My Apology to Muslims

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 4, 2011 in Islam

My posts on Islam have been, not surprisingly, strongly negative. I’ve focused on Muslim extremism again and again.

As a naturalist, I’m an equal-opportunity despiser of harmful religious dogma, but I’ve sometimes singled out Islam as “the worst religion in the world.”

But of course, this statement doesn’t capture very well the reality of 1/4 the world’s population, living in 200+ countries. It’s not very useful to paint with such a broad brush.

This point is illustrated – with devastating emotional force – in a 2006 story on This American Life about a Muslim family’s life in America the day before, and the day after, September 11th.

Listen to the story here (click ‘Play Episode’, then skip to 7:15).

Here’s a summary of the story…

Serry, a Muslim born and raised in America, met her future husband in the West Bank. He was funny and kind, and they became soulmates. They married and got a home in New York, to avoid the turmoil that Serry’s husband had experienced growing up in the West Bank.

They had kids, moved to the suburbs, and were very, very happy.

They were also very assimilated. They didn’t have any Muslim friends, and there wasn’t a Mosque nearby. They were popular among friends – partly because Serry and her daughter Chloe (12 years old at the time) are very beautiful. Chloe and her friends went to each others houses, and talked a lot about horses. Her friends knew she was Muslim, but clearly didn’t care.

And then September 11th happened.

Serry, who wears a hijab, noticed that drivers in the next lane would give her the finger. She usually flashed the peace sign and drove away.

One morning, she found the windshield of her minivan smashed, and a note telling her to leave the country.

Chloe’s 4th grade teacher made everyone in class read a short book about the 9/11 tragedy. It said that Muslims hate Christians. That Muslims hate Americans. That Muslims believe anyone who isn’t a Muslim is evil. That the Koran teaches war and hate.

After that, all her classmates looked at Chloe whenever the teacher said “Muslim.” They asked her, “You’re one of those bad Muslims, aren’t you?”

Serry went to the principal, who was sympathetic but couldn’t do much because the book had been mandated at a district level.

Serry confronted Chloe’s teacher about the book, but the teacher didn’t see anything wrong with it.

Every day, Chloe’s classmates called her “loser Muslim” and “Osama” and said she was probably related to Osama bin Laden. She could barely persuade her best friends, who said “Well, if you say it, I’ll believe you, but it’s in a book, so it must be true.”

After a while, it was too much, and Chloe decided to renounce Islam so that people would stop hating her. This was very upsetting to Serry, who finds faith in God sustaining. But Serry and her husband didn’t want to force Islam on their daughter. They also practiced Islam in even lower profile than before.

Then, near Christmas, Chloe’s teacher taught her students that Jesus’ blood would save them, but without it, people would go to hell. Now her peers teased Chloe about going to hell, too. And Chloe starting to worry that she and her family would burn in hellfire forever. For weeks, it was the focus of all her thoughts. Chloe got so sick with worry she stayed home from school for days at a time.

Then, in the middle of class, Chloe’s teacher told Chloe she needed to transfer to a different classroom. Chloe wanted to stay, because all her friends were there. The teacher insisted. Some others in the class told her, “Get lost, loser Muslim! We don’t want you here!” The teacher said nothing.

She went home and got straight into bed and stayed home the next day. Her friend called and said she missed her, so she went back to school the next day. But upon arrival, her classmates said, “Why are you here, loser Muslim? Teacher told you to leave!”

Chloe went home and cried in bed for five days. The blood vessels in her face burst from sobbing.

Serry’s other daughters were being harassed now, too. One of them was punched in the face. At lunch break, children made a motion of unzipping their pants and said “We’re all gonna pee on her. Let’s pee on her.”

Serry’s husband changed completely. He became depressed due to how his children were being tormented. He never laughed any more. He wanted to move the family back to Palestine, despite the troubles there. Serry wanted to stay in America.

Chloe was forced to transfer to another classroom, but she ran into her best friend – the only one who had stuck by her – in the hall. Chloe waved, but her friend turned her head away. Everyone had turned against her. Chloe dropped out, and was tutored at home.

Serry transferred the kids to another school. Her husband still wanted to go back to the West Bank. Serry couldn’t do it. Her husband left the family.

As of 2006, Serry lives in a small apartment with her 5 children. She was a full-time mom for more than a decade, but now she had to work two jobs, and went to school at night. Because of this, she rarely sees her children. She put a mailbox on the kitchen counter, and asked her kids to write her letters about their lives – how their day went, and so on. Late at night after the kids are asleep, Serry reads the letters in bed, and laughs or cries.

The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that the teacher had inappropriately proselytized in a public school, and had “contributed to an atmosphere in which Chloe was harassed by her peers.” They investigated, and reached a settlement in the school, which among other things required ‘diversity training’ for the school’s teachers and students.

I don’t harass Muslims, or say that Muslims all hate America. I support Muslims’ right to build Park51.

But my one-note coverage of Islam on this blog, focusing on extremism, has probably “contributed to an atmosphere” in which Muslims are harassed, tormented, and hated.

That wasn’t my intent, but I should have thought more carefully about the consequences of my choices.

So, to Muslims: I’m sorry for contributing to an atmosphere in which you are harassed, tormented, and hated. Whenever I think about Serry’s story, I feel like I want to give each of you a big hug and apologize for the way you are (probably) being harassed (if you live in America, at least).

Previous post:

Next post:

{ 99 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael April 4, 2011 at 4:09 am

I’m not sure you need to apologise as long as you make a distinction between Islam the religion according the Qur’an and the traditions (Hadith, Suna etc) on the one hand, and Muslims themselves on the other hand.
I would say that Islam at its core, properly exegeted from the Qur’an is indeed a very violent and barbaric religion, but most Muslims are not like that at all. Actually here in Britain quite a high proportion of Muslims worringly do think that terrorism is justified but still I would never say stupid things like, “Muslims hate the West!”
But I would say that the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example is very violent in its explanation of how to treat Jews, Christians and infidels, just that most Muslims don’t follow this example.
I have loads of Muslim friends and so that isn’t an issue, because the question is who represents the true Islam as personified by the prophet Muhammad?

  (Quote)

Zeb April 4, 2011 at 5:27 am

Good job Luke, this is a long needed correction but one that would have been easy not to make. Based on my modest studies of Islam (under a Muslim religious studies faculty member at Penn State University), I believe it is harder to construct a nonviolent interpretation of Islam than it is Christianity, but history and contemporary demographics show that it is possible for Muslims to be pacifists and for Christians to be militants (in seeming contradiction to their founding texts), it is much more likely for practitioners of both to advocate and participate in the “medium violence” of feudalism, empire, or democracy. I mostly studied the Sufi tradition and was more interested in the spiritual teachings and experiences than the historical, political, and social aspects of it, but I know it is important strain in the most populous Islamic regions (central Asia and Indonesia) and that it is more moderate in many ways than the Islam of the Middle East and North Africa. I’d like to learn more about how that strain of Islam has influenced history and how much influence it has today, and how connected or resistant it has been to militancy.

  (Quote)

Rufus April 4, 2011 at 6:01 am

Luke,

It’s not very useful to paint with such a broad brush. For example, there are large populations of Christians who are more destructive than certain large populations of Muslims.

I agree that it is not very useful to paint such a broad brush, but I am confused by how your example helps to illustrate your point.

Do you mean that painting religious believers with such a large brush is not useful… and here is an example of an unhelpful generalized depiction? Or do you mean that painting with such a broad brush is unhelpful because such generalizations lead us to miss the point that large populations of Christians are more destructive than other large populations of Muslims? If it is the former, then I think you are right. It is no more helpful to paint Muslims as the most dangerous religious population in the world as it is to make an only slightly more nuanced hasty generalization in comparing some ambiguously defined group of Christians as more violent than another large and ambiguously defined group of Muslims.

If your example is meant to illustrate the latter point, then I think you may be guilty of “painting with a broad brush” again. It seems that your point that we should look at the rate of violence among religious groups rather than the total number and that if we were to do so, it might turn out that Christians are worse… Again, I don’t think this is helpful.

Or do you agree with me that violence is spread across the human population and it is generally unhelpful to stereotype any member of any group as likely violent? Humans will use just about anything to justify violence (politics, religion, poverty, culture, beer etc.).

Best,

“Rufus”

  (Quote)

Steven Carr April 4, 2011 at 7:36 am

As a practical recompense for criticising Islam, why not just quote chapters of the Koran in an article?

You could print chapter 111 for example.

Or print, say, Bukhari’s hadith, say. Volume 2 No 173 ‘Volume 2 Number 173 :

The Prophet recited Suratan-Najm (103) at Mecca and prostrated while reciting it and those who were with him did the same except an old man who took a handful of small stones or earth and lifted it to his forehead and said, ‘This is sufficient for me.’ Later on, I saw him killed as a non-believer.’

Or Volume 3 Number 508

The Prophet said, ‘O Unais! Go to the wife of this (man) and if she confesses (that she has committed illegal sexual intercourse), then stone her to death.’

Or Volume 4 Number 261

Eight men of the tribe of ‘Ukil came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Medina unsuitable for them. So, they said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Provide us with some milk.’ Allah’s Apostle said, ‘I recommend that you should join the herd of camels.’ So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as a medicine) till they became healthy and fat.

Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became unbelievers after they were Muslims . When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off.

Then he ordered for nails which were heated and passed over their eyes, and they were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Medina). They asked for water, and nobody provided them with water till they died

It is important to give a fair and balanced picture of Islam, and not just concentrate on the few extremists living now. The mainstream moderate Muslims try to model themselves on Muhammad.

  (Quote)

Steven Carr April 4, 2011 at 7:45 am

Prejudice against Islam runs deep.

There are quite a few discussion forums where you will get banned if you start quoting the Koran or the Hadith.

This has happened to me,and I am not even Muslim! Heaven knows what prejudice people get who actually are Muslims.

  (Quote)

Luke Muehlhauser April 4, 2011 at 8:48 am

Rufus,

Yes, I meant the former.

Not all stereotypes are unhelpful, though. If I run into a man with a shotgun in the back of his pickup truck and bumper stickers about shooting ‘gooks’ in Vietnam, I’m going to update my probability that the man is quite capable of violence. And I think that stereotype is helpful.

  (Quote)

Brian April 4, 2011 at 9:47 am

“I apologize that I did not clarify my intention to not abide by the Gricean maxim of relation (simultaneously to all of my anonymous readers and their unique inferences) among my posts. Here, preponderance of negative material (about subject A) does not imply absence of positive material (about subject A [or subject B, which I am embarrassed that I have to even say, but apparently I do]).

For anyone who had expected free society in aggregate to follow that maxim as if it were a unitary person, and has improperly inferred things about Muslims or Islam because of it, I apologize that I have not done more to ameliorate your stupidity. For those forced to interact with idiots who had expected free society in aggregate to follow that maxim as if it were a unitary person, I apologize for not doing more to ameliorate their stupidity.

The next time you assume someone is malicious or making a flawed argument because you don’t understand how it works, please consider instead the possibility that you might be an idiot. See http://lesswrong.com/lw/i0/are_your_enemies_innately_evil/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_charity.

You are not obligated to try and balance things out with lame PC NPR anecdotes.

http://www.overcomingbias.com/2008/06/against-disclai.html

  (Quote)

Brian April 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

Luke, can you fix the Principle of charity link above?

  (Quote)

Zachary Aletheia April 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

I don’t think enough was done in the wake of this horror. Also what the hell are they teaching that gets kids to spout “if its in a book it must be true”?

  (Quote)

Rufus April 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

Luke,

Yes, I meant the former.

Not all stereotypes are unhelpful, though. If I run into a man with a shotgun in the back of his pickup truck and bumper stickers about shooting ‘gooks’ in Vietnam, I’m going to update my probability that the man is quite capable of violence. And I think that stereotype is helpful.

Thanks for the clarification. I think you are correct that generalizing is helpful, though I suspect we might quibble over what constitutes a stereotype. I would say that a stereotype is a demonstrably weak inductive argument typically pertaining to groups of people (small sample, not a very good cross-section, based on anecdotal evidence rather than direct observation etc.). I am not sure if your inference in the above example is terribly weak. It really depends upon what relevant information you might have about pick-up driving, gun toting, stridently racist men. I’d say that it is less a stereotype and more a good inference. However, this is all based upon my intuition and not based upon any real statistical data.

So might we add that any inductive inference pertaining to a person as a member of a group of people is a stereotype if the inference is based on intuitions, small samples, non-representative samples, etc.? I suppose. However, there may be degrees to which intuitive inductive inferences are weak or strong…

Thanks,

“Rufus”

  (Quote)

Garren April 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm

This is why I primarily advocate religious freedom, not irreligiousness. It’s the suppression of individual religious freedom that I find so offensive, not the particular doctrines — Muslim, Christian, Atheist, etc. — of those doing the suppressing today.

‘You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.’ — Thomas Paine

  (Quote)

IbnAbuTalib April 4, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Michael: I would say that Islam at its core……

What is the core of Islam?

  (Quote)

manicstreetpreacher April 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Luke

I sympathise with your plight. But Muslims have to look at the very book they pronounce as a miracle to understand why they face such mistrust and hatred from people of other ideologies.

For what it’s worth, here is a taste of my own personal story about discovering the true face of Islam :

Last year I read my copy of Arthur J Arberry’s English translation of the Koran in full and it was an appalling experience. I started to write my own opinion on the Koran for this blog, but I can’t bring myself to complete the piece, because the prospect of re-reading the central text in greater detail is utterly unpalatable. On page after page the reader is informed that God will administer a painful chastisement in Hell, Fire or Gehenna to non-believers. It’s not like we have a choice in the matter either. The Koran oozes with a particular sinister brand of predestination that would make John Calvin raise an eyebrow: God has blinded and deceived those whom he chooses into disbelief and there is no way that they can save themselves.

