Mr Friedman finds the "Islamic village derelict" in its duty to condemn violence committed by Muslims in the name of religion. Friedman is also baffled that "when Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden." Friedman goes on: "it is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village."

Mr. Friedman does not seem to know as much about Islam as he should. Islam does not have a "problem". Yet. Moreover, Friedman is completely outside of the relevant Islamic contexts on two important counts.

First, Islam does not want to see itself as a village. A village is a social unit made of a number of houses. In other words, the very idea of village reflects diversity. The fundamental concept of Islam is that one lives in ONE HOUSE, not a village. There is no accommodation, in Islam, for possible diversity among various households, all joining in a common village. If one lives in one single house, one does not have the freedom one would have, if one were living in a village. The one house that all Muslims inhabit is not just any house. It is the "Dar al Islam". In translation: the "HOUSE OF SUBMISSION". Someone schooled in the Western European tradition would rather expect the Marquis de Sade's house to be called thus, and so would naturally tend to reject the attending concept as silly.

Second, the basic INSTITUTION of Islam is the QURAN (or Koran), which is the word of the Islamic God, Allah. In the Quran, God strongly discriminates against various categories of people. But God does not stop there. God also explicitly recommends (or orders) to fight (or KILL) several categories of people. Here is a famous extract from the Quran:

"And so, when the sacred months are over, SLAY those who ascribe divinity to other beside God WHEREVER you may come upon them, and take them CAPTIVE, and BESIEGE them, and AMBUSH them at every conceivable place. Yet if they repent, and take to prayer, and pay the religious tax, let them go their way: for, behold, God is Much-Forgiving, a Dispenser of Grace ."(Quran, Surah "of the Sword" IX; v.5)

The hyper violence of this verse is no accident. The Quran is full of calls to the most extreme violence (a fundamentalist Muslim scholar counted at least 123). The Quran glorifies Muhammad's violence, either in battle, or when he slays people for their ideas. Therefore Mr. bin Laden's activities, which comprise slaying those who ascribe higher values to other than the Muslim God, are in apparent observance of God's injunctions, and the methods of his Messenger. It is therefore not surprising that so few Muslim clerics condemned Osama bin Laden (although a Spanish Muslim association did in 2004).

After the Quran, the most fundamental institution of Islam is the Hadith, a conglomerate of ideas, reasonings, acts, facts and sayings and observations of the Messenger of God, and his most proeminent companions, successors and/or followers. The Hadith complements, clarifies and interprets the Quran. Far from softening the Quran, it makes it harsher on its countless enemies.

For example, when Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) established his rule in Mecca, he had ten people executed, including some for having left Islam (apostasy). This act of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is part of the Hadith, and confirms the various verses in the Quran ( for example S. II, v. 17).where God condemns apostasy, and makes it "the companion of fire". This is why Islam has thereafter punished apostasy with death (and, as an indirect consequence, why no Muslim woman can marry a non Muslim man, since the children belong to the man).

Islam does not have a "problem". Yet.

It does not, because people such as Mr Friedman do not get it yet. After 9/11, Bush posed with the Quran on his table. Maybe he was reading Surah IX, v.5, to give himself strength? Let's imagine for a moment, in a parallel universe, Roosevelt, in 1942, looking favorably to "Mein Kampf" on his desk, evoking mysteriously a war to be fought against "terror"... That would have been confusing, at best... Says Friedman, speaking about the 7/7 mass murder in London: ..." what Osama bin Laden dreamed of with 9/11 [was] to create a great gulf between the Muslim world and the globalizing West. So this is a critical moment. We must do all we can to limit the civilizational fallout from this bombing."

Which civilizational fallout? We are not talking civilization here. We are talking God. And we are dealing not with a great gulf, but with a different universe. In the crucial Hadith of Muhammad [Volume 4, Book 52, Number 46], Abu Huraira narrates this: 'I heard Allah's Apostle [Muhammad] saying, "The example of a MUJAHID [fighter]. IN ALLAH'S CAUSE-- and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause----IS LIKE A PERSON WHO FASTS AND PRAYS CONTINUOUSLY. ALLAH GUARANTEES THAT HE WILL ADMIT THE MUJAHID IN HIS CAUSE INTO PARADISE IF HE IS KILLED, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."'

Those who fight for God cannot lose, says the Prophet: they will go to paradise if they are killed. Remember: this is the Hadith. From Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). The Hadith, the greatest institution in Islam after the Quran itself. From there grow all other institutions of Islam, including "Islamic law". Not surprisingly, young Muslims inspired by God, having heard and read this, feel encouraged to commit suicide bombings (although the Quran condemns suicide for suicide's sake, the passage above, among others, makes clear, in context, that jihad is the very highest value of Islam).

A Dutch Muslim, 27 years old, shot the Dutch writer and film maker Van Gogh at least six times, and then slit his throat. At his trial, he said he killed the writer for "insulting God". He never felt discriminated against. He "acted out of conviction and not out of hate. If I am ever released, I'd do the same again. Exactly the same" (Mohammed Bouyeri, July 12, 2005).

The body of knowledge in the Quran and the Hadith is not compatible with the United Nations Human Rights Charter, nor even with long established Roman law, one of the institution of the West which preceded Islam by more than a millennium. To accuse, as Mr. Friedman does, a fiction, the "Islamic village" to be derelict in its failure to condemn violence is very close to accusing God Himself to be derelict, in His dictation of the Quran. It is very close to insulting the Quran, or His Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him) which, let me remind you, is punishable by death. Being the word of God, the Quran is indeed most sacred. It is high time that the West understands this. Just turning the pages of the Quran after licking one's fingers is viewed, by some islamists, as an insult worthy of the death penalty.

Freedom of expression and mental experimentation are pillars of our civilization. It seems unlikely there is room for them in the "House of Submission".

Patrice Ayme'
Berkeley, USA, 14 July 2005.