2013-04-25

Terrorism Facts, #1: How Radical Islamists Justify Killing Civilians, even Muslims

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by Neil Godfrey

Ironically people who identify Islamic terrorists with the “true beliefs of Islam” are (unknowingly) serving as mouthpieces for those terrorists. The fact is Islamic terrorists believe they alone represent true Islam and that the vast majority of those who profess to be Muslims deserve to die. Those terrorists would love nothing more than to hear everyone say it is they who demonstrate what true Islam is really all about! (All other Muslims, far from being “enablers of extremism” or “potential killers themselves” are really on their way to Hell, they say.)

Mohammed M. Hafez

This post shares some of the main findings of an article published in the peer-reviewed Asian Journal of Social Science 38 (2010) 364-378, “The Alchemy of Martyrdom: Jihadi Salafism and Debates over Suicide Bombings in the Muslim World”, by Mohammed M. Hafez.

(The terms ‘radical Islamists’, ‘jihadists‘ and ‘Jihadi Salafists‘ are used interchangeably. The terms exclude other Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood movements and Islamic nationalists such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.)

This post covers three ways radical Islamists justify the killing of Muslims in their attacks —

  • their redefinition of Islamic piety, apostasy and heresy,
  • how they come to define their acts as martyrdom rather than suicide,
  • and how they unearth various texts of medieval scholars to justify the killing of civilians.

I trust readers will acknowledge the parameters of this discussion and not impute more into it than is concluded and for which evidence is advanced. There is far too much ignorant lunacy and dangerous fear-mongering being spread across the internet — not least from public intellectuals (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, and co.) who ought to know better — and this series of posts on Vridar is the first of several that will attempt to shed some light on the actual facts, that is, the findings of scholarly research as published in reputable scholarly media.

The need for justification

We all need to justify what we consciously decide to do. Many of us even know of experiments that indicate we are unaware of the real reasons we decide to do X or Y and that the reasons we express, with conviction, can be demonstrated to be after-the-fact rationalizations. So human behaviour is not always a simple matter. That’s why so many different perspectives can add to the complexity of our understanding of ourselves — sociologists, anthropologists, historians, psychologists, economists, biologists . . .

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The debate among radical Muslims

M. M. Hafez begins his article by noting that jihadists have, since the 1970s, become increasingly cruel and indiscriminate towards even fell0w (radical) Muslims, and have accordingly had to defend themselves against accusations unjustifiable killing. This has produced a rather bizarre debate among the most radical Islamists themselves!

At the heart of these debates is a central paradox.

  • On the one hand, radical Islamists must anchor their violence in classical Islamic texts and traditions in order to uphold their image as bearers of authentic Islam and as followers of divine commandments.
  • On the other hand, the classical Islamic tradition imposes constraints on many aspects of their violent activism. (pp. 364-5, my formatting)

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Classical Islam’s constraints

 

Against suicide

Quran 4:29-30: ‘Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: For verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful! If any do that in rancor and injustice, — soon shall We cast them out into the Fire: And easy it is for Allah.’

A Prophetic tradition cited in Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari: ‘And whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell Fire.’

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Against killing fellow Muslims

Quran 4:93: ‘If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever). And the wrath and curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.’

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Against killing non-combatants

Quran 2:190: ‘Fight in the path of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for God does not love transgressors.’

Also in a Prophetic tradition quoted in Sahih Muslim: ‘It is narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah that a woman was found killed in one of the battles fought by the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He disapproved of the killing of women and children.’

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The intellectual father of Jihadism and his three arguments

Muhammad al-Maqdisi

Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the infamous mentor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the name behind many suicide terrorism attacks in Iraq before he was killed by the U.S. air-force in 2006, is linked to several tracts on suicide attacks that are published on the Tawhid wal Jihad website. [The Tawhid wal Jihad is now archived; perhaps http://jihadology.net/category/tawhed-ws/ has superseded it? — Neil, 7th August, 2015]. M. M. Hafez has distilled this diverse literature to three fundamental rationales that have become “the basis for Jihadi Salafist violence in the Muslim world”:

  1. their redefinition of Islamic piety, apostasy and heresy, to allocate most Muslims to the categories of “tyrants, apostates, heretics and infidels”;
  2. their defining of their terror acts to mean “martyrdom” instead of “suicide”;
  3. and how they unearth various texts of medieval scholars to justify the killing of civilians, including Muslims.

1. The meaning of Piety and Apostasy in Islam

Extremist or violent Islamists believe that mere verbal profession of faith is not enough. One must also demonstrate both a heart-felt sincerity and observable actions before one can be considered a true Muslim.

So who or what is their measure of being a true Muslim according to all three criteria?

Answer according to these radical jihadists: Go back to the very first seventh century Caliph, Abu Bakr. He was a Muslim, so goes the argument, but he was compelled to fight wars against others who claimed to be Muslims because they refused to pay the alms tax! That is, Abu Bakr judged people by their works, or lack thereof, and not solely on their words. So goes the argument.

Now in mainstream Islam repentance for apostasy makes one immune from the death penalty. But for Al Qaeda in Iraq, the “authority” of a thirteenth/fourteenth century scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), repentance is possible only when Muslims are in control! So, in the case of Iraq, as goes the argument, Americans are still in control, or at least those serving American interests are still in control, so Iraqi Muslims under their rule have no opportunity for repentance!

 

The Terrorist argument

Quran 5:51: ‘O you who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends: they are friends of each other; and whoever among you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.’

This is the verse that Islamist terrorists use to justify killing any Muslim whom they deem to be submitting to the will of America.

According to [Al Qaeda in Iraq] one of the violations that place Muslims outside the creed is giving support to unbelievers over believers. By siding with the non-Muslims against the Muslim insurgents, the Iraqi forces have forfeited their claim to being Muslims and have become apostates. (p. 367)

Is there any Room for Repentance? — the debate

 

Unfortunately, in the eyes of Al Qaeda in Iraq the answer for most Muslims is “No”.

However, [Al Qaeda in Iraq] defines support for the occupation and the existing regime in very broad terms that place nearly every Iraqi who is not an insurgent into the circle of enemies. (p. 368)

Even the highest ranking Shia Muslim in Iraq, al-Sastani, and all his supporters, are said to give at least tacit verbal assent to the existing regime in Iraq, and is hence an apostate!

Even if one who professes to be a Muslim in word and heart, and who has never allowed a single thought contrary to Islam to cross his mind, has at the same time offered any form of support at all for the invaders of Iraq, then that person is an apostate and worthy of death. Thus saith this extremist thinking.

Zarqawi justified the mass slaughter of Shia Muslims because many of them had volunteered to join the Iraqi security forces.

Zarqawi went so far as to declare all Shia Muslims to be enemies of true Islam because the Shia sect rejected the first three Caliphs of Islam —

These three, unfortunately for Shia Muslims, are the three pillars of the Sunni Muslims.

Also unhappily for Shia Muslims, they also have the temerity to question the chastity of ‘Aisha, a wife of the Prophet Muhammad.

Finally, Shia Muslims are bad because they “hurl invectives” at Abu Hurayrah, a favourite historical figure/transmitter of Sunni traditions for Sunni Muslims.

Zarqawi went so far as to declare masses of Muslims to be “excommunicated”, in effect no different from “infidels”, and thus worthy of death.

This question was addressed as far back as the early years of jihadists. One such Jihadi Salafist, Abu Basir al-Tartusi, clearly distinguished between collective “apostasy” and individual faithlessness in a 1994 publication, Foundations of Takfir. (Online booklist here.)

Abu Basir al-Tartusi

Al-Tartusi — the debate continued

Al-Tartusi argued that individuals could not be deemed apostates simply because they were part of a greater collective that was deemed heretical. So though Shia Muslims were declared heretical because of their doctrines, though any Muslim who did not actively advocate the rule of Islamic law in their nation was declared apostate, and though any Muslim who aided infidels against Muslims was also an infidel, no individual Muslim could be denounced as worthy of death unless and until a very long process had been followed.

Al-Tartusi insisted that no individual could be declared apostate — even if it were obvious to all and sundry that their beliefs and actions amounted to outright apostasy — until eight conditions had first been met. And if eventually a person’s behaviour is found not to be covered by any of those eight conditions, the accuser of that person must adhere to strict requirements with respect to (1) alerting the presumed apostate to their sin, and (2) in establishing the truth of their charge,

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif is another radical Islamist who has since repented of his past jihadist program, and who (at the time of Hafez’s 2010 article) is serving time in an Egyptian prison for his past activities. He is well known for his arguments against much terrorist violence, especially against Al Qaeda.

Al Tartusi cannot stop jihadist violence. But he can at least attempt to set up intellectual speed-bumps against it.

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2. The difference between Martyrdom and Suicide

Islam strictly prohibits suicide. So how to “suicide terrorists” justify their actions?

Jihadi Salafists begin by pointing out that the Quran honours the martyr: 2:207; 3:169; 4:69; 4:74; 4:95-96; 9:20-22. Hafez singles out two passages that are the most cited in this connection:

Martyrdom

Quran 9:111: ‘Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the Garden (of Paradise): they fight in his cause, they slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth . . ..’

Quran 2:154: ‘And call not those who are slain in the way of Allah ‘dead.’ Nay, they are living, only ye perceive not.’