(…)

Now, whenever I see “moderate” Muslims on Newsnight calling for their ilk to come out against extremism and saying that Islam does not mandate such things, I know they being disingenuous. The actions of the 9/11 hijackers may not be typical of all Muslims, but they were a perfectly rational interpretation of the Qur’an and the Hadith.

MSP

  (Quote)

Silas April 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

But Muslims have to look at the very book they pronounce as a miracle to understand why they face such mistrust and hatred from people of other ideologies.

No, the vast majority of people that bash Islam do not do so because they have read the Quran. It’s primarily because of the demonization of Islam by the media and the people following 9/11. The 9/11 attackers may find support in the Quran for their actions, but that is not why people mistrust and hate Islam.

  (Quote)

Curt April 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I find that obsurd to try to paint Islam as aggressive. Is clearly is not pacifist. One could call Islam violent. But Islam makes clear that Muslims should not be the aggressors in a conflict. I am not a Muslim. I was born and raised in the USA although I no longer live there. I graduated from a Catholic University. I took ROTC and was commissioned in to the US Army. Yet I have never condemned the 9-11 attacks nor will I.
The West has been the agressor against Islam for the past century. We have killed many Muslim civilians over that time period. The US has treated the Arab world in the 20th and 21st centuries just like it treated the native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. I say that it was about time some Muslims fought back against US imperialism. As a nation the USA actually deserved to get far worse than we got. I do not usually support attacks against civilian targets but if the other side has been doing it retaliation is justified.
Now when it comes to internal politics I part ways with the Muslims. They are clearly a threat to each other. It is probably not neccessary to give examples on this website but just in case I will list one. Their killing of Muslims who renounce Islam is clearly a contridiction of one of their most important Quranic commands to let their be no compulsion in matters of Religion. Muslims are primarily a threat to other Muslims.
I can understand that. When I became a libertarian in 1979 one of the things that I thought about was if freedom is good anything that comprises freedom is bad. So it makes sense to me that many Muslims hold the same kind of view about what they believe is the will of God. By 1999 though I figured out that inflexabilty is another type of poison. Many Muslims are not philisophically flexible. Neither are many people in the US.
Cranberry Crypt O’ night Curt

  (Quote)

manicstreetpreacher April 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm

The 9/11 attackers may find support in the Quran for their actions, but that is not why people mistrust and hate Islam.

Flip that on its head for a second.

The 9/11 hijackers found their inspiration in the Koran, which was an act that the rest of the World witnessed and that is why they hate and mistrust Islam.

The words “one”, “back”, “square” and “to” spring to mind.

  (Quote)

Michael April 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Michael: I would say that Islam at its core……

What is the core of Islam?

That would be the Qur’an, in particularly the Medinan surahs rather than the Meccan ones because of the law of abrogation as described in Surah 2:106 and 16:101 amongst others.
See here for a chronological ordering of the surahs for a better understanding of the Qur’an:
http://wikiislam.net/wiki/Chronological_Order_of_the_Qur'an

Muhammad was a political genius. It is absolutely no coincidence that the earlier surahs whilst Muhammad was it Mecca were more peaceful and respectful to christians, jews, infidels, women etc, as people were not following Muhammad’s teaching. In response he offered a nice teaching, soft and cudly which was nice to women, and to jews etc.
By the time he got to Medina and had united the conflicting tribes, he was able to wield the power that he had craved all along and was now able to teach what he really wanted.

It is no coincidence that arguably the most violent surah of the Qur’an, surah 9, is the second to last one spoken by the prophet, and one of the vilest surahs, surah 5 (which speaks of cutting off the hands of thieves etc) is third to last.
Do you get my point?
Muhammad is the paradigm for Muslims and so his life sets the example for them to live.
Jesus is the paradigm for Christians and so his life sets the example for them to live.
Whilst Muhammad was a cruel, calculating political genius who conquered vulnerable lands to increase his power, Jesus spoke of even loving our enemies, and wouldn’t even have his disciples use violence in self defence (rebuked Peter for taking out his knife during the arrest).

  (Quote)

Michael April 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Another point I would like to make is that it is wrong for people to say that looking at western muslims, islam is not a violent religion.
I would like to point out that a lot of western muslims, especially my generation, do not understand Qur’anic arabic and so when they are made to memorise surahs and prayers they do not even know what they mean. Thus they rely on english-speaking imams to give them their teaching and ultimately believe almost all of what they say. So if you have a lovey-dovey peaceful imam, which is characteristic of most mainstream western imams, then you will have peaceful muslims.
You see these young muslims do not take the care and time to read, study and exegete the Qur’an itself as, I would argue, young evangelical Christians do. There is no such emphasis on exegesis for the layman in islam, that should be left to the ‘scholars’ and the imams. And for those who do want to read the Qur’an themselves, they are left with translations such as yusuf ali and pikthall which are meant for western audiences and so are structured in a way to make it palatable. Their comments inserted here there and in every ‘difficult’ passage laughably tries to prevent people from reading the Qur’an for itself and doing exegesis for themselves.

And so even for young, western muslims who do practise islam very fervently, you will find that they are reading watered-down Qur’ans, and listening to watered-down peaceful imams. Of course they are going to be peaceful!
So instead of asking what is ‘mainstream’, what is ‘extreme’ etc, let’s instead look at exegeting the Qur’an properly and see what it says itself. Let’s also look at the example of the prophet Muhammad himself and the histories as recording in the Sunna etc.

  (Quote)

Michael April 4, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I find that obsurd to try to paint Islam as aggressive.Is clearly is not pacifist.One could call Islam violent.But Islam makes clear that Muslims should not be the aggressors in a conflict.I am not a Muslim.I was born and raised in the USA although I no longer live there. I graduated from a Catholic University.I took ROTC and was commissioned in to the US Army. Yet I have never condemned the 9-11 attacks nor will I.
The West has been the agressor against Islam for the past century.We have killedmany Muslim civilians over that time period. The US has treated the Arab world in the 20th and 21st centuries just like it treated the native Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. I say that it was about time some Muslims fought back against US imperialism.As a nation the USA actually deserved to get far worse than we got.Ido not usually support attacks against civilian targets but if the other side has been doing it retaliation is justified.
Now when it comes to internal politics I part ways with the Muslims.They are clearly a threat to each other. It is probably not neccessary to give examples on this website but just in case I will list one. Their killing of Muslims who renounce Islam is clearly a contridiction of one of their most important Quranic commands to let their be no compulsion in matters of Religion.Muslims are primarily a threat to other Muslims.
I can understand that.When I became a libertarian in 1979 one of the things that I thought about was if freedom is good anything that comprises freedom is bad.So it makes sense to me that many Muslims hold the same kind of view about what they believe is the will of God.By 1999 though I figured out that inflexabilty is another type of poison.Many Muslims are not philisophically flexible.Neither are many people in the US.
Cranberry Crypt O’ night Curt

I hope this is just a really bad troll?
If you really think that Muslim violence is purely a result of American imperialism in the 20th century then you have a lot of studying to do my friend.
A very easy and quick read would be ‘Islam and Terrorism’ by Mark Gabriel (a distinguished graduate of Al-Azhar university, the most prestigious islamic university in the world who later left islam).

  (Quote)

IbnAbuTalib April 4, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Michael,

I asked you what constitutes the core of Islam to which you replied, “That would be the Qur’an, in particularly the Medinan surahs rather than the Meccan ones because of the law of abrogation as described in Surah 2:106 and 16:101 amongst others.”

False. The core of Islam is constituted by the five pillars. These are shahadah, salat, zakat, sawm and hajj. If you don’t know this basic fact about Islam, then it is safe to say that your knowledge of Islam is severely limited. Of course, you might have authoritative sources to back up your claim that the core of Islam is constituted by the Medinan Surahs of the Quran and I anticipate that in your response you will name these sources. Just so you know, wikiislam or Mark Gabriel don’t count as authorities.

In the meantime, consider the following hadith which recounts the conditions that came with the oath of allegiance Muslims were required to make with the Prophet(saw) in Medina.

Allah’s Apostle said to us while we were in a gathering, “Give me the oath (Pledge of allegiance) for: (1) Not to join anything in worship along with Allah, (2) Not to steal, (3) Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse, (4) Not to kill your children, (5) Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people), (6) Not to be disobedient (when ordered) to do good deeds. The Prophet added: Whoever amongst you fulfill his pledge, his reward will be with Allah, and whoever commits any of those sins and receives the legal punishment in this world for that sin, then that punishment will be an expiation for that sin, and whoever commits any of those sins and Allah does not expose him, then it is up to Allah if He wishes He will punish him or if He wishes, He will forgive him.” So we gave the Pledge for that. (Shahi Bukhari, Volume 9, Hadith no. 320)

  (Quote)

Cyril April 4, 2011 at 6:10 pm

I don’t consider myself to know about Islam to make an informed decision either way, but IbnAbuTalib, when you corrected Michael on what the “core of Islam” is, you said that it’s not the Quran but rather the 5 pillars. Does this mean that the 5 pillars aren’t actually listed in the Quran itself or am I misinterpreting what you said?

  (Quote)

Esteban R. (Formerly Steven R.) April 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110402/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

Religion stills seems like the old catalyst for trouble. All of the interpretations of religion which don’t lead to such violent conflicts seem to come from taking a liberal interpretation of a religious text, which is pretty much the same as projecting your own desires unto something, which seems to be the opposite of what a Divine Text should be.

What I’m getting at is, what does it tell us about religion that, when they are practiced like they were intended, we all the practitioners extremists?

I’m extremely uneasy with these religions. As a friend of mine put it, “how can I be completely fine with someone who has no qualms being a Christian? Were they to take their ideology as they should, they ought to believe that homosexuals are an abomination by virtue of their sexual orientation and nothing more. That’s accepting bigotry.” I understand that this may seem like a rather radical stance in a society used to not criticizing religion all that often, but, unfortunately, there’s much truth to the statement. It’s best to just say things outright than give religion a free pass just because it’s a popular position to hold without much thought.

No, I am not promoting harassing people but I am advocating taking a more…skeptical stance about religion as a whole.

  (Quote)

Esteban R. (Formerly Steven R.) April 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

*we call the practitioners extremists.

One letter makes all the difference.

  (Quote)

cl April 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Bravo. Good to see you’re purging that catchy New Atheist bug…

  (Quote)

Steven Carr April 5, 2011 at 1:05 am

Richard Dawkins points out that we don’t call children, Republican children and Democra children.

Why do we call them Muslim toddlers and Christian toddlers?

How many toddlers have read the Koran in its original language?

  (Quote)

IbnAbuTalib April 5, 2011 at 2:16 am

Cyril: I don’t consider myself to know about Islam to make an informed decision either way, but IbnAbuTalib, when you corrected Michael on what the “core of Islam” is, you said that it’s not the Quran but rather the 5 pillars. Does this mean that the 5 pillars aren’t actually listed in the Quran itself or am I misinterpreting what you said?

The five pillars are mentioned in the Quran as well as in the sayings of the Prophet(saw).

What Michael said was that at the core, Islam is constituted by the Medinan Surahs as opposed to the Quran as a whole. It is true that there are some verses in the Medinan Surahs that may appear violent, but Michael presupposed that such is true of all the verses. Moreover, he erroneously claimed that the Meccan Surahs were abrogated in their entirety, leaving only the “violent” Medinan Surahs for Muslims to read and act upon. Based on this reasoning, the implication of his assertion is that Islam is intrinsically violent.

Again, the core of Islam is not the Quran alone. It is the five things I listed in my previous response. Belief in the Quran comes with Iman which also requires belief in ALL the prophets of God (Noah, Jesus, Moses, etc.), ALL the Angels, ALL the Scriptures and the Day of Judgment. A Muslim who believed in the Quran but did not pray, fast, pay the Zakah or perform the Hajj, unless he has legitimate excuses, will not be punished by God on the Day of reckoning.

Those interested in learning about the essentials of Islam may read the following excellent article
The Jibril Hadith Explained – Essentials of Islam, Iman & Ihsan
http://qa.sunnipath.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=879&CATE=1

  (Quote)

IbnAbuTalib April 5, 2011 at 2:18 am

A Muslim who believed in the Quran but did not pray, fast, pay the Zakah or perform the Hajj, unless he has legitimate excuses, will not be punished by God on the Day of reckoning.

Correction: A Muslim who believed in the Quran but did not……WILL be punished by God.

  (Quote)

Michael April 5, 2011 at 2:58 am

Michael,

I asked you what constitutes the core of Islamto which you replied, “That would be the Qur’an, in particularly the Medinan surahs rather than the Meccan ones because of the law of abrogation as described in Surah 2:106 and 16:101 amongst others.”

False. The core of Islam is constituted by the five pillars. These are shahadah, salat, zakat, sawm and hajj.If you don’t know this basic fact about Islam, then it is safe to say that your knowledge of Islam is severely limited. Of course, you might have authoritative sources to back up your claim that the core of Islam is constituted by the Medinan Surahs of the Quran and I anticipate that in your response you will name these sources. Just so you know, wikiislam or Mark Gabriel don’t count as authorities.

In the meantime, consider the following hadith which recounts the conditions that came with the oath of allegiance Muslims were required to make with the Prophet(saw) in Medina.

