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Sheila Musaji: Geller & Spencer Attempt to Turn Congressional Race into a Religious War

Posted in Loon People, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by loonwatch

More religion-baiting and Islamophobic anti-Muslim hate-mongering from the premiere religious bigots of the day, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller.

Geller & Spencer attempt to turn Congressional race into a religious war

by Sheila Musaji (TAM)

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer are outraged that a political campaign in New Jersey has included the issue of one candidates support for Israel.

Both Spencer and Geller refer their readers to an article in the Washington Free Beacon about the democratic primary race between Reps. Steve Rothman and Bill Pascrell.

That one-sided article noted that “For the first time in recent American political history, we are witnessing a proxy battle between supporters and detractors of Israel, and it’s playing out in the Ninth District of New Jersey,” said one veteran campaign strategist who is knowledgeable about the district.  And, it noted an ad by an Arab group in the community supporting Pascrell that produced an ad urging the “Arab diaspora community” to “elect the friend of the Arabs” and billed the race as “the most important election in the history of the [Arab] community.”  It also refers to an article by Aref Assaf published in February titled Rothman is Israel’s man in District 9.  It also included this quote “I don’t read Arabic well, but I am pretty sure that the pro-Pascrell posters that have appeared across the district are not calling to elect the candidate who supports a strong relationship between America and the only democracy in the Middle East, one which is rooted in progressive Western values—women’s rights, gay rights, tolerance, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.,” said Josh Block, a Democratic strategist and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

It is impossible to believe that Mr. Block was unaware that it was a letter from a group of Rabbis that began this entire discussion.  It is also impossible to believe that the author of this article, Adam Kredo, was also unaware of the implications of that letter (since he mentions it later in his article).  Nevertheless, Kredo’s article was the basis for both Geller and Spencer’s posts.

Geller says

A New Jersey congressional race is becoming a referendum on a candidate’s Judaism. Muslims are going after a Jewish congressman. Islamic Jew-hatred rears its ugly [be]head for the first time in a congressional race. But believe you me, it won’t be the last time. Islamic Jew-Hatred—it’s in the quran.

It’s very ugly, and the enemedia, self-enforcing the sharia, is not covering it. And the local press is giving the Islamic supremacists all the column inches the haters demand. Aref Assaf, president of the New Jersey-based American Arab Forum, is a vile nazi who has been getting the lion’s share of press.

Assaf wrote in an oped in the New Jersey Star Ledger that the Jewish candidate under attack, Steve Rothman, “is using his support of Israel as the centerpiece of his campaign.” It is Assaf and his Jew-hating constiuency [sic] that are making it all about Rothman’s Judaism and Israel. The Muslim Jew-haters are making it the centerpiece of their campaign. Rothman “has consciously avoided adding fuel to the ethnic fire by focusing instead on his congressional record, note political observers in both New Jersey and Washington, D.C.”

Spencer titles his article “We want this Jew out of office”: Islamic antisemitism invades New Jersey Congressional primary race and calls this An ugly new development in American politics: Muslim voters lining up to defeat a Jewish candidate.

It would be worthwhile to read the actual article written by Assef that would provoke Geller to call him a “vile nazi” and “Muslim Jew-hater”.  Here is what Assef wrote

It may be Kosher but is it illegal? As the Record reported on February 17, 2012, several presidents of Orthodox synagogues are urging the Republican-registered members of their respective congregations to switch party affiliation in order to vote for Steve Rothman. Rep. Steve Rothman is battling fellow Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell for the newly redrawn Ninth Congressional District.

The primary elections are set for June 5 and because the district is heavily democratic, the winner will most likely carry the November elections too. The Record’s article is based on a letter first posted in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News. The Record calls into question the legality of such a letter signed by well-known religious leaders and debates the possible IRS code violations that such a position entails. Skirting the gray line of legality, these letters do carry the weight of the religious institutions the signers represent and when you consider the Orthodox community in Passaic is closely-knit, even when the names are not attached to their religious affiliations, they are still a known entity. While religious institutions may engage in local, state, and even federal elections, there are clear guidelines they must not cross to maintain their tax-exempt status under Section 501 of the IRS code, which governs non-profit and tax exempt entities. Such entities are clearly prohibited from endorsing political candidates and/or contributing to their campaign funds and must provide equal access to all competing candidates.

The question remains when such activities exceed the limit of the law and spill over being a mere informational letter. As quoted in the Record, one of the letter signers, Akiva Hirth, said, “It’s a free country,” adding that “religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.” Yet a closer read tells a different story; and I quote from the original letter: “Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race. The choice is clear – support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.” This is clearly a political endorsement. The IRS is called upon to investigate the legal ramifications of such a violation.

It may turn out to be a non-issue, but I am puzzled that so many Jewish Rabbis would and for mere temporary political expediency encourage their congregation to go against their faith and register Democratic. Like observant American Muslims who also favor the Republican Party, Orthodox Jews would choose the Republican platform for strictly religious reasons dealing with abortion, homosexuality, gay marriage, and support for Israel. I would not want my Imam to urge me to change my party label so irreverently. It’s just plain dishonest.

But if it is Kosher for Orthodox rabbis to preach to their members on political candidates, then it must be Halal for Muslim Imams to do the same. We will soon find out if Muslim religious leaders will reach out to their respective congregations. Imams, like rabbis, wield disproportionate leverage in and uncontested access to their congregations.

American Muslims are said to be evenly split between those registered as Democrat and Republicans. If Republican Muslims in New Jersey emulate the Jewish voters, and assuming their numerical symmetry, they will at least cancel out the ‘converted’ Jewish votes. Real democratic voters will then decide the election outcome. I will be reporting back on developments.

Unquestionably, this primary election is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities. To what extent the Muslim community will be energized by these developments will have to be determined. As total and blind support for Israel becomes the only reason for choosing Rothman, voters who do not view the elections in this prism will need to take notice. Loyalty to a foreign flag is not loyalty to America’s.

The incident that Assef was responding to was reported on in an article titled Letter asks Orthodox Jews to switch parties and support Rothman.  Here is the text of that article:

PASSAIC — The leaders of Orthodox Jewish synagogues in the city are urging their congregants to switch parties from Republican to Democrat so they can vote for Rep. Steve Rothman in the June 5 primary against Rep. Bill Pascrell.

A letter endorsed by 15 presidents of Passaic shuls was mailed last week to the homes of Orthodox Jews in the city’s Passaic Park section who are registered Republicans. In the letter, the presidents urge them to register as Democrats by the April 11 deadline so they so they can support Rothman, who is considered more pro-Israel than Pascrell.

“Our community has the unique opportunity to significantly impact this race,” the letter reads. “The choice is clear — support the candidate who best understands our needs and interests. Congressman Steve Rothman is the obvious choice in this Primary election.”

The letter, which carries the heading “A Message from Passaic’s Shul Presidents,” was paid for by the Rothman campaign. It notes that the redrawn boundaries of the 9th congressional district heavily favors Democrats. Whoever wins the Democratic primary will likely capture the seat in November.

The letter, which has also been published in the Passaic Clifton Jewish Community News, is an outgrowth of the recent endorsement of Rothman by Gary Schaer, a prominent member of Passaic’s Orthodox Jewish community who is also City Council president and a state assemblyman.

Although political leaders are free to endorse anyone they want, the letter raises questions about whether religious leaders violated the IRS guidelines that restrict religious non-profits from endorsing political candidates.

Section 501 of the IRS code says religious non-profits are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” The code further prohibits “voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates…”

Marc Owens, a Washington, D.C tax lawyer who headed the IRS’ tax exemption unit from 1990 to 2000, said the issue is whether the synagogue leaders were acting as individuals or on behalf of their religious institutions when they wrote the letter.  “Is it the religious institution speaking or are they speaking as individuals?” Owens said.

Only one of the 15 synagogue presidents who signed the letter could be reached for comment on Friday. In a brief telephone interview, Akiva Hirth said he signed the letter because he was within his rights to do so.  “It’s a free country,” Hirth said, adding that religious leaders were merely communicating with their congregants, not forcing them to take any action.

The Jewish vote is considered crucial for both Rothman and Pascrell, who are locked in a tight battle in the Democratic primary. Spokesmen for both candidates played down the issue on Friday.

Paul Swibinski, a spokesman for Rothman, defended the letter as a legitimate voter registration tactic. “I don’t see anything improper here at all,” he said. “There are no names of synagogues or temples listed in the letter. It is clearly a personal endorsement from leaders of these synagogues. It is not an endorsement by the synagogues themselves.”

Pascrell wasn’t eager to make an issue of it, either. “If anyone is violating tax laws, then we clearly have a concern,” he said.

It would seem that simply following the timeline of events clarifies this whole incident.  A group of Jewish Rabbis raised the issue of a candidates support for Israel as a reason to vote for that candidate.  After they sent out a letter encouraging the Jewish community to support one candidate based on this issue, Aref Assaf wrote his article calling their actions into question on the basis of U.S. law.  He also expressed his sadness that such behavior in a local primary election “is pitting two otherwise harmoniously coexisting communities: the Muslim and Jewish communities” against each other.

It is sad to see this being made into a “religious issue” rather than a simple political issue.  Who is the best candidate to represent the citizens of the 9th district of New Jersey should be the issue.

Geller and Spencer are old hands at stirring the pot of religious bigotry in political campaigns.  This is simply the most recent example.

When Gary Boisclair ran a congressional campaign vs Keith Ellison that was based entirely on hatred of Muslims – Pamela Geller was upset at Youtube for pulling Boisclair’s anti-Muslim ad. Geller called it “enforcing Sharia” and she said More sharia (Islamic law): this is enforcement of blasphemy laws, do not insult Islam. How much more of our freedom are we going to allow them to seize?

When there was a furore over Keith Ellison’s use of the Qur’an in a photo opportunity after his swearing in as a Congressman – Robert Spencer wrote This is allegedly a political masterstroke by Ellison, but it really just begs the question. Thomas Jefferson, obviously, was not a Muslim. In his famous statement on religious freedom he wrote about whether one’s neighbor believed in one god or twelve “neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But what no one is willing to discuss here is whether the Qur’an and Islam really fit into that framework. When I have mentioned that it sanctions lying to unbelievers (3:28 and 16:106, in the mainstream understanding of those verses by Islamic theologians and schools of jurisprudence; cf. Ibn Kathir and many others), people have responded that the Bible is full of nasty stuff as well. But people aren’t swearing on the Bible because it is full of nasty stuff, or endorsing any of it that might actually be there. The idea of swearing on the Bible arises from Christian belief and is buttressed by Christian theology—Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant—that requires honesty and eschews all dishonesty as coming from the “Father of Lies.” The permissions to be dishonest in the Qur’an are not mitigated by Islamic belief, tradition, and theology, but are in fact reinforced—by Muhammad’s statements that “war is deceit” and that lying is permissible in wartime, and more.

In short, to swear on the Bible is to affirm, among other things, that one is part of a tradition, and to swear on the Qur’an does not amount to an affirmation of the same tradition, no matter how much Glenn Beck or Ed Koch or anyone wishes it does or assumes it does. Islamic teachers daily use the Qur’an to establish principles that differ radically from those of Judeo-Christian tradition. These questions need to be discussed in a forthright and honest manner by Ellison and by the mainstream media, instead of being swept under the rug or condemned as bigotry.”

The decent people of the 9th Congressional District of New Jersey don’t need such bigoted individuals involving themselves in this election and fueling the fires of mutual distrust and bigotry.

I’m not being seen by that! Businessman’s shocking rant at Muslim airport worker

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Anthony Holt

This seems to be a “one-off incident” but individuals such as Anthony Holt seem quite familiar to us. They defend their abusive and bigoted behavior by saying that they are differentiating between “Islam” and “Muslims” but time and again we see them exposed for who they really are.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Holt was a regular commenter on JihadWatch, he fits the profile:

I’m not being seen by that! Businessman’s shocking rant at Muslim airport worker

Stan Miller and John Scheerhout (Menmedia)

A high-flying businessman was hauled before the court for a tirade of religious abuse at a Muslim immigration official waiting to check his passport.

Anthony Holt, 65, had become wound up after reading an article in the Daily Mail about the ‘victimisation of Christianity’ on a flight into Manchester.

When he landed, the retired consultant refused to go through a desk where Sayima Mohammed was on duty.

He astonished witnesses by pointing at her and saying: “I don’t want to be seen by that. I don’t want to be seen by any Muslim in a position of authority. I want to be seen by someone who’s English. This is England. This is my country. I’m not into all this Islam.”

As Ms Mohammed burst into tears, her colleagues refused to check Mr Holt’s documents and ordered him to calm down.

When police arrived, Holt turned his attention to a cop, saying: “That’s Islam. I’m not going to that. This is my country.”

The 15-minute row only ended when he was arrested.

During a police interview Holt claimed the abuse was not ‘personal’.

He said: “The problem I have is with Islam as a whole. It’s threat to the British population and the British way of life. I wanted to take a stand.”

Holt, of Railway Road, Urmston, pleaded guilty to using religiously aggravated threatening words or behaviour.

He was ordered to pay £100 compensation and a £145 fine.

Trafford magistrates heard he had worked as a consultant advising lawyers about the purchase of railway stock until his retirement earlier this month.

The court heard the outburst took place in front of a queue of witnesses, including children.

In a statement to police, Ms Mohammed said: “I felt threatened, shocked and humiliated to be treated in that manner for no apparent reason.”

Praveen Sethi, defending, said Holt had been flying into Manchester at the end of ‘a stressful week’.

He had been reading an article in the Mail in which the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey spoke of the ‘victimisation of Christians and Christianity’.

Robert Spencer to Debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by loonwatch

Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim (TAM) has been keeping a close eye on the loons who write for Jihad Watch.  The chief loon of JW, Robert Spencer, had initially been slated to debate David Wood, another Christian loon like himself.  Realizing no doubt that they are on the same side of the loony equation, the debate has been scrapped.  Instead, both Spencer and Wood have agreed to face off against Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

As Musaji presciently noted, “[b]oth Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.”  The nefarious duo are very familiar to the Muslim community of the U.K., not because they have a large following (they don’t), but because they are routinely trotted out by anti-Muslim right-wingers.  The set-up is always the same: a right-winger pundit will invite one of these two clowns onto their show for a “debate.” By making the hated Choudary and Bakri the representative for the Muslim side, the debate is of course already won.  Muslims are left thinking, “with friends like these, who needs enemies…”

Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are absolutely despised by the vast majority of the Muslim community, even by the ultra-conservative and radical Muslims they pretend to represent.   They are caricatures, just one step away from being Achmed the Dead Terrorist or a character thought up by Sacha Baron Cohen (like Ali G or Admiral General Aladeen, A.K.A. The Dictator).  Choudary and Bakri play the part of terrorists and radical Islamists, which is why hateful Islamophobes love giving them ample air time: look at how crazy those Moozlums are!

It’s absolutely no surprise then that Robert Spencer and David Wood, two loons in their own right, would debate two even loonier loons.  Spencer wastes his time engaging such unserious clowns, because–just as Sheila Musaji noted long time ago–he has a pattern of seeking out complete fools to debate with so that he can then crow in victory afterward.  Meanwhile, Spencer will doggedly avoid debating anyone (1) with a serious grasp of knowledge of the topic at hand and (2) the debating skill to back it up.  And of course, (3) anyone named Danios.  What’s interesting is that even Robert Spencer’s debating partner, David Wood, seemed to imply on his website that Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri are weak debaters.  Wood agrees with Choudary and Bakri’s view that Muhammad existed, but he doesn’t think that they will be able to make the convincing argument.  Why not just debate Achmed the Dead Terrorist or The Dictator?  It would certainly be just as enlightening and perhaps a bit more entertaining.

Robert Spencer’s homepage boldly declares that he is “the acclaimed scholar of Islam”, and yet he has no educational qualifications to validate that lofty claim.  In fact, all he has is an M.A. in Christian studies…If I get an M.A. in Buddhist studies, does that mean I get to be “the acclaimed scholar of Judaism”?  Spencer has never had his work submitted for peer review in the academic world, and so his arguments–while they certainly might pass off in the non-scholarly world–have never been tested by the real experts in the field.  Spencer’s version of peer-review is debating the equivalent of Achmed the Dead Terrorist and The Dictator.

In any case, let’s not beat around the bush.  It’s me in particular who Robert Spencer fears. One would think that he would want to debate me now that I’ve won the Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer last year (and was runner-up the year before), in no small part due to my writings against Spencer.  I have been refuting his book for a long time now, decimating his arguments one by one.  Spencer can’t respond intelligently, so of course, he naturally fears facing off in debate.  It has now officially been 684 days–that’s 1 year, 10 months, and 14 days–since I agreed to have a radio debate with Robert Spencer.  In that time, Spencer has furiously been generating excuse after excuse to avoid the debate.

Spencer continues to use my anonymity as an excuse to cover up his cowardice.  I’m an anonymous blogger and I have expressed my intent in preserving that anonymity for now.  Yet, Spencer repeatedly insists on a public venue–so that I “show my face”–knowing full well that I won’t accept such a condition.  In this way, Spencer gets out of the debate and can then disingenuously claim that I was the cause of the impasse.

Robert Spencer engages in typical right-winger projection: look how cowardly Danios is that he doesn’t show his face.  But, it is Spencer who is the coward, at least when it comes to defending his views.  What difference does it make who I am or what I look like?  The obvious answer is that Spencer wants to engage in ad hominem attacks against me, instead of focusing on the substantive value of his arguments, which my writings have shown to be severely lacking.  It’s now quite evident to all who want to see it: my refutations of his book are irrefutable.  I know it, you know it, he knows it.

And that’s why Robert Spencer will keep running away from me.  Instead, he’ll debate fools and loons.  Yawn, what’s new?

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

*  *  *  *  *

Here is Sheila Musaji’s article from TAM:

David Wood and Robert Spencer “Debate”?

by Sheila Musaji

David Wood is not as well known as Robert Spencer, so a little background is in order.  Wood is an Evangelical pastor and has a series of polemical articles on Answering Islam.  His focus seems to be on anti-Muslim polemics.

Kiera Feldman reported on an incident in 2010:

Organized by Stop the Islamization of America, the first rally against the “Ground Zero mosque” was held in a plaza near the site of the Twin Towers on June 6th—D-Day. “We are not hatemongerers!” Pamela Hall proclaimed from the podium. “We just want our families and our future to be safe from the racist, bigoted ideology that murdered 3,000 people.” In the crowd, signs ranged from “Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9/11” to crude drawings of Mohammed with the label “beast.”

Toward the end of the rally, two dark-skinned men were overheard speaking Arabic. The crowd transformed into an angry mob, surrounded the men, and shouted, “go home” and “get out.” The Bergen Record reported that the two scared men, Joseph Nasralla and Karam El Masry, had to be extricated by police. It turned out they weren’t even Muslim. They were Egyptian Coptic Christians who’d trekked cross-country from California to join the cause against the “Ground Zero mosque.” Nasralla later told John Hawkins of Right Wing News that the Record coverage was indeed accurate, adding that he’d been shoved and his camera knocked to the ground. “He said he was worried that things might have really gotten out of hand if the police hadn’t escorted him and Karam El Masry away,” Hawkins wrote.

