Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Islam and Compassion

Most people who followed George W. Bush’s seven-year “war on terror” will remember Karen Armstrong, the special assistant to the president who was notable (or notorious) for visiting Saudi Arabia and other Muslim strongholds with a syrupy message of ecumenical peace ’n’ love. She could always be found on the front lines of American outreach to “our Muslim friends”.

The end of the Bush administration did not dampen Ms. Armstrong’s enthusiasm for all things Islamic. In fact, she says she considers Geert Wilders to be a “fascist”. How do you like them apples, Geert?

Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated an article from De Volkskrant about Karen Armstrong and her latest compassionate initiative (some of the quotes were translated into Dutch and then back into English, so they may not be verbatim versions of the originals):

Islam and compassion?

By Amanda Kluveld

Karen Armstrong All religious and spiritual traditions have compassion as a its basis, says Karen Armstrong. Is that so? And what about Islam?

“The principle of compassion or empathy is the basis for all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, with this an appeal is perpetually made to us to treat others they way we want to be treated ourselves.”


Thus begins the Charter for Compassion, an initiative by the writer Karen Armstrong, which was presented on November 12 in different cities of the world. In Amsterdam the Charter was read by Awraham Soetendorp in the presence of among others [Amsterdam Mayor, PvdA, Socialist] Job Cohen and Tariq Ramadan. Soetendorp and Ramadan are members of the Council of Conscience, which consists of people of different ideological backgrounds who support the charter. These include, for example, Desmond Tutu and Ali Gomaa, the Mufti of Egypt.

The charter has a catchy beginning. But is what it says true? Take Islam. Is there any indication in the Koran or in practice that compassion is the foundation of Islam? No. The golden rule can only be applied if you base it on the equality of people, if you find that another person is similar to yourself. In Islam that principle does not exist. The testimony of a woman is worth less than that of a man.
Unbelievers are avoided, subdued, or must be slain. The words of Jesus, which can be found in Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” is in not any form to be found in the Koran, no matter what Armstrong and Wikipedia want to make us believe. Islam does not know the golden rule.


Even more so, the Koran explicitly rejects compassion in religion. In Sura 24:2, which is about the flogging of the adulteress and the adulterer with one hundred lashes, it is stated as follows: “and have in God’s religion no compassion for them, if you believe in God and the last day. With their punishment, a group of believers must be present.”

It is a totally different way of thinking than that of Jesus, who said, as can be found in John 8:3-11: “If one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” What possesses Armstrong to seek her salvation with the Mufti of Egypt and Tariq Ramadan to promote compassion in the world?

Well, she is afraid. at least I understand that from an interview with her I found on the website bruggenbouwers.com [bridge builders]. When asked why the golden rule and the Charter for Compassion are so badly needed, she replied: “I seriously believe that we have a very violent future ahead if we do not apply that golden rule, not only to persons around us, but also to peoples and nations.”


“We live in a century in which small unhappy groups possess a destructive power that was previously reserved for nation-states. 9-11 will retroactively seem a row during a Sunday-school picnic, compared to what is coming. Unless we act according to the golden rule. We will have to understand one another, worldwide. We need to perform an intellectual effort. And thus not just rely on a newspaper article or TV program and then immediately say: this is my view of Islam.”

Our fault

What does that actually say? That “we” must change our view of Islam, because otherwise even worse things will follow than 9-11? We just have to believe that compassion is the foundation of Islam, otherwise we will be destroyed.

By whom or what, she does not mention, but the reference to 9-11 suggests that she refers to Muslims. And if our destruction will occur, then that’s our fault. For we should have looked into Islam and seen how beautiful and good it is.

Now the disaster which is going to take place can still be reversed, if I understand Armstrong well. Thus it is intended that we knowingly, despite newspaper articles or television programs, accept from her that Islam is about compassion. And when we accept that, we have to meet the whole world, including the Islamic world, with compassion.

