New York Times celebrates Muhammad and Islam twice in one edition, emphasizing only the good deeds of the Prophet, and informing us that “true Islam” doesn’t kill blasphemers

If you had any doubt that the New York Times is going the way of Authoritarian Leftism, which includes whitewashing the nasty bits of Islam, have a look at the two articles that appeared this week—in the same op-ed section.

The first is by Haroon Moghul (click on screenshot below), described as “a fellow in Jewish-Muslim relations at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and the author of ‘How to Be a Muslim: An American Story’.”

Moghul recounts a time in his youth when he was on the verge of atheism, since he couldn’t personally connect with his faith. Then he took a trip to Medina with his brother, and there he had an epiphany that brought him back to Islam:

In Medina I realized I actually believed all the stories about him. That he buried the least loved of his fellow Arabs with his own hands. That he put two of his fingers together and promised that he and the orphan would be that close in the life to come. That he so loved the vulnerable that God loved him in turn.

Sitting facing his tomb, pilgrims pressing against me on every side, I honest to God missed him. I still feel that way today, as absurd as it might sound. He is a living presence in my life.

This is what William James described as the sort of spiritual experience that turns many people religious. But of course such experiences don’t mean that what you accept is true.  If Moghul really accepts “all the stories about Muhammad”, then he must surely accept that Allah, through the angel Gabriel, dictated the Qur’an to Muhammad, that Muhammad flew from Mecca to Jerusalem and back on Buraq the Flying Horse, and so on.

But of course once you develop a personal relationship with Muhammad, you must whitewash all of the bad things he did. In fact, Moghul claims that Muhammad argues do any bad things: that all the killings in which he engaged were merely in defense of his nascent and beleaguered faith:

He was an outsider like me. Being an orphan from age 6 in a very patrilineal, very patriarchal and very tribal society must have been a social death sentence. Muhammad could have reacted by seething with resentment and lashing out at the world. He could have turned on himself. Instead he became a paragon of compassion.

When he first proclaimed prophecy, even his own uncle laughed at him, but he never laughed back. His followers were reviled, beaten and killed. He didn’t strike back. Rather he ran from one town to another, like Hagar at Paran, desperate to find his people refuge. Twelve years into his religious mission, in the year 622, he was forced to flee his native Mecca and arrived a refugee in Medina — but the people who chased him there didn’t leave him be. Not long after finding safe harbor, he was forced to take up arms, time and again, to defend his faith, his community, and himself.

But even as he did, he remained dedicated to building a society that would provide the inclusion he (and his followers) had been deprived of.

Some inclusion! Whatever you think of Muhammad, he certainly was not a paragon of compassion. According to the hadith, and throughout the Qur’an, there is a call for the murder of infidels and apostates, something that Muhammad engaged in repeatedly, murdering innocent people who didn’t directly attack Islam. He was particularly murderous towards the Jews, and loved to raid caravans, which of course involved indiscriminate killing. If Muhammad accepted everything that Gabriel dictated to him, then he was an unkind and vicious man. Just read the Qur’an. Here’s one bit from it:

Surah 9:29Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Such verses occur repeatedly throughout the Qur’an. Muhammad’s goal was to spread his religion, and if that involved killing “infidels,” so be it.

But Moghul sees it differently:

When terrorists struck New York and Washington in 2001 I was horrified, scared and bewildered. The Muhammad I revered bore no resemblance to the Muhammad they claimed. In their view, Muhammad was a conqueror first, a politician and a general second, and a man of faith last, and least.

This is a gross misunderstanding of his life, and an inversion of the message he actually preached. When he had nowhere else to turn, when he couldn’t find anyone to protect his community, then — and only then — did he take up arms to defend his faith.

All I can say here is that “many scholars disagree.”  The fact is that, like the Bible, the Qur’an and hadith contain passages extolling both hatred and murder on one hand, and tolerance and compassion on the other. Moghul cherry-picks the “good” bits, and twists the bad ones so they come out as a mere defense of a beleaguered religion.

