Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Contrarian: A Podcast Interview With Professor Khaleel Mohammed

San Diego University’s Associate Professor of Religion, Khaleel Mohammed, PH.D is a controversy magnet. Born in the South American republic of Guyana and educated at Montreal’s McGill University, Professor Mohammed is a Muslim who believes Israel belongs to the Jews. Indeed, Professor Mohammed even references the Koran to support this claim. In an interview with FrontPageMagazine.com two years ago, he cited this passage:

“The Koran in Chapter 5: 20-21 states quite clearly: ‘Moses said to his people: O my people! Remember the bounty of God upon you when He bestowed prophets upon you, and made you kings and gave you that which had not been given to anyone before you amongst the nations. O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers.’”
Professor Mohammed also contends that violence in the Muslim world stems from politics not the Islamic faith. His opinions have provoked sharp rebukes from scholars who insist that Jihad, Anti-Semitism and fundamentalism are directly linked to the Koran itself. The academic believes those who link fundamentalism with the Koran are Islamophobes.

On June 25, 2004, he participated in a symposium sponsored by FrontPageMagazine.com with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, and author Bat Ye'or. They engaged in a fascinating debate about the Koran’s semantics and politics in the Muslim world. Since that symposium the debate between Professor Mohammed and Robert Spencer has grown personal.

Overall, Professor Mohammed has two categories of critics: westerners such as Robert Spencer who regard him as an Islamic apologist and Muslims who believe him to be disloyal to their culture.

The professor considers himself a scholarly advocate for moderate Islam and he graciously agreed to an interview with me. Please refer to the media player below. This interview can also be accessed for free via the Itunes Store by searching for "Intrepid Liberal Journal."


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ADDENDUM: Although Professor Mohammed is new to the blogosphere he expressed interest in both reviewing and responding to the comments of others. I hope he is able to. Also, please note that his website which I hyperlink above has not been updated and lists his title as “Assistant Professor” instead of “Associate Professor.” Hence, I mistakenly introduced him with the incorrect title during the podcast.

10 comments:

jay lassiter said...

my email address is jrlassiter@yahoo.com
if you need to send me a post for a rec, then send me an email so i am sure to get it and promote it.

put that address in your book then send me a note to sat hello so i have you in my address book as well.
fondly and in solidarity,
jay

VTPOET said...

Professor Mohammed was difficult to hear in the interview, but I think I understand the jist of what he wrote.

I understand Mohammed's point that the violence is politically motivated and not inspired by Islam (scripturally speaking) but this is a moderate's point of view and the violence in the middle east isn't being perpetrated by moderates. The individuals fighting (not necessarily against us) would very much disagree, I strongly suspect, and insist that their actions *are* justified by Islam.

Who represents any given religion? The moderate? The extremist?

My own view is that both do. And that's the problem. Neither the extremist nor the moderate can claim a superior reading of their text. In fact, Sam Harris "The End of Faith", argues that the extemist, with few exceptions, will always know the text better than the moderate. I suspect this is not true of Professor Mohammed, but he cannot say that *Islamic* extremists do not exist (Muslims who derive their violence textually, as it were), only that he disagrees with their interpretation. One would like to cede the debate to the moderate. Who wants to believe that religions are inherently violent? -- but to do so is to admit an a priori preference for non-violence when, in fact, both readings (the one seeking justification for violence and the one seeking peace) can find equal textual justification.

The question, in my view, that Professor Mohammed only briefly addressed, is the inherent irrationality of religion. There can be little to no rational debate in matters of belief. No one is going to disuade someone who believes he or she has a mandate from god.

That's the "religious" debate, I suppose.

As to the sources of violence in the middle east. I would agree with Prefessor Mohammed that politics is the cause of the violence, not religion, but only to a degree.

The assertion begs the question: whence the political violence? As I see it, much of the political unrest in the middle east is, in fact, caused by Islam's theocratic leanings. When half a given population is forced to live in the shadows, with few if any rights, then one is going to have a poor country, one is going to have political instability, and one is going to retard a culture's intellectual and artistic growth. To that extent, I'm willing to assert that the middle-east's greatest liability is Islam. No society can, or has, prospered when subject to the irrational prejudices of a clerical ruling class. At some point, Muslims are going to have to come to terms with its history.

