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Samizdata quote of the day

A moderate Muslim has not understood Islam.

Sam Solomon, twenty five minutes into a remarkable video interview of him by Ezra Levant.

Solomon, who was raised a Muslim but is now a Christian, explains, in particular, just what is so explosive about the threat to Islam of Christianity. Built into Islam, says Solomon, is a huge bundle of falsehood about what Christianity actually says. Simply learning about Christianity by reading the Bible, whether you accept in or not, will automatically undermine your Muslim faith.

33 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • guy herbert

    Well a Christian convert would say that, wouldn’t they? They need to justify their current position in in contrast to the previous one, and explain why everything is now different. Converts are consequently often the worst fanatics. Give me an apostate or the lapsed for realism.

    AFAICS Solomon is a convert to a charismatic variety of Christianity that many, if not most, Christians would regard as “a huge bundle of falsehood” (i.e. mistaken) about what Christianity actually says.

  • revver

    The peculiar thing about Islam is that the adherents tend to misunderstand it more than non-muslims. A cursory glance at jihadwatch.com will show what I mean.

    “Give me an apostate or the lapsed for realism.”

    o.k. The Muslim nations are largely poor, illiterate, oppressive, and lack basic human rights. Christian countries (historically, traditionally, or however you phrase it) for a large are quite the opposite.

    Looking at net immigration statistics, Muslims are packing up and moving into these non-muslim countries en masse. A reciprocal trend for Christians has not been observed.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    It is easy to confound Mohammedans by pointing out the differing and contradictory verses about Jesus in their book- Sura 4, verse 158 opposes sura 19, verse 33. In the early verse, Allah raises Jesus up so that he is never killed- in the later verse, baby Jesus prophesies about how he will live, and die, and be raised up again to life!
    but the final rebutal of a Mohammedan is to point out that Muslims are supposed to win every battle against unbelievers- and Israel has won all the battles against Muslims! This confirms the bible prophesies, and contradicts the koranic scribblings. The existence of Israel repudiates all that muslims stand for.

  • Jamess

    >Well a Christian convert would say that, wouldn’t they?

    Of course they would. It doesn’t say anything about the truthfulness of otherwise of what is said.

    >Give me an apostate or the lapsed for realism.
    I’m assuming a secular person said this.

  • guy herbert

    @revver:

    The peculiar thing about Islam is that the adherents tend to misunderstand it more than non-muslims.

    I don’t know about ‘more than non-muslims’, but given that “The Muslim nations are largely poor, illiterate, oppressive, and lack basic human rights,” I wouldn’t say it was all that peculiar.

    There is also a cultural rigidity attached to the way Islam is taught, at least in Arab countries and South Asia today, whereby understanding (as opposed to rote reproduction) is not required. Rely on rote and amateur interpretation (something Islam shares with protestant fundamentalism) and strange misunderstandings get propagated, along with an inability to reconcile the world with random doctrine.

    I once worked with a young British Muslim from a Pakistani background, a graduate of a respectable university, who could not keep a grip on the fact that I was an atheist, reverting to the assumption I must be a Christian as a premise of conversation. The same chap was unable to see bookkeeping tasks he was set as an attempt to keep track of the real world in which variances needed explanation, only as a series of procedural recipes to be followed.

    I don’t take this to be a consequence of Islam so much as an elective affinity.

  • Alan Peakall

    It seems to me that if someone who was born to muslim parents and raised in the faith of Islam converts to Christianity, then it might well be his christian duty to keep quiet about it in order not to imperil the souls of his muslim neighbours by tempting them into murdering him.

    Indeed, I am surprised that none of the Christian church’s anti-imperialists and liberation theologians have summoned up the chutzpah to make the argument.

  • hennesli

    Christian countries (historically, traditionally, or however you phrase it) for a large are quite the opposite.

    Yep, sub Saharan Africa and Latin America are doing wonderfully thanks to Christianity.

  • Jamess

    Alan Peakall,

    “it might well be his christian duty to keep quiet about [his upbringing]”

    He seems to be doing that as much as possible. If you watch the interview he’s very coy about where he’s from (from “the Middle East” – he won’t get more specific than that).

  • A very good point, hennesli. It goes to show that religion is subordinate to culture.

