Zakat is not about charity, but jihad. (Andrew McCarthy)
In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation,” President Obama claimed during his 2009 Cairo speech. “That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfillÂ zakat.”
This statement contained two falsehoods. One, as I’ve previously detailed, was obvious: There are, in fact, no American laws or rules that make it harder for Muslims to give to charity. What we have are laws against material support of terrorism â€” against using devices like charitable fronts to channel money to jihadists. Those laws are not directed at Muslims. They apply to everyone but are applied most often to Muslims, because Muslims carry out most anti-American terrorism.
The other falsehood was more subtle: the president’s suggestion that the religious obligation ofÂ zakat â€” one of the “five pillars of Islam” â€” is the equivalent of “charitable giving.” It is not.Â Zakat is every Muslim’s obligation to contribute to the fortification of theÂ ummah, the notional worldwide Islamic nation. And that very much includes the funding of violent jihad against non-Muslims.
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Islam the solution to high prices? Yes, and we can cure your asthma too….
When an earthquake devastated Haiti last year, the West, led as always by the Great Satan, instantly opened its heart and pocketbook. Within days, as the Foundation for Defense of Democracy’s Claudia Rosett reported, the U.S. government had pledged $90 million in public funds, 44 percent of the total anted up by governments worldwide. That was just a fraction of the true American contribution. Despite a deep recession and widespread unemployment, private citizens contributed tens of millions of dollars to the relief efforts. In addition, our armed forces mobilized to provide food, medical treatment, and other humanitarian aid. Untold additional millions in American aid backed relief efforts by the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the World Bank. The economic downturn was global, but still European, Canadian, Japanese, and South American governments and citizens also donated millions.
What of the world’s Muslims? Over the same period of time, they accounted for a whopping 0.1 percent of the total donations committed by governments â€” basically, a rounding error for a Saudi sheikh’s weekend in Vegas. Drawing a telling contrast, Ms. Rosett noted that the House of Saud’s annual contribution to ICRC operations in 2008 came to a grand total of $216,460 â€” less than a penny per Saudi, though quite generous compared with the $50,000 kicked in by Iran, whose population is three times larger. By contrast, the United States gave $237.8 million.
How could it be that the oil-drenched realm ofÂ zakat â€“ of what we are to believe is obligatory benevolence â€” lags so embarrassingly behind Dar al-Greed? Very simple:Â Zakat is not “charity” as we understand that term.
Muslims are taught that charity means Muslims aiding Muslims, for the purpose of fortifying and extending theÂ ummah until all the world is Islam’s domain. “Of their wealth, take alms,” instructs Allah in the Koran (9:103), “that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them.” Thus,zakat may be given only to Muslims.
Reliance of the Traveller: The Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law(Umdat al-Salik) was compiled by the renowned Muslim jurisprudent Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri in the 14th century. It is the most authoritative source on the subject of sharia (Islamic law), having been certified by al-Azhar University in Cairo â€” the font of Sunni learning â€” as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.” In fact, when an English edition ofÂ Reliance (now available through Amazon.com) was published in 1994, it won gushing praise from the government of Saudi Arabia (where sharia is the only law), as well as the governments of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, all of which incorporate sharia in their legal systems.Â Reliance is quite blunt on the matter: “It is not permissible to giveÂ zakat to a non-Muslim.”
Andrew McCarthy: More On Koran Burning
Jonah, my problem with the Koran burning stunt is that it is counterproductive. I hear what you’re saying about decency. But on that score, I don’t find the burning any more offensive in principle than I do its opposite extreme: the bizarro hyper-reverence with which the Koran is handled by the Defense Department.
