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"Who are the moderate Muslims, and why do they not speak up?" They are out there, and they are speaking up now. Too often we have read, in the writings of Zionist advocates, that Islam and democracy are incompatible, and that "Muslims" are uniformly intolerant. Perhaps it is true of many Muslims. Surely it is not true of all. The "Muslim world" today, after all, comprises over a billion and a quarter people. That is about as many people as there were in the entire world 150 years ago, and they are spread all over the globe, living in a variety of societies.

Moreover, Islam is changing. The signs are there for those who want to see. The most effective criticisms of society, constructive and otherwise, come from within. They take much more courage than do criticisms by enemies of a society, and they carry much more weight. Israel, Zionism and Judaism have been changed much more by dissenting and innovating Jews then by all the anti-Semites in the world.

The Christian religion and Christian society were not reformed by Jews or Muslims, but rather by Christian critics working from within: Luther, Wycliffe, Hus and many others. Often, the reformists and critics paid with their lives, but in the end they won.

The same must be true of Islam. Wafa Sultan, among others, has been carrying on an intense one person Muslim reformation crusade. Her telling critiques, aired on Al-Jazeera, are hitting home, and that is why she is on the wrong end of dark threats. Wafa lives in the United States where such threats are less potent than they might be in Tehran or Damascus. What she has to say about Muslim society and about Jews is rocking the Muslim establishment boat from Indonesia to Morocco. Now she is working on a book that just might be the 95 theses of Islamic reform. The New York Times reports:


Dr. Sultan said the world was not witnessing a clash of religions or cultures, but a battle between modernity and barbarism, a battle that the forces of violent, reactionary Islam are destined to lose.
...
"I believe our people are hostages to our own beliefs and teachings," she said in an interview this week in her home in a Los Angeles suburb.

Dr. Sultan, who is 47, wears a prim sweater and skirt, with fleece-lined slippers and heavy stockings. Her eyes and hair are jet black and her modest manner belies her intense words: "Knowledge has released me from this backward thinking. Somebody has to help free the Muslim people from these wrong beliefs."

Perhaps her most provocative words on Al Jazeera were those comparing how the Jews and Muslims have reacted to adversity. Speaking of the Holocaust, she said, "The Jews have come from the tragedy and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror; with their work, not with their crying and yelling."

She went on, "We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people."

She concluded, "Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them."

Her views caught the ear of the American Jewish Congress, which has invited her to speak in May at a conference in Israel. "We have been discussing with her the importance of her message and trying to devise the right venue for her to address Jewish leaders," said Neil B. Goldstein, executive director of the organization.

She is probably more welcome in Tel Aviv than she would be in Damascus. Shortly after the broadcast, clerics in Syria denounced her as an infidel. One said she had done Islam more damage than the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, a wire service reported.

DR. SULTAN is "working on a book that - if it is published - it's going to turn the Islamic world upside down."

"I have reached the point that doesn't allow any U-turn. I have no choice. I am questioning every single teaching of our holy book."

The working title is, "The Escaped Prisoner: When God Is a Monster."

Dr. Sultan grew up in a large traditional Muslim family in Banias, Syria...

But, she said, her life changed in 1979 when she was a medical student at the University of Aleppo, in northern Syria. At that time, the radical Muslim Brotherhood was using terrorism to try to undermine the government of President Hafez al-Assad. Gunmen of the Muslim Brotherhood burst into a classroom at the university and killed her professor as she watched, she said.

"They shot hundreds of bullets into him, shouting, 'God is great!' " she said. "At that point, I lost my trust in their god and began to question all our teachings. It was the turning point of my life, and it has led me to this present point. I had to leave. I had to look for another god."

She and her husband, who now goes by the Americanized name of David... settled in with friends in Cerritos, Calif., a prosperous bedroom community on the edge of Los Angeles County.
...
An angry essay on that site by Dr. Sultan about the Muslim Brotherhood caught the attention of Al Jazeera, which invited her to debate an Algerian cleric on the air last July.

In the debate, she questioned the religious teachings that prompt young people to commit suicide in the name of God. "Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up?" she asked. "In our countries, religion is the sole source of education and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched."

Her remarks set off debates around the globe and her name began appearing in Arabic newspapers and Web sites. But her fame grew exponentially when she appeared on Al Jazeera again on Feb. 21, an ppearance that was translated and widely distributed by the Middle East Media Research Institute, known as Memri.

Memri said the clip of her February appearance had been viewed more than a million times.

"The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilizations," Dr. Sultan said. "It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality."

She said she no longer practiced Islam. "I am a secular human being," she said.

