Monday, March 27, 2006

OPINION: Afghan Courts Make a Mockery of Sharia

Guess what! Some Muslims are in the news again. And as always, they are doing exactly the opposite of what their faith and values intended.

And if you thought a minority of hysterical Muslims were slow (6 months) in responding to the Danish cartoons, try this for size. The Afghan authorities and judiciary took a whole 16 years to work out one of their own had changed religions.

The good news is that the Muslim government involved is, at least for now, from the good side. And thankfully, they seem to be doing something to stop the clear abuse of sharia law.

Freedom & democracy from Guantanamo to Kabul

Hardly a few weeks after the Danish cartoon saga, the pro-American government of Hamid Karzai has been caught out trying to revive the old Taliban legacy. And boy, don’t the war-on-terror brigade have egg on their faces.

Even poor Australian Prime Minister John Howard has admitted he isn’t very happy with the decision by the Afghan judiciary, whose judges are handpicked by Mr Karzai and his Ministers, to place a man on trial for the nasty deadly crime of … wait for it … converting to Christianity!

Australia’s troop presence in Afghanistan has recently been beefed up. Young Australian men and women are risking their lives to ensure that a pro-democracy and pro-freedom government can remain in power for long enough to potentially send a Christian to the gallows. Or was that the firing squad? Who knows?

Mr Howard says that when he first read about the Afghan Christian’s plight, he “felt sick – literally”.

But then, the Aussie PM shouldn’t complain. Poor Abdul Rahman has at least been told what he is charged with. Unlike so many of the Afghan and other Guantanamo Bay inmates who have been in custody for over 4 years now without charge.

Australia has one remaining Guantanamo prisoner. David Hicks faces what his US Military lawyer appropriately describes as a “kangaroo court”. Yet the Australian government refuses to lift a finger to assist one of their own citizens. With British PM Tony Blair visiting Australia, perhaps Mr Howard could learn some lessons from Mr Blair about how a country following the Westminster tradition of Parliamentary democracy should stand up for its citizens.

Misusing sharia to deny custody to a father

Still, this article is not about David Hicks or Guantanamo. Nor is it about the Abu Ghraib prisoners. This is about the Afghan government which practises the same excesses to those who claim that dropping depleted uranium on entire towns and cities is the best way to spread freedom and democracy.

And worse still, it is about people imposing barbaric punishments in the name of enforcing Islamic law.

Now before we start with the legal analysis, let’s try and master the facts. With all the hysteria of much western reporting, it is hard to know exactly what poor Abdul Rahman’s background is.
Abdul Rahman is a 41 year old Afghan father who has lived overseas for some 15 years. He returns to Afghanistan for a custody battle with his wife who lives in Afghanistan. A relative with a personal vendetta claims the father has converted to Christianity and dobs him into the authorities.

It’s amazing what people are prepared to do to pursue personal vendettas. Even if it is true that the father had converted to Christianity, what does this have to do with the price of Persian rugs in the Kabul bazaar?

The children have apparently lived in an Afghan Muslim environment all their lives. How they survived Russian intervention followed by civil war followed by Taliban rule followed US-led bombings followed the present chaos is anyone’s guess.

What are the merits of Rahman’s custody battle? Who knows. Certainly under the family law of most Western countries, he would have little chance of gaining custody. Under Australia’s Family Law Act, a court would be most reluctant to change the status quo of the children’s living arrangements without good reason.

And under Australia’s mandatory detention laws, the fact that the children are escaping a regime which kills them for belonging to the wrong tribe and/or sect isn’t enough to stop them from being thrown into a detention centre in the middle of the desert. At least that was the case until recently.

Indeed, one Kashmiri convert to Christianity was kept in Australian detention longer than any Muslim detainee and suffered severe trauma as a result. Peter Qasim’s conversion and fears for his safety didn’t stop the Howard government from keeping this hapless fellow behind bars.

To hudood or not to hudood

Even more hypocritical and scandalous than the Australian government’s alleged commitment to freedom for Christian converts is the Afghan judiciary’s commitment to sharia.

According to trial judge Ansarullah Mawlafizada:

The Prophet Muhammad has said several times that those who convert from Islam should be killed if they refuse to come back.
It seems the learned judge has not read the verse of the Qur’an immediately following the Ayat al-Kursi (“Verse of the Throne”). In verse 256 of Surah al-Baqarah, the One who created Sayyidina Muhammad and honoured him with the Seal of Prophethood declares:
Let there be no compulsion in religion.

