American Islam

The True Face of American Islam?

I found Bethe Dufresne’s profile of Ingrid Mattson quite troubling (“A View from the Edge,” February 22). She provides us a sanitized version of Islam. Mattson reassures us by noting that “American Muslims have generally been more critical of injustices committed by the American government than of injustices committed by Muslims.” That must change, she says. And when she mentions the diversity of the Islamic world, and the high levels of education for women, it is impossible not to find her account of Islam appealing. (Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women—who cannot drive, vote, or travel—is “not a representative example.”) While Mattson embraces an obligation to speak out against “abuses of Muslim ‘leaders’ in other countries,” she does not condemn them. My major concern is sharia law.

Dufresne writes that Mattson “argues that sharia is a ‘concept, not a codified set of laws, so there’s a lot of diversity’ globally in its application and emphasis.” But the five hundred Qur’anic verses that constitute the basis of sharia are precise; they cover specifics such as wearing gold jewelry and how to respond to a sneeze. They outline specific punishments for many actions, such as adultery and drinking (but nothing for homicide). If you are open to those laws, how do you support a...

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