Let’s kill Jesus!

tintin-writingThis is the story of Jesus, the reporter. He did a series of interviews with representatives of different extremist factions in this world. This post contains fragments of his conversations, references to actual events and commentaries by an expert. It also reveals what eventually happened to this alleged devil’s advocate.

From an interview with Richie, representative of the Right to Eliminate Disorder (RED) party.

Jesus: What is your ultimate political goal?

Richie: We want to protect our western system of law and order by eliminating the main source of violence in this world, which is Islam.

Jesus: Don’t you think that Muslims might feel discriminated against if you try to ban their religion from your society? The majority of Muslims is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.

Richie: Every Muslim is a potential terrorist because of the true, decadent, barbaric and violent nature of Islamic ideology. Only a tiny minority of so-called Muslims is able to live among us in a lasting peaceful fashion because they’re actually no real Muslims. We’re defending our western culture.

Jesus: One of the main achievements of your culture is the freedom of religion and the separation of Church and State. Aren’t you destroying that culture, instead of defending it, by prohibiting Islam?

Richie:  No. You have to understand that Muslims want to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. They have no respect for the separation of Church and State. Just look at Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia. So, instead of destroying our culture with its separation of Church and State and freedom of religion, we would defend it by politically and legally prohibiting the religion of Islam.

Jesus: Aren’t you imposing your way of life then? In fact, aren’t you imitating countries like Saudi Arabia by imposing your ideological preferences?

Richie: We’re not imposing any ideological preference. We’re protecting a true, neutral perspective.

Jesus: By prohibiting Islam, based on your interpretation of that religion?

Richie: Our interpretation corresponds with the interpretation of organizations like ISIL.

Jesus: And that’s a neutral interpretation?

Richie: Well, yes!

Jesus: They are in favor of a particular ideological Islamic system, while you are against that system, but you are both convinced of the same system representing the true nature of Islam? There’s no discussion about that?

Richie: No discussion. Accept the truth: they want to eradicate us! Ask me something else!

Jesus: Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to protect your cultural identity?

Richie: Yes. I would consider it an honor.

Jesus: Am I getting this right? You are prepared to sacrifice yourself because you don’t want to become the victim of an organization like ISIL; becoming its victim would be a disgrace, becoming a sacrifice by fighting it would be an honor? You are prepared to die so you won’t get killed? It seems you’re accomplishing exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Instead of saving your life, you’re losing it.

Richie: Listen, for once and for all, the Muslims are attacking us. We have the right to defend ourselves. Our violence is justified, theirs is not justified. I’m willing to die in the name of righteousness to establish an order and a peace where the terrorists are eliminated.

Jesus: If I may refer to Star Wars, you are the Jedi and they are the Sith?

Richie: Exactly!

Jesus: But isn’t that a matter of perspective? In the end, you’re both killers, establishing a peace at the expense of sacrifices?

filip-dewinter-assadFACT, NOT FICTION: At the beginning of February, 2017, Filip Dewinter, member of Belgian’s federal parliament and one of the leaders of far-right political party Vlaams Belang paid a visit to Assad and his regime. He turned a blind eye to the massive violence of that regime (a new report reveals more Syrians are killed by Assad’s regime than by Jihadist organizations), claiming the regime of Assad was a bulwark against terrorism. Instead, he could have considered that the violence of Assad might convince more Syrians to take sides with Jihadist factions. What if your brother is arrested, tortured and murdered by the Assad regime on vague charges of ‘insulting the regime’? Wouldn’t you be angry at the regime, also at those you perceive as allies of the regime? So, instead of eliminating the threat of terrorism Filip Dewinter seems to feed it!

Richie: This is the way of the world. There’s a constant battle of good versus evil.

Jesus: But how good is ‘good’ when it establishes a system in the same way as the so-called ‘evil’ side would do it?

quebec-shooting-vigilsFACT, NOT FICTION: January 30, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old university student, killed six people in a mosque in Québec (Canada). Sociologist Stephen Ledrew wrote a very, very interesting book (The Evolution of Atheism – The Politics of a Modern Movement) on the so-called New Atheism as an “atheist Right” that mirrors the Christian Right. Precisely the case of Alexandre Bissonnette is a symptom of this. Ledrew wrote an article about it, Atheism’s Dark Side Aiding the Trump Agenda. Find it by clicking here or here.

Richie: What do you propose then?

Jesus: Maybe the question is not whether you are in favor of or against a particular system. Maybe the question is whether the system can be used or transformed in such a way that it enables you to love your enemy? After all, our enemies remain fellow human beings. If we can love them, then they can love us too. If we can transform our system, then they can do the same thing.

My advice would be: don’t imitate the hatred and the violence of certain people by taking revenge on those you associate with them (but who are actually innocent). In other words, don’t look for scapegoats, because it will only plant seeds for new violence. The threat you feared but wasn’t there, will become real, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Richie: Shut up with your nonsense! The threat is real and has always been real. What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Richie: I’ll remember you.

From an interview with Idris, representative of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) party.

Jesus: What is your ultimate political goal?

Idris: We want to protect our Islamic system of law and order by eliminating the main source of violence in this world, which is western culture.

Jesus: Don’t you think that westerners might feel discriminated against if you try to ban their culture from your society? The majority of westerners is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.

Idris: Every westerner is a potential terrorist because of the true, decadent, barbaric and violent nature of western culture. Only a tiny minority of so-called westerners is able to live among us in a lasting peaceful fashion because they’re actually no real westerners. They converted to Islam. We’re defending our Islamic culture.

Jesus: One of the core convictions of your culture is the conviction that there should be no compulsion in religion. Aren’t you destroying that culture, instead of defending it, by prohibiting western culture?

Idris:  No. You have to understand that westerners want to impose their way of life on the rest of the world. They have no respect for the conviction that there should be no compulsion in religion, one way or the other. Just look at western countries trying to ban Muslims. It’s just one of the measures suppressing Muslims. Muslims who live in western countries are constantly discriminated against. However, no one can prevent me from being a Muslim, and I will avert any culture that tries to suppress Islam.

US President Trump swears in General Mattis as US Defense Secretary . DCFACT, NOT FICTION: President Trump signed an executive order on January 27 that banned entry into the US by anyone from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, and banned nearly all refugees for 120 days.

Jesus: But aren’t you imitating potential Muslim bans by averting western culture all together? Aren’t you imposing your ideological preferences just the same?

Idris: We’re not imposing any ideological preference. We’re protecting a true, divine perspective.

Jesus: By advocating Islam, based on your interpretation of that religion?

Idris: Our interpretation corresponds with the interpretation of the wicked who try to ban us.

Jesus: And that’s a true interpretation?

Idris: Well, yes!

Jesus: They are against a particular ideological Islamic system, while you are in favor of that system, but you are both convinced of the same system representing the true nature of Islam? There’s no discussion about that?

Idris: No discussion. They refuse to accept the divine truth and want to eradicate us. Ask me something else!

Jesus: Are you willing to sacrifice yourself to protect your cultural identity?

Idris: Yes. I would consider it an honor.

Jesus: Am I getting this right? You are prepared to sacrifice yourself because you don’t want to become the victim of an organization like RED; becoming its victim would be a disgrace, becoming a sacrifice by fighting it would be an honor? You are prepared to die so you won’t get killed? It seems you’re accomplishing exactly what you’re trying to avoid. Instead of saving your life, you’re losing it.

Idris: Listen, for once and for all, the westerners are attacking us. We have the right to defend ourselves. Our violence is justified, theirs is not justified. I’m willing to die in the name of righteousness to establish an order and a peace where the terrorists are eliminated.

Jesus: If I may refer to Star Wars, you are the Jedi and they are the Sith?

Idris: Exactly!

Jesus: But isn’t that a matter of perspective? In the end, you’re both killers, establishing a peace at the expense of sacrifices?

Idris: This is the way of the world. There’s a constant battle of good versus evil.

Jesus: But how good is ‘good’ when it establishes a system in the same way as the so-called ‘evil’ side would do it?

Idris: What do you propose then?

Jesus: Maybe the question is not whether you are in favor of or against a particular system. Maybe the question is whether the system can be used or transformed in such a way that it enables you to love your enemy? After all, our enemies remain fellow human beings. If we can love them, then they can love us too. If we can transform our system, then they can do the same thing.

My advice would be: don’t imitate the hatred and the violence of certain people by taking revenge on those you associate with them (but who are actually innocent). In other words, don’t look for scapegoats, because it will only plant seeds for new violence. The threat you feared but wasn’t there, will become real, like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Idris: Shut up with your nonsense! The threat is real and has always been real. What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Idris: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Parry, the Paranoiac.

I’m an expert in politics. It is crystal clear that RED and ISIL made a pact. After all, they need each other to exist.

On the one hand, a violent act by RED can be presented by ISIL as proof of the fact that western culture is the enemy of Islam, and then ISIL can sell itself as a Messiah that will liberate the Muslim world of all evil.

On the other hand, a violent act by ISIL can be presented by RED as proof of the fact that Islam is the enemy of western culture, and then RED can sell itself as a Messiah that will liberate the western world of all evil.

Of course, in both cases, the evil cannot really disappear for these so-called Messiahs can only justify their existence and hold on to their power because of the problem they’re supposedly fighting against. In other words, they are false Messiahs.

Anyway, Satan cannot cast out Satan.

assad-false-messiahFACT, NOT FICTION: Syrian dictator Assad released Jihadist extremists to tinge the rebellion against his regime with extremism. Thus he made it harder for foreign forces to back the rebels, at the same time presenting himself as a ‘savior’.

From an interview with Seth, representative of the Secularists of Society (SOS) party, and some excerpts from comments by Robbie, yet another member of the Right to Eliminate Disorder (RED) party.

Jesus: You claim to have a solution for the problem of the so-called ‘culture war’ between parties like RED and ISIL. Could you present your main ideas?

Seth: I’d be happy to. The core of the problem is the very concept of a cultural identity based on all kinds of ancient national traditions or religious ideas. My organization is convinced that the economy, more specifically a global system of economic liberalism, serves as the best basis for developing whatever identity. Instead of one culture violently competing with another because they want to occupy the same position (and thus cannot accept each other’s differences), the economic system will guarantee that differences are established after an honest competition for similar positions (and thus must be accepted).

Peace would be established if everyone agreed upon the same economic system, and if everyone was granted the same chances within that system. If this were the case, your social identity and position would be based on your own merits, and no one would be allowed to question the identity and position of another. Cultural and religious items would become private items, available at and provided by the market as well, for each individual. The problems from the past, where social identities and positions were often established because of cultural and religious traditions, would evaporate. In any case, identities based on nationalism or religion (or both) need to disappear in favor of identities based on a global meritocratic system.

Jesus: But then again a type of rivalry will arise. Not everyone will accept a definition of his or her identity by the economic system. Also this system exists at the expense of sacrificing other systems. Moreover, what will happen if people don’t just accept their position and get frustrated because they belong to the so-called ‘losers’ of society? Maybe they will create a counter-culture like ISIL where they feel like ‘winners’, and, being guided by resentment, thus condemn the society they previously desired to be a significant part of. And then we’re back from where we started.

auto-radicalizationFACT, NOT FICTION: Europol notices that more and more young people who didn’t grow up in Muslim families become jihadists. The federal prosecutor of Belgium Frédéric Van Leeuw recently said that “the reason why young people depart for Syria lies in society”. The European Institute of Peace recently put together a social mapping of Molenbeek (Brussels), and looked at the causes of violent extremism in neighborhoods with the highest amount of foreign fighters. Not surprisingly perhaps, these neighborhoods were the poorest of Molenbeek. The research reveals that, because of the very superficial knowledge of Islam, religion is not the cause of radicalization; a feeling of being discriminated against is. Religion is an outlet, a consequence of frustrations which are the true cause of violent extremism. Young people with identity issues, who feel left behind and excluded by our performance oriented western culture, auto-radicalize through the internet where they find a virtual community of ‘fellow excluded people’ (for instance Muslims and refugees). CLICK HERE FOR AN ARTICLE WITH MORE INFORMATION BY DE STANDAARD (“Ze spreken amper Arabisch en kennen hooguit een handvol Korancitaten”). CLICK HERE FOR “WOMEN AND THE SPIRITUAL CLASH WITH TERROR”.

Seth: What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Seth: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Robbie, member of RED.

I totally disagree with the policy of Seth and SOS. I’m a nationalist, and I have the right to protect my national cultural identity. Moreover, I’m also religious (contrary to Richie, our representative). I just can’t stand God’s laws being threatened by a decadent consumer culture. Mark my words, it won’t be long until the wrath of God descends upon us.

From an interview with Lizzy, representative of the Being Left Unjustly Exposed (BLUE) party, and some excerpts from comments by Ibrahim, yet another member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) party.

Jesus: You criticize the solutions to the current crisis in the world proposed by SOS. Do you have a better one?

Lizzy: Well, yes. The problem is that meritocracy isn’t functioning like it should. People, especially young people, get frustrated because some people get way more than they deserve. If we redistribute wealth, give everyone the same basic income, we can stop organizations like ISIL from recruiting depressed and frustrated young people. The need for religion will automatically disappear, especially if we don’t talk about it anymore in schools and in education.

FACT, NOT FICTION: Communist regimes of the past already tried to eradicate religion, with due consequences for religious people (who experienced discrimination). For instance in the Soviet Union.

Jesus: Is that a good idea, making religion a taboo? It will continue to flourish on the internet, and young people who don’t know anything about it might fall victim to malicious minds who use religion for evil purposes.

Lizzy: We will do everything to eradicate religion, smoothly. After all, we don’t need it, do we?

Jesus: Once again, also this system exists at the expense of sacrifices. Is our identity as a human being only defined by what we need (or learned to need)? That’s a poor way of approaching others. As if others are only worth something because I would need them.

Lizzy: What did you say your name was again?

Jesus: Jesus.

Lizzy: I’ll remember you.

Comments by Ibrahim, member of ISIL.

At first I thought BLUE was protecting Muslim interests. It provided extra educational programs for free, which I thought was a good thing. Coming from a poor family, I didn’t have the means to catch up with my friends in high school. We were all just playing around, but the wealthy parents of my friends could pay for tutors and extra classes when they were not studying well. I was left behind. My friends were characterized as ‘adventurous youth’, while I was characterized as a ‘dipshit’ for committing the same misdemeanors. If BLUE thinks that I would give up on my religion to lead the same decadent life as my former friends, then it is wrong.

Epilogue by Parry, the Paranoiac.

