Nouman Ali Khan of the Bayyinah Institute appeals to the Quran, the behavior of the Prophet Muhammad, and common sense in upbraiding the violent believers for letting Islamophobes get their goat and provoking them to actions that detract from the reputation of Muslims and Islam.4 Retweet 55 Share 170 Google +1 1 StumbleUpon 2 Printer Friendly Send via email
Posted on 09/18/2012 by Juan Cole
Posted on 07/24/2012 by Juan Cole
Doug Saunders writes in a guest column for Informed Comment:
The Three Myths About Muslims That Have Poisoned American Politics
The attacks on two of the most prominent Muslims in American public life last week seemed to have come out of the blue. It appeared as if five Republican Representatives had arbitrarily chosen this moment to lash out at Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and Representative Keith Ellison for no reason other than their religion, in a bid to discredit the entire concept of Muslims taking part in national politics and government.
A sequence of letters and public denunciations, led by Rep. Michele Bachman and backed by four other Representatives, accused the two of being somehow indirectly affiliated with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The charges were so devoid of substance that senior Republican leaders and many members of Congress were quick to condemn them as bizarre and inappropriate. Still, even though they came from a marginal corner of Congress (albeit one representing millions of Americans), the language of the attacks was drawn from an increasingly mainstream set of claims about Muslims in the West. The letters from the Representatives argued that Muslims in the U.S. government are part of a wide plot involving numerous ordinary Muslim-Americans to "impose shariah worldwide," to "undermine the U.S. Constitution," and to advocate "that Muslims not integrate into the cultures of non-Muslim countries." For a surprising number of Americans, these phrases represent commonsense thought about the Muslims in their midst.
These myths are strikingly similar to the set of charges that were commonly directed toward Roman Catholic and East European Jewish immigrants between the 1890s and the 1960s – that these groups are disloyal, supportive of violence, unwilling to integrate into Western values, driven by a religion that is actually an ideology of conquest, and poised to swamp our society through high reproduction rates. The people who hold these ideas, then as now, are not simply racists or xenophobes but often liberals who have come to believe – - based on misleading or distorted information – - that religious-minority outsiders are a threat to their freedoms and liberties.
In the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, these ideas came to be applied to Muslims in the West in a sequence of bestselling books, YouTube videos, websites, op-eds and activist campaigns organized by a small circle of anti-immigration authors and activists, increasingly often with funding from conservative foundations. The notion of a "Muslim tide" penetrated the American imagination. The millions of people who bought their books and watched their videos may not have subscribed to the movement’s full idea of an Islamic plot to take over Western civilization through immigration. In many cases they were simply trying to understand the different and sometimes strange-looking newcomers in their midst, and the simultaneous emergence of Islamic terrorism – - but the effect has been to popularize an interlocking set of myths about Muslim immigration.
In my book The Myth of the Muslim Tide, I explain the history of these ideas and trace their emergence in twenty-first century popular and political thought, and provide a detailed, research-based examination of the realities behind them. Luckily, the past five years have seen a number of very large-scale international studies and surveys that have revolutionized our understanding of the beliefs, views, behaviours and loyalties of Muslim immigrants and their offspring. What emerges is a picture of a set of communities undergoing the classic experience of immigration and integration – - with the same difficulties and challenges experienced by poor Catholics and Jews in their time – but burdened with a set of popular myths that are leading them increasingly to be rejected and marginalized by the wider population.
I have identified three nested groups of myths that together have created a widespread misunderstanding of Muslims in the West and poisoned our political environment.
1. The Myth of Extremism
Core to the “Muslim tide” ideology is the belief that the jihadist terror attacks of the past decade are the result of the immigration of Muslims to the countries of Europe and North America. It has become popular to believe that violent jihad is simply an extension – - or perhaps the essence – - of ordinary Islamic belief. “It’s not merely that there’s a global jihad lurking within this religion,” the popular “Muslim tide” author Mark Steyn wrote in a typical passage, “but that the religion itself is a political project – - and in fact an imperial project.”
Is Islamic extremism simply a more explicit extension of ordinary Islamic belief? Is it cheered, even if not actively supported, by Muslims throughout the West?