There isn’t a huge amount of consensus among classical and modern sharia scholars on what acts constitute apostasy or what its punishment should be. Indeed, even scholars who agree that an apostate should be put to death place stringent conditions on this punishment.

According to Shaykh Nuh Keller’s translation of Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Masri’s classic work of Shafi law entitled Umdat as-Salik (“Reliance of the Traveller”), a condition for implementing the death penalty is that the caliph or his representative must ask the apostate to repent and return to Islam (see para o8.7 of the Revised Edition).

Further, only the caliph or his representative can carry out the punishment. Unless I am mistaken, I do not believe Hamid Karzai is regarded as the Caliph of Afghanistan. Chapter III of the Afghan Constitution sets out the powers and duties of the President, described there as the Head of State. Chapter IV sets out provisions relating to the Government. Nowhere do the words “caliph” or “caliphate” appear.

Further, Abdul Rahman is said to have converted to Christianity whilst living in the United States. Whether this gives the Afghan courts jurisdiction over his “offence” is unclear.

Various scholarly views of apostasy

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Its largest Islamic organisation (which is also the world’s largest) is the Nahdlatul Ulama (Council of Scholars). One of the most senior sharia scholars and lawyers in the NU is Professor Mohammad Fajrul Falaakh.

Professor Falaakh is Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at the prestigious Gadjah Mada University Law School in Yogyakarta where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate studies in government and public law. He is also a member of the National Law Commission of the Republic of Indonesia (2000-03), and Deputy Chairman of the Central Executive Board of NU. Apart from extensive studies in Indonesia and the UK, Professor Falaakh has also worked within the traditional pesentran system of religious training.

In 2002, Professor Falaakh visited Australia and New Zealand at the invitation of the Centre for Independent Studies. On 11 December 2002, he delivered the Acton lecture on Religion & Liberty at the Great Hall of the Parliament of New Zealand.

(An edited version of the text of Professor Falaakh’s talk can be found by accessing the website of the Centre for Independent Studies, going to the search feature and typing in the word “Islam”. Professor Falaakh’s speech is the first item in the list.)

In his speech, Falaakh lists the five basic principles of sharia. The first item in this list is “the protection of religious freedom, or the protection of religion and the way religion is observed”. Falaakh says that this freedom must be preserved even where sharia is “interpreted … more strictly”.

The third item in the list is "hifzh al-aql, meaning mine-that is, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience.” Here, Falaakh addresses the issue of apostasy directly, especially as applied in a pluralistic society. He continues …


What if, according to my own understanding, I exercise my freedom of thought and choose another religion, denouncing the one that I had professed before and embracing the new one? What about the regulation or provision that many Muslims believe in that those who renounce Islam will be punished by death?

… The traditional, conventional understanding of apostasy in Islam says that once you enter into Islam there is no way that you can leave, otherwise you will put yourself to death. If that is really the case, why does the sharia claim early on that there is to be protection of religion?

… There was a time when some parts of the Muslim community back in the 7th century were reported to have had renounced Islam and they were chased and punished by death … at the same time, they also waged war, turning against the community they had previously belonged to. So was that a very obvious case of apostasy or a case of rebelling against a political entity that you used to agree with-in other words, violating a political pact you created together with other people? So perhaps it was not really religious at all. It was simply a political affair.
Falaakh is not alone in the view that the original capital punishment for sharia was more related to the crime of treason. Professor Abdullah Saeed of the University of Melbourne, a graduate of the International Islamic University of Madeenah Munawwarra, recently co-authored a book on the subject together with Hassan Saeed, Attorney General for the Maldives.

Entitled Freedom of Religion, Apostasy & Islam, the authors argue that the early development of the law of apostasy was largely a religio-political tool. Further, there is a diversity of opinion among early Muslims on the punishment. There are substantial ambiguities about what constitutes apostasy, and the textual evidence doesn’t always assist in resolving these.

The authors conclude that those arguing in favour of the death penalty neglect a vast amount of clear texts in the Qur’an which favour freedom of religion in constructing the law of apostasy.

Indeed, even if the criminal law of sharia regards apostasy as a serious enough act to warrant being classed as hudood (subject to capital punishment), can such punishment be implemented in an environment where government, judiciary and police are corrupt? Is the case of Abdul Rahman not one in which Professor Tariq Ramadan’s call for a moratorium on hudood punishments should apply?

