Sunday, January 3, 2016

Some Cheap Shots at Islam

Permit me some levity and incidental observations about Islam. It’s a stress reliever. And I need to laugh occasionally; otherwise I’d curl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb. Not really. But I do need to vent my inner humor

For starters, it would be interesting to delve briefly into the psychological and character makeup of the man the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have practically elevated to sainthood, Sayyid Qutb. He is the prissy Muslim squirt whose various scribblings are held in such high esteem by the Ummah. Qutb (1906-1966) wrote Milestones, which is considered such a basic, fundamental document in the Islamic literature, that it may as well be treated by infidels (looking in from the outside) as an extension of the Koran. Omar Sacirbey in a February 2011 Washington Post article called him the Muslim Brotherhood’s “intellectual godfather.”

Beginning in 1948, Qutb spent about two and a half years in America (with some little time in Washington, D.C. and Palo, Alto, California), attending a college in Greeley, Colorado. He was sent there, as the story goes, by his friends in the Egyptian ministry of education to get him out of harm’s way from the Nasser government, which was beginning to be annoyed by the Muslim Brotherhood’s call for a return to Islamic purity. Qutb was showing signs of sympathizing with those calls. As Robert Irwin, in a Guardian article of late October 2001, put it:

Everything changed in 1948 when he was sent to study education in the US. It was a fateful decision. Perhaps those who sent him thought that it would broaden his horizons.

Instead, the sojourn in Colorado shriveled his horizons. He was alienated by American culture and society. He wanted to be a “good” Muslim, not a part-time Muslim. That meant renouncing virtually all earthly temptations and pleasures.

Almost immediately his newfound resolve was tested on the [ocean] liner, as a drunken American woman attempted to seduce him. Qutb did not succumb, nor was he later won over by the charms of the American way of life. He was repelled by prejudice against Arabs and shocked by the freedom that American men allowed their women. He described the churches as "entertainment centers and sexual playgrounds". After two and a half years of exposure to western civilization he knew that he hated it and, on his return to Egypt in 1951, he joined the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Who knew that American culture and society could so aggrieve a person that he would devote a goodly portion of his hate-filled writing and preaching to excoriating America? Greeley was a “dry” town, with nary a bar insight (it became “wet” in 1969). It was a church-going town, too, and this is what the easily offended Qutb probably saw as America’s greatest failing and sin: they were virtually the only venues where men and women could meet and socialize. It was also too “materialistic” and obsessed with sports. A Smithsonian article from February 2006 noted:

Regarding the excesses of American culture—vulgarity, materialism and promiscuity—Qutb expressed shock, but it rang a bit hollow. “The American girl is well acquainted with her body's seductive capacity,” he wrote. “She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs — and she shows all this and does not hide it."” These curvy jezebels pursued boys with “wide, strapping chest[s]” and “ox muscles,” Qutb  added with disgust. Yet no matter how lascivious his adjectives, the fastidious, unmarried Egyptian could not convincingly portray the church dances and Look magazines he encountered in sleepy Greeley as constituting a genuine sexual “jungle.”

Qutb ought to have spent some time in the American South among the Baptists, which was and probably remains a greater sexual “jungle” than staid, religiously conservative Greeley, Colorado. But I suspect that Qutb’s objection to those American girls who knew how to flaunt their assets, and those robust American boys who conquered them, was based on envy because of an Islam inculcated incapacity in himself to enjoy life. Islam frowns on earthly paradises because those pleasures and temptations will be available in Islamic paradise. Allah’s Paradise doubtless is imagined by the faithful as one eternal disco party, with Allah as the Wolfman Jack-like DJ, with flashing disco balls overhead, with with scantily clad houris lap- and pole-dancing, with an open bar and buffet, and “private rooms” galore for all the randy Rashids and “martyrs.”

A National Public Radio broadcast of May 2003 noted that Qutb reported:

"They danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire..."

In another life, Sayyid Qutb could have been the author of a dozen sexually charged bodice-rippers, writing under the name of Pearly Gates.

Egyptian political scientist Mamoun Fandy tells [Robert] Siegel that Qutb's critique of America was in many ways a critique of Egyptian society. "Fandy says Qutb was warning Egyptians of the West, of modernity, of things they were very attracted to," Siegel says. As for Qutb's revulsion over American sexuality, Fandy says there is no evidence that Qutb ever had a sexual relationship in his life.

From my readings of Qutb, and especially what little of his 1950 The America That I Have Seen I have been able to read (called a “book” in some quarters, it was only a magazine-length article), he was a repressor with no capacity for enjoyment in life other than perhaps food. He may have also been a latent homosexual. (He was especially exercised by Greeley’s “bloody, monstrous” wrestling matches.)

To Qutb, America was jahili, or backward, as much of a “moral desert” as the Arabian Peninsula was before Mohammad converted it by sword and extortion. Concerning the “proper” role of sex in his “perfect” world, Qutb wrote in Milestones:

The family system and the relationship between the sexes determine the whole character of a society and whether it is back or civilized, jahili or Islamic. Those societies which give ascendance to physical desires and animalistic morals cannot be considered civilized, no matter how much progress they may make in industry or science. This is the only measure which does not err in gauging true human progress….

Thus, only Islamic values and morals, Islamic teachings and safeguards, are worthy of mankind, and from this unchanging and true measure of human progress, Islam is the real civilization and Islamic society is truly civilized. (pp. 98-99; Milestones, Dar Al-Ilm, Damascus, Syria, no publication date).

