Fake News Headline #4: Jihad Merely Means “Striving to Become a Better Person”

The word “election” is a fairly common term in the American vocabulary, especially every four years during Presidential campaign seasons. Its basic meaning, of course, is “the act of choosing or selecting.” However, were you to ask what the term “election” means in the Bible, and a Christian were to answer you, “Oh, it simply means “choosing or selecting someone or something,” you would be right to think him/her rather disingenuous, because in the Bible the word has become a technical term, typically associated with the thoughts of predestination and the historical or eternal plans and purposes of God.

The situation is similar in Islam with the word “jihad,” which is commonly translated in the non-Muslim world as “holy war.” Muslim apologists regularly dispute this, declaring that the word itself literally means simply “effort or striving.” brennanMany are quick to point out a minor tradition in the Hadith collections where Muhammad, upon returning from battle with his troops, declares, “We have all returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.” His companions, confused, asked him, “What is the greater jihad, O Prophet of God?” His response: “Jihad against the desires.” As a result, Muslim apologists insist that the main meaning of jihad involves the spiritual battle against the baser lusts of human nature, in spite of the fact that Islamic scholars universally rate this particular story as “da’if,” meaning “weak” and therefore unreliable. On top of this is the overwhelming evidence in the Qur’an and Hadith and other early Islamic traditions that “jihad” principally is of the “lesser” variety.jihad

A simple investigation of these texts reveals that “jihad” is a technical term within Islam – most common meaning is “striving with whatever means available/necessary for the supremacy of Islam.” It has little to do with an internal spiritual battle in the heart for holiness, but is almost exclusively concerned with the advancement of Allah’s cause in the world.

As such, “jihad” is an expansive term. It does not only refer to the use of force to increase the sovereignty of Islamic control in the world. Muslims refer as well to the jihad of the mouth or the pen, i.e., the effort to persuade others of the supremacy of Islam through argument. This form of Muslim “evangelism” is spoken of as “da’wah,” which means literally “call or invitation,” and is the softest form of jihad – an effort to expand the supremacy of Islam by convincing others peacefully to join its ranks. But there are other forms of jihad as well: jihad of the hand – the use of good deeds toward others to promote the greatness of Islam; economic jihad – the use of financial pressure to win advantages for the spread of Islam; political jihad – taking advantage of the freedoms and benefits of non-Muslim countries in order to weaken or subvert those nations; civilizational jihad – the expansion of Muslim populations in non-Muslim countries both by immigration and birth rate, so as to outnumber the native population and ultimately institute a Muslim government and Shari’a law; civilizational jihadand finally of course, jihad of the sword, which we now know so well since 9/11 (over 30,600 deadly Muslim terrorist attacks around the world in the last 16 years) – the use of force to terrorize and conquer non-Muslim populations.

Jihad is glorified in the Muslim world, especially jihad of the sword. Those who kill and are killed while pursuing jihad fi sabeel Allah (armed conflict “in the way of/for the sake of” Allah are promised the highest honors and pleasures of Paradise (see Quran 9:111). The term is joined in the Qur’an with two other militant terms involving bloody conflict with the enemies of Islam: qital and harb. The former denotes fighting with weapon in hand so as to slay one’s foe; the latter is the Arabic word for “war.” While jihad occurs 28 times in the Qur’an commanding or explaining the use of force “for the sake of Allah,” qital occurs 33 times and harb 6 times. There is no question that the principal Qur’anic meaning for jihad involves the physical battlefield and the destruction or subjugation of Islam’s enemies.

In addition to this, the earliest biographies of Muhammad revel in the fact that within a year of his migration to Medina, the Arabian prophet begins drumming this theme of jihad into the minds and hearts (and treasure chests) of his followers, promising them both earthly and heavenly rewards for becoming soldiers of Allah. Islamic sources relate that Muhammad commanded or led over 70 military raids or battles in the nine years from 623 until his death in 632 – an average of one every 6-7 weeks. It’s not hard to conclude that jihad played a central role in Muhammad’s vision of spreading his religion’s supremacy over the unenlightened world around him.