This is how the story of Jesus and his interviews ends.

A small part of religious RED members forged an alliance with a small part of ISIL members, fighting the secularism of both SOS and BLUE. As the rivalry between RED and ISIL for the same position in society thereby somewhat temporarily ended because they found a common enemy, also the rivalry between SOS and BLUE to gain control over society temporarily ended because of their common religious enemy.

FACT, NOT FICTION: Two days after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two evangelicals, shared their “theological” views on the terrorist violence (transcript from the 700 club, a well-known evangelical television program in the States – September 13, 2001). Especially these comments are telling:
survivors of 9-11 attacksJERRY FALWELL: The ACLU’s got to take a lot of blame for this.
PAT ROBERTSON: Well yes.
JERRY FALWELL: And, I know that I’ll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way – all of them who have tried to secularize America – I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”
PAT ROBERTSON: Well, I totally concur…

As time went by, however, the old animosities became apparent again, until… the Evil Mastermind appeared. He was able to sense that Jesus had irritated all parties. Jesus had been everybody’s obstacle. The Evil Mastermind could turn him into the enemy of all, uniting the whole world against Jesus. “Let’s kill Jesus!” became his war cry. Thus the Evil Mastermind created peace, once again, at the expense of a sacrifice.

kruisiging-servaes

The story of Jesus could have ended here, were it not that within each faction against him, there were people who realized that Jesus had done nothing wrong. They felt guilty because they hadn’t done anything to protect him, although Jesus himself had always pointed out the danger of eliminating innocent people (scapegoats) to establish peace. Some of them claimed that they had experienced the presence of Jesus beyond his death, meaning that they experienced a second chance to protect his life, the life of the scapegoats. They started questioning the unity against the common enemy of their respective factions. They created non-violent enmity in their own household by loving their external enemy, thus opening up the possibility of a peace that is not established at the expense of sacrifice – a peace of a different world.

Lamb of God.jpg

35 comments

  1. Ra · February 12

    “The majority of Muslims is not causing any problems. More of them might when they feel attacked.”

    What other groups of people behave like that? Numerous unarmed black men are tragically gunned down every year in America, and yet we don’t typically fear that black people might start “causing problems,” probably because the consummate paragon of the African American community is the non-violent exemplar that was Martin Luther King Jr., as opposed to the violent example of Islam’s prophet of prophets, Muhammad. I am all for freedom of religion, but unlike too many in the West these days, I do not for a second underestimate the ancient imperialist ambitions of Islam’s adherents, for until quite recently I was a Muslim myself (https://youtu.be/vVQrjA0lHbs?t=13m7s). I grew up in a Muslim-majority country (https://youtu.be/cShGtgSMmjQ?t=14s). I know what is preached in the mosques every Friday (https://youtu.be/FnxVItgfgJ4?t=3m10s). Do you?

    Like

    • erik buys · February 12

      So what do you suggest? What to do with Muslims?

      By the way, did you notice the vigil of Muslims in Québec?

      Or this: http://www.timesofisrael.com/norwegian-muslims-volunteer-to-protect-synagogue/

      People are people.

      Like

      • Ra · February 13

        There is actually a middle ground between what the right is seeing and refusing to see and what the left is seeing and refusing to see (https://salamamoussa.com/2016/10/01/of-migrants-and-immigrants/). A total ban is absolutely out of the question, of course. But neither is a laissez-faire approach to multiculturalism. The key is sustained engagement and confident critique. I — as well as so many others, not only former but liberal and progressive Muslims as well — am living proof of that. Take people like us seriously. After all, unlike you, we know from reason and experience what we are talking about. You simply cannot be afraid to examine, to inquire, to offend. If other religions can be freely criticized and satirized, then making an exception for Islam, as the left has so often done, is precisely the sort of thing that drives the right further and further away from the center. Do that long enough and Trump is exactly what you’ll get. Also, Muslims can do good, yes. Nobody in their right mind would dispute that. My parents are Muslims. My siblings are Muslims. My friends and family back where I grew up are Muslims. Of course they can do good things and be good people. But your response betrays your blind spots, Erik. Do you also say, What about all those Catholic priests that did not molest children? What about all those Germans that did not massacre the Jews? What about all those Evangelicals that did not hate gay people? What about all those Mormons that did not have multiple wives? What about all those times I did not break the law? You don’t do that, do you? In fact, I am confident that it had never even occurred to you to think that, much less to say it as a defense. The absurdity of it all, the sheer abdication of reason, would be plainly self-evident. But why is it whenever someone points out a problematic feature or practice or conduct of Islam’s adherents, well-meaning people like you never seem capable of just dealing with it (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Southeast_Asia/EJ18Ae02.html), grappling with it (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/27/former-asian-leader-wont-stop-claiming-jews-rule-the-world/), processing it rationally (http://nurfarhana930.blogspot.com/2017/01/of-syrian-iraq-and-other-crises.html)? Why, instead, do you always jump straight ahead into apologetics? What explains that need to be exceptionally, impeccably obtuse when it comes to Islam? I am a gay man who has been bashed a number of times by Muslims, one time even by my own father. Tell me, do you also wish me to ponder what about all those times I was not bashed by them?

        Like

      • erik buys · February 13

        I’m questioning the way an organization like ISIL approaches Islam and western culture, because I suspect their opinions can be critiqued by other Muslims and Islam itself. Am I wrong?

        If someone would come up to me and suggest that all Muslims are potential bashers of gay people, I would react by saying that this simply isn’t true.

        Like

      • Ra · February 13

        Problems like ISIS are easy to deal with because of its obvious wrongness. Of course most Muslims are not rampaging murderers or gay bashers, whether actual or potential. No, Erik, that is not what mainstream critics of Islam are talking about when they talk about Islam’s problems with modernity. Our concern is precisely the opposite: mainstream Muslims, who are overwhelmingly traditional, and, yes, non-violent. Our concern is these perfectly respectable (https://youtu.be/e403Hn3L9CU?t=59m13s), law-abiding (https://youtu.be/fMB2sK5ChvE?t=4m56s), soft-spoken (https://youtu.be/3kDbqABvEN0?t=3m30s) Muslim leaders, these university professors and popular preachers (https://youtu.be/84w-MAOyHFE?t=25s) who believe in heinous things (https://youtu.be/Z434kGxDWkE?t=43m44s), who only show their true feelings about the society they’re living in when they think nobody outside the community is listening (https://youtu.be/By_lwNSWZu4?t=1m56s), whose views would doubtless be relentlessly lampooned if they were voiced by their Jewish or Christian counterparts (https://youtu.be/DlWlMWybdJw?t=6s). Who’s going to critique them (http://www.thelocal.dk/20151013/danish-muslims-more-devout-than-in-years-past)? People like you who are so easily disarmed by “public relations stunt, the type that seems to dupe Western audiences again and again” (http://muslimlawprof.org/2016/09/female-genital-mutilation-male-sexual-weakness/)? You see, well-meaning people like you like to talk as if Muslims had only just recently met modernity, which is patently untrue (http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/history/history-ideas-and-intellectual-history/arabic-thought-liberal-age-17981939). And yet unlike Jews and Christians, their intolerant, illiberal, traditional beliefs have remained remarkably stable after all this time: they’re virtually unchanged. That’s what we are concerned about. Not a single Muslim-majority country has a majority that thinks that homosexuality should be accepted; most, in fact, criminalize it. That should worry you. Large majorities of Muslims across the globe think that apostasy and blasphemy should be illegal. You should be vexed by that, or at least acknowledge that it’s a serious, rational concern, not an irrational phobia. Not everyone can pack their bags and leave their homeland like I did. “Civilisations die from suicide,” Erik, “not murder.” You would do well to ponder those words of Toynbee. People are not just people; people have beliefs, and beliefs, if go unreckoned long enough, have consequences. You don’t have to kill Jesus. If you had only counted the number of Christians left in Muslim lands, you would have known that for all intents and purposes, he’s already dead.

        Like

      • erik buys · February 13

        “Civilizations die from suicide…” Indeed, I point that out in the article: sacrificing yourself in order not to become a victim.

        I don’t doubt there are serious problems in the Muslim world (as there are serious problems in the western world as well).

        My question remains: what to do according to you?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · February 13

        “What to do”? As I said, sustained engagement and confident critique. Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here. Support genuinely progressive Muslim organizations (e.g. http://www.mpvusa.org/, http://musliminstitute.org/about-us/overview, http://www.quilliaminternational.com/, etc.), not deride them as self-hating native informers, as the left tends to do these days. Participate in your local mosque’s social gatherings or interfaith dialogues, which I still do even though I have exited the faith. Talk to Muslim youths and listen to them. In my experience, many have difficulties fully accepting what they’ve been taught especially about people traditionally condemned by the faith like gays and non-Muslims, particularly when what they’ve been taught to believe plainly do not fit with their actual experience interacting with gay and non-Muslim persons at school and beyond. And stop being so afraid of causing offense. If anything, they will thank you for being honest and truthful. And for the love of God, stop “All Lives Matter” Muslim issues, whether fringe ones like terrorism or mainstream ones like misogyny and homophobia. Yes, there are Christian terrorists out there but they’re not actively trying to seize territory or get their hands on nuclear weapons, nor, for that matter, is their reach — their networks, their goals — global. Yes, non-Muslims can be misogynists and homophobes too but come on, people, it’s the case of apples and oranges here (http://www.pewglobal.org/2013/06/04/the-global-divide-on-homosexuality/#where-homosexuality-is-rejected, http://68.media.tumblr.com/cae5db845a66218c6914273a598b1ff3/tumblr_o7bfjyQslO1s9p6kto1_1280.jpg). Pretending otherwise is about as Trumpian as you can get.

        Like

      • erik buys · February 13

        “Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here.”

        Where am I doing this???

        “Participate in your local mosque’s social gatherings or interfaith dialogues, which I still do even though I have exited the faith. Talk to Muslim youths and listen to them.”

        That’s what I do and what I tell my students to do.

        Like

      • Ra · February 13

        “Where am I doing this???”

        See any of your posts with any of the so-called New Atheists in them. In fact, I landed on your blog in the first place because I googled for Bill Maher.

        Like

      • erik buys · February 13

        You consider the so-called new atheists’ critique of Islam (or religion in general) as ‘rational critique’? And you take Bill Maher as an example? Come on, Ra, Bill Maher equated religion with fundamentalism in Religulous. You take him way too seriously. Time to get over my critique of his statements.

        Did you notice that I offer a rational critique of fundamentalism on this site as well? Also of fundamentalist Christians like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, by the way.

        For the record, I’m in no way a proponent of an easy multiculturalism. Also on this site, I have criticized practices like female circumcision very often, attacking the idea that it should be tolerated because of a so-called respect for other cultures. On the other hand, I’m also not ultra right-wing, as this post also makes clear.

        As for the ‘rationality’ of new atheism, take this observation by Michael Ruse (an atheist himself), for instance (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/nov/02/atheism-dawkins-ruse):

        Unlike the new atheists, I take scholarship seriously. I have written that The God Delusion made me ashamed to be an atheist and I meant it. Trying to understand how God could need no cause, Christians claim that God exists necessarily. I have taken the effort to try to understand what that means. Dawkins and company are ignorant of such claims and positively contemptuous of those who even try to understand them, let alone believe them. Thus, like a first-year undergraduate, he can happily go around asking loudly, “What caused God?” as though he had made some momentous philosophical discovery.

        From another article by Sophie Elmhirst (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation):

        The Muslim writer and thinker Ziauddin Sardar, who has debated Dawkins in the past, argued that Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists had dangerously stoked anti-Islamic sentiment in the west. “He may be worried about Islam, but he’s not nearly as worried about Islam as I am,” Sardar said. Dawkins’s generalising rhetoric about Islam was “dehumanising a community,” Sardar added, “a human community with all shades of opinion”. Dawkins might claim he only attacks the faith, not its individual believers, but in Sardar’s view his depiction of that faith denies its social and political complexity. “What he is doing,” Sardar said, “is creating a world that is more belligerent than the one we find ourselves in.” For someone like Sardar, who described himself as trying to change his faith from within, Dawkins is “undermining the kind of work that people like me do”.

        It is not just the religious who voice concern: Dawkins has begun to alienate those on his own side. Prominent non-believers, such as the philosopher John Gray, have criticised the literal-minded absolutism and intellectual superiority that Dawkins exhibits in his atheism: “Dawkins imagines an atheist is bound to be an enemy of religion,” wrote Gray in a recent review. “But there is no necessary connection between atheism and hostility to religion.” In Gray’s view, Dawkins’s dedication to science amounts to an “unquestioned view of the world” excluding, and insulting, any alternative interpretation.

        And while we’re at the supposed ‘rationality’ of new atheists, see this review on the flaws in Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2011/05/12/science-right-and-wrong/) – quotes from page 2 of the review:

        Harris’s view that morality concerns the maximization of well-being of conscious creatures doesn’t follow from science. What experiment or body of scientific theory yielded such a conclusion? Clearly, none. Harris’s view of the good is undeniably appealing but it has nothing whatever to do with science. It is, as he later concedes, a philosophical position. (Near the close of The Moral Landscape, Harris argues that we can’t always draw a sharp line between science and philosophy. But it’s unclear how this is supposed to help his case. If there’s no clear line between science and philosophy, why are we supposed to get so excited about a science of morality? After all, no one ever said there couldn’t be a philosophy of morality.)

        […]

        Of course science can help us reach some end once we’ve decided what that end is. That’s why we have medicine, engineering, economics, and all the other applied sciences in the first place. But this has nothing to do with blurring the is/ought distinction or overcoming traditional qualms about a science of morality. If you’ve decided that the ultimate value is living a long life (“one ought to live as long as possible”), medical science can help (“you ought to exercise”). But medical science can’t show that the ultimate value is living a long life. Much of The Moral Landscape is an extended exercise in confusing these two senses of ought.

        Despite Harris’s bravado about “how science can determine human values,” The Moral Landscape delivers nothing of the kind.

        As for the new atheist view of religion as one of the main causes of war (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/is-religion-the-cause-of-_b_1400766.html):

        In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare. While, for example, it is estimated that approximately one to three million people were tragically killed in the Crusades, and perhaps 3,000 in the Inquisition, nearly 35 million soldiers and civilians died in the senseless, and secular, slaughter of World War 1 alone.

        History simply does not support the hypothesis that religion is the major cause of conflict. The wars of the ancient world were rarely, if ever, based on religion. These wars were for territorial conquest, to control borders, secure trade routes, or respond to an internal challenge to political authority. In fact, the ancient conquerors, whether Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, or Roman, openly welcomed the religious beliefs of those they conquered, and often added the new gods to their own pantheon.

