Pot and Partying: Top Ten Signs the Tsarnaev Brothers Weren’t Pious Muslims

Recent press revelations have confirmed my initial suggestion that members of the Tsarnaev family were secular ex-Soviets rather than observant Muslims Only a few years ago did the late Tamerlan start exhibiting signs of fanaticism (he was thrown out of his mosque in Boston last January when he stood up to denounce the preacher there for praising Martin Luther King). Being a fanatic is, contrary to the impression both of Fox Cable News and some Muslim radicals, not actually the same as being a good Muslim; in fact, the Qur’an urges the use of reason and moderation ( “Do not commit excess in your religion” (Qur’an 4:171). All this shows that they were on an adolescent homocidal power trip, dressed up like al-Qaeda, the way the Aurora shooter was wearing an arsenal and dressed up like Batman. In any case, here are the signs that Dzhokhar in particular wasn’t ever observant, and Tamerlan’s later fanaticism led him and his brother to disregard Islamic ethics and laws:

1. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a pothead. Most Muslim legal authorities consider intoxicants forbidden.

2. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev not only used marijuana, he was a well-known dealer of the substance to other students. Dealing in forbidden intoxicants is contrary to Islamic law.

3. “Drinking and partying” filled the days of the Tsarnaev brothers according to friends, though the late Tamerlan turned puritanical later on.

4. The Tsarnaev brothers carjacked an innocent Chinese-American. This is called theft and kidnapping, which are both forbidden in Islamic law. In fact is is a complaint of modernists against Islamic law that it is so hard on theft. It was in hopes of stealing a gun, another theft, that they murdered police officer Sean Collins. Murder is forbidden in the Qur’an which says that to kill a single soul is the same as killing all humankind.

5. While they were driving around with their Chinese captive, they were discussing with him girls . Upright young Muslim men are supposed to have their minds on other things than girls.

6. Spreading terror (hiraba in public spaces in order to gain power or money is forbidden in Islam.

7. Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived on government welfare even though he had turned on that government. Even very conservative Saudi clerical authorities hold that is not permissible for Muslims to take wealth from non-Muslims under false pretenses: “Taking wealth from non-Muslims in treacherous and deceitful ways is haram (impermissible), because deceit is haram [wrong] in Islam, whether it is done to a Muslim or to a non-Muslim.”

8. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev when he was naturalized pledged allegiance to the United States of America, saying “I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . .” All but the most radical Muslim authorities agree that Muslims owe allegiance to their countries and are obliged to defend them. The Qur’an, 61:2-3 says of breaking an oath, “O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of God that you say what you do not do.”

9. Islam strictly forbids murder.

10. They blew innocent men women and children up! Which is against all Islamic law and practice.

36 Responses

  1. If we are ever to get along, we must seek the good in each other…and our faith paths. The problem is fanaticism which comes out of thinking only we have the RIGHT answers. I have come to see God as bigger than Judaism, Islam OR Christianity…and I am learning I have much in common with my reasonable, good-hearted brothers and sisters in other faith paths.

  2. All probably true, but unfortunately what remains in public conscience is the fact that they are Muslim.
    It is very vexing when individuals make stupid moves that serve nothing but mar a fifth of the world’s population and make their lives harder, especially where they are minorities.

  3. There is little value in asking “were they good Muslims” in situations such as this. They were terrorists and they were insurgents, that seems clear. They fought for a cause. That cause was not primarily about religion.

    Yes, the religious divide corresponds closely with the dividing line of this struggle. The real battle is the Middle East (of course mostly Moslem) throwing off the West (of course mostly America and mostly Christian). How many Moslem armies occupy Christian states? How many Moslem military bases are there in Christian countries? How many Christian rulers are propped up by Moslem powers?

    Do we ask if a US soldier was a good Christian when he kills some insurgent in Afghanistan? That Afghan was fighting for his country against foreign invaders. Let us stop examining their fealty to their religion if we are not also willing to apply the same standards to ourselves.

    Pointing out that they were “bad Moslems” does little to aid understanding. It will certainly not make them stop. We should focus on the real issues.

    • You made a good point, but Juan here is desperately trying to counter the poisoning mainstream media, who magnify the facts, and distort the truth.
      Juan is not a Muslim, but he’s very close to many of them, and I believe is has a good experience within the Muslim world, and he’s willing to share it with rest of us.
      And, once again, you’re comment is well-balanced and sound.

