Neo-Atheism Attacks: Thoughts on Cenk Uygur / Sam Harris Discussion on Religious Violence in Islam

Background

The latest round of neo-atheist criticisms leveled at our faith that have gone viral in past weeks have come from comedian Bill Maher and neuroscientist Sam Harris while the most prominent responses have come from Reza Aslan, Ben Affleck, and Glenn Greenwald who is generally critical of a number of Harris’s positions.  The discussion has hinged loosely around a number of topics, ranging from clarifying true liberal doctrine to accusations of anti-Muslim bigotry.

At the heart of the discussion are questions about the religion of Islam itself and what impact this has on how Muslims think and act around the world.  How should the rest of the modern world view us, and what criticisms are (or aren’t) fair game, either for the religion or its adherents?

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks (TYT) recently conducted a three hour interview / discussion / debate with Sam Harris, asking him to either clarify misunderstandings or justify his positions on what has been accurately represented and criticized.  It’s rare to find an open, unmoderated discussion of this type where disagreement is respected and each party is happy to go back and forth on each point without the constraints of time.  The discussion lasted 3 hours and the post that follows are my own thoughts after having watched it.  It will not be a point-by-point discussion / response, simply my own thoughts on what I’ve seen online of this discussion and placing it context with the others.

Cenk Uygur and Sam Harris Discussion

To summarize, Harris believes at this point in our history, Islam more uniquely predisposes its adherents towards violence because there is a clear line between text to practice.  He calls the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) a conqueror, unlike Jesus (and strangely neglects Moses in this discussion), and cites the expansion of the Muslim empire under the doctrine of jihad as his evidence. Cenk Uygur is not the counterfoil stating “Islam means peace” or some other recycled feelgood sound byte.  He is himself a former Muslim, and an agnostic.  He agrees with Harris that Islam, the religion and its texts, contain many problematic ideas, ideas which caused him to leave the faith.  However, he disagrees with Harris that Islam and Muslims are in any way uniquely predisposed towards violence over all other faiths.  He instead argues that while the faith may act as a motivator for action, it is largely geo-political and cultural concerns which drive Muslim antipathy towards the West in some Muslim nations and peoples vs others.  He also argues that historically, Muslims have been more tolerant towards other faiths and have caused far less deaths than Christianity.  Elsewhere, Aslan has argued Harris is not an expert on religion, his readings of religious text are excessively literalist, and that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, that the reader determines the meaning of the text rather than the text having an unequivocal understanding, hence the overwhelmingly peaceful 1.6 billion Muslims who do not act as al-Qa’ida or ISIS does.

Thoughts on Sam Harris’s Positions

While I am a card-carrying conservative / fundamentalist Muslim myself, I find points I can agree on with Aslan and Uygur.  I do believe Harris’s lack of academic credentials, either from an Islamic seminary or from an accredited secular academic institution have caused him to read the sacred texts with as much insight and depth as any novice who reads and misunderstands because they lack the tools required for proper interpretation, which is why I can agree to an extent with the charge that they share the same interpretive framework as those who join al-Qaida and ISIS when discussing our faith’s position on military action.

Having said that, I don’t agree that it is simply the reader who gives meaning to the text and not the reverse.  For that matter, I don’t see that most Muslims even read the texts, perform an interpretation, and then carry on with their lives having interpreted “peace” from the verses of the Qur’an dealing with warfare.  I believe it’s fair to say many who work in the field of community spiritual development lament that few Muslims read the Qur’an except in Arabic, a language most don’t understand, and fewer still read the translation.  Many are happy to set the bar low and ask that they simply follow the basics such as praying 5 times daily.  I don’t believe the line between mass interpretation and peaceful daily living exists.

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Does that mean if everyone started reading the texts they would become violent?  Harris wants to argue that were people to follow the texts, they would have no choice but to do so.  In this point he is criticized for literalism, but I don’t believe literalism is the problem.  Even in literalism, multiple literal meanings and conclusions can be taken from a text.  What restricts us from taking any literal meaning is that the revelation of the Qur’an is inextricably tied to both the events that occurred during the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his explanation of those words, as well as the explanation of those closest to him, the Companions, and scholars who dealt with them.

In my view, Harris selectively recognizes this.  He points to “kill them where you find them”, but is forced to concede that these words were not followed literally, that Muslims didn’t do that, that they didn’t simply kill everyone who came in their path, be they Jew, Christian, or otherwise.  Where he fails, however, is in discussing when and why those verses were revealed.  He doesn’t discuss the prohibition on further aggression if hostilities cease, nor does he discuss that Makkah had attacked the nascent Madinan Muslim state on numerous occasions and broken treaties before its bloodless conquest by Prophet Muhammad’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) armies.  In general, he fails to properly juxtapose the Quranic text upon the backdrop of the Seerah and the Sunnah.  He’s certainly not the first to commit this error, nor will he be the last.

We can even find instances of this type of mistake, of interpreting without context, among the generation directly after the passing of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Consider the following narration from ‘Urwa, the nephew of Prophet Muhammad’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) wife ‘Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), discussing his interpretation of a verse with her, and her correction:

I asked ‘Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her), “How do you interpret the statement of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), ‘(The mountains) as-Safa and al-Marwa are among the symbols of God, and it is not harmful for the one performing Hajj or Umrah to do Tawaf between them‘.  By God, (clearly), there is no harm if one doesn’t perform tawaf between Safa and Marwa.”

‘Aisha replied, “My nephew, your interpretation isn’t true.  Had it been correct, Allah’s statement would have read, “It is not harmful for him if he doesn’t perform Tawaf between them.”  In reality, this was revealed concerning the Ansar who used to assume Ihram to worship an idol known as “Manat” which was worshiped in a place called al-Mushallal before they embraced Islam.  Whoever assumed Ihram (for the idol) would consider it incorrect to perform Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.

When they embraced Islam, they asked the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) about it, stating, “We used to refrain from Tawaf between Safa and Marwa.”  (Because of this), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) revealed, ‘(The mountains) as-Safa and al-Marwa are among the symbols of God.’ ”

Aisha then added, “Surely, the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) set the tradition of tawaf between safa and marwa, so nobody is allowed to omit the tawaf between them.”

Take a good look at where ‘Urwa is before ‘Aisha’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) explanation.  He reads the words as they are and comes to a conclusion regarding their meaning.  The problem ‘Urwa has isn’t one of literalism, but of contextualizing what drove the revelation.  The close contemporaries, of Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the Companions, are there to help clarify the meaning rather than allowing it to wander wherever our imagination takes us.  If Harris et al are sincere in their thoughts about “redeeming” Islam, then they first ought to read it correctly, to try and understand why so many Muslim scholars, academics, jurists, and experts worldwide of any number of stripes have condemned ISIS and others like them so forcefully.  If ISIS is so correct in their interpretation, what are the rest missing?

This is why Harris’s proposition, that one should be able to place the texts with a group of remote people who can read and interpret, makes absolutely no sense.  While we believe the message is perfect and complete, we make no assumptions about the perfection of those interpreting.  We expect human factors can cause mistakes, some small and some very large, and the more divorced one is from formal study, the more likely they are to hold strange views that don’t reconcile with the rest of the Muslim scholarly community.  Because of such human factors, we also expect that even if a people had all the information they needed, they would still make mistakes, fall into war, possibly implement part of all of the message at their convenience, or neglect parts of it out of personal weakness.

