Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why the Jihadists Always Win

In a conversation last week a colleague I'll call Mansur correctly observed that one of the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan is that the Taliban go into the Madrasas and indoctrinate the young students with their brand of Islam. The solution, according to Mansur, was for new teachers to teach the students "correct Islam".

When I asked what correct Islam was, Mansur had a ready answer. "Islam," he said, "Means that if anyone kills someone, it is the same as if he killed all humanity. Jihad is not warfare, it is a spiritual struggle to overcome sin. Islam respects women and the Prophet said that heaven is at the feet of mothers."

I realized that Mansur was either using taqiyya to deceive another naive Westerner or did not know much about his own religion, but I did not proceed down either of those two paths. Instead I replied, "Let me tell you how a member of the Taliban would respond to what you just said. He would remind you that you only quoted part of Surat al-Maidah. In that chapter of the Quran, Muhammad was scolding the Jews of Medina for not accepting him as a Prophet. He repeated the Biblical story of Cain killing his brother Abel in 5:32, and added that Allah then told Cain that if anyone killed a person unjustly it would be as if he killed all humanity and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved all humanity. Muhammad then went on to say that the Jews had not listened to Allah's admonition, but continued in their disobedience. The punishment for those who continued to disobey Allah and his Messenger (comment: Muhammad never once in the Quran asks anyone to obey Allah without tacking on "and me as well") was to have their arms and legs cut off (from opposite sides for good measure), and be crucified or killed (Quran 5:33). The phrase you quoted was nothing more than a declaration of war against the Jews."

"You said that Jihad is not about war, but is a spiritual struggle. There are more than 100 verses in the Quran about Jihad, in addition to entire chapters of the Hadith, and 98 percent of them are about the advancement of Islam. For every verse you quote about Jihad being a spiritual struggle, the Jihadist will quote 100 about Jihad and warfare. Muslims in the West love to quote the Hadith where Muhammad, returning from a raid with his warriors, commented that they were returning from the lesser Jihad of war to the greater Jihad of spiritual improvement. But all Muslim scholars acknowledge that this is a weak Hadith and not considered authoritative (comment: Quranic commentator Ibn Taymiyyah says in his book Al-Furqan, "This hadith has no sources and nobody whomsoever in the field of Islamic knowledge has narrated it. Jihad against the disbelivers is the most noble of actions and moreover it is the most important action for the mankind.").

"You also quoted the Hadith where Muhammad said that Paradise is at the feet of mothers. But he said in another authoritative Hadith that Paradise is under the shadow of swords. You might choose the first, but the Jihadist will choose the second. How can you say that your interpretation of Islam, not his, is the "correct Islam"?

Mansur's response was to invite me to attend an upcoming local lecture about Islam that will be given by an "Islamic scholar".

The question remains, "What is correct Islam?" How would Mansur, or the lecturer, explain their version of Islam to an extremist Taliban or Jihadist and persuade him that his is wrong? How would they respond when he quotes ten verses from the Quran, a dozen Hadith, 15 incidents from the life of Muhammad to support his position for every one they can find? They can't, and that is why in the war of words between moderate and extremist Muslims the Jihadists always win.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Islam and Morocco's Ain Leuh Orphanage

One of the highlights of my sojourn in Morocco in the early 90's was visiting the orphanages at Azrou and Ain Leuh, small towns located in the beautiful mid-Atlas mountain region of northern Morocco. The orphanages were both unique. My typical understanding of an orphanage until then was a place where a staff gathered dozens, if not hundreds, of parentless or abandoned children who slept in dormitory type rooms and were given food, education, and other basic necessities of life.

It was different at Azrou and Ain Leuh. From as far back as World War II, Americans went to these towns with the vision of a new type of orphanage. Couples would take in a smaller number of children, raise them as their own, and commit themselves to the children until they were old enought to leave home and live on their own. It was at least a 20-year committment for each couple, and some of them stayed a second 20-year term to raise an additional family. Two American women I met at Ain Leuh were in their 80's, still had stories to tell of American soldiers passing through during the war, and were still involved in raising their children. It was one of the best examples I have ever seen that combined the Western values of volunteerism, sacrifice, and compassion (although I am sure none of the parents would agree with my assessment that they had "sacrificed" their lives).

