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

God, Islam and the New Enlightenment

A former member
Post #: 3
Bakari --- Here are a few highlights!

P. 223 "Muhammad did not violate any ethical & moral standards..." Response to Muhammad raping a 9 year old girl!

Absolutely no mention of women, Muslim violence toward women, or writings of infidel Muslim women (glaringly absent from the bibliography).

Failed to discuss the Muslim practice of slicing off the genitals of little girls (clitoris & inner labia) with razor blades & potato knives & sewing up the outer labia in the name of purity. The barbaric practice occurs on the kitchen tables in the Muslim ghettos of the European countries with those fine Humanist values. Many countries now have anti-genital mutilation laws (US 1996). Switzerland the latest country. See the work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and google anti-genital mutilation laws.

No mention of the barbaric practice of the chador/abaya/burqua, stoning, beating, & raping of Muslim women. (Dutch now discussing outlawing the burqua & anti-Muslim immigration.)

Failure to discuss the Islamic "Dark Ages" barbaric behavior and chooses to paint all religious fundamentalism with a broad brush.

No mention of the European Muslim ghettos or the fact that Muslims refuse to assimilate into the host country, refuse to learn the language, continue the practice of "fetching brides", and remove girls from school.

P. 214 "...Jews confined themselves to insular communities, which helped to foster anti-Semitism.." Complete ignorance of European history. There were in fact anti-Jew laws preventing them from working in many jobs, determining of age of marriage, etc. They became peddlers & middle men (worked well when they immigrated to the US.) Example: See the Naturalized Jews of the Grand Dutchy of Posen 1833-1834.

Blames the Jews for creating their own problems but in "My Message to the West" P. 235 starts blaming the West, India, & Israel for the Muslim's problems. P. 237 "The West is responsible for creating this paranoia.... The West is responsible for "saving" the poor little Muslims. See how well the generosity of the West to Muslims is working! While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer.
Bakari
user 2418735
Elk Grove, CA
Post #: 29
Thanks Suzanne for your detailed response. It’s ten times better than what David has done in his criticism of the book.

Your critiques are valid and think Raj will probably address them. One of the issues I have with the book is Raj‘s book is that it tries cover a lot of material, which means there’s going to be a lot of information left out of the book or not fully addressed.

He clearly doesn’t hold back in his critique of Islamic religion, but when he says that Muhammad stood strong for social justice, well I have to just take his word for it, because I have very little background knowledge of Muhammad. That’s not Raj’s fault, but since he does praise the prophet, he might have spent a chapter providing more information about him, as well addressing some of the criticisms that scholars have had of Muhammad. But again, that would mean a lot longer book and I’m not sure if it would worked for Raj’s thesis.

Joe, another member our club, has suggested that we follow up Raj’s book with Ayaan Ali’s book, Infidel, which addresses many of the issues you raise. I think that’s a good choice, particularly because it’s a narrative memoir, which is a genre we haven’t read in the club for while.

As for your critique of the Jewish/Israel and Muslim conflict, I think that’s going to be a serious debate in our discussion. In my own past readings about the Isreali and Palestine conflict, I have primarily sided with the Palestinians based on my understanding of how the state of Israel came about and the systematic, U.S.-backed atrocities against the Palestinian people. I’ve learned this history primarily by reading Noam Chomsky, the history of the Balfour Declaration, and generally following the news about the conflicts in that region over the last several decades.

I truly feel I‘m open-minded enough to listen to all sides, but I must be honest: I’m currently no strong supporter of the Israeli state, and particular its government. I have nothing against Jewish people—never have—but I‘m very familiar with the history of European colonialism, which the state Israel seems to have arisen out of that history.

I do hope you’re coming to the meeting, so that you can express your views and critique. I much respect those who are serious enough to defend their claims than people who drop criticisms on the board (like a troll) but then we never hear from them again. That’s not what I call serious intellectual engagement.

Thank you again for your response. Look forward to seeing you on Thursday.
A former member
Post #: 3
Thank you Suzanne and Bakari for your thoughtful and helpful comments.

