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#Manchester Stronger Than Ever

Manchester. Another city added to the list of horrific attacks by individuals, usually men, who have been misguided into thinking their actions are somehow a salve for whatever torments them, or helpful to those suffering occupation and the terror of non-distinguishing “smart bombs” dropped in the tens of thousands on the homes of innocents. Also bewildering is the tenuous allegiance paid by attackers such as Salman Abedi to groups like ISIS and AlQaeda; whose bastardized modernist twisting of theology and law is no solution to grievances but only compounds and entrenches the multi-dimensional challenges and problems faced by Muslims. It takes God out of the center of din (way of life) and replaces it with jihad. When the hoped for victory is not achieved it often results in greater resentment, extremism and blind victimhood.

We have known that attacks of this kind do not end the vicious cycle of bloodletting but only feed it. The explosive growth industry of the field of “terror studies” and its ties to power, both governmental and non-governmental means that there is little incentive or effort to truly understand what causes “extremism” (aside from a handful of scholars and specialists) beyond the problematic radicalization models that lead to programs such as PREVENT and CVE.  Statistics highlighting that the nebulously defined category of so-called “Islamic terrorism” is less of a threat than dying in car accidents, or of an allergic reaction to peanuts is of no comfort, since Islamophobia is tied to existential and emotional concerns about the decline of Christianity, challenge to white supremacy and rise of minority groups, especially Muslim populations. Rational thinking doesn’t enter the equation.

This is not to say that imperialism cannot and should not be resisted but that the contemporary movements that are wreaking havoc are clearly not the way to respond to the challenge. Any resistance and liberation from the dominant paradigms however must be rooted not only in socio-economic terms but foremost in an authentic and spiritually grounded ethos.

Despite the hysteria and exploitation by the usual fear merchants: Katie Hopkins who tweeted for a “Final Solution,” the never-reconstructed EDL bigot Tommy Robinson claim that the mayor of Manchester is in cahoots with “Islamic radicals,” the laughable stupidity of  a UKIP politician whose brilliant response was to demand the return of the death penalty for suicide bombers, or Israeli PM Netanyahu’s shameless attempt to milk the tragedy by analogizing the Manchester attacker to Palestinian resistance, the overwhelming response of Britons and the City of Manchester has been to reject hate and the politics of division.

Take the message by Islamic scholar Abu Eesa from Manchester that has gone viral.

The comments are heartwarmingly refreshing in their solidarity and the expression of united grief for the victims. The message is clear we will not be divided, we will be stronger.

Also take Aarron Lambo’s viral video:

There’s many more such instances of togetherness and we hope that these attempts to divide us and subvert our democracy whether by terrorists and their Islamophobic dopplegangers will come to naught.

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  • 1DrM

    I never said the Big Bang was science fiction, fool. Apparently your comprehension skills are on par with your lack of math and science education. Why the distractor? Are you insecure and incapable of moving beyond your backward mindset? Get over yourself, your worldview is bankrupt and laughable.

  • MichaelElwood

    Alistair John wrote: “And let me say it again. Atheism is not an ideology.”

    Atheism is the textbook definition of an ideology

    Alistair John wrote: “Islam can choose to be bigoted if it follows/interprets its texts and traditions in a bigoted way. It is not bigoted by necessity. Nowhere have I stated or implied that Islam is bigoted by necessity. It is always a choice.”

    This is an example of personification. Islam is an idea, not a person. Someone who is nominally Muslim can chose to be a bigot, but Islam can’t “chose” to be anything. And you did imply that Islam was bigoted because some nominal Muslims are bigoted when you said in another comment: “I base my criticism of Islam partly on. . . . the actions of Islamic societies,” and in this comment, “I believe that much in the Quran lends itself very easily to bigotry”. But you conveniently reject others making any criticism about atheism based on the actions of atheists in atheist societies or what’s written in atheist texts.

    Alistair John wrote: “Where we disagree is in the matter of the texts. I believe that much in the Quran lends itself very easily to bigotry.”

    Yeah, we’re gonna have to disagree on this, especially in the absence of any concrete examples of verses that lend themselves very easily to bigotry.

    Alistair John wrote: “I believe any individual Muslim can choose his or her interpretation of the texts and traditions which parts of them to ignore. We disagree over this as well.”

    Yeah, we’re gonna have to disagree on this too, especially in the absence of any concrete examples.

    Alistair John wrote: “Because, unlike Islam, atheism is not a complex belief system or ideology.”

    Like Islam, atheism is a complex belief system and ideology.

    Alistair John wrote:” No, not exactly meaningless, but very flexible certainly. But I’m doing this from the outside, from observation, not as a believer in one interpretation of Islam.”

    Yes, so “flexible” as to be meaningless.

    Alistair John wrote: “You want to have things black and white. I see only grey.”

    Your definition of Islam and Muslim may be grey (and that’s a very charitable description), but your definition of atheism and atheist is black and white.

    Alistair John wrote: “You’re only an atheist if you don’t believe in the divine. Everything else is irrelevant.”

