In the latest edition of The International Jerusalem Post (no. 2391), there is an excellent article on Wafa Sultan (“Her 15 minutes: Is Wafa Sultan the voice of reason or Islam’s false messiah?” by Brenda Gazzar, pp. 10-11 of the aforementioned edition of The International Jerusalem Post).
In it is written:
Much of the controversy that surrounds Sultan comes from her opinion that Islam and the Koran – not its interpretation by Muslims – are “the source of every problem we have in the Middle East” including the disrespectful way she argues women and non-Muslims are treated in Islamic culture.
This is a significant point. Proponents of moderate Islam claim that the problem resides in the interpretation of Islam’s fundamental sources (which comprise of the Qur’ān, ahadīth, sunnah, and sharī’ah): change the interpretation and the problem is solved! But this is not entirely correct.
No matter how one attempts to interpret around the obvious meaning of divine commandments, fundamentalists will simply state that such interpretations are wrong, and the fundamentalists are supported in their interpretations (true to obvious meaning of the texts and statements they are interpreting) by guides considered to be authentic and traditionally central. As it is, this tendency or even desire to formulate a moderate Islam is present mainly in the West, and fundamentalists (perhaps rightly so) complain that the pressure to formulate and adhere to a moderate Islam is all a Western ploy to weaken the Muslim community.
The undeniable fact is that the roots of the problem in the Middle East, among Muslim communities, and regarding this clash between Islamic theocratic fascism and Western liberalism are, precisely, the fundamental sources of Islam.
The problematic statements and commands exist for a reason, if one looks at it rationally. They exist to spur the Muslim community to spread the Islamic state throughout the world – which the Muslim community sincerely tried to do until they were defeated by the West and the Caliphate was abolished. By winning the hearts and minds of the Ottoman/Turkish elite, the West defeated the Caliphate and Islam as a political entity. But the impulse remains. Even in the absence of the Caliphate, Muslims continue to attempt to establish and spread Islamic political regimes, overthrowing those based on so-called Western ideals and theories.
The problematic statements also exist to keep Muslims separated from non-Muslims and to instill in Muslims an insufferable superiority complex over non-Muslims – all this to prevent assimilation and to promote Muslim overlording over non-Muslims. Notice how this continues to play out in todays world. Although the sharī’ah on the dhimmī is not enforced, Muslims have found ways to make non-Muslims kowtow to Muslims’ demands and desires, in many cases in the non-Muslims’ own lands.
Furthermore, Islam developed a rigidity that helped codify these tendencies so that they would be perpetuated: no matter where or when Muslims lived, they would act out on these impulses.
No, as problematic as it may sound, the problem lies with Islam. I really wish it were not so. But those who fail to see this fact are ignoring reality. The solution, then, lies in helping Muslims deliberately misinterpret Islam, for their benefit and for our benefit.