“I actually caused that by accident,” an evangelical pastor named David Wood told me with a chuckle. He meant the near race riot. Wood is a PhD student in philosophy at a respectable New York institution whose name he didn’t want me to use. Passionate about proselytizing to Muslims, Wood’s expertise is Christian apologetics, the practice of arguing unbelievers into faith. He is best known as the creator of a viral video “Of Mosques and Men,” which argues all Muslims—even those who seem “peaceful,” like “good citizens in public”—had an urge to “smile when there were terrorist attacks.” But Wood allows himself a little laugh about violence when Muslims are on the receiving end.

As he tells the story of that day, “[The Copts] were complaining about not having anything to hand out. And I said, ‘I’ve got some pamphlets on Islam, specifically on whether Islam is a religion of peace.” The pamphlets contained passages of the Qur’an selected to suggest the answer is no. “People thought they were there to defend the mosque and promote Islam,” Wood explained. “Lots of people were fired up about that.” But it was a goofy case of mistaken identity, a funny little mix-up. “The guys who were doing it were actually Christians,” Wood told me as if clearing up the whole matter. “They weren’t Muslims.” In other words: the mob’s anger and actions were justified, but misdirected. Aim better next time?

Garibaldi of Loonwatch has written exposes about Wood in two articles here and here

Wood and Robert Spencer will have a “debate” this coming Sunday on the thesis of Spencer’s new book Did Muhammad Exist?  This “debate” will be moderated by Pamela Geller.  That may be the only time that you will see the combination of Pamela Geller and moderation in the same sentence.

Wood made the “challenge to a debate” by video and Spencer accepted the “challenge”.

Spencer is still falsely claiming that Muslims are afraid to debate him, and says in his acceptance: So David Wood will do their work for them.  Read my article Danios vs Spencer:  18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate for the Saga of Spencer’s avoidance of a debate with Danios.  See The Muslim Communities Useful Idiots for information on some of Spencer’s past debates with Muslims, and why I believe that engaging with bigots is not productive.

These are not individuals who hold respectable, if controversial opinions.  These are bigots, and engaging them in such a forum only provides them with some veneer of respectability.

Hosts like Hannity, or Bolling can claim that they have been “fair and balanced” because they included a Muslim.  And, full time, paid mercenaries in a “holy war” against Islam like Spencer, will claim “victory” no matter what the outcome.  If they have no “facts” that will stand up to scrutiny, they will stoop to ridiculous slurs, as they did with Christina Abraham.  And, when all else fails, if any Muslim says anything reasonable, they will say that it is taqiyya.

This sort of devious, unethical, and downright childish behavior, is not surprising from individuals who consistently “get it wrong” when it comes to Islam and Muslims, and who see no ethical problem with simply removing articles from a site when they are proven to be inaccurate.  Not too surprising for individuals who are co-founders (Spencer & Geller) of a group, Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The group is also described by the ADL in the following terms: “Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), created in 2009, promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam. The group seeks to rouse public fears by consistently vilifying the Islamic faith and asserting the existence of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy “American” values. The organization warns of the encroachment of shari’a, or Islamic law, and encourages Muslims to leave what it describes as the “falsity of Islam.”

I believe that it is not “cowardly” to leave these folks alone, just sensible.   It is not that their claims cannot be, and have not been answered, but rather that they have proven themselves time and time again to be untrustworthy and dishonorable in both their tactics and their responses to reasoned argument.

Spencer and Wood seem to have a mutual admiration society.  Spencer posted a notice about the “debate” with a note to watch Wood’s video, and Wood posted a notice with a note to read Spencer’s book.

The notice points out that this “debate” will be right after Geller and Spencer’s “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” (their most recent anti-Muslim hate fest) ends.  It is worth noting that David Wood will be a speaker at Spencer and Geller’s conference.  I’m sure their promotional video will be more exciting than the actual “debate”.

It seems pretty obvious that rather than a debate, this is a calculated publicity stunt to gain a little more notoriety for their conference, and to publicize Spencer’s book.  I’m sure that they will both have an opportunity to get in a few anti-Muslim zingers in the course of this “debate”.  Let the bigots talk among themselves.

UPDATE 4/30/2012

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more strange.  Robert Spencer just posted a new notice about tonights “debate”.  The debate is now to be between Spencer and Wood (on the same side) versus Anjem Choudary and Omar Bakri.

Both Choudary and Bakri are part of the Muslim lunatic fringe.  Just type their names or the term lunatic fringe into our TAM search engine for more information on these disreputable folks.

I’m curious as to how Spencer is going to talk to Omar Bakri since the last I heard he had been denied re-entry to England, and arrested in Lebanon.

Dearborn: Muslims and Members of Other Faiths Successfully Counter Anti-Muslim Conference

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Blogs, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by loonwatch

MSNBC describes it as “dueling in Dearborn.” I think the real story is the rejection of Islamophobia, and the anti-Islam outsiders who arrived only to agitate:

Dueling in Dearborn over murder of a 20-year-old woman

By Kari Huus, msnbc.com

In Dearborn Mich., a Detroit suburb known for its concentration of Muslim Americans, anti-Islam leaders from around the country are gathering to discuss how to rescue women from that faith. The “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference on Honor Killings” on Sunday is named for a local Muslim woman murdered one year ago.

But Muslims, civil rights groups and other religious leaders say the conference is merely another event put on by well-known bigots to attack the minority religion. Their response was to schedule a town hall meeting just a few miles away on Sunday called “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.”

The honor killing conference, organized by Pamela Geller, who became nationally famous for her vocal opposition to the Ground Zero Mosque, aka Park 51 in Manhattan, is based on the premise that Mokdad, 20 years old when she died in April 2011, was the victim of an honor killing justified by Islam.

Mokdad’s family maintains that the killing was a tragedy that has nothing to do with their Islamic beliefs, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.

“It’s not a case based on honor,” Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Cataldo, chief of homicide, told the Free Press on Friday.

In court, prosecutors have said the motive for Mokdad’s killing was that her stepfather, Rahim Alfetlawi had “been sexually abusing her,” Cataldo said, according to the report. They argue that when she threatened to go public about the abuse he killed her.

Cataldo said the family strongly objects to the conference using Mokdad’s killing, which they say was a tragedy that had nothing to do with their faith.

Geller insists this was an honor killing carried out by a devout Muslim because his stepdaughter was not following Islam, and that the family is covering it up. She alleges that law enforcers systematically cover up honor killings here and elsewhere under “stealth enforcement” of Islamic shariah law.

On her web site, Geller says: “Despite pressure from the media and members of Jessica’s family who want to cover up the honor killing aspect of her murder, we are not going to change the name of the conference. Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life.”

The Dearborn conference will feature speeches by Geller and Robert Spencer — author of the blog “Jihad Watch” — as well as several like-minded legal and religious figures. They have also invited a young man who says he was Mokdad’s friend to offer “firsthand testimony” that she was a victim of honor killing.

Stop the Islamization of America, which Geller and Spencer founded, has been listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit civil rights watchdog.

“Pamela Geller is the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead,” according to a profile published by SPLC on its web site. ”She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims.”

The Arab American Institute, a decades-old community organization in the Detroit area, discouraged Muslims and their supporters from protesting at the site of Geller’s conference.  But they organized a competing event, said AAI president Jim Zogby, because Geller and Spencer have become too prominent to ignore.

“Geller and Spencer have thousands of followers, and are given airtime to spew their hate on major American news networks, as if they are respected analysts with just another viewpoint,” Zogby said on the AAI announcement for the “Rejecting Islamophobia” town hall in Detroit.

Although many Americans have never encountered a Muslim in person, about 43 percent questioned in a recent Gallup Poll said they felt at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.

“This group, we cannot ignore. This is the time for our community to take a stand, along with all those who value America’s commitment to diversity and freedom of religion, against the politics of division and bigotry promoted by the Islamophobes.”

A variety of community, interfaith and religious leaders and Michigan public on their agenda, for a “community conversation about how to respond to these continued attacks,” said Zogby.

One participant who was just on his way to the town hall was Dawud Walid, who heads the Michigan office of the Council on American Islamic Relations, a civil rights advocacy group for Muslims.

“I think firstly we have to better expose who these anti-Muslim bigots are as well as their funders,” said Walid. “We believe that the Islamophobia that permeates our country is being pushed by a well-organized, highly-funded network.”

He says that while Dearborn and Detroit have become a focus for the activities of Geller and others of like mind, the problem is bigger.

“Islamophobia is a national illness,” he said.

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

Posted in Loon Media, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch

 

The new myth is that Islam somehow promotes…*drum roll*…necrophilia!

While you can likely find a fatwa for everything, when the recent story claiming that the “Egyptian parliament was considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death” went viral, the BS meter shot up pretty high for us.

But not for many mainstream media outlets who ran with the story without fact checking, thereby reinforcing Islamophobic myths and anti-Islam talking points.

Despite the ardent desire on behalf of Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer (he saw it as evidence of Sharia’ takeover) for the story to be true it was revealed pretty quickly that it was a hoax.

Spencer still has not updated the story to point out that it was a hoax. Now a lot of the haters have egg on their faces, this is not the first or the last time that such lies will be promoted in the media.(h/t:ZH)

Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey.

(Christian Science Monitor)

Today, Egypt‘s state-owned Al Ahram newspaper published an opinion piece by Amr Abdul Samea, a past stalwart supporter of the deposed Hosni Mubarak, that contained a bombshell: Egypt’s parliament is considering passing a law that would allow husbands to have sex with their wives after death.

It was soon mentioned in an English language version of Al-Arabiya and immediately started zipping around social-networking sites. By this afternoon it had set news sites and the rest of the Internet on fire. It has every thing: The yuck factor, “those creepy Muslims” factor, the lulz factor for those with a sick sense of humor. The non-fact-checked Daily Mail picked it up and reported it as fact. Then Andrew Sullivan, who has a highly influential blog but is frequently lax about fact-checking, gave it a boost with an uncritical take. TheHuffington Post went there, too.

There’s of course one problem: The chances of any such piece of legislation being considered by the Egyptian parliament for a vote is zero. And the chance of it ever passing is less than that. In fact, color me highly skeptical that anyone is even trying to advance a piece of legislation like this through Egypt’s parliament. I’m willing to be proven wrong. It’s possible that there’s one or two lawmakers completely out of step with the rest of parliament. Maybe.

SEE ALSO – IN PICTURES: Behind the veil

But extreme, not to mention inflammatory claims, need at minimum some evidence (and I’ve read my share of utter nonsense in Al Ahram over the years). The evidence right now? Zero.

There was a Moroccan cleric a few years back who apparently did issue a religious ruling saying that husbands remained married to their wives in the first six hours after death and, so, well, you know. But that guy is far, far out on the nutty fringe. How fringe? He also ruled that pregnant women can drink alcohol. Remember, alcohol is considered haram, forbidden, by the vast majority of the world’s Muslim scholars. Putting an unborn child at risk to get drunk? No, that’s just not what they do. Whatever the mainstream’s unpalatable beliefs (there are plenty from my perspective) this isn’t one of them.

It’s important to remember that the structure of the Muslim clergy is, by and large, like that of a number of Protestant Christian sects. Anyone can put out a shingle and declare themselves a preacher. The ones to pay attention to are the ones with large followings, or attachment to major institutions of Islamic learning. The preacher in Morocco is like the preacher in Florida who spent so much time and energy publicizing the burning of Qurans.

Stories like this are a reminder of the downside of the Internet. It makes fact-checking and monitoring easier. But the proliferation of aggregation sites, newsy blog sites, and the general erosion of editorial standards (and on-the-ground reporters to do the heavy lifting) also spreads silliness faster than it ever could before.

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Jessica_Mokdad

Jessica Mokdad “loved Islam” according to her parents.

Striking back and rejecting Islamophobia:

Rejecting Islamophobia: Town hall counters ‘Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference’ in Dearborn

Dearborn, home to one of the nation’s largest concentrations of Arab Americans, once again will become a focal point for debate over the practice and persecution of Islam in the west.

Pamela Geller, conservative activist and co-founder of Stop Islamization of America, is scheduled to host the “Jessica Mokdad Human Rights Conference” from the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn on Sunday at 5 p.m.

The event is named after a 20-year-old woman fatally shot by her stepfather last year in Warren. Initial reports suggested Rahim Alfetlawi shot Mokdad because he believed she had strayed from Islam, but prosecutors have since said that religion did not play a role.

Despite opposition from family members who say Mokdad’s murder has nothing to do with Islam, Geller has refused to rename the conference, suggesting an attempt to cover up what she continues to call an “honor killing.”

“Unlike those closest to her, we are going to honor Jessica’s memory and stand up against the brutal practice that took her life,” Geller said in a statement announcing the conference.

Local leaders say the conference is misleading and argue that Dearborn has become a convenient target for anti-Muslim groups, pointing to recent protests led by activist Pastor Terry Jones.

To counter Geller’s conference, The Arab American Institute and partners have scheduled a competing town hall on Sunday titled “Rejecting Islamophobia: A Community Stand Against Hate.” It is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel in Dearborn.

“This is clearly not the first time our community in Michigan has had to deal with a hate group,” AAI President Jim Zogby said in a statement. “Despite repeated efforts to target Arab Americans and American Muslims, the community has remained resilient and poised, sometimes choosing to ignore the fervor.

“This group we cannot ignore and this is the time to stand up and make our voices loud and clear in opposition to the politics of division and bigotry.”

LGF: Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s Friend Freely Admits to Beating and Stabbing Muslims

Posted in Loon Violence, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2012 by loonwatch

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer‘s thugish friend exposed as violent anti-Muslim hate-mongering psychopath, freely admits to targeting, beating, cutting and stabbing Muslims.

Rodan Exposed: The Shocking Audio

by Gus (Little Green Footballs)

CONTENT WARNING: Listener discretion is advised. The following video (audio) contains explicit language, hate speech, racial slurs, and violent rhetoric including descriptions of past incidents of violent crimes as described by the subject.

ADDITIONAL WARNING: Rodan also drops the N-Word towards the end of the audio.

The following is an audio recording of Rodan (real name: Rick Martinez) as described in the captioned text below the audio. The subject is Rodan (aka Trajan 75, Emporer Palpatine, et al). Rodan began as webmaster for Think Progress Watch and is currently the webmaster and primary functionary at The Blogmocracy and The Diary of Daedalus.

The Diary of Daedalus is a site dedicated to the tracking and harassment of Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs and members of Little Green Footballs. It has been previously cited in blogs or on Twitter by Andrew Breitbart; Dan Riehl of Riehlworldview; Donald Douglas of American Power; R.S. McCain of The Other McCain; Robert Spencer of Jihadwatch; and others.

Please note that I am not the creator of said video nor am I affiliated with the uploader of said video on Youtube. This is not an endorsement of his or her beliefs whatever they may be. Also note that this is all public information and this video/audio has been present on Youtube since 2009. The purpose of this information herein is to reveal the true nature and background of the creator and webmaster for The Blogmocracy and The Diary of Daedalus most commonly known as Rodan.

The Diary of Daedalus most commonly known as Rodan. (Click here to view the video)

This description is from the original post at YouTube; Rodan and his followers reported the video for “hate speech” and got it pulled from YouTube. (Yes, they reported their own founder for hate speech.) It’s now hosted at LGF so they can’t make it disappear.

Rodan a.k.a. Emporer Palpatine shares his thoughts on Muslims, and gives anecdotes in regards to the Muslims he “sliced and diced” in the early 90’s.

The recording you are about to hear was recorded on the morning of June 6th, 2009 at approximately 3:40 AM.

It was recorded in “Wine Drinkers kick ass”; the room of Emporer Palpatinea.k.a. Rodan.

The following rant given by Rodan is recorded as it was, with the exception of a pause to insert Marlen2008’s text.

This, although heard by a select few, is being released after 6 months. We feel that it is time for this recording to be made public.

The subject matter may be shocking. Listener discretion is advised.

When They Almost Killed Muhammad: The Persecution of Islam’s Earliest Followers

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2012 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer has summarized the key arguments raised by Islamophobes in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  Chapter one of his book is entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War”, in which he recounts the life story of the Prophet Muhammad.  In it, he portrays Muhammad as the aggressor and his Quraysh enemies as the victims.  Spencer writes:

After receiving revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel in 610, [Muhammad] began by just preaching to his tribe the worship of One God and his own position as a prophet.  But he was not well received by his Quraysh brethren in Mecca, who reacted disdainfully to his prophetic call and refused to give up their gods.  Muhammad’s frustration and rage became evident.  When even his uncle, Abu Lahab, rejected his message, Muhammad cursed him and his wife in violent language that has been preserved in the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam: “May the hands of Abu Lahab perish!  May he himself perish!  Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him.  He shall be burnt in a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with faggots, shall have a rope of fibre around her neck.”  (Qur’an 111:1-5)

Ultimately, Muhammad would turn from violent words to violent deeds.  In 622, he finally fled his native Mecca for a nearby town, Medina… [1]

Muhammad’s message of monotheism does not adequately explain why the leaders of the Quraysh rejected his message so forcefully.  Indeed, Muhammad preached a lot more than this: he called for a top-to-bottom reform of Meccan society, advocating for the rights of the poor and weak.  While it is also true that Muhammad’s renouncement of the pagan gods was unbearable to many followers of the old religion, so too did his powerful critique of the rich and powerful set him on a collision course against them.

Spencer not only fails to properly explain why the Quraysh leaders opposed Muhammad, but he also omits entirely how they opposed him.  In Spencer’s version of events, (1) Muhammad preached to them about God and his prophetood; (2) the Quraysh didn’t accept this message; and then (3) Muhammad reacted with rage and violence.  Spencer’s biography is curiously missing the almost decade and a half-long persecution of Muhammad and his early followers in Mecca, which preceded their Flight (Hijra) to Medina.  This willful omission is designed to mislead the reader, and Spencer succeeds in inverting reality, portraying Muhammad as the aggressor and the Quraysh leaders as the victims.

*  *  *  *  *

Muhammad was born and raised in seventh-century Mecca, a city of the Arabian Peninsula.  At the time, the majority of Meccans, led by the powerful Quraysh, were polytheistic in religion.  Then, in 610 A.D., when he was around forty years old, Muhammad declared his prophethood and called his people to a new, monotheistic religion.

Initially, Muhammad preached in private, and his early followers congregated in secret.  When Muhammad eventually declared his message publicly, he and his early followers were met with increasing hostility.  The Quraysh leaders instigated a sustained campaign of violence against what they saw as a rival faith.  Consequently, the early Muslims suffered persecution; they endured beatings, torture, and even imprisonment.