Moghul goes on, spreading the whitewash thickly with his Trowel of Peace:

On the occasion of his birthday, we Americans would do well to study Muhammad’s life: He preached and attempted a politics of tolerance, which is not what people of faith are associated with today. Muslims could stand for re-examining his life, too. Muhammad is called a “rahmah,” a mercy. He is often addressed as “habib Allah,” the beloved of God. If these are not words our communities are associated with, we should take a long look in the mirror and wonder why.

But let us remember, too, that Muhammad approved of slavery and that his dictates were certainly not ‘inclusive’ of women, whom he saw as lesser beings who must obey their husbands. He married a 6-year-old girl and then raped her three years later. That has led to Islam’s widespread practice of older men taking child brides. He approved of men being able to have sex with female slaves and captives, even if they were married. And of course the inequality of women, derived from both the Qur’an and the hadith, has been enshrined in sharia law. Here’s some of the Qur’an’s misogyny:

Surah 4:34:  Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance—[first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally] strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever exalted and grand.

Surah 4:12  And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.

I wonder how Moghul reacts to stuff like that.

Now in ignoring the bad stuff about Muhammad, Moghul is not behaving much differently from, say, Jews who accept the Old Testament but ignore the bad stuff (like killing your kids if they curse you, as well as those who pick up sticks on the Sabbath). But the Islam-ignorant reader may be forgiven for thinking that, as a Muslim (and like the unctuous Reza Aslan), Moghul’s take on Muhammad is accurate. Further, Moghul is engaged in “building bridges between Jewish and Muslim communities,” an admirable endeavor.” But there wouldn’t be as much of a need to build bridges if a hatred of Jews wasn’t built into Islam. And that’s partly the fault of Moghul’s hero—Muhammad.

But the second piece, by Mustafa Akyol is worse, for it’s a prime example of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, in which, by definition, Muslisms who kill or persecute others for blasphemy aren’t practicing “real Islam”. (Click on the screenshot below to see the Big Whitewash). Akyol’s piece can also be used to excuse Islam of bearing any responsibility for the perfidies of ISIS or of those who, like the Charlie Hebdo murderers, strike down “blasphemers” in the name of Allah.

Although extremist Muslims throughout the world kill or try to kill blasphemers, apostates, and atheists (Asia Bibi, Theo van Gogh, and Avjit Roy are three examples, not to mention the Charlie Hebdo staff), Akyol dismisses this as a perversion of “true Islam” because the Qur’an doesn’t contain any verses that explicitly call for the murder of blasphemers. After recounting some of the instances of trying to kill blasphemers, including the fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, Akyol says this:

Muslims who support such violent or oppressive responses to blasphemy are missing two important points. One is that it is them, not the blasphemers, who are defaming Islam, by presenting it as an immature tradition that has little room for civilized discourse. The second point is that their zealotry is not as religiously grounded as they think.

To see this, one must look at the Quran — the most fundamental and only undisputed source of Islam. Most notably, throughout all of its 6,236 verses, it never tells Muslims to silence blasphemy with force. It tells them only to respond with dignity.

So if Akyol is right, and I will take his word that the Qur’an doesn’t tell Muslims to kill blasphemers, why are all the countries in the world that make blasphemy a capital crime Muslim-majority nations? Why the violence and murders after the publication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, or the baying for the blood of Asia Bibi in Pakistan? How did Islam get so perverted?

Well, first of all, although the Qur’an doesn’t call for the murder of blasphemers, it does call for the murder of infidels. It doesn’t take more than a few neurons to make a connection between those who reject Islam and those who slander it or question the veracity of Muhammad. Further, apostates, simply by virtue of leaving the faith, can be and have been accused of blasphemy.

