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A Response to Bill Warner’s

A Response to Bill Warner’s “Is a Nice Muslim a Good Muslim”

February 14th, 2010|Responses

Our long history of Islamophobia in the West dates back to the time of the Crusades. For centuries Islam has been portrayed as a violent religion of the sword forced upon on the world by a warmonger. This distorted representation of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad became a received idea in the West, and by and large we find it challenging to hold ourselves to the same standards of objectivity and impartiality when it comes to Islam and its prophet that we would set for ourselves when considering any other religion or historical character. A case in point is Bill Warner’s article ‘Is a Nice Muslim a Good Muslim?’.

              Warner’s article is a list of hackneyed aspersions cast on Islam and its prophet. He blit

hely states that when a Muslim does ‘not follow Islamic doctrine, they are no longer Muslim, but are a kafir (non-Muslim)’. It is interesting to note the degree of ease and confidence with which such pronouncements are made about Islam by a non-Muslim Westerner, especially when contrasted with the twenty-four senior religious scholars from all around the world representing all the branches and schools of Islam that it took to answer two of the questions posed to them by King Abdullah II of Jordan in the 2004 Amman Message: who is a Muslim and is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir). It is even more remarkable to learn that in the ensuing conference of the Amman Message, two-hundred of the world’s leading Islamic scholars forbade takfir between Muslims. In fact, not only does it seem that Warner is not clear on what or who a kafir is, it is evident that he has no knowledge of Arabic and so is building his argument on a word and a concept he does not understand. The word kafir derives from the Arabic triliteral root KFR; the word kufr or one of its derivatives appears in the Qur’an 482 times. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam defines Kufr as ‘disbelief’ and ‘ingratitude, the willful refusal to appreciate the benefits that God has bestowed’. In the Qur’an a kafir is not an atheist in the Western sense of the word, someone who does not believe in God, but rather someone who is able to see what is owing to God but will not honour him due to perverse ungratefulness.

In his article Warner goes on to state that according to Islam ‘kafirs are pure other’ and asks ‘since the Koran and the Sunna do not have the Golden Rule, how are Muslims to treat us?’. Warner then answers his own question by saying that ‘every Muslim believes that all nonbelievers are kafirs. The Koran says that kafirs may be hated, plotted against, deceived, murdered, raped, enslaved, mocked and tortured.’ One has to wonder how Warner would reconcile his understanding with the many verses from the Qur’an and examples from the hadith (words of the Prophet Muhammad) and sunnah (practices of the Prophet Muhammad) that absolutely disprove his claims:

… whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. [Qur’an, 18:29]

And:

Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion. [Qur’an, 109:1-6]

And:

There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error ... [Qur’an, 2:256]

 

The verses above propose co-existence; there is extraordinary pluralism and

tolerance in the Qur’an which recognizes the existence of other religions and the freedom of human beings to choose between them. In the early years of Islam, Muslims were driven out of Mecca because of religious intolerence. Rather than insisting that they have a monopoly on being ‘nice’ and on the truth, most Muslims would say that they concentrate on worshipping God and submitting to his will, which incidentally is what the word ‘Islam’ means: submission. In the history of Islam there was never any thought of forcing people to convert. Muslims believe that each of the revealed traditions has its own practices and insights:

And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it ... For each We have appointed a divine law and a traced-out way. Had Allah willed He could have made you one community. But that He may try you by that which He hath given you (He hath made you as ye are). So vie one with another in good works ... [Qur’an, 5:48]

 

Islam depicts one tradition passing the revelation on to the next; the divine message handed from one prophet to the one following him; the Qur’an is simply a confirmation of the previous scriptures.

 

Say (O Muhammad): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. [Qur’an, 3:84]

 

It is very safe to assume that Warner includes Christians and  Jews under his understanding of what Islam considers ‘other’ and therefore ‘kafir’. Clearly, Warner is ignorant of or ignoring the fact that Islam insists that Muslims always remember their spiritual kinship with Jews and Christians who are refered to as the ‘People of the Book’:

 

And argue not with the People of the Scripture unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender. [Qur’an, 29:46]

The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘He who wrongs or destroys a jew or a Christian will have me to answer on the Day of Judgement’.

