Saturday, March 10, 2007

OPINION: On averting another European Holocaust ...

OVER the weekend, 360 Australians of all ages and faiths from across the country gathered at Old Parliament House for a deliberative poll on relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in Australia. They heard from a panel of speakers, including Cardinal George Pell, columnist Janet Albrechtsen, lawyer Waleed Aly and journalist Nadia Jamal.

Twenty years ago, such a conference would have been unthinkable. Muslims weren't regarded then as a monolithic entity. Today's dangerous jihadists were bankrolled by the US to fight communism. Saddam Hussein was provided with WMD, including chemical and biological weapons, by the West to use on Iran.

Now, Muslims are no longer regarded a complex phenomenon but a giant blob of monolithic cancer ready to engulf the planet.

The weekend's deliberative poll saw Australia First Party representative Denis McCormack cast aspersions on the Jewish heritage of another speaker, claiming she was part of a multiculturalist cabal. He was rightly condemned by the audience.

The same audience was almost silent when Pastor Daniel Scott told delegates that all Muslims represented a threat to Australia and that Muslim spokespeople were deliberately sugar-coating their message to hide the violent reality of their intentions.

This kind of conspiratorial thinking can also be found in the latest book of British tabloid columnist Melanie Phillips entitled Londonistan: How Britain is Creating a Terror State Within. Phillips recently concluded a short Australian tour to promote the book she describes as

an attempt to piece together this complex jigsaw puzzle, the deadly fusion of an aggressive ideology and a society that has lost its way.


Phillips argues the British elite have wrongfully abandoned the dominant Judeo-Christian monocultural heritage in favour of a rampant multiculturalism that bends over backwards for ethnic, religious and even sexual minorities. This has allowed jihadi Islamism and Muslim “clerical fascism” to infiltrate British society, manifesting itself in the London bombings of July 7, 2005.

Phillips suggests jihadi Islamism has become today the “dominant strain” within the Muslim world, as well as in Western Muslim communities. This absurd claim contrasts with the enormous variety of religion practised by nominal Muslims across the planet. Hence, Javanese Muslims have culturally and linguistically more in common with Balinese Hindus than with Bosnian Muslims, who have more in common with Serbian Orthodox or Croatian Catholics.

Indeed, Phillips' insistence of “minorities accepting the terms on which minorities must relate to the majority culture in a liberal democracy” would have little application in the new European states, many of which are comprised completely of minorities.

In 1992, the people of the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina voted in favour of independence. Bosnia was to be a multi-ethnic and multireligious state consisting of a number of religious minorities, including Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Jews.

Within months of independence, the country was plunged into a war characterised by genocide, concentration camps, ethnic cleansing and mass rape. Some 100,000 Bosnians (mainly Muslims) were killed and more than a million were displaced. The International Court of Justice recently ruled that genocide occurred in Bosnia.

Today, Canberra plays host to two senior religious figures who witnessed much of the carnage. Dr Mustafa Ceric is Reis al-Ulama (chairman of the Council of Religious Scholars) for Bosnia- Herzegovina. He is also mufti of Croatia, Slovenia and the Sanjak region bordering Serbia and Montenegro. Ceric is accompanied by the mufti of the Bosnian city of Mostar.

Ceric also sees a crisis of values engulfing Europe. He warns Europeans not to become complacent about sectarian hatred. He told BBC at the weekend that Europe promised “never again” after the Holocaust, only to sit back and watch as genocide was perpetrated against Muslims in his nation.

I wish that Islamaphobia that is now [in place] in Europe and in the West will not result in a Muslim Holocaust. Europe must start speaking with Muslims and hear what they have to say and help them to make their place in society that is responsible, respectable and future- looking.


Ceric says Muslims in Europe also have a role to play, that Muslim migrants must stop behaving like tribal entities and adopt European values like democracy and pluralism.

If the Muslims do not accept the fact that they have to learn about democracy not only within the larger context of the European community but within their own community... then I think the Muslims will be in a position to fear what will happen in their future.


Ceric singles out the United States and Australia for praise as nations more accepting of migrants than Europe. Ceric speaks from experience, having completed his PhD and acted as imam of a major Chicago mosque.

Ceric personifies indigenous European Islam whose culture and values have sat comfortably (apart from the occasional externally imposed genocide) within Europe for centuries. Melanie Phillips, on the other hand, personifies the type of sectarian paranoia and hysteria that for centuries poisoned relations between European Christians and Jews and now threatens to use the pretext of cultic jihadi extremism to poison relations between the West and the rest.

Irfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer and writer. This article was first published in the Canberra Times on 7 March 2007.