Our belief that Western Muslims are cheering terrorism is often based on a few misleading statistics. True, one survey showed that 7 per cent of U.S. Muslims feel that acts of violence against civilian targets are “sometimes justified” and an additional 1 per cent feel they are “often justified.” That’s a chilling figure, until you learn that, in the same survey, 24 per cent of non-Muslim Americans said that such attacks are “sometimes justified” and 6 per cent feel they are “always justified.”
In fact, numerous other studies show that support for violence, death penalties and “honour” killings among Western Muslims is usually similar to, and sometimes lower than, that of the general population. And support for figures such as Osama bin Laden has dwindled to the point of being barely above the levels in the general population.
It’s the same when it comes to support for sharia law (which is simply the Islamic name for religious law, as with the Ten Commandments received by Moses and also used in Jewish and Christian holy law). In the United States, Gallup found that 46 per cent of citizens say they believe scripture should be “a source” of laws, while another 9 per cent feel it should be “the only source” of law – - numbers that don’t differ much between Christians and Muslims – - and other studies show that Muslims in the United States and their community leaders have no measurable desire or ambition to make this reality. In France, where people are more secular, studies show that three-quarters of Muslims are actively opposed to sharia, almost half of them support the ban on headscarves in schools, and their rates of atheism and non-attendance of weekly prayers is about the same as that among Catholics. In other words, Muslims tend to adjust quickly to the level of religious observance around them.
mso-ansi-language:EN-CA’>But what about the terrorists themselves? There have been a number of major studies of their beliefs and motives in recent years, and what is clear is that almost none of them are motivated by religious faith or a desire to impose their beliefs on the world around them. Quite the contrary: it has repeatedly been shown that more religious Muslims are the least inclined to terrorism, and that those drawn to extremism are propelled by political, territorial and very often personal motives unrelated to faith. Not only that, but those Muslims who are living in tight-knit, religious-conservative communities and Islamic “ghettoes” are the least likely to go into political extremism or terrorism: Extremism tends be the preserve or fairly wealthy, educated Muslims who are isolated from other Muslims in relatively well-off neighborhoods. It’s not the “Muslim tide” that is creating extremism, but rather the political beliefs of a few middle-class loners.
Indeed, a large-scale new study conducted by a group of U.S. researchers who examined the Koran passages quoted by 2,000 Islamic terrorists and supporters found no suggestion that any of them want to convert the West to Islam – - rather, their messages are of a nationalistic nature, based on preserving the separation of Islamic and non-Islamic worlds. It’s no coincidence that “Muslim tide” figures such as Thilo Sarrazin in Germany and Christopher Caldwell in the United States express admiration for the “civilizational strength” of Muslim fundamentalist believers: They share the same core belief in independent and divergent civilizations.
2 – The myth of non-integration
Underlying the belief that every Western Muslim is a potential terrorist is the larger idea that Muslim immigrants and their offspring are opposed to Western values and lifestyles and are seeking non-integrated “parallel societies.”
In terms of loyalties, Muslim immigrants express levels of support for their new countries that are similar – - and often higher – - than those of the native-born population. Yes, almost half of all American Muslims say they feel “Muslim first and American second” and 69% say religion is “very important in their lives.” But that’s almost exactly the same as with American Christians, 46% of whom see themselves as “Christian first and American second” and 70% say religion is very important in their lives.
All data point to Muslim immigrants and their children integrating into their surrounding societies as fast as, and sometimes faster than, the poor Catholics and Jews of the last century. In education, Muslims are leaders: 40% of American Muslims have earned a post-secondary degree, making them the second most educated religious group after Jews (61%) and far ahead of average Americans (29%).
