« The Vice President does not care what we think. | Main | UCMJ extends to civilian contractors - Gates »

23 March 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Col. Lang said: "Sounds like an attack of multi-cultural political correctness."

My post was nothing of the sort. It was a plea for you to redirect you ire - towards the social complexities involved - away from the religious.

I'm sorry I didn't make myself clearer.


“The ideals and realities of Islam do not jive.” Posted by Babak Makkinejad

I could say the same thing about Judaism. Or Christianity.

What is your point, exactly?



The man himself has such hostility to Islam that it could be argued that he never was a Muslim and therefore is no apostate.

Since you have not mentioned it, it is only fair to mention that at no point does the Koran mention a punishment for apostacy and clerics use or interpret some hadeeths for the punishment.

Those that will call for his death or that he be punished are the same brainwashed extremists who practice some of the most abhorrent versions of Islam; Versions, may I add that are found repulsive by most Muslims and spread by the money and clerics of the US's top Arab ally.

"We are talking about the people who will declare on the subject and countenance people with guns"

And the Western world has none of those? Islams' wahabis are no different to the Wests' Klan, neo-nazi groups or for that matter the extremist right wing Christians who see Muslims as anti-Christs and sub-human. The only difference is that they do not suffer from legal restrictions in the areas that they operate.

"Western civilization has many defects, including a loss of faith, but it does not seem to be dominated by an assurance of its own rectitude."

If you meant Western religion them maybe, but Western civilization not dominated by an assurance of its own rectitude? I have lost count of how many times a President of the United States has lectured on the self-righteousness
and the superiority of the "American way of life". In fact, if there is one thing all the above share, from the extremist Muslim to the American President, its the ability to espouse their own position as that of the morally superior while conducting, condoning or ordering the most vile and immoral actions.

Any declaration or fatwa calling for this mans death is no more or less despicable than Condoleeza Rice calling the murder of innocent men, women and children as "birth pangs".

Sir, extremism, intolerance and inability to live in a plurality is not limited to Muslims alone.

Babak Makkinejad


My point is this: Muslim polities claim an adherence to Sharia, i.e. the Islamic Law to be of paramount importance. Yet no Muslim polity exists today in which the Rule of Law is respected and a Muslim will feel secure in his person, in his property, and in his namus.

W. Patrick Lang


"I'd call this a curious way to phrase your supplication." 1-Why? 2-"supplication?" pl

W. Patrick Lang


"at no point does the Koran mention a punishment for apostacy and clerics use or interpret some hadeeths for the punishment."

That doesn't mean much. You are describinh the process by which all sharia fiqh is formed.

I thought you understood that I have little regard for our top "Arab ally." In fact, they are no ally at all. pl


As a non-Muslim, it will not mean much to you perhaps. And, perhaps not to those that want to interpret any hadeeth for their own ends; And to them it really matters very little what the religion actually says on the subject as they see themselves as more qualified than the Koran itself to rule on what God intended. But for me personally, and many like me it actually means everything.
Furthermore, I felt it fair, as the Koran is the centre of Islam, that such a debate have that piece of data included for the sake of accuracy.

The complete lack of hierarchy in Islam that you say renders the entire "system" vulnerable to your accusation that it is inherently subject to such foolishness is also the reason why I do not have to follow the foolish fatwas espoused by the psychotic and hateful.

Is the Catholic system of a strict hierarchy any better? It may not allow for lots of foolish declarations but puts all the power of decree in the hands of one man. A man who just prayed for the Jewish nation to find salvation and convert?

Does the majority of the Muslim world still live in an essentially medieval world? Yes, but I would argue that this has little to do with Islam and a lot to do with a succession of corrupt leaders that have done little to advance the education and enlightenment of their people.

However, that is not to say that we will ever agree on the definition of a "moderate Muslim".

I know of your little regard of the Saudis; I mentioned it not as a point of argument, but a point of irony that while the Western world attacks Islam for its extremism, it continues to support those that fund that extremism against those that may fight it.

W. Patrick Lang


I think that religious people should be able to proselytize. Christians, Muslims, whatever. As pope, Benedict has a duty to evangelize. It is in his job description. The late pope saw his relationship to the Jews differently. He is dead now. His value as a marja' is much diminished.

Of course the Holy Qur'an should be the principal source of Sharia. How could it be otherwise. at the same time the other Roots of the Law can not be ignored.

