations. In one, God tells us that He is a Trinity and that Jesus is the Son of the Father. In the other “revelation,” Allah says he is not a Trinity and he curses those who say that Jesus is the Son of God.

Not much wiggle-room there. This is not a misunderstanding that can be papered over with dialogue and happy talk about shared respect for Jesus. It’s not the same Jesus. And, unless you want to dispense with the laws of logic, it’s not the same God.

Islam stands apart from other non-Christian religions in its specific rejection of Christian tenets. Jesus is in the Koran not because Muhammad revered him, but because Muhammad wanted to put him in his place. In order to establish himself as the final prophet of God, Muhammad had to first undercut the Christian claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of all prophecy. Rather cleverly, he did not reject Jesus. Instead, he appropriated him for his own purposes. To clear the way for his own prophethood, he reassigned Jesus as a Muslim prophet.

Although Jesus is supposedly a great prophet in Islam, he doesn’t have a great deal to say or do in the Koran. By contrast, Muhammad is mentioned frequently. The phrase “God and His Apostle” recurs throughout the Koran. There are many dozens of admonitions along the order of “Believe in God and His Apostle,” “Obey God and His Apostle,” and “Have faith in God and His Apostle.”

According to Islamic teaching, assigning a partner to God is the worst possible sin—the very sin that Christians have committed by identifying Christ as the Son of God. Yet, in effect, Muhammad assigned himself the position of partner to Allah. Read through the Koran and see how many times the two are mentioned in the same breath. One gets the impression that obeying Muhammad is the equivalent of obeying Allah. In fact, verse 4: 80 says just that: “He that obeys the Apostle obeys God.” And verse 4: 149 warns believers not to “draw a line between God and His Apostle.”

As presented in the Koran and in Islamic tradition, Allah and Muhammad are a package deal. You can’t have one without the other. The Islamic confession of faith declares that “there is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God.” As a Muslim, you are not allowed to dispense with the second half. In Reliance of the Traveller, one of the most authoritative guides to Islamic belief, we read:

Allah has made him [Muhammad] the highest of mankind, rejecting anyone’s attesting to the divine oneness by saying ‘There is no God but Allah,’ unless they also attest to the Prophet by saying ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’ (v 2.1)

In Islam, Muhammad is referred to simply as the Prophet. But what kind of prophet was he? Here’s a hint. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his listeners to “beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Mt. 7:15). Does Muhammad qualify as a false prophet? It would seem so. He proclaims that God is not a Trinity and that Jesus is neither divine nor a savior. He rejects almost all of the central Christian teachings.

Was Muhammad a false prophet? It could be reasonably argued that he was the false prophet par excellence—perhaps the person whom Jesus had most in mind when he delivered his warning. There were false prophets in the days of Peter and Paul, but does anyone remember their names? Did any of them found a religion that is still alive and growing? Could any of them claim a following of 1.6 billion people?

There is a curious lack of curiosity about Muhammad on the part of Catholic leaders. He is not mentioned in Nostra Aetate, the document on which the current optimistic assessment of Islam is built. He is not mentioned in the Catholic Catechism’s statement on the Church’s relationship with the Muslims. He is not, as far as I know, mentioned by Pope Francis, although Francis has spoken favorably about Islam on several occasions.

But Islam is inseparable from Muhammad. If he was a false prophet who presented a false picture of Jesus, then Islam, despite whatever truths it contains, is a false religion. For prudential reasons, you might not want to shout that from the rooftops. On the other hand, you ought not keep insisting that Catholics share much in common with Islam.

Fortunately, there are signs that the Church’s Pollyannaish view of Islam may be in for a revision. The Church’s Islam policy is coming under increasing scrutiny. Up until a year or two ago, Catholic journalists tended to avoid the subject of Islam except to report on terrorist attacks or on the Pope’s meetings with imams. As for news analysis, most writers simply echoed the Vatican’s semi-official narrative that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. More recently, however, Catholic columnists have begun to question that narrative. More and more Catholic writers and intellectuals are taking a closer, more clear-eyed look at the Church’s relationship with Islam.

A number of bishops and cardinals have also begun to question the Church’s stance on Islam. American Cardinal Raymond Burke, Hungarian Bishop Lazlo Kiss-Rigo, Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares, and Iraqi archbishops Louis Sako and Amel Shamon Nona, along with others have expressed dissatisfaction with Church policy on Islam and/or Vatican policy on Muslim migration.

Most importantly, the dogmatic authority of Nostra Aetate has come into question in higher Church circles. This is significant because the two paragraphs on the Muslims in that document are the linchpin of the argument that Christianity and Islam are similar faiths that share much in common. But according to Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, “Nostra Aetate does not have any dogmatic authority, and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognize this declaration as being dogmatic.”

Nostra Aetate seems to have been intended primarily as a gesture of outreach to non-Christian religions. But somehow, over the years, it came to be seen by many as the Church’s final and definitive statement on Islam. It became the trump card in any discussion of Islam among Catholics. Catholics who questioned the Church’s pro-Islam policies were told that the Church had spoken, and that was that.

Now that Nostra Aetate is being put in proper perspective, the way is open for Catholics to develop a fuller, more reality-based picture of Islam. Hopefully, they will not waste any time in doing so.

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