More important, “true Islam” comes not just from the Qur’an (and who but Muslims believe that was dictated by an angel?), but from the hadith, the sayings and doings of Muhammad as reported, some time after his death, by his followers. You can’t say the Qur’an represents “true” Islam while rejecting the hadith as fables, since the credibility of both is about the same.  And some of the hadith are more explicit in urging the execution of blasphemers.  Over the years, various schools of Islam have interpreted the hadith as calling for the execution of blasphemers (some schools give non-Muslim blasphemers a chance to live if they convert to Islam). To see a long discussion of these issues, read the Wikipedia article on “Islam and blasphemy.” The punishments for blasphemy are certainly religiously grounded.

In the end, arguing about what version of Islam is “true” is a fool’s errand, just like arguing about which version of Christianity is “true”. Southern Baptists will tell you that “true” Christianity denies evolution and makes abortion murder, while Methodists will take the opposite stand. But both will justify their arguments using Scripture. Scriptures, including the Qur’an and the hadith, are notoriously contradictory and slippery, and you can pretty much use any interpretation of Islam (or Christianity) as the “true” version.

Now Akyol (identified as “a senior fellow on Islam and modernity at the Cato Institute and the author, most recently, of ‘The Islamic Jesus'”), is surely acting from goodwill. He doesn’t want people to be killed and persecuted for blasphemy, and makes that clear in the last three paragraphs of his piece:

At the same time, Muslim opinion leaders should help their societies understand that these laws serve not the honor of Islam, but much more mundane interests — for example, persecuting non-Muslim minorities out of greed or jealousy, or silencing Muslims themselves who criticize and challenge the powers that be.

And all Muslims of good faith should stand up more forcefully for people like Asia Bibi, who is falsely accused of blasphemy. Also, they should tolerate those who really do blaspheme and at most “not sit with them,” as the Quran counsels.

They should walk away, saying, “Peace.”

But I doubt that hard-line Islamists are going to have a V-8 moment after reading Akyol, striking themselves on the forehead and crying, “Oy!* How could I have misinterpreted Islam so wrongly for so long?” No way that’s going to happen. The way to get this whole mess to stop is to remove religion from the world. After all, there can be no blasphemy if there be no gods to insult. That will be a difficult task, although secularism is already replacing Christianity in much of the West, but it’s a task no more difficult than persuading Muslims that they believe in the “wrong” Islam.

There is no “true” Islam, any more than there’s a “true” Christianity. There are just different branches of Islam, many of which happen to think that killing blasphemers is okay. And all of that comes from religious traditions that goes back to the Qur’an and the hadith. The best path to permanently ending blasphemy as a crime involves ending religion as a superstitious belief—and embracing secular morality. For one thing is certain: no rational secular morality would urge the killing of people for religious beliefs—or any ideology or superstition.

Finally, ask yourself this: why on earth did the New York Times publish both of these articles in the same op-ed section, despite the fact that they’re both lame and the second actually mendacious and misguided?

You know why: the Times is trying to show that Islam isn’t any worse than any other faith, and that those who oppose it are misguided. I’ve been pointing at this shift in Leftist media this for a long time, but this shows it starkly: mainstream Leftists newspapers and magazines are getting infected with the Authoritarian strain of Leftism as college kids move into journalism.

The Times’ editor, A. G. Sulzberger, is only 38, and my view (for which I have very little evidence) is that he’s dictating that his paper become a Victimhood Paper to go along with the collegiate strain of “victimhood culture.”   The bad side effect of this is that papers like the Times, or magazines like The New Yorker, have become blind to the dangers of religions like Islam, and have become wedded to a form of Leftism that, by overlooking religiously-based oppression and misogyny, is anti-progressive.

________

*Of course, no true Muslim would say “Oy!”.

 

 

 

58 Comments

  1. Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    So “true” Islam is benign, peaceful and non-violent? And the “true” Islamic response to blasphemy is to say “Peace” and walk away?

    Tell you what, Mr Moghul and Mr Akyol, go and persuade all your fellow believers of that. Should be easy, if that’s “true” Islam, no? And you’ll be doing the world a real favour!

    Then, once you’ve done that, come back and we’ll talk.

  2. Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand what people like this on the radical left are doing. I have some understanding of the radical right. I can’t either one is better or worse than the other. Both are dangerous and have views that are alien to me.

