Auē Tēnei Wiki: Women in DAESH

Issue 12 CoverOn Friday I spent a couple of hours going through the latest issue of Dabiq, DAESH’s on-line magazine. They released it last week to boast of the murders, injuries, and terror they have inflicted anew on the world. The events in Paris and the downing of the Russian airliner feature large.

They claim, amongst other things, that the bomb on the Russian airliner was originally going to go on an American plane, but that Russia’s commencement of air attacks in Syria caused them to change the target.

There’s much to address about the magazine. I was immediately struck by the differences between it and Inspire (Al-Qaeda’s on-line magazine). Dabiq is even more focused on demonstrating the Qur’anic justification for their actions, and has a much harsher tone.

The editorial was, of course, about Paris. It started with these words from the Qur’an:

They thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah; but Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and He cast terror into their hearts so they destroyed their homes by their own hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O people of vision. (Al-Hashr: 2).

It continues:

The divided crusaders of the East and West thought themselves safe in their jets as they cowardly bombarded the Muslims of the Khilāfah [caliphate]. {They will not fight you all except within fortified cities or from behind walls} (Al-Hashr: 14). But Allah [followed by Arabic calligraphy for “peace be upon him” that I haven’t worked out how to reproduce yet] decreed that punishment befall the warring crusaders from where they had not expected. Thus, the blessed attacks against the Russians and the French were successfully executed despite the international intelligence war against the Islamic State. Both crusader nations had undoubtedly destroyed their homes with their own hands through their hostilities towards Islam, the Muslims, and the Muslim body of the Khilāfah.

It’s interesting to me that they didn’t also mention the bombing in Lebanon here, but perhaps killing fellow Muslims, even ones they personally consider inadequate, doesn’t fit the narrative.

However, there has been much written about these events, including by me, and I doubt I could offer anything more that’s meaningful.

For some time I’ve been thinking about writing a piece about the women of DAESH, and this isn’t it, but there’s an article in this issue of Dabiq that speaks for itself when it comes to the attitude of this group towards women. Thus, I’m going to produce the article in full below.

The article is called ‘Two, Three, or Four,’ and is by someone called Umm Sumayyah al-Muhājirah. The title refers to the choice of the number of wives. Prepare to be disgusted.

Please note that in the article all references to Mohammed are followed by Arabic script that means “peace be upon him.” Other figures from the Qur’an and Bible have similar treatment. I haven’t reproduced the Arabic script here as I am unable to.   No disrespect is meant to Muslims in general. Also, Dabiq has an unusual use of { } and [] brackets. I’ve reproduced them exactly as in the article. Words in [] brackets, for example, are the author’s, not mine.

In the Name of Allah, the Lord of all things, who permitted marriage and prohibited fornication, created us from a single soul, created from that soul its mate, and dispersed from the two of them many men and women. May blessings and peace be upon the Prophet and Messenger who disciplined and taught his companions, and upon those who are guided by his Sunnah and follow him with excellence until the Day of Judgment. As for what follows:

Indeed, when the Sharī’ah of our Lord was eliminated, the laws and rulings of the kuffār gained power in the lands of the Muslims, Islam was shamefully abandoned, and faces turned towards promiscuous Europe, the voice of falsehood rose and with it the voices of those hostile towards the people of the religion, and the cancer of those who legislate besides Allah  ate away at the Ummah’s body. They prohibited what He permitted, and permitted what He prohibited, and one of the most manifest things that they ruined and defamed in defense of women and their rights – as they claimed – was polygyny. They utilized their podiums to that end, including the podiums of the kufrī parliaments and the secular TV channels, and placed on these podiums howling dogs, fools who do not perceive nor know their foolishness. Their poisoned words crept into the hearts of women from the lands of the Muslims, to the point that we almost couldn’t find a single woman that is accepting of this issue, except for those whom Allah protected.

Allah said in His clear-cut revelation, {And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]} [An-Nisā’: 3]. This is a verse as clear as the sun that does not require extensive explanation or interpretation. Therefore, O slaves of Allah, you may marry two, three, or four women, unless you fear that you will have shortcomings in your fairness towards them or will fail to fulfill their rights, in which case you suffice with one wife. Ibn Kathīr said, “His statement {two or three or four} [An-Nisā’: 3] means marry any women you wish apart from the orphans. If one of you wishes he may marry two, and if he wishes, three, and if he wishes, four.”

Indeed, Islam was not the first to introduce polygyny. Rather, it was present in the sharī’ah of those before us. Allah’s Messenger said, “Sulaymān Ibn Dāwūd said, ‘I will surely have intercourse with a hundred women tonight, or ninety nine, and every one of them will give birth to a knight who will wage jihād for the cause of Allah…’” [Reported from Abū Hurayrah by al-Bukhārī].

