Dinesh D’Souza on Islam

Dinesh D’Souza, a man that I have often disagreed with on a variety of issues ( most notably on the issue of race in America), but have always found to be one of the most thoughtful voices on the American-right, recently debated Robert Spencer on C-Span and D’Souza did a better job of defending Islam than most Muslims could ( D’Souza is a Christan American Desi).

For the record I was scheduled to debate Spencer in 2005 on radio but it never happened for some reason and I debated Craig Winn instead and according to the conservative producers of the program, who were obviously on his side, I “cleaned his clock”. Having said that I could not have done what D’souza did for a variety of reasons nor do I have the credibility to the American elite that he does.

D’Souza makes the assertion that people such as Spencer are letting Usama bin Laden and the extremist element within Islam to define the entire religion and he draws on the history of Islam to illustrate that Islam is not the enemy and the enemy are those extremists within Islam who are not only enemies to the West; but enemies of ordinary Muslims trying to live their lives. He also counters the arguments made that non-Muslims will always be second-class citizens under Muslim rule by noting the historical oppression of the Church towards religious minorities and how those attitudes evolved. His arguments are worth reading and can be used as a reference when debating those at your schools and jobs who are influenced by the likes of Spencer.

To go further there are two things that D’Souza discusses and deals wit that I have seen no one else do and these are very important issues; the role that the secular-liberal media, academia, and entertainment complex has had in projecting a hedonistic image of America to the world and how this is a main source of the hostilities between Muslims and the West and the American idea as it relates to the rest of the world and immigrants in this country.

To address the first, D’Souza is spot on, in the Muslim World the image of America is that of a place of mindless sex, orgies, homosexuality, scantily-clothed women, men who are less than men, absent of family values and solid families, and the land of corporate crooks where everyone steals to get what they want and need and people have not earned their positions ( all of these are true in some situations and exist but are not the rule).

Unfortunately, many Muslims in this country, who have ideologically ghettoized themselves, even buy into this narrative, and think that Muslims are the only holders of virtue when that is far from the reality. I grew-up in an America where people worked hard, trusted in G_d, stayed away from the major sins, were loyal to their families, and were able to live a decent life even if they had problems ( which all people have in any society).

This is the America that the Muslim World does not know about because they are getting their information on America from Brokeback Mountain and Desperate Housewives and they are saying if this is what embracing the West means then let us fight until the last drop of blood to prevent this and if this were the case I would agree with them. If all America had to offer was haram and cultural and moral decay I would join the jihad; but that is not all America has to offer, nor does America have to be imperial in nature. There is another America of hard-working families whose stories normally go untold in Hollywood and if their story was told to the Muslim World the masses of Muslims can see that there is a moral America. This would not only help America in the sense that less homicidal enemies would be created; but it would help the Muslim World as those Muslims who think they have to accept everything Western would no longer feel the need to reject faith and embrace moral decadence.

The last thing I will talk about in regards to D’Souza is his idea that embracing America is embracing the ideas of the Founding Fathers. In the modern education system many are taught that these men were just a bunch of white slave masters and they held no virtue. As Muslims I do not see how we could negate the virtue of someone because they were involved in something that was common to their time. If you are going to throw the baby out with the bath water because many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves then you will have to do the same for many of the Sahabah of the Messenger of Allah ( s.a.s.) who were slave masters, but nonetheless, were loved by Allah and His Messenger ( s.a.s.).

The ideas that these men had were revolutionary and reshaped the world and on an intellectual-level give being American a powerful component. It will also give something to those Muslim immigrants, particularly Desis, who may not be culturally ( or even physically suited) to integrate into traditional American masculinity and gives them something to grab on to in their attempts to forge a new life here.

More by D’Souza here.

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51 thoughts on “Dinesh D’Souza on Islam

  1. I’ve only seen Dinesh being interviewed once and I couldn’t stand him, but that probably has something to do with my current dislike of the American Right/Republicans.
    I would definitely agree with you though on how outsiders perceive America as being a land of endless orgies and Brokeback Mountain stories. And some of the blame would certainly have to go to the american media, in particular our news.
    For example, what do people prefer to listen to on the news. Some story about a Stripper being raped by several men (allegedly) or a “boring” story about a poor family in New Orleans struggling to recover from the hurricane. People pick and choose what they want to hear/read about a particular group. And most I think are drawn to the evil and negative side of things. (ie: people would rather hear about muslims blowing themselves up than those who are working towards peace with their Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel/Pal.

    Certain members of my family love to bash the “immoral” Americans, despite the fact that we are now American. But at the same time they are the first to admit that all the immoral stuff that goes on in America certainly happens back home in our muslim country. The only difference between America and Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/etc is that society is open here. Freedom of speech, media, etc so everything (mainly the bad, but some of the good) is revealed. Where as overthere people prefer to stick there heads in the sand and pretend that drunkeness, sexual immorality, broken homes, etc does not exist because Islam forbids it and they are living in a “muslim” country. Not big, bad, evil America.

  2. D’Souza(looks a lot like Kermit the frog) is more of a Paleoconservative, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is wannabe token assimilationist(you know you’re trying to hard when you dated Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham) who went as far as to idiotically proclaim that racism was over more then a decade ago. His nonchalant and patronizing ignorance of African American history is a disgrace and seriously undermines anything else he has to say. Are there transcripts available of your debate with Winn?
    That being said, it doesn’t take a lot to disarm the likes of Spencer, who carefully avoids being put on with the Muslim opposition on any program.
    As for slavery, nobody in their right mind can compare slavery in the Americas with that practiced by the Sahaba.

  3. Tina – I’m so glad you’ve said, ” The only difference between America and Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/etc is that society is open here.” THis is how America was YEARS ago, when my grand- and great-grandparents were young. Even during high school (late 80s) the “sluts,” and easy girls were in the minority. It was a badge of honor for one to be virgin until marriage.

    Also, I’m glad Umar posted this, at times I find it very annoying when others assumed because I am a convert, I “enjoyed” a lifestyle of drinking, premaritial sex, and everything else they’ve seen in the movies.

  4. Salam,
    I agree that there are Muslims who only see the worst of the western culture and hate it for that, but that’s not by any means the only reason, the West -especially America and Britain- had made muslims their enemies by implanting Israel in their land and continuing to support it no matter what, add to that the oil and the geopolitical dimentions and you have both sides of the equasion.But to simplify the matter and make it sound like “they hate us for our freedom” is just repeating what the media want to make us believe.