    According to who? You and whatever English dictionary you’re using? You act as if whatever English dictionary you’re basing your definition of atheism on came down with Moses on Mt. Sinai. Is your definition of atheism found in every English dictionary? What about non-English dictionaries? Is your definition of atheism the one you’d encounter in philosophy textbooks? Why should your narrow definition of atheism be preferred over a broader more “flexible” definition, like the one used by the atheist philosopher Julian Baggini and others?

    Alistair John wrote: “With Islam, you would like to impose your own similar, simplistic rule based on following the Quran. That doesn’t work.”

    It does work and has worked for over a thousand years. There is a practical reason, besides a theoretical reason, that the Quran is the criterion for what is Islamic and who is a Muslim. It’s the only Islamic text that dates back to Muhammad’s lifetime and reflects the original Islamic beliefs. It’s also the only text that Muslims of different sects or no sects have in common. If you look on the bookshelves of Sunni, Shia, Ibadi, Ahmadi, Nation of Islam, and non-sectarian Muslim, you’ll find the same Quran. So, whether know it or not, or accept it or not, the Quran is the default criterion for what is Islamic and who is a Muslim.

    Alistair John wrote: “You can’t be a theist atheist, that’s a contradiction in terms.”

    Why not? It’s no more of a contradiction in terms than atheist Muslim. Why can’t a term like theist atheist be a contradiction in terms, but a term like atheist Muslim can be?

    Alistair John wrote: “I’m more than happy to accept that atheists can be (and some are) terrorists and bigots.”

    That was never the issue. The issue is whether we can criticize atheism itself based on the actions of these atheist terrorists and bigots the same way you think you can criticize Islam based on the actions of nominal Muslim terrorists and bigots.

    Alistair John wrote: “Which not all Muslims follow. Only the ones you define as ‘real’ Muslims. This is circular logic and will get us nowhere.”

    We’re not getting anywhere because I don’t accept you broad definition of Islam and Muslim or your narrow definition of atheism and atheist. I think we’re just going to have agree to disagree.

  • Alistair John

    So the big bang theory is science fiction, is that right?

    It doesn’t take any faith whatsoever to not believe in something for which there is no evidence. I don’t know for certain there is no god, I cannot prove there is no god, but I know for certain there is no evidence of one.

    If you want to remain in the Dark Ages be my guest. The only fool is you. Why you are so aggressive about it is a puzzle. Is it insecurity and doubt? Believe what you want, just don’t ask me to believe it unless you have some evidence to back it up.

    Quite what any of this has to do with terrorism and Manchester is beyond me.

  • Khizer

    MAMA MIA !!! Thats a some spicy tears in second links comment section.

    The ex-Muslim commenters, oh man, the tears are so SALTY! and the comments are so over dramatic yet so baseless, they would put the people who write the ‘dramatic’ dialogue in Indian dramas to shame.

  • MichaelElwood

    It was a few years ago (some people from over there came here). I don’t know how it is now.

  • MichaelElwood

    Alistair John wrote: “Nothing at all. Individuals may criticise them.”

    That’s good to know. I was beginning to think that you belonged to the Sam Harris school of atheism.

    Alistair John wrote: “I don’t preach to lovers, or anyone else for that matter.”

    That’s good to know too. Not too sure I believe it. . . because you’ve been getting your preach on here. But, whatever.

    Alistair John wrote: “No. It is only bigoted if it chooses to be.”

    Huh? Let me say it again. Even if EVERY SINGLE atheist was a sexist, anti-Muslim bigot that DOESN’T mean that atheism itself is bigoted by necessity? But if only SOME Muslims, in SOME “Islamic countries” stone adulterers to death, persecute gays, and persecute religious minorities, it DOES mean that Islam itself is bigoted by necessity?

    Alistair John wrote: “The police are public servants and have badges and numbers. Members of religions are not (usually) public servants and don’t (usually) have membership cards. I have little choice other than to believe them.”

    Yes, you do have a choice to believe or not to believe someone’s claims about themselves or others. You do it all the time in areas of your life not related to Islam and Muslims.

    Alistair John wrote: “It is not my place to say whether Maajid Nawaz is really a Muslim or not or Anjem Choudary. I take them at their word and view them as different kinds of Muslims. . . .”

    Yes, as a presumably discerning person, it is your place (or anyone’s place) to say who is really a Muslim or not. You may or may not be factually correct, but it’s still anyone’s place to have an opinion, Why don’t you take the same pedantic “dictionary definition” approach to Islam and Muslims that you take to atheism and atheists? The Arabic word “Muslim” is like the English word “runner”. You can’t BE the noun (Muslim or runner) without DOING the verb (aslama or run). If you’ve never ran in your life, or if you do the exact opposite of running, then you can’t be called a runner in any meaningful sense. Similarly, if you never do the things prescribed for Muslims in the Quran, or do the exact opposite, then you can’t be called a Muslim in any meaningful sense. Your definition of Muslim is so elastic that it’s literally meaningless. Secular “Muslims” like Maajid Nawaz and religious “Muslims” like Anjem Choudary, peaceful “Muslims” like Malala Yousafzai and violent “Muslims” like Maulana Fazlullah, atheist “Muslims” like Ali A Rizvi and theist “Muslims” like me, all fall within your definition of “Muslim”. So I’ll tell you what, when you can include theist atheists, terrorist atheists, and bigot atheists in your definition of atheist, then maybe I’ll entertain including atheists, terrorists, bigots, etc, in my definition of Muslim.

