How Stupid Do You Have to Be to Become a Grand Mufti?

Muhammad_Ahmad_Hussein

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

This stupid:

The grand mufti of Jerusalem, the Muslim cleric in charge of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, said Sunday that there has never been a Jewish temple atop the Temple Mount, and that the site has been home to a mosque “since the creation of the world.”

Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein said in an Arabic interview with Israel’s Channel 2 that the site, considered the third holiest in Islam and the holiest to Jews, was a mosque “3,000 years ago, and 30,000 years ago” and has been “since the creation of the world.”

“This is the Al-Aqsa Mosque that Adam, peace be upon him, or during his time, the angels built,” the mufti said of the 8th-century structure commissioned by Caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan.

Hussein has held the post of mufti since 2006; he was appointed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has previously endorsed suicide bombings against Israelis.

Read it all and weep. It’s one of those stories that makes you think Islam is not so much a religion as a shared delusion to justify centuries of Jew-hate.

ISIS Desecrates Saint’s Remains, Bulldozes Monastery–Priest Still Missing

marelian0In 284 St. Elian, a physician, refused to renounce Christianity and was killed by his father. The site of his death in Homs, Syria soon became a locus of miracles and devotion, and a Church was was raised there in the late 5th century. A stone sarcophagus was built in side chapel to house his remains. A monastery grew at the location.

Some time this month, all of that history and devotion was ground into dust by barbarians. ISIS has released photos (and possibly a video, though I haven’t been able to find it) that show them destroying the site. They allegedly smashed their way into St. Elian’s tomb, then brought in heavy machinery to do the rest.

There are pictures circulating showing uncovered bones. Some are saying these are the bones of St. Elian, but I don’t think they are. It’s unclear at this moment what became of St. Elian’s remains, but from the reports I’m reading it appears that the entire site was bulldozed. That would include the tomb, the church, the remains, and the frescos uncovered during restorations:

Frescos_in_Saint_Elian_Church_-_Hims,_Syria

Some videos online claim to show the destruction, but they appear to show a different site. Right now, it’s all very sketchy, with only a few pictures in ISIS Twitter accounts and scattered reports. The media is filling in the scant details with a lot of speculation, so I’ve tried to sift it all as well as possible.

Worse than the loss to history is the human loss: Father Jacques Mouraud was kidnapped in the area on May 21st and is still missing. Fr. Mourad was the abbot of St. Elian, and had been working since 1991 to rebuild and restore the site.

Revelation of the destruction follows news earlier this week of the torture and beheading of leading Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad. al-Asaad had worked excavating and preserving the site of Palmyra for 40 years, and some called him the Howard Carter of Syria. Reports vary as to whether the 82-year-old was killed for collaboration and idolatry (including appearances at archaeology conferences with infidels), or because he refused to disclose the location of treasure, which ISIS imagined he was hiding somewhere in the ruins.  al-Asaad had made important discoveries at the ancient site, and was an expert in Aramaic. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

And Tobit Wept

Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a spokesperson for the Islamic Association of Collin County

Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a spokesperson for the Islamic Association of Collin County

From Rod Dreher comes this story of citizens in Farmersville, Texas telling Muslims they don’t want them burying their dead there:

The Islamic Association of Collin County purchased 34 acres to develop a cemetery in the sleepy burg of Farmersville because the closest Muslim burial ground is rapidly running out of space.

The Dallas-Fort Worth area already has three Muslim cemeteries, all developed and run for years without incident.

Residents in this town of 3,400 about 45 miles northeast of Dallas packed a community meeting on Tuesday night arranged by Farmersville city officials, who tried to convince locals there was nothing to fear and the planned religious burial ground will meet state standards.

Many were doubtful.

Resident Barbara Ashcraft told the Dallas Morning News after the meeting: “People don’t trust Muslims. Their goal is to populate the United States and take it over.”

There were a few who spoke out in support, but the reactions were overwhelming negative, with others other saying:

“I don’t like your religion, and I don’t even classify it as a religion,” said one man who spoke at the meeting.

