Can The West
Modernize Islam?

August 19th, 2010 at 2:28 pm | 85 Comments |

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Should the West be at war with Islam? In a critique of the hard-line stance against Islam, John Guardiano rebukes David Swindle, who has called for the “eradication” of Islam. Marine officer Guardiano is applying his firepower against a low-value target. Let me suggest to John that he turn his attention to some brave and thoughtful people who also stand against Islam with no less vigor but with much more sense: the Human Rights Service, located out of Norway. Contributors to HRS’s website are secularists of the left and right, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, and Bruce Bawer. These writers are at war with Islam too – a war of enlightenment ideals against a fundamentalist faith, exactly the kind of war that Hirsi Ali’s hero, Voltaire, waged against the Catholic Church.

The Human Rights Service writers (and I am one of them) reject the postmodern proposition that the plain words of a text are endlessly malleable; that they allow for any interpretation the reader wants from them. When the Qur’an states that the testimony of a woman is not worth as much as a man’s, it is not to be read as an esoteric, arcane piece of apocrypha that secretly holds a feminist message: it is instead simply to be taken for what it obviously says – and then condemned. There’s no hidden message beneath the contempt for women. It’s just sexist.

Like the Enlightenment tamed Christianity, Islam too must be moderated. But Volatire, Hume, Montesquieu, and Madison have not yet found their Islamic equivalents, perhaps because certain clearly specified Qur’anic values that simply cannot be reconciled with Enlightenment ones.

The great thinkers of the past tried to undermine the values of the Church. They did not do this by treating it with awed reverence and solemn respect. The entire point of Voltaire’s critique of Christianity was, indeed, to undermine the religion and drag it into the modern world. The Enlightenment was, at its core, a war on faith in the name of reason. It was a century-long process that involved much kicking and screaming, a lot of excess, and a few tragically misguided philosophies. But the glory of its end result can hardly be denied: the crowning achievement of the American project, and its secular, capitalist culture – the first country on Earth that placed full legal primacy in the individual.

Islam has not yet gone through that messy process. It must. To say so is no more “Islamaphobic” than Thomas Jefferson was “Christophobic.”

Some may concede that above point – but argue that criticisms must from “insiders.” Apostates like Hirsi Ali and Ibn Warraw, infidels like Bawer and me and achieve nothing. But why can we not speak for ourselves? If even Europeans won’t condemn the misogyny of the burqa, how can someone who’s grown up with it fight against it? The West cannot hope for Islamic reformers to come forward unless we affirm our confidence in our own values. Debates about tone and rhetorical approach are completely appropriate, but our fundamentals must be clear.

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85 Comments so far ↓

  • drdredel

    Does this website have a moderator? I was under the impression that there were certain rules we had to follow… a decorum.

    I don’t want to know how Alex and David feel about one another and I have no interest in their squabble (Sorry Alex, nothing personal).

    If their discussion was hostile but at least on-topic, I wouldn’t mention it, but this is just silly.

  • Xclamation

    Let me start by saying that I don’t believe I have anything of great import to add to this discussion, but it’s late and my baby won’t stop crying for more than 5 minutes at a go, so here I am.

    I’m not going to pretend to have anything like a fully-formed view on how Enlightenment-era thinkers “tamed” Christianity. But I will propose that to think they did it on their own seems overly simple (this is quite possibly a point that’s already been conceded). What I’m getting at is that while it’s a good thing to stand up to anti-liberal (in the old school sense) regimes and ideologies, mere opposition won’t get the job done, and it’s on this point that I sometimes feel anti-radical-Islam conservatives fall flat. There’s a lot of talk about what’s wrong with Islam but precious little discussion about the day-to-day practicalities of life in the Middle East (and else where) that makes such radical schools of thought attractive to people. It often feels as though the options were giving to Muslims (both at home and abroad) boils down to “become just like us and forsake Allah entirely or enjoy spending the next couple of decades worrying about when an American tank is going to point it’s cannon at your front door”

    This leads to my second point… the tone so many people take is all wrong. It’s fine, good and important work to criticize anti-human thoughts and approaches, but the zeal with which such a task is often taken to seems to suggest that there is absolutely no good to be found in Islamic thought. A good example is Imam Rauf. I agree, he is unwilling to condemn certain groups which most Americans (I’m assuming anyway) would agree are terrorist-based. However, if the goal is really to “modernize” rather than “eradicate” Islam, then we all have to accept that a certain amount of compromising (besides, as one liberal evangelical has pointed out, no one expects him to apologize whenever some white Christian does something horrible – http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2010/08/please-forgive-me-for-the-actions-of-extremists-i-have-never-met-who-commit-acts-of-violence-that-i-.html).

