I’d call it an October surprise, except that it’s all too predictable.
Right wing writer Jerome Corsi, author of the report “Where’s The REAL Birth Certificate?”, has just published an article asserting that Barack Obama has been wearing a golden ring that marks Obama as a follower of Islam, as the ring carries a portion of of the Shahadah, an Islamic profession of faith.
Corsi writes in this evening’s article, “according to Arabic-language and Islamic experts, the ring Obama has been wearing for more than 30 years is adorned with the first part of the Islamic declaration of faith, the Shahada: ‘There is no God except Allah.’”
The two “Arabic-language and Islamic experts” Corsi cites are by no means neutral. One, Mark A. Gabriel, is an anti-Islam activist, describing himself as “a Christian evangelist. He is also spreading the truth about Islam.” The other, Joel Gilbert, has been an active anti-Obama activist, involved with the Conservative Political Action Committee, having produced one film entitled “Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad’s Coming War for Islamic Revival and Obama’s Politics of Defeat”, and another entitled “Dreams From My Real Father”, which repeats the old, debunked assertion that Frank Marshall Davis is Barack Obama’s real father.
Corsi, Gabriel and Gilbert all have the appearance of people with an axe to grind against Barack Obama and against Islam. But, let’s not rely upon ad hominem attacks against their conspiracy theory that Barack Obama is wearing an Islamic ring as a code to indicate solidarity with other Muslims around the world. It’s possible for kooky people to occasionally stumble upon the truth, so let’s look at the facts.
Corsi, Gabriel and Gilbert claim that Barack Obama sometimes wears a golden ring, and that that golden ring has Arabic script on it that reads, when translated into English, “There is no god but Allah.” Let’s look at the evidence itself. Here’s a photograph of Barack Obama’s golden ring, along with some rings that are clearly identified as Shahadah rings worn by actual Muslims.
There isn’t much similarity between Barack Obama’s ring and the examples of Shahadah rings that I found. In fact, I couldn’t find a single example of a Shahadah ring that looks anything all like Barack Obama’s ring. (In case you’re wondering, Snopes hasn’t written on this particular conspiracy theory yet.)
Next, let’s look at the part of the Shahadah script that Jerome Corsi, Mark Gabriel and Joel Gilbert say can be seen in the photograph of Obama’s ring, along with other representations of the same piece of the Shahadah script, found elsewhere.
As you can see, there is a great deal of variability in representations of the Arabic script of the part of the the Shahadah that is translated as “there is no god but Allah”. The versions of this section of the Shahadah that I could find look little like the script that Corsi and his “experts” say they see on that ring.
But let’s take Corsi’s word for it that the script as he represents it is a coherent, common version of the Shahadah. The truth is, I still don’t see it on Obama’s ring. To me, Obama’s ring looks like it’s got some decorative swirls on it, and nothing more.
Finally, let’s suppose that Jerome Corsi is right, and the squiggles on a ring that Barack Obama sometimes wears do actually represent a part of the Shahadah. So what?
Let’s allow for the sake of argument the further supposition that Barack Obama actually knows that part of the Shahadah is on that ring. So what?
Let’s accept, just to be generous, the idea that wearing a ring with a very abstract representation of a portion of a Shahadah script proves that Barack Obama is himself a Muslim. Even if this is the case, the conclusion I arrive at remains: So what?
The Constitution of the United States clearly states that there is to be no religious test for any public office in the U.S.A. That settles the matter. Barack Obama’s religion is irrelevant.
If Barack Obama is a Christian, I don’t care. If Barack Obama is a Muslim, I don’t care. If Barack Obama believes that he is the reincarnation of the Tibetan Lama of Taxi Cab Enlightenment, I don’t care.
Barack Obama is campaigning for a job. There are rules for what criteria can be used for his selection, and religion is not among those criteria. The job of the President of the United States is not to be a priest. Being President has nothing to do with religion.
So, I say, for once and for all: Shahada, schmahada!