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There is nothing Islamic about a beheading: Muslims v extremists

Curtin University's Anne Aly says there is widespread misunderstandings about Islam.

Curtin University's Anne Aly says there is widespread misunderstandings about Islam.

Curtin University research fellow Anne Aly says there are a lot of misconceptions about people who follow Islam.

She said that in reality, the wide majority of Muslims did not support the extreme actions of groups such as Hamas, ISIS or the Taliban.

When I type "all Muslims are..." into Google on my smartphone, the first suggestion I get is "all Muslims are terrorists". Another is "all Muslims are extremists".

Several views have been aired across talkback radio since a controversial speech from a Muslim activist that had been planned in Perth was publicised and then cancelled.

Uthman Badar had been invited to speak at the university by a student group but when his controversial background was highlighted in the media, the invite was withdrawn.

Badar sparked outrage in Sydney recently when he planned to give a talk at an arts festival titled "Honour Killings are Justified".

Dr Aly says just as the actions of Christians who carry out targeted attacks on abortion clinics did not represent most Christian views, terrorist actions carried out by extreme Muslims and associated views do not represent the beliefs or wishes of most Muslims. 

Back on my mobile phone, an anti-mosque Facebook page provides me with a number of statements that I put to Dr Aly as questions.

Do all Muslims...

Support Hamas? "No"

Promote the non-acceptance of religions other than Islam? "No"

Believe that men and women are not equal? "No"

Chant Hitler verses? "No"

Want Sharia law implemented worldwide? "No"

Believe in female genital mutilation? "No"

Support the Taliban? "No"

Support genocide in Sudan? "No"

Believe women have to cover their bodies from head to toe? "No"

Promote and accept marriage between young girls and men? "No"

Dr Aly pointed out that most of the things I asked about were cultural practices specific to different parts of the world, not the Islamic religion.

"Female genital mutilation is not a Muslim practice, it actually pre-dates Islam," she said.

Dr Aly said the questions also brought up the issue of interpretation.

Muslims are people who believe in the five pillars of Islam; that there is one God and that Mohammad was his prophet, that they should go to Hajj at least once in their lifetime, in giving alms by contributing to charity or helping the poor, pray five times a day and fasting at Ramadan.

So if Muslims do not promote the non-acceptance of religions, how come one of their main principles is believing that there is only one God? Dr Aly said Islamic people believe that their God is the same God as the God of other religions.

She said the Koran recognised men and women as equals, "but remember some societies where Islam is practiced in are also ancient societies, that haven't recognised women's rights"

Dr Aly pointed to the rule in Saudi Arabia, that women should not drive, as one of these cultural practices that was seen mistakenly by many as being part of Islam but did not exist in other mostly Islamic countries.

She said 95 per cent of Muslims were what she would describe as "moderate".

Dr Aly said 0.01 per cent were "extremists" who took their belief of the religion to a radical scale - where they would be willing to break the law and resort to violence in the name of their religion.

"They believe is the spread of Sharia law and Islamic law through violence," Dr Aly said. 

In addition to this she said the remainder were likely to support the spread of Islam but through peaceful means. 

Dr Aly described Sharia Law as "guidelines for life" which can and do exist in some places, alongside regular law enforcement processes.

These guidelines are a way of life to live by which cover things like, rules around how divorce can take place, such as a husband must ask for a divorce three times and it cannot be asked for in anger.

In terms of covering women's bodies, she said that this came from the Koran, which talks about women being modest.

"The idea is that you cover your modesty but what's interpreted as modesty is different, some cover their hair with a hijab, some extend that to their face and hands," Dr Aly said.

"Others have the more modern look and wear tight clothes and tight jeans and wear a scarf over their head," she said.

"Some think modesty is more about your demeanour and that's how I interpret it.

"I don't wear it," she said (Dr Aly is a Muslim).

She said she has often been told that she "can't be a Muslim".

"They say: 'you can't be a Muslim, you don't believe in subjugation' or 'if you were a Muslim you would wear a head scarf'" which she described as a narrow minded way of thinking.

Dr Aly said extremists exploited their connection to Islam.

"There are a minority of Muslims who turn it around and say it [certain practices such as those listed previously] is not culture, it's religion, and that shows a lack of comprehension and a misinformed position about Islam," she said.

"They are using religion to try to make them seem credible.

"Islam does not have a central authority like a Pope, we have many different schools of thought and debate is encouraged in Islam."

