Date: 20 Mar 2010


b 180 Understanding Muhammad Let us analyze the cult of the People’s Temple and compare it to Islam. All cults share fundamentally similar characteristics. We could compare Islam to any cult and the result would be the same. Neal Osherow has studied People’s Temple and in an article entitled An Analysis of Jonestown: Making Sense of the Nonsensical, he explains the anatomy of cults with clarity. The members of People’s Temple, stirred by their leader, Jim Jones, fed a poison-laced drink to their children, administered the potion to their infants, and drank it themselves. Their bodies were found lying together, arm in arm; over 900 perished. How could such a tragedy occur? The answer is the insanity of one man and the credulity of many. In this chapter I will go over Osherow’s analysis of People’s Temple and compare it, point by point, with Islam to see the similarities and to gain a better understanding of this religion. As long as Muslims believe that Muhammad was a prophet, whatever he did, to them is justifiable. As we shall see at the end of this chapter, the hope of recovery of those who are brainwashed in cults is slim. However, of those few whose rational faculty has not been irretrievably impaired and could be jolted back to reality, this may impel them to begin to question the tenets of their faith. Jim Jones started his preaching in Indiana twenty years before the mass suicide, in 1965, with a handful of followers. He stressed the need for racial equality and integration. His group helped feed the poor and find them jobs. He was charismatic and persuasive. Soon his followers began to multiply; new congregations were formed and a headquarters was established in San Francisco. Absolute Obedience Jones was to his followers a beloved leader. They affectionately called him “Father,” or simply “Dad”. As time went on he gradually assumed the role of messiah. As his influence grew, he demanded more obedience and loyalty. His followers were more than eager to comply. He persuaded them that the world would be destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and if they followed him, only THEY would emerge as survivors. Osherow writes: “Many of his harangues attacked racism and capitalism, but his most vehement anger focused on the ‘enemies’ of the People’s Temple - its detractors and especially its defectors.” The above picture is similarly descriptive of Islam. At first, Muhammad was only a “warner,” calling people to believe in God and fear the Day of When Sane People Follow Insane People 181 Judgment. As his influence grew and the number of his followers increased, he became more demanding, asking them to leave their homes, emigrate from their homes, and threatened them with divine chastisement if they did not obey him. Many of Muhammad’s harangues attacked polytheism (shirk), but his most vehement anger was directed at the “enemies” of Islam, his detractors and especially the defectors. Jim Jones took his people to a jungle in Guyana and separated them from their families. Cut off from all external influences and completely under his control he could easily brainwash and indoctrinate them. This was exactly the reason why Muhammad wanted his followers to go to Medina. He turned his more loyal followers against those who did not want to leave. The following verse expresses his sentiment. As to those who believed but came not into exile, you owe no duty of protection to them until they come into exile; but if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them. And (remember) Allâh sees all that you do. (Q.8:72) This verse says Muslims should not give protection to other Muslims who did not emigrate. In other words, they should kill them, until they leave and comply. The last part of this verse is particularly telling. He is warning his followers that Allâh is watching them and that he knows, not only what they do, but is also aware of their thoughts. Muhammad’s Allâh has an uncanny resemblance to George Orwell’s enigmatic dictator of Oceania, fictional character "Big Brother", in his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In his fictional society everybody is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. People are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you,” which is the core “truth” of the propaganda system in this state. In the novel, it is not clear if the Big Brother actually exists as a person, or is an image crafted by the state. However, since Inner Party torturer O'Brien points out that Big Brother can never die, the apparent implication is that Big Brother is the personification of the party. Nobody has ever seen him. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen… Big Brother is the guise in which the Party chooses to exhibit itself to the world. His function is to act as a focusing point for love, fear, and reverence, emotions which are more easily felt towards an individual than towards an organization." The loyal citizens of 182 Understanding Muhammad Oceania do not fear Big Brother, but in fact love and revere him. They feel he protects them from the evils out there.242 The above is also true of Allâh, an invisible and yet ever-present being, who is loved and simultaneously feared by Muslims and who watches their every move and monitors their thoughts. Death as the Proof of Faith Osherow writes: “But when in 1978 the concerned relatives of People’s Temple persuaded the Congressman Leo Ryan to investigate the cult, he and the journalists that accompanied him heard most residents praise the settlement, expressing their joy at being there and their desire to stay. Two families, however, slipped messages to Ryan that they wanted to leave with him. But when the visiting party and these defectors tried to board planes, they were ambushed and fired at until five of them including Ryan, were murdered. Then Jim Jones gathered his followers and told them to drink from the poison-laced beverage and ‘die with dignity’”. Excerpts from a tape, recorded as the final ritual was being enacted, reveal that the believers, with only few exceptions, voluntarily drank the poison and fed it to their children. The talks and assurances of Jim Jones are eerily recognizable to those who are familiar with the Qur’an. A woman protests but the crowd silences her and everyone expresses their readiness to die. The following is the text of the tape recording. It is truly shocking but at the same time, it reveals the core of fanaticism. Jim Jones: I’ve tried my best to give you a good life. In spite of all I’ve tried, a handful of people, with their lies, have made our life impossible. If we can’t live in peace then let’s die in peace. (Applause) … We have been so terribly betrayed… What’s going to happen here in the matter of a few minutes is that one of the people on that plane is going to shoot the pilot - I know that. I didn’t plan it, but I know its going to happen … So my opinion is that you used to in ancient Greece, and step over quietly, because we are not committing suicide-it’s a revolutionary act …We can’t go back First Woman: I feel like that as there’s life; there’s hope. Jones: Well, someday everybody dies. 242 Wikipedia.com When Sane People Follow Insane People 183 Crowd: That’s right, that’s right! Jones: What those people gone and done, and what they get through will make our lives worse than hell... But to me, death is not a fearful thing. It’s living that’s cursed. Not worth living like this. First Woman: But I’m afraid to die. Jones: I don’t think you are. I don’t think you are. First Woman: I think there were too few who left for 1,200 people to give them their lives for those people who left... I look at all the babies and I think they deserve to live. Jones: But don’t they deserve much more? They deserve peace. The best testimony we can give is to leave this goddam world. (Applause) First Man: It’s over, sister... We’ve made a beautiful day. (Applause) Second Man: If you tell us we have to give our lives now, we’re ready. (Applause) [Baltimore Sun, 1979] Above the cries of babies wailing, the tape continues, with Jones insisting upon the need for suicide and urging the people to complete the act: Jones: Please get some medication. Simple! It’s simple There’s no convulsions with it... Don’t be afraid to die. You’ll see people land out here. They’ll torture our people... Second Woman: There’s nothing to worry about. Everybody keep calm and try to keep your children calm... They’re not crying from pain; it’s just a little bitter tasting... Third Woman: This is nothing to cry about. This is something we could all rejoice about. (Applause) Jones: Please, for God’s sake, let’s get on with it... This is a revolutionary suicide. This is not a self-destructive suicide. (Voices praising, "Dad." Applause) Third Man: Dad has brought us this far. My vote is to go with Dad... Jones: We must die with dignity. Hurry, hurry, hurry! We must hurry... Stop this hysterics. Death is a million times more preferable to spending more days in this life... If you knew what was ahead, you’d be glad to be stepping over tonight... Fourth Woman: It’s been a pleasure walking with all of you in this revolutionary struggle... No other way I would rather go than to give my life for socialism, Communism, and I thank Dad very much. 184 Understanding Muhammad Jones: Take our life from us... We didn’t commit suicide. We committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting against the conditions of an inhuman world.243 The release of this tape shocked the world. Yet absolute devotion and mindless obedience, characteristic of cults, is what Islam is all about. Islam means submission. The believers must relinquish their will and disregard everything, including their family and their own life to prove their loyalty to Allâh and his messenger. In the Qur’an we read: “…then seek for death, if you are sincere.”