Posts Tagged ‘Koran’
Yes you read that title right, based on the tweet Richard Dawkins sent out:
You can have several views of this – and indeed any combination of the following: islamophobic use of simile, Godwin’s Law in action, free publicity this will generate, no empathy for how people will react to what he says.
Dawkins has straight away tried to deal with the first in a subsequent tweet:
Godwin’s Law is that in an online argument given enough time a person will invoke Hitler/nazis on their opponent or on their idea. Also a rather cheap mud slinging shot in a debate.
Having read a pre-war edition of Mein Kampf and having an Uncle arrested at a war time press conference for holding his copy up when they quoted the book saying “which page please?” some reasons you may want to read to understand Hitler and the nazis. My Uncle was part of an anti-propaganda group determined truth should not be the first casualty of war. Read the original source material – how can I suggest that to creationists when Dawkins suggests not necessary for religion? Expect that one to be thrown back in evolution/intelligent design discussion.
Free publicity suggests Dawkins as the media savvy person that felt Krauss should have walked out of a gender allocated seating arrangement debate to generate maximum publicity. Being controversial will cause column inches to be written, with publicity for Dawkins’ issues, himself and works.
The last point of no empathy is for me the one that strikes home. Long time readers will know of Rabbi Boteach of whom Dawkins said “you shriek like Hitler”. It took much correspondence and comments before Richard readily acknowledged not a good move; let alone a hurtful comparison to make.
The simile tweet suggests Dawkins has not learnt from that experience. I have met Muslims that would readily have my back at a gay rights march (sic), stand up for secularism and let humanism override literal interpretation of the Koran. To my mind we need to embolden and support such thinkers in the Muslim community as well as safeguard apostates and human rights for those wanting to leave. This is a global issue.
I read an excellent blog defending Dawkins from the charge of Islamophobia. A lack of empathy regarding comparison is more the case given track record with Boteach.
In conclusion the historian would suggest reading original source material is a very good idea. The publicist that saying Koran and Mein Kampf in same sentence will generate a media frenzy. The Humanist that this is not helping us get on with the human rights issues we need to face down within Islam.
The secular activist in me is above all saying – good grief here we go again.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Ansar has stated the Council of Ex Muslims Britain (CEMB) had taken out of context a tweet he made regarding slavery. I asked if he would take a tweet pic of the twitter conversation to put it in context. He declined saying it was searchable.
Which indeed it is here.
His tweet was:
MoAnsar Mohammed Ansar
@holland_tom If slaves are treated justly, with full rights, and no oppression whatsoever… why would anyone object, Tom? July 15, 2012 10 retweets #
The link he quotes on slavery and Islam can be found here. In a nutshell though denied their freedom (though they could work towards it) slaves were not to be starved, killed or even introduced by their master as being their slave to others. This is placed in contrast to the colonial conquest and slave trade.
However, the article neglects that slaves under Islam were still the property of the owner, despite these rights as to their treatment and status. Eventual possible freedom in turn fuelled demand for new slaves, and a slave trade in buying and selling. Yet religious laws in Judaism and Christianity can be argued to have similar ideas regarding rights for slaves while still regarding people as property. However benign the master, he owns a person – which is an anathema to human rights.
The ownership of a person is oppression.
This is the reason why people have been critical of Ansar’s tweet. The suggestion that there is no objection to slavery if certain rights and treatment are given misses that what at the outset makes slavery degrading and inhumane is the ownership of one person on another. That objection now alone to such a concept would make the Koran wrong in our eyes.
What Ansar suggests in his tweet, and in the article he quoted in the ensuing conversation, is that slavery was unobjectionable because of how under Islam they were treated then. He mentions further in the conversation:
MoAnsar Mohammed Ansar
@VijayPandya1 @holland_tom And Islam, quite rightly the concept of ‘slave’ as we know it in the West is anathema.
Owning a person is an anathema – even with the Koran allowing slave ownership.
I did invite Ansar to share the twitter conversation link and above photo in a Retweet. His failure to do so has meant writing this blog to share what he said and the source he quoted in context.
The article does wag the finger at colonialism subjugating other countries as being the same as slavery. Yet Islam spread by means of homogenising conquered countries from a successful military campaign. In short, war as part of the human story is one that plays throughout history. Flattering no one when the inhumanity of conquest is examined.
