Thursday, May 22, 2008

Why the Islamists are so wrong about Islam

Asma Afsaruddin (see photo), professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana (USA), in her book The First Muslims: History and Memory argues that the Islamist depiction of the early history of Islam is dead wrong. It is not 'the real Islam', and she has excellent arguments.

She concludes: "It is quite clear that those whom we call 'modernists' today are in fact much closer to the salaf as-salih in their world view, as reflected in the early sources." In fact, she goes on to call the modernists "the true salafis". In other words, under the standards that Islamists themselves set, they fall short.

In the area of women's rights, she shows that the Islamist view of women isn't based on how the salaf women actually lived, but on how 13th-15th century Islamic scholars misleadingly depicted the first generation of Muslim women. E.g., the 15th century scholar Ibn Hajar "editorialised" and engaged in a "reconstruction" of a number of the Muslim women from the 7th century, so they would come off as passive, docile and submissive as opposed to how they were really: active, involved in the public sphere, and independent.

For a good book review, see Ali Eteraz in the Guardian.

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