Date: 20 Mar 2010


190 Understanding Muhammad Osherow continues: “Conditions in the People’s Temple became so oppressive, the discrepancy between Jim Jones’s stated aims and his practices so pronounced, that it is almost inconceivable that members failed to entertain questions about the church. But these doubts were not reinforced. There were no allies to support one’s disobedience of the leader’s commands and no fellow dissenters to encourage the expression of disagreement with the majority. Public disobedience or dissent was quickly punished. Questioning Jones’s word, even in the company of family or friends was dangerous. Informers and “counselors” were quick to report indiscretions, even the relatives.” Like Jones, Muhammad relied on sycophant informers, which as Osherow says: “This not only stifled dissent; it also diminished the solidarity and loyalty that individuals felt toward their families and friends.” In Islam, Muslims are asked to keep a watch on each other and warn one another if one of them deviates from the “right path". This is called Amr bil ma’roof (injunction of right) and Nahi min al munkar (forbiddance of wrong). The right and wrong, however, are not what commonsense and the Golden Rule dictate but they are what the Prophet allowed or forbade. In other words, everyone is a “Big Brother” and vigilante to others and is required to correct the conduct of his fellow believers and report them to authorities in grave cases. In Iran, after the Islamic revolution, children were encouraged to report any un- Islamic activity by their parents. Several youths were reported by their own fathers to the authorities who were executed. The informers then were lauded and glorified to encourage others to do the same. Osherow says: “While Jones preached that a spirit of brotherhood should pervade his church, he made it clear that each member’s personal dedication should be directed to “Father.” In Islam the believers are supposed to be brothers to each other but their first loyalty is to Muhammad, or as he adroitly put it, to “Allâh and his messenger.” The moment one leaves Islam, those very people who professed to be brothers will not hesitate to slit one’s throat. The similarities of Muhammad and Jim Jones are astounding. One wonders whether the latter was a copycat of the former. The truth is that this is the natural expression of the psychopathic mind of all narcissists. All totalitarian polities, from Nazism to fascism, from communism to Islam, are cultic and share the same characteristics that George Orwell described in his Novel Nineteen Eighty Four. When Sane People Follow Insane People 191 Destruction of Family Ties Jim Jones believed: “Families are part of the enemy system,” because they hurt one’s total dedication to the “Cause”.253 The “Cause” was of course none but himself. Thus, a person called before the membership to be punished could expect his or her family to be among the first and most forceful critics.254 Muhammad split families by stating that the believers must pay their allegiance first to Allâh and his Messenger and disobey their parents if they come between them and Islam. The following verse from the Qur’an makes this point clear: Now We have enjoined on man goodness towards his parents; yet (even so) should they endeavor to make you commit Shirk (disbelief) with Me of something which you have no knowledge of, obey them not.255 “Why didn’t more people leave?” Osherow asks. “Once inside the People’s Temple, leaving was discouraged; defectors were hated,” He explains. “Nothing upset Jim Jones so much; people who left became the targets of his most vitriolic attacks and were blamed for any problems that occurred. One member recalled that after several teen-age members left the Temple, ‘We hated those eight with such a passion because we knew any day they were going to try bombing us. I mean Jim Jones had us totally convinced of this.’” 256 Muslims are also brought up with the same mentality. A Muslim can’t hate anyone more than the apostates. In Islam, apostates, freethinkers and critics are threatened and killed. Muslim dissenters are accused of blasphemy and lynched or executed. Osherow writes: “Defecting became quite a risky enterprise, and, for most members, the potential benefits were very uncertain. Escape was not a viable option. Resistance was too costly. With no other alternatives apparent, compliance became the most reasonable course of action. The power that Jim Jones wielded kept the membership of the People’s Temple in line, and the difficulty of defecting helped to keep them in.” The Qur’an makes it clear that apostasy is not accepted. 253 Mills, J. Six years with God. New York: A & W Publishers, 1979. 254 Cahill, T. In the valley of the shadow of death. Rolling Stone. January 25, 1979. 255 Qur’an, Sura 29, Verse 8 256 Winfrey, C. Why 900 died in Guyana. New York Times Magazine, February 25, 1979. 192 Understanding Muhammad If you renounced the faith, you would surely do evil in the land, and violate the ties of blood. Such are those on whom God has laid His curse, leaving them deaf and sightless.... Those who return to unbelief after God's guidance has been revealed to them are seduced by Satan and inspired by him.... (Q. 47:23-28) Here Muhammad is promising divine chastisement for the apostates. He also prescribed punishment in this world. Bukhari has reported the following hadith: Allâh's Apostle said, "The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allâh and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims." 257 Another hadith tells us that some apostates were brought to Ali and he burned them. When the news of this event reached Ibn 'Abbas, he said, “If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allâh's Apostle forbade it, saying, ‘Do not punish anybody with Allâh's punishment (fire).’ I would have killed them according to the statement of Allâh's Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.’” 258 The Power of Persuasion What attracted people to join Jones’ church in the first place? Let us analyze this question and compare it to what attracts new converts to Islam. Osherow credits Jones’s charismatic personality to his oratory power, aided by his genius in manipulating people who were most vulnerable. With promises and carefully honing his presentation to appeal to each specific audience he would easily win their hearts and imagination. In the words of Cicero “Nothing is so unbelievable that oratory cannot make it acceptable.” Muhammad was fully aware of the power of oratory. He believed that “in eloquence there is magic”259 and used to say: “Some eloquent speech has the 257 Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 83, Number 17 258 Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 84, Number 57 259 Sunnan Abu Dawud; Book 41, Number 4994 When Sane People Follow Insane People 193 influence of magic (e.g., some people refuse to do something and then a good eloquent speaker addresses them and then they agree to do that very thing after his speech).”260 Elsewhere he bragged, "I have been given the keys of eloquent speech and given victory with terror.261 He used both the power of oratory and persuasion, and terror and intimidation to his advantage. Osherow writes: “The bulk of the People’s Temple membership was comprised of society’s needy and neglected: the urban poor, the black, the elderly and a sprinkling of addicts and ex-convicts".262 Compare that to the early followers of Muhammad in Mecca. They were mostly the poor, the disfranchised slaves, the rebellious youths, and a few disaffected women. He preached to the slaves that they should escape the yoke of their masters and emigrate; he told the youths to disobey their parents and follow him; he spoke of social equality and the brotherhood of all the believers; he promised everyone great rewards in the afterlife and wealth in this world, wealth that was later secured through looting. The three historians, Tabari, Ibn Sa’d and Ibn Ishaq agree that only a few converted to Islam out of faith. The majority converted out of fear or for the greed of a share in the loot. Nonetheless, and irrespective of their original reasons, they served Muhammad’s goal of conquest. Claims of Grandiosity Cult leaders have megalomaniac personalities. Both Jim Jones and Muhammad had hyper-inflated egos. To attract new members, Jones held public services in various cities. Leaflets distributed read: Pastor Jim Jones… Incredible! Miraculous! Amazing! The Most Unique Prophetic Healing Service You’ve Ever Witnessed! Behold the Word Made Incarnate In Your Midst!”263 260 Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 76 261 Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 87, Number 127 262 Winfrey, C. Why 900 died in Guyana. New York Times Magazine, February 25, 1979. 263 Suicide Cult: The Inside Story of the Peoples Temple Sect and the Massacre in Guyana (201P) by Marshall Kilduff and Ron Javers (1978) 194 Understanding Muhammad Muhammad had many lofty claims about himself, too. His sockpuppet Allâh often praised with words such as: • We sent you not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. (Q.21:107) • And surely you [Muhammad] have sublime morals. (Q.68:4) • Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh you have a good example to follow. (Q.33:21) • Verily this is the word of a most honorable Messenger. (Q.81:19) • But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (Q. 4:65) The last verse makes it clear that Muhammad was seeking absolute obedience and frowned at any criticism or disagreement. Osherow writes: “Members learned to attribute the apparent discrepancies between Jones’s lofty pronouncements and the rigors of life in the People’s Temple to their personal inadequacies rather than blaming them on any fault of Jones. As ex-member Neva Sly was quoted: ‘We always blamed ourselves for things that didn’t seem right.’264 A unique and distorted language developed within the church, in which ‘The Cause’ became anything that Jim Jones said.265 Ultimately, through the clever use of oratory, deception, and language, Jones could speak of death as ‘stepping over,’ thereby camouflaging a hopeless act of self-destruction as a noble and brave act of ‘revolutionary suicide,’ and the members accepted his words.” This is so typical in Islam, where the believers volunteer to take the blame for anything that goes wrong and attribute everything that goes right to Allâh. Also we can see the incredible similarity between the followers of Muhammad and those of Jim Jones in their approach to death. The origin of the statement “we love to die as much as you love to live,” with which Osama Bin Laden inaugurated his infamous letter to America is to be found in the Battle of Qadisiyya in the year 636, when the commander of the Muslim forces, Khalid ibn Al-Walid, sent an emissary with a message from Caliph Abu Bakr to the Persian commander, Khosrau. The message stated: “You [Khosrau and his people] should convert to Islam, and then you will be safe, for if you don't, you should know that I have come to you with an army of men that 264 Winfrey, C. Why 900 died in Guyana. New York Times Magazine, February 25, 1979. 