© Irfan Yusuf 2007


Get Flocked

23 comments:

Peter said...

Irf,

Islam has always been more moderate and sycretic on its periphery, where it comes into contact with other faiths and civilisations. For that reason, I disagree with Huntington's assessment that "Islam has bloody borders".

In fact, the Muslims on the periphery of the caliphate have generally been good neighbours. The Moors, the Malays, the European Muslims (at least since the start of the decline of the Ottoman empire), 'old' India of the Mughals and the Raj, the Muslims of the 'Silk Road', even the Ismaili Egyptians with a multiculturalism enforced upon them by unique trade route location.

The problem is - and has been since the rise of Wahibbism - the Saudis and their fellow extremists. A monoculture breeds an every-more-intense monoculture.

That's the problem and you are sensible enought to realise it. I've never yet heard you state what YOU think is the solution to Muslim Brotherhoodist extremism in the core countries of the Middle East.

What if Israel was liquidated? Would that bring a wave of moderation and, dare I say it, modernity? If not, what?

What do Muslims want?

Anonymous said...

Muslims want to be persecuted and they want supreme victim-hood

Irfan Yusuf said...

Peter, why do you say Muslims only had dealings with non-Muslims on the periphery? Was Ottoman Europe really on the periphery? Was Mughal India really on the periphery?

And what on earth is the "Muslim Brotherhoodist extremism"?

And why do you suggest all Muslims would want the same thing?

Anon@9:50pm, shall I reveal your true identity? Shall I post your IP address?

Peter said...

>Why do you say Muslims only had dealings with non-Muslims on the periphery?

I didn't. I said that the more moderate and synrectic forms of Islam were found on the periphery, because that was where there was the greatest interaction between Mulsims and non-Muslims occurred. And that was why I also included Egypt which, although at the heart of the Islamic world was the trade crossroads of the world.

>Was Ottoman Europe really on the periphery?

Yes, it was. But I make the distinction that it was only after the empire stabilised and moved into retreat from it militarist expansion that 'European Islam' formed as a moderate reaction to its interactions with Orthodox and Catholic peoples.

>Was Mughal India really on the periphery?

Absolutely - it had to deal with Buddhists and Hindus. Again, it was a trade centre and it had a massive 'internal' empire of Hindus to deal with. Interaction with others, leads to moderation - and isolation (eg. Saudi Arabia) leads to a monoculture of extremism.

>And what on earth is the "Muslim Brotherhoodist extremism"?

The Muslim Brotherhood is a world-wide Sunni Islamist movement, dedicated to the credo: "God is our objective, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way..." The Muslim Brotherhood officially seeks to Islamicise targeted Muslim majority nations and install in stages an Islamic Caliphate across the Muslim world. It officially opposes unlawful means but has been accused of a campaign of killings in Egypt, and is represented by Hamas in Palestine, so you might wonder...

Among its members were the Egyptian brothers Muhammad Qutb and Sayyid Qutb. Sayyid is author of one of the Brotherhood’s most important tracts, 'Milestones', calling for offensive jihad to restore Islam by eliminating what he believed to be the un-Islamic governments of the Muslim world, and re-establishing Sharia law.

The Muslim Brotherhood advocates the creation of Islamic governments eventually unified in Caliphate, believing that God has set out a perfect way of life and social and political organization in the Quran and Sunna. Their goal as stated by Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna was to reclaim Islam’s manifest destiny, an empire, stretched from Spain to Indonesia.

It expresses its interpretation of Islam through a strict religious approach to social issues such as the role of women where its founder called for "a campaign against ostentation in dress and loose behavior," "segregation of male and female students" and a separate curricula for girl, and "the prohibition of dancing and other such pastimes..."

Sounds, pretty extremist to me. Even Muslim apologists in the West like Karen Armstrong have made the point that the radicalism we see today stems from the ideology (or rather outgrowths from the ideology) first espoused by the Brotherhood. What do you think, Irf? Is banning dancing and mixed-sex classes 'moderate'?

>And why do you suggest all Muslims would want the same thing?

Rhetorical flourish ;-) It's like asking what all women or all Christians want. All I want is the Brumbies to win the Super 14.

But it is still a valid question for individuals. I think you're sensible Irf. But I want to ask you: "Is the Gate of Ijtihad Closed?" I don't think that you believe it is, but I'd like to hear it from your own mouth.

Irfan Yusuf said...

Peter, for you to suggest that the ottomans and the Mughals were on the periphery of the Muslim world of their time is a bit like me suggesting New York and London are on the periphery of the West.