Conclusion

Given the stated commitment of Afghanistan Constitution to international law as enshrined in the Principles of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, perhaps the most appropriate Muslim response to the arrest and trial of Abdul Rahman is that of a spokesman for the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

When asked about Abdul Rahman, AFIC spokesman and lawyer Haset Sali responded:

Such barbaric action by anyone seeking to quote Islam as supporting their criminal action needs to be dealt with as a crime against humanity.
One hopes other Muslim leaders take a similar position to what is clearly a travesty of sharia and of justice. If Muslim minorities do not stand up for the rights of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority states, their occasional claims to being oppressed minorities themselves will not be taken seriously.

Or as the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of God be upon him) said:

The one who oppresses the non-Muslim citizen will have me testifying against him on the Day of Judgment.


(The author is a lawyer and writer based in Sydney, Australia. He is also an occasional lecturer at the School of Politics at Sydney’s Macquarie University. This article first appeared on the AltMuslim website.)

Words © 2006 Irfan Yusuf

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22 comments:

The Global Silk Road said...

Irfan,

I read your short paper with great pleasure after what I myself read and chose to write about today.

I know your site and your style must contribute greatly to what I am myself committed to a raprochment between Islam and the rest of the world.

Anyway despite the mutual US-Islamic focus both seem to have forgotten the significance and growing power of the ever richer non-christian non-muslim North East Asians.

dawood said...

Nice little article bro.

Anonymous said...

err...Didnt Mohamed say "if a person leaves islam kill him"? Ive been told that Mohamed's hadeith dont contradict the Koran. So when the Koran says no compulsion in religion, it means you cant force christians and jewish born people to accept islam, but a muslims isnt allowed to convert? am i correct in this analysis? i think i know your religion better than yourself.

Anonymous said...

To the above anonymous,

There was a golden age in Islam where Christians and Jews were not killed for adhering to their religion and could live in the Islamic societies. However, they were treated as second-class citizens, had to pay an additional tax, and had to wear an insignia reminiscent of Hitler's Nazis making the Jews sport yellow stars.

So there probably isn't a compulsion in religion, but those who aren't muslim certainly don't enjoy the same rights and status. Search the word "dhimmitude" on google. What Islam has planned for non-believers and apostates if it were to become the dominant religion would make Hitler look like a mere bully boy.

It isn't sharia law that's in the wrong here - a majority of ordinary Afghans also agree that Abdul should be killed or that he's a loony for leaving Islam. The 'moderate' clerics in Afghan have vowed to tear Abdul to pieces if he goes free.

If Irfan knows True Islam(TM), why isn't he some authoritative cleric or mufti? If he's got access to True Islam(TM), why hasn't he told those clerics in Afghanistan they've interpreted the Koran wrong? In fact, if the clerics in Afghanistan have got it wrong, what were they reading in the first place?

>>"Indeed, one Kashmiri convert to Christianity was kept in Australian detention longer than any Muslim detainee and suffered severe trauma as a result."

It's difficult to believe Irfan went to law-school (to the insult of all other law students and graduates) by raising such a ridiculous false analogy. Howard doesn't keep one person in detention centre any longer than another person because they exercise their freedom of religion.

Even if you are trying to peddle your bulldung, the most you could do is sound a little more convincing, Irfan.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 7:36pm, why do you justify the unjustifiable? Johnny Howard claims to care about an Afghan Christian convert but not a Kashmiri one.

Do you support the policy of compulsory concentration camps known as "mandatory detention"? Are you a true Christian? Or are you just another extremist Opus Dei or Ustazi thug recruited to the Young Libs?

Just face it. Irf has a point. And what's more, Irf gets published. All you can do is leave anonymous messages.

You are a disgrace to Christianity.

Pete's Blog said...

Good article Irfan.

Hopefully the Canuck's or Yanks will fly Rahman back to some undisclosed place (not Denmark!).

Anonymous said...

Nowhere did I say Howard's detention policy was justified.

I'm saying that it's not the asylum seeker's choice of religion which is motivating Howard to keep those people locked up in detention. The fact Howard has locked up both Muslims and Christians alike actually demonstrates the impartiality of our detention policy.

