Islam Examined, Part 1
If Westerners were to stop looking at Islam through the lens of Political Correctness, they would fear for the future of Western civilization. That is the message of Nonie Darwish’s Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic law. Darwish lived the first thirty years of her life as a Muslim in Egypt and her father died in jihad against Israel. She was still a child at the time and remembers a government official asking her and her siblings, “Which one of you will avenge your father’s blood by killing Jews?” That remark made her begin wondering about her religion’s teachings. The intellectual journey that followed has given her a unique understanding of its beliefs and goals.
Among the realities that Westerners fail to see, she claims, is that the perpetrators of violence in the name of Islam have not “hijacked a peaceful religion” as the dominant narrative suggests. Rather, violence has been part of Islam from the beginning. Encyclopedia Britannica confirms that assessment, stating that the Crusades that began in the late eleventh century were “in response to centuries of Muslim wars of expansion” that conquered about two-thirds of the ancient Christian world.
Some argue that Muslim conquests and the Crusades were no different morally, but James Arlandson makes an important distinction between them: “Though European Crusaders may have been sincere, they wandered off from the origins of Christianity when they slashed and burned and forced conversions . . . In contrast, Muslims who slashed and burned and forced conversions did not wander off from the origins of Islam, but followed [them] closely.”
Exactly how closely? Darwish cites numerous writings known collectively as the Sunnah confirming that Mohammed himself declared that those who commit such murders will not be punished. And the directive still stands: “The Qur’an and Hadith command Muslims to murder Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Bahais, Druze, Ahmediyas, and all other non-Muslims in cold blood!”
Westerners have also been told that the Islam’s teachings about violence have “evolved” over the centuries, in much same way that other religions have undergone doctrinal changes. Darwish challenges this notion. When she was a child in Egypt, she explains, she heard songs on the radio “about jihad and martyrdom to destroy the infidels” and she was taught that “jihad was not only honorable but also a mandate for every Muslim.” She also quotes contemporary leaders who echo such thoughts. For example, Muslim theologian Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, who wrote in 1980, “Islam wishes to destroy all states and government anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.”
Darwish emphasizes that Islam is the only major religion that sanctions violence toward those with different beliefs. Nor is this the only the only important difference between Islam and other major religions, notably Judaism and Christianity. The following differences are among those she identifies:
On Sexuality: Muslim law allows a woman only one husband but permits any man to have up to four wives and male leaders to have even more. She quotes the highly respected 11th century Muslim theologian Imam Ghazali’s explanation for the different rules: “Some men have such compelling sexual desire that one woman is not sufficient to protect them from adultery . . . they may have up to four wives.” (Mohammed was permitted eleven wives, plus sexual access to slave women.)
“The one theme that runs through as a constant [in Muslim scriptures is] catering to men’s sexual pleasures both on earth and in Paradise,” according to Darwish. This goes even to the extreme of having sex with children, she claims, citing Grand Ayatollah Khomeini’s statement in the 1980s: “A man can quench his sexual lusts with a child as young as a baby.”
On Women and Men: Imam Ghazali declared that Eve’s eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden caused women special punishments, including “not having control over her own person,” having only one husband, being subject to divorce but not able to divorce, and having her testimony assigned half the weight of a man’s. In addition, “she should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors . . . [but should] satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.” According to Ghazali, “It is a fact that all the trials, misfortunes and woes which befall men come from women.” [Emphasis added] Evidently, this explains why men enjoy a much higher status than women.
On Marriage and Family: In Judaism and Christianity marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman. In Islam it is very different. First, there is polygamy. (Incidentlly, Darwish notes that the math of polygamy doesn’t work—in order for every man to have four wives, women would have to outnumber men by four to one, a birth ratio that has never existed.) Then there is also “temporary marriage,” a polite term for having permission to engage in sexual behavior that would otherwise be classified as adultery.
Further, women are not regarded as equal partners in marriage. Ghazali wrote: “Marriage is a form of slavery. The woman is man’s slave, and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person.” Muslim scriptures give the man the right to beat his wife whenever she behaves in a way he considers to be rebellious; moreover, “a man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife.”
Taken together, these practices lead Darwish to conclude that in Islam “jihad is above family.” Her reasoning: “There is no guarantee to heaven for a man who lived a life of sacrifice for the welfare of his family or his community. Islam does not tell the Muslim man he is guaranteed heaven if he makes the world a peaceful place, but it does guarantee him heaven if he blows up the marketplaces and houses of worship of non-Muslims . . . .”
On Slavery: Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan declared that “Slavery is a part of Islam” and those who seek its abolition are infidels. Moreover, Darwish notes that he did not make this declaration in the seventh or eleventh century but in 2003.
On Moral Ideals Christianity and Judaism place special value on love, repentance, forgiveness, and treating neighbors as one wishes to be treated. Many other religions share these values. Islam, however, is a glaring exception.
“The word love is never mentioned, not even once, in the Qur’an,” says Darwish, but at least 75% of the “Sunnah” (the life of Mohammed) is about jihad. In addition, “there are 146 references to hell in the Qur’an,” but 94 percent of the people in hell are there for disagreeing with Mohammed, rather than for moral failings.
As for repentance, Darwish says that Muslim writings never speak of it, despite the fact that over the last 1400 years, Muslim jihad has been responsible for an estimated 120 million deaths.
Forgiveness is not entirely absent from Islam; in fact, in places it is recommended. But even in those places, the recommendation is often qualified. Qur’an 5:95 says “Allah forgives what is past: for repetition Allah will exact from him the penalty. For Allah is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution.” (“Penalty” and “Retribution” seem to outweigh forgiveness.) Similarly, Qur’an 42:40 says “The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong.” This seems to mean that the injured person (the forgiver) will be rewarded, but the wrongdoer will still be punished and perhaps forfeit Allah’s love.
Admittedly, these passages may be interpreted in a way that is open to forgiveness. However, the harsh punishments still common in Islam—stoning to death, cutting off thieves’ hands, honor killing, execution for converting to another religion—suggest that forgiveness is at very least not a major emphasis.
Darwish summarizes the differences between the Western and Islamic perspectives in this way: “What the West views as virtue, Islam views as an opportunity. While the West values assimilation, Islam values segregation. While the West values freedom of speech, Islam prohibits asking questions. While the West advocates pacifism, Islam calls for war. While the west respects all religions, Islam advocates killing or subjugating those who believe in other religions.”
Finally, she defines Islam as “less a religion and more a totalitarian system of government by terror”; and she defines jihad as “a murder of the innocent and a violation of human rights,” as well as “a deceptive system of acquiring the wealth, land, and possessions of others and claiming it for Islam.” “To be a Muslim,” she argues, “is to have a relationship not with Allah but with the Sharia-run State.”
Copyright © 2017 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved.
Note:” Part 2 of this essay will look more closely at Islam’s Sharia law, its influence on the religion and its followers, and the strategies Nonie Darwish suggests for preventing that influence from changing America.