This letter was sent to me from an apostate living in Europe. He has asked me to publish it.
The more I go through the online videos of your media interventions, the more I am astonished by the way many Americans attack you.
Being an ex-muslim — ie: a European who converted to Islam in his youth, who lived in the muslim ummah, travelled and studied in depth Arabic and islamic jurisprudence — your arguments are very clear to me, whilst the arguments of your critics fail to make any sense to me.
To be sure, there are many points on which you and I would disagree — that is, strongly disagree — but this is exactly the reason why I think that you are one of the very few interlocutors I could speak with to share my personal experience — others would be Robert Spencer and Horowitz.
Of course, having been a muslim for so long I can't avoid looking at these issue from both a muslim perspective and a westerner perspective. Almost three decades of islamic faithful devotion don't disappear just because I've left Islam — I can still think like a muslim and analyze problems from an islamic perspective. On the other hand, my European upbringing is something that has never left me, that wasn't wiped away only because I embraced Islam.
Today I can say that my life experience has led me to a new perspective which manages to gain lessons from all that I've learned and went through. This is why I've embraced libertarianism; and, as many libertarian thinkers pointed out, libertarianism can be seen as a kind of religion because it rises the values of freedom and liberty at the highest level — nothing should stand in the way of any man and his freedom as an impediment to his right to exercise and enjoy his self-determination as long as he/she doesn't infringe others' freedom.
Therefore, being a person that values freedom and liberty I know that the best way to ensure freedom is to help those who think differently from ourselves in promoting their ideas, because freedom dies under the hegemony of thought and not under variety of ideas. Yet, this argument — once so dear to the American people — doesn't seem to cross the minds of those who attack you amongst your fellow citizens. And you are right when you say that most of your critics act out of fear of Islam — probably, when they deny it they are lying to themselves.
To all those non-muslims who like to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and that islamic-related violence is the result of the misinterpretation of islamic teaching carried out by a minority, I'd like to invite them to reflect on some issues which come from my direct experience of Islam.
Everybody probably knows that muslims have 5 obligatory prayers each day. Each prayer has a set number of rak'at — ie: standing up, bowing down, sitting, bowing and then standing up again — so that in total there are 17 rak'at (2+4+4+3+4) minimum in a muslim's day — yet, with extra supererogatory prayers, the number of rak'at goes easily up to a 100 per day. In each rak'ah, during the prayer, the muslims recite Surat al-Fatihah, the opening chapter of the Qur'an. The text of this surah embodies the mindset of the muslim and it is a slef-reminder of the meaning of life and the conduct he/she should follow in this life.
So, let's have a look at the text of surah al-Fatihah:
(1) Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds,
(2) The Beneficent, the Merciful,
(3) Master of the day of Requital.
(4) Thee do we serve and Thee do we beseech for help.
(5) Guide us on the right path,
(6) The path of those upon whom Thou hast bestowed favours,
(7) Not those upon whom wrath is brought down, nor those who go astray.
These 7 verses remind the muslim where he/she stands in this life and the next one. It begins by praising Allah, the one God, Lord of the world, which is a reminder of the monotheistic islamic view. In the second verse, the distinction between God's attributes Beneficent (ar-Rahman) and Merciful (ar-Rahim) is subtle and difficult to render into English; some scholars said that the first refers to His mercy in this life, to all creatures, while the second refers to His mercy in the hereafter, therefore only to the muslims (including all true believers before Muhammad, which muslims consider as muslims)
Verses 3 and 4 remind the duty of devoting this life to obedience of His Will and relying on Him.
In verse 5 the muslim asks to be led on the straight path (as-Sirat al-Mustaqim) which is explained as being a bridge over the Hell fire that each muslim will have to cross in the day of Judgment, the success or failure in the task reflecting the conduct in this life.
Verse 6 clearly states that this path is reserved to those who are the chosen people of Allah, those who have been bestowed with the grace of the guidance of Muhammad and the holy Coran.
Verse 7 reminds the muslims that such a path is not the path of "those who have incurred in the Wrath of Allah" — ie: the Jews, which are considered wicked and treacherous people — nor "those who have gone astray" — ie: the Christians who are considered polytheists because of their distortions of monotheism.
Now, the point I am trying to make is that it only requires to think over these 7 verses to gain an insight into the muslim mindset. Can't you see how muslims prove their «being right» by «proving» others wrong? Muslims, basically speaking, magnify themselves by diminishing the Jews and the Christians.
This is not a minor issue — and surely it is not a minor one for the muslims, who every day, over and over again, recite these verses reminding themselves how lucky they are being on the right path, unlike Jews and Christians. And what is the proof that they are on the right path? Obviously, it is that they are not on the path of the Jews and the Christians!
