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Sharia for complete bankers – Part 3

Irfan Yusuf is a regular Webdiarist. His last contribution was Allegedly Halal Thoughts, but new readers may want to have a look at Sharia for complete bankers Part 1 and Part 2. For anyone seeking a fresh, candid, uncliched understanding of Sharia this material is invaluable.

by Irfan Yusuf

Sheik Piers bin Ackerman & Serious Scholarship

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the prosecution, the defence, the police, the academics and anyone else with enough time on a Sunday to read Piers Ackerman’s columns – listen up!

The time has come to engage in a serious academic study of radical Islam. Why?

Well, some simpletons think it’s because so many of the world’s problems are caused by Muslims.

At least that is according to the latest fatwas issued by the various learned media mullahs who are hell-bent on proving that Muslims are the enemy of civilisation. And at one stage, the noble Sheik Piers bin Ackerman was amongst them.

Piers peddling paranoia?

It would be tempting to think that Sheik Ackerman’s latest offering is an example of this kind of simplistic drivel. From his very first paragraph, Piers’ column of Sunday March 12 2006 provides the common thread of nominal Islam in the September 11 attacks, the Bali bombings and the Cronulla riots.

Yep, you may have read it correctly. Sheik Piers reckons the Cronulla riots somehow has some relation with al-Qaida and Jemaah Islamiyah. And what link could that be?

Does Usama bin Reagan encourage his cadres to pinch the bums of Aussie chicks in bikinis until they scream out “bloody hell!”? Or do young Lebanese boys frequently visit Indonesia to study Islam in the pesentran religious schools where Islam is taught in Bahasa Indonesia with simultaneous translations into Bankstown Omogaud-lish?

And what is the scholarly basis for Sheik bin Ackerman’s fatwa? Is it where he writes this?


“...it is well documented that the thugs who took part in the initial attacks on Cronulla beach were Muslim. Those who participated in the subsequent reprisal raids after the well-publicised riots met outside the Lakemba mosque before taking their convoy of violence to Maroubra and other beachside suburbs.”


Or is it where he accuses Keysar Trad of preaching in the mosque? Must be news to Keysar. I’ve never known him to preach anything. Yes, he’s done some pretty awful translating over the years. But that’s a far cry from preaching “for many years … hatred and contempt for Australian society.”

Benefit of the doubt …

Actually, to give Piers the benefit of the doubt, I think his comments should be read in the spirit of the entire article. The message of the article is simply that law enforcement people don’t have enough genuine scholarly knowledge of Islam. His comments on terrorism and Cronulla only make sense if we presume he is lampooning the likes of Miranda Devine, Paul Sheehan and other pseudo-conservatives who enjoy creating Islamic conspiracies where none exist.

Further, I find it impossible to believe that someone as intelligent as Piers could write the conspiratorial stuff seriously. Yes, there was a time when Piers believed Muslims worshipped potatoes and that the be-all and end-all of religious struggle was the attainment of 72 virgins.

But Piers has moved on since then. He has grown to realise that we cannot solve problems by blaming them on some mythically monolithic enemy. He knows that simplistically blaming all Muslims achieves nothing.

Piers piercing paranoia? I suppose so ...

For this reason, Piers wants law enforcement agencies and other key decision makers in society to have a serious and scholarly understanding of Islam. Piers laments the fact that so many approaches to Muslim issues are based on simplistic interpretations of verses from the Qur’an taken out of context.

Piers is right. I refuse to believe that Piers would write this kind of stuff for any reason other than to expose the lunacy of the conspiracy theorists and Catch-The-Fire wackos who twist Islamic theology to suit their sectarian agendas.

I find it impossible to believe that Piers would write this stuff in any other way except to lampoon the gross ignorance of those who refuse to engage in scholarly study of Islam. Piers is in effect lampooning his own past excesses, and we should salute him for this.

