Murder Has A Religion

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Arsalan Iftikhar

This is a refutation of Arsalan Iftikhar's "Murder has no religion".


Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer and former National Legal Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (the organization named by U.S. Federal prosecutors in 2007 as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a Hamas funding case involving the Holy Land Foundation).[1] He is a contributing author of an award-winning book[2] and is well-known for his interviews, commentaries and analyses which have regularly appeared in virtually every major media outlet in the world.

In this article we will analyse a piece he had written for CNN, titled "Murder has no religion". It was written in response to the Fort Hood massacre, in which the "Allahu Akbar" screaming[3] U.S. Army major, Nidal Malik Hasan, murdered 13 people and wounded 30 others at a US military installation.[4]


Most of the world's 1.57 billion Muslims know that the Holy Quran states quite clearly that, "Anyone who kills a human being ... it shall be as though he has killed all of mankind. ... If anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he has saved the lives of all of mankind."[5]

No, it is not clear at all. It is unfortunate that even his opening sentence is a mis-truth. There is no such verse in the Qur'an. What Iftikhar has presented us with is a butchered and out-of-context paraphrasing of Qur'an 5:32 meant to mislead those who have little knowledge of Islamic scripture.

This verse is examined in detail here. In summary; it is written in past tense, and clearly does not apply to Muslims but to "the Children of Israel" i.e. the Jews. When the clause (omitted from the verse by Iftikhar) which allows killing is reinserted and we read it in context with the next two verses, it is in actual fact a chilling warning to non-believers who cause "mischief" in the land.

Accordingly, it should come as little surprise to any reasonable observer that when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan recently committed his shocking acts of mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas, America's Muslim community of over 7 million felt an added sense of horror and sadness at this senseless attack against the brave men and women of the U.S. armed forces.[5]

Another mis-truth which he insists on repeating again and again.[6] Contrary to the bloated figures provided by CAIR, and accepted by many apologists, media outlets, and even the President of the United States, and in spite of the massive influx of Muslim refugees, a Pew survey carried-out in October, 2009 found there are only 2.454 million Muslims in the U.S.[7] Percentage-wise, Islam represents a minuscule 0.8 percent of the United States religious make-up.

Quite possibly the message he was trying to convey to us was that there are many Muslims in America yet there are so few terrorist attacks on American soil. Unfortunately this is not the case.

There have been several terror attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 and, with little to no help from American Muslims,[8] more than 30 foiled attempts between October 2001 and May 2010.[9] In fact, whilst Muslims represent less than 1 percent of the American population, they constitute more than 80 percent of all US terror convictions.[10]

Furthermore, the relative silence among America's Muslim community and the worlds Muslim population in general suggests a passive acceptance of violence perpetuated in the name of Islam. There is no way he could possibly know how America's Muslims felt in regards to the senseless deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of this Muslim terrorist, and his empty words are meant to pull at America's heart strings.

True to form, many conservative media pundits wasted little time in pointing to reports that Hasan had said "Allahu Akbar" (Arabic for "God is great") at the start of his murderous rampage. News coverage continuously showed the looping convenience store black-and-white videotape footage of Hasan wearing traditional white Islamic garb.[5]

Another mis-truth. The Arabic word kebir means "great," while akbar means "greater". These two words are not interchangeable. For evidence of this, we need only look to Qur'an 2:219 which uses both words. The word for "God" in Arabic is "Ilah" not "Allah", as evidenced in the Shahadah.

Therefore we can rightly conclude that "Allahu akbar" does not mean "God is great", but "Allah is greater".

This is significant because it is the traditional war cry of Jihadists and was used by Muhammad himself before he launched his attack on the Jews of Khaibar.[11]

And there is no reason why the media should be criticized for reporting the words of a terrorist before his murderous rampage, and there is no reason why video footage of the terrorist in question should be suppressed.

Does Arsalan Iftikhar wish to inhibit reporting on certain criminals based on their own choice to overtly parade their religious affiliation?