This is a good point to mention our ideal expectation of textual interpretation – while it is very true we expect difference among qualified interpreters, starting with the Companions themselves, we also expect underlying the attempt is a best effort to provide the Creator’s intended meaning, whether or not we find it socially or politically convenient.  Many of us do not view the texts and sciences of interpretation as a vehicle to subvert intended meanings and practices, but as a best effort attempt to reach the truth, bearing in mind mistakes can be made and those mistakes are forgiven provided the intention of the qualified interpreter was truth seeking and teaching.  Note that I am highlighting the word “qualified” (i.e. trained) repeatedly because we have an unfortunate boom in interpretation from unqualified individuals providing fatwa, among them those in ISIS and al-Qaida, as well as the Sam Harrises of the world.

Thoughts on Missing Voices

Perhaps what is most unsettling about these discussions for many Muslims isn’t that they are occurring, but that we lack representation from standard, practicing, classically trained Muslim leaders.  While I appreciate the support we get from both Cenk Uygur or Reza Aslan, the message then becomes that moderate Islam is essentially leaving it altogether and simply affiliating with the community by name, but not belief or socially frowned upon practices, that the texts are man-made, imperfect, and quite possibly irrelevant for modernity.

It’s not easy sitting through Uygur stating “Islam sucks” or its texts suck and that’s why he left the faith.  Granted, he was raised in a school system that taught secularism in military fashion, but ultimately “Islam isn’t worse than all other faiths, it’s equally as bad, so don’t discriminate” should be a non-starter, yet there it is because the bar is so low.  Likewise with Aslan’s thoughts on religion as simply being man-made, that it is all language or metaphors, or that it is malleable, moves the discussion in the direction many would be uncomfortable with, that being to subvert or ignore texts at one’s convenience.  I am in agreement with Aslan that we should acknowledge groups like ISIS / ISIL / Da’eesh are Muslims, but we should also be able to decisively demonstrate utter misinterpretation, referencing past and present religious scholarship in the same manner ‘Abdullah ibn Abbas was able to successfully argue with and convince a large number of khawarij that their own interpretations were wrong.

I realize the problem inherent in making this request.  In doing so, you’ll have to wade into a number of politically difficult discussions.  You will be forced to discuss matters found in the texts that are not simply about modern interpretation, but classic interpretation as well.  You will be forced to answer both  correctly in terms of content as well as in a style of delivery that conveys the correctness of the point. However, if those trained keep quiet, then the questions will be raised, and while the Reza Aslans and Cenk Uygurs will be able to deflect the human element side of the argument, they like others will not be able to answer for the texts and the actions that came with those texts, and why.  I realize there is fear for many conservative Muslim leaders to come out and speak for fear of government persecution, but so be it, as inheritors of the Prophets, you take not only the knowledge, but the responsibility of it and the consequences of delivery, something all Prophets did, so I suggest you make your peace with it and get out there – the community needs you.

Conclusion

Have you watched the debates and discussions about Islam and religious violence?  What are your own thoughts about these discussions?

57 / View Comments

57 responses to “Neo-Atheism Attacks: Thoughts on Cenk Uygur / Sam Harris Discussion on Religious Violence in Islam”

  1. John Howard says:

    There is one over riding question all non muslims ask of their muslim neighbours Where is your loyalty – to your country or your religion That is the greatest cause of distrust among non muslims Your arguments re the interpretation of your religion are semantics in our eyes. As a Briton I may not agree or support all of what our government does say or do If I disagree enough I will vote against it at the next election But my country is my country and it represents what I love and admire despite its warts If I found that the majority of our people are against my beliefs I would a find one to move to that is But because I care about my fellow countrymen I would no more kill or commit crimes against them than kill my wife. Every day we see muslims that do You can black ball me on this but until you understand where we stand you cannot expect us to understand you

    • Hi John, I largely agree with you. I disagree with many of the policies of the US government vocally, but I don’t believe the appropriate escalation is in taking the lives of innocents because they’re voters or some other such nonsensical leap of logic. I believe the appropriate way to effect change is to work using lawful means to argue in favor of your positions / interests in the marketplace of ideas, to develop influence to move your agenda (though I would add it should be in a principled manner, not an anything goes at any cost manner, which some might consider naive, but so be it), and to otherwise be a positive, productive contributing member of society.

    • Sophie says:

      What does this mean? Everyday there are heinous crimes committed by Americans against fellow Americans, by Britons against fellow Britons, some for ‘personal’ reasons and some for other reasons. Do you ask those people with whom their loyalties lie? Your question presupposes the guilt of all Muslims and Islam, until proven otherwise, that they are willing to murder / inflict harm on anyone other than Muslims for some unjust/fanatical reason. And there is your problem. I feel bad that you don’t know any Muslims personally and have not experienced any kindness from them. One of the central guiding philosophies for Muslims is to be kind to neighbors, friends, others with whom you are in contact (co-workers, etc.), and to be solicitous of them. There are countless stories I could recount to you from the life of the Prophet, where he demonstrated this in his own behavior. He displayed forebearance to those who singled him out for personal abuse, including a Jewish woman in Medina who used to hurl verbal and physical abuse on him every time he walked past her house. When one day she wasn’t there, he inquired after her and found out she was ill. He visited her, as Muslims are taught to do with the ill. And you should know that we are not taught to be nice to people only if they’re Muslim. We recognize universal dignity and the rights of others over us, whether they are Muslim or not. It would not be the world religion that it is if it didn’t impart dignity to those who decide to follow it, and to the non-believers who follow it. But Muslims can be less than perfect. Just like everyone else.

      • Sophie says:

        Correction: non-believer who *encounter* it (not ‘follow’)

      • John Howard says:

        You miss the entire premise of my argument Where does the loyalty of a Muslim lie? That is the question that so many of us “infidels” ask. There are more Muslims from Britain currently fighting for ISIS than there are in the British Army. Many of these are British born and educated but their extremes are there. The murder of Lee Rigby here and the 2 Canadian soldiers last week, the attack and murder of French Jews etc are all attacks by Muslims on their fellow citizens in their own countries and whether you accept it or not is done in the name of Islam. I read everything on this site to gain a better understanding of your religion. I will never be a Muslim but I do know many muslims through work and other avenues. Many are not “true” Muslims in your sense . They like a drink and a joke at the pub with the rest of us. Many are very decent but in every case I have seen that when it comes time to marry they go back mainly to Pakistan to find a “real” wife. One candidly stated after a couple of drinks too many that western women are great for sex and that was all. Not only was that horribly sexist and demeaning to the girls who had taken him at face value it reinforced for many of us that Muslims regard we in the west as inferior. The fact that this particular specimen had come here as a refugee and gained his education position and living through the generosity of we “inferior” westerners escaped his attention. That particular specimen has done much to make many of his former friends distrust him and your religion. He is not a terrorist but he does reflect what is perceived to be what Muslims think. Couple this with the number of Muslim pedophile gangs that have been jailed over the last few years begs the question why should we take you at face value? You can say that he and those rapists are not true Muslims but that frankly is a cop out that is very convenient. Your religion has many fine aspects but do not hide behind those and claim that because non Muslims do it as well then Islam is not to blame. Too many atrocities have been committed in the name of Islam and pathetically against fellow Muslims. In other words “Don’t shoot the messenger” Remember here in the west you are a minority and your existence among us is through our generosity and belief in our core values of freedom and tolerance and the right to expect loyalty and support from ALL our citizens.