(Q.2:94) In another place Muhammad challenges the Jews to desire death in order to prove that they are truthful. Say: "O ye that stand on Judaism! If ye think that ye are friends to Allâh, to the exclusion of (other) men, then express your desire for Death, if ye are truthful.”(Q. 62:6) It is clear that according to the twisted mind of the narcissists such as Jim Jones and Muhammad, the ultimate test of devotion was to ask their followers to die. The Palestinian televisions often show the mothers of suicide bombers proudly speak of the sacrifice of their children and express their hope that their other children would follow suit. Punishment and Coercion Osherow explains: “If you hold a gun at someone’s head, you can get that person to do just about anything. The Temple lived in constant fear of severe punishment, brutal beatings coupled with public humiliation for committing trivial or even accidental offenses. Jim Jones used the threat of severe punishment to impose the strict discipline and absolute devotion that he demanded, and he also took measures to eliminate those factors that might encourage resistance or rebellion among his followers.” Muslims live constantly under the threat of severe punishment. I have received thousands of emails from angry Muslims with the sole message that I will go to hell for criticizing Islam. They are not challenging my arguments; they are not disputing what my logic, but only threatening me with what frightens them most – the Hell. It is enough to read a few verses from the Qur’an 243 Newsweek, 1978, 1979 When Sane People Follow Insane People 185 to see where this fear comes from. Muslims are raised with such a dread of hell and punishment of disbelief that the thought of questioning the authority of Muhammad sends shivers down their spine. The fear is not limited to psychological intimidation. Physical punishment is also an integral part of Islamic upbringing. In Islamic madrassas, (religious schools) children are beaten as the norm for misdemeanors, and in some cases are chained. The beating is not limited to children, even adults are corporally punished, flogged publicly, humiliated, maimed, or stoned to death for breaching Islamic laws. There are many laws that ban any form of independence or rebellion. Critics, freethinkers, reformers and apostates must be killed. Even asking questions is not permitted! This is the only way to maintain the illusion of Islam, with its compulsory blind faith, which can only be enforced through ignorance and fear. Osherow says: “But the power of an authority need not be so explicitly threatening in order to induce compliance with its demands, as demonstrated by social psychological research. In Milgram’s experiments,244 a surprisingly high proportion of subjects obeyed the instructions of an experimenter to administer what they thought were very strong electric shocks to another person.” Elimination of Dissention According to Osherow, this absolute obedience will be noticeably reduced if there is a small minority of dissenters. “Research showed,” he writes, “that the presence of a ‘disobedient’ partner greatly reduced the extent to which most subjects in the Milgram situation245 obeyed the instructions to shock the person designated the ‘learner.’ Similarly, by including just one confederate who expressed an opinion different from the majority’s, Asch246 showed that the subject would also agree far less, even when the ‘other dissenters’ judgment was also incorrect and differed from the subjects.” Both Muhammad and Jim Jones could not tolerate dissent. They demanded exclusive and absolute allegiance and made the thought of questioning and criticizing them an unthinkable option. Muhammad forgave 244 Milgram, S. Behavioural study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1963, 67, 371-378. 245 Milgram S. Liberating effects of group pressure. Journal of personality and Social Psychology, 1965, 1, 127-134. 246 Asch, S. Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 1955, 193. 186 Understanding Muhammad those who fought against him if they accepted Islam and his hegemony, as he did with his cousin, Abu Sofian and even put him in charge of Mecca after conquering it, but he did not forgive those who dissented and deserted him. Many people were murdered on his orders, for the simple reason that they had disagreed with him or mocked him. That is why he was so afraid of dissent and why his followers do not tolerate it to this day. That is also why I am so confident that once the voices of the Muslim apostates are heard, many other Muslims will take courage and the criticism of Islam will become unstoppable. Jeanne Mills, who spent six years as a high-ranking member before becoming one of the few who left the People’s Temple, wrote: “There was an unwritten but perfectly understood law in the church that was very important: No one is to criticize Father, wife, or his children.”247 Isn’t this true about Muhammad, his family and his companions? Dr. Yunis Sheikh, a college professor in Pakistan commented that the parents of Muhammad were not Muslims. This sounds logical because they died when Muhammad was only a child and we have hadith that say Muhammad thought they would go to hell. Yet, his comment angered his students, who thought he had insulted the parents of their prophet and complained to the clerics who took Dr. Sheikh to a court, accused him of blasphemy and condemned him to death. He was released after a few years when many from around the world protested. In September 2006, Mohammed Taha Mohammed Ahmed, the editor-inchief of the Sudanese independent daily, Al-Wifaq, was kidnapped by a group of Muslim zealots who put him on a mock trial before slitting his throat in a style used to slaughter camels, then decapitated him. He was accused of blasphemy after his paper republished an article from the internet that questioned the parentage of Muhammad. All what poor Muhammad Taha had done was to take small excerpts from the book and write his own rebuttal. 248 If you live in an Islamic country, you could be put to death for criticizing Islam, Muhammad or his companions. If you live in a non-Muslim country, you could be assassinated even if you are not a Muslim. Dutch filmmaker, Theo Van Gogh, learned that lesson too late when he rolled in his own blood after he was shot and stabbed by a Muslim for assisting the Muslim dissident Ayan Hisi Ali in making a movie on women in Islam. On July 1991 Ettore Caprioli, the Italian translator of The Satanic Verses, was grievously injured, and Hitoshi Igarishi – professor of literature and an 247 Mills, J. Six years with God. New York: A & W Publishers, 1979. 248 http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2034654,00.html When Sane People Follow Insane People 187 admirer of Islamic civilization, who had translated the book into Japanese – was assassinated in Tokyo. William Nygaard, the Norwegian translator, was later knifed. The idea is to instill so much terror that no one dares to speak against Islam. Deborah Blakey, another long-time member of the cult of People’s Temple who managed to defect, testified: “Any disagreement with Jim Jones’s dictates came to be regarded as ‘treason.’... Although I felt terrible about what was happening, I was afraid to say anything because I knew that anyone with a differing opinion gained the wrath of Jones and other members.”249 Inconsistencies Many early Muslims, just as some members of the People’s Temple, realized that the stated aim of their belief and the practices of their respective leaders were inconsistent. Jim Jones slept with many women in his congregation and he was not coy about it. Muhammad also did a lot of things that must have raised eyebrows, even among the Arabs with such a lax morality. In one hadith Aisha narrates: “I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allâh’s Apostle and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allâh revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside," (Q.33:51) I said (to the Prophet), ‘I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.’”250 Obviously Aisha was not only a pretty girl but also a witty one. Indeed we see on many occasions Muhammad’s god coming to his help and licensing him to do whatever he pleases. Muhammad broke several social norms such as marrying Zainab, his own daughter-in-law, and having sex with Mariyah, one of his wives’ maids in her absence. He was 51 years old when he married the 6 year old Aisha and slept with her when she was only eight years nine months old and still playing with dolls. He claimed to have had his best ‘revelations’ while under the blanket with this little girl. In the height of his power, he saw another toddler girl and told her parents that when she grows up, he would like to marry her. Fortunately for the 249 Blakey, D. Affidavit: San Francisco. June 15, 1978. 