The message in the photo above is commendable, but does it reflect the Black Lives Matter movement in its present form? Do all black lives matter to the BLM leadership, from what an outside observer can tell? Clearly not. Only black lives lost in confrontations with law enforcement officers seem to count, because BLM can manipulate those deaths as a tool to seek the destruction of America’s present system of law and order in favor of some new system they haven’t yet unveiled. Given the fact that BLM’s founders have made no secret of their Marxist leanings, the USA they envision bears little resemblance to that of our Founding Fathers.
The fiction that black lives matter to the BLM movement is belied by the silence coming from its leaders regarding the deaths of blacks in any other context than police encounters. For example, did BLM bemoan the murder of retired police captain David Dorn on June 2nd in St. Louis by rioters? No. Did it condemn the black-on-black gun violence in Chicago over Fathers’ Day weekend culminating in 15 deaths and 105 injuries, or that occurring last weekend where 18 were killed (including three children) and 47 injured? No. Sadly, this epidemic of black-on-black violence has a stubborn history in our nation’s recent past, and is being replicated in many cities across this country. But BLM is not interested in these deaths, for they carry little political potency for radical change of our republic.
My point in all this is not to minimize the evil of true cases of police brutality against blacks by pointing to the much larger reality of black deaths at the hands of black perpetrators (or murderers of any color, for that matter). I firmly believe that officers committing homicide must be investigated fully and fairly, and if found guilty of unjustified homicide should face the appropriate judgment for their crime. The issue at hand, however, is the hypocrisy of Black Lives Matter, claiming to fight for justice on behalf of all black victims but in reality ignoring most black deaths. And of course, BLM limits its scope to a small segment of black victims only in the United States, as if the black race ends at our national borders. If all black lives truly matter, one would expect BLM to be grieved and angered by the wholesale slaughter of blacks taking place elsewhere, particularly on the African continent, perpetrated primarily by Muslim protagonists.
For example, in just the last month, 17 villagers were slaughtered in Macomia, Mozambique (5/30) when jihadis stormed their town. That same day in Burkina Faso, Muslims attacked two villages, Barsalogho and Loroum, killing 13 and 15 noncombatants respectively. The next day, at a livestock market in Kompienbiga (also Burkina Faso), Muslim militants fired into the crowd, killing 30 innocents. That same day (5/31) in Itakpa, Nigeria, jihadis with machetes hacked 13 locals to death in their homes. On June 3rd in Kujuru, Nigeria, Fulani mercenaries dismembered 9 women and children attempting to flee their attackers. Three days later in Auno, Muslim insurgents overran a military base and killed six local soldiers. On June 9th, also in Nigeria, 81 villagers are gathered from the nomadic village of Faduma Kolomdi by Muslim radicals and executed. On June 11th in Cabor, Mozambique, 10 members of a family are beheaded by jihadis. Also on that day, in the border post town of Kafolo, Ivory Coast, a Muslim militant attack takes the lives of 13 guards. On June 13th in the two towns of Nganzai and Monguno, Nigeria, the Islamic State of West Africa massacred 61 locals for the crime of interacting with Westerners. The next day, in Bouka Were, Mali, two dozen local security guards were killed by Islamic State affiliates. Over the weekend of June 20-21, the Islamic State affiliated group ADF in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed “at least twenty civilians) in separate attacks on two villages. And this last Saturday, in Damboa, Nigeria, the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram ambushed and killed 11 local security guards.
These represent the attacks with larger casualty rates in Africa over the past month, but many more lethal attacks on smaller numbers over the same period could be listed, all carried out by Muslim militants. Did BLM take notice of any of them, expressing grief or anger over the senseless killing of more black lives? Hardly. Apparently these black African individuals are of equally little value to BLM leadership as the multitudes of black Americans killed at the hands of anyone other than law enforcement.
We’ve been told that it is impolitic to say “All lives matter” in response to the race-specific claim that “black lives matter.” I disagree. In point of fact, it is a racist statement to imply that black lives matter more than those of any other race. From a Christian vantage point, all lives matter equally before God regardless of the color of one’s skin, and all are to be treated equally and provided the same opportunities in life, as much as is possible in any imperfect society. Where that doesn’t happen, we must work to rectify it both in our hearts and in our institutions.
But even for those committed to the rallying cry of “Black Lives Matter!”, I’d be more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and listen compassionately to their arguments if they really believed and acted as though all black lives really did matter. Unless and until that happens, all this protest noise, attended by violence and mindless destruction, is simply adolescent political theater. I pray it either matures into something substantive and positive for human society, or dissolves into the fog of oblivion where all juvenile dreams find their ultimate end.
One of the many problems with theocratic rule is that the top dog has the authority to make decisions for the whole state based on personal beliefs as long as those beliefs do not constitute heresy. In Islam, that allows for a wide latitude of dangerous rulings.
The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, is a case in point. Recently, in his nationally televised Nowruz speech marking the start of the Persian New Year, Khamenei explained to listeners why he and his government adamantly refused to accept medical aid from the United States as the coronavirus runs unchecked throughout Iran.
(By the way, the Islamic regime also rejected help from Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders], ejecting a team that had already landed in Isfahan to set up a fifty bed field hospital with the excuse that they were not needed since the epidemic was “well under control.” ) Khamenei went on to say that the US government could not be trusted. He gave credence to the outlandish conspiracy theory that the US military had cooked up the coronavirus specifically to target the Iranian people’s genome, and that to let them into Iran now would be like letting the fox into the henhouse. How much more damage might Iran’s greatest enemy do to Iran (i.e., to the governmental regime) should they have hands-on access to millions of vulnerable people?
As he waxed eloquent about the US administrative, military and intelligence services pouring all their energies into destroying the Islamic Republic, Khamenei revealed a bit of his Muslim perspective on international relations. Iran, he conceded, had many human enemies (all of the infidel countries who are part of the sanctions coalition). But, he also added, the country also faced many demonic enemies — in Islam, these are known as jinn — and worst of all, the jinn and infidel human governments are working in partnership with each other:
“…There are enemies who are demons and there are enemies who are humans, and they help one another. The intelligence services of many countries cooperate with one another against us… Today, our most evil enemy – the enemy of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] – is America.”
When official Iranian news agencies first reported on the Ayatollah’s speech, they left out his comments on the jinn and their partnership with America, Israel and other infidel nations against Iran.
But the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Cyber Division posted that same day the full video of Khamenei’s speech along with two video clips from “respected theologians” to support the Supreme Leader’s claims concerning the demons and humans conspiring together. Entitled “The Supreme Leader’s Important Hint Regarding The Western-Hebrew Spy Apparatuses’ Use Of Infidel Demons To Strike Iran,” the post quoted Shi’ite seminary lecturers, Ali Akbar Raefi-Pour and Hojatoleslam Valiollah Naghi-Pour are using demons in order to steal classified documents from the Iranian Defense Ministry, in separate video clips.
Rafei-Pour declares in his teaching that “The Israeli Mossad is officially and insistently using demons to read the other side’s military thinking, to read the enemy chief of staff’s plans, and to carry out intelligence operations.” As proof that what this theologian says is true, not only of Israel but also of the United States, the IRGC Cyber Division points to the 2016 Hollywood film Suicide Squad to demonstrate that the Pentagon and associated intelligence agencies “…are using demons in order to steal classified documents from the Iranian Defense Ministry.” In the film, a top-secret US agency coerces the Enchantress, an otherworldly witch (= jinni) to dematerialize, travel instantly to Iran’s most heavily guarded “weapons ministry vault” in Tehran, steal its military’s top secret plans, and return to the Pentagon, plopping them on the desk in front of America’s top general. Hollywood, apparently unwittingly, let slip the secret that the USA is indeed employing demons to debilitate and ultimately incapacitate the Islamic Republic of Iran. You can see the proof for yourself in the clip below:
Meanwhile, in the Cyber Division’s second posted clip, also undated, Naghi-Pour asserted confidently, “Israel wanted to use demonic force to infiltrate the intelligence systems of Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. They did not succeed, and they [the Israelis] are still wondering why not, because it is well known that the Jews are experts in sorcery and in creating relationships with demons.”
Those evil, satanically-inspired Jews! Does not the Qur’an say that Allah has cursed them for their unbelief (2:88; 4:46) and made their hearts hard so that in the vast majority you will always find treachery (5:13)? Are not the Jews recipients of Allah’s retribution, some having been turned into apes and pigs due to their slavery to demons (5:60)? Are they not strongest in hatred against the Muslims (5:82). Allah declares that they are of insolent character (17:4) and have forged lies against Allah in order to turn away from Islam (61:7). For this reason, they have turned to the dark side, becoming experts in sorcery and demonology so that they may continue to rule the world by the power of the devil.
Such is the mindset that infects hundreds of millions of Muslims. Anti-Semitism is not a mere transient bigotry which happens to inflame a portion of the Muslim world today. It is woven extensively throughout the fabric of the Qur’an and Sunna. To remove it from Islam would be to unravel the religion itself. This hatred of the Jews, and its sister hatred of all other infidels, stems from the deep-seated doctrine of al wala’ w’al bara’, “loyalty and repudiation,” which demands of every Muslim that he shows himself unswervingly loyal to all that Allah deems good and that he earnestly repudiates all that Allah deems evil. And what can be more evil than those who partner with demons to fight against Allah and his religion?
