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Professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer vs. Truth Jihad

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The good news for Robert Spencer is that at least one international celebrity considers him a leading expert on Islam. The bad news: The celebrity is Anders Breivik, who is in prison for murdering 77 people he considered too Islam-friendly. Breivik’s 1,500 page manifesto repeatedly lauded Spencer: “About Islam, I recommend essentially everything written by Robert Spencer,” Breivik raved in one of his 162 hat-tips to his Islamophobic mentor.

Breivik’s view of Islam is identical to Spencer’s, suggesting that the terrorist was heavily influenced by the JihadWatch Islamophobe. For example, under the heading “Robert Spencer, Author, Islam Unveiled, Director of” Breivik concludes: “Islam has a developed doctrine theology and law that mandates violence against unbelievers.” That is precisely the argument that Spencer has been obsessively and speciously promoting throughout his career as an anti-Muslim hatemonger. Indeed, virtually everything that Breivik says about Islam sounds like it was written by Spencer; and everything Spencer says about Islam sounds like the ravings of Breivik.

Breivik is not the only terrorist on board with Spencer’s warped views. DAESH and other takfiri terrorists would also undoubtedly agree with some, though not all, of Spencer’s grotesque misinterpretations of Islam. (It is darkly ironic that Spencer proffers an even more terroristic caricature of Islam than the most deluded “Islamic terrorists.”) During my recent interview with Spencer, I got the distinct impression that he was trying to convince me to join DAESH—or maybe even argue with them that their terrorism isn’t extreme enough. FBI, please take note!

Despite his full-time yet ineffectual efforts to recruit Muslims for DAESH or worse, Spencer has somehow been anointed an “Islam expert” on Fox News. But where’s the expertise? Though he has an MA in Religious Studies, his thesis was on “Church history — Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600.” So he is a second-tier scholar (lacking a doctorate) on the early Christian period, when Islam did not even exist. And though he conned Breivik and Fox News by claiming he has been reading about Islam in his spare time since around 1980—a dubious basis for “expertise”— in his almost four decades of alleged efforts to become an Islamic Studies autodidact, Spencer has never even bothered to learn Arabic, yet rakes in more cash than most tenured professors! According to the Daily Beast, Zionist operative David Horowitz pays Spencer $167,000 a year for his Islam-bashing services.

Islam is rooted in Qur’an, and the only Qur’an is the Arabic Qur’an. There are no translations, only interpretations. So one would think Spencer would have at least enrolled in night school Arabic classes if he fancied a career (mis)interpreting Islamic scripture. Since he apparently never did anything of the kind, one wonders why Fox News would hire such a charlatan, given that many thousands of actual Islam experts do exist and would be happy to share their views with the public. The likely answer: Nobody who knows anything about Islam would ever fabricate the kind of mendacious hate propaganda that is Spencer’s specialty. And anti-Islam hate propaganda is what Fox does best.

In our interview, Spencer rolled out a series of misinterpretations of Qur’an based on inadequate translations and out-of-context interpretations, all aimed at buttressing his absurd claim that all Muslims are ever and always required to kill or subjugate every “unbeliever” (meaning non-Muslim) they encounter. If he was correct, I guess I would be obliged to knock on my neighbor’s door and say, “Hi, I know we brought you hallal cookies last week, but I just had a conversation with Robert Spencer and he convinced me that from now on I have to offer you either death or subjugation. So which do you prefer? Subjugation? OK, great! Would you like a cookie with that?”

Spencer told me: “‘Fight them until there is no more persecution, and the religion (deen) is all for Allah.’ That is chapter 8 verse 39. That is an open-ended mandate for Muslims to fight until Islam is supreme over all other religions.”

But it is obviously nothing of the kind. Spencer has concealed the rest of the verse: “But if they stop, then Allah surely is the Seer of what they do.” In other words: If the persecutors stop, you stop! (And leave them to their own relationship with God.) So far from being an open-ended mandate to fight non-Muslims, 8:39 tells Muslims to fight against persecution or extreme corruption/injustice (fitna) and fight to win—until the enemy shows a willingness to end the fighting, in which case Muslims should reciprocate. Like everything else in the Qur’an, this verse offers divine guidance that is in perfect harmony with moral reason and simple common sense.

Another of Spencer’s absurd distortions is his claim that the Qur’an prohibits taking Christians or Jews as friends. The relevant Qur’anic passage (5:51) can be rendered: “You who have iman! Do not take the Jews and Christians as your allies; they are each others’ allies. Any of you who takes them as allies is one of them. God does not guide wrongdoers.” If we bracket the two groups as [Jews and Christians] then this verse may have been revealed at a rare historical moment when certain specific groups of Jews and Christians in Arabia were each others’ allies; or, as Shaykh Imran Hosein argues, it may have prophetically looked ahead to today, the run-up to Akhir uz-Zaman, when the Anglo-Zionist Empire, consisting of an alliance of Jewish and Western (post)Christian power, is the army of Dajjal. The Islamophobic alliance of genocidal Jew Horowitz with genocidal Christian Spencer exemplifies this all-too-plausible notion. Another possible interpretation: Do not make an alliance with Jews or Christians against your fellow Muslims. (That would have made sense in 7th century Arabia, as well as most other times and places.) Of course that is too simplistic, since the verse is addressed to “you who have iman” which is not the same thing as “nominal Muslims.” But in any case, 5:51 is obviously about alliance, not personal friendship! Since we are obliged to share the message of Islam with Jews and Christians, and since the only effective way to do that is through friendly relationships, Muslims with iman (heart-knowledge) are obviously required to be on terms of friendship with the People of the Book whenever possible. Unfortunately, with people like Spencer, it may not be possible.

Kevin Barrett interviews Robert Spencer

Kevin Barrett: Welcome to Truth Jihad Radio, the all out struggle for truth, where we bring on all sorts of outside-the-box views. I generally tend to agree with most of them, but today’s guest is an exception. He is Robert Spencer, self-styled Islam expert. He’s gotten all kinds of interesting reviews from all kinds of people, including dozens of plaudits from Anders Breivik, the alleged lone terrorist who slaughtered 77 people in Norway. Robert Spencer has been banned from the United Kingdom. People organize to keep him off campuses. But here at Truth Jihad Radio we believe the best remedy for bad speech is better speech. Don’t censor. Refute! Quoting the Qur’an: “Not equal are the good deed and the bad. Answer a bad deed by one which is better, so your enemy will become a devoted friend.” So I’m hoping to make friends with Robert Spencer. Hey Robert, how are you doing?

Robert Spencer: Well, all right. You know, it’s nice to have ad hominem smears and inaccuracies and lies coming from you as an introduction, but I didn’t really expect anything different.

Kevin Barrett: Wait a minute, what was inaccurate?

