Saturday, December 08, 2007

Lyin' Ayaan and the Moderate Muslims

On the New York Times' Op-Ed page of Dec. 7, 2007 Ayaan Hirsi Ali asks "where are the moderate Muslims?" accusing us of silence in the face of various atrocities committed in the name of our religion. My answer to Ayaan:

(and yes, a short version of this was sent to their letters page!)


There are, in fact, many Muslim individuals (myself and many friends included) and organizations (CAIR, Muslims for Progressive Values, Al-Fatiha GLBT Muslims, etc....) who stand up against such travesties as Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes. We are not silent; we are ignored. The press loves to build up sensationalist stories, and neo-con hacks like Ayaan are promoted well-funded and highly organized "think-tanks."


While Ayaan is describing real crimes that do take place, these do not reflect attitudes or laws that are universal throughout Islam. Like many American "recovering Catholics" she has taken her own personal experiences from one terrible milieu and generalized that erroneously to the entire religion.


Her Qur'anic quote is taken out of context. Following the terrifying 24:2, ayah 24:4 sets a very high standard of evidence and a nearly equal punishment for those who bring accusations without four eye witnesses to the act of adultury. Then 24:5 offers clemency for all who repent and correct the situation. In Islam divorce and re-marriage are very easy. By these standards, someone really has to want a beating to get one!

In effect a much harsher pre-Islamic patriarchal society in 7th C. Arabia was being told that yes, adultery is terrible, but careless accusations are as bad, and there is plenty of room for mercy to absolve the adulterer.

God and Islam are merciful. Would that more Muslims paid more attention as they invoked "God who is all compassion and mercy."


Unfortunately, when we look at "Muslim" governments today we are looking at repressive feudal societies or military dictatorships propped up by petro-dollars or American aid (plus a very few radical regimes reacting against western exploitation) These repressive regimes invoke the Qur'an selectively with harsh punishments, but ignore the context and the mercy that fuller readings make obvious. Lacking any legitimacy they claim religious authority, but this is an old trick that "Christian" governments in the West pulled for centuries. These are not "Muslim" governments so much as they are neo-colonial dictatorships. Economics, militarism, and corruption are much more in evidence than any practice of Islam. But --uh-oh -- admitting that in the Western press would implicate the US, UK, and French governments (among other Western political and commercial powers) in propping up these self-described "Islamic" regimes.

As with most religions, the problem is not the religion itself, but self-styled leaders who abuse it to justify their own quest for power and wealth. As the Islamic world consists largely of once-colonized nations now under neo-colonial regimes, it is too easy to avoid issues of economic and social justice by blaming the religion.


A careful reading of the Qur'an and an understanding of Muslim culture and thinking through history shows that we have the capacity to solve these problems within our religion, our cultures, and history.

Denying the potential that Muslims have to heal our own problems serves to legitimize foreign intervention, but intervention and colonialism are the source of many problems in the Muslim world, they are certainly not solutions to anything.
There are moderates and progressives, faithful Muslims working within the Muslim community, using our faith as a key to the many problems that plague our community. People like Mike Ghouse, Pamela Taylor, El-Farouk Khaki, Omid Safi, Ani Zonnenveld, and Faisal Alam are speaking up, and addressing the same issues that we are taken to task for ignoring. But they are not ignoring the issues; they are ignored. Ayaan makes a dramatic and polarizing figure, very mediagenic to be sure, but a distraction from the answer to the question she asks: Where are the moderate muslims? We are everywhere. If reporters would look past neo-con press releases and go looking for the real story we are easily found.


Profile of Mike Ghouse said...


Well said, indeed, we are every where, and are ignored.

I was on Chris Plante show on Thursday night, a washington DC talk show host, it was a good dialogue and I will be writing about it. I said the same thing to him what you have summarized in a few precise words " we are every where, just look beyond the press releases of neo cons.

Ayan Hirsi Ali starts her article Silence of Moderates with an
authentic verse from Qur'aan.

"The woman and the man guilty of adultery or fornication, flog each
of them with 100 stripes: Let no compassion move you in their case,
in a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day." (Koran 24:2).

My first task was to check at least a few translations to ensure that the translation is representative and it is. In the upcoming article by the same title with a rebuttal, I have produced at least 13 translations including an extremist's version so we know, what we see is not necessarily the truth.

Ms. Ali, has deliberately excluded the compassion part that goes with

Ayan Hirsi Ali has a tough question to answer. Would she approve adultery, premarital sex with her own family members if she were head of her family? Would she ignore the rapists, would she approve the abortions? Should we let people do what they want that which affects the public health? Who is going to bear the consequences of such acts
that result in spread of STD's? Sex Crimes and the likes of it.
Wouldn't she consider those as irresponsible acts?

Some members of the Dutch society do not consider sex with friend's
wife or husband or a co-worker as a taboo, they look to it as a need
and some one needs to fulfill it. It is adultery in America (and
India or Saudi Arabia), hypocritically if it were the wife who has committed the adultery, she will be brutally murdered. The American Crime statistics (finalizing it). Moving to India, it is a taboo, and
the mother in law will strangle the woman regardless of whether she
is Hindu, Christian or a Muslim, and going all the way to the other
end – the Sudanese, the Saudis and the Iranians will mete out 100
lashes for fornications or stone them to death for adultery.

God gives laws and it is the man who has to follow it. God gives the
punishment for some one violating the laws, but God also gives
compassion. The one who is most dear to God is the one who forgives,says the Qur'aan.

Here is the kicker; Of the 57 some Muslim majority nations, Saudi,
Iran, Sudan and Afghanistan follow that command to lash the guilty,
but most others follow the compassion route. Those who do not want to follow the law in their lands, we welcome them to our shores, and we are a compassionate and forgiving people. Welcome to America, are they?

By the way those of you who know much about plagiarism, compare her
article below to the one I wrote 7 days prior:

The piece is about ready.

Mike Ghouse

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Most of the American Muslim establishment is comprised of Islamist groups claiming to be moderates. True moderate Muslims reject Islamic supremacy and Sharia; embrace religious equality and democracy.

Poll: Who is a moderate Muslim?

Phoenix said...

Well Put... I get so sick of reading, hearing, and seeing about the Radicals of Islam, that if I didnt know any better, I would also believe that they were the only type of Muslims... But in the same breath I hold Us (moderate Muslims) responsible as well.