Friday, January 25, 2008

Jihad and the Presidential Candidates: Analysis

George Akkelquist, a friend of a friend and FBI consultant on Middle Eastern terrorism, says Islamic terrorists divide the world outside Islam into two divisions: Infidels and Kafirs. Often those two terms are used interchangeably. Nevertheless, Mr. Akkelquist says Infidels include Jews and Christians and all others who believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost.

(Note: The notes I took at a Federal Air Marshal lecture based on Mr. Akkelquist’s teachings are in my home office in America and I haven’t seen them for over a year, but I believe my memory serves me correctly.)

According to the most radical Islamists, Infidels can live peaceably with Muslims as long as they are subordinate to Islamic rule, and in some cases I suppose, like in the days of old, they pay a poll tax, or jizya.

Kafirs are a bit worse in the eyes of 'radical Islamic fundamentalists,' as is the wording the U.S. government has used to describe Islamic terrorists. Kafirs include Buddhists, Hindus and ‘pagan religions’ (i.e. consider the Thailand Islamic insurgency). Sitting in the federal law enforcement counterterrorism briefing, I was also told that kafirs would also include Mormons. Being the only member of the Church of Jesus Christ in the room, I promptly raised my hand to ask a question, stopping the lecture.

We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost (Article of Faith, No. 1); but we aren’t considered main-stream Christian.

I wanted to know why I was considered a kafir.

"I’m Mormon," most of the guys knew that, but I said it anyway. Continuing, I said, "...so obviously I’m curious. What is it about the Mormon faith…?"

The lecturer replied, "They believe in modern prophets." Ahh… He didn’t have to explain anything further. We sustain the President of our Church, as well as his two counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers and revelators.

Like murderous religious cult members, there are a few things Islamic extremists will kill for. In the case of terrorists against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are modern prophets in lieu of - or that have come after - the Prophet Muhammad. To announce any prophetic position, or apparently subsequent revelation, past the sepulcher of the Prophet Muhammad is punishable by death, according to them.

Other ‘crimes’ punishable by death include things like:

  • Denying or leaving Islam/converting to another faith. (Such a murder occurred in New Jersey a few years ago.) They’ll also murder those who convert anyone away from Islam.
  • Any apostate or traitor will be killed (e.g. those who fight against an establishment of a Sharia-led government or who coalesce with Western governments/philosophies. Targets have included the Saudi Royal Family, Sunni Sheikh Sattar and the Anbar Awakening sheikhs, Bhutto, even Musharraf himself, diplomats in Lebanon , Egyptian Presidents past and present, et al.).
  • Those who go against the strict religious protocols and way of humble living, like those who cut their hair or remove their beards will also be targeted. Many barbers and barber shops have been targeted here in Iraq .
  • Any woman guilty of an interpretation of Islamic moral turpitude; ‘Honor killings’ have happened for years and will continue. (Interestingly, male homosexuality seems ignored, allowable or excusable.)
  • Speaking ill of the Prophet Muhammad or Islam in general (think of the Dutch filmmakers Theo Van Gogh and/or Geert Wilders, or Satanic Verses author Salam Rushdie).

(Note: "We [in my church] claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." Article of Faith, No. 11. Therefore why should we badmouth anyone’s religion? Besides, Mormons have been bad-mouthed like none other. Like fundamental break-off sects of our religion, who espouse illegal practices such as polygamy or in one case made famous by a book, murder, that’s another story. Obviously any good or honorable person will stand up and decry crime and terror; Islam, nor any other religion, is not a cloak for murderers and tyrants to hide behind. See also Article of Faith 12.)

Okay, now there’s the link to the Presidential candidates and the jihad analysis.

In the past I mentioned Usama bin Laden’s likely assessment of having a woman - the lowest creature on earth, according to him and his ilk - as the U.S. President. "General Hillary Clinton," the Commander and Chief, as Romney recently said of her in the Florida GOP debates, just has a nauseating ring, doesn’t it? I hate to say I have anything in common with a terrorist, but if UBL isn't for it, I don’t want to see a woman named Hillary (or a ‘First Husband’ named Bill) in the White House either.

What about a kafir Mormon? What does the terror magnate think of that? Certainly, bin Laden and his kind have studied more about the Mormons lately. Interestingly, there are many similarities between Muslims and Mormons. Although we don’t espouse polygamy today, the Church of Jesus Christ did in the late 1800’s. A friend and Arab-Israeli once told me his Islamic grandfather had multiple wives. Me too. The others who overheard our conversation wanted to join for such a fringe benefit as they saw it. I won’t go into the other similarities as it's out of the scope of this blog.

