FIVE MINUTES OF FAME

The Federal Government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) runs a programme called Q & A (Questions and Answers). Each week a panel of people from different backgrounds are assembled and questioned by members of a selected audience. No subject is too controversial for discussion. The platform panel usually consists of members who hold opposing views on whatever are the main subjects for discussion. A host guides the questions and answers probably to ensure hot button issues are provocatively addressed. A bear pit of unleashed emotion always attracts a larger viewing audience than that of controlled logical analysis.

On Monday night 13 February 2017 one of the panel members on Q & A was a 25-year-old lady who presented herself as an Islamic “activist”. Many viewers had probably never heard of Ms Yasmin Abdel-Magied.

The Australian Government had obviously heard of her. Last November they sent the Australian Sudanese Egyptian Muslim “activist” on a taxpayer-funded tour to promote her book in several of the most restrictive countries of the Middle East. The ABC knows her very well. They list her as making regular appearances on their programmes, Q&A, The Drum, The Project, Radio Triple J, Radio National and ABC local radio. She would seem to be a rising media star.

One suspects that the title “activist” was that which qualified the young lady. It held out the promise of more heat than light especially when Australian Senator Jacqui Lambie was also on the panel. She is well known for advocating against some common Islamic practices especially its requirements for women to “cover up” and for its treatment of women in general.

As Senator Lambie and Ms Abdel-Magied tried to out shout each other content was sacrificed to volume. Senator Lambie lacked the detailed knowledge to counter the arguments advanced by her opponent. Ms Abdel-Magied’s outbursts, obviously appreciated by the clapping crowd who cheered her on, lacked little relationship to reality. Even Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic group banned in some countries because of its hard line applications of Islamic teaching whose advice Ms Abdel-Magied subsequently sought, conceded that she did not have “the required deep knowledge of Islam to prosecute her case.”

So where was the much applauded “activist” deficient with regards to her explanations of Islam?screen-shot-2017-03-01-at-6-16-20-pmIn defence of Shariah Law she claimed that Muslims are obliged to follow the law of the land in which they reside. That is true but only up to where local law may be in contravention of any principles of Shariah in which case the latter prevails.

She claimed that:

  1. Islam is “the most feminist religion”
  2. Muslim women “got equal rights well before the Europeans”
  3. “Anti women issues” in some Muslim states are because of “political and cultural reasons” not because such practices are mandated within Islam’s sacred texts—Quran, Traditions, Biographies of the Prophet Muhammad.

But a cursory glance at those texts reveals:

  1. Men are superior to women (Q 2:228)
  2. Men are in charge of women (Q 4:34)
  3. Women by nature or temperament are inclined toward guile or maliciousness (Q 12:28, 33, 34, 50)
  4. Women are the most harmful trial and affliction for men (Al-Bukhari No. 5096)
  5. Women are deficient in matters of intelligence and religion (AL-Bukhari 304)
  6. At law a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man (Q 2:282)
  7. A wife needs her husband’s permission to fast (Al-Bukhari 5192)
  8. A wife needs her husband’s permission to attend a meeting at a mosque (Al-Bukhari 873)
  9. In the marriage relationship, a wife is described as “tilth” implying the husband has total rights over his wife’s body (Q 2:223)
  10. If a wife disobeys her husband angels will curse her (Al-Bukhari 5193, 5194)
  11. A wife should not allow anyone to enter the home without her husband’s consent (Al-Bukhari 5098)
  12. Should a wife disobey her husband a series of punishments of increasing severity up to “scourging” is permitted but a husband “should not flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day” (Q 4:34; Al-Bukhari 5204)
  13. In matters of estate inheritance the share of a son is to be twice that of a daughter and for a wife one eighth or one fourth and for a husband one half or one fourth (Q 4:2; Al-Bukhari 4578)
  14. A woman should never be in leadership because “people ruled by a lady will never be successful” (Al-Bukhari 4425)
  15. When a man is praying should a dog, a donkey or a woman pass in front of him his prayer is annulled. (Al-Bukhari 504, 508, 511, 519)
  16. The majority of those trapped in the fires of hell are women (Al-Bukhari 304 5096)
  17. One of the reasons for such punishment was women’s ungratefulness toward their husbands. (Al-Bukhari 304, 5197-5198)

One would need several alphabets to list all the restrictions placed upon women. Seeking to divert focusing on Islam’s authoritative texts as the source of such provisions, Australian Muslim Women’s Human Rights Centre chairwoman, Tasmeen Chopra agreed with Ms Abdel-Magied, reportedly saying that anti-women issues in relation to Islam were not text based.

