Sunday, November 18, 2007

As-Salamu Alakyum

Western Muslims need to provide a beacon for radical Islam

A Saudi Arabian court recently added injury to, well, injury when it sentenced a 19-year-old rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in prison for "being in [a} car with an unrelated male at the time of the [gang] rape".

By contrast, her six armed attackers were merely sentenced to prison.

Predictably, this has provoked a wide range of outrage. But none is more profound than that expressed by Vancouver's Jiti Khanna, who protested the treatment of the young woman in a letter to The National Post:

"The whipping and jailing of a 19-year-old women for being "in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the [gang] rape" shows, once again, the inherent discrimination and violence against women contained within Shariah law. Saudi Arabia practises a specially puritan form of Islam that it has exported worldwide through its funding of mosques and training of mosque leaders. Furthermore, every year Shariah attitudes are reinforced in millions of Muslims when they go on the prescribed Hajj pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. To prevent such practices from finding resonance in Western Muslims, we must express our abhorrence and ask Saudi Arabia to re-form its Islamic practices.

We should also ask Western Muslims to loudly denounce such examples of Shariahbased discrimination and violence against women.

While many in the Western world look upon Islam with a great deal of (arguably well-justified) concern -- or sometimes outright hostility -- it's important to remember that a Westernized, moderate brand of Islam could prove to be a light upon the Muslim world.

People like Jiti Khanna serve as a reminder of this.

Nor is she alone. For a distinctly Western brand of Islam to emerge, people like Irshad Manji will have to continue to challenge Islam, and movements such as the Dawoodi Bohras will have to step up its efforts to engrain progressive values within Islam.

Of course, a westernized, progressive Islam will only emerge through open and honest debate. As such, Muslim conservative movements will need to have an opportunity to have their say, as well.

As for the rest of us, we'll need to provide this modernized brand of Islam room to grow. As such, it will fall to ordinary non-Muslims to protect Muslims from unreasonable discrimination. People like Jiti Khanna need to be given room to advance their cause, and people like Robert Spencer cannot be allowed to cynically denounce Islam into a rhetorical vacuum.

In the meantime, peace be upon you, Jiti Khanna. You're a credit to your faith.


  1. " it's important to remember that a Westernized, moderate brand of Islam could prove to be a light upon the Muslim world."
    Nice to dream about. Especially the "could" part. Now, how many moderates, or non-muslims will die before the "not-so-moderates" see the light? Something to think about, since we don't hear much from the moderate side.

  2. Did you decline to read the letter? It doesn't seem like Jiti Khanna was being very quiet at all.

  3. One person of a group numbering approx 1.1 billion. NOT very good odds. Granted, there are more, but I sure don't hear many of the so-called moderates calling for moderation. Yet people are willing to bury their heads regarding the approx 16 million radical fundamentalists. And yes, I did read the letter.
    Someone once said "Better fifty guilty men go free than one innocent man hang" Tell that to the families of people murdered by to fifty set free.

  4. Hmmmm. I'm reminded of a post from your blog wherein you refer to a movie that claims only 10-15% of Muslims support Jihad. Admittedly, that's still a lot of them, but only a fifth of the Muslims that do.

    You're overlooking more than merely Jiti Khanna. You're overlooking Irshad Manji, a myriad of Islam reform movements, and all the Muslims who simply want to live in peace with their neighbours.

    No one is overlooking Islamic extremism. But it's important that we recognize that it's precisely that: extremism, and doesn't represent the majority of Muslims. People like Robert Spencer like to try to misconstrue the facts to try to represent the opposite, but there's also a reason why he's positively begging people to buy his books (he's an Islamophobia profiteer).

    Long story short, this is the reason why a westernized, moderate brand of Islam is needed: to start applying the appropriate pressure to regimes like Saudi Arabia and Iran to begin reforming.

  5. Agreed! Now if we can get the moderates to realize they have our support, then maybe they'll feel safer to speak out.
    The main problem seem to me to be the leftist idea of NOT condemning acts of terrorism, and worse, ignoring moderates. Have a look at this:
    Although I trust C.A.i.R. about as far as I can throw them!
    See, we're not so far apart on ideology.

  6. No, I guess we really aren't. I disagree with you inregards to CAIR, but I certainly agree that we shouldn't allow our desire to be politically correct toward Islam from condemning acts of terrorism.

    I just think we need to be very careful before we direct the blame at Islam itself.

    We should also ensure we provide safety for Muslims who want to speak out. Even if there aren't as many doing so as we would like, we have to remember that Martin Luther was only one man when he nailed his Thesis to the door of the Cathedral.


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