This, according to Armstrong, means in practice that “you should not speak no evil about each other in the public life, not about your ex-wife, but also not about a country with which we are at war. That must not be done; speaking evil is a denial of our humanity.”

- - - - - - - - -
Now I do not know exactly what she means with speaking evil, but there are things like genocide, terrorist attacks or the hanging of homosexuals, where a reasonable person in any case should not speak any good word about. Must I have compassion with the regime of Iran? Do I deny my humanity when I say that I find perpetrators of honor killings reprehensible?

According to Armstrong I should. Although, from the interview it shows that the writer herself does speak without compassion for some people, and even speaks actual evil about them. About Geert Wilders for example. Who according to Armstrong is “some kind of a fascist.”

“[…] I find it frightening that he always portrays Islam as an evil religion. It makes clear that we have learned nothing from the Hitler years, from the horrors of the Nazi camps.”


How compassionate. Everyone knows Wilders in the Muslim world, she ominously adds. With this she is suggesting that if a new 9-11 were to announce itself, it would be Wilders’ fault. And also the fault of the press, which according to Armstrong never pays any attention to liberal Muslims like the previously-mentioned Grand Mufti of Egypt. The guilt of the West.

What more does Armstrong wants with her Charter for Compassion? She hopes “that people will feel empowered and become sensitive to language that lacks compassion”. That has already failed, I can tell her. The presentation of the Charter for Compassion took place in the “Moses and Aaron Church” in Amsterdam. The program said it would be completed by the girls choir of the Muslim community school El Kadisia Amsterdam-Slotervaart. How sweet, how lovely, it seems almost to be Christmas already. You must be a real sourpuss if you do not find this an innocent event.


Arabist Simon Admiraal pointed out to me that it makes sense to try to find out what El Kadisia actually means. And he was right. El Kadisia is a battle in 637. And not just a battle. It was the decisive battle in the bloody conquest of Persia by Islam. A school in Amsterdam Slotervaart is named after that. “El Kadisia” language is without compassion. It is the language of Islam. And nobody who recognized that, and nobody on that day of great compassion bothered.

VH adds longer versions of a few Karen-Armstrong quotes from the interview:

Karen Armstrong: “The Charter bases itself on the golden rule that can be found in the heart of all morality and all religions: treat others like you want to be treated.”

Karen Armstrong: “You journalists always ask me: where are the liberal Muslims, why do they say anything? Sometimes I think I live on another planet, because there are plenty: every day I read their e-mails and websites.”

Interviewer: “You undoubtedly will blame Geert Wilders’ naïveté.” Karen Armstrong: “He is not the only one. But I find it frightening that he always portrays Islam as an evil religion. It makes clear that we have learned nothing from the Hitler years, from the horrors of the Nazi camps. Wilders is a kind of fascist, fascism is not dead.”


Zenster said...

When asked why the golden rule and the Charter for Compassion are so badly needed, she replied: “I seriously believe that we have a very violent future ahead if we do not apply that golden rule, not only to persons around us, but also to peoples and nations.”.

Giving an avowed enemy the benefit of the doubt is a recipe for suicide. The Golden Rule works on an individual basis. It is not a wise wartime strategy when confronted with a foe that awards itself a sanctioned right to employ deception, falsehood and betrayal.

“[…] I find it frightening that he always portrays Islam as an evil religion. It makes clear that we have learned nothing from the Hitler years, from the horrors of the Nazi camps.”

And I find it totally irrational that people continue to miscontrue Counter-Jihad with the Nazis when Islam and the Nazis have more in common by far. This sort of willful blindness, carried out at such a high level, becomes a sort of treason against humanity. If there is one force in this modern age that embodies Nazism, it is Islam.

She hopes “that people will feel empowered and become sensitive to language that lacks compassion”.

This is a naked appeal for the enactment of "hate speech" laws. In doing so, Armstrong makes herself into the enemy of freedom and some of the most basic human rights.

