May 06, 2007

One Islam?

Is Islam in Tehran the same as the Islam in the Phillipines? Is Islam in India different from Arab Islam? Via FrontPageMagazine:

What are the differences between Arab Islam and Islam elsewhere -- such as in India, Indonesia and in Africa? What do these differences signify? To discuss these questions with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel, including:

Mike Ghouse, a Muslim thinker, speaker and writer, and president of the Foundation for Pluralism. He is a frequent guest on talk radio, discussing interfaith issues. He also founded the World Muslim Congress. His articles can be found at and,

Dr. Timothy Furnish, a Ph.D in Islamic History (Ohio State), former U.S. Army Arabic interrogator, and college professor. He is the author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden (Praeger/Greenwood, 2005), as well as a number of articles on Islamic messianism and fundamentalism,

Dr. Hans-Peter Raddatz, a scholar of Islamic Studies and author of two books on the subject of women in Islam, Allahs Schleier - die Frau im Kampf der Kulturen (Allah's Veil - Women in the Clash of Civilization) and Allahs Frauen - Djihad zwischen Demokratie und Scharia (Allah's Women - Jihad Between Democracy and Sharia). His next book, Allah and the Jews, will be published next month in Berlin,

Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of six books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and the New York Times Bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is the author of the new book, The Truth About Muhammad.


Thomas Haidon, a Muslim commentator on legal issues involving counter-terrorism measures and Islamic affairs, he also serves as an advisor to the International Qur'anic Centre in Washington DC and the Free Muslim Coalition. He has provided guidance to several governments on counter-terrorism issues and his works have been published in legal periodicals, and other media. Mr. Haidon has also provided advice to and worked for United Nations agencies in Sudan and Indonesia.

Clich here to read about how Islam is practiced - and interpreted - around the world. An excerpt:
Furnish: Mr. Haidon’s warning about “over-emphasising the role of Wahhabism” is well-taken, and I think I have been careful about not doing so. Wahhabi Islam has only existed for two centuries, and the martial trends of Islam long pre-date it.

I do find it interesting that he also cautions me about “put[ing] words in other people’s mouths”—when I predicted that he and Mr. Ghouse would argue that “jihad means being a good Muslim,” and not expanding the Dar al-Islam at the expense of the rest of us—but then Mr. Ghouse, at any rate, proceeds to say exactly what I predicted: that after 9/11 Muslims “felt a sense of betrayal to learn that the aggression part of jihad was not in their religion, but was developed as a political tool, just as much as the crusades,” and that “it is unfortunate that the word Jihad has taken the meaning of holy war against the infidels.”

Indeed, it is unfortunate: but the word has meant that going back to Muhammad’s time, and Mr. Ghouse is woefully ignorant of Islamic history when he states that jihad as holy war "crystallized as an outcome against the crusades." Please. In this ahistorical view, Islamic rule was spread from the border of France to the Indus River in a little over a century by what—handing out brochures? Note that I am not saying Islam spread only by the sword; there were peaceful da`is, or "missionaries," especially among the Sufi orders. And Islam also spread across the Sahara, and the Indian Ocean, via traders on camels and ships. But it takes a massive ignorance, or misrepresentation, of history to argue with a straight face that jihad—bringing the non-Muslim Dar al-Harb under the political sway of the Dar al-Islam—had nothing to do with the spread of Islam as a religion and a civilization.