Khaled Abou El Fadl, Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law
Opposition to Israel, to colonialism and to immoral aspects of Western culture – all cited in the report – aren't evidence of Wahhabi extremism, he said. Freedom House suggested that the U.S. government should crack down on distribution of the material. But Dr. Abou el Fadl said that's not a good solution. "When we resort to bannings and manipulative use of immigration laws and national security laws to counter this literature, all we end up doing is transforming the Wahhabi side into a world victim by feeding into conspiracy theories," he said.
This desire to continue the distribution of Saudi publications hardly comes as a surprise to me, given Abou El Fadl's record of apologizing for Wahhabism and even lending his skills to it, as documented in my 2004 article. How long will it be until his Islamist outlook is generally recognized? (February 4, 2005)
Dec. 12, 2005 update: Our old friend, Lorraine Ali, has a silly piece on Muslim women in Newsweek (she really should go back to writing what she knows about – rock music) where Khaled Abou El Fadl is quoted: "Historically the West has used the women's issue as a spear against Islam." Once again, he sounds suspiciously like an Islamist.
Also of note is Abou El Fadl's historical ignorance. On the issue of the status of Muslim women, he says: "It was raised in the time of the Crusades, used consistently in colonialism and is being used now." This misses the point, which is that the Western view of Muslim women exactly reversed itself from premodern to modern times. Here is a summary of the change, from my review of a study titled Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque:
in the medieval period, the West looked at the Muslim woman as a termagant, an archaic English word usually applied to Muslims and meaning a "quarrelsome, overbearing woman; a virago, vixen, or shrew." Europeans strenuously disapproved of this kind of woman and found her deeply threatening. Then, in the seventeenth century, the Muslim female's image changed as "the veil and the seraglio" entered the picture. The new (Turkish-origin) term to describe the Muslim woman was odalisque, "an abject harem slave."
Mar. 26, 2006 update: Irfan Khawaja skewers Abou El Fadl – whom he calls an "apologist for theocracy, zealous critic of secularism, and (not coincidentally) darling of the liberal media establishment" – at "Academic Apologists for Shariah: The Real Meaning of the Abdul Rahman." (Abdul Rahman is the Afghan convert to Christianity whose apostasy would have led to his execution if not for intervention by the pope and others in the West.) Khawaja, instructor of philosophy at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, writes:
the sad fact is that however hard El Fadl tries to mask his differences from the inquisitors in Afghanistan, he cannot mask his fundamental agreement with them. He shares their faith, shares their moral verdict on apostasy, and shares Islam's view of the eventual fate of the apostate. He may not want to kill an apostate with his own hands, or even want one to be killed by any actual government. But in compliance with the wishes of his "Lord" and master, he can't help acquiescing in the thought that the apostate deserves to be damned to Hell for eternity. …
Professor El Fadl, Omar and Azmeralda Alfi Distinguished Fellow in Islamic Law, defends a doctrine according to which it is permissible to torture someone for eternity for having the wrong beliefs. Excuse me, but who is the bigot among us?