The MIT Muslim Students Association and the Islamic Society of Boston announced a lecture by Dr. Jamal Badawi this week. The topic is Jihad, Holy War, and Terrorism, and it will be held on Wednesday, March 7 at 6 PM in MIT room 4-270.
Is the Arabic equivalent of the term "Holy War" found in the original Arabic Qur'an? Is the concept itself compatible with Qur'anic teachings? Is the term "Holy War" a proper translation of Islamic Arabic term "Jihad"? What does "Jihad" mean anyway? Does it relate in anyway to "terrorism" and what is "terrorism" after all? How about those who commit acts of "terrorism" in the name of one religion or the other? How does one deal effectively with "terrorism" and violence?
Dr. Badawi will no doubt discuss the meaning of jihad as "inner striving, exerting effort, seeking truth and goodness," which is one set of meanings. There is clearly another meaning to jihad, the violent battlefield jihad. Badawi and Robert Spencer discussed the topic last year, which can be read here. Perhaps Dr. Badawi will discuss how to dissuade young people from believing in the jihad that says it's OK to blow up trains and strap on bombs, and blow themselves and others into small pieces, for "love of jihad."
I spent about ten minutes googling Dr. Badawi this morning, and come to find out he supports the following:
- Wife beating is permissible under certain circumstances, as long as you don't strike the wife in the face or cause bodily harm. It can even save a marriage!
- Polygamy is acceptable under Islam, and it demonstrates the "vitality, flexibility and far-sightedness of teachings of Islam," whose secret lies in its "divine source," unlike the man-made laws of liberal democracies.
- Suicide bombing is acceptable , martyrdom is allowed for "repelling unprovoked aggression or resisting severe oppression." Hmmm, that could be widely interpreted to mean a great many situations.
- Apostasy is punishable by death, if the apostasy is considered to be treason (these guys are simply masters at wiggle words!).
- Regarding the rights of minorities in Muslim countries, Dr. Badawi says that the Koran protects the freedom of religion. Again, perhaps Dr. Badawi can convince the rulers of Muslim countries of this, because persecution of religious minorities is widespread in Muslim countries.
- On the same fatwa about "religious freedom," Sheikh Muhammad Nur Abdullah, ISNA President and Member of the Fiqh Council of North America, adds "But once a person converts to Islam, he should practice his faith and never change it. If he changes it, it is a major sin. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law (death? stoning?) is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars."
- Regarding proselytizing: "As for spreading any other faith in the Islamic state, non-Muslims are allowed to teach their followers about their religion, but they are not allowed to go against the mainstream of the society." Meaning we can proselytize you, but you can't proselytize us.
Is it me? Am I the crazy one here?
By what criteria are these the beliefs of a moderate Muslim? I feel like Alice in Wonderland and I just stepped into an alternate universe. Is Dr. Jamal Badawi the ISBs idea of someone who represents "a path of moderation, free of extremism"?
It would be great if the ISB invited brave voices and reformists once in a while, people like Iqbal Latif or Elham Manea, Tashbih Sayyed, Tawfik Hamid or Magdi Allam. But instead they continue to invite folks who believe in an ideology of Islamic supremacy.