      • Sal says:

        Our loyalties lie predominantly with our religion, and then our countries. You have some points, but you neglect to mention your own countries hand in making them do what they do. Britain is famous for having done what they did, creating major problems and issues therein. Do you really expect no backlash because of it?

        Many of us, our hearts bleeds for our brothers and sisters who suffer the injustices in the middle east, and then we find our own country that we love so much on the forefront of causing these issues. I’m sorry that we find it hard to be loyal to a country that is itself not loyal to the high standards it says that it stands for.

        Here’s your answer, then. We try to be as loyal as we can be, but it’s hard for that relationship to actually work if it’s so one-sided in nature.

    • Rashad says:

      You say atrocities committed in the name in the name of Islam. You also state things done by people with muslims names. All of a sudden people with muslims names are the only people on this planet? Crimes are not done by anyone else right?

      • John Howard says:

        Where have I mentioned people with muslim names I suggest you read my missive again

      • Leo says:

        The real problem is not Islam, nor is it Religion. The real problem is Passion that is not kept within due bounds and that Passion is a temptation of Satan. Today the devil works through the likes of ISIS for Allah is perfect balance in all things and only the devil work throughs extremes. The real Jihad is fought in the heart and in the minds of the faithful against the temptations of the devil and not on sand.

    • GregAbdul says:

      John you are wrong. I don’t have to decide my loyalty to my country. This is the very opposite of Western ideas. As a Western person, I get to decide how loyal I am to my country. It’s my country because I am born here. You don’t get to tell me “love it or leave it.” That is racist. I don’t have to put my religion below my national government. I have to abide by the laws of my country, but part of my country’s greatness is that I am free to express myself as long as I don’t break any laws. Barack Obama is hated by many white Americans and they make their hate perfectly clear and obvious and no one is asking them to move. No one is going anywhere. In American jurisprudence, you are innocent until proven guilty and I certainly am not going to prove my “loyalty” to you. In Christianity and in civilization generally are concepts called the golden rule and love your neighbor, these are rules I would ask you to apply to yourself. I would ask you see the racism in your post. My religion is none of your business…unless you want me to teach you. My prayers give you no special right to demand I pass some loyalty test you make up in your head.

      • John Howard says:

        Again where have I told you to leave it if you don’t love it I stated very clearly that if I was in the minority the I would make the decision to leave. It appears that you have a guilty conscience. I also made the comment that if i disagreed with the Government of the time I can and would vote against it. And by the way I have found that many people who start banding around the term racism it is because they can’t find another reason to argue against the arguement and so seek to close it down by calling the other a racist. It is a cowardly argument to use. You don’t have to prove your loyalty to me but you do to your society by your actions. And finally let me explain very clearly to you that your religion is not a race and so questioning you about religion has nothing to do with race or colour. Again your use of racism as a means to question my actions is the sign of a racist and a coward

      • GregAbdul says:

        if you are engaged in a racist argument, I simply am not the person not to say it…because you don’t want it said…you clearly imply, someone else (Muslims)ncan leave your country if they are not “loyal” like you. That’s a racisit argument. “If you are not the majority….” Minorities can (excuse my French) get the hell out? No one is going anywhere. Your implication is racist. Simply drop the line…or continue down its racist path. Don’t expect me not to call you on it, especially if you insist. I asked…my Christian family would not welcome a bar-hopping girl. I moved on and asked you about the behavior you see and complain about in the Pakistani men at the bar. Would you or your family welcome a loose bar-hopping girl? Do Pakistani men have some special obligation to pick up loose white girls in the UK?

      • GregAbdul says:

        mr john please forgive me. I have studied MLK probably more than Muslim manners so the fault is mines. I ask another question: There are people in the UK, who YOUR government invited in, then given them resident status and watched for any misbehavior to send them out, and after the period passed, YOUR government has given most of those people naturalized citizenship. In the law, they are every bit as much citizens of the UK as you are. In fact, I am like you. We get to be as stupid as we want and there is no place to send us to. In America, people like our author Mr. Muhammad here, are more educated and make more money than typical Americans. So maybe I am wrong. I come close to cursing or I curse on a Muslim-run website. But I ask you, when YOUR government declares these people are every bit as much citizens of the UK as you are, isn’t it disloyal and un-British of you to invite people to leave? Aren’t you assuming a native jingoistic attitude that says you have more rights and that you get to give certain foreign religious people in your country some special test (loyalty) that YOUR government say are blatantly illegal? Aren’t you being disloyal to your country when you come to a Muslim website and implicitly invite people to get out of “your country”? Excuse me for being rude. I just want you to explain why your inquisitions have replaced the polices of YOUR national government.

        May Allah forgive me…on Jumah!

    • GregAbdul says:

      mr. john there is no comment button below, and I want to address a really good point you make. You say, these Pakistani guys go into bars and drink and pick up white girls and sleep with them, but have no intention of marrying them. Isn’t that typical Western behavior? I am a convert. I know, if I took a girl to see my mom, the first thing she would ask is where we met and if I told her I picked the girl up at a bar, she would never respect that girl. Is this really strange? That men and our families look down on women who frequent bars and see them sex objects only? When you have women who dress in skimpy clothing and go out and get drunk on a regular basis, is that what your son should bring home to you? The Pakistani men are wrong for being in the bar. You are pointing out their hypocrisy, but God will punish them. It’s called cognitive dissonance and karma is a mother. As far as true Islam, that’s personal. In a free country, my religion is not subject to your approval. I want to add this applies for naturalized citizens and any person residing in the UK. You don’t get to suspend the Magna Carta for Muslims. If a Muslim breaks the law, then you should to see who rushes to aid him in his wrong. Regardless of religion, that is your opposition, taking into account that every Western person charged with a crime is entitled to a vigorous defense.

      • John Howard says:

        Your mother I suggest has no more right to judge a woman her son brings home from a bar than the mother of the woman who has picked a man from a bar. Both are the same If the woman is a slut in your mother’s eyes then the same applies regarding the character of the son. Personally I find the argument ridiculous anyway. Many very good relationships have started in similar places. What a girl wishes to wear is her right and is not the man’s decision. You mentioned the Magna Carta a fundamental tenet of western rights, The same protection you demand of it aopplies to that girl regardless of what she wears as well. The fact i that what is now occurring in the west is the fear of not offending Muslims. We have seen in the Rotherham rapes here in the UK where over 1400 girls were attacked over a number of years by Muslim men the situation where the authorities were frightened of acting on these attacks because they were frightened of being seen as racists. In fact any number of Muslim leaders kept saying it was racist to call out the Muslim community on what happened. In the end it was a Muslim Councillor who started asking questions that revealed just how bad it really was. The laws of the UK as in the US protect all citizens but there has been many situations over here where the law or the police have turned away from some of the more radical demonstrations by Muslims. To see signs on our television from muslims demanding death for those who question Islam is an afront to us as much as it would be if the same was voiced about Muslims. The burning of poppies a very strong symbol of our armed forces by muslims was tantamount in many of westerners’ eyes as the burning of a quaran is to Muslims. We have not suspended the rights of Muslims too fair trials in the UK and nor have the general population acted in a way to kill or murder Mulims who are fellow ciizens even after the mass murder of UK citizens after 7/7. The same cannot be said in many Muslim countries. You well know that here in the west that you have far more freedom than any Muslim country will ever allow you and unlike many Muslim countries you have rights the same that every other citizan has and that definately does not happen for minorities in Muslim lands

