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Monday, January 12, 2015

"Who Speaks for Islam?"

Roger Kimball observes that we are repeatedly told that Islamic terrorists do not speak for Islam, so he posses the question: who, then, speaks for Islam?

We were told that the 9/11 terrorists, though Muslim, did not speak for Islam. OK, maybe they didn’t.  But how about the London subway bombers? They claimed to be murdering people in the name of Allah or Mohammed. But maybe they were wrong. Maybe they read the wrong parts of the Koran or Hadith, or interpreted those eyebrow-raising passages too literally or something. Maybe.
 
Yet here’s my puzzlement. Let’s agree, for the sake of the discussion, that the 9/11 bombers did not speak for Islam. Ditto the London murders. Indeed, let’s say that neither the Boston marathon bombers nor the people who murdered a total of 16 people in Paris last week (the 12 at Charlie Hebdo and four at the kosher market), let’s say that they did not speak for Islam either. Like Major Hasan, who murdered 13 people at Ft Hood in 2009 while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” they were just “lone extremists” who carry out murder and mayhem while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” But that has nothing to do with Islam. OK. Got it. 
But here’s my question: Who does speak for Islam? We are assured that it’s not the group that now calls itself Islamic State, but which, following Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, I am considering calling Daesh, a name they apparently dislike. Anyway, we know that they don’t speak for Islam because our political leaders and our media have told us so. It’s the same with Boko Haram, the Nigerian Muslim group.  This morning, quoting the Australian journalist Andrew Bolt, I noted that they had kidnapped and sold into sex slavery 300 Nigerian school girls. That was before I saw the story that Boko Haram had just invaded another town killing as many as 2000. Boko Haram appears to believe that they represent Islamic teaching, but no: our leaders have assured us that that is not the case. Ditto about Syria: this summer an adulteress or two were stoned to death, but that, of course, was the work not of Islam but of “extremists,” if not quite “lone extremists.” 
So who, according to the establishment gospel, does speak for Islam? The Ayatollah Khomeni was the spiritual leader of Iran, a great Shia Muslim country. Did he speak for Islam?  He didn’t like a novel by Salman Rushdie and told his followers to kill him for insulting Islam. Did the ayatollah speak for Islam? 
Two days ago, Raif Badawi, a 30-year-old Saudi blogger, was given 50 lashes by the Saudi authorities for the crime of “insulting Islam.” It was the first installment of 1000 lashes, scheduled to be administered with 50 lashes a session for 20 weeks. No one expects him to last that long, for the order specifies that he is to be “lashed very severely” and be denied medical care. 
Saudi Arabia is a great Sunni Muslim nation, our “friend” and “ally.” Do they speak for Islam?
John Hinderaker would say, yes, that Saudi's are Muslim, and their practices reflect their religious beliefs.

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