Sam Harris has another article about Islam, coinciding with his new book.
We start with the bromance. He was a former radical Muslim extremist(a la Walid Shoebat), I was a rational free-thinker. Our eyes met. I said to him, “let’s make beautiful hate-literature together.” Five years later, we are proud to celebrate our first-born.
Congrats, Sam and Maajid on your recyclable mass of tree-pulp. I look forward to facepalming at it like your previous recyclable masses of tree-pulp.
Let’s start with this latest bit of drivel, shall we?
Talking about Islam today is a dangerous business. Disagreements about the role this religion plays in the world have become a wellspring of intolerance and violence.Cartoonists have been massacred in Paris to shouts of “We have avenged the Prophet!”…Western politicians and commentators have struggled to understand this phenomenon
The “disagreement” here is purely one-sided. Muslims do bad things, non-Muslims don’t do bad things to Muslims. There haven’t been a bunch of wars and other nasty things done by Western governments that would make Muslims angry. In fact, it couldn’t be that the terrorists are motivated by revenge and anger toward such great advances in Western Civilisation as drone strikes, disastrous wars, and funding apartheid Israel.
I agree, Western politicians don’t understand, obviously – that’s why we have calls for military intervention in Syria which, like previous interventions will bring much human misery which will be ignored the next time a terrorist cites his brother being killed by a Western drone in Syria, because Islam.
Honest conversation about the need for reform within Islam has become a necessity.
This is the latest PC line from the “liberal” hate-mongers. We don’t hate Muslims, we just want to reform Islam. But what does reform mean?
Some frame it as “Islam needs a reformation like Christianity had.” A few problems with that. The Christian reformation was a political manoeuvre because the Catholic Church, very much more a government than a religious body, had control over most of Europe. The reformation was the European intifada – a shaking off of Catholic hegemony and occupation. The reformation was resistance against an imperial oppressor and like most revolts against a super-power, it cost many lives.
Islam has no such central authority, there is no Muslim Vatican controlling most of the Muslim world. There is the well-funded, Western-supported Saudi regime that supports extremist Wahhabis and funds terrorism but I haven’t seen Harris, or Hirsi-Ali or Dawkins seriously advocate for revolution against the Saudi regime or even clamour for an end to funding and military support. Curious that.
The other framing is having a bunch of non-Muslims, ex-Muslims come and revise the Quran and Hadiths, tell Muslims what is and isn’t acceptable to worship – which, is not only not going to happen, but is rather offensive. New Atheists complain all the time that people are defining New Atheism for them, yet have no qualms about stepping in and declaring themselves to be the righteous arbiters of Islam, more righteous than the believers.
Since 9/11, the whole focus of the international community has been on destroying terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS, as if they were mere criminal gangs that needed to be disrupted operationally.
There is so much wrong with this I don’t even know where to start. To battle Al Qaeda, the U.S. invaded a country, then left that country to invade another country which had no Al Qaeda presence, that, thanks to that intervention now has ISIS controlling entire provinces. Worst and weirdest “criminal gang operation” I’ve ever seen. Far from disrupting them operationally, our brilliance has only strengthened them and we’re now on the verge of supporting Al Qaeda again, in Syria.
Islamism, often referred to as “political Islam,” is the desire to impose a version of Islam on the rest of society.
Ah, the new favourite word, “Islamism.” “Islamophobia” is a bad word because it is made up and can’t be used because we say so but “Islamism” is necessary, because there’s no term describing the phenomenon…. oh wait, except there is. “Theocracy.” Now, theocracy is a terrible form of government and should be opposed by all believers and non-believers because it is bad for society and bad for religion – but why do we need “Islamism?” Oh right, because we single out Islam as a unique evil because hate sells.
Islamism, often referred to as “political Islam,” is the desire to impose a version of Islam on the rest of society. Political Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, generally do not believe in resorting to violence…..Political Islam is an offshoot of religious Islam and draws much of its inspiration from the Quran and the hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad).
Right, so basically right-wing religious conservatism that promotes a theocratic agenda. Again, this is not a new phenomenon, not restricted to Muslims and in the West, given the Muslim population, not a big deal compared to other theocratic movements.
Of course, the Bible contains barbaric passages, as well. But there are historical and theological reasons why Christians and Jews can now easily ignore them.
Would be lovely to list those historical and theological reasons. Oh wait, to Harris, Judaism is an atheist religion and right-wing fundamentalist Christians totally ignore the bloody bits of the Bible.
To call ISIS “un-Islamic,” as President Obama has repeatedly done, and as Prime Minister Cameron recently stopped doing, is to play a dangerous game with words.
But is it? Or is it honest. Muslim scholars repeatedly say that ISIS’ actions violate fundamental tenets of Islam. Oh, but the Saudis, the Saudis, the “Islamic” Saudis – the same Islamic Saudis that ignore the very clear words of the Quran to not hoard wealth, to provide charity, to not kill civilians and start wars of aggression. Yes, the Saudi leadership is so very serious about Islam and isn’t using its control over Mecca as a way to justify its Arabic imperialism and isn’t using repressive laws against the population and women in particular to entrench a monarchy and prevent revolt.
Holding Islam up to scrutiny, rationally and ethically, must not be confused with anti-Muslim bigotry. Cries of “Islamophobia,” which have become ubiquitous on college campuses and in much of the liberal press, have been used to silence legitimate criticism.
And yet, cries of “Islamophobia isn’t real” are used to silence Muslims(and non-Muslims) who are targets of anti-Muslim bigotry. Those cries are used to devalue and de-legitimise very real hate faced by Muslims every day, often at the hands of the same people who look up to Harris and Nawaz as role models. Government surveillance, profiling, Orwellian anti-terrorism efforts silence Muslims politically and in communities.
Criticism of Islam is often reduced to crass, often sexualised, bigoted caricatures – not dissimilar to the antiSemitic cartoons and publications of the early 19th century. This is what Harris and Nawaz are fighting so hard for? This is what is going to stop ISIS and fundamentalists?
It isn’t and that’s the point.