The greatest amount of teaching from the prophet on the subject of jihad is found in the Hadith collections. Of these six collections (in the Sunni tradition) the greatest by popular and academic acclaim is that of Bukhari. Of the roughly 200 reports dealing with jihad found in Bukhari, 2% of them might be classified as the “greater jihad” of the heart; the other 98% focus on the “lesser jihad” of the sword. There is no question as to where Muhammad put his emphasis, according to orthodox traditions collected by his followers.

The topic of jihad also occupies a prominent place in Shari’a law. undat al salik.jpgAccording to one manual of Shari’a, ‘Umdat as-Salik (which has the endorsement of Sunni Islam’s greatest university, al-Azhar), “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion” (p.599; emphasis mine). The laws concerning jihad are based on 95 particular verses from the Qur’an as well as various hadith reports. This Qur’anic support is greater than that supplied for any other topic covered by Shari’a law!

Some apologists have conceded that while jihad may mean war against infidels, such war is always defensive – only legitimate in response to an attack on Muslims. In fact, this is not the case. Over the course of Muhammad’s career, his teaching on how to deal with infidels evolved. Early on, when his followers were few and his enemies strong, Muhammad counseled the use of da’wah – seeking to persuade unbelievers through winsome words and compelling arguments. After his followers began to experience persecution (facing the loss of possessions, being forced from their homes, etc.), he announced that they had the right to fight back to reclaim what they had lost. The third stage moved from defensive to offensive jihad – his followers could seek out and fight Islam’s enemies wherever they were, but not during the four holy months of the lunar calendar which were commonly regarded by all on the Arabian Peninsula as set apart for pilgrimages to various shrines. Finally, when Muhammad and his armies were seemingly invincible, he (and Allah) overruled the customs of the day and commanded the Islamic armies to engage in offensive jihad with no restrictions. Those commands remain in force even today, for no human being can annul what Allah has revealed through his final prophet. Thus, orthodox Islam is committed to jihad until all the world has bowed in submission to Islam by living under Shari’a law as administered by the Caliph of the Islamic state, as commanded in the Qur’an:

 “And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and [all and every kind of] worship is for Allah [Alone]” (2:193).

According to the Qur’an, Islam’s enemies are manifold. First to be dealt with are those who have initiated attacks against the Muslim community or lands. Of course, this can comprise almost anyone, since the Islamic mind interprets any obstacles to its expansion as an attack upon the religion. Second are the kuffar (these are not merely people ignorant of Islam, but rather those who reject Islam – disbelievers).  Third are the mushrikun (those who commit the sin of associating anything in the created order with Allah; in other words, idol worshipers or polytheists – according to Islamic theology, all orthodox Christians are mushrikun, because we believe that Jesus is divine and human). Fourth are “the people of the Book” (Jews and Christians) who have refused to recognize Muhammad as a true prophet, i.e., refused to become Muslims) – in the Qur’an, Jews are cursed directly by Allah ten times; Christians are not far behind. Fifth as enemies of Allah are hypocrites and apostates – those who mouth allegiance to Muhammad but fail to act in the interests of Islam, and those who reject Islam after having originally called themselves believers.

All these enemies are to be fought and defeated, and jihad is the divinely appointed tool to achieve this end. Frequent is the warning in the Qur’an that Muslims who refuse to go to battle will end up roasting in hell, while those who excel in warfare and achieve martyrdom will receive sensual rewards beyond their wildest dreams. It’s no wonder that after Muhammad’s death it took only a hundred years for the armies of Islam to conquer territory as far west as Morocco and Iberia, and as far east as India and the western reaches of China, all from the starting point of the Hejaz in western Arabia.