She said nearly all Muslims would have been "absolutely disgusted" by the photograph of a young boy, believed to be the son of Sydney jihadist Khaled Sharrouf, holding up the head of a slain Syrian soldier that made headlines last week.

"Some of the Muslim leaders came out and spoke about it and said he's a mad man, that is incomprehensible whatever your background," Dr Aly said.

Liberal MP Liz Behjat has since called on all Muslims within Western Australian to actively speak out against those that support extremism in any form.

"My colleagues and I who regularly meet with and attend functions organised by the various Islamic groups here in Western Australia know full well that none of these people ascribe to the radicalism that is often highlighted in the media as portraying the way that all Muslims feel, but we do not hear their leaders speaking out in condemning these jihadists and radical Islamists, and the vile speeches that they make," she said.

"I am now speaking directly to all the Muslims from so many ethnic backgrounds and urging you to make your peaceful voices heard to ensure that as true Australians you all come together and speak with one voice to condemn those who would seek to harm our way of life and do harm in our communities."

57 comments

  • Do all muslims support Hamas, want sharia etc etc etc. Ofcourse not all, but it seems an alarmingly large percentage do...
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1510866/Poll-reveals-40pc-of-Muslims-want-sharia-law-in-UK.html
    The funniest thing is that the people most keen on trying to promote a PC socialist multi-culti nirvana, being inner city lefties, will be the people most at odds with sharia law if it ever got implemented.

    Commenter
    Tony H
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    August 21, 2014, 9:12AM
    • inner city "latte sipping" lefties if you don't mind.

      Commenter
      Leftie
      Location
      Inner city
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 11:05AM
    • "Dr Aly said ... the Koran recognised men and women as equals"

      Actually, the Koran says that a man's evidence is worth that of two women's, and that men should beat their wives to make them submissive. Did Dr Aly read the Koran?

      Commenter
      greg
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 12:49PM
    • Leftie, if I find out you've been sipping that latte during prayer time I'll be reporting you to the religous police who will hopefully administer you with a damned good thrashing.
      http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/saudi-religious-police-597308

      Commenter
      Tony H
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 2:37PM
    • don't you love a leader that whips up racism in the name of patriotism? hasn't ended well for many of those leaders though. I guess Mugabe's still clinging on

      Commenter
      rod steiger
      Location
      toukley
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 2:52PM
    • hey gerg
      how about
      "I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other (3:195)"
      or
      "Verily for all men and women who have surrendered themselves unto God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves before God, and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women, and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who remmber God unceasingly: for all of them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward." (33:35)
      as examples of gender equality in the Koran?

      Commenter
      rod steiger
      Location
      toukley
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 2:55PM
    • As noted atheist academic Sam Harris has said.

      Islamic extremists offer a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the Koran (i.e. you don't have to go looking for an excuse to kill someone who disagrees with you).

      Its funny how we don't have these worldwide extremists problems with Tibetan Buddhists despite them arguable having suffered more severely at the hands of their oppressors over the last 40 years than Muslims.

      Religious moderates (who are generally reasonable people) have made criticizing and making rational debates about religions a social faux pas allowing the extremists to continue their work in the shadows

      Commenter
      El Diablo
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 3:23PM
  • 95% are moderate. But only 0.01% are extremists. What happened to the other 4.99% ? So if only 0.01% are extremist, that makes about 10000 people. There are more than 10000 extremists in Afghanistan alone. Now add those in Syria and Iraq. Dr Aly may be correct about the subjugation, mutilation etc being cultural practices rather than Islamic but she cannot deny that these practices are still only occurring in Islamic communities. It's not unreasonable to draw a parallel. Muslims always bring up Christian attacks on abortion clinics as if this a fair comparison. Yes, the actions of a small cell of Christian fanatics compared to an army of extremists setting up a caliphate. True, most Muslims are moderate decent people but Dr Aly should be educated enough to realise that the actions carried out in the name of Islam in the last decade or so has naturally caused a lot of fear and mistrust throughout the non-Islamic world.

    Commenter
    Shaking Eagle
    Date and time
    August 21, 2014, 9:22AM
    • "In addition to this she said the remainder were likely to spread of Islam but through peaceful means."

      Commenter
      Aleisha
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 11:01AM
    • Thanks Aleisha. Doesn't that make them moderates?

      Commenter
      Shaking Eagle
      Date and time
      August 21, 2014, 11:38AM

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