[lit-ideas] Re: Moderate Muslims

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2006 23:29:26 -0400

Citing Nawash's comment that fundamentalist Islam is one of the greatest threats to the world, Mike rejoined: "Except for the Bush-Cheney doctrine of pre-emptive war ..."

Manji describes Mohammed's pre-emption doctrine in some detail below.


Pre-emption draws surprising consensus
Commentary by Irshad Manji

Shocked. Appalled. Outraged.

These sentiments have been expressed by many Americans in response to the 2006 national security report. Released last week, the report affirmed President Bush's faith in pre-emptive action against potential threats to the United States.

While I think such faith is misguided, I'm enough of a historian to know that George W. Bush isn't alone in his approach. Other statesmen have shared his belief in pre-emption. Some of them are even lionized by Bush's harshest critics: Muslim-Americans.

Consider the prophet Mohammed himself. According to Muslim history, God's own messenger engaged in pre-emptive action against those whom he suspected of plotting against Islam. There's the well-known example of Jewish tribes who refused to take Mohammed as their prophet. After rumors intensified that these Jews were collaborating with Arab pagans to kill the prophet, Mohammed and his companions struck first. They exiled two of the tribes and later acted on a Muslim arbiter's opinion that a third tribe should be slaughtered.

Self-defense, my fellow Muslims will insist. Bush has said the same about invading Iraq, but I don't see too many Muslims accepting that argument. Ah, but the president never had hard evidence for his claims. Fact is, neither did prophet Mohammed. He went on faith.

In drawing this comparison, I'm bound to be accused of besmirching the reputation of Islam's prophet and thereby joining the Danish cartoonists in infidel hell. But as many Americans believe that dissent is a patriotic duty, so I believe that self-criticism lives up to the best ideals of the Quran, Islam's holy book. One of its most beautiful verses tells us to "bear true witness, even if it be against yourselves, your parents, or your family." In other words, be honest, no matter whose feathers it ruffles.

Honesty demands that Muslims in the USA judge the doctrine of pre-emption by a single standard. That requires making a choice. We can accept what the prophet did as necessary and guided by God, in which case we can't be shocked when the president makes a similar case for his policy. Or we can acknowledge that the prophet Mohammed's pre-emptive assaults on Jews were morally wrong, in which case we've got credibility when slamming the Bush doctrine.

I don't deny that the Bush administration's record on freedom and human rights has been hypocritical. But I refuse to hand Muslim-American leaders any moral triumph as long as they validate for the prophet a sin that they castigate in the president.

Irshad Manji is a fellow at Yale University and author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith.


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