        The so-called new atheism is often about ideological, uncritical propaganda (see here also: https://mimeticmargins.com/2016/04/29/denkgelacherig-atheistisch-narcisme/).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · February 14

        Way to miss the point, Erik. Tell me, before Dawkins et al., was there any prominent public intellectuals who had the courage to say anything critical of Islam? Before Bill Maher, was there a single prominent media figure who had the balls to say anything critical of Islam? Name me one. You can’t, can you? They did not exist. Nobody is saying their critiques always hit the mark all the time. I cringe at some of their statements too sometimes, but at the end of the day, they are fundamentally proud rational creatures. They can learn and change their minds accordingly.

        John Waters: To me, I can understand in some way. Like I sometimes wonder moderate Muslims, aren’t they against all gay people? But still I don’t say they can’t come in. Catholics have been terrorizing me for decades, and I don’t say, “No Italians.”
        Bill Maher: That’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before.

        That was just last week. That’s an honest media figure doing a necessary public service, never afraid to go there, and, as a result, naturally ends up always being there, as opposed to his critics — smart but ultimately spineless — who are just never there for you — with you — whether you are a woman who has been genitally mutilated or a gay man who has been bashed. In a way, is that not what “Emmanuel” is? Is he not the person that Buber had in mind when he said, “The atheist staring from his attic window is often nearer to God than the believer caught up in his own false image of God”?

        Like

      • erik buys · February 14

        Way to miss the point? How so, Ra? You claim that the so-called new atheist critique of Islam is rational. When I read books by ‘new atheists’, I can’t escape the impression that they are driven by negative emotions and that these emotions highly inform their biased so-called ‘very rational’ work on religion.

        Dawkins is no scholar of religion. He’s a biologist, and you can tell by his ignorance on the topic he’s so obsessed with. After 9/11, it became easy to sell books about “the evil nature of religion”. What Dawkins et al. mostly did, was dressing up populist propaganda against religion (and Islam in particular) in an intellectual fashion.

        As for your question if there was a single prominent media figure who had the balls to say anything critical of Islam: here in Belgium we have someone like Filip Dewinter, who I also mention in this post. As a prominent spokesman of far right-wing party Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang) he has been criticizing Islam and Islamic culture for decades (the victory of his party in 1991 was referred to as ‘black sunday’ in Belgian’s political history). Most people here in Belgium don’t know Bill Maher, so I mention Dewinter.

        Mainstream media often jump on those who shout the loudest. Do you really consider Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins et al. as some kind of ‘heroes’? “They are fundamentally proud rational creatures.” What is that all about? I’m sure many people, including Filip Dewinter, consider themselves to be “proud rational creatures”. When you mention Bill Maher saying “that’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before”, do you consider that an intellectual effort? You say “they can learn and change their minds accordingly”. I’ve never heard Richard Dawkins fundamentally change or even question any of his views on religion. Of course, I forgot, he ‘owns’ the ‘objective truth’.

        Let me ask you something: did any of the writings of Dawkins et al. bring us closer to a solution regarding the problems with and within the Muslim world? [This might be linked to yet another question: what did the so-called ‘war on terror’ since 9/11 eventually bring us? Less terror threats? The invasion of Iraq ended up in the creation of a vacuum that brought us ISIS, for one thing.]

        You write about Bill Maher: “That’s an honest media figure doing a necessary public service, never afraid to go there, and, as a result, naturally ends up always being there, as opposed to his critics — smart but ultimately spineless — who are just never there for you — with you — whether you are a woman who has been genitally mutilated or a gay man who has been bashed.”

        He’s really a hero of you, isn’t he? You call his critics “spineless”. This is one of my heroes: Emilio Platti. He’s a professor emeritus of different universities. He’s an islamologist who recently wrote a little book on Islamism (Islamisme – Modern islamitisch radicalisme), succinct but based on tons of knowledge and experience within the Islamic world. He’s a Dominican, by the way. He’s there alright with the genitally mutilated woman, with the gay man who has been bashed, but he refuses to participate in a witch-hunt because that would be counter-productive. Instead, he indeed offers a rational critique of Islam, even if mainstream media hardly pick up his work. Nevertheless, he takes his responsibility. His work is there for everyone who is able to look beyond ‘the shouters’.

        Like

      • Ra · February 14

        You really do have a way of missing the point, don’t you? To many former or liberal Muslims like me, the New Atheists are akin to America: they are neither heroes nor villains, but rather anti-heroes. They see evils and injustices and they set out wanting to do something about them but from time to time they can’t help fucking things up. Sure, America has got a lot of things wrong over the past few decades but without it, the world would be ruled by German or Russian fascists right now. The same thing with the New Atheists. They may lack the impeccable knowledge of the Pharisees but when it really counts, they’re right there with the marginalized, with the genitally mutilated like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and the social outcasts like gay people. Way back in the 80s and 90s when gays were denounced as “intrinsically disordered” by the Church — and the last time I checked, we still are (“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,141 tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.” http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm) — when Christians were hailing AIDS as a divine “retribution for a repulsive vice,” as the National Review once put it, you know who was there with us, lepers, when it wasn’t exactly fashionable to do so? That godless heathen, Bill Maher. And I respect him for it. Sue me. That religion is the cause of so much grief is hardly “populist propaganda.” Anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian man in the West knows that. And so is anyone who isn’t a straight Muslim man in the Muslim world. Now, does that simple empirical fact sell books? Sure. But then again what exactly did you think Jesus was doing by going around enraging the Pharisees — these respectable men with respectable scholarship — if not selling the Gospel?

        Like

      • erik buys · February 14

        Please explain what point I’m missing.

        For the record. I never denied that the Catholic Church discriminates gay people. In fact I write about it, protest it, as I protest other traditions of the Catholic Church. Some lunatic even put me on a list of Catholic ‘heretics’ in Flanders, together with nearly every other Catholic in Flanders who’s doing some job related to religion (http://kruistocht.weebly.com/de-lijst.html). I never denied that female genital mutilation in the name of whatever religion (including Islam) is a horrendous practice that should end immediately. As I pointed out earlier, I wrote about this.

        Why am I pointing this out? Because of this statement of yours:

        “Stop equating rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims, as you often do here.”

        As you can see for yourself, I agree with the criticism that you just mentioned, made by the new atheists.

        Now, let’s get back to the point. Show me where I equate rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims. I guess you missed the point of my criticism of Bill Maher in the earlier post you mention (you can reread it here: https://mimeticmargins.com/2016/06/21/gay-muslim-twice-the-scapegoat/ – especially starting from this sentence by Maher: “To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a Mafia wife, with the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.”).

        It’s not because I agree with Bill Maher on many points regarding the evil done in the name of religion that I can’t criticize him rationally on other points or statements. Fans of Dawkins also don’t always agree with him. See for instance his sexism here (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation):

        Perhaps the greatest source of disquiet within the atheist movement – particularly in the US, where the movement, under the broad banner of “skepticism”, is more active and organised – is among feminists. Greta Christina, an American feminist and atheist blogger, first met Dawkins at an event in 2009. It was a fantasy made real. “He was the reason I started calling myself an atheist … [meeting him] was one of the proudest moments of my life.” Then, in 2011, Dawkins waded into a comment thread under a blogpost about a discussion of sexual harassment that had recently taken place at a skeptics’ conference in the US: “Dear Muslima,” Dawkins wrote to an imagined Muslim woman, “Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car … But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.”

        The attempt at satire went down badly: Dawkins appeared to be dismissing any concerns about sexual harassment (“He spoke some words to her. Just words,”) and doing so by ranking the experiences of women. He later apologised, but it marked, for Christina, a “disappointing and discouraging” turn for Dawkins, who had become, in her eyes, “so troubling, in such serious ways, and in particular so stubbornly troubling”.

        We’re all Pharisees at some point, me, you, Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher, the pope… convinced of our self-righteousness.

        Like

      • Benjamin David Steele · February 14

        @Ra – “Tell me, before Dawkins et al., was there any prominent public intellectuals who had the courage to say anything critical of Islam?”

        There really is nothing new about that. Historically Christian countries have a long history of criticism of non-Christian religions. It’s similar to the Protestant Western criticisms of Catholicism going back centuries. Whether the target is Muslims, Catholics or Jews, there has never been a lack of criticism toward specific religions that are perceived as an outside threat.

        The only difference last century was the Cold War. The great enemy of the West wasn’t religious extremists but Godless commies. So, criticism of other religions were muted. A weird dynamic happened in the Cold War. Christian extremists gained greater influence in governments like the United States and, in their fight against the Godless commies, they praised Jewish extremists and Islamic extremists.

        Ronald Reagan described Islamic extremists and terrorists as “freedom fighters” and dedicated a space shuttle to them. By the way, that space shuttle’s name, Columbia, is the name of the American goddess of liberty first mentioned in a poem by Phyllis Wheatley who was a slave (a poem directed to George Washington). Bizarrely, Reagan stated that, “These gentlemen (the Taliban) are the moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”

        It wasn’t until the USSR collapsed that a new enemy needed to be found. And it took 9/11 to put Muslims into that role of the Great Enemy in the Cosmic Battle of the West against the World. Why weren’t the New Atheists criticizing Islamic extremists during the Cold War when they were allies with Western governments? And why are the New Atheists so often supporters of the very military adventurism, interventionism, and neo-imperialism that has so often allied with and promoted religious extremism?

        http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/unworthy-victims-western-wars-have-killed-four-million-muslims-1990-39149394

        “According to the figures explored here, total deaths from Western interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan since the 1990s – from direct killings and the longer-term impact of war-imposed deprivation – likely constitute around 4 million (2 million in Iraq from 1991-2003, plus 2 million from the “war on terror”), and could be as high as 6-8 million people when accounting for higher avoidable death estimates in Afghanistan.

        “Such figures could well be too high, but will never know for sure. US and UK armed forces, as a matter of policy, refuse to keep track of the civilian death toll of military operations – they are an irrelevant inconvenience.

        “Due to the severe lack of data in Iraq, almost complete non-existence of records in Afghanistan, and the indifference of Western governments to civilian deaths, it is literally impossible to determine the true extent of loss of life.

        “In the absence of even the possibility of corroboration, these figures provide plausible estimates based on applying standard statistical methodology to the best, if scarce, evidence available. They give an indication of the scale of the destruction, if not the precise detail.

        “Much of this death has been justified in the context of fighting tyranny and terrorism. Yet thanks to the silence of the wider media, most people have no idea of the true scale of protracted terror wrought in their name by US and UK tyranny in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ra · February 14

        “Please explain what point I’m missing.”

        I conveyed to you my very restrained appreciation for the New Atheists for shining a light — however dim — on Islam’s many, many shortcomings, all while readily conceding that “Nobody is saying their critiques always hit the mark all the time. I cringe at some of their statements too sometimes.” You then mistook that highly qualified praise as apotheosis (“Do you really consider Bill Maher, Richard Dawkins et al. as some kind of ‘heroes’?”; “He’s really a hero of you, isn’t he?”), and then proceeded to deny them any credit whatsoever (“When you mention Bill Maher saying “that’s an interesting point of view I have not heard before”, do you consider that an intellectual effort?”). For the record, yes, I do consider that “an intellectual effort.” Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort. It is certainly more effort than the highly educated members of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church have exhibited when it comes to women’s and gay rights, for example, as evidenced by their official doctrinal positions on what is plainly a no-brainer: the use of condoms and contraceptives even to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. Now, THAT should not have required any effort whatsoever and yet it is oh-so-scandalous in the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the 21st century to posit that people should not die for having sex. Unbelievable.

        “Now, let’s get back to the point. Show me where I equate rational critique of Islam with irrational fear or hatred of Muslims. I guess you missed the point of my criticism of Bill Maher in the earlier post you mention…).

        Here, a rational critique: “Well, seen from Bill Maher’s perspective, you’re in big trouble if you are gay and Muslim.”
        Here, your equation with irrationality: “You shouldn’t be surprised that you experience violence because being a Muslim, being religious is, in the words of Bill Maher, being “an enabler of homophobia and violence”. Once again the (potential) victim, in this case the gay Muslim, is held responsible, this time by so-called anti-religionists, for the violence the victim might have to endure.” If you take an unpaid internship, you can’t be surprised when you don’t get paid. It logically follows that you won’t get paid. In fact, what would be illogical is if you do get paid. Similarly, if you belong to a religion that for over a thousand years has prescribed death as punishment for “you being you” and, more importantly, has shown no signs whatsoever of wavering from that consensus, then, yes, every manner of reason and every conceivable logic does say that it’s on you. You knew the risks, and knowing the risks, you assumed them — freely, without compulsion. Nobody says logic is comforting or fair; just logical. And sometimes what’s logical is cold. I mean, I should know. It’s not fair that I had to move thousands of miles away just to be safe. It’s not comforting that my own father (and extended family) hates me to the core. It’s cold as fuck. And pointing that out should not merit a clever blog post about how pointing that out makes you the bad guy. As Jean Renoir once wrote to Francois Truffaut, “That some of our colleagues would hint at some kind of immorality on your part is baffling. Stating an outcome cannot be immoral. Rain is wet; fire is hot. The resulting humidity and heat have nothing to do with ethics.” Unless you’re on the left. Then everything’s the West’s fault and never anyone else’s fault and if you don’t agree with that then you’re Shillary or something.

        “Why weren’t the New Atheists criticizing Islamic extremists during the Cold War when they were allies with Western governments?…”

        For the same reason that supremely sane people didn’t criticize the Soviets when they were our allies against the Nazis. You pick your battles and you suck it up. The last time I checked, phronesis was still a virtue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phronesis#Intellectual). The sheer lack of it among the left these days is why Trump is now president.

        “There really is nothing new about that. Historically Christian countries have a long history of criticism of non-Christian religions. …”

        Every religion does that. Historically and in many Muslim countries still today, cursing and praying for the destruction of the “yahuda wal nasara” is actually a required part of the weekly Friday sermon. In fact, it’s one of the things that decisively drove me out of the faith altogether. I have Jewish and Christian friends, after all, and I just couldn’t bear to say “Amen” to that every single week (cf. “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “May the curse of God be upon the Jews and the Christians, for they took the graves of their Prophets as places of worship.” Bukhari, 425; Muslim, 531. And he told us that when a righteous man among them died, they would build a place of worship over his grave, and install images therein, and that they were the most evil of mankind. Bukhari, 417; Muslim, 528. “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you hand span by hand span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered the hole of a lizard, you will enter it too.” We said: “O Messenger of God, do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He said: “Who else?” Bukhari, 1397; Muslim, 4822.”). Bukhari and Muslim are canonical collections, which means that Muhammad either definitely said all that or almost definitely said all that. At least that’s what Muslims believe anyway. Take from that whatever you will.