Down at Gitmo, the Defense Department gives the Koran to each of the terrorists even though DoD knows they interpret it (not without reason) to command them to kill the people who gave it to them. To underscore ourÂ precious sensitivity to Muslims, standard procedure calls for the the book to be handled only by Muslim military personnel. Sometimes, though, that is not possible for various reasons. If, as a last resort, one of our non-Muslim troops must handle or transport the book, he must wear white gloves, and he is further instructed primarily to use the right hand (indulging Muslim culture’s taboo about the sinister left hand). The book is to be conveyed to the prisoners in a “reverent manner” inside a “clean dry towel.” This is a nod to Islamic teaching that infidels are so low a form of life that they should not be touched (as Ayatollah Ali SistaniÂ teaches, non-Muslims are “considered in the same category as urine, feces, semen, dead bodies, blood, dogs, pigs, alcoholic liquors,” and “the sweat of an animal who persistently eats [unclean things].”
This is every bit as indecent as torching the Koran, implicitly endorsing as it does the very dehumanization of non-Muslims that leads to terrorism. Furthermore, there is hypocrisy to consider:Â the Defense Department now piously condemning Koran burning is the same Defense Department thatÂ itself did not give a second thought toÂ confiscating and burning bibles in Afghanistan.
Quite consciously, U.S. commanders ordered this purge in deference to sharia proscriptions against the proselytism of faiths other than Islam. And asÂ General Petraeus well knows, his chain of command is not the only one destroying bibles. Non-Muslim religious artifacts, including bibles, are torched or otherwise destroyed in Islamic countries every single day as a matter of standard operating procedure. (See, e.g., myÂ 2007 post on Saudi government guidelines that prohibit Jews and Christians from bringing bibles, crucifixes, Stars of David, etc., into the country â€” and, of course, not just non-Muslim accessories but non-Muslim people areÂ barred from entering Mecca and most of Medina, based on the classical interpretation of an injunction found in what Petraeus is fond of calling the Holy Qur’an (sura 9:28: “Truly the pagans are unclean . . . so let them not . . . approach the sacred mosque”).
I don’t like book burning either, but I think there are different kinds of book burnings. One is done for purposes of censorship â€” the attempt to purge the world of every copy of a book to make it as if the sentiments expressed never existed. A good modern example is Cambridge University Press’s shameful pulping of all known copies ofÂ Alms for Jihad(see Stanley’sÂ 2007 post on that). The other kind of burning is done as symbolic condemnation. That’s what I think Terry Jones was doing. He knows he doesn’t have the ability to purge the Koran from the world, and he wasn’t trying to. He was trying to condemn some of the ideas that are in it â€” or maybe he really thinks the whole thing is condemnable.
This is a particularly aggressive and vivid way to express disdain, but I don’t know that it is much different in principle from orally condemning some of the Koran’s suras and verses. Sura 9 of the Koran, for example, states the supremacist doctrine that commands Muslims to kill and conquer non-Muslims (e.g., 9:5: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) . . .”; 9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the last day, nor hold forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the people of the Book [i.e., the Jews and Christians], until they pay theÂ jizya [i.e., the tax paid for the privilege of living as dhimmis under the protection of the sharia state] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”). I must say, I’ve got a much bigger problem with the people trying to comply with those commands than with the guy who burns them.
I think the big problem with what Jones did is the gratuitous insult to all Muslims, including the millions who do not subscribe to the violent jihadist or broader Islamist construction of Islamic scripture. They have found some way to rationalize the incendiary scriptures â€” and if it works for them, who the hell am I to say they’re wrong? They are our natural allies in this battle, and as I’ve often pointed out, without their help, we could not have done things like infiltrate the Blind Sheikh’s terror cell, gather vital intelligence, thwart terrorist attacks, and refine trial evidence into compelling proof.
These people regard the Koran as the most important of their scriptures. When someone burns the Koran in an act of indiscriminate, wholesale condemnation, the message to them is that their belief system is incorrigible. Freedom of speech means that we have to allow that argument to be made, and I’m not entirely sure it’s wrong. But good Muslim people give us reason to hope that what ails Islam can be reformed. I don’t see the upside in alienating those people. I think you can condemn the condemnable aspects of the Koran without condemning everything. But that’s just my opinion, and Mr. Jones is as entitled to his as I am to mine. And for what it’s worth, I doubt my opinion would be much more popular than his in Mazar-e-Sharif.