    Alistair John wrote: “You are engaging in the no true Scotsman fallacy. You have your own rules as to what qualifies you as a genuine Muslim but those are not followed by all Muslims, probably not even a majority.”

    I’m not committing the no true Scotsman fallacy. I can’t give a detailed explanation here without making this comment too lengthy, so I’ll refer you to my response to the atheists “TheGodless and “MikeSutter” in the past:

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/loonwatch/china_targets_wild_imams_in_mass_public_sentencing/#comment-1704228814

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/personalislam/commentary_on_itvs_documentary_islams_non_believers/#comment-2962883506

    And I’m not applying my own rules as to what qualifies as a Muslim. There is a criterion (al-furqaan) for deciding if someone is Muslim or if something is Islamic.

    Alistair John wrote: “The Quran talks about Adam as the first human and shares the expulsion story with Jewish and Christian texts. This version of human development plainly contradicts the theory evolution. Do you hold the Quranic story of Adam to be a literal fact?”

    The Quran doesn’t talk about Adam being the first hominid (see 2:30, 6:165, and 35:39). From An-Nazzam and his student Al-Jahiz in the past, to Prof. Fatimah Jackson now, evolutionary thinking has a long history in Islam:

    “Islamic science had a considerable history of speculation about the evolution of species. Al-Jahiz (real name Abu Uthman Amr ibn Bahr al-Fuqaimi al-Basri) (ca. 780-ca. 869), an Afro-Arab descendant of an African slave, wrote that the effect of the environment can cause animals to develop new characteristics and can thus lead to new species (Sarton, 1975; Bayrakdar, 1983). Later, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (born in 1201 in what is now Iran) apparently held an atomistic-like view of the origin of life and also propounded ideas on the evolution of species (Alakbarov, 2001). Fakr al-Din al-Razi (1149-1209, in Iran) was an atomist as well and proposed that there are possibilities for other beings and other universes (A. Ragab, Harvard University).” (see “Origins and Evolution of Life: An Astrobiological Perspective,” edited by Muriel Gargaud, Purificación López-Garcìa, and Hervé Martin)

    Alistair John wrote: “How unwittingly? I have repeatedly said that atheism is nothing but the absence of belief in the divine. It doesn’t prescribe any other belief.”

    Because you keep selectively defining atheism as an absence of belief in the divine and ignoring a broader definition.

  • Khizer

    Oh, I went stumbled there once long ago, it was actually a decent place then (well, from what I saw in the short while I was browsing there), despite a few baseless arguements made against Islam. From what you described, the board must gone the deep end.

  • MichaelElwood

    No, it was the message board for the council of ex-Muslims (or something like that). Maryam Namazie’s group.

  • JD

    on the radar for their country’s respective intelligence agencies. No one stopped them before they carried out their attacks…. and this

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/19efa7b3ba76fd418f208355ba884f4047a5f5474d0b5aa4dbb40ee6431bcf84.jpg

  • adc714

    always thinking that you’re the smartest person in the room, when in reality, you’re an insecure prick who can’t handle the slightest criticism of your silly beliefs

  • Khizer

    “I used to read the comments on a website for atheists and ex-Muslims. They would routinely express hatred for Islam and Muslims.”

    Did you visit the ex-Muslim sub reddit ? Cause that kinda sounds like it.

  • 1DrM

    Another atheist idiot who believes in random mathematical impossibilities piled on top of each other as “evidence.” Failed at both math and history from the rest of your silly screed.

  • MichaelElwood

    Alistair John wrote:” What do you mean by tolerate? Do you mean accept as a legitimate point of view or accept that someone has the right to think such things? If it is the latter I agree. I believe in freedom of speech. If the former, certainly not.”

    I mean the latter. I thought I made this clear in my previous comments. I deliberately used the word “tolerate” to convey what I meant, but you keep using words like “embrace” and “accept,” which conveys a totally different meaning.

    Alistair John wrote: “I don’t have to tolerate the idea that people of a different skin colour or nationality are inferior. I don’t have to tolerate the idea that people of a different sex or sexual orientation are inferior. Some ideas are poisonous and should not be tolerated.”

    What exactly do you propose that societies do with people who subscribe to “poisonous” or “dangerous” ideas, but who don’t harm others? Censor them? Imprison them? Kill them, as Sam Harris suggests? And who gets to decide what ideas are “poisonous” or “dangerous”? You and other like minded people? Or are you just conflating the word “tolerate” with the words “accept” and “embrace” again?