Muslims who label themselves as "moderate" need to become assertive against their co-religionists which they refer to as "extremists," rather than attempt to hide religious extremism from the eyes of non-Muslims by sweeping matters under the carpet.

First of all, someone simply saying "Allahu Akbar" while committing an act of mass murder no more makes their criminal act "Islamic" than a Christian uttering the "Hail Mary" while murdering an abortion medical provider, or someone chanting "Onward, Christian Soldiers" while bombing a gay nightclub, would make their act "Christian" in nature.[5]

Iftikhar must be confused. He seems to be contradicting himself here. If he is trying to persuade his readers that these acts can be ascribed to a religion, then he is doing a great job with the above paragraph.

However, what he is most likely attempting here is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem tu quoque. It is something that is used when a position is indefensible. Hence it has become a staple for Islamic apologists who are left with no other defense than to shame critics into silence by disparaging other faiths in an attempt to bring them down to the same level as Islam.

If we delve a little deeper, the weakness of this argument becomes apparent.

Ignoring the perpetrators possible religious affiliations, the number of individuals killed in connection with abortion providers over a period of almost 4 decades does not even reach double figures. In case the reader is interested, the exact figure is 9.[12]

If we look to other faiths, in the U.K., 92 per cent of terrorist-related prisoners unsurprisingly describe themselves as Muslim, while five are Buddhist, one is a self-described Pagan, and none are Christian.[13]

Does this mean Buddhism is a violent religion? Of course not. It is only natural that there are a few hateful adherents in any religion; it's human nature and you will find this in all groups no matter what world-view they adhere to.

If violent acts perpetrated by Muslims were as rare as it is among adherents of other faiths, then Iftikhar may have a point. Sadly this is not the case.

The number of individuals killed in religiously motivated attacks by the hands of Muslims in 2008 alone numbers 10,779.[14] That's more people killed by Islamists in 2008 than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition combined. These shocking figures were followed by 9,159 killed in 2009[15] and 9,175 in 2010.[16]

Simply put; murder is murder and has no religion whatsoever.[5]

This, like many of his statements, is nonsensical. Religiously motivated murder obviously has a religion.

Also in counter to his previous statement, it was not simply a case of a madman screaming "Allahu Akbar" while committing a random act of mass murder, but a premeditated act of religious violence.

On the day of the massacre before leaving for the military base, Major Hasan gave a neighbor a copy of the Qur'an and told her, "I'm going to do good work for God".[17]

Echoing teachings and verses from the Qur'an,[18][19] he once gave a lecture to colleagues in which he said non-Muslims "should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats,"[17] and on another occasion he told them non-Muslims were "infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire."[17]

He had also previously attempted to contact extremists associated with Al Qaeda, but was not taken seriously.[20]

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan once wrote that, "One most certainly does insult Muslims by tying their religion to movements such as terrorism or fascism. Muslims perceive a double standard in this regard: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols would never be called 'Christian terrorists' even though they were in close contact with the Christian Identity Movement.[5]

This is possibly one of the most widely perpetuated myths in the West. Whilst his parents were Catholics, Timothy McVeigh was a self-described Agnostic[21] who said he would "improvise" if it turned out there was an afterlife. He even joked, "If I'm going to hell, I'm gonna have a lot of company."[22][23]

So unless we are to determine religious affiliation through genetic ties, to describe him as a "Christian terrorist" would be quite a stretch for anyones imagination.

Unlike Nidal Malik Hasan, McVeigh did not cry "Jesus is Greater," or "Buddha is Greater," because he was motivated by his hatred of the federal government,[24] and not by his non-existent religious beliefs.

Today, no-doubt, Iftikhar would also mention Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks which left 76 dead. However, in addition to the fact that he was declared insane and in a psychotic state both during and after the twin attacks,[25] Breivik's definition of what makes a person "100% Christian" is a very novel one to say the least, so even this comparison would be faulty.