If our discussion on Thursday is as concise and focused, we'll all learn something. You two have shown how respect and intelligence can make for an interesting discussion.

When I finished the book, I was impressed as I was in agreement with one of Raji's main themes-- science is our best tool for understanding ourselves and our universe. My ignorance of Islam may have colored my willing acceptance of other thoughts he presents and I'm looking forward to hearing what others have to share.

Let's all follow Suzanne and Bakari's lead and speak respectfully and learn from one another.
Raj
user 7103976
Fairfield, CA
Post #: 10
There is a lot to discuss at the meeting, so I am responding to most of Suzanne's comments in the forum.


> “ P. 223 "Muhammad did not violate any ethical & moral standards..." Response to Muhammad raping a 9 year old girl!”

Suzanne, Thanks for conveniently mentioning only part of the sentence. Your practice of not writing the whole sentence and taking parts of it out context is an excellent example of Taqiyah. (Not as defined by Islam, but as defined and practiced by European and Hindu right-wing groups.)

The full sentence is:

“While we know today that a young girl of nine should not be married off to a middle-aged man, Muhammad did not violate any ethical and moral standards that were prevalent in Arabia at that time.”

The statement is quite accurate. Many of Muhammad’s relatives had child brides. He played with his grandfather's child bride when he was a child.

Slavery is wrong. We fully understand that today. But did the U.S. southerners consider slavery to be morally and ethically wrong in the 17-1800s? No. Having slaves was not considered to be beyond the ethical & moral standards of the time. Muhammad having a child bride is a similar case.

The title of that section was “Message to My Fellow Muslims.” The story was put in there to remind Muslims that the ethical & moral standards that come with Islamic theology are seriously outdated.


FYI about Taqiyah:

To create hostility toward the Muslim populations living in India and Europe many right-wing/fascist/Neo-Nazi groups are engaging in deliberate misinformation campaigns. One of the things they are spreading is that Muslims have a doctrine called Taqiyah, which they say means: Muslims are encouraged to lie, cheat, use deception, etc. to achieve their objectives, whatever that may be. In reality, no such Islamic doctrine exists. The misinformation campaign is solely designed to create distrust and conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims. The more disharmony there is in society, the more supporters right-wing extremists get.

There is a “Taqiyah” in Islam. It is actually a kind of obscure permission/exemption that Muhammad gave to his early followers. They were allowed say that they were not Muslims, if denying their true belief would prevent their death or prevent bodily harm. When Islam was just starting in Mecca, Muslims were being persecuted by the Quraish, who were the dominant force at the time. This was why Muhammad gave his early followers this exemption. “Taqiyah” does not apply when there is no risk of death or serious bodily injury. It does not mean cheating, lying etc.; it means denying that one is a Muslim, if identifying oneself as a Muslim will cause death or serious physical harm.


> “Absolutely no mention of women, Muslim violence toward women, or writings of infidel Muslim women (glaringly absent from the bibliography). “

This book is not about woman's issues in the Muslim world. It's about the fundamental flows of the Koran and Islamic theological doctrines.

> “Failed to discuss the Muslim practice of slicing off the genitals of little girls (clitoris & inner labia) with razor blades & potato knives & sewing up the outer labia in the name of purity. The barbaric practice occurs on the kitchen tables in the Muslim ghettos of the European countries with those fine Humanist values. Many countries now have anti-genital mutilation laws (US 1996). Switzerland the latest country. See the work of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and google anti-genital mutilation laws. “

Again, the book is not about woman’s issues. Besides, this practice is not required, endorsed or supported by Islamic theology. It is only practiced by some Muslims in Somalia and some small communities in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Egypt. (And by some immigrants from those places.) This is more of a Somali cultural problem, rather than an Islamic theological problem. The vast majority of Muslims do not practice this procedure. Outside of North-Central Africa, it is not practiced at all (except for some immigrants from those places).