As for Warner’s claim that the Golden Rule does not exist in Islam, the Qur’an and hadith are replete with references to the Golden Rule:

 

Woe unto the defrauders: Those who when they take the measure from mankind demand it full, But if they measure unto them or weight for them, they cause them loss. [Qur’an, 83:1-3]

 

The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘None of you believe until you desire for your brother what you desire for yourself’, and in his Farewell Sermon he said: ‘Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you’, the Prophet also said: ‘That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind’.

In his article Warner seems desperate to convince his reader that the preoccupation of all Muslims is to annihilate and eliminate kafirs by violence, that this is not only some obssession shared by all Muslims under the sun but that it is scripturally mandated and is in occordance with the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad who according to Warner ‘was fixated on kafirs and annihilated every kafir by violence, exile or conversion’. In what seems to be the only point that Warner got right he says that every Muslim wishes to ‘imitate Muhammad’ and follow his perfect example. Muslims indeed strive to understand the meaning and significance of the Prophet Muhammad’s life and enrich their own lives with that understaning. To Muslims the Prophet Muhammad is the personification of perfect surrender and submission to God; he is the ideal to which they aspire. By following the way their prophet worshipped, spoke, loved and behaved Muslims hope to open their hearts to God as he did and to acquire his ability to have total submission to God. In following the sunnah of being kind to orphans, the poor, animals, when striving to be generous and kind and trustworthy, they are working towards submission to God and being receptive to the divine.

All the accusations against Islam in Warner’s article boil down to the idea that Islam is inherently violent and intolerent. Warner conveniently seizes upon one of the islamophobes favorite subjects: jihad; one of the most misundestood Islamic concepts here in the West. The word ‘jihad’ derives from the Arabic triliteral root JHD meaning ‘to strive’, ‘to exert’ and is understood to mean striving to put the will of God into practice. Muslims strive to see that this is done on all fronts: intellectual, social, economic, and spiritual. As the Prophet Muhammad was on his way back from the battle of Badr he said: ‘we are returning from the Lesser Jihad (the battle) and going to the Greater Jihad’, meaning the effort needed to better society and ones own heart. Jihad is the only lawful and just warfare in Islam, and under Islamic law (shari’ah) it is carefully controlled and subject to stringent rules and regulations not least of which is that non-combatans cannot be attacked. The Prophet Muhammad ordered his community: ‘Fight in the way of God against those who disbelieve in God! Do not act brutally! Do not exceed the proper bounds! Do not mutilate! Do not kill children and hermits! Attack in the Name of God, but do not revert to treachery; do not kill a child; neither kill a woman; do not wish to confront the enemy.’

Not just anyone can call for jihad, it must be called for by a state authority. The Prophet Muhammad has often been presented in the West as a warlord. The reality is quite different, when the Prophet fought he fought to defend his life and the life of the Muslims who were persecuted for no reason other than their faith. War is abhorent in Islam and it was never waged in order to force people to convert. The only just war in Islam is a war fought in self-defense; and the preemptive strike is generally condemned.

 

Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed Able to give them victory; Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah – For had it not been for Allah’s repelling some men by means of others, cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily Allah helpeth one who helpeth Him. Lo! Allah is Strong, Almighty. [Qur’an, 22:39-40]

Even during armed conflict the Qur’an emphasizes mercy and forgiveness; when an enemy asks for peace, Muslims must desist from fighting: ‘And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers [Qur’an, 2:193]. If an enemy offers a truce, Muslims must accept it, even if they suspect deceit:

And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He, even He, is the Hearer, the Knower. And if they would deceive thee, then lo! Allah is Sufficient for thee ... [Qur’an, 8:61-62]

Warner’s agenda is clearly to misrepresent Islam, its prophet, and all Muslims in order to substantiate his own claim that intolerance and violence are inherent to Islam. Rather than presenting us with an unbiased assessment of Islam and addressing the challenges we might face in trying to understand it so that we may all live in peace, he attempts to advance his own polemic and spread his Islamophobia it seems in hopes of recruiting more people to the almost hysterical culture of anti-Islamic sentiment in a post 9/11 world. By going down this unfortunate road he not only works against Islam and its followers, but against all of humanity.

