READER RESPONSE TO
PHYLLIS CHESLER'S SECULAR ISLAM ON THE RISE
I am a filmmaker with a forthcoming book being released in September
entitled Halal Pork.(Upset
I submit the following objections and clarifications
to Phyllis Chesler’s Secular Islam on the Rise.
Allow me to illustrate the situation we have
before us. Prior to 9/11, a person could not say the things
he/she is saying now, without being socially challenged. You
could not say before 9/11, for instance, that Islam was a religion
of Terror without someone correcting you for generalizing. You
also could not get away with, for instance, staring at a woman
in a veil on the train as if she was an alien, without people
looking at you like an alien for not getting it. Now things
are different, voices call for nuking the Middle East on a daily
basis. Doesn't matter what division of Islam – ‘nukem
all.’ Voices in the Washington Post, the Daily News, on
television are in a rerun loop that Islam is bad, Islam is horrible,
Islam treats women like slaves, Islam is this, that. Left unchecked,
these voices, mostly right-wing Christian zealots who never
use their real names, have made a business out of bashing Islam.
It is a known fact that the popular question America asks, "Where
is the moderate Muslim voice?" is a rhetorical question.
Moderates are all over, speaking up and trying to be heard,
but the West will not listen because I think they have made
themselves incapable. There is a responsibility in the reader/listener
as well. The so-called Moderate Muslim character has not yet
been inserted into American culture because of resistance from
groups that NEED Islam marginalized. It is as if, the western
mind either doesn't want to, cannot or will not understand this.
Why has it taken me so long to write, or to formulate this hypothesis?
I was saying the same on September 12th and people were accusing
me of making anthrax and trying to kill me.
Why, as a moderate Muslim, is my view kept bottled
up, and when I do speak or send letters, why are they either
not printed and/or ignored? Why are there not opposing Op-Ed
columns by an actual American Bred Muslims like myself to counter
the regional and local weekly hate speech in newspapers and
I propose a simple answer to the rhetoric;
If Islam were accepted, as are other religions,
without being under the scrutiny of a Judeo-Christian lens,
it would mean a change to our whole foreign policy -- in particular,
the Palestinian-Israel situation. It would mean accepting 9/11
was carried out by a fringe group of "Political Terrorists,"
not Muslim Terrorists that used the Qu'ran and certain Islamic
ideas to motivate themselves. However, the ideas they used to
motivate themselves exist in every religion. All religions designate
in the negative the non-believer. The idea of eye for an eye,
tooth for a tooth, is popular with the West and also with Islam.
These ideas will undoubtedly motivate the future of domestic
terrorists in America: we already have the Virginia Tech shootings,
Waco and other massacres on our own shores.
I’m not defending the acts nor am I saying
political terrorists are righteous, only that the lens of scrutiny
can be applied to any religion and faults can be found along
with the positives. Christians have a history of barbarism,
unjustified hatred and massacre, so do Jews. During Islam's
inception the Prophet guided many battles as did the Mongols,
the Seljuk Turks, Ottomans throughout Islam history. It just
depends on WHY you are looking at the particular religion with
such scrutiny. They all have bloody histories, not just Islam.
There are many anti-Islam websites with their
articles and naysayers professing they have proof that the Prophet
was disingenuous or that they have incontrovertible evidence
that the Qu'ran was a delusion. These people have actually sat
down and thought of unlimited arguments against Islam; I think
it's great that they applied so much thought to it. I believe
properly grounded Muslims d know the answers to most of the
accusations. Nothing I've seen or read -- and I've spent days
perusing the information on these sites -- has even affected
my view of Islam in the slightest. I cannot speak for the youth.
I always see the same pictures they show as evidence
of Islam's treatment of women, for instance, which is a popular
subject with Oprah. It's this picture from Yemen in 1944, of
a woman in a ditch with this look on her face, one finds on
every Internet site -- with no context. I laugh when I see them
using it. Where's the new stuff, I wonder? Got any new Islamic
adultery pics? What about Jed in the trailer park in Kansas
and his wife, I want to see some pics of how he beat up his
ball and chain. How about those jello bikini wrestling matches
at spring break with fat hip-hop promoters wearing t-shirts
down to their knees (can someone say burqa?) cheering on two
basically naked girls as they wrestle? Or the famous footage
of Palestinians "celebrating on 9/11;" hilarious stuff.
It's from 1990 Eid celebration, a total media farce, and almost
everyone I talk to uses that as their fodder for racist remarks.
Here's a test you can try out in your own neighbourhood -- a
Double Standard Ph test. Ask people how they feel about that
famous footage of Palestinians celebrating. Note their answer.
Than ask them what they think of celebrating hicks talking about
nuking the Middle East. Tell them the hicks are nice but those
Palestinians, damn refugees. My point is the double standard.
An intelligent discussion on "tackling the Imam" cannot
be had when the premise that is suggested in the headline is
It's as if this post-9/11 world NEEDS to believe
that Islam is to blame for everything, that Muslims are generally
hateful and that they (the Christians, Jews) are on the side
right. During the republican party debates last week, Guiliani
called it a "war between civilization and evil," then
they show a pic of a "terrorist" wearing a kuffiya,
a red scarf, holding a Qu'ran, with Arabic script to provoke
a strong emotion. I laugh at that too. It's just playing into
the hands of the political terrorists out there who need to
be made scary and mysterious. Contrast these effects on the
young Muslim and the results will inevitably be a self-fulfilling
prophecy. The hatred spread in these last 7 years will undoubtedly
create more individuals with conflicted beliefs and further
the West's problems with its own home-grown American-Islam (i.e.,
recent planning of JFK bombings by Guyanese/Trinidadian Muslims
were by in large motivated by the atmosphere they felt that
they are terrorists).
I'll end here, since I normally do not participate
in forums discussing Islam because of the overwhelming hatred
against anything deemed as pro-Islam. A simple perusing of
boards will reveal Islam haters posting a constant, unbearable
stream of racism.
Thank you for listening and for your insightful