The Corner

Thank God for McCain — Allahu Akbar!

A Muslim repeatedly screams “Allahu Akbar!” while shooting down a plane. Sounds like a violent jihadist, right? Heavens no, replies John McCain — it’s a . . . “moderate!”

Andrew has the report below. Discussing a member of the Syrian mujahideen shooting a plane out of the sky, Senator McCain told the Fox & Friends crew this morning that the jihadist’s cries of “Allahu Akbar!” — echoing jihad mass-murderer Nidal Hassan, to take one of innumerable examples — were really no different from “an American Christian saying, ‘Thank God, thank God.’”  

Well, an Egyptian official recently described McCain’s judgment as “moronic,” and it seems the senator is hell-bent on proving him right.

I discussed the phrase in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy:

As it has demonstrated in each “Arab Spring” venue, the Muslim Brotherhood remains the ummah’s most significant organization. It still proclaims unabashedly it’s 90-year-old motto: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!” The motto’s coda is not just rote chanting. Allahu akbar!, which also serves as the chillingly familiar exclamation of Muslim terrorists, is commonly translated as “God is greatest!” But that’s not exactly right. It literally means, “Allah is greater!” – the greater God, the mightier, more fearsome power. It is a comparative, ubiquitously invoked by a civilization that sees itself surrounded by hostile forces, forever competing for dominance.

Allahu Akbar! is not about expressing gratitude — Arabic-speaking Muslims have other phrases for that. Allahu Akbar! attaches comfortably to acts of aggression because Islamic supremacists see themselves in a fight to the finish that they expect to win because Allah, in their minds, is greater than their adversaries. It is about conquest.

Andy Bostom alerts me to this helpful entry on the phrase from WikiIslam. It explains the comparative sense this way:

Lane’s Lexicon, the most revered and scholarly dictionary of the Arabic language, confirms the majority view is that “Allahu Akbar” refers to Allah being “greater”. Unlike in its early years, so does Wikipedia, stating the phrase literally means “God is greater”. But is usually translated “God is [the] Greatest,” or “God is Great”.[6] Similarly, Pierre Tristam, the LebaneseAmerican About.com Guide states, although most often translated as “god is great,” Allahu Akbar is Arabic for “god is greater,” or “god is greatest.”[7] Many news sources and other web resources are now also beginning to use the more correct translation.

It then moves on to the historical significance of the phrase, which — as in most things Islamic — traces to Mohammed, Islam’s warrior prophet:

“Allahu Akbar” has been used historically by Muslims as a battle cry during war.[1] This precedent was set by Prophet Muhammad when he attacked the Jews of Khaibar.

In the following sahih hadith, you can see the phrase has been translated correctly into English by Muslims.

Narrated Anas: The Prophet set out for Khaibar and reached it at night. He used not to attack if he reached the people at night, till the day broke. So, when the day dawned, the Jews came out with their bags and spades. When they saw the Prophet; they said, “Muhammad and his army!” The Prophet said, Allahu-Akbar! (Allah is Greater) and Khaibar is ruined, for whenever we approach a nation (i.e., enemy to fight) then it will be a miserable morning for those who have been warned.” [Sahih Bukhari 4:52:195]

About a year ago, McCain’s constituency, the media, finally noticed the “Arab Spring” phenomenon of American flags and other flags being ripped down and replaced with al-Qaeda’s flag — a black banner inscribed in white with the shahada, the Islamic proclamation that “There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” The flag has a way of showing up at riots and beheadings. But the media’s agenda, like McCain’s, is not to register what the widespread practice of displaying the flag says about support for Islamic supremacism in the Middle East; the agenda is to explain it away — no matter how preposterously. So a CNN anchor dutifully told her viewers that the flag is “not an al-Qaeda banner but an affirmation of faith.”

This sort of thing, of a piece with equating a bay for blood with “Thank God,” is, well, moronic. That why I’ve long described it as ”willful blindness.” It is more suicidally delusional today than it has ever been. The only silver lining is that McCain has probably done more for the non-interventionist position on Syria than anything we non-interventionists could have come up with.

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