265 Mills, J. Six years with God. New York: A & W Publishers, 1979 When Sane People Follow Insane People 195 love death, as you love life.” This account is recited in today's Muslim sermons, newspapers, and textbooks. Claim to Secret Knowledge One way the cult leaders try to impress their followers is by performing miracles and claiming to have the knowledge of the unknown. Jim Jones performed many miracles that were all staged. Among them was his ability to reveal something about the new members or the guests that no one except they themselves could have known. To perform this “miracle” he would send one of his confidants beforehand to search the belongings of the guest, go through his private letters or eavesdrop on their conversations and inform him of their findings. Then he would surprise them with his “secret knowledge” about them. Muhammad did the same. He had spies everywhere and after being tipped off, he would claim “Gabriel informed me...” In chapter two we discussed the scandal of Muhammad’s sexual affair with Mariyah, Hafsa’s reaction to it and Muhammad’s oath to prohibit Mariyah to himself that he later broke thanks to Allâh’s intervention. Relevant to our discussion is the verse that follows. This verse talks about Muhammad ordering Hafsa not to reveal the secret of his sexual affair with Mariyah to anyone, but Hafsa, unable to keep her mouth shut, divulged the secret to Aisha. Muhammad became outraged when he found out that his secret is out. Now it does not take a much intelligence to know that if the secret is out, Hafsa must have done it. However, Muhammad claimed that it was Allâh who had informed him that Hafsa had disobeyed him. And when the prophet secretly communicated a piece of information to one of his wives-- but when she informed (others) of it, and Allâh made him to know it, he made known part of it and avoided part; so when he informed her of it, she said: Who informed you of this? He said: The Knowing, the one Aware, informed me. (Q.66:3) The whole story is ludicrous. The maker of the Universe first takes the role of a pimp, helping his prophet to have sex with the woman that he lusts for and then, he gossips, informing him about what his wives said behind his back. There is no point to discuss the silliness of this story. The point that is worth making is that Muhammad claimed to have received information from God 196 Understanding Muhammad when the fact that Hafsa had divulged his secret was quite obvious. Anyone with the wits of a six-year-old child could have known this. These are all ways for the cult leader to manipulate people and claim secret knowledge. The amazing thing is that the followers often become willing collaborators of the leader’s scams. Performing Miracles Osherow reports the following story, written by Jeannie Mills, in which Jim Jones performs the miracle of multiplying the food: There were more people than usual at the Sunday service, and for some reason the church members hadn’t brought enough. food to feed everyone. It became apparent that the last fifty people in line weren’t going to get any meat. Jim announced, "Even though there isn’t enough food to feed this multitude, I am blessing the food that we have and multiplying it just as Jesus did in Biblical times. Sure enough, a few minutes after he made this startling announcement, Eva Pugh came out of the kitchen beaming, carrying two platters filled with fried chicken. A big cheer came from the people assembled in the room, especially from the people who were at the end of the line. The “blessed chicken” was extraordinarily delicious, and several of the people mentioned that Jim had produced the best-tasting chicken they had ever eaten. One of the men, Chuck Beikman, jokingly mentioned to a few people standing near him that he had seen Eva drive up a few moments earlier with buckets from the Kentucky Fried Chicken stand. He smiled as he said, “The person that blessed this chicken was Colonel Sanders.” During the evening meeting Jim mentioned the fact that Chuck had made fun of his gift. “He lied to some of the members here, telling them that the chicken had come from a local shop,” Jim stormed. “But the Spirit of Justice has prevailed. Because of his lie Chuck is in the men’s room right When Sane People Follow Insane People 197 now, wishing that he was dead. He is vomiting and has diarrhea so bad he can’t talk!” An hour later a pale and shaken Chuck Beikman walked out of the men’s room and up to the front, being supported by one of the guards. Jim asked him, “Do you have anything you’d like to say?” Chuck looked up weakly and answered, “Jim, I apologize for what I said. Please forgive me.” As we looked at Chuck, we vowed in our hearts that we would never question any of Jims “miracles” at least not out loud. Years later, we learned that Jim had put a mild poison in a piece of cake and given it to Chuck.” 266 Now, to perform this “miracle” Jones had to rely on the collaboration of Eva. The question is why would this woman knowingly participate in such a scam? There are similar miracles attributed to Muhammad. In one hadith, someone claimed that he saw Muhammad putting his hand in a pot and water gushed out from it, so that the entire army performed ablution from one pot. I saw Allâh's Apostle when the 'Asr (evening) prayer was due and the people searched for water to perform ablution but they could not find it. Later on (a pot full of) water for ablution was brought to Allâh's Apostle. He put his hand in that pot and ordered the people to perform ablution from it. I saw the water springing out from underneath his fingers till all of them performed the ablution (it was one of the miracles of the Prophet).267 In another hadith we are told that Muhammad multiplied the bread;268 or that he struck a huge solid rock with