Donald Trump said on March 9, 2016 that he thinks “Islam hates us,” drawing little distinction between the religion and radical terrorism by some misguided and angry Muslims.
“I think Islam hates us,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, deploring the “tremendous hatred” that he said partly defined the religion. Trump doubled down on that statement during the Republican debate the following night.
On “Fox News Sunday,” March 13, Chris Wallace told Trump that among the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, “according to the best experts, think tanks around the world, they say at most, 100,000 people are fighting for jihadist causes. That’s less than — it’s a tiny fraction of 1 percent.”
In response Trump claimed that a Pew Research Center survey found that among the world’s Muslims, “27 percent, could be 35 percent, would go to war” against the U.S.
In his remarks on Sunday, he also said, “It would be easier for me to say, “Oh, no, everybody loves us.” But there’s something going on. There’s a big problem. And radical Islamic terrorism is taking place all over the world.”
When the Pew Research Center was contacted, it said it has conducted no survey that asks such a question. “The Center has not issued a survey saying that 27 percent of Muslims would go to war with the US, nor has the Center asked a question of Muslims about ‘going to war,’ ” Dana Page, a spokeswoman for the Pew Research Center, said.
Pew Research did publish a report in 2014 that generally found concern about Islamic extremism is high among countries with substantial Muslim populations. It found that overall, few Muslims endorse “suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets as a means of defending Islam against its enemies.”
For example, in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population in the world, 89 percent said suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians are rarely or never justified.
But those who expressed support for violence to defend Islam from its enemies didn’t say, nor were they asked, if they “would go to war” with the U.S., as Trump claims.
Pew Research Center also found that “most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of the terrorist group ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94 percent in Jordan.” [This refers to the terrorist group Daesh, or what is known here in the West as the Islamic State, a.k.a. the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).] And strong majorities in most countries with substantial Muslim populations have unfavorable opinions of al Qaeda, the group responsible for the 9/11 attacks.
By the way, such unfounded accusations by Trump are not new. Last December, Trump released a statement that called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” and cited Pew Research and the Center for Security Policy. It said:
According to Pew Research, among others, there is great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population. Most recently, a poll from the Center for Security Policy released data showing “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad and 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert, beheadings and more unthinkable acts that pose great harm to Americans, especially women.” (December 7, 2015)
The Center for Security Policy (CSP) in June 2015 did an on-line survey of 600 American Muslims, culled from those who had previously agreed to respond to such surveys. It found that 29 percent agreed that “violence against those that insult the prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an, or Islamic faith is sometimes acceptable.” Also, 25 percent agreed that “violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.”
It should be noted that experts warn that an opt-in Internet survey is notoriously unreliable. Even the CSP itself cautions that the survey can’t be used to represent the American Muslim population at large, but rather “the results are of those individual Muslims polled.” The sample size is also too small for an unbiased study. [It appears that if alpha risk chosen was 0.05, then the margin of error for the CSP study was 4%.]
The Washington Post noted that the president and founder of the CSP, Frank Gaffney, is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim extremist. The survey doesn’t represent all Muslims living in the United States — only those surveyed who purported to be Muslim. The survey may include ex-Muslims and even anti-Muslim hawks and zealots. So, the very premise of Trump’s assertion is simply absurd.
A recent Pew research asked voters how the next president should talk about extremism and Islam. According to Pew research published in February, “about two-thirds of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (65 percent) – including seven-in-ten conservative Republicans (70 percent) – want the next president to speak bluntly about extremism even if it means being critical of Islam.” By contrast, 70 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents “say the next president should be careful not to criticize Islam as a whole.”
As is quite apparent from this year’s U.S. presidential debates, the Republican Party truly has a ‘Muslim problem’. Much like the fascists and Nazis of Mussolini-Hitler era with Jews, they are brazenly exploiting anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred to present themselves as viable candidates. If you are wondering why these politicians would do so, the answer is: bigotry sells.
Bigotry against Islam has become a lucrative business. There are thousands of pen-pushing ‘experts’ these days that have made a living selling bigotry against Muslims in the aftermath of 9/11. They have mastered the art of cherry-picking Qur’anic verses and ahadith without tracing such verses and narratives to the context of time or period, place and person (i.e., the 3P’s). In so doing, they deliberately mischaracterize Islam and create hatred against Muslims.
