First, here's the video that everyone's talking about.
My first reaction was, "Is Hamas that far behind the times?" Heck, the production values are straight out of Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. If puppet stabbings of the President had been allowed on 1950s television, this video would have fit right in with the daytime programming. What's going to happen when Hamas gets to the 1970s and employs "a Quinn Martin Production" technology? Then all hope is lost for the West.
As I watched the translation of the video, there was a term which was not familiar to me. Roughly 1 1/2 minutes into the video, the child says the following to President Bush:
I have come to take revenge with this sword - revenge for my mother and sisters. You are a criminal, Bush! You are despicable. You made me an orphan! You took everything from me, Bush! I must take revenge on you, with this sword of Islam, the Prophet's Al-Battar sword.
(Isn't children's TV wonderful?)
Anyway, I wasn't familiar with the al-Battar sword, so I started reading. Brannon Wheeler, Visiting Distinguished Professor of History and Politics at the United States Naval Academy, has provided an explanation of the al-Battar sword:
The al-Battar sword was taken by the prophet Muhammad as booty from the Banu Qaynaqa. It is called the "sword of the prophets" and is inscribed in Arabic with the names of David, Solomon, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Muhammad. It also has a drawing of King David when cut off the head of Goliath to whom this sword had belonged originally.
This sword itself is documented in the book of 1 Samuel (although it should be noted that Muslims believe that the Bible has been corrupted through the ages). The incident of Goliath's death is recorded in 1 Samuel 17:51. While David did sling a stone at Goliath, he did more:
1 Samuel 17:51 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
51 David ran and stood over him. He took hold of the Philistine's sword and drew it from the scabbard. After he killed him, he cut off his head with the sword.
When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran.
The sword reappears in 1 Samuel 21:1-9, when David persuades Ahimelech to give the sword to him. Abimelech would eventually lose his life because of David's deception and Saul's paranoia.
The Bible records nothing else of this particular sword, but this has become one of the prized swords in Islam, which Wheeler notes has been preserved in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
But these days, if you run into the phrase "al-Battar," it's usually connected with Al Qaeda:
The Al-Battar Training Camp: The First Issue of Al-Qa'ida's Online Military Magazine Recently, Al-Qa'ida published the first issue of its online magazine 'Al-Battar Training Camp – A Magazine Published by the Military Committee of the Mujahideen in the Arabian Peninsula.'  "Al-Battar" is an alias of Sheikh Yousef Al-Ayyiri, formerly an Al-Qa'ida leader in Saudi Arabia and Osama bin Laden's personal bodyguard who was killed last year in a clash with Saudi security forces. The magazine focuses on military matters, and complements 'The Voice of Jihad, ' the other online magazine published by Al-Qa'ida in Saudi Arabia, which focuses on ideology.
While one would presume that the general Muslim world does not endorse Al Qaeda, the sword is prominent in Islam. The Islam and Christianity blog explains:
The sword of the religion is a prominent theme in Islamic thinking....It is there on the flag of Saudi Arabia beneath the Islamic confession that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his prophet....
Being very fond of his swords Muhammad named them: Dhu al Faqar, Al Battar (which originally belonged to King David, according to one tradition), Al Ma'thur, Al Rasub, and so on (he owned and named nine swords).
Muhammad as a political leader was at times very diplomatic and humble. But at times we see a robust and some might say ruthless exercise of violence for the sake of maintaining and furthering his own domain and authority. While the non-Muslim may see this sanctification of violence and slaughter as an abuse of religion, we must remember that for the orthodox Muslim the domain and will of Muhammad are synonymous with the domain and will of God....
[T]he vigorous use of violence--the sword of the religion--in Islam emerges as an element of worship, gaining a sort of sacramental aura....
To allow Muslims to enter and reproduce in a country, as we especially see in Europe, while expecting them to lay down the sword of the religion, is to fundamentally misunderstand Islam. The sword of the religion is an essential part of Islam because it was essential to the success of Muhammad, himself the ideal man, the perfect man. There is no presupposition that violence is bad in Islam. VIolence when used for the cause of Allah is in fact a great good as it leads to the triumph of Islam and the shari'a. To expect a sudden wave of un-Islamic pacifism to envelope Muslims in non-Muslim countries is the worse sort of hypocrisy.
The strategic use of violence is and always will be near the heart of Islam, and conservative Islamic scholars today recognize few limitations in the use of said violence against non-Muslims....
All of this means that silly mantra that "Muslims condemn the murder of innocent civilians," is almost a meaningless statement. It must be followed by questions like, "Who precisely are innocent?" and "Who precisely are civilians?" There are scholars who would say that NO American tax payer is innocent, for he supports the military in its oppression of Muslims by the simple act of paying taxes. Other scholars have explained that since all Israeli Jews will eventually be part of the Israeli military, Israeli Jewish children can not be classified as civilians, rather they are legitimate military targets for the sword of the religion.
So while the Hamas video seems like murder and butchery to us, Islam and Christianity claims that this is a devout act for the believing Muslim. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, however, claims that there IS such a thing as innocent civilians.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has consistently and persistently condemned terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians. CAIR has also organized fatwas, petition drives, placed advertisements in national and local newspapers, ran public service announcements on television and radio stations, helped local Mosques across the United States in holding open houses, published Op-Eds in local and national newspapers, conducted inter-faith meetings and worked with scholars to disseminate the peaceful teachings of Islam....
The “Not in the Name of Islam” petition states: "We, the undersigned Muslims, wish to state clearly that those who commit acts of terror, murder and cruelty in the name of Islam are not only destroying innocent lives, but are also betraying the values of the faith they claim to represent. No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam. We repudiate and dissociate ourselves from any Muslim group or individual who commits such brutal and un-Islamic acts. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him...."
But director of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies, Dr. Hani Al-Siba'i, apparently disagrees with CAIR:
The term 'civilians' does not exist in Islamic religious law. Dr. Karmi is sitting here, and I am sitting here, and I'm familiar with religious law. There is no such term as 'civilians' in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not...
That's another term I have to look up, but I'll have to do it later.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
First, here's the video that everyone's talking about.