Allah’s Apostle said to us while we were in a gathering, “Give me the oath (Pledge of allegiance) for: (1) Not to join anything in worship along with Allah, (2) Not to steal, (3) Not to commit illegal sexual intercourse, (4) Not to kill your children, (5) Not to accuse an innocent person (to spread such an accusation among people), (6) Not to be disobedient (when ordered) to do good deeds. The Prophet added: Whoever amongst you fulfill his pledge, his reward will be with Allah, and whoever commits any of those sins and receives the legal punishment in this world for that sin, then that punishment will be an expiation for that sin, and whoever commits any of those sins and Allah does not expose him, then it is up to Allah if He wishes He will punish him or if He wishes, He will forgive him.” So we gave the Pledge for that. (Shahi Bukhari, Volume 9, Hadith no. 320)

Oh come on, of course I know about the 5 pillars. That’s like the first thing anyone learns about Islam!
I think we just mean different things when talking about core.
I wrote my comment quickly and didn’t take the time to explain exactly what I meant, which is my bad. So when I said primarily the Medinan surahs, I meant that when they do get into conflict, of course the Meccan surahs shouldn’t be the ones that abrogate the Medinan ones.
And I do know about Iman, and the relevant beliefs with respect to one God (Allah), the prophets, the holy books, the angels, the day of judgement and the decrees or predestination of Allah.
What I mean when talking about the core of Islam is the core of Islam specifically with respect to how to treat Jews, Christians, polytheists, women, apostates, adulterers, thieves etc.
The reason I said that is because too many times westerners have quoted peaceful verses at me from the Qur’an, which by no mere coincidence were not spoken by the prophet near the end of his life when he possessed incredible power.
I also mean the life of the prophet Muhammad himself as an example for Muslims, just like the life of Jesus is an example for Christians. I realize that even according to Islam Muhammad sinned whilst there is no record in in the Qur’an of Jesus sinning (yet somehow Muhammad is still greater??), but still seeing as you believe that the New Testament has been corrupted and conveniently every single book of the Bible has apparently been corrupted (though of course the Qur’an is perfect and beautiful ;) ) then we cannot find accurate and detailed account of Jesus’ life.
And so when looking at the example Muhammad set, I don’t find it relevant for today and I hope that Muslims don’t actually read sari etc or else they might try and emulate Muhammad as their example and marry 9 year olds, have 20 wives and be extremely violent declaring war against anyone in the neighbourhood.

So that is why when talking about treatment of Jews, Christians, polytheists, women, apostates etc I would say let’s look at how Muhammad himself treated these people, and let’s look at exactly what he said about them when he had the power he had wanted all along and so was able to say exactly what he wanted.

  (Quote)

Michael April 5, 2011 at 3:02 am

Thanks for the link btw I’ll check it out.

  (Quote)

Curt April 5, 2011 at 3:20 am

Because Luke has taken a position to work on Aritificial Intellegence the world might be a better place in 500 years or perhaps even 50 years than it otherwise would have been.
In my arrogant oppinion what is needed now to make the world a better place in 5 years are more people like Bradely Manning joining the US military. The US military industrial complex (MIC) may not be drop for drop the most evil force in the world, perhaps some third world dictator can make that claim. The US MIC is however the most powerful force for evil in the world. It is the King Cobra of evil on the planet. The only way this snake is going to be put down with out bringing the rest of the world down with it is through internal hemmorraging. It would not be suprising if you are an American and do not recognize America’s guilt. Those working for the NAZIs honestly thought that they were working to save civilization from barbarism too. To say that America is guilty as charged does not mean that we can say any thing about the guilt of any one specific American. That would be like trying to cast guilt on atoms in a Daisy Cutter. What we can say though is that some people are much more guilty than others.
To know exactly who these people are we have to know what did they know, when did they know it , what could they have done about it, and finally what did they do about it.
The US has not only been waging war against the Arab world it has also been waging war against the people of Asia and Latin America for more than one hundred years.
Before that they were content to over run the native people of North America. Even within the US the ruling class has been waging a very one sided war against its own people who have not fought back since the early 1970s.
Young people who recognize this and are willing to take huge risks for no personal gain are needed now more than ever to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Paine, John Brown, Rosa Parks, the Freedom Riders, Malcom X, Russel Means, and Bradely Manning. I am not kidding.
In honor of,
Johanna Schaft
b.16 Sept. 1920 d. 17 April 1945
Concrete Consecration Curt

  (Quote)

Citizen Ghost April 5, 2011 at 3:27 am

Luke,

I think it’s fair to say that the individuals who read your blog posts are not the kind of people who have tormented Chloe or who would ever pee on others human beings. So I truly doubt that you have contributed to the harrassment or torment of Muslims in America.

I appreciate the sentiment you are expressing here. But when we talk about “stereotyping” we risk falling into the trap of imagining that Islam is merely some ethnic minority. As if criticism of ideas and beliefs is tatamount to some sort of racial prejudice. We ought to be very wary of this sort of blurring of values – our freedom of thought and expression depends on maintaining this distinction.

You’re perfectly right to embrace our shared humanity and to point out that most Muslims are not extremists – indeed the primary victims of Muslim extremism are Muslims. (I’m always astonished that even as we claim to be at war with extreme Islam, we actually side with the extremists by agreeing that their vision of Islam is the correct one).

I just hope that your sentiments here, heartfelt as they are, don’t curtail your criticism of religion or the honest discussion of ideas. For while that sort of criticism may deeply offend people, it does not result in the sort of persecution described in your article. Nothing about the criticism of religion – however harsh – should be viewed as a justification for treating other human beings like dirt.

  (Quote)

Curt April 5, 2011 at 3:33 am

An former Catholic athiest does not need to study Islam very much to understand that Islam and Catholicism and Athiests who take ethics serousily have a huge point of ethical agreement. That is it is doing good works that are a key component of ethical behavior.
Of course out environment often makes doing good works very difficult and almost always self sacrificing. So some one that I do not know and have never seen came up with what I think is a really helpful rule of thumb in helping a person to decide what they should and should not do. It like most Buddhist teaching is vague and open ended. That is to me what makes it so practical. It encourages thinking rather than providing an answer. So with out further ado here it is, “You do what you can with who you can when you can.” Could that mean that sometimes have to act alone?

  (Quote)

Michael April 5, 2011 at 5:42 am

Because Luke has taken a position to work on Aritificial Intellegence the world might be a better place in 500 years or perhaps even 50 years than it otherwise would have been.
In my arrogant oppinion what is needed now to make the world a better place in 5 years are more people like Bradely Manning joining the US military.The US military industrial complex (MIC) may not be drop for drop the most evil force in the world, perhaps some third world dictator can make that claim.The US MIC is however the most powerful force for evil in the world.It is the King Cobra of evil on the planet.The only way this snake is going to be put down with out bringing the rest of the world down with it is through internal hemmorraging. It would not be suprising if you are an American and do not recognize America’s guilt.Those working for the NAZIs honestly thought that they were working to save civilization from barbarism too.To say that America is guilty as charged does not mean that we can say any thing about the guilt of any one specific American.That would be like trying to cast guilt on atoms in a Daisy Cutter.What we can say though is that some people are much more guilty than others.
To know exactly who these people are we have to know what did they know, when did they know it ,what could they have done about it,and finally what did they do about it.
The US has not only been waging war against the Arab world it has also been waging war against the people of Asia and Latin America for more than one hundred years.
Before that they were content to over run the native people of North America.Even within the US the ruling class has been waging a very one sidedwar against its own people who have not fought back since the early 1970s.
Young people who recognize this and are willing to take huge risks for no personal gain are needed now more than ever to follow in the footsteps of Thomas Paine, John Brown, Rosa Parks,the Freedom Riders, Malcom X, Russel Means, and Bradely Manning.I am not kidding.
In honor of,
Johanna Schaft
b.16 Sept. 1920 d. 17 April 1945
Concrete Consecration Curt

I am not American, but do you want to back up your repeated assertions that the U.S. Army is the largest force for evil in the entire world or do you want us to take your word for it on blind faith?
There quite a massive jump from saying the U.S. army has done quite a few very bad things in its history to saying that it is the largest evil force in the whole world.
To say such a thing would require an ontological basis for ‘evil’, a very specific criteria for what makes something the most evil, and then doing years of study to look at islamic ideology, communist ideology, nationalist movements, the human heart itself, gangs etc as competing rivals for biggest forces for evil.
I suspect that you haven’t done many of those things and you are simply jumping to conclusions based on a little bit of superficial reading and thinking here and there.

  (Quote)

Curt April 5, 2011 at 8:03 am

Michael,
I expect you to figure it out for yourself.

If there are any potential Bradley Mannings lurking around here before you go to the recruiting office take a trip to another country say Bolivia or Venezuela or Ethiopia or Kenya and then drop by the Cuban or Belarus Embassy for example around closing time for a few days and see if you can spot someone who works in the Embassy. Then make contact with the person a good distance away from the Embassy to let them know what your plans are.
Do not be disappointed if they say that they do not want you to approach them ever again. Things move slowly.
Yes you will be viewed as a traitor by most other Americans. Well most Germans thought that those who tried to kill Hitler were traitors too. Many Germans ooops I mean Americans think that Jane Fonda was a traitor too.

The real traitors are those “children”, in camoflage uniforms, in possesion of nuclear weapons, claiming to protect Americans from very unlikely or even non exsistent threats, while the real threats such as the Bangsters who rob us blind, the psychiatry industry which poisons our children, public schools which fail to educate so many children to internationally competitive standards, and American criminals who kill more Americans every 3 months than Arabs or Muslims have killed in 300 years.
If you want to make real change become sand in the gears of imperialism.
Crackerjack Cardinal Curt

  (Quote)

Felipe Ramos April 5, 2011 at 8:12 am

I do happy that you post about Serry’s story. It is moving and sad.

  (Quote)

Felipe Ramos April 5, 2011 at 8:25 am

Hello IbnAbuTalib,
First of all, my english written is not wonderful as my primary language, American Sign Language. I m sure you will understand me. I do like to warn to hearing people because it prevent from leading the very emotional argument just based misunderstand.
So, your comment is gettting my attention: “Not to join anything in worship along with Allah”. Your Muslim belief do not advocate other all religions ?? I like to ask you because I assume you are devout Muslim. I m puzzle. My friend, who was raise in Agnostic but few years ago converted to Islam. Her engager is also devout Muslim and from Arab. She believe in Islam is a peaceful and beautiful religion as like as your belief. Anyway, she told me that Quran does advocate other religions. I know Islam with very surfacely. It seems you and my friend are different view about Quran. Please, can you explain me?

  (Quote)

Luke Muehlhauser April 5, 2011 at 9:09 am

Citizen Ghost,

‘Yes’ to all that.

  (Quote)

IbnAbuTalib April 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Michael: What I mean when talking about the core of Islam is the core of Islam specifically with respect to how to treat Jews, Christians, polytheists, women, apostates, adulterers, thieves etc. The reason I said that is because too many times westerners have quoted peaceful verses at me from the Qur’an, which by no mere coincidence were not spoken by the prophet near the end of his life when he possessed incredible power.

Even in this sense, you are wrong. The core of Islam specifically with regard to the treatment of non-Muslims, for instance, is not one of fear and intimidation. As the Quran makes it clear, “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.” (Surah 60: 8-9)
In case you didn’t know, Surah 60 is a Medinan Surah.

Recall your original claim that the core of the Quran is constituted by the Medinan Surahs of the Quran. In other words, the essential nature of Islam is defined by the nature of the verses in the Medinan Surahs. Based on the verses I quoted above, and there are many more like them in the Medinan Surahs, it follows that Islam is not essentially violent.

  (Quote)

MarkD April 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

One of the critical lessons from Robert Putnam’s newest book, American Grace, is that the sense of otherness is mediated over time by face-to-face exposure. I taught at a Muslim secondary school during Gulf War I as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I wish everyone could have that experience but, also, came away very concerned about the political and social xenophobia of my counterparts. Conspiracy theories, anti-South Indian prejudice, anti-Gujarati prejudice, anti-Islam, anti-West, anti-indigenous islander…the hit list goes on and on–all while venerating escape to the First World.

A critical take-away was that self-deprecating humor and critique was not part of these cultures. Instead, reverence for elders, the past, the culture, trumped any sense of liberal thinking that challenged the status quo. Paraphrasing Ibn Warraq: when you see a Life of Brian about Mohammed you will know that the Muslim World has entered Modernity.

  (Quote)

Curt April 5, 2011 at 3:24 pm

To me the main topic here seems to be does Islam encourage Muslims to be more agressive than the Bible encourages Christians to be. I think it is important to deferentiate between aggressive and defensive violence. The number of actual pacifists who consider themselves Muslim or Christian are small in number to those who believe that violence in self defense can be justified. To me it seems that Christianity has the greater number of pacifists. That should not be to suprising scince in the story told in the Bible the example set by Jesus when the Roman soldiers came to arrest him was not to fight. Many people interpret that as a clear pacifist example whether or not Jesus actually died on the cross.
I myself have never really seen the Jesus crusifiction story as one encouraging pacifims however. First of all the basic message of the story is that Jesus had to die on the cross to save all of us sinners, or at least save some of us sinners, those who accept his gift, depending on which theory one ascribes to.
I also have to wonder if an absolute pacifist position is even perhaps immoral. When one person allows another to abuse him/her are they not teaching the abuser that the abusive behavior is something that the abuser can get away with? One could call it appeasement and it would even apply to collective enities such as corperations or nations. It is funny though how the US always brings up the appeasment arguement when they themselves are the ones who have benifited from it for the past 55 years if not for the past 300 years from the time that the English colonists waged war against the Pequot Indians.
Everything that I have written up to know has just been a side track from what I wanted to write about. That is something so obvious that I am wonder if I am being foolish for even bothering to mention it. That is Judism is not exactly defined by what is written in the Torah or the Talmud. Christianity is not exactly definded by what is written in the old or new testements of the Bible. Islam is not exactly defined by what is written in the Koran or even by the rulings of the top Islamic Scholars after they have considered the Koran and the Sunnah. Hinduism is not exactly defined by the Vedas. Buddhism is not exactly defined by the sutras. Atheism is not exactly defined by Hitchens.
All of these movements are truely defined by the behavior of those who claim to be followers of the respective religions and or philosophies. That of course means that there is not one Islam and there is not one Christianity, Buddhism, Atheism or whatever else one wants to compare. Therefore I would propose that it is almost worthless to talk about such large entities as I have named here. I would suggest the smaller that one makes the target the more sense it makes to talk about general beliefs or behaviors.
Cresent Crooked Curt

  (Quote)

John April 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm

it seems Michael is either misinformed or purposely trying to misinform your readers. I am currently studying Islam- not from mainstream media which only shines the light on the extremists who themselves have misunderstood the religion.