    • The mainstream media doesn’t work in isolation, it’s part of a very intricate system, without witch they won’t survive. They wouldn’t alienate themselves by stating the obvious. They are just a bunch of whore-journalists hired to entertain the masses with over-processed news.

  4. #1,3,5: Did not the 9/11 hijackers spend much time in strip clubs, and other things like that?

    #6,9,10: 9/11 hijackers, London tube bombers, Spanish train bombers….


    Are Muslims permitted to lie?

    Summary Answer:

    Muslim scholars teach that Muslims should be truthful to each other.

    There are two forms of lying to non-believers that are permitted under certain circumstances, taqiyya and kitman. One of those circumstances is to gain the trust of non-believers in order to draw out their vulnerability and defeat them.

    The Qur’an:

    Qur’an (16:106) – Establishes that there are circumstances that can “compel” a Muslim to tell a lie.

    Qur’an (3:28) – This verse tells Muslims not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to “guard themselves.”

    Qur’an (40:28) – A man is introduced as a believer, but one who must “hide his faith” among those who are not believers.

    Qur’an (2:225) – “Allah will not call you to account for thoughtlessness in your oaths, but for the intention in your hearts”

    Qur’an (66:2) – “Allah has already ordained for you, (O men), the dissolution of your oaths”

    Taken collectively these verses are interpreted to mean that there are circumstances when a Muslim may be “compelled” to deceive others for a greater purpose.

    From the Hadith:

    Bukhari (52:269) – “The Prophet said, ‘War is deceit.'” The context of this is thought to be the murder of Usayr ibn Zarim and his thirty unarmed men by Muhammad’s men after he “guaranteed” them safe passage (see Additional Notes below).

    Bukhari (49:857) – “He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar.” Lying is permitted when the end justifies the means.

    Bukhari (84:64-65) – Speaking from a position of power at the time, Ali confirms that lying is permissible in order to deceive an “enemy.”

    Bukhari (52:271) – Recounts the murder of a poet, Ka’b bin al-Ashraf, at Muhammad’s insistence. The men who volunteered for the assassination used dishonesty to gain Ka’b’s trust, pretending that they had turned against Muhammad. This drew the victim out of his fortress, whereupon he was brutally slaughtered despite putting up a ferocious struggle for his life.

    From Islamic Law:

    Reliance of the Traveler (p. 746) – “[it is] obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory… Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining the sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate… it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can only be attained through lying. But is is religiously precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression…”

    Additional Notes:

    Muslims are allowed to lie to unbelievers in order to defeat them. The two forms are:

    Taqiyya – Saying something that isn’t true.

    Kitman – Lying by omission.

    An example would be when Muslim apologists quote only a fragment of verse 5:32 (that if anyone kills “it shall be as if he had killed all mankind”) while neglecting to mention that the rest of the verse (and the next) mandate murder in undefined cases of “corruption” and “mischief.”

    Though not called Taqiyya by name, Muhammad clearly used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans that allowed him access to their city while he secretly prepared his own forces for a takeover. The unsuspecting residents were conquered in easy fashion after he broke the treaty two years later, and some of the people in the city who had trusted him at his word were executed. (See Qur’an (9:3) – (“…Allah and His Messenger are free from liability to the idolaters…”).

    Another example of lying is when Muhammad used deception to trick his personal enemies into letting down their guard and exposing themselves to slaughter by pretending to seek peace. This happened in the case of Ka’b bin al-Ashraf (as previously noted) and again later against Usayr ibn Zarim, a surviving leader of the Banu Nadir tribe, which had been evicted from their home in Medina by the Muslims.

    At the time, Usayr ibn Zarim was attempting to gather an armed force against the Muslims from among a tribe allied with the Quraish (against which Muhammad had already declared war). Muhammad’s “emissaries” went to ibn Zarim and persuaded him to leave his safe haven on the pretext of meeting with the prophet of Islam in Medina to discuss peace. Once vulnerable, the leader and his thirty companions were massacred by the Muslims with ease, belying the probability that they were mostly unarmed, having been given a guarantee of safe haven (Ibn Ishaq 981).

    Such was the reputation of Muslims for lying and then killing that even those who “accepted Islam” did not feel entirely safe. The fate of the Jadhima is tragic evidence for this. When Muslim “missionaries” approached their tribe one of the members insisted that they would be slaughtered even though they had already “converted” to Islam to avoid just such a demise. However, the others were convinced that they could trust the Muslim leader’s promise that they would not be harmed if they simply offered no resistance. (After convincing the skeptic to lay down his arms, the unarmed men of the tribe were quickly tied up and beheaded – Ibn Ishaq 834 & 837).

