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Interfaithfully Yours, Or, What Was Robert P. George Thinking?
I do not think the letter addressed to various hotel chains, signed by two men, Professor Robert P. George, a well-known conservative Catholic, and Hamza Yusuf, a clever American-born "revert" to Islam, originated with Professor George, but more likely, with Hamza Yusuf, who then sweetly, ecumenically, let's-join-forces-on-this-issue interfaithfully for the greater good, who did so.
Why do I suspect that? Because if the letter had originated with Robert George, he surely might have found others -- Southern Baptists come immediately to mind, as do Orthodox Rabbis -- who would have willingly signed such a letter. But either the letter originated with Hamza Yusuf, who had his eye on George as someone he might inveigle into signing such a letter with him, or George asked Hamza Yusuf who replied immediately, and once Hamza Yusuf was involved, that would -- rightly -- have made others who might have signed reluctant to do so, lest they lend their own respectability to Hamza Yusuf. Robert George has been the head of a Family Values organization. One wonders if he gave any thought, before joining forces with the likes of Hamza Yusuf, to the family values of Islam. These include: the view of women as diabolically sexual creatures the very sight of whom drive men, savages incapable of controlling themsleves, wild, and since men cannot hold themselves in check, they must drape the women to conceal their allure, in some cases in a niqab in which there are only eye-slites, or, in the Taliban variant, not even that. Women's testimony is worth half that of men, women are entitled to inherit half of what a male sibling will inherit. A woman can be divorced -- a subject about which, we must assume, Robert P.. George cares a lot --- by her husband merely repeating three times a single word: Talaq, Talaq, Talaq. He can even do it by email, or by fax. Does Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton, not know any of this? He disapporves of adultery, but does he approve of the punishment in Islam for adultery, where the woman, but not the man, is stoned to death in countries -- such as Saudi Arabia and Iran -- that try most to be true to the spirit and letter of the Shari'a? What about, as part of Islamic "family values," the ability of the man who exercise complete power -- including the power of life and death -- over his wife or wives and his children? Does Robert P. George not know about any of that? He can read Joseph Schacht on Islamic law. He can read any number of Muslim scholars on family law according to the Shari'a. He can read the handbook provided by the Sunni preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi; I have a copy myself, for it's not hard to find. He could read, if he wants to find out about how non-Muslims are treated under Islam, the book by the late Maronite law professor in Beirut, Antoine Fattal. H
He could do what many people who write at this site, or come to read it, have done. That is, he might have bothered to educate himself, , by reading the canonical texts, Qur'an (with an intelligent guide), Hadith, and Sira, and by studying the history of the treatment of the many non-Muslim peoples -- Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, and others -- whose lands fell to the Muslims, and he might have consulted the testimony of the many articulate ex-Muslims now living and writing and speaking in the West. Ideally, the person who wishes to be well-prepared will have done all three.Oh, there's a lot he could have done, and he apparently did none of it.
I wonder with whom the idea for this joint letter originated. Did Hamza Yusuf call him up, send an email, write a letter.
Did it go something like this:
Dear Professor George,
I write to you as a member of a faith community that is shocked, and disturbed, by the ever-present pornography in American society, and I believe that you may help me in my desire to express to the people most likely to begin to help curb this scourge that wreaks such havoc on families, and on the right relations between men and women, and helps create a world when marriage, and its only legitimate end, children, becomes ever rarer and ever more, as an institution, is undre siege.
I know that you and I have many disagreements. But you and Iboth belong to, and can honestly represent, the two large faith communities that, in the world today, are the most strongly opposed to the breakdown of marriage and family life. And both of us, whatever our other disagreements may be, have no disagreeements, are united as one, in the desire to preserve the institution of marriage, and of sexual life rightly conceived and understood. So I write to you to ask if you will join me in signing a letter that we would address to the owners of hotel chains, and at the same time, make public as a way to put pressure on them. Some, I know, will urge you-- if you consult with them -- not to join forces "with a Muslim." And on my side, I assure you there are those who would counsel me not to attempt to join forces with a non-Muslim, even such a sincere and devout representative of the faith as you are. But I will not listen to those telling me to have nothing to do with you, even in good cause, and I fervently hope that you will not listen to those who may tell you to have nothing to do with me.
The issue of family values, of marriage, of sexuality within marriage and only within marriage, all of which the terrible omnipresence of pornography damages, as the same terrible images do such damage to the human soul -- this is simply too important a matter for me, and I hope for you too, to worry about whether or not we should work together on this matter or jointly sign, the letter I propose we write and send out into the world. Too many people have been, and are being, and will be harmed, if we do nothing.
With respect for your work on behalf of the American family, I await your reply.
Or words to that effect. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Robert George interfaithfully reached out first to Hamza Yusuf. But I suspect it was Hamza Yusuf who started it, perhaps after meeting Robert George at a conference, or hearing from a friend that he was ripe for the interfaith anti-pornogrphy plucking.
It would be interesting to find out, in any case, what Robert P. George understands about Islam and "family values" and if, fuerther, he grasps exactly to what use Hamza Yusuf will be able to put that joint letter, that association with Robert P. George. And if he understands the Jihad of Propaganda (Jihad of the Tonque), which he can find out about by reading the piece I put up here by Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (whose speech was introduced, and translated, at Zaytuna College, by none other than Hamza Yusuf) will he allow himself to feel even the slightest regret for what he has so regrettably done, or is this, at this point, simply impossible? .
If he does recognize all the ways he has made a mistake, he can do the handsome thing, and the right thing, by telling us just how, and why, he allowed himself to be so inveigled, thereby damaging, or at least vitiating, the very thing he rightly sought to achieve --curbs on the pornography that is all over the place and which is part of this vast experiment of "Anything Goes" that the Western world has been engaged in for the last several decades, conducting on its own people as the hapless guinea pigs, an experiment that, as everyone sensible now knows (but doesn't know what to do about, for in this respect pornography is like the large-scale presence of Muslims in the West), has had disastrous results.
A dignified Mea Culpa would be enough. A Mea Maxima Culpa would be too much to ask.