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Some Thoughts On Islam

If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city. Deuteronomy 22:23-24

You know what they say on the Internet; post in haste, repent at leisure.

I just posted a counterpoint to Cats’s post below showing some Islamic justice and its justification in the Koran; mine was a list of nasty “who to stone, and why” from the Bible. I posted it because it seemed Cats was sort of carrying on this argument over at Samizdata which started off about the elder brother of Charles I and ended up about Islam, via a thing about whether the current turmoil in the Islamic world is a parallel to the turmoil in Christendom during the Reformation. But then I thought it looked kind of pissy to have posted that here, like a spoiler to Cats’s post which, having repented at leisure I guess it was to some extent, so I’ve just taken it down again and praised the Lord for having admin rights.

Still, I think the question that developed at Samizdata- can Islam reform?- is really quite an interesting one. I think most of us here at Cats probably agree that Islamic “justice” and much of the nature of Islamic society as it currently stands is not something we find very admirable, to put it mildly. The question therefore is, “can Islam become something more admirable?”. That is, can you have a society which is muslim but also adopts western/enlightenment values?

Cats and various other posters say the answer to that is no. That is, that the nature of Islam is fixed by the Koran, which by being a clear and unambiguous set of rules which all Muslims must follow, fixes the society in stone, or traps it in amber, or some other such metaphor I’m struggling with right now. But I disagree. I think that the history of Judaism and Christianity; both brothers of Islam (well, Judaism is the father, or the mother) show that religions can change, and I do not think that Islam is actually any different. I think that buying into the idea that the current form of Islam is the only possible form plays into the hands of our opponents, the jihadis.

The extreme, violent, absolutist stylee of Islam is characterised by various Islamic sectors; Wahabbi, Deobandi and so on. But the particular Bin Laden form has a very clear pedigree, and a very recent one too. It is the form of Islam developed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a reactionary movement founded in 1928 by one Hassan Al Banana, with the intention, as with all fundamentalisms, of taking Islam back to some perceived “true, pure” root. The ideological basis though isn’t down to Banna anywhere near so much as down to a sad little twerp called Sayyid Qutb, who developed in a series of books the basic ideas that now drive Al Quaida. The central belief espoused was that only pure sharia is proper Islam, and anything else is “jahiliyyah”; not really Muslim at all. This reactionary philosophy was a reaction against the fact that the muslim world was evolving to modernity, becoming slowly more liberal under western influence, even discussing such issues as feminism.

But if we as western non-muslims accept this view; that there is only one possible path a muslim can follow, and any muslim who strays from Qutb’s purist sharia isn’t following the religion properly; and this view is widely espoused among anti-jihadists in the west, who insist that Islam has this particular character engraved into it by the Koran; then we shoot ourselves in the foot. We help the Islamists- extremists who are determined to lock their fellow muslims into a mediaeval ideological straitjacket- to achieve their aims. We are saying to the young muslim, “if you are a real muslim, you should follow violent jihad and desire a global caliphate, and you should wear the burka” and so on, and slamming the door on the muslim who says, “I just want to get on quietly with my life and go to the mosque like you guys go to church”. If we say that the only form of Islam is jihadism, can we blame them for saying, “oh well fair enough, jihadism it is then”.

Is there another path open to Muslims? I think there is. I do not believe that any set of words is immutable, and that is especially true of religious texts. Christians and modern Jews routinely ignore various clearly stated rules in the Bible. The Book Of Acts tells Christians not to eat strangled animals, but most Christians enjoy a turkey or goose at Christmas. The Jews no longer stone disobedient children, even though the Torah is absolutely clear on the need for that, and Judaism just as much requires obedience to the Torah as Islam to the Koran; indeed the nature of Judaic Law and Sharia are effectively the same since Islam is just Judaism for Arabs. The difference is that modern Jews take a different personal attitude to extremist muslims, that is all.

So to declare that Islam is inherently all the violence and nastiness of the Koran is wrong both logically and strategically. Islam isn’t going to go away. The hundreds of millions of believers aren’t going to suddenly become atheists. If we in the non-muslim world say that the only possible Islam is the one espoused by Al Quaida, we become their enablers. And we really shouldn’t want to be that.

21 Comments

  1. CountingCats says:

    Wot?

    Would you like to repeat that first paragraph? This time slowly.

    Post what you like, I kinda like the idea of the discussions spanning blogs. If you post something dissing me, well, fine. I’m a big boy and if I don’t like it I’ll just pout a bit.