Because if it is the case that Piers was writing this stuff seriously, it will mean he is not heeding his own advice by not making a serious scholarly study of Islamic theological trends.

Juristic pluralism and the myth of Muslim theological monolith

Islamic theology is not a monolith. Within the Sunni school, there are at least four separate jurisprudential systems (known individually as “madhab” in technical Arabic Islamic terminology for deriving rules from sources. Within the mainstream Shia strands, there is a requirement to follow a living scholar or authority of law.

Islamic theology is characterised by pluralism. Further, the exposure of sharia to other legal traditions has led to quite substantial changes in understanding of key legal concepts. Indeed, the existence of substantial Muslim minorities living in greater religious liberty in Western liberal democracies than in Muslim-majority states has led many Islamic scholars to argue that non-Muslim states are more Islamic than Muslim ones.

Piers will also be aware of some of the stringent attacks made by classically-trained European Muslim scholars on isolationist theology and terrorist violence. Muslim scholars are engaging the philosophy and thinking of the West with sophistication and not just jingoism.

In relation to criminal punishments, prominent European Muslim scholars such as Professor Tariq Ramadan have called for a complete moratorium on all forms of capital punishments in Muslim-majority states.

Satire in the name of understanding?

I believe Piers would be aware of all these developments. His call for greater and more scholarly understanding of Islam only makes sense if his apparent criticisms of Islam and Muslims are treated as satire.

I refuse to believe that Piers is a simpleton, a victim of paranoid conspiracy-mongering or of journalistic psychosis.

For this reason, I urge readers to also give Piers the benefit of the doubt. Only a complete lunatic would believe that 1.2 billion people from all countries of the earth would be involved in a grand international conspiracy to destroy a system of liberties they yearn for. Only a completely paranoid psychotic dimwit would believe that Muslims, many of whom are even prepared to risk their lives paying people-smugglers and overflowing on fishing boats to migrate to Australia, would hate our nation’s values.

This sort of stupidity may be the stuff of One Nation branch meetings. I doubt serious newspapers would seriously publish this gutter trash except as satire. News Limited is not a neo-Nazi media empire. Rupert Murdoch is not in the business of providing jobs to otherwise-unemployable sectarian nutters.

At least I hope he isn’t.


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ID for beginners at non-$haria


My gawd, m’Justin, m’Stuart, m’general-Noams (see Kovco WD slurry - no comments possible), are getting a bit pre-menstrual in the wake of Josh Frydenburg’s dank little failure in Kooyong. Sorry, boys. Blame it on the Moslems and the Moonbats, who are out to get you (and usually do – they are putting very effective stuff in your drinks, you drongos).

Meanwhile, back in the surreal world, other post-Young Liberals are slaving away at the bottom of the pit, digging for gold and tax lurks. And not getting crushed by rocks or Georgiou.

In fact, one of the most tiresome of the Kirribillis’ bludgers is the former Cattle Council, former Nationals Farmers’ federation, former Acxiom, former Liberal Party boss and Kirribilli branch member, Andrew Robb AO. Robb shifted south to stack Goldstein* after all available federal seats slid out of his silver spoon in Sydney. Now he’s a Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, and can pretty well satisfy any primordial or fascist urges.

Andrew has come up with a wizard jape.

So there’s something especially creepy and unctuous about his planned “citizenship tests.” It should really put the wind up the people who don’t count. In fact, it will put the windschuttle up the lot of ‘em. Really make them squeal.

When data-matching enthusiast Robb left national rural affairs en route to the Howard ministry, he curtly vowed to “make money.” Is that a clue to his Himmleresque proposal? There could be big quids in the not-unrelated Oz Card-lite too. The PM said so. Bloody billions of the little buggers. And savings too, as we rub out the Moslems and the Abos and migrants. And all those pensioners and illegal non-citizens, as the working ultra-poor are known. Shape ’em up and ship ’em out, probably to Baxter-on-Todd. The joys of sound economic management, as with the unremitting use of the PM’s personal Air Farce One to cart around the angry and upset family of the youngster killed in Baghdad the other day.

