Editor’s note: The following is Part Two of a three-part series examining the many parallels between Islam and the mafia following Bill Maher’s recent exclamation that Islam is “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will f***ing kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book.” Click here for Part One.
Death to Traitors (AKA “Apostates”)
Once a Mafioso takes the oath of loyalty to the mafia—including the Omertà code of silence and secrecy—trying to leave the “family” is instantaneously seen as a betrayal and therefore punishable by death. Any family member, great or small, is given authority to kill the traitor, the “turncoat.”
Compare this to Islam. To be born to a Muslim father immediately makes the newborn a Muslim—there are no oaths to be taken, much less an option in the matter. And, according to Islamic law, if born Muslims at any point in their lives choose to leave Islam, they are deemed “apostates”—traitors—and punished including by death. Any zealous Muslim, not just the authorities, is justified in killing the apostate (hence why Muslim families that kill apostate children are rarely if ever prosecuted).
In the words of Muhammad—the messenger (underboss) of Allah (godfather): “Whoever leaves his Islamic faith, kill him.”
The charge of “traitor” is especially applicable when the Muslim converts to another religion—most frequently Islam’s historic competitor, Christianity—as opposed to simply losing faith in their hearts. Put differently, the very recent plight of Meriam Ibrahim—a Sudanese Christian wife and mother who, while pregnant, was imprisoned and sentenced to death for “apostasy”—is the tip of the iceberg of the plight of apostates under Islam.
Loyalty and Enmity
Loyalty is an absolute prerequisite of the mafia. Following elaborate rituals of blood oaths, mafia members are expected to maintain absolute loyalty to the family, on pain of death.
Compare this with Islam’s “Loyalty and Enmity” doctrine, which calls on Muslims to be loyal to each other and their appointed emirs, even if they dislike them.
For example, Koran 9:71 declares that “The believing [Muslim] men and believing [Muslim] women are allies of one another” (see also 8:72-75). And according to Muhammad, “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him…. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth, and his honor”—precisely those three things of a Mafioso that are inviolable for his mafia “brother.” (This is why Muslims like U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan, whose “worst nightmare” was to be deployed to fight fellow Muslims, often lash out.)
Aside from loyalty to the family, mafia members are also expected not to befriend or associate with too many “outsiders”—who by nature are not to be trusted, as they are not of the “family”—unless such a “friendship” helps advance the family’s position.
Similarly, the second half of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity—the enmity—calls on Muslims to maintain distance from and have hate for all non-Muslim “infidels.”
Thus Koran 5:51 warns Muslims against “taking the Jews and Christians as friends and allies … whoever among you takes them for friends and allies, he is surely one of them.” According to the mainstream Islamic exegesis of al-Tabari, Koran 5:51 means that the Muslim who “allies with them [non-Muslims] and enables them against the believers, that same one is a member of their faith and community,” that is, an outsider and enemy.
Similar scriptures include Koran 4:89, 4:144, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22; the latter simply states that true Muslims do not befriend non-Muslims—“even if they be their fathers, sons, brothers, or kin.” Koran 60:1 declares, “O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy [non-believers] for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth [i.e., while they deny Islam]?”
As mentioned, close relations to non-mafia individuals that prove advantageous to the mafia (for example, collaboration with a “crooked cop”) are permissible—as long as the mafia keeps a safe distance, keeps the outsider at arm’s length.
Compare this to Koran 3:28 which commands “believers not to take infidels for friends and allies instead of believers… unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.” According to the standard Koran commentary of Tabari, “taking precautions” means:
If you [Muslims] are under their [non-Muslims’] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harboring inner animosity for them … [but know that] Allah has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels rather than other believers—except when infidels are above them [in authority]. Should that be the case, let them act friendly towards them while preserving their religion.
After interpreting Quran 3:28 as meaning that Muslims may “protect” themselves “through outward show” when under non-Muslim authority, Ibn Kathir, perhaps Islam’s most celebrated exegete, quotes Muhammad saying: “Truly, we smile to the faces of some people, while our hearts curse them.”
And just a few years ago, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan—a leading Salafi cleric in Egypt—asserted on live television that, while Muslims should never smile to the faces of non-Muslims, they should smile, however insincerely, if by so doing they help empower Islam, especially in the context of da‘wa.
The idea of hating “outsiders” is so ingrained in Islam that another leading Salafi cleric insists that, although Muslim men may marry Christian and Jewish women, they must hate them in their heart—and show them that they hate them in the hopes that they convert to the “family” of Islam.
(For more on the doctrine of “Loyalty and Enmity,” see al-Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman Zawahiri’s comprehensive treatise by that name in The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 63-115).
Stay tuned for the third and final part of this series