So when you hear Muslims or their propagandists declaring with great authority that Westerners are wrong to speak of jihad as “holy war,” willy-wonka-islam-means-surrender-its-all-about-peace-jihad-means-struggleand that jihad really only means “effort or struggle,” and principally refers to the work of spirituality in the Muslim’s heart, and only involves the sword when Muslims have been attacked, please set them straight. You have the weight of the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira (biography of the prophet), the early, bloody history of expansionist Islam, the Shari’a and the interpretations of countless Muslim scholars on your side.

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The Supernatural Power to Forgive — What Islam Cannot Fathom!

Forgiveness of others, even one’s enemies, is at the heart of the Christian faith, for it is an act of true love. “Freely you have received,” Jesus said, “freely give.” At the heart of the Lord’s Prayer, which every Christian knows and prays, is the petition, “Forgive us our trespasses/debts, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” The prayer of Jesus on the cross models this pinnacle of love when he petitions his Father for mercy toward those crucifying him: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”

Islam, on the other hand, knows little of this kind of forgiveness. Muslims are encouraged to forgive fellow Muslims, but not required to. They are called to seek vengeance, though, against non-Muslims who have wronged them.

After the recent Palm Sunday church bombings in Egypt, the wife of one of the Coptic believers slain in the terror attack is being interviewed on Egyptian TV. During the interview she declares that she bears no ill will toward the terrorists, but instead forgives them and prays they will come to understand the errors of their ways. After the clip has played, the Muslim news anchor who has just viewed the interview (along with the rest of us) responds with incredulity that any human beings could muster such love. If you want to see a clear testimony of how Jesus transforms lives in ways that Muhammad or Allah never can, please watch the video below — it is in Arabic, naturally, but the subtitling in English is very accurate.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/212755977″>Forgiveness Incarnated</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user22194617″>The Bible Society of Egypt</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>


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ISIS and Shakespeare!

It looks like times are getting hard for the leaders of ISIS, whose propaganda claims painted a picture of a continually expanding Islamic caliphate which would successively march through neighboring lands until ultimately it absorbed the whole inhabited world. Such a vision ignited the hearts of many young Muslim men eager to participate in a winning cause. But now that ISIS is on its heels, having lost most of the territory in Iraq and Syria that it had originally captured, the “caliphate” is having difficulty replacing those it has lost on the battlefield, much less expanding its forces with new recruits.

Evidence of this is seen in the fact that while “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used to order that any jihadis who fled from battle were to be executed when caught, he now rejects capital punishment for them, requiring only an ear to be cut off — with the warning that should they attempt to flee again, their other ear will be forfeit. Such was the punishment recently for 33 ISIS fighters who fled from opposing forces in Mosul.

If you want to read the whole story, check out this link as reported in the Daily Mail.

Kind of gives new meaning to Mark Antony’s panegyric in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears….”

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Fake News Headline #3: Islam and Western Democracy Are Completely Compatible!

Defenders of Islam in the West are quick to reassure the faint of heart that Islam and democracy are completely compatible, and that anyone who says otherwise really doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. In fact, some Islamophiles go so far as to say, with a straight face, that Islam actually created democracy!

Yet, in all the histories of Muslim caliphates and empires over almost fourteen centuries, there has never been an example of governance approaching true democracy until the rise of modern Turkey in 1923 from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey has been touted as a true Muslim democracy, but in fact it was able to succeed (until recently) because it was founded politically not on Islam but on Western secularism. Kemal Ataturk jettisoned Shari’a in favor of a model based on Swiss civil and Italian penal codes. The country has been able to survive as a democracy despite upheavals fostered by Islamic hardliners, due in no small part to a strong military committed to maintaining a secular government. Recent events under President Erdogan do not bode well for democracy, as he has hammered through the legislature new and expanded powers for himself. Erdogan dreams of ruling over a new, Ottoman-like caliphate, starting with Turkey. He has gradually steered the country away from its secular foundations established by Ataturk, and is injecting Turkish society with heavy doses of Islam. For our purposes in this blog, it is instructive to note that the more a government leans toward the embrace of Islam, the farther it drifts from the heart of democratic rule.