    It’s no different than with fundamental Christianity. Sure, I’d really love it if conservative ministers would lay off the homosexual community, but you know what? So long as they’re sticking to speeches, sermons and public utterances (and assuming their words don’t actively encourage physical violence), then I’m willing to give them a pass. So long, of course, that they allow me the freedom to chide them once in a while for their positions.

    One final, and completely off the topic thought: I have never in my life fed a troll before, but honest to the God I don’t believe in, if I had to chose between a dinner date with an actual pedophile or Swindle, I’d go with the guy who wants to eat at the McDonald’s across from the playground. And I’d get us window-seat.

  • jakester

    DeepSouthPopulist
    yes but the reverse is also happening to those immigrants here and in Europe. Many more are shucking their Islamic baggage and becoming westernized. No one said it was going to be easy as well as any country that lets large amounts of out of control third worlders in is asking for trouble.

  • busboy33

    @abk:

    “abk1985 // Aug 19, 2010 at 8:24 pm ”

    A fantastic comment. Well said.

  • Slide

    Alex, Jakester, you might be interested in the below article. Perhaps you would like to attend?

    Quran-Burning Church Vows To Proceed Without Fire Permit

    By Kevin Eckstrom
    Religion News Service

    (RNS) Fire officials in Gainesville, Fla., have denied a permit to a church that wants to burn Qurans on Sept. 11, but church officials said they’ll go ahead with the protest that has garnered worldwide attention.

    Leaders of the Dove World Outreach Center say “Islam is of the Devil” and plan to burn copies of the Islamic holy book on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

    Gene Prince, interim chief of Gainesville Fire Rescue, told The Gainesville Sun that he informed the church on Tuesday (Aug. 17) that the protest violates local fire-prevention laws, which include rules against burning corrugate cardboard or office paper, which includes books.

    “It wouldn’t matter what the book is they’re burning,” Deputy Chief Tim Hayes told the newspaper.

    Regardless, the church sent out an e-mail vowing to go burn the books anyway. “City of Gainesville denies burn permit — BUT WE WILL STILL BURN KORANS,” The Sun reported.

    The church’s website includes a list of 10 reasons to burn the Quran, including “Islamic Law is totalitarian in nature,” Islamic teaching contains “irrational fear and loathing of the West” and that the Quran teaches that Jesus “was NOT the Son of God.

  • Slide

    I asked Alex a simple question: Simple question for you Alex, Do we want to encourage Muslims like Imam Rauf, who speak out against terrorism, who show solidarity with Jews at a service for Daniel Pearl, or should he be put into the category as being one of our enemies because he belongs to an “untamed” religion as you like to call it. This is not rhetorical, I would like an answer to this question, can you do that for me?”

    AK’s response? Rauf speaks out against terrorism as he defines it. He may not define what Hamas does as terrorism, but as resistance. Do we know this? He refuses to condemn them: I think we do know this.

    I don’t think that was an answer. Again, I posted an op-ed that Rauf wrote in the NY Daily News where he presented his anti-terrorists viewpoints. I posted a report of Rauf being invited to a memorial service by Daniel Pearl’s widow and his declaring, “I am a Jew”. He has written three books, the themes of which have been described as an attempt to build a bridge between the west and Muslims. There is extensive information available which quite convincingly shows that he is a moderate and enemy of Islamic extremism.

    So again I ask you Alex, do you want to encourage Muslims like Rauf, isn’t he part of the “taming” process you talk about incessantly, or do you want to continue to demonize and smear him like you have in the past by falsely claiming he advocates the destruction of Israel? Do you want to apologize for lying about him in such a manner? Or will you continue to Swindle him? hmmmm?

  • Slide

    Oh, and perhaps to help you in formulating your apology to Imam Rauf this would be helpful:

    A May 21 New York Daily News article quoted Rauf stating: “We condemn terrorists. We recognize it exists in our faith, but we are committed to eradicate it.” He also stated: “We want to rebuild this community. … This is about moderate Muslims who intend to be and want to be part of the solution.”

