In Defence of The Rubin Report: Long Live the Circle Jerk!

The Rubin Report’s first episode on Larry Kings Ora TV network, featured author and controversial public figure: Sam Harris. The shows namesake Dave Rubin, sat down with Harris for over an hour to hash out his views, and talk about the unfair attacks on him by what is now referred to as the Regressive Left. Rubin had previously worked on The Young Turks network, which was co-founded by Cenk Uygur. Uygur also hosts the show: The Young Turks, a show which has provided a platform for Harris’ attackers and is now actively involved in the campaign against him. Rubin admits that the unfair treatment of Harris by Uygur and other Regressives, played a role in his decision to leave, which led him to embark on his mission of opening up discussions around difficult issues. The Rubin Show has certainly delivered. Harris’ fans – like myself – were extremely pleased with Rubin’s approach to the interview and the topics being discussed, and there was a real sense of change coming, a momentum we all wanted to keep going through retweets, blogs posts; any support that would help spread word of this brilliant new show that was doing what it preaches, namely combating Regressives, promoting free speech and actually listening to the views of others.

Indeed, Rubin reported that the response to Harris’ interview was largely positive. However, the Regressives wasted little time dismissing the interview and the show. The Rubin Report went on in subsequent episodes to feature other atheists and advocates such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Gad Saad, Douglas Murray, Sarah Haider and Ali A. Rizvi. It was thusly labelled a new atheist circle jerk, where neo-con atheists got together to bash Muslims. Fine. This was expected. But less expected was the change in tone of the shows supporters, after a number of guests featured on the show, did not align with their views. Never mind how soft Rubin was on Harris – someone we agree with – but did you see how he let Larry Elder and Tommy Robinson rattle off their bigoted views unchallenged? What is this a right-wing circle jerk? Sounds to me like an orgy of epic proportions if nothing else. I understand the criticism to a certain extent. I’ve previously argued that it’s possible that Rubin hesitates to push back, because in many cases it’s the first time he’s really hearing the other side’s arguments, and he’s unsure of his own views. If this is the case it is also a good thing, because he will learn to sharpen his ideas on the whetstone of the opposition, and it also means he’s open to changing his mind, a rare quality in this world of identity politics. However, I think more likely; Rubin is bringing us a show like we’ve never seen before. We’re used to shows like Real Time, The Young Turks, Bill O’Reilly etc. The hosts and the panel challenge each other, sometimes belligerently, and poke fun at one another, which is all well and good. Their followers cheer their hero’s and boo the opposition from the side-lines, and the net result is, no one has really heard anyone. To me this is not what The Rubin Report is about.

The Rubin Report isn’t about scoring points for the left, or the democrats, or for atheists, or any other group. It’s about fleshing out people’s views – especially unpopular and marginalized views – on important topics. Rubin does a brilliant job at this and as far as I’m concerned he should expose himself and his audience to as many different views as possible. He should ask probing questions to flesh out the ideas of those people, so they can be assessed fairly and on their own merits. Its then up to us, as the audience, to grapple with those views. We can agree, be neutral, or disagree, in whole or in part, or we can challenge those views in whatever forum we wish, as I have done with my blog piece on Rubin’s exchange with conservative Larry Elder. But the whimpering disappointment being voiced from some viewers suggests to me that they were never serious about the premise in the first place. It sounds like they’re scared for others to hear controversial views they don’t like. “Tommy Robinson is an actual bigot, and Rubin just let him espouse his bigotry unchallenged”. Well I hate to break it to my fellow viewers, but Regressives draw little distinction between the views of Harris and Robinson, and they bemoaned the fact that “Rubin gave the bigot Sam Harris a free ride on his new show”. That’s something you should keep in mind.

And for all the objections that The Rubin Report is providing a platform to these right-wing crazies – Harris or Robinson depending on your perspective – he also provides a platform for liberals, intellectuals, scientists, dissenters, and most recently an Iraqi female atheist named Lubna whose identity has to be hidden for her safety and for the safety of her family. Lubna is not a celebrity or public figure, she is being given a platform purely so people can be aware of the plight of secular people’s in the Middle East, a worthy cause I’m sure you’d agree. I had the pleasure of speaking with Lubna briefly on twitter a few weeks ago. A truly courageous person, facing some impossible decisions going forward. I assume not many will be whining about the fact that Rubin let her speak with impunity about her situation or her views. Of course, some Islamists would do this and much more, because her views are deeply offensive to them. And with that I hope you take my point.