What’s strange is that the Jews and the Christians taunt the Muslims with respect to polygyny, yet if they were to look into their own books they would’ve known that it was something present in their religions, for it is stated in their books that Ya’qūb had two wives and two concubines, and that Dāwūd had a number of wives and concubines, as mentioned in 2 Samuel [5: 13] and 1 Samuel [25: 42 – 44]. They also stated that Sulaymān had 700 wives and 300 concubines, as mentioned in 1 Kings [11: 3].

They also stated Rahba’ām (Rehoboam) Ibn Sulaymān, who according to them succeeded his father in kingship, had 18 wives and 60 concubines. Thus, the men of the previous nations used to take many wives, and doing so was permitted in the sharī’ah of those before us. Then the Sharī’ah of Islam came and defined a specific number of wives that no Muslim is allowed to exceed, that number being four. As for concubines, then there is no limit.

Sālim reported from his father that Ghaylān Ibn Salamah ath-Thaqafī embraced Islam while married to ten women. So the Prophet said to him, “Choose four of them” [At-Tirmidhī reported it in “The Book of Marriage” and titled the subsection, “Chapter: What Has Come Concerning a Man Who Embraces Islam While Having Ten Wives;” Ibn Mājah also reported it in “The Book of Marriage” and titled the subsection, “Chapter: A Man Embraces Islam While Having More than Four Wives”].

Indeed, the legislation of polygyny contains many wisdoms. Amongst them is that women are greater in number than men, who face many dangers and hardships in their lives, such as war, hazardous work, and disasters. Likewise, young men tend to prefer virgins and abstain from marrying widows and divorcees, so who then would look after this group of women?

Furthermore, Allah might afflict a woman with infertility, but instead of divorcing her Islam has permitted the man to marry another woman while keeping his infertile wife honored and supported.

Also from the wisdoms of polygyny is that the woman, by her nature, has her life interrupted by phases in which she is unable to fulfill the rights of her husband, as is the case with menstruation, childbirth, and postpartum bleeding. So during such phases he can find in his other wives what should prevent him from falling into forbidden or suspicious matters. But, by Allah, if there were no virtue in polygyny other than the fact that it’s a prophetic Sunnah from the best of mankind, we would have sufficed with that as a proof with which we would deafen the ears of the stubborn opponents.

How much does it eat at my soul to openly mention a reality that makes the heart of a muwahhid bleed, that reality being that the opposition to polygyny, whether directly or indirectly, has gone beyond the blind women and now sits in the hearts of some of the female seekers of knowledge and women who adhere to the bulk of the shar’ī rulings. This became so after the calls of the enemies of Allah, the religion, and His Messenger found their way towards them through the doubts that these enemies propagate, doubts that effectively state, “No to polygyny. Polygyny is oppression towards women.” And Allah is sufficient for us and the best disposer of affairs.

And it saddens me to say that with some of them, the matter may reach the point of pronouncing a statement of kufr – and Allah’s refuge is sought – or a statement that could imply kufr, and Allah’s help is sought. You find her saying, with the Shaytān having inflated her with falsehood, “Anything but polygyny, anything but this ruling. O Allah forgive me, but I can’t handle it, neither for myself nor for others.” One woman even said to me when I was talking to her, “Do you want me to commit kufr and thereby apostatize? If I saw him with another woman it would be a fitnah for me with respect to my religious adherence, and I would leave my home and wander about in loss!” And another woman asked her friend, “What would you prefer? That Allah frees your husband after being imprisoned for years and he would then marry a second woman, or that he remain imprisoned and not do do?” So she answered her saying blatantly, “I prefer that he remain imprisoned, for that is easier on me than for him to marry a second wife!” My Lord, have mercy on us! For a Muslim, muwahhid husband to remain imprisoned by the Rāfidah or other kuffār and be subjected to the worst kinds of torture is easier on the jealous woman than for him to come out of prison and practice a law from the laws of Allah?! This is all in addition to other dangerous statements which the woman doesn’t really think much about, but which may cast her into the fire of Hell, and Allah’s refuge is sought.

And how many women in the lands of the Muslims display their “discontent” towards polygyny! I sat with some such women and advised them, and I found that with many of them the tone of their speech bears witness that this “discontent” is in fact a hatred of the ruling itself, even if the cursed Iblīs has sugarcoated it for the woman and downplayed it for her, saying, “It’s only that you don’t want it for your husband, so you can’t be blamed!” So here I warn her, and I remind her of the statement of Allah, {But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they make you judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in submission} [An-Nisā’: 65]. So where is your submission and where is your obedience to the command of your Lord and and His wisdom? You were not named a “Muslimah” to to begin with except because you’ve submitted to Allah with tawhīd and yielded to Him with obedience!