his spade and the rock became like sand.269 Or, he blessed a meal that was barely enough for four or five and with it fed an army.270 266 Mills, J. Six years with God. New York: A & W Publishers, 1979 267 Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 4, Number 170 268 Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 428 269 Sahih Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 427 270 Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 293 198 Understanding Muhammad There are tens of “miracles” that Muslims have attributed to Muhammad. Most of these so-called miracles were claimed by Muhammad himself. These were miracles that no one but he could verify and yet no Muslim doubts them. One such miracle is his claim to have visited the town of the Jinns. In another place he said that a group of Jinns in Medina had embraced Islam.271 In one fantastic story he claimed to have struggled with a big demon and subdued him. Last night a big demon (afreet) from the Jinns came to me and wanted to interrupt my prayers (or said something similar) but Allâh enabled me to overpower him. I wanted to fasten him to one of the pillars of the mosque so that all of you could see him in the morning..."272 These stories were for the consumption of gullible believers. Ibn Sa’d quotes a story narrated by Abu Rafi, one of the believers, who said that one day Muhammad visited him and he killed a lamb for dinner. Muhammad liked shoulders so he served him one. Then he asked for another one and when he finished, he asked for another. (Remember that he had an insatiable appetite.) Abu Rafi said, “I gave you both shoulders. How many shoulders does a lamb have?” to which Muhammad responded, “If you had not said this, you would have been able to give me as many shoulders as I had asked for.”273 Despite such outlandish claims, when challenged by the skeptics, Muhammad repeatedly denied being able to perform miracles. He admitted that although all other prophets were given the power to perform miracles, his only miracle was the Qur’an. The Prophet said, “There was no prophet among the prophets but was given miracles because of which people had security or had belief, but what I was given was the Divine Inspiration which Allâh revealed to me. 274 The question is why would believers go out of their way to falsely attribute miracles to their prophet? That is a question that they ought to answer. My hunch is that once the believers become convinced of the truth of their belief, they justify everything including lies. People with strong faith, who are usually decent and ethical, willingly lie, participate in frauds, abuse others and 271 Shih Muslim Book 026, Number 5559 272 Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 8, Number 450 273 Tabaqat, Volume 1, Page 375 274 Sahih Bukhari Volume 9, Book 92, Number 379 When Sane People Follow Insane People 199 even kill, if necessary, to support their belief. The “cause” to them is so important that it overshadows every other consideration. When people become so convinced of the truth of a cause that they are willing to die for it, then lying for it and even killing for it become a synch. The end justifies the means. Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician wrote: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully, as when they do it from religious conviction.” History is witness to the truth of Pascal’s words. Much crime has been committed in the name of religion. Faith blinds and absolute faith blinds absolutely. Imam Ghazzali's275 authority in Islam is indisputable. He said: “When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible” 276 Osherow quotes Kasindorf, “Jim Jones skillfully manipulated the impression what his church would convey to newcomers. He carefully managed its public image. He used the letter-writing and political clout of hundreds of members to praise and impress the politicians and press that supported the People’s Temple, as well as to criticize and intimidate its opponents.”277 If any newspaper writes something that Muslims find insulting, all of them flood the offices of the editor to voice their complaints. They will continue with their harassment until an apology is issued publicly and the edition is withdrawn. How can we forget the riots and the killings of the innocent people when the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published a few cartoons of Muhammad, or when Pope Benedict XVI quoted a Byzantine emperor who asked “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new?” On November 10th, 2003, the Muslim Public Affair Committee, MPAC, CAIR’s counterpart in UK, published an angry letter condemning the publisher Amber Books of blasphemy. The furor was over a book called The History of Punishment that Amber Books had printed. The book was not about Islam. It offered a view of punishment in various cultures and civilizations. It also included chapters on ancient methods of punishments, such as Biblical punishments, Roman punishments and Sharia 275 Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzâlî (1058-1111) known as Algazel is one of the most celebrated scholars in the history of Islamic thought. Born in Iran, he was an Islamic theologian, philosopher, and mystic. He contributed significantly to the development of a systematic view of Sufism and its integration and acceptance in mainstream Islam. 276 Ahmad Ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveler, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller , Amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745 277 Kasindorf, J. Jim Jones: The seduction of San Francisco. New West, December 18, 1978. 000000000