Flamesem and Japesem (The Gates of Conservative Ijtihad Are Closed!)

If a politician mocked the Lord’s Prayer in an attack on sexually abusive Priests, in a manner that insulted all Christians; if a politician sneered at the Kaddish while describing civilian casualties of Israeli military operations, insulting all Jews…

The individuals who hijacked two airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center towers shouted, “Allahu Akhbar”. The individuals who will attend the mosque would offer up like praise of “Allahu Akhbar”. The individuals who detonate suicide vests, behead school teachers and headmasters, throw acid on little girls trying to attend school, and fire rockets into Israel shout, “Allahu Akhbar”.

Lt. Col. (Ret) Allen West

I can’t help but find the non-American standard punctuation further symptomatic of the decline of American conservatism.  For shame!  That West is a star on the Tea Party right, regularly sending crowds into patrio-erotic paroxysms, tells you, if not quite everything… a lot.  That Andrew C. McCarthy un-self-consciously publishes the above at The Corner, un-criticized, unquestioned, tells you still more…


Nor is Rauf exactly full-throated in his rejection of terrorism, offering only this: “The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.”

Nor are the editors of the National Review exactly honest, well even honest at all, when they suggest that Rauf’s statement is the “only” thing he’s ever had to say about, or against, terrorism.

[H]e finds it easy to blame the United States for being a victim of terrorism: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.”

The editors find it easy to read Rauf’s mind, easy to assume that readers will, like them, draw the precise opposite sense from the comment than the one clearly intended, and will remain ignorant of its actual verbal context, ignorant of historical context, and ignorant of the fact that it was said nearly 10 years ago and not, as implied, in reference to any current events or discussion.  Moral superiority is so easy when moral standards apply only to the person you seek to indict.

As National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy has documented, Rauf’s book, published in the West as What’s Right with Islam Is What’s Right with America, had a significantly different title abroad: A Call to Prayer from the World Trade Center Rubble: Islamic Dawa in the Heart of America Post-9/11. “Dawa” means Islamic proselytizing, a process that ends in the imposition of sharia.

Andrew C. McCarthy has documented all sorts of things, but mainly has worked to document Andrew C. McCarthy’s belief that, unlike Christians, Jews, Atheists, Satanists, and Republicans, Muslims don’t have a right in the United States of America to urge others to become Muslims.

We appeal, instead, to the sense of decency of the American Muslim community, and to its patriotism.

How about if I appeal to the sense of decency of the indecent American conservative community whom I would prefer to see stamped out or at least rigorously constrained, and boycotted until so constrained, and to the patriotism of those whose belief system I have repeatedly declared fundamentally, absolutely, and irremediably incompatible with our way of life?


I don’t do revisionism, relativism, nor deconstruction.

But at least you do comedy!

There are certain facts in history that are immutable from which we must take objective lessons…

…immune forever from revision, comparison, analysis, and all other infectious intellectual diseases.

The insistence upon a perfectly insulated narrative, to be received as obligatory and unalterable, is the opposite of discussion, however many words the exposition may take up, and regardless of the particular origins of its fundamentalism.


If we view our jobs as opinion journalists as trying to nudge the median voter in the direction of virtue, then I’m quite happy with the balance of American opinion on the mosque. I’m happy that we wrote that editorial and that it’s part of the debate. Happy too that religious tolerance and property rights are part of the debate.

Life’s really worth living/ When you are mirth giving… and when you’re not responsible for the content of your views, only responsible for offering them… unless you’re Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, in which case you’re responsible for everything you’ve ever said or done, in uncomprehended whole and incomprehensible part, as well as everything said or done by everyone connected to you, connected to anyone connected to you, connected to anyone suspected of being connected to you…

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25 comments on “Flamesem and Japesem (The Gates of Conservative Ijtihad Are Closed!)

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  1. That’s good CK, a campaign to spread awareness of Salafism in lower Manhattan, you compare to the term for the Armenian genocide by the young Turks, dialed it right up to 11, Yes technically, it means
    ‘cleansing’ but much like the word crusade, the meaning has become

  2. Ittihad ≠ Ijtihad

    Ittihad = a word for group or union or even team – I wasn’t familiar with it until now – with an interesting political history, but a rather benign parallel history as well. It refers to, say, soccer teams in Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. (that have no generally known connection to genocide). In the Turkic political sphere, it seems to have had at one time a very similar sense to that of the Italian word “fascio,” which was originally a neutral term for “group,” but eventually became the root word for a particular type of political practice and a set of interrelated ideological stances.