I am not sympathetic to Bush, in the least. However, Islamic Fascism *is* apt. The term, according to my understanding, was first used in reference to Christians and was called Clerical Fascism. I suppose Bush (and the world) would be better served by using this latter term, but the label is correct. The Iranian clerics are most definitely Islamic Fascists. The religious state and its industries are one.

kmo said...

In responding to VTpoet:
It is certainly true that both extremist and moderate may cite scripture. But the extremist does not "know" it more. s/he may refer to it a lot, and certainly cite the traditional interpretations and be more versed in old exegesis. This does not mean superior knowledge...for it is only one sided knowledge. Take the case of Muslims. The extremists focus on war or a time when Islam was the dominant power. They selectively forget that the Q also talks of a time (termed the Meccan period) when Islam was not the power. The Quran talks also of pluralism..something NO other Abrahamic text touches on with such clarity.
Is Islam a liability? It depends on whose interpretation. I am willing to agree that TRADITIONAL RELIGION is a liability. The mistake we make is when we somehow associate Christianity and the west as if c is responsible for western advancement. Not true. The west only advanced when it broke OUT of the yoke of religion as forming outlook. In the middle east, the male theocracy holds back the place, plus western designs based on the british divide and rule legacy.
Muslims and history? We have come to terms...painful terms...one being that for us, the crusades supposedly ended centuries ago. But we now realize that they NEVER ended. Which is why we always see, and seemingly cannot understand, middle eastern reactions to what would pass as nothing in the west. Remember when the Israelis invaded Lebanon, what happened? THey turned the Pal camps over to Christian forces...who wreaked havoc. And the history of colonization in the middle east always shows the attempts at hostile evangelization. ANd don't forget that for Muslims, at leats in theory, Judaism and Christianity are respected as are their prophets (logically so since Islam relies on them for its own authority). But for Christianity, Muhammad and his message represent a challenge that must be stamped out. And so missionaries preach what we term hate. Yeah, Jesus loves us, but for him to love us, we must hate Muhammad. That sort of nonsense has catapulted the M.E> Muslims into a bunch of thuglike reactionaries.

VTPOET said...

Hello Professor Mohammed,

//But the extremist does not "know" it more. s/he may refer to it a lot, and certainly cite the traditional interpretations and be more versed in old exegesis. This does not mean superior knowledge...for it is only one sided knowledge.//

I'm not so sure. I *do* think that fundamentalists in *any* religion have a superior knowledge of their text, at least that has been my experience. I think your argument would be better served if you wrote: "superior *understanding*". I could agree with that, possibly. At the very least, the contradicting admonishments should give them pause if they truly understood what they read.

But, more to the point, it seems that you still don't address why I should accept your reading of Islam instead of theirs? Your unspoken interpretation of Islam is that of moderation. And yet, surely, the irony of the Muslim response to the Pope isn't lost on you? The Pope cites an obscure Christian writer from the Middle Ages, who insinuates that Islam is violent in origin, and Muslims respond with violence, in some cases threatening to spill the blood of every living Christian unless they convert to Islam. (I am not a Christian, by the way.)

In the meantime, Muslim moderates are terrified to speak their minds in their own cultures. This strikes me as being a religious matter, not a political one.

"I am willing to agree that TRADITIONAL RELIGION is a liability. The mistake we make is when we somehow associate Christianity and the west as if c is responsible for western advancement. Not true."

Then I wonder what you make of the book by "Toby E. Huff": "The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West"?

Mr. Huff would strongly, if not flatly, contradict your assertion. Christianity, according to Mr. Huff, was uniquely able, philosophically and theologically, to encompass a burgeoning science whereas Islam was uniquely hostile. While C was not "responsible", C was crucial in allowing the West's scientific and techological advancements. The philosophical hertiage of Christianity was, according to my reading, part and parcel of the West's advancement.

I disagree that it is simply a matter of "traditional religion" & I even wonder what you mean by that? Are you now dividing Islam into a traditional sect alongside your own moderate reading? Are we to discuss "different" Islams? Then the question again arises, which is the real Islam? That part of the middle east that hides its women, that lets little school girls burn to death because of their immodest tire, and treats them like property, is practicing Islam. I really must question how you can attempt to deflect this fundamental problem in Islam with the phrase: traditional religion? After all, the cultures which practice this form of Islam would call themsleves truly Islamic and American Islam as all but heretical.