In political beliefs, Muslims differ little: an impressive 62% of American Muslims say that Israel and Palestine can be reconciled, a rate nearly identical to the larger American population (67%). And even on heated issues of gender and sexuality, Muslims are becoming notably integrated: In the U.S., 90% of Muslims say women should be allowed to work outside the home, and 7 our of 10 say there is no difference between male and female politicians – - views little different from those of Americans in general. And 39% of U.S. Muslims (and 41% of those born in America) said in 2009 that homosexuality should be accepted – - lower than the 58% acceptance rate among Americans in general, but considerably higher than the 27% response given by U.S. Muslims four years earlier. In other words, they are falling into the patterns of mainstream American belief at an astonishingly rapid rate. These are not the patterns of a self-isolating “parallel society,” but of people struggling to become as American as the people around them.
3. – The myth of population
Wrapped around these images of violence and separatism is a gnawing sense that the Muslims are arriving in droves and will soon outnumber the rest of us. Even people who don’t subscribe to the notion of “stealth sharia” and theological conquest tend to believe that Muslims have inherently larger family sizes and therefore are poised – - perhaps deliberately – - to become majorities in European countries and American states, if not everywhere. Every author of “Muslim tide” literature expresses this idea in more or less dramatic form, and it is probably the reason why this movement has quickly become so popular.
Yet this is the most misleading myth of them all. Muslim family sizes and population growth rates are falling faster than among any other population in the world. Even in the most religious Islamic countries, family sizes are fast falling below the population-growth rate of 2.1 children per family. In Iran, where the average number had 7 children in the 1980s, it has fallen to 1.7 – - lower than in France. In Turkey, it is 2.1 children; in Lebanon, 1.9; in Tunisia, 2.0; in Indonesia, 2.19 and falling fast. Bosnian Muslims, at the heart of so many of the “Eurabia” theories of population takeover, have 1.23 children per family – - the very lowest rate in Europe.
What happens when they emigrate? Some observers have noted that Muslims have larger families when they immigrate to the West than they did in their home countries, fuelling theories of conquest by reproduction. Yet these are misleading: Because immigrants have most of their children within a few years of arrival, their official fertility rates are skewed unnaturally high. And Muslim immigrants overwhelmingly tend to come from rural regions, leading to higher family sizes than their originating country’s general population.
There have been a number of very large-scale projections of Muslim populations conducted by respected organizations over the past few years. All of them show that the population-growth rate among Muslim immigrants and their offspring is falling extremely fast in every Western country, and is poised to converge with the native-born fertility rates by mid-century.
In the United States, Muslims tend to be very new immigrants – 63% of them were born in another country, and 71% of those immigrants arrived after 1990 – - so they have a comparatively high population-growth rate. In 20 years, there will be 6.3 million Muslims in the United States, making them, at 1.7% of the population, almost as numerous ad Jews and Episcopalians. American Muslims currently have 2.5 children per family, higher than the U.S. average of 2.1. But that rate is falling, so that their population in 20 years is likely to be close to a peak: The children of these immigrants appear to be having about the same number of children that average Americans do.
Declining family sizes are a clear indicator of social, economic and educational integration: When people are adopting a host society’s values, their family sizes converge, and their use of birth control increases. This is demonstrably happening throughout the West.
Whatever problems are plaguing Muslim communities – - and they are numerous – - a secret desire to impose an alien religion upon an uncomprehending West is not one of them. The Muslims in our midst are following a path taken by millions of religious minorities who have arrived, adjusted, struggled against popular myths, and become integral parts of our societies. A simple examination of the facts shows this to be the case. We just have to take the time to look.
Doug Saunders is the European bureau chief of The Globe and Mail. He is the author of Arrival City, which won or was a finalist for several prizes and was published in eight languages around the world. His most recent book is The Myth of the Muslim Tide (New York: Vintage, 2012)
Posted on 06/27/2012 by Juan Cole
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Posted on 05/14/2012 by Juan Cole
The Pentagon brass are condemning a course on Islam taught at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., which mischaracterized mainstream Muslim persons and organizations as radical, violent extremists, and called for treating the Muslim civilian populations the way the Japanese at Hiroshima were treated. Those who took the class were encouraged to think of themselves as a ‘resistance movement to Islam.’ A review has been ordered of that class and of hundreds of others taught within the Department of Defense.
Note that there are 1.5 billion Muslims and only 310 million Americans, and Muslim countries like Turkey and Indonesia are now in the G20, so this is not a fight you’d want to pick with the Muslim mainstream.
