Think Islam Doesn’t Persecute Religious Freedom?

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in Religion, The War On Terrorism

Think again. Abdul Rahman isn’t the first…and unless Islamic law changes…he certainly won’t be the last.

From Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:

Middle Easterners who leave the Islamic faith have faced serious persecution for decades. Many have been killed, either by the state or by their former co-religionists. But the Abdul Rahman case marked the first time in recent memory that this practice has attracted significant attention. The issue extends far beyond Afghanistan and poses a problem not just for converts from Islam, but for all those who have invested in a strategy of peace through democratization.

A BROAD CONSENSUS EXISTS through much of the Islamic world that apostates from the faith deserve to be killed. This consensus could be glimpsed in Abdul Rahman’s case, where the judge, Ansarullah Mawlavezada, said, “In this country we have the perfect constitution. It is Islamic law and it is illegal to be a Christian and it should be punished.” Even the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, expected to take a more moderate stance, called for Abdul Rahman’s punishment, claiming that he clearly violated Islamic law.

But apostasy laws stretch far beyond Afghanistan. At least 14 Islamic countries make conversion out of Islam illegal. The crime is punishable by death in at least eight of these states, either through explicit anti-apostasy laws or the broader offense of blasphemy.

Again, this is a clear sign that Islamic law needs to change. You can’t claim that yours is a religion of peace while violently opposing religious freedom. It just doesn’t add up.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 29th, 2006 and is filed under Religion, The War On Terrorism. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

18 Responses to “Think Islam Doesn’t Persecute Religious Freedom?”

  1. Callimachus Says:

    How does one change a law that was written by God?

  2. Joshua Says:

    My thoughts exactly, Cal. Shari’a isn’t like the Constitution, which at least has a provision for amendment. The best we can probably hope for is for Muslims to start selectively ignoring or downplaying certain aspects of shari’a (which, I might add, is no less risky business than abandoning Islam altogether).

  3. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    “Moderate” muslims are actually secular or lapsed muslims. Anyone who sympathises with the goals and grievences of groups like Hamas and Hezb’allah, but don’t agree with violent tactics are still extremists.

    Middle Easterners who leave the Islamic faith have faced serious persecution for decades

    More like centuries.

  4. GN Says:

    Well …. this will probably not sit well with some, but, other than a natural aversion to persecution in general ….. America professed in the beginning that we would practice freedom of religion. There isn’t anything in our constitution that says we are going to force the world to do the same. Christianity has it’s dogma in terms of prosthelising and increasing the flock, but not via the constitution. It is not up to this country to go to another country (helping them or not) and impose our values. It is certainly within the rights and responsibilties of any organized effort to attempt to save who we can. Islam is not by it’s original laws a violent religion. Their book was rewritten by Zealots, with things added, and things removed. It is the same with Christianity, hence we have Catholic, Protestant x ?, and perhaps someday “The Church of Jesus Christ the Nuclear Physicist”. I fail to grasp why our government should join what is obviously an ill conceived crusade on foriegn soil. We can fight THAT battle here if needed, but I think that the Muslims who settle here for the most part are mainstream.

  5. nykrindc Says:

    I think the problem has more to do with those interpreting the Quran, than with the religion itself. I refer you to an excellent blog post by Stacey Yadav, who argues this very point, and summarizes in this post a Muslim scholar who interprets the Quran differently from others and arrives at a far more moderate interpretation of the same. Yes, he is in the minority at this time, but ultimately we will only win this war by supporting people like him against those who interpret the Quran in a radical manner. In the mean time, we kill the jihadists, al Qaedas and Zarqawis, but we also must wage the war were it can only be won, the war of ideas and to do that we need to encourage more people like him to step up to the plate. As Tony Blair said recently, this war can only be won by Muslims in the end.

  6. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Its too bad that all 4 schools of Sunni Shar’ia jurisprudence, as well as all of the Shia’t Ayatollas disagree completely with NYinDC and Ms. Yadav. There are just to many Hadiths that describe violent actions of Mohammad, and too many passages in the Koran that establish archaine and medeival civil laws to convince the majority of Islamic scholars, as well as hundreds of millions of Muslims that Abdul Rahman and his ilk don’t deserve to die.

    Its clear how the laws within Leviticus and Deuteronomy required the ancient Jews to administer their civilization. The Koran is similar, in fact, based on those books and it is simply wishfull thinking that verse 24:2 refers to a metaphoric “100 lashes” for the adulteress, or 5:38 commands the cutting off of “symbolic hands” of thieves.

    Remember that Mohammad was a medeval Arabian warlord, who commanded an army and laid down the law, just like every tribal leader did at the time. The treatment of women in Islam, for example, is consistant with typical Arabian tribal customs of the 7th century. The Koran was written for a 7th century audience, just as the Torah, or the Book of Revalations have their own time and place. It just so happens that this Arabian tribal leader claimed to speak directly to God.

