Mainstream Islam Rejects Freedom of Conscience
On September 28-30, 2010, the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in cooperation with the American Islamic College (AIC), is sponsoring a program at the AIC’s Chicago campus titled “The Role of the OIC and the scope for its relations with American Muslims.”
Founded in 1969, the OIC is now a 56-state collective which includes every Islamic nation on Earth. Currently headed by Turkey's Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the OIC thus represents the entire Muslim umma (or global community of individual Muslims) and is the largest single voting bloc in the United Nations.
John Laffin, the late (d. 2000) military historian and prolific writer on Islam, warned in 1988 that the Jedda-based OIC, under Saudi Arabia’s patronage, was persuading Muslim nations to jettison even their inchoate adoption of “Western models and codes,” and to revert to pre-colonial era (pre-Western) retrograde systems of Sharia, or Islamic law. The Saudis proffered sizable loans and grants from their institutions in return for the more extensive application of Sharia in these targeted OIC countries. Laffin also noted the unprecedented Saudi distribution of media and print materials which extended to non-Muslim countries, including tens of millions of Korans, translated into many languages for the hundreds of millions of Muslims (and non-Muslims) who did not read Arabic. He concluded at that time:
Propaganda is carried on from Riyadh on a scale comparable to Moscow’s effort to spread communism.
Fast forward 22 years, and two special U.S. envoys to the OIC later (both the former, Sada Cumber, and current envoy, Rashad Hussain, will be in attendance at the Chicago OIC program), and one must seriously consider the extent of OIC propaganda efforts aimed at the Islamization of our country. Perhaps in Chicago some intrepid (and informed) mainstream media reporter -- underscoring how the OIC’s agenda is diametrically opposed to the U.S. Constitution -- will ask the representatives of this avatar of mainstream Islam about its blatant rejection of freedom of conscience, described below.
Elizabeth Kendal, in a recent commentary about the plight of brutalized Egytpian Muslim “apostates” Maher el-Gowhary and Nagla Al-Imam, made a series of apt observations which illustrate the most salient aspect of Islam’s persistent religious totalitarianism: the absence of freedom of conscience in Islamic societies. Egypt, Kendal notes, amended its secular-leaning constitution in 1980, reverting to its pre-colonial past and designating Sharia (Islamic law) as “the principal source of legislation” -- an omnipresent feature of contemporary Muslim constitutions, including the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- rendering “constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law illusory.” This is the inevitable outcome of a Sharia-based legal system, because:
Sharia’s principal aim concerning religious liberty, is to eradicate apostasy (rejection of Islam) through the elimination of fitna (anything that could tempt a Muslim to reject Islam) and the establishment of dhimmitude -- the humiliation and subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens [or non-citizen pariahs]; crippling systematic discrimination; violent religious apartheid ...
In Egypt, as in virtually all Muslim states, a person’s official religion is displayed on their identity card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim father is deemed Muslim from birth. According to Sharia, a Muslim woman is only permitted to marry a Muslim man. (This is the main reason why Christian men convert to Islam, and why female converts to Christianity will risk life and liberty to secure a falsified/illegal ID, for without a Christian ID they cannot marry a Christian.)
Thus Kendal concludes:
There is no religious liberty in Islam, for Islam survives as religious totalitarianism that refuses rejection.
Islam’s refusal to abide rejection by its votaries -- the global Muslim umma’s strident rejection of freedom of conscience -- is now openly codified, and has been for two decades. The 1990 Cairo Declaration, or so-called “Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam,” was drafted and subsequently ratified by all the Muslim member nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
Both the preamble and concluding articles (24 and 25) make plain that the OIC's Cairo Declaration is designed to supersede Western conceptions of human rights as enunciated, for example, in the U.S. Bill of Rights and the UN's 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The opening of the preamble to the Cairo Declaration repeats a Koranic injunction affirming Islamic supremacism (Koran 3:110; “You are the best nation ever brought forth to men ... you believe in Allah”), and states:
Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which Allah made the best nation ...
The preamble continues:
Believing that fundamental rights and universal freedoms in Islam are an integral part of the Islamic religion and that no one as a matter of principle has the right to suspend them in whole or in part or violate or ignore them in as much as they are binding divine commandments, which are contained in the Revealed Books of God and were sent through the last of His Prophets to complete the preceding divine messages thereby making their observance an act of worship and their neglect or violation an abominable sin, and accordingly every person is individually responsible -- and the Ummah collectively responsible -- for their safeguard.
