“Islamophobia” – the blasphemy accusation of Western liberals


Readers of this blog will know that I hold Islam to be irreformable. My basis for maintaining this is the Qur’an itself, which I understand to be future-proof. Its guarantee against its own reform is the combination of its claims that Islam is the final religion, Allah’s word may not be challenged and the command (many commands) to those who adhere to the Qur’an to kill anyone who attempts to alter the Qur’an in any way. Calls for an Islamic reformation are, therefore, a threat to Islam and therefore themselves are taken as a call to jihad — this debate amongst ex-Muslims runs beneath the surface of world events.

It is commanded of all who obey Allah to take up arms in defence of Islam. Some do so openly, others secretly. Some bide their time pretending to be peaceful, while yet others who are genuinely not interested, suddenly wake up one day and realise they’ve not been obeying Allah as they should. Some (many) reach the end of their peaceful lives never having fully submitted to the will of Allah. Meanwhile, the taking up of arms in defence of Islam, “in the way of Allah”, is everyday aided and abetted by the kafir jihadis of the West. Their weapon is “Islamophobia”. In my inbox this morning I find Kacem El Ghazzali’s piece on “Islamophobia” from which I quote:

it’s totally absurd that those who are critical of these demands are accused of “Islamophobia”. A reliable method of censorship, Islamists frequently apply this phrase to quickly dispose of any logical or reasoned arguments, while simultaneously making their opponents appear dishonorable. …What’s perplexing is that many Western liberals fall repeatedly into this trap. When it comes to Islam, under the banner of multiculturalism and misplaced tolerance, they’ve come to represent a regressive and even reactionary position.

I wonder how many terrorists got through, how many acts of terror were carried out, and how many people died, because someone feared being called “Islamophobic”. Maasha-Allah, you fuckwits.

Comments

  1. exi5tentialist says

    I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in God. Nor do I think this kind of rubbish adds anything useful to discussions between muslims and atheists or muslims and the west.

    The Quran is not Islam. The Quran is just dead text written by some dead people – I’m amazed that an intelligent atheist gives any credence to it at all. Islam, like any ideology, arises from living people: muslims and non-muslims according to their unique individual viewpoint. If you want to know what the various Islams are, why don’t you find out from all the living, breathing muslims in the world (no – not just SOME of them) and stop projecting your hate onto them through the prism of an out-of-date book that most of them project selective meanings onto anyway. Oh, you think meaning comes from a book? Think again. Meaning forms in, and is projected from, your own brain. This is neurology. Science. Read up on it.

    There is no one thing called Islam. There are as many versions of it as there are muslims. And others – your version of it is particularly hateful. Your use of the defence of your objectivity is doomed to failure. There is no such thing as an objective view. Objectivity is just a model arising from your imagination. It can be useful, but it’s not infallible. And there is no objective reading of the Quran or anything else. All you are doing is adding to the process of stereotyping and scapegoating muslims according to your fixed version of what islam is. You’ve given yourself an excuse to stay unreformed and rigid for as long as this fixed prejudice will allow.

    Of course somebody who spews islamophobia wants to dismiss the word itself. It’s so predictable.

    Islam reforms every day. As muslims live their lives, grow to become muslims, and die, the many sub-ideologies covered by the crude over-arching label of “Islam” are themselves reformed. No, the question is not whether islam is reformable – it’s whether you are.

      • exi5tentialist says

        My contribution to stopping the cycle of murder-retaliation-murder is to call out islamphobic stereotyping and anti-muslim bigotry which your piece shows in abundance. You might as well be on Trump’s National Security Council given the clichés you resort to. So if you don’t want to actually answer the points I’ve made in my response that’s up to you, I can’t force you to try to deploy a rational argument. If you take that as me “just having a go at you” then so be it. Your choice.

        • polishsalami says

          There’s footage of the Charlie Hebdo attack that I suggest you watch, if you want to enlighten yourself.

          It shows the two killers firing at a French policeman, who is downed by the exchange, but not killed. The jihadi then runs toward the prostrate man, who pleads: “I’M A MUSLIM! I’M A MUSLIM!” The jihadi simply fires his weapon into policeman’s skull.

          Now, you may come here and tout yourself as a champion of tolerance, but how is that going to help once these people turn their weapons on you? What are you going to say when the gun is pointed in your face?

          • exi5tentialist says

            You believe A SINGLE WORD of those terrorists? Those murderous criminals explain their crimes as “islam” and you take that at face value? You give them more credit that I do. To the point of gullibility I would say.

            I’ll tell you this, and I’ve told those around me, if I’m ever killed in a terrorist attack which has any connection to religion I don’t want it to be used as an excuse to ratchet up bigotry against islam, christianity or any other religion.

            Terrorist murders are indefensible. But anyone who thinks the explanation is “religion” can do one. Life is more complicated than that. I prefer to use my whole brain, not just the bits that respond to simplistic comfort zones.

            • says

              30,602 murderous attacks
              (not counting those before 9/11 and none of the last two days)
              all preceded by “Allahu Akbar!”
              One braincell will suffice.

              • exi5tentialist says

                One braincell will suffice.
                I think we might have found the cause of the problem here.

            • says

              I imagine that most suicide bombers are going to be fairly dedicated to their particular cause. If Jihadists are all lying about that cause being Islam, what is it instead? And what does lying accomplish here?

              My contribution to stopping the cycle of murder-retaliation-murder is to call out islamphobic stereotyping and anti-muslim bigotry

              Do you see Islamophobia as the root of Islamic violence? Will ISIS stop throwing gay people off of buildings if you tell them that Muslims are nice?

              • exi5tentialist says

                “Lying” implies that the “liar” is cognisant of their lie. Which makes you another person who gives undue credit to a vile murderous terrorist.

                Part of the value of western academic analysis is its ability to see below the headline and below the surface. But for some reason it’s considered acceptable to suspend this process when it comes to Islam. Suddenly, all western imperialism and economic warfare can be forgotten because now, islamophobia is o.k.

                What is the point of you suggestion that I’m going to tell ISIS that “Muslims are nice”. You have no respect for your own powers of reason if you resort to such kindergarten methods of argument.

                • says

                  You’re not making sense. If terrorists aren’t lying when they say they’re being motivated by Islam, then they’re being motivated by Islam. Holy shit dude.

                  You can’t hold the position that we shouldn’t trust what the terrorists profess their motivation to be while simultaneously holding the position that they aren’t actively lying about their motivation.

                  • exi5tentialist says

                    You can’t hold the position that we shouldn’t trust what the terrorists profess their motivation to be while simultaneously holding the position that they aren’t actively lying about their motivation.
                    Well, yes you can. Lying isn’t necessarily the cause of people saying wrong things. Just as religion isn’t necessarily the cause of terrorists murdering people.

                    Did you read what I said? You gotta look at the bigger picture. Geopolitics, economics, the modern history of war. You’ve really got to look at the whole range of things that cause violence in an increasingly violent middle east. Just to alight on one thing – religion – is to, I would say deliberately, ignore the evidence.

                    It’s sometimes said that we don’t use nine tenths of our brains. In some cases, I think this is a choice.

                    • says

                      Lying isn’t necessarily the cause of people saying wrong things.

                      Oh my god, we’re discussing MOTIVATION, not the truth of religion. Obviously Islam is factually wrong. But that simply doesn’t factor into whether or not terrorists are being MOTIVATED by Islam. It is possible to be motivated by an ideology which is not based in truth.

                      Geopolitics, economics, the modern history of war.

                      Yes, and the size of the human amygdala probably has something to do with it. This is obfuscation. The primary motivation for Islamic terrorism, is, big surprise, Islam.

                      an increasingly violent middle east.

                      Islamic terrorism isn’t confined to the Middle East nor to people born in the Middle East. Which undermines, at least a little bit, your idea that this is based on geopolitics and economics.