1- Qur'an
2- Hadith
3- Qiyas
4 -Ijma'
5- Ijtihad (for the Shia in the modern world)

All of these are the ingredients that result in fiqh. none of them can be ignored as factors in the formulation of Shariah.

The Hanbalis (notably the Saudis) rely on 1 and 2. In this can probably be found the extremity of many of their positions because, as you say, hadith can be twisted into whatever one desires. The moderating effect of a thousand years of case law is a good thing. pl

W. Patrick Lang


"the social complexities involved - away from the religious." Ahhh. This sounds like poly-sci-speak.

What "social complexities" are you refering to? pl

W. Patrick Lang


Quoting myself above.

"Western civilization has many defects, including a loss of faith, but it does not seem to be dominated by an assurance of its own rectitude."

What I was trying to say, (and I failed in the attempt)is that most people in Western civilization now accept the idea of the equality of rights among people of differing views.

Yes, I understand that this is not universally true, but I do not think that it is possible to be taken seriously in the West as a thinker if one does not accept that principle.

Islamic thinking is not the same as yet. pl


No, none can be ignored but 1 trumps 2-5. And 1 says there cannot be compulsion in religion.

It is probably unfair on the Hanbali madhab (and I say this with limited knoweldge) to equate them with the particular form of Islam practiced by the Saudis - often termed Wahabi. Wahabism has been, in my opinion, so polluted and intertwined by local, repressive and outdated customs that it really deserves its own school and is as much Islamic as the Druze religion (not that I am equating practices of the two)

Since we agree that the Hadeeth, and even the Koran (or for that matter any holy book) can be twisted to satisfy the ends of those who wish to abuse it, and since we agree that this done by a few, albeit a wealthy few, who represent very few Muslims and little of Islam, then I would suggest that we must also agree that it is not Islamdom that needs to think about its relevance to modern life or indeed to any life but that the situation is far more complicated. It is a situation that requires the promotion of education, both religious and secular. It requires that Muslims who wish to fight or join the jihad be taught that murder of the innocent does not equate to jihad. It is a situation also that the West can stop inflaming by opposing "Islamist" groups that truly represent their populace and supporting repressive and tyranical regimes.

Isolating the clerics and their ideology is difficult considering the wealth they have at their disposal. Their ability to use the anger of the youth who have little outlet to vent that anger other than joining the ranks of the militant (and in the process becoming indoctrinated by these people hateful version of Islam) can only be curtailed when there is not so much for the Muslim youth to be angry about.

Those such as yourself and your equivalent on the Muslim side, who have the knowledge and understanding of the other side to allow for debate, are the ones that will be pivotal to the future of the relationship.

Much as many in the West ask that Muslims know that the zealots on their side, be they religious or political, do not speak or act in their name, so should the West know that our own zealots do not speak or act on behalf of the majority of Muslims.

I have said it before on your site and will say it again. Al Qaida is nothing without its foot soldiers. These foot soldiers are not born, they are made. Once the Western world adopts a different strategy, a strategy that looks on those that truly represent their populations as people that must be dealt with rather than destroyed because they stand in the way of "the agenda", then the likes of al qaida and their ilk will wither away and their opinion on apostates or anything else will be a problem only for the Saudis. And, most importantly, the West will have their most powerful ally in the "war against terror", the Arabs and the Muslims themselves.


Perhaps I am a simpleton, but it seems to me the difference between Christian radicals and Islamic radicals is pretty clear. One doesn't tend to see Christians traveling to war zones or other far-off places to martyr themselves by killing Muslims and Christians alike. Nor does one see scores of Christians demanding cartoonists be killed for an unflattering cartoon of Jesus. In fact, one can literally put Jesus on the cross in a bucket of piss and call it art, as happened a few years ago, and the worst that happens are attempts to reduce funding for the arts! I wonder what might happen to me were I to put a picture of the prophet Mohammed in such a bucket? In fact, I wonder what might happen for the temerity to even suggest it.

I won't pretend to understand in any deep way why such differences in action exist or how they came about, but what I can understand is the difference in the reactions to insult, offense or even heresy themselves, which, to me at least, are plain to see.

