Mustafa Akyol: Faith versus tradition in Islam


A few weeks ago, I had a chance
to go to Saudi Arabia. And the first thing
I wanted to do as a Muslim was to go to Mecca and visit the Kaaba, the holiest shrine of Islam. And I did that;
I put on my ritualistic dress, I went to the holy mosque, I did my prayers, I observed all the rituals. And meanwhile,
besides all the spirituality, there was one mundane detail in the Kaaba that was pretty interesting for me: there was no separation of sexes. In other words, men and women
were worshiping all together. They were together while doing tawāf,
the circular walk around the Kaaba. They were together while praying. And if you wonder
why this is interesting at all, you have to see the rest of Saudi Arabia, because this a country which is strictly
divided between the sexes. In other words: as men, you are simply not supposed to be
in the same physical space with women. And I noticed this in a very funny way. I left the Kaaba to eat something
in downtown Mecca. I headed to the nearest
Burger King restaurant. And I went there — I noticed
that there was a male section, which is carefully separated
from the female section. I had to pay, order and eat
in the male section. “It’s funny,” I said to myself, “You can mingle with the opposite sex
at the holy Kaaba, but not at the Burger King?” (Laughter) Quite, quite ironic. Ironic, and it’s also,
I think, quite telling, because the Kaaba
and the rituals around it are relics from the earliest
phase of Islam, that of prophet Muhammad. And if there was a big emphasis
at the time to separate men from women, the rituals around the Kaaba
could have been designed accordingly. But apparently, that was not
an issue at the time. So the rituals came that way. This is also, I think,
confirmed by the fact that the seclusion of women
in creating a divided society is something that you also
do not find in the Koran — the very core of Islam,
the divine core of Islam — that all Muslims, equally myself, believe. And I think it’s not an accident that you don’t find this idea
in the very origin of Islam, because many scholars who study
the history of Islamic thought — Muslim scholars or Westerners — think that, actually, the practice
of dividing men and women physically came as a later development in Islam, as Muslims adopted
some preexisting cultures and traditions of the Middle East. Seclusion of women was actually
a Byzantine and Persian practice, and Muslims adopted it
and made it a part of their religion. Actually, this is just one example
of a much larger phenomenon. What we call today Islamic law,
and especially Islamic culture — and there are many Islamic
cultures, actually; the one in Saudi Arabia is much different from where I come
from in Istanbul or Turkey. But still, if you’re going to speak
about a Muslim culture, this has a core: the divine message
which began the religion. But then many traditions, perceptions,
practices were added on top of it. And these were traditions
of the Middle East medieval traditions. There are two important
messages, or two lessons, to take from that reality. First of all, Muslims — pious, conservative, believing Muslims
who want to be loyal to their religion — should not cling onto everything
in their culture, thinking that that’s divinely mandated. Maybe some things are bad traditions
and they need to be changed. On the other hand, the Westerners
who look at Islamic culture and see some troubling aspects should not readily conclude
that this is what Islam ordains. Maybe it’s a Middle Eastern culture
that became confused with Islam. There is a practice
called female circumcision. It’s something terrible, horrible. It is basically an operation
to deprive women of sexual pleasure. And Westerners — Europeans or Americans —
who didn’t know about this before, [saw] this practice within some of the Muslim communities
who migrated from North Africa. And they’ve thought, “Oh, what a horrible religion that is,
which ordains something like that.” But when you look at female circumcision, you see that it has
nothing to do with Islam; it’s just a North African practice
which predates Islam. It was there for thousands of years. And, quite tellingly,
some Muslims do practice it — the Muslims in North Africa,
not in other places. But also the non-Muslim
communities of North Africa — the animists, some Christians
and even a Jewish tribe in North Africa — are known to practice female circumcision. So what might look like a problem
within Islamic faith might turn out to be a tradition
that Muslims have subscribed to. The same thing can be said
for honor killings, which is a recurrent theme
in the Western media — and which is, of course,
a horrible tradition. And we see, truly, in some Muslim
communities, that tradition. But in the non-Muslim communities
of the Middle East, such as some Christian communities,
Eastern communities, you see the same practice. We had a tragic case of an honor killing within Turkey’s Armenian community
just a few months ago. Now, these are things
about general culture, but I’m also very much
interested in political culture and whether liberty
and democracy is appreciated, or whether there’s an authoritarian
political culture in which the state is supposed
to impose things on the citizens. And it is no secret that many Islamic movements
in the Middle East tend to be authoritarian, and some of the so-called
“Islamic regimes,” such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and the worst
case, the Taliban in Afghanistan, they are pretty authoritarian —