This entire period is omitted entirely from Robert Spencer’s chapter: Spencer portrays Muhammad as the violent aggressor and the Quraysh as his peaceful victims.  Yet, it is well-established that it was in fact Muhammad who began preaching his message peacefully, and it was the Quraysh leaders who responded violently.  Prof. Spencer C. Tucker writes:

As Muhammad’s group of followers grew, the leadership of Mecca, including Muhammad’s own tribe, perceived them as a threat. Some of the early converts to Islam came from the disaffected and disadvantaged segments of society. Most important, the Muslims’ new set of beliefs implicitly challenged the Meccans’ and the Quraysh tribe’s guardianship over the Kaaba, the holy site dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the area, which hosted an annual pilgrimage. The city’s leading merchants attempted to persuade Muhammad to cease his preaching, but he refused. In response, the city leadership persecuted Muhammad’s followers, and many fled the city. One group of his followers immigrated to Abyssinia. In 619 Muhammad endured the loss of both [his wife] Khadija and [his uncle] Abu Talib, while the mistreatment of his followers increased. [2]

Not surprisingly, the meanest persecution was meted out to the most vulnerable members of the Muslim faithful.  Prof. Daniel C. Peterson writes:

There are many stories of imprisonment, beating, starvation, and thirst, and perhaps worst of all, of believers staked out on the ground under the scorching heat of the Arabian sun until they could be induced to repudiate their faith.

Slaves were particularly vulnerable, for they had no one to protect them against their masters. One of them, a black Abyssinian named Bilal, was pinned to the ground by his master, with a large rock on his chest, and told that that he would remain there until he either died or recanted–whichever came first. He was spared only because Abu Bakr, passing by, was horrified at this maltreatment of a fellow believer and bought Bilal’s freedom…Some, it is said, died under torture. And others did indeed renounce their faith. [3]

The extent of the persecution can be gauged by the fact that some of the early Muslims were forced to flee with their lives from the Arabian Peninsula altogether, an event known as the First Flight to Abyssinia.  Under the cover of night, these Muslims fled Mecca and boarded ships headed for the African country of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia).  There was a second such emigration, known as the Second Flight to Abyssinia.  The Quraysh leaders dispatched envoys to the Abyssinian king, requesting that these Muslim refugees be returned to Mecca.  This request for extradition was rejected and these Muslim refugees stayed in Abyssinia for the remainder of what is known as the Meccan Period of Muhammad’s prophethood.

The Quraysh leaders harassed Muhammad himself, who endured both verbal and physical abuse.  Initially, however, his tormentors stopped short of killing Muhammad because he was still under the tribal protection granted to him by his aging uncle, Abu Talib.  Islam’s early enemies earnestly beseeched Abu Talib to permit the killing of Muhammad, but Abu Talib adamantly refused.

To pressure Abu Talib’s clan, the Banu Mutalib, to rescind their protection of Muhammad, the Quraysh leaders signed a pact resulting in the complete social and economic boycott of the early Muslims along with the two clans associated with them (the Banu Mutalib and the Banu Hashim, the latter of which was the tribe Muhammad was born to).  The early Muslims and members of the two clans were forced by circumstance to leave their homes and resettle in the outskirts of Mecca.  Confined to the harsh and barren desert valley (Mecca’s “ghetto”), they struggled to survive for three years, with even food and medicine being barred to them by the Quraysh leaders, who intended to starve them into submission:

Abu Jahl now tried to starve Muhammad into submission and imposed a boycott on the clans of Hashim and al-Muttalib, managing to get all other clans to sign a treaty to unite against the Muslim threat. Nobody could intermarry or trade with anybody in the two outlawed clans and this meant that nobody was supposed to sell them any food. For the sake of security, all members of Hashim and al-Muttalib, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, moved into Abu Talib’s street, which became a little ghetto. [4]

During what is known as the Year of Grief, both Muhammad’s wife Khadija and uncle Abu Talib passed away.  Abu Lahab, early Islam’s arch-enemy and Muhammad’s bitterest foe, replaced Abu Talib as the chief of the clan.  Muhammad thus lost his tribal protection and was forced to flee with his life to the neighboring city of Taif.  He preached his message to the leaders of Taif, who rejected him and refused to give him asylum for fear of earning Mecca’s wrath.  Muhammad was stoned by the street urchins of Taif and told to never return.  Bloody and battered, Muhammad had no place to go but to return to Mecca.

The persecution of the early Muslim community in Mecca intensified to the point that there was a very real fear that the religion of Islam would be snuffed out entirely.  It was at this precarious moment in history that a group of influential men from the nearby city of Yathrib (henceforth to be referred to as Medina) accepted Islam and promised to grant Muhammad refuge.  Thus began The Flight (Al-Hijra), as the Muslim community in Mecca migrated in waves to Medina.  The Quraysh authorities, fearful that Islam would spread to other parts of the Arabian Peninsula, tried (but failed) to prevent this exodus.

By this time, the Quraysh leaders had already formulated a plot to assassinate Muhammad in his sleep.  They delegated this task to eleven men, chosen from all different tribes so as to make retaliation against any one of them untenable.  The assassins gathered around Muhammad’s house, broke into it, and advanced towards his bed.  In fact, however, they had just missed Muhammad, who had slipped away and begun the arduous journey to Medina.  Prof. Juan Eduardo Campo writes:

[P]ersecution of Muhammad and his followers in Mecca by the Quraysh intensified; the weaker ones were physically tortured or imprisoned. Muhammad ordered his followers to emigrate to Yathrib [Medina] in small groups, while he remained in Mecca with his friend Abu Bakr and his loyal cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib. The Quraysh plotted to murder Muhammad and invaded his house only to find Ali sleeping in his bed. Muhammad had secretly escaped with Abu Bakr, and the two of them hid in a cave for three days before making their way to Yathrib [Medina]. [5]

The Quraysh leaders were by this time wild-eyed with fury, and placed a bounty on Muhammad’s head.  Whoever could intercept Muhammad before he reached Medina would be handsomely rewarded.  Search parties went out to apprehend or kill the prophet of Islam.

But, destiny had another plan altogether for Muhammad.  He arrived safely in Medina in the year 622 A.D., what became year one of the Islamic calendar.  There, the early Muslim community would regroup, and eventually, flourish.

*  *  *  *  *

In Robert Spencer’s biography of the Islamic prophet, the persecution of Muslims in Mecca is completely passed over.  Muhammad is wrongfully portrayed as the aggressor and the initiator of violence.  Context is completely lost–in fact, it is purposefully distorted.  Without understanding the background of the conflict (i.e. Muslims being persecuted in Mecca for almost a decade and a half), the reader will view Muhammad’s actions in Medina as nothing short of unprovoked aggression.

Not only does such a deception distort the reader’s view of the Prophet Muhammad, it also has huge implications with regard to Islamic theology.  Jihad is wrongfully equated with terroristic violence and unprovoked aggression, instead of what is actually called for in the Quran: a defensive responding to unprovoked aggression.

If the concept of jihad was first formulated during Muhammad’s lifetime–and if Muslims look to Muhammad’s example to understand the embodiment of this concept–then it makes a very big difference whether or not Muslims see Muhammad as initiating violence or merely defensively responding to it.

Spencer well understands this concept and himself argues it intensely in his book.  His deception, however, lies in his flipping of reality on its head, portraying Muhammad and the early Muslims as the aggressors and their tormentors as the victims.

*  *  *  *  *

Having thus understood the importance of this discussion, let us then delve into Muhammad’s response to the violence, persecution, and injustice directed at him (and his religious community).  Did he preach “love your enemies” or ruthless vengeance?

Muhammad’s reaction to his enemies can be summarized as follows: it was better to forgive the average foot soldier, and only the top level leaders of injustice (“the chiefs of disbelief”) were to be punished.  This dynamic can be seen with Muhammad’s eventual triumphal return to and conquest of Mecca eight years after he fled from it.  Even though the people of Mecca in general had engaged in the persecution of the early Muslims, Muhammad issued a blanket immunity and “mercy” to all of them aside from nine individuals (other sources say seventeen), who were “his most inveterate [of] enemies.” [6] However, even of these, most were pardoned, and in the end “only four Meccans were killed. ” [7]

These were the same people who had humiliated, harassed, tortured, and persecuted Muhammad and his followers.  In fact, at one point in time Muhammad was attacked by them and left with a bloodied face, a busted lip, a broken tooth, and a split-open forehead.  Muhammad had then asked rhetorically:

How can a people cut the face of their prophet and break his tooth while he is calling them to God?  How can such a people prosper?

He exclaimed:

God’s Wrath is great on those who besmear the face of His Messenger!

The following Quranic verse reprimanded Muhammad:

Not for you (O Muhammad) is the decision whether [God] turns in mercy to them to pardon them or if He punishes them (for indeed, they are wrongdoers).  To God belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth.  He forgives whom He pleases and punishes whom He pleases; but God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.  (Quran, 3:128-129)

Muhammad retracted his earlier comment and then prayed for not only forgiveness of the attackers but forgiveness for the Meccans overall:

O God, forgive my people for they do not know. [8]

Later that day, Muhammad came across his uncle, Hamza ibn Abdul Mutallib, who had been killed by the Quraysh.  Worse, Hamza’s corpse had been mutilated: his nose was burnt off and his ears cut off; his stomach was gutted and his intestines were hanging out of his body.  When Muhammad saw his uncle in such a state, he angrily took the following oath:

I shall kill seventy of their men in revenge!

To this, God is said to have replied in the Quran:

(O Muhammad), invite them to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and dispute with them only in the most politest manner–for your Lord knows best who has strayed from His Path and who is rightly guided.  And if you wish to retaliate, retaliate only in a way that is proportionate to the injury done to you.  But if you endure patiently (instead of retaliating), it is better to do so.  (O Muhammad), endure with patience.  Truly, your patience is only possible with the help of God.  Do not be grieved by them or distressed because of their schemes–for God is with those who are mindful of Him and who do good.

Therein then do we have the Quranic axiom: if you wish to retaliate, then the punishment must be proportionate to the crime.  (This rule is clarified in verses 2:190-194 with the stipulation that the punishment must be against the guilty party only.)  Although the Quran permits one to demand justice, it strongly urges the believer, especially Muhammad, to instead “endure with patience” and forgive.  Following this admonition,  ”the Prophet refrained (from taking revenge) and atoned for his oath.” [9]

Indeed, when the early Muslims triumphed over and conquered Mecca, Muhammad issued a blanket pardon to everyone, aside from four “arch-criminals”. [10] Muhammad could have taken vengeance against all those who had persecuted him and his people for so many years, but instead he forgave them all, reciting the following verse of the Quran:

There is no censure on you on this day.  May God forgive you, for He is the Most Merciful of the merciful. (Quran, 12:92) [11]

Muhammad would even forgive those who killed and mutilated his uncle, praying: ”[M]ay God forgive them, for God is Forgiving, Merciful.” [12] He also forgave those who had tried to kill him.

There is much food for thought here: Islamophobes like Robert Spencer argue that Muhammad’s violence cannot be compared to that of the Biblical prophets, since Muhammad in Islam is considered perfect whereas Jews and Christians don’t think the same of Moses, Joshua, David, etc.  This is a huge oversimplification and mischaracterization of Islamic textual sources and dogma (a topic that I will analyze in further detail in a later article).  But for now, suffice to say, this is but one example of Muhammad being corrected in the Quran–and that too with regard to war, peace, vengeance, and mercy towards non-Muslims.

The Islamophobes claim that Muhammad only preached patience, forgiveness, and tolerance during the Meccan Period.  They argue further that the “opportunistic” Muhammad opted towards militarism, violence, and war as soon as he came to power in Medina.  And yet, the events surrounding this Quranic revelation (i.e. the killing/mutilating of Muhammad’s uncle, and the command for Muhammad to endure it with patience and forgiveness) occurred well into the Medinan Period.  In fact, it occurred at the height of the military conflict with the Meccan pagans.

What is even more telling is the fact that once Muhammad and the early Muslims conquered Mecca, Muhammad granted the Meccans pardon and mercy.  If the critics of Islam attribute Muhammad’s peaceful attitude during the early Meccan Period to his lack of power to do otherwise, then what of Muhammad’s triumphal return to Mecca whereupon he had all the power in the world to take limitless vengeance upon them?  Muhammad’s tolerant nature towards his Quraysh enemies cannot be explained by the meekness of his position, because he maintained that attitude when he had the power to crush them as they had tried to do to him aforetime.

Similarly, Muhammad had prayed for the forgiveness of the people of Taif, who had stoned him out:

Mohammed traveled to Ta’if, a mountainside town in Arabia about seventy miles southeast of the holy city of Mecca, to invite its people to become Muslims. Instead of welcoming him, the farmers stoned him and drove him, bleeding, out of town…Wiping blood from his face, the Prophet refused, saying, “Lord, forgive thy people, they do not know.” [13]

After the Conquest of Mecca, the pagans regrouped at Taif to launch a massive counter-offensive;  Prof. Ella Landau-Tasseron writes:

Shortly after[ the Conquest of Mecca,] the Thaqif, the ruling tribe of the nearby town al-Ta’if, organized a bedouin army [against Muhammad], which was defeated by Muhammad at a place called Hunayn.  Muhammad then laid siege to al-Ta’if but had to withdraw without achieving any result.  Shortly afterward, however, the Thaqif joined Islam of their own volition. [14]

No retribution was taken against the people of Taif, who thus entered the folds of Islam; Prof. Michael Dumper writes:

[The Muslims] laid unsuccessful siege to Taif for almost a month.  In 631 the head of the tribe embraced Islam, which resulted in his assassination by his own people.  Quickly, however, the city changed its mind and sent a delegation to the Prophet and indicated their willingness to embrace Islam.  The Prophet, stressing the diplomatic immunity of ambassadors, did not hold their earlier antagonism against them and welcomed them into the [Islamic] community. [15]

Upon his triumphal return to Mecca and Taif, the two cities that had earlier driven him out, Muhammad took no revenge and forgave his former tormentors, thus embodying the Quranic principles of patience and forgiveness.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer argues that Jesus preached “love your enemies”, contrasting this with Muhammad’s teachings.  Certainly, many Westerners associate such peaceable beliefs to Christianity’s central figure.  Yet, this comparison suffers from an inherent flaw: it is simply not accurate.

If we wanted to maintain an apples-to-apples comparison, the Meccan Period can be analogized to Jesus’s First Coming: like Jesus, Muhammad was a persecuted prophet during this period and was in fact almost killed.  Meanwhile, the Medinan Period can be likened to Jesus’s Second Coming.  Just as Muhammad triumphantly marched into Mecca, so does Jesus triumphantly return with his army as a “conquering king.”

Once Muhammad conquered Mecca and held absolute power over them, he forgave all of them (save for four “arch-enemies”).  Muhammad’s march into Mecca was virtually bloodless,; on the other hand, “Jesus’ second coming will be exceedingly violent…It’s going to be bloody (v. 13) and gory.”  Whereas on the day of Mecca’s conquest, Muhammad bestowed mercy on his enemies (he called it the “Day of Mercy”), Jesus will have “no compassion upon His enemies” and “will take vengeance” on them (the Bible calls it “the day of vengeance”).  Indeed, the Biblical Jesus will kill all his enemies.

When one considers other Biblical prophets of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the contrast becomes even more glaring.  Compare the Conquest of Mecca to the conquest of Canaan by Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, Saul, etc.  Muhammad granted immunity to the Meccan population whereas the Judeo-Christian prophets “completely destroyed every living thing in the city, leaving no survivors” (Joshua 11:11).  In fact, this was done to city after city in what can only be called wholesale genocide.

How then can one support Robert Spencer’s dubious argument that the Prophet Muhammad was somehow more violent than all other prophets and religious founders, especially when we have such violent figures in Spencer’s own faith tradition?

*  *  *  *  *

A word ought to be said specifically about what Robert Spencer writes here:

When even his uncle, Abu Lahab, rejected his message, Muhammad cursed him and his wife in violent language that has been preserved in the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam: “May the hands of Abu Lahab perish!  May he himself perish!  Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him.  He shall be burnt in a flaming fire, and his wife, laden with faggots, shall have a rope of fibre around her neck.”  (Qur’an 111:1-5) [16]

Abu Lahab was the only one of Muhammad’s foes to be taken by name in the Quran.  Even though numerous Quraysh influentials persecuted Muhammad, Abu Lahab was singled out in the Islamic holy book because he and Abu Jahl were the staunchest and most mean-spirited of early Islam’s adversaries.  He was assisted in his hatred by his wife, Umm Jamil, who joined in the persecution of Muhammad and his followers.  Abu Lahab led and orchestrated the harassment, beatings, torture, persecution, and crippling boycott of the early Muslim community.  He would later be one of the eleven assassins who attempted to kill Muhammad in his sleep.

The Quranic verse against Abu Lahab was revealed when he had picked up a stone in his hand to throw at Muhammad and yelled “may you perish” (reflected in the Quranic phrasing “may the hands of Abu Lahab perish“).  As for the statement against Abu Lahab’s wife, it can be understood using a less arcane translation: “…and his wife, the bearer of wood (translated in Spencer’s book with the difficult to understand ‘laden with faggots’), shall have a rope of fiber around her neck.”  She was dubbed “the bearer of wood” because she used to routinely lay splinters of wood on the ground where Muhammad would walk so as to cause his feet to bleed.  Additionally, Umm Jamil used to wear a very expensive necklace, of which she vowed: “By Lat and Uzza, I will sell away this necklace and expend the price to satisfy my enmity against Muhammad.”  [17]  This is said to explain the Quran’s choice of punishment for her: a rope of fiber around her neck.

Harsh as these punishments are against Abu Lahab and his wife, two points need to be borne in mind: firstly, Abu Lahab and his wife represent the Quran’s chief villains, equivalent to the Bible’s Pharaoh and Jezebel.  The Bible promised that Pharoah and “all who trust in him” will be slaughtered (Jeremiah 46:25), and that Jezebel will be punished–”her children” will be killed (Revelation 2:23).  The punishment promised to Abu Lahab and his wife are certainly no harsher than this.  More importantly, the Quran only promised punishment of the guilty party, not “all who trust in him” or “her children.”

The second point is that both Abu Lahab and Umm Jamil died of natural causes.  Muhammad was never violent with them.  The verses in the Quran condemning this couple were meant to be understood in a supernatural sense, unlike the very real violence committed by Abu Lahab and his wife against Muhammad and the early Muslims.

On a somewhat related note, it should be added that one of the major reasons that Abu Lahab opposed the message of Islam so violently was that it threatened his status and position.  He was extremely wealthy and powerful–among Arabia’s top one percent.  Muhammad, on the other hand, preached equality among believers.  To this, Abu Lahab would exclaim:

May this religion perish in which I and all other people should be equal and alike! [18]

This is reflected in the Quran’s response to Abu Lahab:

Neither his wealth nor his earnings will benefit him. (Quran, 111:2)

Indeed, Muhammad’s support for the 99% explains why he faced the wrath of the 1%, of which Abu Lahab belonged to.

*  *  *  *  *

There are of course events in Muhammad’s life between his escape from Mecca and his subsequent return that merit further investigation and critical analysis.  Readers are certainly well-aware of the numerous charges levied against the Prophet of Islam in this regard.  Future parts of this Series will look into these matters with an attempt to be impartial and fair.  For now, however, we have achieved our purpose: Robert Spencer’s dishonest rendering of Muhammad’s time in Mecca, known as the Meccan Period, has been laid to waste.