    It doesn’t seem to have much to do with Ijtihad. The material in block quotes is from the Wikipedia entry:

    Ijtihad = the Arabic word for “interpretation” – or, to be more precise ”

    a technical term of Islamic law that describes the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the legal sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

    It has a very interesting etymology and set of connotations:

    The word derives from the three-letter Arabic verbal root of ج-ﻫ-د j-h-d (jahada, “struggle”), the same root as that of jihad; the t is inserted because the word is a derived stem VIII verb. The shared etymology is worth noting, as both words touch on the concepts of struggle or effort. In the case of form VIII verbs, this means to “struggle with oneself”, as through deep thought. Ijtihad is a method of legal reasoning that does not rely on the traditional schools of jurisprudence (madhabs).

    Your confusion on this allusion suggests to me that you don’t always read the posts you react to. “The Gates of Ijtihad Are Closed” is a famous statement referring to the Ghazalian foreclosure of new independent interpretation of Islamic doctrine. I discussed it in connection to oceanaris’ dual Ghazalianism: oceanaris seems to be as Ghazalian about his own beliefs as he is about Islamic ones, and apparently cannot imagine a valid orientation toward his own beliefs or toward beliefs in general that is other than “closed” in this way, thus his hostility to “revisionism, relativism, and deconstruction,” three typical modes of attacking intellectual authoritarianism.

    (I’m using a simplistic, vulgar, and reductive definition of what I’m calling Ghazalianism, since my understanding of Ghazali is based almost entirely on secondary/summary literature. Yet the historical-intellectual drama and turning point described by Ansary and others looks very right to me. If I wasn’t having a Hegel Summer, I might have a Ghazali/Rushd Summer instead.)

  3. Who said it was about Sufism?

    What’s tedious is that you’re stuck on your own personal determination to expose the threat, yet refuse or are unable to engage seriously on any other aspect of the discussion, or for that matter to view the threat in any context other than a very limited one, tied to a notion you can never quite nail down, but in which you seem to pretend to possess a greater command of all potentially security- and safety-related issues than the NYC police and others in positions of responsibility.

    And I really don’t know why you bathe your brain in material of the kind at that link.

  4. Sufism is what he styles himself as, even though he seems to hang around and is sponsored by all manner of Hambali of the Deobandi
    (Pappa Khan) and Wahhabi variety (the Xenel and other members of the Golden Chain) Then again the virulent Tea Party militia seems to be your concern these days, facts having little to do with it

  5. Listen here, Don Q, we is a libral site nowadays, and nothing that Rosset lady says changes a darned thing. She’s obvious one of them there right wing Slamophebes, and probably Rosset is some kinda Jewish name, right? And Forbes is one of them big moneyed Jewish interests magazine too, right?

    We are a libral site now, so shut up. Shut up because, as librals, we insist that the world should be just like we imagine it to be, and, if we say Islamists are mostly moderate, good natured paragons of virtue, that’s what they are, and never mind all the celebrations of 3000 Americans murdered, they wus just throwing all that candy around because 9/11 coincided with give your kids a fistfull of candy day on the Moslem Calendar, OK.

  6. @ Appeasers For Peace:

    who was throwing candy, ‘peaser-brain?
    was it the people applying for permission to build Corboda House or totally different people?

    if you write juvie crap such as that, does it mean that everyone related to you by blood, friendship, religion or proximity is likely to be simple and silly?

    this isn’t a question of liberal or conservative, it’s a question of whether the Bill of Rights applies to all Americans or not.

  7. Who among the world leaders is most engaged in mockery? It is Ahmadinejad, who is reviving the old old myth that no Jews (he calls them “Zionists”) were present in the Twin Towers on 9/11. He also adds that there is no list of victims, which is quite obviously untrue.


    Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda have claimed credit for 9/11 and called it a great and glorious victory for Islam. Ahmadinejad is suggesting that the Jews did it. I suppose he thinks that since Islam is great and good, 9/11 was a wonderful act of skill and courage, and since Jews are evil and conniving, murdering people is something they would naturally do. There is no contradiction between the claims that it was a great Muslim victory and the work of the evil Jews.
    I personally know a Jew who was in the towers that day but got out alive. A surprisingly large number of the students and staff at the College of Staten Island, where I taught, had (non-Jewish) relatives who died on 9/11. My daughter Eve personally knew a Jew who died there that day. The New York Times has published a list–with photographs–of the victims, many of whom have Jewish-sounding surnames. Denying that the deaths occurred, blaming the victims for the murders, and allying oneself with those terrorists who gloat over their glorious victory is serious mockery indeed.

  8. @ Fuster:

    I am mentioning Ahmadinejad because the post we are responding to raised the issue of mocking.
    Incidentally, it also brought up the question of non-American standard punctuation, referring, no doubt, to the practice of placing periods after closing quotation marks–as is done in Britain. My reaction to that is: punctuation–shmunctuation.

  9. miguel cervantes wrote:

    As for the other claim

    thanks for the sad news.

    now if you would be so good as to connect “Malathir Mohamed of the Perdana initiative” to a candy-passing celebration of the WTC disaster and to some position in the Cordoba Initiative?
    I didn’t notice his name on their website.

