"Muslims are following what holy book says", May 30


The chief imam of Hong Kong, Muhammad Arshad, makes some good points in his recent letter ("Muslims are following what holy book says", May 30).  Of course China's consumption of endangered species must be called out and criticised.

The imam is a bit contradictory when he talks of veiling and eating of pork.  He says "Muslims have to follow what the holy book tells us."  Very well, in that case Saudi is not wrong, when they "enforce dress codes", especially since Saudi's constitution is the Qur'an, the "holy book" in question.  As for eating pork, if it's a "health risk", as the imam says, then 5 billion people who make it the most consumed meat on earth, did not receive that memo (and seem perfectly fine).

Given that the chief imam says "Muslims have to follow what the holy book says" can he acknowledge that jihadists are doing exactly that?  There are numerous verses in the Qur'an which enjoin the killing of infidels ("wherever you find them" Qur'an 2.191).  This is done in order to spread Islam to the world, to make it a universal Islamic magisterium. Such verses are so numerous in the Qur'an that one does not need to "cherry pick" — "cherry picking" being the common defence against those who point out the Qur'anic verses that urge pious Muslims to kill infidels.

If these violent verses are void, could the imam tell us when and why they were invalidated?

I ask this because we are consistently told after the latest Islamist atrocity, that the terrorists do not represent the "true Islam", that they have "nothing to do with Islam".

In what way, don't these verses have anything to do with Islam?  That would be a useful addition to the debate and encourage those of us who worry about the apparent doctrinal support for random killing of infidels.

Yours, etc...

[Imam Muhammad Arshad's letter of May 30]:
In his column ("From vegetarianism to full-face burqas: the perils of setting norms in a globalised world", May 13) Philip Bowring starts off by saying that Chinese civilisation "is blessed by a lack of fetishes", yet who is the biggest consumer of endangered species in the world ­today?
Next, he concedes vegetarianism does not "occupy a higher moral ground than flesh-eating" and exclusively condemns Jewish and Muslim animal slaughter. He asks if "halal and kosher slaughter" should be accepted, but is silent about the billions global fast-food chains make from their voracious treatment and consumption of animals.
Astoundingly, he claims pork prohibition is "not based on modern scientific observation" and says "anything contrary to science cannot be true religion". There is scientific evidence about the health risks of pork consumption; besides, Muslims have to follow what the holy book instructs us.
Bowring says "middle paths are needed" on the banning of head scarves and full beards", failing to see his own different views in dictating how a woman chooses to dress is not his business. His attitude is no different from countries like Saudi Arabia that enforce dress codes.
If a nun can wear a head covering, why can't a Muslim woman? If a man sports a fashionable beard, why can't a Muslim or Jew do the same without being accused of not meeting the "standards of the community" as Bowring puts it? There is nothing wrong with criticising Islam or Judaism. However, he shows himself as being Islamophobic and prejudiced against the Jewish faith.
Muhammad Arshad, chief imam Hong Kong

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