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Trump, Fox News and Swedish Crime Statistics

Dunce cap on Trump

On Saturday, Trump referred to what seemed to be an alleged terror attack in Sweden the day before. He talked about the U.S. Migration Ban and justified it by mentioning an “incident” in Sweden. But nothing remarkable happened in Sweden that Friday (I am from Sweden). It is more probable that Trump was talking about a TV segment that aired Friday evening on Tucker Carlson (Fox) about “Muslim Migration” to Sweden and alleged exploding “crime rates” in Sweden. 

Fox claims that “Muslims” who migrate to Sweden have increased the crime rate astronomically, and to prove this they interviewed Ami Horowitz. He made a lot of claims about refugees in the short segment while the TV flashed images of Muslims and people rioting. The aim of the claims is to scaremonger; they want to fool people to view immigration as something negative, and dangerous.

I am a Swede that loves the U.S.A. and Ami and Fox News are WRONG!

I will focus on one thing: the claims about crimes in Sweden. When Fox news wants to talk about problems with criminality they often choose Sweden, why not The Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico or the suburbs of New York? (Though they tend to also paint these areas as plagued by a “culture of Black” or “Latino” crime as well)

Sweden surely has problems. Unemployment and alienation among immigrants is a big problem but Sweden is still not as unsafe to live in as the U.S.A.

Lets just look at the statistics that have to do with homicides. Sweden has about 1-1.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants and the USA has about 5. The U.S. controlled Virgin Islands has 52 murders per 100,000 (56 homicides 2010) and Puerto Rico 18.5 (681 homicides 2014).

Ami Horowitz claims that there are No Go Zones in Sweden where police cannot even enter. No, that is wrong. There are zones with social problems and unemployment among immigrants that RACISTS call No Go Zones. But real “No Go Zones” are the ones found in the USA. Compared to some areas in say Philadelphia and Baltimore (for good reasons such as a history of police brutality and militarization in those places), parts of the racist South, and towns with a legacy of “sundown laws” the Swedish suburbs are VERY calm and peaceful.

Perhaps Ami has never visited the  of USA?

Statistics and Swedish rape

It is difficult to compare statistics between countries. Not all nations define crime in the same way. In Sweden and the USA it is, for example, not a crime to be a homosexual. In nations with laws against homosexuals that “crime” affects the statistics.

The best example of this is the international statistics on rape and sexual assault. I have written about this in a recent article. Sweden has tough laws against rape reports and therefore has many reported cases of rapes in its statistics, whereas Egypt and Mozambique have lousy laws and report few or almost no instances of rape.

As “evidence” for this international statistics are cited. Indeed, according to those statistics a lot of rapes are reported in Sweden: 63,5  rape incidents per 100,000 citizens. The USA with 300 million people has 27. That would lead you to think that the numbers of rapes are skyrocketing but then you look at the figures. Sweden with ten million people has 5,960 rapes, Azerbaijan 16, India only 22,000, Lebanon 19, Mozambique 44! And Saudi Arabia claims that there is almost no rape, (and lash the raped women instead), Egypt has about 100 all in all, Canada 576.

Does this mean that Sweden is unsafe for women, and that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Mozambique are paradise for women?

Of course not, there are big differences between all countries. The first is that what is defined as rape in Mozambique and Saudi Arabia is not the same as in Sweden or Germany and what is legally defined as a rape in USA is not the same as in Sweden.

Mozambique still has the old colonial laws that stated rapists to go unpunished if they marry their victims and stay married for at least five years. Saudi Arabia, well… Lots of women are raped but the legal system doesn’t seem to care about that. Egyptian law is not protecting Egyptian women very well.

The Swedish law considers lots of acts as sexual assault and rape that other countries don’t.

That is why the statistics on homicides is so important. The international laws against homicide are almost the same in all countries. And the statistics show that Sweden is a far more peaceful country than the USA.

To lower crime rates the U.S.A. should INCREASE immigration

As for immigration.

If Donald Trump wants to decrease the rates of criminality in the USA, he should open the borders and bring in more immigrants. If you look at facts, immigrants to the USA have lower rates of crime than people born in the USA.

Many have reported on this fact which is scientifically and statistically confirmed. The New York Times wrote last year;

“In America, as in Europe, anti-immigrant backlashes have often followed episodes in which foreigners are blamed for crimes and other problems. But statistical studies show that in the United States, at least, immigrants are far more law-abiding than natives, regardless of race, class or education.”

Reason magazine wrote;

“This new study bolsters my reporting on the topic back in 2014 which also found lower rates of criminality among immigrants. As I then noted: University of California sociologist Ruben Rumbaut finds, among other things, that the incarceration rate of American-born males between 18 and 39 years of age was five times the rate of foreign-born males, and finds similar conclusions in a survey of other studies on the topic.

Rumbaut and his colleagues have updated their data. From the executive summary of their study:

‘For more than a century, innumerable studies have confirmed two simple yet powerful truths about the relationship between immigration and crime: immigrants are less likely to commit serious crimes or be behind bars than the native-born, and high rates of immigration are associated with lower rates of violent crime and property crime. This holds true for both legal immigrants and the unauthorized, regardless of their country of origin or level of education. In other words, the overwhelming majority of immigrants are not “criminals” by any commonly accepted definition of the term. For this reason, harsh immigration policies are not effective in fighting crime.'”