no doubt about that. For example, in Saudi Arabia, there is a phenomenon
called the religious police. And the religious police imposes
the supposed Islamic way of life on every citizen, by force — like, women are forced
to cover their heads — wear the hijab, the Islamic head cover. Now that is pretty authoritarian, and that’s something
I’m very much critical of. But when I realized that the non-Muslim, or the non-Islamic-minded
actors in the same geography sometimes behaved similarly, I realized that the problem maybe lies in the political culture
of the whole region, not just Islam. Let me give you an example:
in Turkey, where I come from, which is a very hyper-secular republic, until very recently, we used to have
what I call “secularism police,” which would guard the universities
against veiled students. In other words, they would force students
to uncover their heads. And I think forcing people
to uncover their head is as tyrannical as forcing
them to cover it. It should be the citizen’s decision. But when I saw that, I said, “Maybe the problem is just
an authoritarian culture in the region, and some Muslims
have been influenced by that. But the secular-minded people
can be influenced by that. Maybe it’s a problem
of the political culture, and we have to think about
how to change that political culture.” Now, these are some of the questions
I had in mind a few years ago when I sat down to write a book. I said, “Well, I will do research about how Islam actually
came to be what it is today, and what roads were taken
and what roads could have been taken.” The name of the book is “Islam Without
Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty.” And as the subtitle suggests, I looked at Islamic tradition
and the history of Islamic thought from the perspective
of individual liberty, and I tried to find what are the strengths
with regard to individual liberty. And there are strengths
in Islamic tradition. Islam, actually,
as a monotheistic religion, which defined man
as a responsible agent by itself, created the idea of the individual
in the Middle East, and saved it from the communitarianism,
the collectivism of the tribe. You can derive many ideas from that. But besides that, I also saw
problems within Islamic tradition. But one thing was curious: most of those problems turn out to be
problems that emerged later, not from the very divine core
of Islam, the Koran, but from, again,
traditions and mentalities, or the interpretations of the Koran
that Muslims made in the Middle Ages. The Koran, for example,
doesn’t condone stoning. There is no punishment for apostasy. There is no punishment
for personal sins like drinking. These things which make Islamic law, the troubling aspects of Islamic law, were developed into later
interpretations of Islam. Which means that Muslims can, today, look at those things and say, “Well, the core of our religion
is here to stay with us. It’s our faith,
and we will be loyal to it. But we can change how it was interpreted, because it was interpreted
according to the time and milieu in the Middle Ages. Now we’re living in a different world, with different values
and political systems.” That interpretation
is quite possible and feasible. Now, if I were the only person
thinking that way, we would be in trouble. But that’s not the case at all. Actually, from the 19th century on, there’s a whole revisionist, reformist —
whatever you call it — tradition, a trend in Islamic thinking. These were intellectuals or statesmen of the 19th century,
and later, 20th century, which looked at Europe, basically, and saw that Europe
has many things to admire, like science and technology. But not just that;
also democracy, parliament, the idea of representation, the idea of equal citizenship. These Muslim thinkers, intellectuals
and statesmen of the 19th century, looked at Europe,
saw these things, and said, “Why don’t we have these things?” And they looked back at Islamic tradition, and saw that there are
problematic aspects, but they’re not the core of the religion,
so maybe they can be re-understood, and the Koran can be reread
in the modern world. That trend is generally called
Islamic modernism, and it was advanced
by intellectuals and statesmen, not just as an intellectual idea, though, but also as a political program. And that’s why, actually,
in the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire, which then
covered the whole Middle East, made very important reforms — reforms like giving Christians and Jews
an equal citizenship status, accepting a constitution, accepting a representative parliament, advancing the idea of freedom of religion. That’s why the Ottoman Empire,
in its last decades, turned into a proto-democracy,
a constitutional monarchy, and freedom was a very important
political value at the time. Similarly, in the Arab world, there was what the great Arab
historian Albert Hourani defines as the Liberal Age. He has a book, “Arabic Thought
in the Liberal Age,” and the Liberal Age, he defines
as 19th century and early 20th century. Quite notably, this was the dominant trend
in the early 20th century among Islamic thinkers
and statesmen and theologians. But there is a very curious pattern
in the rest of the 20th century, because we see a sharp decline
in this Islamic modernist line. And in place of that, what happens is that Islamism grows
as an ideology which is authoritarian, which is quite strident, which is quite anti-Western, and which wants to shape society
based on a utopian vision. So Islamism is the problematic idea that really created a lot of problems