Do you know how many non-Muslims lived in the Middle East? OK, I admit that the Catholic Crusaders did massacre alot of Jews and Orthodox Christians along the way. But notwithstanding their best efforts, a fair few still survived.

To claim that multicultural and multi-religious cities must necessarily be on the periphary of a dominant civilisation shows an unusual level of ignorance of how civilisations work.

Delhi, Damascus, Istanbul and Baghdad of that time were like Sydney, New York and London today. They were economic, political, educational and cultural powerhouses that attracted people from all different parts of the world.

In relation to the Brotherhood, are you aware of the numerous factions that now compose the Brotherhood? Which faction do you object to?

And do tell how you understand the term "ijtihad".

Peter said...

>Do you know how many non-Muslims lived in the Middle East?

Lots, probably. But how many Christian churches or Ba'hai Temples, or Jewish Mosques are there in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia TODAY, Irf?

>To claim that multicultural and multi-religious cities must necessarily be on the periphary of a dominant civilisation shows an unusual level of ignorance of how civilisations work.

That is not what I claimed, and you know it. I said that Islam was moderate and syncretic where it comes into contact with other civilisations and religions. Both the Mughals and Ottomans had extensive internal non-Muslim minorities (majorities in the case of India) and VERY extended borders with non-Muslims.

Unlike the Saudis, who have fellow Muslims to the north, south, east and west and no significant internal minorities. Monocultures breed extremism.

>Delhi, Damascus, Istanbul and Baghdad ... were economic, political, educational and cultural powerhouses that attracted people from all different parts of the world.

So what happened? Somebody closed the gates to ijtihad.

>In relation to the Brotherhood, (a) are you aware of the numerous factions that now compose the Brotherhood? (b) Which faction do you object to?

(a) I'm not surprised.

(b) I object to any faction which preaches the subordination of women and the establishment of an exclusivist Muslim Caliphate from the Iberian Peninsular to New Guinea, where the only option for non-Muslims is dhimmitude. Which faction do you support, Irf?

>And do tell how you understand the term "ijtihad".

My understanding is that it was a mode of philosophical inquiry which drew on philosophy and theology from both Muslim and non-Muslims sources to explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything.

It was slandered into silence by small-minded bigots who believed that it was blasphemous (which it was not) and that all that mattered was the application of the Koran and Hadiths, not their interpretation.

For the critics, EVERYTHING could be explained by the direct intervention of God on every occurence in everyday life - it was the absolutism of "Insha'Allah!"

Again, I'm no great Islamic scholar, and my reading on this comes from Armstrong and others.

Irfan Yusuf said...

=> "I said that Islam was moderate and syncretic where it comes into contact with other civilisations and religions."

Peter, you might not be aware that Islam has been described by many religious jurists as "a clear spring with no colour, shape or odour of its own and which adopts the colour, shape and odour of wherever it spreads".

In other words, Islam has no inherent cultural features of its own. Rather, it is a combination of beliefs, ethics and sacred law. The Islamic sacred law takes different forms depending on where it is. Sharia has internal rules determining the extent of its own jurisdiction depending on where it is practised.

Hence, in Australia, sharia has very limited jurisdiction in virtually all matters covered by Australian law. It certainly has no jurisdiction in criminal law.

Many persons of Christian background do not understand this aspect of sacred law because they come from a religious background which has no sacred law. Paul nailed the Mosaic law to the Cross.

=> "But how many Christian churches or Ba'hai Temples, or Jewish Mosques are there in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia TODAY, Irf?"

Peter, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has its own laws. Believe it or not, KSA is much less than 1,400 years old. I don't regard KSA as a precedent for anything except what happens when you follow strange interpretations of any religion.

I'm sure, Peter, you will have to agree that a tiny proportion of Muslims follow the Wahhabi sect. If you don't, tell us what proportion of Muslims are Wahhabis and how you came to this figure.

=> "Unlike the Saudis, who have fellow Muslims to the north, south, east and west and no significant internal minorities. Monocultures breed extremism."

So which Monocultural Islamist party rules Syria? Are you suggesting that the Alawites, Suriyani Christians and Armenians who form the ruling class of Syria are mainstream Muslims?

And are you suggesting that the Muslim Brotherhood cadres that were massacred in Hama in the 1980's were members of a Jewish religious minority group?

=> "My understanding is that it was a mode of philosophical inquiry which drew on philosophy and theology from both Muslim and non-Muslims sources to explain the meaning of life, the universe and everything."

Well, you are plain wrong. The technical meaning of ijtihad is that it is the methodology used by religious jurists to deduce and extract rules where no clear textual ruling can be extracted and where no analogy can be used from an existing ruling.

