Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Minarets In Berkeley?

OK, you got me, that's not a minaret. It's Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus. The tower is commonly called "The Campanile" because of its resemblance to the famous tower in Venice, Italy, which collapsed in 1902 but later was rebuilt. But a true minaret, and all it implies, is not far behind. Plans continue apace to build the first official Muslim institution of higher learning in America, in the shadow of Sather Tower. The Campanile is a landmark in Berkeley, clearly visible from the waterfront across the Bay in San Francisco. Let's hope the minaret doesn't replace it in the East Bay skyline.

A lot of hype and nonsense has gone on about the "religion of peace," and "moderate Muslims," beginning almost immediately after September 11, 2001. George Bush was no less guilty of it than Barack Obama. I know there is such a thing as a moderate Muslim. I've actually met one or two. They're like "jack" Mormons or lapsed Catholics, or RINOs. They don't really ascribe to the underlying theology/philosophy at all, but they feel a need to call themselves something. Nothing I've seen since 9-11 has convinced me that there's a very large segment of those moderate Muslims, here or abroad.

Nevertheless, the moderate Muslims are working on finalizing their lovely college, which will be named Zaytuna College, and have apparently succeeded in obtaining academic accreditation (or are working on it, I'm a little unclear on this). It's supposed to open next fall. Their goal, they claim, is to "blend traditional Islam and American culture and establish a permanent place for the religion in American society." That will be a neat trick if they can pull it off. The last time I looked, traditional Islam as currently practiced throughout the largest part of the Middle East and pre-Obama American society are not a particularly good mix.

So let's take a brief look at the moderate Muslim founders of the school. One is Zaid Shakir. Shakir has real trouble remembering to be moderate. He occasionally, and publicly, slips and lets out what he really believes (sort of like Joe Biden). On the website New Islamic Directions, Shakir said: "9-11 occurred under dubious circumstances that have yet to be thoroughly investigated." I'm sure the 9-11 Commission will consider itself properly chastened. And the Troofers clearly have an ally.

In October of 2007, he stated that president Bush's agenda was cut from the same cloth as the fascist movements of the 20th century, and then made the great segue into referring to Bush as Hitler. Of course Hitler murdered Jews, not Muslims, but you get the idea. Shakir in 2006 told the New York Times: "Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country." But Shakir is only second banana to the real moderate Muslim behind the plans.

In the number one spot, we have moderate Hamza Yusuf Hanson. And Hanson is big-time. He has been lauded by National Public Radio and the New York Times as a "moderate Muslim who takes the middle ground (as in Ground Zero?) who has built a following with his inspirational lectures and willingness to take a critical look at Islam." I'm guessing his criticism includes using bigger jumbo jets next time. Is there anything worse than an "ex" anything? Hamza Yusuf Hanson was formerly Mark Hanson, and he has said he is a citizen of the United States by birth and not by choice. To demonstrate his bona fides, Hanson has called democracy and the American Bill of Rights "false gods." He called Judaism "a most racist religion." And mysteriously, on September 9, 2001, he said "America has a great tribulation coming to it." Now that may be pure coincidence, but it has more substance than any speculation the Troofers can come up with.

For those two or three actual moderate Muslims that I mentioned earlier, the first and quickest test of their moderation is how strongly they will speak out against the well-funded intrusions of Saudi Wahhabism into American life as well as its perversion of religion for purposes of control within Saudi Arabia itself. Hanson and Shakir have notably refused to answer any questions whatsoever about their opinion of Wahhabism. Little wonder, since most of the elementary and high school level education at Muslim institutions in America is straight-up Wahabbism. Wouldn't want to confuse the little devils when they get to college, now would we?

Granted, my opinion of moderates of any kind is not very high. I prefer the term "wishy-washy." But the concept of "moderation in everything" is not an entirely bad one. Even some of the ancient Greeks liked that idea, and they were the leaders in bringing western civilization to a barbarian world. So putting my prejudices about moderates aside for a minute, let's take a look at the new college's curriculum.

There will be two majors, "Islamic Legal and Technological Studies," and "Arabic." They wanted to call the school a university, but that curriculum hardly qualifies for a mere college. The classes will be segregated by sex of course, and if the women are allowed in at all, the big debate is whether they will be put on one side of the room while the men sit on the other, or whether they will have separate classes entirely. Mathematics and the hard sciences are not in the plans. Who needs them when you have the Koran?

I'm not sure if the curriculum is "moderate" or merely inadequate. But a curriculum is only as good as the instructors teaching it. Considering the founders, I don't really think you're going to get a whole lotta moderate instructors. Over at the Weekly Standard, Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim relations at the Hartford Seminary and a serious critic of the plans for Zaytuna is quoted as saying: "Any attempt like Zaytuna College should be studied very carefully so we do not ruin the future of young people who, out of religious enthusiasm, would study at such a place and probably get a worthless degrees." Professor, I agree with both the tone and content of your comment, but I should point out that non-Muslim universities are doing a pretty good job of printing worthless degrees themselves.

My son's home in the Berkeley Hills has a panoramic view of the UC Campus, as well as the entire San Francisco Bay. I'm going to be sure to ask him at Christmas dinner what his opinion of minarets is. As for the rest of the Berkeley residents, I don't think there's one with "Swiss-courage" enough to demand that no minarets and calls to prayer break up the Berkeley skyline. That would be intolerant, you know.

21 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

why am I not surprised that this is happening in the bay area?

LawHawkSF said...

Tennessee: Look at the bright side. Whatever happens here, it will happen earlier and will be worse than what's coming to your town later. At least you get advance warning.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--Maybe the college won't need its own minarets. It could simply rent the tower for those few times a day when they feel the need to prostrate themselves and face the home of Islamomurder. They could even pay the university to allow them to paint a big arrow pointing to Mecca, as long as it was painted in California blue and gold.

AndrewPrice said...

I don't accept that there isn't a moderate Islam. As I understand it, the difference is that moderate Islam seeks to modernize Islam to work along side the modern world, whereas fundamentalist Islam seeks to disown the modern world and impose the types of things we are seeing in places like the hinterlands of Pakistan.

I further understand that the two forms have been fighting for decades, but unfortunately, moderate Islam doesn't have the appeal of fundamentalist Islam.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Don't give them any ideas. Next, if they can convince the Cal Students Wildly Indignant About Nearly Everything (C-SWINE) to give up their protest space a few times a day, they could rent Sproul Plaza and hand out prayer rugs.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: And there's the group in Yemen which has proof that the Koran was written later than some scrolls they found much closer to the time of Mohammed.

I was of course using exaggeration to make a point. But untl I see any sizable and meaningful outcry against the huge murder cult that is the largest part of modern Islam, I will continue to believe that "moderate" Muslims are at best an endangered species. I'm quite sure there were some moderate Nazis and moderate Bolsheviks, but their influence wasn't exactly widely felt.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I agree with you about Muslims. From my viewpoint it is a contemptible religion. More suited to the dark ages, than today.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: The problem with the huge majority of Muslim theology is that it is not exegetic, unlike nearly all other major world religions. What was true at the time of Mohammed must be true today, in exactly the same way. Christians and Jews recognize that the Ten Commandments are eternal truths, but maybe stoning for adulterers or the prohibition against eating shellfish were creatures of their times.

As Andrew pointed out, there are Muslim groups which are trying to bring Islam (not the Islamic god) up to date. But they are a distinct minority. So not only do I have a problem with fundamentalist Islam, but I find it particularly egregious in the United States where radical Wahabbism is what the young Muslims are being taught almost exclusively.

It's one thing for Muslims in a repressive society such as Iran or Saudi Arabia to be quiet about their more modern personal views. But what's their excuse in a society as free as America's? If there really is a recognizable moderate Muslim population in the United States, they should be screaming from the rooftops about the perversion of their religion (if that's what they believe fundamentalism is) and the violence being committed in their name. Where are they? In a major world issue like this, silence demonstrates consent. Ignoring it is cowardly or dishonest.

patti said...

law: moderate nazis...hehe. i gotta ask the german about that. i'll duck first of course...

StanH said...

Well Lawhawk you lucky dog! SF is gonna have it’s own Muslim University/College, isn’t that a misnomer? When they have their call to prayer, everyone in SF needs to get on their roofs, and start caterwauling right along with them, …STFU for Gods sake!!! When we send Pelosi back to SF, maybe she could be the provost or president, and we can finally get a veil on that mug.

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: I've been looking for a story about a moderate Nazi for some time time. Couldn't find one. LOL

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: I'll contribute to the school if it gets Nancy out of DC and into a hijab or burka where she belongs. I don't know how much more of that botoxed look of permanent surprise I can take. Just having her explain gay rights to them would be worth the price of admission.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I wonder what the gay community thinks of a religion that stones gays to death?

StanH said...

Yeah to what Joel Asked, what does the gay community think?

LawHawkSF said...

Joel and StanH: The gay community does about as much thinking about Islamic law as the feminists. Which is to say, not at all. While lobbying for years for hate crimes legislation, they forgot to notice that a nasty look or a gay slur from a homophobe was a helluva lot less nasty than being beheaded or buried under the rubble of your house. If they want to pretend that Islam loves them, this they know, they can commit suicide without my help. About the time they realize the danger, they'll have gay marriages and gay funerals on the same day. First the civil law, then the sharia law.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I read a book called "While Europe Slept." It was written by a gay guy who moved to Europe because he thought it would be more tolerant.

He immediately ran into problems with Muslims everywhere he went and he methodically points out how the local Europeans let Muslims get away with beating up gays, imposing Islamic values on the schools and various neighborhood, and the such. And he spends a lot of time being frustrated that the gay community won't recognize the danger. It's an interesting read.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: It sounds like at least one gay guy may be a bit less understanding than naive Americans who haven't yet experienced what the Europeans have allowed, let alone what goes on in the fundamentalist Muslim states. There is a "gay holocaust" going on in Iran right now, and the local gay community has barely let out a peep.

RenewedCatholic said...

You met one or two Muslims? And you generalize and lay down judgment on these two individuals? Sheesh... can I do the same if I met 2 rednecks and pass judgment on the Christian faith? What if I bumped into 2 BMW driving, Rolex wearing Buddhist monks? What if I bumped into Lando Calrissian? All African Americans are traitors and willing to sell their best friend to Jabba?

You guys should really open up your mind, expand your horizons, remove some rigidity and breathe a little.

LawHawkSF said...

RenewedCatholic: As I mentioned earlier in a response to another commenter, I used exaggeration to make a point. I don't exactly live in a cave in the wilderness. In fact, I live in one of the most diverse cities on earth. I did jokingly kid about knowing a few moderate Muslims, since I actually know quite a few. But that wasn't the real point, was it?

The article had a twofold purpose. First, to point out that an allegedly moderate Islamic campus is being opened and headed by two very non-moderate Muslims with a very highly-limited curriculum. Second, that moderate Muslims are conspicuous by their absence in publicly and loudly condemning radical Islam and the terrorism surrounding it.

That said, and given that you probably know nothing about either of our prime contributors, I welcome your critical comments and thank you for your input.

StanH said...

Damn Lawhawk, I’m glad you responded to RC. I saw it around 7:00AM ET and wanted to hop on, but decorum dictates, be nice, especially when one is a visitor, to another’s blog. I guess he missed the sarcasm?

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Indeed, he did miss the sarcasm. And I think you showed admirable restraint. Thank you. We welcome opposing viewpoints, but a visitor who obviously knows nothing about our basic views is entirely off-base by charging us with parochialism and rigidity.

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