Lets look at the statistics. I looked at this some years ago and found these excellent charts from one of the studies by Rumbaut. It is statistics that show that 3% of the US population between 18 and 39 was incarcerated in 2000. 3.5% of the U.S. born population and 0.86% of the foreign born population was incarcerated.

Thus: to decrease the crime rates in the U.S.A: increase immigration (and end racist laws and policing practices targeting Black and Brown communities)!


The chart above also shows that the USA has far greater problems with criminality than Sweden. The US has 758 incarcerated per 100,000 inhabitants in 2005-2007. Sweden had 77!

It is interesting to see that Trump watches a show that claims that “Muslim” immigrants are behind crime and rape in Sweden and gets so inspired by it that he attacks Sweden the day after. Islamophobia, anyone?

Edited — Garibaldi (2/19), (2/20)

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  • Ignoring those verses would be a behavior, but so is not following them because they think the verses don’t apply. The verses still EXIST in their doctrine.

    From a purely doctrinal perspective, we would compare the Qur’an and Bible side-by-side, and not delve into any matters regarding how the doctrine is actually understood, applied and practiced.

    Also, even if you’re talking about the behavior, I’ve shown that *SOME* Christians do believe biblical verses regarding “discipline” still apply. That isn’t a mainstream view. You can even reasonably say it’s fringe, and rejected by most Christians. But it is there. Russia, as noted, even has a related law, which the article said was influenced by the Orthodox Church.

    I also already explained to you that most Muslims do not think the Qur’an says you can beat your wive. I explained in detail how even the major scholars (“the center of gravity”) have not believed it justified wife beating, going so far as to suggest “a folded handkerchief” should be used, and to specify a number of restrictions, including the requirement not to cause pain.

    This isn’t a black and white matter, where ALL Christians believe the passages in question from the Bible DON’T apply, and ALL Muslims believe the passages in question from the Qur’an DO apply. That binary does not reflect reality.

    The Bible passage I cited is in the Bible. How Christians react to that matters, but it doesn’t change what is literally written in their book.

    It seems to me it would be easier and more honest for you to simply admit that the Bible presents some issues that are similar to the ones you raised about the Qur’an. Otherwise it just looks like you’re trying to point fingers and then waffle and wiggle when fingers are pointed back at you.

  • Believing their should be a punishment for apostasy under Islamic law is not the same as trying to impose Islamic law on non-Muslims.

    This is similar to polling Americans and finding they agree with the death penalty, and then concluding that means they want to force Europe to reintroduce the death penalty. Two different things.

  • Dennis

    “No all Muslims believe they “Allah has called on them to impose there beliefs on other people by force.” ”

    True. All Muslims don’t try to impose their beliefs by force. According to public opinion polls the percentage of Muslims who support the imposition of Sharia law on other people is alarmingly high but is never 100%. The problem is that whenever there is a significant group of Muslims there will also be a significant percentage of those Muslims who do support imposing their beliefs on other people.

    One of the most accurate measurements about Muslim attitudes towards personal liberty is the number of Muslims who believe in imposing the death penalty on people who leave Islam. According to Pew the list of Muslim countries which offend in this regard is extensive. So yes, Muslims do impose their religion on other people by force.

  • You say you prefer to stick to the doctrine, which is fine. But then when I bring up something in the Bible, you suggest it isn’t relevant because Christians don’t follow it. Not following it is behavior, not doctrine.

    In a doctrinal discussion, what the Bible and Quran actually say is what matters.

  • Dennis

    We have so many threads that it is becoming hard to keep track of them.

    I believe that the closest thing to the Christian position on Old Testament passages which no longer apply is the doctrine of abrogation. The reason I brought up that passage in the Koran is because so far as I know no Muslim claims that it has been abrogated.

    I don’t recall condemning Islam because of crime statistics about domestic violence. I agree with you that it is not correct to judge a religion including Islam because some people don’t follow its precepts properly. That is why I prefer discussing actual doctrines rather than crime statistics.

  • It’s still part of the Bible. There a three major categories people typically analyze with regard to religion :

    (1) What is the literal meaning of the doctrine?
    (2) How it is/was it understood by adherents, today and in the past?
    (3) What impact does this understanding have on adherents’acatual behavior.

    You criticized Islamic doctrine for what it literally says. I’m presenting what the Bible literally says. I can of course find many other examples in the Bible which advocate violence against women. From a doctrinal perspective, I don’t see the Bible as having the high ground.

    In addressing the second point, you’re saying it doesn’t apply. But as I’ve shown, for some Christians, some Bible passages pertaining to “discipline” do apply. I also explained to you that Muslims don’t apply the verse as it appears at face value either. Even historically, the major scholars and schools of thought ruled it was symbolic. That’s a “center of gravity” position.

    As for actual behavior it’s true domestic violent is higher in Muslim-majority countries than in the West. But if that traces solely or even primarily to Islam, then why is it equally prevalent in some regions whether non-Muslims are a majority? Much of Sub Sahara Africa ranks in the highest in many forms of violence, including violence against Women, and in many of those countries, Christianity is the dominant religion. India ranks fairly high top, and also doesn’t have a Muslim majority. Obviously religion is not the only factor.

    Also, far from being a “Muslim problem,” domestic violence is a problem worldwide. I looked at a report that showed the rate of domestic violence in Muslim-majority countries at about 36%. That’s high, but in the same report, the US was at 25%. That’s also high. The report went on to analyze a number of contributing factors. If Islam is the culprit, I would expect to see stronger correlation between rates and religion. The data suggests the correlation is stronger between rates and other factors, such as region and development.