Robert Spencer: What was inaccurate? Well, in the first place, Breivik, if you actually read his insane manifesto, he says that he was inspired to do violence by al-Qaeda in the 1990s. And he recommends all sorts of things that I would never recommend, like an alliance with Hamas. And to claim that I incite him to violence when I’d never written anything publicly about Islam in the 1990s, is patently false.

Kevin Barrett: I didn’t say any of that. I just said he cited you dozens of times in his manifesto. Is that true or is that not true?

Robert Spencer: He quoted John Locke, he quoted Charles Darwin, he quoted so many people! And yet when people speak about him, they pretend as if he only quoted me, and as if I am responsible for his murders. In reality, he rebuked me for not calling for violence. And so the idea that I incited him to violence is incoherent on its face. I had nothing to do with Breivik’s murders any more than the Beatles have to do with Charles Manson’s murders, even though he said that he was incited to do violence by them. And so if you want to be friends, we can only be friends on the basis of truth and accuracy, and if you have any interest in those things, then you will have to acknowledge that what I’m saying about Breivik is true.

Kevin Barrett: I’m sure it is. You didn’t contradict anything I said. All I said was that he cited you dozens of times.

Robert Spencer: That’s correct. But the implication is, whenever this is mentioned, is that I have somehow some kind of responsibility for his murders. Because otherwise you wouldn’t bother to mention it. So let’s just be clear about your intentions in the first place. You are trying to smear my reputation. You don’t for example say that I was, up until the Obama Administration, a trainer for the FBI and for the military.

Kevin Barrett: That’s terrifying!

Robert Spencer: You don’t say that my work has been featured at many, many mainstream venues: the Heritage Foundation —

Kevin Barrett: That’s mainstream?!

Robert Spencer: —you don’t say any of that, you only make this spurious claim about Breivik. And so you see, it’s very clear to me, as well as to you of course, though you probably won’t admit it, and to your audience no doubt, that what you are trying to do is defame me. You are not trying to have an honest discussion from the get-go. I didn’t expect anything different. I understand. I don’t mind. I don’t mind having a discussion with you. Let’s just be upfront about what’s being done here.

Kevin Barrett: I would like this to lead to a friendship—

Robert Spencer: But the Qur’an says do not take Jews and Christians to be your friends, Chapter Five, Verse 51.

Kevin Barrett: No, no, that’s awliya’, meaning your allies. That’s a totally incorrect interpretation of that passage.

Robert Spencer: Why don’t you explain why it’s an incorrect interpretation?

Kevin Barrett: I was going to try to frame what we’re doing here first, if you don’t mind. We’re debating the topic: “The Qur’an teaches that Muslims should wage war against and subjugate unbelievers.” So jumping back to the Qur’anic quote about taking Jews and Christians for your friends or allies: Like every quote in Qur’an, it can only be interpreted in the context of asbab an-nuzûl, the occasion of revelation. Like all other such verses, this verse is very specifically talking about a particular moment in a particular military (or political) struggle. You generalize from these sorts of verses—

Robert Spencer: You’re familiar with Ibn Kathir, right? The famous tafsir author? He’s a mainstream, widely-accepted commentator on Qur’an. In 551 discussing the asbab an-nuzul he says “Allah forbids his believing servants from having Jews and Christians as friends because they are the enemies of Islam and its people. May Allah curse them.” So if you have a problem it’s with Ibn Kathir and his ilk, not with me.

Kevin Barrett: Actually I would re-interpret or have my own interpretations of the entire history of Islamic scripture. And indeed that is precisely what the scripture itself tells us to do. It tells us to use our reason. Unlike all other scriptures, at least that I know of, the Qur’an repeatedly tells us to use `aql or reason. So we should be constantly reinterpreting scriptures according to reason. And Muslims throughout history have of course been doing that. But let me frame the discussion by giving my overall take on what the Qur’an is about—the context that we need to interpret any specific verses you may bring up. And that (context) is that the Qur’an is a revision of earlier Middle Eastern monotheisms, the first being Zoroastrianism, and its stepchildren Judaism and Christianity. In the Qur’an we get a clarification and rational interpretation of these earlier scriptures, and a scripture that insists on reason and, above all, justice. The earlier scriptures present a grotesquely unjust (portrait of) God. In the Torah, the Old Testament, God is (portrayed as) a psychopath in many, many passages. I can quote some of these for you. They are so far beyond anything that you could possibly take out of context from the Qur’an! And in the Injîl, the New Testament, the only way to redeem humanity is through the torture and death of His “son.” That is completely irrational and unjust. And He’s also too forgiving, in that He forgives everybody all their sins, all they have to do is mutter the magic words “somebody else died for my sins” and they’re saved! In Islam, we are all ultimately responsible for everything we do. God is good, all of creation is good. God is rational and just, and we are asked to be rational and just. That is the framework of everything in the Qur’an, and everything in the Qur’an has to be interpreted within that framework.

Robert Spencer: Okay, great. Now in the first place, whatever the Bible is, the Bible might be the most evil book on earth, and Judaism and Christianity might be the most evil religions on earth, but that is absolutely irrelevant to the question at hand, which is whether the Qur’an teaches warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers. The fact is that Islamic apologists often try to change the subject in this way.

Kevin Barrett: It’s not changing the subject.

Robert Spencer: But the fact is, it’s irrelevant. It has nothing to do with it.

Kevin Barrett: It has everything to do with it.

Robert Spencer: The Qur’an stands on its own and has to be evaluated on its own.

Kevin Barrett: No it doesn’t. The Qur’an presents itself as the latest revelation in this series of revelations. It doesn’t stand alone.

Spencer: “Fight them until there is no more persecution, and the religion is all for Allah.” That is chapter 8 verse 39. That is an open-ended mandate for Muslims to fight until Islam is supreme over all other religions. And “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden, even if they are from the People of the Book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” (9:29). This is also an open-ended call to wage war against Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and others.

Kevin Barrett: No it’s not.

Spencer: Okay, explain why those understandings are false.

Kevin Barrett: Because both of those were revealed in a particular context of particular battles. The entire Qur’an must be read in its context. First, as I said earlier, as the Qur’an tells us, the context is the series of monotheistic revelations. It doesn’t mention the Zoroastrian revelations much, but it repeatedly mentions the so-called Jewish and Christian revelations, and says it is part of that process, confirming and correcting. So you need to understand the Qur’an’s position in this series of revelations. Secondly, each verse of Qur’an comes out of a particular context. And to understand those particular contexts, we need to understand the general context. And the general contexts—I will summarize it as briefly as I can—is that the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, was basically turning the other cheek from the year 610 (when his prophetic mission began) to the year 622 c.e.. The first revelations, in 610, led to the beginnings of a community that was standing up for truth and justice in a larger community that was extremely oligarchical, exploitive, and oppressive. And so he preached for truth and justice peacefully, under horrific persecution, for twelve years. And then when his persecutors plotted to kill him, he barely escaped, made it to Medina in 622, and waged a defensive struggle against these oligarchical, unjust persecutors. All of the revelations about warfare are about waging defensive war against persecution and for justice, and to establish justice. The various details of each of these revelation refer to specific moments in this larger series of battles that are in self defense and 100% in the cause of justice—as opposed to the Old Testament, which over and over calls for aggressive warfare, genocide, looting, and plunder.