in the 20th-century Islamic world. And even the very extreme
forms of Islamism led to terrorism in the name of Islam — which is actually a practice
that I think is against Islam, but some, obviously, extremists,
did not think that way. But there is a curious question: If Islamic modernism was so popular
in the 19th and early 20th centuries, why did Islamism become so popular
in the rest of the 20th century? And this is a question, I think,
which needs to be discussed carefully. In my book, I went
into that question as well. And actually, you don’t need to be
a rocket scientist to understand that. Just look at the political
history of the 20th century, and you see things have changed a lot. The contexts have changed. In the 19th century, when Muslims were looking
at Europe as an example, they were independent;
they were more self-confident. In the early 20th century,
with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the whole Middle East was colonized. And when you have colonialization,
what do you have? You have anti-colonialization. So Europe is not just
an example now to emulate; it’s an enemy to fight and to resist. So there’s a very sharp decline
in liberal ideas in the Muslim world, and what you see is more of a defensive,
rigid, reactionary strain, which led to Arab socialism,
Arab nationalism and ultimately to the Islamist ideology. And when the colonial period ended, what you had in place of that
was generally secular dictators, which say they’re a country, but did not bring
democracy to the country, and established their own dictatorship. And I think the West,
at least some powers in the West, particularly the United States, made the mistake of supporting
those secular dictators, thinking that they were more
helpful for their interests. But the fact that those dictators
suppressed democracy in their country and suppressed Islamic
groups in their country actually made the Islamists
much more strident. So in the 20th century, you had this vicious cycle
in the Arab world, where you have a dictatorship
suppressing its own people, including the Islamic pious, and they’re reacting in reactionary ways. There was one country, though, which was able to escape or stay away
from that vicious cycle. And that’s the country
where I come from, Turkey. Turkey has never been colonized, so it remained as an independent nation
after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. That’s one thing to remember; it did not share
the same anti-colonial hype that you can find in some other
countries in the region. Secondly, and most importantly, Turkey became a democracy earlier than any of the countries
we are talking about. In 1950, Turkey had the first
free and fair elections, which ended the more
autocratic secular regime, which was in the beginning of Turkey. And the pious Muslims in Turkey saw that they could change
the political system by voting. And they realized that democracy
is something compatible with Islam, compatible with their values, and they’ve been supportive of democracy. That’s an experience that not every other Muslim nation
in the Middle East had, until very recently. Secondly, in the past two decades, thanks to globalization,
thanks to the market economy, thanks to the rise of a middle class, we in Turkey see what I define
as a rebirth of Islamic modernism. Now, there’s the more urban
middle-class pious Muslims who, again, look at their tradition and see that there are
some problems in the tradition, and understand that they need to be
changed and questioned and reformed. And they look at Europe,
and see an example, again, to follow. They see an example, at least,
to take some inspiration from. That’s why the EU process,
Turkey’s effort to join the EU, has been supported inside Turkey
by the Islamic pious, while some secular nationalists
were against it. Well, that process
has been a little bit blurred by the fact that not all
Europeans are that welcoming, but that’s another discussion. But the pro-EU sentiment
in Turkey in the past decade has become almost an Islamic cause
and supported by the Islamic liberals and the secular liberals
as well, of course. And thanks to that, Turkey has been able
to reasonably create a success story in which Islam and the most pious
understandings of Islam have become part of the democratic game, and even contributes to the democratic
and economic advance of the country. And this has been
an inspiring example right now for some of the Islamic movements or some of the countries
in the Arab world. You must have all seen the Arab Spring, which began in Tunis and in Egypt. Arab masses just revolted
against their dictators. They were asking for democracy;
they were asking for freedom. And they did not turn out to be
the Islamist boogeyman that the dictators were always using
to justify their regime. They said, “We want freedom;
we want democracy. We are Muslim believers, but we want to be living
as free people in free societies.” Of course, this is a long road. Democracy is not an overnight
achievement; it’s a process. But this is a promising era
in the Muslim world. And I believe that the Islamic modernism
which began in the 19th century, but which had a setback
in the 20th century because of the political
troubles of the Muslim world, is having a rebirth. And I think the takeaway message
from that would be that Islam, despite some of the skeptics in the West, has the potential in itself to create its own way to democracy,
create its own way to liberalism, create its own way to freedom. They just should be allowed
to work for that. Thanks so much. (Applause)


