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The “You Hate All Muslims” Strawman

The level of conversation around Islam has reached such a low state that those who have left the religion and/or those who critique it must state over and over that they in fact do not:

- Hate all Muslims

- Say all Muslims are violent/extremists/bad

- Call for genocide of all Muslims

- Say that there are no good Muslims

I have even put this disclaimer on this site, and stated it again here, yet I still receive questions asking why I “hate all Muslims”. Many others who critique Islam are similarly told that they “hate all Muslims”. None of this is say that there are not some genuine nuts out there who in fact DO call for genocide and violence against all Muslims (Note to such people: you are not helping us at all) but critique of a religion does NOT equate to wanting people to die. Heck, for the record, I am personally OPPOSED to all of the American led wars, bombing campaigns, nation building and  democracy installation experiements that are going on in Muslim majority lands. I also believe that GITMO should be closed and that religious people in the United States (to include Muslims) should have the right to worship their gods as they please as long they do not bring it into public policy.

I watched Ben Affleck’s now infamous debate with Bill Maher and Sam Harris and my take on it is that Ben did not listen to what Bill or Sam were saying at all. He immediately launched into the “you hate all Muslims” strawman. It was sad because I actually like both of them. But it was especially sad because it is so common in today’s discourse around Islam. They seem to care more about their status as a “good person” (or their bank account) than about the truth of the argument actually being made. Then of course the social media-phere blows up with everyone in agreement that Bill Maher and Sam Harris have called for genocide against Muslims and/or hate all Muslims when they have stated on numerous occasions that this is not true. But alas, the facts don’t matter when a good victim narrative is being constructed.

So here we go once again:

- We do not hate all Muslims

- There are many good and trustworthy Muslims

- I certainly do not desire the genocide of Muslims

With the discourse level being so low, I would suggest that those that critique Islam state this each and every time they mention anything unsavory about Islam as a religion

Response to Karen Armstrong

The Council of Ex-Muslims responded to Karen Armstrong’s article (read it here) contending that religions are peaceful, except when secularism causes it not to be peaceful. So in order to have peace, we secularists should shut up and allow religionists to stamp on our faces – forever. I decided to reproduce this brilliant response so that it is not lost in the sea of comments at the Guardian website

CEMB responded as follows (original link to comment is here):

Karen Armstrong says:

“When secularisation has been applied by force, it has provoked a fundamentalist reaction”

The problem is that too often, any kind of critical scrutiny of some religions, and any kind of secular impulse, any kind of refusal to submit to religious authority ‘provokes’ a fundamentalist reaction. And so we are told that it is our own fault for being abused. We ‘provoked’ our beating, because we refused to submit, we refused to obey, we wanted to create a free safe space, to think, to question, to escape Islam, because we asked questions like – ‘why does Islam teach that those who leave and criticise it deserve to be persecuted and even killed?’

It is often little things like this that ‘provoke’ a response, and when non Muslims who dislike secularism empathise with those who wish to silence dissenters, for emotional reasons, because of a kinship of instinct with those who are full of disquiet of the questioning of power and assumption that secularism enables, they collude with, and provide cover for those who wish to mete out divine responses to those who ‘provoke’ them. The ‘moderate’ believer enables the intolerance they claim to not be a part of ‘true’ ‘compassionate’ religion.

(and as an aside, when will believers acknowledge that the compassionate, pluralistic, tolerant religion they claim to be the ‘true’ form of their faith has been imagined because of the processes of secularism and the questions that secularisation asked of religious authority and bigotry?)

The reaction of silencing and coercion in response to questions that we ‘provoke’ from the religious often doesn’t come from the fundamentalists, but from the ‘moderates’ who don’t want these questions asked.

As secular space has allowed us to ask these questions. And its not just violent fundamentalists who hate this space for existing.

To that I say: Amen! (and I mean that in the secular sense!)

A Very Human God

From our friends at the Council of Ex-Muslims

To add to what is in the above video, there are several ayats in the Quran and in many Hadith that give Allah human characteristics, qualities and features such as eyes, a face, feet, hands, fingers, and a shin. In addition they describe him as smiling, walking, laughing, running, having a chair upon which he “puts his two feet” and other such human characteristics.

If that is not enough, then what is the plain meaning of this hadith?:

Al-Bukhari (6227) and Muslim (2841) narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Muhammad said: “Allah created Adam in His image, and he was sixty cubits (90′) tall. When he created him he said, ‘Go and greet that group of angels who are sitting and listen to how they greet you, for that will be your greeting and the greeting of your descendents.’ So he said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alaykum (peace be upon you),’ and they said, ‘Al-salaamu ‘alayka wa rahmat-Allaah (Peace be upon you and the mercy of Allaah.’ So they added (the words) ‘wa rahmat-Allaah.’ Everyone who enters Paradise will be in the form of Adam, but mankind continued to grow shorter until now.”

And Muslim (2612) narrated that Abu Hurayrah said: The Messenger of Allah said: “When any one of fights his brother, let him avoid the face, for Allah created Adam in His image.”

- How else would a person from the medieval ages interpret that seeing as how most human beings believed that their mightiest god lived in the sky (Islam is not exempt from that). Muslim Philosophers would become uncomfortable with that and begin to reinterpret and assign allegorical meanings. The proof was in a hadith about a young slave girl, to whom Muhammad asked: “Where is Allah?” She said: “In the sky.” He asked, “Who am I?” She said, “The Messenger of Allah.” So he said to her master: “Set her free, for she is a believer.”

So a (likely illiterate) slave girl understood allegory? Or is it more likely that she believed that Allah was really in the sky and Muhammad approved of this?

Think about it…

 

Does Islamic Literature Contain “Scientific Miracles”? (Short Answer: No)

This article refutes the common claim of Sunni Islamic apologists that the Qur’an contains “scientific miracles”

Read the article here

 

Islam As An ‘Arab Pride’ Movement

Excellent article that dovetails very well with this article

While central authorities in the Muslim world since the caliphate on to the current Saudi monarchy have done their best to obscure the actual origins and history of Islam, astute observation reveals that Islam is an amalgamation of Abrahamic and Arab pagan traditions. Reading the Qur’an in chronological order reveals a politically savvy prophet borrowing the mythologies of the Jews & Christians and combining them with the rituals and practices of the Arab pagans. There are certainly original rituals and mythologies that are unique to Islam, but the melting pot nature of Islam cannot be denied. In contrast, modern Muslims often pride themselves in the uniqueness of Islam, and it’s complete rejection of pre-Islamic paganism, a time referred to as the age of ignorance. And yet, historical study shows that the pilgrimage to the Kaa’ba, the fast and feast of Ramadan, the shahada, and even the crescent star symbol have pre-Islamic origins, to name a few.

Muhammad’s genius was in concocting a melange of acceptable doctrines, stories and rites that the warring tribes of Arabia would find palatable enough to accept. Now, personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with admitting that Islam is an evolution of earlier religious traditions, but Muslims would howl blasphemy at my assertion that they share common spiritual heritage with pagans. But if the Christians can acknowledge their evolution from Judaism, then surely Muslims must come to grips with the origin of their faith, as well.

[…]

Only recently did it strike me that ultimately, the doctrines of Islam are not really about universality. Instead, Islam is essentially an Arab pride movement aimed at codifying and preserving Arabic culture. Particularly as modernity challenges the tenets of Islam, Arabian culture clings to Islam as a signifier of status.

As a Bengali, it wounds me to think of the thousands of years of spiritual development wiped out by the Arab invasion of the Indian subcontinent. Not all Bengalis are Muslims, but those who are take pride in their religion and view their own religious heritage—the rich Bengali/Indian traditions that predate Islam—as disgusting. As a Bengali-American exploring my ancestry, this self-hatred of pre-Islamic Bengali culture strikes me as a curious kind of cultural Stockholm Syndrome. The Arab invasion was so successful that Bengalis are cursing their own ancestors’ spiritual traditions in favor of an essentially Arabian cultural movement. The pre-Islamic days of the Indian subcontinent offered a rich variety of spiritual traditions from non-dualist Buddhism, to pantheist Hinduism, and even some forms of monotheism. These traditions are much, much older than Islam and when studied carefully, they are much more nuanced and spiritually powerful.

Read it all here

Muslim Evangelists Peddle Lies About How Science is contained by Islam

The dialogue between science and religion is a topic of immense interest to many philosophers, theologians and scientists. While academics debated over the boundaries of science  or the validity of religious experience, a much cruder relationship between the two fields began to trend in Muslim communities across the developing and developed countries in recent decades. Many Islamic proselytizers began to widely publicize the belief that the sacred Islamic text, the Qur’an, contains scientific information that had only been discovered recently.

As a proselytizing tool, claims of scientific foreknowledge are found in the evangelical practices of many major religions.  However, this belief has gained much mainstream acceptance in the Muslim world, with adverse effects.

Read it all here

The Day of Judgment

Even as a Muslim, I have to admit having some of the same thoughts:

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