Unending misinformation

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Islamophobia Views: 6363
6363

On November 25, 2004, the Speakers Action Group, a non-profit organization that wishes to promote a greater understanding among Canadians of events occurring in the Middle East, and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies held a panel discussion entitled, "Global Terrorism: Inside the Mind of the Jihadist." The keynote speaker was Dr. Bruce Tefft, a former counter-terrorism expert for the CIA and a current counter-terrorism and intelligence adviser for the New York City Police Department. 

During his speech, Dr. Tefft said many things which deeply disturbed me. According to the article about his comments in the Canadian Jewish News, Dr. Tefft said, "To pretend that Islam has nothing to do with Sept. 11 is to willfully ignore the obvious and to forever misinterpret events." He said that while there may be moderate Muslims, Islam itself is immoderate: "There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism, which is a totalitarian construct." According to Dr. Tefft, all infidels are to be converted, enslaved, or killed by Muslims. He said that the Quran must be accepted on a literal basis if a Muslim is to be a true believer. He also said that Islam views Judaism and Christianity as failed religions and itself as the only true faith. 

It is astonishing to see that such Islamophobic views are freely touted by people who claim to have expertise and knowledge about counter-terrorism and intelligence. Dr. Tefft's statement that all infidels are to be converted, enslaved, or killed is completely inaccurate. The Quran is unequivocal in its defense of religious freedom: "There is no compulsion in (matters of) religion..." (Quran 2:256). Furthermore, the Quran says that the reason Muslims may have to take up arms in a just war, as a last resort, is to defend the sanctity of all houses of worship: "If God did not defend one set of people by means of another, then monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure, would surely have been destroyed..." (Quran 22:40). If Islam's aim is to convert, enslave, or kill all non-Muslims, why would it put Muslim lives in danger to defend non-Muslim houses of worship? 

The Muslim faithful are not required to accept the Quran on a literal basis if they are to be true Muslims. The Quran itself says that not every verse of the Quran is to be taken literally: "He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical" (Quran 3:7). Quite obviously, these "allegorical verses," by their very nature, are not supposed to be taken literally. In fact, the Quran mentions that "those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings" (Quran 3:7). Thus, I truly do not know from where Dr. Tefft learned that Muslims must accept the Quran on a literal basis to be true Muslims. Now, It is true that there are many Muslims who take an entirely literalist approach to the Quran, but the interpretations of these Muslims cannot be projected upon the entire community of Muslim faithful. 

Islam does not see Judaism and Christianity as failed religions. It is true that the Quran calls the followers of the earlier revelation to accept the prophet-hood of Muhammad . It is true that the Quran does not accept the notion of the Jews being the "chosen people" of God in exclusion of all others. It is true that the Quran rejects the notion of the divinity of Jesus and the concept of the Trinity. The Quran does this because it sees itself as the final message from God to mankind, and thus it seeks to correct the deviations from the original messages of Moses and Jesus, respectively. 

Yet, despite these rather tough stands, the Quran does not denigrate either faith. There is no statement in the Quran that issues a blanket condemnation of Jews or Christians. None. In fact, the Quran says, "Those who believe (in the Quran), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" (Quran 2:62)

Now, if one wants to twist various verses of the Quran and misquote them; if one wants to quote various verses of the Quran out of context; if one wants to outright mistranslate various verses of the Quran, he will find ample "evidence" of all of what Dr. Tefft said about Islam. In fact, the suicidal militants of Islam do exactly that in their justification for the murder of innocent men, women, and children throughout the world. I agree with Dr. Tefft that, "To pretend that Islam has nothing to do with Sept. 11 is to willfully ignore the obvious." Those who committed the atrocity that is September 11 have twisted Islam into a monstrous abomination that calls for the murder of the innocent. Yet, that is the whole point: it is a distortion of Islam. The "Islam" that Dr. Tefft said was inextricably linked to September 11 is the "immoderate Islam" of the terrorists, not the true Islam of the believers, not the true Islam of the Prophet Muhammad

In reality, the things which Dr. Tefft reportedly said about Islam are not new. They are the same tired old misconceptions about Islam that have been present for decades if not centuries. Although I was extremely saddened by the things he reportedly said about Islam, all it goes to show is that we Muslims still have a lot of work to do. A whole lot of work to do.

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and writer. He is author of "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale Press), winner of the prestigious Wilbur Award for 2003 Best Religion Book of the Year by the Religion Communicators Council.


