As many people are probably aware, Bill Maher hosted a “TV brawl” between Sam Harris and Ben Affleck (with Bill Maher being about as biased a host as you can be). The discussion was of “Islamophobia”, and it is an important discussion to have. The argument was one of Sam Harris citing polls where Muslims, from Muslim-dominated parts of the world, believe in quite literal and uncensored interpretations of the Koran and Hadith–believing in the stoning of infidels and murder of apostates and other things we deem horrific. Ben Affleck deemed it racist, and the people who backed him up, oddly, agreed more with Sam Harris than with Ben Affleck.

Sam Harris described the Muslim world as being approximately 20% Jihadists and Islamists. Respectively, these are Muslims who want to kill infidels through their own suicide to gain a place in paradise, and people who want an Islamic state (please notice I didn’t capitalise the word “state” because I’m not talking about the terrorists group) and to use litigious means punish those who oppose an Islamic state. These are people with “deeply troubling” (Harris) views on homosexuals and women. 80% of Islam is, then, composed of people who can honestly say that the Islamic State (IS. Now I have capitalised it and am talking about the terrorist group) do not represent them or the world that 80% wants to live in. No one is more at risk from Islam that Muslims: homosexual, women, outspoken moderates and freethinkers of Muslim countries need a voice and being a part of the criticising Islam. And pointing to Albania, Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Indonesia as posterchildren of Islam at peace does nothing to address the actual content of Islam.

In an attempt to defend Islam, Michael Steele wanted to give a voice to the Muslims who have voiced opposition to IS and similar groups. To lend them a voice, because the media has quite reprehensibly not done it, Steele points out that these Muslims who are speaking out against Jihadists like IS are facing credible threats against their life; surely that proves the nobility of Islam. Well, no. That proves the nobility of a lot of people who are Muslims. But Islam is still the collection of ideas that demands the execution of apostates and adulterers, and poses the credible threat against the life of those who speak out against it.

As Harris has said many times, real beliefs lead to actions. I would very much doubt that Jihadists are Jihadists because of the socio-economic background of certain countries. The only other modern culture to produce suicide bombers was Japanese Kamikaze Bombers. But that, too, was based on a dogmatic idea. In fact, the ideas of honour and loyalty to death echo (if somewhat mildly) the same ideas of honour we get from Islam. Not all Japanese people are Kamikaze bombers, but the dogmatic idea that it was better to die with honour than to live with shame was a real idea with real consequences.

Similarly, Christianity does not make mention of death through martyrdom, and not even the mentally ill Christians become suicide bombers. And, I’m talking about historically; Christianity has been through its maturation curve.

Christianity boasts different beliefs. Although the Christians may not agree today (I wonder what the religious route to that knowledge is!), the religion itself teaches to kill non-Christians (Deut 13: 7-12; Deut 17:12; 2 Chron 15:12-13) and, historically, the belief that this is a good idea has lead to actions in accordance: the Inquisitions. Even the Witch Hunts were propagated not on the fear of the people, but the belief in the explicit wish of the Creator of the universe (Exodus 22:17). Again: real beliefs result in actions. And so the ideas deserve criticism.

The modern religion that poses threats of this nature is Islam. Is this Islamophobia? Phobia, by its definition, is an irrational fear. Given that the teachings of Islam directly create Jihadists, is the fear of dogma of this nature really irrational? I am not suggesting that all Muslims are Islamists (although, Sam Harris cites an NOP poll commissioned by Channel 4, claiming that 78% of British Muslims wanted the Danish cartoonists prosecuted for an unpublished cartoon of Mohammed) or Jihadists. Nominal Muslims seem to make up a large number of the Muslims I meet. But they have a method by which they ignore the calls to violence against nonbelievers, but by secular routes.

Muslims are not to be feared; Muslims are people and each one I have met is as charitable and humane as any other. Islam is a terrifying dogma. It is only because Muslims are capable of truly critiquing Islam that it is not even more terrifying than it already is.

How to deal with groups like IS is a difficult question. A lot of the answer spans from whether you accept the premise that the terrorists and Jihadists really believe they are going to Paradise. If you don’t accept that claim, then the behaviour of those terrorists may parallel that of an acting-out, attention seeking child or dog. In which case, our response should be to ignore them. Every time IS claim a victim the media channels should be celebrating the life of that person and not talking about IS a lot. As long as you believe IS is feeding from our attention, starve it. But I don’t believe IS are attention hungry, and I don’t believe you believe that either. I believe they really believe they are doing God’s work, like the Inquisitors did. Christianity’s maturation curve happened over centuries as it battled with secular discussions. Islam’s maturation must happen faster than that. Do you know that quote about science progressing by the death of people who believe the outdated theory, and the new generation coming forward with the better theory? That is the power of criticism and clashing an idea against reality is that bad ideas can die in a generation. To protect the oppressed, is it not necessary?

17 thoughts on “Islamophobia?”