Regardless of whether Khamenei and his henchmen actually believe that Western and Israeli leaders are working hand in glove with the jinn to plot against Iran, they are not above using this theological conspiracy to paint themselves as beleaguered saints fighting against overwhelming evil forces to protect the poor masses of the Islamic Republic. In this way, they hope to distract their people from the reality of their own callous, incompetent leadership and greedy plunder of the country’s limited resources to line their own pockets.
Khamenei wants his people to believe that he is doing the best he can on their behalf, but that the Great Satan (America) and the Little Satan (Israel), supernaturally aided by hordes of jinn, are such formidable enemies that he can barely hold them off, unless Allah intervenes or sends the invincible Mahdi to scatter Islam’s enemies once and for all. The Persian people should not criticize or rise up against the Supreme Leader, for he is acting valiantly to protect them. Instead, they should laud and honor him, and continue to support him with peaceful obedience. To side with the enemies of the regime is to approve of the work of the jinn, which no good Muslim can countenance.
Hence, the final manipulation of the theocrat is to promise damnation to all who oppose his rule. To topple Khamenei and his regime is to give free rein to the forces of evil, both human and supernatural, that wish to unseat Allah and eradicate Islam. Allah will punish all who do not support the Supreme Leader. That threat is the same one Muhammad used regularly against those who assailed his authoritarian leadership. The prophet was able to get away with such manipulation. But Khamenei is no Muhammad, and in his thirty-two years of incompetent rule, the people have now seen through his disguise as a holy man, and found instead an old, self-serving, cold-hearted hypocrite. If the coronavirus does not do him in soon, a civil rebellion surely will. Or maybe America will take pity on the Persian people and send the Enchantress to his private chambers.
It’s kind of a cute reminder through music in these days of sanitizing and social distancing, and will serve to memorialize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic for future generations.
There’s another song that came to my mind after hearing complaints from millennials and Gen Zers flooding the beaches in Florida and Texas despite warnings and pleas from governmental and medical sources that they should change their plans and go home, both to avoid getting infected themselves and potentially infecting others. I listened to some being interviewed and heard rationales such as:
I’ve been looking forward to spring break for months, and I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest;
This is my 21st birthday present to myself, and no one’s going to stop me;
We’re here to hit the bars and the beaches – this is a time to embrace the good life.
None were worried about COvid-19, thinking themselves immune, or maybe not thinking at all. Que sera, sera. If they happen to catch the virus, well, it won’t really slow them down while on spring break, and they can deal with any symptoms after they get back home. In their lust to party and hook up, the thought that they might become carriers of the virus and bring home sickness and devastation to family and friends never entered their minds.
So here’s the song – it’s also from the 60’s. Debuting in 1963, it became Lesley Gore’s first hit: It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want to. You probably remember the simple refrain:
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to. You would cry too if it happened to you…
In honor of the spring break revelers and others who have shown equally callous disregard for society at large during the coronavirus epidemic, I have adjusted the chorus to capture their mindset:
It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to, take others with me, die if I want to. You would die too if it happened to you…
The self-centered spirit of this age is perfectly captured in the behavior of those who throw all caution to the wind in favor of pure hedonism, who care nothing for how their reckless behavior might endanger countless others in the midst of a pandemic.
Some people say, “Hey, these are just kids doing what kids do – seeking to have fun. Their brains aren’t yet mature enough to think responsibly about others.” But that’s just not true. In previous ages, people eighteen and older were making plans to take the gospel to unreached nations; they were training as nurses and doctors to set up field hospitals in disease-wracked countries; they were volunteering to fight against totalitarian regimes threatening the free world. The difference between then and now hinges on how parents and American society have shaped children as they have grown. In prior ages, children were instilled with concern for others, mostly borne out of a Christian worldview. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” was often quoted to them. “Greater love has no one than he who lays down his life for his friends,” was another famous quote from Jesus. Likewise, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
But our recent generations have not been raised on such teachings. Instead, they have been told that life revolves around them, that their feelings are sacrosanct and must be protected, that they can be and do whatever they wish, choose their gender, their pronouns, thumb their noses at whatever authority seeks to hold them accountable for their behaviors. Their mottos could easily be: “You shall love yourself and forget your neighbor;” “Greater happiness has no one than he who sacrifices his friend for his own enjoyment; “Whoever want to become great among you must use others to get ahead, and whoever wants to be first must make slaves of all others.” Perhaps these are overstatements. I hope so. But you get the point.
Though these young revelers bear responsibility for their selfish actions, even more are their parents and past generations to blame, for we have allowed our society to become a breeding ground for narcissism and self-absorption. We have failed to reach for the vision of our higher calling in Christ, and have allowed our animal instincts to win the day. We have bought the lie that what we are by nature cannot be changed, and there is no use trying. So the Christian life becomes a museum relic to observe with curiosity, without ever a thought that perhaps we could be transformed into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit if we became serious about offering our lives up to God in obedience to His living Voice.
Paul the apostle once said, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Does anyone still believe that? Who is experiencing this spiritual revolution? Who is modeling and teaching this to our younger generations? This must become our prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, and renovate our hearts!”
For when the Spirit has finished his work in our hearts, then we will sing a new song, a song worthy of the Age to Come:
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad, and give all the glory to Him.” (Rev. 19.6-7)
“Truth will out.” So said Shylock’s servant, Lancelot Gobbo, in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. This is salutary to keep in mind when dealing with the lies and obfuscations of totalitarian regimes like China and Iran. The truth will come out, particularly concerning their incompetence in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus.
The mullahs seem much more inept than the Chinese Communist Party at maintaining their webs of deception. The facts of the ravaging impact of COvid-19 on the Persian people are now coming to light — even state-controlled media and regime officials are beginning to concede the truth. Despite wildly understated figures still being reported by official releases (just under 1,700 deaths, which even Dr. Richard Brennan, a director for the World Health Organization who just returned from an investigatory visit to Iran proposed was off by a factor of five), the full extent of the regime’s lies is now beginning to surface. For example:
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that the first his government became aware the virus had appeared in the country was on Feb. 19th, when officials in Qom announced that two persons had died of the COvid-19. Evidence has recently surfaced that the leadership was informed of the appearance of the virus in Iran at least by the end of January, and perhaps even two weeks before that.
As rumors spread among Iranians concerning the virus, the regime leadership continued to lie to the people in spite of the imminent danger of contagion, because of two national events (the 41st anniversary celebration of the founding of the Islamic Republic, and the national parliamentary elections) for which the mullahs wanted maximum public participation in order to continue the pretense of their legitimacy before the eyes of the world. In both cases, the people widely boycotted these events, primarily to express their disgust over the regime’s evil and ineptitude.
Even after Khamenei admitted the obvious, that the coronavirus was spreading across the country, he downplayed its seriousness, saying on March 3rd that it was “not that big a deal,” “not something extraordinary,” and “an issue that will pass.” He also tweeted that day, “Our officials have reported with sincerity and transparency since day one,” a statement worthy of ten Pinocchios, were anyone outside Iran listening to him. It has since come to light that he had already ordered the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps), the regime’s equivalent of Hitler’s SS troops, to hospitals and morgues so as to ensure that infection rates and death tolls be reported only to the regime since this was “a matter of national security.” Any unauthorized reporting would result in public lashings and one to three years of imprisonment.
At a briefing on Feb. 26th, Health Minister Saeed Namaki predicted, “The main peak of the coronavirus will be in next week and coming days.” President Hassan Rouhani reframed that timeline a few days ago, apparently saying as of March 16th that, “Based on the figures, we are past the peak of the disease….” The Health Minister since has said this is not the case and the peak may not be reached until April 8th at the earliest. Many health experts in Iran, however, are claiming that the epidemic is still spreading rapidly and it is still too early to make any accurate predictions, especially with people oblivious to warnings about social gatherings and ongoing travel. Some doctors in Tehran are predicting that by the first week of April up to forty percent of Tehran (up to five million people!) might be infected. Yesterday marked the traditional Persian New Year, Nowruz, and even though Khamenei issued a fatwa forbidding travel due to fears of contagion, Iranians are effectively ignoring him, preferring to get away from death and despondency to celebrate with family and friends at the beach or in the mountains.
Though evidence pointed clearly to the pilgrimage city of Qom as the epicenter of the virus and the government was advised to close down the religious shrines by medical experts, the mullahs refused this advice and continued to welcome Iranian and international pilgrims. Some, such as Khamenei’s personal representative and head of the Fatima Masoumeh shrine in Qom, announced that this shrine was a place of healing and protection from all illness, including the coronavirus, and as a result, many visitors continued kissing and licking shrine premises as an expression of their faith. Finally, in recent days, the shrines around the country were officially closed, but riots by religious crowds resulted in some of them, including Masoumeh, to be reopened by force. As a result, due to governmental negligence the infectin was able to spread quickly through returning pilgrims to every province of Iran and to many Shi’ite communities in other countries. Now that the regime has changed its story and is telling citizens they need to avoid contact with crowds due to the coronavirus, people in Iran are irate as they see that their country is now in the grip of a contagion which will not soon end.