100 Responses

  1. Bilal Atif

    May 29, 2012 5:19 pm

    By toothbrush he doesn't mean the one with fancy looks which is in your washroom. Its a traditional tooth stick called as 'miswak' which did exist at that time. And punishing your wife with this suggests the level of softness that should be there in your attitude while treating your wives. Well for me these teachings have a strong lesson and its better than getting drunk and yelling which might be not very gayish!

  2. niswanji

    May 30, 2012 11:29 pm

    u would still look gay, using a miswak, use ur imagination….lol, and getting drunk and yelling would land u in jail, and if u hit or "tap" any women with any thing ,u would defiantly do some serious time in jail,

  3. Amir Ali Tayyab

    June 27, 2012 5:56 am

    wow!!! really? are you really really that much blinded by hatred towards Islam and Muslims that you can't believe people before the advent of "TOOTH BRUSH" never cleaned their teeth? omg!!! you know what? I'd strongly advise you to seek a psychologist or a shrink's help cause before the advent of any "TOOTH BRUSH", there were many many many day-to-day dental tools that humans used to clean their tooth. OmG!!! and this ignorant comment actually got 22 LIKES???? wow!!! just wow!!!

  4. Amir Ali Tayyab

    June 27, 2012 6:01 am

    Sister in Islam, pls. don't address ignorants like these cause all they are seeking is an attention via their racist and hate-filled attitude towards Islam and Muslims. Alhamdolillah, Islam is spreading so quickly deep through the hearts of the same ignorant and losers. They will know it, not today but with the terrible experiences of life. Jazak Allah for your effort in explaining in a better way to this ignorant though. Wassalam 🙂

  5. Amir Ali Tayyab

    June 27, 2012 6:05 am

    oh come on! you know you are definitely some teenager who is either on anti-depressants or really really neglected by his/her parents. This touching a woman by a Miswak (a form of a toothbrush) as the last resort is the most respectful and a "manly" way to express the anger, unlike obviously how you see your own unidentified dad beating the shhit out of your unwed mom. you'd take your own time to grow up and until then, how about watch cartoons instead of coming on youtube and comment?

  6. Amir Ali Tayyab

    June 27, 2012 6:08 am

    Jazaka Allah brother Bilal. These self-hating ignorant and racist individuals on youtube or anywhere else don't understand the language of love that Islam, your parents and the culture taught you. They have never known respect, never seen it, experienced it, hence you'd get nothing back from them except "blah blah blah" which in itself will make no sense at all. However, Jazak Allah for your time and patience. Wassalam,

  7. niswanji

    June 28, 2012 11:10 pm

    the language of love, wow ..we sure see it in ur people practices every day, from the dragging of solders behind cars, to be headings, to slitting young children throats, to beating the living shit of women…oh what was that ur saying these r not good Muslims..oh OK fare enough , why is this shit happens almost entirely in Muslim countries, or by Muslims, u must be blind if u cant see this ,every time a bomb explodes , or beheading happens 99% a Muslim is behind it ..the language of

  8. Amir Ali Tayyab

    June 29, 2012 4:00 pm

    just don't piss in your pants out of fear whenever you see any Muslim around. Booh!!! 🙂 lollllzzzz… just get the heck out of your living room, watching nothing but Fox News and meet actual and real Muslims out there. These video games that you keep on playing, killing as many Muslims as possible, there's a very different type of a Muslim out there than you media has been showing to you. But no, you won't, you came here to seek attention and you got some. Now, CELEBRATE or piss (being scared)

  9. niswanji

    June 30, 2012 6:38 pm

    ,Muslims don't scare any one, pathetic human beings blow themselves up so they can meet virgins , and look at ur countries half of it, is occupied militarily by infidel, and the other half is dieing to be occupied, Syrian resistance is asking the west to bomb there own country, Egypt with out the infidel assistant will starve to death,and of course u r using a computer ,internet, cars, cell phone..etc all invented by the infidel ,and the west can turn all Mideast into a huge parking lot

  10. BackDack

    July 3, 2012 6:37 pm

    First your judging Islam by the actions of the people who name themselves as Muslims and that is wrong. Either you judge the people or judge the teachings of Islam. second, that things you violence you mentioned doesn't happen only in Muslims countries. If you don't have enough information about something don't talk about it.
    third, their is no universal sense on what is right or wrong, every culture has its own sense.

  11. BackDack

    July 3, 2012 6:56 pm

    there are no rights for an invader,they are defending themselves. killing generally in Islam is the greatest sin you commit against any person(Muslim or Non-Muslim) and Islam allow it only in war and killing only the soldiers in the battle. torture or mutilation are sins. suicide is the greatest sin you commit against yourself so suicidal bombers who commit two great sins in Islam(killing civils and killing themselves) are not a good example to use against Islam.

  12. BackDack

    July 3, 2012 7:07 pm

    the domestic violence cases happens everywhere. The statistics are not very different between Muslim and Non-Muslim communities. Google it and you will see.
    your name is an Arabic name means (womanizer) are you sure that name can give credibility to what are you saying.