Now, any libertarian knows that the at the foundation of all forms of racism lies these very dynamics: Nazis magnified the arian race by diminishing the Jews, gypsies, and so on; White supremacists "prove" themselves superiors by diminishing blacks. It is so easy to trick oneself into being big if you manage to make the other seem small — all it needs is a scapegoat!
Anyone who is wiling to study islamic litterature — ancient or modern, books, conferences or sermons — can't fail to notice the same pattern of surah al-Fatihah reproposing itself over and over again: the main concern is always the «treacherous Jewish enemy» altering the scriptures and conspiring against the muslism, and the «stupid emotional Christians» sabotaging the world with their emotions and lack of intellect. If you fail to see this pattern you must be blind.
This point can never be stressed enough! Christians don't go around diminishing others to proof they are the good guys. On the contrary, their arguments are based on the moral charecteristics of Jesus: they claim to be good because of the good things Jesus did, not because others were scumbags. The Jews either don't profess their being the chosen ones by demostranting that the rest ot the world are worthless.
Just to be clear: I am not a Christian nor a Jew, I don't like either of these religions neither they disturb me.
Only hate-based political movements build their ideological empire by pointing fingers at others — like the Nazis, the fascists, the colonial empires, the slave traders, and other similar historical examples which us Westeners look at as shameful episodes of our history.
Islam is a religion which builds on scapegoating.
When you look at the islamic prophecies of the end of the days, what you will find are depictions of a global conflict caused by the Jews who spread corruption on Earth until the point that Christian and Muslism will fight them in a Holy War in which the Mahdi will lead the Muslims, until Jesus comes back and leads both the Muslims and the Christian into the final Jihad against the Jews.
In a series of well know hadiths, Muhammad foretells that on the final days Jews will hide behind stones and trees but the stone and the tree will speak and shout "Oh Muslim, a Jew is hidying behind me!" and the Muslim will go and kill the Jew; except for a particular tree which is "the tree of the Jews".
Similar "prophecies" are fulfilling: how can you expect peace between muslims and Jews if the muslims have the expectations of a final war against the conspiring Jews? You must look at these prophecies as PRESCRIPTIVE texts, rather that descriptive — because they shape the future by shaping the expectations the muslims have, and the muslims would never dissapoint their Prophet!
This hadith has been often quoted by critics of Islam for its obvious viciousness. What many people fail to grasp is the underlying implications of the Arabic language of the hadith.
For those initiated to the rethorics of Islam, it is a well known fact that the tree is a symbol that refers to genealogical tree — ie: Jews will be tracked down and identified by their surnames. It is a known fact that for centuries Jews have not been allowed to have gentile surnames, and that nazis and fascists compiled lists of jewish surnames in order to keep track of them. Here in Europe, in many states it is still not possible to change more than one or two letters in a surname, and these laws root back to the laws of the ghettos or to the fascist laws.
I can assure you that in my journeys up and down the muslim world I've seen many times lists of jewish surnames being passed amongst imams. Every time a westener converts to Islam someone inside the muslim community will start to check his family surnames as far up in the genealogy as they can — and I am speaking about the "clerics", about those who lead and guard the muslim community, not of the layman of laywoman. So many times during closed meetings I've seen that a muslim candidate —ie: a person that someone proposed to be «initiated» and involved in the «inner circles», was rejected on the bases that there were suspicions because of his surname being Jewish.
This is the climate of paranoia under which the islamic inner circles operate. It is a know fact that, according to the most classical islamic texts, a jewish convert to Islam is not permitted to occupy offices of power until many years have past (some say 10, others 20, and so on) because "precautions are always best" when dealing with Jews — even ex-Jews.
Again, all this is implicit in the opening verses of the Quran — the Jews, in the islamic view of the world, are people who have enraged Allah, who constantly conspire, who poisoned Muhammad, and so on.
Many American might not like what I am saying, they might prefer to imagine that Islam is a friendly religion. But it is not so. Surely, many muslims might not share this worldview I've shown you, after all many muslims grown in the USA don't speak arabic and didn't study islamic «sciences» as I did — many did not even travel the muslim world, as a fact.
And I want to be clear on one point: we don't live with Islam, we live with the muslims. Islam is a set of ideas and practices, and without the people who carry and put into practice these ideas Islam would not exist. Every muslim has a choice regarding the level of devotion he/she might invest into his religion and how much to invest in the culture which he/she shares with the other people of his land. So, you will find lots of muslims who will reject any theory that sustains conspirancy theories of Jews ruling the world through a secret government, and so on.
But I warn you: the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad contain the seeds of a hate culture. History is the best witness to what I am saying. Plant these seeds in any land, and if you «water them» with enough knowledge of Arabic language and classical textbooks, you'll end up always with the same islam that we've seen in history from the time of Muhammad to the present day.