  5. What I don’t understand is that assuming for a minute that America WAS a land of orgies, decadence, and moral decay, why would the Islamic world care?

    After all, it is America’s choice to allow personal freedom including gay-rights. Why would this cause someone 10,000 miles away to want to engage in Jihad?

    Looking down on America? Sure. Not watching American movies? Go nuts. But to engage in violence because of disapproval of their consensual sexual habits is nuts!

    Either way, I reject the idea that the West should adopt conservative lifestyles to avoid violence from those who don’t approve. It is tantamount to surrendering.

  6. “What I don’t understand is that assuming for a minute that America WAS a land of orgies, decadence, and moral decay, why would the Islamic world care? ”

    This is what they want us to believe: America has never harmed the muslim world in any way, it’s just the muslims’ intolerence and hate of freedom and western life that created all this!.

  7. Wow.

    As a pathetic student of political science…I never thought that I would hear Muslims discussing the likes of Dinesh D’Souza — let alone defending him — in my lifetime.

    Since I first came across D’Souza nearly a decade ago…I have noticed that he hasn’t even been on the contemporary Muslim Radar screen. Let alone a figure of discussion in Muslim academic circles.

    Anyway. My two cents:

    1) I can’t stand D’Souza: Some of his opinions on race are quite obsurd. Fellow Conservative African-American collegues of his have disagreed with Dinesh and, as a result, have even chosen to no longer work with him or be affiliated with Hoover Institute. Consider, for a moment, his book: The End of Racism. The title alone should make one laugh.

    2) D’Souza blames Hollywood for 9/11: After the attacks on 9/11 … D’Souza blamed liberals and universities in America for the attacks. He also said that the Carter Administration made the US weak during the Iranian Revolution in ’79.

    3) D’Souza believes in Racial Profiling of all kind. Against blacks, Arabs, Muslims, etc.

    4) He is a traditional conservative: D’Souza is a Pat Buchannan-esque Conservative rather than a Gingrich type of Neo-Con.

    5) I would agree others that it isn’t particularly difficult to deal with the likes of Robert Spencer. Spencer is, at best, a pseudo intellectual and his distorted critiques of Islam are riddled with falsehood and inaccuracy.

    6) D’Souza is a cultural elite…only he doesn’t know it.

    7) D’Souza is about as “Desi” as Jackie Chan or Big Foot…or Dave Chappelle for that matter.

    8) D’Souza looks like a Muppet. He needs to get a haircut or something…a wardrobe change…a face lift – whatever.

    9) D’Souza probably believes that if he was in the Deep South he would be treated like everybody else. Yeah right. He would be called a terrorist, “Apu” (from the Simpsons), 7-11 Employee of The Month, “Habib”, etc etc etc.

    10) I don’t care if he is from Goa, India. His name is still weird.

    Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that D’Souza is somehow a friend of the Muslims — or that he even cares about Muslims. D’Souza believes that Islamic Law (Shariah) is a tool of oppression and that it ultimately prevents people from reaching their full potential as productive members of society. He also is a rabid defender of the US and believes that much of the “anti americanism” in the world today comes from the Muslim world — particularly from “radical” forces in the Muslim world.

    Finally, I would much rather read the works of Francis Fukuyama for example. The former NeoCon (neoconservative), Fukuyama has a far richer understanding of history and of the current political climate in the West. He has taken to task the NeoCon movement in the US and recently compared it with Leninism.

  8. Good points and nice blog, Abu Ameerah. One thing I find rather comical is the claim that Muslim dislike for America has something to do with the supposed lack of morals here. This is a classic red herring.
    Europeans are far more decadent then Americans any day so Muslims would be far more inclined to dislike them if the premise were sound.
    Sorry Kermit..er..I mean Dinesh but Paris Hilton and high cholesterol isn’t what infuriates Muslims, its having bullets and bombs with a “made in America” label that does the trick. Its the gang rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girls like Abeer Hamza by US war criminals which makes Muslims angry, not Myspace and Anna Nicole. The mass murder of over 650000 Iraqis doesn;t go unnoticed. Support for judeofascist terrorists doesn’t help either. Theres plenty of non-Muslims who have come to that logical conclusion.
    Its really that simple.

  9. Salams

    I want to preface this by stating that I tend to enjoy your blog and that I find your attempts at anaylsis intriguing and they seem to come from a sincere root. I am in no way an expert at many of the topics that you delve into. Still, your comparison of slavery as it occured here in the Americas to being a slave of the Prophet (saaws) is faulty and insulting. I’d glady be a slave to the Prophet (saaws) but what my ancestors suffered should not be belittled as you have done ( unintentionally I’m sure). No matter what your goal you still come at things from the perspective of a white man (whether or not you’ve been privy to our/black culture). Your point would have been no less valid without such use of what is possibly a harmful and absolutely inadequate analogy.

  10. I find this defense of slavery by some of the commenters here to be absolutely absurd. So being enslaved by Muhammed and his followers is okay, but being enslaved by a bunch of white men isn’t? I really fail to see the logic there. I agree with Umar on this one. What exactly is the difference in being enslaved by the Sahabah or white people? Absolutely nothing in my opinion. It is disgusting in both cases. Just because something happened 4000, or 1300, or even 200 years ago doens’t make it acceptable or right no matter who it was. And it should not be defended. And anybody who says they’d “gladly” be enslaved to the Prophet has seriously lost it IMHO. The people who were enslaved to him and his followers generally didn’t even believe in him as alMustafa or his message. What difference does it make who you’re enslaved to? A slave is a slave is a slave. And you can argue that God ordered them to be treated kindly, but I highly doubt that actually happened the majority of the time; in the Biblical Old Testament days, Muhammed’s days or the White colonial days. I can’t believe you all are even debating who its acceptable to be enslaved to and which is worse. No offense, but really.

  11. And, I was thinking about this some more because some of these comments really bugged me, like this one: “Still, your comparison of slavery as it occured here in the Americas to being a slave of the Prophet (saaws) is faulty and insulting.” As a copt, I have grown up learning about the martyrs and saints of my faith who were persecuted and enslaved by the followers of Muhammed. For you to insinuate that what happened to your ancestors is somehow worse than what happened to mine because Muhammed is Rasoul Allah and the others were just plain white men I also find to be faulty and insulting.