//...the crusades supposedly ended centuries ago. But we now realize that they NEVER ended. Which is why we always see, and seemingly cannot understand, middle eastern reactions to what would pass as nothing in the west.//

OK, but now you seem to be arguing in favor of a religious confrontation, rather than a political one?

Professor Khaleel Mohammed said...

Re Vt poet:Based on your response, I can see where the problem of my communication lies. As a religion scholar, I do not see single Judiasms, Christianities or islams. There are several of all. In Islam there is what is called the Followers of Hadith Islam...a later formulation that purports to have been there since the time of Muhammad. Fact is that this outlook only imposed itself on Islam after about a century of debate. So yes, there are several Islams..and you will agree that Shiism and Sunnism are almost like two different religiions.\
Why should you accept my take on Islam rather than someone else's? I can't give a reason...for as any scholar will tell you, any Muslim scholar too is that "the criterion lies in the proof." I claim that as a scholar of abrhamic religons and having studied in traditonal universites in Saudi I can work from within the tradition and step outside as well. Most Muslim tradiitionaliss cant. Does this make me any more authoritative. Definitely not. But reliable in terms of being able to quote and refer to context? I think I stand in a select crowd. That being said without any intent at arrogance, it still does not explain why I should be accepted. For truth be told, the extremists have something going for them that I don't...they are responding to teh fears of Muslims...and like the apocalyptists, they will find a willing audience.
The Fundamentalists (actually in Islam the term is misleading; it should be extremists) do NOT understand the text better. as a matter of fact, extremists in Islam should not be paralled to their counterparts in Xity. The extremists rely on one sided interpretations, substantiated by tradition only, and pay little attention to context or to the direct verse itself.
Re the irony of the Muslim reaction: i fear you do not understand the ME. As I noted earlier, as far as Muslims are concerned from that region, the crusades have never ended..and western imperialism seems to confirm their fears. Now you talk about the Muslim violence against churches and christians. fair enough..their terrorist actions are illogical and unforgiveable. but did you hear of the firebombings of mosques right here in the US? And in Canada? If not, then know there have been several. And that the pope should have quoted from a fourteenth centurhy authority...one who was harsh towards Muslims, in a region where US soldiers just recently were landing with CARE packages that promoted christianity....that needs to be considered. We are talking of a people who are ravaged by war....and the mentality is different. In Turkey, note there has only been rhetoric, not violence. And in somewhat of a defence of the resorters to violence, tell me..do you think if his so-called holiness had said something similar about Judah Ha Nasi, the world would have remained as quiet as it has? We hear of the calls for Muslim voices of protest when some terrorists do their evil...but when the leader of the chruch utters his evil..which makes it all the more noteworthy...there is silence. Something is wrong somewhere.
I think Friend Huff is somewhere in the lala land of apologetic.Chrisianity was inherently accepting of science?what utter balderdash.Muslims will tell you that it was islam and that arabic was the language of research. My assertion still is that science and the west prospered in spite of xity, not because of it, and that the Arab Muslims have retrogressed in spite of Islam, not because of it. The turks and their fear of the printing press is a well know fact to most scholars...and the backwardness that set in because of state imposed unilateral interpretation of Islam can be credited with Islam's lagging attitude towards science. But the Church's view towards science is also known....and I don't see how Huff can make his assertion with any reliability. I know of the clalim of the philosophical heritage of the west...and it is spurious at best. The crusades brought back the urge to develop, and then later the french revolution threw out the church yoke. This tie between religion and western philosophy is simple xian propaganda. Sure the ethics of the west...if based on xity...may be referred to in the annihilation of the natives of the "new" world? Of the other parts of the globe? Of the attempted extirpation of the Maori and Austrailians? And the Shoah which,while blamed on hitler, was actually the end result of christian anti semitism...
Am I anti Christian? I can't afford to be...for I subscribe to many aspects of that great religion...but I just object to when we whitewash and seek to rewrite history,especially with regards to ethics, philosophy and science vis a vis christianity.
U represent the extremism in saudi Arabia as if it is the norm...and that is wrong. No one denies this extremisn there, but let us not try to paint the entire Muslim world with it. I think you, like it or not, are a victim of the press. Shall it be honest for the Muslim world to represent the president's view of lack of human rights for prisoners as the true ethic of western christianity?
And once again...I point out that in the ME, we have theocracies...and that is the problem. Whether it is judaic/xian/islamic theocracy, it would be the same nonsense...people believing that some merciful god has entrenched in our dna a code of ethics that must remain unchanged, oblivious to the passing of time and values. My argument is against theocracies of any hue.
In the Middle east, nothing..again because it is a general state of theocracy--is separated from religion. And it is not the Muslims who are sedning out missionaries to convert the world...rather it is those who, while pointing fingers at Islam, are trying to convert Muslims. And given the history of angry interaction between western xity and islam, it would seem that Urban's avatar, Benedict (If I were a middle eastern critic I guess I would rename him maledict) has lit the match for renewed confrontation.

