I don’t normally discuss the contentions of minor blog postings about MDI, but there was one that caught my eye, and I thought I’d use it as a good example of how anti-Muslim polemicists can misrepresent even the most innocuous writings by Muslims, and turn them into something sinister – and I believe there is a reason for this.
The author of the anti-theist blog Answering Abraham.com, known by the pen-name of ‘Derek Adams’, has attempted to write an expose on his blog against MDI’s Press Release on 3rd October 2012. The Press Release was a simple article responding to objectors against MDI’s debate with the EDL, where MDI openly advocated and defended the Islamic principles of open debate, and the need for frank and civil intellectual debate with the far-right.
Oddly, Derek wrote an article entitled the ‘The Tolerance of MDI’, and went on to make a strange and peculiar non-sequitur argument that because MDI advocates debate due to its Islamic principles, it must (secretly?) advocate intolerance because as the Islamophobes ‘reliably’ tell us, Islam is intolerant.
For those who don’t know Derek Adams, he was a former student of Christian apologist, James White and the obscure Christian demagogue, Sam Shamoun. Derek was also a former contributor to the conspiratorial anti-Islam website ‘Answering Muslims.com’ operated by the Christian group, Acts 17 ministries. Mr Adams left Christianity (and the group) when he realised that there were many inconsistencies in the arguments used against Islam that Christianity itself would fall foul of (if not more so). Although I would disagree with the criticism against Islam emanating from that website, it was only a matter of time before some of the writers there realised that you can’t throw stones if you live in glass houses – and their literalist brand of Christianity has more glass than a merger between Coca-cola and Pepsi’s bottle makers – who then undertook a joint venture to begin building underwater Aquariums.
However, after Mr Adams left Christianity, he created the ‘Answering Abraham.com’ website. Apparently, one of the reasons he created the site was in order to continue his conversations with his erstwhile co-religionists like ‘Stealth Jihad’ conspiracy theorist, David Wood who apparently idiosyncratically resorted to censoring Mr Adam’s critical comments on their ‘Answering Muslims’ website:
Mr [David] Wood is not always consistent. He doesn’t always practice what he preaches. I have been censored multiple times on this blog and therefore will make sure my comments are heard…at Answering Abraham
Mr Adams has commented sometimes on MDI’s blog, and I’m pleased to note that we ‘Stealth Jihadist’ Muslims have a greater respect for open and frank discussion than those who claim we deny such exchanges. Mr Adam’s past history aside, he has clearly retained his aggressively anti-Islamic position – which is fair enough; just because he left Christianity, doesn’t necessarily mean he should agree with Islam. However, when commenting on the MDI Press Release, Mr Adams ‘thanked’ us for
‘coming out of the closet and confessing it is Islamic Law they wish to see defended’.
I didn’t even know MDI was in ‘the closet’ about Islamic law, which I think is the strikingly obvious problem with Derek’s article. As even the most cursory follower of MDI’s work knows, MDI’s members have been debating and defending Islamic law for 3 years now – since MDI’s inception. Even a brief examination of MDI’s ‘About’ section on MDI’s blog would make clear, to even the most inattentive of readers the following line:
‘we [MDI] hold that since humans have not changed in essence and nature since their beginning, the laws of Islam (shariah) are unchanging and relevant to all times and places. Thus MDI believes that Islam is intellectually sound and a perfect and complete way of life for mankind’.
One can only explain Derek’s strained attempt at sensationalism, to either having been living under a rock for the past three years, or perhaps (more probably) having ran out of original things to write on his blog. Even more peculiar is when he says:
’Mr Al Andalusi has made one critical error, he candidly admits Islam is one of these religions that indeed has a Law system’
I never knew that a Muslim ‘admitting’ that Islam has a law system was something new or surprising. In fact I do not even know what point Mr Adam’s is making about Islam, since Catholicism, Judaism, Shinto Buddhism, Hindu Dharma and virtually every other pre-liberal religion has a law system too. Perhaps Mr Adams should enlighten himself more about the world.
Of course, what actually perplexes me is to why it has taken Derek this long to understand my many years of lectures and debates defending the Sharia. It becomes even more perplexing considering that Derek himself has already written an article covering one of my lectures defending Sharia earlier in Spring 2012! It’s like a student going to university classes for three years, and only in the final year, does he realise what the subject being taught in these classes actually is. One wonders what further articles Derek will come up with next about MDI and its members? ‘Abdullah admits that he believes in one God’ or ‘MDI comes out of the closet that they believe Muhammed (pbuh) is a Prophet of God‘ Perhaps Mr Adams should change his blog name from ‘Answering Abraham’ to ‘Re-iterating-the-Obvious.com’, or ‘Answering-Common-Knowledge.com’.
Mr Adams writes further:
‘Andalusi himself admits a society (including the West) must demand obedience to the Law, this essentially means Muslims are also bound by their Religious Law. Andalusi fails to mention that the Islamic sources refer to the Muslims as an “Ummah (community,society nation)”, and therefore every Muslim and the Muslim society as a whole are also actually obligated to adhere to the Law of that society (in this case: Sharia Law)’
Mr Adams continues
‘Muslims truly desire, not the compatibility of the West and Islam, but the domination of Islamic Laws and the religious right of Muslims to fully practice Islam in the west’.
This must be one of the most non-sequitur arguments I have ever come across – and that’s coming from someone who has encountered Christians who argue that because Jesus was crucified and died, he must therefore be divine! Mr Adam’s attempts to strawman the passage where the MDI Press Release states:
‘Muslims justifiably do not see it as fair and just that they should have to change their beliefs in order to be tolerated. A society need only demand obedience to the law from its citizens’.
How he interpreted this passage defending the right to individual conscience, to mean that Muslims want to dominate Western societies, defies common sense. I think it is clear to all objective readers that the Press Release was merely enunciating that any given society only has the right to make reasonable demands upon its minorities upto the point of obedience to the law e.g. British Society requires its citizens to adhere to British law, U.S. Society requires its citizens to adhere to Federal and State law etc.
What is Mr Adams contention to this? Is this an act to desperately strawman the article in a vain attempt to imply something sinister behind what is merely a reasonable comment? Perish the thought that Muslims can make reasonable comments while adhering to their principles! I believe Mr Adams has over-reached himself by making the strange claim that the Press Statement is calling for Muslims to fully establish all political aspects Sharia law in the UK. At best Mr Adams possesses an inability to comprehend basic statements, at worst he is being deliberately disingenuous – I’ll leave that to the reader to decide – but suffice to say, Derek’s arguments seem to possess more strawmen than a Haitian voodoo doll convention.
For example, he is wrong to claim that the Arabic word ‘Ummah’ means ‘Society’, rather it clearly means ‘Community’ or ‘a nation of people’. The Arabic word for Society is‘ mujtama’. Society is what is formed when people congregate in one geographical region and engage in continual relationships based upon a set of laws to regulate themselves. Concurrently, societies are formed under structures known as states or tribes. Muslims living in West, live in Western society and not within an Islamic society – so the law clearly must be Western law, and not Islamic law – hence Mr Adam’s point is strained as it is absurd.
Mr Adam’s last argument is where he cites text within the link originally provided by MDI’s press release regarding the civil and open debate Muhammed (pbuh) had with the Christians of Najran. He claims that the Prophet later on reneged on his compact of peace with the Christians and demanded they convert to Islam. Ironically, what Mr Adam’s has failed to realise, if he had bothered to read the very quote he cited before making comment (a common problem amongst Islamophobes), was that the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) sent an expedition to only one tribe of Najran, Al-Harith ibn Ka’b which according to Tabari showed the Prophet (pbuh) reprimanding the tribe for engaging in military hostilities with the Muslims. It was usual practice , before engaging in punitive expeditions against actively hostile tribes, to present the Muslim army to them and offer them a chance to reconcile themselves with the Muslims by converting to Islam to advert just retaliation for their crimes. The secular approach would be just to retaliate against aggression (ref Western foriegn policy) – but Islam, being based upon theological principles, offers forgiveness to criminals by a simple affirmation of faith, whichs acts to demonstrate a commitment to reform themselves by acting according to a new set of morals and values – a mercy Islam accords anyone, even if it is done hypocritically. Far from being an evidence of Islam’s intolerance, Muhammed (pbuh) actually demonstrated Islam’s mercy.