Robert Spencer: Okay, good. When you say this you’re placing yourself outside the mainstream interpretations that have been in Islamic traditions throughout history.

Kevin Barrett: No I’m not.

Robert Spencer: Muhammad’s earliest biographer, the 8th century Muslim Ibn Ishaq —I expect you’ve read his Sirat Rasul Allah, I highly recommend it—

Kevin Barrett: You haven’t read any of it! (In Arabic): Do you speak Arabic, ya shaykh? (In English): You don’t even know Arabic, and you’re telling me you can interpret Qur’an? You don’t know a word of Arabic.

Robert Spencer: You won’t even allow me to speak!

Kevin Barrett: First tell me if you know Arabic. If you don’t know Arabic you’ve never read Qur’an.

Robert Spencer: (avoiding the question) Ibn Ishaq says Allah allowed Muslims to wage defensive warfare. But that was not, contrary to what you have said, Allah’s last word on the circumstances under in which Muslims should fight. Ibn Ishaq explains offensive jihad by invoking the same Qur’an verse which I mentioned earlier, chapter 8 verse 39. “Fight them that there should be no more seduction…”

Kevin Barrett: Seduction?! No, INJUSTICE! Do you know what the Arabic word for that is, Robert? What’s the Arabic word?

Robert Spencer: See, you cannot allow me to speak—

Kevin Barrett: You don’t even know the word!

Robert Spencer: See, you cannot allow me to speak because you know what I’m saying is true and you keep having to interrupt. And the religion is Allah’s, and Allah alone is worshipped. That is the end of what Ibn Ishaq says. And there are many others in Islamic tradition like the great medieval scholar Ibn Qayyim who outlines the stages of Muhammad’s prophetic career. But he does it a little differently from how you do. He says this: “For 13 years after the beginning of his messengership, he called people to Allah through preaching, without fighting or jizya, the tax on the People of the Book (9:29) and to practice patience and forbearance. Then he was commanded to migrate, and later permission was given to fight. Then”—and this is the part you left out—“he was commanded to fight those who fought him and to restrain himself from those who did not make war with him. Later he was commanded to fight the polytheists until Allah’s religion was fully established.”

Kevin Barrett: And how does that contradict what I said?

Robert Spencer: A 20th century chief justice of Saudi Arabia said this: “At first the fighting was forbidden. Then it was permitted. And after that it was made obligatory.”

Kevin Barrett: That’s exactly what I said.

Robert Spencer: And he distinguishes two groups that Muslims must fight—

Kevin Barrett: But NOT all Muslims for all time! The (specific) Muslims at that time, idiot!

Robert Spencer: Against all who worship others along with Allah, as mentioned in Surat al-Baqarah, Al Imran, and al-Tauba, and other surahs of the Qur’an. And he invokes many verses to establish that it is obligatory to fight those who worship others along with Allah. That is not self-defense. That is warfare to establish the hegemony of Shariah around the world.

Kevin Barrett: Okay, let’s look at how this has been applied in practice. When Muslims conquered India and before that Persia, there indeed was a discussion about to what extent these people are part of a protected religion. And those interpretations have continually moved toward the correct interpretation, which is that other religions are protected. But this was in fact the practice very early on. In the early Islamic conquest of North Africa, for example, the Christians and Jews were protected. It was actually the Jews and some of the Christians who invited the Muslims into Spain. Because religious persecution based on the Old Testament, which again is ten thousand times worse than anything you could (falsely) imagine in Qur’an, was leading to massive fighting and oppression between (different groups of) Christians and Jews. So dissident Christians and Jews invited the Muslims into Spain, where they established peace and tolerance, just as in the conquest of the Byzantine empire and others. I would agree with you that there is an interpretation that says that strictly speaking, a Meccan polytheist—and they’re referring to Meccan style polytheists, not anybody else—needs to come to Islam. That’s one interpretation that was applied in the early days to a certain extent. But overall, the record of religious tolerance of Islam in power is, again, vastly better than the record of religious tolerance of Christianity in power. And if you ask yourself what’s the proof of that? Well, in every Muslim-ruled or Muslim-majority country, there have been these protected communities. There are still many Christians in Egypt. There are many Christians in other parts of the Islamic world. They are virtually always protected. Now I know you’re going to say they’re dhimmis, they’re oppressed. Well, yes and no. I don’t know if you know this, Robert, but in the Islamic world, Jewish and Christian communities have often been wealthier and more powerful (on a per-capita basis) than Muslims. That’s God’s truth. I’ve been in Morocco, where the Jewish community basically runs the place, for better or worse. And the same has often been true in many different times and places. During the past five or six centuries, when the Ottomans were the main competition to Christian Europe, where wars of religion were the norm, and where religious persecution and witch hunts killed hundreds of thousands (actually millions) of people…even the arch-Islamophobe Bernard Lewis, who is a bit like you but maybe a little more moderate, admits that a vast wave of victims of religious persecution went from the Christian lands because of this history of religious tolerance in Islam. So—

Robert Spencer: Okay, terrific, Kevin, you’ve said a lot of things, now if I might have a chance to reply, the fact is that, in the first place, you’re right, and I have to agree with you on one point and one point only, and that is that yes, there were Christians who asked the Muslims to come into Spain. But it’s not because, as you claim, that the Christians were so oppressed by their rulers and they saw how wonderful and just the Muslims were. In reality, what it was was, there was this ruler of some of the Christians, Count Julian, who had sent his daughter to the court of the Visigothic King Roderick. You can read about this in my forthcoming book The History of Jihad from Muhammad to ISIS. Roderick’s court wanted her to marry someone influential in the court. But instead, Roderick actually raped her, which Count Julian was so enraged by that he went to Tariq Ibn Ziyad, the Muslim ruler in North Africa, and invited him to invade Spain. So it was a matter of his hatred and revenge, and his rage against Roderick the Visigothic king, that led him to invite the Muslims into Spain. The idea that al-Andalus, the Muslim Spain, was some tolerant place that was wonderful for Jews and Christians is an absolute historical myth. For example, the Muslim governing official and poet Ibn Abdun in 1100 detailed these rules for the Christians and Muslims of Seville: A Muslim must not act as a masseur to a Jew or a Christian. He must not clear their rubbish or clean their latrines. In fact the Jews and Christians are more suited to such work, which are degrading tasks. A Muslim must act as a guide or stableman for any animal owned by a Jew or Christian. He must not act as a donkey driver or hold the stirrups for them. If it be noticed that a Muslim contravenes these prohibitions, he shall be rebuked. It is forbidden to sell a coat that once belonged to a leper to a Jew or Christian.” Which is based on Quran chapter 9 verse 28 which says the infidels are unclean. “Unless the buyer is informed of its origin; and likewise if this garment belonged to a debauched person.” Anyway, on and on and on. (22:00)

Kevin Barrett: Wait a minute! So you’re not supposed to give Christians and Jews leprosy? What’s wrong with that?

