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Interested in Islam?

- The ‘Readers Digest’ Agenda
Rafique Mirza

THERE are apologists and then there are apologists. And then there is Sai’d Al-Ashmawy, former chief justice of Egypt’s Supreme Court and the author of 15 books on Islam. Above all he is the author of an introduction to Islam in the ‘World’s Most Read Magazine’. ‘Islam’s Real Agenda’ (Reader’s Digest, January 1996, US Edition) deserves special place in the Hall of Shame that owes its existence to a new breed of liberal apologists.

New Islam: According to Al-Ashmawy, ‘Muslims believe that God, or Allah, revealed some 1400 years ago a new spiritual faith to a middle-class merchant...’ While the language is uncouth, the facts are crooked. For the Quran insists that Islam is not a new religion, it is the same religion that every Prophet was sent with. Yet we must grant that Al-Ashmawy’s religion is certainly new.

Consider these gems about Islam: According to him 90% of the Shari’ah is ‘conventional jurisprudence arrived at by ordinary men.’Obviously that much can be easily thrown out today to live in a ‘modern democratic world’. Even the other 10% per cent should not pose any problem for most of it were ‘temporary injunctions related to particular situations in which the Prophet and his followers found themselves in the seventh century’

What is more even those injunctions have not been understood by ‘fanatic’ Muslims and their illiterate followers. For example, there is no requirement for hijab in the Quran. ‘In the Prophet’s time, many women went about with their breasts uncovered.’ So, the Quran just asked them to pull a cloth across the chest. Similarly, Jihad. ‘Actually, the Koran’s call to arms, or jihad (‘holy war’), relates to a specific episode when the Prophet prepared to attack his enemies from the city of Mecca.’ Too bad that in the past century the British had to spawn a prophet of their own, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiyani (1835-1908) to abrogate jihad. Al-Ashmawy could have done it so easily without breaking ranks with the 1.5 billion Muslims.

Islamic State is the same way. There never was any such thing as an Islamic State, ‘no government as we think of it today.’ Surprised? Well, ‘The Prophet never formed a cabinet, put together a budget, or established a police force. `Obviously it makes no sense to strive to resurrect something now when it never existed.

Tolerance: Al-Ashmawy declares with obvious pride: ‘My Islam is a religion of tolerance and brotherhood.’ He goes to great lengths to show his brotherhood and tolerance for all the peoples of the world, specially Jews and Christians. That is wonderful. However, there is one exception. He has no tolerance for young Muslim men who wear beards and robes; Muslim women who conceal themselves in hijab; ‘extremists’ who preach a return to true religious values of former times and want to live under ‘strict shariah and ‘militants who look back nostalgically to an ideal Islamic State.’

He freely uses phrases like ‘Islamic militants’, ‘Islamic extremists’, ‘fanatics’, and ‘thugs’ to describe those outside his universal circle of brotherhood.

His anger at these ‘fanatics’ is justified because they are threatening his hopes for ‘peace’ with Israel. They are also to be blamed for all the troubles in his world. When US media, aided by dedicated Israeli propagandists like Steven Emerson, blamed Muslims for Oklahoma Federal Building bombing, he was pained deeply to realise how much of the world now thinks of Islam as a religion of killers.’ Talk of blaming the victims. One shudders to think that this man was the chief justice in Egypt’s Supreme Court. A few days after Oklahoma bombing, even Steven Emerson found himself explaining his blatant lies presented as expert opinions. After Al-Ashmawy’s article he should feel vindicated.

Readers Digest’s holy war against Islam is nothing new. In January 1994, it published ‘All in the Name of Islam’ which reported that Muslims oppress their women and since there are a billion Muslims in the world ‘we are talking hypothetically about 500 million Muslim women’ who might want to flee their homes to seek protection in the West.

In January 1995, it published ‘A Holy War Heads Our Way’ to present Islam as a fascist religion. How Al-Ashmawy uses the same language and the same allegations to demonise the same people and the same religion. But this time the Digest has found a Muslim name to stamp all of its anti-Islamic propaganda. This is not unlike the use of the so-called Palestinian Authority to fight Israel’s war against Palestinians. And the results are similar. One Muslim newsletter in the US praised this trash as a ‘very well written article that aims at dispelling the negative stereotyping of Muslims and Islam in the Western media’. Sure. With friends like these who needs enemies?

It is sad, but not surprising, that Egypt, the home of Al-Azhar, has become the source for such crass scholarship. It is no secret that the leading Muslim country, Egypt, has been the focus of the most intense activities in all spheres of life to corrupt and suppress its Islamic personality. The largest US embassy anywhere is in Cairo. And the $3 billion annual US ‘aid’ used for cultivating entire cadres of civilian and military elites seems to be paying off. It is sad, but not surprising, that Reader’s Digest should find willing accomplices in its propaganda war against Islam.

At a time when interest in Islam is at an all-time high and even Mrs Clinton is declaring herself to be an eager student of Islam, it is to be expected that there will be an increase in the anti-Islamic propaganda campaign. But it only means that those who want to fight such propaganda must redouble their efforts.

Muslimedia - April 1996-August 1996

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 25, No. 2

Dhu al-Qa'dah 12, 14161996-04-01

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