With the start of the new year, Iran’s national budget for 2020 must be approved. Many are calling it an “imaginary” budget because it assumes income figures that have no basis in reality. The bulk of the government’s income results from the sale of oil internationally, but due to sanctions imposed by the USA and allies the government is able to sell only 200-300,000 barrels of oil daily. The budget relies on a figure ten times that amount. Additionally, it assumes a selling price of over $50 a barrel while the international market prices have plummeted to about half of that due to a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia as well as coronavirus shutdowns which have depressed demand. Though Iran has been secretive about its solvency at 2019-20 year-end, it looks likely that its $5 billion mid-year deficit has only increased — out of a total budget of some $37 billion to run the country for the year. The 2020-21 budget presents the same level of figures, even though the government has long since squandered its last reserves and has little trickling in to its empty coffers. The Parliament was supposed to pass the “imaginary budget” sent to it by Khamenei’s office, but even these sycophants couldn’t stomach the deception and balked at voting for it. Khamenei then pulled it from parliamentary consideration and sent it directly to his hand-picked Guardian Council, who rubber-stamped it as the official budget moving forward. While poverty grips the country (over forty percent of Iranians live below the poverty line), President Rouhani recently boasted that the people of Iran have everything they need; there are no shortages of food and goods, and hospitals and citizens have complete access to medical necessities: gloves, masks, gowns, hand sanitizers, etc., while in reality doctors, nurses and other medical workers have been working unprotected for the last month in hospitals to save as many COvid-19 patients as they can. The fact that the regime has asked the International Monetary Fund for an emergency grant of $5 billion (over 13% of its entire annual budget!) “to fight the coronavirus” speaks volumes. The difference between government propaganda and the reality on the streets is so stark as to be laughable, if it weren’t so deadly. Any laughter is laced with bitterness.
As of Sunday, March 22nd, the Johns Hopkins global coronavirus tracking website reported total deaths to date worldwide from the virus as 14,386. Of those, Iran’s official total stands at 1,685, meaning outside of Iran 12,701 have perished in this pandemic. However, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) with its extensive grassroots network in all 31 provinces of Iran gives a tally of over 9,600 deaths across 210 cities as of Sunday. If accurate, this would mean that Iran alone has lost 75% as many people as the rest of the world combined to the coronavirus. And the epidemic continues unchecked within the regime due to the mullahs’ incompetence and indifference. The story in Iran dwarfs that of Italy, China or any other country, yet because of tyrannical control of state media within Iran and of Western media torpor, little attention has been drawn to it. As infection rates and death totals there continue to soar, however, the criminality of the theocratic regime will finally become all to apparent. The truth will out.
Lastly, to deflect from their deadly culpability, Khamenei, Rouhani and their henchmen have tried unsuccessfully to blame others, principally the United States. With absolutely no evidence, they have floated the lie that the coronavirus outbreak was the result of a covert U.S. bioterrorist attack. It originated in the holy city of Qom because the USA has always feared Shi’ite Islam and was attempting to destroy it from within. But, of course, Allah will protect his people and they will be victorious over the Great Satan. By mounting this specious defense, the regime hopes to rally its people against a common enemy and so turn attention away from its own cyclopean guilt. But the Persian people have seen iterations of this tactic so often that they are no longer fooled. The truth will out.
Although the rest of the world has yet to wise up concerning the malevolent criminality of Iran’s theocratic leaders, the Persian masses know that the mullahs can no longer be trusted, if they ever could. The light of truth shines not from the official news organizations of the state but from independent social media outlets. The regime seeks to throw its Stygian cloak over its malign behaviors and the consequent suffering of its unwitting victims, but the truth will out. It cannot be stopped. And when the truth is fully in the light, the regime will be toppled. It cannot come quickly enough.
The theocratic regime of Iran is imploding. After forty-one years of iron-fisted arrogance, breath-taking deceit and stupefying incompetence, the rule of the mullahs has so impoverished and infuriated the long-suffering Persian population that the masses are poised to rise up and topple their unwelcome government.
In the last four months, natural, political and economic events have brought Iran to the tipping point. November 15th, 2019 marked the onset of popular protests against the regime, sparked by the announcement of an immediate tripling of the price of gasoline across the country. Under crippling economic sanctions by the USA and its trading partners, the Iranian government was facing shortages of cash and supplies, and skyrocketing inflation.
In the attempt to bring in more money to its coffers, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his cronies, decided to ease the regime’s burdens by sucking more of the dwindling resources of its citizens. The people responded with massive demonstrations that spread swiftly across the country. At first, the focus was on the unconscionable price-hike of such a necessary commodity for everyday life. Quickly, though, the protests turned into a no-confidence vote against the regime and its hypocritical leaders. (Everyone knows, for example, that the Supreme Leader sits on a private fortune accrued while in office of some 95 billion dollars while the average Iranian scrambles to keep his family from starving.)
As protests continued, the regime responded with violence to dissuade further anti-government activity. It didn’t work. For over six weeks people continued to march in the streets, burn gas stations, police buildings, government centers and seminaries, occupy universities to make their demands known.
They chanted, “Death to Khamenei;” “No money to Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis or Syria; Give Our Money to Iran;” “Mullahs, Get Out.” The government in turn descended into Gestapo-like tactics, beating people mercilessly, firing rubber bullets at first into crowds, then turning to real bullets, employing military sharpshooters on city rooftops with orders to take headshots so as to kill targets immediately and terrorize protesters around them. When all was said and done, the regime had killed over 1500 of its own citizens, wounded three times that number, and arrested over 10,000 others. To this day, the government has refused to release an “official” tally of the dead. When asked, senior officials simply say, “The coroners have those numbers.” The morgues, on the other hand, say, “We have sent our figures to the senior officials.” So the bob and weave of deception continues, to the disgust of the citizenry.
Shortly after the protests began to dissipate, news broke that on January 8th Ukraine Air flight 752, bound from Tehran to Kiev, had crashed shortly after take-off a few hours after Iran had launched missiles at an Iraqi-American airbase in retaliation for the killing of Qassem Suleimani. The Iranian regime quickly reported that the plane suffered mechanical difficulties. Soon after, they blamed the disaster on pilot error. When supposition arose that the jet might have been shot down accidentally by missiles, senior Iranian leaders decried this notion as “psychological warfare” and “an American lie.”
Finally, on January 11th, after incontrovertible satellite and video evidence proved the plane had been struck by two surface to air missiles, the regime reluctantly admitted what it had known from the beginning, that the operator of one of its military missile batteries had mistakenly concluded the airliner was a “hostile target,” and ordered missiles, three minutes apart, to shoot down the passenger jet.
When this news hit the airwaves, people once again poured into the streets, erupting with anger over their “divinely-guided” government’s duplicity. Popular chants once again pointed to the odium they bore their Shi’ite overlords: “They are lying that our enemy is America; our enemy is right here!” In disgust, many made known their intention to disavow the government however they could.
At the same time, in mid-January, torrential flooding affected four provinces in the south of Iran: Sistan and Baluchestan, Hormozgan and Kerman. Due to the economic and political paralysis of the central government, little to no aid was available to help overwhelmed residents. Roughly six weeks later, heavy storms in northern Iran caused massive flooding and destruction to hundreds of villages and roadways over fourteen provinces, stranding thousands of people.
Again, no help was available from the government. The locals erupted with anger at officials who had promised after similar flooding in 2019 that they would dredge rivers and improve dams to prevent future floods. That had not happened. Resources were not available for such work due to corruption, incompetence and insouciance.
Shortly before the worst of the flooding in the north, two powerful earthquakes struck northwestern Iran on Sunday, Feb. 23rd. The first registered 5.7 on the Richter scale, and hit in the early morning hours. The second, an aftershock, registered 5.9 and occurred later in the day. Lives were lost as many buildings toppled to the ground. Two days later (2/25), a 4.9 temblor struck south-central Iran. While earthquakes are not uncommon in this region of the world, what is stirring the rage of the people is the lack of rapid and effective response by their government. In fact, there is little to no response at all, for the bottom of the government’s barrel has already been scraped clean by self-serving mullahs, their obsequious mandarins, and the armed forces they pay handsomely to keep the riff-raff at bay.
As if all this were not enough, southwestern Iran faced a record-breaking locust invasion beginning in mid-February. A year ago, the area faced a similar invasion. Officials described that plague as “consisting of millions.” This year’s infestation, they say, numbers in the billions.
One observer estimated over 500 million locusts per square kilometer. As they march from west to east across Iran, they are eating every plant in sight. How has the government responded to this disaster? With dissimulation, negligence, incompetence and mismanagement. The inaction of the government prior to spawning season, when insecticide spraying should have been done, has led to this mammoth horde now eating its way across Iran’s agricultural heartland.
And then we come to the novel Corona virus and its attendant disease, COvid-19. There are indications that this virus first entered Iran in early February and that the highest echelons of the regime knew of its presence. The religious city of Qom, home to some of Shi’ism’s holiest shrines and beloved by most of Iran’s mullahs, is where the Corona virus broke out. Even though the governmental clerics knew of the outbreak, they cloaked the truth from their people and the world for as long as possible until the first two victims died in Qom.
Why? Because they needed to protect their delusional image of a government favored by Allah and beloved of its people, as the “Islamic Revolution” which continues to prosper and bless its Muslim citizens. Two critical events were to occur in February, and it was necessary for their fantasy that the world see huge public turnouts of support from the population. If news about the contagion broke out too soon, people would likely stay home, and their propaganda would be imperiled. So they quashed unofficial reports and jailed journalists who wouldn’t toe the party line. The first big event was the celebration of the 41st anniversary of the birth of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on Feb. 11th. Festivities were planned across the country, but especially in the capital city of Tehran, where massive crowds were expected. However, when the day came, empty streets and deserted squares were the stark reality. By refusing to show up, people pronounced their loathing of the government. “Our vote is for regime change.” So said the graffiti.