    Alistair John wrote: “What if a Muslim just believes that adulterers should be stoned, gays and religious minorities persecuted, non-Muslims or the ‘wrong’ Muslims blown up etc. but doesn’t actually do anything about it?”

    I don’t “accept” or “embrace” such beliefs, but I am tolerant of them. As a matter of principle, I don’t believe in imposing my beliefs on others. I believe that the best way to deal with objectionable beliefs, religious or secular, is to subject them to scrutiny and allow them to naturally die out. Again I ask, what do you propose societies do with those who espouse objectionable beliefs, but who don’t harm anyone?

    Alistair John wrote: “You are extraordinary arrogant and fairly hateful yourself at times. You immediately assume that I would act like a jerk to a woman I was in a relationship with simply because she was a Muslim.”

    I didn’t assume that you were a jerk to the Muslim woman you were in a relationship with. I did assume that a Muslim woman could get tired of hearing their partner describing their religion as “myths” and “fairy tales,” or suggesting that they were privy to parts of their religion that they either didn’t know about, or were selectively ignoring. I certainly don’t assume that someone can’t be prejudiced against the group that their partner belongs (think Thomas Jefferson, Strom Thurmond, etc.). For example, the atheist historian Niall Ferguson is married to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman of African descent. But that didn’t prevent him from espousing bigoted beliefs about Africans, like the belief that Africans benefited from brutal European colonization:

    “The moral simplification urge is an extraordinarily powerful one, especially in this country, where imperial guilt can lead to self-flagellation,” he explains. “And it leads to very simplistic judgments. The rulers of western Africa prior to the European empires were not running some kind of scout camp. They were engaged in the slave trade. They showed zero sign of developing the country’s economic resources. Did Senegal ultimately benefit from French rule? Yes, it’s clear. And the counterfactual idea that somehow the indigenous rulers would have been more successful in economic development doesn’t have any credibility at all.”

    https://storify.com/MaxBlumenthal/ayaan-hirsi-ali-s-anti-muslim-honor-brigade

    Alistair John wrote: “Even if every single atheist was a sexist, anti-Muslim bigot that doesn’t mean that atheism itself is bigoted by necessity. Such an idea is patently absurd.”

    Even if EVERY SINGLE atheist was a sexist, anti-Muslim bigot that DOESN’T mean that atheism itself is bigoted by necessity? But if only SOME Muslims, in SOME “Islamic countries” stone adulterers to death, persecute gays, and persecute religious minorities, it DOES mean that Islam itself is bigoted by necessity? Hmm, interesting. . .

    Alistair John wrote: “Generally, if someone calls themselves a Muslim I accept them at their word unless it is some sort of false flag thing.”

    I’m hard-pressed to think of any other area of life where this type of credulity would be seen as admirable. If some dudes rolled up on you with plastic badges and flashlights talking ’bout they the police, you wouldn’t say: “okay, if you say so”! Or if some dudes with clipboards knocked on your door talking ’bout they from the city and need to read your meters, you wouldn’t say: “okay, if you say so”! So I’ve always been amused by people who say that they just take someone’s word for it when they claim that they’re a Muslim. If you knew more about Islam, you’d be able to be more discerning about such claims.

    “And from the people are those who say: ‘We believe in God and in the Last Day,’ but they are not believers. They seek to deceive God and those who believe, but they only deceive themselves without noticing. . . .” [Quran 2:8]

    Alistair John wrote: “Their selectivity over Islamic texts means nothing to me. All religious sects pick and choose the bits they like and invent stuff not in their holy books.”

    You keep making this claim, but you don’t bother to give any evidence for it. However, you have unwittingly furnished evidence that atheists are selective about aspects of atheism: its history, its ethics, etc. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Alistair John wrote: “No. Still not tolerating anti-gay bigotry, misogyny, misandry, racism, etc. Are you?”

    Yep, still tolerating, but not “accepting” or “embracing”. But if your clarification of what you meant by toleration is true, our positions may be closer than it seems.

  • I agree with you logic. Even if you hate both, being tolerant solves the problem of not mistreating other people, and is important to maintaining social harmony.

    But from the perspective of someone who sees a problem they think needs to be correct, then separating the sinner from the sin is actually an avenue for tolerance.

    For example, I don’t like to let hate consume my heart, but I nevertheless do hate certain things. Zionism is an good example. I call it “evil” and that’s a word I don’t toss around lightly. When I call something “evil” is means I believe it’s nature is such that you can’t “tolerate” it because not all things are to be tolerated. An ideology predicated on land theft and genocide, which then puts that into action, in my view has no redeeming qualities–or at least so very few that they are not significant on balance. My views have hardened after watching decades of Zionism in action.

    Now, I can SAY I don’t hate Zionism, but the truth is that I really do. I don’t think it’s going to help to tell me to “be tolerant” since I don’t see it as something worthy of being tolerated. It’s a bridge too far. Given that’s how I feel, it’s a pretty short leap to hating Zionists too. After all, they subscribe to an ideology I think is evil. If I would make that leap, how long will it be before I don’t care if people are harmed, as long as they are Zionists? Well, I don’t ever want to think it’s okay for anyone to be harmed! It’s higher moral principle for me to never want to see people harmed than it is to maintain a veneer of tolerance for everything.