  • John B

    Raymond Ibrahim:

    “In our context, did Osama bin Laden “create” the idea of jihad, or did the centuries-old doctrine of jihad — supplemented by Koranic verses to “strike terror into the heart of infidels” (8:12) — create him? . . . . ”

    “Bana, Qutb, Khomeini, and Yassin are a meager sampling of Islamist leaders that have come and gone in this century alone. Were one to go further back in time, the continuum of history would unequivocally prove the existentialist nature of the threat: “Charismatic ideologues” — like Ibn Abdul Wahhab (18th century), Ibn Taymiyya (14th century), and Ibn Hanbal (9th century) — have preached the jihad throughout the centuries; and any of these Muslim leaders would make bin Laden look like a sissy.
    Indeed, if one doesn’t mind being labeled an “Islamophobe,” one could trace jihad back to the origins of Islam in the 7th century, to the prophet Muhammad, who proclaimed: “I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah.” “

    FP: How do you respond to the charge that you’re spreading hate?
    Ibrahim: As I told reporters at the event, I’m just the messenger; the hate exists in the texts that I quote—texts, I might add, which form the cornerstone for Islamists such as CAIR. Here’s a verse off the top of my head, always being quoted by Islamists: “We [believers] disown you [non-believers, including family] and what you worship besides Allah. We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—until you believe in Allah alone” (Koran 60:4). That’s just one of many. Rather than project the hate ingrained in its own worldview onto me and others, if CAIR was sincere, it would admit to and try to “reform” the anti-infidel hate that litters its texts.

    http://www.meforum.org/2903/osama-bin-laden-chicken-or-egg
    http://www.meforum.org/2906/raymond-ibrahim-1-cair-0-by-ko

  • John

    Well, the current Muslim year is 1432. Where was Christianity in 1432? Even in the 1950s Christians were still trying to infiltrate the rest of the world and try to convert them.

  • Paul Marks

    Guy – many Islamist terrorists are not “poor” or “illiterate” (indeed they can read and write in several languages).

    And, yes, I would bet on some of them knowing more about mathematics (and how it relates to the real world) than you do.

    Not that that you are bad at mathematics – no doubt you could run rings around an uneducated person like me. But the terrorists and their leaders are often not like me – they are not poor, and they do not have big gaps in their education (such as lack of knowledge of the real world uses of mathematics).

    Actually this is true of the Marxist terrorists as well. For example, Bill Ayers has many defects but they do not include lack of personal wealth or lack of education – he had no trouble writing “Dreams From My Father” (I would not have had the knowledge of grammar and so on needed to write such a book) and his mathematical knowledge is sound (for example – Barack Obama knows that the Weather Underground was still murdering people in 1981, and Barack was born in 1961 – so, according to Barack, this means the Weather Underground stopped being active “when I was eight years old” – Bill Ayers would never have made such a crass error of basic arithmetic).

    The knowledge of Marxism of Marxist terrorists (and Marxist regimes) around the world is sound – force and fear (both to gain power, and to keep it against “counter revolutionaries”) were exactly what Karl Marx argued for. Such things as the extermination of small farmers would have earned his praise.

    With Muhammed the situation is even more clear – as we do not just have words to go on.

    Words can always be disputed – for example some people (by quoting out of context and so on) continue to pretend that Karl Marx was not a totalitarian monster like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and so on.

    However, Muhammed did not just talk about committing various crimes – his adult life (after he had created his cult) was a matter of living out his belief

    He personally lied (promising peace and tolerance whilst planning extermination) and murdered (and raped and enslaved) – this is how he spread Islam.

    When Christians do terrible things (and many Christians have done terrible things over the centuries) it is a valid point to say (in protest) “this is not how Jesus taught and lived”, to say to an Islamist (busy robbing, raping, enslaving, murdering…..) “this is not how Muhammed lived” makes no sense – for this is exactly how he lived.

    So this is not really a debate over the Islamic texts – although he you want to have one the works of Robert Spenser are there for you to refute (if you can refute them Guy). The life of Muhammed himself shows what his religion is about.

    I know the “liberal” elite (the Timothy Garton-Ash or Economist magazine crowd) do not like the above – but it happens to be the truth, so sooner or later they will have to accept it (if the West is to survive).

    By the way the above also shows why wars like Vietnam may have made sense (however messed up they were in practice) whereas Afghan war (and so on) do not make sense.

    Most people in Korean (and Vietnam and…..) were NOT Marxists – so fighting Marxism was really about fighing a ruthless and organized MINORITY, (let us leave aside the ravings of Robert McNamara who insists that Marxists and not really Marxists and the war was a peasant’s revolt for the cause of “nationalism”, a doctrine of which most peasants had never heard), thus meaning victory was at least possible.

    However, who in Afghanistan (or …….) is not a Muslim?

    So the debate becomes “have the Islamists interpreted Islam correctly?” – well both the texts of Islam and the life of Muhammed himself seen to suggest that they have.

