Asking questions is the right thing to do, and listening to the answer without interrupting is the civil thing to do. If we jump around from question to question without answering one, we achieve nothing, and that is a disservice to Sean Hannity's fans. That is precisely what happened on Hannity's show yesterday: a shouting match.
I thought I was dealing with an intellectual, but I was seriously disappointed with Bill Cunningham, a veteran TV and radio host who parrots the same spiel memorized over the years. He simply refused to hear another point of view and kept shouting louder. I thought of matching him, but chose to back off. He failed the audience by interrupting me from giving the answers to public; they deserve to know about the flawed survey.
I am writing this in particular to my friends, including Muslims, who have started watching Hannity. Over the last three years I have been on his show, he has made a genuine effort to bring a "semblance" of another point of view. I tip my hat to him for telling me in front of an audience of nearly 25 in February this year (which included Rep. Peter King, Rep. Louis Gohmert, Pamela Geller and other Fox commentators) that he is not against Muslims, but against radicals who are indeed enemies of humanity as well as Muslims. That took courage, and he delivered it with firmness.
He said he values me as a Muslim, and has kept his word that he is not against Muslims. Not only that, even Rep. Peter King has corrected his tone after that meeting, when he said, "Ninety-nine percent of Muslims are outstanding Americans," with a "but," compared to his reckless statements a year earlier. I welcome these tones and applaud Hannity for leading the pack to be sensitive toward fellow Americans.
I salute those Americans who are critical of the government and relentlessly keep them on their toes. Whether it is Obama or Clinton in the future, we should keep them on a tight leash, and Hannity does that well. He is a great American from that point of view.
Fox continues to remain alarmist, and I welcome that; however, I am committed to demystify the myths and bring sanity to the public through my writings and speeches.
The following were the talking points that I could not get to:
The Premise of Pew Survey Is Flawed
The survey has failed to recognize lack of alterative laws in Muslim majority nations; this makes the survey questionable in its authenticity.
You ask an American or a Canadian about the laws that govern their nations to serve justice, and the only laws they know are the laws of the land. Other than Jews and Muslims, most citizens do not have clue about any other laws to mediate family disputes.
The only law Muslim majority nations have known for decades is the law of their land: sharia. These laws just did not spring up for Fox News to be alarmed; they have been around for 12 of the last 14 centuries of Islamic tradition. The Muslims in Yemen, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad or Iran do not even have an idea of another law.
Had the survey asked the question if the respondents were aware of alternate laws to serve justice, the answers would have been different? If they were asked what is that they want, they would have said Justice, and the only known source of justice to them is sharia. Would the Pew Survey expect Yemenis to say they want American Civil Laws?
Western vs. Eastern Muslims
Despite the wrong foundation of the survey, it remarkably differentiates between Muslims who are familiar with alternate laws and those who are not. Most of the nations that are under 30 percent favorability toward Sharia (the ones adjacent to secular nations) like Kosovo, Bosnia, Russia, Lebanon, Turkey and Kazakhstan favor other laws over Sharia. Whereas nations where there is no alternate law have chosen the only thing they know: sharia.
What beefs my conclusion is the cognizance of alternatives, and the fact that almost all the nations overwhelming believe in religious freedom -- more than 90 percent of them. This is great news and should be a notice to the State Department to tailor the foreign policy to bring about the freedom for people through dialogue and not the destructive wars.
What Is Sharia?
I wrote a piece in The Huffington Post in July of 2010 called, "Sharia law not in America." It is one of the most simple but comprehensive articles to understand sharia. Everyone will get it. The revised version of the article is named "Genesis of Sharia" at Sharia Laws.Com.
Radical Muslims are the mirror image of radical Republicans, who want to ban abortion and strip women's' right to ownership of her body, who are against equal pay for women, against same sex marriage and against background checks to purchase guns.
Muslims Are Sick of Extremists
In my previous appearance on Hannity, I proclaimed Muslims are sick of extremist, just as all of Americans are.
Indeed, two of the American presidential candidates would support the idea of obedient wife. The macho man Rick Santorum and obedient wife Michele Bachmann believe in that. Romney would have preferred the wife to stay home and cook food and raise children. What if the radical Republicans get the majority in the House and Senate and one of them is the president? You can expect Santorum or Bachmann brand of sharia in America.
Sharia Laws Need Serious Updating
The laws on divorce, rape, apostasy, blasphemy, inheritance and adultery are not only outdated, but some do not reflect the values of Quran, which is justice. Most of these laws, though inspired by Quran, are a human effort to serve justice, but do the opposite.
In case of obedience part, it goes against the grain of Islam. Quran 2:187 says, "Men and women are each other's garments." In other words, confidants, protectors, defenders and friends and must treat each other fairly. One of the prophet's saying is that a woman can disobey her husband if he compels her to act against her will in the matters of faith. Mutual consent and freedom is essential in a relationship. In practice whether they are Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Hindu men, they cross the boundaries with women. Religion or the laws of the land don't mean a thing to rapists, murderers and violent men.
In the cultural context, the Muslim respondents in that survey took the word obedience to mean a conflict-free home -- and not necessarily slavery.
Freedom to Practice Religion
This is one of the most valuable parts of the survey. Muslims are sick of living under monarchies, dictators and under the thumbs of Mullahs and Fatwa bombs, but when they have the freedom they choose the right thing: to be fair and just, a basic human trait.
More than 80 percent of the Muslim respondents prefer freedom of faith across the world. The dissonance is particularly strong in Pakistan and Bangladesh, where democracy has yet to realize its fruits, while one nation is laden with senseless, imperialistic, unjust Hudood laws, which the dictator of Pakistan, Zia ul-Haq, imposed and carried through with no one having the guts to repeal. But Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have spoken strongly against it with 97 percent and 96 percent of them supporting freedom to practice religion. It shows their disgust for the current practices which are not their choosing.
Sean Hannity may be right: Egypt is doomed with the Brotherhood at its helm. But look at what 77 percent of Egyptians want: freedom of religion.
Hell, 90 percent of Americans and 80 percent of the Republicans in our successful democracy want background checks on purchase of guns, but what do the Senators and Congressmen do? Go against the will of the people like those damned dictators and Mullahs.
My columnist friend Tom Heneghan quotes in his report on the survey, "A section of the survey on U.S. Muslims noted that American Muslims 'sometimes more closely resemble other Americans than they do Muslims around the world.' Only about half say their closest friends are Muslim, compared to 95 percent of Muslims globally."
This is a good news. More needs to be done, and that is what I am committed to do: to build a cohesive America where no American needs to be apprehensive or fearful of a fellow American.
American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will continue to oppose sharia laws as they are currently applied in many places across the globe. I will be one of the first ones, if not the first one, to stand up against it. The Muslim majority in America is happy with the American system and does not want to have sharia as a part of the American laws. The hype of the right wing has fortunately brought debates to the fore.
This may be bad news for the likes of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, Bridgette Gabriel, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, John Hagee and a host of other right-wingers, who thrive on selling hate and painting chaotic scenarios. It will affect their cash flow. They cannot dupe Americans with unsubstantiated and statistically insignificant claims. Americans are trained to see another point of view and to be non-judgmental.
As a Muslim I stand against sharia for public consumption, but allow sharia for personal use for people to square their personal conflicts. We are Americans and the law of the land is our law. There is no substitute for it.
We all need to work for a safe and prosperous America with a focus on social cohesion and demystifying the myths and removing the division and wedges between us.