Robert Spencer: That’s obviously not the point of what was said. “It is forbidden to give them the greeting as-salaamu alaikum, peace be upon you, because Satan has gained mastery over them, they are Satan’s party.” Which is the Qur’an chapter 58:20. “The sound of their bells is prohibited, public worship is prohibited. Umayyad Spain also became a center of the Islamic slave trade.”

Kevin Barrett: Wait a minute, stop! You’re wrong. You’re saying Ummayid Spain? In 1100? Isn’t that after the Murabitûn (Almoravids) had invaded?

Robert Spencer: No, that was actually in Ummayid Spain, uh, ah, it’s, ah, documented in the book. (Editor’s note: Spencer is wrong: There was no Ummayid dynasty in Spain in 1100. The Ummayid dynasty’s dates are 756–1031, after which it fell to the fundamentalist Murabitûn movement.) Muslim slave buyers could purchase sex slave girls who were Christians, as young as 11 years old, as well as slave boys.

Kevin Barrett: Slavery was ubiquitous in the entire world at that point. A book on this (al-Andulus, a.k.a. Muslim-ruled Spain) I would recommend is God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe 570–1215 by David Levering Lewis.

Robert Spencer: That’s full of historical inaccuracies.

Kevin Barrett: No it’s not.

Robert Spencer: Much better is one that came out recently, The Myth of al-Andalus, by Dario Fernandez, I believe the guy’s name is. I use it as a source in my book The History of Jihad. There were riots in Spain, in Granada, in 1066, and ten thousand Jews were killed because the Muslim leader placed a Jewish man in charge of the local area. And Muslims knew that Islamic law forbade Jews to have authority over Muslims.

Kevin Barrett: Was there more of that going on in the Muslim world or the Christian world?

Robert Spencer. I’ll tell ya. Now, if you look at the population of Jews worldwide, people vote with their feet, Kevin, if you look at the population of Jews worldwide at the beginning of the 20th century, and that’s not to deny that the holocaust took place in Europe, but there were 18 million Jews in the world at the beginning of the 20th century. 17 million were in Europe, and one million in Islamic lands.

Kevin Barrett: Of course! That’s the 20th century, when Europe had the money. (For a fair comparison) go back to when the Ottoman lands were equally prosperous.

Robert Spencer: …the discriminatory ongoing institutionalized harassment that dhimmitude entails. And so they knew they would be able to lead better lives in Europe, and they went there.

Kevin Barrett: No, that’s wrong. Whenever the Islamic world was just as prosperous as Europe, the population of Jews voted with their feet by going to the Islamic world. So this is purely an economic phenomenon, based on Western wealth. Because over the past two and a half centuries, the West conquered the world through the most brutal, genocidal series of wars ever known to humanity, and enriched itself by plunder. Since 1700, 1750, we’ve had hundreds of millions of people murdered in everything from wars of genocide to induced famines, all over the world. And today, you talk about violence in Islamic lands, but if you look at wars and mass killings over the past half century or century, what you’ll find is nearly 100 million people slaughtered in the European world wars. According to Noam Chomsky and André Vltchek’s body count, which is very well documented, since World War II, the United States empire has killed 55 to 60 million people around the world in documented CIA and military interventions. That’s ten holocausts worth. And according to Gideon Polya, who is perhaps the world’s leading expert on avoidable mortality in comparative genocides and holocausts, 32 million Muslims have been murdered around the world, post-9/11, by the so-called “war on terror.” If you add up all the deaths caused by Muslims in comparable situations over the same period, you get a minuscule fraction of that that. It barely even shows up as a blip on the chart.

Robert Spencer: Kevin, you’re changing the subject. The debate topic was about the Qur’an teaching warfare against unbelievers.

Kevin Barrett: If it did, those statistics would not exist.

Robert Spencer: In regards to millions of people who have been killed, the jihad is the most devastating murder machine that has ever been known on the planet. There are hundreds of millions of Hindus who have been killed. 370 million people I believe it is, throughout history.

Kevin Barrett: Come on! You’re raving.

Robert Spencer: The body counts are not very favorable to your side. But the question at hand is whether the Qur’an teaches warfare about unbelievers. And that is, obviously, the answer is yes.

Kevin Barrett: So what’s the Arabic word for unbeliever?

Robert Spencer: Well, there’s plenty. There’s kafara (sic). There’s hypocrites. There are…

Kevin Barrett: They’re not all the same. And none of them translate as “unbeliever.”

Robert Spencer: There are apostates. And so on.

Kevin Barrett: Be specific about a particular word.

Robert Spencer: You have “slay the mushrikûn,” the polytheists, those who associate others with Allah.

Kevin Barrett: Meaning the Meccans! The Meccan oligarchs, idiot!

Robert Spencer: What did you call me? What’d you say, what’d you say?

Kevin Barrett: I’m calling you names because you deserve them.

Robert Spencer: You call me names because you’re intellectually bankrupt, you have no arguments, so all you can do is talk over me and try to smear and hurl insults. I didn’t expect anything else, Kevin. But it belies your claim that you wanted to be friends. You’re getting rattled now.

Kevin Barrett: I’m getting rattled? You’re kind of ranting.

Robert Spencer: Calm down, take a breath, try to talk about this rationally. You say those verses are only applicable to the Meccans at this time. I already quoted to you various Islamic authorities to say no, offensive jihad takes precedence over defensive and the period of tolerance, and is valid for all time.

Kevin Barrett: That is a minuscule fraction of the Islamic scholarship.

Robert Spencer: That’s not actually the case. The Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia—

Kevin Barrett: Saudi Arabia was created by the West! They’re Wahhabis!

Robert Spencer: They have trillions of dollars to spread Wahhabism all around the world.

Kevin Barrett: Absolutely. And who’s behind that? The King of Saudi Arabia just said the United States was behind that. Did you hear him?

Robert Spencer: The United States has not done anything that I’m interested in defending. They have done plenty of stupid moves when it comes to dealing with jihad.

Kevin Barrett: The West created the Wahhabi movement. There would be no Wahhabi movement if the Americans hadn’t created it.

Robert Spencer: The British actually created it.

Kevin Barrett: Right, the British created it and later the Americans put it on steroids.

Robert Spencer: Muhammad’s earliest biographer Ibn Ishaq is actually the one who was the first to have propagated this notion. Many Islamic scholars, Ibn Qayim, whom I quoted before, Ibn Kathir, you can also find it in Tafsir, in Qurtobi and many other Tafasir, that this is the mainstream interpretation, that the offensive verses supercede the defensive ones and the ones calling for tolerance. So the idea that this is something that is only for the 7th century…in any case, the larger question is, why would a book that’s supposed to be the guidebook to humanity for all time contain so much material that’s only applicable to people who were long dead?