Ijtihad is not a philosophical notion. It is a purely legal concept.

When Muslim religious jurists talk about 'closing the doors of ijtihad', they refer to a response by jurists during the time of the Mongol invasion. At the time, only four schools of law existed in their full form in central asia and the middle east. Jurists decided that with the level of slaughter and genocide going on at the hands of the Mongols, Muslims had a hard time just surviving let alone handling juristic controversies.

It's said that when the Mongols entered Baghdad, Muslim jurists were arguing over some hypothetical problem juristic issue concerning water used for ritual purification. Hardly a priority when your city is about to be invaded!

For Muslims living in the West, ijtihad is a necessity. The challenge is to find imams with sufficient degree of expertise in BOTH sharia law AND Western law/culture/etc to be able to carry out this task.

Australian imams are not, by and large, equipped for this task because they don't have sufficient training in Islamic sacred law AND they lack the linguistic and cultural skills and affinity and knowledge of the laws of the countries in which they are situated.

Peter said...

>In other words, Islam has no inherent cultural features of its own. Rather, it is a combination of beliefs, ethics and sacred law. The Islamic sacred law takes different forms depending on where it is.

Agreed, but it does not deny my fundamental point that where Islamic civilisation has to interact with non-Islamic civilisations it is more moderate and syncretic. Actually, it acknowledges my point.

>Sharia has internal rules determining the extent of its own jurisdiction depending on where it is practised. Hence, in Australia, sharia has very limited jurisdiction in virtually all matters covered by Australian law. It certainly has no jurisdiction in criminal law.

But do Aussie Mozzies seek to change that? Do they seek a society where we are all Muslims and all operating under Sharia Law?


>I don't regard KSA as a precedent for anything except what happens when you follow strange interpretations of any religion.

Well, we agree on that point. But the Exclusive Bretheren aren't sitting on billions of dollars worth of oil, aren't funding new religious schools around the world preaching Fundamentalism and aren't the breeding ground of a network of Christian terrorists.

>I'm sure, Peter, you will have to agree that a tiny proportion of Muslims follow the Wahhabi sect.

True, but money, power and influence matter. Today's minority is tomorrow's majority, especially if they can use that money to indoctrinate a new generation of Muslims in extremism. Look at what just happened in Newcastle in the last week, when the Wahhabists have taken over the Mosque!

>Are you suggesting that the Alawites, Suriyani Christians and Armenians who form the ruling class of Syria are mainstream Muslims?

Syria, as you know, is one of the last refuges of secular, Socialist, pan-Arabism. It too is under threat from extremist ideology, but offers opportunistic support to those who hate Israel and the West.

>Well, you are plain wrong. The technical meaning of ijtihad is that it is the methodology used by religious jurists to deduce and extract rules where no clear textual ruling can be extracted and where no analogy can be used from an existing ruling. Ijtihad is not a philosophical notion. It is a purely legal concept.

Well, I re-checked my sources and I am not wrong in substance, even if I explained it a little glibly. Ijtihad was voluably rejected by al-Ghazali and his supporters in his attack on the falasifa - a group of philosopers who used neo-Hellenic concepts to look at the nature of the world that they lived in.

Al-Ghazali considered it wasteful and heretical to contemplate any issue of natural laws because EVERYTHING could be explained by the direct intervention of God or His angels. Read Problem 17 in the Incoherence of Philosphers if you don't believe me.

It's a backward, anti-scientific, uncritical worldview that all writers on the history of Islam maintain became the dominant strain. The fact that people like yourself and Irshad Manji must fight for a return to personal ijtihad today shows that you are not in the mainstream.

>When Muslim religious jurists talk about 'closing the doors of ijtihad', they refer to a response by jurists during the time of the Mongol invasion.

Not true. al-Ghazali wrote 200 years before the Mongol invasion.

>For Muslims living in the West, ijtihad is a necessity.

But not in existing Muslim countries? Why not? Why is there no need for independent thought and inquiry there? Is unchaning Sharia the ultimate mode of human existence?

Irf, you are my old mate - and I mean that sincerely.

But I want to know this: when the worldwide Caliphate comes to Australia, spurred on by Wahabbist absolutism, will I, as a Christian, have any option other than death, conversion or dhimmitude?

Will you, as a Muslim legal jurist, defend me?

Will you, yourself, be looked on as an heretic and apostate?

Irfan Yusuf said...

"it does not deny my fundamental point that where Islamic civilisation has to interact with non-Islamic civilisations it is more moderate and syncretic."

