An Open Letter to Bill Maher From a Muslim American

The problem isn't Islam. It's your movement to demonize Islam in the liberal left. 

Hey there, Bill. You hate religion. You particularly hate Islam. We get it. Your liberal bigotry against Muslims and Islam is no secret. For a while now I've just avoided watching your show, which kind of stinks because for many years I was a great fan and really loved it. I wasn't even bothered when you called out Muslims doing stupid, criminal or horrific things. You do that with a lot of groups, and it's important to do. But I stopped watching when it became clear that you loathed a faith I was devoted to.

On your show you recently discussed the kidnapping of hundreds of girls by Boko Haram, followed by the new sharia laws in Brunei, and rounded out the segment with a nod to your buddy Ayaan Hirsi Ali-quite the trifecta of examples to support your conclusion that Islam itself is, as you said, "the problem." Your reasoning is essentially that Muslims are doing many horrible things around the world, and they all believe in Islam, so naturally Islam is the nonnegotiable culprit.

Let's ignore for now the numerous logical fallacies in your premise and instead follow your exact line of reasoning. If we are to accept your rationale, we have to also accept that, if many Muslims are doing good things around the world, and they all believe in Islam, then Islam is responsible for the good that they do. We also accept, given that Ali's criticism of Islam is based on her personal experience, that the positive personal experience of other Muslims, including converts, are just as valid reflections on the faith.

For the sake of argument, and being as generous as possible, let's say Islam has been a force of destruction for 50% of Muslims and a source of empowerment, peace and comfort for the other 50%. Where exactly does that leave us? Whose experience of Islam is legitimate? If Boko Haram is, in your estimation, an authentic expression of Islam, what do you make of the hundreds of Nigerian Muslim families who were sending their daughters to school? Why isn't their dedication, like Malala Yousafzai's dedication, to girls' education an authentic expression of Islam? What do you deduct from the fact most Muslim women in the world are not circumcised? Are they just doing Islam wrong? Are all the good, peaceful Muslims doing Islam wrong?

You noted that women are treated at best like second-class citizens, but most often like property in Islam. The first Muslim woman, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, a successful businesswoman, boss-lady and wife to the Prophet Muhammad, and the other Muslim women of his time would have snickered at you. Women of the region were chattel before Islam, treated and traded as such, until the Quran freed them through revelations such as "O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will."

I could tell you that Islam was the first system to establish women's property rights, inheritance rights, the right to education, to marry and divorce of their free will, to be religious scholars, business owners, soldiers. I could tell you that while Christianity was debating the status of women's souls and declaring them a source of sin, Islam had already established authoritatively the spiritual equality of men and women and absolved Eve, and womankind at large, of sin. I could tell you that the world and history is full of highly educated, successful Muslim women who are empowered by their faith, not debilitated by it. I could tell you terrorism is categorically forbidden in Islam, and that between 1970 and 2012, 97.5% of terror attacks in the U.S. were carried out by non-Muslims. I could tell you that female genital mutilation is never mentioned in the Quran; the only reference to it is found in a weak narration, and scholars find it objectionable to the point of being classified as impermissible.

Nothing I tell you would matter, though. The facts are irrelevant. That's how bigotry operates. It's both telling and troubling that you referred to these issues as "the Muslim question." The reference didn't escape me and it's hard to believe it was anything but deliberate. Think for a second about what was unleashed by the "Jewish question" in Europe. Bigotry sometimes does that, too.

So while I support you in continuing to expose Muslims and others who shock the conscience of decent people, who destroy lives, and who wreak havoc, I caution you on the anti-Islam rhetoric. You have a massive following and are successfully leading a movement to demonize Islam in the liberal left, a place many American Muslims call home. You are leading people into rocks and hard places when you posit that Islam is the problem. You are putting Muslims up against a wall and pushing those who fear us further into spaces where little choice is left. As the mother of two American-born daughters, and a Muslim who calls the U.S. her home, I worry deeply about the solutions your followers may propose to your "Muslim question." You should too.


Rabia Chaudry is an attorney and the founder and president of the Safe Nation Collaborative.

Source: Time

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  12 Comments   Comment


    Rabia Chaudry's response to Bill Maher's rants though eloquent and insightful still misses the point of what keeps people like him going. The fact that we keep coming back to this discussion of what "real Muslims" are really like means something that Muslims need to grapple with. We don't constantly have to ask the questions for example: What's going on in the Scandinavian world? Do they really hang people who want to abandon their Scandinavian identity? Do they really murder women ACCUSED of Adultery? We should want to know what creates the psyche of raging mobs that so reflexively riot, burn, and kill over an insult to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and yet remain silent when self-described Muslims so disgracefully commit the most heinous insults to our beloved Prophet's teachings in the form of things like kidnapped girls, and "honor murders." Where is our outrage against such perversion of something that is supposed to be so dear to us? We want non-Muslims to know what the Qur'an really teaches, but more importantly, Muslims need to know that. Remember, the Qur'an is the supreme authority in Islam. If Muslims will not stop the disgracers of Islam, then Bill Maher will continue to rant, and perhaps then he should.