    Are you willing to use consistent standards when comparing Christian and Islamic doctrine? Evidence suggests otherwise.

  • It’s interesting how what Russians do based on their culture (and religion–that was a documented aspect) doesn’t interest you, but what Muslims do does. Whether there is hostility on the left or not, Russia passed this legislation. That’s simply a fact.

    The article itself specifically mentions a doctrine in the Orthodox Church that contributes to their view. It’s interesting how little curiosity you have when the religion in question is Christianity rather than Islam.

    No all Muslims believe they “Allah has called on them to impose there beliefs on other people by force.” I think that’s an excuse to justify your disproportionate scrutiny and criticism of Islam. All Russians who move here respect your customs and beliefs, and all Muslims don’t. That’s what you seem to implying, as if people are not individuals, but blobs grouped according to some arbitrary criteria.

  • The fact parts of the revelation already existed is acknowledged in Islam, as I’ve already explained. I think it makes perfect sense, in terms of fitting everything together in a coherent narrative. As to whether or not it’s “supported” by material evidence, it’s a metaphysical claim. That’s the nature of religion, and why belief in it is called ‘faith.’

    Muslims are extreme fatalists who “believe that every move every person makes is preordained by Allah down to the tiniest detail”? Not really. Muslims scholars and philosophers, like non-Muslims, range along the spectrum between determinism and free will, with many arguing the answer is somewhere in between. You can see the similar ideas in Christian thought.

    I’m not sure why you think we can’t tell whether events described in the Qur’an have already happened, are happening or will happen in the future. Like all languages, Arabic has the concept of verb tense. The story of Moses leaving Egypt, for example, is clearing referred to as a past event. There is no mistaking this.

    Al-Ghazali was a towering figure, whose contributions are downplayed in the West, but are recognized by Muslims. There is no need for me to reconcile your opinion of his role with mine, which is why I asked to agree to disagree.

    Muslim contributions to Western Civilization weren’t limited to ‘inventions.’ Knowledge is also an important contribution. I already told you I don’t want to pick up this topic. Maybe “sensitive” is not the right word, but you have an apparent bias. To construct my case, and make sure it’s bulletproof enough to stand up to your skepticism would take a lot of time and effort that I’m not willing to invest. It’s not as if there is not scholarly body of history that is well established. There is, and if you want to take on that project in earnest, do it yourself.

    I’m not sure what to make of your last question. Are you implying that Muslims were consigned to human waste by Islam?

  • Also, do you know that this means?

    Deuteronomy 25:11-13
    11When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: 12 Then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her. 13

    Also, what do you think of this?

    The Holy Quran Experiment
    In this video we disguised a Bible as a Quran and read some of it’s most gruesome verses to the people. This is what they had to say….

  • Also, this is in Russia, but nevertheless, it’s an example which cites Orthodox Christian influence:

    Moscow (CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that decriminalizes some forms of domestic violence, according to state-run news agency Tass.

    Dubbed the “slapping law,” it decriminalizes a first offense of domestic violence that does not seriously injure the person, making it a less serious administrative

    More than 85% of legislators in Russia’s Duma approved the bill last month — seen as part of Putin’s drive to appease conservative pushing “traditional family values.”

    Mizulina, a staunch proponent of traditional values, was also the author of Russia’s controversial “gay propaganda law,” which prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships.”

    The Russian Orthodox Church, with its emphasis on the traditional family, has also influenced the debate. As have the traditional rules of Russian family life, including the “domostroi,” a centuries-old manual prescribing strict rules of behavior and requiring absolute submission to the head of the family.

    This has actually passed into law. I would think that would be of interest to Christians worldwide, or least of as much interest as what’s going on among Muslims.

  • Are Fundamentalist Christians Getting Away with ‘Pious’ Domestic Abuse?

    Last week, in a leafy part of South London, a vicar was charged with two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault, and six counts of child cruelty. The reason for Reverend Howard Curtis’s attacks? Senior minister at the Coulsdon Christian Fellowship, he’s an advocate of Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD), a practice that advocates husbands asserting dominance over their wives using corporal punishment.

    It’s impossible to know just how many CDD adherents there are worldwide, but online it’s a pretty big deal. There are dozens of NSFW blogs, websites, forums and, perhaps predictably, self-published eBooks from the US and UK that prove CDD isn’t limited to just one nutter in Croydon…

    From the CDD website:

    Is using corporal punishment on adults, a biblical concept?


    The politically-incorrect crowd and the liberal religious folk say things like, “Jesus would never hit anyone.” Of course they are totally wrong in this regard, as the scriptures clearly state:

    John 2:15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

    The bible tells us Jesus made what was in effect a WHIP out of small cords, and chased the money changers out of the temple. Why would Jesus do this, if He did not believe using a whip was the best way to clear the house? I believe there are some households where using a whip would be as justified, and effective in our day and time.

    Let’s look in one other place in the bible where the use of corporal punishment is both endorsed and promised for certain offenders:

    Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

    This verse speaks of an earthly lord in context, so understand the lazy and disobedient servant was going to be sentenced to severe discipline. Jesus did not accuse the servants master of being cruel, because he had the servant beat with many stripes. Jesus is letting us know those who don’t obey Him, will also get severe punishment when He returns in glory.

    Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

    This verse tells us even those who don’t create major offenses, will also be worthy of strips too. If Jesus says some adults are WORTHY OF STRIPS, He is endorsing the concept of using corporal punishment on adults in no uncertain terms!

    How to Discipline your Wife: When the unpleasant is unavoidable

  • The idea is that God promised to safeguard the Qur’an. You’re just describing the process through which He made that happen. Also the “existing manuscripts” were from one continuous message, starting from the first prophet, Adam, until the final prophet, Muhammad. It wasn’t that Muhammad looked at the manuscripts and incorporated them into the Qur’an, bur rather than God revealed directly to him the continuation and purification of the scriptures. I don’t expect to convince you, as a secular or non-Muslim viewpoint is different, but this is what I’ve been taught and believe.

    I don’t agree that Al-Ghazali was the cause, but we can agree to disagree. I’m currently reading for the second time Ghazali’s Alchemy of Happiness., which has an information-packed preface.

    I think it’s interesting that you assume the suggestion Muslims contributed to Western thought are a leftist “attack” on Western Civilization. If your narrative is personal and important to you, it’s as well not to challenge it. I don’t care much about the “our civilization is better than yours” debates. My concerns don’t have to do with what Westerners *think* but rather what they *do.* I don’t like it when the West tries to foist itself on Muslim-majority countries, insisting on making others over in their own image. But if they are sitting inside their own borders, feeling proud or even superior, that doesn’t concern me.

  • Dennis

    “Slavery wasn’t abolished in Saudis Arabia, or anywhere else in the Muslim World, due to pressure from the West.”

    Not really. David Livingston was a British explorer and pastor who was very active in exposing the Muslim slave trade and mobilizing the British to suppress it. His younger associate Dr John Kirk was highly influential in using British power to suppress the Muslim slave trade in Africa.

  • Dennis

    “It’s too bad you don’t show as much concern for the victims of religiously sanctioned domestic violence in your own backyard as you do for victims on the other side of the globe. ”

    I’m unaware of any major Christian denomination which advocates wife beating so, no, this is one thing I don’t need to worry about.

  • MichaelElwood

    You can probably tell from my comments history that I’ve been busy lately. All I can do is make a couple of comments and run. 🙂

  • MichaelElwood

    Dennis wrote: “4. Koran 2:282 is very clear why two female witnesses equal one male witness. That way if one of the females errs the other female can remind her. Men don’t need that help. It’s that simple. Anything beyond that is special pleading which has no basis in fact.”

    As Prof. Martha Schulte-Nafeh and Edip Yuksel point out in their footnote for 2:282, the interpretation that you’re trying to tease from that verse isn’t supported by the verse itself, or other verses in the Quran:

    “This testimony is limited to business transactions. From this verse, we cannot deduce that women are inferior to men regarding intellect, memory, or trustworthiness. Furthermore, such an interpretation, which relies on hadith and sunna, contradicts other verses of the Quran (24:6; 3:195).”

    Interestingly, even as critics of Islam feign offense at the false notion that the testimony of two women equals one man in Islam, they seem oddly not offended that in the Bible the testimony of women were NOT ACCEPTED AT ALL. The Jewish Virtual Library notes that:

    “By the method of gezerah shavah (see *Interpretation ), it is derived from Scripture that only men can be competent witnesses. Maimonides gives as the reason for the disqualification of women the fact that the bible uses the masculine form when speaking of witnesses (Sif. Deut. 190; Shev. 30a; Sh. Ar., ḤM 35:14; Yad, Edut 9:2). . . .”

    Why don’t you infer from this that the Judeo-Christian tradition thinks that women aren’t as smart as men the same way you inferred from 2:282 that Islamic tradition thinks that women aren’t as smart as women? And why are you feigning offense at this notion when it’s a somewhat common belief in conservative circles?

    “Sorry, Girls! But The Smartest People In The World Are All Men”

  • Great to see you here, Michael. 🙂 Adding another perspective.

  • MichaelElwood

    Dennis wrote: “Muhammad himself had female slaves and he gave men permission to use them for sex aka sex slaves.”

    No, Muhammad didn’t have female slaves (or male slaves), and he didn’t give permission to women as sex slaves. I’ve pointed out what the Quran says about female “sex slaves” in a previous comment:

    Dennis wrote: “Muslims have actively pursued slaves ever since. Slavery was finally abolished in Saudi Arabia in 1962 because of Western pressure not because of an internal reform movement within Islam. That would be impossible since Koran 4:2 and 33:52 both condone sex slavery.”

    Slavery wasn’t abolished in Saudis Arabia, or anywhere else in the Muslim World, due to pressure from the West. In the past, Westerners have been almost uniformly pro-slavery. On the other hand, some Sunnis have tried to justify slavery as well, but they do so on the basis of hadiths and not the Quran. I’ve pointed out what the Quran and some prominent Muslim scholars have about said about slavery in previous comment:

    And I’ve pointed out what the Bible and some prominent Christian scholars have said about slavery in a previous comment:

    And, lest atheists and secularists get too smug, I’ve also highlighted what some prominent Enlightenment philosophers have said about slavery:

    A distant relative of mine was a judge in New Orleans. He used to tell the young knuckleheads who came before him to not end up a slave. They probably thought he was joking. But the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, makes an exception “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. And till very recently in the South, police would round up groups of African American men on trumped up charges of “vagrancy” and use them for slave labor (a practice that didn’t end until 1942). This was covered by the journalist Douglas A. Blackmon in his Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II”. It was also covered by Prof. Khalil Gibran Muhammad. It’d be kinda hard for Westerners to convince Muslims that slavery was wrong when many Westerners didn’t see slavery as wrong, dontcha think?

