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Islam and the West

By
Dr. ABDULLAH MOHAMMAD SINDI
(Ph.D. International Relations)

Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi is a Saudi Professor of International Relations and Political Science. He has taught at various universities and colleges both in Saudi Arabia and the US. The author of several publications both in Arabic and English, Dr. Sindi now lives and works in California where had obtained his BA, MA, and Ph.D. in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the author of a book titled: The Arabs and the West: The Contributions and the Inflictions. (Published in late 1999 by the Daring Press, PO Box 98, Placentia, CA 92871, USA, Email: Sfour1234@aol.com, Fax:(714) 996-3559.

 


INTRODUCTION:

Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the US, Islam and Muslims have become the targets of some vicious propaganda throughout the West, particularly in the US and Britain. Even some prominent Western figures, such as Italy’s racist leader Silvio Berlusconi, attacked Islam directly and openly in a rude way. In addition, some American Christian "televangelists" such as Jerry Falwell (who openly supported Apartheid and attacked both of South Africa’s great leaders, Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu) went even further than Berlusconi by brazenly attacking Prophet Mohammad himself, calling him a "terrorist".

However, when American Christian terrorists blew up the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 resulting the deaths of many innocents, no one in the entire West attacked Christianity or Christians. Christian or Jewish terrorist groups in the West such as the Iris Republican Army; the Italian Red Brigade; Germany’s Baader-Manhoff; or the American Jewish Defense League, do not evoke anger in the West against either the group’s religion of or its nationality. But when one or a handful of Muslims or Arabs commit terrorist acts, the entire West in automatically mobilized against Islam and Arabism.

Following the 9-11 disaster the US, Britain and their allies have brutally and illegally invaded and occupied two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, and changed their governments. Tens of thousands of innocent people were killed by Western bombs in these two countries. The American-British war crimes against Arabs and Muslims have also included horrible tortures and abuses of Muslim prisoners in Nazi-like American concentration camps in Guantanamo Bay (a Cuban territory illegally occupied by the US) and Abu Ghuraib prison in Iraq.

In addition, Iran, Syria, Lebanon’s Hizbollah, and the Palestinian freedom fighters have all been labeled in the West as "terrorists" and/or "terrorist sympathizers". In addition, the US has given Israel a green light not only to renege on all its agreements and promises to make peace with the Palestinians to create a Palestinian state, but also to brutally crush them at will. Under the current fascist administration of George Bush the son, the crusade against Islam and Muslims has taken a frightening biblical proportion with the dimension of an "Armageddon". The old American Cold War against Communism has now been clearly replaced by the new American Cold and Hot Wars on Islam and Arabism. American neocolonialism with its high-tech brutality has now openly replaced the old European colonialism in enslaving Arabs and Muslims. Most Arab and Muslim countries have now become virtual American colonies.

But is this current Western politico-military-religious war on Islam and Muslims a new phenomenon or a continuation of the same old Western hatred of Islam and Arabs but with a new and more brutal face? The truth of the matter is that Islam has long been attacked in the West long before September 11, 2001. In fact, ever since Israel was violently created in 1947-48 over the land of Arab Palestine (with a great deal of American and British help), Islam’s image in the West has become more negative than ever before thanks to the powerful Jewish influence in Western media. And as Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian, have waged a national liberation movement against the mighty power of Western-supported Israel to regain some of their lost lands and properties brutally stolen from them by the Israelis in a succession of devastating wars over the years starting with the 1948 war, Islam and Arabs have been associated in Western minds with "terrorism". The influential Israeli propaganda machines throughout the Western global media, along with Israel’s right-wing Christian Zionist allies a la Falwell throughout the West, have succeeded in promoting a very negative image of Islam throughout the world.

In reality, however, ever since Islam emerged for the first time in the 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula and was subsequently spread around the world first through Arab and later through Turkish expansions, it has been viewed in the West as a mortal danger, both moral and military, to be opposed or even destroyed. After the Western barbaric and cannibalistic Crusaders failed to destroy Islam by their vicious 200-year wars (1095-1291) on Palestine and the surrounding Arab areas, Islam has been targeted and ridiculed in the West as an inferior religion to be looked upon as "heretic" and its adherents as the "Anti-Christ".