  12. Too bad the historical record doesn’t reflect that, tina. Your ignorance of Islam and its view of slavery is unimpressive and riddled with popular falsehoods. I doubt you have any real interest in the subject beyond the usual predictable coptic propaganda.

  13. DrM I doubt you have any real knowledge of anything and in particular coptic history so why don’t you keep your ignorant remarks to yourself. You sound exactly like the idiots in Egypt who continue to insist that everything was always great between muslims/copts and continues to be great. Yes, I’m sure that any and all complaints we have about our past and present treatment is just “coptic proganda”. The majority of Americans I know, don’t even know who or what Copts are so apparently our “propaganda” isn’t doing a very good job.
    What ignorance did I display about Islam. That slavery existed back then? True. That slaves belonging to all people, not just muslims, were probably treated badly despite the fact that God said they should be treated kindly? True again. Absolute power such as that that exists between a master and his slave almost always leads to corruption and ill treatment. And if you think that I’m one of those people who are obsessed with slavery being permissible in Islam I have no problem admitting that slavery was permissible in the Bible as well. I see absolutely nothing wrong with what I stated. Slavery is wrong, no matter who the enslaver was or who the enslaved was. I’m sorry you have a problem with that but I’m really not going to apologize for saying it.

  14. Abu Ameerah makes some excellent points. I’ve also been aware of D’Souza for many years. He made a name for himself as a Buckely acolyte all the way back in his Dartmouth Review days. Basically he was one of the token darkies that conservatives would roll out to prove that they’re not racists.

    He is a racist. An unabashed and unapologetic racist. And there’s nothing that he, nor anyone else, can do or say that disguises that fact.

    However, I heard him on a recent radio interview and was shocked to find myself in almost complete agreement with him. Umar pretty much echoes my thoughts here beginning with the 3rd paragraph of this post (“D’Souza makes the assertion…”)

    I’m definitely going to check out that CSPAN debate when I get some time.

    But DrM is also right that those who advance the theory that Muslims dislike the West strictly for cultural reasons, likely have ulterior motives or another agenda that they are advancing.

    D’Souza has always been culturally conservative on the domestic front, but a hardcore neocon when it comes to all matters of foreign policy. (the exception that proves the rule being the Balkans)

  15. DrM: “Sorry Kermit..er..I mean Dinesh but Paris Hilton and high cholesterol isn’t what infuriates Muslims, its having bullets and bombs with a “made in America” label that does the trick. Its the gang rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girls like Abeer Hamza by US war criminals which makes Muslims angry, not Myspace and Anna Nicole. The mass murder of over 650000 Iraqis doesn;t go unnoticed. Support for judeofascist terrorists doesn’t help either. Theres plenty of non-Muslims who have come to that logical conclusion.
    Its really that simple.”

    Well-stated. An excellent job of laying out the basic facts … or at least facts that would be basic were not a large (but thankfully ever-diminishing) branch of humanity so wrapped up in the shroud of self-pity and victimhood while simultaneously projecting its hubris and bloodlust to every corner of the world.

    But many Muslims are also concerned because they believe that not just their lives and their political freedom is at stake, but also their deen and their culture(s).

    Many of us believe (not without reason) that the West will ultimately not be satisfied until there is an abortuary in every village, red light districts and “gay pride” rallies in every city, and Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” is required reading for every school kid.

    In other words, the West won’t rest until all of its cultural poisons and pollutants are transferred over to us in toto.

    Like a mortally wounded man lashing out at everything around it, not satisfied until everything is dragged down into the same darkness that he himself is being engulfed in.

    A Buchanan column from nearly three years ago, “What do we offer the world?” is a worthy, and honest, read on this topic.

  16. A few points:

    – Do we have to agree with 100% of everything someone says in order to consider the merit of what he is saying? The article was good, but that doesn’t mean that one agrees with 100% of his positions

    – There is no need to insult someone’s appearance. The Kermit jokes are out of line

    – More Muslims need to get involved with refuting people like Robert Spencer who are making a lot of inroads with their attacks on us

  17. Br Tariq said: “- There is no need to insult someone’s appearance. The Kermit jokes are out of line.”

    Sr. bintWill said: “at times I find it very annoying when others assumed because I am a convert, I “enjoyed” a lifestyle of drinking, premaritial sex, and everything else they’ve seen in the movies.”

    *** Word!! ***

  18. The devil lies in the details, tina. Your carping holds little water given the fact that slavery under Islam was nothing like that practiced in the Americas. Do your reading before you start typing rubbish. I doubt Copts would constitute 15-20% of Egyptian society if they were so historically persecuted. The richest man in Egypt is a Copt (Naguib Sawiris), the leader of one of the largest opposition groups called Kifaya is christian (George Ishak), the minister of finance is christian (Ghali) and one of Egypt’s greatest authors is christian (Youssef Chahine). Yes, you are underrepresented some sectors (in the media and in some government positions) but you enjoy great success in other fields such as the business world. You are also the ones generally employed as managers by European and American companies in Egypt because of your bilingual skills. Its not a perfect system but its a far cry from the nonsense coptic extremists in the US are always complaining about. The things some people will do to get a green card….
    As for Kermit, I mean Dinesh…I couldn’t resist, Tariq. The only thing missing on the guy is green paint.

  19. There are a few problems with D’Souza’s conclusions:

    1. Why does 80%+ of Jihadist attacks target fellow Muslims?

    2. Do Buddhists teachers or Hindu citizens asks themselves “why do they hate us?” after a terrorist attack in Thailand or India?

    It seems to be generally accepted around here that the hatred of the West is rational and due to our selfish actions. But we are so focused on ourselves that we fail to realize that the West has been the least affected by terrorists attacks, rather than the most. South Asia, Algeria, North Africa, Indonesia have it far worse by any measure… …must be due to their support of Israel.