    The problem with the Koran is that it is unique in the Abrahamic faiths, in that the scripture itself is thought to be the actual Word of God vocalized in Arabic to Mohammad. Therefore the commandments therein cannot be interpreted or adapted to a more contemporary audience, as the Jews have done with their Torah. Instead, Muslims must adapt the audience to the Koran.

  7. nykrindc Says:

    The point that Ms. Yadav makes, and which I tried to elaborate on is the fact that the problem lies with interpretation, after all the Old testament calls for adulterers to be stoned as well, but you don’t hear any women actually being stoned in Israel, do you? This despite the fact that they reject Jesus as the Messiah nad by extension the New Testament where he forbid the practice. All religions, except for perhaps Buddhism, have similar admonisions to punish sinners, apostates or others, but we have overcome these interpretations even when such things were written in the “holy” books themselves. Islam is no different.

  8. Justin Gardner Says:

    The point that Ms. Yadav makes, and which I tried to elaborate on is the fact that the problem lies with interpretation, after all the Old testament calls for adulterers to be stoned as well, but you don’t hear any women actually being stoned in Israel, do you?

    Exactly. Islam needs a reformation, but I don’t think the US is going to be able to facilitate that.

    How then will they change? Personally, I’m at a loss.

  9. nykrindc Says:

    Disconnectedness defines danger- Thomas P.M. Barnett

    The Middle East is one of the most disconnected regions to the world economy (Globalization), one of the main strategic objectives of this current war on terror is to reconnect it to the world, faster than al Qaeda and others can disconnect it. As Barnett argues, to accept globalization is to accept that it will change you more than you are likely to affect it, once a country accepts to open up to the world, its internal rule-sets will have to adapt of those of globalization, that means closer to the Rule-sets that govern our world (i.e. Human Rights, Tolerance, and yes consumerism of some sort or another). To do so, we need to help those moderates within the Muslim world to reform their own societies, not openly but using our soft-power (i.e. democratic advocay, money etc, that cannot be traced to US but seem to be native born). We do this, all the while fighting those who have taken up arms against us, with the end goal of exporting enough security to allow a political process to take shape where both conservatives and moderates can recalibrate their rule sets to more closely match our own. (Here I mean the Core of globalization, made up of the US, EU, Japan, ABC’s of South America, India, Brazil, South Africa and other up and coming Core members. The war, as Tony Blair has argued, is a multi-front war, where the ideological struggle is far more important than the military component. That’s how we facilitate the Islamic reformation.

  10. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    Read the last paragraph from my first post. Jews and Christians are allowed to interpret the Bible as NYCinDC suggests, because according to Jewish and Christian theology, the scriptures were divinely inspired i. e. the writers felt the presence of God within their heart and soul, and expressed those thoughts and feelings into words.

    One of the central tenets of Islamic theology is that this form of revalation was flawed. Mankind is inherently corrupt and has consistantly turned their back on God. This is why the Jews were punished by God when their Temple burned, and why the Bible is full of errors corrected by the Koran. God specifically chose an illiterate non-Jew to directly recieve the scriptures (vocally from the angel Gabriel, in the Arabic language), in order that they would not be corrupted by the wickedness of man through time.

    If you read the Koran, the basic theme repeated over and over again is: Those who have been given the scriptures and do not believe in them will suffer the wrath of God. How do you reform a religion that was founded as an anti-reformist movement?

  11. Jimmy the Dhimmi Says:

    I am a little dissapointed with Barnett. He is very much a material determinist, but he is unusual in that he sees globilization and free markets as the solution to poverty, drug trafficking and terrorism rather that the traditional Marxist view of wealth re-distribution.

    If you ask him why most Islamic countries are found in the Gap, he will proclaim that it is because women are excluded from the workforce. This is true, but isn’t it Islamic theology at the heart of that tradition? He once called Mark Steyn a racist because of his criticism of Muslim immigration into Europe. But it was the rejection of western values on behalf of the Muslims that Steyn was in distress about, not their ethnicity or national origin (Arab christians are not a problem, for example).

    Barnett has valuable insight on many things, like the bifarcation of the defense department; however, I think he underestimates the power of this 1400 year old book, and assumes that most people will naturally reject the archaine medeival rule-sets of Islam once enough people get microwave ovens and cable T.V’s.

    I hope he is right, but it is all contingent of the number of “extremists” that exist within Islam. I’m not sure the ideology of fundamental Islam is as mutable as the teenage fantasy of a marxist revolution experienced by Fark guerillas in Columbia (another Gap state).

  12. Callimachus Says:

    There may be two major sects of Islam and four major schools of Sunni law, but they all agree on about 75 percent of the legal matter, including the “kill the apostate” bit. A hadith won’t help you if it’s in the Quran. Quran trumps hadith.