Modern slavery has been estimated to be somewhere between 20 million to 300 million people. To put that in context that is more than ancient times (though proportionally smaller to population compared to then). The suggestion is the little monetary value placed on these modern slaves makes their condition even more grave. BBC
Poverty in Islamic Countries and Economics
The article ends:
To those who say, now there is no slavery, we say look into the faces of the earth’s poor peasants, striving to grow (in an increasingly barren soil) commodities which are not food for themselves but luxuries for the rich, and only if they have grown enough of these, have they some hope of buying something to eat-but there are still millions of others too poor to be poor peasants, who live upon mountains of urban rubbish, earn from it, eat from it. If you study the expressions of such people, locked in endless, fruitless toil, you will understand that slavery is not an evil that Western civilisation has eradicated, rather one which Western civilization has ably disguised and distanced from itself.
Such poverty is indeed shameful. However, that is not slavery in the sense of being the property of someone else. It is though a part of not treating people with fundamental human rights. Slavery has not disappeared just because it is outlawed. The owning of people is still a serious problem – one that needs to be tackled and not confused with abject poverty as slaves of western capitalism.
Yet where do such abject poor people live?
Against these global benchmarks, 400 million of the 1 billion people estimated to be in absolute poverty lived in 31 of the 56 OIC [Organisation for Islamic Cooperation] member states, i.e. 40% of the world’s poor live in the Muslim countries. In relative terms out of 975 million people living in these countries 400 million or 40 percent are below the absolute poverty line. In other words, the incidence of poverty in this 56 OIC member countries in twice the average for the developing world. The Makkah Declaration was therefore quite timely in calling for action to meet critical challenge facing Ummah. [Source]
The stat above is one that should cause consternation and shame in the Muslim world.
Looking at advice given to the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation the economic policy advocating to end poverty is a sensible proactive strategy:
… there are some fundamental economic principles and practices that do have a positive correlation with economic growth. These include macroeconomic stability, trade openness, market competition, investment in human development and infrastructure, quality of institutions and good governance.
The OIC/ IDB Poverty Reduction Strategy is built around four dimensions which go beyond income alone. These dimensions are:
a) Opportunities – lack of access to the labour market, employment opportunity, mobility problems and time binders.
b) Capabilities – lack of access to public services such as health and education.
c) Security – vulnerability to economic risks and to civil and domestic violence.
d) Empowerment – being without voice and without power at the household, community and national levels. [Source]
Hopefully such things will be put into practise. Thankfully no mention of slavery as a means to ending poverty. Or trying to lay the blame outside of the governments who should be looking after their citizens.
Note to email subscribers: somehow WordPress app deleted this blog which led me to have to republish. Hence you receiving twice.
UPDATE 15/3/2013 video Lawrence Krauss on Incest from debate
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Yaseen, a seven year old boy was allegedly hit by his mother with a hammer, rolling pin, and a slipper. When nothing was to hand, she would punch him repeatedly. And her excuse is her frustration that he could not or would not memorise the Koran. Did this happen in a far flung country? No this happened in Cardiff, Wales. And she stands accused of his murder and trying to burn his remains.
Child abuse in the name of religion. Some may totally blame the mother, who is playing the religious minority card. Regarding discipline in Islam:
Abusing a muslim is not allowed. But “spankings” and appropriate discipline as means of correction are Islamic.
Hadith – Bukhari (#883) and Abu Dawud
Nafi’ said, “Ibn ‘Umar used to beat his children for mistakes in diction.”
The Prophet said: Order your children to pray at the age of seven. And beat them [lightly] if they do not do so by the age of ten. And separate them in their bedding.
The Prophet also gives excellent advice to avoid the face. Must have had a premonition of social services. If we are literal about the text the mother clearly went beyond the text in terms of brutality and age. I am not inclined to be kind however because the text is used to justify brutality to a child for the sake of faith.