I had almost forgotten about the orphanages over the years until I read the news a few weeks ago that Morocco suddenly deported 16 foreign workers from the Ain Leuh orphanage. It was one of the saddest stories I've read in a long time. To think of where the young children are at this minute, and the life they will face over the coming years in comparison to the love they experienced from their adoptive parents, is heartbreaking.

At their website discussing the deportation, the parents wrote,  "We also appeal to our supporters around the World to not react to this situation and use the internet or any other means to say anything that might be viewed as detrimental about the Moroccan authorities." I agree. I don't blame the Moroccan authorities, I blame Islam. The Moroccan authorities, as well as the children now abandoned and without parents for the second time in their lives, are all victims of Muhammad.

The reason given by the authorities for the expulsion of the parents was that the children were being enticed to leave Islam. Muhammad has always been terrified of losing his followers. During his Prophetic Career he ruled that Muslim men could marry non-Muslim women with the stipulation that their children be raised Muslim. Muslim women, however, were not free to marry non-Muslim husbands because that would open the possibility the children would not grow up as Muslims. He declared in the Hadith that apostates from Islam should be killed, a ruling that is still applied today in some parts of the world. His fear extended to the point of killing the poetess Asma bint Marwan,  mother of five children, because she had written poetry he found threatening.

Adoption is not allowed in Islam. Again, this goes back to Muhammad's paranoia after the inhabitants of Medina looked askance at his marriage to his daughter-in-law Zainab, wife of his adopted son Zaid. Muhammad's response was to assert that Zaid was no longer his son, and adoption was no longer legal.

Moderate Muslims today like to speak of their "evolved" understanding of Muhammad, and a "new" Islam that is more in tune with the values of the 21st century. For any such Muslim reading this article, I would say here is a good place to start. Throw your weight behind allowing the non-Moroccan parents of these orphans back into the country so they can continue loving and raising their children. And while you are at it, use your influence to have Muslim-majority countries leave Muhammad behind at least to the extent of being willing to make a few changes in their adoption laws.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Al-Azhar's Attack on Egypt's Coptic Christians

The situation of the Copts in Egypt is worse than it has been for many years. On January 7, 2010, seven young Copts were gunned down as they left a Christmas Eve service in the town of Nag Hammadi. Two months later, 24 Copts were injured and 17 houses were looted and set afire in the Mediterranean coastal town of Marsa Matrouh after hundreds of Muslims stormed out of a local mosque inflamed by calls of jihad against the "enemies of Islam". There are more and more stories of churches being attacked simply because Christians want to repair existing structures or build new ones.

How is Al-Azhar, the oldest and most famous Islamic University in the world, responding to these attacks on Egypt's Christians? How is it using its influence and power to bring peace to a troubling situation? The answer might surprise you - although if you are not new to these matters, it probably will not.

Al-Azhar has a monthly magazine that regularly includes a free book in magazine format inserted into each copy. The book in December's edition (the month before the Nag Hammadi massacre) was entitled "A Scientific Report" by well-known vocal critic of Christianity Dr. Muhammad Amara. It is, according to the author, his response to a 52-page treatise called "Prepared to Answer" by a Samir Morqos that Amara considered an attack on Islam. There was no additional information given about the offending book, including its publisher, publication date, or how it can be obtained.

The problem is that no-one knows where this book is (if it even exists), or what it says about Islam other than what is alleged by Dr. Amara. There is an Egyptian Coptic intellectual named Samir Morqos who writes critically about the state of Coptic citizenship in modern Egypt, but he denies writing the book and says he knows nothing about it.

On a recent edition of the Arabic program Daring Question, host Rashid invited two Bible scholars to examine the scholarship of Muhammad Amara. After commenting that there are many well-known books that criticize Islam, in addition to television shows such as his own, Rashid wondered why Amara would not respond to one of those rather than stage an attack on a book that is not even available to the public. Shaykh Samuel replied that the alleged book was only the pretext for Amara's book. His real reason was to launch a full-frontal attack on the Bible and Christian belief that was neither scientific nor a report.

Rashid then quoted the following section from Amara's book: "The Torah is the book that was revealed by Allah to Moses. Moses was born, raised, died, and buried in Egypt, the land in which he received the revelation of the Torah. The Torah was revealed to him in hieroglyphics, which was the language of the Children of Israel in Egypt. Moses was buried in Egypt before Joshua led the Children of Israel into Canaan, and more than 100 years before the birth of the Hebrew language. The Hebrew language was originally one of the languages of Canaan. Where is a single copy of the Torah in hieroglyphics that was revealed to Moses?"

After noting that (as is often the case in Islamic "apologetics"), there was not a single source given for this information, Rashid asked his guests for their comments. Old Testament scholar Dr. Ashraf pointed out that most Muslims have no concept of the Christian and Jewish understanding of "inspiration", but understand "revelation" in the Islamic context. Just as Muhammad in Islam was merely an audible channel for the words of Allah given him by Gabriel, Muslims see Biblical authors such as Moses and David as being recipients of God's message in the same way. The idea of these men sitting down with a pen and scroll and expressing ideas in poetry and prose that became Biblical text is unknown to Muslims.

Dr. Ashraf then discussed Amara's claim that Moses received the revelation of the Torah in hieroglyphics. Egyptian hieroglyphics is a pictoral language that uses hundreds of symbols. When the early descendants of Abraham who became known as the Children of Israel went to Egypt about 1800 BC for a sojourn that lasted 400 years, they spoke a language of Canaan that was an extension of an even earlier language of Phoenicia. About 2000 BC the Mediterranean Phoenicians invented the world's first alphabet that contained letters instead of symbols. This language became the precursor of both ancient and modern Hebrew, and many of the letters still look similar. Just as there were 22 letters in the Phoenician alphabet, there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet of the Old Testament.

The Egyptians were unwilling to share their language and its hieroglyphics, which was associated with their religion and their gods, with the Hebrew immigrants. The result was that the Hebrews preserved their own Canaanic language for their entire time in Egypt. It was the written language used by Moses and other literate Hebrews. There is absolutely no scientific, historical, or archeological evidence that, as claimed by Muhammad Amara, "the Torah was revealed to Moses in hieroglyphics".

Rashid then quoted a further section from Amara's book supporting the Muslim claim that the "Injil of Moses" has been corrupted: "Moses lived in the 13th century BC, whereas the first written recording of the Old Testament was by Ezra in the middle of the 5th century BC. That means that the Jewish Torah was passed by oral tradition for 8 centuries."

Again noting that Amara gave no source for this information, Dr. Ashraf pointed out that the Old Testament in numerous occasions reports that Moses himself wrote the Torah. In Exodus 17:14, Moses wrote down the account of Israel's battle with the Amalekites, Exodus 24:4 records Moses writing down all the instructions he had received from God, and  Exodus 34:27 notes Moses writing down the covenant made by God with the people. Deuteronomy 31:24-26 states that the entire Torah was written by Moses on a scroll that was then placed in the ark carried by the Israelites so that it would remain with them.

Dr. Ashraf then referred to archeological findings discovered in 2006, which Rashid displayed on the screen, of tablets containing fragments of the Old Testament written in ancient Hebrew that archeologists date to the 10th century BC.

Rashid next quoted what Amara said about the New Testament: "The Messiah, peace be upon him, came with the Injil (Gospel) that was revealed to him in the Aramaic language. Where is a copy of this Injil? Not a single church of all the Christian denominations in the world possesses a single copy. They only possess a book they call the New Testament that goes not go back at all to Jesus. It contains simply stories written by numerous writers, each of whom gave his own version of what Jesus said and did and taught."

Again, in an attempt to apply the Muslim concept of revelation to Jesus, Amara is claiming  that an "Aramaic Injil" descended from Allah to Jesus, this Injil has been lost to history, and all that remains as the New Testament is his "Seerah" or biography.

Shaykh Samuel, who is a New Testament scholar, responded that there never has been in Christian history and doctrine any teaching that an Injil was revealed by God to Jesus. Jesus himself is the source of the New Testament, and the four small books in it known as the Gospels were the accounts of his life written down by his disciples. Jesus, in the Christian tradition, is the Injil; it was not a message revealed to him from God as Muslims believe the Quran was a message revealed to Muhammad from Allah.

Rashid, who is an ex-Muslim, explained in more detail how Muslims understand the "revelation of Jesus". Just as Muhammad went to a cave where an angel held him tightly and commanded him to recite the words given to him, Muslims imagine that Jesus was given a message in the same way. The fact that no church throughout 2000 years of Christian history has viewed the Injil in this way is of no significance to the Muslim scholar.

Muhammad Amara also wrote, "Two of the four major Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) were written in the 2nd century AD by the followers of the associates of Jesus. Mark was a disciple of Peter, and Luke was a disciple of Paul. Neither of them witnessed the scenes about which they wrote."