The Supreme Leader, Khamenei, and President Rouhani, tried to put their best spin on this humiliation by the masses, and set their sights on a better outcome at the second critical event – the Parliamentary elections to be held on Feb. 21st. Since candidates for every slot had to be “vetted and approved” by the Supreme Leader and his sycophantic, hardline Guardian Council, any” so-called “moderate” candidate was disqualified, and only those loyal to Khamenei were allowed to run. Many noted that Feb. 21st would not mark a day of election but one of selection – selecting those whom the Supreme Leader had pre-ordained. As the day approached, opposition leaders pled with fellow citizens to boycott the elections in order to send a strong message that the regime had lost its legitimacy. The people responded, in spite of appeals and threats by Khamenei, Rouhani and others, by staying home. The regime reported the next day a highly-inflated figure, saying that over 41% of eligible voters had participated, but even so had to admit that even this artificial number marked the lowest voter turnout since the Revolution of 1979.
Only after this debacle did the mullahs begin to talk more openly of the coronavirus, which now became a convenient excuse for the low turnout at both national events. “People stayed home,” they said, “out of fear. Foreign governments (read: USA and Israel) whipped up fabricated stories of fatalities and epidemics in order to keep people away from our national celebration and elections.” As usual in the Islamic world (whether Shi’ite or Sunni), when bad things happen the blame is not to be found with Muslim beliefs, practices or institutions, but with non-Muslims who are always conspiring to destroy Islam.
When not casting blame, Muslim leaders seem to love the art of subterfuge. So even after acknowledging the presence of the coronavirus in the country, the Iranian leadership intentionally misled its own populace as well as the larger world by grossly underreporting the rapid spread and number of deaths caused by COvid-19. Khamenei and his underlings downplayed its seriousness (“a passing issue;” “nothing exceptional”) and refused to take decisive actions (except to arrest those who exposed the truth). The clerics in Qom refused the recommendation that they should close down the pilgrimage centers, particularly the Masoumeh Shrine.
The same was true in Mashhad, Iran’s other “holy city.” Some mullahs even encouraged more pilgrims, assuring them that by attending the shrines they would be immunized from the coronavirus.
As news of the rapid spread of the virus in Iran reached the public, once again people expressed fury toward their leaders for their lies, inaction, incompetence and callousness. Officials rejected the use of quarantines, arguing such practices were ineffective and “belong to the Stone Age.” As hospital beds filled up across the country, it became clear that the healthcare infrastructure nationwide was woefully inadequate. Medicines were in short supply, masks and gloves were unavailable even to doctors and nurses, disinfectants were a distant pipedream. As people began probing, it turned out that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – the military arm of government responsible to protect and advance “the revolution” within the country and to export it to the outside world – had gathered as many of these materials as possible and was hoarding them for two purposes: first, to dispense them as needed to the upper echelons of government and the elite citizenry; and second, to sell them on the local black market or to desperate nations (such as China) at highly inflated prices so as to line their own pockets. To mollify the angry crowds, they took cans of air freshener, relabeled them as disinfectant spray, and sold them to the unsuspecting public.
This callousness of the Shi’ite authorities has been revealed also in how Sunni villages and towns are completely ignored as the coronavirus spreads in their midst. Likewise, those incarcerated within Iran’s prison system receive little to no medical assistance. Overcrowding and lack of basic hygiene make for the perfect breeding ground for the virus. Sensing a disaster in the making, officials are floating the idea of releasing some 70,000 inmates back into society so as to obscure the regime’s incompetence in protecting its prison population. The fact that such a release would further endanger the public makes little difference to regime leaders.
The question of how the coronavirus first entered Iran led to a focus on the holy city of Qom, where the outbreak was first reported. In recent months over seven hundred Chinese Muslims have been welcomed for study at the al-Mustafa International University, a seminary in Qom dedicated to international students.
While other countries suspended flights to and from China after reports of the Wuhan virus outbreak, Iran refused to halt its air services. More and more Chinese Muslim students and businessmen poured into Iran principally through Mahan Air, a “private” air carrier owned by the IRGC. For the sake of profit in an economically-strapped regime, the IRGC has continued to fly both passenger and cargo jets to and from four cities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou [Canton] and Shenzhen) in complete disdain for the health and safety of Iran’s citizens. Not surprisingly, Qom became the first internal epicenter of Iran’s Coronavirus epidemic. And because it is one of the most famous pilgrimage cities in Iran, it served as the infection center for all Iran (and many other countries with Shi’ite populations) as pilgrims returned home from visiting Qom’s religious shrines. Iran is fast becoming the Typhoid Mary of nations as to date at least fifteen nearby countries have traced the Coronavirus infection to travelers arriving from Iran.
Only recently have the mullahs suspended Friday mosque prayers and encouraged citizens to stay home if possible. They continue to lie about the extent of the crisis, forbidding any reports of actual numbers of deaths from morgues and city officials under the justification of “national security.” Sadly, the Supreme Leader and his loyal bureaucrats show greater anxiety over the spread of the truth than they do over the spread of the virus. The government continues to release official virus-related death tolls, but nobody takes them seriously. As of today, March 12th, the number stands at 429. But the main opposition party, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) or the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), cites figures gathered from on-the-ground reporting in each of Iran’s thirty-one provinces. Their assessment is that as of today, virus-related deaths tallied from 160 cities/towns stands at over 3650. Given that the total global death toll (including Iran’s bogus official figures) is estimated at around 4200, this would mean that if the MEK’s figures are accurate, almost as many people have died in Iran to date as in the rest of the world. Even scarier, best estimates are that the epidemic in Iran won’t peak for at least two more weeks. Some medical experts are predicting that the city of Tehran with a population of around ten million will experience an infection rate of 40%. It’s not hard to understand the outrage building in the hearts of the Persian people toward their culpable and appalling political/religious leaders. Graffiti popping up on walls in the capital city sum this up well: “Khamenei, the sinister mullah, you are the coronavirus!”
Finally, Iran’s already-reeling economy has been dealt what may be a death blow. Earlier this week, as Russia and Saudi Arabia failed to reach an agreement on oil production limits, the Saudis vowed to increase production imminently. That led oil market prices to plummet immediately by 30%. Iran’s economy, even under strict international sanctions, relies heavily on oil sales. Such a huge drop in its oil income can only make a dire situation worse.
No one can predict with certainty when the Iranian theocracy will fall, but there is no question that the Persian people are seething like magma under intense pressure, gathering strength for an impending eruption. The mullahs are using everything at their disposal to stifle this unrest, but their resources are trifling in the face of scores of millions of insurgents. The fall of the mullahs is inevitable. The only question is: How soon?
One of the dangers of being recognized as an expert at something is that it becomes easy to believe your press clippings and then become lazy. Instead of continuing to press deeper into your field, you rely on your past knowledge and experience when dealing with the public. Most of the time, they never know the difference because your wealth of background on the subject far outweighs theirs. But sooner or later, if this mental laziness continues, it will one day show up in our work and at the very least leave us red-faced; even worse it may call into question our credentials as “go-to” consultants.
This week an opinion piece appeared in the “Faith and Values” section of Fox News Online. Entitled, Jonathan Morris: My Favorite Bible Verse, it piqued my interest. Jonathan Morris is a former Roman Catholic priest who voluntarily demitted his ordination last year.
For a number of years, he served as a consultant on religious matters for various Fox News Channel evening programs. I’ve always enjoyed his measured and balanced commentary, even when he had to dance carefully around controversial Vatican matters. So when I saw his piece promising to reveal his favorite Bible verse, I was intrigued.
He begins by throwing a bit of cold water on the whole practice of choosing favorite verses, arguing insightfully that the Scriptures are meant to be read and understood as a whole. To single out an individual verse for inordinate attention can skew our receptivity to the “whole counsel of God”, to use the words of the apostle Paul (Acts 20:27).
With this caveat in mind, he proceeds to acknowledge that there are a few verses that stand out for him, none more so than one which has guided him in this last year of “major life change” – Romans 12;2. It reads:
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Morris rightly sees that this verse is concerned with discernment – discovering in the midst of the sculpting powers of an anti-God world how we can find the right path prescribed by our Heavenly Father. The key, of course, is by intentionally resisting the pressure to conform to the patterns of the world around us, and instead to surrender our thoughts and desires to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit in tandem with the Word of God.
I believe that Morris has rightly captured the central meaning of this text. We are called to a supernatural transformation. But here our expert mischaracterizes (or undersells) the extent of this spiritual work. He writes:
“Transformation” is a strong word. The original Greek word for transformation is “metanoia,” meaning existential conversion. This spiritual conversion is not about changing our behavior out of shame or guilt. Conversion is a decision of the will to turn away from sin, do an about face, and walk toward God who is calling.
As an expert who quotes the “original Greek,” we are supposed to trust what he tells us. Unfortunately, in this case, Morris neglected to look at the Greek text of Romans 12:2, and apparently assumed he knew what word Paul was using to convey the idea of “transformation.” The word “metanoia” indeed means “repentance” or more literally” a “change of mind,” and can be construed as a kind of conversion. But it is too small a word to convey what Paul means here.
How do we know that? Because the Greek word that Paul actually uses is “metamorphousesthe”, from which root (metamorpho-) we get the noun “metamorphosis” in English.