In its last articles 24 and 25, the Cairo Declaration maintains:
[Article 24] All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia. ... [Article 25] The Islamic Sharia is the only source of reference for the explanation or clarification to any of the articles of this Declaration.
These statements capture the indelible influence of the Islamic religious law Sharia: the Cairo Declaration claiming supremacy based on “divine revelation,” which renders sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah and the infidels. Thus we can see clearly the differences between the Cairo Declaration, which sanctions the gross inequalities inherent in the Sharia, and its Western human rights counterparts (the U.S. Bill of Rights; the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights), which do not refer to any specific religion or to the superiority of any group over another, and stress the absolute equality of all human beings.
Enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights is the guarantee that laws may not be made that interfere with religion “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Absent the right to freedom of thought, or conscience, other rights such as the right to freedom of speech are rendered meaningless. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo reasoned elegantly in Palko v. Connecticut (1937):
Freedom of thought ... is the matrix, the indispensable condition, of nearly every other form of freedom. With rare aberrations a pervasive recognition of this truth can be traced in our history, political and legal.
This principle of freedom of conscience is also upheld in Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which further makes explicit the fundamental right to change one's religion:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.
The gravely negative implications of the OIC's Sharia-based Cairo Declaration are most apparent in its transparent rejection of freedom of conscience in Article 10, which proclaims:
Islam is the religion of unspoiled nature. It is prohibited to exercise any form of compulsion on man or to exploit his poverty or ignorance in order to convert him to another religion, or to atheism.
[19d] There shall be no crime or punishment except as provided for in the Sharia.
[22a] Everyone shall have the right to express his opinion freely in such manner as would not be contrary to the principles of the Sharia.
[22b] Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Sharia.
[22c] Information is a vital necessity to society. It may not be exploited or misused in such a way as may violate sanctities and the dignity of Prophets, undermine moral and ethical values or disintegrate, corrupt or harm society or weaken its faith.
Punishment by death for apostasy from Islam is firmly rooted in Islam's foundational texts, both the Koran (verses such as 2:217 , 4:89, and their classical exegesis by renowned Koranic commentators such as Qurtubi, Baydawi, Ibn Kathir, and Suyuti) and the hadith (i.e., collections of the putative words and deeds of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, as compiled by pious Muslim transmitters), as well as the sacred Islamic law (the Sharia). For example, Muhammad is reported to have said "kill him who changes his religion," in hadith collections of both Bukhari and Abu Dawud. There is also a consensus by all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i), as well as Shi'ite jurists, that apostates from Islam must be put to death. Averroes (d. 1198), the renowned philosopher and scholar of the natural sciences who was also an important Maliki jurist, provided this typical Muslim legal opinion on the punishment for apostasy:
An apostate ... is to be executed by agreement in the case of a man, because of the words of the Prophet, "Slay those who change their din [religion]." ... Asking the apostate to repent was stipulated as a condition ... prior to his execution.
The contemporary (i.e., 1991) Al-Azhar (Cairo) Islamic Research Academy-endorsed manual of Islamic Law, Umdat al-Salik (pp. 595-96), states:
Leaving Islam is the ugliest form of unbelief (kufr) and the worst. ... When a person who has reached puberty and is sane voluntarily apostasizes from Islam, he deserves to be killed. In such a case, it is obligatory ... to ask him to repent and return to Islam. If he does it is accepted from him, but if he refuses, he is immediately killed.
This doctrinal and historical legitimacy of Sharia-mandated killing of apostates from Islam is affirmed by Heffening in his scholarly review for the authoritative, mainstream academic reference work, the Encyclopedia of Islam:
In Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), there is unanimity that the male apostate must be put to death. ... A woman, on the other hand, is imprisoned ... until she again adopts Islam ... [or] she also is put to death.
As noted by historian David Littman, Adama Dieng, then a prominent Muslim Senegalese jurist, alerted the international community to the Cairo Declaration's profoundly dangerous impact, which under the rubric of Sharia deliberately restricted certain fundamental freedoms and rights -- most notably, freedom of conscience. He also argued that the Cairo Declaration introduced "in the name of defense of human rights," unacceptable discrimination against non-Muslims and women, while sanctioning the legitimacy of heinous practices -- Sharia-compliant punishments (from corporal punishments, to mutilation, and stoning) -- “which attack the integrity and dignity of the human being.”