    So I take the other avenue, which is hating Zionism and still at least making space for loving Zionists. I do this by making my view of the people more nuanced. I don’t know why they subscribe to Zionism. Maybe they buy the propaganda? Maybe it’s something to do with their personal experience? Maybe it’s something I’ve never imagined. God only knows.

    I don’t think it’s better for me to hate Zionism and Zionists and try to be tolerant. No. It feels wrong to “tolerate” Zionism, Nazism, and Satanism. I can’t and won’t. So the lesser evil is hate the ideology, but not hate–and perhaps even love–people who for whatever reason identify with these ideologies.

    I can see that some people feel the same way about Islam. Or about who knows what…the possibilities are endless.

    The only way for someone to attack my hatred of these ideologies is for them to try to show me the good in Zionism, Nazism and Satanism so that I’ll soften my view on them. It sure would be interesting to see someone try to do that, and truly amazing to see them succeed.

    So what do we do with people who genuinely see an idea as intolerable and can’t be persuaded otherwise? It seems to me we let them make the compromise that separates tolerance for people from ideas, and muster half the equation, not because it’s ideal, but because it’s the best we can do.

  • MichaelElwood

    Ilisha wrote: “I think the whole idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin” is meant to uphold the doctrine while still making space for people. What’s the alternative? To openly hate the sinner AND the sin?”

    Theoretically, I can see how that might work, but in practice I’ve never (or rarely) seen it But my point to Alistair was that, even if he hates Islam AND Muslims (though he claims not to hate Muslims), that doesn’t preclude him from being tolerant of both. If Muslims are expected to tolerate atheism and atheists (which I’m sure some of them hate), why would the converse not also be true?

    Ilisha wrote: “If a person thinks that Islam is by definition bad, then similarly this is the only way for them to make space for Muslims! I think it’s better than hating Islam AND Muslims.”

    Not necessarily. There are some people in the West who doubtlessly hate Islam AND Muslims, but they still tolerate both. Even if they have no internal constraints that compel them be tolerant, there are external constraints like free speech and freedom of religion laws that compel them to be tolerant. The converse is also true (i.e., Muslims who hate both atheism and atheists, but still tolerate both). In Islamic history, you’ll find many examples of atheists who were hated but tolerated nonetheless (like Ibn al-Rawandi, Ibn Waraq, Ar-Razi, etc.).

    Ilisha wrote: “My question is why for such a person is Islam similar to sin? Something they see as “all bad”?”

    I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have anything to do with sound reason. 🙂

  • MichaelElwood

    Alistair John wrote: “I believe you are simplifying Sam Harris’s views but I’m not here to defend him or any other atheist.”

    Nah, there’s no simplifying going on here. Sam Harris’ beliefs and those of his many atheists admirers are just repugnant.

    Alistair John wrote: “The hateful things in the Quran, Torah, and Bible are not hard to find either. People have all sorts of ways to explain them away, put them into ‘context’ and reject many those parts they don’t like. Your interpretation of your religious texts is nothing more than your subjective interpretation.”

    Reading in context is part of basic reading comprehension, Alistair. I think we both know the reason why critics of Islam are so dismissive of reading the Quran in context. The hateful-things-in-the-Quran argument falls apart like a cheap suit when you read the Quran in context and with basic reading comprehension. This is not a matter of interpretation, It’s a matter of what the Quran does or doesn’t say. This is why I keep trying to cajole you to actually post some of these “hateful things” from the Quran, so everyone can see how “hateful” they actually are, and so everyone can see whose interpretation of them is “subjective”.

    Alistair John wrote: “Ultimately what matters more than the texts is the actions of a religion.”

    If that’s what ultimately matter, then why did you bring up the “hateful things” in the Quran and imply that some Muslims were ignoring them?

    Alistair John wrote: “You are all essentially looking for universal truths in a book of fairy tales and attempting to follow a set of myths, largely culled from other religions. That is bound to end in confusion and various dogmatically held positions all under the umbrella of ‘Islam’.”

    Confusion and various dogmatically held positions is a better description of contemporary atheism and atheists than it is of Islam and Muslims.

    Alistair John wrote: “As no two literary critics agree about an interpretation of a novel it is hardly surprising that things are worse with religious texts.”

    Again, this isn’t a matter of interpretation. This is about what the Quran says or doesn’t say.

    Alistair John wrote: “No, I am not picking the worst aspects of Islam.”

    Yes, that is exactly what you’re doing.

    Alistair John wrote: “I am well aware of the good and the bad. My view is that the bad outweighs the good based on the texts and the way the religion is practiced worldwide.”

    LOL! Based on texts? What texts? I’ve been trying to get you to quote some of these texts, but it’s like squeezing water from a rock.

    Alistair John wrote: “Speaking domestically only (to remove issues of imperialistic foreign policy) Islamic countries are all less tolerant and liberal than more secular Western countries. That is the basis of my criticism of Islam as well as other religions.”

    Then your basis is dubious. Most Muslims (I think a little over a half) don’t even live in “Islamic countries”. And those who do live in these countries (many of which are propped up by the West) couldn’t be liberal even if they wanted to because it’s against the law. For example, the Saudi scholar Shaykh Hassan Farhan al-Maliki, and the Egyptian scholars Shaykh Mohammed Abdullah Nasr and Shaykh Ahmed Subhy Mansour have been persecuted by their illiberal, pro-Western governments for their liberal beliefs.

    Alistair John wrote: “There isn’t a correct version of atheism or the secular. That is the point.”

    Then why do you constantly imply that your version of atheism is the correct version?

    Alistair John wrote: “There are competing secular ideologies but none claim divine guidance. It is all subjective or based on trial and error.”

    No, it’s not all subjective. Most atheists claim their atheist dogmas are “objective” “rational,” and “scientific”. And they claim that this is what distinguishes atheism from the “fairy tales” and “myths” of religion.

    Alistair John wrote: “There is no inconsistency in my view of atheism. Atheism is a lack of belief in the divine based on the lack of evidence for the divine. It doesn’t presuppose you have any particular beliefs other than a lack of belief in God.”

    There is an inconsistency that lies at the heart of your view of atheism You keep defining atheism as simply a lack of belief in the divine, when I already pointed out that for many atheists, atheism is a weltanshauung with beliefs about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics (many atheists like Sam Harris claim to base their ethics on “science”), etc. Most atheists may not be aware of this because they’re unreflective and philosophically ignorant, but that does not mean it’s not the case. For example, in the readable and lighthearted essay below, the Kurdish-American Muslim philosopher, Edip Yuksel, unpacks the metaphysical presuppositions of atheism:

    “The Kangaroo Debate: Can Statements about God be Meaningful?”

    http://19.org/blog/kangaroo/

    Alistair John wrote: “The ‘version’ of atheism I subscribe to is the dictionary definition of atheist, “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.””

    The version of atheism you subscribe to is not the dictionary definition of atheist. Many dictionaries define atheism as “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods”. But can you find a single dictionary that define atheism as “a lack of belief IN THAT FOR WHICH THERE IS NO EVIDENCE”? 🙂

  • MichaelElwood

    Alistair John wrote: “I cannot see how you can be offended by atheism. It is simply a lack of belief in something for which there is no evidence.”

    I’m not offended by atheism, I just find it to be an absurd dogma. As for what atheism is, more on that later. . .

    Alistair John wrote: “I don’t have to tolerate any belief or any idea I think absurd.”

    Yes, you do have to tolerate beliefs and ideas that that you, rightly or wrongly, consider absurd. that’s the very definition of liberal.

    Alistair John wrote: “I am, on the whole, tolerant to those who hold such beliefs, unless those beliefs are what I consider bigoted or dangerous for the well being of others.”

    What you and other atheists consider a “bigoted” and “dangerous” belief is subjective and often self-serving. And we all know what popular atheists like Sam Harris think should be done to people with “dangerous” beliefs.

    Alistair John wrote: “I literally loved a Muslim girl once, but the relationship ended as a non-Muslim her family would not tolerate a non-Muslim and she chose her family and faith over me.”

    Her and her family are smart. It’s irrational to love someone who hates you and your religion. I used to read the comments on a website for atheists and ex-Muslims. They would routinely express hatred for Islam and Muslims. One poster, who was married to a Muslim woman, said it made him sick to see his in-laws praying. And in the past, the leader of the American Atheists organization, Madalyn Murray O’hair, even disowned her son when he converted to Christianity.

    Alistair John wrote: “A previous girlfriend was a feminist. We rarely saw eye to eye, but she had far more problem with my scepticism of feminism than I did her belief in feminist ideology.”

    She’s smart too. Atheism in the West is a very pale and very male phenomenon. And despite its universal pretense, atheism’s particular ethos has always reflected its largest demographic. For example, the atheist scientists Helmuth Nyborg and Richard Lynn believe that women aren’t as smart as men. And these anti-women beliefs aren’t limited to Nyborg and Lynn, they’re widespread among atheists:

    “Brazen sexism is pushing women out of America’s atheism movement”

    https://qz.com/613270/brazen-sexism-is-pushing-women-out-of-americas-atheism-movement/

    Despite what atheism and atheists think about them, I would argue that these Muslim and feminist women should still tolerate them even if they hate or despise them. As for women (Muslim, feminist, or whatever) being in a relationship with someone who believes this atheist nonsense, I guess it’s up to them and it depends on their individual tolerance for bullshit.

    Alistair John wrote: “Those Muslims who stone adulterers to death, persecute gays, persecute religious minorities, and blow up little girls at concerts I hate and despise. Don’t you?”

    Of course I hate and despise them. But I hate them because of what they DO, not because of what they BELIEVE (I have no tolerance for those who are intolerant of others). And because I’m a Muslim, I know that these actions are not congruent with Islamic teachings. For example, stoning for adultery is conspicuously absent in the Quran. When stoning is mentioned in the Quran, it is invariably not the Muslims who are doing it (see 11:91, 18:20, 19:46, 26:116, and 36:18). The Sunnis who stone adulterers had to explain away this absence by manufacturing a stoning verse and claiming that it had been conveniently eaten by a goat. Persecuting religious minorities is also against Islam (see my response to Jokuvaan). As for blowing up little girls, it should go without saying that such actions are not congruent with Islamic teachings. Is the reverse true? Do you hate atheists like James Elmer Mitchell who created the program that engaged in torture (or “enhanced interrogation” as it’s euphemistically called)? Do you hate atheists like Same Harris who justify “collateral damage” like the killing of little girls like Nawar al-Awlaki?

    Alistair John wrote: “If you wish to claim, as a Muslim, that they are not true Muslims and do not follow Islam properly that is certainly your prerogative.”

    I do claim that they are not true Muslims and that that they’re not following Islam properly (for the reasons I outlined above).

    Alistair John wrote: “Speaking as a non-Muslim I am not in a position to say which is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ version of Islam, or indeed any religion.”

    You’ve been doing that the whole time, Alistair. You base you criticism of Islam on their actions (which presumes that their actions are the right expression of Islam), And you imply that Muslims who don’t commit similar actions are selectively following their religion (which presumes that their actions are not the right expression of Islam). Remember?

    Alistair John wrote:”Your position remains that I must embrace an ideology I despise in order that I can love and/or esteem its followers. That is ludicrous.”

    No, my position is not that you should embrace beliefs that you despise, but that you should tolerate them. Your “tolerance” isn’t really tolerance if it only extends to beliefs that you like or agree with.

    CONTINUED IN NEXT COMMENT

  • It absolutely is the point because you are making baseless assertions. If you say Islamic doctrine is hateful, then that implies you actually know something about the doctrine, which you really don’t. It’s based on a very superficial understanding.

    Muslim behavior is another thing. Yes, you can know something about the doctrine from people’s behavior, but what exactly? If the only people in the entire world who engaging in hateful or violence behavior were Muslims, it would be easier to make the case it’s the doctrine (though there could be other reasons). But Muslims don’t have a monopoly of violence or hatred.

    I can observe that in America people murder people. Does that mean I can conclude that America law prescribes murder? Of course not! Murderers are acting in spite of America law, not because of it. So when you see a Muslim doing something and you want to know if it is tied to the doctrine, then you have to know what the doctrine actually says. If that action directly contradicts Islam ,then it likewise is in spite of the doctrine, not because of it!

    This is a problem I have with a good many (though certainly not all) atheists. They’re all about evidence when they’re on the offensive against religious people, but not so keen on evidence when the tables are turned.

    You seem to like to police people’s thoughts. Why would anyone have to share those beliefs? Your views are contradictory in that you preach freedom and then want to dictate what people need to believe! The whole idea of liberal democracy, as I was taught, is that people get to think, believe and say whatever they like, with the barest minimum constraints. Where they are regulated is in their behavior, which means they must abide by the law.

    If a person believe homosexual behavior is a sin, it’s their right. You can no more demand they give homosexuality a moral seal of approval than Muslims can demand YOU give Islam a moral seal of approval! This is why this site is advocates Muslims civil rights without asking people to subscribe to any particular set of beliefs regarding Islam.

    You sound like someone from Harry’s Place who wants to give Muslims litmus tests.

    In your overzealous efforts to maintain some sort of atheist utopia, you seem to betray the very concepts of individual freedom you supposedly want to uphold.

    Your “expertise” is casual observation and whatever some ex-girlfriend said. Based on that, you feel comfortable making bold statements about Islam. That’s a very sloppy approach, especially for someone who in other contexts is big into evidence-based conclusions.

    What is it you want anyway? Why are you here? Do you think atheist talking points will convince the people here that Muslims don’t deserve civil rights? I don’t think that’s going to work. If that’s not the point, what is?

  • Alistair John

    But that’s the point. I don’t need to be an Islamic scholar to judge Islam. I can judge Islam by the actions of Muslims. Just as I don’t need to read Marx to understand the pitfalls and problems of communism, I can look at Stalin, Mao, Castro and Kim Jung-il.

    It is not for me to say who is the better Muslim, the secular Majid Nawaz or the Ayatollah Khomeini. I prefer one to the other but is not my place which is the better Muslim. The cultural and doctrinal questions are of no interest to me. It is people arguing over which myth is true, which interpretation closer to God.

    I judge Islam by Islamic societies and Islamic countries, not which man made myths Muslims profess to believe. I find Islamic societies tend to be intolerant of religious and sexual minorities and are oppressive in the name of God. I see a similarity with Islam to Europe before Christianity was effectively neutered and removed from the corridors of power. There is the same internecine strife and cruelty, intolerance and oppression.

    If you are Muslim who believes in sexual equality, believes in rights for homosexuals, abhors cruel punishments for crimes, abhors cruel punishments for non-crimes such as adultery, believes in religious freedom, believes in freedom for apostates, abhors genital mutilation, believes in absolute freedom of speech and abhors religious violence then we have no argument. What God could you pray to is of little interest to me.

  • It’s similar to Christians who claim to hate the “sin” but love the “sinner”. You’ll invariably find that they actually hate the “sinner” too.

    This is a tricky parallel.

    I think the whole idea of “love the sinner, hate the sin” is meant to uphold the doctrine while still making space for people. What’s the alternative? To openly hate the sin AND the sinner?

    Sin is not some broad concept with a range of good and bad qualities. It is by definition, according to a doctrine, something that is wrong. Why would not not dislike or even hate wrongdoing?

    If a person thinks that Islam is by definition bad, then similarly this is the only way for them to make space for Muslims! I think it’s better than hating Islam AND Muslims.

    My question is why for such a person is Islam similar to sin? Something they see as “all bad”? When I investigate, I usually find the reasons are not very sound. They depend on myopic focus, superficial understanding, and false assumptions to construct a false “all bad” version of Islam in their own minds. I don’t think this is a parallel so sin. How can we find the “good” in sin?

    Because of this difference, I think it would be a lot easier to argue that there isn’t a good reason to hate a whole religion but there is good reason to hate sin because it is by doctrinal definition a bad thing–not a nuanced and sometimes good thing!

  • CowabungaCreeper

    Wait, did he say he was anti-christian… but not anti-muslim? The alt reich crybabies must love him lol.

  • What I know of Islam comes chiefly from observation and a Muslim ex-girlfriend.

    Quite the scholar then!

  • Alistair John

    Do you want a cookie or something?

  • Alistair John

    The fact that people make wider claims about God doesn’t make his/her/it’s reality more real than fairies or unicorns. If by God you mean anything for which there is no evidence I’m not going to believe that either unless you can produce tangible evidence.

    If you believe something for which there is not one single shred of evidence I think it hardly unreasonable to assert that you are blinded by your ideology to some degree. No amount of investigation is going to find evidence of the divine. Religious faith is by its very nature blind until we have incontrovertible proof.

    A fairy tale isn’t ‘mere’. Fairy tales are as important as religious myths to many cultures. We understand the world through fairy tales as much as we do any other story form or parable. In the secular West, their influence is probably greater than anything other form of fiction.

    The difference is that, unlike religious myths, no-one thinks fairy tales divinely ordained. People don’t hope for salvation through following them. Everything you said about religious texts, the resonance, the large numbers of authors, the compilations etc. also apply to fairy tales.

    The fact that people continue to believe things which are almost certainly untrue is no proof of anything. As Oscar Wilde said, “science is the record of dead religions.” And yet people continue to try to re-animate the corpse. That is why we have astrology and witch doctors in this day and age.

    In China and Russia a religiosity of mind, a tendency to accept ideology on blind faith has not changed. All that changed was old religions were exchanged for a secular ideology and now that is turning full circle. Rational thinking is not part of that equation.

    I am not arguing against the selective following of religious texts and practices. In fact quite the opposite. It is a great blessing to mankind that most Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Christians ignore the worse their texts and traditions have to offer.

    The only point I raised about selectively is why do followers of a more liberal and tolerant version of a religion assume they are the correct one when the more illiberal and less tolerant ones make the exact same claim?

    Why are God’s truths obscure? If your mortal soul is at stake why not have simple and clear to follow rules explained in plain language?

    What I know of Islam comes chiefly from observation and a Muslim ex-girlfriend.

  • I cannot prove there are no fairies or unicorns either.

    Exactly right but not a perfect parallel. I’ve never heard anyone claim fairies or unicorns are responsible for the creation. God is a different concept, and if it’s applied broadly enough, it can mean a lot of different things which are not related to your example.

    My concern is any mind which is blinded by ideology, religious or secular, and accepts ‘truths’ without proper investigation.

    Are you suggesting all religious people are “blinded by ideology” and have not engaged in proper investigation? What’s the basis for that assertion?

    To me, they are nothing but a collection of myths and fairy tales.

    Then you’ve definitely missed the point. Even from a purely secular point of view, religious doctrines are much more than mere fairy tales. The Bible was written by about 40 different authors over a period of about 1500 years, and evidence some of the stories that were incorporated are even older. Why did people bother to keep track of all of those writings, and compile them into a story? These ideas resonate deeply with people even today, and in regions where atheism has been aggressively promoted and became fairly widespread, many people are going back to religion. This is happening in China and Russia, for example.

    Why? At the very least, I think that’s an interesting question. Something that has captured the human imagination for thousands of years is more than fairy tale.

    Why did God choose to be so obscure?

    Because the truths being conveyed are obscure and complex.

    If it’s not problematic to follow religion selectively, then that probably shouldn’t be one of your talking points against it.

    You’ve made statements again about Islam, but you haven’t answered my earlier question. How did you come to know what you think you know about Islam?

    j

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