Monday, July 18, 2011

Caution: 'Islamophobic' Post . . .

Slave Market in Zadib, Yemen (13th Century)
Artist: al-Wâsitî
In al-Harîrî, Maqâmât
Manuscrit arabe 5847, fol. 105, Maqâma 34:
al-Hârith au marché aux esclaves, Bibliothèque nationale de France
(Image from Wikipedia)

Two years ago, in a comment to one of my posts on Islamism, I happened to post a remark on the decline of Judaism and Christianity under Islam:
Islam has traditionally 'tolerated' Christians and Jews, but the pressure of being restricted in the practice of Christianity and Judaism and of being restricted in their rights as non-Muslims -- along with the 'infidel tax', various humiliations, and the occasional massacre -- led to the demise of Christian and Jewish communities over time.
A certain 'Maria of Spain' recently took umbrage:
Mr Hodges says <>, which is, simply, not true. There are millions of Christians in the Middle East, some of the oldest Christian communities. Occasional persecutions and massacres have occurred, of course, but there have been no "demise" (except for the Jews, who after the creation of the state of Israel went to live there). As for the restrictions in religious practice, non-Muslims were forbidden to practice proselytism, and had to pay a special tax (at least here, in Spain, during the Middle Ages). These has been thus for centuries, until our own times when intolerance and violence are getting extreme, in part thanks to "scholars" like Mr. Hodges, who spread misinformation and hatred under the appearance of "scholar knowledge."
I had no idea that I was so influential, but I'm not sure what my terrible words specifically were since 'Maria' left those angular brackets blank, perhaps having neglected to preview before publishing (and also not even checking what she'd published). I responded anyway:
Maria states:
"Mr Hodges says <>, which is, simply, not true."
Something was left out, so I don't know what you're objecting to.

Anyway, there has been a radical decline in the numbers of Christians in Muslim lands, and the consequent likelihood of its demise. I'm surprised that you would insist on the contrary.

The restrictions were not limited to what you state. Christians were also forbidden to rebuild churches that had fallen into disrepair.

And we haven't even mentioned the original Muslim conquest.

In your view, however, everything was fine "until our own times when intolerance and violence are getting extreme, in part thanks to 'scholars' like Mr. Hodges, who spread misinformation and hatred under the appearance of 'scholar[ly] knowledge.'"

I have no idea what misinformation and hatred you are referring to in my post that would have driven Islamists to their radicalism. Please be specific when you make such claims, and give examples.
Since 'Maria' was so unforthcoming in examples of my habit of spreading "misinformation and hatred," I suppose that I'll just have to supply my own. I have, of course, recently posted several blog entries criticizing Islamists for defending the enslavement of prisoners of war -- for example, Salwa al-Mutairi and Abu-Ishaq al-Huwaini -- particularly of non-Muslim women taken prisoner and forced to serve as sex slaves. My attempt to call attention to such Islamist views is, of course, a dreadful thing to do since I'm thereby spreading "misinformation and hatred." Why just look at the sort of anonymous Islamist comment such a blog post elicits:
Though I am not an Islamic scholar and have no authority to say anthing, but there is no doubt in the statement of Salwa that POW women can shared bed (consumation) without any Nikah [i.e., without a marriage contract]. This is not against Islam. The Quranic Ayats are clear and I myself read it from a very great Islamic scholar who taught me the Holy Quran with Tafseer. I woyuld like any Scholar (Islamic) to explain whether these ayat were superseded with others in the life of Our Holy prophet or the ayats are still valid. If valid, then there is no right of non-Muslims to give negative comments or deal the holy book like their common school, college or university books. The Divine law is superior always and we believe in it. May be the social sciences scholars will think in their own way. They should realized the importance of religion.
See how terrible my posts on Islamism are? They draw anonymous Islamists out of the woodwork to make comments like this one insisting that sex slaves are "not against Islam." Naturally, in my desire to spread more "misinformation and hatred," I responded with a comment:
Anonymous wrote:
"[T]here is no right of non-Muslims to give negative comments" (about Islam).
Anonymous speaks courteously enough, but he is saying that Muslims have the right to rape women that they have taken as prisoners of war and that non-Muslims have no right to criticize this.

