Thank you for your very reasonable and fair article about the event last week at ASU. There is a misunderstanding, however, which I would like to clear up right now. The event was billed as "A Conversation with Islam". Unfortunately, because of the way it was structured, there was no conversation, no dialogue, no discussion and no debate. We had two monologues. I was never given any time to answer and rebut the imam's phony arguments.
For example, as you noted above, the imam "pointed out" that there are different translations and different interpretations. This argument is entirely phony because the imam did not show us any of the supposed differences either in the translations or the interpretations of the Koran, or sharia law or anything else. He did not point out any mistranslations of the quotations from the Islamic sources which I used. Any literate person can read the Koran for himself in approved translations. There are no significant differences in the translations of the Koran or in interpretations of those jihadist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic or anti-Christian passages. The imam alluded to different translations and interpretations in order to imply, without actually saying it, that there are translations and interpretations which cancel out the obvious calls to war against non-Moslems. But there are no such translations and interpretations. That is the imam’s deliberate misrepresentation which I would have exposed had I been given the opportunity to do so.
The imam also disparaged my qualifications by claiming that a person needs to know four or five languages including Arabic in order to understand Islam. That, too, is phony. Five-eighths of the Moslem world does not speak Arabic. Everything they know about Islam comes from translations. In addition, the translations which I use are produced by religious Moslems, and they are approved by the Islamic religious authorities. These translations are used in the mosques, including the mosques in Phoenix. If those translations are not accurate, why is the Moslem religious community using them? We have a right to rely on them.
My sources for the truth about Islam are the most respected Islamic religious authorities for the past 1400 years. Any literate person can read them in approved translations and then tell other people what those authorities say about Islam. That is what I do, and the fact that I have my PhD in Russian history is entirely irrelevant. Yet, the imam used that fact deliberately in order to disparage my qualifications! I would have exposed that phony argument, too, if I had been allowed to do so.
Another phony argument that the imam made was that sharia law comes in hundreds or thousands of different versions. This is false. When it comes to jihad against non-Moslems, they are all the same. I showed the audience the fat book of sharia law, “Reliance of the Traveller”, the English translation of which was approved by the highest Islamic religious authorities in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and America as a guide for Moslems’ behavior today. The imam contradicted those Islamic religious authorities when he said that this was a “medieval” manual as if that somehow invalidates it. This manual is used in American mosques, and it clearly says that jihad means to make war on non Moslems, that apostasy is punishable by death, that homosexuals are to be killed, that Moslem males over the age of puberty who refuse to go to Friday mosque services are to be executed, that the wife’s first duty is to satisfy her husband sexually, -- and a whole lot more. For the imam to imply that there are hundreds of versions of sharia law in order to make the audience think that these draconian laws are not standard Islam is plain dishonest. If I had been given the time, I would have exposed this phony argument, too.
Let me repeat: because of the unfortunate way it was structured, there was no discussion, no conversation and no debate last week. The imam was allowed to get away with his phony arguments and deliberate misrepresentations because I was not given the opportunity to answer him.
Concerning the two articles in the State Press, neither writer contacted me. If you would like to contact me, my email is email@example.com.
Carl Goldberg, PhD