Which insult is worse and deserves more criticism from the Muslim world: Charlie Hebdo’s insult of Muhammad (and thereby Islam) in its ca…

Answer by Jim Ashby:

Thanks for the A2A, Joseph!

I'll paraphrase your question: 'Which ideology deserves more criticism: democracy or theocracy?' From the perspective of freedom-loving people, the most common answer is likely to be theocracy. From the perspective of theorcrats, the most common answer is likely to be democracy. There are exceptions, of course, but the two ideologies are essentially incompatible.

The self-proclaimed clear, perfect, immutable, and inerrant Quran contradicts itself. The peaceful, tolerant, passages (ayat and suwar) from Muhammad's Meccan period gave way to vengeful, intolerant, passages after Muhammad's Hijra to Medina and his rise to wealth and power gained by raiding caravans. Islamic exegesis (Tafsir) developed the doctrine of Naskh (abrogation) to account for the contradictions in revelations that accompanied Muhammad's transformation from reviled Meccan to exalted Medinan: from persecuted prophet to warlord prophet. If you're not familiar with Hijra, Tafsir, or Naskh, please check out the links for more information.

While in Mecca and before rising to power in Medina, revelation frequently counseled 'no compulsion in religion' and 'fight only in self defense'. But, in Medina, Muhammad and his followers enriched themselves by raiding caravans: stirring up a hornet's nest of repercussions leading directly to war. Now, instead of 'no compulsion in religion' and 'fight only in self defense', revelations counseled 'convert or die' and 'fight for any excuse you please'. Revelations commanded preemptive and retaliatory attacks (not self defense) and ambush as well as assassinations of critics and physical coercion (compulsion) against recalcitrant pagans who were too slow to convert. But violating 'no compulsion in religion' and 'fight only in self defense' is okay because naskh claims that, where apparent contradictions exist, later revelations supersede earlier ones. Convenient, no?

What this means is that the later intolerant and violent revelations supersede the earlier tolerant and peaceful ones. So, in a very real sense, the multiple revelations that counsel 'no compulsion in religion' and 'fight only in self defense' have been effectively removed from the Quran through abrogation of them (naskh). Naskh legitimizes jihadi and terrorist violence in the same way it did for Muhammad. Jihadis and terrorist are merely following Muhammad's example.

The consequence of contradiction is that it forces some adherents to choose between peace and tolerance or violence and intolerance. Other adherents are selective Muslims that cherry-pick ayat in accordance with personal inclinations. In other words, at the individual level, Islam is what you make of it. Collectively, Islam is as Islam does. Although it's probably a minority who adhere to violent and intolerant revelations, the ostensibly 'moderate' majority don't sufficiently exercise the power of their numbers to call out and ostracize extremists and radicals. As far as I can see, until they do, they're irrelevant or superfluous.

The later violent and intolerant revelations of the Quran makes it absolutely clear that Allah is the God of everything and everyone. We are all accountable to Allah regardless of whether or not we know or believe in him and Islam. Disrespect of Islam — Allah, the Quran or Muhammad — gives all the license necessary for violent retaliation . . . as we've seen over and over again.

This REALLY pisses me off. The true insult here is the violence and intolerance that attempts to pass itself off as misunderstood peace and tolerance. It's why I try my damnedest to fight the propaganda, historical revisionism and apologia that flows like a sewer from fundamentalist Islam.

Which insult is worse and deserves more criticism from the Muslim world: Charlie Hebdo's insult of Muhammad (and thereby Islam) in its ca…

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