    It’s not as if I can pick up the blog and take it home, it’s already in my living room.

  2. Westerlyman says:

    Ian. Such a shame that the earlier discussion was reduced to name calling.

    It is an interesting subject and I enjoyed reading your views, as always.

    Though I still am not convinced by your argument, I hope that you are right. The alternative does not bear thinking about if the fundamentalists manage to take more control of the Muslim zeitgeist. The only positive note to that thought is that most Muslim cultures are not known for their ability to organise anything very effectively. Thankfully, it seems that the fairly well educated perpetrators of 9/11 were the exception and most fundamentalists are poor, and poorly educated.

  3. Ian B says:

    Thanks Westerlyman.

    I should emphasise that I’m not making predictions; I’m not saying that Islam will take this turn towards moderate values. Right now, I think we’d all agree it’s going in the opposite direction. I’m just trying to address the question of whether it possibly can. And I don’t think it helps much to support the fanatics’ position that anyone who tries to be a moderate muslim really is an apostate. There isn’t much realistic hope in the foreseeable future of Islam just disappearing; the best we can pragmatically hope for is a moderate Islam; if nothing else, at least moderate in the sense of not spawning endless legions of terrorists. That does seem at least feasible, if not very likely right now.

    I also feel a bit weird that right now in a virtual sense I’m in Cats’s living room. I hope there’s something good on the telly and a beer or two in the fridge.

  4. Bod says:

    You check out the remote, and I’ll search for change in the sofa, Ian.

  5. steng says:

    When we have finished discussing Islam — and many of us westerners have enjoyed a rousing debate among ourselves as to what it means and doesn’t mean and why — we cannot easily separate the fact that in essence the muslim mind by their definitions has to dislike all we are.

    We are not muslim and do not adhere, so try as we might we are flawed.

    The track record of muslims is not impressive (whether or not other religions are or were of equal intent; relativism does not always serve us well) and certainly the majority of muslims across the world who die violently are killed by other muslims. Yet the west is blamed. A war of sorts is brought to us, even in shades of a social confrontation.

    Up to a fairly recent point our (for this read we westerners) interaction with Islam and their beliefs was limited. Now, for whatever reason, it is far more in our faces. The aggression is obvious, the intentions thinly veiled (no pun intended) and the outcome assumed by growing numbers on the moon side to be assured. Right is on their side, as defined by their own beliefs and holy writings. Writings that can be interpreted in any way seen fit.

    One of the issues that bedevils our multi-culti ‘integration’ is the growing number of young muslims who wear what may be their so-called traditional dress in the west: the other day I saw a girl dressed entirely in a black salwar kameez with only hands and face visible (hair covered entirely, feet hidden) going to a local comprehensive school. As it happens the local comp demands the student wears a green sweatshirt or jumper with the school crest on it. The girl wore that, but it was the minimal offering to a way of life either she or her family did not share. Now, she may have been unhappy that she is told to do this. While other classmates may wear mini-skirts, she has no choice but to obey. But obey she will. Islam repeatedly demonstrates it is not a matter of choice. The dictat is handed down, and is used to separate ‘us and them’ at every opportunity.

    You have to ask, as we are being so mature about this, how this can be resolved? The girl I saw will almost inevitably marry a muslim male. She may not be allowed to choose her partner, and he may do as he wishes even to her detriment (though she may be lucky and marry a good, sensible man). One of the students of an aunt of mine had learning difficulties: he was duly married off to a young girl from Pakistan who he had never met and by all accounts had no learning difficulties. She was shipped to the UK to be a good wife and one might wonder how she weeps in the privacy of her home. Let us hope not.

    So is this important? Yes, it is. People we believe are free to do as they wish, or at least should be. That is our basic premise. But there is no choice for many in Islam. And it becomes more significant when the actions of the militants and the aggressive faithful impacts on non-muslims.

    Increasingly there is every evidence in the UK that such an impact is growing, not abating. The problem, in short, is not going to go away any time soon. It may diminish in many years or generations, but right now seems to be fuelled by a determination to be more pious, more holy and a lot more confrontational.

  6. berenike says:

    The Acts of the Apostles doesn’t say that Christians may not eat the flesh of strangled animals – it recounts a council at which it was decided that Gentile converts (just checked – in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia) should be asked to refrain from eating the meat of strangled animals. It’s a disciplinary decision, presumably to keep the peace and to avoid causing too much upset for the Jewish converts.

