Qanta Ahmed, author of In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom, is a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion. Follow her on Twitter @MissDiagnosis.
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Commentary: Don’t Surrender Islam to the Islamists
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
This was the Islamist poem quoted by the mayor of Istanbul, Turkey, in December 1997. Charged with using inflammatory speech, he was ejected from office and sentenced to jail by the Ankara High Court.
Today, that mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is prime minister of Turkey. During a decade in office, he has slowly but inexorably pushed secular Turkey, a member of NATO, toward an unabashedly Islamist future.
As a Muslim, I refuse to give up Islam to the Islamists. So should others who believe in a deeply pluralistic Islam of the sort my Indian-born grandparents taught. It is the only path to peaceful resolution of inevitable religious differences, within Islam and with other faiths.
Yet today pluralist manifestations of Islam are contracting. Never before has there been a time when Islam has been more threatened from within. That threat today is twofold: ideological and sectarian.