The transformation Paul envisions is much like that envisioned by the use of the word metamorphosis in describing the process of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. “Metanoia” would describe the caterpillar’s decision to no longer think of itself as a caterpillar but now as a butterfly. “Metamorphosis” describes the caterpillars actual transition internally and externally from life as a caterpillar to life as a butterfly. It is a much more powerful word in this context than “metanoia.”
So, Paul’s exhortation to the Romans (indeed to all Christians) is that we not let the world shape us externally into its own mold (all the while achieving no positive result in changing our inner being – the Old Adam) but instead that we invite God to transform us from the inside out – to make us new creatures who resemble and reflect the New Adam, Jesus Christ. In this way, we will develop the spiritual faculties needed to rightly discern and enact God’s will for our lives.
Jonathan Morris is a smart man. It is no surprise that many turn to him as an expert on Christian matters. But in this instance, he is guilty of intellectual laziness. It is never a good idea to put in print something that exposes one’s ignorance, especially when that ignorance could have been avoided simply by doing a bit of exegetical work. Morris apparently fell into the trap of which we are all in danger – assuming that since we know more than the people we are teaching, we can skip the intellectual labor of preparation and just shoot from the hip. Many times that works out okay, even though we are robbing ourselves and our audience of deeper learning. But sometimes we are caught up short, revealing to the world that we have not done our homework.
Bluffing our way to an answer may be okay on a seventh grade short essay exam, but it fails miserably when presenting ourselves as experts in our chosen field of study or accomplishment. I still plan to read Jonathan Morris for the foreseeable future, praying this was just a one-time lapse. And I will take to heart this message personally, when I am called upon to offer whatever expertise I may be qualified to exercise on behalf of others. Experts, whatever your field — do your homework!
The recent elimination of Qassem Suleimani has unwittingly brought into sharp relief the contrast between Muslim and non-Muslim worldviews, or more specifically between Shi’ite and non-Shi’ite visions of right and wrong.
No one outside of Iran and its proxy Shi’ite terror wings has had anything good to say about Suleimani — even China, Russia, EU hard lefties, and leaders of the Sunni Muslim world have been noticeably silent, or in the case of many Sunnis, have openly celebrated his removal from this world.
Even U.S. Democratic leaders have managed, perhaps reluctantly, to admit that Iran’s General over the Quds Force (the primary delivery vehicle of Iran’s foreign terrorism support and activity around the world) was a bad man, before they moved quickly on to skewer the President for taking unilateral action and leading America into World War III. Cory Booker acknowledged that he had American blood on his hands. Christ Murphy described him as an enemy of the U.S. who deserved to die. Elizabeth Warren labeled Suleimani a “murderer” before walking that back under pressure from “woke” lefties. Joe Biden was muted in his timid assessment: “No American will mourn Qassem Suleimani’s passing.” Even Adam Schiff weighed in with a tweet: “Suleimani was responsible for unthinkable violence and the world is better off without him.” While the Democratic leadership made clear they did not mourn his death, they pilloried Trump for his unilateral decision to end Suleimani’s life and career. 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have monochromatically declared in unison that they would never have given approval for this mission had they been in charge.
Republican leaders, on the other hand, have been uniformly aglow in response to the news, and generally supportive of the President’s bold decision. Secretary Pompeo spoke of “Suleimani the terrorist” and the need to end his activities; Lindsey Graham labeled him a “terrorist thug” who needed to be taken out; former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley remarked, “This man had evil in his veins.” Tom Cotton concluded that the Quds Commander “…got what he richly deserved.” Even Mitt Romney, no fan of the President, labeled Suleimani a “depraved terrorist.” Conservative commentators were equally unrestrained in their assessment. According to Ollie North, Suleimani was a “purveyor of terrorism.” And Sean Hannity was not to be outdone: Suleimani was “…one of the most ruthless, evil war criminals on earth. Evil personified; an evil monster.”
On the other hand, the response of Iran’s mullahs, military and media, as well as of other Shi’ite leaders in the region, has been to lionize Suleimani as a matchless, almost divine military figure. Iran’s Defense Minister, Gen. Amir Hatami, noted that America’s “criminal attack” had transformed “…the hero of the struggle against terrorism into a martyr.” The IRGC spokesman referred to Suleimani as “the proud commander of the armies of Islam.” When news of the operation reached Iran, announcement was made in a mosque in the midst of an imam’s sermon in Tehran, at which point numerous men began weeping. The imam declared, “A dear and great man has won martyrdom.” In a paroxysm of hyperbole, he went on to paint the brutal general as “an agent of unity” between Shi’ites and Sunnis, between Muslims and Christians, and between Muslims and Jews. (Many in the crowd looked up rather quizzically at these obvious falsehoods). On Iranian TV (IRINN), the official government statement declared, “He hastened to meet with his Creator, grateful for years of jihad that were full of pride and honor.” Another reporter affirmed that Suleimani had attained martyrdom, and was a “great and divine man.” But the most picturesque assessment of Suleimani and contemporaneous insult of Trump and his administration came from Hassan Nasrallah, head of the terrorist organization Hezbollah: “Qassem Suleimani’s shoe [in Arab culture, the shoe in such a context is an item of derision and ignominy] is worth the heads of Trump and all the American leaders.”
While this difference in assessment comes as no surprise, it highlights the irreconcilable hostility between Muslim and Western worldviews. Suleimani serves as the focal point for assessing the values of Shi’ite Islam over against Western principles. For the Shi’ite Muslim world, Suleimani’s life and work represent the highest achievements to which a Muslim could aspire. For over thirty years he engaged in what Islam’s prophet Muhammad called the work most prized by Allah: jihad. This Muhammad clearly defined as fighting the enemies of Allah so as to killed and be killed in his service. The Qur’an lays out with clarity the contract that Allah makes with his followers:
•”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. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah ? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.” (9:111)
[As an aside, this passage in the Qur’an makes a libelous claim against the Bible, asserting that this same “jihadi contract” is found in the Torah (Pentateuch) and Gospel (i.e., New Testament). Can one imagine Jesus saying, “Do you want to get to heaven? Then kill and be killed for the sake of My Father, and you will inherit virgins, wealth and pleasures beyond your dreams….”]
For the mullahs and their minions, Suleimani was Allah’s warrior par excellence, having maimed or killed multiple thousands of infidels as well as hypocrites (false Muslims, including all those Sunnis who oppose the Shi’ite world, especially the nation of Iran). His death is a great blow to the ongoing jihad operations of Iran’s theocracy, but it is also an opportunity to laud his martyrdom as a means to further indoctrinate impressionable Muslim youth with the vision that their own deaths in furthering the murder and mayhem of the Islamic Republic will result in their own immediate transport to the highest heaven where they can plunge for all eternity into the fullness of sensual pleasures they never even imagined possible on earth.
For them as for Suleimani, Hellfire missiles from America are heaven-sent, according to the imams. A moment of immolation for an eternity of bliss.
Why? Because for Allah there is nothing more important than the subjugation or destruction of all his enemies. Islam must cover the earth so that Allah’s supremacy will never again be challenged. Democracy, freedom of religion, equality of the sexes, free expression, eradication of slavery, and all other practices that oppose Shari’a are to be eliminated from the face of the earth. Those who serve Allah unabashedly in this bloody cause will earn his highest rewards. Hence, Suleimani is pictured by Shi’ite clergy as being feted in highest heaven by Allah. His place of honor rivals that of Muhammad, ‘Ali, Husain and the other celebrated Imams of Shi’ite Islam.
Western civilization rests on the recognition of “unalienable” human rights granted by the Creator who made humankind in “His image and likeness”, thereby endowing every person with inextinguishable dignity and honor recognized in rights and freedoms to be acknowledged by all. These of course include the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as what we find in the Bill of Rights of the U. S. Constitution or in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Not surprisingly, the Muslim-majority nations of the world have rejected the UDHR as incompatible with Shari’a, and some forty-two years after that Universal Declaration came up with their own statement, known as the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, which begins with high-sounding rhetoric but ends by saying that any implied human rights and freedoms which conflict with Shari’a are null and void.
The blood, sweat and tears of many American and Allied soldiers have been shed in defense of human rights. Freedom from slavery to totalitarian regimes, freedom to worship according to one’s conscience, the right to voice one’s own convictions openly, recognition of equality of the races and the sexes, these are all fundamental rights for which Western societies have gone to the mat. Qassem Suleimani proved himself an enemy to these principles as he conducted Islam’s jihad against the non-Muslim world, principally the West.
Hence, the unbridgeable gulf between Western and Islamic thought, and between Western and Shi’ite assessments of Qassem Suleimani. What lesson must we learn from this ideological chasm? The answer is: There is no way to reconcile the principles of Western civilization with the jihadi dogmas of Islam. If we are to find an accommodation between Islam and the West, it will only happen either as the West surrenders its allegiance to universal human rights (may that never happen) or as Islam disavows any present and future commitment to jihad and its derivative practices (which will never happen as the teachings of jihad are woven into the very design of the Qur’an, which according to Islam can never be changed).
The reactions to Qassem Suleimani’s death worldwide serve as testimony to the fact that two mutually incompatible worldviews are at war ideologically today. They are not the only worldviews clashing on the global stage at present, but because of Islam’s hunger for supremacy and penchant for violence this clash has the potential to become the most incendiary in the near future.