On top of that, Allah calls upon believers to fight against unbelievers with whatever powers or abilities they have, even their lives:

Quran 2:216: ‘Fighting is commanded upon you even though it is disagreeable to you. But it is possible that you dislike something which is good for you and that you love something which is bad for you. God knows, but you know not.’

So what is the difference between suicide and martyrdom?

As they put it, there is a fundamental qualitative difference between the intentions of a person committing suicide to kill oneself and one committing suicide to kill ‘enemies of Islam and Muslims.’

  • The former is a depressed person who has given up on life and cannot bear his hopelessness. His suicide is about escapism, the deviation of a weak mind.
  • Martyrs, on the other hand, are about noble sacrifice by strong-willed individuals. (pp. 371-371)

So the fundamental difference between suicide and martyrdom is “intentionality“.

On the the Tawhid wal Jihad website mentioned above Abu Qatada al-Falistini has made the difference clear. Imagine, he says, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad who is seriously wounded in battle and finding the pain unbearable. The wounded soldier falls upon his sword to end his pain. That, argues Abu Qatada, is a selfish act; it is suicide. By killing himself he benefited no-one but himself.

However, now imagine a soldier in battle who, after hearing the words of Muhammad promising great rewards of martyrdom, rushes towards the enemy ranks and plunges himself into them in order to become a martyr himself. Such an act has many benefits for the army of Muslims. It can cause consternation amongst the enemy who see how recklessly courageous Muslim soldiers are and lead them to be less likely to attack Muslims in future, or even surrender; it can inspire fellow Muslim soldiers to be just as courageous.

The inconsistency

Hafez makes the appropriate observation:

It is remarkable to note the self-interested and contradictory ways Jihadi Salafists employ and dismiss the notion of human intentionality.

  • In the case of killing fellow Muslims (discussed above) those deemed ‘apostates’ are killed regardless of their intentions or reasons for their conduct. The intentions behind their actions are dismissed as irrelevant as long as their manifest conduct appears to be in violation of major Islamic principles.
  • In the case of suicide bombings, however, the outward appearance of violating major Islamic principles against self-immolation is treated as secondary to the intention of the bombers. It does not matter that the suicide bomber is killing himself, as long as his intention is to raise God’s word on earth.

This shifting methodology clearly reflects the tendentious nature of Jihadi Salafist interpretations of Islamic tradition. (p. 373, my formatting)

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3 (a). Killing Civilians

Jihadi Salafists (and even some who have come from the Muslim Brotherhood tradition) have used the following to justify killing of civilians:

Traditions involving catapult attacks on positions where civilians may be present and the “night raids” in Sahih Muslim: ‘It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: “They are from them.”‘

Quran 16:126: ‘And if you take your turn, then punish with the like of that with which you were afflicted.’

The other side of the debate

We met Abu Basir al-Tartusi above and he appears here again to argue against those who continue in the same violent path he once trecked. Here he is joined by Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (also mentioned above as the tutor of al-Zarqawi).

Abu Basir [al-Tartusi], for instance, argues that there are unequivocal . . . verses and traditions that are absolute . . . in their command not to intentionally kill civilians. Therefore, one should not use verses subject to multiple interpretations . . . or rulings by scholars to override the clear and absolute Quranic and Prophetic commands. Doing so elevates the rulings of fallible scholars over clear commands by infallible divine beings. (p. 374)

Al-Maqdisi argues that the “night raid” rule covers the exceptional cases and is not the rule. The implied rule is that combatants can normally distinguish between enemy soldiers and civilians and are thus expected to avoid arming the latter. Further, if this tradition requires Muslims to be very careful to avoid harming unbeliever civilians, how much more careful should they be in avoiding harm to Muslim civilians.

3 (b). Killing Muslim Human Shields

The killing of Muslim civilians has been justified as follows: “The scholars” have decreed that it is legitimate for Muslim armies to kill other Muslims “if they are serving willingly or unwillingly as human shields for invaders.”

Al Qaeda in Iraq have interpreted this ruling to allow them to kill Muslims in public spaces, since it argues that the enemy (occupation forces) are hiding behind Muslim citizens in market places etc. If such attacks were to stop for fear of harming Muslims, then the enemy powers would win by default. No attacks could be made against them at all.

This outcome harms the ‘collective’ interests of Muslims by allowing unbelievers to control Muslim lands and wealth and inflict humiliation and suffering on the entirety of the Muslim nation. (p. 375)

Jihadi Salafists extend the logic of this argument to justify self-sacrifice. This is the argument expressed by Al-Zarqawi up till his death in 2006, though it had been made numerous times before him, as is evidenced on the Tawhid wal Jihad website. The argument runs as follows.

  • It is wrong to kill a fellow Muslim for two reasons: the harm done to the one killed and the harm done to the murderer.
  • It is also wrong to kill oneself, but in this case the only harm done is to oneself.

Therefore . . . .

  • It is a greater wrong to kill other Muslims than to commit suicide.

Given this hierarchy of sins,

  • If it is permissible to kill Muslim human shields,
  • It must be even more permissible to commit the lesser sin of killing oneself — If it is done to benefit Muslims and the cause of God.

But all is debatable

Others who have been down this path have pulled back and argue against it. So Abu Basir al-Tartusi has argued that this rule allowing the killing of human shields comes with four tight strings attached:

  1. If there is any way to fight the aggressor without harming human shields then that way must be followed;
  2. It must be clear that not harming the human shields results in a greater harm to Muslims generally;
  3. The benefit from killing human shields must be “absolutely clear and undisputable” — not a “mere possibility or a probabilistic outcome.”
  4. If the above three conditions are met, it is permissible to kill the human shields but only if the intent is to kill the enemy, not the Muslims.

Conclusion

Al Qaeda and its affiliates have come under intense fire even from other militant Islamists (their friends) as well as their foes because of their killing of civilians, especially Muslim civilians. Hafez addresses their responses to some of these criticisms but I will not go into all the justifications of the jihadists here. The above material gives us the idea.

So let’s conclude with Hafez’s own words:

In sum, Jihadi Salafists’ interest in justifying a deadly tactic has led them to rely opportunistically on ambiguous traditions and rulings subject to stringent conditionality in order to circumvent more clear and absolute verses and prohibitions of Islam. Rather than approach historical rulings and traditions from the point of view of reconciling them with clear verses and traditions that counsel against indiscriminateness and cruelty in warfare, they choose to ignore context, conditionality and theories of jurisprudence to opportunistically frame suicide attacks as martyrdom in the path of God. (p. 378)

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Neil Godfrey

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83 Comments

  • 2013-04-25 00:33:32 GMT+0000 - 00:33 | Permalink

    Ironically people who identify Islamic terrorists with the “true beliefs of Islam” are (unknowingly) serving as mouthpieces for those terrorists. … Those terrorists would love nothing more than to hear everyone say it is they who are demonstrate what true Islam is really all about!

    Who are these people (other than the terrorists of course) who identify Islamic terrorists with the “true” version of Islam?

    • 2013-04-25 00:51:08 GMT+0000 - 00:51 | Permalink

      If the cap fits, wear it.

      • 2013-04-25 00:51:53 GMT+0000 - 00:51 | Permalink

        I’m not aware of anyone who the cap would fit. Who are you thinking of?

      • Thinker
        2015-12-06 04:01:52 GMT+0000 - 04:01 | Permalink

        If there are an estimated 200,000 (very generous) ISIS fighters, and an estimated 35,00 Taliban (again high end) and an estimated 20,000 Al-Qaida from a population of 1.57 billion Muslims. That makes 255,000 terrorists a 0.00016% of the population. To taint ALL THE MUSLIMS with the same brush is like saying ALL white males are gay (as 10 % of them are) or All white British men are SEX TOURISTS as MOST of them are in Thailand.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-12-06 05:35:54 GMT+0000 - 05:35 | Permalink

          Even 20,000 al-Qaeda is well above any estimate. Jason Burke (The New Threat, 2015) tells us that they number in the hundreds today, certainly no more, well below even 1000.

    • 2013-04-25 01:46:12 GMT+0000 - 01:46 | Permalink

      Well, to quote Coyne:

      “How many times do we have to learn this lesson? By all accounts the Tsarnaev brothers were creditable students, good athletes, and seemingly nice people. That is, of course, until they fell into the grips of Islam.”

      http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/islam-apparently-behind-boston-bombing/

      Who was behind the Boston bombings? Murders? Terrorists? Losers? Jerry knows. Jerry says:

      “Well, Islam now seems to really be behind what happened in Boston.”

      For a certain group of Very Brave and Very Smart People who see themselves as speakers of the truth and defenders of the West, it isn’t even a matter of which Islam is the “true” version. No, for them it’s all one thing, and it’s all bad. It’s different. It’s worse. It “grips” the weak-minded in its clutches.

      And for those of us who take issue with Coyne’s sweeping statements, we’re just making it worse. We’re enablers and collaborators. We’re Muslim-lovers.

      What “lesson” are we supposed to have learned? Just what does he mean by that? What new behavior do these Very Brave and Very Smart People want us to adopt? Have we been too tolerant?

      How far will this re-education take us? Should we close our borders to Muslims? Should we force them to leave or may they move to “safe” zones and live under curfew? Surely that is only a first step toward our safety. These Boston guys looked white. If they had been wearing armbands, we would have known better.

      Since it has nothing to do with politics or economics, I suppose there’s no reason we can’t escalate the Drone War. Which countries should we bomb? How far are these Very Brave and Very Smart People willing to take us?

