Manchild in Cairo

Manchild Obama: Insistent that no one see Islam as it actually is


When the Manchild US President Barack Obama gave his address this past Thursday (June 4, 2009)  in Cairo he first thanked as one of his primary sponsors Al Azhar University, in the Manchild’s words, “a beacon of Islamic learning,” for over a millennium.


Indeed, for over a thousand years, since its founding in 792 C.E., Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, has served as the academic shrine—much as Mecca is the religious shrine—of the global Muslim community.  Al Azhar University (and its mosque) represent the pinnacle of Islamic religious education.


John Roy Carlson traveled to the Middle East shortly after WWII to pursue his investigative reporting on Fascist/Nazi movements—he had gone undercover in the US to expose domestic Nazism during the war, and the trail lead him overseas following the war. Egypt became a major sanctuary for Nazis by the mid-1950s under Nasser, but almost a decade earlier Carlson documented widespread Nazi sympathy coupled to Islamic religious fanaticism at Al Azhar itself. Carlson provided this apt description (in his book “Cairo to Damascus”) of Al Azhar’s “tradition”—“Every year Al Azhar graduated hundreds of missionaries who preached its fanatic doctrine throughout Asia, Africa, and the islands of the Pacific…” He goes on to comment, “…though Muhammad [the Muslim prophet] died in 632, I found that Al Azhar his preachments were considered fresh and applicable today—with absolutely no modifications.” Carlson then describes his meeting with rector of Al Azhar University Sheikh Shinawi, who preached Jihad—Holy War—against Zionism, and was a friend of the Jihadist, Nazi collaborating ex-Mufti of Jerusalem and Godfather of the Palestinian movement, Hajj Amin el-Husseini, who also found sanctuary in Cairo after WWII.


Fast forward to the current era, and hear the plea (published July 10, 2004) of an Egyptian sociologist Sayyed al-Qimni lamenting the fact that classical Islamic jurisprudence—jihad war and the brutal subjugation of infidels under dehumanizing Shari’a, Islamic law—is still being taught at Al Azhar. “What kind of thinking are we teaching our next generation, that it has the right to attack other countries in order to convert them to Islam?…And we wonder where terror comes from?”


Also, at present, the continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of Antisemitic motifs from the Koran (and other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings, and statements of Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi—Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution since 1996. Tantawi’s case illustrates the prevalence and depth of sacralized, “normative” Jew hatred in the contemporary Muslim world. Arguably Islam’s leading mainstream cleric, Grand Imam Sheikh Tantawi, embodies how the living legacy of Muslim anti-Jewish hatred, and violence remains firmly rooted in mainstream, orthodox  Islamic teachings, not some aberrant vision of “radical Islam.”  


My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first time English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus. Tantawi wrote these words in his 700 page treatise, rationalizing Muslim Jew hatred:


[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], [and see Sheikh Saqr’s Koranic citations, above] corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness…only a minority of the Jews keep their word…[A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.


Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in 1996, a position he still holds. These are the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope—the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 85 to 90% of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi has not mollified such hatemongering beliefs since becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear.


Sheikh Tantawi, in addition. called for a jihad against US troops in Iraq during early April, 2003, He encouraged volunteers from Arab and Islamic countries to go to Iraq, stating,  “The American aggression against Iraq is not acceptable to Islamic law, and to the [Shari’a] law; The Iraqi people must defend itself, its land, and its homeland with all means of defense at its disposal, because it is a Jihad that is permitted by Islamic law. Jihad is an obligation for every Muslim when Muslim countries are subject to aggression. The gates of Jihad are open until the Day of Judgment, and he who denies this is an infidel or one who abandons his religion. This is an obligation applying to the nation now, in order to respond to the aggression.



