The American President’s speech at the Islamic Society of Baltimore mosque on February 3 was yet another exercise in countering the made-up malady of Islamophobia. Credit where credit is due, President Obama puts the case with conviction. Some right-wingers on the fringe think that this comes from him being a covert Muslim. However, it is much more likely – in having a Muslim father and then stepfather – that his view of Islam is drawn from his own personal experiences, which may well have been amiable.
To wit, when it comes to Islam he concocts his own insular narrative. He gives every impression of being blinkered, unread and self-absorbed. Call me a Democrat lackey, if you will, but I like this explanation better than thinking he is practicing taqiyya, like one of those unctuous imams that troll around compliant media outlets. After all, he is the US Commander in Chief. That he would knowingly deceive the American public about his true religious faith during these troubling times is unthinkable. Is it not?
Let me present some evidence of his disengagement from Islam to back my point. First he has no idea what the word ‘Islam’ means.
So let’s start with this fact: For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace. And the very word itself, Islam, comes from Salam — peace.
According to my OED, ‘Islam’ comes from Arab for ‘submission’ through aslama, meaning ‘submit to God’. All of my readings on the subject including, for example, works by Mark Durie and Hirsi Ali, says the same thing. Islam as a word means submission to God’s will. There is nothing bad or controversial about this, so why avoid the truth and say that the word comes from ‘peace’. Is it because Obama wants to ram home the deceptive message that Islam is a religion of peace against all of the evidence of 1400-plus years? Or is it because he is relying on what one of his Muslim relatives or buddies told him? I plump for the latter.
Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy and justice and charity. Whoever wants to enter paradise, the Prophet Muhammad taught, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.” For Christians like myself, I’m assuming that sounds familiar.
Ah, the so-called ‘golden rule’! Love thy neighbor as thyself. Christians do have a familiarity with that as, in various similar forms, do other religions. In Christianity it is never countermanded. It always applies. On the other hand, the Koran and the Hadith provide almost inexhaustible ammunition for those wanting to demonstrate that Islam is anything but neighbourly towards kafirs; that is to say, towards unbelievers. This is disconcerting, though it doesn’t seem to bother Obama. He probably doesn’t know. He just clings to his passage. But where is it?
I searched online and in numbers of books. I could be wrong but the prime place it seems to be is in ‘an-Nawawi’s 40 Hadiths’. Hadith number 13 records Muhammad saying this: “None of you believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” An extract from the longish Hadith number 35 provides context: “Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not hate one another; do not turn away from one another; and do not undercut one another, but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him, he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt.”
Apparently, and unfortunately, it is not ‘people’ in general that Muslims must treat decently, as they themselves would like to be treated, but fellow Muslims. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that excludes Muslim sisters. Of all of this, Obama is blissfully ignorant – that, in any event, is my thesis du jour. I will back it up further with a final quote from Obama’s speech.
…across the Islamic world, influential voices should consistently speak out with an affirmative vision of their faith. And it’s happening. These are the voices of Muslim clerics who teach that Islam prohibits terrorism, for the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.
Where does this Koranic passage come from? It comes from Surah 5.32 and is specifically directed at Jews only, many of whom are admonished in the verse for rejecting Allah. It is quickly followed in verse 33 with a warning that Jews who “make war” on Allah and Muhammad “will be killed or crucified or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled from the land.” Cometh the hour, give me the latter option if I were a Jew. Peaceful this religion ain’t. Anti-Semitic it is.
The Opening Surah is instructive. It is recited as part of each Muslim daily prayer. It ends: “Show us the straight path / The path of those whom Thou has favoured / Not the path of those who earn Thine anger [read Jews] nor of those who go astray [read Christians].” (See Mark Durie, The Third Choice, p 46-47, for a scholarly commentary on this pointed prayer)
That Obama knows nothing of any of this is indicative, you will agree, of him being more dunce than deceiver. If you are not convinced, take note that the mosque at which he talked had reportedly been on an FBI watch list, was responsible for graduating a terrorist who plotted to blow up a military recruiting office, and which was led for a number of years by an imam with links to the Muslim Brotherhood — a cleric who expressed justification for suicide bombings. Surely Obama would not have picked this mosque if he was either a covert Muslim or, as his admirers once insisted, the smartest kid on the block. Would he?
He also mentioned that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams each owned a Koran, as though this were some telling evidence of their respect for Islam? At the time Barbary pirates were operating from Muslim North Africa and creating mayhem — pillaging, killing and enslaving — on the high seas. Anyone but a simpleton could connect those dots. For the president’s edification, Churchill read Mein Kampf. And later, by the way, in The Gathering Storm (1948) compared it with the Koran.
Of course, I feel obliged, in the cause of putting all sides of a question, to present an alternative hypothesis. It is the old double bluff: maybe Obama is pretending to be a simpleton in extolling the virtues of Islam to throw us off the scent? And back we come, full circle, to those disreputable fringe-dwelling right-wingers again.
End note: None of this is important, of course. Even if Obama were a Muslim, what in the world is wrong with belonging to the religion of peace and neighbourliness – particularly as all Europeans of high-caste (i.e., non- dhimmis) will belong to it in a few-plus generations?