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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2009 :  16:23:15  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
(Hat Tip to PZ.) The Muslim Chaplain of Harvard University advocates the killing of ex-Muslims.


Taha Abdul-Basser

In an email, Taha Abdul-Basser writes:
Taha Abdul-Basser:

Wa-iyyakum.

I am familiar with these types of discussions.

While I understand that will happen and that there is some benefit in them, in the main, it would be better if people were to withhold from _debating_ such things, since they tend not to have the requisite familiarity with issues and competence to deal with them.

Debating about religious matter is impermissible, in general, and people rarely observe the etiquette of disagreements.

There are a few places on the Net where one can find informed discussions of this issue (Search (*"Abdul Hakim Murad"|Faraz Rabbani" AND "apostasy")*). The preponderant position in all of the 4 sunni madhahib (and apparently others of the remaining eight according to one contemporary `alim) is that the verdict is capital punishment.

Of concern for us is that this can only occur in the_domain and under supervision of Muslim governmental authority and can not be performed by non-state, private actors._

Some contemporary thought leaders have emphasized the differing views (i.e. not capital punishment) that a few fuqaha' in the last few centuries apparently held on this issue, including reportedly the senior Ottoman religious authority during the Tanzimat period and Al-Azhar in the modern period. Still others go further and attempt to elaborate on the argument that the indicants (such as the hadith: (whoever changes his religion, execute him) used to build the traditional position apply only to treason in the political sense and therefore in the absence of a political reality in which apostasy is both forsaking the community and akin to political treasons in the modern sense, the indicants do not indicate capital punishment.

I am not aware of `Allama Taqiy al-Din Ibn Taymiya's position on this issue but much is attributed to him by both detractors and supporters so one should be wary of accepting things attributed to him without asking experts. Perhaps you can ask Ustadh Sharif el-Tobgui or Shaykh Yasir Qadhi (I am copying both), both of whom are Ibn Taymiya specialists.

I would finally note that there is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand. The formal consideration of excuses for the accused and the absence of Muslim governmental authority in our case here in the North/West is for dealing with the issue practically.

And Allah knows best.

Wa s-salam.
Taha
[My empahsis.]

* I replaced two brackets with parentheses above to get stop the quote from being cut short.

"Hegemonic human rights discourse"? What kind of postmodernist BS is this? Former colonialists are "forcing" Muslims not to be barbaric? Would that it were so!

Why is this fanatic not only allowed to walk about on the Harvard campus, but "honored" as its Muslim Chaplain? This dangerous Islamist should be sent packing at the very least. I agree with PZ: There should be NO chaplains.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/17/2009 22:20:24

Dave W.
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Posted - 04/17/2009 :  22:08:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Why is this fanatic not only allowed to walk about on the Harvard camppus...
Because he's got First Amendment rights.
...but "honored" as its Muslim Chaplain?
That's an entirely different question, upon which I can't begin to speculate.

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2009 :  22:20:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by HalfMooner

Why is this fanatic not only allowed to walk about on the Harvard camppus...
Because he's got First Amendment rights.
Ah, true. So long as he's not been banished by Harvard's administration, or a protective order has not been issued by a judge to keep him away.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/17/2009 22:21:36
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Machi4velli
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USA
854 Posts

Posted - 04/17/2009 :  23:01:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What actually does happen if practicing one's religion is illegal?

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  00:34:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

What actually does happen if practicing one's religion is illegal?
If that man practiced what he preaches, it would be illegal.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  03:35:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

What actually does happen if practicing one's religion is illegal?
Lots of stuff, much of it a lot worse than China's current religious repression. Historically, it could get you killed in some particularly nasty ways. And, as Mr. Abdul-Basser has noted, the law is still in his Book -- religions seem to dislike each other even more than they hate the infidel, and that is the main reason that theocracy must not be allowed to flourish. The Middle East is filled with modern examples and Christianity is not at all innocent, as that same history tells us.

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me." ~~ (Luke 19:27)




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Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  10:41:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by filthy

Originally posted by Machi4velli

What actually does happen if practicing one's religion is illegal?
Lots of stuff, much of it a lot worse than China's current religious repression. Historically, it could get you killed in some particularly nasty ways. And, as Mr. Abdul-Basser has noted, the law is still in his Book -- religions seem to dislike each other even more than they hate the infidel, and that is the main reason that theocracy must not be allowed to flourish. The Middle East is filled with modern examples and Christianity is not at all innocent, as that same history tells us.

