MEFTA serves as a shining example of the type of policy the United States government must advocate in order for economic development to take hold in the Middle East. Through negotiation and diplomacy, we must demonstrate that free trade and free market economic policies are the pathways to peace and prosperity.
Support Islamic Reform Movements
The United States should not feed paranoia about the Muslim faith. We should support efforts already in place around the world to reform shaira, or Islamic law.
Many modern problems associated with radical Islam result from sharia being based on hadiths—that is, statements on the life and teachings of Muhammad that are not part of the Quran.
According to Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish blogger and columnist, the “most infamous measures of the sharia—the killing of apostates, the seclusion of women, the ban on fine arts, the stoning of adulterers and many other violent punishments for sinful behavior—come from the hadiths and the commentaries built upon them.” Examples of such hadiths include, “Your prayer will be invalid if a donkey, black dog or a woman passes in front of you” and “If a woman doesn’t satisfy her husband’s desires, she should choose for herself a place in hell.”
The credibility of these statements (and many others) have been called into question countless times throughout the history of Islam—largely because they were compiled two hundred years after the Quran was written. In fact, the Diyanet, the central Islamic authority in Turkey, is currently working with a large group of theologians to edit the hadiths; a new collection is expected to be prepared by 2008. Among other things, the Diyanet will discourage the horrific practice of honor killings.
This is an excellent step toward internal reform of the Islamic faith. Akyol and others have suggested that further reforms must place an emphasis on the most basic elements that Muslims share with Christians, Jews, and others—elements like freedom and individual liberty.
“The more the Muslim majority sees that Western values are compatible with theirs,” Akyol wrote in the Turkish Daily News last month, “the more they will see the anti-Western Zealots among them as fanatical troublemakers.”
With that, Akyol aptly summarizes the way cultural strategies supplement military action: by convincing peaceful Muslims that the radical members of their faith are enemies—not friends—of peace, tolerance, and the economic prosperity that mark free nations.
Bringing about such a realization on the part of millions of Muslims remains the best hope we have for achieving victory in the war on Islamic radicalism—and, ultimately, lasting peace.
Doug Wilson is the the co-author, with Edwin Feulner, of Getting America Right: The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today.
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