  • MichaelElwood

    Dennis wrote: “1. Wife beating. The book of Sharia law called the Reliance of the Traveller” by Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri is about as good a place to start as any. This book was written for Muslims to explain Sharia law from the perspective of respected Islamic scholars.”

    You act as though you’re familiar with the countless books written about Sunni “sharia” and chose “Reliance of the Traveler” from among them. I suspect that the reason “Reliance of the Traveler” has become popular with critics of Islam is because it’s one of the few books of Sunni sharia available in English. They seem oblivious to the fact that the book was written specifically from a Shafi’i point of view. It’s of limited use if you want to know what the other Sunni subsects believe or what those from a nonsectarian point of view believe.

    Dennis wrote: “He quotes Koran 4:34 as Allah’s direct words and gives no indication that that passage has been modified or aborgated”

    That’s not what the the Quran says:

    “Beating Women, or Beating around the Bush, or …..”

    It’s true that some Sunnis advocate beating wives as a form of discipline, but they base this on hadith and not the Quran:

    “Beating wives reminds women who rules the house and encourages them to wear sexy outfits during ‘make-up sex’ to make amends, declares Turkish marriage guide”

    “It’s okay for husbands to cane wives to train them, says Selangor Mufti”

    Ironically, the Bible does permit women to be beaten as a form of discipline:

    “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” [Exodus 21:20-21]

    And there’s a movement among contemporary Christians in the West called Christian Domestic Discipline (CDD) that advocates wife-beating. In Russia, there was a law passed, that was supported by the Russian Orthodox Church, which decriminalized domestic violence. And there’s a similar push here in America by Evangelical Christians to leave victims of domestic violence to their own devices:

    “Under the new law, a person can beat his spouse or child until she’s bloodied and bruised, and as long as her injuries don’t require a hospital stay, he’ll get hit with a fine if his victim presses charges. The most jail time he’ll serve will be 15 days. Previously, domestic abusers faced a maximum of two years in prison. The amendment offers domestic abusers this easy out as long as they don’t commit more than one severe beating a year. . . .

    “The Guardian reports that advocates for the new amendment have argued for “traditional families” with parent-child relationships “built on authority and power.” They claim they were merely trying to close a loophole that would have allowed a stranger to get off with a lesser sentence for beating a woman or child than that victim’s husband or parent. The Russian Orthodox Church has also pushed for looser restrictions on domestic abusers, claiming that the state should not interfere in family matters and that calls to make domestic violence a crime are informed by Western influences that want to impose liberal values on Russia. . . .

    “Here in the U.S., noted friend of Russia Donald Trump is reportedly planning to cut all federal grants housed under the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, grants that provide essential support to victims of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, elder abuse, stalking, and children who witness the abuse of a parent.”

    It’s too bad you don’t show as much concern for the victims of religiously sanctioned domestic violence in your own backyard as you do for victims on the other side of the globe. These abused Western women could certainly use an advocate. . . even one of dubious sincerity.

  • Your reply really highlights for me some differences in perspective.

    I don’t think there are many Muslims who would question God’s wisdom in wording the Qur’an precisely as He did. The idea that the Qur’an in the inerrant word of God and that Islam is perfect is for many a core assumption. If something appears to be less than perfect, it’s assumed to be a flaw in our understanding. Maybe those who say the word should really be translated “leave” were right all along! God only knows. Literally.

    From that point of view, it’s by no means a bad thing there is only one version of the Qur’an. If there were two versions, for example, we would have to admit that at least one is not perfect and that’s foundational change. Of course that’s what I’m hearing you say would be good about it, since less rigidity or certainty would facilitate reform.

    But Islam isn’t lacking a mechanism for reform. The idea is that Islam can’t reform. Any change from perfect is necessarily a devolution from perfection. Therefore, it is Muslims who reform, not Islam. This is still a mechanism of change, through which some modernists have managed to justify reform, even to the point of arguing that Islamic doctrine comports with prevailing notions in the modern West. However, I do think it can be reasonably argued that it is harder to drag the whole center of gravity in a reformist direction, and whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on your viewpoint.

    If you are someone who thinks the West has, for example, gone in the wrong direction and you want your society to avoid following that path, then you might view that heavy center of gravity is a welcome bulwark against the excesses of modernism, and even more importantly, postmodernism. Modernist would see an obstacle to overcome where traditionalists see a bulwark to fortify.

    I realize what you’ve written about Ghazali is the prevailing Western view, but again, my perspective is quite different. I don’t see him as having held back Muslim society, for several different reasons. By the time he arrived on the scene, the Muslims were already in decline, and even after he supposedly shut down intellectual progress, it actually continued, though at a declining rate. I think some of what is blamed on Ghazali can be attributed to the historical season for that culture. Regardless of whether or not that’s the case, I also don’t think his role was negative. I believe he saved Muslims going off on an unfortunate trajectory.

    Before he wrote “The Incoherence of the Philosophers,” Islamic scholars were being humiliated in public debates because they were ill equipped to counter rationalist challenges. What Ghazali decided to do was fight fire with fire. He mastered the logic of the philosophers and skillfully used it against them. His detailed work describing Aristotelian logic made its way to the West, where the people were dazzled, particularly since somewhere along the way the preface explaining its purpose was lost.