1402, 2010

Article by Bill Warner: “IS A NICE MUSLIM A GOOD MUSLIM?” A Response

February 14th, 2010|Responses

Warner poses the question “What is a Muslim?” He says that a person is a Muslim when he follows the doctrine of Islam, and that when that person does not follow the doctrine of islam he is a kufr. The correct answer to the question is that Muslim is one who exhibits the attributes of Islam. The word islam means “submission to God.” Islam has four levels of meaning. First, there is the fact that every created thing submits to God by being God’s handiwork. In this respect no choice is involved. In the next three senses the freedom to choose is a factor. These three senses are submission to God’s guidance as brought by the Prophets, submission to God’s guidance as taught in the Qur’an and finally there is the sense that the Muslim is one who observes the Five Pillars in general and the Shariah in particular.

As regards Warner’s statement that a kufr is someone who does not follow the doctrine of islam he is mistaken. The meaning of the word kufr is much more profound that a mere reference to one who does not pay external allegiance to the Islamic faith. The word kufr means “truth concealer.” A kufr is one who “covers up” and “conceals.” A kufr is ungrateful, and conceals truth. The word kufr does not mean “unbelief” so much as “ingratitude.” To be ungrateful to God is regarded as a terrible sin, involving as it does the rejection of Truth which is His guidance to mankind.

The meaning of the word kufr is well illustrated by its opposite which is iman. Iman is “gratitude.” Iman means submission to God’s guidance by following the teachings of the Prophets. Iman means faith, which suggests a commitment to Truth. Iman requires faith and entails a commitment to the search for knowledge. Iman means an acceptance that human knowledge is simply one form or another of ignorance. Instead, all knowledge is to be found in God Who is Reality. As the shahadah puts it: “There is no god but God.” God is the Knowing. There is no god but the Knowing. All Knowledge comes from God. This is what it means to have faith. To have faith is to be grateful for the possibility of that knowledge, and to be committed to finding that knowledge. The Muslim is one who submits to Reality, in the search for Truth which the Muslim believes is more than what he himself knows. The Muslim is one who believes in Revelation.

Warner is incorrect in his assertion that when one does not follow Muslim doctrine one is a kufr. The Qur’an is clear that “many of mankind” bow to God. It frequently refers to such people as Muslims; that is those who have submitted to Reality. Obviously such people are not only followers of the religion which appeared on the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century. None of the eight Qur’anic verses that mention the word islam itself refer exclusively to this religion, since the broader context of the term is always in the background. Some Muslims are entirely prepared to accept that every revealed religion is one of the forms of islam, just as the message of all the prophets is tawhid.

Warner asks the question: “How do we know if a Muslim is “good” or “bad”?” As we have seen the word kufr does not mean just mere external allegiance to the Sunna and theQur’an. A “good” Muslim is one who does not conceal Truth. Evil comes from the darkness that belongs to a state of non being. The evil person is one who is alienated from himself, rather than one who does not submit to an external set of dogma. A good Muslim is one who is not alienated from himself, because he does not worship gods. He worships God. It is entirely possible to follow the Qur’an and the sunna, but have no faith, no commitment to Truth. Christ called such people Pharisees. They were truth concealers. They were hypocrites. They believed in the world of appearances, rather than the world that is.