        Take care, and goodbye.

        Like

      • erik buys · February 15

        Openly gay Muslims are not against homosexuality, on the contrary. You assume that all Muslims, and it’s Muslims who ultimately define what Islam is all about (there is no central authority, also not on interpretation of the Quran) are against homosexuality. If that were the case, it would indeed follow that being a Muslim automatically equals to “being an enabler of homophobia”. However, the assumption that all Muslims (and all of Islam for that matter) are against homosexuality is contradicted by the very fact that there are gay Muslims (who truly consider themselves Muslims). Those who work from within against evil are truly ‘heroic’.

        On the topic of the Catholic Church and AIDS: Edward C. Green (senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health) and Michael Cook (editor of BioEdge and MercatorNet) both wrote interesting articles on the massive problem of HIV and AIDS in Africa, questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of African AIDS victims. More here: https://mimeticmargins.com/2011/12/06/on-blaming-the-church-for-aids/

        And, by the way… You claim about Bill Maher: “Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort.” That was what Bill Maher’s friend did, no? It wasn’t Bill Maher himself. It is much easier to consider something counter-intuitive if the way is already paved by a friend.

        Take care, goodbye.

        Like

      • Ra · February 15

        “Openly gay Muslims are not against homosexuality, on the contrary.”

        Of course not, any more a Muslim who drinks alcohol is against happy hour. But their unIslamic acts do not in any way negate the established Islamic consensus that homosexuality and alcohol consumption are grave sins traditionally punishable by death and lashing respectively.

        “You assume that all Muslims, and it’s Muslims who ultimately define what Islam is all about (there is no central authority, also not on interpretation of the Quran) are against homosexuality.”

        Islam may not have a central authority, but it does have a binding consensus (ijma’). And there is not a single doctrinal position with the status of ijma’ that has changed over the past 1,400 years of Islamic history. Not one. Muslims may not have practiced armed conquests anymore (except for ISIS etc.) but the laws of jihad still stand. Muslims may not have practiced slavery anymore (except in certain parts of Africa like Mauritania) but the laws of slavery still stand. Any Muslim who has studied the religious tradition sufficiently enough knows the central legal dictum that a revealed law can never be repealed. It may not be enforced momentarily either out of necessity (e.g. a nationwide drought might compel the state to temporarily suspend amputation of hands for theft; the end of such exceptional circumstances necessarily means the resumption of the law as usual) or ignorance (e.g. Brunei did not prescribe death for homosexuality for decades but that changed in 2014; the point is because the ijma’ has never changed, the law’s return is always a matter of when, not if) but the law is eternal as the kalamullah (Word of God, i.e. the Qur’an) is eternal and the nubuwwah (Muhammad’s prophethood) is final and indisputable. This, Erik, is one of the essential points of tawhid (theological creed) which every Muslim must affirm on pain of death. You have this common mistaken assumption — highly typical among non-Muslims, in my experience — that Islam is like every other religion. If enough Catholics believe that Mary physically ascended into heaven, then it officially becomes dogma. No, Erik, that is emphatically not the case with Islam. Muslims don’t “ultimately define what Islam is” (https://youtu.be/kUDHzdiYgws?t=10m11s). Because of ijma’ — the stable, universal knowledge that certain things are known universally by all Muslims regardless of when they live or where they are — what’s definitively Islamic has always been definitively Islamic. The first Muslims prayed five times a day; contemporary Muslims too must pray five times a day, not four, not six. The first Muslims stoned adulterers to death; contemporary Muslims too must stone adulterers to death, not hang them, not imprison them. Seventeen times a day Muslims say in their obligatory daily prayers, “Guide us to the straight path, the path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked Your anger, or of those who are astray.” That “sirat” — that “straight path,” Muslims believe — was straight then and it is straight now, hence the remarkable stability of their beliefs, of their ijma’. Indeed, volumes of traditional Qur’anic commentaries have established that “those upon whom You have bestowed favor” were the first Muslims — who are to be emulated — while “those who have evoked Your anger” are the Jews, and “those who are astray” are the Christians — who are not to be imitated, lest you too evoke God’s anger and go astray. Go ahead. Go to your local mosque and ask the resident imam whether or not I’m telling the truth. I dare you.

        “However, the assumption that all Muslims (and all of Islam for that matter) are against homosexuality is contradicted by the very fact that there are gay Muslims (who truly consider themselves Muslims).”

        Hitler considered himself a Christian. “In Hitler’s first radio address after becoming chancellor, Stern noted, he declared that the Nazis regarded “Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life” (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2006/10/08/books/review/Reiss.t.html)”. But that does not mean he was actually a Christian, or that his behavior was acceptable Christian behavior by any meaningful, canonical standards of Christianity. Traditional Abrahamic religions are not subject or even susceptible to postmodern solipsism. Just because YOU “consider” or “truly consider” or even “truly madly deeply consider” yourself a Muslim does not automatically make you a Muslim. Otherwise, the whole category of religion would become absolutely pointless if every single I-s and you-s get to subjectively decide for themselves whether or not they’re Muslims or Christians with no external objective criteria whatsoever.

        “On the topic of the Catholic Church and AIDS: Edward C. Green (senior research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health) and Michael Cook (editor of BioEdge and MercatorNet) both wrote interesting articles on the massive problem of HIV and AIDS in Africa, questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of African AIDS victims.”

        Yes, “interesting articles,” indeed. I eagerly await their next articles “questioning the assumption of some media that the Catholic Church and John Paul II in particular are responsible for millions of” unsafe abortion victims around the world. I’m sure they will be just as riveting.

        Oh, and I forgot this as well.

        “And, by the way… You claim about Bill Maher: “Welcoming people who despise the people you love is plainly counter-intuitive: as such, it does require intellectual effort.” That was what Bill Maher’s friend did, no? It wasn’t Bill Maher himself. It is much easier to consider something counter-intuitive if the way is already paved by a friend.”

        For the record, Bill Maher was already opposed to the Muslim ban even before John Waters said that. And so was Sam Harris who was on his show the week prior. I think what surprised him was how open and generous John Waters was with his hospitality, even towards people whom he knew would not touch him with a ten-foot pole if they knew he was gay (and that’s putting it quite charitably), as has been my experience sometimes. He was against the ban because he thought it was unconstitutional, counterproductive, and thus stupid. Being a proud liberal — and compared with other liberal media figures who are sometimes so self-deprecating to the point of self-hating, he is a proud and unapologetic one — he always thought we should welcome Muslim refugees on humanitarian grounds, just not without challenging their problematic beliefs and practices.

        Thank you for your time. I forgot to do that earlier. Again, take care.

        Like

      • erik buys · February 15

        First of all, thank you very much for the information contained in your latest reaction!

        Second, I agree with you that belonging to a religion cannot be defined solely by a simple nominal declaration. There are objective criteria to prove that Hitler cannot be described as a Christian, although he himself claimed to be one. There are also objective criteria (the canon law) which explain why there can be differences of opinion between the Catholic Magisterium and the People of God (the laity and the ordained members of the Church), or even within the Magisterium itself, over moral issues like homosexuality. Thus the following is no coincidence (http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_rom8.htm):

        “The magisterium is absolutely opposed to marriage equality i.e. changing laws so that marriage becomes available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. During 2008, in close cooperation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the Roman Catholic magisterium authorized the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars to promote ads in favor of Proposition 8. That was the citizen initiative that narrowly passed and temporarily banned new same-sex marriages in California. (On 2013-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned “Prop 8” because it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.)

        A national poll by ABC News/Washington Post and released on 2011-MAR-18 showed that 53% of American adults of all faiths and of no religious affiliation favored marriage equality. This represents an increase of 21 percentage points since 2004 — 3 percentage points per year.

        The same poll showed that 63% of white Catholics favored the availability of same-sex marriage. This is an increase of 23 percentage points since 2004 — more than 3 percentage points increase per year. This poll indicated that Roman Catholics are more supportive of marriage equality than are the average American by a full ten percentage points!

        With close to 2 out of 3 of white Catholics rejecting the magisterium’s position on human sexuality, one might ask who truly represents the will of the denomination?”

        Third, I wrongly assumed that a set of objective criteria like those of the Catholic Church was not possible for Islam. Thank you for informing me on the issue. But then I have a question for you (if you still have time). At the beginning of February 2017, in a Belgian television program (Van Gils en gasten, February 2, 2017 – https://www.vrt.be/vrtnu/a-z/van-gils-gasten/2017/van-gils—gasten-d20170202/#) a gay Muslim indeed claimed objectivity on the acceptance of homosexuality by Islam by referring to the Qur’an. The gay Muslim claimed that the Qur’an never forbids homosexuality, he even claimed that the Qur’an says that homosexuality exists as something that belongs to God’s creation. I found some more information here, and it seems a complicated topic: http://www.well.com/~aquarius/Qurannotes.htm.

        Still, could it be that the majority of Muslims is wrong, on objective grounds from within Islam, by discriminating against gay people? Any thoughts?

        And another question: Do you consider that gay man, who is also a Muslim, “an enabler of homophobia” like Bill Maher does?

        [P.S.: “Go to your local mosque and ask the resident imam whether or not I’m telling the truth. I dare you.” – I will.]

        Like

    • Benjamin David Steele · February 13

      This is why knowledge matters.

      Most of the terrorism committed in North America is by Christians. Anti-abortion activists for decades committed stalking, kidnapping, assault, shootings, bombings, and arson. There are and have been many Christian terrorist groups: KKK, Army of God, The Aryan Nations, The Christian Identity Movement, The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, Fighting Christian Front, IRA, Catholic Reaction Force/Protestant Action Force, The Orange Volunteers, Tamil Tigers, Lord’s Resistance Army, Anti-balaka, National Liberation Front of Tripura, Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland, United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia, etc.

      Yet in the United States Christian individuals and groups who commit violence are rarely labeled as Christian terrorists, even though in many American’s minds any Muslim or anyone committing violence who has some connection to Muslisms is by default an Islamic terrorist and the entire Islamic world has to take responsibility for their actions.

      George W. Bush declares a crusade involving two wars (the justification for one being a lie) that leads to several million innocent people killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the worst acts of state terrorism in recent history, but no one in the mainstream has the moral courage to call it what it is. Plus, the only reason anyone could suggest that Iraq had WMDs is because the US had sold them to Hussein when he was our ally and, in fact, he used those WMDs against his own people when he was still our ally. What did we do about it? Nothing.

      The US claims to be fighting terrorists. Yet some of the groups committing terror were trained, armed, and funded by the US in the past. The School of Americas has trained terrorists for decades. Two of our closest allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are terrorist states. Saudi Arabia, besides funding terrorist groups, regularly commits mass violence and publicly beheads more people than ISIS. Israel is a colony created by Britain that is one of the most violently oppressive countries in the world. One of the main reasons the US has supported Israel for so long is because American fundamentalists believe Israel will play a role in bringing the End Times.

      Most terrorism in Western countries isn’t committed by Muslims. Furthermore, most of that terrorism isn’t directly motivated by religion. Many of the white men who regularly commit mass violence in Western countries are Christians or were raised Christian. If they were Muslim or raised Muslim, we’d automatically call them Islamic terrorists. But even many of the supposed Islamic terrorists weren’t necessarily motivated religion, per se. Social, economic, and political issues drive more terrorism than does religion.

      It’s just that religion becomes an easy way for people to frame and discuss conflict. It’s hard to disentangle. Much of the right-wing violence in Europe is mixed with neo-pagan ethno-nationalism. This has roots in fascism, such as the Nazis who combined the support of Christians and neo-pagans. There is a lot of religious underpinning to racist and ethnocentric ideologes. Of course, fascism and neo-Nazism are growing movements in Europe and the US.

      Consider the Palestinians? Do they really attack Israelis because they are Jews or because they’ve been violently oppressed, had their loved ones and neighbors killed, had their land stolen, walled into ghettos, and forced into lives of poverty and desperation? The fact of the matter is Palestinians are simply the Jews who never left. They are ethnically and genetically the same as the Israelis, except to the degree that Israelis have become Westernized. Does it really have anything to do with religion or is it about a long history of colonialism and imperialism?

      Right-wingers and even surprisingly many liberals like to stereotype Muslims as inherently violent and dangerous. It’s endless fear-mongering. The fact of the matter is that Muslims commit very little violence in countries like the United States, just a few percent. American Muslims are on average less violent than the rest of the population. Statistically speaking, an American is more likely to be attacked by a white Christian and treated by a doctor who is an Arab Muslim.

      http://www.salon.com/2015/12/20/the_united_states_is_scarier_than_the_islamic_state/
      http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/05/muslims-only-carried-out-2-5-percent-of-terrorist-attacks-on-u-s-soil-between-1970-and-2012.html
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_terrorism
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-abortion_violence_in_the_United_States
      http://wonkette.com/596723/jeb-bush-not-aware-of-any-christian-radicals-pro-life-terrorists-feel-snubbed
      http://aattp.org/here-are-8-christian-terrorist-organizations-that-equal-isis/
      http://www.salon.com/2013/08/03/the_10_worst_examples_of_christian_or_far_right_terrorism_partner/
      https://newsone.com/1417755/top-10-white-christian-terrorists/
      http://theweek.com/articles/534105/what-muslims-blamed-moderate-christians-terroristattacks
      https://consortiumnews.com/2011/07/27/who-commits-terrorism/
      https://marranci.com/2008/04/14/terrorism-in-the-name-of-jesus-everybody-ignore/
      http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/9265

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ra · February 27

      Sorry, I didn’t notice your reply there. That, and I already said goodbye, you know? But since you are a generous host, I will oblige you this.

      “Still, could it be that the majority of Muslims is wrong, on objective grounds from within Islam, by discriminating against gay people? Any thoughts?”

