Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Second update on Professor "Yahya"

Unfortunately, it looks like I will never be able to acquire smoking gun evidence demonstrating that Professor Jean "Yahya" Michot (a Belgian Catholic expert on Islam and Arabic who many years ago converted to Islam) actually supports the fatwa (scholarly ruling) of Ibn Taymiyya (a prominent Islamic scholar from the 14th century) which he translated back in 1997 in the aftermath of the massacre of a group of Catholic monks in Algeria in 1996 -- the fatwa in question being the argument that it is justified to kill Christians (and/or Jews) in a Muslim land when those Christians or Jews are deemed to be causing "disorder in the land".

In the case of the monks of Tibhirine, Algeria, the "disorder in the land" they were causing consisted of doing things like helping the local Muslim villagers with food, occasional lodging, various favors, and medical treatment (one of the monks was a physician). After a while, they even graciously opened up a wing of their monastery for local Muslims to use as a substitute mosque for their daily prayers. Also, of course, the mere fact that these Catholic monks were kind, decent, generous Christians by itself constituted a threat to Islam -- for it might tempt some Muslims to consider the possibility that Christians are not, as their Koran and Sunna and five daily prayers incessantly remind them, their enemies for all time until the Day of Judgment.

The reason I say I may never be able to get the skinny on Yahya is that I recently had a most interesting communication (a long phone call lasting nearly an hour) with someone I will not name but who -- the reader will have to trust me on this -- knows the situation well (see my previous essay on this, Of scholars and massacres, to glean what that situation involves): the conversation was interesting and productive on many aspects of the situation and on Islam more generally; but, again, unfortunately, the conclusion was that apparently Professor Michot is too clever to ever come out and say he supports that massacre of monks. One would have to infer it. And such an inference is eminently reasonable, given the fact that such a fatwa is solidly ensconced in mainstream orthodox Islam and that Professor Michot is a mainstream orthodox Muslim (and a most learned one to boot). But, alas, it is an inference not sufficiently juicy to persuade the average PC MC, who needs a blunt hammer blow of massively frontal evidence to the forehead in order to get through his obtuse skull.

There is also the pregnant question to be answered: Why did Professor Michot go to the trouble of translating that Ibn Taymiyya fatwa in the immediate aftermath of the Tibhirine massacre? What was the point? An article I found online -- A Strange Professor at Leuven -- written in 1997, may provide a clue (if not an actual answer) at least to that question (for Prof. Michot was a faculty member at Leuven in Belgium at the time). Soon, I will get around to paying $30.00 to access it.

P.S.: I learned recently that "Yahya" is simply Arabic for "John" (or, in Prof. Michot's homeland, Belgium, "Jean").

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