Many in the media are indignant with Reverend Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Invited on "Morning Joe" last Tuesday to discuss Christian persecution, the hosts turned the focus to interrogating Graham on whether he thought President Barack Obama was Christian or not. Though the Reverend concluded that Obama "has said he's a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is," he appeared skeptical, suggesting Obama's policies disagree with Christian principles, and thus earning the full ire of much of the fourth estate.
Intrinsically trivial on many levels, this incident nevertheless brings several important points to the fore.
First, Graham was absolutely right to say that, "under Islamic law, the Muslim world sees Barack Obama as a Muslim, as a son of Islam": according to Sharia, if one's father is Muslim, one automatically becomes Muslim. In fact, the reason behind last week's church attack in Egypt, when thousands of Muslims tried to torch a church and kill its pastor, is that a Christian girl fled her father after he converted to Islam: she did not want to be Muslim, and was rumored to be hiding in the church. (This would not be the first time in recent months that churches were attacked on similar rumors.)
Because of this automatic passage of Islam from father to son—with the death penalty for those seeking to apostatize, the condemned Iranian pastor being just the most visible example—and because Obama attended a madrassa (a Muslim religious school) during his youth in Indonesia, many Muslims are convinced that Obama is a "secret" Muslim. In a Forbes article, "My Muslim President Obama: Why members of the faith see him as one of the flock," writer Asma Gull Hasan elaborates:
[S]ince Election Day, I have been part of more and more conversations with Muslims in which it was either offhandedly agreed that Obama is Muslim or enthusiastically blurted out. In commenting on our new president, "I have to support my fellow Muslim brother," would slip out of my mouth before I had a chance to think twice. "Well, I know he's not really Muslim," I would quickly add. But if the person I was talking to was Muslim, they would say, "yes he is." …. Most of the Muslims I know (me included) can't seem to accept that Obama is not Muslim. Of the few Muslims I polled who said that Obama is not Muslim, even they conceded that he had ties to Islam…. The rationalistic, Western side of me knows that Obama has denied being Muslim, that his father was non-practicing, that he doesn't attend a mosque. Many Muslims simply say back, "my father's not a strict Muslim either, and I haven't been to a mosque in years." Obama even told The New York Times he could recite the adhan, the Islamic call to prayer, which the vast majority of Muslims, I would guess, do not know well enough to recite. [Read the entire article, which is more eye-opening than the author probably intended.]
Another reason why many Muslims believe Obama is Muslim (a reason Ms. Hasan's article understandably omits) is that, under the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya, Muslims are permitted—in certain contexts even encouraged—to deny being Muslim, if so doing secures them or Islam an advantage. Accordingly, Islamic history is full of stories of Muslims denying and publicly cursing Islam, even pretending to be Christian, whenever it was strategic.
In other words, if an American president was a secret Muslim, and if he was lying about it, and even if he was secretly working to subvert the U.S. to Islam's advantage —not only would that be justified by Islamic doctrines of loyalty and deception, but it would have ample precedents, stretching back to the dawn of Islam. Such as when Muhammad commanded a convert from an adversarial tribe to conceal his new Muslim identity and go back to his tribe—which he cajoled with a perfidious "You are my stock and my family, the dearest of men to me"—only to betray them to Islam's invading armies.
Graham further upset "progressive" sensitivities by saying "All I know is under Obama, President Obama, the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries," adding that "Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama."
Yet who can deny this? Whether by expunging any reference to Islam in U.S. security documents, or enabling Muslim persecution of Christians, or ordering NASA to make Muslims "feel good" about themselves, or bowing to the anti-Christian Saudi king—the President has made his partiality for Islam very clear: Islam is undoubtedly getting a "free pass" under Obama.
What Franklin Graham's critics fail to understand is that, when it comes to Obama's religious identity, the Reverend probably has Jesus' dictum in mind: "By their fruits shall ye know them"—that is, pro-Islamic actions speak louder than Christian words.
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.