VTPOET said...

Professor Mohammed, you write:

//Why should you accept my take on Islam rather than someone else's? I can't give a reason...//

Then you can understand why some (this includes Muslims) characterize a part of this war as a religious one.

//As I noted earlier, as far as Muslims are concerned from that region, the crusades have never ended...//

Exactly.


//I think Friend Huff is somewhere in the lala land of apologetic.Chrisianity was inherently accepting of science?//

Your dismissal of his book is a little too glib. Huff is not a Christian apologist. Have you read his book?

//We hear of the calls for Muslim voices of protest when some terrorists do their evil...but when the leader of the chruch utters his evil..which makes it all the more noteworthy...there is silence.//

There seems to be a tit for tat tendency in your reponses. If I say X about Islam, you say Y about Christianity. But this persuades me of nothing. The issue is not how Christians are treating X, Y or Z, but how Muslims are treating Muslims. Iran hangs two young men who were accused of homosexuality. In Afghanistan, an apostate escapes execution only by being exiled. A woman, according to Sharia, must be buried to her neck and stoned to death. A European filmmaker is murdered because he dares to make a movie critical of Islam. Dozens of individuals die because of a cartoon. Hundreds of Muslims are being killed every day by other Muslims, in the name of Allah. If you went to these people and tried to enlighten them, they would probably torture and kill you. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior. Pointing out the foibles of other religions is evasive and silly.

Islam needs to take care of Islam. Islam needs to respect free speech, including the Pope's, idiotic as his comments may have been. I am not saying that every Muslim is an extremist, but there is an ugly and backward side to Islam that is pervasive and that you are not addressing it, except to say that the problem is theocracies -- which is really an evasive sort of criticism. What I would like to hear from you is that: Yes, Islam needs to forcefully address its medieval attitudes (especially toward women) before any real progress can be made in the middle east. If all the secular dictators were to fall tomorrow, most of them, if not all of them, would be replaced by theological dictators. Sam Harris may be right. Religious moderates are as much to blame for extremism as the extremists.

//Shall it be honest for the Muslim world to represent the president's view of lack of human rights for prisoners as the true ethic of western christianity?//

Yes. Inasmuch as the President was re-elected by a Christian populace and has claimed, literally, to be God's annointed; yes. It is clear that enough Christians in this country were and are supportive enough to continue this President's shameful conduct in the war and in his treatment of detainees. If Bush and the Republicans didn't represent their attitudes, he would not be President and the Republicans would not be the majority party. The results of the midterms will be telling.


//I think you, like it or not, are a victim of the press.//

Yes, probably so. However, that's easy for you to say, since you're not the one buried up to your neck, about to have your brains bashed out by the rock throwing pious. You're not the one was just divorced by her husband when, during his sleep, he uttered the three magic words that annulled her marriage. The Indian Islamic Clerics, in their infinite wisdom, insisted she should marry an older man for one day before she could remarry her husband. Fortunately, in India, the couple has been able to ignore this sage advice. There is no question but that my view of Islam is distorted, but so is yours, if only by the cultured air of academia.

//And it is not the Muslims who are sedning out missionaries to convert the world...rather it is those who, while pointing fingers at Islam, are trying to convert Muslims.//

The behavior of Christian missionaires (zealots in most cases)is appalling. However, at least in this part of the world, I don't have to fear for my life if I harshly criticize Christianity. No Bishop is going to call for my death.

My question for you: Do you or do you not think that Islam needs to be reformed?

Professor Khaleel Mohammed said...

Have read his response. Don't have my passes..so here is my ansser in brief

Let me start by apologizing for a rather brief answer, but as I informed the blogmaster, i shall try but can't promise always detailed answers. My own masters at the university expect research from me!!

Let us start from the bottom: I have said this all along...Islam does need reform. I am surprised you do not know this as part of my outlook, or that my "idols" (ah, fellow Muslims who read this, please don't take it literally) are Fazlur Rahman, Muhammad ashmawy amongst others.

I really don't know where you get your knowledge of sharia from...a man who mentions in his sleep about divorce etc...if you can show me something like this in the sharia, I will certainly have to recehck all my training. I am not denying that there are such reports in the western press, as much as there are reports of what chapter 9 verese 11 of the quran supposedly says. I certainly agree that there is a "dark" side to the medieval legal interpretations of Islam...but let us not create factoids, or quote from sources that are propagandistic at best. If they have indeed happened...I will not blame it on islam but on culture.

Am I being glib re Huff? I don't think so. No I have not read his book...but his theory is a common one among apologists for xity...that somehow islam is opposed to science. I don't know where they got that from. I would ask that they research some more.

Tit for tat? I will not argue that...I guess I adopt that approach in this blog because the initial issue was about the pope's statement. And it still bothers me. I am flabbergasted that a western readership that faults Islam so much cannot see that the pope has proven himself as backward as the very Muslims he seeks to agitate against.

I do not disagree about the Muslim backwardness...but once again, I don't think you indicated to me that you know enough about Islam to distinguish between the religion and regional culture. To illustrate my point, you talk about Christainity and me going tit for tat...have you realised that xians in Africa do the same nonsensical acts of violence that Muslims do? Nigeria is an example.

Yes, I do talk about theocracy...and I fear that as long as the west keeps demonizing Muslims, the war of words will continue. If I have not responded to all of your questions, myu apologies...I have to read and respond from memory as I am on dial up here.

A word: when we talk of Muslims again...and Islam you seem to always imply there is one islam. have you, do you know anything about the Islam of the caribbean? And why, pray tell would the islam of saudi arabia be your defining picture of the religion when that place is neither the most populous Muslim country, nor its practices the norm of Muslims.

The dark side of islam...yes, again CULTURE. I am amazed at the insouciant usage of the term "shariah" ...not that Muslms themselves don't misuse teh word...but when we talk about what islamic law says and does not say, let us also talk about how jurists enact those rules etc. Almost all muslims agree that the way rules are enactted in Afghanistan, Saudi, and rural Pakistan are wrong. As Ahmed Akcar in "islam under siege' pointed out...some taliban rules were not islamic but pukhtun tribal code. Hence antoerh problem for comparison...if the islam we look at is predominantly in a tribal area, the people will act as such..

We continue to use the 'teflon factor" (see Leshan) in judging the west, and a more critical view when examining the so called Islamic world.

My point once again is that we attribute western dominance to xity..which is nonsense. And equally nonsensical is to attribute the islamic bloc backwardness to Islam. All this not to deny that as noted at the beginning, islam needs to have a reform. And that has only just begun. From women in the west such as al hibri etc.

VTPOET said...

Professor Mohammed,

I thank you for your answers.

It isn't often that I get a chance to correspond with someone possessing your knowledge and background. So, I'm forced to compress many of my thoughts.

A quick answer to some of your questions:

//And why, pray tell would the islam of saudi arabia be your defining picture of the religion...//

Because, according to my reading, it is the most successful in exporting its radicalism to other Muslim communities. It strikes me as the predominant Muslim influence right now.

//If they have indeed happened...I will not blame it on islam but on culture.//

All of my anecdotes are factual. The story about the wife who was "divorced" by her husband during his sleep (and the clerical response) can be found at:

http://jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/
archives/010780.php

Here is a list from "Sweetness and Light", on on-line website, concerning other stories:

* Another Woman Faces Death By Stoning In Iran
* Indonesia Gets The Blessings Of Islamic Rule
* Zawahri Vows Jihad Until Islam Prevails
* Moslems Kill Two In Somalia For Watching Soccer
* Iraqi Terrorists Threaten To Kill Falafel Vendors
* Iraqi Tennis Players Killed For Wearing Shorts
* Saudis Prohibit Photos Of Women In Papers
* Saudis Let Women Sell Underwear
* Man Flees Bahrain After Accidentally Trashing Koran

By the way, a poll shows that over 60% of British Muslims would prefer sharia law. This comes from the web site dhimmiwatch.


//Am I being glib re Huff? I don't think so. No I have not read his book...//

OK.