Spencer Ackerman of the Wired War Room reported on the course and also shared some of its powerpoint slides on line.
Aljazeera English also received material and broadcast on the controversy:
What is odd is that the US military is deeply dependent on Muslim allies, and Muslim officers train all the time at places like Ft. Bragg, where I have met them. That is, American officers and Muslim ones are most often colleagues and do a lot of things together. How could they sit there and listen to Lt Col Matthew Dooley’s bull crap?
In my experience, the US officer corps is made up largely of very bright people and most of them are well informed, about the Muslim world and many other subjects. I’ve had the privilege of addressing them myself at think tank events in Washington DC on subjects such as al-Qaeda’s recruitment videos and the fringe groups’ ideas about cosmic war. But since there are lapses in any organization, here are some helpful suggestions to the military about courses on Islam:
1. Such courses should be taught by people with academic credentials in the study of Islam. Many officers do a Master’s degree in Middle East studies at major universities (I’ve taught them at Michigan). They have the training to teach. But why not also bring in civilian university teachers with Ph.D.s from good universities?
2. Bringing in the Imam of the local mosque, or better, doing a field trip to a mosque, should be an essential part of such a course. Meeting living breathing American Muslims is necessary if Americans are to understand Islam.
3. Some bigot who happens to have been stationed somewhere in the Muslim world, has read Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes and Brad Thor fiction, and has a lot of crazy ideas is not a proper teacher of such a course.
4. The less our officer corps sounds like Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, the better.
5. Deliberately killing civilians is a war crime. Officers who openly advocate such a course of action should be cashiered.
6. The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt now has the largest number of seats in parliament in Egypt. It is not an extremist, violent organization, and US political relations with Egypt now depend on Washington getting up to speed in understanding it. A kindred group, the Nahdah or Renaissance Party, has the prime ministership in Tunisia. Officers who provoke international incidents with foreign governments by making false allegations against their parliaments should be drummed out of the service.
7. If you can’t say it about Jews or Catholics, you can’t say it about Muslims.
8. The one thing that would guarantee a century-long war of religions and massive terrorism against the United States would be for it to bomb Mecca. Why Muslim-haters are fixated on this tactic baffles me. Would Christianity disappear or be weakened if someone nuked the Church of the Nativity? Sunni Muslims don’t have a pope-like figure or a central bureaucracy, and neither is at Mecca. It is just a place they visit on pilgrimage. The Kaaba or cube-shaped building that they walk around has been destroyed many times by flash floods and they have just rebuilt it. By destroying it, you’d just enrage them (the very threat enrages them) and provoke them to revenge on the US, without weakening them in any way.
9. If intelligent officers sit through a course in which the teacher seems to be a maniac and says hateful and implausible things, they should, like, object.
10. The Iraq War is over. The Afghanistan War is winding down. The US military is unlikely to be fighting ground wars against Sunni Muslims in the next decade. Turkey is a NATO ally that the US is sworn to defend from attackers. Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Pakistan, Bahrain and Afghanistan are non-NATO allies of the United States. An officer advocating war on mainstream Muslims is making policy that only a president and a Congress can make. He should be drummed out of the service.1 Retweet 97 Share 86 Google +1 4 StumbleUpon 7 Printer Friendly Send via email
Posted on 05/07/2012 by Juan Cole
The bad economy in France and outgoing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s refusal to do a stimulus program, preferring instead “austerity,” were the primary reasons he lost the election to Socialist Francois Hollande. That and Sarkozy really is an annoying, strutting peacock who wore out his political welcome among voters.
But some of the margin of his defeat came from his pandering to the discourse of the French anti-immigrant far right, which he did especially vocally after he was forced into a run-off against Hollande. Sarkozy said there are too many “foreigners” (he meant immigrants) in France, that police should have greater leeway to shoot fleeing suspects, that the far right are upstanding citizens. He even talked about “people who look Muslim.”