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      I can’t say either . . .

    • Historian
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

      You may disagree with the arguments of these authors, but to call them as being on the radical left is both insidious and intellectually dishonest. Did you make the least effort to find out anything about these people? Akyol works for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. Per Wikipedia, he supports Intelligent Design. He’s the last person one could describe as a radical leftist. Moghul works for the Shalom Hartman Institute that, according to its website, describes its mission as “to strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity and pluralism and ensure that Judaism is a compelling force for good in the 21st century.” The institute seems to embrace a liberal Judaism and probably is not in favor with some Israelis, but it seems hardly radical.

      https://hartman.org.il/pillar_RP.asp

      • Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

        Regardless of the political views of these two authors, their deceitful islam apologetics were published by the increasingly leftist NYT for its increasingly leftist readership.

        • Historian
          Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          How do you know the NYT’s readership is “increasingly” leftist? Do you mean that the NYT is attracting new readers that are leftist OR that current readers are becoming more leftist OR a combination of both? In any case, what’s your evidence for this assertion? In other words, it is possible that by analyzing the content of what the NYT is publishing, one could conclude that its editorial stance is becoming more leftist. Of course, such a reputable analysis would need to be done if it already hasn’t. But, its editorial stance does not necessarily reflect that of its readership.

          • Nicolaas Stempels
            Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            Whether the authors are leftist or not, or the NYT is increasingly leftist or not, the narrative of these two authors closely resembles the one of the Ctrl-left. Only the ‘oppression’ part is missing (oppression of that is, not the more realistic by, which is falsely painted as non Islamic)

            • Historian
              Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

              We can also say that these narratives resemble those of certain conservatives. After all, George W. Bush referred to Islam as a religion of peace. It is not useful or correct to label every attempt to put a positive spin on Islam as serving just the agenda of the far left. It also serves the goals of non-Trumpian conservatives that believe it doesn’t serve the national interest of the United States to demonize Islam. You may not like this approach, but prior to Trump, all presidents preached this interpretation of Islam, even though it really can’t be intellectually justified. The perpetuation of falsehoods is not uncommon in foreign policy.

              • Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

                Bush was a US president at that time. He had to protect American Muslims from the post-9/11 backlash, and had to secure alliance with other Muslims for the wars he was planning. But I don’t think it is useful for the media to conform to the limitations of heads of state.

        • Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

          To be honest Matt, I think an acknowledgment of Historian’s correction — researched for you, referenced, and politely worded — would have been in order.

  3. Barney
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting to compare critcism of papers and magazines for running op-eds that many people don’t agree with, and criticism of festivals for [b]not[/b] inviting speakers that many people don’t agree with. Sometimes the same organization, the New Yorker, gets it both ways.

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      I don’t remember any op-eds that criticized Islam and these op-eds are lame, unworthy of publication in the magazine unless the editors deemed them ideologically salubrious.

      When the New Yorker writes on atheism, it always takes care to criticize it at least a bit, and to diss New Atheism.

  4. Les Faby
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Mo loved orphans. He created so many of them.

  5. Achrachno
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I noticed that Akyol is “a senior fellow … at the Cato Institute”. Not a leftist at all?

  6. Colin
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    It is a shame that the vast majority of North Americans are enormously ignorant on the facts and history of Islam. It is not a “religion of peace”. We now have a world of information available at our fingertips via the internet. I would suggest anyone to view following YouTube videos:

    Carl Goldberg “The Logic of Islam”

    Brigitte Gabriel “Religion of Peace: A brief history of Islam.”

    …and some of the numerous ones by Bill Warner.

    As Pat Condell has said, Islam is an ideology that is about as welcome on this planet as an asteroid.

  7. Hempenstein
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Why in the holy * H * * are people so * * obsessed with things that supposedly happened 1-2Kyrs ago vs. more recent history?

    Or, to put it another way, do people obsessed with the historicity of holy people have any interest in or knowledge of the history the last century, for starts?

    (where H stands for Haploid)

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      They want to make the history of the century to come, and for now, it seems they are getting their wish.

