The Western Art of Offending Muslims: the Sexual Weapon
The Western art of offending Muslims is a long established art. Western Christians have excelled in it and modern Zionists (Jewish, Christian, and atheist) have merely incorporated the clichés of Western Christian hatred of Islam and Muslims. Of course, fanatical Muslim groups have deliberately exploited the release of The Innocence of Muslims in order to whip up hate and hostility and to advance their own horrific, fanatical agenda. But their ability to resonate has to do with history.
The sexual content of the movie tells the story. For centuries, Western Christians offended Muslims with their sexual obsession with the life of Mohammad. From the earliest encounter of Christians with Islam, the life of Mohammad was considered the primary object of theological wrath.
For Christians, Mohammad did not represent the ascetic ideal that is embodied in the Christian moral system. Furthermore, he did not perform the miracles that he was expected to perform as a legitimate prophet – in the eyes of Christians. But Mohammad’s sexual life was always on the mind of Christian critics.
Those who formed the Christian church and constructed the Christian value system, promoted an ascetic ideal for the believers. Thus, there are no references to the earthly pleasure preferences and concerns for Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus, as a Jewish man in his 30s, must have been married, and yet the accounts of Jesus life contain no references whatsoever to a wife. There is nothing in the official church accounts about any pleasures of the earth that Jesus enjoyed. That would have conflicted with Christian morality where happiness is to be sought in the “City of God” and not in the “city of man.”
An ideal Christian man would have lived his life like St. Augustine, who in order to resist the temptations of the flesh would not allow women to be in his vicinity and would not even chew his food to avoid experiencing pleasure. St. Augustine admitted in his “Confessions” that he used to plead for God to save him in earlier years but would add: “but not yet.”
Islam – to the chagrin of early Christian critics – did not share that ascetic morality with Christianity. A man who came to the Prophet to inform him that he would not get married and would devote his life to God, was met with a surprised reaction from the Prophet. We know what food the prophet enjoyed and we know that the Prophet enjoyed sex with his wives. That did not offend early Muslims who often bragged about the sexual prowess of the Prophet and his companions.
For early Muslims, this was not a weakness and it was not shameful. Muslims were aware that their religion did not abhor the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Muslims only became defensive about such matters when they incorporated some of the Christian moral sensibilities of shame and politeness and even streaks of asceticism into their religious practice.
Yet, Christian polemics against Islam always resorted to sexual insults and taunting. The story of Zaynab Bint al-Jahash was a favorite story for Orientalists and for Christian polemicists (and the two often were one). For them, the idea that Mohammad was attracted to a woman was scandalous in itself, and that she was married to his adopted son, Zayd, only made the scandal more salacious to Westerners.
Contemporary Muslims became so aware of the Western Christian legacy of polemics that the story of Zaynab is now often ignored in Arab Muslim accounts. Unsurprisingly, the story of Zaynab made it into the film.
Fittingly, the producer of the film selected a pornographer to direct his film. He knew that sexual insults of the Prophet had to be included in the project for extra effect. He, growing up in Egypt, knew that contemporary Muslims are very sensitive on this subject. But this is not unique to Christian insults of Muslims and Islam. Western anti-Semites often used sexual insults against Jews and Judaism – and this is not the only similarity in the style of hate between anti-Semites and anti-Muslims. Yet, some Zionist Jews are in the forefront of the proponents of the Western ideology of hostility against Islam and Muslims.
Western views of Muslims have often focused on the sexual. The native Arab or native Muslim is seen as a sexual predator who is intent on adding yet another wife to his harem. The film that is being discussed and protested against did not appear in a vacuum. There is a long history of Western Christian hostility behind it.
- The NYT’s unsubtle war on fairness in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict | Nov 24 2014
- Justifications for Israel’s founding: transformation of Richard Cohen | Nov 17 2014
- Jeffrey Feltman’s children: The jihadis of Lebanon | Nov 10 2014
- Some determinants of Iranian foreign policy in the Arab East | Nov 03 2014