      • GregAbdul says:

        My Mamma? You didn’t answer me. Can your son bring home a bar girl? You are really sitting there and going to lie on British Christians? When Prince Wiliiam decided to bring his fiancé Catherine to introduce her to his grandmother, you really think he met her in a bar? I know Brits say the royals are special, but I thought a part of that was that they are exemplary. Why are you insulted? I am past trading insults and asking you simple questions. I am an ex-Christian. Guys with sense don’t marry bar girls. I am not making this up to fight with you. Why are you denying simple truths? Please calm down. Let us reason. I never said there is a special dress code for women. I said you are engaged in prejudiced behavior. I asked you if this behavior you are engaged in, that is contrary to the polices of your national government, mean you are disloyal. That was my question. Never did I say I have the right to tell any woman what to wear. You are here inviting people out of “your country.” Why are you running from what I ask? If your argument is that somehow Muslims are breaking the law and getting preferential treatment from the police, then that is white Christian corruption isn’t it? Are the police who you claim look the other way…are they Muslims? So I am totally with you. Those corrupt white Christian police officers should not bend the law and not enforce it for selective groups. But that doesn’t quite sound like a strictly Muslim problem. I am pretty sure that murder and rape exists in the UK before Muslim immigration. Or am I irritating you again and saying things that upset you? I only ask you treat Muslims as individuals, which you seem to have a problem doing in this comments thread. I am sure there are Muslims who serve in the military and the police departments in the UK. History tells us who contributed what, but to take individuals in our ethnic and racial groups and claim their good as ours sometimes is not a good thing. Especially when we feel it absolves us from making our own contributions. No one here has said anything about demanding a dress code for women or cooperating with corrupt police officers. Please address this excellent article…or better yet, address the questions I actually asked you. Are you in charge of immigration that you get to decide who belongs in the UK? Why are you lying and denying that it is common practice the world over not to marry women who hang out in bars? Please let us not wander. Let’s be friends. I speak English and so do you and I am asking simple questions. Racist reports about the evils of those foreigners won’t go far with me…unless your only purpose is insult. I love dialogue. Can you admit it is wrong for any white Westerner to deny someone their rights under your nation Constitution because you don’t like their prayers? Isn’t a basic simple Western principle the right to pray the way I want in the privacy of my home or office without your judgement or approval? Sorry. I think the last two are obvious. Can you tell me why you deny that men try not to marry barflies?

      • John Howard says:

        Again the comment that if a woman goes into a bar then she obviously a person of low morals is just plainly ridiculous. I met my wife in a hotel and we have had a very happy marriage for many years now. Not only has she shown herself to be a wonderful mother and wife friend and dare I say lover she has percevered with her in laws. Fortunately my mother judged my wife on her manners and treatment of others. In my culture those are far more important than the fact that she may drink. I would hope your culture and I am sure it does judges those atributes of great importance as well. There is a Christian saying that says “Let he who has no sin throw the first stone” . if your mother had trouble with that then I suggest that is her problem. The comment about what women wear and do again is an attack on our western culture, many Muslims take great umbrage at the attacks on their women’s dress whch is rightly regarded as wrong. If Muslim men are tempted to attack or consort with western women then perhaps your community should have them sedated to reduce their primitive sexual urges.? A facetious remark you may say but no more than the comment that women who dress how they do and drink makes them o low character. I suggest that our women will continue to act and do what they want get used to i because that is what freedo is all about. If it offends close your eyes but look out for walking into lamp posts!

      • MuFu says:

        ”That men and our families look down on women who frequent bars and see them sex objects only?”

        Let me pick up on that. I want to going into an argue on exactly that point and I hope I dont offend anyone in the following sentences, if so, I didnt mean to.

        To the point of womans and being ”sexobjects”:
        Let me ask you, why do or should womans wear a burka?
        Isnt that sexist? The intention of it, at least part of it, is to not attract other mens, right? With partly such a reasoning behind that who is the one being sexist? Isnt that basicly saying ”Cover your body to not be seen as a sexobject?” They are, in my opinion, reduced on their bodys in that reasoning.
        Dont you agree when, staying ”over” a woman by for example the ”right” to not let a wife leave the house, they are made an ”object”?

        Again, I am not want to offend, I want an logical argument.

    • Abdullah says:

      My thoughts exactly on Uygur/Aslan. Thank you! Enough dancing around the argument that Islam is a peaceful doctrine.

    • H says:

      Hi John,

      I too live in Britain. For me personally the loyalty is always with God for he is the one who provides all sustenance. With respect to your opinion, I also believe that it makes more sense to be loyal to a religion over country; if I were to move to another land and gain citizenship there, nothing much would change about me, as it is my religion that is the biggest influence on my life. I suppose that’s the logic that isn’t being understand on the side of non-muslims. So then it seems to be a mutual problem of understanding. Either way. I see no problem in being loyal to religion; in my whole life in Britain, my loyalty to my faith has never caused me to do anything unlawful or illegal. I can happily say that I am a practicing Muslim and a law abiding British citizen.

      May God bless you and I both.

      • John Howard says:

        I have read from many muslims that they are loyal to their religion over the country that has educated housed and protected them As you stated you are a law abiding citizen but if you have no loyalty to the country then what happens when that country acts in a manner your religion may not approve of. Do you act in the manner that the 2 who murdered Lee Rigby or the way those 2 did in Canada ? To be a British, US Australian or where ever citizen demands loyalty to that nation. You cannot take all that it has to offer but reject its core values. Our society to exist needs cohesion from all parts of it and that is a loyalty. Will you report a fellow muslim if he lets you know he intends to commit terrorism. If he is a good practicing Muslim then where do your loyalties lie then?

      • M. Mahmud says:

        “You cannot take all that it has to offer but reject its core values.”

        We absolutely can. Being a citizen and enjoying higher quality of life doesn’t mean we have to accept your core values.

        “Will you report a fellow muslim if he lets you know he intends to commit terrorism. If he is a good practicing Muslim then where do your loyalties lie then?”
        I would report him to the cops because of my religion. We are under a covenant if we are citizens of the state. So I wouldn’t join the army against Muslims, but I also couldn’t partake in any terrorist attack.

        • John Howard says:

          You will never be able to hold a position in government or have the right to decide what is happening politically in any country you live in unless it is a Muslim country because you can never be trusted to support that country as you have no loyalty to it. It doesn’t make you a terrorist but you will never be seen as a native of that land even if born there You will always be an outsider and that is where the trust ends. You have committed yourself to accept the fact that you cannot change what that country does in respect to Muslims either You will live with the knowledge that any positive change for your community will only beat the generosity of your hosts. You have made yourself to be an underclass regardless of how educated or wealthy you are. It appears that Mislims will always be victims in the west because of this stance. As I said it doesn’t make you a terrorist or even a supporter as such but it makes you an outsider looking in.