    Bear in mind that the old testament, for Christianity, is precisely the *old* testament (some of the more home-made versions of protestantism ought to remember that too, of course!). As far as Christianity is concerned, just as you can wear mixed fibres, shake hands with a menstruating women, and eat octopus, mussels, and a kid boiled in its mother’s milk, so you don’t have to stone anyone.

    The Koran is or purports to be a single piece of writing. The Bible, even just the Old Testament, is a collection of hugely disparate pieces of writing. Even for the Jews, the central fact, reality, of the whole God-man thing is not the Book(s): the Scriptures are a record of the central fact, and not a complete one.

    I don’t know what the Talmud commentaries say about stoning, or what contemporary non-wishy-washy-anglicany Judaism says about it, but the gospel of Matthew says of St Joseph that when he found out his fiancee was pregnant, “he had a mind to put her away quietly, because he was a just man“.

    Long comment, and I’m no expert, but since you seem to be interested in the whole matter I though I’d chuck in a coupleof things I’ve noticed that people often haven’t tumbled to. It’ll save you time/puzzlement :) You’ve just inspired me to read that Islam book I picked up in France at New Year :D

  7. berenike says:

    ps

    A lot of interesting stuff here that you won’t find much of elsewhere in the Angloweb, interesting in itself and as a starting point:

    http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/islam?eng=y

    Here are points 6 and 7 agreed on at a discussion meeting between Shiite Muslims and Catholics a couple of years ago, useful in the context of the current post :) :

    “6. Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions within Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.

    “7. Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them.”

    (Don’t write it off because it’s a “Catholic” column/site – the events are often high-powered ones, and the reporting is absolutely first-rate. You can actually learn actual stuff about actual stuff.)

  8. berenike says:

    Oh, I wrote a long PS as well and the machine ate it. Oh well.

    I was going to mention this site, and quote from it these two points agreed at a Shiite-Catholic colloquium in Rome two years ago:
    “6. Generalization should be avoided when speaking of religions. Differences of confessions within Christianity and Islam, diversity of historical contexts are important factors to be considered.

    “7. Religious traditions cannot be judged on the basis of a single verse or a passage present in their respective holy Books. A holistic vision as well as an adequate hermeneutical method is necessary for a fair understanding of them.”

    And this magazine thingy which I keep meaning to read; it’s quite new, and looks as though it could be very useful.

  9. Endivio R says:

    I had a bust-up in the comments section on my blog a while back about the Reinos de Taifas. As it’s in Spanish, I won’t refer you to it, but in essence it was this: I had posted echoing some of the stuff I’d picked up in Spanish Hist. at Oxford, about the marvellous tolerance of the Islamic strongholds in medieval Spain, and a regular commenter who hates Islam’s guts wrote that this was crap and provided chapter and verse (dubious, in one or two cases) about Islamic atrocities against Christians in or around (give or take the odd century or two) the stated time and place(s). Right now I won’t try and persuade anyone I’m right about this but simply state that the following is taught in some respectable places and that the truth of the matter is presumably googlable for those with more time on their hands than I have.

    You wanna see the high point of Islamic cultural achievement, go to Granada and walk around the Alhambra (you’ll need to book a day or two in advance), or check out the mosque in Cordoba. These and other marvels date back to when a large part of Spain was called Al-Andalus and was territory controlled by a fairly remote (Damascus) Islamic caliphate. What was notable about the local religious leaders (and this partly accounts for the successive waves of “invasions” by the likes of the Almohads and the Almoravids) is that while they came with the best of proselytising and sharia-enforcing intentions, so seduced were they by the local culture, and in particular the abundance of that luxury commodity, water, that they tended to settle into the same pattern of live and let live. In short, they promoted communities of diverse religious faiths. Yes, certain privileges were reserved for Muslims, but on the whole there was tolerance and respect between practitioners of the Religions of the Book. There are records of Islamic emirs appointing practising Christians as military commanders to defend their strongholds against invasion, for heaven’s sake. One especially notable aspect of this period of history is the respect all, or nearly all, Islamic spiritual leaders had for artistic achievement. They prided themselves on writing the best poetry and producing the best music, and many Christians and Jews seemed to agree with them, given that the latter often learned and mimicked Arabic poetic forms. If you could turn out a good love poem in a recognised Arabic form, basically, you were quids in with these guys.