The most basic requirement which defines a Christian is someone who believes Jesus is the Christ and accepts him as their "Lord and Savior". This is universal accepted by every denomination of Christianity, but not by Breivik.[26]

In his 1,500 page manifesto, "2083: A European Declaration of Independence", Breivik refers to people who are culturally Christian but have no belief in Christ, as "Christian atheists", and goes on to describe himself as a "cultural Christian". Thus his motivations were not religious but cultural.[27][28]

If an Arab Nationalist accepts Islam as a unifying symbol for the Arab states but does not accept Muhammad as a prophet, then he, by the very definition of the word, is not a Muslim and any negative actions by him cannot in anyway be attributed to Islam.

Likewise, the same applies to Breivik, Christianity, and Europe. There is no need to invoke the "No True Scotsman" fallacy, because by the very definition of the word, he is not a Christian.

It could be argued that beliefs do not matter and that self-identification is enough, but then that would by akin to arguing that "The God Delusion" is pro-Christian literature, because even Professor Dawkins has referred to himself as a "cultural Christian".[29]

Furthermore, no one is arguing that there are no Christian terrorists. Every ideology known to man has had its fair share of extremists, but in the case of Islamic terrorism, the "extremism" is almost always carried out by individuals who hold very orthodox and mainstream Islamic view-points.

Not only that, but it is the frequency in which they occur that is most striking and no amount of logical fallacies aimed at other faiths can disguise this fact.

No one would speak of Christo-fascism or Judeo-fascism as the Republican[s] ... speak of Islam-o-fascism. ... [Many people also] point out that [it was] persons of Christian heritage [who] invented fascism, not Muslims."[5]

Unlike other faiths, Islam is a political ideology as well as a religion. It is an accepted fact among Muslims that there is no concept of "separation of 'Church' and State" in the Islamic faith,[30][31] so it is only natural that they would desire to replace existing laws with the Shari'ah once Muslims become the majority in a democratic nation, in fact this is an obligatory requirement.[32] Even as a minority, Muslims have called for the implementation of Shari'ah in many countries the world over.[33][34][35]

People of a "Christian heritage" have invented numerous things, many of a positive nature, but this hardly makes the inventors or their inventions anymore "Christian" than the Dalai Lama, and quite rightly, no one would speak of "Christo-fascism" or "Judeo-fascism," as other faiths have no equivalent to the Shari'ah.[30] The concept of religious state laws do not exist in Christianity, and Israel, the world's only Jewish state, does not apply religious laws.

Conversely, there are many Muslim terrorist organizations and clerics who aim to install Shari'ah by force,[36][37][38][39] and the majority of the worlds predominantly Muslim nations adhere to some form of Shari'ah or enforce religious laws in parallel with the countries legal system.

According to Pentagon statistics, there were over 3,400 American Muslims serving in the active-duty military as of April 2008. The Wall Street Journal reported that many officials believe "the actual number of [American] Muslim soldiers may be at least 10,000 higher than the Pentagon statistics."[5]

Criticism of Islam and its negative influence on many of its adherents and the criticism of Muslims as individuals are not the same thing. Honest critics of Islam do not claim every single person who identifies themselves as "Muslim" is a terrorist or "extremist", yet apologists never seem to tire, as demonstrated by Iftikhar above, of attempting to conflate the two issues.

Pointing to peaceful Muslims, who are generally ignorant of the tenants of their own faith, is an overused strawman.

Thus, with thousands of patriotic American Muslim women and men proudly serving in our United States Army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, perhaps it would behoove our army leaders to consider sending a strong message of American unity by appointing an American Muslim to be a part of the prosecution team against Hasan. This would help show that the mass murders allegedly committed by Hasan have nothing to do with the teachings of our religion.[5]

To anyone but the most naive among us, this would not prove a thing. As with Iftikhar's protest against reporting the words of Major Hasan, it would simply be another attempt at manipulating public feelings.