    Thus a conflict based upon the idea that Islam is essentially good – but has been “perverted” by a few desperate people (driven by their poverty – poverty that can be reduced by, the final absurdity, yet more government aid) is a war based upon illusions.

    I do not believe that the Western powers (Britain, the United States and so on) should wage war in the Islamic world – I do not see what these wars are supposed to achieve. One can not save “true Islam” from the radicals (assuming that doing this is our business), for the radicals are (in their actions and way of life) following “true Islam”.

    As for conversion…..

    Even in the United States conversion is not encouraged – on the contrary the government and cultural elite do everything they can to attack Christians and others who try to convert Muslims.

    In Eurpope things are even less promising – the primary belief system in Europe is actually lack of belief (not in a positive philosophical sense – as with the athiesm of the Randian Objecitivists), but in a negative sense of “let us go down to the pub and get blind drunk – and then vomit in the street” sense.

    “Good – this moral liberalism will make Islam nondangerious”.

    A total misunderstanding.

    In fact often it is the most corrupt and decedant people who sudderly look for meaning (a reason to carry on living) – and Islam is ideal for filling that hole inside themselves.

    So “nominal” Muslims return to their roots – to their faith. And, as they are comming to it fresh (without centuries of tribal or kin tradition – which as limited and moderated Islam over time), they become the most “pure” Muslims.

    It must be made clear what “pure” means in this context – it does NOT mean they give up chasing women (or whatever).

    Efforts to undermine Islamist terrorists by showing them to be “hypocrites” (watching porn, hanging around near school girls, and so on) show a total misundertanding of Islam.

    These are not Christian Preachers – who can be undermined (as Hollywood and so on so love doing) by showing them doing various bad things.

    These, the Islamists, are followers of Muhammed, showing that they live as he would – doing that is not going to undermine their appeal.

  • John K

    The trouble is not that the current Muslim year is 1432. It is that the Muslim mindset was formed in the 7th century AD and cannot progress.

    The Koran is the direct word of Allah, dictated straight to Mohammed in a cave (history does not record if he had shorthand), apart from the Satanic Verses of course, when naughty old Satan managed to get a crossed wire. So really, for a Muslim, that’s it. Every question has been answered, every rule has been made. There can’t be any room for progress, because the very idea that there could be “progress” from the direct and final word of Allah is blasphemy. For the Muslim, it is Year Zero, and always will be.

  • bgates

    Even in the 1950s Christians were still trying to infiltrate the rest of the world and try to convert them.

    Oh, John, it goes on to this day. Often accompanied by food and other forms of aid and volunteers who leave their comfortable homes to try to help strangers on the other side of the planet.

    the current Muslim year is 1432. Where was Christianity in 1432?

    Does that work for other comparisons? The United States is a little over 200 years old, so if you compare us to England circa 1266 we’re a fantastically advanced race of superbeings, is that right?

  • Ian

    A shame the PC brigade can not at least acknowledge Solomons personal bravery, even if they believe Christianity to be intrinsically as evil, based upon its track record in South America.

    Father zakaria Botros, an Egyptian Copt, also has a large price on his head, see this :

    http://http://preview.tinyurl.com/42j29gq

    Hirsi Ali appears to have enormous strength of personality, as does Dr Wafa Sultan:

  • Valerie

    Yes John, because giving food, eyeglasses, medical supplies, clothing, etc., is just the same as beheadings. Good grief. Why is it that so few libertarians can give kudos for good work done without coercion by Christians?

  • Valerie

    Hennisli,
    You might want to inquire which sects of which religion you’re talking about first. Latin America has undergone a sea change from Catholicism to Evangelical Protestantism in two generations, while many Catholics from Africa would be unrecognizable to their northern “brethren” due to syncretism with witchcraft, magic, polygamy and shamans.

  • South America and sub-Saharan Africa are dominated by (channeling Francis Fukuyama) low-cooperation societies. High-cooperation societies develop in regions that have powerful geographic defenses (Britain and Japan, for example, each enjoy a very large moat) or geographic and cultural conditions amenable to vigorous foreign trade (ex: the Hanseatic League). People aren’t quite so xenophobic when they don’t have to deal with constant military threats, or when outsiders play a significant role in their livelihoods.

    Latin America was settled by the most autocratic states in Western Europe. Iberia had been occupied under the Moorish jackboot for centuries, and didn’t kick out the last of ‘em until the same year Chris Columbus got lost in the Caribbean. Spain and Portugal were just like battered children who grew up to become batterers; that sort of thing forged their political culture. And also the African political cultures, rife with inter-tribal conflicts.