    An August 2 Slate.com article reported that Rauf “has denounced church burnings in Muslim countries, rejected Islamic triumphalism over Christians and Jews, and proposed to reclaim Islam from violent radicals such as Osama Bin Laden.”

    A June 23, 2004, New York Times article reported that Rauf “condemns suicide bombings and all violence carried out in the name of religion.” The Times further reported that Rauf “meets regularly with Christian and Jewish leaders, not only to forge a common front but also to explain his belief that Islamic terrorists do not come from another moral universe — that they arise from oppressive societies that he feels Washington had a hand in creating.”

    A June 8, 2004, Newsday article (accessed via Nexis) reported: “Rauf has done little else since the terrorist attacks that pulled him from his mahogany pulpit in the shadow of Ground Zero. At the outset, he categorically condemned suicide bombers and, in fact, any violence committed in the name of religion.” The article further reported: “He also said that American policies ‘were an accessory to the crime that happened’ since they had armed a generation of jihadists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan,” and quoted him saying, “Explaining is not justifying. … I want people to understand the things that have fueled terrorism, because if we address them, that’s how we eliminate terror.”

    According to a September 8, 2002, Denver Post article (from Nexis), Rauf told congregants at his Manhattan mosque: “I can confidently assert that I am closer to my Jewish and Christian brothers here a [sic] than the Muslim militants carrying a narrow view.”

    A May 21 Daily News editorial stated that Rauf “has a long history of opposing radical teachings and reaching out across religious lines to Christians and Jews. He leads a mosque in Tribeca, several of whose members were killed in the collapse of the World Trade Center.”

    O’Reilly noted Rauf’s comments are similar to the views of many. On The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly struck down Goldberg’s claims that Rauf’s comments were somehow radical, noting that Rauf was “pointing to the U.S.’ support of Israel and its so-called occupation of places like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait — where we have troops stationed — which has been around. That theory has been around.” O’Reilly added: “So it was couched in the — America’s foreign policy ignited this Al Qaeda phenomenon, which led to this death.”

    In an August 17 article noting that Rauf worked with the FBI to “provide agents with ‘a clear picture’ ” of Islam, The Huffington Post reported that “[f]or those who actually know or have worked with the imam, the descriptions are frighteningly — indeed, depressingly — unhinged from reality.” The article further noted that Rauf has served to “promote a more positive integration of Muslims into American society” and reported that “[h]is efforts and profile rose dramatically after the [9-11] attacks when, in need of a calm voice to explain why greater Islam was not a force bent on terrorism, he became a go-to quote for journalists on the beat.” The article continued:

    Along the way, he rubbed elbows with or was embraced by a host of mainstream political figures, including several in the Republican Party. John Bennett, the man who preceded Isaacson as president of the Aspen Institute, was impressed enough by the imam’s message that he became a co-founder of his Cordoba Initiative, which seeks to promote cross-cultural engagement through a variety of initiatives including, most recently, the center in downtown Manhattan.

    In November 2004, Feisal Abdul Rauf participated in a lengthy discussion on religion and government with, among others, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In May 2006, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright placed the imam among a host of luminaries who inspired her book, “The Mighty and the Almighty.”

    Albright eventually collaborated with Feisal Abdul Rauf and others on more substantive political projects. In September 2008, the two, along with a number of other foreign policy heavyweights (including Richard Armitage and Dennis Ross) signed a report claiming that the war on terror had been inadequate in actually improving U.S. security. No less a figure than Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, embraced the findings.

    The article went on to note that Rauf worked with the Bush administration, being sent on speaking tours by the State Department “on multiple occasions to help promote tolerance and religious diversity in the Arab and Muslim world”:

    Feisal Abdul Rauf was dispatched on speaking tours by the past State Department on multiple occasions to help promote tolerance and religious diversity in the Arab and Muslim world. In 2007, he went to Morocco, the UAE, Qatar and Egypt on such missions, a State Department official confirmed to the Huffington Post.

    In February 2006, meanwhile, he took part in a U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar with Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes, a close adviser to President Bush. Months later, Feisal Abdul Rauf wrote favorably about his meeting with Hughes, noting that he wanted to further the discussion with other members of the administration.