                    • exi5tentialist says

                      But that simply doesn’t factor into whether or not terrorists are being MOTIVATED by Islam. It is possible to be motivated by an ideology which is not based in truth.
                      Yeah it’s possible to say you are motivated by islam to kill. But it’s not possible to stop people reading other motives into your actions. Motives like your father or mother being killed by a US attack, motives like your children dying because the west has cut off medical supplies to the war zone. Oh, you hadn’t taken things like that into account? Doesn’t surprise me.

                      Islamic terrorism isn’t confined to the Middle East nor to people born in the Middle East.
                      Oh really? I never knew.

                      Which undermines, at least a little bit, your idea that this is based on geopolitics and economics.
                      Which little bit is that? How little is little? So little as to be non-existent I suspect.

                      Geopolitics = bombs. Economics = poverty. Not that I would expect you to understand any nuances other than, “It’s the Quran what did it.”

                    • says

                      Motives like your father or mother being killed by a US attack, motives like your children dying because the west has cut off medical supplies to the war zone.

                      Did that happen to any of the 9/11 hijackers?
                      What about to the Nice attacker?
                      Paris?
                      Orlando?
                      Anywhere?

                      I’m genuinely curious. Can you find me an instance of a major Islamic terrorist attack in which the attacker had family members which were killed by the US?

                      Geopolitics = bombs. Economics = poverty.

                      And yet there are terrorists from places which have never been bombed by the US. There are terrorists who aren’t poor, and there’s actually data which debunks a poverty-terrorism connection.

                      http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0090718

    • says

      With all due respect, you are missing the point. As one famous atheist said, “It’s not a phobia if you know why you don’t like something.” If you had actually read the Qur’an, you would oppose the pernicious ideology contained within it with every decent bone in your body.

      Islam means literally, “Cowering in abject terror”. Men cowering in abject terror before God, women cowering in abject terror before men, and non-Muslims cowering in abject terror before Muslims.

      The Qur’an calls for war against anyone who is not a Muslim — including anyone who interprets the Qur’an as not calling for war against non-Muslims. They might tolerate small groups of “Gentlemen of the Book” — Christians and Jews — living in ghettos with restricted rights. If anyone is being un-Islamic, it is the moderates who are ignoring the less-palatable parts of the Qur’an that call for the violent destruction or subjugation of non-Muslims.

      Meanwhile, the message, “God is pissed off at the decadent behaviour of non-believers, drinking, having non-procreative sex and treating women like human beings, and he wants you to help Him stop it all!” gets peddled to suggestible young people, who switch off their brains and lap it up.

      Islam is a highly prescriptive, toxic ideology that manages to mix religion and politics, and the world would be an objectively better place if nobody followed it. Now, just to make this as clear as I can, I (and I presume, Anjuli) am not calling for individual Muslim to be harmed. But belief in the Qur’an, and its capricious, bullying, misogynistic psychopath of a God, needs to be eradicated. It helps nobody, and harms too many to be useful. The values that all religions hold in common with atheism are human values, and can be derived from first principles.

      How actually to bring about the end of Islam is the £64 000 question. There are some addictive drugs whose mechanism of dependence is such that sudden discontinuation of use can actually be harmful or even fatal. Just expecting people to stop believing in Islam, when their neighbours are commanded to kill apostates, almost certainly is not going to work …..

      • exi5tentialist says

        The sights atheists citing scripture at other atheists is one of the most pathetic manifestations of modern atheists. Here’s an idea. Rather than reading the Quran, why don’t you just bin it, and stop demanding that other people read it in order to be proper atheists? Because the way you are acting sounds more like a religious fanatic than an atheist.

        Scripture plays no part in my life because IT IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS. That means it is not worth ramming it down anybody else’s throat, or, to put it more politely, dismissing somebody’s viewpoint if they haven’t read your chosen scripture. Also if you could avoid stereotyping young people as “suggestible” that would help in the process. What a cliché!

        Islam is not one “highly prescriptive, toxic ideology.” Islam is many ideologies: some toxic, some benign, some boring, some can’t-be-bothered-to-even-go-to-mosque-and-pray. The “highly toxic ideology” is one version that you have invented for the delectation and delight of your inner phobic. There are others.

        As I have said above, I do not put any value on the Quran. Every text is subject to the human and existential freedom of the readers to read, not read, selectively read, project invented meanings onto, interpret, misinterpret, assign different metaphors to or none at all. To seek to eradicate “belief in the Quran” is dehumanize everybody, muslims and non-muslims alike. Human beings are not computers: we do not follow binary instructions line by line. And the Quran is not a computer program. Brains are involved. It is brains that invent the billion responses to the Quran which is really just a dead text with no meaning.

        And please, stop using genocidal vocabulary about muslims. “Eradicated” “end of Islam”. It’s murderous language. Stop it. You know who it encourages.

        • says

          As I have said above, I do not put any value on the Quran.

          Jesus Christ. Do you understand that other viewpoints outside of your own exist? Yes, atheists like yourself generally don’t place any value in the Qur’an. On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a Muslim who would describe the Qur’an as worthless.

          You don’t get to dismiss the relevancy of the Qur’an in the Muslim world just because you, an individual outside of the Muslim world, don’t find it relevant in your day to day life.

          • exi5tentialist says

            “Jesus Christ.”
            Which side are you on again?

            “Do you understand that other viewpoints outside of your own exist?
            I mean, come on Jessie Foster. You are arguing like an 8 year old.

            On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a Muslim who would describe the Qur’an as worthless.
            Oh, now we come on to the complicated issue of viewpoints that I agree with and those that I disagree with. If a muslim says the Quran is “worth” living a life of dignity and devotion to the divine then that’s not a view I’m going to take issue with. If a muslim says the Quran is “worth” blowing somebody to bits then I’m not going to start trying to persuade them to put another variety of worth on it. I’m going to say, I disagree with that, as do you. So I don’t really see what point you’re making with this sentence.

            You don’t get to dismiss the relevancy of the Qur’an in the Muslim world
            What relevancy? It’s a holy book that muslims revere. But “the Muslim world” don’t all go around blowing up buildings and using the Quran to justify themselves. This is where your, “It’s in the book” argument falls down. Living people make islam, not dead text.

            just because you, an individual outside of the Muslim world, don’t find it relevant in your day to day life.
            Oh well if you’re giving the orders, it’s just as well that’s not the basis on which I dismiss your excessive attention a 1300-year-old artefact. I’d hate to fall foul of your authoriteh.

            • says

              But “the Muslim world” don’t all go around blowing up buildings and using the Quran to justify themselves.

              Yes, NOT ALL. Glad we can agree on the fact that billions of people aren’t all blowing themselves up. Brilliant.

              That doesn’t make the problem of the disturbingly high levels of support for terrorism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, etc any less of an issue within the Muslim community.

        • says

          Scripture plays no part in my life because IT IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS. That means it is not worth ramming it down anybody else’s throat, or, to put it more politely, dismissing somebody’s viewpoint if they haven’t read your chosen scripture.

          Well, bully for you. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who do place a value on scripture, including (especially?) the bits that say you and I deserve to be killed.

          Also if you could avoid stereotyping young people as “suggestible” that would help in the process. What a cliché!

          Some young people — by no means all, but still enough — are suggestible enough to fall for a Svengali-like figure offering them a simple solution to all their problems; and that, in combination with a lack of appreciation of their own destructibility, makes them positively dangerous.

          Islam is many ideologies: some toxic, some benign, some boring, some can’t-be-bothered-to-even-go-to-mosque-and-pray. The “highly toxic ideology” is one version that you have invented for the delectation and delight of your inner phobic.

          No. Islam is what the Qur’an commands, and outlaws any compromise: it insists that it is the Word of God, absolute and immutable. What you mean is there are many individuals who follow more or less diluted versions of Islam but hold common human values in higher regard than some of the requirements of Scripture which conflict with them. They are all de jure Muslims, even if they are de facto agnostics. And the ones who fail publicly and loudly to condemn the book which orders these atrocities, are acting as enablers for those who commit them.

          And again, it’s not a phobia if you know why you don’t like something.