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In Defence of The Rubin Report: Long Live the Circle Jerk!

Islamism, Mental Illness & Inbreeding

Introduction

I wrote this after following a series of tweets between Dean Obeidallah and the Co-Founder of Ex-Muslims of North America Sarah Haider, where the below tweets came from. I had my own conversation with someone about the topic, which caused me to research inbreeding in the Muslim world.

 

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Notice the trap Obeidallah is lumbering mindlessly towards. If I had of compared the mind of God and the prophet Muhammad to the mentally ill; I dare say, I might find myself in a wee-bit-o-trouble. Of course, Obeidallah won’t willingly fall into this trap, but alas the trapping pit is not nearly as thinly veiled to him, as his attempt at apologetics is to me. Obeidallah claims that he just “can’t trust people who at one time advocated woman have no rights, and gays and apostates should be killed”, and said of Maajid Nawaz, “once an Islamist always an Islamist”, because in his unapologetic view, “Islamism is a mental disorder”, an “incurable” one. The trap should be, becoming clearer now, albeit too late for Obeidallah to prevent his fall. Although it would be comical–which is apparently his forte–to see the attempt.

Obeidallah suggests we shouldn’t trust former Islamists–who according to him, are mentally ill–because of their grotesque beliefs about homosexuality and apostasy. Well, it’s not difficult to find Hadith or Quranic verses advocating these ideas. One hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, Muhammad’s cousin and early quranic scholar wrote, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” So what were Lot’s people doing? “do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you?…for ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women, ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds…and we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see, what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!” verses 7:80-84. Also on apostasy, a hadith from one of the three most trusted sources in Sunni Islam: “Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’ No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.” Need I continue with Muhammad’s record on women’s rights? Thus, it appears that these grotesque beliefs come from God, and were believed and promoted by Muhammad. Therefore, in Obeidallah’s view, Muhammad must be mentally ill and irredeemable. After all Muhammad is said to have received the revelation from the angel Gabriel, over some twenty-three years. Talk about schizophrenia!

Also notice, because the ideas Obeidallah finds so disgusting are available in the quran and hadiths; claiming one is mentally ill for taking them seriously, does not at all exonerate Islamic scripture. Rather it suggests, that access to the texts, is akin to leaving a pair of sharp scissors on a table in a mental health ward, someone’s bound to get hurt! Besides, it seems to me, if Islamists do indeed suffer from mental illness, they’re worthy of more of our compassion, not less. Mental illness reduces culpability for ones actions. Is a paranoid schizophrenic, who killed his wife because voices in his head told him she had been taken over by demonic forces, as culpable as a man who murdered his wife to collect the life insurance policy? Of course not. Moreover, we know that Islamism is “curable”, due to the people who have renounced the Islamist ideology (despite Obeidallah’s idiotic skepticism of Maajid Nawaz). The fact is, Islamism, or any ideology that promotes barbaric ideas, and the horrific acts that follow–however unconscionable–need not, have anything to do with mental illness, even when grounded in superstitious beliefs. Humans evolved a propensity for violence and a credulous mind, which lends itself to believing all kinds of nonsense, making normal people capable of all kinds of evil deeds.

If Obeidallah would like to play his faith card by claiming that Muhammad did in fact get the revelation, and therefore wasn’t hearing voices–a claim for which he has no evidence–then I would evoke the philosopher David Hume, and ask him, what is more likely, that Muhammad was a charismatic schizophrenic or liar, or that he really did receive the final revelation from a perfect deity, who didn’t get it right on the preceding two occasions, with the Jews and Christians? I would also point out what a cheap move invoking faith would be for a man in his position; and that it doesn’t explain the quran and hadiths promotion of the very ideas he finds so abhorrent; and he should be quiet, and it rubs the lotion on its skin!