Muhammad and his early followers experienced persecution at the hands of their enemies, a basic fact that must be understood in order to understand early Islamic history, as well as Islamic texts and theology.  An at least rudimentary knowledge of these events is needed to negate the propaganda of those who seek to demonize the faith of over a billion adherents around the world.  More than that, it offers peace-loving, moderate Muslims the ammunition they need to counter the intolerant interpretations of their religion espoused by their fundamentalist coreligionists, people who often act more like the Quraysh leaders than Muhammad.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.  

Footnotes:
[1] Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), p.5
[2] Spencer C. Tucker, The Encyclopedia of Middle East Wars, p.849
[3] Daniel C. Peterson, Muhammad, Prophet of God, p.72
[4] Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet, p.129
[5] Juan Eduardo Campo, Encyclopedia of Islam, p.299
[6] Simon Ockley, The History of the Saracens, p.55
[7] Jonathan E. Brockopp, The Cambridge Companion to Muhammad, p.10
[8] Ar-Raheeq al-Makthum, p.318; Original source for “O Allah, forgive my people for they do not know” is Fath al- Bari 7/373; Alternately narrated as “My Lord, forgive my people for they have no knowledge” in Sahih Muslim 2/108.
[9] Tafsir al-Jalalayn, 16:126
[10] Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum, p.254
[11]  Al-Tabaqat Al-Kubra, Vol.2, p.142
[12] Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya, p.432
[13] Eliza Griswold, The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches From the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam, p.23
[14] Ella Landau-Tasseron, Biographies of the Prophet’s Companions and Their Successors, p.11
[15] Michael Dumper, Cities of the Middle East and North Africa, p.634
[16] Spencer, p.5
[17]  Tafheem ul Quran, 111:5
[18]  Tafsir Ibn Kathir, 111

Buddhist Killer Pardoned by Muslim Victim’s Family

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Sites, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2012 by loonwatch

This is a story you wont see on JihadWatch:

Buddhist Killers Pardoned by Muslim Victim’s Family

Relatives of a Muslim Sri Lankan worker murdered by his Buddhist colleague in Abu Dhabi told court they have decided to pardon the killer, prompting the judge to bring forward hearings for sentence.

An official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Abu Dhabi handed the pardon document from the victim’s relatives to court on Tuesday, the semi official Arabic language daily Alittihad said.

“They just pardoned the Buddhist killer without demanding any diya (blood money) taking into consideration that the killer’s family is poor,” it said.

It said the pardon prompted the judge to bring forward hearings to February 27 to issue a sentence after they were scheduled for June.

Imagine if the Buddhist killer had been Muslim and the Muslim victim been Buddhist, who doubts Spencer would link the killing to Islam, relating it to jihad or some other convoluted made up theology that only exists in the feverish mind of Sheikh Spencer?

Instead, Spencer chooses to focus on another story reported in the same article, about a man who murdered a European woman he was paying for sex. The man murdered her and then went to pray, which certainly is odd (and proves more about his lack of conscious than any link to religion), but the fact that Spencer would try to relate it to Islam is just plain sick yet not surprising.

For Spencer this is another opportunity to denigrate Muslims and Islam while also trying to link the killing to “honor killings” and “jihad.”

Spencer writes in a post titled, Dubai: Muslim murders woman, then goes to mosque to pray,

We have seen this phenomenon in the past with some honor murderers and jihadists: they apparently believe that they have done something pleasing to Allah, and so are almost serene after the murders.

MUHAMMAD IS THE 99 PERCENT

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2012 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer provides a biography of Muhammad in chapter 1 of his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), a chapter he entitles “Muhammad: Prophet of War.”  I have been writing a rebuttal of this chapter, but as I do so, I realize that perhaps I should contemporaneously provide a “counter-biography.”  This will be an attempt at doing that, while at the same time tying in Spencer’s work.

Because the United States is involved in many wars in the Muslim world, many Americans want to know what Islam is all about.  Unfortunately, they often either knowingly or unknowingly get that information from extremely anti-Muslim sources.  This is especially the case when they hear about Muhammad, the founder of Islam.  Most Americans are woefully ignorant about Muhammad, and what little they do know is nothing more than talking points against him made by Islamophobes.

There are certainly events in Muhammad’s life that are open to scrutiny (events that we will analyze in this “counter-biography”), but it is extremely ignorant to limit one’s knowledge to these.  It would be like studying the history of America’s Founding Fathers, and only focusing on their extramarital affairs, their racism and slave-holding, and their genocidal wars against the American Indians.  That’s not history.  That’s nothing short of ideologue-driven propaganda.

Indeed, there is a side of Muhammad that Americans desperately need to know in order to have a more balanced and accurate view of him.  In fact, there is much about Muhammad that the liberal, secular West has to like.  We don’t need to look at Muslim apologia to find this.  Rather, it’s found in the books of America’s most respected historians.

On that note, I should probably say something about my use of the term “counter-biography,” which wrongly implies revisionism.  In reality, my biography of Muhammad will be in line with mainstream Western scholarship, and it is the narrative taught in America’s universities (and has been for many decades).  Meanwhile, it is Robert Spencer’s biography of Muhammad that engages in revisionism born out of nativist populism and a clear anti-Muslim animus.  It is exactly the reason that mainstream historians and scholars have nothing but disdain for people like Spencer, and why Spencer in turn accuses them of “dhimmitude.”

With that clarification, our “counter-biography” begins circa 570 A.D., in the city of Mecca, Muhammad’s birthplace.  Not much is known about Muhammad’s childhood, but we do know that it was marked by tragedy: his father died when he was only six months of age, and his mother passed away when he was six years old.  The newly orphaned boy was taken in by his grandfather, who also died just two years later.  His uncle, Abu Talib, then took guardianship of Muhammad.

Family, clan, and tribe meant everything in sixth and seventh-century Arabia.  Muhammad’s family and clan were going through difficult times, which must have been especially trying for Muhammad the orphan.  It is likely that Muhammad’s childhood experience, as a weak and vulnerable member of an impoverished clan, shaped the man he would become and the views he would hold, particularly his desire to protect the poor and weak from the rich and powerful.

Very little is known about Muhammad’s teenage years.  He would accompany his uncle, Abu Talib, on trade caravans to Syria.  We also know that Muhammad accompanied him during the Sacrilegious War (Harb al-Fijar), a four-year war that broke out between Muhammad’s tribe and another.  The extent of Muhammad’s participation in the war is disputed, but it is generally agreed that it was mostly in a non-combat support role, picking up enemy arrows from the ground.

The very first three lines of Robert Spencer’s biography are extremely misleading as he uses this event to portray Muhammad as having been “experience[d] as a warrior before he assumed the role of prophet.”  I have already refuted this argument in my previous article, where I pointed out that Muhammad not only played a very limited role (a far cry from the “fierce warrior” image that Spencer has portrayed), but he would later express regret over it.

After the war came to a close, Muhammad participated in the League of the Virtuous (an event that is omitted entirely from Spencer’s biography), a body designed to bring peace on earth and to end bloodshed, violence, and war; the League also aimed “to protect the weak and the defenseless.”  I have discussed the League of the Virtuous in more detail here.  Under the heading of Hilf al-Fudul (the League of the Virtuous), Thomas Patrick Hughes’ A Dictionary of Islam says:

A confederacy formed…for the suppression of violence and injustice at the restoration of peace after the Sacrilegious war. Muhammad was then a youth, and Sir William Muir says this confederacy “aroused an enthusiasm in the mind of Mahomet [Muhammad], which the exploits of the Sacrilegious war failed to kindle.”

Muhammad liked the idea of “protect[ing] the weak and the defenseless,” this being yet another event in his early life that would inspire him.  He also seemed to approve of “international”–or in his context, “super-tribal”–efforts to bring peace to Arabia and thereby avoid bloodshed.  Some time later in his life (still before he became a prophet), Muhammad is said to have arbitrated a peaceful settlement between various tribes with regard to the rebuilding of a shrine, a matter that almost came to swords.

It was a few years later that Muhammad declared his prophethood.  Robert Spencer writes on p.3 of his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

But [Muhammad’s] unique role as prophet-warrior would come later.  After receiving revelations from Allah through the angel Gabriel in 610, he began by just preaching to his tribe the worship of One God and his own position as a prophet.  But he was not well received by his Quraysh brethren in Mecca, who reacted disdainfully to his prophetic call and refused to give up their gods.

(Note: “Allah” is simply the Arabic term for “God”; Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians, for example, refer to God as “Allah”, as does the Arabic Bible itself.)

Spencer specifically inserts the word “just” into the following sentence: “[Muhammad] began by just preaching to his tribe the worship of One God and his own position as a prophet.”  While it is certainly true that Muhammad placed a great emphasis on monotheism, it is not true that he just preached this (or just “his own position as a prophet”).

Neither could these two reasons alone explain why the leaders of the Quraysh (the dominant tribe of Mecca) reacted so disdainfully to Muhammad’s message.  Indeed, a strong component of this opposition came from Muhammad’s call to sweeping social reform;  Prof. Caesar E. Farah writes:

Muhammad’s preaching of monotheism and social reform went hand in hand. Indeed, no other message is so thoroughly underscored in the revelations received from Allah than the stress on equal treatment and social justice. To Muhammad these constituted a vital concomitant of worship. The revelations of the one and only God enjoin consistently the exercise of mercy and benevolence as the necessary adjuncts of belief in Him.

This dual role of Muhammad as preacher and reformer is largely evident in his life and career. [1]

Muhammad was a strong proponent of social justice, arguing for greater rights and protections for the poor and the weak.  He criticized Meccan society as decadent, especially for the way the rich and the powerful (the 1%) treated the most vulnerable members of society (the 99%).

He preached the importance of charity to the poor, a topic that the Quran stresses over and over.  The list of Quranic verses and hadiths that mandate or encourage charity is very extensive and too long to reproduce here, but suffice to say, Muhammad would eventually obligate charity upon all Muslims who could afford it.  He linked charity to salvation itself, declaring: “Charity extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire.” [2]

But, Muhammad’s message was more radical than this: in a statement that would make a Republican’s head explode, Muhammad said:

God has made the payment of charity from [your] wealth obligatory on [you], to be taken from the wealthy among [you] and given to the poor. [3]

And further, he said:

God has enjoined upon wealthy Muslims a due to be taken from their wealth corresponding to the needs of the poor among them. The poor will never suffer from starvation or lack of clothes unless the wealthy neglect their due. If they do, God will surely hold them accountable and punish them severely. [4]

The wealthy should not just willingly give their wealth to the poor, but it is the right (haq) of the poor to be granted something from this wealth.  The Quran argues that it is from God’s Sustenance from which the prosperous are given their wealth, and that God Himself mandates that a portion of it should be given to the poor:

In their wealth is the right (haq) of the beggar and destitute. (Quran, 51:19)

Not only do the poor have a right to a portion of this wealth, but those who give charity “must wish no reward or thanks” from the one who accepts it (76:9), seeking their reward from God alone.  Muhammad obligated a reasonable percentage of one’s wealth to be given to charity (zakat), but recommended giving swaths of it away (sadaqa).  He linked charity to salvation, and miserliness in this regard to damnation.

He preached that all humans would be held to account by God for how they spent their money, and that God did not look kindly to those men who “squandered” their wealth on worldly pursuits.  This message was not just a kindly suggestion but a stinging rebuke of those who “devour the wealth of mankind wantonly” (Quran, 4:29); it condemned the extremely rich (the 1%) who “squandered [their] wealth in extravagance” and who “hoard[ed] up gold and silver”; the Quran commanded:

Give relatives their due, and the needy, and the wayfarer.  Do not squander your wealth in extravagance!  Squanderers are the brethren of Satan. (Quran 17:26-27)

That Muhammad supported “the 99%” over “the 1%” can be ascertained by his prayer:

O God, grant me life as a poor man, cause me to die as a poor man, and resurrect me in their company.

When he was asked why that was, he replied:

Because the poor will enter Paradise before the rich.  Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date.  If you love the poor and bring them near you, God will bring you near Him on Judgment Day. [5]

Wealth in Mecca was concentrated among the city’s nobles; Muhammad questioned the concept of nobility altogether, preaching equality before the law and, more importantly, before God.  The Quran declared that ”the most noble of you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you” (Quran, 49:13).  Muhammad condemned the inequality of society, whereby the poor would be punished for a crime but a rich person would be let off scott-free.  He would later admonish his fellow believers:

The people before you were destroyed [by God] because they inflicted legal punishments on the poor and forgave the rich. [6]

Muhammad spoke out strongly against the practice of usury, the charging of exorbitantly high interest rates.  This was a practice that caused many of the poorer people to become completely bankrupt.  Meanwhile, Muhammad preached mercy towards debtors.  The Quran urged lenders:

If the debtor is in difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if you forgive the debt by way of charity, that is best for you, if you only knew. (Quran, 2:280)

In summary, Muhammad’s message stressed that “wealth should not just circulate between the rich among you” (Quran, 59:7).  Prof. Eugene F. Gorski writes:

It should be noted that from the beginning, the religion Muhammad preached was much more than an acceptance of monotheism. The Qur’an required the Meccans to change their immoral ways. The emphasis of the earliest chapters of the Qur’an was overwhelmingly on social-economic justice: it is good to feed the poor and take care of the needy; it is evil to accumulate wealth solely for one’s own behalf. Muhammad condemned the powerful rich for the oppression of the enfeebled poor and insisted that charitable service for one’s fellow human beings was the identifying characteristic of all faithful Muslims. [7]

It is no wonder then that the majority of Muhammad’s early members were from the depressed classes of society, as Prof. Charles Lindholm notes:

In Mecca, Muhammad’s revelations at first had relatively little influence. His original converts were his wife and some of his closest relatives, but most of the early believers were those who were poor, disenfranchised and humble. They were drawn to the Quran’s condemnation of excessive riches, to its advocacy of generous donations to care for the disadvantaged, and to its repudiation of the arrogance and selfishness of the wealthy. [8]

Islam’s early enemies spoke disdainfully of the “rabble” that followed Muhammad.  Interestingly, Ali Sina, an ardent Islamophobe (one spoken highly of by Robert Spencer), writes off Muhammad’s early followers, saying:

Compare that to the early followers of Muhammad in Mecca. They were mostly the poor, the disenfranchised slaves, the rebellious youths, and a few disaffected women. He preached to the slaves that they should escape the yoke of their masters and emigrate; he told the youths to disobey their parents and follow him; he spoke of social equality and the brotherhood of all the believers… [9]

Is Sina describing Muhammad’s early followers or “the 99 percent movement”?  Like the 99 percent movement of today, it was the rich and powerful that stood in staunch opposition: “Muhammad’s message angered the rich and powerful people of Mecca.” [10] The opposition to Muhammad was led by the nobles of Mecca, who opposed Muhammad’s egalitarian principles and calls to social reform.  This was one of their major motivations behind opposing Muhammad (in addition to Muhammad’s call to monotheism).  Yet, Robert Spencer’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) completely omits this all-important fact, leaving the reader with a skewed impression of Islam’s prophet.

Muhammad also called to reform the condition of slaves and women, which is why he attracted so many slave and women followers.  Prof. Stephen P. Heyneman writes:

A major principle of the Qur’an is that of establishing a just society, one concerned with socioeconomic equality among its component parts. The treatment of women and children, as well as reformation of the institution of slavery, were important elements in this concern with establishing an ethical and viable social order. Muhammad criticized Meccan society for its disregard for the welfare of its weaker members; as an orphan, he had personal acquaintance with the treatment meted out to anyone without powerful support.

Many of the reforms of pre-Islamic customs stipulated in the Qur’an concerned the well-being of women and children, particularly girls. Female infanticide (wa’d)–whether for reasons of honor or poverty–was abolished. Reforms were made to ameliorate some injustices committed by men [against women]…Many of the underprivileged referred to in the Qur’an were women…General injunctions include the right of the indigent to share of the abundance of the wealth…
Specific injunctions recommend express measures to better care for the poor and orphaned. [11]

But because the hate propaganda against Islam is so fierce in regard to these two topics (i.e. Islam and slavery, Islam and women), it would require pages and pages of in-depth analysis that I neither have space or time to delve into at the present; therefore, I will postpone this discussion for a later time.  Suffice to say, however, it is quite incorrect to claim that Muhammad “just preached” monotheism and “his own position as a prophet.”  He preached quite a lot more than that.  As William Montgomery Watt wrote:

In his day and generation Muhammad was a social reformer, indeed a reformer even in the sphere of morals. He created a new system of social security and a new family structure, both of which were a vast improvement on what went before. [12]

When it comes to Muhammad, there is a tendency to scrutinize and even malign him to a far greater extent than any other figure in history.  There are all sorts of arguments raised to justify this special standard, which I will analyze in the future.  For now, however, it is important for the neutral reader to understand that for all that the Islam-haters criticize in this very important historical figure, there is much to like.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Footnotes:
[1] Ceasar E. Farah, Islam (7th Ed.), p.38
[2] Sunan al-Tirmidhi : 2541
[3] Sayyid Saabiq, Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Section 3.1
[4] Ibid.
[5] Sunan al-Tirmidhi : 1376
[6] Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 778
[7] Eugene F. Gorski, Theology of Religions, p.222
[8] Charles Lindholm, The Islamic Middle East, pp.66-68
[9] Ali Sina, Understanding Muhammad, p.209; Sina goes on to argue, quite unconvincingly, that Muhammad’s early followers must then not have been sincere in their belief of him, an argument he raises with little proof.
[10] Richard Wormser, American Islam, p.17
[11] Stephen P. Heyneman, Islam and Social Policy, p.53
[12] William Montgomery Watt, Muhammad at Medina, p.332

More Proof Why You REALLY Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s “Scholarship”

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2012 by loonwatch
Robert Spencer, pseudo-scholar, once again gets Arabic 101 lessons from LoonWatch

A few days ago, I published an article entitled Why You Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (I).

I took issue with Robert Spencer’s opening sentences of his biography of Muhammad (p.5 of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam), in which he wrote:

Muhammad already had experience as a warrior before he assumed the role of the prophet.  He had participated in two local wars between his Quraysh tribe and their neighboring rivals Banu Hawazin.

I wrote a response as follows:

What Spencer leaves out from this talking point–“Muhammad already had experience as warrior before he assumed the role of prophet”!–is quite telling.

He is referring to what is known in Islamic history as Harb al-Fijar (the Sacrilegious War), a series of conflicts that took place when Muhammad was a teenager. The spark that ignited the war was the unsettled murder of a member of one tribe, which lead to a blood feud. Due to “entangling alliances,” many different tribes in the area found themselves at war with each other.

Like most of Muhammad’s life, the details of this event are contested. This dispute is not simply one between modern-day Muslim apologists and Islamophobes, but rather one that traces its way back to the earliest biographers of the Prophet.

