This year’s Ramadan message from Barack Obama is the latest in a long line of warmly complimentary communications that he has addressed to the Islamic world over the last eighteen months. Reciprocally warm and friendly greetings have yet to arrive from those to whom Obama has addressed these messages, but the President appears undaunted. Eighteen months into his presidency, he seems to be clinging more determinedly than ever to the idea that soft words about Islam will turn away the jihad – despite the total lack of confirming evidence.
Just as he did in his June 2009 address to the Islamic world in Cairo, where he used the greeting by which one Muslim is to greet another, as-salaamu aleikum (peace be upon you), Obama in his Ramadan message adopted Islamic terminology. “Ramadan Kareem,” he said near the beginning of the message, and ended it with “may God’s peace be upon you.” Clearly he is doing his best to give the impression that he comes in friendship. And he doesn’t stop there.
Again characteristically, Obama then retails a few platitudes lifted straight out of a ninth-grade World Religions textbook: “Ramadan is a time when Muslims around the world reflect upon the wisdom and guidance that comes with faith, and the responsibility that human beings have to one another, and to God. This is a time when families gather, friends host iftars, and meals are shared. But Ramadan is also a time of intense devotion and reflection – a time when Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night; when Muslims provide support to others to advance opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere.”
One may legitimately wonder how past Ramadans have resulted in any advancement of “opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere.” In reality, it contravenes Islamic law to give zakat, the almsgiving that is one of the pillars of Islam and is required of every Muslim, to non-Muslims. That’s why it is easy to find Western governmental agencies and Christian charitable organizations busy building and staffing schools and hospitals in impoverished parts of Africa and Asia, but oil-rich Muslim countries have never undertaken similar endeavors. With the sharp divide in Islam between believers and unbelievers, such that Muslims are commanded to be “merciful to one another, but ruthless to the unbelievers” (Qur’an 48:29), there simply is no basis in Islamic law for the idea that Islam fosters the advance of “opportunity and prosperity for people everywhere.”