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Those “Inclusive” Mosques, Or, All Hat and No Camel

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed (R) and Seyran Ates want to set up other inclusive mosques

From a BBC News item:

At Berlin’s newest mosque, men and women pray together, women are allowed to lead Friday prayers, and gay, lesbian and transgender people are welcome.

“Our mosque is open for everybody,” says mosque founder Seyran Ates, a German Turkish-born lawyer and women’s rights activist.

“And we mean that really seriously: everybody, every lifestyle. We are not God. We don’t decide who’s a good or a bad Muslim. Anybody can come through this door – whether you are heterosexual or homosexual, we don’t care, it’s not our right to ask.”

The BBC notes that “one of the first inclusive mosques was set up in Paris in 2012 by Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, a gay imam from Algeria who now lives in France with his male civil partner. He is working with Ms Ates to help set up inclusive mosques elsewhere, including in Britain.”

Zahed attributes the ability to set up these “inclusive mosques” to the freedoms available in Europe, the very freedoms that are absent in all the lands where Islam rules: “Europe is the place where we can work on, what we consider to be, the reform of Islam,” he tells the BBC reporter.  “Because we have freedom of speech and democracy and education and welfare.”

It doesn’t occur to Zahed to wonder if there might be something about Islam itself that explains why, all over the Muslim lands, those very freedoms are nonexistent, while they can be found everywhere in Europe. For that would require a questioning of Islam itself. If Islam can only be “reformed” in the West, that is, only in those countries where Muslims themselves do not dominate, isn’t it likely that whatever “reforms” of Islam — however small — are achieved here and there in the West, they cannot possibly be accepted in Muslim lands? And why don’t the Muslim lands “have freedom of speech and democracy and education and welfare”? What does that tell us about Islam?

About Zahed’s “inclusive” mosque in Paris, though five years have gone by since it opened as a single prayer room, apparently no second “inclusive” mosque has appeared either in France, or anywhere else in Europe, until this Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque opened this past summer in Berlin. That tells us something about the supposed “wave” of reform — two mosques in all of Europe, in five years. The reporter mentions that there have been some “inclusive” meetings (i.e., including homosexuals) of Muslims for prayers in private homes, or in venues that need to be continuously shifted, obviously out of fear of attack. Can these really be described as “mosques” at all, since in their secrecy and constant movement they appear to be more akin to the cells of an outlawed political party in a totalitarian state?

When  Zahed was asked by the BBC reporter “what he would say to Muslims who believe that homosexuality is a sin,” he replied:

“To those who are Muslim and believe you can’t be gay or an emancipated woman at the same time as being Muslim, I would say: you can’t be homophobic, misogynistic, Judeophobic and pretend to be Muslim.”

Really? You can’t be “homophobic” and still be a Muslim? This will come as quite a surprise, not just to ISIS, but to the Islamic Republic in Iran, run by ayatollahs well-versed in the Qur’an and Hadith, and to the governments of many other Muslim states,  where homosexuals are cruelly persecuted, or even executed. And sometimes the punishment is carried out not by the state, but by Muslim vigilantes.

Where does this “homophobia” in Muslim states come from? From the immutable Qur’an, and from the Hadith.

The Qur’an contains unambiguous  condemnations of homosexual activity:  “And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, ‘Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.’…And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (Qur’an 7:80-84)

Muhammad specifies the punishment for homosexual behavior in a hadith: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Lot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4462); “It was narrated that Jabir: “The Prophet said: ‘There is nothing I fear for my followers more than the deed of the people of Lot.’”—?Al-Tirmidhi: 1457, Ibn Maajah: 2563

And Muslims worldwide apparently agree. In Saudi Arabia, men can be beheaded for committing homosexual acts. In Iran, they are hung from cranes. ISIS prefers to throw them  from tall buildings to their death. And even in Muslim countries where the death penalty is not inflicted, the treatment of homosexuals can be unusually cruel. In Egypt, for example, the police troll for homosexuals online, using personal ads, then arrest them. Some have been given five-year prison sentences, others have been, according to Human Rights Watch, “whipped, bound and suspended in painful positions, splashed with cold water, burned with cigarettes, shocked with electricity to the limbs, genitals or tongue.”

Muslim clerics from Morocco to Qatar to Indonesia have denounced homosexual behavior. In 2016, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association listed the 12 countries where same-sex sexual acts are punishable by death: Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Mauritania, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, UAE, and Iraq. 11 of the 12 are Muslim states, and Nigeria is more than half Muslim. In another dozen states, all of them Muslim, homosexual acts are severely punished, though with prison and flogging, rather than capital punishment. If the Parisian “reformist” imam Zahed believes that Islam is not “homophobic,” then perhaps he should explain this to all these Muslim officials who mete out these sentences of jail, flogging, and death, to homosexuals, and should point out where they have so badly misunderstood their own faith, and explain as well  to mainstream Believers who seem to think that homosexuality is Islamically unacceptable. And their belief stems directly from the words both of Allah in the Qur’an (7:80-84) and of Muhammad in a hadith (Al-Tirmidhi: 1457). What texts can Zahed offer in support of his claim that Islam is not homophobic? He knows as well as anyone how mainstream Muslims treat homosexuals like himself.