  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Islamophobia
Views: 6363

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Older Comments:
AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
Alex Ismetovic: Assalaam'Alaiykum. As you come here to attempt to draw some sort of silly, childish reaction out of me with your hostile words and disgusting hatred towards me, I would like to tell you that neither do you know me at all, nor do I know you. For you to "think" you know me is different from really knowing the truth about me. Regardless, that has nothing to do with your comments. You simply post hate filled comments towards me because you have nothing better to do with your time. It is really immature of you to talk about burning bodies and rapes and what not, when you know nothing about me or my character. What I can tell you is that the Prophet (saaw), after seeing the mutilation of his loved Uncle Hamza (ra), the Prophet was commanded by Allah to practice restraint, instead of seeking an equal punishment for the one who committed the mutilation against the Prophet's (saaw) uncle. What I am trying to tell you is, that the Prophet did not kill or murder or mutilate Hindi for what she did to Hamza (ra), rather he spared her life and called her towards Islam. Upon entering Makkah with 10,000 of his companions, Muhammad Mustafa (saaw) did not shed any blood of the people of Makkah even though the Muslims faced such staunch resistance and attacks while the Muslims strengthened themselves in Madinah.

Keep acting as if you KNOW me, because in fact what you fail to recognize is that only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows each and every one of us and what is concealed in our hearts. I do not sit there mocking you talking about your family being raped? Regardless I know this will not have any change on you, so I ask you to come out of your anger and hate filled state and find the peace and serenity and sincerity of al-deen al-Islaam. Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be to you.
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AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
Alex Ismetovic: Assalaam'Alaiykum. As you come here to attempt to draw some sort of silly, childish reaction out of me with your hostile words and disgusting hatred towards me, I would like to tell you that neither do you know me at all, nor do I know you. For you to "think" you know me is different from really knowing the truth about me. Regardless, that has nothing to do with your comments. You simply post hate filled comments towards me because you have nothing better to do with your time. It is really immature of you to talk about burning bodies and rapes and what not, when you know nothing about me or my character. What I can tell you is that the Prophet (saaw), after seeing the mutilation of his loved Uncle Hamza (ra), the Prophet was commanded by Allah to practice restraint, instead of seeking an equal punishment for the one who committed the mutilation against the Prophet's (saaw) uncle. What I am trying to tell you is, that the Prophet did not kill or murder or mutilate Hindi for what she did to Hamza (ra), rather he spared her life and called her towards Islam. Upon entering Makkah with 10,000 of his companions, Muhammad Mustafa (saaw) did not shed any blood of the people of Makkah even though the Muslims faced such staunch resistance and attacks while the Muslims strengthened themselves in Madinah.

Keep acting as if you KNOW me, because in fact what you fail to recognize is that only Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala knows each and every one of us and what is concealed in our hearts. I do not sit there mocking you talking about your family being raped? Regardless I know this will not have any change on you, so I ask you to come out of your anger and hate filled state and find the peace and serenity and sincerity of al-deen al-Islaam. Peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be to you.
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A. ISMETOVIC FROM NETHERLANDS said:
I do not think Akbar Khan has ever endured least the racist taunts, let alone the massacre and heinous torture of Muslims at the hands of Russians, Americans, Israel, India, French, British, the hypocrite governments of Algeria and African states, Burma the list goes on. May be Akbar Khan can countenance seeing the rotting corpses of his family or his brother, sister or mother raped or witness old Muslim men and women being beaten with iron rods, breaking their bones. Most humans I know would not turn the other cheek or find it anywhere in their soul to cry "Tolerance" for that word makes my stomach turn. I would rather die fighting to protect my family and my beliefs than live cowering like a pig ingratiating itself to the butcher to prevent getting slaughtered.
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AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
Assalaat'wassalaam-Alaiyk,

I concur with Bethany L. Lotfi! :-D

TOLERANCE TOLERANCE TOLERANCE WE NEED IT OH FELLOW BELIEVERS...PLEEESE, it doesn't cost anything, free for all, just create the intention with sincerity and the ball will start rolling from there on.

Wassalaat'Wassalaam-Alaiyk!
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BETHANY L LOTFI FROM USA said:
I think the author of the article said it all. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Those that do not accept Islam within these realms have a distorted concept of it.
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AHMED FROM UK said:
Morland needs to learn how to read, if he's so worried about the "protocols" how can he explain the genocidal terrorism encouraged in the Talmud ?
These judeo-christo terrorists must be stopped.
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MUKHLIS FROM HONG KONG said:
This man Tafft seams to be daft or a big liar.