      To me, of course the majority of Muslims can be wrong. But to them, that is impossible. As the Prophet himself said, “My people will never agree upon an error.” As a result, anything with the status of ijma’ cannot be reversed. That’s why nothing with the status of ijma’ has ever been reversed, because the ijma’ is infallible, and thus irreversible. It is the ijma’ that holds the Qur’an to be the word of God. It is the ijma’ that holds the hadiths to be Muhammad’s words. It is the ijma’ that holds homosexuality to be so uniquely forbidden that it actually has its own unique punishments in the grave (the Islamic equivalent of the Catholic purgatory). “If a homosexual dies without repentance, he is changed into a pig in his grave,” says one report. Another relates an account by Jesus himself. “It is reported that on one of his journeys, Jesus saw a man being burned by fire. He took some water to throw at him, but all of a sudden the fire turned into a boy and the man turned into a fire. Jesus was surprised by this and said: “Lord, return them in the condition they were in this world so that I may ask them about their situation.” Thereupon God revived them and they were a boy and a man. Isa asked them: “What is the situation with you?” The man replied: “Spirit of God (Ruhullah), while I was alive. I was passionately in love with this boy and used to have sex with him. When I died and the boy died, he became fire, which burns me. Then I take turn, and become fire and burn him. Thus we alternate, and this is our punishment until the Day of Resurrection.” And of course, my personal favorite. “When a man mounts another man, the throne of God shakes.” Such awesome power I have over the heavens, don’t you think?

      “And another question: Do you consider that gay man, who is also a Muslim, “an enabler of homophobia” like Bill Maher does?”

      My mother is a domestic abuse victim who till this very day has neither divorced my father nor left the religion that provides him with the legal, divine authority to do so. “Men are in charge of women by right of what God has given one over the other and what they spend for maintenance from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in the husband’s absence what God would have them guard. But those wives from whom you fear arrogance: first, advise them; then if they persist (http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/8/14546606/elizabeth-warren-mitch-mcconnell-she-persisted), forsake them in bed; and finally, strike them. But if they obey you once more, seek no means against them. Indeed, God is ever Exalted and Grand” (The Qur’an 4:34). Tell me, generous host, is she not, in her own tragic way, an enabler of domestic abuse, sexism, and patriarchy? Does she not have the agency to do something? Leave, fight back, anything? I was once one of those gay Muslims who fight back. There was no argument I had not heard. There was no interpretation I had not mustered. I tried them all. At best, they were tenuous. At worst, futile. Because ijma’. Because the majority could literally invoke infallibility. So I left. I don’t begrudge these gay Muslims who fight back any more than I do gay Christians or gay Jews who do. The difference is, substantive changes — doctrinal, liturgical, whatever — have occurred in Jewish and Christian denominations alike. Not so in Islam. How many times have you Catholics revised the liturgy? Meanwhile, Muslims today still pray as Muhammad did over fourteen centuries ago, from the things recited to the movements performed. Don’t you find that remarkable? Now that’s the stuff of The One True Religion. Consistent. Stable. Believable. No wonder Islam is growing so fast in the world while Christian churches have been hemorrhaging left and right.

      “[P.S.: “Go to your local mosque and ask the resident imam whether or not I’m telling the truth. I dare you.” – I will.]”

      So, what did HE say?

      Like

      • erik buys · 27 Days Ago

        I didn’t talk to the imam, but I did talk to a Muslim scholar recommended to me by a Muslim friend. He said, the overall principle should be that final judgment belongs to God. Man cannot take God’s position, and God is merciful beyond our imagination. Also, we cannot look in another person’s heart.

        Regarding ijma’, he told me that it is a lot more complicated than you present it.

        He sent me this link:
        http://www.islamicperspectives.com/meaningofijma.htm

        Some excerpts:

        “The truth is that there is no argument supporting ijma’ on the basis of the Qur’an and Hadith for which reputed jurists have not raised a whole series of objections.
        Now, as far as individuals are concerned, they can still lead righteous lives despite different possible answers to some questions of detail, as indeed Muslims have done throughout history. The Qur’an guarantees that everyone who has ikhlas (sincerity, honesty) and strives in the way of God (which includes controlling one’s desires, obeying the clear commandments and practicing dhikr and fikr, that is, remembrance of God and thinking and reflecting) will be protected from the devil, that is, going astray and will be shown the path of God.

        So, individuals will be able to find the way of God despite differences in matters of detail. However, often a need is felt by Muslims for collective, united, action and in such cases differences in views can be crippling. This is why the establishment of Islamic states in Muslim countries has been found very difficult. In fact, it can be said without hesitation that after the time of four rightly guided khulafa Islam has largely existed as a way of life of individuals and not of societies. Yet it is clearly an intention of Islam to shape both individuals and societies according to its principles.

        One of the purposes of ijma’ is to limit differences and to prevent them from disintegrating the Muslim society. This role of ijma’ is comparable to the role of the Pope in Catholicism. But ijma’ has not been as effective in ensuring cohesion of the society and in providing answers to new questions. This is because ijma’ is itself subject to differences of views, as we have seen above. Furthermore, it is often extremely difficult to know whether or not ijma’ on a matter has taken place, so much so that Imam Ahmad bin Hambal reportedly used to say that anyone claiming ijma’ (after the age of suhaba) is a liar. In other words, we do not know exactly what ijma’ is or what it is saying. In contrast, those who believe in papacy can know both who the Pope is and what he is saying.”

        There are different attitudes towards homosexuals among Muslims, and that shouldn’t be surprising. It has to do with the different cultures Islam finds itself in. The same goes with other religions. As we know, there’s a huge problem of homophobia in Russia, not only among Christians, but also among ‘hardcore’ secularists and atheists. So this is not a matter of belief or non-belief, it is a matter of ‘macho’ culture. It’s the same with women who fall victim to domestic abuse. Patriarchal structures don’t just disappear if religious justifications for it disappear. It has to do, again, with social dynamics underlying different cultures (religious or otherwise). Domestic abuse is still a huge problem, also in Belgium (24 % of women; 60 % of women are victims of sexual intimidation). More here: http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20140305_01010274.

        Just two weeks ago, again one of my students (I experienced this before) told me he didn’t think homosexuality was a biological thing. He believed it was something that people ‘learn’ to be. He is an atheist, so his view was not inspired by any religion.

        Of course, I could simply reply by telling him that his view was ‘backward’ etcetera. But that wouldn’t help the case against any type of homophobia. I guess that’s my main problem with the so-called ‘rational’ critique of the so-called New Atheists. I remember asking you the question whether any of the books published by New Atheists brought any improvements in the Muslim world or the world as a whole. Is there less polarization? Did the threat of terrorist attacks diminish?

        I agree with the line of thought by the following article (written by an atheist), as I have written similar articles on the subject (https://mimeticmargins.com/2015/01/25/the-fascism-of-anti-religious-utopians/):

        http://religiondispatches.org/atheisms-dark-side-aiding-the-trump-agenda/

        Some excerpts:

        “Sam Harris’ general neoconservative position, like that of Christopher Hitchens, is representative of a wing of the movement that I call the “atheist Right”—the mirror image of the Christian Right’s militaristic nationalism and libertarianism. Atheists must consider whether the views of Muslims promoted by their most prominent representatives are helping or hurting the cause of secularism, given that anti-Muslim hysteria was so effectively harnessed by the Christian dominionists who have seized control of the American government through an uneasy alliance with a secular billionaire sociopath.
        […]
        Advocating for reason and respect for science is a worthy cause in a world being torn apart by racism, nativism, and a corporate power structure that will destroy anything that stands in its way. It’s entirely reasonable to be concerned about religious extremism, but the most visible spokesmen of atheism are throwing fuel on the fire. The narrative of secularism must be rescued from those who would allow it to serve as a tool of fascism.

        Changes must come from within, they cannot be forced. So maybe we can start by imitating each other’s tolerance:

        “The issue of gay marriage in America is a tough one for Muslims. On one hand, it’s nigh impossible to construct an argument by which sexual contact between men, let alone anal sex, is considered permissible in God’s eyes. On the other hand, attempts to ban the Shariah in the U.S. threaten Muslims’ ability to have their own marriage contracts. Like gays, they want to be able to define marriage free from majoritarian cultural biases. So many Muslims are willing to support the rights of other Americans to shape marriage according to their particular beliefs. Muslims expect their beliefs and relationships to be respected in return.”

        From http://variety.com/2015/voices/opinion/islam-gay-marriage-beliefs-muslim-religion-1201531047/

        Like

      • Ra · 27 Days Ago

        Okay, Ra, my comments are “bold”.

        “I didn’t talk to the imam, but I did talk to a Muslim scholar recommended to me by a Muslim friend. He said, the overall principle should be that final judgment belongs to God. Man cannot take God’s position, and God is merciful beyond our imagination. Also, we cannot look in another person’s heart.”

        Ah, yes, the most banal, predictable, obscurantist, apologetic platitude ever. A tried-and-true way of obscuring the point (Your current pope is masterful at it). The whole point of Islamic law is precisely that “we cannot look in another person’s heart,” only his action. Coming out as gay is an action. Marching in Pride Parade is an action. A man marrying a man is an action. A man fucking a man is an action. And that action, as matter of ijma’, is irreversibly forbidden, as conceded in the very Variety article you cited (“Sodomy, understood as anal sex, was thus prohibited by the consensus of Muslim scholars”). Just spare me the whole “Hate the sin, love the sinner” sloganeering already. I’m a gay man advocating for gay rights; I’ve heard myriad permutations of the same vacuity repeated to my face ad nauseam (https://youtu.be/qY17d4ZhY8M?t=2h11m48s). That man is one of the most influential Muslim scholars in the West (http://themuslim500.com/profile/sheikh-hamza-yusuf-hanson), so no, it’s not complicated. When it comes to the ijma’ on homosexuality, it’s actually very simple. When it comes to homosexuality, it’s not complicated at all. It’s certainly not complicated for Muslims living in Muslim-majority countries, where they wield total power. What’s complicated is for Muslims living in the West: how to live as Muslims in the West believing all the Muslim things you have to believe in without coming off as complete assholes. Now that’s complicated. How to believe in reprehensible things without looking like reprehensible people is complicated. That requires clever sloganeering. But that only applies in the West (http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195390155/obo-9780195390155-0027.xml). These same Muslims living in the West would never recommend such a laissez-faire attitude about the issue — or any other issue, for that matter — in Muslim-majority countries. That is the distinction that is always, always lost on non-Muslims like you, precisely because that is the impression that Western Muslims want you to have. And you all fall for it every single time.

        “Regarding ijma’, he told me that it is a lot more complicated than you present it.”

        Go ahead, ask him to give you one instance where an ijma’ was successfully overturned.

        How can I ask him this if there is no agreement on ijma’?

        I don’t ask for a lot. Just one. Slavery, perhaps? “The last word spoken by the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is: “[Be observant of] Salah, and [be good to] those your right hands possess,” as has preceded from the narration of Ibn Majah and Abu Dawud. The permissibility of slavery, and recognition of right-hand ownership, is evident in this. Hence, there is no ruling more decisive than this, and there is no possibility of abrogation therein at all, as it is the final word of the Noble Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Thereafter, slavery remained an institution practiced by the ummah in the time of the Sahabah and those after them, and no one condemned it. Were they all – and protection is from Allah – ignorant of the verse of generosity and ransom? Was there none amongst them who understood the Qur’an?! Would they not give attention to the laws of Allah (Glorified is He)?! Can anyone conceive of this from the Sahabah, Tabi‘in, jurists and hadith-masters who spent their lives and wealth in the path of conveying the pure religion, and did not fear in that the blame of a blamer? Thus, the clear manifest truth is that taking slaves is permissible in Islam, with its laws and its limits which have preceded, and nothing has abrogated it, and there are wisdoms in this which we have explained, and the opinion of its abrogation is rejected and is against consensus, and has no proof from the proofs of the Shari‘ah” (https://www.deoband.org/2013/01/hadith/hadith-commentary/slavery-in-islam/). Hamza Yusuf is No. 33 on the list; this man is No. 6 (http://themuslim500.com/profile/shaykh-muhammad-taqi-usmani). What number is your Muslim scholar?

        To remain on the topic of homosexuality, what about this: https://shaykhatabekshukurov.com/2016/06/14/islamic-law-homosexuality-and-the-pulse-massacre/ Some excerpts:

        So just to make it clear for fans of violence as a means of sorting out moral issues such as whether homosexuality is a bad thing or not (and in Islam, like all major world religions, it is considered ‘bad’), the maximum punishment for publicly committing sodomy with a member of the same sex specified by the earliest Muslims is 39 lashes for the worst and repeat offenders only. For normal ‘classes’ of people it is nothing.

        I don’t care if people don’t like it, I am just presenting Islamic legal theory so people can see the truth and decide for themselves. The gay lobby won’t be happy at the potential for public lashing in Sharia (though same goes for ‘hetero’ couples who do the same thing so they are hardly being singled out – in fact the punishment for public hetero sex is worse than for gay sex, so I really don’t want to hear any cries of homophobia) and Salafis and their Deobandi friends won’t be happy because they want to show how much ‘against homosexuality’ they are by appearing ‘strong’ and prescribing a death penalty, even where none such exists in the largest and earliest legal school.

        My advice to the militant gay lobby is to stop making lives of homosexuals harder by demanding that everyone approve of their actions as opposed to tolerating their actions and to learn the difference between these two things. And my advice to Salafis and Deobandis is stop trying to kill everyone you don’t like and abusing name of God and Muhammad to do it. Saying that killing gays is part of Islam is not true and if you think this will ‘stop’ homosexuality then you are stupid.

        […]

        Anyway, the issue is very clear that opinion of Ibn Humam and Zailae which is opposing the opinion of Abu Hanifa and hundreds of early and latest Hanafis is rejected.

        If these people do nonetheless want to accept minority, late and rejected opinions then that is up to them but:

        -Stop claiming to follow the Salaf

        -Don’t complain when modernists and ‘sell outs’ reject the early opinions for new and later ones either.

        […]

        These people love claiming ”Consensus” where there is not any;

        Here is the book of ibn Hazm aptly called ”Levels of Consensus” where he narrates issues relating to ijma. He mentions that the scholars have disagreed regarding what to do with Homosexual.

        “There are different attitudes towards homosexuals among Muslims, and that shouldn’t be surprising. It has to do with the different cultures Islam finds itself in. The same goes with other religions. As we know, there’s a huge problem of homophobia in Russia, not only among Christians, but also among ‘hardcore’ secularists and atheists. So this is not a matter of belief or non-belief, it is a matter of ‘macho’ culture. It’s the same with women who fall victim to domestic abuse. Patriarchal structures don’t just disappear if religious justifications for it disappear. It has to do, again, with social dynamics underlying different cultures (religious or otherwise).”

