Thursday, 11 May 2017

Identity Crises

Is the Real Muhammad To Be Found in Saudi Arabia?

The Independent has run a story out of Saudi Arabia where a man is on death row for apostasy.  Once a Muslim (as all Saudis are--at least nominally), he has denounced the prophet.  His defence has been that he was insane and drunk on alcohol and under the influence of drugs at the time--thereby going for the trifecta of non compos mentis defences.  His defence and appeals have been rejected. 

None of this is remarkable in an of itself.  That said, it does not lessen the murderous nature of what takes place in Saudi Arabia.  But the Western media, collectively theologically illiterate, always seem to miss the bigger, wider issue.  Maybe deliberately so.  Yes, Saudi Arabia can legitimately be criticized as a totalitarian state.  Yes, its "version" of Islam takes the form of state enforced tyranny, with no freedom of conscience anywhere allowed in the kingdom.  Yes, it is one of the most oppressive, "rogue" states in the world.

But, is Saudi Arabia a consistently Islamic state, or is it heretical, an apostate entity itself, going against the teachings of Muhammad, the Koran, the hadith, and sharia law?  This is the deeper, wider, and most pressing issue.  On this question, Western media and the chattering classes remain deafeningly silent.  The West has refused to face up to the huge elephant in its newsrooms.

Some may argue that Islam is a broad tent.  There are all sorts of Islamic sects and denominations.  Take Saudi Arabia, for example.
 It is extensively infected with Wahhabism, the teachings and doctrines of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.  But, what Wahhabism works to achieve is to see Islam in Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere) return to its original purity and orthodoxy.  In other words, Wahhabism says, if you honestly and truthfully believe in the Prophet, you would follow his prescription that apostates from Islam (once believers, no longer believers; or Islamic people converting to another religion) must be executed.

Where did Muhammad say that, we hear you ask?  In the hadith, the "sayings of the Prophet", which are accepted as being as authoritative as the Koran itself.
In contrast to the Qur'an, some hadith refer to punishments for apostasy.   For example, in the two Sahihs, the most trusted books in Sunni Islam after Quran, punishments for apostasy are described:

Allah's Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims."  [— Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:83:17, see also Sahih Muslim, 16:4152, Sahih Muslim, 16:4154, Sahih Muslim, 20:4490]

Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'  [— Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:260]

A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu'adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu'adh asked, "What is wrong with this (man)?" Abu Musa replied, "He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism." Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle.  [— Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:271]  [Wikipedia]
 In these matters, then, Saudi Arabia is acting consistently with the dominant sect which controls the kingdom when it executes apostates.  "It is the verdict of Allah."

It is true that not all Islamic sects believe this to be correct.  These differences amongst Muslims are why some voices like Ayaan Hirsi Ali call for an Islamic reformation--by which she means a "modernising" of traditional Islamic teachings.  But for this, of course, Hirsi Ali has been condemned to death (in absentia) and lives perpetually under guard.

To criticize Saudi Arabia for its state sponsored murder is only a half-story.  What must happen, for integrity's sake, is for Wahhabism to be exposed, analysed, and rejected.  But--and it is a significant "but"--watch out.  Western media, Western media who dare criticise Wahhabism will be quickly parsed as blaspheming against Allah and his prophet, Muhammad.  They will be put under the ban, along with Salmon Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali and many others.  No doubt that's why the West studiously ignores the elephant.

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