Hirsi Ali: Telling a Critic From an Islamophobe

hirsiKashif N. Chaudhry
Physician, writer and humanitarian
Huffington Post Religion

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born U.S. citizen who is known — among other things — for her radical views on Islam. Her supporters consider her a leading critic, while many others believe she is guilty of Islamophobia and bigotry. I think she is a perfect case to educate people on the difference between the two.

Hirsi Ali immigrated to the Netherlands in 1992, claiming to escape a forced marriage. There, she rose to become a member of the House of Representatives in 2003. However, she was forced to resign from the Dutch parliament when her biographical details were challenged and publicly exposed as a chain of fabrications. She admitted to the lies and decided to move to the U.S. Just recently, Hirsi Ali was in the news again when Brandeis University, which had earlier nominated Hirsi for a honorary degree, decided she was not a fit candidate for the honor. “We cannot overlook that certain of her past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values,” the university said. It added, “For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of Ms Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements.”

There is certainly all freedom to hold a different opinion within Islam or about Islam. Intellectual criticism leads to dialogue, which in turn leads to better understanding. However, there is a difference between critiquing Islam and spreading irrational fear of Muslims. There is a difference between intellectually commenting on a religion and inciting hatred of its adherents.

For better or worse, Muslims are not one unified community. As such, attributing the beliefs and acts of one extreme minority group — like the Taliban — to the whole community of Muslims worldwide is dishonest. Hirsi Ali is guilty of exactly this. She disregards the interpretation and practice of Islam by moderate Muslims and insists the interpretation of the terrorists is the only correct one. She contends that Islam is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death” that must be defeated at all costs.

In an interview with Reason magazine, this became clear when the interviewer asked if by “defeating Islam” Hirsi Ali meant, “defeating radical Islam?” She replied: “No. Islam, period.” When the reporter asked her to further elaborate what she meant by “defeat Islam” she replied: “I think that we are at war with Islam. And there is no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways… You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, ‘This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.’ There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”

The interviewer then asked, “Militarily?” Hirsi Ali replied: “In all forms.”

Hirsi Ali’s defenders point out that she did not refer to militarily attacking Muslims but attacking Islam — that it is kosher to attack an ideology as long as people were not affected. When pressed to explain how Islam would be “militarily crushed,” if not by military action on Muslims, they finally conceded that Hirsi Ali was in fact speaking of radical Muslims. This is all good, except that the only person who does not make that important distinction between radical Islam and moderate Islam is Hirsi Ali herself when she claims the threat is not from radical Islam but from “Islam, period.”

This dangerous xenophobia against Muslims is not surprising. Hirsi Ali has been stroking an irrational fear of Muslims amongst western audiences for the last many years. This has led to increased intolerance, even violence. Andres Breivik — who went on a killing spree in Norway in 2011 — praised Hirsi Ali in his manifesto, stating that she deserved a Nobel Peace Prize. Hirsi has supported anti-immigration policies that target Muslim communities in the west. She has also suggested that the U.S. constitution be amended to restrict Muslim civil liberties. She has called for closure of all Muslim day schools in the U.S.

Imagine Hirsi Ali using the exact same words for Judaism, i.e., that Judaism is “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death”, which must be militarily crushed. Imagine her advocating the closure of all Jewish day schools in the U.S. Imagine her saying the same things about any other religion or philosophy.

I decided to carry out an experiment to see if Hirsi’s defenders were indeed right and there was nothing wrong in saying what she did. I put “atheism must be crushed in all forms, including militarily” as my Facebook status. Reactions came in fast and I was labelled “against the spirit of secularism,” “sad soul,” “intolerant and insane,” “no different from the Taliban,” etc.

I agree. Hirsi is not very different from the radical extremists she ought to be really targetting. She gives them credibility by claiming their version of Islam is the only correct one and others, like me, are “bad Muslims.” Like the Taliban, Hirsi is rigid in her views and is judgmental. Like them, she speaks to curtail the civil liberties of fellow citizens and inspires intolerance and violence. We must not encourage such behavior with honorary degrees. Her bigotry must be condemned in all forms — except militarily.

This post was originally published in Pakistan’s The Daily Times.

Follow Kashif N. Chaudhry on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KashifMD

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kashif-n-chaudhry/hirsi-ali-telling-a-criti-islamophobia_b_5229502.html

8 replies

  1. Nice and resourceful way of setting standards! What reading you triggered in my mind:

    What would happen if those whose practice of faith Hirsi theoretically crushed, searched and filled the vacuum of bereavement from the journey to, the search for the sight of, Allah with something new she approved of… until they then decided to call it Islam?

  2. Assalaamu Alaikum Rafiq,

    Thanks for your response and asking me to clarify, and please forgive me for my terrible shorthand. I am assuming by writing in that way that Muslims in general ARE united by some values, one of them being seeking the nearness to Allah.

    Kashif Chaudhry turned the tables on Hirsi’s standards for measuring the ethics of Islam by posting a status on FB (crush Atheism). Thereby he set a similar standard by which other belief or non-belief systems can be measured, no? If this premise is acceptable, then:

    While I was reading his article, something popped up in my mind: Suppose Hirsi’s goals (to crush Islam, period) had been fulfilled – the crushing of “Islam as and Ideology” – by crushing all people who identify themselves as “Muslim”, then what might the scenario then be [theoretically speaking because, of course, Islam cannot nor will be crushed – so I am stretching the thinking to build a set of posits]?

