Hadith

Israel, Saudi Arabia and claim that once land is Muslim, that land is always Muslim

Israel, Saudi Arabia and claim that once land is Muslim, that land is always Muslim

The Jewish state of Israel and the Sunni Islamic kingdom of Saudi Arabia have a complicated relationship. Official diplomatic relations between the two are non-existent. Yet unofficial contacts not only exist but appear to be thriving

Why? Because for all the bad blood between them, both consider Shiite Iran the greater threat. It's one of those enemy-of-my-enemy hookups.

Israel would love the relationship to play out officially and in public as a grand sign to the world of its desired acceptance as a sovereign Jewish nation in the heart of the Muslim Middle East.

The Saudi monarchy has a more complex agenda, however.

Whatever it's political goals, the Saudi royals also must mollify their nation's ultra-traditional religious establishment, the staunch support of which has allowed the descendants of King Abdulaziz Al Saud to rule over the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula since the nation's founding in 1932.

Saudi Arabia is the cradle of Islam, containing the holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad. Because of the kingdom's centrality to Islam, religious backing is critical to the ruling family's continued reign.

Problem is, those religious leaders show little willingness to compromise their rigid Wahhabi Muslim theology for the sake of earthly political considerations.

Here's an example of how the game is played.

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Who was behind the 'honor killing' of that Pakistani model? Conservatives!

Who was behind the 'honor killing' of that Pakistani model? Conservatives!

"Honor killings": It's hard to think of a more ironic phrase. In some lands, like Pakistan, it means to kill a relative -- most often a girl or woman -- because of anxieties over actual or perceived immorality.

It happened again with the weekend murder of Qandeel Baloch, who has been called the Pakistani Kim Kardashian for her many tweeted cheesecake photos, Facebook posts and appearances in videos. Baloch, 26, was strangled by a brother for "honorable" reasons.

At GetReligion, we've complained for years about the reticence of many media professionals to link the killings with some versions of Islam. And here we go again, with USA Today  blaming nebulously described "conservatives":

Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, shot to fame and notoriety with a series of social media postings that would be tame by Western standards but were deeply scandalous by conservative Pakistani societal norms. She cultivated an outrageous public persona, recently promising to perform a public striptease if the Pakistani cricket team won a major tournament.
Baloch had a large following of more than 700,000 people on her official Facebook page. She posted recently she was “trying to change the typical orthodox mindset of people who don’t wanna come out of their shells of false beliefs and old practices.”

You know conservatives. Those are the guys who oppress women and hold back progress and cut welfare and keep out immigrants. The heavy implication is that in Pakistan and in the U.S., conservatives are pretty much alike.

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Gays in the Quran: NBC report raises issues but doesn't answer them

Gays in the Quran: NBC report raises issues but doesn't answer them

As I wrote on Friday, mainstream media in the wake of the shooting in Orlando are just starting to feel their way around the ultra-sensitive topic of Islam and homosexuality. NBC News also tried its hand, building a story as a Q&A, or maybe a FAQ file.

But the answers are frankly what you might expect from a secular liberal news outfit:  

Islam's approach to homosexuality has been in the spotlight since the massacre at an Orlando gay club — criminal or compassionate? Prejudiced or progressive?
While ISIS death squads enforce an extreme version of Islam that punishes gays with death, the religion's history is far more nuanced. And like most relationships, when it comes to Islam and homosexuality — it's complicated.

Among the questions posed are "What does Islam say about being gay?" and "Who says homosexuality is punishable by death?" But by skewing its sources, NBC clearly tries to nudge us toward the "right" views.

The network is alert for spotting a coverage trend. As I noted on Friday, the Associated Press and other media have begun looking at 50 gay Muslim organizations that have been seldom covered. NBC News honestly reports Islamic antagonism toward homosexual behavior, saying it overwhelmingly teaches that "same gender sex is a sin."

NBC notes also how some Muslim national leaders have denounced the Orlando shootings while their own homelands jail or kill gays:

"Middle Eastern and North African countries have denounced the Orlando shooting when at the same time they criminalize homosexuality with sentences ranging from years in prison to the death penalty," said Ahmed Benchemsi, communications and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch. "Those governments should repeal laws and abolish practices that persecute people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity."

But when the article asks, "What does Islam say about being gay?", it doesn't answer immediately. First it quotes a historian who says, "There is sexual diversity in Islam." It also says that "most scholars agree" (a close cousin to the blurring expression "sources say") that early Muslims like Al Dalal and Rumi were gay.

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Gays and Islam: Even after Orlando shooting, many news media skirt the hard questions

Gays and Islam: Even after Orlando shooting, many news media skirt the hard questions

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, I suggested a story on the verses in the Quran that dealt with killing unbelievers, including how local imams interpret them. My editor hesitated and said, "I'd rather do stories about diversity in the community."

That looks like the attitude among most mainstream media, 15 years later. We know that Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people at an Orlando gay club, was Muslim and anti-gay. But what exactly does Islam say about homosexuality?

Many mainstream media seem to have been avoiding answering that, even when asking it themselves. They’ve chattered about how he checked Facebook and traded texts with his wife. They say he tried to buy body armor. And of course, they talk about gun control and homophobia.

But few have ventured into the minefield where Muslim communities border homosexuality. And of those that do, most concentrate on LGBT Muslims themselves.

In Florida itself, I could find only one newspaper -- my alma mater, the Sun Sentinel -- reporting on a "confused, broken community that lies at the intersection of the tragedy," as it calls them. One of its three subjects is college student Hytham Rashid:

There are not a lot of terms to describe gender identity or sexual orientation in Arabic, Rashid said. The word "transgender," for example, translates to "You are like a woman" or "You are like a man," which can be considered offensive, he says.  
As a gay Muslim, Rashid says he faces both Islamophobia and homophobia every day. He said in the wake of the Orlando tragedy, he doesn’t feel safe going to memorials and events.
"We can put up our stickers and wave around our rainbow flags in Wilton Manors, but the core issue is, there isn’t a safe space for us," he said.

The Sun Sentinel also imports a statement by the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity that there is "no religious justification or precedent in Islam for mass shootings targeting any population, regardless of identity." But it doesn't look at the Quran or the Hadith (the record of Muhammad's words and deeds).  Nor does it ask any leaders of the 15-20 mosques in its circulation area.

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