Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"Cleave the Necks of the Infidels" (why do we bother?)

The following is a free translation of a column dated 2nd May last, "Cleave the necks of the Infidels," written by Dutch-Iranian Professor Afshin Ellian (41), a columnist at Elsevier Magazine.

Not in the Netherlands, but in the Middle East rages a substantial debate over Dutch politician Geert Wilders' movie "Fitna."

The Iranian-Islamic response to "Fitna" is a short film in which an Iranian imam responds to Wilders on the basis of different scenes from "Fitna."

In the response we see a member of the Iranian clergy and a few scenes from "Fitna."

1. The first part of "Fitna" consists of citations from the Koran and closely linked violent events and statements. The film begins with a verse that is regularly brought up by radical Muslims as a justification for terrorist acts: "Prepare against them what you can in power and cavalry so as to terrorise your enemy and Allah's enemy."

The entire verse in the translation of Professor Fred Leemhuis reads as follows: "And deploy against them as much as possible the available weapons and horses to raise fear in God's enemy and your enemy and others whom you do not know, but who are known to God. And whatever you contribute to God's path will be reimbursed and you will not be dealt with unjustly." (8:60)

Can the word 'turhibuuna' here be understood as 'terror?' To raise fear, means to terrorise. In the Al-Azhar (Egypt) approved English translation by Islam scholar Majid Fakhry, the word used is ' to terrify.' And in the interpretive Persian translation of the Koran (used by the Ayatollahs) two words are used: cheating and to raise fear.

Now the Iranian commentator says that Allah here merely requests perpetual preparedness and strength. So one has to be properly armed to be able to incite fear. Is that a correct interpretation? Surely from that verse we cannot deduce that Muslims should passively arm themselves for a state of cold war? He confuses the arms strategy of his own regime with the extensive scope of these verses.

2. Subsequently anti-Jewish images are being shown. They are monkeys and must be killed. The commentator keeps mum about the relevant Hadith (traditions of the prophet) which calls for Jews to be killed. But on that specific Koran verse he says that Allah only described the Jews of that time as monkeys. Is that true? Again I checked the Koran. No, it is about Jews who break their covenant with Allah. These are all Jews, then and now.

Here are a few more Koran citations:

"You know about those who were with you in violation of the Sabbath. We said to them: "You are chased monkeys." So We made a terrifying example of them for their own time and later, which will encourage those who fear God." (2:65-66)

"Say: Shall I tell you something which is even worse than Allah's revenge? Who is cursed by Allah and who have caused his wrath and whom He made into monkeys and pigs, who serve the Taghout; they are in the worst place and the furthest astray from the right path. " (5:60)

"And when they looked with contempt upon that which was forbidden, We said to them: "Be ye chased monkeys." (7:166)

3. There is a verse which asserts: 'When ye therefore have a meeting with those who are infidels, cleave their necks and when you have massacred them, bind them in shackles. "

Here a problem arises, which Professor Leemhuis interpreted as follows:

"And when you meet the infidels [in the fight] beat them to death, but when you have dominance over them bind them tightly, either to release them later as a favour to them or to release them for ransom when the burdens of war have been redeemed. So it is. And if God wanted He would avenge himself on them, but he wants to test you. And those who have been slain on God's path, their acts will not be in vain." (47: 4)

This is an incorrect translation. Does Allah demand the jihadists to cleave necks or merely to slay during the struggle? Is the word 'neck' being used? The word 'raghaba' simply means neck. That is what is says in the translation used by the Ayatollahs and also in the Al-Azhar approved translation of Professor Fakhry: "So, when you meet the infidels, strike their necks till you have shed blood, then fasten the shackles. (…). "

It is therefore 'cleave the neck,' not 'slay them.' Ironically, it was precisely Leemhuis who criticized "Fitna," at least with regard to the translation of the Koranic verses. These are however correct translations done by Professor Hans Jansen. No doubt the message is friendlier if one omits the word 'neck.'

The situation becomes even worse if we consider that there are radical Muslims who behead people. Unlike Leemhuis the Iranian imam/commentator found no fault with the translation. The clerics are better in Arabic than in Persian.

In defence the Iranian imam claims that be-headings are only permitted in a state of war. Probably in his view only the Middle East is considered a war zone.

Yet, he is very confused. He thinks the man who's being decapitated in "Fitna" is Theo van Gogh. For obvious reasons it is very difficult for him to express approval of the beheading [sic] of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam.

The decapitated man in "Fitna" is Eugene Armstrong: an American who was beheaded in Iraq (September 2004) by Tawhid wal Jihad. Europe and North America [sic] are at war with radical Salafism; this is why Salafists believe this verse (on the decapitation) applies to the enemies of Islam.

The Iranian propaganda imam is well informed about the Netherlands. He cites Ehsan Jami, a 23-year-old boy who has been living in the Netherlands from the age of nine. He responds to the roughing up of Jami (headlines Fitna). Jami is a 'murtadd' (an apostate), moreover has founded a party for 'mortaddin' (apostates), said this imam. And that is about all he says.

Why? Because he knows that Iranian viewers think threats and abuse are normal treatment for apostates. Who is perverting reality here? Not Wilders, but the defenders of Islam.


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