  8. Kirbmarc
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “To see this, one must look at the Quran — the most fundamental and only undisputed source of Islam.”

    This is technically true but VERY, VERY misleading.

    If you look at ALL sects and groups who CALL themselves muslims, then the Qu’ran is the only text they have in common.

    But in reality only a VERY SMALL percentage of self-declared muslims are “pure Qu’ranists” who accept ONLY the Qu’ran as the only source of islam. Also the “pure Qu’ranists” are often called infidels by the VAST majority of other muslims.

    BOTH Sunni and Shia muslims of ALL sub-denominations accept at least PART of the ahadith as true. They disagree about which ones are true and which aren’t, but they’re not ONLY following the Qu’ran.

    Anyway this is a moot point, because the Qu’ran is already bad enough.

    “Most notably, throughout all of its 6,236 verses, it never tells Muslims to silence blasphemy with force. It tells them only to respond with dignity.”

    This is another idea which technically true but actually VERY misleading. The Qu’ran doesn’t OPENLY prescribe punishment of BLASPHEMY, defined by force, but it prescribes the use of force against infidels who are openly disbelieving and being against islam:

    Sura 2, verse 191-193 of the Qu’ran report:

    ” 1. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-al-Haram (the sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

    192. But if they cease, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

    193. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (open disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”

    The message is clear. Disbelievers are to be fought and killed unless they submit and “cease” fitnah (OPEN disbelief), IF they’re monotheists (Jews and Christians). No such luck for “pagan” polytheists.

    To argue that this is not related to blasphemy is very, very disingenuous. Blasphemy is definitely part of fitnah.

    Apologists try to make it so that “fitnah” in this context means “persecution”. This is a rhetoric trick that is used ONLY by apologists when challenged by critics. It’s NOT a widespread interpretation.

    Semantically speaking “fitnah” is used most often in the Qu’ran itself to mean “sedition, temptation”, and applied to non-believers it means OPEN disbelief, OPEN disobedience to muslim rule.

    OPEN blasphemy is very often seen as “fitnah”.

    Basically the message of the Qu’ran is that peace is to be maintained only IF monotheists accept muslim superiority and “know their place”, which is to pay taxes and NOT challenge islam, NOT preach their religion to try to convert muslims, and yes, NOT criticize or mock islam.

    For non-believers or “pagans”, no such luck.

    The Qu’ran must be read keeping in mind that Mohammed started as a poor, destitute cult leader who was afraid of being killed by rivals. Most of the “tolerant” parts of the Qu’ran belong to that period in Mohammed’s life.

    Once Mo had enough political and military strength, the objective changed from “being tolerated” to “being in charge and extending toleration in exchange of submission and money” (again, ONLY for Christian and Jews) .

    Mo wasn’t insanely genocidal, he “only” wanted to be the one in charge, or to have people pay him “respect” and money. But this doesn’t mean he wasn’t above using violence WHEN he thought he needed to, when the submitted Jews and Christians were being uppity. And “pagans” and likely atheists (which were very few in numbers in Mo’s times) were ALWAYS free game.

    There’s no “true” islam, of course, like there’s no “true” Christianity, and many muslims don’t know or don’t care about the Qu’ran THAT much, and can be led to non-literal interpretation of “peace” as minding your own business.

    But the message of Mo, in his own times, wasn’t of equality and tolerance, but of his own supremacy and him being magnanimous if he felt like it.

  9. phil brown
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Typo: “In fact, Moghul claims that Muhammad argues do any bad things”

  10. CAS
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    The Hadith are second only to the Quran for believing Muslims. These are transmitted oral traditions that describe the sayings and actions of Muhammad (the perfect man). For Sunnis emulating Muhammad in all things makes you a true Muslim. ISIS does nothing not described in the Hadiths. The most honored and trusted collection of Hadiths (Bukari) includes the following on apostates:
    Narrated ‘Abdullah: Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims.”
    Sahih al-Bukhari Book 83 Hadith 17 https://muflihun.com/bukhari/83/17

  11. DrBrydon
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    [Muhammad]. . . attempted a politics of tolerance.

    And then he went the other way. Islam has been a militant faith since before Muhammad died. Muslims didn’t make it to the Pyrenees and the gates of Vienna with olive branches in their hands.

