Hatem Bazian's Latest "ISIS Is Not Islamic Piece"

Gary Fouse

Hatem Bazian is a professor at UC Berkeley. When he is not agitating and making public speeches against Israel, he is complaining about Islamophobia. That means that part of his job description entails convincing the rest of us that the atrocities being committed by ISIS  have nothing to do with Islam. That leads him to write this latest piece for Lamp Post Productions, a site for American Muslim scholars and activists.


In this piece, Bazian condemns ISIS for their acts especially focusing on their practice of using sexual slavery of Yazidis and others. he criticizes their use of Islamic texts to justify their crimes. At the end, he goes into his predictable references of Western slavery, the invasion of Iraq, the of companies and yes,- those neo-cons like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pearle.

First of all, to the casual reader you might want to applaud Bazian for his strong condemnation of ISIS and their horrible acts. Yet, I note that only late in the article does he even mention the Qu'ran, preferring the term "classical sources". I would take that to mean the Ku'ran, the hadith and the sunnah. He also uses the term "Prophetic tradition", which I would take to mean the hadith and sunnah. Nowhere does he use the name Mohammad. Is he trying to avoid the reader thinking about what Mohammad would say or do about such practices? He does admit that the Qu'ran neither explicitly condones or condemns slavery, but conveniently omits those references to "those that your right hand possess", references to a Muslim man having sex with captive/slave women.

Another point that Bazian omits is that Mohammad is considered the ideal man by Muslims. Whatever Mohammad did is the ideal to strive for. The Qu'ran is the word of Allah according to Muslims, transmitted to Mohammad the Messenger through the angel Gabriel (Jibril). And those references to the 55 Islamic countries that outlaw slavery? What Bazian forgets to mention are the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Northern Sudan, which both still practice slavery-the only two countries in the world to do so. Thus, the following quote from the article is not completely true.

"The sources from the past are still available, with extensive records of cases pertaining to slavery, but the first question that must be asked is, what is the present-day ruling on slavery in the Muslim world? Slavery is prohibited, and only ISIS and its followers are calling for it to be brought back." 

And if Bazian thinks that only ISIS is engaging in rape and atrocities against non-Muslims, he might want to speak to non-Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, Libya, Iran and many other Islamic countries where non-Muslim minorities are being persecuted-not to the extent of the Islamic State, but persecuted nonetheless. The plain fact is that in the Middle East as a whole, there is a systematic program of genocide against Christians in progress, which seems to have eluded Bazian's notice.

But to Bazian, in the end, it is always the fault of the West and the US in particular that the Islamic world is in flames. To be fair, it is not unreasonable to argue a causal connection between our overthrow of Saddam Hussein and ISIS. But what would have happened had the Iraqis themselves overthrown Saddam?  The Libyans (albeit with Western help) overthrew Qaddafi, and look at the result there. What will follow in Syria if and when Assad falls? If ISIS prevails, will that be solely the fault of the West? 

And as to those references to Wolfowitz, Pearle and the "neo-cons', Bazian knows full well this is code language for-you guessed it- the Jews.  As the Nazis used to say, "der ewige Jude"-the eternal Jew.  Of course this is the same man who reportedly told a college audience a few years ago they should count the Jewish names on the campus buildings. This is the same man who once called for an intifada in the US.

Nobody wants to hold all Muslims accountable for ISIS. Yet we cannot ignore what is happening to Christians, Yazidis, Shia and others who are being butchered like cattle in the Middle East in the very name of Islam. We have every right to discuss this phenomenon and the origins of Islam to figure out why this is happening and why we are all at risk. It is not enough to condemn the savagery of ISIS. Bazian tells us not to blame Islam. Then who are we to blame as more and more Western Muslims answer the call to join this evil movement called ISIS? If you read the "classical texts" and the "Prophetic tradition", you just might conclude that ISIS is following the pure Islam as Mohammad saw it the day he died.

Bazian concedes that Muslims throughout history have practiced slavery and rape,( as have followers of other religions). Yet he contends that their rationalizations for these actions based on religious texts are erroneous. Unfortunately, ISIS can point to specific verses and sayings in the Qu'ran, hadith and sunnah that provide their "justifications" . But in a broader sense, can we not agree that when an ideology demonizes and de-humanizes groups of people (as the Qu'ran, hadith and sunnah do with non-Muslims) then murder and other violations of human rights are only a step away?

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