Suffice it to say, I can foresee a greater threat posed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to its leaders, particularly outside the United States as the church grows 'out of obscurity and darkness.' Should Mitt Romney get elected, that threat would only increase. For the most part, things would be calm and tranquil…just call me macabre for always thinking of the moribund.

What about the threat posed to a Christian Baptist preacher? Consider what bin Laden and his legions want. Would Huckabee’s lack of foreign policy experience, and preacher background, meshed with a 'theocratic' warfare image stir up terrorist's angst toward the Western 'Crusaders?'

Does Huckabee’s foreign policy stance reflect that of President Bush when after 9/11 he ignorantly used the word ‘crusade’ reflecting the awful Christian Crusades, or when it comes to foreign policy is the governor really pretty clueless? I won't answer that.

Lastly, what are the correlations to jihad and a potential black/African-America President? Many rumors have gone around. Some say Obama is a Muslim and attended an Islamic school. He's a Christian. But whatever the case may be about is early childhood he definitely has a Muslim name and hence by name alone (or by rumors of him being Islamic which terrorists probably won’t care to vet) he is potentially one of the worst ‘traitors/apostates’ who may, in fact, be a higher target of a terrorist assassination than the other candidates.

I understand that the term kafir has also been used in the past as racial slur in Africa.


When considering Obama's part-African heritage, I think about how fickle Islamic terrorists are. The Islamic janjaweed (devils on horseback) are killing Muslims in Sudan; hundreds of black Muslims died in the 1998 East Africa U.S. embassy bombings. Are black Muslims, then, somehow expendable or held in less regard to Arab, Chechen/Anglo, or Southeast Asian Muslims by al Qaeda? I won't attempt to answer that.

5 comments:

Brad said...

I think we are making too much of the "radical Islamist threat." While it is maybe good politics to perpetuate fear, I think there is much more to be gained by appealing to the moderates that make up the greatest part of what we often mistakenly aggregate into a monolithic "Muslim world."

We should focus on the similarities between Mormons and Muslims and not legitimate the hateful rhetoric of the minority.

The Church has done a great deal to reach out to Muslims and will continue to do more. Below is a story that ran shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that demonstrates this.

October 6, 2001, Saturday

LDS leaders reach out to Muslims

BYLINE: By Carrie A. MooreDeseret News religion editor

SECTION: WIRE; Pg. A01

LENGTH: 1247 words



As reverberations from the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 continue around the world, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) will likely hear emphasis on love and reaching out to people of all cultures and faiths during the 171st Semiannual General Conference this weekend.

Religious leaders across the country have been particularly sensitive in the days since the attacks to speak out in defense of Muslims and re-emphasize the need for civility. In Salt Lake City, the LDS Church released a statement Sept. 21 emphasizing the church's "long and mutually respectful relationship with many of the leaders and followers of Islam."

It said the terrorists "in no way represent the views of millions of Muslims throughout the world" and condemned acts of retribution against them and others as "wrong and immoral. The church urges its members and people everywhere to extend kindness and love to all sons and daughters of God."


The statement was a more specifically directed form of a message church President Gordon B. Hinckley has stressed repeatedly during his administration, encouraging Latter-day Saints to be more inclusive and less "clannish." Local LDS culture is rife with colloquialisms like "non-members" and "inactives" that are viewed by many as divisive, separating practicing Latter-day Saints from others in the community.

Iqbal Hossain, immediate past president of the Islamic Society of Utah, said he appreciated the statement, as well as the gesture made by LDS Church leaders when they invited him to pray during a program presented last month in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Utah is home to upwards of 25,000 Muslims, and following the Sept. 11 attacks several acts of hate aimed at local Muslims were reported.

"I think they thought it would be prudent to have a Muslim give the invocation," Hossain said of the recent meeting of the International City/County Management Association, which featured remarks by President Hinckley and Gov. Mike Leavitt. Hossain took it as a sign of "healing and interfaith cooperation. I thought that was a great gesture."

He's also been contacted by several LDS stake presidents who have been "very good and very caring. There has been a lot of good will and support at this very difficult time. We've appreciated that" and would welcome an ongoing dialogue with the LDS Church on areas of common interest, he said.

Such a dialogue, in fact, has been taking place on a national and international level for decades. The efforts of the past few weeks are but the latest in a series of moves by the LDS Church in recent years to learn more about Muslims through building personal relationships and supporting academic outreach.