Small wonder that the Republican party is so rudderless at this time. With this sort of poison drip fed into its body politic, there can be little hope.

laine said...

Armstrong is the epitome of what Stalin used to call "useful idiots" who made willing cogs in totalitarian machines.

She is apparently unaware that Islam is the one religion of the majors that has no form of the Golden Rule of Compassion that she burbles about. Except as a temporary manipulative ploy, Muslims will not do unto others as they wish to be done by, not if the others are non-Muslim. Their charity is also exclusively for Muslims and chintzy at that compared to what non-Muslims give to Palestinians, flooded out Indonesians etc.

What has this woman ever done in her entire life that would earn her the label conservative or even Republican? She appears a leftist mole of the Dede Scozzafava school, discrediting Republicans with an attitude as stupid as the dimmest lib.

In Hoc Signo Vinces† said...

The golden rule is ambiguous, literally it does not support a universal interpretation or application. The use of others suggests a recognition of differences not of a universal (nation or people) the impression is that a transgresser can be dealt with or judged if the need be by his own (im)moral code.

ChrisLA said...

The Charter says, ". . . any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate." We can all sign up to that. While the New Testament is light years ahead of the Quran in this regard, I don't see any Islamic scholars rushing to edit out the violent, hateful, and disdainful passages in that sacred text.

The whole problem with Islam -- and its a problem nobody dares fix -- is that the "worthy example" -- Muhammad -- showed no compassion. The Quran records in Surah 80:1-2, "(Muhammad) frowned and turned his back when the blind man came towards him. . . But to the wealthy man you were all attention." When Asma, daughter of Marwan, was critical of Muhammad for ordering the killing of a 120 year-old man, Muhammad said, "Who will rid me of Marwan's daughter?" One of his followers stabbed her in the middle of the night leaving her five sons orphans. Muhammad's reaction? He said, "Two goats won't butt their heads about her." (Ishaq, para 676) Muhammad oversaw the beheading of 600 to 900 men of the Banu Qurayza, and then raped Rayhana the just-widowed wife of one of their murdered chiefs. (Ishaq, para 693) To rid Islam of violence, hatred, and disdain for others would require outright condemnation of Muhammad and most of his recorded acts and statements. It ain't goin' to happen.

ChrisLA said...

I hope G of V readers will take time to peruse the names of the affirmers of this Charter for Compassion. Hardly any Muslim names. Since the website is published in Arabic, the language barrier should be no excuse. If Muslims can't subscribe to this Charter for Compassion, it's nothing more than a meaningless gesture. Worse yet, it aligns non-Muslims in abdication from a reasonable insistence that failure to show compassion (among Muslims) is downright offensive and evil.

ChrisLA said...

The list of affirmers, referenced in the above posting is at: http://charterforcompassion.org/act/affirmers

Dymphna said...

Chris LA--

We be a lazy bunch around here.

There's a template on the "Leave Your Comment" box. Doesn't show until you hit the post a comment link. Where it says to leave a comment use this format, just cut and paste the template into your empty space and fill in the blanks with the URL(put it between teh quote marks) and then the name --delete the words My Title and add your own.

Like this:

Charter for Compassion Affirmers.

This way all of the indolent, like me, can just click the link.


That sure is one motley crew. It's difficult to pick my favorite of the light-minded.

Goldie Hawn, maybe. And someone whose first name is Mushroom. I wonder if his middle name is Cloud and he's trying to live down his nuclear tendencies.

Many of the names are hyperlinked but I sure wouldn't go there. Not even to someone named Firehawk or Peregrin Wildoak.

Thanks for this gem.

Anonymous said...

Ha, when I read this I was thinking about her being an useful idiot too. How stupid can you be? I mean, she admits that Islam is an imperialistic violent political movement, considering she said that if we don't shut up, another 9/11 will follow. No offense, but you just said that Islam isn't sugar and spice and all things nice and that it is incompatible with our way of life. So, Wilders is right by your own characterization of Islam, but you say he is a fascist because it flies against the multicultural claptrap that the retarded neoliberalism brainwashed you with. This is called cognitive dissonance.

