Barack Obama and the Muslim Claim
According to polls a growing number of Americans think President Obama is Muslim with key percentage differences between Democrats and Republicans (conservatives are more likely to hold this belief than liberals although the numbers are significant on both sides). When I first heard these claims at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency I chalked it up to the fact that many Americans are ignorant about Islam and what it really means to be Muslim. Now that I have heard more of the substance of some of these claims, I think this error is based on a selective partial knowledge of Islam combined with the aforementioned ignorance.
I was debating with a fellow player in the chat within a first person shooter game while we were both dead. He had begun his claim that Obama is Muslim by arguing that in Islam a child is considered to be the religion of his father. While that is true, it is also true that in Islam it is considered to be a sin to draw a picture of the Prophet Muhammad. If, for the sake of this argument, we’re going to believe every Islamic assertion then we are all Muslim, including the opponent with whom I am arguing so that in fact is already game over. The fact is, however, that as a practical matter everybody does not automatically buy into every Islamic assertion so the fact that in Islam a child is regarded as having the religion of the father is entirely beside the point. Also, since Islamic doctrine is not passed on genetically or absorbed through osmosis, who would have raised Obama Muslim? His Ivy League educated non Muslim mother? By 1964 Barack Obama Senior was too busy living with his new Jewish wife and wouldn’t have been around to indoctrinate Obama Jr. in the intricacies of Islamic customs and theology, at least not in a manner that would have created a mind ripe for planning secret world domination. There is always the possibility that Obama would have embraced Islam on his own in later life but that is something that would have been noticed had it happened as I will later address.
The second point in the debate came when my opponent invoked the concept of taqiyya, a concept that permits Muslims to deny their belief in Islam and/or commit normally blasphemous acts in extreme circumstances where doing so is necessary to preserve their lives. My opponent was arguing that Obama was hiding his religion in the course of hijacking the American Presidency in order to run the nation in a manner that would presumably be favorable to Islam and Muslims and that he was specifically engaging in this deception under the auspices of taqiyya. This argument fails in at least two significant respects: the concept of taqiyya absolves someone for lying under duress. It does not negate a Muslim’s duty to believe, pray, pay the religious tax, fast during the month of Ramadan, attend Jummah prayers, and perform the pilgrimage to Mecca. What’s more, even if Obama had begun hiding his religion at some point during his adult life when it appeared possible that he might one day win the Presidency, someone would have undoubtedly noticed his ritualistic devotion at some time before that. Classmates and students would be bound to notice a person disappearing to pray five times a day, abstaining from food or drink during the daylight hours for an entire lunar month, and political opponents would have certainly dug up evidence of a trip to Mecca during the Hajj. None of this has ever come to light, not so much as a claim that Obama was heard to utter ‘salaamualaikum’ or even say ‘alhamdullilah’ after a sneeze. And the idea that Obama might be so devoutly religious as to conceal his religion for the sake of world domination but not religious enough to ever perform the mandatory salat and sawn (prayer and fasting) is patently ridiculous.
The thing that most Americans don’t understand is that Islam is not a religion in the sense that we think of when we think of modern Christianity. The two millenia of Christianity have watered the religion down to a form that has become lassez faire in terms of dealing with how to conduct ones self in the real world. With the exception of the evangelicals, modern Christian behavior is unexceptional in that one might work and life among Christians for years and not notice it. In this respect, Islam is not like the Christianity of today. A dedication to Islam would be outwardly obvious and impossible to conceal for the span of a lifetime.
Lastly, it must be pointed out that for devout Muslims, victory over the enemies of Islam is not even the ultimate goal. For Muslims the main purpose of one’s dedication is to be admitted to Paradise upon one’s death and to avoid hellfire, in short, preparation for the ultimate and permanent reality as opposed to this present ephemeral one. There are numerous hadith (traditions of the life of the Prophet) which describe God rejecting the worldly efforts of people because they were somehow deficient in their obligatory devotions. For this reason no Muslim in his right mind would waste an entire lifetime in avoiding the obligatory prayers, fasting, and pilgrimage (I’m conceding here that belief and charity can be done in secret) even for the purpose of secretly leading America on a path that is favorable to Muslims if doing so would result in God’s rejection in the afterlife. This is to say nothing of the fact that, if Obama were actually Muslim he would have already incurred eternal hellfire for having the ordered the execution of fellow Muslim Osama bin Laden which, by the way, begs the question: why bother becoming the secret Muslim President of the United States if you’re going to allow the killing of Bin Laden anyway? For that matter we might as well have had George Dubya Bush as President (please no liberal conspiracy theories about how Bush would have allowed him to live out of gratitude to the Bin Laden family, this post is long enough as it is). While it would be tempting to think that the entirety of Obama’s life is a deception, not only do the facts not bear it out but also there is no example in the Qur’an, hadith, or sunna (example of the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions) that would justify living an entire lifetime as a life. This wouldn’t even work for a CIA agent, much less for a devout Muslim.
I am entirely willing to debate the above points as well as considering some points I might not be aware of in anyone cares to bring them up.