And how many muhājirāt there are who are seekers of knowledge and whom I would consider to be from the best of women, except that as soon as you mention this issue they completely flip and almost promote the slogans of secularism without even realizing it. And there is no ability nor might except with Allah. Rather, from amongst them is she who praises Allah that her husband was killed before taking multiple wives, and to Allah we belong and to Him we will return! To her likes I say: Why did you make hijrah? Wasn’t it to establish the Sharī’ah of Allah in the land? And isn’t polygyny a part of this Sharī’ah? Know then that the One who has honored the Muslim woman and has given her rights that protect her from the plots of the wicked is the very One who has permitted for the man to marry those that please him of women. And based on that, it is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to argue concerning the Sharī’ah of Allah, accepting what pleases her and rejecting what goes against her desires. Bishr al-Hāfī (died 227AH) said, “All calamities lie in following your desires, and all cures lie in opposing them” [Sifat as-Safwah].

And indeed, this religion is a whole that cannot be divided. Allah said, {So do you believe in part of the Scripture and disbelieve in part? Then what is the recompense for those who do that among you except disgrace in worldly life; and on the Day of Resurrection they will be sent back to the severest of punishment. And Allah is not unaware of what you do} [Al-Baqarah: 85]. So beware, my sister, of being from amongst such people, and beware of letting your blind jealousy lead you to disliking this shar’ī ruling, for it is feared that you would thereby fall into apostasy, as Allah said, {That is because they disliked what Allah revealed, so He rendered worthless their deeds} [Muhammad: 9]. Imām Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah stated when commenting on the āyah, {O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not} [Al-Hujurāt: 2], “So if raising their voices above his voice was a cause for rendering their deeds void, then how much more so is advancing and raising their opinions, intellects, personal tastes, politics, and experience over that which he came with? Is this not more befitting of being a cause for rendering their deeds void?” [I’lām al-Muwaqqi’īn].

And every Muslimah should know that it is normal for her to be jealous and feel sad if her husband marries another woman, and we are not better than the Mother of the Believers, the pure siddīqah, daughter of as-Siddīq, ‘Ā’ishah, of whose jealousy much has been narrated. However, she never opposed what Allah had permitted and did not prevent her husband – the Prophet – from marrying another woman. Ā’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her and with her father) never stood in his way saying, “It’s either me or her. Divorce me and marry her.” Far be it from her to do so!

The Shaytān – and it may be a human shaytān from amongst the women – will say to you, “If he loved you, he wouldn’t have married another woman while being married to you.” So say to him or her, “Our Prophet married seven women after ‘Ā’ishah while she was the most beloved person to him, and his love for her did not weaken or decrease, until our Lord allowed him to pass away in her room with his head between her chest and her neck. May my mother and father be sacrificed for him!”

He will also say to you, “You never had any shortcomings in any of your dealings with him, so where does he get the right to marry another woman while being married to you?” So say to him, “Even if I were from the most perfect of women, and the best of them in character, beauty, knowledge, and manners, the Legislator has not exempted me from amongst other women, and has given the man the right to marry a second, a third, or a fourth woman!”

The whisperer, whether human or jinn, will also say to you, “You can prevent him, make things difficult for him, make his life unpleasant, and incite the children against him.” So say to him, “Yes, I can, and indeed the schemes of women are tremendous, as our Lord has described, but where would I be with respect to having fear of my Lord b? And where would I be with respect to Him making things difficult for me in the Dunyā, and His questioning of me in the Hereafter, if I oppose what He has allowed and hate what He has permitted?!”

He will also say to you, “You will not bear seeing your husband with another wife, and it’ll inevitably be a fitnah for you with respect to your religious adherence!” So say to him, “It will not be a fitnah for me, and Allah is my protector. Allah will not abandon me when I have submitted to His wisdom and yielded to His law!” Then with the statement of Allah, cut off from them the channels through which they try to blow and inflate you with falsehood: {It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error} [Al-Ahzāb: 36].

And my advice to you, my sister, O wife of a man who practices polygyny: I know with certainty that there is no jihād more difficult for a slave than jihād against one’s inner self. Indeed, Ibnul-Qayyim said, “The most obligatory jihād is to wage jihād against one’s inner self, against one’s desires, against the Shaytān, and against the Dunyā. So whoever wages jihād against these four things for the sake of Allah, Allah will guide him upon the paths to attain His pleasure, which lead him to His Paradise” [Al-Fawā’id]. So if you wage jihād against this inner self that persistently incites you to do evil, place a barrier between you and the whispers of the retreater (Shaytān), restrain your jealousy with the reins of the Sharī’ah, and remain patient and forbearing and anticipate Allah’s rewards – for what is with Allah is better and more lasting – then you will be at ease, enjoy relief, and have a pleasant life.

So pay no attention to the statements of unprincipled women whose sources of reference are vile plays and soap operas. Rather, let your example be the women of the prophetic household. And every sister should know that when her husband wants to marry another woman, it’s not obligatory for him to consult her, nor to seek her permission, nor to try and appease her. If he does that, it is an act of generosity on his part and a means of preserving the companionship between the two of them. So be content, my sister, submit to Allah with obedience, and yield to His law. And if a woman does this, then it is fitting for the Most Generous to increase her rewards in the Dunyā and the Hereafter.

Here, I also wish to address the men, both those who have multiple wives and those who intend to take multiple wives, and remind them of two matters. The first is that the woman, as is known, was created from a curved rib, so if you, our brother, have made the decision to marry a second, then I remind you by Allah to be gentle with her and speak softly to her, and be extremely patient and tolerating when you inform her of your intent. Don’t be afraid of her initial reaction, be patient with her, and use in your advice the words of Allah and the hadīth of His Prophet. And if she’s stubborn, then frighten her with the Almighty and remind her that this is a part of this Sharī’ah, and that we are in a state whose system of rule is khilāfah upon prophetic methodology inshā’allāh. If, however, she refuses and is arrogant then I say to you what Allah said addressing the best of those who walked the earth: {O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful} [At-Tahrīm: 1]. Imām at-Tabarī r says, “The people of knowledge differed over which lawful matter Allah had permitted for His Messenger and His Messenger then prohibited himself from. Some of them said that it was Māriyah, his Coptic slave-girl, whom he prohibited for himself with an oath that he would not come near her, thereby seeking to please his wife Hafsah Bint ‘Umar, because she had become jealous of Māriyah being alone with Allah’s Messenger on her day and in her room. Others said that it was something he used to drink and which he liked. The correct statement on this issue is to say that what the Prophet prohibited for himself was something that Allah had made lawful for him, and it’s possible that it was his slave-girl, and it’s possible that it was a type of drink, and it’s possible that it was something other than that, but whatever it was, he prohibited for himself something that was lawful for him so Allah admonished him for prohibiting something that He had made lawful for him and declared the dissolution of the oath which he had taken and that it was forbidden for him to make this prohibited for himself.” For this reason, don’t make it prohibited for yourself to help preserve the honor of a widow or become the guardian of an orphan because you seek to please your wife!

As for the second issue, then I wish to remind the men, both those who have multiple wives and those who intend to take multiple wives, to fear Allah, and also remember that oppression will be darkness on the Day of Judgment, and that the crooked side of your body will not be rectified by the wife whom you crookedly inclined to in the Dunyā, thereby oppressing another of your wives in the process and falling short in your duties towards her and mistreating her. That day {a man will flee from his brother and his mother and his father and his wife and his children} [‘Abas: 34-36].

Furthermore, the frontiers of the Islamic State – may Allah grant it victory – have increased in number and its front lines have multiplied after all the paths of kufr and nifāq allied together to wage war against it, and no war takes place except that there are people killed on both sides, as Allah said, {Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed} [At-Tawbah: 111].

How many a shahīd ascends from this Dunyā – we consider him so, and Allah is his judge – and leaves behind a grieving wife and orphaned children. So who after Allah is willing to take care of them? If one of the Sahābah were killed and he had a wife, the others would race one another to propose to her once she had completed her ‘iddah, each one wanting to help preserve her honor and become the guardian of an orphan, knowing that his reward is with the Master. And I used to always say to my Muslim sisters, “Allah says, {Never will you attain the good [reward] until you spend from that which you love. And whatever you spend – indeed, Allah is Knowing of it} [Āli ‘Imrān: 92], and the husband is from amongst that which the wife loves, so why doesn’t she spend from him, seeking the face of her Lord, by being content with him marrying another woman?” Let every sister just put herself in the shoes of the wife of a shahīd and sacrifice some of the selfishness that is a part of our nature!

And our final call is: Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all creation. May Blessings and peace be upon our leader, Muhammad, and upon all his family and companions.

It’s very long, but no-one can attack me for quoting it out of context. I don’t even know where to start with this, but I do know that any claim that DAESH makes that they treat women well and as equals is demonstrated to be false by this article. There are, of course, many allegations against DAESH in their treatment of women. Although I personally think a lot of them are true, none has yet been proven in a court of law. This article though shows an attitude towards women that is appalling, and to me damns the whole organization.

For an explanation of my use of the words “Auē Tēnei Wiki” see Auē a Tau Kē Tēnei Wiki.

38 Responses to “Auē Tēnei Wiki: Women in DAESH”

  1. Martin Fuller says:

    I have just read “Inside Isis: by Benjamin Hall. The book is a frank and factual insight into the horrors of Isis and reinforces what you have been writing about Heather. I recommend the book as essential reading for all.

    • I’ve heard about Hall’s book, and I’d like to read it. I don’t know what the solution to this issue is, but more knowledge about the problem will help us find one.

      • Ken says:

        As we’ve discussed before, surely the solution lies in starving Daesh of recruits and money. The first entails a great reduction in Western interventions that have led to so many, mainly Arab, deaths and destabilisations of their countries. It also requires that refugees be welcomed in the West and the same rights afforded them as anyone else. Just as important, progress towards a two-state solution has to begin, by first ending support for illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian lands. The second involves Western countries actually taking an interest in how Daesh is funded first of all, and then targeting those funding streams by freezing the assets of individuals, and applying political and economic sanctions to countries that won’t stop. Of particular importance is Saudi Arabia, who appears to be the main funder of radical Islamic teaching and of Daesh directly as well. Their special relationship with the US must end for Islamic terrorism to be reduced.

        These things may not be easy, but that’s different to not knowing what to do. The sooner citizens of Western countries demand these actions from their govts, the sooner we’ll see progress with Daesh and others. Otherwise, we’re just chatting.

        • Martin Fuller says:

          Ken, you are close to some of the points made by Benjamin Hall. The sources or finance are now well traced and known. These include the access, selling and trading in oil, the ransoms which are often not disclosed and the support from a number of Islamic countries in the middle east who are funding as a type of insurance.

          In view of the banking connections it will be very difficult to cut of this funding but “we” need to try and do our best to inhibit the spread of barbarism.

          As a first move I believe that the there should be moves to cut off as much access to oil as is possible.

        • paxton marshall says:

          Sensible advice as usual Ken. A bigger challenge than defeating ISIS however, is to change the mindset of “western exceptionalism” (your term, I believe) that assumes that we are enlightened and innocent while whoever opposes us are evil, and thus justifies our atrocities while we decry theirs. When I was young it was the danger of the world-wide communist movement that justified our killing a million or so Vietnamese. When the Islamic world quiets down, we have China in the wings as the next great enemy of civilization. Why can’t we mind our own business and let them mind theirs, even if we disapprove of how they do it? Is it really concern for human rights of the victims, or is it really more western imperialism in a different guise?

          • Ken says:

            Yea, though I don’t see them as different projects. Rather, understanding that our intentions have not been benign historically is a key to reducing future violent interventions in particular.

            We mind our own business with lots of countries, no matter how badly they act up. As Chomsky says, if their main export is pickles, we don’t invent reasons to invade. So imperialism is more often the motivation. But I do think there are times that justify intervention, but it is so difficult to show that the intervention is a just one, that I agree our default position should be to stay put and let people deal with their own problems as much as possible.

  2. paxton marshall says:

    Thanks Heather. Very interesting article on Polygyny. This is not a religious rant, but a well thought out consideration of the issue and its practical consequences, albeit based on the Quran and the assumption that the men would be fighting and dying in jihad.

    Here’s an interesting article about three women who accepted marriages to ISIS soldiers, though there was no polygyny involved.

    I’ve wondered, in light of the US supreme court decision outlawing discrimination against same sex couples seeking to marry, if the ban against polygyny could withstand a similar court challenge here.

    DAESH is a grotesque lesson in the unintended consequences of military action to achieve regime change. We can destroy the existing government, but we cannot control what will replace it. Instead, the neocons and war profiteers are seeking to repeat the mistakes of Bush’s Iraq and Johnson’s Vietnam yet again. It’s time we stopped denying that our (western, primarily US and UK) meddling is largely responsible for this mess, and as long as we engage in sowing terrorism we must expect to reap terrorism in return. Self righteous horror at Daesh attacks on the west, while blithely ignoring what we have done to them, is an exercise in self-delusion.

    • More and more people, even on the right, seem to be accepting that Western actions in the Middle East are a significant factor here.

      I’ve got some stuff on DAESH funding streams I want to write about, and I also want to analyse the article above from Dabiq in more detail.

      I’ve been wondering about the legal acceptance of polygany too. While I personally struggle with the idea, especially as a woman, I’m not sure I can come up with any valid legal reasons why it should be banned.

      I find many of the attitudes demonstrated towards women in the article above absolutely appalling, but there’s also an argument to be made that if polygyny was legal, the women in these situations would have some protection. The only way to stop it long-term is by education and changing attitudes. You can’t force someone to think differently just by making something illegal.

      • paxton marshall says:

        Agreed. It’s a question of how to protect women and girls from exploitation. Here in the US some Mormon splinter groups still practice plural marriage clandestinely. Not so bad if all the women are consenting adults. But often the “brides” are children being forced to marry old men.

        I thought the following sentence from the DAESH document was particularly chilling: “As for concubines, then there is no limit.”

        • That last sentence got me too.

          As for the Mormon splinter groups, I think even many of the adult women in them don’t have a choice. Because of their upbringing, especially if they’re in a group run by someone like Warren Jeffs, they don’t have the information to make an informed choice.

          Also, this idea where widows have to marry someone because they need a man to look after them. They only need a man because of the inequalities mandated in the religion.

      • Ken says:

        More and more people, even on the right, seem to be accepting that Western actions in the Middle East are a significant factor here.

        I hope people on the right are opening their eyes, but I haven’t seen much evidence yet. Certainly I’m dealing with some people with very closed eyes on Facebook. I know that’s not very representative, but there sure are some scarred folks out there. People for whom the term Islamophobe is almost an understatement.

        • There are a lot of people who are scared at the moment, and it’s making Islamophobia more acceptable I think. I blame the failure of people like Obama to state that it’s “Islamist” terrorism. Let’s face it – most people in the West are pretty ignorant about Islam, even those of us who know a bit about it. They see all Islam as the same, and many don’t know more then a handful of Muslims, if any. Ignorance breeds fear. Fear breeds hate. I really like Maajid Nawaz’s statement of the problem as the “Voldemort Effect.” If people understood the difference between Islam and Islamism, for example, I think it would help them separate in their minds the terrorists from other Muslims.

          When a Christian fundamentalist blows up an abortion clinic, you don’t see everyone getting a hate on all Christians because they understand the difference. We don’t see all Christians being abused for being homophobes when people like Kim Davis come out of the woodwork – everyone understands that not all Christians are like that. We need to get the same attitude towards Muslims – get more understanding that they’re all different just like everyone else.

          • Ken says:

            Agree, but I can understand it too. People are afraid to call a spade a spade in a climate where racism is so rampant that anything that feels like conceding to the right’s prejudices just seems unconscionable. But denying a truth, however less important it is to coming up with the right solutions than other factors, makes arguing with the right all the more difficult. Better to agree and shift to how that particular truth changes very little. I think Maajid’s definitions that clearly separate the terms Islam, Islamism and Jihadism, is a very useful contribution in this regard.

          • Ken says:

            And I’d make the same argument for the term Islamophobia. People like Harris and Dawkins don’t just think it doesn’t apply to them, they deny the possibility that it applies to anyone. While it may be true that for some, it is simple racism in disguise, I know people who really are much more concerned about what they see as the religious peril of accepting Muslim refugees, than what their race is. Denying the word has a valid meaning makes it harder for Harris and Dawkins to argue why they think it doesn’t apply to them.

          • As an aside, I always think it’s funny when people like the clearly “one of the good guys” Ken uses a phrase like “call a spade a spade.”

            It’s origins are racist – a “spade” was originally derogatory term for a black person, and “calling a spade a spade” was to not be afraid of pointing out someone was bad.

          • Ken says:

            Heather, it’s origins aren’t racist. Wiki says the phrase goes back 2000 years to Plutarch, while the use of “spade” for a black person dates from 1928. I just looked this up, because though I didn’t know those specifics, I know that even in my day growing up in the States, people understood spade meant shovel and that you had to be quite specific to use it as a racial slur, which of course many people did. I would certainly choose different words when at school.

          • I wasn’t trying to insult you or anything – sorry if it came across like that. I didn’t know about Plutarch using it, and I’ve even read some bits of him! That’s interesting. 🙂 I just remember how it was used in some British fiction from the early – mid 20th century.

          • Ken says:

            Thanks, I didn’t take it that way at all! I need to use more emojis.

      • paxton marshall says:

        Here’s a good article on how the Bush administrations actions in Iraq created ISIS/DAESH: Who are the people on the right who accept “that Western actions in the Middle East” have contributed to the chaos, Heather? Certainly none of the Republican candidates, except maybe Rand Paul, who is an isolationist. I have noticed that Jerry Coyne admits that there are other factors besides religion that contribute to terrorism by Muslims, including ” the mishandling of many Middle Eastern situations by the West”, though he did not elaborate on just what these are. But I have not seen him admit that this “mishandling” consisted of terroristic attacks that have killed far more Muslims than Muslim attacks have killed westerners. I’m still waiting for those who see religion as the primary cause of Muslim attacks on the west to examine the religious roots of western military attacks on Muslim countries. Certainly greed and oil have been the biggest factors, but religious arrogance has been a big factor all along.

        • It is a good article, which I would say because it makes exactly the points I’ve made several times myself. The de-Baathification of Iraq and the extreme pro-Shi’a sectarianism of the al-Maliki government created an environment that meant terrorist groups were all but inevitable.

  3. AU says:

    The thing I found most uncomfortable about that was that if the man wants another wife, the woman has no say. I was under the impression that if a man chooses to take another wife, the woman has the right to demand divorce.

    I don’t have a problem with multiple wives, I wouldn’t want such a relationship, I mean, yeah, it would be heaven for my sex life, but I like to think there is more to a relationship than just sex life, but if all parties involved are happy, who cares?

    • I thought the woman had the right to divorce too. However, this article may be just how the issue is interpreted within DAESH. Their senior interpreter of the law is al-Baghdadi. Because there’s no standard canon, the issue is open to interpretation by the judge, as in all Sharia courts.

  4. paxton marshall says:

    I don’t think most people make such fine distinctions about whether it is race, religion, language, customs etc that make them fear the other. That they are different is enough, and if we see them as a threat, then we want to counter that threat. For the average person in a western country, the probability of being killed in a terrorist attack remains exceedingly small, much smaller than just being murdered in the US. More people are killed in traffic accidents every month in France, than were killed in the latest attack. Fear is manufactured by our political, media, and corporate leaders for their own purposes. Bush used fear after 9/11 to manufacture a case for invasion of Iraq. It didn’t matter to most Americans, that it was not Iraqis who attacked us on 9/11. For most people Muslims are Muslims. They don’t know a Sunni from a Shia, or an Indonesian from a Moroccan. If all the politicians and the news media are telling them that people are a threat, they don’t make too much distinction about whether they are Soviets or Russians, Muslims or Islamists. But people are generally fair and they know that people of any one race or religion are not all bad. The worse white racists in the American south often had black nannies that they loved.

    So I don’t get your point Heather, about whether Obama says “it’s “Islamist” terrorism”, makes a difference? We can develop a whole vocabulary for degrees of badness in muslims. Islamists are not necessarily terrorists any more than Muslims are necessarily Islamists (whatever an Islamist is) Sure everyone knows that most Muslims are not terrorists, but that doesn’t stop most of us from feeling a little queasy when getting on a plane with some very obviously Muslim men.

    And yes, I think a lot of people get hate on Christians for their rabid anti-abortion stance, as exemplified most extremely by blowing up abortion clinics, and their rabidly anti-homosexual stance, as exemplified in the Kim Davis episode. Sure, we realize all Christians are not like that, but we think worse of Christians in general, because some of them are.

    • Ken says:

      It’s not just that Obama won’t call this terrorism Islamist, it’s that he says that it has nothing to do with Islam. While I don’t think Islam is the prime motivating factor in Islamic terrorism, it is ridiculous to pretend it plays no part at all, or that Daesh somehow isn’t Islamic, however twisted. As I said above, I understand why people don’t want to feed the right-wing hate beast, but it’s plain silly to pretend there is a canonical version of Islam against which other interpretations can be so judged.

      Maajid Nawaz argues that by doing this, Muslims aren’t given the language to argue for reform inside of Islam. Also that non-Muslims have only the tag “Islam” to focus on, which contributes to their treating all Muslims the same. He offers the definitions: Islam – the religion, Islamism – the desire to impose Islam on society, and Jihadism – Islamism by force. I don’t see a problem with this.

        • Ken says:

          The article seems a bit confused to me. Most of the rationale presented supports my view (and the comparison of McVeigh with the Paris doesn’t work at all), yet the writer reaches the opposite conclusion. I wonder what she would think of Nawaz’s terms, which would seem to address her main concern.

        • I’m not really sure what the writer is saying here. I feel like she’s still at the beginning of the conversation, while the rest of us are now in the middle.

          For example, she says, “The crux of the matter is whether to attribute the killings, bombings, rapes and beheadings perpetrated by Islamic State to Islam or to a minority of its adherents.”

          This isn’t the crux of the matter at all, and only the most simplistic of commentators are framing the argument this way.

          She concludes with, “To do this we need to separate the zealots from their religion and not conflate the two, or we risk alienating the very people who have the most to gain and the most to lose in this struggle.”

          The problem with that is that the zealots use their interpretation of Islam as the reason and excuse for their behaviour. As such the two are intertwined in the minds of the general public, and saying things like, “DAESH has nothing to do with Islam,” just makes people roll their eyes.

          What I’ve been saying (for a very long time) is that this is why we need to name radical Islamism so that it becomes a separate thing from Islam in the general lexicon. I’m so pleased someone with Nawaz’s background says the same thing, as he’s someone people will listen to. The British government certainly are.

          Once people understand and are comfortable with terms like Islamism vs Islam, it should reduce the anti-Muslim bias and fear in the community when Islamist terrorists commit their atrocities. The us against them becomes peaceful people vs terrorists and not us against Islam. The majority of Muslims will be seen where they belong – on the side of peace. That would also help reduce the potential for radicalization imo.

    • What Ken said above is the point I was trying to make.

      I do agree that fear is being manufactured though. However, what I see on US TV is far, far worse than anything that is happening here. This new anti-refugee law in particular is, to me, bizarre. Because of public pressure, our government has increased the number of Syrian refugees it’s taking. Opposition parties, since Paris, are calling for that number to be increased even more. Refugees are probably the safest people coming into the country, not the most dangerous. Far more dangerous to the US are clean skins with passports and tourist visas. But now that Congress has stopped refugees coming in, they’ll be back to hating immigrants, who are also not as dangerous as some politicians insist. Tourists will continue to be ignored.

      • Ken says:

        Fortunately, Congress hasn’t stopped anything yet. The Senate hasn’t voted yet and Obama says he’ll veto it anyway, so it would have to pass by 2/3 the second time around for Congress to override the veto.

        • Yeah, but they might just be able to override the veto. As I’m sure you know, 47 Dems voted with the GOP, and that makes more than 2/3 of the House. I certainly hope you’re right though, and it doesn’t go through.

          • Ken says:

            The vote was very close. While it passed the 2/3 needed to overrule a veto by 5 votes, there were 9 who didn’t vote and 7 of those are Dems. In the event of a second vote, those absent Dems and those who voted in favour the first time will come under enormous pressure. Also, the Senate would need all 54 Reps and up to 13 others to get to 2/3. For these reasons, I doubt that a veto will be overruled in this case.

            For another reason why focussing on refugees is so stupid, have a look at this.


            Of course, this bill is more about right-wing ideology than keeping Americans safe, so facts like these will have no effect on Reps, but it should have some on wavering Dems.

          • Good news about the vote! I’m glad to know that the veto will likely be safe.

            Excellent link. I posted it on Twitter, then the Heather’s Homilies page on Facebook, and before I’d finished that, it’d already received multiple RTs/Likes on Twitter, and from USians too. Good to know there’s an appetite for the truth there.

            I saw one of the politicians who sponsored the US refugee legislation interviewed a couple of days ago.(Can’t remember which one now.) The reporter asked him about Europeans on visas, and he said that was too hard. To me that was more proof it’s about politics, drumming up fear, being seen to do something while insisting Obama is doing nothing etc. The solution of most of them seems to be to just bomb Raqqa off the face of the map. Too bad about the civilians, and clearly with no understanding that that would create more terrorists.

  5. I’ve been writing a follow-up post to this one, but I’m not up to finishing it today and I’m not going to be able to get into the site for the next few days due to some development/optimization work by the host of the site.

    This also mean that if a comment gets stuck in the spam filter, I won’t be able to release it in the meantime. Things to avoid are lots of links (more than two) and any words that might be construed as pornographic. e.g. if you want to say s*x, you have to do it with an asterisk or something.


  6. Paxton marshall says:

    That’s very reasonable , Heathet, but just what is an Islamist? And how is Islamism connected with terrorism? We can identify terrorists who are Islamic, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or many splinter beliefs. Whatever they may say their motives are, all are so committed to a movement that they think the means justify the ends. But these movements that spawn terrorism, have multiple antecedents, and to label them as Islamist, and to think the distinction between Islamist and Islamic, is an oversimplification in itself. They are Sunni or Shia. They are Kurd or Arabic, or Turkish, or Iranian. All acts of terror committed by Muslims will by considered to be Islamic terrorism to some degree, but the job of leaders should be to avoid stirring up either fear or hatred in the people. I’m not disputing the role of religion in the behavior of some radicals and terrorists. I’m just saying that the role is not so great as to justify labeling it as “Islamist” terrorism, as opposed to guerrilla wars of liberation. Western intrusions have destroyed millions of lives. Why should they not be angry?

    • Ken says:

      The Islamist ones are those yelling Allahu Akbar or otherwise claiming to act in the name of their religion. If we encounter terrorists who claim to be doing it in the name of Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or atheism, then I’ve no problem calling them them that instead.

      We have to counter the hatred already being stirred up against all Muslims by people who think their religion makes them all suspect. Arguing with these people about whether people who say they’re doing it in the name of their Islam are actually even Islamic seems to me impossible. Better to move the discussion to what other factors are causing them to act the way they do.

      • Paxton marshall says:

        So what do you call a born-again Christian US Air Force pilot, or an Israeli religious Jewish pilot, who kill civilians in their bombing runs? A Christian or Jewish terrorist? Or do we have to invent new names for them to indicate that all Christians and Jews aren’t terrorists? Maybe Christianists and Jewishists?

        And what about Sunni terrorists killing Shia (or the reverse) isn’t calling them Islamist terrorists just confusing the issue?

        And what if they yell Allahu Akbar, but their real grievance is that U.S. Or Israelis killed family members (as is very often the case)? Shouldn’t we really call them anti-imperialist terrorists. To call them Islamist terrorists, is simply another way of evading our own responsibility for what is happening.

        • Ken says:

          You are being very pedantic this week, Paxton!

          Because pilots are doing it primarily in the name of their govts (whatever other personal motives they may have), I call them members of the military, or perhaps state terrorists, depending on the nature of the conversation. For the others, usually referring to sectarian violence is enough to create the needed context to avoid confusion.

          In the situations that you and I are often arguing in, where there is much more knowledge and acceptance of the history, religion, politics, etc. that is involved, we can get as nuanced as you want about labels. That doesn’t work in a mainstream conversation where one side is saying it’s all about religion and politics has no important role at all. If you want a hope of getting through to this group that we have responsibility for the present situation too, and even that we have the greater amount responsibility, starting off by saying that the killers talking about Islam all the time have nothing to do with Islam just gets you no where. Much better to say, yep, they’re twisted Islamists, but that’s not even half the story and go from there.

        • Being an Islamist, i.e. an extremist, fundamentalist Muslim, doesn’t necessarily make you a terrorist. Statistics tell us that. However, DAESH, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab etc are Islamists, and they rely on the Islamist interpretation of Islam to justify their actions.

          It’s obvious to anyone that the members of these groups are Muslim. Saying they are not Muslim when it’s obvious they are just makes most people, who don’t think about it in a very nuanced way, think all Muslims have at least the potential to be like this because they share a religion.

          If we can separate Islamists from other Muslims in the minds of the general public it should promote understanding of the issue.

          It’s quite clear to me, for example, that the Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians in my town find the attitude of the US Southern Baptists towards gay people as abhorrent as I do. It needs to be common knowledge that most Muslims find the actions of their Islamist coreligionists abhorrent too. At the moment it’s not.

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