    I also don’t think it’s accurate to the intellectual life of Islam has “always been tenuous.” Muslim intellectual capital has not been fully recognized in most Western narratives, nor has the contribution of Muslim thought in the evolution of Western ideas. If you have lived a thousand years ago, you might have thought Muslims were poised to dominate the world, and could scarcely imagine how or why things have gotten to where they are today.

    Of course the West took a different route, and that has led to great material and technological development, but at a cost. I won’t go to much into this, but I think what the West prides itself in the course of history may well had planted the seeds of destruction. Of course just like the Muslims, and everyone else for that matter, the West is subject to the seasons of history, so it’s debatable what has contributed to the current state, which I view as a state of fairly rapid decline.

    I think separating science and religion, physical and metaphysical, and the general trend toward dividing everything into categories caused important understanding of the whole to be lost. I also believe confining, and to a large degree, discarding, the West’s Christian underpinning was a disastrous mistake. A society that is not run based on higher principles will be overcome by base impulses, such as greed and avarice–exactly what Christianity kept in check. To me, Ghazalis work brought salvation, not disaster.

    If you get a chance, consider reading Destiny Disrupted by Tamim Ansary. It’s very approachable and an easy read. Ansary was born in Afghanistan and he said he wanted to write a book about history through Muslims eyes. He speaks with a neutral voice, so it’s not a diatribe against the West. In fact he is modern, secular, and champions Western values That may not be apparent from that book, but it comes through in other things he’s written, especially when he’s spoken of his brother, who is a traditionalist Muslim scholar now living in the Middle East. The differences in their worldview caused a falling out that in many ways mirrors the broader conflict between the West and Islam. Anyway, the full name of the book is Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes,. It’s among my favorites.

    I can’t tell you how pleased I am that we’re having a fruitful conversation. I really think some well-meaning people are stifling important discussions that really need to take place.

  • I will say that reading your posts, I don’t get the impression you are hateful. I realize it shouldn’t be the default to think you are, but unfortunately, a lot of the “critics” who come here don’t come to have a good faith debate. You seem open to good faith debate.

    I also realize that some of what seems like hostility could very well be an idealistic desire to reduce harm, or even help people. If you’re a person concerned with, let’s say women’s rights or human rights more generally, and you think Islam deprives people of those rights, then you’re standing up against something you believe to be harmful. That isn’t hate.

    Obviously I can’t read your mind, so I’m making some assumptions, but they’re mean to be helpful, in terms of starting a fruitful discussion. A good point of departure.

    There are a lot of things I could say about verse 4:34, so I’m trying to think of how to cover this reasonably without writing a novel. 🙂

    I think I can start with a metaphor. Let’s say you’ve pulled a thread, and you see that it’s a certain way. A color, gauge, weave, and you say to me, “the thread looks like this.” Okay. And then you suggest from that thread, you can also accurately describe the whole cloth. But when you do, it doesn’t match the cloth at all, and I know that because I can see the whole thing, or at least more of it. And in fact, it’s the fabric of my own life.

    That’s how this strikes me. Picking up this one line and drawing conclusions without considering the whole cloth. How do Muslims incorporate this into their understanding and practice of the faith?

    That depends on a few things, and one of the most important is that person’s method of engagement. Islam is one thing, but people don’t all interpret it the same way, in much the same way American law isn’t interpreted exactly the same way by all America judges. Even if they’re well qualified and on the Supreme Court, you still see dissenting positions.

    When you’re looking at various interpretations, one thing that I think is reasonable to note is how far the rulings for some method of engagement stray from Islam’s center of gravity. I first saw the phrase ‘center of gravity’ used in this context by Professor Juan Cole, to describe the weight of scholarly opinion. For example, if I were to offer an extremely modern, progressive take on some aspect of Islamic doctrine, someone might reply with, “okay, but traditionally and even today, all four schools agree that is not a correct interpretation.”

    What the person is doing is appealing to the center of gravity, and it can be a valid point. It may be that person A does truly see the doctrine that way, but it’s pretty far afield, and really doesn’t represent the vast majority of Muslims, whether in the past or the present. It would be a heterodox position.

    Why am I mentioned all this? Because I want to discuss some things, and this has to be the framework for me to be effective.

    Now, with regard to 4:34, there are Arabic speakers who have pointed out that the words that is so often rendered “beat” can also be translated in another of other ways, many of which sound softer. The same word can also be translated as “leave.” They argue that since this is a possibility–to render the word “leave” instead of “beat,” that is how it should be translated, and that furthermore that is more consistent with other notions Islam teaches about the relationship between husbands and wives. That is sets as a LAST RESORT, separating from the women (think something like a modern separation agreement) rather an “beating” her.

    That sounds pretty good, and I have no doubt that comports with some methods of engagement. But someone could make the counter point that this would be a minority view. If you look at many translations, you will almost never see “leave” and quite often see “strike,” “beat,” or something more along those lines. Nor is “leave” the way that secondary sources explain the matter.

