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.
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