"But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me." ~~ (Luke 19:27)






I meant in America. Ordinarily if a law contradicts the constitution, it is invalidated, but any action could theoretically me part of a religion.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
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Dave W.
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USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  11:33:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Machi4velli

I meant in America. Ordinarily if a law contradicts the constitution, it is invalidated, but any action could theoretically me part of a religion.
No. If something you do as a part of your religion is illegal for non-religious purposes, then it's illegal constitutionally. If marijuana use had been criminalized just to prevent Rastafarianism, then that law would have been unconstitutional. But because marijuana is illegal for everyone, for secular reasons, the Rastas are just out of luck. The law doesn't impose an "undue burden" on what they can believe (no burden at all, actually), and doesn't impose a burden on what they can do more than it does for any other citizen.

A city in Florida (I think) once tried to outlaw animal slaughter in one's home, but the way they wrote the law made it clear that they'd only done it in order to try to get rid of all the people who were practicing Santa Ria, so it was ruled unconstitutional. It didn't pass the Lemon test.

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  13:36:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First, a clarification from a blogger at beliefnet.com:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/cityofbrass/2009/04/debating-apostasy-and-capital.html

Note that the bold emphasis was in Abdul-Basser's original. In a nutshell, he is simply relating the position of the dominant madhabs (schools of thought) - and they agree that the death penalty can only be applied by the State, not individuals.

Note that this is highly analogous to the death penalty for treason in western countries. In fact, as Abdul-Basser points out, the analogy to treason is made explicit and used as an argument for why the death penalty no longer can be applied:

(quotes the chaplain's email)

Let's be clear here - in the modern era, the dominant muslim religious authorities either do not consider the death penalty as a valid punishment for apostasy, or argue that the question is moot in the absence of the muslim State.


Mooner wrote:
"Hegemonic human rights discourse"? What kind of postmodernist BS is this? Former colonialists are "forcing" Muslims not to be barbaric? Would that it were so!


Totally false accusation that the chaplain is making a postmodern argument. That's like saying that when a fundamentalist Christian disagrees with a woman's right to choice that they are using postmodern thinking in their reasoning. The chaplain isn't saying that no values are universal, he's dismissing the idea that human rights are universal values.

The blogger on beliefnet seems to generally agree with Mooner (albeit less harshly), saying:
I had actually contacted Abdul-Basser intending to give him an opportunity to clarify his comments, but he declined. The phrase, "hegemonic human rights discourse" is deeply troubling because it implicitly rejects the basic notion of universal human rights. Freedom of faith and conscience is a key human right that has solid precedent and grounding in Islamic sources as well as Western roots. I reject the notion that human rights are "values" which may be fluid between human societies. It's precisely this attitude that has permitted modern Islamic states to drift so far from the established jurisprudence.


As much as I want to agree because my values include the modern concept of human rights, and indeed I like to think that I would be willing to die for those values if it were necessary, the fact is that human rights are values which may be fluid between human societies. To say otherwise is to claim that they come from some source outside of the human condition, which there is no evidence of. In fact, the concept is rather new and certainly not agreed on all around the globe, so how is the chaplain inaccurate in describing human rights discourse as "hegemonic" and "modern." It is!

That said, yeah, his tone and wording do scare me exactly because I value and fight to preserve the enforcement of human rights. However, this was a private email and given the full context, hardly enough to explode over it and make as many assumptions as PZ and others have made.

PZ concludes with:
To be fair, fire every single one of the university chaplains, and send them packing. Universities should not be in the business of pandering to student superstitions; it's not as if there is a dearth of churches and chapels and religious organizations already surrounding and intruding upon the campus — remove the official endorsement of the administration and banish them all from the secular business of running a university.
First of all, Harvard is a private college with a divinity school, so it is not purely engaged in secular business. Second of all, such an action would include firing one of the most visible, active, and positive spokespersons for secular humanism, Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein.

Prisons and the military are not only secular institutions, they are also government institutions, and both employ chaplains, and rightly so. Obviously in both cases, opposed to universities, prisons and the military do so because inmates and soldiers are limited in their ability to exercise their free exercise of religion within the confines of their positions. And it should also be noted that prisons employ nontheistic chaplains for nonreligious inmates and that Greg Epstein and other Humanist leaders (such as the leaders of Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers) are working to add nontheistic chaplains to military employment, not remove chaplains from service.

Chaplains most certainly do serve a useful role in universities. Universities are places of research, study, and ideas. There is clearly no advocating of any particular worldview by Harvard since it employs chaplains representing mutually exclusive religions. Their roles are as experts in not only the topic of their respective religions, but also in the practice of those religions. And considering that most actual Muslim extremism comes out of the grassroots fringe, not the mainsteam or academia, it makes a lot of sense to have clergy connected to prestigious academic institutions.

