Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Charlie Hebdo jihad had nothing to do with Islam

Here we go again.  The continuing claim that Islam had nothing to do with the religion of peace now flows from Mr. Basketball himself.  Even as he is Muslim, his belief is exclusively his own and has little to do with how Islam has been defined by its recognized leaders or practiced by players like the Islamic State.  The fact that he is known far and wide, is a hero to many people and is trusted in his opinions means his soothing words will play well to those who desperately wish that Islam was other than what it really is.

Below is the complete article, with comments interspersed.

From TIME January 9 by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: These Terrorist Attacks Are Not About Religion

Another horrendous act of terrorism has taken place and people like myself who are on media speed-dial under “Celebrity Muslims” are thrust in the spotlight to angrily condemn, disavow, and explain—again—how these barbaric acts are in no way related to Islam.

A set-up where he identifies himself as a Muslim while saying Islam has nothing to do with "barbaric acts", thus making it harder to even talk about the possibility that Islam may be culpable.  As a Muslim he must know of what he speaks, right?

For me, religion—no matter which one—is ultimately about people wanting to live humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance and friendship with those outside the religious community. Any religious rules should be in service of this goal. The Islam I learned and practice does just that.

So because his Islam is good, kind and unicorn-filled, all Islam is good, kind and unicorn-filled.  An ad hoc argument that serves to hinder an honest discussion of Islamic teachings.

Violence committed in the name of religion is never about religion—it’s ultimately about money. 

Never is violence about religion?  Has he not read any history book written in the last 1000 years? From the Council at Nicaea in 315AD to the Gates of Vienna in 1683 and beyond, religious beliefs have predominantly been the driving force behind the violence of war.  The Crusades would be the best example, but that Abdul-Jabbar makes this statement shows his lack of context and suggests a blind dogmatism worthy of Martin Luther.

The 1976 movie, All the President’s Men, got it right when it reduced the Daedalus maze of the Watergate scandal to the simple phrase, “Follow the money.” Forget the goons who actually carry out these deadly acts, they are nothing more than automated drones remote-controlled by others. Instead of radio signals, their pilots use selective dogma to manipulate their actions. They pervert the Qur’an through omission and false interpretation.

There is no disagreement between all schools of Islamic jurisprudence or Al-Azhar University that non-believers are infidels and are to be given three choices; conversion, subjugation as a dhimmi or war.  There is no disagreement that 47-4 means exactly what it says "When you find the infidels, smite them on their necks..."and there is no disagreement that the Qur'an allows for the beating of your wife if she misbehaves (4-34).  All these, and many more are part and parcel of Islamic doctrine, yet Abdul-Jabbar conveniently ignores them.  Jihadists believe they are doing what Muhammad did, and justify their actions with copious quotes from the Qur'an and hadiths to prove it.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can only make the claim, he cannot back it up with doctrinal proof.  This is the fatal flaw of what he is doing; it has no backbone to support the statement.

How is it about money? When one looks at the goal of these terrorist attacks, it’s clearly not about scaring us into changing our behavior. The Twin Tower attacks of 9/11 didn’t frighten America into embracing Islam. 

The fatwa against Salman Rushdie didn’t prevent the publication of The Satanic Verses. 

Of course not, the fatwa was issued after the book was published, not before.  It would have been impossible to issue a fatwa against a book not yet in print.  Why he makes this claim is anyone's guess.

Like all terrorist attacks on the West, they just strengthen our defiant resolve. So the attack in Paris, as with most others, isn’t about changing Western behavior, it’s about swaggering into a room, flexing a muscle, and hoping to elicit some admiring sighs. In this case, the sighs are more recruits and more donations to keep their organization alive. They have to keep proving they are more relevant than their competing terrorist groups. It’s just business.

The business of jihad and global conquest, yes.

Nor should we blame America’s foreign policy as the spark that lights the fuse. 

Poverty, political oppression, systemic corruption, lack of education, lack of critical thinking, and general hopelessness in these countries is the spark.