Since medieval times scores of Western writers have been attacking Islam and its Prophet Mohammad. These authors include such prominent names as the French scholar Voltaire (who modeled his Zadiq on The Arabian Nights); Scottish author Thomas Carlyle (who supported the strong over the weak and scorned the idea of equality among human beings); and Italian poet Dante Alighieri (who based his Divine Comedy on the ideas of Ibn al-Arabi’s account of Prophet Mohammad’s nocturnal Journey from Mecca to Heaven via Jerusalem). In his Divine Comedy, the plagiarist Dante consigned Prophet Mohammad to the lowest level of Hell.

These Western writers and many others like them throughout the West have negatively influenced Western popular thinking about Islam and Prophet Mohammad. As a result of this hostility against in the West, there is a great deal of distortion about Islam both in Europe and the USA in particular. This distortion exists not only in the Western so-called "free and independent" media but also in the so-called "objective" Western academia. Indeed some of the Western distortion about Islam is not only due to ignorance, but also rather as a result of well-orchestrated campaign to put the Arabs and Islam down. Many of the so-called Western "experts", "authorities", and "scholars" on Islam do not only reveal their own ignorance and stupidity but also their prejudices and racism every time they write or say something about Islam.

Also, Islamic holidays and observances in the US are frequently ignored or intentionally downplayed by the American so-called "unbiased" media as well as by the public grade-school religious celebrations. At the same time, every important Jewish holiday, such as Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, and the Day of Atonement, is celebrated, promoted, and emphasized as if the US were a Jewish nation. In fact, there are more Muslims than Jews in the US. While Muslim Americans, including the so-called "Black Muslims", are the largest non-Christian religious group in the US totaling about 6.5 millions, American Jews number only 5.6 millions. [1]

By ignoring or belittling Islam, US schools and media promote the general feeling among Americans that Islam is to be shunned or avoided like cancer. That Islam should never to be associated in any way, shape, or form with the "superior" religions of Christianity and Judaism. That Christianity and Judaism are somehow "Western" religions, whereas Islam is a "fake" religion developed in the dark corners of "barbaric" Arabia. That unlike the "genuine" biblical prophets, Prophet Mohammad was nothing but a phony prophet; and that "Allah" is not "God", but a weird Arab deity invented by Arabs and Muslims.

Although Islam is clearly the closest religion to Christianity, it has been frequently attacked throughout the West for centuries on the following six areas, selected for the purposes of this article:

 

1. THE SPREAD OF ISLAM:

Western foes, both Jewish and Christian, have always propagandized that Islam is a religion of "terror" and "violence" that was spread only by "the sword" and nothing else. In response to such Western critics, British historian Paul Johnson, in his classic A History of Christianity, correctly clarified that "The success of Islam sprang essentially from the failure of Christian theologians to solve the problem of the Trinity and Christ nature." [2] In reality, the Umayyad Arab leaders (who built the first post-Islamic Arab civilization) did not want to spread Islam per se as much as they wanted to establish an Arab empire. The reason for this was because the massive conversion to Islam of people living in conquered territories would have drastically reduced not only the yield of the poll tax collected from non-Muslims, but also the margin of the rent paid by them over that paid by Muslims. In fact, in building Arab empires, even Arab Christians and Arab Jews participated with their Arab Muslim brothers not only in running the affairs of the Arab/Islamic State, but also in the military expansions of these states/empires.

On the contrary, it was the brutal European colonization of the entire non-European world from the time Christopher Columbus "discovered" the Western Hemisphere, which has resulted in the global expansion of Christianity by the sword and the bombs in the last 500 years in such places as North America, South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Western critics argue that Islam was spread by Jihad. The word "Jihad" in Islam means crusade, struggle, or striving. A form of Jihad in Islam is to spread the Islamic faith by word or by missionary work, but the biggest and most important Jihad in Islam is against one's own demons and bad behavior. In fact, unlike the well-known brutal history of Christianity that included the terrorist Crusades, the horrible Inquisition, and the well-documented brutal torture and burning of non-Christians at the stake, Islam has never practiced similar forced conversions or coercion of any kind either on Jews or Christians. The Qur'an says:

"Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error..." [II: 256]

 

2. INTOLERANCE AND TERRORISM:

Islam is sometimes described by some in the West as an intolerant religion that does not allow peaceful coexistence with other religions. In fact, throughout history, Islam has been more tolerant of Christianity and Judaism than vise versa. Contrary to this Western misconception, Islam does respect the rights of Jews and Christians and considers them to be the "People of the Book". The Qur'an says:

"God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For God loveth those who are just." [LX:8]

The Qur'an also says:

"And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (Than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): But say, "We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; our God and your God is One; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)." [XXIX: 46]

In fact, when the Caliph Omar entered Jerusalem in 634, he granted freedom of worship to all religious communities in the city. In addition, for almost 800 years (from 711 to 1492) in Islamic Spain and Portugal ("Andalusia") Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived peacefully together and practiced their religions without conflicts. Today, some 500 years after the end of Arab Andalusian civilization were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula, many Spanish scholars look back with nostalgia upon the Islamic religious tolerance that existed under Arab rule in Spain. In fact, it was only after the "intolerant" Arab Muslims were expelled from Spain that the real intolerance and militancy started by the Spanish Christians that resulted in the horrible bloodbath of the Inquisition (which was officially sanctioned by the real intolerant Catholic Church) against Jews and Muslims.

Although there was a recent conflict for a while between Lebanese Muslims and Christians, the sad situation in Lebanon, however, is not different from other similar situations in the "more tolerant" West such as Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, or even in the US itself.

Though the US is considered to be a religiously "tolerant" country, the historical record indicates that there was a great deal of religious intolerance towards Native Americans in the past. In fact, Native Americans were not only slaughtered like animals for centuries but were deprived of the American citizenship until 1924. Even in the contemporary US non-Christians do not really enjoy first class citizenship. American Buddhists, Hindus, Baha'is, Shintos, Muslims, or even atheists are clearly less likely, than Caucasian Christians, to be in a position of power in the "secular" USA. How much fuss was made about John Kennedy's Catholic religion before he became president? How was the boxing heavyweight champion, Cassius Clay, treated in the USA where "freedom of religions" exists when he changed his religion from Christianity to Islam and his name to Mohammad Ali? And what are the real chances today for an American Buddhist or Muslim to be president, governor, or even a rector of a major university in the USA?

It is clear to anyone who is slightly familiar with the US, that Arabs, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans do not really enjoy a first class citizenship in the "highly tolerant" Christian USA. None of these American minorities, even if they can trace back their historical roots in the US to hundreds of years, can be accepted as first class American citizens as easily as the newly arriving Nordic European Christian immigrants can.

In fact, there is no racism in the "intolerant" Islam compared to the current ugly racism in the West. In Islam there are no "chosen" people, no special "children of God, or any other form of racism. Differences in race, color, nationality, language, ethnic background, or even culture according to Islam should not stand as barriers between man and man. The Qur'an, which is not even addressed to the Arabs alone, but rather to all mankind as a universal message, says:

"O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you..." [XLIX: 13]

When Malcolm X visited Saudi Arabia in 1964 as a Muslim, he experienced the brotherhood of Islam among all races, something he wished he had experienced as a Christian in his country, the "tolerant" Christian US. Malcolm was deeply moved and overtaken by strong emotions because of the very warm welcome he received as a foreigner and as a black. He was almost on the verge of tears when total strangers, Saudi and non-Saudi white Muslims, warmly hugged him and kissed him on both cheeks as if he were a lost child of their own.

In his autobiography, Malcolm X (who changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) wrote:

"During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) - while praying to the same God - with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the 'white' Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana. "We were truly all the same (brothers)..." [3]

In his own country ("the tolerant USA") where many public accommodations were segregated including the "tolerant" Christian churches, no white man wanted to associate with him (or with any other black man for that matter) as an equal. In "the land of the free" Malcolm was called a "nigger" and his racist Junior High School teacher destroyed his ambitions by telling him, notwithstanding his high grades and intelligence, that he should not aim too high to become a lawyer simply because of the black color of his skin. [4] Upon his return from Saudi Arabia to the United States, Malcolm X drastically changed his views on white people and no longer considered all of them to represent evil in the world.

