The Muslim World’s Problems Are Because Islam Needs Reform [I disagree] Part 3

The Muslim World’s Problems Are Because Islam Needs Reform [I disagree] Part 3


When I say “trouble with Islam” I mean it on a micro-level. The way Islam is used in every day life. All the problems you list exist. But also, for example: when a tribal custom becomes confused with the faith. For example: the Burka, or honour-killing, or genital mutilation of girls, all of which predates the Koran. Once a custom starts to be justified using the Holy text it becomes a “problem” – perhaps not “with Islam” but “around Islam” – I’m willing to argue about semantics.

Salaam alykum,

The fact that problems exist does not mean that the religion, or whatever social system you want, has failed. If we are to seek out a perfect solution for imperfect beings, then we are going to never find one. With this in mind, I find Islam to be perfect, because it is the only religion that addresses humanity’s imperfection.

If you want to discuss “micro-level” problems then you should stop using “macro-level” groupings. Each particular problem you list is unique to distinct and separate geographic locations, and thus to use “macro-level” arguments and using broad brushstrokes towards very specific issues is a rather disingenuous argument.

Take Female Genital Mutilation. This is a practice that transcends religion and is practiced by both Muslims and Christians on the Eastern Coast of Africa. It is absent from Saudi Arabia, which is supposedly the cradle of all potential problems with Islam. This practice does not occur in Iran, either. Rudiger Nehberg, a German man who founded a human rights organization directed against fighting FGM said: “this custom can only be brought to an end with the power of Islam.”

It is a custom, plain and simple, and it is through Islam that we may bring about the end of horrid practices invented by cultural traditions. The fact that FGM is unequivocally unIslamic was affirmed by Egyptian Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa who called upon the most important Islamic scholars in the world, in a noted conference in December 2006.

Or let us take “honor killings” which are never labeled as such when other people conduct such behavior, such as Hindus whether in India or North America, but when a Muslim is involved, suddenly the label “honor killings” emerges. Furthermore, the fact that American women are subjected to domestic violence by either their current or former intimate partners, with 1.3 million women being assaulted by partners per year.

The discourse on “honor killing” is misleading, and the causes for these senseless and disgusting crimes are not found in “religion” or even “cultural factors” because, as the statistics show in American domestic violence, all races are equally vulnerable to domestic violence. Don’t trust me, check out the Department of Justice’s statistics.

When you look at the statistics of honor killings, it becomes rather clear that religion is not at the heart of the issue. In Jordan 69.4% of men who committed what we call “honor killings” did not preform their daily prayers, while 55% did not fast. The statistics illustrate that other issues come into play, for example, most of these men had records of violent behavior; 35.1% had already served sentences for previous crimes. 32.4% were illiterate. 3.7% had attended college, while 24.1% were raised in broken homes.

Asifa Quraishi, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin argues that the most effective means to oppose harmful practices done in the name of Shariah is “to challenge the compliance of these laws to Islamic principles, instead of arguing for the removal of Sharia.”

So, again, if you think that these issues (FGM, honor killings, etc) are the central concerns of Muslim populations, I simply have to say you are mistaken. There is no doubt that FGM and honor killings should end, but they are the concern of people outside, the domestic populations have very different concerns, especially the women.

For instance, 81% of Iraqi women said “religious authorities should play a direct role in crafting family law,” while 58% opposed the “separation of religion from political power.” In Afghanistan only 5% of women said Shariah should have no role in forming legislation, whereas 85% say it should be least asource. Meanwhile, 45% said it should be the only source.

Fatima Gailani, who deals with women’s issues in Afghanistan said: “If I go to Afghanistan today and ask women for votes on the promise to bring them secularism, they are going to tell me to go to hell.”

What is even funnier is that what we seldom speak about is the percentages of women in higher education in the Muslim world. 52% in Iran, 34% in Egypt, 32% in Saudi Arabia, 37% in Lebanon, all have post-secondary education. Compare that with 4% in Brazil or 11% in the Czech Republic.

If we take the UNESCO 2005 Gender and Development report, the ratio of women to men enrolled in secondary education was 100% or higher in Jordan, Algeria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Libya, UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Compare that to 74% in India. Just by way of contrast, Saudi Arabia’s rate was 89%.

Furthermore, when asked open-ended questions on their concerns, gender inequality was not of primary concern, it was not mentioned at all in Jordan, only 1% in Egypt, 2% in Morocco. It was mentioned by 5% of respondents in Saudi Arabia, though, it must be said that it was outranked by “lack of unity” and “high unemployment.”

That’s not to say that women’s rights aren’t an issue, it’s that far more pragmatic concerns are at the forefront of Muslim women’s minds.

Again, I want to be clear. I’m not trying to say that women are free, no problems, yay Muslim world, I’m saying that A) things are different, that B) there are problems, but they are not centered on the concerns of people from outside, which is unsurprising.

That is not to say that men are silent on the issue, either. 72% of men in Morocco believe women should have a guaranteed right to vote. Iran’s rate is 87%. In Saudi Arabia, where voting is an illegal act, 58% of men believed that women should vote.

We then ask ourselves, is Islam the problem? When we look at men’s views of women’s rights, most countries did not show any statistical difference regarding whether a man was religious and whether he supported women’s rights or not, however, interestingly enough, in Lebanon, Morocco, and Iran, men who supported women’s rights were found to be more religious than those who do not support women’s rights.

So, if you want to argue that Islam argues this or that, go ahead, because at the end of the day, statistics don’t lie, and the evidence underlines that the problems that do exist in the Muslim World are far more pragmatic and generally economic in origin.

And quite frankly, if Islam is the problem, then there is no solution.

*All these statistics (unless otherwise stated) were conducted by Gallup.

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