Friday, March 12, 2010

Au Contraire, Tarek

Joanne Hill, who covered the Pipes-Sultan debate for the Jewish Tribune, responds to Tarek Fatah's op-ed piece in the National Post.

10 comments:

Tigger said...

...whoever *she* is. Mostly she congratulates herself for being less "sensitive" than Tarek. But it was he who saved my province from sharia family courts. If she isn't going to show Tarek the respect he deserves then she should stfu.

Kab-bin-Ashraf said...

Tigger,

If by "she" you are referring to Dr. Wafa Sultan, she is a fairly well-known Syrian-born American ex-Muslim critic of Islam. She doesn't "congratulate herself" for being "less sensitive" than Tarek Fatah; nor is there any evidence that she is "less sensitive" than Tarek Fatah. She is telling people what the Islamic texts (Quran, Hadith, Sira) say in regards to Muslim men having sex with child brides, which Sultan rightly refers to as rape. This is still practiced legally in many Muslim countries. Fatah won't acknowledge that these reports and statements exist in the Islamic texts, or that this is practiced in some Islamic countries. Instead, he is either incredibly naive about this issue--which I don't believe that he is--or he is knowingly trying to deflect attention away from these terrible policies in order to protect the public image of Islam and Muhammad. Thus, he claims that Sultan is a "hate[ful]" "Islamophobe," but he refuses to address the problem that Sultan discusses, and refuses to admit what the Islamic texts say about this issue.

Tigger said...

I was referring to this Joanne Hill woman and citing her piece. But you will find that Tarek Fatah's record on pointing out abuse against women and children in the Muslim world is second to none. As to the specific question, his contention is that Aisha was probably not 9 years old, and therefore any attempt by Muslim men to justify child rape on such grounds is specious. You should read his book, "Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of a Muslim State".

FreedomofExpression said...

I haven't read all of Fatah's book which you (Tigger) describe, but I did read the parts about Ayesha (Aisha) and about rape. Fatah does not address the issue of Aisha's age explicitly, nor does he address how this is connected to the continued practice of Muslim men marrying child brides. He only mentions that Aisha was Muhammad's "young widow." He also does not mention that there is a Quranic verse (65:4) which assumes in a divorce ruling that Muslim men can be married to females who are not yet old enough to menstruate. (This interpretation is confirmed in the Hadith).

Regarding rape, Fatah claims it is Islamist's (e.g., Maududi) distortion or misunderstanding of "one verse" (4:24) in the Quran that has led to the idea that Muslim men can rape non-Muslim female captives and slaves. Fatah is minimizing and whitewashing the problem to dissociate it from Islam. In fact, there are multiple passages in the Quran that give Muslim men permission to have sex with their "right hand possessions" (non-Muslim female slaves and captives), and one of these passages (33:50-52) gives Muhammad permission to have sex with these female "right hand possessions." Fatah won't acknowledge that this is a mainstream interpretation; he does not even acknowledge that the verses exist. He will not acknowledge that much until someone else puts him on the spot--like what happened recently with Wafa Sultan. Fatah will then claim it's all a misunderstanding and a distortion, not genuine Islam, etc. Fatah has an obligation to tell his audience that he is only giving his own idiosyncratic interpretation, and that Muslims generally don't follow what he advocates. Polls and surveys indicate that most Muslims worldwide want sharia law.

FreedomofExpression said...

If Fatah wants to reject the extra-Quranic sources such as the Hadith, Sira, Tabari, etc., entirely, fine, but he can't then draw on those same sources to use indirect interpretation to put Ayesha's age at a level that is less alarming to modern western sensibilities. If he wants to make his argument, he has to be able to explain all those sahih hadiths that report that Ayesha was 9 when Muhammad "consummated" the marriage.

It's also important to keep in mind that Fatah was not taking Wafa Sultan to task by claiming he disagreed with her interpretation of the Hadith. He didn't address this issue originally; he just went ahead and accused her of "hate," "Islamophobia," etc., and he presented himself as astonished and shocked by Wafa Sultan's comments. But he shouldn't be shocked at all, because Sultan was making a judgement based on the widely-accepted, well-known, hadith-supported claim that Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl (which constitutes rape). Fatah, in his response to Joanne Hill's article, claimed that Wafa Sultan was "totally making up her story." This goes beyond merely misleading the public; Fatah is either incredibly ignorant, or he is deceiving the public about this.

Tarek Fatah may be pointing out abuse of women and girls in the Muslim world, but others (Muslims and non-Muslims) are doing far more about it. Fatah is not doing near as much as, for example, Irshad Manji, Sally Armstrong, et al. (I'm only mentioning this because you literally claimed Fatah was "second to none" in this regard!).

Fatah did not merely contend that Ayesha was "probably" 9 years old. He stated conclusively that "No," she was not (see his recent appearance with Michael Coren). Fatah is claiming that Ayesha was at minimum 14 and possibly up to 21 years of age. But there is no direct evidence from the Islamic texts that this is the case, and Fatah is relying on a seldom-used apologetic line of argument here. Most apologists know this is not sustainable, because there are multiple reports in the sahih hadith collections (Bukhari, Muslim, et al.) that report directly about Ayesha's age, including Ayesha herself!

If Fatah wants to reject the extra-Quranic sources such as the Hadith, Sira, Tabari, etc., entirely, fine, but he can't then draw on those same sources to use indirect interpretation to put Ayesha's age at a level that is less alarming to modern western sensibilities. If he wants to make his argument, he has to be able to explain all those sahih hadiths that report that Ayesha was 9 when Muhammad "consummated" the marriage.