Sharia law and Islamic teachings on the other hand, is leading a majority of Afghans and the 'moderate' clerics to make calls of wanting to "tear apart" a man who chose to believe a different religion.

I can sit together with you and Irf and express our disgust at Howard's detention policy another day. But just because Howard locks up asylum seekers doesn't make it any more *right* for 'moderate' Islamic clerics to follow sharia law and call for the death penalty to a Christian convert.

Irf is trying to compare people who try to illegally enter our country to some guy who went back to his own country and was 'accused' of being a Christian.

And you *really* think a comparison can be drawn between the two?

You're a joke mate. Your post was just reinforcing Irf's red herring and you made an appeal to authority without actually confronting the reality of how 'moderate' Muslims treat people of other religions.

I'm atheist. But I will nevertheless defend to death your right to freedom of and from religion - qualified if your religion is a monetheistic one that seeks total domination and the subjugation of all others - as Islam is clearly trying to do in Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

How does it take 7 years to determine if a Kashmiri Christian is a genuine refugee?

If Islam is a faith that seeks total domination and subjugation of others as you claim, and if Kashmir has a majority Muslim population, why should it take all the resources of DIMA and other sectors of Aust govt 7 years to figure out that this guy is a refugee?

It didn't take AWB 7 years to realise their kickbacks were questionable. They knew it all along. As did Howard and Downer.

Howard is crying crocodile tears for Abdul Rahman.

You talk about comparing illegality of immigration to someone returning to their country after leaving their religion. I agree with you that it is inherently abhorrent to persecute someone because of their religion. But the fact is that it is illegal under Afghan law to abandon Islam.

It is also abhorrent to throw already traumatised asylum seekers into prison and leave them to rot whilst public servants take flexi-time and push the case into the too-hard basket. Yet the fact remains that entering Australia a certain way is illegal.

In both cases, the law is an ass. And I say that anyone who supports Karzai or Howard is a donkey. They are just as bad as each other.

Anonymous said...

>> How does it take 7 years to determine if a Kashmiri Christian is a genuine refugee?

The title of this article was about how the threat of death against a Christian convert was an alleged a misuse of sharia law.

See how Irfan has successfully diverted your attention against the outrageous crime of religious persecution in a country where Australian servicemen are risking their lives to establish by throwing in misnomers such as "Howard locks up refugees" and "American abuse at Abu Grahib" to diminish the actual repugnance of what nearly happened in Afghanistan, and the reality of the operation of sharia law, and how frightening Islamic intolerance towards other religions can be?

You seem to lose the plot when your attention is diverted by the plight of Australian refugees. It's a wonder Irf didn't throw in the Stolen Generation as well!

At the end of the day, how long DIMA takes to process a refugee application is irrelevant to the present issue - that Islam and sharia law condones intolerance and encourages its adherents to exert violence against those with different beliefs, contrary to all those emphatic repetitions that Islam is a 'religion of peace'. The moderate clerics and judge's so-called idea of religion of peace and tolerance in Abdul's case was to give the bloke a chance to reconvert before he was torn to pieces.

Real peace and tolerance there!

>> Howard is crying crocodile tears for Abdul Rahman.

Howard doesn't need to be perfect in order to place criticism against another country. By your standards, every country is shedding crocodile tears each time they condemn China's persecution of Falun Gong and Catholic Christian practitioners, because somewhere in our own refugee camps, there's a Christian who's been in detention for a few years waiting for his application to be finalized.

You see what a bloody joke you and Irf's logic is? It's not logic, and that's why it's just pathetic Irf, a lawyer, even had the ignorance to resort it in the first place.

But more and more, it appears that coupling anti-Howard/anti-Americanism is the only way for Irf to distract us from the real and ugly truth of Islam. I mean, every time you criticize Howard, or China, or Mugabe, do you place them aside their immoral equivalence? E.g:

Mao killed a lot of people, but so has Bush;

Mao stuffed up the economy, but so did John Cain;

Mao had a harem of young girls to fulfil his sexual needs all the time, but so did Rolling Stone...

and the list goes on and on.

If Muslims can't be upfront and direct with criticism against themselves, as our government undergoes on a daily basis without Howard comparing his benign reign in Australia against the terrorist organization Hamas, why couldn't thi article have been a goold ol' fashioned condemnation of fundamentalist Islam who interpret the Koran literally in this day and age?