=> Is this a phenomenon limited to the so-called singular monolithic Islamic civilisation? Or were the Crusaders a lovely bunch of lads before they were discovered personal hygeine in the Middle East?

"do Aussie Mozzies seek to change that? Do they seek a society where we are all Muslims and all operating under Sharia Law?"

=> I cannot speak for all Muslims. You will have to do your own research on that one.

=> I do know that a huge proportion of Muslim asylum seekers have come to Australia to avoid Taliban rule. Naturally they must have felt somewhat disappointed when they were thrown in detention centres thanks to Australia's own conservative political Taliban.

=> Why stop at sharia? Why not ask yourself why it is that Cardinal Pell thinks a divorce from the Family Court isn't good enough for Catholics? Why must they make a special application to a Catholic tribunal to have their marriage "annulled"? Why should Jewish women have to go to the Bet Din or some other religious institution?

=> If you are determined to believe that sharia is purely a system of amputations without anaesthetic, there's not muh I can do to assist you except to recommend that if pain persists you should see your doctor without delay.

"But the Exclusive Bretheren aren't sitting on billions of dollars worth of oil, aren't funding new religious schools around the world preaching Fundamentalism and aren't the breeding ground of a network of Christian terrorists."

=> I don't think they are breeding terrorists. But they are breeding a network of people who regard themselves above the law and believe they can break the law with impunity.

=> On the other hand, we see Christian fundamentalists like Fred Nile and Danny Nalliah accusing 300,000 Muslims of being a danger to national security. They also have called for the Christian right to take over Australian politics and are actively working toward this goal.

"Well, I re-checked my sources and I am not wrong in substance, even if I explained it a little glibly."

=> Before we discuss this further, please advise what books, brochures and/or websites you are using as your source.

"Al-Ghazali considered it wasteful and heretical to contemplate any issue of natural laws because EVERYTHING could be explained by the direct intervention of God or His angels. Read Problem 17 in the Incoherence of Philosphers if you don't believe me."

=> And how is this relevant to how Muslim jurists derive rules for the purposes of sharia? The work you have cited is one of philosophical polemics. It is not a work of jurisprudence.

=> Further, al-Ghazali was not the last word on philosophy. You might consider that the Spanish jurist Ibn Rushd wrote a refutation of Ghazali's "Tahafut al-Falasifa" (Refutation of the Philosophers".

"It's a backward, anti-scientific, uncritical worldview that all writers on the history of Islam maintain became the dominant strain."

=> Which writers? Name them.

"Irf, you are my old mate - and I mean that sincerely."

=> I have no idea who you are. I've never met you.

Peter said...

>Is this a phenomenon limited to the so-called singular monolithic Islamic civilisation?

No - as I CLEARLY said, monocultures breed extremists.

>I cannot speak for all Muslims.

Then speak for yourself - do you want Sharia Law in Australia as the primary legal code for all Australians?

>Australia's own conservative political Taliban.

I don't recall Howard et al stoning women to death, banning girls from schooling, outlawing sport and dancing, banning TV and radio, eliminating representational art and destroying great historical treasures. Vicious hyperbole is most unlike you Irf, and you do know better.

Indeed, the only Australian Taliban I know of are Hicks and Habib.

> Why not ask yourself why it is that Cardinal Pell thinks a divorce from the Family Court isn't good enough for Catholics?

Do the Catholics seek a theocracy? Do they demand conversions at the point of a sword? They crash planes into buildings?

How many mosques are there in Rome or London? How many Christian churches in Mecca or Medina?

>If you are determined to believe that sharia is purely a system of amputations without anaesthetic...

Now who's being glib? No feeling for those who are stoned to death or have their faces disfigured or their throats cut for the sake of local interpretations of Sharia Law?

>But the Bretheren are breeding a network of people who regard themselves above the law and believe they can break the law with impunity.

What's you basis for this assertion? Because they don't want to vote? religious exemption is legal under the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

>And how is this relevant to how Muslim jurists derive rules for the purposes of sharia? The work you have cited is one of philosophical polemics. It is not a work of jurisprudence.

Al-Ghazali denied the legitimacy of philosophy, meaning that the only option for future discussion of Islamic life could be on the application of the Koran and Hadiths. It was only a philosophical tract in that is denied all philosophy, in favour of a narrow literalist jurisprudence.

> Which writers? Name them.

Armstong and Esposito.

You deny the importance of al-Ghazali. His official website says:

"al-Ghazali is one of the greatest Islamic Jurists, theologians and mystical thinkers. ... As the intellectual head of the Islamic community, he was busy lecturing on Islamic jurisprudence at the College, and also refuting heresies and responding to questions from all segments of the community. ... Islamic philosophy did not long survive al-Ghazali’s criticism...