Absolutely we would reasonably regard the chastisement of a child over this as child abuse. We may state that Muslim parents would and do could cherry pick and avoid this. Yet there is a reason why Muslim parents are keen for their children to memorise:
“The Quran will come on the Day of Judgment like a pale man saying to its companion, “Do you recognize me? I am the one who made you stay up at night and made you thirsty during the day. Today every merchant is after his merchandise and today I am for you behind every merchant.” Then he will be given dominion in his right hand and eternity in his left, and a crown of dignity will be placed upon his head, and his parents will be clothed with garments which far surpass everything to be found in this world. They will say, “O Lord, how did we earn this.” It will be said to them, “Because you taught your child the Quran.” [Al-Albaani: Saheeh] [Emphasis added]
The source for the above quote also mentions what some teachers think about beating as a teaching tool:
The most important difficulty is the weakness of the children’s abilities and their failure to achieve the desired progress in addition to dyslexia. Nevertheless, I know the best methods that suit each child and achieve the best results. In fact, children are very different, some of them do not memorize without beating, while others only need little instruction. It is natural to maintain a strong connection with the parents to encourage them to take care of their children and follow up their progress with them. [Emphasis added]
Another teacher – and both we hear from are women:
When the children hear these words, I feel as if light flows from their faces. I do not like beating. Instead, I punish the children who do not memorise through showing anger for a while.
This makes me call into question whether such things are happening on a widespread level in my own back yard behind closed doors. This is not the Sunday School I used to go to.
So when RDF says Religion Kills Again it is not the hyperbole some would have us think, that this was just the lone act of a crazed woman, because religion can take the maternal instinct and use it to make a mother beat her child out of love and concern for their future after life.
That is the problem when people take faith at face value, just like the prophet said earlier. Modernity needs to give this practise the slap in the face it deserves.
UPDATE 4/4/2013 mother has been sentenced to minimum of 17 years; father has been found not guilty.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog
Sam Harris said of the Koran after quoting numerous passages:
But there is no substitute for confronting the text itself. I cannot judge the quality of the Arabic; perhaps it is sublime. But the book’s contents are not. On almost every page, the Koran instructs observant Muslims to despise nonbelievers. On almost every page, it prepares the ground for religious conflict. Anyone who can read passages like those quoted above and still not see a link between Muslim faith and Muslim violence should probably consult a neurologist.
With many quotes from the Koran in the link above that make you think that, should you wish to commit violence in the name of Allah, you will find references for such actions that you do so on behalf of god. While there are Muslims that do not believe in using violence and are secularist – not less the Bangladeshi community in my town who fled fundamentalism – the question of how we take away the oxygen that make people feel the Koran is a book that orders Jihad rather than one of metaphor, poetry and a history of a people living in a superstitious supernatural world is one that needs answering without fearing to ask the question.
I still remember when Ayaan Hirsi Ali was receiving death threats at a conference in Washington DC that they did think about cancelling her talk, but she went ahead. I am so glad that we got to hear what she had to say.
The treading on egg shells when a teacher allows her class to name a teddy bear Mohammad faces a murderous mob, a journalist student suffering imprisonment and the threat of the death penalty for starting a debate on feminism and the Prophet, the drawing of cartoons and over the top reaction to when people say that Islam is wrong need challenging.
This can be done without concern for sensitivities or treating people like they need wrapping up in cotton wool for fear that they cannot cope with rational debate without strapping explosives to themselves in response to have the last word. We do not help moderate Muslims that keep their faith in the private sphere if we fear making such criticism or scrutinizing what the text and belief are of Islam. That forgets how Christianity developed to where it is now in the UK.
To this end we need more articles like that of Johann Hari, from The Independent which I re post below:
Johann Hari: We need to stop being such cowards about Islam
Thursday, 14 August 2008
This is a column condemning cowardice – including my own. It begins with the story of a novel you cannot read. The Jewel of Medina was written by a journalist called Sherry Jones. It recounts the life of Aisha, a girl who was married off at the age of six to a 50-year-old man called Mohamed ibn Abdallah. On her wedding day, Aisha was playing on a see-saw outside her home. Inside, she was being betrothed. The first she knew of it was when she was banned from playing out in the street with the other children. When she was nine, she was taken to live with her husband, now 53. He had sex with her. When she was 14, she was accused of adultery with a man closer to her own age. Not long after, Mohamed decreed that his wives must cover their faces and bodies, even though no other women in Arabia did.
You cannot read this story today – except in the Koran and the Hadith. The man Mohamed ibn Abdallah became known to Muslims as “the Prophet Mohamed”, so our ability to explore this story is stunted. The Jewel of Medina was bought by Random House and primed to be a best-seller – before a University of Texas teacher saw proofs and declared it “a national security issue”. Random House had visions of a re-run of the Rushdie or the Danish cartoons affairs. Sherry Jones’s publisher has pulped the book. It’s gone.
In Europe, we are finally abolishing the lingering blasphemy laws that hinder criticism of Christianity. But they are being succeeded by a new blasphemy law preventing criticism of Islam – enforced not by the state, but by jihadis. I seriously considered not writing this column, but the right to criticise religion is as precious – and hard-won – as the right to criticise government. We have to use it or lose it.
