Skip to content

Responding To: Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Abandoned To Fanatics

October 12, 2007
by

To the Rushdies and Hirsi Alis out there: 

I wonder why you allow the word Muslim to precede humanist.  I mean afterall, according to you Islam is Muslim and Muslims are Islam.  Just as Hitler’s followers never asked the Jews if they believed in God or not, if the time comes to exterminate Islam no one will ask you if you believe or not.  I know .. I watched through the media the attempted genocide against my own people a large majority of whom had considered themselves atheist.  No one stopped to ask them if they were Muslims or Atheists before raping our women, before bombing our towns, before cutting off our limbs, before slitting our throats .. all they looked at was our names.  We wanted a democracy and what we got instead was a slaughtering.

From your article:

As you read this, Ayaan Hirsi Ali sits in a safe house with armed men guarding her door. She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today, and for this she is despised in Muslim communities throughout the world. The details of her story bear repeating, as they illustrate how poorly equipped we are to deal with the threat of Muslim extremism in the West.

No, Mr. Rushdie, we do not despise her nor do we despise you.  However, I must ask you how you come to the conclusion that she is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today?  How can you say that after she has made these statements:

In a “no-holds-barred polemic” interview in the London Evening Standard,[51] Hirsi Ali characterises Islam as “the new fascism”. “Just like Nazism started with Hitler’s vision, the Islamic vision is a caliphate—a society ruled by Sharia law—in which women who have sex before marriage are stoned to death, homosexuals are beaten, and apostates like me are killed. Sharia law is as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism.” In this interview, she also made it clear that in her opinion it is not “a fringe group of radical Muslims who’ve hijacked Islam and that the majority of Muslims are moderate. [...] Violence is inherent in Islam—it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder.”

Where in those statements lies the freedom of conscience?  Does she even have a conscience is the question I have to ask.  Where is the compassion?

Where Mr. Rushdie is your conscience when you make statements of the Muslim population as a whole, attributing all Muslims to extremism:

The reaction from the Muslim community was nothing short of psychopathic, and it confirmed the necessity of Hirsi Ali’s work and the reasonableness of her fears. Van Gogh, having declined bodyguards of his own, was gunned down and nearly decapitated on an Amsterdam street, and a letter threatening Hirsi Ali was staked to his chest with a butcher knife.

I suppose that Hirsi Ali’s fears are reasonable but Muslim fears have no justifications.  I must not be reasonable in fearing those out there that call for bombing Mecca or exterminating Islam.  I must not fear the statements of so called Muslim Humanists in the world today – no, that can’t be fear it – must be despise.  I must not have any justification for my fears not even after what has happened to my own family and friends in Europe as the whole world watched.  No .. my fears have no bearing because, afterall, I am only a Muslim and my goal is the complete subjagation of women and mankind.  In the end they will know my Muslimness through my name, through the color of my skin, through the way I dress, through my cultural preferences.  And I will not matter to anyone as you have made my goals and intentions clear without ever having taken the time to distinguish between a fanatic and a Muslim.  

No, Mr. Rushdie and Ms. Hirsi Ali, still we do not despise you, oh yes maybe one or two of us do, but most of us know that to despise you would to be just like you.  To be infected with the disease of all knowing would be a blasphemy and as such we find the utmost comfort in allowing Allah to be your judge in the after life.  Where lies the harm in that Mr. Rushdie and Ms. Ali?  As at least one of you is an atheist, I would imagine that you would feel as though you have the last laugh.

Yes my Muslim humanist friends, so many of us Muslims do stand up for free speech but what we also stand up for is the truth.  To defend free speech without defending the truth without calling you out on your inconsistencies and spins would be a hypocricy.  So Mr. Sam Harris and Mr. Rushdie, when you wrote this:

Hirsi Ali first fled to the Netherlands as a refugee from Somalia in 1992 after declining to submit to a forced marriage to a man she did not know. Once there, in hiding from her family, she began working as a cleaning lady. But this cleaning lady spoke Somali, Arabic, Amharic, Swahili, English and was quickly learning Dutch, so she soon found work as a translator for other Somali refugees, many of whom, like herself, were casualties of Islam. These women had been abused, mutilated, denied medical care and proper educations and forced into lives of sexual subjection and compulsory childbearing.

After attending the University of Leiden, Hirsi Ali began speaking publicly about the repression of women under Islam, and shortly thereafter she started receiving death threats from local Muslims. Her security situation eventually became so dire that she moved to the U.S. in 2002. However, she was soon contacted by Gerrit Zalm, then deputy prime minister of the Netherlands, who urged her to run for parliament. When Hirsi Ali voiced her security concerns, Zalm assured her that she would be given diplomatic protection wherever and whenever she needed it. She returned to the Netherlands with this assurance, won a seat in parliament and became a tireless advocate for women, for civil society and for reason.

The rest of her story is well known. In 2004, Hirsi Ali collaborated with Theo van Gogh on the film “Submission,” which examined the link between Islamic law and the suffering of millions of women under Islam. The reaction from the Muslim community was nothing short of psychopathic, and it confirmed the necessity of Hirsi Ali’s work and the reasonableness of her fears. Van Gogh, having declined bodyguards of his own, was gunned down and nearly decapitated on an Amsterdam street, and a letter threatening Hirsi Ali was staked to his chest with a butcher knife.

Hirsi Ali was immediately forced into hiding and moved from safe house to safe house, sometimes more than once a day, for months. Eventually, her security concerns drove her from the Netherlands altogether. She returned to the U.S., and the Dutch government has been paying for her protection here — that is, until it suddenly announced last week that it would no longer protect her outside the Netherlands, thereby advertising her vulnerability to the world.

I have to ask why you left out that Hirsi Ali had also left parliament before leaving for the United States in her latest travel to the US.   I have to ask why you left out the Dutch government allready granting Hirsi Ali two extensions on the security services that they were paying for?

Would you, Mr. Rushdie, really rather that everyone continue to believe that she was a Dutch diplomat that should have her security paid for under these circumstances rather than just tell us all the truth?  Would you rather not speak of the Netherlands paying for her security for a year as she stayed outside of the country .. an action that is outside of Dutch law?   I guess it is better to write articles titled Hirsi Ali: Abandoned to Fanatics rather than explain that she still has security as long as she remains in the Netherlands.

I guess you must have overlooked the fact that it was reported that she would be taking this job in the United States just one day before in Hirsi Ali’s own words she resigned from parliament because:

“To return to the present day, may I say that it is difficult to live with so many threats on your life and such a level of police protection. It is difficult to work as a parliamentarian if you have nowhere to live. All that is difficult, but not impossible. It has become impossible since last night, when Minister Verdonk informed me that she would strip me of my Dutch citizenship. “

Apparently it is not of importance that she continued doing things, by her own admission, under durress so as not to have complications over her pending visa request to enter the United States for employment.  Of course it is also of no relevance that Hirsi Ali has resorted to so many lies and deceptions for the good of herself mankind that we should just look over all of these little irrelevancies that have played out over the years and instead we should blame the governments of the western world of being tolerant towards intolerance.  We should just allow Islamophobia to grow until one day you, Hirsi Ali and I are standing next to each other – each facing the barrel of a gun for being Muslim.

In the end I will not have have been an accomplice to my own death.  I will at least have that consolation.  I will die a Muslim .. a traditional, practicing, human rights advocating Muslim.  I still will have stood next to you with no despise.  What is it that the two of you would have died for?

66 Comments leave one →
  1. salahudin permalink
    October 13, 2007 8:05 am

    decent post… don’t agree with everything you said though, but i like it. i’d get a little off the high horse though.

  2. October 13, 2007 6:35 pm

    doh

    so sorry – do you have a ladder I could borrow?

  3. salahudin permalink
    October 13, 2007 7:32 pm

    not one that tall… !!! :P

    j/king

  4. awake permalink
    October 14, 2007 2:21 am

    Samaha,

    Greetings, and peace to your kindered soul. Salahudin made some valid points to your post, of which I read in it’s enirety, links and all, in my estimation.

    I for the most part, like what salahudin has to say, even if the recognition is not reciprocal.

    I look forward to hearing more from you, sincerely.

    Regards,

    awake

  5. salahudin permalink
    October 14, 2007 2:42 am

    yeah the feeling isn’t mutual here, awake… but give it time and we’ll be on good terms again – human nature. :)

  6. Sam permalink
    October 14, 2007 6:53 am

    I just chanced upon your blog and thought I’d write out a couple of lines. It was a little tough to get the gist of what you are trying to say here with all the hyperbole thrown in.

    If the point you wished to make was that it isn’t a big deal that Hirsi Ali was denied protection abroad, it would be easier to divine if you would make it directly. It is understandable that the Netherlands doesn’t want to support personal protection in foreign lands and that is enough to say. Your emotional jibes carry no significance and merely weaken your argument.

    “I suppose that Hirsi Ali’s fears are reasonable but Muslim fears have no justifications.”

    Most people would wish to address both fears, instead of trying to superimpose one over the other. Your “supposition” is quite senseless. It has the reek of propaganda.

    Ex-Muslims would know ‘Muslim fears’ as well as you do. And opposing Islam doesn’t mean exterminating Muslims. The best strategy to undermine Islam is to help Muslims realize their incoherence in following a medieval sand nomad’s preachings. Ideological decimation is enough to consign it to history.

    I do know that it is extremely tough for most Muslims to realize that ‘against Islam’ doesn’t mean ‘against Muslims’. Try to see the difference between opposing an ideology and opposing individuals.

    That said, an overwhelming proportion of the Islamic community has become immune to any untoward events committed by the black sheep in its midst. The fanatics breed a bigoted persecution mania in the masses by stoking (often imaginary) fears with virulent anti-infidel propaganda and use the ideological momentum generated by its masses to browbeat those that highlight the threat to civilization from radical Islam. Your post exemplifies this fear creation. The biggest threat to Muslims today are Muslims themselves.

    Fear is the key and fundamentalist Islamists have used it effectively to channel Muslim fury against what is the biggest threat to Islam – Freedom of speech.

    Step out of your Islamic-ghetto. Embrace humanity and it shall embrace you. Your whole post reeks of an ‘us vs. them’ mentality which is contemptible. And then you complain that people don’t empathize with you. The world will be as you perceive it to be.

    Now, were I to choose the path of the bigot, my whole post would have dwelt upon how every major Islamic country has ruthlessly persecuted its minorities. All of them have an overwhelmingly Muslim populace with the percentage of minorities shrinking every passing year in most of them. Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Turkey.. But I don’t want to go down that path, so I’ll wrap that up as a small mirror for you to look at.

    Seek yourself before you seek others. What do you see?

  7. salahudin permalink
    October 14, 2007 4:07 pm

    “Most people would wish to address both fears, instead of trying to superimpose one over the other. Your “supposition” is quite senseless. It has the reek of propaganda.”

    ?

    your denial’s “propaganda”.

    “I do know that it is extremely tough for most Muslims to realize that ‘against Islam’ doesn’t mean ‘against Muslims’. Try to see the difference between opposing an ideology and opposing individuals.”

    that’s very narrow minded and cultural-centric of you. islam is the literal WAY OF LIVING for muslims… if you oppose their “way of life” and you think that’s okay, then the ayatollah nutcases are also justified in being opposed to the west’s values of freedom and human rights!

    it’s not so simple as being against an ideology and then you expect people to be okay with it… you’re making the HUGE mistake of thinking muslims wouldn’t feel persecuted and threatened if you threaten their RELIGION… it’s not a political ideology that you can oppose and everyone’s going to have to tolerate it… stop treating islam like it’s a political movement…

    go ahead and be against religion’s involvement in politics and hence you can be against islamists/islamofascists all you want… but being “anti-islam” is being islamophobic.

  8. Sam permalink
    October 14, 2007 4:56 pm

    “your denial’s “propaganda”.”

    Read this again:
    “Most people would wish to address both fears, instead of trying to superimpose one over the other”.

    Denial? You seem to have fallen out with trying to comprehend what others mean to say and taken it upon yourself to associate with their words a non-existent meaning.

    Both fears, those of the Muslims and those of the non-Muslims, are equally important and have to be quelled. Every human deserves to live as they should live freely in peace and every human has a duty to ensure that he/she affords the same to everyone else. Being Muslim or non-Muslim doesn’t change that.

    “if you oppose their “way of life” and you think that’s okay, then the ayatollah nutcases are also justified in being opposed to the west’s values of freedom and human rights!”

    Your definition of “opposition” doesn’t match with the sentiment of my earlier post. Ideological opposition is perfectly valid and it is a very essential part of democracy and society. Democrats oppose Republicans. There are Communists and Theocrats etc etc. And of course we have the Islamists.

    Freedom includes the freedom to “peacefully” oppose ideologies with intellectual debate. I am against the use of physical force by anyone.

    The Ayatollahs/Islamists are free to oppose freedom and human rights. But they are not free to terrorize and coerce others into doing so by using force and fear. If they merely consigned their sphere of influence to the realm of debate, I’d invite em over for a talk myself. But they use fear, coercion and brainwashing which is where they are wrong.

    “stop treating islam like it’s a political movement…”

    It is a socio-politico-millitary-religious ideology to the third party. Nothing more, nothing less. Just because a lot of Muslims hold it dearer to themselves than most else, doesn’t mean it can’t be dissociated. In fact, any opposition to Islam that doesn’t infringe upon the rights of Muslims “requires” the dissociation of Islam from the Muslims.

    In the same vein, there were plenty of Communists, Anarchists, Monarchists, Theocrats etc who held their ideologies above their lives. Liberal Democracy successfully handled most of those in the past by proving to them that it alone affords everyone freedom, peace and prosperity.

    Islam is a new vista. Its falsity makes it easier to decimate as an ideology while the numerical strength, ignorance, propaganda, bigotry and hypocrisy of its fundamentalists (who form a rather large portion of the whole) makes it hard to work on.

    Once the mental barriers to free thought are removed in the minds of the Muslim masses, Islam will implode. No one has to do anything other than facilitate free speech and thought.

    We don’t need either jihad or wars by the non-Muslim world.

    “but being “anti-islam” is being islamophobic”

    Being ‘Islamophobic’ means to fear Islam. Most people use the term ‘islamophobic’ to refer to anti-Muslim sentiments. Define what it means to you before using it. While some people might fear Islam, it is a term widely misused by people bereft of rationality who don’t have any meaningful argument to make.

    Using needless qualifiers amounts to ad-Hominem. It undermines your credibility and makes conversations less meaningful.

    Given your active Towelian efforts to help people out of Islam, you’d be islamophobic according to your own definition. You can’t say you don’t oppose Islam when you work against it directly.

    Being anti-Islam means exactly what it states, being against Islam. It doesn’t mean being ‘anti-Muslim’. And the distinction is very strong despite what you might state about Muslims’ way of life etc. Your annotations are useless and self-deprecatory.

    You also might consider replying to people’s posts in their entirety, instead of picking and choosing. It makes your stand clearer.

  9. October 14, 2007 6:23 pm

    Sam – I think you need to take a good look at the rest of my blog – go to my Tag cloud and just hit Islam and get a good long hard look at what comes up.

    This is a response to Salman Rushdie and Sam Harris’s internationally well publicized article. You ask of me to acknowledge both sides but that is the WHOLE point of my response. It is intentionally one sided: You have Rushdie’s and Harris’s one sided argument and now you have mine. Ask of them that which you ask of me and maybe you can escape your hypocricy. My response tackles both their own fear mongering and the misconceptions within their own article.

    As for the rest of your comments – I’ll be back to disect them after the weekend.

  10. Sam permalink
    October 14, 2007 8:13 pm

    Dear Samaha,

    You seem to share a bit with most of the people on the internet, specifically, a very reactive presumptuous approach to debate that emphasizes the use of personal attacks and minimizes rational argument.

    “You ask of me to acknowledge both sides but that is the WHOLE point of my response. It is intentionally one sided: You have Rushdie’s and Harris’s one sided argument and now you have mine. Ask of them that which you ask of me and maybe you can escape your hypocricy.”

    Again, the ‘us vs. them’ philosophy. If I didn’t know better, I would be wont to term it an Islamic tradition. If you wish to be taken seriously, I would suggest you base your arguments/responses on objective grounds that are independent of the opinions of others.

    Thanks for highlighting my ‘hypocrisy’. The fact that I refuted Rushdie and Harris’ argument in this very thread demonstrates your perceptual impediment and obtuse reactivity.

    In case you missed it, here it is: “It is understandable that the Netherlands doesn’t want to support personal protection in foreign lands and that is enough to say.”

    While I don’t judge people based upon their actions, others certainly might. I would suggest choosing your words wisely should you wish to escape the annotation of a bigot.
    Cheers,
    Sam

  11. Sam permalink
    October 14, 2007 8:19 pm

    Just an addendum. I’m sorry but I don’t have enough time to go through your whole blog. And I’m sure most people who chance across individual threads usually don’t have the time to do so either.

    Your words here are what I shall base my responses on. Articles should be self sufficient or they should specifically cite others that they depend upon. :-)

  12. Sam permalink
    October 14, 2007 10:35 pm

    Samaha- Another couple of lines. I did spend some time on your blog (I must be crazy spending so much time on this). Your posts are commendable and it seems that your use of irrational hyperbole is confined to this thread.

    I do appreciate your general drift but I must admit, I find the pervasive sentiment of ‘us vs. them’ rather… Umm… Well not very concerting to say the least.

    Anyway. Its your life. Live it as you wish!

  13. cottonbud permalink
    October 15, 2007 1:17 pm

    Samaha,

    we’ve been reading and posting together comments on Ali’s blogs way too many times for you not to know by now I’m no Islamophobic. Even NOT siding with Sam here, I feel I must point out that it is not normal, in the XXI-st century, to be in need of protection for simply voicing one’s thoughts. Today’s Islam counts one too many hotheads, enough for a regular Joe to ask himself questions. These might be too broad, choking too many people under the same, undeserved label. Still, the phenomenon of religious hatred exists. Yes, it is not the sole property Islam, granted; but, taking into account the number of persons and actions that go beyond limits (whatever those limits might be in the common conscience) and that pretend to speak and act for Islam, compared to those same persons/actions pretending to speak/act for any other religious system, you might admit that “something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, to quote Old Will.

    I’ve been in your position many times. We, Romanians, aren’t really welcome in parts of Europe (say, Italy, most recently) because our “ambassadors” are, first and foremost, our criminals. We struggle to change this perception (just as you struggle to change the perception about Islam), but it’s not THEIR fault – it’s ours. Until we can safely and permanently dispose of our criminals, we can’t blame the Italians for wanting us all out of Italy – after all, all they’ve seen of Romania were gangs, shootings, lootings, thievery and Gypsy families. Can you blame them? I cannot, though I’m discriminated against. I think – and act this way – that before any improvement arises, we must clean our garden first.

  14. October 15, 2007 4:24 pm

    I loved your post :) There are many crazies in the world that would harm Ms. Hersi Ali. political cartoonists, Mr. Rushdie, etc, for voicing their opinions. It is a sad reality and politics and fanaticism, which takes it upon itself to judge, when all judgment belongs to Allah.

    Ya Haqq!

    PS I have a short ladder for a small horse :) I use it often myself. hehe

  15. Peter H permalink
    October 17, 2007 1:50 am

    I find it impossible to see how one can wage an ideological war against Islam and not wage a similar war against Muslims. Perhaps it’s possible to wage to make that distinction, but in practice, I don’t see how one can attack Islam as incurably evil, violent, & totalitarian and still respect people who hold Islamic beliefs.

    And, by the way, Hirsi Ali does advocate military action against Islam. See her recent interview with Reason:
    ______
    Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

    Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

    Reason: Militarily?

    Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

  16. October 17, 2007 4:59 pm

    Sam – first I’m going to say that I’m glad that you took the opportunity to aquaint yourself with the rest of my blog.

