Frontpage Interview's guest today is Rabab Khaja, a visitor from Kuwait who came to the U.S. with her two sons over a year ago. She escaped persecution by Sharia Law.
FP: Rabab Khaja, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Khaja: Thank you Frontpage for having me.
FP: Let's begin with discussing your status here.
Khaja: I'm here on a Tourist Visa. Which means I keep moving between the United States and my country every few months. My two sons go to college here and I am visiting them. I am seeking a lawyer now to solve my situation.
FP: Tell us the trouble you face in your country.
Khaja: The last time I came to the United States, I had a fight with my husband two nights before leaving. He threatened to place my name on all the borders so I could never leave Kuwait. And until the last minute before taking off I wasn't sure if he had done that or not. And I don't want to face the same circumstances again where I would be a prisoner in my own country.
I have been separated from my husband for almost eight years now. Two of which I did not leave the marital house, and four in a rented apartment in Kuwait, and the last two years between here and Kuwait.
On the advice of friends and relatives, including my lawyer (they said that so long as my husband does not want to divorce, I do not have a case with Shari'a courts), I did not file a case against him until recently, and resorted to solve the problem peacefully. But he refused and insisted that he'd never divorce me. He mocked me when I told him that I was going to sue him for divorce, saying that Shari'a is a "man". And he was right.
Only three years back, when I lost all hope, I filed a case against him. And guess what? I got convicted with Ta'a.
FP: What is Ta'a exactly?
Khaja: To understand Ta'a, you have to know that in the Islamic Shari'a, (theoretically speaking), the wife has to be obedient to her husband; she should not leave the marital house without his permission. If she does not abide to those rules, the husband could get a court order to imprison her within the confinement of the marital house. And Ta'a is that court order.
Even without the court order of Ta'a, husbands have the right to place their wives' names at the borders, forbidding them from leaving the country. Sometimes it's done officially, other times through the corrupted system that is depleted with connections.
FP: Tell us some more about Sharia Law.
Khaja: I can only speak about the civil cases of Shari'a courts concerning women since I am its victim. Many Islamic countries cannot, and do not, apply the Shari'a laws one hundred percent, simply because it is not possible in the twenty-first century. For an example, Shari'a decrees that punishment of theft is to have a hand amputated. Aside from countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, where these barbaric punishments continue, this is not done in other Muslim nations. But when it comes to civil cases, especially those concerning women, all Islamic countries apply Shari'a.
In Kuwait, there are two courts that deal with these cases, one dedicated to the majorities of the Sunni sect, and the other to the Shiite. There is no difference in the laws that suppress women in both courts; the only difference is in the procedures. And except for the invasion of my country in the year 1990 by Sadam Hussein, I was never humiliated in my life as much as I was in the Shari'a courts. That's why I'm seeking the help of civil courts in the United States to solve my dilemma, when I lost hope with the Shari'a courts of my country.
Shari'a considers women as properties of men. Marriage contracts are not different than any other business contract between the husband and the woman's father or brother, or any other male-relative. In this contract the ownership of the woman is transferred from the father to the husband. Of which the husband is given the right of divorce whenever he's not satisfied with the merchandise, even without mentioning this in the contract. It is true (theoretically speaking) that a woman can add a condition to her marriage contract to give her the liability of the divorce.
However, this condition does not outdo the man's right to divorce. Moreover, it is considered a taboo in the Islamic communities to include this condition. On the other hand; a man can divorce his wife in her absence with just a court notification sent to the wife by mail. The only time that the judge has the authority to terminate a marriage is when a woman can prove that her husband has physically injured her, and that living under one roof is hazardous to her health (Beating women is permitted in Islam, as long as it does not leave a mark on the body).
While physical assaults can be proven, psychological damages are overlooked and underestimated. And the irony is that a father who gave way to his daughter cannot even be a witness in court.
FP: Are you a Muslim? Tell us about your religious journey and where it stands now.
Khaja: Just like any child born in an Islamic community, I was born a Muslim believing that Islam is the final, conclusive Abrahamic religion sent by God for human salvation. Not anymore though, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 started my quest in search of God, and it made me more pious thinking that what happened to us Kuwaitis was a punishment from God. My mind could not accept the fact that in twenty-four hours my whole life would change from having almost everything one could possibly hope for in life, to having nothing at all.
I vowed to pay a visit to Mecca for a Haj pilgrimage as soon as Kuwait was freed. I did fulfill my promise; I even wore the hijab (veil) for more than three years. But unfortunately; the more I researched into my religion, the more I was convinced that it couldn't be dictated from God. A religion that categorizes people into groups, each believing that it is on the path of correct and the rest are doomed, can't be a religion from a single God. The very utterance of the Shahada (witness) of "I witness that there is no God but God, and Muhammad is His messenger" that is repeated five times a day in the prayer is a call for the annihilation of all other ethnic groups. It wasn't my personal problems with Shari'a courts that made me denounce my religion, although they confirmed my conviction. It was a long, tiresome journey, and I am planning to write a book about my case, as well as my journey with the Islamic faith one day.