>> You talk about comparing illegality of immigration to someone returning to their country after leaving their religion.

No. I'm talking about comparing illegal border entry with religious conversion being a crime suitable for the death penalty. One should be a crime, the other shouldn't.

>> I agree with you that it is inherently abhorrent to persecute someone because of their religion. But the fact is that it is illegal under Afghan law to abandon Islam.

I'm glad we agree it's abhorrent, but what's more abhorrent is that such law stems from sharia law - that is, the religion of Islam, which is currently trying to prove to the world it can peacefully co-exist with other religions (but let's just not think about the Taliban-blowing-up-the-Buddhist-statues-incident). Irfan evidently believes that the majority of Afghanistan's muslims, the same ones clamouring for Abdul to be put to death because of his Christian conversion, have got Islam all wrong. Because Irfan supposingly has special access to TrueIslam(TM). If so, why Irfan isn't an authoritative cleric with a bigger following than Abu Bakir Bashir or is simply beyond me.

>> In both cases, the law is an ass. And I say that anyone who supports Karzai or Howard is a donkey. They are just as bad as each other.

That has to be the biggest, saddest joke of the day. To say that Howard is immorally equivalent to a religion and country that tried to kill a convert shows how your anti-Howard sentiments have destroyed any actual ability of judgement. We feed, clothe and shelter refugees in conditions that would have some Aborigines eyeing with envy. Yet you want to compare a period of detention of 7 years after a prima facie act of illegality with a death penalty against a religious convert that is sanctioned by both the religion and the law?

I think I'm quite done wasting my time on the irrational likes of you.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 10:27, what is really abhorrent is your attempt to claim that all 1.2 billion Muslims agree with Ossama bin ladin or the Afghan judge.

Face it. Your stupid pathetic pseudo-conservative govt placed in power a corrupt restauranteur from Washington who is too gutless to face the Mullahs.

Irf, on the other hand, is prepared to attack the Mullahs and say they are wrong. And he's prepared to do it on the internet and in mainstream newspapers.

When was the last time you criticised anyone from your stupid pseudo-conservative religion?

When was the last time you visited a detention centre and seen the misery in the eyes of people who are in jail thanks to your stupid laws that have so much respect for human rights that they will jail people without charge?

Have you ever wondered why we bombed the Taliban and at the same time jailed those who fled the Taliban? Or why we overthrew Saddam and yet placed Iraqi asylum seekers behind bars?

Where is the logic? Where is the reason?

Irf has argued cogently here that the religion you love to hate and want to see wiped off the face of the earth doesn't support trhe detention and execution of Abdul Rahman. Yet you continue to insist that Islam supports this. Why? Is it because you want to believe that Ossama bin ladin is right?

If you want to be a disciple of Ossama bin Ladin, that is your problem.

Irfan said...

I notice someone here is claiming that Hamid Karzai's hand-picked judges are a reflection of mainstream Islamic theology.

That's a bit like saying the Branch Davidians represent Christianity.

And stop calling him Ossama bin ladin. His real name is Ossama bin Reagan.

Anonymous said...

>>Anonymous @ 10:27, what is really abhorrent is your attempt to claim that all 1.2 billion Muslims agree with Ossama bin ladin or the Afghan judge.

Actually, I've never said that. I've consistently said "the majority of Afghans". Afghanistan is an Islamic country that practices sharia law. Such law has asked a man be killed for religious conversion.

It is the state of Islam, the religion, itself, which is shocking and abhorrent.

Yes, even more shocking and abhorrent than detaining refugees for a few years.

>>Irf, on the other hand, is prepared to attack the Mullahs and say they are wrong. And he's prepared to do it on the internet and in mainstream newspapers.

Irf's so-called attack is to parade his own version of sharia-law against the more widely accepted establishment in Afghanistan and to flog the dead horse of western human rights abuses in order to white-wash the reality of sharia law in action.

And you completely fell for it. Notice how you've ranted more about Howard's refugee policy than the appalling situation of a man facing death penalty for a certain belief?

>>When was the last time you criticised anyone from your stupid pseudo-conservative religion?

What part of atheism do you not understand, mate? And what has western self-critique got anything to do with criticizing the religious intolerance of Islam, as was demonstrated so poignantly in Abdul's case?

Fact of the matter is - we see criticism of Howard and Bush every day in the media. What we don't see is Irf's type of critiques on how Howard compares to the likes of Hamas and Mugabe and Stalin and Mao.