Since the programme aired reportedly 49 Muslim scholars have demanded “an apology from the ABC for not silencing Senator Lambie saying that the programme host failed to provide a ‘safe environment’ for Ms Abdel-Magied to speak”. (Caroline Overinton, The Australian, p 16, February 16, 2017). Hopefully, Ms Abdel-Magied enjoyed her brief flirtation with fame.

In 2001 Zachariah Matthews, after studying the life of Prophet Mohammad, reportedly concluded that “deception is necessary”. If that is so then Abdel-Magied and Chopra may just have been implementing a well-established strategy.

If you want to get a fuller more accurate picture of Islam’s attitudes towards and practices relating to women go to drstuartrobinson.com/Books and get a copy of “The Hidden Half—Women and Islam”.

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AN UNEXPECTED OUTCOME

Being on talk back radio is always a risk. What may happen is quite unpredictable. As I sat in my office in Melbourne, Australia, a call came in from Adelaide. the capital city of a neighbouring State of South Australia. It was a young lady who wanted to discuss an issue relating to Islam. She opened the conversation by saying that she had become a Muslim. To establish a context for the discussion I asked a few questions.

“Where did you go to school in Adelaide”?

She replied, ”All my life I attended a Christian denominational school”.

“Did you ever read a Bible”?

“Never”.

“And you have become a Muslim”?

“Yes”.

“Have you ever read the Quran”?

“No.”

“So why did you become a Muslim”?

“Some of my girlfriends and I thought it would be a cool thing to do”.

“That was your only reason”?

“Yes”.

I had heard reports that in Australia 65% of new converts to Islam were women. In the UK it was reportedly 70%. Admittedly some  Middle Eastern males may appear to some to be quite handsome. But regardless of the reasons, had any of these young women heard of law of Apostasy? Islam’s front door is wide and inviting. Its invitation is attractively presented and simply put. But perhaps unknown to such new followers of the teaching and example of Prophet Muhammad  is that unlike in any other religion there is no back door of escape once  any person enters that space. The death penalty may be applied to men and imprisonment for women who dare to leave for any reason.

It seems almost unbelievable that in this day and age so little is known about Islam by many that anyone would make such a momentous decision on no greater motive than “it seemed a cool thing to do’!

I decided to dig further. It took a couple of years of scarce spare time but now I am very excited to announce that the book is out. It’s called “The Hidden Half—Women and Islam”. You can buy it from your local Christian Book store or you may buy it directly from me at a special introductory price. Go to the section on this site headed “Books” and follow the prompts.

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From Confusion to Clarity

By early 1981 American embassy hostages held in Tehran were back home. A discreet reception was held for some of them in a suburban home in Northern Virginia, USA. One former hostage, Malcolm Kalp, was reported to have said at that meeting,

“We still think the Soviet Union is our enemy, that worldwide communism is still the principal threat to our way of life. But the real challenge isn’t the Soviet Union – it’s militant Islam. We have no idea what we are up against”.Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.02.32 pm

Three and a half decades later his observation remains accurate on all counts. Mostly only those who have lived within Islamic societies and have studied their sacred texts (Qur’an, Hadith and Sira) can understand what is happening and give some explanation of likely outcomes should the message of revivalist Islam continue to spread unchecked around the world. And spreading it surely is.