Rashid pointed out that even Amara's expression "the followers of the associates" is Islamic terminology taken from Muslim history. Muhammad's "Sahabah", or associates were the people who lived close to him during his lifetime. The "Tabaeen" or followers were those who came afterwards. Again with no understanding of Christian history, Amara simply applied this understanding from Islam to Church History.

Shaykh Samuel explained that many people are only aware of the "Twelve Disciples" of Jesus made famous by art and literature, but the New Testament also speaks of larger groups of 70 and 120 people who believed in him. Mark, a young boy living in Jerusalem, was one of these and there is evidence that the famous Last Supper was held in the house in which he lived. He wrote his Gospel in Jerusalem specifically for a Roman audience. The medical doctor Luke wrote his Gospel in Antioch for a Greek audience. It is true, as Amara writes, that Mark was a close associate of Peter and Luke was a follower of Paul but that is evidence that what they wrote was under the careful scrutiny of both Peter and Paul, not embellished material created a century later. Luke himself in the opening verses of both Luke and Acts wrote of the care he took to ensure that what he wrote was historically accurate.

Rashid noted that the Hadiths in Islam are based upon their "isnad", or chain of reference. "Abu-Hurayrah recounted that Aisha reported that the Prophet said..." If the Hadiths are accepted as true by Muslims, why would Amara cast doubt on material that Mark and Luke learned from Jesus' closest friends?

As Rashid and his guests continued to counter the unsubstantiated and undocumentaed allegations of Muhammad Amara with historical and archeological evidence, I thought of the thousands and perhaps millions of young Egyptians who will never have the opportunity to watch the same program I did. Their only source of information is people such as Amara, whose invented versions of Christian and Jewish history are intended for no other purpose than to confirm the Quran's description of those people as "najiseen and kufaar", the unclean infidels who deliberately corrupted their Scriptures for their own selfish purposes. It's not difficult to see why young Egyptian Muslims quickly conclude the Copts are unworthy of full respect and equality as citizens of modern Egypt.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Islam - an Evil Religion?

I recently heard author Deborah Amos discuss her new book The Eclipse of the Sunnis. When talking about the persecution of Iraqi Christians in recent years, Deborah commented that their situation was not helped by Americans such as Franklin Graham describing Islam as a "filthy dirty religion".

The problem is, that is not what Graham said. He described Islam as an "evil religion". When that phrase caused a widespread backlash, Graham clarified his statement by saying (read the complete statement here), "I do not believe Muslims are evil people because of their faith. I personally have many Muslim friends. But I decry the evil that has been done in the name of Islam, or any other faith--including Christianity."

I have a couple of questions. First, why would a respected journalist like Deborah Amos blur the lines to make no difference between the description of an ideology as "evil" or its description as "filthy and dirty"? To me, there is a clear difference. An ideology, belief system, or religion can be described as "evil" if it damages people and produces victims. To change the words of a person who used that phrase and accuse him of describing that belief system as "filthy and dirty" turns the discussion away from what could be an intellectually honest argument to merely an invective personal attack.

Question number 2: many ex-Muslims use the word "evil" to describe Islam. The cover of Wafa Sultan's book A God Who Hates says, The Courageous Woman who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam. Would Deborah Amos, or any other journalist who specializes in the Middle East, as easily say that Wafa described Islam as a "filthy dirty religion"? I am sure that Aayan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel, and Mosab Hassan Yousef in Son of Hamas and many other well-known ex-Muslims would not hesitate to use the word "evil" in describing the religion they left behind. Do we as easily dismiss them by accusing them of calling their former religion "dirty and filthy"?

The third question is the most important. What is evil, and does Islam qualify as being evil? That is not a question that can be answered in a paragraph or a page, but requires a lot of serious discussion by people on both sides. That discussion, unfortunately, does not even seem to have a place in most of the media.

The Eclipse of the Sunnis or What About Sunnistan?

I'm reading the moving book The Eclipse of the Sunnis by Deborah Amos. She describes the difficult lives of almost two million Sunnis who have fled to Syria from Iraq during the past few years and feel they have no country to return to. Unfortunately they are probably correct; there is little place for them in the new Shia-controlled Iraq. There is little more likelihood of their returning to the homes they left in Baghdad than Palestinians have of returning to the homes their families inhabited 65 years ago in Jerusalem.

I recently watched an interview in which Jordan's King Abdallah was asked about the possibility of the West Bank becoming a part of Jordan. The king quickly dismissed the idea, contending that Palestinians were not Jordanians and that they deserved their own country.

I have the distinct impression that most Arab leaders (including the King of Jordan) tend to deny present realities and ignore possible long-term solutions because of short-term challenges and difficulties. Here's a radical proposal: what if King Abdallah announced his willingness to step down from his throne and throw his support behind establishing a truly democratic secular country that included western Iraq where most of the Sunnis live, the West Bank, and present-day Jordan?

Before dismissing this as the most ridiculous idea you have ever heard, think of its possibilities 20 years down the road in comparison to 20 more years of the present situation (which in all honesty is probably not going to get better). Here are some things to consider:

1. Palestinians and Iraqis were once known as the most educated and secular people in the Arab world, although both of their situations have greatly deteriorated in recent years. Many of the Iraqi refugees in Damascus are secular, professional people, and large numbers of them are extremely concerned about the lack of educational opportunities for their children. The new country could provide those opportunities.

2. The United States and the European Union would strongly support this secular and democratic country. The United States in particular learned in Iraq the hard way that it could not impose democracy, but a new country that chose democracy and freedom would receive full Western support.

3. The Christians and other non-Muslim minorities of Iraq, who enjoyed a message of protection under Saddam that has totally been lost since his overthow, could flourish in a secular Arab state.

4. With the Palestinians of the West Bank now part of a functioning country, they could turn their attention to a viable relationship with Israel as a partner, not as an enemy.

5. Those citizens of neighboring Arab countries that yearn for more freedom could see an example in the new country that would embolden them to push for those liberties in their own countries.

6. Islam would be viewed as no more than one of the religions practiced by the citizens of this new country. A constitution would be written granting equal rights and opportunities to the entire citizenship of the country, with freedom for each citizen to believe whatever they choose.

Granted, this sounds like a wild dream, but I think it could be a good one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Christiane Amanpour and Mosab Yousef (Son of Hamas)

Christiane Amanpour described her interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of one of the founders of Hamas, as "fascinating", and her follow-up interview with a team of individuals the following day as "in-depth analysis". I thought a much more fascinating and in-depth discussion was the one held a few days later between Mosab and host Rashid on the Arabic program "Daring Question".

There are several reasons for this. One is that in the first interview Mosab was not using his native tongue. Although he speaks English commendably for one who learned the language as a young adult and was not educated in English-speaking schools, he is still not as fluent as other Arabs who have been speaking English extensively for many years. A second reason is that Mosab was definitely on the hot seat in the interview with Rashid. With Christiane, he was facing an interviewer curious to know why he chose to work with Shin Bet against Hamas. With Rashid he was forced to defend himself against a hostile Arabic-speaking audience that largely, whether Palestinian Christian, Palestinian Muslim, or non-Palestinian Arab, saw him as the worst of all people - a traitor, an agent, a collaborater with the hated Zionist enemy.

But there is a third, and much more significant, reason why Christiane's interview with Mosab seemed shallow in comparison to the one with Rashid. The seminal event in Musab's life, a journey that took six years, was his conclusion that Muhammad is not a prophet of God and the Quran is not a book from God. As with many ex-Muslims, Musab's first step in this journey was confronting the reality of the violence and cruelty of his own people, and realizing they were following the example of their Prophet and his God. The next step was meeting and speaking with Israelis - Jews, the worst of all creatures according to the Quran, the inveterate enemies of God and offspring of monkeys and pigs - and discovering they were people, human beings with values, aspirations, and hopes. The final step was finding  an alternative way to think and live. Mosab discovered that the command of Jesus to "love your enemy and do good to those who hate you" was not a weak surrender to injustice but instead the most powerful form of resistance against injustice.

This, unfortunately, was what Christiane was not interested in discussing. When he told her that the "biggest gangster in the world is the god of Islam, the god of the Quran", she could have probed a lot deeper, but she didn't. She only said, "I'm not going to debate Islam with you, but as you know many Muslims say that is not written in the book and it's a matter of interpretation. But in any case, thank you for joining us."

Her unwillingness to engage him in his understanding of Islam, to even consider the reality that he might be right, is shared by every single journalist I watch or read. Without exception they consider themselves innovative, bold, and challenging, but they aren't willing to go beyond the taboos of our media and political culture and find out what people like Mosab really think about the faith with which they grew up. It's much easier to just ask more questions about what it was like working for Shin Bet.

