This is a refutation of Arsalan Iftikhar’s CNN Article “Murder has no religion” available here.
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer and former National Legal Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (the organization named by U.S. Federal prosecutors in 2007 as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a Hamas funding case involving the Holy Land Foundation). He is a contributing author of an award-winning book and is well-known for his interviews, commentaries and analyses which have regularly appeared in virtually every major media outlet in the world.
In this article we will analyse a piece he had written for CNN, titled “Murder has no religion”. It was written in response to the Fort Hood massacre, in which the “Allahu Akbar” screaming U.S. Army major, Nidal Malik Hasan, murdered 13 people and wounded 30 others at a US military installation.
Most of the world’s 1.57 billion Muslims know that the Holy Quran states quite clearly that, “Anyone who kills a human being … it shall be as though he has killed all of mankind. … If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he has saved the lives of all of mankind.”
No, it is not clear at all. It is unfortunate that even his opening sentence is a mistruth. There is no such verse in the Qur’an. What Iftikhar has presented us with is a butchered and out-of-context paraphrasing of Qur’an 5:32 meant to mislead those who have little knowledge of Islamic scripture.
This verse is examined in detail here. In summary; it is written in past tense, and clearly does not apply to Muslims but to “the Children of Israel” i.e. the Jews. When the clause (omitted from the verse by Iftikhar) which allows killing is reinserted and we read it in context with the next two verses, it is in actual fact a chilling warning to non-believers who cause “mischief” in the land.
Accordingly, it should come as little surprise to any reasonable observer that when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan recently committed his shocking acts of mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas, America’s Muslim community of over 7 million felt an added sense of horror and sadness at this senseless attack against the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces.
Another mistruth. Contrary to the bloated figures provided by CAIR, and accepted by many apologists, media outlets, and even the President of the United States, and in spite of the massive influx of Muslim refugees, a Pew survey carried-out in October, 2009 found there are only 2.454 million Muslims in the U.S. Percentage-wise, Islam represents a minuscule 0.8 percent of the United States religious make-up.
Quite possibly the message he was trying to convey to us was that there are many Muslims in America yet there are so few terrorist attacks on American soil. Unfortunately this is not the case. There have been several terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 and countless foiled attempts.
Furthermore, the relative silence among America’s Muslim community and the worlds Muslim population in general suggests a passive acceptance of violence perpetuated in the name of Islam. There is no way he could possibly know how America’s Muslims felt in regards to the senseless deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of this Muslim terrorist, and his empty words are meant to pull at America’s heart strings.
True to form, many conservative media pundits wasted little time in pointing to reports that Hasan had said “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”) at the start of his murderous rampage. News coverage continuously showed the looping convenience store black-and-white videotape footage of Hasan wearing traditional white Islamic garb.
Another mistruth. The Arabic word kebir means “great,” while akbar means “greater”. These two words are not interchangeable. For evidence of this, we need only look to Qur’an 2:219 which uses both words. The word for “God” in Arabic is “Ilah” not “Allah“, as evidenced in the Shahada.
Therefore we can rightly conclude that “Allahu akbar” does not mean “God is great”, but “Allah is greater“. This is the traditional war cry of Jihadists and was used by Muhammad himself before he launched his attack on the Jews of Khaibar.
And there is no reason why the media should be criticized for reporting the words of a terrorist before his murderous rampage, and there is no reason why video footage of the terrorist in question should be suppressed.
Does Arsalan Iftikhar wish to inhibit reporting on certain criminals based on their own choice to overtly parade their religious affiliation?
Muslims who label themselves as “moderate” need to become assertive against their co-religionists which they refer to as “extremists,” rather than attempt to hide religious extremism from the eyes of non-Muslims by sweeping matters under the carpet.
First of all, someone simply saying “Allahu Akbar” while committing an act of mass murder no more makes their criminal act “Islamic” than a Christian uttering the “Hail Mary” while murdering an abortion medical provider, or someone chanting “Onward, Christian Soldiers” while bombing a gay nightclub, would make their act “Christian” in nature.
Iftikhar must be confused. He seems to be contradicting himself here. If he is trying to persuade his readers that these acts can be ascribed to a religion, then he is doing a great job with the above paragraph.
However, what he is most likely attempting here is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem tu quoque. It is something that is used when a position is indefensible. Hence it has become a staple for Islamic apologists who are left with no other defense than to shame critics into silence by disparaging other faiths in an attempt to bring them down to the same level as Islam.
If we delve a little deeper, the weakness of this argument becomes apparent.
Ignoring the perpetrators possible religious affiliations, the number of individuals killed in connection with abortion providers in the past 15 years does not even reach double figures. In case the reader is interested, the exact figure is 9.