Pew Survey data published August 13, 2009, reflects starkly the depth and prevalence of popular support among the Muslim masses for these hideous views, sanctioned by their theo-political Islamic leadership within the OIC, and contrary to our foundational Western freedoms. Specifically, the Pew findings reveal that among Pakistani Muslims:
78% favor death for [apostates] those who leave Islam; 80% favor whippings and cutting off hands for crimes like theft and robbery; and 83% favor stoning adulterers.
The universality of these Islamic attitudes affects Muslim communities in the West, including North America. Syed Mumtaz Ali, the late architect of Canada’s Sharia (Islamic Law) tribunal, and law professor Ali Khan both have openly advocated extending Islamic apostasy laws to the West. Mumtaz Ali, in a disturbing essay, affirmed the traditional Islamic legal viewpoint that apostates must “choose between Islam and the sword,” arguing further that if Canada were to act in accord with its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian government must grant the country's Islamic community authority to punish those Muslims who apostasize, or malign their faith.
Washburn University law professor Ali Khan, another practicing Muslim, provided a more original, but no less chilling rationale for Muslims in the West to violate, fatally, the basic freedom of conscience of their co-religionists. Khan argued in The Cumberland Law Review that apostasy from Islam is an “attack” upon “protected knowledge,” which if deemed (i.e., by some Islamic tribunal one must assume!) to be “open, hostile, and voiced contemptuously,” justified punishment by death. Ali Khan is convinced that traditional Islamic law precepts antipodean to freedom of conscience nevertheless trump this foundational Western freedom:
Islam is the truth beyond doubt. [These] rules preserve the dignity of protected knowledge, discouraging an "easy in, easy out" attitude toward Islam.
In April 2009 Harvard Muslim chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser explained approvingly to a Muslim student that the traditional Islamic practice of executing apostates from Islam remained both venerable and applicable:
There is great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment), and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human-rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.
The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America, consistent with modern fatwas published by Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), and other prominent, mainstream Muslim clerics in Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, and Malaysia, has also mandated lethal punishment for apostates from Islam. Their mission statement maintains:
[The organization was] founded to provide guidance for Muslims living in North America. ... AMJA is a religious organization that does not exploit religion to achieve any political ends, but instead provides practical solutions within the guidelines of Islam and the nation’s laws to the various challenges experienced by Muslim communities.
They further issued these rulings, in 2006 and 2009:
Dr. Hatem al-Haj 2006-04-17 As for the Sharia ruling, it is the punishment of killing for the man with the grand Four Fiqh Sharia scholars, and the same with the woman with the major Shari`ah scholars, and she is jailed with Al-Hanafiyyah scholars, as the prophet, prayers and peace of Allah be upon him, said: “Whoever a Muslim changes his/her religion, kill him/her”, and his saying: “A Muslim`s blood, who testifies that there is no god except Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah, is not made permissible except by three reasons: the life for the life; the married adulterer and the that who abandons his/her religion.”
Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah 2009-01-02 Under the authority of the Muslim state, the People of the Book have the right to stay on their belief without being compelled to embrace Islam. But if one of them has embraced Islam, it would not be acceptable from him to go back to his original religion. The same rule applies to those who are born into Muslim families. According to the Islamic Law, they cannot commit apostasy.
Dr. Main Khalid Al-Qudah 2009-04-10 As for the second one, the “people” in this hadith means either the apostates who had become Muslim and then retreated to disbelief thereafter, or the polytheists who do not attribute themselves to any divine religion. This second possible meaning has been mentioned in Imam Al-Nasa’i’s narration: “I have been commanded to fight against the polytheists until they ... ” In Islam, neither of these categories of people is allowed to remain on their religion. The fact that there is no compulsion in religion does not negate the other fact that someone who has embraced Islam cannot change his mind afterward and embrace polytheism.
The issuance of such “rulings” by a so-called council of Muslim jurists in North America -- antithetical to the protection of freedom of conscience enshrined in American law -- is mirrored by the overwhelming refusal of mainstream Islamic organizations to sign a simple, unequivocal pledge composed and distributed one year ago by ex-Muslims living in America:
To repudiate the threat from authoritative Sharia to the religious freedom and safety of former Muslims.
Sadly, the OIC may find fertile grounds for any planned Islamization campaign in America, spearheaded by like-minded American Muslims.