Former President Bill Clinton declared his strong support for the Ground Zero mosque in an interview broadcast on September 12. He also suggested a clever new spin to the promoters of the project. Much or even most of the controversy, he said, “could have been avoided, and perhaps still can be, if the people who want to build the center were to simply say, We are dedicating this center to all the Muslims who were killed on 9/11.” Dedicating the mosque to the Muslim victims, he claims, would show that not all Muslims are terrorists: “We’ve all forgotten: There were a lot of Muslims killed on 9/11.”
First a trivial point: according to the Islamic activist sources, which are certain not to offer an underestimate, the number of Muslims killed on 9-11 in all three locations was 31, or about one percent of the total. (That number excludes the perpetrators themselves, but the same sources would claim that, since they were terrorists, they were not true Muslims anyway. Such claims are known as taqiyya.) Thirty one innocent lives is inherently “a lot,” but it is significantly less than three percent, which Islamic activists routinely claim is the share of their coreligionists in the overall population of the United States. There are two possible explanations for the discrepancy: either the activists exaggerate their numbers by some 300 percent, or two-thirds of the potential Muslim victims of 9-11 had been warned of the pending attack and wisely refrained from turning up for work. The gap is even more striking if we consider that the Muslim population of the Tri-State Region is at least twice the national average.
The substantive point concerns a key theological consideration regarding Muslim victims of Jihadist attacks, which Bill Clinton decided to omit from his pitch. He must have done so deliberately: it is inconceivable for a former President—with all the resources of research and expert opinion at his disposal—to make a high-profile pronouncement on the Muslim victims of a Jihadist attack, and yet to be unaware that Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, has given an authoritative opinion on the matter. According to Muhammad, any Muslims killed in the course of indiscriminate attacks on “infidel” settlements are to be viewed strictly as collateral damage:
It is no objection to shooting arrows or other missiles against the infidels that there may chance to be among them a Muslim … because the shooting of arrows and so forth among the infidels remedies a general evil in the repulsion thereof from the whole body of Muslims, whereas the slaying of a Muslim … is only a particular evil, and to repel a general evil a particular evil must be adopted… [I]t seldom happens that the strongholds of the infidels are destitute of Muslims … and hence, if the use of missile weapons were prohibited on account of these Muslims, war would be obstructed. If the infidels in time of battle should make shields of Muslim children, or of Muslims, who are prisoners in their hands, yet there is no need on that account to refrain from the use of missile weapons, for the reason already mentioned … There is also neither fine nor expiation upon the warriors on account of such of their arrows or other missiles as happen to hit the children or the Muslims, because the war is in observance of a divine ordinance, and atonement is not due for anything which may happen in the fulfillment of a divine ordinance, for otherwise men would neglect the fulfillment of the ordinance …
So why did Clinton decide not to mention Muhammad’s significant views on the subject? The answer seems clear: it would have destroyed his claim that dedicating the Ground Zero Mosque to the Muslim victims would “show that not all Muslims are terrorists.” Muhammad’s opinion proves that such dedication would show nothing of the kind: if those 31 victims of 9-11 were true Muslims, they necessarily accepted the Traditions of the Prophet as inviolable and supremely authoritative guidance in their personal lives. As any orthodox qadi may confirm, they would have been obliged to accept willingly their own status as collateral damage in the attacks of 9-11—just as they would have been obliged to risk the lives of other Muslims in a Jihadist attack carried out by themselves.
Well, Bill Clinton may reply, such argument does not apply because 9-11 was not an approved ghazwat. But WWMD (What Would Muhammad Do)? That is—we’d both agree, I assume—the real question, for one-billion-plus Muslims to whom imitatio Muhammadi is the supreme goal in life, and for the rest of us.
Al-Azhar University scholars—the most authoritative Sharia interpreters in the world—have asserted that the United States is waging an offensive war against Islam, and that terrorist operations are therefore divinely ordained defensive measures to protect the Muslim community from outside aggression. In March 2003, just days before the second Iraq war, they announced that “according to Islamic law, if the enemy steps on Muslims’ land, Jihad becomes a duty on every male and female Muslim.”
In the Quran and in Muhammad’s Traditions (Sunna, Ahadith), in Jihad there is no prohibition against killing non-combatants, women and children. Quite the contrary: since America has targeted Muslim civilians, either itself (Iraq, Afghanistan) or by proxy (Israel), the same response is not only lawful but divinely ordained: “And one who attacks you, attack him in like manner as he attacked you” (Quran 2:194). If the unbelievers target Muslim women, children and elderly, it is obligatory for Muslims to respond in kind.
Muhammad specifically condoned killing civilians when they are mixed with combatants. Asked about the infidel children and women who stayed behind with the enemy fighters and were killed, he replied, “they are from among them.” They ceased to be “inviolable.” Furthermore, non-combatants may be killed if they have assisted in combat “in deed, word, opinion, or any other way.” This is attested by Muhammad’s order to murder Duraid Ibn al-Simma, an old and infirm poet who provided advice to his enemies. His sweeping concept of “combat assistance” includes indirect support of which every gainfully employed American is potentially guilty.
Furthermore, Muhammad condoned killing women and children when it is necessary to sap the fighting potential of the infidel by destroying “the fortifications or the fields of the enemy in order to weaken his strength, to breach the ramparts, or to topple the country.” This is exactly what Muhammad did in his attack on the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir in Medina.
Last, and for Bill Clinton by no means least, Muhammad condoned the use of the weapons of mass destruction, specifically the catapult, during the siege of the city of Ta’if. Civilians were killed and maimed by these machines that hurled heavy rocks at the fortified city, just as hundreds of Serb civilians were killed during Clinton’s air war against Serbia in 1999.
Both Bill Clinton and the followers of Muhammad subscribe to a moral philosophy and a legal code that in principle allows terrorist acts, including mass murder of innocent women and children. A good Muslim knows that a thing is right simply because Allah says so, or because the prophet of Islam has thus said or done. Bill Clinton knows a thing is right because it serves his ends, whatever they may be. There is no “spirit of the law” in Clinton’s or Muhammad’s world, no rationality behind it for human reason to discover. Neither of them needs any other standard of good and evil, least of all a notion of “natural” justice such as that assumed by the founding fathers of the United States.
It is right and proper for Bill Clinton to be a supporter of the Ground Zero Mosque.