    I’m assuming that I do not need to further defend myself to your remarks of this post reeking with propoganda. I’m also assuming that your question as to the point of this post is also resolved.

    I will start with this:

    “Ex-Muslims would know ‘Muslim fears’ as well as you do.”

    However, human nature would cause us to focus on the immediate danger and understandably in both Rushdie’s and Hirsi’s case that danger is fanatics. Unfortunately another human trait is exploited through these cases and that trait is sympathy. It keeps us from calling out the inconsistencies, misrepresentations and hypocricies of it all.

    While you have disagreed with Rushdie in terms of the Netherland’s position on Hirsi’s security what you have in your comments indirectly continued to do is defend their fear mongering of Islam. I’m not sure if you realize this or not but you yourself have continued this “us vs. them” philosophy that you are so keen on blaming me for:

    “The best strategy to undermine Islam is to help Muslims realize their incoherence in following a medieval sand nomad’s preachings. Ideological decimation is enough to consign it to history.”

    Sam, the thing is that I know Islam. I know it for a beautiful religion. I know it as a humane, tolerant, non-violent religion. I know it for supporting gender equality. I know it as a religion competely capable of supporting democracy. This is Islam – this is the Islam of the majority of Muslims. Is this the Islam that you wish to undermine?

    Our goals as human beings regardless of our faith or non-faith should be to fight for gender equality, human rights and democracy. We should have a common goal of humanity and that is not what I am seeing when I read statements of undermining Islam. Sam – that’s about as likely to happen as Ann Coulter’s dream of a Christian America. Instead of concentrating on demonizing Islam I am asking of us to turn to Islam for the solutions.

    Which is more likely to make an impact in the Muslim world – these publicized statements by Egypt’s Top Cleric:

    ““I have always maintained the legitimacy of this freedom and I continue to do so,” he said.

    “I discussed the fact that throughout history, the worldly punishment for apostasy in Islam has been applied only to those who, in addition to their apostasy, actively engaged in the subversion of society,” the grand mufti added.

    Gomaa basically clarified that Muslims have the freedom to convert to other faiths, but that it is considered a sin to renounce Islam. He also noted that apostates should not be given worldly punishment so long as they do not endanger society.”

    Or Javed Ahmed Ghamidi’s scholarly opinions – and I urge you to take a look at one of Pakistan’s leading scholars views: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javed_Ahmed_Ghamidi

    Or Ayan Hirsi Ali:

    “Hirsi Ali characterises Islam as “the new fascism”. “Just like Nazism started with Hitler’s vision, the Islamic vision is a caliphate—a society ruled by Sharia law—in which women who have sex before marriage are stoned to death, homosexuals are beaten, and apostates like me are killed. Sharia law is as inimical to liberal democracy as Nazism.” In this interview, she also made it clear that in her opinion it is not “a fringe group of radical Muslims who’ve hijacked Islam and that the majority of Muslims are moderate. […] Violence is inherent in Islam—it’s a destructive, nihilistic cult of death. It legitimates murder.”

    You asked of me to embrace humanity and that it will embrace me – now I am asking the same of you knowing full well that you are capable of it.

    “Fear is the key and fundamentalist Islamists have used it effectively to channel Muslim fury against what is the biggest threat to Islam – Freedom of speech.”

    I would have to differ on this. Yes, we can use the fatwas against the Rushdie’s and Ali’s out there and we can even look at what happened in the situation of the cartoons. However .. please take a stroll down my blogroll and introduce yourself to the many many Muslims who do support free-speech. Please take the time to inform yourself just what struggles are taking place within Pakistan, within Iran, within Saudia Arabia that are challenging their governments for change and know that within the heart of every struggle for change there is a struggle for free speech. You can not just write off the majority of Muslims as being opposed to free speech due to a few fatwas against a few people and in those cases you do not see the masses running to murder. Even in the case of the cartoons Sam, had it been peaceful protests – I would have chalked it up to freedom of speech/expression as we can not just defend the origination of debate with freedom of speech we must as well defend the rebutals however there is absolutely no excuse for the deaths that occured and the burning of structures I do see it as what it was – mass rioting. But lets not forget that this behavior isn’t even limited to the Muslim world. Let’s not forget the LA riots and for heaven’s sake lets not forget that we riot and cause damage in the United States after having won or lost SPORTS games.

    As for the “us vs. them” mentality. Are you saying that I have no right to defend myself against those that wishes to wage war upon me? You ask too much of my pen.

  17. October 17, 2007 5:19 pm

    Cottonbud – yes we posted for quite a while on Ali’s blog and if you remember I even jumped to the defense of Irshad Manji at State’s of Islam although I think I may have done so in more detail on my own blog. I think you know me well enough to know that I want to see changes.

    However, I live here in the United States and this is my garden as much as Islam is. How can I just focus on extemism within Islam while ignoring other extremism? To me they are one and the same. They are the same disease. To allow this anti-Islamic agenda of to go unchallenged will be a blunt force trauma to any progress that Muslims are trying to make at tackling extremism.

    Irving – thank you! You always know how to cheer me up :-)

    Peter – thank you for that bit of information. I haven’t seen that before.

  18. Sam permalink
    October 21, 2007 7:42 pm

    Peter:
    One must respect the person and their right to hold a belief. This doesn’t apply to the belief itself.

    Samaha:
    As I said before, the point you try to make is drowned by the rest of the post. I doubt many would even notice it. Anyway, there’s no point harping on stuff neither me nor you care about.

    “While you have disagreed with Rushdie in terms of the Netherland’s position on Hirsi’s security what you have in your comments indirectly continued to do is defend their fear mongering of Islam.”

    There is nothing to fear from Islam. It is just another set of illogical, irrational and, quite simply put, provably false set of dogma, myths and rituals. Ideologies don’t hurt people, people who follow them do.

    Many ideologies, not just Islam, irrational as they may be, manage to attract a following of believers blind to reason and rationality. They will continue to do so as long as human beings’ fear of the unknown persists.

    Muslims who interpret Islam literally pose a threat to the civilized world, yes. But they pose a bigger threat to the more rational Muslims. Fearing them will solve nothing. The fundamentalists need to be dealt with in their own realm and steps need to be taken to prevent the moderates from joining the fanatic bandwagon.

    The moderate secular Muslims MUST be free to practice their religion as they wish, so long as they remain moderate and don’t choose to cause wilful harm to anyone else.

    “I’m not sure if you realize this or not but you yourself have continued this “us vs. them” philosophy that you are so keen on blaming me for”

    I support no ‘us vs. them’ in any way. That is your misconception. The fact that Islam and Muslims are two separate sets seems to elude you yet.

    “Sam, the thing is that I know Islam. I know it for a beautiful religion. I know it as a humane, tolerant, non-violent religion. I know it for supporting gender equality. I know it as a religion competely capable of supporting democracy. This is Islam – this is the Islam of the majority of Muslims. Is this the Islam that you wish to undermine?”

    1. That is “YOUR” version of Islam. Before saying anything else, ‘I SUPPORT your version of Islam as against the conventional everyday Islam that most Muslims practice’. It is the last thing I would work to undermine. Were most Muslims like you, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.

    2. The word “majority” means nothing. Even 51% is a majority. And even 1% of the Muslims = 12million. As for your little assertion:

    ~80% of sampled Jordanians express some confidence in OBL. 62% of Pakistan, 62% of Indonesia, 34% of Morocco…. etc etc.

    ~88% of sampled Jordanians express some support for violence against civilians. 58% of Lebanon, 44% of Pakistan, 33% of Indonesia. Even 20% of Turkey – arguably one of the shining examples among the Islamic world….
    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248

    Where some = (often + sometimes + rarely)

    3. Democracy and Islam: Maybe you think it works. To be on the same page, we’re talking “liberal secular democracy”. Not some democracy bound by Islamic Sharia law.
    ~Almost every Islamic country shows the majority support political Islam.
    ~Most Muslims consider themselves Muslim before associating with Nationality.
    ~A lot of them actually sincerely believe that imposing Sharia on non-Muslims is NOT Islamic Extremism. That tickled a rib.
    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=813

    4. Human, tolerant, non-violent: Setting aside the direct meaning of most of the Q which seethes with anti-infidel hatred, we may find a direct measure of Islam’s influence in the actions and sentiments of Muslims.
    ~Looking at how Muslims view other religious groups is a good measure of scoping for their humanity and tolerance.
    ~In general, most sampled Muslims hold unfavorable views about the Jews.
    ~A large chunk of them hold negative opinions of Christians.
    ~Compare that to how Westerners are far less bigoted in general.
    http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=811

    ~Statistically speaking, it is a fact that a massive number of Muslims are fundamentalists. It is highly probable that hundreds of millions are active or latent fanatics. The Pew ratings clearly demonstrate this.

    5. Gender Equality: Verse 4.34 is enough for this issue. If not, one may also remember child marriage, half-inheritance etc… (And the Hadith are around as well)..

    “You can not just write off the majority of Muslims as being opposed to free speech due to a few fatwas against a few people and in those cases you do not see the masses running to murder.”

    In your defence of Islam, the truth seems to have been lost in a swirl of emotion, personal experience and personal affront.

    YOUR version of Islam is clearly NOT the type that most Muslims practice. Please try to dissociate your thoughts from your religion for a moment and look at things from a clear unbiased and objective perspective.

    “Instead of concentrating on demonizing Islam I am asking of us to turn to Islam for the solutions.”

    I’m sorry if me objectively commenting on Islam sounds aggressive to you personally, it is not meant to be. I encourage people to critique and even oppose my ideologies. That is the way of liberal democracy, dissent and free speech.

    While some solutions that might help Muslims in the present day world may be derived for certain issues from Islam, the complete deal is plainly rubbish. It is fundamentally incompatible both, with liberal secular democracy, and with science and the truth.

    REPEAT: No personal offence to you as a Muslim. Feel free to keep following Islam. Just because I concretely assert that it is irrational and false doesn’t mean I have a right to infringe upon your belief in it..

    “Let’s not forget the LA riots and for heaven’s sake lets not forget that we riot and cause damage in the United States after having won or lost SPORTS games.”

    Your argument is, “Because there are some idiots, its ok if people from my community are idiots as well”. Hyperbole doesn’t go down very well with me.

    “As for the “us vs. them” mentality. Are you saying that I have no right to defend myself against those that wishes to wage war upon me? You ask too much of my pen.”

    If you associate yourself with your ideologies to the point where you become blind to the fact that people are not attacking you but your ideology, then you wage war upon yourself.

    As for asking anything of you, I’ll merely say “think about it”. :-)

    Again. I am not hostile towards you or anyone else. If there is any emotion I hold, it is concern and possibly care. Just thought I’d mention that.

    Have a nice day.

  19. dawood permalink
    October 22, 2007 4:41 am

    Haven’t you learned anything from Scott Atran completely owning you and the others in debate? Why cite the Pew-Global report when the conclusions that it draws show conclusively that support for extremism and terrorism/violence has gone down since the last survey a few years ago.? Even in the most ‘hard-line’ countries.

    Has the “Islam-index” gone down all of a sudden or something in all of those countries? I thought it was immutable and unable to change – which is why it is so barbaric?

    Also, I have absolutely no idea how you can generalise about all Muslims – someone with a ‘scientific’ background should know that you cannot generalise about such a diverse group of people who have different life experiences, hopes, aspirations and understandings of the Islamic tradition.

    Quite simply, the anthropological data highlights this exact point, and any recognised authority in the field clearly states this.

    What about extremism and terror related to other ideologies? What about the pogroms and oppression on Burmese performed by those who connect to Buddhism, or even those with non-religious leadings? It is all ideology at the end of the day – especially if you have your view regarding what religion is.

    What about the statistics of non-Muslim communities? Surely any study to show if Islam conclusively brings extremism and violence should take in to account everyone else as well as a benchmark?

    What about the fact that Atran mentions data supporting the fact that the support for suicide-terrorism is generally equal between Palestinian Muslims and Christians? How does this fare regarding the concept of “threat index” and how it relates to prospensity towards violent response?

    Bottom line: This is a complex issue and turning it in to a simple binary calculation doesn’t cut it. This is why we have the humanities at University and not just science. Science can teach us a lot of neat stuff, but humans don’t always act logically or according to pre-set formulae or patterns.

  20. dawood permalink
    October 22, 2007 4:42 am

    oops, the bold didn’t come out properly. :D

  21. dawood permalink
    October 22, 2007 4:46 am

    Concerns over Islamic extremism, extensive in the West even before this month’s terrorist attacks in London, are shared to a considerable degree by the publics in several predominantly Muslim nations surveyed. Nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries. At the same time, most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam.

    From the Pew Global Attitudes Report.

  22. October 22, 2007 7:23 pm

    Sam:

    Seems that Salahudin enjoyed the post enough to link to it. If this creative writting piece could bring around the discussion of what how to approach productive change within all of humanity then its point is now complete as it could not have been without these discussions.

    That being said – I’d like to know what you think about what Hirsi Ali said in her reason interview I’m reposting Peter’s comment for your ease:

    “Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

    Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

    Reason: Militarily?

    Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.”

    Now – just previous to the second question she states that there comes a moment when you have to crush your enemy let’s keep that in mind.

    How do you crush an ideology militarily? You can’t crush an ideolgoy militarily .. you would have to crush its adherents militarily. Do you support Hirsi Ali’s statement in this regard?

    Right now, motherhood calls so I’m going to leave it at this question for now and come back later to address the rest.

  23. Sam permalink
    October 23, 2007 5:05 am

    Dawood:
    First of all dear chap. I’m not hostile to you. I understand you are probably a part of a minority of sane people amongst the fundamentalists on both sides. Crazy people are building what is merely a set of cultural differences into a clash of civilizations and I hope you’re not part of the gang. While I try to dissociate myself from either side, I often find myself face to face with Muslims simply because of the fact that I feel Islam is an anachronism. Dissociate Islam from Muslims and you might see my viewpoint.

    And I’m always open to change, if you have conclusive data to refute what I have come to observe, I’m open to it. This isn’t a fight and I feel everyone should keep an open mind.

    Moving on….

    “Haven’t you learned anything from Scott Atran completely owning you and the others in debate?”

    I take it you’re referring to me. Nope, I haven’t seen Atran’s debate you talk of. And I surely haven’t debated him personally, obviating the possibility of me being “owned”. I have, however, read Atran’s work where he asserts a holistic cultural-social-environmental argument to explain Muslim behaviour and tries to disconnect it from Islam.

    While Atran is a reputable scholar and I agree with a lot of his views, I don’t buy his connection of culture shaping attitudes not religion for it is the religion that has shaped the culture in this case far more than the other way around. Islam is rigid and its core ideologies presented in the Quran are by self-definition immutable. Atran’s work is very important at a practical level but at a conceptual level, I feel there is a strong causal link between the barbarism of the Q and the actions of the fundamentalist Muslims.

    “support for extremism and terrorism/violence has gone down since the last survey a few years ago.? Even in the most ‘hard-line’ countries.”

    And I guess you didn’t so much as care to read my whole post. While it is a good sign these are going down, I am yet to see data to suggests this is a continuous and sustainable trend. Public opinion has ups and downs all the time.

    If you have data over a twenty year period showing declining fanaticism, I’ll be more willing to lend an ear. Two years is nothing. While the fact that extremist opinion seems to have gone down in the recent past is a good sign, one simply can’t ignore the existing percentages. They are just too large.

    Finally, if you take a look at the context in which I had presented them, you’ll find that there was more than terrorism. Xenophobia, Misogyny, Religious-Politics, Religious Ghettoism, Lack of public conscience etc etc are all equally important and are a part of Islam.

    “Also, I have absolutely no idea how you can generalise about all Muslims”

    Hop on to the bigot bandwagon my friend. And while you’re on there, please care to quote where I generalized about ALL Muslims.

    “What about the statistics of non-Muslim communities? Surely any study to show if Islam conclusively brings extremism and violence should take in to account everyone else as well as a benchmark?”

    If you had read my post, you would have found this statistic. Read more here: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?PageID=811

    The west has a more uniform distribution of how people view other religions. The data suggests that people living in Islamic countries hold rather negative opinions of non-Muslims. The Xenophobia is fairly apparent.

    Again, this is not “conclusive” proof. There are a lot of indicators that suggest Islam is fundamentally incompatible with liberal secular democracy and human rights. This is just one piece of the jigsaw.

    “What about extremism and terror related to other ideologies?”

    This is a very valid point and needs to be addressed. However it doesn’t in any way mean that any one ideology is exempt of the standards applied to the others. All are equal and should be equally judged. I am totally opposed to ALL violent and irrational ideologies.

    Though I must say, pulling the “There are other stupid people in the world so its ok if I”m stupid too” card is very childish of you. But then, I can understand that there isn’t much else one can pull to defend Islam.

    “This is why we have the humanities at University and not just science. Science can teach us a lot of neat stuff, but humans don’t always act logically or according to pre-set formulae or patterns.”

    I totally agree. Your point applies to the level of the actual dynamics of societies as they exist.

    The deeper question is that of how society evolved to be what it is..

    From what I have read of Atran, he doesn’t seem to have satisfactorily addressed that question so far.. If you have more data to present, I’d be glad to go through it.

    “Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam.”

    Still, there are probably hundreds of millions of fundamentalists out there. Not to mention, Islam itself is incompatible with human rights, secularism, liberal democracy and freedom of speech and thought. Oh yeah! It is plainly false as well. So I oppose it. I can never be against “Muslims” in general. They are human beings too and I apply the same standards to them that I seek for myself.

    Cheers.

  24. Sam permalink
    October 23, 2007 6:58 am

    “How do you crush an ideology militarily? You can’t crush an ideolgoy militarily .. you would have to crush its adherents militarily. Do you support Hirsi Ali’s statement in this regard?”

    One can’t crush an “ideology” militarily. Crushing adherents has in the past been correlated both, with strengthening ideologies as well as weakening them. In the past, Islam and Christianity have militarily predated upon many other ideologies – Each other, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Judaism and various forms of Paganism etc. and both have been fairly successful in their arena.

    Coming back to the present, I think it is idiotic to suggest that any ideology can be defeated by militarily crushing its adherents. I hope that answered your question.

  25. eteraz permalink
    October 23, 2007 5:50 pm

    Sam, since we’re discussing ideology I wonder what you think of abandoning the extremist/non-extremist classificaton system and moving to something to closer to Muslim right vs. Muslim left.

    I discussed it at the Guardian as part of my series.

    The Muslim Left

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ali_eteraz/2007/10/the_making_of_the_muslim_left.html

    Making of Muslim Secularism

    http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ali_eteraz/2007/10/muslim_secularism_and_its_allies.html

    Also, I wonder if you’d consider yourself an ally of Muslim secularism.

  26. dawood permalink
    October 23, 2007 7:40 pm

    That is the fundamental problem then Sam – your understanding of what Islam actually “is”, is flawed. Islam has always been expressed through culture – one of the most important legal maxims in Islamic law is that “culture has the weight of law” – so Atran’s thought regarding Islam being connected with culture is pretty much spot on.

    Your argument that Islam is immutable is untenable once you move past a surface-level skimming of the tradition and in to the actual realms of jurisprudence and history. Heck, even the earliest jurists changed their legal opinions depending on the location they were in, and this is well known. Check any introductory level work on Islamic law – even the old school guys like Schacht and Goldziher mention this.

    Islam is also more than just simply a set of rules, that is only the base level regarding social interaction. The growth of Sufi movements and so on also show the many varied cultural expressions of the religion.

