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, Graham was asked whether he thought President Barack Obama was Christian or not. Although Graham concluded that Obama "has said he is a Christian, so I just have to assume that he is," he appeared skeptical, suggesting Obama's policies disagreed with Christian principles, thus earning the full ire of much of the fourth estate.
Graham, however, 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 law [Islamic religious law, which regulates all parts of a Muslim's life], if one's father is Muslim, one automatically becomes Muslim. 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 from her father after he converted to Islam: she did not want to be Muslim, and was rumored to be hiding in the church. This is not the first time in recent months that churches have been attacked on similar rumors.
In short, Sharia law's position is that anyone born to a Muslim father is a Muslim—with the death penalty should they seek to apostatize: the 34-year-old Iranian pastor sentenced to death simply for converting to Christianity is just the most visible example.
Because of this automatic passage of religion from father to son, and because Obama attended a madrassa (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 many Muslims believe Obama is a Muslim (and a reason Ms. Hasan's article understandably omits) is that, under the Islamic doctrine of taqiyya [dissimulation], Muslims are permitted—in certain contexts, and 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, and even pretending to be Christian, whenever there was a strategic advantage.
In other words, if an American president were a secret Muslim, and if he were lying about it, and even if he were secretly working to subvert the U.S. to Islam's advantage —not only would taqiyya, or dissimulation, be justified by Islam's doctrines of loyalty and deception, but it would have ample precedents, stretching back to the dawn of Islam. Muhammad, for example, commanded a convert from an adversarial tribe to conceal his new Muslim identity and go back to his tribe—which he cajoled with "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 certain 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: under Obama, Islam is undoubtedly getting a "free pass."
What Graham's critics seem not to understand is when it comes to Obama's religious identity, Graham probably has in mind Jesus' dictum: "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.