    What I have heard as a more mainstream view is that it does mean to strike, but that it’s only symbolic. How do we know? Because there is a fair amount of commentary on the matter by Muhammad himself. I have read, and I’m remembering off the top of my head, that Muhammad said he actually wanted this to say something different, but this is what Allah said, and He knows best. Later, because of his apparent concern that this might be misused, he explained that a husband should not beat his wife. He added nuance, and this was reflected in scholarly opinion. The Prophet’s explanations, commentary and example regarding matters in the Qur’an is not a trifling aside for scholars. (See detailed commentary at the bottom of this post, written by Muhammad Assad for more details)**

    You’re probably think that still doesn’t comport with modern feminism, and you’re right. Stay with me though, if you actually want to understand why I’m telling you this is complex and nuanced.

    Why would a man even be told to make this symbolic gesture?

    Islam very often prescribes punishments in stages. Here is what you do first, then this, then this, then this….etc. There are a lot of stages before we ever get to the husband “leaving” or symbolically “striking” his wife. In many cases, the standards for “last resort” punishments were/are set so high by scholars, it’s almost impossible to actually impose them. The purpose is to maintain some important aspect of the social order, by the least harsh means necessary.

    The family is the basic building block of society. As such, it is extremely important and even vital. People are not to take lightly the importance of a sound marriage, where children will be properly raised, with parents who treat each other with mutual respect and love, and properly meat/exercise their rights over one another. There is a lot of commentary regarding all of this, but I’ll leave it at that.

    Men are the head of the household. I believe there is a similar idea in the Bible. It isn’t a popular idea now, but it is made clear the man as “one degree” of authority over the woman. He has not only different rights, but also different responsibilities. For example, he must provide maintenance for his wife, which for most men means they must work. A woman can work, but she doesn’t have to. Since it’s not an obligation, if she chooses to work, her income is considered charity.

    As you can see, the modern feminist concept of absolute gender equality is not what is prescribed in ‘orthodox’ or traditional Islam. I personally don’t consider feminism and Islam entirely compatible for this reason. Some people say they are, and in most cases boil this down to various reasons why some of this no longer applies today. Some of these arguments are compelling, I think, and others not so much.

    But I don’t think Islam should accept 100% gender equality because the genders are not the same, and they have complimentary roles, that entail somewhat different rights a responsibilities. They are entirely equal, where appropriate. You may or may not agree, but the idea someone (the husband) has to have the final authority, to be the head of household, is not in my view a bad ideas. Especially when I see all the problems in modern America, which I think result at least in part from dysfunctional and broken families.

    It is fair, I think, to say that the “center of gravity” in Islam does not comport with absolute gender equality and the prescription feminists and modernists have for the social order. Islam prescribes and attempts to preserve a somewhat different social order, and one that is not new–it is the one which all or most humans lived under, more or less, until quite recently.

    Islam does not promote domestic violence. It promotes domestic tranquility and a healthy, sustainable society. That is how it’s understood by most Muslims. To imply this verse offers a blank check to beat women is simply false.

    If you want to criticize aspects you don’t agree with, you have the right and no one should try to stop you. My question when someone criticizes Islam is, “Is what they’re saying true?” If the answer is yes, then that’s “criticism.” If not, the person it’s more than likely either a mistake which can be corrected or it’s propaganda.

    Some of these sites (which I’ve previously referred to as “hate sites”) take aspects of Islam–usually the ones most likely to clash with modern, Western sensibilities–and grossly exaggerate them, flattening the nuance as well as ignoring variation in practice and interpretation. Muslims are not monolithic in their views, but they will take the most regressive interpretation they can find and imply it is the ONLY one and that is it followed by all or most Muslims. That is a distortion of reality.

    If you met a Muslim woman and she said she is a feminist, and according to her understanding, Islam comports with modern feminism, she may be 100% sincere, and she may be able to give you a compelling explanation for her belief. I’m amazed at how rarely people ask a Muslim a question like, “what is your method of engagement?” If the answer is “Quranist,” you are likely to get a very different read on Islamic doctrine as compared to someone who says “Salafi.” Those are very different methods of engagement.

    I’m sorry this is so long. I don’t intend to write a lot of posts this long. But I don’t know any other way to explain. A concept like prescribing and maintaining a social order that is mean to promote serenity, sustainability and the common good MUST be understood in order to make sense of many things related to Islamic social engineering and jurisprudence. Whether you agree or not, it’s important to at least have a correct, nuanced understanding.

    If after all that, you still think it’s fair to summarize by saying “Islam tells men to beat their wives,” then so be it. The reason I will always balk at that assertion is that I don’t think it meets the standard of being true. I don’t think it’s true because I don’t think it reflects reality. Not the reality of complexity, and not the reality of most Muslim’s understanding and experience, and I hope you’re take that into consideration.

    I went to a class tonight and found it exhausting, so even writing this much was a struggle, with my eyes trying hard to close. I’ll post your other comments, but if I reply to those, it will be later. It’s possible someone else will also reply, with some other take even on these matters, but that will only confirm that people have differing views.

    I sincerely hope you found this helpful.