      And before you accuse me of going too far, remember that this rhetoric — that Islam is a uniquely violent, uniquely dangerous, and monolithic thing (a very bad thing) that should be hated and feared — is a short step away from the rhetoric that you’ll hear from the far Right. The only difference is that one set of Islamophobes actually tells you exactly how they want you to channel all that fear and hatred.

      Our Very Brave and Very Smart Islamophobes tell us worry about the creeping menace of Islam, and they tell us we need to “learn lessons.” But they’ll leave it to you to figure out what to do about it.

      • 2013-04-25 01:56:17 GMT+0000 - 01:56 | Permalink

        So you are suggesting that Coyne (and perhaps Dawkins and Harris, as mentioned in the article) think that the terrorists’ version of Islam is the “true” version of Islam?

        I suspect that you’re wrong, I’m fairly sure that Coyne et al would see all versions of Islam as false. Surely one has to be a Muslim to believe that there is a “true” version of it?

        This reminds me of those who try to claim that Dawkins agrees with fundamentalist Christians that the Bible should be read as literally true. Again, I’m fairly sure that Dawkins thinks the Bible should be read as false (regardless of interpretation).

        • 2013-04-25 02:04:13 GMT+0000 - 02:04 | Permalink

          By “true” we meant “original, authentic, or real” not “non-false.” I suspect you already knew that.

          We’re told that “Islam is behind the bombings.” Many Muslims would read that and say, “That’s wrong. ‘Real’ Islam condemns murder.”

          But Coyne has read the Quran. He knows better. “True” Islam, he would tell us, is in a constant state of holy war with the West, and we’d better “learn our lesson.”

          • 2013-04-25 02:30:35 GMT+0000 - 02:30 | Permalink

            As far as I’m aware, Jerry Coyne has never said that the terrorists’ version of Islam is the “true” version, nor has he said that it is the “original” or “authentic” or “real” version. Shouldn’t we be careful not to strawman?

            What Coyne did say is that, by the testimony of the younger Boston bomber himself, Islam (as understood by the bombers) was a major part of their motivation.

            • 2013-04-25 03:29:58 GMT+0000 - 03:29 | Permalink

              The terms Coyne has used are (1) “Islam” and (2) “Moderate Islam.” Do a search on his blog for more info.

              He clearly doubts that there really is such a thing as “moderate” Islam, which is why he usually paints with the broad brush. “Islam” does this and “Islam” does that.

              So your point that “Jerry Coyne has never said that the terrorists’ version of Islam is the ‘true’ version” misses the mark. Jerry simply says it’s “Islam.”

              I know you’re fascinated with this “true Islam” thing, but could I get you to weigh in on the bigger question here? That is, if Islam is this dangerous creeping menace, and we’re supposed to learn a lesson from the Boston bombings, then:

              1. What’s the lesson?

              2. What am I supposed to do about it?

              • 2013-04-25 04:38:37 GMT+0000 - 04:38 | Permalink

                The terms Coyne has used are (1) “Islam” and (2) “Moderate Islam.”

                And in the post linked to above he uses the term “extremist Islam”, as in “most of us suspected that extremist Islam might be behind the bombings”.

                So your point that “Jerry Coyne has never said that the terrorists’ version of Islam is the ‘true’ version” misses the mark. Jerry simply says it’s “Islam.”

                Yes, one aspect of Islam. Tell me (and when answering bear in mind that Muslims are a very small proportion of the population of the US), when you heard that the Boston bombers were linked to extremist Islam, were you surprised? Of course there were other possibilities, the US has a lot of wacko groups after all, but was anyone actually surprised? If you weren’t, then that alone demonstrates a link between Islam and this sort of act.

                if Islam is this dangerous creeping menace, and we’re supposed to learn a lesson from the Boston bombings, then: 1. What’s the lesson? 2. What am I supposed to do about it?

                I don’t claim to be an expert on the best response, but since you ask I suggest: (1) recognise the issue; don’t howl down as “Islamophobes” anyone who says that there is a real problem. (2) Abandon the “religion is a good thing” idea that still permeates much of the West; instead insist that religions and their roles in society need to be assessed on their merits, not treated with automatic deference. And:

                (3) Here I am speaking particularly of my country, the UK: Don’t segregate children into “faith” schools according to their parents’ religion! We’ve had huge problems for generations in Northern Ireland, perpetuated to a large extent by the practice of segregating children into Catholic and Protestant and putting them into different schools, to grow up as separate communities. Why oh why is the government now doing the same, extending “faith” schools, separate schools for children of Catholics, and for children of Protestants, and segregating children of Muslim parents into separate schools to be controlled by religious groups?? — all on the idea that, since religion is a good thing, the children should be taught in and expected to participate in “their” religion.

                PS On the UK news just now, 3 extremist Islamists jailed today for plotting terrorist attacks. Such news is no longer a rare event, it’s usually well down the running order these days.

              • 2013-04-25 05:19:11 GMT+0000 - 05:19 | Permalink

                Just a quick note in response:

                I actually was surprised to find out who set the bombs in Boston. I thought the fact that it happened on tax day and in the same city as the original Tea Party occurred was a strong clue. But Chechens? Really? Totally surprised. And I was totally wrong.

                On your points:

                1. I can agree there is a problem with extremist Muslims who are dangerous and need to be stopped. I’m for doing everything within the law to prevent them from doing harm. But I’m concerned that when people replace “violent extremist terrorists” with “Islam,” then we risk alienating the people that can help us the most. And we fan the flames of nativist crackpots who jump at any excuse to purify the race and protect the fatherland.

                It’s too dangerous to back down. So, no, I won’t using Islamophobe and Islamophobia whenever I see it.

                2. I don’t think religion is a “good thing.” But I would prefer moderate Christianity over fundamentalism. And I would much, much prefer moderate Islam over extremism.

                3. I don’t know what the answer is on separate schools. It’s happening here in the U.S., too, as our public schools crumble. Religious tolerance and religious freedom dictate that we let people worship as they choose. Not only that, but parents have a right not to have the state tell their children what to believe.

                It would be nice to say that children have the right not to be indoctrinated with horsecrap, but what’s the alternative? Some “Brave New World” where philosopher kings decide what kids need to believe? There’s no good answer.

              • 2013-04-25 05:27:40 GMT+0000 - 05:27 | Permalink

                But Chechens? Really? Totally surprised.

                But were you surprised by the Islamist link?

                Not only that, but parents have a right not to have the state tell their children what to believe.

                I don’t agree with that, at least not if it means that parents have a right to prevent children encountering a different viewpoint. I would argue that children have a right to a secular education, not an education that is about reinforcing the parents’ prejudices. It is particularly children whose parents have one strong opinion (religion, politics, whatever) who can benefit from encountering other views. Education is about being taught how to think, not what to think.

              • 2013-04-25 05:38:25 GMT+0000 - 05:38 | Permalink

                Yes, I was surprised at the radical Islamist link. Here’s why:

                1. No organization took credit for it right away. Usually, when it’s a terrorist group (Islamic or not), they like to claim credit. The objective, after all, is to instill fear and anger. When nobody stepped up, I assumed it was some homegrown amateurs.

                2. Some of the early photos from the blast scene showed double paned glass that was damaged, but only the first pane was blown away. That would indicate a bomb that probably had less force that your typical Iraqi IED. I would have expected radical Muslim terrorists to have planted bigger bombs and do much more damage.

                3. There’s nothing about the Boston Marathon that makes much sense in the way of targets. They attacked the WTC because it was a center of finance. They attacked the Pentagon because it’s the center of U.S. military power. Sometimes they attack mass transit just to kill large numbers of people in crowded area, but the Marathon? Why? I have to say my immediate thought was the Olympics bombing in Atlanta, but then I remembered it was April 15.

              • 2013-04-25 05:54:16 GMT+0000 - 05:54 | Permalink

                On the day it happened I put it (in conversation with a friend) at about 50:50 between Islamists and a McVeigh-like figure. I’d have been way more surprised if it had been Jews or Hindus or Sikhs or bird watchers or horse-racing enthusiasts or used-car salesmen.

              • 2013-04-25 19:57:14 GMT+0000 - 19:57 | Permalink

                I too assumed they were independent copy cat criminals in view of the types of constant violent crime in America appearing daily in our news. Effectively they were I suppose. That is, they were independent copy cat criminals. I can’t imagine the terrible problems the oldest brother would have had to cope with, being brought to America at such a time in his own life (late teens), at such a time in history (after the twin towers). What was his English like and how ‘welcoming’ were Americans to this young …. Muslim?

              • 2013-04-25 09:59:06 GMT+0000 - 09:59 | Permalink

                It’s Jerry’s declarations on the innate evil and dire threat of “Islam” with no apparent purpose other than to rouse fear and hatred (what else is his reason for writing as he does if he constantly leaves these two questions — “what’s the lesson?” and “what are we supposed to do about it?” — open?) that leads me to wonder if his posts could be challenged in a court for violating race/religious hate legislation. Except of course he’s not under Australian jurisdiction. Just wondering.

              • 2013-04-25 17:42:50 GMT+0000 - 17:42 | Permalink

                … what else is his reason for writing as he does …

                Getting people to accept that there is an issue is a worthwhile and sufficient reason (particularly as there is a willing chorus always ready to deny any link with Islam).

                … leads me to wonder if his posts could be challenged in a court for violating race/religious hate legislation.