Kevin Barrett: I can answer that, if you let me.

Robert Spencer: The idea that it’s only for the 7th century, that’s ridiculous on its face. And the problem is that so few Muslims actually believe that. What you need to do is go into Muslim communities and convince them of your point of view, because it’s a decidedly minority one.

Kevin Barrett: I have been living in Muslim communities and countries, mostly in the US where people from all over the world come, since 1993. And I have never heard this interpretation that you’re giving. You claim that there are only two choices here: Either the Qur’an and its specific verses are only applicable to particular situations in the 7th century; or every verse can be plucked out of context and generalized for all time as a commandment for Muslims. And both are utterly absurd. All interpretive tasks, whether you’re interpreting a book, say in literary studies, which is the field I come out of, or whether you’re doing scriptural interpretation, scriptural hermeneutics, which is basically the same thing (as literary hermeneutics) only applied to sacred texts, the way you interpret a (sacred) text is by looking at the full picture. And as I said, the full picture here is that there was a twelve year period of turning the other cheek; then there was a period of fighting a defensive war against injustice, against persecutors. This is the larger context. And all of these verses, not just the ones you’re quoting, the war verses—even virtually all of the war verses are followed by something like “but mercy is better” or “make peace with them if they desist.” All the aggressors and oppressors have to do is desist, and you make peace with them! And this is even in the strongest war verses. So the way we interpret this, Robert, is that we look at the full (general) context, and we look at the context of revelation for each individual verse, and then we apply the general principles evident behind the Qur’anic revelation in general, to all such verses. The general principle, as I said, is that God is absolutely just. And life is a test, an imtihan. We are being tested on how just we can be. That’s how we interpret these verses. And yes, there is a time when fighting against injustice is necessary. And in those periods, we use verses that tell us to get out there and fight as hard as we can. This is the way all Muslims understand it. My wife, for example, is from Morocco, and grew up with the traditional interpretation of that Muslim community. And she often talks about “the right to kill.” What does she mean by that? Well, there is a Qur’anic verse that says that oppression is worse than killing—a classic example of the importance of justice in Islam. So when my wife sees some injustice and says “I have the right to kill,” for example when she sees Palestinians being massacred for peacefully demonstrating for the right to return to their homes peacefully, that is both an emotional expression of seeking justice, and it’s also literally true. It is better, when oppression rises past a certain point, such as when twelve years of persecution reaches a certain point, you have the right to go out and cut off heads, literally and metaphorically. It’s better to do that, to fight for justice, when injustice reaches a certain point. This is the larger principle that organizes all of this discourse that you’re misinterpreting in, yes, an idiotic way, by ripping things out of context in order to slander an entire people. And you may not intend to, but you are encouraging mass murders, such as Breivik’s mass murders, through these grotesque misinterpretations. And you’re claiming that people like al-Qaeda share your interpretation. No they don’t! Bin Laden is absolutely clear, in all of his authentic statements such as the ones (Duke University professor) Bruce Lawrence has collected, that he’s fighting a defensive war—that he said, wrongly in my view, that it’s OK to kill civilians because they’re killing so many of our civilians. “They’re killing millions of our civilians, so we have the right to kill a couple of their civilians to try to discourage them from killing more millions of our civilians.” This is what Bin Laden said over and over. It has nothing to do with the nonsense you’re yammering about.

Robert Spencer: You’re quite right again. Bin Laden always framed his call to jihad in defensive terms, because of course there’s no caliph. And Islamic law forbids offensive jihad without the permission of the caliph. So he had to frame all of his activities as defensive because of the absence of the caliphate. This is a simple matter of Islamic law. But you know, it’s interesting that when you’re talking about asbab al-nuzûl, the circumstances of revelation, that when you mentioned “oppression is worse than killing” or “persecution is worse than slaughter” which is in chapter two verse 190 and chapter two verse 117 of the Qur’an, it’s interesting to note the circumstances of that revelation. It wasn’t actually anything to do with defense at all. That Muhammad had sent out a raiding party to raid the caravan of the Quraysh, the pagan Arabs who had rejected his claim to be a prophet (and killed, tortured, and persecuted his followers, finally vowing and plotting to kill him and annihilate his community, nearly succeeding! –KB) and they found the caravan only while it was during the sacred month, one of the four sacred months when fighting was forbidden. And so they calculated that if they left the caravan alone, it would get back to Mecca before the sacred month was over. And so they decided to violate the prohibition on fighting during the sacred month and to raid the caravan. At first Muhammad was very upset with them. But then he got this convenient revelation that said persecution is worse than slaughter and claimed that the Quraysh were persecuting the Muslims.

Kevin Barrett: Of course they were!

Robert Spencer: Even though this was after the hijra, and the Muslims weren’t even in Mecca, they were in Medina.

Kevin Barrett: It was a war of extermination!

Robert Spencer: There were no dealings with the Quraysh at all, and so consequently there was no truth to the idea that they were being persecuted, but it was blamed as a pretext in order to violate the moral principle. The precedent here is that any moral principle can be set aside for the spread of the Islamic movement.

Kevin Barrett: Nonsense.

Robert Spencer: And that’s a very dangerous principle, when you’ve got people like Osama Bin Laden, or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or others around, who are invoking the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example in order to justify what they’re doing.

Kevin Barrett: You’re right about Baghdadi (misinterpreting Qur’an). Bin Laden is a very complex figure, who many believe, with some evidence, may have been some kind of double agent. But much of what he said was well crafted to resonate with Muslims. But Baghdadi—what a joke. And you’re right that there are ways of misinterpreting scripture that can lead to empowering idiots like Baghdadi and the Wahhabis, who the king of Saudi Arabia recently informed us were armed and trained and turned into the “jihadists” of al-Qaeda and ISIS by the Americans. He did it purely as a service to the American empire, because he’s a slave of the American empire, just as he was a slave of the British empire who created the Wahhabi movement. They would only be a couple of desert lunatics if it weren’t for the British and the Americans. But in any case, the interpretation you’re giving here is totally wrong. The Meccans were carrying out a long-term campaign of extermination against the Muslims. The Qur’an is absolutely clear in verse after verse after verse that God does not love aggressors, and that defensive war is the only war that’s permitted. Now you’re going to say there is this principle of abrogation so that some revelations totally eliminate others. That’s ludicrous! And when you’re looking back at classic Islamic scholarship, Robert, what you’re missing is that it’s really not consistent. In the pre-modern era, the notion of really rigorous philosophical consistency…well, some people managed it occasionally, but for the most part, it was very easy for people to maintain contradictions. And as Emerson said, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” And these people were not foolishly consistent. And so it was entirely possible that they would be entertaining this notion of “rah rah let’s go out and kill our enemies” — which is of course what all rulers throughout all time have used all ideologies and religions for. Every polity on earth has had some kind of sacred ideology that it mobilizes to go to war. But again, I urge you to go back and look at the larger context of this latest in a series of divine revelations. The earlier ones have been distorted to give us an unjust (picture of) God and to allow human injustice. Now we have this, the latest revelation, that tells us God is just and humans must be just. That is the overall context in which all of this has to be interpreted.