>I have no idea who you are. I've never met you.

Yes you have, in the YLs.

Irfan Yusuf said...

Before I go further, is this the Peter who works in Canberra and used to work in the unner west?

Irfan Yusuf said...

woops, that should be inner west.

Anonymous said...

Peter Phelps = Chewbacca with a doctorate stuffed up his bum

Peter said...

Yes, it is I - today I work in the Ummah West. Just a joke, Irf, just a joke! Smile, mate!

Who else could give you a run for your money in a friendly debate?

BTW, you are very keen to attack the Libs and Christian Dems, but I notice that you are silent on Greg Best, the Independent in Wyong that wrote: "Migration laws Tightened. Zero tolerance for Muslim extremists. As a Christian nation we support Australian values"

Or what about the LABOR candidate for Davidson who wrote: "Doug joined the Labor Party because he believes in a free, equal and open society. He is particularly concerned with human rights issues and is appalled by the controversial 'Catch the Fire' case in Victoria which he sees as a backward step for the rule of law".

Do why always bag the conservative side of politics? What about these dudes?

Irfan Yusuf said...

Anon @ 931, that is no way to speak of a great Australian thesbian. I would have thought you'd have had more respect for our film industry ...

Peter said...

Anon @ 931 - I thought Cewbacca was somebody ENTRIELY different, according to John Hyde-Page...

By the way, is "stuffed up his bum" your attempt at (markedly homopobic) criticism of me? Poor boy. Get a life.

Irfan Yusuf said...

"Indeed, the only Australian Taliban I know of are Hicks and Habib."

=> I never knew Mamdouh Habib ever joined the Taliban. Do you have any evidence to support this? Or is this a case of what you describe as 'vicious hyperbole'?

"Do the Catholics seek a theocracy?"

=> Have you dissociated yourself from a certain MLC and NSW power-broker? How will you win that covetted Upper House position?

"Do they demand conversions at the point of a sword?"

=> Not anymore. I think they stopped that some decades ago.

"crash planes into buildings?"

=> No, but quite a few of them happily enter planes and bomb civilians from a great height. And I somehow reckon that US and UK fighter pilots have killed more civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq than KSM could even dream of achieving on Sept 11. But I guess you would describe dead Muslims as "collateral damage".

"How many mosques are there in Rome or London? How many Christian churches in Mecca or Medina?"

=> I never knew London was a place exclusively devoted to pilgrimage for members of one faith. And when was the last time you heard of any Christian denomination seeking to build a church there?

=> When was the first mosque in Rome built? Or are you referring to a room in an embassy?

"Now who's being glib? No feeling for those who are stoned to death or have their faces disfigured or their throats cut for the sake of local interpretations of Sharia Law?"

=> No, I am being glib about what appear to be your imbecilic understandings of sharia. You live in Canberra. I suggest you sit down with a (Catholic) retired professor of Islamic studies at ANU. Find out what Professor Tony Johns has to say about sharia.

=> Seriously, if sharia was just a system of draconian criminal sanctions, how do you suppose Muslim civilisations reached such heights in India, Spain and other parts of the world?

"What's you basis for this assertion? Because they don't want to vote? religious exemption is legal under the Commonwealth Electoral Act."

=> No. Because like many of those with whom you share a certain religious label, their church actively covers up allegations of sexual abuse made against their leaders.

=> Further, they refuse to integrate and adopt Australian values. The man who I didn't vote for in the Bradfield Preselection even granted their schools an exemption from using computers.

=> The government which you work for and whose butt you are paid to cover is happy to lecture ordinary Muslim Aussies about integration, yet actively funds the Exclusive Brethren and similar denominations so that they can implement non-integration in their communities.

"Al-Ghazali denied the legitimacy of philosophy, meaning that the only option for future discussion of Islamic life could be on the application of the Koran and Hadiths. It was only a philosophical tract in that is denied all philosophy, in favour of a narrow literalist jurisprudence."

=> Are you suggesting that Imam Ghazali's attempted refutation of
Aristotelian philosophy as applied by the Mu'tazila school means that it is now religiously forbidden for all Muslims to dabble in philosophy?

=> Do you know who Ibn Rushd was? Do you know what his status was in Islamic jurisprudence?

Irfan Yusuf said...

"I never knew London was a place exclusively devoted to pilgrimage for members of one faith. And when was the last time you heard of any Christian denomination seeking to build a church there?"

The final word in the final sentence refers not to London but to Mecca and Madina.

Peter said...

