Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Delusions of Tarek Fatah

At the National Post recently, so-called "moderate Muslim" Tarek Fatah published an unbelievably dishonest op-ed slamming courageous Syrian ex-Muslim Wafa Sultan.

Fatah's piece followed a debate between Sultan and Daniel Pipes, to which Fatah was a witness, at a Toronto synagogue. Fatah says he was "deeply hurt" and "traumatised" by Sultan's comments, and that they were a clear example of "joining the ranks" of "Islam-haters".

And what was it that Sultan said that was so hateful? Well, first of all, she said that "Muhammad was a child rapist", and then that the Islamic Prophet was a "Jew killer". Further, adds Fatah, she "delivered an astonishing account of how the Prophet had slaughtered Jews and then raped the wife of the defeated Jewish tribe."

Our friend Tarek never once explains how it is hateful to say any of this, especially given the fact that all of the statements attributed to Sultan here are demonstrably true. According to the hadith, “[The Prophet] married 'Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consummated that marriage when she was nine years old.” (Bukhari v.5, b.58, no. 234, and others). Although embarrassed Muslims today try to deny that Aisha was nine when Muhammad had sex with her, there is overwhelming evidence in the hadith and other Islamic literature that this is exactly what happened. Obviously, most civilised people would classify a fifty-four year old man having sex with a nine year old girl as rape.

Similarly, the accounts of Muhammad slaughtering Jewish tribes and raping their women is recounted in the most pious Muslim sources about Muhammad's life. These tribes were the Banu Qurayza and the Jews of the Khaybar oasis. Muhammad's earliest biographer, Ibn Ishaq, describes the massacre of the Qurayza this way: “Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for [the men of Banu Qurayza] and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches.” Ibn Ishaq puts the number of men that Muhammad beheaded in this way at “600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.” The biographer then recounts that Muhammad "had chosen one of the women [of the Banu Qurayza] for himself, Rayhana d. 'Amr b. Khunafa...and she remained with him until she died, in his power." Again, it is not unreasonable to refer to this as rape. Would a woman whose people have just been annihilated willingly "get with" the man who oversaw their annihilation?

In the case of the Jews of Khaybar, after describing Muhammad "seiz[ing] the property piece by piece and conquer[ing] the forts one by one as he came to them,” Ibn Ishaq says that the Prophet "married" one of the Jewish women in a tent following the attack. Again, consent can be ruled out in this case, as the woman was the daughter of a man who Muhammad had earlier had tortured to death.

The point of all of this is simple: it can't be hateful for Wafa Sultan to say any of this if it is true. As a supposedly "secular" Muslim who upholds freedom of speech, Tarek Fatah should understand this.

But that's not all. Fatah approvingly quotes Sultan's oppent in the debate, Daniel Pipes, as saying that "The problem is not Islam, it is Islamism." Pipes has many good things to say about Islam and terrorism, but when he makes this distinction between Islam and "Islamism", he is simply wrong, for no such distinction actually exists. No orthodox, substantial school of thought exists in Islam that rejects the idea that Muslims must wage jihad against unbelievers for the purpose of imposing sharia law upon them. All the mainstream schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that such war is not only permitted, but obligatory. Again, if Wafa Sultan said this, Tarek Fatah cannot possibly charge her with "hate" unless he can demonstrate that what she says is false.

But Fatah really goes off the deep end when he claims that Sultan's overall view on Muslims is: "Force Muslims to convert or die." Journalist Joanne Hill, who was also at the event and recorded the entire thing, points out that in actual fact, "Dr. Sultan said nothing that would lead the listener to come to this conclusion."

For example, here is a verbatim quote from Sultan reproduced by Hill:

"Give them [Muslims] the freedom to choose: that's all I'm asking for. Give them the freedom to search, to ask, to be exposed to different sides, different values, different lifestyles. I can tell you from my very own experience, what has helped me to reform myself is being exposed to Western values and being free to express my conclusion. I always compare between my life under Islamic Sharia and my life as a free woman in America and I write about that on my website in Arabic. So when you expose people to different [sic], and you give them the freedom to choose, that's all we need in the Islamic world. I'm not asking [them] to convert to a different religion; I'm asking to grant them the freedom to choose, the freedom to be, to follow whatever path they want to follow. That's all."

There are more quotes from Sultan, which provide much-needed context to counter-balance Fatah's mindless screed, at the link above. You can also read Fatah's futile attempt to defend his original article in the comments field underneath Hill's piece.

This case demonstrates once again that those the media has dubbed - or who have dubbed themselves - as "moderate Muslims" simply cannot be relied upon to actually contribute towards the debate on Islam and jihad, or to seriously oppose, unambiguously and with concrete action, the jihadists who are supposedly "corrupting" their peaceful religion. When the moderate Muslim community is represented by individuals this dishonest and unreliable, it really speaks volumes about the state of Islam itself.

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