Inbreeding insufficient to explain Islamism

It was suggested to me that mental illness could indeed, explain Islamism, due to the prevalence of consanguineous relationships in the Muslim world, going back to the time of Muhammad. In other words, the adverse effects on the offspring of blood relatives–first cousins being the usual focus. I don’t know if Obeidallah subscribes to this view, so I’ll leave him to wallow in his trap. But if he thinks he’s using consanguinity as a rope to climb out, he’s mistaken. Muhammad married his first cousin and the quran lists relatives one cannot marry, but luckily for Muhammad, no such prohibition on cousin fuckin’ exists; given there seems to be a few issues with the offspring of consanguineous relations, you’d think the creator of the universe might have prohibited it, another opportunity lost, it appears. Most experts in this area don’t call for a ban on the practice either. Instead, they call for education about the risks, and advocate genetic screening for consanguineous couples. It’s true that the potential health risks are double that of the general population, but the overall risk remains small. In a nutshell, relatives have more genes in common than people that are unrelated. If both parents carry the same recessive gene, then their offspring have a higher risk of getting the genetic disorder associated with that gene. The overall risk for non-consanguineous couples is around 2.5% compared to approximately 5% among consanguineous couples (first cousins). However, if there is consanguinity going back generations–which will be the case for many Muslims–the risk can be higher, how much higher is unclear.

In 2011, a veritable who’s who of geneticists and researches working in this area met in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss “Consanguineous marriages, pearls and perils” and went on to produce the “Geneva International Consanguinity Workshop Report.” They concluded that the adverse effects of consanguinity on offspring, predominately relates to autosomal recessive genetic disorders. The authors suggest that although there is some evidence of the effects of consanguinity on IQ–possibly a result of most consanguineous couples coming from rural, poor, uneducated areas–Down Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Autism and Alzheimer’s, the evidence is often “vague and inconsistent”. Moreover, the authors’ of the report suggest–in relation to autosomal recessive genetic disorders–approximately “92% of first cousin couples will not be at increased risk of the birth of an affected child”. Of course, we would have to increase the percentage of risk among Muslims due to the history of consanguinity. Regardless, if evidence for mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar or low IQ are better controlled for, and their results are more consistent, I have no reason to suspect that similar approximations like the above, wouldn’t be true in that case, namely the majority of offspring being born without problems.

Some believe we just have to look at the Muslim world and conclude Islamists are mentally ill, or suffer from poor education or low IQ, “just look at the case of Farkhunda, tell me that’s not insane”. According to this article, one of her most “fervent” attackers, a young man named Mohammad Yaqoub heard people shouting “if someone doesn’t hit her, he is an infidel.’ That was when I got emotional and hit her twice…my third punch hit the road, and my hand got injured.” Maybe the dim-witted boy felt intimidated and feared the mob might turn on him, if he didn’t participate. Except, when he went back to his shop and wrapped up his injured hand, he could still hear the commotion outside, and decided to go back for more. When he returned, he picked up a stone to pulverize Farkhunda’s lifeless body, it was so large, “he could barely lift it.” Without knowing if Mohammed Yaqoub is schizophrenic–the voices he heard that day were certainly real, including the screams of his victim–whatever affliction he may suffer, as the article puts it “Mr. Yaqoub was hardly an illiterate day laborer. He had completed 11th grade and, when interviewed in prison, said he was 18. He explained his fury by saying, “The Quran is like our honor: It is our personal honor and the honor of the prophet.”

Ghazi O. Tadmouri et al. interestingly point out that consanguinity is also practiced among Lebanese, Jordanian, and Palestinian Christians, albeit to a lesser degree than their Muslim neighbors. However, they do often suffer the same injustices as their neighbors, and one wonders if they’re driven to a Christian form of Islamism that causes them to fight the West by turning to the Old Testament (or even the New Testament) to express their mental corruption. Such Christians appear rare, which again suggests that it’s not the illness that’s the problem, it’s the texts, but I digress. Tadmouri et al. point out other limitations; most researchers break their studies into two groups: consanguineous verses non-consanguineous, even when the type of consanguinity is unknown or undisclosed. For example, stating that 30.3% to 39.8% of Syrians are in a consanguineous relationship doesn’t indicate whether they’re all first, second or third cousins, which is important, as the less gene’s in common the lower the risk. However, they do concede that “the risk of birth defects in first-cousin marriages may be estimated to be 2-2.5 times the general population rate, mainly due to the expression of autosomal recessive disorders”. But again they conclude; “studies on the association of consanguinity with chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome and association with non-communicable disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, and psychiatric disorders [Italics mine] among Arabs are presently non conclusive…likewise, studies on the association of consanguinity with traits such as intelligence quotient and stature are scanty among Arabs and results of studies performed in Western countries cannot be applied directly to societies with high consanguinity rates such as the Arab society.”