  2. abduSalaam Latif from Canada

    Happy to see good information about Islam being cited instead of the

    media onslought.

  3. Tehsin A from USA


    Let us not be disingenuous!

    "The first Muslim woman, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, a successful

    businesswoman, boss-lady and wife to the Prophet Muhammad..."

    Hadrat Khadijah died before hijrah. The verses of the Quran

    regarding women are mostly in Al Ahzab Sura 33 and An Nisa Sura 4

    revealed during and after Battle of Khandak in 5 AH and after. This

    would make it 5 to 7 years after her death. During Jahiliya women

    were free to perform whatever role they chose for themselves. They

    were clan leaders, successful business women like Hadrat Khadijah

    and everything else. But subsequent history would not show

    such a prominent role in public life displayed by Muslim women.

    Women of the region were chattel before Islam, treated and traded as

    such, until the Quran freed them through revelations such as "O you

    who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will."

    You should be really careful in quoting verses out of context. This

    verse refers to an abominable practice during Jahiliya of marrying

    step mothers upon father's death. This verse did not forbid the

    practice but okayed it only if consensual. Here is the full

    context. And yes women were chattel before and continue to remain so

    to this day.

    Bukhari :: Book 6 :: Volume 60 :: Hadith 103

    Narrated Ibn Abbas:

    regarding the Divine Verse: "O you who believe!You are forbidden to

    inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with

    harshness that you may take back part of the (Mahr) dower you have

    given them." (4.19) (Before this revelation) if a man died, his

    relatives used to have the right to inherit his wife, and one of

    them could marry her if he would, or they would give her in marriage

    at all, and they would be more entitled to dispose her, than her own


  4. Feroza Soliman from USA

    We Muslims must educate everyone about our religion.

  5. Feroza Soliman from USA

    We Muslims have an obligation to educate EVERYONE about our deen. Reaching

    out to someone in a rational and calm way is exactly what we must do. It is in the


  6. Mairaj Mahmood Bhat from India

    Sister has made a good use of PEN!

    Hope you make it a routine;

    To expose the enemies of The TRUTH!


  7. Ilyas Ahmed from USA

    Although I applaud the author's courage to respond to Bill Maher's bigotry, I find it

    disheartening to know that we still can't find courage in ourselves to point out the real

    culprits. Truth is al-qaeda is actualy "al-cia-da" agent propagating all these mayhem

    across the globe waging yankee jihad in the name of Islam which allows for people like Bill

    Maher to remain in the dark and not discover the real truth. It takes courage for one to find

    and discover truth. It begins by unraveling the falsehood and dishonesty everywhere.

  8. Omer from USA

    Excellent article....people should call in and complain to the stations that air Bill Maher's


  9. Dr.Naiyer Habib from Canada

    Mr.Maher represents that group of people to whom it could be told , "Little learning is dangerous thing". Wisdom dictates for intelligent group of individuals to know the facts before he or she brings it to the public as it is here Rabia Chaudhary and many unbiased Non Muslims who defend Islam and Muslims. Mr. Maher enjoyed with full of smile and happiness having his gang around who also enjoyed their exposer.If he explores Islam he may end up in the light of Islam as Arnoud van Doorn (many others) who was a member of Geert Wilders' anti-Islam party. God guide Mr. Maher

  10. Hilal Shah from USA

    Taking time to write this much in this article about a person who is ignorant, is purely waste of time. We Muslims must not be involved in defending Islam but spreading it by living it to the fullest. Rasool Allah Sallallaho Alaihe Wassallam never engaged in responding to such negative propaganda. Let Mr. Maher spread what ever negative propaganda he wants to against Islam. Not only him, but entire community of people like him including Hirshi Ali can never be able to harm Islam a bit. Islam is Deen of Allah and is bound to lead over entirely over other ways of life. Read Surah As-Saff, where Allah Almighty tells us that Islam is to rule the world and this is the promise from Allah. Don't worry sister what the Bill Maher has to say about Islam. He is not the one who is going to define what Islam is all about

  11. Mohammedalikhan from The United States

    The beauty of living in America is freedom of speech freedom of religion and Freedom to turn the tv off . This guys show is a comedy

    Nothing educational or important comes from this guys tv show. To think any anti Islamic statements made by him are detrimental to islam is a JOKE He is a comedian jokester He makes fun of Christians jews Nazis hindu jehovas witnesses and muslims don't watch his show its haram !!

  12. susan shaikh from USA

    Well said. Seriously Bill Maher, get off the bandwagon for rating's sake. Thomas Jefferson was sworn into office using a Koran. Muslims have been in the USA since long before Columbus, many fought in the Civil War. Many cities in America have Muslim names. Have you looked at doctors on insurance provider lists? Many are Muslim.

    Christians and Jews commit atrocities everyday. Warren Jeffs doesn't represent all Mormons. The entire Muslim world is outraged at this Boko Haram incident. Yes, there are fringe groups in every religion. Be more intelligent in your critisism. Have some Muslim scholars on your show if you want a real debate. By the way, I am a convert with an Ivy League degree, if that matters to you. I chose Islam after reading the Koran and meeting "real" Muslims. It was an easy decision I have not regretted for the past 20 years.