          And please, stop using genocidal vocabulary about muslims. “Eradicated” “end of Islam”. It’s murderous language. Stop it. You know who it encourages.

          Did you miss the first bit in bold (I missed out a forward slash …..) where I specifically said I was not calling for any individual to be harmed? How would you prefer for me to phrase the belief that Nobody should believe a word of the Qur’an, to any extent at all? Genuinely curious, I relish an opportunity to improve my communication skills. If I can state my case convincingly enough without unintentionally inciting acts of violence against individual Muslims, so much the better. Or I could simply declare their twisted misinterpretations of my words to be none of my business, just as you seem to have declared the verses of Scripture which, if interpreted literally, call for your head and mine on plates to be none of your business. But if you do have a less bloodthirsty-sounding phrasing which still does not descend into weasel words, I am all ears. I would rather not take the gamble over being responsible, however indirectly, for actual harm to individuals.

          I would probably actually settle just for nobody believing the Qur’an literally, with sufficient fervour as to be prepared to make the Ultimate Sacrifice in service of Allah by interpreting literally the bits about killing people who do not believe what you believe.

          • exi5tentialist says

            There is no such thing as “literally”. This hurdle is too high for you to jump. My arguments are lost on you.

            So carry on with your eradication plan. Your reassurance that no muslim will be harmed fills me with such confidence in these Tomohawk-filled, muslim-banning, muslim-bashing days.

            • says

              But there is such a thing as “literally”. Or are you dismissing it as coincidence when people who call themselves Muslims kill people for whose death the Qur’an calls? You cannot deny the correlation, and there is nothing wrong with hypothesising a causal link faute de mieux and in the absence of evidence to the contrary (especially if that is the first thing you start looking for).

              Looking at the bigger picture, our leaders have undeniably been royally f**king over the Middle East for years, and it is understandable that people are going to be p***ed off. And if you took away the Qur’an altogether, some of them undoubtedly would find a new justification for their actions — not that that means we should not try anyway. Sorting out the mess that has been made on our behalf probably is going to take years, but we cannot expect to be able to get away with mistreating people forever.

            • scoobie says

              exi5tentialist: “My arguments are lost on you. ”
              You must get that a lot…

                • says

                  Block me? Yeah, why don’t you just do that? Make this easier on both of us. Fuck off, you islamophobic twit.

                  For someone so keen to be blocked and,

                  I’m not wasting time on you.

                  determined not to waste time lurking on an Islamophobic blog from which you’d long ago already taken your leave,

                  Bye bye, you reactionary bastards

                  it seems you just can’t keep away. Is this a cry for help?

        • says

          Scripture plays no part in my life because IT IS COMPLETELY WORTHLESS.

          This is most unfortunate, and not only because you make this judgement without knowing what it actually contains, an ignorance that you trumpet as a virtue. It is also unfortunate because you are dismissing scripture as an important repository of a great deal of creative expression — the time of their writing more than likely the highest form of creative expression. Even the Qur’an has its virtues. If you’d ever been to Taraweeh and heard the incredibly moving way in which it is recited, you’d have to be a machine to dismiss it as “completely worthless”. If you don’t find the pantheon of the Mahabharata an incredible feat of creativity, then that’s very sad. All the world’s creation myths, whether captured in scriptures or not, attest to our intelligence, not to our stupidity. It is childish to go on a rant about it all being “lies”. Religious people, people who believe, dismiss one another’s scriptures as lies. Atheists accept all scriptures as truths, not for the stories they tell, but for their telling those stories. We understand why we tell ourselves such stories at a certain point in our development. None of this has any bearing whatsoever on someone reading something in scripture and then going out and acting on it. In most cases, such acting is harmless. In the case of the Qur’an…

          • exi5tentialist says

            Well beauty, as you know, exists only in the neurological activity of the beholder. In the case of the Quran people’s actions come from the same place. So stop talking shit and come back to the 21st century, you idiot.

    • exi5tentialist says

      That’s terrible. Just like Trump escalating the war in Syria and May supporting the Saudi war in Yemen are terrible.

      People kill people for a variety of reasons. If you don’t trace the sources through economic imperialism and geopolitical revolution and counter-revolution, you might as well just resort to the intellectually easier habit of just blaming religion for it all. And yeah, hatred of islam is an off-the-shelf opportunity for people like you.

  2. polishsalami says

    Another deadly blast in an Egyptian church, but of course it could be a dispute over parking…

    • exi5tentialist says

      Yes, it could be I suppose. That would be another example of an intelligent person suspending their powers of reason, analysis and understanding for the sake of a cheap argument.

      • says

        The difference being that nobody believes that it is a fundamental human right to park your car wherever you like. Not over a fire hydrant, you don’t. Nor so near to an intersection that you force other drivers to take up a dangerous position in the road to get around it.

        Now, in a society where people were sensible and responsible and thoughtful towards others, it’s quite possible that nobody would ever think of parking their car where it would cause inconvenience or danger to others. In a society like that, it might be reasonable to think it O.K. to park your car wherever you like, precisely because nobody was even thinking of abusing it.

        But what if one day, some visitors came to town; and they parked their cars across gates, too near to junctions, over fire hydrants and sewer inspection chambers and in other people’s private spaces that they had paid for? What if new driving schools opened up, teaching seventeen-year-olds that they were free to park their cars wherever they pleased?

        How many people have to be pevented from getting to work for someone parking a car across their driveway, how many collisions need happen because someone was forced into the path of oncoming traffic by a parked car, how many houses have to burn down because the fire brigade were unable to connect their hoses because a car was parked over a hydrant, before anyone decides that maybe people don’t have the right to park their cars anywhere they like after all?

        • exi5tentialist says

          Shouldn’t you be writing to your local paper about this parking problem of yours?

          • says

            *sigh* First a HTML fail, then a car analogy fail. Bed calls, methinks ….. Try again tomorrow.

            Just, please acknowledge that your ability to consider this none of your business is a luxury not bestowed upon everyone. Some people have had it made their business, beyond their control.

            • colinday says

              But it’s not just an analogy. Did Timothy McVeigh have the right to park a fertilizer bomb near an isolated support at a Federal courthouse?

          • says

            Part of the value of western academic analysis is its ability to see below the headline and below the surface.

            Western academic analysis includes such concepts as “argument by assertion”, which we strongly discourage in our students. We also expect them critically examine evidence, rather than dismiss it out of hand, for their analysis to meet Western academic standards. We expect our students, especially postgraduates, to appreciate the distinction between generalisation and abstraction. A student who rants, slurs, insults, etc., gets short shrift, as such behaviour is most decidedly not part of Western academic analysis. A student who avoids a conclusion on the simple grounds that they “don’t believe in it” is not going to impress me at all, not even in their very first essay. But if it were their very first essay, I’d call them in for a chat and see if I can figure out what’s really blocking them from full critical engagement with the question before them, as expected in Western academic analysis. Most times I can help them get more out of their time at university. Occasionally, I cannot, in which case I refer them to their advisors. However, if a student demonstrates some kind of existential crisis, I refer them to a counsellor.

            Having said all that, this is not a Western academic context. It is a blog. The standards include respectful behaviour and free speech. They do not include Western academic requirements, which is why posts such as yours are not blocked. It is up to everyone here to try to elevate your contributions to a more critical discourse, which we all do in our own way, and always respectfully. Sometimes, understandably, one of us might lose our patience.

            • exi5tentialist says

              Oh right – so you’re an academic snob as well as a small-minded islamophobe?

              Block me? Yeah, why don’t you just do that? Make this easier on both of us. Fuck off, you islamophobic twit.

            • exi5tentialist says

              I never wanted to study at Anjuli’s islamophobic university anyway.

              Call that learning? Keep it.

              Bye bye, you reactionary bastards.

                • exi5tentialist says

                  No Anjuli. It’s evidence of somebody “losing patience”, as you put it. It’s evidence of what happens when YOU start talking about blocking people. It’s evidence of me having some common sense, rather than engaging in your elaborate islamophobic arguments for an inordinate length of time, only to be “blocked” when you “lose patience”.