        And where did these cultures and patriarchal structures come from? Ex nihilo? And how are they sustained and justified in the present? By reason? By empirical evidence? No, Erik, you know better. As one gay man once wrote, “Religions have rituals and doctrines: mechanisms of participation and belief. They also engender moral sensibilities that provide ways of normatively framing the world regarding people, places, social arrangements. Most Swedes, for example, are not believing or actively participating Lutherans, yet centuries of Lutheranism being the overwhelmingly dominant flavour of religion has deeply influenced Swedish moral sensibility” (http://skepticlawyer.com.au/2015/12/17/moral-sensibility-and-modernity/). So, yes, Russian atheists can be homophobes too, but that is only because they have been raised in a country so steep in the traditions and preferences of the Russian Orthodox Church, which forbids homosexuality and virulently scapegoats it. Milo Yiannopoulos is a perfect example of what happens when you internalize what your religion says about you. There is no better poster boy for what happens when you believe what the Catechism says about your most primal, most human act of love: that it’s “intrinsically disordered.” You reap what you sow.

        And where do religions come from? Ex nihilo? If you’re an atheist, then you have to assume that religions (their customs and their beliefs) are man-made. The suppression of women, justified by whatever, is a “man”-made thing, for instance. Sexism, homophobia etc. don’t fall out of the sky, just like that. You don’t wipe out the social, human sources of religion if you wipe out religion as such. Believing that the world would be a better place if religion is gone, is belief in an illusory scapegoat mechanism. Atheists know that religion is a man-made construct, so they should know better: the problem lies within man himself.

        “Domestic abuse is still a huge problem, also in Belgium (24 % of women; 60 % of women are victims of sexual intimidation). More here: http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20140305_01010274.”

        And there you go, “All Lives Matter” the issue again. Well done. Yes, it must be really, really hard being a woman in Belgium (just as it must be really, really hard for me being a gay man in the West compared to my previous experience living, studying, and working in five different Muslim countries). Muslim women have it so good. We all know women everywhere aspire to be just like them, between the covering from head to toe even in the midst of summer to the getting shot for wanting to go to school, from being genitally mutilated to being beaten and banned from this and that. Hashtag life goals.

        This wasn’t the point. I never said Muslim women have it so good, although I meet many happy Muslim women. FGM and other horrendous acts towards women should end, of course, and not only in Muslim settings (take FGM in Dassanech culture, for instance).

        “Just two weeks ago, again one of my students (I experienced this before) told me he didn’t think homosexuality was a biological thing. He believed it was something that people ‘learn’ to be. He is an atheist, so his view was not inspired by any religion. Of course, I could simply reply by telling him that his view was ‘backward’ etcetera. But that wouldn’t help the case against any type of homophobia.”

        First, you give him the mounting evidence that it is biological. Second, you ask him to provide you the non-existent evidence that it is learned. Third, you ask him to go home and weigh all available evidence and come back to you the next day. Finally, if he still holds his previous belief, then please by all means tell him he’s an idiot. Reason compels it. Being an atheist does not make him smart. It does not make anyone smart. Honestly, has anybody ever claimed that? Talk about a red herring.

        Did I say anything about atheism making anyone smart? Red herring, indeed. And yes, of course, that is what I do (but, as you know, giving an opinion is more important to many people than doing some research on their opinions).

        “I guess that’s my main problem with the so-called ‘rational’ critique of the so-called New Atheists. I remember asking you the question whether any of the books published by New Atheists brought any improvements in the Muslim world or the world as a whole. Is there less polarization? Did the threat of terrorist attacks diminish?”

        I’m sorry, did they say that’s what their books were supposed to do? Or are you just projecting here? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what YOU believe your Book would do. They just wanted to provoke thought, which they did. What awesome power they must have, to be able to spark a terror attack every single time they publish a book. Is this the atheist equivalent of my sex life causing God’s throne to tremble or something? Yes, yes, yes, how cartoonishly powerful we are.

        No, of course, their main concern seems to be saying how bad religions and religious people are in order to present themselves as “the people who can claim the moral high ground” (https://mimeticmargins.com/2015/11/12/an-atheist-illusion/). I once had a conversation with an atheist who went on a rant about the hypocrisy of the Muslim community in his neighborhood. The atheist lived in Suriname and apparently there was this imam from his local mosque who was a child molester. He said everybody knew about it, two years already, and no one did anything about it. At some point I asked him what he had done about it. Nothing. His moral outrage had seemed strong to me, though. In the end, it was just a way of presenting himself as “the good guy”. If he would have been truly concerned about the children, he would have tried to do something, anything. No excuses.

        Pointing out what’s stupid and immoral doesn’t make yourself “rational” or “moral”. So-called New Atheists hardly think of religion in any other way than from a fundamentalist, extremist framework. What’s rational about that? As if you would think about sexuality only in terms of rape.

        You think you know what I believe my “Book” would do? Talk about projecting. No, I’m sorry, I realize the futility of everything I do, really. All I can say, I don’t believe extremism is the answer, whether it comes from believers or non-believers. Again, this article by an atheist summarizes my own position on the matter: http://religiondispatches.org/atheisms-dark-side-aiding-the-trump-agenda/

        Like

      • Ra · 27 Days Ago

        “How can I ask him this if there is no agreement on ijma’?”

        I think you have severely misunderstood what ijma’ is, as evidenced by the fact that you quoted in bold the second sentence in this passage, “Furthermore, it is often extremely difficult to know whether or not ijma’ on a matter has taken place, so much so that Imam Ahmad bin Hambal reportedly used to say that anyone claiming ijma’ (after the age of suhaba) is a liar. In other words, we do not know exactly what ijma’ is or what it is saying.” Yes, it was difficult for people back then “to know whether or not ijma’ on a matter has taken place” because — newsflash — they lived in the Middle Ages. A scholar in Baghdad couldn’t just Skype with his peers in Medina, in Cairo, in Spain, in the rest of the sprawling Muslim empire to find out what they thought about something. But subsequent generations knew which matters have been agreed upon by scholars everywhere (http://kitaabun.com/shopping3/product_info.php?products_id=5395). In any case, this does not concern homosexuality at all because the prohibition of homosexuality was already agreed upon by the first generation of Muslims. Muhammad’s companions all believed the punishment should be death. They only differed as to how gays should be killed. In fact, it is hilarious to me that you would invoke Ahmad ibn Hanbal here, utterly oblivious of the fact that he recorded in his canonical hadith collection that infamous saying of Muhammad, “Whomever you find committing the acts of Lot’s people, kill the one doing it, and the one it is done to.” Atabek Shukurov is a Hanafi. As such, he belongs to the only school that rejects capital punishment for homosexuality, but even he can’t repudiate his school’s longstanding stance on homosexuality, which is that it is a grave sin deserving of corporal punishment the severity of which may very well just stop short of actual death. Unless you think that torture — which is what lashing, the most commonly prescribed punishment here, is — is also a perfectly good and defensible thing, that is hardly better. Also, his claim that “the maximum punishment for publicly committing sodomy with a member of the same sex specified by the earliest Muslims is 39 lashes for the worst and repeat offenders only. For normal ‘classes’ of people it is nothing” is so genuinely disingenuous I can’t even. For your information, that is only true for Hanafis. And those “earliest Muslims” he’s alluding to were Hanafis only, which contrary to his other spurious claim was neither the earliest nor the most widespread school of law back in those days. The earliest was the Ja’fari (The founder of the Hanafi school was in fact a student of the founder of the Ja’fari school, himself a descendant of Muhammad) and the most widespread school was the Maliki, the Medinan school, the Prophet’s city’s school, hence its early fame (https://www.amazon.com/Original-Islam-Madhhab-Culture-Civilization/dp/0415554071). The Hanafis only became the most widespread school today because of the Ottoman empire (they came, they saw, they conquered, they converted; what else is new). This is classic sectarian sophistry on his part, trying to make it look as if his school were the most authoritative, which it isn’t. You know what’s most authoritative? Here, enjoy.

        “The Sahaabah were unanimously agreed on the execution of homosexuals, but they differed as to how they were to be executed. Some of them were of the view that they should be burned with fire, which was the view of ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) and also of Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him), as we shall see below. And some of them thought that they should be thrown down from a high place then have stones thrown at them. This was the view of Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him). “Some of them thought that they should be stoned to death, which was narrated from both ‘Ali and Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them).”

        Hello, ISIS (“may Allaah be pleased with them,” indeed). Oops, sorry for interrupting. Here, do continue.

        “After the Sahaabah, the fuqaha’ differed concerning the matter. Some of them said that the homosexual should be executed no matter what his situation, whether he is married or not.

        Some of them said that he should be punished in the same way as an adulterer, so he should be stoned if he is married and flogged if he is not married.

        Some of them said that a severe punishment should be carried out on him, as the judge sees fit.

        Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah be pleased with him) discussed this issue at length, and he mentioned the evidence and arguments of the fuqaha’, but he supported the first view. This is explained in his book al-Jawaab al-Kaafi’ li man sa’ala ‘an al-Dawa’ al-Shaafi, which he wrote to deal with this immoral action. We will quote some of what he said:

        Because the evil consequences of homosexuality are among the worst of evil consequences, so its punishment is one of the most severe of punishments in this world and in the Hereafter.

        The scholars differed as to whether it is to be punished more severely than zina, or whether the punishment for zina should be more severe, or whether the punishments should be the same. There are three points of view:

        Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib, Khaalid ibn al-Waleed, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn al-Zubayr, ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas, Maalik, Ishaaq ibn Raahawayh, Imam Ahmad according to the more sound of the two reports from him and al-Shaafa’i according to one of his opinions, were of the view that the punishment for homosexuality should be more severe than the punishment for zina, and the punishment is execution in all cases, whether the person is married or not.

        Al-Shaafa’i, according to the well-known view of his madhhab, and Imam Ahmad according to the other report narrated from him, were of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be the same as the punishment for the adulterer.

        Imam Abu Haneefah was of the view that the punishment for the homosexual should be less severe than the punishment for the adulterer, and it is a punishment to be determined by the judge (ta’zeer).

        Those who favoured the first view, who are the majority of the ummah – and more than one scholar narrated that there was consensus among the Sahaabah on this point – said that there is no sin that brings worse consequences than homosexuality, and they are second only to the evil consequences of kufr, and they may be worse than the consequences of murder, as we shall see below in sha Allaah.

        They said: Allaah did not test anyone with this major sin before the people of Loot, and He punished them with a punishment that He did not send upon any other nation; He combined all kinds of punishment for them, such as destruction, turning their houses upside down, causing them to be swallowed up by the earth, sending stones down upon them from the sky, taking away their sight, punishing them and making their punishment ongoing, and wreaking vengeance upon them such as was not wrought upon any other nation. That was because of the greatness of the evil consequences of this crime which the earth can hardly bear if it is committed upon it, and the angels flee to the farthest reaches of heaven and earth if they witness it, lest the punishment be sent upon those who do it and they be stricken along with them. The earth cries out to its Lord, may He be blessed and exalted, and the mountains almost shift from their places.

        Killing the one to whom it is done is better for him than committing this act with him, because if a man commits sodomy with another man, in effect he kills him in such a way that there is no hope of life after that, unlike murder where the victim is wronged and is a martyr. They said: the evidence for that (i.e., that the evil consequences of homosexuality are worse than those of murder) is the fact that in the case of murder, Allaah gives the next of kin the choice: if he wishes he may have him executed and if he wishes he may let him off, but He enjoined executing the homosexual as a hadd punishment, as the companions of the Messenger of Allaah were unanimously agreed, and as is clearly indicated by the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and there is no evidence to the contrary; rather this is what his companions and the Rightly-Guided Caliphs (may Allaah be pleased with them all) did.

        It is narrated from Khaalid ibn al-Waleed that he found a man among one of the Arab tribes with whom men would have intercourse as with a woman. He wrote to Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allaah be pleased with him) and Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq consulted the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib had the strongest opinion of all of them, and he said: “No one did that but one of the nations, and you know what Allaah did to them. I think that he should be burned with fire.” So Abu Bakr wrote to Khaalid and he had him burned.

        ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: The highest point in the town should be found and the homosexual should be thrown head first from it, then stones should be thrown at him.

        Ibn ‘Abbaas derived this hadd punishment from the punishment that Allaah sent upon the homosexuals of the people of Loot.

        Ibn ‘Abbaas is the one who narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) the words: “Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Loot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.” This was narrated by the authors of al-Sunan and was classed as saheeh by Ibn Hibbaan and others. Imam Ahmad quoted this hadeeth as evidence, and its isnaad meets the conditions of al-Bukhaari.

        They said: and it is narrated that he said: “May Allaah curse the one who does the action of the people of Loot, may Allaah curse the one who does the action of the people of Loot, may Allaah curse the one who does the action of the people of Loot,” and it is not narrated that he cursed the adulterer three times in one hadeeth. He cursed those who do a variety of major sins, but he did not curse any of them more than once, but he repeated the curse for the homosexual three times. The companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) agreed unanimously that the homosexual is to be executed, and none of them differed concerning that. Rather they differed as to the method of execution. Some people thought that this difference means that they disagreed about executing him, so they narrated it as a matter concerning which the Sahaabah differed, but it is a matter concerning which there was consensus among them, not a matter of difference.”

        https://islamqa.info/en/38622

        Did you catch that? “The companions of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) agreed unanimously that the homosexual is to be executed, and none of them differed concerning that. Rather they differed as to the method of execution. Some people thought that this difference means that they disagreed about executing him, so they narrated it as a matter concerning which the Sahaabah differed, but it is a matter concerning which there was consensus among them, not a matter of difference.” I hope this settles the matter, because really, I do not have the time or the energy to be arguing arcane Islamic legal doctrines with you. It’s like amateur hour here.

        “And where do religions come from? Ex nihilo? If you’re an atheist, then you have to assume that religions (their customs and their beliefs) are man-made. The suppression of women, justified by whatever, is a “man”-made thing, for instance. Sexism, homophobia etc. don’t fall out of the sky, just like that. You don’t wipe out the social, human sources of religion if you wipe out religion as such. Believing that the world would be a better place if religion is gone, is belief in an illusory scapegoat mechanism. Atheists know that religion is a man-made construct, so they should know better: the problem lies within man himself.”