  13. BackDack

    July 3, 2012 7:21 pm

    Humans share only the right of free and protected life and private property the rest differ based on the culture its ideologies

  14. niswanji

    July 3, 2012 9:17 pm

    sure domestic violence happens every where, the difference , in the west it is severely punished , in some cases the offender spends 20 years in jail for such an offense, and it is defiantly not sanctioned by any religion other than Islam, in Muslim countries a younger brother can beat the shit out of his sister, or wife, and in some cases kill them , yet there is hardly any punishment, in some rape cases they make the rapist marry the victim, and u know this is the truth, so breach it to them

  15. BackDack

    July 4, 2012 4:48 am

    First, yes the punishments in Middle East countries for domestic violence isn't severe. But that's not the teachings of Islam. the middle east is filled with Ignorant people and most of them doesn't know anything from Islam except the name of it. and they interpret the words of Quran to what they think is right.Muhammad said "The best of you are those who are best to their families, and I am the best of you to my family." [Tirmidhî, Sahîh]

  16. BackDack

    July 4, 2012 4:49 am

    Muhammad kept mentioning women rights until the day he died. he knew that the Middle east will go back to abusing women and children.

  17. umer khan

    August 17, 2012 1:01 pm

    Excellent lecture. It cleared my mind about liberal islamist . Actually liberal islamist are the real islamists . Respect from Pakistan . #peace

  18. Sameer Ansari

    November 20, 2012 5:00 pm

    basically faith is backed by religion tradition is backed by cultures, they can be same sometimes or different at times

  19. DiGa25

    December 21, 2012 9:45 am

    In Islamic context: Tradition (taqleed) is the set of inherited beliefs, usually passed by predecessors and ancestors. Faith (imaan), on the other hand, is the set of beliefs that one forms through practicing logic (mantiq or i'malul aql), in other words, the conclusions that one reaches by his/her lifelong process of working one's own intellect.

  20. flori f

    December 29, 2012 11:30 pm

    Don't you see this video explains that Quran is not what massmedia says.
    Read it before you talk about it.
    I m an atheist but I know whats the truth and i express that …

  21. niswanji

    December 30, 2012 12:26 am

    can u please specify some facts to support ur claims? i say women gets half the inheritance of man, women's testimony is half the mans, Mohamed said that women missing brains and religion . a women , Mohammad said a black cat , and a donkey would spoil prayers, these quotes r either from sa7ee7 Bukharin or from Qur'an , so tell me what rights r u talking about, i know that u know that Islam looks down at women why r u trying to sugar coated?

  22. BackDack

    January 7, 2013 3:17 pm

    women gets half the inheritance, but men is obligated to pay for everything a women needs. anything a women owns is her alone. any man most pay for his wife and daughter even if they have more money than him. and yes a woman testimony is half the man testimony. and "women missing brains and religion" is a mistranslation, the "religion" part refers to the fact that women stop fasting and praying during their period. –>

  23. BackDack

    January 7, 2013 3:38 pm

    –> and the "brain" means that women emotions are stronger than men and this is why they are who gets pregnant and care about children and they gets to be in front of men in anything related to emotions like the fact that you should care about your mother three times than your father. you claim to know arabic but all the Hadith you said are mistranslated. its a women if she prayed in front you . her behind will be in front of you face and sometimes your face is almost an inch far from it.–>

  24. BackDack

    January 7, 2013 3:59 pm

    –> if she is beside you there is no problem. and this hadith isn't even in sahih al-bukhari. you either don't know Arabic or you are bad at translating to english. the last hadith said a dog not a cat.on of the last things " Muhammad said is "treat women with utmost good" and
    repeated it three times. if you think that Muhammad treated women badly, bring me something he did, not a bad translation or a hadith without explaining it.

  25. Patr111k

    February 15, 2013 10:41 pm

    ISLAM is worse than COMMUNISM.

    They do not allow freedom of speech in their countries but they want to spread here, in Europe. They use our liberty against us but do not offer the same.

    We either deal with them or we are going to have a problem.

  26. Patr111k

    February 15, 2013 10:57 pm

    Qur'an (4:89) – "They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper."


  27. VariablyFixed

    March 5, 2013 8:23 am

    Perhaps Mustafa thinks because he has a Muslim name it gives him some credibility when talking about Islam (in a similar way someone with the surname 'Brunel' might consider this a credible factor whenever he might talk about engineering, perhaps). If I have an ailment in my leg, I'm going to a medical practitioner. If I want to build a bridge, I'm going to a company like Atkins. If I want to know about Islam, am I going to Mustafa?

  28. Nahit Akarsu

    March 30, 2013 3:58 am

    WATCH Lesley Hazleton: Ted Talks
    That would answer your question about equality of women in Islam. Unlike the bible the Quran includes both man and women when it is referring to humans not just men. And to add prophet Muhammed has never said anything like women of no brains or if u see a black cat and donkey will spoil your prayers. I could care less you like islam or muslims but I will not let you lie and give a false idea of what islam is. Islam is beautiful

  29. khaled omari

    April 2, 2013 2:47 am

    i feel sorry for u, u r in denial ,just like i use to be my self but the more u search the more u will come to the right conclusion , it is not only about the status of women in islam, it is about a lot more keep searching, did u know that the prophet killed 800 jewish men as young as 12 years old, and the same night slept with safiah bent 7oyai right after he killed her father, brother, and husband while she watched, it brings pain to my heart to know that, look it up, and try to find excuse

  30. schopsz

    April 3, 2013 11:30 pm

    please forgive me for jumping into the conversation, I think when Muhammad said that cats and donkeys would spoil the prayer is because it is true, it's true in any religion. Imagine a donkey in a church or temple. Animals don't clean after themselves and prayer places are kept clean. Muhammad also said that if a person hasn't cleaned after himself than he shouldn't be at the prayer.