FP: Why do you think Islam is rising in the West? And while it is rising in the West, how is it doing from within?
Khaja: First I do not think that Islam is the fastest growing religion on earth regardless of the statistics. Mark Twain is reputed to have said: "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." And when you are talking about the Islamic regions, lying is second to nature.
Research says that Islam is rising in the West because of the high percentage of birthrates among Muslim immigrants. In his book" Letter to a Christian Nation" Sam Harris said: "Islam is now the fastest-growing religion in Europe. The birthrate among European Muslims is three times that of their non-Muslim neighbors. If current trends continue, France will be a majority-Muslim country in twenty-five years". And he is right, the majority would eventually lead to Islamic systems with Shari'a courts.
But this is not the whole story. The West adapted the veterans of Afghan war and gave them homes and amnesty when they were kicked out of their own homelands. Petrodollar countries build Islamic centers, mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools) to be led by some who were convicted in their own countries, while their Islamic institutions in the oil-rich countries equipped them with the charity money of the ignorant families, who had no idea where their Zakat (alms) money was being spent.
Those are the same people today who channeled the grievances of immigrants and used them to fulfill their own political agendas. It's a huge Islamic network consisting of many networks all around the world. They may differ in trivialities, but they all abide to Koran and Muhammad who said that he was sent to fight all, until the last person on earth says that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.
Harris also said in the same source: "The earth is now home to about 1.4 billion Muslims, many of whom believe that one day you and I will either convert to Islam, live in subjugation to a Muslim caliphate, or be put to death for our unbelief." And to me, this is a warning that I hope many pay attention to, and not be swept in the tide of civil mentalities. If the West cares for its national security, it should deal with Islam in its own mentality. Not with soft politics, not with imposing democracy, democracy can only bring justice in a secular society, in an egalitarian society that believes in personal rights of its people, the one that respects the rights of the minorities as much as it does the majority. Democracy without secularism can only give birth to the likes of Hammas.
FP: So there is an issue here in terms of a new generation of Muslims who are living in the West and not under Islam, right?
Khaja: Yes, a new generation of Muslim immigrants in the West are subject to civil laws that respects human rights, they have not been directly subjugated to Shari'a laws. They think of Islam as the utopian world that puts an end to their grievances. Unlike Muslimsliving in the Islamic countries, the adverse consequences of Islamic control in the Islamic countries has generated a new generation of Muslims who do not share this ideology, especially, amongst the educated young generation, who realized that "Islam is the solution" is just a political slogan. Although most don't dare voice their opinion publicly, because they fear being extradited from their societies or even being put to death.
And lately, thanks to the Internet, many started to protest against their subjugation under anonymous names. Even those anonymous voices are fought against by the politico-Islamic networks that have found new generation of institutions, like Islam-on-line and Ya-Muslim groups, who found their ways to publish lies on the Net and bombard e-mails with their fraudulent claims. Some even became experts in hacking non-believer's sites.
And it's not hard at all to find hackers amongst Muslims, every pious person considers it a duty, following the footsteps of the prophet who said; "On the authority of Abu Saeed (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Anybody amongst you who notices something evil should correct it with his own hands. If he is unable to do so he should correct it with his tongue. If he is unable even to do this he should at least consider it as bad in his heart for this is the lowest degree of faith. (Muslim).", not to mention other verses of Koran that built militancy among regular people, and gave legitimacy to unethical actions.
And not to mention the role of governments that help in axing Web sites and subjecting their owners to trials in courts. Or even imprisonment, like the case with the Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil who was sentenced last year to four years in prison for voicing his opinion.
As I see it, Islam is deteriorating from within, and Muslims have never been confused as they are today.
FP: Can you talk a bit about the control of the clerics on Arab governments?
Khaja: Each Arab government has its own circumstances with politico-Islamism. They may differ in the way they handle their relationship, but it remains to be a two-way channel, profitable to both sides. Islamic countries share the slow surge of political Islam through organizations and networks. These networks penetrated into the education system, controlled the media, and possessed even the biggest financial institutions in Kuwait.
When I came to the states to pursue my college education in Electrical Engineering in the beginning of the seventies, Kuwait was much more open to the world. A small society, in which everyone knew every one else and respected their differences. After all, Kuwait was, and still is, a land for more than one ethnic group. And although the sectarianism existed since the outset of Islam, sectarianism was never a serious issue in Kuwait, especially between the citizens. I remember my Sunni neighbor who sacrificed each year a sheep to Ashoora (Shiite sermon to celebrate the death of Imam Hussein-whom Shiite of the Twelve Imams consider the righteous heir of the throne of Islam), although this is a Shiite ritual.