I would say that Islam at its core, properly exegeted from the Qur’an is indeed a very violent and barbaric religion, but most Muslims are not like that at all.

The Qur’an, when properly exegeted, is quite far from violent or barbaric. It promotes themes of justice, mercy and constantly calls on its adherents to promote good and discourage evil. All chapters save one starts with “In the Name of God, the most Beneficent the most Merciful.

Actually here in Britain quite a high proportion of Muslims worringly do think that terrorism is justified but still I would never say stupid things like, “Muslims hate the West!”

I believe this statement says more about the intentions of Michael than anything else.

But I would say that the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example is very violent in its explanation of how to treat Jews, Christians and infidels, just that most Muslims don’t follow this example.

Again, this has more to do with mainstream media’s portrayal of Islam. You see most of the quotes taken from Qur’an and hadith are either taken out of context or fabricated (usually in the case of hadith we tend to focus on the weak/ fabricated hadiths). The fact is there is a whole chapter in the Qur’an called Mary, Jesus is constantly referred to as the Messiah, and Muslims believe that Jesus will indeed return.

I have loads of Muslim friends and so that isn’t an issue, because the question is who represents the true Islam as personified by the prophet Muhammad?

The one statement I agree with Michael on. We tend to wrongly equate these extremists- who have purposely misinterpreted the Qur’an and Islam to further their own interests- with Islam. Here is a youtube clip talking about the Qur’an by a self described agnostic jew. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7yaDlZfqrc

  (Quote)

zaarcis April 6, 2011 at 1:23 am

@ John
Isn’t “properly exegeted” Quran equal to censored Quran? The same with Bible and etc., but still less than with Quran, imho.

  (Quote)

zaarcis April 6, 2011 at 1:28 am

To make it further – which pages (parts/suras/sentences/phrases/etc) can I tear from Quran as “exegeted”?

  (Quote)

Rufus April 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

@zaarcis

Isn’t “properly exegeted” Quran equal to censored Quran? The same with Bible and etc., but still less than with Quran, imho.

To make it further – which pages (parts/suras/sentences/phrases/etc) can I tear from Quran as “exegeted”?

It’s kind of interesting. I think most fundamentalists and atheists (particularly of the “New” variety) would agree on this point. Everything hangs or falls on whether one’s own literal interpretation of scriptures turns out to be veridical. I would have given up a long time ago on my faith if this is how it’s supposed to be — so would have Augustine.

I am certainly no expert on Qur’anic hermenutical approaches, but there does seem to be a rich tradition that is well beyond a naive literalist’s interpretations. Just look at how divergent Sufism is in its mystical and esoteric readings from that of the Sunni tradition.

I think John’s point is well taken here. So I’d have to say that to equate exegesis with censorship is to already assume that one’s own hermenutical approach is the “proper” one. Since I am no expert in tafsir, I think it is prudent to exercise a little intellectual humility before telling a Muslim how he or she ought to understand his or her own sacred texts.

Respectfully,

“Rufus”

  (Quote)

Zeb April 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Just look at how divergent Sufism is in its mystical and esoteric readings from that of the Sunni tradition.

Rufus, it’s a minor point in this discussion, but most Sufi’s happen to be Sunni’s. Sunni and Shia are the main denominational branches of Islam, and within each you find the full spectrum of spiritual/religious approaches, from militant to pacifist, literalist to esotericist(word?), and non-mystical to extremely mystical.

  (Quote)

John H April 6, 2011 at 3:44 pm

To make it further – which pages (parts/suras/sentences/phrases/etc) can I tear from Quran as “exegeted”?

It’s kind of interesting. I think most fundamentalists and atheists (particularly of the “New” variety) would agree on this point. Everything hangs or falls on whether one’s own literal interpretation of scriptures turns out to be veridical. I would have given up a long time ago on my faith if this is how it’s supposed to be — so would have Augustine.

I am not sure I take the meaning of EXEGESIS to mean “excision”:

Proper exegesis includes using the context around the passage, comparing it with other parts of the Bible, and applying an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing, in an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey. In other words, it is trying to “pull out” of the passage the meaning inherent in it. The opposite of exegesis is eisegesis, which is a person’s particular interpretation of scriptures that are not evident in the text itself.

I am pretty “literal” or “fundamentalist” (two pretty useless words actually) in my reading of scripture, and I understand that to comprehend what the Bible or the Quran says about something as broad as mercy, punishment, justice, etc. requires avoiding proof-texting from isolated passages – which is what many supporters and opponents of both tend to do.

  (Quote)

Brian April 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm

“…applying an understanding of the language and customs of the time of the writing, in an attempt to understand clearly what the original writer intended to convey.”

Yeah, god used to be a total dick, with values always identical to those of his time who were describing him.

Luckily, a god who always has the values of his time now has the values of our time, specifically your values, since you are describing him. Clearly, there can be no more liberal, progressive, and tolerant position than the pro god one. After all, those are your values, amiright?

Value feminism and god’s metaphorical genitalia magically transform. She’s an omnipotent god!

“I am certainly no expert on Qur’anic hermenutical approaches, but there does seem to be a rich tradition that is well beyond a naive literalist’s interpretations.”

Any hermenutical approach that renders the Qur’an valuable as a moral authority (or even legitimate source) also makes Harry Potter valuable, even more so, for the same purposes. There may well be value in studying an interpretive tradition of doublethink because it honed its art of pretending obscene and violent messages are peaceful on such a violent book. That value would be because of the horror of the Qur’an, because the tradition demanded at the point of a sword to respect the book, because the actual morality of the book and its characters is so much worse than that promoted in the worst nonreligious book in an average bookstore.

Tell me Islam is a rich tradition of doublethink and useful intellectual dishonesty, as exemplified by the great achievement of believing the Qu’ran divine and producing personally peaceful and moral citizens. Don’t try and tell me that book is special.

  (Quote)

John H April 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Yeah, god used to be a total dick, with values always identical to those of his time who were describing him.

Luckily, a god who always has the values of his time now has the values of our time, specifically your values, since you are describing him. Clearly, there can be no more liberal, progressive, and tolerant position than the pro god one. After all, those are your values, amiright?

Explicitly no.

Unfortunately, having a discussion requires reading what someone else wrote, or quoted, and interacting with that

No where in either what I quoted, or what I said, is any implication that we understand scripture based on our values today; or that God’s values match the people who are writing about Him.

That, indeed, is the eisegesis specifically mentioned in the quote.

  (Quote)

Rufus April 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Zeb,

Rufus, it’s a minor point in this discussion, but most Sufi’s happen to be Sunni’s. Sunni and Shia are the main denominational branches of Islam, and within each you find the full spectrum of spiritual/religious approaches, from militant to pacifist, literalist to esotericist(word?), and non-mystical to extremely mystical.

Thanks for the correction. I figured that Sufis offer a somewhat different understanding of the Qur’an than mainline Sunnis or Shias. I am quite ignorant of the actual taxonomy of the religion itself–something I will have to remedy.

Brian,

Any hermenutical approach that renders the Qur’an valuable as a moral authority (or even legitimate source) also makes Harry Potter valuable, even more so, for the same purposes. There may well be value in studying an interpretive tradition of doublethink because it honed its art of pretending obscene and violent messages are peaceful on such a violent book. That value would be because of the horror of the Qur’an, because the tradition demanded at the point of a sword to respect the book, because the actual morality of the book and its characters is so much worse than that promoted in the worst nonreligious book in an average bookstore.

Tell me Islam is a rich tradition of doublethink and useful intellectual dishonesty, as exemplified by the great achievement of believing the Qu’ran divine and producing personally peaceful and moral citizens. Don’t try and tell me that book is special.

I think you missed the point of my previous post. I was not advocating a position that the Qur’an is special, or that I think there is any hermenutical approach that would render it as a legitimate source of moral authority. I was merely appealing to something like the principle of charity in light of the fact that many Islamic scholars and theologians have offered such hermentical approaches. What I have seen in this comment thread is precisely what John describes, i.e. proof-texting from isolated passages. Since the vast majority of Muslims live in peace with other groups of people, I would tend to think that they have good explanations for the violent passages in the Qur’an. In the spirit of charity, I would like to remain open to the best Qur’anic exegeses by Islamic scholars who maintain that the religion is peaceful. I do not think it is rationally satisfying to settle for the opinions of non-experts who may have ideological axes to grind. So, I do not find quote-mining from the Qur’an a proof for much at all.

Respectfully,

Rufus

  (Quote)

Brian April 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

“Since the vast majority of Muslims live in peace with other groups of people, I would tend to think that they have good explanations for the violent passages in the Qur’an.”

The principle of explosion?

  (Quote)

Brian April 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

“…or that God’s values match the people who are writing about Him.”

So, the Pentateuch is about Moses’ values?

Numbers 31

1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”

9 The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. 10 They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. 11 They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals, 12 and brought the captives, spoils and plunder to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the Israelite assembly at their camp on the plains of Moab, by the Jordan across from Jericho.

13 Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. 14 Moses was angry with the officers of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—who returned from the battle.

15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

25 The LORD said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community.

Our “record” isn’t of the LORD’s only instruction regarding the captured virgins being their fair division among Israel, that’s just what Moses wrote…in which case, the Old Testament can be acknowledged as inadequate to establish anything, yes?

The LORD’s will regarding this whole episode is being misrepresented?

  (Quote)

Rufus April 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Brian,

The principle of explosion?

You’re a hoot Brian! Sure, let’s go with that explanation. Would you agree, then, that there is no internal necessity within the doctrines of Islam by which violence must emerge? In other words, one need not be violent having adopted every statement from the Qur’an as true.

This is not far from what I am actually saying… A violent person will take the Qur’an and use it to justify violence. A peaceful person will not. So, we ought not judge people based on their religious identifications. To say, “I am a Muslim” does not entail “I am violent.” I took Luke’s point to be that it is in having a “one note” approach to understanding a complex and large group of people that harmful stereotypes emerge. I completely agree. Don’t you?

-Rufus

  (Quote)

Brian April 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm

In other words, one need not be violent having adopted every statement from the Qur’an as true.

One cannot adopt every statement as true without contradiction.

Hence if one tries, anything is permissible.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion

A violent person will take the Qur’an and use it to justify violence. A peaceful person will not.

In this respect the Qur’an is inferior to most books, from Literature to cookbooks to (presumably, I haven’t checked any actual examples) Twilight fan fiction. Rah, rah, Islam!

To say, “I am a Muslim” does not entail “I am violent.”

That’s the great insight? That’s it? That’s it?

I took Luke’s point to be that it is in having a “one note” approach to understanding a complex and large group of people that harmful stereotypes emerge.

Luke did not articulate the full causal chain between a one-note approach by a media source over time and a second party’s wrong stereotype. The problem is quite specific and proximately caused by foolish inferences on the reader’s end which are also necessary causes. An author is free to downgrade content’s conciseness, clarity, relevance, etc. to prevent misunderstanding by a person of arbitrary stupidity and prejudice, but no debasement of content fully solves the problem.

There has to be a “worst religion in the world”. So the 2011 honoree is Islam. So what? Luke feels the need to pander to people who don’t realize that a single sentence doesn’t “capture very well the reality of 1/4 the world’s population”, of which religion is only one feature? Seriously?

  (Quote)

John H April 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Brian

The LORD’s will regarding this whole episode is being misrepresented?

I doubt if you are particularly interested in understanding God’s will in regards to this, or any other episode. As someone who is very interested in God’s will for my life and the life of humanity I certainly have to try to understand the reasons why God wanted a number of ancient residents removed from the land (and life); and their place taken by Isreal.

For you this is a “gotcha” place in scripture for use against Christians and Jews – and that is fine. If you think I have never had this pointed out before (I am thinking of numbering them) then you are a bit confused.

I am perfectly capable of finding all sorts of “gotcha” examples for folks acting outside of faith in God – which I guess you have also heard before and have some answer for. I have stayed away from blogging (and chatting with atheists) because it is a stupid game I am not interested in playing.

For me, it is a difficult place in scripture that helps me understand a God that both has a progressing plan for humanity, and is not a simple “Santa Claus God” that many folks who do not believe like to accuse me of believing in.

  (Quote)

Brian April 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

I am perfectly capable of finding all sorts of “gotcha” examples for folks acting outside of faith in God – which I guess you have also heard before and have some answer for.

I have gotcha examples for people acting without full frontal lobotomies in which having lobotomies would have prevented the evil. Hitler, Bin Laden, various popes, the list goes on and on.

