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How ‘Religious Defamation’ Laws Would Ban Islam

September 28, 2012 1:55 pm 15 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.


  • 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 .


      Helo dear,
      I want to comment in brief. you all should know that the Holy Quran is a book revealed by the Almighty. If you all read it carefully I hope you will accept the religion of Quran. It reveals facts. Whatever mentioned in the Holy Quran are all true.It is not just the question of blind belief but it is the reality. It is proved so far the every line of Holy Quran is correct. But we the muslims are not harming any body like others. Muslims countires are not attacking other countries just for simple reasons. Mulsim countries are not killing lakhs of innocent persons. They are not interfering in the affairs of other religions. But on the other hand others are doing reverse. Why should one make fun of Prophet Mohammed. What benefit he is deriving by doing so. It is just for defaming Islam. They want that the effect of Islam should not reach people as such they try to defame Islam. Holy Quran has given right messages. It has also been experienced that the messages of Holy Quran are true. Enemies were there even during the days of Prophet Mohammed. Now the same elements try to defame Islam. Islam always defended the attacks on it. Islam never attacked on others without any reason. Even during wars also Islam has showed restraint. They never used to kill women and children. Whether such principles are observed now a days. Drown planes are killing people irrespective or their ages. There is no alternative of Islam in the present world, in the past and in the future also. These elements who want to defame Islam will get destroyed if they continue to do so. Almighty is great and he will take care.

  • 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………… shall know the tree by its fruit

  • Islam is hypocrisy!

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