May 4 2015
The Islamic Studies Center of Duke University has a message for critics of jihad: When terrorists decide to murder you for what you say, it’s your fault. Omid Safi, Director of Duke’s Islamic Studies Center, was quick to condemn Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller for a jihadist attack on a Muhammad cartoon contest.
Answering Muslims The fact that Safi’s comments don’t cause outrage at Duke University is quite disturbing. If someone were to murder, say, Richard Dawkins for his criticisms of Christianity, it would never cross my mind to say, “Two groups are responsible for the murder of Richard Dawkins: the people who murdered him, and Dawkins and his associates for mocking Christianity.” There is simply no connection, logical or theological, between (a) making fun of Christianity, and (b) being murdered. Hence, if a murderer were to attempt to make a connection, the rest of the world would be puzzled.
But Omid Safi is the latest proof that there is a clear connection between (a) making fun of Islam, and (b) being murdered. The connection doesn’t just exist in the mind of the murderer; it exists in the minds of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world, including many moderate Muslims.
Oddly enough, Safi’s attempts to blame Spencer and Geller for jihadist violence only underscore the need to address Muhammad’s teachings. Safi portrays himself as a “progressive Muslim.” But if even highly educated, “progressive” Muslim scholars believe that critics of jihad and sharia are asking to be killed, doesn’t this tell us something about Islam?
Following Safi’s reasoning, we shouldn’t be surprised to read future tweets declaring:
Yes, we can blame ISIS for beheading journalists. But we also need to blame the journalists for upsetting ISIS.
Yes, we can blame Boko Haram for kidnapping and raping Christian girls, but let’s not forget to blame the girls themselves. If they had been devout Muslimahs, they wouldn’t have been raped. So it was their decision.
Yes, we can blame Al Qaeda for the 9-11 attacks. But the victims of those attacks paid taxes to the U.S. government, and the U.S. government has killed many Muslims. Hence, those who died on 9-11 got what they deserved.
Yes, we can blame the Taliban for murdering girls who want to go to school. But since the girls decided to go to school, it’s their fault as well.
It’s sad to see that the next generation of Islamic Studies scholars are being taught that cartoonists who are murdered for drawing pictures of Muhammad must be blamed for their own deaths. But it’s exactly what we should expect when we realize that Muhammad ordered his followers to murder people who made fun of him. There is a connection between criticizing Islam and being murdered because the prophet of Islam demanded it.