May 2, 2008

Straight Talk About Islam

This blog post was somewhat inspired by Rob Wagner's post, Muslims in Danger of Losing Their Voice, in which Rob argued that non-Muslims and Muslim apostates are calling themselves "experts" on Islam, and that the media and the non-Muslim populace are being taken in by these frauds because, in their minds, the "Insta-Experts™" have "credibility." The potential problem from Rob's perspective is that we Muslims may lose our voice because no one will listen to us, preferring the frauds instead.

I had originally written as a comment to Rob's post:

It's not that Muslims are "losing our voice," per se; it's that you have an extremely gullible non-Muslim populace that's so ignorant about the subject of Islam that: (1) they can't tell which voices are authentic and which voices are not, and (2) they won't accept anything that doesn't pander to their prejudices. The con men, either going under a "progressive" Muslim banner or out-and-out declaring themselves to be apostates, gladly sell their souls for a miserable price. The shame of it all is that this sort of problem has arisen when the masses have lost their ability to think critically. In the meantime, there are plenty of Muslims, individually and collectively, who do speak out and try to mitigate the damage. But until the ignorant masses begin to make an effort to open their minds and seek real understanding about Islam, they will remain the greater fools.

Since I wrote that, back on April 25th, I've actually been rather angry at a number of groups of people and this blog post (and others, insha'allah, in the future) are going to be addressed to them. People claim to like straight talk and this is what I'm going to do, provide some straight talk about Islam. I intend to be blunt, and if you don't like it, too bad. But I do hope that this bluntness will be enough to get it through your skull that Islam and Muslims aren't what you think they are or want them to be, and that most of what you think you know are nothing but lies in the first place.

So, to start off, let's get back to Rob's post:

You're being lied to. If you're a non-Muslim and think that the only "moderate" Muslim voices are the likes of Irshad Manji, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tarek Fatah, Ed Hussein, Wafa Sultan or any other "progressive" Muslim or apostate, then you're a greater fool than I thought. Let me clue you in: these people do not speak for Muslims. They have zero credibility among the Muslim community. These people do not understand Islam and cannot accept Islam as it is. What they want is Islam Lite. Chrislam. Call it whatever you will, it's not ISLAM. It's religion according to their own nafs, their own ego, which is exactly what many people do when they create their own cafeteria religion, picking and choosing what they like and rejecting anything that doesn't fit into their own preconceived notions. If you want to follow your own cafeteria religion, fine, be my guest. But don't expect Muslims to do the same. Which leads to me to my next point.

Islam will never go through a "reformation." Islam doesn't need a reformation. Islam is perfect. Frankly, I don't care what non-Muslims or the "progressive" Muslims and apostates think about Islam. We practice Islam as it is meant to be practiced, not as how non-Muslims or "progressive" Muslims think it should be practiced. Don't like it? Too bad. Think Islam needs to be reformed? Too bad. Until you know and understand Islam as well as we do, we're not going to pay any attention to your criticisms or calls for "reform." Just like the progressives and apostates, you don't have any credibility among us either. You'll impress us more if you try to learn about Islam from an unbiased source. And by the time you get to the point where we think you're knowledgeable enough, you'll probably be agreeing that Islam doesn't need "reforming" as well, insha'allah.

We're not going away. We're not going home to our own countries. For many of us, we are in our own country. Nor can you stick your heads in the sand and pretend that Muslim countries don't exist by stopping all trade and contact with them, as some wingnuts have suggested. Muslims make up 20% of the world's population, and we'll keep on growing, insha'allah. We're not trying to take over the world, as many idiots claim, but we will if non-Muslims don't have babies. That's not our fault; it's yours. We're going to continue having babies whether you like it or not, insha'allah. So deal with us! Get rational, rub those brain cells of yours together, and accept a society with Muslims and Islam in it. If you can't, then you're just a bunch of cowards.

To be continued, insha'allah.

Update: I've put this blog post onto Daily Kos, where it created a mild stir among the people there, primarily due to the fact that the blunt tone of this post made some people upset (and perhaps rightfully so; Kossacks tend to be more sympathetic to Islam than at other websites, so they may have felt that I was attacking them, which was not my intent). However, the good news is that this blog post generated 46 comments there (so far), so you may want to see what the others had to say.

Update #2 (May 22): If you haven't read Marc Manley's post, The Trouble with Muslim Pundits Today, in which he went to a talk by Irshad Manji at the University of Pennsylvania, you should click on that link right now. I've written two comments there as well, but I thought the content of the second one bears repeating here. Manji, Ayaan, and the others whom I criticized in the first section ("You're being lied to"), strike me as being exactly whom the Qur'an talks about in the following ayat:

“To the Hypocrites give the glad tidings that there is for them (but) a grievous penalty;- Yea, to those who take for friends unbelievers rather than believers: is it honor they seek among them? Nay,- all honor is with God.” (4:138-9)

Manji and the others like her criticize Islam not because they have "'the love and desire for the best for her community' that marks genuine reformers," as Dawud noted in his comment (#9), but because they have other, less noble motivations (to put it charitably). They are not so concerned with the Muslim community (except to denigrate it), but to suck up to the non-Muslims, whom they think they will receive "honor" from for being the non-Muslims' useful fool. Truly, all honor is with Allah (swt), and let the liars answer to Him, insha'allah.

14 comments:

Aaminah said...

Asalaamu alaikum brother.

Thank you so much for this.

dramamama said...

Right on!

Safiya Outlines said...