  20. I don’t hold your points as being valid, that slavery in Islam cannot be compared to American slavery. Actually, you really haven’t made any points. What exactly is the difference? If you denounce one as evil than you should denounce the other. I don’t see what difference it makes who the master was and who the slave was. Muhammed and his companions and followers were just men like any other, meaning they had the same faults as any other man (including the white men) and committed the same sins and bad deeds as anyother (including the white men). You still have not explained you’re line of thinking. You just continue to say that I’m wrong. Admittedly, the muslims generally obtained their slaves much differently than how the white people did, but I doubt the treatment was any different. Slaves being treated kindly was more like the exception than the rule. As I said before, the kind of absolute power that exists between a master and his slave would almost always lead to corruption and ill treatment. Just looking out how some prison guards treat their prisoners gives you an idea (ie: Abu Ghraib). Its the same kind of relationship.
    I have no problem admitting when I have lost an argument if I think someones opinoin/logic makes more sense than mine, but you nor anyone else has explained why I’m wrong. You just keep saying there’s a difference. So I will continue to agree with myself and disagree with you.

    And as to us supposedly using sob stories to get into the US through asylum or something as you seem to be implying, that is absolutely ludicrous. We get in like any other immigrants, the lottery or work visas. There are zero copts that I know who obtained entry into the US by whining and making up some story about their situation. They got people to sponsor them and came in like any other immigrant. And as for being 15-20% of the population, its nice to see someone actually acknowledge that. But we used to make up the entire population of Egypt, aside from a small population of Jews, so yes lets get our facts straight. And I never said that copts are not successful. My grandfather was a priest and my father also very well educated. My point was that not every complaint or accusation we make about our treatment is “propaganda” as you rudely suggested. Nor is my statement that copts were persecuted, enslaved, and treated badly back in the day some garbage we like to just throw around. Anyways, this part of my comment really has nothing to do with Umar’s post so I’ll shut up about it now. And if you’ll excuse me I have to go attend church so I can be filled with more propoganda and lies.

  21. You’re in no position to judge the Prophet(pbuh), tina. Show me the evidence that slavery under Islam was equivalent to the one practiced in the Americas. If not, I suggest you get off your little coptic soapbox and start reading books written by someone without the last name Spencer. Should, coulda and woulda are not subtitutes for an argument. Your comment about Abu Gharib shows utterly clueless you are on the issue. Last time I checked those guys were Christians. Now since you acknowledge the Biblical endorsement of slavery, would you be willing to concede that Christ(a.s.) who is God incarnate to you, was wrong on the issue? Maybe someone from your Church might be able to elaborate on that.
    I’ll ask you again, why are Copts roughly 1/5 of the Egyptian population if the Muslims wiped you out? Take it up with the descendants of those converted to Islam(what religion were the majority of Egyptians before the advent of Christianity?). Christians and Muslims have lived together for centuries in the Middle East in relative peace and have always respected each other. Your monastaries and churches survive till this day, even when the demography shifted in favor of Muslims. Most of the problems of today originated only in the last 50 years with secular pan Arabism via Nasser.
    Playing the persecution card will only get you so far, you can pretend people in your community don’t do it, but they do to get on the green card gravy train. Anybody who wants to see how extreme and Copts in America have become should check how they handled the death of the Armanous family in New Jersey, like the sectarian twits that they are.

  22. Spencer doesn’t do live debates with Muslims preferring to hide behind the internet. He claims to worry for his safety(like the coward Ali Sina) yet the fact of the matter is it would take just one single debate to turn him inside out.

  23. Just a little intervention in the discussion on slavery.
    Clearly Tina, you have not read the vast literature that compares slavery in Muslim society with slavery in the US. There are major debates on the subject, but your understanding is deeply flawed. In fact, your statements reflect a deep ignorance of comparative studies on slavery. So, as an academic, scholar, and teacher, who happens whose research interests are on Race, Slavery, and Muslim societies, I will have to point you to some sources. In fact, I have developed a syllabus on this very subject. Keep in mind that as a Western strained scholar I have an ethical responsibility to teach present the material in a balanced way while keeping in mind my own subjectivity as a Black American Muslim woman. And you have made it clear that your Coptic background has shaped the way you understand slavery in the Muslim world. Unlike you, my understanding is shaped not by polemical literature, but instead by a close analysis of the structures of inequality in Muslim societies.
    I first suggest you read “Shaun Marmon’s “Slavery in the Islamic Middle East” then you can compare that to Bernard Lewis’s “Race and Slavery in Islam. You will find that these scholars point out the clear differences between slavery in the Muslim world and chattel slavery in the West.
    Once you have a better understanding, I suggest you then read “Transformations in Slavery” by Paul Lovejoy, “The Anthropology of Slavery” by Claude Meillasoux, Richard Roberts’s work on the Bambara, the Umarian state in Mali, and colonialism, “Warriors, Merchants, and Slaves.”

    These works will enlighten you on how slavery worked in both non-Muslim and Muslim societies in Africa. They will also provide you with a more nuanced understanding of slavery, which you surely lack.
    I will point out that slavery did operated differently in Muslim and many African societies than the chattel slavery in the West. No expert would deny this.

    Here is one example that cripples your argument–
    Slave soldiers:
    Abbasids, Mamluks, Ottomans, Moulay Ismail in Morocco, and Sokoto Caliphate. These slaves of the sultan were often powerful. The ruling class and elites in Egypt came from the class of slave soldiers (hence the Mamluks and Ottomans and their devshirme system) They had more power than common people. I have also interviewed a former slave of the Sultan in Morocco and when he was attached to the royal household, he was a gatekeeper to power and enjoyed certain rights and privileges that no common Moroccan had.
    So, a slave is a slave? Hmmm, if I was interested in power, I’d rather be an Ottoman Jannissary than a free peasant.

    I can go on further by pointing out that the use of captives of war during the early Islamic period was very different from the Atlantic slave system. This is not an issue of whether white people owned slavery or not. So you are clearly misunderstanding the umbrage that some people have. The fact is, that chattel slavery was a completely dehumanizing system. As it developed, it completely denied the fact that slaves were human beings. And if you look at the documents such as the constitution of the United States, slaves were only considered partial humans. And they were denied any rights whatsoever. Instead they were property. This contrasts sharply with the system of slavery that was allowed by Shariah. And in fact, the system of slavery in the Middle East, while brutal in its own right, did allow many measures of assimilation. This is why the black population in Egypt and most of North Africa is so invisible. yet millions of slaves were transported across the Sahara over a millenia. Nor were slaves used in the same way in Muslim societies. Often they were household slaves and less involved in production to such a scale as in the Americas. For a further discussion, I suggest you go read those works. And you can go and call some of the most erudite scholars idiots if you like. They will point out that while we do not have a lot of documents dating back to the early Islamic period, it is very clear that captives of war were often used to recycle manpower and that Muslims were encouraged to manumit slaves. At this point, I don’t think it is reasonable to debate this topic. I suggest you read up and then get back at me once you know what you’re talking about.

