LES ECHOS

Hadith, Ancient Islamic Source Of The Evils Of Modern Jihad

Those killing in the name of the Muslim prophet are following derivative ancient texts, second-hand accounts, not the Koran.

The power of text
The power of text
Ali Malek*

-Essay-

The Islamic Prophet is the most unpopular among the founders of religions. Mention Confucius, Buddha or Jesus in a conversation, and people listen. But evoke Muhammad with a non-Muslim, and the listener is dubious — and rightly so.

Too often, our televisions are filled with horrific images of acts carried out in the prophet's name that keep away even those who would otherwise be tempted to know him better.

My fellow Algerians demonstrated in the streets of Algiers to express their outrage at the Charlie Hebdo caricatures and to declare as martyrs the Kouachi brothers, who killed 12 people at the magazine's offices in Paris. But is there even a single verse in the Koran that calls for the death of anybody who insults the Prophet? No, there is not. No verse justifies the murder of a blasphemer, a heretic or an apostate. Not one.

Actually, Muslims don't draw their religion from the Koran, which they say is the word of God that Prophet Muhammed received from the Archangel Gabriel. We are floored when we see the manifestations of what Muslims call sharia, or Islamic law. Aghast, you discover what an awful mess Muslim scholars and theologists have inflicted upon this religion.

There are actually very few references to the Koran in sharia law. Instead, theologians rely on something else called the hadith, essentially words put in the Prophet's mouth.

Jihadists, for instance, boast that they'll conquer the world. The Koran doesn't announce these victories, only the hadith does. In the Koran, the Prophet says, "Say: I don't know the future, I don't know what will become of me or you." And yet, jihadists believe that the Prophet knew the future and that he even announced to them that they would conquer the world.

The false source

All the problems that Muslims are stuck with come from this thing we call the hadith. It didn't just appear out of nowhere. There are facts we need to know about Islam. First of all, the Prophet didn't name the Caliphs that succeeded him. Hadiths started to appear after Muhammad's death, under the reign of the Umayyad dynasty (661-750), and were used for propaganda. But the Umayyads didn't set them down on paper. That was done by their successors.

The first theological text in the history of Islam is called al-Muwatta, written by imam Malik about a century and a half after the Prophet's death. It didn't contain a single verse from the Koran. It was commissioned by the second Caliph of the Abbasid dynasty (750-1517), al-Mansur, who, as an example of his customs, used to bury his opponents alive.

Al-Mansur also had Ibn Ishaq pen the first biography of Muhammad, on which all the following biographies were based. The portrait he drew of the Prophet was tailor-made for a bloodthirsty Caliph.

Jihad in the Koran has nothing to do with what was practiced after the Prophet's death in 632, and by the contemporary heirs of the first Caliphs. The famous conquests were the first great sin of Muslims. They ordained an offensive jihad, which the Koran forbids. During the first 13 years of his apostolate, the Prophet and the first converts were persecuted, but the Koran told them to be patient.

Later on came this verse: "Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not commit aggression. God does not love the aggressors." The Koran wasn't asking the inhabitants of the Arabic peninsula to islamize the world but to islamize themselves, which means to pacify themselves and put an end to their culture of wars and raids. The Prophet only fought against those who fought him.

[rebelmouse-image 27088612 alt="""" original_size="640x427" expand=1]
Photo: Sumaya Al-Hasan

"Fight them until there is no fitnah left in the religion," the Koran says. Fitnah means the persecution of others because of their faith. Thus, the only goal of armed should be to end religious persecution. During his life, the Prophet limited himself to defensive jihad. Indeed, he couldn't go against the words he said he received from God. And yet the hadith claims the Prophet said, "I was sent to fight until the people convert to Islam." Conveniently, this hadith appeared at a time when war and conquest were raging.

The biggest hoax in Islam rests in its very definition. When you ask a Muslim to define Islam, he will hastily reply that it is the five pillars. And he will say that this was the Prophet's definition. This is wrong.

A measure of justice

Sure, the pillars are Koranic instructions, but they're not an end in themselves. The pillars are only a means to reach a superior goal — the taqwa, or fear of God — which, when studied solely through the Koran's verses, means Muslims have an obligation to be in a permanent dynamic of peace with their neighbors, whoever they might be.

It's the Ulama, or Muslim scholars, who decided that the definition of Islam would limit itself to a profession of faith and four ritual practices. But the first compilations of hadiths contained far fewer than the ones that appeared later. Thus, the further we moved in time from the Prophet, the more hadiths were written to claim that he had said such-and-such things.

The hadith claiming that the Prophet said he was sent to fight the others until their submission is one to which jihadists frequently refer. They never question the texts they use to justify their actions. Nowadays, about 80% of the sermons in mosques are based on hadiths.

The Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly (who killed a policewoman and four hostages at a kosher supermarket) are not martyrs. The most charitable characterization of them is to say they were victims of what a wise contemporary Muslim would call a "sophisticated lie." Caliphs have tried to convince Muslims that the caliphate had a divine link to Islam. Again, this isn't true. Not a single verse in the Koran forces Muslims to be under the authority of a Caliph.

This great misunderstanding is what leads, for example, some rebel groups in Syria to name themselves after Caliph Yazid, who caused massive damage to the holy site in Mecca and slaughtered descendants of Muhammad 50 years after the Prophet's death. Some choose to see nothing else in the past besides the prestige of military victories, which turned bloodthirsty Caliphs into models that the morons of jihad now want to emulate. Osama bin Laden didn't consult the Koran to know if was permissible to have planes filled with innocent civilians hijacked and sent to crash into buildings also filled with innocent civilians. Osama bin Laden is a pure product of the compilations of hadiths.

The Koran rejects the very abominations that Muslims themselves have attributed to their Prophet. They are nothing but the fruit of the serfdom created by the bad faith of the Ulama.

European Muslims nowadays are causing extensive harm to their religion by failing to see beyond the right to wear the veil and to eat halal meat. There are values in the Koran that are more important than prayer, Ramadan and pilgrimage put together.

"God orders justice, good deeds," it says. Not many other verses are as solemn in formulating priorities. In the hadith compilations, there isn't a single chapter that mentions justice.

Judging solely by the words of the Koran, a country such as Norway is infinitely more Muslim than Saudi Arabia.

*Ali Malek is an Algerian-born writer. He is the author of a 2006 French novel entitled Une Terre Bénie de Dieu (A Land Blessed By God).

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January 22-23

  • Navalny saga & Putin’s intentions
  • COVID’s toll on teenage girls
  • A 50-year-old book fee finally gets paid
  • … and much more!

🎲 BUT FIRST, A NEWS QUIZ!

What do you remember from the news this week?

1. Which two words did U.S. President Joe Biden use about possible scenarios in the Russia-Ukraine standoff that upset authorities in Kyiv?

2. What started to mysteriously appear on signs, statues and monuments across Adelaide, Australia?

3. What cult movie did U.S. rocker Meat Loaf, who died Friday at age 74, star in?

4. What news story have we summed up here in emoji form? 🇬🇧 👱 💬 💼 ❌ 🥳 🦠

[Answers at the bottom of this newsletter]

⬇️  STARTER

Toxic geopolitics: More than ever, we need more women world leaders

The world is watching the Russian-Ukrainian border. Russian President Vladimir Putin threatening an invasion finds an ally in Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi, united against their common enemy: the United States. Back in Washington, U.S. President Joe Biden — marking his first year in power with painfully low approval rates (higher only than Donald Trump’s) — sends his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, to Kyiv to reassure President Volodymyr Zelensky who worries that France’s Emmanuel Macron might undermine Ukraine. And we haven’t even mentioned Xi Jinping!

It’s an endless theater of world leaders beating their respective chests — and they have exactly one thing in common: they’re all men. It’s by now a decades-old question, but worth asking again: What would happen if women, and not men, were running the world? Would there be less conflict, more prosperity? More humanity?

In 2018, the World Economic Forum released a study that showed that “only 4% of signatories to peace agreements between 1992 and 2011 were women, and only 9% of the negotiators.” The report shows that in several conflict zones in the world in recent decades, citing Liberia, Northern Ireland and Colombia, women have been instrumental in achieving peace.

In Colombia, where 20% of peace negotiators for the 2016 peace treaty were women, Ingrid Betancourt, herself a victim of the 50-year conflict, has announced her candidacy for the May presidential elections. Differently from previous bids, where she focused on fighting environmental abuses and corruption, Betancourt now is putting gender issues at the center of her political agenda. Bogota daily El Espectador questions whether the former hostage will be able to ride this important political wave, with feminist movements flexing their muscle around the region demanding more rights.

In Italy, next week’s elections for the head of state are monopolized by infamously misogynous former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is hoping to be elected for the seven-year, honorary function. There is no official candidacy, but Berlusconi’s name and that of current Prime Minister Mario Draghi are the two getting the most attention. Italian feminist writer and intellectual Dacia Maraini writes in La Stampa that, yes, the very fact of electing a female president will be progress for the country — and by the way, there are plenty of women qualifed for the job.