Might I ask what the punishment is for the non-Muslim who nevertheless does criticize?
But perhaps I should turn at this point to even greater Islamophobes than I, Raymond Ibrahim and Zakaria Botros:
[Raymond Ibrahim tells us that the Coptic priest Father Zakaria Botros] discussed Sheikh Huwaini's recent assertions that Islam advocates plundering, enslaving, buying, and selling infidels. Many have written about this anecdote either to show that Islam is intrinsically violent, or that "radical Islamism" is spreading, or that Islamic teachings are incompatible with the West.

But Fr. Zakaria takes it a step further -- takes it right to the heart of the matter. After asserting that "God created mankind in his image," he sincerely addressed his Muslim viewers: "Would God truly want you to kill your neighbor, to enslave him? Would the Almighty truly want believers to buy and sell other human beings like animals? Think people! Use your minds, listen to your hearts -- for your souls are at stake!"
My interlocutors 'Maria' and the anonymous Islamist who rejects the "right of non-Muslims to give negative comments" about Islam would doubtless be appalled at such an Islamophobic attempt by Father Zakaria to spur Muslims to think for themselves and not let the Islamists tell them what they have to believe. I am sorry to say that I share such Islamophobic brazenness. I, too, am critcal of Islamists and suggest that Muslims think for themselves and not allow Islamists to bully them into submission.

Incidentally, on the Muslim view that human beings were made in God's image, see this post, which notes the doctrine and some of its Islamic complications.

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At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The sharp skin color contrast in the painting is interesting. Are the dark-skinned people slaves and the very light-skinned people Yemenis? I wonder if the slaves are East African and the medium-colored Yemenis depicted lighter to contrast them with the slaves. I believe KSA was one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery, wasn't it? Former Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar's denial of rumors that he was born of an East African slave/servant mother are belied by his hair texture and facial features.

I wonder if the societies of the Gulf will ever evolve to recognize their foreign workers as human beings, not virtual slaves, and accord them basic legal rights.


At 8:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Unfortunately, I don't know the answers to your questions, Sonagi, though I believe that both Yemen and Saudi Arabia abolished slavery in 1962.

Slavery, of course, still exists in the Arab and Muslim world, despite the ban.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a bit of a fan of Fr. Zakaria. He takes the right approach, rather than other dismissive elitist-sounding Western atheists out there.

At 7:39 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

He's likely more effective.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:17 AM, Blogger Jay Kactuz said...

Since I was one of the original commenters on the offending post, I might as well add a few words here. I had not been back to that post but I see that you, professor, are really really evil and/or stupid, at least according to some later comments. Oh well, welcome to our world.

I have lots of experience with Muslims and the news is not good. They have no ability to reflect on their dogma much less apply the standards they demand from others to themselves. As you noticed in those comments, morality is for non-Muslims. A Muslim never talks about the evils they have done or do. They also have a magical ability to not see any of the verses in the Quran that teach hate and violence against non-Muslims, much less the thousands of verses - yes, thousands - in the ahadith that tell of their prophet's ruthless wars against his neighbors. Go figure. If that weren't enough to cause a person to ponder the nature of Islam, the human rights situation in the 50 Islamic states should be a clue that maybe, just maybe, Islam has a problem. But no, to a Muslim, Islam is perfect and people just don't understand it.I swear that sometimes I think that to be a Muslim one must take a secret vow to never use the brain again.

For years I have been looking, hoping that there will be a change of heart among Muslims - that they will start treating others (non-Muslims) better in those nations where they dominate - but no, not going to happen.

I rarely leave a comment here but I try to stop by at least once a week. I must say that some of your literary-related posts are too deep for me.

BTW, I was in China this month and boy are we screwed. I saw a sense of purpose and pride that is completely lacking in America's youth. I didn't see the overweight people or sloppy dress that characterizes so much of your young people here. Anyway, It was nice to see where our jobs and money are going.

Take care, Jay.

PS: Korean companies seem to be doing very well in China.

At 11:31 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Jay Kactuz, for the visit and comment. Good to know that you do stop by regularly. I suspect that a lot of regulars are around but have no time to comment.

I do get attacked from time to time for various ways in which I've 'offended' Muslims, a charge that I find hard to take seriously since I generally speak about 'Islamism' rather than Islam, but I guess what I call "Islamism" is what a lot of Muslims consider "Islam."

Go figure . . .

Jeffery Hodges

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At 4:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks !
Why Wear Hijab

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Looks like a business site.

Jeffery Hodges

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