    What do you mean not compatible with human rights? Check out the thought of ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Sanhuri for one (I know you won’t but am just putting the name out there for others), who was a lawyer in Egypt during the 1920′s-1950′s reflecting Islamic law in an international and comparative law context. His voluminous works on Islamic law and human rights were instrumental in the legal codes of many Middle Eastern countries. Even his seminal text “al-masdar al-haqq fi al-fiqh al-islami” (The sources of rights/justice in Islamic law) clearly explains the impetus of his work. Not to mention the many other works he wrote comparing Islamic law (from the late-Ottoman period and earlier) with international law.

    The thing that I can’t understand is why you advance your opinion of what Islam is as “correct”, while denying actual Muslims an ability to accurately express what their religion says itself. What gives your own reading of the religious tradition more accuracy than those who actually live it? Isn’t an ideology ultimately defined and articulated by its adherents (which is what religion ultimately is after all the mumbo-jumbo is taken away)?

    Again, you make many generalisations which you simply cannot support. At least Atran’s data supports his points, but you talking about the perpetual Muslim “boogey-man” can do nothing for the discussion except rile people up.

    The study you keep linking to shows support for OBL etc. has gone down in these countries – this immediately contradicts your assertions that Islam is at fault, and immutable in outlook – unless you can prove that the “Islam” rating of those studied has somehow changed in the last few years. It does lend credence to Atran’s position, however.

    Again, this is why we have the social sciences and humanities – to understand humans – and not hard sciences.

  27. Sam permalink
    October 23, 2007 9:34 pm

    Dawood, what you and Atran probably speak of is a superset of Islam which includes not just the religion, but all else that you talk of. Let us call it {Islam}. Islam is a subset of {Islam} and while the superset contains many elements that vary largely with time, geographic locations, cultural values, personal experiences etc etc, the subset is an unchangeable core. {Islam} is open to interpretation, re-interpretation, dispute, change and all else that you speak of. But Islam is not.

    The issue between us arises at the semantic level because we define Islam and {Islam} differently. Muslims are defined by {Islam} so what you say holds value when they are judged by the barbarity of Islam. I don’t do that.

    The rest of your post contradicts yourself at a fundamental level. For one you abstract the understanding of Islam into {Islam} of your own accord and assert that the former doesn’t exist. Secondly, while you strongly assert the right of Muslims to interpret for themselves the meaning of {Islam}, you ask me to submit to the opinions of a number of people stealing from me my right to my own. Thirdly, you assume that the majority follow your path which is a blatantly flawed assumption to make.

    “What gives your own reading of the religious tradition more accuracy than those who actually live it?”

    The Q is for all to read. Whether one practices {Islam} has no bearing whatsoever on one’s understanding of the rigid anachronism called Islam that the Q constructs.

    “Isn’t an ideology ultimately defined and articulated by its adherents (which is what religion ultimately is after all the mumbo-jumbo is taken away)?”

    Quite true. And the Pew survey puts forward that definition far more clearly than you do.

    Do you wish to usurp the right of other Muslims to define {Islam} for themselves?

    Not you, nor any singular {Islamic} authority or group has that right. {Islam} is as the Muslims do and Islam is as the Q speaks. Both are unaffected by individual definitions and opinions.

    I’d like to see which generalizations I make that I can’t support. Make pointed examples instead of pointing fingers at the anti-Islamic bogeyman. You have enough material to quote.

    And as I said earlier of the Pew report, declining support for one terrorist has nothing to do with, “there are probably hundreds of millions of fundamentalists out there. Not to mention, Islam itself is incompatible with human rights, secularism, liberal democracy and freedom of speech and thought.” & “There is also Islamic Xenophobia, Misogyny, Religious-Politics, Religious Ghettoism, Lack of public conscience”..

    My earlier statement finds evidence not just in the Pew report, but in Islamic history, the present state of the Islamic world, the actions of the founders of Islam and my personal experiences while interacting with hundreds of Muslims of varying geographical background, education and age.

    I don’t assert anything without having ample reason to do so. That said, I am still open to change should I find evidence to suggest that my position was flawed. If you wish to dispute a point individually, I’ll be glad to do so.

    Your criticism of the conclusions I draw from the Pew report has no basis in rationality. It probably dwells upon your emotional need to find a line of defense when there quite clearly is none; And more importantly, there is no need for one. If you don’t do so already, you should be out there battling those opinions yourself if you feel so strongly about them.

    Quoting myself, “While it is a good sign these are going down, I am yet to see data to suggests this is a continuous and sustainable trend. Public opinion has ups and downs all the time.

    If you have data over a twenty year period showing declining fanaticism, I’ll be more willing to lend an ear. Two years is nothing. ”

    In the meanwhile, I’d be happy if you could elucidate what you do not understand of my position.

  28. October 24, 2007 3:47 am

    eteraz – sorry bout that, your comment got thrown into moderation. gotta say the few parts of that series that i read were awesome! i’m looking forward to reading the remaining posts.

    sam and dawood – i have yet to read both of your comments and to respond (and respond) – i’ve been a bit busy – definately check out eteraz’s links.

  29. dawood permalink
    October 24, 2007 4:28 am

    Ok, so what you are basically saying is that {Islam}, which is the tradition as understood and expressed by Muslims themselves throughout history is not the same as Islam, which is what you understand it to be.

    Therefore, I have no idea where this tradition Islam comes from, apart from your own imagination because {Islam} has always been understood to be developing and historically contingent based upon key source texts. If it wasn’t we wouldn’t have so many thousands of scholars throughout history writing their works, constantly expressing how {Islam} should be viewed and practised in order to deal with the prevailing circumstances of their time. Nor would we have volumes of divergent opinions from multitudes of scholars on legal, theological and mystical issues and the paucity of things outside of general worship and basic theological constructs that they actually do generally agree upon. Even the Qur’an is considered by Muslims to be revealed over a 23 year period, and many verses have specific historical contexts, so I am again not sure where you are basing your opinion on…

    Not only that but the “Q” has a complex exegetical tradition based on things like linguistic analysis, historical context, definition of legal and non-legal verses and so on. Exegesis is not the same thing as jurisprudence, and many parts of the Qur’an do not have actual legal import at all, such is the nature of making law based on a text that is not necessarily legal in nature. Of course, this is if you follow the methodology set by the exegetical tradition; some people don’t. This is what we find when engaging {Islam} through engaging the classical tradition – it is an ongoing process, and will always be an ongoing process.

    If you are not willing to accept how a religious tradition defines itself and places limits and boundaries on interpretation etc., then it is up to you, but makes you sound foolish when you attempt to appear as an “expert” on the matter. I think Aslan showed that quite clearly, although the work of Atran completely circumvents the need to discuss this area because it deals with real people, not theory, and shows that peoples motivations for doing various things have a lot to do with their social context, experiences and history.

    Furthermore, if an ideology is expressed and defined by those who follow it, as you agree above, then for all intents and purposes {Islam}=Islam unless otherwise proven. In fact, there are many {Islams}, and I am not denying it at all; that is, rather, the whole point of my post in the first place. I don’t claim to speak for anyone or have any authority to do so as there are plenty of Muslim spokespeople who can do so themselves, including this blog’s owner.

    Do you really want me to go through every single comment above and highlight the generalisations you make? I have better things to do with my time, but what worries me more is that you cannot see them for yourself and instead continue to spray these ideas all over the internet and elsewhere. The first one is discussed above – the generalisation you make that you can ascertain what Islam is without recourse to the religious tradition itself.

    There is a reason why no one seriously involved in academia takes this kind of stuff seriously – either in Islamic Studies or the Social Sciences. This is because it is utter bunk and the type of attitudes towards religious traditions and ideologies expressed in your comments above (and elsewhere) would fail even an undergraduate course, let alone anything beyond that. Atran’s work proves this with anthropological data to back up his ideas, and even the Pew report shows that peoples attitudes are changing so this idea of an immutable and static religion is something out of the dark ages – certainly not the Islamic tradition. Heck, even Schacht, Goldziher and their ilk back in the day moved on from this position once they began investigating more classical works from the Islamic tradition.

  30. October 24, 2007 7:44 pm

    Sam,

    no you didn’t actually answer the question – the question is not whether you think an ideology can be crushed…. rather the question is “do you support Hirsi Ali’s statement?”

    Just because it is idiotic to think that an ideology can be crushed doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be attempted.

    moving on:

    “There is nothing to fear from Islam. It is just another set of illogical, irrational and, quite simply put, provably false set of dogma, myths and rituals. Ideologies don’t hurt people, people who follow them do.”

    Regardless of where we stand on what Islam is or isn’t we do agree on ideologies not hurting people – people do.

    Agreed. I’ll get back to this later.

    “Muslims who interpret Islam literally pose a threat to the civilized world, yes. But they pose a bigger threat to the more rational Muslims. Fearing them will solve nothing. The fundamentalists need to be dealt with in their own realm and steps need to be taken to prevent the moderates from joining the fanatic bandwagon.”

    For the most part – agreed. There are some issues in regards to those who interpret it literally pose a threat as I know many who do interpret it literally, that would not harm a soul for this very reason and do not subscribe to or propogate jihad or propogating, practicing hate for the “infidel”. There are too many generalizations out there in regards to this.

    I’m going to have to come back to address other issues – but what I did want to say before signing off was that in regards to the pew studies – and I don’t think that Dawood has gone into this with you .. while those studies do offer information in regards to the general populations views .. what they are not doing is correlating those views with the current events that are taking place within the respective countries. For example – here in the US during the initial attack on Iraq, GW Bush had high ratings .. today he doesn’t. US views on civillian casualties has changed over the years with its ups and downs. This statement as my other statement in regards to rioting is not about justifying one with the other. Instead it is addressing issues that go beyond religion and dwell into human nature. We need to fully understand why these figures change .. what is going on within our own societies to account for these changes.

    In my opinion – regardless of the drop in the few years not being enough evidence – the mere fact that these are considered considerable drops in support for terrorist actions shows that this support doesn’t necessarily stem from what is “Islamic” .. as what is “Islamic” would in my opinion remain constant rather than change .. when it comes to peoples opinions in these matters.

    Allright – will have to come back again.

  31. October 24, 2007 11:08 pm

    continuing…

    ” That is “YOUR” version of Islam. Before saying anything else, ‘I SUPPORT your version of Islam as against the conventional everyday Islam that most Muslims practice’. It is the last thing I would work to undermine. Were most Muslims like you, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.”

    I’ll have to repeat that you can not just look at the polls to decide what is conventional everyday Islam as I can not take the views of Americans to represent what is Christian or the views of Columbians to represent the views of what is Catholic or the views of communists to represent what is atheist. The questions that were asked were about support of people, actions, so on and so forth. Now had the questions have been – Do you think Islam justifies what Osama is doing or Does Islam justify violence against civillians – you’d most likely see a different outcome as most literalists will tell you that violence is not justified against civillians.

    As for democracy and Islam – I’ll have to refer you to the works of Khaled Abou El Fadl and I’m sure Dawood has even more refrences to how they can work.

    This is an excerpt from another of my posts in regards to Sharia which kind of sums up my thoughts on sharia after reading “The Great Theft” Abou El Fadl:

    “Where I think I differ is that I have always assumed that knowledge and reason was something that was demanded of me as a Muslim and therefore I needed to obtain knowledge to make reasonable and rational decisions of what is “Islamic” regardless of ijma (consensus) and whether or not I was a jurist – it was still my responsibility of being informed. The difference between me and the very movement that spurred “individual” thought and the literalist interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah is that I do not deny the necessity of traditional Islamic jurisprudence nor the necessity to return to the traditional methodologies of fiqh if shari’a is going to be practiced. Instead, it is through these very methodologies that we would be able to see a democratic form of fiqh. One in which key word being “qualified” jurists would reason, research, analyze and form legislation and laws and where we would through our informed opinion be able to pass such laws through voting. Not much different than what we have here in the US. A shari’a based on democracy or a democracy based on shari’a is the only shari’a that I would be able to support. In addition, I have only considered shari’a to be something adaptable in majority Muslim countries and something that Muslims could use as moral reference in matters of conscious outside of Muslim countries.”

    the rest is here: http://samaha.wordpress.com/2007/03/15/thinking-sharia/ (although it is a bit long)

    If sharia is handled in that matter you wouldn’t have a problem with imposing those laws upon non-muslims as it would be a secular democracy.

    continuing later….

  32. October 25, 2007 2:06 am

    continued..

    Now, yes – personal experience does keep me from disassociating Islam from Muslims .. because so many of my friends – of whom many considered themselves atheist – died because they had a Muslim name. Some of them even Serbs who tried hiding us from those out to kill us.

    So while I could believe that you personally can disassociate Islam from Muslim, I know that the general population is not as capable of it.

    More importantly though, statements that call for military action upon Islam are irresponsible. Statements which refer to “Islamo-fascism” and comparing Hitler to a caliphate are irresponsible. We ALL have to start being responsible in the way we deal with each other .. we need to change the human nature of violence and we each need to start with ourselves. None of us need to be accomplices to what might happen from staying silent on the wrongs that get commited in the name of Islam or the wrongs that could get committed in the name of defending ourselves from the ideology of Islam.

    And Sam, Hey – I can understand that it wasn’t easy going through what she has gone through and I can understand that her life must be pretty miserable with all of the death threats but it does not excuse her inhumane proposals. So .. I find it offensive to read: “She is one of the most poised, intelligent and compassionate advocates of freedom of speech and conscience alive today,” and I believe we need to stop excusing her actions because of her story.

    I’m telling you – she’s not going to be the hero to the cultural woes that afflict the people of those countries. There are heros out there – she’s just not one of them.

  33. Sam permalink
    October 28, 2007 1:08 am

    Dawood:
    Your denial of the difference between the dogma of Islam, as it is unequivocally spelled out in the Islamic texts, and the mores of {Islam}, as it is practiced by Muslims worldwide, seems to be the only thing you can harp upon when the falsity and irrationality of Islam is indicated.

    It seems to me that you are trying to make up for a non-existent defense against the latter by trying to shift the focus to needless nitpicking over the former.

    It is the exegesis of dogma that defines Islam while the observation of Muslim beliefs gives us {Islam}. Even with the exegetical differences of Islam, one finds a common thread which in most cases is the core identifying ideology of the people that term themselves ‘Muslim’. And that is the causal link between Islam and {Islam}.

    To exemplify this, a homosexual fornicating person who doesn’t agree with parts of the Quran might identify him/herself as a Muslim following {Islam} by believing in its pillars. On the other hand a person who denies the pillars of Islam would violate Islam and hence could not rationally call oneself a ‘Muslim’, even if he/she so wished and followed other Islamic dogma.

    What part of this do you not get?

    A religious “tradition” definitely defines itself. Your ad-hominem attacks merely demonstrate your unwillingness and probable incapability to grasp the import of a viewpoint opposed to yours. In common parlance, we use the word bigot for people such as you and in this specific case this finds precedent in your earlier post as well.

    At a fundamental level, you share a lot with the fanatical millions you claim don’t exist. Though, I must admit, you do ratchet up the refinement and acceptability factor by a scale.

    “The first one is discussed above – the generalisation you make that you can ascertain what Islam is without recourse to the religious tradition itself.”

    My friend, I would suggest to you the use of a very helpful online resource called http://www.dictionary.com .

    ‘Generalization:
    3. Logic.
    a. a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class.
    b. the process of obtaining such propositions.’

    The class, ‘Islam’, that you speak of is neither the sum of individual components that exist on their own, nor is it one of many like itself that define a coherent superset adhered to by individuals upon whom the generalization might apply.

    Please don’t undermine your own credibility with such asinine assertions as you’ve made earlier.

    Finally:
    Simply put, people are irrational. They will continue to be. Educating people to help them step out of the quagmire of irrational, anti-scientific and false dogma is as much our duty as is their right to follow the same should they wish to.

  34. Sam permalink
    October 28, 2007 7:01 pm

    Samaha:

    The notion of the use of military force against an ideology has no basis in reason. On that accord, I disagree with Hisri Ali’s statement since it might be interpreted to imply the use of military force to coerce people to leave Islam.

    That said, I’d seek a clarification of intent before I judged her as a person.

    ~”Just because it is idiotic to think that an ideology can be crushed doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be attempted.”

    It is idiotic to think that an ideology can be crushed by “militarily oppressing its adherents”. It is foolish and wrong to attempt the same.

    Moving on.. When you disagree with my sentiment that Muslims who “literally” interpret Islamic texts are a threat to the civilized world, I get the feeling that the difference of opinion is merely semantic.

    If we respect and allow for each Muslim to interpret {Islam} for themselves, we can’t reasonably object to the adherent of literal Islam who for example supports flogging fornicators and beating wives.

    This poses a simple problem:
    We must respect the right of people to believe in what they wish and at the same time we must oppose human rights abuses like flogging fornicators, slaying infidels and beating wives.

    The “problem” is that if enough people believe in the latter, then that is what democracy will become and we will have “reverted” to the dark ages. The move from secular liberal democracy to sharia barbocracy requires only a simple majority to support a fundamentalist politician.

    The best solution to this issue is – Rationally disprove the irrational and barbaric ideology that drives the fanatics since it would then be far less likely to be able to corrupt normal people.

    Islam must be consigned to the sands of time past. Non-Political {Islam} might survive sans Islam and, like reform Judaism and liberal Christianity today, play a chiefly ceremonial and cultural role with some theology thrown in.

    We can’t accept and support within our ranks an ideology that is simply incompatible with modern secular democratic values. Furthermore, as long as it exists, it is almost guaranteed to find malevolent expression in the mind of some fanatic or the other. AND finally, it will ensure its own propagation by virtue of its evangelistic propaganda based design and virulent anti-apostate and anti-infidel dogma coupled with its predatory nature which feeds on basal human emotions like fear, lust, greed etc.

    Irrational ideologies can be consigned to the garbage bin with simple rational debate. This is evident with Islam. The fundamentalists primary fear is free speech because the falsity of Islam can’t be held off for long with that in place. All the blasphemy laws and social ostracism can’t stop the truth.

    With each passing day, the number of apostates who realize the falsity and irrationality of Islam increases. The sad part is that most of them are closet apostates who fear being socially ostracized and are often subjected to violence if they express themselves. Even sadder is the fact that it is highly probable that each apostate leaves the Muslim ummah with one less rational person.

    In the long run, Islam will crash and burn. Its only a matter of time. We just need to make sure people are not hurt in the process.

    ~”what they are not doing is correlating those views with the current events that are taking place within the respective countries. For example – here in the US during the initial attack on Iraq, GW Bush had high ratings .. today he doesn’t. ‘US views on civillian casualties has changed over the years with its ups and downs.’ ”

    Ahem. I must make a point here. It is unlikely that the “views on civilian casualties” can change over so short a period of time.

    The simpler and better explanation is that the “perception” that the damage and casualties caused by the war don’t justify the gains to be achieved by it, has slowly set in.

    The ethics of people on fundamental personal and ideological issues don’t change very fast. It is not human nature to be flippant about their basal psychological grounding on issues they feel strongly about.

    Perceptions and expressed actionable thoughts, however, are fairly mutable.

    The culpability of Islam in shaping a portion of the basal ethical grounding of Muslims is unquestionable. And the causal likelihood of people literally interpreting (or mis-interpreting as diet Muslims say) Quranic dogma to create fanatic schools of thought finds overwhelming redundant evidence in today’s world as well as the worlds of times past.

    This is why Islam is an issue that badly needs to be addressed – At an ideological level of course.

    While negative opinions of the US might go away tomorrow with a good PR campaign, the basal xenophobia and us-vs-them philosophy that finds such pervasive expression in the poll results and your own posts will only go with the demise of Islam-the ideology.

    I hope that makes sense in the light of your statement on the sentiments not ‘stemming from what is Islamic’.

    ~”Instead it is addressing issues that go beyond religion and dwell into human nature. We need to fully understand why these figures change .. what is going on within our own societies to account for these changes.”

