The key figure in the struggle between Muslim reformers and fundamentalists is Muhammad. Ordinary Muslims must be allowed to think clearly about the Prophet's moral exampleby Ayaan Hirsi Ali / August 28, 2005 / Leave a comment
After the carnage of the terrorist bombings in London, Tony Blair defined the situation as a battle of values. “Our values will long outlast theirs,” he said, to the silent acquiescence of the world leaders who stood alongside him. “Whatever [the terrorists] do, it is our determination that they will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and in other civilised nations throughout the world.”
But which values are we fighting for? Those who love freedom know that the open society relies on a few key shared concepts. They believe that all humans are born free, are endowed with reason and have inalienable rights. Governments are checked by the rule of law, so that civil liberties are protected. They ensure freedom of conscience and of expression, and ensure that men and women, homosexuals and heterosexuals, are treated equally under the law. People can trade freely, and may spend their recreational time as they wish.
The terrorists, and the Shari’a-based societies to which they aspire, have an entirely different philosophy. Humans are born to serve Allah through a series of obligations that are prescribed in an ancient body of writings. These edicts vary from rituals of birth and funeral rites to the most intimate details of human life; they descend to the point of absurdity in matters such as how to blow your nose, and with what foot to step into a toilet. Muslims, according to this philosophy, must kill those among them who leave the faith, and are required to be hostile to people of other religions and ways of life. This hostility requires them to murder innocent people and makes no distinction between civilians and the military. In Shari’a societies, women are made subordinate to men. They must be confined to their houses, beaten if found disobedient, forced into marriage and hidden behind the veil. The hands of thieves are cut off and capital punishment is performed in crowded public squares in front of cheering crowds. The terrorists seek to impose this way of life not only on Islamic countries, but, as Blair said, on western societies too.
At the core of this fundamental challenge to the west lies a pre-medieval figure to whom the London terrorists—along with all faithful Muslims in our modern world—look for guidance: Muhammad. All faithful Muslims believe that they must emulate this man, in principle and practical matters, under…