Letter to the editor:
Professor Patel is fully entitled to his views about my lecture. He is even free to misrepresent what I said, as he has brazenly done in his written comments. I never vilified Islam as such; I specifically singled out the Hanbali tradition in Sunni Islam as the source of the extremism evidenced by ISIS and similar sub-bestial groups in the Middle East today. And yes, such inhuman behavior these days is indeed emanating out of this very specific Hanbali tradition within Sunni Islam—this is an incontrovertible fact. To claim that without dhimmitude Jews and Christians would not have survived until today in majority-Muslim settings is both demeaning and offensive—it implies that the only Jew or Christian worthy of surviving in Muslim lands is the one robbed of his/her freedoms. This thinking is no longer acceptable in the 21st century, Professor Patel. Everyone knows that the KKK and the crusades have nothing to do with the spirit of Christ, but ISIS has everything to do with Hanbalism. The problem we face today, as I amply expounded in my lecture, is the endemic weakness and cowardice displayed by moderate Sunnis who are either in denial about the facts, or intimidated into silence by the radical violent few in their midst. Needed is a truly reformist movement from within to face down the militants and delegitimize them. Apparently none of this was absorbed by Professor Patel, who was too busy formulating his distortions of what I actually said.
Habib C. Malik, PhD
April 16, 2016
Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Professor of Religious Studies Youshaa Patel’s op-ed, “Christian vs. Muslim: Lecture advances bigotry, not tolerance,” published in the 4/15 issue, which was in response to Professor Habib Malik’s lecture at Lafayette. Opinions and letters appearing in The Lafayette are solely those of the authors.