  12. rickflick
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I wonder if these authors are trying to deceive us or are they simply suffused with American assimilation. The vast majority of American Muslims probably are quite tolerant. Maybe this milder form is thought to be the real Islam because it’s all they’ve seen first hand.

    • Larry Smith
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:27 am | Permalink

      Good point.

    • Kirbmarc
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      A lot of American muslims are pretty liberal and secular, too. I don’t think this is unrelated. Liberal and secular Christians are also better than fundamentalists at tolerance.

      Deep down many people are better than their religion, and follow common sense and better standards rather than the letter of their holy books. This doesn’t make their holy books any good.

  13. Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that if Islam were a “religion of peace”, then Islamic extremists should be extremely peaceful. Perhaps there’s something wrong with my premise.

  14. FB
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Akyol says that Muslims should tolerate blasphemers and walk away saying “Peace”, as the Qur’an counsels. He forgets to mention that God will torture them in the Fire for eternity. How peaceful and tolerant is that?

    Surah 41:40: Those who blaspheme Our signs are not hidden from Us. What, is he who shall be cast into the Fire better, or he who comes on the Day of Resurrection in security? Do what you will; surely He sees the things you do.

  15. Larry Smith
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    Thank you for taking the time to break down these articles.

    Loved the “trowel of peace” image!

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Yes, that’s a great phrase. My mind wandered and it seems like it could be part of a religious rock-paper-scissors game. “The Trowel of Peace buries The Holy Hand-Grenade, which …”

  16. Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    The famous tolerance and compassion in Islam, clearly on display in all those Muslim majority countries! But perhaps most Muslims, only a few hundred million, got it wrong, and Mughal is correct. What a deliriously deluded man. He has completely checked out from reality.

  17. Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    How come no articles titled “Mohammed was a child rapist, just like me”?

  18. Jon Gallant
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    The notion that the Islamic State and its counterparts aren’t really Islamic is homologous to another familiar pop-Left meme: that the USSR, Albania under Hoxha, Romania under Ceausescu, East Germany under Honecker, Kampuchea under Pol Pot, North Korea under the Kim dynasty, etc. etc. etc., weren’t
    really communist (or, as they all insisted, socialist). 75 years ago, sentimental Leftists liked to imagine that Stalin wasn’t really Stalinist.

    The main surprise of these Islam white-washing articles is that they appeared in the NYT, rather than on NPR. But now we can be sure they will be quoted on NPR very soon.

  19. Richard Sanderson
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    The NYT are parroting the Reza Aslan whitewash version of Islam.

  20. Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Akyol’s claim, that the koran contains no commands to use force against blasphemers, is patently false. cf. sura 5:33, 9:12 and 33:57.

    Akyol dismisses the Haditha as not part of “true” Islam. Convenient, considering they comprise the most vile, hateful & sadistic scripture ever produced by mankind, and are filled with exhortations to torture, mutilate and kill blasphemers, apostates, and assorted jews you’ve falsely befriended.

    Of course, the koran does encourage ‘true’ moslems to practice Taqiyya, Kitman, and Tawriya — lying to infidels about the true tenets and practices of Islam.

  21. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve read both these pieces in full now. Moghul’s is puerile and silly; he seems not to have matured much as a thinker or writer from the 18-year-old who made the trip to Medina.

    Akyol, on the other hand, is a pretty standard-brand religious apologist. He argues that his moderate, more-benign interpretation of Islam is the correct one, not that offered by the Islamists — much the same way a Mainline Protestant might argue that his interpretation of Scripture, not that of the abortion-clinic bombers, homophobes, and Christian Identity followers is correct — except that, given the text and traditions of Islam and the current state of world affairs, Akyol has a much tougher row to hoe. Like that of all religious apologists of this sort, Akyol’s argument is premised on a “no true Scotsman” fallacy. Other than that, I wish him well in any efforts toward persuading other Muslims to adopt his moderate concept of Islam.

