A visit to a dark corner of my soul

One of my Facebook friends just posted the following question:

“Just a thought….who does the Muslim world and ISIS support for president?”

The obvious answer is “Clinton” – the implication being that Trump would unleash Hell on Islamic terrorists and nuke them back to the stone age, or something similar.

In reality, Daesh does not support anyone for president, because Daesh does not believe in Democracy – but rather in Shari’a law under theocratic rule. If the extremists had their way, New York City might look like the image below, which appeared shortly after 9/11:


The problem with jingoism and xenophobia is that they know no bounds and do not require facts… just a gut-level fear of the unknown, of the different. Hence Donald Trump’s calls for the exclusion of all Muslim immigrants to the US, deportation of Muslims, issuance of identity cards to Muslims – all these have resonated with a segment of American society who have been terrorized by the terrorists.

A digression:


In the episode of Star Trek, the Next Generation entitled “The Survivors,” Kevin Uxbridge (brilliantly played by John Anderson) portrays a Douwd, an immortal being with godlike powers who fell in love with a human woman. When his wife was killed by a consummately evil race of beings known as the Husnock, Uxbridge explained:

I saw her broken body. I went insane. My hatred exploded. And in an instant of grief… I destroyed the Husnock… You don’t understand the scope of my crime. I didn’t kill just one Husnock, or a hundred, or a thousand. I killed them all. All Husnock, everywhere. – Are 11,000 people worth… 50 billion? Is the love of a woman worth the destruction of an entire species?

This theme was echoed in Attack of the Clones, in which Anakin Skywalker tells Padmé Amidala about the Tuskens who kidnapped and killed his mother, “I killed them. I killed them all. They’re dead, every single one of them. And not just the men, but the women and the children too.”

The desire for ultimate vengeance upon those who have harmed us or our loved ones seems to run deep in the human heart, witness the Hatfields and the McCoys, the internecine conflicts of the Balkans, the Middle East conflicts, the Tutsis and the Hutus, and so many others.

And as I experienced that day of infamy in 2001 when our nation was stabbed to the heart by unspeakably evil men, my soul went to that darkest of places. On that day, had you offered me the Elder Wand and told me that by simply waving it, all Muslims everywhere would simply cease to exist, and every one of their holy sites would be reduced to a glowing lake of slag, I probably would have waved it without a second’s hesitation. Such was the depth of my anguish at the emotional insult of that day.

It has taken a long time, but I was obliged to take those sentiments and wall them up behind the barricade of reason.


I admit that every time I see images of 9/11, or hear of a new atrocity committed in the name of Islam, I can still hear Fortunato’s bells jingling behind that wall. That day scarred my psyche for all time. I doubt I will ever fully heal, but I refuse to give in to the bestial urges.

With all of that in mind, I cannot support as president of this nation a man who would demonize fully one fourth of this world’s population for the actions of a few deranged and deluded madmen. Yes, those few are dangerous, and a threat to global security. But this is not Riyadh, or Tehran, or Darfur – this is America, and Muslims are as much a part of our country as the Catholic immigrants from Italy and Ireland, or the Jewish immigrants from the global diaspora. The enemy is ignorance, the enemy is extremism. We must be vigilant, but we must also be human.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Commentary: Question to the Islamic Terrorist

Published at VG News.

This should be read by every Muslim, preached over every pulpit by every Imam.


These are the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo yesterday. But there have been many such in recent years.

While the world picks up the pieces and tries to rebuild, I have some questions for you. You whose bloodlust cannot be slaked.

I ask because I’m a Muslim. And you say you are Muslim. And you say you kill for the God in whom we both believe. You are even proud of this, and some Muslims support you. Most do not, and I ask on their behalf:

“What have you really accomplished?”

Yesterday you killed 12 people and freedom of expression. You say that you avenged the Prophet. You were violated because caricatures were drawn. Charlie Hebdo had a circulation of 50,000. You changed this yesterday. Those caricatures you thought were worth killing for, so that no one would ever again dare to caricature our prophet? Those cartoons had a circulation of 500 million yesterday. At the very least.