        Exactly. The problem does lie with man. But the very existence of religion also proves that the problem cannot be justified by just man. That’s why man had to invent in-human (so to speak) structures to justify — and perpetuate — the problem while pretending to be doing no such thing. Historically, those structures are religion. That group that you belong to that believes that my sexual acts are “intrinsically disordered.” Now, without religion you can’t say that, at least not with any credibility. Without religion, you can’t go around saying that with any credibility. That’s why man made religion, something outside of himself that he can point to, something he can pretend is not him. That’s why it’s always, “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”” Did you catch that? “Basing itself on.” See, man says, it’s not based on me. “Which presents.” See, man says, I’m not the one saying this. “Tradition has always declared that.” See, man says, it’s that thing that says this, or this thing that says that. That is to say, as long as you cling to these structures, the problems have no chance of really going away. That is why “My advice to the militant gay lobby is to stop making lives of homosexuals harder by demanding that everyone approve of their actions as opposed to tolerating their actions and to learn the difference between these two things” still qualifies as an “advice” in the year 2017 of the Common Era — I shudder to think what his advice would have been to Jews in Nazi Germany, or, for that matter, to women just generally — and that is why you highlighted it, doubtless agreeing with it, if only subconsciously. Now, will the problems still exist if religion ceases to exist? Who knows? We can’t know that because that has never happened. We can’t promise you that because we just don’t know. All we can do is point out what we do know, what we can all see with our own eyes, which is simply this: the more secular, liberal, and democratic a society is, the less patriarchal, homophobic, and oppressive it becomes. That is an eminently observable fact, objectively true across the board. Why? Because the more weakened that structure that is religion becomes in a more secular, liberal, and democratic society, the less credible it becomes in the eyes of man in such a society as grounds for justification for his action. Man in such a society can’t just go around hating on gays because he has no structural, religious backing anymore; because there is no credible Sacred Scripture for him to credibly base his otherwise credible hate on anymore; because there is no credible Tradition for him to credibly point to as credible grounds for declaring his otherwise credible hate anymore. How, for the love of Athena, Alexander, and Achilles, is this controversial? You can see this, do you not? Women’s struggles in Belgium pale in comparison with women’s struggles in Pakistan. I can walk around in Manhattan holding my boyfriend’s hand unscathed, but when I traveled with him to Dubai last summer, forget it; I won’t even go there (in hindsight, I really shouldn’t have gone there). Surely you can see this most obvious of things? That’s all this is. That’s all we’re doing. You like to accuse us of scapegoating religion, which is hilarious because what you are doing is even worse: you’re scapegoating reason and your own goddamn eyes. We’re pointing at a goat, yes, but at least that goat exists. We can all see it. Your goat, on the other hand, doesn’t. Kind of like your God, don’t you think? That’s no coincidence, I don’t think. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Well, unless you’re Trump supporters — who, not coincidentally, are overwhelmingly conservative and Christian (structural preservation people) — which, tellingly, is what you’re increasingly sounding like here: utterly impervious to facts and evidence. It’s all faith and belief: that Trump is good for women, etc., despite all evidence to the contrary; that religion is good for women, etc., despite all evidence to the contrary. Talk about mimesis.

        Like

      • erik buys · 27 Days Ago

        You go to the core of René Girard’s theory. Indeed, man has used gods to justify violence, sacrifices, taboos… It’s not far-fetched to suspect that the origin of belief in gods lies in the scapegoat mechanism – gods as sacralized scapegoats who allow people to escape responsibility for their own actions. Anyway, a great theory on the origin of religion for atheists: https://mimeticmargins.com/2013/12/03/girard-on-the-origin-of-religion/

        Am I impervious to facts and evidence? Where? I’m not denying any of the facts you mention. Maybe one nuance. A truly “liberal” society is a truly Christian society, in my views – which I can base on facts and evidence (the example of Christ in the Gospels).

        “But the very existence of religion also proves that the problem cannot be justified by just man. That’s why man had to invent in-human (so to speak) structures to justify — and perpetuate — the problem while pretending to be doing no such thing. Historically, those structures are religion.”

        Or secular ideologies like communism, fascism.

        What is your conclusion regarding religious people? We’re all “bad”? We’re all “Mafia wives”, “enablers of homophobia, sexism, …”? We should all stop believing in God because our belief “comes at a terrible price” (dixit Bill Maher)?

        I’m a Christian. Sue me. Do feel morally superior. Who am I in your eyes? A homophobic, a sexist, or at least an “enabler” of homophobia and sexism? Really, tell me, I want to know: do you feel morally and rationally superior? Do you look down on Christians like me? Do you despise people like me? I have never denied any of the horrible facts you like to repeat over and over and over and over. What is your goal? You don’t have to convince me of all the terrible things that happen in the name of gods. That’s just not the complete story; it would be irrational to claim that this is the full story. Atheism isn’t necessarily better, simply because atheism is amoral: https://mimeticmargins.com/2013/11/26/atheism-and-ethics/

        Maybe we can have another “rational” conversation? Why don’t we make a list of all the sexual abuse happening in the world at a daily basis and present it as “the facts that prove sexuality is evil”? Maybe we should invent medicines to suppress human sexuality? Or kill humans altogether, so the risk of evil done by humans disappears altogether?

        Is this your conclusion: Islam is bad, it would be best if all Muslims abandoned their faith? Or religions in general are bad and it would be best if all believers abandoned their faith? Thanks for the paternalism, atheist friend.

        Like

      • erik buys · 27 Days Ago

        From https://shaykhatabekshukurov.com/2016/06/14/islamic-law-homosexuality-and-the-pulse-massacre/:

        “I want to re-quote the statement of the real Hanafi scholar, Imam Abu Bakr Jassas;

        There are only three opinions about the punishment of homosexuals (and the accepted one is the first BTW);

        Ta’zeer (authentic opinion of Abu Hanifa)
        Punishment of adultery (the opinion of Abu Yusuf, Muhammad, Hasan etc)
        Death penalty regardless (the opinion of Malik and Laith)

        But no one supported burning, or throwing from the highest building,

        […]

        I think we learnt a few things from Salafi-Hanafis in the issue of alleged ‘Islamic’ punishment of killing gays:

        -Ignoring hadith and Prophet Muhammad is fine (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        – Following weak hadith is fine (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        -We can reject Salaf (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        -We can follow Kharijites such as Ikrima who call Sahabah kaafir (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        -We can be ‘modernists’ and make up new opinions (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        -We can reject Abu Hanifa and Imams (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        -We can reject logic and intellect (*but only if this helps you kill people)

        Isn’t this just complete epistemic anarchy?”

        Ra, it seems that any Muslim attempt to question your view of Islam should immediately be marginalized. Glad to know that you are one of the guardians of “true Islam”.

        Like

      • Ra · 26 Days Ago

        “Ra, it seems that any Muslim attempt to question your view of Islam should immediately be marginalized. Glad to know that you are one of the guardians of “true Islam”.

        It is richly ironic that you would accuse me of being “one of the guardians of “true Islam”” — something I have never claimed — by quoting a passage which begins with, “I want to re-quote the statement of the real Hanafi scholar, Imam Abu Bakr Jassas.” Lol at the pure sectarian sophistry here, which is about as legitimate as Sarah Palin calling small towns and red states “the real America.”

        “There are only three opinions about the punishment of homosexuals (and the accepted one is the first BTW);”

        As I said, that’s the Hanafi position, making it the minority position. Differences in punishment for homosexuality does not negate the consensus of its illegality, any more than differences in punishment for murder in America negate its illegality. Or have you become incapable of rudimentary logic now in your monumental efforts to contrive ALL THAT into “Islam is not too bad on homosexuality”?

        “But no one supported burning, or throwing from the highest building –> Isn’t this just complete epistemic anarchy?”

        Oh, Al Franken, I feel you. “When asked to comment on Sessions’s contacts with Kislyak, Franken said in a statement to The Post on Wednesday: “If it’s true that Attorney General Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in the midst of the campaign, then I am very troubled that his response to my questioning during his confirmation hearing was, at best, misleading.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/sessions-spoke-twice-with-russian-ambassador-during-trumps-presidential-campaign-justice-officials-say/2017/03/01/77205eda-feac-11e6-99b4-9e613afeb09f_story.html). For the last time, “no one” here means no Hanafi. And complete epistemic anarchy is pretending that: (1) one school’s position negates the rest; (2) the consensus on the prohibition of homosexuality is non-existent; (3) the death penalty for homosexuality is a modern Salafi invention with no sound basis in the sources of law. Were any of these true, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. And here’s another free lesson in Islamic law for you. Disputing a matter on which there is consensus is tantamount to disbelief (kufr). A Muslim who does not pray five times a day may have committed a grave sin, but a Muslim who disputes the obligation to pray five times a day has committed disbelief. Similarly, a Muslim who has gay sex may have committed a grave sin, but a Muslim who denies the prohibition of gay sex has committed disbelief. “Say, “Have you seen what God has sent down to you of provision of which you have made some lawful and some unlawful?” Say, “Has God permitted you to do so, or do you invent something about God?” (The Qur’an 10:59). Get it now why it’s futile? “And do not say, as to what your tongues falsely describe, ‘This is lawful; and this is forbidden, so that you may forge against God falsehood; surely those who forge against God falsehood shall not prosper!” (The Qur’an 16:116). I could go on. “They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides God, and also the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him” (The Qur’an 9:31). But why bother? “‘Uday bin Hatim used to be a Christian. When he heard the Prophet recite the verse above he tried to deny this and responded: ‘We did not worship them (i.e. rabbis and priests).’ The Prophet replied: ‘Did they not forbid what God permitted and hence you too forbade it; and did they not permit what God forbade and thus you permitted it?” ‘Uday replied, ‘Yes.’ The Prophet said, ‘That is how you worshiped them.’ After this incident ‘Uday embraced Islam.” So, you next?

        As for the rest:

        Secular ideologies like communism, fascism, etc. are poor substitutes for religion because we can easily remember that they are man-made, and thus recall that their flaws are man-made. That is why they could never truly last in their original secular form. They have nothing in-human to hide behind. That is why their contemporary iterations are all wedded to one religion or another, whether it’s the synthesis of communism and Confucianism in the East (http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/01/07/chinas-neo-confucianism/) or the convergence of fascism and Christianity in the West (https://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/14/world/europe/russia-orthodox-church.html). They require and indeed rely on the prestige and the antiquity of religion to be and to remain credible, and therein lies the crucial distinction between the two. Religion, precisely because of its antiquity negates easy remembrance of its human origins. Precisely because it is old that it is harder to recall that religion is man-made, thus rendering it relatively resilient to deconstruction, much less destruction. That is why I could spend the next decade arguing with you about the folly of religion without ever changing your mind and with only accusations of paternalism to show for. On the contrary, I have had heated exchanges with quite a few atheist communists myself and not once have they accused me of paternalism. That, too, is no coincidence. That is because to persuade people, they have to rely on reason as well. Religion doesn’t. Religion has gods and miracles. Religion doesn’t have to be rationally persuasive to be convincing: the mere fact that countless people, some of whom have staggering minds, have believed it throughout the ages alone is enough to be convincing; the mere fact that it has survived and thrived for centuries is miraculous and persuasive enough. And it is precisely that irrational aspect of it that makes it perennially, uniquely dangerous. Atheism may be amoral, but at least it does not claim to be moral while doing immoral things. It does not petition the judiciary to grant it special exemptions from what literally everybody else is subject to or to bestow upon it special license for discrimination because it is oh-so-moral. It does not have the nerve to call a people who are not known for blowing things up “militant,” much less the indecency to mock them right after a communal tragedy by ridiculing their fight for recognition of their full and equal dignity (“My advice to the militant gay lobby is to stop making lives of homosexuals harder by demanding that everyone approve of their actions as opposed to tolerating their actions and to learn the difference between these two things”). And you accuse me of feeling morally superior? Of paternalism? Your hell must have frozen over. But don’t worry, there’s always the Muslim hell for me to burn in. That, Erik, is my goal: to bang my head on that door until people’s mental defenses crumble and they become conscious of the fact that not only religion is man-made, it is also one of the worst things that man has ever made. It is the thing that makes people think, “If Jews/gays/women (https://islamqa.info/en/21457) are to burn in hell for all eternity, why not make their lives a living hell now?” But sure, we’re “militant” — we, who for thousands of years have been persecuted by you. What’s my “conclusion regarding religious people”? You guys are masters of missing the point. For example: “Maybe we can have another “rational” conversation? Why don’t we make a list of all the sexual abuse happening in the world at a daily basis and present it as “the facts that prove sexuality is evil”?” To which I say, why not make a list of all the suffering happening in the world on a daily basis and present it as facts that prove a loving God does not exist? Two can play this game, Erik. But it is late, and this is plainly futile on my part. For instance: “You don’t have to convince me of all the terrible things that happen in the name of gods. That’s just not the complete story; it would be irrational to claim that this is the full story.” Nobody says this is the full story; just a perennially relevant one, the mere fact of which thus distinguishes itself as a unique source of evil (perennially masquerading as good) and suffering (perennially masquerading as salvation). Plagues come and go, but religious venom remains. “He came unto His own and His own received him not” (John 1:11). There, another Holocaust just waiting to happen. Mark my words. You might even live to see it yourself. Goodbye. For good, now. Because fundamentally, you have shown not the slightest comprehension that absolutely nothing in this picture is because of religion, but rather in spite of it (https://instagram.fkul8-1.fna.fbcdn.net/t51.2885-15/e35/15624029_434615606928495_7076788725669167104_n.jpg). Thank you, all the same.

        Like

      • erik buys · 26 Days Ago

        You write: “As I said, that’s the Hanafi position, making it the minority position.”

        That said, whether a position is held by a minority or not, this is not a criterion to judge the value or truth of a position.

        You write: “Differences in punishment for homosexuality does not negate the consensus of its illegality, any more than differences in punishment for murder in America negate its illegality. Or have you become incapable of rudimentary logic now in your monumental efforts to contrive ALL THAT into “Islam is not too bad on homosexuality”?”

        This is something you have done a number of times in our discussion. You assume that I think in a certain way when I never expressed certain views. That’s your paternalism and lack of rationality. To make things clear: did I ever claim that “differences in punishment for homosexuality negate the consensus of its illegality”??? And did I ever claim that “Islam is not too bad on homosexuality”???

        You write: “To which I say, why not make a list of all the suffering happening in the world on a daily basis and present it as facts that prove a loving God does not exist?”

        Why don’t you make that a proof of the fact that mankind is evil? Certainly as an atheist you would say that, since all hell is man-made. The evil that men do is proof of the fact that a loving God would not exist? Where’s your logic? [Note: a loving God would not be all-powerful in the sense that he has “total control” – manipulated love is not love – hence: “he could save others but not himself”].