    • Yasin says:

      John, with all due respect, I don’t think your question of loyalty is reasonable. You present ‘country’ and ‘religion’ like they are two mutually exclusive categories. Asking questions of loyalty might be appropriate for those holding dual citizenship, but between country and religion makes little sense as it begs the question of why I can’t be fully loyal to country and fully loyal to religion. What is the contradiction between being a British/ American citizen and being Muslim? One is a faith and the other a nation state. I’m from a family of about 300 people who migrated to the UK from about the early 1980s. Not a single one of us, not a single one of my family has been in trouble with the law. Not a single one. We are proud British Muslims and have done more for this country then many of the native countrymen. Why are you pressing us to choose loyalty? Just because a couple of fanatics commit crimes! Just because some fanatics fly off to join a barbaric terrorist group. Where is your sense of balance?

      Now, of course there are some areas where the view of the religion might differ from the view of the state (i.e. the permissibility of gay marriage), but what is to follow in this fact. Am I as a Muslim to abandon my religious view of the matter and submit to the position of the state? This is implied in your statement: “If I found that the majority of our people are against my beliefs I would a find one to move to that is”. You would give up your beliefs because the majority is against it. Tell me how this doesn’t negate basic human rights. Tell me how this isn’t driving towards totalitarianism. Do I not have the right to say that I am opposite to gay Marriage? As long as I am not harming gay people by speech or action, am I not entitled to this belief as are the christian organizations that were most vocally opposed to it?

      • John Howard says:

        The democratic state is the people and yes you do have to submit to the state. By that I mean the laws and the expectations that are of this country. You and your family came to the UK under the covenant that you would abide by all the laws that we have and uphold. I have no argument against you if as you say you are obeying those laws. But as I have said in another reply previously if by chance one of your family or friends told you that he or she was going to a 7/7 attack here in the UK would you inform the authorities? That is the mark of loyalty and allegiance that you owe this country that has given you freedom and security and the opportunities that you would never have got in your country of origin especially I suspect as a woman. I am sure that you have contributed a lot to this country than a lot of it inhabitants but to balance that just remember that many of your country men and women are just as bad as the locals and we support them as well. Remember also there are more Muslims in prison than their % of population would expect to be. So Muslims are not all devout pious law abiding immigrants here.
        Those few fanatics have killed some number of Britons here in this country and I might say far more than Britons have murdered Muslims here. The fact is that more British Muslims fight for ISIS than serve in the British Armed Forces and more British Muslims believe in that foul regime than we would like to believe. Loyalty is expected in a country from all citizens They don’t have to agree with what its Government decrees but you as a citizen have a right to vote that government out of office but as some of your fellow coreligionists have tried don’t have the right to kill your fellow citizens. The rule of law is what makes Britain safe It’s tolerance is what us great and you have been the beneficiary of both

      • Razan says:

        John Howard,

        If your question is basically ‘will Muslims attack their fellow citizens if something against their religion occurs in the nation’, then the answer is a flat no. That is not part of the rules of Islam nor will it ever be. If you’re wondering whether Muslims think that actions such as that of the 7/7 bombers are ‘part of their religion’ and must be secretly supported against the authorities, then this is utter tosh. Muslims are in fact the ones who have to keep a most vigilant watch against such fanatical extremists.

        As for Muslims who ‘go to bars’ – such behavior is flatly forbidden in Islam, and you’re right to be disgusted with the often two-faced nature of these people. If you disagree with Islamic attitudes towards drinking etc, well, to you your way, to me mine. Have a nice day.

    • Manna says:

      Have you asked the Jews where their loyalties lie? With the current country or birth/residence or with Israel? Please do ask, and let us know because for many of them in the US… their loyalty is clearly with the US… using powerful lobby groups to make sure Israel gets the best of things using American funds.

      • Manna says:

        Meant “cleary NOT with the US” as the rest of my words indicate.

      • John Howard says:

        I have asked the very same question of Jewish people here in the UK. Many of them particularly the elderly have a huge love for my country because when the Nazis were murdering their families it was countries like the UK and the US who gave them sanctuary. May have become soldiers and politicians within our society and statesmen. They are very loyal to this country. I don’t know any of the ultra conservative Jews to ask so I won’t answer for them but as for the rest – yes they do have affection for Israel but many also criticize some that state’s actions and are among its harshest critics. Would Muslims do the same I wonder? I don’t agree with what all the Israelis have done but I can understand their desire to be safe. The attacks on Jewish people here in the UK and Europe are far exceeding what is happening to Muslims. Until I see Jewish people blowing up or murdering my countrymen I will hold a view that they are still very good citizens of this nation.

  2. Waleed Ahmed says:

    You watched the full 3-hours? What would you say are the main argument Harris is making – anything more than what’ve see on the talk shows or is he just recycling it.

  3. I really enjoyed this Article. You touched upon great points. It’s very nice to see the perspective of a real, well educated, practicing Sunni Muslim on this topic. With all these debates in the Media about what Islam means and how it is connected to violence today, I have yet to see a real scholar brought on one of these programs to set these people straight.

  4. Desert Rose says:

    “Perhaps what is most unsettling about these discussions for many Muslims isn’t that they are occurring, but that we lack representation from standard, practicing, classically trained Muslim leaders.”

    Yes, perhaps that’s the most troubling aspect of this whole debate. My own thoughts on this is that there is a complete disconnect between highly trained Islamic scholars, theologian, historians and a person that makes it as a guest on shows such as Bill Maher’s or CNN, MSNBC and other media outlets. And at times when we have had a trained Islamic experts discuss these matters, I have to say, I have been less than impressed by their performance. This is not because they lacked the proper understanding of the subject matter and the issues, but because they weren’t able to deliver it in a style or a manner that would hit home with the audience. This is also understandable, because a person who dedicates his/her life to Islamic studies do not possess the same TV charisma or magnetic, hip, personality that you would normally see in a person such as Reza Aslan, Cenk Ugur or even Bill Maher and Sam Harris. As a result we have very unqualified, yet hip and magnetic TV personalities discussing these pressing topics while the rest of us are pulling out our hair while watching. I don’t know what the solution is to this problem. Log, detailed, academic articles that touch the relevant historical implications and deep theological explanations of religious texts are no longer fashionable to understanding today’s conflicts and issues. What’s fashionable is to make loud, generalized, simple to understand controversial at times racist, xenophobic, bigoted statements and hedge oneself from any type of criticism or backlash by saying something along the lines “political correctness is destroying America.”