If we look to other faiths, in the U.K., 92 per cent of terrorist-related prisoners unsurprisingly describe themselves as Muslim, while five are Buddhist and one is a self-described Pagan.
Does this mean Buddhism is a violent religion? Of course not. It is only natural that there are a few hateful adherents in any religion; its human nature and you will find this in all groups no matter what world-view they adhere to.
If violent acts perpetrated by Muslims were as rare as it is among adherents of other faiths, then Iftikhar may have a point. Sadly this is not the case.
The number of individuals killed in religiously motivated attacks by the hands of Muslims in 2008 alone numbers 10,779. That’s more people killed by Islamists in 2008 than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined.
Simply put; murder is murder and has no religion whatsoever.
This, like many of his statements, is nonsensical. Religiously motivated murder obviously has a religion.
Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan once wrote that, “One most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called ‘Christian terrorists’ even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement.
This is possibly one of the most widely perpetuated myths in the West. While his parents were Catholics, Timothy McVeigh was a self-described Agnostic, so unless we are to determine religious affiliation through genetic ties, to describe him as a “Christian terrorist” would be quite a stretch for anyones imagination.
Unlike Nidal Malik Hasan, McVeigh did not cry “Jesus is Greater,” or “Buddha is Greater,” because he was motivated by his hatred of the federal government, and not by his non-existent religious beliefs.
No one would speak of Christo-fascism or Judeo-fascism as the Republican[s] … speak of Islam-o-fascism. … [Many people also] point out that [it was] persons of Christian heritage [who] invented fascism, not Muslims.”
Unlike other faiths, Islam is a political ideology as well as a religion. It is an accepted fact among Muslims that there is no concept of “separation of ‘Church’ and State” in the Islamic faith, so it is only natural that they would desire to replace existing laws with the Shari’ah once Muslims become the majority in a democratic nation, in fact this is an obligatory requirement. Even as a minority, Muslims have called for the implementation of Shari’ah in many countries the world over.
People of a “Christian heritage” have inventented numerous things, many of a positive nature, but this hardly makes the inventors or their inventions anymore “Christian” than the Dalai Lama, and quite rightly, no one would speak of “Christo-fascism” or “Judeo-fascism,” as other faiths have no equivalent to the Shari’ah. The concept of religious state laws do not exist in Christianity, and Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, does not apply religious laws.
Conversely, there are many Muslim terrorist organizations who aim to install Shari’ah by force, and the majority of the worlds predominantly Muslim nations adhere to some form of Shari’ah or enforce religious laws in parallel with the countries legal system.
According to Pentagon statistics, there were over 3,400 American Muslims serving in the active-duty military as of April 2008. The Wall Street Journal reported that many officials believe “the actual number of [American] Muslim soldiers may be at least 10,000 higher than the Pentagon statistics.”
Criticism of Islam and its negative influence on many of its adherents and the criticism of Muslims as individuals are not the same thing. Honest critics of Islam do not claim every single person who identifies themselves as “Muslim” is a terrorist or “extremist”, yet apologists never seem to tire, as demonstrated by Iftikhar above, of attempting to conflate the two issues.
Pointing to peaceful Muslims, who are generally ignorant of the tenants of their own faith, is an overused strawman.
Thus, with thousands of patriotic American Muslim women and men proudly serving in our United States Army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps it would behoove our army leaders to consider sending a strong message of American unity by appointing an American Muslim to be a part of the prosecution team against Hasan. This would help show that the mass murders allegedly committed by Hasan have nothing to do with the teachings of our religion.
To anyone but the most naive among us, this would not prove a thing. As with Iftikhar’s protest against reporting the words of Major Hasan, it would simply be another attempt at manipulating public feelings.
The larger point is that Muslims in America completely disavow and wash our hands of any acts of murder (or terrorism) claimed to be performed in the name of our religion. Acts of mass murder, regardless of their time or place, are simply ungodly criminal acts that have no religion whatsoever.
True to form, Arsalan Iftikhar finishes as he started, with another mistruth. In reality, one in four younger U.S. Muslims have said in a 2007 poll that suicide bombings to defend their religion is acceptable. This is hardly surprising when one considers that a 2008 report revealed that almost 80 percent of U.S. mosques preach anti-Western extremism.
If even a fraction of such figures were to be applied to any other world faith they would cause major concern, but when referencing Islam they hardly cause a ripple. It is the same throughout the Muslim populations in the West, and in the East extremists are consistently in the majority.
In conclusion, Arsalan Iftikhar’s entire piece consists of nothing more than a mixture of illogical nonsense and mistruths, followed by one logical fallacy after another.
When one learns of the shear volume in Islamic terrorist incidents taken place around the world, and the numbers of those who support terror and the suppression of free speech, only a fool would think there is no connection between that and the Islamic faith.
Once you read Islamic scriptures as a practicing Muslim would, it is confirmed.