    Today’s Muslims often try to justify Muhammad’s murder of poets and others who criticized him at Medina by saying that they broke a treaty by their actions. Yet, these same apologists place little value on treaties broken by Muslims. From Muhammad to Saddam Hussein, promises made to non-Muslim are distinctly non-binding in the Muslim mindset.

    The 9/11 hijackers practiced deception by going into bars and drinking alcohol, thus throwing off potential suspicion that they were fundamentalists plotting jihad. This effort worked so well, in fact, that even weeks after 9/11, John Walsh, the host of a popular American television show, said that their bar trips were evidence of ‘hypocrisy.’

    The transmission from Flight 93 records the hijackers telling their doomed passengers that there is “a bomb on board” but that everyone will “be safe” as long as “their demands are met.” Obviously none of these things were true, but these men, who were so intensely devoted to Islam that they were willing to “slay and be slain for the cause of Allah” (as the Qur’an puts it) saw nothing wrong with employing Taqiyya in order to facilitate their mission of mass murder.

    The near absence of Qur’anic verse and reliable Hadith that encourage truthfulness is somewhat surprising, given that many Muslims are convinced that their religion teaches honesty. In fact, it is because of this ingrained belief that most Muslims are quite honest.

    Finally, the circumstances by which Muhammad allowed a believer to lie are limited to those that either advance the cause of Islam or enable a Muslim to avoid harm to his well-being (and presumably that of other Muslims as well). Although this should be kept very much in mind when dealing with matters of global security, such as Iran’s nuclear intentions, it is not grounds for assuming that the Muslim one might personally encounter on the street or in the workplace is any less honest than anyone else.

    • You say: “Muhammad clearly used deception when he signed a 10-year treaty with the Meccans that allowed him access to their city while he secretly prepared his own forces for a takeover. The unsuspecting residents were conquered in easy fashion after he broke the treaty two years later, and some of the people in the city who had trusted him at his word were executed”

      Since everything we know about Muhammad was written by pious Muslims, I am curious to know where you got the information mentioned above.
      where is it said that Muhammad was the one who broke the Hudeibiya Treaty?
      How many Meccans were killed when he conquered their city?

    • Unless you are a Muslim, you should not be telling the world what you believe Muslims think. As a revert Muslim, I am telling you this. Back off of it, and don’t try to analyze us.

      • “… don’t try to analyze us.”

        You might take time out to consider the words of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns: “To see ourselves as others see us.”

        “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church” is a 1786 Scots language poem by Robert Burns in his favourite meter, Standard Habbie. The poem’s theme is contained in the final verse:

        Burns original

        O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
        To see oursels as ithers see us!
        It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
        An’ foolish notion:
        What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
        An’ ev’n devotion!

        Standard English translation

        And would some Power the small gift give us
        To see ourselves as others see us!
        It would from many a blunder free us,
        And foolish notion:
        What airs in dress and gait would leave us,
        And even devotion!

  5. Juan, I think your commentary recently on the young men in Boston has lacked a nuanced engagement with religion. You have repeatedly followed a normative line suggesting that because their actions do not fit with certain Muslim norms we should not see those actions as somehow related to Islam. I appreciate your intent but you are essentially repeating the George Bush “Islam is a religion of peace” line, which ignores the complexity both of religious traditions and of how those traditions are mediated and subjects are formed within them. From a heuristic perspective any act done by someone identifying as a Muslim (or Jew or from any other religious identity group) can be labeled as belonging to that group. Yes, there are norms, but your approach seems to be to impose a definition and then exclude. That works in normative terms, but it is in fact intellectually limiting in that it does not help us understand the complex etiology of their actions. I like your analogy to the Aurora shootings: I think we can understand the Boston event as an instance of a mediated notion of jihad being put on in a kind of ethical performance that stands outside of politics and utility (like the mentally ill person thinking he can become the Joker from Batman). Take for example, the discussion in Faisal Devji’s Landscapes of Jihad. I think his work is not applicable to most “Islamic terrorism” (e.g. Islamically oriented nationalists in Palestine), but with the more bizarre al Qaida types and the Boston bombers it may clarify things.