Most jihadists come from well-off families, that has been proven time and again.  All his suggestions of why these attacks happen hold the idea that if we toss enough money towards Muslims, all will be well.  They just want what the West wants, and if we give it to them they will calm down and be friends.  No comment on how this policy has been done, with little success for decades.  Just the same. tired rhetoric that has no weight in the real world today.   

Yes, we’ve made mistakes that will be used to justify recruiting new drones. But we shouldn’t kid ourselves that the recent report detailing our extensive and apparently ineffective use of torture caused any kind of mass terrorist volunteers. The world knew we tortured. The only thing the report revealed was how bad we were at it. More important, if recruits were swayed by logical idealism, they would realize that the fact that we conducted, released, and debated such a report is what makes America admirable. We don’t always do the right thing, but we strive to. We admit our faults and make adjustments. It may be glacial, but it’s movement forward.

Knowing that these terrorist attacks are not about religion, we have to reach a point where we stop bringing Islam into these discussions

He should be telling this to the jihadists, as they are the ones who constantly and consistently invoke Islam as their prime motivator.  He should explain to the jihadists that what they are doing has nothing to do with Islam.  Maybe that will get them to stop, think and say "you are right, I give up jihad for Western democracy, a Chevrolet, apple pie and a condo by the river".  I believe that is what he hopes will happen after hearing his words that Islam has nothing to do with violence.

I know we aren’t there yet because much of the Western population doesn’t understand the Islamic religion

And this cloudy misdirection will only help to make it more difficult to have an honest discussion that would help the West understand Islam.

All they see are brutal beheadings, kidnappings of young girls, bloody massacres of children at schools, and these random shootings. Naturally, they are frightened when they hear the word Muslim or see someone in traditional Muslim clothing. Despite any charitable impulses, they also have to be thinking, “Better safe than sorry”—as they hurry in the opposite direction.

Broad brush distinction.  He defaults to the bitter conclusion: all Muslims must be as bad as seen on TV, therefore we must treat all Muslims as if they are all culpable.  He refuses to make the important distinction between Islamic texts and teachings, and how Muslims act on those teachings.  This is a common fault of those who do no research on Islam, even as far as just reading the Qur'an, and is moreso dangerous when it is a Muslim making these comments.

When the Ku Klux Klan burn a cross in a black family’s yard, prominent Christians aren’t required to explain how these aren’t really Christian acts. Most people already realize that the KKK doesn’t represent Christian teachings

Irrelevant argument.  The Klan today is not even a shell of its former self, maybe a few thousand at most, scattered about the country, only able to scare the local villagers.  There were many Christian leaders condemning the Klan during its heyday, and using scripture to do it as well.  Christians may not have been required to explain, but they did so willingly, with theological arguments, something Muslims like Abdul-Jabbar cannot, and will not do.

That’s what I and other Muslims long for—the day when these terrorists praising the Prophet Muhammad or Allah’s name as they debase their actual teachings are instantly recognized as thugs disguising themselves as Muslims. It’s like bank robbers wearing masks of presidents; we don’t really think Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush hit the Bank of America during their down time.

We can’t end terrorism any more than we can end crime in general. 

Ironically, terrorism is actually an act against the very religion they claim to believe in

"...Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies... (8:59-60)"

It’s an acknowledgement that the religion and its teachings aren’t enough to convince people to follow it. Any religion that requires coercion is not about the community, but about the leaders wanting power.

The only true statement in the entire article.

I look forward to the day when an act of terrorism by self-proclaimed Muslims... 

As opposed to being claimed a Muslim by your dry cleaner?

...will be universally dismissed as nothing more than a criminal attack of a thuggish political organization wearing an ill-fitting Muslim mask. 

To get to that point, we will need to teach our communities what the real beliefs of Islam are

Is that you, Kareem?  Will you teach us all what the real Islam is?

In the meantime, keep my name on speed-dial so we can get through this together.

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