In addition, Islamic fundamentalism, the movement for the return to Islam, is referred to in the West as "militant" and "terrorist" Islam. While Muslim fundamentalism is vilified in the West, Jewish fundamentalism and Zionist terror and racism are downplayed in the "free" West. Although Israeli violent policies of building an "exclusive" Jewish state by sheer terrorism in Palestine since 1948 are clearly racist because they exclude native Arabs and other religious groups of Palestine, they are not considered in the "objective" Western media as militant or terrorist.

The reason Muslim fundamentalists are labeled "terrorists" and "militants" in the US is because they have dedicated themselves to fighting the imperialist West and Israel. These Muslim fundamentalists, such as Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran who overthrew the corrupt Western-puppet Shah; Hizbollah which is trying to oust Israel from its last hold in southern Lebanon; and the Palestinian "Hamas" and "Islamic Jihad" who have fought Israeli occupation and racist policies, naturally represent a danger to Israel and the West. In fact, these so-called "terrorist" Muslim fundamentalists are actually considered heroes by millions of Arabs and Muslims. From the Arab and Muslim points of view, it is the imperialist West and its offspring Israel that are the real militants and the real terrorists.

 

3. SEXISM:

Some Western critics describe Islam as a sexist religion that puts women down in a second-class position. It should be emphasized here that like Judaism and Christianity before it, Islam reflects the ancient patriarchal and patrilineal Semitic traditional cultures.

Headed by the father or the eldest male, the family has always been the focal point of Semitic or Arab culture. The relationship between men and women has always been governed by a rigid code of ethical ideals and double-standard sex mores in which emphasis is placed on female "purity" and chastity before, during, and after marriage.

Islam is also targeted in the West as a sexist religion that "forces" women to be veiled or dressed like nuns. In fact, the veil was unknown for centuries in most of the Arab world, and no more than 10% of Arab women were ever veiled. The veiling and seclusion of women are not even part of Islam for the Qur'an does not order women to be completely separated from men nor to cover their faces or be totally veiled, but to dress properly (as men are also required) and conservatively. Muslim women during Mohammad's time were not veiled or secluded, but were full-fledge members of the Muslim society with jobs, businesses, careers, and complete interaction with men at all levels.

Nor did the veil "start" with Islam, for the veiling and seclusion of women were a part of the ancient Semitic pre-Islamic traditions, including the Judeo-Christian heritage. Also, the seclusion of women existed in the Hellenistic-Byzantine area as legacy from Hellas in ancient Greece. The seclusion of women was not practiced in ancient Egypt or Arabia. It was only in the beginning of the 12th century that Arab women (whether Muslim, Jew, or Christian) began to wear the veil as a result of Persian and Turkish influences. [5]

In addition, Islam is attacked in the West as a sexist religion because it permits the husband to marry up to four wives at a time. Although polygyny was practiced before, during, and after biblical times by Pagans, Jews, and Christians; during the European reformation period centuries after Mohammad's death; and is even being practiced today by many American Mormons (polygyny was supposedly "outlawed" in the US in 1890), it is only Islam that has been targeted in the West as sexist. Islam did not originate polygyny but rather regulated it and set the limit of four wives, after Mohammad married nine (see "Mohammad's Wives" below"), if and only if the husband treats all his wives fairly and equally. At the same time, Islam recognizes that no husband can really treat his wives completely equally.

Islam is also criticized in the West because of its unequal divorce and inheritance laws between men and women. From the time of ancient Mesopotamia, centuries before Islam was born, the divorce in Semitic culture has been placed into the hands of the husband. But while it is true that the divorce is much easier for a husband in Islam, Islam does give a wife the right to divorce her husband.