Newspapers worldwide have the cartoons on the front pagte today, online, on paper. Millions have changed their profile picture to a caricature of Muhammad . You said “Charlie Hebdo is dead.” The world responded by saying “Je suis Charlie,” “I’m Charlie.” You’ve made ​​Charlie Hebdo immortal. And freedom of speech has reemerged stronger than ever. And did you know that many Muslims, who in 2005 and 2006 were hurt and depressed over the Mohammed cartoons, yesterday wrote that they have changed their minds? They say that the killing of the defenseless is a far greater insult against Muslims than caricatures will ever be. They say: “Draw, draw, draw.” This is what you have achieved.

You threaten and kill

You came onto the stage in earnest on 11 September, 2001. You began with the terrorist attacks in the United States. There you killed 2,996 people. You helped start the “war on terror”. It’s not over yet. And perhaps the war will never be won. The war has resulted in 116,657 civilian casualties, and the count is still rising. Most are Muslims like you and me. Children, the elderly, women and men. Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by NATO forces, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed by you. You call them victims in the war for God, and you butcher them down without blinking, your your fellow-muslims. And your fellow-muslims must answer for your crimes. Hate crimes against Muslims in Western countries are on the rise. This is what you have accomplished.

You say you are going to spread “true Islam.” Your method is automatic weapons, suicide bombs, indoctrination and fear. Pure fear. You threaten to behead, whip and stone your fellow-muslims into believing in what you believe is true Islam. You call yourselves IS and have killed 24,000 people in Iraq: Muslims, Yazidis, Christians. You use children as soldiers and sell women as sex slaves. You are few, but Muslims are numerous. The many will never live as demanded by the few. Therefore you can never make progress with democratic means. So you resort to the sword and call yourself a lion. Over a hundred Muslim eminent scholars, with close to a billion Muslims behind them, call you an insult to Islam. This is what you have achieved.

The day you lost the battle

The last few years have started something new. You go for the most defenseless. Women, children, aid workers and journalists. You shoot one Malala in the head, because you do not like what she says. Today hear a whole world of Malalas. You shoot 132 children, most boys in puberty, because you think Islamic writings demand that, in the head. From close range. You think this will scare the Pakistani military and the Pakistani people. Pakistan responds with airstrikes, mass executions of convicted terrorists, and mass mobilization against you. A mobilization Pakistan has never seen before. So what have you accomplished, really?

Have you ever thought of the following: If you possess the one truth, should not one billion Muslims follow this of their own free will? You’ve had well over a decade to fight for your case, your interpretation. If your arguments had weight, would you not then have managed to convince all cartoonists to put away the pen? Do you see that you lost your case the day you picked up your weapons? I ask because I am a Muslim.

Shazia Sarwar

A Muslim’s Response to Kenya

Over at reddit, a user posted a question under the heading “Atheist looking for knowledge in light of the horrible events in Kenya.” A user named /u/Alienm00se responded with a very clear and cogent look at the extremist mentality, one I wish were shared openly by more members of the Muslim faith. It’s worth repeating, so I share it here.

First; you need to understand the extremist mentality. This is simultaneously independent of any single, and inclusive of any and all religious (Christian/Muslim/Jew ), socioeconomic ( CommunistCapitalist ) and political beliefs ( White Supremacist Conservative/Eco-terror Liberal ). The extremist believes that their way of life, the circumstances in which they grew up, are the only righteous/fair/proper way to live and believes this with such fervor that they are offended merely by the existence of other lifestyles and points of view.

Now (thank God), most religious, socioeconomic and political beliefs do not claim this extremist view, and in fact preach against extremism in favor of tolerance of – if polite disagreement with – other points of view. The extremist must therefore seek twist the belief system in order to make it seem as though its original intent was to promote the destruction of other points of view.

Extremists in Islam, admittedly, perhaps have an easier time with corruption this than other groups, because Islam itself was born in a rebellion of sorts against the ruling pagans of the city of Mecca – the Qurayish. In an effort to liberate themselves from Qurayish rule, and to guarantee their right to freedom of religion and speech, the early muslims fought a revolution against the Meccans for many years; and both the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Qu’ran give lessons on the rules of war to guarantee that the Muslims did not lose their humanity whilst fighting for freedom.

