Sacramento Freethinkers Atheists & Nonbelievers (FAN) Message Board › God, Islam and the New Enlightenment

God, Islam and the New Enlightenment

Anyse J.
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 71
I hate to say that I agree with David; however, I would not tell others NOT to read the book. I used to work with a LOT of Midddle Eastern students in graduate school on their Master's theses. The way to write about anything in the Arab world is to, basically, affirm what others have written before The logic is not to bring anything really new to the table: just regurgitate old stuff and show that it has been read. Well, this is also combined with a kind of thinking that is circular and, as a result, there is a LOT of repetition. In this work, an AWFUL LOT of it. Also, certain phrases get tiring. For example, the use of "the frontal cortex of the human mind." Who else's would we be dealing with in terms of beings who write and provide fodder for this author to write? After a while, one would think that "frontal cortex" would be enough. No way! Also his idea of "the New Enlightenment of the Modern era" or whatever, is also rather tedious. One would think that this, too, would be shortened . . . it really seems, as one read on . . . to just get longer and longer! His writing style is very Middle Eastern and it shows that his earlier learning was definitely affected by his learning in the Middle East. Having worked with a few dozen "scholars" here to learn about business, computers and such in the early '80's, it is all too familiar . . . This is sad to me because, when one writes in this manner, it diffuses the writing, robs it of its energy and turns it into simple pablum. I sort of like the idea; however, the medium being the message does not live up to its worthiness.
Michael B.
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 1

We've been told not to bother reading it by David Peters; so what the hell, let's just throw it onto the heap of books we have never read and take comfort in the knowledge that our judgement is RIGHT.

Now, I don't know Mr. Peters is correct in his assessment and will not hear from him as he is, conveniently, not going to attend the meeting where he can discuss this book rationally with other readers and the author.
While I have some problems with the book, I am happy to discuss them with other and hope that I'll learn something.

Anyse, you say agree with David Peters. Would you please be more precise? Agree with what?

Bakari, please reconsider the format of the meeting. If we have read the book (and shouldn't we) then why have someone regurgitate each chapter?
We will have the author there; let's write in the forum some of the major themes of the book and we can discuss them at the meeting.

Obviously, David Peters feel that the author is poorly informed. Let's hear from those who agree (with details) and from those who disagree (with details). I want to hear intelligent, informed criticism and agreements with the author.

ALL Please, let's raise the level of discourse above name calling and use our brains to search for ideas that resonate and move us forward. Humans are capable of critical thinking; let's prove it.
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 114
Michael, I like the format of going over the chapters. I don't have a good enough memory to remember each chapter. While I don't need a book report, it's nice to have the memory 'jogger' and I think a good way to create discussion about the entire book. Each chapter is one of the major ideas of the book and therefore an easy way to recognize them and discussion them.

(and I wont be at this particular book discussion, but I'd be interested seeing how your proposed meeting format would work perhaps in the future)
Anyse J.
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 72
Anyse, you say agree with David Peters. Would you please be more precise? Agree with what?


I agree with David in that the book is not as well informed and well put together. However, I do not believe that one should not read something just because someone disagree with it. I read the Bible, Koran, Tao Te Ching, the Vedas and Upanishads and more. I find good in everything that I read and that is the point. Take what will work and throw out the rest. One can even get "something" from Mein Kampf; would I just take anything in like a "sheeple" or will I think, learn, and draw the best from it? Yes, the latter is it. Also, Michael, I also told about the process of how people write from the Middle East, which is derived from the practices of Islam brought into academia. I have a few of these lying around that I helped through editing and babysitting people who could not write at all (I have been told that I have earned a few extra MA's as well as a few Ph.D.'s with the work I used to do. Well, I learned a lot and I also learned even more about the cognitive workings of people striving to put things on paper who never will be able to due to a lot of various pedagogical and social training when it comes to learning and expression of that learning as well. I don't know of any other culture that puts out academics like those from Islamic ones. This is not a bias; this is from real experience and also a lot of conversations and discussions with my clients, their families and friends. Fascinating world but very frustrating at times. Repetition of phrases that can be streamlined never are: they stay the same from the first mention to the end. Just re-read and you will see that most of my complaints are about his writing. I have marked a lot of sentences with exceptionally poor subject-verb agreement. I also teach English to others as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) and my clients are mainly Russian and Ukrainian and all of them also live there as well -- yes, we meet on Skype.