“And you’re not part of our community.” [There are 22,000 Muslims in the area]

Death and burial customs are one of my interests, and one of the works of mercy we’re called to do. Tobit was judged a righteous man for burying the dead at great risk to himself. Maybe these attitudes are what we get from Protestants removing books from the Bible: they lose a beautiful example of righteousness.

I wrote about this at length when some tyrants and bigots wanted to deny a burial to marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev:

Why does Tobit do it, particularly as such great risk to himself? He makes it quite clear: it’s a central act of charity. He does three things that are righteous: gives bread to the hungry, clothes the naked, buries the dead (Tobit 1:17).

Are any of these beginning to sound a bit familiar? Because you’ve been ordered to do them, too:

  • Feed the hungry.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Bury the dead.
  • Give drink to the thirsty.
  • Give sheltered to the homeless.
  • Visit the sick.
  • Ransom the captive.

You’ll note the name of these acts–corporal works of mercy–comes from the Latin root corpus, for body, the source of the English word corpse.

There’s nothing in there about “burying the nice folks.” The command to bury the unrighteous is partly a matter of preventing contamination of the land, but it’s also interpreted as something due to any human created in the image of God. (I’ve written a whole series on how bodies and burial were handled in ancient Israel: a major focus of my study during a semester on the OT. This entry in particular summarizes Jewish attitudes toward the dead from a Biblical perspective.)

Mortality entered the world through sin. The person who handled the dead was therefore in the realm of death and sin. That’s why the person handling a corpse is considered impure for a time, but is also considered righteous. They are cleaning up the mess made by the sin of man, and in a very real sense doing close battle with that sin. It takes courage. It takes faith.

Read the rest, and let’s not be like these people. Let’s try to be better Christians. Let’s be like Tobit.

ISIS Is Destroying Ancient Palmyra

This is the Lion of Al-Lat:

palmyra-god-lion

It stood at the entrance the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria, and dated to the First or Second Century. It was a product of the great Palmyran civilization, which had a brief but prosperous glory while the Roman Empire was beginning its decline. It was built in honor of  Al-Lat, a pre-Islamic goddess.

It no longer exists.

ISIS has taken over Palmyra, which has a rich cultural heritage, and begun a systematic destruction of all “idols.” Eyewitnesses have described the destruction of the lion with construction equipment, as well as the smashing of cultural treasures in the museum.

The ISIS forces have promised locals that they will not destroy mere ruins, only “idols.” No one believes them.

The Great Colonnade, Palmyra

The Great Colonnade, Palmyra

Blasphemy and Desecration: Keeping the Peace in a Pluralistic World

Some people seem to be misunderstanding this post. I can defend Geller’s right to say whatever she wants and still criticize the way she does it without being some kind of apologist for jihad. This is something the libertarian secularists don’t seem to get because they don’t understand religion. I don’t think Geller does either. Let me offer some examples of things I would and wouldn’t say and do.

Example 1:

I believe Mohammed is a false prophet, and so must every Christian, even though saying so would offend and outrage many, perhaps most, Muslims. I’m saying it here to make a point. If my son’s Muslim friend was here, I wouldn’t say, “Hey, how ya doing! Mohammed is a false prophet you Bronze Age barbarian!” Neither would I say to a Jewish friend, “Welcome to my house, you Christ-killer. Accept the Lord!” That’s not the way decent people act.

This doesn’t change because I go from communicating with one Muslim to communicating with thousands or millions. People are not abstractions. That’s how progressives think: people are their group. It’s just bizarre to find so-called conservatives behaving the same way with Muslims.

Wikimedia Commons: Mohammed depicted with hands covered and face left blank.

Wikimedia Commons: Mohammed depicted with hands covered and face left blank.

Now, the Muslim could say: “Jesus is not the Son of God and did not rise from the dead. The Trinity is a lie.” Indeed, if he didn’t believe this, he wouldn’t be a Muslim. I don’t find that offensive. I find it wrong. Not the same thing.