That is not a very good argument for lobotomies.

Arguing that someone did something because of the absence of something is an argument from ignorance and a logical fallacy, not just something I “have an answer for”. Your inability to imagine someone acting better other than by their believing in a god (or is it necessary to believe in not more than one God?) does not persuade those who already know how those people could have acted better without a god.

Those who advocate specific things aren’t logically required to defend the consequences of that specific thing plus something they don’t believe. Those who believe A, A–>B, B may do so despite others believing A, A–>B, A–>-B.

There’s much wrong with believing it likely an alien created this universe and ordered a Moses to do what Moses is recorded as doing.

But there’s a lot more wrong with believing that said alien is good, or less coherently, the source of goodness.

  (Quote)

Rufus April 6, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Brian,

One cannot adopt every statement as true without contradiction.

Hence if one tries, anything is permissible.

Yes, this is the principle of explosion. So I think we agreed on this point. Right? So my point would be, at best there may be a proper exegesis of the Qur’an which promotes peace and non-violence even in light of explicitly violent texts, at worst the Qur’an is filled with contradictions and Muslims pick and choose the verses which affirm the way they want to live their lives. Either way, there is no sense in calling Islam a violent religion in itself. Yes, there are violent practitioners of the religion, but the same would hold for a multitude of other groups whose members number around a billion (unless it were the set of all non-violent persons or something like that).

To say, “I am a Muslim” does not entail “I am violent.”

That’s the great insight? That’s it? That’s it?

Yes, I would admit it is not very insightful. But, sometimes commonsense needs to be articulated. Again, it seems that we agree here… It is a one-note portrayal and it is incorrect!

Luke did not articulate the full causal chain between a one-note approach by a media source over time and a second party’s wrong stereotype. The problem is quite specific and proximately caused by foolish inferences on the reader’s end which are also necessary causes. An author is free to downgrade content’s conciseness, clarity, relevance, etc. to prevent misunderstanding by a person of arbitrary stupidity and prejudice, but no debasement of content fully solves the problem.

I am not so clear on this point. You seemed to agree that this one-note approach is incorrect (given your reliance on the explosion principle and your insistence that my point was not very insightful) and then you seem to be arguing that removing “one-noted” content is a downgrade. How so? I would think that he has upgraded his content by offering a more complex picture of Islam within a global society. Still, even if Luke has debased his content, whether this debasement is morally incorrect/correct does not depend upon whether the problem is fully solved (assuming his desire-based rule utilitarianism or most any other moral system). It need only promote desires that tend to promote desire fulfillment and thwart desires that tend to thwart other desires (or however he or Fyfe phrase it). Whatever the moral system assumed, fully solving a problem is an extremely high burden to place on proving that an action is morally correct. Was that your point there?

-Rufus

  (Quote)

John H April 6, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Arguing that someone did something because of the absence of something is an argument from ignorance and a logical fallacy, not just something I “have an answer for”. Your inability to imagine someone acting better other than by their believing in a god (or is it necessary to believe in not more than one God?) does not persuade those who already know how those people could have acted better without a god.

You may find I do not fit into these stereotypes either. First, I have never said that I think violence has anything to do with whether folks operate from a belief in God, or not. I think human beings act badly at times for all sorts of reasons.

Which means I would not argue that atheists engaging in horrific slaughter has anything to do with what they do not believe; and has everything to do with what they do believe (which has nothing to do with God). Nor do I really believe that folks of faith who engage in horrific slaughter generally do it because of their belief in God. Indeed, at the core I think that most atheists and people who believe in God who engage in horrific slaughters probably have similiar motives driving their actions.

I also do not believe that people who believe in God act better than people who do not believe in God. It is far, far more complicated and interesting than thinking that faith in God is some kind of “silver bullet” against bad behavior.

  (Quote)

Brian April 7, 2011 at 10:15 am

So my point would be, at best there may be a proper exegesis of the Qur’an which promotes peace and non-violence…Either way, there is no sense in calling Islam a violent religion in itself.

If by “proper” you mean just as wrong as violent exegeses, to the extent one error disqualifies a metaphysics where it claims certainty, then sure. However, 1) it’s not clear that the “proper”, peaceful exegesis has fewer fatal reasoning wounds than a violent one. They are equally bad from the perspective that so long as one has a fatal wound, a hundred aren’t worse than ten. Yet certain violent exegeses really may have fewer contortions, assumptions, and plain logical fallacies forming the warp and weft of the belief system, and 2) a hermeneutical system the foundation of which is to peacefully interpret whatever gristle of tradition and texts it processes is an intellectually bankrupt one, particularly if it extols the gristle.

So, Islam can legitimately be called a violent religion as 1) its least unreasonable interpretation is ghastly, 2) its traditions and books are worse than random ones, 3) all else equal, its followers advocate and commit more violence than they otherwise would have. To call it the most violent religion of 2011, one would then have to compare it to the other violent ones.

Of further interest may be the second derivative of violence, by which one may project a different religion to be most violent in 2111, or the most violent relative to its available power. Relevant facts would be the diversions Islam takes from extolling killing the infidel to extolling hating him, as against the Pentateuch in which there is a laser-like focus on dealing with non-coreligionists by sword and without emotional consideration. Islam is “better” than other religions in this and many other respects, that is just one example. Islam is better, praise be to Allah!

Yes, there are violent practitioners of the religion, but the same would hold for a multitude of other groups whose members number around a billion…

To be a South American, or an Arabian, or Cricket enthusiast, to name groups of people with some violent members, does not mean that one believes falsities that are causal mechanisms behind evil behavior.

You seemed to agree that this one-note approach is incorrect…

No, it is not incorrect.

Certain inferences from hearing true one-notes are incorrect. If an atheist website only discusses how religions are factually wrong and how that leads to more evil than good, and I infer that all purported followers of a religion are evil, or that I should treat members of a religion as if evil, or that green jellybeans are poisonous, that’s my problem. For some people who would do that, certain disclaimers would fix their problem, e.g. saying that “Even though Islam is the most violent religion in the world, its epistemology is a sack of lies and doublethink, and its holy texts are worse in almost every respect for their intended purpose than a random book at a bookstore, and worse in many respects than a random string of characters, green jellybeans are not poisonous,” some people would be enlightened by that and no longer believe green jellybeans poisonous. Or, “it is wrong to harass schoolgirls whose parents tell them they are Muslim (‘Muslim schoolgirls’)”. Of course, people too stupid to realize that in the first place will often not be affected by such disclaimers…so the disclaimer can function as a mere salve for the liberal author to feel fair and tolerant.

  (Quote)

Brian April 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

I also do not believe that people who believe in God act better than people who do not believe in God. It is far, far more complicated and interesting than thinking that faith in God is some kind of “silver bullet” against bad behavior.

Or being a god, apparently.

First, I have never said that I think violence has anything to do with whether folks operate from a belief in God, or not.

Then what does the following mean?

I am perfectly capable of finding all sorts of “gotcha” examples for folks acting outside of faith in God…

My point is not that Moses was bad because he believed in a god. My point is that if the Bible is at all true, the alien described therein is unworthy of worship.

If it isn’t at all true…

  (Quote)

John H April 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

Brian

as against the Pentateuch in which there is a laser-like focus on dealing with non-coreligionists by sword and without emotional consideration.

I will leave Judaism to deal with the Pentateuch as they will, but for 99% of Christians it is not (along with all the Levitical laws just in case you want to go there) not – in any way – a guide for current action anywhere. Whatever your views of the source, it was a specific socio-historical context with a particular group of people. It is both astounding, and telling, that atheists are really forced to go there in these kind of conversations (along with the Crusades and the Inquisition).

Then what does the following mean?

It means what I said

. . . it is a stupid game I am not interested in playing.

and

at the core I think that most atheists and people who believe in God who engage in horrific slaughters probably have similiar motives driving their actions.

Again, reading what you are responding to seems a secondary consideration for you. Ahhh, the joys of proof-texting . . .

My point is that if the Bible is at all true, the alien described therein is unworthy of worship.

Believed in aliens long? Any proof of their existence, or do you take their existence on faith?

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

I’m not sure you need to apologise as long as you make a distinction between Islam the religion according the Qur’an and the traditions (Hadith, Suna etc) on the one hand, and Muslims themselves on the other hand. I would say that Islam at its core, properly exegeted from the Qur’an is indeed a very violent and barbaric religion, but most Muslims are not like that at all. …But I would say that the Qur’an and Muhammad’s example is very violent in its explanation of how to treat Jews, Christians and infidels, just that most Muslims don’t follow this example. I have loads of Muslim friends and so that isn’t an issue, because the question is who represents the true Islam as personified by the prophet Muhammad?

Well said, and exactly the point. Unfortunately, we use the blunt argument of “most Muslims are peaceful” as a reliable referent to what Islam actually teaches. We also use the inexact term ‘fundamentalist’ to equate dedicated Muslims and people of other religions, as well as the term ‘extremist.’ Unfortunately, while all fundamentalists may be dedicated to their faith, not all fundamentalists are extremist of violent – except that as a RULE, most fundamentalist Muslims ARE violent, but they aren’t being extreme – they are following the rule and example of Mohammed.

We don’t want to make life hard for the many nice muslims who ignore the violent and hateful teachings of their prophet, but we must also not withhold our scorn for the teachings of Mohammed – it is literally like failing to criticize Mein Kamf because we know that most people in the Nazi party aren’t Jew haters. The problem is, if you follow Nazism or Islam, you MUST be a Jew hater, not to mention comitted to Shariah if you are Muslim

I think that your well-meant apologies lack the balance – can we promote good will towards Muslims yet vehemently and vocally reject their Prophet? We must.

  (Quote)

piero April 8, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Luke, I’m sorry to say this, but the story of Serry, her husband and Chloe reads like a second-rate script for a third-rate tear-jerker. Let’s consider some sober, objective facts:

- Half the population have below-average IQs.
- Most people all over the world, even the brighter ones, are mean jerks.
- Children are particularly adept at being cruel.

These are well-known facts which parent ignore not only at their own risk, unfortunately, but at their children’s too.

Was Serry such a committed Muslim that allegiance to her faith was more important than her child’s happiness? In that case, why did she choose to live in kafirland and why did she refuse to go back to Palestine? Is economic well-being more important than faith? Then how serious was her commitment to Islam? Serious enough to make her want to wear a hijab, serious enough to make her daughter go through hell, but not serious enough to give up the perks of a Western lifestyle?

Am I justifying the hideous harassment Serry’s daughter was subjected to? Of course not. But it is a fact of life that shit happens, that people are mean, that children are mostly obnoxious little fascists, that even in the best possible scenario things won’t improve any time soon. That’s objective truth. What is a parent who is genuinely concerned about his or her children’s well-being to do?

  (Quote)

Brian April 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

at the core I think that most atheists and people who believe in God who engage in horrific slaughters probably have similiar motives driving their actions.

Often, people bring up an atheist killing others in an attempt to prove an absence of belief in any god leads to evil. This is fallacious. It would be valid to bring up that atheist to show that that atheist is unworthy of praise or worship.

Often, people bring up a theist killing others in an attempt to prove the presence of belief in any god leads to evil. This is fallacious. It would be valid to bring up that theist to show that that theist is unworthy of praise or worship. (It would also be valid to show that all else equal, a belief in that particular god leads to evil.)

The god of the Old Testament, if at all reliably described, is unworthy of praise or worship. This does not mean anything in particular about those who believe (they believe) in him. That’s the difference between my citation of the god Christians believe in and the usual citation of a person doing wrong.

Believed in aliens long? Any proof of their existence, or do you take their existence on faith?

No, I do not believe extra-terrestrial intelligences, natural or supernatural, have intervened in the Earth’s affairs…unlike most theists, including all Christians.

Possibly some being has wiggled a tentacle or something in some moon of a gas giant orbiting a star in another galaxy or something, and this has had unmeasurable gravitational effects here. If one considers the probability life here has advanced according to its median time to happen at each stage, we have a German tank problem style problem with comically few data points, so it’s likely that there is, was, or will be at least some other life out there somewhere.

1 (i.e. 100%) is not a probability, and faith is incoherent.

  (Quote)

John H April 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

The god of the Old Testament, if at all reliably described, is unworthy of praise or worship.

Actually, if God’s actions in the Old Testament are reliably described, then he is absolutely worthy of praise and worship – because as God he is the arbitor of right and wrong, good and evil. If God is as described in the Old Testament, he wrote the rules. You can strive to understand them, or not – but they cannot simply be dismissed as if our man-made morality is either superior or primary.

  (Quote)

John H April 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm

(It would also be valid to show that all else equal, a belief in that particular god leads to evil.)

Generally, we agree. There are a couple of things:
1. As in the comment above, if you are going to grant a Creator God then you have to grant that God would have the right to do with his creatures things his creatures couldnt do to or with each other.
2. I think this comment applies to those with an ideological base as well as a theological one; and could have been included in the comment on those who do not believe in God. Certainly, I believe that American exceptionalism and Democracy form the basis of a civil religion in the US; and that the nationalism in other countries (or Marxism, etc) constitute civil/ideological religions as well – they just do not have a diety as their central figure. This would put the spread of American civil religion to the world as perhaps a challenger to those who wish to spread Islam as the most important cause of violence in 2011.

I believe the imposition of abstract utopianian visions on to imperfect humanity in order to create “new people” (even if you have to kill the old people to do it) is the primary reason for the horrendous violence of the modern age. If that is the case, then it is the belief that a “New Man” can grow out of the barrel of a gun that is the core issue both for people who believe in God and those that do not.