I hope that this clarifies things for you as well as for others.
user 2418735
Elk Grove, CA
Post #: 24
I can’t honestly comment on the contents of the book because I need to read more of this weekend. Normally I try to read the books ahead of time, but I’ve been swamped with so many other things.

However, we can’t expect to only read books that we agree with. And if we do disagree with something, we ought to back it up our opinions with reason and evidence. I know members of this group know this, so it’s no need to elaborate on it here.

As for the structure of the meetings: from the outset of me taking over the facilitation of the book club, I said that I would like to get as much input as possible about the selection of books we choose to read and discuss. I’m pretty open to reading almost anything because I value most the input and intelligence of the members of the group. I always come away with information and insight that I never would have gotten from reading the selected book by myself.

I would say we rarely have chapter summaries when hold these discussions. I first ask members to individually state their opinion of the book as a whole. This generally inspires discussion even before we start going through the individual chapters. The questions for each chapter typically provoke further discussion and debate.

As for input for the book club, I tend to listen more to people who attend the meetings, because that shows commitment and respect to the book club. If you don’t attend the meetings, it’s well hard for your voice to get heard. Some come and share your thoughts. I think you will find the members of FAN very open minded and receptive to positive debate.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the discussion and reading the book. Raj is a long member of FAN and he as attended many of the club meetings. On top of that, he has actually written a book! I‘m quite sure he’ll have no problem defending his research and analysis, and as he stated I believe in the front or back of the book, he’s open to suggestions for future revisions. So let’s respect that.

Thanks to your all for your input.
David D.
Lodi, CA
Post #: 74
To help move all of the non-logistical comments from the meet-up event to this discussion area, here is everything that was posted, from oldest to newest:

David Peters

I have finished the book and can save you the toruble. Mr. Al Munir's ignorance of Islam is exceeded only by his ignorance of Christianity and Judaism.
He is a living embodiment of the Islamic doctine of Taqiyah (dissembling, if not outright lying) in the cause of DSa'Wa (Islamic outreach), but he doesn't know even this much. He calls to mind Zuhdi Jasser, but without the intellectual honesty.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 5:28 PM

David Peters

His solution to the world's woes: a 'scientific' Islam, enforced by a world government. Once caveat: Islam cannot be expected to reform itself, until and unless the West reforms itself and begs forgiveness of the Umma (the community of believers) for its 'crimes'.
If FAN takes him seriously, I cannot take FAN seriously.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 5:29 PM

Linda Brewer

@ David Peters Thank you for your opinion, but I'll finish the book in spite of your interest in saving me the trouble.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 6:11 PM


Mr Peters, while I respect the right to have your own opinion, if are going to misrepresent the book and be disruptively argumentative, then I think you should not come to the book discussion.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 6:12 PM

David Peters

How Islamic of you. No criticism allowed.
You don't like argumentative oppostion: I don't like ignorant bigots.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 6:33 PM

David Peters

I won't be attending. It's not worth my time.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 6:34 PM

Benito G.

I'm on chapter 6....well written thus far (in my opinion). Strong argument vs. a superstitious "holy book" undoubtedly written by man. Appreciate the authors Islamic connection.. outline of the scientific method and a clear picture of the universe as we know it...

Posted Jan 13, 2011 7:03 PM

Anyse Joslin

David, you are not being very fair here. This kind of behavior is more than unacceptable to me and, I am sure, to others here. Please, rethink things and come back with a more rational response as well as an apology, OK?

Posted Jan 13, 2011 8:00 PM

Joe Fiffick

We dont always read books that we agree with. Bakari pointed out at our last meeting that we should read more from authors that we disagree with so that we have livelier discussions. That's what the book club is about. David you would have been more than welcomed to express your views at our book discussion and I would have been interested in your views. The book is the opinion of the authors, not the clubs.