This is talking about beliefs and substance. It’s provocative, but not merely for the sake of provocation. It addresses points at the heart of religious differences.

Obviously, the number of people who might be stirred to murderous outrage by someone saying “Mohammad is a false prophet” is statistically significant, while the number of people willing to kill someone for simply denying the divinity of Jesus is practically nonexistent.

This is the heart of our modern “Islam problem.” Their self-contained religious-legal system has problems with contemporary pluralism and diversity of belief. The majority of Muslim Americans make concessions to this as the price of living here. Some do not, and that’s where the violence seethes and explodes.

Example 2:

Satanists steal a Eucharist–the very body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ–and use it in a Black Mass.

Atheists steal a Eucharist and defile it with garbage and excrement.

Both are painful, grotesquely offensive actions that wound Catholics and cry out for reparation, which we make with prayer and fasting. We are not happy about it, but we do not kill anyone over it,

Pamela Geller holds a competition to have people draw Mohammed. Many Muslims are upset by this. A statistically significant proportion of them are upset to the point of violence. Two of them actually attempt murder. Pamela Geller will never stop looking over her shoulder.

Theologically, this is nonsense, but I’m not a Muslim so the theology is meaningless to me. However, it’s a blasphemy that, to them, cries out to God for justice. Their notions of blasphemy and justice are not mine. In fact, I think their notions of blasphemy and justice are completely wrong.

And I bet they think our devotion to the Eucharist is not merely nonsense, but idolatrous and blasphemous as well.

Once again, the difference is in the reaction at the fringes. No one died because of recent high-profile cases of Eucharistic desecration, because killing people over that would be barbaric and un-Christian.

However, many have died over The Dreaded Cartoons of Blasphemy and Other Insults to Mohammed, because certain interpretations of the hadith are rigidly aniconic, associating depictions of Mohammed with idolatry. In some schools of thought, the math is simple: idolatry is blasphemy and blasphemy is punished by death.

Islam is not monolithic about this at all: there is far more diversity in the theology than modern encounters with Islam would suggest. We hear about the extremes because the extremes are deadly, but we can’t be lulled into thinking that the extremes are normative. It’s like seeing Christian snake handling cults and thinking all Christianity is like that. We don’t like when people generalize about Jews, or Christians, or conservatives, so why do it to Muslims? “Because 9/11?” or “Because ISIS?” Is that what passes for thought now?

Yes, way too many Muslims are willing to murder for their faith. It’s a much higher percentage than is found in any other religion, and Islam needs to deal with that problem. Justification for violence is embedded deeply in their history, tradition, and texts, and the happy noise made by good, peaceful Muslims doesn’t drown out the bloodcurdling shrieks of their coreligionists. They need to confront a simple reality: their texts and traditions provide ample justification for violence in a way Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism do not.

What they need to realize is that their theology alone does not provide a compelling reason for us to change our behavior

When religions need share space with each other and with the irreligious, we adapt to certain civilized standards of behavior. We don’t judge everyone in a group by the behavior of its worst members. We don’t impose arcane legal codes on non-believers. Jews don’t get to ban ham. Hindus don’t insist that all Burger Kings and Sonics are closed. Catholics don’t get to punish people for eating meat on Friday. And Muslims don’t get to kill people for drawing Mohammed. In other words: suck it up, buttercup. It’s a big world. Take the advice of Jesus, and “Pray for those who persecute you.”

But at the same time we don’t need to go out of the way to make empty and thoughtless provocations for their own sake, or to prove some point about free speech. These are the little concessions we make in a pluralistic civilization. We make them to keep the peace, not because we’re wimps or dhimmi or whatever buzzwords the Twitter commandos are deploying at the moment, but because we’re not d@#ks.

Is making more cartoons going to have some positive effect? Is it going to encourage non-violent Muslims (ie, the majority of them) to slap their foreheads and say, “Thank you, Brave Truth Teller! Now I see how foolish I am to be offended by this. Where is the nearest megachurch so I may be baptized and join the GOP?” Is it going to encourage them to report the extremists in their midst? Is it going to assure them that we don’t hold them in contempt for their beliefs? Is it going to draw Muslims further into American culture, or push them away?