If 10 or 20 persons carried out 9/11, how he can connect 'Islam' to this incident ? Doesn't he know there are more than 2 billion Muslims in the world ?

First of all no one knows whether those who are now charged in the media as responsible for WTC attacks were criminals or innocent passengers. All are dead so the poor souls can not defend themselves. This is just unproven theory.

If they were really madmen responsible, then no one has come out with a plausible explanation who facilitated such a coordinated and perfectly timed operation. No one asks why Mossad did not ring the bell when they were reportedly shadowing this group.

Most independent minded people suspect neocons & zionists as the facilitator of this inhuman act. Why ? they are the sole beneficiary of demonizing Islam and all 2 billion Muslims.

As for the Holy Qur'an, it is full of sermons about honesty, fairness, kindness, brotherhood, humility - a great treatise on ethics & morality. But Quer'an also has narration of wars and conflicts and the activities of enemies of the faith and hypocrites. These sections have to be read in the context of the events and the times that were prevailing. One can not just pick one ayah out of context and spin a lie.

If the Tafft (daft ) doesn't understand this simple thing - who gave him a Doctorate ? and in what ?

Brother Khysuddin's advice is excellent. We have to spread the truth to those who have an open mind.

Mukhlis.
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KHAYSUDDIN FROM USA said:
I have a story to tell you. Today, as I commuted in traffic from work I saw two cars very near each other (they were literally in the same lane). One had a bumber sticker that said 'nukeislam.' Highly offensive, of course. The other had a bumper sticker that said, simply "Allah". This really happened, I'm not making it up.
As someone who has just come into the fold, I have to tell you it is unnerving how much misinformation there is out there. Some of it is willful, intentional misinformation spread by hatemongers whose motivation is rascist and xenophobic. Some of it is historical (e.g. misinformation that dates from so long ago it is well embedded in th popular consciousness). And some of it is personal, people draw the wrong conclusions without due investigation of the facts.
The real question is, what do we do about it? Do we accept it fatalistically as inevitable? Do we hope that by providing a good example people will somehow come around? Do we get angry, shout and point the finger?
No. We should do none of those things. They aren't effective. What we really need to do is proactively tell people what Islam really is, what it is about and separate it from this meta-fictional Islam that is the zeitgeist of America today.
How do we do this? A number of ways: 1) talk openly about it and share your ideas with your friends and colleagues.
2) Hold classes open to the public
3) Hold forums for discussion open to the public
4) Form organizations that work to prevent Islamic defamation (a Muslim B'nai Berith , if you will) and lobby politically.
5) Form organizations to build bridges to the other Abrahamic religions (Jews and Christians)-they are people of the book, after all.
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MUJEEB BASHA FROM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, USA said:
American-Muslims are finally standing up for their right to be heard, and the Christian fundamentalist and Jewish-Zionist elements in America are scared stiff. They fully realize the natural appeal that Islam has to those who approach it with an open mind. That is the reason why speaking venues by so-called experts on Islam are held nowadays. Quite frankly, they are inadvertently encourage debate and inquiry into Islam. Again, if a person approaches Islam with an open mind, Insha Allah, they will recieve guidance from their Lord to follow His true commandments.
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ALI FROM USA said:
The days following 9/11, I had read in the newspapers the accounts detailing the movements of Mohammad Atta and his cohorts, that they drank alcohol in a bar just the day(s) prior to 9/11. I don't remember the source of this information, but I do remember asking myself what person that calls himself a Muslim would drink alcohol.
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MASOOD DUNKLE FROM USA said:
This article is problematic. The author was not present at
the lecture and based his comments on an article about the
event. While the quoted comments of Tefft are disturbing,
but as far as reviews go, it is better to be present or have
the transcripts in hand. My comments are about reportage,
and not the event itself.

