Time: Those who say Islam is the problem are ignorant
Since 9/11, “reforming” Islam under the guise of combatting extremism has become increasingly financially lucrative. More than $57 million has been spent to promote fear of Islam and Muslims. And it seems like everyone’s an expert—including those who have no actual education or scholarship on Islamic jurisprudence.
In a 2012 study analyzing the top 25 most popular anti-Muslim activists in America, the Muslim Political Action Committee (MPAC) found: “Only 1 out of the 25 individuals examined have qualifications that would make him/her an expert on Islam.” Perhaps most relevant to combatting extremism the report rightly concluded: “Relying on individuals who lack academic qualifications about the subjects, one which they claim to be an expert, has severe negative consequences for our national security.” In other words, pseudo-scholars don’t stop extremism—they can create extremism.
For example, a recent TIME piece argues that New Atheism, which emerged post 9/11, is the solution to extremism and violence in the Muslim world because it allegedly speaks “honestly about religion.” This empty rhetoric obfuscates that throughout their so-called “honest” advocacy, the most prominent New Atheists have spoken from a position of ignorance to promote ideas and policies that have fostered extremism. For example, Christopher Hitchens advocated for the Iraq War—which has left more than 500,000 civilians dead, a region in disarray, and as President Obama admits, led to the rise of ISIS. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has advocated for a military destruction of Islam by “any means necessary.” Not a destruction of radicalism, but of Islam itself. Richard Dawkins has also slammed Islam: for example, in a 2013 tweet, he wrote: “Haven’t read Koran so couldn’t quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today[.]”