Pro-Islam Western Scholars and the ‘Real’ Islam

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


article-2352251-1A99A30B000005DC-332_634x470-600x400 I often receive a plentitude of messages from pro-Islam scholars – primarily those living in Western democratic societies and who are Western-educated – arguing that the real and true Islam is different from what I write or talk about. For example, one such recent debate surrounded my article and talks on the beheading of people based on their faith and political affiliation that occurred in Syria; the beheadings were committed in the name of Allah, Islam, and Sharia laws.

The main argument I receive from the Western-based, pro-Islam and Sharia law scholars is that Islam has a different and distinct characteristic. They provide me with a few statements from the Quran or Hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) – statements from over a thousand-and-four-hundred years ago – suggesting that Islam prefers dialogue and reconciliation as an approach to conflict resolution. They also point out that those people who are committing these brutal acts are not real Muslims and are only choosing portions from the Quran and Hadith that justify committing murder.

First of all, it is worth shedding light on the intriguing phenomenon that the pro-Islam Western scholars appear to be oblivious to: the strategy and tactics that they are utilizing to support their argument bear exact resemblance to the approaches that the Islamist groups are applying. In other words, although the pro-Islam Western scholars argue that other groups – such as Jubhat Alnusra, Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah – are selecting specific statements and verses from the Quran and Hadith to legitimize their actions in the name of Allah, they themselves are also cherry picking the statements and verses that they like in order to depict Islam as the most attractive religion.

Putting aside these cherry-picking tactics and for a moment ignoring the fact that the most dominant and powerful aforementioned Islamist groups strongly believe that they are the real essence of Islam, the real fact remains that the religion of Islam inequitably provides a violent, gender-biased, and oppressive language and, thus, justification for those who desire to use it.  Islam can provide the platform and statements to justify murder, beating women, and committing oppressive acts such as beheading. As a result, it provides the “rationale” for those Islamist groups that strongly believe they are the essence of Islam to justify their actions as the real Islam.

One example among hundreds of other examples is my father’s oppression. Whenever my Iranian father desired to use violence and to beat my Syrian mother, he would justify his actions through Allah, Muhammad, and the religion of Islam. He would quote verses from the Quran, for instance, “Men are in charge of women what Allah has given one over the other” (Quran 4:34), and “So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance—advise them; forsake them in bed; and beat them” (Quran 3:34).

In addition, the scholars who advocate for Sharia and Islamic law rebuff those who criticize Islam as foreigners – Westerners, Christians or Jews who lack knowledge of Islam and who only desire to change the religion. I mentioned the previous example of my personal family story to explain that I am not from any foreign group, but rather come from an Islamic background.

Secondly, and more fundamentally, these pro-Islam scholars who reject even the most minor criticisms towards Islam are doing so in the safety and comforts of Western society. In these countries they enjoy freedom of speech, press, assembly, rule of law, democracy, social justice, high-quality education, fellowships, and social welfare. If they are so eager to be advocates of all nuances of Islam, why not live under Islamic and Sharia law rule of governance? If they so strongly criticize Western societies, why not experience life under the rule of Imams, Ayatollahs and clerics, such as in the Islamic Republic of Iran? I am not suggesting that I have a deeper insight on this matter due to the fact that I have lived in such societies; rather, I am recommending that these pro-Islam scholars try gaining first-hand experience by actually living in one of the dozens of countries that practice Islamic and Sharia law.

Thirdly, although these pro-Islam, Western-based scholars claim that they condemn the actions committed by the Islamists in Syria and other countries, they are in fact indirectly and directly contributing to the oppression, suppression, and brutality conducted under the name of Allah.  The reason is that these scholars – instead of criticizing and attempting to reform Islamic and Sharia law – are perpetuating the status quo in Islamist-ruled societies and strengthening the ruling establishments by supporting their narratives.

This means that through the concerted attempts to project a picture of Islam as the most attractive and efficient religion in the world, they are in fact contributing to the cause of various Islamic establishments that are suppressing minorities, women, freedom of speech and the rule of law.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Sam

    Powerful….

  • Sam

    Islam probably needs change from whithin

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Islam probably needs change from whithin

      Islam has already undergone a change from within or a reformation of sorts, if you will. Initially, Islam started out as being a peaceful religion, albeit a very bastardized religion, as Muhammad borrowed heavily from various religions to create his new religion, but a religion nonetheless. However, subsequent to the Hijra in 622 AD, which was Muhammad and his early followers forced migration to Medina after being cast out of Mecca by the Meccans, Muhammad became very obsessed with revenge and turned to politics and jihad and in the processed reformed and transformed Islam into what it is today, which is a very aggressive and destructive totalitarian cult that has as its sole purpose the subjugation into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law.

