Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Post excerpted from David Thompson -- exposing the lying propaganda about Islam that emanates from a famous and popular British religious commentator. See the original for links

In my review of Robert Spencer's The Truth About Muhammad, I wrote: "In his book, Islam and the West, the historian Bernard Lewis argued: 'We live in a time when. governments and religious movements are busy rewriting history as they would wish it to have been, as they would like their followers to believe that it was.' This urge to sanitise unflattering facts is nowhere more obvious than in biographies of Muhammad, of which, Karen Armstrong's ubiquitous contributions are perhaps the least reliable." I've since received a number of emails asking me to clarify why Armstrong is unreliable in this regard. To that end, here's a brief catalogue of Ms Armstrong's errors and distortions, a version of which was first published by Butterflies & Wheels. Some of her rhetorical airbrushing is, I think, quite spectacular.

Karen Armstrong has been described as "one of the world's most provocative and inclusive thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world." Armstrong's efforts to be "inclusive" are certainly "provocative", though generally for reasons that are less than edifying. In 1999, the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles gave Armstrong an award for media "fairness." What follows might cast light on how warranted that recognition is, and on how the MPAC chooses to define fairness.

In one of her baffling Guardian columns, Armstrong argues that, "It is important to know who our enemies are. By making the disciplined effort to name our enemies correctly, we will learn more about them, and come one step nearer, perhaps, to solving the. problems of our divided world." Yet elsewhere in the same piece, Armstrong maintains that Islamic terrorism must not be referred to as such. "Jihad", we were told, "is a cherished spiritual value that, for most Muslims, has no connection with violence."

Well, the word `jihad' has multiple meanings depending on the context, and it's hard to determine the particulars of what "most Muslims" think in this regard. Doubtless countless Muslims would recoil from connotations of violence and coercion. But it's safe to say the Qur'an and Sunnah are of great importance to Muslims generally, and most references to jihad found in the Qur'an and Sunnah occur in a military or paramilitary context. Aggressive conceptions of jihad are found in every major school of Islamic jurisprudence, with fairly minor variations. The notion of jihad as warfare against unbelievers is affirmed by Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and Shafi'i traditions, to which the majority of Muslims belong. And Muhammad's own celebration of military jihad and homicidal `martyrdom' makes for interesting reading.....

In another Guardian column, Armstrong insists that, "until the 20th century, anti-Semitism was not part of Islamic culture" and that anti-Semitism is purely a Western invention, spread by Westerners. The sheer wrong-headedness of this assertion is hard to put into words, but one might note how, once again, the evil imperialist West is depicted as boundlessly capable of spreading corruption wherever it goes, while the Islamic world is portrayed as passive, devoid of agency and thereby virtuous by default.

According to Armstrong, Muhammad was, above all, a "peacemaker" who "respected" Jews and other non-Muslims. Yet nowhere in the Qur'an and Sunnah does Muhammad refer to non-Muslims as in any way deserving of respect as equals. Quite the opposite, in fact. Apparently, we are to ignore over 13 centuries of Islamic history contradicting Armstrong's view, and to ignore the contents of the Qur'an and the explicitly anti-Semitic `revelations' of Islam's founder. One therefore wonders whether Armstrong has read Ibn Ishaq's canonical, quasi-sacred biography of Muhammad. Has she not read the Hadith, most notably Bukhari? Does she not know of the massacre of the Banu Qurayza and the opportunist raids against the Bani Quainuqa, Bani Nadir, Bani Isra'il and other Jewish tribes? Does she not know how these events were justified as a divine duty, one which formed the theological basis of the Great Jihad of Abu Bakr, setting in motion one of the most formidable military expansions in Islamic history? Does she really not know how these theological ideas established the subordinate legal status of Jews and Christians throughout much of the Islamic world for hundreds of years?

In her latest offering, Armstrong is again given free rein to mislead Guardian readers and, again, rewrite history. Armstrong asserts that, "until recently, no Muslim thinker had ever claimed [violent jihad] was a central tenet of Islam." In fact, contemporary jihadists pointedly draw upon theological traditions reaching back to Muhammad's own example. The Fifteenth Century historian and philosopher, Ibn Khaldun, summarised the consensus of five centuries of prior Sunni theology regarding jihad in his book, The Muqudimmah: "In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the. mission to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations." Shiite jurisprudence concurred with this consensus, as seen in al-Amili's manual of Shia law, Jami-i-Abbasi: "Islamic holy war against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam."

Given that Armstrong is regularly described as a "respected scholar" and an "expert on Islam", she must surely know of Khaldun and his sources, and must surely know how Muhammad conceived jihad primarily as an expansionist military endeavour. Armstrong must also be aware of the jihad campaigns of religious `cleansing' throughout the Arab Peninsula, in accord with Muhammad's purported death bed words. Likewise, the five centuries of jihad campaigns in India, during which tens of millions of Hindus and Buddhists were slaughtered or enslaved, along with similar campaigns in Egypt, Palestine, Armenia, Africa, Spain, etc. These campaigns are thoroughly - often triumphantly - documented by Islamic sources of the period and are available to any serious scholar.