  31. SubliminalRealityTV

    April 19, 2013 12:48 am

    Those are very easy questions to answer. This is PART ONE of those answers. Women gets half the inheritance of man is because it in Islam it is an obligation for the man to provide for the woman. A woman may support herself but she is free to work or not to work, but the man must be able to provide for her. Women's testimony is half the mans only in financial cases for the reason that throughout history men have been the ones to deal with money, it was only recently women started doing so.

  32. SubliminalRealityTV

    April 19, 2013 12:52 am

    PART TWO. The wife of the Prophet (PBUH) had proved that a woman pass by a man when he is praying as she did so. This proves the Prophet never said anything along those lines.

  33. niswanji

    May 1, 2013 11:58 pm

    so why didn't he say that he who provides for the house hold gets double the inheritance, there r many crippled men at birth , but they still get double the inheritance, and as for here testimony well u r lying and u know it, it is in Qur'an 2:282.. check out for ur self.

  34. SubliminalRealityTV

    May 2, 2013 12:09 am

    Islamic scholar (the good ones at least) are debating the matter of inheritance as we speak. I take it from your name you either are arabic or know arabic. If you do search for a scholar called Adnan Ibrahim, he openly talks about the issue. But as you know that Muslims hold the teaching of the Quran above all else so great care must be taken when debating such issues. As for verse 2:282 it is speaking about finance and money.

  35. niswanji

    May 12, 2013 9:27 pm

    scholars can't debate such matter, because it is clear in the quran in the form of order sura al nesa 11 (for the male, what is equal to the share of two females.)that's like saying scholars r debating the mater of alcohol , prayers, zakat or any clear part of the religion of Islam, u just cant reverse the teachings of quran period and why would they do that , did they finally admit that this is an unfair practice?

  36. SubliminalRealityTV

    May 14, 2013 6:51 pm

    Scholars know that when a ruling or law is placed there is a reason for it. What some are saying is that due to the changes in social dynamics the reason for the law being placed has changes. This is similar to when Umar Bin Al Khatab temporarily dropped the Quranic punishment for thieft, as he knew that the law had been placed for a reason and a situation. If you understand arabic I would like you to search for a man called Adnan Ibrahim & Mohammed Shahrour they both have talked about the issue

  37. S2076

    June 14, 2013 4:43 pm

    Maybe as the resurfacing of the tribal tradition that predates Islam as he mentioned in the beginning? In Yugoslavia we saw how under Tito ethnic groups seemed to have ended their hated and distrust towards each other and worked together in amazing fashion. Nobody was expecting what happened after the fall of communism.

  38. Rob Carson

    June 15, 2013 1:09 am

    Muhammad also says to hit women.
    The problem is when people have faith in book then they can take what they want from it. It says don't kill, but people kill in Allah's name almost daily.

    Allah needs to come down and sort out whats right and wrong from the Qur'an. Oh that's right hes not real

  39. Fatima Minhas

    June 15, 2013 7:35 pm

    Someone understands. People get very hung over cultural customs and traditions over actual religious practices. It does not say in the Quran that woman have to be separated or that they have to have arranged marriage or anything like that.

    It says NOTHING like that.

  40. Flavia Almonte

    June 17, 2013 11:53 am

    In Turkey, most Turks drink alcohol. That is strictly forbidden in the Quran I wonder if he lives that is a cultural thing or not

  41. HaasGrotesk

    June 18, 2013 2:13 pm

    Fucked a 9 year old child… Killed men, women and children when he raided villages. Is that bad enough for you?

  42. K G

    June 28, 2013 2:09 am

    if they were maried and she was bilogically not a child, then clean ur head. So how many civilians did the us government kill,, thousands, do you know difference between just and unjust?

  43. HaasGrotesk

    June 28, 2013 8:10 am

    Before protecting Islam and even saying anything about it read the Quran! Everything you just said is false! Islam is not equal to women! It says clearly in the Quran that women are lower than man, that you are allowed to rape and hit them. Women in Saudi Arabia aren't even allowed to drive. Women of Islam can't go out without covering themselves or asking their husband/brother/father for permission. Learn before you speak! Some Ted talk won't help! Read the Quran my lost friend!