Warner contends that the Qur’an does not include the “Golden Rule,” common to all the world’s religious traditions. He is incorrect. Examples of references to the “Golden Rule” in the Qur’an are as follows: “Woe to those…who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.” The Qur’an commands: “Those who show their affection to such as com to them for refuge and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves.” “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” “That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.” “The most righteous of men is the one who is glad that men should have what is pleasing to him, and who dislikes for them what is for him disagreeable.”

Warner is incorrect in his assertion that those who do not believe in Muhammad are kufrs. For Muslims God’s Word is the Qur’an. Muhammad is the messenger of the Word, rather than the Word itself. The Qur’an insists that Muslims should not differentiate among the Prophets of God. Each Prophet was sent by God with guidance, and the primary message of each Prophet is the same. The Qur’an says that the later Prophets came to confirm the messages of the earlier Prophets, but also that the details of the messages differ. The idea that every messenger comes with a message that is specific to the people to whom he was sent, and that differs from other religions, is deeply rooted in the Islamic consciousness. It is reflected in the titles that are customarily given to the great messengers in Islamic texts. In some Islamic countries there is a belief that all religions accept the first shahadah, but that each religion has a second shahadah different from that of Muslims. Thus Christians might say: “There is no god but God and Jesus is the spirit of God.”

Warner asserts that most of the Qur’an is about kafrs (sixty one per cent he alleges). This is incorrect. Most of the verses of the Qur’an are neither about Muslims, nor about kufrs, but about God and previous prophets. Other parts of the Qur’an deal with legislation, the Ten Commandments, and The Golden Rule. In terms of violence there are, unlike the Old Testament of the Bible, no references to total war as contained in the Books of Deuteronomy and Judges. To be frank, it is just not a useful exercise for someone as ignorant about the Qur’an, as Warner clearly is, to attempt any kind of analysis of its sacred texts. The Islamic tradition requires people to be educated over a period of many years before they are judged fit to make any kind of educated comment about the Qur’an. Such an education requires the individual concerned to have a through grasp of Arabic, and be trained in the use of non linear texts and Semitic dialectic. Anyone who attempts to understand the Qur’an within the boundaries of the dualistic, Cartesian conditioned mind is going to make serious mistakes. It is a pity that Warner does not have the intellectual humility to understand this. Understanding the Qur’an requires a degree of purity of heart, and poverty of spirit that is rarely indeed.

Warner alleges that: “action against kufrs is jihad.” This is incorrect. He does not understand the meaning of jihad. A common translation of the word jihad is “Holy War.” This is highly misleading. The Qur’anic use of the word jihad is very broad. The basic meaning of the verb is “to struggle.” The Qur’an often uses the word struggle along with the expression “in the path of God.” The path of God is the path for right conduct that God has set down in the Qur’an and in the example of the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Submission to God entails a struggle. Receptivity to God’s command requires people to be active towards all the negative tendencies in society, and within themselves and which pull them away from God. Submission to God, and struggle in His Path go together harmoniously, and neither is complete without the other. Salat, zakat, fasting and hajj all entail struggle. It takes an enormous inner effort of will to submit to an authority that breaks not only with one’s own likes and dislikes, but also with the pressure of society to conform to the crowd. It is often said that jihad is the Sixth Pillar of Islam. Struggle in the path of God is a necessity for all Muslims. It is fundamentally not about the imposition of violence on “unbelievers.”

Warner finishes his article with the suggestion that, by following the example of Muhammad, they will be committing actions that are “bad.” The best way in which to respond to such an assertion is to make the following points about the character of Muhammad and his impact on the life of those who model their lives on his example. Muhammad is Islam humanly embodied. He is the perfect embodiment of God’s recitation. He is God’s perfect servant. Free submission of himself to god was the abiding characteristic of Muhammad’s life. He has responded to the Divine Trust, and living up thereby to the responsibility which is inherent to the human condition. The Prophet Muhammad has, at great personal cost, submitted to the Divine requirement for him to be a vessel of Revelation. The Prophet did not forget his Divine Origins. He was, therefore, able to manifest the Divine Names.

