Al Qaeda’s English language magazine “Inspire,” in its latest edition, has expressed the jihad terror organization’s outrage over the “Innocents of Muslims” video trailer, an amateurish production, which merely depicted some of the less salutary aspects of the Muslim prophet Muhammad’s biography, based upon the sacralized Islamic sources.
These threatening statements appear on p. 4:
O Muslims, the film produced in America which insults our Messenger Muhammad comes in the chain of the crusade attacks on Islam. In response to these consecutive assaults, the Muslim ummah revolted in honor of their noble Messenger. The plot of the enemies backfired and became a disgrace and shame on them, a penalty for their insults on the status of the Prophets, violation of the sacred lands and trespassing the boundaries of war ethics. Meanwhile, the status of our Messenger remains high and honorable. No insult could ever tarnish him. Whoever hates him is cut off from success and prosperity in this world and the Hereafter… We affirm that defending the honor of the Prophet is an inevitable obligation in Islam upon the Muslim ummah, every individual as per his capability… We call upon our brothers in the West to fulfill their Islamic obligation. They are obliged to defend the Prophet, for they are more capable of crushing the enemy at his heart.
The violent nature of those threats is made explicit in imagery featured on pp. 14-15, entitled, “Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam.” The images (also published here via MEMRI) are accompanied by statements, “Yes We Can,” “A Bullet A Day Keeps the Infidel Away,” and “Defend Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him,” and include photographs of the nine men (complete with misspellings of some of their names, underneath) threatened with death, ostensibly for “blaspheming” Islam’s prophet, and the Muslim creed itself.
Photographs of the two women targeted do not appear on the pp. 14-15 magazine layout; only their names are printed, beneath the photos of the men. The full list of eleven who were made licit for killing, is below:
Geert Wilders: Founder of the Dutch Party for Freedom;
Morris Sadek: Egyptian-American Coptic Christian who disseminated the video “Innocence of Muslims”
Kurt Westergaard: Cartoonist whose drawing of the turban-bomb Muhammad became the most renowned of the cartoons.
Lars Vilks: Dutch cartoonist who published his own Muhammad drawings subsequent to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons
Stephane Charbonnier: Editor of Charlie Hedbo, a French satirical magazine
Terry Jones: Florida preacher who has burned Korans in protest of Islam.
Molly Norris: American cartoonist who proposed “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” as a protest against both censorship and the proscription of published images of Muhammad
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Somali-born Dutch activist and politician;
Predictably, the mainstream media outlets reporting this latest example of Al Qaeda’s so-called “anti-Islamic radicalism” (across the political spectrum, from the rather odious blame the victim Atlantic account, to the factual, if short shrift assessment of The Weekly Standard), failed to connect these threats to an earlier, more egregious action by a prominent Muslim nation: the Egyptian state security court’s November 28, 2012 verdict, which sentenced to death seven expatriate Coptic Egyptians, including Morris Sadek, as well as American pastor Terry Jones, for “blaspheming” Islam—i.e., the same Sadek and Jones targeted subsequently by the Al-Qaeda “Inspire” layout. Egyptian Judge Saif al Nasr Soliman stated plainly when the ruling was issued,
The accused persons were convicted of insulting the Islamic religion through participating in producing and offering a movie that insults Islam and its prophet.
The late November, 2012 Egyptian court verdict re-affirms mainstream, institutional Islam’s Sharia (Islamic law)-based lethal punishment for speech critical of the Muslim creed. More disturbing, however, is the abject failure of contemporary Western media, academic, and political elites to accurately convey that reality—a living, liberty-crushing doctrinal and historical legacy I will elaborate herein.
Arthur Tritton’s pioneering 1930 study of the fate of non-Muslim “dhimmis” vanquished by jihad (as per Koran 9:29; see pp. 217-35), and living under the Sharia, included this brief overview of how blasphemy law was applied to them:
[F]our things put a dhimmi outside the pale of the law; blasphemy of God, His book, His religion, or His Prophet…Shafii [d. 820, founder of the Shafiite school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence] said that one who repented of having insulted the Prophet might be pardoned and restored to his privileges. Ibn Taimiya [d. 1328, a jurist of the Hanbali school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence] taught that the death penalty could not be evaded.
