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19 September 2012


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"This could be another of the many manifestations
of "blowback" that haunt us for decades."

Nightsticker, I think you are on to something. There are many unintended consequences of our current policies and actions yet to play out.

What do you think changed from your generation working in government to the next that has the basic ethos be so different? I recall a comment you once made that in times past FBI agents were cognizant of the broad rights and wrongs as stated in our constitution.

Babak Makkinejad

Would any one in Western Europe inscribe the verses of the Book of Genesis on the body of a naked woman?

Babak Makkinejad

I believe that there is nothing analogous to the Passion of Christ in all of Islam. There is no (Religious) Science of Christology, Miriamology, Angelogy, etc. in Islam. There is also very little Theology.

Only among the Shia Muslims you have the Passion of Imam Hussein. But even there its import is idfferent: Imama Hussein accepts death for the sake of Righteousness - like Siavoush before him.

Yes, the Salafis are really different than the Amish as Reality shows.

[Please refrain from using the word "really" - it is a weasel word and is not coducive to clear thinking.]


"Unlike other religions it has no revered saints and martyrs, no resplendent popes and bishops, no ornate churches and temples, no elaborate rituals and services, no hymns and sacred music, no pomp and ceremony, nothing that can engage the emotions of its followers."

Good article, which touches on many essential issues, but seems to of missed the Sufi aspect of Islam completely, which is one of the major denominations & does include revered saints, martyrs, teachers, sacred music, etc.

I would also of liked to see some acknowledgement that the Wahhabi extremists main targets have generally been other moslems, particularly Sufi & Shia's...


Dear Brig FB Ali sir
Great write up.Just wanted to appreciate your effort.


Good job sir.


I am a reformed protestant, so we have few of the rituals and saints referred to. There is a huge difference between the creeds and that centers on Christ. We believe He died on the Cross for the payment of our sins. God demands a life wholly surrendered to Him and lived for His glory. In our sinfulness, we can not do it ourselves. So, Christians believe God became man to live that perfect life and take all punishment for us. Then, after three days He rose. Through faith in Him, we can have fellowship with Him and live worshiping Him in eternity.

My understanding is that in Islam, one must strive w/o the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (the Church is to be the body of Christ on earth). The two religions may share prophets and teachings, but the heart of Gospel is that man can't be holy in his own power. The Church is to be as one community - though obviously we fail in this. Christ said few would follow Him and that there would be many who claimed to know Him, but whom He does not know. Just because one calls himself a Christian does not make it so. I digress. The main difference between Christianity and Islam is the Gospel. You take away the crucifixion and resurrection, you take away the very power of Christianity. The miracles and the parables are beautiful, but they are not salvation. W/o, Jesus was just a crazy teacher w/ some nice ideas.


First of all, FB Ali is from Pakistan, I guess, where this following was simply not true, certainly not until recently (1947), and really not even now.

"Unlike other religions it has no revered saints and martyrs, no resplendent popes and bishops, no ornate churches and temples, no elaborate rituals and services, no hymns and sacred music, no pomp and ceremony, nothing that can engage the emotions of its followers".

In the Indian context, it has a lot of the above. It has saints, martyrs, ornate mosques and dargahs, rituals, services, even music.

So I start wondering - just what on earth is FB Ali talking about? Does he take Saudi Islam to be the canonical Islam?

Of the 1.7 billion Muslims FB Ali claims, 0.5 billion of them live in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and do not have the austere religion that he claims Islam is.


This is the founder of Pakistan (Jinnah) in 1917

"With Jinnah in his first phase I had intimate contacts going back to 1917, when I went to see him for the first time in his Bombay home to seek his advice: he was then the President of the Home Rule League in Bombay. Mrs. Besant was in internment at Ootacamund for her home rule activities and Gandhiji was contemplating a march of volunteers from Madras—a distance of 350 miles—to enforce her release.

Jinnah called a few friend to his house for a discussion: Tilak, Horniman, Syed Hussain, Jamnadas Dwarkadas, Omar Sobhani and Shankerlal Banker (apart from myself). Tilak was a little late in coming, and Jinnah utilised the time to explain to Horniman that the sect among the Muslims to which he belonged believed in the ten Avataaras and had much in common with Hindus in their inheritance laws and social customs. The main point of discussion—Gandhiji's proposal—took little time. Tilak promptly rejected it as impracticable and Jinnah and Horniman agreed with that view."