Related:

William Kilpatrick offers a completely different perspective at Catholic World Report. Obviously, I don’t agree, but he makes his case better than others I’ve read.

 

I Wasn’t Charlie, and I’m Not Pamela

You don’t get to choose the guy in the trench next to you. The nasty miscreants of Charlie Hebdo would not be my choice for allies, nor would the objectivist idiot Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs. Unfortunately, they seem to be the only people placing themselves in the line of fire in the cultural war against radical Islam.

I don’t like this type of cheap provocation. I don’t particularly care when people mock my religion because I know they do so out of hate and ignorance, which reflects poorly on them, not me or my faith. What I wrote about Charlie Hebdo applies to Pamela Geller:

There’s nothing gained by sloppy sentimentality at moments like this. Charlie Hebdo and its staff were no friends to anyone of belief. They were cynical, nihilistic, and blasphemous, as is their right in our post-Enlightenment, pluralistic world. This relativistic individuality may or not be a good and healthy thing, but now isn’t the time for that debate.

There’s no difference between Charlie and Geller, so I know Art Spiegelman is just making a fool of himself when he says stupid things like this:

What’s the difference between Charlie Hebdo and Pamela Geller’s organization?

I think that’s when my brain short-circuited. Because superficially, it seems like, well, the same thing is happening in Texas. But it’s not. It’s the anti-matter, Bizarro World, flipside, mirror-logic version of what Charlie Hebdo is about.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative is racist organization. It’s exactly the nightmare version that the writers who were protesting the PEN award thought Charlie was. But Charlie is an anti-racist, political magazine that does not have an agenda that consists of wanting to bait or trouble Muslims.

Bull. Charlie Hebdo did nothing more than put a thin political gloss over what progressives like to call a “hate group.” But Spiegelman is a man of the left, and pas d’ennemis à gauche, right Art?

Remember, kiddies: Proper ideology taketh away the sins of the world, amen and amen.

The winning cartoon from Pamela Geller's contest.

The winning cartoon from Pamela Geller’s contest, because NOT showing it is a failure to report properly on a story.

But bad taste isn’t a death sentence, at least not in America. The self-selecting elites like to pretend that it is, so we get a lot of sneering at Geller from the same people who applaud every juvenile anti-Christian work that comes down the pike. It’s sickening.

A foreign enemy attempted to commit an act of violence against law-abiding American citizens on American soil. This was the reaction Pamela Geller expected and wanted, and this was the one she got. She is now a marked woman. That is a direct and predictable consequence of a freely chosen action. She owns that now and for the rest of her life.

There was no point to the action, but then again there’s no point to Corpus Christi or the Vagina Monologues or other works of hate and foolishness. They’re simply the emotional spasms of a dying culture. I don’t choose to communicate that way, and I think it’s wrong. I respond by ignoring it. They exercise their rights to free speech, and I exercise my right to ignore them. The vast majority of Muslims do the same.

Geller’s problem is that she’ll cheerfully kick 99% of the Muslims in the face in order to find the two guys who will kick back. That’s not really much of a strategy for winning a culture war, but right now it’s all anybody seems willing to do. You don’t stir a hornet’s nest and walk away without a few stings, even in America, even under the protection of the First Amendment. What you have to do is find a better way to deal with hornets than poking their nest.

This is a war the jihadists will win. If Western civilization hadn’t already committed suicide, we wouldn’t be facing defeat. Secularism, socialism, political correctness, sexual insanity, and demographic freefall have already written the final chapter of Europe, and I don’t see America recovering from its current death spiral. Only a healthy religion can drive out a diseased one. We’re too weak and fractured to resist for long.