  24. Why are you so unbelievably ignorant. For starters, I have no idea who Robert Spencer is, nor do I care to know. He sounds like an idiot. Secondly, Jesus never espoused slavery. Slavery is only found in the Old Testament of the Bible when God ordered the Jewish people to take them after wars (much like Islam). With the arival of Jesus, the relationship between God and his believers changed. Unlike the Old Testament where God was depicted as the avenger (ie: Noah, Lot, Moses and the Egyptians) and the taking of slaves was permissible, the relationship with God after Jesus’ arrival became one of love,mercy, forgiveness etc rather than vengeance is mine and the taking of slaves. Secondly, I’m not judging your prophet. I said he was a man. Since he is just a man and not a divine being the way christians view Jesus, that means he is capable of sin. If I viewed Jesus as being a mere man than I would also have no problem saying that he sinned, but I don’t view him as being just a man. How is that being judgmental? Stating commonly known facts is not being judgmental. But, fine, if it makes you happy I admit that I sin and am in no position to be judgemental about anyone. All people sin, including Muhammed and to say otherwise would be a lie. Did I specifically point out his sins? No, because I have no idea what they are. Rabbena Arif.
    And when did I say that the Abu Ghraib guards were not Christian. Stop being so ridiculous. Everyone knows they are (Although I will say that being a white american doesn’t automatically make you a christian) I was using it to illustrate my point that no matter how many people argue that slaves were treated justly during the Bible days, Islam days, or after, people with absolute power over someone become easily corrupted (ie: the Abu Ghraib guards and masters of slaves). Learn to read.

    IMHO I view the comparison of slavery in islam (or Bible days for that matter if makes you happy) to that in the Americas to be like comparing which is worse: getting murdered with a knife or getting murdered with a gun? Which would you prefer DrM? The knife because its Islamic (or Biblical if you prefer), or the gun because its American?
    Both are equally horrible and I fail to see the logic that they are somehow different.

    And lastly, about the copts. I said in the past they were persecuted. Which is true. Are they persecuted now? No. But I pointed out that discrimination most certainly stil exists which is also true. Show me where exactly I pointed out that copts today are being persecuted. And secondly, copts used to make up 99% of the population. They now make up 10%, 12% at the most probably (not 1/5). I will be the first to admit that a lot willingly converted to Islam back in the day, but then again some were also forcibly converted and others killed. I don’t understand why you feel the need to deny this point. (And please don’t argue that there is no compulsion of relgion in Islam. I know that. But we are all human and nobody exactly does as God wants or commands, including Christians)

    And the Armanious family murders blew up like that because the authorities reported the father had received death threats from people on a website he had been having frequent debates with and additional reports began circulating that their coptic tattoos had been defaced and slashed off of their wrists. Only later was it discovered that the defacing of the coptic tattoos was not true, but the damage had already been done

    And lastly, there’s no reason to call me, my family, or members of my faith “sectarian twits” . Never during this entire debate with you did I lable you a “secterian twit” or insult the other believers of your faith. Its now obvious that you are the one who is both sectarian and a twit.
    When muslim women complain of discrimination at the workplace or at school because of their hijab/niqaab do I say that they are being sectarian propagandaists? No. Do I accuse them of trying to somehow get ahead of a line and gain benefits for themselves by lying about their experiences or exaggerating them? Never. Why? Because I am not in their shoes and have no idea what they experience. Likewise you have no idea what Copts experience so stop acting like you know everything there is to know about them. Just as muslims are discriminated against and hated by many in the christian world, so too are christians discriminated against and hated by many in the muslim world. Just because you don’t agree with my opinions doesn’t mean you have to be an a$$hole. My discussion with you is officially over.

  25. Sorry, margari, we just cross posted. I’ll read it fully later:) But I think I’m done commenting on this subject. I feel that I’ve been insulted and maligned enough for one day by DrM:) And yes I am speaking from a coptic perspective and how I know copts were treated, not necessarily how the other people I saw you mention as I glanced over your comment were treated. Thanks for the info

  26. Okay, I have just fully read your post. And I do admit that I was wrong about certain areas:) As I told DrM I have no probably admitting when I’m wrong. With regards to the slave soldiers you mentioned I have no doubt that your speaking the truth. But, not all slaves were treated in such a manner ie: copts, which we all know has colored my view of Islamic slave holding:) With regards to Umar’s original assertion, I still agree with it. Sorry. I’ll have to go read some more.

  27. Okay I know I said I wouldn’t comment again, but this is the last time Margari. I reread your post and part of it bothered me. It seemed like you were saying that since the slaves were more powerful and treated better than if they had been free, it was better for them. That kind of seems like the rationale the colonial white people used when they shoved their beliefs and ideals down the throats of the Native Americans and Africans all the while asserting (in literature which I have read) how it is better that they be colonized/enslaved because their beliefs were pagan, foreign, and unacceptable. They must be “civilized” so to speak. And using your examples it seems like you’re asserting that since the slaves were treated well and were made powerful by the muslims than that makes it okay. The whole point of my initial argument in the very very beginning of this entire debate is that slavery should not be defended and it seemed to me like you all were and are defending something that doesn’t deserve to be defended.

    And as God is my witness, I will officially SHUTUP

  28. You have no idea who Spencer is, tina? Did you even read the post? He’s mentioned in the first paragraph. You think he sounds like an idiot yet your arguments resemble his. A little daft this fine Sunday are we?
    You’re blowing smoke up peoples skirts. You defensively and deceptively play down the role of slavery in the New Testament (read 1 Peter 2:18; Ephesians 6:5-8; Titus 2:9-10; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1 ) when it suits your purpose, yet insist in repeatedly calling Prophet Muhammed(pbuh) a sinner while admitting that you know nothing about his life and deeds. Then you have the nerve to call yourself non-judgemental. I guess we can add the term shallow hypocrite to your list of flaws.
    Only an ignorant idiot would insist that the non-Muslim woman have it as bad as hijab clad Muslim woman in Christian(and supposedly democratic) societies. The Armanous family was the victim of a home invasion robbery yet the extremist American Coptic Association insisted on blaming Muslims for the crime despite evidence to the contrary. To call them sectarian twits with an axe to grind with the Muslim community is an understatement.
    All this nonsense about persecution because you could not provide a scintila of evidence against slavery in Islam vs slavery in the Americas. Either put up or shut up.

