Obama has announced the appointment of Azizah al-Hibri to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Al-Hibri (full name, Azizah Yahia Muhammad Toufiq al-Hibri) is a Muslim professor and the granddaughter of a Sheikh, who claims that the Koran inspired Thomas Jefferson and the Founders and that the Saudi criminal justice system is more moral than the American one because it accepts blood money from murderers.
Appointing a Muslim scholar to a commission on international religious freedom is only justifiable if that scholar recognized that much of the injustice in the world originates from Islamic law. But Al-Hibri has made her career whitewashing Islamic law and even presenting it as superior to American law. While she has been called a reformer, her call in 2001 for a return to the fundamentals echoes Wahhabi rhetoric. Rather than examining the incompatibilities of Islamic law and the modern world, and urging the appropriate adjustments, as genuine reformers have done, Al-Hibri instead builds myths that uphold the Islamist agenda.
According to Al-Hibri, “Islamic fiqh is deeper and better than Western codes of law”. She favorably compares Saudi Arabia’s willingness to accept blood money bribes to excuse a murder, to the “impersonal and powerful” American justice system. Al-Hibri is often billed as a Muslim feminist, but she is equally hypocritical on women’s rights. Rather than conceding that Islamic law discriminates against women, she whitewashes its discriminatory treatment of women, arguing that guardianship is meant to protect “inexperienced women”.
Rather than trying to bring Islam in line with the modern world, Azizah Al-Hibri pushes for the modern world to be brought in line with Islam. Rather than reforming Islam, it is America that she would like to reform to Islamic standards. Placing a woman who believes that American law is inferior to that of the Koran on an American commission to promote international religious freedom perverts the purpose of the commission and promotes religious tyranny instead.
Given a forum to call for reform, Al-Hibri unerringly insists that there is nothing to reform. At the UN, Al-Hibri expressed outrage that the Koran, which “established acceptance of others, now needed to be defended” and insisted that Islam “guaranteed freedom of thought”. Listening to her defend Mohammed’s tyranny as an early form of democracy at the UN is a reminder of the era when Soviet representatives to the UN angrily defended their record on human rights and insisted that there is no freedom outside of Communism.
In Al-Hibri’s distorted history, the wave of genocides and conquests that turned the multicultural Middle-East into a desert of brutality governed by minor variations of Islamic ideology, was actually a wave of enlightenment. The massacres of the region’s Jews and the purge of all other religions from the area never occurred in Al-Habri’s history book. Revisionist history of this kind would be dangerous even if it were not coming from a woman in a position to influence opinion leaders.
The twin approaches of the Islamist narrative may be described as the Caliph Omar bridge. When the Muslim armies of the Caliph reached the great Library of Alexandria, he decreed that it should be burned, for if the library’s scrolls held the same ideas as the Koran they were redundant, and if they opposed the Koran, they were heretical.
While some Islamists attack the United States Constitution as a heretical document and Western Civilization as worthless– others more cleverly represent the Constitution as an inferior version of the Koran and Western Civilization as derivative of Islamic civilization. Either way they must burn along with the Library of Alexandria. But the second approach is more seductive. Rather than launching a direct attack, it seeks to construct a bridge that connects Islam and the West. But the structure of the bridge is only a more insidious form of attack.
These bridge builders don’t come bearing a torch, rather an argument that since American law is derived from Islam, it must ‘revert’ to the higher standards of Islamic law. By contrasting the reality of American law with an ideal version of Islamic law that does not exist anywhere in the world, they manage to make the system that protects human rights seem shabby, while the system that represses women and minorities appears noble and righteous. That is the kind of revisionist history that Al-Hibri traffics in, creating a noble Islamic creed contrasted with a flawed American system.