    The only “out” I can see here is that it ought to be the caliph’s job, as the representative of Allah’s justice on earth, to kill the apostate and do all the other wicked and cruel things the Quran commands. And in the absence of a caliphate, there is no authority for any one else to do it.

    But at the same time, the killing of the apostate without order from a caliph, while not approved, is forgivable. And in the big picture, this “out” only holds up until Osama or someone like him re-establishes a caliphate. Then we’re all screwed. Especially if plutonium is involved.

    I try very hard to believe in moderate Muslims — true Muslims who are moderate, not secularized. I don’t find my faith does much toward making them real. Every time I learn about one, his biography ends with his execution or murder, like Taha in Sudan.

  13. GN Says:

    The muslims are exactly where christianity was centuries ago … the inquisitions are not any different than what the muslims are doing. It is not our job to fix the muslim religion. We did, however, put a stick in the hornet’s nest. We can complain about getting stung or smite them. What cannot do is turn them into raging republicans or whining democrats … the idea is absurd … Just had a funny thought, though … Two Muslims are sitting around having a debate about moderates and ….. finish the story, folks.

  14. nykrindc Says:

    Seems Christianity isn’t through with the crusades. Just ask our beloved Tom Delay.

    Sinners in the hands of an angry GOP

    Introducing Rep. Tom DeLay at the War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006 conference in Washington Tuesday, master of ceremonies Rick Scarborough described him as “the man God has appointed in this last day.”

    DeLay ran with the end-times theme “We have been chosen to live as Christians at a time when our culture is being poisoned and our world is being threatened, at a time when sides are being chosen and the future of man hangs in the balance,” he said. “The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will.”

    In the face of lassitude, speakers repeatedly cautioned against giving in to disillusionment and apathy. They reminded the audience that they are one judge away from overturning Roe v. Wade. They warned that Christianity is on the verge of being criminalized in America, and they harped on the manifold dangers of the “homosexual agenda.”

    My friends,” Lawrence White said in a stentorian voice like burnished oak, “America is no longer good. Unrighteousness, evil, corruption, perversion and death are now standard operating procedure in the United States of America. If we do not put an end to it now, in this moment of divine destiny, then God will and God should judge America.”

    Apart from Tommy Boy, other attendees included “featured Sen. John Cornyn and Republican Reps. Todd Akin and Louis Gohmert — with some of the most radical elements of what was once the right-wing fringe. (Sen. Sam Brownback was supposed to speak as well, but he couldn’t make it because he was needed for a vote).”

    At one point, speaker Herb Titus held up a copy of Kevin Phillips’ “American Theocracy,” offering it as evidence of the putative war on Christians.

    For those of you who don’t know who he is, Titus is the “dean of the law school at Pat Robertson’s Regent University” who was forced to resign “because he refused to renounce Christian Reconstructionism.”

    So what is Christian Reconstructionism? As the article notes a theocratic sect that advocates the replacement of civil law with biblical law, including the execution of homosexuals, apostates and women who are unchaste before marriage. Christian Reconstructionists used to be politically radioactive, but a new generation of religious right leaders like Scarborough have embraced them, and some members of today’s GOP apparently see no problem associating with them. This does not mean that America is on the verge of theocracy, but it signals an important shift. The language of religious authoritarianism has become at least somewhat politically acceptable.

    So given the liberal, atheist invasion what is a good Christian to do?

    Rod Parsley, Pentecostal pastor of the World Harvest megachurch in Columbus, Ohio has his crusade:

    “I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!”

    He finished by saying: “A great and noble and righteous nation can resurrect itself out of the smoldering ash heap of moral decline that we find ourselves in today.”

    I know many might say that these “nice people” don’t have a prayer of getting into power in our country and imposing their beliefs on the rest of us, but given their powerful backers it does give you pause for worry.

    That said, this brings me back to my original point. What is most important is interpretation of religious texts than the texts themselves. I’m not naive, I know there is a problem in Islam, what I am saying however is that we need to bring more moderates into the fold, we need to get them to stand up and fight the jiihadists on their own terms. This is not a battle we will win within the next year, two or even ten, it is a generational war that will require a generational shift. Throughout, while we fight, hunt and kill the jihadists who pick up arms against us and their own people, we have to promote clandestinely those who are more amenable to change and moderation, even if it means accepting the Muslim Brotherhood gaining seats in Egypt, Hamas as a governmetn in Palestine, and other equally disturbing trends. One of the main criticisms leveled against us by jihadists is that we have never allowed them to come to power when they have won elections (see Algeria), I say, let’s give those willing to still try to gain power through the ballot box put their money where their mouth is, can they provide good leadership? If not, voters will turn them out into the street, so long as they get a fair shot. That’s another part of what our Big Bang strategy in teh Middle East was supposed to do, force Islamists to decide whether to achieve power through electoral politics, or go the jihadist route. So far, I think we’ve gotten the results we’ve wanted even if many people naively expected a different outcome. To keep it rolling and make the jihadist irrelevant we are going to need muslims in coming years to step up to the plate.