  1. Good post. I am honestly surprised how many people seem to genuinely miss how critical the link between ISIS and Islam. Similarly, their failure to understand the real arguments that Maher and Harris are making. I have a feeling this debate will not be resolved for some time.

    1. Listening to the rebuttals to Harris and Maher is quite amazing. They seem to be summarised as “I agree, but you can’t say it” or “Do the people who do good, independent of the actual collection of ideas that is Islam, rebut this in any way? What if I shout it?”

  2. iSLAM has been the perennial enemy of the West since the Jihad stormed out of Arabia in the 7th century.

    So we can be politically correct like Ben Affleck is with iSLAM and the head of the CDC is with the Ebola virus, and watch the world burn or we can subject those catastrophes to common sense and save the world instead.

      1. Alla,

        The CDC’s policy on Ebola is the same as the rest of the Obama Administration’s policies on nearly everything:

        Walk away, leave the borders open, let someone else handle it and let someone else take the blame.

        That’s political correctness in the context of foreign policy and US national sovereignty.

  3. Last few month, in my engineering batch whatapps group. Someone highlight the issue IS. Conclusion from discussion I can make is:

    1) No one know the actual and behind the team?
    2) How they got so much money, resources, advance military expert, supply IN SHORT OF TIME?
    3) There was no single MAJOR Islamic party/group aware about this group, and suddenly pop-out nowhere and declare Islamic State.
    4) Problem of Assad, Iraq, etc.

    With this question mark, no one are more capable of doing this thing except US. Therefore, we are rather focus on current problem of poverty, etc- Rohingya, Bangladesh, Southern Thailand, Philippine, etc.

    We in a group concluded this is just another US’s plot. Therefore, we are currently capable to watch our friend being slaughter.

    Freedom to talk…. Yes… Do the talk all the time, no action. Useless…

      1. Islam is the one of the large group in the world today, 1.57bil (23%) population. Before WW I and WW II, the history shows Islam is the strongest religion in history of mankind. If, I can separate Catholic (16%) and Protestant (7%) as 2 different religion, Islam itself is the most largest single religion on earth.

        The history, knowledge, and brand are so strong except in your country, your neighboring country and US.

        Dont talk about 20% or 1%, we assume 0.1% of Muslim population make trouble, it about 2mil people. It was as good as Japanese troop during WW II.

        If what Sam Harris said 20% are true, you can now consider your country and all Western country are now annihilated.

        Sometimes, I feel your Atheist spoke person is numerously stupid in Mathematics.

        IS is an American conspiracy?

        When one person are playing a same tactics in war all over time, the same strategy, same move. It have become a trademark. So, this trademark of war and deception is being “registered copyright” by US.

      2. 1. Are you saying Islam does not teach that murder of unbelievers and apostates is a good thing, and that murder by suicide guarantees a place in Paradise?
        (This is what we mean by Jihadists)

        2. Are you saying that Islam does not teach that Islam should be spread by law, protected from all criticism and overthrow other cultures?
        (This is what we mean by Islamists)

        3. Are you saying that the 78% of British Muslims who believed that the Danish cartoonists should have been prosecuted for drawing a picture of Mohammed were lying?
        (This is an Islamist ideal; that Islam should be protected by law from criticism.)

        4. Do you doubt that real beliefs lead to actions e.g. that belief that the creator of the universe wants apostates to be killed leads to those who believe it killing?; that sincere confidence that martyrdom guarantees your place in Paradise will lead to martyrdom?

        5. The separatists in the south of Thailand, what religion are they? Do you think their religion plays no part in them wanting to be separate?

        Unfortunately, there is almost consistently +50% of Muslims, when polled, claiming to have jihadist or Islamist beliefs. They may not believe what they say that believe, or they may be too afraid to act accordingly, but the suggestion is that, given the opportunity, they would vote for Islamist or jihadist political groups.

  4. When I speak to you, I am using English and trying using standard English term that everyone acknowledge the meaning.

    When you speak about Islam, you are suppose to use a translation of Arabic -English word and bind with your own local word.

    In this term, you trying to teach me using a Arabic term (Jihadist / Islamist), using local UK’s understanding of word.

    1) Jihad by word is struggle. In our term Jihadist is a person who struggle in everything, even in education, charity, etc. (even it more common to use for army and police).

    2) Islam by word is religion itself. In our term Islamist is a person who believe in Islam. (commonly in a person who in Islamic party)

    Your meaning and our meaning have two different thing. You think Muslim in my country and other country will bend/change the word just to persuade Western world.

    We will using our own preference/original of word. I and my friends are all Jihadist and Islamist. Do I care about your country “dictionary”? Nope…

    3) Danish Cartoon – This is your politician’s stupidity in handling your local issue. The cartoon itself is insult and mocking of the death people. It suppose to be sensitive issue and it being address correctly.
    You said it was a “criticism”. Can you teach me, what are the relationship between “British criticism” and “a drawing of prophet wearing a bomb’s turban”? I am very interested to hear and understand the logic behind it.

    4) I don’t understand the question.

