Heeding the Times from Harry Antonides' Desk

From Slavery to Freedom

June 8, 2009

Nonie Darwish, born into an Egyptian Muslim family, wrote Now They Call me Infidel (2006), which is the story of her journey from Egyptian Muslim to American Christian. And a gripping story it is.

Her new book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law is a clearly written description and evaluation of radical Islam.

Darwish explains that the roots of sharia can be traced to the harsh climate and the brutal culture in which Mohammed (570-632) thrived, and in the last ten years of his life was able to obtain a position of supremacy. It was a culture, writes Darwish, which internally was based on tribal loyalty, while externally it was warlike and cruel.

What made it possible for Mohammed to rise from obscurity to the head of a religious movement that within a very short time dominated many countries?

The answer to that question, says Darwish, is that Mohammed and his successors soon realized that the five spiritual pillars of Islam (the creed, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage) were insufficient to recruit and retain the loyalty of its followers. This, says Darwish, is what moved Islam “from the realm of religion to the realm of political totalitarian ideology.”

She argues that Islam became a form of “Arab imperialism and a protectionist tool to preserve what they believe to be a supremacist Arab culture.” Without violent jihad, Mohammed could not have become the ruler of Medina, Islam could not have sustained itself in Arabia, and it would not have been able to defeat the great surrounding civilizations.

A Cry from the heart

Under sharia every detail of male-female relations are strictly regulated and enforced, robbing women of all freedom and spontaneity. Darwish calls the sharia marriage contract “the lock on the gender cage.” This document is essentially a contract that grants the male sexual intercourse rights and gives him total control over his wife or wives. (cf. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s The Caged Virgin.)

The chapter “Women: the Center of Oppression” describes the humiliation and abuse suffered by women under sharia law, which reduces them to virtual house slaves, being beaten or worse, stoned to death when accused of adultery or disobeying the husband or the father (“honour killings”), subjected to genital mutilation with painful life-long consequences. The list goes on.

The result is a life of misery and deprivation described by Saudi women’s rights activist Wajiha Al-Huweidar, who states that Saudi society is based on the enslavement of women to men and of society to the state. She says that Saudi women have been denied everything and that they lead the lives of slave girls. She laments that “we remain in this prison and nobody ever hears of us. When will we be freed? I don’t know.”

To treat women as inferior creatures, not to be trusted, and not to be shown “excess of affection” for that would empower them, is in a real sense to hurt men, too. Darwish points out that sharia “ripped apart” the core of trust of the family and replaced it with hostility and anger that poison all relationships in the family and from there into all of society..

Free at Last”

It is impossible to do justice in a brief review to this fine and insightful book about an extremely serious threat to the “peace, order, and good government” of this and every other country on this planet. It is a most timely wake-up call. Are we listening?

In reflecting on this question, it is prudent to remember her statement that ”the problem is not so much individual Muslims as it is the Muslim scriptures commanding them to kill.”

She asks what a Muslim does if he wants to rise above the hatred; “How did I do it?” She replies that she did not want to hate, lie, or consider non-Muslims her enemies. Nor did she want to befriend or defend killers. She left Islam because she felt secure enough in America to dare to leave “the culture of hate, the prison of Islam.” She concludes:

Without America I could never have done it; I could not have escaped from the claws of Sharia and seen the light. I learned the other side of the story, a story untold in my Muslim society of origin, which enabled me to complete a picture, a picture of people who wanted to remain faithful to Judaism and Christianity and are suffering every day in the Muslim world. I learned truths about them from the Bible, the Old and the New Testaments. And I am grateful.

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