Don't be naive, muslims take very literally their sacred texts. For example, everyone knows that beside the Quran the muslims rely on hadith for knowledge. So far, many non-muslims have understood the importance of hadith and have devoted much time to dig into them and read their contents. But what they have failed to do is to look at the method of hadith!
You might have noticed that each hadith comes along with a full chain of transmission that provides the names of all its narrators. The Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari is considered the soundest collection of hadith. When a muslim starts to study hadith, amongst the first anecdotes he's taught on the science of hadith is that of Imam al-Bukhari who travelled a long way to collect a hadith he heard of. But, since al-Bukhari did know the man who related the hadith, he though well of studying the man from far away before aproaching him to get the hadith from him. So he hid and he watched him in secret, and he saw that the man wanted to call his horse and therefore showed him some hay to attact the horse, but when the horse got near he droped the hay and captured the horse. So al-Bukhari sayd "He is a liar!" if he lied to his horse he was not to be trusted.
Now, what is the teaching in this story? If you studied hadith from books, probably nothing. But if you studied hadith from a qualified scholar — ie: from a living person — then you'll realize that through this story you are being initiated into the world of the "guardians of the religion" — and the teaching is: to preserve Islam, muslims have always been spying on each other.
You think it's farfetched? Then check it out for yourself: there is the science of "Al-'Adl wa al-Jarh", which is the recording of the sound people and the fakes amongst those who claim to be scholars of Islam. There are huge colletions of books in which scholars have recorded the people of each generation, mentioning those who were lyars and those who were honest, so that the coming generations could be able to look them up and see who was who in the midst of the religious debates.
In every classical manual for Qadis (judges) you'll find in the first chapters mention of the al-Muzakki as-Sirry (the secret "purifier"), which refers to the secret informats that each Islamic Judge has at his service. They are not scholars, even though often they are students of the Qadi, but more often they are just very honest laymen who the Judge can rely on to gather intelligence on the various witnesses and participants in the court case, so that he might have some insight into their social reputation and how reliable their witnessing is.
Islam is a religion which relies heavily on intel for its functioning. This is something that should be clear to anyone who reflects on how the science of hadith works. So, the scholars rely on intelligence to safeguard the teachings and to discern amongst their contemporary colleagues — to know who is sincere and who is corrupt. Then the government relies on intelligence because every government does. Which means that all the Jihad networks use community intelligence to protect themselves, to select people, to gain logistical support, ecc. This is common sense, yet most people never mention it because they fail to see how compact and military-style the muslim community is.
To many people this aspect of Islam might not be apparent, but I assure you that inside the muslim community the issue is very hot. At a basic level, everyone speaks about everyone else — mainly to praise, but often also to warn — and, as the old Arabic proverb goes "li kulli saqitah lahiqah" (for every dropped [word] there is a picking [ear]". On higher levels, amongst those who run the scene in the muslim communities, gathering intelligence plays a main role in the organizing and safeguarding of the community. It is reported in the Muwatta of Malik that Omar sayd "Let's backbite in the name of Allah!", which is commented by the scholars as meaning that muslim leaders should discuss all issues of the people without fear of being harming their reputiation.
If you knew how tight is the intelligence network of the islamic communities around the globe, you'd shiver much more than you do when you learn about the existence of this or that jihad training camp — after all, any muslim who wants to learn military skills could just as well join the local army.
Behind the facade of the front-men of Islam, those who go on Tv preaching openly about Islam, there is a hidden world of concentric layers of invisibility. Each layers can see the outer layers, but those in the outer layers can't perceive what goes on in the inner layers. It was Ali, the Companion and Caliph, who sayd "Speak to the people according to what they know". One of its meanings being that some things are not to be shared with everyone in the community. The military intelligence principle of "Need to know" is a well known and applied principle in islamic management of the community.
The islamic ummah is so well knitted that a religious student, or a scholar, can travel the world relying entirely on his muslim fellows, and do so without calling attention to himself. Those who are inside the circles of knlowdge can gather information on any other muslims at request. This is a fundamental function inside Islam. Whenever someone comes from abroad to deliver an islamic speech or a conference, the local scholars and students have the duty to gather information on this person: who is he? who did he study with? who does he give alliance to? and so on.
Anyhow, going back to the core issue — ie: how the West should relate to Islam — my advice is to insist on the same basic pinciples which we apply to each other, and not making special exceptions when it come to muslism.
In the West, when we relate to each other and there are social conflicts, we don't expect Christian or Jewish citizens to prove their point by citing their holy books, do we? We expect each other to be relating on the same social grounds, to discuss by using the law and the established norms as a reference point and common ground.