                Especially when some even want to criminalise anyone pointing out these links with Islam!

              • 2013-04-25 18:01:57 GMT+0000 - 18:01 | Permalink

                So what should we be doing, Coel? What does Jerry tell us to do? We have this great threat — what do we do about it? Please give us an answer!

              • 2013-04-25 18:06:25 GMT+0000 - 18:06 | Permalink

                I’ve given one answer as regards policy in my country: don’t have religiously segregated schooling, don’t have “faith” schools, have secular schooling. But I don’t pretend there’s a simple and easy solution to put the whole world to rights.

              • 2013-04-25 18:12:13 GMT+0000 - 18:12 | Permalink

                That sounds like it would work. So we should all out campaigning for a change to the British education system. Presumably we should also be realistically campaigning to make it illegal for parents to pass on any religious beliefs to their children.

                And what do we do if Muslim kids are still Muslims after they’ve finished schooling? What do we do in the years we are waiting for them to finish school? Now we are all scared of them, what do we do about them now?

                But please help Jerry Coyne’s fellow citizens. What should Americans do?

              • 2013-04-25 18:48:57 GMT+0000 - 18:48 | Permalink

                So we should all out campaigning for a change to the British education system.

                Yes!

                Presumably we should also be realistically campaigning to make it illegal for parents to pass on any religious beliefs to their children.

                You are really, really good at this straw-manning, aren’t you!

              • 2013-04-25 20:36:16 GMT+0000 - 20:36 | Permalink

                What I try to be reasonably competent at is checking the facts and coming to certain types of conclusions in the light of solid research. There are many pie-in-the-sky “solutions” advocated by this or that political party — and education is one popular whipping boy. What I’m asking is for is a plan of action that is grounded in some empirical evidence.

                The evidence that IS available indicates that after Muslims have been compulsorily schooled in the state/public system that terrorist attacks will continue unabated if that’s all that is done. Your “solution” hangs not on research data but on two prejudicial beliefs: one about the nature of “Islam” and the other about the nature of humans and/or Muslims.

              • 2013-04-25 21:18:57 GMT+0000 - 21:18 | Permalink

                Your “solution” hangs not on research data but on two prejudicial beliefs …

                You really are supreme at straw-manning! I didn’t present it as a “solution”, indeed I explicitly stated that “I don’t pretend there’s a simple and easy solution to put the whole world to rights”.

              • 2013-04-26 06:23:57 GMT+0000 - 06:23 | Permalink

                My point is that you are saying we face this menacing threat of “Islam” — yet the evidence presented in the post here is that the threat of terrorism comes from extremists who operate and think outside the mainstream of “Islam”. They are finding rationales for their actions — religious cover for their actions — by turning to opinions of this or that old scholar to get around the views and understanding of the clearest passages in the Quran. They do NOT, as some simple-minded bigots say, simply read the violent passages in the Quran and say, “There, I must kill some infidels.” They are the evidence that that is NOT how they think — contrary to what ignorant western critics say.

                There is no “Islam”. There are many factions within Islam and the bulk of Islamic believers have no time for these terrorists — the terrorists are quite prepared to kill them as easily as they might by happenstance kill you. The menacing threat we face are these extremists. Not Islam. That’s what the evidence indicates.

              • 2013-04-26 07:09:53 GMT+0000 - 07:09 | Permalink

                “They do NOT, as some simple-minded bigots say, simply read the violent passages in the Quran and say, « There, I must kill some infidels. » They are the evidence that that is NOT how they think — contrary to what ignorant western critics say. “

                Of course not, because some Muslims decide to support the Jihad financially or with words of encouragement rather than by actually fighting.

              • 2013-04-26 08:00:09 GMT+0000 - 08:00 | Permalink

                Unless you start addressing the evidence and arguments expressed in the posts I am going to have to consider entering you into the spam bin where other trolling bigots go.

              • 2013-04-26 17:43:57 GMT+0000 - 17:43 | Permalink

                They do NOT, as some simple-minded bigots say, simply read the violent passages in the Quran and say, “There, I must kill some infidels.”

                Do you ever do anything other than strawman?

              • 2013-04-26 18:22:33 GMT+0000 - 18:22 | Permalink

                I encourage you to argue your case. I think from the context it is clear that yes, I am for the sake of argument agreeing we are talking about “believers in Islam” and that we are also talking about Muslims, who whether by some bent of commission or omission or supine support, are approving of terrorist murders.

          • 2013-04-25 02:42:33 GMT+0000 - 02:42 | Permalink

            PS I note the way that Coyne is accused both of thinking that the terrorists’ version is the “real” version of Islam, and of thinking that Islam is monolithic.

          • Jason Goertzen
            2013-04-25 03:55:17 GMT+0000 - 03:55 | Permalink

            “By “true” we meant “original, authentic, or real” not “non-false.””

            This is an obvious distinction without a difference. Coyne, Harris and Dawkins wouldn’t recognize one or another brand of Islam as more or less authentic or “real” than another either. I don’t think Coyne would insist on radical Islam being the “true” form of Islam, by any definition. You’re reading in what isn’t there.

            He would likely agree that radical Islam is just as plausible as moderate Islam–that its reading of the Koran is as (in)valid as the text-twisting apologetics that imagine the Koran to espouse modern values–but this isn’t agreeing with the terrorists; it’s just contradicting the opposite claim, that the radicals “don’t count” as Islam (“Islam is a religion of peace!”), because their beliefs are inconsistent with the moderate form of Islam–a classic case of the no-true Scotsman fallacy.

            Yet if one refuses to embrace this ‘logic,’ one is branded an “Islamophobe,” and ones opinions are dismissed as irrational fear, rather than a considered reading of the evidence. And yes, if we’re counting, that’s another fallacy.

            Finally:

            “How far will this re-education take us? Should we close our borders to Muslims? Should we force them to leave or may they move to “safe” zones and live under curfew? Surely that is only a first step toward our safety.” Really, Tim? This is a textbook slippery slope fallacy. You’re simply not bothering to understand what the people you disagree with are saying. I guess it’s easier to just imagine them as paranoid, hateful people. But you’re better than that.

            • 2013-04-25 04:41:48 GMT+0000 - 04:41 | Permalink

              This is an obvious distinction without a difference. Coyne, Harris and Dawkins wouldn’t recognize one or another brand of Islam as more or less authentic or “real” than another either. I don’t think Coyne would insist on radical Islam being the “true” form of Islam, by any definition. You’re reading in what isn’t there.

              I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time getting this point across. The question is not whether Islam is factually true; it’s a question of who gets the trademark. The moderates in the Islamic world think the extremists have a perverted view of Islam. The extremists think the moderates are not true believers. It doesn’t matter a bit whether you or I think any form of Islam is “factually true.”

              Now Coyne has covered the topic of moderate Islam several times. He often prefaces the term with the pejorative “so-called.” He clearly doubts that “so-called” moderate Muslims exist. So (and this part really isn’t all that tricky), if moderate Islam is a fiction, then “real” Islam is the one espoused by the terrorists. After all, that’s why we’ve been seeing all these comments both here and on Coyne’s blog that put scare quotes around “religion of peace.” And that’s why we’re told continually that Jihad is “right there in the Quran!”

              . . . it’s just contradicting the opposite claim, that the radicals “don’t count” as Islam (“Islam is a religion of peace!”), because their beliefs are inconsistent with the moderate form of Islam–a classic case of the no-true Scotsman fallacy.

              I’m not in a position to say whether one form of Islam has more of a claim to authenticity than another. What I do know is that there are factions, and that as far as I can tell, the vast majority of Muslims condemn terror and murder. That is not to say that those vile criminals who kill and maim innocent people don’t think they’re true Muslims, too.

              Yet if one refuses to embrace this ‘logic,’ one is branded an “Islamophobe,” and ones opinions are dismissed as irrational fear, rather than a considered reading of the evidence. And yes, if we’re counting, that’s another fallacy.

              The only “logic” I have asked anyone to embrace is the clear fact that Islam is not all one thing, that it is not uniquely evil, and that it does not represent an existential threat to Western Civilization. However, if you think that otherwise, then I would appreciated it if you’d tell me what to do about it.

              Really, Tim? This is a textbook slippery slope fallacy. You’re simply not bothering to understand what the people you disagree with are saying. I guess it’s easier to just imagine them as paranoid, hateful people.

              We have been told that Islam is dangerous, a creeping threat to our existence, that it wants to take over the world. I have been linked to sites that make me blush with disgust and anger. I do not think everyone who posts anti-Islamic comments here is consumed with hatred. However, I do think most are acting out of fear on limited information.

              Let us suppose for a minute that Islam is an existential threat. Why would that fact not, at the very least, demand containment? After all, speaking as an ex-Cold Warrior, we encircled the Communist world for several decades until we had successfully strangled the beast.

              If Islam really is incompatible with the secular, modern world, then for the love of Cthulhu will somebody please tell me what I’m supposed to do!

              • 2013-04-25 05:18:44 GMT+0000 - 05:18 | Permalink

                He [Coyne] clearly doubts that “so-called” moderate Muslims exist. So (and this part really isn’t all that tricky), if moderate Islam is a fiction, then “real” Islam is the one espoused by the terrorists.

                You are drawing implications that aren’t entailed. In doubting that “moderate” Islam exists Coyne is perhaps saying that any doctrine that doesn’t accept church-state separation and religious freedom, and which thus regards apostasy as criminal, is not “moderate”. By this standard, most Islam is not moderate.