  5. GregAbdul says:

    As salaam alaikum,

    I largely agree with you. The points you raise change the discussion to who is allowed to sit at the table when it is time to discuss what Islam is and what it teaches Muslims. Women who wear the hijab are banned from women and feminists discussions in the West and Muslim scholars, men and women are denied a seat at the table when it is time to discuss Islam. Excuse me, the black American culture is now coming out in this Muslim.
    Prejudice is everywhere. Part of our work as a civilization and a world community, Muslim and non-Muslim, is to work to end this stupid stereotyping that constantly seeks to deny human individuality. I have spent much of my life studying the Civil Rights Movement. If we are honest and we look at the forces that really threaten world stability, the first is rising inequality in the first world. We expect places like India and Russia to have oligarchies and concentrated centers of wealth surrounded by poverty.
    What has traditionally made the Europe and America a magnet for the best people from all over the world is the idea that everyone gets a fair shot and that only utter failure would place you in poverty. At present, these ideas are going away and our fates as Westerners more and more everyday is becoming a matter of what our parents own as opposed to our human potential. Millions of Westerners are falling out of the middle class and this is not because al Qaeda or Da’eesh are terrorizing the middle class.
    America’s greatest enemies today are those who are in the 1%, who refuse to see the benefits of spreading the wealth. The main technique they use to fight increasing wages and benefits for the 99% is to argue that there are bunches of underserving faux Westerners, waiting at the gates to take over if we get the chance. In other words, most of these discussing are basically scapegoating and red herrings to stop us from dealing with our real problems as Western peoples.
    I would end by saying that brother Siraj you are right about QUALIFIED but any conversation we humans undertake always has super heavy cultural signifiers. So it is not simply that we have an Imam versed in the Quran and the Sunnah. The one who goes in front of the camera or the journalist must also thoroughly know America, the West and how to signify an authenticity that shows an immersion in the local Western culture.
    Their real argument is that we are barbaric foreigners or we are imitating barbaric foreigners; that we are not true Westerners because we don’t drink alcohol and chase women at bars. Imams born and raised in the West are the ones who should speak in Western forums on Islam. Off the top, I always like to mention Imams Suhail Webb and Yahya Ederer. There are many more. When we see our Western Imams sitting at the table, the crazy things won’t even be said. Right now the media is engaged in a sort of censorship (it always is) and this is what they do when they want to deny a certain group its humanity. Hence, the only Muslims they really want to talk to or to expose are people like Professor Aslan. An intelligent, articulate hijabi sitting at the table ruins their narrative of the voiceless and oppressed Muslim woman. Yet they are the very ones who at this day and time refuse to listen.

  6. Ahmed says:

    Good article. Part of the problem is that the media (due to the nature of the medium, mostly) is not equipped to handle thorough explanations by classically trained scholars on a lot of issues. That is because a lot of issues are nuanced, complex.

    On shows like Bill Maher, there’s no space for critical thinking and extended arguments. We want quick, flowery sound-bytes! “Ohhh, Islam means peace, thats great!!” “Wait, Islamic State kills people?! That sounds bad! Islam must be bad!”. And the most ominously dangerous of all, “Muslims are normal people like us, its their religion thats just backwards… like all religions!”

    You need classically trained scholars who have a “stage presence.” Not bookish types. The bookish types have an important role, some might even argue the most crucial role, but not in front of the savagery of the camera.

    • M. Mahmud says:

      All fingers up for your comment especially the last part;

      “You need classically trained scholars who have a “stage presence.” Not bookish types. The bookish types have an important role, some might even argue the most crucial role, but not in front of the savagery of the camera.”

      I would argue, we are embarrassing ourselves by our pathetic self representation.From issues like Western wars to Israel/Palestine to Islam vs. liberalism. We need to plan ahead before having our speakers speak in public and we need to have the most qualified to do it. We need to drill them on precisely how to respond and when.

  7. Ismail says:

    This John Howard bloke sure has a lot of time on his hands. Every Muslim-run website with a comments section that I visited has this guy popping up and making the same, tired old arguments as if on an infinite loop. I suspect he is a pensioner.

    • John Howard says:

      There are a couple of us actually It is a well known name And no am not a pensioneer I have my own business thank you very much

      • Yasin says:

        John, Can you tell me what a perfect Muslim is? What kind of Muslim can you tolerate? What kind of Muslim can you look at in the street and no drown in suspicion over his/her loyalty? Tell me because for the life of me, no Muslim seems good enough.

        You jump from subject to subject. We get it. There is a rule of law and citizens, Muslim or otherwise, have to follow the rule of law and be loyal? In the case of Muslims, this has been proven time and time again by research polls conducted by academics. Why don’t you look at the research done by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Essex supported by 11 Government departments and administrations? This report showed that:

        • 83% of Muslims are proud to be a British citizen, compared to 79% of the general public.
        • 77% of Muslims strongly identify with Britain while only 50% of the wider population do.
        • 86.4% of Muslims feel they belong in Britain, slightly more than the 85.9% of Christians.
        • 82% of Muslims want to live in diverse and mixed neighbourhoods compared to 63% of non-Muslim Britons.

        But, of course, for you John, none of these government supported and academically conducted research statistics means anything. One crazy Muslim commits a crime and all these facts and statistics by polling agencies and academics in respected universities are all out the window. The question mark hovers over all our heads once again?

    • Ron says:

      And your issue with Pensioners is?

  8. Hyde says:

    Harris, Uygur, Aslan & Maher sitting in a tree, ki….wow what an amazing life that in it I see these people discussing, maligning/defending what I believe to be a way of life. When hence in Islamic History has this sort of attack been so redoubled and exacting ? That no legitimate Muslim, no scholar, no imam, is allowed a word ?

    In a way I feel pessimistically malcontent ed to see that this is indeed happening, that the last three decades of surfeit liberal education has resulted in this; that Muslims are left incapable and irresponsible to even defend their own faith.

    The likes of Harris will win at the end in this dunya.

  9. John Howard says:

    Yasin Your figures sound amazing and I have had them quoted to me before, frankly there are statistics statistics and damn lies and these could be considered under those as well. Because if they are not why is it that another survey has found that over 40% of muslims in Britain want shariah law as their primary law and 20% felt sympathy for the 7/7 bombers. The Swedish/Algerian journalist Yahya Abu Zakariya made the statement that over 80% of muslims in the UK and Europe are on welfare. He is a man that is not known for western sympathies. Also more muslims are currently fighting for ISIS rhan serving in the British Army. Citizenship it appears to be for Muslims in the UK purely something useful to use and abuse Yes they may claim they are British and you say more Btitish than the locals well as a certain infamous lady of the night once said “They would say that wouldn’t they” especially when the gravy train is so sweet and worthwhile. By my statistic that I have found perhaps the rule of give and take is weighed very heavily on the take side. Also remember this you have got far more out of coming to the UK than what ever you may have brought with you.
    And Yasmin these murderers and the like are always “crazy” and so can;t be classed as “real” muslims can they? But going by the poll on the 7/7 bombers 20% of Muslims must be crazy as well – that’s a very high statistic for mental health problem among Muslims isn’t it.
    So Yasmin what is your ideal British Muslim citizen – One who is on benefits (remember the 80% ) supports shariah law (40%) sympatheic to terrorism (20%) and also vastly under represented in the area of defense and police and somehow over 80% loyal to Britain
    Please explain because I can’t make any sense of where Muslims loyalties lie and how much is truth and how much is Taquia (unsure of spelling)

    • I think the quote you’re looking for popularized by Twain was, “There are 3 kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

      Very appropriate, considering you’re misrepresenting the Daily Telegraph polling data by suggesting 20% of Muslims supported the 7/7 bombers. The DT states that 20% of Muslims “have sympathy with their feelings and motives”, meaning, they may share the same grievances as the 7/7 bombers, but they certainly don’t believe in creating change the way they did. We know this because in the same article, it is noted that “99% thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.” Why didn’t you quote that as well?

      As for charges of Taqiyya, there is a reason the principle “innocent until proven guilty” is recognized for each individual where ever one goes. It’s not for us to prove we aren’t lying – it’s for you to prove with undeniable evidence that each Muslim living on your soil is collaborating to cause harm. You never ever take the wrongful behavior that is found with some minor level of statistical relevance and condemn the whole group as a result.

      I can reverse this on you. I see that you belong to the category known as “male”. In Great Britain, over 400,000 women are sexually assaulted yearly. That’s almost 1100 a day, 45 – 46 per hour, or one every 80 seconds. Can you please prove to me you’re not planning to commit some type of sexual violence against a woman or child at some point in your life? Caucasions tend to be responsible for 70% of reported crimes.