Therefore, it seems to me that mental illness, whether caused by consanguineous relationships or otherwise, is insufficient to explain Islamism.

Islamism, Mental Illness & Inbreeding

The Hijab Solidarity Farce

World Hijab Day–symbolically adopting the struggle of others–is not an original concept, there are many forms of it. In New Zealand we have the National Bandana Day to show solidarity with sufferers of cancer, who lose their hair due to chemotherapy treatment. In the case of World Hijab Day, non-Muslims are asked to show solidarity with Muslim women who face bigotry (not excluding physical assault) from ignoramuses and thugs, by adopting the Hijab for a day. Seems rather innocuous doesn’t it? However, when you think about what the Hijab represents; not so much. The mastermind behind World Hijab Day, Nazma Khan, is the owner of a headscarf company in Brooklyn New York. Aki Muthali humorously suggests this is more than mere coincidence, but perhaps that’s a bit cynical, after all it is possible to believe in a cause, and make a profit from the cause itself. I don’t see anything wrong with that in principle. Muslim reformers themselves are undoubtedly paid for public appearances and the books they write. The real issue for me, is the cause itself. I don’t begrudge any woman that chooses to exercise her freedom of religion to wear the Hijab, and I will defend her right to do so. However, I do take issue when she attempts to minimize or distort, what the Hijab stands for, and I take issue with her lack of solidarity with her Muslim sisters from conservative families or communities in their own [Western] countries, and their sisters in Muslim majority countries like Iran, who are unambiguously forced, often violently, to wear the Hijab or the Burqa.

In fact, many non-Muslim women already wear the Hijab, when they travel to countries like Iran, Kuwait, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Yemen etc. These sites give some useful tips for women who want to travel to the Middle East: “you are still perfectly safe, simply follow the rules you would anywhere – don’t go off alone with a man, or group of men, and if you do feel awkward, there are plenty of women-only areas in many parks”. First of all, how offensive is that to men, I recommend reading this site, talk about sexism, it reads as if every man is a potential rapist who froths at the mouth at the sight of a blonde. “Clothes – What you are expected to wear varies a lot from place to place. In a Red Sea resort, and more Westernized places, you can relax a bit [italics mine], but otherwise, you’ll need to cover your body”, “In general, it is better to be dressed too conservatively than to offend the locals. Do your research for each country before you travel to check what women wear.” The fact a woman has to “do their research” before traversing OUR planet is a moral scandal, and yet it is wholly acceptable to people. Make no mistake the “clothes” often involve wearing a Hijab in these places, and the rationale is scarily like the Islamists. Moreover, for a non-Muslim actually living in these places, where is the solidarity? Imagine being a woman in the Middle East attempting to exercise your human right not to wear the Hijab or cover your body. The Justice system is just as likely to condemn you, as the public for their bigotry.

Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa point out in their excellent article that Ahlul Bayt is a major contributor to World Hijab Day, their website Global Hijab Awareness provides a revealing resource on the topic. Firstly, “”You are not like any other women”: Muslim women are not like no-Muslim women. So, they should maintain their distinction and dignity”. Brilliant, no need for a World Hijab Day then is there? “If one asks why Hijab or Purdah is necessary, the only proper reply would be, ‘because Allah and His Messenger have so decided”. Yes, the freedom to choose flows so easily, when one choice goes against the creator of the universe. This resource from 1977, even has a Q and A section, and it’s priceless:

Q: Is it allowed for a veiled girl to attend co-education schools?

A: If she observes all the rules of Hijab and is sure that no one would look at her with lust.

Q: She would not be able to answer the questions put forward to her by the teacher, she would have to whisper?

A: Talking to Ghair Mahram becomes haram (forbidden) when there is a danger that [he] may get lustful ideas by hearing the voices of the women.

Q: Some ladies, without veil have kept their dignity. So why all this?

A: Purdah of Eyes and Purdah of dress, both are compulsory for all Muslim women. The dignity of a Muslim woman in the eyes of Allah depends on Purdah.

Q: Should parents abstain from recommending purdah to their daughters lest she is forced after marriage by her in-laws to take it down?