                  You use evidence wrongly, you use your academic position wrongly, you draw conclusions wrongly. And then you clearly have an intention to send your opponents for counselling and then blocking them. And you have the cheek to talk about my “calibre”.

                  I’m not wasting time on you.

                  • says

                    Block me? Yeah, why don’t you just do that? Make this easier on both of us. Fuck off, you islamophobic twit.

                    I suppose it takes one braincell to remember what one has written and another to stick to it. Whether that would be enough to figure out how not to lurk on Islamophobic blogs, well, we’ll just have to see, wouldn’t we.

              • Steersman says

                Re: exi5tentialist 2017-04-10 at 01:31

                I never wanted to study at Anjuli’s islamophobic university anyway. Call that learning? Keep it.

                Bye bye, you reactionary bastards.

                LoL. As he runs off in a huff to stick his head in the sand. Don’t think you know dick-all about islamophobia or about Islam – dangerous misinterpretations, misconceptions, and delusions thereon qualifying as less than nothing. And don’t think you know much about religion, or human nature for that matter.

                But on islamophobia, you might wish to read, if you’re capable of it or willing to do so, a post by “atheist-Muslim”, and Pakistani-Canadian Ali Rizvi in the Huffington Post on The Phobia of Being Called Islamophobic [1]. And on Islam itself, you might read Jerry Coyne’s post on an apparently large percentage of Pakistani and British Muslims calling for the execution of a Christian woman for supposedly blaspheming Islam [2]. And, as a variation on that theme, you could reflect on a similarly edifying case of another mob of Pakistanis braying for the blood of Pakistani atheist Ayaz Nizami [3, 4]. All of which underlines, in flashing red, the observation by ex-Muslim Syrian-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan’s characterization of Islam and a large percentage of Muslims [5]:

                Sultan: When I examined the Koran, the hadith, and the Islamic books under a microscope, I came to the absolute conviction that it is impossible – impossible! – for any human being to read the biography of Muhammad and believe in it, and yet emerge a psychologically and mentally healthy person.

                No doubt such behaviours are not unique to Islam or to Muslims. As Blaise Pascal put it years ago, no doubt as a consequence of seeing the effects of sectarian wars among Christians, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” But the fact of the matter is that Christianity has more or less evolved while Islam remains more or less stuck in the sixth century, largely because of an adherence to a fundamentalist and literalist interpretation of their “holy book” [ha!]. As the late atheist philosopher Anthony Flew put it in his review [6] of Ibn Warraq’s Why I’m Not a Muslim, “Islam is flatly incompatible with the establishment and maintenance of the equal individual rights and liberties of a liberal, democratic, secular state.” For evidence to justify that assertion, among a surfeit of it, you might read the recent post Islam Has Become Toxic in the West [7]. Although it is hardly less toxic in the Middle East or in South Asia.

                —–
                1) “_http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-a-rizvi/the-phobia-of-being-calle_b_5215218.html”;
                2) “_https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/maajid-nawaz-notes-that-moderate-uk-muslims-arent-that-moderate/”;
                3) “_https://twitter.com/aliamjadrizvi/status/845817298308993024”;
                4) “_http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/03/26/with-hangayaznizami-its-clear-the-anti-atheist-sentiment-in-south-asia-is-getting-worse/”;
                5) “_https://www.memri.org/tv/arab-american-psychiatrist-wafa-sultan-blasts-islam-prophet-muhammad-and-sheik-al-qaradhawi-and/transcript”;
                6) “_https://web.archive.org/web/20160529034626/http://www.bharatvani.org/books/tfst/chiv3.htm”;
                7) “_http://quillette.com/2017/04/06/islam-become-toxic-west/”;

                • exi5tentialist says

                  “I might want to read…”

                  Er no, not really.

                  Because I have a different philosophical approach to you islamophobic lot which causes me to filter out arguments about old texts. It saves me a lot of time. I think that no ideology – islam, communism, liberalism, socialism… is anything but the creation of living people making existential choices about their living, breathing lives and thus there are multiple versions of each ideology and all of them are authentic. So in my world, to say that a 1300-year-old text has power over anyone is itself to flee to a sand-filled head-burying hole. In this sense the writings of Darwin, Nietzsche and Marx are as irrelevant to the lives of living human beings as the writings of the Koran and the Bible. They are all dead, gone words.

                  This is a shame for academics who accord ancient markings on a stone or a piece of paper, or even an old film, the same status as the conversations and creations of the living. And if I were somebody who believed that conscious meaning can somehow survive dead generations in the form of artefacts then I would of course join this collective anti-islamic prayer to the past that so many of you are happily engaging in. But I’m not. So I’ll pass.

                  Incidentally, because of these atheistic, materialist views that I keep expressing, I now have an axe held by Anjuli over my metaphorical head in the form of her “block” button, because I’m not making the grade according to her academic snobbery. That kind of annihilating threat tends to make me swear a lot. Sorry, it’s a human frailty I have. Enjoy your taunting, I can take the pain a bit longer.

                  • says

                    And if I were somebody who believed that conscious meaning can somehow survive dead generations in the form of artefacts then I would of course join this collective anti-islamic prayer to the past that so many of you are happily engaging in. But I’m not. So I’ll pass.

                    Is that a promise? Your track record on such undertakings is not very good.

                  • says

                    I’m not making the grade according to her academic snobbery.

                    Ah, it’s the memory thing again. It wasn’t me who invoked:

                    Part of the value of western academic analysis is its ability to see below the headline and below the surface.

                    It was you. Moreover, you did it to put down someone who was engaging you in good faith.

                    BTW, this one is not a taunt, but it’s still enjoyable.

                  • says

                    I can take the pain a bit longer.

                    And after all that you’re claiming victim status? What you need, my friend, is a safe space. Try one of those apologist echo chambers.

                  • Steersman says

                    Re: exi5tentialist 2017-04-16 at 10:23

                    “I might want to read…”

                    Er no, not really.

                    Because I have a different philosophical approach to you islamophobic lot which causes me to filter out arguments about old texts. It saves me a lot of time.

                    Shorter exi5tentialist: “Don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up.” Not much less dogmatic and narrow-minded than the most fundamentalist Christian or Muslim.

                    exi5tentialist: I think that no ideology – islam, communism, liberalism, socialism… is anything but the creation of living people making existential choices about their living, breathing lives and thus there are multiple versions of each ideology and all of them are authentic.

                    “Authentic”, eh? Looks like postmodernist bafflegab, like “sophistry and illusion” (“to the flames”). No doubt phlogiston and geocentrism and the flat-earth “theories” were “authentic” too, but they are clearly wrong and not borne out by facts and further evidence. Likewise with many ideologies and religions of various stripes – some are more credible than others and more likely to have a greater correspondence to “the Truth”; need to separate the wheat from the chaff – to coin a phrase. You might reflect on Carl Sagan’s aphorism from his Broca’s Brain (pg xii):

                    Sagan: Both borderline science and many religions are motivated in part by a serious concern about the nature of the universe and our role in it, and for this reason merit our consideration and regard. …. But both in borderline science and in organized religion there is much that is specious or dangerous. While the practitioners of such doctrines often wish there were no criticisms to which they are expected to reply, skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense. I hope my critical remarks in these pages will be recognized as constructive in intent. The well-meaning contention that all ideas have equal merit seems to me little different from the disastrous contention that no ideas have any merit.

                    The fact of the matter is that rather odious artefacts “survive dead generations” and have profoundly problematic consequences for the living. Although there are many beneficial ones too. But, case in point relative to the former, as I noted elsewhere here, something from the Muslim Student Association [MSA] of York University in Canada on Sharia and Islam:

                    MSA: The MSA will organize events in accordance with the Shari’ah. Any innovations in religious matters or “modernisation” will not be acceptable, as Islam is a way of life for all times and places and hence is not subject to being outdated or needing reform.

                    Still think the Quran and the delusions of the Prophet (piss be upon him) “are all dead, gone words”?

                    exi5tentialist: Enjoy your taunting, I can take the pain a bit longer.

