Sunday, October 12, 2014

David Cameron on Eid al-Adha: Islamic State has “nothing to do with the great religion of Islam, a religion of peace”

“I’m not a scholar of any religion,” Cameron adds a moment later. You can say that again.
He also several times praises, in this brief address, the “enormous contributions” that British Muslims make to Britain, but the only example he adduces is the marvelous “fire-starter” bowl of curry he recently enjoyed. He praises British Muslims for leading the country in charitable contributions, with no reference to the many Islamic charities that have been shut down for funding jihad, and no reference either to the fact that Muslims in the UK overwhelmingly give to Muslim charities that aid Muslims, not to any groups that aid non-Muslims. He also brags about Britain’s aid to the Palestinian Authority, saying it is helping “Palestine” “gain the statehood it so richly deserves.”
Speaking of Abraham’s sacrifice, Cameron says: “This is the same in my Bible as it is in your Qur’an.” The Islamic Feast of Eid al-Adha commemorates the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj, and Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. The story is not the same at all in Islamic tradition as it is in the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Islamic understanding is that Abraham sacrificed Ishmael, not Isaac.
And it gets worse. In Genesis 22:15-18, Abraham is rewarded for his faith and told he will become a blessing to the nations: “by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.”
But the Muslim audience that Cameron was addressing does not read Genesis. They read the Qur’an, in which Allah says that Abraham is an “excellent example” for the believers when he tells his pagan family and people that “there has arisen, between us and you, enmity and hatred for ever, unless ye believe in Allah and Him alone” (60:4). The same verse relates that Abraham is not an excellent example when he tells his father, “I will pray for forgiveness for you.”
Thus the Qur’an, in its picture of Abraham, the man Cameron invokes as a symbol of the common elements of the three faiths, holds up hatred as exemplary, while belittling the virtue of forgiveness. Cameron thus here reinforces a worldview that takes for granted the legitimacy of everlasting enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims — and does so while attempting to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims.
This demonstrates once again how crucial it is for Western policymakers to have a detailed understanding of Islam’s theological and cultural frame of reference, and of the actual teachings of the Qur’an. Based on this lack of this understanding, politicians keep making fatuous statements like the one Cameron makes here, and policy errors keep multiplying.

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