The other guest on the program, identified as an Egyptian professor of religious studies, Dr. Ibrahim al-Khouli, asked, "Are you a heretic?" He then said there was no point in rebuking or debating her, because she had blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and the Koran.

Dr. Sultan said she took those words as a formal fatwa, a religious condemnation. Since then, she said, she has received numerous death threats on her answering machine and by e-mail.

One message said: "Oh, you are still alive? Wait and see." She received an e-mail message the other day, in Arabic, that said, "If someone were to kill you, it would be me."

Dr. Sultan said her mother, who still lives in Syria, is afraid to contact her directly, speaking onl through a sister who lives in Qatar. She said she worried more about the safety of family members here and in Syria than she did for her own.

"I have no fear," she said. "I believe in my message. It is like a million-mile journey, and I believe I have walked the first and hardest 10 miles."



Perhaps Wafa Sultan will lose her effectiveness as an internal critic by consorting with the AJC and announcing that she is secular. However, Wafa Sultan is not alone. She is joined for example, by Marina Mahathir, who protests against apartheid in Malaysia and by moderate Muslims, like those who published a Muslim Manifesto. The manifesto reads in part:


We also believe that terrorist acts can never be justified or excused. None of the challenges Muslims face, such as oppression or military occupation, can justify attacks against non-combatants. In the Holy Koran, Allah orders Muslims to "never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice." (5:8) The true Islamic sense of justice is well-established in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); even in time of war — let alone peace — Muslim soldiers should never "kill the old, the infant, the child, or the woman." Those who do so are not martyrs, but cold-blooded murderers.


Supported by the Koran's affirmation that "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), we cherish religious liberty. Every human has the right to believe or not to believe in Islam or in any other religion All Muslims furthermore have the right to reject and change their religion if desired. No state, community or individual has a right to impose Islam on others. People should accept and practice Islam not because they are forced to do so, but because they believe in its teachings.

We support and cherish democracy — not because we reject the sovereignty of the Almighty over people, but because we believe that this sovereignty is manifested in the general will of people in a democratic and pluralistic society. We do not accept theocratic rule-not because we do not wish to obey Allah, but because theocratic rule inevitably becomes rule by fallible (and sometimes corrupt and misguided) humans in the name of the infallible God.

We accept the legitimacy of the secular state and the secular law. Islamic law, or sharia, was developed at a time when Muslims were living in homogenous communities. In the modern world, virtually all societies are pluralistic, consisting of different faiths and of different perceptions of each faith, including Islam. In this pluralistic setting, a legal system based on a particular version of a single religion cannot be imposed on all citizens. Thus, a single secular law, open to all religions but based on none, is strongly needed.

We believe that women have the same inalienable rights as men. We strongly denounce laws and attitudes in some Islamic societies that exclude women from society by denying them the rights of education, political participation and the individual pursuit of happiness. Like men, women should have the right to decide how they will live, dress, travel, marry and divorce; if they do not enjoy these rights, they are clearly second-class citizens.

We believe that there is no contradiction between religious and national identities. Any Muslim should be able to embrace the citizenship of any modern secular state while maintaining feelings of spiritual solidarity with the umma, the global Muslim community.

We regard Christianity and Judaism as sister faiths in the common family of Abrahamic monotheism. We strongly denounce anti-Semitism, which has been alien to Islam for many centuries but which unfortunately has gained popularity among some Muslims in recent decades. We accept Israel's right to exist, as well as the justified aspiration of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state and hope that a just two-state solution in Israel/Palestine will bring peace to the Holy Land.

In short, we strongly disagree with and condemn those who promote or practice tyranny and violence in the name of Islam. We hope that their misguided deeds will not blacken our noble religion — which is indeed a path to God and a call for peace.



Maybe the 95 theses are already out there. In any case, we cannot ignore these people of good will and courage. When you think of Muslims, remember Wafa Sultan and the Muslim manifesto. Some sources are below.

Ami Isseroff



March 01, 2006, 8:16 a.m.
A Muslim Manifesto
Rejecting the bad.

By Mustafa Akyol & Zeyno Baran
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/akyol_baran200603010816.asp
"Who are the moderate Muslims, and why do they not speak up?" After being asked this question over and over again since 9/11, particularly after the Danish cartoon crisis, we decided to propose the following Muslim Manifesto:

Recently, the disrespectful cartoons about Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) published in Jyllands-Posten resulted in an extreme reaction among many Muslims worldwide. While we understand the feelings of our co-religionists, we strongly urge them to refrain from rage and violence.