    Aspen Institute CEO Isaacson: Rauf “has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism, and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam.” In its article, The Huffington Post quoted Aspen Institute president and CEO Walter Isaacson saying, “Imam Feisal has participated at the Aspen Institute in Muslim-Christian-Jewish working groups looking at ways to promote greater religious tolerance. … He has consistently denounced radical Islam and terrorism, and promoted a moderate and tolerant Islam. Some of this work was done under the auspices of his own group, the Cordoba Initiative. I liked his book, and I participated in some of the meetings in 2004 or so. This is why I find it a shame that his good work is being undermined by this inflamed dispute. He is the type of leader we should be celebrating in America, not undermining.”

    ADL’s Foxman: Rauf “a moderate imam” who “certainly has spoken out against some of the extremism in the Islamic world.” On the August 5 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, which opposes the planned Islamic center, stated that Rauf “wrote a book about moderation and tolerance” and that “as far as we’re concerned, he is what he is: a moderate imam. He certainly has spoken out against some of the extremism in the Islamic world.”

    Colleagues have reportedly described Rauf “as having built a career preaching tolerance and interfaith understanding.” A December 8, 2009, New York Times article stated: “Those who have worked with him say if anyone could pull off what many regard to be a delicate project, it would be Imam Feisal, whom they described as having built a career preaching tolerance and interfaith understanding.” The Times quoted Rabbi Arthur Schneier, leader of New York City’s Park East Synagogue, as saying, ”He subscribes to my credo: ‘Live and let live.’ ” The Times also reported that Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ U.S.A., is “a supporter” of Rauf.

    ___________________________________________________________

    whew….. but in a prior post when I suggested Rauf was a moderate, Alex flippantly had these comments:

    Alex Knepper // Aug 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm: If you think that a man who supports Hamas is a modern-day David Hume, then you need to visit a psychiatrist.

    Alex Knepper // Aug 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm Have we really descended so far that any Muslim who doesn’t want to blow up buildings is considered a “moderate”?

    Still don’t think he is a moderate Alex ?

  • Slide

    Ok. insomnia cured.

  • Alex Knepper

    @Slide – I don’t burn books, and I certainly oppose burning them in the name of Christianity. That church is doing it in the name of faith; I study the Qur’an to understand it in the name of reason. The people who are crusading against Islam because they think that Muslims need them some Jesus are not my allies.

    Also: I have never said that he is dangerous or that he actively engages in anti-American activity. If he did, I’d be against even letting the mosque be built! It’s not that he’s dangerous, but rather that he refuses to condemn Hamas. And you know why as well as I do: he loses credibility amongst many segments of Muslims if he gives any indication of supporting Israel or opposing the ‘resistance.’ You’re buying into word games of his. He says he denounces terrorism unequivocally — why then, when asked to condemn Hamas, won’t he do it? The sad fact is that he probably does not believe that Hamas is a terrorist organization, but rather a legitimate political resistance.

    I don’t care what some random-ass colleagues of his or the Islamophiles (“Islam is peaceful and merciful!” – Bush) from the Bush Administration have to say about him. Why do people keep bringing up the fact that George W. Bush was cool with him? Is the left suddenly enamored with Bush? I, for one, think that Bush was astonishingly naive when it comes to Islam. I can decide for myself on the merits whether he’s a moderate or not. If anyone who opposes al-Qaeda is a moderate, then sure, he’s a moderate. But my standards are a little higher than that.

  • Slide

    or maybe not. One last post. Alex you made a lot of how Islam treats women. Horrible. Did you know that the Imam Rauf is very much for changing that? I urge everyone to go to his website and check out what they are trying to accomplish but here is a snipped on women’s issues:We, members of the Shura Council, declare gender equality to be an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith. As Muslims, we affirm our conviction that the Muslim woman is worthy of respect and dignity, that as a legal individual, spiritual being, social person, responsible agent, free citizen, and servant of God, she holds fundamentally equal rights to exercise her abilities and talents in all areas of human activity. Furthermore, we insist that these rights are embedded within the Qur’an and six objectives of Shari’a—the protection and promotion of religion (al-din), life (al-nafs), mind (al-‘aql), family (al-nasl), wealth (al-mal), and dignity (al-‘ird). As the Shura Council, we embrace our collective and individual responsibility to work towards building a unified change movement of Muslim women – driven by compassion and justice – that will enable Muslim women to realize their full potential as individuals and in relationship to family, community, nation, and globe. http://www.cordobainitiative.org/?external_link=www.asmasociety.org/wise/

    No Alex, perhaps he is not, as you say, a modern day Hume, but damn, one would think the right would be supportive of a guy like this and not antagonistic.