Nearly three decades later (circa 1958), Antoine Fattal (d. 1987), an esteemed Lebanese Law Professor, and Islamic scholar, wrote Le Statut legal des non-Musulmans en pays d’Islam. Fattal’s treatise remains one of the seminal works characterizing what Bat Ye’or subsequently termed, “dhimmitude,” the restrictive, deliberately humiliating socio-political conditions imposed upon non-Muslims within Islamic societies. Extracts from Fattal’s meticulous study (translation by Nidra Poller and Ibn Warraq) of the relevant foundational Islamic texts, and jurisprudence, summarize these classical formulations of the treatment of “blasphemers,” according to the Sharia, confirming Tritton’s 1930 observations.
The Malikites, Shafiites and Hanbalites [three of the 4 main schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence] punished blasphemy against Allah, the Prophets and Angels by death. If the crime is committed by a Muslim, it is equivalent to apostasy; by a dhimmi it is a violation of the dhimma contract [of submission]. According to the Hanafites [the fourth major school of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence], the punishment of a dhimmi guilty of blasphemy is left to the discretion of the judge. In cases of extreme gravity, the sentence might be capital punishment. In fact it is the latter punishment that was most often applied. [emphasis added]
Fattal then provides prototypical examples of how Islamic blasphemy law affected non-Muslims in practice, consistent with the oppressive doctrine:
A Jewish man, passing near a muezzin who was chanting the call to prayer, cried out: “You have lied.” He was condemned to death… An Egyptian Christian cursed the Prophet; the cadi [Muslim judge] al Muffaddal b. Fudala (in office from 168 to 170 A.H. = 784 to 786 C.E.) consulted Malik b. Anas [founder of the Malikite school] to ask what punishment should be meted out. The latter declared the death penalty, and the Christian was executed. Under the reign of [al-] Ma’mun (198/218 A.H.= 813/833 C.E.), a Jew was put to death for having called the Prophet an imposter… In 335 A.H.=946 C.E., insulting inscriptions against the Prophet were discovered in a Cairo synagogue. The Hanafite cadi had several Jews arrested and tortured until they confessed. They died by hanging except for one who converted to Islam.
Two contemporary studies, a collaborative work, Freedom of Religion, Apostasy, and Islam, written by Abdullah and Hassan Saeed, and Muhammad Hashim Kamali’s Freedom of Expression in Islam, provide independent confirmation of the earlier findings of Tritton and Fattal, from the perspective of “modernist” Sunni Muslim scholars. Kamran Hashemi’s 2008 study contains a summary assessment of Shiite jurisprudence on blasphemy, highlighting the views of a much lionized Iranian Shiite “reformist.”
Abdullah and Hassan Saeed include this succinct appraisal of the development of blasphemy law in Islam, and its intimate relationship to Islamic supremacism:
During the time of the Prophet, some Muslims reportedly killed a number of non-Muslims who reviled the Prophet, God, or Islam and thus apparently committed the offense of blasphemy. Some of those killed, such as the poet Kaab b. al-Ashraf, composed poems denigrating the person of the Prophet and also incited others to revile him. In other cases abuse was perpetrated through fabricated stories about the Prophet, or through verbal attacks on Islam and the Muslim community. Several reports in the hadith literature indicate that when such people were killed, the Prophet declared their blood was spilt in vain. [Meaning] No compensation or punishment was imposed in relation to those who killed such people, as in the case of war, where a Muslim is permitted to kill another person from enemy ranks without being subject to retaliation, payment of blood money or to any form of punishment. It seems that by using foul language against the Prophet, God, or Islam, the transgressors were putting themselves on a war footing against Muslims. [emphasis added]
…This “offense” was constructed and legitimated by Muslim jurists in the post-prophetic period. They based this on their understanding of reports in the hadith literature at a time when Islam was politically, militarily and economically strong. It held sway over vast territories from North Africa, the Iberian peninsula, to China. Non-Muslims living in these territories acknowledged the political supremacy of Islam and Muslim peoples. As “protected minorities” (ahl al-dhimmah) [i.e., non-Muslim minorities abiding their humiliating subservience were “protected” against the resumption of the jihad against them], it was expected that the non-Muslims under Islamic rule would not denigrate the religion of Islam, nor cast aspersions on its major figures or institutions. The jurists saw any such denigration as a hostile act, not to be tolerated. [emphases added]
Thus, largely from relevant reports in the hadith literature, Muslim jurists have argued that reviling the Prophet, or God, or Islam and using foul language in relation to any of them constitutes a serious offenses: blasphemy. Later, this offense was extended to cover using foul language against the Companions of the Prophet…As the Prophet is not in a position to avenge this abuse, it is seen to be responsibility of the Muslim community to seek vengeance on his behalf by imposing the death penalty on the offender.