If Muhammed (pbuh) was going to go back on his word to the Christians of Najran, he would have sent a general expedition to ALL the tribes of Najran. But Muhammed (pbuh) only dealt with the tribe that had committed the transgression. This is consistent with the treaty stipulations of Muhammed (pbuh) to the Christians:
No person in Najran is answerable for an injustice committed by another.
Now more can be discussed on this topic, but that will be covered in a future article – however we have changed the link on the article to render it fool-proof against any more questing Islamophobes. However, the point to note was that all this criticism took place, merely because the Press Release made the point that Muslims should not be forced to change their beliefs. I didn’t know that keeping one’s beliefs was such a sinister and seditious act. Sadly, this seems to be a general reflection of Mr Adam’s inability to objectively read statements written by Muslims.
So just to be painfully clear, especially for Mr Adam’s sake: the Sharia commands Muslims to live under covenant (dhimma) to whatever state they reside in – so for Western countries – Muslims must live as law abiding citizens within the boundaries of Western law, accepting the law as laid down by a sanctioned Western government. However, the Muslim community wishes to live peacefully without having to be forced and coerced to renounce their own theological beliefs and political and legal views. The sharia concept of adhering to covenants, prohibits Muslims from sedition in the West, or trying to agitate for an Islamic regime change. So considering the fact that the West is governed by laws that only prohibit things which are optional within Islam (e.g. polygamy), and does not compel Muslims to do things which Muslims are prohibited from doing (e.g. Alcohol, multiple girlfriends, adultery, wearing revealing clothes, fighting neo-colonial wars etc), there is no identifiable friction between Muslims and the current law of such countries (except in the ‘tolerant’ Secular nation of France..). As neither the personal beliefs of Muslims or Western legal systems have cause to coerce the other, in theory no irreconcilable clash need ever occur.
But Mr Adam’s writes
Their “Sharia Councils”, effectively they have an Islamic sublaw operating…Adherence to Allah’s eternal law is what Muslims truly desire, not the compatibility of the West and Islam, but the domination of Islamic Laws and the religious right of Muslims to fully practice Islam in the west.
Unfortunately, the underlying motives behind Derek’s statement, is the problem that many like him, view simply living within Western law as insufficient for minorities there. Many, like Derek, are deeply suspicious and intolerant against non-Liberal and Semitic cultures, especially those with differing legal systems based upon theological principles. Such people desire not to co-exist with the adherents of those beliefs – especially if they ‘dare’ to manifest some of it in their conduct and actions, even though it is legal and within the law of those Western countries.
This is despite the fact that in Western countries, the theory of ‘freedom’ stipulates that adults may come to mutually consensual decisions based upon their own conceptions of what a ‘good life’ is, even if that conception is one of an austere regimen, or one of wild hedonistic abandon. Two adults can make the consensual decision to hold unequal power relations, as long as physical harm is not inflicted upon an unwilling participant. So in Western countries, couples can organise themselves under a dominant male, with the female playing a recessive role if they so choose. It is even permitted in the West that couples may choose to engage in sado-masochism – even though it may involve ritual humiliation of one party by the other as part of a completely one-sided dominant relationship.
However, when it comes to Muslim couples wishing to exercise their right to resolve their marital differences by recourse to an arbitration process upon a set of principles which they both consent to and believe in; the bigoted champions of ‘Freedom’ (the euphemism for Liberalism) and the far-right cry foul, and demand the abolition and opposition to such a right. Thus the ugly totalitarian nature of Liberalism is exposed, and its intrinsic intolerance becomes manifest. For Liberalism cares not for couples who engage in relationships which possess a practical inequality amongst themselves, as long as they are adherents to Liberalism. But if a couple would do the same thing, or similar, from a basis other than Liberalism – it is viewed as a gross affront, and dare I say, a blasphemy against it.
In conclusion, the Western mindset falls far short of the ideals it advertises and claims to uphold to the rest of the world. Mr Adam’s deliberate misreading and sinister spin on a simple innocuous MDI Press Release is not merely a product of his personal intolerance, but rather it is symptomatic of the intolerance inherent in his Liberal ideals – the power of which compels him to oppose those who do not share this faith.
Well said. MDI should do some work in the eastern coast of USA like in NJ or Washington D.C.