Posted Jan 13, 2011 8:40 PM


David, I have to be honest, I’ll be reading the rest of the book this weekend. However, members of our group are intelligent enough to form their own opinions, and back them up. No one is censoring discussion in this group.

Part of this book is about Islam and it’s good that we’re reading it, even if we disagree with the analysis.

So far we’ve had very respectful discussion even when disagree with one another.

Posted Jan 14, 2011 8:12 AM


Last 1/3 of book - I was appalled by the arrogance, misogynism, & dishonesty. It is not fundamentalist, Jews, Christans, & Hindus blowing themselves up in public places, flying air planes into buildings, beheading their wives for being a bad Muslim (New York), murdering their daughter for being too Western (Arizona).

Posted Jan 14, 2011 12:00 PM

Anyse Joslin


We are lucky to be able to read and to learn how others in the world think and how they view things. This helps to see things more clearly from the perspective of atheism. Just knowing, at times, is more than enough.

Posted Jan 14, 2011 2:06 PM


Yes, Anyse! I could not reconcile the Raj I met with what I was reading which forced me to read additional material on Islam---where I found 1)Islam teaches they are superior to everyone else on the planet. 2)manipulation/dishonesty are part of Islam 3) Mysogynism is Islam - women are blamed for everything

Posted Jan 14, 2011 2:47 PM


Suzanne, I have your e-mail, and I will address your concerns and answer your questions at the meeting. Joslin, the text is for the general public, not intended for only philosophers or leaders of academia, so simple easy to understand language was used.

Posted Jan 14, 2011 3:12 PM
user 2418735
Elk Grove, CA
Post #: 26
Okay, I’m half way through the book (will probably finish it tomorrow) and I’m not having a problem with it. I like Raj’s style of writing. He critiques Islam in similar ways that Dawkins, Stanger, and Hitchens critique Christianity. If David or others have a problem with the book, they should more clearly state it—perhaps pose questions. Simply stating, Don’t Read This Book,” is really not a good argument for not reading.
user 2418735
Elk Grove, CA
Post #: 27
David > “His solution to the world's woes: a 'scientific' Islam, enforced by a world government. Once caveat: Islam cannot be expected to reform itself, until and unless the West reforms itself and begs forgiveness of the Umma (the community of believers) for its 'crimes'.
If FAN takes him seriously, I cannot take FAN seriously.“

Okay, I missed this point that David makes. I assume Raj’s solutions are presented in the second half of the book, so I can’t comment on it right now. But I can tell you, if David is looking for a group that’s monolithic in its political views you won’t find it in FAN. We’re a group of free thinkers—coming from various political perspectives.

I just scanned the second half of the book, and looked in the index for anything about "Umma", “scientific Islam,” and “world government,” and I‘m not finding those references. I do see that Raj critiques capitalism, which, in my view, we can’t discuss enough. I think solutions for the world economic crisis should be discussed just as much as we discuss religion and atheism.

So yes, I’m much looking forward to a discussion of this book, and I hope others are as well.
Michael B.
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 2
Anyse, Thank you for the explanation.

Based on the spirited comments on this board, I think we'll have quite a lively discussion. I hope we devote less time on "organization" and lots of time discussing the book and hearing from the author.

I also hope that we will be precise in our remarks and point to the actual passages and not only our interpretations. Let's keep in mind that the author will be there and we can probe his ideas deeply without vilifying him or his writing style.

My ignorance of Islam is great and this can be a nice opportunity for learning from one another. Probably what I liked about the book was the general thesis that the best source of objective knowledge is science. While evidence may have been slight in areas to support this and other themes, the overall validation was achieved.

See you all soon.
user 2418735
Elk Grove, CA
Post #: 28
Suzanne > “Last 1/3 of book - I was appalled by the arrogance, misogynism, & dishonesty. “

Suzanne, I finished the book last night, I didn’t read anything that refers to what you’re alluding to. Could you be more specific?
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