Harvard’s Islamic chaplain supports death penalty for apostates

From the Harvard Crimson (via Robert VerBruggen at Phi Beta Cons) comes this item:

Harvard Islamic chaplain Taha Abdul-Basser ‘96 has recently come under fire for controversial statements in which he allegedly endorsed death as a punishment for Islamic apostates.

In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”

Anyone who is surprised by this is an ignorant fool. Death for apostates is commanded by Islam, has always been commanded by Islam, and there is no authoritative voice in Islam that opposes it. So, if you don’t want people in our society saying that Muslim apostates should die, then you must outlaw Islam and remove all believing Muslims from our society, by voluntary or forcible means. If you’re not willing to contemplate the de-Islamization of America and the West, then don’t complain about Muslims in the West calling for death for apostates. You believers in non-discrimination and inclusion made your bed, now lie in it.

What particularly strikes me about Taha Abdul-Basser’s remark is not his endorsement of the traditional Islamic death sentence for people who convert out of Islam, but his combining that endorsement with criticism of “hegemonic” human rights discourse! His Harvard education certainly comes in handy. And he’s clever. “Hegemonic” is a term normally used by liberals and leftists to debunk whatever remains of traditional society. But he uses it against liberalism itself. Human rights? We don’t need your stinkin’ human rights!

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Sage McLaughlin, who sent the item, writes:

I noticed the same thing. “Hegemonic discourse?” No wonder Harvard picked him.

And just imagine a Jewish or Christian chaplain who wrote to a student that the wisdom of the Levitical prescription of death for homosexuals should not be dismissed out of hand. He’d be run out of there within a week.

James P. writes:

What I found interesting were these statements from the article:

A Muslim student at MIT, who also asked to remain anonymous to preserve his relationship with the Islamic community, said the chaplain’s remarks wrongly suggested that only Westerners and Westernized Muslims who did not fully understand Islam would find the killing of apostates objectionable.


CLARIFICATION: The April 14 article “Chaplain’s E-mail Sparks Controversy” included a quotation from a named Harvard student, who was later granted anonymity when he revealed that his words could bring him into serious conflict with Muslim religious authorities.

This should trouble anyone who dreams that Muslims can be assimilated into our ways of thinking. Apparently, even Muslim students at elite American universities fear to criticize in public the Muslim doctrine that apostates should be killed. These are presumably the most intelligent and hard-working young Muslims, who have the greatest potential to make a positive contribution to America, and yet they are not yet “American enough” to state without the protection of anonymity that they disagree with a doctrine that most Americans find repulsive. What hope is there that the average Muslim can be converted to American ways of thought if these students can’t be? If Harvard and MIT can’t turn a Muslim into a secular, tolerant liberal, what institution can do so?

LA replies:

That is an excellent point, and it brings home a fundamental fact about the nature of Islam and why there can be no moderate Islam. Islamic law requires the death penalty for those who leave the faith. This is perhaps the single most offensive Islamic law to many people, the most obviously unacceptable law to modern people, and undoubtedly to a fair number of Muslims. But to oppose that law and call for its repeal marks oneself as a critic and enemy of Islam, thus bringing the death penalty on oneself. So Islam cannot change. It is locked in place, by itself. As long as it exists, it will be a warrior religion of conquest and of death to unbelievers and apostates. Therefore as long as it exists, the only thing to do about it is to disempower it, isolate it, and contain it geographically so that it cannot threaten the rest of us.

Howard Sutherland writes:

It will be interesting indeed to see how, if at all, Fair Harvard responds to this. I would bet there will be no official response whatever from that once-eminent, once-American university. The only exception I can think of would be if campus Christian groups (if such things are tolerated any longer at Harvard) protested this imam’s bloodthirstiness. Then I would expect Harvard to condemn them for being insufficiently welcoming of the Other.

I can’t help noticing that Harvard’s “Muslim chaplain”—and what does it say about what America has become that our most prestigious, however undeserved, university feels the need for an in-house Moslem cleric?—is himself an alumnus of Harvard. I wonder what worthy American applicant was rejected in order to make room for this hostile alien. And I’ll stick by that characterization even if someone points out that Taha Abdul-Basser (Harvard ‘96) was born in the United States.

As for Harvard man Basser, or however one says his name, it isn’t surprising that he is fluent in Leftist cant and jargon—he went to Harvard, after all. I’ll bet that with respect to everything except Moslem commandments like beheading apostates, he is a by-the-book Leftist perfectly at home at today’s Harvard.

Americans need to realize that campuses like Harvard’s are enemy territory—every bit as much so as the Pirate Coast of Somalia. What Cato demanded for Carthage, we should do to Cambridge—and soon. HRS

LA replies:

Cambrigo delenda est.

John Hagan writes:

I just received a solicitation from Harvard looking for alumni cash or gifts. I’m going to put a fat ZERO in the envelope and tell them I’ll send some cash along when they address this issue to my satisfaction. Fat chance of that happening.

Dimitri K. writes:

I set a mental experiment, how would liberals defend this cruel punisment. They would say that in the Western countries, capital punishment is applied to traitors during the war time. However, that is an indication that Islamic law considers itself at war with the outer world.

LA replies:

That’s brilliant. Exactly right. As I’ve pointed out before, in the Koran, the fact that a person does not believe in Allah and his Prophet means that he is perversely and deliberately and wickedly rejecting what he knows to be the truth. He is insulting Allah and his prophet in an unbearable way that can only be made right through the punishment of death, just as a member of one tribe who has violated the honor of a member of another tribe has dishonored that tribe, and the dishonor can only be lifted by that man’s death. So all non-Muslims by their very existence as non-Muslims are delivering an unbearable insult to Allah and Islam and are at war with Islam. This is what explains the remorseless hatred and sadistic furty that Muslims direct toward infidels and those who through particular acts insult Islam. But in the wider sense all infidels are insulters of Islam. Voluntarily to leave the Islamic faith is to join these mortal enemies. It is an even worse offense than simply being a non-believer and calls forth even worse condemnations and promised punishments.

If Islam gave up the law requiring the death of apostates it would give up the essence of Islam and so cease to exist as Islam. That will never happen so long as Muslims believe in Islam.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 15, 2009 09:10 AM | Send

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