    I agree totally. What I mentioned just above was probably just one of a much larger set of things that shape perception and expressed opinion. Time spent on identifying them would be time well spent. This is what Atran does and his work is very commendable.

    ~”I’ll have to repeat that you can not just look at the polls to decide what is conventional everyday Islam as I can not take the views of Americans to represent what is Christian or the views of Columbians to represent the views of what is Catholic or the views of communists to represent what is atheist.”

    1. The Pew polls are fairly extensive and inclusive when it comes to the Muslim populace since they cover most Islamic countries and Muslims in the west as well.

    2. There are enough Christians that aren’t American, enough Catholics who aren’t Columbians and enough Atheists who aren’t Communists. If the representation was highly inclusive, inferences could be drawn.

    Your logic, I’m afraid, is flawed and doesn’t hold here.

    Polls express public sentiment and are a fair indicator of the same when averaged over a reasonable amount of time. You may feel free to use such methodologies to analyze sociological data concerning other ideological groups IF the data is well grounded and there is no extrapolation of the trends of the survey to issues that lie outside its general scope.

    “Now had the questions have been – Do you think Islam justifies what Osama is doing or Does Islam justify violence against civillians – you’d most likely see a different outcome as most literalists will tell you that violence is not justified against civillians.”

    Hmm… I don’t agree with that. The question of whether people support violence against civilians was indeed asked as I mentioned earlier and there is plenty of support for that. Even with the added dimension of whether Islam itself sanctions the same, I’m unconvinced that you’ll get a major deviation from the general trend since it would be tantamount to people admitting their own thoughts and opinions were un-Islamic. More data on this would of course help change my mind.

    Not to mention, the definition of civilian in Islam is quite different from what we use today in common parlance. There is enough sanction in Islam to slaughter civilian men in times of “war”, as well as to violently oppose people who “oppose Islam”. Now we come to the semantics of “war” and “oppose Islam” which are open ended themselves… The chain carries on, adding fanatics at each link.

    Since the Quran is rigid, the moderates arguments are based upon their personal semantics. This is where the scope for (re-)interpretation, both violent and peaceful, comes in.

    Also, the point is not whether the people the Pew survey highlights that {Islam} justifies the actions of Osama. The point is that the mindset of the sampled Muslims who support violence against civilians, influenced to some degree by {Islam} (which in turn is shaped by Islam), accepts this barbarism as normal and supports it.
    Incidentally, this is well within the bounds of drawing inference from a reasonable sample space and is NOT an unqualified generalization!

    A glaring issue is that if the poll holds even a vague semblance of truth, the numbers are too huge and the reality is stark. Hundreds of millions of Muslims probably support, to some degree, violence against civilians. Do you disagree with the inference?

    Please note that while you and I might interpret Islamic texts in a certain way, unless we infringe upon the rights of all Muslims to do the same we simply can’t circumvent the rights of the fanatics to draw crazy conclusions from the book.

    Who are you and I to say that the “moderate” school of thought is better or worse from an Islamic exegetical perspective when there is no rational objectivity whatsoever?

    “As for democracy and Islam – I’ll have to refer you to the works of Khaled Abou El Fadl and I’m sure Dawood has even more refrences to how they can work.”

    The issue is NOT Democracy. You might have a democracy where misogyny, stoning and polygamy are legal and some psychotic form of Sharia is applied.

    The point IS that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with “Liberal Secular Democracy”.

    “I have only considered shari’a to be something adaptable in majority Muslim countries….. If sharia is handled in that matter you wouldn’t have a problem with imposing those laws upon non-muslims as it would be a secular democracy.”

    I don’t know what reasoning you use, but to me it is pretty clear that we can’t have a liberal secular democracy with Sharia in the background.

    The weakest links of the sharia-democracy you talk about are the highly flawed assumptions that ALL Muslims want to live under Sharia, that you need a majority of Muslims to democratically impose Sharia AND that the children of Muslims are Muslims. (If you wish for me to elaborate more, I can)

    Tell me Samaha: Why is it not child abuse to indoctrinate children with any irrational and anti-scientific ideology or religion? Specially with one that is statistically correlated with some of the most xenophobic and misogynistic societies of the present day world?

    This happens because it is a simple fact that if it didn’t, the ideologies would be dead in the span of two generations.

    Ole imaginary Allah doesn’t speak of the truth of Islam to people. Imaginary Allah needs collective propaganda, brainwashing and passive and active societal and familial coercion to keep its ummah from disintegrating.

    What is your opinion of these coercive tactics applied to hundreds of millions of innocent children around the world?

    “So while I could believe that you personally can disassociate Islam from Muslim, I know that the general population is not as capable of it.”

    It is true that a lot of people might not be able to differentiate between ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’, and these people include both Muslims and Non-Muslims.

    “More importantly though, statements that call for military action upon Islam are irresponsible.”

    They aren’t just irresponsible, but asinine. The events you narrate are abhorrent. I am really sorry for the people who perished there and my heart goes out to them and you. There is simply NO excuse for things like that. Period!

    Despite things being the way they are, we need people who yet aspire to an ideal and work to turn it into reality. It doesn’t matter what the masses think or say.

    Finally, no one’s past suffering justifies excusing any actions in the present day world. Nothing justifies coercion!! I think this is what you wished to speak of Hirsi Ali and I agree with that. But then again, I would not judge her as a person without making sure of her intent.

    Cheers.

  35. dawood permalink
    October 28, 2007 7:40 pm

    Nice come-back… it feels like I am back in the 90′s as a teenager on a BBS… An ad-hominem and dictionary.com? What is this?

    Sam, Islam={Islam} because it is the scholars, intellectuals and everyday people of the Muslim community who define what is Islam is. There are {Islams}, and I have admitted that before, so are you wanting to talk about “orthodoxy” or generality? They are something different as one is found in theory in books, the other is what is lived by the vast majority of Muslims. Most Muslims are not religious scholars. So please set your goal posts down and define exactly what it is you want to discuss so we can get on the same wavelength. This generic ill-defined notion of some vague “Islam” is not very scientific and is not helpful for engaging in proper research.

    You are right in some sense though – I have no idea what this “core” of Islam you keep talking about actually is, because if the luminaries of Islamic history basically tell us that theologically there are only three key concepts everyone agrees upon (Oneness of God, Prophethood/Revelation and the concept of Judgement, and not necessarily the details thereof), then who am I to argue with them? And when it comes to Islamic law, that outside of worship (the 5 pillars – and even the exact performance of these is differed on until today), there is a huge scope for diversity in social rulings, with the Qur’an only giving general principles on most things, then again, who am I to disagree? I am not a religious scholar, I am simply someone who has majored in Islamic studies and history at university.

    So again, what is this core you keep talking about? Are you able to deduce something more concrete from the religious texts that some of the Islamic traditions greatest minds have not been able to in 1400 years? What makes you think your reading of Islam is “right” again, because if, as you admitted above, ideologies are defined by their adherents, then shouldn’t you be working from one of the already existing definitions by Muslims themselves?

    We are dealing with a human community – there are in-group/out-group relations at work on many levels – but this is not necessarily connected solely to the religious tradition itself, it could be social based or based on a number of different issues and perceptions. Culture masquerades as religion, and religion as culture in many cases, and so too does politics. This is anthropology and why tools like ethnography are so important.

    Of course the religious tradition has its own definition of who is and who isn’t Muslim; every religious tradition defines what is “orthodox” and what is “unorthodox”, and so do other ideologies (even yours).

    In the case of Islam – as defined by theoretically by scholars – anyone who affirms the testimony of faith verbally at least once in their life, without recanting or nullifying this belief through action is considered Muslim. There is no check as to what someone believes “in their heart”, because law is based on action and the rest is left up to “God”. Similarly, being too lazy to perform the prayer, for example, does not take one out of Islam (again, as defined by the scholars), yet verbally announcing that you believe them unnecessary or wrong does (though keeping it to yourself and not performing them doesn’t). With the generality of Muslims it may be different, but considering there are numerous examples of people who don’t pray, don’t fast and say things like “God is sleeping”, then who’s to say…

    What’s your point with all this again exactly anyway?

    And how does this “false dogma” impinge on Muslims ability to live in the world exactly? Does washing five or more times a day, bending at the knees and putting your head on the ground for around 20mins a day, giving charity at least once a year and so on actually cause any problems with living in the “modern world”?

    The thing I don’t get with your whole argument, though, is that if you saw Samaha or plenty of others walking in the street, you wouldn’t even be able to tell she was Muslim. If you were not discussing a specific religious tradition, or in an interfaith setting, the same. Not even Mid-East politics would necessarily give it away as there are plenty of non-Muslims who agree with the position she has maintained on this blog in other posts. So how exactly does religion impinge upon peoples ability to be part of “modernity”?

    Are human beings truly so ignorant and unable to look after themselves that they need “enlightened” by others? How is that any different from religious propagation? Why is it your “duty”? Are other humans apart from the “enlightened” few able to actually look after their own intellects? Thank goodness I don’t follow this ideology if that’s the case.

  36. Sam permalink
    October 29, 2007 1:30 am

    Dawood, Islam!={Islam} because it is the scholars, intellectuals and everyday people of the Muslim community who define what {Islam} is. (Where != is the symbol for ‘not equal to’).

    Islam is rigid and highly resistant to change. It was defined by Muhammad and possibly his sycophants and their descendants. Talking about the core Islam, depending upon what you would be wont to accept, you find the Quran, the Sunnah and possibly the Hadith.

    That said, the definition of the core will probably be subject to debate. For now, I’ll go with Edip Yuksel’s position of belief in the Quran. While some people might not agree with that this condition is ‘necessary’ AND ‘sufficient’, I have yet to find someone who disagrees with the divinity of the Quran and defines oneself as ‘Muslim’. It is a personal and open definition. You could come up with another one if you wish. If it seems more credible, I’ll incorporate it into my own.

    “So please set your goal posts down and define exactly what it is you want to discuss so we can get on the same wavelength.”

    Dawood, if you had paid a little more attention to my posts you’d have already obtained this. My mere assertion is that we should take active steps to help Muslims realize the fallacy of Islam and we should circumvent all forms of proselytism.

    ~”What makes you think your reading of Islam is “right” again, because if, as you admitted above, ideologies are defined by their adherents, then shouldn’t you be working from one of the already existing definitions by Muslims themselves?”

    I’m not saying I have been able to “extract” anything apart from the direct import of the Islamic texts. Yes, I do realize that people might have a better understanding of Islamic texts than me. I look at different translations and try to find a common consensus between the exegetical views of the ‘scholars’ since it gives me a better idea of what was implied. Ultimately though, I draw my own conclusions as should every individual. Failing to do so would place me next to the blind followers of existing dogma.

    ~”We are dealing with a human community -….. This is anthropology and why tools like ethnography are so important.”

    Very agreeable.

    ~”Of course the religious tradition has its own definition of who is and who isn’t Muslim; every religious tradition defines what is “orthodox” and what is “unorthodox”, and so do other ideologies (even yours).”

    It is not the tradition that defines ‘Muslim’ but individual Muslims who define themselves as ‘Muslim’. For the self annotation to carry any meaning, it of course needs validation from Islam.

    Which I guess is what you write about in the next paragraph – With a minor correction, “In the case of Islam – as defined by theoretically by SOME scholars – anyone …”.

    ~”And how does this “false dogma” impinge on Muslims ability to live in the world exactly? Does washing five or more times a day, bending at the knees and putting your head on the ground for around 20mins a day, giving charity at least once a year and so on actually cause any problems with living in the “modern world”?”

    Let me see.. How about:
    *Stand up for an irrational principle and preclude one’s objection to other irrationality. Unless of course one is a Hypocrite.
    *Consequently from the first point, a lot of people do become Hypocrites with the, “My irrationality is right but your irrationality is wrong” chant. But then one has to also believe that Hypocrisy is wrong to view this in a negative light.
    *From the second point, we have a lot of people who believe there is nothing wrong with Hypocrisy. Can’t say much to this one!

    The above ones are really extensive in their application and shape one’s behavior according to the degree of belief in one or more of the three.

    A lot of Muslims manage to escape some or all of the following traps, but there still is an enormous number of those that don’t:

    *Then there’s religious collectivism leading to the loss of critical thought.
    *There’s also unnecessary ritualistic pressure on oneself. Waste of human resource, time, thought and money to support the prayer infrastructure. (Though this seems to have a positive effect on some people who find satisfaction in intellectual masochism!)
    *Then there’s the anti-scientific outlook. Evolution is wrong et. al.
    *There’s also the anti-infidel hate and xenophobia. Damn those “worst creatures” (Q.98.6).
    *Now we also have those who evangelize to their children, corrupting innocent minds with nonsensical dogma such as the above.

    There is, of course, a lot more to it than just these little points.

    And there are Muslims who escape almost all of them. Though I must say I’ve only met one such person so far who really impressed me. Unfortunately, he too could not rationally object to fanatic interpretations of Islam for he realized his own irrationality was at a fundamental level very similar to theirs. It was a different matter that he could live with that. And he was a pacifist if I ever saw one. Very nice fellow to talk to.

    This also doesn’t go to say that religion doesn’t have positive effects. I’m sure it helps a lot of people find a goal in life and find some degree of comfort in a cold universe. Collectivism has its pros and cons too as do some other points I speak of.

    Its just in the end, Islam is so rigidly antithetical to modern civilization enshrined in liberal secular democracy that the two just can’t co-exist without hurting each other. Take your pick.

    Now to answer your questions:

    ~”Are human beings truly so ignorant and unable to look after themselves that they need “enlightened” by others?”

    Actually, a lot of them just need a gentle nudge to start thinking. The rest, they can figure out for themselves. ‘Enlightenment’ is a very intellectually immature term to use because knowledge, atleast in the foreseeable future, is destined to remain incomplete.

    Incidentally, what is your opinion on Muslims (and others) imposing religion upon their children?

    ~”How is that any different from religious propagation?”

    Religion feeds “ideologies” and is constrained by its own dogma.

    I speak of simply nudging people to think outside those constraints and figure out their own path. Whether they choose to reject religion or not is up to them.

    It is a free world after all.

    ~”Why is it your “duty”?”

    It isn’t just mine. It is the duty of every human being to encourage freedom of speech, thought and action as long as no foreseeable physical or mental harm is caused to other human beings in the process.

    This philosophy actually precludes me speaking to a bulk of the religious people I know since I’m pretty sure their poor psyche couldn’t live with reality which is pretty stark and cold. Ah well! We all do what we have to.

    ~”Are other humans apart from the “enlightened” few able to actually look after their own intellects?”

    It is the religious bigots who claim ‘enlightenment’ etc.

    It is the free-thinker who realizes that knowledge is, and will be, incomplete. It is highly likely that ‘enlightenment’ is simply impossible.

    But then… Who hasn’t run after a chimera sometime in their life? :)

    ~”Thank goodness I don’t follow this ideology if that’s the case.”

    All through this discussion, you don’t seem to have clearly stated the ideology you follow.

    What do you stand for?

  37. dawood permalink
    October 29, 2007 5:08 am

    Nice use of a relational operator first of all, except we are still not dealing with a simple binary calculation, or a programming language, whether you like it or not. You keep jumping about from one issue to the next without any type of coherent thought regarding this issue. Instead of answering my queries so we can continue the discussion further, you splurge incoherent sound-bites on to the page, jumping from one issue to the next without even connecting them to what has come previously.

    the definition of the core will probably be subject to debate” eh? That’s all I needed to hear. So why mention all this nonsense of a ‘core’ in the first place when you are really clutching at straws and have no working, agreed-upon definition of exactly what this is to base your views upon?

    It seems that you asserting that the ‘core’ of Islam you keep talking about is the Qur’an and whatever else Muhammad brought besides that? If so then you reach a problem, because – even from within the Muslim traditional accounts – it is human beings after Muhamad who codified exactly what the Qur’an in its present form is, and also developed various methodologies of sorting out what was ‘authentically’ from Muhammad’s teachings against what was not. A process which Muslims say is still ongoing, incidentally.

    So what exactly is this immutable core of Islam that you keep harking back to but cannot define due to it being debated? What exact creedal or other points are there that are immutable? If something is disagreed upon, then it is not immutable…

    [[[[[My mere assertion is that we should take active steps to help Muslims realize the fallacy of Islam and we should circumvent all forms of proselytism.]]]]]
    So we should replace one ideology with another? How can you make someone realise something without any type of proselytism?

    [[[[[Yes, I do realize that people might have a better understanding of Islamic texts than me.]]]]]
    Good, then why present your own thoughts on the issue as if they are both fact and gospel, with no dissent allowed?

    [[[[[I look at different translations and try to find a common consensus between the exegetical views of the ’scholars’ since it gives me a better idea of what was implied.]]]]]
    Yet you presume from there to be able to discuss Islam and {Islam}? I guess the fact that even those who don’t share the professed faith spend years studying religions in university doesn’t count for much these days? Which exegesis are you reading, incidentally? Because there are hundreds. Exegesis is different from translation, although a translation is a type of exegesis.

    [[[[[Ultimately though, I draw my own conclusions as should every individual. Failing to do so would place me next to the blind followers of existing dogma.]]]]]
    Muslim individuals cannot form their own opinions themselves? You do realise that this ‘free-thinking’ attitude is actually what led to the modern movements from which we have the Salafiyya and the likes of al-Qaida right? That they reject the checks and balances of traditional methodologies of exegesis and jurisprudence and draw their own conclusions?

    [[[[[It is not the tradition that defines ‘Muslim’ but individual Muslims who define themselves as ‘Muslim’. For the self annotation to carry any meaning, it of course needs validation from Islam.]]]]]
    The tradition is Muslims defining things themselves in relation to their beliefs. I am not sure why you keep arguing about this point, as you asserted in a previous comment above that “A religious ‘tradition’ definitely defines itself”, agreeing with my {Islam}=Islam (unless otherwise proven), so why are you changing your words now?

    As for your addition of “some” – how more open can you get than saying that someone who utters the testimony of faith (without even needing to believe it in their heart!) is considered Muslim by the generality of the religious community, and that someone who openly admits to not being Muslim, or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim.

    [[[[[Let me see.. How about:
    *Stand up for an irrational principle and preclude one’s objection to other irrationality. Unless of course one is a Hypocrite.
    *Consequently from the first point, a lot of people do become Hypocrites with the, “My irrationality is right but your irrationality is wrong” chant. But then one has to also believe that Hypocrisy is wrong to view this in a negative light.
    *From the second point, we have a lot of people who believe there is nothing wrong with Hypocrisy. Can’t say much to this one!
    ]]]]]

    The world is irrational; human beings are irrational. We are not Vulcan. As Atran basically says – how do we minimise suffering and maximise humanity in the irrational world we live in? That is the key and what we should be concerned about. Plenty of things we do as humanss are irrational, such as all the crazy things people do to impress a girl (or a guy), spending more time in the office as a consumer-slave in order to make money so we can spend it on useless junk (repeat ad nauseum), the fact we all know fast-food is bad for us yet we always go super-size, people who smoke even though full aware of the dangers and its harmful effect on their health… etc. So why pick on only this one ‘irrational’ thing and not the others?

    What is most irrational thus far is your posting style – jumping from one issue to the next without explaining how you came to your position and conclusions, and ignoring opposing points of view and evidence. It is not any type of discussion when this happens.

    Reason is not the same as being reasonable, and this is something often ignored or misunderstood.