Many observers in France argue that Sarkozy stole so many lines from the soft-fascist National Front of Marine LePen that he mainstreamed it, and made it impossible for the Gaullists of the Union for a Popular Movement (Sarkozy’s party, French acronym UMP) to argue that LePen and her followers should be kept out of national government because they were too extreme. (The irony is that Sarkozy himself is the son of a Hungarian father and his mother was mixed French Catholic and Greek Jewish; and he postured as Ur-French!)
Sarkozy tried to depict the French Left as so woolly-headed and multi-cultural that they were coddling and even fostering the rise of a threatening French Muslim fundamentalism that menaced secular, republican values. The infamous daily hour set aside by the mayor at a swimming pool in Lille for a few years for Muslim women to swim without men present was presented as emblematic of this threat. But it was all polemics. Some Gaullist mayors did the same thing, and for longer.
And, Sarkozy showed much less dedication to Third-Republic-style militant secularism than most Socialists (only 10 percent of the French go to mass regularly and almost all vote for Sarkozy’s UMP, so the Catholic religious right is his constituency). But, he did support the Swiss ban on minarets and he banned public Muslim prayer in France, and the wearing of the burqa’ full veil (popular mainly in the Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and worn by like 4 women in France aside from wealthy wives of emirs in France on shopping sprees).
Sarkozy’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and punitive laws in the end drove centrist Francois Bayrou to repudiate him. Bayrou, leader of the Democratic Movement party, had run for president on a platform of reducing the national debt and reining in public spending, and was more center-right than center. He got about 9% of the votes in the first round of the presidential election.
Late last week, Bayrou made the astonishing announcement that Sarkozy’s obsession with “frontiers” just seemed to him a betrayal of French values, and that he was throwing his support to Hollande. Sarkozy’s political platform, he thundered, “is violent” and is “in contradiction with our values, but also those of Gaullism [the mainstream French right] as well as contradicting the values of the republican and social Right.” I am not and never will be, he said, a man of the left. He said he was sure he would be upbraiding Hollande for his spendthrift ways. But on the issue of republican values, he had to back Hollande.
Although he left them free to vote for whomever they liked, Bayrou threw about a third of his centrists’ vote to Hollande, or roughly 3% of those who went to the polls in the first round. Hollande won this round by 4%.
Only about a third of France’s roughly 4.5 million persons of Muslim descent (mainly North and West Africans) identify as Muslims. Only about 10 percent of Muslims are said to vote. So French Muslims are not flexing their electoral muscles yet in a meaningful way. Probably many more secular French voted against Sarkozy because of his odious language about immigrants than did Muslim-heritage French, in absolute numbers.
Sarkozy, by embracing the noxious language of hatred of immigrants and fear-mongering about secular Socialists spreading Muslim theocracy in the villages of France, failed to convince the hard right to vote for him but managed to alienate the center. Even MPs in his own party began speaking out against his having gone too far.
Of course, the kind of violent, anti-immigrant, and Muslim-hating language Sarkozy used is par for the course in the GOP in the US today. But aside from some Libertarians such as Ron Paul, where are the mainstream centrist Republicans who will openly denounce it? Who among Republicans recognizes that the sorts of things Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney say about a monolithic Muslim Caliphate menace are violent and contradictory to the values of the American Republic. Not to mention the things many of them say about Latino immigrants. Where is our Francois Bayrou?0 Retweet 94 Share 57 Google +1 2 StumbleUpon 1 Printer Friendly Send via email
Posted on 03/30/2012 by Juan Cole
John Feffer writes in Tomdispatch.com
Creating the Muslim Manchurian Candidate
The Right Wing’s Election-Year Islamophobia
By John Feffer
Those who fervently believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim generally practice their furtive religion in obscure recesses of the Internet. Once in a while, they’ll surface in public to remind the news media that no amount of evidence can undermine their convictions.
In October 2008, at a town hall meeting in Minnesota for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a woman called Obama “an Arab.” McCain responded, incongruously enough, that Obama was, in fact, “a decent family man” and not an Arab at all. In an echo of this, a woman recently stood up at a town hall in Florida and began a question for Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum by asserting that the president “is an avowed Muslim.” The audience cheered, and Santorum didn’t bother to correct her.
Though they belong to a largely underground cult, the members of the Obama-is-Muslim congregation number as many as one third of all Republicans. A recent poll found that only 14% percent of Republicans in Alabama and Mississippi believe that the president is Christian.
These true believers treat their scraps of evidence like holy relics: the president’s middle name, his grandfather’s religion, a widely circulated photo of Obama in a turban. They occasionally traffic in outright fabrications: that he attended a radical madrasa in Indonesia as a child or that he put his hand on the Qur’an to be sworn in as president. An even more apocalyptic subset believes Obama to be nothing short of the anti-Christ.
By and large, however, this cult doesn’t attract mainstream support from the larger church of Obama haters. Indeed, these more orthodox faithful have carefully shifted the debate from Obama being Muslim to Obama acting Muslim. Evangelical pundits, presidential candidates, and the right-wing media have all ramped up their attacks on the president for, as Baptist preacher Franklin Graham put it recently on MSNBC, “giving Islam a pass.”
The conservative mainstream still calls the president’s religious beliefs into question, but they stop just short of accusing him of apostasy and concealment. What they consider safe is the assertion that Obama is acting as if he were Muslim. In this way, Republican mandarins are cleverly channeling a conspiracy theory into a policy position.
There is a whiff of desperation in all this. After all, it’s not an easy time for the GOP. The economy shows modest signs of improvement. The Republican presidential candidates are still engaged in a fratricidal primary. By expanding counterterrorism operations and killing Osama bin Laden, the president has effectively removed national security from the list of Republican talking points.
One story, however, still ties together so many narrative threads for conservatives. Charges that the president is a socialist or a Nazi or an elitist supporter of college education certainly push some buttons. But the single surefire way of grabbing the attention of the media and the public — as well as appealing to the instincts of the Republican base — is to assert, however indirectly, that Barack Obama is a Manchurian candidate sent from the Islamic world.
Obama and the Muslim World
A succession of Republican candidates have attempted to run to the right of party favorite Mitt Romney by asserting that only a true conservative can defeat Obama in November. Most of them boasted of the same powerful backer. Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum all declared that God asked them to run for higher office. Together with Newt Gingrich, they have deployed various methods of appealing to their constituencies, but none is more potent than religion.
Rick Santorum, a Catholic and the favorite of the evangelical community, has been particularly adept at using his soapbox as a pulpit. The president subscribes to a “phony theology,” Santorum has claimed, “not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.” Although he occasionally asserts that “Obama’s personal faith is none of my concern,” he nonetheless speaks of the president’s attempt to “impose values on people of faith”– implying that the president is certainly no member of that community.
Posted on 03/21/2012 by Juan Cole
It turns out that from a hard-right American evangelical point of view, the US public may have a choice between two Muslims, or two ‘may as well be Muslims’ for president this fall.
Dr. Richard Land, a major leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has told Newsmax that Mitt Romney’s Mormonism is not an orthodox form of Christianity and is “charitably speaking” an Abrahamic religion like Islam He compared Mormon prophet Joseph Smith to the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and the Book of Mormon to the Qur’an. He says that the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon both are built against a biblical background but go beyond and contradict the Bible.
He underlined that the fact that someone is not a professing Christian (sliding over from Mormons not being orthodox Christians to not being Christians at all) should not disqualify him from running for president. He quotes Martin Luther that “I would rather be governed by a competent Turk [i.e. Muslim] than an incompetent Christian.”
[Everything Land says earlier about Ahmadinejad, Iran and Israel is factually incorrect by the way.]
Ironically, Land’s quotation of Luther, which is historically without any basis in fact, actually points to another analogy that Protestant leaders once made, between Islam and Roman Catholicism. Throughout history, evangelicals have used Islam to represent “the other.” Now it is Mormonism, but once it was the papacy.