A: As far as she is with you, you are to perform your duties and responsibilities [enforcing the purdah].

Q: Is it respectable for a girl to have her veil removed by her in-laws?

A: No. It is haram. She has to refuse.

Any organization that includes this sexist garbage in its reading material cannot, and should not be taken seriously on moral questions. In all seriousness, it’s fantastic if your family had the human decency not to enforce the Hijab on you, but make no mistake that in Islam, by many interpretations, this is not only a privilege many of your Muslim sisters are denied, but it’s an outright defiance of Allah himself (or herself – oh no he didn’t, well yes I did).

Lastly Maajid Nawaz created a bit of a storm on twitter by asking Muslim women to take off their Hijab’s in solidarity with the victims of acid attacks, who are often targeted for their lack of modesty or their audacity, essentially their bravery. Why not? It would be almost impossible to get reliable statistics on this, but I can confidently assert that more Muslim women around the world, are persecuted, beaten, raped (only for their rapers to escape justice) or killed, for NOT wearing the Hijab or the Burqa, than those that face bigotry and assault for wearing the Hijab in the West. So again I ask, why not? Could it be, that the Muslim women who are “not forced” to wear the Hijab are afraid of the repercussions for such a brazen display of solidarity? Will their parents look on them with shame, will they be berated by members of their communities, or do they ridiculously think they will be raped on the spot? Or perhaps they believe that Allah himself will be displeased? If any of these concerns are stopping any Muslim woman from showing solidarity with her Muslim sisters, suffering under the yoke of Islamic conservatism around the world, then clearly their “choice” to wear the Hijab is not really a choice at all, it’s a display of cowardice and submission. If on the other hand they choose not to because they don’t believe in such a cause, then at best their morally abhorrent.

The Hijab Solidarity Farce

Support the Muslim Reform Movement I Implore Thee

If you haven’t signed the Muslim Reform Movement’s petition yet, you simply must. Muslim reformers are becoming more vocal, or perhaps more accurately, are gaining more traction in the media, and are starting to organize themselves very well, as the MRM demonstrates. The reforming voices are acting like a beacon for others, and as that beacon shines brighter, the shadowy figure of Islamism and Islamic Conservatism is being pushed out to the fringes. Alas, we will never be rid of them completely, with scripture like the Quran or the Bible anchored to a concept of an omniscient and omnipotent God, extremism will never truly disappear. But as it was with Christianity, Islamism whether jihadist or conservative, is more mainstream than many Muslim’s care to admit.

As an atheist I love debating the existence of God and the truth claims of religion. It’s an important conversation to have. It improves ones reasoning skills and sharpens ones character by mere participation. Atheists and Christians have been having this conversation for some time now. We take for granted the fact, that this was not always the case, and it’s certainly not the case for too many Muslim’s in the 21st Century. Whether you’re a Muslim living in Saudi Arabia or Britain, or just attempting to have the conversation in the family home–where you should feel the safest–in all these cases, too often, Muslim’s are gambling with their lives and their freedom, and risking social isolation and desertion by family members and peers. Reformers have the unenviable task of not only legitimizing an interpretation of Islam that allows for their groups declaration, that they’ve collectively and so beautifully constructed; but they must also render such conversations about truth and God, benign and mainstream. Now this isn’t to say I want reformers to break down these barriers so I can pull out Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists in order to convert more Muslim’s to atheism. That would be a cynical mission indeed, and some Muslim’s fear that allowing such conversations to take place, will water down the faith, and therefore won’t give an inch. They can relax, this isn’t an atheist conspiracy.

The Regressive Left often fuel this fear. It’s fairly easy to dismiss atheists, and among the Regressive Left, it appears even easier to dismiss ex-Muslim and reforming voices by labeling them native informants or house Muslim’s–a reprehensible and slanderous smear against the brave men and women that have taken up this challenge–in any case the more Muslim voices out there, like the members of the MRM; the less hysteria and frustration there will be from people whose only experience of Islam, are either shouts of Allahu Akbar moments before explosions and gunfire fill the air, or Islamist bully tactics, or the evasive apologism and denial of moderate Muslim’s, who are adamant there is no problem with Islam, while the former’s continue to dominate the news and the debate (if one could call it that).

