Thursday, February 17, 2011

Simon Replies to Mansur

Roger L. Simon responds to an individual I can honestly characterize as a gentleman and a scholar--Salim Mansur. Mansur (who appeared on a panel of academics at yesterday's ACL Conference) had written this open letter to Simon which, though scholarly, failed to touch on the problematic aspects of Islam. Simon's respectful reply:
...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?...
In answer to the latter: We know Islam can be "reformed." But such "reform" has invariably taken it back to its 7th century origins, the better to "purify" it of Western influence. A better question would be: Can Islam be made compatible with reason and modernism and still remain Islam?

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