Warner’s article is deeply flawed in its analysis and should not, therefore, be regarded as a serious comment on Islam. Quite clearly, he does not understand the intellectual principles which underpin Sacred Tradition across the world. He does not appear to have any knowledge of the principles necessary for an effective understanding of the text of the Qur’an. Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace. Furthermore, it is extremely irresponsible for someone to propagate the kind of clichéd misunderstandings about Islam that Warner does in his article, given that much of the current violence in the world is the direct result of such misunderstanding. The world desperately needs commentators able to penetrate beyond the veil of misunderstanding that prevents the world’s Sacred Traditions from being understood for what they really are. Warner is quite clearly not in this category. Consequently, his article is yet another example of an analysis which is the fruit of a distorted lens. Warner’s world is one in which the world’s Sacred Traditions have their inner meaning twisted and contorted to a point where they are no longer the instruments of peace, harmony and unity for which God has intended them to be. Matthew 7:16 says: “By their fruits you shall know them.” The fruits of Bill Warner’s work indicate that, quite clearly, he does not know what he is talking about.

1402, 2010

The Warner Dualism

February 14th, 2010|Responses

Bill Warner, of the Center for the Study of Political Islam, has set out to answer the question: “Is a Nice Muslim a Good Muslim?” In his indictment of Islam as a hate-mongering, dualistic religion, he presents readers with a dualistic vision of his own—that the world around them is comprised of “good Muslims” and “bad Muslims,” of those who follow Islam, and those who do not. His purpose is to educate those in religiously diverse communities that far from being proof that Islam is a religion of peace, “nice Muslims” are a death knell.  He brings up some important points, but let’s examine them more closely.

Untruths

Warner claims that Islam divides humanity into Muslims or Kafirs. This basic dichotomy does not exist.1 His next point, that any Muslim who does not act in complete accordance with the doctrine of Islam is considered a Kafir, is also false2. Warner makes other false claims about the Holy Qur’an and Hadith—that they contain no “Golden Rule,”3 and that they encourage the annihilation of every Kafir. The only thing he convinces educated readers of is his lack of understanding of the Qur’anic text and non-academic approach to its exegesis.

The problem with this article is not that Warner is indubitably convinced that the nice Muslims around him are all out to get him. It is his amateur endeavor to parse what he considers Islamic doctrine, without any formal education or instruction in Qur’anic study (secular or religious) that should be cause for concern. His article represents a growing trend—that may be traced back to the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks when sales of the Qur’an reportedly increased—in which anyone with an axe to grind can pick up a copy and make any claims based on excerpts taken out of context. Warner’s article is a perfect example.

But why can’t anyone just pick up a book that’s meant to be read by all? No one is discouraged from reading the text of the Qur’an and understanding it for himself. If one wishes to interpret the text, however, the sound scholarly process of Qur’anic exegesis cannot be thrown out entirely. Just like the rigorous academic process behind the interpretation of secular historical documents, a similar standard applies to religious texts.

Incoherent Logic

Besides falsely deriving the definition of Kafirs as those who do not follow Islamic doctrine and those who are “bad Muslims,”4 Warner makes a series of statements that make no sense. “This means that a person called a Muslim has two modes of being-Muslim and kafr, or kafir-Muslim. The same person can be a Muslim in one moment and a kafir in the next.”

He claims that Islamic texts call for the elimination of all Kafirs and then states, that “Every Muslim believes that all nonbelievers are Kafirs.” In all cases his inferences are flawed and baseless.

Manipulative Argumentation

Another tactic that Warner employs is manipulating his readership to fear Muslims in religiously diverse communities. He wants people to think that the Muslims around their neighborhoods and workplaces may seem nice on the surface but harbor a deep-seated agenda to maim and kill anyone outside the fold of Islam. He bases these claims on what little he understands of the Qur’an and Hadith as well as media coverage of recent events such as the Fort Hood shootings and airplane bomb-threats.

