Thursday, May 20, 2004

O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, bearers of witness for Allah's sake, even if it be against yourselves or your parents or your kin

Asma Gull Hasan, Why I Am A Muslim, 2004.
Contrary to widespread popular belief, Islam was not really spread by the sword--most Muslim leaders including Muhammad abhorred forced conversion. The Qur’an itself says, "Let there be no compulsion in religion," (2:256) and in my experience, Muslims do not engage in missionary activity.
Either Ms. Hasan is being disingenuous or her experience is limited.
(Judaism has a similar prohibition on missionary activities)
Recite the shahadah three times before witnesses. BOOM! You're a Muslim! The Jews turn you down the first two times. And then they make you study. For months. If Muslims and Jews both have prohibitions on missionary activities, let the record show that Jews submit to the will of God rather more completely than Muslims here.
However, one could say that Islam was spread by Sufism--not in all areas of the Islamic world, but certainly in South and Central Asia. Muslim conquerors might have gained power in a certain area, but the appeal of the emotion-guided Sufis actually caused the locals to convert or to become more devout Muslims.
Like the Battle of Talas* had nothing to do with it? Or the establishment of a society in which non-Muslims were second- (if Christian or Jewish) or third-class (if Hindu, Buddhist, Zoroastrian or Manichaean) citizens didn't hurt either.
Asma Gull Hassan interviewed by Deborah Caldwell, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," beliefnet.
As a Muslim you grow up learning about Islamic history and the great Islamic warriors. Every Muslim child learns about the scientific achievements that Muslims have been behind. Paper wasn’t created by Muslims, but the technology of paper was created by Muslims.
I don't think I've ever read a wafflier sentence. Here's an article entitled "Paper and the Arab Role for its Development" from Al Shindagah Magazine based in the United Arab Emirates.
And the number zero was invented by Arabs.
Bollocks. While we're on the subject, the so-called "Arabic" numerals were invented by jahil (pre-Islamic, literally "ignorant") Indians.

Muslim community advocates like to point out that some of the bricks in the foundation of contemporary Western civilization are Islamic and they are absolutely correct. That makes it hypocritical to ignore the pre-Islamic Persian and Hindu blocks in the foundation of the medieval Islamic civilization whose glories they are so fond of celebrating.

I would regard it as a very positive development if the worldwide Islamic mainstream became more like Asma Gull Hasan (though she would doubtless argue that it already is), so I regret that her whitewashing of Islamic history has earned her a place on The List.

*Barry Hoberman, "The Battle of Talas," Saudi Aramco World, September/October 1982.
"Central Asia west of the Tarim which Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Manichaean, and Nestorian Christian influences had been strong, eventually became almost entirely Muslim."

Ethnic cleansing by conversion, though morally preferable to ethnic cleansing by extermination, is still ethnic cleansing.