Though the church's top leaders have declined requests to be interviewed about the current status of the faith's relationships with the Muslim world, several officials at church-owned Brigham Young University detailed some outreach efforts.

Chad Emmett, an associate professor of geography, said former LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball opened the door for such outreach with a First Presidency statement in February 1978 regarding "God's Love for All Mankind." It described how "the great religious leaders of the world, such as (Islam's) Muhammad, Confucius and the Reformers . . . , received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals."

The outreach mushroomed from that point.

A symposium, the first of its kind on "Mormons and Muslims," was held at BYU in 1981 and featured several Muslim scholars as presenters. Top church leaders negotiated heavily with both Jewish and Muslim leaders at home and abroad during the 1980s and were able to secure the necessary land and permits to build the BYU Jerusalem Center as a result. Thousands of students and BYU faculty members have lived and studied there for more than a decade, while others are doing so in predominantly Muslim nations.

Kent Brown, a professor of ancient scripture and former director of the BYU Jerusalem Center, said Muslims and Latter-day Saints have so much in common that Muslims who know about BYU "would be very comfortable sending their children here." In fact, several dozen Muslim students are now studying at BYU. Both faiths have strict moral codes, emphasize family life and eschew the use of alcohol and tobacco.

More formal outreach efforts are also under way.

Daniel Peterson, director of the school's Institute for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, has joined Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and BYU President Merrill Bateman in a series of presentations to dozens of Muslim ambassadors in the past two years.

Peterson's institute is overseeing a major project designed to translate classic Muslim texts -- heretofore only available in Arabic -- into English. Three volumes have been completed to date, and two others -- "The Decisive Treatise" by Averroes and the first volume of Maimonides' medical texts, "On Asthma" -- are currently being readied for printing.

Karl Snow, former director of the Marriott School Institute of Public Management at BYU, and his wife, Donna, were working in New York City two years ago as diplomatic representatives for the church. They helped arrange a dinner meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for Elder Maxwell, Bateman and Peterson to present copies of the first translated texts to several dozen Muslim ambassadors to the United Nations. The meeting was so successful that a follow-up reception was held in February 2000 at the United Nations in New York.

Similar meetings were also held with Muslim representatives in London, Washington, D.C., and Beverly Hills, as well as in Cairo, Damascus and Amman, Jordan, last spring.

The ambassadors agreed to attend the initial meeting after Bateman invited the director of the Organization of the Islamic Conference to the U.N. to visit BYU. He spent several days at the school, Snow said, and was just recently invited to participate in an International Religious Freedom Symposium at BYU that begins Sunday night.

While he won't be able to attend, one of his advisers -- S. Shahid Husain of Pakistan -- will participate in the meeting and attend general conference, Snow said.

The friendships formed through such events "have turned into genuine personal relationships," Peterson said. "I don't have any messianic delusions that we're going to save the world" by translating ancient Muslim texts, but the events of Sept. 11 "make it even more important that moderate people on both sides continue talking and appreciating one another."

Just as Latter-day Saints dislike being misunderstood -- as happens with worldwide media accounts of incidents like the recent Tom Greene polygamy trial -- their Muslim neighbors feel the same way when they're lumped in with fanatics who use religion as an excuse for terrorism, Emmett said.

All agree that education is the key to a better understanding of Muslims by Latter-day Saints as a whole.

"There is no single approach," Hossain said. "It has to start in the family, with every family teaching their kids that people have different religions, and that overall they are good. There are bad people in every religion.

"As we grow up and behave in society, whatever we say, believe and act out, doesn't happen in a vacuum. We all learned it somewhere."

E-mail: carrie@desnews.com

Brian said...

I think the outreach mentioned in Brad's article is great. However, I don't think we are making too much of the radical Islamic threat. I think it is very useful to consider how we are viewed by all parts of the Islamic spectrum, if for nothing else than to further the outreach mentioned in the article Brad posted.

Anonymous said...

You have a very simplistic idea of Islamic teachings. I advise that you actually MIX with Muslims, TALK to Muslims, sit in their study circles, learn Arabic and read a wide range of scholarly texts for SEVERAL YEARS. THEN comment.

Yassin said...

Jeffrey Denning presented inaccurate description and definition of Islamic terms. Hearsay and subjective evaluation based on promoting hates and spreading ill feeling can be smelled straight from the beginning. I am born Muslim and studied Islam all my life in Islamic public school. I lived in Christian communities and I know for fact what kind of statements similar to Mr. Denning’s are used to ring the bells of fear in the heads of ignorant, illiterate, and uneducated persons.