Then there is Zahed’s claim that Islam is not “misogynistic.” Perhaps he can explain then, why, according to the Sharia, Muslim women inherit only half as much as men (Qur’an 4:11); their testimony is worth half that of a man (2:282); polygamy is licit (Muhammad, the Perfect Man, allowed himself –there is some disagreement as to the exact number — perhaps as many as fourteen wives), and so are female sex slaves, “those whom your right hand possesses”; a Muslim man is allowed to beat his disobedient wife, though “lightly”; a Muslim man need only pronounce the triple-talaq to divorce his wife; and women are described in the Qur’an as inferior to men, for “the men are a degree above them” (2:228); and in the Sahih Bukhari (6:301) “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man? They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This [is because of] the deficiency in her intelligence.” There is much more, in the Hadith, about the inferior status of women, but these cited texts should be enough to give any fair-minded person pause — and Imam Zahed may wish to reconsider his amazing claim that misogyny has no place in Islam.

“Judeophobia’ — hatred of Jews — is, like “misogyny” and “homophobia,” impossible for a true Muslim, claims Imam Zahed. And once again the Qur’an begs to differ, for on the subject of Jews it is very — and unpleasantly — clear.

Here is how Robert Spencer sums up what the Qur’an teaches about Jews:

The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.

The classic Qur’anic commentators do not mitigate the Qur’an’s words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur’an 2:61 (“They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”) this way: “This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.” Another Middle Ages commentator of lingering influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: ‘The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled.’”

Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, “the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with ‘Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews.” The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’ This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.”

Not just contemporary jihadists, but modern-day mainstream Islamic authorities take these passages seriously. The former Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who was the most respected cleric in the world among Sunni Muslims, called Jews “the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.” The late Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

Another Saudi sheikh, Ba’d bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: “The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places … is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam–which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.”

That’s quite a lot — helpfully put together by Robert Spencer —  for Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed to have overlooked, in the Quran, in the classic commentators such as Ibn Kathir, in the remarks of present-day clerics. Does he think that he can somehow “reform” Islam by misstating what needs to be “reformed”? It is perfectly acceptable, and most welcome, for Imam Zahed to denounce “homophobia” and “misogyny” and “Judeophobia.” It is completely unacceptable, however, for him to claim that in Islam — the “true” Islam to which Imam Zahed believes himself to be privy — these do not exist, and that it is not possible to be a Muslim and at the same time be homophobic, or misogynistic, or judeophobic. For the textual evidence that it is not only possible, but necessary, for mainstream Muslims who follow the Qur’an, to be all three, see above.

Let’s not get too excited about Imam Zahed’s “inclusive” — i.e., for homosexuals too — Paris mosque (like the Berlin mosque, it’s a single prayer room). Neither the Paris nor the Berlin mosque represent, as some assume, the kind of step forward in the “reform” of Islam that is most needed. Zahed, like Ates, may be more “inclusive” in who can attend — that is, LGBT members — his mosque. But if he cannot admit to, and instead denies, some of the worst features of the ideology of Islam, including homophobia, misogyny, and judeophobia (antisemitism), then he cannot conceivably be a genuine reformer. Refusing to recognize that there is a problem is of no help in trying to solve it. He could, after all, have said that “we must recognize that in Islam there is a problem with homophobia, misogyny, and Judeophobia that needs to be discussed.” He could have, but didn’t.

There is no way to “reform” Islam if even the seemingly most liberal-minded of its clerics can’t allow themselves to recognize what Islam inculcates. And “reform” of Islam’s content will take much more than allowing in, to much excited acclaim by non-Muslims, men and women to pray side by side, or LGBTQ worshippers, or Sunnis, Shi’a, and Alevis, all welcome to  pray at the same mosque. Very few Muslims seem to be as impressed with the Berlin mosque as are the Western media:  “‘They’re creating a new religion, that’s not Islamic,’ commented one DeutscheWelle user. ‘These people are not following the religion of our prophet. They have no conception of the religion. What idiocy,’ commented another.” Fatwas of condemnation have been issued in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.

And the impact of these “inclusive” mosques has been greatly exaggerated. As we have seen, to date in Europe there has been one “inclusive” (LGBT) mosque in France, a second one now, in Germany, and a third is planned for Great Britain. They are not, in other words, busting out all over. And why should they? Seyran Ates has been receiving 300 letters of support but also “3,000 emails full of hate,including death threats” every day. She is now under permanent 24-hour guard. That does not suggest  a popular movement, nor is her example one that others are rushing to emulate. It has been five years since  Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed opened the first “inclusive” mosque in Europe. Can two such mosques in five years really be hailed as significant “progress” when those who have opened them require such protection, and just as important, when there has been no change in the texts or teachings of Islam, only in who is allowed to attend or officiate?

In making so much of the mosque in Berlin, the Western media reveals its eagerness — and naive hopefulness — about the possibility of “reform” in Islam. Such “reform” should mean not so much changing the rules on the attendance at, and functioning of, the mosque, but, rather, reform of the contents of the faith, and most of all, it should include changes to what Muslims are taught about non-Muslims. That is the essence of the problem the non-Muslims of the world have with Islam, and while “inclusivity” for both worshippers and imams at mosques is to be welcomed, this does nothing to change what Islam teaches about infidels.

Isn’t this Berlin mosque a case, if we may move from Texas to Arabia, of all hat, and no camel?

First published in Jihad Watch.


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