Short of repeating the oft-used arguments that violent acts committed by Christians5 are not used to charge Christianity as a religion of violence6, or that the actions of a few radical Muslims should not represent the majority of law-abiding Muslims across the globe—let’s venture to answer Warner’s fundamental question. “How do you even tell if a Muslim is bad or good?” You don’t.

The hope is that when people are faced by manipulative news coverage and fear-mongering diatribes on Islam, they will not immediately categorize those around them as good or bad. Just as religious texts should be contextualized, through an exhaustive and scholarly approach, our neighbors, co-workers, and even perpetrators of violence on the news must be contextualized as well. They must be understood in terms of the society and upbringing that have formed their religious identities, and the politics and movements that have catalyzed their actions.

Understanding the world as Warner does, as good versus bad, us versus them, and Muslims versus non-Muslims is as misleading a dualism as he makes Islam to be.

[1] Those who have not received the message of Islam and thus have not the opportunity to embrace Islam cannot be categorized as Kafir. Therefore, the statement that all non-Muslims are Kafir is incorrect.
[2] What makes one a Muslim is the act of shahada or proclaiming that Allah is One and that the Prophet Muhammad is his final messenger. If a Muslim then fails to follow the Prophet’s example and dictates of the Qur’an, he is falling into sin, not necessarily disbelief. A sinful believer is not a non-Muslim, as Warner claims.
[3] “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi’s Forty Hadiths.”
[4] For an interesting take on this newfound interest in labeling Muslims good or bad, read Mahmood Mamdani’s “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror.”
[5] The 1995 Oklahoma city bombing is often used as an example.
[6] For more information, read “Body Count; A Quantitative Review of Political Violence Across World Civilizations” for an extensive analysis of the human death toll of religious and political violence from the last two millennia, at www.rissc.jo.

1402, 2010

Think Twice: Muslims – Bad or Nice?

February 14th, 2010|Responses

I am inclined to respond to Bill Warner’s article ‘Is Nice Muslim a Good Muslim?’ as published on PoliticalIslam.Com on January 7th, 2010. While I assume the writer has intentionally adopted a simplified, ‘1+1=2’ approach to make his message accessible to a wider audience – practical as it was – I found the piece somewhat baffling and misleading in its general claims against what most Muslims actually believe.

Warner begins by stating that “from the stand point of Islam, there is no such thing as a good or bad Muslim, you either are a Muslim or you are not.” That there are no “bad Muslims” implies that even the slightest sin – or any deviation from the teachings of the Qur’an and the Sunnah – can thereby automatically denounce oneself from Islam. I have never heard this claim before, neither from Muslim scholars or non-Muslim scholars of Islam. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity holds key to it the concept of Divine Mercy and provides for its followers ample opportunity to repent, without having to live with the strain of being outcast from the entire creed altogether because of a single “un-Islamic” deed committed. On that logic, many of my Muslim friends would be distraught to learn they lost their religion for not visiting their sickly grandmother one week, or going a little overboard ridiculing their boss’ not-so-subtle toupee’! Muslims are human too: like the rest of us, there are days when they wish they did a better job at claiming the title of a Muslim with all the character and traits that label is supposed to embody.

By rejecting the idea of a “bad Muslim”, Warner thereby intends to show that any Muslim who does not commit atrocities like that of the Ft. Hood massacre is either not a real Muslim, or has the genuine propensity to kill at any given minute. This dualism is misinformed and dangerous at best: indeed, the majority of mainstream Muslim scholars haveendorsed fatwasthat denounce terrorism and have deemed it impermissible for a Muslim to declare anyone an apostate as a means to justify the use of violence against them. Furthermore,93% of Muslimsthink the attacks of 9/11 were completely unjustified, the remaining 7% have been cited to have political justifications – not religious ones – for their support for violence.