Like rogue organisms from some cancerous tumour, cells of fundamentalist Islam multiply and metastasise faster than intelligence agencies can track them. United Nations Secretary, General Ban Ki- Moon said on February 5, 2016 that by the previous December 34 organisations had sworn allegiance to the Caliphate of the Islamic State. But only days after that announcement, on February 7, 2016, private counter-terrorism organisation IntelCentre claimed that the number of affiliates and supporting organisations had already risen to 43. From the Philippines in the East (Abu Sayaf and Ansar al Khilifah) to Nigeria in the West (Boko Haram), from Indonesia in the South (Jemaah Anshorut Tawhid) to Russia in the North (Caucasus Emirate) and in many countries in between, Islamist organisations are armed and ready. They are intolerant of anything that is at variance from their own claims, interpretations and demands. This expansion “demonstrates the speed and scale at which the gravity of the threat has evolved in just 18 months,” said Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

In December 2014, General Michael K. Nugata, Special Operations commander for the United States military in the Middle East, commenting on the rapid rise of Islamic State reportedly said, “We have not defeated the idea. We do not even understand the idea.” At least he was honest in expressing his and others’ ignorance and their inability to comprehend what is happening. To begin to articulate a coherent response remains a step too far.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.02.23 pm

 

A similar posture is evidenced but not admitted by most Western political leaders. It is a commonly heard response from bellwether politicians that even after the most atrocious Islamic terrorist attacks which killed many of their own citizens whom they are ostensibly elected to protect, they continue to claim that such activities have nothing to do with Islam. This conveniently overlooks the glaring fact that the only element common to all such attacks is that the perpetrators are committed to the fundamental tenets of Islam.

The primary reason for this current politically correct response is that in any democracy, elected representatives are dependent on votes from their constituents to retain personal privilege and power at their next election. In a country such as France where the number of Muslims is thought to be approximately 10% of the population, those votes are critical. After one of the recent attacks in France, one of the highest ranking politicians reportedly ventured to express the view that the problems they experience with some of their Muslim constituency could be overcome by building more mosques! At least that might have temporarily secured a few Muslim votes. Presumably to maintain favour with some voters and to secure personal power, France’s politicians through various statements and policies, maintain a high level of antipathy toward Israel while favouring HAMAS and the PLO whose repeatedly avowed aims include the destruction of Israel. Israel is the only state in the cauldron of Middle East furies that has maintained a record of democracy and peaceful transitions of political power for almost seven decades. No state is without fault, but surely such bias favouring one state whose avowed aim is the destruction of another, ought to be seriously challenged.

In the West, only worship at the altar of secular humanism is permitted within State discourse. Traditional religion, especially Christianity, has been marginalised, discounted and almost banned from consideration in the contest of ideas. Bereft of the moral underpinnings and Judaeo-Christian values upon which Western democracies were established, they are now almost defenseless and endangered as they are increasingly penetrated by alien philosophies and theologies. Unfettered from predictable behaviours and practices by their own set of values, Islamist invaders are intent on their goal of world domination. For those who disagree with them, the message is– surrender or die. No prisoners will be taken unless individuals are temporarily valuable as pawns in a deadly game of ransom.

Having rejected their own religious history and traditions, most Western leaders are unable to comprehend the power of religious conviction that drives emerging contemporary Islamic movements. At best all these elites seem capable of doing is to call for reform within Islam. In this they are at least partially right. They infer distinction between people, i.e. Muslims and the theological doctrines that compulsorily drive them.

The vast majority of Muslims want peace and prosperity like most non-Muslims. However the ideology of Islam as contained in its sacred texts and developed into Sharia Law is the locus of real challenge. As Muslims know, this is not open to change. The emerging movements already claim to represent reform, back to basics as was practised in the days of the Prophet in seventh century Arabia. In the meantime, to lessen our anxieties we grant equivalence to Islam. We unthinkingly accept the Muslim claim that the three major world religions worship the same God, are of Abrahamic origin and honour the same “Prophets”. But a careful analysis and comparison between the entities as described in each religion’s texts reveal they are so different as to be incomparable.

“Equivalence fosters ambiguity; ambiguity gives birth to confusion; and confusion breeds disaster, as the early 21st-century has already shown.” (Sandys and Hendey, God and Churchill, London, S P CK, 2015). To shed some light into the darkness, to discover a little clarity in the midst of confusion and to consider a modest yet powerful response get a copy of Islam Rising – the Middle East and Us by Stuart Robinson.

