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1 CuriousLurker  Feb 18, 2015 12:08:43pm

Thank you.

2 BlueSpotinAL  Feb 18, 2015 1:01:56pm

I wonder after all that: Has Graeme Wood ever read the Bible?

3 aagcobb  Feb 18, 2015 1:41:02pm

re: #2 BlueSpotinAL

I wonder after all that: Has Graeme Wood ever read the Bible?

I read the Wood article, and I didn’t get that he was saying Islam is inherently violent or ISIS is inevitable. In fact, he devoted a considerable portion of his article to the Salafis who also interpret the Quran in a literal way but focus on self-improvement instead of violence and who oppose ISIS. And I assume he is also familiar with Christian Reconstructionists, who want to create a Christian version of ISIS complete with stonings and slavery, but he didn’t have any reason to mention them because his article was explaining what drives ISIS.

4 Aunty Entity Dragon  Feb 18, 2015 1:41:44pm

I do think there is a “No True Scotsman” fallacy nvolved when people point to atrocities committed by Daesh or point at their curious doctrinal leanings.

You can look at earlier versons of Christianity in America that used the considerable scriptural support for slavery as a pretext for owning African slaves.

Does Daesh have a textual leg to stand on when they espouse their ideology? It certainly seems they do (If you want to go with a certain school of thought that all innovation regarding interpretation after about 1,000 AD is forbidden)…and more to the point, they really do believe it.

Did white slave holders in America have a textual basis for chattel slavery?

Yeah, they did, and they believed it.

5 Doofus  Feb 18, 2015 1:51:59pm

re: #3 aagcobb

You are exactly right, well said.

6 Doofus  Feb 18, 2015 1:54:53pm

Jack Jenkins’ article is a great example of a straw man argument.

7 CuriousLurker  Feb 18, 2015 2:54:26pm

That extremists can cherry pick texts to support their actions does not make their interpretation “legitimate” as one of the numerous quotes from Haykel asserts. Emphasis added:

He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.” […]

Haykel also says:

But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.”

What he’s doing, albeit in a semi-subtle way, is confirming the Gelleresque claims of Taqiyya!!11!. It’s amazing how many non-Muslims claim to have a better understanding of Islam than Muslims themselves.

A Muslim simply believing something doesn’t make it legitimate, no matter how sincere that belief is. Or perhaps the definition of “legitimate” has changed recently? I’ll ask again as I did on the previous page in my #2:

If Daesh is legitimate, then why did close to 200 Muslim leaders and scholars from around the world write an open letter discussing no less that 24 points on which they are entirely off base? Here’s the PDF of the entire letter in English—it’s also available in 9 other languages, including Arabic, at the website’s main page—there are 126 signatures at the end of it & 49 more here. […]

People, listen—Wood even quoted Anjem-freaking-asshgole-Choudary several times, including his take on who qualifies a Muslim, FFS. Does that not set off ANY effing alarms for anyone? Why are they even asking him? He’s not a scholar or an authority on Islamic jurisprudence. Hell, he’s not even representative of a significant portion of British Muslims, he’s just a bigoted extremist asshole who’s full of himself. But, yeah, lets quote him as if he’s some kind of “legitimate” authority on mainstream Islam:

Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.” […]

It’s really creepy to see how quickly people’s critical thinking skills falter when it comes to Islam. That’s something I’m now convinced groups like Daesh are counting on.

8 BlueSpotinAL  Feb 18, 2015 3:33:21pm

re: #3 aagcobb

I read the Wood article, and I didn’t get that he was saying Islam is inherently violent or ISIS is inevitable. In fact, he devoted a considerable portion of his article to the Salafis who also interpret the Quran in a literal way but focus on self-improvement instead of violence and who oppose ISIS. And I assume he is also familiar with Christian Reconstructionists, who want to create a Christian version of ISIS complete with stonings and slavery, but he didn’t have any reason to mention them because his article was explaining what drives ISIS.

I have the same difficulty with “The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic.” as I would with “The reality is that the Christian Reconstructionism is Christian. Very Christian.” That is my main objection.

Fundamentalist reading of religious texts from less civilized times is of course going to lead to barbarism. What will stop ISIS is what prevents Christian Reconstructionists (or other philosophies where rigid adherence to rules set from above takes precedence over humanity) from gaining power here.

Fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon, since it is a rejection of modern ideas. Religious and cultural ideas only, not technology. Massively employing cognitive dissonance (accept DNA analysis, reject evolution). Charles got a huge influx of such victims here recently.