Sidney O. Smith III

Fascinating discussion. I’d like to shoehorn into the thread one comment re: Catholicism. I sometimes wonder if Obama now wishes he had been hanging with former Chicagoan Archbishop Gregory instead of Rev. Wright during his days in the land of Lincoln. The race experience, while powerful, is not the same as the religious experience, at least in my view. The religious experience, I would further guess, transcends and heals. But there are good people from all walks. Here’s a highlight of the good archbishop from the land of...


Babak Makkinejad


US & EU are in their post-Christian phase; there can be no apt comparison between the Christian and Muslim response.

US has had its share of violent idealists: the anarchists of the early 20-th Century come to mind. And so does Mr. McVeigh.

Ideas are produced by human beings but take over human beings and affect the course of their actions.

Why are Americans fighting in Iraq?

Why were Americans bombing Serbia?

Why were Americans fighting in Vietnam?


Babak is right, you are comparing apples and oranges. If you compare the reactions, you must do so to events that generate the same level of emotion.

Therefore comparing the depiction of Jesus in art and Mohamed in cartoons and the reaction they get is non-starter, when in Islam, portraying the image of the Prophet is outlawed but at the Vatican you can buy snowglobes with Jesus in them.

And finally you may not see Christians traveling to war zones or other far-off places to martyr themselves; But the more fundementalist ones will happily send their nations' troops to do it. Or they will defend the murder of Muslims as Gods plan.

The difference between fundementalists on both sides is simply the respective wealth and delivery of "punishment".



McVeigh was one man - there appear to be hundreds if not thousands of similarly-minded men fighting for Islam and that's assuming McVeigh was motivated by religious ideology, which he wasn't. A better comparison might be made to the abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, but again, that's just one man. One would think that if Christian fundamentalists were equivalent to Islamic ones, then we'd be seeing more such violence. What explains the disparity? I think Col. Lang's arguments in this thread provide most of the answer.

Perhaps an economic and demographic argument might be also made. The effects of "youth bubbles" tend to correlate rather strongly with increased radicalism in general and much of the Islamic world is in the middle of a quite substantial youth bubble. Combined with limited economic opportunities and corrupt and oppressive government and it's volatile mixture. A notable and interesting difference in how such radicalism manifests itself can be found by looking at Iran, whose youth appear much less inclined toward violence against perceived religious insult though I'm not informed enough to completely understand why.

In any event, Mo suggests I'm comparing apples to oranges, but it seems to me comparing what diverse nations do in their national interest to what radicalized individuals or small groups do based on religious ideology is an apples-to-kiwi comparison.

And Babak, I'm not sure what you're getting at by pointing to Vietnam, Serbia and Iraq - what is the connection to the discussion here?

Similarly, Mo appears to suggests that the primary reason Christian radicals aren't actively killing apostates or religious enemies is because the government does it for them. Were this the 12th century and not the 21st, I would agree with you.

Mo, perhaps you do have a point, however, in suggesting that pointing to the difference in response of depictions of Jesus and Mohammed is not a good one, but it's also partially buttresses my point - there was a time in Christianity when many forms of religious imagery were similarly outlawed and violations punishable by death. This is what I think Col. Lang means when he talks about the majority of Islam existing in a medieval world.

In short I don't find the reasons you both postulate to explain the differences of action between Islamic and Christian radicals very compelling.

Babak Makkinejad


Thank you for your comments.

I do not think that McVeigh was one man; he certainly had accomplices that were indicted and convicted. And their modus operandi was, in my opinion, comparable to those who attacked the United States on 9/11/2001.
I think that the hundreds of thousands of individuals that you are referring too came later; after invasion of Afghanistan, depredations of Israel in the Occupied Territories, and the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Christian Fundamentalists are not the equivalent of Muslim Fundamentalists since the Western Civilization is not solely based on the Ministry of Jesus, the Son of Mary. It also includes the Legacy of Rome and the Tradition of Personal Liberty (of the Germanic Tribes). In the world of Islam, “Civilization” and “Islam” are one and the same. Being against Islam is equivalent to being against the Law, the Proper and Just Order of the Universe, Civilization etc.

In the United States, in fact, the dominant religion is not Christianity but rather “America”. Mr. McVeigh and his accomplices, it seems to me, were inspired by the sacred texts of that religion; The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. In that manner, they sought, in their way, to restore the lost balance and proper order of things which, in their views, had been lacking as manifested by the events in Wacco. This is a common idea among all spiritual traditions, namely the need to use Violence to restore the Law.

