Sunday, April 22, 2007

To continue the earlier post on Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book "The Caged Virgin".....

Hirsi Ali points to several unethical acts of the prophet Mohammed, as recorded in the Koran, which one would not do well to emulate today. For instance, he took a nine year old as his wife, and he led aggressive military campaigns against neighboring countries.

Is it true that these particular behaviors are not questioned in Islam, as they would not belond to Mohammed's example to be followed by believers? Is Hirsi Ali right? I am trying to think of any of Jesus' acts as recorded in the Gospels that we would not want to imitate in today's world.

In any case, there is a difference between claiming that the religion is the root of the problems that Hirsi Ali points to, or whether the religion, as Ali's friend Irshad Manji says, is "weighed down with the pressures of Arabian cultural imperialism, which dictate that women must give up their individuality in honor of the family and become communal property."

Hirsi Ali asks Manji, "Why are liberal, secular Westerners so afraid of taking a stance against the abuses of Islam?" First, as Hirsi Ali herself noted earlier in the book, liberal Westerners would trace the cause of abusive actions back to problems of the indivual committing them, and not to the religion he or she belongs to. Second, I appreciate the author's encouragement to Westerners to confront people who are denying their family members the benefits of an open, equal society, but whatever reform the author wants to occur would have to come from within. There is too much colonial and other baggage in the relations between the West and the developing world to make this a legitimate topic of discussion between the two, if it were needed, which I'm still not convinced of after reading her book.

As has been said before, her accusations against Islam put her in the company of some very biggoted people. Her goal, she says, is to promote change; the fallout from that is irrelevant to her.

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