  (Quote)

Brian April 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

as God he is the arbitor of right and wrong, good and evil.

I no longer think that is the case. If I create a being roughly equivalent to me, and we forget who created whom, but remember that one created the other, this would not mean that for decisions affecting only the two of us, the right answer is a superposition of each of us being morally superior. Rather, we are just equal. By extension, we are equal if we remember who created whom or neither created the other.
As an example, assume that for two people with identical life expectancy, experience, etc. in a lifeboat, it is morally wrong to kill in the following case: if neither kills and eats the other, both will die too weak to eat the corpse of whoever dies first of natural causes; if one kills and eats the other, he may live. Knowing that neither created the other, killing is not right. Knowing that one created the other, but not which, would not make randomly deciding who dies right. Knowing that A created B would not make killing B right.
If an alien intelligence exists, its desires are not excluded from the tally of sentient beings’, but neither omniscience nor anything else makes unimportant the other beings’ desires.

cannot simply be dismissed as if our man-made morality is either superior or primary.

No real being can be excluded from morality, so if there is a god then atheist moral systems’ computed outputs are deficient. But sophisticated ones are trivially easy to update in case of a god and even update automatically, they are formats for plugging in real beings’ real desires, flexible enough to update with each new human or discovered human previously in hermitage on a Pacific atoll or fish species previously sealed away in a glacier for 1,000 years, etc. There’s nothing about a logically possible god’s desires that could reduce the value of all other desires to zero. It is logically possible that the best outcome in general involves our current rate of natural disasters and ordering killing Amalekites, Moabites, Canaanites, etc., but not plausible.

if you are going to grant a Creator God then you have to grant that God would have the right to do with his creatures things his creatures couldnt do to or with each other.

Probably not what he supposedly did.

I believe the imposition of abstract utopianian visions on to imperfect humanity in order to create “new people” (even if you have to kill the old people to do it) is the primary reason for the horrendous violence of the modern age.

Two causes:
i) Humans overestimate the positive impact from acts involving destruction, which is as you said. In other words, humans perceive that they are in trolley problems more often than they are, and they see the salvation of the five more often than is likely. When humans really are in trolley problems, it is right to kill the one, but when the chance of saving the five is less than 20%, humans systematically overestimate it. This is what I think is the best way to understand what I understood you as saying. http://lesswrong.com/lw/uv/ends_dont_justify_means_among_humans/
ii) The idea that truth is something revealed to be guarded rather than discovered, such that it is reasonable to conclude that debate is not the best path to the truth. Religion is uniquely bad at this.
http://lesswrong.com/lw/lo/uncritical_supercriticality/ http://lesswrong.com/lw/lz/guardians_of_the_truth/

“New Man” can grow out of the barrel of a gun

http://lesswrong.com/lw/m0/guardians_of_the_gene_pool/

  (Quote)

John H April 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

If I create a being roughly equivalent to me, and we forget who created whom, but remember that one created the other, this would not mean that for decisions affecting only the two of us, the right answer is a superposition of each of us being morally superior.

Both true, and the major rub probably between us – I do not think we and God are even roughly equivalent. Probably because I believe God exists outside of his creation.

No real being can be excluded from morality

I do not believe God is a “real being” in the sense you are probably using it.

There’s nothing about a logically possible god’s desires that could reduce the value of all other desires to zero. It is logically possible that the best outcome in general involves our current rate of natural disasters

I do not really believe that a functional moral system is built on balancing desire on a meta-level; so I really do not think the question is whether God’s desires reduce the value of my desires to zero. The theological answer is that if I understand God’s desires, then they should become my desires; and if I desire something antagonistic to God’s desires than I am simply irrational. Also, I believe that natural disasters are just that – natural.

The idea that truth is something revealed to be guarded rather than discovered, such that it is reasonable to conclude that debate is not the best path to the truth.

There is not the separation here I think you imply. There is truth both revealed, and discovered. Most of use have much of our truth both guarded and revealed; and not discovered. It may be history books, the scientific academy, theologians, etc. – but most of use do not discover any truth for ourselves. We believe in a truth presented to us by others that we trust.

I think debate is certainly the best route to understanding – especially each other. Whether it is the best way to truth depends on whether either of the debaters actually knows the truth.

  (Quote)

Zeeshan Rizvi April 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

The fact that you can acknowledge a possibility for error is more than enough to forgive you. If any muslim denounces you or your work after reading this, it is not your wrong, it is theirs.

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 14, 2011 at 11:17 am

>> BRIAN: Often, people bring up an atheist killing others in an attempt to prove an absence of belief in any god leads to evil. This is fallacious.

This reasoning is not fallacious, it is merely just dissimilar to the religion leads to violence arguments. My take:

ATHEISM
1. Belief in atheism logically requires a commitment to subjective morals (no external referent)
2. Belief in subjective morals leads to justification of exterminations of dissidents ‘for the sake of the whole’ (often, bolstered by Social Darwinism)
3. Therefore, atheism, when scaled up to a majority, logically ends in exterminations and cruelty.

This is basically an ‘ultimate power corrupts ultimately’ argument. You may disagree with either of the first two premises, but I think history supports the reality of them. I am aware of atheists who believe in objective morals, but the problem is, though they (rightly) are able to identify objective morals, their atheistic presuppositions give them no LOGICAL means of making those assertions.

RELIGION
1. Religion asserts objective morals by Divine Command without logical support for its claims
2. Without reference to reason, religions can claim any moral grounds they want, including genocide and sectarian superiority
3. Therefore, religion leads to violence.

This again, seems an ‘ultimate power corrupts ultimately’ argument. Where I disagree with this is that Christian morality is NOT merely based on Divine Command, but also on such principles as the value of human life and flourishing, racial equality, etc. I understand the ‘biblical’ arguments against such things, but I think history again shows that Reformed Protestant Christianity has produced abolition, the valuing of human life, the founding of hospitals, universities, and service organizations.

Other religions, specifically Islam, produce violence, not because RELIGION or DIVINE COMMAND produces them, but because the direct teachings of Islam and the life of Mohammed directly teach violence.

  (Quote)

Brian April 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

“1. Belief in atheism logically requires…

You may disagree with either of the first two premises, but I think history supports the reality of them.”

Logically true arguments are true in all logically possible worlds. History tells you which logically possible world you are in. Therefore, history cannot support a logical argument, such as the argument that belief in something logically requires belief in something else.

History supports the argument that people sometimes conclude that “Belief in atheism logically requires a commitment to subjective morals”. It also supports an even more astounding one, the argument that people actually accept it when others say “Religion asserts objective morals by Divine Command”, regardless of the support for its truth claims.

In any case, to go from atheism to something bad, the absence of an infinity of other things has to be assumed. People for whom atheism would cause them to be evil have to also lack the belief in a non-intelligent, ontologically fundamental force (having nothing to do with morality) that would cause them to explode were they to, say, touch metal, or try and harm another being, somewhat like in Damon Knight’s not very well written A Reasonable World.

Specifying the absence of one thing from someone’s mind as a cause for their actions is generally bizarre as there is an infinity of absences there, unless it’s their whole pituitary gland or something like that. Specifying the presence of something as a necessary cause is not, as it is understood that were this removed, an infinity of things could instead have led them to undertake the same action. Belief in Allah is necessary for most Taliban, although a Professor-X like Bin Laden could perhaps motivate them to do the same things instead. Lack of belief in Jesus as Super Special is not a cause of a Taliban member’s actions any more than the absence of belief that Petraeus has Professor-X like powers.

  (Quote)

Zeeshan Rizvi April 15, 2011 at 7:13 am

Islam taught as much violence as Judaism or Christianity did. Matter of fact they ALL promoted violence. Besides violence isn’t absolutetly wrong, if only you can prove the intent for violence was wrong then you can justify it. What were the crusades? Did not the Jews crucify Jesus? Last time I checked nailing someone to a cross then leaving him there to die is pretty up there on the violence scale. If you want to point fingers at Islam being related violence I suggest you take a look at the history of the other monotheistic religions as well.

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 15, 2011 at 1:47 pm

>> ZR: Islam taught as much violence as Judaism or Christianity did.

Please show from the New Testament where Christianity teaches violence.

I agree that in the OT, the Jews were commanded to do some violent things, but they are in a very degree different than Islam.

1. Capital crimes were for those who were Jews, not for those who were not.
2. The conquering of the promised land and some enemies were one time events, not a general prescription for conquering the entire world, as Islam teaches. Hence, you don’t see Jews conquering their neighbors for land today.

I agree that Islam and Judaism do share some violent commands and history, but Christianity does not teach such at all, and Islam certainly does, right?

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 15, 2011 at 1:51 pm

>> BRIAN: History supports the argument that people sometimes conclude that “Belief in atheism logically requires a commitment to subjective morals”

Brian, I’m sorry if I was unclear, but what I mean is that (1) logic indicates that atheism demands subjective moralism, which leads to justification of evil when men come into power, and (2) history shows that EVERY atheist-led country ends in the most cruel justification of murder (think communism/socialism).

And just to head this off, let’s keep Hitler out of this, since he was neither Christian nor atheist, but racist, occultist and Darwinist ;).

  (Quote)

Daniel Almeida April 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

>> BRIAN: History supports the argument that people sometimes conclude that “Belief in atheism logically requires a commitment to subjective morals”Brian, I’m sorry if I was unclear, but what I mean is that (1) logic indicates that atheism demands subjective moralism, which leads to justification of evil when men come into power, and (2) history shows that EVERY atheist-led country ends in the most cruel justification of murder (think communism/socialism).And just to head this off, let’s keep Hitler out of this, since he was neither Christian nor atheist, but racist, occultist and Darwinist ;).

Hitler was a Christian- through and through. It is quite obvious if you ever read “Mien Kumpf”! But that is detracting from the real issue here- which I thought was debunked a while ago. Just because more people died under atheistic rules DOESN’T MEAN ATHEISM IS RESPONSIBLE. Atheism is NOT a religion or a philosiphy. All it entails is not believing in God. You can be an Atheist communist OR capitalist. If you read up on these regimes, the problem isn’t that if you are too far on one side, a lot of people die- it is when you are too far on EITHER side of the political spectrum (capitalist OR communist) that your society begins to crumble. Besides- If you’d ever actually done any research into these “big bad atheist contries”, you’d find that a lot of the people who died died from instances like “the great leap foward”. This is hardly murder- it’s a sloppy government, which is the result of being a communist. The same thing happend in fascist nations to (like the previously mentioned Hitlers Germany).

Now when it comes to darwinism- it cponfuses me at why the hell people hate it so much. Open your eyes- we are living in one! Why do you think people learn about darwinist philosiphy in law and business courses? Capitalism is pretty much a darwinistic system. And look how successful Capitalist nations tend to be?

One last thing that kills your argument- Atheists don’t usually want an “atheist government”. What w desire is a SECULAR government. There is a HUGE difference between the two. An atheist regime would have the same effect on believers that christian ones have on atheists such as myself. BUT- if we have a secular government (like many successful Europian countries) than we can ALL win.

  (Quote)

Duesticially April 18, 2011 at 10:28 am

>> ZR: Islam taught as much violence as Judaism or Christianity did. Please show from the New Testament where Christianity teaches violence.I agree that in the OT, the Jews were commanded to do some violent things, but they are in a very degree different than Islam.1. Capital crimes were for those who were Jews, not for those who were not.2. The conquering of the promised land and some enemies were one time events, not a general prescription for conquering the entire world, as Islam teaches. Hence, you don’t see Jews conquering their neighbors for land today.I agree that Islam and Judaism do share some violent commands and history, but Christianity does not teach such at all, and Islam certainly does, right?

Christianity doesn’t teach “violence”- although Judaism (which is a part o it does). Fortunatley, liberal christains don’t have this problem. Its conservative christians that need to explain them away

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 18, 2011 at 10:43 am

>> DA: Hitler was a Christian- through and through. It is quite obvious if you ever read “Mien Kumpf”!

Dream on dude. He called himself one, but his views are anything but Christian. He was an occultist Darwinist in the content of his faith. His Christianity was a warped, posturing set of ideas that he mislabeled Christian.

>> DA: Just because more people died under atheistic rules DOESN’T MEAN ATHEISM IS RESPONSIBLE

Actually, I have shown how atheism’s misunderstanding of reality and human nature inevitably leads to cruelties when adopted on a large scale. History confirms such a chain of logical progress in atheism. Whether or not you think atheism is ‘responsible’ doesn’t matter. It’s whether or not a logical progression can be explained and supported by evidence.

>>DA: Atheism is NOT a religion or a philosiphy.

This is really a dodge that reveals a lack of introspection on the part of atheists. Atheism has significant religious, philosophic, and moral implications even if it is incomplete as a system of thought. Adopting it commits one to certain world view features which are compatible with a limited set of other views in science, ethics, and many other views. We all know it’s incomplete as a world view, but that doesn’t absolve it of having strong implications and congruence with other views that are often adopted along with it. To deny or ignore this is self-deception, if not outright intellectual dishonesty.

>> DA: If you read up on these regimes, the problem isn’t that if you are too far on one side, a lot of people die

Of course, ultimate power corrupts ultimately regardless of what system you adopt – hence our system of balanced powers. This is due to the brokenness (sinfulness) of humans. However, my argument is that atheism, when scaled up, ALWAYS leads to cruelty because subjective moralism, which it is logically comitted to (even if atheists rightly contradict themselves by admitting that objective morals exist), allows it to justify cruelty in the name of the whole.

>> DA: This is hardly murder- it’s a sloppy government, which is the result of being a communist.