Also, contra the Manchild’s glib, factually-challenged assertions about the so-called “contributions” of Islam to science, as Tulane University Physics Professor Frank Tipler notes,


Almost every advance he [Obama] attributes to the Muslims was due to someone else. The non-Muslim Chinese invented the magnetic compass and printing (Gutenberg invented not printing, but movable type). The non-Muslim Hindu Indians invented algebra and the decimal numbering system. The non-Muslim European Christians invented the university…I have studied the history of astronomy and physics. The Muslims contributed nothing. All modern physics descends from Galileo (1564 -1642); all modern astronomy from Copernicus (1473-1543).  If you study Galileo’s works carefully, as I have, you see that he started with the achievements of the Greek mathematical physicist Archimedes of Syracuse (c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC).  If you study Copernicus’ works carefully, as I have, you will see that Copernicus’ great book On the Revolutions is essentially a heliocentric re-working of the geocentric astronomy textbook by the Greek Ptolemy (c. 90 AD – 168 AD). Copernicus mostly used even Ptolemy’s data for the positions of the planets. Note the dates for Archimedes/Galileo and Ptolemy/ Copernicus. It is as if the Muslim world never existed. As far as their fundamental contributions to physics and astronomy, it did not. If one reads history of science textbooks prior to about 1980, one will find very little mention of Muslim “contributions” to physics and astronomy. This is reasonable, because there weren’t any.  In the past generation, however, political correctness has dictated that Muslims be given credit for discoveries they did not make.


Finally, contra Manchild Obama’s hagiography, here is a clear, accurate assessment by the celebrated Indian non-fiction writer Dr. Arun Shourie (from his, “The World of Fatwas—Or the Shariah in Action,” New Delhi. India, 1995) evaluating the “contributions” of mainstream, orthodox Islam to “scientific” thinking, and “tolerant” attitudes toward women, and non-Muslims:


The earth is stationary. The sun revolves around it. The stars are stationary, hung as lamps by Allah to guide travelers, and to stone the Devil. To believe anything contrary is to betray The Faith. Men are the masters. Each may keep up to four wives at a time, and as many concubines “as the right hand holds.” The wives are fields which the husband may or may not “irrigate” as he will. The husband can bind them to obeying his merest whim on pain of being divorced. If he is still not satisfied, he can throw them out with one word. Upon being thrown out they are to be entitled to bare sustenance—but only for three months, and nothing at all beyond that. To see any iniquity in this, to demand anything more for the women is to question the wisdom of Allah, it is to strike at Islam. To urinate while standing, to fail to to do istinja (“purifying” oneself after urinating or defecating) in the prescribed way, to fail to believe that the saliva of a dog is napaak (najis; unclean/impure) and his body paak (pure)—these are grave sins. To ask for the well-being of a Kafir (infidel), be he ever so saintly, even upon his death, to fail to believe that a Muslim, be he ever so sinful, is better than a Kafir, be the latter ever so virtuous, is kufr (disbelief) itself.


And Shourie offers these concluding insights:


On the one hand, we have the claim that no religion has given as high a status to women, no religion has done as much for their liberation and well-being as Islam. And on the other we are given expositions on how the permission for a Muslim male to keep as many slave-women as he can afford, on how the permission for him to bed them without marrying them actually rules to the benefit of women.


…We are told day and day out that Islam is the one religion that embraces technology and change. On the other hand…there is the most vehement denunciation of innovation, of thinking for oneself, there is…the premise that the glory of Islam consists in having Science bend to it, that the duty of Muslim thinkers is to ensure that whenever it departs from the notions which Islamic thinkers, in particular the Prophet had put forth 1350 years ago, it retraces its steps and accepts the Islamic notions. We are reminded day in and day out of the achievements of Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Al Ghazzali. But we are not told why there has been so little Science in the Islamic world since Avicenna. Nor are we told that the one achievement of Al Ghazzali which has lasted is that he killed off all independent, rational inquiry within Islam—especially about Islam itself.


The Ulema (Muslim clerical hierarchy) do not see the schizophrenia. The lay Muslim knows be better not see it. The secularist insists that no one else see it.


The Manchild Obama’s bowdlerized pieties—despite his now much ballyhooed “Islamic roots”—make plain he too is insistent that no one else see Islam as it actually is.

2 responses to “Manchild in Cairo