    **Muhammad Assad’s (Abbreviated) Commentary

    It is evident from many authentic Traditions that the Prophet himself intensely detested the idea of beating one’s wife…he forbade the beating of any woman with the words, “Never beat God’s handmaidens”…When the above Qur’an-verse authorizing the beating of a refractory wife was revealed, the Prophet is reported to have said: “I wanted one thing, but God has willed another thing – and what God has willed must be best” (see Manar V, 74). With all this, he stipulated in his sermon on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, shortly before his death, that beating should be resorted to only if the wife “has become guilty, in an obvious manner, of immoral conduct”, and that it should be done “in such a way as not to cause pain (ghayr mubarrih)”; authentic Traditions to this effect are found in Muslim, Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i and Ibn Majah. On the basis of these Traditions, all the authorities stress that this “beating”, if resorted to at all, should be more or less symbolic – “with a toothbrush”….or even “with a folded handkerchief” (Razi); and some of the greatest Muslim scholars (e.g., Ash-Shafi’i) are of the opinion that it is just barely permissible, and should preferably be avoided: and they justify this opinion by the Prophet’s personal feelings with regard to this problem. (Note 45)

  • Here is another perspective, from the Oxford Dictionary:

    Women and Islam
    In Islam, men and women are moral equals in God’s sight and are expected to fulfill the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Islam generally improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures, prohibiting female infanticide and recognizing women’s full personhood. Islamic law emphasizes the contractual nature of marriage, requiring that a dowry be paid to the woman rather than to her family, and guaranteeing women’s rights of inheritance and to own and manage property. Women were also granted the right to live in the matrimonial home and receive financial maintainance during marriage and a waiting period following death and divorce….

    Please at least try to add some balance to your perspective.

  • I didn’t write this article. If the author wants to go into further detail on crime statistics, I’ll leave that to him.

    The Qur’an doesn’t say women are of inferior intelligence. If you think it does, then cite the chapter and verse. A hate site called makes a similar claim and cites as evidence chapter 2, verse 282. The problem with the verse doesn’t say any such thing. It does say that two women are required to testify, but it doesn’t say that’s because they’re stupid. There were other reasons, and it only applied with regard to certain matters, where most women either lacked expertise and experience or were subject to undue pressure. On other matters, their testimony counts the same as a man’s, and there are scholars today who say the circumstances have changed so that it is now always the case.

    I already told you it’s highly misleading to say the Qur’an gives men the permission to beat their wives. The Prophet Muhammad was concerned about 4:34 being misused and he clarified this. Scholars have since clarified, and what you’re saying simply is not true. It’s misleading, and repeating it over and over doesn’t improve the accuracy of your claim.

    The Qu’ran also never says that non-Muslim woman can be taken as sex slaves. Islam abolished slavery, except with regard to prisoners of war. If there was a war and men were killed or abandoned the battlefield, and their wives were left behind, what was to be done with them? One option would have been to leave them to die, and another would have been to simply execute them or confine them to prison. Instead they were distributed among the men. What would you suggest would have been a better option, 1400 years ago in the Arabian desert?

    Pretending that means that Muslim men can simply hunt down non-Muslim women and take them as sex slaves is a lie.

    What you’re posting are gross distortions of what Islamic doctrine says and the way it’s been interpreted by qualified scholars. Not Islam-hating propagandists. We have 1400 years of scholarly opinion and practice to draw from, and what is on simply does not reflect that body of knowledge.

    In any case, if what you’re saying is essentially true, then why this article on a non-Muslim site? :

    The Women of Islam

    For his day, the Prophet Muhammad was a feminist. The doctrine he laid out as the revealed word of God considerably improved the status of women in 7th century Arabia. In local pagan society, it was the custom to bury alive unwanted female newborns; Islam prohibited the practice. Women had been treated as possessions of their husbands; Islamic law made the education of girls a sacred duty and gave women the right to own and inherit property. Muhammad even decreed that sexual satisfaction was a woman’s entitlement. He was a liberal at home as well as in the pulpit…,8599,185647,00.html

    If Islam is so horrible to women, it is unfathomable why so many women remain Muslims while many others convert to Islam. I would think this too would cause you to question your black and white views.

  • Dennis

    As to your question, why am I here? To satisfy my curiosity. For some time I’ve been wondering how people who claim to care for the equality of women can promote Islam which definitely does not promote women’s rights. I do appreciate your willingness to respond, but I’m afraid the answer is still unknown. Accusing me of hatred is no answer at all and you know it.

    You claim to have read the Koran, so if you have actually read it you obviously know that the Koran really does teach about women’s intelligence. You also know that the Koran gives men the right to beat their wives and to take non-Muslim women as sex slaves. I suppose it would be satisfying to me if you would admit the truth that anyone who bothers to read the Koran and hadiths will find for themselves, but that is obviously not going to happen.

    Now in regards to your use of statistics.

    I agree that we might be comparing apples to oranges in comparing the statistics in Sweden to the statistics of other countries. At this point I don’t have enough knowledge about the subject to decide for sure what they mean. I suspect that the change of definition has camouflaged a real and significant increase in the number of actual rapes in Sweden but without accurate statistics the issue is still debatable.

    As for the statistics on murder, that should not give you assurance. The United States does not have the highest murder rate in the World by any means but it is clearly not good. Our murder rate is what you would expect from the multicultural paradise which you guys are advocating.

  • No, it isn’t true. It’s not black and white, so that you, a layperson, knows exactly what Islamic doctrine says and how it’s been interpreted and practiced by Muslims.

    For example, Muhammad made it clear that Muslims are not permitted to beat their wives. The purpose, context and details surrounding verse 4:34 are nuanced and complex.

    The verse has not traditionally been interpreted by scholars to mean that men can haul off and punch his wife because she burned the toast. Not even close

    You’re stating things as absolute, uncontested facts when they simply aren’t.

    It’s as if you started your studies with, “let my find as many reasons as I possibly can to demonize Islam.” Or more likely your “independent research” was actually performed on hate sites, of which there are so many, it’s hard to sift through them to get to credible sources.

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