NPR: All Things Considered … Except Evidence — and Scholarship.
The show airs material from an unpublished, unscholarly book claiming Islam spent centuries as a non-violent, "contemplative" religion. Then the show cuts short Andrew Bostom's rebuttal.
March 25, 2010 - 7:49 am
On March 18, National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) All Things Considered (ATC) aired a segment regarding Philip Jenkins’ claims — made in an unpublished book manuscript, Dark Passages, not yet even listed at amazon.com — that the Koran had a lower “brutality quotient” than the Bible, and Islam, regardless, had undergone a “holy amnesia” (at some unspecified time point) until very recently, neutralizing the creed’s bellicosit, and rendering it “contemplative.”
Despite being interviewed by NPR religion reporter Barbara Bradley for over thirty minutes, and providing her much additional written material countering Jenkins’ flimsy speculations, precious little of my rebuttal was included in the broadcast (see transcript here).
Moreover, NPR’s ATC subsequently ignored my request to have a written corrective of mine read aloud, as suggested by Ms. Bradley herself. The e-mail appeal to ATC’s producers and correspondents, and my brief statement debunking Jenkins, follow below.
—– Original Message —–
From: Andrew Bostom
To: Barbara Bradley; Melissa Block
Cc: Matt Martinez; Petra Mayer; Robert Siegel
Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 9:56 AM
Subject: Edifying statement re: my ATC appearance on 3/18/10
Matt Martinez, Supervising Senior Producer, Petra Mayer, Associate Producer, Robert Siegel and Melissa Block, correspondents, “All things considered” (ATC), (and Barbara Bradley, NPR Religion Reporter)
Dear Ms. Block, Mr. Siegel, Ms. Mayer, and Mr. Martinez,
As per a discussion with Barbara Bradley this past Friday, March 19th (2010), I am pursuing her recommendation to submit a statement to be read on air at ATC as a corrective to the 3/18/10 segment, which included a very truncated representation of my meticulously documented scholarship on the jihad. As I explained to Barbara [Bradley], this severely limited presentation of my arguments is in the end disorienting to your own listening audience, when juxtaposed to the air time granted to Mr. Jenkins’ apologetic views on Islam, reinforced by those of a second interlocutor, Mr. Ansary.
As one who has painstakingly researched these matters at considerable personal cost, I hope you share my belief that your vast, diverse audience deserves to be exposed to the factual data contained in my reply so they — and you — can place Jenkins’ views in a sobering light.
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS
I was not given a fair opportunity to counter Philip Jenkins’ claims during my very brief appearance on ATC. What follows are just a few of my rebuttals that did not air.
As of March 20, 2010, there were at least 15,022 documented fatal terror attacks committed by Muslims since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on 9/11/2001. This is by nature a gross underestimate given the horrific level of jihad violence in Sudan, Thailand, and more recently, Nigeria, which has gone underreported.
Dr. Tina Magaard — a Sorbonne-trained linguist specializing in textual analysis — published detailed research findings in 2005 (summarized in 2007, here) comparing the foundational texts of ten major religions. Contra the mere opinions of Jenkins, put forth without any objective comparison methods, Magaard concluded from her hard data-driven analyses:
The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with.
My own copiously documented The Legacy of Jihad describes the doctrinal rationale for Islam’s sacralized jihad violence, and its historical manifestations, across an uninterrupted continuum from the 7th century advent of the Muslim creed through the present. The root of the word “jihad” appears 40 times in the Koran. With four exceptions, all the other 36 usages in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries — the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam — and to ordinary people meant and means, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W. Lane:
He fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.
Muhammad himself waged a series of bloody, proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians, and pagans of Arabia. Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model) that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present. Jihad was pursued century after century because it embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Koranic verses and long chapters in the canonical hadith, or acts and sayings of Muhammad.
Within two centuries of Muhammad’s death, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Asia Minor and the Balkans, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan.
When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired.
These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported; the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged; and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized. This celebratory literature is entirely consistent with the concepts of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for “the House of Islam and the House of War”), also formulated by classical Islamic jurists.
As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic law, Joseph Schacht:
A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, “in a state of war,” “enemy alien”; his life and property are completely unprotected by law …
And these innocent non-combatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being harbis during endless razzias (raids) and or full-scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad through the present.
This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of todays jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe. And unlike Christianity, which has issued formal mea culpas for its past imperial warfare, authoritative Islam has never renounced the living, genocidal legacy of jihad.
Thus today, jihad war remains the central pillar of Hamas’ foundational ideology, as featured in its 1988 Covenant, which highlights unequivocal statements fomenting the annihilation of Israel’s Jews via jihad. Despite repeated public appeals to the UN Human Rights Commission since 1989, this charter of jihad genocide has never been condemned by the 57 member nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) — which represents the entire global Muslim community.
On the contrary, the OIC held a special meeting during 2004 to commemorate Sheikh Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, who co-drafted this document sanctioning jihad genocide.