We had a healthy religion, and we traded it for cheap goods, easy sex, and mindless distractions. We had the Gospel, and we gave it up for dollar stores, gay “marriage” and no-fault divorce, and reality TV. Worst of all, the people of Christ gave up the core of their faith in a sad attempt to fit in with a culture that will always hate them. Hell, at least the Indians got some beads for Manhattan. What do Christians have to show for their craven capitulation?

So, no: we’re not coming back from this. The most we can do is spit in the eye of the enemy as he bayonets us.

UPDATED HEREBlasphemy and Desecration: Keeping the Peace in a Pluralistic World

Related:

Charlie Hebdo and a Broken Europe

Dante: Mohammed in Hell

The Cowards in the Media

How Did CNN Report on the New “Charlie Hebdo” Cover?

Like this:

cnn

CNN to Muslim world: “Please kill us last.”

Duly noted, dhimmis.

Here is the actual cover, which a news organization would, of course, show in its reporting in any other circumstance:

FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-MEDIA-FRONTPAGE

“All is forgiven.”

 

Terrorists can murder and bomb and destroy, but whether or not they accomplish their goals–the destruction of civilization–is completely up to us. They can only defeat the west if we change our behaviors, which means they’ve been winning this long war as we cringe in fear and subject ourselves to increasing levels of surveillance and do things to our enemies that we would rightly call barbaric were they done to us.

They can never defeat us on the battlefield. They can only defeat us in our minds and hearts, and thus they are already winning and will continue to do so as long as we allow them to.

Related:

Charlie Hebdo and a Broken Europe

Dante: Mohammed in Hell

Dante: Mohammed in Hell

The attacks yesterday were meant to do more than just “punish” particular cartoonists and writers for insulting Mohammed. They were intended to make sure others think twice about ever doing something similar.

And they will be amazingly effective. The journalist class–with a few notable exceptions such as the people of Charlie Hebdo–are notorious cowards when it comes to calling out people who might actually harm them. Witness this stunning example:

habdoOther than craven cowardice, what possible reason could there be for blurring the Mohammed picture but not the offensive Jewish caricature?

And Charlie Hebdo’s work often was offensive. I don’t agree with their anti-religious agenda, but it’s one they certainly must be allowed to express without fear.

Mainstream outlets like the NY Daily News know they they can offend Jews and Christians with impunity, and so we can expect a bizarre disconnect between those criticized and mocked and held up as evil, intolerant, and violent by the elites (that would be Christians, and sometimes Jews) and the actual perpetrators of much of the mindless violence in the world (that would be Muslims). The Islamic world is certainly dominated by peace-loving people, but a statistically significant portion of them are violent savages, and we do civilization no favors by pandering to their hothouse feelings. They’re well overdue for some insensitivity training.

The attacks aim at changing our behavior. Because people react in the face of violence, many will change their behavior. But since we are agents with freewill, we can choose the nature of that reaction and that change.

And I choose to offend.

I don’t do it out of indifference to the deeply held beliefs of good people. I don’t care much when people offend my beliefs, but I do judge them and hold them in low regard, and Muslims are invited to do so with me. The anti-Catholic and anti-Christian cartoons of Charlie Hebdo say something about the cartoonists who drew them, but nothing at all about my faith. As CS Lewis wrote: “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”

So I offer today a selection from arguably the greatest work of literature ever created by the hand of man: The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. In Canto 28, Dante places Mohammed and his son-in-law Ali in hell, where they are constantly split for the sin of sowing dissension and heresy. Islam was, in the time of Dante, considered a Christian heresy, with some believing Mohammad to be a renegade Cardinal who had created his own version of the faith. It wasn’t an unreasonable idea: most of what Islam has of value it took from Judaism and Christianity.

And so Dante offers this striking imagery (translation by Allen Mandelbaum):

   No barrel, even though it’s lost a hoop
or end-piece, ever gapes as one whom I
saw ripped right from his chin to where we fart:
his bowels hung between his legs, on saw
his vitals and the miserable sack
that makes of what we swallow excrement.
While I was all intent on watching him,
he looked at me, and with his hands he spread
his chest said, “See how I split myself!
See now how maimed Mohammed is! And he
who walks and weeps before me is Ali,
whose face is opened wide from chin to forelock,
And all the others here whom you can see
were, when alive, the sowers of dissension
and scandal, and for this they now are split.