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is from Somalia, her experiences mostly relate to a Somali version of Islam. It does not represent most of the Islamic world. Somalia has a very dysfunctional clan-based tribal culture. It has been in perpetual civil war since the early 90s. So one can imagine that her experiences with Islam were not very good.

> “No mention of the barbaric practice of the chador/abaya/burqua, stoning, beating, & raping of Muslim women. (Dutch now discussing outlawing the burqua & anti-Muslim immigration.)”

If Muslims understand that the basic theological doctrines of Islam are inaccurate, then the problems of the burqa and Shariah Law would disappear by itself.

However, stories of stoning, beating, & raping are vastly and intentionally exaggerated by European and Hindu fundamentalist and right-wing groups. Their main goal is to dehumanize Muslims living in Europe and India so that their own racist/fascist/Neo-Nazi/anti-immigration­ policies become more acceptable to the general public. This book has no intention of providing more fodder for these groups.

You cannot give a few examples, and then make generalizations about a whole population group. Some Americans rob banks. You cannot give a few examples of Americans robbing banks, then make a generalization that all Americans are greedy bank robbers. Some American husbands beat their wives, but you cannot go on to say all American husbands beat their wives.

I have seen the short film made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (directed by Theodoor van Gogh). I can understand why Muslims would feel very angry at its content. It suggests that Muslim women are routinely raped by her husband's/father's male relatives, and the men are not punished for it. This is just absolute BS. I can assure you that if any of my cousins or uncles tried to rape by brothers wife, there will be hell to pay. I can say with very high confidence that none of my relatives would ever think it is ok to rape a relatives' wife/daughter. Family bonds and trustworthiness among relatives is stronger among Muslims than any other group that I know of. So this accusation is particularly defamatory, not to mention absolutely false.

The film was deeply insulting to both Muslim men and women. It implied that Muslim women are defenseless rape victims and Muslim men are unpunished rapists. Hirsi Ali and van Gogh definitely had the right to make the film, and it is extremely deplorable that some Muslim radicals killed van Gogh for it; but the films content was quite deplorable as well. Its goal was to spread deeply insulting exaggerated and falsified claims about a specific community.

Intentionally creating conflict does not benefit anyone except people who want more conflict. It simply strengthens the radicals on both sides. These types of things fuel support for right-wing fascists (both Muslim fascists and anti-Muslim fascists), and makes spreading and sustaining humanist values more difficult.

I don't know why Hirsi Ali made the film in the way she did, but creating controversy in order to gain fame comes to mind. Therefore, I do not have a whole lot of respect for Hirsi Ali. Exposing the problems of Muslim women is a worthy endeavor, but using exaggerations and falsifications to intentionally enrage a community is not productive or ethical.
Raj
user 7103976
Fairfield, CA
Post #: 11
[2nd submission required to fit everything in]

> “Failure to discuss the Islamic "Dark Ages" barbaric behavior and chooses to paint all religious fundamentalism with a broad brush."

Are you saying that burning witches, heretics and scientists by Christians, and burning still living wives of dead males along with the husbands' bodies (common Hindu practice prior to the twentieth century) were better?

> “ No mention of the European Muslim ghettos or the fact that Muslims refuse to assimilate into the host country, refuse to learn the language, continue the practice of "fetching brides", and remove girls from school."

Did you even read the chapter 11, “Trouble in Paradise”?

> “P. 214 "...Jews confined themselves to insular communities, which helped to foster anti-Semitism.." Complete ignorance of European history. There were in fact anti-Jew laws preventing them from working in many jobs, determining of age of marriage, etc. They became peddlers & middle men (worked well when they immigrated to the US.) Example: See the Naturalized Jews of the Grand Dutchy of Posen 1833-1834."

Nowhere is said in the book that Europe did not have antisemitism or anti-Jewish laws. And I agree that this contributed to the Jews forming or maintaining insular communities. In Europe today there are no anti-Muslim laws, but there is a lot of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiments. This is helping to create insular Muslim communities in a similar fashion.