Indeed, perhaps Abdul-Basser is an extremist who advocates state-sanctioned violence to punish religious dissent, and if that is the case, IMO he should be fired. But to extend such action to all university chaplains is reactionary foolishness.


"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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Edited by - marfknox on 04/18/2009 13:41:33
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  14:00:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm trying to find out if he's even actually employed by Harvard or if his position is maintained by the Muslim student group itself.

Also, Abdul-Basser has responded to the interpretations of his email:
http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/04/17/row-erupts-over-harvard-chaplain%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98death-to-apostates%E2%80%99-e-mail/

Abdul-Basser, in an e-mailed statement issued after all hell broke loose, said that he:

Never expressed the position that individuals who leave Islam or convert from Islam to another religion must be killed. I do not hold this opinion personally.


He explained that he was not advocating for the positions in his e-mail mail, but was rather:

Addressing them in the context of the evolution of an Islamic legal doctrine.



"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  14:12:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I tend to agree with this comment from the Crimson article about the controversy:
http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=527653
I think the fact that it was a private email with a student he is very familiar with makes all the difference. Chaplain Taha knew that this student wouldn't mistake his words for supporting the killing of apostates and knew where the student was coming from. What he was addressing in that email was the general sense of skepticism that most Muslims get when addressing the controversial topic of apostasy, and therefore the wisdom, or hikmah is in reference to the fact that at one point in Islamic history it made sense, though it is no longer a dominant interpretation of how to deal with apostates, and it should not be an issue of concern for American Muslims today. When you ask a scholar a legal and historical question, the response is not supposed to be sugar coated and PC, especially when the context is that of a private email with a familiar person.


If indeed Abdul-Hasser meant it this way, then his response was almost identical to the response a Catholic nun gave me and my classmates in HS when we asked about some of the atrocities in the Old Testament ordered by God. If people want to argue that the origins or even that the fundamental nature of a religion's traditional teachings are barbaric, that's one thing. But to assume that because clergy are describing them accurately and frankly that they are advocating such actions and policies here and now is silly. The more I read about Abdul-Hasser, the more I'm convinced that he isn't for executing ex-Muslims any more than my HS nun/religion teacher is for executing homosexuals and witches.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  15:13:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Indeed, perhaps Abdul-Basser is an extremist who advocates state-sanctioned violence to punish religious dissent, and if that is the case, IMO he should be fired. But to extend such action to all university chaplains is reactionary foolishness.
I think all that you wrote, Marf, can be boiled down to the above.

I agree, if Abdul-Basser advocate the death penalty for apostasy in Muslim countries, he should be fired -- by Harvard if that's his employer, or by the Muslim student association if they are the ones who hired, elected, or appointed him.

And I think it's clear from his comments the he does agree with killing ex-Muslims. He's acting coy, but his agreement with murder is clear:
I would finally note that there is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand. The formal consideration of excuses for the accused and the absence of Muslim governmental authority in our case here in the North/West is for dealing with the issue practically.
Personally, I see Humanist chaplains as an oxymoronic presence needed only where theist chaplains are employed, as a counter to school-sponsored theism. If other chaplains were to be fired, in fairness, the Humanist ones should go, too.

I also agree that tossing out all chaplaincies isn't about to happen at Harvard. So let us at least get chaplains who are all on one page in opposing the principle of killing members of their flocks who might want to leave. Somebody "certified" these people. Those somebodies should be held to basic standards of universal human rights.

That he exposed his murderous ideology in a private email is essentially irrelevant to the question of his beliefs. And if he's only saying the radical stuff to his flock in private, that's scary in its own way.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 04/18/2009 :  16:04:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