So, why is it that there is this frenzic search for "the good muslim scholars" who can proof that the Quran forbids killing innocents, and so on? If we relate to muslims through the Quran we have already lost our freedom!
You'll always find some scholar willing to subscribe this or that policy, because islam has many different schools of thoughts and opinions, and because muslims are quite clever at playing with words and make you believe what you want to ear. The point is that being citizens of the same country implies accepting the same rules. Since freedom means that we can all enjoy our thoughs and beliefs, it also implies that we'll also find people expressing believes that will offend us — that is the price of freedom.
But when it come to muslims, you find always the same problem: they don't know what RECIPROCITY means! They can burn all the flags they like, they can depict Jews as pigs, smash crosses and burn churches, but if we draw a cartoon of Muhammad they react by killing people in the muslim lands and "going outraged" in the west. And, beware, even when they demonstrate peacefully against the draw-muhammad-cartoons, they are still undermining the principles of liberty and freedom!
Any intelligent westener, when he sees the most groce manifestations of thought — which offends him! — is reminded of the great gift of freedom we have! Even when we see people parading in nazi uniforms we are thankful that we have such freedom of expression — no matter how much we despise what we see!!
Muslims are outraged if we call "islamic terrorism" an act carried out by muslism who claim to be doing it in the name of islam and even back it up with islamic proofs. But when Pastor Jones burned a Quran the muslims accused the whole Western society for that "crime" — point is: Pastor Jones acted as an individual, and not with the mandate of the USA or the West. And, YES, even if I dislike what he did I defend his right to do it! I would never do it (as I would never burn a Bible either) but I should die to defend his right to do so. I believe in private property, so once he has aquired a printed copy of the Quran it is HIS book and he can do as he pleases with it. End of story.
Muslims kill apostates wherever they can do it and get away with it, but when a Christian converts to Islam they don't complain do they? Here in Europe, for example, if a Christian or a Muslim wants to embrace Judaism, the synagogue first contacts the church or mosque to which the person belonged to (if). Not only there is no reciprocity, there is also a lack of "good-neighbours" manners.
Muslims are very eager to claim their rights (especially the human rights) but whenever they feel offended in the religion they don't esitate to take with force and threats what they can't take otherwise, or what they believe has to be dealt with Shariah and not with the "kafir laws" which they so often invoke to their need and advantage — what a shameless double standard! Yet, so many American non-muslim are ready to attack anyone who critices Islam — like Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and so on.
I could speak for months about classical islamic texts that would leave you — and the average uneducated muslim — without words, showing you aspects of Islam and the workings of the islamic community that you didn't even imagine they extist, because what you are seeing and confronting now is just the tip of the iceberg, believe me! But I will not fo so, because you are not going to win this battle through islamic debates, this clash of cultures does not require you to fight with your enemy's weapons (the Quran and the Sunnah)!
You have a magnificent constitution — no matter how imperfect the American reality is! — and if the Founding Fathers were alive today they'd be outraged by what is going on in the USA on the Islamic issue! They fought so that every person could enjoy freedom of religion, not so that a religion might have more rights over the others.
Yet: people who want to leave Islam face life-risks in the USA, and if some citizens set up a support network for muslims apostates you accuse them of promoting hate, instead of applauding them for defending freedom of choice! Freedom of choice means also the freedom to change once mind. If you deny the possiblity of apostasy then you are supporting voluntary servitude!
What is wrong with you? You go mad if someone depicts Muhammad in an offensive way, but you say nothing when muslims attack homosexuals?! Have you forgotten the difference between words and pictures, on the one hand, and the fists and knifes on the other? Words offend, knifes injure. There lies the division line between freedom of expression and violence.
How many homosexuals fled from muslim countries hoping to find safety in the western world, only to discover that many Americans nowadays are more preoccupied in defending the honour of Muhammad instead of the personal safety of people who are persecuted by ruthless religios orthodoz?
Untill the muslims will react with violence to the muhammad cartoons, all those who love freedom should defend those who draw them! I personally don't consider good taste despising others' religious symbols or people because, as I said in the beginning, I don't magnify myself by belittling others. But if freedom is at stake, then I know where I stand and which side to chose.
I am afraid that the currents debates on Islam in the USA have already undermined the spirit in which the American Constitution was written. Most critics of Pamela Geller portray by their actions an America which has already lost in front of Islam: today you are giving up your principles and dividing amongst yourselfs in front of the muslims, tomorrow Shari'ah will replace your system of check and balances. If you lose your method, you lose your culture!
I'll close this letter with a marvelous quotation from our Western civilization:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
— Edmund Burke.
All my support to Pamela!
Abdul-Hurriyah (The Slave of Freedom)
"There is no God but Freedom, and everyone can be is Messenger!"