The image has been illustrated for centuries:

Mohammed-inferno

Italian silent film L’Inferno. 1911

mahomet-4

Rodin

botticellidetail

Botticelli

ipd00023

Blake

gustave_dore

Dore

04800419trim

15th c. manuscript “Holkham misc. 48”

Is Mohammed in hell?

I hope not. I wouldn’t wish damnation on anyone, and with God all things are possible. Even the perpetrators of yesterday’s slaughter are capable of being forgiven when, God willing, they are swiftly found and just as swiftly sent on their way to the afterlife.

But as we face this endless war–and it is a war, with every computer and newspaper and city a battleground–we must not yield to intimidation and threats.

And for now, that we means we must offend.

Charlie Hebdo and a Broken Europe

How broken is Europe?

This broken:

crazy
That’s their response to the murder of twelve of their fellow journalists at the hands of jihadists.

You cannot measure my indifference to the wholly imaginary thing called “Islamophobia,” which, like “homophobia,” is a way to pathologize those who disagree with a dominant narrative. A phobia is an irrational fear. In this case, it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned about a religious movement that has rained blood on the world since its so-called “prophet” claimed to have the final word of God to man.

There’s nothing gained by sloppy sentimentality at moments like this. Charlie Hebdo and its staff were no friends to anyone of belief. They were cynical, nihilistic, and blasphemous, as is their right in our post-Enlightenment, pluralistic world. This relativistic individuality may or not be a good and healthy  thing, but now isn’t the time for that debate.

What’s obvious is that these writers,editors, and cartoonists were able to offend Christians and Jews without any fear of reprisal. They published one of the most offensive cartoons I’ve ever seen. I’ll link it here, but be warned in advance: it shows Jesus (crown of thorns, holes in his hands and feet) sodomizing God the Father and being sodomized in turn by the “Holy Spirit.”

There’s no deeper meaning in the image: it’s just a child’s outburst.  It’s offensive, yet I never considered killing anyone over it. My religion makes it clear that kind of reaction would be a violation of God’s laws. Islam, however, is considerably less clear on the subject, with both the Koran and the Hadith offering dozens of passages alternately urging violence and peace. And therein lies of the problem of the West’s long and violent interaction with Islam.

The outpourings of solidarity and sympathy in France and beyond show that we are still capable of shock and outrage. Good. We’ll need it.

The other thing we will need is faithA pallid secularism can’t defend against a diseased religiosity. Only a healthy faith can drive out a sick one.

I don’t have any illusions that we’ll see a huge turning to Christ in France. Anti-clericalism has been part of that nation’s very flesh and blood for too long. But there is something deeper in there, down in the bone and sinew: the Christianity that made France great.

All Europe and the secular west has been feeding like a vampire from that Christian heritage for two centuries without acknowledging that Christ is the wellspring of all our values and freedoms. Since that wellspring is the very living water Himself, it will never run dry, but the walls of the well are crumbling. Even the great cathedrals, built as living prayers in stone to last for centuries, are just piles of rock without faith, as the prayers that made them live fade into a distant echo. Europe is hollowed out, cherishing abstract notions and values without any transcendence or roots. It can’t survive long in this state without something breaking.

It’s rather poignant that the #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie) slogan looks so much like “Jesus is Charlie.” As much as the people of Charlie Hebdo disdained Christ, they found themselves at the foot of the cross nonetheless, as we all do. Their deaths are tragic, grotesque, and enraging, but they needn’t be futile. There is meaning even in tragedy.

For now, from across the sea, in a nation that doesn’t forget how much we owe the French, all I can do is offer a prayer for peace in these dark times. May families of the victims find consolation and comfort, and may St. Joan watch over them, strengthen them, and guide them. And may the love and blessings of Our Lord Jesus Christ be a light in their darkness.