  29. DrM & Dariush: Thanks for the comments…

    Margari Aziza Hill: Interesting points, mashallah.

    Tina: You have a incredibly weak and flawed understanding of Islam and Islamic history. Your arguments are, unfortunately, skewed by a Coptic Christian coloring of the facts. The reference you made of the struggles that your “martyrs” and “saints” supposedly endured in comparison to the historical struggles of Muslims is also a bit humorous.

    Your arguments, and manner of argumentation, differs little when compared to that of Robert Spencer. You see Tina, just as you did, Spencer also focuses his attacks on Islam with a rather narrow and incomplete understanding of a major world religion. Both you and Spencer seem to frame the core of your argument(s) against Islam with little proof/evidence or logical reasoning. Instead, hoping to dominate any exchange of discourse by appealing to emotions and limited understanding of others. Like Spencer, if you shout loud enough or focus on the most dramatic or frightening “fact” — then you can essentially dominate any discussion. Take, for example, Spencer’s coining of the phrase “Dhimmitude”… a term which is of no intellectual or academic value — but one that appeals to the sheer ignorance of many in the west.

  30. Guys, let up on Tina. I don’t think she should be compared to Robart Spencer. I think you’ve got an idea why slavery in America and in old time ME was very different. Also, some of what happened later during the Sultan’s times was not always sanctioned Islamically, so I don’t feel we need to defend that. Let’s leave it at that.

    I don’t think we should leave it to D’Souza to defend Islam. Some of what he said might be correct, but we need to debate Spencer on our ground. I think Dariush and DrM are correct that specific foreign policies are to blame for a lot of that, and these are no more the fault of the cultural left as they are of the sort of institutions D’Souza has been a part of. Umar is correct that a certain angle of the West is amplified by the media in the east and west, and it is unfortunate, but that is not the only reason for the hostilities we face today.

  31. “I don’t think we should leave it to D’Souza to defend Islam. Some of what he said might be correct, but we need to debate Spencer on our ground.”

    — I agree.

    “Umar is correct that a certain angle of the West is amplified by the media in the east and west, and it is unfortunate…”

    –No he isn’t. Muslims (in and out of the media) should use all means, fair and unfair, at dealing with the hegemony of the West. Media conglomerates, Corporations, financial institutions, and political bodies in the West don’t necessarily “play with a full deck” — so why should we?

  32. Tina,

    You are clearly having an emotional reaction to my post. Now you are imposing your own views into my argument. My main argument is that slavery in the ME is not the same as the trans-Atlantic slave system. You tried to conflate the two. While there is is room for comparative studies, your argument was flawed. I only provided one example because I didn’t have time. That example I used was meant to disprove your claim that all forms of slavery were the same. I ran out of time, so I didn’t cite cases of the Zanj in 10th century Iraq, the clove plantations in Zanzibar, and concubinage in the ME. Once you read up on this history, you will be far more prepared to engage in a real discussion on the this topic. As for now, they are outside the scope of this blog.

  33. I second the excellent works cited by Margari. Any serious student of history should be able to see that the slavery practiced in the Americas was quite different from that practiced at the time of the sahaba and any comparison of the two is faulty and absurd.

  34. qawukzi,

    I was not making a defense of slavery. Instead, I was complicating Tina’s simplistic analysis of slavery. The main problem that I had was that she accused others saying it was okay for Arabs to enslave but we have a problem with white people. And that was absolutely ludicrous. The fact is that North Africans (including Egyptians) constructed themselves as white in opposition of Black Africans whom they frequently enslaved. I am not an apologist for slavery or social inequality. Like I said, western Academics don’t have a lot of documents about slavery in early Islamic society. But what they do know is that 7th century Arabia was a pre-capitalist society where slaves were used in limited capacities. They weren’t used in the same capacity as plantation slavery in the Americas. Often slavery was used to assimilate a conquered population. This differs from Semitic traditions (which you can find in the Old Testament) of massacreing all the men and boys. I stated that Islamic law sanctioned the use of prisoners of war, while at the same time it encouraged the manumission of slaves.
    This goes back to prophetic times. We have evidence for that in oral traditions that were eventually written down. Because Tina is not a Muslim and is unlikely going to accept our own traditional scholarship on the subject, I referred her to scholarship on the matter. Had I not made an intervention in the subject, the basis of her arguments would have remained unsound and the discussion would have remained highly polemical as the two opposing groups would have continually accused each other of propaganda.

  35. Do Buddhists teachers or Hindu citizens asks themselves “why do they hate us?” after a terrorist attack in Thailand or India?

    It seems to be generally accepted around here that the hatred of the West is rational and due to our selfish actions. But we are so focused on ourselves that we fail to realize that the West has been the least affected by terrorists attacks, rather than the most.

    I agree with you, Jordan, in this. The West’s obsession with itself has caused, I think, a lack of understanding about the other peoples around the world, and what the West’s role is in the global scheme of things and the perceptions others have of them as they play that role. Attacks in Thailand, for example, don’t create a “why do they hate us?” type response because the issues involved are very old and well known. Likewise for India (although perhaps not as clearcut as in Thailand). But for the average American the issues involving 9/11 are as clear as mud, which has created the “why?” response. One of the problems with D’Souza is that he’s created some rather silly arguments that tries to explain the “why?” for Americans. His recent appearance on The Colbert Report only reconfirmed that silliness. (Check the video out on Crooks & Liars.)

    BTW, I happened to visit Pam Atlas’ blog (Atlas Shrugs) the other day, and she thought Spencer “won” the debate, which is hardly surprising considering how much she hates Muslims.

