A letter for Bill Maher from Rabia Chaudry

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014


THE West (I mean the US and UK) are discussing again Islam and the Muslims on the news, social media, and the different sites on the internet. This is simply because in Nigeria, a group of radical Muslims or militant Nigerians who is known as Boko Haram, have caused their country series of bombings, assassinations, and just recently an abductions of at least two hundred innocent girls. Based on the news, they are doing this in order to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.

Time and again, the West have its ways of discussing Islam based on the views of the Islamist and radicalists Muslims. When I say "West", this describes the non Muslims who in one way or another sees Islam through the eyes and lens of these radical Muslims. Then, they generalize all Muslims as being like that.

Take the case of Bill Maher. Bill is a well known American talk show host that clearly speaks about his liberal views at the expense of Islam and the American Muslims who are trying their best to live peacefully in their country. Most of the American Muslims are immigrants coming from Africa, Asia, and some parts of the Middle East.

There are also Americans who converted to Islam because they see, experiences, and learned the values of Islam as a religion of peace, which has similar foundation as that of Christianity and Judaism.

One recent article I read in Time was the open letter of Rabia Chaudry. Rabia is an attorney and the founder and president of the Safe Nation Collaborative. "She is a civically engaged legal practitioner with significant experience in immigration law, civil liberties, social justice, interfaith relations, nonprofit management, and grassroots advocacy. She is a graduate of the George Mason School of Law, has over a decade of experience in federal immigration and civil rights law." (http://www.safenationcollaborative.com/about/)

Her open letter was well written and direct to the point. She presented logical way of disarming Bill Maher's attack on Islam and the Muslims. In the letter she said, "[L]et’s ignore for now the numerous logical fallacies in your premise and instead follow your exact line of reasoning. If we are to accept your rationale, we have to also accept that, if many Muslims are doing good things around the world, and they all believe in Islam, then Islam is responsible for the good that they do.

Furthermore, "[F]or the sake of argument, and being as generous as possible, let’s say Islam has been a force of destruction for 50percent of Muslims and a source of empowerment, peace and comfort for the other 50percent. Where exactly does that leave us? Whose experience of Islam is legitimate? If Boko Haram is, in your estimation, an authentic expression of Islam, what do you make of the hundreds of Nigerian Muslim families who were sending their daughters to school? Why isn’t their dedication, like Malala Yousafzai’s dedication, to girls’ education an authentic expression of Islam? What do you deduct from the fact most Muslim women in the world are not circumcised? Are they just doing Islam wrong? Are all the good, peaceful Muslims doing Islam wrong?"

She then also discussed the way women in Islam are treated and were treated throughout the history. She said, "[Y]ou noted that women are treated at best like second-class citizens, but most often like property in Islam. The first Muslim woman, Khadijahbint Khuwaylid, a successful businesswoman, boss-lady and wife to the Prophet Muhammad, and the other Muslim women of his time would have snickered at you. Women of the region were chattel before Islam, treated and traded as such, until the Quran freed them through revelations such as “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will.”

Not known to many of us, "Islam was the first system to establish women’s property rights, inheritance rights, the right to education, to marry and divorce of their free will, to be religious scholars, business owners, soldiers. I could tell you that while Christianity was debating the status of women’s souls and declaring them a source of sin, Islam had already established authoritatively the spiritual equality of men and women and absolved Eve, and womankind at large, of sin. I could tell you that the world and history is full of highly educated, successful Muslim women who are empowered by their faith, not debilitated by it. I could tell you terrorism is categorically forbidden in Islam, and that between 1970 and 2012, 97.5percent of terror attacks in the U.S. were carried out by non-Muslims. I could tell you that female genital mutilation is never mentioned in the Quran; the only reference to it is found in a weak narration, and scholars find it objectionable to the point of being classified as impermissible".(Chaudry, 2014)

Rabia could not help it but say the fact, which I certainly agree with her, that Bill is full of bigotry. Nothing that any right minded Muslim will ever convince him of the facts about Islam. Given all the information and knowledge generated by the different universities here and abroad about Islam, and all the studies about Muslims and our cultural differences, there will be people who will not care at all that they are demonizing other faith and other religions. Time and again, Islam has been a victim of this phenomenon throughout the years.

Yes. We are aware of the people like Boko Haram and all the radical Muslims. They are our(meaning humanity) problem. And we cannot deal with them properly when we generalize Islam and make Islam viewed the way Bill Maher have done with the Muslims. We deal with Boko Haram and the rest of terrorists and extremists as criminals and bandits. Thus, the rule of law will properly take its way of giving justice to their victims.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 14, 2014.

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