                    Such commendable fortitude in the face of such odious and soul-destroying adversity. But “no pain, no gain”. Or maybe you think you have nothing more to learn, that there is nothing more that anyone, particularly here, can teach you?

  3. Holms says

    Anjuli, the mistake I see you making is that you appear to be buying the religious text about itself: you are agreeing with the common religious claim to immutability. Hence you are forgetting that all religious tenets are subject to interpretation, and yes I do mean all. Any component of the holy book can be rationalised away as ‘merely a metaphor’ or similar.

    All religions are subject to interpretation, because all religions are followed by… humans.

    Note that this does not stop people taking the more awful parts of the text as literal, binding law, what it means is that no religious tenet is locked in this state. Just look at any peaceful muslim, and you will see a person ignoring / rationalising away the calls for conquering non-muslims. Hell, look at the muslim dominated nations for this; you will see change in religious interpretation as it relates to law over time.

    To put it another way, your claims at the top of your post – Islam is the final religion, God’s word may not be challenged, muslims must kill all that seek to change the Koran – are themselves interpretations of the text; interpretations that not all muslims share. To hold those to be ‘true’ Islam is to undermine the efforts of those that truly are engaged in reforming / moderating Islam, and worse, plays directly into the hands of those that wish to exterminate muslims.

    polishsalami
    There’s footage of the Charlie Hebdo attack that I suggest you watch, if you want to enlighten yourself.

    It shows the two killers firing at a French policeman, who is downed by the exchange, but not killed. The jihadi then runs toward the prostrate man, who pleads: “I’M A MUSLIM! I’M A MUSLIM!” The jihadi simply fires his weapon into policeman’s skull.

    Now, you may come here and tout yourself as a champion of tolerance, but how is that going to help once these people turn their weapons on you? What are you going to say when the gun is pointed in your face?

    Do you similarly condemn other religions by the actions of an individual? I’m sure there are loads of modern murders in which christians killed begging and pleading christians in cold blood, but you don’t bother idicting the religion on that basis.

    But even if we set aside your obvious anti-Islam animus, all you prove with that post is that that particular person was a vile animal; it has no bearing on the larger point of the OP regarding whether Islam is irreformable.

    bluerizlagirl
    [Religion] is a highly prescriptive, toxic ideology that manages to mix religion and politics, and the world would be an objectively better place if nobody followed it. Now, just to make this as clear as I can, I (and I presume, Anjuli) am not calling for individual [followers of Religion] to be harmed. But belief in the [holy book of Religion], and its capricious, bullying, misogynistic psychopath of a God, needs to be eradicated. It helps nobody, and harms too many to be useful. The values that all religions hold in common with atheism are human values, and can be derived from first principles.

    bluerizlagirl, you are a marvel. You appear to be genuinely unaware of how amazingly applicable the above passage is to christianity. Or are you the one person on the planet that has never heard of it? That’s so precious!

    • Steersman says

      Re: Holms 2017-04-15 at 20:05

      Holms: Anjuli, the mistake I see you making is that you appear to be buying the religious text about itself: you are agreeing with the common religious claim to immutability. ….

      All religions are subject to interpretation, because all religions are followed by… humans.

      Note that this does not stop people taking the more awful parts of the text as literal, binding law, what it means is that no religious tenet is locked in this state.

      Don’t see that Anjuli is actually agreeing that religious texts are “immutable”, only observing and commenting on the fact that most Muslims insist that they are immutable based on the texts themselves. You might note this assertion [1] in the Constitution of the Muslim Student Association [MSA] of York University in Canada on Sharia and Islam:

      MSA: The MSA will organize events in accordance with the Shari’ah. Any innovations in religious matters or “modernisation” will not be acceptable, as Islam is a way of life for all times and places and hence is not subject to being outdated or needing reform.

      Does that look much like “mutability” to you? And that is the assertion of supposedly westernized Muslims, not the total whack-jobs typical of Pakistan [2, 3, 4] and elsewhere [5] – who, not surprisingly, assert pretty much the same thing.

      Sure, we may see those human created texts as “subject to interpretation … followed by … humans”, but the fact of the matter is that large percentages of Muslims worldwide see the Quran as entirely the literal word of “Gawd Himself” [6, 7], and not at all, in the slightest detail, open to the least bit of “innovation” or “moderization”.

      Really don’t think you know much about Islam, or the psychology that motivates most Muslims; to correct that profound if not dangerous ignorance, you might wish to read in some detail the links I’ve provided in this comment, and in my earlier one here (@ 2017-04-10 at 17:45). But those are the facts on the ground that the West has to confront – and soon; the hour is getting late.

      —-
      1) “_http://yorkmsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/final_constitution-2.pdf”;
      2) “_https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/maajid-nawaz-notes-that-moderate-uk-muslims-arent-that-moderate/”;
      3) “_http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/01/islamicide-how-the-mullah-mafia-is-destroying-pakistan.html”;
      4) “_https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/opinion/blog/the-need-for-a-stronger-blasphemy-law/”;
      5) “_https://www.memri.org/tv/arab-american-psychiatrist-wafa-sultan-blasts-islam-prophet-muhammad-and-sheik-al-qaradhawi-and”;
      6) “_http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/interrogation/2016/08/shadi_hamid_on_islamic_exceptionalism.html”;
      7) “_https://www.facebook.com/simi.rahman/posts/10153153879381302”;

    • says

      Anjuli, the mistake I see you making is that you appear to be buying the religious text about itself…

      Since we are in the business of the fine interpretation of texts, and I am being challenged on it, let me just try to clarify something. Are you saying that in order for me to avoid the mistake of “appear[ing] to be buying the religious text about itself,” I should simply buy the religious text, or should I not buy the religious text? I know that either way, I would avoid appearing to be doing something that I may not actually be doing. Or, do you mean to say, “the mistake you appear to be making…” If the latter, then I have no problem with it as I’m always happy to be corrected, but if someone is going to challenge me on the interpretation of texts, and at the same time leaves no room for interpretation, then I feel compelled to point that out.

      Now to the substance. You presume to lecture me that, “All religions are subject to interpretation, because all religions are followed by… humans.” It might also help to actually read my own texts. This is what I said here:

      I’m not against people coming up with different ways of practising Islam. However, Islam is. No matter who practises Islam in what way, the Qur’an is very clear that it is fixed for all time and not to be doubted. Its future-proofing is its command to those who do not deviate that they kill all who do. Other religions might have fundamentalists spouting fire and brimstone verses and what not, but their scriptures do not have a built-in self-preservation mechanism. The Qur’an has. So feel free to reform Islam anyway you like, just pray that there are no true Muslims about.

      and this is what I said here:

      The Qur’an does not stand to Islam as the Bible stands to Christianity. While the Bible relies on commandments, the Qur’an relies on controls, in particular future-proofing. The very first claim it makes about itself is: “This is the book about which there is not doubt,” (2:2). After that it is well-peppered with very precise directives on exactly how cruelly believers are to ensure that doubters and non-believers are killed, tortured, maimed or enslaved. And just to be sure, Muhammad, close to his death, instructed Muslims to follow the Qur’an and the example of his own life. “1.6 billion relatively-innocent fellow humans,” revere a killing manual and the example of a brutal, illiterate, seventh century desert warlord of how to implement that manual plus feel themselves superior for doing so. That they don’t all act on it is what we should be grateful for.

      I would very much like to see other interpretations of, “This is the book about which there is not doubt,” for when you say, “Note that this does not stop people taking the more awful parts of the text as literal, binding law, what it means is that no religious tenet is locked in this state,” I am forced to wonder whether you are familiar with the Qur’an at all. Dispel my worry, please, and show us a list of interpretations of “This is the book about which there is not doubt.” If you did not have such a list, you would not be so emphatic as to insist:

      Hence you are forgetting that all religious tenets are subject to interpretation, and yes I do mean all.

      I’m sorry, but such assertions, no matter how emphatic, will simply not do for those engaged in the serious business of actually understanding Islam.