India also has a youth bubble and so does Africa and so did China. However, in these cases the young males filled with testosterone were not out there to attack US (although in case of China the Red Guards were stark raving mad against “Imperialism”). I think that references to economic and demographic considerations will not explain anything – the youth that are fighting US in Iraq and come from the Persian Gulf states are not poor; on the contrary, they are from what goes as Middle Class families there. In fact, the 9/11 attackers against the United States, bin Laden, and Dr. Zuwaihari (sic. ?) have not been low-class. In my opinion, Islamic thinking, sentiment, and feeling are ascendant at the present among the Muslim people (who have very thin skins). The most productive approach to them is to avoid entanglements with them and or avoid provoking them. As I see it, US, Canada, and EU states are are not doing much in that regard.

In regards to Iran: the situation there is unique in several aspects. It is a Shia state; a minority in Islam that fought for centuries with Sunni states. That has left the Iranians an aloof and insular people who will go only so far for the sake of Islamic solidarity. Secondly, Iran is the only Muslim state for which the boundaries of Islam and the boundaries of Civilization do not coincide; the Iranians trace themselves back to the Ancient Persia and thus have more wiggle room mentally. Thirdly, after desiring and endorsing a religious government in plebiscite 28 years ago, they have first-hand experience of the limits of that form of government. And lastly Iranians emotionally go through annual katarsis during the period of mourning for Imam Hussein – they do not need to rush to the street to yell and scream. All of this does not mean that they do not care about the insults against Islam and the Prophet; they grin and bear it and add to their store of contempt for the West.

I also think the notion of “religious ideology” is not analytically useful. The reason is because these religious notions are not considered as an “ideology” by those who hold them – it is their religion that causes to act that way; they are trying to be righteous in the religious sense. Their notions cannot be dismissed as a set of artificial ideas. It requires a long term engagement in debate and in the battle of ideas within their religious milieu if you want to have any hope of convincing those who are sitting on the fence. The response of most Muslim governments has been repression though.

I brought up the recent wars of the United States to make the point that their justification could be lacking for anyone looking from the outside. But that, at the time, they seemed like good ideas – examples of how ideas take over the minds of men. Once these wars are over, they will be studied by future generations with amazement and wonder asking themselves “why?”. That the actions men, fundamentally, are not rational.

Muslim people are not the only people who live in the so-called Medieval World; you can go to India, Thailand, Myanmar, or Korea and experience that first hand. There is a (Godless) Modernity emanating from the West. This Modernity has already crushed the Japanese (you can see it in the utter destruction of their native musical forms) and has forced the Chinese to discard their Great Tradition and become what they are today.

This Modernity is in a continuous struggle with the world of Islam and Hinduism. However, the intellectual battle between Modernity and Islam also has a political dimension that does not obtain in the analogous struggle with Hinduism.

This is the crux of the matter in my opinion; Western states want to play a dominant political role in the World of Islam – specially in the Near East. The excuses (reasons) have changed over time: Great War on Terror, Oil, War against Communism, War against (Shia) Fundamentalism, Disposition of the Ottoman Empire, Countering the Ottomans, etc. etc. etc.

But behind all of that is the struggle between Christianity and Islam, in my opinion. And we should expect the same inconclusive results as has been the case over the last few centuries.



There's a lot for me to consider in your well-argued comment. Although I don't agree with it all, there is much I will spend time mulling over. Thanks for provoking additional though on my part and challenging my assumptions.



Just to add, you say comparing what diverse nations do in their national interest to what radicalized individuals or small groups do based on religious ideology is an apples-to-kiwi comparison.

I think what you are missing here is that to many Muslims, the Ummah, or Muslim nation comes before any national boundaries and therefore, for example when a Saudi responds to an act against an Afghan, he is, in his mind, acting in a 'national' interest.

Of course, the socio-economic factors are important and the "youth bubble" is a factor. I would suggest that the more important aspect is the fact that the Muslim world currently is in a militant state, within a major state of flux and therefore an environment the lends itself to radicalism and acts of extremisim.

Finally, I have to disagree with you that Christian radicals are not as eager for violence upon the other as Muslims.

Bush and Blair may not use the Bible as justification for their wars but they both made it clear how much their religion dictates their actions.

The Christian Right quite clearly and often supports and defends the murder of Arab civilians by Israeli troops simply because of their beliefs in the book of Revelations.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad