Tuesday 14 September 2010

"Building on Faith", the Slippery Sheik on Islam and peace

Again, the furphy that “Islam” means “Peace”.  It doesn’t.  It means “submission”.  More duplicity from the slippery-smooth pabulum of Rauf.
The very word “islam” comes from a word cognate to shalom, which means peace in Hebrew. The Koran declares in its 36th chapter, regarded by the Prophet Muhammad as the heart of the Koran, in a verse deemed the heart of this chapter, “Peace is a word spoken from a merciful Lord.”

How can I be sure, not speaking Arabic, that it means "submission" and not "peace"? 
Simply the weight of evidence, of books and online sources that I have reviewed, both pro Islam and critical.  Overwhelmingly, almost unanimously, they translate it as “submission”.  There are even linguistic sites where they discuss the “misonception” about “Islam” allegedly meaning “peace”, discussing, even, the “cognate of shalom”, which Rauf propounds.  There’s no doubt: “Islam” means “submission”.
And on Rauf himself, many are critical.  Perhaps the critic with most moral authority is Christopher Hitchens, described in the blurb of his memoir as “the worlds foremost public intellectual”. 
Here he is on Rauf:
From the beginning, though, I pointed out that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was no great bargain and that his Cordoba Initiative was full of euphemisms about Islamic jihad and Islamic theocracy. I mentioned his sinister belief that the United States was partially responsible for the assault on the World Trade Center and his refusal to take a position on the racist Hamas dictatorship in Gaza. The more one reads through his statements, the more alarming it gets. For example, here is Rauf's editorial on the upheaval that followed the brutal hijacking of the Iranian elections in 2009. Regarding President Obama, he advised that:
He should say his administration respects many of the guiding principles of the 1979 revolution—to establish a government that expresses the will of the people; a just government, based on the idea of Vilayet-i-faquih, that establishes the rule of law.
Roughly translated, Vilayet-i-faquih is the special term promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to describe the idea that all of Iranian society is under the permanent stewardship (sometimes rendered as guardianship) of the mullahs.* Under this dispensation, "the will of the people" is a meaningless expression, because "the people" are the wards and children of the clergy. It is the justification for a clerical supreme leader, whose rule is impervious to elections and who can pick and choose the candidates and, if it comes to that, the results. It is extremely controversial within Shiite Islam. (Grand Ayatollah Sistani in Iraq, for example, does not endorse it.) As for those numerous Iranians who are not Shiites, it reminds them yet again that they are not considered to be real citizens of the Islamic Republic.
I do not find myself reassured by the fact that Imam Rauf publicly endorses the most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy. The letterhead of the statement, incidentally, describes him as the Cordoba Initiative's "Founder and Visionary." Why does that not delight me, either?
Building on Faith, Feisal Abdul Rauf, IHT/NYT, 9 September 2010
A Test of Tolerance, Christopher Hitchens, Slate, 23 August 2010