[Make sure to read Robert Spencer’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
It’s understandable that in times of crisis, people would reach out for reassurance, for some indication that things aren’t as dismal as they seem. Still, when times are tough, it is more important than ever not to be seduced by wishful thinking.
In a disheartening exercise of willful ignorance and the myopia that wishful thinking can induce, the Jerusalem Post published a curious piece Tuesday entitled “Hamas has perverted Islam for their sacrilegious, blasphemous actions.” The author, Yakov Nagen, is identified as a rabbi and “the director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Blickle Institute for Interfaith Dialogue.” Interfaith dialogue is a realm in which self-delusion can all too easily run wild and fond hopes reign supreme over reality; Nagen’s article is, unfortunately, yet another example of this.
“What empowers Hamas and allows it to thrive,” Nagen asserts, “is that too many have accepted their corruption of the teachings of a world religion.” He notes with satisfaction that Hamas does have opponents within the Islamic world: “Hundreds of Muslim leaders signed a public statement issued by the Global Imams Council (GIC) unequivocally condemning the massacre. In the condemnation, they refer to a legal ruling issued by the Islamic Fatwa Council, located in the Iraqi spiritual capital of Najaf: ‘It is prohibited to pray for, join, support, finance, or fight on behalf of Hamas.’”
That sounds wonderful, but then Nagen adds, “The ruling enumerated 11 correlations between Hamas and ISIS, including the use of suicide bombers, missile attacks against civilians, and genocidal aspirations, in the case of Hamas annihilating the Jews.”
It is unpleasant, but nonetheless true: neither ISIS nor Hamas originated these ideas. They are all rooted in core Islamic texts. The justification for suicide bombing is in the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam: “Indeed, Allah has bought from the believers their lives and their wealth, because the garden will be theirs, they will fight in the way of Allah and will kill and be killed.” (9:111) This is the only promise of paradise in the Qur’an, but one can take hold of that promise by being killed while killing unbelievers.
Killing women and children, i.e., civilians, is justified in an Islamic tradition, a hadith, in which Muhammad waves away those who object: “It is reported on the authority of Sa’b bin Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.” (Sahih Muslim 4321)
And the genocidal aspirations of Hamas and ISIS toward Jews are justified in another hadith: “Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim 6985)
Nagen then goes on to say that “one example of Hamas’s sacrilege is the cynical way they use al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem as a pretext for murder and terror.” He calls this “an Orwellian inversion of reality” and asserts that “the use of al-Aqsa to justify the massacre of Jews is profoundly sacrilegious.” He even claims that “al-Aqsa Mosque should be a symbol of the close, even intimate relationship between Islam and Judaism. It is an inversion of what should be the meaning and significance of the fact that al-Aqsa Mosque is located on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. This is where, according to Muslim tradition, Mohammad received the commandment of prayer.” Consequently, he says, “for centuries, the link between the ancient temple and the mosque was a source of pride for many Muslims.”
All this is apparently designed to give the impression that the al-Aqsa Mosque was built on the Temple Mount as some sort of gesture of brotherhood and solidarity. In reality, however, the reason why “for centuries, the link between the ancient temple and the mosque was a source of pride for many Muslims” is that the location of the mosque was considered to be a visible sign of Islam’s victory over Judaism and superiority to it.
Al-Aqsa is like Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a great cathedral converted into a mosque as a sign of Islam’s victory over Christianity and its superiority to it. It is also like all the mosques in India that were built over the ruins of Hindu temples the jihadis destroyed. This is, in other words, an extremely weak foundation for interfaith harmony and an appeal to those true Muslims who detest all this jihad terrorism, about whom we hear so very much from non-Muslims and so very little from directly.
Nagen’s earnest irenicism is understandable but nevertheless naïve and ill-informed. It is better to have a full and accurate understanding of who and what we’re dealing with.