By Dr Habib Siddiqui
March 24, 2016
DONALD Trump said on March 9, 2016 that he thinks ‘Islam hates us’, drawing little distinction between the religion and radical terrorism by some misguided and angry Muslims.
‘I think Islam hates us’, Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, deploring the ‘tremendous hatred’ that he said partly defined the religion. Trump doubled down on that statement during the Republican debate the following night.
On ‘Fox News Sunday’, March 13, Chris Wallace told Trump that among the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, ‘according to the best experts, think tanks around the world, they say at most, 100,000 people are fighting for jihadist causes. That’s less than — it’s a tiny fraction of 1 per cent.’
In response, Trump claimed that a Pew Research Centre survey found that among the world’s Muslims, ‘27 percent, could be 35 per cent, would go to war’ against the US.
In his remarks on Sunday, he also said, ‘It would be easier for me to say, “Oh, no, everybody loves us.” But there’s something going on. There’s a big problem. And radical Islamic terrorism is taking place all over the world.’
When the Pew Research Centre was contacted, it said it has conducted no survey that asks such a question. ‘The Centre has not issued a survey saying that 27 per cent of Muslims would go to war with the US, nor has the Centre asked a question of Muslims about “going to war”,’ Dana Page, a spokeswoman for the Pew Research Centre, said.
Pew Research did publish a report in 2014 that generally found concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations. It found that overall; few Muslims endorse ‘suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets as a means of defending Islam against its enemies.’
For example, in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, 89 per cent said suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians are rarely or never justified.
But those who expressed support for violence to defend Islam from its enemies didn’t say, nor were they asked, if they ‘would go to war’ with the US, as Trump claims.
Pew Research Centre also found that ‘most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavourable view of the terrorist group ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94 per cent in Jordan.’ (This refers to the terrorist group Daesh, or what is known here in the west as the Islamic State, aka the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).) And strong majorities in most countries with substantial Muslim populations have unfavourable opinions of al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
By the way, such unfounded accusations by Trump are not new. Last December, Trump released a statement that called for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on’, and cited Pew Research and the Centre for Security Policy. It said:
According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Centre for Security Policy released data showing ‘25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad’ and 51% of those polled, ‘agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.’ Shariah authorises such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women. (December 7, 2015)
The Centre for Security Policy in June 2015 did an online survey of 600 American Muslims, culled from those who had previously agreed to respond to such surveys. It found that 29 per cent agreed that ‘violence against those that insult the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, or Islamic faith is sometimes acceptable.’ Also, 25 per cent agreed that ‘violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.’
It should be noted that experts warn that an opt-in Internet survey is notoriously unreliable. Even the CSP itself cautions that the survey can’t be used to represent the American Muslim population at large, but rather ‘the results are of those individual Muslims polled.’ The sample size is also too small for an unbiased study. (It appears that if alpha risk chosen was 0.05, then the margin of error for the CSP study was 4 per cent.)
The Washington Post noted that the president and founder of the CSP, Frank Gaffney, is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-Muslim extremist. The survey doesn’t represent all Muslims living in the United States — only those surveyed who purported to be Muslim. The survey may include ex-Muslims and even anti-Muslim hawks and zealots. So, the very premise of Trump’s assertion is simply absurd.
A recent Pew research asked voters how the next president should talk about extremism and Islam. According to Pew research published in February, ‘about two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (65 per cent) — including seven-in-ten conservative Republicans (70 per cent) — want the next president to speak bluntly about extremism even if it means being critical of Islam.’ By contrast, 70 per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents ‘say the next president should be careful not to criticise Islam as a whole.’
As is quite apparent from this year’s US presidential debates, the Republican Party truly has a ‘Muslim problem’. Much like the fascists and Nazis of Mussolini-Hitler era with Jews, they are brazenly exploiting anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred to present themselves as viable candidates. If you are wondering why these politicians would do so, the answer is: bigotry sells.
Bigotry against Islam has become a lucrative business. There are thousands of pen-pushing ‘experts’ these days that have made a living selling bigotry against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11. They have mastered the art of cherry-picking Qur’anic verses and Ahadith without tracing such verses and narratives to the context of time or period, place and person (ie, the 3P’s). In so doing, they deliberately mischaracterise Islam and create hatred against Muslims.
These bigots often cite the verses from the Surah at-Tawbah, which were revealed about the inveterate enemies of Islam, ie, the Mushrik (pagan) oppressors of Arabia who had violently persecuted the nascent Muslim community of Makkah for long 13 years, who had evicted them and tried to wipe them out in the next eight years, so as to prove how intolerant Islam is or its Prophet Muhammad (S) was. They are oblivious of the unfathomed cruelty and torture (that are worse than water-boarding war crimes) suffered by the Prophet (S) and his companions — Bilal ibn Rabah, Sumayya, Khabbab bin al-Aratt, and Habib ibn Zayd al-Ansari (RA) and many others — in the hands of those pagan Arabs (see this author’s book: Devotional Stories — for their stories). They are equally silent about the Prophet’s (S) pardoning his old enemies on the day of the conquest of Makkah.