                However it could still be vastly more moderate than terrorism-supporting Jihadis. Thus he could be of the opinion that Islam ranges from not-really-moderate to hyper-extreme (in the same way that American political parties range from right-wing to hyper-right). That is not at all the same as saying that the Islam espoused by terrorists is either the only Islam or the “real” Islam.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-25 05:57:15 GMT+0000 - 05:57 | Permalink

                “The question is not whether Islam is factually true; it’s a question of who gets the trademark. The moderates in the Islamic world think the extremists have a perverted view of Islam. The extremists think the moderates are not true believers.”

                Nobody gets the trademark. That’s the whole point. The various interpretations and branches are all equally wrong; but that’s what happens when you believe irrational, superstitious dogmas, based on “authority”: everyone comes to their own beliefs, and simultaneously imbues their own interpretation with the full weight of the *word of God/Allah.* Everyone else is seen as not just misguided or mistaken, but wrong–and often morally wrong for being wrong. But we, from the outside, need to recognize the various branches, at least, as having the same trunk and roots (faith, and a cryptic holy book).

                Coyne and others use “so-called” to refer to moderate Islam not because he doesn’t think it exists, but because a lot of what gets called “moderate” still includes homophobia, terrible sexism, and even anti-semitism. Many of the “moderates” show seriously insufficient condemnation of terror and murder, as Neil’s own statistics showed (though he, and I still can’t see how, found them *encouraging*). Just as with Christianity, Islam runs the spectrum from dangerous and intolerant, through merely judgmental and irrational, to being just religious window dressing for what is otherwise essentially secularism. But again, that’s the point–this exactly what you’d expect when you hand people “faith” as a valid justification for belief, and hold up intolerant books as the word of God: a broad spectrum of dogmatically held, diverse and contradictory positions. The fact it doesn’t ALWAYS do harm doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be honest about what the source of the harm is, when it does.

                So just as Coel said, the goal is to be more honest in our public criticism of religion. Nobody’s advocating forcing people to give up their faith, or persecuting religious people: only calling a spade a spade, and not allowing fallacious reasoning to distance religion from the harm it causes. Faith, dogma, and the belief in supernatural authority that are a serious problem; but they will continue to be the default belief system for the majority of people when even those who don’t share these beliefs are unwilling to attribute the harm to religion merely because it is sometimes benign.

              • 2013-04-25 06:25:25 GMT+0000 - 06:25 | Permalink

                Many of the “moderates” show seriously insufficient condemnation of terror and murder, as Neil’s own statistics showed (though he, and I still can’t see how, found them *encouraging*).

                In a recent poll, Americans were asked their views on torture, assassination, and the use of weapons of mass destruction. As Chomsky says, terror is the weapon of choice by the strong. Nothing terrorizes a population like finding random bodies of tortured prisoners in your streets every morning. Except, perhaps, waking up to find that the CIA has murdered your president.

                Onto the numbers:

                “25 percent of Americans would stop the next terrorist plot with a several-hundred-kiloton atomic bomb” (let God sort ’em out?)

                “27 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should torture prisoners captured in the fight against terrorism”

                “25 percent of Americans believe in waterboarding terrorists” (a war crime, as you no doubt recall)

                69 percent are “willing to assassinate known terrorists”

                http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/25/torture_creep

                (I don’t find these numbers encouraging, by the way.)

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-25 06:28:00 GMT+0000 - 06:28 | Permalink

                I agree. This is awful. I think American nationalism is an ideology on par with any religion for the stupidity and intolerance it produces. I think the World Wars are sufficient evidence of the harm nationalism can do, though. 🙂

              • 2013-04-25 06:36:26 GMT+0000 - 06:36 | Permalink

                I bring these numbers up, because it’s difficult to do these things without killing innocent people. I mean, when we hear that a Palestinian “terrorist” was assassinated by a rocket that was fired into his apartment building, it’s worth remembering that these aren’t “smart weapons.”

                The Pentagon, BTW, can tell you the number of expected civilian deaths for most weapons used in close urban combat. They can tell you how much “collateral damage” you can expect if you rain down on a city with dumb “iron bombs.” These numbers are fairly accurate, but rarely discussed. Most Americans have accommodated themselves to this grisly calculus.

                I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard an American say, “Well, they attacked us on 9/11.” They?

                It’s chilling.

            • 2013-04-25 05:47:11 GMT+0000 - 05:47 | Permalink
              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-25 06:34:36 GMT+0000 - 06:34 | Permalink

                Most of this worries me too. There are certainly people who criticize Islam out of ignorance and fear. But not everyone who criticizes Islam does. Ironically, you seem to be painting Islam’s critics with the same broad brush the right wing nutters are using to portray Islam.

              • 2013-04-25 06:39:32 GMT+0000 - 06:39 | Permalink

                I criticize those critics who lump all Muslims into one “Islamo-bogeyman.”

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-25 07:30:46 GMT+0000 - 07:30 | Permalink

                Yet when they explicitly say that they don’t, you insist that they do, no matter what they say.

                If they refer to “Moderate Muslims” you take it as proof the author separates moderates from “real, non-moderate Muslims,” this without their explicitly saying so. If they don’t, you criticize them for lumping all Muslims into one monolithic entity. It seems to be lose-lose.

                You don’t seem to make room for the category of critic who understands that *Islam* can be the problem without *all Muslims* being the problem. You equate criticism of Islam with criticism of Muslims. Muslims are the first victims of Islam, just as Christians are the first victims of Christianity. Only the most liberal Christian isn’t saddled, for instance, with unnecessary guilt about natural sexuality. It isn’t the people that are the target of the criticism. It’s the ideas that infect them–and idea that sometimes mutates into something pretty awful.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-25 07:31:34 GMT+0000 - 07:31 | Permalink

                *ideas that sometimes mutate. Yikes. The horrors of half-editing a sentence. “Editorial fatigue,” I believe Mark Goodacre calls it? 🙂

              • 2013-04-25 08:58:23 GMT+0000 - 08:58 | Permalink

                How can “Islam” be a problem at all unless there are also Muslims. Without Muslims Islam would be no more “a problem” than Baal worship. We can’t say Islam is a problem without implicating all adherents of Islam. We know from our experience Christianity and the Bible that people will find what they want to believe in the Bible to justify both their prejudices and their virtues. That’s how people are. But not Muslims, it seems. “They” have problematic ideas that infect their minds and natures while external factors that impact on their livelihoods and identities have precious little to do with it, we are told.

              • 2013-04-26 06:36:44 GMT+0000 - 06:36 | Permalink

                “We know from our experience Christianity and the Bible that people will find what they want to believe in the Bible to justify both their prejudices and their virtues.”

                Which is what Mohammed did with the Bible: he took the worst of the Bible and put it into a new “holy book” that contains all the violence with none of the virtue.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-26 08:36:25 GMT+0000 - 08:36 | Permalink

                “How can “Islam” be a problem at all unless there are also Muslims. Without Muslims Islam would be no more “a problem” than Baal worship. We can’t say Islam is a problem without implicating all adherents of Islam. ”

                Neil, this is a strange and illogical argument. It’s one that stubbornly ignores the nature of belief, and the nature of “danger.” Drinking and driving isn’t dangerous because it gets people hurt and killed every time. It’s dangerous because it gets people hurt and killed enough times that we say “it’s dangerous.” An idea doesn’t need to make EVERY adherent dangerous or harmful before we can call it a dangerous idea. It only needs to cause a problem enough of the time. It’s a blatant double-standard to refuse the labels “dangerous” and “harmful” to an idea simply because some–or even most–people manage to hold it without causing harm on its account. Most people manage to believe in Islam without being harmful for it. But an old friend of mine used to drive home drunk nearly every night without every getting into an accident: that didn’t make it a good idea.

                People who believe in the healing power of prayer are mostly harmless… but some believe it and so don’t take their children to the doctor. Belief in the healing power of prayer is dangerous precisely because this *subset* of its adherents cause harm *because they believe it*. It is, therefore, an idea the world would be better off without. This is true without needing *everyone who believes it* to do dangerous things. So it is with believe in Allah, Mohammed, and the Koran. The world would be improved if everyone spontaneously stopped believing these things, *even though most people who believe them are not dangerous.*

                It’s also too easy to focus on the single greatest harm–violent terrorism–where it’s the tiniest minority. But belief in Islam causes harm in many other ways, from perpetuating gender stereotypes, and anti-homosexual sentiment, to justifying racism against the Jews–and these things at far greater frequency than terrorism. Ideas can be bad and harmful because they promote, justify, and sustain other bad ideas. It would be fallacious to reject the TRUTH of something because of its consequences–but when we believe an idea is FALSE, and we see that its belief can lead to terrible consequences, it is not fallacious to consider that false belief harmful.

              • 2013-04-26 08:45:42 GMT+0000 - 08:45 | Permalink

                “…but when we believe an idea is FALSE, and we see that its belief can lead to terrible consequences, it is not fallacious to consider that false belief harmful.”

                The problem is when someone doesn’t believe the bad idea to be false….and I’m getting the impression that Neil is a Muslim who believes the idea (Islam) is completely true and who only pretends to be an atheist as part of his Jihad against the West. Go ahead and ban me, Neil; its still the truth and more and more people will see it as you continue to post your nonsense posts defending your fellow Jihadis.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-26 09:27:11 GMT+0000 - 09:27 | Permalink

                “….and I’m getting the impression that Neil is a Muslim who believes the idea (Islam) is completely true and who only pretends to be an atheist as part of his Jihad against the West.”

