Moderate Islam: Is It A Myth? The Great Debate

Published: March 14th 2010

From left: Dr. Wafa Sultan, Avi Benlolo, CEO Simon Wiesenthal Center, Canada, Dr. Daniel Pipes

In 1995 Daniel Pipes, American academic, writer, and founder and director of the Middle East Forum, concerned with the danger of “radical” Islam to the Western world, wrote: “Unnoticed by most Westerners, war has been unilaterally declared on Europe and the U.S.” Four months before the 9/11 attacks, he and journalist Steve Emerson wrote in the Wall St. Journal, that Al Qaeda was planning new attacks on the U.S.


He has enraged many American Muslims by advocating that Muslims in government and the military be given special attention as security risks and by stating that mosques are breeding grounds for militants.


He maintains that the solution is to encourage the moderate Muslims to proliferate and go public.


Yet here he is at Shaare Shomayim, facing off against Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Muslim, who believes that the moderate Muslim is a myth. “Islam is Islam, and that’s it,” she stated. “Only people in the West try to make that distinction. It makes people feel better. It hides the radical nature of Islam.”


Sultan, a physician, was born into a traditional Muslim family in Syria. She emigrated to the US in 1989. She describes herself as a realist who has experienced the effects of her Muslim culture and religion since childhood. “I escaped the prison of Islam to the free world.” Now she devotes her life to expressing her views and presses for a genuine difference in Islam. “We cannot have it both ways,” she says. “Intolerance never tolerates freedom. Since arriving in the US, I have enjoyed the freedom to educate my Arab brothers and sisters in the Middle East who yearn for real freedom.”


“We (Sultan) and I are in the same trench,” Pipes told the near capacity audience. For him “Islam is not the enemy. Radical Islam, totalitarian Islam is the problem. It's important to isolate them from the other Muslims.”


“The Muslims who want to integrate and want to live under our system, they exist. They are allies. We should be finding them. To ignore them is to ignore the real solution to the problem.”


Sultan: “You can’t be a true Canadian and be a true Muslim at the same time.”


For Sultan, Islam is a political ideology that demands its followers fight till the death of themselves and others in order to rule the world and have everyone submit to Shariah law.


She pointed out that Mohammed ruled for only 13 years. But “he died without an enemy left standing.” Furthermore, “as a married man, at 54 he married a nine year old. He raped a Jewish woman, Sophia, and killed her husband. He raped his daughter-in-law and on and on.”


“When I hear moderate or peaceful Islam, I as a woman feel humiliated and insulted to the core. It's another thing to live the reality.”


She dispelled the notion of the “Golden Age” for Jews living peacefully under the Muslims. The key word she said was under. “Jews and non-Muslims had to pay extra taxes. If they didn’t pay they had to convert or be killed. They had to accept Islamic supremacy. They could be humiliated on a whim – to this very day. If they didn’t submit they could be tortured, raped, killed.”


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