We don't do that, because that'd actually make Howard look like a decent human being.

>>When was the last time you visited a detention centre and seen the misery in the eyes of people who are in jail thanks to your stupid laws that have so much respect for human rights that they will jail people without charge?

Mate, they're alive and not charged with the death penalty for illegally entering our country.

You still can't see the difference.

Perhaps you think both detention of illegal migrants and death penalty for religious convert are both wrong, but try and appreciate there are a myriad degrees of 'wrong'. You've lost all credibility by equating Howard to those barbaric mongrels that want a Christian convert torn apart.

>>Irf has argued cogently here that the religion you love to hate and want to see wiped off the face of the earth doesn't support trhe detention and execution of Abdul Rahman. Yet you continue to insist that Islam supports this. Why? Is it because you want to believe that Ossama bin ladin is right?

Because Irf is cherry picking the parts of the Koran that he likes, which support his view, just as moderate Christians do when they're accepting of gays after god specifically nuked a city for housing a pair (and let's not forget to mention godhatesfags.com). The undeniable fact is that the judge himself quoted the Mohammed's orders to kill apostates. What cannot be denied is that the majority of Afghan citizens also share the same view and claim they are practicing Islam and sharia law.

Not surprisingly, because Islam is such a religion of peace and tolerance, Abdul is now in hiding and in fear for his life.

Irf can have his theories. I'm looking at the realities.

>>I notice someone here is claiming that Hamid Karzai's hand-picked judges are a reflection of mainstream Islamic theology.

The people who've supported Abdul's death sentence tout themselves as 'moderates'. Peace and tolerance has been defined as giving the man a chance to reconvert or face death. The number of passages in the Koran and Haddith raging for death and destruction to non-believers and apostates outnumber "no religious compulsion" verses.

I'm always glad there are 'moderates' like Irf who take a stand against these so-called moderates. What Irf can't alter is the fact that people clamouring for Abdul's death have just as much authority in the Koran to do so. Just as gay-bashing Christians say they have authority to do so from the Bible.

That's the real problem here.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 10:22am. Should I argue that the common law is inherently disrespectful toward human rights and international law just because Australia (one common law jurisdiction) allows mandatory detention?

After all, Australia has just as much authority in the common law as other countries like NZ that don't enforce such inherently offensive forms of detention.

So what if mad mullahs claim authority in the Quran or gay bashers claim authority in the Bible? What does that prove about these scriptures?

And how would you know if the Afghan position on this is universally held by all 1.2 billion Muslims? Have you done any research on the matter? Can you produce any demographic studies?

Perhaps your real hostility is not toward Muslim extremists. Perhaps it is toward religion in general.

Anonymous said...

You still spent half your post dedicated to refugees. Our detention policy pales in comparison to threatening to execute a man for his religious belief.

>>So what if mad mullahs claim authority in the Quran or gay bashers claim authority in the Bible?

That was in response to you claiming Irf had 'cogently argued' that Islam does not sanction the death penalty against religious converts.

Use your noggin for once and think about the implications. Mad mullahs claim authority from the Koran. Irf claims the authority from the Koran for two completely different points of view. The same with the bible.

To me, it suggests a lack of divinity, and that people can fashion morals for themselves these days without the aid of books written by a barbaric civilization that goads people to tear apart others with different beliefs.

>>And how would you know if the Afghan position on this is universally held by all 1.2 billion Muslims?

Should I even deign to respond to such a ludicrous and unfounded accusation? You've sunk to misrepresenting and fabricating ideas just to be able to make your point.

The Western media has finally caught up with the oppression and abuses as perpetrated in the Muslim nations. So bad and appalling is the situation that Theo Van Gough had to be killed so he couldn't finish his documentary on how women are treated in Islam. These fundamentalist views are held by all 1.2 billion Muslims, but they sure are held by enough of them, compounded by the unfortunate reality that Muslims are encouraged to interpret the Koran literally.

>>Perhaps your real hostility is not toward Muslim extremists. Perhaps it is toward religion in general.

No mate. My hostility is just towards barbaric neanderthals who would want to tear to pieces a man with different beliefs, and at the same time, claim that theirs is a religion of peace and tolerance.

Irfan said...

Anonymous @ 2:34pm, if your beef is with Muslims who read the Koran literally and then use it as a reason to blow others to bits, I would have to say I agree with you.