    • Until we see or hear actual statements from the surviving brother, there is no concrete reason to even believe that their motive was religion. Only upon a psychological examination can we begin to understand what made a young pothead go along with his brother on such a deadly fool’s errand.

      If this was such a religiously motivated mission, why were they so stupid from start to finish, showing their faces plainly in a place crawling with cameras and cell phones? Why didn’t they get out of town afterwards, while they could do so easily?

      So many questions for anyone, including Juan Cole, to make suppositions over. Just mention the word “Islam,” and all objectivity goes out the window.

      I have been a Muslim for many years. I know there is nothing in the religion that incites violence. You, on the other hand, are pontificating rather arrogantly about religious “nuances,” which is simply simply bullshit.

  6. The Tsarnaev brothers showed every sign of being a pair of – to use their uncle’s word – losers who were as much part of a terrorist movement as is my Golden Retriever.

    They didn’t even have the foresight to plan an escape, which they could have easily done between the Monday afternoon bombing and the Wednesday night shoot-out. When they finally did decide to get out of Dodge, they couldn’t because they’d taken their car in for repairs on Tuesday, did not get money and – after they high jacked the SUV, had no idea how ATMs worked.

    All of which makes me incredibly suspicious of Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelley’s assertion earlier this week that New York was their next “target.” They had no target because they had no plan. I suspect the NYPD gussied up the story to make them seem more ominous. For one thing, wise people now assume that whatever Ray Kelly and the NYPD say, the exact opposite is true.

    When I was a kid, yahoo’s like the Tsarnaev brothers would have been called “mad bombers” and I still think that’s what they were and not part of some global al Qaeda plot.

    • Most other would-be terrorists, like the shoe and underwear guy, we suicide bombers that misfired. These two brothers did not choose suicide. What made them think they could get away with it boggles the mind. Only the Kentucky derby may have more photos of a finish line than the Boston Marathon. Then again, the ’93 WTC bomber took his rented truck back for his deposit after using it to plant a bomb. (????!!!)

    • Agreed.

      This has all the hallmarks of a “Columbine-style” operation where some amateurish pair who have some beef with society and embark on a violent spree with guns and explosives.

  7. Juan:

    Re: Top Ten Signs the Tsarnaev Brothers Weren’t Pious Muslims

    What point are you trying to make? Do we need an article called “Top Ten Signs Timothy McVeigh Wasn’t a Pious Christian” in order to understand that murder is wrong?


    • That’s the point. You don’t need the top ten for McVeigh. Americans never thought he bombed in the name of god or that his act was anything but non-Christian.

      • But, many Americans believe or are made to believe that the Tsarnaev brothers are pious Muslims. It depends.

        • Until we hear it directly from Dzhokhar Tszarnaev, we don’t know the motive for this bombing. He will tell us. Until then, they are both just a couple of idiots who committed a terrible crime. I personally still have the strong feeling that Islam was actually incidental, and that the cause is psychological, much the same as the Columbine killers. On the night of the bombing I spent a long time reading Dzhokhar’s Twitter, and believe me, he’s about as Islamic as the pope.

  8. This sure sounds reminiscent of what the 9/11 crew was up to as they moved toward doing their personal version of EFFING STUPID. Seems like “legal” terrorists like CIA operatives and, gasp, SECRET SERVICE dudes, and High Military Officers, and Repuglican Family Values Politicians, and the whole Financial Industry, and arms dealers and stuff, also live real large and high and self-indulgent as they go about acting out their part of the human tragedy, pretending it’s all about High Moral Values And Freedom and Patriotism and All That. Even “the Taliban” does rape and dope, and abuses pretty little dancing boys, and that’s a behavior that appears to manifest in every old-man-dominated “religious” structure.

    Lots of anonymous little people out there writing and release virulent code into the net. Are they “terrorists” worthy of notice? A science fiction story of not so long ago was based on how holographic projection will likely be abused when it’s developed — juvenile delinquents record the image of the inside of an elevator car, jimmy the doors so they will open even if the car is up the shaft, and trusting souls then step into the image and down the shaft. I’m sure more applications will come to mind… Any way to “fix” that?

  9. As a Muslim, I will tell you that it’s not uncommon for some Muslims to get all fussy when a non-Muslim is praised in the mosque. I’ve seen it many times. Some very fundamentalist types will walk out of a room where music is playing or a video is being shown, believing both are haram or forbidden. This does not make them terrorists.

    This was NOT a case of Islamic terror. Something very psychological is at play and is being crammed into an “Islamic terrorism” mold. Islam is merely incidental here.