One last word, concerning the fact that Sunni Muslim governments and leaders have been either silent or exultant over Suleimani’s elimination by the United States’ military. Because of the hatred between Sunnis and Shi’ites politically and theologically, the perceived weakening of Iran’s projection of power beyond its borders through the death of the Quds Force commander is celebrated by Sunni countries in the region. But happiness over Suleimani’s death by Sunnis should not be taken to mean that they abjure the call to jihad against the enemies of Islam. Though they have a different agenda than that of Iran’s theocracy, Sunni leaders equally seek to undermine Western civilization with the goal of it submitting to Islamic rule. Instead of asymmetric warfare as practiced by Iran, the Sunni countries have opted by and large for the strategy of infiltrating the West, in three principal ways: 1) they are sending refugees and immigrants to the West in significant numbers, urging them to settle and multiply by high birthrate; 2) by committing petrodollars in huge amounts to the building of mosques and “learning centers” throughout the West and staffing them with Wahhabi-trained imams; 3) by wooing universities and think tanks with significant dollars so as to establish propaganda centers within the elite establishments of cultural influence, pumping out for popular consumption the lie that Islam is a religion of peace which seeks to coexist in and benefit Western civilization. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Washington Post has unwittingly demonstrated the truth that Islam is not a religion of peace, a message it has been loath to acknowledge.
Yesterday, it carried the obituary of self-styled ISIS Caliph Ibrahim, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, under this original headline: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State’s ‘terrorist-in-chief,’ dies at 48. Inexplicably, a few hours later, it revised the headline to read, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State, dies at 48. After unremitting sarcasm on Twitter and other social media sites, the Post editors reconsidered again and ran the obituary under a third headline: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, extremist leader of Islamic State, dies at 48.
So, which was he? An austere religious scholar or the terrorist-in-chief extremist leader of the most vicious and diabolical terror organization in modern history? The answer is, both.
This does not sit well with most Westerners, who think of austere religious scholars as those locked away harmlessly in monasteries or ivory towers minding their own business among ancient, dusty tomes, having nothing to do with beheadings, rapes, torture, slavery and the leading of totalitarian conquests on bloody battlefields. In none of the major world faiths are religious scholars linked with the vile behaviors associated with terrorism — except Islam. Why?
Because Muhammad, the founder of Islam, was both the leading teacher of Islam, as its prophet, and the preeminent exponent of violent conquest (jihad), as the ruthless leader of its armies. Since in the Qur’an Allah highlights Muhammad as an Uswa hasana (excellent example) to be followed by all who wish to curry divine favor, and since Islam honors him with the title al-Insan al-Kamil (which translates roughly as “the perfect man”), Muslims strive to shape their lives according to his model.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took this to heart, and became a scholar-terrorist in the mould of his hero. There is no question that in the eyes of the Islamic world he was a true religious scholar — he obtained his B.A., Masters degree and Ph.D. in Islamic studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad.
Few Muslims have studied their religion with the rigor and verve evidenced by al-Baghdadi. There is also no question that this man pursued jihad and ran a massive jihadi terror group strictly according to the example of Muhammad as found in the Qur’an, Hadith traditions, early Muslim biographies of the prophet, and the rulings of official Islamic law, the Shari’a. One might say he was the paragon of Islamic scholar-terrorists, a chip off the prophetic block.
The Post obituary described al-Baghdadi’s influence thusly: ” During his tenure, the Islamic State would come to mirror its leader: a messianic figure drawn to the harshest interpretations of Islamic texts and seized with the conviction that all dissenters should be put to death. But this is only a superficial analysis. The fact is that ISIS came to mirror its leader in all its gory, religiously-inspired evil, only because its leader was mirroring the founder of Islam, who among other depravities commanded infidels to be beheaded, approved and participated in the enslavement of others, authorized his marauders to rape captive women, ordered the assassination of foes whose mockery got under his skin, threatened recalcitrant soldiers with eternal hellfire if they refused jihad assignments, declared proudly, “I have been made victorious through terror,” and so much more.
The Washington Post wanted to hide these realities from its audience by originally trying to portray Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as a harmless “religious scholar”, no doubt assuming its readers would supply a Westernized mental stereotype. The blowback, however, was so fierce that they were forced to acknowledge the obscene truth that this Islamic scholar was also the murderous, salacious, uber-iniquitous leader of ISIS, the terrorist horde modeled on the life and teachings of the Arabian prophet Muhammad.
In calling Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “an austere religious scholar” as well as “extremist leader of [the] Islamic State”, the Washington Post implicitly acknowledges that the terrorist organization in question was firmly guided by one immersed to the highest degree in the heart of Islamic thought. As such, one is led to conclude by the successive titles of al-Baghdadi’s obituary that the Washington Post seems to have discovered that Islam is not after all a religion of peace. Would it be too much to hope that their future reporting on Islam will be objective and truthful in pointing out the jihadi, supremacist elements woven into the core of Islamic thought? Probably. But hope springs eternal.
Turkey’s recent, illegal incursion into Syria has as its principal goal the extermination of Syrian Kurds as well as the potential annexation of Syrian land to serve as a Kurdish-free buffer zone for the indefinite future. In the process of this attack on the Kurds, it is likely that, whether intentional or not, large numbers of ISIS prisoners under the watch of largely Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces will break free from incarceration in the midst of the chaos created by Turkish aggression. Already close to 1,000 of a total numbering around 10,000 ISIS prisoners and family members, have fled camps abandoned by their Kurdish guards.
This has led some U.S. politicians, in the midst of hand-wringing over how “America has abandoned its allies, the Kurds,” to raise the additional specter that President Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria will lead to the reconstitution of ISIS as a terrorist force in the region. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R) is one such voice. Interviewed on The Story with Martha McCallum, he declared:
“The president keeps saying we’ve won this war against ISIS. We certainly have not won the war against ISIS. We’ve made gains.”
In response to McCallum’s question “For how long are we going to stay there [in Syria]?”, Kinzinger opined:
“You asked the question about ‘How long.” It’s a good question. But the problem is that’s not a choice that we can make. It’s not the choice of the United States [that] determines how long we’re going to fight terrorism. It’s a decision the terrorists make because they determine if they’re going to kill innocent people, they’re gonna reach out again to the United States to strike here. I wish they didn’t believe this stuff. I wish we didn’t have to fight them….I wish this was all over, but it’s not our choice.”
The President is right that the Islamic State caliphate has been demolished, and in that sense ISIS has been defeated. But Rep. Kinzinger is correct that ISIS is still alive and could regain its former momentum. The problem is they both are dealing with symptoms rather than with the cause.
For the President, ISIS is a hornet that keeps buzzing around the patio table at lunch, bothering the guests. He rolls up a newspaper, swats it soundly and declares proudly, “It’s dead. You’re safe.” Kinzinger is not so sure. The seemingly lifeless hornet needs to be beaten repeatedly, and we need to be on the alert, for other hornets will not be far off . “We have to stay in this swatting contest until the hornets decide they don’t want our food. I wish they didn’t like our lunch, I wish this was all over, but it’s not our choice.”
The problem is, neither the President nor the Congressman (nor most other politicians and pundits, for that matter) is looking for the nest from which the hornets continue to be hatched and sent. Until the nest is found and destroyed, the incursions will continue. What Western leaders desperately need to understand is that ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and its brood of viper organizations, al-Qaeda, AQAP, al-Shabaab, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, the IRGC, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Abu Sayyaf and scores of other Muslim jihadi groups are only symptoms, not the source. They are merely angry hornets, looking for whomever they can sting, but destroying them will not rid the world of Islamic terrorism. To do that, we must destroy the nest which endlessly produces them.
That nest is the ideology of core Islam, i.e., the Islam of Muhammad as taught in its source materials: the Qur’an, the Hadith and the Sira (early biographies) of Muhammad.
Found prominently in all three is the directive that Muslims are to channel all their energies and resources into conquering the world for Allah and his religion. They are to use force, as necessary, to bring all human beings into subjection to Allah. This is the primary Qur’anic meaning of the well-known term “jihad.” Westernized Muslims often object to the translation “holy war”, and I would agree with them. There is nothing holy about jihad — but it is nevertheless a religiously mandated war against all unbelievers. Let’s just call it “religious war.”
The jihadi mindset is an inherent part of Muhammad’s Islam. Any neutral observer, reading Islam’s source materials, would come inevitably to this conclusion. And it is this reality, and only this reality, that can explain why Islam’s 1400 year history across the globe leaves a copious trail of blood in its wake, as Robert Spencer’s comprehensive work, The History of Jihad from Muhammad to Isis irrefutably demonstrates. Why is deadly violence associated so readily with Islam as compared with any other world religion? Because only in Islam is violence against unbelievers the unremitting divine command until the end of time.
We should not be surprised, then, that as the Muslim world perceives itself to be growing in strength vis-a-vis its enemies (i.e., all who refuse to bow before it), it is increasingly willing to flex its muscles in strategic, as well as desultory, acts of violence. Since al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks just over eighteen years ago, self-professing Muslims have been responsible for at least 35,800 deadly terrorist incidents. These reflect Muhammad’s own dictum, “I have been made victorious with terror” (Bukhari, 4.52.220), which in turn acknowledges the six places in the Qur’an where Allah reveals that he casts terror into the hearts of Muhammad’s opponents (often through his followers) to defeat them (3.151; 8.12-13, 59-60; 33.25-27; 59.2, 13).
The real enemy, then, is the nest of jihadi ideology inherent within core Islam, and not simply the individual hornets birthed through this ideology. Each jihadi group gains its strength and purpose through this ideology. When the ideology is defeated, these groups lose their steam and aspirations.