  44. thatdevilguy

    July 1, 2013 9:33 am

    I can't believe that TED had a muslim guy speak. I thought this forum was for enlightened people not ones who believe in superstitious mythology. Very sad. Why don't they give time to flat-earthers? Just as valid.

  45. sabah v.s.

    July 4, 2013 6:55 am



    watch this before commenting

  46. Neriman Cokelekoglu

    July 10, 2013 12:48 am

    The way we believe and practise Quran is totally different than Middle Eastern Countries.i am from Turkey

  47. omar sayed

    July 16, 2013 11:17 pm

    now i can see how many hypocrites are there in the world, these people who hate on islam and other religions and cultures are the same ones that stand against racism and stand for gay rights and tell you to be open minded. now you're gonna tell me about suicide bombers and tens of people that die, i dont quite think you are aware of whats happening in palestine and iraq and the thousands that die every day. you guys are used to getting brainwashed. you attack and get pissed when we fight back

  48. Shirxan Aslanzade

    July 29, 2013 5:58 pm

    Islam is beauty, my friends..Dont believe others, they can make up anything, just learn the real Islam and know how beatiful Islam is!

  49. Hakan Karadan

    July 31, 2013 4:40 am

    My dear friend; I wonder how you have learned that Drinking Alcohol strictly forbidden in the Quran? Have you ever read it before? No, I don't drink, but I know what is writing in the Quran and I would like you to check it before you say something about it.

  50. Hakan Karadan

    July 31, 2013 4:46 am

    Dear friend, If you would have read the Quran; you would not say this, but people have pre-opinion. Isn't it sad that you are being judged by what people hearing from around? We believe in them and they hate us and only thing we can do is keep being patent even though the media fight against us? I live in US, please ask girls who have been dating educated muslim guys if they are happy or not. We do not see girls as an object. We respect. Please check proper translation of the Quran.

  51. daflameman

    August 1, 2013 6:06 pm

    "every time a bomb explodes , or beheading happens 99% a Muslim is behind it"
    Thirty years ago "99% a Communist is behind it". It changes…

  52. daflameman

    August 1, 2013 6:10 pm

    Actually it says "Do not drink in small amounts what can intoxicate in large amounts". Also it is not "strictly forbidden".

  53. AgrawSB

    September 6, 2013 9:52 pm

    Egypt, not the wole north africa. Egypt is the only trgion in North Africa where female circumcision is practiced. This practice is completely unknown to us, North Africans of the Maghreb.

  54. Aldina D

    September 29, 2013 5:21 pm

    If you have not noticed, people can read the same thing, whether it’s a holly book or not, and form their own interpretations different from your own. It’s all part of life and I’m sure God has no issues with that, or else he would not have given us a mind to think and disagree with others.

  55. Aldina D

    September 29, 2013 5:21 pm

    @MujahidKOS You can have your opinions, but for you to say “May Allah Guide him or Break his back” is cruel and should not come out of the mouth of any person. Or break his back…Seriously? Watch out what you speak, it may just happen to you, the break your back part that is 😉

  56. radubradu

    October 6, 2013 9:33 pm

    TED should be ashamed of itself for trying to defnd islam or as a matter of fact any of these cruel and insane religions

  57. Jake Ayres

    October 17, 2013 10:34 am

    You already know that painful event when your best friend (who’s been a loser forever, I have to say) gets an amazing girl to fall in love with him in, like a couple of weeks? Yep, that basically occured. I am aware I ought to be happy having said that I would prefer if it was me. He revealed that he ran the Cupid Love System (Search in Google for it). I want to hide out inside of a cave instantly…

  58. Wanu

    January 14, 2014 9:47 am

    In Saudi Arabia women aren't forced to cover their head -_- , not in Saudi Arabia not anywhere in the world. don't claim things u dunno about

  59. linguaphile

    January 29, 2014 7:50 am

    It amuses me insanely to see al the islamophobic people here in the comments who genuinely think they know the islam better than a muslim who has made a living of studying islamic culture and the Quran.

  60. Wahiba Bezari

    September 22, 2014 5:09 pm

    It's terrible how this man can't do a small effort to make sure the information he 's sharing about Northa African traditions! femal circonsicion does nt exist in Magreb countries, which are North africain. He coud have made a precision that that horrible practice is known in some countries, like Egypt, that's precision, which is often considered as part of the LMiddle East not North Africa.

  61. Benjamin K Broderick

    October 17, 2014 11:31 pm

    I'm questioning the validity of some of these arguments.  There weren't sources cited or shown in powerpoints, and the man admits he's muslim, which doesn't position him as an objective observer.  So glad I'm an atheist.

