I have often been harshly criticized for supposedly harming the prospects of Muslim moderates by pointing out weaknesses in their presentations. Evidently we’re supposed to take all protestations of moderation and reform at face value, despite incidents of transparent deception (e.g, Fawaz Damra) and statements that are flatly contradicted by numerous Islamic texts. Yet it seems to me that if I notice the contradictions, Muslims who study the same texts will notice them also, and will thus find the moderate presentation wanting. And if moderate Muslims cannot convince their fellow Muslims of the truth of their peaceful version of Islam, their efforts are pointless.
Here is a small example. In this article, “How does Islam elevate the status of women?” from the “Questions & Answers About Islam” section of Ozkorallah.net (thanks to Kamala), the writer assures us that “according to the Qur’an, men and women are equal before God.” And:
Does Islam give Women equal rights?
Yes, definitely. Islam teaches equality between women and men. However, in some Muslim countries and societies a patriarchal culture dominates, and women are denied of their God-given rights.
Nowhere does the Qur’an state that one gender is superior to another. God makes it clear that the only criterion for superiority is piety and righteousness”¦virtues only He can judge.
But in the Qur’an in fact it does say this: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other” (4:34). That’s Pickthall’s translation, and it is a bit less sanitized than most. But Dawood’s is clearer and more faithful to the Arabic: “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other.” But in asserting that “nowhere does the Qur’an state that one gender is superior to another,” this writer doesn’t mention this verse.
Later on he says this:
How does Islam protect Women from violence?
Islam means “Peace” – achieved when a person focuses on God, giving her entire mind, heart and soul to none other than the Creator. This liberates her from human subjection; replacing fear with self-respect; weakness with strength, and conflict with tranquility. God says in the Qur’an: –¦do not fear human beings, but be in awe of Me.” (Qur’an 5:44)
Islam strongly prohibits oppression or cruelty to any individual, group or living thing in the universe. God enjoins good conduct toward women from birth to death. Verbal, psychological, emotional, sexual, and physical violence are forbidden, as are false allegations against women’s chastity and honor. Men are further reminded: “Do not annoy women as to make their lives miserable.” (Qur’an 65:6).
Prophet Muhammad said: “Only an honorable man treat women with honor and integrity. And only a mean, deceitful and dishonest man humiliates and insults women.” Referring to physical abuse, he added: “Never hit your wives, they are your partners and sincere helpers.” He exemplified this by never, ever, hitting a women or child. The Prophet guaranteed protection of the life, honor, and property of women.
Once again the writer doesn’t mention Qur’an 4:34, which says: “Good women are obedient…As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, forsake them in beds apart, and beat them.” This, of course, directly contradicts the hadith quoted above in which Muhammad says: “Never hit your wives, they are your partners and sincere helpers.” It is axiomatic in Islamic theology that a hadith is worthless if it contradicts the Qur’an — yet nowhere does this writer attempt to explain why the hadith should be taken over this Qur’an verse. What’s more, this hadith doesn’t appear in Bukhari or Muslim, the two collections considered most reliable by Muslims.
Consequently it is hard for me to see this as an example of reform or moderation. And there are many, many similar presentations by self-proclaimed moderate Muslims that are just as obviously inadequate — yet when I point out those inadequacies, I’m labeled “Islamophobic,” as if millions of Muslims would have been convinced by these shoddy presentations if only I hadn’t used my mad Zionist skillz to discredit them. But again: if I can see the inadequacies, so can Muslim hardliners. And so the jihad will continue.