A zeal for Allah is rightful only when it is expressed in an enlightened manner, since Allah himself has ordained a restrained response. When the early Muslims were mocked by their pagan contemporaries, the Koran ordered not a violent backlash, but rather a civilized disapproval: "When you hear Allah's verses being rejected and mocked at by people, you must not sit with them till they start talking of other things." (Koran 4:140) The Koran also describes Muslims as "those who control their rage and pardon other people, [because] Allah loves the good-doers." (3:134) Therefore all demonstrations against the mockery of Islam should be peaceful. All critiques of Islam should be countered not by threats and violence, but by rational counter-argument.

We also believe that terrorist acts can never be justified or excused. None of the challenges Muslims face, such as oppression or military occupation, can justify attacks against non-combatants. In the Holy Koran, Allah orders Muslims to "never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice." (5:8) The true Islamic sense of justice is well-established in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); even in time of war — let alone peace — Muslim soldiers should never "kill the old, the infant, the child, or the woman." Those who do so are not martyrs, but cold-blooded murderers.

Supported by the Koran's affirmation that "there is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), we cherish religious liberty. Every human has the right to believe or not to believe in Islam or in any other religion All Muslims furthermore have the right to reject and change their religion if desired. No state, community or individual has a right to impose Islam on others. People should accept and practice Islam not because they are forced to do so, but because they believe in its teachings.

We support and cherish democracy — not because we reject the sovereignty of the Almighty over people, but because we believe that this sovereignty is manifested in the general will of people in a democratic and pluralistic society. We do not accept theocratic rule-not because we do not wish to obey Allah, but because theocratic rule inevitably becomes rule by fallible (and sometimes corrupt and misguided) humans in the name of the infallible God.

We accept the legitimacy of the secular state and the secular law. Islamic law, or sharia, was developed at a time when Muslims were living in homogenous communities. In the modern world, virtually all societies are pluralistic, consisting of different faiths and of different perceptions of each faith, including Islam. In this pluralistic setting, a legal system based on a particular version of a single religion cannot be imposed on all citizens. Thus, a single secular law, open to all religions but based on none, is strongly needed.

We believe that women have the same inalienable rights as men. We strongly denounce laws and attitudes in some Islamic societies that exclude women from society by denying them the rights of education, political participation and the individual pursuit of happiness. Like men, women should have the right to decide how they will live, dress, travel, marry and divorce; if they do not enjoy these rights, they are clearly second-class citizens.

We believe that there is no contradiction between religious and national identities. Any Muslim should be able to embrace the citizenship of any modern secular state while maintaining feelings of spiritual solidarity with the umma, the global Muslim community.

We regard Christianity and Judaism as sister faiths in the common family of Abrahamic monotheism. We strongly denounce anti-Semitism, which has been alien to Islam for many centuries but which unfortunately has gained popularity among some Muslims in recent decades. We accept Israel's right to exist, as well as the justified aspiration of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state and hope that a just two-state solution in Israel/Palestine will bring peace to the Holy Land.

In short, we strongly disagree with and condemn those who promote or practice tyranny and violence in the name of Islam. We hope that their misguided deeds will not blacken our noble religion — which is indeed a path to God and a call for peace.

We encourage Muslim political, social, community and business leaders to contact us at info@muslimmanifesto.org to sign onto the Manifesto so that the authentic peaceful and civilized message of Islam will be heard.

— Mustafa Akyol is a writer and journalist based in Turkey; Zeyno Baran is director of International Security and Energy Programs at The Nixon Center.




MEMRI
7/26/2005 Clip No. 783
http://www.memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=783
LA Psychologist Wafa Sultan Clashes with Algerian Islamist Ahmad bin Muhammad over Islamic Teachings and Terrorism


The following are excerpts from a debate between Wafa Sultan, a psychologist from Los Angeles and Dr. Ahmad Bin Muhammad, an Algerian professor of religious politics. Al-Jazeera TV aired this debate on July 26, 2005.

Wafa Sultan: Why does a young Muslim man, in the prime of life, with a full life ahead, go and blow himself up? How and why does he blow himself up in a bus full of innocent passengers?

In our countries, religion is the sole source of education, and is the only spring from which that terrorist drank until his thirst was quenched. He was not born a terrorist, and did not become a terrorist overnight. Islamic teachings played a role in weaving his ideological fabric, thread by thread, and did not allow other sources – I am referring to scientific sources – to play a role. It was these teachings that distorted this terrorist and killed his humanity. It was not (the terrorist) who distorted the religious teachings and misunderstood them, as some ignorant people claim.

When you recite to a child still in his early years the verse: "They will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off," regardless of this verse's interpretation, and regardless of the reasons it was conveyed or its time – you have made the first step towards creating a great terrorist...

