Bestselling writer and speaker Nonie Darwish is the author of the compelling autobiography Now They Call Me Infidel, about growing up in Egypt and her break from Islam, and Cruel and Usual Punishment, an exposé of the stark reality of sharia. Her new book, The Devil We Don’t Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East, explains what really lies behind the Arab Spring movement, and it exposes Islam as the belief system that will inevitably doom those revolutions.
Mark Tapson: You write that “liberty and equality for women in the Middle East are closely linked to defeating sharia.” But you note that “Islamic feminism is a twisted kind of feminism that champions pride in Islamic bondage.” Can you elaborate on that?
Nonie Darwish: It is a fact that there is hardly any Islamic feminist movement. How could it be that female citizens of the most oppressive anti-women system on Earth fail to take the opportunity of the Arab Spring to change their destiny and the destiny of their daughters and granddaughters? The answer to this question is very complex and part of the larger problem of Islam itself. Muslim women are at a much greater disadvantage if compared to Western feminists who did not have to overcome death penalties, humiliation, flogging and societal rejection and isolation if they violate religious laws.
When Muslim women open the Muslim scriptures they read descriptions of women as being half the value of men, deficient in intelligence and religion, not to be trusted or entrusted and that they are slaves, possessions and toys to their husband, and even that they are like dogs in distracting a man. For Muslim women to rise against what Islamic holy books and laws condemned them to be, they must criticize Sharia, which is an act of apostasy in itself. Expecting Muslim women to be behind the reformation of Islam and Sharia is like asking slaves to end their own slavery without the approval of their masters or asking prisoners to get out of prison without the guards opening the doors.
That does not mean that there are no brave and strong women in Muslim society. To the contrary, the brutality of Islam has produced some of the sharpest, most aggressive and persistent women in the world. But Islamic feminism has incredible obstacles to overcome, the most important of which is the accusation of apostasy if they criticize Sharia. That is one reason they find it extremely hard to develop a grassroots movement and bring onboard the majority of the population. A Muslim woman’s inferior status in Muslim society has gone too deep and is intertwined with all Islamic institutions. For Muslim women to simply revolt against it would be regarded as an act of subversion that is anti-man, anti-family, anti-religion, anti-government and, worst of all, anti-Allah himself.
Women who defy Sharia or try to change it are harshly attacked and silenced and they end up withdrawing from the scene altogether. Islamists admit that the attacks against feminists are partially made to make an example of them for any woman who would dare to follow in their footsteps. Another major obstacle that Muslim feminists face is the difficulty in connecting and reaching out to other women, especially the poorer and less educated majority. Isolation in their homes, distrust of strangers, and social taboos are major factors in Islamic gender-segregated societies that restrain women’s relationships, even with each other, and prevent them from organizing, especially for feminist causes.
Because of blasphemy and apostasy laws forbidding anyone from speaking or criticizing Islam and Sharia, feminists end up dancing around the issues without hitting the bulls-eye or getting concrete results. The only feminism allowed in this dynamic is the militant Muslim woman wearing her Islamic garb with pride and promoting Sharia, the very law that oppresses her. The only outlet for respect, power and dignity to a Muslim women, is compliance and submission to Islam. In other words, she can earn her dignity and pride only by accepting her bondage.
That is why the few Islamic feminists seem to be running in circles only to achieve minor cosmetic changes that scratch the surface, and they have done so at a heavy price of earning disrespect and threats without being taken seriously. And even more sadly, their example has produced a group of Muslim women who embrace another solution: those who believe if you can’t beat them, then join them. They have discovered that the key to power and respect in Muslim society is to become as radical, if not more radical, than men. We have all seen Muslim women in black showing nothing but their eyes, demonstrating in London carrying signs against British law and in support of Sharia and warning Europe of another holocaust and another 9/11. Sharia enforcers are pursuing a policy of generously rewarding women who tell the world that women are happy under Sharia. And many embrace jihad with open arms. We have all seen Arab mothers celebrate the death of their jihadi sons and volunteering their other children for jihad. I do not know what is in the hearts of these women, but mothers who did so in Gaza were highly respected and rewarded handsomely with life pensions; one mother was even elected to a position in the Palestinian parliament.
