ANDREW BOSTOM:AAFIA SIDDIQUI VS. AYAAN HIRSI ALI….SHARIA VS. FREEDOM
Aafia Siddiqui Versus Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Sharia Versus Freedom
My colleagues Phyllis Chesler  and Diana West  have just written two important, complementary assessments which eviscerate journalist Deborah Scroggins’ recently published, Wanted Women: Faith, Lies and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui. Chesler and West mince no words in their discussions of Scroggins’ oeuvre, appropriately highlighting the book’s intellectually and morally cretinous argumentation. Ms. Scroggins diatribe cum “analysis” excoriates the intrepid former Dutch Parliamentarian and Muslim freethinker, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, while providing a Leftist claptrap “blame the West,” sympathetic portrayal of the Sharia-compliant, pious Muslim jihadist, Siddiqui.
As revealed by Chesler and West, Scroggins’ work epitomizes disturbing trends I examine in my forthcoming Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: Western self-loathing, accompanied by thoroughly uninformed, treacly apologetics on Islam and its quintessential, totalitarian religio-political code, Sharia. For example, Diana West  points out how Scroggins chastises Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “simplistic” views on Islam for ignoring two ostensible avatars of “Islamic modernism”—the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazhir Bhutto, and Sudanese religious “reformer,” Mahmoud Muhammad Taha. But Scroggins ignorant attack simply confirms the author’s willful blindness and hostility to the mea-culpa based, wrenching reforms of Islam Ayaan and other true modernists from Muslim backgrounds are rightfully insistent upon. Taha was at best a dishonest tinkerer; Bhutto far worse.
Taha’s defining work, “The Second Message of Islam ” is readily available in an English translation by his fawning acolyte, and Islamic Sharia-promoting apologist, Abdullah an-Naim. Taha proclaims these bowdlerized pieties (in “The Second Message of Islam ”) on Islam’s violent Medinan emergence as a polity:
Islam used persuasion for thirteen years in propagating its clearly valid message…When the addressees failed to discharge properly the[ir] duties…the Prophet was appointed as their guardian…once they embraced the new religion [i.e., by coercion]…the sword was suspended…and [they] were penalized according to new laws. Hence the development of Islamic Shari’a law…
And Taha further had the temerity to compare the jihad-genocide waging historical “sword of Islam” to a surgeon’s scalpel—an unconscionable immoral equivalence to this physician:
In justifying the use of the sword, we may describe it as a surgeon’s lancet, and not a butcher’s knife…We [the Muslims] have enacted fighting with the sword in order to curtail the freedom of those who abuse it, so the sword brings them to their senses, thereby allowing them to earn their freedom and benefit from their life [note: “freedom as perfect slavery to Allah”, the Sufi notion of Ibn Arabi, perhaps? ]
But Taha’s true sentiments towards non-Muslim infidels are in the end, not concealed from anyone who cares to look. He in fact justifies—consistent with mainstream Islamic jurisprudence—their historical subjugation by violent jihad:
Suffering death by the sword in this life is really an aspect of suffering hell in the next life, since both are punishments for disbelief…for the disbelievers the law of war, and hardship of iron.
Ashok Pandit’s moving documentary “And the World Remained Silent ”, chronicles in gory detail the brutal ethnic cleansing of some 350,000 indigenous Hindus from Kashmir during early 1990, orchestrated by Pakistan and it’s “moderate” Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Focus on the time period 2:30 to 4:30  minutes, and witness the jihadist speech  of the late, much ballyhooed “modernist reformer” Ms. Bhutto. Moreover as noted by jihad terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky (in his prescient 1999 biography of Osama Bin Laden ), Bhutto’s return to power in the fall of 1993, despite her “façade of pro-Western and pro-democracy rhetoric,” coincided, not surprisingly, with,
Pakistan’s growing involvement in both the escalation of the war by proxy in Kashmir and the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, two movements that still provide shelter to bin Laden [written in 1999, and alas still true today!]…Bhutto’s rise to power, especially in view of her pro-democracy rhetoric, would relax the Western guard so that at least for a while Pakistan would be able to acquire the necessary items…including spare parts for U.S.-made weapons…before a tightening embargo was reimposed….Despite her rhetoric, Bhutto seemed genuinely convinced that the future of Pakistan lay with the Iranian-led Islamic bloc and its activist anti-US posture. By the end of 1993, after her round of visits to Beijing, Pyongyang, and Tehran, Bhutto clearly demonstrated her determination to implement these policies and realize this strategic posture as soon as possible. Markedly increasing Paksitan’s participation in the Islamist international terrorist system was an integral part of Bhutto’s new strategy.
Benazir Bhutto was a jihadist, plain and simple; the head of what remains a jihadist state, Pakistan.