        You write: “That is why I could spend the next decade arguing with you about the folly of religion without ever changing your mind and with only accusations of paternalism to show for. On the contrary, I have had heated exchanges with quite a few atheist communists myself and not once have they accused me of paternalism. That, too, is no coincidence. That is because to persuade people, they have to rely on reason as well.”

        You see your own paternalism here? You are convinced that I don’t rely on reason because I’m a Christian. There’s no folly in this, and my explanation is rational: https://mimeticmargins.com/2015/07/05/jesus-christ-narcissist/

        You write: “Atheism may be amoral, but at least it does not claim to be moral while doing immoral things.”

        Of course not, you need ethics for that, whether religious or secular. Atheism has nothing to say on ethics because it is a-moral. It’s not better or worse than theism.

        You write: “Because fundamentally, you have shown not the slightest comprehension that absolutely nothing in this picture is because of religion, but rather in spite of it (https://instagram.fkul8-1.fna.fbcdn.net/t51.2885-15/e35/15624029_434615606928495_7076788725669167104_n.jpg).”

        Do you know this book, Gay Life & Culture: A World History? It’s beautiful! I have it in Dutch – find it here in English:

        https://www.amazon.com/Gay-Life-Culture-World-History/dp/0789315114

        As this book reveals, there have been religious recommendations for as well as discriminations against homosexuality, as there have been secular ones.

        Thank you and goodbye.

        Like

      • erik buys · 26 Days Ago

        You write: “Because fundamentally, you have shown not the slightest comprehension that absolutely nothing in this picture is because of religion, but rather in spite of it (https://instagram.fkul8-1.fna.fbcdn.net/t51.2885-15/e35/15624029_434615606928495_7076788725669167104_n.jpg).”

        Do you know this book, Gay Life & Culture: A World History? It’s beautiful! I have it in Dutch – find it here in English:

        https://www.amazon.com/Gay-Life-Culture-World-History/dp/0789315114

        As this book reveals, there have been religious recommendations for as well as discriminations against homosexuality, as there have been secular ones. So yes, homosexuality because of religion.

        From a review (https://www.theguardian.com/books/2006/nov/11/history.society):

        “Studies of Sambian, African, Melanesian and Polynesian societies, where not only is sex more generally polymorphous-perverse but sexual roles are more complex, have transformed our sense of who we are and might have been.

        The haunting figure, for example, of the North American berdache – a man, generally taller and stronger than other men in the tribe, who dresses as a woman, has sex with other men and is responsible on the battlefield for nursing the wounded and carrying the dead back to the camp – suggests a richer structure to human sexuality than the stereotypes into which gay sexuality, driven by the Pink Pound, has tended to resolve itself.

        In these pages, and those on Japan and China, a vision of a complex and embracing notion of sexuality opens up, only to be rudely shattered by the account of Islam’s approach to homosexuality.”

        Thank you and goodbye, again.

        Like

      • Ra · 26 Days Ago

        Ra, again my reply “bold”

        “And did I ever claim that “Islam is not too bad on homosexuality”???”

        So now you’re inviting your students? Say hi to them.

        I just had my students read our debate here out loud in class and one of them had this to say about that comment of yours: “One group — ONE GROUP! — doesn’t murder gays but still lashes them or whatever and his response is basically, “There, see? They’re not all bad!” and he has the AUDACITY to feign innocence (emphases hers)?”

        Did she read everything? Or just what you selected? Anyway, again: bad reading. I never used the lashing of homosexuals as an argument to say “There, see? They’re not all bad!” So, no, I don’t have the AUDACITY to feign innocence because I never ever claimed that lashing homosexuals is an argument to say “There, see? They’re not all bad!” I used other arguments. Go look ’em up, read well.

        “Why don’t you make that a proof of the fact that mankind is evil? Certainly as an atheist you would say that, since all hell is man-made. The evil that men do is proof of the fact that a loving God would not exist? Where’s your logic?”

        And to that little gem one of them had this to say: “This guy is unbelievable. Professor […] never claims that humans are all good but as a Christian, this guy DEFINITELY believes that his God is all good. And how is a good God not helping people in need although he TOTALLY could still a good God? Like, humans are capable of BOTH good AND evil right, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t believe that HIS God is capable of BOTH good AND evil TOO (emphases his)!”

        Did I claim that you believe humans are all good? Where does that come from? Missing the point, once again.

        “Note: a loving God would not be all-powerful in the sense that he has “total control” – manipulated love is not love – hence: “he could save others but not himself””

        And to that one of them quipped to a class-wide LOL, “THIS is I why I left the FUCKING Church!” “The contrivance?” I asked. “The manipulation of words, professor. It’s just breathless! One God suddenly becomes one God in three persons. Homosexuality is an abomination suddenly becomes gay is okay. This circle is square now. It’s BULLSHIT (emphases his)!” More LOL ensued.

        Ah, whenever we can have a rational conversation, the anti-theist comes up with words like “contrivance” etc. It’s too complicated when we ask specific questions? We could try, though. Let’s ask the question again: what do the New Testament Gospels mean when they claim God is revealed through Christ? What does, for instance, “God is all-powerful” mean in light of the experiences with the Christ figure? The answer is not difficult, it’s actually very simple, but if it’s still too “sophisticated”, let me know. I could refer to many texts, but I referred to Matthew 27:39-42, which says about the people passing underneath the crucified Jesus:

        Those who passed by the crucified Jesus hurled insults at Jesus, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”

        You see, the adversaries of Jesus believe that being godlike means being “all-powerful” in the sense that you have total control over everything. Like some wizard. Clearly, what this text and the New Testament as a whole make clear, is that the God revealed in Christ is not all-powerful in this sense. Through the mocking of Jesus by his adversaries, the Evangelists make clear that another idea of God is at stake when considered from the perspective that Christ “saves others, but he can’t save himself”.

        What would that say about the imitation of Christ, about love, about “God as love”? It has to do with a refusal of masochism, with the audacity of being vulnerable (because you refuse to sacrifice yourself; because you refuse to live a lie at the expense of others), with the hope of being accepted in your vulnerability (although this is not guaranteed and cannot be controlled or manipulated). But maybe this requires too much thinking for an anti-theist. I’m sorry if this seems “contrived” or too “sophisticated”. If all of this is already too “complex”, then bye bye rationality.

        Ah, kids. I’m proud of my little Hillary voters. Be well, Erik. And THANK YOU for making my day (emphasis mine)!

        Right. Choose rationality instead of populism ;).

        Happy to make you and your kids happy.

        Like

      • Ra · 26 Days Ago

        Again, my reply “bold”, Ra.

        “Did I claim that you believe humans are all good? Where does that come from? Missing the point, once again.”

        That was inferred in reverse from what you said here, “Why don’t you make that a proof of the fact that mankind is evil?” and here: “Why don’t we make a list of all the sexual abuse happening in the world at a daily basis and present it as “the facts that prove sexuality is evil”? Maybe we should invent medicines to suppress human sexuality? Or kill humans altogether, so the risk of evil done by humans disappears altogether?” As another student pointed out before, sexuality, like the mind, is contentless. What we do with them is up to us. Religion isn’t, though. Religion literally has books with words and contents in them: good and evil ones. And that, right there, is precisely the problem, because religion doesn’t claim that its contents are both good and evil at the same time. The gospels don’t claim to be both good news and bad news at the same time. On the contrary, religion claims to be good entirely, that God is good entirely, which, as she pointed out, is “mind-boggingly untrue.”

        The analogy still holds, even if sexuality and the mind are “contentless” (I don’t think I would agree with that statement, but anyway). What we do with religion is also up to us. Or, more generally speaking, what we do with our culture. We’re all born in a particular culture, speaking a particular language. We can use that language for good or for evil. If we use sexuality or religion or culture for evil, then we are to blame. You write “religion doesn’t claim that its contents are both good and evil at the same time”. It depends. Scripture doesn’t directly serve as a basis for morality in the Catholic Church. Belgian Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, the famous physicist and founder of the “Big Bang” hypothesis, puts it quite succinctly (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8847):

        “The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less – some more than others – on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors in historic and scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if the errors related to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them… The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects, is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.”

        That’s why, regarding moral and scientific questions, the Church teaches that we should rely on our loving and rational faculties, which, it is believed, transcend our particular cultural situation. In becoming a better human by developing those transcending faculties of love and reason I become more and more an image of the Divine (I’m sorry, that’s what I believe). I don’t have to agree with certain passages in Scripture, nor with the pope on moral issues, because neither tradition nor authority are the ultimate criteria for morality.

        In short, there is “good and bad” (scientifically and morally speaking) in Scripture as part of the Christian religion, and this is acknowledged (see the above statement by Lemaître) by that very same religion.

        Humans, on the other hand, are capable of both good and evil and are painfully aware of it. That’s why it makes no sense to wipe out humanity. Religion, as evidenced by its texts and its traditions (e.g. “Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”), has no such awareness. You might — religious people might, yes — but that is only because you are human, not because you are religious. It is, in other words, because of your humanity, and in spite of your religion. Indeed, it is precisely because humanity redeems itself in spite of religion — it is precisely because you think that gay is okay in spite of what your religion vehemently insists — that your hypothetical suggestion makes no sense and exposes itself as missing the point.

        There are objective criteria (the canon law) which explain why there can be differences of opinion between the Catholic Magisterium and the People of God (the laity and the ordained members of the Church), or even within the Magisterium itself, over moral issues like homosexuality. Thus the following is no coincidence (http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_rom8.htm):

        “The magisterium is absolutely opposed to marriage equality i.e. changing laws so that marriage becomes available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. During 2008, in close cooperation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the Roman Catholic magisterium authorized the expenditure of tens of millions of dollars to promote ads in favor of Proposition 8. That was the citizen initiative that narrowly passed and temporarily banned new same-sex marriages in California. (On 2013-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned “Prop 8” because it violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.)

        A national poll by ABC News/Washington Post and released on 2011-MAR-18 showed that 53% of American adults of all faiths and of no religious affiliation favored marriage equality. This represents an increase of 21 percentage points since 2004 — 3 percentage points per year.

        The same poll showed that 63% of white Catholics favored the availability of same-sex marriage. This is an increase of 23 percentage points since 2004 — more than 3 percentage points increase per year. This poll indicated that Roman Catholics are more supportive of marriage equality than are the average American by a full ten percentage points!

        With close to 2 out of 3 of white Catholics rejecting the magisterium’s position on human sexuality, one might ask who truly represents the will of the denomination?”

        “Happy to make you and your kids happy.”

        They like you actually. Well, some of them at least. They just think you’re way too optimistic, or as one of them describes you, “infuriatingly Christian.” Understandable, of course: she was genitally mutilated in the name of the One True God. “Where was his God?” she said. Where, indeed.

        It’s just sickening and terrible that she is a victim of that awful religious custom. However, I don’t believe that the God of Christ is on the side of those who perpetrate FGM. I would never believe in a God who justifies such behavior. Where was the God of Christ? As far as I’m concerned, that God is present in the love of those who liberated her from an oppressive culture, present in the love of those who want to end FGM, present in the self-respect of a person who knows that being mutilated is completely wrong – even if everybody in her culture thinks it’s good and she is considered bad for condemning FGM. That’s what I believe when I look at the figure of Christ in the Gospels.

        “Did she read everything? Or just what you selected?”

        Every single word on this page. She even gave me a hug afterwards. “For you and your mom,” she said. And that is that. 🙂

        To make my position clear, I’m on her side: https://mimeticmargins.com/2014/02/17/a-womans-uncanny-valley/

        Thank you for tolerating me as a Christian :).

        Like

      • Ra · 26 Days Ago

        I think the NRA would agree with you, Erik. “What we do with [guns] is also up to us.” It is, in a sense, true, isn’t it? “We can use [guns] for good or for evil.” Especially when you’ve never been hurt by guns. “If we use [guns] for evil, then we are to blame.” But it’s different when you have. And that, just that, is all I’m trying to say. Thank you 🙂

        Like

      • erik buys · 26 Days Ago

        You’re right, Ra:
        “What we do with [guns]/[words] is also up to us.” It is, in a sense, true, isn’t it? “We can use [guns]/[words] for good or for evil.” Especially when you’ve never been hurt by guns/words. “If we use [guns]/[words] for evil, then we are to blame.” But it’s different when you have. Indeed, look at the children committing suicide after being bullied through the internet: http://www.cyberpesten.be/tags/zelfdoding-na-cyberpesten. And that, just that, is all I’m trying to say, Ra. Thank you too 🙂

        P.S.: the NRA is right that guns can be used for good; the question is whether everybody, besides law enforcement agencies, should have the right to carry guns. I would not agree with the NRA on this issue. The same with drugs. Not everybody should have the right to prescribe drugs, for instance. Regarding “words, language, religion, culture, sexuality…” – these phenomena are accessible to everyone, which makes it harder to avoid abuses. I think education and open dialogues are needed. Creating taboos is counterproductive.

        Like

  2. Benjamin David Steele · February 13

    The challenge with genuine understanding, as always, is a lack of context. The Middle East along with the entire Arab and Islamic world has experienced a long history involving:

    * The WWI destruction and divvying up of the Ottoman Empire, European imperialism and colonialism, transnational corporate resource exploitation;
    * Military enforced neoliberal and neocon globalization, Cold War proxy wars and wars of aggression, invasions and occupations, foreign interventions and covert operations, foreign-supported coups and assassinations, foreign support of militant groups;
    * Western alliances with brutal authoritarian states, Christian countries intentionally promoting Islamic extremism by killing moderates in order to fight the Godless Commies, the overthrowing of secular governments;
    * Mass destruction of entire countries by Western powers sending vast populations into desperate poverty, foreign destabilizing of the region in order to maintain geopolitical control;
    * Et cetera.

    On top of that, there is climate change droughts that have further contributed to economic, social, and political problems. And it has been the US and European countries that have contributed the most to that climate change. This is just one small part of a vast externalization of costs. Refugee crises have been caused or contributed to by the actions and consequences of American and European governments. These refugees have been forced into a state of utter desperation.

    Then Westerners are surprised that desperate people act desperately. They shouldn’t be surprised as the same thing is happening among populations in Western countries, as economic and political problems worsen everywhere. This is why homegrown right-wing violence is growing faster in the West than any foreign threat.

    Does any of this come up in mainstream media reporting and mainstream political debate? Do those who criticize Muslims ever offer any evidence that they have the barest knowledge of the larger context? Rarely, if ever.

    Liked by 1 person

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