Monday, 13 April 2009

A Ray of Sunshine to Penetrate the Gloom of the Mainstream Media?

I have had a letter published today in the Daily Mail.

I wrote it in response to "Imam Hussein" of Brighton (I think), who last week wrote a letter to the Mail espousing the usual sanitised version of Islam which we have come to expect in the mainstream media. These days, even the so-called "right-wing" Daily Mail is terrified of publishing more critical views of Islam. That's why I'm really surprised - and somewhat delighted - that my response to Imam Hussein was published.

There is no online version of the Mail's letters page that I'm aware of, so below I've reproduced the letter. In the paper itself, they cut a few things out, and anglicized some of the Arabic words (e.g. "Qur'an" became "Koran", etc), but since that version isn't available online I'm going to reproduce the exact text of the original email I sent them.

Let's hope this isn't the last time the politically correct an deceitful tropes of "moderate" Muslims are challenged in the mainstream media.

Imam Hussein's letter (Mail, April 8) presents a dishonest and whitewashed picture of the religion of Islam which, in these times, needs to be challenged if we are to have serious debate on these issues.

He states that the Prophet Muhammad would disapprove of honour killings, but does not mention that the Qur'an denies women equality of rights when it comes to inheritance and legal testimony, and even encourages Muslim men to beat their disobediant wives (sura 4:34). He also does not mention that the Qur'an's peaceful verses are seen by traditional Islamic authorities as having been abrogated by its more warlike verses, which command eternal warfare against Jews and Christians until they submit to Islamic authority.

Moreover, he makes reference to the so-called "greater jihad", but does not mention that the theological basis for this concept is weak, as it does not appear in any of the collections of Muhammad's sayings that are generally considered most reliable by Muslim scholars.

I am glad that Mr. Hussein subscribes to a peaceful understanding of Islam. However, there will never be any success with the kind of honest debate he is calling for until peaceful Muslims begin to acknowledge that what they call "radical" Islam is actually supported by orthodox Muslim authorities, and is the version of Islam that has been taught for centuries by many of the greatest Muslim scholars and thinkers throughout history, including the modern era.

Until Muslims begin to be a bit more honest with themselves and others, violence and oppression in the name of Islam will continue.

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