It's also important to keep in mind that Fatah was not taking Wafa Sultan to task by claiming he disagreed with her interpretation of the Hadith. He didn't address this issue originally; he just went ahead and accused her of "hate," "Islamophobia," etc., and he presented himself as astonished and shocked by Wafa Sultan's comments. But he shouldn't be shocked at all, because Sultan was making a judgement based on the widely-accepted, hadith-supported claim that Muhammad had sex with a 9 year old girl (which constitutes rape). Fatah, in his response to Joanne Hill's article, claimed that Wafa Sultan was "totally making up her story." This goes beyond merely misleading the public; Fatah is either incredibly ignorant, or he is deceiving the public about this.

FreedomofExpression said...

Joanne Hill is a reporter who was there at the Sultan-Pipes debate in question. She has a recording and is quoting Sultan verbatim. Tarek Fatah does not disagree with her exact quote (see Fatah's response in the comments section of the Joanne Hill article).

Tarek Fatah may be pointing out abuse of women and girls in the Muslim world, but others (Muslims and non-Muslims) are doing far more about it. Fatah is not doing near as much as, for example, Irshad Manji, Sally Armstrong, et al. (I'm only mentioning this because you claimed Fatah was "second to none" in this regard).

Fatah did not merely contend that Ayesha was "probably" 9 years old. He stated conclusively that "No," she was not (see his recent appearance with Michael Coren). Fatah is claiming that Ayesha was at minimum 14 and possibly up to 21 years of age. But there is no direct evidence from the Islamic texts that this is the case, and Fatah is relying on a seldom-used apologetic line of argument here. Most apologists know this is not sustainable, because there are multiple reports in the sahih hadith collections (Bukhari, Muslim, et al.) that report directly about Ayesha's age, including Ayesha herself! There are no ahadith that state that Ayesha’s age was between 14 and 21.

Tigger said...

See the linkback for an example of how to argue your side without such condescension. Kathy Shaidle finds that she can disagree with Tarek on scriptural matters while still giving credit where it's due. Your insistence that Tarek is a man who likes to "minimize" and "whitewash" crimes committed against women and children in the name of Islam only makes you look foolish. Every day he is on the radio here in Toronto denouncing such atrocities. Go to twitter.com/tarekfatah and you will find that his record speaks for itself. No one has earned the right to condescend to him in this way.

scaramouche said...

Tigger--Further to your comment about Kathy Shaidle: http://www.fivefeetoffury.com/:entry:fivefeet-2010-03-18-0001/

FreedomofExpression said...

Tigger,

"See the linkback for an example of how to argue your side without such condescension."

I wasn't being condescending, but that's an irrelevant accusation anyway.

Do you have evidence that indicates that what I say about the Islamic texts is wrong? Have you read the original sources (Quran, Hadith, Sira)? Do you acknowledge that there are "sahih" ahadith that report Aisha's age as 9 years old when Muhammad "consummated" the marriage?

You cited Tarek Fatah's book, as though it was relevant to support your claims. It isn't, because, as I said, in it he doesn't address Aisha's age at the time Muhammad "consummated" the marriage. And if you don't believe me about how Fatah is whitewashing and deflecting with regard to rape in the Islamic texts, then read the Quran for yourself, read some mainstream tafsirs, then go to the part of Fatah's book where he addresses verse 4:24. (He neglects to mention 4:3, 23:1-6, 70:29-30, 33:50-52). He is definitely whitewashing, minimizing, and deflecting blame off of Islam per se and on to those Islamists like Maududi. That's my reading of the relevant part of his book; and it is perfectly understandable for a pious Muslim like Tarek to defend his religion and Muhammad. But it is not excusable, because he is misleading the public, and defaming Wafa Sultan. Fatah is definitely doing PR to save Islam's image.

FreedomofExpression said...

Tigger,

“Kathy Shaidle finds that she can disagree with Tarek on scriptural matters while still giving credit where it's due.”

I can certainly give Tarek credit for being one among many Muslims and non-Muslims who opposed sharia in Ontario. But this is not relevant to the point. Fatah accused Sultan of making up her story, of “hate,” and “Islamophobia.” Yet Sultan’s claim that Muhammad did commit rape is supported by the reports in the Hadith. It is also supported by the Quran (33:50-52).

“Your insistence that Tarek is a man who likes to "minimize" and "whitewash" crimes committed against women and children in the name of Islam only makes you look foolish.”

That’s not what I said. I said he is minimizing, deflecting, and whitewashing the role that Islam (Quran, Sunnah) plays in condoning such actions. He’s saying it’s all a distortion due to the Islamists' misreading of the Islamic texts. Thus, Islam itself remains pure and innocent.

“Every day he is on the radio here in Toronto denouncing such atrocities. Go to twitter.com/tarekfatah and you will find that his record speaks for itself. No one has earned the right to condescend to him in this way.”

I don't believe he is on the radio every day denouncing such atrocities, but even if he were, that's besides the point that he is minimizing and deflecting the role of Islam itself in such atrocities.

As I said, I wasn’t condescending to him or you. Criticism is not condescension. I have been aware of Tarek Fatah’s work for several years. Occasionally he gets angry and kind of flips out. This is one of those times. But I will not stand silent while he uses his standing with a non-Muslim publication to defame Wafa Sultan. I will not stand silent while he pretends that his personal belief that Aisha was 14 to 21 at the time Muhammad consummated his marriage to her is a widely accepted belief in Islam, or that it is well-grounded in the texts. He's not even reporting this as his personal opinion; he's reporting this as if it were widely-accepted fact. But it in reality it isn’t a widely accepted view, and it is not well supported by the texts. Look at the evidence before you judge Fatah.