However, the sentence: “Earlier in history, throughout Europe and the Middle East, Jews confined themselves to insular communities, which helped to foster antisemitism.” is factually accurate. Study the history books and the Old Testament. They did form insular communities in the pre-Roman days, during the Roman period and the Middle ages (regardless of whether there was or wasn't antisemitism in areas where they settled). They thought of themselves as “Gods Chosen People” (and thus superior to others), they did not allow Jews to marry non-Jews, they did not eat other peoples food, it had to be kosher, and so on. These practices and superiority complex did indeed help with creating or enhancing antisemitism.

Incidentally, from the late Middles Ages to about the mid 1800s, Jews were generally treated better in Muslim nations than European Christian nations. When all the Jews of Spain were expelled in the late 1400s, the Turkish Empire warmly welcomed them into it's territories. These territories included present day Israel/Palestine.

> “Blames the Jews for creating their own problems"

Well, the Jews are partially responsible for creating their own problems. And Israeli Jews have created a situation that makes re-education/de-radicalization of Muslims very difficult. This negativity affects the progress of human civilization as a whole. Evidence in support of this was provided in detail in the book.

However, nowhere in the book does it say that the Jews deserve ALL of the blame for ALL problems.

> “but in "My Message to the West" P. 235 starts blaming the West, India, & Israel for the Muslim's problems. "

You are welcomed to read the last para on page 205 again:

“Islam, without modification to some of its fundamental beliefs and practices, is not compatible with The Post-Modern Human Civilization. Serious obstacles to the progress of human civilization also include the current ideology of the U. S. Republican Party, tribalism, racism, nationalism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and the out-of-control world population growth.”

> “P. 237 "The West is responsible for creating this paranoia.... The West is responsible for "saving" the poor little Muslims."

The full sentence is:

“The West is responsible for creating this paranoia among Muslims, and the West has a responsibility to help fix this problem, both for moral and practical reasons.”

OK, It could have been worded a little better. But the fact is, there is a deep anti-western paranoia among Muslims. The fact is colonial and neo-colonial policies of the West did play a major role in creating this paranoia. How this happened was discussed in the book in detail. If we really want to end all the divisions and discords within humanity as a whole, this needs to be addressed and fixed.

> “See how well the generosity of the West to Muslims is working! While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer.”

You really need to read Chapter 11 before saying Islam-caused problems in Europe were not discussed in the book.

Also, from Chapter 9, Page 226:

“Some Muslims living in Western Europe have forced the native population to ask themselves an uncomfortable, but very important question: if we keep tolerating intolerance, is our own values system of tolerance threatened? Native Europeans are likely to abandon liberal and tolerant philosophies soon if Muslims continue to display irrational beliefs. Muslims in Europe are effectively reversing the New Enlightenment in Western Europe.”

Hope you will come to the meeting. And please try not to get all your information from “Hate the Muslim” sources.

Joe F.
user 10140880
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 19
After reading the book I agree with Suzannes assessment of it. Chapter 9 of the book puts forth his Zeitgeist theory of world order that will occur in 2099. It blames the West and India for all the ills in the world against Muslims. There are many other disagreement that I have with the author in chapters 9 and 10 but I will save it for the discussion on Thursday.

Regarding Raj' statement regarding Ayann Hirshi Ali's movie, too bad Muslims were insulted by it. Christians are insulted by films, cartoons and editorials written about Jesus yet they don't go out and kill the producers of the film. Comedy Central prevented the writers of South Park from showing an image of Muhammad as they were afraid that someone would be killed over it. They did a legitimate concern as a cartoon in the Netherlands set off rioting which killed hundreds of people. Yet South Park routinely makes fun of other deities such as Buddha and Jesus and there isnt any threat of violence. Individuals in the West have the right to make fun of and insult Islam as they have the right to do the same with atheism.

I do purpose that we read Infidel by Ayaan Hershi Ali to get a perspective from a Woman that grew up in Islam. Subjugation of women in Muslim nations is a major issue. If the books author wants to get to the Utopian society that he claims will happen, this is a major issue that would need to be dealt with.