  • Alex Knepper

    I’ll reply to more tomorrow, sorry to everyone else.

  • Slide

    Sorry Alex but you lose all credibility if you cannot bring yourself to admit that Rauf is a moderate. Your intransigence in the face of a mountain of evidence, spanning decades, tells me much more about you than it does about the Imam. It is clear. Thank-you for displaying your bigotry so transparently.

    Oh, and you STILL haven’t answered the question, but there is no need at this point. Mission Accomplished. You can go back to your lover’s spat with that Swindle character.

  • Alex Knepper

    What about quotes like this, where he openly declares his desire to see sharia in America?

    http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/ground-zero-imam-i-dont-believe-in-religious-dialogue/

    “Throughout my discussions with contemporary Muslim theologians, it is clear an Islamic state can be established in more than just a single form or mold. It can be established through a kingdom or a democracy. The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed.”

    “New laws were permitted after the death of Muhammad, so long of course that these laws do not contradict the Quran or the Deeds of Muhammad … so they create institutions that assure no conflicts with Sharia.”

    That’s what he wrote IN ARABIC. He’s saying one thing to the Arab-Muslim world and another to Americans. It’s like I’ve said before — there is likely no such thing as a “moderate imam.” You cannot be that deep into Islam and not internalize its contempt for modernity. And as we plainly see here: he wants sharia, not liberal democracy, to rule the day.

  • Slide

    Alex, Alex, Alex……. what is that old saying? When in a hole, stop digging. The right gets a few buzzwords and that is all they need. Sharia Law now is the big boogy man. So silly really. So what are you saying Alex? Do you think that Rauf secretly wants to impose Muslim Sharia Law on the United States? Or is Sharia just like what many Christians and Jews say when they want the law to conform to our Jude0-Christian values? How many references to the bible can we find by Republican politicians when discussing legislation? What is the difference?

    Oh, I know what you are going to say. Sharia has all these horrible things… subjugation of women etc., but as I showed in a previous post, its all in the interpretation right? Does Judeo-Christian values include execution for homosexuals like the Bible would suggest? Of course not. Its all in the interpretation. So what does the Imam think Sharia means in terms of women’s right? This:We, members of the Shura Council, declare gender equality to be an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith. As Muslims, we affirm our conviction that the Muslim woman is worthy of respect and dignity, that as a legal individual, spiritual being, social person, responsible agent, free citizen, and servant of God, she holds fundamentally equal rights to exercise her abilities and talents in all areas of human activity. Furthermore, we insist that these rights are embedded within the Qur’an and six objectives of Shari’a

    Sounds pretty good to me. Better than the right’s use of the Bible to legislate against SSM for instance.

  • Slide

    Alex Knepper: “I don’t care what some random-ass colleagues of his or the Islamophiles (“Islam is peaceful and merciful!” – Bush) from the Bush Administration have to say about him. Why do people keep bringing up the fact that George W. Bush was cool with him? ‘

    Because they know him. They have talked to him. They have heard him speak. They have interacted with him and they have come away with the conclusion that he is a moderate and friend of the United States. And we use Bush administration officials because we KNOW that if we quoted liberals you would just do a “LOL post” or some nonsense because of course, liberals have no credibility in your world.

    You know I think it is despicable for you to be called a pedofile. If untrue (and I have no reason to believe it is) it is a horrible accusation. Why can’t you see that painting a man that that has dedicated the last decade to fighting Islamic extremism as an extremist himself isn’t as equally horrible. You don’t know anything about him other than the snippets that are hand fed to you by right wing blogs. And good ‘ole Alex takes the bait and runs with it. Reprehensible.

    You want Islam tamed and here you have a guy that has a megaphone in the Muslim world saying things like women should have complete equal right but not good enough for Alex. Nope… he is still one of the bad guys. Why? Well because he won’t take a political position on Hamas. Its about Israel isn’t it? It’s always about Israel with you Alex isn’t it?

    Shame on you Alex.

  • British_Lefty

    ” He may not define what Hamas does as terrorism, but as resistance. Do we know this? He refuses to condemn them: I think we do know this.”