The rumor that Luther felt this way about accepting Muslim rule was actually promulgated by Leo X. George W. Forell, “Luther and the War against the Turks,” Church History, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Dec., 1945), pp. 256-271, explained,
“It was at that time that Luther published his first major statement in regard to the Turkish danger. It appeared in 1529 under the title On War against the Turk, and was written to counteract the prevalent opinion that Luther considered the war against the Turks a war against God. This impression of Luther’s position had been fostered by the notorious papal bull, Exsurge Domine, in which Pope Leo X had condemned Luther’s theses as heretical. In his fifth thesis Luther had said that the pope cannot remit any other punishments than those which he or canon law had imposed. He had claimed that the pope cannot remit God’s punishments. And in his defense of the ninety-five theses of 1518 he had tried to make his point even more emphatic and had added that if the pope was as well able to remit divine punishment as he claimed, he should stop the advance of the Turk. Luther said that he must indeed be a poor Christian who does not know that the Turks are a punishment from God, and invited the pope to stop that punishment.
The pope had countered by condemning as heretical the following sentence of Luther: “To fight against the Turks is to fight against God’s visitation upon our iniquities.” In this misleading form, Luther’s attitude toward the war against the Turks had been widely publicised. This had given the general impression that Luther considered a war against the Turks sinful and preferred the rule of the Turks to the rule of the emperor.
Luther had to answer this accusation. He did that in a detailed reassertion of all the articles condemned by Leo X. In regard to the Turks he said that unless the pope were put in his place, all attempts to defeat the Turks would prove futile. The wrath of the Lord would continue to be upon all Christendom as long as Christian nations continued to honor those most Turkish of all Turks, even the Romanists.
But this answer merely showed that Luther’s pronouncements in regard to the Turks were not a defense of the Turks but an attack against the pope.”
Actually, Luther believed that Muslims were being allowed to advance into Central Europe in the 1500s as a punishment on European Christians for being Roman Catholics. He understood that Muslims often lived moral lives and had mystics among them, but considered them ‘saints of the devil.’ He saw both the pope and Islam as ‘anti-Christs’. Forell explained,
‘Luther’s identification of the Turk with the Antichrist sounds confusing in view of his frequent claims that it is the pope in Rome who is the real Antichrist. But for Luther two Antichrists presented no problem. He said, “The person of the Antichrist is at the same time the pope and the Turk. Every person consists of a body and a soul. So the spirit of the Antichrist is the pope, his flesh is the Turk. The one has infested the Church spiritually, the other bodily. However, both come from the same Lord, even the devil.” ‘
Luther rejected the idea of a crusade or a religious war as blasphemous. Human beings are too sinful to wage war in the name of a holy cause. But he did believe that Germans had a civil obligation to fight the Ottoman advance to defend their homes. The idea that he would have accepted an Ottoman ruler is absurd.
Yet another irony is that the Ottoman Empire was interested in Protestantism as a way of dividing and ruling Christian lands, and perhaps they knew enough of it to know its leaders often rejected holy war against the Ottomans or even that some had pacifist tendencies. They also viewed it as closer to an Islamic sensibility. Ultimately Protestantism in eastern Europe sometimes benefited from Ottoman protection. Luther himself was aware of this tendency, and rejected it. Forell:
‘a little episode reported in the Table Talk. At one time Luther was informed by a member of an imperial mission to the Turkish Sultan that Suleiman had been very much interested in Luther and his movement and had asked the ambassadors Luther’s age. When they had told him that Luther was forty-eight years old, he had said, “I wish he were even younger; he would find in me a gracious protector.” But hearing that report, Luther, not being a realistic politician, made the sign of the cross and said, “May God protect me from such a gracious protector.” ‘
Land’s position is therefore actually much more tolerant and admirable than that of Luther himself, insofar as he says, at least, that he would accept a non-Muslim president and he lacks Luther’s animus toward Roman Catholicism. But in likening Mormonism to Islam (to the detriment of both in his own mind), Land is deploying the same intellectual gesture, of amalgamating the internal Christian Other to the external Muslim Other, that Luther engaged in. And while Land believes that evangelicals will in the end prefer Romney to Obama, so far they are not voting that way, and they may well stay home on election day. What with having only Muslim or Muslim-like choices.0 Retweet 13 Share 8 Google +1 0 StumbleUpon 0 Printer Friendly Send via email