Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Bruce Lawrence in the news

The Globe and Mail ran a story yesterday by Sheema Khan, entitled To defeat Bin Laden, first you have to understand him, which discusses our department's Bruce Lawrence. You have to subscribe for the full article, but here is an excerpt courtesy of Duke in the News:
The threat from al-Qaeda and its offshoots remains high, according to recent U.S. intelligence reports. It is clear that Osama bin Laden's message continues to attract adherents. In order to understand the power of his ideas, one should study the words of the man himself. Bruce Lawrence, a Duke University Islamicist, has done just that in Messages to the World, a compilation of bin Laden's statements from 1988-2004. The recurring theme in bin Laden's arguments is reciprocity . . .

. . . . In Messages, bin Laden acknowledges that the Prophet Mohammed forbade the killing of innocent civilians in combat. Yet, to support his call for violence in the West, he bypasses the Prophet's words in favour of the rulings of a medieval scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, who sanctioned the killing of non-combatants. Bin Laden stresses reciprocity and perpetual warfare, whereas the Prophetic template stressed patience, strict limits on war, and amnesty.

So, in the battle of ideas, Muslim scholars must counter bin Laden's arguments with authoritative Prophetic examples.

In the democratic arena, there needs to be a push toward civic engagement by Muslim youth. This means that Islamic centres must stop importing preachers who encourage isolation and who forbid or discourage voting . . . .
Prof. Lawrence is also to appear on a forthcoming CNN special called God's Warriors. The episode on God's Muslim Warriors goes out on 22 August at 9pm ET/PT.

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