m.d.
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ABDULLAH FROM USA said:
I did not read the full contents of the article but merely the title
and suggestion that others are to blame for the misinformation
regarding Islam (because there certainly is misinformation) falls
short of the truth. I come to this site to peruse the news articles
on the right side of the page. They are nearly always full of
misinformation, lies, and blatant propganda against the United
States, Isreal, and anyone else who will not submit to Islam. For
a site that claims to represent Islam and to post articles against
misinformation, this site is as guilty as the United States or
Isreal. Until Muslims quit spreading misinformation about
others how can they expect others to stop spreading
misinformation about them. You see, people look at the
character of a people and make decisions based upon this.
While Muslims certainly are among the most law abiding citizens
anywhere in the world, their love and propagation of conspiracy
theories even by purportedly educated websites such as
Islamicity naturally fosters outsiders to believe the bad rumors
about Islam because through their propagation these Muslims or
websites loose credibility. People tend to believe the negative
(just human nature) and as such without credibility through
complete honesty (i.e. not furthering conspiracy theories
regarding the United States (only in ME for oil) or Isreal (no right
to their God given land, yes it is mentioned in the Quran) those
who continue to paint Muslims as bad will be believed over
Muslims who say they are good.
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AYESHA FROM USA said:
I agree that we all have a lot of work to do to inform others(non Muslims)of our way of life. However there is so much you can do in terms of speech. The rest is up to us to practice Islam as best we can and set an example for others such that they are interested, not threatened by it.
Ofcourse their misguided and futile attempt for "freedom" and all they think it will bring will likely stop every non Muslim, in my humble opinion to search for the truth (Islam).
They are just blinded by their convictions that "freedom" is attainable only by listening to and falling prey to their personal desires/whims/fantasies. Ofcourse that is a farce, since the only way we will be free is to willfully submit ourselves to the will of Allah and make peace with the world.
Until they realize that, Islam will always seem at loggerheads to the non believer.
In summary, yes, we still have a lot of work to do, but it starts with practice to set an example for others that most of us live moderately, work hard just like everyone else and want the same for our neighbour.
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M FROM USA said:
You are assuming that 9 11 is carried out by members of the islamic background. There is no evidence for that yet.

No one I have heard of had justified 9 11. It is a crime. "Jihadists" however, are the people who took the task to fight injustices in the world.
May Allah give victory to the good.
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AKBAR KHAN FROM CANADA said:
I too am deeply saddened that a man of such a high status in our society who claims to be an expert on Islam has wrongly condemned it by saying that it is a strict literal interpretation. It is obvious to any Mu'min that the Qur'an cannot be interpreted literally, and must be thought about carefully with much contemplation over its verses, allegorically as the Qur'an does command. This is absolutely true since the Qur'an is written as poetry. The deniers of the prophethood of Muhammad (saaw) in Makkah during the time of Jahilliya (ignorance) were astonished to read the Qur'an and described it as POETRY, the most beautiful poetry they had ever read, and were mind-boggled thinking to themselves, how did this man, Muhammad (saaw) speak of such beautiful poetry when he was illiterate? Well it came to be known to the entire world that he received it from God. That the Qur'an is not the word of our Prophet Muhammad (saaw), but the word of God, Allah azza wa jaal.

I have Christian and Jewish friends who would find Dr. Tefft comments offensive. Who is he to speak on behalf of Muslims? I think he needs to go learn Arabic first before he releases anymore ignorant words from his mouth again about Islam.

I too am deeply saddened that such an event took place in my country, Canada, and I also agree with you br. Hesham Hassaballa that we still have a lot of work ahead of us.
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NURAINI FROM MALAYSIA said:
Tell me about it. I was in a discussion board where someone opened a topic about Islam which is completely strange to me: saying things like mosques are barred to women and that everything in Islam is ironclad and black and white, when really only the basics are and so much has been open to discussion throughout the centuries. I am completely perplexed about this strange religion they speak of, that is supposed to be mine!
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PAUL MORLAND FROM UK said:
If this article is correct (which it may be) why can you buy works like The Protocols of Zion, which are incitements to genocide, on Islamic websites such as this one?
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SAMIA FROM USA said:
Its sad that people who are supposed to be the educated have so little knowledge on thing they claim to be expert in but we can't stop from praticing the first amendent but what we can do is use that same amendment to speak for ourselves. so we muslims have a lot of work to, we can't affoard to ignore it for the sake of islam and our new and up coming generations' future
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ALI FROM BC, CANADA said:
I agree with the writer. It is an excellent rebuttle of Dr. Tefft who is a doctor yet his thinking is like an ignorant person. You must know what you stand up and say.
Thank you for clearing some of the points. I am saddened to say that the Muslims have not yet correctly disseminated the true meaning of Islam. That will only be done if we know what Islam is all about. Read the Quran and understand, not just take the literal meaning of the word to suit your purpose but to understand the context that the ayaah was revealed.
Lets take steps to learn and to teach.
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