                Oh, boy. I recently criticized Neil for jumping to the conclusion that people who weren’t convinced by his arguments were just being closed minded. But this takes the cake. You might want to get that paranoia checked out. It’s not good for you.

              • 2013-04-26 10:15:53 GMT+0000 - 10:15 | Permalink

                Jason writes: “An idea doesn’t need to make EVERY adherent dangerous or harmful before we can call it a dangerous idea.”

                Neil: My point is — as your analogies indicate — that we cannot separate the dangerous nature of ideas from those who hold them. Otherwise the discussion becomes entirely hypothetical, theoretical, irrelevant to the real world.

              • 2013-04-26 12:16:55 GMT+0000 - 12:16 | Permalink

                “My point is — as your analogies indicate — that we cannot separate the dangerous nature of ideas from those who hold them. Otherwise the discussion becomes entirely hypothetical, theoretical, irrelevant to the real world.”

                I understood that to be your point, but it’s either trivially true or obviously false.

                All beliefs, dangerous or otherwise, are believed by people. But since you raised it as an objection to my point that you can call a belief dangerous without implicating everyone who believes it, identifying them as dangerous people, the suggestion is that you believe I’m wrong about this–that I’m required to apply any adjectives I use to describe a belief also to those who believe it. IF this is what you think, it’s obviously wrong, and blatantly fallacious.

                “Drinking and driving is dangerous, because it often gets people killed.”

                Therefore, everyone who drinks and drives kills people.

                See the fallacy?

                “Belief in Islam is dangerous, because it often incites people to acts of violence and intolerance.”

                Therefore everyone who believes in Islam is violent and intolerant.

                Same fallacy.

                But if this is NOT what you think, if you’re just objecting that we can’t forget that beliefs are believed by real people, then okay, you’re right, but it’s a trivial point that has no bearing on what I was saying–it’s an ironically academic thing to point out.

              • 2013-04-26 12:25:55 GMT+0000 - 12:25 | Permalink

                My point was an attempt to address the claim that critics of “Islam” are not criticizing people but only the “ideology” of Islam.

                My point is that the things said about “Islam” very often do amount to fear-mongering and propagating ignorance about people.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2013-04-27 09:19:45 GMT+0000 - 09:19 | Permalink

                “My point was an attempt to address the claim that critics of “Islam” are not criticizing people but only the “ideology” of Islam.”

                But the claim was not that (all) critics of Islam are not criticizing people. My claim was that *some* critics of Islam are not, and that you often lump those who don’t with those who do—even when the people who don’t are explicit that they don’t. In your reply, you even faintly suggested that criticism of Islam necessarily criticism of Muslims (“we cannot separate the dangerous nature of ideas from those who hold them”), which is a false. It’s possible to be a ‘carrier’ of a harmful belief without being one of the people in which that harm manifests. A rational person recognizes this, and can criticize the belief without extending the same criticism to the person who believes it. You seem to assume people are not doing this, often over and against their own protests to the contrary, which is unfair.

                “My point is that the things said about “Islam” very often do amount to fear-mongering and propagating ignorance about people.”

                Given what you’d just said, it seems you mean something like “but often people *do* mean to criticize Muslims when they criticize Islam.”

                But as I’ve just covered, this is irrelevant. It’s so irrelevant actually, that it’s hard to imagine how this could possibly have been your point, since you were replying to my saying “You don’t seem to make room for the category of critic who understands that *Islam* can be the problem without *all Muslims* being the problem.”

                Since I was literally saying “Not all critics of Islam are extending their criticism to (all) Muslims,” I can’t see how you could possibly think it’s a meaningful reply to say “some/many critics of Islam do extend their criticism to (all) Muslims.” Of course some do. My point was that you don’t seem to be able to tell the difference between those that do and those that don’t.

                It’s possible you didn’t mean this, but rather meant something like “even when people think they are doing this, they are inadvertently criticizing Muslims when they criticize Islam” which is just an extension of the fallacious idea that “we cannot separate the dangerous nature of ideas from those who hold them,” which I’ve already refuted several times, so I won’t do it again.

                Perhaps you meant something else?

      • Thinker
        2015-12-06 04:06:35 GMT+0000 - 04:06 | Permalink

        You see with one eye– very telling again the terroists are at most 0.00016% of the Muslim population– FBI figures (GO LOOK THEM UP IF YOU CAN BE BOTHERED) stated 94% of terrorism in America WAS NOT committed by Muslims, But NON MUSLIM HOME LAND terroists. Open BOTH eyes before preaching religious hatred and intolerance which is AGAINST the principles of the American Constitution .

  • 2013-04-25 03:56:48 GMT+0000 - 03:56 | Permalink

    I was going to stop commenting on Vridar for a while, but have now decided to comment at least on this part about Islam. Much valuable information on this topic has been presented here; thanks for that.

    Regarding this post, I was wondering if Sayyid Imam al-Sharif and Abu Basir al-tatusi, even though both appear to have argued that a higher threshold should be met before attacking civilian “shields,” as they call them, if they both still approve of such attacks in certain instances. So far I gather that they do.

    And here are a few of my thoughts related to the political nature of this: Shouldn’t political progress today always be made by having the best people from each side present their best arguments and then let the people decide, instead of anyone resorting to violence? Yes, America has intervened too much, and our country has needed to learn a great deal more on that in recent years. But the U.S. does attempt to be a melting pot for all kinds of people—not have one required ethos—and to no longer resort to something like installing a replacement dictator in a troubled area of the world. What the U.S. government can do now has been much reduced, I think. Meanwhile, I do not want Islam, in any form, to spread (though I am very tolerant and try to be understanding, too); nor do I want Christianity to spread (but which ways individuals choose to go on that can be argued over the Internet or via books, and then more will hopefully be able to decide such things for themselves), even as all people must remain free to choose for themselves what they wish to believe or perhaps simply continue with their particular family’s religious tradition. And if the U.S. is seen as too much of a villain it will fall, besides it having that looming problem of whether it can pay its bills that’s bringing some serious risk to its future right now as well.

  • Evan
    2013-04-25 04:31:47 GMT+0000 - 04:31 | Permalink

    I am sure that Christians would take umbrage if the views of polygamist LDS members or the Westboro Baptist Church were conflated to equal “Christianity” by non-believers in Christianity who pointed out the proof-texts that these groups use to justify their beliefs as the reason for the conflation.

    • 2013-04-25 06:58:15 GMT+0000 - 06:58 | Permalink

      Christians would be right to do so.

      But you can’t extrapolate the demographics of Christians to the demographics of Muslims. The percentage of what we would call radical or militant Muslims is much larger then the corresponding group of Christians, and moderate Muslims are much more radical than moderate Christians. There are countries where outright majorities or very substantial minorities of Muslims believe that attacks on the west or Americans, including suicide bombing, is justified in the defense of Islam. That sort of thing just simply doesn’t apply to Christianity.

      The elder Boston bomber was the product of a radical militant mosque, where violent action was encouraged and rationalized by the Koran. For Dr Coyne to say that Islam was behind the bombing, seems to me to be completely justified. How many millions of Muslims attend such mosques world-wide, and how many millions of children receive their “educations” at Saudi-based maddrassahs where this sort of thing is endlessly propounded? There is no such parallel in Christianity.

      • 2013-04-25 07:15:30 GMT+0000 - 07:15 | Permalink

        The “Koran” justified nothing. The Koran is book used by many different sects with very different beliefs much like the Bible is. People justified their actions by choosing to reference the Koran or other writings. That ought to be glaringly obvious even to Blind Freddy from the rationales and debates outlined in the post.

        I’m glad you notice the temporal-spatial factors of what is happening today among Muslims. I would have thought the logical conclusion is to seek to understand why all of this is happening now. It hasn’t always been like this. Perhaps certain temporal historical events should be considered as a factor in the equation, too. After all, the Christians we see today are different in outlook from how they have been in other historical periods.

        • Al
          2013-04-25 07:27:41 GMT+0000 - 07:27 | Permalink

          Well, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, has told interrogators that the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated him and his brother to carry out the attack. Doesn’t Coyne want people to take terrorists at their word?

        • 2013-04-25 10:32:25 GMT+0000 - 10:32 | Permalink

          The “Koran” justified nothing. The Koran is book used by many different sects with very different beliefs much like the Bible is”</blockquote>

          The Koran includes a lot of material which does justify violence against enemies of Islam – it can be and *is* used as the religious/theocratic authority to justify these actions by some. And Muslims have done just this to a lesser or greater degree. For a thousand years, most Muslims used it to justify all sorts of things – just like the Bible was used as the religious/theocratic justification to slaughter millions, so too the Koran. There are still plenty of gatekeepers of Islamic law who hold to these precepts, which is why in many areas of the world we continue to see medieval atrocities sanctioned by the Islamic authorities: beheadings, amputations, stonings to death for sinners, apostates, atheists, adolescent women for the crime of being raped.

          The question – just as it is for Christianity – is as you say – how many people *use* their religious sensibilities to guide their actions. And the best information we have available is on display around the world in the actions of Islamist governments themselves and the results of research polling. And that information tells us that Islam, ie, most Muslims, are more radical than the other Abrahamic religions at this point in time.

