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