To the editor,
In response to Sgt. Smith's comment, "why would any free-thinking woman accept to be treated as chattel?," no free-thinking woman would. That is a no-brainer. A free-thinking woman would investigate Islam as it was revealed to all of the prophets in Islam from Adam to Mohammed to discover whether Sgt. Smith's accusations are valid. Islam does not promote female circumcision, just like Christianity does not promote fatal eating disorders, although it is prevalent in industrialized societies where Christianity is the majority faith. Islam also does not prescribe stoning for a woman who was raped.
The first individuals to convert to Islam as revealed in the Prophet Muhammad's time were women. In fact, the first convert to Islam was a powerful woman who owned a lucrative transportation business. Islam attracts free-thinking women because it acknowledges the inherent strength in women.
Islam guarantees to every woman the rights to seek higher education, choose her own mate, participate in public discourse and control her own finances. A Muslim woman is also equal to a Muslim man in spiritual matters (Qur'an 16:98 and 33:36). Interestingly, the first treaty ever recorded and highlighted to this day in first year law courses, the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, was partly the product of a Muslim woman. It was a peace treaty signed between the pagan Arabs and the first Muslims, and the prophet settled on the appropriate language only after taking the advice of his free-thinking wife.
I have lived in a Muslim country, and I am a convert to Islam. While I see plenty of room for improvement, because I am a free-thinking Muslim woman, I know that Muslims endure cultural baggage just like all people, and Islam is not to blame.
Executive Director, Council on American Islamic Relations, Orlando, Fla.