          You say ” It hasn’t always been like this”.. You are right – it used to be much worse hundreds of years ago! But the situation around the world over the last decade or so is not encouraging – Radical Islam and Islamism is aggressive and on a comeback. We are seeing the ‘Arab Spring’ turning into a nightmare. Formerly secular Muslim states are allowing and abetting Sharia law. Even Indonesia is losing ground, see:

          http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2012/10/13/radical-islam-on-the-rise-in-indonesia/

          One can not necessarily extrapolate from Christianity to Islam.

          • 2013-04-25 17:48:10 GMT+0000 - 17:48 | Permalink

            “Islam, ie, most Muslims, are more radical than the other Abrahamic religions at this point in time.”

            — hoo boy, so being “radical” is “bad”. What does radical mean, exactly, when it is used as a referent for “most Muslims”?

            “it used to be much worse hundreds of years ago!”

            — hoo boy, so do you want to go back to the days of the Christian Inquisition? Was it like this in the 1970s? the 1960’s? the 1950s? the 1940s? the 1930s? the 1920s? . . . You know very well (I surely hope!) we are experiencing something that has not been the norm as long as Muslims have existed.

            • 2013-04-26 02:10:23 GMT+0000 - 02:10 | Permalink

              What does radical mean? It means more anti-enlightenment than being moderate. It means happy to use violence to reach their ends, enforce their laws, or protect their religion; more likely to demand Islamist goals; more likely to insist upon religious controls that disregard human rights, including the rights of others who do not share their religion. What did you think it meant?

              You know very well (I surely hope!) we are experiencing something that has not been the norm as long as Muslims have existed.

              I guess I don’t know that very well. Perhaps you can explain it to me. Exactly what percentage of the time that Islam has existed, has it embraced Enlightenment values? Was there a significant period of time during the course of its history when it eschewed amputations for petty crimes, or death by stoning for apostasy or blasphemy or homosexuality? What percentage of the lifespan of Islam has been evidenced by a belief in the equal rights of women, homosexuals, Jews, or atheists? What percentage of its history have Islamic populations eschewed Islamic theocracy being imposed, whether by democratic means or by the point of a sword, internally or by invasion?

              • 2013-04-26 06:40:48 GMT+0000 - 06:40 | Permalink

                Roger, you are lumping a lot of sins together here. No-one is saying that all religious values and beliefs and practices are “good” or desirable or not to be condemned. We would not be having this discussion — at least in the context of the above post — if we were only talking about equal rights for homosexuals.

                Let’s avoid the umbrella fallacy and stick to the issue. We are talking about terrorism. May I say here what I said to Coel:

                My point is that you are saying we face this menacing threat of “Islam” — yet the evidence presented in the post here is that the threat of terrorism comes from extremists who operate and think outside the mainstream of “Islam”. They are finding rationales for their actions — religious cover for their actions — by turning to opinions of this or that old scholar to get around the views and understanding of the clearest passages in the Quran. They do NOT, as some simple-minded bigots say, simply read the violent passages in the Quran and say, “There, I must kill some infidels.” They are the evidence that that is NOT how they think — contrary to what ignorant western critics say.

                There is no “Islam”. There are many factions within Islam and the bulk of Islamic believers have no time for these terrorists — the terrorists are quite prepared to kill them as easily as they might by happenstance kill you. The menacing threat we face are these extremists. Not Islam. That’s what the evidence tells us.

                As for what I thought your use of the word “radical” meant, it meant nothing to me — it sounded like nothing but a meaningless attack epithet, something like a swear word. And your explanation makes little sense to me and certainly contradicts the evidence we have about Muslims in general. “Happy to use violence to reach their ends” indeed. I do indeed plan on doing future posts highlighting some of the history of Islamic nations and hopefully you will read those. But if you are interested you can find the evidence yourself in most libraries. As one scholar has recently published, there are two religions in the Middle East that have no history of tolerance for others, and Islam is not one of them. Watch this space, as they say.

            • 2013-04-26 06:29:47 GMT+0000 - 06:29 | Permalink

              “radical” means they believe in killing those who disagree, or rather in killing whoever is convenient. They always claim that their beef is with the government for supporting Israel (they sound a lot like you on that one) but they attack regular people rather than government officials.

              ———————-

              Comment by descriptivegrace — 2013/04/26 @ 6:31 am

              “You know very well (I surely hope!) we are experiencing something that has not been the norm as long as Muslims have existed.”

              Because throughout the majority of that time they weren’t living in America and subverting the values of our society. They were “over there” where they could enact Sheria without anyone hindering them. Now, they come over here to get on our welfare system, and then decide they want to enact Sheria on us, but they can’t; so instead they blow up a marathon!

              • 2013-04-27 02:00:57 GMT+0000 - 02:00 | Permalink

                “Now, they come over here to get on our welfare system, and then decide they want to enact Sheria on us, but they can’t; so instead they blow up a marathon!”

                You’ve really, really go to cut down on your Fox News intake. Talking points are an excuse for thinking.

                I’m not saying it’s going to be easy for you. Taper off gradually. Read a newspaper not owned by Rupert Murdoch. Cut down on caffeine.

                But you can do this, descriptivegrace. We’re all pulling for you.

      • 2013-04-27 15:21:37 GMT+0000 - 15:21 | Permalink

        On what evidence do you base your assertion that “moderate Muslims are much more radical than moderate Christians”?

    • 2013-04-26 06:27:41 GMT+0000 - 06:27 | Permalink

      Augustinian premises are routinely “conflated to equal ‘Christianity'” and yet Pelagians don’t go blow up any marathon’s to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of understanding the way Muslims do any time a cartoon of Mohammed is printed or something.

  • 2013-04-25 09:31:18 GMT+0000 - 09:31 | Permalink

    This reminds me so much of those atheists who say that all Christians have to be young-earth creationists, and that the one who aren’t are misinterpreting their own Bible.

    • 2013-04-25 17:38:49 GMT+0000 - 17:38 | Permalink

      Can you quote any atheists saying that?

    • 2013-04-27 15:16:34 GMT+0000 - 15:16 | Permalink

      I have heard some say it, but I wasn’t taking notes, so I can’t provide any citations.

  • 2013-04-25 09:44:36 GMT+0000 - 09:44 | Permalink

    Can some explain something to me? I seem to see the following argument:

    Premise: There is no true Islam.

    Conclusion: There does not exist any debate among factions of Islam as to which faction represents true Islam.

    Just how does that premise entail that conclusion?

  • anon
    2013-04-25 15:05:15 GMT+0000 - 15:05 | Permalink

    @ Neil

    I have heard it before that there are some Muslims who may misunderstand the Quran. In your post, the reference is to Salafi jihadists (a better word might be Wahabi) with the exception of non-Arabic speaking “Salafi Jihadists” such as extremist Afghanis influenced by Saudi Wahabism—many are Saudi’s. Which means they can read the Arabic Quran.

    If they can read the Quran—it is improbable to interpret the verses they way they do—–for example verse 5:51 above—–the verse previous to that 5:50 contradicts their interpretation by saying judgement belongs to God—–“Do they then seek after a judgement of ignorance? But who for a people whose faith is assured, can give better judgement than God?

    Not to mention—-any Muslim would know the difference between a Medina surah and a Meccan one—this (Surah 5) is a Medina Surah and this is a time when the people of Medina were engaged in battle with the people of Mecca and shifting loyalties among those tribes with whom peace treaties were established were a concern. Muslims don’t read the Quran raw, they either understand it through the sunna/hadith/sira or through Tafsir—-so to think that a Salafi/Wahabi is ignorant of what the Quran actually says is puzzling.

    the same for verse 2:216—not only does the arabic verse not mention “unbelievers”—but the very next verse 2:217 explains that “injustice and oppression are worse than slaughter”—in other words humanity is responsible for ensuring Justice and Liberty….which is why it may be necessary to fight………….(217 also talks about other things concerning fighting)

    16:126—the full verse is “And if you punish, let your punishment be proportionate to the wrong that has been done to you: But if you show patience, that is indeed the best course for those who are patient”

    I can understand the argument that Jihadist (either Saudi or Egyptian) could use some dusty old fatwa or obscure scholarly work or even false hadiths to twist Islam into meaning what they want it to mean—-but if they know Arabic—-it will be very difficult to twist the Quran…..and Both the Saudis and Egyptians know Arabic. An argument that perhaps these Muslims don’t know the Quran would also be weak—Most Muslims read the whole of the Quran—particularly during the month of Ramadan. Again—exceptions can be made for non-arab speaking Muslims such as the Afghans who are mostly illiterate or those who have newly embraced Islam such as the former Soviet/Russian territories and those in China….However, this is not where extremism originates—“Salafi Jihadism” as the name suggests—is from Saudi Arabia…..

    I want to point out that not all Saudi’s are extremists—those who follow Wahabi Islam tend to be very strict, narrow-minded, and have strong “us vs them” mindset—-however they are not all extremists…..

    (Though the words “Salafi” and “Wahabi” are sometimes used interchangeably—the Salafis insist they are not Wahabis)

    The spread of Wahabi Islam is a matter of concern for us Eastern Muslims—-Islam was spread here through Sufi scholars and tended towards Universalism/pluralism, tolerance and spirituality………….In an era of globalization where identities/ideas are fluid/changing—Wahabi islam may provide a strong sense of identity and belonging because of its “us vs them” mindset…….

