Just got done reading this opinion piece written by Islamic convert Yvonne Ridley, a British journalist who was captured by the Taliban shortly after the 9-11 attacks after sneaking into Afghanistan in an attempt to write a story on the oppressive nature of the Taliban. They let her go after ten days once she promised to read the Koran and study Islam.
True to her word, she did just that – and enjoyed what she read and studied so much that she actually converted to Islam.
Here’s Ridley discussing her conversion:
Once I finished reading the article – titled “How I Came to Love the Veil”, I felt as though Ridley wrote it under duress. She didn’t, of course, but some of the things she said are some of the same things a woman would say if she was in the captivity of radical Islamists. You’ll know what I mean when you get the opportunity to examine what she wrote in full. So much of what she wrote stood out, but I think this excerpt did more so than the rest:
Back home in London, I kept my word about studying Islam — and was amazed by what I discovered. I’d been expecting Koran chapters on how to beat your wife and oppress your daughters; instead, I found passages promoting the liberation of women. Two-and-a-half years after my capture, I converted to Islam, provoking a mixture of astonishment, disappointment and encouragement among friends and relatives.
Now, it is with disgust and dismay that I watch here in Britain as former foreign secretary Jack Straw describes the Muslim nikab — a face veil that reveals only the eyes — as an unwelcome barrier to integration, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, writer Salman Rushdie and even Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi leaping to his defense.
Having been on both sides of the veil, I can tell you that most Western male politicians and journalists who lament the oppression of women in the Islamic world have no idea what they are talking about. They go on about veils, child brides, female circumcision, honor killings and forced marriages, and they wrongly blame Islam for all this — their arrogance surpassed only by their ignorance.
These cultural issues and customs have nothing to do with Islam. A careful reading of the Koran shows that just about everything that Western feminists fought for in the 1970s was available to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Women in Islam are considered equal to men in spirituality, education and worth, and a woman’s gift for childbirth and child-rearing is regarded as a positive attribute.
Unfortunately for Ridley, on the same day the Washington Post chose to publish her fantasy piece on Islam, they also published a piece grounded in harsh reality written by a Muslim woman by the name of Asra Q. Nomani, who as a Muslim woman would know far more about Islamic practices than a recent western convert. In a piece titled “Clothes Aren’t the Issue”, Nomani writes:
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. When dealing with a “disobedient wife,” a Muslim man has a number of options. First, he should remind her of “the importance of following the instructions of the husband in Islam.” If that doesn’t work, he can “leave the wife’s bed.” Finally, he may “beat” her, though it must be without “hurting, breaking a bone, leaving blue or black marks on the body and avoiding hitting the face, at any cost.”
Such appalling recommendations, drawn from the book “Woman in the Shade of Islam” by Saudi scholar Abdul Rahman al-Sheha, are inspired by as authoritative a source as any Muslim could hope to find: a literal reading of the 34th verse of the fourth chapter of the Koran, An-Nisa , or Women. “[A]nd (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them,” reads one widely accepted translation.
The notion of using physical punishment as a “disciplinary action,” as Sheha suggests, especially for “controlling or mastering women” or others who “enjoy being beaten,” is common throughout the Muslim world. Indeed, I first encountered Sheha’s work at my Morgantown mosque, where a Muslim student group handed it out to male worshipers after Friday prayers one day a few years ago.
Verse 4:34 retains a strong following, even among many who say that women must be treated as equals under Islam. Indeed, Muslim scholars and leaders have long been doing what I call “the 4:34 dance” — they reject outright violence against women but accept a level of aggression that fits contemporary definitions of domestic violence.
Although Islamic historians agree that the prophet Muhammad never hit a woman, it is also clear that Muslim communities face a domestic violence problem. A 2003 study of 216 Pakistani women found that 97 percent had experienced such abuse; almost half of them reported being victims of nonconsensual sex. Earlier this year, the state-run General Union of Syrian Women released a report showing that one in four married Syrian women is the victim of domestic violence.
Much of the problem is the 4:34 dance, which encourages this violence while producing interpretations that range from comical to shocking. A Muslim man in upstate New York, for instance, told his wife that the Koran allowed him to beat her with a “wet noodle.” The host of a Saudi TV show displayed a pool cue as a disciplinary tool.
Modern debates over 4:34 inevitably hark back to a still widely used 1930 translation of the Koran by British Muslim Marmaduke Pickthall, who determined the verse to mean that, as a last resort, men can “scourge” their wives. A 1934 translation of the Koran, by Indian Muslim scholar A. Yusuf Ali, inserted a parenthetical qualifier: Men could “Beat them (lightly).”
I don’t know what Ridley’s smoking, but I suspect it’s the some of the same stuff her fellow Respect party member George ‘I count the Husseins among my closest buddies’ Galloway is. Nomani destroyed her argument without even knowing it.
Charles Johnson is outraged that the Washington Post printed Ridley’s piece, and has called on his readers to contact the WaPo to express their displeasure. While I don’t have an issue with the WaPo’s publishing of Ridley’s writings – because I think it’s important to know how delusional deniers of the brutality of radical Islam really are – I do have an issue with the fact that they didn’t inform their readers of who Ridley was beyond a ‘political editor of Islam TV’. Johnson notes:
Yvonne Ridley is a member of George Galloway’s RESPECT party, and has written numerous essays defending Islamic terrorism. She described those murdered in last year’s terrorist attacks in Jordan as “collaborators.” She wrote, “I think I’d rather put up with a brother like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi any day than have a traitor or sell-out for a father, son or grandfather.” She described Shamil Basaev, the mastermind of the massacre of Russian school children at Beslan, as “a Shaheed” or martyr. She was fired by Al Jazeera because she was too extreme even for them.
She’s also urged Muslims in east London to stop cooperating with police who are trying to track and stop terrorists, citing “Islamophobic” attitudes on the part of London police.
Contact the Washington Post and ask them why they neglected to share this information with their readers.