Salaam Alaikum,

Yessss! I am loving the bluntness, keep it coming.

P.S Came here via Aaminah's blog so a hijab flutter for her ;)

Meghan Rose said...

Assalaamu aleykum,
Also came from Aaminah's blog...and I have to thank you for this as well. So well said, and it needs to be.

Ronin said...

i'm not the best muslim around but i think this entry of yours strikes a chord with me nevertheless.

JDsg said...

Ronin:

Salaam 'alaikum. Nor would I say I'm the best Muslim around, not by a long shot. I think part of my problem is that, as an American expat who continues to read a lot of American media (news, blogs, etc.) over the Internet, I've been disturbed over the years at how much ignorance and hatred there is about Islam in Western cultures. And I'm a little tired of pussy-footing around, trying to write nicely about some of the more contentious issues. I thought it was time that certain groups of people (pro-regressive Muslims, Muslim apostates, and the non-Muslim haters) get the message in a clear, unambiguous manner: that all their whining and demands that Islam and Muslims be this and be that will all come to naught, because we're not going to change anything just because they want it that way. And if that can resonate with you, then I'm pleased.

George Carty said...

About the birth rates thing - do you think that environmentalist propaganda about "overpopulation" has anything to do with low birth rates in the West?

Shawna said...

Salaam,

Would you mind also posting this and any follow-up posts on islamonmyside.com?

Please let me know by emailing submissions@islamonmyside.com.

Best,
Shawna

Anonymous said...

Right on !!
This needs to be said.
JazakAllah

Islam is perfect but we individual muslims or muslim societies are not.

Living in India which has a population of more than 125 million muslims, I have noticed a very disturbing trend
Some reactionary hindus have started borrowing from Western critics of Islam and have started spewing the same venom.

spincitysd said...

George Carty;

Quick answer to your rhetorical question. Birth rate march in lockstep to the relative equality of women in the culture. In those cultures where women are relatively equal with men birth rates are low. In cultures where women are seen as chattel birth rates are high. This is true regardless of race, wealth or faith. Bith rates directly correlate to the status of women in the culture.

Please note this is an arguement from culture; Islam is a religion which informs a culture not culture in its self.

Finally this is not the place for discussion about the relative merits and demerits of population control. Since the post is about Islam lets stick to the subject at hand. There will be other opportunities for us to mount our favorite hobby horses later.

JDsg said...

@ spincitysd

Birth rate march in lockstep to the relative equality of women in the culture.

James: Prove it. :)

Finally this is not the place for discussion about the relative merits and demerits of population control. Since the post is about Islam lets stick to the subject at hand. There will be other opportunities for us to mount our favorite hobby horses later.

George sometimes asks questions that are tangential to the post at hand; however, I have never minded having George ask those questions, even if they do go off-topic, in part because of the low volume of comments I receive on my blog, and also because of the quality of George's questions and discussion. In that regard, I don't mind if the comments sometimes veers off topic. However, you may not have noticed that I had already addressed George's question here, so the discussion can go on there if you'd like. BTW, I plan on updating that new post and am thinking of rewriting it for submission over at Daily Kos.

spincitysd said...

It is passing strange that anyone would wish a repeat of the Reformation on another religion. The Reformation was no great thing for Christendom as it tore the European continent asunder.

Some people must have been sleeping in their 16th and 17th European History classes. The Roman Catholic Church for one would have been more than happy if Martin Luther had never been born.

Does Islam need Reformation? It is not for the likes of the AEI to say. Islam, like most faiths struggles with materialism and modernity. As an extra added bonus Islam gets to deal with cultures and peoples gravely injured by colonialism and its evil twin brother Globalization.

Globalization and the consumer culture that rides with it have been especially troublesome. While the Prophet may have layed down the law as far as modesty goes; he never had to deal with the juggernaut that is Mr. Levi Strauss and his hip-hugging jeans. Sparks fly when the Suras meet the speedos.

Modern consumer culture has made hypocrisy so incrediblely easy. One can march in the streets for decency whilst ordering up the most vile porn imaginable for your private viewing "pleasure." The disconnect between public posturing and private behavior is huge.

The danger here is to overcompensate and to devolve into a rigid puritanism. Rigid cultures and rigid religions become brittle. Islam succeeded and succeeds because it was curious. Islam took in the ideas of may peoples and many lands; they even found a way to adapt those Pagan Greek philosophies into the Ummah.

Islam does not need to be Reformed; it does not have to submit to Western Hegemony. It does have to stay flexible though; it must never loose its curious, questing aspect. It must be willing to accept good ideas and notions whatever their coinage.

JDsg said...

Islam does not need to be Reformed; it does not have to submit to Western Hegemony. It does have to stay flexible though; it must never loose its curious, questing aspect. It must be willing to accept good ideas and notions whatever their coinage.

Or as one person wrote on Daily Kos in response to this post over there:

Often when people say "Islam needs a reformation like Christianity", I think what they mean is "Enlightenment". It was the Enlightenment that brought modernity to Christendom.

Actually, Islam had its enlightenment centuries before the west. In a time that historians call the "Garden of Islam" math, science, architecture, and literature flourished in the Islamic world while Christendom suffered through the Dark Ages. Our own Western Classical tradition was largely reintroduced into the western world from the Islamic world.

Islam, in my humble and only partially informed opinion, does not need an Enlightenment. It just needs to try to return to it's previously enlightened state.


Which I completely agree with.

George Carty said...

According to Spiked, it's secular humanism which needs a reformation...