Saturday, July 05, 2003

New Site!

Thanks to a dear friend of mine, I am now at a much better Movable Type site:
All the old entries are there, and (working) comments, the ability to upload pictures, and more.

Please update your links!

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Disaffection writ large

I've been so depressed and disillusioned with the state of Islam lately, I can hardly stand to read about it or write about it anymore. And I'll share with you one big reason for that--the local imam's attitudes. I have had a few conversations with him about Islam, and he actually is something of a moderate (he is upset about how some Wahhabis/Salafis want everybody in this American mosque to follow their ways, imported directly from Saudi Arabia, instead of taking a more "live and let live" attitude), but at the same time, that's what makes some of what he says so depressing, even though it actually is just par for the course. I should mention that he is Sunni, accepts the Shafi'i law school, comes from a "moderate" Arab country, and has even become a US citizen. Herewith a listing of what I find less than pleasant:

*Vitriolic Jew hatred (all too common among Muslims, unfortunately, so nothing out of the ordinary). He has described Jews as "monkeys" and "the worst of people," insisted that there is a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, says the US media and government are dominated by Jews in order to support Israel, refers to suicide bombings against Israelis as "martyr operations" and says that even if another Muslim is killed in one of them, "both will be rewarded" in heaven for being "martyrs." Muslims are duty-bound to drive out the "monkeys" from the third-holiest Muslim site, Jerusalem, and from the rest of "Palestine," as they have no rights to "Muslim land." It's the same old crap I read all the time in Muslim publications and on Muslim websites, but it's always a shock to me to actually hear it said out loud. But what makes it hard to take is that this imam has attended numerous interfaith meetings, and even a Thanksgiving multifaith service in a synagogue, calling for peace between religions. I'll be honest: if I were Jewish and knew what I know about Muslims' attitudes towards Jews, I'd have a hard time trusting Muslims unless I knew for sure that they were not antisemites.

*The position of women. Women should not work unless they have to, they should not leave the house "too much," and only with their husband's consent (though they should not be locked up in their houses--that's what "moderate" means in Islam), they are emotional and weak and need men to protect and provide for them, they should never be alone with a man, since that will invariably lead to illicit sex (talk about your self-fulfilling prophecies!). A wife must obey her husband in everything unless it is "against Islam," and should never refuse him sex or else the angels will curse her until morning (this is a hadith from Muhammad himself; another is that women will make up the majority of people in hell, since they are ungrateful to their husbands.). Although she is not supposed to have sex during her period, there are "other things" she can do with him, and she must not refuse him that. She should accept him taking up to three other wives without complaint, since that is his right in Islam (her permission or even acceptance is not required, but it does make it easier--otherwise he has to sneak around to visit his other wives, something that is not at all uncommon). In school, women can attend classes with men, but should sit in the back. They should wear the head scarf and long clothes, but do not have to wear the niqab (face veil). He has said that regarding the Qur'an mentioning that a man can "correct" his wife by beating her (4:34), he should not do it with anything bigger than a siwak, a tiny stick used to clean the teeth, and that Muhammad, the best of men, never hit his wives, so that's definitely a good thing (unlike the claim often made in Muslim nations that it is nobody else's business if a man beats his wife; after all, she deserves it).

Of course, I should note that Muslim women are often some of the least submissive, least shy women I have met, yelling and fighting with their husbands and other men to get what they need or want. Common is the threat to literally murder a husband who takes another wife--and they mean it, too! It's one of the reasons polygamy is dying out--women with any kind of self-confidence simply refuse to accept it.

*Jihad. This imam has never denied that "jihad" means "holy war," as against those who claim that it is an "internal struggle" (a Sufi definition with essentially no applicability in Islamic history or law). He does seem to think that eventually the armies of jihad (real armies, with real weapons) will reach American shores and conquer America for Islam, though even he seems to realize that this is an utter pipe dream (unlike many other Muslim men who pray for the day, so they can take any number of infidel sex slaves). I asked about the ruling that Muslims should not live in the land of the infidel. He didn't deny it, but said that it was OK if one had the intention to spread Islam (I suppose it might be called "jihad by the pen or mouth"). In every Friday sermon, he prays for those Muslims fighting in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, the Sudan, Iraq, or whatever Muslim country happens to be in the news. The suicide bombers in Israel are of course completely justified, as part of the jihad against Israel, though interestingly enough, he hates Arafat, saying he is working for the Israelis and that a true Islamic ruler would declare jihad. I think he was genuinely upset at 9-11, appearing at many prayers for peace and blood drives for the victims, but on the other hand, whenever a terrorist attack occurrs, he generally is only concerned about how Muslims will be treated because of it, not for the (non-Muslim) victims (though this seems to be the attitude of every Muslim I have met). He doesn't hate Shi'ites, unlike many Wahhabis or other Sunnis who do not even consider them real Muslims, and has said that Iran is a real Islamic state.

*Apostasy. Interestingly, he has said that apostates should NOT be killed but just left alone (though I don't know if he really believes this and was saying it for my benefit). However, when I asked about the murder of Rashad Khalifa in 1990 by some Islamic extremist group (since the Submitters, his "sect" of Islam, is active in my town), he said that he was "glad" it had happened, since he was preaching a "distorted" version of Islam (and maybe in the employ of the Jews to boot).

That's plenty! I have heard plenty of the same kind of stuff from other Muslims, unfortunately, and the Islamic rulings are common knowledge, but still, I guess I was hoping for something...well, maybe a bit more "Westernized." I don't know if a Western-born imam would be any better, as many converts and second or third-generation Muslims do their best to out-zeal those living in Muslim countries, though they might bring to the table some attitudes that a Middle Eastern Muslim would never have. But then I think about people like John Walker Lindh (aka Sulayman al-Faris) or the American Shariffa Carlo Al-Andalusia (her fanatical writings are widely published on Islamic websites--check out her article Unconscious Muslims, where she makes the blatantly treasonous remark that "to side with the United States against The Islamic Empire of Afghanistan is clearly a horrendous sin"--I wish I were making this up, but I'm not!) or Maryam Jameelah, who has written many anti-Western screeds, and I wonder!

Will things get better? I really don't think they will unless something big happens, and I can't even imagine what that might be.