Some observers point out that a few countries in the Middle East have parliaments and hold elections. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?  Well, no, not really. Certainly these are elements necessary for any true democracy, but they are not sufficient. The marks of true democracies include a recognition of the rights of all individuals to personal freedoms and private ownership as well as full or representative participation in government. Likewise, the consent of the governed is underscored by the right of a society to create and change the laws by which it operates. Shari’a law enshrines inequality in how men and women are treated, and particularly in how non-Muslims are treated in contrasted to Muslims. There is no equal protection under the law for those who refuse to convert to Islam.sharia-nutters

Islam by nature is authoritarian and unbending when it comes to governance and statute. Allah is the uncontestable authority, whose will was known and enforced originally only through one man, Muhammad, and then after his death by only one caliph (“commander of the faithful) at a time. Islam never developed the idea of a “body politic” with the authority to make decisions for the nation as a representative body. Caliphs or Sultans might consult a small body of advisers privately, but the decision was theirs alone to make. Of course, any decrees would have to line up with Shari’a, or they would be subject to expulsion or worse.

And here is the second crucial reason why Islam and democracy do not mix well. True democracies demand legislative bodies so that the people through their representatives can shape the laws which govern their collective lives. As realities or values change in a culture, the laws can be changed through legislative process to mirror those movements. democracyBut this cannot be the case with Islam, which proclaims as an unassailable maxim that Shari’a is divine law, perfect in all of its ways and therefore incapable of being amended by anyone other than Allah. Islamic countries have no need of legislatures, since Shari’a cannot be changed. Puppet legislatures are merely for show.

Indeed, if a legislator were to lobby for alteration of Shari’a, his or her life would be endangered by core Muslims in whose eyes the legislator was proposing idolatry (the enacting of imperfect, human laws) over obedience to Allah. This is precisely what took place in Pakistan in 2011 when the Muslim governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer,salman taseer lobbied to change the country’s anti-blasphemy statutes and to set free Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman who had been wrongly convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. Taseer himself was assassinated by one of his government bodyguards, a deeply religious Muslim believing his act of murder was pleasing to Allah. The bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, was executed by Pakistan in 2016, but as a signal of the of popular mindset, some 100,000 Muslims gathered the day after his execution to publicly mourn his passing and to celebrate his allegiance to Allah and Islam (for full details, see here and here).In the last year, mosques have been erected in his name, and religious celebrations held in his honor. The victim, Gov. Taseer, is all but forgotten.

Democracy in essence is government of the people, by the people, for the people. Shari’a is government of Allah, by his caliph, for the glory of Islam. They mix about as well as fire and water.democracy (1).jpg

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Two More Examples of Struthianism!

Given all the evidence that has come out about Muslim terror perpetrator Khalid Masood, one might expect some straightforward conclusions leading to investigations over why Islam seems to engender so much hatred and violence against the rest of the world (as of today, over 30,500 lethal terrorist attacks by Muslims worldwide since 9/11). However, that apparently would be too rational a conclusion to reach.

Three days after the attack, Deputy Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Neil Basu declared that most likely Masood acted alone (though at that point eleven others had been arrested in the ensuing investigation).  basuHe noted that authorities needed to establish “with absolute clarity” why Masood committed these atrocities so as to provide answers to victims and their families and to calm the nerves of the nation.  However, he concluded his remarks with this singularly inept remark: “We must all accept that there is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him.”  Doesn’t the fact that ISIS has been calling Muslims to rise up against the Western world with precisely these kinds of attacks give Mr. Basu a clue? Doesn’t the fact that core Islam presents its prophet as commanding his followers to strike terror in the hearts of the unbelievers lend a further clue as to this terrorist’s mindset? Would the Western world be so willfully blind if the perpetrator had been an anti-abortion activist who murdered abortion providers and was killed in the process? Would we settle for “There is a possibility we will never understand why he did this. That understanding may have died with him”? Please. Don’t insult our intelligence with this drivel.

