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Fears and Smears
Islamophobia is not an irrational fear, nor is it the fear of Islam.


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Andrew C. McCarthy

The IIIT president’s lavish praise for the translation, which he called an “eminent work of Islamic jurisprudence,” was not idle. It was written in an IIIT report that is included in the preface of Reliance as an endorsement of the manual’s rendering of sharia. The purpose of the translation, Alwani explained, is to make this faithful interpretation of sharia “accessible” to English speakers who are not fluent in the original Arabic. “The book will be of great use,” he elaborated, “in America, Britain, and Canada,” among other countries. Echoing IIIT’s commendation is the certification that immediately follows from the Islamic Research Academy at al-Azhar University in Cairo, the ancient and profoundly influential seat of Sunni learning.

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The manual is startling. To take just a few of its innumerable bracing instructions, it pronounces that:

  • Apostasy from Islam is “the ugliest form of unbelief” for which the penalty is death (“When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostatizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed”)
  • Apostasy occurs not only when a Muslim renounces Islam but also, among other things, when a Muslim appears to worship an idol, when he is heard “to speak words that imply unbelief,” when he makes statements that appear to deny or revile Allah or the prophet Mohammed, when he is heard “to deny the obligatory character of something which by consensus of Muslims is part of Islam,” and when he is heard “to be sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law”
  • “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims”
  • Non-Muslims are permitted to live in an Islamic state only if they follow the rules of Islam, pay the non-Muslim poll tax, and comply with various adhesive conditions designed to remind them that they have been subdued (such as wearing distinctive clothing, keeping to one side of the street, not being greeted with “Peace be with you” (“as-Salamu alaykum”), not being permitted to build as high as or higher than Muslims, and being forbidden to build new churches, recite prayers aloud, “or make public displays of their funerals or feastdays”
  • Offenses committed against Muslims (including murder) are more serious than offenses committed against non-Muslims
  • The penalty for spying against Muslims is death
  • The penalty for fornication is to be stoned to death, unless one is without the “capacity to remain chaste,” in which case the penalty is “being scourged one hundred stripes and banished to a distance of at least 81 km./50mi. for one year”
  • The penalty for homosexual activity (“sodomy and lesbianism”) is death
  • A Muslim woman may only marry a Muslim man; a Muslim man may marry up to four women, who may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish (but no apostates from Islam)
  • A woman is required to be obedient to her husband and is prohibited from leaving the marital home without permission; if permitted to go out, she must conceal her figure or alter it “to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them”
  • A non-Muslim may not be awarded custody of a Muslim child
  • The penalty for theft is amputation of the right hand
  • The penalty for drinking alcohol is “to be scourged forty stripes”
  • The penalty for accepting interest (“usurious gain”) is death (i.e., to be considered in a state of war against Allah)
  • The testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man
  • If a case involves an allegation of fornication (including rape), “then it requires four male witnesses”
  • The establishment of a caliphate is obligatory, and the caliph must be Muslim and male



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