    Then the Christians finally booted them out of the Iberian peninsula. What did they then do? Expel the Jews, and forcibly “convert” all remaining Muslims: zero tolerance. Quite a contrast.

    OK, all that was a long time ago. But it’s interesting that this is not dead history for some. Bin Laden is on record as declaring the old Al-Andalus a prize worth fighting for. Trouble is, he wants the territory but doesn’t want what (according to my disputed version) went with it: the tolerance. Still less the intellectual pride and curiosity, or the artistic ambition (both of which cultural manifestations arguably breed, or require, tolerance in order to flourish). Hence, I feel that this period of history deserves an airing. Even a BBC series, although the BBC would inevitably make a pig’s ear of it. It’s a side of Islamic history that modern Muslims in e.g. the UK I suspect don’t know much about – and there are a few people, I think, with long beetling beards, who’d rather keep it that way.

    I’m going to make a rash analogy. Here in Ecuador, we currently have a govt that is building (via a towering, petroleum-fuelled propaganda budget) a whole, completely a-historical mythos of the “REAL” Ecuador, and by extension the “REAL” Latin America, which is composed of simple, smiling, saintly people who for generations have been wickedly oppressed by the jackboot of Yankee Imperialism. All of which would be quite harmless and simpatico if it weren’t for the fact that this mythos is cynically and very cleverly used as a means of justifying a homegrown tyranny. Why do people buy it? Because they feel left out of Western Civ. Poverty, according to this theory, exclusion, breeds extremist ideology. Unfortunately, it’s a hard snowball to stop. Encroachments on liberty lead to more economic hardship, leads to the proliferation of ideologies, religious or otherwise, that promote further encroachments on liberty.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but much as I despise all religions, including Islam, I agree that demonizing followers of Islam as potential terrorists isn’t smart. It irks me when some atheist liberals, including the odd Samizdatist, do the us and them thing where the “us” visibly includes Christians, who are assumed to be assimilable where the others aren’t. It’s not Christian culture which makes most Christians sceptical about self-appointed “leaders” trying to push their buttons in pursuance of rotten agendas. That’s liberal culture. It just happens that geographically, most Christians get higher exposure to it than most Muslims. That may soon change, if people are sensible about it.

  10. lmda says:

    Just a couple of points.

    You cannot deduce from the fact that an analysis seems to indicate bad things are likely to happen that the analysis is untrue.

    If Islam is reformable, it is not made unreformable by a lot of excited Westerners saying it isn’t. And vice versa.

    Most Muslims cannot understand classical arabic. No translation of the Koran is considered by Muslims to be the authentic Koran. How much can non-arabic speaking Muslims be said to know about their religion? In pre-reformation Europe, the illiterate and non-latin readers acquired a considerable knowledge of Bible stories from the artworks decorating the churches, often created for that very purpose. Not an option for Muslims.

    Your reluctance, Ian B, to see differences between Judaism/Christianity and Islam,
    your willingness to say ,in effect, that they are all based on crazy books which say violent things and believers take what they like from those books and everybody is pretty much bound to become calm and rational and atheist and rather like you , in the end – as long as nobody keeps pointing out the particularly violent passages of the Koran – is the short-sightedness of someone who is, well, bored by religion. I don’t mean not-religious , that wouldn’t matter, if you could only bring yourself to be a bit more curious about the peculiarities of each religion and the cultures that proceed from them. What I’m trying to say is whilst I think you’ve written many sensible, and even funny things on other subjects I can’t follow you here as you seem to be straying out of the field of your enthusiasm. Just saying…..no offense meant. Have you read V S Naipaul’s Among the Believers?

    Endivio R

    That liberal culture of which you speak, – it’s doing well in Israel; it’s doing reasonably well in Europe and the Americas and in the Anglosphere, and in those parts of Africa which are fairly stablely Christian, perhaps there could be a link there. It’s doing OK in Japan and in India, Singpore and Taiwan, it’s even making in-roads into China. However, from Muslim lands the news is less good, coincidence? Or is it illiberal to have noticed?

  11. Furor Teutonicus says:

    XX But I disagree. I think that the history of Judaism and Christianity; both brothers of Islam (well, Judaism is the father, or the mother) show that religions can change, and I do not think that Islam is actually any different. XX

    And I am not willing to live under that shite for the 700 odd years it took the other two to “change”, so as to wait and see if it can.

    Are you?

    “Oh shite! Furor was right 700 years ago, we should have listened. is too fucking LATE laddie.

    They have had 700 years and are STILL as backwards as christianity and Judaism WAS at the begining point. What makes any one think ANOTHER 700 years will show any improvement?

  12. Endivio R says:

    Imda:

    No, it isn’t illiberal to have noticed, nor is it a coincidence. What is even less of a coincidence, according to the theory I put forward, is that those “Muslim lands” are full of people who have every reason to feel “left out of Western civ”. It’s easy to recruit suicide bombers in places where none of the alternatives to suicide (or bombing) look particularly attractive: where enjoying a decent standard of living isn’t on the table, and where there is no cultural meme that might make you expect a pat on the back and a smile for choosing the road of non violence. That’s why I think we need two different analyses: one for how Islamism is likely to evolve in places where, if there’s any wealth at all, it’s in the hands of a corrupt, authoritarian oligarchy, and another for places where it flows more freely, such as the UK and France, and where there are at least vestiges of a liberal culture, where there is consequently religion a la carte. Most people who adhere to a religion are not fanatics, even though their own religion tells them they ought to be, and even though they are encouraged once a week to renew their determination to be so. Read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man to remind yourselves of what being a serious, devout Catholic is supposed to mean. You’re supposed to go around with a permanent obsession about “mortifying the flesh”: the more you torture yourself the more God likes it. It ain’t in the Bible (arguably) but it’s standard, straight down the line orthodox Catholicism. However, most Catholics can’t be doing with it. Religion adapts itself to the prevailing zeitgeist however much its leaders and Holy Books protest. I believe that Islam needn’t be an exception, though that’s not to say it won’t be. How much any of that depends on “excited Westerners” is moot.

  13. berenike says:

    Read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man to remind yourselves of what being a serious, devout Catholic is supposed to mean. You’re supposed to go around with a permanent obsession about “mortifying the flesh”: the more you torture yourself the more God likes it. It ain’t in the Bible (arguably) but it’s standard, straight down the line orthodox Catholicism.

    Endivio, that is pure bollocks.

  14. Ian B says:

    Just to pick up on Imda’s comment; I’m not saying everyone will become “calm and rational and atheist like [me]“; quite the opposite. I’m saying that for the foreseeable we’re going to be living in a world of religious people, including hundreds of millions of Muslims, so let’s see what prospects we have in that real world. For instance, I’m not sure what the “Islam is irreformably evil” position is actually advocating. There’s no more chance of persuading muslims en masse to abandon Islam as there is of persuading Bible Belt Christians to abandon their faith. It just ain’t gonna happen. So what, then? A holy war to purge the Earth of all Muslims?

    From my perspective, all faiths (religious and nominally non-religious e.g. environmentalism) have more in common than separates them. The may be benign or positive in milder forms but become scary as fuck and very dangerous as the belief gets more fierce. Some people are very fiercely Christian, and they are undoubtedly scary fucks who, if they got in power, would make society into a living Hell. The only rela difference in the West; as we discussed over at Samizdata; is that we went through the Reformation which, after a vast degree of bloodshed, pushed us into adopting a principle of religious tolerance as an antidote to that bloodshed. That has never happened in Islam. They’ve had internal wars, but never been through anything like the Thirty Years War. Who knows, it might be that this period of violence will be their big learning experience in that regard.

    Talking of similarities, did you know that there’s a problem with burka wearing in Israel? Orthodox Jewish women have started wearing them. That’s right, Jewish women. And for much the same reason as Muslimas do; “modesty”. Are the Abrahamic faiths really so qualitatively different? They have this mysterious habit of all ending up in the same place, morally.

  15. David Davis says:

    I think that’s a very fair piece, IanB.

  16. Endivio R says:

    Berenike:

    “Endivio, that is pure bollocks.”

    I could have done with you when the Jesuits were indoctrinating me way back at school. I guess it’s all Liberation Theology and Charismatics now. I haven’t kept up. I’m told you can even eat meat on Fridays now. But you really, really shoulda been there when they took us, at age 9, to Tyburn and carefully described all the tortures of the Blessed Edmund Campion and the rest of them, going through the hung drawn and quartered in especially graphic detail, implying that the more tortured you were, the better a Catholic you were. (“Blessed”, two syllables.)

    I still recommend reading Joyce, if you want more of the flavour.

  17. berenike says:

    It was all liberation theology when I was at school, but then I read Portrait of the Artist and have been going to confession regularly ever since. It seems to have had the same effect on a lot of people I know. Marvellous book.

    I expect your Jesuits weren’t at all saying that the more you get tortured the better a Catholic you are. Is that really what you thought they were saying?

  18. Endivio R says:

    Ach, it’s a long story. If you really want to get the flavour of postTridentine, pre-Vatican II Catholicism, you could do worse than supplement Joyce with The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. The edition I had way back when touted it as the second most printed book in the world after the Bible, which I find hard to believe, but still… The only question is, is all that mortify the flesh stuff gone now? From what I can see, it seems to have migrated to Opus Dei, who are fairly big in several countries I’ve lived in, notably Spain, and who present themselves, not unreasonably, as the keepers of the True Tradition of Real Tough Catholicism. They run schools with excellent academic reputations, and recruit from there. An ex of mine’s brother went to an Opus school. One day his mother found in his sock drawer, rather than the expected thumbed copy of Hustler, a thing called (in Spanish) a cilicio, which is a kind of spike worn round the thigh, with the intention of causing permanent pain. When she found that, she pulled him out of that school and sent him to another one.

    Here in Ecuador, the biggest object of Catholic veneration with the possible exception of El Divino Niño, a kind of glove puppet handled by a woman with an unfeasibly large crown, is St Narcisa de Jesus, recently canonized, who is remembered more than anything for the feat of having spent most of her life whipping herself to a bleeding pulp and occasionally trying to crucify herself. If you go to Nobol, her birthplace, about an hour’s drive from here, you can visit the church which has a museum where you can actually see the whips she used. In Saturday morning fruit markets they sell videos of her life story. It’s quite impressive.

    Here’s an extract from her Wiki entry:

    “Here, Narcisa followed a demanding daily schedule of eight hours of prayer, offered in silence and solitude.[1] In addition, she devoted four hours of the night to various forms of mortification, including flagellation and the wearing of a crown of thorns.[1] She fasted on bread and water and took the Eucharist as her only forms of sustenance[3] and was frequently seen in a state of ecstasy.[1] Towards the end of 1869, Narcisa developed high fevers for which medical remedies could do little.[3] She died on December 8, 1869.”

    This is Trad Catholicism: a religion that glorifies sacrifice and pain. To present it as anything else is either ignorance or dishonesty, IMHO. Of course, the mileage of anyone not old enough to remember Latin Masses is likely to differ, I’ll grant you that.

  19. berenike says:

    Ah, look, another of my favourite books! I was given it for my confirmation at age 13 or so. It was very popular in the past (in an expurgated version, presumably, if you think about part IV) with Protestants as well, who are famously not into whipping themselves with red hot hooks or whatever it is you think Catholicism is all about.

    Did something make you bitter? You’re probably not daft. If you think of Catholicism, a religion you have a chance to actually understand, as all about torturing yourself, and really think that Narcisa de Jesus was canonised because of her extravagant physical mortifications, then anyone who knows perfectly well that this is not the case, is going to treat the rest of what you have to say as bollocks too. You are taking one thing that makes an impression on you and which you dislike, and and making of that personal reaction an interpretation of the whole religion.

    Again, if I see you presenting a caricature as fact in this case, what reason do I (or anyone else who sees that that is what you are doing) have to believe that you are not doing the same when talking about something else? Given what you write about Catholicism, the chances of you writing anything other than crap about Islam are negligible.

    Please don’t take this personally!

  20. NickM says:

    You know it’s wrong to eat the ossifrage.

    That’s me buggered then.

    That’s wrong too.

  21. Ian F4 says:

    “Is there another path open to Muslims? I think there is.”

    No there isn’t, not one without death threats and excommunication of your family that is.

    Islam survives because it’s rules determine a “one way” strategy, guaranteeing the religion will never shrink:

    (a) Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men.
    (b) The children of Muslims are always Muslim.
    (c) Anyone who leaves Islam is to be killed.
    (d) Any territory that is Muslim and is (re-)conquered by non-Muslims is to be taken back at all costs (Palestine, etc).

    Point (c) is one aspect of the whole sorry edifice that can be directly challenged within Western society, it is in direct violation of UDHR Article 18 and should be a magnet for any liberalist. The only way to “another path” is to remove the apostasy threat. That is how you can make a difference, rather than challenge jihadists directly.

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