How ‘Religious Defamation’ Laws Would Ban Islam

September 28, 2012 1:55 pm 14 comments

Orthodox Jewish man pushing a muslim man in a wheel chair. Photo: screenshot.

As the Islamic world, in the guise of the 57-member state Organization of Islamic Cooperation, continues to push for the enforcement of “religious defamation” laws in the international arena—theoretically developed to protect all religions from insult, but in reality made for Islam—one great irony is lost, especially on Muslims: if such laws would ban movies and cartoons that defame Islam, they would also, by logical extension, have to ban the religion of Islam itself—the only religion whose core texts actively defame other religions.

To understand this, consider what “defamation” means. Typical dictionary-definitions include “to blacken another’s reputation” and “false or unjustified injury of the good reputation of another, as by slander or libel.” In Muslim usage, defamation simply means anything that insults or offends Islamic sensibilities.

However, to gain traction among the international community, the OIC maintains that such laws should protect all religions from defamation, not just Islam. Accordingly, the OIC is agreeing that any expression that “slanders” the religious sentiments of others should be banned.

What, then, do we do with Islam’s core religious texts—beginning with the Quran itself, which slanders, denigrates and blackens the reputation of other religions? Consider Christianity alone: Quran 5:73 declares that “Infidels are they who say Allah is one of three,” a reference to the Christian Trinity; Quran 5:72 says “Infidels are they who say Allah is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary”; and Quran 9:30 complains that “the Christians say the Christ is the son of Allah … may Allah’s curse be upon them!”

Considering that the word “infidel” (or kafir) is one of Islam’s most derogatory terms, what if a Christian book or Western movie appeared declaring that “Infidels are they who say Muhammad is the prophet of God—may God’s curse be upon them“? If Muslims would consider that a great defamation against Islam—and they would, with the attendant rioting, murders, etc.—then by the same standard it must be admitted that the Quran defames Christians and Christianity.

Similarly, consider how the Christian Cross, venerated among millions, is depicted—is defamed—in Islam: according to canonical hadiths, when he returns, Jesus supposedly will destroy all crosses; and Muhammad, who never allowed the cross in his presence, ordered someone wearing a cross to “take off that piece of idolatry.”

What if Christian books or Western movies declared that the sacred things of Islam—say the Black Stone in the Ka’ba of Mecca—are “idolatry” and that Muhammad himself will return and destroy them? If Muslims would consider that defamation against Islam—and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc.—then by the same standard it must be admitted that the hadith defames the Christian Cross.

Here is a particularly odious form of defamation against Christian sentiment, especially to the millions of Catholic and Orthodox Christians. According to Islam’s most authoritative Quranic exegetes, including the revered Ibn Kathir, Muhammad is in paradise married to and having sex with the Virgin Mary.

What if a Christian book or Western movie portrayed, say, Muhammad’s wife, Aisha the “Mother of Believers,” as being married to and having sex with a false prophet in heaven? If Muslims would consider that a great defamation against Islam—and they would, with all the attendant rioting, murders, etc.—then by the same standard it must be admitted that Islam’s most authoritative Quranic exegetes defame the Virgin Mary.

Nor does such defamation of Christianity occur in Islam’s ancient texts only; modern day Muslim scholars and sheikhs agree that it is permissible to defame Christianity. Qatar-based “Islam Web” even issued a fatwa that legitimizes insulting Christianity.

Now consider the wording used by Muslim leaders calling on the U.N. to enforce religious defamation laws in response to the Muhammad film on YouTube, and how these expressions can easily be used against Islam:

The OIC “deplored… an offensive and derogatory film on the life of Prophet Muhammad” and “called on the producers to show respect to the religious sentiments held sacred by Muslims and those of other faiths.”

But what about the “offensive and derogatory” depictions of Christianity in Islam’s core texts? Are Muslims willing to expunge these from the Quran and hadith, “to show respect to the religious sentiments held sacred … by those of other faiths,” in this case, Christians?

