Following are excerpts from an interview with Arab-American
psychologist Wafa Sultan. The interview was aired on Al-Jazeera
TV on February 21, 2006.
Wafa Sultan: The clash we are witnessing around the world
is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a
clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between
a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality
that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization
and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between
barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and
oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash
between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these
rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women
like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see
today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash,
Host: I understand from your words that what is happening
today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the
backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?
Wafa Sultan: Yes, that is what I mean.
Host: Who came up with the concept of a clash of
civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I
would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind...
Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began using this
expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of
civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to
fight the people until they believe in Allah and His
Messenger." When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims
and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe
in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began
this war. In order to start this war, they must reexamine their
Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and
fighting the infidels.
My colleague has said that he never offends other people's
beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to
call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves?
Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the
"People of the Book," and yet another time he compares
them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who
incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People
of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are
people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have
today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking.
What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's
wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then
come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from
offending the beliefs of others?
I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human
being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others'
right to believe in it.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: Are you a heretic?
Wafa Sultan: You can say whatever you like. I am a secular
human being who does not believe in the supernatural...
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: If you are a heretic, there is no
point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the
Prophet, and the Koran...
Wafa Sultan: These are personal matters that do not
Wafa Sultan: Brother, you can believe in stones, as long
as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you
want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they
believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God,
son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs.
Wafa Sultan: The Jews have came from the tragedy (of the
Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their
knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying
and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of
the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people,
scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through
work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in
a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church.
We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims
have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a
single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an
embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down
churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will
not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can
do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.