Here is a good article from her that I agree with.
http://www.aei.org/sp...­. I don't find her views on Muslim societies as one that promotes hate as Raj claims her to be.

Reading the book by Carmen bin Laden, Inside the Kingdom, my life in Saudi Arabia reinforces the caged virgin view of Ayaan Hershi Ali.

Raj
user 7103976
Fairfield, CA
Post #: 12
Joe, I think we can agree that the present state of the world is not very good. It is ripe with poverty, conflict, abuse, injustice, repression, etc. We can surely do better than this. This was the point of chapters 9, 10, and 11.

The book does criticize Muslim intolerance toward freedom of expression, you seemed to have missed those parts of the book. However, I am a supporter legitimate criticism, but opposed to falsified criticism.

I do not have a problem with Infidel being the next book, but I personally would not believe everything she has to say.

I just read Ayaan's article you linked to. I mostly agree with what she has written, except the last 4 paras. The whole para "In Muslim lands, except for a very lucky few, women are denied education, have no job ..." is flatly wrong. Whenever she talks about Muslim women, she has a tendency to misrepresent the facts. My mother has a PhD, she controls our families money, real estate and properties. Even in Iran, the majority of doctors graduating from Medical schools are now women. In Bangladesh, the last two heads of government were women. Her assertion that Muslim women don't have the right to own property is so obviously baseless, I don't even know why she wrote it down. Muslim women had the right to own property even in the seventh century.

The Koran itself requires that women are to inherit property from deceased fathers and husbands. This would be half of what a male would get, but nevertheless, it was fairly progressive for a seventh century society. Prior to Muhammad, Arab society did not have any inheritance rights for women.

I will not defend present-day Somali, Afghan or Saudi men. (At the same time, you cannot say ALL Somali, Saudi and Afghan men display dysfunctional behavior.) Somalis, Saudis and Afghans have particularly backward male-dominated societies. But Hirsi Ali tends to say this is true for the entire Muslim world, which is inaccurate.
Anyse J.
Anyse
Sacramento, CA
Post #: 74
Suzanne, et al.

In a way, the West (primarily England) was not at all generous with the lands and peoples of the Arab peninsula! Imperialism was the only word one could use in the actions and attitudes of the West toward the Middle East. They ravaged as well as slaughtered many Arabs (don't know the number, but it was great) in their quest to make this area part of the larger British Empire. Also, during the Crusades, it was not a very good time for the Saracen (noun. an Arab or Muslim, esp. at the time of the Crusades. • a nomad of the Syrian and Arabian desert at the time of the Roman Empire..) who were brutally slaughtered en masse by the "gentle" crusaders seeking to gain control over the "Holy Land." During those times, there were a few pockets of populated areas, such as Aqaba, where there was some form of centralized power in the region. However, they were, ultimately, overpowered. It would be interesting to read the memoirs of "Lawrence of Arabia" as well as a history of region. There are, truly, more reasons for the Arab states to not trust the US as much of their oil production was taken over by corporate entities of the West and the Arab states themselves got so little of the generated revenue. This continued until the Brits and others were expelled from the region. So, I can see much of why one could "blame" the west. However, I also know that many countries have been, of a sort, left alone by the US and allowed to function as they will after their expulsion (Egypt, Syria, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, and so on -- I will exclude Israel in this notion completely!). However, the sense that the New American Century Project, focused on Iraq as the lynchpin for the control of the Arabian peninsula in the late 90's early in the year 2000, citing it as a strategic area that needed to be conquered and controlled by the US in order to keep any future threats from the region from escalating (i.e., the builing of new arsenals that would include missles capable of carrying nuclear weapons as well as making sure that no nation in the Middle East will develop any nuclear capabilities whatsoever). So, at that point, the US, again, stuck its nose into the international and internal affairs of another nation, even committing a world crime in a "crime against peace," as described in the Geneva accords, by fostering and completing a preemtive strike against a nation that had no capability to strike the US itself directly. I can see how people in the Middle East would not trust the West and those nations that participated in the Gulf War itself.
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