Turkish Prime Minister Erodgan said the film “insults religions” (note the inclusive plural) and called for “international legal regulations against attacks on what people [not just Muslims] deem sacred.”

Well, what about the fact that Islam “insults religions”—including Judaism and all polytheistic faiths? Should the West call for “international legal regulations against attacks on what people deem sacred,” in the case of Christianity, regulations against Islam’s teachings which attack the sanctity of Christ’s divinity, the Cross, and Virgin Mary?

Even Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti—who a few months ago called for the destruction of all Christian churches in the Arabian Peninsula (first reported here)—is now calling for a “global ban on insults targeting all” religious figures, while the Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al Azhar is calling for “a U.N. resolution outlawing ‘insulting symbols and sanctities of Islam’ and other religions.” Again, they, too, claim to be interested in banning insults to all religions, while ignoring the fact that their own religion is built atop insulting all other religions.

And surely this is the grandest irony of all: the “defamation” that Muslims complain about—and that prompts great violence and bloodshed around the world—revolves around things like movies and cartoons, which are made by individuals who represent only themselves; on the other hand, Islam itself, through its holiest and most authoritative texts, denigrates and condemns—in a word, defames—all other religions, not to mention calls for violence against them (e.g., Quran 9:29).

It is this issue, Islam’s perceived “divine” right to defame and destroy, that the international community should be addressing—not silly cartoons and films.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

14 Comments

  • Great discussion Raymond,
    this should be encouraged “Worldwide”.

    It is absolutely amazing to me that in this day and age with
    all the information available to mankind we want to
    debate/argue/fight(go to war) for “OUR CREATOR’S sake” .
    We all “Know” that we have to die .
    We all “Do Not Know” what happens after we die .
    We all “Believe” we know what happens after we die .

    The size of and magnificence of the “Known” Universe is staggering and mind boggling.It is expanding faster than the speed of light(186000 Miles Per Second).It was Created by our “CREATOR” GOD ALMIGHTY.
    And we pipsqueaks/upstarts want to fight for him ?. Our time on Earth is so short,average 70 years,that in a universal context it almost cannot be measured .So why are
    we wasting our Blessing/Gift Of Life ? over which we have absolutely no control.

    Of what use is religious teaching/beliefs in the wake of a monstrous Earthquake/Tsunami OR Solar Flare **ALL “Acts Of Our Creator”?. … Of What Use?.

    I am a sixty one year old diabetic above knee amputee and I pray to the Creator every night and thank Him for all of the Blessing’s that He has given to me and also forgiveness for all of my sins and transgressions.I will not even try to understand why and what he does .

    Religious knowledge is good but is really of little importance in today’s world with all of the available knowledge we have .It is good guide in early childhood to know about and lead us to the Creator,that’s it .

    Enjoy the food for thought Raymond .

  • Dear Ibrahim,
    I am a muslim and I want to tell you that we respect Jesus Christ as a huge Prophet of God who was created without a physical Father by the light of God. We differ from Christians that he is the son of God. Yes God created him with His light but He had no physical relationship with Virgin Mary to create Jesus.
    We respect Virgin Mary as anybody would respect his/her mother. I am 47 years old and I have never heard of a hadith about Muhammad being married to Virgin Mary in heaven. This is a lie, even it came from a reliable source, I reject it. Our prophet has taught us to respect her like a mother and so shall we do.
    Yes there are few occasions in Quran against Christianity but all of them were related to a certain event in that particular time and place then. If you take notice you will find few instances in Bible (old testament) against Jews too. Would you ban the Bible for that?
    Unlike Christianity we do not have a old testament and a new testament of Quran. Whatever was written 1400 years ago will live forever in that book. We cannot change anything there but we assure you that if there is anything there against Christians and Jews, it pertains to a particular event in that particular time 1400 years ago and we do not hate Christians, Christianity or Bible in any shape or form.
    If you want a proof of it just look at the recent events. So many people died in the recent protests against the anti Islam film but did you see a single muslim mocking Jesus Christ, Christianity or Virgin Mary? You will not find a single incident in which one single Muslim out of 1.5 billion Muslims insulted Jesus Christ, your Cross or Virgin Mary. Yes you may find few things against Jews for it was rumoured that the jews invested money to create this film.
    A lot of muslims hate jews for their continuous everyday killing of muslims in Palestine for last 50+ years, but I think that has to do about lack of trust and limitation of dialogue rather than hatred of one’s beliefs and religion.
    Lastly, i would urge you to consider the possibility of capturing this moment when muslims are out there wanting to have a dialogue for “mutual respect”. You have a golden opportunity to register your concerns about defamation of other religion by few minority Muftis, Imams and radical clerics so they are contained.
    We all are humans and we cannot live in a world with peace, without mutual respect.