Kamali’s Freedom of Expression in Islam characterizes these salient features of non-Muslim blasphemy (repeating an example cited by Fattal in his 1958 treatise):
When a non-Muslim says something which, although part of his belief, is said in offensive manner. An example of this is the incident which occurred after the call to prayer, when a Jew addressed the muezzin with the words, “you lied.” The case here is similar to any involving a non-Muslim scorning an article of the Muslim faith or any of the injunctions of God that are contained in the Qur’an. In this case, if the non-Muslim is a dhimmi, he loses his protected status and becomes liable to punishment.
Kamali acknowledges the draconian, if concordant views of the two most comprehensive Islamic legal analyses of blasphemy by Qadi Iyad al-Yahsabi (d. 1149, a Maliki jurist), and Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328). He also discusses the classical Muslim legists opinions on “repentance” of the blasphemer, and the notion that a “blasphemer” was consigned to the status of those at war with the Muslims.
The most detailed treatment of blasphemy in the works of the ulama [religious scholars] remains that of Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) “al-Sarim al-Maslul ‘ala Shatim ar-Rasul” [“The Drawn Sword against those who insult the Messenger”] where the distinguished author has addressed, inter alia, the punishment of apostasy and the Qur’anic evidence relating to it. While giving a thorough presentation of the diverse opinions on the subject, Ibn Taymiyyah himself has consistently maintained that blasphemy is liable to the mandatory death penalty; that the sentencing judge has little choice but to enforce the punishment upon proof, and the offender need not be asked to repent.
[T]he Maliki jurist Qadi Iyad al-Yahsabi (d. 1149), who preceded Ibn Taymiyyah, has written a treatise on the same subject and places equal, if not greater, emphasis on the same conclusions Ibn Taymiyyah has drawn. Qadi Iyad’s work, entitled “Al-shifa bi Ta’rif Huquq al-Mustafa” (“Healing by the Recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One”), addresses the rights of the Prophet in general, and devotes large sections to the matter of blasphemy, In a chapter devoted to the textual authority of the Qur’an in support of the death penalty for one who vilifies the Prophet, Qadi Iyad has discussed the same passages of the Qur’an as Ibn Taymiyyah and the two authors have drawn identical conclusions.
Imams al-Shafii and Ahmad b. Hanbal, according to one of two reports, maintained that the dhimmi may not be asked to repent, but if he converts to Islam at his own initiative, he is not liable to any punishment. According to a variant report, Imam Malik and Ahmad b. Hanbal have held that the dhimmi is liable to the mandatory death penalty…In yet another report, Imam al-Shafii is said to have held that the protected status of the dhimmi terminates when he commits blasphemy and that, consequently, he becomes an enemy of war (harbi), in which case the head of state is within his rights to punish him as such. Imam al-Shafii adds that in this matter the head of state has discretionary powers similar to those he has with regard to prisoners of war, that is, over whether to kill the offender or ask for ransom, and over whether or not to expropriate his property.
Kamali concludes his analysis of blasphemy with these measured, if ambiguous words:
My enquiry has also led me to the conclusion that blasphemy carries a taʻzir punishment [i.e., punishment determined by Islamic authorities], which is open to a measure of discretion and the influence of circumstantial factors. Based on this appraisal, the precise definition of blasphemy, the acts and words that incur this offense, and then the quantum of the punishment, may be determined and specified, or amended and refined as the case may be, by the legitimate political authority and legislative organ of the state in modern times.