      In Islam, the principle of abrogation is a very important principle that is universally accepted by all sects and divisions throughout Islam and it states that when two verses of the Koran come into conflict, the latter issued verses of the Koran, i.e., those issued by Muhammad later on in his career, abrogate and replace the earlier issued verses of the Koran they conflict with. This means that the latter issued infamous sword verses of the Koran that were issued by Muhammad just prior to his death and which command all Muslims to wage jihad in the cause of Allah against all religions and all infidels until they have all been rendered into Islamic totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia, abrogates and replaces all earlier issued verses of the Koran they come in conflict with.

      So you see, Islam has already undergone its reformation of sorts from initially starting out as being a peaceful religion very similar to other religions to subsequent to the Hijra being transformed into a very aggressive and destructive totalitarian cult by Muhammad after he became extremely obsessed with revenge and turned to politics and jihad. In fact, it was through politics and jihad that Muhammad eventually became a very rich and very powerful warlord.

      • ziggy zoggy

        Islam becoming an imperial war creed as a Reformation. I never thought of it that way. There will never be an islamic Enlightenment and I don’t see any other Reformations coming, either.

        • defcon 4

          Especially considering the success islam0-nazism has had in conquering the Mid-East and N. Africa over the last hundred years and expansion across the entire world.

    • Drakken

      There will be no reforming from within, it will have to be dealt with from the outside and eradicated.

  • newsel

    To paraphrase: There are none so blind that do not want to see the truth.

    Must also have been a tough childhood having to listen to that line as your father established his authority over your mother while quoting verses from the Quran.

  • Sam

    Why it is so hard to for find people who want to change Islam and reform it from whithin , while there are many in other religions.

    • defcon 4

      Islam is a totalitarian, supremacist, Jew hating ideology like Nazism. How are you going to reform such an ideology?

    • Drakken

      There is no reforming islam, it must be eradicated from the earth.

    • bribri

      because muhammad’s islam FORBIDS it.

  • popseal

    To find the character of any religion, examine the personal lives of the founder and his first ‘disciples’. Having done that we find that ancient Christianity was a relationship to God that regenerates the souls and brings peace to the convert. Islam is easily seen as a violent superstition founded by a known killer, CAIR, George W. Bush, and Mayor Bloomberg not with standing.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    They provide me with a few statements from the Quran or Hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings) – statements from over a thousand-and-four-hundred years ago – suggesting that Islam prefers dialogue and reconciliation as an approach to conflict resolution.

    What these apologists/traitors for Islam are providing you with are in reality abrogated verses of the Koran that Muslims ubiquitously use to dupe gullible useful idiot infidels into believing falsely that Islam is a so-called religion of peace. However, the principle of abrogation in Islam is a universally accepted principle throughout all the various sects and divisions in Islam and it states unequivocally that the latter issued verses of the Koran abrogate and replace all earlier issued verses of the Koran they conflict with. Thus, the earlier issued peaceful Meccan verses of the Koran that originate before the Hijra in 622 AD when Islam was still a very bastardized but peaceful religion, have in essence all been abrogated and replaced by the infamous sword verses of the Koran that originate subsequent to the Hijra and that command all Muslims to wage jihad in the cause of Allah against all religions and all infidels until the whole world has been rendered into Islamic totalitarianism via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law.

    They also point out that those people who are committing these brutal acts are not real Muslims and are only choosing portions from the Quran and Hadith that justify committing murder.

    That’s total unadulterated BS, as jihad in Islam is the sixth and most important pillar of Islam and is also a fundamental holy obligation incumbent upon all Muslims in one form or another. This means that all Muslims are jihadists in one form or another or otherwise they are blasphemous apostates in which case they must be executed per the texts and tenets of Islam.

    As a matter of fact, unlike in true religions, the first and foremost requirement of Islam is the total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of Allah by all adherents under the pain of death for blasphemy and apostasy. In fact, the word “Islam” in Arabic means “submission” and the word “Muslim” in Arabic means “one who submits.” What true religions make blasphemy and apostasy capital offenses similar to Islam? The answer is none of them and this proves irrefutably that Islam is not a legitimate religion but instead a cult that is masquerading as being a religion to dupe its intended infidel victims.

    Furthermore, what is the will of the Allah that all Muslims must totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to under the pain of death for blasphemy and apostasy? In essence the will of Allah is Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law. Thus, this means that Islam in reality is a very aggressive and destructive totalitarian cult that is masquerading as being a religion to dupe its intended infidel victims, as its sole purpose, according to Islam’s infamous sword verses, which per the universally accepted principle of abrogation abrogates and replaces all verses it conflicts with, is to subjugate into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which again is Islamic totalitarian law.

    By the way, this also means that according to Islam’s first and foremost requirement, which again is the total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of Allah under the pain of death for blasphemy and apostasy, that there can be no moderate Muslims, since for a Muslim to be a true moderate he or she would have to necessarily disavow Sharia, which again in essence is the will of Allah, and that is an unequivocal capital offense in Islam.

