My Sacred Islam
Submitted by Safraz (United States), Dec 28, 2006 at 21:44
I must say that I am quite shocked that in America today, after all the painful lessons we have learnt from our experiences with institutional racial discrimination against Black Americans, from anti-Semitism and religious bigotry against Jews – that we see the same bigotry being repeated in your description of my religious faith, my very sacred religious fate of Islam, as a "death cult that endorses mutilation, torture, pedophilia, rape, wife beating, suppression of women, racism, sexism, beheading, religious intolerance, deception, and slavery."
Yes, I know you can quote me verses from the Koran that appear to justify your belief, but I can write a book on how you have misinterpreted the Koran for your own purposes. And for each such verse, I can find you a similar one in the BIble that is equally susceptible to misinterpretation - yet you're not here describing Christianity and Judaism in such a vile manner.
Islam, as you may or may not know, was for some 1200 years, through the Moors to the Ottomans, at the forefront of modernism, human rights, and scientific achievement. Women in Islam achieved the right of inheritance, the right of divorce, and property rights – rights that women in the Western world would not see for another 1000 years with the advent of the women's rights movements in the West. Religious freedom in Islamic empires was beyond anything in the West at its time – and it is no coincidence that many Jews fled and settled in the Muslim world after being persecuted in Europe.
To argue that the dhimmi (the protected peoples) were seen as inferior is to miss the point that at that time, in that age, religion was your citizenship and thus to be Muslim in the Ottoman world gave one the full rights of citizenship. To argue that the dhimmi were forced to pay a so called protection tax, is to also blind yourself to the fact that every Muslim had to pay an equivalent tax and sometimes more, depending on the civilization we are talking about. Some Muslim civilizations required that Muslims pay both the zakat (the alms tax) and another tax to the state. But the bottom line is that these civilizations were in the forefront of modernity for their time, and if you don't believe it ask yourself and do some research on whether you would rather be a Jew in medieval Europe or in Moorish Spain.
So what happened? How did Islam lose its place at the cutting edge of modern advancements? Many theories abound, starting with the decline of the Ottomans, to the rise of the Saudi kingdom and the Wahabbis. Whatever the case, the fact remains that Islam is very capable of modernism and pluralism, and in fact for over a millennium, led the way in these matters.
And so today, the Muslim world is divided between modernists Muslims who envision a secular pluralistic state where religion is a matter of the private sphere, and Islamists who see religion as a matter of the state. And from Palestine, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan – almost everywhere in the Muslim world – you see this divide playing out in bloodshed.
I consider myself a modernist secularist Muslim. All I ask is that you open your eyes and realize that when you make such grandiose statements as "clash of civilizations" and "Islam is the enemy," you strengthen the arguments of the radical violent Islamists (the real enemy) that Islam is under attack and must be defended with jihad. You create more real enemies this way and make my life harder when I argue to my fellow Muslims that we must reform our faith for the 21st century, modernize and look forward, not regress backwards into the middle ages.
If Islam is your true enemy – surely you must know that you cannot win. How can you defeat an idea with a billion adherants, that at its very core, is the belief that there is one almighty merciful God and that Muhammed bin Abdullah was his Prophet?
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