In specific, Muhammad’s level of participation in these wars is disputed. On the one hand, some Shia biographers reject the idea that Muhammad partook in them at all. Meanwhile, Sunni biographers write that Muhammad simply accompanied his uncle but did not directly fight in these wars. He only took on a very limited support role: picking up enemy arrows from the battlefield. At the most, he fired off a few arrows, but did not kill anyone.

Not only was Muhammad’s role severely limited, but even this he would later express regret over. Muhammad later recounted: “I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!” [1] Spencer conveniently omits this very important fact, one that mitigates Muhammad’s participation in the war, especially in regards to his views about war and peace.

Spencer replied:

In 2006 I wrote the book on the right, The Truth About Muhammad, a biography of the prophet of Islam based on the earliest Muslim accounts of his life, in order to illustrate what Muslims generally believe that Muhammad said and did. In my forthcoming book, Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry Into Islam’s Obscure Origins, which will be published April 23 by ISI, I examine the historical value of those early Muslim accounts. It is an attempt to determine whether what Muslims believe Muhammad said and did, as recounted in The Truth About Muhammad, actually corresponds to historical reality.

There are numerous reasons to question the historicity of the early Muslim accounts of Muhammad’s life. Take, for example, an incident I refer to briefly in yet another book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades):

Muhammad already had experience as a warrior before he assumed the role of prophet. He had participated in two local wars between his Quraysh tribe and their neighboring rivals Banu Hawazin.

That he participated in these wars, known collectively as the Fijar War, or Sacrilegious War, is generally agreed upon, but there is no agreement about what he thought later about his role in them. The Egyptian writer Muhammad Hussein Haykal, in his 1933 biography, Hayat Muhammad (translated into English as The Life of Muhammad), quotes Muhammad expressing regret for his participation in this war:

“I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!” (Pp. 52-3)

However, the ninth-century Muslim historian Ibn Sa’d, in one of the earliest and most important sources for biographical information on Muhammad, Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir, directly contradicts Haykal by quoting Muhammad saying this about the Fijar War:

I attended it with my uncles and shot arrows there and I do not repent it. (I.143)So which is it?

Is Haykal right that he really did express regret, or is Ibn Sa’d right that he explicitly ruled out doing so? Haykal doesn’t give his source, but it is possible that he had access to a hadith or some Islamic tradition that flatly contradicted the one Ibn Sa’d recorded eleven centuries earlier — although this is unlikely, since Ibn Sa’d often records variant and contradictory reports and discusses how they can be harmonized, or why one should be accepted and the other rejected. In this case Ibn Sa’d gives no hint of any variants. Haykal may simply have altered this tradition for apologetic purposes. Those who cite him as their source on this, or try to build an argument upon his quotation, do so at their own risk.

Nonetheless, such contradictions abound in the hadith reports. Muhammad can quite often be found saying contradictory things, as I show in Did Muhammad Exist?. In that book also I discuss how this odd situation came about: opposing factions both invoked Muhammad as an authority, and invented traditions to support their point of view.

Spencer is hawking his new book, which he is pushing as a “scholarly work” about how Muhammad didn’t exist.  His home page boasts that Robert Spencer is “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam”, “[a] serious scholar”, and “a brilliant scholar.”

I have pointed out in the past that Spencer is not a scholar of any sort–especially not on anything related to Islam.  He simply does not have the academic qualifications to claim this.  What other “scholar” do you know of that doesn’t even have a master’s or PhD degree on the subject he claims to be a “scholar” of?  He only has a one-year master’s degree in “the field of early Christianity”.  How does that make him an “acclaimed scholar of Islam”?

Another major problem with Spencer’s claim to scholarship is that he simply does not speak or understand Arabic.  This much has been apparent in the past, and it becomes painstakingly obvious in his latest response to me (as I shall show below).  I don’t think Spencer needs to know Arabic to criticize Islam (as some Muslim apologists insist), but I do think he needs to know it in order to be considered a “scholar of Islam” (a title he claims)–let alone “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam.”

Combine (1) not having any academic qualifications whatsoever with (2) not knowing Arabic and you have a situation like this: imagine some random blogger claiming to be “a world renowned physician” without ever having (1) gone to medical school and (2) without ever having studied or learned anatomy.  Such a blogger might be able to bring up good points about the field of medicine, but nobody in their right mind would consider him a “world renowned physician”–and if he claimed any such thing, his credibility would be shattered.

The need to understand Arabic in order to be a “scholar of Islam” cannot become more apparent than it is now with Spencer’s latest reply.  And here’s why:  Spencer argues (see quote above) that the hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) found in Haykal’s Hayat Muhammad contradicts the one in Ibn Sa’d’s Kitab Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir.  He argues that Haykal may have reproduced another hadith that contradicts the one found in Ibn Sa’d’s book, or even that Haykal may have engaged in academic deceit (i.e. “altered this tradition for apologetic purposes”).  That’s a serious and bold claim to make against Haykal.

Yet, had Spencer simply been able to read Arabic, he would have realized that the hadith in Haykal’s Hayat Muhammad and Ibn Sa’d’s Al-Tabaqat Al-Kabir are the exact same!  They are word-for-word identical.  In other words, Haykal took the hadith from Ibn Sa’d’s book.  That Spencer couldn’t see this speaks volumes about his “scholarship.”  So, Spencer’s blathering on about Haykal finding another contradictory hadith or of manipulating the text is indicative of his sophomoric “scholarship.”

How could Haykal have reproduced another hadith or have manipulated the text when in fact the wording in both Haykal’s book and Ibn Sa’d’s is the exact same?  Here is what is found in Haykal’s book:

Source: Haykal, Muhammad Husayn, Hayat Muhammad [The Life of Muhammad], 14th ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma’arif, n.d.): 134

And here’s the exact same found in Ibn Sa’d’s book, which Spencer quoted to “trump” Haykal’s hadith (stupidly not realizing they are the exact same!):

Source: Ibn Sa’d,  Tabaqat al-Kabir, edited by Ali Muhammad Umar (Cairo: Maktabat al-Khaniji, 2001) 1:106

To Robert Spencer, who doesn’t read or understand Arabic, that looks like a whole lot of jibberish.  One can imagine Spencer saying: “That’s Greek Arabic to me!”  But, if we help Spencer out by underlining as we did above, even he should be able to verify that they are the exact same–word-for-word.

So, if the two quotes are the exact same, why does Spencer’s quote seem to say the exact opposite as what I quoted?  Why did I translate it as such:

I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!

Whereas Spencer used the following:

I attended it with my uncles and shot arrows there and I do not repent it.

Why the difference?

Being the “acclaimed scholar of Islam” that he is, Spencer relied on Google search to find this English translation of Ibn Sa’d’s book and/or was forced to rely on an English translation of the book (due to his inability to read the source text).  In doing so, Spencer didn’t realize that the sentence he reproduced was a faulty translation.

In Arabic, the underlined part is:

وما أحب أني لم أكن فعلت

In transliteration (for Spencer’s sake), it would be:

wa ma uhibb anni lam akun fa’alt

It translates to:

and what I wish is that I had not done it!

Breaking it down, we have:

وما (wa ma) – and what

أحب (uhibb) – I love/wish (See Hans Wehr for the meaning of this verb)

 أني (anni) – is that I

لم أكن (lam akun) – had not

فعلت (fa’alt) – done [it]

The translator Spencer used made a mistake with the word ما (ma), which is a participle in Arabic that is modified by the words surrounding it.  Hans Wehr lists nine different uses of the word ما (ma), one of which is indeed negation.  However, from a linguistic standpoint, the “negative ma” cannot be used in this particular sentence.  Indeed, it would render the sentence into a nonsensical “double negative”:

And I do not love that I had not done it.

Huh?  If you translated it like so, that would actually mean that Muhammad did not participate in the war.  So, even still, this would actually be proof against Spencer’s claim that Muhammad took part in it.

The translator Spencer relied upon saw two negatives and just tried to “simplify” the text to read: “and I do not repent it.”  This, even though the word “repent” does not appear anywhere in the text.  It is completely imagined.  It should be noted that the translator’s native language was neither Arabic nor English. He didn’t know what to do with the nonsensical double-negative–a sentence that would actually mean that Muhammad did not love the fact that he did not participate in the war.

In reality, the word  ما (ma) was being used as a “relative ma“:

Source: Ryding, Karin C., A Reference Grammar of Modern Standard Arabic (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005): 326

The translator can be forgiven for making a mistake, but Robert Spencer, being “[t]he acclaimed scholar of Islam” should have known better.  The only correct translation of this text would support the translation I used, namely that Muhammad regretted his participation in the war, which was the point of my article.  It was this fact that Spencer failed to include in his book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  Instead, he tried to give the exact opposite (and false) impression, i.e. that Muhammad was already a “warrior” before he became a prophet.

Watch how this hadith from Ibn Sa’d’s book–which Spencer is currently using as his strongest proof–will be quickly tossed away by Spencer now that it doesn’t support his argument any more.  This is, after all, his methodology for “finding the historical Muhammad”: any hadiths that paint Muhammad in a positive light are jettisoned, whereas those that do the opposite are trumpeted and used as a club to hit Muslims over the head with.  With such a biased “methodology”, do you really want to trust Robert Spencer as a source for Muhammad’s biography or for anything related to Islam?

*  *  *  *  *

The bottom line is that Spencer relied on an incorrect translation to write a response to my article.  This has two implications:

1)  Our entire discussion underscores how important it is for a “scholar of Islam” to read, understand and have mastery of the Arabic language.  This is what is expected of a scholar at any credible university, and this is what must be expected of Robert Spencer if he wishes to don the mantle of a scholar of Islam.  It is exactly because of situations like these where knowing how to read Arabic can make or break the argument.

2) Specifically with the Prophet Muhammad, Spencer’s biography is misleading because it portrays Muhammad as “already [having] had experience as a warrior”, which is meant to purposefully mislead the reader.  It is intended to paint a portrait of Muhammad as a fierce warrior–hence, Spencer’s choice of title, “Muhammad: Prophet of War”.

What Spencer leaves out is the fact that, at most, Muhammad’s involvement in the war was menial–mostly just in a support capacity.  This is a far cry from the “fierce warrior” image that Spencer is trying to portray.

Muhammad not only expressed regret for participation in the war, but more importantly, after hostilities ceased he supported the League of the Virtuous (Hilf al-Fudul), which was similar to the League of Nations formed after World War I.  The goal of the League of the Virtuous was to bring an end to bloodshed, violence, and war.  Muhammad’s participation in this–and his ringing endorsement of the League even in his later years of life–tells us a lot about how he viewed the war (and warfare in general).  Under the entry of Hilf al-Fudul, Thomas Patrick Hughes’ A Dictionary of Islam says:

A confederacy formed…for the suppression of violence and injustice at the restoration of peace after the Sacrilegious war. Muhammad was then a youth, and Sir William Muir says this confederacy ”aroused an enthusiasm in the mind of Mahomet [Muhammad], which the exploits of the Sacrilegious war failed to kindle.”

The war Muhammad was not too keen of.  But, the body designed to bring peace on earth was something he was deeply inspired by.

These are facts that Spencer wouldn’t have the reader know.  Yet, whereas there was disagreement among biographers about Muhammad’s participation in the war, there was–as far as I know–no difference of opinion about his participation in and support for the League of the Virtuous.  Why is it that Spencer’s biography focuses on contested facts but stays clear from a more accepted occurrence? It is only because one event helps build his case against Muhammad, and the other does the opposite.  So, he includes what helps and ignores what doesn’t.  Should you really trust Spencer’s biography then?

*  *  *  *  *

Spencer also writes in the same article:

Nonetheless, such contradictions abound in the hadith reports. Muhammad can quite often be found saying contradictory things, as I show in Did Muhammad Exist?. In that book also I discuss how this odd situation came about: opposing factions both invoked Muhammad as an authority, and invented traditions to support their point of view.

Robert Spencer has recently argued that Muhammad didn’t in fact exist.  The desire to negate Muhammad’s existence altogether is born out of his strongly pro-Catholic, anti-Muslim views.

Yet, Spencer should know that historians have doubted the historicity of Moses and Jesus as well.  Almost all of the arguments used against the historicity of Muhammad can be applied to Moses and Jesus.  Some scholars have doubted Moses and Jesus’ existences altogether, just as Spencer doubts the existence of Muhammad.  Once again, what is good for the goose is good for the gander, but try arguing this point and Spencer will cry “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How dare you apply the same standards to Spencer’s religion and beliefs that he does on a routine basis to others!

However, most scholars don’t believe Muhammad didn’t exist, just as most don’t deny the existence of Jesus.  But, the details of Muhammad’s life are far more controversial and up for debate, just as is the case with Jesus.  Finding the historical Muhammad is, like finding the historical Moses or Jesus, an important endeavor.

Yes, contradictory hadiths abound, but that’s no different than is the case in Christianity: Bible scholars argue that the Gospels, for example, are highly contradictory to each other, especially with regard to Jesus.  I can hear it now already: tu quoque, tu quoque!

The fact that contradictory reports exist just means that scholars need to exert energy to determine what’s more reliable and what’s not–and there will always be a level of guesswork and doubt about it.  But the correct way to find the historical Muhammad is not the way Spencer does it: agree with whatever casts Muhammad in a bad light, and dump everything that doesn’t.

Finding the historical Muhammad is an important endeavor that modern scholarship will need to undertake, and you won’t find me disagreeing with that.  Yes, it might call into question stories that many Muslims take for granted, but it will also cast doubt on events that Islamophobes like Robert Spencer rely on to bash Muslims over the head with.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.  For the writing of this article, Dawood (guest contributor) was consulted.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Robert Spencer’s Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (I)

Posted in Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by loonwatch

This article is a part of LoonWatch’s Understanding Jihad Series.

I recently agreed to debate the following thesis with Robert Spencer of JihadWatch:

Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.

This is the main theme in Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  It is even the title of one of his books: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  More than this, it reflects the fundamental difference between he and I: whereas I accept the violent and intolerant aspect inherent in all religious traditions, Spencer specifically targets Islam.

Under this heading, I was willing to debate the following sub-thesis:

The Islamic prophet was more violent and warlike than Jewish and Christian prophets.

This was the argument Spencer brought forth in chapter 1 of his book, entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War.” On p.3, Spencer writes:

[F]or the religious man or woman on the streets of Chicago, Rome, Jerusalem, Damascus, Calcutta, and Bangkok, the words of Jesus, Moses, Muhammad, Krishna, and Buddha mean something far greater than any individual’s reading of them.  And even to the less-than-devout reader, the words of these great religious teachers are clearly not equal in their meaning.

On p.4, Spencer promises to compare Muhammad to prophets and founders of other religious traditions in order “to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity–and all other religious traditions, for that matter–are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil.”  In other words: Muhammad was the most violent of them all, and thus inspires greater evil.

But, is it true?

I’ve already written multiple articles related to this topic, but now I will directly refute chapter 1 of Robert Spencer’s book (“Muhammad: Prophet of War”), which is Spencer’s biography of Muhammad.  I will present a balanced, neutral, and academic picture of Muhammad–in between the Islamophobic narrative of Spencer on the one hand and the understandably biased Muslim apologist view on the other.

Once Muhammad’s life is understood thus, I will compare it to the lives of other prophets–MosesJoshuaSamsonSaulDavid, Jesus, etc.–to see if Muhammad was truly the most violent of them all.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer’s biography of Muhammad is extremely misleading.  This becomes apparent from the get-go. The very first section of Spencer’s biography of Muhammad begins on p.5, entitled “Muhammad the raider.”  Spencer’s opening words are:

Muhammad the raider

Muhammad already had experience as a warrior before he assumed the role of prophet.  He had participated in two local wars between his Quraysh tribe and their neighboring rivals Banu Hawazin.

What Spencer leaves out from this talking point–”Muhammad already had experience as  warrior before he assumed the role of prophet”!–is quite telling.

He is referring to what is known in Islamic history as Harb al-Fijar (the Sacrilegious War), a series of conflicts that took place when Muhammad was a teenager.  The spark that ignited the war was the unsettled murder of a member of one tribe, which lead to a blood feud.  Due to “entangling alliances,” many different tribes in the area found themselves at war with each other.

Like most of Muhammad’s life, the details of this event are contested.  This dispute is not simply one between modern-day Muslim apologists and Islamophobes, but rather one that traces its way back to the earliest biographers of the Prophet.

In specific, Muhammad’s level of participation in these wars is disputed.  On the one hand, some Shia biographers reject the idea that Muhammad partook in them at all.  Meanwhile, Sunni biographers write that Muhammad simply accompanied his uncle but did not directly fight in these wars.  He only took on a very limited support role: picking up enemy arrows from the battlefield.  At the most, he fired off a few arrows, but did not kill anyone.

Not only was Muhammad’s role severely limited, but even this he would later express regret over.  Muhammad later recounted: “I had witnessed that war with my uncle and shot a few arrows therein. How I wish I had never done so!” [1] Spencer conveniently omits this very important fact, one that mitigates Muhammad’s participation in the war, especially in regards to his views about war and peace.

Like World War I, the Sacrilegious War was sparked over a murder and resulted in great turmoil due to “entangling alliances.”  Once hostilities ceased, many of the tribes decided to convene a sort of “League of Nations” to prevent future wars.  The Arabian tribes assembled at the house of a man named Abdullah bin Judan and “forged the League of the Virtuous [Hilf al-Fudul].  The major aims of the League were to prevent wars from breaking out and to protect the weak and the defenseless from their enemies.” [2] Members would “henceforth and forever stand on the side of the victim of injustice,” instead of simply siding based on tribal loyalty. [3] It was hoped that such an arrangement would prevent the blood feuds that were common in that time.

Muhammad took part in the signing of the League of the Virtuous, and it left its indelible mark on him.  He would later say: “I witnessed in the house of Abdullah bin Judan a pact made that I wouldn’t have exchanged for the choicest of herds; and if it had been suggested after Islam, I would have responded positively to it.” [4] (“The choicest herd” is the ancient equivalent of saying: “I wouldn’t trade it in even for a Ferrari.”) Muhammad said further: “If further such pacts be made for the cause of the oppressed and I be called, I would certainly respond.” [5]

The ideals of the League of the Virtuous–of standing for justice regardless of family or tribal loyalty–finds its way into the Quran:

O you who believe, stand firmly for justice, witnesses before God, even if it be against your own selves, your parents or relatives, or whether it be against rich or poor. (4:135)

Throughout his career, Muhammad opposed tribal warfare and blood feuds.  Meanwhile, the Quran instructed the believers to defend the oppressed by fighting the oppressors:

What reason could you have for not fighting in God’s cause–for those men, women and children who are oppressed and cry out, “Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors!  By Your Grace, give us a protector and a savior!” (4:75)

The Sacrilegious War and the League of the Virtuous played a pivotal role in Muhammad’s views on matters of war and peace–but not in the way that Spencer implies it to (i.e. “he was born a warrior!”).  Instead, Muhammad became a “veteran against the war” and greatly supported the idea of a League of the Virtuous, a body intended to bring peace on earth–one that would end violence, bloodshed, and war.