The larger point is that Muslims in America completely disavow and wash our hands of any acts of murder (or terrorism) claimed to be performed in the name of our religion. Acts of mass murder, regardless of their time or place, are simply ungodly criminal acts that have no religion whatsoever.[5]

True to form, Arsalan Iftikhar finishes as he started, with another mistruth. In reality, one in four younger U.S. Muslims have said in a 2007 poll that suicide bombings to defend their religion is acceptable.[40] This is hardly surprising when one considers that a 2008 report revealed that almost 80 percent of U.S. mosques preach anti-Western extremism.[41]

If even a fraction of such figures were to be applied to any other world faith they would cause major concern, but when referencing Islam they hardly cause a ripple. It is the same throughout the Muslim populations in the West, and in the East extremists are consistently in the majority.

Interestingly, US soldier Naser Jason Abdo, like Arsalan Iftikhar, publicly condemned the Fort Hood shooting as running "counter to what I believe in as a Muslim," only to later be arrested in 2011 and admit planning to launching another attack on Fort Hood.[42]

Clearly not all American Muslims "disavow and wash their hands" with terrorism, even if they claim to do so.


In conclusion, Arsalan Iftikhar's entire piece consists of nothing more than a mixture of illogical nonsense and mis-truths, followed by one logical fallacy after another.

It relies upon emotionalism, as opposed to reason, to influence its readers, and is therefore devoid of any substance.

When one learns of the shear volume in Islamic terrorist incidents taken place around the world, and the numbers of those who support terror and the suppression of free speech, only a fool would think there is no connection between that and the Islamic faith.

Once you read Islamic scriptures as a practicing Muslim would, it is confirmed.

See Also

  • Tu Quoque - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Tu Quoque
  • Refutations - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Refutations


  • A version of this page is also available in the following languages: French. For additional languages, see the sidebar on the left.