UK immigration panel orders deportation of convicted terrorist to Jordan

The UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled Monday that a convicted terrorist from Jordan must return to his home country despite his arguments that he risks being tortured upon returning to Jordan. SIAC chairman Justice Ouseley said there was no real threat of persecution for Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, basing the commission's decision on a 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the UK and Jordan that guarantees deportees will not face abuse upon their return. While many argue that the MOUs are meaningless agreements, UK Home Secretary John Reid praised the commission's decision to recognize the pact since it would allow the UK to continue deporting security threats.

Qatada, who has been held in a UK prison for the past five years under anti-terrorism and immigration laws, plans to appeal the SIAC's ruling. He was convicted in Jordan for terrorist attacks and is allegedly linked to al Qaeda, which Qatada denies. Amnesty International UK expressed concern Monday at the SIAC's ruling, saying the commission "discounted ample evidence showing the risk of torture if Abu Qatada is returned," including Amnesty's documentation of abuse of so-called "security suspects" such as beatings while victims are suspended from the ceiling for hours at a time.

The UK has come under criticism for its reliance on memorandums of understanding countries also including Libya and Libya. In 2005, Manfred Nowak, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture said the agreements circumvent the absolute prohibition in the Convention against Torture against the forcible return of detainees to countries where there is a risk of torture or ill-treatment.


Legal appeal forces the NHS into the modern world

A cancer sufferer who spent 70,000 pounds on a drug that he believed would prolong his life has been told it can now be prescribed on the NHS. Keith Ditchfield, 53, a businessman who lives in Stonyhurst, Lancashire, is terminally ill. He learnt of Nexavar while receiving treatment in Germany. When he asked for the medication to be prescribed on the health service last year, he was turned down.

Since then Mr Ditchfield, has been buying the drug and believes that it has prolonged his life and left him, at least temporarily, in remission.

He has now been told that his appeal against the decision by East Lancashire Primary Care Trust has been successful. Nexavar was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2005 and is widely prescribed in Europe for advanced cancers.



Exactly what the NHS was designed to obviate

Peter Ashley was told that he had dementia seven years ago, after enduring three years of treatment for a series of wrongly diagnosed conditions that culminated in electric shock therapy.

The retired company director from Warrington recalls very well the day he and his wife were given the diagnosis of Lewy bodies dementia, a rarer form of the disease with characteristics of Parkinson's. "We literally fell apart. It was the summer, and I remember we sat on the patio for days just crying - and we are not really that sort of couple. I just did not know what it meant for my retirement plans, our plans for more holidays and, most importantly, what it would mean for my three daughters and my wife," he said.

However Mr Ashley, 71, has been fortunate, receiving excellent medical and psychiatric treatment, and he continues to live a fulfilling life. Fortunately, a neighbour held a senior post in the local mental health care trust, so he was given prompt and up-to-date advice on treatment. Unusually for early-stage dementia, he was approved for drug therapy, although only on the basis of a trial. He takes Exelon, which helps to retain cognitive function.

"I also adopted a `use it or lose it' strategy and began to lecture on dementia and sat on the NICE Guideline Development Group, which came up with recommendations for treatment. I have very bad short-term memory problems and I cannot get around very well. My spatial awareness is very poor. But I am convinced that the drugs have been a key element in helping me to retain a great deal of my mental capability," he said.


Catholics slam Britain for Equality Act's "Violation of Religious Liberty"

Say Britain poised to overturn centuries of legal development in human rights

In comments preceding the upcoming international congress, "Conscience in Support of the Right to Life," the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life said Britain is poised to overturn centuries of legal development in human rights. Bishop Elio Sgreccia told reporters the provisions of the Equality Act that claim to defend human rights, are a "violation of liberty." The Equality Act's Sexual Orientation Regulations will make it illegal to deny goods or services based on sexual orientation, including adoption of children. "I think that conscientious objection is fully justified and I would be surprised if a nation, such as Great Britain, usually considered as the homeland of fundamental liberties, would deny at least on one occasion recognition of this objection," Bishop Sgreccia said. Zenit Catholic news agency quoted the bishop saying, "I hope this won't take place or that, in any case, it will trigger an appeal before the Court of Human Rights."

Responding to the same legislation, the bishop of the Scottish diocese of Paisley wrote in a pastoral letter that there is "something sinister" happening in Britain. "For the first time in the modern era in this country, the Catholic Church is facing the prospect of being forced to act against her faith and against her convictions, or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution."

In a four-point manifesto, Bishop Tartaglia said the Church has no desire to unjustly discriminate against homosexual persons, but said that "no one has the right to be an adoptive parent," and that Catholic adoption agencies base their decisions on the belief that children are best served by being adopted by "a mother and father who are married."

The bishop urged his flock to be prepared spiritually for persecution. "We are so much at home in contemporary society that we have probably not seen this coming." "Affluence, prosperity, aspiration and a pervasive spirit of relativism may tempt some to set aside the principles and values of the Catholic faith and life." He warned Catholics, however, not to allow the Christian voice to be pushed "to the margins of society." "This unfortunate episode may well herald the beginning of a new and uncertain time for the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom."


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