Phyllis Chesler  highlights the following salient, irrefragable details about Aafia Siddiqui whom Scroggins views with completely undeserved sympathy:
Siddiqui, “Lady Al Qaeda,”…is now in prison for attempting to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan for al-Qaeda. In 2003, the FBI “named her as the only known female operative of al-Qaeda.” In 2010, Siddiqui, a devout Muslim and a Brandeis-educated Pakistani, was sentenced to 86 years in jail.
And Chesler  concludes with apposite trenchancy:
Scroggins does not care as much about the lethal sexism that Hirsi Ali decries as she does about the Muslim right to colonize the West, face-veil its women, censor, sue, even murder Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents, and convert infidels by the sword.
The final section of Sharia Versus Freedom is entitled, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Sharia?”, and it includes extensive discussion of genuine Islamic reformers—intellectually honest and courageous souls like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq. My discussion of Ayaan, relative to other “popular” Western Muslim pseudo-reformers—which illustrates how her unapologetic approach identified the problem of Sharia-based Muslim abuse of women in the Netherlands, leading to concrete efforts to address this scourge—is reproduced below:
Hirsi Ali: The Empowered Apostate
(Annotated and edited version of an essay originally published in The American Thinker, May 27, 2005)
Leaving Islam can be hazardous. Apostasy is a capital crime in a number of Islamic countries. But even in elite conservative circles in the United States, there is a tendency to dismiss or at least ignore some important former Muslims who have a lot to teach us about their former faith, as we face an era in which religious war on the West has been declared by radical Islam.
Two years ago, following a modest Washington, DC area reception celebrating the release of Leaving Islam,1 a compilation of Ibn Warraq’s own brilliant essays, and poignant, harrowing testimonials from other ex-Muslim “apostates,” I received a disturbing communication from a former admirer and supporter of Warraq’s work (particularly the seminal, Why I Am Not A Muslim 2) who attended the same event. This individual dismissed Warraq’s unique and important collection on apostasy in Islam, because Warraq (and by extension, all Muslim apostates) was (were), “…no longer in the game.” It was astonishing to hear such a glib assessment from a conservative intellectual and self-appointed doyen (subsequently, government-appointed) examining Islamic terrorism. The pernicious effect of this mindset—apparently quite pervasive among the lemming-like denizens of the most influential Washington, DC area conservative “think tanks”—was reinforced during Warraq’s dismissive small audience (composed entirely of self-important, self-appointed doyens) at perhaps the pre-eminent Institute of this ilk. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s rise to prominence as an openly avowed Muslim apostate Parliamentarian in the Netherlands—both before, and most decidedly after the murder 3 of her colleague, Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh—demonstrates that it is completely misguided to dismiss the profound intellectual and sociopolitical contributions courageous apostates can make to both the public discourse, and specific policy initiatives, regarding Islam.
Four recently published interviews 4 of Somalia-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali provide an informative overview of her evolution—from a teenage Islamic school—educated supporter of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, to an asylum—seeking refugee in the Netherlands in her early 20s (in 1992), and now, a courageous Dutch Parliamentarian (since January 2003) dedicated to the defense of the core Western values (i.e., such as true freedom of conscience) embodied in modern human rights constructs.
Shortly after completing her studies in political science at Leiden University, Hirsi Ali was hired as a researcher for the Dutch Labor Party, and assigned to write a brief on immigration. She stunned her Labor colleagues by making blunt recommendations that were a frontal assault on established multicultural taboos: shut down all 41 Islamic schools; curb immigration; and radically alter Article 23 of the Dutch constitution (which embraced the multicultural orthodoxy by sanctioning the creation of separate schools and cultural institutions for distinct religious groups).
Disillusioned with the Dutch left, Hirsi Ali joined the opposition VVD party in 2002, and by September 2002, also publicly “apostasized” from Islam—an action which precipitated death threats against her. Ibn Warraq’s unique compilation and analysis of apostate testimonies highlights the courage of such a public declaration: 5
…for a free discussion of Islam remains rare and dangerous, certainly in the Islamic world, and even in our politically correct times in the West…Apostasy is still punishable by long prison sentences and even death in many Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Iran…
The fact that Hirsi Ali’s declaration elicited murderous threats in the Netherlands—in the heart of Western Europe—where, as Warraq notes, 6 “…one talks of being a “lapsed Catholic” or “nonpracticing Christian” rather than an ‘apostate.’ [and] There are certainly no penal sanctions for converting from Christianity to any…superstitious flavor of the month, from New Ageism to Islam….” underscores the serious erosion of Europe’s core values under its new Islamized Eurabian 7 sociopolitical ethos.
