Those known as ‘radicals’ in West are simply the ones who adhere to Muslim faith.
By Dan Calic
For years we’ve heard Muslims commonly defined by a couple of different terms, “radical” or “moderate.”
Yet what exactly do these terms mean?
Dr. Wafa Sultan, born and raised in the Muslim culture of Syria, who now resides in the US, and is a strong advocate of women’s rights, recently provided some interesting insight on this topic during an interview. What immediately caught my attention was her comment that the term “radical” doesn’t exist in the Muslim world.
No “radicals?” What is she talking about?
“This is a term invented by the West,” according to Dr. Sultan. She also indicated those who suggest Islam has been “hijacked by radicals” were off base. Those whom the West calls “radicals” are quite simply the ones who are adherents to the faith.
Dr. Sultan explained that while there no “radicals” in the Muslim world, there are “moderates.” However, one needs to take note this has nothing to do with Islam itself.
“Islam is Islam,” she explained. A “moderate” Muslim is an individual who has made a personal choice not to be an adherent to the tenets of Islam. A typical way to describe such a person in the west is “secular.”
However, in the Muslim world a “secular” or “moderate” is considered a non-believer or infidel. Such people are routinely subjected to torture and according to Islamic law should be put to death. Islam is also the only religion that mandates the death of someone who decides to leave the faith.
While Dr. Sultan is saying individual Muslims who dilute their personal commitment to Islam, may be called “moderates,” we should not take that to mean Islam itself is moderate. That would be a critical mistake according to Dr. Sultan. And those typically referred to as “radicals” are not considered radical in the Muslim world itself.
A more accurate way to understand the terms from a Western point of view and Muslim point of view is as follows: “Moderate” translates to “infidel”; while “Radical” translates to adherent or believer. One cannot change the Koran for the sake of their individual convenience. It stands alone and obedience is required. In fact Islam means “submission.”
The views expressed by Dr. Sultan would present a challenge to Dr. Zhudi Jasser, President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Dr. Jasser considers himself to be “devout Muslim.” His organization is attempting to portray Muslims and Islam in a more palatable light. He offers a view of Muslims and Islam that starkly contrasts Dr. Sultan.
For example while speaking with him he told me “we all pray to the same God.” This statement would appear to fly in the face of what Islam itself says. For example the Muslim declaration of belief known as the Shahada says “There is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”
If as Dr. Jasser suggests we all pray to the same God, why doesn’t the Shahada say “there is no god but God?” The Shahada clearly suggests Allah is both distinctive and superior. Yet Dr. Jasser would have Jews, Christians and Muslims praying to the same God. However it doesn’t appear as though Jews and Christians are welcome in Islam according to the Koran, as these quotes indicate:
Allah stamped wretchedness upon the Jews because they killed the prophets and disbelieved Allah's revelations. 2:61
Allah turned the Sabbath-breaking Jews into apes. 2:65-66
Don't take Jews or Christians for friends. If you do, then Allah will consider you to be one of them. 5:51
Quotes such as these strongly suggest at least two points: Dr. Sultan appears to have an understanding of Islam in its truest sense, while Dr. Jasser, who does seem sincere, appears to try to place a square peg into a round hole.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -