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“The Truth About Islam” blog
Posted: 31 January 2008 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Freethinkaluva - 31 January 2008 08:06 AM

from post 7 - “40 percent of muslims in the UK want Sharia law”

And of course, by “Sharia law” you naturally assume they mean the extremist interpretation of Sharia, right?  There is nothing in the Quran that mandates the chopping off of limbs, “honour” killings, etc. etc.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 11:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Jason From NYC - 31 January 2008 09:58 AM

If you don’t mind my two cents, I think one of the problems when discussing a religion is the confusion when one doesn’t separate philosophy from sociology. What the religions says (as exemplified in the documents) and how nominal adherents behave may have nothing to do with each other. Let’s face it; people can be lax, lapsed, and hypocrites. I know many Muslims and Christians that use the labels as an ethnic identifier.

It’s the devout that are a problem. The problem is those who live as their religion demands—faith instead of reason and submission to authority instead of independent thought. Today’s problem is first and foremost Islam. Most Christians just don’t realize how secular they are. I think this is a great opportunity to point that out. Don’t others agree?

Thanks for your “two cents”, Jason, and I agree except for the “today’s problem is first and foremost Islam” attitude.  We need to be very clear that the “War on Terror” is not a religious war, even though that is how the terrorists would like to characterize it.  The battle lines are drawn not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but between moderates (both Muslim and non-Muslim) and extremists.  That’s why it’s not just unfair but extremely unhelpful for the West to stereotype Muslims.  Western Islamophobia is Al Qaeda’s best recruiting tool.

[ Edited: 31 January 2008 12:14 PM by Ron Webb ]
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Posted: 31 January 2008 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Jason From NYC - 31 January 2008 09:58 AM

If you don’t mind my two cents, I think one of the problems when discussing a religion is the confusion when one doesn’t separate philosophy from sociology. What the religions says (as exemplified in the documents) and how nominal adherents behave may have nothing to do with each other. Let’s face it; people can be lax, lapsed, and hypocrites. I know many Muslims and Christians that use the labels as an ethnic identifier.

It’s the devout that are a problem. The problem is those who live as their religion demands—faith instead of reason and submission to authority instead of independent thought. Today’s problem is first and foremost Islam. Most Christians just don’t realize how secular they are. I think this is a great opportunity to point that out. Don’t others agree?

I’m with you on that Jason From NYC. When it comes to Islam, it’s *NOT* just the extremists we much be on the look out for - the devout Muslim simply cannot be trusted to put objectivity, reason nor life itself above Islam, sharia, the Koran, Muhammad etc. 

Here’s what X-Muslims are saying:

“Faith Freedom International is a grassroots movement of ex-Muslims. Its goals are to (a) unmask Islam and show that it is an imperialistic ideology akin to Nazism but disguised as religion and (b) to help Muslims leave it, end this culture of hate caused by their “us” vs. “them” ethos and embrace the human race in amity. Islam, the most insidious doctrine of hate. Islam can’t be reformed. Islam is rigid but brittle, that is why Muslims do not tolerate criticism of it. All we (X—Muslims) have to do is tell the truth. It’s that simple. The truth about Islam is out. It’s all here in this site. With truth, the decent Muslims will leave Islam

Faith Freedom stands for freedom of faith. We are against Hate, not Faith. We revere human rights not human beliefs. We endeavor to be factually correct, not politically correct.
http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles.htm

Christianity is certainly no better but Christians in America can give a special thanks to the SECULAR US Constitution and the 1st Amendment as well as the principle of Separation of church and state. Something Islam and Muslims have never had. Islam today is acting similar to the mid-evil times during the Inquisitions - no one can say anything negative towards Islam. Insulting Islam will get you killed. As if there is a guy named Islam who could be insulted - no it’s the ideology stupid…

Here’s one recent example:

“Afghanistan’s Senate welcomes reporter’s death sentence for insulting Islam”
January 30, 2008
http://www.wlos.com/template/inews_wire/wires.international/308221e2-www.wlos.com.shtml

What? What’s this, I thought the US went in to straighten them out? It doesn’t appear that anything has changed at all.

“Religious freedom is one thing,” says Joan Bokaer, director of TheocracyWatch, a project of the Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy (CRESP) at Cornell University. “But religious extremism is something completely different. What people aren’t aware of is just how deeply the radical religious right has penetrated our government—in all three branches. We really are very close to becoming a theocracy. People have reason to be worried.”

View these videos:

1. “Life and Liberty for All Who Believe”

2. “The Rise of Dominionism”

http://www.theocracywatch.org/audio-video.htm

Again, lets not just gloss over these videos of Muslims speaking to thousands of other Muslims
http://islamwatchers.blogspot.com

;

[ Edited: 31 January 2008 01:14 PM by Freethinkaluva ]
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Posted: 31 January 2008 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Maybe you both aren’t so far apart as you seem. Let me test this hypothesis.

How does one become a moderate with regard to a religion? What I like to do is distinguish between being moderate by being lax and being moderate by creating a new strain or denomination of the religion.

A nominal adherent of any ideology or philosophy can be moderate by slacking off be it Islam, Christianity, or Communism. Purists will be quick to call them on it but often large groups and even majorities ignore the basic tenets of their ideology.

On the other hand, a new variant or denomination of a religion can be created that jettisons some of the dogmas by adopting humane doctrines and practices. These new variants are usually influenced by the challenges of secular philosophy. Of course, I hold they aren’t properly grounded and they are always in danger of recidivism. But one can go for several generations without problems.

Moderates in Islam tend to be of the first kind: they are lax, cafeteria Muslims, or merely mechanical (ritualistic) in their practice. I believe this was the dominant practice until what is known as the Islamic Revival. Muslims generally don’t talk about fundamentalist, radical, or extremist Islam but of a revival of Islam. Many (I believe most) would like to shrug it off but the devout are gaining the upper hand.

Thus, demographically I believe most Muslims are still moderate. But I believe this is because they don’t want to take seriously the example of Mohammad, who was a political and military leader that plundered, slaughtered, and conquered in the name of this creed. The moderates should be praised.

Islam itself, however, isn’t moderate. How can any doctrine that believes in blind submission to the authority in the conquest and domination of others be moderate? But one must praise hypocrisy when it comes to any religion. It’s a step in the right direction.

Perhaps we should consider the statement of ibn Warraq: “There are moderate Muslims but there is no moderate Islam.” Comments?

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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Jason From NYC - 31 January 2008 01:15 PM

Maybe you both aren’t so far apart as you seem. Let me test this hypothesis.

How does one become a moderate with regard to a religion? What I like to do is distinguish between being moderate by being lax and being moderate by creating a new strain or denomination of the religion.

A nominal adherent of any ideology or philosophy can be moderate by slacking off be it Islam, Christianity, or Communism. Purists will be quick to call them on it but often large groups and even majorities ignore the basic tenets of their ideology.

On the other hand, a new variant or denomination of a religion can be created that jettisons some of the dogmas by adopting humane doctrines and practices. These new variants are usually influenced by the challenges of secular philosophy. Of course, I hold they aren’t properly grounded and they are always in danger of recidivism. But one can go for several generations without problems.

Moderates in Islam tend to be of the first kind: they are lax, cafeteria Muslims, or merely mechanical (ritualistic) in their practice. I believe this was the dominant practice until what is known as the Islamic Revival. Muslims generally don’t talk about fundamentalist, radical, or extremist Islam but of a revival of Islam. Many (I believe most) would like to shrug it off but the devout are gaining the upper hand.

I don’t think that’s right at all.  IMHO moderates of any religion are those who place reason, common sense and compassion ahead of dogmatic authority.  When they encounter a passage in Scripture or a statement from a religious leader that they realize is utterly stupid or barbaric, they say to themselves, “That simply can’t be right.”  Then they proceed to find rationalizations that explain it away: the passage is metaphorical or superceded by another, or the leader was misquoted or mistranslated or is getting senile, or whatever.  Some of these rationalizations may seem bizarre or implausible to the rest of us, but we shouldn’t be too surprised about it. Anyone who can believe the basic premises of most religions is capable of believing just about anything. smirk

Thus, demographically I believe most Muslims are still moderate. But I believe this is because they don’t want to take seriously the example of Mohammad, who was a political and military leader that plundered, slaughtered, and conquered in the name of this creed. The moderates should be praised.

As should moderate Christians who have found ways to explain away the many, many atrocities in the Bible.

Islam itself, however, isn’t moderate. How can any doctrine that believes in blind submission to the authority in the conquest and domination of others be moderate?

Obviously it can’t—which is why moderate Muslims don’t believe anything of the sort.  There’s nothing in the Quran that demands the “conquest and domination of others”.

... Perhaps we should consider the statement of ibn Warraq: “There are moderate Muslims but there is no moderate Islam.” Comments?

I’m sure Osama bin Laden would agree with that.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 03:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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Freethinkaluva - 31 January 2008 12:16 PM

Christianity is certainly no better but Christians in America can give a special thanks to the SECULAR US Constitution and the 1st Amendment as well as the principle of Separation of church and state. Something Islam and Muslims have never had.

Huh?  Muslims in America share the same secular Constitution, etc. that we do.  In most cases that’s why they came here in the first place.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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Ron, I don’t buy it. If that were so true, then why didn’t Muslims in Afghanistan choose to incorporate a separation of church and state into their brand spanking new Constitution? Instead we have them murdering a young 23 year old because they claimed he insulted Islam…is that what you want in the US? Why do 25% of young Muslims support suicide bombings? And why do Muslims poll so high in their desire for sharia law in western countries? It doesn’t make sense, you’re either completely wrong or Muslims are lying in the polls.

Even Christians are fighting the first amendment and the principle of separation of church and state. Can you name any Muslims who came to the US just because of separation of church and state? Islam is definitely against it even in a Muslim country let alone an infidel country.

Dhimwit:

“A non-Muslim member of a free society that abets the stated cause of Islamic domination with remarkable gullibility. A dhimwit is always quick to extend sympathy to the very enemy that would take away his or her own freedom (or life) if given the opportunity.”
http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Pages/Dhimwits.htm

There is no such thing as a moderate in regards to Islam or Christianity. Again, Christianity has been tamed by the SECULAR US Constitution while Islam has not.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 07:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Freethinkaluva - 31 January 2008 07:16 PM

There is no such thing as a moderate in regards to Islam or Christianity. Again, Christianity has been tamed by the SECULAR US Constitution while Islam has not.

This is where I have to object, at least in the regards of Christians.  Spong, Schori, and a whole slew of others I know are not extremists.  They are very liberal and hardly moderate.  Now the Conservatives, some of them are extremists.  Thing is, I think this statment is taking it a bit too far, esp. concerning some of the Christians I know.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 31 January 2008 07:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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Some xians are the exception to the rule.

I have to agree that xianity is not any better than islam. It still teaches hatred in many churches, if not the majority: hatred of gays, hatred of science. The recent veneer of niceness is for the most part just that, a veneer.

There are “tame” muslims and extremist muslims, there are “tame” xians and extremist xians. The bible is just as full of horrors as the koran is.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve spent the past 9 months arguing with evangelicals and fundamentalist xians online, but there is as much small minded, insular, and xenophobic “righteousness” as there is in islam. Just because xians haven’t gone on a purging spree (i.e. Inquisition style) lately, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

I can’t even say that xians aren’t killing in the name of god right now, because our commander in chief has brought the god concept into his reasons for war in Iraq. He thinks god has blessed this war. he thinks that god talks to him. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, and all because of the zealot in the White House and his very xian advisors.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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Mriana, I tend to agree with FTaL amd A_P.  While you are correct that there are some “christians” of the Spong type, they are certainly not typical, and as FTaL said, to some extent U.S. christianity has been tamed by our secular constitution.  Quite possibly, there would be no Spongs, et al, if they hadn’t grown up under the influence of this secular document.

Occam

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Posted: 31 January 2008 08:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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I wasn’t including all Christians.  I did say some.  I also know several who would sooner do bodily harm to their own child if they denied God.  The thing is…  I don’t know what the thing is, except I do know there are some who don’t agree at all with the extremists.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 10:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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There are a lot more moderates in Christianity then there is in Islam. By far, the vast majority of Christians are moderates, this whole fundementalist phase is largely a US-thing, although strains like pentecostal are on the rise. 

The largest problem here is that the more moderate forms of Islam were purged and are being purged. The largest killer of muslims isn’t the US army, it’s other muslims killing each other over differences in doctrine, tribal lines, or just plain stupidity.

Now Christianity has gone though vast changes and has a 500 year head start. 500 years ago, Christianity was a much uglier beast, this shouldn’t be a justification of Muslims however, because they, like us, live now and here in this present and a lot of the behaviors we are seeing are just not acceptable.  It is true that secularism largely tamed Christianity, and secularism has a longer history in Christian nations were atheists hid as deists or very liberal Christians reforming Christian thought in general. I cannot say that the US constitution started it, but it was a product of an already well established fountain head of deists and almost deist-like theists pushing the envelope.

Here is the basic problem as I see it currently. Extremists are trying to chill the press in free nations where secularism is the standard to blunt criticisms from the mainstream media, and at the same time, they put pressure on the moderate forces within Islam with the concept of Halal. Moderates are being held at knife point by the Koran, and by the idea that any apostate should be put to death. The koran is explicit and a large number of moderates still believe this is true because the Koran is so explicit.

And, like Sam Harris has pointed out, this whole debate over what is real Islam only engenders the extremists and gives them something to hide under. Frankly, the moderates aren’t doing enough.

This whole mess will have to be sorted out by secularists who won’t accept poor behavoir or religion as an excuse. I am not sure moderates in religion can do much since the whole debate is clouded by concepts like faith and belief and god concepts with commandments and so on. The moderates really are supporting the extremists, the logical conclusion of any god belief has to be extremism. The whole idea of letting others be, pluralistic societies and god-belief as a life affirming thing and not some literal truth all come from those who lean toward secularism/humanism/atheism/deism, or eastern societies like India which was the case with Martin Luther King Jr.

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Posted: 31 January 2008 10:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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One factor that makes Islam so much stronger to the individual than christianity is their very clever requirement that the member must stop and pray six times a day.  That is a brilliant brainwashing technique that pretty well assures that the person is completely subservient to whatever the authorities tell him/her is the case or is to be done.

Occam

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Posted: 01 February 2008 01:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Some great posts!

I should add that PEOPLE (Spong) can be moderate - Islam and Christianity can not. Moderate Christianity, Islam doesn’t exist as that would make no sense. There is no democracy or moderation in Islam or Christianity.

“What is moderate xianity anyway ... Jesus was only sort of the son of god, he only somewhat rose from the dead, your eternal soul is at stake but don’t worry about it”
~ TGWWT movie

Anybody want to create a similar comparison for Islam?

“The moderation we see among nonfundamentalists is not some sign that faith itself has evolved; it is, rather, the product of the many hammer blows of modernity that have exposed certain tenets of faith to doubt.”

“While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. From the perspective of those seeking to live by the letter of the texts, the religious moderate is nothing more than a failed fundamentalist. He is, in all likelihood, going to wind up in hell with the rest of the unbelievers.”
~ “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris

Isn’t it interesting that there exists no democracy in the bible? The god of the bible is certainly no moderate either.

“Nowhere in Scripture will you find an acknowledgment that each individual has an “inalienable right” to be treated with fairness and respect, or that “We, the People” are capable of governing ourselves. There is no democracy in the “word of God.” In the bible, humans are “worms” and “sinners” deserving damnation, “slaves” who should humbly submit to all kings, heavenly and earthly.”

“American laws are based on a secular constitution, not the bible. Any scriptures that might support a good law do so only because they have met the test of human values, which long predate the ineffective Ten Commandments.”
http://www.ffrf.org/about/bybarker/goodness.php

“When you consider that God could have commanded anything he wanted—anything!—the Ten [Commandments] have got to rank as one of the great missed moral opportunities of all time. How different history would have been had he clearly and unmistakably forbidden war, tyranny, taking over other people’s countries, slavery, exploitation of workers, cruelty to children, wife-beating, stoning, treating women—or anyone—as chattel or inferior beings.”
~ Katha Pollitt

Same for Islam. Is this the best God can do or is there simply no god at all? I see no reason to believe a god exists at all but, if there is - he sucks at it and should be fired.

Indeed, I like the quote at the top of the new Hirsi Ali website

“Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice”
http://ayaanhirsiali.org

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 01:31 AM by Freethinkaluva ]
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Posted: 01 February 2008 06:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Ron Webb - 31 January 2008 03:46 PM

I don’t think that’s right at all.  IMHO moderates of any religion are those who place reason, common sense and compassion ahead of dogmatic authority.

I certainly agree there.

When they encounter a passage in Scripture or a statement from a religious leader that they realize is utterly stupid or barbaric, they say to themselves, “That simply can’t be right.”  Then they proceed to find rationalizations that explain it away: the passage is metaphorical or superceded by another, or the leader was misquoted or mistranslated or is getting senile, or whatever.

Yes, that’s one of the means of dealing with religious dogma: reinterpretation. In history reinterpretation has been a major means of creating new denominations and transformations as well as allowing individuals to rationalize reasonable (or unreasonable) behavior.

But you ignore the other means: evasion. Often religion is just ignored or marginalized. It’s important to see how both dynamics work and how different cultures and different religions have used one or the other or both. But this is sociology. Philosophy (i.e. the texts) are another matter as I note:

Islam itself, however, isn’t moderate. How can any doctrine that believes in blind submission to the authority in the conquest and domination of others be moderate?

Obviously it can’t—which is why moderate Muslims don’t believe anything of the sort.  There’s nothing in the Quran that demands the “conquest and domination of others”.

This is stunning. I’ve referred to Mohammad’s example of plunder, slaughter, and conquest. You don’t seem to be familiar with the Koran, Hadith, or Sira. These are a prerequisite to a fruitful discussion.

[ Edited: 01 February 2008 09:26 AM by Jason From NYC ]
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