  36. “One thing I find rather comical is the claim that Muslim dislike for America has something to do with the supposed lack of morals here. This is a classic red herring.
    Europeans are far more decadent then Americans any day so Muslims would be far more inclined to dislike them if the premise were sound…its having bullets and bombs with a “made in America” label that does the trick. Its the gang rape and murder of 14 year old Iraqi girls like Abeer Hamza by US war criminals which makes Muslims angry, not Myspace and Anna Nicole. The mass murder of over 650000 Iraqis doesn’t go unnoticed. Support for judeofascist terrorists doesn’t help either. Theres plenty of non-Muslims who have come to that logical conclusion.
    Its really that simple.”
    Dr. M, I totally agree with you.
    I don’t know about other countries but vast majority of Pakistanis still consider US a land of ‘opportunity’ and not a land of moral decay. Pass around the offer to import a family to US, and you will see what happens!

    Someone really needs to get their fact right, comparing slavery during the time of Prophet vs. slavery here in US or anywhere in the world, its’ a joke right!

    There are not even any set rules or explicit examples in any other religion, society, culture of how to treat slaves. What Islam teaches about slavery is far beyond comparasion, and it was practically implemented first and foremost by Prophet himself and later by his companions and later by those who practiced Islam in its true essence.

    As born and raised in a free family (walhamdullialh) spoiled by father first and now husband (jazaAllahu khair), i.e. even after tasting the sweetness of ‘freedom’, I would still jump at the chance of becoming Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasalam’s salve, and which Muslim wouldn’t!

    Tina, Prophet (saw) was not a divine man just like Jesus was not a divine man. They both were brothers in prophethood and Jesus will testify to this on the Day of Judgment.
    Prophet Muhammad’s treatment of other people was a prime example for the entire humanity and not just Muslims, even the non-Muslims have testified to this. Read if you wish, ‘The life of Muhammad’ by Haykal.

  37. I’ve read this “modest proposal” a while back, George. Its essentially a right wing pipe dream. Their premise is based on the paranoia that the Muslim world threatens the West. Furthermore, they are essentially admitting that theirs is a failed culture by acknowledging that it is decadent and a culturally destructive force.

  38. DrM, what do you think about the argument from that article that the root cause of modern Western licentiousness is the fact that the refusal of women to “marry down” means that too many women are chasing after too few acceptable-to-marry men?

    As for de-Ally McBealizing America, I would love to hear your plan. But any plan would have to deal with the root cause of America’s slide into sexual license, which is the skewed effective sex ratio generated by modernity. Modern societies simply have too many women chasing too few marriageable (not just fully able to shoulder the minimum economic, social, and familial responsibilities of husband/father, but also “acceptable” to the marriageable woman, e.g., smarter, taller, older, more successful, and more educated than her.) Some of the big “culprits” are ending death in childbirth (eliminating the supply of widowers in search of a new mother for their children), and, especially, mass education of women (because women are loath to “marry down” education-wise, while men are happy to). . . .

    What is your favorite solution to America’s sex ratio problem? The options to solve a “demographic” problem are never appealing, and the options to solve an (effective) sex ratio problem are Really Ugly:

    – Deny higher education to women
    – Selective female fetus abortion
    – Selective female infanticide
    – Mass male-only immigration
    – Mass female-only emigration
    – Formalized (legal) polygyny
    – Enforced sexual selection (all males who are not fully able to economically support any children they might father are rendered sterile (e.g., by a male version of Norplant).
    – “Exhortation” (a la James Q. Wilson, Bill Bennett, yourself): “Marry and be a responsible and faithful husband because it’s the right thing to do, even though the girls in Middle School are already performing oral sex on their boyfriends.” The problem with “exhortation” in a free society is that it does not work.
    – Coercion: Basically, institute a society like fundamentalist Islam! (This would work because it does work.)

  39. I don’t buy their angle, George. These idiots need to get out more. My view on changing sex ratios is that people don’t want to shoulder the economic responsibility of marriage or children. The other being that most westerners engage in pre-marital sexual relations with multiple partners which makes marriage and commitment difficult to maintain. The divorce rates speak for themselves. Its not a black and white situation but I think the habits and demands of materialism will bring this about in one form or another whether applied in the West or East.

  40. In connection with the sex ratio argument it may also be noted that the hedonistic “party town” of the 20th century Western world was always a city with more women than men. In some cases this was due to war killing off a lot of men (Paris in the 1920s, New York in the late 1940s, Rome in the 1950s), while in others it was due to the showbiz culture attracting a lot of young women (Hollywood in the 1930s, Mod-era London, LA 1970-present).

    The other being that most westerners engage in pre-marital sexual relations with multiple partners which makes marriage and commitment difficult to maintain.

    When did promiscuity of this type become common in the West, and what drove it?

  41. Most people these days trace western promiscuity to the sexual “revolution” of the 1960s, George. I’m not so sure, but theres no question it’s had a negative impact on society.
    Thanks for the article vtdas. Judging by the comments section, he is going to lose a lot of his fans, including a pair hindutva fascists if he keeps speaking out against Islamophobia.

  42. Salam alaikum,
    First, I like to thank brother umar for his excellent blog. From London, his insghts into the ‘social’ & ‘political’ eviroment shaping American Muslims concerns is refreshing, far more insghtful than the glib, ‘ideolgical’ pieces from liberal or rightwing American (or English) academics.

    In this regard, it is a bit worrying that statements against ‘Tina’ derive from proud recitation of ‘Western’ sources. I have an Anglo-Irish & Afro-Caribean identity, and am also a ‘muslim’. I have been a student of history, and studied the very sources Margari mentions. She sites the ‘Zanj’ but doesen’t speak about the ‘rebellions’, with a strong racial component, associated with them. These were not unlike those among the Maroons in either Jamaica or Guyana or Brazil. The point abt ‘slave’ elites does inform us that slavery was ‘conceptualised’ in a different way fii l sharq al awsat, and regulated by Quranic contractual ethical norms (as indeed was marriage). But Tina’s point, eloquent, provoking, and deserving a less patronising response, is also fair. Slavey, despite the Mamlukes, was not a ‘social status’ any Arab would deem anything but misfortune. The slave was often out side the tribal codes of ‘honour’ & unfortunately, as in the Caribbean, and Brazil, the legacy of the colour problem (whitening etc, Shami standards of beauty etc) is apparent, if less discussed. A dark colour is synonymous with slave ancestors, and it may not have got you whipped or lynched (and we are not exactly sure abt that), but it had other social barriers, esp in regards to marriage partners. Tina is on to something, so is Umar (who, I think, began the comparison) and even with slavery in Americas, with the diverse ecological enviroments slaves were ’employed’ in, uniformity of treatment was not apparent. A slave is a slave: lacks precision, but in terms of others perceptions of the ‘slave’ it may capture its ‘objectivising’ & ‘negative’ implications in most places, most times, most societies. Our diin, our God, our Prophet (PBUH) is beyond those implications just as much as our Prophet ‘Issa (PBUH) is . God proposes; man disposes. Wal Allah ya3lamu al haqq

