Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Barack Obama, The Apostate

Here's an angle I haven't thought of before....
This was in the New York Times yesterday.

By Edward N. Luttwak
BARACK OBAMA has emerged as a classic example of charismatic leadership — a figure upon whom others project their own hopes and desires....Case in point is the oft-made claim that an Obama presidency would be welcomed by the Muslim world.

Yes, Obama's Father was a Muslim. But so what?

....But it is a mistake to conflate his African identity with his Muslim heritage. Senator Obama is half African by birth and Africans can understandably identify with him. In Islam, however, there is no such thing as a half-Muslim. Like all monotheistic religions, Islam is an exclusive faith.

Now that Luttwak mentions it, I don't know of any "blended" families where the kids go to the Mosque on Friday and to Hebrew school on Saturday mornings....

....As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant.

I'm going to have to ping my friends at Muslims Against Sharia (see blogroll to your right) to get a ruling on this. They're the group that is translating the Koran into English.

....Of course, as most Americans understand it, Senator Obama is not a Muslim. He chose to become a Christian, and indeed has written convincingly to explain how he arrived at his choice and how important his Christian faith is to him.

Yes, but I still get at least two emails a week explaining his Muslim connections, and casting doubt on his conversion experience. All this in spite of his campaign being plagued by his decades-long association with a Christian minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

His conversion, however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

Define Apostasy: Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.
Define Apostate: Someone who has commited the crime defined above.

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings. (Some may point to cases in which lesser punishments were ordered — as with some Egyptian intellectuals who have been punished for writings that were construed as apostasy — but those were really instances of supposed heresy, not explicitly declared apostasy as in Senator Obama’s case.)
It is true that the criminal codes in most Muslim countries do not mandate execution for apostasy (although a law doing exactly that is pending before Iran’s Parliament and in two Malaysian states). But as a practical matter, in very few Islamic countries do the governments have sufficient authority to resist demands for the punishment of apostates at the hands of religious authorities.

Imagine this scenario....
President Obama to the Head of State of a Middle Eastern nation: "Hello, I'm Barack."
Head of State of a Middle Eastern nation to Barack Obama: "DIE, INFIDEL !"

....At the very least, that would complicate the security planning of state visits by President Obama to Muslim countries, because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards. More broadly, most citizens of the Islamic world would be horrified by the fact of Senator Obama’s conversion to Christianity once it became widely known — as it would, no doubt, should he win the White House. This would compromise the ability of governments in Muslim nations to cooperate with the United States in the fight against terrorism, as well as American efforts to export democracy and human rights abroad.

There's something wrong with the logic here. I can't put my finger on it. I'm afraid that the logic breakdown lies not with Edward N. Luttwak's editorial, but with the Muslim world. That paragraph, unfortunately, is goofy enough to reflect our present reality.
I really, really need The Muslims Against Sharia people to enter the comment field on this one.

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.



Anonymous said...

Daniel Pipes has been pushing this idea for the past year in an attempt to discredit Obama. I'm surprised to see Luttwak and the Times pick this up. The underlying assumption in this article is that Islam is monolithic.

DG in FW

Anonymous said...

"If Obama never embraced the Muslim faith as a child, would he still be considered an Apostate by fundamentalist (for lack of a better word) Muslims?"

Probably yes. However, the term carries a negative connotation, which it should not. Anyone should be able to freely change his/her religion without stigma or fear of prosecution.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I don't see this article or the observations of Pipes and Luttwak as an attempt to discredit Obama - in fact, many of the Clintons' supporters are convinced Obama is a Muslim. Death threats from a few Imams might help his cause.

The guys who chimed in below (Muslims against sharia) are the only organization I've run into who publicly represent "moderate" Islam.

Check out their site when you get a chance.

Anonymous said...

On the right-hand side of our blog, http://muslimsagainstsharia.blogspot.com/, under the heading of 'ANTI-FASCISTS of ISLAM' we have a list of people and organization who represent moderate Islam.