Of course, Islamic spokesmen don’t have to take the trouble to deny uncomfortable elements of Islam before non-Muslim audiences when non-Muslim professorial “experts” are so willing to do it for them. “Islam and Peace,” from the SunStar, with thanks to the Informed Christian:
But does Islam really espouse terror and oppression of women, among other evils?
Foremost American academicians on Islamic studies in the country that recent history has forced its people to fear Muslims strongly say no.
But, the problem about how Islam is generally perceived by the uncomprehending is something brought about by a complicated mix of history, culture, and norms all brought forward as Islam.
“If you travel in the Islamic world, to any of the Arab world or even Saudi Arabia or the Gulf, you know it will be different if you’ve been to Jakarta, Indonesia, basically because in religion is an enormously rich culture because of the influence that came before Islam,” Peter Awn, professor of Islamic religion and comparative religion and Dean of General Studies in the Columbia University in New York City, said in an interview last month in his university. Dr. Awn is among the most popular resource person on Islam in New York City having received his PhD in Islamic religion and comparative religion from Harvard University.
“So it is important not to reduce any one religion to a series of intellectual abstraction or worse to think that if you meet one Muslim, you know them all,” Dr. Awn said. “What makes the community so rich is not simply a shared religious vision and a celebration of an extraordinary culture that goes back thousands of years but also the real diversity and the model uniqueness that you find in the very cultural religion where you find Islam.”
Going into the specifics, Akbar Ahmed Ibn Khaldan, author of several books on Islam and chair of Islamic Studies in the American University in Washington DC, pointed out that women in fact play a very important role in Islam before.
“Who is the first convert to Islam? It is Hadidja. The first person who became a Muslim is not a man, it is Hadidja. The descent of the prophet, which is the most important lineage in Islam, comes from Fatima, who didn’t have a son,” he said. He went on to name several other women who were in the forefront when Islam was still in its early years.
That women Muslims are being disregarded and in some countries enslaved by men today is but the making of the men themselves and not the teachings of the prophet Mohammed, he said.
In the last 200 to 300 years, however, as countries were colonized, societies changed and politics continued to churn turbulently, “Muslim men have forgotten how important the role of women is in Islam,” he said.
At the bottom of all these, he said, is not Islam but tribal customs.
Is that so? So I suppose these elements of the Qur’an are the making of men and not of the prophet Muhammad? These are all tribal customs?
1. The Qur’an likens a woman to a field (tilth), to be used by a man as he wills: “Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will” (2:223);
2. It declares that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man: “Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her” (2:282);
3. It allows men to marry up to four wives, and have sex with slave girls also: “If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice” (4:3);
4. It rules that a son’s inheritance should be twice the size of that of a daughter: “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females” (4:11);
5. It tells husbands to beat their disobedient wives: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them” (4:34).
Both Ahmed and Awn pointed out that the Qur’an is so complex such that no one can ever claim he has mastered it.
This is a common dodge. But “beat her” is not really all that complex or hard to understand. This is just an argument designed to snare the unwary and bamboozle them into thinking that there is some secret decoder ring that will turn “beat her” into “give her a hug.”
“You see contained in the verses, ‘fight the Jews and the Christians’,” Ahmed said. “Many Christians will pick that up and say you see, Islam is a religion of extremism. They will not see the next line that says, but make peace with them because God prefers peace.”
Well, of course, Ahmed. Islam doesn’t teach warfare without end or undifferentiated mayhem. It teaches warfare until victory. Then after that one makes peace with the Christians as conquered people, who do not by any stretch of the imagination enjoy the same rights as Muslims do under Islamic law.
Which brings the discussion to extremism and one of its major causes: marginalization.
“The issue for me is when you marginalize a minority community, one way in which that community expresses its resentment and rebellion is to return to arch conservative religion as a mobilizing ideology,” Dr. Awn said.
And that in itself is a tacit admission that the Islamic religion actually does teach these things — that they are there to “return to” when Muslims choose to do so, whether because of “marginalization” or whatever else.
“I don’t think people are anymore pious than they were 50 years ago, that’s a lot of baloney. What I do think is people have discovered religious ideology is an enormously effective political tool to mobilize people to do immensely crazy turns and that’s very dangerous,” he said.
Dr. Awn, multiculturalist though he undoubtedly is, has not succeeded in extricating himself from the deeply ingrained assumptions of Western culture — as evidenced by his opposition of “political” to “religious.” In Islam, as he should know, there is no distinction between the political and religious. To see one is to impose Western categories, the way the “Orientalists” are alleged to do, upon the Islamic world.
But since Islam has from its inception been inherently political, his distinction here is essentially meaningless. Why do these ideologues want to “mobilize people to do immensely crazy turns” in the first place? Why, because they consider it an imperative of their religion. Osama and Co. want to impose Sharia because they believe it is the law of God. Until the non-Muslim world comes to grips with the implications of that, it won’t be framing the conflict properly, and will be more vulnerable than it needs to be.
In essence, these men are pointing out what has been repeatedly pointed out by peace advocates and development planners in the Philippines: The conflict is not caused by religion, but by poverty and all its allied effects.
Why then are jihad terrorists more educated and affluent than others?
Economic marginalization complicated by cultural marginalization — manifested by veiled intolerance of the Muslims — spells unending troubles and a persistent call to separate from which that oppresses them, a situation that remains in Mindanao.
Ah. “Veiled intolerance of Muslims” causes jihad. In other words, non-Muslims cause jihad. How do they do this? Is this not tantamount to saying that jihad arises when Muslims perceive obstacles in the way of the spread of Islam — a traditional impetus to offensive jihad?