There was also a woman politician making the news this week for actually getting elected: Maltese conservative politician Roberta Metsola, became the new European Parliament President after the death of Italy’s David Sassoli. And yet the election of the first female president of the EU’s legislature since Nicole Fontaine in 2001 has been widely criticized by female politicians — primarily for Metsola’s stance against abortion rights. "I think it is a terrible sign for women's rights everywhere in Europe," French left-wing member of the European Parliament Manon Aubry told Deutsche Welle.

The women who have risen to power in history (Margaret Thatcher, anyone?) don’t necessarily make the case that gender is the silver bullet to fix politics. Still, after watching all the toxic masculinity on the world stage this past week, we can rightfully demand fewer men.

Irene Caselli

🎭  5 CULTURE THINGS TO KNOW

• Record-breaking online concert of Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand”: More than 100 musicians from around the world will take part today in a performance of Mahler’s epic 8th symphony consisting of 1,200 elements, including a double chorus, children’s choir, a full orchestra and an organ. The event is a culmination of a year of work; all artists recorded their parts in isolation besides the children’s choir. Tickets can be purchased here.

Yearly Japanese festival will set a mountain on fire: Today, the grassy hillside of Mount Wakakusayama in Japan will go up in flames as fireworks go off in the background as part of celebrations for Wakakusa Yamayak. The origin of the festival isn’t totally clear, but might relate to border conflicts between the great temples in the region or to ward off wild boars.

• New insights into antiquities taken by the Nazis: Scholars are looking into how German forces during World War II looted artifacts such as on the Greek island of Crete. Nazi officials pillaged these valuables for their own personal gain, but many were also destroyed, which is why researchers around the world are hoping to gain greater insight into this often overlooked aspect of German occupation.

Exhibition of Beirut’s restored artwork: The Beirut Museum of Art has inaugurated the exhibition “Lift” featuring 17 paintings by Lebanese artists that had been damaged by the port explosion in 2020, and have since been restored as a result of a UNESCO initiative.

The world’s first vegan violin tunes up: Berries, pears and spring water are just some of the natural ingredients relied on for the construction of the instrument by English violin-maker Padraig O'Dubhlaoidh. Traditionally, animal parts like horsehair, hooves, horns and bones are used, especially to glue pieces together. The £8,000 instrument is sure to be music to some animal lover’s ears.

🇷🇺  NAVALNY SAGA & PUTIN’S INTENTIONS


One year ago anti-corruption lawyer and politician Alexei Navalny was detained in Russia, marking the effective end of domestic opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin. In the time since, more than half of the former coordinators of Navalny's headquarters fled Russia. Even Navalny's name is forbidden: Putin never says his name, calling him "this citizen."

At the same time, Navalny’s imprisonment and the de facto end of the opposition have changed Russia. The fear of persecution, the lack of alternatives and the total censorship and propaganda have caused Putin's ratings consistently downward.

An aging leader with no successors, no enemies and dwindling popular support is finding it increasingly difficult to explain why he must continue to rule forever. In such a situation, there’s nothing quite like an external threat to fuel the raison d’être of the authoritarian regime. In Putin’s eyes, the perfect threat right now is NATO expansion, and the perfect enemy is its neighbor Ukraine and its attempts to join the military alliance. Whether Russia's president is ready to engage in a real war is the great unknown, but its aggressive and uncompromising foreign policy — like his disposing of Alexei Navalny — is the latest legitimization of his increasingly absolutist rule now into its third decade.

Read the full story: What The Alexei Navalny Saga Tells Us About Putin’s Intentions On Ukraine

🇨🇴  FROM HOSTAGE TO POTENTIAL HEAD OF STATE


Íngrid Betancourt spent more than six years as a prisoner of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terror group in Colombia, an experience that is sure to play a role in her recently announced presidential campaign. Betancourt, who is 60, is running as part of the Verde Oxígeno and is the only woman in the Centro Esperanza Coalition (CCE), a centrist alliance.

Betancourt could be a boost for the coalition and embody its goals of transforming, overcoming polarization and, as its name indicates, giving hope to Colombia. In particular, the centrist candidate who in the past has been largely focused on anti-corruption and environmental protection, has said she will make women’s rights a cornerstone of her campaign.