  15. nykrindc Says:

    Seems Christianity isn’t through with the crusades. Just ask our beloved Tom Delay.

    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/03/29/waronchristians/index.html

    Sinners in the hands of an angry GOP

    Introducing Rep. Tom DeLay at the War on Christians and the Values Voter in 2006 conference in Washington Tuesday, master of ceremonies Rick Scarborough described him as “the man God has appointed in this last day.”

    DeLay ran with the end-times theme “We have been chosen to live as Christians at a time when our culture is being poisoned and our world is being threatened, at a time when sides are being chosen and the future of man hangs in the balance,” he said. “The enemies of virtue may be on the march, but they have not won, and if we put our trust in Christ, they never will.”

    In the face of lassitude, speakers repeatedly cautioned against giving in to disillusionment and apathy. They reminded the audience that they are one judge away from overturning Roe v. Wade. They warned that Christianity is on the verge of being criminalized in America, and they harped on the manifold dangers of the “homosexual agenda.”

    My friends,” Lawrence White said in a stentorian voice like burnished oak, “America is no longer good. Unrighteousness, evil, corruption, perversion and death are now standard operating procedure in the United States of America. If we do not put an end to it now, in this moment of divine destiny, then God will and God should judge America.”

    Apart from Tommy Boy, other attendees included “featured Sen. John Cornyn and Republican Reps. Todd Akin and Louis Gohmert — with some of the most radical elements of what was once the right-wing fringe. (Sen. Sam Brownback was supposed to speak as well, but he couldn’t make it because he was needed for a vote).”

    At one point, speaker Herb Titus held up a copy of Kevin Phillips’ “American Theocracy,” offering it as evidence of the putative war on Christians.

    For those of you who don’t know who he is, Titus is the “dean of the law school at Pat Robertson’s Regent University” who was forced to resign “because he refused to renounce Christian Reconstructionism.”

    So what is Christian Reconstructionism? As the article notes a theocratic sect that advocates the replacement of civil law with biblical law, including the execution of homosexuals, apostates and women who are unchaste before marriage. Christian Reconstructionists used to be politically radioactive, but a new generation of religious right leaders like Scarborough have embraced them, and some members of today’s GOP apparently see no problem associating with them. This does not mean that America is on the verge of theocracy, but it signals an important shift. The language of religious authoritarianism has become at least somewhat politically acceptable.

    So given the liberal, atheist invasion what is a good Christian to do?

    Rod Parsley, Pentecostal pastor of the World Harvest megachurch in Columbus, Ohio has his crusade:

    “I came to incite a riot! Man your battle stations! Ready your weapons! Lock and load!”

    He finished by saying: “A great and noble and righteous nation can resurrect itself out of the smoldering ash heap of moral decline that we find ourselves in today.”

    I know many might say that these “nice people” don’t have a prayer of getting into power in our country and imposing their beliefs on the rest of us, but given their powerful backers it does give you pause for worry.

    That said, this brings me back to my original point. What is most important is interpretation of religious texts than the texts themselves. I’m not naive, I know there is a problem in Islam, what I am saying however is that we need to bring more moderates into the fold, we need to get them to stand up and fight the jiihadists on their own terms. This is not a battle we will win within the next year, two or even ten, it is a generational war that will require a generational shift. Throughout, while we fight, hunt and kill the jihadists who pick up arms against us and their own people, we have to promote clandestinely those who are more amenable to change and moderation, even if it means accepting the Muslim Brotherhood gaining seats in Egypt, Hamas as a governmetn in Palestine, and other equally disturbing trends. One of the main criticisms leveled against us by jihadists is that we have never allowed them to come to power when they have won elections (see Algeria), I say, let’s give those willing to still try to gain power through the ballot box put their money where their mouth is, can they provide good leadership? If not, voters will turn them out into the street, so long as they get a fair shot. That’s another part of what our Big Bang strategy in teh Middle East was supposed to do, force Islamists to decide whether to achieve power through electoral politics, or go the jihadist route. So far, I think we’ve gotten the results we’ve wanted even if many people naively expected a different outcome. To keep it rolling and make the jihadist irrelevant we are going to need muslims in coming years to step up to the plate.

  16. Callimachus Says:

    35 inches of Tom DeLay quotes. There’s a thread-killer for you.

  17. Dav Says:

    I’m sorry I don’t have an opinion on this I’m still trying to be a moderate

  18. Justin Gardner Says:

    I’m sorry I don’t have an opinion on this I’m still trying to be a moderate

    Well said Dav! Moderates are politically paralyzed. We can’t make decisions on anything!

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