I know, I know, the usual argument "that that is not true Islam" is about to be invoked. But isn't that the underlying problem, not the West, this constant oneupmanship, "My Islam is truer than yours" (and therefore I'm morally superior, and therefore my political will should prevail)?


To demean and ridicule the Prophet is to strike at the emotional core of being of every Muslim. It is an attack on their sense of identity, on who they are, on the very basis of their existence. (The dynamics at work here are similar to those that cause denial of the Holocaust to be such an extremely sensitive issue for Jewish people. Both are existential issues).

Denying the Holocaust is telling Jews that no, you were not slaughtered in the millions in Europe during the Nazi era.

Denying the Prophet - each of us who is not Muslim does it every time we hear the Azaan. Great man maybe, but not with the monopoly on knowledge of God, nor the sole way to heaven, salvation, nor the last we're going to hear from God. We are implicitly or explicitly denying the veracity of the Prophet.

And yes, we know that Muslims are offended by that, and long for the day when the whole world will be Muslim, and we will thus be out of the state of jahiliya that we currently are in. This is **far** from an existential crisis for us!!!

And we, we are not supposed to be offended by this attitude of Muslims, certainly not riot, and instead be grinfucked into extinction.



Per F.B. Ali, this does not exist (or ought not to exist).


Or this:
or this:
or this:
or this:

Let us not have the fakery of an austere Islam paraded here.


Oh for God's sake, of course they would...IF, they thought they would make money on it, or be regarded as some avant-garde artist, or having taken their first art history class at some freshman program, thought doing so would anger and shock their family while home during a school vacation. Of course they would. And to anyone who would be shocked and offended by it I would say.....'grow up'. Be rightly sadden....by ignorant and crude people, but still, grow the F up.


FB Ali

I have abstained from comment on this post until now to observe but a couple of points:

1- As several have observed, FB Ali's expressed view of Islam is that of an educated Muslim who sees all through the lens of the most rarified sort of Sunni
Islam. To say that Islam has no saints or other great figures is to ignore the simple evidence of shrines to a multiplicity of saints and other revered figures that exist everywhere in the Islamic World except in the desert lands of Arabia where the Wahhabis hold power. To say that Islam has no great sacred buildings is to ignore the evidence of the senses in Istanbul, India, Iran, Central Asia, etc. There is not hierarchy in Islam? That is true in a strictly literal sense, but what do you call the great "colleges" of divines in the various Shia Howzas and the faculties of Al-Azhar, Al-Zeitunah, etc. I think that FB Ali's exposition of the width and breadth of Islamic practise reflects a very narrow point of view, a point of view that would have been comfortable for Al-Ghazali but then a book, even his, is only a book rather than the practise of popular religion.

2- Then there is the matter of the collective "neurosis" suffered by much of world population of Muslims on the subject of colonialism. I would ask the Muslims how long they intend to carry on in this tradition of hostility to the West. Yes, there is a long, long tradition of warfare between Christendom and Islamdom, but until the end of the Middle Ages it was warfare practised with both aggressive and defensive intentions on both sides. It was only with the rise of the technologicsl superiority of the West in the post Renaissance that the scales of power became so tilted in favor of the West that the long decline of Islamdom into defeat and occupation became inevitable. Before that, both sides "gave as good as they got." The Crusader effort to regain the Holy Land? The Muslims seized the land by force of arms, The West took it back 400 years later. The West held Syria for nearly 200 years and then the Muslims took it back again. You find a morality play in this? I do not. If the Muslims wish to hold a permanent "grudge" against the West and to revel in injured feelings, they must expect the West to react in kind. IMO the two sides are presently unreconcilable. In part this is because the Muslims like it that way. They like the feeling of victimization. In another part this is because the these long and continuing wars have "trained" many in the West and especially in the US to detest the Muslims from frustratons with what Westerners see as the paternalistic benevolence of their actions in seeking development of these countries. US withdrawal from the "wonky" notion of "nation building" in the Islamic World is now inevitable. The US is well on its way to energy independence. When that is done the only real issues that will remain between the two "worlds" will be on the questions of posession of fire power and "throw weight." pl

Babak Makkinejad

You wrote:

"...God demands a life wholly surrendered to Him.."

Yes, precisely why the religion is called Islam.

And that is why Christians are also Muslims.