>The final word in the final sentence refers not to London but to Mecca and Madina.

LOL. I thought that you'd gone all Melanie Phillips on me for a moment there!

Peter said...

>I never knew Mamdouh Habib ever joined the Taliban.

Good to see that you, albeit tacitly, admit that Hicks was a dedicated Taliban. Of course, poor ol' Habid was just over there selling Girl Scout cookies, wasn't he?

>I think they stopped that some decades ago.

Unlike forced conversions and forced circumcision of Christians in Ambon and the Celebes, which IS still going on.

>No, but quite a few of them happily enter planes and bomb civilians from a great height.

Anyone who can't see a difference bewteen DELIBERATELY setting out to kill civilians and ACCIDENTALLY killing civilians has no moral compass.

You're a lawyer Irf, what the difference between Murder and Manslaughter?

>How many Christian churches in Mecca or Medina?

OK, I'll rephrapse it: how many synagogues are there in Medina? Because you know full well that there was a large Jewish community there when the Mohammed fled there from Mecca.

And you know the Wahhabists would never allow another religion - even a religion of the Book - to have any presence there.


> When was the first mosque in Rome built?

http://uk.encarta.msn.com/media_1041500181_761556259_-1_1/Mosque_in_Rome.html

>Seriously, if sharia was just a system of draconian criminal sanctions, how do you suppose Muslim civilisations reached such heights in India, Spain and other parts of the world?

They mixed with other civilisations and learned moderation and tolerance from their daily interactions. Unlike the House of Saud and the Wahabbis.

>The government which you work for and whose butt you are paid to cover...

What is it with bottoms in this forum? :-)

> ...is happy to lecture ordinary Muslim Aussies about integration, yet actively funds the Exclusive Brethren and similar denominations so that they can implement non-integration in their communities.

When Brethern riot in the streets and preach world domination through violence, then we'll worry about them as a threat to our (yours and mine, Irf) society.

> Are you suggesting that Imam Ghazali's attempted refutation of
Aristotelian philosophy as applied by the Mu'tazila school means that it is now religiously forbidden for all Muslims to dabble in philosophy?

Ah, good, so YOU belive that the Gates aare open. HOORAY!

> Do you know who Ibn Rushd was? Do you know what his status was in Islamic jurisprudence?

I do. He was a great thinker. Pity his enlightenment is not more popular in a certain Middle East Kingdom.

Irfan Yusuf said...

"Good to see that you, albeit tacitly, admit that Hicks was a dedicated Taliban. Of course, poor ol' Habid was just over there selling Girl Scout cookies, wasn't he?"

=> How can I admit anything, Mr Phelps? I wasn't there when he was arrested. I prefer not to rely on rumour and innuendo. Many Westerners were in Afghanistan at the time. Some were aid workers. Otherws were volunteers working in various volunteer agencies. And yes, no doubt some were fighters.

=> I have no great love for Hicks or Habib. But unlike your bosses, I don't believe that we should fight al-Qaida by becoming al-Qaida. I don't believe we should fight terror with terror, throwing out established legal rules and traditions and keeping people locked up indefinitely and extracting confessions using torture.

=> Peter, do you think David Hicks should be locked up and tortured? Do you think it's acceptable that John Walker Lindh is tried by a civilian court while an Australian citizen is tried in a military court and kept in conditions where he is subjected to torture?

=> Yes, I've heard rumours about what Hicks and/or Habib may have been upto. Then again, I've also heard rumours about who Pauline Hanson was sleeping with in Canberra. Should I believe rumours? Or should I wait until facts have been established and evidence tested?

"Unlike forced conversions and forced circumcision of Christians in Ambon and the Celebes, which IS still going on."

=> Woops, I forgot about Indonesia. Yes, forced conversions of Muslims are going on in parts of Indonesia. The two communities are hacking each other to death, and it is very sad. Now in Sulawesi, a Muslim who beheaded a Christian girl has been found guilty and sentenced. Hopefully, when justice is being seen to be done in this manner, the healing can begin.

=> Have you heard of the Lord's Resistance Army? And what role did the Vatican and the Serbian Orthodox Church play in Bosnia? Did 60,000 Muslim women get gang-raped accidentally?

"Anyone who can't see a difference bewteen DELIBERATELY setting out to kill civilians and ACCIDENTALLY killing civilians has no moral compass."

=> Anyone who thinks it's OK to drop bombs on heavily populated civilian areas has no morality whatsoever. Anyone who thinks Abu Ghraib is acceptable has lost the plot. And anyone who still supports our involvement in Iraq should consider getting a staffer's job with the Howard government. Though I understand the job security isn't all that great ...