Robert Spencer: You’ve said a lot of things, Kevin. You’ve got to give me a little chance. Baghdadi has a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Baghdad.

Kevin Barrett: And from Camp Bucca.

Robert Spencer: I don’t know how you think that he doesn’t know anything about Islam, but clearly not only does he know plenty about Islam, but 30,000 Muslims from around the world joined ISIS and traveled to Iraq and Syria to do so. And so clearly many other Muslims believed that he did know quite a bit about Islam. And of course ISIS very scrupulously pattered its activity after the teachings of Qur’an and the example of Muhammad. You preemptively mentioned abrogation which I had not mentioned, and hadn’t thought to mention. But thanks for bringing it up. You say it’s ridiculous. So now I guess you’re on record calling the Qur’an ridiculous, since in Chapter 2 verse 106 it says “Whenever we abrogate or cause to be forgotten a passage we bring you one that is just as good or better.” And in regard to defensive jihad and all the warfare being solely defensive, you once again run up against the other Qur’an passages I’ve mentioned, such as notably 8:39, which says that you should fight until religion is all for Allah. If you’re fighting till religion is all for Allah at a certain point you’re going to run out of people who are aggressing against you and you’re just going to be fighting people on the basis of their unbelief, which is also clearly the basis for fighting which is given in 9:29, when it says fight even the people of the book. It doesn’t say fight only the people of the book who are attacking you or anything of the kind. It says you fight even the people of the book until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued. Now here again also, you run up against the problem that when you say that fighting is only to redress injustice, and to fight against aggression, there are many Islamic scholars who will tell you that unbelief itself is a form of injustice and aggression.

Kevin Barrett:
What is the word for “unbelief”?

Robert Spencer:
What is unbelief?

Kevin Barrett:
What is the Arabic word that you’re referring to?

Robert Spencer:
Kufr. (He pronounces it “kuffer.” -KB) The idea that you’re not acknowledging that Muhammad is a prophet.

Kevin Barrett:
That’s not what kufr means.

Robert Spencer:
No, that’s not what it means, but I’m going on from there. That it goes on—the idea that it’s unjust in itself to not have shariah established in society. And so you have to fight against that injustice. Which means waging what I guess you would call a pre-emptive war, or in other words an aggressive offensive war, against those who simply are not believers, simply are not Muslims. So this is not solely a defensive conflict. But it’s clear that offensive warfare is mandated in the Qur’an and in Islamic tradition.

Kevin Barrett:
That’s bizarre. Then why would there have been the twelve years of turning the other cheek? Obviously you have to look at the overall context, not cherry pick this or that verse. Now when I said abrogation is absurd, I certainly didn’t mean that the word or the verse in the Qur’an is absurd. What I meant was that the notion that parts of the Qur’an should be erased and ignored is, of course, absurd! It’s the Qur’an. It’s all God’s word. It’s all equally meaningful.

Robert Spencer:
You are on record saying that plenty of it, including most of the verses I’ve adduced today, only apply to the 7th century.

Kevin Barrett:
No! No I haven’t! All verses in the Qur’an—you’re totally misunderstanding, intentionally or not, I don’t know. What I’m saying is that the verses that you’re citing here, the war verses, like all of the other verses, must be interpreted in their context and then generalized for moral principles. And the moral principle is that you put up with a lot, but then when you have to fight, in self defense, you go all out and you win. Every single verse that you cited here can easily be so interpreted. And you’re also leaving out all of the qualifications that follow these verses. All of the verses you’re citing have qualifications afterwards that say things like “but it’s better to be merciful” or “if they desist from fighting then you must desist too.” But you’re just leaving those out, because you’re being dishonest. You’re cherry picking, then you’re warping, and you’re focusing only on certain verses, and then not even giving us the full verse and what follows it.

Robert Spencer:
Let’s test your theory. You say that all these verses that I’ve adduced, they’re followed by cautions to be merciful and so on. So let’s look at 9:29. It says “fight those who do not believe in Allah or the last day, do not consider unlawful what Allah and his messenger have made unlawful, and do not accept the religion of truth, even if they are people of the book, until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.” Right after that you have 9:30. “The Jews say Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say that Christ is the son of Allah. That is the statement from their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieve. May Allah destroy them. How they are deluded.”

Kevin Barrett:
That’s not a very good translation.
Robert Spencer:
It’s Saheeh International. (A Qur’an interpretation not noted for its felicity, but a favorite of Wahhabis, including the Saudi government and ISIS. -KB) It’s made by Muslims for Muslims and you can find it online at So why would Muslims make this poor translation?

Kevin Barrett:
The thing is, the only Qur’an is the Arabic Qur’an. That is 100% agreed-upon by all Muslims. So if what you’re talking about is not the actual Arabic Qur’an, what you’re talking about is all sorts of various interpretations, and they are all very different. And many of the worst ones are by Muslims, unfortunately.

Robert Spencer:
So why is it that Arabic is so hard to translate? And even when Muslims make Qur’ans for Muslims, they can’t get it right?

Kevin Barrett:
The first thing you would learn in Literary Studies 101, Robert, is that the better the discourse, the harder it is to translate. Even the simplest, dumbest discourse is impossible to (perfectly) translate. But Shakespeare, much less the Qur’an, is the most impossible to translate.

Robert Spencer:
Why is it so hard to translate?

Kevin Barrett:
Because number one, there is no such thing as (perfectly) accurate translation from any language to any other language. All language only “means” within its own context. Number two, the richer the discourse, the harder the translation. So, for example, everyone would agree that Shakespeare simply can’t be translated. The German Shakespeare, which Germans like pretty much, is not even close to being Shakespeare. With the Qur’an it’s even more so. The Qur’an is such that, for example, the Pickthall translation is not very good. God bless Pickthall, he was a faithful Muslim and so on, but his translation has got all kinds of problems. But actually any translation does. It is true, though, that you can get a better idea of the meaning of the original Arabic by reading a very large number of translations, especially those that include footnotes with references to Arabic words and concepts. That’s the way you’d have to go to try to understand Qur’an if you don’t speak Arabic.

Robert Spencer:
Hey, that’s a terrific idea. I happen to have a Qur’an with me that’s got notes by Maududi, the famous Pakistani Muslim scholar. And on 9:29, this is what he says. “The purpose for which Muslims are required to fight”—note that, required to fight, not asked to—required to fight—is not, as one might think, to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather, its purpose is to put an end to the suzerainty”—that means rule—of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over people.” So this is an open-ended command to all Muslims to fight against all non-Muslim governments and non-shariah governments.