On the other hand, the reason the male's inheritance is double that of a female is due to the fact that the responsibility of supporting the whole family rests with the male alone in Semitic cultures. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, however, Islam does secure a woman's right to inherit property and to protect her full rights of property ownership both in marriage and in divorce. Many women in some parts of the "civilized" West are still seeking this simple right to control their own property, which was established over 1400 years ago for Muslim women. [6]

Neither does a woman in Islam automatically give up her maiden name and assume her husband's name when she gets married as it is done in the "non-sexist" West where she becomes almost like a property of her husband. In fact, in Islam the wife's maiden name always stays with her whether she is married, divorced, or widowed.

In reality, Islam does not even go as far as Judaism and Christianity in asserting the moral inequality of men and women. If anything, Islam emphasizes the moral (as distinct from social) equality of men and women, which is repeatedly emphasized in the Qur'anic pronouncements for every believer "be you male or female." Nor does one find anything in Islam such Christian pronouncements as the "shame" of women for having brought sin (i.e., the original sin) in the world, or the Christian notion that man is created in the image of God while woman is created from man. [7] Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam does not portray woman as the cause of the fall from Paradise. The sin of Adam and Eve in Islam is their own personal sin and does not reflect on the entire human race. Nor does "sexist" Islam blame Eve; it is the fault of Adam who allowed himself to be tempted by the devil to eat the forbidden fruit.

Finally, Islam also prohibited the pre-Islamic practice of infanticide, which was common among some Arab tribes, that allowed fathers to bury alive unwanted baby daughters for fear that they might bring shame to their families if allowed to grow up and become unchaste for one reason or another. Instead of infanticide, most fathers chose to marry off their daughters at a very young age to avoid this probable shame.

 

4. PROPHET MOHAMMAD’S WIVES:

Unlike Muslims who revere Moses and Jesus as God's prophets, most Christians and Jews in the "tolerant" and "open-minded" West have little or no respect for prophet Mohammad and are generally contemptuous of him and Islam.

To demean Prophet Mohammad, some in the West criticize him as a phony prophet who did not bring anything new but mostly copied the Jewish and Christian religions with some modifications. Many in the West also look upon Mohammad as a sex-maniac stud who married a total of nine wives, the most controversial of whom are Aishah and Zainab.

Aishah, with whom Mohammad had the closest and longest relationship, was the daughter of his closest friend and confidant, Abu-Bakr. Her father, according to some accepted marriage contracts not only in old Arabia but also in the more recent Middle Ages of Europe, arranged for her to be engaged to Mohammad and to start living with him from age nine on in order to be his future wife. It is important to note here that Mary, Jesus's mother, was married to her husband Joseph when she was about fourteen. Even today, it is almost common to find relatively old men marrying young girls in their early teens all over the world, including the Arabian Peninsula.

Zainab, on the other hand, was Mohammad's cousin who had married his adopted son Zaid. Although Mohammad arranged their marriage because he loved both of them, they were unhappy and wished to be divorced. But Mohammad told Zaid not to divorce her. However, when Mohammad really fell in love with Zainab, a Qur'anic verse [XXXIII: 37] permitted her divorce from Zaid and blessed her marriage to Mohammad.

In fact, practically all prophets practiced polygyny; most of them had many more wives than Mohammad. Western critics of Mohammad's polygyny are not as harsh on Jewish and Christian polygynists. The Jewish King David and his son King Solomon, for example, each had over 700 wives centuries before Mohammad. Also, as recent as the nineteenth century (centuries after Mohammad), the American Brigham Young (1801-1877) of the Mormon Church had more than 20 wives.

Mohammad was not even married until the age of twenty-five and his first wife, Khadeja, was not only fifteen years older than him, but was also already twice married and with several children of her own. He did not marry another wife until she died when he was already forty-nine years old. It was only in the last twelve years of his life, between the age of fifty and his death at the age of sixty-two, did Mohammad take other wives.

Also, Mohammad's marriages were either humanely or politically motivated. Only one of his wives was a virgin (Aishah) while another was a former slave. Several of them were relatively old widows, of his slain friends, for whom he wished to provide support. Remarriages were not even commonly accepted or popular in an ancient Semitic society that emphasized virgin marriages. Other wives were daughters of tribal leaders whom Mohammad wanted as political allies.

