A Reply to a Fearfully Concerned Muslim Friend
But the question remains -- what about Islam? I know there are moderate Muslims, many of them wonderful people that I have met, like you and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. I assume there are hundreds of thousands more. The man on the street in Muslim countries has been perfectly civil, sometimes even delightful, to me when I have met him in my travels.
But is there a moderate Islam? I have to confess that I have my doubts. Islam feels very different to me from other religions I have encountered -- from Christianity (which, at least doctrinally, “renders unto Caesar what is Caesar's”), Hinduism, Buddhism, Bahai, etc. None of them attacked me as a Jew or sought to put me in a position of dhimmitude. (I know this was wildly different in even the recent past, but I have been privileged in my lifetime.)
Islam appears to me less as a religion than as a system of world domination, dividing, as it does, the Dar al-Harb and the Dar al-Islam. And unlike that other, now relatively defunct, system of world domination, communism, it offers its adherents an afterlife. That makes Islam potentially more alluring and less destructible, ultimately more dangerous. Marx's promised “withering away of the state” isn’t much compared to an eternity of virgins.
Islam also seems to me a system designed and built for the suppression of women. As I recall, Salim, we sat together at a banquet in Los Angeles a few years ago when Salman Rushdie was the keynote speaker. The author gave an extensive rundown of the history of Mohammed’s attack on the mother cults, which seemed to lead, almost inexorably, to the reprehensible misogynistic dictums of Sharia law we all know today.
What do we do with all this? Can Islam really be reformed? Unlike the Bible, a series of tales told by various parties, the Koran is supposedly the verbatim dictation of Allah to Mohammed and not subject to revision, self-contradictory though it may be.
Granted that the West is weak and corrupt, but how do you, how do we, fight this? I quite understand the reactions of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan who simply washed their hands of the whole thing and became atheists. But few human beings have their courage, especially when, as recently reported by Pew, some 85% of Egyptians still believe an apostate from Islam must be killed. And this is Egypt, land of the most recent great reform.
Well, enough. I’ve already thrown too much in your lap for one letter. Some friend I am.
I promise you, though, I do mean well. I want to believe in moderate Islam. But from where I sit, I see it all going the other way, from Turkey to Yemen and back. If it only were just the West’s fault...
All the best,