  10. all members of all the branches of the Orthodox Church are not fit to be in this country. they leech off our freedoms, avoid paying their fair share of taxes, speak a bunch of unAmerican languages, and write things in some funny-looking code.
    they dress stupid, smell bad, and their sexual practices both spread disease and are extremely disrespectful of the rights of livestock.

    Why hasn’t anybody from that so-called Church you’re getting all boo-hoo about said anything about this?

    you throwing in with this bunch of bigots and murderers?

  11. Although I think building a mosque there is rude and insensitive and in bad taste, it is not the end of the world. I have to wonder, though.

    IF a small group of fanatical Christians had killed thousands of Hindus or Moslems in Mumbai, and the attempt to build a church in the vicinity would rile up the locals and cause angry op-eds in the papers there, which side would you come down on?

    Would you not say that Christians have to respect their sensitivities, given what happened? Now, be honest. What else would you say? It´s what I would say. We would be telling them that courting controversy is ill-advised. We would talk about wedges being driven in, and unnecessary provocation.

    Now you will say that America isn´t India. Well, they are both large, multiethnic democracies. There are differences: In India we would expect bloodshed and might tell the Church-builders not to be surprised when it happens.

    There is a big difference between making a legalistic argument that in America Muslims have a right to build Mosques for themselves, and smearing the opponents of such a provocation as barely human (well, American). It was a foregone conclusion that this mosque would be contentious and the Imam knew it as well as you or I. That cannot puzzle anyone, from which follows that your attitude does puzzle me.

  12. El Gordo wrote:

    IF a small group of fanatical Christians had killed thousands of Hindus or Moslems in Mumbai, and the attempt to build a church in the vicinity would rile up the locals and cause angry op-eds in the papers there, which side would you come down on?

    You know, that’s a very odd analogy to select – aside from the fanciful notion that a group of fanatical Christians might spring up essentially out of nowhere in India – especially when you consider that we have Christian missionaries of different types active throughout the world, including in places where not just small groups of fanatical Christians, but the full force of Christian civilization has massively disrupted entire nations – slavery, genocide, colonization and resource larceny, military support for fantastically oppressive and kleptocratic regimes, and on and on, with an incalculable cost to local life and limb – and yet we still, and rightly, support the notion that Christians in those nations should be welcomed, that their message should be heard, that they should be treated with respect, that they should not as individuals be held responsible for what others did “in the name of” their religion, their values, their cultures, their interests.

    As for what I would say, it would all depend on the actual facts, not the fancies. 10 years after an attack by weirdo Christian lunatics in Mumbai of all places, I would expect a delegation of mainstream Christians who denounced and opposed Christian terrorist fanaticism to be treated with respect, and, if there was an active community of Christians in the vicinity, to be allowed to build a community center with house of worship.

    I won’t speculate about how the people of other religions might act, since so much would depend on so many other factors that your analogy doesn’t allow us to take into account. However, as a general rule, if those resisting a particular religious expression or personage stir up hatred against all believers on the basis of the actions of a few, then I’ll oppose that opposition, regardless of the proximate cause of whatever controversy, or its location. That has been the main cause of my disgust with the conservative movement on this issue. My feelings might change some, perhaps from disgust to mere disagreement, if a single major voice in the rightwing opposition to the GZ Mosque rebuked Pamela Geller, Andy McCarthy, Allen West, Rick Barber, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, et al for the paranoia and hatred they’ve stirred up and sought to exploit. Instead, at National Review, the Weekly Standard, at HotAir outside of yours truly when I was still blogging there: Silence, other than the occasional apology to stirred-up e-mailers for not denouncing Islam in even stronger terms.

    For instance, we have a number of people just on this little thread on this little blog who have disagreed with me or sought to insult me. Not one has looked at the Allen West quote, and the context – NRO/The Corner, day after their vicious and dishonest editorial – and said, “Yes, that’s wrong,” and that NR should be ashamed of itself for promoting it.

    The problem that the GZM opposition has is that they can’t defend their position through reason and an appeal to authentic American values. Sooner or later they always stand on a pathological fear and hatred of Muslims – Islamophobia – “understandable” or not. It alone seems to explain why we have a Muslim leader and his associates asking to join the national community in the interest of mutual understanding and acceptance, and making a strong gesture against the sectarianism of the people who really are responsible for 9/11, but being rejected and denounced in terms which, if he were to recognize them, would be to admit that he, his beliefs, and his community really were offensive, indecent, and dangerous.

  13. He means nothing of the kind CK, just like the folks at the Levick group that demonized American military and personnel in order to absolve the Gitmo detainees, like Al Shehri, Rubbaish, al Ajmi, et al.

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