Spencer: Another phony interfaith dialoguer

H/T Dorrie


Akbar Ahmed, advocate of “dialogue,” claims “Islamophobes” are “linking Islam to violence, terrorism and intolerance”

Spencer: Akbar Ahmed is the quintessential example of a “moderate” Muslim engaging in “dialogue” with Infidels who have no idea of what his goals for that “dialogue” really are. This article, however, is unintentionally revealing.

“Interfaith dialogue: ‘Dialogue of civilisations’ key to global harmony,”

by Aroosa Shaukat for the Express Tribune, December 3:

Trying to get two sides to engage in a meaningful dialogue is “like standing in the middle of the road, with people attacking you from both ends,” said author and academic Dr Akbar Salahuddin Ahmed as he discussed his efforts to raise awareness about Islam in the West, at a lecture here at Forman Christian College on Monday.

Dr Ahmed is currently the Ibn-e-Khaldoon chair of Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington and has written several books about interfaith dialogue. His lecture at Sinclair Hall, titled ‘Building bridges over troubled waters’, is part of a series on interfaith harmony being organised by the Centre for Dialogue and Action.

Spencer: It’s interesting that Ahmed holds the Ibn-e-Khaldoon chair. Ibn-e-Khaldoon, or Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), is renowned today for his pioneering historical works. But it is doubtful that the authorities at the American University in Washington know that in his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, Ibn Khaldun wrote that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.” Unless the chair was named by Akbar Ahmed or people who share his point of view, it was probably named by people who assumed that Ibn Khaldun was a “moderate,” and would be shocked to learn that he was an advocate of jihad. This is particularly fitting since Akbar Ahmed himself is not what he is generally assumed to be.

“Building bridges”: Such bridges are all too often just proselytizing mechanisms to convert them to Islam, not an attempt to engage in genuine dialogue – as the Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb explained: “The chasm between Islam and Jahiliyyah [the society of unbelievers] is great, and a bridge is not to be built across it so that the people on the two sides may mix with each other, but only so that the people of Jahiliyyah may come over to Islam.”

Is this what Akbar Ahmed is trying to do? There are several indications that it is indeed. Read on.

Dr Ahmed said it was vital to understand the need for a platform for interfaith dialogue in a highly polarised world. There were two main narratives regarding current global events in the media, he said. One described a clash of civilisations and the other a dialogue of civilisations, with the former gaining wider acceptance after the attack on America on September 11, 2001.

Ignoring geographic, ethnic, and sectarian differences, he said, the clash of civilisations narrative lumped the entire Muslim world on one side against the whole of Western civilisation on the other. “So basically it comes down to Islam and the West, which I find highly simplistic and reductionist,” he added.

Dr Ahmed said that he had initiated interfaith dialogues in mosques and churches in the United States after 9/11. “There were people linking Islam to violence, terrorism, and intolerance,” he said. “I simply could not be a silent spectator in this debate, either as a Muslim or as a scholar.”

Spencer: This is a very common Islamic supremacist tactic to try to deflect attention away from the numerous calls to hatred of and violence against Infidels by Muslim clerics: to claim that non-Muslim foes of jihad and Islamic supremacism are “linking Islam to violence, terrorism, and intolerance” in some unacceptable and illegitimate way, when all that they’re really doing is reporting on how Muslim clerics link Islam to violence, terrorism, and intolerance. By speaking this way Akbar Ahmed is ignoring the fact that Islamic jihadists link Islam to violence every day by pointing to the Qur’an and Sunnah to justify their terrorist acts, and pretending that the only connection between Islam and violence is being made by “Islamophobes” — a disingenuous practice that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also follows in its attempt to intimidate the West into criminalizing all criticism of Islam so that the jihad can advance unopposed and unimpeded. That Akbar Ahmed would indulge in this cynical sleight-of-hand also is not a promising indication of his “moderate” bona fides.

Some in the US media attacked him for trying to build bridges between Islam and the West, he said, particularly ‘Islamophobes’ like Robert Spencer and Pamela Gellar [sic] who had built reputations on attacking the religion after the September 11 attacks, he said. He was called a “Muslim apologist” and criticised in some newspaper editorials.

Spencer: I never attacked Akbar Ahmed for “trying to build bridges between Islam and the West” as such, and neither did Pamela Geller. I attacked him for his inaccurate and misleading characterizations of Islamic teaching and the current situation. In 2006, I was interviewed by Brian Lamb for C-Span; then, in an extraordinary manuever I have never seen done for any other interview of anyone, before he ran his interview with me, Lamb taped a show with Ahmed, devoted entirely to playing my interview bit-by-bit and having Ahmed set the record straight about my “errors” and the true, peaceful Islam. C-Span ran the Ahmed show commenting on my interview a week before it ran my interview itself; ever since then I’ve always referred to my C-Span interview as my “pre-refuted interview.”

As you can see here, during his segment Ahmed keeps sidestepping the problems with how jihadists use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism. When Lamb asks him about the violent passages in the Qur’an, he starts talking about Rumi and says nothing about the specific problematic passages of the Qur’an at all. He sidesteps a great deal more as well — not a sign of a man who is genuinely interested in honest dialogue.

And as for dialogue, when Lamb asks Ahmed if he has seen a documentary I was in, Islam: What the West Needs to Know, Ahmed responds: “I know the work of Dr. Spencer and I know a lot of these arguments because I’ve been a scholar of Islam for the last several decades. So, I’m very aware with all my friends and colleagues. And we interact with them. We debate. We discuss.” But this was patently dishonest, as he has for years now ignored my numerous invitations to “debate” and “discuss,” which I conveyed personally to some of his students, as well as through emails and Jihad Watch posts. And in those years he has gone from calling me a “distinguished scholar,” as he does on C-Span, to calling me an “Islamophobe” — another alarm bell, since “Islamophobia” is a propaganda construct, designed to intimidate people into thinking there is something wrong and bigoted with resisting jihad terror and Islamic supremacism. Even worse, Ahmed has even blamed the “radicalization” of New York jihad bomb plotters on “Islamophobia,” as if resistance to jihad terror is what causes jihad terror.

That a disingenuous Islamic supremacist like Akbar Ahmed would be so widely feted and respected as a “moderate” is yet another indication of how confused, compromised, and cowed the West is today.

Posted by Robert Spencer on December 6, 2013 4:26 PM | 14 Comments

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