During a recent sermon, a Palestinian Muslim cleric denounced the un-Islamic concept that men and women have equal, innate dignity. His commentary included an earnest recommendation to marry girls off once they start menstruating. (The alphabet mafia, for some reason, hasn’t yet insisted the same should also apply to menstruating boys).
Like all things Islamic, he turned to Mohammed for guidance: “Allah permitted the Prophet Muhammad to marry Aisha when she was 9 years old…I am talking about the Messenger of Allah! So we are not supposed to accept what he did because it contradicts international standards…?”
Here he is reiterating an objective fact – that Islam definitively permits child marriage. He is also providing the predetermined “reasoning” for this viewpoint, which illustrates the depth of the chasm between Islam and the rest of mankind: Mohammed did it so it can’t be wrong.
While this still may come as a news flash to a great number of people, the intractable problem is that, contrary to the Islamic insistence that Muhammad’s conduct is irreproachable (Koran 33:21), he did a lot of really bad things.
As Robert Spencer has noted, efforts to ban child marriage are viewed as an intolerable castigation of Mohammed; a Bangladeshi mufti, for instance, stated that “banning child marriage will cause challenging the marriage of the holy prophet of Islam, [putting] the moral character of the prophet into controversy and challenge.”
Even though Islamic clerics authoritatively assert that their own doctrines are unassailable, that doesn’t mean that just anyone is free to express what those same doctrines are. Because, please try to follow this: if non-Muslims state what some of those teachings are, it suddenly becomes hurtful, and deserving of punishment.
It’s as if a Muslim, or any non-Christian, accurately described the ten commandments or, say, the beatitudes, and in so doing was considered to be giving offense, even though Christians by definition must uphold and defend those doctrines and spiritual orientations. The idea that accurately describing Christianity would also be offensive or denigrating simply doesn’t compute.
Maybe it’s all about the content in question?
Author Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff certainly wasn’t free to describe authoritative Islamic teaching. Having spent her formative years as a daughter of a diplomat, and later on working in the diplomatic arena herself, she was exposed to the implementation of Islam in Iran, Kuwait, and Libya. As a result of her first hand experience, she became convinced that the Islamic worldview is incompatible with the Western way of life forged by Christian tradition.
Dismayed by the growing acquiescence to Islamic dictates back in her native Austria, she decided to share the fruits of her knowledge in a series of seminars. Quite a valuable undertaking, considering the profound ignorance of religion in general, and Islam in particular, in much of the West today.
Among the many things she related was that Mohammed married a six-year old girl and consummated the marriage when she was nine years old. She asked rhetorically: what could we call this if not pedophilia?
(As far as I know, this would be considered statutory rape in the US today. Are laws against that “hateful” because they run counter to the example set by Mohammed?)
This single line (over the course of 12 seminar hours) was enough pretext for her enemies to pounce. They charged her with “hate speech”. Her exhausting legal ordeal went all the way through the Austrian courts, and eventually to the highest court in all of Europe. And they all ruled against her.
Found guilty of “denigrating religious beliefs”, she was fined. Along the way, she lost friends; her prospects for employment evaporated. It should be stressed (as she stresses) that she endured all of this as a result of actions taken not by Muslims but by Leftists, who infiltrated her seminars in order to take her down.
Since the Left is ever more brazenly pushing pedophilia, why would stating that a religious figure from another time and place engaged in the practice be considered “hate speech”? It’s as curious as it is spurious. Shouldn’t they instead be “appropriating” his example by saying, yes, this does amount to pedophilia – or at least to his being a “minor attracted person”, to use the recently surfacing leftist terminology – and that describing it as such should in no way be problematic?
In any event, the point is that freedom of speech takes a back seat to Islamic sensitivities, even if such speech describes what Muslims themselves endorse. Which calls into question why there should be any “sensitivities” at all.
Here we glimpse a bit of the cognitive dissonance embedded within the heart of Islam: when others point out that specific actions [murder, violence, terror, rape, taking of sex slaves, wife beating, child marriage, deceit, etc.] can be carried out in accordance with Islamic teaching, Muslims claim that is defamatory or inaccurate or “hurtful” while simultaneously defending those same actions as irreproachable.
Perhaps this reflects some sort of awareness on the part of Muslims themselves that certain practices are repellent. But that cannot be admitted because it would fatally undermine Islam itself; it could also get a Muslim who makes such an admission killed. Which kind of further proves the point.
Be that as it may, disingenuously claiming accurate statements are “hurtful” or “denigrating” can be an effective card to play whenever there is a receptive audience – a population with little interest in considering the truth of the matter. Leftists, of course, have no interest in the truth, but they are interested in anything they can use as an instrument of destruction, which is their ultimate objective.
It’s not concern for the poor, for women, for the environment, or dedication to “science” that animates the Left, but an appetite for dissolution. How do Leftists square their supposed adherence to science with their insistence that chromosomes don’t really have any conclusive scientific standing; that anyone can truly become a member of the opposite sex? Talk about cognitive dissonance! It always accompanies the repudiation of truth.
Germany’s Michael Stürzenberger, to give but one further example, was also recently convicted of “denigrating Islam” because he shared a historical photograph of a leading Islamic cleric, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, meeting with a leading member of the Nazis during World War II. (He was also assaulted – yet again – on the streets of Gladbeck just the other day).
Let us ponder for a moment this charge of “denigration”. By definition, it is leveled at those who unfairly criticize, disparage, or vilify. It is not leveled against those who properly denounce what is objectionable.
One might then wonder: is it the sanctioning of certain practices widely and intuitively known to be abhorrent that is denigrating? If so, it must be said that Islam denigrates itself. If not, how on earth could noting that Islam sanctions unsavory practices be denigrating?
How can noticing the problem be the problem? Islam cannot denigrate itself, but outsiders can denigrate it by restating its precepts. You tell me how that makes sense.
Anyone, Muslims included, would have a tough time doing so. Many are simply unaware of this inconsistency. Others dismiss the question entirely, keep quiet, and go about their lives. Still others may lash out defensively, unable to explain the incongruence.
Then, of course, there are those that incorrigibly stand by the notion that no Islamic practice could ever be criticized; and that, further, the rest of mankind should also regard all things Islamic as entirely proper, and that everyone should be Muslim and submit to Sharia law. From its inception, this has been the official, prevailing mindset. One we’ve been rudely reintroduced to in recent decades.
We are left to wonder: how can harmony ever flow from that which is fundamentally dissonant?
Matthew Hanley is the author (most recently) of the award-winning book, Determining Death by Neurological Criteria: Current Practice and Ethics, a joint publication of the National Catholic Bioethics Center and Catholic University of America Press.