Sunday, February 22, 2009

Muzzamil Hassan and Islam's Legacy of Death

In a recent headline, a New York man, Muzzamil Hassan, is accused of the murder of his ex-wife and co-worker, Aasiya Hassan. Both were Muslims. What makes their religion an important factor in this unfortunate event is that he murdered her by cutting off her head. Muzzamil Hassan was a mouthpiece for the Muslim community. He owned a local television station devoted to positively portraying Islam to the surrounding non-Muslim community; that is he was a Muslim apologist. His wife, Aasiya was part-owner and worked at the station. Apparently she had filed for divorce from Muzzamil, citing repeated incidents of domestic violence. While the act was truly grizzly, I am not sure that Muzzamil acted in a way that was inappropriate according to his religion. What follows is a broad consideration of Islam and some glaring inconsistencies within its teachings, its interpretation, and its practice. My suggestion is that it is these inconsistencies that cause westerners to reject the Muslim claim to a peaceful religion.

Many Muslims claim that their scriptures, the Qur'an, teach a peaceful life and therefore westerners should accept their religion. This is only a partial truth. The Qur'an paints a picture of peace for Muslims alone. As long as everyone is Muslim and acts according to the teachings of the Qur'an, there will be peace. The Qur'an, however, does not offer peace to the non-Muslim. Su'ra Tauba 9.29-31 says,

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away! They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one God only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him).

In other words, even the other people of the "Book" (Jews and Christians), those which Islam is purported to respect and refrain from killing, may be killed until they no longer oppose the spread and oppression of Islam.

There is no protection whatsoever for the pagan. According to this same sura, Muslims are allowed to make short-term alliances with pagans when it is in their best interest. Yet, during the alliance, Muslims are to proclaim the message of the prophet Muhammed, and seek the conversion of their allies. If the allies do not convert, at the end of the alliance, Muslims are to turn on their allies and kill them until those remaining repent.

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

There is no qualms about Islam being spread by the sword. If an enemy does not relent and submit to Islam, they are destroyed. If Muslims are to be honest about their faith, they must admit that their religion not only allows but commands forced conversion by bloodshed. The Qur'an also tells the Muslim warrior, when you meet the unbelievers (in battle), smite at their necks. . . The fate of a severed head seems to be saved for the infidel alone. There is a disconnect between what most American Muslims say about their religion and the evidence found within their Scriptures.

Many moderate Muslims are opposed to the viewpoints of Muslim extremists, like Al Qaeda or Talibanis, but in many cases it appears that these extremists carry the commands of the Qur'an to accurate conclusions. Yet these extremists occasionally find themselves fighting other Muslims. According to the Qur'an, they mustn't intentionally kill a fellow Muslim. Yet at the same time the Qur'an says that Muslims should not depend on or seek protection from unbelievers. Those who do will face "chastisement" from their fellow Muslims. Announce to the hypocrites that they shall have a painful chastisement: Those who take the unbelievers for guardians rather than believers. Do they seek honor from them? Then surely all honor is for Allah (Sura Nisa'a, 4.138-139), and, O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves? Surely the hypocrites are in the lowest stage of the fire and you shall not find a helper for them. (Sura Nisa'a, 4.144-145) So, it appears that the extremists again have a source for their action. It is not "extremism" that the west fears, but the consistent exercise of the Islamic scriptures.

Further, The Qur'an seems to indicate that Muslims are not to obey unbelieving authorities. Of three translations, two indicate this thought-process. YUSUFALI: Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Qur'an). PICKTHAL: So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great endeavour. The third translation seems to suggest a sense of following the unbelievers in worship. SHAKIR: So do not follow the unbelievers, and strive against them a mighty striving with it.

We must examine the Qur'an itself because it is the source of the Muslim's received religion. Without the Qur'an there is no Islam. Yet the Qur'an should give every westerner, whether believing Christian and Jew or unbeliever, great pause. What does the consistent living-out of Islam mean for non-Muslims? We should see a very frightening contingency. I think we saw a glimpse of this Muslim consistency played out in the saga of Hassan and his estranged wife. After she divorced him, I believe he thought of her as an infidel, and acted accordingly. A case could certainly be built that if she were an infidel, he did not act inappropriately (by Allah's standards).

How does Islam compare with Christianity, the Qur'an with the Bible? As for power and overcoming enemies, this is what Jesus says,

You have heard that it was said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . . (Matthew 5:38-44)

In Romans, Paul says,

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)

As for defense of life and religion, we should remember the Apostle Peter's readiness to kill to preserve Jesus' life and Jesus' quick rebuke. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26:52)

Lastly, we should see that the Christian, while always worshipping God alone, is commanded to obey governmental authorities.

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)

So, which appears to be the more peaceful religion? Which seeks to live in harmony with other men? Which, when lived-out consistently, leads to life? I would suggest if we examine Islam, by its own scriptures and its own history, we find a legacy of death. Muzzamil Hassan was a mouthpiece for the Muslim community, he followed the legacy of Islam and his wife lost her life. Mr. Hassan may have done more harm to the "peaceful Islam" moderate Muslims have promoted in this one act than the good he did it in his many years of television broadcasting.

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