For the last couple of days I got involved discussing the case of fourteen year old girl Malala Yousafzai who was cowardly shot by a fundamentalist believer in Islam. Most agreed that it was a horrible deed. The problem however for many was to distinguish between violent acts that are rooted in an Islamic belief and those that are a perversion of it, based on a mixture between Islam and tribal culture.
For Moslems the Quran is a holy book and the life of Mohammed a perfect example to be followed and therefore it was important by the Taliban leaders to justify the shooting of Mala through the Quran. Ehsanullah Ehsan is a spokesman for the Taliban who issued a statement to defend their actions. In it he says that
“It’s a clear command of Shariah that any female that by any means plays (a) role in war against mujahideen (holy warriors) should be killed. “Malala Yousafzai was playing a vital role in bucking up the emotions of Murtad (apostate) army and Government of Pakistan, and was inviting Muslims to hate mujahideen.”
The same statement earlier also gives a justification from the Quran why it’s ok to kill a child:
If anyone Argues about her so young age , then the Story of Hazrat Khizar in Quran that relates that Hazrat Khizar while Traveling with Prophet Musa (AS) killed a child, arguing about the reason of his killing he said that the parents of this child are Pious and in future he will cause bad name for them.
And why it is ok to kill a female:
If anyone argues that she was female, then we can see the incident of killing of wife by a blind Companion of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.W) because she use to say insultive words for prophet. And prophet praised this act.
When I read this I took my Quran and checked the first scripture in it’s context. The references can be found in Sura 18 which I copied here in its context:
And when Moses said unto his servant: I will not give up until I reach the point where the two rivers meet, though I march on for ages. (60) And when they reached the point where the two met, they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the waters, being free. (61) And when they had gone further, he said unto his servant: Bring us our breakfast. Verily we have found fatigue in this our journey. (62) He said: Didst thou see, when we took refuge on the rock, and I forgot the fish – and none but Satan caused me to forget to mention it – it took its way into the waters by a marvel. (63) He said: This is that which we have been seeking. So they retraced their steps again. (64) Then found they one of Our slaves, unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and had taught him knowledge from Our presence. (65) Moses said unto him: May I follow thee, to the end that thou mayst teach me right conduct of that which thou hast been taught? (66) He said: Lo! thou canst not bear with me. (67) How canst thou bear with that whereof thou canst not compass any knowledge? (68) He said: Allah willing, thou shalt find me patient and I shall not in aught gainsay thee. (69) He said: Well, if thou go with me, ask me not concerning aught till I myself mention of it unto thee. (70) So they twain set out till, when they were in the ship, he made a hole therein. (Moses) said: Hast thou made a hole therein to drown the folk thereof? Thou verily hast done a dreadful thing. (71) He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me? (72) (Moses) said: Be not wroth with me that I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my fault. (73) So they twain journeyed on till, when they met a lad, he slew him. (Moses) said: What! Hast thou slain an innocent soul who hath slain no man? Verily thou hast done a horrid thing. (74) He said: Did I not tell thee that thou couldst not bear with me? (75) (Moses) said: If I ask thee after this concerning aught, keep not company with me. Thou hast received an excuse from me. (76) So they twain journeyed on till, when they came unto the folk of a certain township, they asked its folk for food, but they refused to make them guests. And they found therein a wall upon the point of falling into ruin, and he repaired it. (Moses) said: If thou hadst wished, thou couldst have taken payment for it. (77) He said: This is the parting between thee and me! I will announce unto thee the interpretation of that thou couldst not bear with patience. (78) As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working on the river, and I wished to mar it, for there was a king behind them who is taking every ship by force. (79) And as for the lad, his parents were believers and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. (80) And we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in purity and nearer to mercy. (81) And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure belonging to them, and their father had been righteous, and thy Lord intended that they should come to their full strength and should bring forth their treasure as a mercy from their Lord; and I did it not upon my own command. Such is the interpretation of that wherewith thou couldst not bear. (82)
We have to remember that for a Muslim the Quran is a holy book dictated by Allah himself. It is beyond criticism for any believing Moslem (or anybody who values his life according to Bart Ehrman).