These bigots often cite the verses from the Surah at-Tawbah, which were revealed about the inveterate enemies of Islam, i.e., the mushriq (pagan) oppressors of Arabia who had violently persecuted the nascent Muslim community of Makkah for 13 long years, who had evicted them and tried to wipe them out in the next 8 years, so as to prove how intolerant Islam is or its Prophet Muhammad (S) was. They are oblivious of the unfathomed cruelty and torture (that are worse than water-boarding war crimes) suffered by the Prophet (S) and his companions – Bilal ibn Rabah, Sumayya, Khabbab bin al-Aratt, and Habib ibn Zayd al-Ansari (RA) and many others – in the hands of those pagan Arabs (see this author’s book: Devotional Stories – for their stories). They are equally silent about the Prophet’s (S) pardoning his old enemies on the Day of Conquest of Makkah.
After removing the impurity of idolatry from the Ka’aba, Muhammad (S) posed a question to the Quraysh (the former enemies): “How do you think, I am going to treat you now?” They said: “You are a generous brother, and the son of a generous brother. We expect only charity and forgiveness from you.” He said: “I will tell you what Joseph said to his brothers: ‘There is no blame on you today’ (Qur’an 12:92). Go now; all of you are my freedmen.” [Mowlana Abul Kalam Azad, The Messenger of Mercy]
The Prophet (S) declared a general amnesty in Makkah. The amnesty extended even to the apostates. He forbade his army to plunder the city or to seize anything that belonged to the Quraysh. “Quraysh had left nothing undone to compass his destruction, and the destruction of Islam; but in his hour of triumph, he condoned all their crimes and transgressions.” (Ibid.)
In the words of historian Sir John Glubb, “Eight years earlier Muhammad had left Makkah as a fugitive with a price on his head, and now he was entering the same city as its conqueror. His manner, however, bespoke not of pride or even of exultation but of gratitude and humility – gratitude to God for His mercy in bestowing success upon His humble slave, and humility in the contemplation of the vanity of worldly glory, and the evanescence of all things human.’” [The Great Arab Conquests]
The anti-Muslim zealots cite the chastisement of the Jews, esp. of Banu Qurayza, in Madinah to show how intolerant Prophet Muhammad (S) was and how horrible Islamic Shariah is for a non-believer to live under. Again, they won’t tell the kind of conspiracy and treason, let alone the assassination attempt against the Prophet (S), that those Medinite Jews had committed to deserve the punishment. [R.V.C. Bodley, The Messenger – the Life of Mohammed; see also: Rafiq Zakaria, Muhammad and the Quran] If they were to compare between the treatment meted out by Muhammad (S) and Musa [Moses] (AS) against the pagan Jews, they would find that Muhammad (S) was in deed a Rahmatul-lil-alameen (‘Mercy to the entire universe’): much kinder and gentler to the Jews and Christians than their own prophets.
To protect the nascent Muslim community from the marauding attacks of the mushriqs, the Prophet (S) had to fight dozens of defensive wars. The anti-Muslim zealots won’t tell their faithful that in all those battles in the outskirts of Madinah the total death count was miniscule compared to those killed (3000) by religious followers of Musa [Moses] (AS) amongst the children of Israel for their idolatry (Exodus 32:28). [See, also the Books of Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Ezekiel.] Similarly, they won’t tell that when Jesus, their lord, returns it would usher in an era of mass slaughter, beginning with the Jews. So much for non-violence in the New Testament!
If in their dictionary Muhammad (S) is depicted as a mass murderer, one can only wonder what epithets would qualify for the acts of Moses (AS), let alone Jesus (AS) – the son of Mary (in his second coming)!
If one were to ask the anti-Muslim zealots about the source of the verses like – “Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that had known man by lying with him. But all the women, children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves” – they would fancy that these must be part of the Islamic Shariah, and have come from the Qur’an. But the fact is: these genocidal verses are to be found in the Book of Numbers (31: 17-18, KJV), and not in the Qur’an. In the same Bible we find that Prophet Moses (AS) being instructed by God to kill the Midianites. “And they burnt all their cities wherein they dwelt, and all their goodly castles, with fire.” (Numbers 31:10)
As I have explained many times in some of my articles, all the Scriptures have their share of violent passages. The Qur’an does not have a monopoly there. As a matter of fact, its share of violent passages is insignificant compared to those of the Bible, and if we are to treat the Bible in the same way that these charlatans are doing with the Qur’an, it won’t require too much reading to conclude that the Bible is the most violent religious book. [See this author’s article, “Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi: Why a different yardstick for Muslims?” for a sample of violent and demeaning verses in Christian and Jewish religious books.] If the presence of some violent passages in the Qur’an make the Prophet of Islam a violent man, then most of the great personalities in the Bible: from Jacob to Moses to David to Jesus were no less violent individuals. [For a sample from the Torah, click here.]
When Christian zealots shield those Biblical violent verses from a comparable critique, and yet demand a different set of rules for Muslims, it is intellectual dishonesty. Such a norm is exemplary of the ancient Latin phrase, “Quod licet Iovi non licet bovi,” which means, “What is allowed to Jovi or Jupiter (or the pagan gods) is not allowed to the ox (or cattle).”
So, to these chauvinist Judeo-Christian crusaders, Zarqawi and ISIS symbolize Islam, but their own David Koresh, Jim Jones, and the Lord’s Resistance Army don’t represent Christianity! With a broad brush, they blame the entire Muslim world for the crimes of the few – the non-state terrorists (who actually have killed more Muslims than non-Muslims) but are mindful of shielding the evil image of their genocidal warlords – from the early Christian crusaders to Bush, Blair and Obama of our time – who killed millions of unarmed civilians, some under false pretexts. [And Trump boasts of going one step further than all his predecessors, if elected! Seemingly, his Judeo-Christian shariah permits atrocity, war crimes and mass murders. As a keen student of history all my life, I won’t be surprised.]
They won’t tell their mesmerized audience that their Christian hero King Richard, ‘the lion-heart’, had killed 3,000 Muslim prisoners of war in Accra during the third crusade. The Republican candidates are quite vocal in displaying their unfathomed love for Jewish Israel. They won’t tell that on September 3, 1189 when Richard was crowned as the king of England some 3,000 Jews were murdered in an orgy of massacre. The Jews of London were plundered and murdered, their homes and businesses burned down, and many baptized against their will. The pogrom against the Jews continued in other parts of England for several months.
And as to the Jewish experience living under Hitler’s Germany, probably the least said the better! Nothing of this kind ever happened to Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule. The Islamic Shariah, now a dirty word in the West, actually protected all those religious minorities.
The Qur’an says: “Mischief and corruption have appeared on land and sea because of (the evil) which men’s hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return.” (Surah ar-Rum 30:31)
We are living in an age of fitnah and fasad (trials and tribulations) when terrorism has become a reality in many parts of our world. Ordinary people are either being terrorized or getting lynched from all sides – the enemies from within and without. So miserable is the Muslim experience that they often don’t know why they are getting killed! Their own authoritarian governments, many subservient to foreign masters, have abandoned them, and act, as if, they have no accountability either before those ruled or before their Creator.
With few exceptions, Muslim lands, one after another have been attacked by invaders, people killed wantonly and everything destroyed forcing many to settle for a life of a stranger in a foreign land. Thanks to the merchants of war and advances in the killing machines like the drones, even the places of worship, hospitals and children’s schools are no longer safe from deadly attacks from the air, ground and sea. The lack of safety is causing adverse ripple effects in every sphere of life. Many youngsters are traumatized either by living within the killing fields or from watching TV programs (or the Internet) outside. Some are, sadly, becoming radicalized and are hitting back in a nihilistic madness.
Truly, the sense of hopelessness looms so unbearable that many young folks are angry. They are being misled and duped into joining extremist groups like the Daesh and Boko Haram.
Look at Syria and Yemen where some half a million Muslims have died in the last few years, and at least another 7 million displaced as a result of heavy bombardments, which qualify as war crimes, inflicted by two criminal governments. What was their crime? In both of these countries, the victims come from the majority sect – the Shi’as in Yemen and the Sunnis in Syria – who wanted a change from the unpopular minority rule.
To understand the deplorable condition there let’s ponder for a moment on some ahadith. Prophet Muhammad (S) in a well-known hadith, narrated via Ibn Umar (RA) which is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, said, “O Allah bestow your blessings on our Shaam. O Allah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.” The people said, “O Messenger of Allah, and our Najd.” The Prophet (S) again said, “O Allah bestow your blessings on our Shaam and Yemen.” The people said, “O Messenger of Allah, and our Najd.” On that the Prophet, (S), said, “There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from there appears the Horn of Satan.” In another hadith: Muhammad (S) said, “O Allah bestow your blessings on our Medina, O Allah bestow your blessings in our measuring, O Allah bestow your blessings in our Sham and our Yemen.” A person said, “And Najd, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “From there arises the horn of Satan and the trials and tribulations would come like mounting waves.” [From al-Awsat by at-Tabarani from Hadith of Ibn Umar and authenticated by Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Haythami in Mujma az-Zawaa`id (3/305)].
As a result of the chaos left behind by Bush-Blair and Obama, Daesh has become a major player in the conflict in Iraq and Syria. They are savvy with the use of the internet and have been able to dupe many religiously ignorant youths.
Is Daesh the neo-Khawarij (i.e., heretics) of our time? The Muslim scholars have long condemned their heretic, un-Islamic acts, declaring them Khawarij. When Daesh burned Jordanian pilot Muath alive in a cage, filming his agony, the Muslim world erupted. Fire as a punishment is strictly forbidden in Islam. Daesh beheaded some hostages, and killed some members of Nestorian Christian and Yazidi communities that have been living safely in Syria and Iraq for the last 14 centuries. However, far more Muslims have died from their evil, which Trump and his buddies don’t tell their audience.
Some ahadith may help to understand the heretic characteristics of Khawarij. Yusair bin ‘Amr narrated: “I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, ‘Did you hear the Prophet (S) saying anything about Al-Khawarij?’ He said, ‘I heard him saying while pointing his hand towards Iraq: There will appear in it some people who will recite the Qur’an but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts through the game’s body.’”
Ali (RA) said, “I heard the Holy Prophet (S) as saying that as the Day of Qiyamah (Doom’s Day) approaches there will appear a group of youths with a low mental capacity and understanding (lit., stupid youths), apparently they will talk of good but their Iman (faith) will not go beyond their throat and they will leave the true Deen [religion] like an arrow leaves the prey. Wherever you find them, you should make Jihad with them.” (Bukhari)
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) used to say about them, “These people took some Verses that had been revealed concerning the disbelievers and interpreted them as describing the believers.” He also said, “They will go out of the Islam as an arrow darts out of game’s body.” (Bukhari)
The violence and takfir associated with these neo-Khariji movements of our time bear more than a coincidental resemblance to the policies and mindset of the Khawarij of the Prophet Muhammad’s (S) and Ali’s (RA) time. It is no accident that these neo-Kharijis of our time blow up Muslim worshippers even inside mosques as if those targeted are worse than non-Muslims. They are a renegade movement and should not be taken as an Islamic movement.
Fourteen centuries ago, Raba’y bin ‘Aamir (RA), a Muslim Companion of the Prophet Muhammad (S) addressed the general of the Persian garrison in the following words: “[Islam summons] mankind from the lowliness of the earth to the heights of the heavens, from the servitude of each other to the service of the Lord of the Universe, and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam.” Yes, that was precisely the role that Islam tried to play in the global arena. Through its concept of tauhid or pure monotheism and universal brotherhood, it offered the world a road to salvation. Instead of making God manlike, it tried to make man godlike. And this it tried by providing three basic elements – faith in one God without any associate, reform of the self and reform of the society at large.
Genuine Islamic movements around the globe over the centuries, therefore, remained a religious commitment, a socio-economic-political program, but above all, a vehicle for the continuous reform of the society. And who can deny the importance of such forces and principles that make our world better for common good of all humanity?
Yes, terrorism has become a serious phenomenon today, which needs to be defeated. Extremism has no place in Islam. While we condemn Muslim deviants let’s not overlook the more heinous crimes, state terrorism practiced by the non-Muslim governments around the globe – from Buddhist Myanmar to Hindu India to Catholic Philippines to Orthodox Serbia and Russian to Anglican Britain to Protestant America to Jewish Israel to communist China. Let’s also not forget that in the recent decades (since the days of Jimmy Carter) the most powerful state on earth has elected some presidents who enjoyed huge support from the Evangelical, Christian Right whose crusading zeal for spreading Christianity and killing ‘infidel’ Muslims is more dangerous than those non-state actors in the Muslim world. With all the powers at their disposal, plus the criminal doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, they are, indeed, a greater threat to peace and security in our time.
In the post-colonial era, Muslims are not scripting world events but are in the reactive mode. It is not illogical to construe that if the Soviets had not invaded Afghanistan in the mid-1970s, and the US government and its CIA had not popularized ‘Jihad’ against those invaders there won’t be any Taliban and al-Qaeda today. If Bush & Blair did not invade Iraq in 2003 under the false pretext of finding the WMDs and carry out their indiscriminate murderous orgy, let alone stupid de-Ba’athification program, terrorists like Zarqawi (long dead) and Daesh won’t have existed today. And who knows how many new ‘Spartacus’, i.e., the so-called Jihadists, would emerge out of the ashes of recent wanton bombing campaigns by Putin’s Russia inside Syria!
We have refused to learn the lessons from history and, are therefore, doomed to repeat them! Far from the unsubstantiated claims of Trump, the religion of Islam is neither violent nor a problem in our age. However, how individuals choose to lead their own lives may vary. Thus, while the Muslim world has produced many saints like Ibrahim ibn Adham (R) and Mowlana Rumi (R), it has also produced despots like Bashar al-Assad and Al-Sissi. And the same is true for any religion, including Christianity which has produced saints like mother Teresa and also genocidal criminals like Bush and Blair.
The noble teachings of Islam can be antidotes most of our man-made problems, if we truly care to find out. [Interested readers may like to read this author’s book: Akhlaq: A Manual for Character Development].
Mr. Trump may like to read Karen Armstrong’s books to broaden his narrow worldview about Islam. In reviewing false charges of violence lodged against Islam and its Prophet (S), she commented, “Far from being addicted to warfare, Islam insists on the importance of peace. The message of the Qur’an is a plural vision; it respects and values other traditions.” He may also like to listen to veteran journalist John Pilger who said, “Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims – that is, the victims of American fundamentalism whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.” (New Statesman, September 17, 2001).
In closing, let me state that Muslim world is going through a period of unprecedented fitnah and fasad. Muslim societies are falling apart setting in motion a deep sense of despair, which is not healthy for anyone – neither its adherents nor others. They can complain and cry, and blame others for their miserable condition. But what they need more is to look inward to find the practical life-giving formula (of humanity’s victory over animality, victory of knowledge over ignorance, of justice over injustice, of equality over inequality, of virtue over corruption, of piety over faithlessness, of the oppressed over the oppressor) that once helped them to reach the zenith of civilization.
In closing let me share something which may be a starting point in that rediscovery.
Some 13 centuries ago, Ibrahim ibn Adham (R) (a disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah (R)) was asked, “Allah declares, ‘O My creatures! Ask from Me. I will accept, I will give.’ Whereas we ask, but He does not give, why?” Ibrahim ibn Adham (R) replied, “You entreat Allah, but do not obey Him. You know Muhammad (S), but you do not follow him. You read the Qur’an, but you do not follow the way it guides to. You utilize Allah’s blessings, but you do not thank Him. You know that Paradise is for those who worship, but you do not make prostrations for it. You know He has created Hell for those who are disobedient, but you do not abstain from disobeying Him. You see what happened to your fathers, grandfathers, but you do not take warnings. You do not see your own defects and you search for defects of others. Such must be thankful because it does not rain stones on them, because they do not sink into the earth and because it does not rain fire from the sky. What do they want next? Would not this suffice as the result of their prayers?” [Tadhkirat al-Auliya; Husayn Hilmi Isik, Endless Bliss; Habib Siddiqui, Wisdom of Mankind]