      Siraaj

    • Yasin says:

      John,

      I think this comment of yours just shows how much of your reasoning is guided by evidence and logic and how much is guided by blind hate. A university based academic research supported by 11 government departments which surveyed 40,000 people in the UK means nothing, but an internet based YouGov poll of a just over 500 people is accurate and representative of all 3 million Muslims in the UK. Are the two stats comparable John? To make matters worse, you don’t seem to understand what a contradiction is. How is a poll which I cited ( 83% of Muslims are pound to be British; 77% strongly identify with Britain; and, 86.4% feel a sense of belonging to Britain) contradicted by 40% of 526 Muslim wanting Shari’a or the 20% of 526 Muslims felt sympathy for the feeling and motives that caused 7/7. How is that a contradiction? For me a contradiction would have been another poll which showed that, say, only 20% of Muslims are pound to be British; 15% strongly identify with Britain; and, 8.4% feel a sense of belonging to Britain). That is a contradiction.

      But, even when pointing citing polls, you choose to cite only things which are negative. As pointed out by Siraaj, you forgot to include the other stat which revealed that that 99% of the 526 Muslims opposed the 7/7 act. 20% sympathised, meaning they appreciated the reason that drove the men carry out the crime, but that far removed from actually approving it. Why did you ignore that stat? Because it doesn’t fit your hardened view. You either ignore the facts or hide the facts and when neither hiding nor ignoring works, you accuse the Muslims of taqiyyah. Is there any point of a discussion with you?

      Also, according to you, that ‘statement’ by a Swedish journalist is also accurate because you want it to be accurate. Did you verify it? Did you bother looking at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) statistics? No, because it doesn’t support that ‘statement’. Why? Because no DWP statistics are available on the prevalence of welfare among religious groups in the UK. Nothing! As for Welfare, what you and other right winger don’t seem to know is that ‘welfare’ is an umbrella terms that include state pension, disability living allowance, maternity pay, carers allowance, TV license for the over 75’s, financial assistance schemes, etc. It’s not just free money for lazy people. Furthermore, if you bother looking at the DWP, over 82% of people who receive benefits such as child tax credit, income support, housing benefit ARE people in employment. The money they earn (often minimum wage) is just not enough to make ends meet. Please think before you speak. All those retired Muslims, who have been working and paying tax all their lives, are just scrounging off the government by taking welfare (which, unbeknown to you, means state pension).

      As for the Police force, it’s not just Muslims that are ‘vastly underrepresented’. It’s everyone. According to Home Office 31 March 2014 report on “Police service strength: England and Wales”, only 5% of the police force in the UK are non-white. Furthermore, we have no statistics that reveal the religious makeup of the UK police force. So this point of yours is simple without evidence.

      As for the Army, Why don’t we have a look at the statistics from the UK Ministry of Defence! According the MoD January 2014 statistics, Muslims are the second largest religious group in both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force after Christians and the fourth largest in the Regular Army after Christians and Hindus. The statistics also showed that the number of Muslims in the army has been increasing every year. What do yu have to say about these facts?

      As for your ISIS point, the UK foreign office and foreign minister William Hague believe that around 400 Muslims joined ISIS. The number of Muslims in the UK Army is 650. So, your argument that more Muslims have joined ISIS than the UK army is factually incorrect. Prove me wrong! I challenge you to come up with reputable statistic from the government or academia that proves this oft-repeated lie. Don’t bring me a newspaper article. Bring me a reputable sources. I challenge you John!

      Just to make things interesting John. Did you know that according to the MoD, there are only around 70 Jews in the UK Army? However, according the IDF, there are more than 100 BRITISH Jews serving the in the Israeli Army. We even have support groups called ‘Mahal Mums’ to support British Jewish mothers whose sons are fighting for another army. When are you going to question them of their loyalty?

      John, I’ve noticed that your are quite prevalent on muslim matters. If you want a substantive dialogue where we learn from each other and see where each other is coming from, then you have to be willing to give a take. I appreciate your concern. We are all concerned. But I’m certain that the road your going down is not going to solve anything but bring about further misunderstanding and hate

      peace,

      • John Howard says:

        One point I will make but I will follow up a little more when my other research which I am presently compiling comes together
        The point I make is about that group of people that Muslims universally hate and wish destroyed. – The Jews – there are 300,000 living in the UK and have lived here for hundreds of years. One even became Prime Minister of Britain Benjamin Disraeli. If you look at the figures 30,000 are of the Ultra Orthodox faith which leaves about 267,000 here in the UK Their average age is quite old with a median age of 41 – not really military material. If you take into account that their number of military serving personnel is 80 and I have to take your word for that compare that with Muslims Nearly 3,000,000 have arrived in just over 30 years here and the mean age is as I read the 2010 census around 16 so who is the one standing up for the UK? The number you say that are fighting for ISIS is laughable – from all accounts UK muslims are one of the largest groups fighting and the number is well over a 1000 and closer to 1500 Hopefully that will decline one way or another over the next 12-18 months We can but hope. As I said I have some other research being forwarded to me from a couple of scholastic sites I will certainly be getting back you By the way stop using the race card it is always the sign of abuse against whites It is not only tiring it is an affront to be BRITISH!

      • Yasin says:

        John,

        I only mentioned British Jews to highlight your double standards and dishonesty, not because I have a uiversal hatred for and want to destroy world Jewry. I didn’t in anyway insult them. I merely pointed out the fact that there are more British Jews fighting for the Israeli Army than the British Army. From this fact, I asked you whether you would question their loyalty to Britain. The reply I got was a dishonest census study. I didn’t ask you for the average age of Jews in the UK. I asked whether you would ask British Jews where their loyalties lie given the fact that more British Jew fight for the Israeli army than the British Army regardless of their average age. More of those that ARE of military age choose to fight for Israel than Britain even though they are British citizens living in Britain.

        Your reply to what I said about the police force is really funny. This is how our conversation went:

        John: “[Muslims are] vastly under represented in the area of defense and police”

        Yasin: “According to Home Office 31 March 2014 report on ‘Police service strength: England and Wales’, only 5% of the police force in the UK are non-white. Furthermore, we have no statistics that reveal the religious makeup of the UK police force. So this point of yours is simple without evidence.”

        John: “Stop using the race card it is always the sign of abuse against whites It is not only tiring it is an affront to be BRITISH!”

        How would anyone judge this conversation? Who has presented facts and who has presented pure emotion and red herrings?

        As for the ISIS point, you may find it laughable and believe the number is 1000-1500, but I ask: What is your source for the 1000-1500 figures? The UK Foreign Office and the UK Foreign Minister state that the number is around 400. Where did you get this figure of 1000-1500? If you have evidence from a more reliable source than the UK Foreign Office and the UK Foreign Minister, let me know. If you cannot provide evidence, then, like your police force argument, this point is unsubstantiated.

        As for the research you’re compiling, I hope your research has two characteristics:
        (1) Academic: The research has been conducted by academics who are experts in the field and not, as you are accustomed to, internet YouGov polls or Swedish journalists.