    But these two writers are on a different footing in another, more important, respect for present purposes, I think. Akyol is “contributing opinion writer” for the NYT, whose pieces appear on approximately a bimonthly basis. Moghul, as far as I can tell, is just some shmuck the Times gave a one-shot opportunity to contribute an opinion piece, consistent with its policy of presenting a diverse range of viewpoints (without any implicit endorsement). Akyol’s opinions, which, as I say, are pretty standard religious apologetics, are something the Times can be held accountable for, since it makes him a fairly regular voice in its pages. Moghul’s cannot, other than, as a poor exercise of editorial purview when it comes to presenting quality journalism.

    I’ve got my own bones to pick with the New York Times, both as to its editorial content and the political coverage by its news division. But, on the evidence presented, I think the rumors of its becoming a bastion of pro-Muslim regressivism are, like those of Mister Clemens’s passing, greatly exaggerated.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      Re-reading this, my first paragraph seems unintentionally ironic; “puerile and silly” pretty much sums up my WEIT commentariat contributions.

  22. Nicolaas Stempels
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    Although I am very much opposed to Fundamentalist Islam, and hence opposed fundamentally to Islam, I would not call Mohammed’s rape of a 9 year old very particular. IIRC, the age of consent in, say, Delaware was 7 as recent as 2 centuries ago.

    • rickflick
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      But there probably wasn’t a God’s messengers living in Delaware 2 centuries ago.

    • Kirbmarc
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      In Mohammed’s own times his behavior probably wasn’t seen as deviant.

      The problem is that Mo is still seen as a role model today, and in the world of today we see it as wrong.

      In the end this is all that matters. Mo’s standards might not have been very different from other people in his age, but today someone who follows his example is seen as a monster.

  23. alexander
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Last summer we had a heat wave in Europe, with temperatures reaching 100 F. And you saw these poor women wearing tight head coverings and long black tents, sweating and puffing, on the streets, on streetcars and buses. As long as Islamic men treat “their” women as cattle, I cannot have any respect for their religion, no more than for the Catholic men wearing black dresses with dozens of buttons, who used to terrorize children 6 years old with the obscene story of an omnipotent god sending his own son to be tortured to death (we, six-year olds got all the details) to save humanity of satan, which necessarily was also created by this monster god.

    • Claudia Baker
      Posted November 25, 2018 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

      “As long as Islamic men treat “their” women as cattle, I cannot have any respect for their religion…”

      Agree.

  24. A C Harper
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking about the recent post ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ and thought that there might be a 4th Untruth….

    4) People are born as a blank slate.

    Therefore: people who do not thrive must be oppressed otherwise they could learn to be successful; people who believe harmful things must have been brainwashed; if only the ‘blankers’ would listen to their betters everyone would behave in a moral way and be lifted up into equality of outcome; only properly educated ‘blankers’ can be true believers (of a particular faith, ideology, or philosophy).

  25. Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t these authors (or any other religious people) reflect on how exactly these ‘not real Muslims’ came to believe that they are indeed devout Muslims? What went wrong, how can it be stopped and how to avoid it in the future?

    I’ve never heard Christians pursue such questions either.

    • Posted November 25, 2018 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      The Christian answer is that Satan is continually trying to subvert God’s true message by promoting false beliefs.

  26. Richard
    Posted November 25, 2018 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Oh, so guns^H^H^H^H true Islam don’t kill people, people^H^H^H^H^H^H extremist Muslims kill people. Got it.

  27. Posted November 25, 2018 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    The fascination of the SJW Left with Islamism is an interesting phenomenon. You have to wonder “why,” considering that the ideological shibboleths that define the Islamist and hard Left ingroups appear to be diametrically opposed. It may be that, since the demise of Communism as a viable world view for the true believer types, Islamism is the only game in town, at least for the time being. It’s basically what filled the resulting ideological vacuum. Lacking a fanatical faith they can call their own, the Leftists are reduced to ogling Moslem fanatics who do have one from the other side of the fence.

