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Islam: Image & Reality Post 9/11
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by Muhammad Asadi

Taking advantage of the negative sentiments generated against Islam and Muslims post 9/11 (helped of course by the U.S. corporate media), websites and books attacking Islam and universally condemning Muslims as criminals, popped up in large numbers. The arguments used in these writings (websites and news commentaries) reflected old-time Christian evangelical propaganda against Islam, and the tactics were similar to those used by lynch mobs of old. Given their methodology and mode of attack, none of the arguments used would get a second hearing, intellectually speaking, because they lacked logical formulation (mostly unrelated connections or Ad Hominem attacks) and relied on sources, in most cases, other than the only reliable source of Islam, the Quran. If presented in a court of law, such "evidence" would be thrown out immediately as inadmissible.
The "lynch-mob" mentality of alarmism, of Islamic ideology as a global threat, that was (and is) commonly portrayed in such writings was also not justified: the number of terrorist acts committed by those who claim to be Muslims and in the "name of Islam" as a percentage of the total number of Muslims, even as a percentage of the total number of crimes committed in the world, are statistically insignificant as cause. The numbers of people harmed by such acts (of criminals) are also far less than the number that have been killed in the name of "democracy and freedom" and free markets: a look at the military adventures of the U.S. elite in the post World War 2 era should suffice as empirical evidence. Also, the FBI estimates that around 19,000 Americans are murdered every year, not by Middle Eastern terrorists but by fellow Americans. The alcohol and tobacco companies by selling highly addictive and harmful products collectively kill over 400,000 Americans a year, year in and year out; however these anti-Islam “humanitarians” do not condemn such “polite” killings by these corporations.
Contrary to what these agenda driven writings present, Islam has the strongest organized social justice component within its system, compared not only to most other religions, but to most secular systems as well. Not only does it suggest a community-style society of humankind by pointing to the natural world as guide (Quran 6:38), with humanity as trustee, not owner of resources (Quran 2:284, 57:7 etc.), it encourages the distribution of the surplus of every individual (Quran 2:219) in the form of a social fund (Quran 9:60) administered by those in charge of governance. It makes the fulfillment of basic necessities of the needy a "religious" duty, without which the ritual of prayer itself is mocked, yes mocked by the Quran itself (Quran 107:1-7). Such "socialistic" emphasis on social justice, organized within a religious system is unheard of in the world of religion, which according to Marx often served as the "opium of the masses". The Quran’s emphasis on the sanctity of human life, comparing a single one to all of humanity (Quran 5:32) is also unsurpassed in world literature, and the common bond, the "human consciousness" it intends to create based upon common origin (Quran 4:1) and one creator God, who created all equally according to his nature (Quran 30:30) is equally unsurpassed as humanitarian doctrine and is demonstrated as fact during the Hajj pilgrimage. All systems have been abused and misused for political/economic motives and Islam is no exception, but condemning it as an inherently anti-human ideology is dishonest and unjust. (Often the distorted, reactionary version of Islam has been implanted from "outside" as was the case of the proxy Cold-War that the U.S. was fighting against the Soviets in Afghanistan: here you had the CIA, most of whom were non-believers in Islam, promising the Afghans a sure ticket to heaven if they died fighting the Soviets, Stinger missiles were an added bonus; supporting Zia’s “Saudi Islamization” of Pakistan etc.)

Those who study Islam and its history, easily recognize that the sources used as “evidence” by these self proclaimed "humanists”, like the Hadith (sayings attributed to  the prophet), collected by Bokhari (d. 870 AD) and Muslim (d. 875 AD), and other pseudo-historical collections of the life of the prophet (based on secondary sources, quoted by other secondary sources, e.g. the work of Ibn Ishaq (d.768 AD) survives only in quotations in Tabari (d. 923 AD) and Ibn Hisham (d. 834 AD) and there also, many versions of the events are given), date from around 200 years after the prophet (d. 632 AD). Those who study Islam based upon historical evidence, reason and reflection (recommended by the Quran itself), would reject these extra-Quranic sources immediately (see Just because many believe in them dogmatically does not mean that the prophet said those words or that those words are what Islam is. Islam is defined by its source, which is the Quran and the Quran alone.
Ibn Khaldun, the founder of Sociology, and historiography recognized the shortcomings in the accuracy of these pseudo-historical reports regarding Islam and the prophet, and he quoted the Quran defending his position, even as he developed historiography in his Muqaddimah. That Ibn-Khaldun was a better authority on historical records than the ideologically charged “hadith collectors” is something most historians will not argue over, given the unique position he occupies in the evolution of their field. The verse Ibn-Khaldun quoted is the same that Muslims quote today when informing dogmatic traditionalists that these "extra Quranic" (from outside the Quran) reports are not always accurate (Quran 31:6): “And among humankind are those that purchase frivolous tales (Lahwal Hadith), so that they may mislead from the path of Allah (those) without knowledge, and to make them an excuse to ridicule with.”
The misuse of such ‘historical’ sourcing by these post 9/11 ‘lynch-mob mentality’ supporters, forms a major chunk of their arguments against Islam, even as they use these tales as “an excuse to ridicule with”, just as stated by the Quran (above). Similar arguments have been used for hundreds of years to debunk Islam, but these authors claim to have invented them anew. Most of the rest of what they present amounts to Ad Hominem attacks against the prophet and clippings from the Quran, bits and pieces of verses clipped not only out of their context but out of their sentence as well. The clipped verses are then presented with their long (pages worth of) interpretations, associating them with groups like the Taliban (as if the Taliban were the “word made flesh”), or photographs that are supposed to elicit stereotypical responses from a fearful public.
Now, instead of wasting time trying to dupe people, spending countless hours and tons of paper doing so while over 40,000 human beings die every day due to preventable causes in the world (like starvation and disease), these self-proclaimed "humanitarians" would do better to look at the socio-economic, political and military links that produce this misery in a world system dominated by the US power elite ( and not the "phantoms" that they have constructed: phantoms that become fear generating marketing tools that feed the militarized political economy dominated by the U.S. power elite.