But the more pious is a society, the more it tends to be intolerant. In general, Kuwaitis were more tolerant, and less abiding to the Islamic dogmas. The Pan-Arabism of the sixties had its affects on Kuwaitis, and with the surge of oil, education, especially among females, increased. I remember even Darwin's theory was included in my high school biology book, be it with a note that this is just a "theory". Today, it does not even exist.
But with the beginning of the seventies, when leaders of Kuwait government changed the human demography of Kuwait society, by recruiting nomads of the surrounding deserts, things changed. The tribal nomads became the majority. Those people were the remnant of the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, who call themselves Salafis now. Backed by a huge Islamic institution that the government aided in building for the Muslim Brethren ideology that started in Egypt, and sent its missionaries to Kuwait in early sixties, they high-jacked the whole country. Now they are the majorities in the Parliament, as well as government ministers or holding other leading governmental positions.
And ever since, we Kuwaitis are paying a dear price, starting from the law of gender segregation in Kuwait University, to the Anti-Gay Act decrees, as well as issuing laws to forbid women working after 10PM. It was because of this type of Islamic insurgencies that my country has depleted in its backwardness ever since. Today, unfortunately, tolerance became a fantasy of the past.
FP: Shed some light for us on sectarianism and how it is spreading in the region.
Khaja: Sectarianism started right after Muhammad's death. One look at the Islamic history can tell us that much. But it was in Iraq that sectarianism took legitimacy for the first time. Sectarianism has always existed; it only needed more logs to feed its fire. The conflict in Iraq was not that log though. It was the Shiite revolution of Iran in the late seventies that raised phoenix from the ashes. It was right after that when I first noticed the difference in Shiite and Sunni veils of women in my country, each proudly symbolizing its identity to the public. The conflict in Iraq did not start sectarianism; it only gave it a fertile soil to spring. And lately, the incident of eulogizing Mugania (one of Hisb Allah's terrorist who was killed in Syria a few months back) by some Shiite Members of the Kuwaiti parliament, has been the wind that cast the dust off the ember, and started a fire between Shiite and Sunni's in Kuwait. The conflict and its damage can be seen and felt so clearly across the Net, with the new generation that was raised on hatred from both parties.
FP: What advice would you have for the West in terms of how free peoples' can confront the threat of Sharia? And how can we best help free those who are enslaved by Sharia?
Khaja: A friend once told me that Koran is like the magician's hat, tap it with a wand and you can get whatever you want to back your ideology. Shari'a is just one part of the whole picture, what free people should fight is, what I call Islamic-neology. Islamic-neology bears the radical ideologies of Alafagani, Hassan Al-bana, Sayid Qutob, Almoudoodi, Muhammad Abdelwahab, Ibn Taimiya, as well as Khumani. A strange combination in different packages. It's the seeds that produced the radical views of today's Ben laden and Hassan Nasrulla in the cosmic war of God vs. "evil". Or God vs the "West"
This same ideology gave way to thousands of freelance terrorists of the 21st century, of which most were Afghan veterans who returned home to the same corrupted systems, to apply their military expertise on civilians of their own countries and abroad, and giving their actions divine legitimacy. Mothers of the martyrs ululated for winning tickets to heaven, to meet their sons and their seventy-two virgin wives. Freedom fighters should not underestimate the dangers of this mentality.
A thought should be fought with a thought. Free speech should be encourages, artists should be free to express their arts as they please, criticism of Islam should not be controlled by fear, but by logic. Movies like Geert Wilders' "Fitna" should be spread. And, most importantly; the West should protect its secularism by not allowing Shari'a courts to spring in the West and subjugate part of its citizens to laws different than that of the state.
Advocates of free thought should also encourage those beacons of light, shining among contemporary Muslim writers and Internet generation of the Islamic countries. There are some contemporary writers and activists who have come out of their anonymous shells.
Muslims have been isolated far too long to understand the mechanism on which a civil society is built, and the importance of their civil rights. They need re-engineering. And the more information available, the better is the chance to fight this ideology.
As for the hysteria that grips Muslim masses with each criticism, I think it will eventually subside, Muslims will start getting used to criticism. Muslims should learn how to treat others, as they want others to treat them. When they allow Sheikhs and Mullahs to mock Christians and Jews and dub them as apes and pigs on their pulpits before every Friday prayer, and no one dares to protest, then they should expect to see pictures of Muhammad with a bomb turbine, because this is the world image of Muslims today, whether we like it or not. And if they care to change this image they should start first by changing themselves.
FP: Rabab Khaja, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Khaja: Thank you Frontpage for giving me the chance to speak up.