Column in National Post (Canada): ‘The Muslim prayer that might save your life’

August 30, 2014

Here’s an excerpt (emphasis added):

[T]he shahadah, a testimony to the identity of Allah as the one true God, and Muhammad as his prophet … saved a number of lives during the 2013 al-Qaeda-linked attack at Kenya’s Westgate Mall. To weed the Muslims out from the infidels, terrorists asked people to recite the shahadah to prove their faith. They asked other things too, like certain key passages of the Koran, the name of Mohammad’s mother, that sort of thing — it was al-Qaeda Question Hour. The wrong answer meant death.

After that, many, myself included, wondered: Should we — Muslim or not — learn the basics of Islam and have a read through the Koran? If one of us ever finds herself in a situation similar to that of Westgate Mall victims, could even a rudimentary knowledge of Islam save us?

That’s apparently news you can use, for our modern world.

I should say that I don’t fault people for wanting to save their lives, even if that means buttering up their would-be murderers with a fake claim of religion. But it surprised me that this would actually be discussed as possible advice in a major national newspaper.

(Note that much of the rest of the column is about learning about Islam in order to debate with non-terrorist Muslims, a separate matter on which I’m not expressing an opinion here. Note also that, as best I can tell, the author of the column has quite harshly condemned Muslim extremists in the past. See, e.g., here and here.)

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
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