//Yes, I do talk about theocracy...and I fear that as long as the west keeps demonizing Muslims, the war of words will continue.//

This is unfortunate.... on the other hand, when criticizing a theocracy one is, by definition, criticizing the clerics and by extension (and obviously) the religion through which they are ruling.

//My point once again is that we attribute western dominance to xity..which is nonsense.//

Well, OK, but as for now, I find Huff's presentation far more convincing that yours. Maybe you should read his book and then write your own?

Anyway, thanks for the correspondence and I'm sorry I have monopolized this conversation. Nonetheless, voices like yours are extremely important and we're lucky you agreed to be interviewed by Rob.

- Patrick

Blue Gal said...

Wanted to congratulate you on the Crooks and Liars link. You deserve a larger readership with all your fine work. Best wishes to you.

Professor Khaleel Mohammed said...

Some quick posts please: I was just looking at intrepid and am not at my deak and without the log in info

Material from Dhimmi watch etc, I deem to be rumors akin to gossip mags. If they are true, then I attribute them to the rulings of village elders rather than to shariah specialists as NONE of what he says is part of shariah law.

My critique of theocracy...I do NOT fully buy into the theory of it being a critique of the religion itself. But rather that ANY religion should rule...for here is the problem as noted by Weber: the prophets/founders may be liberal...but the later generations get strict. As Khalid Abou El Fadl has pointed out in his "Tolerance in Islam"--in early Islam, the jizya was there for a reason, and it should have been voided, given the passage and change of time and place. But jurists did NOT do that...for by then, things came to be viewed through the authority of an interpretation of a static text. For when a prophet/founder dies, the elasticity of revelation goes...and everything becomes etched in stone so to speak. The Mormons try to counter act this by having a continuous line of prophets, and hence could get out of the problem of Blacks being banned.

Re Huff: then my hat off to him for making a plausible presentation out of a false foundation. I still do NOT see how anyone who has studied Christianity can say that it has thefoundations for scientific thought. After all, the fundamentalist movement was set up precisely to bring the biblical literalness into focus and show that the two (Christianity and Science) are not compatible. On the other hand, medieval islam knew thinkers like Ibn sina, AL Jibr, Farabi, Averroes etc. IN fact, one of hte legacies of the crusades was that the western europeans could bring back material on science with them. Much of Aquinas' thought was in RESPONSE to Averroes. And in order to circumvent the religious right, all Muslim scholars had to do was begin their book in the name of God...and so we find sex treatises etc written and passed off as books of knowledge. I find it foolish to debate which religion was more compatible with science....It is "religion" that makes Muslim Ph/d's what they are? Are they going against their religious teachings? No one of authority has said that....and we must therefore look to OTHER causes rather than religion for the admitted backwardness of the majority of Muslim countries. One may argue...as do the propounders of "Islamization of Knowledge" that the Muslims lagged most in the development of armament because they refused to develop material for destruction of humans....and while I do NOT buy the argument fully, the ethics of Islam do indeed not allow for the use of knowledge to bring about that which can annihilate the human race.

The "Canon" of Avicenna as Muslims will gleefully tell you was the medical book of good reference, for both european and othewise. All of this is documented...and to embark on a book project of that sort would be against my better judgment.
All of that being said: one still wonders why when the pope makes a blatantly hostile statement, using questionable sources, many are so quick to rush to defend him. I wonder: when Chavez, coming from a very christian country, made his statements, none decried them as coming from a loco christian, simply from a loco. Interesting. The lenses of bigotry and prejudice.
All this again, not denying the malaise in the Middle east muslim world...but my point is that it is IN SPITE of Islam rather than because of it. As for judgments of idiots who rule in the name of Islam: in the same was as Americans point out that Pat Robertson does not speak for Xity when he talks about Katrina being God's vengeful hand at work.--even though he is learned...so too, we cannot use the views of village elders who speak as "judges". One has to actually live or visit the area to see what occurs. As Akbar Ahmed has pointed out in "Islam under Siege" the Pukhtun creed that underlined Taliban rulings had little to do with Islam and more to do with custom. To repeat too, anything coming from Dhimmi watch or Jihad , or Militant Islam Monitor is highly doubtful....these sites are run by Islamophobes who never accept (not that I blame them, given their agenda) anything critical of their viewpoint, but will happily take even the most obvious prevarication if it is something anti-Islamic.