      Just look at any peaceful muslim, and you will see a person ignoring / rationalising away the calls for conquering non-muslims.

      This is, quite frankly, insulting. You are talking to an ex-Muslim. Do you have any idea what that means? But more, yes, “ignoring / rationalising away” the exhortations to kill, kill, kill, is the only way Muslims can live civilly and at the same time adhere to Islam. In other words, most peaceful Muslims are either ignorant of the Qur’an, or they are hypocrites. They do not interpret the text. Those who do attempt interpretation are those schooled in critical thought, viz., Western Muslims, who, despite their best efforts, consistently fail to sanitise or humanise their scripture. They invariably end up making laughing stocks of themselves. When I say that Islam is irreformable, it is not a glib, superior assertion such as, “you are forgetting that all religious tenets are subject to interpretation, and yes I do mean all.” I have very good grounds for saying what I say.

      I hope that we can look forward to your showing us the actual texts of Islam and how they may be differently interpreted and securely acted upon. I should like to leave you with something I’d said here:

      there is something about the way Muhammad laid down the ideological foundations of his geopolitical project, and about the way his immediate followers completed those ideological foundations, that are not only quite different to other projects of that kind preceding it, but that it had perfected its built-in self-preservation mechanism: absolute obedience; fear of both what happens in life and what happens in death; brutal violence at every turn; a fatalism that removes all decisions from you, and yet at the same time makes you fully responsible for everything you do; compels you to rid the world of anyone who isn’t of you; compels you to love none other than god and his messenger; compels you to police all your co-religionists, and, the coup de grâce, it is the final religion and compels you to kill anyone who changes the foundation text or deviates from it. There is a reason it endured for 1400 years despite its incompatibility with every society it came into contact with – it could do nothing but violently subjugate them all. A more complete imperialism has yet to be devised. Muslims are faced with a stark choice, either lie to yourself or become ISIS. Over 1400 years, from time to time, someone got tired of lying.

      The first of these was none other that Muhammad’s scribe himself, who on occasion thought, no way, I’m not writing that down, and wrote down something more palatable. Another was his wife, Aisha, who remarked how conveniently timed and worded Allah’s revelations were. But those were before the killer line, “This is the book about which there is not doubt,” got added.

      I really welcome being challenged and I’ve learned a great deal from people like Alan Flynn, Polishsalami, Lurker, EveryZig, Adam Zain, Steersman and others. But if, straight off the bat, you are going to be snarky with people before they’ve even had a chance to respond to you, such as you do with bluerizlagirl, then you’ve already undermined whatever you have to say, even if it did have substance. So now I’m challenging you to put some substance behind your assertions.

      To hold those [words in the Qur’an] to be ‘true’ Islam is to undermine the efforts of those that truly are engaged in reforming / moderating Islam, and worse, plays directly into the hands of those that wish to exterminate Muslims.

      This is tantamount to saying: (i) the Qur’an is not Islam; (ii) reforming or moderating Islam must proceed from ignorance; (iii) we must fight bigotry with ignorance; and (iv) the actions of bigots should set the limits for what truths we seek. Well done.

    • says

      Why should it be a problem that my description of one religion also happens to fit another? Unless you think I am defending Christianity; in which case, please allow me to disabuse you of that notion at once.

    • polishsalami says

      You seem to think I’m soft on religions other than Islam. Where did you get that idea?

  4. exi5tentialist says

    I hope that we can look forward to your showing us the actual texts of Islam and how they may be differently interpreted and securely acted upon

    May I start with Quran (5:33)?

    “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement”

    Different ways of responding to this.

    Moderate Imam: “It is quite shocking to see how many Islam-haters will place this verse under the heading of “inciting Muslims to kill and wage war”, whereas the verse commands nothing of this sort! In fact, it comes directly after a verse prohibiting murder and likening the unjust murder of a single individual to the slaughter of humanity.”

    Sllightly repressed english-speaking Muslim: “I’ll recite it aimlessly when I’m required to but I can’t really see how I’m supposed to apply this when I’m shopping for vegetables in Tesco. ”

    Violent nihilist: “I can use this text to justify my violent nihilism which unbeknownst to me arises either from a history of economic deprivation or some other cause of alienation which can only be understood by assessing my individual circumstances. I’ll ignore the non-violent and forgiving parts of the Koran which by rights I ought to be giving equal status to, and I’ll claim it as my jihad as a muslim. Death to the infidels! Now, where’s my suicide vest?”

    ISIS member: “Western bombs killed my parents. I was 12. Now I’m 22, I want to see westerners dead. Koran or no Koran.”

    Phenomenological materialist: “By 1,200 years ago the originator of this text, its transcriber, the first people that recited it and the first people that heard it are all dead. Their consciousness has died, and since meaning can only exist in living consciousness, its original meaning has disappeared. Therefore any meaning we ascribe to it now, whether we choose to see it as “interpretation” or “projection”, is ours, and ours alone. Whether I look at this from the point of view of a moderate muslim, a violent nihilist, an existentialist, an anti-Western soldier or an islamophobe is entirely under my control. In the final analysis the responsibility for that decision is mine.”

    Islamophobic ex-muslim: “See how the islamists are compelled by the Koran to act in a violent way in contravention of the peaceful lives we who have left islam now lead! How can anyone read these words and say they are not a call to arms against the “infidels”? Look at 9/11, 7/7, Paris, Boston, Dortmund… Are you denying that these words and similar passages don’t CAUSE them? Apologist!!! I’ll block you if this nonsense carries on!”

    You pays your money, you takes your choice. Then you live with the consequences.

    • says

      Different ways of responding to this.

      Sure. But can we get started on the interpretations now?

      Not that I’m trying to make you stick around against your will, you understand.

    • colinday says

      I have issues with the phenomenological materialist. Can meaning be retained by sharing it with others? In such a case, the Qur’an lives. If not, is Newton’s Principia dead? If meaning can only reside in persons, how does language work?

  5. exi5tentialist says

    Sure. But can we get started on the interpretations now?
    We both choose our words carefully, obviously. Let us consider the proposition, “there can be no interpretations of the Quran. There can only possibly be responses”.

    Accepting that there is such a thing as an “interpretation” of the Quran is to presuppose that it has a meaning to interpret. Now read the “phenomenological materialist” response above (by all means choose an alternative – serious – label if you prefer) which opposes the idea that the Quran even has an intrinsic meaning. To demand “interpretations” is to shoe-horn your ideology – that it does – into the debate. This is why you behave as dismissively as you do. Anybody who does not accept your premise is an apologist, a denier of evidence, a troublemaker or a retrograde.

    Now don’t worry Anjuli, I’m here because it’s the least boring thing I’m choosing to do this Sunday afternoon. The responsibility for my well-being is mine, of course. Which is why I’m not going to devote a lot of time to engaging with your arguments. It was you, after all, who first raised the prospect of “blocking”. With that axe (metaphorical, not literal, of course) over me, I would be foolish to invest too much in your blog, which is not very original and only provides various islamophobic rationalizations that are, in fact, rather old hat. I was just hoping, because I like a challenge, that I could get an entrenched islamophobe to consider an alternative point of view without resorting to all the usual sanctions. We shall see.

  6. says

    If you are going to reject part of the Qur’an (as you must, in order to live a good life) then why not simply reject the whole Qur’an?

    What is wrong with living by common human values, that are independent of the existence of a God?

    • exi5tentialist says

      What is wrong with living by common human values…?
      Because no such values exist. People are individuals and react uniquely to unique circumstances. Nobody has the answers. Not the Koran, not Humanism, not “Common Human Values”. Nothing. Only the individual can decide.

      • says

        Of course common human values exist!

        If you take a Muslim, a Jew, a Roman Catholic, a Protestant, a Baha’i, a Hindu, any more I can’t think of right now and an atheist, and ask them all to write down two lists of the most important “Do”s and “Don’t”s respectively for living a good life, you will find some of the same things written down by everyone, irrespective of their religious beliefs (or not). That is what I am referring to as “common human values”.