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Mosques Unlimited

Some countries I have been in during the last several months are so incomparable they could be on different planets. One is Iceland. The other is Togo.

IcelandIceland in the Atlantic Ocean close to the Arctic Circle with an area of 123,000 sq.kms, is home to 332,000 people. Two thirds of these live in the capital city Reykjavik. Its major industries are fishing and sheep farming. There are 1,100,000 of the latter. This provides a per capita GDP of $43,600.

Only 1% of Iceland is cultivated. The remainder is a moonscape of black lava, snow covered mountains and ice constantly reshaped by continuous volcanic activity. The island sits on the fault line between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America. The good thing about this is that geothermal energy provides all household heating and 15% of the electricity supply. Water is so pure and plentiful that none of the bottled variety is sold. Puffins and minke whales are also in plentiful supply and supplement a healthy diet.

Togo is quite different.

Situated on the West Africa coast just above the equator, it is spliced in between Benin on the east and Ghana on the west. With an area of just 57,000 sq. kms its 6.7 million people constitute one of the smallest states in Africa. In this somewhat lush tropical climate its inhabitants exist on a per capita GDP of $1400.togo

Both countries have faced financial crises in recent years. Iceland’s banking system went into meltdown in the GFC of 2008-9. Today it is recovering.

Togo’s financial crisis occurred in 2005. The method of recovery has permanently changed the nation. When Togolese politics took a turn not approved by its French former colonial masters, Western aid was stopped. According to local reports the new President was forced to accept an offer of help from Saudi Arabia. Its aid came with conditions attached namely:

  • Representation in the advisory ranks of government
  • Muslim religious holidays to be granted public holiday status
  • Muslim schools to educate Muslim (and other) children
  • Mosques to be built where and whenever considered necessary.

The results are observably dramatic.

In 1981 the number of Muslims in Togo was estimated to be 12.2% of the population. By 2010 it had risen to 20%. Some Islamic websites claim that in 2015 it is 50%. In the same period of 1981-2010 Christianity’s increase was from 28.3% to 29% while animism declined from 58.8% to 51%. Islam’s normal growth strategy is through:

  • Dawa—calling all back to the true path as preached by Islam
  • Jihad—struggling for personal holiness and through military and other conquest where appropriate
  • Demographics—higher birth rates of Muslim mothers and transmigration
  • Mosques—each represents a new centre from which to claim and capture new territory.

The last item is obvious in Togo. Local reports suggest that in the capital city of Lome alone in the last decade the number of mosques has risen from 4 to 400. In the small northern area of Notse a plan was announced to build 100 new mosques within 12 months.

Mosques are frequently built near Christian churches seemingly in an attempt to overwhelm them. When a piece of land came on the market next to a church, with the church struggling to raise funds to match the seller’s price, Muslims offered 10 times the selling price.

In the vicinity of the mosque there may be a well offering clean water saving poor people walking kilometres to obtain supplies. There may be a crushing mill offering to process grain. There may be photovoltaic cells offering electricity supply. All of these facilities are available for those who agree to attend the previously empty mosque services. Local non-Muslim traders complain that they are being displaced in the major shopping facilities by well-funded Muslims buying, renting or taking over shopping zones. It is claimed that critical infrastructure of transport is increasingly dominated by Muslims.

Scholarships are allegedly offered for youth to be educated abroad in Muslim countries. They leave as Christians or Animists and return as zealous Muslims. Reports indicate whole villages have converted to Islam on the basis of the promise of a free trip to Mecca.

Christian missionaries report that their visits to animist villages are frequently followed by Muslim representatives offering much more than whatever Christians may have offered. Christians had not offered any material inducements.

Not all money comes from the Middle East. In the town of Zooti a large tract of land has been fenced by a brick wall. The signboard on the wall says Zooti Global Islamic Educational Complex. It further indicates funding is being provided by the Global Islamic Mission of Australia.