    My dad always said to me that it’s always clear who’s at fault after a car accident right up until you speak to the other guy!

    Hamas have engaged in some deplorable tactics in their fight for a homeland. There is more to it than that though which is what I suspect Rauf was trying to say. Those people who understandably support Israel however need to open their eyes!

    Nelson Mandela’s activities against the Apartheid government of South Africa were described as terrorism by Reagan and Thatcher. Designations can be transient. It is notable that Mandela now equates much of the treatment of the Palestinians to Apartheid.

    Hamas has no capacity to be anything more than a deadly nuisance… they do not pose a strategic threat to Israel. I don’t believe anyone in the area does.. not even Iran! There is no combination of armed forces in that region that is a match for the IDF. Not even close. The truth is that Israel is going nowhere! Yet everyone who declares any opposition to their state or its policies is treated as if they are about to embark on a pogrom or holocaust. Just like racial segregation, the days when Jews were openly persecuted are gone and are not coming back. Muslims are the target nowadays!

    I would be curious to know if anyone here has thoughts on any of the following :

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7616269.stm

    http://jta.org/news/article/2008/12/07/1001379/olmert-hebron-violence-pogrom-against-palestinians

    http://en.trend.az/news/world/israel/1365191.html

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/israel-to-compensate-palestinians-20090607-bzv1.html

    http://www.neurope.eu/articles/91857.php

    Like I said 2 sides to every story. If you strip out all the geo-politics and go down to the local level, can you imagine for a second if it was your family member that was a victim of such violence and a Hamas recruiter offered an opportunity for revenge, albeit cynically do you think that person would be thinking about the greater good or the wider truth? I suspect the side above is not told often in your country. The Jewish people need to realise that this is no longer 1945 or 1967 but 2010! They have achieved a level of security against historical prejudice that, as a black man, I deeply envy. So who is it that needs modernising again?

    Hamas is not Al-Qaeda. Hamas has a legitimate territorial dispute. Yes they have strayed to the extreme in their struggle but I wonder what we will find if we were to scrutinise every action taken by British and/or American troops in the War on Terr’r. Anyone remember Abu Ghraib?

    It’s always easy to lecture. Less easy to be introspective.

  • CentristNYer

    Knepper: “Why do people keep bringing up the fact that George W. Bush was cool with him?”

    Because it shows how irresponsibly far to the right the party has drifted since W’s departure from the stage. The center of gravity within the Republican party has moved so dramatically in less than two years that what once seemed like it was a mainstream conservative position is now thought to be in RINO territory.

    In other words, when George W. Bush is considered your party’s voice of reason, you know you’ve gone off the rails.

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Xclamation, the post is as much about attacking Christianity as it is wistfully hoping for the “taming” Islam. How many “great” thinkers actually get things wrong, terribly wrong? Thales, Hippocrates, Descartes, Hobbes, Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, to name just a few. And the ones who came up with this notion of a tamed Christianity are much lesser lights who forget the history of both Christianity and Islam. Suffice it to say that mankind, having a broken and fallen nature, creates civilization and true culture when it embraces virtue, and when it rejects virtue and the natural law that underlies it, mankind descends into barbarism. Barbarism today however is of a different sort, the kind where we use unborn humans for experimentation, seriously consider ethical systems that deny personhood to the infant, engage in high-tech exploitations of humans the world over, embrace virtual perversions, celebrate “safe” promiscuity, hold up deviancy as a kind of mark of distinction, and consider sterilizing the poor like cattle. The early Christians stood up against the versions of these barbarisms of their time and were persecuted for sport. Christianity is the same then as it was 1000 years ago as it is now. What Islam needs is not the dark light of secular humanism, but the light of the truth of Christ.

  • roesch

    Slide thanks for all the research and sources that you have provided in terms of understanding Feisal Abdul Rauf’s views. While I think Islam as a whole needs more critical- Enlightenment/ reason approaches, it is true that some from within are trying to bring this about.

  • Alex Knepper

    “Thales, Hippocrates, Descartes, Hobbes, Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, to name just a few. ”

    Ooh, lay off Hobbes and Nietzsche, now.

    “Xclamation, the post is as much about attacking Christianity as it is wistfully hoping for the “taming” Islam.”