        Such values also can be determined formally from first principles.

        • exi5tentialist says

          All you’re describing is an opinion poll and then you’re plonking the word “common” onto the biggest percentage of responses around each point. Why use the word “common” rather than “popular” or “majority”. These nuances make a differences to accuracy, and allow for the legitimacy of dissent.

          When it comes to “values”, it is preferable to treat every person as an individual. By all means do your little straw poll, but the moment you say this or that majority have “common” values is the moment you stray from accuracy to hyperbole.

      • colinday says

        Only the individual can decide.

        And if some individuals choose to criticize Islam?

  7. exi5tentialist says

    @Steersman “And that is the assertion of supposedly westernized Muslims, not the total whack-jobs typical of Pakistan [2, 3, 4] and elsewhere [5]”
    I’m sorry but that is really racist. Pakistanis have long been the victims of racism in the West particularly Britain. To describe the typical muslim of Pakistan as a “whack-job” is absolutely appalling. Is this sort of nationality-baiting acceptable round here? Yes, you cite three very authoritarian media, but authoritarianism is a predominant force over the population in Pakistan and it does not express itself solely through the mechanisms of either the government or religion. Especially under the recent military dictatorship, Pakistan is a prime example of the way an authoritarian government can co-opt a religion and then mould it into a tool of authoritarianism to subdue potentially resistant masses for secular and class purposes. What we need to do in the case of Pakistan is not focus solely on the religion – which is, as I have repeatedly argued, a manifestation of human consciousness moulded and exercised solely through the power structures of living human beings – but to look at the underlying reasons why Pakistan repeatedly resorts to authoritarian methods of governance both of a secular and religious nature. Let’s therefore discuss class structures in Pakistan and their effect on perpetuating poverty, holding down public spending, stifling the education system, preventing dissent against the economic and social order, and generally promoting conflict between and among Pakistan’s working class rather than satisfying ourselves with these vile racist side-swipes at the muslim population of Pakistan.

      • exi5tentialist says

        What happened? Capitalism, class war, imposed poverty, military dictatorship, Western regional destabilization. Oh, you want me to say “islam”. Yes, islamophobes always do.

        • says

          Clearly, you have no intention of engaging with anyone here. You are here to tie us down. Go wank off someplace else, you troll.

          • Steersman says

            Anjuli @ 2017-04-17 at 09:15: Yea, time and a place for everything, and a blog engaged in a discussion of “serious business” ain’t it. Exi5tentialist seems to be kind of a gutless wonder as he clearly refuses to honestly address any of the facts put on the table by you and I and many others here – almost as narrow-minded and as dogmatic as the worst Christian or Muslim fundamentalist. Generally the problem of being willing and able to address preconceptions and pre-judgements, AKA prejudices, although I’ll concede that is not an easy thing to do – almost like cutting the ground out from under one’s own shoes.

            In any case, to kill the proverbial two birds with one stone, I kind of like and quite agree with your “future-proofing” phrase – quite apt and entirely cogent, rather like Simi Rahman’s “logical dilemma at the core of Islam” [1]. I find both somewhat analogous to the phrase “hermetically sealed” – (many) Muslim minds (generally) locked down tight and impervious to any and all modernization and outside influences.

            And apropos of that, you might like a recent case, a story in Gulf News titled “PhD thesis: The earth is flat” [2] which seems to buttress the argument of Ofek on Arab Science that we’ve discussed in another post. Hope eventually to comment on the article you linked to [3] that gave a different perspective on that. But while there is probably some justification for it, and there’s some value in the history of Arabic thought, I kind of get the impression, supported by some of the comments, that the author (Asad Ahmed) is engaged in some special pleading, in at least an understandable effort to salvage what he could of Islam. For instance, he says:

            If the narrative presented by my co-panelist … is correct and explains anything at all, then the current state of rationalist disciplines in the Islamic world is the direct result of the attitudes of mainstream Islam toward reason and rationality; and if this is true, then I would advise Muslims to abandon their religion. For in my view, no religion that suppresses this primary, essential, and defining faculty of humans can be true.

            While he is certainly to be commended for his cleaving to “rationality” as the “defining faculty of humans”, one might be forgiven for thinking that his entire oeuvre is designed to ensure that Muslims are not obliged “to abandon their religion”. But further reading, reflection, and thought required. 🙂

            —-
            1) “_http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2015/12/moderate-muslims-have-hit-their-wall/”;
            2) “_http://m.gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/phd-thesis-the-earth-is-flat-1.2009202”;
            3) “_https://www.opendemocracy.net/openindia/asad-q-ahmed/islam%E2%80%99s-invented-golden-age”;

            • says

              I’m sorry for the delayed publication of your comment. Something similar happened to comments the last time I had to take the drastic action of putting some poor soul out of his misery.

              Apropos of Asad Ahmed, I agree with your take, but it’s also a perspective that I’ve never considered. His thesis interests me particularly because what he’s saying, in effect, is the Ibn Rushd had misunderstood Al-Ghazali. He’s going to have to be some seriously smart dude to prove that. Personally, I think Ibn Rushd was pretty clear that no religion can be true. He just couldn’t be explicit about it — Islam’s Galileo, if you like. Just staying at the level of metaphysics for a moment, if something is true, then there is no need to believe in it. The very fact that it requires belief is proof that it isn’t true. I think Ahmed is on a loser here, but he still packs a pretty solid punch and is well worth reading. But it is weird to see a serious twenty-first century commentator subscribe to the notion of true and false religions. It’s something one would expect from nut-jobs.

              Thanks for your kind compliment on “future-proof”. Most people simply don’t get this; they don’t understand that the Qur’an is future-proof, or, put differently, they have no mechanism with which to process the concept. A contemporary analogue might be a tamper-proof bomb: any attempt to diffuse it will trigger it. The obvious answer to that is to put as much distance as possible between you and that bomb. You most certainly do not let it be brought into your house, even if the carrier gives you every assurance that he has no intention of triggering it.

              • Steersman says

                Anjuli; 2017-04-19 at 06:50

                Anjuli: I’m sorry for the delayed publication of your comment. …

                No problemo; thanks for posting it – you might reasonably have decided not to since I took a shot at Exi5tentialist in passing.

                Anjuli: Apropos of Asad Ahmed, I agree with your take …. His thesis interests me particularly because what he’s saying, in effect, is [that] Ibn Rushd had misunderstood Al-Ghazali.

                I have run across both Al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd – probably while reading Irshad Manji’s The Trouble With Islam Today which was kind of my entrée into the whole issue of Islam and the problems it entails for far too many. Although I’m not familiar enough with their perspectives to know why Ahmed would apparently argue that the latter had misunderstood the former. But a quick skim of Wikipedia articles on both justifies concluding that Ib Rushd was the far more credible person, and who is largely consistent with what is essentially Western science. A salient quote from the article [1] on him:

                Ibn Rushd was a defender of Aristotelian philosophy against Ash’ari theologians led by Al-Ghazali. Although highly regarded as a legal scholar of the Maliki school of Islamic law, Ibn Rushd’s philosophical ideas were considered controversial in Ash’arite Muslim circles.[8] Whereas al-Ghazali believed that any individual act of a natural phenomenon occurred only because God willed it to happen, Ibn Rushd insisted phenomena followed natural laws that God created.

                Hard not to see that dichotomy, that difference in the views of al-Ghazali and Ibn Rushd on the causes for “natural phenomena”, as the watershed that motivated profound differences in the evolution of Islamic “science” and the western version. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article [2] on al-Ghazali emphasizes the point:

                Others have cited [al-Ghazali’s] opposition to certain strands of Islamic philosophy as a detriment to Islamic scientific progress, although he argued for the separation of philosophy and science.

                Seems to cover fairly well his modern-day proponent, Asad Ahmed. 🙂 But I’ll concede he does make some interesting if astoundingly wrong-headed arguments. For instance, I think his arguments about the limited margins of printed texts being a cause for the sad state of Islamic science sure looks to be like grabbing at straws. And while he’s to be commended for arguing that “scientific demonstrations” should outweigh a hadith, I kind of get the impression that he wouldn’t accept that principle when it comes to the Quran itself.