I don’t like terrorism as much as anybody. There is no justification for killing innocents in the name of religion, war, or any twisted human reason. Terrorism does not have specific gender, color, or race. Anybody could act as such or could be painted as such. It is up to us to identify those who lurks and dwell at issues that just stir hates and animosity.

When it comes to Islam itself, one need to study Islam objectively and comes up with his own evaluation instead of listening to comments such as Mr. Denning’s. Islam is to purify oneself by submitting all actions/deeds/intentions to the one who knows us better, God. Once you do, you will notice how peaceful Islam is. On the other hand, it is a religion that set rules for governing, war, social life, finance, and all aspects of life. Be friend with the Muslim and they will treat you with respect and honor. Harass the Muslim, and you will see Jihad coming up. It is like a bee hive, you can get honey if you are nice and gentle, but you will suffer from Anaphylaxis if you strike the community.

Let me offer a glimpse on propaganda and truth. We all know that history is written by the winner, and people believe propaganda by not how loud is said but how often it is repeated. Are German considered terrorist because of what they did to the Jews and initiating World War II? Are American considered terrorist because they burned millions of civilian Japanese with nukes? Are European considered as terrorists because they sent their armies and occupied many countries and ripped their resources and establishing their wealth? Are Japanese considered as terrorists during World War II occupying lands and turning Korean/Chinese women into prostitutes? And so on….

Everyone can justify reasons for their act. What is right and wrong? The Muslims have the right to lift arms to repel invasions and occupiers away from their homelands the way any country did in their history. If you are scarred from the world Jihad, then you have a personal problem. It is just a way to gather resources to fight off invasions. Obviously, one can see foreign armies on the land of the Arabs/ Muslims. They have the right to kick them out. We have killed hundred of thousand of Iraqis so far in the name of preserving our national interests yet let our home land economy suffer miserably. If we just mind our business and let others run their countries the way they see it fit according to their moral standards none of the Jihad issues could come out. Leave others alone and let’s mind our business.

Yassin said...

Jeffrey Denning presented inaccurate description and definition of Islamic terms. Hearsay and subjective evaluation based on promoting hates and spreading ill feeling can be smelled straight from the beginning. I am born Muslim and studied Islam all my life in Islamic public school. I lived in Christian communities and I know for fact what kind of statements similar to Mr. Denning’s are used to ring the bells of fear in the heads of ignorant, illiterate, and uneducated persons.

I don’t like terrorism as much as anybody. There is no justification for killing innocents in the name of religion, war, or any twisted human reason. Terrorism does not have specific gender, color, or race. Anybody could act as such or could be painted as such. It is up to us to identify those who lurks and dwell at issues that just stir hates and animosity.

When it comes to Islam itself, one need to study Islam objectively and comes up with his own evaluation instead of listening to comments such as Mr. Denning’s. Islam is to purify oneself by submitting all actions/deeds/intentions to the one who knows us better, God. Once you do, you will notice how peaceful Islam is. On the other hand, it is a religion that set rules for governing, war, social life, finance, and all aspects of life. Be friend with the Muslim and they will treat you with respect and honor. Harass the Muslim, and you will see Jihad coming up. It is like a bee hive, you can get honey if you are nice and gentle, but you will suffer from Anaphylaxis if you strike the community.

Let me offer a glimpse on propaganda and truth. We all know that history is written by the winner, and people believe propaganda by not how loud is said but how often it is repeated. Are German considered terrorist because of what they did to the Jews and initiating World War II? Are American considered terrorist because they burned millions of civilian Japanese with nukes? Are European considered as terrorists because they sent their armies and occupied many countries and ripped their resources and establishing their wealth? Are Japanese considered as terrorists during World War II occupying lands and turning Korean/Chinese women into prostitutes? And so on….

Everyone can justify reasons for their act. What is right and wrong? The Muslims have the right to lift arms to repel invasions and occupiers away from their homelands the way any country did in their history. If you are scarred from the world Jihad, then you have a personal problem. It is just a way to gather resources to fight off invasions. Obviously, one can see foreign armies on the land of the Arabs/ Muslims. They have the right to kick them out. We have killed hundred of thousand of Iraqis so far in the name of preserving our national interests yet let our home land economy suffer miserably. If we just mind our business and let others run their countries the way they see it fit according to their moral standards none of the Jihad issues could come out. Leave others alone and let’s mind our business.