So ubiquitous is the idea of an angry, aggrieved, apologist Muslim, that reading or watching a Muslim that doesn’t fit the image can be quite startling to some. I noticed this recently when Asra Q. Nomani–herself a member of the newly formed MRM–surprised her CNN host, by agreeing with mothers in Virginia, who were upset about the Shahada (the Muslim declaration naming Allah as the one true God and the prophet Mohammed as his messenger) being incorporated into a lesson on Arabic calligraphy at Riverheads High School. “When you hear a story like that, what do you think?” the host asked. “Well I am a mother in Virginia, and I wouldn’t have wanted this assignment in my son’s school”. The reaction is quite amusing, the hosts bemused “Hmmm”, and the shifting in her seat was priceless. She was clearly taken aback. If Asra had of said, “you know, as a Muslim I think it’s disgusting how these mothers can be so islamophobic, the Shahada is beautiful, this is a racist school and as a mother in Virginia I would have taken my son out of that school to keep him from such vicious bigotry”, dollars to donuts, the CNN host wouldn’t have batted an eye, and neither would most viewers. Instead, Asra, a Muslim, stood up for secularism, shocking! They’re out there folks and we need to support the reformers and give them the biggest platform possible. SOLIDARITY!

Support the Muslim Reform Movement I Implore Thee

CJ WERLEMAN TAKES REGRESSIVE CAKE OVER #EXMUSLIMBECAUSE

The #ExMuslimBecause hashtag started by The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, was an attempt to provide a forum for Ex-Muslims to voice their reasons, and share their stories, about why they left the religion of Islam. Their reasons and stories were diverse, for some it was as simple as the story just not making sense, others were liberated by science and reason, for many women, it was the patriarchal edicts prevalent in the Quran and Hadith, and others for reasons like this Ex-Muslim who, given her father’s attitude on the below topic, likely covers her face for a reason:

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There may have even been some – although I didn’t see any – that left Islam for another religion or belief system. I support their voices as much as those that are now atheists, this isn’t about recruiting members to the atheist cause, it’s about acknowledging peoples struggle to think for themselves!

Why was it necessary? Because Ex-Muslim voices are being – and have always been, although not in all cases – suppressed, oft times violently, not just by the state or Muslim communities, but by members of their own families. Islamic scripture doesn’t mince words about what to do with apostates, and it’s as uncontroversial a subject as any in Islam, as this Ex-Muslim website Islam Watch shows.The brave voices, that contributed to this long overdue hashtag – especially those speaking from Muslim majority and/or theocratic countries – are putting their lives at real risk by speaking out in this way. Of course ignoramuses fail to see this and began accusing tweeters of racism and Islamophobia. This was expected, but of all the reprehensible examples of this moronic frothing of the mouth, was regressive leftist CJ Werleman. The serial plagiarist – whose facile arguments were made no better even when he ripped off other people’s ideas to develop them – by far takes the regressive cake, not only on this matter, but in others. As Sam Harris said recently, regressive Glenn Greenwald “doesn’t have a journalistic bone in his body”, well in that case, Werleman is a journalistic jellyfish, no bones, no brains.

This contemptible jellyfish unashamedly uses the most disgusting rhetoric to devalue and delegitimize the voices using the #ExMuslimBecause hashtag:

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Stockholm syndrome? Really! Yes, an Illuminati type “New Atheist” organization – aka white supremacist group – not too secretly headed by Richard Dawkins (of course!), have been in the market for Muslims to promote their anti-Muslim narrative for decades, all so science can win the fight against religion. Sure Muslims on the payroll felt badly for betraying their culture at first, but the white supremacists are so nice to them, they can’t help but defend the privileged Whities. Yep, that’s what’s happening here. It’s not people thinking for themselves or using their voices to show solidarity with one another. Nope, it’s an atheist white supremacist conspiracy. Tell me how to read that tweet any other way, seriously.

