Defending Ayan Hersi Ali
It is one thing to disagree with Mr. Ali’s assertions but it is totally absurd to threaten or kill her. I, personally, disagree with many things that she said/wrote but disagreeing with her does not entail killing her. Mr. Ali expresses rightly her opinion about Islam and proclaims that she rejected the teaching of Islam. Mr. Ali views Islam as a “backward” religion and argues that the teaching of Islam hinders our progress and suppresses our intellect. Whether she is right or wrong, she has the right to articulate her opinion. She also has the right to criticize everything, including the religion of Islam.. Others—religious people or otherwise—have also the right to disagree with her but no one has the right to threaten her life or kill her simply because she expresses her opinion about religion.
Most, if not all, Muslims (either the Islamic scholars or the layman) believe that we should kill Mr. Ali.. But this raises the question: Why? Why do we threaten her or others when they criticize our religion? Why are we so insecure about our religion? Is there something in our religion that we are hiding and don’t allow others to identify? If we are secure enough about the teachings of our religion and deeply believe that our religion is the God’s word, we shouldn’t kill or threat others who criticize us, right? Let me put it this way: if we are convinced that our religion—Islam—is perfect and is the true word of God, we should be convinced that no one, including Mr. Ali, can disprove our religion. We should have the confidence to well-come everyone who criticizes it since we are convinced that what they are saying is wrong. Instead of getting offended, we should laugh at them or feel sorry for them.
Let us say that you—the reader—are a heart surgery doctor who holds a PhD. You convene a meeting and trying to help people understand how to reduce their heart problems. At the question time, one person stands up and accused you being a liar. You ask the person why he thinks that you are a liar and when he explains the reasons, you realized that he does not understand what you were talking about. How would you feel? Would you feel insecure? Or would you feel sorry for his ignorance and attempt to help him? Of course, you would feel sorry for his ignorance since you are secure enough about your knowledge. This is how a secure person would feel. But if you were lying about your knowledge, you would feel insecure and upset and threaten the person to cover your insecurities. Unfortunately, as Muslims, we act and behave as though we are insecure about our religion instead of feeling secure enough as the hypothetical doctor.
Ironically, we—as Muslims—criticize other people’s religions; we call them unbelievers; we publish books that criticize Christians, Jews or Hindus (sheikh Ahmed Deedaat alone has countless books and DVDs criticizing and ridiculing other people’s religions, Christians, Jews and Hindus. Sheikh Ahmed Deedaat gave lecture in the U.S and Europe criticizing their religion). Our Islamic stores sell these books and DVDs here in the U.S as well as in Europe and no one kills the owners of these stores or burns their businesses. Yet when they do the same thing to us; that is, when they criticize our religion, we get not only upset and offended but we threaten them; demand apology; burn their embassies; and, worst of all, kill them. What is this? Can you see our insecurity and irrational behavior? If we criticize other’s religions, we should expect the same. Others feel so offended when they hear our criticism but they don’t threaten or kill us. They simply show their disagreement by having a dialogue. They do not give fatwa’s; they do not burn our stores; and, they don’t threaten us or kill us.
No one is responsible for Mr. Ali’s actions but herself in the face of God. She takes her own responsibilities. God gave her not only the right to believe or disbelieve about Islam but also He gave her the right to criticize the religion itself. If she criticizes it, it is God’s business to punish or forgive her. It is not our business—as humans—to play God’s role and judge her. Our Sheikhs try repeatedly to argue that we should kill Mr. Ali. They justify their argument by misinterpreting some verses from the Quran or citing some Hadiths (the sayings of the prophet PBUH). And the masses blindly agreed with them since they think that God commends us to do so. If you confront these Sheikhs with logical arguments, they tell you that there is no place for logic in religion. They argue that religion is not logic and, therefore, you should not use your logic or reason in religion. This is to imply that you should accept everything religion teaches blindly. I believe that any religion that advocates the killings of those who criticize its teachings is not from God. God is not afraid or insecure about the criticisms from his people.
What these Sheikhs need to know is this: God does not have representatives in this world who represent him or whom He gave the permission to protect his religion. Everyone is equal; that is, religion does not belong to any certain groups of people. Where do these Sheikhs get the authority to give fatwa’s to kill Mr. Ali? Islam is not their property or something they own. Islam is for everyone and everyone has the right to disagree or criticize it. Those Sheikhs who gave fatwa’s and claim that they are protecting Islam are mistakenly showing their insecurity about our religion.
I personally believe that we—as Muslims—should learn the art of dialogue. We should accept the criticism from others. Some Sheikhs argue that Mr. Ali should be killed simply because she rejected her religion; that is, she is apostate. This argument loses ground for two reasons. First, everyone has the right to choose any religion. That is, if the person is Muslim and wants to leave Islam, s/he has the right to do so as the Quran states, No compulsion in religion. If people do not have the right to leave any religion, then, religion is a prison. Second, countless Sheikhs believe that Muslims have the right to leave Islam if they see fit and I agree with them. Therefore, we—Muslims—should stand to those Sheikhs and reject their unsounded and ridiculous fatwas. We should embrace our brothers and sisters who not only disagree with us but also criticize or belittle our religion. There is no need to kill them. As long as we are behaving this way, we are proving to ourselves and to others that we are not rational people who are capable of using their reason and rationality.