  62. suruchi singh

    January 7, 2015 1:43 am

    ISIS is not completely african, if at all african, that is. They recently had a fatwa for compulsory female circumcision.
    And does give me the crap that they are not influenced by Islam. The minute you create a DIVIDE between believers and kafirs, have conquests of kafir lands, have ahl al dimmah, you are CREATING a culture of hate and intolerance that LEADS to sentiments akin to the terrorist's, about converting the world, etc.

  63. nel1122

    January 10, 2015 11:08 pm

    Unacceptably subjective talk, delivered by a confident ignoramus! Worst quality TEDx talk I've ever watched. 

  64. Nabil Telghamti

    May 29, 2015 4:17 pm

    go and check your sources before you start talking, I am a north African and  the female circumcision  is never been a practice in our countries. at least do some research before you start slobbering all over the place. praising your country turkey and undermining others

  65. Bader fahad

    July 13, 2015 9:23 am

    As a Muslim Saudi Arabia and more Arabs countries doesn't represent Islam at all , but they worship there culture 😛

  66. Tracker Who?

    August 6, 2015 12:26 am

    Turkey has some of the worst human rights abuses in modern history. I thought this was about Islam.

  67. Elegant

    August 9, 2015 11:53 pm

    As an Arab I believe the problem was when Ottoman Empire ruled the Arab world after the Islamic Arab empire in the Spain full down because the Turkish didn't respect Arabs culture & the ottoman were not a Scientific

  68. Luiz Avanço

    December 21, 2015 11:45 pm

    "maybe maybe maybe".. This guy needs to show some scientific data, otherwise it's just a bunch of empty words.

  69. 0000

    October 20, 2016 10:40 pm

    he just want to make the picture of islam good
    early islam is like ISIS
    every muslim know that when muslims want to start a war, non-muslims have three options
    1 be a muslim
    2 or pay
    3 or you will be killed

    Im ex-muslim
    if you dont like islam, just dont lie, leave it or except it as it is

  70. Jad El-Kayan

    April 27, 2017 7:44 pm

    I don't believe in Islam anymore, as I don't believe in the idea of a Creator. But I do believe it is reformable, and I support such people. If you remove Hadith and get back to the principles of Mutazila, if you put the verses in their historical context… Islam would be a very liberal religion. The Sunnis always criticize the Shiias for their intercesion to the imams and their extra beliefs but the Sunnis also worship the Sahaba and the hadiths in ways that are more similar to folk religion.

    Regarding the Arab world it is true. What the west did turned Arabs and Muslims into enemies. Especially with the creation of Israel and its effects on Arabs' self-respect. The US also supports many terrorist governments like Israel and Saudi Arabia and militant salafist groups like these "moderate" Allahuakbarites in Syria and the Taliban/AlQaeda previously.

  71. Berlyn Hale

    August 2, 2017 8:26 pm

    he's a much better writer than speaker. before yall judge him go read his "Isalm Without Extremes". This man knows Muslim history.

  72. Clayton Bilderback

    September 21, 2017 5:44 pm

    Too bad speech .. I discovered that he is so racist … he hates arabs too much .. actually in Saudi Arabia they aren't separate women and about a religion police )) الامر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر )) All Muslims must urges to do a good thing and be so far from bad works

  73. sabariah abu bakar

    November 4, 2017 1:44 am

    We have been practicing female circumsicion for centuries in my country and there has been no problem. What are you up to anyway?

  74. aintdatsomethin

    July 28, 2018 11:17 pm

    This is nothing but crap. He is cunning and he deceives people. Islam is no doubt patriarchal. You can't make sense of the Quran let alone arrange it chronologically without the Ahadith. Does Akyol dismiss the Ahadith? As for non-Muslims committing honor killings.. nah, not really. The Armenian guy he referred to was from Turkey and very likely grew up in Kurdish-dominated areas where honor killings are commonplace. There is no such thing as honor killings among Armenians in Armenia or even in Iran and Arabic countries. As for the Tanzimat reforms during the 19th century they were the result of Western pressure, just like contemporary Turkey reluctantly gave in to some EU demands until it became all too clear they had no chance of becoming an EU member anyway. Erdogan has ever since been very open about his sultanic inclinations. PS. Did I mention the speech is crap?

  75. guitar on sky

    May 13, 2019 1:41 am

    Thanks for spreading great ideas as moslem Mr. Mustafa Akyol. I'm one of ur biggest fans!

  76. Horace Lim

    August 9, 2019 2:59 pm

    ALWAYS fact-check an apologist: Ataturk's Turkey used to have "secular police" to prevent the rise of Islam to protect Turkey from regressing!!

    Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn 'Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.'" — Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:260

    A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu'adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu'adh asked, "What is wrong with this (man)?" Abu Musa replied, "He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism." Mu'adh said, "I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle." — Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:271


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