Interesting justification of murder – they were just following orders too, huh?

>> DA: The same thing happend in fascist nations to (like the previously mentioned Hitlers Germany).

Despite the similarities between communism and national socialism, Nazi Germany had some unique particulars that can not be traced directly back to atheism. Of course, it was not atheistic, but it was Darwinist in its outlook. That’s a whole other story covered by many.

>> DA: Now when it comes to darwinism- it cponfuses me at why the hell people hate it so much. Open your eyes- we are living in one!

“I can’t understand” = “I am unwilling to understand.” People dislike it for different reasons – it contradicts their understanding of scripture, it contradicts what we see in nature, it lends itself to social darwinism, it’s bad science, it’s philosophy of science masquerading as real science, etc. Take your pick.

>> DA: Atheists don’t usually want an “atheist government”. What w desire is a SECULAR government. There is a HUGE difference between the two.

I agree. The problem is that most secularists (and many atheists) are anti-theist, and their lack of love for religionists, once secularists get into power, metastasizes into persecution. The other problem is that atheism proper, with it’s love for empirical truth, can not stand by while religion has any power among the citizens – like Chris Hitchens, it believes that religion is anti-reason, and is bad for society (“poisons everything.”). This leads to official sanction or worse. It’s a nearly inevitable outcome of people who think religion is bad.

  (Quote)

dgsinclair April 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

Christianity doesn’t teach “violence”- although Judaism (which is a part o it does). Fortunatley, liberal christains don’t have this problem. Its conservative christians that need to explain them away

And how to liberal christians explain them away?

  (Quote)

Zeeshan Rizvi April 26, 2011 at 11:12 am

I think everyone here needs to tone down their arrogance and actually adopt some of the principles they seem to be defending. Regardless of what each person may think to be true, sincerity and humbleness are not to be disregarded. If your entire purpose of researching and spending restless nights seeking “truth” was to rub it in someone’s face that their wrong and denounce their misinformation then you don’t deserve to obtain that knowledge.

  (Quote)

Zeeshan Rizvi April 26, 2011 at 11:32 am

Hmm it seems to me that no one seems to be regarding the fact that this story actually happened. This is just one story of countless ones although not all may be this harsh. Regardless of the fact that these people are muslim, before they are muslims, they’re human beings. NO innocent person should be treated like that. Our media and informers have clearly done something wrong if this is the outcome of their actions. No one should be shunned by society, regardless of what we may think they represent. They never did anything wrong, but we rally around our actions finding every way to justify them. You should not insult someone or make them feel lesser than you simply because you think they have based their entire lives on beliefs that are wrong. That itself is wrong and if this is evident then why do we continue to do it? I think anyone who has spent hours and hours of research and restless nights searching for the “truth”, only to rub it in another person’s face and insult them, does NOT deserve to obtain that knowledge. If you know something to be true, don’t keep it to yourself and think of yourself any higher than anyone else, for you too were the same until you discovered that truth. I think that any individual who has no regard for sincerity and humblness when explaining to another person that there is possibility for error in their beliefs, deserves to have any knowledge of truth at all. Before you go out seeking truth, learn how to go about using it.

  (Quote)

skeptic April 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm

dgsinclair

Perhaps , if you’re defining atheism as “the belief with certainty that no God exists.” However, their have been plenty of agnostic atheist leaders. You can wiki/google it for yourself.

As for your claim that “no objective morality is possible” without a God; it again depends on the definition used. I care not to get into a quibble over semantics though. I would consider myself a Moral Error Theorist, though Alonzo’s desire utilitarianism and Kantianism seem plausible to me. How much time have you put into studying meta-ethics? You seem pretty “sure” that objective morality is not possible without a God.

A last note. You state that “atheist morality when scaled up (rationally/correctly), always leads to subjective moralism.” I think you need to clear this point up…a lot. Subjective moralism, as traditionally defined by moral philosophers supposes that something can still be “objectively” good; for that person or for that culture.

I think you might have meant that atheism necessarily leads one , if thinking rationally, to adopt moral error theory. HOWEVER, no normative consequence flows from the adoption of moral error theory. As a moral theorist, I could rationally prefer the destruction of the entire world over the scratching of my finger :) Or….I could want to adopt a Kantian view of action; not because it’s a correct moral theory, but simply because I desire to in accordance with maxims that can be universalized.

A senate full of atheists that are moral error theorists could push forward a plan of maximizing conscious well-being at the sake of everything else (which I’m sure will seem “cruel” to many, especially of the religious right) OR they could push forward laws based on virtue ethics. Nothings necessarily follows from moral error theory.

You could try to make the claim that a large base of atheist leaders would be more likely to push forward certain kinds of laws, despite the fact that moral error theory and non belief in intrinsic value doesn’t necessarily lead to anything. However, I don’t think you’ve even begun to do this.

  (Quote)

Hisham Samir July 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Dear Friend Luke Muehlhauser
First of all thank you and I hope you read this patiently to the end.
I’m a Muslim living in Egypt, I know the Quran and the Hadith very well. Islam in truth is a religion of peace tolerance and compassion those words have been mentioned in the Quran about 355 times while the word Jihad mentioned about 41 times.
Every non Muslim who reads the Quran must refer to history, to know that the period where Islam ignited its first steps in the world was called the Dark Era, Rome frome the west Invading the world, the Persians from the East Invading the world and on the Peninsula between them there was the beginning of Islam, moreover the non believers started to torture Muslims, so they immigrated out there home lands, among all these circumstances the Islam had to find ways to stand against these powers, so there were must be rules for war and how to restore rights.
Some people gets specific parts from the Quran for example
Sura 2:191 (and kill them wherever you find them and get them out of where the place they thrown you out and the sedition is greater than killing and don’t fight them at the Kaaba until the fight them inside it, if they fight you kill them this is the punishment of unbelievers)
Once you read them you will understand that Islam is a religion of violence I fully Agree if I read only this but lets read it in its context from the previous verse to the end.
Sura 2:190 Says (and fight in the path of Allah those who fights you and don’t start aggression because Allah don’t love Aggressors) I think this is clear and the next verse which is the verse 191 we mentioned before is speaking about those who started aggression not because they’re unbelievers, on the contrary they fault us because we’re Muslims.
Sura 2:191 (and kill them wherever you find them and get them out of where the place they thrown you out and the temptation is greater than killing and don’t fight them at the Kaaba until the fight them inside it, if they fight you kill them this is the punishment of unbelievers) here is the verse again just to put every thing in its juxtaposition
Sura 2:192 Says (And if they Stop fighting you so God is forgiving and Merciful) you now can understand that its telling us that you fight aggressors and if those aggressors stop fighting and feel beaten what we do kill them? exterminate them? no we forgive them because Allah is forgiving so how should be we?.
Sura 2:193 Says: (and fight them to not let there be temptation and to make the religion only for Allah and if they stop, don’t fight but those who are still oppressing)
Sura 2:194 Says (the sacred month with the sacred month and this privacy is a revenge so if they Assault you Assault them with the same thing they Assaulted you, and fear Allah and know that Allah loves who fears him ) here its telling us that who Assaults us must be Assaulted only with the same Assault he practiced against us and the meaning of fearing Allah is pointing to not add to the Assault any thing more because Allah is watching us and counting our acts
I can drive you the same thing for every verse people considers violent and you have to put in consideration that these rules and more were fixed to face the wars around this small emerging nation which started with only one man then 6 then tenth of people depressed and tortured and these rules helped them to stand against all this and grow to be the second religion in the world and its the most growing if you tried to follow statistics you will find this fact.
Regarding Qaida Organization and Osama Ben Ladin you all have to refer to history to know that the US and the CIA built them funded and armed them to fight the Soviets and those extremists are not relying on any Islamic basis except there reputation, and tell me if our book is violent why aren’t we all terrorists and why Muslim scholars not (Islamist Extremist Scholars) didn’t consider those who explode themselves in Iraq Afghanistan as Martyrs and most of us consider them terrorists despite they are fighting in there home land against invaders, so figure out our position from the 9/11

Finally look after Muslims Scientific Achievements during the middle ages and you will know that they’re the founders of many modern sciences and that they were very honest translating the sciences of the eldest, referring every thing to its real owner which western scientists didn’t do copying from the Arabs to start the scientific and Industrial revolution and even before that when they were forced out side Spain and this was the Goal of Islam, changing the Dark Era to the Illumination Era, but when the Islamic Empire which expanded From China to Spain and Italy has fallen, the world started to develop science relying on there legacy but denying, but you know war is every where and depression is everywhere.
By the way I know that many people around the world think that we in the Arab world are still riding camels and we live in tents well, this is your media transferring this view, while the truth is that we are living in cities just like yours some areas are deserted just like yours, we have 80 floor buildings factories many 5 star Hotels and even a higher ranked hotels, and we eat our special food and some times the same food you eat except pork, finally there are Muslims Drinking Alcohols but Islamic nation is the less drinking nation in the world McDonalds KFC, Pizza Hut Burger King are nearly in every street in Cairo the modernest 2011 cars are every where and some old cars too.

  (Quote)

Nabil August 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I’m a Muslim.

People are people and religions are religions, you cannot judge a religion by people who are following it.

There is a rule that says: “Judging a thing is a branch of its conception “, people who judge a Mulsim and give him a status of radical, extremist, wahabi, terrorist simply lack the most important word in that rule – conception.

There is another rule that says: “If someone is ignorant of something, they hate that thing”.

Now if someone want to judge Islam he/she should READ* about it first – If you ask most muslims what is Islam the will tell you that Islam is The coran and the sunna, the fact that muslims kill innocent will not change the definition that says islam = coran + sunna, this definition has been the same since the appearance of Islam.

READ: is he first word of the Coran that was revealed by Allah to Mohammed peace upon him transmitted by the angel Gabriel.

Arguing about a religion that ask it followers to read, learn and avoid talking of things they don’t know… arguing about this religion without knowing it is very irrational!

  (Quote)

Zeshan August 31, 2011 at 2:11 pm

at dgsinclair:

Last time i checked israelis still occupy and are opressing palestinians………..

  (Quote)

dgsinclair August 31, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Actually, Palestinians are basically just Syrians, right? And since Islam has corrupted and co-opted all the regional cultures there, it’s pretty much a monoculture for Mulsims across the middle east. They hold most of the middle east, while complaining that Israel has a small patch to themselves. It’s hypocritical. Islam is anti-semitic, and pretending that Palestinians have no other place to live is ludicrous. Philistines have always been enemies of Israel and the God of Abraham, and should live in or around Syria and find something more meaningful to do than hate the Jews and try to displace them.

  (Quote)

Hisham Samir August 31, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Dear dgsinclair:
your historical information are looking so corrupted, first of all you have to know that Semitic is not a race, its a group of languages, belonged to The Arab peninsula and north Asia and a small part from Africa, and that both Arabs and Israelites are Semitic people, so if Arabs are antisemitic they are enemies of themselves.
And you have to know that Syrians are a people and Palestinians are totally another people, so the piece of information you mentioned regarding this point is totally wrong.
And you must know that the middle east is Arab since 1400 years, and there are no Arab forces occupying the Middle East, its our homeland.
Israel doesn’t have any right to come and take any inch in our lands, you have to know that they got this land with the help of England according to Belfor Declaration 1917.
These are just few information without explanation, I advice you to start reading the neutral history to improve your information.

  (Quote)

Zeshan Rizvi September 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm

I find it perplexing how people continiously conclude that Islam at its core is a barbaric and very violent religion. If it was, the religion should reflect in essence, the core of the individuals who follow it. So the next question arises that are all muslims at core barbaric and very violent? NO. Just beacause the media tends to portray an extremist point of view of Islam, anyone who assumes all Islam is such,l is not following a reasonable flow of logic.

  (Quote)

Dgs September 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm

If you are perplexed, it seems you may not be seeing clearly. Despite the existence of many nice Muslims:

1. Every existing Muslim state is anti Jewish, fails to support religious freedom (just try to leave Islam), oppresses women, and is either run by or in danger of being run by ‘extremist Muslims’
2. The life and teachings of Mohammed (the latter ones, which override the ‘nicer’ earlier ones) are full of bloody jihad and despising of Christians and jews
3. The high frequency and majority participation of Muslims in worldwide terrorism overshadows any claims to peacefulness.

Islam is a cruel and threatening master as well as enemy of human rights and freedom.

  (Quote)

Nabil Kadimi September 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm

1. Every existing Muslim state is anti Jewish, fails to support religious freedom (just try to leave Islam), oppresses women, and is either run by or in danger of being run by ‘extremist Muslims’
danger

There is a verse in Surat Al Baqara where allah says (Translation source: http://quran.com/2/256) : “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”
So forcing someone to convert to Islam is Haram (prohibited) in Islam.

2. The life and teachings of Mohammed (the latter ones, which override the ‘nicer’ earlier ones) are full of bloody jihad and despising of Christians and jews

Are you sure you are talking about Mohamed – peace upon him, I was told Islam history since I was children and from different sources, I never heard of him having Jihad against Christians or Jews! Please provide proofs.
For your information, Christians and Jews were allowed to practice their religions in there houses and were ordered to pay a tax, (Al Jizia) this tax is the price for being protected and having cival rights equal to muslims in a Muslim country without being muslim. Was there anything like that in spain or other countries where Muslim were oppressed? no (read how Spain treated Muslims about http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Inquisition), Muslims were ordered to convert to christianism or were killed.

3. The high frequency and majority participation of Muslims in worldwide terrorism overshadows any claims to peacefulness.