However, in a case study Appendix entitled, “The Salman Rushdie Affair,” Kamali reveals his Sharia supremacist conceptions quite unambiguously. Kamali recounts how on February 19, 1989 Iranian theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa condemning Rushdie to death, and promising eternal salvation to any Muslim “martyred” in this cause:
…[T]he author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses, which abuses Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, and all those involved in its publication who were aware of its contents, are sentenced to death. I ask the Muslims of the world at large to swiftly execute the writers and the publishers, wherever they find them, so that no one in the future will dare to abuse Islam. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded as a martyr, God willing.
Analyzing subsequent pronouncements from Al Azhar University’s leading clerics (the Chairman of the Fatwa Committee, the Rector, and the Grand Mufti), as well as Saudi Arabia’s most prominent ulama chairing the 11th session of the Islamic Law Academy of the Muslim World League in Mecca (held February 10-26, 1989), Kamali observes,
[T]hose who were exposed to media coverage of the whole episode would know that no serious Muslim commentator has challenged the basic validity of the Ayatollah’s fatwa. [emphasis added] Adjudication was generally viewed to be necessary if only to find out if Rushdie was willing to repent.
Kamali further cites the opinions of Alauddin Kharufah, another leading Saudi cleric, who wrote the authoritative, eponymous book, The judgment of Islam on the crime of Salman Rushdie: death sentence still in force. Kharufah insisted that barring Rushdie’s unequivocal repentance, which had to include never re-publishing The Satanic Verses, and withdrawing existing copies of the book from the marketplace, Rushdie should fear for his life, because it remained obligatory for Muslims “to reach him so long as he is still alive and never to neglect this duty.”
The views of Kamali, who, since 1985, has taught Sharia and jurisprudence, as a professor of law at the International Islamic University of Malaysia, are in the end, no less strident. Kamali introduces his Appendix on the Rushdie affair by opining that the author’s discourse was an uncivilized outrage, and concludes by rejecting Rushdie’s professions of contrition, and condemning him to a “binding decision” under Sharia jurisdiction:
Initially, I had directly quoted some of the blasphemous contents of Rushdie’s novel concerning the Prophet himself, his wives, and Companions, but decided, upon revision, to report only indirectly those outrageous expressions. His contemptuous remarks about God and the Qur’an on pp. 363-64 are not only blasphemous but also flippant. To describe the Qur’an, for example as “a hotch-potch of trivial rules” (p. 363), smacks of ignorance about the Qur’an and the profound contribution it has made to civilization. Rushdie’s inflammatory aspersions on the Prophet in page 366, and the gratuitously indecent language he uses in reference to the wives of the Prophet, the “mothers of the believers,” on pages 381-82, are simply too outrageous, and far below the standard of civilized discourse.
Rushdie’s statements fall short of a categorical renunciation of the blasphemous content of his novel. The persistent ambivalence in Rushdie’s statements and the contrast between his words and his conduct, is bound to be reflected in any attempt at evaluating the case. Professing the testimonial of faith is an interesting development but it could only produce the anticipated consequence when Rushdie explicitly repents, stops defending and justifying his blasphemous publication and indicates his intentions to that effect. What weight a merely verbal proclamation can carry in absolving Rushdie of the charge of blasphemy against the backdrop of his persistent defense of the book, whether for financial gain or a moral claim to righteousness, needs to be determined (if only on grounds of procedural propriety) by a competent judicial tribunal. The court that adjudicates this case must exercise full judicial authority and be able to make a binding decision. It is one thing for Rushdie to make statements in the knowledge that he does not have to comply with a binding order, and quite another when he knows that he would have to face the consequences of his conduct.
Finally, Kamran Hashemi’s 2008 assessment of Shiite jurisprudence on blasphemy (“sabb’) offers context to Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, and the targeted murders it has wrought (which included a mass killing in Turkey). But perhaps most illuminating is the opinion on blasphemy Hashemi quotes from a supposedly enlightened avatar of Shiite modernism, the late Ayatollah Montazeri (d. 2009), whom some extolled as the “patron saint” of Iran’s 2009 Green Movement.