Rashid wasn't like that. He was willing to push harder, and find out what really motivated Mosab. When confronted with the fact that many of his own people now consider him a traitor, Mosab replied, "I am not doing what my people want, but I am doing what they need." Mosab went on to express his hope that a new generation of young Palestinians will begin to see that humanizing the enemy, even learning to love the enemy while not accepting injustice, is a new way forward. Indeed, it is the only way.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mosab Yousef - Son of Hamas

I recently attended a Q&A session with the President of a Washington-based international think tank. When I suggested that the conflict between Islam and the Jews went all the way back to their refusal to accept Muhammad as their Prophet in Medina, the CEO disagreed. The schism between the two parties in seventh century Medina, he argued, was due to their having "violated the concordia" established by Muhammad.

As soon as I heard that phrase I realized that he, like almost everyone else in Washington from the President and his four-star Generals to the most junior State Department diplomats and Pentagon intelligence analysts, had learned Islam from Muslims or Muslim apologists. It could have been John Esposito at Georgetown, Akbar Ahmed at American University, my former professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr now at George Washington, or a hundred others. He had learned Islam from their perspective, rather than critically examining its texts for himself.

Your response is perhaps, "Duh? And your point is? Of course we learn about Islam from Muslims! Just like we learn math from mathematicians, history from historians, and French from French speakers. What's the difference?"

The difference is that almost every Muslim in the world has an idealized, wistful, and wishful view of their Prophet and his ambitions. Commenting on my post about some Muslim women in America who recently tried without success to overcome gender segregation by standing next to men at their mosque, one woman noted, "These women are courageously taking Islam back to its original form. Compassion, mercy and equality are not innovation. Oppression, tyranny and chauvanism are the innovations."

Her view of Islam as a religion of compassion and mercy is almost universal among Muslims, but is it correct? Here I argue that historically it is not. Muslims and non-Muslims learn an idealized view of Islam from Muslim teachers whose perspective is blinded by faith or from non-Muslim apologists who present only one side of the story. That was my experience as a student at Temple University. When Tariq Ramadan tells the story of Abu Bakr freeing slaves in Mecca, he speaks as a believer and ignores the crucial elements of the story that do not correspond to his idealized view of historical fact. When Karen Armstrong describes Muhammad's encounter with the angel Gabriel in the cave of Hira, she does so with such emotion you would think she had been there personally sharing the experience!

Imagine how different modern history would be if leaders had always done this. Suppose General George Washington's closest advisor was a British loyalist, or Abraham Lincoln sought counsel from Southern plantation slaveowners. What if Mahatma Gandhi listened to advocates of the British Empire before the Great Salt March in 1930, and Martin Luther King asked the opinion of the Klu Klux Klan before the Great March on Washington in 1963? How about if President Woodrow Wilson conceded to pacifists when the Germans were sinking passenger ships during World War I, or FDR sought the advice of Nazi sympathizers during WWII? What if Ronald Reagan cozied up to Communist Party members in determining his position towards the Cold War and the Berlin Wall? To bring it right up to date, what if President George W. Bush had listened to opportunistic Shia dissidents assuring him Iraqis would welcome American soldiers on rose-petal strewn streets if he toppled Saddam Husayn - oh, wait a minute, that's exactly what he did!

And that is why Mosab Yousef's new book Son of Hamas is a must-read (for those readers in countries where your political or religious leaders will not allow you access to this book, be sure to put it on your shopping list for your next visit to a country where you can). Mosab is only one of a rapidly growing number of intelligent young men and women who not only know Islam, but also see through and beyond it and who are leaving Muhammad behind. These are the people you want to teach you about Islam. It's amazing to me that Muslim apologists such as Reza Aslan receive a greater welcome in many government and academic circles than do ex-Muslim realists such as Mosab. Hopefully, that will change.

You perhaps noticed that I used the adjective "almost" twice in this posting in describing the view of Muslims towards their faith. There are Muslims who understand exactly what their Prophet wanted to accomplish, and who have dedicated their lives to completing his mission. They have well-known last names such as Mishal (Hamas), Nasrallah (Hizballah), Ahmadinejad (Iran), and bin Ladin and Zawahiri (cave-dwellers somewhere in Pakistan). All the more reason to listen really carefully to young men such as Mosab Yousef.