A second example comes by way of  tweets from a “journalist” by the name of Doug Saunders, presently the international affairs columnist with The Globe and Mail, a daily Canadian newspaper.



Mr. Saunders, who seems to be vying for either the title “Parser of the Year” or “Master of the Non Sequitur,” offers two inane arguments to divert attention away from the obvious issue of Islam as the leading cause of terrorism.

The first hinges on the meaning of the word “was” (shades of the Bill Clinton defense!). Saunders notes that the Westminster attacker was born Adrian Elms, and so obviously “was” not a Muslim at the start of his life. Apparently Mr. Saunders hopes his readers don’t pay close attention to his words (I concur with this hope), and will simply read quickly over the phrase “…was not a Muslim” and assume that Islam had nothing to do with this latest event. What Saunders means of course is that Masood did not start out his life as a Muslim. Leaving aside the quibble that in Islamic theology it is believed that all human beings are born as Muslims, but most drift away because of family or societal influences, so that if they come back to Islam as adults their return is known as a “reversion” rather than a “conversion, Saunders acknowledges that Masood started life as Adrian Elms, not as Khalid Masood. The real point that the columnist refuses to recognizes is this: Masood was not a Muslim at birth, but at some point consciously became a Muslim, and it was this decision that led to his bloodstained rampage across Westminster Bridge and the Parliament grounds one week ago.

Secondly, Saunders claims, whether accurately or not, that most UK Muslim extremists are not Muslim by background but rather converts from Christian families! The implication is that this common thread must be the cause of their bloodthirsty violence against others, no doubt because they remember Jesus’ teachings to kill the unbelievers wherever you find them, to put the sword to the necks of all who refuse to recognize him as Lord and Savior, to cut of the hands and feet of all who oppose the advance of the gospel, to strike terror into the hearts of his enemies, and to use subterfuge as a way to gain advantage over others because, after all, war is deceit.

Oh wait, I’m mixed up. It was Muhammad who commanded those things. Jesus said, “Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you; do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; he who lives by the sword will die by the sword….” So how could the Christian background of these converts to Islam somehow drive them to such hateful violence against others? And if Christian beliefs are the true source of these evils surfacing in Muslim converts, then why don’t we see Christians with ten, twenty, forty years of commitment to Christ leading the terrorist charge across the world? Christianity is after all the religion with the largest number of adherents in the world.

The real truth is that Islam is the compelling factor which moves converts to become jihadis. If Muslims argue that these converts have gotten it all wrong, then it is up to them to do a better job training those they enlist in their religion by showing them that when Muhammad commands them to kill the unbeliever, he doesn’t really mean it. I wish them good luck.

The other truth which Mr. Saunders second tweet unintentionally conveys is a true indictment against the Church. Why is it that anyone from a Christian background would ever turn to Islam as a better alternative? Is our example and teaching so insipid concerning what it means to follow Jesus that many conclude the gospel is boring and that a life given to supremacy over others whether by sword or coercion is a better alternative?

church ostrichThe Western Church must shake off our worldly self-satisfaction and return to living for the Kingdom of God as exemplified in the life of Jesus and made possible by His indwelling Spirit. Until we do that, we bear some of the blame for those within earshot of the gospel who turn away in disappointment to go find their meaning in something else. We don’t have the luxury to remain strouthian in our discipleship!


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A Struthious Approach to Islamic Terrorism

Almost one week ago, on Wednesday March 22nd, a British Muslim convert named Khalid Masood raced a rented vehicle at speeds up to 76 miles per hour while zigzagging on Westminster Bridge to hit as many pedestrians as possible before ramming the SUV into the perimeter fence of the British Parliament grounds, jumping out with two knives and running onto Parliament property where he fatally stabbed one police officer before being himself fatally shot by another police officer. In 82 short seconds, he had killed four innocent people and wounded more than fifty.