    Thank you so much for recognizing this! I’m so sick of people coming in here and whining to me about how I need to attack the Bible if I’m going to attack the Qur’an. Finally, someone who recognizes my perspective is one of an anti-theist, not merely anti-Islamist.

  • easton

    “but rather that he refuses to condemn Hamas. And you know why as well as I do: he loses credibility amongst many segments of Muslims if he gives any indication of supporting Israel or opposing the ‘resistance.’ You’re buying into word games of his. He says he denounces terrorism unequivocally — why then, when asked to condemn Hamas”

    When I was young at my church I remember seeing many cars with the bumper sticker of “Bobby Sands, free at last.” Suffice it to say, the priests there never, to my recollection, condemned IRA violence. Nor was I aware it would have been a necessary condition for any Catholic church to be built. Interesting that Alex seems to believe it is Freedom of Religion or Speech, that Rauf has to tailor his speech to suit Alex in order for his Mosque to be built, if not, no Mosque. Here is this about Rep. Peter King of NY from the political carnival:

    In the 1980s, King frequently traveled to Northern Ireland to meet with IRA members. In 1982, speaking at a pro-IRA rally in Nassau County, New York, King said: “We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.” A Northern Irish judge ordered King ejected from the former’s courtroom, describing him as “an obvious collaborator with the IRA”. He became involved with NORAID, an organization that the British, Irish and US governments accuse of financing IRA activities and providing them with weapons. He was banned from appearing on British TV for his pro IRA views and refusing to condemn IRA activity in the UK.

    In 2000, he called then-presidential candidate George W. Bush a tool of “anti-Catholic bigoted forces.”

    He stopped supporting the IRA after being offended by Irish public opposition to the invasion of Iraq, labelling it as begrudgery rather than suspicion of and opposition to the war.

    In 2008, King spoke in defense of bail for a fugitive IRA member, Pól Brennan, who had escaped from prison in the UK and been detained in Texas 15 years later. The IRA member, who had broken out of prison during the Maze Prison escape and entered America illegally, was being held without bail after his work permit expired; King said: “My experience dealing with (Irish) republicans is that they don’t jump bail in this country. They honor their commitments.”

    And King has been lambasting the building of the Mosque without anyone in the media bringing up his defense of the IRA.

    By the way abk, that was a great posting.

  • Alex Knepper

    @easton — Not sure what King’s lunacy has to do with this imam. What is this: Peter King’s a stupid hypocrite, therefore Alex Knepper is not allowed to condemn Rauf? How in hell does this follow? Total non-sequitur.

  • sinz54

    Slide: Why can’t you see that painting a man that that has dedicated the last decade to fighting Islamic extremism as an extremist himself isn’t as equally horrible.
    You guys keep contradicting yourselves at every turn.

    Your original argument was that freedom of religion is an ABSOLUTE, remember? No matter what the religious viewpoint, it has to be allowed total freedom to express itself. Otherwise we end up picking and choosing which religions are acceptable, which is unconstitutional.

    And yet that’s exactly what you have just done yourself, by defending the imam on the basis of his alleged “moderation.”

    If you liberals are truly right that freedom of religion is an absolute (funny how you never said any such thing about Christianity or Mormonism), then it doesn’t matter if the imam is a moderate or a radical.

    Even if the imam went around claiming that “America must discard its Constitution and bow down to Allah!” and openly admired Osama bin Laden, you would be siding with his right to build a mosque in which to express such views openly, yes?

    That’s what absolute freedom of religion means. It means you can’t set up a “moderation test” in which we will determine whether a particular imam is “moderate” enough to build a mosque or not.

    And by the way, it would also mean the right of the Mormons to build a church in a gay neighborhood in San Francisco, in which they could preach that homosexuality is immoral. Would you also be for their rights then?

  • Slide

    sinz I don’t know what they hell you are talking about quite frankly. Freedom of religion is absolute. My point about Rauf has to do with showing the inconsistency of the right.

    The right always says, “where are all the moderate Muslims condemning terrorists?” and I point to Imam Rauf who has been doing exactly that for a decade. You all say how horrible Islam is because of how they treat women and I point to Imam’s Rauf’s website where he unequivocally supports full and equal rites for women and goes further to say that that is his interpretation of Sharia. Alex bellows that there are no equivalents of Hume, Voltaire, etc in the Muslim world taking on the fundamental elements of their religion and trying to “tame” the religion and again I point to Rauf saying, “I am a Jew” at a memorial to Daniel Pearl.

