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'Derision of West misguided'
By SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS
Published: May 17, 2010 23:48 Updated: May 17, 2010 23:48
US more in alignment with Islamic values than many Muslim states: Al-Qarni
ALKHOBAR: A popular Saudi author and religious scholar has raised some
questions about governmental and societal practices across the Arab world and
asserts that the United States is more in alignment with many Islamic values
than many countries represented as Muslim states.
Aaidh ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni, whose self-help book "Don't Be Sad" sells briskly
both in English and Arabic, made the remarks in two recent columns published in
Asharq Al-Awsat, a sister publication of Arab News.
In the columns, Al-Qarni compared a Saudi woman's experience after being beaten
by an abusive husband in the United States with what often happens - or doesn't
happen - in her native land. In the second column, Al-Qarni explored the
reasons so many Muslims move to the US and find both greater opportunity and
more tolerance that they could expect in their homelands. The thought-provoking
articles have prompted many discussions at coffee shops and dinner tables.
"The US deals with its subjects through systems that look like they were based
on Islamic teachings while Muslims fail to implement such systems," Al-Qarni
wrote in his column about domestic violence, which focused on a family that
moved to the US while the husband was working on a university degree.
Physically and verbally abused, the wife appealed to his family and her family
to intervene but to no avail.
"In fact she was rejected, insulted and threatened by them," Al-Qarni wrote of
the family members back home. "Having reached a dead end, the wife decided to
put a stop to the physical and psychological pain she and her children were
suffering; she contacted the police and told them about her husband."
He then described the response of several police squads visiting the residence
and getting the story from both spouses and the children before deducing the
man indeed was beating his wife. The husband was arrested and the wife and
children moved to a hotel at the state's expense and under police protection.
Later, the wife was given financial assistance and an American attorney
represented her for no charge.
Authorities found her an appropriate job, escorted her children to school and
made the husband agree not to come near any of them before the court hearing on
the matter, at which time he was convicted of domestic violence. The wife was
awarded custody of the children.
"Now, after listening to the story, let us ask how many women are beaten,
insulted and hurt without anybody coming to their aid? I am aware of many
terrifying stories of the worst kind of abuse and oppression that women
experience day and night," Al-Qarni wrote.
"I fear that after people read this story, many women in the Arab world would
want to go to the US. I believe that there should be a secret police force
whose task is to rescue women who are being assaulted and suffering abuse. Any
husband carrying out such abuse should share the same fate as the Saudi student
in the US mentioned in the story above."
Al-Qarni wrote it reminded him of a classic figure in Islam.
"Over 14 centuries ago, Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second caliph, defended an
abused woman when he went to her husband's house with his sword and rescued the
woman and taught her husband a lesson, but in accordance with the principles of
Shariah," he wrote. He continued: "I remember that some colleagues and I toured
21 American states, and whenever we saw the accuracy and excellence of the
traffic system, and witnessed people's commitment to environment-protection
laws, and the way daily affairs are managed, we thought of the words we read in
the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Even some of the
Muslim professors there once said to us: 'We swear it is as if the Americans
took it from our religion word for word, while we ignore these great texts.'"
In the column about Arabs fleeing their homelands and traveling to the West,
Al-Qarni notes that greater opportunities exist there than in many Arab nations.
"Some of them have fled from repression, whipping, torture, gagging,
confiscation of freedom, with the traces of torture still on their backs and
chests. Others have gone to look for a source of living after being stricken by
poverty, stung by hunger and destroyed by unemployment and idleness. Others
have gone to seek knowledge, leaving behind their countries where universities
are ranked last in the list of the universities of the world," he wrote.
Al-Qarni related the story of a Libyan man who fled his own country and found
happiness and a good life in the US. "We were amazed. Amazingly enough, here is
a man who fled his homeland after being terribly harassed, tortured, and
maltreated there and came to a state that we are insulting day and night, and
that some of us call the 'Great Satan,' a country that our preachers are
cursing and wishing it bad," Al-Qarni wrote. "Then, this poor Muslim man who
was driven out of his country, tortured in his homeland, becomes rich, having a
home, a farm and a job and enjoying a good life full happiness in an American
Al-Qarni questions why the West is demonized when it provides so many
opportunities to Muslims and is far more tolerant of Muslim sensitivities than
many Muslim countries are to people of differing faiths.
"Why don't we Arabs think about our tragedies and disasters, and admit that
many of our states have discarded justice, confiscated liberties, taken over
rights and erased the freedom of expression? This is at a time when, in the
West, they discuss their affairs calmly, solve their crises with dialogue and
govern their subjects with justice," he wrote.
He suggests the Arab world needs to take a long look at itself.
"In our Shariah, we read about order, justice, good character, calls for peace
and human rights, respect for others, avoiding hurting other peoples' feelings,
showing interest in the environment, seeking knowledge, encouraging work and
production, and fighting poverty, ignorance, disease, and injustice. We notice
that they are observing all this in the West whereas we find that many Arabs
are only paying lip service to it in their bitter reality."
Al-Qarni said there was much to be learned from the countries of the West.
"Please, let us stop cursing and insulting them and wishing them bad, and let
us preoccupy ourselves with reforming ourselves, improving our level, promoting
our universities, cleaning our environment, building our land, and rectifying
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