Read the full story: Ingrid Betancourt, A Hostage Heroine Reinvented As Feminist For President

♀️ 😔  YOUNG WOMEN FACE THE BRUNT OF THE COVID-19 MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS


A growing number of studies around the world show that COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions have prompted a disproportionate increase in mental health illness among teen girls. These include rising suicide rates among adolescent females in the United States, Germany and Spain and a higher prevalence of anxiety and eating disorders in Israel. But why are women being disproportionately impacted?

There’s a range of reasons. In India, for example, young women had increased difficulty accessing education resources when schools went online and shared a disproportionate burden of household tasks as opposed to their male peers. Around the world, social media also played a significant role; without access to in-person socialization and hobbies, young people spent more time online, often comparing themselves to others, impacting feelings of self-worth. The situation is particularly dire given the challenges of accessing mental health support resources during the pandemic.

Read the full story: Why The COVID-19 Mental Health Crisis Is Hitting Teenage Girls The Hardest

💡  BRIGHT IDEA


Norwegian mobility company Podbike has announced that Frikar, its four-wheeled enclosed electric bike, will soon hit bike lanes on home turf. The futuristic-looking vehicle does require the user to pedal, which powers a generator and drive-by-wire system that keep the Frikar running — with a speed limited to 25 km/h.

#️⃣ TRENDING

“Mãe De Bolsonaro” is the top query on Twitter in Brazil, after news that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s mother Olinda Bonturi Bolsonaro had died at age 94.

😄📚 SMILE OF THE WEEK

Photo of the new President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola

New President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola

Philipp Von Ditfurth/ZUMA


London’s legendary bookshop Waterstones Gower Street tweeted a photo of a letter from an anonymous user confessing to having forgotten to pay for their books some 48 years ago. Owing approximately £100 ($136), adjusted for inflation, they had sent through £120 ($163) to make up for their tardiness. Touched by the kind gesture, the bookshop reciprocated by donating the money to the largest children’s reading charity in the United Kingdom.

👉   OTHERWISE ...

Dottoré! is a weekly column on Worldcrunch.com by Mariateresa Fichele, a psychiatrist and writer based in Naples, Italy. Read more about the series here.

Bucket of tears

I’ve been thinking and thinking about a patient of mine since yesterday. His name is Giovanni.

Psychiatrists, you might not know, are quite often asked the same unanswerable question: "Why does one become insane?”

When I was younger, I searched and searched for an answer, losing myself in scientific explanations about synapses, neurons and neurotransmitters.

By the end of my studies, I’d realized that the only thing that was clear was that I’d been clutching at straws to justify my work and give it a semblance of scientific dignity. In the years since, I’ve forced myself, in defiance of the authority of my position, to reply with a laconic but honest: "Sorry, but I don't know."

So when Giovanni asked me that same question, he was not happy at all with my answer. “Dottoré, how’s it possible that you don't understand why I became crazy?”

When he tried to ask me again one day, I tried a different response:

"Giová, do you cry?"

"No. Why?"

"Imagine that the tears that you don't shed, that you force yourself not to shed, because that's what you've been taught to do, all end up inside your heart. The heart is an organ that pumps blood, which brings nourishment and oxygen to the whole body. But over time those diverted tears accumulate to the point that the heart begins to pump them instead of your blood. Slowly your body becomes sick, but the part that suffers the most is your brain. Because tears don't contain oxygen and nourishment, just sadness."

I expected a reaction to this fanciful explanation, but instead Giovanni kept quiet and eventually left.

The next time I saw him, he said: "Dottoré, I've thought about it. I know you told me about the tears to make me feel better, but maybe you’re right. Because sometimes I feel that I have a lake, more than a heart. But it takes a very powerful pump to pump out all that water, and my heart alone cannot do it. And now that you've explained to me how I became crazy, can you also tell me if I'll ever get better?"

"Do you want another story or do you want the truth?”

"This time, I’d rather have the truth!”

"The answer is always the same then. I'm sorry, Giová, but I don't know this either. But I can tell you one thing for sure. I'll help you slowly, slowly with just a bucket. Because the truth is, not even I have that pump."

⏩  LOOKING AHEAD

• Italy's parliament will convene Monday to begin the process of voting for a new president to succeed Sergio Mattarella for a seven-year term.

• Qualification games for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2 for South, North and Central America as well as Asia. Argentina’s national team will not be able to rely on superstar Lionel Messi, still recovering from COVID-19.

• Next Thursday will mark 100 years since Nellie Bly died. The American journalist is known for her record-breaking 72-day trip around the world in 1889, inspired by Jules Vernes’ book Around the World in Eighty Days


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