April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech Murderer a Muslim?

Was Virginia Tech mass-murderer Seung Hui Cho a Muslim? Steve from Islam Threat e-mailed me about the connection so I did a quick Google News search. He apparently had "Ismail Ax" written in red ink on the inside of one of his arms.

Seems like a stretch, but as Steve notes "Ismail" is the Arabic form of Ishmael, Abraham's son who is believed by Muslims (and Jews and Christians) to be the patriarch of the Arab race.

My gut feeling is that the "Ismail Ax" reference is not ample evidence that Cho Seung-Hui was a Muslim. I get almost no hits for that phrase as a Google search, and if it were some kind of new found identity as a Muslim, wouldn't it be "Ismail X" or "Ismail's axe" or something?

UPDATE: The James Fenimore Cooper theory (scroll down)? Uh, even more farfetched and not even close to being 'compelling'. That would be Ishmael.

'Ismail' is definitely an Arabic reference. The question is what does it mean. It could have meaning only to the demented mind that wrote it.

UPDATE II: I must have a dozen e-mails telling me that "Ismail's ax" is a reference to either:

a) Ibrahim's (Abraham) near sacrifice of Ismail (Ishmael) in the Islamic tradition, where he may have used an "ax" (more commonly "knife")
b) Ibrahim's destruction of idols with an "ax" (more commonly "club")

Okay, granted. As I said, Ismail can only be interpretted as an Arabic reference to Ishmael. Unless I am missing something here, there is no other possibillity. But that still doesn't mean Cho was a Muslim or that he was motivated by jihad.

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 10:21 AM | Comments |