[A]ccording to the majority of Shiite jurists, in cases of sabb [blasphemy], instant punishment [i.e., killing] of the offender, either Muslim or non-Muslim, is not only permissible, but also a religious obligation for any Muslim who realizes the offense, or any who comes to know about it. In this sense, as soon as the offense takes place, the offender must be killed immediately by any one who does not fear for his own life to be endangered.
There is consensus among contemporary Shiite jurists on the instant punishment of an offender in cases of sabb. For example, in response to a question Ayatollah Montazeri [d. 2009] makes a reference to this issue: “In cases of sabb al-Nabi [Muhammad]…if the witness does not have fear of his or her life and also there is no fear of mischief [mafsadeh] it is obligatory for him or her to kill the insulter.” [emphasis added]
Months before Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine “death list” was published, violent Muslim reactions to the amateurish “Innocence of Muslims” video, which, as noted above, simply highlighted the darker aspects of Muhammad’s sacralized biography, exposed how international and domestic Islamic agendas have openly converged with vehement calls for universal application of Islamic blasphemy law. This demand to abrogate Western freedom of expression was reiterated in a parade of speeches by Muslim leaders at the UN General Assembly. During his own speech to the UN General Assembly Tuesday, 9/25/12) President Obama himself ominously proclaimed,
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
Mr. Obama thus declared himself as an accomplice—witless, or cynically willing—to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s relentless campaign to impose universal Sharia-compliant blasphemy law, and the destruction of America’s bedrock freedom, freedom of speech.
The US Muslim community echoed such admonitions, for example during a large demonstration in Dearborn, Michigan, and in a press release by the Islamic Circle of North America. And the results of polling data collected by Wenzel Strategies during October 22 to 26, 2012, from 600 US Muslims, further indicate widespread support among American votaries of Islam for this fundamental rejection of freedom expression, as guaranteed under the US Constitution. The first amendment states, plainly,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
When asked, “Do you believe that criticism of Islam or Muhammad should be permitted under the Constitution’s First Amendment?, 58% replied “no,” while only 42% affirmed this most basic manifestation of freedom of speech, i.e., to criticize religious, or any other dogma. Indeed, oblivious to US constitutional law, as opposed to Islam’s Sharia, a largely concordant 45% of respondents agreed “…that those who criticize or parody Islam in the U.S. should face criminal charges,” while 38% did not, and 17% were “unsure”. Moreover, fully 12% of this Muslim sample even admitted they believed in application of the draconian, Sharia-based punishment for the non-existent crime of “blasphemy” in the US code, answering affirmatively, “…that Americans who criticize or parody Islam should be put to death.”
Why is Sharia-compliant abnegation of free speech—diametrically opposed to US Constitutional law—so prevalent among US Muslims? The inescapable conclusion is that mainstream institutional Islam within the US inculcates this liberty-crushing mentality.
Consider AMJA, the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America. AMJA’s mission statement maintains the organization was, “…founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America…AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities…” With regard to the Sharia, specifically, AMJA’s stated purpose is to “clarify the rulings of the sharia which are relevant for those who live in America.” AMJA is well-accepted by the mainstream American Muslim community. The Islamic scholars affiliated with this group have attained influential positions in universities, Islamic centers, and mosques throughout the United States. Translating Jihad compiled a list of some of their prominent members, including the names of universities and other organizations with which they’re affiliated, accessed from AMJA’s website:
- Mohammad Naeem AlSaei, University of Texas, American Open University (AOU) (Virginia)
- Waleed Basyouni, North American Imam Federation (NAIF) (Arizona), Texas Dawah Convention, AlMaghrib Institute (Texas)
- Hatem AlHaj, Sharia Academy of America (Florida), Albert Lea Medical Center (Minnesota), NAIF, Islamic Jurisprudence Council of Minnesota
- Waleed Al-Maneese, Dar-al-Farooq Islamic Center (Minnesota), University of Minnesota, AOU, NAIF
- Muwaffak Al Ghaylany, Islamic Center in Grand Blank City (Minnesota), Shari`a Academy in America (Florida), NAIF
- Main Al-Qudah, MAS Katy Center (Texas), AOU, Islamic American University (Minnesota), Al-Yarmook University (Iraq)
- Salah Alsawy, Institute of Arabic and Islamic Sciences (Virginia), AOU, Sharia Academy (Florida), Al-Azhar University (Egypt), Umm Al Qura University (Saudi Arabia)
- Muhammad Adam Alsheikh, Al Rahmah Mosque (Maryland), Sudanese courts. Alsheikh, Al Rahmah Mosque (Maryland), Sudanese courts.
Notwithstanding this mainstream acceptance by the American Muslim community, including uncritical endorsement of its annual American conferences to train American imams, AMJA’s own words make plain the organization’s long term commitment to superseding the US legal code with its antithesis, a Sharia-based system.
…provides guidelines for American Muslims on what they can and cannot do vis-à-vis infidel legal systems. The paper makes clear that according to Islam, the only legitimate law is that which comes from Allah, and in fact authority to make laws rests with Allah alone. This renders every other legal system—including the American system—illegitimate.
AMJA’s 2007 paper acknowledges the existence of many Muslims under “infidel” legal systems, and invoking the Islamic doctrine of darura—necessity—the paper provides guidelines describing how they should behave under these systems. Translating Jihad notes,
…specifically addressing issues such as Muslims studying man-made law (i.e. non-Islamic law), Muslims governing under infidel legal systems, Muslims working as judges or lawyers or prosecuting cases in infidel courts, and Muslims granting powers of attorney to non-Muslims in disputes. Throughout the paper it is made abundantly clear that Muslims should view the American and other non-Muslim legal systems as infidel systems, and that they are only to participate in them in specific circumstances in order to benefit Islam and Muslims generally. They are specifically instructed to feel hatred in their hearts toward such infidel legal systems, and to do everything within their power to make the Islamic Shari’a supreme, even if that means engaging in deception in certain cases.
Salah al-Sawy, who obtained both bachelors and doctoral degrees in Islamic Law at Al-Azhar University, is identified as Secretary General for AMJA, and a senior scholar for the organization. Dr. Hatem al-Haj, a pediatrician, who also obtained a PhD in Comparative Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from Al-Jinan University, Lebanon, is a senior member of the Fatwa Committee for AMJA. Should AMJA accomplish its goal of implementing Sharia in North America, the organization has already issued rulings which sanction the killing of Muslim apostates and non-Muslim “blasphemers”, courtesy of al-Haj, and al-Sawy, respectively.
(Dr. Hatem al-Haj, 4/17/2006)—As for the Sharia ruling, it is the punishment of killing for the man with the grand Four Fiqh Sharia scholars, and the same with the woman with the major Shari’ah scholars, and she is jailed with Al-Hanafiyyah scholars, as the prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, said: “Whoever a Muslim changes his/her religion, kill him/her,” and his saying: “A Muslim’s blood, who testifies that there is no god except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not made permissible except by three reasons: the life for the life; the married adulterer and the that who abandons his/her religion.”
(Dr. Salah Al-Sawy, 1/21/2009)—[F]or those scholars who say that repentance of a person who insults Allaah or His Messenger shall not accepted, [they] mean that repentance does not lift up the set punishment for cursing and insulting the Prophet, i.e., execution. Because the Prophet is the one who was actually wronged and insulted and he is no longer alive, therefore, he is not alive to practice his right to forgive him [the blasphemer] for what he did. Also, no Muslim is ever is entitled or authorized to forgive on the Prophet’s behalf.
The burning desire to impose Sharia blasphemy law—which mandates the killing of those exercising free speech critical of Islam—is hardly limited to Al Qaeda. Mainstream, institutional Islam, including the creed’s mainstream religious organizational representatives in America, share the same totalitarian goal of destroying our nation’s—and Western civilization’s—bedrock liberty, freedom of speech.