I agree with your characterization of the centrality of "Resurrection" to Nicean Creed; the extant form of Christianity being the decisive point of difference.

Babak Makkinejad

I personally doubt it; no one dares doing so.

Babak Makkinejad

I think that is fine as long as you kindly refrain from conflating Christendom with this mythical creature called "The West".

In regards to saints - they are there inspite of the Sunni Orthodoxy and not because of it.

I have no doubt that Wahabis would have destroyed the Masjid al Nabi - as they destroyed Baqia Cemetery - if they thought they could get away from it.

The existence of the Howzas of Shia - in Najaf, Qum, Mashahd, Tehran, Isphahan,etc. does not detract from FB Ali's statements - within Sunni Islam nothing like that exists - not even Al Azhar.

The Shia are almost like a different religion.

I do not think the past histroy of colonization - conquest, reconquest, and conquest again - is the issue.

What I am seeing is the unrolling of the political power of the West in Islamdom over the last 160 years.

That process is not complete yet.

Once it is completed, I should expect calmer situations.

Babak Makkinejad

FB Ali is correct, there are no human beings that are sanctified by virtue of their service to Islam that are universally held to be saints by all Muslims, everywhere.

Nothing like Rama, or the 6 princes that founded Jain religion etc. except the Prohphet.

The saints - really holy men and women - are not part of the orthodoxy of Islam.

This is to be contrasted with Catholicism or Eastern Christian Orthodox Church.

The people who live Islam, evidently, over historical time, altered it to be less austere and less simple.

But as Col. Lang states below - from a Sunni Scholastic point of view - all of those are later accretions.

Muslim lived in this ambiguity for centuries but now are faced with the hard decisions of what means to be a Muslim and what constitutes "true" Muslim practice.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

I agree with much of what you say. To keep the piece of reasonable length I did not deal with all the ramifications of the issue. In my reply to Herb above I said:

"I was dealing with the basic creed of the religion, not the way it is practised by certain groups. Human beings find it difficult to adhere strictly to a religion which is essentially just a relationship between the human individual and an invisible deity, without any intermediaries. There is no scope for emotional attachment in such an intangible equation.

That is why various groups of Muslims have added to the basics of the religion such things as martyrs and saints, and the veneration of their tombs and memory in elaborate rituals involving devotional songs or sorrowful dirges and ritual mourning. All these engage their emotions, but all of them are extraneous to the fundamentals of the religion".

In replying to Shah Alam I pointed out the other causes of such outbursts: the backward condition of the peoples of the Muslim world, and the pernicious influence of their leaders.

The main cause of anti-Western feelings in the Muslim world is their more recent experience. It has also suited their rulers and leaders to blame the West for all the ills afflicting them, even though most of them are due their own failings.

I share your pessimism about the future of this relationship, especially with the rise of fundamentalists and jihadis in the Muslim world, and more 'hard line' leaders in the West.


Obviosuly you've never seen any of the 'body art' currently all the rage in Detroit.

Babak Makkinejad

Not in Western Europe - I seriously doubt it.

And even in Detroit, they would not dare write Hebew verses on the body of a naked woman and run around screaming "Freedom of Speech".

No Sir, they would not risk that at all.



In the mass mind of "the Muslims," Christendom and the West are conflated. That is the basis of Muslim hostility. I would argue that this is no longer justified, because as you imply, much of the West is now essentially heathen. Nevertheless the image persists in the Muslim mind. Hostility to Muslims in places like "flyover' America is not religious except in the "minds" of tiny fringe sects of Protestant Evengelicals. No, it has become a matter of reaction to the rejection of attempls to"improve" the lives of Muslims and the bloody rejection of those misguided efforts. pl


FB Ali

BTW, the era of the existence of career people in the US Government who could have been described as "old Middle East hands" is over. Such people are thought of as enemies by AIPAC and the preferred form of fauna in the government now are populations of "do-gooders" who believe in the power of benevolence and careerists with more garaduate degrees than are good for them. pl


"....God said, Let there be light: and there was light. "

I've seen the a above text, though in English and no, there was no running around screaming 'free speech'.


This is a very interesting conversation.
In my part of the U.S.,if you were to write the book of Genesis on a female body. It's unlikely it would make the news and if perchance it did, almost everyone would be indifferent.
Is this "indifference"difficult for you to comprehend. That's all it is, indifference.
There is nothing to project onto it.
Is this one one of the culture differences that is being discussed?

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