In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
Syndicated columnist and radio host Larry Elder recently published an interview (split into Part I and Part II) with Brigitte Gabriel, an American journalist of Lebanese descent. It is just astounding to me that someone as respected as Larry Elder would interview a so-called “expert” on Islam such as Ms. Gabriel.
Her interview is full of sweeping indictments and generalizations about Islam and Muslims. She is exactly like Wafa Sultan, Ayan Hirsi Ali, and others. In fact, it seems as if she has taken the very same accusations against Islam from the very same playbook as everyone else who loves to bash Islam for the sins of a few Muslims.
Now, my heart goes out to her if what she says about her experience as a child during the civil war in Lebanon is indeed true. No child should have to live through war, be they in Beirut, or Tel Aviv, or Ramallah, or Gaza City, or Darfur, or Baghdad, to name just a few. Yet, to conclude that the religion of Islam is all about hatred and killing is extremely irresponsible.
When asked by Mr. Elder if she studied Islam, she replied: “No, I did not study Islam; I lived Islam. I lived in the Middle East. I read the Koran in the Arabic language — I do not need translation. There is something about living in a place and being an eyewitness and coming from a culture and blowing the whistle on that culture, and that is very different from someone majoring in Islam and living in the Middle East for two months so they can write their thesis.“
As a result of her “living Islam,” she concludes that: “Not all of them [Muslims] are radicals. We estimate that the radicals are between 15 and 25 percent; that translates to between 180 and 300 million people like Mohammad Atta who are willing to strap bombs to their bodies and commit martyrdom operations. Now, that is still a minority, 15 to 25 percent, but 300 million Mohammad Attas ready to unleash their blood upon the West. . . . Now, the rest of them . . . despise the West, they hate our westernization, they think we are morally corrupt, that we are corrupting the world, and they think we are such a bad influence on the world that we need to be stopped at any cost. They may not be willing to commit martyrdom operations themselves, but they will sit there and cheer on and rally those who are willing to kill us.“
That is very interesting. From where did she get this figure of 15-25% of Muslims are “radical”? And what is even more interesting, the rest of the “non-radical” Muslims are cheerleaders for the radicals…aiders and abettors because they all “despise the West, hate our westernization, they think we are morally corrupt, that we are corrupting the world, and they think we are such a bad influence on the world that we need to be stopped at any cost.”
All this she learned by “living Islam” during the terrible time of the Lebanese civil war. But wait, it gets even better.
Ms. Gabriel doesn’t think all Muslims are “radicals.” No. She makes an important distinction. When asked whether there are moderate Muslims, she replied:
“Yes. . . . I call it a practicing Muslim and a non-practicing Muslim. I think it is a better description than “moderate” and “radical.” A practicing Muslim goes to mosque, prays five times a day, doesn’t drink, believes God gave him women to be his property — to beat, to stone to death. . . . He believes Christians and Jews are apes and pigs because they are cursed by Allah. He believes it is his duty to declare war on the infidels because they are Allah’s enemies. That is a practicing Muslim. A non-practicing Muslim no longer goes to mosque or prays five times a day, has an occasional glass of wine and believes that a woman is equal to a man. . . . He believes he cannot murder his wife just because he wants to. He does not believe in taking four wives just for sexual pleasure. . . . He no longer believes that, as a Muslim, it is his duty to kill the apes and pigs that have been cursed by Allah. A non-practicing Muslim is educated, an intellectual who believes the Koran — written in the 7th century — doesn’t apply to today’s standards, and Islam needs to be reformed. Those Muslims do exist and live in the West. However, they are such a minority — we estimate about 2 percent — they are irrelevant because it is the majority that is causing the problem now.”
Very interesting. I am a practicing Muslim – I pray five times a day, don’t drink, don’t eat pork, fast during the month of Ramadan, pay my Zakah – but I don’t believe that God gave me women to be “my property” to beat or stone to death. I could never even fathom any sort of harm to my wife or any other woman. She is the greatest blessing God has ever bestowed upon me. I have spoken out against the crimes against women being committed in some parts of the Muslim world today.
I am a practicing Muslim, but I don’t believe Christians and Jews are “apes and pigs that have been cursed by Allah.” Quite the contrary, I have vehemently spoken out against using Islamic texts to hate Christians and Jews. I do not believe the Jews are “apes and pigs,” as some Muslims wrongly claim. I believe that a woman is wholly and completely equal to a man, and I do not even need “an occasional glass of wine” to believe so. I have never believed – and will never believe – that one can murder his wife “because he wants to.”
I am a practicing Muslim, and I would not even consider taking on a second wife (I am very blessed to have the one God gave me right now), let alone four wives “just for sexual pleasure.” Most Muslim men would also never take a second wife. I have clearly shown that there is no basis for the claim that Muslims are supposed to kill, in her words, “the apes and pigs that have been cursed by Allah.”
I am a practicing Muslim, and I believe that the Qur’an – revealed in the 7th Century by God – must be re-interpreted in light of modern times and circumstances. In fact, I know plenty of “practicing Muslims” – better practicing than me – that believe the same things as I do. Moreover, we are the overwhelming majority, not the 2% (again, from where did she get this statistic?) “irrelevant” minority.
My beliefs, as well as those of the practicing Muslim majority, stem from the very fact that I am a practicing Muslim; that I do pray five times a day; that I don’t drink alcohol; that I do go to the mosque on Fridays to observe the weekly Friday prayers (the “Muslim mass” if you will). My religion teaches me to believe these things.
In fact, Ms. Gabriel’s math, in distinguishing between the “moderates” and the “radicals” simply doesn’t add up. At first she claims the radicals are between “15 and 25 percent” of all Muslims. The “moderate, non-practicing Muslims” are only 2%. That leaves, worst, 73% of Muslims who are…what? “Practicing moderates”? Doesn’t she contradict herself here?
What’s more, Ms. Gabriel claims: “We have terrorists coming through our borders. Al Qaeda is working with the MS-13 gang [El Salvadorian gang Mara Salvatrucha], smuggling al Qaeda terrorists into the country. Hezbollah is doing the same. . . . We estimate thousands have already been smuggled into America. . . . Hamas is here. . . . They have cells in over 40 states.”
Those claims are dubious at best. Still, even if true, what is her solution to this problem?
She says: “We need to monitor who is coming into our country and why. . . . We need to increase human intelligence. . . .To get that human element that gets you the information, it takes years to establish trust with the enemy in order to get the secrets out of them. . . . “
That makes sense.
But she also said: “As for profiling, I want everyone who fits the terrorist profile to be profiled. We have men between the ages of 16 and 40 who have committed terrorist acts around the world in the name of Islam. They are not little old ladies from Ohio with blue hair. They are not children going to Disney World on their Easter vacation.”
Yet, that would also mean profiling people…like her! There have been female suicide bombers in the Middle East. If we are to profile all those who “fit the terrorist profile,” that would mean stopping her for “increased scrutiny,” for she is a woman of Middle Eastern descent. What would she say then?
The bottom line is this: yes, there are criminals among Muslims who kill in the name of religion. That terrible reality does not mean all of Islam is evil or violent. It is not correct to indict all Muslims for the sins of the few, just as it was not right for Syed Qutb to indict all of American (and Western) society based upon the two years he spent living in America. Yes, the neo-kharijite Al Qaeda do hate us, that is a fact. But, based upon Ms. Gabriel’s comments about Islam, is it also true that she hates as well?