I really enjoy watching Charlie Rose on a Saturday morning, live from the Bloomberg HQ in New York. He's a liberal, to be sure, but questions fairly and knowledgeably. In this video
, he's relied on a group of people all of whom are apologists for Islam. I wonder if he will have knowledgeable critics in a later part of this series, which he's calling "Inside Islam".
A couple of quick points:
At 31:35 Charlie asks professor Miriam Cooke
of Duke University:
"tell me what hopes you have, what you would like to see happen in the understanding of Islam. What are your deepest and most profound hopes
And she answers: "I would hope that Islam could return to being just a religion
" [ie to take out the political element].
And Charlie says "Well said
What this reveals is two things: (1) that professor Cooke knows nothing about Islam and (2) that Charlie Rose knows nothing about Islam.
Right at the outset Islam was a political movement. The official Muslim biography of Mohammed, the Sirah, makes that clear. Ayatollah Khomeini, the revered, said "Islam is
Her colleague Abdeslam Maghraoui
is in a bind, because he knows that what she's said is nonsense, but he covers for her well, essentially making the point that Islam and politics are intrinsically bound. Political Islam is a major force he says. Well, yes.
All the guests make the point that Islam is not monolithic. To be more accurate: they make the point that Muslims are not the same the world over (surely true) and that therefore (this is where they go wrong) that Islam is not monolithic. They should recall Turkish PM, Erdogan's comment
that "Islam is Islam", there is no "moderate" or "immoderate" (sic) Islam. If Muslims are different around the world -- and they surely are -- that tells us nothing more than that they hew to their religion (the ONE Islam), more or less strongly. Just as you would not have said about Soviet Russia that Stalinist communism was fine, just because you met some nice and tolerant Russians.
: talks about contextualising Islam. That is, by doing so, contextualising with Christianity, you would get over many of the "misunderstandings" about Islam. Right. He says, for example, that in response to the criticisms that Mohammed was a warrior, he would answer "what about Joshua". Huh? Two things: (1) Joshua is not the equivalent of Jesus. He is not to be compared to Mohammed, the last prophet. Jesus is the right comparison, and he was thoroughly peaceful, in contrast to Mohammed. (2). Even if you allow the comparison with Joshua, then also "so what"? You now have two warrior types. Does this tu quoque
argument forgive the murderous actions of Mohammed?
Others in this dodgy crows include Ingrid Mattson
, Sherman Jackson
, and even the reasonable sounding Jen'nan Read
. For example, Ms Read scorns the idea that Muslims have an identity as Muslims first, and only then as Americans. But that's precisely what poll after poll shows: that the identity as believers in Islam is first and paramount for Muslims right around the world.[*
] See Islam in figures
There's some reasonable discussion at the beginning about the possibility of reform of Islam
. That's what we all hope, but the doctrine is not on the side of the reformers. See the issue of bid'ah
, innovation, which is not allowed in Islam. Frowned upon as blasphemy and blasphemy in some places is punishable by death (vide
(6 July 11): Jen'nan Read
says that "contrary to popular conceptions", most Muslims in the US are not Arab, but Asian. I'm not sure what point she's making here, unless it's an implicitly racist one: that Asian Muslims are somehow less to be feared than Arab ones. In any case, she's wrong about the figures. As I have shown and sourced here
: the figures for ethnicity of US Muslims are 30% each for Arab, South/Central Asian and African/African-American, 2% European, 2% South East Asian and 6% Other. The "South/Central Asian" are mostly Pakistani. The African are mainly Somali. Source
********Inside Islam with Abdeslam Maghraoui, Miriam Cooke, John Esposito, Shawkat Toorawa, Kecia Ali, Rashad Hussain, Ingrid Mattson, Ebrahim Moosa, Jen'nan Read and Sherman Jackson.