Also take note of the tweet Werleman is replying to there. One Imraan Siddiqi telling Ex-Muslims their timing was poor due to a current spike in anti-Muslim sentiment. Well somehow I think global Jihad is pulling that cart along just fine on its own. Also many responses to the hashtag showed just why such a concept was needed in the first place. The fear Ex-Muslims have of their brothers and sisters appears well justified. Ex-Muslims have been persecuted under Islam since its birth, to say this is not a good time to speak out, shows just how insensitive and ignorant people are on this issue. This tweet makes the point beautifully:

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Now why did I say New Atheists aka white supremacists, that’s a bit much isn’t it? Not according to Werleman, it’s right on the money:

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You read that right, new atheists are white supremacists! Now Werleman knows this can’t be true. Whether you think a new atheist means a 21st-century atheist or one that is “militant”, in other words refuses to be silent, or both. The new atheists utilizing this hashtag were in most cases not white. So unless all these people are on the new atheist payroll, they can’t all be native informants. Again Werleman can help. Check his response to this tweet:

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The show referred to is the highly valuable and important: The Rubin Report. Again, don’t adjust your devices, he just referred to Faisal Saeed Al-Mutar as a House Arab. As far as I’m aware, Faisal’s the only Arab to have appeared on the show to date. Unless – and it wouldn’t surprise me – he’s lumping in Sarah Haider, Maajid Nawaz and Gad Saad with Faisal. In any case, I don’t recall Werleman having the balls to say this to Faisal’s face when they debated in 2014. So if Faisal is a House Arab – and presumably in Faisal’s case a native informant – then these other new atheists, unlikely to be on the payroll, are also House [insert race here]. Werleman reduces Ex-Muslim voices to House Arabs, House Persians, House Malaysians; and House Negros? Or do you think Werleman would class it up a bit there and say House Africans? After all, calling anybody a house anything, originates from the pejorative term House Slave. Ayaan Hirsi-Ali is probably the most famous example of an apostate of African descent. An imperialist neo-con, and Islamophobic house Negro is an impressive resume I’m sure you’d agree.

Werleman is indeed an apologist, plagiarist, regressive, distortionist, bigot, racist, and shameful purveyor of ignorance. He’s all these things, but I can think of another word that suits him nicely. It beings with C, ends with T, and has UN in the middle.

CJ WERLEMAN TAKES REGRESSIVE CAKE OVER #EXMUSLIMBECAUSE

A Review of Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Caveat: I know Maajid is not an apostate! I say it tongue and cheek.

Islam and the Future of Tolerance gives readers something which feels almost alien – a cordial, open, honest conversation about the challenges of reforming Islam. As I turned each page I found myself anticipating (perhaps wanting?) to see a cataclysmic locking of horns (Infidel vs. Apostate). This epic cage match never eventuated. In fact the only part in the book remotely resembling an impasse, pertained to the reading of Islamic history in the sections ‘Nature of Islam’ and ‘Finding the Way Forward’. The disagreement was of little consequence to the overall discussion. What was particularly gratifying was seeing Sam’s eagerness to learn from Maajid, demonstrating again – unlike some of his opponents – just how open he is to new ideas. Initially Sam took the backseat in the conversation, and adopted more of an interviewers’ style, seeking clarification around the concepts and definitions on offer. When one reads the book you come to understand Sam’s admission that he was the one most changed by their conversation, which makes the suggestion that Maajid is Sam’s lapdog, simply absurd.

The conversation becomes more even-handed as you read on. Still – although I didn’t do a word count – it seemed Maajid got the bigger slice of the dialogue. I was quite happy about that, I read Sam all the time, and I know his views fairly well. Maajid has one other book – Radical, a memoir which I highly recommend – and his public appearances and articles, provide a pretty clear picture of his own views. However, the depth and nuances of those views really come to the fore in this book and it was all the more gripping for that reason. There is a feeling throughout that Sam is being cautious, as if he’s half expecting a backlash of the sort he has become accustomed. He rather amusingly even “bends over backwards” to articulate a position held by his detractors to gauge Maajid’s reaction (surely, Maajid must, at the least, agree with his opponents here, this conversation is going too well, with a little too much agreement!). If that is indeed what Sam was doing, I certainly can’t fault him for it. Too often people appear liberal and interested in honest discussion and turn out to be just another religious apologist. I too found myself reading Maajid, waiting for something to object to on those grounds. Thankfully that moment never came to pass.

