Recently, I published another part of the Understanding Jihad Series. In the series itself, I tackle the Islamophobic claim that Islam is somehow a uniquely violent religion. I point out that all religious traditions, not just the Islamic one, have their violent aspects to them. To drill this point home, I explored the violent aspects of other religions, including Judaism and Christianity, the two religions many of the Islamophobes follow. The intent was to: (1) disprove their thesis, and (2) bare their rancid hypocrisy.
The articles on Christianity were well-received. On the other hand, the ones on Judaism were not. My most recent article on Jewish law received especially critical reviews by some of our readers. Given the backdrop of a long history of Anti-Semitism in the world, I realize there is a certain sensitivity when it comes to such issues (which I think is reasonable).
Because I had become obsessed with disproving the anti-Muslim thesis–that Islam is a uniquely violent faith (which I believe is the Mother of all Islamophobic Myths)–I was bulldozing through, without realizing the harm that I was putting forth at the same time. Initially, I was resistant to hearing any criticism and pushing through it. Yet, after reading through some of the well-written comments by our readers, I decided to pause and reflect. Criticism is not something easy to take, but I decided to really think about what was being said to me and consider if there was an element of truth to it.
After reflecting on the matter, I realize that I was wrong. It’s as simple as that. Although it’s intellectually valid to note the violent aspects in various religious traditions in order to prove that Islam is not somehow uniquely violent, the style and tone I had adopted to do so were completely inappropriate. This is a very touchy matter, and it requires the calm and detached voice of the scholar, not the belligerent mannerisms of the pugilistic polemicist.
The book I am writing employs a much more softer, inoffensive tone. I think there is something about the internet that encourages an exaggerated, even bombastic style. It begins with the choice of title. The intention when forming a title is to goad readers to click. My recent title choices were designed to shock. Although an asterisk did clarify my real viewpoint, what is a tiny asterisk and fine print compared to a blaring headline? The title then set a negative tone for the rest of the article. Beyond just the tone, I should make sure to realize that these are very sensitive matters, and require finesse.
In any case, I have heard your criticisms, reflected on them, and have conceded. Therefore, going forward, I will make sure to be more responsible. It can be said that I was fighting fire with fire. But, as someone pointed out, the only proper way to fight fire is with water. I apologize to you and seek your forgiveness.