These guys are painfully wrong about Islam: 3 things that every anti-Muslim zealot needs to admit

Epigraph:

“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” – President Obama

Courtesy of: Islamophobia Watch: Documenting anti Muslim bigotry.  For the Muslim Times collection to diffuse Islamophobia, please click here

Courtesy of: Islamophobia Watch: Documenting anti Muslim bigotry. What is true of Geert Wilders is true of almost every Islamophobe.  For the Muslim Times’ collection to diffuse Islamophobia, please click here

Source: Salon.com

By Qasim Rashid

Bill Maher & Richard Dawkins continue to disparage a religion that, in all honesty, they know little about

As a practicing Muslim, I don’t believe Islam is above criticism. I do believe that Islam backs free speech. I also believe that Islam champions secular governance. But what’s significant about my beliefs is why I believe them — which is because they are precisely what the Qur’an teaches, and what Prophet Muhammad exemplified.

Perhaps this is why I find arguments like the one put forth by Jeffrey Tayler in Salon earlier this month — written in the aftermath of the “Draw the Prophet” shooting in Texas and Charlie Hebdo’s controversial PEN award — to be yet another straw man, one that avoids three realities critics of Islam continue to ignore. For example, Tayler’s claim that “Prophet Muhammad was a triumphant warlord leading military campaigns that spread Islam throughout Arabia” is but one example of the numerous historical fantasies he writes; a fantasy that is wholly contradictory to Prophet Muhammad’s well established rules of war. (SPOILER: Islam forbids spreading faith by the sword and permits fighting only in self-defense).

Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher (Credit: AP/Fiona Hanson/HBO/Janet Van Ham)

Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher (Credit: AP/Fiona Hanson/HBO/Janet Van Ham)

Had Tayler presented his arguments as a criticism of several Muslim majority political regimes — Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia to name a few — I would have largely agreed with his claims. He runs into trouble, however, when he unwarrantedly conflates political regimes with the religion of Islam as a whole. Further exacerbating Tayler’s position is his reliance on comedian Bill Maher and internationally recognized hatemonger Pamela Geller as presenting some sort of authentic reality of Islamic teaching. Maher, I’ve heard, is actually a nice guy in person — but that characteristic does not somehow make his commentary Islamic scholarship. Geller, meanwhile, is on hate watch lists for both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and is banned from the United Kingdom for her hatemongering; she has zero academic credentials on the subject of Islam. And lest there be any confusion, the United Kingdom is definitely not an “Enforcer of Shariah” — a term Tayler uses to describe the 204 authors who signed a letter dissociating themselves from a free speech award given to the surviving artists of Charlie Hebdo.

Indeed, the United States has a proud free speech model — one I support as an American, as a Muslim, as an attorney and as a person who regularly receives death threats for speaking my mind. America’s current free speech model is not only unique in its own history, but unique when compared to the contemporary developed world.

And here is the first reality critics like Tayler ignore: Most of America’s staunchest allies enforce speech laws much stricter than what Islam teaches — yet no one accuses such Western nations of being free speech obstructionists.

For example, Article 415 of the Italian Penal Code states, “Whoever publicly incites… hatred between the social classes, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years.” Likewise, Article 261 of the Swiss Penal Code states issues up to a three-year prison sentence for anyone who “publicly disseminates, organizes, or encourages participation in events promoting ideologies that have as their object the systematic denigration or defamation of the members of a race, ethnic group or religion.” Our neighbor Canada’s Criminal Code Section 319 offers a two-year prison sentence for anyone who “wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group [by] communicating statements, other than in private conversation.”

I could go on with Denmark, Poland and Spain, among other Western nations that enforce speech restrictions that not only mimic blasphemy laws in nations like Pakistan, but would also clearly violate our First Amendment. Yet, we see no outcries of oppression from these laws in these Christian-majority nations. Meanwhile, Islam is somehow blamed when nearly the exact same laws are promulgated in Muslim-majority nations. The double standard is astounding.

And Western nations — not Shariah — in fact enforce such laws restricting speech. Germany rewards Holocaust deniers with a five-year prison sentence. Two years before the horrific Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack a French judge ordered Twitter to hand over identifying information of users engaging in anti-Semitic and racist comments. Where was the outcry of free speech oppression then?

The second reality critics like Tayler ignore is that they insist on viewing terrorism done by Muslims in a vacuum and unique to just Muslims — both of which are false positions.

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Additional Reading

Karen Armstrong on Sam Harris and Bill Maher: “It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps”

4 replies

  1. You’re conflating anti-muslim with anti-islam by using the two interchangeably. It’s possible to oppose an ideology without opposing its advocates.

  2. Sure, you can criticize Islam. But, Islam is not monolithic. You have to describe how it is understood by each sect or group.

    The critics tend to pick up the worst explanations of Islam or worst conduct of the Muslims like for example terrorist groups and stereotype it by applying it to all Muslims in a way of propaganda.

  3. “Sure, you can criticize Islam. But, Islam is not monolithic. You have to describe how it is understood by each sect or group.”

    That may be so, but my original point remains. Opposing how an ideology is understood by a certain group is not automatically the same as opposing that group.

    “The critics tend to pick up the worst explanations of Islam or worst conduct of the Muslims like for example terrorist groups and stereotype it by applying it to all Muslims in a way of propaganda.”

    I respectfully have to disagree. That sounds like stereotyping. Sure, some ignorant non-muslims may dismiss all muslims as terrorists, just as some ignorant muslims may dismiss all atheists as kuffars who are destined to go to hell, but I’ve never heard Richard Dawkins suggest all muslims are terrorists.

    Organised religion is incredibly powerful, and it absolutely should be challenged, questioned, and criticised.

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