Khalid Masood was born to a single mom on December 25, 1964 given the name Adrian Elms. Two years later, his mother married a Nigerian man and gave Adrian her husband’s last name Ajao. The boy grew up under auspicious circumstances, in suburban Tunbridge Wells of Kent, England, where he graduated from Huntleys secondary school at age 16. Though his mom went to church on occasion, apparently that never appealed to young Adrian, who after graduation turned to a life of criminal violence, fueled in large part by heavy drugs. He was convicted of multiple offenses over the years — public disorder, assault, grievous bodily harm, possession of dangerous weapons. The last conviction, resulting in a 6 month prison sentence in 2003, led to his conversion to Islam. Upon release, he married a Muslim woman and changed his name to Khalid Masood, and began to practice Islam in earnest. Between 2004 and 2009 he traveled to Saudi Arabia and served as an English teacher, immersed in Wahhabi Islam. Upon his return to England, he continued his life as a practicing Muslim. One friend assessed him as “…a very religious, well spoken man. You couldn’t go to his home in Birmingham on Friday because he would be at prayer.” In his pre-Muslim days he had fathered two daughters; now as a Muslim he tried to convince them to convert to Islam and wear the hijab. With one he was successful. His circle of friends included a number of radicals interested in joining ISIS or other overseas terrorist groups.

All this background material in order to say: Khalid Masood fits the profile of a devout Muslim seeking to follow the commands of the Qur’an, including 9:111 —

“Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah , so they kill and are killed….So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted.”

Masood apparently thought that last Wednesday was the right time to put Allah’s promise to the test. He fulfilled his part of the contract by killing and being killed in the cause of Allah (i.e., in the life and death battle against infidels). Unfortunately, he has since discovered that Allah has no ability to keep his part of the contract.

How has  British leadership handled this attack? Like proverbial ostriches.

In truly struthious fashion (struthio is the vulgar Latin word for ostrich), they have hidden their eyes from the truth, casting about for any explanation other than Islamically-inspired terror:

Prime Minister Theresa May in her first public statement after the attack said that this  latest atrocity carried out by a Muslim  was not “…Islamic terrorism. It is Islamist terrorism. It is a perversion of a great faith….And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror. And never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart.”

Unfortunately, she failed to note which voices of hate and evil had filled Masood’s mind and heart, and how to counter them. It also remains a mystery how she can discern so easily between “true Islam” and the perversion of “Islamism” when hundreds of millions of practicing Muslims apparently cannot.

Another British politician, the Muslim Baroness Sayeeda Warsi,  joined the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 last Sunday in order to castigate the government for focusing almost exclusively on Islam as a threat. In a deft sleight-of-hand manuever, she declared, “This is a man who was born in a Christian home….He then got involved in criminality and didn’t convert to Islam until later on in life. So he was a violent Christian long before he was a violent Muslim.” Unfortunately, the talk show host never asked her what evidence there was to suggest Masood had ever converted to Christianity, nor how a disciple of Jesus Christ could justify a life of drugs, crime and violence. On the other hand, we have reams of evidence that Islam promotes hatred and violence against those stand in the way of the advance of Islam toward world conquest.

Lastly, in what seems like a desperate bid to turn the public’s attention away from core Islamic belief and practice as the trigger for Masood’s terrorism, George Eaton, the political editor for the liberal British magazine The New Statesman, tweeted the following:

The wonderful thing about Masood’s religiously inspired depravity is that it demonstrated London’s magnificent cultural diversity among the many injured and killed, and after all that’s what’s most important isn’t it? Let’s gaze adoringly at the silver lining that promotes our cultural priorities, and forget about the massing dark clouds which threaten to unleash such a storm as to destroy our culture and its priorities.

Talk about strouthian! It would be hard to bury one’s head any further in the sand. And yet, these British political and thought leaders represent the mainstream view not only of British intelligentsia, but of continental Europe as well. Unfortunately, this willful blindness is infecting American perspectives as well, and unless we wake up, we will soon be where Europe finds itself today in the struggle against Islamic imperialism.