Some people felt that Islam itself was attacked and the word Islamaphobic came up. Islamaphobia is defined as an irrational fear of Islam. What people really mean when they use this word is to say that Islam is a peaceful religion and when we discuss atrocities like the killing of a fourteen year old girl we should focus solely on the extremists who killed her and not Islam in general. It made me however wonder why we hardly ever hear words like Christophobia, Catholiphobia or Churchphobia when discussing the atrocities committed by the church. We also don’t hear words like Naziphobia when we speak about the evils done by Nazis. The reason why words are appended with phobia is often as an effective means to block a sensible debate, basically declaring that any argument against is rooted in irrational thought or emotion and therefore not worth considering.
Now the Taliban have brought forth justifications from the Quran, a book revered by all Muslims. So if Muslims believe the words of the Quran as being infallible are they then not in effect believing exactly as the extremists? Even if moderate muslims don’t like what the extremists do, would they not have to agree with their actions based on the common ground they have?
In the bible we have examples where a prophet would instruct a king to commit genocide and unleash God’s punishment on him if he didn’t obey. To believe in God meant to obey the instructions of the prophet even if it meant killing women and children. It was clear cut. You either obeyed God or you didn’t. Even with the gospels and the message of love we had over a thousand of years of atrocities committed in the name of the church where bible verses were used to justify the torturing and burning of men, women and children on the stake.
It was only through the Enlightenment movement that an end was brought to this madness and that reason was restored in the west. We should never forget our past and how hard our freedom was won so that we never let go of it. The enlightenment still has to penetrate through Islam as it has penetrated through Christianity.
It seems to me that Islam has a lot to answer for the atrocities committed today by those extremists especially to women. The Quran condones paedophilia through the example of Mohammed and therefore we still see a lot of young girls being married off to paedophiles in Islamic countries and this is not just a cultural thing. The Quran declares women to be inferior to men which encourages men to use women as objects to give them pleasure. Women who are raped often have no recourse to justice because to meet the requirements of the Quran requires four witnesses. The reality often is that if she dares to try to get justice she is often beaten or even killed for adultery. Silly women who convert to Islam often speak about how the Quran gives women rights. It really makes me wonder how they don’t notice the mockery of it all. A man can rape a woman with impunity even in the company of three men knowing very well that none of them would ever witness against him but if they did, three witnesses are not enough to convict him.
The most evil thing in my opinion in Islam is that it gives the illusion things could be better, that it is not really Islam that is bad but that people misinterpret it. Women in Islam who try to gain more rights and freedom to work, drive a car, choose their partner or simply get an education fight an uphill struggle. I admire the work done by many of them who have managed to change things in their country and I can understand that to contemplate coming out of Islam is often not an option. For a start it is all they know since they were born and then there is of course the additional threat that Islam commands that those who leave the faith are to be killed.
I do however fully agree with women like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (see http://theahafoundation.org) who say that the only real way out of oppression is to come out of Islam because Islam is an oppressive religion and has nothing going for it. The reason men think it right to shoot a fourteen year old girl is not just because they are extremists but it’s mainly because they are sincere Muslims who want to do the will of Allah.
Islamaphobia is an irrational fear of Islam but an irrational fear can only be irrational if there was no actual threat. Any person who converts to Islam and later changes his mind will be under a death sentence. Such a person will have to deal with real fear and not an imagined one, even if the death sentence is never carried out because most Muslims here are moderate or don’t want to get into trouble with the law, yet somebody just might.
There are honour killings when a daughter or a son disgraces the family, there are death-fatwas issued by islamic leaders like the one over Salman Rushdie and there are other death threats that require people to go into hiding like Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard who was attacked in his home by a somali muslim wielidng an axe and a knife, like Theo van Gogh, who together with Ayaan Hirsi Ali produced the film ‘Submission’ to expose the treatment of women in Islam, who was murdered in Amsterdam as he was cycling to work.