  38. dawood permalink
    October 29, 2007 5:09 am

    [[[[[*Then there’s religious collectivism leading to the loss of critical thought.
    *There’s also unnecessary ritualistic pressure on oneself. Waste of human resource, time, thought and money to support the prayer infrastructure. (Though this seems to have a positive effect on some people who find satisfaction in intellectual masochism!)
    *Then there’s the anti-scientific outlook. Evolution is wrong et. al.
    *There’s also the anti-infidel hate and xenophobia. Damn those “worst creatures” (Q.98.6).
    *Now we also have those who evangelize to their children, corrupting innocent minds with nonsensical dogma such as the above.
    ]]]]]
    Any type of collective thinking is detrimental to critical thought – what about in our own times and in the ‘West’? Nazi Germany, or the mass support for the war in Iraq, or Vietnam etc. These are some of the worst human tragedies in history (not just recent history), just to have some perspective. As far as I can see, there is a host of other issues of ‘collevtivism’ which can cause similar effects – nationalism, cultural norms and so on, and if religion is a type of ideology as you agreed above, then it is influenced by all of these social issues, or else it wouldn’t survive. So what exactly is religious, and what is a specific localised expression based on culture or social norms? You are the one who believes Islam!={Islam}, and I am asking for you to provide evidence of this besides what I outlined above (3 key theological doctrines, and the 5 pillars of Islam).

    What type of ritualistic pressure is there? Muslim scholars accepted the status of an individual as Muslim even if they did not practice, as I mentioned above, repeatedly. This is still the case today – observe Muslims in their community and you can clearly see it, it is not that hard to do. Also, what are you defining ‘ritual’ as? There are plenty of other popular ‘rituals’ that cause pressure on people, such as modern consumer-culture, or that it is ‘ritual’ to go out on Friday and Saturday nights to the club and pub, and so on, blowing much hard-earned cash (I am sure we have all done this at least once!). I hardly think using a cup full of water to wash your arms, face and feet, and bending to prostrate on the ground a few times a day causes as much health/social/financial strain or is as detrimental as this…

    Anti-scientific? I have no problem with the concept of evolution, and neither did al-Jahiz in the 9th century or the Brethren of Purity in the 10th; they all developed proto-notions of evolution, not to mention the fields of medicine, zoology and botany, which blossomed later. I don’t see why science has to be antagonistic towards religion at all really. They are different fields. Incidentally, even al-Ghazali thought this.

    Your problem is that you are taking sound-bytes from shoddy translations of classical texts, without seeing what was happening in historical context (I am not just talking in terms of exegetical discourse, but also the wider social and cultural), and also are completely avoiding what contemporary scholars and intellectuals are saying. Like I alluded to above – one major jurist and lawyer wrote a book all about the basis of rights and justice in Islamic law – he was the lawyer who codified the Civil Code of Egypt in the early 40′s as well as that of Iraq and was influential in a number of other countries, so hardly something that could easily be ‘discounted’. Atran and others active in the field are actually getting hard data on what Muslims actually believe on specific issues now, which I would have assumed would be incredibly useful for you as a source.

    [[[[[Its just in the end, Islam is so rigidly antithetical to modern civilization enshrined in liberal secular democracy that the two just can’t co-exist without hurting each other.]]]]]
    Plenty of Muslims in the West are living happily under democracy, with no qualms about it. Many too are living in the ‘Muslim world’ with various modern constructs of government (ranging from lacitie to monarchism and despotism), and may have qualms about some specific issues, but are not exactly up in arms about the situation either. Most Muslims are like every other human being – getting on with their ‘irrational’ lives and trying to provide for their families as best they can. As far as I am aware the whole concept of ubermenschen is a bit outdated and wack, so lets not go there.

    [[[[[Incidentally, what is your opinion on Muslims (and others) imposing religion upon their children?]]]]]
    Parents do all types of irrational things to children – such as randomly coming and picking them up, taking them the back other way from where they were happily crawling and so on… what’s your point? Maybe we need a parenting revolution?

    I believe in giving children an ability to choose to investigate whatever they want for themselves, and to have the necessary thought tools (and other tools) to do so. But you are now drifting even further off-topic than you have been throughout this whole exchange thus far.

    [[[[[Religion feeds “ideologies” and is constrained by its own dogma.]]]]]
    Religion is distinct from ideology? Ideologies have dogma too, even those unconnected to religion.

    [[[[[It isn’t just mine. It is the duty of every human being to encourage freedom of speech, thought and action as long as no foreseeable physical or mental harm is caused to other human beings in the process.

    This philosophy actually precludes me speaking to a bulk of the religious people I know since I’m pretty sure their poor psyche couldn’t live with reality which is pretty stark and cold. Ah well! We all do what we have to. ]]]]]
    That’s completely irrational. But reasonable… this is progress! You are happy to let people believe their delusions because you think that their psyche couldn’t live with ‘reality’?

    [[[[[It is the religious bigots who claim ‘enlightenment’ etc.
    It is the free-thinker who realizes that knowledge is, and will be, incomplete.

    Nice new-age talk. But what is the difference between the religious bigot and 'free-thinker' when they both try to use their 'knowledge' in order to sway peoples opinion one way or the other, often with many of the same mannerisms, attitudes and tactics? Someone being told that what they believe is wrong because of abc, and looked down upon intellectually regardless of what they say is complete nonsense whether it is from an evangelistic religious type, or an evangelistic non-religious type.

    [[[[[What do you stand for?]]]]]
    Liberté , Egalité, Fraternité, for one. But why is that even important? We are discussing the Islamic religion and this concept of it having a ‘core’ teaching that can possibly be at odds with the various {Islams} the Muslim scholars, luminaries and everyday people follow.

  39. dawood permalink
    October 29, 2007 5:10 am

    I wish the comment system had a better method for layout – maybe it is something WordPress can work on in the future! :)

  40. dawood permalink
    October 30, 2007 1:56 am

    Just thought I would summarise a number of key points discussed thus far for clarity:

    1) You cite the Pew report as ‘evidence’, so: How do you reconcile the decline for support of terror with your concept of an infallible ‘core’ of Islamic teachings?

    2) What is this ‘core’ exactly? You are still avoiding giving a concrete definition of this, although you keep asserting it throughout this exchange. You mention that it is “rigid and highly resistant to change. It was defined by Muhammad and possibly his sycophants and their descendants“, but give no concrete definition of what this is apart from some vague notion that it includes the Qur’an.

    3) If you go with “belief in the Qur’an” as a core, then how does that follow that one has to necessarily accept all the other vague assertions you have made about Islam since the beginning? Plenty of people believe in the Qur’an and are radically different in their understanding of Islam – Yuksel compared to mainstream Sunni or Shi’a Muslims, for example, all share this belief.

    4) “If you have data over a twenty year period showing declining fanaticism… one simply can’t ignore the existing percentages. They are just too large.” Can you show the evidence and percentages that you have as data over a twenty year period (or more?) to show the opposite of the trend asserted in the Pew report? In the same post you claimed that there is no long-term research available in this area so the conclusion on it is open. I would suggest that further studies should be done every few years so an accurate trend can be measured, but this much change in only two is very promising!

    5) How do you reconcile (3) with the fact that this type of terrorist movement did not exist more than around 40-50 years ago? (something most political historians and others generally agree upon).

    6) Again, how does (4) affect your assertion of a ‘core’?

    7) “The data suggests that people living in Islamic countries hold rather negative opinions of non-Muslims” Yet the data cited by Atran, which includes a study of over 10,000, people shows that this is not the case and rates atheists as having a negative opinion about others as highly as any other monotheist of religious persuasion.

    8) “Still, there are probably hundreds of millions of fundamentalists out there. Not to mention, Islam itself is incompatible with human rights, secularism, liberal democracy and freedom of speech and thought. Oh yeah! It is plainly false as well.” Nice academic approach to the issue you have going there, ‘probably’ can give a lot of information. Including the thinly-veiled (and direct) ad hominems towards me and all.

    9) “[I said]‘Isn’t an ideology ultimately defined and articulated by its adherents (which is what religion ultimately is after all the mumbo-jumbo is taken away)?’
    [You replied] Quite true. And the Pew survey puts forward that definition far more clearly than you do.
    ” – so when I make the equation that for all intents and purposes Islam={Islam}, why do you now disagree with this? The ideology is being defined by its followers… Again, this harkens back to question (2).

    10) “My earlier statement finds evidence not just in the Pew report, but in Islamic history, the present state of the Islamic world, the actions of the founders of Islam and my personal experiences while interacting with hundreds of Muslims of varying geographical background, education and age.” – Which specific incidents in Islamic history? Which specific actions of the ‘founders of Islam’? You have obviously interacted with a fair number of Muslims by your own account, so do you have any published studies based on this? If so, then please cite so we can all be on the same wavelength, otherwise they are nothing more than assertions and opinion. I could equally state “due to my experiences in interacting with thousands of Muslims of varying ethnic, gender and educational backgrounds, it leads me to believe the opposite of what you assert”, then where does that leave us? Not really very far, except I am not the one trying to defend this idea of an inalienable ‘core’ of Islam that all Muslims must share.

    11) You do realise that this ‘free-thinking’ attitude you are talking about led to the likes of al-Qaida right? Because their opinions and endeavours remain unmitigated by the weight of orthodoxy and traditional exegetical methodologies etc.

    12) Why pick on only this one ‘irrational’ thing and not the others? You keep harping on about Islam and Islamic terrorism etc. when people in the West are far more likely to die of all manner of other ‘irrational’ things than be caught up in something related to this. If you were concerned specifically about what is happening in the Middle East and so on, then you may have a point.

    13) Why don’t you find the hard data that Atran and others are gathering in the field useful for your own purposes? Surely this data is invaluable in understanding the relationship between religion, society, culture and history, as well as specifically giving information regarding profiles of terrorists and so on?

  41. October 31, 2007 4:19 am

    “That said, I’d seek a clarification of intent before I judged her as a person.”

    If you ever get that clarification – I’d genuinely would love to hear it (not being sarcastic here).

    Sam – we have no difference of opinion in terms of fundementalists and the threat that they pose to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Where we differ is where we each think the Muslim majority opinion lies on human rights abuses. I believe that the common Muslim does not advocate such practices regardless of what their oppressive governments insist is “Islamic”. If we take a look at spousal abuse – a friend had forwarded a certain video from Memri which showed the interview of a wife beater: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZxG2RdZPL8&NR=1 Now – some would look at this and say .. look how Islam justifies wife beating but I look at it and see a man on the hot spot – being ridiculed, mocked and the male reporter who is interviewing him seems genuinely disturbed by the way this man interprets what is “Islamic”. Now – this is a news program from SA – where the man has commited no crime by beating his wife .. but this incident created an uproar in terms of what happened and it is pretty amazing to have read some of the criticism this man recieved. Let’s go on to stonings – check out this post: http://samaha.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/call-for-action/ which explains the difficulties that these human beings face in terms of just trying to make changes – and still you have women on the streets protesting in masses! Stoning trials are gaining attendence and protests by these citizens. Look at the photos on this post where Pakistani’s are fighting for democracy – excerpt:

    “We refuse to acknowledge that the majority has proven time and again its commitment to a safe, secure and free existence for all.
    The pictures you see here are not the masks of rage you are accustomed to see – these are lawyers, civil servants, public officials, the great backbone – the middle class – of any country.

    And they are fighting in the street for justice and democracy. These are the forces we should be supporting. These are the people who we need to be on our side. These are the people whom we should stand by.

    You may call it ‘paradoxical’ but the only solution against extremists is democracy – not the support of dictatorships.”

    http://www.chapatimystery.com/yearlykos_talk – you can see the photos there.

    In regards to infidels – honestly Sam – I haven’t gone there but I wouldn’t expect that the majority of Muslims believe it is okay to slay infidels.

    You and I both agree that democracy is the solution. It works here in the US and yet we still have a huge number of people that base their opinions and votes on their religious views. Creating a “shari’a” based democracy that I discussed earlier wouldn’t be much different. Making these countries – ALL countries adhere to human rights declarations would be the solution to the “fundementalist” politician. However, we have to demand this on a global level – even the US will not sign certain human rights declarations which makes this task a difficult one.

    “The best solution to this issue is – Rationally disprove the irrational and barbaric ideology that drives the fanatics since it would then be far less likely to be able to corrupt normal people.”

    I agree with this statement – however – again, I have issues with this:

    “Islam must be consigned to the sands of time past. Non-Political {Islam} might survive sans Islam and, like reform Judaism and liberal Christianity today, play a chiefly ceremonial and cultural role with some theology thrown in.”

    See now, I’m going to have to ask you to disassociate your ideals from what is ideal and reasonable to expect. The problem right now in the “Islamic” world is not that Islam has entered state – rather the problem is that state has entered Islam. It is the state that is setting “Islamic” curriculums, the state that is deeming “Islamic” and “not-Islamic” – the public knows this. The only way to get to a liberal secular democracy in the “Islamic” world is to get state out of Islam and not vice versa .. and that we know is not going to be easy but it will be easier than what you are proposing and more likely to happen. It doesn’t mean that there would never be complete separation of mosque and state within these countries nor does it mean that I wouldn’t support that but it would truelly have to be a democratic decision on the part of “Muslims” and if it is as you say in regards to closet apostates then you know it will come eventually.

    “The simpler and better explanation is that the “perception” that the damage and casualties caused by the war don’t justify the gains to be achieved by it, has slowly set in.”

    Which war are we talking about? Palestinian/Israeli conflict? Iraq? The terrorism war? These perceptions are changing in countries that aren’t even affected by these wars. Let’s however concentrate that their perception has changed – again – that perception can not just simply be attributed to Islam being the culprit as I can not now go and say .. well these numbers are changing so these people must now be comming to the realization that this isn’t “Islamic”.

    If we take a look at polls done of palestinians – you will see that immediately after Arafat’s death there were SHARP declines in support of suicide bombings .. the numbers showed sharp rises in those supporting peace .. those numbers were all quite drastic in change. Why? Maybe because they could finally see a peaceful solution possible with this man out of the picture.

    I’ll do some research – but I’m pretty sure there actually is an article out there that points out the rise and decline in polls of Palestinians directly related to what was going on within the palestinian/israeli conflict.

    “Also, the point is not whether the people the Pew survey highlights that {Islam} justifies the actions of Osama. The point is that the mindset of the sampled Muslims who support violence against civilians, influenced to some degree by {Islam} (which in turn is shaped by Islam), accepts this barbarism as normal and supports it.”

    You’re spoiled Sam – we’re all spoiled. We really have no idea what it is like to live in these oppressive, conflict ridden societies. Neither your statements nor my statements in regard to this can be looked at as the “more probable” as their are really no controls to our statements, to the way these questions poll questions are asked.

    more later

  42. October 31, 2007 7:42 pm

    continued:

    Sam – moving on to the next few paragraphs .. correct me if I’m wrong but thru all of your complaining about Islam and it’s existence and the problem with it’s existence – your main complaint is allowing freedom of speech within these oppressive countries? Hey – I’m all with you on that one – if you actually take note .. Western Muslims are with you on this one .. Muslims in those countries are with you.

    You are absolutely right – I have no doubt that freedom of speech will be the downfall of fundamentalists.

    What I take issue with is the way in which you choose to get to your points. Throughout all of these comments you spend so much time talking about “Irrational ideologies” follwed by “evident in Islam” “irrationality of Islam” “predatory nature” couple that with statements that you make trying to tie in actions and opinions of predominantly muslim countries as a direct result of Islam and you thereby create an illusion that the majority of Muslims are fundamentalists. In my opinion, you are doing exactly that which you blame Islam for. You are as well feeding on basal human emotions such as fear. Now, I realize that this may not be your intention and if the state of affairs in the world were different I wouldn’t give a shit about what you said or how you said it.

    However, this is the view of 4 Muslim countries surveyed by worldpublicopinion.org:

    “Large majorities across all four countries believe the United States seeks to “weaken and divide the Islamic world.” On average 79 percent say they perceive this as a US goal, ranging from 73 percent in Indonesia and Pakistan to 92 percent in Egypt. Equally large numbers perceive that the United States is trying to maintain “control over the oil resources of the Middle East” (average 79%). Strong majorities (average 64%) even believe it is a US goal to “spread Christianity in the region.”

    “While US leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the Islamic world clearly perceive the US as being at war with Islam,” said Steven Kull, editor of WorldPublicOpinion.org.”

    So I tend to see your arguments as detrimental to progress within Muslim countries. While this may not be your intention these very arguments fuel far right politics and in the end .. such is an injustice to humanity. In the end you will have contributed to this us vs. them mentality more than my post ever could. Looking over my post again – I really don’t even see it. Yes, it is an appeal to you and everyone that reads it to see it through my eyes but in no way does it justify or excuse the reasons that Hirsi Ali is in need of protection. Hirsi Ali appeals to the public through her own experience. Her perceptions of Islam come through personal experiences .. this doesn’t make her statements accurate .. and I don’t even go there. It’s a mirror image of the exact opposite yet my post still stresses how we are different. And it was my intention that any Muslim that reads this doesn’t look at this as us vs. them – rather it was my intention to show that even after all the people that I lost in Bosnia – I still could not despise the Hirsi Alis and Salman Rushdies that I believe are detrimental to what should be a common goal of human rights. Not only that – I go on to talk about supporting freedom of speech. Nowhere in my post do you see me blaming the entire western civilization for what happened to my people and let me tell you Sam – it is slim pickings to find a Bosnian that would blame “The Western Civilization” for what happened to them or accuse “the western civilization” of being Nazi like with the goal of exterminating them. I’m done defending this post to you.

    Oh.. by the way .. while I was on worldpublicopinion.org – I ran accross these numbers on freedom of religion:

    “Support for human rights appears to be strong, even extending to the freedom to practice any religion. Respondents were asked whether in their own country “people of any religion should be free to worship according to their own beliefs” On average 82 percent said they shoud (63% strongly). Indonesians were the most emphatic supporters of freedom of religion: 93% supported it (82% strongly). In Egypt, almost nine out of ten (88%) agreed including 78% who strongly agreed) Pakistanis also strongly affirmed freedom of worship: 84% agreed (64% strongly). The only country that did not express overwhelming support for this principle is Morrocco, though a robust 63 percent majority of Morroccans agree (29% strongly)”

    Take a look at the whole report as it does go into the views of civillian casualties, violence, views on Osama – separating how they feel about violence within al-qaeda and their views on al-qaeda goals, and also separates issues – asking for opinion and what is Islamic. I think that this particular report does a better job of getting at how perceptions are formed within these Muslim countries. I think it addresses your issues of the culpability of Islam shaping a portion of the basal ethical grounding of Muslims as well – heck it stands up to task for the rest of our poll arguments.

    There is a link to the full report here: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/346.php?nid=&id=&pnt=346&lb=hmpg2

    “Please note that while you and I might interpret Islamic texts in a certain way, unless we infringe upon the rights of all Muslims to do the same we simply can’t circumvent the rights of the fanatics to draw crazy conclusions from the book.

    Who are you and I to say that the “moderate” school of thought is better or worse from an Islamic exegetical perspective when there is no rational objectivity whatsoever?”

    No Sam, we can’t infringe upon the rights of all Muslims to to the same and no we can not circumvent the rights of fanatics to draw crazy conclusions from the book.

    What we can do is circumvent crazy actions that come from these fanatics by having the necessary laws to do so – within these Muslim countries. What I’m trying to get at is that once the oppressive governments come down and when these laws start being made through legislature that allows a democratic right of the people to have say (and the polls I listed earlier show the majority leaning towards human rights) it is then up to them to make sure that those psychotic forms of sharia do not get applied. The difference we have is that I have faith that they would. You ask of me to differentiate Islam from Muslim – now you do the same. (on a side note – I said earlier that I can’t differentiate Islam from Muslim – I can, I do but in this case when arguing on this matter .. your ideology I won’t as I don’t believe everyone else is capable of it – thought I should clarify.)

    more later..

  43. November 1, 2007 1:50 am

    continued..

