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Wafa Sultan's Attacks Will Not Bring Positive Change

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Hatalles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-20-06 07:44 PM
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Wafa Sultan's Attacks Will Not Bring Positive Change
Wafa Sultan's Attacks Will Not Bring Positive Change

By Zuriani 'Ani' Zonneveld

When Dr. Wafa Sultan demanded respect from a Muslim cleric after being called a heretic, I cheered her on. When she criticized the Muslims who react violently in typical knee-jerk fashion, I was smiling with glee. And she nailed it when she said Muslims should learn from the example of the Jewish community who command world respect with their accomplishments despite decades of anti-Semitism and the decimation of the Holocaust. How could anyone disagree with that?

But when Dr. Sultan is quoted in a recent interview as saying Islam is beyond repair, riddled with teachings that exhort Muslims to kill non-Muslims, subjugate women, and disregard human rights; when she says "I don't believe you can reform Islam," and that the only reason the vast majority of the world's Muslim population is peaceful is because they can't read Arabic and don't know what the Quran teaches, that's when I stop cheering.

I'm a practicing Muslim. I'm peaceful. I don't have any intention of killing off non-Muslims, and I don't believe my religion asks me to.

In fact, Islam teaches me to value every life, and that murder of Muslims or of non-Muslims is wrong. And there are about 1.2 billion of us who agree with me.

What is it with people? Why can't so-called intelligent people make the distinction between theology and human nature? Muslims throughout the world read the Quran and find a message of peace, of social justice, and of compassion and care for all people. They are inspired by verses regarding the equality of all human beings, and particularly the equality of men and women, to eradicate misogynist, racist, and classist discrimination. Is it Islam's fault that human beings are cruel, sexist, or violent, or is it the fault of human beings, who all too often ignore the teachings of their religion?

Dr. Sultan says, "Islamic scriptures are riddled with violence, misogyny and other extremist ideas." When she quotes snippets of Quranic verses dealing with warfare out of context and in isolation, then she is doing exactly what the militants who use the very same snippets to justify their actions do distorting the message of the Quran. How is that going to reform anyone's mind?

There are so many Muslims in America challenging unjust cultural traditions, confronting the established American Muslim institutions in religious practice, and calling for a humane implementation of Islam. The Progressive Muslim Union is one such organized entity. It is considered a pariah by some Muslim organizations because of its insistence that a woman's spirituality is equal to that of a man, its advocacy for the human and civil rights for all, its unwavering commitment to the separation of church and state, and its promotion of freedom of conscience and religious practice.

Why are these progressive Muslims not on the front pages of American newspapers and news channels? Why aren't non-Muslim organizations throwing money at progressive groups if change within Islam is what they claim to be advocating? What is it about Dr. Wafa Sultan that so intrigues the American media? Is it because she is an ex-Muslim "tattle-taleing" on her "people?" Is it because she has rejected a religion which many in this country have branded as "the enemy?" Or is it simply because she's a feisty, gutsy, woman? If it's the latter, I can introduce you to many feisty, gutsy Muslim women who believe that reform is best achieved from within. We're not that boring you know!
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ayeshahaqqiqa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-23-06 03:52 PM
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1. You see this attitude even here
Many many times I find comments in general discussion threads chastising Islam and saying that the only Muslims who speak out are the extremists, therefore no moderate voices exist. I very kindly direct them to this group, and ask if they have ever come here and read some of the many posts by my brother and sister Muslims. There is usually no reply.

I agree that what is happening is a reverting to human/animal nature when people think only of revenge and of putting other people down. Religions teach us to rise above the nafs and to realize the Unity, which is best shown through acts of mercy and compassion. Those who say they can't figure out why any woman would want to be Muslim haven't talked with many Muslim women. As for taking snippets of the Qur'an to make an argument that is against the teaching of the Qur'an-I would say this is part of what human nature has been doing for a long while. My grandfather, a Christian, warned me about this practice when I was a little girl by telling me this story-"Did you know the Bible says to commit suicide? Oh yes it does. It says 'And Judas went out to a tree and hanged himself. Go thou and do likewise.'" He then explained that these two passages came from totally different parts of the New Testament, and to not trust those who would foster arguements by citing scripture out of context. He was a wise man.
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PsychoDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-26-06 12:08 PM
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2. Very good article.
I'm a practicing Muslim. I'm peaceful. I don't have any intention of killing off non-Muslims, and I don't believe my religion asks me to.


Thank you for posting this, this article by Zuriani 'Ani' Zonneveld echos the thoughts of many American Muslims very well.


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PsychoDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-14-06 10:04 PM
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3. Islam's Ann Coulter
Edited on Fri Jul-14-06 10:06 PM by PsychoDad
Found this recently, thought it would fit here :)

Islam's Ann Coulter

By Stephen Julius Stein, STEPHEN JULIUS STEIN is a rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, where he also directs inter-religious programming.
June 25, 2006

RECENTLY I WAS one of about 100 L.A. Jews invited to attend a fundraiser for a Jewish organization that seeks to counteract anti-Israel disinformation and propaganda. The guest speaker was Wafa Sultan, the Syrian American woman who in February gave a now legendary interview on Al Jazeera television, during which she said that "the Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations" and "I don't believe you can reform Islam."

Another surprising remark soon followed: "All Muslim women even American ones, though they won't admit it are living in a state of domination." Do they include my friend Nagwa Eletreby, a Boeing engineer and expert on cockpit controls, who did not seek her husband's permission to help me dress the Torah scroll? Or how about my friend Azima Abdel-Aziz, a New York University graduate who traveled to Israel with 15 Jews and 14 other Muslims and left her husband at home?

There is no subjugation in the homes of these and other American Muslim women I know. They are equal, fully contributing members of their families.

The more Sultan talked, the more evident it became that progress in the Muslim world was not her interest. Even more troubling, it was not what the Jewish audience wanted to hear about. Applause, even cheers, interrupted her calumnies.

In a world far too often dominated by politicians imbued with religious fundamentalism of all flavors Jewish, Christian, Muslim we need the thoughtfulness, self-awareness and subtlety that comes from progressive religious expression. We have that in Judaism, in Christianity and in Islam, right in our backyard. If only Sultan, applauded in many quarters yet miscast as a voice of reason and reform in Islam, were paying attention.

Please thank Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein by sending him an e-mail at

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