You can bet people like Jamie Packer would be up for the citizenship test/ID whizzo, once he’s done the crib sheet. The PM will probably inscribe Jamie’s cheat notes on the back of his personal Platinum™ OzCard-lite, and slip it to him on the quiet at the next slap up, no-cost-spared, whopper state funeral at the friggin’ Opera House or Sol Trujillo’s Telstra™ Odium. Or Cronulla. No flags spared, either.

*Is this life imitating literary art? In Orwell’s 1984, protagonist Winston Smith often views Oceania’s “arch enemy” - “As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. [A] little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust. Goldstein was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of the leading figures of the Party, almost on a level with Big Brother himself, and then had engaged in counter-revolutionary activities, had been condemned to death, and had mysteriously escaped and disappeared. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure. He was the primal traitor, the earliest defiler of the Party's purity.”

And you can bet Goldstein didn’t pass his Abu Ghraib citizenship test, didn’t get an OzCard-lite and most definitely got put in the right casket, or coffin, as we used to call them in the olden days when we spoke Australian.

Hang around, please

Irfan, just wanted to say how informative and entertaining I find your pieces.  Hey, I'm still getting over the shock of finding out that Muslims have a sense of humour!

I read Piers' ‘opinion piece’ in a state of shock.  Actually, what really shocks me is that this kind of piece is becoming the norm. Apparently it's open season on Muslims. When even the Prime Minister chooses to make regular slurs on Muslims (always carefully qualified to refer ‘only’ to extremists, but we all get the point) it's hardly a surprise that Piers' lunatic conspiracy theories barely create a ripple.

I was watching Pauline Hanson's maiden speech today in my Political Communication lecture and I remember how shocking it was at the time - full of distortions, untruths, and gross generalisations. It's hardly a new thought, but isn't it amazing how much of her MO has been digested and regurgitated by the Howard Government as 'respectable' politics? The politics of fear now rule supreme. Provocation is the order of the day.

Did you watch Four Corners on the ABC on Monday? One of the participants in the Cronulla riots said to the camera, straight-faced, that Islam required men to rape women. That’s what we’re up against. Do people like Piers and Peter Costello, who should know better, try to douse the flames of anti-Muslim sentiment in the community? No, they pour petrol on it.

I just can’t believe where Australia is right now.

Irfan, we need voices like yours like never before. Australians, me included, are bloody ignorant about Muslims and we should desperately be trying to get a clue, instead of whipping each other into a lather of fear and loathing.

Hang in there, mate, and try not to lose your sense of humour (don't know how you do it, though).

a techy affirmative action support in the sea of spin

Irfan, I love your writings. They give a perspective that is not always seen and rarely heard in the media – the spin-shackles free Aussie questioning the formulae-fed diatribe from the monolithic media match heads.

"People" like Miranda, Piers, et al all have their own axe to grind, but it ain't in the national good and it is usually some hate-filled whingey agenda piece, so in the interests of my good temper and mood I don't waste time on them. Some loonies will quote from their latest nasties, all from the same pool usually, so it is nice to have a person of your insight setting the record straight and countering their lies and distortions as so many in the community bumble on, footy game to footy game without catching real news and events. Such easy meat for hate mongers to sew the seeds of bigotry.

Did you catch the NSW police commissioner last week, on the ABC, discussing the "Un-Australian" Moslem community who, according to his plotline, had not dobbed in their mates who appeared on the photographs, whereas the “Aussies" had been dobbed in. Gob smacked I was, with his blatant stupidity and bigotry.

Anyone have a transcript of it? It was truly a stupid statement bristling with bigotry and ridiculous stereotyping and smacking of popularist vilification. That is our police commissioner. Pathetic.