    “The weakest links of the sharia-democracy you talk about are the highly flawed assumptions that ALL Muslims want to live under Sharia, that you need a majority of Muslims to democratically impose Sharia AND that the children of Muslims are Muslims. (If you wish for me to elaborate more, I can)”

    Considering that the majority of Muslims in majority Muslim countries would like to live under sharia (according to the poll i refered you to earlier) my views on a sharia democracy are justified. Wherever their children may stand on whether they are Muslim or not – such system could work without as you are so worried forcing them to be believers. Even our founding fathers and our laws here in the United States have had religious influence – it would be no different – as long as basic human rights issues are addressed and made sacred – as we try to do here. In a democracy legislation and laws evolve based on the needs of it’s citizens. The same would happen in a sharia based democracy under the right circumstances.

    You ask this:

    “Why is it not child abuse to indoctrinate children with any irrational and anti-scientific ideology or religion? Specially with one that is statistically correlated with some of the most xenophobic and misogynistic societies of the present day world?”

    and I give you this:

    “How on earth can any peace be achieved with the likes of Mickey Mouse, I mean “Farfour” propogating and inculcating children with violence being the means to “returning the Islamic community to its former greatness”?

    Furthermore, can we as Muslims continue to make statements like this:

    “It’s the fault of both (Israel and the Palestinians),” said Samir Zakkout, from the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. “If Palestinians had peace, children wouldn’t learn violence.”

    Children have been traumatized by bloodshed in the course of Israeli attacks and Palestinian infighting, he said.

    “There’s been a collapse of values,” he said. “If I can kill my enemy, I can kill my brother.””

    full entry here: http://samaha.wordpress.com/2007/05/09/farfour-i-mean-mickey-mouse-donald-duck-mickey-mouse/

    Yes there is a problem and something has to be done as children are being exploited.

    However to make one clarification – science is taught in Muslim countries regardless of whether you think it clashes with Islam or not. Most Muslims see science compatible with Islam. You don’t have the arguments over Intelligent design in these countries because this isn’t an issue – they aren’t actively looking to change science curriculum to suit religion. As far as I have learned from friends that grew up in these countries they learned about Darwin and the big bang theory and they have no clash of science and religion.

    “Despite things being the way they are, we need people who yet aspire to an ideal and work to turn it into reality. It doesn’t matter what the masses think or say.”

    And just what ideal should that be? If this is about bringing positive change to the Muslim world and basic human rights throughout those countries through reasonable means – I’m with you. However .. if you’re looking to push your ideal that the only way to bring about change within the Muslim world is by ridding the world of Islam regardless of it being through intellectual means or non-violent means – we’re in for a lot more debating.

    At least we agree on no one’s suffering justifies excusing any actions in the present day world. Still no suffering should be forgotten – we should not forget the holocaust, the armenian genocide, the darfur genocide, the nameless genocides that have happened as we can learn from these things – how propoganda plays a role, how the masses were moved to these atrocities and so on and so forth. But .. if I may point out .. you did pass judgement on me before making sure of my intent .. so we all make mistakes.

  44. Sam permalink
    November 4, 2007 12:33 am

    Dawood and Samaha. I’m sorry I can’t quite dedicate enough time to this conversation since it just seems to be ballooning out of proportion. My responses might be slow.

    Dawood, I agree with most of what you are saying. Unfortunately, most Muslims do not. The version of {Islam} you talk of is unto the {Islam} that the Pew Polls indicate as chalk is to cheese. Your statement of the Quran being codified and verified by humans being a problem sealed that. I have not heard a single Muslim speak of the Quran in a light that could even vaguely admit the possibility that it has been corrupted by human hands or that its content has not been preserved since its composition. If they did, in general, realize this, orthodox fundamentalism would disappear.

    ~”What exact creedal or other points are there that are immutable? If something is disagreed upon, then it is not immutable…”

    Precisely. Please go and explain that to the bulk of the Muslims (and the Christians and Jews etc etc).

    ~”How can you make someone realise something without any type of proselytism?”

    Please allow me the transgression of redirecting you to http://www.dictionary.com yet again.

    “pros·e·ly·tize (prs-l-tz)
    v. pros·e·ly·tized, pros·e·ly·tiz·ing, pros·e·ly·tiz·es
    v.intr.
    1. To induce someone to convert to one’s own religious faith.
    2. To induce someone to join one’s own political party or to espouse one’s doctrine.”

    The transfer of knowledge is independent of the transfer of opinion. The latter translates to proselytism, specially when intellectual agnosticism is buried under the blanket of faith.

    If the difference is still not clear to you, I would suggest a trip to your “university” for the purposes of learning about something better than religion.

    ~”I guess the fact that even those who don’t share the professed faith spend years studying religions in university doesn’t count for much these days?”

    It doesn’t count for scrap. Are you implying that academic studies of religion lead to a better understanding of people who follow them than direct opinion polls?

    ~”You do realise that this ‘free-thinking’ attitude is actually what led to the modern movements from which we have the Salafiyya and the likes of al-Qaida right? That they reject the checks and balances of traditional methodologies of exegesis and jurisprudence and draw their own conclusions?”

    That is a plainly visible consequence of the inherent bellicose barbarism and medieval fundamentalism of Islam. It is a constraint satisfaction problem where public opinion is influenced by religious constraints and one of the solutions of the same happens to be the likes of Al-Quaeda.

    Rejecting ‘free-thinking’ would be idiotic. What needs to be rejected are the illogical and irrational religious constraints that are imposed on ‘free-thinking’ by religions.

    ~”I am not sure why you keep arguing about this point, as you asserted in a previous comment above that “A religious ‘tradition’ definitely defines itself”, agreeing with my {Islam}=Islam (unless otherwise proven), so why are you changing your words now?”

    Man. You really do have issues with comprehension.

    ‘A religious tradition’ = {Islam} in its entirety.
    And {Islam} defines itself.

    So your statement is actually {Islam} = {Islam} (unless otherwise proven).

    ~”and that someone who openly admits to not being Muslim, or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim.”

    So let me shatter your own illusion. If you assert that Islam is essentially {Islam} then all judgment applied by anyone to anyone who associates with Islam is essentially irrational. This is because each person defines {Islam} for him/herself.

    On the other hand you yourself said, “or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim”.

    Thus you negate the assumption that each person defines {Islam} for himself by asserting that other people may judge deeds “clearly antithetical to this”.

    The “clearly antithetical to this” is Islam.

    Thus {Islam} is not equal to Islam.

    ~”The world is irrational; human beings are irrational. We are not Vulcan. As Atran basically says – how do we minimise suffering and maximise humanity in the irrational world we live in? That is the key and what we should be concerned about. Plenty of things we do as humanss are irrational, such as all the crazy things people do to impress a girl (or a guy), spending more time in the office as a consumer-slave in order to make money so we can spend it on useless junk (repeat ad nauseum), the fact we all know fast-food is bad for us yet we always go super-size, people who smoke even though full aware of the dangers and its harmful effect on their health… etc. So why pick on only this one ‘irrational’ thing and not the others?”

    Your entire argument has resolved to “I’m right in being irrational because some other people are irrational”. But as I said before, there isn’t much you can do to defend something so irrational and plainly false as Islam.

    My point is proved. It was nice talking to you.

  45. Sam permalink
    November 4, 2007 8:40 pm

    Dawood:

    Regarding the rest of your post. I’m sorry I haven’t enough time these days to answer it in its entirety. There were three major points, {Islam} & Islam, Free-thinking & Circular reinforcement of irrationality, all of which I have discussed.

    As for the rest, if you wish I will explicitly answer it but it might take some time.

  46. Sam permalink
    November 4, 2007 8:41 pm

    Samaha:

    ~”Now – some would look at this and say .. look how Islam justifies wife beating”

    Islam doesn’t need to “justify” wife-beating. That would imply trying to be defensive about something that isn’t accepted in general. There is a need for justification only when the point would objectively be viewed in a negative light.

    Clearly the man, and at the very least a significant number of people in positions of power in Saudi Arabia, don’t find anything objectively wrong with wife beating. Such is the level of barbarity that the uproar isn’t over the incident itself but over the intensity with which it found expression.

    Islam doesn’t “justify” wife beating. It allows it.

    Verse 4.34 clearly allows wife beating and outlines the procedure to follow in the path that leads to it. That is Islamic dogma. Whether you and I agree or disagree with that is another issue.

    You would need to “justify” 4.34 to yourself IF AND ONLY IF you disagree with the sentiment objectively. For it is then that you would need to choose another bias to compare it to and validate it. Just as you did when you spoke about the man and his interviewer. Justification in this specific context implies guilt and shame.

    While one might blame this yet again on culture & human irrationality. I ask, what good is Islam if it can’t so much as help people who have lived in its heartland climb out of such barbarism even after multiple centuries?

    ~”but this incident created an uproar in terms of what happened and it is pretty amazing to have read some of the criticism this man recieved.”

    You know the rot is really deep when the reaction to incidents such as this boils down to “criticism and uproar”.

    I know you might view the “criticism and uproar” as a positive sign. I do too. Its definitely better than a couple of decades ago when slave markets used to thrive in Saudi Arabia.

    But, I hope you also see that, objectively, there is a long long way to go before one can even vaguely champion the case of these people and the {Islamic} cultures that they represent in modern day society.

    Samaha. I understand that Islam is where Christianity was in the dark ages. There are loads of crazy powerful people who make themselves heard and felt, very few sane people who are vocal enough to project a presence.

    Notwithstanding, why should we tolerate something that, at the very least, will take multiple generations to even hope to come within sighting distance of a basic liberal and secular values?

    Simple rule of the majority “Democracy” is akin to collectivism unless it has the tag of “Liberal-Secular & Rational” behind it.

    We definitely need to support the fight of the saner bunch. But as a whole, Literal Islamic dogma (or that of any religion for that matter) has no place in today’s or tomorrow’s world.

    ~”You may call it ‘paradoxical’ but the only solution against extremists is democracy – not the support of dictatorships.””

    It isn’t paradoxical at all. When you have a centralized figure to oppose, it serves as a rallying point for the fundamentalists to create an ummah-ghetto if you may call it that.

    When you’re battling a democracy, there is no defined entity to rally against and the ummah disintegrates gradually into localized groups which compete and co-exist with each other. Human beings don’t relate well to groups at a macro level unless there is a common enemy. These days it is the West.

    The fundamentalists realize this quite well and use rhetoric against the imaginary ‘crafty infidel’ out to attack/destroy Islam. You’ve bought into these theories yourself as was evident by your us-vs-them sentiment.

    ~”The only way to get to a liberal secular democracy in the “Islamic” world is to get state out of Islam and not vice versa ..”

    A logical fallacy.

    The state is built upon an asymmetric allocation of power to a select few. The basis of the allocation might be democratic or whatever, but in the end it is the select few who are the essence of the state.

    Since the select few in Islamic countries carry with them the baggage of Islam, the state reflects what they are.

    As such, in this case, it is Islam which influences people who in turn corrupt the state with Islamic dogma.

    ~”and that we know is not going to be easy but it will be easier than what you are proposing and more likely to happen.”

    Islam is an irrational and false socio-economic-politico-theological-millitaristic ideology and not recognizing it to be the same needlessly complicates the battle against Islamic fundamentalism and extremism.

    The simplest and best solution is to just shatter it at its weakest link. And the weakest link of {Islam} is Islam. Defeats the ideological grounding of the fanatics and helps the moderates step out of their self-imposed (and seemingly quite harmless) world of irrationality.

    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man”
    G.B.Shaw

    ~”We really have no idea what it is like to live in these oppressive, conflict ridden societies. Neither your statements nor my statements in regard to this can be looked at as the “more probable” as their are really no controls to our statements, to the way these questions poll questions are asked.”

    There are conflict ridden societies outside the Islamic world as well.

    And while you and I might not have proper controls, the polls do have suitable ones. Again, as I said earlier, I don’t take them as hard fact, merely as one of the many variables to refer to when I draw my conclusions about Islam. The more variables one takes, the more the likelihood of drawing the correct conclusion. And there are enough variables that one may measure when it comes to Islam.

    “Hey – I’m all with you on that one – if you actually take note .. Western Muslims are with you on this one .. Muslims in those countries are with you.”

    And I’m with people like you! That’s something I’ve been trying to stress all along. We need to leave the us-vs-them behind. :)

    ~”Throughout all of these comments you spend so much time talking about “Irrational ideologies” follwed by “evident in Islam” “irrationality of Islam” “predatory nature” couple that with statements that you make trying to tie in actions and opinions of predominantly muslim countries as a direct result of Islam and you thereby create an illusion that the majority of Muslims are fundamentalists.”

    The opinion polls clearly show that a massive number (the majority in many cases) of the people in Islamic countries indeed have fundamentalist mindsets.

    What is there to dispute?

    The poll you yourself cited states, “Large majorities agree with many of its goals, but believe that terrorist attacks on civilians are contrary to Islam.”.

    The fundamentalist majority have the potential to become fanatics. Fundamentalism is all pervasive in almost every Islamic country. One has to be blind not to see it. It is imperative that we take measures to pull people back from fanaticism.

    Islamic fundamentalism is a problem that needs to be solved and we have the tools (peaceful and rational) to solve it. We just need to frame the problem and a solution and push it to the point where people go ahead and do things to address it.

    ~”While US leaders may frame the conflict as a war on terrorism, people in the Islamic world clearly perceive the US as being at war with Islam”

    It is inevitable for fundamentalists to draw this conclusion. The war on terrorism involves the use of physical force against the fanatics.

    The contention with literal Islam is ideological and the active resistance to it exists in the words of people. Liberal Secular Democracy and literal Islam can’t coexist in the long term. Huntington seemed to have got quite a few things right. It is a war of ideologies.

    Also, regarding the poll you cited. While [“people of any religion should be free to worship according to their own beliefs”] is a very good sign, this alone is is inconclusive when you’re making a point to suggest a huge bulk of the people aren’t fundamentalist for the following reasons:

    1. Supporting the right to follow another religion doesn’t necessarily translate into holding favorable or even neutral opinions of it. The Pew poll demonstrates this.

    2. The right to follow another religion doesn’t necessarily mean the non-Islamic religions are at the same legal/social pedestal that Islam is held at.

    3. Does this also include religious freedom when it came to their own person? How would these people view their children or family if they apostasized?

    4. This in no way implies secularism since a secular framework has many more broad ranging repercussions to, pointedly, but not confined to, education, jurisprudence, public policy, social systems, civil law, etc etc.. The reek of Sharia (in its best possible present day form) in these is an abhorrent idea.

    5. From your poll, you also have:

    * “large majorities agree with goals that involve expanding the role of Islam in their society.”
    * “On average, about three out of four agree with seeking to “require Islamic countries to impose a strict application of sharia,”
    * and to “keep Western values out of Islamic countries.”
    * Two-thirds would even like to “unify all Islamic counties into a single Islamic state or caliphate.””.

    You were talking about separation of Islam and the state? Islam is a malevolent ideology that doesn’t allow for this. Please stop deceiving yourself.

    6. And the bigger thing is that the hate isn’t confined to the US bogeyman. This specific survey is not general enough and it fallaciously seems to suggest that the xenophobia is directed towards to the US alone and would be resolved if the US changed its mid-East policies. Given the Islamic terrorism and separatism that exists in Europe, Africa, Russia, India and South-East Asia, this percept is clearly false.

    7. Again. Democracy IS NOT EQUAL TO Secular Liberal Democracy. The polls clearly indicate support for some sort of Sharia based Democracy; This is an asinine idea at best if you want a Secular Liberal environment.

    As such, I wouldn’t draw the conclusions you did.

    You are simply taking the best out of the worst and generalizing on that basis to try to indicate that a massive number of the people living in Islamic countries are not fundamentalists.

    It seems to me that you first try your best to reconcile and justify Islam as you see it in today’s world to yourself. Justification is the first sign of shame.

    As is evident from your posts, you can clearly see for yourself that the polls that sample the reality of the present day Islamic world suggest an Islam you can’t associate with. But you seem to be so deeply entangled in the web of your religion that accepting this realization that Islam is incompatible with liberal secular values at the conceptual and implementation level would be tantamount to being a heretic.

    This is where the issue of your interpretation comes in. You may build a dreamworld with a perfect {Islam}. However, given a large enough populace, your perfect {Islam} will generally tend to move towards literal Islam due to the likelihood of some people to choose the fanatic interpretations instead of yours. This is where the polls help one conclude that because Islam is so inherently flawed, at the level of the people who follow it, it will tend to produce a significant fanatic streak in any long run.

    As such, you seem to have built a sugar coated shell of Islam for yourself as all diet-Muslims do. Focusing on the ostensibly harmless, and justifying the rest with ‘its ok if some people are irrational barbarians because other irrational barbarians exist in the world’. This is one of the two lines of defense for Islam that almost all people who stand up for it, boil down to.

    Since you come from an area or society where fanatic Islamist sentiments might be voiced to a lesser degree, you might not relate to my words to the extent that I do. But then… I’m not one to force my opinion on you. It is entirely your choice to believe in what you think is right.

    ~”So I tend to see your arguments as detrimental to progress within Muslim countries. While this may not be your intention these very arguments fuel far right politics and in the end .. such is an injustice to humanity. In the end you will have contributed to this us vs. them mentality more than my post ever could.”

    You apply my arguments about Islam to Muslim. This self-generalization causes you to feel they are detrimental.

    If you haven’t already divined so, my distrust of the ideological basis of the religious right in the US parallels my distrust of Islam. While your rationale might seem valid from your perspective, my arguments apply equally well to the ideologies of the religious far right.

    At a fundamental level they are both the same. Two sets of people screaming “I’m wrong, I know you’re wrong, but you’re wrong and I’m right because I “know” that my wrong is better than your wrong”.

    And rational arguments work with both these sets. I have seen enough people realize the irrationality of Islam through these discussions to know it. Faith in an illogical ideology is easy to shatter. Human beings, after all, deep down are all the same. They all want to be happy, they want to follow an ideal with conviction and they need purpose in life. All of which can be achieved sans the barbarity of Islam.

    ~”it is slim pickings to find a Bosnian that would blame “The Western Civilization” for what happened to them or accuse “the western civilization” of being Nazi like with the goal of exterminating them.”

    Couldn’t it be possible that this is is because it was “The Western Civilization” which came to their rescue?

    ~”What we can do is circumvent crazy actions that come from these fanatics by having the necessary laws to do so – within these Muslim countries.”

    Q: Who defines whether the crazy actions are truly crazy?
    A: The majority, which seems to be fundamentalist anyway.

    Q: Given that, “it is then up to them to make sure that those psychotic forms of sharia do not get applied”, what goes to say they won’t want those psychotic forms of sharia?
    A: Nothing. If the polls are an indicator, the majority probably want some semi-psychotic form of Sharia at the very least.

    That is why democracy alone is no solution if you want the Islamic countries to progress to the level of western liberal secular democracy.

  47. Sam permalink
    November 4, 2007 8:47 pm

    ~”science is taught in Muslim countries regardless of whether you think it clashes with Islam or not. Most Muslims see science compatible with Islam.”

    Samaha, you are really optimistic. While there is insufficient hard data to talk about every Islamic country, Turkey, Islam’s shining star, scores miserably when it comes to the percentage of people who believe in Evolution.
    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2006/08/well_at_least_w.html

    And almost all the Muslims I have spoken to, reject evolution. I would recommend trying a talk at your local mosque (which caters to people from the Middle East to Pakistan) about how Evolution is objectively valid (without throwing in a huge amount of hyperbole of how the Quran supports it blah blah). I would like to hear about how people respond.

    I must mention here that the US fares quite badly when it comes to evolution as well.

    ~”how propoganda plays a role, how the masses were moved to these atrocities and so on and so forth.”

    I get your point.

    The solution is not propaganda, but free thought coupled with a will to ensure such for everyone. The masses need to be moved to action that doesn’t involve violence. We’ll find a solution.

