Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Some comments about the book "Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto. (C 2008)

Page 2. "Within the Muslim world there has been and continues to be an internal rift, an often violent confrontation among sects, ideologies, and interpretations of the message of Islam."

Bhutto is correct and I can see where this problem originates: The penalty for leaving Islam is death. This ‘authentic’ law has been enforced for 1400 years. Therefore, if anyone disagrees on any of the fundamental issues, he/she must be an Apostate.

"The goal--the great hope of the militants—is a collision, an explosion between the values of the West and what the extremists claim to be the values of Islam." As with all that start a war, they believe that they will win.

"And as the Muslim world—where sectarianism is rampant—simmers internally, extremists have manipulated Islamic dogma to justify and rationalize a so-called jihad against the West."

I find these three quotes interesting because she apparently believes that ‘extremists’ are wrong about Islam, and she also makes the same assumption that many in the West make: That the ‘extremists’ and their supporters are not all that numerous. No wonder she was killed. Not only is she an Apostate, but she underestimated her enemy by a rather large proportion. Musharraf has not made this mistake as has been demonstrated by his ability to avoid being killed for more than 6 years when those very same people want his head even more than they wanted to kill Bhutto. She apparently doesn’t believe in jihad, as her phrase "so-called jihad" indicates. Jihad is an obligation and is a very important part of Islam.

Page 3. "One billion Muslims around the world seemed united in their outrage at the war in Iraq, damning the deaths of Muslims caused by U.S. military intervention without U.N. approval."

I find it very difficult to believe that the one billion Muslims would have been OK with the invasion of Iraq if the U.N. HAD given it’s approval. The moral obligation to "kill the occupiers" of Muslim land has nothing to do with justice or any international concept.


  1. I'm sorry, sir, but your understanding of Islam is derived purely from the flawed, extremist few. Which religion doesn't have pockets of extremism. Every religion does.

    Islam does not say that the punishment of an apostate is death. Rather, our Holy Book says about people's faiths: to everybody his own.

    Also, "jihad" is a severely misunderstood term today, thanks to the propaganda of Al-Qaeda. Jihad simply means to fight against evil, and is often defensive in nature; other instances of waging jihad could be to help those who are tortured and manipulated. And even in those cases, our religion prescribes (much like democracies) that war can only be waged - whether defensive or offensive - by the State, and no individual is allowed to take the law into his/her own hands.

    I hope you'll consider revising your flawed understanding of Islam. Ms. Bhutto put forward the reasonable face of Islam. The millions of Muslims who mourned her, in her own country, including me, should be proof enough for you to believe that the version you're proposing is of the few, not the many.

  2. Bernard Lewis is an internationally recognized historian of the Middle East.

    "For most of the fourteen hundred years of Islamic history, jihad has been most commonly interpreted as armed struggle for the advancement or defense of Muslim power". You may not interpret the Koran in this way, but it been commonly viewed this way for 1400 years.

    Please note how people who convert from Islam to other religions have been treated over the centuries. Even today. I have read a number of articles within the past few years alone. Once again, you do not interpret the Koran in this fashion, but many do. And it is not a small percentage of the population.

  3. I would like to point out that Bernard Lewis is one of those orientalists, like Patricia Crone, who have never spoken favourably who have always had an antagonistic bent towards Islam. So it is a matter of the sources you take, rather than the understanding of Islam.

    As for the case of apostates, I do not see scholars of calibre endorsing it, neither do I see Islamic states indulging in this kind of behaviour as a norm. There are extremist pockets of individuals who take the law into their own hands. One can find those in equally bad, if not worse taste, in Christianity. The KKK is one; Bush is another who announced going into the Crusades after 9/11.

    But I don't understand Christianity from these people or these pockets. I source myself in valuable books and unbiased scholars of calibre.

  4. Saadia: Fair enough. One big problem is that so many are NOT using the sources that you are, nor are they behaving in the way that you are. It is not so much as our misunderstanding of Islam as it is that the percentage of people who support violent groups is so large in Islamic communities.
    This is not an insignificant number, particullarly when considering that Islam one of the largest, if not the largest religion in the world.

    Irregular warfare is rampant throughout the Islamic world. Guerrilla warfare has been with us since organized armies. Guerrilla forces historically obtain their support from the local population. For every man in arms, many others support them directly, indirectly and ideologically. The inescapable conclusion is that this war is big. Much larger than many people think, including Benazir Bhutto. I really wish it were different. This war has not yet really begun. I expect this to become much more obivious to the world within the next 3 to 5 years.

  5. I hope for the sake of humanity, that you are wrong. Do you think guerilla tactics are more common in Islamic communities, or would it be fairer to suggest that it is hatching and thriving in war-stricken areas only? America's CIA with Pakistan's ISI gave birth to the Taliban, and to-date, war-stricken Afghanistan hasn't shed those extra pounds. Iraq never knew about guerilla warfare, but now, locals coupled with so-called "jihadi" intruders (who again took birth because of war), are fighting the invaders with these tactics. It is because these militias cannot match the might of the American forces that these tactics are adopted. Is it Islam? No.

    Ever since 9/11, and Pakistan siding with Bush ("you are either with me or against me"), we have started experiencing suicide bombings, we had never ever confronted in our history. Is it Islam? No.

    If you come to Muslim Pakistan someday, and meet and talk with people across the lengths and breadths of my country, you will realise that I'm not an anomaly. The majority does not endorse the killing of the innocents, and they sure as hell do not associate Islam with Osama-ism. The few that do, only say it because they hurt (it feels as though the West keeps finding reasons to attack Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran; even countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Remember Bosnia?), they would never kill a soul. It is only the border areas where this 'war on terrorism' has made life hell, that ordinary people are brain-washed. Let me reinforce: brain-washed. Is it Islam? No.

    But alas, we are all confronted with so many who love to hate us. A case in point: bloggers like Daphne, at

    All I can do is to present the true face of Islam in my own, limited capacity.

  6. Saadia has much to offer here. I hope she returns.

    The simple truth is that extremist terror cannot be beaten with military force alone. Islamist extremism has alot in common with any triumphalist notions, including but not limited to our own homegrown American Christian dominionists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph.

    The US invaded on Iraq on the pretext of Saddam Hussein's support for al Qaida -- intelligence that President Bush now admits was flawed (however, his cherry-picking of "stovepiped" intelligence remains unconfessed). This has done nothing to dry up recruitment of extremist gangs in the Islamic world, and arguably may have contributed to it.

    Our national security goal should not be an inevitably Pyrrhic military triumph over political Islam, but rather an ongoing coordinated dialogue with the Islamic world and the isolation and subseqent disarming and dissolution of its extremist elements.

    Ultimately, the rifts within Islam must be solved by Muslim societies themselves, but the west and its proud liberal enlightenment traditions can assist them without dominating their societies in any military or otherwise oppressive manner.

  7. Here's a relevant overview of things (the Bush administration's genius):

    Let'sHope India doesn't React Like We Did to 9/11.

    Juan Cole makes some valid critiques.