    • OK, so islam respects christianity and, you ay Jidaism – so, they (the people that is) should all be treated equally, a moslem is no more truthful or reliable than the others. But, what about other faiths – polytheist religions for example?

    • Peace and mutual respect are awesome, too bad YOU GUYS are the ones who go around killing people over cartoons, huh?

    • You said the Old Testaments insults the Jews.

    • listen, the koran teaches about christians and then says they are wrong, but the things it says are garbage , we do not believe what the koran says we believe, it is wrong because it is not from allah but a man. we do not believe god had sex with mary, we do not believe in god jesus and mary as a trinity ….. never have , never will, your koran is so full of mistakes, contradictions it is laughable ,they lie about what we believe and then say it is wrong, i implore you get some more information , read the bible how can you say we are wrong about things which we do not even believe

  • Islam… religion of the perpetually offended.

  • Nice article. Islam offends gays, womens, christians, and keep their own people in the 7th century in poverty. It should be sanctioned by United Nations.

  • Raymond,
    Thank you for this article. While I had been aware of Islam’s defamation of Christianity, Judaism, and other belief systems, I never made the connection in the same way!

    This article is perfect!!! Thank you.

    Seems to me there’s more than one way to “skin a cat.” And you just found it.

  • Islam is not “the only religion whose core texts actively defame other religions.”

    The Christian New Testament’s canonical gospels repeatedly revile the Jews for rejecting Jesus (the parable of the vineyard, “You snakes, you brood of vipers!”, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it…See, your house is left to you, desolate,” “His blood be on us and on our children!”, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do what Abraham did…. You are of your father the devil,”). And the Talmud and Midrash, in turn, mock Jesus and Christianity, such as in the Sefer Toledot Yeshu, which shows Jesus as fathered by a Roman soldier, performs magic tricks, seduces women, and is hanged on a cabbage stalk and then buried (see the 2003 book “The Jesus the Jews Never Knew” by Frank R. Zindler).

    It’s true that Islam’s scriptures cannot stand up to the standard of the protective laws that some of its leaders demand. But the same is true of the Judeo-Christian faiths with which it competes. Islam is not unique in institutional religious bigotry.

    • respectfulofreligions

      That has nothing to do with Jesus reviling the Jews. These were religious leaders who were acting hypocritically in the days of Jesus. They would pray in front of the synagogues just to get people’s attention or to show how “religious” they were. It was an attack on their hypocrisy, not a rejection of Jesus Christ. If you had studied this carefully, you would have known.

    • take a look around, i am catholic but love jews, now look the other way muslims hate everybody…………..you shall know the tree by its fruit

  • Islam is hypocrisy!

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    The Origins of Palestinian Refugee Relief Efforts (REVIEW)

    Romirowsky and Joffe’s book Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief is an important volume for those interested in truly understanding the origins of the Palestinian refugee issue. Utilizing a treasure trove of newly released documents, the authors link UNRWA’s (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine) origins to the Quakers/American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). For those readers who thought they knew most of the Middle East story, Romirowsky and Joffe’s version provides another twist. The authors meticulously [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.