    ~”But .. if I may point out .. you did pass judgement on me before making sure of my intent .. so we all make mistakes.”

    I’m sorry if I did. And you are right here as well. We all do make mistakes.

    “And just what ideal should that be? If this is about bringing positive change to the Muslim world and basic human rights throughout those countries through reasonable means – I’m with you.”

    While we work to achieve our ends, on the ones that do converge, I’m completely with you. But unless you can somehow reconcile a liberal modernized {Islam} to modern science and liberal secular democracy, I’m afraid we’ll always have some divergent goals as well.

    Cheers.

  48. Sam permalink
    November 4, 2007 8:49 pm

    Hmm… I can’t seem to post replies… It accepts them but they don’t show up. Does anyone else have this problem?

  49. dawood permalink
    November 5, 2007 2:37 am

    Sam, firstly, if you ask any Muslim about the Qur’an they will tell you two things: 1) that they believe it is from God as vocalised by Muhammad, and 2) It is oral (qara’a means recitation) and was codified by the first four caliphs after Muhammad died. Not only that, but that it has been memorized and passed down by pious Muslims until this day. How can that “seal” anything?

    I said:”What exact creedal or other points are there that are immutable? If something is disagreed upon, then it is not immutable…”
    You replied: Precisely.

    You are the one who said that Islam!={Islam} and I asked you to provide proof of exactly what this Islam is that you keep talking about. Now you are changing your mind? One one hand you are asserting that the Qur’an or whatever asserts specific things that can justify terrorism, yet now you are focusing solely on statistical data which comes from {Islam} as the populace understands and practices. So which is it?

    ‘A religious tradition’ = {Islam} in its entirety.
    And {Islam} defines itself.

    So your statement is actually {Islam} = {Islam} (unless otherwise proven).

    What I am stating (and serious non-Muslim academics in the field of Islamic Studies agree with me – the likes of Ira Lapidus for a start) is that this core of Islam that you keep talking about – even if you simply mean the Qur’an and whatever else Muhammad taught – was codified and defined by later generations of Muslims themselves, starting with Muhammads followers. The schools of law, theology, Sufism and so on all developed in a historical context. So did Salafism, which is not “medieval” as you assert, but very, very modern.

    If the difference is still not clear to you, I would suggest a trip to your “university” for the purposes of learning about something better than religion.

    Well, I am in my University most days, thank you very much. Saying as my teacher studied under Bernard Lewis and a host of other people, I would take his experience in the area of Arabic and Islamic Studies over your circular baseless arguments any day. I am only studying in one of the top five arts faculties in the world, but hey, its not Stanford or Yale so maybe I am missing out on something.

    It doesn’t count for scrap. Are you implying that academic studies of religion lead to a better understanding of people who follow them than direct opinion polls?,/i>

    Well, it does account for something, especially studying this Islam as opposed to {Islam} thing that you keep harping on about and I keep asking you to prove or quantify (which you have not yet done). I would have thought that this would be kind of important saying as you seem to base your whole critique of Islam as a religion upon this fact, yet cannot even seem to quantify it when I ask you a simple question.

    The “clearly antithetical to this” is Islam.

    But this is defined by scholars and intellectuals over time and codified in to an “orthodoxy” (which is constantly developing and changing). So how can this be immutable? Again, quantify and explain exactly what you are meaning by this term instead of being vague; surely if it is so black-and-white, it shouldn’t be that hard?

    But based on the content of your last post, it seems to me that you are using weasel words and generalities in order to avoid discussing key topics (such as the root of your evaluation of Islam) and sidestep my repeated questions. My questions were simply asking you to define your terms – a serious intellectual discussion cannot be held unless we can both define where we are coming from. My stance is as above (which you obviously disagree with) yet you have not even replied to a single question that I have asked multiple times on this comment alone, never mind all those previously.

  50. Sam permalink
    November 5, 2007 5:19 am

    Ok. This website isn’t allowing me to post anything longer than a couple of lines. I’ll try posting again later.

  51. dawood permalink
    November 5, 2007 7:32 am

    If you have used a lot of html/xhtml tags (especially

    ) then it doesn’t seem to work. I think it’s a flaw with the wordpress commenting system.

  52. dawood permalink
    November 5, 2007 7:33 am

    wow, interesting. It works with blockquote now yet didn’t before. :o/

  53. November 5, 2007 6:33 pm

    Sam – comment number 49 should be the comment that you had problems with – it was thrown into spam.

    I’m not quite sure what is going on here – I’ll email wordpress about it. Eteraz’s comment to you earlier in the comments section ended up in moderation (although they technically shouldn’t have) and Dawood’s comments have ended up in spam the last few weeks.

  54. dawood permalink
    November 5, 2007 8:10 pm

    I think that if you include links, or too many html tags (such as italics or blold, blockquotes etc.) then it may automatically be sent to spam for moderation.

  55. dawood permalink
    November 5, 2007 9:07 pm

    Sam – you seem to be flip-flopping around on a number of issues. You said to me above that “The transfer of knowledge is independent of the transfer of opinion. The latter translates to proselytism…” yet in response to Samaha you stated “almost all the Muslims I have spoken to, reject evolution” and correlate this as somehow being unfavourable in numerous ways. Isn’t it the choice of everyone to believe whatever they want and come up with their own conclusions once the facts are available to them? So why are you making a value judgement over the number of people who may or may not believe in evolution in the first place? Especially when you further state “The solution is not propaganda, but free thought coupled with a will to ensure such for everyone.” Free thought is great – even if it disagrees with what one holds dear.

    Is there anything wrong with having divergent goals whilst working together on the points different people/thought may share?

  56. Sam permalink
    November 6, 2007 5:32 pm

    dawood:

    I’ll answer your earlier questions as soon as I get some time.

    ~”One one hand you are asserting that the Qur’an or whatever asserts specific things that can justify terrorism, yet now you are focusing solely on statistical data which comes from {Islam} as the populace understands and practices. So which is it?”

    I said that for the purposes of this discussion it would be a fair to define Islam using the set of constraints imposed by the five pillars and the dogma of the Quran.

    As we have come to conclude, one can’t reasonably assert that people follow Islam exactly. Islam is coated with social, personal and cultural abstractions to create an entity {Islam}, that each Muslim defines for him/herself. One looks at statistical data to identify the general drift amongst the sampled populace of people who call themselves Muslim and {Islam}. Multiple sets of redundant data may be used to draw rough conclusions about their mindsets.

    As for Islam != {Islam}, I already gave that to you drawing from you own assertions.

    ~”But this is defined by scholars and intellectuals over time and codified in to an “orthodoxy” (which is constantly developing and changing). So how can this be immutable? Again, quantify and explain exactly what you are meaning by this term instead of being vague; surely if it is so black-and-white, it shouldn’t be that hard?”

    The Quran, as is generally believed by Muslims, has been conserved as a text in Arabic. It doesn’t matter whether it has actually been conserved or not (and I have my doubts about it being conserved textually) as long as the bulk of the Muslims believe it to have been unchanged.

    As such, the “orthodoxy” of scholars and intellectuals you talk of is inconsequential when one talks of Islam. “Orthodoxy” affects {Islam} since it involves opinions which (quite apparently) can’t go far enough to challenge the veracity of the Quran or the five pillars. Differing interpretations, however, do exist at the implementation level, resulting in the creation of multiple abstracted versions of {Islam} in practice as people apply Islam to themselves and possibly others.

    The differences between Islam and Liberal Secular Democracy seem to be irreconcilable and cause the clashes we see. The differences between {Islam} sans Islam, and Liberal Secular Democracy are cultural and can be resolved or can even be left to exist. Diversity must be encouraged when it comes pure of the constraints of fundamentalism.

    This is what I have come to conclude from my observations. What is there in this that you do not get? I’ve written it many times over.

    And your ad-hominem doesn’t seem to cease. Weasel words my foot. I’ve busted your arguments multiple times. Each time you sidestep that and come up to harp on the definition of Islam when you yourself stated, “or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim” which in essence implies the presence of Islam given that there is no other means of objective judgment of anyone who wishes to term him/herself a Muslim.

    If you insist {Islam} = Islam, you’ll have to accept someone who calls Muhammad a warmongering liar and denies the existence of God, yet calls himself a Muslim, into the set of Muslim. This is because {Islam} is entirely based upon personal interpretation and maybe that is his interpretation of Islam. You need Islam in order to objectively attach to someone the term of Muslim or non-Muslim.

    This is quite apparent in Hinduism and Buddhism to some extent. Since Hinduism is essentially {Hinduism} , I have met Atheists, Agnostics, Deists, Monotheists, Polytheists etc who have called themselves Hindu.

    What I am leaving open is that my definition of Islam might be refined further. That in no way means that Islam = {Islam}. Seriously man, go take some courses in Critical Thinking. I’m sure you study at a good place, utilize it for your own good.

    ~”You said to me above that “The transfer of knowledge is independent of the transfer of opinion. The latter translates to proselytism…” yet in response to Samaha you stated “almost all the Muslims I have spoken to, reject evolution” and correlate this as somehow being unfavourable in numerous ways. Isn’t it the choice of everyone to believe whatever they want and come up with their own conclusions once the facts are available to them?”

    Your statement is quite amusing. Let us tear this apart.

    1. The first fact is the reality of an overwhelming scientific basis for Evolution.
    2. The second fact is the constraint of false religious dogma which clouds the minds of people to the reality of Science.
    3. The third fact is that these brainwashed people brainwash their children in turn.

    My biggest objection is not “disbelief” in the first or adhering to the second, but it is the fact that these people proselytize and transfer their creationist “opinions” to the people around them. That objectively damages the structure of society and may be classified as ‘direct harm’ to other people. As such, it needs to be remedied.

    Now tell me what “conclusions” you were talking about?

    “So why are you making a value judgement over the number of people who may or may not believe in evolution in the first place?”

    These people who reject evolution may be classified into some categories:
    1. Idiots who know their irrationality and revel in it. Motive may be power, wealth to be derived from other idiots or 2,3 etc.
    2. Ignorant people who don’t know enough to realize their irrationality.
    3. People brainwashed to the point of failing to realize their irrationality.

    This is no “value judgment”. This is a plain and simple fact. Bring me any idiotic divine creationist propaganda that they believe in and I’ll shatter it to bits. All of them are ‘opinions’. Evolution is the result of hard scientific fact.

    What “value judgment” would you pass on someone who says the Earth is flat? This is something similar to that.

    “Free thought is great – even if it disagrees with what one holds dear.”

    Yes it is. Absolute freedom should be guaranteed to everyone subject to the duty that they guarantee it to everyone in return and refrain from doing anything that results in knowledgeable and direct harm to others.

    These people violate their duties. Hence they forgo their rights to absolute freedom.

    ~”My stance is as above (which you obviously disagree with) yet you have not even replied to a single question that I have asked multiple times on this comment alone, never mind all those previously.”

    Your entire stance is: “I’m right in being irrational because some other people are irrational”.

    No matter how much you deny it to yourself or others, that is essentially your basal ethical standing on this argument. Everything else comes at a higher level. Objectively your position is so heavily flawed that you must either step into the mold of either the Hypocrite, the Bigot or both to defend it.

    I’m sorry that you can’t find anything better to stand up for.

  57. dawood permalink
    November 7, 2007 1:16 am

    You are engaging in a little bit of sophistry here, mate. Call it another ad-hominem if you like, but it is not me who is calling the other side a bigot, hypocrite or any of the multitude of other things you have said in your posts to me thus far. Me stating that I think your argument is inane or wrong, simply because of your lack of exposure to the religious tradition and how it works is completely different from the above. The latter can be corrected through research and study, or working with someone who knows the field; the former is just an insult.

    I have also never said that Islam!={Islam} – that is your assertion and I have been arguing for the exact opposite since the beginning, yet now you assert that “we” have concluded. We? If you mean that because Islam as oppose to {Islam} cannot be “reasonably followed” because it is some abstract notion from your own imagination that can’t be quantified, then we most definitely agree. If you mean something else, then we do not agree. It is that simple.

    I said that for the purposes of this discussion it would be a fair to define Islam using the set of constraints imposed by the five pillars and the dogma of the Quran.

    And that is exactly where you begin to warp my statement. My statement of Islam={Islam} is exactly because it is the scholars of the Islamic tradition who define through their works what the Qur’an actually means, what the context is, which verses have legal import or not, which verses abrogate other verses (if at all) or not, and so on. It is an entirely human enterprise to interpret the text itself, which as I mentioned before was codified in to the book Muslims (and the world generally) have today by humans. The “divine nature” of the Qur’an as revelation is an abstract element of theology which has nothing to do with Islamic law nor how the interpretive tradition works in actuality. People read texts and the texts speak through their voice, that is simply all there is to it. Without the relationship between text and reader the book is essentially dead. It is the same for any book, even one with purportedly ‘divine’ origins. This is how language works.

    Nothing remains free of human enterprise, and that is exactly the point I keep coming back to. Unless you are willing to admit the existence of the flying spaghetti monster?

    As we have come to conclude, one can’t reasonably assert that people follow Islam exactly.

    Again, this is because your notion of a ‘core’ Islam which differs from the human tradition of interpretation is nonsense. Islam is what the people (both the Muslim scholarly intellectual community and everyday Muslims) define it as – the same with any ideology. This has been my premise all along, yet you somehow think Islam is different from any other ideology in human history.

    Islam is coated with social, personal and cultural abstractions to create an entity {Islam}, that each Muslim defines for him/herself.

    You should find out more about how the religious tradition you are bashing works. Anyone can interpret anything any way they like, but that does not make it authoritative as a teaching or orthodox view; there are conditions and checks and balances involved, which is what you are not even wanting to see. The Islamic tradition has its own method of self-regulation which discredits the opinions of the extreme, yet because you simply want to bash religion as ‘ignorance’ you don’t even want to work with it in order to stamp out these dangerous ideas. That is one of the differences between us. In essence the notion of “orthodoxy” is what defines your assertion of Islam – if it even exists – yet the notion of orthodoxy is a fully human endeavour, which is what you deny.

    One looks at statistical data to identify the general drift amongst the sampled populace of people who call themselves Muslim and {Islam}. Multiple sets of redundant data may be used to draw rough conclusions about their mindsets.

    And the statistical data you cite to support your initial argument of a ‘core’ Islamic teaching supporting violence and terrorism is showing that support for terrorism and other things is going down…. Again, it is you who still has this notion of a ‘core’; this allows you to disregard any data at whim that disagrees with your point so you can come back and say “Islam is a violent religion; its adherents are just not Muslim enough”. How is this any different from your run-of-the-mill Islamophobe who is only interested in castigating the “Other” without looking at any actual data, or engaging the tradition in any way in order to understand what Muslims actually think and believe?

    As such, the “orthodoxy” of scholars and intellectuals you talk of is inconsequential when one talks of Islam.

    The “orthodoxy” of the scholars is the point; it is them who offer authoritative interpretations of the text and offer guidance for everyday Muslims. Most Muslims cannot even understand Arabic and it has been the same throughout history; thus, they need advice on how to live according to the text from those who have invested time to study. The realms of scholarship has its own conditions, methodology, and balances in place in order to posit and critique competing interpretations.

    This is the precise point, Sam. Your call for “free thinking” is fine – and to be honest it has already happened (and still is happening) in Islamic history. The difference is, that you want to disregard the scholarly platform and method of discourse the tradition already has which allows intellectuals to critique competing interpretations of the text in order to decide which one is the most suitable and disregard those which do not meet the criteria. I am positing that this is precisely why we have Al-Qai’da today and other extreme versions of Islam – they reject the scholarly tradition and its discourse, methodologies and checks/balances – they instead propose to “go back to the sources” directly (‘Protestant’ style) without realising that the Qur’an is an Arabic text, it is based on the Arabic language, and all languages need interpretation because they are describing human experience. Languages use metaphors, and have various layers of meaning depending on the context and so on. This is basic linguistic theory and Arabic is no different regardless of the supposed origins of the book in question – that is the realm of dogmatic theology, not law (which affects us here in actual fact as you are talking about society and politics).

    “Orthodoxy” affects {Islam} since it involves opinions which (quite apparently) can’t go far enough to challenge the veracity of the Quran or the five pillars.

    You are almost there… “Orthodoxy” if anything, is this Islam you keep talking about; yet it is something constantly developing and changing as time moves on. Why does anything need to challenge the veracity of the Qur’an or five pillars anyway? The Qur’an is a text which is static unless there are people to read it, and the five pillars do not hurt anyone (plus, as I said right at the beginning, orthodoxy posits that one is still Muslim even if they do not practice them in the first place). Orthodoxy defined the five pillars and so on in the first place.

    The differences between Islam and Liberal Secular Democracy seem to be irreconcilable and cause the clashes we see.

    You are still not mentioning what this Islam is, Sam, though keep harking back to it over and over again. My question is simple: qualify and quantify this Islam of which you speak, which you posit is entirely different from the orthodox religious tradition of scholarship that Muslims follow.

    Washing and bending to pray, and fasting a few days a year and going on holiday to Mecca once in a lifetime causes an irreconcilable clash with Liberal Secular Democracy?

    What exactly is this “dogma of the Quran” you mentioned before as Islam? I have consistently posited that this “dogma” is defined and interpreted by scholars and intellectuals, so is not immutable at all, outside of some very general positions which are theological in nature and do not affect “Islamic law” or anything else.

    This is what I have come to conclude from my observations. What is there in this that you do not get?

    Great, you have finally admitted that these are only your observations. What I don’t get, is how you can assert anything to do with Islam or {Islam} when you have absolutely no knowledge of the religious tradition itself, let alone how it interacts with peoples’ culture and societies. And that far more detailed statistical studies done by the likes of Atran and others completely contradict the stance you take regarding Islam, as does the Pew Report itself when read without this imaginative ‘core’ concept in place. I thought the hypothesis develops based on the existing empirical data and not vice-versa? Or are we engaging in some type of revisionist project here?

    I’ve busted your arguments multiple times.

    What arguments? I have only had one: define this ‘core’ of Islam that you believe is separate from that which is defined by the scholarly community and generality of believers. You can’t even do that in specifics, so how can we even take this any further when your knowledge of the religious tradition, how it works, and how Muslims actually behave in regards to it is so limited you can’t even answer such a basic question sufficiently?

    Each time you sidestep that and come up to harp on the definition of Islam

    I would consider this to be a serious flaw in my argument if I had written a whole page of comments yet still can’t define exactly what this ‘core’ of Islam is that I believe is so antithetical to Liberal Secular Democracy. The whole basis of your critique against Islam as being the ‘Great Satan’ can’t even be defined. Your blustering and other questions about evolution, democracy and so on don’t change this fact. It is almost as Atran says “n=1” in regards to your own research, 1 being your own opinion and observations which you admitted above. Atran himself in the debate gave a response where n=3 and could have given more I am sure.

    My position has consistently been that Islam is defined by its adherents, and that because of this, interpretations are constantly developing and constantly changing. Furthermore, that the Muslim interpretive tradition itself has its own method of discourse, including various checks and balances to approve some views over others, which are subsequently rejected, and that it is the rejection of this process which has resulted in fundamentalism (which is a misnomer anyway) and extremism, which has led to terrorism. You have offered nothing, absolutely nothing, in response to this apart from to cite statistics which show support for terrorism et al. is actually decreasing among Muslims. Thanks for proving my own point.

    “or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim” which in essence implies the presence of Islam given that there is no other means of objective judgment of anyone who wishes to term him/herself a Muslim.

    Again, Sam, this boundary has been and is still defined by Muslim religious scholars and intellectuals, and is constantly being developed as society progresses. So how is it immutable? Back to square one.

    If you insist {Islam} = Islam, you’ll have to accept someone who calls Muhammad a warmongering liar and denies the existence of God, yet calls himself a Muslim, into the set of Muslim.

