Dec 14 2007

unpublished letter to NY times

Published by at 5:44 pm under Blogs

Google in Arabic to find out

It might be fashionable these days to attack Islam and Muslims (Islam’s” Silent Moderates” December 7), but Ms. Ayaan Hisi Ali’s article fails on two important counts. Taking a religious passage out of context might please certain circles, that are bent on dehumanizing an entire people and region, but fails to contribute to real understandings of the challenges facing today’s Muslims and Arabs.

If we would followed the words of Joshua 6:21 in the Old Testament we would legitimize in the name of the Lord the destruction of every living thing including “men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” In John 2:15 of the New Testament the apostle tells us that Jesus “made a whip of cords and drove all from the temple.” No one attacks Judaism or Christianity today based on these scripts taken out of context.

Her argument that “moderate Muslims” are silent about what recently happened in Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh is far from true. A true reflection of what Muslims think will be seen in what they say in their own language and not just what is published in the English language media. A Google search in Arabic (which is not a strong search engine in Arabic) for Gillian Gibbons (the British school teacher who named a teddy bear Muhammad) produces 58,000 results reflecting a variety of opinions including many opposed to what happened to her. Similar results are found by searching in other languages where the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims live. Scanning independent Arabic language Satellite TV and blogs and you can see many opposed to these religious rulings.

Most independent Muslims have been on the right side of these issues denouncing misuse and abuse of the Quran and Islamic theology. But these independent minded Muslims are not given a chance to speak either on local (state run) media for domestic reasons nor by the western media which just loves to quote the tiny percentage of radicals. Furthermore, the problem is with official Islam in many of the countries that Ayaan refers to. The Islamic clergy in these dictatorial regimes (who are often allied with the US) are used as puppets to justify the latest small battle their paymasters want them to fight irrespective of whether it is representative of Islam or reflective of accepted theology.

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