Geoffrey Parrinder, a noted British author, once wrote about Prophet Mohammad's marriages: "Certainly the Prophet's record was better than that head of the Church of England, Henry VIII." [8]

 

5. SLAVERY:

There is a great deal of misrepresentation in the West about slavery and Islam. In the first place, like Judaism and Christianity before it, Islam did not abolish the ancient Semitic and non-Semitic widespread practice of slavery but rather ameliorated its conditions. In the second place, slavery was practiced in Europe, Asia, and Africa before, during, and even centuries after the birth of Islam.

Regardless, slavery does not exist in Islam anymore. According to the Shari'ah or Islamic law, a freeborn Muslim could not be enslaved, nor were Jews or Christians in early Islam. Slaves in Islam were only non-Muslims who were captured in war, as well as their children who were born into slavery.

In this unique form of Islamic slavery, the relationship between master and slave could be a close one in many ways, including eating and praying together, and may also continue to be so even after the slave was freed. The freed slave in Islam may even marry his former master's daughter and/or conduct business for him.

Islam also taught that it is much more meritorious to free a slave than to hold on to one. To set an example, Prophet Mohammad himself freed his own slave, Bilal, who later became a very prominent member of the Ummah by becoming the official caller to prayers ("Mu'athin") in Madinah.

Neither does one find racism in the old Islamic practice of slavery. In Islam, slaves were composed of all races and not confined to the black race. Many slaves were whites from Turkey, central Asia, and other places. Many of them were initially recruited as military slaves who, after becoming Muslims, were freed and eventually ruled many powerful states in the Arab world such as the famous Turkish Mamluk (slave) dynasty that controlled Egypt and Syria from 1250 to 1517.

In fact, over 1400 years ago, Islam taught that slaves - unlike the much more recent 19th century brutal American slavery - should be treated with justice, fairness, and kindness. Also, in Islam, slaves were considered to be full and complete human beings like everyone else, and not 60% human as blacks (enslaved or freed) were classified by the Founding Fathers of the American Constitution.

Prophet Mohammad once said: "Never forget that slaves are your brothers. God has given you the right to own them, but he could just as easily have given them the right to own you." [9]

In fact, the US, the last country in the Western world to abolish slavery, had the most cruel slavery system in the entire world in which 40 to 60 million Africans lost their lives [10]. This brutal slavery system was officially sanctioned and supported by the racist "Christian churches" all over the US up to the end of the 1860s.

Moreover, American slave owners - like president Thomas Jefferson - disavowed, disinherited, and disowned their own children and sold them into slavery just because their mothers were black slaves. On the other hand, President Abraham Lincoln - who has been falsely presented in many history books as a friend of the black man, and who fought the American Civil War to "free the American slaves" (one of many famous American fairy tales) - was in reality a very racist person. In August 1862 during the Civil War, Lincoln said the following to a group of freed American blacks visiting the White House:

"... Even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race ... It is better for us to be separated ... I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and back races which I believe will forever forbid the 2 races living together on terms of social or political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. ..." [11]

After the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolished slavery in 1865, American blacks were transformed from the legal slavery system to a new form of slavery under the brutal system of racism and racial segregation of the Jim Craw Laws. American racism was officially legalized, sanctioned, and institutionalized by none other than the US Supreme Court itself in its 1896 infamous case of "Plessy v. Ferguson". Racism and segregation were legally practiced in every aspect of the American society, including the US armed forces where American blacks were losing their own lives overseas for the benefits of corporate America. The first integrated American war was the war in Vietnam in the 1960s.

Even after the 1954 Supreme Court case of "Brown v. the Board of Education" which supposedly outlawed formal segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King's Civil Rights Movement; and "generous" but now severely weakened "Affirmative Action" (which has been mostly for the benefit of Anglo women), most blacks in the US still suffer from racism, and like other American racial minorities are politically, economically, and culturally disfranchised.

It is obvious that the record of the American slavery system and that of racism in America are by far more brutal and more inhumane than the slavery record in the entire history of Islam.

 

6. UNCIVILIZED PUNISHMENT:

Islam is often criticized in the West as a religion that imposes barbaric, cruel, and unusual punishment. Again these punishments are rooted in the Old Testament. "An eye for an eye", "a tooth for a tooth", and "the stoning of adulterers" did not originate with Islam.