9 jonhendry  Feb 18, 2015 6:16:35pm

re: #7 CuriousLurker

Wood’s reliance on Haykel raised my eyebrow. Wood notes that Haykel is Lebanese, but doesn’t mention that he is not Muslim. I suspect his mention of Haykel’s ethnicity was intended to mislead the reader into thinking Haykel is Muslim, when he isn’t.

Think a person like Haykel with Lebanese Christian and Jewish parents might have some biases about Muslims? I think so. (I seem to recall a woman who is one of the most deranged Islamophobes is also a Lebanese Christian.)

A second opinion was warranted, even if “everyone told Wood to talk to Haykel”.

10 CuriousLurker  Feb 18, 2015 6:29:23pm

re: #9 jonhendry

I had the same thought on noting that Haykel is part Lebanese as there are some really strong biases there (I wasn’t aware his other parent was Jewish). I hadn’t heard of him before this article and haven’t had a chance to look for more info about him, so thanks.

I’m still trying to make time to check and see why Wood’s name is ringing bells—makes my Spidey sense tingle.

11 CuriousLurker  Feb 19, 2015 1:36:53pm

Interestingly, Haykel seems to have a totally different analysis of Daesh in this video as he asserts (around 1:32) that, “This movement is an expression of political… deep political disenfranchisement.”

The talk was from November 14, 2014, just over three months ago. He states that we should stay out of it because we’ve proven that we don’t know how to effectively deal with issues in the Middle East. As a matter of fact, he didn’t say anything in this five-minute clip that I disagree with—some of it is actually stuff I’ve said myself.

In this second clip from the same talk, he says the same thing at the very beginning, “IS is a symptom or a manifestation of a feeling that is very deep amongst Sunni Arabs of being disenfranchised. Not just disenfranchised in the sense of not having power, but also being badly ruled by regimes that are dictatorial, brutal in their authoritarianism, corrupt, and that have not lived up to their promises when it comes to economic development and providing jobs & services and so on.”

At no point in either video does he claim that it is a “legitimate” Islamic movement, nor does he claim that—as stated in Wood’s article—Muslims who say the movement is un-Islamic1 are simply, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.”

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark….

I’m off to go see if I can find the rest of the talk & do some more digging.


1. Just in case anyone still doesn’t get the difference, I’m referring to un-Islamic in the sense that it lacks legitimacy in the same way that the KKK is not a “legitimate” Christian movement, despite the fact that they pull quotes from the Bible, use a cross as their emblem, and burn crosses to terrorize people.

12 CuriousLurker  Feb 19, 2015 3:08:17pm

Here we go.

Q: IS has received significant critique form Sunni scholars over its interpretation of Islam. How Islamic is the Islamic State?

Haykel’s answer:

He asks why, if Muslims say Daesh is un-Islamic, they don’t declare them infidels. I’m surprised that Haykel, being a Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, doesn’t know this, or, if he does, why he neglected to explain that it would be a reason that most Muslims hesitate to accuse anyone of being an outright apostate. At this point, let me refer the reader once again to the letter from nearly 200 Islamic scholars & leaders I mentioned in my #7, above.

I would add that being an expert/scholar on the Near East, Middle East, North Africa and/or Central Asia and knowing how to speak Arabic does not make one an Islamic scholar—the status of alim has a completely different set of requirements.

In Islamic law, takfir refers to the practice of excommunication, declaring someone a non-Muslim or an apostate, an unbeliever or kafir, therefore it is a very serious matter. It can also apply to groups. Committing a sin doesn’t render one an apostate, no matter how awful the sin, however denying that the sin is indeed something forbidden by Islam would. Typically, takfir is pronounced by an alim, except in cases where a person has made the declaration him/herself:

Takfir: Conditions

The declaration of takfir may be made if the alleged Muslim declares himself a kafir, but more typically applies to a judgement that an action or statement by the alleged Muslim indicates his knowing abandonment of Islam.

Orthodox Islamic law normally requires stringent evidence for such accusations. In many cases an Islamic court or a religious leader, an alim must pronounce a fatwa (legal judgement) of takfir against an individual or group.

Calling someone a takfiri has actually become a slur amongst Muslims because it’s something extremists have become known for (typically, they apply it to anyone who has the temerity to disagree with their interpretation of Islam).

Obviously, one here has to accept what I’m saying as being accurate, no matter how many examples I give to try to clarify things. Just remember that I, likewise, am not required to accept allowing non-Muslims to define or dictate what is or isn’t a “legitimate” part of my faith, especially when they have a very limited understanding of it.

I have an English translation of the Tanakh and have read some of Maimonides’ writing, but I’m obviously not a scholar of Judaism, therefore never in a million years would I presume to tell a Jew what constitutes “legitimate” Jewish belief or declare who can/cannot be considered a Jew within Judaism.

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