Kevin Barrett:
That’s not a very good interpretation. I would recommend the Muhammad Assad one. Have you read the Muhammad Assad translation?

Robert Spencer:
Authority and rule should only be vested in those who follow the true faith. Unbelievers who do not follow this true faith should live in a state of subordination. That’s Maududi. Maududi’s books can be found in any Islamic bookstore in the country. He is very mainstream.

Kevin Barrett:
Well, I’d say Maududi isn’t exactly mainstream, but he’s one among many notable Islamic thinkers. But I would really recommend the Muhammad Assad translation and commentary as one that’s pretty straightforward, accurate, and elegant. But again, none of these verses that you’re citing contradict in any way, shape, or form the principle that I’ve already given you, which is that all of these verses are tied to their initial context, and that to evaluate them, we look at what the verse says, we look at what the context was, and then we apply the same moral principles in our lives today. So if there is a situation in which we’re fighting with people, whether you call them kuffar, which means ungrateful truth concealers—it certainly does not mean “unbeliever”—but if we’re fighting with ungrateful truth concealers—and you know, I guess I am fighting with an ungrateful truth concealer right now! You sure interrupt a lot for somebody who doesn’t like to be interrupted. So, if you’re fighting with this or that variety of person that you’re going to war in self defense against, whatever the word may be, you fight until you’ve won. And then you establish the regime of the just in that place where you’ve just won. I think that’s a perfectly good admonition. One example today would be the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That movement put an end to the misrule of the US puppet Shah with his CIA torture chambers, who massacred and tortured vast numbers of people as he looted the country. And of course this revolution, which like all revolutions devour their children, did include a fair bit of hideous and unfortunate and unethical violence. But there was a real effort made by the people behind that revolution to put Islam into practice and establish the rule of the just—in this case, people who were inspired by Islamic ethical ideals. Which are, once again, that God is just, and we must be just. So we put those people in power and try to build a just society. This is what Islam has been trying to do from the get-go. And it’s been imperfect. Let’s look at all human societies, the Muslim ones and the non-Muslim ones. It’s hard to say that the Muslim ones have been all that much better. But I do think they have (overall) been better. Even the Crusaders generally admitted that Salah ad-Din and their opponents were more ethical warriors than they were. Which of course wasn’t saying much. And today, studies by people like Dr. Javad Jamil have shown that today’s Muslim communities have significantly lower rates of virtually all of the negative social indicators, from drug and alcohol addiction to divorce, single parent families, violent crime, on and on. There is a significantly lower level of those unfortunate things in Muslim societies even today, after the Muslim world has been colonized and trashed by Western imperialism. So if you look at the real-world outcome of all this—and that’s what matters, Robert—if you want to misinterpret and say that since the Bible is the basis of Western civilization, and since Moses was ordered to, Phineas was ordered to slaughter mixed-race couples, they have to exterminate all the Canaanites, exterminate all the Amalekites…in the Book of Esther the Jews celebrate the murder of 75,000 innocent people—well, at least 74,000 were innocent, maybe there were a couple of anti-Semites among them. So you can pull these things out of your scriptures and claim that whole peoples and whole societies are bad because of these scriptures. And that’s probably a better argument against the Bible than against the Qur’an.

Robert Spencer:
You said Islamic societies were superior to the West. Do you live in a Muslim country?

Kevin Barrett:
I spent a year in Morocco, and have spent moderately extended periods in Turkey—

Robert Spencer:
But you don’t live in a Muslim country.

Kevin Barrett:
I would be happy to. Actually, the best year of my life was the year I spent in Morocco. By far. And I would be happy to go back there.

Robert Spencer:
Regarding this Islamic Revolution in Iran. I take it that, let me make sure I understood you correctly, you said that revolution devours its children. But the (Islamic) Revolution itself you seem to be portraying in a positive light, is that correct?

Kevin Barrett:

Robert Spencer:
Okay. Ayatollah Khomeini says this. And this is an exact quote. “Those who know nothing of Islam, and pretend that Islam counsels against war, those who say this are witless. Islam says kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all. Does this mean that Muslims should sit back and be devoured by the unbelievers? Islam says kill them, put them to the sword, and scatter them. Does this mean sitting back until non-Muslims overcome us? Islam says kill in the service of Allah those who want to kill you.”

Kevin Barrett:
All that’s defensive.

Robert Spencer:
“Does this mean that we should surrender? Islam says, whatever good there is, exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword.” And of course that’s an echo of Muhammad’s words.

Kevin Barrett:
This is in the defensive context of the US imperialist conquest of Iran.

Robert Spencer:
It starts off defensive, but it’s getting offensive now.

Kevin Barrett:
You’re mistranslating and cherry picking.

Robert Spencer:
“The sword is the key to paradise which can be opened only for the jihadis. There are hundreds of Qur’anic songs (sic) and hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.”

Kevin Barrett:
What’s wrong with any of that? He’s talking about a defensive war to free his country from people who have crushed it and looted it.

Robert Spencer:
It starts out with that, and then he goes on to say that people can only be made obedient via the sword, which is not a defensive statement at all.

Kevin Barrett:
He’s talking about the unjust people he’s trying to take his country back from.

Robert Spencer:
Okay. Sure he is. But he’s speaking far more generally than that.

Kevin Barrett:
No, you’re the one who’s taking his words and applying them to things they’re not meant to be applied to. Your methodology, Robert, would barely earn a passing grade in the academy. Number one, you don’t even bother to learn Arabic! You’ve been studying Islam since the 1980s and calling yourself an Islam expert, and you don’t even speak a word of Arabic? Hal tatakallam al-lugha al-‘arabiyya ya shaykh?

Robert Spencer:
That’s—you read that on Wikpedia! You don’t have any idea how much Arabic I have!

Kevin Barrett:
Hal hadha sahih am la?

Robert Spencer:
You’re just a…

Kevin Barrett:
Hal hadha sahih am la?

Robert Spencer:
Sorry pal, I’m not playing. This is an English debate.

Kevin Barrett:
You don’t know a word of Arabic!
Robert Spencer:
Kevin, what you’re doing…

Kevin Barrett:
You can’t even say hello to me in Arabic!

Robert Spencer:
The fact is that even if I didn’t know a word of Arabic, which is false, you are now claiming the gnostic argument that Islam can only be truly understood in Arabic, which is ridiculous on its face. Pakistan, Indonesia, India, have massive Muslim populations. Iran. They’re not Arabs. They don’t speak Arabic. Unless they have learned it. Their native tongue, their understanding of Islam, comes in languages other than Arabic. You’re saying all those Muslims can’t understand Arabic? Your argument is ridiculous on its face.

Kevin Barrett:
All Muslims learn enough Arabic to recite Qur’an.

Robert Spencer:
And I wish that you’d done better on this, but really, this is kind of embarrassing.

