Monday, January 21, 2008

Dhimmi in America

Is there a more intolerant religion on earth than Islam?

Do you remember the Muslim cabbies at the Minneapolis airport refusing to pick up passengers who were carrying bottles of alcohol? Incidents like this are multiplying. Consider this report in Britain's Daily Mail of a Muslim cashier refusing to serve a customer who wished to buy a Bible story book.

A Muslim store worker at Marks & Spencer refused to serve a customer buying a children's book on biblical stories because she said it was "unclean". Sally Friday, a customer at a branch of one of the famous stores, felt publicly humiliated when she tried to pay for First Bible Stories as a gift for her young grandson. When the grandmother put the book on the counter, the assistant refused to touch it, declared it was unclean and then summoned another member of staff to deal with the purchase.

In case you are wondering, no Mosques have been burned by Christians in the wake of this offense, and no Christian has threatened any Muslim with death.

In a surprisingly self-critical gesture, Inayat Bunglawala, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said, "This appears to be a very regrettable incident and the 'unclean' remark was clearly very offensive and unacceptable. Many Biblical stories complement the teachings of the Koran. We hope that M&S will investigate this incident."

A reader of JihadWatch adds this insightful observation on Bunglawala's attempt to quiet any fears this incident might provoke over the implications of increasing numbers of Muslims living among us.

The slithery Inayat Bunglawala pretends to share our indignation here, but he can't keep it up without revealing his world-view. Note the last comment: "Many Biblical stories complement the teachings of the Koran." Why is that relevant? What if the Bible stories did not, in his view, "complement the teachings of the Koran"? Do those stories only have value, and are only to be protected, or treated neutrally (and refusing to touch a book, calling it "unclean" is not treating it neutrally) because they may, as he puts it "complement the teachings of the Koran"?
He draws out further implications of this incident:

One final query. Is it right and proper for non-Muslim clerks to handle a Koran? Or should they refrain from handling it, lest by their own "unclean" status--"najis" in the list provided at the Shia cleric Al-Sistani's website--they sully that book? In other words, would Muslims make clear to non-Muslims how we are to treat the Qur'an? Do we touch it, or not touch it? Do we wear gloves, or not wear gloves? Do we tug at our forelocks with one hand, or bow slightly if we are boys and curtsey if we are girls? What do we do with the Qur'an? And do the same rules apply to a collection, say by Al-Bukhari or Muslim, of the Hadith? Tell us. Infidel youth wants to know. Lest we offend.

Among the same comments, I thought this rumor was quite plausible:

It would also be worth checking where and how the Muslim employees arrange books on the shelves. We have read reports of other stores arranging books to ensure that the Qur'an is stored on shelves higher than books for other religions. We have also read reports that books critical of Islam are not kept in view in some bookstores, but are only available in the back, out of sight.

In view of all the experience that Europe is accumulating with this interesting social experiment, I would like to see an objective and extensive study of the implications of having a significant minority of these strictly legalistic and intolerant people living in a generally secular and tolerant society, with reflections on what is likely to be America's relationship with its Muslim minority in this coming century. I suggest the title, Dhimmi in America: The Twenty-first Century Tocqueville.

There is a much lower concentration of Muslims in America than there is in Europe, and they are more moderate, more reconciled with the American way of life. Nonetheless, we are seeing greater emphasis on Sharia compliant investments, Halal foods (the Muslim version of Kosher) and demands for accomodations of this sort. We are seeing hints here of what is a real problem in Europe: the Muslim minority insisting that the whole of Western society recognize that there is no God but Allah and conform to his Koranic law.

Incidentally, in my view the book is blasphemous because it displays images of Christ in violation of the second commandment. This is a traditional Protestant view (Westminster Larger Catechism Question 109: What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?), though not widely accepted these days. But while I would reason with anyone on the subject, it is not my place to force compliance with that view upon my neighbors. If I could not in good conscience do what I was being paid to do by processing the sale (that would not be a problem), I would find another job. Do Muslims of this sort want to be hired for various jobs only to demand that those jobs be changed in order to acomodate them? As a Christian I know that if you are going to be faithful to your God in a world that does not recognize him certain freedoms that your neighbors enjoy will be closed to you. Perhaps it is a line of employment or perhaps a recreation. If our society were more culturally Christian as it used to be, life for a conscientiously Biblical Christian would be a lot easier. But a Christian may not demand that a non-Christian society make his religion easy and free of sacrifice. The same is true for Muslims.

I can take this view because Christianity, understood Biblically, is based on the grace of God and the re-orientation of the heart toward God. By contrast, Islam is not grace (God sovereignly working in the spiritually helpless heart of the undeserving sinner), but law ("You need to be perfect. This is how to do it. Get going, or else!"). It does not pertain fundamentally to the heart, but to outward action, i.e. outward conformity to that law. Hence, if a Muslim converts to another religion, Muslim authorities can threaten the apostate with death if he does not convert back again within three days. Such threats would make no sense coming from Christians. (Yes, the Roman Catholic Church threatened Protestant "heretics" in this way, but Medieval Roman Catholicism was more like Islam than it was like Biblical Christianity. That's why had a Reformation.) Christianity and Islam are not just two different "faiths." The one is a faith; the other is a law. Accordingly, there are political implications for the decline of the former and the rise of the latter among us. Gene Edward Veith had a helpful reflection on this in the wake of the looting in Baghdad following the fall of Saddam Hussein ("Heart Problems," WORLD May 3, 2003).

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