Combining lucid intellectual and experience-based understanding with rare valor, uncompromised by politically correct apologetics, Hirsi Ali has made explicit the threat that orthodox Islam (as she stated, “The problem is the Prophet and the Koran” 8)—not “Islamism”—poses to the Western civilization she has come to cherish, and staunchly defend. She identifies the core Muslim texts—Koran, hadith, sira—their codification into Islamic Law (i.e., Shari’a), and the orthodox interpretation of this sacralized literature by seminal Muslim jurists—noting Ibn Taymiyya’s “pure” Islamic exegesis, 9 specifically—as being responsible for the incompatibility between Islamic and Western values. In particular, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 versus the Shari’a-based Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam 11 (Cairo, 1990).
The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam included the triumphal statement that the Shari’a has primacy over the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the specific proclamation that God has made the umma (Islamic community) the best nation [citing Koran 3:110], whose role is to “guide” humanity. 12 This formulation captures the indelible influence of the uniquely Islamic institutions of jihad and dhimmitude 13 on the Shari’a, rendering sacred and permanent the notion of inequality between the community of Allah, and the infidels—reiterated in the Cairo Declaration.
Hirsi Ali’s response to the standard non-sequitur apologetic about the putative existence of, “different Islams”, is unequivocal: 14
No that is an erroneous idea. If one defines Islam as the religion founded by Muhammad and explained by the Koran and later by hadiths, there is only one Islam that dictates the moral framework.
Finally, she concludes that true reform of Islam, to render it compatible with modern human rights standards, must include criticism of both its core sacred text, and founder: 15
You cannot liberalize Islam without criticizing the Prophet and the Koran…You cannot redecorate a house without entering inside.
As a VVD Parliamentarian since 2002, Hirsi Ali’s major legislative focus has been on women’s issues: drawing up legislation, which was subsequently enacted, to improve enforcement of the statute against female genital mutilation [a practice sanctioned by hadith 16]; working to assure better enforcement of laws protecting women from “honor killings’,” a particular problem among Turkish Muslim immigrants in Europe 17; and drafting a position paper about the economic integration of women. Her outspoken positions on matters apart from women’s issues include: urging intensive oversight of new Muslim schools before they are accredited; supporting the US-lead coalition’s invasion of Iraq; and raising sober concerns about Turkey’s candidacy for EU membership (which she characterizes as a “big gamble” for Europeans). 18
It is quite illuminating to juxtapose Hirsi Ali’s unapologetic arguments, and her concrete legislative agenda based upon those principles, with the views and “achievements” of “moderate” Muslims championed by U.S. media and policymaking elites, across the political spectrum. Four prominent examples will suffice.
Conservative elites have promoted, most notably, Suleyman Ahmad Stephen Schwartz [SASS] and Khaleel Muhammad [KM], while liberal elites have embraced Irshad Manji [IM] and Khaled Abou El Fadl [KAEF]. Despite certain disagreements between them, what these individuals unfortunately share is a persistent avoidance or absolute denial of the need to challenge and alter institutions intrinsic to Islam—to the Shari’a. Instead, they blame so—called ‘distorted’ interpretations of a theological—juridical system they deem completely compatible with modern human rights constructs, and normal international and inter—communal relations. The logical conclusion of their arguments is the absurd notion that jihad war, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude (which only IM of the four ‘moderates’ even acknowledges, albeit fleetingly) are ‘distortions’ of basic Islamic dogma.
Below, I have summarized a series of their specific views on critical issues. The dismaying opinions range from denying altogether, to ignoring or trivializing: 19
- · Jihad war— denied (KAEF); ignored/trivialized (SASS, KM); trivialized (IM)
- · Dhimmitude— denied (KAEF, SASS, KM); trivialized (IM)
- · Acknowledgement of specific Judenhass motifs in Islam, i.e., from Koranic and other sacred text sources, and/or Islamic Law: denied (KAEF, SASS, KM); ignored (IM)
- · Incompatibility of the Shari’a with modern human rights constructs: denied by KAEF who endorses the Shari’a as a model under which all human beings should live!; ignored (SASS, KM, IM)
- · Views on Europe’s Islamization, and the “Eurabia” phenomenon: All four imply or state explicitly that the mere discussion of this matter is tantamount to ‘racism.’ IM favors continued mass Muslim immigration into Europe and blames their lack of assimilation on European xenophobia. She completely ignores the role of irredentist Islamic precepts—promoted in many of these Muslim immigrant communities—which direct believers not to assimilate within societies outside the jurisdiction of Sharia law.
Moreover, while constantly engaged in self-promotional activities, the four enlightened moderate Muslim “reformers” conspicuously avoided involving themselves in any substantive way with these noble efforts:
- The broad coalition to raise awareness of, and opposition to, the jihad genocide and mass enslavement of black South Sudanese Christians and animists, by the Muslim Arab Khartoum government, from 1983—2002.
- Opposition to the 1990 Cairo Declaration (i.e, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam), particularly, its threat to article 18 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protecting freedom of conscience.