It will be interesting to see what incarceration terms any convicted persons face and compare it upon religious/ethnic grounds. I am still amazed that a rapist got 50 years plus compared to the usual pitiful paedophile sentences (often 5 years or less) and one which even included multiple murders in a graveyard and got what – 20 years? Is there a study looking at such things? Is this impression just media distortion? The footy scandal certainly put the mandatory incarceration for gang rape, 15 years minimum, laws in perspective. Sure, nice to have such animals put away but why be so selective?

Do such sentencing and selective prosecution has vilification and ethnic punishment agendas?

Look at the selective call for imam control, as if it is the only group with hate mongers in the pulpit. Quite a few radical hate-filling Christian orientated speakers out there filling naive minds without any silencing.

Where are the calls for those ideas that inspired the recent bombers and terrorists of the US to be convicted – one far rightwing Christian and two JDL Zionists (one already dead in prison) – to be curtailed and openly condemned? Yet here similar people are threatening Australians who do not conform to their ideas of what is allowed right here. Abortion clinics and parishioners threatened, film makers and arts threatened, journalists allegedly threatened.

My point is that all groups have their truly nasty ratbags, and all should openly rein them in to make our society a better and safer place, and teach respect for many differing ideas and intolerance for violent solutions.

Even State sponsored violent solutions.

So, yes Irfan, nice to see a counter to the banal ignorant targeting bigotry spin. And acknowledgement of the many differing facets of Islam.

Cheers, off to have some lamb bloody well here because then I am an Aussie. No chucky thought because it is Lent. Such withdrawal can make one tetchy, non? How on earth do Moslems cope with Ramadan in our upside down summer climate? Is there a tetchy time in the Jewish observers’ calendar too?

dehumanisation and bigotry

Angela, you wrote: "'People' like Miranda, Piers et al..."

By putting "people" in scare quotes you imply that you do not really consider them to be humans, just because you disagree with what they have to say. Such dehumanisation is direct evidence of more extreme bigotry than anything they have written.

Irfan, the relative lack of response is simply because you haven't written anything controversial in the latest segment and thus few felt compelled to respond. It is an interesting and informative piece that I'm sure most Webdiarists have read with interest.

anti-peoplist society , definitely a minority group

Ah Mike, you have uncovered me!! Undo the red sash and draw the dagger.

Mea culpa! I confess , I am an anti-peoplist!


PS This is not to be confused with an anti-Pepysist ,someone who hates ancient diarists who built up British admiralties and talks of plagues and his favourite loose women. How his shirt was ironed was fascinating.

As a powerful educated intelligent journalist some may have objected to Miranda et al being considered one of the people, a pleb, a sheeple, or whatever term for the masses is popular. A common humble Webdiarist is one of the people but an elite journalist with huge readership and power through such media does not deserve the humble title of "people"/masses in my opinion. Sorry if it confused you. Down, Fido!

Ersatz People

I have to agree with Angela, though not for obvious reasons.

I reckon the likes of Devine, Milne, Neville, Henderson et al. are simply presenting media personas to us. The real people behind these personas are most deliberately hidden. In their private lives, I'm sure that they're quite nice people.

Sickem Fido...

(BTW Fiona, "does" between "media" and "not" in Angela's' last post. Love any messy kisses. M)

Hamish (shaking his head in bemusement): You two! I fixed it Mark, and I also must admit it was my carelessness, as was another mistake you pointed out. Fiona doesn't miss much.

Fido here

So I guess you have the same assessment of, say, Philip Adams, or any other opinion writer. No, sorry, they are all real people regardless of their opinions. You guys are sounding more than a bit intolerant here. Woof woof!


Irfan, it may be that our lack of comment is an indication of the need for the series to continue. Some of us (eg. me) know so little about Islam that it is difficult to find things to say.

Thanks Irfan

Thanks Irfan, I read your articles hear and elsewhere with interest. I have stopped replying to topics as the comments become an acrimonious “us against them” diatribe that contributes little to the subtleties of different situations.

Much has been made of irresponsible statements in the Green Left Weekly despite their very limited readership but little is said of the mainstream media (except to slag off the lefty ABC or any other media that doesn't toe the establishment line) and their wider ability to influence the minds of their readers with simplistic 'us or them” mentality.

Piers prides himself as an attack dog who broadly slanders wide segments of society based on the actions of a few individuals or small groups. He reinforces prejudices against the bad guy du jour and ignores any contrary view that would try to shine a light into the murky shadows of the powers to be.

The juxtaposition of reporting the actions of foreign firebrands and local disturbances are dangerous and lazy. Sydney's problems can easily be slated to too much testosterone and the tendency of groups of similar background to group together for protection or an inflated sense of power. I was one of the main targets in primary school for not being with the in-group and this led to me often losing my temper at the taunts and doing my block, much to the amusement of the assembled crowd as the larger ringleader easily knocked me to the ground, and that was just because I was short with red hair and freckles. I have spent many years since trying to control the anger formed in those early years. I still have some memories come back unbidden.

Thanks for your rare ability (unfortunately rare) to be able to point out the stupidity of the ranters on both sides of the “clash of civilizations” and allow us who don't fall for the ease of black and white thinking to appraise the situations more dispassionately and therefore realise that most of the problems are caused by gung-ho loud mouths on all sides leaving the moderates as meat in the sandwich.

My father who art in Idaho indeed.

with baited breath.....

No, Irfan, nooooooooooooo.....

More, please (and don't forget the U - word)!

Fiona: Chris, I trust that you really meant "baited" and not "bated"... And Irfan, I agree with Hamish - this is an extremely interesting series, and I for one find it thought-provoking. Will try to make a reasoned comment tomorrow (after the deluge...).

The Girl Scout Sabbath

I typed a comment earlier today saying I also enjoyed it (because of lack of other comments to keep you encouraged) but then thought it sounded too wankerish so didn't send it.

Perhaps there could be a page view counter as well as a comment counter.

I just don't know enough to comment. I do lots of research of Islam because 99.9999999999% of people I deal with think Allah and God are different concepts (or people/gods if you believe). Most Americians don't realise that Jesus figures very prominently in Islam.

Arguing elsewhere about ISO 80 something (Data Representation of Dates - it specifies Monday as 1st day of week - it is also the same as an AS standard - which is why your Windows calandar in Aust shows Monday as 1st day of week).

The god squad got involved (it was about technical stuff) and discussion turned to the Sabbath. With my mission of showing Jews, Christians, and Muslims are the bloody same thing I had to research Islam and the Sabbath. Mmmm - Dictionaries and Encyclopedias just always said (they seem to have the same unknown source) about the sabbath that Friday is Muslim's Prayer day but didn't call it the Sabbath.

I found some commentary where Jesus was called that rather than Isa (but they couldn't resist using some Arabic just to make it incomprehensible). He apparantly plucked fruit and fed two hungry kids.

I like to be right. It's hard to comment to an expert. I feel free to comment to Yanks on this stuff cause they can't tell if I'm right or wrong.

This is what I said (wish I had said some rather than most)

Muslims dispute the Sabbath is a day of rest (though not a day of worship). They say that God doesn't need to rest. They also point out Jesus plucked two apples from a tree and gave them to two hungry kids on the sabbath (he hadn't heard of maccas) which was a breach of Jewish law (JC did other similar things). Friday is their day of rest but this is not a religious thing - it just happened. Most believe it started with Jewish markets on friday before the Jewish Sabbath.

Then someone pointed out the Yankee Girl Scout also have a Sabbath day.

Girl Scout Week begins this year with Girl Scout Sunday, March 12, which is also the Girl Scout Birthday, and ends with Girl Scout Sabbath on Saturday, March 18.

The End?

Given the lack of comment, I guess I'll have to bring this complete banking series to an end ...

Hamish: I was getting a lot from it mate, and think it is very useful stuff, for what that's worth.

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