Monday, May 19, 2008

Words and Attitudes

I've always communicated to my children my belief that attitudes are more important than the words used to express those attitudes. I'm concerned if you have a lack of respect for another person. Whether you express that disrespect by calling that person a "stupid idiot" or a "f***ing a**hole" is irrelevant to me (I can hear my kids saying, "He never told us THAT!").

The reason I've been thinking about this lately is that both Arabs and Westerners are using new vocabulary to avoid offending the other. The State Department has instructed diplomats to no longer call jihadis jihadis. "Moderate Muslims" apparently informed the Department that "Extremist Muslim" was a more appropriate term.

Last night on Arabic TV two Muslim clerics pointed out that the expressions "al-muslim al-mu'tadil" (moderate Muslim) and "al-muslim al-mutatarrif" (extremist Muslim) do not even exist in Islamic theology but are Western inventions. The Quran and the sunna use no such terms. If you want to classify Muslims according to Islamic thinking, I am aware of two possibilities. The first is to make a distinction between the first Muslims in Mecca (where Islam was weak and propagated by preaching), and the Muslims in Medina (where Islam became strong and spread by jihad). The second is to classify Muslims by how carefully they follow Islamic teachings. Arabic calls these "multizim" (committed) or "ghayr multizim" (non-committed). It is similar to the Western concept of someone being a practicing or non-practicing Christian or an observant or non-observant Jew.

This is a lot more challenging and demands more serious study then merely using Western standards to arbitrarily decide whether a Muslim is moderate or extremist. How many US government or law enforcement officials could prove from the texts of Islam that Usama Bin Ladin is not a good Muslim committed to the teachings of Muhammad? What about Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who uses Islamic history and Quranic texts to justify Palestinian suicide bombings? On what basis do we call them extreme?

Americans are not the only ones changing their vocabulary; Muslims in the Middle East are also doing the same. I've noticed a few recent examples in the Arab media and there are probably dozens more. Saudi anthropologist Sa'd Al-Suwayan has suggested the Saudi government remove the swords from their flag because people might associate them with violence. I heard another cleric say that Muslims should not use the Quranic expression "the house of war and the house of submission" to describe humanity because it can give a bad impression. He prefers "the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world". Even Dr. Al-Qaradawi has gotten into the act. He explained recently that he prefers the more neutral term "non-Muslim" to the Quranic words "kafir" and "dhimmi".

The problem is that merely changing vocabulary does not indicate a corresp0nding change of belief. I'm not talking so much about the Americans who have no idea what jihad is as described in the Quran and the hadith, but about the other side. Sa'd Al-Suwayan might want to remove the swords from the Saudi flag, but is he willing to excise the famous "sword verses" from the Quran? Does the cleric who prefers "non-Muslim world" to "house of war" renounce any attempts to ever replace Western freedoms and democracy with Islam and Islamic law? And what does Dr. Al-Qaradawi really think about the kafir? He certainly knows the Quran well enough to realize that almost every reference to them in the Holy Book is negative.


Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here:

Hesperado said...

"I heard another cleric say that Muslims should not use the Quranic expression "the house of war and the house of submission" to describe humanity because it can give a bad impression."

But this is different, I think. This is an example of a cleric suggesting how Muslims can do a better job at Taqiyya, at not being so obvious about their true Islamic goals and intentions, since Infidels are getting uncomfortably more intelligent about Islam.

The American intelligence and State Department, however, do not seem to be being clever at all, but remarkably naive and stupid.

Anonymous said...

If you're making use of fabric rather than a shower curtain, you'll need to have to generate
it regular shower curtain dimension, which can be about 72" x 72".
Do you wish to decorate for Xmas but don. Produce a hole within the ball from exactly where you
can hang a ribbon to make the ornaments.

Here is my blog post - Christmas Decorating Tips Photograph

Anonymous said...

As a result, what's the perfect choice you may seek out. Perth Painters won't only support you choose an region of focus within your residing space, but we are able to decorate around the region to direct the eye toward it.
Horizontal stripes could appear superior on furnishings pieces and accessories.

My web page -

Anonymous said...

Add to that being sensible and prudent with your money and your time.

Hanging baskets are perfect choice for the home and garden decor and
stunning alternative for the flower decor. Most of the workers there ride bikes, use public transportation
or carpool and it has 35 buildings that are certified " Green".

Visit my web site; Small Garden

Anonymous said...

Bright rooms give a positive and optimistic feeling, while darker rooms are more intimate and romantic.
In any case, aubergine-patterned wallpaper isn't everyone's thing.
So, the purpose of the office and who is using it will influence the office design.

Have a look at my website -

Anonymous said...

Also you can charm your would-be by choosing a design and a flavor of his or her choice or
reflecting his or her style. Fondant can support you
to fairly quickly produce a nice seeking foundation for your cake design and style.
Ingredients- You should consider the ingredients before you choose final

Also visit my web site - wilton baby shower cake ideas

Anonymous said...

It is not my first time to pay a quick visit this site, i am browsing this web page dailly and get pleasant data from here all the time.

Also visit my weblog; quantrim purchase
Also see my web page :: is quantrim scam

Anonymous said...

Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my blog thus
i got here to go back the favor?.I'm trying to find issues to improve my website!I suppose its adequate to make use of a few of your ideas!!

Feel free to visit my website ... where to buy pain gone pen

Anonymous said...

Lose weight faster by eating chocolate. Stretch when you wake up, stretch when you stand up, stretch while
waiting in line, get used to making your parts move.

The above 3 tips will help anyone on a diet complete their
goals and lose weigh swiftly.

Also visit my web blog; free weight loss ebook

Anonymous said...

Saved as a favorite, I really like your blog!

Here is my blog ... where to Buy quantrim

Anonymous said...

com, providers of furniture Cork, furniture
Limerick, furniture Tipperary and other types of furniture online
in Munster, Ireland. The decor for teenagers bedrooms
can have elements of fun and adulthood at the same time.
Bella Notte Linens the luxurious linens and bedding has a special role
to play in the bedroom decor.

My homepage ... enjoy

Anonymous said...

You can even synchronize the table cloth colors with the bridesmaid's dresses or the bride's bouquet.
Wooden tables are delicate and might lose their appeal due to scratches and damages.

They're generally 30 to 35 inches high and 15 to 20 inches deep.

My homepage - study table design pictures