[ Guest post by Dr Tim Furnish — cross-posted from MahdiWatch ]
In Shakespeare’s works, particularly King Lear, “blindness is not [merely] a physical quality, but a mental flaw some people possess.” More authoritatively, and perhaps more pithily expressed by the Gospel writers, Jesus said that “if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (St. Matthew, 15:14). It’s easy to see how this describes the Obama Administration as a whole — but particularly its policy towards Islam and the Islamic world. And the main spokesman for this visual and intellectual impairment is CIA Director John Brennan.
I commented on Brennan’s, and indeed his entire agency’s, (willful?) blindness to Islamic realities last year. But as Ronaldus Magnus once said to an equally clueless opponent, “there you go again.” At the Council on Foreign Relations two days ago, the man who oversees the mission to “provide … leaders with the best information possible to help them make policy involving other countries” expressed egregiously bad information on Islamic history and beliefs—and not for the first time, either.
Brennan, who once worked as CIA station chief in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and who is said to hold a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas-Austin, said the following: that al-Qa`idah’s [AQ] Islamic ideology is “a perverse and very corrupt interpretation of the Qur’an” and that that organization has “hijacked” Islam and “distorted the teachings of Mohammed [sic], for violent purposes.” I first refuted this ludicrous claim — particularly the “hijacking” one — almost a decade ago. And I will leave for others to deal with the legion of violent Qur’anic passages that disprove Brennan’s laughable claim about AQ’s exegesis.
Instead, let’s focus on the founder of Islam, Muhammad. According to not just the Qur’an but Hadiths (sayings attributed to Muhammad and sirât), or biographies of him, Muhammad not only practiced violence but seemed to enjoy and recommend it. And this was not “defensive” war, as the apologists would have it — it was more often than not offensive, attacking peoples and states who had done no harm to any Muslims. Muhammad of course (in)famously presided over the beheading of between 600 and 900 men of the Jewish Banu Qurayzah tribe in Medina who refused to acknowledge him as a “prophet.” He also supervised the beheading of a Meccan poet, al-Nadr b. al-Harith, who opposed him.
Muhammad furthermore enjoined warring against other Muslims whom he deemed insufficiently devoted to jihad — even ordering that a mosque built by such be burned down. The “prophet” of Islam also employed torture in addition to killing, as when Muhammad ordered the torture by fire of the Jew Kinana b. al-Rabi` until he revealed where he had hidden his wealth.
Muhammad’s military campaigns have been the subject of a number of works in recent years, such as Russ Rodgers, The Generalship of Muhammad and Richard Gabriel, Muhammad: Islam’s First Great General. The latter’s book was the basis of a long article in “Military History Quarterly” (2007), entitled “Muhammad: the Warrior Prophet,” the conclusion of which is worth quoting: “Classical [Sunni] Islamic law is less tolerant [than Twelver Shi`ism] of non-Muslims … Conservative Sunnis, such as the Wahhabis of Arabia, and modern militant jihadis in Iraq and Pakistan still adhere to the traditional doctrine. It is among these militant conservative Muslims that the military legacy of Muhammad is most alive today.”
Maybe U2, not Shakespeare or even Christ, got the relationship between the current American administration and Islam most correct: “love is blindness.”