250 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311 188 Understanding Muhammad toddler, he died shortly after that. He took teenager girls as his personal reward from Allâh during his raids and after ravaging their tribes and killing their families, he added them to his harem as his sex slaves. Of course, many early believers must have wondered why, if Muhammad was a messenger of God, his actions were so ungodly. We cannot assume that all those Arabs were completely bereft of any conscience and did not know what Muhammad was doing was wrong. However, if they had any doubts, they were unable to express them. The believers feared ostracism and punishment. Those who disagreed were quickly silenced. On one occasion, the Meccan companions of Muhammad, the immigrants, got into fight with the Medinan men while they were out of town raiding. Abdullah ibn Ubayy, the man who had saved the Banu Nadir from being massacred by Muhammad, was enraged. He said, “Have they [the immigrants] actually done this? They dispute our priority, they outnumber us in our own country, and nothing so fits us and the vagabonds of Quraish as the ancient saying ‘Feed a dog and it will devour you.’ By Allâh, when we return to Medina, the stronger will drive out the weaker.” Then he went to his people who were there and said, “This is what you have done to yourselves. You have let them occupy your country, and you have divided your property among them. Had you but kept your property from them they would have gone elsewhere.” When this news reached Muhammad he decided to kill Ibn Ubayy. Upon hearing this, Ibn Ubayy’s son who had converted to Islam came to Muhammad and told him, “I have heard that you want to kill ‘Abdullah b. Ubayy for what you have heard about him. If you must do it, then order me to do it and I will bring you his head, for al-Khazraj know that they have no man more dutiful to his father than I. I am afraid that if you order someone else to kill him, my soul will not permit me to see his slayer walking among men and I shall kill him, thus killing a believer for an unbeliever, and so I should go to hell.”251 Abdullah ibn Ubayy was a great man among his own people, and the Medinans respected their old chief. This was now a tough situation. Ordering a son to murder his own father, a father like ibn Ubbay, could have unpleasant consequences. What if the son was testing the veracity of the rumor to turn against Muhammad and rise in defense of his father? Muhammad wisely decided to let go of his macabre design. Ibn Ubayy’s son’s gesture, however, is praised by Muslim historians and commentators and is regarded as an example of true faith. This was the level of control Muhammad exerted on his followers. 251 Ibn Ishaq. Sira When Sane People Follow Insane People 189 He made people to spy on each other and created an atmosphere of fear in which every dissent was nipped in the bud. One interesting note is that after Abdullah ibn Ubayy died, his son begged Muhammad to say his father’s funeral prayer. Because of ibn Ubayy’s stature, Muhammad felt it is expedient to oblige. As he got up to pray for the deceased, Omar, who remembered Muhammad’s reluctance in praying at the grave of his own mother caught hold of his garment and said: “Allâh's Messenger, are you going to conduct prayer for this man, whereas Allâh has forbidden you to offer prayer for unbelievers?” He replied: “Allâh has given me an option as He has said: Ask pardon for them, or ask not pardon for them; if you ask pardon for them seventy times, God will not pardon them. (Q.9:80) and I am going to make an addition to the seventy.” It is ironical that Muhammad should call ibn Ubayy a “hypocrite” when that title best suits his own self. Muhammad, like Jim Jones, created such an atmosphere of terror that those who doubted him were unable to express their thoughts. He forbade asking thorny questions and became very angry when heckled. The following hadith is one example of the anger that Muhammad expressed at those who dared to question his virtues. This happened when he was distributing all the booty confiscated during the war of Hunain among the chiefs of Mecca to “soften their hearts” and “sweeten Islam in their mouths”, as he told his followers, leaving nothing to others who also had helped him in this battle. A man said: “O Allâh's Apostle! Do Justice.” The Prophet said, “Woe to you! Who could do justice if I did not? I would be a desperate loser if I did not do justice.” 'Omar said, “O Allâh's Apostle! Allow me to chop his head off.”252 This man was from Banu Tamim. His tribe had not become Muslim. They had joined Muhammad in this expedition for the loot alone. Now that Muhammad was victorious, he did not have to answer to anyone or keep his promises. This man was not familiar with Muhammad and his character. This experience must have been sobering for him and all those who were present. The lesson learned was that one is not allowed to question Muhammad’s decisions even though they are unjust. Anyone who questioned him met his wrath and could face death. Only sycophantism met his approval. It is natural that in such an oppressive climate truth is always the casualty. Is there a lesson in this for the leftists who have joined the Muslims in their onslaught against the Judeo- Christian values? It certainly is, but are they heeding? 252 Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 56, Number 807 000000000