The Islamic rules of warfare are as follows:

  • “Fight in the name of your religion with those who fight against you.” (read; for self-defense only)
  • “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.”
  • “Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed – Allah indeed has power to grant them victory – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah”.

Explicitly forbidden is:

  • Murder of women and children, old men, monks, peasants, employees and traders who are not engaged in the battle.
  • Fighting during months that are sacred to the muslims and to their enemy.
  • Fighting solely to make the enemy muslim; “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” , “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” , “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”
  • Disturbing the peace of civillians: “‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty . . .”
  • Sneak Attacks – Muhammad (saw) mandated that 4 months notice be given before an attack.
  • Any violence that is not absolutely essential to one’s survival; ““Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” , “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”
  • Cutting off water to an enemy population
  • Depriving them of food by destroying crops/livestock; “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town…”
  • Mistreatment of the enemy’s body while living (torture) or dead (mutilation)

CLEARLY – Terrorist attacks of any kind, including the atrocious massacre in Kenya, goes directly opposed to all muslim teachings; including and especially laws governing war because the terrorists:

  • Killed innocent men, women, the old and children and
  • Did so in an unprovoked sneak attack that
  • Disturbed free passage of the streets for the purpose of
  • Attacking people for not being muslims to make non-muslims fear for their lives because
  • They were filled with hate so strong it prevented them from being just and righteous human beings

Obviously, many religions do not have any rules regarding warfare, so as stated above the arguments made by other extremists are intellectual, rather than having the ability to point to scriptural mentions of war. However, these laws regarding warfare lead to many lives being saved and the reputation of the Muslim army as good and honorable in its time. For example, when the Christian armies took Jerusalem during the Crusades, they murdered every muslim or jewish man, woman and child in the city. Despite this fact, when the Muslims came to re-conquer the city, Saladin allowed even the surrendered soldiers to leave peacfully with their families, despite the earlier massacre, and allowed christians and jews to visit the city for pilgrimage. Despite their claims to the contrary – today’s Mujihadeen are nothing like the early Islamic warriors.

Finally; The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.

The actions of the extremists on rampage killings in Kenya are no more loved by us Muslims than any of the school, temple, workplace, mall, parking lot, or movie theater mass shootings are loved by Americans, and we condemn and despise them for their actions every bit as much as you do.

Asalaamu Alaykum!

The doctrinal differences in belief systems in this context is irrelevant. Neither Christianity nor Islam is practiced perfectly by imperfect people. But hearing a declaration of this nature from a practicing Muslim goes a long way toward reassuring me that Islam is a religion of peace, at least with respect to their non-Muslim neighbors, and those who are guilty of extremist violence are defiling the very faith they claim to honor.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Islam: It’s not what you think (and yes, it is)

I’m not a Muslim, so from the outset I admit it’s unfair of me to even attempt any real assessment of the faith. However, I live (as do we all) in a world that is awash in Islamic issues and Islamic news stories and Islamic internecine conflicts and Islamic soul-searching.

Just today I came across two articles which I thought were intriguing and revelatory.

The Trouble Within Islam

The first, by the honorable Tony Blair [1], points out, legitimately, that there is a problem within Islam that it would be folly to ignore. This is, as the body of the article goes on to explain, is entirely different than claiming that there is a problem with Islam, as so many inflammatory websites and news pieces would have the world believe. It has become de rigeur in some circles to label any criticism of Islam as racist, or “Islamophobic;” nothing could be farther from the truth.


If there is a problem with any ideology that threatens the peace and harmony of people and cultures which touch it, it must be subject to the closest of scrutiny and be willing to succeed or fail on its own merits. We are seeing this today, particularly in the USA where I live, as the humanist community shines the light of reason on the follies and excesses of religions, but particularly Christianity. If the institution has merit, it will endure. If it does not, ultimately it must re-invent itself or fall.

So yes, I agree – and have felt this way for a long time, particularly since the horrors of September 11th – there is a problem within Islam. However, as the second article illustrates, Islam is not what the slavering haters would have us believe.