    • 2013-04-25 16:38:26 GMT+0000 - 16:38 | Permalink

      I attempted to be faithful to Hafez’s conclusions. But I did not include all the detail, all the footnotes (I have to draw a balance between giving all the details and writing for a wider audience who would be more interested in the general idea), nor could I read English versions of some of the articles he referred to since the English version of the site is no longer available, it seems. I have no doubt many Muslims will take great exception to the interpretations used by the jihadists, and that was Hafez’s point — that their interpretations are not universally embraced by other Muslims.

      If you have questions about the detail you might be better off raising them with Muhammed M. Hafez himself. Easy enough to find his email online, I am sure. You might like to share any communication with us here, if you do.

    • 2013-04-25 16:51:11 GMT+0000 - 16:51 | Permalink

      I glanced at Hafez’s reference to 2:216 that is one of the passages you question. A footnote in the original article to the section where that passage is discussed is: Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 4.45.48 PM

      I don’t know if that sheds any light on your query. As I said, the English version of the website is no longer available. Presumably the original arguments in Arabic are cited here. If not, I suggest you contact Hafez for clarification, and if you do, hopefully you can share the results here.

    • 2013-04-26 06:23:11 GMT+0000 - 06:23 | Permalink

      “but if they know Arabic—-it will be very difficult to twist the Quran”

      The church fathers knew Greek and they sure twisted the crap out of the LXX/Septuagint (i.e. the Greek Old Testament) to make nearly every verse into a prophecy of Jesus! So this kind of argument–that people who know the language a text is written in will not twist a text–is pure nonsense.

      • anon
        2013-04-26 12:45:26 GMT+0000 - 12:45 | Permalink

        @descriptivegrace

        Church fathers twisted Greek O/T—Yes you are correct here…but it does not necessarily apply to Quran in Arabic speaking countries—because the whole population speaks Arabic—(one could argue that modern Arabic dialects are different from Quranic Arabic—-but not so different that it is not understandable)—-Also—Islam does not have a church—each Muslim reads the Quran for himself—but with scholarly help in the form of Tafsir and in 1400 years of Islamic history, there are many Tafsir. If the Quran were to be twisted—it would have to be among populations that do not read/understand Arabic and don’t have reliable translations to work with…..in such situations this would be possible.

        @ Neil

        Thanks…I may do as you suggest—though Jihadi philosophy is not really of interest to me…….

  • 2013-04-26 06:04:56 GMT+0000 - 06:04 | Permalink

    “Ironically people who identify Islamic terrorists with the “true beliefs of Islam” are (unknowingly) serving as mouthpieces for those terrorists. The fact is Islamic terrorists believe they alone represent true Islam and that the vast majority of those who profess to be Muslims deserve to die.”

    The question of who is a “true” adherent of a religion is not as simple as who follows the “holy book” of the religion the most literally. I don’t think anyone is identifying the terrorists as the “true adherent of Islam” but as the most literal followers of the Koran, which is not the same thing. Every religion has a traditional group and a sola scriptura type of group. The Jews have he Orthodox who follow the traditions of the Talmud and the Kairites who reject them in favor of following the Torah more literally. Christianity has Catholicism and Protestantism. Surely Islam has the same division to some degree. It is a fact that the terrorists follow the Koran more literally, but that does not make them the orthodox party, because orthodoxy is defined by the majority in every religion. It is, then, a question of who the real majority is. Because, however, of the Hadiths which allow for a Muslim engaging in Jihad to lie and pretend to not be, because “war is deceit” there will always be in the back of the minds of educated Westerners who know much of anything about Islam, this suspicion that every Muslim is in fact in league with the terrorists and only exercising their “you can lie to further the Jihad” precept from the Hadiths when they proclaim themselves “moderates” and “modernized” and so on. We have the lovely parents of the two Boston bomber jihadi terrorists coming over right now to the US. And they claim to have not known anything, that their boys were framed by the government, that the US killed their perfectly innocent boy for nothing. Are they stupid or is this more of the Jihadi subterfuge? These Jihadis sure know how to work CNN and the American Justice System with their lies. And one of the most important tricks in working it is the lying claim “oh no, we’re moderates.”

    ———————

    Comment by descriptivegrace — 2013/04/26 @ 6:08 am

    Despite what a particular religious tradition in Islam might say, by the way, the Koran does justify Muslims killing other Muslims if those other Muslims are defined as not being true believers. Specifically it says when the prophet says to go to war, anyone who stays back and refuses to go to war (unless due to disability) is an unbeliever who should themselves be targeted in the war. A particular tradition can attempt to “moderate” that however they like but its still in the Koran unfortunately.

  • 2013-04-26 11:42:14 GMT+0000 - 11:42 | Permalink

    Muslims who believe in polygamy [I wonder what the percent is] basically exchange the prospect of alcohol or something like some maijuana use for sex as their drug of choice. Their females must cover themselves entirely while the males have the opportunity to add additional wives to their harems. That polygamy dynamic would be a pretty powerful ingredient to the males who embrace the religion; don’t think that it isn’t.

    • 2013-04-26 12:18:15 GMT+0000 - 12:18 | Permalink

      You’re just making all that up. Why not do a bit of a study on polygamy and get some facts?

      (Just as there is no single entity we might call “Islam” — only many different factions — so there is no single entity we can label “Muslim women”. It is simply not true that “Muslim women” must cover themselves. And in societies where that is expected it only applies to women in public.)

      • 2013-04-26 20:05:06 GMT+0000 - 20:05 | Permalink

        Like I said, Neil, I don’t know what the precent is, but I would like to know that percent.

        • 2013-04-28 19:36:19 GMT+0000 - 19:36 | Permalink

          Have you considered looking it up????

          Polygamy is not exclusively Islamic and nearly all Muslims today as in other cultures, reject it. It exists in human history across cultures when it has been recognised as necessary for human survival – to ensure the continuation of humanity through famine, infant mortality etc. It occurs in the Hebrew Bible and consequently passed into the Qur’an. It has in recent history been outlawed in most countries, including most Islamic countries like Turkey, and is most strongly condemned by the Catholic church. About 1 or 2 percent of Muslim marriages are polygamous – mainly in Iran. It is practised in other cultures across the globe including of course Mormonism where The Salt Lake Tribune stated in 2005 there were as many as 37,000 fundamentalists with less than half of them living in polygamous households. Deuteronomy contains a rule for the division of property in polygamist marriages. Old Testament figures such as Abraham, David, Jacob and Solomon were all favoured by God and were all polygamists. Solomon truly put the “poly” to polygamy with 700 wives and 300 concubines. Mohammed had 10 wives, though the Koran limits multiple wives to four. Martin Luther at one time accepted polygamy as a practical necessity. Polygamy is still present among Jews in Israel, Yemen and the Mediterranean.

          Indeed, studies have found polygamy present in 78% of the world’s cultures, including some Native American tribes. (While most are polygynists — with one man and multiple women — there are polyandrists in Nepal and Tibet in which one woman has multiple male spouses.) As many as 50,000 polygamists live in the United States.

          There is a mass of mainly reliable information on the internet with statistics. I looked it up basics on the internet recently when that Murikun Republican Mormon guy threatened to take the throne. I’m surprised you haven’t bothered to look anything up. Mind you, maybe I’m not so surprised. It’s much easier to make stuff up and toss out propaganda in order to ignite fear, hatred and resentment towards a group of people.

          It’s ironic – what is the percentage of honestly monogamous marriages in the world today? How many marriages are full of betrayal, extra marital affairs, concubines, even partner sharing. Seems hypocritical outlawing polygamy where at the very least, there is less deception. Not that I’d advocate it – just consider cultural prudery in criticism of it.

          • 2013-04-28 19:58:19 GMT+0000 - 19:58 | Permalink

            This reminds me of an interview I heard with a Malaysian wife being asked what she thought of sharing her husband with three other wives. She said she thought it was a good idea given that the man had stronger needs than the woman and this way she felt secure or reassured that he was meeting his needs with one of his wives and not elsewhere. It gave each of the women more freedom to pursue their own careers without having to worry about who he might be with. Makes sense to me. 🙂

            • 2013-04-29 13:32:30 GMT+0000 - 13:32 | Permalink

              To me too.:-) Makes perfect sense. It is also similar to other accounts by women I’ve read, and my discussions with Rehana Ali who lectured in Islamic history at Victoria University years ago. Men’s needs are ‘stronger’ but he need not search elsewhere, freedom to pursue careers and education and also built in childcare sharing responsibilities etc.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2013-08-07 10:40:22 GMT+0000 - 10:40 | Permalink

    I have removed a comment here because (1) it was by “Anonymous” and (2) it was a mere declaration of the mental state of other commentators here without any interest in logical argument,– and also without any sense of humour that would have been worthy of the original jocular remark commented upon.

  • David Ashton
    2015-12-06 12:15:07 GMT+0000 - 12:15 | Permalink

    Re education of young people. As a teacher for 30 years in different schools (including those with Asian and Afro-Caribbean pupils) I can say that the education system in Britain has been in an “unholy” mess, for many different reasons, though mostly unconnected with ethnicity issues, for well over 50 years. The RE curriculum is a farce, but then so is “multiculturalism” in all its 57 varieties . On the parental v state role in faith for kids, maybe we have something to learn from secular France. Are some madrassas guilty in principle of cruelty to children, or only when e.g. corporal punishment or intensive fasting is applied? My advice to Australia & Aotearoa: don’t import additional complications.

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