To the Editor:
The article on dhimmitude by Zvika Krieger ’06 (“Locating intolerance in the Arab world,” 10/29) is a vivid example of a growing trend in this country to discard certain standards of decency, fairness and accuracy in discussing issues related to Islam and Muslims.
Dhimmitude is far from the sweeping, omnipresent phenomenon described by Bat Yeor. The author states that women are not free to vote anywhere in the Arab world. This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. Women voted freely in the nullified Algerian elections and participated in every recent election that has been held in the Arab world.
Additionally, the author argues that a Muslim cannot be punished for killing a non-Muslim, while a non-Muslim can be killed for merely “striking” a Muslim. The Hanafi school of jurisprudence, the most influential in the Muslim world, upholds an equal retribution for the killing of a non-Muslim. As for the belief that a non-Muslim can be killed for striking a Muslim, it is simply false.
Islam, like all other religions, does not have a perfect record regarding minority rights. However, it is not good scholarship to reduce complex social and historical developments to chauvinistic ideology. Nor is it good scholarship to discuss anachronistic phenomena as if they were relevant, contemporary social constructs. A reputable university such as Yale should not be the platform for voices that blatantly thrash academic standards.
Imam Zaid Shakir
October 31, 2002
The writer is the imam at Masjid al-Islam on George Street.