PZ concludes with:
To be fair, fire every single one of the university chaplains, and send them packing. Universities should not be in the business of pandering to student superstitions; it's not as if there is a dearth of churches and chapels and religious organizations already surrounding and intruding upon the campus — remove the official endorsement of the administration and banish them all from the secular business of running a university.
First of all, Harvard is a private college with a divinity school, so it is not purely engaged in secular business.
Yeah, that's one of the things PZ is faulting Harvard for.
Second of all, such an action would include firing one of the most visible, active, and positive spokespersons for secular humanism, Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein.
If everyone sent all the religionists packing, there would be no need for any secular humanist chaplains. The religious aspects of secular humanism were contrived in order to compete with superstitious religions. Get rid of them all, Epstein can find other work, I'm sure.
Prisons and the military are not only secular institutions, they are also government institutions, and both employ chaplains, and rightly so.
Actually, the widespread legal argument is that government-employed preists are unconstitutional, but no Supreme Court has had the balls to say it, yet.
Obviously in both cases, opposed to universities, prisons and the military do so because inmates and soldiers are limited in their ability to exercise their free exercise of religion within the confines of their positions.
I'm sure clergy from nearby churches would be more than happy to volunteer part of their time.
And it should also be noted that prisons employ nontheistic chaplains for nonreligious inmates...
Why would anyone who is non-religious see a chaplain of any sort? Or did you mean "nontheistic inamtes" who are still religious (or "spiritual")?
Chaplains most certainly do serve a useful role in universities. Universities are places of research, study, and ideas. There is clearly no advocating of any particular worldview by Harvard since it employs chaplains representing mutually exclusive religions. Their roles are as experts in not only the topic of their respective religions, but also in the practice of those religions. And considering that most actual Muslim extremism comes out of the grassroots fringe, not the mainsteam or academia, it makes a lot of sense to have clergy connected to prestigious academic institutions.
Only because superstition is both tolerated and even encouraged in society today.
But to extend such action to all university chaplains is reactionary foolishness.
Reactionary? Sure. Foolishness. No. Religion is foolishness. The drive to eliminate religion from the world is a reaction to the society-wide embrace of foolishness. Just as the religious form of secular humanism is a reaction to the worst excesses of superstitious religions.

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
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Posted - 04/18/2009 :  16:11:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Indeed, perhaps Abdul-Basser is an extremist who advocates state-sanctioned violence to punish religious dissent, and if that is the case, IMO he should be fired.
How is this any different from someone who advocates the death penalty for treason? The First Amendment says that he can't be fired just for advocating an extreme and unpopular religious position. Especially if what he's saying is that some hypothetical government should put apostates to death. He certainly isn't calling for Muslim vigilantes or the overthrow of the U.S. government.

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/19/2009 :  03:20:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

How is this any different from someone who advocates the death penalty for treason?
Oh, for crying out loud. This is advocating death for apostasy, a religious "crime," not treason. (Besides, advocating a death penalty for treason would seem a bizarre thing for a university chaplain to be doing, anyway.)
The First Amendment says that he can't be fired just for advocating an extreme and unpopular religious position. Especially if what he's saying is that some hypothetical government should put apostates to death. He certainly isn't calling for Muslim vigilantes or the overthrow of the U.S. government.
Really? Does the First Amendment apply to all expression by employees of a private university? I'm not sure this is correct. Are you sure, Dave?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/19/2009 :  03:43:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by marfknox

Mooner wrote:
"Hegemonic human rights discourse"? What kind of postmodernist BS is this? Former colonialists are "forcing" Muslims not to be barbaric? Would that it were so!


Totally false accusation that the chaplain is making a postmodern argument. That's like saying that when a fundamentalist Christian disagrees with a woman's right to choice that they are using postmodern thinking in their reasoning. The chaplain isn't saying that no values are universal, he's dismissing the idea that human rights are universal values.

The blogger on beliefnet seems to generally agree with Mooner (albeit less harshly), saying:
I had actually contacted Abdul-Basser intending to give him an opportunity to clarify his comments, but he declined. The phrase, "hegemonic human rights discourse" is deeply troubling because it implicitly rejects the basic notion of universal human rights. Freedom of faith and conscience is a key human right that has solid precedent and grounding in Islamic sources as well as Western roots. I reject the notion that human rights are "values" which may be fluid between human societies. It's precisely this attitude that has permitted modern Islamic states to drift so far from the established jurisprudence.
I used the term, "postmodernist" advisedly, for these reasons: First, I believe postmodernism is fake philosophy with no real content. Essentially it's meaningless, and serves only as a front for lazy, tricksy, selectively relativist, antirationalist thinking. I don't think that Islamist apologetics = postmodernism (it's more "prefeudalism," actually). But Abdul-Basser has shown the slyness of his apologetics by using an argument that combines the vague moral relativism of postmodernism, the absolutism of his faith, and the clearly stated implication that those who support universal human rights are actually acting to subject Islam to some kind of new colonialism.

I used "postmodernist" both to spoof the postmodernists, and to illustrate that Abdul-Basser knows how to borrow even from the sickest and most corrupt of Western thinking, when he thinks he can make it serve Allah. Even if the combined message is pretty much self-contradictory nonsense, it serves to sound like mainstream-ish opinion, while advocating something deeply primitive and murderous.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/19/2009 03:44:09
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