Let’s throw out the ostrich and return to the keen-eyed bald eagle….

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Fake News Headline #2: Muhammad Was a Champion of Women’s Rights!

When Western women convert to Islam, they often go “whole hog,” so to speak, by opting to cover themselves with long-sleeved, ankle length dresses and hijabs or other similar head-coverings. Many cite their newfound belief that Islam actually raises their sense of dignity and self-worth, because now (unlike when they lived in the sexually exploitative West) they are not treated as sexual objects but as equals, because their bodies are hidden from view, thereby preventing men from lusting after them.

Was Muhammad the first Arabian feminist? Does Islam deserve pride of place as the greatest religious champion of women’s rights? Let’s take a look.

There is no question that Muhammad put an end to the long-standing practice of female infanticide among his Arab followers, for whom an added female mouth to feed with no hope that the added life would in the future provide labor or income for the family loomed as a heavy burden. It was so much easier to take the newborn girl out into the desert and leave her to die quickly in the harsh elements. Muhammad’s prohibition was truly a lifesaver.

Muslim tradition also states that women are superior to men in one particular regard — as mothers they bring life into the world, and so they are worthy of exceptional honor. According to the Hadith accounts,

A man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me? He replied: “Your mother.” The man asked: Then who? So he replied: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So the Prophet replied again: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So he replied: “Then your father.” (Bukhari, 8.73.2; see also Muslim, 2548b)

Also attributed to Muhammad is the famous saying in the Muslim world, “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother.”

Unfortunately, little else of a flattering nature is found in early Islamic sources about women and girls. They seem to exist basically for the pleasure of men.

The Qur’an declares that females are always to be under the charge of men — prior to marriage they remain under the oversight of their fathers or brothers, or other male relatives. After marriage, they are to obey their husbands in all things permitted by Islam.

“Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded….” (Qur’an 4:34)

Obedient women have certain rights: they should expect to be fed, clothed and housed. But men always have priorities over them:

“Women have such honorable rights as obligations, but their men have a degree above them…” (2:228).

The woman exists in large measure simply for the sexual pleasure of her husband:

“Your wives are as a tilth [a plowed field] unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will” (2:223).

“The Messenger of Allah said: ‘If a man calls his wife to his bed and she refuses, and he spends the night angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning.’” (Bukhari, 4794).

A Muslim man can satisfy himself with up to four wives (any and all of which he can divorce with a simple declaration three times in a row — “Talaq, talaq, talaq” — in order to marry up to four more). He may marry not just Muslim women, but also those from other monotheistic faiths). A Muslim woman, on the other hand, may only marry a Muslim man, and can have no more than one husband. It is almost impossible for her to initiate a divorce, unless her husband gives her his permission, or becomes an apostate.

In addition to this, a Muslim man is able to own an unlimited number of female slaves (if he can win them through jihad or buy them on the Islamic slave market) — in the Qur’an they are known as “those whom his right hand possesses.” Muhammad and the Qur’an give men the right to force sex on these women at their leisure.

If the man fears “rebellion” from his wife, he is to take the following escalating steps, until she submits:

“…As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge [beat] them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them” (4:34).

According to the example of Muhammad (and with permission from the Qur’an), Muslim men of any age are allowed to marry and deflower little girls as young as nine. Muhammad did this with his third wife, Aisha (she was nine and the prophet was 53), and the Qur’an gives directives concerning the divorce of wives who have not yet experienced their first period (65:4)!

The Ayatollah Khomeini, who knew the inner workings of Islam better than most Muslims, counseled adult men and fathers thusly:

“A man can have sexual pleasure from a child as young as a baby. However, he should not penetrate vaginally, but sodomizing the child is acceptable. If a man does penetrate and damage the child then, he should be responsible for her subsistence all her life. This girl will not count as one of his four permanent wives and the man will not be eligible to marry the girl’s sister… It is better for a girl to marry at such a time when she would begin menstruation at her husband’s house, rather than her father’s home. Any father marrying his daughter so young will have a permanent place in heaven” (from his book Tahrir al Wasilah).