I’m a Muslim and the only thing I can say about this is that I don’t agree with it. If you knew Islam (not terrorism stats) you would know that this is not part of it.

  (Quote)

piero September 26, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Nabil:
“this tax is the price for being protected and having civil rights equal to muslims in a Muslim country without being muslim”

You failed to notice the irony in your statement, and that failure is a fitting comment to the nature of Islam.

  (Quote)

Nabil Kadimi September 26, 2011 at 11:15 pm

I may have said something wrong in my comment or and have said and done many wrong things in my life like any other person, but in our belief, Islam never fails to tell the truth, even if it’s hard.

The nature of Islam… In muslims belief, Islam is a religion, like Judaism and Christianity, all from Allah who is the creator of everything and the only one who deserves worship (http://quran.com/42/13): He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him].

The essence of Islam: The one who created is the one and the only one who deserves worship: http://quran.com/2/21 and http://quran.com/2/22 “O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become righteous – [He] who made for you the earth a bed [spread out] and the sky a ceiling and sent down from the sky, rain and brought forth thereby fruits as provision for you. So do not attribute to Allah equals while you know [that there is nothing similar to Him].”

For us Mohammed and Moses and Jesus and other peace upon them were people like us but were revealed their (and our) religion from Allah http://quran.com/42/13 : “He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him].” – and : http://quran.com/5/75 “The Messiah, son of Mary, was not but a messenger; [other] messengers have passed on before him. And his mother was a supporter of truth. They both used to eat food. Look how We make clear to them the signs; then look how they are deluded.”

Please if you want to judge Islam give proofs from coran and sunna, if you want to judge people then I’m the first one who will say I’ve done a lot of bad things on my life and ask Allah to guide me on the right path.

  (Quote)

piero September 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

Nabil, the statement I quoted reveals your inability to distinguish between a privilege and an imposition:
“this tax is the price for being protected and having civil rights equal to muslims in a Muslim country without being muslim”
Now, really, Nabil, are you seriously claiming that levying a tax on non-Muslims is justified because they need protection? From whom? Next time you’ll be arguing that women have to be covered head to toe because they must be protected. Oh, wait…

  (Quote)

dgs September 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm

1. I see you skipped over the anti-Jewish hate in Islam. Here’s some proof if you need any more than the obvious and ongoing desire of Muslims worldwide to destroy Israel. All quotes below are from the Hadith as collected by Sahih Al-Bukhari:

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 177; Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour {of the Last Judgment} will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.”

>> NABIL: There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion.

The reason why quoting this means nothing is that this earlier “Meccan” verse is abrogated (per Muslim tradition – later revelation overrides earlier, which is why they also deny the resurrection of Jesus in favor of Mohammed’s claims) by the later writings of Mohammed. No Muslim can follow this verse as there are hundreds of other, later verses that call for the suppression, humiliation and extermination of non-Muslims and all things non-Muslim. For instance:

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24; Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

>> I was told Islam history since I was children and from different sources, I never heard of him having Jihad against Christians or Jews!

I did not mean to imply that he killed Christians and Jews, but he did go on or approve Jihads against Jews. From http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5231Q.pdf

Muhammad is recorded as having participated in at least twenty-seven campaigns and deputized some ?fty-nine others – an average of no fewer than nine campaigns annually.

These campaigns can be divided into four groups:
1. The five ‘thematic’ battles of Badr (624), Uhud (625), Khandaq (627), Mecca (630) and Hunayn (630), undertaken with the goal of dominating the three principal settled areas of the Hijaz: Mecca, Medina, and al-Taif
2. Raids against the Bedouin, undertaken to force local tribesmen to support – or at least not to attack – the Muslims
3. Attacks against Jewish tribes to secure the oases in which they resided
4. Two raids against the Byzantines at al-Muta (629) and Tabuk (631) and the campaign led by Usama b. Zayd (632) against Syria, which, though less than successful at best, heralded the direction of Muslim conquests during the years following the Prophet’s death in 632

Near the end of his life, Muhammad sent letters to the great empires of the Middle East demanding their submission to his authority. This dispels any notion that the Prophet intended Islam’s expansion to stop with Arabia.

Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386; Narrated Jubair bin Haiya: Umar {the second Caliph} sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. ? When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau {Persia} came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, “Let one of you talk to me!” Al-Mughira replied, ? “Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: “Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.”

Also, here’s a history of Jihad to show that Islam has been pillaging, raping, murdering, enslaving, oppressing, and the world since Mohammed began it.
http://islam-watch.org/HistoryOfJihad/index.html

“Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.” Galatians 1:8

  (Quote)

Zeshan Rizvi October 12, 2011 at 9:46 am

“despite the existence of many nice muslims”

How do you intend on explaining that?

  (Quote)

Zeshan Rizvi October 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

If there are still “very nice muslims” in existence and that also a large number of them. I am still perplexed on how your premises correlate with the evident fact. Maybe your premises are not true?

  (Quote)

dgsinclair October 12, 2011 at 10:10 am

Zeshan,

There are simple answers to why there are nice Muslims despite the violent and hateful teachings and life of Mohammed:

1. Mohammed copied in many positive morals from Judaism and Christianity – so to some extent, any good found in Islam may not have arisen with Mohammed. In fact, since it claims that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were prophets, this is to be expected.

2. Mohammed began with positive teachings, but digressed into hateful, murderous teaching as he was persecuted and as his power as a warlord grew. This mix of teaching allows Muslims to choose to ignore or hide his more hateful acts and teachings and convince themselves (and some others) that Islam is peaceful.

3. Here’s the main reason – people are born with a conscience, and their own humanity teaches them that certain acts and perspectives are evil. Most Muslims, like most humans, want to live in peace and in harmony with their neighbors, and anyone with a little maturity realizes that our perspectives change over time, and we want to give others the freedom to choose that we ourselves would want.

So most Muslims are nice, not because Islam lacks violent and hateful tenets, but because their humanity causes them to want to avoid and ignore these things.

The only way one can adopt the total perspective of Mohammed is to (a) give themselves over to hate and murder against their better judgment, or (b) convince themselves, as many Germans did under Nazism, that what they are doing, like killing Jews or non-Muslims, is good for society and mankind, or good because Allah commands it.

  (Quote)

dgsinclair October 12, 2011 at 10:28 am

Zeshan,

To increase your understanding of my position, you can read these posts…
The Real History of the Crusades

For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands.

With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed’s death.

Can Islam Live in Peace With Other Religions?

It’s history and current events flatly say “no.”

Islam’s religious intolerance starts from it’s inception, and continues to this day, not because of fanatics who pervert its teachings, but because its foundational teachings are violent, racist, and produce a culture of oppression and control through fear, not of God, but of mortal violence from other “believers.”

Why there may never be a vibrant moderate Islam

And every time there is a debate between a real jihadi and, say, what we have decided to call moderate Muslims, the jihadis win. Because they come with the Koran and quotes from the Koran. The come with quotes from the Hadith and the Sunnah, and the traditions of the prophet. And every assertion they make, whether it is that women should be veiled, or Jews should be killed, or Americans are our enemies, or any of that, they win. Because what they have to say is so consistent with what is written in the Koran and the Hadith.

There are no moderate Muslims

As I have written, it certainly can’t return to first principles (restoration), because it is in those that we find the blatant racism and violence. Their only moderating approach will be one of liberalism, which has a better descriptor than “moderate,’ which is nominal. Similar to “nominal Christians,” they don’t follow the teachings very closely, and merely look for a positive moral structure and humanistic ethic dressed in faith.

Three Types of Reformation

As I mentioned previously, Salman Rushdie has called for a reformation of Islam. But which of the three types is he calling for? It appears that he is calling for modernization and liberalization. He can not really call for restoration, because if one returns to the foundational teachings of the Koran, one gets jihad and murder in the name of God.

Rushdie Calls for Islamic “Reformation”

Rushdie calls for Islam to stop viewing the Koran as the infallible word of God, while the Christian reformation was a call BACK to authority of the scriptures. Why this difference?

Because the Xian scriptures, when taken literally, are a call to righteousness by faith, love, peace, and forgiveness. The Koran, when taken literally, is a call to Jihad, violence, righteousness by servile obedience to law, and justice with little mercy.

  (Quote)

Hisham October 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

Dear Zeshan
This reply is with my utmost respect to you as person
I’m not going to discuss any thing regarding The Satanic Verses of Salman Rushdie or any thing because I’m actually very busy building a PHP software, its just a copy and paste frome a previous post and I’m not go to reply or look after your reply, as it’s always meaningless because my beliefe and knowledge about my religion, is higher than mountains and stronger than the grounds, I’m not a terrorist, no one teached me terrorism, I read the Quran daily and never undestood it the way you d, put in consideration that it’s imppossible that your knowledge about my book could equal mine, because I read it in its original language, and read its very old explanations in its original language, and I read it daily and I have more than its third memorized in my head and I hope to get it all.
This is an example from Jihad Verses of the Quran do you need more?

Sura 2:190 Says (and fight in the path of Allah those who fights you and don’t start aggression because Allah don’t love Aggressors)
Sura 2:191 (and kill them wherever you find them and get them out of where the place they thrown you out and the temptation is greater than killing and don’t fight them at the Kaaba until they fight you inside it, if they fight you kill them this is the punishment of unbelievers) here is the verse again just to put every thing in its juxtaposition
Sura 2:192 Says (And if they Stop fighting you so God is forgiving and Merciful) you now can understand that its telling us that you fight aggressors and if those aggressors stop fighting and feel beaten what we do kill them? exterminate them? no we forgive them because Allah is forgiving so how should be we?.
Sura 2:193 Says: (and fight them to not let there be temptation and to make the religion only for Allah and if they stop, don’t fight but those who are still oppressing you)
Sura 2:194 Says (the sacred month with the sacred month and this privacy is a revenge so if they Assault you Assault them with the same thing they Assaulted you, and fear Allah and know that Allah loves who fears him ) here its telling us that who Assaults us must be Assaulted only with the same Assault he practiced against us and the meaning of fearing Allah is pointing to not add to the Assault any thing more because Allah is watching us and counting our acts
I can drive you the same thing for every verse people considers violent and you have to put in consideration that these rules and more were fixed to face the wars around this small emerging nation which started with only one man then 6 then tenth of people depressed and tortured and these rules helped them to stand against all this and grow to be the second religion in the world and its the most growing if you tried to follow statistics you will find this fact.
Regarding Qaida Organization and Osama Ben Ladin you all have to refer to history to know that the US and the CIA built them funded and armed them to fight the Soviets and those extremists are not relying on any Islamic basis except there reputation, and tell me if our book is violent why aren’t we all terrorists and why Muslim scholars not (Islamist Extremist Scholars) didn’t consider those who explode themselves in Iraq Afghanistan as Martyrs and most of us consider them terrorists despite they are fighting in there home land against invaders, so figure out our position from the 9/11
be more realistic man
This reply is with my utmost respect to you as person

  (Quote)

Zeshan Rizvi October 21, 2011 at 6:54 am

dgsinclair:

I’m sure you’re aware that Muhammad attacked others and started wars due to circumstances and situations, and that he did not promote it in general. I still don’t see the correlation between why he went to war and why ALL muslims are commanded to do so. He may have did battle, but does that mean that we all should? I still don’t see how it proves so. I’m sure you’re aware that the verses of the Quran that promote war were only revealed during times of war or when war was an issue for the muslims of that time, not to promote war in general. I’m under the impression that you are insinuating that Muhammad did so with the intent to promote war in general. I may be incorrect in stating so, but from what I do know, I don’t think this was the case. As for the muslims that came after Muhammad, well lets just say they weren’t very good people. Unfortunately, Islam has had a very saddening history, the people that Muhammad considered his dearest companions plotted against him and took his power from him after his death. There was a progressive decline in the regard for his teachings after his death. Islam was indeed reduced to a power struggle among the quarreling political powers of that time. I’m not sure when if ever peace and order were reinstated in the leading advocates of Islam during their times. There were only a handful of individuals who took the objective approach to Islam (Tragedy of Kerbela is an example). If you study the history of Islam after his death, it can be shown evident. I agree that he did commit some inhumane acts, but as for applying a catagorical imperative to his actions, I can’t seem to find any justification for doing so. Due consider that Islam does not demote reason, but only promotes its use (well with the definition of Islam that I use). Objectivism isn’t an enemy of Islam, but the epitome of it. What Muhammad did may have been objectively correct during that time (could also have been objectively wrong but I lack evidence for this), but this fact doesn’t indicate that all should treat his actions as a universal maxim.

  (Quote)

Zeshan Rizvi October 21, 2011 at 7:12 am

Hisham:

Your quotations only amplify my approach. I agree with you nonetheless. As for the Satanic verses, the title reflects the ingenuity of the person who wrote it. The man of reason, would not denounce an entire relgion even if he may have valid principles to base his claims. If Mr. Rushdie would have taken a more reasonable approach to writing his book, he may not have ended up on the top of the hitlist of so many angry Muslims. Any intellectually competent individual knows not to attack someone’s beliefs (especially if those beliefs are deeply rooted in the sentiment of the person, as was the case for Muslims), but progressively show the person that what they think could possibly be questionable with the intent that they ultimately share your beliefs after applying critical reasoning. If Mr. Rushdie is happy with his decision, more power to him but any man of intellect can deduce that his actions were not the most reasonable. And for Al-Qaeda, well they seem to fit right into the lack of objectivity. Considering that they’ve probably killed and commited barbaric acts to more Muslims than any other group of people, I think any Muslim would be reluctant in considering any member of Al-Qaeda to share the same beliefs as their very own.

  (Quote)

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }