Saturday, September 29, 2007

In Their Own Words: Islamists and Intellectual Freedom

Radical Islamism, in both its Sunni and Shia variations, poses a far greater threat to intellectual freedom than any portion of the Patriot Act or any Harry Potter hating parent.

No, Islamists are not the only ones who use violence and intimidation as tools of censorship. However, there are two factors that make radical Islamism such a unique and comprehensive threat to intellectual freedom. One is the movement's global scope. A major factor in facilitating the spread of extremist ideology in the Muslim world has been the ability of Islamists to silence moderate and reformist Muslims. Even in Europe and the United States, just the threat of Islamist violence has had a chilling effect on public discussion of issues related to Islam.

The second factor lies in Islamist ideology. Many governments and political movements seek to censor critics as part of their drive to acquire or retain power. Radical Islamism's war on intellectual freedom, however, transcends such purely practical considerations. Islamists ban "un-Islamic" views, writing, art, and other forms of expression in order to fulfill an ideological and religious imperative; it is an integral part of their campaign to ultimately impose their totalitarian vision of Islamic Sharia law throughout the world.

Nothing makes Islamism's threat to intellectual freedom clearer than reading the words of its ideologues and adherents:

1. Intellectual Freedom under Islamism

For example, as soon as the Ummah of Islam seizes state power, it will outlaw all forms of business transacted on the basis of usury or interest; it will not permit gambling; it will curb all forms of business and financial dealings which contravene Islamic Law; it will shut down all brothels and other dens of vice; it will make it obligatory for non-Muslim women to observe the minimum standards of modesty in dress as required by Islamic Law, and forbid them to go about displaying their beauty as in the Days of Ignorance; it will impose censorship on the film industry. With a view to ensuring the general welfare of the public and for reasons of self defence, the Islamic government will not permit such cultural activities as may be permissible in non-Muslim systems but which Islam regards as detrimental and even fatal to moral fibre.

Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, Jihad in Islam, quoted in Michael A. Palmer, The Last Crusade: Americanism and the Islamic Reformation, Potomac Books, Washington, D.C., 2007, p. 186-7.

The Western ways of thought and all the sciences started on the foundation of these poisonous influences with an enmity toward all religion, and in particular with greater hostility toward Islam. This enmity toward Islam is especially pronounced and many times is the result of a well-thought-out scheme, the object of which is first to shake the foundations of Islamic beliefs and then gradually to demolish the structure of Muslim society.

If, in spite of knowing this, we rely on Western ways of thought, even in teaching the Islamic sciences, it will be an unforgiveable blindness on our part. Indeed, it becomes incumbent on us, while learning purely scientific or technological subjects for which we have no other sources except Western sources, to remain on guard and keep these sciences away from philosophical speculations, as these philosophical speculations are generally against religion and in particular against Islam. A slight influence from them can pollute the clear spring of Islam.

Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, 1964.

...An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, August 1979, quoted in Amir Taheri, The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, Adler & Adler, 1986, p.259.

Radio and television are allowed if they are used for the broadcasting of news or sermons, for the spreading of good educational material for publicizing the products and curiosities of the planet; but they must prohibit singing, music, anti-Islamic laws, the lauding of tyrants, mendacious words, and broadcasts which spread doubt and undermine virtue.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Sayings of the Ayatollah Khomeini: Political, Philosophical, Social, and Religious. Bantam, 1980.

2. Murdering Apostates and Blasphemers

...There is only one God, to whom we shall all return. I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book 'The Satanic Verses', which has been compiled, printed and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet and the koran, as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, have been sentenced to death.

I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may find them, so that no one will dare to insult the Muslim sanctions. Whoever is killed on this path will be regarded a martyr, God willing.

In Addition, anyone who has access to the author of the book, but does not have the power to execute him, should refer him to the people so that he may be punished for his actions. May God's blessing be on you all. Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini.'

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, quoted in "War of the Word", The Observer, February 19, 1989.

...Before Mahfouz's stabbing, a journalist had interviewed Rahman about another matter entirely, Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Rahman told Weaver he told the reporter that if "we had punished Naguib Mahfouz for what he wrote in Children of Gebelaawi," Rushdie would "never have dared to write that book."

Weaver asked, "How should Mahfouz have been punished?" Rahman explained that Mahfouz would be brought before a committee of religious scholars who would judge whether his novel had abandoned Islamic beliefs. Mahfouz could have presented a defense. If the scholars judged him guilty, he would be given a chance to repent.

"And if he doesn't?"

"Then he will be executed."

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, quoted in Lorraine Anderson, "Terrorism and the English Language", Washington Monthly, September 2002. Republished on Alternet.

"I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet."

Mohammed Bouyeri, murderer of Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh, quoted in “Van Gogh Killer Jailed for Life”, The Times, London, July 26, 2005.

"If any Muslim had carried out the fatwa of Imam Khomeini against the apostate Salman Rushdie, those despicable people would not have dared to insult the Prophet Muhammad - not in Denmark, not in Norway, and not in France.

"What is this solidarity campaign all about? We are supposed to summon the ambassador, and that's it? We are supposed to boycott Danish goods, and that's it? No. I call upon the Muslim jurisprudents, the Muslim religious scholars, the leaders of the Islamic movements, the leaders of the Islamic countries, and all the Muslims to take a decisive stand. If we tolerate this now, only God knows what they will do later - just like the tolerance practiced with Salman Rushdie, and the carrying out of the fatwa.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, "Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah: Implementing Khomeini's Fatwa against Salman Rushdie Would Have Prevented Current Insults to Prophet Muhammad; Great French Philosopher Garaudy Proved Holocaust a Myth", Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), February 7, 2006.

"To the entire Islamic nation...: This speech comes to further urge you and prompt you to [come to] the aid of the Prophet and punish those responsible for the vile crime being committed by some journalists from amongst the Crusaders and the apostate heretics, who have insulted the Prophet Muhammad…

"Imam Ahmad [3] said: 'Whoever reviles the Prophet or belittles him, be he Muslim or infidel, should be killed.' The freethinkers and heretics who defame Islam, and mock and scorn our noble Prophet - their case and the law concerning them have been clearly expounded by Imam Ibn Qayyim [Al-Jawziyya]. [4] He made it clear that the crime committed by a freethinker is the worst of crimes, that the damage caused by his staying alive among the Muslims is of the worst kind of damage, that he is to be killed, and that his repentance is not to be accepted...

"Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said, commenting on [Koran 9:12]: 'Whoever defames our religion is a leader of disbelief.' Many are the leaders of disbelief in our days in the lands of Islam, and many are the followers of Ka'b ibn Al-Ashraf in the Arabian Peninsula. [5] Many of them are writers in newspapers, and many of them are actors and broadcasters in the media. We warn here that a Muslim is not allowed to listen to any program that includes discussion with heretics, or any show that makes fun of Islam and of religious Muslims, for this is one of the greatest sins.

Osama bin Laden, "Arab Reformists Under Threat by Islamists: Bin Laden Urges Killing of ‘Freethinkers’", Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), May 3, 2006.

Such a person is an apostate in view of his confessions, if he is a Muslim. If he had been an unbeliever (Kafir), he is considered as someone who has insulted the Prophet and in any case, given his confessions, it is necessary for every individual who has an access to him to kill him. The person in charge of the said newspaper, who published such thoughts and beliefs consciously and knowingly, should be dealt with in the same manner. We pray to Almighty Allah to grant Muslims and Islam protection from the evils of their enemies.

Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Fazel Lankarani, "Death ruling for the insulters of Holy Prophet (pbuh) in Senat newspaper", November 11, 2006.

"Is this your civilization? This old, decrepit government of England should know that the days of its imperialistic aspirations are gone, and today it is considered America's branded slave. They must also know that the wave of Islamic revival in the world has begun, whether they like it or not. Under these circumstances, awarding England's highest honor to a wretched man, who lacks any talent whatsoever... He is not considered a prominent novelist or author. They awarded him this medal only because he cursed the Prophet. Under these circumstances, awarding a medal to such a man entails a conflict with one and a half billion Muslims throughout the world, and you will gain nothing from this. The one thing that will happen is that you will see the Islamic world roaring together. In Islamic Iran, this revolutionary fatwa of Imam Khomeini still exists. It is unchangeable and with God's grace, it must be carried out."

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, “Ahmad Khatami From the Iranian Assembly of Experts in a Tehran Friday Sermon: Fatwa Against Rushdie Must Be Carried Out, Fatah Staged a Coup d'Etat Against Hamas”, Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), June 27, 2007.


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