                However, while I tend to agree with your apparent or suggested characterization of him as a “nut-job”, and while I certainly wouldn’t call Islam a “true religion”, I’m not entirely sure that that is an entirely invalid or empty concept. No doubt all of the many anthropomorphic gods that have come down the pike over the last 100,000 years or so have more or less turned out to be duds, but it seems that there are other concepts that seem like they might hold a bit more water or have some utility. For instance, Dawkins in his The God Delusion, said (pg 41) rather pointedly and amusingly if somewhat peevishly:

                The metaphorical or pantheistic God of the physicists is light years away from the interventionist, miracle-wreaking, thought-reading, sin-punishing, prayer-answering God of the Bible, of priests, mullahs and rabbis, and of ordinary language. Deliberately to confuse the two is, in my opinion, an act of intellectual high treason.

                And it seems to me that many atheists, particularly the strong variety [3], are guilty of that, of refusing to consider other aspects of the issue – if you’re not familiar with term you might take a look at the article on panentheism [4] which is, I think, probably more appropriate than Dawkins’ “pantheism”; of some note is the fact that there is a thread of that in most major religions including Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity, and even Islam. I periodically hope that such common elements might be a path for all or most religions to get off the dime of insisting that only theirs is based on “The One True God!11!”, and to find a common way forward.

                But, in any case, while I’ll readily concede also that your assertion that “[if] it requires belief [then that] is proof that it isn’t true” is an important point of reference to keep in mind, one might argue or suggest that that may not be entirely true, at least in all cases. There’s an interesting passage in a book – The Human Use of Human Beings [5] – by Norbert Wiener, one of the progenitors of the science of cybernetics – from the Greek κυβερνήτης (kybernētēs) “steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder” 🙂 – that discusses the somewhat analogous case of intuition (pg 10):

                This occurred long after Gibbs’ death, and his work remained for two decades one of those mysteries of science which work even though it seems that they ought not to work. Many men have had intuitions well ahead of their time; and this is not least true in mathematical physics.

                Seems rather clear, although many of the details and ramifications are well outside my salary range, that there are many things that might well be true even if it may be difficult or impossible to actually prove the case, and that there’s some value in proceeding as if they were true. Although that does suggest the frequently subtle difference between advancing a hypothesis and insisting that it is gospel truth – a difference that many of the religious are all too quick to elide or sweep under the rug; devils and details and all that.

                Anjuli: Thanks for your kind compliment on “future-proof”.

                De nada – it’s a felicitous and succinct phrase or metaphor that captures the temporal aspect of the issue that isn’t immediately evident in either Rahman’s “logical dilemma” or my “hermetically sealed”. You of course know of Wafa Sultan – I hope eventually to read her The God Who Hates based on your discussions here – but you may not have run across the MEMRI TV YouTube video [6] of hers that underlines that point. While I find the video a bit hoky as it lays on some heavy reverb that I doubt is part of her speaking voice, I think she pretty much nails the crux of the matter, that Islam and the Muslim world are largely if not entirely still mired in the worst of the sixth century; from their transcript:

                The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages [being charitable] and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

                “Amen” to that. And really don’t think that people like Asad Ahmed are doing much if anything to rectify that problematic state of affairs.

                But interesting topics, I find anyway – further thought and reflection required; sorry if I’ve taken up too much of your time or blog on some pretty tentative conjectures and musings. 🙂

                —–
                1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Averroes”;
                2) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ghazali”;
                3) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism”;
                4) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism”;
                5) “_http://asounder.org/resources/weiner_humanuse.pdf”;
                6) “_https://www.memri.org/tv/arab-american-psychiatrist-wafa-sultan-there-no-clash-civilizations-clash-between-mentality”;

                • says

                  Just two quick comments on [6]:

                  1. I am so relieved to see an ex-Muslim directly criticising Muslims and defy anyone to call her an anti-Muslim bigot. I agree with everything she says, except for her unqualified eulogy to Jewish behaviour, although her basic point is correct. I was brought up a Muslim and attended madrassa from about seven till my early twenties. My family are all Muslim, and until I last had contact with them, were all peaceful Muslims. I have no idea what to expect, should I ever make contact with them again. But Muslims, the people who profess allegiance to the Qur’an and Muhammad, themselves have a great deal to answer for. I know that as well as Wafa Sultan does, as do many others. I will not allow non-Muslim prissiness about hurting Muslims’ feeling restrain me from saying what needs to be said. Muslims are long overdue for some very harsh and fully-justified criticism and I reject utterly any attempt to silence or intimidate me, whether by name-calling or other means. Like Wafa, I have lived that life. If it comes down to it, I am more entitled to criticise Muslims than non-Muslims are entitled to defend them.

                  2. The weird thing about that video is that it sounds exactly like a khutbah – especially the repetitious formulations, the cadence and the echo! Apparently that cut no ice with God’s spokesman.

                  • Steersman says

                    Re: Anjuli 2017-04-22 at 00:00

                    Anjuli: Just two quick comments on [6]: ….

                    I agree with everything she says, except for her unqualified eulogy to Jewish behaviour, although her basic point is correct.

                    Yea. She does maybe have a too rosy view on the contributions of Jews to the evolution and progress of Western civilization, such as it is. Although there is maybe some justification for it – think I mentioned before that Jews have garnered some 20% of all Nobel prizes [1] despite being only some 0.2% of the world’s population. Probably a complex of factors involved, many related to the Diaspora and the self-imposed ghettoization attendant on calling themselves “God’s Chosen People” – which has had many problematic consequences for them. But they may have also led to an increase in the prevalence of desireable traits and values.

                    Anjuli: My family are all Muslim, and until I last had contact with them, were all peaceful Muslims. I have no idea what to expect, should I ever make contact with them again.

                    Sorry to hear that to break free of Islam you apparently had to leave your family behind – the relationships can be “problematic” but also a source of comfort and support. As the late American humorist Erma Bombeck put it some years ago in a book of the same title, “Family: The Ties That Bind – And Gag”. 🙂

                    But glad to hear that you did break free of Islam; as I’ve periodically argued, I think there is some value in religion, at least in its non-literalist or metaphorical incarnations, but Islam seems a remarkably literalist and odious one – a crippling and corruption of the mind and soul, of the entire moral sense. You might enjoy or sympathize with the observation [2] of another ex-Muslim, Sarah Haider:

                    Haider: The world immediately felt like a bigger and more beautiful place when I decided not to believe in islam anymore.

                    Can well imagine that to have been pretty much an epiphany, a “road to Damascus” moment of enlightenment.

                    Anjuli: But Muslims, the people who profess allegiance to the Qur’an and Muhammad, themselves have a great deal to answer for. … I will not allow non-Muslim prissiness about hurting Muslims’ feeling restrain me from saying what needs to be said.

                    Indeed. And more power to you. And to the many ex-Muslims in particular who “sound the alarums” – obviously takes some commendable courage and tenacity.

                    ——–
                    1) “_https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_Nobel_laureates”;
                    2) “_https://twitter.com/ExMuslimTV/status/823175844105486336”;

                    • says

                      She does maybe have a too rosy view on the contributions of Jews to the evolution and progress of Western civilization, such as it is. Although there is maybe some justification for it – think I mentioned before that Jews have garnered some 20% of all Nobel prizes

                      I’m sorry. I should’ve been clearer. I agree with the assessment of the disproportionately large contribution of Jews to the advancement of science and the disproportionately small contribution of Muslims to that same advancement (the evidence is clear). I was referring to her “no single Jew has ever…” or words to that effect, while thinking of the bulldozing of houses and olive trees, the blocking up of aquifers, the bombing of civilians, etc. (To Zionist trolls who may be reading this, acknowledging such conduct does not equate to a denial of anything, so save your “what about…” rages for another place).

                      Re my family, more alarming for me is what has happened to my friends from high school and early university.

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