But if your claim is that islam is inherently violent and murderous then I think the onus is on you to prove it.

There are approx 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet. If each of these people so much as lit a match, a fair chunk of the planet would be burnt to smithereens. If each of these people were suicide bombers, I'd suggest the damage they could collectively cause is comparable to quite a few nuclear weapons.

I think the onus is on you to clarify exactly where you stand. if you think Islam is a violent and genocidal faith, you need to prove it. One reference to Theo Van Gogh won't be enough, I'm afraid.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Hi Irf,

I have a few simple questions for you, a moderate Muslim:

1. Do you believe that freedom of religion is a basic human right anywhere in the world?
2. Do you believe that all apostasy laws in Muslim countries should be revoked (and indeed in non-Muslim societies as well where they exist)?
3. Should Churches be allowed to be built in Mecca?

A simple yes, no, maybe would address my curiosity.

Many thanks,

Jack

Irfan said...

Jack,

I am curious to understand what you mean by "a moderate Muslim".

And on what basis would you suggest that I am a "moderate" Muslim?

And how would you differentiate a "moderate" Muslim from any other kind of Muslim?

Indeed, what categories of Muslim do you think exist?

I don't demand yes or no answers as I don't think I have any right to limit how you wish to express yourself.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't consider the Afghan clerics cited in recent news stories as "moderate", and you appear to have disagreements with them as well.

How about moderate Muslim = mainstream Australian Muslim? Are you offended by that?

I wasn't demanding anything. I have chosen questions which I think are key to the current debate. I suggested yes no and maybe, because I didn't want you spending three hours of your time writing a response.

I'm asking you because you clearly see yourself as some sort of bridge or halfway man between the Muslim and non-Muslim world.

So how about an answer. I thank you for your time, and please answer in anyway you see fit.

Anonymous said...

Or how about if I characterise you as a well educated individual who is in a good position to know the general attitudes of mainstream Muslim Australians? What do you think the answers of mainstream Muslims to my questions would be?

I don't really want to be balked by semantics here.

Jack

The Global Silk Road said...

I feel I have to comment again.

I wish to make two points:-

1) As I understand the language of the Koran as reported in this correspondence it say that the apostate, "will put himself to death" not that anyone else will.

Being of the book but not a Muslim but having read the Koran in English my understanding is that when a non-muslim faces our God he should do so in some fear if he has not accepted God's Holy word in the Koran- but yet God if not man, is merciful even to Muslims.

Also when what Jews and Christians call the Day of Judgment comes he can not expect God's mercy and everlasting life but again God is infinite in his mercy and he, we Christians believe, has within himself the gift of grace.

However in each case a mans actions are his choice, his alone and any retiribution as I understand it is entirely in the hands of God who is the only person knowing what is in every man's soul.

Intervention by an other in the relationship between a man and his God is not permitted. Even prosletizing is, I understand, not part of the Islamic Way to God. So why would God wish those who choose not to come that Way to be punished for making that choice by people other than himself?

2. Morality and practical politics come together here in yet an other way. If one says one stands for the rule of law and generally accepted social standards then those laws and those rules have to apply to oneself. This was we the British's hard one lesson in Northern Ireland. i would not claim we had total success but we never ever denied that police officers soldiers and other representatives of the states authority were exempted from the law. You can never ever succeed if the standards you apply to your enemy in terms of acceptable behaviour do not also apply to yourself. In this sense if Gauntanomo Bay does not go a way how can we fight for liberal democracy and the rule of law. If Jihad is War and I have my doubts on that one then Bush is right to declare war in return and then those incarcerated are POWs not prisoners to be put at the bar and the law is gernally accepted as different of the one from the other. If Jihad is struggle and effort then those involved should be put at the bar if it is War then the existance if not the practices of Guantanomo Bay can not be but lawful.

The Global Silk Road

Anonymous said...

Irfan, i think you are the most open minded and realist thinker in Australia. Your philosophy really does make sense.

Why dont you put pen to paper and start writing some books mate? C'mon, in this day and age we need thinkers like you. Soon you would be known as Irfan D'Montesquyusuf.

Keep the blog running mate.

Irfan said...

Apologies to Jack for not answering the questions sooner. I think it is best if I address each question as a separate treatise. I will hopefully get to address each one in the context of citizenship.