Thursday, January 08, 2009

Citing Scripture

In terms of the invidious citing, distorting, and fabricating scripture to justify the unjustifiable, this remains "right up there":
In Gaza a few years ago, I conducted an on-camera interview with the political leader of Islamic Jihad, Mohammed al-Hindi. With his finely trimmed beard and gracious manners, he symbolized the modern - and moderate - Muslim man.

But his interpretation of the Koran suggested something else. "Where," I asked, "does it say that you can kill yourself for a higher cause? As far as I know, the Koran tells us that suicide is wrong."

Through his translator, the physician assured me that the verses endorsing suicide operations could be found "everywhere" in Islam's holy book. I challenged Dr. al-Hindi to show me just one passage.

After several minutes of reviewing the Koran, then calling for help on his mobile, then looking through companion booklets, he told me he was too busy and must go. "Are you sure you're not pulling a fast one on me?" I asked. He smiled, clearly understanding popular American lingo. "I want to know that you're telling me the truth," I repeated.
The essay continues exactly as you should expect, but not from reading the popular media, listening to western political leaders, or listening to most religious leaders.
Of course, most people - not just Muslims - could use more independent thinking. This point grabbed me at the Gaza office of Mohammed al-Hindi. As we left, I asked his translator why Dr. al-Hindi would give me an on-camera interview, knowing that he could not find a single verse to prove his claim that the Koran justifies suicide operations.

The translator replied: "He assumed you were just another dumb Western journalist." Reporters from the West had never asked this veteran terrorist the most basic of questions: Where is the evidence for what you do in God's name?
It's widespread, abject, unforgivable ignorance that leads dolts like George W. Bush to glorify suicide bomers as "homicide bombers", "jihadists" or "Islamofascists", rather than emphasizing their suicides and the distance between their actions and Islam.


  1. The Great Sleep1/8/09, 10:42 AM

    This surprises me, because my best understanding is that Islam is not a sola scriptura religion, meaning that not every sacred commandment has to be found somewhere in the Quran. They have religious leaders who continuously "update" the word of God for them, just like the popes and patriarchs in the (non-Protestant) Christian churches do. So it surprises me that they would claim something was in the Koran unless they were intending it for a Western Christian audience.

    Interesting story though. Also. I dont think Bush ever said "homicide bomber", though I could be wrong about that.

  2. The Koran is the word of god - from God's mouth to Mohammed's ear/pen. Unlike the Bible, written in a dead language and translated to English (or other languages), Arabic is a living language. The text is God's word and is not subject to interpretation.

    You know, except in the sense that our Constitution is written in English, and is thus not subject to intepretation. You can still get argument over what the words mean, particularly given that words change in meaning over time and no text lacks vagueness or ambiguity. (In the case of the Constitution, that was often quite intentional - "necessary and proper"?)

    But in this context there's no ambiguity - the Koran explicitly and absolutely forbids suicide. There's no equivocation, and the columnist was illustrating how people who claim to find a basis for suicide bombing in the Koran are ignorant, lying, or both.


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