Some people will instantly ask: why bother criticising religion if it causes so much hassle? The answer is: look back at our history. How did Christianity lose its ability to terrorise people with phantasms of sin and Hell? How did it stop spreading shame about natural urges – pre-marital sex, masturbation or homosexuality? Because critics pored over the religion’s stories and found gaping holes of logic or morality in them. They asked questions. How could an angel inseminate a virgin? Why does the Old Testament God command his followers to commit genocide? How can a man survive inside a whale?
Reinterpretation and ridicule crow-barred Christianity open. Ask enough tough questions and faith is inevitably pushed farther and farther back into the misty realm of metaphor – where it is less likely to inspire people to kill and die for it. But doubtful Muslims, and the atheists who support them, are being prevented from following this path. They cannot ask: what does it reveal about Mohamed that he married a young girl, or that he massacred a village of Jews who refused to follow him? You don’t have to murder many Theo Van Goghs or pulp many Sherry Joneses to intimidate the rest. The greatest censorship is internal: it is in all the books that will never be written and all the films that will never be shot, because we are afraid.
We need to acknowledge the double-standard – and that it will cost Muslims in the end. Insulating a religion from criticism – surrounding it with an electric fence called “respect” – keeps it stunted at its most infantile and fundamentalist stage. The smart, questioning and instinctively moral Muslims – the majority – learn to be silent, or are shunned (at best). What would Christianity be like today if George Eliot, Mark Twain and Bertrand Russell had all been pulped? Take the most revolting rural Alabama church, and metastasise it.
Since Jones has brought it up, let us look at Mohamed’s marriage to Aisha as a model for how we can conduct this conversation. It is true those were different times, and it may have been normal for grown men to have sex with prepubescent girls. The sources are not clear on this point. But whatever culture you live in, having sex when your body is not physically developed can be an excruciatingly painful experience. Among Vikings, it was more normal than today to have your arm chopped off, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t agony. If anything, Jones’s book whitewashes this, suggesting that Mohamed’s “gentleness” meant Aisha enjoyed it.
The story of Aisha also prompts another fundamentalist-busting discussion. You cannot say that Mohamed’s decision to marry a young girl has to be judged by the standards of his time, and then demand that we follow his moral standards to the letter. Either we should follow his example literally, or we should critically evaluate it and choose for ourselves. Discussing this contradiction inevitably injects doubt – the mortal enemy of fanaticism (on The Independent’s Open House blog later today, I’ll be discussing how Aisha has become the central issue in a debate in Yemen about children and forced marriage).
So why do many people who cheer The Life Of Brian and Jerry Springer: The Opera turn into clucking Mary Whitehouses when it comes to Islam? If a book about Christ was being dumped because fanatics in Mississippi might object, we would be enraged. I feel this too. I am ashamed to say I would be more scathing if I was discussing Christianity. One reason is fear: the image of Theo Van Gogh lying on a pavement crying “Can’t we just talk about this?” Of course we rationalise it, by asking: does one joke, one column, one novel make much difference? No. But cumulatively? Absolutely.
The other reason is more honourable, if flawed. There is very real and rising prejudice against Muslims across the West. The BBC recently sent out identically-qualified CVs to hundreds of employers. Those with Muslim names were 50 per cent less likely to get interviews. Criticisms of Islamic texts are sometimes used to justify US or Israeli military atrocities. Some critics of Muslims – Geert Wilders or Martin Amis – moot mass human rights abuses here in Europe. So some secularists reason: I have plenty of criticisms of Judaism, but I wouldn’t choose to articulate them in Germany in 1933. Why try to question Islam now, when Muslims are being attacked by bigots?
But I live in the Muslim majority East End of London, and this isn’t Weimar Germany. Muslims are secure enough to deal with some tough questions. It is condescending to treat Muslims like excitable children who cannot cope with the probing, mocking treatment we hand out to Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. It is perfectly consistent to protect Muslims from bigotry while challenging the bigotries and absurdities within their holy texts.
There is now a pincer movement trying to silence critical discussion of Islam. To one side, fanatics threaten to kill you; to the other, critics call you “Islamophobic”. But consistent atheism is not racism. On the contrary: it treats all people as mature adults who can cope with rational questions. When we pulp books out of fear of fundamentalism, we are decapitating the most precious freedom we have.