=> Peter, you know as well as I do that civilian areas were targetted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are you seriously suggesting the Yanks couldn't have knocked off Saddam without killing all those civilians?

=> Of course, I haven't even raised the issue of the sanctions that killed some 100,000 Iraqi infants each year. Babies dying of illnesses that your kids survive with you simply driving down to the chemist.

"OK, I'll rephrapse it: how many synagogues are there in Medina? Because you know full well that there was a large Jewish community there when the Mohammed fled there from Mecca."

=> Yes, there was a large Jewish community. There were two main Jewish tribes. Many adopted Islam, including Madina's chief rabbi Huseyn bin Salam. Others tore up the treaty of joint defense they entered into with him. Still others kept to Judaism and stayed loyal to their treaties.

"And you know the Wahhabists would never allow another religion - even a religion of the Book - to have any presence there."

=> Yes, and this partly explains why so few Muslims have adopted Wahhabism. We prefer to live in the real world, not in some religious sheltered workshop.

=> I suggest, Peter, that you abandon this line of argument. Effectively you are trying to suggest that I condone Saudi law that discriminates against followers of other faiths. You should no better than to make that suggestion. The fact is that many religious texts in my library, including works of Sunni law and Sufism, are banned in Saudi Arabia. Saudi official Islam discriminates against non-Wahhabi Muslims as much as it does against Christians and Jews.

"They mixed with other civilisations and learned moderation and tolerance from their daily interactions. Unlike the House of Saud and the Wahabbis."

=> So Peter, are you suggesting that, without interaction with other faiths and civilisations, Muslim sacred law consisted solely of criminal punishments? That it said nothing of family law, commercial law, estates and other matters?

"When Brethern riot in the streets and preach world domination through violence, then we'll worry about them as a threat to our (yours and mine, Irf) society."

=> Rioting? Who said rioting? Yes, there were young Lebanese Muslim men who rioted. But I wonder who started the rioting? Or was that 5,000 drunken stoned Albanians and Bosnians waving Aussie flags at Cronulla?

=> Or maybe you will repeat what Howard said? That the rioting was understandable because the Cronulla louts had "legitimate grievances"? That it's ok to bash up Bangladeshi overseas students in a car and a half-Afghan Aussie on a train just because you've heard rumours about the pinching of girl's bums and the bashing of life savers?

=> Forget the rule of law. Forget reporting the matter to the police. Let's just get pissed, send some text messages, ring up shock jocks and have a riot. And then justify it using "legitimate grievances".

=> How many Muslims in Australia openly preach world domination? I know some Algerian dude from Melbourne did. He's currently on trial, as are a number of his students. But compare the number of terror suspects to the number of Cronulla rioters.

=> Peter, tell us what you really think of the rioters. Do you think they were justified? Do you think that rumours represent legitimate grievances? Do you think that the best way to deal with crime is not to report it to the cops but to get really pissed and stoned and cause a riot of thousands?

"Ah, good, so YOU belive that the Gates aare open. HOORAY!"

=> It depends on how you define ijtihad. I'm not convinced you understand the technical legal meaning of the term.

=> In a legal sense, ijtihad is both open and closed. The basic methodology of extracting rules has been developed. There are four basic Sunni methodologies, and these have been used to settle most liturgical issues. There's no need to reinvent the wheel in matters such as the postures of prayer.

=> At the same time, Western Muslims are living in a unique situation which calls for new rulings and many new challenges facing them. To a large extent, the jurisdiction of the sacred law is limited.

=> However, under no circumstances are Muslims to undermine the basic institutions of the nations they live in and where they are free to practise their religion.

=> I was taught that in Islamic law, a citizenship pledge represents a binding promise. Hence, as a Muslim, I am duty-bound to maintain this promise. As such, the sacred law requires me to be loyal to Australia. The idea of any clash between loyalty to faith and to country doesn't arise. Loyalty to country is an imperative of the faith.

Peter said...

Irf, you are always good fun to have a debate with.

Anonymous said...

The only person who comes close to Irfan Yusuf in sheer baseless egomania is Peter Phelps. Even Irfan Yusuf would have got more votes in the Senate Pre-selection than Peter Phelps. It was interesting how Peter Phelps is so despised by every faction that each of them were prepared to do a deal to completely lock him out and that was without the gay sauna baggage. It must be hard for Peter Phelps when his genius goes unrecognized and when the Prime Minister himself did everything possible to see that Peter Phelps went nowhere. It really is a love match when two pariahs such as Peter Phelps and Irfan Yusuf have a two person mass debate about politics.