The question which should be at the heart of our nation’s counter-terrorism activities is: What does it take to defeat an ideology? Naturally, one must know that ideology well to craft a successful strategy. Core Islam teaches that the flag of Allah and his prophet will inevitably fly over all the world and will be evidenced by the subjugation of all people according to the exercise of Shari’a through one Caliphate, under Allah’s appointed earthly ruler. Jihadis are taught to believe that since their cause is righteous, Allah will always grant them victory. They are servants in his cause, loving what he loves and hating what he hates (this is known in Islamic circles as the oath of al-wala’ w’al-bara’ (loving what pleases Allah and opposing all that displeases him). Since Islam’s Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing, nothing can thwart his will. Islam must win over every foe. What then does it take to defeat the jihadi ideology of core Islam?
Extreme power. Shock and awe kind of power. While it is true that military might can never defeat an ideology in and of itself, when that ideology depends upon the fiction that it is invincible, the use of unmatched force against enemy combatants so as to eradicate their vaunted assets goes a long way to undermining their confidence in their ideology. Militant Muslims are quick to shout “Allahu akbar!”, when firing their weapons or slicing the heads off their bound captives. By this they mean, “Our god is greater than whatever your god, or whatever you believe in.” But when their armies are pulverized, and their conquests are taken from them, the roar of Allahu akbar becomes a soft meow. Likewise, when ISIS was moving unopposed from victory to victory in Iraq and Syria, its call for recruits elicited huge response from Muslims around the world. But as soon as it became clear that ISIS could not withstand the might of first-world military forces, and especially as it was routed from its self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa, the flow of recruits dried up. For a religion based on power and victory, weakness and defeat are hard to swallow.
Demonstration of the deficiencies of Islam. Since jihadi ideology stems from the belief that Islam is Allah’s final and perfect revelation and thus is to be established as the only acceptable religion everywhere in the world (” And fight them until there is no fitnah [i.e., opposition] and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah — Qur’an 8.39), any arguments which demonstrate the defects of the religion of Islam (which Allah in the Qur’an declared perfect — “Today I have perfected for you your religion…” 5.3) begin to undermine the jihadi’s confidence in his ideology. Granted, this war of ideas may take a long time to bear fruit, but the truth will ultimately overwhelm even entrenched ignorance. Those working to defeat the ideology of core Islam must point out the defects of Islam in at least the following areas:
a) Moral corruption — How can one worship a god who takes delight in punishing those who reject him with hellish horrors beyond the imagination of most human beings? How can one believe in a god who permits sex slavery, rape after battles, raiding and pillaging of non-combatants’ property, killing or ransoming captives, the inequality of women, polygamy, etc.? How can one follow a prophet who admits he mistook the whispers of Satan for the voice of his god, or who claims his god gave him special privileges to marry as many women as he found desirable, or who married and forced himself on his 9-year-old “bride”? How can one respect a prophet so thin-skinned that when mocked by unbelieving poets, he directed that they be assassinated by his devotees? And this is only the beginning of what can be dredged up from early Muslim sources.
b) Logical inconsistencies — The Qur’an insists that its revelation goes hand in glove with the Old and New Testaments, since it claims that its god is the same as the God of the Bible. And yet its teachings are fundamentally at odds with earlier Scripture. Muhammad was told by Allah and in turn told his listeners if they had any questions over his recitations, he/they should go the “people of the Book” [i.e., the Jews and Christians] for clarification. Muhammad apparently believed the Bible and the Qur’an were in perfect harmony. Only after his death, when his community spread far beyond Arabia, did his followers discover the huge contrasts between Bible and Qur’an, and devise an explanation that Christians and Jews had corrupted their original teachings (though they could never produce any evidence for this absurd claim). Muslims believe the Qur’an to be perfectly transmitted from the mouth of the angel Gabriel through Muhammad to the pens of his scribes such that no mistakes could creep into the Qur’an, which has been perfectly preserved to this present time. But, according to Islamic history, the Qur’an was not even collected as a codex or manuscript until at least twenty years after the death of Muhammad. The existence of early manuscripts which differ in detail from the “authorized version” of Caliph Uthman demonstrate that there were rival versions of the Qur’an, thereby undercutting the claim of a perfectly preserved and transmitted revelation from Allah.
c) Historical horrors — Since al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks on America in 2001, there have now been over 35,800 documented, deadly terrorist attacks around the world by self-described Muslims. But even these pale in comparison to the wholesale slaughter of non-Muslims (as well as those deemed “insufficiently or incorrectly Muslim”) by successive caliphates and Muslim empires over the last 1400 years. Estimates put the numbers slain across the globe at around 270 million. While this number must be taken with a grain of salt, there is no question that Muslim historical sources boast of butchery and carnage in the millions over the course of individual jihadi campaigns in Asia, Africa, Europe and India over the centuries. The recent atrocities of the ISIS caliphate are one mere cel in the long and repulsive movie reel of Islamic rule since the time of Muhammad.
d) The many imperfections of the Qur’an — one of the two justifications for the legitimacy of Islam is the purported revelation of the Qur’an as the perfect and unchanged words of Allah, delivered through Muhammad to his followers without error and copied faithfully such that today’s Qur’an is exactly what it was when first gathered. Muslim historical sources, however, make clear that there never was an “original” Qur’an, and that there were many rival versions in the early caliphate until Caliph ‘Uthman standardized one version and ordered all others to be burned. Even after this, some Muslims complained that certain suras had been left out, or added, or otherwise edited. On top of this, the Qur’an, supposedly written in “pure” Arabic, contains many grammatical errors and anomalies, and hundreds of loan words from other languages. One wonders why Allah, from eternity, would have had to borrow words from other languages to reveal his will to Arabs living in the 7th Century. Perhaps Arabic was not his first language….Add to this this the numerous historical errors (e.g., naming one of Pharaoh’s advisers Haman, the Persian name of the vizier of Ahasuerus, some thousand years after the time of Moses, on another continent; the confusion of the person of Mary (Mariam in Arabic) the mother of Jesus with Mariam the sister of Aaron and Moses, thought they lived some 1500 years apart), and the embarrassing “scientific claims” (such as the sun setting in a muddy pool in the west, and the confused stages of fetal development in the womb), and one is left with serious questions about the claim to divine authorship of Islam’s preeminent source of revelation.
e) Theological blunders — The Qur’an claims (9.30) that Jews believe Ezra to be the Son of God (in much the same way as Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God), though there is no literary evidence to document this. Additionally, the Jesus of the Qur’an claims to bring “good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad” (61.6). Unfortunately for Islam, though Muslims have combed Old and New Testaments, there is no evidence to support such a “prophecy”. Further, the Qur’an has Allah saying that his revelation is given to Muhammad to confirm his prior revelation to the people of the Book (i.e., the Bible), but then the Qur’an later contradicts some of the central teachings of the New Testament (e.g., the sonship and divinity of Jesus, God’s trinitarian nature, the death of Christ on a cross, and the atonement). The Muslim answer to this is that Christians tampered with the biblical text to contradict the Qur’an, but there are a slew of New Testament manuscripts that predate the existence of the Qur’an, and all of them agree on these central teachings of the Christian faith. Islam puts itself in an untenable position: in order to gain theological legitimacy, it must attach itself in a parasitic way to the Bible; but then in order to distinguish itself as the true religion, it must deny the heart of the Bible in order to glorify Muhammad and his message.
f) Sociological realities — Allah claims in the Qur’an that the Muslim community is the “best of all peoples” and that disbelievers are “the vilest of creatures.” One would expect then that over centuries of time the Muslim world would demonstrate its vaunted superiority over non-Muslims sociologically. The world’s population should be flocking to the Muslim world in order to benefit from life among the best of all peoples. Yet, what do we find? Millions upon millions of Muslims are desperate to emigrate from the 56 Muslim-majority nations of the world to make their homes instead in the West, preeminently in the USA. A brief glance at sociological statistics shows Muslim nations to be consistently at the back of the pack when it comes to education, economic standard of living, health care, working conditions, freedom of expression, religious freedom, sexual equality, humane treatment of prisoners, advancement of the arts and sciences, and so on. Measured by such a set of standards, Islam can be said to have done little or nothing to advance the cause of humanity, and indeed to have contributed instead to the deterioration of the human condition.
No doubt there are many other deficiencies which should be explored, but this is sufficient to make the point that the ideology of core Islam is riddled with problems that must be exposed.
Presentation of Preferred Ideologies. In the final analysis, people are rarely willing to jettison a life-defining ideology until they have something better to replace it. When it comes to the ideology of Islam, the West offers two possibilities which surpass jihadism. The first is Enlightenment secularism, which champions humanism and supports the freedom and rights of all human beings, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” A life of freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and other like documents makes for a society where human beings can decide for themselves what pursuits to prioritize. The secular West must do all it can to reclaim its lofty Enlightenment ideals, and to paint an attractive picture to disaffected Muslims of what a better life can look like when they exit Islam. The second is the Christian faith, which replaces a god of hate and violence with the God of love, which commands self-sacrifice on behalf of others rather than jihad against enemies, which reveals a divine savior who dies for human beings rather than a god commanding human beings to die for him. As millions of Muslims have discovered, their religious longings, never fulfilled under the harsh rules of Islam, are met in the good news of a God who draws them in love to Himself, and who promises eternal life to those who follow the way of Jesus. The Church must recapture her first love for Jesus Christ, and in joyful obedience to him must share the gospel lovingly with Muslims wherever we can meet and befriend them.