        (2) Comparative: Whatever research question you explore, you also look at the same research question into other religious communities. It’s important because it shows if Muslims are in any way unique. You made an earlier point that there is a greater proportion of Muslims in prison than the general population. This is regrettably true. However, if you had done a comparative study, you would have found out that this is also the case for nearly every other religious minority except Jewish and Hindu. A comparative study would show that Muslims are in no way unique in this regard, so what motivates you to single them out. You said Muslims are unrepresented in the armed forces. MoD statistics showed that, Muslims are the second highest in RAF and Navy and third highest in Regular Army. A comparative study thus shows that Muslims are one of the best represented religious minorities in the British Army. So what motivates you to make statements without facts?

        Do your research, but be honest.

  10. Ton Cek says:

    The one thing that Cenk didn’t really address is the conquest doctrine that is in the Qur’an. This means that even if there was no oil in the Middle East and the West accordingly had no reason to be in that region this would not stop the Muslim states from trying to spread their religion through force to the rest of the world, or as they are doing through transformation of societies within western states. Islam is an intolerant and proselytizing religion and so it is difficult to see whether the actions of individuals that adhere to Islam are likely to be greatly different even if the West is not present in their region.

  11. Ton Ček says:

    According to the conquest manifesto, known as the Qur’an, Islam’s adherents were required to proselytize any group they conquered. So called unbelievers were given 2 choices (conversion or death) or 3 choices (conversion, dhimmitude or death) , depending on whether they were pagans or Jews and Christians. Both pre-industrial Islam and pre-industrial Christianity have been collectively responsible for the death and enslavement of hundreds of millions of people on 6 continents in the period from 622 to 1800 CE. This is something that Islamic and Christian apologists cannot deflect. Compare the actions of these two evil religions with China which confined itself to its own territorial borders for most of its history.

  12. Ton Ček says:

    There are two methods by which the word of god could be recorded forever. In the first method there is no mention of any violence or slavery, which as you know were central features of all pre-industrial empires including the Muslim empire. In this type of document the compelling wisdom of the message of love and tolerance of others would be sufficient to attract all likeminded people to the new religious ideology. There would have been no need for Arabs to leave the Arabian Peninsula. Pilgrims in large numbers would flock there to receive the word of God.

  13. Ton Ček says:

    . The second method, which was chosen by Muhammad, was to take over the territory of others violently and kill and enslave all who oppose the expansion of an earthly empire based on the “word of god”. How clever that the conquest manifesto, hereto known as the Quran, could allow Muslims to justify the building of an oppressive empire by pretending for it to be the directive of god. This same logic applies to all religions, with the exception of Buddhism that considered slavery as “wrong livelihood”. Muslims delude themselves if they think that the Quran is not a conquest manifesto.

  14. Ton Ček says:

    I did not need to read Mein Kampf to know what Hitler’s intentions were. His hate-filled speeches were enough to let the observers at the time to know of his gravitation towards war. I did not need to read the Communist Manifest to know what the outcome was. The specter of Communism was sufficient proof of its rigid ideology. I do not need to read the Quran to know that it is a conquest manifesto. All I have to do is look at the oppressive Muslim empire that existed for 12 or so centuries and the resistance of Muslims to integrate in western societies today as sufficient proof that the Quran is not the word of god but the word of a man that wanted to establish an earthly empire.

    • Ton Ček says:

      Quran (3:56) – “As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help.”

      Quran (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority”.

      Quran (4:95) – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward,

      Do these passages sound like the words from a loving creator that cares for all His/Her/It’s creations or the words of a totalitarian dictator?

  15. So Ton, you’ve essentially never read the Qur’an, cannot answer the direct question I’ve asked, and shown us your inestimable googling skills, doubtless appreciated.

    Re: 3:56 “As to those who reject faith…”

    We’re not different from most other faith communities in believing in salvific exclusivity. However, it’s clear you didn’t read this verse in context because it’s referring to those who attempted to kill Jesus, and so it’s God speaking and saying to Jesus that He will raise him up to Him and then do as he said to those people, punishing them both in this life and the next. Obviously, many people disbelieve now and are enjoying fine lives. The verse is speaking about a specific people in a specific situation.

    Re: 3:151 “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers…” again, look at the verses preceding and following. The Qur’an was revealed over time in specific situations, and it was referring to a specific group of people in a specific battle in the history of our faith, a battle they didn’t initiate but were defending in, and in which they were outnumbered.

    Re: 4:95 “Not equal are those…” this is an interesting verse because it shows that there were people staying home and not fighting when the nascent Muslim state was under constant threat of invasion and attack. When your tiny city is in imminent danger all the time, all are expected to fight. These people are simply being called out, while those who stepped up for God and country, willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation, are praised for their bravery.

    I’d encourage you to read the Qur’an itself rather than making poor excuses for forming a bias against our faith while knowing nothing about it.

  16. Ton Ček says:

    Thank you for taking the time to explain to me how violent passages in the Qur’an can be put into context. I have just one question. Do you condone all the killing, raping, slavery, pedophilia, dhimminitude that the followers of Islam perpetrated against all they conquered, whilst establishing a violent empire? Or do you dispute that Islam established a violent empire with the sword? If you condone all the vile actions of Islam’s armies over 12 centuries then you confirm that the Qur’an is a conquest manifesto and you are willing to accept it as such. If you do not then following the “directives of god” in such a document suggests that the followers of Islam are in dire need of transforming the key tenets of their religion. If I can reject the Roman Catholic Church for its violent history, that resulted in the death of as many if not more people than the victims of Islam then I cannot see why Muslims cannot do the same with their religion. It is by their actions and not their words that all people are judged. And I am not in a minority that judges Islam to be a violent religion because of its actions from 622 CE onwards.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/05/the_greatest_murder_machine_in_history.html

    Why would I want to read a book that Islamic soldiers referred to prior to killing, raping and enslaving people who did them no wrong. If there had been a god he would have destroyed the Muslim soldiers who dared to kill and rape and enslave without any reason. The fact that Islamic soldiers were able to continue doing such horrid deeds over 1200 years is proof in itself that there is no god.

    * Moderator — More than one comment has been merged *

    • I can only speak for concepts from my faith that were properly executed at the state level. I simply cannot account for every single person, ruler, advisor, and so on as though the people committing aggressions are doing so in the name of Islam. Indicting the faith and all people following the faith on the basis of the handful is also rather shortsighted and simpleminded. Finally, I read the link you provided and I followed it to the author’s other site. He’s clearly a bigot.

      In the end, you are unable to map action to text because you refuse to read the text and understand it. It is because you refuse to read the text that the statements you make are clearly uninformed and, well, laughable. Appreciate you stopping by and offering your thoughts though.

  17. snoozer says:

    If the Quran was revealed to a specific people at a specific time, what is the point of it now, that sure ain’t a timeless book to me. It comes off as apologetics.

  18. neuroticknight says:

    I have a simple way to distinguish a foe from a friend. I would like to ask what do you think is the fundamental duty in life, if serving nation or spreading religion is, yours, then you really are not an ally for anyone. However if you feel your fundamental duty in life is to protect and enable rights of others, be it black/muslim/gay/trans/stripper/autist/handicapped/poor and any other type you could think up under the sun. then you are a friend. If you are denying rights of any in name of culture/tradition/national pride or such, you indeed are a bad person. Unfortunately from my observation, muslims seem to be rather a prominent group hell bent on denying rights for many on many and survey after survey, laws of theocratic regimes and speech after speech indicate as such.

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