By omitting key details, Spencer willfully misleads the reader.  This is just within the first three lines of his biography of Muhammad.  As we shall see, the deception just gets worse.

To be continued…

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Footnotes:
[1] Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Hayat Muhammad, p.62
[2] S. Ali Asgher Razwy, A Restatement of the History of Islam and Muslims, p.24.
Prof. Joseph Morrison Skelly writes on p.39 of Political Islam: “Hilf al-Fudul was an agreement among several pre-Islamic Arab tribes in the seventh century to prevent injustice and to aid those who had been wronged.”
[3] Haykal, p.62
[4] Ibn Kathir, Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya, p.188
[5] A.H. Qasmi, International Encyclopaedia of Islam, p.113

On the Outlandish Claim That “There is No Islamophobia”

Posted in Feature, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by loonwatch

The FBI released hate crime statistics for the year of 2010, which showed that anti-Semitic crimes topped the list of religiously motivated hate crimes.  Islamophobes have latched on to this fact to claim that “there is no Islamophobia.”  For example, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch asked: ”What do you have to say about the fact that FBI statistics show that there is no ‘Islamophobia’?”

The American Muslim’s Sheila Musaji published a response to this argument, pointing out that it’s a non-sequitur: it does not follow that “there is no Islamophobia” just because there were more anti-Semitic hate crimes reported than anti-Muslim ones.  This would be like arguing that “there is no anti-Semitism” because there were more anti-black hate crimes reported than anti-Semitic ones.

In fact, Musaji points out that there was a 50% increase in the number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes.  Any reasonable person would think this trend to be concerning and ask: what is causing this steep rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes?

There is another issue here: it’s a well-known fact that ethnic minorities are less likely to report hate crimes.  One of the common reasons cited for this is that such minority groups tend to distrust police and authorities–which is certainly the case for Arabs and Muslims, who have every reason to feel this way.

Islamophobia penetrates law enforcement and government on all levels, starting from the police: the Washington Monthly had a very eyeopening article on the subject: How We Train Our Cops to Fear Islam.

The FBI, the governmental institution responsible for monitoring hate crimes, is itself brimming with Islamophobia (see here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Many Muslims in America don’t trust the FBI, and wouldn’t report hate crimes to them, for fear of being accused of something themselves.

This is exactly what happened to a female Muslim student at the University of Bridgeport who reported to authorities that a man was sexually harassing her; not only was the man not investigated, but the female Muslim student herself ended up being investigated by the FBI after the accused molester called her a terrorist.  That’s how vulnerable Muslims are in this country: accuse them of being a terrorist and the FBI will come knocking at their door.

The chain of anti-Muslim bigotry goes even higher to the Department of Homeland Security.  The House Committee on Homeland Security is led by the fervently anti-Muslim Congressman Peter King.  It is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other religion, who are subjected to such hearings.  If King had suggested holding anti-Jewish hearings, the comparisons to Nazi Germany would be quickly invoked (rightfully so) and the Congressman’s career would come to a swift end (again, rightfully so).  Yet, when this bigotry is leveled against Muslims, the reaction is far more mild.

This brings me to my second (and main) point: it is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other faith, who are the number one victims of institutionalized bigotry in America.  This is something more pernicious than lone-wolf hate crimes, because the effects of it are more far-reaching.

It is Muslims, not people of any other religious faith, that were (and continue to be) detained by the hundreds–without trial or charge–and holed away in the hell-hole known as Guantanamo Bay detention camp.  This, even though it was known by the government that “the vast majority of detainees at Guantanamo were innocent.”  Most Americans fail to realize the gravity of this injustice, and continue to believe–like mindless sheep–that the Gitmo prisoners are “the worst of the worst” and are evil Magneto-style villains.  People of the future will be horrified that any sane person would think that this is necessary:

Who but the sickest and most deranged person could think this is OK?

Can you imagine the outcry had it been a Jewish person who had been imprisoned like so by our government?  Even the idea is considered ludicrous.

Gitmo is just the tip of the iceberg.  Thousands of Muslims have been imprisoned in Bagram (“the Other Guantanamo”) and there are probably tens of thousands Muslims that have been detained by the United States, without trial or charge, around the world.  They are subjected to typical American forms of torture:  solitary confinement (considered by human rights experts to be one of the worst forms of torture) and sexual harassment (including sodomy, rape, and having their testicles electrocuted).  Mentally deranged guards routinely used dogs to torture the inmates.

Yes, it is Muslims who are the victims of these horrific crimes.

These abuses are carried out because the institution that is supposed to protect American citizens (including American Muslims)–the U.S. Armed Forces–has instead been, in the words of the hawkish Jeffrey Goldberg, ”waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.”  Quite predictably, the U.S. Armed Forces as an institution is rife with Islamophobia.

It is Muslim civilians who are being incinerated by our bombs, missiles, and drones.  Over the course of the last two decades, the United States has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of over a million Muslims.  America is dropping bombs on multiple Muslim countries (the list just keeps getting longer and longer); Americans feel comfortable dropping bombs on countries they can’t even locate on a map.  These are Islamophobic wars that kill way more people than hate crimes do.

It is Muslims, not Jews or people of any other religion, who are the victims of civil liberty assaults and Endless War.  Glenn Greenwald writes:

[W]ho are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals).  And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War…

To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults… (ones largely confined to Muslims) to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities.

It is Muslims who are the victims of such governmental abuses:

Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

It is absolutely crass to argue that there is more anti-Semitism in America than Islamophobia. There would be nothing less acceptable in our country than anti-Jewish Congressional hearings.  One could simply not imagine imprisoning hundreds of Jews–without trial or charge–in Guantanamo Bay.  If the United States caused the death of over a million Jews, people would be calling this the next Holocaust.  Such things are simply unthinkable, except when Muslims are the intended victims.

Certainly, lone-wolf hate crimes are worrisome, and Jews are one of the most targeted groups in this regard.  This is a serious concern that needs to be addressed–as does the fact that there has been such a steep rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes.  But, we shouldn’t ignore institutionalized bigotry in America, which is even more worrisome.  Muslims are the most vulnerable minority in this regard: they are the absolute lowest on the totem pole and get the dubious distinction of being the number one victims in this regard.

Lastly, it is very morbid the way the anti-Muslim cyber-world is pitting the Jewish community against the Muslim one.  This is not a competition or game.  Hate crimes are not points or goals.  Jews, Muslims, and people of all faiths (or no faith at all) should unite together to fight bigotry and intolerance.  After all, Jews are well aware of the tactics that were once primarily used against them but are now used against Muslims: it may be a different minority, but it’s the same message.

*  *  *  *  *

I encourage everyone to read Sheila Musaji’s take on the subject.  It was her article that prompted me to weigh in on this issue.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Robert Spencer Runs Away from Debating Danios – Again – in ABN Getaway Car

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by loonwatch

Robert Spencer has complained for several years that “Muslims and Leftists” refuse to debate him on his ideas.  He issued an open challenge to debate.  I accepted this challenge and agreed to a radio debate over a year and a half ago, yet Spencer has been running away from me ever since.  To see the chronology behind Spencer’s debate-dodging with me, check out Sheila Musaji’s article Danios vs Spencer: 18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate.

Initially, Spencer had used my anonymity as an excuse to get out of debating me.  After over a year and a half, he seemed to finally put this condition aside and agreed to debate me.  I offered Salon Radio as a possible choice for venue and moderator, to which Spencer initially agreed.  Shortly thereafter, however, Spencer chickened out of this, claiming that Salon Radio was not a neutral venue.  He then insisted upon ABN Sat, a loony right-wing Christian channel with anti-Muslim shows on it like Jihad Exposed.

Remember: Spencer rejected Salon Radio because it was not neutral enough, but meanwhile he has debated Muslims on ABN, which is the last thing on earth that could be called “neutral”.  Anyone see the double standard?

I agreed to ABN, just to get the debate moving along.  After this, Spencer emailed ABN saying: “It will be interesting in any case to see his face on camera.”  When did I ever agree to that?  Remember: I’ve always said that I am willing to engage in a radio (audio) debate with Spencer, so why the insistence that I do video?  After prolonged negotiations (designed to waste my time?), ABN finally refused to host the debate if I would be “audio-only” (as was my condition from the very beginning).

ABN claimed that it was against their policy to have one of the debaters be “audio-only” and that each debater must be on Skype (with video).  This seems to be nothing but a boldfaced lie made by ABN, since here is a debate they hosted just within this last year in which one of the debaters used Skype (video) and the other used the phone (audio only).  It seems that Spencer and ABN are colluding with each other in order to find an excuse to get out of the debate, because Spencer knows that he cannot defend his ideas.

So, the reality is that nothing has changed, and Spencer continues to use my anonymity to dodge the debate with me.

*  *  *  *  *

Moment of truth time for Robert Spencer: instead of wasting everyone’s time negotiating over venue and moderator (all of which seems to be designed to dodge the debate), I challenge you, Robert Spencer of JihadWatch, to a head-to-head debate using a format similar to bloggingheads.tv (no moderator needed) and audio only (like this debate or the one Spencer just did with “Spengler”–readers will note Spencer’s own words there: “Yes, it’s a video, but it’s audio only”).

We can make this debate happen right away.  Nothing fancy is required, no gimmicks, no third party needs to be negotiated with.  All we need is a recorded telephone conversation between you (Spencer) and I (Danios).  Then, we can put the recording of the debate on our respective websites (on LoonWatch and if Spencer wants, on JihadWatch).

As for the topic, we can debate the contents of Spencer’s book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  I argue that this book is completely misleading, whereas Spencer argues that nobody has been able to refute the substance of it but just smear him instead.  We’ll go through the book chapter by chapter and see where the truth lies.  Spencer, if you can’t defend the contents of your book, what are you but a fraud?

A generous time limit can be set for the debate so that we can have a real substantive discussion.  I say we stick with what we both found reasonable initially: three hours.

Spencer, I’m trying to make this debate actually happen, whereas you keep trying to find ways out of it.  The ball is in your court now.

This is the moment of truth to see if Spencer wants to debate or just wants to flee from me.  I think the question most of us have is: what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with next to chicken out of the debate?  Is Spencer too scared to pick up a phone and debate with me?  I think so.

Update I:

Robert Spencer just went on a tweet splurge, attempting to do damage control in order to hide the fact that he is dodging the debate with me.  He argues: “Every debate [on ABN] has same format.”  This is clearly a lie that both ABN and Spencer are sticking to, despite the fact that we have clear evidence to the contrary: as I already pointed out above (a point Spencer ignored), here is an ABN debate in which one of the two debaters was “audio only”, just as I requested.  Their insistence that all debaters must appear on video is something new that they invented for me, just as a way to give Spencer an out.

Like I said, there’s nothing new here: Spencer has chickened out of the debate with me as usual, using my anonymity as a cheap excuse.  He has rejected my new debate offer above, saying about me: “He wants uneven playing field.”  How would that be an “uneven playing field” to have no moderator and just go head-to-head?  Here Spencer is guilty of projection: he is the one who insisted on ABN, a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel, that would be completely in his favor.  Meanwhile, I accepted this “uneven playing field”–to Spencer’s advantage!  This is yet another case of Spencer putting reality on its head.

Lastly, Spencer gets out of my new debate offer by arguing that he will only accept it if I accept a “university invitation.”  He knows that I won’t accept because it would require compromising my anonymity, something I am unwilling to do at this point in time.  Therefore, we’re once again back where we were, with Robert Spencer dodging me in debate, using my anonymity as his ultimate fall back excuse and cop-out.  Why, Spencer, did you waste all of our time by making us think a few days ago that you were ready to stop running?  Please don’t keep wasting everybody’s time.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Danios vs Spencer: 18 months and Spencer still avoiding a debate

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by loonwatch

(cross-posted from The American Muslim)

by Sheila Musaji

Danios of Loonwatch has had an ongoing online discussion with Robert Spencer in an effort to set up a debate.

Spencer has regularly challenged Muslims to debate him, but seems to prefer limiting those debates to marginal figures or useful idiots. As Danios has said in the past Spencer’s modus operandi: engage in debate with those who are weak debaters, fastidiously avoid debating with those who are skilled debaters (and who have solid grasp of the subject matter), and then crow in victory over one’s supposedly undefeated record.

Spencer has also shown a pattern of setting impossible conditions on even something as simple as a request for an interview, let alone a debate, as Dean Obeidallah found out just last month.

In the case of Danios attempt to accept Spencer’s challenge to debate, Spencer displays both of these propensities —  avoiding a genuine debate, and attempting to hide that avoidance by setting so many conditions that the other party will just give up.

First, a little background on the Spencer vs Danios debate saga, In June of 2010, Spencer stated thatThe list of the Leftist and Muslim academics and apologists who have refused my challenge to debate is very long; they know they can’t refute what I say on the basis of evidence, so they resort to broad-based smears and personal attacks — and haughty refusals to debate.

Danios of Loonwatch immediately responded to Spencer I accept your challenge, Spencer.  I agree to a radio debate with you on the topic of jihad and “dhimmitude”, namely chapters 1-4 of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).  It will then be seen if you can defend your own writing, which I argue is a load of sensationalist crock.  Will you accept my challenge to debate or cower in fear?  My guess is that you “know [you] can’t refute what I say” and will “resort to…haughty refusals to debate.”

Ahmed Rehab in an article stating why he personally was not interested in debating Spencer reminded Spencer of Danios acceptance of his challenge to debate:  And now for some irony. Spencer, you are claiming you are ready to debate anyone but that alas no one wants to debate you because no one can. But, is this actually true? Does the name Danios of Loonwatch ring a bell Spencer? You may be burying your head in the sand hoping no one will notice, but a simple Google search on “Robert Spencer debate” reveals your hypocrisy. How come you are ignoring an invitation from another blogger who has challenged you numerous times and whose articles shredding your arguments to pieces are all over the web without a peep of a rebuttal from you? Are you conceding defeat? Are you “running away?”

Robert Spencer at first said that I am willing: if “Danios of Loonwatch” reveals his real name, finds a university willing to host the debate and contracts an impartial moderator, I’m ready when he is.  Spencer expanded on the issue of Danios pseudonymn saying Sorry, I don’t debate fictional characters or pseudonyms. “Danios of Loonwatch” can go debate Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins.

ROUND 1:  Danios agrees to debate Spencer in a radio debate.  Spencer sets conditions:  Danios must reveal his real name, hold the debate at a university, and find an “impartial” moderator.

Danios responded Of course, Spencer’s two conditions–both of which involve revealing my identity–are completely bogus.  I have offered to debate Spencer on the radio. Does Spencer not do radio interviews?  In fact, Spencer has appeared on the radio countless times …   Danios also said This is of course strange since Hugh Fitzgerald, the Vice President of JihadWatch since 2004, himself operates under an anonymous pseudonym.  Fitzgerald is a co-administrator of the site, alongside Spencer.  Is Fitzgerald then a “fictional character” who is only worthy of debate with Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins?  If that is the case, I challenge Hugh Fitzgerald–co-administer and Vice President of JihadWatch–to a radio debate.  The topic will be Jihad, “Dhimmitude”, and Taqiyya (Stealth Jihad), namely chapters 1-4 of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

ROUND 2:  Danios says that if Spencer doesn’t want to debate an individual using a pseudonym, then he will agree to debate Spencer’s Jihad Watch site’s Vice President, Hugh Fitzgerald, who also uses a pseudonym.  (Note: Spencer’s fellow Islamophobes whose work he publishes and promotes often use pseudonymns — e.g. Hanan Qahwaji, Nour Semaan, Rachael Cohen and Brigitte Gabriel are the same person.  Nonie Darwish and Nahid Hyde are the same person.  “Sultan Knish” is actually Daniel Greenfield.  “Baron Bodissey” of Gates of Vienna is actually Edward May.  “Bonni” of Bare Naked Islamis actually Bonni Benstock-Intall.  Fjordman is actually Peder Jensen.  Hugh Fitzgerald has been writing for Jihad Watch since 2004, although no biographical information on this individual appears anywhere else, and no photographs exist even on Jihad Watch.  No one knows who Jihad Watch contributorsHugh Fitzgerald or ]Henry Rochejaquelein, or Marisol actually are.)

Now, we jump forward to January 10, 2012, and the Spencer vs Danios debate saga heats up again.  Here is what Danios posted on Loonwatch about this development

Just yesterday, Robert Spencer posted an article with the title of “Why can’t Muslims debate? (Again)”, saying:

For example, an Islamic supremacist hate site that defames me and lies about what I say regularly charged that I was refusing to debate them:

I responded by repeating yet again something I had reiterated several times in the preceding weeks, when other Muslims had thrown up this site to me:

No response to that at all.

A simple Google search will reveal how this is a great big lie.  Spencer has adamantly refused to engage in a radio debate with LoonWatch and me in particular, using my anonymity as a face-saving excuse.

Do his recent tweets reflect a change in attitude or is he still cowering in fear of me?  Spencer, are you willing to back your words with action and “debate [me] anytime”?  I will debate the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of jihad, “dhimmitude”, and taqiyya.  Are you ready to defend your arguments or not?

I think most of us anticipate “no response to that at all.”

This time, it didn’t take months for Spencer to respond.  Two days later, on January 12th, Danios posted this

When I first read Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) a couple years ago, I knew I could not just refute it but (proverbially speaking) blow it out of the water.  After I penned my first few articles against it, I also knew that Spencer could not issue any substantive reply.  Soon, I began to detect fear in Spencer’s eyes.  It is no wonder then that he has refused to debate me for so long.  I have documented Spencer’s evasion here.

Yet, Robert Spencer is also keenly aware of the fact that his refusal to debate the one site that is dedicated to refuting him–and was voted by his “target population” to be the number #1 non-Muslim blog with the number #1 writer–makes his fear obvious to the world.  When his fear of debating me was pointed out in a recent Twitter war, Spencer finally agreed to debate me.  (Of course, in true Spencer fashion, he accused us of “lying” when we said that he had been refusing to debate us for almost two years.)

Even so, I had predicted–as had many others–that Spencer would try to weasel his way out of the debate.  Lo and behold, this now seems to be the case.

Initially, Spencer sent me an email saying “[t]here needs to be a thesis…So propose one.”  I proposed the following thesis:  Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.  This is not only the central argument in Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) but is also the title of another book of his: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.

Yet, Spencer emailed me back and said:

Actually, I am not interested in debating about Judaism and Christianity. I am only interested in debating regarding Islam and Jihad.

Spencer, the title of your book is a comparison between Christianity and Islam.  So, are you saying that you can’t defend the central tenet and title of your book!?

He goes on:

Your tu quoque arguments are silly and have had abundant airing already. Propose another.

When you write a book titled “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t”, then to you that’s a valid comparison, but when someone refutes that comparison by pointing out how Christianity, by the very same standards you apply to Islam, couldn’t be considered a “religion of peace,” then you cry “tu quoque”!

If my arguments “are silly,” then why don’t you debate me on them and show me how silly they are?  Do you accept my counter-argument that “Judaism and Christianity are just as violent as Islam, if not more so”?  If yes, then please state it openly so that we can declare victory and move on; otherwise, if you disagree with it, then refute it in debate with me.

The entire premise of Spencer’s book, the one I have been refuting all along, is the thesis I have proposed.  It represents the fundamental difference of opinion I have with Robert Spencer and JihadWatch, so why should we debate something else?  Does Spencer think we should debate on just any topic?  Maybe we can debate the following thesis then: Arrested Development should never have been canceled because it is the single best comedy show ever.

I have never said or believed that the Islamic tradition does not have its violent aspects to it.  I have only argued that Islam is not alone in this and that the religious tradition of the dominant group (the Judeo-Christian tradition) is just as bad in this regard, if not worse.  That is my central argument, so why should we debate something else?

To be clear: I will only debate this thesis (Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity) and no other, since (1) it is the central tenet of Robert Spencer’s book and (2) it represents the fundamental difference I have with him.  The fact that Robert Spencer cannot defend his central tenet (and the fundamental difference between us) indicates that he knows he doesn’t stand a chance in defending the thesis.  That’s why he must insist on “propos[ing] another.”

*  *  *  *  *

Additionally, there is an issue regarding “venue.”  He has suggested we debate on ABN SAT–a Christian channel.  Ludicrously, he calls them “neutral,” even though the channel airs a show (the one Spencer debated on) called Jihad Exposed, with the email addressjihadexposed@abnsat.com. Yeah, real “neutral.”

I had earlier complained that Spencer tends to debate only on Christian or conservative channels, to which Spencer accused me of “lying.”  In any case, he asked that I propose another venue other than ABN and in the same email adamantly stated: “I will debate anywhere.”  OK, if that is the case, how about we debate on Salon?

Initially, Spencer responded (bold is mine):

I have no problem with Salon but I guess you mean a print debate, in that case.

I actually had meant Salon Radio, so it would be a recorded audio debate that they could reproduce on the Salon site.  In any case, I emailed somebody at Salon, only to later get this follow-up email from Spencer (bold is mine):

Also, Salon in print is not what I had in mind. If you have a radio show in mind, I wasnt aware that Salon had one, but in that case Salon is not a neutral forum with a neutral moderator.

ABN — they offer a completely neutral forum. Let’s do it there.

Initially, he will “debate anywhere” and he has “no problem with Salon,” only to follow-up with an email rejecting Salon as a venue.  And then he goes back to the same silly Christian channel as an option.

Whether or not Salon will agree to host the debate is still up in the air, but if they accept will Spencer stick by his word that he will “debate anywhere” and that he has “no problem with Salon”?  Spencer?

ROUND 3:  Spencer asks Danios to set a topic, Danios does, Spencer rejects that topic and asks for another.  Spencer agrees to a radio debate “anywhere”, but then refuses the venue proposed by Danios and demands a different venue, ABN and with ABN’s moderator.  (ABN, by the way is a Christian TV ministry whose mission statement says:  ABN is a non-denominational ministry committed to presenting the Word of God and its transforming message of Jesus Christ to Arabic and Aramaic speaking people worldwide through media.  Their approach to this missionary work is not to set a good example of what Christianity is, but to attack Islam.  I could find nothing on their site except such biased attacks.)

This attempt by Danios to arrange a debate with Robert Spencer has now gone on since June of 2010, but perhaps, we are actually getting close to seeing this debate happen.  Here is what Danios posted today, January 15, 2011:

A few days ago, it looked like Robert Spencer of JihadWatch had stopped running away from me and finally agreed to debate me.

But then (surprise, surprise), Spencer tried weaseling out of the debate.

One of Spencer’s sticking points was the issue of venue and moderator.  I had recommendedSalon Radio, whereas he suggested ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel with shows like Jihad Exposed).  In our email exchanges, Spencer kept insisting that ABN is “neutral” (ha!).

The funny thing is that in my initial email to Spencer I pointed out that he always tends to only debate on Christian or conservative channels.  This observation angered Spencer to no end, who insisted that he would “debate anywhere.”  He even seemed to accept Salon as the venue for the debate.

Spencer then had an about-face, rejecting Salon, and once again bringing up ABN, reinforcing what I said earlier: Spencer’s M.O. has been to debate Muslim floozies on Christian or conservative channels, only to then thump his chest when he wins.  The fact that I suggested Salon (a respectable and award-winning site) and Spencer kept insisting on ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel) speaks volumes about what company we prefer: I like the legendary Glenn Greenwald, whereas he likes loony Christian bigots.

The choice of ABN was designed to stack the cards in his favor.  That’s fine.  I am so utterly confident in the searing truth of my argument–and the absolute falsity of his–that I acceptABN as the venue and moderator of the debate.  

[Naturally, I would insist that they give me equal time to speak, reproduce the debate in its full, unedited form, and give our website (and any other website) the right to reproduce our own recording of the debate.  (Spencer has already agreed to a 2-3 hour long debate; if this is too long for ABN to air on their show, they can do what the Daily Show does by airing the first part of the debate and then putting the rest of it online.)]

Readers should understand this decision of mine (i.e. accepting such a hostile venue and moderator) as a reflection of my low regard for Robert Spencer’s arguments and views.  This is especially bold of me, considering the fact that he has engaged in numerous debates whereas I am a novice in this field: I prefer written medium.  Even so, I have absolutely no doubt that I will trounce him in debate.

Now that I have accepted Robert Spencer’s own choice of venue and moderator–one that is heavily slanted in his favor–what excuse will Spencer come up with to avoid debating me?

*  *  *  *  *

I must, however, insist on the following thesis:

Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.

As I stated before, this is not just the main theme in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), but it is even the title of one of his booksReligion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  More than this, it reflects the fundamental differencebetween he and I: whereas I accept the violent and intolerant aspect inherent in all religious traditions, Spencer specifically targets Islam.

Under this thesis, I will individually debate the following sub-points:

1.The Islamic prophet was more violent and warlike than the Judeo-Christian prophets.  This is the main argument in chapter 1 of Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War”. On p.4, Spencer compares Muhammad to Jesus and to all other prophets in order “to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity–and all other religious traditions, for that matter–are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil…[T]hrough the words of Muhammad and Jesus, we can draw a distinction between the core principles that guide the faithful Muslim and Christian.”  In fact, throughout his book Spencer has sidebars that compare Muhammad to Jesus.  (Yet, somehow when you refute this, it’s a “tu quoque fallacy!”)

2. The Quran is more violent and warlike than the Bible.This is the focus of chapter 2, which he entitles “The Qur’an: Book of War”.  On the very first page of this chapter (p.19), Spencer states unequivocally: “There is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence.”  (When I want to refute this claim, then “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)  He says on the same page: “The Qu’ran is unique among the sacred writings of the world in counseling its adherents to make war against unbelievers.”  On pp.26-31, Spencer explains why the Quran is far more violent and warlike than the Bible.  (But refute this claim and you are guilty of committing a “tu quoque fallacy.”)

3. The Islamic religious tradition was more violent and warlike than the Jewish and Christian traditions.This is what chapter 3 of his book is about, entitled “Islam: Religion of War”.  This argument is also spread throughout his book and blog.  For example, on p.31, Spencer argues that in Judaism and Christianity there have been “centuries of interpretive traditions” that have moved away from violent and warlike understandings, whereas “ in Islam, there is no comparable interpretative tradition.” Chapter 14 of his book is entitled “Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?”  (But if you question this point by showing that yes indeed the two traditions are at least equally violent, then get ready to be accused of committing “tu quoque!”)

4. Contemporary Muslims interpret their religion in a much more violent and warlike way than Jews and Christians. Again, this claim is found throughout his book and blog; on p.31, for example, he argues that, unlike Muslims, “modern-day Jews and Christians…simply don’t interpret [their scripture] as exhorting them to violent actions against unbelievers.”

5. Jews had it much better in Christian Europe than the Muslim world.This is addressed in chapter 4 of Spencer’s book, in which he talks about “dhimmitude.”  On the very first page of this chapter, he states: “The idea that Jews fared better in Islamic lands than in Christian Europe is false.”  (OK, so are you ready to defend this statement of yours, Spencer?  Or do you cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” when asked to do so?)  Spencer quotes “[h]istorian Paul Johnson” (a conservative Christian ideologue–surprise, surprise) who says: “the Jewish dhimmi under Moslem rule was worse than under the Christians,” and Spencer himself says that “the Muslim laws were much harsher for Jews than those of Christendom.”  (But ask Spencer to defend that statement and see how it’s automatically a “tu quoque fallacy” to do so.)

6. Islamic law, unlike Judaism and Christianity, permits lying and deception against unbelievers. This is the import of chapter 6 of Spencer’s book, entitled ”Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, and Kill”.  On the very first page of this chapter, Spencer argues that “Islam doesn’t have a moral code analogous to the [Judeo-Christian] Ten Commandments” and that “the idea that Islam shares the general moral outlook of Judaism and Christianity is another PC myth.”  On p.84, he writes that Islam is alone among religions and civilizations in that it fails to espouse “universal moral values.” On the very next page, Spencer bellows: “This is what sets Islam sharply apart from other religious traditions.”  (Try to disagree and suddenly you will hear chants of “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

7. Islamic history was more violent and warlike than Jewish and Christian history. This argument is found in chapter 9 of Spencer’s book, entitled “Islam–Spread by the Sword? You Bet”.  On the first page of this chapter, Spencer writes: “The early spread of Islam and that of Christianity sharply contrast in that Islam spread by force and Christianity didn’t.”  On p.116, Spencer rejects the “myth” that “Christianity and Islam spread in pretty much the same way.”  (Reject that claim–and yep, you got it: “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

8. In the modern day (twentieth and twenty-first century), Muslims are more violent and warlike than Jews and Christians.  This is of course the general theme found not only throughout Spencer’s book but also on his blog.  This is the ultimate fall-back argument of Islamophobes, who routinely ask: “why are there no Jewish or Christian suicide bombers?”

Spencer claims these are “tu quoque fallacies” (his favorite phrase), but in fact he himself is the one making these comparisons.  He makes such comparisons, and then shields himself from all counter-attack by invoking “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How very convenient.

There is a very important reason that Robert Spencer refuses to debate me on this topic and thesis–he knows that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  Even when I let him choose the venue and moderator (one that slants the debate in his favor), he still cannot–at all costs–debate me on the central theme of his book and ideology.  That’s why Spencer is not a real scholar: he has never been forced to defend his thesis, nor had his work peer-reviewed, challenged, and intellectually critiqued.  I’m merely asking Spencer to defend the substance of his book.  This refusal in and of itself is a very powerful reminder of how his ideology is fraudulent, how he himself is nothing more than a hateful ideologue and huckster, and how he is so scared that I will expose him.

The fact that I want to debate him–and that he wants to run away from me–is now self-evident: I have removed any possible barrier by agreeing to his venue and moderator.  So, what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with now to chicken out of this debate?  Will he continue to run away from me on the one hand and on the other hand continue to lament why no liberal or Muslim will debate him?

Don’t hold your breath for a debate: Spencer can’t debate me.  It would be the end of him.  So, he will continue to run.

ROUND 4:  Danios accepts ABN as the venue even though it is not “neutral” but hostile, but insists on the original topic.

Spencer has said in an article bemoaning the fact that Muslims just won’t debate him:

…  other Muslims claimed they wanted to debate me, but never followed up on my invitation to email me and set a topic, date and venue.  … So the real reason why no Muslims will debate me is this:

They know that what I say about Islam and jihad is true, and don’t want that fact to be illustrated to a wider audience.

Why can’t Muslims debate? Because the truth is something they don’t generally wish the Infidels to know. So they do all they can to shut down those Infidels by other means.

There is an ancillary reason also: Islam doesn’t encourage critical thinking. It has no natural theology, only a series of laws declared by fiat. In some contemporary forms of Islam, hardly any premium is put on reasoning—after all, the Qur’an itself warns Muslims not to question (5:101). Consequently, even superficially intelligent Islamic supremacists such as Reza Aslan and Ibrahim Hooper are abjectly incapable of building a cogent intellectual argument and defending it. All they and so many others like them can do, as is clear from their track record, is heap abuse upon those who oppose them.

It seems as if Danios has followed up on all of Spencer’s demands.  Now all that is left is to set a date.  I am holding my breath to see what ROUND 5 will be.

Danios of LoonWatch Accepts Robert Spencer’s Choice of Venue and Moderator: Will Spencer Keep Chickening Out?

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by loonwatch

A few days ago, it looked like Robert Spencer of JihadWatch had stopped running away from me and finally agreed to debate me.

But then (surprise, surprise), Spencer tried weaseling out of the debate.

One of Spencer’s sticking points was the issue of venue and moderator.  I had recommended Salon Radio, whereas he suggested ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel with shows like Jihad Exposed).  In our email exchanges, Spencer kept insisting that ABN is “neutral” (ha!).

The funny thing is that in my initial email to Spencer I pointed out that he always tends to only debate on Christian or conservative channels.  This observation angered Spencer to no end, who insisted that he would “debate anywhere.”  He even seemed to accept Salon as the venue for the debate.

Spencer then had an about-face, rejecting Salon, and once again bringing up ABN, reinforcing what I said earlier: Spencer’s M.O. has been to debate Muslim floozies on Christian or conservative channels, only to then thump his chest when he wins.  The fact that I suggested Salon (a respectable and award-winning site) and Spencer kept insisting on ABN Sat (a loony anti-Muslim Christian channel) speaks volumes about what company we prefer: I like the legendary Glenn Greenwald, whereas he likes loony Christian bigots.

The choice of ABN was designed to stack the cards in his favor.  That’s fine.  I am so utterly confident in the searing truth of my argument–and the absolute falsity of his–that I accept ABN as the venue and moderator of the debate.  

[Naturally, I would insist that they give me equal time to speak, reproduce the debate in its full, unedited form, and give our website (and any other website) the right to reproduce our own recording of the debate.  (Spencer has already agreed to a 2-3 hour long debate; if this is too long for ABN to air on their show, they can do what the Daily Show does by airing the first part of the debate and then putting the rest of it online.)]

Readers should understand this decision of mine (i.e. accepting such a hostile venue and moderator) as a reflection of my low regard for Robert Spencer’s arguments and views.  This is especially bold of me, considering the fact that he has engaged in numerous debates whereas I am a novice in this field: I prefer written medium.  Even so, I have absolutely no doubt that I will trounce him in debate.

Now that I have accepted Robert Spencer’s own choice of venue and moderator–one that is heavily slanted in his favor–what excuse will Spencer come up with to avoid debating me?

*  *  *  *  *

I must, however, insist on the following thesis:

Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.

As I stated before, this is not just the main theme in his book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), but it is even the title of one of his books: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.  More than this, it reflects the fundamental difference between he and I: whereas I accept the violent and intolerant aspect inherent in all religious traditions, Spencer specifically targets Islam.

Under this thesis, I will individually debate the following sub-points:

1. The Islamic prophet was more violent and warlike than the Judeo-Christian prophets.  This is the main argument in chapter 1 of Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), entitled “Muhammad: Prophet of War”. On p.4, Spencer compares Muhammad to Jesus and to all other prophets in order “to emphasize the fallacy of those who claim that Islam and Christianity–and all other religious traditions, for that matter–are basically equal in their ability to inspire good or evil…[T]hrough the words of Muhammad and Jesus, we can draw a distinction between the core principles that guide the faithful Muslim and Christian.”  In fact, throughout his book Spencer has sidebars that compare Muhammad to Jesus.  (Yet, somehow when you refute this, it’s a “tu quoque fallacy!”)

2. The Quran is more violent and warlike than the Bible.  This is the focus of chapter 2, which he entitles “The Qur’an: Book of War”.  On the very first page of this chapter (p.19), Spencer states unequivocally: “There is nothing in the Bible that rivals the Qur’an’s exhortations to violence.”  (When I want to refute this claim, then “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)  He says on the same page: “The Qu’ran is unique among the sacred writings of the world in counseling its adherents to make war against unbelievers.”  On pp.26-31, Spencer explains why the Quran is far more violent and warlike than the Bible.  (But refute this claim and you are guilty of committing a “tu quoque fallacy.”)

3. The Islamic religious tradition was more violent and warlike than the Jewish and Christian traditions.  This is what chapter 3 of his book is about, entitled “Islam: Religion of War”.  This argument is also spread throughout his book and blog.  For example, on p.31, Spencer argues that in Judaism and Christianity there have been “centuries of interpretive traditions” that have moved away from violent and warlike understandings, whereas “[i]n Islam, there is no comparable interpretative tradition.” Chapter 14 of his book is entitled “Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?”  (But if you question this point by showing that yes indeed the two traditions are at least equally violent, then get ready to be accused of committing “tu quoque!”)

4. Contemporary Muslims interpret their religion in a much more violent and warlike way than Jews and Christians. Again, this claim is found throughout his book and blog; on p.31, for example, he argues that, unlike Muslims, “modern-day Jews and Christians…simply don’t interpret [their scripture] as exhorting them to violent actions against unbelievers.”

5. Jews had it much better in Christian Europe than the Muslim world. This is addressed in chapter 4 of Spencer’s book, in which he talks about “dhimmitude.”  On the very first page of this chapter, he states: “The idea that Jews fared better in Islamic lands than in Christian Europe is false.”  (OK, so are you ready to defend this statement of yours, Spencer?  Or do you cry “tu quoque, tu quoque” when asked to do so?)  Spencer quotes “[h]istorian Paul Johnson” (a conservative Christian ideologue–surprise, surprise) who says: “the Jewish dhimmi under Moslem rule was worse than under the Christians,” and Spencer himself says that “the Muslim laws were much harsher for Jews than those of Christendom.”  (But ask Spencer to defend that statement and see how it’s automatically a “tu quoque fallacy” to do so.)

6. Islamic law, unlike Judaism and Christianity, permits lying and deception against unbelievers. This is the import of chapter 6 of Spencer’s book, entitled ”Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, and Kill”.  On the very first page of this chapter, Spencer argues that “Islam doesn’t have a moral code analogous to the [Judeo-Christian] Ten Commandments” and that “the idea that Islam shares the general moral outlook of Judaism and Christianity is another PC myth.”  On p.84, he writes that Islam is alone among religions and civilizations in that it fails to espouse “[u]niversal moral values.” On the very next page, Spencer bellows: “This is what sets Islam sharply apart from other religious traditions.”  (Try to disagree and suddenly you will hear chants of “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

7. Islamic history was more violent and warlike than Jewish and Christian history. This argument is found in chapter 9 of Spencer’s book, entitled “Islam–Spread by the Sword? You Bet”.  On the first page of this chapter, Spencer writes: “The early spread of Islam and that of Christianity sharply contrast in that Islam spread by force and Christianity didn’t.”  On p.116, Spencer rejects the “myth” that “Christianity and Islam spread in pretty much the same way.”  (Reject that claim–and yep, you got it: “tu quoque, tu quoque!”)

8. In the modern day (twentieth and twenty-first century), Muslims are more violent and warlike than Jews and Christians.  This is of course the general theme found not only throughout Spencer’s book but also on his blog.  This is the ultimate fall-back argument of Islamophobes, who routinely ask: “why are there no Jewish or Christian suicide bombers?”

Spencer claims these are “tu quoque fallacies” (his favorite phrase), but in fact he himself is the one making these comparisons.  He makes such comparisons, and then shields himself from all counter-attack by invoking “tu quoque, tu quoque!”  How very convenient.

There is a very important reason that Robert Spencer refuses to debate me on this topic and thesis–he knows that he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.  Even when I let him choose the venue and moderator (one that slants the debate in his favor), he still cannot–at all costs–debate me on the central theme of his book and ideology.  That’s why Spencer is not a real scholar: he has never been forced to defend his thesis, nor had his work peer-reviewed, challenged, and intellectually critiqued.  I’m merely asking Spencer to defend the substance of his book.  This refusal in and of itself is a very powerful reminder of how his ideology is fraudulent, how he himself is nothing more than a hateful ideologue and huckster, and how he is so scared that I will expose him.

The fact that I want to debate him–and that he wants to run away from me–is now self-evident: I have removed any possible barrier by agreeing to his venue and moderator.  So, what excuse will Robert Spencer come up with now to chicken out of this debate?  Will he continue to run away from me on the one hand and on the other hand continue to lament why no liberal or Muslim will debate him?

Don’t hold your breath for a debate: Spencer can’t debate me.  It would be the end of him.  So, he will continue to run.

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Surprise, Surprise: Robert Spencer of JihadWatch is Weaseling Out of Debate with Danios of LoonWatch

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2012 by loonwatch

When I first read Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) a couple years ago, I knew I could not just refute it but (proverbially speaking) blow it out of the water.  After I penned my first few articles against it, I also knew that Spencer could not issue any substantive reply.  Soon, I began to detect fear in Spencer’s eyes.  It is no wonder then that he has refused to debate me for so long.  I have documented Spencer’s evasion here.

Yet, Robert Spencer is also keenly aware of the fact that his refusal to debate the one site that is dedicated to refuting him–and was voted by his “target population” to be the number #1 non-Muslim blog with the number #1 writer–makes his fear obvious to the world.  When his fear of debating me was pointed out in a recent Twitter war, Spencer finally agreed to debate me.  (Of course, in true Spencer fashion, he accused us of “lying” when we said that he had been refusing to debate us for almost two years.)

Even so, I had predicted–as had many others–that Spencer would try to weasel his way out of the debate.  Lo and behold, this now seems to be the case.

Initially, Spencer sent me an email saying “[t]here needs to be a thesis…So propose one.”  I proposed the following thesis:  Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity.  This is not only the central argument in Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) but is also the title of another book of his: Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.

Yet, Spencer emailed me back and said:

Actually, I am not interested in debating about Judaism and Christianity. I am only interested in debating regarding Islam and Jihad.

Spencer, the title of your book is a comparison between Christianity and Islam.  So, are you saying that you can’t defend the central tenet and title of your book!?

He goes on:

Your tu quoque arguments are silly and have had abundant airing already. Propose another.

When you write a book titled “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t”, then to you that’s a valid comparison, but when someone refutes that comparison by pointing out how Christianity, by the very same standards you apply to Islam, couldn’t be considered a “religion of peace,” then you cry “tu quoque”!

If my arguments “are silly,” then why don’t you debate me on them and show me how silly they are?  Do you accept my counter-argument that “Judaism and Christianity are just as violent as Islam, if not more so”?  If yes, then please state it openly so that we can declare victory and move on; otherwise, if you disagree with it, then refute it in debate with me.

The entire premise of Spencer’s book, the one I have been refuting all along, is the thesis I have proposed.  It represents the fundamental difference of opinion I have with Robert Spencer and JihadWatch, so why should we debate something else?  Does Spencer think we should debate on just any topic?  Maybe we can debate the following thesis then: Arrested Development should never have been canceled because it is the single best comedy show ever.

I have never said or believed that the Islamic tradition does not have its violent aspects to it.  I have only argued that Islam is not alone in this and that the religious tradition of the dominant group (the Judeo-Christian tradition) is just as bad in this regard, if not worse.  That is my central argument, so why should we debate something else?

To be clear: I will only debate this thesis (Islam is more violent than other religions, specifically Judaism and Christianity) and no other, since (1) it is the central tenet of Robert Spencer’s book and (2) it represents the fundamental difference I have with him.  The fact that Robert Spencer cannot defend his central tenet (and the fundamental difference between us) indicates that he knows he doesn’t stand a chance in defending the thesis.  That’s why he must insist on “propos[ing] another.”

*  *  *  *  *

Additionally, there is an issue regarding “venue.”  He has suggested we debate on ABN SAT–a Christian channel.  Ludicrously, he calls them “neutral,” even though the channel airs a show (the one Spencer debated on) called Jihad Exposed, with the email address jihadexposed@abnsat.com. Yeah, real “neutral.”

I had earlier complained that Spencer tends to debate only on Christian or conservative channels, to which Spencer accused me of “lying.”  In any case, he asked that I propose another venue other than ABN and in the same email adamantly stated: “I will debate anywhere.”  OK, if that is the case, how about we debate on Salon?

Initially, Spencer responded (bold is mine):

I have no problem with Salon but I guess you mean a print debate, in that case.

I actually had meant Salon Radio, so it would be a recorded audio debate that they could reproduce on the Salon site.  In any case, I emailed somebody at Salon, only to later get this follow-up email from Spencer (bold is mine):

Also, Salon in print is not what I had in mind. If you have a radio show in mind, I wasnt aware that Salon had one, but in that case Salon is not a neutral forum with a neutral moderator.

ABN — they offer a completely neutral forum. Let’s do it there.

Initially, he will “debate anywhere” and he has “no problem with Salon,” only to follow-up with an email rejecting Salon as a venue.  And then he goes back to the same silly Christian channel as an option.

Whether or not Salon will agree to host the debate is still up in the air, but if they accept will Spencer stick by his word that he will “debate anywhere” and that he has “no problem with Salon”?  Spencer?

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Why Can’t Robert Spencer Debate Danios of LoonWatch (Again)?

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by loonwatch

For several years, pseudo-scholar Robert Spencer of JihadWatch has claimed that he would be willing to debate any “Leftist or Muslim” to defend his arguments.  For example, on the 13th of June 2010, Spencer bellowed:

The list of the Leftist and Muslim academics and apologists who have refused my challenge to debate is very long; they know they can’t refute what I say on the basis of evidence, so they resort to broad-based smears and personal attacks — and haughty refusals to debate.

Just a few days later on June 17th, I responded by accepting Spencer’s debate challenge:

Danios of LoonWatch Accepts Robert Spencer’s Challenge to a Debate

I accept your challenge, Spencer. I agree to a radio debate with you on the topic of jihad and “dhimmitude”, namely chapters 1-4 of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). It will then be seen if you can defend your own writing, which I argue is a load of sensationalist crock.

Will you accept my challenge to debate or cower in fear? My guess is that you “know [you] can’t refute what I say” and will “resort to…haughty refusals to debate.”

I predict that the JW minions will give excuses to explain away why their master Robert Spencer will refuse to debate me, instead of urging him to enter into a debate as they always do with other people who challenge his ideas. They already know that Spencer does not stand a chance in a debate with me, which is why they will continue to generate excuses to exonerate him from his intellectual cowardice. This is because deep down inside they know–as does everyone else who has followed his and my writings–what the outcome would be.

Spencer backing down from a debate with me would be curious, considering that he has already conceded that my writings are “rare occasions when the opposition does offer a substantive response.” Spencer, are you saying that you can debate with people so long as they don’t give you a substantive response, in which case you flee?

As most readers are aware, LoonWatch has become the most popular anti-Islamophobia website, giving birth to a sister site called SpencerWatch.  In fact, LoonWatch won the Brass Crescent Award in 2010 and I (Danios) won the Brass Crescent Award for Best Writer in 2011.  The people have spoken, and they clearly want to see a debate between Spencer and I.

To this effect, Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, asked Robert Spencer in October of 2010 why he was dodging the debate with me.  A few days later, Spencer issued a furious response, in which he said:

Debating such a compromised and dishonest individual would be a waste of time

I responded to this saying:

Isn’t that the exact same reasoning that Rehab gave for refusing to debate you, Spencer? The same reasoning you were so opposed to and called cowardice?

Spencer needs another excuse to weasel out of a debate with me. What will it be? Aha! It will be my anonymity! As many of you know, I write anonymously under a pseudonym. Spencer and his fellow fans desperately want to know who I am. Some of them are convinced I am XYZ, and others that I am ABCD. Some have even engaged in textual analysis, trying extremely hard to find out who this cursed Danios is. My question is: who cares? Deal with my arguments, not who I am. Spencer says:

…Since Rehab invokes [Danios] and others have referred to his site [LoonWatch] recently, I am willing: if “Danios of Loonwatch” reveals his real name…

Spencer places this condition on me, knowing full well that I will refuse to reveal my name, since he knows that I like writing anonymously.

On November 1st, 2010, I posted another response:

JihadWatch, a vitriolic hate site run by pretend scholar Robert Spencer, has propelled itself to the forefront of the Islamophobic movement in the United States.  The fear-mongering Spencer has used his hate site to demonize Islam and Muslims.  To bolster his credibility, Robert Spencer had long ago issued an open challenge to “Muslims and leftists” to debate his ideas.

I accepted Spencer’s challenge to a debate on June 17th, 2010.  Since then, several influential Muslim-American spokesmen have expressed their interest in such a debate between Spencer and I.  This includesAhmed Rehab (Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago), who issued a scathing statement against Spencer.  However, it has now been over 135 days since I accepted Robert Spencer’s challenge.  JihadWatch has generated excuse after excuse as to why this radio debate cannot take place.

The latest set of excuses was that I must reveal who I am before a debate can take place.  Spencer issued this pre-condition knowing full well that I value my anonymity too much to do that.  He naturally thought that this was a creative way to get out of a debate with me while at the same time saving face.  Said Spencer:

Sorry, I don’t debate fictional characters or pseudonyms. “Danios of Loonwatch” can go debate Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins.

This is of course strange since Hugh Fitzgerald, the Vice President of JihadWatch since 2004, himself operates under an anonymous pseudonym.  Fitzgerald is a co-administrator of the site, alongside Spencer.  Is Fitzgerald then a “fictional character” who is only worthy of debate with Scot Harvath or Harold Robbins?

If that is the case, I challenge Hugh Fitzgerald–co-administer and Vice President of JihadWatch–to a radio debate.  The topic will be Jihad, “Dhimmitude”, and Taqiyya (Stealth Jihad), namely chapters 1-4 of Robert Spencer’s book The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

Hugh Fitzgerald of JihadWatch uses a pseudonym like myself, and he remains completely anonymous like myself.  Surely two “fictional characters” are worthy of debating each other, right?

Now what excuse will be generated by JihadWatch to avoid this debate with LoonWatch?  I can just see Robert Spencer’s brain churning in order to generate a reason to get out of this one.  The truth is that JihadWatch is a bully, and as soon as someone steps up to a bully and delivers a solid punch to the mouth, the bully backs down like the coward he is.

That was where we last left off, with Robert Spencer coming up with the excuse of my anonymity to dodge a radio debate with me.  In other words, it has been 572 days since I issued my radio debate challenge–and Spencer has never manned up.

Until now?

Just yesterday, Robert Spencer posted an article with the title of “Why can’t Muslims debate? (Again)”, saying:

For example, an Islamic supremacist hate site that defames me and lies about what I say regularly charged that I was refusing to debate them:

I responded by repeating yet again something I had reiterated several times in the preceding weeks, when other Muslims had thrown up this site to me:

No response to that at all.

A simple Google search will reveal how this is a great big lie.  Spencer has adamantly refused to engage in a radio debate with LoonWatch and me in particular, using my anonymity as a face-saving excuse.

Do his recent tweets reflect a change in attitude or is he still cowering in fear of me?  Spencer, are you willing to back your words with action and “debate [me] anytime”?  I will debate the accuracy of your book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), with regard to the topics of jihad, “dhimmitude”, and taqiyya.  Are you ready to defend your arguments or not?

I think most of us anticipate “no response to that at all.”

Danios was the Brass Crescent Award Honorary Mention for Best Writer in 2010 and the Brass Crescent Award Winner for Best Writer in 2011.

Robert Spencer Runs Away From Dean Obeidallah Interview

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature, Loon Blogs with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by loonwatch
Dean_ObeidallahDean Obeidallah

Dean Obeidallah is working on an Islamophobia documentary and asked Robert Spencer if he could interview him. A simple request one would think? Spencer of course is chicken (as we have shown before), he doesn’t want to be exposed for the buffoon he is, and so he responded to Obeidallah with an inquisition-like (pun intended), 1,000+ worded questionnaire.

Isn’t this extremely odd? Spencer attempted to pass off his fear of this interview by claiming that Obeidallah was “running” from his questions. When Obeidallah called him out on not presenting the truth, Spencer begrudgingly published Obeidallah’s response:

Robert – I dont have the time to answer all ur questions in the midst of editing a film and all the other projects Im working on – in fact I didnt even finish reading all of them.

You dont know me but Im a rather direct person so so let me make this easy: If you are interested in being interviewed for our film, I can assure you that we will not quote u out of context or play any games with you- we will ask u straightforward questions – most of which Im sure u have been asked before.

If ur interested then lets please lock in a date when u will be in NYC and conduct the interview. If you’re not interested then lets not waste any more of each other’s time-I know we are both busy people.

Thanks
Dean

That’s pretty direct in my opinion. What is Spencer so scared of? Isn’t he the “champion of freedom,” defending the West against the Muslim hordes?

Here is an opportunity Spencer for you to put your cape on and be the champion of the “counter-Jihad” world!

* Spencer’s questionnaire/commentary:

1. True or false: No comedy show, no matter how clever or winning, is going to eradicate the suspicion that many Americans have of Muslims. This is because Americans are concerned about Islam not because of the work of greasy Islamophobes, but because of Naser Abdo, the would-be second Fort Hood jihad mass murderer; and Khalid Aldawsari, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Lubbock, Texas; and Muhammad Hussain, the would-be jihad bomber in Baltimore; and Mohamed Mohamud, the would-be jihad bomber in Portland; and Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square jihad mass-murderer; and Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, the Arkansas military recruiting station jihad murderer; and Naveed Haq, the jihad mass murderer at the Jewish Community Center in Seattle; and Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, the would-be jihad mass murderer in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh, who hatched a jihad plot to blow up a Manhattan synagogue; and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas airplane jihad bomber; and many others like them who have plotted and/or committed mass murder in the name of Islam and motivated by its texts and teachings — all in the U.S. in the last couple of years.

2. True or false: The fact that there are other Muslims not fighting jihad is just great, but it doesn’t mean that the jihad isn’t happening. This comedy show simply doesn’t address the problem of jihad terrorism and Islamic supremacism.

3. What do you make of the fact that Islamic supremacists from the Muslim Brotherhood invented the term “Islamophobia” in order to deflect attention away from jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, and intimidate opponents thereof?

4. What do you have to say about the fact that FBI statistics show that there is no “Islamophobia”?

5. What do you have to say about the fact that many “anti-Muslim hate crimes” have been faked by Muslims, and that Jews are eight times more likely than Muslims to be the victims of hate attacks.

6. True or false? Since the Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated in its own words to “eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within,” one easy way to do that would be to guilt-trip non-Muslims into being ashamed of resisting jihad activity and Islamic supremacism, for fear of being accused of “Islamophobia.”

7. True or false: Negin Farsad, with her “eye-catching mini dresses,” etc., has more to worry about from observant Muslims than she does from “Islamophobes.”

8. What do you think of this: When you call Geller (and by implication, me) a “Muslim hater,” I believe that you are ascribing people’s legitimate concerns about jihad and Islamic supremacism to “hate,” and that the only effect of this will be to make people who have those legitimate concerns to be even more suspicious of Muslims, which will only lead to more of what you call “Islamophobia.”

9. Is there a plan behind your demonizing and smearing of all anti-jihadists? Do you want to create “Islamophobia” in order to claim privileged victim status for Muslims and exempt them from reasonable law enforcement scrutiny?

10. What kind of work have you done to raise awareness about the escalating persecution of non-Muslim minorities in Muslim societies, which is far worse in Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere than Muslims have it here? Why not?

11. On what basis do you imply that those who are defending freedom against jihad are “exhibiting behavior which is less than consistent with the values of this nation”? What have you done to resist the Muslim Brotherhood’s stated agenda of “sabotaging” this nation “from within”?

12. Aside from the murder of a Sikh by an idiot shortly after 9/11, what evidence do you have of any backlash against Muslims to which you refer so off-handedly in the WaPo? Where are Muslims suffering violence, discrimination, harassment of any kind? Even you expected far worse than you got when you went to the South — and the level of harassment you did get was no worse than what I get in my email every day. So why the overblown claims about it?

13. And yes, what do you think about these recommendations?

Do Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah really want to eradicate “Islamophobia”? As long as Islamic jihad and supremacism continue, a comedy tour will never do the trick. But here is an easy way. They can call on Muslims in the U.S. to do these things:

1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just “terrorism,” but any intention to replace the U.S. Constitution (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that American and Israeli civilians are innocent people, teaching accordingly in mosques and Islamic schools, and behaving in accord with these new teachings.
3. Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.
4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

Ana Kasparian Calls Robert Spencer a Loser and a Sad Sack of …

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2011 by loonwatch

The whole All-American Muslim controversy had the upside of giving birth to this video by The Young Turks.  Ana Kasparian basically calls JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer a loser and a sad sack of …

Cenk Uygur calls Robert Spencer a “clown-o-ramo” and his site to be “full of morons.” Ana Kasparian delivers the elbow from the sky when she asks: “How depressing is it that you dedicate any time at all to creating a website called JihadWatch?”

Ana, believe it or not but this portly man named Robert Spencer has dedicated his entire life to blogging about jihad.  This grown man is nearing the age of 50 and this is how he not only spends his time but it’s his career.

Whenever I visit Neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront (which I do from time to time in order to marvel at the sheer insanity found there), I cannot help but marvel at how these people are obsessing over how much they hate “the blacks”.  Don’t these grown men have anything else to worry about?  Families, mortgages, actual careers?  What could be sadder than a group of old white men meeting in uniform to talk about how much they love Hitler?

It’s the same hate and level of obsession on JihadWatch.  Robert Spencer is their Grand Wizard, and they are all absolute, 100% total losers.  Their unhealthy level of obsessional hatred scares away friends and makes it impossible for them to ever get dates from normal women.  So, most of them hide this hatred in real life and just spend hours trolling the net in their basement.

As for Robert Spencer, one has to wonder what set him off: maybe some Muslim girl broke his heart long time ago by getting with some Muslim dude.  Now, Spencer is getting his revenge out on all Muslims.

That’s very similar to the founder of the Florida Family Association, the man behind the whole All-American Muslim controversy: his reason for dedicating his whole life to hatred has something to do with how he hates himself for being a frustrated porn addict: