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Monday, November 27, 2006

Village idiots?

Interesting find over at Dean's World. On November 21st, Guest poster Ali Eteraz urged people to go read a piece on his own website about "The self-flaggelation of apostates." (Eteraz has trouble figuring out that when apostates from Islam refer to themselves as apostates, they are referring to the flaggelation that Islam traditionally imposes on apostates, via the traditional punishment of death.)

In the comments, host Dean Esmay does himself proud by demanding that Eterez answer a simple question: do you approve the death penalty for apostasy or not?

Eteraz answers:

Taq ya very much.

:waving to village idiots from my camel:
The bizarre thing is, nobody gets it. Eteraz has just admitted that he favors the death penalty for apostasy, saying that he is against it "Taq ya very much," or taqiyya very much. Has no one at Dean's world heard of the concept of "taqiyya" (the Arabic/Muslim word for religiously sanctioned deception, where jihadist Muslims are allowed to lie in order to appear less dangerous)?

It is an interesting case of hubris. Eteraz did not have to reveal himself as a proponent of the death penalty for apostasy here. The doctrine of taqiyya allows him to lie without making any hidden indication that he is lying. But apparently he could not resist the opportunity to be clever and “wave at the village idiots” from his camel.

I decided to Google "taq ya very much," just to see if other taqiyyists might be revealing themselves by using this phrase. Only one other instance showed up: another post by Eteraz, this one from two weeks earlier, claiming that "taq ya very much" is a popular new Muslim phrase for taqiyya.

The google search casts doubt on how popular the phrase is, but Eteraz's earlier post certainly clarifies the meaning of his later one.

Broadening my Google search to "taq ya," I found another Eteraz post. Bill from INDC had offered his own bit of taqiyya word play:
Ali -

How do I know you are not just doing the ancient Musselman art of tequila?
Ali responds:
bill, lol

b/c jose cuervo aint a muslim, meng

but thats really good

taq ya very much for the laugh
Well, at least the guy has a sense of humor, but favoring death for apostasy makes Eteraz part of the larger traditional/radical Muslim conspiracy to commit murder. He is an Islamo-fascist, and should not be treated as anything better. If there is some other interpretation? Is supporting the death penalty for apostates all a big "joke," like Kerry's slander of the military? The two are about as likely anyway. [But, see UPDATE below.]

The broader "taq ya" Google search yields ten pages of hits, a few of which suggest that taq'ya is sometimes used as an alternative spelling for taqiyya, but outside of Eteraz, there are no examples of anyone using it as a disguised reference to taqiyya.

UPDATE: When I first put up this post, I was spelling Eteraz's name wrong (I had it as Eterez). Hence when I was googling to see what else he had written, I tossed an airball. Spelling his name right, I see that he has written what he claims is an almost airtight Islamic legal argument against the death penalty for apostasy.

Personally, I believe there is such an argument to be made, though I am highly skeptical of Eteraz's attempt. He tries to create such an argument within the traditional rules of Islamic jurisprudence, while I think the only way to do it is by recognizing that the traditional rules of Islamic jurisprudence must be rejected as constituting the most naked idolatry (using the words and actions of Muhammad the man as an interpretive guide to the Koran, the supposed words of God that Muhammad claimed to receive from the archangel Gabriel).

All sincere attempts to formulate an interpretation of Islam that rejects Islam's Berlin Wall (its death penalties for apostasy and blasphemy) should be welcomed. Unfortunately, in assessing Muslim arguments, one must always assess the likelihood of taqiyya. It turns out that Robert Spencer has analyzed Eteraz's "almost airtight" legal argument and found that, while following the methods of traditional Islamic jurisprudence, it contributes nothing new that would alter the conclusions of traditional Islamic jurisprudence.

Are Eteraz's claims to the contrary sincere, or are they meant to mislead those who tend to accept reformist claims uncritically, so that they will remain off-guard about Muslim intentions? (Esmay is almost militant in his partisanship for proclaimed reformers, repeatedly attacking Robert Spencer for undertaking skeptical analyses.)

At this point, I would say that Eteraz has some explaining to do. Is it mere coincidence that his "almost airtight argument" was posted at Dean's World on the same day (11/8) that his new scheme for making hidden references to taqiyya was posted on his own website?

If Eteraz genuinely rejects murder-cult Islam and wants to help form a moral Islamic alternative, I encourage him whole-heartedly, but how can a self-professed taqiyyist possibly be sincere about such reform? It is certainly plausible that Eteraz expected people to understand his "Taq ya" reference and meant it as a joke. On the other hand, presenting anodyne assurances that there is nothing to fear from traditional Islamic jurisprudence is classic taqiyya. Will the real Ali Eteraz please stand up.

UPDATE II: I should also add that Eteraz's "flaggelation" post is not as bad as I first thought. The post continues into a second box, which on my first reading I assumed was written by a commentator. I now see that it was written by Eteraz, and while the post on the whole remains remarkably unsympathetic to those who are challenging Islam's Berlin Wall with their lives (something that Eteraz, firmly ensconsed behind the Berlin Wall, as he plies his traditional Islamic jurisprudence, does not have to worry about), the second half is at least cognizant, and somewhat appreciative, of what the self-described apostates are doing.

Dean claims in reply that I have fallen for what he calls “taqiyya libel.” He claims that only a very small minority of Muslims believe in religious deception at all, and then only in the most restricted circumstances, for defensive, not aggressive purposes. He equates the idea of Muslim deception to the blood libels that are so often directed against the Jews.

Let me first of all note that this would be highly ironic. Eteraz’s post about “self-flaggelating apostates” likens apostates from Islam calling themselves apostates to blacks calling each other nigger, which Eteraz says he finds distasteful and wrongheaded. Now we are to understand that he is calling himself a taqiyyist in exactly the same fashion? He is adopting the name that he rejects to “de-mythologize it,” or wallow in it, or whatever it is he condemns when other people do similar things?

That is certainly possible. Nothing is more common than inconsistency. But the larger issue here is the question of whether Muslims can be trusted to follow a moral interpretation of their religion. Some can. Some can’t, and both groups are large. What is crucial is to distinguish between them. Taqiyya makes this difficult, and moral Muslims joking about taqiyya (if this describes Ali) makes it more difficult still.

If one wants to be technical, one can distinguish “taqiyya” as having a self-protective role, in contrast the Islamic concept of “kitman,” which provides religious sanction for malevolent deception in the waging of jihad. The point is that traditional Islam does sanction the use of deception for defeating unbelievers, and does so very prominently.

Numerous hadiths and verses of the Koran extol deception in the waging of war. The question then becomes how a particular Muslim interprets jihad. Is it a general command to achieve conquest, whether by violent or peaceful means? Or is religiously sanctioned violence limited to defense against violent attack, or conspiracy to commit violence? Again, there are large numbers of Muslims on both sides (even if established Islamic doctrines, and the historical practices they coincide with, are almost entirely on the side of violent imperialism).

To just say that Muslims can be trusted, while rejecting suspicion as slanderous bigotry, is absurd, and plays right into the hands of the violently imperialistic “Islamo-fascists.” If the bad are not distinguished of the good (through use of such terms as “Islamo-fascism” to refer explicitly to the bad) then the good are injured by unnecessary association with the bad, and the bad are advantaged by sympathy for the good.

Distinguishing the good from the bad takes work. There can be no assumptions. The fact that a large portion of the world’s Muslims (about half) sympathize with mass murder, and that a very substantial portion would abet it, means that we have to figure out, Muslim by Muslim, who can be trusted and who can’t.

Joking about taqiyya, as if -- ha ha ha, of course all Muslims are honest, and it is just a paranoid bigotry to imagine otherwise -- is no help at all. Indeed, it seems quite overtly taqiyya-ish, as if someone had managed, through deception about established Islamic interpretations, to convince the denizens of Dean's World that non-believers have nothing to fear from traditional Islamic principles developed over a thousand years of violent conquest. That would be quite a feat of taq ya very much. Interesting that so many Dean's Worlders find it to be a big joke.

I do not assume that Ali is not sincere, but I find his analyses un-compelling, and his motives unclear. It does not help that he seems to have convinced a large number of people that Muslim dishonesty is a phantasm.

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