Lengthy post about Akbar Ahmed and Ibn Khaldun
Liberal Christians and Islam
The National Council of Churches (NCC) is just one umbrella organization out of many like it that demonstrates the fallacy of the caricature that all, or most, Western Christians are “Fundies” or “Evangelicals” and therefore must be “right wing”.
With regard to the problem of Islam, many Christians in the West are rather regressive (though naturally they preen themselves as “progressives”): they still think in terms of trying to have an “Abrahamic dialogue” with “Moderate Muslims” — whom they assume, without any evidence, must constitute the vast majority of Muslims.
Take a browse at the NCC site and look at their various projects, papers and agenda to see what I mean. And the NCC is no small potatoes. They represent many churches and denominations throughout the USA:
African Methodist Episcopal Church
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Churches in the USA
Apostolic Catholic Church
Diocese of the Armenian Church of America
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Church of the Brethren
The Coptic Orthodox Church in North America
The Episcopal Church
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Friends United Meeting
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Hungarian Reformed Church in America
International Council of Community Churches
Korean Presbyterian Church in America
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church
Mar Thoma Church
Moravian Church in America Northern Province
and Southern Province
National Baptist Convention of America
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc.
National Missionary Baptist Convention of America
Orthodox Church in America
Patriarchal Parishes of the Russian Orthodox Church in the USA
Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends
Polish National Catholic Church of America
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Reformed Church in America
Serbian Orthodox Church in the U.S.A. and Canada
The Swedenborgian Church
Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
Ukrainian Orthodox Church of America
United Church of Christ
The United Methodist Church
For a detailed argument of the PC MC leanings of the NCC, see this.
One acutely apt demonstration of the misguided sincerity of Christian organizations like the NCC (and of another — the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE), a Christian organization “dedicated to religious freedom worldwide”) is their alliance with taqiyya Stealth Muslims like Suhail Kahn and Dr. Akbar Ahmed.
An apposite example of this is this memo about an “Interfaith Engaged Congregation” in which a female Episcopalian minister, the Reverend Dr. Carol Flett of St. Alban’s, mentions just this past March how Akbar Ahmed is an “interfaith partner” along with her church and the NCC.
Dr. Ahmed has quite an impressive resume. At the IGE page, it goes on and on… and on. At 1,185 words, it is too long to quote in full here, but I’ll quote enough to give a flavor of it:
Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC, is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to Great Britain, and has advised Prince Charles and met with President George W. Bush on Islam. Dr. Ahmed is a distinguished anthropologist, writer, and filmmaker. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society for many years.
The BBC described him as, “Professor Akbar Ahmed — the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam.” Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, described him as “one of the most important scholars of Islam today.” Adding, “Professor Ahmed has impeccable credentials.” Emel, one of the UK’s leading Muslim magazines, had a feature story with illustrations and called him “the new Ibn Khaldun” (Nov/Dec 2004).
Dr. Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UK, wrote to Professor Ahmed, “Thank you for the wisdom and generosity of spirit you are constantly showing through your spoken and written words. I cannot tell you how important your voice is right now. These are fateful times — and in you classic Islam has a spokesman and role model of supreme grace and dignity. May God/Allah be with you in all you do — and I thank you from the depth of my heart.”
Dr. Ahmed joined the Civil Service of Pakistan, the elite cadre of the Central Superior Services of Pakistan, in 1966. He held important posts in Pakistan and Bangladesh — including Commissioner, Quetta; Political Agent, South Waziristan Agency; Founder-Director General of the National Center for Rural Development, Islamabad. He resigned from service in the summer of 2000. Parallel to his civil service career, Dr. Ahmed was visiting professor at Harvard University, Cambridge University, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.
Dr. Ahmed is the author of many books on contemporary Islam…
He was given the 2004 Professor of the Year Award for Washington DC by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. He was given the 2004 Scholar of the Year Award by the Pakistani-American Congress and he is the recipient of the Star of Excellence in Pakistan and the Sir Percy Sykes Memorial Medal given by the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in London. He is also the recipient of the 2002 “Free Speech Award” given by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and in 2004 he received the Gandhi Center Fellowship of Peace Award, the Sir Sayyed Ahmed Memorial Award, the Safeer Pakistan Award and the Coudert Institute Award. Dr. Ahmed was invited to join the legendary figures in Anthropology’s Hall of Fame as part of the “Anthropological Ancestors” audio-visual interview series at Cambridge University in July 2004.