 If one is able to recite loudly and confidently Islam’s prayer indicating conversion, the reward is allegedly approximately $200. If the same prayer is recited only softly it is said the reward is only $2. There seems to be no end to the usefulness of financial jihad to induce needy people into the folds of Islam. And when they join that throng, just as it is increasingly in Western cities, Muslims pray in the streets blocking public thoroughfares presumably as a mark of territorial assertiveness.

So what’s this got to do with Iceland?

In that distant frequently frozen land the first Muslims have ‘harmlessly’ arrived opening kabob shops and other outlets. Christianity has been in Iceland for over 1000 years. But locals report active participation in church life is down to 3%–not helped much by the nation’s leading Lutheran bishop, a lady who favours same sex relationships which hasn’t sat well with her more conservative constituency.

To compensate for this spiritual vacuum, one might expect the construction of the country’s first mosque in the nearer future.

To learn a little more about Islam, buy a copy of my latest publication Islam Rising from the Books section of my website at the special introductory price for September only.

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Misunderstandings

As soon as I arrived in Lome, the capital of Togo, West Africa, I asked my contact a number of questions to clarify local customs. At my first two speaking engagements, which included people from 19 nations and a live radio audience of about two million listeners, I apologised in advance for my lack of knowledge of the detail of local culture and hoped they would be generous in their forgiveness and acceptance of me—in spite of my blundering ignorance. In such matters I try to be a fast learner. Even so I still make mistakes.

I like softly whistling tunes to myself. Then someone told me I shouldn’t do that. Local non-Christians believe whistling disturbs the spirits of the ancestors. It’s also thought the practice calls snakes. The only people permitted to whistle are herdsmen guiding their cattle. The poor snakes must be riven with anxiety syndrome. On the one hand they are being called to come. On the other they risk being trampled to death by cattle.

I stopped whistling. But not every foreigner tries to be culturally contextualized. The way in which outsiders know they are welcome to a home, a meeting or any gathering in Togo is upon arrival someone will immediately come forward and offer to carry whatever may be in their hands. When this gesture of welcome was extended to a European visitor he got angry. “Don’t touch my luggage. It’s mine,” was his response. He thought someone wanted to steal his luggage.

As an American couple passed by the wife paused to say “Hello”. The husband immediately called to his wife, “Come on now. Don’t waste time. We are leaving immediately.” Enquiry revealed that although the couple had been in the country for many years the husband had developed relationships with virtually no one. He had a reputation for never having time. Africans sometimes jest, “You foreigners have watches. But we Africans have time.”

Regardless of ranking in society or just pressures of work, Togolese always pause and courteously greet the other person. Outside of our own cultural contexts we are all prone to fall into the pit of misinterpretation of others’ words and deeds. Failure to investigate and study carefully what’s happening around us can have deadly effects. One such instance is seen in the West’s failure to understand Islam.

Behaviour which falls outside our secularized, humanistic, scientific worldview we label as exceptional or radical and refuse to admit it could be more general. Hence western governments speak of radicalisation and deradicalisation of their Muslim citizens. Early causes attributed to the radicalization process were claimed to be poverty, social disadvantage etc. This theory was firmly held until those responsible for violence in Western countries or the Middle East were revealed to be often well-educated, middle class citizens. Few opinion makers thought to examine the basic teachings of Islam itself.

In the Quran Surah 9:123 Allah instructs, “Fight those of the disbelievers who are near you.” Surah 9:14-15 adds, “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy (or heal) the breasts of believing people…and remove the rage of their hearts.”

The Arabic used in these surahs is said to mean “to fight to kill.” So there is a simple timeless command—to kill non-believers.

And why not?

It’s very gradually being understood by non-Muslims that one of the few ways of obtaining certainty of entrance to Paradise for a Muslim is to die as a martyr while on Jihad. This serves as a very persuasive recruiting device for the militarily inclined. What is equally powerful but less well known outside of the Muslim community is the teaching of one of the greatly revered authoritative sources of Islam’s prophet Mohammad.

