Instead of directing their ire at the Islamic supremacists who are destroying centuries-old cultural artifacts, the PuffHo, true to form, is blaming me for telling the truth about what is really going on there.
Timbuktu: What It Really Tells Us Llewelyn Morgan HuffPo July 9
Pamela Geller is not someone you naturally go to for balanced coverage of Islamic issues (she has expressed the view that "Islam is the most antisemitic, genocidal ideology in the world", for example), but in a recent tweet (linking to her blog) on the appalling vandalism to mosques and mausolea in Timbuktu, Mali, Geller excelled even herself: "Mali Muslims destroy holy Timbuktu sites: witnesses: It's the same everywhere that Muslims seek to impose Islam..."
What Geller failed to mention was that the "holy Timbuktu sites" under assault were themselves Islamic sites, thus hardly the victims of "Muslims imposing Islam". In reality, what is happening in Timbuktu is one group within the broad spectrum of Islam violently imposing its blinkered ideology on another tradition in Islam with which it disagrees. The group carrying out the destruction, Ansar al-Din ("Defenders of the Faith"), are Salafist or Wahhabi Muslims, drawing their inspiration, like al-Qaeda, from schools particularly influential in the Arabian Peninsula (though currently showing a worrying capacity to seed themselves elsewhere). The traditions of worship in Timbuktu are Sufi, Islamic mysticism considered idolatrous by fundamentalist groups such as Ansar al-Din.
This shouldn't need to be spelled out or repeated, but 11 years after 9/11 it unfortunately still does: al-Qaeda and other extremist forms of Islamism influenced by the Wahhabi or Salafist schools may claim to represent a pure form of Islam, may even be claimed by Pamela Geller to represent Islam in its purest form, but they have as much right to insist that theirs is the only true Islam as the Quran-burning pastor in Florida is to make that claim of his version of Christianity.
To equate the Salafists and Wahhabis to Terry Jones is amazingly ignorant or inexcusably dishonest. In fact, these groups and others like them have attained great success in the Islamic world by claiming to represent true Islam -- a claim that goes largely unchallenged by the peaceful moderates that Llewelyn Morgan would like to imagine are the dominant mainstream, even as Muslim country after Muslim country falls to pro-Sharia Islamic supremacists. Robert Spencer at PJ Media notes two traditions of Muhammad:
Ansar Dine has ample support from within Islamic tradition for considering these shrines to be idolatrous, even though they commemorate Muslim heroes. According to a hadith attributed to Aisha, Muhammad’s favorite wife and notorious child bride, as Muhammad lay dying, “he drew his sheet upon his face and when he felt uneasy, he uncovered his face and said in that very state: Let there be curse upon the Jews and the Christians that they have taken the graves of their apostles as places of worship. He in fact warned (his men) against what they (the Jews and the Christians) did” (Sahih Muslim 1082).
Another tradition has the dying Muhammad saying, “Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians, for they built the places of worship at the graves of their prophets,” and Aisha adding: “And if that had not been the case, then the Prophet’s grave would have been made prominent before the people. So (the Prophet) was afraid, or the people were afraid that his grave might be taken as a place for worship” (Sahih Bukhari 2.23.472).
The shrines that the Islamic supremacists in Mali are destroying are centered on the tombs of Muslim holy men. In fact, Timbuktu has long been known as "the city of 333 saints," and has been a center of pilgrimage for Muslims who go to pray at the tombs of these saints. But since Muhammad tells Muslims not to pray at the tombs of saints, Muslim hardliners like Ansar Dine consider it their Islamic duty to destroy these tombs wherever and whenever they can. They consider the offering of prayers at these sites to be idolatrous, and the establishment of this practice to be a deviation from the true and original Islam of Muhammad. Muslims who pray at the tombs of saints don't reject the authenticity of these sayings of Muhammad, which are found in the hadith collections that Muslims consider most reliable; they just ignore them. So the Islamic supremacists who destroy the tombs claim the mantle of Islamic authenticity unchallenged.
But you'll never read about that in the HuffPo.