Assumptions About Islam are Rampant
Posted by paulipoldie on November 17, 2010
Posted: 17 Nov 2010 12:13 AM PST
THE FOLLOWING is an excerpt from the excellent book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, by Robert Spencer:
When reading the Koran, it is vitally important to keep in mind that Westerners, whether religious or not, and Muslims often have vastly differing frames of reference, even when considering the same individuals or concepts. Several years ago, former President George W. Bush and Karen Hughes, his former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, issued greetings to the world’s Muslims on the occasion of the Islamic Feast of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
In December 2006, Bush issued a statement that read in part, “For Muslims in America and around the world, Eid al-Adha is an important occasion to give thanks for their blessings and to remember Abraham’s trust in a loving God. During the four days of this special observance, Muslims honor Abraham’s example of sacrifice and devotion to God by celebrating with friends and family, exchanging gifts and greetings, and engaging in worship through sacrifice and charity.”
And the previous January, Hughes had declared:
Eid is a celebration of commitment and obedience to God and also of God’s mercy and provision for all of us. It is a time of family and community, a time of charity….I want to read to you a message from President Bush: “I send greetings to Muslims around the world as you celebrate Eid al-Adha. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham placed his faith in God above all else. During Eid al-Adha, Muslims celebrate Abraham’s devotion and give thanks for God’s mercy and many blessings.”
In speaking of Abraham, even when doing so in the context of Eid al-Adha, Bush and Hughes were probably thinking of Genesis 22:15-18, in which Abraham is rewarded for his faith and told he will become a blessing to the nations: “By your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
But the Muslim audiences that Bush and Hughes were addressing probably did not read Genesis. They read the Koran, in which Allah says that Abraham is an “excellent example” for the believers when he tells his family and other pagans that “there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred forever, unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone” (60:4). The same verse relates that Abraham is not an excellent example when he tells his father, “I will pray for forgiveness for you.”
Thus the Koran, in the passages cited by Bush and Hughes, holds up hatred as exemplary, while belittling the virtue of forgiveness. Bush and Hughes were therefore inadvertently reinforcing a worldview that takes for granted the legitimacy of everlasting enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims — and doing so, naively, while attempting to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims. This demonstrates once again how crucial it is for American policymakers to have a detailed understanding of Islam’s theological and cultural frame of reference, and of the actual teachings of the Koran. For lack of this understanding, careless statements continue to be made, and policy errors keep multiplying.