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Rabbis Stand Up For Their “Hoosier Sisters and Brothers Who Are Muslim” (Part Two)
by Hugh Fitzgerald
When the rabbis in Indiana decided to publish their letter demanding that a billboard listing charges against Muhammad be taken down, what were they thinking?
Did they think that these charges could not have been true, because no religion could regard as its Perfect Man and supreme moral authority someone who was guilty of rape, assassination, slavery, torture, and mass murder?
Or was it that they blindly relied on Muslims who assured them, indignantly, that all such charges were false?
Or did they think, whatever the truth — in case they uneasily suspected that at least some of those charges were true — that it was imperative to rally round their “Muslim brothers” who, as they saw it, were “under attack,” and needed the support of their “Jewish brothers,” because these charges about Muhammad were “just like” what happened to the Jews before World War II? This insistence that “Muslims are the new Jews” — a formula which some Muslims, and their apologists in the West have been pushing — is both preposterous and disgusting.
It would have been better had the rabbis decided to take, in turn, each of those statements on the billboard and to see if there was support for them in the relevant Islamic texts, instead of simply dismissing them. And then, once they had discovered that every single statement on that billboard is backed up by verses or passages in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sira, even if they were reluctant to declare that awful truth, one would at least hope they would have had the decency to keep a telling silence.
The Board of Rabbis in Indiana can still redeem themselves from their thoughtless denunciation of that truth-telling billboard in Indiana that so enraged Muslims. They can now redeem themselves, but without having to embarrassedly admit how wrong they had been, or to come into direct conflict with their “Muslim brothers.” Instead of commenting on the truth or falsehood of the billboard’s claims, which clearly they are in no position to do, they could call for a public debate; it would go something like this:
We, rabbis in Indiana, believe that the people behind the billboard in question should be asked to come forth, identify themselves, and offer what evidence they have, if any, of their charges, which ought not to have been made without citing authority. And if they do so, they should be willing to engage in open debate about those matters. We know that our Muslim brothers are doubtless eager to engage in such debate, to be given the opportunity to discuss these charges they regard as absurd. That debate should prove much more enlightening than mere denunciation. We have complete confidence that our Muslim sisters and brothers will be able to convincingly refute every charge made against the Prophet Muhammad. We are certain they will want to use this debate as a teaching moment, to hold up for inspection and analysis the fantastical claims made about the Prophet Muhammad by those responsible for this bigoted billboard.
Muslims could try to back out of such a public debate on the grounds that they won’t dignify these scurrilous charges, but that would leave the impression of their being reluctant for other reasons. They have, after all, denounced the ad as “untruthful and lacking context,” without giving any details as to what was “untruthful” and what “lacked context.” Now’s their chance to do so.
“‘It’s just a group of cowards who are not even ready to put their name behind [the billboard],’ said Rita Shahid, executive director of the Muslim Alliance of Indiana.” But now, taking up the challenge of the rabbis, those putative “cowards” are ready to declare themselves, and say that not only do they welcome the chance for a public discussion, but they will rent an auditorium for that purpose, and would like to invite Muslims to publicly debate the truth or falsehood of the six claims made on the billboard. Meanwhile, they can declare their intention to immediately put up, before the debate, a second billboard, consisting only of Qur’anic quotes, so that the contents of that second billboard might also be discussed. Here is what might ideally appear on that second billboard, as a little florilegium of murder and hate:
“And kill them wherever you overtake them.” Qur’an 2:191
“Fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers.” Qur’an 9:123
“And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them.” Qur’an 9:5
“And whoever desires other than Islam as religion – never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers.” Qur’an 3:85
“The Jews say, ‘Ezra is the son of Allah’; and the Christians say, ‘The Messiah is the son of Allah.’ That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?” Qur’an 9:30
“Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land.” Qur’an 5:33
“Those who disbelieved will have cut out for them garments of fire. Poured upon their heads will be scalding water.” Qur’an 22:19
“O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you twenty steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And if there are among you one hundred steadfast, they will overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they are a people who do not understand.” Qur’an 8:65
“Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers.” Qur’an 3:28
“When your Lord inspired to the angels, ‘I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.'” Quran 8:12
Now those quotes, too, will have been pressed into the public consciousness, not just by the physical billboard, but by all the stories about it. The more Muslims complain about the second billboard, the more attention those quotes will get, which is precisely what they wish to avoid. If Muslims still refuse to engage in such a public debate with that “we won’t dignify by our presence these scurrilous charges” excuse — thereby disappointing their “Jewish brothers” — that could well be taken by many as an admission that there is evidence to support at least some of the charges on the first billboard, and evidence, too, that it’s impossible to explain away the disturbing Qur’anic passages on the second billboard. The indignant Muslims will be damned if they show up — for they cannot possibly prevail in such a public debate (look at how many Muslims have slithered away from debating Robert Spencer) — and damned if they don’t, for such unwillingness should prompt doubts about their own assertions.
One hopes that those rabbis who were so quick off the mark to support their “Hoosier sisters and brothers who are Muslim” will begin to recognize that they have a responsibility, as they presume to instruct others, to find out if there is anything to support those charges made against Muhammad on that first billboard. It’s not hard to find such evidence, in the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira, and in the tafsir of Ibn Kathir, and the history of Al-Tabari. And then there is the textual evidence, on the second billboard, for what Islam inculcates, which also needs to be discussed, and not just in Indianapolis.
One wishes to ask those rabbis in Indiana and all the other non-Muslim clergy, too, all busily engaged in interfaith outreach, stout defenders of the faith (that faith always being Islam), with “Coexist” bumper stickers on their cars, and “wherever you are from, I’m glad that you’re my neighbor” signs, in English, Spanish, and Arabic, on their front lawns: on what basis do you presume to speak with authority about Islam, to assure us of its peaceful, gentle, tolerant nature, and of the hideous unfairness of those who would impugn the perfection of the Prophet Muhammad?
All we can ask of you — is it really too much? — is to start seriously studying Islam, instead of relying on what your Muslim “Hoosier sisters and brothers” tell you. Read the Qur’an, with a commentary, and the most important Hadith from the most authoritative collections, and parts of the Sira. At some point, if you really apply yourselves, you will begin to grasp the essence of Islam — the violence, the inculcated hatred for Infidels, the duty of conducting Jihad until the whole world is subjugated to Islam — and then you will inevitably see that faith in a different, more disturbing light. No one is asking for mea-culpas, or is trying to silence you, but merely suggesting that, as Wittgenstein famously insisted: “Whereof we do not know, thereof we should not speak.” And when once your mental vessel is freighted with knowledge, you should speak about Islam, this time in an informed, and therefore quite different, vein, again.
First published in Jihad Watch.