As if this were not despicable enough, women and girls are further demeaned within orthodox Islam. Muslim law declares that a woman’s testimony carries only half the weight of a man’s testimony. Likewise, a woman can only receive half as much inheritance as her brother.

The most authoritative traditions (hadiths reported by Bukhari) concerning Muhammad’s valuation of women are rather chilling as words coming from a “prophet”:

Narrated by Abu Said Al-Khudri : Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer)…. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” (Bukhari, 1.6.301)

Aisha said, “The things which annul prayer were mentioned before me (and those were): a dog, a donkey and a woman. I said, ‘You have compared us (women) to donkeys and dogs. By Allah!’ I saw the Prophet praying while I used to lie in (my) bed between him and the Qibla. Whenever I was in need of something, I disliked to sit and trouble the Prophet. So, I would slip away by the side of his feet.” (Bukhari, 1.9.493)

This latter tradition concerns the legitimacy of prayers to Allah if dogs, donkeys or women cross in front of the praying Muslim man (or men) within a certain distance without an appropriate barrier between them. Muhammad’s young wife, Aisha, clearly understood the import of this divine denigration to women.

Ironically, though Islam is undeniably a “man’s religion” in its homage to male supremacy, it unwittingly admits to the irresistible power that women have over men in the arena of sexual magnetism.  Women are dangerous enticements to illicit sexual activity, and men are like helpless victims when caught in the snares of the opposite sex. It is for this reason that women are hidden from view in the Islamic world. They are secreted behind walls at home, behind veils and abayas and burqas in public. They must always be accompanied by a mahram  (a male chaperone whose blood ties to the woman forbid the legal possibility that he could marry her) when around others outside the home, ostensibly to protect her but also to prevent her from working her tempting charms on vulnerable men. Women are to guard their private parts according to Sura 24:31 (men are also to guard theirs according to the prior verse). Because they, as sexual beings, are so dangerous to the male gender, Islam permits the attempt to tame their raging sexuality. Islam recommends (or even commands, according to the Shari’a manual Umdat as-Salik, e4.3) the circumcision of both men and women. For women, it is the bazr (clitoris) which is to be removed; hence, the widespread practice in some Muslim countries of clitoridectomies performed on young girls.  By this barbaric process of female genital mutilation (FGM), the Muslim community assumes it has excised not only a young woman’s future sexual enjoyment but also her capacity to become a sexual temptress, thereby protecting Muslim men from their own inabilities to control themselves.

So, all women within Muslim societies must be hidden away in the family quarters of their homes, or covered up in form-hiding clothes when out in public, and watched like hawks so they don’t trip up Muslim men. And of course, when such men do transgress and rape or sexually assault women, most naturally it is the woman’s fault, for she was the provocatrix who must have shown a bare neck or shoulder or forearm or calf muscle and so set her assailants hormones raging beyond his ability to control. He is the true victim, and she is the responsible party. Sadly, in such cases the family of the violated woman often blames her as well, and is so outraged that she has brought such shame/dishonor on the family name that to recover its social stature it engages in an “honor killing,” taking her life as a way to expunge the shame from their midst.

All of this, from Islamic scripture to Shari’a law to Muslim cultural practice is part and parcel of the religion of Islam. So the next time you hear the absurd claim that Muhammad was the greatest champion of women’s rights or the risible assertion that “true Islam” is the feminist’s best friend, please don’t remain silent. You might just prevent a starry-eyed, naive, potential convert from making perhaps the biggest mistake of her life, one which cannot be undone without much pain and the looming threat of execution.

Posted in Top Ten Fake News Headlines Concerning Islam, Uncategorized | 3 Comments