    Of course, the idea that Islam is in any way compatible with Christianity is the purest nonsense. Muhammed forbids Moslems to have Christian or Jewish friends in several passages in the Quran, and adds that anyone who holds common Christian beliefs such as the Trinity or the association of the word “begotten” with God and Christ in any way will burn in hell forever. The Quran is a relatively short book. It’s odd that these people can read it, and yet utterly fail to comprehend what Muhammed is saying. After all, the man assured his readers that he wasn’t speaking in allegories or riddles. Chalk it up to cognitive dissonance, I guess.

    • revelator60
      Posted November 26, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      “The fascination of the SJW Left with Islamism is an interesting phenomenon. You have to wonder ‘why’…”

      The answer is pretty simple: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This rarely true phrase has caused immense damage throughout history and will continue doing so. The far Left despises Capitalism and Liberalism; it values any force that moves against them.

      • alexander
        Posted November 26, 2018 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        “The far Left despises Capitalism and Liberalism; it values any force that moves against them.”

        Well, if the far left doesn’t see that the Saudis and the other nations on the Peninsula are a prime example of Capitalism (of nouveau riche variety), they are beyond help…

    • Posted November 26, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t it because SJWs want to support all downtrodden, poor people? There’s also cultural relativism which leads to a “we must not judge” attitude, allowing them to conveniently rationalize or ignore Islamic terrorism, misogyny, and intolerance of their culture and religion.

  28. Posted November 26, 2018 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    New York Times, weren’t they the ones caught publishing pieces from Saudi funded thinktanks recently?

    https://newrepublic.com/minutes/152387/new-york-times-publishes-pro-saudi-writers-think-tanks-deep-autocratic-ties

    My view is that newspapers shouldn’t publish pieces from thinktanks except as advertorials, thinktanks are basically PR companies, and if you were to publish something from a PR company you’d expect to get paid for it.

  29. alexander
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    “A lot of American muslims are pretty liberal and secular, too.”

    Yes, they are more educated and/or professionals. In Europe we have immigrants who are often traumatised and without adequate schooling, mainly because of war conditions.

  30. another fred
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I find that an effective tactic to disabuse people of the notion of “peaceful Islam” is to remind (or inform) people of Islam’s treatment of the Baha’is. While the details of this gentle faith are (like all) a little kooky, it is pretty hard to find much threat in its precepts to anything other than to an authoritarian order.

    “True” Islam doesn’t kill blasphemers?

    Tell it to the Babis. Tell that to the Baha’is.

  31. Lurker111
    Posted November 26, 2018 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Well, here’s another article they won’t see in Islamabad …

  32. Posted November 26, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I think the far more pressing question than “what was Mohammed like?” is “should one uncritically adopt *anyone* as a role model?”. Related: “what is the role of analogy in ethics?”

  33. Francisco
    Posted November 28, 2018 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It is a worldwide movement teaching us atheisths and anti-all-religions that we are wrong. There are versions -and are the mainstream in each religion- that can believe without harming anybody. Among christians you can critic religion but mobbing starts just in the moment you try it (Im suffering it for several years, although continue the combat!). I think they of course know the lies, they see the contradictions, the many times the crimes but … SOMEBODY VERY IMPORTANT IS INTERESTED IN CONTINUE THE GAME. “We dont mind your problem. We are very interested in that those movements -religious sectarian movement heralds of the gospel- grow. Or you do what they want or…” told me the police in chief of a small city in Brazil. But the same I listened in Spain in several cities.
    Now a spanish court condemned a doctor for having stolen born babies from not-married or leftist mothers. Few news in media and silence… after 40years of silence and hundreds of thousands of occurrences. To court only when the doctor is in his 80s and the catholic nuns already died.
    Not even the left did something during decades…
    SOMEBODY VERY “IMPORTANT” IS INTERESTED IN KEEP RELIGIONS LIES!!


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