Islam’s prophet Muhammad’s “ummah [Islamic community] in many ways represents the best image of many so-called Western countries,” Rice University sociologist Craig Considine stated during an October 26 podcast. This assessment came as part of his delusional “fantasy Islam” analysis of the first, canonically precedent-setting Islamic polity in the seventh-century Arabian Peninsula town of Medina.
Consdine is a jihad-appeasing, former sports management student, whose confused interfaith views on Islam Muslims themselves have condemned. This fabulist spoke during a virtual tour for his debunked, new book, The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View. As previously examined, in this book and elsewhere he has sophistically spun Muhammad’s subjugation of the Arabian Peninsula’s non-Muslims into a fairy tale of pluralistic religious coexistence.
Considine has praised the first Islamic community formed by Muhammad when he and his Muslim followers migrated to Medina from Mecca. This ummah “was literally the very foundation of the type of society that is this idealized, open, inclusive idea” in Western societies. The self-proclaimed “Islamic apologist” Considine has claimed with little evidence that the community Muhammad created among his Muslim followers along with Medina’s pagan and Jewish tribes “was rooted in a civic nation.”
Like others, Considine likes to emphasize the Charter or Constitution of Medina as a governing document that “is really not too dissimilar to the United States constitution.” Supposedly the “constitution of Medina provided freedom of religion, it provided freedom of conscience, it provided freedom of speech” to Medina’s diverse populations under an equal rule of law. In conversation with the anti-Semitic, Hamas supporting Indonesian Muslim cleric Shamsi Ali, Considine has claimed that this charter reflected Quranic communal solidarity, such that “what hurts one part of the ummah, hurts all.”
Many Muslims past and present have actually paid little notice to the Medina charter, which was little more than a traditional tribal alliance. While the charter often appears in modern public relations efforts to burnish Islam’s image, many of the charter’s arcane provisions regulate matters including the payment of blood money in lethal feuds. Some of these stipulations, like the prohibition on killing a Muslim for killing a nonbeliever, have had distinctly illiberal implications, such that even Islamic State jihadists have cited the charter. It moreover elevates Muhammad to unquestioned final arbiter of any dispute.
Similar to many broken treaties with Native American tribes, the charter had a short duration. Hostilities quickly broke out between the Muslims and Medina’s Jewish tribes. Muhammad ultimately had them expelled and exterminated.
“Muhammad arguably had a secular government in Medina,” Considine has enthused amidst this history of sectarian conflict. Today Muslim-majority Indonesia has a constitution “actually quite close to Medina,” which allows for an “autonomous religious community.” Yet scholars associated precisely with Rice University have criticized Indonesia for failing to live up to its image as a model of Muslim moderation.
For Considine, the Medina charter has a seminal value in constitutional history similar to England’s 1215 Magna Carta. The charter is what some historians have called the “first constitution in the history of the world.” “The best of Islamic values and the best of Western values are compatible, without a doubt, they align,” he has said.
Islam’s liberal heritage, Considine conspiratorially accuses, remains largely unknown because the “so-called West, it wants a monopoly over these issues” of human rights promotion. In particular, Islam has “been othered as not part of the American story,” even though Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of English Orientalist George Sale’s 1734 English Quran translation. Hereby Consdine is wont to cite his fellow defender of the Islamic faith, Denise Spellberg, author of Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an: Islam and the Founders, but Sale in his preface condemned the Quran as “so manifest a forgery.”
Spellberg’s propaganda that Jefferson and America’s Founding Fathers had positive impressions of Islam clearly influences Considine. Both as a diplomat and later as president, Jefferson had direct exposure to the jihadist aggression of the Barbary pirates whose depredations confronted a young America. Like other non-Muslims throughout history, he probably would have wanted a Quran in order to understand these threats, but Considine channels his own alternative reality Jefferson, who “was probably curious about the sharia.” He wanted to learn “how the Islamic tradition and the legal system can potentially influence the United States.”
Somehow Considine thinks that this Islamic influence is beneficial in an environment where “our world, due to globalization, is increasingly interconnected.” Therefore “all of us need to do as much as possible, wherever we are living in the world, to act on behalf of the coming of the civic nation.” “We’re supposed to create an open, inclusive society,” and particularly Americans “need more religious pluralism.”
Contrastingly, coming from a Catholic background, Considine has charged Christians as deficient promoters of his liberal world vision. “We as Christians need to do a much better job of living that spirt of truth, that essence that Jesus of Nazareth lived a long time ago.” This “is empathy; it’s compassion, it’s living with an open, in an inclusive, and an integrative society.”
However, too much Christianity can be a bad thing for Considine, who does not know how anyone could “have managed to come up with this hypothesis that the United States is a Christian nation.” “My understanding of the United States is quite conservative, and it’s found in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. That’s it,” he has stated. “There is nothing in there that kind of creates a superiority complex or a hierarchy of power,” as the “civic nation…we distinguish this from the ethnic nation.”
To prove Considine’s case, he makes hackneyed arguments about the United States’ 1797 Treaty with Tripoli during the Barbary Wars. During these conflicts, universally recognized by contemporaries as occurring between Christian and Muslim powers, American negotiators had strained to clarify to the Barbary leaders that Americans did not fight for sectarian religious motives. Thus the treaty specifies that the “government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.”
While America’s government has no theocratic basis, Considine ignorantly overlooks that Americas’ founding is inconceivable without a Judeo-Christian culture. The Declaration of Independence especially encapsulates numerous Biblical doctrines. Western civilization in general has fundamentally Jewish origins, and early Americans were steeped in the Hebrew Scriptures.
In stark contrast, Muhammad, who fought his Jewish detractors, has “deeply inspired” Considine. “Muhammad was comfortable in many worlds” and “was well-balanced.” He “was a great figure” and “person of many hats. He was a revolutionary, a statesman, a jurist, a general,” who “was bringing in a completely new way of life.”
From America to Arabia, Professor Considine badly needs remedial civic lessons. For this multiculturalist, modern values have not grown out of any unique Western development, but are the equal opportunity products of all cultures, including Muhammad’s Arabian tribesmen. Under the influence of people such as Considine, university Ivory Towers, once Western civilization’s academic citadels, are crumbling.