    5) It started with Bangkok Treaty of 1909 was a treaty between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Siam signed on March 10, 1909, in Bangkok. You should seek for you Queen “arrangement” rather that religion. But I also need to agree religion also take part in this conflict.

    1. There is a difference between a Muslim and an Islamist. A Muslim believes Mohammed is a prophet. An Islamist wants to spread Islam globally to the detriment of other cultures. You may not be an Islamist (as so few people I met in Penang were).
      But you’re not addressing my questions. Does Islam teach that killing infidels through martyrdom guarantee a place in Paradise? If it does teach that, do you not think that believing this will make people behave in a certain way?

      I assume you are aware of “Draw Mohammed Day”. It was a mildly subscribed annual internet event. The point was one of freedom of speech. Depicting Mohammed similarly to how his most vocal followers behave may be childish, but it is not a punishable offence. The criticism is several fold:
      (a) Islam should be subject to the same ridicule every other idea is subject to.
      (b) Either:
      (i) Mohammed was a violent warmongering soldier, or
      (ii) look how ridiculous the idea of Mohammed being a suicide bomber is! How about you stop.

      1909 was 105 years ago; I don’t think our Queen had any part in it. And the UK certainly has not power over Thailand now, it’s an independent state. And in the southern provinces of Thailand, I don’t recall a Buddhist putting a bomb in a supermarket or shooting a teacher. The people who want their own state are not grouped together by anything other than religion. I didn’t see any Christians or Cao Daists joining the Islamic ranks of separatists and bombers.
      Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of very peaceful Muslims in my province (Songkhla), but we still got bombed. There were a lot of peaceful Muslims in Bangkok. In fact, there was no trouble in Bangkok (where you say it started). But the further south you went, the bigger the problems were and the bigger the Muslim populations were (proportionately).

      1. In Malays idioms, which I translate. I insist that I am “Islamist” to my own meaning as I will not allows a borrowed word to be corrupted.

        Sorry, it not your queen, but his grand grand parents, Edward VII. But I always believe that UK monarchy is only a puppet ruler.

        Regarding Danish cartoon, there was 2 Malays idioms I would like to share:

        1) “Body hurt because of the mouth” mean – Mocking and insulting someone without thinking can back fired.

        Islam is not someone, it huge group. You are pouring fuel to a big fire. I as Malaysian Muslim don’t dare to talk Ganesha (Hindu) or Guan Yu (Buddha), etc because it was a sensitive issue and can hurt a lot of people and make tension between religion and race.
        In your country, this issue are being played as humor, sarcastic, etc.

        Sometime, I think your view of freedom of speech is freedom to be stupid. Sarcastic suppose to have a limit….
        If there are a war because of this, no one will back up you because your stupidity.

        Every Muslim know our prophet is brilliant war general, but he is not warmonger. And he, The prophet never encourage suicide bombing. So, there are no relation between criticize and Danish cartoon.

  5. 4) Do you doubt that real beliefs lead to actions e.g. that belief that the creator of the universe wants apostates to be killed leads to those who believe it killing?;
    Please quote where “The Creator of Universe want apostates to be killed”?

    — a) You can not find the quote, because it not existed, unless you look into Bible.

    that sincere confidence that martyrdom guarantees your place in Paradise will lead to martyrdom?

    Sigh. Actually you are using “Christian” dictionary and trying to find a similarity between word.

    In my country, the word marty or “shaheed” are not given to anyone. It only give to well know pious and die during war, traveling for education, etc.

    Everyone who “shaheed” will enter Paradise, but not everyone who die during war is “shaheed”. Sometime, it can go to Hell. Who’s knows.

    1. Take, for example, this extract from just after Mohammed settled in Medina and was not under attack. (I say again, this passage is not from a time of battle):
      And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing…
      but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”

      From the perspective of an unbeliever, that reads “convert or be killed”. To the Muslim, surely that reads “spread belief in Allah by force”.

      1. Thanks for quote surah 9:5 and 8:39, Can I ask a favor.

        Can you read a continuation of surah from 9:1 to 9:5? You read it few times, and after that we have a discussion.

        Same goes to 8:39, can you a least read from 8:33 – 40.

        Based on English literature method, how do you combine 9:5 and 8:39 into 1 sentences? This two different chapter which separated by many pages.
        Because I saw Christian also doing a same thing when they justify Jesus as God.

        Another the different of term in English between “war” and “killer”.

        I ask you this so I do not need to repeat my point again, so I ask you at least making you home work.

  6. You say: “the religion itself teaches to kill non-Christians (Deut 13: 7-12; Deut 17:12; 2 Chron 15:12-13).”

    Quite strange: at a time when there were no Christians (Deuteronomy and Chronicles = Old Testament, Hebrew Bible) Christians asked to kill non-Christians?

    It all depends on how the Bible is read. Why would you read it like a fundamentalist?

    Here’s how the Bible is read in the history of the Church – several methods, BUT: the fundamentalist reading is NOT accepted. It might be important to get some data straight and to nuance some prejudices:


    By the way:

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