I’ve always tried to imagine what a global caliphate would look like. It is world domination that the Islamic Movement seeks to accomplish. Here’s one translation of the applicable Koranic verse, Chapter (2) sūrat l-baqarah (The Cow, 2-193):

And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)

So, there would be a global caliphate, divvied up between a bingo cage of sub- or regional caliphates. But it wouldn’t matter where you lived. It would be an “ideal” Islamic society, such as Qutb envisioned. Practically, it would be a society in stasis, a society arrested in progress, immobile, and stagnant. Everyone would be a Muslim, except for what remained of the unconquered, unbelieving infidels, who would presumably be kept in an open-air corral and trotted out to work in salt mines or granite quarries. An electronic signal from the magic clock tower in Mecca would inform everyone that it was time to pray, and every Muslim in the world would stop what he was doing and, facing East and Mecca, perform the Shahada and other Islamic ablutions, sink to his (or her) knees, raise his derriere (an action which I call mooning the West and Western civilization), and mutter his complete, degrading, and utter servitude and submission to Allah.

“There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Longer versions are common, especially those beginning with “I bear witness” or “I testify,” e.g.:  “I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

The ideal Islamic society is a society calculated to dull the sharpest minds, or to keep them submerged until they drown. The whole world would be at “peace” (a Sharia-enforced “peace”), nothing important or noteworthy would happen, passions would be abridged or squashed, there would be no one left to “fight,” it would be insufferably dull and uneventful, except for the chance to taunt the surviving infidels.

Allah, by the way, is an indescribable being with the contradictory powers of omniscience and omnipotence. Most artistic representations of him have been made by Western artists. Islam forbids any representations of Allah to prevent “idolatry,” as well of Mohammad. The Greeks and the Romans at least imagined their gods (and goddesses) as beings of human form. Eastern religions mostly fashioned their gods after animals or human-like animals (or, if you will, animal-like humans). But Allah is just a “force,” and so, in the abstract, is the Judeo-Christian Supreme Being. Perhaps this is the ubiquitous “Force” in the Star Wars films. ”May the Force be with you.” The most iconic Christian depiction of God is Michelangelo’s on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. The Jewish Torah and Talmud also state that man was created in God’s image, although there are no Jewish artistic representations of God. 

Without any known human attributes, Allah must be imagined to be some kind of glowing, pulsating force of a whimsical mien. One could call him the Supreme Finger-Snapper, except we don’t know if he (or it) has any hands. Or arms or legs. Or a head. Or a torso.

Former Christian clerics, if they participated in Interfaith Dialogue with Muslim clerics, and learned to their ultimate dismay that Islam promotes Unifaith, or Islam, as the only true faith,  would have also learned by now that the Jesus they once touted as the bringer of peace, tolerance,  brotherly love, and turning the other cheek was not the same Jesus, or Isa. Christ was one of the Biblical characters that the early Koranic fabricators appropriated from early Christianity. The Islamic Jesus was a bonafide Muslim preacher. This Islamic Conan the Barbarian will slay swine and fight the one-eyed Deceiver, Dajjāl, who will pose as a Messiah or a prophet. Isa will defeat him in a terrific battle.

The three actions of breaking “the cross”, killing pigs and abolishing the jizyah tax are based on the notion that Jesus will eliminate all other religions on the earth other than Islam.  Shafi and Usmani explain that to “break the cross” means to “abolish worship of the cross”.  Several Muslim friends that I’ve spoken with have expressed their understanding of this tradition: Jesus will break or remove all crosses from the rooftops and steeples of churches throughout the earth. 

This action will thus indicate that Jesus will be making a clear statement regarding his disapproval of the false notion that he was ever crucified on a cross.  The killing of the swine is so that the “Christian belief of its lawfulness is belied.” 14 The reason for abolishing the jizyah tax (the compulsory poll-tax that non-Muslims must pay in order to live in a Muslim land) is based on the idea that when Jesus returns, the jizyah tax will no longer be accepted.  The only choice that Christians will have is to accept Islam or die. As Sideeque M.A. Veliankode states in Doomsday Portents and Prophecies:

Jesus, the son of Mary will soon descend among the Muslims as a just judge… Jesus will, therefore, judge according to the law of Islam… all people will be required to embrace Islam and there will be no other alternative.

The Islamic story of the Virgin Birth is also a tweak from the Christian tale. Allah just said, “Be!” and unmarried “Maryam” was with child. Joseph the cuckolded carpenter makes no appearance in the story, either. Muslims angrily deny that Christ was the son of Allah. Muslims say that Allah would never stoop to such a ridiculous ruse. Isa was just another mortal, but a special one who could speak almost as soon as he emerged from the womb, and worked miracles even before he was out of diapers, or what passed for diapers in pre-Mohammad times. He was never crucified. He just vanished in his early twenties, and was reputed to return at the End of Days to swing his sword and cause mayhem among the unbelievers, and then act as co-judge with Mohammad about who should enter Paradise and who should burn in Hell forever. However, the tale of Maryam brings new meaning to the role of single motherhood.

That battle scene scenario would be great material for a new video game, or a big-screen Islamic epic, something on the order of a Star Wars movie.  The Islamic Jesus could wield a light saber instead of a genuine sword. Al-Buraq, Mohammad’s winged horse with the head of a woman could play a role, too, picking up thousands of unbelievers and dropping them from 10,000 feet. There would be a CGI cast of millions of armed Muslims with zap guns against millions of Satan’s soldiers flailing away at everyone with their katanas and tossing bacon falafels at the enemy, causing great consternation among the devout and almost causing Jesus to lose the battle. What a spectacle that would be!

There. That’s out of my system. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

I might add that I’m merciless in my treatment of Islam in my novel, The Black Stone, a Cyrus Skeen detective novel, set in San Francisco in 1930.

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