  • There is one Micklethwait and Solent is his prophet!

    OK, not quite. But I think all the comments so far except for Nuke Gray haven’t really homed in on the specific point that Brian was making – although Paul Marks, by mentioning that Christianity can be undermined in people’s minds by preachers watching porn and hanging around near schoolgirls in a way that Islam cannot be, also comes close.

    The point that Brian was making (sayeth his prophet Solent without asking him) was about how literal belief systems such as Islam are undermined.

    Muslims believe Koran is personally dictated word of God. So mistakes in the Koran are like roadside bombs, lying in wait for the devout Muslim reader.

    Errors of science are one set of bombs. Christianity “got round” those errors in the Bible by non-literalism (incidentally, Christian non-literalism is older than the nineteenth century, and arguably older than literalism), but non-literalism is much harder for Islam, seeing as the Koran was meant to be personally dictated to Mohammed rather than by human authors. However stuff like evolution does not much affect the average devout Muslim reading the Koran. Discovering that what the Koran says the New Testament says is just plain wrong (in Sam Solomon’s case, as he discusses from about 5 minutes in to the video, he originally read it as a devout Muslim to help convince Christians that Christianity was wrong) affects them much more personally.

    Worse, the Koran is pretty obviously not just mistaken about Christianity but deceptive. For instance Sam Solomon read the bit in Matthew 5 where Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, thou shalt not kill” – and he was brought up short by the fact that the Koran says that Allah loves those who kill in his name, and rather significantly omitted both that “them of old time” said not to kill, and also that a central part of Jesus’ message was not just “don’t kill” but “love your enemies”.

  • Clarifying my last sentence: Sam Solomon was shocked by the fact that the Koran had never told him that a central part of Jesus’ message was “love your enemies.” The Koran had told him that Jesus and other prophets such as Moses had the same beliefs as Muslims.

  • Robert Dammers

    Might I recommend listening to this talk given by Robert Reilly at the Ashbrook Centre, with as background his excellent and scholarly book “The Closing of the Muslim Mind”? Reilly demonstrates that calling for a “reformation” in Islam misunderstands the situation – the reformation took place 800 years ago with the rejection of Mu’tazilism. With that, Sunni Islam (by far the majority, after all) turned away not only from philosophy and science, but from reason itself (literally and explicitly). Programmes like “In Our Time” will tell us about the importance of books like Averroes’s “The Incoherence of the Incoherence”, but this importance was mostly to later Christian philosophers. It has been rejected by the majority of later Islamic scholars in favour of the book it was intended to refute, “The Incoherence of the Philosophers” by Al-Ghazali. This sounds like historical trivia, but it is absolutely key to understanding how a great part of the world thinks and understands phenomena.

    Now given that so much of our modern world is, to a greater or lesser extent founded on reason, however flawed, it follows that to live in the modern world, and then to understand that what the Koran says about the foundational texts of Christianity and Judaism is demonstrably false might shake the roots of the faith of a Muslim who at least understands what reason means.

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie and Robert.

    Quite so.

  • Alan: that makes sense, at least on the face of it – it sounds like another way of saying ‘high fences make for good neighbors’.

  • Three things to take from this thread:

    1. Religions isn’t a fungible commodity. Some people treat it as if all religions were essentially the same. (Unfortunately, some of them teach comparative religion at major universities.) Philosophical differences matter, in a huge way. Buddhist asceticism discourages militarism while the Koran enshrines it. Christianity promotes philanthropic ventures, while historically the Hindu law of karma viewed it as a violation of the recipient’s karma. (That attitude seems to be changing – maybe the Hindu nation that honors Mother Teresa is starting to see charity as a part of karma and not an interference.)

    2. A culture is subject to multiple influences – and the religions ones aren’t necessarily the strongest. If Iberian Catholics were marauding conquerors, and non-Christian peoples have also been known to be marauding conquerors, maybe the common factor isn’t religion. If the conquistadors didn’t behave like Jesus, that’s because the “let’s kill them and take their stuff” ethic was too heavily ingrained.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Alan K. Henderson:

    Yes, “religion” is not a fungible commodity. But “Buddhist asceticism” doesn’t always discourage militarism. Some of the most important Zen masters of the 20th century were deeply complicit in the imperialist-militarist culture that drove Japan into WW II.