External Links


  1. Josh Gerstein - Islamic Groups Named in Hamas Funding Case - The New York Sun, June 4, 2007
  2. Taking Back Islam - Rodale Store
  3. Fort Hood shooting: gunman shouted 'Allahu Akbar' before opening fire - The Telegraph, November 6, 2009
  4. Lawmakers' briefing causes confusion on wounded - NewsChannel 9, November 5, 2009
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Arsalan Iftikhar - Murder has no religion - CNN, November 9, 2009
  6. Arsalan Iftikhar - My Take: Is ‘All-American Muslim’ begetting all-American bigotry? - CNN, December 12th, 2011
  7. Patrick Goodenough - New Survey on Islam Calls Into Question Population Figure Used by Obama - CNS News, October 9, 2009
  8. Rep. Pete King is right, say feds and cops: We don't get many tips from Muslim community - Daily News, March 8, 2011
  9. Michael Haltman - More than 30 incidents of domestic terrorism attacks thwarted since 9/11 - Examiner, May 23, 2010
  10. Steve Emerson - Islamists Dominate DOJ's List of Terror Prosecutions - FamilySecurityMatters, March 10, 2011
  11. "Narrated Anas: The Prophet set out for Khaibar and reached it at night. He used not to attack if he reached the people at night, till the day broke. So, when the day dawned, the Jews came out with their bags and spades. When they saw the Prophet; they said, "Muhammad and his army!" The Prophet said, Allahu--Akbar! (Allah is Greater) and Khaibar is ruined, for whenever we approach a nation (i.e. enemy to fight) then it will be a miserable morning for those who have been warned." - Sahih Bukhari 4:52:195
  12. Anti-abortion violence - Wikipedia, accessed November 28, 2010
  13. Home Correspondent, Richard Ford - Security Minister Lord West stopped and searched under Terrorism Act - The Sunday Times, November 27, 2009
  14. List of Islamic Terror Attacks from 2008 - TheReligionOfPeace
  15. List of Islamic Terror Attacks from 2009 - TheReligionOfPeace
  16. List of Islamic Terror Attacks from 2010 - TheReligionOfPeace
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Nick Allen - Fort Hood gunman had told US military colleagues that infidels should have their throats cut - The Telegraph, November 8, 2009
  18. "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; ..." - Qur'an 47:4
  19. "These two antagonists dispute with each other about their Lord: But those who deny (their Lord),- for them will be cut out a garment of Fire: over their heads will be poured out boiling water. With it will be scalded what is within their bodies, as well as (their) skins..." - Qur'an 22:19-20
  20. Investigators Found E-Mails From Hasan to Al Qaeda, Officials Say - FOX News, November 10, 2009
  21. "...Prison Warden Harley Lappin offered Tim a Catholic priest. According to McVeigh's lawyer Robert Nigh, Tim said he would consider it. Nigh said after a 15-minute final meeting with his client during which they discussed whether McVeigh, a self-described agnostic, would see a priest and receive the final sacraments of the Catholic faith, McVeigh agreed...." - Susan Candiotti: McVeigh changed mind and was given last rites - CNN, June 11, 2001
  22. "...In his letter, McVeigh said he was an agnostic but that he would "improvise, adapt and overcome", if it turned out there was an afterlife. "If I'm going to hell," he wrote, "I'm gonna have a lot of company." His body is to be cremated and his ashes scattered in a secret location...." - McVeigh faces day of reckoning - Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 11, 2001
  23. "...McVeigh is agnostic. He doesn't believe in God, but he won't rule out the possibility. I asked him, ‘What if there is a heaven and hell?’ He said that once he crosses over the line from life to death, if there is something on the other side, he will -- and this is using his military jargon – ‘adapt, improvise, and overcome.’ Death to him is all part of the adventure..." - Authors Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck on their book about Timothy McVeigh - CNN Transcript, April 4, 2001
  24. Oklahoma City bombing - Wikipedia, accessed November 28, 2010
  25. Norway massacre: Breivik declared insane - BBC News, November 29, 2011
  26. "'...A majority of so called agnostics and atheists in Europe are cultural conservative Christians without even knowing it. So what is the difference between cultural Christians and religious Christians? If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God then you are a religious Christian. Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian..." - 2083: A European Declaration of Independence (p. 1308)
  27. "'...If you want to fight for the cross and die under the “cross of the martyrs” it’s required that you are a practising Christian, a Christian agnostic or a Christian atheist (cultural Christian). The cultural factors are more important than your personal relationship with God, Jesus or the holy spirit... As a cultural Christian, I believe Christendom is essential for cultural reasons... As this is a cultural war, our definition of being a Christian does not necessarily constitute that you are required to have a personal relationship with God or Jesus. Being a Christian can mean many things..." - 2083: A European Declaration of Independence (p. 1360-on)
  28. J.E. Dyer - Anders Breivik, post-modern Crusader - Hot Air, July 25, 2011
  29. Dawkins: I'm a cultural Christian - BBC News, December 10, 2007
  30. 30.0 30.1 Comparison of Islam, Judaism and Christianity - ReligionFacts
  31. Dr. Ja`far Sheikh Idris - Separation Of Church And State - AlJumuah Magazine, Volume 13 Issue 3
  32. Ruling on democracy and elections and participating in that system - Islam Q&A, Fatwa No. 107166
  33. Martyn Brown - Now Muslims demand full Sharia law - Daily Express, October 15, 2009
  34. Christians opose Muslim push for Sharia -, August 7, 2009
  35. Emma Wall - Ghetto Britain - Daily Star, January 21, 2009
  36. Somali president bends to rebel demand for sharia law - CNN, February 28, 2009
  37. Nigeria’s Islamic militants reject peace overtures - The Africa Report, October 3, 2011
  38. Rajah Sulaiman Movement (RSM) - The Investigative Project on Terrorism, August 24, 2007
  39. Islamic clerics reject south Sudan referendum, demand Islamic laws - The Sudan Tribune, December 25, 2010
  40. Alan Fram - Some young U.S. Muslims approve suicide hits - Associated Press, May 22, 2007
  41. Study: 3 in 4 U.S. mosques preach anti-West extremism - WorldNetDaily, February 23, 2008
  42. Fort Hood suspect condemned '09 shootings - Associated Press, July 29, 2011