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Islamic Scripture Is Not the Problem

And Funding Muslim Reformers Is Not the Solution

  Spare me the lecture: Muslim teens bowling in San Francisco, November 2009. JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is correct that darker passages of Islamic Scripture endorse violence and prescribe harsh punishments for moral or theological infractions. And she is right that in many Muslim countries, too many citizens still think it is a good idea to kill people for apostasy, stone them for adultery, and beat women for disobedience just because Scripture says so. But Hirsi Ali is profoundly wrong when she argues that Islamic Scripture causes Muslim terrorism and thus that the U.S. government should fund Muslim dissidents to reform Islam.

Islamic Scripture is a constant. Over 1,000 years old, it is composed of the Koran and hadith, words and deeds attributed to the Prophet Muhammad by his followers. Muslims who want to justify violence can find plenty of passages to cite—collections of hadith run into the hundreds of volumes. Nevertheless, Muslim political behavior has varied greatly throughout history. Some Muslims have

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