Maajid does a great job demonstrating the nuances in scriptural interpretation and how literalism doesn’t necessarily equate to bad (a view Sam understands as his Jainism example shows). As an example he used the stance of the Hanafi School – which were closest to the time of prophet – regarding the prohibition of khamr (alcohol). In essence the word khamr relates to alcohol derived from grapes, so the prohibition therefore, only relates to wine. Maajid points out this is a literalist argument, making the blanket ban on alcohol an interpretation that was successful in supplanting the traditional view. In regards to the murder of infidels he asks, does “smite their necks” translate to “smite their necks today?” Good point, however, I would ask, if God thought it permissible during the war against infidels of the period – and clearly many Muslims feel history is repeating itself – what are the chances an omniscient deity would have a different view in 2015? Do we really need another prophet to tell us whether that edict is applicable today? It’s when you start tying scripture to actual concepts of God – what He is and what powers He possesses – that you run into problems. A better way to allow reform to grow, would be to divorce the two, which sadly can’t be done.

The alcohol example actually indicates both a solution and a problem. The solution being there is wiggle room here. The problem being that it hinges on arguing for interpretations which, whether scripturally viable or not, have to, at least, be better argued than current interpretations enabling the problems we see, and will need to be argued for as long as Islam permeates the religious landscape. Whatever one takes away from the alcohol example, one point has to be that the interpretation which bans all alcohol won over many Muslim communities. Also, Sam rightly points out that some interpretations are more plausible than others, and even if reform was achieved; if someone or some group in the future reads the texts uncritically, and is anchored to the concept of God and the belief that the Quran is the inerrant, eternal word of God – in line with the Asha’ira school – then religious barbarism can be renewed again and again. So whilst I agree it’s certainly unrealistic to apostatize 1.6 billion Muslims; can even Maajid deny that it would be a hell of a lot easier? Again it comes back to what people believe is at stake. The interpretations that get you a more liberal Islam are not just difficult because the cases are not well argued, or there isn’t scriptural justifications for them. It also has something to do with the consequences of getting it wrong. If you believe in God and read the Quran and Hadith, it is understandable why you may conduct yourself in a way that doesn’t dovetail with modern society. Whereas if you misinterpret Shakespeare – unless you’re an academic and have written a patently ridiculous interpretation of Shakespeare’s works, that draws ridicule from your peers – then there is not much at stake.

With all that said this book was a thrilling read and – if you will allow me this cliché – a breath of fresh air. They cover a lot of ground from the role of foreign policy to the Regressive left and the differences between Islamism, Jihadism, and conservatism among the world’s Muslims. They touch on belief as drivers of behavior, the challenges of having this conversation in other contexts and locations, what it means for women to have this conversation and so on. You won’t read this book and come away with all the answers to your questions or a blueprint of how to reform Islam. Rather you will go away with a better understanding of the issues, a renewed hope in civil discourse, and the knowledge that you were a small part of what will be seen as the kick starter, for the reform of Islam. Not to take anything away from the many men and women – in some cases children – (Muslim and non-Muslim), who have been working on this front, but I would not be too begrudging if these two gentlemen were most remembered as the founding fathers of this effort.

Two asides:

  • Maajid says in the book that doctrines are the construct of human beings which is true. However, one of those human beings is thought to be a prophet. This legitimizes his interpretation of the word of God more than any ensuing theologian. And if God came down tomorrow and said “hey, ISIS has the right of it, stop bastardizing my words with your liberal interpretation”. What then? This may seem like an insincere question but I assure you I am wholly sincere. After all people readily buy into the idea that God has come down from the heavens on different occasions to deliver his word to the people, utilizing prophets like Moses and Mohammed. If it were to happen again, and that was his message, would we or would Maajid as a Muslim, tell him to go fuck himself. Or would, or rather should we be joining ISIS to defeat the infidels and re-establish the caliphate?
  • Maajid highlights what I consider to be a loophole that gets Muslims out of some the more undesirable edicts in Islam. He mentioned that in one tradition, the prophet Mohammed channeled the word of God and addressed believers stating “Oh, my people if you don’t sin and repent, I will bring a people more blessed than you who will sin and who do repent, because I want your repentance”. This he says led some schools within Islam to advocate for their right to sin. Well one could simply appease Him here. Sure I will drink and attend a strip club in the infidel’s homeland and for this I will repent. Then tomorrow, I and eighteen of my brothers will wage Jihad against the infidel, and if my interpretation of scripture is wrong in this regard, well then I may simply repent for that too. Of course, if God did indeed say that, well what is he playing at? This is another reason why I can’t bring myself to believe in Him. He seems such a contradictory, inconsistent, emotional, reactionary character!
A Review of Islam and the Future of Tolerance