You learn more from what people do or don’t do than from what they say
“If Islam were truly against killing, one could hardly imagine a scenario more tailored to evoke Muslim outrage than unrepentant child killers literally receiving the royal treatment at Islam’s holiest site…”
|Is Islam really against killing people? That’s what we always hear in the wake of high-profile terror attacks, even if it contradicts what we usually see. Sometimes we’re even told that the terrorists aren’t Muslim (despite what the terrorists themselves think and say).
But talk is cheap. Actions speak louder. Do Muslims really act as if killing is against their religion? Consider the case of Ahlam Tamimi:
Terrorists could hardly make it more obvious that innocent civilians are being targeted than when they bomb a restaurant packed with dozens of women, children and babies. This is exactly happened on August 9, 2001 at a Sbarro’s pizzaria in Jerusalem.
The monster who picked out this target was Ahlam Tamimi, a female journalism student from Jordan who also planted a bomb at a grocery store in the same area. Tamimi was not shy about her religious motivation in murdering innocent people:
Among those casualties whose murder was “made possible by Allah” were at least seven children and a pregnant woman, along with eight others. Nearly 130 suffered injury, some maimed for life.
It’s hard to imagine a purer example of innocent people being killed in the name of Allah than this. Were it truly an offense to Islam, what better opportunity for Muslims to prove it by demonstrating their outrage.
Here’s what happened instead (in Ahlam Tamimi’s own words):
Ahlam Tamimi received 16 life sentences for her role in the attack. From an Israeli prison, she snubbed her victims and made it quite clear that she had no remorse or sympathy for them. Her only regret was that there were not more of them:
Even during that interview, over 10 years later, Ms. Tamimi expressed joy when hearing for the first time that eight children had been killed – one more than what she had previously thought. In fact, she could not stop smiling at the news.
So, here is a devout Muslim not only killing people explicitly in the name of Islam, but openly praising Allah for the slaughter of children… just the sort of thing that Muslim leaders in the West claim “horrifies” them. Yet, what was their reaction? Total silence.
At this point, apologists might say that there was no point in expressing outrage at the time because it was a localized event in which justice was served. How does it affect them, they might ask. Terrorists aren’t even Muslim, remember? Some nut does something bad somewhere in the world and Muslims elsewhere have to answer for it? Why, that sounds like “Islamophobia!”
But wait… that isn’t the end of the story.
Despite her crime, Ahlam Tamimi was part of a group of terrorists released in an October 2011 swap for an Israeli prisoner of Hamas. Muslims could have protested her release if they felt that she were guilty of “horrifying” crimes in the name of their religion. None did.
Instead of being outraged, some Muslims actually celebrated Ms. Tamimi’s release. In fact, she was treated like a hero – and not just by Palestinians. The keepers of Islam’s holiest sites subsequently invited her to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca along with the other terrorists as guests of the Saudi king!
The pilgrimage known as the Haj is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is so important to the religion that tens of millions of impoverished Muslims, some disabled, scrimp and save for decades to be able to afford it. The waiting list in Indonesia can be up to 39 years – and that’s after spending an average of one month’s income just to be in the lottery.
They should try killing innocent people in the name of Allah, because that’s exactly what earned Ahmal Tamimi and her fellow terrorists an all-expense paid trip to Mecca on a private Saudi jet!
If Islam were truly against killing, one could hardly imagine a scenario more tailored to evoke Muslim outrage than unrepentant child killers literally receiving the royal treatment at Islam’s holiest site. So, how much outrage was there? Zero. Absolutely none.
If Muslims want people to believe that they believe terrorism is an offense to Islam, then they completely blew the moment of truth test. The religion notorious for throwing deadly tantrums over hijabs, films, books, cartoons, church buildings, stuffed teddy bears and monkeys couldn’t bring itself to even go through the motions of outrage when terrorists butcher innocents in the name of Allah and then get feted at the expense of other Muslims at Islam’s holiest site.
(The episode also belies the aphorism that “terrorists aren’t Muslim”, since it is a fact that non-Muslims aren’t allowed to set foot in Mecca, much less live large there while pilgrims elsewhere in the city are almost literally starving in horrid conditions).
Clearly, when we are told that Islam is “against terrorism and the killing of innocent people,” all is not what it seems. The truth is that Islam has its own definition of “innocent people” in which heretics, apostates, ‘hypocrites’, consenting adults and non-submissive infidels do not qualify, and so killing them isn’t “terror”, but divinely sanctioned punishment or jihad. In fact, Muhammad said he had been “made victorious through terror,” and the Quran prescribes harsh treatment of both non-practicing Muslims and unbelievers.
This doesn’t mean that most Muslims agree with the violence, but the contradiction between what their religion teaches and what their hearts tell them accounts for their ambivalence – and our skepticism. Empathy for those outside the faith is never encouraged by Islam, explaining why the Muslim community acts almost the opposite of how it is expected to much of the time, and why the passion and outrage in denouncing Islamic terror is largely absent in comparison to what we see when Muslims are genuinely offended over something relatively trivial.
Non-violent Muslims are fond of saying that they can’t be held responsible for what another person does. Fair enough. But aren’t they responsible for what they choose? The case of Ahmal Tamimi isn’t about what one person or one group teaches us about Islam. It is about what all Muslims teach us by choosing to stay quiet in such glaring circumstances.