    It is up to the Muslim religious scholars and Muslims at large who define Islamic orthodoxy to decide who is and isn’t Muslim and the boundaries of their community, not some schmoes like you and me. If I accept such a person as Muslim or not is of no consequence whatsoever.

    Is believing in the existence of God antithetical to Liberal Secular Democracy though? It is a completely different question outside of what I am asking you to clarify which is really quite simple.

    This is quite apparent in Hinduism and Buddhism to some extent. Since Hinduism is essentially {Hinduism}

    So if you can accept that this is the case with Hinduism, then why not Islam? Is your knowledge of how the Islamic tradition works so much more vast than your knowledge of Hinduism or Buddhism that you can conclusively state that Islam!={Islam}? Seriously, you have shown nothing thus far that would lead me to believe so, and I am not even of mediocre caliber in this field.

    Seriously man, go take some courses in Critical Thinking. I’m sure you study at a good place, utilize it for your own good.

    My critical thinking is fine, thanks… it is enough to see through the hubris you call an ‘argument’, due to an obviously increased exposure to the tradition and history which you are attempting to slam with school-boy polemic.

    Your statement is quite amusing. Let us tear this apart.

    How does the belief regarding how the human race came to be “objectively damage the structure of society”? How does this belief affect or harm any law that keeps society functioning? I am not quite sure what you are implying here – you essentially seem to be saying that we have to become thought police, because if their own (free) conclusions made from their own thought and research (or lack thereof!) needs to be “remedied”, then something is wrong.

    I am quite happy for people to disagree with what I believe in, and in no way think it “objectively damages the structure of society” to do so, especially regarding something such as evolution; it really doesn’t do anything unless one wants to work in the realm of biological science or an allied area; it certainly doesn’t effect anyone’s ability to function in society (follow social norms, follow the law, pay takes, be part of the work force, live in the community etc.).

    What people believe in their own mind is their business, not ours. Or do you think differently about this issue?

    Your whole train of thought in this couple of paragraphs is ironically and comically similar to that of modern day Muslim extremists. They take the concept in Islamic law called ‘blocking the means’ to effectively control anyone from doing anything which “may lead to eventual harm (or corruption) of society”.

    What “value judgment” would you pass on someone who says the Earth is flat? This is something similar to that.

    I would say that it is their right to believe whatever they want, but that it doesn’t affect me in the slightest. Is that a value judgement?

    It seems divergent opinions regarding evolution seem to annoy you though, especially when you then go on to state that “These people violate their duties. Hence they forgo their rights to absolute freedom.”, especially considering that people could simply believe what they do for a multitude of reasons we are not privy to.

    Again, people are irrational, we are not Vulcan. It seems that you are implying that everyone has to become some type of empirical warmonger that accepts nothing but ‘science’, but this has never been the case and sure isn’t today.

    It is ironic that what you are saying essentially amounts to wanting to make everyone into “believers”; your comments speak for themselves above. Welcome to the new monotheism?

    Your statements here are worrying me, especially when you state that “These people violate their duties. Hence they forgo their rights to absolute freedom.” – in fact, it is sounding pretty fundamentalist to me. Again, this is one place we quite clearly differ on how we tackle this issue.

    Your entire stance is: “I’m right in being irrational because some other people are irrational”.

    When have I even alluded to what I personally believe or not? It is irrelevant to the entire discussion. The only things I have mentioned my personal opinion on are regarding raising children and now the issue of ‘absolute freedom’ above. Sure, I share my position regarding Islam, but it is not merely my opinion, it comes from scholarly (peer-reviewed) sources and study.

    I personally don’t care what people believe, but if you are going to talk about and slam Islam, then you should at least educate yourself about how that specific religious tradition works. There are plenty of scholarly works available on the subject, and a multitude of peer-reviewed journals to choose from, even before looking at Islamic texts themselves. My (informed) opinion is that it quite clearly does not work as you think it does. Especially when you can’t even answer such a basic question that you yourself have set up because of your initial premise that Islam!={Islam} and have to use this as a loophole in order to disregard actual statistical evidence which is showing a different pattern. I was always taught that after testing a hypothesis that it may need to be adjusted due to the resulting data collected.

    According to you, unlike every other ideology in the world, Islam is not defined by those who believe it. It is almost comical – that is almost like saying you believe it to have come from an other, non-human source!

    I’m sorry that you can’t find anything better to stand up for.

    Oh, there are plenty of things I stand up for; this is just wasting time on the internet for a few minutes a day.

  58. dawood permalink
    November 9, 2007 9:18 pm

    I thought that this article may be of interest and thought to post the link here:

    Islam Today: The Need to Explore Its Complexities, by Tariq Ramadan.

  59. Sam permalink
    November 10, 2007 8:44 pm

    Dawood:

    From Ramadan’s article:
    “In the broadest sense, there is only “one” Islam, as defined by the unity of its Credo (al-’aq”da, the six pillars of faith), and by the unity of its practice (al-’ibad‰t, the five pillars of Islam). This unity, in both Sunnite and Shi’ite traditions, draws on shared recognition of two bodies of founding texts (the Qur’an and the Sunnah). There may be disagreement over the authenticity of certain texts, but common recognition of scripture-based sources and of the unity of faith and practice point to recognition of a single Islamic reference. At this level, the supreme level of unity with which all the world’s Muslims can identify, Islam is one.”

    That is Islam again. Another example of Islam!={Islam}

    I didn’t call you a bigot for nothing my friend. The annotation was qualified with an explicit reference to your words. And as for your stance, you have to fall to the level of a Hypocrite and/or a Bigot to consistently defend it. As you did with your ‘irrationality justifies irrationality’ chant.

    I never said you said Islam!={Islam}. I said what you said led to that conclusion. If you were able to probe your own logic deep enough, that is what you would find somewhere.

    If it is a human enterprise to interpret whatever you speak of, who can comment in an unqualified manner upon who is right or not?

    Using your logic:

    1. XYZ set of scholars declare themselves as the only qualified scholars of Islam in the world. All else are fools according to them.

    2. XYZ interpret Islam (through .. some random set of logical and/or illogical abstract interpretations..) to mean that one may define a Muslim as one that drinks camel milk after plugging one’s ears with date-pudding every day of their lives at sunset and sunrise and says that ‘Allah is a teapot in orbit around Uranus’ at 12 noon and 12 midnight.

    3. Since it is human enterprise (notably XYZ here) to interpret Islam, you HAVE TO (by your own logic) accept this interpretation of Islamic dogma to define ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’ at par with any other.

    All this arises as a result of your assertions.

    I hope you’ve realized how asinine your chain of thought is by now. And what it might (in some hypothetical freak case) lead you to.

    ~”This has been my premise all along, yet you somehow think Islam is different from any other ideology in human history.”

    How does one differentiate Islam from other non-religious ideologies. Let me see, irrational, false, bellicose, xenophobic, misogynist, anti-scientific…

    How many ideologies do all of these qualifiers attach to? The Abrahamic religions maybe..

    When you will see the difference between imposing opinions and encouraging free-thought, you’ll realize the “ideologies” you speak of fall broadly into two categories depending upon the same. Islam, unfortunately for your stance in this discussion, lies in the former bin.

    What other “ideologies” were you talking about?

    ~”this allows you to disregard any data at whim that disagrees with your point so you can come back and say “Islam is a violent religion; its adherents are just not Muslim enough”.”

    Your statements are simply amazing. The hard “data” suggests that a lot of people living in Islamic Countries in general are quite xenophobic (harbor deeply ingrained us-vs-them sentiments), are bigoted towards their own religion (highly negative opinions of other religions), support violence as a politico-religious tool (as was clear in the support for violence against civilians in the Pew poll) and support the involvement of religion in the state (clear in the Pew poll).

    The only “data” you presented was a short term decline in the proportion of people who support violence against civilians. Neatly ignoring everything else.

    And you speak of “academic debate”… You realize that sounds quite funny!

    ~”How is this any different from your run-of-the-mill Islamophobe who is only interested in castigating the “Other” without looking at any actual data”

    I don’t care if you are blind to the fact that I’ve liberally used actual data whenever I had to suggest a line of reasoning that involved gaging people’s opinions and “understanding what Muslims actually think and believe”.

    And I don’t care if you’re blind to the fact that I’m not “castigating” the other. I’m merely identifying a problem that needs to be solved.

    And I don’t care if you can’t understand the definition of the word, “generalization” and keep accusing me of consigning every Muslim into an “other”. This is probably a relic of your own us-vs-them paradigm which forces you to see others actions through your own looking glass.

    And finally, I don’t care if you can’t see the distinction between ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’. That is one of the fatal flaws in your argument and it places any discussion with you on the table of your irrationality, rendering it useless for all practical purposes.

    Moving on, the likes of Al-Quaeda result because of Islam’s constraints which corrupt free-thinking. Scholarly discourse is all fine but it simply resolves to a form of a pseudo-intellectual plutocracy because the “scholars” themselves are constrained by the framework of a false and irrational dogma. Given the irrationality and falsity that is all pervasive, one can’t reasonably accept the latter as better than the former at a logical level. At the implementation level, the latter might be better or worse depending upon the clique of scholars in question.

    This renders your entire argument essentially useless.

    At the very least in today’s world you have the freedom of people to stand up and reject Al-Quaeda’s opinions, independent of what the scholars think. If you qualify in an unreserved manner, the opinion of scholars, you’ll automatically turn into either a Hypocrite or a Fanatic if the scholars come to the conclusion that Al-Quaeda was indeed right, depending upon whether you choose to disagree or agree with them.

    ~”I have consistently posited that this “dogma” is defined and interpreted by scholars and intellectuals, so is not immutable at all”

    And the whole “let the scholars do the thinking” argument is bullshit. So..

    ~”I thought the hypothesis develops based on the existing empirical data and not vice-versa?”
    &
    “define this ‘core’ of Islam that you believe is separate from that which is defined by the scholarly community and generality of believers”

    The hypothesis of medieval Islam influencing different {Islams} is qualified by the data in the Pew polls as well as multiple other sources. It is also quite clear logically that the definition of Islam is not the critical point in the discussion, rather its effect on {Islam} is.

    I defined Islam using its pillars and the content of the Quran. You dragged this into the arena of being modified by humans and hence it would not be Islam, but {Islam}.

    First of all, most Muslims don’t agree with your assertion of the Quran being modifiable and/or having been modified. Hence a different paradigm applies to them. You can’t dream of imposing your paradigm upon them when you have no data to suggest that even a single Muslim supports your chain of thought.

    Secondly, when one is talking of people who follow irrational ideologies, qualifications of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to opinions don’t matter since all opinions constrained by the ideology are objectively opinions built upon a false premise anyway. As such at a logical level, it doesn’t matter whether scholars interpret Islam to define {Islam} or whether any single Muslim interprets Islam to define {Islam}.

    Thirdly Islam is not “separate” from {Islam}. The two intersect. The point isn’t the definition of Islam at all but that the different {Islams} have a common thread running through them.

    I would recommend reading up on Hidden Markov Models. That should teach you to understand how lines of logic may be independent of the definition of the parameters that influence them. It is merely the influence that is important, not the parameter itself.

    As for busting your arguments. Let me see:

    1. You tried to place Islam alongside “any other ideology”.

    Busted: Islam is built upon opinions. Not free-thought.

    2. You tried to suggest that {Islam}m has little or no effect on how people view the world. Rather, other events (like wars, public policy etc) do.

    Busted: The Pew polls clearly show people in Islamic countries view the rest of the world through the aegis of their version of {Islam}. Culture and politics themselves are shaped by Islam through the constraints imposed by the practice of {Islam}.

    3. You suggested that people shape Islam instead of Islam shaping {Islam} which in turn affects people.

    Busted: Your own assertion that Islam has an objective basis upon which people may be judged to be Muslim or not. That directly negates your argument.

    etc etc etc…

    ~”The whole basis of your critique against Islam as being the ‘Great Satan’ can’t even be defined.”

    That level of illogical stupidity can only be achieved by someone constrained by an irrational ideology like one of the many {Islams}. ‘Great Satan’ is an irrational annotation. If any annotation needs to be made, it should be a term qualified by real world observations.

    The basis of my critique is the falsity of Islam as defined by the literal dogma of the Quran. And the effects it has on {Islam} and Muslims.

    ~”My position has consistently been that Islam is defined by its adherents, and that because of this, interpretations are constantly developing and constantly changing.”

    And so has mine. Except that I speak of {Islam} as defined by its adherents. And Islam being a parameter (which doesn’t need to be codified to study the influence of) that influences {Islam}.

    As for statistics, go read my discussion with Samaha. There are statistics for much more than people supporting violence against civilians.

    ~”“or does something clearly antithetical to this is considered non-Muslim” which in essence implies the presence of Islam given that there is no other means of objective judgment of anyone who wishes to term him/herself a Muslim.

    Again, Sam, this boundary has been and is still defined by Muslim religious scholars and intellectuals, and is constantly being developed as society progresses.”

    Lol… Not at all. This boundary is defined by the majority of the Muslim populace. However, at no time has this boundary entirely escaped the Quran’s dogma and/or the pillars of Islam. As such your argument is useless again.

    ~”It is up to the Muslim religious scholars and Muslims at large who define Islamic orthodoxy to decide who is and isn’t Muslim and the boundaries of their community, not some schmoes like you and me. If I accept such a person as Muslim or not is of no consequence whatsoever.”

    This is too funny. You yourself admit to supporting blindly following the diktat of the scholars! So in the case of the Muslim scholars deciding to follow Al-Quaeda, you just obviated all your objections to people who would decide to follow them. You also obviated your objections to the fanatic “scholars” who preach violent jihad.

    ~”actual statistical evidence which is showing a different pattern”

    The actual statistical evidence in the Pew polls shows a clear pattern of anti-secular xenophobia.

    All along you claim that I don’t reference data when I quite clearly referenced enough hard data from the Pew polls. You nitpicked one part of the poll’s many findings to show a short term decline in support for violence against civilians. It is funny to see your bigotry shine through when you ignore the rest of the poll as well as the absolute percentages even the poll that you cite hold.

    ~”It is almost comical – that is almost like saying you believe it to have come from an other, non-human source!”

    Not me. I agree with you, I find it extremely comical that almost all Muslims believe Islam to have come from a non-human divine source.

    By the way, are you a Muslim?

  60. dawood permalink
    November 11, 2007 12:25 am

    Sam, I said right at the beginning that the only universal “Islam” that existed was based on the 5 pillars and the 6 points of creedal belief – yet it is still the scholars who elucidate and define exactly how these work in detail.

    None of these are related to Islam being against “liberal secular democracy”, “modernity” or any such thing as you assert, let alone have any connection to violence or any related concepts. This is why I have consistently asked you to define what this “dogma” ‘core’ you keep talking about – which you have again sidestepped.

    The fact that you again ad-hominem attack me, and state that I make no difference between normal Muslims and those who support the likes of al-Qa’ida show that you have no leg to stand on so attack the messenger instead of the message. This is debate 101 here.

    The rest of your post is nothing but banter fluctuating between taking random emotional-based jabs at a religion and using the most inane abstractions possible – do you really know so little about the religious tradition you bash that you have to consistently make things up? You do it here and in other debates all the time. Camels milk and date pudding? Come on!

    The data you are citing a) have changed drastically (check the most recent updated report) and b) does not compare this with non-Muslim societies and other religious groups. So in order for there to be a detailed study, we need to see how religion and other ideologies influence public opinion.

    For all your talk about scientific research and study, you are showing a supreme lack of detached understanding of the contemporary political situation and the religious tradition itself. Emotion has no place in it, the understanding of the data, and history is what is important.

  61. Sam permalink
    November 11, 2007 5:58 am

    Dawood:

    ~”Sam, I said right at the beginning that the only universal “Islam” that existed was based on the 5 pillars and the 6 points of creedal belief – yet it is still the scholars who elucidate and define exactly how these work in detail.”

    You just defined Islam and {Islam} for yourself. I’m sure you’ll deny it in your next post anyway.

    Now you can keep up your chant of me not defining a core. It is useless to keep on doing so and it has made it clear that you have neither the intention nor the capability to indulge in any form of rational debate.

    Anyway AGAIN, for me, the core is the pillars and blind belief in a divine Quran (which presumably has been textually conserved).

    And AGAIN, the exact definition of Islam is irrelevant for what you wish to discuss since observing {Islam} is in general sufficient for the purposes of identifying Muslim opinions given that Muslims follow the abstracted latter. The former may be subjected to academic debate while the latter must be qualified by the polled opinions of Muslims.

    As for sidestepping, it is all in your head. I have done no such thing. The Quran, when interpreted literally can be used to give a basis to every one of my statements. If you wish, pick an adjective I used (irrational, false, anti-secular etc etc) and there is enough data in the Quran to support it.

    Of course, because the premise of a divine Islam as a truism is irrational and false, the Quran could explicitly state, “Beat your wife”, and you could contextually interpret it to be “Give oranges to the poor”. There is nothing I can do for this except for trying to help you realize the falsity of the premise. A lot of your arguments resolve to something similar to this.

    ~”The fact that you again ad-hominem attack me,”

    Care to quote me when you make allegations like that. Or else, would you please stop making things up. As I highlighted earlier with the definition of ‘generalization’, your lexicon is clearly impaired and you pull meanings out of the air when there are none. Given that, I would appreciate it if you could quote exactly what I write when you construct allegations such as this.

    ~”and state that I make no difference between normal Muslims and those who support the likes of al-Qa’ida show that you have no leg to stand on so attack the messenger instead of the message.”

    As per: ”It is up to the Muslim religious scholars and Muslims at large who define Islamic orthodoxy to decide who is and isn’t Muslim and the boundaries of their community, not some schmoes like you and me.”

    Your lines of reasoning obviate individuality and place the responsibility to interpret Islam with the scholars.

    So in the case of the Muslim scholars deciding to follow Al-Quaeda, you just obviated all your objections to people who would decide to follow them. You also obviated your objections to the fanatic “scholars” who preach violent jihad.

    ~”You do it here and in other debates all the time.”

    Haha.. You act like you know me man. And that you’ve been following my “other debates” since a while. That is amusing.

    ~”Camels milk and date pudding? Come on!”

    That was simply to highlight what you would logically HAVE to accept given your stance. The ridiculous was used to highlight the asinine position of yours placing ALL of Islam in the hands of the scholars.

    As for emotion. I can’t stop my amusement at your futile attempts to paint a facade of respectability when you have NOTHING to stand up for. All your arguments have been busted, one by one and now you’re back to a circular whine of me not defining Islam when I’ve clearly done that over and over and over again. AND when I’ve highlighted that the definition isn’t even necessary for what you wish to discuss.

    As for the polls. Have you even read them? Do you even know what I’m talking about? Go read my replies to Samaha again and you’ll find out.

    And again, though this is completely irrelevant to the issue, are you a Muslim?

    Finally, it is neither necessary nor my aim (as you suggest) to prove that {Islam} will lead to fanaticism in general.

    For my position, it is sufficient to show that free-thinking constrained by Islam produces people who will interpret the Quran and Islam in a fanatic manner. Which is a conclusion you have already drawn. And this fact is both necessary and sufficient to completely reject Islam and actively oppose it.

    PS: Please go answer my earlier post if you have some time to spare.

  62. Sam permalink
    November 11, 2007 5:59 am

    Great. I’ve exceeded my posting limit yet again. I’ll post again tomorrow.

  63. Sam permalink
    November 12, 2007 1:26 am

    Thanks Samaha for pulling out my earlier post from the spam bin!

Trackbacks

  1. A Muslim responds to Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi « In the Name of Towelie!
  2. Responding to: Ayaan Hirsi Ali Abandoned to Fanatics « Samaha
  3. While I work .. « Samaha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers

%d bloggers like this: