Islamic Modernity Depends on Islamic Reformation

May 10, 2016

By  Ayushman Jamwal

No matter what the proponents of Islam and Christianity believe, it is a challenge to call a faith peaceful when the good and evil receive sanction from the same scripture. Punishment for apostasy and homosexuality, curtailing the rights of women, and slavery — while the peaceful proponents of both faiths can identify religious tenets against them, there are others belonging to the same faith who can find religious authorization for them.

The stark contrast emerges when we consider how the medieval practices sanctioned by faiths are implemented by political authorities.

Islam is the only religion that operates as a genuine theocracy in some countries. These nations, primarily in the Middle East, have dismal human rights records regarding minorities and the rights of women. There are 13 Muslim nations where apostasy is punishable by death.

Even in democratic Islamic nations like Pakistan, blasphemy is punishable by death. In nations like Saudi Arabia, there are serious constraints on the freedom of expression. Women can’t drive, and face restrictions over employment and ownership rights. The tribal politics perpetuated by the Islamic faith finds its most telling manifestation in ISIS, which aims to establish a Caliphate –- a medieval Islamic state — to practice the same brand of extremist religion most of the world is trying hard to sideline.

Those who argue that Islam is a peaceful faith, one that ensures social justice, tend to espouse that virtue when protected under liberal democracies. What often gets missed is that Muslims in liberal democracies are able to practice the positive elements of their faith under the protection of secular laws.

These laws protect the same Muslims from the negative elements of their faith, something they cannot deny as multiple cases of discrimination and violence in Muslim nations are authorized by Islamic law.

Consider the rights of women. If a woman is denied the right to seek out employment, if she is denied the right to choose whom to marry, what to wear, or when and how to move around in public, she can go to the police and achieve justice. But in a Muslim nation, where Sharia is the law of the land, authorities will, of course, uphold the law and deny justice to the same woman.

Similarly, if someone speaks up against a tenet of an ideology or faith in liberal democracies and receives threats, they, too, can seek protection of the law. In Muslim nations, the same authorities will be required by law to punish someone who criticizes the Islamic faith.

Regardless of their faith, citizens of a secular and democratic nation are ensured specific legal and human rights.

The conundrum arises when peaceful Muslims claim that social justice ensured in secular democracies is also ensured by Islamic scripture. But those who commit human rights atrocities also justify their actions with scripture.

When the world witnesses how the word of God is implemented in Muslim states, it becomes difficult to understand the same faith as peaceful and progressive. Moreover, there is usually a ‘no comments’ retort when these peaceful Muslims in liberal democracies are asked if they would ever live in the nations dominated by Islamic law.

Christianity was once similarly considered a dogmatic political power in the Western world.

The Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades and the persecution of scientists are dark chapters in human history, where faith was used to divide and suppress and political power was exercised by the pope and cardinals. But Christianity witnessed a reformation from within, where communities challenged the dogma, and over time, established a spiritual, and to a great extent, genuine form of faith, creating a more direct link between Man and God.

The reformation created the Protestant faith and a series of other Christian sects, which understood faith as a celebration of life and God, not submission to a higher authority.

The erosion of religious authority in the West laid the foundation for the establishment of secular laws. As God stepped back during the establishment of nation-states, enshrining civil rights in laws became the calling card of humanists and revolutionaries around the world.

This internal reformation in Christian societies had the effect of a spiritual overhaul in Christianity.

Same-sex rights, which is the new civil rights struggle of the 21st century, has been championed by traditional Catholic communities, namely Ireland voting unanimously in favor of same sex marriage. Even Pope Francis has softened his stance on same sex relationships, focusing on celebrating the universal human emotion of love. We seldom, if ever, see such a push toward universal human rights in Islamic nations or from Muslim leaders.

Religious-political authorities have moved ahead with the times erasing restrictions on civil liberties, while in the Middle East these restrictions are alive and kicking as they are sanctioned by Islamic scripture. We must realize that elements like the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups that draw their ideology from Scripture cannot operate with impunity in the West, yet the worst and most horrific elements of the world they imagine does exist in some regards in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Islam needs its own Reformation to combat the discrimination and brutality that has darkly stained the image of the faith in the 21st century. That is the only way that Islamic societies will be able to put a leash on theocracies and scrap the medieval ideas that prevent them from joining the civilized world.

Ayushman Jamwal is a senior editor for CNN/IBN (Indian Broadcasting Network), headquartered in a suburbs near of New Delhi. He is a well known blogger and commentator on Indian politics, international relations and social issues.

50 comments on “Islamic Modernity Depends on Islamic Reformation

  • It is not only Islam which is absurd, Mohamad’s ‘revelations” came from the “angel” Gabriel who does not exist, Mormonism came from an semiliterate con artist, convicted of fraud, Joseph Smith, whose revelations came from the ‘angel’ Moroni, Islam, Christianity all came from Judaism. anyone who know the bible and reads it should be aware that it one of the most evil books in existence, and has been responsible for the worlds worst atrocities (read Martin Luther’s obscene anti-Semitism), .or Read Jesus advice to children about their relationship to their parents. The problem is that most people know nothing about te history of their religion or its so-called “holy books’ (an oxymoron). The Nazis used the old testament against the Jews, their own book, a book which condones murder, slavery, rape, child sacrifice, and advocates a master race and a chosen people (sound familiar). To offset the obscenities or organized religion, we need more videos, documentaries, YouTube on the history of religion. There are many scientific researchers and archeologists who have this knowledge (many Jewish), Carrier, Price, Harris, Fitzgerald, AronRa and many others. There is only one way to combat the absurdities of organized religion and that is to “cut I off at the knee” with research about the origins of religion and their absolute absurdities. The problem was and is, the appalling ignorance and stupidity of the human race, which allows itself to be controlled by the nonsense of religion and their parasitic priests and “holy men”.
    Organized exists to shut down the human mind and control people, true in the past and the present.

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  • I would be interested to see how a reformation/enlightment within islam would take place. The obvious way is to drop religion altogether, as most people in Europe have.

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  • Hi,

    I think this article is extremely flawed and quite weak in many ways.

    To be clear, I think the aims are good, greater secularism and tolerance in the Islamic world. I support that. that is not the issue i have with the article.

    the problem is with the idea of a ‘reformation’.

    The Protestant Reformation of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, etc was a move back towards the Bible, ‘sola scripture’ in the words of Martin Luther. Servetus was burned at the stake in Calvin’s Geneva, hardly a model of tolerance and secularism. If one studies the Reformation, it was a move back toward the Bible and against the Catholic church and its ecclesiastical hierarchy. The Reformation was not the Enlightenment. It was not about secularism or tolerance, it was about having a purer form of Christianity purged of its medieval accretions. Back to the early faith of the apostles, that is the meaning of the Reformation.

    It led to a hundred and more years of war in Europe between Protestants and Catholics. The result of so much war led to secularism, as people got sick of wars over theology.

    As such, to call for an ‘Islamic Reformation’ means that Muslims should go back to the Koran and take it seriously. This can hardly lead to greater secularism in Muslim majority countries. Indeed, it could easily be argued that fundamentalism Islam is the Islamic Reformation, as it attempts to go back to the pure and early teaching of Mohammed and his companions.

    The call for an Islamic Reformation is ridiculous as it misunderstands the nature of the Protestant Reformation. It also is wrong in imagining that all religions have the same logic as Christianity.

    Further, there is a difference between Europe and North America and the Muslim majority countries. Europe is wealthy while the latter are largely poor third world countries.

    I sometimes get the impression that the Humanist society type atheism doesn’t understand that in very poor countries, people need religion as they have little else. they need hope. I think Marx understood this when he said ‘religion is the opium of the people’. I don’t think that atheism will work in poor countries as it requires a base population that is educated, aware of science and philosophy etc. This is not the case in most third world countries.

    The call for an Islamic Reformation is misguided as it misunderstands the nature of the Protestant Reformation.
    The Reformation was not the Enlightenment. It is wrong to portray it as that.

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  • The Reformation was not the Enlightenment. It is wrong to portray it as that.

    I think this is an important point.

    The tendency to schism though is an essential ingredient. In schism and further schism is the possibility of evolutionary change.

    The wanton denial that schism is possible in the face of a few major fractures in historical Islam is one of the first points of leverage. Too late. That horse has already bolted and flown away. The top half of the stable door, at least, is clearly ajar.

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  • anton #3

    Thanks for the explanation anton. Very interesting.

    One thing I don’t agree with though;

    I sometimes get the impression that the Humanist society type atheism
    doesn’t understand that in very poor countries, people need religion
    as they have little else.

    although I agree with;

    requires a base population that is educated, aware of science and
    philosophy etc.

    hope in something solid must be better than hope and a prayer surely?

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  • Olgun, anton

    I sometimes get the impression that the Humanist society type atheism
    doesn’t understand that in very poor countries, people need religion
    as they have little else.

    I think a practical ideology rather than a fantasy one is the lesser evil poor folk need. Socialism in some strong brand is a more effective deliverer of hope and a much more effective deliverer of a real salvation.

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  • Olgun #5
    May 14, 2016 at 7:26 am

    anton #3

    One thing I don’t agree with though;

    I sometimes get the impression that the Humanist society type atheism
    doesn’t understand that in very poor countries, people need religion
    as they have little else.

    although I agree with;

    requires a base population that is educated, aware of science and philosophy etc.

    I think one key aspect of this problem, is that when poor countries recognise the need for education, but lack the know-how and funding to provide it, religious opportunists are quick to send (initially free of charge) missionaries under the guise of “educators”, when third world organisations look to developed countries for expertise at a price they can afford.

    These missionaries are quick to present and import modern medicine, and modern technologies as part of their woo package, thus mixing the woo with stuff which is visibly effective and of benefit, creating an image of “authoritative support” for the woo by association of ideas!

    Their financial backers in wealthy countries, can all indulge in the “feel-good factor”, by giving donations to these to “charities”!

    hope in something solid must be better than hope and a prayer surely?

    Those who go to such organisations with hope, looking for something solid, are likely to be sold prayer and dogma! – and probably at a high cost to themselves and their communities.

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  • Anton’s comment is important for its points about the Protestant Reformation. Much food for thought there. I’m now disappointed in our promotion of an Islamic Reformation. That ISIS = Islamic Reformation is a disturbing reality. Encouragement of schism and a strong brand of Socialism as Phil points out, are hopeful ways forward.

    At this point, an injection of some happy clappy crystal worship and aroma therapy enthusiasts would be a serious improvement over the Islamic fundamentalism that has a monkey grip on the population of the Islamic majority countries today. I despise that woo when I encounter it in my own country and the US has a wealth of it as we know, and am ashamed to even consider that it would be a useful tactic. I’ll take my lumps on this gracefully.

    To smash that monkey grip that the religious clerics have over the masses is a priority. The problems have been the special privilege of religion in society that cannot be criticized if one wants their head to remain attached to their body. As usual, I have the North African Maghreb in mind here when I say that the influence of religion in that part of the world needs to be smashed by the full force of the government with a forceful propaganda program that will undermine religious influence aimed at the masses.

    The fundamentalists have stepped up with charitable programs there where the government failed them for decades. This is a big problem for secularists to argue against. The massive corruption that is diverting the wealth of the country to the pockets of the dictator and his entourage is being blatantly displayed at this point. Meanwhile the population lives in poverty and ignorance. A black cloud of hopelessness has settled over them. The fundamentalists utilize this and present themselves as champions of honor, honesty, equity and justice.

    We dream of a peoples revolution there. A benevolent dictatorship to crush the life out of the clergy (literally? figuratively? both?) and do the same to the current regime that is sucking the life out of their people who deserve better. Implement a forceful secular carrot and stick strategy and address the education, health care, housing and lawlessness problems that make life a living hell in that place. With the open access to the internet and all other media, good influence can come from the outside.

    Is this a viable path to enlightenment values replacing the old tribal desert values that remain entrenched in Islamic mentality? Like I said, ~sigh~ it’s a dream.

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  • Olgun

    in very poor countries, people need religion
    as they have little else.

    I also can’t stand this statement. It’s certainly not new to me and even some educated, secular Algerians I know say it and believe this to be true. I always argue against it directly. It really comes off as patronizing and sickeningly elitist. I was initially tempted to say that only Western elitists would say such a thing (not knowing any third worlders themselves) but I had to say honestly that their own elitists are just as likely to do so.

    I really don’t accept the statement as truth. The common folk in N.Africa are uneducated but they are not stupid. When I explain secular humanist ideas they listen! They engage me in these discussions happily. They DO change their minds or at least offer to think about these new ideas. I have great hope in their sense of fairness, justice and their desire for a better life for their children. To say that they are just too stupid or evil to move forward in their thinking is unacceptable to me.

    The majority of the N.Africans do NOT want to live in an Islamic state under sharia law. They demonstrated this fact with a long horrific civil war against the fundamentalists amongst them. They are resilient and resourceful. They don’t NEED religion. They need a decent alternative to it.

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  • hi Laurie B

    fair point. I don’t mind being wrong, if it is wrong to say that people in poor countries need religion. perhaps they don’t. But in that case, why is religion strong in third world countries? don’t have the answer, but posing a question. it may be that 3rd world elites promote religion to keep their own masses ignorant?

    I don’t mean to come across as a know it all, i actually don’t know. curious to know what other people think. It seems to me that there is something to the ‘opium of the people’ thing however.

    In the UK, from my own observation and nothing else, it is mainly the minorities that take religion seriously, not everyone, of course, but many. There are several churches near where i live, and every sunday i see lots of very well dressed mainly black people go to them, and they are full. I can see the family aspect of going to church, which would be OK if it was just that. But its not.

    a school friend of mine, a black guy, recently converted to Islam. I asked him why? From what he said, i gather that he felt lost and without direction. religion gets people when they are down. I think when someone is down, then thats when they are most likely to catch the religious meme virus.

    as it goes, it is not just Islam that might be a problem. I mean, Hinduism and Buddhism don’t get criticised. much, probably because Hindus and Buddhists are not attacking us, but the caste system and superstitions around Hinduism are not necessarily that great either.

    this is just my personal observation, not claiming it to be more than that.

    I personally hope that education will lead people to see the stupidities of religion, but it will probably take some time, especially if religious institutions control education. i actually do think that many people in the middle east are getting sick of religious bickering, and that sooner or later, all this killing, bombing, throwing people off buildings, forcing women to wear a veil etc, will make the people sick of all this nonsense.

    i am also genuinely curious about sado masochistic religious practices, such as the Islamic Shia self flaggelation festival of muharram

    I simply don’t quite get it, and curious why people do this kind of crazy stuff. would like to know what others think about it.

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  • regarding the protestant reformation:

    Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”
    ― Martin Luther

    Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.- John Calvin

    I hope there is an enlightenment in the muslim countries, not a reformation.

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  • I hope there is an enlightenment in the muslim countries, not a reformation.

    I hope they remember their more glorious past, a pre-Enlightenment Enlightenment. I am currently reading Jim Al-Khalili’s The House of Wisdom. “How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Rennaisance.” This is the society that gave us the first atheist poet and a philosopher scientist confident that personal souls (holding identity) were a nonsense. It made great strides in maths, chemistry, astronomy and medicine. It saved us from the Dark Ages when Christian culture, though knowing much of Greek science, failed dismally to nurture it as was nurtured further south.

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  • anton #11
    May 14, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ.- John Calvin

    Theists have an assortment of dishonest approaches which either dispute and disparage science and reason, or pretend that their circular faith-thinking from dogmatic preconceptions, IS science and reason!

    Even without the protestant reformation, it is deeply ingrained in the historical mind-fumbling of theologists!

    If you click on the CONTENTS section of the link you can look at examples at:

    4 Pope Pius IX

    8 Pope Benedict XVI

    9 Pope Francis

    10 Catholic teaching and evolution

    While various churches CLAIM to accept evolution, they insist that it has the purpose of creating human worshippers – which of course contradicts the science, and is ludicrous in view of the scale of the universe!

    There are also theistic definitions of “REASON” and “LOGIC” which usually mean, “processes of semantic brain-fumbles and fallacies, arriving at dogmatic preconceptions based on faith”!

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  • Alan4Discussion – exactly!! when i was at uni, a christian evangelist tried to convert me, and when i argued back, told me that my reason was corrupted by sin and pride, and so i couldn’t be correct… He was a Presbyterian Calvinist.

    even worse are these Islamic apologists such as IERA and fellow travellers that claim science proves Islam correct.

    I believe the Wahabi/Salafi fundamentalist movements were attempts to get back to the sources, the original Islam, which is why they hate sufism with its cult of worshipping at the graves of saints etc. they see all that as medieval accrections which must be purged in favour of a pure Islam just like 7th century Arabia.

    This is why i’m suspicious of the term ‘reformation’.

    As Phil Rimmer mentioned above, there are atheists and freethinkers in the Islamic tradition, but they are not well known, unfortunately. whats worse, some postmodernist types make out that science and rationality are peculiarly western, when in reality it is not.

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  • Laurie #9

    in very poor countries, people need religion as they have little else.

    It certainly seems to say that we will all ‘need’ religion at some point in our lives…..patronizing and sickeningly elitist……spot on!

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  • something being elitist – as you see it – doesn’t make something false.
    if you disagree with the view that ” in very poor countries, people need religion as they have little else” , you need to give reasons why its false. its entirely possible that an elitist view is true.

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  • It is true anton. Not denying that. It’s the ‘need’ part that objected to. After a very good post, that one statement says there is nowhere else to go but religion. What I would suggest is that those who did something practical will do better than those who fall into the trap of religion. It might benefit the larger group through the organisation religion provides maybe but it’s the organisation that is needed not the religion.

    Hope my comments weren’t seen as hostility towards you?

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  • anton #14
    May 14, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    when i was at uni, a christian evangelist tried to convert me, and when i argued back, told me that my reason was corrupted by sin and pride, and so i couldn’t be correct… He was a Presbyterian Calvinist. . . . . . . . . . . . .
    whats worse, some postmodernist types make out that science and rationality are peculiarly western, when in reality it is not.

    They also usually try to claim that all opinions are of equal merit, in an attempt to put their brain fumblings on a par with reasoned science. – or worse, – that “divine authority” trumps all!

    This point is where I consider the wider audience rather than the closed mind of the immovable dogmatist, and move from detailed evidence and reasoning, to mockery of fallacious thinking!

    Postmodernism has been very effectively debunked by replacing its semantic ramblings with machine generated texts. –
    Be sure to read the section at the bottom of the page on the link!
    If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal’s brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication.

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  • anton,
    I agree with Olgun. My comments are NOT meant to be hostile to you. There is no need to mount a defense. I enjoyed your comment #3 very much. I have changed my mind about using the term “reformation” as a good thing for the future of Islam. I always appreciate when someone comes up with such a strong idea around here. If I need correcting on something then I’m so happy to have it.

    I will also concede that I was uneasy with using the word “elitist” in my comment but I let it stand for lack of a better one. There is much about elitism that infuriates and disgusts me and this may have something to do with the American perspective on these things, but with the populist Tea Party, gun toting, proud of ignorance Sarah Palin type culture gaining ascendancy here, some of us are whispering to ourselves, “Maybe a little elitism isn’t such a bad thing after all…” This must be between the two of us and I will deny that I ever said it. 😉

    I will have a very hard time to restrain myself from fulminating against elitism but I must agree that your statement:

    something being elitist – as you see it – doesn’t make something false.

    must be true.

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  • hi

    I didn’t take it as hostile at all. i hope i am not coming across as dogmatic. i don’t know if poverty and religion goes hand in hand, maybe it doesn’t. the internet causes things to come out in a way which we don’t quite mean sometimes. It is obviously more complicated than just that statement, i wouldn’t pretend otherwise.

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  • Let me vent. I won’t choose my words carefully, will use broad, artless strokes. Just saw a documentary that filled me with rage against Islamist extremism and disgust and pessimism over the whole frigging culture of Islam, and that includes all of it.

    How many of the people “over there” are even aware that there is a problem? Or are they like the lumpenproletariat? Maybe they like it the way it is, and we’re the ones telling them that all that inequality and injustice is bad.
    Why would what’s his name (Namaz?) alway be yapping away with his phony accent and expensive suits about tolerance if he didn’t think that there was a great deal worth tolerating? He’s like all the rest, an apologist, a politician, a moderate. There are no Muslim radicals speaking out, not a single one. They are all too frightened of being killed or are in the dark themselves. It’s hopeless. They’ll never be reform or an enlightenment until there’s blood on the streets, as a result of a revolution.
    No one like Sam Harris amongst them. He’d be killed if he were a former Muslim, wouldn’t he?
    And Mallala (a Muslim in spite of everything) wants to send books and have dialogue? Books for who? The extremists? The people? The people have to want to read books.

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  • P.S. I am an abnormally nuanced thinker, but the above quote was not very nuanced. Sorry. I just wish there wasn’t so much suffering and cruelty and inequality in the world. I get emotional at times…

    Anyway, here’s a thought: what the “Muslim world” (and sorry for my lack of clarity) needs is its Rosa Parks! Imagine a Muslim woman in the middle of Tehran or wherever taking off her veil, and dressed in a sexy outfit, shouting: I will not be dominated anymore! No more! I am free to be who I want to be!

    They need their Rosa Parks.

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  • 24
    fadeordraw says:

    Actually, I quickly had apprehension with the suggestion that Islam needs to go through a reformation as Christianity did. The Christian reformation lead to such practices such as Calvinism; really restrictive, oppressive stuff. The hypothesis seems to be that the Christian reformation lead to secular governance and I’m not sure about that at all. The Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the revolutions for democratic governance and, above all, the science that eventually taught us that we sapiens are living/growing on the planet, these are what brought us to value planet living rather than that of an afterlife. The human fodder for the Islam that’s doing the killing are uneducated folk with childhood/simple mythical appreciations, where to die to enter the afterlife is the dearest wish. Education and poverty reduction are the combatants. So I’m not sure about the Islam reformation suggestion.

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  • According to Sam Harris it is not just uneducated and poor people who are (potential) fodder. He pointed out on Bill Maher that all of the 911 pilots were college educated.

    Tolerance: people should tolerate the tolerable and not tolerate (or at least not say that they tolerate) the intolerable. Not sure if too many people know what should and shouldn’t be considered tolerable.

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  • Just watched a 60 minute interview with Nawaz. He’s actually not that bad, but what a total bore!!
    (I take back what I said about Malala. I shouldn’t be so harsh. I just hope she gives up her religion someday.)

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  • Dan #26

    Neither of them are in the least interested in engaging you. They wish to engage the average Muslim who will judge themselves religious but not entirely happy.

    This is about political savvy.

    It would though serve their purpose well if you continued rather to be grumpy and dismissive. Please don’t feel any need to accommodate them.

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  • The Life of Brian wasn’t funny. Holy Grail was.
    Glad that guy’s art and hasn’t been banned by the fascist ministry of culture.
    He must have connections.

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  • Hi Dan,

    I believe that atheism/progressivist ideas were not unknown in the ‘Islamic world’, but were largely associated with the International Communist Movement. I’m sure you know the history, we – the Brits and Yanks – supported the fundamentalists in order to fight communism…

    The Afghan communists, for instance, banned the hijab.

    I don’t think Sam Harris or Maajid Nawaz are taken very seriously, mainly because Sam Harris is seen as a pro Western pro Israeli ‘imperialist’, while Maajid Nawaz as an ‘uncle Tom’.

    I am NOT saying they are that, but that is how they are seen.

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  • Hi Dan

    sorry i was unclear. I meant that Sam Harris or Majid Nawaz are unlikely to be taken seriously by Muslims, because Sam is seen as pro western interventionist pro war. Majid Nawaz is seen by many Muslims as an ‘uncle tom’, as the new London mayor Sadiq Khan was reported as saying.

    It is their loss, i agree.

    I mentioned the Afghan communists, because i see the rise of Islamic fundamentalism as partly being (not entirely tho) created/funded by us, the brits and the yanks in the cold war. ie Osama Bin Laden originally fought against the soviets with our backing in the 1980s.

    i dont want to get into a debate about geopolitics, (probably this is not the site for that), but it is not really possible to seperate politics from religious position at the moment. likewise Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji etc are not taken seriously by Muslims because they are seen as created and promoted by people who have indeed invaded and destroyed ‘their countries’.

    Sam Harris on the Israel issue:

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  • If the people you mentioned are seen as being supported by “people that have destroyed their countries” then those Muslims are half right and half wrong and to the extent that they are wrong and determined to remain rigid in their thinking and condemnatory at all costs, perhaps they deserve their fate. Let them stay ignorant and kill their own growth-potential and the growth-potential of those they are supposedly protecting. And if they are determined to label Harris as a Zionist or whatever (which he isn’t) and then proceed to dismiss everything he says right off the bat then they are fools. (Sorry.)
    Afghan communism. Know nothing about that, although it makes sense that we’d side
    with the fundamentalists.
    Harris always makes sense, tells the truth. No BS.
    Nawaz irritates and bores me. I can’t listen to him.
    [The Holy Grail, Olgun, was uneven but contains one or two
    of the funniest scenes in film history.]
    Not sure about something, Anton: are Harris’s books and Dawkins’ God Delusion being read in places like Saudi Arabia?
    Have they been translated and distributed? If they are that’s a good sign.

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  • Thanks, Bonnie. I have to be honest and confess that I am very ignorant about a lot of things; I thought it wouldn’t see the light of day “over there.” (The expression “over there” shows you how uninformed I am.)
    I am surprised and delighted to hear about that.

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  • it is good news the God Delusion is available in Arabic.

    You may find this interesting, its a shame about the acronymn, Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society (ISIS), but it was set up before the terrorist genocidal group

    In my opinion, atheism is more common even in the ‘Muslim world’ than one might think, but people are unlikely to identify as such openly. the recent killings of secularists in Bangladesh is very worrying, but it tells me that there is in face an atheist and secular movement in Bangladesh, and bearded religious types are worried enough about it to kill people.

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  • “Religion of peace” is Orwellian newspeak.
    Or Pythonesque.
    “Oh well, apart from the oppression of women, suppression of learning, bloodthirsty history, etc. etc., … but apart from all that, what makes you say Islam isn’t peaceful?”

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  • Dan-
    Imagine a Muslim woman in the middle of Tehran or wherever taking off her veil, and dressed in a sexy outfit, shouting: I will not be dominated anymore! No more! I am free to be who I want to be!

    She would be headless or stoned to death in Saudi Arabi, Afghanistan or Pakistan

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  • Mad Englishman-
    “Religion of peace” is Orwellian newspeak.

    Yes, in the western way of thinking; you must understand that the muslim mind is radically different,
    Islam is perfect, the Koran is without flaw or error, muslims are “the best of created peoples” and peace will reign when Islam conquers or subdues the globe and no other religions [or atheism] exist.

    “All worship shall be for Allah alone”

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  • The hypocrisy of the Western ‘advanced’ societies in the way they apply sanctions for some things like apartheid in South Africa and in north korea and Iran for their military threats while associating with Saudi Arabia is sickening. Systematic abuse of 50% of a population ie women is surely a crime against humanity in any civilised terms including those of the UN. All countries that legislate for the abuse of women should be ostracised completely in this day and age by all civilised countries. Respect for outdated cultural beliefs should not be an excuse to ignore institutionalised abuse.

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  • Richard01 #44
    May 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

    while associating with Saudi Arabia is sickening. Systematic abuse of 50% of a population ie women is surely a crime against humanity in any civilised terms including those of the UN.

    Saudi Arabia is not the only Islamic state with discriminatory laws!

    Houses were set on fire and an elderly woman was stripped of her clothing and paraded naked through the streets of a village in Egypt on Friday.

    Inter-religious violence erupted in Minya province after rumours of a love affair between a Christian man and a Muslim woman.

    The Church said that after the Christian man had fled the village, his mother was beaten, insulted, stripped of her clothes and paraded through the streets by a group of people.

    Muslims torched six or seven Christian homes in the village on the same day.

    Later, Christians burned down three Muslim homes. Six people were arrested.

    Christian men cannot marry Muslim women in Egypt without converting to Islam first. Sexual relations between people who are not married to each other are taboo among both Muslims and Christians there.

    Copts make up about a tenth of the country’s population of 90 million people.

    Copts claims they face discrimination and play a lesser part in Egyptian public life than their numbers justify.

    Not much sign of civilised modern thinking or enlightenment here!

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  • Yip. . But we ie the west ignore it and say their primitive culture trumps basic human rights. We should be imposing economic and other sanctions until this disgusting behaviour stops but we don’t! Why is that?

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  • Re: The Orlando shooting

    What a horrifying, sad day it’s been.

    Many people hate. But on top of that, their Holy Book says they should. This is what you get: violent automatons, genocide.

    Islam! (Means Peace.) Should be abolished. Let’s abolish Christianity too.

    Koran, Christian Bible. —Holy books are bad for people. Too dangerous. Tear the books to shreds, burn them. End these hateful religions now.

    Okay, not a good idea: burn all so called holy texts? That would be a great festival of bloodshed toward the last thousand or so volumes.

    Well then, get people, over time, not to believe every word these books say, for Christ’s sake. In other words, burn it out of their minds by instilling critical thinking. Holy books aren’t holy, are not inspired by God or any so-called prophets, or they would all be in agreement with each other.

    Enough is enough.

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  • Islam has two advantages over Christianity when it comes to embracing science.

    The Qur’an does not have that much to say about science. What it does say is more up to date.
    Islam has already gone through a golden age of science. We owe a lot of Islamic scholars for math, astronomy and for preserving ancient Greek writings. If they could do it once, they have a blueprint to do it again.

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  • Life of Brian not funny? I must enter the following into evidence.

    Man: I think it was, “Blessed are the cheesemakers”!

    Gregory’s wife: What’s so special about the cheesemakers?

    Gregory: Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally. It
    refers to any manufacturer of dairy products.

    And Terry was brilliant as Brian’s mom.

    How does one make the argument that punishment for disbelief in religion is nonsense when 1.6B of possible hearers define their lives through a faith that calls for such punishment? If one states it baldly, many of the hearers simply stop listening. If one waters it down a bit to keep the conversation alive, it begins to sound like respect for a faith that calls for such punishments. A conundrum.

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  • We have lived in a godless world since 1739 when Hume destroyed the first cause argument. I’m no fan of a twentieth century author but I do like his last line in his Brown Book “of want you cannot know you should not speak” and that is where we have been in western Europe for some 150 years. Our churches don’t say pay up or you will go to hell anymore. They state no cosmology. They adopted Soren’s ultimate apology “its a faith, a belief”. Only one in sixty Brits goes to church. We do NO POSITION wrt god or religion.

    If China can go from communism to naked capitalism in the blink of an eye then Islam can go from submission (the Abraham barbed hook) to twentieth century best practice overnight. The 500 year Islamic Golden Age was nothing to do with submission but everything to do with translating and preserving the Greek Golden Age. The new contributions were Persian for the most part and Iran is still a world leader in maths. Islam was 1,000 years behind best thinking/best practice when it was created based on the teachings of the book people. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were 1,000 years ahead of them.

    But the most damming thing to be said about submission and the “new book” people is that they have made no contribution to man’s knowledge of facts nor values in the last 900 years. As Richard Dawkins diplomatically pointed out “one Cambridge College has more Nobel Prizes than the entire Islamic world” of 1.6b people, one fifth of the world’s population.

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