    In addition, this also means that the existence of so-called Islamists, i.e., radical Muslims, is a farce. As what are intentionally mislabeled Islamists are in reality mainstream orthodox Muslims. Hence, those apologists/traitors for Islam are very severely mentally deficient or otherwise have ulterior motives for what they do.

    • Muh

      Where are your evidence from?

      • ObamaYoMoma

        From the texts and tenets of Islam.

      • ziggy zoggy

        Did you even understand what he wrote? Abrogation is very real and jihad absolutely is the top tenet of islam.

      • defcon 4

        Gee, the mountain of evidence of how muslimes rule their islam0-nazi states in the here and now isn’t enough for you?

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    I was just thinking about this topic today. Western scholars have their own version of Islam and Muslims have theirs. It’s odd that western scholars believe their version is the real Islam but Muslims just have it wrong.

    If Islamism is so contrary to Islam (as Western scholars try to tell us) then why do the people in the most important Islamic nations (Egypt and Turkey) readily accept and elect Islamist? Why does radical Islam dominate the next two important Islamic nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia? The problem isn’t misinterpretations; it’s Islam and it’s in the Koran and Hadiths. Even moderate (i.e. lax) Muslims see fundamentalists as legitimate practitioners of Islam.

    “It’s the religion, stupid.”

    • ObamaYoMoma

      If Islamism is so contrary to Islam (as Western scholars try to tell us) then why do the people in the most important Islamic nations (Egypt and Turkey) readily accept and elect Islamist? Why does radical Islam dominate the next two important Islamic nations, Iran and Saudi Arabia?

      Simple, because there are no such things as Islamism, radical Islam, Islamists, and radical Muslims as those idioms are the products of those same Western scholars that present a fantasy-based notion of Islam that is nowhere close to reality. Indeed, there is only Islam and mainstream orthodox Muslims, as jihad, which, by the way, isn’t terrorism, because it is holy fighting in the cause of Allah for the establishment of Islam via the imposition of Sharia, which is Islamic totalitarian law, and manifest in stark contrast to terrorism both violently and non-violently but astronomically far more non-violently relative to violently, is the sixth and highest pillar of Islam and also a fundamental holy obligation incumbent upon all Muslims in one form in one form or another. Thus, per the first and foremost requirement of Islam, which is the total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of Allah by all Muslims under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy, all Muslims are jihadists in one form or another. Otherwise they are blasphemous apostates that according to the texts and tenets of Islam must be executed. Furthermore, the will of Allah that all Muslims must totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to is in essence Sharia, which again is Islamic totalitarian law.

      Even moderate (i.e. lax) Muslims see fundamentalists as legitimate practitioners of Islam.

      A lax Muslim is another idiom. Either a Muslim is a Muslim per his or her total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of Allah or otherwise a blasphemous apostate in which case he or she must be executed per the texts and tenets of Islam.

      “It’s the religion, stupid.”

      Islam is not a true religion! At least not in the same way we in the West view religion. Indeed, what true religions compel faith via the requirement for total, complete, and unconditional submission to the will of God under the pain of death for blasphemy and apostasy? The answer is none of them, and that proves irrefutably that Islam is not a religion, but instead a cult instead, and because the sole purpose of Islam is to subjugate into Islamic totalitarianism all religions and all infidels via the imposition of Sharia, which again is Islamic totalitarian law, Islam is a totalitarian cult masquerading as being a religion to dupe its intended victims.

    • ziggy zoggy

      it IS the religion/cult but it doesn’t help that most islamopithecines would still be scumbags even without it.

  • Rashida Khan

    If moderates in Islam want to win the turf battle it has with traditionalists, they need to join forces with Rafizadeh and subject the religion to a revolt from within its ranks, instead of offering homilies about how it is a religion of peace, tolerance, and submission to the will of a just God.

    instead, what I see from the likes of Reza Aslan is a sleight of hand argument that Islam comes in very many strains just as Christianity does — from flat-earth anti-gay conservatives to pro-science Unitarians. However, I have yet to come across a single passage in the New Testament that a Christian fundamentalist like Gary Bauer can use to advocate beheadings or liquidation of those who would not follow Christian world view. Faithful of Islam have to address a very inconvenient fact: that Quran legitimizes much that the moderates would love to shrug off and paper over.

    Yes it’s true that medieval Christianity had its share of sadistic fundamentalists, and moderates (if any) of that time had to hold their tongues lest they be liquidated in its pogroms. But the scripture itself remained a tough hiding place for the Torquemadas and their barbarisms. Unless moderates among the Islamic diaspora in the West undertake a critical revision of Quran, they risk being trojan horses for its vast army of lunatics worldwide.