Chopping off the hand of a thief and beheading a killer by the sword, though, are indeed very harsh punishments. But, are the American styles of execution - in the gas chamber, by hanging, by a firing squad, or in the electric chair - much less "barbaric" or more "civilized" than the sword?

The barbaric death penalty, which is outlawed in many Western and non-Western countries, makes the US the number one country among all industrialized nations in deaths by capital punishment. [12] The death penalty, which is an obvious form of cruel and unusual punishment, even by the style of lethal injection, is clearly not equally applied in the US to the rich and poor classes. The overwhelming majority of Americans sentenced to death are from the poor, racial, and lower classes.

However, because of the harsh Shari'ah, Muslim societies in general have less crime than the US that has the highest per capita crime rate among all industrialized countries, in murder, theft, robbery, rape, larceny, drug abuse, and embezzlement. [13]

 

CONCLUSION:

Those in the West who constantly repeat, in a condescending and arrogant way, Rudyard Kipling’s racist saying: "East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet", tend to conveniently forget (as he did) that not only their religions and morality, but also the roots of their Western civilization were actually developed in the ancient Arab Fertile Crescent and ancient Egypt. In fact, Kipling, who was a well-known British racist, frequently expressed his contempt for Non-Caucasians. For example in his poem, The White Man's Burden, he referred to the non-white victims of the brutal British colonialism as: "Your new-caught sullen people/Half-devil, half-child..." [14]

Western critics of Islam tend to forget their own Semitic Judeo-Christian heritage and use Islam, instead, as a convenient whipping post. These foes of Islam in the West fail to recognize the simple fact that Islam is not different from Judaism and/or Christianity in its fundamental laws. These Westerners should do well by remembering the old Chinese proverb: "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at other peoples' houses". The enemies of Islam in the West refuse to understand the elementary fact that Islam was born in the same Semitic geographic region and rose from the same Semitic culture as Judaism and Christianity. Regardless of their self-centered persistent wishes, Christianity and Judaism are not Western religions in any way, shape or form. Jesus Christ and Moses were simply not Westerners no matter how often Islam’s Western foes depict them as "Nordic Europeans".

 

 

Notes:

1. 1995 Britannica Book of the Year, p. 275.

2. Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (New York: Atheneum, 1976), p. 242.

3. Malcolm X with Alex Haley, The Autobiography of Malcolm X (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1965), p. 345.

4. Ibid., p. 37.

5. Fadwa El Guindi, "Aspects of Arab Gulf Culture and Society," (Los Angeles: El Nil Research Publication Series, 1991), p. 9.

6. Roy R. Anderson, Robert F. Seibert and Jon G. Wagner, Politics and Change in the Middle East: A Source of Conflict and Accommodation (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 4th ed.1993), p. 30.

7. Ibid., p. 30.

8. Quoted in John L. Esposito, Islam the Straight Path (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 18.

9. Quoted in Mokhtar Moktefi, The Arabs in the Golden Age (Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press Inc., 1992), p. 40.

10. David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 151.

11. Quoted in Wallechinsky, The People's Almanac # 1, 1975, pp.292-93.

12. Andrew L. Shapiro, We're Number One: Where America Stands and Falls in the New World Order (New York: Vintage Books, 1992), p. 123.

13. Ibid., pp. 118-132.

14. Quoted in Michael Parenti, The Sword and the Dollar: Imperialism, Revolution, and the Arms Race (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989), p. 84.

 


 

(*) Dr. Abdullah Mohammad Sindi is a Saudi-American Professor of International Relations and Political Science. He has taught at various universities and colleges both in Saudi Arabia and the US such as King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; the University of California in Irvine; California State University at Pomona; Cerritos College; and Fullerton College. In addition, he worked as a research fellow for 2 years at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in New York. The author of several publications both in Arabic and English, Dr. Sindi now lives and works in California where had obtained in the 1960s and 1970s his BA and MA (from California State University in Sacramento), and his Ph.D. (from the University of Southern California). He is the author of: The Arabs and the West: The Contributions and the Inflictions. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0967431603/104-9657953-2738357

 


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