On another note. Appeasement never worked. Each time a country did it, it was destroyed.
How valid is this video today? 40 years later...

Profitsbeard said...

Sura 9:5 ("...slay the unbelivers wherever you may find them...") says that there is no compassion for infidels.

Karen Armstrong is an infidel (presumably).

Ergo~ better wear a Kevlar turtleneck, ditz!

Maybe she never read the Koran?

Fahim kamran mirza said...

"Did you think that We had created you in play, and that you would not be returned unto Us?" The noble Qur'an, Al-Muminoon(23):115.

What Does "Islam" Mean?
The word "Islam" itself means "Submission to Allah." The religion of Islam is not named after a person as in the case of "Christianity" which was named after Jesus Christ, "Buddhism" after Gutama Buddha , "Marxism" after Karl Marx, and "Confucianism" after Confucius.
Similarly, Islam is not named after a tribe like "Judaism" after the tribe of Judah and "Hinduism" after the Hindus. The Arabic word "Islam" means the submission or surrender of one's will to the will of the only true god worthy of worship, "Allah" (known as God "the Father" in Christianity).
Anyone who does indeed submit to the will of Allah as required by Islam is termed a "Muslim," which means one who has submitted to the will of Allah. Many people in the West have developed the sad misinformed trend of calling Islam "Muhammadenism" and it's followers "Muhammadins." This is a totally foreign word to Muslims and unrecognized by them. No Muslim has ever called his religion "Muhammadenism" or called himself a "Muhammadin."
What Is The Basic Concept of Islam?
Islam teaches us that this life is a life of worship. We are placed on this earth in order to worship Allah and obey His command. During this earthly life we are subjected to a series of trials. We have the option of enduring these trials and conforming to certain laws, and our reward will be great in the next life, or we may decline to endure these trials and choose to not conform to the law, then we will be made to regret it in the next life.
Each person will be solely and completely responsible for their own final reward. We are also told that God has designed these laws to make this life a better, safer, and more tolerable one for us. If we elect to conform to them then we will see the result in this life even before moving on to the next.
We are told that the earthly life is a life of faith and work, and the next life is one of reward and no work. We have been placed on this earth to worship God, fast, pray, be industrious, good, kind, respectful, and a source of uprightness and morality. We are told that God has no need of our worship. Our worship can not increase the kingdom of God nor add to His power, however, it is in our best interests both in this life and the next that we do.
Unlike some other religions which claim that God entered in a covenant with a certain group of people and that this group is genetically better than all other human beings, or closer to God, Islam on the other hand teaches that no color, race, tribe, or lineage is better than any other. Islam teaches that all humans are equal in the sight of Allah and that the only thing that can distinguish them in His sight is their piety and worship.
"O humankind! Verily! We have created you from a male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily! the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most God-fearing. Verily! Allah is The Knower, The Aware." The noble Qur'an, Al-Hujrat(49):13.

a muslimah said...

You can't pick a couple ayat out and conclude that it means Islam isn't compassionate. The same thing could be done with the Bible to make it look the same way. To prove my point (and in no way do I mean any disrespect to my fellow brothers and sisters from Judaism and Christianity). Whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chron. 15:13); And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him.(Leviticus 24:16) If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers ... thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die.(Deut 13:5-10). Quran has a lot of history in it with violence just like the Bible, Hindu and pagan myths. The Islam I practice is full of compassion. And there are looney people who distort all religions to support their cause...extremists, bigots, racists, chauvanists, etc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kAYDHkVjyk let's stop fighting and make peace instead?

a muslimah said...

"Then will he be of those who believe, and enjoin patience, (constancy, and self-restraint), and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion."(90:17)Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good- to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: For Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious;-(4:36)