After removing the impurity of idolatry from the Ka’aba, Muhammad (S) posed a question to the Quraysh (the former enemies): ‘How do you think, I am going to treat you now?’ They said: ‘You are a generous brother, and the son of a generous brother. We expect only charity and forgiveness from you.’ He said: ‘I will tell you what Joseph said to his brothers: “There is no blame on you today” (Qur’an, 12:92). Go now; all of you are my freedmen.’ (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, The Messenger of Mercy)
The Prophet (S) declared a general amnesty in Makkah. The amnesty extended even to the apostates. He forbade his army to plunder the city or to seize anything that belonged to the Quraysh. ‘Quraysh had left nothing undone to compass his destruction and the destruction of Islam; but in his hour of triumph, he condoned all their crimes and transgressions.’ (Ibid)
In the words of historian Sir John Glubb, ‘Eight years earlier Muhammad had left Makkah as a fugitive with a price on his head and now he was entering the same city as its conqueror. His manner, however, bespoke not of pride or even of exultation but of gratitude and humility — gratitude to God for His mercy in bestowing success upon His humble slave, and humility in the contemplation of the vanity of worldly glory, and the evanescence of all things human.’ (The Great Arab Conquests)
The anti-Muslim zealots cite the chastisement of the Jews, especially of Banu Qurayza, in Madinah to show how intolerant Prophet Muhammad (S) was and how horrible Islamic Shariah is for a non-believer to live under. Again, they won’t tell the kind of conspiracy and treason, let alone the assassination attempt against the Prophet (S), that those Medinite Jews had committed to deserve the punishment. (RVC Bodley, The Messenger – the Life of Mohammed; see also: Rafiq Zakaria, Muhammad and the Quran) If they were to compare between the treatment meted out by Muhammad (S) and Musa (Moses) (AS) against the pagan Jews, they would find that Muhammad (S) was indeed a Rahmat-ul-lil-Alameen (‘Mercy to the entire universe’): much kinder and gentler to the Jews and Christians than their own prophets.
To protect the nascent Muslim community from the marauding attacks of the mushriqs, the Prophet (S) had to fight dozens of defensive wars. The anti-Muslim zealots won’t tell their faithful that in all those battles in the outskirts of Madinah the total death count was miniscule compared with those killed (3,000) by religious followers of Musa (Moses) (AS) amongst the children of Israel for their idolatry (Exodus, 32:28). (See, also the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Ezekiel.) Similarly, they won’t tell that when Jesus, their lord, returns it would usher in an era of mass slaughter, beginning with the Jews. So much for non-violence in the New Testament!
If in their dictionary Muhammad (S) is depicted as a mass murderer, one can only wonder what epithets would qualify for the acts of Moses (AS), let alone Jesus (AS) — the son of Mary (in his second coming)!
If one were to ask the anti-Muslim zealots about the source of the verses like ‘Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that had known man by lying with him. But all the women, children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves’, they would fancy that these must be part of the Islamic Shariah, and have come from the Qur’an. But the fact is: these genocidal verses are to be found in the Book of Numbers (31: 17–18, KJV), and not in the Qur’an. In the same Bible we find that Prophet Moses (AS) being instructed by God to kill the Medinite. ‘And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.’ (Numbers, 31:10)
As I have explained many times in some of my articles, all the scriptures have their share of violent passages. The Qur’an does not have a monopoly there. As a matter of fact, its share of violent passages is insignificant compared with those of the Bible and if we are to treat the Bible in the same way that these charlatans are doing with the Qur’an, it won’t require too much reading to conclude that the Bible is the most violent religious book. [See this author’s article, ‘Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi: Why a different yardstick for Muslims?’ for a sample of violent and demeaning verses in Christian and Jewish religious books.) If the presence of some violent passages in the Qur’an makes the Prophet of Islam a violent man, then most of the great personalities in the Bible: from Jacob to Moses to David to Jesus were no less violent individuals.
When Christian zealots shield those Biblical violent verses from a comparable critique and yet demand a different set of rules for Muslims, it is intellectual dishonesty. Such a norm is exemplary of the ancient Latin phrase, ‘Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi’, which means, ‘What is allowed to Jovi or Jupiter (or the pagan gods) is not allowed to the ox (or cattle).’
So, to these chauvinist Judeo-Christian crusaders, Zarqawi and ISIS symbolise Islam, but their own David Koresh, Jim Jones, and the Lord’s Resistance Army don’t represent Christianity! With a broad brush, they blame the entire Muslim world for the crimes of the few — the non-state terrorists (who actually have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims) but are mindful of shielding the evil image of their genocidal warlords — from the early Christian crusaders to Bush, Blair and Obama of our time — who killed millions of unarmed civilians, some under false pretexts. (And Trump boasts of going one step further than all his predecessors, if elected! Seemingly, his Judeo-Christian Shariah permits atrocity, war crimes and mass murders. As a keen student of history all my life, I won’t be surprised.)
They won’t tell their mesmerised audience that their Christian hero King Richard, ‘the lion-heart’, had killed 3,000 Muslim prisoners of war in Accra during the third crusade. The Republican candidates are quite vocal in displaying their unfathomed love for Jewish Israel. They won’t tell that on September 3, 1189 when Richard was crowned as the king of England some 3,000 Jews were murdered in an orgy of massacre. The Jews of London were plundered and murdered, their homes and businesses burnt down, and many baptised against their will. The pogrom against the Jews continued in other parts of England for several months.
And as to the Jewish experience living under Hitler’s Germany, probably the least said the better! Nothing of this kind ever happened to Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule. The Islamic Shariah, now a dirty word in the West, actually protected all those religious minorities.
To be continued.
Dr Habib Siddiqui is a peace and rights activist.