Dartmouth’s unsinkable Harrison Sontag has kindly forwarded me a couple of fulminations about my Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week talk there a couple of weeks ago, and its aftermath.
1. In “Spencer takes the Qur’an out of context,” Sara Ludin “˜08 does a bit of creative quotation-mangling to make it look as if I said in a letter to the editor that all Muslims approve of wife-beating:
In his letter to the editor, Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, declared that “Muslim[s] approv[e] of wife-beating” (“Charge of hate speech is false,” Oct. 31).
In my letter did I actually say, flatly, that “Muslims approve of wife-beating,” as if every one of them is wailing away on the missus (or missuses) without a hint of disapproval from any other Muslim? Of course not, and you might get a hint of Ludin’s attempt at sleight of hand from all the brackets on the words within the quote. What I actually said was this: that almost all translations of Qur’an 4:34 render it as commanding the beating of a disobedient woman, a situation that “many Muslims today regard this verse with acute embarrassment.” I was writing this because one of those embarrassed ones, a Muslim student named Chloe Mulderig, had said that my assertion that the Qur’an sanctions wife-beating was “incorrect and offensive.” So the sentence Ludin misleadingly half-reproduces actually read this way: “But Mulderig would apparently prefer to pretend that I made this up rather than deal with Muslim approval of wife-beating.”
So, apparently, would Sara Ludin. Does that sentence mean that I think every Muslim approves of wife-beating? Obviously not, since I had just noted that many Muslims are embarrassed by this. But those who are embarrassed will make no headway to stop this practice if they prefer instead to smear those who call attention to the problem, rather than addressing the problem themselves. And Ludin places herself squarely in that camp:
He draws out a single Qur’anic verse that has been the subject of Islamic jurisprudential debate for centuries, pretending to capture its breadth in a 500-word editorial. Moreover, Spencer chooses not to place this passage in the context of the thrust of the entire Qur’anic message, verses that talk about marital harmony and the prophetic example. This sort of anti-intellectualism undermines Spencer’s assertions.
All Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the revealed word of God. By zeroing in on a Qur’anic verse, rather than the cruel actions or uniquely bigoted views of so-called “jihadists,” Spencer attacks all Muslims. Though he claims to differentiate between so-called “jihadists” and “peaceful Muslims,” he flagrantly and consistently conflates the two.
Ultimately his tactics otherize and demonize Muslims. Whatever his intentions, we as Muslim women resent that he depicts us as victims in order to bolster his cause.
Yeah, resent away. Meanwhile, the wife-beating continues, and what are you doing about it besides attacking me? For unfortunately for Muslim women like you, Ms. Ludin, I am by no means the only one who “chooses not to place this passage in the context of the thrust of the entire Qur’anic message, verses that talk about marital harmony and the prophetic example.” Many Muslim men choose not to do that either, and in fact I’m not interpreting the Qur’an at all, but merely reporting on these facts. The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has determined that over ninety percent of Pakistani wives have been struck, beaten, or abused sexually “” for offenses on the order of cooking an unsatisfactory meal. Others were punished for failing to give birth to a male child. Dominating their women by violence is a prerogative Muslim men cling to tenaciously. In Spring 2005, when the East African nation of Chad tried to institute a new family law that would outlaw wife beating, Muslim clerics led resistance to the measure as un-Islamic.
Why do things like this happen?
Because Islamic clerics worldwide have spoken approvingly of wife-beating.
In 2004, an imam in Spain, Mohammed Kamal Mustafa, was found guilty of “inciting violence on the basis of gender” for his book Women in Islam, which discussed the methods and limits of administering “physical punishment” of women.
Muslim men bring this religiously sanctioned violence with them when they immigrate to the West, even to the United States. The prominent American Muslim leader Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), has said that “in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife”¦The Koran is very clear on this issue.”
In 1984, Sheikh Yousef Qaradhawi, who is one of the most respected and influential Islamic clerics in the world, wrote: “If the husband senses that feelings of disobedience and rebelliousness are rising against him in his wife, he should try his best to rectify her attitude by kind words, gentle persuasion, and reasoning with her. If this is not helpful, he should sleep apart from her, trying to awaken her agreeable feminine nature so that serenity may be restored, and she may respond to him in a harmonious fashion. If this approach fails, it is permissible for him to beat her lightly with his hands, avoiding her face and other sensitive parts.”
I guess I told all of these men to say these things?
2. Meanwhile, in ““˜Islamo-Fashion” to promote Al-Nur” by Julie Kim, we learn about a counter to the wicked IFAW:
No need for the double-take: The posters read “Islamo-Fashion Awareness Week.” Al-Nur marked the beginning of its Islamo-Fashion Awareness Week with a movie on Monday. Events planned for the rest of the week include group discussions and a sundown prayer. The event takes place two weeks after the controversy surrounding headline speaker Robert Spencer, who concluded “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” on Monday, Oct. 29th.
Ediz Tiyansan “˜09, student director for the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at the Tucker Foundation and one of the organizers of the program, said that planning for an Islamic awareness campaign had been in the works before Islamo-Fascism week. The fallout from that week motivated the Multi-faith Council, which includes members from Al-Nur and the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, to organize a “peaceful interfaith dialogue,” which became Islamo-Fashion week.
“Not just Muslims, but people from a variety of backgrounds felt disturbed,” Tiyansan said. “There was a disappointment among students at the narrow-minded stereotyping.”
Adrian Wood-Smith “˜10, Pan-Asian Council representative for Al-Nur, maintained that he did not want the event to be seen as a response to Islamo-Fascism week.
“We respect Mr. Spencer’s right to free speech,” Wood-Smith said. “It seemed tragic he was emphasizing the link between Islam and violence, and we felt like if we would respond to that, it would look like we had something to prove.”
Yes, you wouldn’t want to look as if you had something to prove, would you? Unfortunately for you, however, Mr. Wood-Smith, I am not responsible for “the link between Islam and violence.” That link is emphasized by Muslims around the world every day. Do you really think ignoring it will make it go away? Do you really think vilifying those who call attention to the phenomenon will make it go away?
Unfortunately, I think you and your friends are in for a wake-up call.