In the collection of Traditions (Hadith), Sahih Muslim chapter 789 paragraph 4661 Mohammad reportedly said, “A disbeliever and a believer who killed him will never be gathered together in Hell.” The inference is that the disbeliever obviously ends up in Hell while the believer (of Islam) is assured of residence in Paradise. Therefore the therapy to calm a troubled Muslim may be to murder a disbeliever.

Obviously not every Muslim who seeks an assured place in Paradise resorts to a Jihad or therapy that advocates killing an unbeliever.

The concepts referred to above so jar on non-Muslim minds that the only way they can reconcile realities of what is happening in the Middle East and in violence in countless other locations, is to declare such behaviours as non-Islamic, radicalism, Islamism, Salafism or by other names.

We have much to learn. To understand a little more, snatch a copy of my latest publication, Islam Rising available here, while the special introductory offer is still available.

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Revelations From History

For some months I have been reading Simon Sebag Montefiore’s book, Jerusalem The Biography. The cover says it’s “The number one bestseller.” Having nothing better to do in the very early hours of the morning as the bookshop was the only shop operating in Singapore airport, I bought my copy to pass the time while waiting Henry Kissinger (I didn’t know he was still alive) and Bill Clinton (I wonder how much he had to be paid for his 48 words) were among those who recommended the book. Its 720 pages are packed with historical data.

Photo by Stephen Coles

Photo by Stephen Coles

The Middle East is the birthplace of so much that has blessed and cursed the rest of the world. Jerusalem is the epicenter in which divine lightning seems to have repeatedly struck spontaneously birthing a new era of spirituality and claimed revelation. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all lay claim to Jerusalem’s real estate.

Muslims demand exclusive priority rights to the whole of Jerusalem and all the surrounding territory known as Israel. The foundational documents of HAMAS in Gaza and the PLO in the West Bank clearly state their claims and objective of expelling all Jews. To deviate from these claims in the slightest would cost the respective leaders their positions and power.

When Yassar Arafat was offered an exceedingly generous power and land sharing agreement by the Israelis some years ago, even though it contained most of what he had been negotiating about, he walked away. He had to. To have accepted would have cost him his position and probably his life. That was what President Sadat of Egypt paid for reaching an agreement with Israelis that saw them hand back all Egyptian territory they had captured in earlier wars.

In Jerusalem’s troubled history, from time to time depending on who held political control, Jews and Christians were expelled and excluded from its precincts. But as Montefiore’s research makes clear, it is a gross distortion of history to assume that after the Islamic invasion in the first half of the seventh century, all Jews suddenly disappeared. In fact the opposite is true.

Omar Amir al Mumin, Commander of the Believers, received the keys of Jerusalem from Patriarch Sophronius who declared the city would now undergo “the abomination of desolation”. Omar not only settled Muslim Arabs in the city he also welcomed more Jews to resettle within its precincts.

The cycle of struggle for recognition, possession and supremacy has been with us ever since. To understand a little more of the contemporary dimensions of this complex interplay get a copy of my latest publication, Islam Rising The Middle East and Us. It’s available at an introductory reduced price of only $5 plus postage till the end of September. Go to BOOKS and purchase it there.

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Islam Rising

I am very pleased to let you now that my new book, Islam Rising, has just been officially released and is already receiving high praise from a number of quarters. Secular political leaders and media minders have marginalized religion unless it serves their professional interests. Historical memory hardly extends beyond yesterday’s sound bites or delves deeper than the flutter of social media comment.Islam-Rising_cover

This book summarizes elements of how enduring turmoil in the Middle East have arisen and some implications for the rest of the world.

“With typical careful background investigation and insightful analysis, Robinson clarifies about Islamic State what some are too afraid to admit. A book to be thoroughly recommended.”

Dr Bernie Power. Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Melbourne School of Theology, Australia.

As part of our launch we have decided to reduce it from its already very affordable price.

RRP $6.99 but our SPECIAL OFFER if you purchase before September 30 $5.00 (plus postage and handling). Click here to purchase.

In doing this I am hoping that cost will not be a barrier to anyone who wants a copy of this timely book in order to understand one of the most pressing issues we face today.

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