Kevin Barrett:
Okay, well, I urge you to go ahead and learn some Arabic. Al-lugha al-‘arabiyya jamila jiddan. But you’re starting a little late in life. I started a little late too. I’ve only been studying Islam since the 1990s, while you’ve been studying it since the 1980s, yet I somehow managed to learn enough Arabic to actually read Qur’an.

Robert Spencer:
You don’t know me. We’ve never met.

Kevin Barrett: You say you don’t like to be interrupted, but all you do is interrupt. You remind me of Sean Hannity, your fellow Fox News talking head.

Robert Spencer:
All you’ve got is ad hominem attacks. You don’t have reality. You don’t have truth on your side. It’s a pitiable performance, Kevin.

Kevin Barrett:
Okay, one final question for you, Robert: Do you really believe the Qur’an urges violence more than the Bible does—the book of Esther, 75,000 people massacred which they celebrate in the revenge holiday of Purim every year? In the book of Isaiah, “I shall take Assyria and trample him on the mountains.” The Bible (Torah) clearly offers a blueprint for world conquest:
“In the final days the mountain of Yahweh’s house will rise higher than the mountains and tower above the heights. Then all the nations will stream to it. […] For the Law will issue from Zion and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem” (2:2–3) “Kings will fall prostrate before you, faces to the ground, and lick the dust at your feet” (49:23). “For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you will perish, and the nations will be utterly destroyed” (60:12). And on and on. Thousands of these kinds of injunctions, within a context that, rather than supporting justice, is clearly telling us that God is unjust. It’s telling us that Abraham, peace upon him, pimped his wife. It’s telling us that Job is dealing with an unjust God who turns Satan loose on him to torture him for no reason. On and on and on! The Bible is basically telling us to massacre people in genocidal wars.

Robert Spencer:
Can I get a chance to reply to that? The Bible, as I said at the beginning, is irrelevant to the question of whether the Qur’an teaches violence. But since you keep mentioning it, there is nothing in the Bible like the open-ended command to fight unbelievers because they are unbelievers. There is no open-ended and universal command to believers to fight unbelievers because they are unbelievers. There is plenty of violence. But nowhere is that violence said to be violence that believers should imitate. And there have been plenty of Christians who have committed violence in the name of Christianity. But even they did not evoke the passages that you are enumerating here, because they knew that they were not to be imitated, they were not calling for that kind of response. There have never been Christians who said, oh, Joshua cleared out a city, so we’re going to clear out some other city. Those were very specific commands, as you claim about the Qur’an.

Kevin Barrett:
That’s what Israel’s doing every day!

Robert Spencer:
Whereas the Qur’an, according to the scholars I’ve already adduced, Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Qayyim, and Ibn Kathir, the others, those are open-ended universal commands to all believers to wage war against unbelievers, and so your quarrel is with those Islamic authorities, not with me.

Kevin Barrett:
Well, you’re welcome to believe whatever you want to believe, but I submit to you, Robert, that the ongoing worldwide genocide that the West has been conducting for several centuries, has ultimately been driven by its Bible. The genocide against the Native Americans was driven by commands to commit genocide in the Bible. The genocide against black people in South Africa that failed was driven by the Bible, by the same commands. And the current genocide of the Palestinian people is also being driven by the same commands. As well as the roughly 100 million, by those statistics I quoted earlier, murdered by the United States since World War II, including the 32 million murdered since 9/11. That’s also been driven by the Bible. But I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree because our time is up. It will be interesting for people to go through this interview and count the number of interruptions on each side —

Robert Spencer: (interrupting)
That’s all you got! The only way you—

Kevin Barrett:
So thank you, Robert Spencer, it’s been very very interesting. May God open your eyes to the truth.

2 Thoughts to “Professional Islamophobe Robert Spencer vs. Truth Jihad”

  1. _ ‘Robert Spencer’, I think , has a PhD in Islamic studies, and his PhD dissertation – which I am reproducing below – is just a few sentences and no more :

    “Extremist Muslims want to kill Christians. Moderate Muslims pray that extremist Muslims kill Christians. Secular Muslims celebrate when extremist Muslims kill Christians.”

    _ “And anti-Islam hate propaganda is what Fox does best.” : No worries, for they will mislead those who deserve only to be misled, that’s why Allah (swt) Allows them to operate.

    _ ‘Robert Spencer’, on c-span a few years ago, claimed to be a catholic. In that case, I am Santa Claus. Just a simple look at him will suffice to know that he is a crypto-jew, laboring hard to fan the fire of hatred between muslims and christians. What a vile occupation for a vile man, and vile will be his last abode, Insha’Allah.

  2. Regarding Chapter 80 of the Quran : the story sunni muslims like to parrot is, one day while the prophet was in his house explaining Islam to a wealthy dude, a poor blind man came knocking on the door wanting to inquire about Islam from the prophet. The prophet allegedly went to open the door, and when he saw the poor blind man, he frowned in discontentment. Chapter 80 was revealed allegedly to reprimand the prophet for looking down on the poor blind man while making himself available to the wealthy dude.

    For some reasons I do not understand, proclaimed “sunni muslims” always recourse to this very Wrong sunni understanding of chapter 80, to try to convey to an ill-intentioned audience, that Prophet Muhammad was far from perfect and was only a human.

    Yes, Prophet Muhammad was only a human, but a human of the highest character and of the kindest nature. Even before becoming a prophet, he was known for his kindness, honesty and trust-inspiring natural demeanor. For instance, It is said he never used to talk to anyone without fully facing them, out of respect.

    Unfortunately, out of ignorance, some muslims have no problem dragging the erroneous explanation of Chapter 80 along the centuries, spreading calumny about Prophet Muhammad in the process.

    Before linking to a detailed article about Chapter 80 (“Who offended The Blind”), I would like to mention :

    1_ NOWHERE in The Quran – whether complimenting him or reprimanding him – Does Allah address the prophet Muhammad in the 3rd singular person. It is always in the 1st singular person. AND YET, when chapter 80 describes a behavior (in the 3rd singular person) unbefitting even of a regular nice person – let alone of prophet Muhammad – some stupid muslims keep repeating that it was about prophet Muhammad, because someone somewhere a few centuries ago said so.

    2_ Prophet Muhammad was constantly surrounded by his companions. When the door knocked, in all probability one of them would get up and answer it, and it wouldn’t be prophet Muhammad himself who would have answered the door to the blind man inquiring about Islam.

    3_ Some A-rabs of the time, even though they converted to Islam, were still intoxicated with tribalism, personal materialistic aspirations (ie : just look at the infighting plaguing Islamic history, as soon as the prophet passed away) and had ill-feelings toward prophet Muhammad for whatever reason. That’s probably where the calumny of misinterpreting chapter 80 – that some muslims are so fond of – came from.

    I do not subscribe to the tenets of shia Islam, but the following article about chapter 80 is at least a very refreshing shia exegesis, compare to the BS some Sunnis have insisted on parroting these past few centuries : “Who Offended The Blind”

    KEVIN READ IT PLEASE and reconsider your position on the matter.

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