In the end, the problem of Islamic terrorism will not subside until one of two futures is realized: either Islam conquers all enemies and reigns globally, or the ideology of Muhammad’s Islam is debunked and derided for the evil it has spawned.
My personal belief is that secularism is not up to the task, because by its very nature it has no universally-accepted foundation upon which to appeal for the “unalienable rights” of humanity. It cannot speak of a divinely-mandated morality, nor of a human nature deserving dignity and honor because of having been created in the image of God. In the end, it must rest on a utilitarian plea that if we all just treat each kindly, human society will flourish. Or in the words of the song recorded by Sam Cooke in 1960:
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me too,
What a wonderful world this would be.
Nice sentiments, but hardly substantial enough upon which to build an enduring worldview of humane and equal treatment. Western secularism has endured to this point by living off the fumes of a Christian anthropology, understanding human beings to be a special creation of God, endowed with rights and protections precisely because of having been created in His image and likeness. As we have seen in the last century, as the West has retreated from this conviction and replaced it increasingly with the impersonal and naturalistic view of evolution, human beings become merely the result of random causation and as such have no special standing or purpose in the world. One day, secularism will collapse on itself, when it can no longer ride on the coattails of a religiously-inspired morality.
Christianity, on the other hand, is a full-bodied worldview that, unlike secularism and Islam, describes human beings as those created in the image and likeness of God, unique from all other earthly creatures, and uniquely capable of walking with God and each other in love. The Christian faith as an ideology is as a result uniquely suited to effectively counter the jihadi ideology of Muslims committed to the Islam of Muhammad.
Hence, if governments will use military, economic and diplomatic force as appropriate to decimate jihadis and their supporters, and if those who know the deficiencies of Islam will speak and teach boldly so as to inculcate deserved doubt in the hearts and minds of devotees of Muhammad, and if Christians will rise up to fearlessly proclaim the gospel and live it out as they befriend Muslim neighbors and colleagues and as they support mission efforts in Muslim countries around the world, the nest of jihadi ideology will finally be exterminated. It won’t happen overnight, but the solution is within our grasp, if we want it.
In December 2016 the San Diego City Council approved its Smart Streetlights Program. Originally envisioned as a way to save energy costs by switching from high energy bulbs to LED streetlights that can be programmed and managed individually from a central software platform, this system when fully installed will save the city a minimum of $125,000 per month.
The 8,000 new streetlights should be in place by the summer of 2020. In addition, 4,200 of these locations will also carry CityIQ sensor nodes containing cameras, gunshot detection and environmental data collection capabilities (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure). These sensors are being installed primarily in downtown and heavily trafficked areas.
According to the city, the purpose of these sensor nodes is to monitor traffic flow, parking availability, and pedestrian traffic so as to assist programmers in efficient planning for the future. Additionally, they provide coverage in high-density public areas to assist authorities in solving crimes caught on camera.
Some groups are raising privacy concerns. Chief among them is CAIR’s San Diego chapter. CAIR is a Muslim activist organization keen on using the legal system (or simply the threat of lawsuits) to advance the cause of Islam in America. It is quick to play the victim card, portraying Muslims as innocent targets of bigotry, hate crimes or even government oppression. In this case, CAIR – San Diego claims that the City of San Diego has purposely placed these sensors close to mosques so as to monitor them illegally and gather data on the activities of Muslims in the area.
On September 15th (and updated on the 19th), Dustin Craun, Executive Director of CAIR San Diego, wrote an article with the rather incendiary and misleading title, San Diego Streetlights Target Communities of Color in Unprecedented use of Technology in the United States. It’s misleading because other cities are also moving toward “smart streetlights” (Cleveland, Philadelphia and Atlanta are three cities already using or budgeting for this technology presently) and so such usage is not unprecedented, and it is incendiary because there is no evidence of racism (targeting communities of color) in the article, nor is there any concern for such communities per se, only for those attending the 11 mosques within city limits.
Craun produces street maps showing where updated streetlights and/or sensors are being deployed in relation to mosque locations, claiming that the mosques are being targeted for surveillance. The facts do not back his claims.
Of the eleven mosques, eight are more than 200 feet (some more than 600 feet) from any sensor. Two are over 100 feet from a sensor, and only one looks to be within 100 feet of a sensor. This is important information to know because the city specifications note that a sensor’s cameras can only record over an oval area of some 120 to 180 feet around the sensor, enough to cover intersections, parking and pedestrian movements in affected areas. (This means that locations more than 90 feet from a sensor are beyond its reach.) Additionally, the cameras are fixed, having no pan, tilt or zoom capabilities. Further, the system is equipped with software that automatically blocks private property from view. Lastly, the software contains no license plate reader or facial recognition capabilities. All data recorded remains in the camera’s local memory for 5 days before being erased. In case of crime, police must request camera data within that period, or it is irretrievable.
At most, one mosque might be within the video reach of a CityIQ sensor, but since all private property is automatically obscured by the operative software, the mosque would be blacked out onscreen.
None of this matters to Dustin Craun, who bemoans the fact that Muslims are targeted for surveillance far more frequently than any other group in America. He never bothers to ask the question why this might be. Instead, he assumes a conspiracy of hatred, ignorance and bigotry on the part of the U.S. and local governments intended to harrass and demean Muslims. Even though he knows that the facts do not support his claims of “counter-intelligence surveillance”, Craun continues to promote the lie that Muslims in San Diego are innocent and helpless victims of an antagonistic Big Brother bureaucracy. He writes:
When asked about who designed this platform and why they would be surrounding the majority of the Mosques in the city, the cities [sic] sustainability department and police department would not answer this question.
Perhaps this is because they were dumbfounded by a question with no objective basis in reality — those departments never considered the location of the mosques in the planning process, but made their determinations based on major intersections, traffic flow, pedestrian safety and high crime locations. Craun, however, is convinced that mosque surveillance is at the top of the city’s list of concerns.
In a news clip provided by News8 San Diego, Craun is recorded on camera saying the following [picks up at 1:21 into the clip]:
They can look at every car that enters, everyone that enters and leaves those mosques. They can create data, profiles about our populations, about who’s at our mosques most frequently.
That last sentence was of particular interest to me: “They can create data, profiles…about who’s at our mosques most frequently.” Why should frequency of mosque attendance be of particular concern to authorities? And why would Craun mention this (I assume naively)? Because Craun knows what law enforcement agencies know, that increasing frequency of mosque attendance is a common sign of developing radicalization. Not all frequent attenders turn out to be terrorists in the making, but all Islamic terrorists grow in their radicalism by spending as much time as they can at the mosque, learning the fundamental beliefs and practices of Muhammad and his committed jihadis.
I served as a Christian pastor for 33 years, and can say that I would have been glad to have a CityIQ sensor across the street from any of my churches over that time period. Our congregations have nothing to hide. It never would have entered my mind to be concerned that authorities might want to note our “most frequent attenders.” If they did, my assumption would be that they were looking to thank such people for being model citizens in the community. How telling it is that CAIR San Diego Executive Director Dustin Craun frets over the possibility that the most frequent Muslim attendees at the city’s eleven mosques might be especially surveilled. If they have nothing to hide, they have no reason to worry. But the fact of the matter is that no such surveillance is possible or even intended through the Smart Streetlights program of San Diego. This is all just a tactic to create a sympathetic hearing in the minds of clueless Americans to drive home the propaganda that Islam is a peaceful religion under attack by bullies and haters.
One last thing. Craun attempts to buttress his complaint against “spying” by citing a portion of the only Qur’anic verse dealing with this subject, Sura 49:12. The text he quotes indeed says, “Do not spy.” In his commentary about how this applies to the present matter, Craun implies that by their wrongful actions the city leaders are creating an atmosphere of mutual suspicion such that “… we will never be able to join together in unity to fight against the forces who create fear about our diverse communites [sic].” The use of these CityIQ sensor nodes, he wrongly infers, is prohibited by the Qur’an,
What Craun fails to note (or at least admit) is that this passage only forbids Muslims from spying on other Muslims. Here’s the whole verse:
O you who have believed, avoid much [negative] assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin. And do not spy or backbite each other. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his brother when dead? You would detest it. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Accepting of repentance and Merciful.
Speaking to Muslims (“you who have believed”), Allah commands that they not spy on or engage in backbiting each other. The assumption that this applies to how Muslims are to treat infidels, or more importantly in this case, how infidels are to treat Muslims, is not legitimate. To find out how Muhammad felt about spying on disbelievers, we must turn to the Hadith and biographies. There we discover that the prophet felt no compunction over spying on his enemies. Frequently he sent his companions out to surveil potential or actual enemies, or to pretend to befriend non-Muslims so as to gain information from them or cause them to let down their guard before an assassination attempt. Bukhari 5.59.495, 325, 412 and 4.52.281 provide a few accounts of such behavior by the “perfect man,” whom all Muslims are to emulate.
So, “Do not spy,” is a Qur’anic command that applies only to Muslims toward other Muslims. Even if the Smart Streetlights program were engaging in spying, Sura 49:12 would have no relevance to this matter. Presumably, if Muhammad thought it wise to keep a surreptitious eye on potential enemies, U.S. authorities have every right to do the same. And given the circumstances of the last two decades, where Muslims worldwide have been the perpetrators of the vast majority of terrorist attacks, until Muslim communities can demonstrate they have purged jihadi ideology from their communities and their Islam, and can live in harmony with those around them, we would be fools not to keep out eyes open and alert.