Accuracy in Media

Uninformed Westerners could hardly be blamed for taking comfort in the words spoken by an Islamic television newsman shortly after the massacre that took place at the Russian school in Beslan.  “It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims,” asserted Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, General Manager of a popular satellite television station, Al-Arabiya.
Rashed cited terrorist incident after terrorist incident perpetrated by Muslims.  “The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings all over the world were Muslim,” he stated in a commentary.
That’s not the only vigorous condemnation expressed in the Arab news media about the tragedy in Beslan.  Khaled Hamed al-Suleiman, a columnist in the Saudi Arabian daily Okaz, presented a strong indictment of the Beslan killers for having “turned today’s Islam into something having to do with decapitations, the slashing of throats, abducting innocent civilians and exploding people.  The time has come for Muslims to be the first to come out against those interested in abducting Islam in the same way they abducted innocent children.  This is the true jihad these days, and this is our obligation, as believing Muslims, toward our monotheistic religion.”
Many Westerners will welcome those statements.  They should, in fact, do so.  They should also realize the limits of those sentiments in a world where technology combined with the sentiments of jihad can empower a very small number of people to do a great deal of damage.
Free Congress Foundation Adjunct Fellow Robert Spencer, the author of two books about Islam and the monographs An Introduction to the Qur’an and Jihad in Context: Beyond Political Correctness, What the Qur’an Really Says, does not cast doubt upon the sincerity of the opinions expressed by these commentators, but argues that such statements are nothing more than a palliative aimed at reassuring Westerners that everything will soon be fine.  Spencer readily admits that many Muslims are indeed peaceful souls who harbor goodwill to their fellow man.  However, in their willingness to recast their religion and its history toward one that reflects their own personal outlook, they end up overlooking or not understanding the true meaning of jihad
“No one talks about the root causes, the ideology that gives rise to the terrorism.  No one addresses why this is happening,” says Spencer whose works expose the bloody roots of the word jihad in the Islamic world.
Spencer notes that the Qur’an, the Holy book of Islam, is vested by Islamic scholars with even more authority than most Jewish or Christian scholars would accord the Bible.  Why?  Islamic scholars believe the words spoken in the Qur’an were dictated by Allah himself, and filtered through no human element whatsoever.  Allah himself, in Sura 41:41-2, states:  “This is a mighty scripture.  Falsehood cannot reach if from before or from behind.”  Muslims regard the Qur’an on earth as a copy of the book that has existed with Allah for all eternity. 
There are passages in the Qur’an that emphasize the importance of peace and tolerance, but a broad tradition within Islamic theology maintains that when there is contraction between verses, the chronologically later one will take precedence.  Disturbingly, then, the most violent of the Qur’an’s chapters is Sura 9, which Spencer notes “was the very last Sura to have been revealed.”  It is the only Sura that does not commence by stating “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”  Sura 9:29 states:  “Fight those who believe not Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth (even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya [the special tax on non-Muslims] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
There also is Sura 9:5.  It states in unequivocal terms:  “?when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them [captive], and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush.  But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free.  Lo!  Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”  This indicates that only non-believers must abandon their beliefs to embrace Islam or else suffer the consequences, clearly violent, as indicated in this Sura. 
Sahih Bukhari [Vol. 1, Book 2, No. 25], an influential and respected source of traditions about Muhammad, quotes Muhammad saying:  “I have been ordered [by Allah] to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform As-Salat [prayers] and give Zakat [obligatory charity], so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and properties from me except for Islamic laws, and their reckoning will be with Allah.”
The statements from the Qur’an and Muhammad represent the fuel that powers Islamic extremism today.  Some within Islam have mustered up the courage to denounce what is happening; indeed, one leading French journalist, Gilles Kepel, has just published a book, The War for Muslim Minds, arguing that the jihadists are faltering, their tactics proving to be counterproductive.  Spencer argues to the contrary, “Kepel was saying it in 2002 in a book then, and now he is saying it again in another.  Unfortunately, the facts don’t bear him out.  He doesn’t mention the many places where jihadists are advancing, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Kashmir, Chechnya and Nigeria.  He may be right that the Muslim masses are alienated, but they have no spokesman and no leg to stand on in Islamic theology.” 
Even if there were a reformation of sorts within the Islamic world, it would not mean an end to strife against the West.  It would not bring about peace.  It would only increase this strife as the differences between Islam and the West would be thrown into even greater relief.  Islamic extremists would only increase in hatred for the West for diluting what they view to be the purity of their religion.  It’s good that respected media commentators within the Islamic world are starting to acknowledge the truth about what is occurring.  Even if they acknowledged the truth that lies behind the surface, it does not guarantee any decisive turning point in relations between the Islamic world and the West.  That means the incident in Beslan may be only the most recent of more such bloody events to come.

Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views of Accuracy in Media or its staff.

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