Would top Islamic clerics agree with Fear Inc.'s presentation of Islam?
The far Left George Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP) has been busy of late trying to "expose" those evil hatemongering "Islamophobes" and their enablers who have the audacity to tell the truth about Sharia law and Islamic ideology. CAP's most recent publication in this regard is entitled "Fear, Inc.," which claims that a "small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts" has been "spreading myths and lies about Islam."
The uncredentialed authors of "Fear, Inc." - all part of the Center for American Progress rather than outside experts on Islam - are truthophobes. They seek, in their words, to "marginalize" such people as Nonie Darwish, a woman raised as a Muslim who lived in Egypt under the yoke of Sharia law for thirty years and has provided first-hand accounts of its brutality.
Other articles on this site have already demonstrated the shoddiness, illogic and outright untruths permeating "Fear, Inc." I am not going to repeat the obvious. Instead, I want to focus on what one of the world's leading Islamic scholars says about Sharia law, which is far closer to how the so-called Islamophobes who are the targets of CAP's invective describe Sharia than to the CAP authors' idealized version.
In "Fear, Inc.," the authors describe Sharia as nothing more than the "Muslim religious code," focusing on "charitable giving, prayer, and honoring one’s parents—precepts virtually identical to those of Christianity and Judaism."
In a previous CAP publication entitled "Understanding Sharia Law Conservatives’ Skewed Interpretation Needs Debunking," written by two of the same Center for American Progress authors who participated in writing "Fear, Inc.," Sharia is described as "personal religious law and moral guidance for the vast majority of Muslims." The "core values" of Sharia, say the authors, are "theological and ethical and not political" and are "in harmony with the core values at the heart of America."
To see if this benign characterization of Sharia can possibly be true, I consulted the writings of one of the most prominent Muslim scholars in the world today, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He is listed as fourteenth out of 500 of the world’s influential Muslim figures, according to the most recent study released by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center and the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University.
A Foreign Policy Magazine reader poll on the "the world’s top 100 public intellectuals," posted on a blog edited by one of the "Fear, Inc." authors, Wajahat Ali, confirmed Qaradawi's high standing. Based on 500,000 votes cast, Qaradawi came in third.
Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, was one of the scholars who endorsed the 2004 "Amman Message," a document the CAP authors rely on to show what they called "the dynamic, interpretive tradition of Islam in practice."
Does Qaradawi agree with the CAP authors' description of Sharia as "not political" and "in harmony with the core values at the heart of America"? Not a chance. As he explains in his book, “Al-Din wal-Siyasa” (Religion and Politics), all Islamic scholars agree that Sharia embraces the law, the state, religion and politics:
The Islamic shari’ah governs all of the actions of those who are obligated (to it). There is no act or occurrence which exists without a corresponding ruling from one of the five shari’ah rulings (obligatory, recommended, prohibited, reprehensible, or permitted). This has been confirmed by fundamentalists and scholars from every faction and school of thought associated with Islam... Whoever reads the books of the Islamic shari’ah, I mean the books of Islamic jurisprudence, in its different schools of thought, will find that they comprise all of the affairs of life, from the jurisprudence of purity, to that of the family, society, and the state. This is very clear for every elementary student, not to mention those in the world who are more capable.
Moreover, Qaradawi said that Sharia is not a pick-and-choose menu, as CAP's authors would have us believe. Islam "rejects the partitioning of its rulings and teachings," he declared. Nor is Sharia an ever evolving religious guidepost for human behavior, subject to change by human beings. "Shariah cannot be amended to conform to changing human values and standards," said Qaradawi.
This prominent Islamic scholar also minced no words in discussing the Islamic obligation of charitable donations (zakat) and the Islamic prohibition of blasphemy, which are part of Sharia. He characterized charitable donations as "jihad with money, because God has ordered us to fight enemies with our lives and our money." As for criticisms of Islam or its prophet, he called for "an international resolution criminalizing any insult to any religion." (Sources: BBC Panorama, and IslamOnline.net, respectively.)
These ideas do not seem to match up with the CAP authors' assertion that Sharia is consistent with "the core values at the heart of America" - at least not the American core values that most of us were brought up to believe.
In sum, Qaradawi's description of Sharia sounds much closer to the way that Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, one of CAP's targets for condemnation, has described Sharia in its book "Sharia: The Threat To America":
[A] "complete way of life" (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law... Shariah is, moreover, a doctrine that mandates the rule of Allah over all aspects of society.
The Center for Security Policy book quoted Qaradawi as a source for its analysis of Sharia, in addition to quoting extensively from the Koran and other primary Islamic texts. The CAP authors avoided any mention of Qaradawi, and did not quote from the Koran or any other primary Islamic texts to support their thesis. Are they prepared to say that Qaradawi is not really a legitimate scholar of Islam venerated in the Muslim world after all? Even worse, do they think that Qaradawi's views on Sharia are falsehoods, perhaps proving that he is somehow secretly part of the Islamophobic network whom they accuse of making things up about Sharia? Or are they simply hiding the truth, which is what truthophobes do?
The trouble with being a truthophobe is that you always have to worry about whether what you have said in the past will come back to haunt you. One of the authors of "Fear, Inc." and the CAP Sharia report denying that Sharia had anything to do with political matters is Wajahat Ali. He must have forgotten what he wrote back in January 2009 concerning "political Islamists," whom he said included the Muslim Brotherhood. Ali cited approvingly Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at Stanford University, who distinguished between "mainstream practicing Muslims" engaging in the political arena, voting like other Americans citizens based on their candidates respective platforms, and "political Islamists" who have "a passionate desire to implement sharia law." Wajahat Ali went on to say that such political Islamists were not to be lumped together with violent groups such as al-Qaeda.
Whether he realized it or not, Ali was helping to make Frank Gaffney's point that focusing too much attention on al-Qaeda distracts us from the broader efforts of political Islamists seeking to implement Sharia law through the existing system.
That's not all. Back in March 2008, Ali interviewed Professor John L. Esposito regarding the results of a global Gallup poll of Muslims to determine their thoughts and attitudes on a wide range of subjects. While commenting on the relatively high education and income levels of "politically radicalized Muslims," Ali remarked: "Islam must in some way inherently cause or inspire the violence, right?"
After Esposito rejected that theory, Ali nevertheless returned to this theme without ascribing it to any fringe group of so-called Islamophobes: "We see terrorists in Europe, in Latin America, in Asia, yet this overwhelming brand of suicide bombing and terror networking, if you will, runs rampant throughout Muslim regions. Isn't this more proof of an inherently dangerous religion; that something exists within this religion that causes the violence?"
Perhaps the next report that the Center For American Progress puts out on their specter of a network of Islamophobes should include Ali himself as one of the so-called "validators" referred to in "Fear, Inc."