If You Don’t Stand for Something, you will Fall for Anything.

I disagree with Hirsi Ali on this one.

Islam is so many different levels of screwed up at this point. It’s a religion where debate is not encouraged. It’s followers are exhorted to be as blinded and as fanatical as possible. It is anti intellectual and anti social.

The nice friendly muslims are now a cultural minority. Imams up and down the Muslim world encourage theology as an acceptable substitute for common sense and the finest minds of the 6th Century AD dictate how people should live their lives. It would be like living your life according to the teachings of Pliny the Elder. Silly but people take the opinions written in the Koran seriously with deadly effect.

It is racist, sexist and incredibly Luddite as a faith and any liberals from it’s ranks toe the line beyond which lies blasphemy and apostasy. It encourages a frankly tribal mentality and prevents a lot of muslims from living a normal happy life.

It isn’t great, but does Hirsi Ali honestly think substituting one faith with another is going to change the lot of women in Islamic society?

Blasphemy and Apostasy in islam are punishable by “death”. Same as the bible as both draw their information from the same source. Many laws in the Koran are actually biblical laws. Sharia law is in fact “bible compatible” and kosher. The ex-muslims who convert out are actually writing out their own death sentences. Encouraging these women to give up their faith to come to christianity is to exchange one patriarchal faith for another albeit less patriarchal one but it still doesn’t change the fundamental problem in that these converts are now regarded as “fair game”. Hirsi Ali fails to realise that the issue isn’t what faith these women convert to but that they convert in the first place.

The horns are to indicate
that he is a scape goat.

Islam isn’t going to change over night, no religion has and no religion will. It’s a kind of culture and breaking culture will not occur in one fell swoop but by the sweat tears and efforts of millions. The voices of the lunatics are too loud and every perceived assault on the religion forces more moderates into silence. When we strike against an imam preaching hate or a cell of muslim terrorists we aren’t striking against hate or terror, we are seen as striking against muslims first. That attitude is pervasive in islam particularly in the more conservative parts of it. Muslims get defensive over their own faith and prefer to believe in conspiracy theories rather than accepting the problem of fundamentalism that they have on their hands because it is easier to believe that the Great Satan is responsible for all your problems rather than taking responsibility for problems and solving them.

It’s horrible, but we are not going to achieve equality for women in Islam right now. It will take decades to force the change and the only way the change can be forced is by muslims themselves standing up, accepting that there is a problem with the jihadi mentality and sharia law and making the change themselves. We will forever be outsiders in this issue and we can only support and call for change, not affect it ourselves.

The issue is that women are treated as property in Islam, women are regarded as incapable of doing anything and that their role is that of the brood mare and housewife rather than as equals. The other issue is that Islam treats reality as if it were a war. All the muslims (of the right sort) are on one side and everyone else is on the other side of the argument. Anyone who leaves is a target and anyone who does anything to disrupt the rules of Islam are seen as fair game. Be it two people who fall in love over passed notes or if someone says something that you disagree with.

What can we do? For starters, we need to enshrine secular rule in our laws. We need to stop pandering to all religion, Islam included. We shouldn’t treat the veil as a cultural choice and instead insist that it not be used. We should criticise all that is wrong with Islam and there is a lot of it. We should encourage moderates to criticise it as well. It’s not apostasy to state that “I think the Ayatollah’s crackdowns on democracy are inhumane and barbaric and we shouldn’t tolerate that” or that “Kashmiri militants aren’t fighting for freedom they are fighting for an Islamic state which would reduce the freedoms of non muslims, women and anyone not wanting to live in an islamic state” or “Hamaas are terrorists and not an appropriate solution to the Palestinian’s problem even if Israel are equally bad”. These are not dirty words, dissent is not dirty, its part of dealing with issues.

We need to create a voice for the moderate muslims to fight back against the crazies and we need to provide services to protect both men and women from the abuse. Simply encouraging these women to swap between gods will still place them in the firing line but with the added problem of creating hatred between christian and muslim faiths. Which is basically like arguing over whose invisible friend can win in the fight but people take both of their invisible friends seriously, serious enough to kill. It doesn’t improve the situation these women are in since they are still potential targets.

Yes, some people cannot live without their god, but a new one is not the answer. Christianity seems mild mannered because it’s been beaten into submission by feminism, science and humanists who realised how bad it was. Islam has not had that treatment, I am proposing we should start working on that by encouraging voices in Islam to speak for the moderates and to campaign for the liberalisation of Islam.