There are factual errors with regards to Warner’s understanding of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that – in effect – fail to support his hypothesis that all Muslims are really cold-blooded, “kafir“-hating murderers (or self-hating ones, if most peaceful Muslims are “kafir-Muslims” as Warner puts it). Throughout my own reading of the Qur’an I have discovered that it is untrue that 61% of the Book is about kuffar – the correct plural form of kafir – but rather about God, His creation and stories of previous prophets. And in fact, the Qur’andoes indeed contain a Golden Rule pertaining to judging others people’s beliefs. This verse is perhaps one of the most powerful matter-of-fact commandments in the Muslim Holy Book: There shall be no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error (Qur’an 2:256). There are other such examples of the Golden Rule in verses 16:89, 18:29, 83:1-3 and 49:3.

While it is true that Muslims strive to imitate the deeds and characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (think WWJD), ample credible historical accounts prove that it is simply untrue that “Mohammed annihilated every kafir he ever met.” Even though Warner does not cite any one specific incident to support this claim, it must be made clear that Muhammad coexisted with Jews and Christians, signed treaties of mutual understanding on trade and religious freedom with their leaders and even married from their among communities. Muhammad said: “whoever charges a believer with unbelief is as though he had killed him” (Bukhari, 8.32: 6105. S) and “any man who says, ‘O kafir” to his brother, one of them deserves the name” (Bukhari, 8.32: 6104). Context is of the utmost importance in analyzing any historical figure’s sayings or actions. Let us remember that at the time of Muhammad, ones religious identity was part-and-parcel of his or her political one. Leaving Islam at the time was the closest equivalent to treason, a crime punishable by death in the US to this day. In effect, we can confidently reject the assertion that Muslims can justify irrational murder by following the example of Muhammad.

I am suspicious of the intent behind Warner’s article because he creates enmity where there effectively is none; as if the global community needs added conflict and abhorrence. No one but Warner labels himself as a kafir. As he says: “from a kafir perspective” – his own – he forgets that Muslims themselves would not actually view him as such, but rather as a member of the community of fellow People of the Book:

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

(Qur’an 2:62)

Instead of recognizing that bad apples exist in every religious community, and without looking at the root causes that drive these radicalized minorities to resort to terrorism – unfounded as they may be – Warner single-handedly makes an enemy out of 1.3 billion people.

Interestingly enough, Warner’s divisive rhetoric is reminiscent to the likes of radicalized takfiris like Osama bin Laden, who in turn demonizes the entire “West” – with all its complexities, particularities and diversities. Both Osama and Warner have cherry-picked Qur’anic verses and historical incidents to justify Muslim intolerance and bigotry, but ultimately have done nothing to reconcile them with the Golden Rule in Islam. Taking words or actions out of context is universally considered dishonest, doing violence to their intended meaning. Reading Warner, I am not really worried about whether the Muslim at work is “out to get me”, but I am more alarmed by the tendency of some people to obstruct any hopes of genuine understanding between Muslims and us, the so-called “others”. Hate only begets more hate, but love between people can heal the world:

O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. The noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware (Qur’an 49:13).

701, 2010

Is a Nice Muslim a Good Muslim?

January 7th, 2010|Responses

After a murderous jihad at Fort Hood or the Christmas day airplane bombing attempt, did you hear: “Of course, not all Muslims are bad?” That brings up the question of how do you even tell if a Muslim is bad? Or good?

First off, what is a Muslim? A Muslim is a person who follows the doctrine of Islam. When that same person, does something that does not follow the doctrine of Islam, they are not a Muslim. The common idea is that anyone who says that they are a Muslim has their every action and word dictated by Islam. Put another way, every Muslim is seen as perfect follower of Islam at all times and circumstances. However, the truth is that a “Muslim” is not always a Muslim. When they do not follow Islamic doctrine, they are no longer a Muslim, but are a kafir (non-Muslim).

Now, how do we know if a Muslim is good or bad? If they are following the Koran and the Sunna (the perfect example of Mohammed), they are a good Muslim. If they don’t follow the doctrine, then they are not a Muslim. That means that from the stand point of Islam there is no such thing as a good or bad Muslim. You either are a Muslim or you are not. When anyone follows the Koran and the Sunna, they are Muslim. When anyone does not follow the doctrine of Islam then they are a kafir.