    Cultures override religions? Indeed they can. “Honor” killings occur in many Middle Eastern and South Asian societies, not just Moslem societies. There is no Islamic basis for honor killings, Moslem religious leaders have denounced them at least pro forma, and Moslem countries treat them as crimes (again, pro forma). But all that doesn’t seem to make any difference: the cultural imperatives which cause these murders are far stronger than even religious piety.

  • ‘Cultures override religions’. it is not as simple as that. Cultures can also produce religions (think of Islam and where it came from, geographically and culturally). But on the other hand, cultures are subject to changes and outside influences – which can, and often do, include “imported” religions. In the end, you get both a modified culture, and a modified, local version of the “imported” religion. This may sound like it is almost a chicken-and-egg question, but it really isn’t, since the actual concept of culture by definition includes religion(s)/lack thereof, while religion does not by definition include culture.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Never forget that Muslims are influenced by the life of Mohammed, not just the words. He raided caravans, justified assassination of outspoken critics, and claimed that later ‘revelations’ abrogated earlier ones- and he is the role model for paedophiliacs since he married children.
    With all that recorded in history, and not disputed by muslim historians, is it any wonder that a devout muslim would make a lousy neighbour?
    Incidentally, you could also trip up muslims by asking how can Mohammed be the final prophet- if Allah’s will cannot be chained, even by words Allah said earlier? What is to stop Allah from raising later prophets?

  • joel

    I have decided, going forward, to tell people I am a
    “MODERATE ARYAN.”

    I regret deeply the violence that has occurred to non-Aryans, but, believe me, Aryans are peaceful overall. But, don’t insult our religion/women/etc or some Aryans will go out and kill the first helpless non-Aryans they can find. And, they will feel good about doing it. But, me, I am a moderate. I wouldn’t do that. Really. But, try to understand. You shouldn’t insult Aryans or their beliefs.

    Moderate Muslims remind me of the Swedes in WW II and why they were neutral. “If the Allies win, we are Democrats. If the Germans win, we are Aryans.”

  • I was thinking of original Buddhism when I made that comment, and aggressive invader sorts like the Mughals re my use of the word “militarism.”

    Buddha stated that desire causes suffering, thus to rid the self of suffering one must rid the self of desire. Note sure how well Zen (or its Japanese sub-sects) adhere to this principle. If the Imperial Japanese displayed any ascetic tendencies, they were selective about it. Aggression is borne of desire – for whatever prize the aggression seeks to attain.

  • John B

    Raymond Ibrahim, again:

    Plundering the possessions, lives, and dignity of Christians in the Islamic world: is this a random affair, a product of the West’s favorite offenders—poverty, ignorance, grievance—or is it systematic, complete with ideological backing?
    Consider the very latest from the Muslim world:
    • Pakistan: Muslim landowners used tractors to plough over a Christian cemetery in order to seize the land illegally. A young Christian mother was raped by six men. “In both cases, police covered up for the culprits.”
    • Iraq: A Christian youth was kidnapped and decapitated: his family could not pay the €70,000 ransom demanded by his abductors. “The murder was meant to intimidate Christians so that in the future they will more readily pay ransom demands.”
    • Egypt: Christian girls continue to be abducted and forced into conversion or concubinage (which amount to the same thing) and “kept as virtual slaves.”
    “None of this is surprising listening to popular Muslim preacher Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini:
    If only we can conduct a jihadist invasion at least once a year or if possible twice or three times, then many people on earth would become Muslims. And if anyone prevents our dawa or stands in our way, then we must kill them or take as hostage and confiscate their wealth, women and children. Such battles will fill the pockets of the Mujahid who can return home with 3 or 4 slaves, 3 or 4 women and 3 or 4 children. This can be a profitable business if you multiply each head by 300 or 400 dirham. This can be like financial shelter whereby a jihadist, in time of financial need, can always sell one of these heads (meaning slavery) [translated by Nonie Darwish; original Arabic recording here].
    Huwaini actually made these scandalous assertions some eighteen years ago. But because they were only recently exposed, he was invited to “clarify” his position on Hikma TV last week. Amazingly, though he began by saying his words were “taken out of context,” he nonetheless reasserted, in even more blunt language, that Islam justifies plundering, enslaving, and raping the infidel. (Al Youm 7 has the entire interview, excerpts of which I translate below.) . .

    http://www.meforum.org/2920/raped-and-ransacked-in-the-muslim-world

  • John W

    Your “spambot” has deleted my last 3 posts – I doubt that I am the only to suffer this penalty.

  • That is very odd as I cannot see any deleted posts of yours, John.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    ‘The spambot ate my column- otherwise, you’d have been torn into intellectual shreds!’ The handy, all-purpose, nonreply!