Atheists cannot make the change, we are universally unliked and often with good reason. We are ornery and don’t understand religion. We treat it like a joke and deride it at the drop of a hat. Other religions are seen as the enemy and so cannot effect change. Only muslims can through sweat, blood and through tears as I fear fundamentalist Islam and the tribal mentality of Islam has been given such a free reign that there will be a lot more blood and tears before this fight is done. As of now, the moderates are in the minority because they are quiet and not one will raise their voice because they don’t realise how many of them there are. No one is willing to lift their head and speak out lest it be struck off.

That is where blogs and the like can come in. The Greater Internet Theory may hold true in both ways. I wish to postulate the Lesser Internet The

Normal Person + Anonymity = Superhero
It’s so obvious!

A normal person with anonymity can affect change in a positive way as well. There are Muslim moderates, Muslim gays, lesbians and transgender and Ex-Muslim atheists all out there who don’t have voices so people assume they don’t exist. Their criticisms go unheard. All we hear is the same fundamentalists and luddite islamicists who are holding the moderates hostage and making them seem like the minority.

Anonymity will protect those moderates who have something to say. It will help protect ex-muslim atheists who wish to say something. Muslim GLBT can realise that there are others like them. It can make a movement out of nothing. And it can fight against all the the tragedy and fanaticism that pervade Islam ensuring the safety of it’s early campaigners and spreading the movement. Open bravery will get them killed, that much is known and asking good honest people to take that risk when I wouldn’t is foolishness. But they can be a little brave when no one knows who they are.

And do you think that unto such as you

A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew

God gave the secret, and denied it me?

Well, well-what matters it? Believe that, too!

Any muslims who do read this would heed these words carefully. They aren’t written by a christian or atheist or hindu, they are from the Rubiyaat of Omar Khayam. Ultimately there are no secrets in the Koran hidden away by your Imams nor does any solution lie in the christian priests or hindu brahmins. All you have is yourself and the humans around you, and isn’t that enough to be happy.

And remember, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. 


  1. Mab1677 says

    I agree with you. You know I do. One thing I have been coming up against and you bring up…why so many hate atheists. My question is why can many atheists not be more tolerant? The "all knowing" and arrogant superiority that many presume to lord over the religious is just as bad or more so than those who believe in the spiritual. When those who profess to believe in nothing but science and natural laws but choose to be intolerant and just as bigoted as any terrorist hell bent upon Jihad; I see no difference in either. It does not require emotion or hand holding. It requires a bit of civility and humanity. Only my own thoughts. ;)

  2. says

    It is hard not to come of as anything but those though. We are not fans of religion as a whole. We don't discuss it in a way conducive to discourse since we believe in different things.

    It's not intolerance to regard something as superstition but we also have bigger fish to fry than merely trumpeting our atheism over and over again.

    And I am sure an islamic terrorist is far worse than Hitchens or Dawkins, its just that if we are going to criticise islam then we should do it now and in a way that encourages their moderates to do something about it.

    For instance if we hear about an honour killing, the response we normally give is "tch! Barbarians" followed by the usually ruckus over sharia law. Instead perhaps we need to start having actual muslim voices loudly condemn it and start working to stopping these events.

    There isn't much progress, these views still exist with no loud muslim voice condemning them. It's where we can help if we simply fought for secularism (AKA no religion in public and in government, do what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone at home.). If assaulted on atheism we can defend it but we shouldn't push it any more than we should push christianity. If people want to know about us we can tell them, if people attack us we can defend ourselves, if people say stupid things we should call them out.

    But above all we should encourage everyone to do so irrespective of what magic being they worship!

  3. says

    "Many laws in the Koran are actually biblical laws. Sharia law is in fact 'bible compatible' and kosher."

    "Christianity seems mild mannered because it's been beaten into submission by feminism, science and humanists who realised how bad it was."

    Thanks very much for writing this. My family is Muslim, but I'm an atheist. I considered converting to Christianity for a short while during middle school, but realized that was a bag idea upon my first attempt at reading the Bible. I have a great deal of respect for Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but I must disagree with her on this one point.

    What you've mentioned here is something I've wondered about as well. I don't agree with Islam at all, but at the same time, I want to show some support for those who are trying to make it better, e.g. Irshad Manji, rather than just encouraging people to convert to another religion.

    I absolutely, positively love the picture! The anonymity of the internet is certainly a very useful thing, and while we hear about the bad things that can be the result of it (tricks, scams, etc.) it can also be very wonderful for people who are speaking out about important issues.

    (As a side note: Is it just me, or is the interviewer asking the same question over and over again in the first part of the interview?)

    Also, I just wanted to let you know that I came to your blog because I liked a comment you made on another site. (I think it was Blag Hag.)

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