    Now, here I am referring to “Muslim” as someone who is constantly in the search of nearness to Allah, (theoretically only) being severed from a means of continuing his or her search for that nearness to Allah, seeking that sight of Allah.

    Being separated from this access to search would also imply that one would, in not being able to find a path (siratul-mustaqim), become bereaved. It is like suddenly going blind – not knowing in which direction to turn – once your material and symbolic cultures have been stolen from you by the likes of Hirsi, if she were to succeed. Suddenly losing a sense of the Divine by being severed from a means of reaching Him would, literally, become a torture, worse than death itself.

    To my mind, this is the degree to which has reached her hate she towards someone (I don’t know whom) in her life, that she is willing to transfer that hate to anyone who calls himself Muslim, which must be quite a ghastly ethical basis upon which to sell oneself, (successfully to the highest bidder, which sometimes seems to be what some of these ex- and anti-Muslim secularists are doing).

    Imagine, now, that Islam has been (theoretically) crushed. Muslims would then feel bereaved (as in Gitmo, for example) for the separation and alienation from the right to live and celebrate life as a believer. Would they now not be in search of something to fill the vacuum? Is this not the way in which Islam found a wide variety of expressions, too?

    Whatever Hirsi (as a theoretically benevolent dictator) allowed those bereaved of their Islam to do in order to restore themselves from that bereavement under her beneficial rules (if she had any morality in her being, which is what she claims she has), would, obviously be siratul-mustaqim as long as such people did not openly give it that name, if you follow me thus far.

    Immediately their stream of search would once again flow into the wider rivers which run towards Allah Who, after all, whatever name you give to Reality, is the only Reality, as anyone who has had the baraka of means to see can see.

    My question is, what would happen in such a scenario where Islam (as the practice of a search) had been overtly blotted out by the likes of Hirsi, but is being covertly practiced by names given to it approved by Hirsi and her ilk alone?!! I mean, let us imagine for a moment: suppose such a dictatorship had been given rope to succeed by the wrong people? And what name would someone like Hirsi give such a replacement for Islam? Has she extrapolated the consequences of having removed the spirit/ emotion/ culture and faith components of humanity from her simplistic projections? Is she purporting also to have the intellectual prowess to remove the IMAGINATION that directs the seeker towards Allah through Islam?

    I am not sure whether I have still made any sense but do tell me!

    [I had a long argument with an anonymous secularist group (which was adamant about hiding their true identities) on Twitter. It has been removed now because I blocked them after I realised by what arguments they had attempted to confound me and can tell you about it another time. My conclusion was that they are probably Zionist-funded and are commissioned to use the word, “Islam” to cover everything that is criminal and it is very frustrating. I finally concluded that they are not talking about Islam at all but things like ‘Ghazniism’ and all criminality perpetrated in the name of Islam. They are probably victims of abuse, as Muslims or ex-Muslims or anti-Muslims, and are easy fodder for the proponents of using hate for political ends. But the problem of stoking the fires in the hearts of the likes of Hirsi and other simplistic forms of Secularism is far from solved.]

    • Thanks Mohammad for the detailed explanation. Simply put the problem with Hirsi and others like her is that they take the worst of so-called Muslims and then tell the world that all Muslims are like that. We see this problem all the time on The Muslim Times comments. The editors of TMT and practically all of its readers have absolutely nothing to do with any of these terrorists, murderers etc. not by action and not by thought and not by sympathy.

  3. I read you, Rafiq. Well put. I have been reading your publication with much admiration and have found a lot of reference material (eg Bani Khuraiza which has been a really sticky wicket for me). I have a good rebuttal for this one on my site by Zina Khan.

    Also they do not have the ability or desire to discern between what is Islam and what is not, don’t you think? This is outright dishonesty.

    They are very clever, shouldn’t be underestimated and, unlike Muslims, they are often better than us at working unitedly! Best to keep one’s comments very clear and unambiguous.

    Whatever she is, Hirsi is resourceful. … Certainly, she is misled. I feel that she sells herself too cheaply evidenced by the kinds of groups she allows herself to be supported by.

    I have read some really good analyses on economic and women’s issues, too, offerred by Secularists, even though I find their anti-Islam very disagreeable and hurtful.

    Anyway, Allahu Akbar!: God is Greater!

    Do we, Muslim should blame Hirsi Ali?
    Allah said in the book of Wisdom (prophet Dauud).
    A wise man respect for criticism, and thanks to him, but stupid people get angry. Proverb.
    A wise man listen to advice, but stupid ignore it.Proverb.
    As I say many times here, we have to explain clearly to our students, Muslim communities that all violent Hadist are FALSE Hadits. All ancient laws of Allah as above can not apply in the present day.
    May Allah guide her to the right oath of Islam.Amen
    With all my Love

    • My mother (may she rest in peace) used to say: “You tell me who your friends are and I tell you how you are”. Hirsi Ali has been kicked out of the Netherlands because her asylum request was based on lies (including the supposed to be forced marriage). What does that make her friends?

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