Last week, the Pentagon released a videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Beliefnet asked internationally known Qur'anic scholar Farid Esack to read the transcript and interpret bin Laden's use of the Qur'an to justify his actions.

Parts of the transcript are below, with Esack's notes in the margins.

Shaykh: (Describing the trip to the meeting) They smuggled us and then I thought that we would be in different caves inside the mountains so I was surprised at the guest house and that it is very clean and comfortable. Thanks be to Allah, we also learned that this location is safe, by Allah's blessings. The place is clean and we are very comfortable.

OBL: (...Inaudible...) when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse. This is only one goal; those who want people to worship the lord of the people, without following that doctrine, will be following the doctrine of Muhammad, peace be upon him. (OBL quotes several short and incomplete Hadith verses, as follows):

"I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad."

"Some people may ask: why do you want to fight us?"

"There is an association between those who say: I believe in one god and Muhammad is his prophet, and thosewho don't (...inaudible...)

"Those who do not follow the true fiqh (law). The fiqh of Muhammad, the real fiqh. They are just accepting what is being said at face value."

Farid Esack's Interpretation:
Here lies the rub and your heresy. Bypassing centuries of tradition, you acknowledge your distance from Fiqh (Islamic Law) as it had been evolved through generations of Islamic scholarship. Claiming to be the only repository of 'the real fiqh,' you can now get into the mind of Muhammad and speak for him. Others who believe in permissibility and prohibitions through the lenses of Islamic law are dismissed as accepting things at face value while only you own the genuine article. The real fiqh? Sound more like fiction to me.

Those youth who conducted the operations did not accept any fiqh in the popular terms, but they accepted the fiqh that the prophet Muhammad brought. Those young men (...inaudible...) said in deeds, in New York and Washington, speeches that overshadowed all other speeches made everywhere else in the world. The speeches are understood by both Arabs and non-Arabs, even by Chinese. It is above all the media said.

Farid Esack's Interpretation:
"And the sound of the donkey is indeed a despicable one," says the Qur'an. So sounds, their loudness and impact, are not the most significant ones. What is conveyed by them? How are other people affected by them? So the sound of violence becomes worthy because they are louder than the voices of reason? So bullets are more powerful than tears? Swords more powerful than pens?

Perhaps in your world. Guess that you are undoubtedly appreciative of the loud sounds of bombs dropping on your hide-outs now.
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