An Open Letter to Qasim Rashid to Public Dialogue and Debate

The difference between reform and deception.

Qasim-RashidI read with disappointment Qasim Rashid’s recent piece in the Huffington Post. While professing to promote peace and understanding, Rashid denies the manifest facts that the Sharia penalty for apostasy is death and that Muhammad called for warfare against and subjugation of Jews and Christians. Far from peace, with all his disingenuousness masquerading as reform, Rashid succeeds only in widening the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims.

That paragraph is a parody of Rashid’s opening paragraph to this piece, in which Rashid, a prominent Ahmadi Muslim, castigates Ayaan Hirsi Ali for supposedly misrepresenting Islam and Muslims, and challenges her to a public discussion and debate. The title of my article is also a parody of Rashid’s title, “An Open Letter to Ayaan Hirsi Ali to Public Dialogue and Debate.” His piece wasn’t really an Open Letter to Ayaan at all, but an extended denunciation of her. Mine, accordingly, is less of an Open Letter to him than an exposure of his dishonesty.

That dishonesty starts with his challenge to debate Hirsi Ali – this was funny, as I myself have many times challenged Rashid to public discussion and debate, and he has repeatedly and contemptuously refused. His only response has been to insist arrogantly that he will only answer me when I produce a peer-reviewed piece. But of course his potboiler Islamic apologetics in the Huffington Post is not peer reviewed. Nor is the work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, whom he wants to debate.

What Rashid really wants is not actual discussion and debate, but the big stage that an encounter with Hirsi Ali would afford him to spread his smooth deceptions and falsehoods about Islam. And he has many: previously he has whitewashed Muhammad’s support for torture and the reality of jihad violence and Sharia oppression; dissembled about the Qur’an’s sanction of deception of unbelievers; lied about the presence of violent passages in the Qur’an; lied about the Qur’an’s sanction of beating disobedient women; lied about the nature of Sharia; and called for limitations on the freedom of speech and expression to outlaw behavior and speech some Muslims may find offensive. When challenged about the “facts” he has presented, he (like virtually all other Islamic supremacists) responds with furious ad hominem contempt, but no substance.

In his hit piece on Ayaan, Rashid piles on even more risible claims. He has, he says, “regular interactions with tens of thousands of Muslims.” Regular interactions with tens of thousands! How does this hyper-busy interactor have time to write any articles at all? Yet he will somehow find time next month, he brags, to appear “at Harvard University on a panel with various world leading Islamic scholars. Our dialogue will centralize around finding ongoing means of peace through dialogue and communication -- just as Islam teaches and as Prophet Muhammad exemplified.”

Yeah, Muhammad was all about finding peace through dialogue and communication. Like this:

“Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them…. If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.” (Sahih Muslim 4294)

Muhammad also ordered the deaths of Abu Afak, who was over one hundred years old, and the poetess Asma bint Marwan, for making fun of him. Abu Afak was killed in his sleep, in response to Muhammad’s question, “Who will avenge me on this scoundrel?” Similarly, Muhammad on another occasion cried out, “Will no one rid me of this daughter of Marwan?” One of his followers, ‘Umayr ibn Adi, went to her house that night, where he found her sleeping next to her children. The youngest, a nursing babe, was in her arms. But that didn’t stop Umayr from murdering her and the baby as well. Muhammad commended him: “You have done a great service to Allah and His Messenger, Umayr!” (Ibn Ishaq, 674-676)

Then there was Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf. Muhammad asked: “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” One of the Muslims, Muhammad bin Maslama, answered, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” When Muhammad said that he would, Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab).” Muhammad responded: “You may say it.” Muhammad bin Maslama duly lied to Ka’b, luring him into his trap, and murdered him. (Bukhari 5.59.369)

Another hadith records that “a Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud 38.4349)

Rashid gives no hint that any such material exists, and even claims that Islam “prescribes no worldly punishment whatsoever for those who leave Islam, certainly not death,” linking to an article that claims that Muhammad’s notorious statement, “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him” (Bukhari 9.84.57), contradicts numerous Qur’an verses and is thus obviously false.

Neither Rashid nor his linked article explains how this simple fact glided by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, which unanimously teach that those who leave Islam must be killed. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the most renowned and prominent Muslim cleric in the world, has stated:

The Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.

If Rashid is correct that Muhammad’s prescription of death for apostates is plainly and repeatedly contradicted by the Qur’an, how did all these schools of jurisprudence get it wrong, and no one got the Qur’anic teaching right until the illustrious advent of…Qasim Rashid?

Rashid lapses into semi-incoherence as he claims that in his book he shows how the Qur’an and Sunnah “debunk” claims that Islam justifies “imposing Shariah, callings [sic] Jews and Christians pigs and monkeys, kill [sic] apostates, stone [sic] adulterers, hang [sic] homosexuals, and beat [sic] women in burqas.” He asserts that the “small minority” of Muslims who think Islam does justify such things “act in spite to Islam, not because of Islam.”

He does not explain, however, how all these misunderstandings of Islam became so widespread, such that now over 25,000 Muslims have joined the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Libya. A “small minority”? Sure. But where did they come from? If the Qur’an so clearly teaches against all these things, why are there even 1,000 misunderstanders of Islam, let alone 25,000, plus many more in other jihad groups worldwide? Why are so many Muslim leaders either not grasping these points that are so elementary to Rashid, or failing to impart them to their young people?

Rashid’s departure from reality is exemplified by his claim that “nothing in Muhammad's teachings summon Muslims to intolerance and war. On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad's entire life is replete with examples of justice, compassion, and empathy -- all to levels no human in history has ever matched.”

Ever! Look at all the justice, compassion and empathy Muhammad offers here:

“Narrated Abu Qilaba: Anas said, ‘Some people of ‘Ukl or ‘Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, They were put in ‘Al-Harra’ and when they asked for water, no water was given to them.’ Abu Qilaba said, ‘Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle.'” (Bukhari 1.4.234)

With an example of “compassion” acting like that, it’s clear that Rashid is no genuine Muslim reformer, but is rather devoted to lulling non-Muslims into complacency. It is also no wonder that Rashid poses as wanting debate after ducking one for years.

But my offer stands. I call upon Rashid to accept my debate offer in a public forum, on a mutually agreed upon topic, arbitrated by a neutral and mutually agreed upon third party. I, like billions of non-Muslims worldwide, am sincere about reform through debate and dialogue. If Rashid is likewise sincere, then I look forward to his acceptance.


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