  43. Just linked here so missed the discussion, but thought I’d leave some information on a book by Dr. Andrew Bostom entitled “Legacy of Jihad.” Professor Bruce Thornton in his review said: “Dr. Bostom has compiled an invaluable collection of primary documents … from fourteen centuries of Islamic commentary.”

    “… Bostom continues his own introductory essay with a survey of Islamic conquest and the accompanying massacres, raids, kidnapping, ethnic cleansing, devastation, and enslavement that marked the advance of Islam from Spain to Southeast Asia. Given how obsessive we are over the European enslavement of Africans, it’s eye-opening to read about the extent of Islamic slave-trading: an estimated 17 million Africans, over one-and-a-half times the estimated 10 million purchased by Europeans, were acquired and then forced-march across the Sahara to their masters’ territories, thousands dying along the way, their bones littering the desert sands.

    This trade continued for centuries after Europe and America had ended the slave trade: slavery wasn’t formally abolished in Saudi Arabia until 1962, and continues in Sudan and Mauritania today. And let’s not forget the millions of Europeans kidnapped and sold into slavery by Muslim pirates in the Mediterranean, or the African men cruelly castrated to provide eunuchs for harems and government service, or the Balkan Christian boys, perhaps as many as one million, taken from their parents, forcibly converted, and made to serve the Ottoman regime.”

    Thorton also recommends K. S. Lal’s “The Legacy of Muslim Rule in India.”

    “Similar to Islamic invasions everywhere, the incursions were accompanied by massacres, pillaging, depopulation, enslavement of women and children, and the destruction of temples and idols. Such exploits are celebrated in the pages of Muslim historians, as in this description of the attack on Thanesar: ‘The blood of the infidels flowed so copiously that the stream was discolored, and people were unable to drink it.'”

    Andrew Bostom is a medical doctor and a Jew, so I’m certain some here will give his extensive research short shrift and treat it as dismissively as they did Tina’s views on Muslim treatment of Copts. But it’s past time that DrM and his ilk look beyond Islamic apologetics and read some factual history – from Islamic primary sources. Maybe he can compare/contrast the numbers of killed and enslaved over millennia.

    The continual demonization of the U.S. has become truly tiresome. We are no better or worse than anyone, just an imperfect democracy. We do, however, acknowledge and learn from our history, and we work at ridding our society of hatred and bigotry.

  44. Come off it, CT. Since when did jewish extremists like Bostom(of zionist FrontPageMag fame) become authorities on Islamic history and theology? You’re pimping of this third rate propagandist only reveals your own contempt for history.
    Its funny how you moan about the supposed “demonization of the US” yet promote the demonization of Islam and Muslims. What a shallow minded hypocrite.

  45. DrM,

    Are you saying that Bostom’s and Lal’s histories are inaccurate?

    I’m not a historian, so depend on discussion of contrasting views to determine the truth. It’s seems illogical that Islam spread so widely, in just over 100 years, without some of the mayhem that Bostom and Lal describe.

    Historical wrongs of the U.S. are readily denounced, but I haven’t found a Muslim writer who deals with the violence in Islam’s history. Can you direct me to someone other than Bostom and Lal who deals with these issues? Thanks.

  46. Oh I’m saying that and a whole lot more CT. Bostom is a medical doctor, not a historian. A simple search reveals that his views are carried by only extreme anti-Muslim websites of the zionist variety. K.S. Lal is a member of India’s RSS Hindu fascist far right which views all religious minorities, particularly Muslims with contempt. He hasnt written a book worth notice in nearly 45 years and is a fixture in communal politics. The fact that Bostom widely cites Lal isn’t surprising at all. Extremist orientalist rubbish written for extremists.

    If you want something factual try :
    A History of the Arab Peoples(250 pages of which deals with the history of Islam) by Albert Hourani(a maronite Christian)

    and the multivolume A History of the Crusades

  47. Salaam,
    There is something that bintWill said that really struck a cord with me: “…at times I find it very annoying when others assumed because I am a convert, I “enjoyed” a lifestyle of drinking, premaritial sex, and everything else they’ve seen in the movies.” Amin. You know this crosses with race, in my experience over the years as a Muslim convert who’s black, from the East Coast and was raised Catholic (yes it’s odd but there’s a lot of us just like alot of latinos who were raised Catholic) I have to be something else (not black or different racial brown person) because I have a career and am not from the inner city. Then it’s funny when the sisters you know who you think are close friends harbor these stereotypes that come out when you start talking more openly by even surprised silence or a “masha’Allah.” Examples, I don’t remember going to the movies until I was 16 or 17. Even when VHS blockbuster renting was popular, my father (who had some children very late in life and I was one of them) held the card in his name and my siblings and I who wanted to see a movie would accompany our dad to the blockbuster and we had to show him the movie before he would pay for it because everyone in the house had to be able to watch it, or having to be in the house when the street lights came on, wearing long dresses and and gloves as children (and yes I grew up in the ’80’s not the 1950’s!), calling someone a dog would get you a spanking quicker than saying a curse words sometimes, smoking was taboo, supposed to say yes ma’am (although we fought it because we thought it was annoying and outdated), having to eat dinner as a family during the week after homework and since i had so many sisters and brothers my parents designated one table for the boys and one table for the girls–yes very “old-school” or I would like to say traditional. I would have to say American traditional because I was not raised Muslim. As usual, being Muslim and black we’re caught in the middle of the American stereotype from both blacks and whites of being “one of them”– a terrorist or ‘foreigner’ or from the Muslim world stereotype of being a “Westerner” or not “authentically Muslim.” Astaghfri’Allah. This is so annoying.

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