An extreme and almost laughable case of pandering to Sharia occurred in mid-2011 when a Kuwaiti woman, Salwa al-Mutairi, spoke to the Kuwait Times demanding the re-establishment of sexual slavery for the poor Muslim men. Seducing Muslim women to be on the side of Sharia has reached even as far as U.S. academia. Islamic and Middle East Studies departments in the U.S. have a good number of Muslim female professors who defend the veil as “liberating.”
Dalia Mogahed, the head-covered Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer and Sharia defender who became President Obama’s Islamic advisor, has been recently voted the most powerful woman in the Arab world. Only defenders of Sharia and Islamism get such honor.
To sum up, the dilemma of Islamic feminism is to see it as a twisted kind of feminism that champions pride in Islamic bondage. This is what all Muslim women can or are allowed to do. It allows a unique kind of feminist aggressive submission to the abusive laws of Islam – a kind of mass Stockholm syndrome where the victim, the Muslim woman, identifies with and defends the very laws that oppress her. As a result, there are many assertive militant Muslim women who act like the “virtue police” against other women. Muslim countries have succeeded in developing a self-destructive kind of feminism that pits one woman against another in competition to defend the religion that taught her to loathe herself and makes her loathe other women as well.
MT: You conclude the book by writing that Islam has sown the seeds of its own collapse and cannot survive a confrontation with the truth. But it seems these days that the West too has sown the seeds of its own collapse, and that the truth is in retreat and the lie of Islam is on the march. Are you optimistic that the West can survive that confrontation?
ND: The West is certainly capable of surviving the confrontation with Islam, but so far it has been unwilling to use its power to stop the Islamic avalanche. The West is immersed in self-blame and multiculturalism, whereas the Muslim world is obsessed with blaming and conquering the outside world. This is a marriage made in hell and if this continues, Western civilization will not survive the Islamic tsunami and meltdown coming to our shores.
In my last chapter, “House of Cards: The Downfall of Islam as We Know It,” I said that within the DNA of Islam is a self-destructive element. It is fear of the truth and a constant urge to fight those who value truth. Islam planted its own seed of destruction the day it relied on lies, violence, robbery, slavery and rape for its expansion. For 1400 years, Muslims have managed to suppress the truth about their religion and condoned acts of unspeakable injustice, violence, torture as justifiable acts by their Prophet that must never be criticized under penalty of death. In the process they have produced a morally confused and self-destructive culture that is incapable of withstanding the challenges of honest debate or criticism. Islam and its institutions are under huge pressure to be truthful and I do not believe that holding on to the lies, threats and terror in this day and age can last forever.
Incredibly, Mohammed himself was not at peace with his own message. He was not optimistic about the future of Islam and Muslims when he said more than one time that “Islam started as something strange and it would again revert (to its old position) of being strange just as it started, and it would recede between the two mosques just as the serpent crawls back into its hole.” [Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0270] He also said, “Muslims will be the scum and the rubbish even though their numbers may increase; the enemy will not fear Muslims anymore. This will be because the Muslims will love the world and dislike death.” [Sunaan Abu Dawud, 37.4284]
Like a Ponzi scheme, Islam must expand to survive. The Ponzi scheme works as long as it can bring in new members and expand. In that sense, Islam works only when more and more people at the periphery of the Islamic state join the bottom of the pyramid of Islam and empower it to last longer. The key to its survival is to continue convincing new believers and keep lying to the naïve Muslim followers. Muslims are constantly counting and reporting the good news to the Muslim world on how many new Western converts are coming to Islam. But when the light of truth reaches the pyramid, especially the majority on the bottom who are not benefiting from the system, being sacrificed for the purpose of preserving and perpetuating the fraud, then the whole system will collapse and the colossal fraud will be exposed. Remember no one can succeed to lie to all people all the time.
Islam’s pyramid scheme that was about to collapse in the 19th and early 20th centuries was revived by the discovery of oil, Western dollars, and the welcoming of huge Muslim populations to the West which enabled the pyramid of lies to continue expanding and receiving a new bloodline. It is up to the West to develop the courage to cut off the bloodline or go down in history as yet another casualty of great civilizations destroyed by Islamic imperialism.
(This article originally appeared here on FrontPage Mag, 4/16/12)