Knowledge has released me

Saturday, March 11, 2006
Those words were spoken by Dr. Wafa Sultan in a NYT article discussing her journey from devout Islam to the secular world. Her appearance on Al-Jazeera caused a firestorm when she bluntly questioned Islam in its own back yard. This woman and people like her are a greater threat to the reactionary imams who rule the Muslim world than any Cursader army could ever be. Her book entitled The Escaped Prisoner: When God is a Monster will be ready for publication soon.

In the interview, which has been viewed on the Internet more than a million times and has reached the e-mail of hundreds of thousands around the world, Dr. Sultan bitterly criticized the Muslim clerics, holy warriors and political leaders who she believes have distorted the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran for 14 centuries.

She said the world's Muslims, whom she compares unfavorably with the Jews, have descended into a vortex of self-pity and violence.

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.

In response, clerics throughout the Muslim world have condemned her, and her telephone answering machine has filled with dark threats. But Islamic reformers have praised her for saying out loud, in Arabic and on the most widely seen television network in the Arab world, what few Muslims dare to say even in private.

Read it all, really.


CF said...

She is remarkable. My Moslem friends think as she does though they haven't the courage to say this outside their own circle.

terrye said...


Well once people start saying it, hopefully more and more people will say it and with numbers will come courage.

truepeers said...

Terrye do you think that "moderate Muslims" can find a way to practice their religious faith with great seriousness, or are they simply people in the process of stepping away from serious religious faith?

gumshoe1 said...

"Terrye do you think that "moderate Muslims" can find a way to practice their religious faith with great seriousness, or are they simply people in the process of stepping away from serious religious faith?"

what's the term,truepeers?
"false dicotomy"??

stepping away from Islam
does not automatically =
"stepping away from serious religious faith".

and no,
i don't feel the need
to tell others what to believe,
beyond pointing out the advantage to mankind of rejecting membership
in a death cult.

truepeers said...

Gumshoe, yes my question is poorly worded. Let me try again: is what people mean by "moderate Muslim" compatible with a seriously Islamic life, or only with a movement away from a seriously Islamic life? IS the MM one who retains some kind of Moslem identity, without fully embracing Islam? Sultan, for example, calls herself secular. SHe has given up her religion.

I'm not trying to be provocative at the moment; it is simply a question I've been asking myself with no clear answer yet. Daniel Pipes, e.g., does not show us enough moderate Muslims to give me faith in the future of a moderate Islam, as opposed to conversion or apostasy. Yet i cannot discount the MM idea entirely.

gumshoe1 said...

proselytizing religious cultures
all have this problem
(unlike Judaism or Buddhism,for example)

as i beleive you and i have discussed before,attaching oneself to "ultimate answers" usually entails one's desire (if not demand) that others not only share,but support those same answers.

the buddhist doctrine of
"ehi passika",which i believe
is sanskrit for "come and see"...

is sometimes paraphrased
as the buddha saying:

"i claim that what i have to teach is the Truth.
take it.
use it for yourself.
if it works,keep it.
if does not,THROW IT AWAY."

i find a great deal of confidence
in a doctrine
taught in such a manner.

it puts the odd Quranic
verse or two about
"no compulsion in religion"
to shame.


another worthy anecdote
in that vein is Hannah Arendt's distinction between
"competent authority"
and "incompetent authority".

the former you can question all day.

the latter flies into a rage at the mere hint of being questioned.

terrye said...

I have worked with Muslims who were not frothing at the mouth and so I would say yes you could, if you lived in a culture that allowed such a thing.

I know it is common today for people to simply write off an established religion with a 1400 year history and more than a billion adherents as a "death cult" but I consider that view to be unrealistic and hysterical.

That does not mean that I do not think Islam must adapt, it must, most religions do. In fact it has been quite some time since the Catholics burned anyone at the stake or ran all the Jews out of a country.

Christianity left the middle ages behind and I am sure there were a lot of other people who would have considered that impossible.

But I consider myself a practical person and I think it is more reasonable to hope that Islam will reform than it is to hope it will vanish from the face of the earth.

Unless of course we are to start talking of final solutions or some other genocidal mayhem. And that would help bring about the End of the Everything scenario the jihadis are always raving about.

gumshoe1 said...

false dichotomy,terrye:

one can state their feeling
that Islam is a "death cult"
and have no desire or be in no support of "final solutions".

"i'll make you an offer
you can't refuse".

"don't hurt our feelings
or we'll riot and burn (and kill)".

my solution is to have people recognize
the intimidation of belief represented by Islam.

there is no morality
(and no responsibility)
without free-will.

terrye said...


You can say whatever you like.

I happen to think calling one billion people a death cult is hystrionic.