Global Muslim Delegation Issues Unprecedented Statement Against Anti-Semitism

I have long called for the Islamic mainstream to stand up and shout their outrage about the rot that festers within their own community, much in the same way that mainstream Christians decry the brutal ignorance of the Westboro Baptist Church, and these brave people are doing just that. I laud them for their courage and humanity.

I’ve traveled much in the world, and spent a fair piece of time in Islamic countries. Islam is as varied as every single one of its practitioners, and as a result it’s an exercise in futility and unfairness for either outsider or insider to state unequivocally, “Islam is…”; but recognizing both that there are problems within the community that need to be addressed, and that there are people within the community who are making an effort to do so, are affirming and encouraging – at least to my way of thinking.

As humanity scrabbles its way out of the mud and continues to take baby steps towards the stars, it behooves us all to act as though we are living in a world that works for everyone, even if such a dream is still beyond our grasp.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

[1] Whether you think Mr. Blair is honorable is up to you. I know that during his tenure in office, he was probably as universally reviled as George W. Bush, with whom he collaborated with regards to the Middle East. History will judge; for myself, I respect the man and his efforts.

A Little Girl Called me a Terrorist

Ela has asked that we spread her message. I am honored to do so. Her original post is at imperfectwriting.tumblr.com

I went to the mall, and a little girl called me a terrorist.

My name is Ela.  I am seventeen years old.  I am not Muslim, but my friend told me about her friend being discriminated against for wearing a hijab.  So I decided to see the discrimination firsthand to get a better understanding of what Muslim women go through.
My friend and I pinned scarves around our heads, and then we went to the mall.  Normally, vendors try to get us to buy things and ask us to sample a snack.  Clerks usually ask us if we need help, tell us about sales, and smile at us.  Not today.  People, including vendors, clerks, and other shoppers, wouldn’t look at us.  They didn’t talk to us.  They acted like we didn’t exist.  They didn’t want to be caught staring at us, so they didn’t look at all.
And then, in one store, a girl (who looked about four years old) asked her mom if my friend and I were terrorists.  She wasn’t trying to be mean or anything.  I don’t even think she could have grasped the idea of prejudice.  However, her mother’s response is one I can never forgive or forget.  The mother hushed her child, glared at me, and then took her daughter by the hand and led her out of the store.
All that because I put a scarf on my head.  Just like that, a mother taught her little girl that being Muslim was evil.  It didn’t matter that I was a nice person.  All that mattered was that I looked different.  That little girl may grow up and teach her children the same thing.
This experiment gave me a huge wakeup call.  It lasted for only a few hours, so I can’t even begin to imagine how much prejudice Muslim girls go through every day.  It reminded me of something that many people know but rarely remember: the women in hijabs are people, just like all those women out there who aren’t Muslim.
 Please help me spread this message.  Treat Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, Taoists, etc., exactly the way you want to be treated, regardless of what they’re wearing or not wearing, no exceptions.  I don’t know that the world will ever totally wipe out prejudice, but we can try, one blog at a time.

As I quoted in my post about John Howard Griffin, as a black man Griffin recorded experiences that were hauntingly mirrored by Ela’s words: “I got off and began walking along Canal Street in the heart of town… I passed the same taverns and amusement places where the hawkers had solicited me on previous evenings. They were busy, urging the white men to come in and see the girls. The same smells of smoke and liquor and dampness poured out through half-open doors. Tonight they did not solicit me. Tonight they looked at me but did not see me.” (From Black Like Me).

Ela said, “The mother hushed her child, glared at me, and then took her daughter by the hand and led her out of the store.” She had experienced her own version of “the hate stare.”

Ela said, “It didn’t matter that I was a nice person.  All that mattered was that I looked different.” Griffin reported that he discussed his project with the FBI before beginning. He asked them, “Do you suppose they will treat me as John Howard Griffin, regardless of my color – or will they treat me as some nameless Negro, even though I am still the same name?” The response: “You’re not serious, one of them said. “They’re not going to ask you any questions. As soon as they see you, you’ll be a Negro and that’s all they’ll ever want to know about you.”

50 years later, and we have made so little progress. Huge honor to Ela for taking her own journey into a different culture and bringing to light the prejudices and fears that still plague us.

The Old Wolf has spoken.