In a private e-mail to a student last week, Abdul-Basser wrote that there was “great wisdom (hikma) associated with the established and preserved position (capital punishment [for apostates]) and so, even if it makes some uncomfortable in the face of the hegemonic modern human rights discourse, one should not dismiss it out of hand.”
The e-mail was forwarded over Muslim student e-mail lists and later picked up by the blogosphere.
What particularly strikes me about Taha Abdul-Basser’s remark is not his endorsement of the traditional Islamic death sentence for people who convert out of Islam, but his combining that endorsement with criticism of “hegemonic” human rights discourse! His Harvard education certainly comes in handy. And he’s clever. “Hegemonic” is a term normally used by liberals and leftists to debunk whatever remains of traditional society. But he uses it against liberalism itself. Human rights? We don’t need your stinkin’ human rights!
VerBruggen and Auster fail to mention the relevance of the Harvard spiritual advisor’s theological opinions to the case of the world’s most prominent Muslim apostate, President Barack Hussein Obama, who was demonstrated during the campaign last fall to have been listed on school records in Indonesia and educated as a Muslim.
It is certainly hardly unlikely that it was specifically the case of President Obama, the son and grandson of Muslims, who was, for a period of time as a boy, raised as a Muslim by his Indonesian stepfather, and who later converted to Christianity joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ that provoked scrutiny of Islamic teachings about the forcible reconversion or killing of apostates.