He was appointed Trustee of the World Faiths Development Dialogue by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In 2003, the Bishop of Washington DC appointed him Charter Member of a national-level interfaith initiative based at the National Cathedral. He was asked to join the World Wisdom Council, the Board of Interfaith Advisors for the Council on Faith and International Affairs, the Institute for Global Engagement, The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Family Voices (Victims of 9/11) and the International Institute for Mediation and Historical Conciliation…
And so forth. If you think that’s a lot, there is much, much more at the link I provided. Sounds quite impressive, no? No wonder gullible Christians and Jews swoon at Dr. Akbar Ahmed and his glittering cascade of credentials and honors and achievements. (And take a look at this particularly richly nauseating page from the “Muslims for America” website, featuring the good doctor as part of their Advisory Board, along with photo-ops of stupidly smiling Newt Gingrich and George Bush.)
But let’s pause and rewind.
What was the first thing that interminably long resume mentioned about Ahmed? Let’s see… oh yes:
“Akbar Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and Professor of International Relations at American University in Washington, DC…”
Now, let’s take a look at Ibn Khaldun, the great 14th century Muslim scholar in whose name that sumptuous “Chair” seating the good doctor’s prodigously moderate behind has been named:
From his magisterial work titled The Muqaddimah, we find this quite unremarkably mainstream Islamic view:
“In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the mission and [the obligation to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them at the same time.
“The other [i.e., non-Muslim] religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs is not concerned with power politics at all. Royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before, and not because they are under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. They are merely required to establish their religion among their own.”
[pages 473 and 480, from the translation by Franz Rosenthal, New York, Pantheon Books, 1958]
Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddimah is no marginal work. The great Western scholar of world history, Arnold Toynbee, describes this work as being “undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place.” (Toynbee, 1955: 322).
And its author’s name, after all, has been bequeathed to the “Chair” at American University in our Nation’s capital — a “Chair” that, among a shower of numerous other dazzling merits, ensures the legitimacy and moderation of Dr. Akbar Ahmed. (No surprise, too, that he has graced the pages of The Huffington Post and the studio of the Cat Stevens defender Jon Stewart — not to mention that he has appeared several times on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Unsurprisingly, when confronted with this uncomfortable association of the great Ibn Khaldun and the doctrine of offensive (in every sense of the word) jihad, the good doctor tried to slip-slide and tap-dance around it by affecting ignorance at first, then by insinuating that it was a faulty translation. Hugh Fitzgerald, in his searingly witty dressings-down of Ahmed (here and here), wrote:
And what was the dismissive reaction of Akbar Ahmad, “Ibn Khaldun Professor of Islamic Studies,” to being made aware of this view, so clearly expressed by Ibn Khaldun, and easily accessible to Spencer and to Bostom? It was to replay that he had never heard of such sentiments in Ibn Khaldun’s writings. And then to further insist that the translation of the original must be faulty.
The translation “incorrect”? The translator of Ibn Khaldun’s Maqaddima, in this case, was the tremendously learned scholar, possibly the world’s expert on Ibn Khaldun, the late Franz Rosenthal.
The problem, however, is not so much the Akbar Ahmeds of the world — but the Western idiots, including many Christians and Jews, who continue to be impressed by them as beacons of hope for a viably modern, and moderate, Islam.
A nicely scathing overview by Denis Schulz at the Maximumflack blog.
And this unintentionally amusing complaint by Daniel Pipes that the Muslim he has respected as a “moderate Muslim” has turned out to “surprise” him with innuendoes about Pipes being tantamount to an Islamophobe.
Also, this sampling from the Multicultural Cafeteria of “inter-faith Outreach” by Christians Kumbaya-singing with Muslims — among which we find this choice tidbit:
2005-FEB-20: DC: A “model gathering of the Abrahamic faiths:” At Evensong, in the National Cathedral in Washington DC, a special service was conducted which brought together three of the Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Baha’i faith, sometimes considered a fourth Abrahamic faith, may also have been represented. Persons from many non-Abrahamic faiths were also present.
Evensong is an evening service in the Anglican faith. It was led by John Chane, an Episcopal Bishop, Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig, and Akbar Ahmed, an Islamic scholar. All three delivered talks from the pulpit and discussed their friendship. Guests came from Florida, California, Massachusetts, and Pakistan. to attend the service. Although Evensong is rarely dedicated to an individual, Bishop Chane announced that this was service was dedicated to Akbar Ahmed.
Also, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch has had a couple of telling run-ins with the good doctor.