    But….. despite his doing everything that the right says we need Muslims to do, he is still vilified by the right. Read the right wing blogs about him. Vile and slanderous attacks. So who exactly is contradicting themselves again?

  • easton

    Not sure what King’s lunacy has to do with this imam. What is this: Peter King’s a stupid hypocrite, therefore Alex Knepper is not allowed to condemn Rauf? How in hell does this follow? Total non-sequitur.

    What? No, lack of consistency. Catholic priests and politicians who have long supported the IRA were never called out or criticized. I can promise you if Peter King were on the board and they were going to build a Catholic Y at that site, nobody anywhere would have said a peep. And be honest about that.

    And, of course, you criticize Rauf for not forcefully denouncing Hamas, yet King is a sitting congressman whom Republicans are perfectly happy supporting. One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter, yada yada

    Again, you are stating that Rauf has to tailor his speech to conform to your views for the Mosque to have any legitimacy, while at the same time you are calling for Islam to be modernized (ie. accepting of viewpoints that you disagree with). I have never heard of any Irish priest being called to condemn IRA violence in order for the church to be considered valid.

    You are essentially defining a modernized Islam as people who think like you and agree with you,
    but you seem to have no problem with non Islams who don’t.

    Look, I think both the IRA and Hamas are evil, violent organizations. But I was also honest, growing up I knew many people who supported the IRA (I am talking relatives as well, people who were happy to donate to front groups for the IRA) I consider their actions now to be wrong, but I don’t consider them to be evil or not modern. You are stating the standards far too high.

    Rauf’s viewpoint of Hamas is frankly not your business, unless he is going onto American TV and praising and extolling it. He hasn’t, you had to hunt and peck for Arabic websites (in Arabic) to find him saying anything you disagree with as though it is SHOCKING that people say one thing to one group and another to another.

    Disagree with him about Hamas, fine. Pretend that Muslims will be open to your call for change while demanding that they all hold the same views about Hamas as you? Foolish.

  • busboy33

    Congrats Mr. Swindle — you’ve guaranteed that not only will I never visit nrb again, I will actively push all of my friends and acquaintences to shun your site as well.

    Way to generate those page hits!

  • lcandell

    Mr. Knepper et al’s insatiable obsession with remaking the world in our image continues to get us into terrible trouble. Yes, I also consider it wrong that women are made to conceal themselves but then I have not been raised in a fundamentalist Islamic culture and I certainly don’t consider burqas to be a casus belli since I already don’t believe that waging war in Afghanistan is in our best interest.

    No more empire!

  • DavidSwindle

    I don’t care, Busboy33.

  • easton

    Swindle dude, don’t part your hair in the middle, with that huge proboscis you look freaking scary.
    There is no way you are getting laid by anyone. You are a thoroughly ugly person both inside and outside.

  • SkepticalIdealist

    Swindle is frantic, fanatical moron who uses name-calling as a substitute for a coherent argument. Seriously, his response to this article looks like something off of Glenn Beck’s chalk board. There’s like 4 ad-hominem attacks in the headline alone.

    You don’t need a blog, you need a rabies shot you mouth-frothing lunatic. You don’t even merit a rebuttal. To quote Chris Hitchens, “That which is presented without evidence can be dismissed without evidence,” but I’d take it a step further and say that which is predicated on an ad-hominem, should be dismissed with an ad-hominem.

  • DavidSwindle

    Just what I’d expect from the Frum Forum locker room. Yawn.

  • Fairy Hardcastle

    Have to agree with the Swindle that Knepper was gratuitously perverted in that response, but perhaps the young man doesn’t realize that. His habits may have so informed his perceptions on what is perverted or not that he simply has lost track of where the line is.

  • I den seksuelle tingsliggørelses forsvar - Damefrokosten | Damefrokosten

    [...] den anden side af Atlanten. Alex Knepper har skrevet vidt og bredt om bl.a. populærkultur, sex og islam, og han argumenterer her for at se sex, kroppen og prostitution som positive og legitime [...]

  • I den seksuelle tingsliggørelses forsvar | Damefrokosten

    [...] den anden side af Atlanten. Alex Knepper har skrevet vidt og bredt om bl.a. populærkultur, sex og islam, og han argumenterer her for at se sex, kroppen og prostitution som positive og legitime [...]