  10. The first point about intoxicants…be careful Mr. Cole with such statements…as a medical provider I rather script marijuana than 95% of these big pharma synthetics…and I am a youth leader at my mosque in Detroit, and I am quite aware of the Islamic position of intoxicants

  11. There are also many reports that families of Iran regime officials indulge in much drinking and womanizing abroad. To these people, Islam is just an excuse. What they do has nothing to do with the religion.

  12. Ishmaelis weren’t Muslims then when practising violence in their violent era. Of course if the Islamophobes are also playing propandistic games, Cole should get a pass. One should never never mention though, sections of the Talmud denigrate Christ and Christians, and boast of complicity in the Crucifixion.
    That’s career-destroying.

  13. Pressure Cookers used to make HASH (form of cannabis) Also NYC date of 420 .. huge huge pot smoking day in New York City.

  14. There’s a very good article in today’s Guardian about the Tsarnaev family. The mother and older brother had turned very religious in the last few years. The other members of the family–father, sisters and younger brother were not. The youngest brother seems like an ordinary 19 year old–pot smokin’ included. Perhaps, if he would have smoked more, then he wouldn’t have been so keen to blow up bombs. REAL POTHEADS DON’T BLOW UP THINGS. PEACE MAN.

  15. “A Battered Dream, Then A Violent Path” New York Times article on Tamerlan Tsarnaev. I haven’t seen any real connection between the two brothers or a reason the younger one went off. He wasn’t a radical extremist and didn’t seem to have a gung ho personality like Tamerlan. I don’t understand how or why a seemingly well adjusted, college student would throw away his life like he did.

  16. I’m of the school of thought that due to the decentralized nature of the Islamic religion, it is prone to inspire violence if all other things are equal. The Catholic Church has had problems but in recent years, if a Catholic priest started preaching hate to Jews or Muslims or Evangelical Christians, he would probably be relieved of his duties. I also think while the Bible has its share of violent passages, the Koran has even more and Islam hasn’t undergone a needed reformation that weeds out most of the extremists.

    Given that some extremist Muslims view more conflicts through a religious context instead of through other contexts such as the US fighting for oil or what they believe is right, I am of the mindset that the US should have stayed out of the Middle East entirely and not even been engaged in Iraq War 1 even though it was sponsored by the UN. Only Muslim majority countries should have been involved in that conflict and it it meant Kuwait becoming a part of Iraq so be it.

    And until/unless the Muslim world had a much better perception of the US and the radical version of Islam was completely marginalized, the US should have quietly stopped Muslim immigration of most males in a respectful manner.

    This will help end the cycle of violence of terrorist attacks and the US sometimes then overreacting to those attacks. If there was no Iraq War 1, there would have been no 911 in all likelihood and thus there may have been no Iraq 2 or Afghanistan wars.

    To solve this problem, I think we have to acknowledge its complexities and tackle it straight on. The US has done a lot wrong but its also dealing with some legitimate extremists that even some Muslims are afraid of.

    Most Muslims are perfectly fine but some extremists would want to target the US simply because of the influence of Hollywood etc.

    • Wow, that’s amazing. Instead of making innocent Muslims pay the price for US hegemony, how about stopping the hegemony. It would also save US taxpayers a big pile of money, and a lot of Muslim people’s lives. Next time Obama wipes out a wedding party with a drone strike, think about it.

  17. I’d like to add to the list — It’s reported Tamerlan was a drug dealer. He also had his child out of wedlock. Doesn’t sound pious to me.

  18. So what is the point of this? Because they weren’t ‘good’ Muslims, this didn’t count as Muslim terrorism? It was terrorism and I really couldn’t care less who perpetrated it.

  19. if Tamerlin was living on welfare, why was the wife working 70 to 80 hours a week?

  20. The younger brother and most of his college friends smoked a lot of pot and probably bought and sold it. Obama did the same thing when he was in high school. Obama even came up with a new term for smokin’ hooch—“ROOF HITS.” Smoking pot ain’t a big deal with young people.

    Tamerlan was much more high strung. I really doubt he did much doping of any kind. He was also a very good heavyweight boxer.That guy could fight. I can see Tamerlan going off but not the younger brother. He was far too laid back.

    The brothers didn’t have much contact and the age difference (7 years) was HUGE. When Tamerlan was 19, ‘lil brother was just 12–a child really. I don’t understand what really drove Jokar .

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