- Opposition to the establishment of Shari’a courts in Canada
In stark contrast, despite repeated death threats which mandate 24-hour protection, clandestine living arrangements, and a virtually non—existent social life, Hirsi Ali remains, as described aptly by journalist Christopher Caldwell, 20
…a democracy campaigner for whom the role of an ordinary democratic citizen is off limits…Hers is a big heroic life that moves her fellow citizens but now gets lived mostly in locked rooms and bulletproof cars.
Hirsi Ali, condemned Muslim ‘apostate’, and intrepid politician committed to maintaining the democratic vitality of her adopted Dutch society, epitomizes the powerful, effective voice Ibn Warraq foresaw in Leaving Islam. 21 Recalling The God that Failed, 22 a collection of testimonial essays by ex-Communist intellectuals and their warnings about the all—encompassing oppression of body and spirit intrinsic to Soviet-style Communism, Warraq noted that the accounts of these ex-Communist “Cassandras” appeared eerily similar to the ex-Muslim apostates whose testimonies he had compiled. Warraq concluded, 23
Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment…unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy. And these ex-Muslims…on the side of Western Democracy, are the only ones who know what it is all about, and we would do well to listen to their Cassandra cries.
Hirsi Ali’s practical efforts in the Netherlands mirror the strategies outlined by Warraq in a thoughtful essay about reform (somewhat ironically) of Middle Eastern Muslim societies. She clearly shares the unapologetic views about the obstacles to such reform presented by Islam itself, which Warraq characterized as follows: 24
There are some (I believe, misguided) liberal Muslims who deny any such transformation is necessary, that Islam need not be marginalized for liberty to flourish. These liberals often argue that the real Islam is compatible with liberal democracy, that the real Islam is feminist, that the real Islam is egalitarian, that the real Islam tolerates other religions and beliefs, and so on. They then proceed to some truly creative re—interpretation of the embarrassing, intolerant and misogynist verses of the Koran. But intellectual honesty demands that we reject just such dishonest tinkering with the Koran’s text, which, while it may be open to some re—interpretation, is not infinitely elastic. The truth is there is no real difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism — at most there is a difference of degree, but not of kind. There are moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. All the tenets of so—called Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Koran, the Sunna, and the Hadith — the defining texts of Islam — and elaborated in intimate detail by the classical Muslim jurists from all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, as well as by Shi’ite jurists. The only solution is to bring the questions of human rights out of the religious sphere and into the sphere of the civil state, in other words to separate religion from the state and promote a secular state where Islam is relegated to the personal. Here, Islam would continue to provide consolation, comfort, and meaning, as it has to millions of individuals for centuries, yet it would not decree the mundane affairs of state.
It is also apparent from her own statements and actions that Hirsi Ali agrees with Warraq’s assessment, summarized below, about the crucial need to encourage scholarly criticism of the Koran, in particular, and more generally, to promote secular education emphasizing critical thought: 25
First, we who live in the free West and enjoy freedom of expression and scientific inquiry should encourage a rational look at Islam, should encourage Koranic criticism. Only Koranic criticism can help Muslims to look at their Holy Scripture in a more rational and objective way, and prevent young Muslims from being fanaticized by the Koran’s less tolerant verses. It does not make sense to lament the lack of a reformation in Islam, and at the same time boycott books like Why I am Not A Muslim nor to cry “Islamophobia” (or “fatwah!”) every time a critique of Islam is offered. Instead, political leaders, journalists and even scholars are bent on protecting the tender sensibilities of the Muslims. We are not doing Islam any favors by protecting it from Enlightenment values. … We can encourage rationality by secular education. This will mean the closing of religious madrassas where young children from poor families learn only the Koran by heart, learn the doctrine of Jihad — learn , in short, to be fanatics… What kind of education? My priority would be the wholesale rewriting of school texts, which at present preach intolerance of non-Muslims, particularly Jews. One hopes that education will encourage critical thinking and rationality. Again to encourage pluralism, I should like to see the glories of pre-Islamic history taught to all children.
Finally, we should consider this insightful warning from another Muslim secularist, Professor Reza Afshari, the preeminent historian of the human rights tragedy engendered by Iran’s return to its theocratic roots, 26 after a 50-year hiatus, in 1979: 27
What we have from liberal Muslims today are only ideological claims punctuated by expressed good intentions. A sector of the traditional custodians of religion, the ulema, politicizing Islam did come to power[in Iran]; therefore it is logical to assume what we faced in the 1980s and 1990s was the result of Shiite Islam (at least an authentic version of it) injecting itself into the politics of a contemporary state. They created a record of what the `culturally authentic’ rulers did…The issue is not Islam as a private faith of individuals. It is about what state officials claiming Islamic authority might have to say about the state’s treatment of citizens.
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