Free lesson on Islam

I read with interest Patrick Van Rensburg’s ‘Question Time’ column in your 18th November edition. The article is titled ‘Does Islam Need Reformation’

It is an interesting article based on the views of a Somali born woman called Ayaan Hirsi Ali who claims to be Muslim and is a member of Parliament of the Netherlands.

I say claim because she expresses some concocted and mistaken views on Islam in the article that betray her knowledge of Islam as very poor and suspect. I hope to correct her assertions so that people are able to distinguish fact from fiction.

The first is the comment (I am not sure attributable to whom) which says ‘The old Testament is part of the Christian Bible. The Koran has also drawn on the same Scripture’. Muslims believe that the Quran is the Word of God, directly revealed to the Prophet Muhammed through the Angel Gabriel and not based on any other Scriptures.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali tries to argue her case that ‘there must be something in Islam that is not compatible with Democracy’ and claims to argue from ‘her own personal experience of circumcision, beatings, forced marriage that showed her that Islam collides with democracy and oppresses women’

I am not sure of her knowledge of Islam but the poor woman is confusing tribal and so-called ‘cultural’ practices of the society where she hails from with Islamic practice. The barbaric practice of female circumcision is NOT an Islamic practice but that of some East African tribes particularly in Somalia where she was born. This backward and criminal practice is still prevalent in some areas of East Africa and in the Horn of Africa and it has been the subject of International debate in recent times.

Islam does not condone ‘forced marriages’ either. What I know is that there are still ‘arranged’ marriages that are the cultural practices and traditions of certain groups of people especially those from the Indian sub continent. I believe that even in some African cultures there are groups that still practice arranged marriages. However, this is not an Islamic teaching.

As regards ‘honour’ killings this is again NOT an Islamic practice but a so called ‘traditional’ revenge killing by male relatives who feel that the victim had shamed their families. This is cold blooded murder and it is classified as such in Islam, it is not condoned under any circumstance. In addition, I must add that I know of no religion or civilised society that condones spouse abuse and beating.

This poor Muslim lady has a serious problem because she is unable to even distinguish the difference of what is tribal and traditional practice on one hand and Islamic teachings on the other. Maybe it was the only way she could escape from the grinding poverty, famine and depravity of the situation in Somalia, by claiming ‘Islamic persecution’.

As for her claim that Islam is not democratic, I wonder if she has heard about the Islamic ‘Mashurra’ - this is a forum not unlike our own traditional ‘kgotla’ system at which the community gathers to discuss and make decisions on issues of societal concern. This is real grass root level democracy at work. The ‘Mashurra’ gives sense to the Islamic practice that the rights and liberties of the society take precedence over those of an individual.

I hope that this clarifies the uneducated claims made against Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Iqbal Ebrahim



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