Bin Muhammad: The guest from America asked how a young man could blow up a bus. If only she had asked how a president could blow up a peaceful nation in Iraq. How does a president help the arch-killer of occupied Palestine? Why doesn't she ask from where Hitler was brought up – Hitler, who murdered 50 million innocent people. Why doesn't she ask where the people who dropped two atom bombs on Japan were educated? Who killed three million innocent Vietnamese? Who annihilated the Indians? Who maintained imperialism to this day? Who waged the Spanish civil war, which exacted a toll of 600,000 in 36 months? Why don't we ask these questions? Who has over 15,000 nuclear warheads – Muslims or the non-Muslims? The Muslims or the Americans? The Muslims or the Europeans? We want an answer. Where was Bush educated – if education is really what makes a person a criminal?...

Wafa Sultan: Murder is terrorism regardless of time or place, but when it is committed as a decree from Allah, this is another matter...

The Crusader wars about which the professor is talking – these wars came after the Islamic religious teachings, and as a response to these teachings. This is the law of action and reaction. The Islamic religious teachings have incited to the rejection of the other, to the denial of the other, and to the killing of the other. Have they not incited to the killing of Jews and Christians? If we had heard that a tribe in a distant corner of China has a holy book and religious teachings calling to kill Muslims – would the Muslims stand idly by in the face of such teachings?

The Crusader wars came after these Islamic religious teachings. When these Islamic teachings were delivered, America did not exist on the face of the earth, nor was Israel in Palestine...

Why doesn't he talk about the Muslim conquests that preceded all the wars he is talking about? Why doesn't he mention that when Tariq bin Ziyyad entered Andalusia with his armies, he said to his people: "The sea is behind you, and the enemy is in front"? How can you storm a peaceful country, and consider all its peaceful inhabitants to be your enemies, merely because you have the right to spread your religion? Should the religion be spread by the sword and through fighting?...

Bin Muhammad: Who invented slavery in recent centuries? Who colonized the other – us or them? Did Algeria colonize France, or vice versa? Did Egypt colonize England, or vice versa? We are the victims...

I am not saying that killing innocent people is nice. I say that all innocent people should be protected. But at the same time, we must start with the innocent among the Muslims. There are millions of innocent people among us, while the innocent among you – and innocent they are – number only dozens, hundreds, or thousands, at the most...

Wafa Sultan: Can you explain to me the killing of a hundred thousand children, women and men in Algeria, using the most abominable killing methods? Can you explain to me the killing of 15,000 Syrian civilians? Can you explain to me the abominable crime in the military artillery school in Aleppo? Can you explain the crime in Al-Asbaqiya neighborhood of Damascus, Syria? Can you explain the attack of the terrorists on the peaceful village of Al-Kisheh in Upper Egypt, and the massacre of 21 Coptic peasants? Can you explain to me what is going on in Indonesia, Turkey, and Egypt, even though these are Islamic countries which opposed the American intervention in Iraq, and which don't have armies in Iraq, yet were not spared by the terrorists? Can you explain these phenomena, which took place in Arab countries? Was all this revenge on America or Israel? Or were they merely to satisfy bestial wild instincts aroused in them by religious teachings, which incite to rejection of the other, to the killing of the other, and to the denial of the other. When Saddam Hussein buried 300,000 Shiites and Kurds alive, we did not hear a single Muslim protesting. Your silence served to acknowledge the legitimacy of these killings, didn't it?...

What do you want from me? To speak evil of the American society? I've never said that America is the eternal city of Plato, but I did say it was the eternal city of Wafa Sultan. The idealism of American society was enough to allow me to realize my humanity. I came to this country with fear.

Bin Muhammad:Along with the Indians? Along with the Indians? What was left of the Indians? What do you have to say about the Indians?

Wafa Sultan: Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. America was founded in 1776, approximately 300 years later. You cannot blame America – as a constitution, a regime, and a state – for killing the Indians.


MEMRI
2/21/2006 Clip No. 1050
http://www.memritv.org/Transcript.asp?P1=1050
Arab-American Psychologist Wafa Sultan: There Is No Clash of Civilizations but a Clash between the Mentality of the Middle Ages and That of the 21st Century


Following are excerpts from an interview with Arab-American psychologist Wafa Sultan. The interview was aired on Al-Jazeera TV on February 21, 2006
.

Wafa Sultan: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

[...]

Host: I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?

Wafa Sultan: Yes, that is what I mean.

[...]

Host: Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind...

Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger." When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to start this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves? Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the "People of the Book," and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?

I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: Are you a heretic?

Wafa Sultan: You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural...

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran...

Wafa Sultan: These are personal matters that do not concern you.

[...]

Wafa Sultan: Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs.

[...]

Wafa Sultan: The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.

Original content is Copyright by the author 2006. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000016.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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