This means that a person called a Muslim has two modes of being-Muslim and kafir, or kafir-Muslim. The same person can be a Muslim in one moment and a kafir in the next.

What do kafirs mean by a good Muslim? Simple, the same way we judge all other people as good and bad-the Golden Rule. Do they follow the Golden Rule when they are with us? If so, then they are a good person.

Since the Koran and the Sunna do not have the Golden Rule, how are Muslims to treat us? Islamic doctrine lays out an alternative to the Golden Rule. Those who do not believe Mohammed are kafirs, and kafirs are treated differently from Muslims.

Islamic doctrine says a great deal about the kafir. Most of the Koran is about kafirs, 61%, only 39% is about Muslims. About 20% of the Hadith is about kafirs and 98% of the Sira is about kafirs. Mohammed was fixated on kafirs and annihilated every kafir by violence, exile or conversion. When Mohammed died, there was not a person alive in Arabia who would argue with him.

Mohammed’s actions are pure Islam; therefore, annihilating kafirs and kafir culture is pure Islam. A Muslim has to be, in some way, in some form of action, eliminating kafirs and their world. The action against kafirs is jihad. There are four flavors of jihad and murder is only one. Deception, conversation, articles and TV appearances can be jihad of speech and writing. There is always the option of giving to an Islamic charity, since one of the Koranic uses of charity is jihad.

Every Muslim believes that all nonbelievers are kafirs. The Koran says that kafirs may be hated, plotted against, deceived, murdered, raped, enslaved, mocked and tortured. All of those actions are Islam and perfect doctrine. When a person is being a good Muslim, they are following Islam and that means that you are a kafir. Hate, deception, murder, mockery and torture are bad for kafirs, but good for Muslims.

Kafirs are pure other. Muslims treat other Muslims as brothers and sisters, but they can treat a kafir well or they can treat them as less than an animal. Islam has dualistic ethics, one set of rules for Muslims and another set of rules for kafirs. Dualism is bad. When a Muslim practices dualism, they are bad. There is no good in Islam for a kafir and therefore, there is no good in a Muslim for a kafir.

Does this mean that the Muslim at work is bad? Yes, when they are following the doctrine of Islam. Whenever they are not following Islam, that person can be as good as any other. It is not about people, but about doctrine. It is the doctrine of Islam to be bad to kafirs. When anyone is practicing Islam around a kafir they must be bad, since Mohammed was never good to kafirs.

Wait! What about the nice, pious Muslim at work? He is good, isn’t he?

Is he nice because of the Golden Rule or is he practicing the Sunna of the charming Mohammed we find in the early Meccan days? Mohammed could be very polite with kafirs, however, if charm did not work, then other methods were used. Islam is a process of increasing force that can start out pleasantly.

We are left with an ethical confusion around any Muslim. They can seem pleasant, but nothing changes the fact that they see Mohammed as the perfect person to imitate. Nothing changes the fact that we are kafirs. Kafir is the worst word in the human language.

Whom are we to believe-the Muslim at work or Mohammed? Every Muslim wants to imitate Mohammed; every Muslim is a Mohammedan. The problem is that Mohammed annihilated every kafir he ever met. It was a process. The process started out nice and when nice did not work, it ended in annihilation of the kafir. In Islam, nice is the beginning of bad for the kafir.

So how do you tell if a nice Muslim is good or bad? From the kafir point-of-view, there is only the fact that a Muslim is following Mohammed’s example. And that is bad, very bad.

Bill Warner

Responses:

Think Twice: Muslims – Bad or Nice?
By Farah El-Sharif

The Warner Dualism
By Garrett Frediano

Article by Bill Warner: “IS A NICE MUSLIM A GOOD MUSLIM?” A Response
By Mark B D Jenkins

A Response to Bill Warner’s “Is a Nice Muslim a Good Muslim”
By Marcelle Sagan

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